Weekly Reading Round-Up

I’ve been reading some new (or, at least, new to me) books this week, starting with:

— Susan Elia MacNeal, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

I’ve been hearing such good things about this series, and, fortuitously, received the first of the lot for my birthday last week. An American-raised heroine inherits a house in England– and finds herself there in the thick of World War II. A very vivid depiction of war-torn London and a compelling spy story.

— Deanna Raybourn, A Spear of Summer Grass.

You may have heard about this book here a time or two…. This is Deanna’s Kenya 1920s book, about scandal-ridden socialite Delilah Drummond, who is exiled to Kenya until the latest gossip dies down, and finds far more there than she expects. Stay tuned for an interview with Deanna and a give-away here on the website later this month!

— Caroline Llewellyn, Life Blood.

Courtesy of my wonderful and brilliant college roommate (if there were such a thing as a Used Books Whisperer, that would be she), this is an early 90s Gothic about a Canadian book illustrator who inherits a cottage in England. I’m only about halfway through, but it reminds me, in a very good way, of my favorite Susanna Kearsley novels.

What have you been reading this week?


  1. Heather on April 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve been re-reading Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I’m currently on the last of the original 8, “On the Way to the Wedding.” Should finish that soon, then on to the short story collection. After that, “The Ashford Affair!”

  2. Céline on April 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Was it your birthday last week? Well, a very happy – although belated – birthday to you!!! I hope you received a shameful amount of presents!!!

    I did not read that much this week, what with Easter and a trip to an International Dark Sky Reserve here in Quebec… but I managed to finish a book dealing with the education of girls in the 18th century and am in the middle of a “time-travel” story in which a divorcing couple and their two children fall asleep in 2012 and wakes up in a small French town in 1980 (accidentally bringing along the two bugglars that were breaking into their house that night)… kind of fun!

    • Gina on April 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      What was the book on girls’ education in the 18th cent? Fiction or nonfiction?

      • Céline on April 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

        Gina, it was non fiction, and written in French (I forget to mention that it was about the education of French girls, and mostly in Paris between 1700 and 1792).
        Would you still like the title?

        I was kind of amazed – and almost shocked – to learn how girls’ intruction was so poor compared to men’s instruction – even if we are in the century of the enlightenment! I would have thought they had access to better school, but no! I have to dig further on that subject, though, because I found the book lacking on some subject that were of interest to me (I need to do research on how a young aristocrat would have been instructed in France just before the revolution)

        • Lauren on April 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm

          I would love the title! Did you see the (very dark) movie that came out several years ago about a girls’ school during the Ancien Regime? I think it was St. Cyr, or something like that….

          • Céline on April 6, 2013 at 9:35 am

            It’s an old book published in 1987 that based the facts and deductions on the ledgers of the covents and the correspondance that the historians dug out from girls that spent one or more year in one or the other schools. It deals with rich covents and poor girl and orphan schools, gives you precise details about the money that was spent on class material, and what was the contents of the education (mostly religious, apparently, even purely religious sometimes).
            It’s written by Martine Sonnet and is entitled L’éducation des filles au siècle des Lumières.
            I borrowed another one from the Library at the same time : L’éducation des filles, XVIIIe – XXIe siècle, Hommage à Françoise Mayer, a collective book published as a special edition of the Histoire de l’Éducation magazine…

            Lauren, I haven’t seen the movie you’re refering to but I’d love to! Any chance you remember the name?

            Gina, I hope you’ll find it and you’ll like it!

        • Gina on April 5, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          Yeah, that sounds fascinating! I also speak some French and need the reading practice.

  3. Sherri on April 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    With a 15-month-old at home, I only get to read one book a week at night with a book light. This week, I read “Betrayal of the Blood Lily” and hope to finish it tonight. Then, I’m going to read “The Haunting of Maddy Clare.” You’re recommendation, Lauren, inspired me to get it. 🙂

    • Lauren on April 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Yay! I hope you like it. (“Maddy Clare”, I mean.) I really liked both that book and her second one, “An Inquiry into Love and Death”.

      • Sherri on April 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

        I want to read her second one, too. You inspired me with the picture of your box of books you posted a few months ago. I just have to buy it. 🙂

  4. Gina on April 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I just started Game of Thrones and have been stuck doing too much homework all week to read much of it (read: I’m in agony). It’s good stuff.

    Finished some Kristan Higgins last week – Next Best Thing, and Fools Rush In. I enjoyed them, but they somehow weren’t what I expected. Especially Next Best Thing, which brought me down. What’s a good, happy one of hers?

  5. Angie on April 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I’m reading To Marry an English Lord. Not only do I need a Downton Abbey fix, but I figure it’s time to start thinking about my future.

    • Julie H on April 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Lol, Angie! If you find a stash of English lords, let me know. I need to think about my future, too.

      • Lauren on April 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm

        Website field trip? I’ll play chaperone. : )

      • Angie on April 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

        Will do, Julie!

  6. Sharon on April 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I just finished Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman. Non fiction work of Nellie Bly/Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world. It was excellent. Jane Green’s Family Pictures is up next. I loved Mr. Churchill’s Secretary but the second one-Princess Elizabeth’s Spy really disappointed me.

  7. Diane on April 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Happy belated birthday!!!
    Currently reading “Tea and Bee’s Milk: Our year in a Turkish Village” by Karen and Ray Gilden
    Finished rereading an old favorite “A Play of Treachery” by Margaret Frazer from the Joliffe series

  8. Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on April 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Well… let’s see. For school I read a pleathora of books on Johannes Gutenberg (yes, THE Gutenberg) for a presentation I have in my Letterpress class. Most where horrid, and all of them contradictory, it was most annoying.

    After that I finished my book club selection, The Leftovers, about people left after the “rapture” happens. It was very flat and all the women handles crisis the same way, ie, changed their hair.

    Finished up Mark of the Lion, fun Kenyan mystery if a little predictable.

    Now I’m reading the new Mary Robinette Kowal book which I’m sure EVERYONE will love, it’s like Jane Austen with magic, total Regency crack. The newest is Without a Summer, SO GOOD!

    • Lauren on April 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      How did I not hear about these Kowal books? It sounds very “Sorcery & Cecelia”!

    • Am7 on April 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      It’s probably too late to comment, but the RAPTURE happens and the women react by changing their HAIR? Seriously? The end of the world as we know it happens and the people go out and get haircuts? Am I missing something?

  9. Christine on April 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    I also read “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” recently and enjoyed it. Not the most complex mystery I’ve ever read, but fun.

    This week I read “Beautiful Ruins.” I think it was recommended by someone on this site. It was really beautifully written. I wasn’t too thrilled with the ending – a little bit of the plot but mostly the style of writing was a bit of a let down after how wonderfully the rest of the book was written.

  10. Alice on April 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    I just finished the first two books in the ” City of Mystery” series by Kim Wright. Forensic procedural mysteries set in 1889. First set in London during Jack the Ripper. Well written and an excellent cast of characters. Different too which is always a nice change of pace.

  11. Sheila on April 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Well, thanks to my Kindle, a long road trip and some time off from work, I have read a lot–the 6 book house for the Season series, my all time fav Marion Chesney, 2 Phillipa Gregorys, the White Queen and The Lady of the Rivers, Giant George, about the worls’s bibbest dog, Quinn’s Happily Ever After anthology, and Michael Robertson’s The Baker Street Translation….whew…it’s back to work today…so a big slow down coming.

  12. Sheila on April 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Well, thanks to my Kindle, a long road trip and some time off from work, I have read a lot–the 6 book house for the Season series, my all time fav Marion Chesney, 2 Phillipa Gregorys, the White Queen and The Lady of the Rivers, Giant George, about the worlds’s biggest dog, Quinn’s Happily Ever After anthology, and Michael Robertson’s The Baker Street Translation….whew…it’s back to work today…so a big slow down coming.

  13. Joanne M. on April 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    For some very strange reason I have been craving big-fat-door-stopper sagas, so I recently read Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman (a must read for Shadow of the Moon and The Far Pavilion fans). I now have Edward Rutherfurd’s latest saga, Paris! And patiently waiting for The Ashford Affair….kindle button is on speed dial for April 9th!

  14. Joanne M. on April 5, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Whoops! Make that “I now have ordered…”

  15. Mary R. on April 5, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I’ve been reading The Garden Intrigue. Love! I had been reading stuff on the Irish Potato Famine to get ready to take some students to Ireland this summer. But, it exhausted me so I needed something pleasurable to take my mind off it.

  16. Lynne on April 6, 2013 at 12:08 am

    I’ve started “Blood Lily” and have to admit that it’s not as captivating as your previous books, Lauren. However, I’ll keep going because you never disappoint. I’m also reading “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton – just excellent.

  17. Trish on April 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I picked up The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman last weekend at my local library. Not sure why, not my “normal” thing – but I am addicted to PBS’s Call the Midwife, so maybe that had something to do with it! Needless to say I am really glad I did – its set in Depression Era West Virgina, and the main character Patience (not her real name, but I won’t give too much away)ended up being a Midwife by chance. I was completely caught up in her story — have to recommend a book like that!

  18. Jeffrey on April 7, 2013 at 7:14 am

    I read The novella Five Kisses by Karly Darcy and enjoyed it so much I eMailed the author and told her so. In return, I was gifted with an ARC of her new novel The Divided Hearts. It reminds me, in a way of your Garden Intrigue but the hero in this one is an American who is spying on the British just prior to the war of 1812 in Rhode Island. The heroine is an English noble lady who cannot quite figure out why this irresistible young man seems to have a double personality! The story is working…..boy is it ever working!

  19. Michelle Springer on April 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I just read “Mr. Churhill’s Secretary” myself. Noe I want to read “Princess Elizabeth’s Spy” the next in the series.

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