Weekly Reading Round-Up

This week was a mixed bag of re-reads:

— Mary Stewart, Madam, Will You Talk?.

As always, her prose is beautiful and her sense of place impeccable, but re-reading it reminded me of why this is one of the few Mary Stewarts I usually don’t re-read. There’s something rather… off… about her relationship with the hero. It might be a question of era and cultural mores, but it still rings a bit false to me.

— Angela Thirkell, Wild Strawberries.

If you haven’t read Thirkell… you’re missing out. They’re very gentle satires, mostly from the 1930s, set in the fictional English county of Barsetshire. She has a sure way with a turn of phrase and a genius for creating faintly ridiculous– but lovable–characters. Her comedy reminds me of both Georgette Heyer and L.M. Montgomery.

— Angela Thirkell, High Rising.

See above. This one is about an author, and the account of her epic struggle with her typewriter ribbon would have made me laugh– if it weren’t so reminiscent of my epic struggles with my computer.

What have you been reading this week?


  1. Pam on March 21, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Thirkell has been on my TBR list for a while. This week I’ve been reading a collection of Miss Marple short stories. I’ve got a deadline and they’re the perfect “bite” for decompressing at the end of the day.

  2. Sherri O. on March 21, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I read Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander, and I’m currently reading The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley. 🙂

  3. Mary D. on March 21, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I was lucky enough to have two ARCs to read this week. Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James is the latest in the Desperate Duchesses series, and may be the best one yet. The dialogue is so witty!

    I also just finished The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams. It features a mystery that kept me guessing until the end. The main character in the 1964 part of the story (Vivian) is such a spitfire! And there’s a lot going on in that secret life of Violet in 1914.

  4. Sheila on March 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I read the last of the DE Stevenson Miss Buncle series, The Two Mrs Abbotts. Very like Thirkell, and the first is about an author’s first book, you would love it.

    Also Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, very very good. And The Time Tutor, a prequel novella of Bee Ridgway’s River of No Return, and am in the middle of Beatriz Williams’ A Hundred Summers, and loving it even more than Overseas!

  5. Connie on March 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for the Angela Thirkell recommendation. Her books sound like they are perfect for my reading habits! Not sure how I’ve missed reading them before.

    This week I finished The Hanging Valley by Peter Robinson (I’m slowly doing a reread of the series so another reason to go out and get something new by Angela Thirkell.) and stared Styx and Stones by Carola Dunn, a cozy series that is perfect for what was earlier called decompression.

    Happy Friday y’all!

  6. Ella on March 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    The Shadowy Horses, which I just loved and can’t wait to get more of her books.

    In the middle of Secrets of a Lady, which has been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster of love and hate. I think I know how it’s going to end, but have now idea how it will get there. Tracy Grant is proving to be delightfully twisted and an amazing storyteller.

    Can’t thank you enough for all the recommendations, it’s changed my world… never read so many books in one year and now look forward to even more this year.

  7. Am7 on March 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I read Heart of A Samurai, by Margi Preus, a children’s/ young adult book that was very fresh and new to me and had a lot of information I hadn’t known.

    I am thinking about spring reads, particularly later spring reads since I tend to be a planner and already have this month planned. Any spring reads people would recommend?

  8. Pat D on March 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I’m reading Low Country Bombshell, the second in the Low Country mystery series. Fun read. Earlier I read Low Country Boil, the first book; and Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn. Also the Space Between, a Diana gabaldon novella.

  9. Elizabeth Lefebvre on March 21, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Barsetshire! I love that Thirkell just went with a world created by Trollope.

    This week I’ve read one really awesome and one horrid Chick Lit book. The awesome was The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella about a lawyer who ends up a housekeeper, which was so awesome I can’t recommend it enough. The bad was Melissa Nathan’s The Learning Curve, which was sadly the last Nathan I had left to read, and I was shocked how much I didn’t like it after loving all her previous novels…

    I am now part of the beta read of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Of Noble Family. All I’ll say is, still just as awesome as the rest of the Glamourist’s Histories, only in Antigua!

  10. Alice on March 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    What is this Of Noble Family? Is it a new Mary Robinette Kowal? I love all her books! I can’t find it on my Kindle. Am I missing something?

    • Elizabeth Lefebvre on March 21, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Of Noble Family will be out Spring of 2015. Her newest book will be out in a few weeks and is also awesome, it’s called Valor and Vanity 😉

      • Alice on March 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm

        Long wait till next spring! But looking forward to her new book. Thank you!

        • Elizabeth Lefebvre on March 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm

          Yeah, I don’t know what I’ll do once I finish it… because I’ll be two books ahead of everyone else. Sigh.

  11. Alice on March 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Sorry, The comment above was meant to be a reply to Elizabeth but I hit the wrong button.
    Finally read City of Jasmine. I really, really liked it which was a nice surprise because A Spear of Summer Grass was not my favorite. The plot, writing and characters reminded me quite a bit of the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I love that series so this book was even more enjoyable. And, after all the many, many recommendations on this site, I finally read my first Kristan Higgins book! The Best Man. And I am loving it! Readers here are the best.

  12. HJ on March 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I re-read a Mary Stewart this week too: My Brother Michael. Madam, Will You Talk is one of my favourites, actually, I think because I like the boy, David, so much, and I really enjoy the high-speed drive through Roman France. Thank you for the tip about Angela Thirkell; I’m going to try one!

  13. Suzanne on March 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I am still going on Anne Easter Smith’s Queen By Right and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Her recreation of 15th century England is brilliant. I am almost at the end and I don’t want to finish it as I have become very attached to Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville and I know at the end he is killed; even if I didn’t already know that it makes it clear at the beginning of the book. He is killed at the battle of Wakefield which came as a bit of a shock to me as one branch of my family come from there. I already knew he was killed but not where before now. I have been there to visit relatives and I had no idea there had been a battle there!! I want to go back now and check at all out. Ah, perhaps one day.

    • Lynne on March 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Ah, yes, the trials of reading the story when you know the ending. Try out Elizabeth Chadwick’s 2 volumes on the story of William Marshal 9late 1100’s into the 1200’s). Beautifully written and very accurate in the history aspect for a piece of fiction. It requires tissues at the end…

      • Suzanne on March 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

        Thanks Lynne, I will add them to my reading list. When I was at high school I changed schools in the middle of the 3rd term and missed the middle ages in history. But I am getting right into it now about 30 years later.

        • Lynne on March 24, 2014 at 12:11 am

          Suzanne – I’m a medieval English history fanatic. My very favorite time period and so fascinating. (We didn’t get much of it in school, either.)

    • Betty S. on March 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      You have such interesting family connections. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Christina on March 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    When I read Madam Will You Talk I loved everything about the story except the romance. I thought it was contrived and didn’t make sense. How does someone fall in love with someone they just met who had been chasing them in a car all day?

    I had a good reading week. I finished Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois. It was an interesting reimagining of the Amanda Knox case set in Buenos Aires. I would recommend it but not if you are bothered by not liking any of the characters or by ambiguous endings.

    I also read the most recent Flavia de Luce mystery, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. I adore the character of Flavia and the setting is wonderful. I just wish Bradley was better at the plotting part of the story. I read River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz which I thought was better than the last few books of hers I had read. I enjoyed the fact that this book didn’t have a paranormal aspect. Nonfiction wise I read How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg MD and Mark Robert Waldman which was an interesting read on meditation and faith and their effects on the brain. I read it mainly because I was interested in the chapter about meditation and improving memory since Alzheimer’s runs in my family but the entire book was surprisingly interesting.

  15. Lynne on March 21, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    I’m into Why Kings Confess (C S Harris) and it’s going to be great! And I just picked up – Lauren, are you reading? – a used copy of The Ashford Affair in great condition. My very own! I just finished a reread of Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose – a sad but beautifully written book. Stegner was one of the best writers I know.

    • leslie on March 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Two amazing books! I read the Stegner years ago…a reread is definitely in my future.

      Why Kings Confess was so wonderful….so well plotted, Harris just keeps getting better as each new book arrives. I loved it!

  16. Rachel Beecroft on March 22, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Alert to any Deanna Raybourn fans in the UK – Whisper of Jasmine is on Amazon for 59p right now. No idea why it is suddenly so cheap – it doesn’t seem to be a Daily Deal. I’ve just snapped it up! Will return with my normal reading updates later on.

    • Sheila on March 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Alert ! Alert! Kindle version is free in US !!

      • Rachel Beecroft on March 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

        Rats! I was so pleased with my 59p bargain and now you have trumped it!

  17. Betty S. on March 23, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I finished The Truth About Lord Stoneville, the first book in Sabrina Jeffries’s Hellions of Hallstead Hall series and am almost finished with the second. There are five in this regency series and I am loving them. I met Sabrina yesterday at an author’s romance panel and book signing in Charlottesville , Va. (Virginia Festival of the Book) along with Deanna Raybourn, Cathy Maxwell, and Laurin Wittig (no this is not a misspelling – she writes medieval Scotland books – Lauren is this confusing for you and her?)

    Anyway, the panel was wonderful, witty, and informative. Deanna said she will have another book out in October – also two more Julia and Nicholas novellas this year. (I think I’m right on that – it was a whirlwind event)

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