Weekly Reading Round-Up

So many apologies for the radio silence here lately, all! I’m deep in the writing cave right now with the next stand alone novel (75,000 words down; 40,000 left to go!), a narrative non-fiction essay for an anthology about Paris, and various other fun stuff.

But I promise, as soon as this book is in, regularly scheduled programming will resume here on this site. And I’ll also have some announcements to make about books to come. So expect a lively summer over here!

In the meantime, I’ve mostly been clinging to old favorites to get through the mushy middle of the work in progress. Right now, I’m re-reading Georgette Heyer’s The Talisman Ring, featuring smugglers (ahem, free-traders), evil cousins, missing rings of great antiquity, a hero who refuses to ride ventre-a-terre, and a heroine with a delightful sense of the absurd. (Is it just me, or would The Talisman Ring make a brilliant movie?)

Before The Talisman Ring was Jennifer Crusie’s Agnes and the Hitman, because Crusie is also a master of brilliant mayhem and never more so than in Agnes and the Hitman, which features an old plantation house, a perfidious chef, the mob, a wedding, flamingos, and, oh yes, the aforementioned hitman. So good.

Before that, I went on a Donna Andrews binge, re-reading Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos (murder and mayhem at a reenactment at the battle of Yorkville, with flamingos) and We’ll Always Have Parrots, a fan convention for a tv show that bears more than a passing resemblance to Xena: Warrior Princess. If you haven’t read Andrews yet, start with Murder with Peacocks and work your way through.

I made the mistake of attempting to read some Victoria Holt, but, although The Judas Kiss is, without doubt, an excellent read, the current work in progress is trending so dark and so gothic, that putting gothic on gothic was a bit like watching Crimson Peak while playing the Bach toccata. So I’m trying to keep the reading light– and, hopefully, keep the work in progress lighter by extension– until this manuscript is done.

I had a choral director a long time ago who always advised when singing high to think low to keep the top notes from going screechy. That’s been my writing maxin for a long time now. When writing funny, I tend to read serious, and when writing serious, I tend to read funny, in the hopes of keeping the manuscript from going over on the one side into pure farce and on the other into pure melodrama.

What have you been reading recently?


  1. Sheila on April 22, 2016 at 9:51 am

    A terrific reissue of Sandra Brown’s The Witness, scary.

  2. Teri Milner on April 22, 2016 at 10:00 am

    I have been reading a Mary Balogh re-release Lady with A Black Umbrella, and Kate Mosse’s The Taxidermist’s Daughter

  3. Susan Gorman on April 22, 2016 at 10:09 am

    I finished the Mary Balogh- Grace Burrowes duet Once Upon A Dream earlier this week.
    Switched to contemporaries and am finishing Kristan Higgins Next Best Thing.
    Have a great weekend Lauren!

  4. Heather on April 22, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Just finished Julia Quinn’s newest, “Because of Miss Bridgerton.” It’s the start of a new series, but it does bring back her fan-favorite family (albeit the preceding generation, though you do see that certain traits are definitely inherited.)

    Now I’m starting on “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer. It’s been a big hit with my customers at B&N, and one of my best friends can’t stop raving about the series. I figure it’s worth a shot.

    Good luck on the writing! Can’t wait to see what the summer updates bring.

  5. Pam on April 22, 2016 at 10:37 am

    It’s the end of term so I am reading student essays… But I am so started With This Curse by Amanda DeWees. It is a gothic romantic suspense deal and is very silly so far, but in just the way that I need it to be.

    • Pam on April 22, 2016 at 10:38 am

      (But I also started–stupid autocorrect!)

  6. Laura on April 22, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I’ve just finished reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and really loved it. Now working my way through her other novels. Happy days!

    I hope someone here can help name a title of a book that has been bugging me for ages! It’s about an author whose 18th century hero/character comes to life. I’m sure I read about it on this page a few years ago but can’t remember anything other than the vague plotline. Seeing jodi picoult’s Between the Lines novel in the supermarket yesterday brought it to mind again! Thanks

    • Lauren on April 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Kasey Michaels’s Maggie books? The hero of her Regency mystery novels materializes in her living room. Love those books!

  7. Susan on April 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I just finished Simonson’s Summer Before the War and am starting Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun. I just ordered Murder with Peacocks from the library (thanks for the suggestion!) I enjoy all of Sarah Addison Allen’ books. The Talisman Ring is my favorite Heyer.

    • Christina on April 22, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      I really liked Girl Waits With Gun.

  8. Christina on April 22, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    I read Footsteps in the Dark by Heyer recently based on discussion here. It was my first mystery of hers and I liked it quite a bit. I’ll have to get to the The Talisman Ring soon. I also read Simone St. James’ The Other Side of Midnight which was around the same time period as Footsteps. I’ve really gotten into books set in the first half of the 1900s lately. I think Simone gets better every book and I’m waiting for the library to get her newest book.

    A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas – Shades of Beauty and the Beast meets the high Fae with a dose of action and intrigue. Very good! I will be reading more of Maas’ books.

    Stars over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner – another one set in the 1930s. The main characters all work on the production of Gone With the Wind. The present day frame story is rather contrived but I liked the primary story.

    Phyrne Fisher – I read the first book and was meh on it awhile back. I watched all three seasons of the show and LOVED it. So i’ve been giving the books another chance. Two & Three – Flying too High and Murder on the Ballarat Train were much better than the first book. So far though I like the tv versions of Phyrne, Dot, and Detective Inspector Robinson better.

    After She’s GOne – Lisa Jackson. Good psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator.

    American Housewife Stories by Helen Ellis. Twisted and hilarious. I love the cover.

    Rain of Diamonds Anne Weale – old school Harlequin from 1981. It was like revisiting my pre-teen years.

    A Free Man of Color Barbara Hambly – the 1st book in a mystery series featuring Benjamin January, a Creole surgeon and musician. Set in 1833 New Orleans. In some ways it reminds me of the Sebastian St. Cyr books.

    I read Murder with Peacocks several years ago but never got around to reading anymore. I’ll have to revisit them.

    • Betty Strohecker on April 22, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Loved the Other Side of Midnight and all of Simone St. James. So glad I heard about her here.

  9. Momma Sue on April 22, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Currently reading Room, by Emma Donoghue. Oh my goodness. I can’t put it down, and it’s killing me that I periodically have to. You know, to work and bathe, and things like that.

    • Lynne on April 22, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      A very compelling – and a little creepy – story. I found it hard to put down, as well. Enjoy!

  10. Courtney on April 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    I read Ella Quinn’s Three Weeks to Wed earlier this week, and just finished Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh, and I’m now reading Scandal Takes the Stage, also by Eva Leigh.

  11. Miss Eliza on April 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I just finished Galen Beckett’s The Magicians and Mrs. Quent which I thought was Gothic goodness with Austen and Bronte overtones but with magic, literally. Just started the followup, The House on Durrow Street.

  12. Gina on April 22, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Currently reading The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne and absolutely loving it.

    Also just returned from the Texas Library Conference where I nabbed a copy of Fall of Poppies from a booth giveaway so I’m excited about that!

    • Lora Lynn on April 23, 2016 at 10:24 am

      I LOVE the Red House Mystery. So… un-Pooh-like but yet still yummy.

  13. Lara on April 22, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I forgot how much I loved the Weekly Reading Round-Up!

    I’m catching up on an author whom I haven’t read in a while – Lauren Henderson. I finished Exes Anonymous; I made my way through Chained! (from the Sam Jones series) – I have one left to go.

    I’m currently reading Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler – an author new to me. So far I really like the book but haven’t had the time to really get into it (booooooooooooo).

  14. Betty Strohecker on April 22, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve been reading some Irish nonfiction based around the 1916 Easter Rising. I discovered the 16 Lives series two years ago – books about the 16 men executed for the rebellion – and read the book about Joseph Plunkett at that time. Now with the 100 year anniversary, I wanted to read more and recently finished Thomas MacDonagh. I am about to finish James Connolly – what an amazing man, and all of them so bravely fighting for their ideals. Also reading All the Risings: Ireland 1014 – 1916.

    Took a brief break to read Because of Miss Bridgeton for the Eloisa James book club. This was my first Julia Quinn, and I loved it!

  15. DJL on April 23, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Love Donna Andrews–“discovered” her mysteries last year, uniformly entertaining. Read The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell, loved it until the last 30 pages or so, but not a bad ending, just kind of meh. Still worth a read though. Also read The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James, good fun. Currently finishing up Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake, very well done, the first book of hers I’ve read, will definitely check out some more. Next up, Eidolon by Grace Draven–I’ve been waiting for this one!!

  16. Lora on April 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After which is light and frothy, just what I need at the end of the school year.

    Still plodding through Ron Chernow’s George Washington. It’s good, but I keep falling asleep.

    Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. Every woman (and man) should have to read it.

    And Arithmetic for Parents, just to be boring. 😉

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