Weekly Reading Round-Up
Finally! I have something other than Dorothy Sayers and Evelyn Waugh to report. This week, I caught up on some of the book pile, starting with:
— Here I Go Again, by Jen Lancaster: a clever take on the trope of the aging prom queen, in which one aging prom queen revisits her past to try to rectify the mistakes of her youth;
— and The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret, by Catherine Bailey: highly recommended to anyone who likes the research aspect of the Pink books. It follows the author’s researches as she tracks down a historical puzzle piece by piece. You know how they talk about police procedurals? This book is a research procedural. (I found the process by which she discovered the story more interesting than the actual secret.)
In the meantime, a pile of new books arrived for me, including Donna Thorland’s The Rebel Pirate, Susanna Kearsley’s Splendour Falls, Charles Finch’s The Last Enchantments, and an ARC of Beatriz Williams’s The Secret Life of Violet Grant.
What have you been reading this week?
The Disremembered Man by Christine McKenna, a funny, intense story of two lost soulmates who come together in a surprise way. Also a fabulous depiction of Ireland in the early 60’s.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Run, a funny memoir of Peter Allison’s days as a guide in Africa’s nature parks.
The Westerby Inheritance, by Marion Chesney. This was somewhat disappointing in the abrupt end, but there is a sequel. I started it, but she changed the characters’ names, which is a little off-putting!
I’m in the middle of The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch. So far, I like his Lenox mysteries better. Not for those who don’t like to read books with F-bombs left and right. I don’t think I will have a full opinion of this book until I finish it, as so far I am undecided as to whether I like the book or not. I keep wondering how much of it is autobiographical, and I keep hoping that not very much of it is. lol
I am Malala. I got it from the library and I think I’m in the mood for it. Or a Victoria Holt. We’ll see how my reading mood is.
I’ve been reading Kearsley’s Winter Sea (my first of hers) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I seem to recall a discussion on here of which of her books are connected somehow– could someone remind me?
Hi Gina! Winter Sea is directly connected to The Firebird. The Firebird is also tangentially connected to Shadowy Horses. Shadowy Horses and Winter Sea are not related at all. It helps if you read Shadowy Horses before The Firebird, but not necessary.
To make it easier, here’s a chart of how I recommend you read the 3 books:
Winter Sea -> Shadowy Horses -> The Firebird
Have fun! Her books are fantastic!
Finished Empty Mansions, about the wildly wealthy, extremely reclusive life of copper heiress Hugette Clark. Just started Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.
I finished The Beacon at Alexandria and thought it was absolutely incredible, I’m so crushed it’s over! However, it does mean that I now get to read the latest installment of Charles Finch’s Charles Lenox series, An Old Betrayal, which is always like sitting down to a cup of tea with an old friend.
This week I found, Come Love a Stranger by Woodiwiss in a used bookstore. A fun hobby my baby sister started me on; Woodiwiss scavenger hunts.
Not my favorite of hers but a fun read as always.
I read two kind books that were okay but not great:
Pretend You Don’t See Her by Mary Higgins Clark
The Boyfriend of The Month Club by Maria Geraci
Black Amber by Phyllis Whitney. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story but I thought the romance was abrupt and forced. I also read Where Shadows Dance C.S. Harris. I think I like the Sebastian St. Cyr books more the further I get into the series.
I’m deep into an ARC of A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman, about the last years of Richard the Lionheart. Before that I read a few Alex Beecroft novellas, Blessed Isle, By Honor Betrayed, and His Heart’s Obsession.
I have read most of Penman’s books. She has several about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane and their Devil’s Brood (right before Lionheart). I especially like the trilogy beginning with Here Be Dragons – one can almost understand the youngest of their brood, King John, in this book. All three in this trilogy have a double story going on involving the rulers of Wales as well as England. Love her medieval mysteries too, which are a good bit shorter than her other novels.
I’m still working on the Mitford biography, which is really at the annoying me stage because there are so many inaccuracies AND the author is moving events around to suit her needs (just look to the footnotes, because events that happen in 1940 or 1937 are now in 1938, wth!)
So for a break I started The Yellow King, because I want to watch True Detective and this book is tied into the plot. The first short story is very very odd.
I am up the 2nd last chapter of The Silent Partner by Lee Goldberg, which is a sequel to one of my favourite TV series Diagnosis Murder. In the past I have found books based on TV shows disappointing but this one is terrific and captures the characters and atmosphere of the series really well. And it is a great mystery.
I also read Whisper Of Jasmine, which I thoroughly enjoyed. City Of Jasmine is next, which I am really looking forward to.
I read The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff. It is about a lawyer that tries to figure out what really happened to a client during WWII so that she can help defend him against charges that he gave information to the Nazis that led to the deaths of Jews and people trying to help them. It flashes back and forth between 2009 and 1943. Between the WWII sections and the hunt for information and discussion of international criminal law, I had very high hopes for this book. It was alright, but mostly improbable. It felt rushed, like there was a preset page limit that she was trying to fill up and not take the story any further. A lot was left unexplained. I was disappointed in it. Her other books have received a lot of attention, so I am hoping they will be better.
I like all of her books, but I often find myself wishing they were better. I agree with your thoughts on The Things We Cherished. I think my favorite was Almost Home, and the sequel, A Hidden Affair, was satisfying in terms of having a conclusion to the story, but wasn’t as good of a book, if that makes sense.
I tried to post this yesterday and my comment got eaten, so I hope this works. I’m reading an ARC of “Clara” that I won on Goodreads. It’s about an Austrian woman in the 1930s, flashing back and forth to present day. There hasn’t been a ton of plot movement in the present day so I’m not quite sure if it’s going anywhere or if it’s just a mechanism for showing the reader where she is now, but it’s been a really interesting story about life in Austria in the 1930s, leading up to and during WWII.
I’m in the middle of reading The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by LC Tyler. The book was nominated for an Edgar Award.
Ethelred Tressider, a B-list crime writer, and Elsie Thirkettle, his irritating literary agent, get embroiled in the mystery of his dead ex-wife. It’s light entertainment with some really witty lines and observations.
I’ve read the Black Hawk, which I think is number 4 in Joanna Bourne’s series (I found it in the library, hence skipping straight to four). I enjoyed it even more than The SpyMaster’s Lady. I also continued a mini Georgette Heyer re-reading craze by reading Frederica – reading it again, I was surprised by how much was told from Alverstoke’s point of view, which I had always thought of as a modern phenomenon. I’m also reading Family Britain, which is the second in David Kynaston’s fantastic social history of Britain post-world war II onwards. This one covers 1951-57 and was fascinating. I’d really recommend this series for anyone researching the period or who just has an interest in British social history.
I finished Adriana Trigiani’s Valentine trilogy – the final book, The Supreme Macaroni Factory, came out in December. I enjoyed rereading the first two, and then finishing the trilogy. Adriana writes authentically about Italian – American family life in most of her books, with her characters often traveling to Italy. In the Valentine trilogy which begins with Very Valentine, Valentine Roncalli, a single woman in her early thirties, is trying to juggle her career, family, and love life. She is determined to save the family business, a custom shoemaking shop begun in 1903 by her great grandfather. Her story is told with humor, compassion, and emotion. Trigiani makes her characters very real -the dialogue and storyline are very believable.
Also read Deanna Raybourn’s Whisper of Jasmine and started City of Jasmine.