Weekly Reading Round-Up
It’s a funny thing. When I get down to the writing stage of a new book, I need new books to read. Not old comfort reads, but brand-new-to-me books, preferably a series, if one can be had. Laurie King’s Kate Martinelli mysteries got me through the end of That Summer, Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond novels saw me through The Other Daughter, and Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London made The Lure of the Moonflower possible. I have all sorts of theories about this, none of them terribly useful, especially when I’m desperately in need of a new series– because that new book isn’t just going to write itself. (Although, sometimes, it would be nice if it would, like those elves and the shoemaker. Or do elves only do shoes?)
On the recommendation of my best friend, I’m giving Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway mysteries mysteries a go, although I seem to have started at the end of the series by accident, with The Ghost Fields.
I also finally, finally read Elizabeth Marie Pope’s The Perilous Gard, in which one of the Princess Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting is exiled by Queen Mary to a remote castle where the border between the mortal realm and faerie may be thinner than in other places. How did I never read this book as a teenager? It’s making me feel rather nostalgic for both Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (Tam Lin reimagined in the 1970s, over four years in a small liberal arts college) and Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red (an Elizabethan-set retelling of the classic fairy tale).
What have you been reading this week? And do you have any good series to recommend?
Just finished Sophie Kinsella’s latest which had me laughing loudly on the train (the side-eyed stares of my fellow passengers was equally amusing). Also delving into a new (for me) adventure series with Scott Mariani’s The Alchemist’s Secret.
I’ve got about 100 pages left in Margaret George’s new novel, The Confessions of Young Nero. Alas, it’ll be a wait for the second part, but hopefully not too long!
I usually don’t read fairy tale retellings, but I loved Elizabeth Blackwell’s While Beauty Slept.
I enjoyed Pope’s Sherwood Ring, so I will have to look for The Gard.
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was intriguing, to say the least.
If you are looking for a new series, try Suzanne Arruda’s Jade del Cameron books, set in Africa.
First Impressions by Charlie Lovett.
No series lately, but some great standalones. I finished An Instance at the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears, which was engrossing from start to finish. Highly recommended! I also read Lost in a Book, an original story featuring the Disney Beauty and the Beast cast of characters by Jennifer Donnelly, and *really* enjoyed it. Now reading Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones; kind of Labyrinth meets the Hades/Persephone myth, with a lot of classical music composition discussion thrown in. Good so far.
Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red is one of my all time favorites, as is Perilous Gard! Have you read Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones’ retelling of Tam Lin? Perilous Gard is my favorite, but I liked that one as well.
I am reading Connie Willis’ All Clear. I’m also listening to the audiobook version of Cary Elwes’ As You Wish.
Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope is my all time favorite book ever in the history of ever!
Oh I’ve been thinking about reading Snow White and Rose Red again it’s been years and it’s so great… and with Beauty and the Beast out in theaters, definitely to re-read Robin McKinley’s Beauty!
It’s a short but extremely fun series, if you like Golden Age English Country House mysteries. Between 1975 and 2003, James Anderson wrote 3 Inspector Wilkins mysteries set in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They are good mysteries with about a million red herrings in each, and they are hysterically funny, especially if you have read authors like Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy Sayers, so you will get the inside jokes. The titles are fun in themselves: The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy (1975), The Affair of the Mutilated Mink (1981), and The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks (2003). I especially enjoyed Inspector Wilkins complaining about the increase in recent years of needlessly complicated crimes, committed with fancy tricks and gadgets, among the aristocracy, and how he just wants to go back to being an ordinary policeman with ordinary crimes.
I have enjoyed Louis Penny’s Armand Gamache series that takes place in Canada. Really, really good.
Just finished Mayfair Affair in a reread of Tracy Grant’s books.
I also recently completed the Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, a new series by Julie Klassen.
Currently reading The Winter Stone, a set of three novellas based on a Scottish legend, all in different time periods.
Still deep in V.E. Schwab’s magic series, because Regency Englands, yes plural, and magic are my jam. But diving into Rick Geary’s graphic novels on Victorian Serial Killers on the side.
I just finished the The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. It takes a kernel of truth from Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov’s life and imagines a beautiful work of fiction from it. It was so good I was crying! Highly recommend!!
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill turned out to be a lovely story with plenty of unresolved plotlines for the next book in the series. Like Betty, I’m trying to wrap up the Mayfair Affair reread. And although I’m not normally a reader of memoires, Will Schwalbe’s The End of your Life Book Club turned out to be a beautiful story of a mother and son on journey through some good reads as the mother prepared for the end of her days.
I’m reading the last book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness. The less I say about it the better, especially the first book, as it does some great gradual world-building (instead of a huge info-dump at the start). Definitely recommend them – first book is The Knife of Never Letting Go.
If you’re in the mood for historical romance, Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley series followed by her Skye’s Legacy series are not to be missed. The first two books are centered around Skye O’Malley, and the rest of the books follow the love stories and lives of her children, siblings, and descendants.
Elizabethan England, the Irish and English countrysides, Algeria, and Turkish harems!
Love Alexander McCall Smith series, Isabel Dalhousie (Edinburg) and of course The Number One Ladies First Detective Agency (Botswana).
I just finished The Clover House, set in Greece during the war.
I loved the Perilous Gard so much I had to buy my own copy. I’ll echo Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and also, her Outlaws of Sherwood. Not to be missed.
I just finished “the bookshop on the corner” by Jenny Colgan about a laid off librarian who opens a Scottish mobile bookshop in the Scottish highlands as well as the latest Lord Sebastian mystery by C.S. Harris. Colgan is sooo good. She’s funny and sweet with plenty of eccentric characters, gorgeous scenery and romance. The Lord Sebastian regency mystery series is the perfect combo of mystery and romance.