Weekly Reading Round-Up

Sorry! I’m a bit behind today on my posting. It’s been one of those weeks. However, I have read some good books this week, starting with:

The Exile of Sara Stevenson, Darci Hannah.

I’ll be honest. This wasn’t what I expected at all. But what it turned out to be was even better. I met the author last year at a conference, where we bonded over our love of things Scottish. When she told me she had written a Scottish-set Napoleonic historical novel, my mental image was… well, Almack’s with a Scottish accent. Instead, Hannah conjures up the culture of lowland Scotland in a way that’s absolutely flawless. It’s not a world of lairds and plaids, but of hardworking Calvinist bourgeois– the sort of people who have no idea what to do with a high-spirited daughter. There’s also a paranormal twist to it, but I’m not telling what it is, since it will give too much away. Oh, and Sir Walter Scott puts in a guest appearance!

Chapel Noir, Carole Nelson Douglas

A dark, fascinating fin de siecle thriller by the author of Good Night, Mr Holmes. For those who haven’t encountered the Irene Adler books before, I suggest starting with Good Night, Mr. Holmes (although I believe it has also been reprinted under another name– I hate it when that happens). The narrator, Nell, is very much a first cousin to Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody.

Possession, A.S. Byatt

I went through a huge A.S. Byatt kick in college, but it’s been years since I had re-read Possession. As with many books that you loved once, I went into it skeptical, convinced it wouldn’t hold up to my memory. But, yes, it is still that good. Although it’s having a weird effect on my prose, which is starting to want to come out as heavily allegorical Victorian verse.

What have you been reading?


  1. Tracy Grant on December 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Possession is one of my all time favorite books. I read it on a family trip to Hawaii and finished it on the flight home. It’s the only time I’ve wanted a flight to last *longer* so I could finish the book. I’m in awe of how she not only captured the voices of all the characters, she created the two Victorian characters’ poetry.

  2. Sonia on December 12, 2009 at 12:25 am

    The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin…talk about living the life in Regency France!

    Tragic Magic by Laura Childs…mouth watering descriptions of New Orleans food and a fun mystery to boot. Great escape!

    In the middle of reading “Vanilla: Travels of the Ice Cream Orchid” by Tim Ecott. It’s well written and well researched. Makes me want to search out some good vanilla ice cream!

  3. Carole Nelson Douglas on December 12, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Thanks to Google Alerts I found your site and can confirm that Good Night, Mr. Holmes is the book’s original and current title. It was just reissued Nov. 10 in its first trade paperback edition.

    The next three Irene Adler book titles were indeed changed later. A bigger publisher came along after the first two Adler books’ title format had been established and used the same same style of title . . . with the name Irene yet, causing considerable confusion in reviews and distribution.

    (I hate it when that happens too and it happens a lot more than it should nowadays. I’ve had another series unique cover design style blatantly “poached” also, with the result that we changed the cover style at my suggestion.)

    When the first four Adler books were reissued in the early 2000s, Good Night, Mr. Holmes remained the same but the next three books received new titles referencing the Doyle story in which Irene appeared, “A Scandal in Bohemia.”

    # 2, Good Morning, Irene became The Adventuress (what Watson called her)
    # 3 Irene at Large became A Soul of Steel (What Holmes said she was made of)
    and # 4 Irene’s Last Watltz became Another Scandal in Bohemia.

    The last four of the eight Irene Adler novels are the Jack the Ripper duology, Chapel Noir and Castle Rouge, and the 1881 NYC-set Femme Fatale and Spider Dance.

    Thanks for reminding readers of this series and letting me set the record straight on the title issue.

  4. Allison on December 12, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    hmm…well I’m a big baby who holds a grudge. I have refused to read Byatt ever since I read her scathing Harry Potter article. *shrugs* I know its silly of me.

    I discovered Catherine Coulter’s FBI series last week and have been reading them all like crazy ever since. Great romantic thrillers (especially #2, The Maze).

  5. am7 on December 13, 2009 at 1:06 am

    glad to see some else on these blogs likes Harry Potter
    for months I thought I was the only one. Wish I had time. for now rereading among other things No Wind of Blame my favorite Heyer murder mystery (so far)

  6. Cho on December 14, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Rereading your books, Lauren, and also Wharton’s “The Glimpses of the Moon”.

    And this, which while not a book was still very, very entertaining: http://www.much-ado.net/austenbook/

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