Weekly Reading Round-Up

Welcome to the last reading round-up of the old year! Next time we convene our virtual salon, it will be 2012. Bizarre, no?

As the old year barreled to a close, this is what I was reading:

— Eve Stachniak, The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great.

Catherine’s ascension seen through the eyes of a bookbinder’s daughter who becomes a court ward– a less glamorous position than it sounds. I enjoyed this book greatly. It reminded me a bit of Anne-Marie Selinko’s Désirée, history seen from the sidelines.

— Rosemary Baird, Mistress of the House: Great Ladies and Grand Houses.

A non-fiction tour through the domestic arrangements of the grande dames of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, exploring the role of women in creating the great houses we associate with the eighteenth century.

— Eloisa James, A Kiss at Midnight.

I so enjoyed When Beauty Tamed the Beast that it seemed past time to go back and try the first of James’ fairy tale books.

— Dorothy Sayers, Murder Must Advertise.

Lord Peter Wimsey. Need I say more? I tend to reread the ones that include Harriet Vane a fair amount (especially Gaudy Night), but the purely Lord Peter books get neglected.

Is it just me, or do you bet that if Dorothy Sayers were writing now, someone would write the Harriet Vane books, a la Castle?

— Josephine Tey, A Shilling for Candles.

I was thrilled to discover that Josephine Tey had written more than The Daughter of Time. I discovered Man in the Queue in a mystery bookshop in Hay on Wye this summer and gleefully pounced on A Shilling for Candles, The Franchise Affair and Miss Pym Disposes in my favorite used bookshop (in Putnam County, just outside Cold Spring) the day before Christmas.

The used bookstore also had a lovely hardcover of Pink I! I didn’t buy that, but I did sign it for them. So if anyone is looking for one….

What have you been reading?


  1. jeffrey on December 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Lauren: I’m constantly astonished by the sheer volume of books you devour!

    I just finished Rilla Of Ingleside, the final installment of L M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. Ms Montgomery has quietly become one of my very favorite authors, right behind JA. The story tore my heart apart, then put it back together again. Oh the emotional ups and downs!

    I’m currently on about page 300 of Frances Burney’s formidible 950+ page Cecilia: Memoirs of an Heiress. Burney does NOT disappoint! What an incredible talent she was.

  2. Céline on December 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Do you own an ereader, Lauren? Because if you do, you must read Storming the castle, the novella associated with A kiss at midnight! Great great read! And Winning the wallflower, the novella associated with The Duke Is Mine, which came out last Tuesday! Butterflies in the stomach garantied! 🙂

    Concerning my readins, I re-read Boy Meet Girl, by Meg Cabot. A kind of e-epistolary chick lit book, very very funny, highly recommend it, then I read The Mystery of the blue train by Lady Agatha (great book too!) and To Sir Philip, with love, Julia Quinn. A nice and comfy week of reading!
    I’m about to start And Only To Deceive… 🙂

  3. Sheila on December 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I enjoyed Rhys Bowen’s Naughty in Nice, but like some others here, I am ready for some changes and progress, both romantic and otherwise in Georgy’s life.

    Also read MC Beaton’s latest Agatha, As the Pig Turns, one of the best of her recent books. At least Agatha has developed insight. Hamish is stuck in a rut, I think.

    Something different, The Butterfly Cabinet, by Bernie McGill. This is a character study, a fictional treatment of a real-life child abuser in the nineteenth century. Beautifully
    written and thoughtful on many levels.

    I don’t go to the movie theater very often, but highly recommend War Horse.

  4. Kathy on December 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Your books! I picked up “The Mischief of the Mistletoe” at our local Sam’s Club. I loved it so much that I downloaded “Crimson Rose” and “Night Jasmine” to my Kindle (because you noted that they bookended “Mistletoe) and was so drawn into the characters I ordered all the rest from Amazon! I’m just about to start “Blood Lily” and “Orchid “Affair is due to arrive today.

  5. Kathy on December 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Sorry! Not used to my Fire yet and I have fat fingers. I was going to say that it’s been a great week, snuggled on the couch with a cup of tea and your books. I’m looking forward to my copy of “Garden Intrigue” in February. I’m so glad that an impulse Sam’s purchase introduced me to you. Have a Happy New Year filled with great writing.

  6. HJ on December 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

    My goodness! I am so jealous that you have Josephine Tey’s books ahead of you. One of my all-time favorite books is Brat Farrar, which is just fantastic. And if you like The Man in the Queue then you’ll like The Singing Sands, which also stars Inspector Grant and Scotland.

    Did you know that Tey was a successful playwright? (under the name Gordon Daviot). She had long-running plays on in London, which adds to the piquancy of The Man in the Queue, as from reading it you can appreciate just how important the theatre was to ordinary Londoners in the 1920s, before TV.

  7. Christine on December 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I’ve been slow with the reading lately. Finally finished “Sweet Revenge” by Andrea Penrose. Still on tap: “The Cocoa Conspiracy” also by Andrea Penrose and Tracy Grant’s “Imperial Scandal.”

  8. Sharon on December 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I finished Threadbare by Monica Ferris on the drive home from visiting family. I am into the second course of Aftertaste-a novel in five courses by Meredith Mileti. So far it is really good!

  9. Gina on December 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Umm…sorry if something from me shows up twice, but I can’t see it…
    In case my other post stopped existing, I just wanted to say that everyone in the world should read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer because it’s fantastic and beautiful.

  10. Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on December 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I just started the Brenda and Effie books by Paul Magrs. The series is based on the idea of The Bride of Frankenstein running and B&B in Whitby, England (where the Demeter crashed in Dracula) and having all these paranormal happenings. So fun, can’t wait to read them all, Never the Bride is the first.

    I also read the second Green Knowe book, The Treasure of Green Knowe, which was so sweet, and was the one that Julian Fellowes based the movie Time After Time on.

    And I finished Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which I hated with a passion. Stupid college students. I must read/watch too many mysteries, because 300 some pages of them questioning killing just got on my nerves. Kill and be done already!

  11. leslie on December 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    My niece and I were looking at The Pinks in my library on Christmas. She’s 15 and not much of a pleasure reader. She loved the cover of Mischief and wanted to see more. I remember having the same response when first seeing TSHPC on the new book shelf at my local library. The historical covers are all so beautiful. It’s funny that The Orchid Affair is my fave, and yet I’ve never liked the cover.
    So, Skye reads the first 3 books in one week and loved them. I’m so proud!

    By the way, I loved Mischief. I now understand everyone’s unconditional love and adoration for Turnip.

  12. aniko on December 30, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    @leslie I love your anecdote about your niece. So nice!

    Lauren, I have to ask again: How fast do you read? It’s amazing you go through so many books in a week. I’m jealous. I knew someone once who could do that, but the ones you read sound so much more fun than hers. 😉

    I’ve been reading slowly. So, for a couple of weeks I’ve been working off and on on the very short ‘Diary of Anna Green Winslow,’ and have been laughing out loud at ‘What Would Barbra Do, How Musicals Changed My Life by Emma Brockes which is snarky (not my fave thing) but funnnnnny.

    Love these reading round-ups!

  13. Anwen on December 31, 2011 at 4:52 am

    I’ve decided to finish 2011 with a tired and trusted favourite- Naomi Noviks ‘Victory of Eagles’ A force of dragons begin to fight back at Napoleon when he finally invades England! Cannot count how many times I’ve read it, but I’m taking it slow this time to make sure I finish it tonight!

    Really excited to read some of the books suggested here though- bring on 2012 and it’s reading round ups!

  14. Jessica C on December 31, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I went back and re-read all the Twilight books. I read them before all the Twihard mania hit and thought they were ok, but after the horrors of the first movie (so bad) my view of the books had been coloured. I wanted to see if they were as bad as I had come to think of them. Turns out that the books are funnier (unintentionally!) than I remembered them.

    Also finished The Golden Ass – started it a month ago, ‘lost’, and found three days ago (the book somehow ended up in my wardrobe. Not sure how that happened). Very bawdy and, for a supposed morality tale, not very moral.

    Am now part-way through Holy Fools by Joanne Harris. Quite good so far

  15. Pam on December 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I read Comfort and Joy by India Knight, which was like a big plate of Christmas cookies, and then had my long-awaited sit-down with Deanna Raybourn’s The Dark Enquiry. I am so sad that it is not only over but is the last new book from her for a year and a half (and potentially the last in the series if her publisher doesn’t ask for more). Nooooooo.

  16. Jessica Mac on January 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Read Vienna Waltz and fell head over heels!! I’m about half way through Beneath a Silent Moon. So glad I got turned on to Tracy Grant from the comments on here!! Happy New Year everyone!!

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