Weekly Reading Round-Up

I’ve finally begun digging into that book pile! Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

— Susanna Kearsley, The Splendour Falls

I stumbled on Susanna Kearsley’s books when I was in grad school, via Season of Storms. I got my hands on The Shadowy Horses and Named of the Dragon right away, but The Splendor Falls eluded me. I haunted the used book section of the Harvard Book Store hoping an old UK copy might turn up. And now, after all this time, it’s finally in print in the U.S. Think classic Mary Stewart… a French village, an Englishwoman on holiday, a mysterious vineyard owner, an equally mysterious musician, and two layers of historical mystery. (Of course, speaking of Mary Stewart, now I want to go and re-read Madam, Will You Talk?. And I have no idea what I did with my old copy.)

— Donna Thorland, The Rebel Pirate

Get ready for swashbuckling adventure! In the tradition of Heyer’s Mary Challoner (Devil’s Cub), we have a heroine who holds a pistol on the hero at first meeting. For good reason, of course. Donna has a knack for writing strong but sympathetic heroes and heroines– but what really shone for me in this book were the descriptions of life in 1770s Boston and Salem. Donna spent many years at the Peabody Essex museum in Salem and she knows her details, right down to the brown porcelain on the parlor table and the pins in the heroine’s bodice.

— Simone St. James, Silence for the Dead

Simone St. James has become my new must-have author. All I’ll say for now is that Silence for the Dead, set in an eerie old mansion turned lunatic asylum post WW I, absolutely lived up to expectations. More about Silence for the Dead on Monday, when we’ll have a give-away!

What have you been reading this week?


  1. Céline on March 14, 2014 at 11:22 am

    This week, I’ve been reading The River of no return (finally!!!). I was able to get my hands on it at the library and I’m really really enjoying it!!!

    • Christine on March 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      I’m jealous! The River of No Return is so fantastic that I envy those who get to enjoy it for the first time.

  2. Anne Smittle on March 14, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Fiction:Deanna Raybourn’s City of Jasmine.
    My nonfiction is: How we got the bible.

  3. Christine on March 14, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I read City of Jasmine, which was fantastic. I love Deanna Raybourn’s heroines – so spunky and not willing to let anyone tell them what to do.

    I’m currently reading The Pink Suit, an ARC I won on Goodreads. I think it comes out in April. It’s about an Irish seamstress who works in the dress shop that made the pink suit that Jackie Kennedy wore the day of the assassination. I like the story, though the writing feels a bit disjointed at times, and it doesn’t cast the most flattering picture of Mrs. Kennedy. I’m much more interested in Kate, the main character, than I am about Jackie.

    • Christine on March 14, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      Edit: I finished The Pink Suit and it really grew on me. I can’t quite put my finger on why I wasn’t so crazy about the beginning, but it got a lot better. I LOVE books that are fictionalized versions of true events, and there were plenty of real life characters in the book. I would definitely recommend this one.

  4. Sheila on March 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Lady Almina, the Real Downton Abbey, by the current Countess Carnarvon, very interesting.

    The Seducer, by Madeline Hunt, the premise a bit different, enjoyed it.

    Talk of the Ton, a fun anthology of 4 novellas, one by Eloisa James, based on the idea of how gossip effects actions.

    The Hundred Foot Journey, a wonderful novel by G Morais about how an Indian immigrant to France becomes a great chef.

  5. Lianne on March 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I loved Splendor Falls, and I completely agree with the connection to Mary Stewart. Susanna Kearsely was my greatest find last year. I’m “re-reading” it via audio book right now.

  6. Pam on March 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I read Dark Desires (Eve Silver), feeling in need of some non-demanding and escapist reading to ease the horror of looming deadlines. I thought it was really fun and silly in all the right ways. As Jack the Ripper haunts Whitechapel, Darcie Finch enters the household of the mysterious, tortured, and obviously dreamy anatomist Dr. Damien Cole as a maid, but when her talent for drawing is discovered she soon becomes his assistant and illustrator. Is Damien the Ripper or is he just really, really hot? I was pretty impressed with Silver’s writing as well as the plot, think a more R-rated Victoria Holt. I’ll check out more of her gothics for sure.

  7. Am7 on March 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I read:
    The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
    The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren
    The Rosie Project, which was my favorite of these three.

  8. Elizabeth Lefebvre on March 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I read Diana Mitford’s autobiography “A Life of Contrasts” and I gotta say, now my most hated Mitford. Yeah… easily my most hated Mitford.

    Then I read the new Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson book, “Night Broken,” which was full of fun werewolf and vampire battles, and a volcano god!

    Now, before heading back in to read more Nancy Mitford, I’m doing a cleanse by reading a Sophie Kinsella book, “The Undomestic Goddess” which I’m rather enjoying, which is a nice surprise because I have some issues with her Shopaholic series.

  9. Ella on March 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Waiting for four books to arrive, that I discovered on this website.
    Secrets of a Lady
    The Shadowy horses
    Beauty, and
    Snow white and rose red

    Each week my list grows. Thanks!

  10. Kristen Allen-Vogel on March 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I read ARCs of The Quick by Lauren Owen and Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke, which were both fantastic. I started Dark Eden by Chris Beckett but it was too heavy handed for me, so I’ll start something new tomorrow.

  11. Suzanne on March 14, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I read City Of Jasmine and C.S. Harris’s Why King’s Confess. They were both absolutely terrific!! Great characters, historical depth and storylines. I am now counting the days until Teresa Grant’s The Berkeley Square Affair arrives.

    • Betty S. on March 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      I wanted to tell you about a book that you might be interested in, in light of the discussion around the swashbuckling giveaway. S J Parris writes a series of Elizabethan era mystery/intrigue books starring real life ex-monk Giordano Bruno who has escaped to England after leaving the monastery. He is involved in several thrillers with his friend Sir Philip Sydney (who also was a real historical figure). I just checked Parris’s website last night to see when the next book would be released and found it is out now and is based around Sir Francis Drake, who is about to leave on a voyage when a murder is discovered aboard his ship that may affect his whole family. The book is Treachery – check out the trailer on her website. I have read all three of her previous books and had been waiting for this one.

      • Nancy Kvorka on March 15, 2014 at 3:55 pm

        Is this by chance the same monk mentioned in the new Cosmos series on Fox and NatGeo?

        I read City of Jasmine a few days after it came out. I was wonderful.

        Sounds like I need to check out the new Heyer biography too. Thanks for that post.

        • Betty S. on March 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm

          I just googled it and Bruno is the same monk mentioned in that series. His scientific and literary views were ahead of his time and the reason he was declared a heretic. This series could also be mentioned under an earlier topic about literary twists because there is a search for a missing scientific book that has great knowledge/powers in two of these books.

      • Suzanne on March 15, 2014 at 10:52 pm

        Thanks Betty, that sounds really interesting. I will have a look for it.

  12. Christina on March 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    It’s spring break here and not much reading has occurred. I’m about a 1/3 through Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois. It’s loosely based on the Amanda Know story & is reminding a bit of Gillian Flynn.

  13. Lynne on March 14, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I’m just finishing “An Old Betrayal” by Charles Finch – an excellent mystery writer and this one doesn’t disappoint. And I just my copy of “Why Kings Confess” (C S Harris) which I’m very excited to begin. I’m also compiling a list of good fiction set in or around WW1 for my book club. (Suggestions welcome!)

    • Suzanne on March 15, 2014 at 7:12 am

      Lynne, I have seen lots of documentaries and movies about WWI but haven’t come across many novels. I do however have two series that I have read many times, K.M. Peyton’s Flambards trilogy and John Buchan’s Richard Hannay series. The Flambards books are a little like Downton Abbey with a lot more aeroplanes. The Hannay books begin with The Thirty Nine Steps but get right into WWI with the next two, Greenmantle and Mr Standfast. There is also the Biggles series by Captain W.E. Johns which a bit boys own but lots of fun.

    • Alice on March 15, 2014 at 10:03 am

      “Somewhere in France” by Jennifer Robson is excellent. Also “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear. It is the first in the Maisie Dobbs series, and, the best one I think.

    • Pat D on March 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      I’m reading Somewhere in France right now and it is good. I’d also suggest Anne Perry’s WW1 series of five books, beginning with No Graves as Yet. Charles Todd has two series: Ian Rutledge is a WW1 veteran with Ptsd issues; Bess Crawford is a nurse during the war. Barbara cleverly has 2 series which take place with WW1 veterans: Joe Sandilands and Letitia something. Sorry my memory failed! Both are good. Elizabeth Speller has 2 books: The Return of Captain John Emmett and The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton. Again, postwar. Same with Frances Brody, but hers focuses on a war widow. Rennie Airth has a good 3 book series, so far, about John Madden which begins postwar and goes into WWII. The first book is River of Darkness. There is Overseas by Beatriz Williams.
      Oh, The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd is a stand alone that takes place during the war. Almost all of these books are mysteries. Hope that helps.

    • Betty S. on March 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      I read The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd and thought it was really good. Also, In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl is a time lapse book going back to WWI and a group of female Scottish doctors and nurses who established a hospital in France (real event). Letters From Skye stars just before WWI and is time lapse between WWII and WWI – mostly WWI. I really loved this book.

    • Lynne on March 15, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks to all of you for suggestions. Some are already on my list and I’m adding some more. Won’t my book club be surprised to hear what nice and helpful friends I have online. As I told Suzanne, I suggested reading something about the WW1 era and how it affected society. Of course our moberator said “Make a list of ideas” and thats how it all began…You all are great!

      • Lynne on March 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

        …and someday I’ll learn how to type…

        • Lauren on March 15, 2014 at 11:42 pm

          Oooh, if you want something about how WW I affected society, try Juliet Nicolson’s “The Great Silence”, about England in 1920– nonfiction, but very readable.

          • Lynne on March 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm

            That would be perfect – it’s going on my list right now! Thanks, Lauren.

      • Suzanne on March 16, 2014 at 1:36 am

        I had a look through my bookshelves last night and realized that I have forgotten Hemmingway. How could do something that stupid?!!! A brilliant book of his set during WWI is A Farewell To Arms. It caused quite a stir in its day as it was the first bestselling novel to show war as tragic and pointless as opposed to heroic and glorious. Make sure you have plenty of tissues if you ever read it.

        • Lynne on March 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm

          We do think alike – Farewell To Arms was the first title I put down, followed by Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”. I’ve never read it but it is considered a classic. And the tissues are always handy – I cry at movies, end of good books, Downton Abbey, etc. Monuments Men got poor reviews here in the States and I loved it – cried through the last 10 minutes.

  14. Betty S. on March 15, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I finished Deanna Raybourn’s City of Jasmine, which I really liked, but not as well as A Spear of Summer Grass.

    I’m 3/4 through The Truth About Lord Stoneville, first book in Sabrina Jeffries’ Hellions of Hallstead Hall regency series and am loving it – I will read the rest of the series. I first discovered Jeffries with one of my Christmas reads, ‘Twas the Night After Christmas, in 2012 and had been wanting to read more by her. Now is the time because I’m going to see Sabrina and Deanna Raybourn next Saturday in a panel discussion at Virginia’s Festival of the Book – wanted to have another of her books under my belt.

  15. Ellen on March 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Just finished rereading Venetia by Georgette Heyer and now want to reread her entire canon while I finish the new Heyer biography.

    • Rachel Beecroft on March 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Oh yes, I didn’t say below that I am also having a Georgette Heyer fad – I’ve just reread The Reluctant Widow, Sylvester, Arabella and Frederica. I didn’t realise there was a new Heyer biography out and am off to Amazon to look it up – thanks Ellen!

  16. Rachel Beecroft on March 15, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I’ve just finished my first Susanna Kearsley today – The Summer House. I wasn’t sure I’d like it because I have to admit that I’ve stalled on Outlander, but I enjoyed it so much that I immediately ordered The Firebird. I’ve also continued my Sherry Thomas craze with Beguiling the Beauty, which had a slightly bizarre plot involving extensive use of a veil.

    • Rachel Beecroft on March 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      Also (sorry, I keep adding answers) – had a momentary mad fit above – I meant the The Rose Garden.

      • Betty S. on March 15, 2014 at 8:42 pm

        I read Firebird – it is wonderful! I understand it would be helpful to read Shadowy Horses and The Winter Sea before Firebird. I have been meaning to get to those but have been forestalled. Good luck, Rachel.

  17. Pat D on March 15, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I’m in the middle of Somewhere in France. Really enjoying it. Earlier I read An Old Betrayal by Charles Finch and reread Julia Spencer Fleming’s Through the Evil Days. Also a couple of Jill Barnett romances, Dreaming and Carried Away. Needed something light while sitting in a hospital keeping Mom company!

    • Lauren on March 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm

      I used to love “Carried Away”! Such a fun book. Also “Bewitching”….

      • Lauren on March 16, 2014 at 8:27 pm

        Here’s hoping you and your Mom will be out of there soon!

    • Betty S. on March 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Hope your Mom is all right, Pat.

    • Lynne on March 16, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Hope your mom is better and didin’t you love An Old Betrayal? I just finished it today – one of Finch’s best.

      • Suzanne on March 17, 2014 at 7:13 am

        I hope your Mum gets better soon Pat, it must be really worrying for you. I am thinking of you.

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