Weekly Reading Round-Up

It struck me recently that I haven’t read any of my “keeper” books in a while. Not the books that I’ve discovered in the past five years or so that I’ve read and re-read, but the books that have come with me from grade school to college to grad school and so on: The Blue Castle, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, Nine Coaches Waiting, I Capture the Castle, Trade Wind, and, of course, The Blue Sword.

So this week I revisited my old copy of The Blue Sword.

If you haven’t read The Blue Sword, it’s set in a mythical place called– depending on whom you ask– either Daria or Damar, in which the “Homelanders” (think Victorian England by another name) have set up outposts of their empire on the fringes of a desert country ruled by a mysterious king. Harry Crewe, the traditional penniless younger sister, has been shipped out there to join her brother, who is a very junior something-or-other, but finds herself being swept up in the destiny of Damar and becoming a very unlikely heroine. I love this book: for Harry’s slightly frustrated common sense, for the idea that anyone can find herself suddenly in an adventure story, and, also, for the language. It’s difficult to describe McKinley’s prose, other than to say that it’s reminiscent of fairy tales and utterly unlike any other author I’ve read. There are phrases that stick in your head– which is probably why, if you’re looking for them, you can find echoes of McKinley in my writing.

Up next, I have a pile of new books– including an advance advance advance copy of Simone St. James’s 2018 release, The Broken Girls! And, yes, I am that excited.

What have you been reading this week?


  1. LynnS on October 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Just finished Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige and getting ready to start Everyone Brave is Forgiven. But I may need to make a detour and reread The Blue Sword, too!

  2. Ashley on October 28, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I am jealous that you get to read The Broken Girls!

    I’m rereading “Sense and Sensibility” at the moment. I think I’m going to try “The Blue Sword” next 🙂 I’ve already read the first three on your keepers list thanks to your recommendations.

  3. Sheila on October 28, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    I read Daniel Siva’s latest thriller, The Black Widow: good, but scary.

    Enjoyed in a very snarky way a supposed anthropological memoir called Primates of Park Avenue, by Wednesday Martin. I had very mixed feelings, and would love to know if Lauren is familiar with it.

    Queen’s Gambit, the second book in a series by Dave Schroeder: if you like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you will love these books.

    The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue: beautifully written and atmospheric, not everyone’s dish of tea, but I loved it.

  4. Miss Eliza on October 28, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Still reading Halloween-y books, currently reading Don’t Look Now, a collection of Daphne Du Maurier’s short stories, including my favorite, Kiss Me Again Stranger. Tomorrow is a Halloween party, so re-reading of We Have Always Lived at the Castle will be for Sunday!

    I also got an ARC of the new Rivers of London book, I know several people here shall be jealous!

  5. Kaite on October 28, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    My copy of The Blue Sword is falling apart! It’s one of my favorites. I’m currently working on Thorn by Intisar Khanani, a wonderfully realized take on The Grimm’s Goose Girl, and then I’m also reading Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I have greatly enjoyed all of Maas’s books so far.

  6. Carla on October 28, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    I will start Please Enjoy Your Happiness tonight 🙂

  7. DJL on October 29, 2016 at 1:26 am

    I found The Blue Castle and Beauty from your past posts, Lauren–and I thank you, love those books! Now will definitely have to try The Blue Sword, it sounds fabulous! Am actually reading another of McKinley’s now for the first time: Rose Daughter, and enjoying very much.

  8. Angie Caughlin on October 29, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Work has been overwhelming so reading has fallen by the wayside a bit this week but I did start Hidden Figures: The American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. I can’t really comment on it because I’m only about 20 pages in but I’m looking forward to it.

    I read Rocket Girls which is about the mostly white, but occasionally black or Asian, women mathematicians who worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab in the early days. They had a beauty contest for crying out loud! It was interesting to see their struggles, I’m curious to do a compare and contrast between the two.

  9. Lauren H on October 30, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I’ve been reading Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Spymistress, a fictionalization of the spying activities of American Civil War Union Spy Elizabeth Van Lew, and really enjoying it.

    Also in the pile this week is Masters of Doom, a nonfiction work about the creators of Doom, the video game. I’m liking it a lot more than I thought I would.

    Last up is Carla Buckley’s The Good Goodbye which I just started for book club, so we’ll see. it’s supposedly a Josi Picoult style thriller. And I associate Picoult with touching, moving stories… So a touching thriller? Hmmm.

    The Blue Sword has come up on my Goodreads radar quite a few times now. I just might have to look into it.

Leave a Comment