Elizabeth: What Have You Been Reading?

My TBR pile is currently a teetering towering work of art.  I’ve been doing my best to reduce it to manageable proportions, but it seems for every book I read from it, I manage to add 2 more.  At this point, I’m either going to need to move or add on a room sometime in the near future.

Fortunately, I’ve spent a bit of time in waiting areas, on public transportation, and trapped in conference hotels recently – all venues more suited to reading than to writing.  That’s convenient since, in addition to the aforesaid preponderance of unread books, my writer’s brain seems to have short-circuited with all the new information that I acquired in the past month.

So, here’s what I’ve read lately:

A book by a favourite author

As I mentioned before, I finally rectified an appalling oversight in my history by reading some Georgette Heyer.  I started with her mystery stories and then next turned my attention to her Regencies; starting with The Grand Sophy (you can see my comments on that story here).  Yesterday I finished Frederica, the story of an almost-on-the-shelf sister who brings her siblings to London and entangles her distant cousin (Lord Alverstoke) in her plans to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful younger sister.  As one would expect from a Heyer story, there is wit, humour, and characters that you can really care about.

At 437 pages, the story went on a bit too long for me and the vast amount of slang, cant, and unfamiliar phraseology made it a little more challenging for the modern reader than some of her other stories.  What saved the story for me, however, was the characters.  I’m always hesitant about stories that include children, but the younger brothers in this story were not just adorable plot-moppets.  They were fundamental to the transformation of the hero from rich, bored, and self-indulgent to someone who would do whatever was necessary to ensure the happiness of the woman he loved.

Their relationship developed very believably over time and I loved this little bit near the end, exclamation points and all:

“.  . . Is it like that?  Being in love?  You see, I never was in love, so I don’t know. . . Is it being – not very comfortable – and cross – and not quite happy when you aren’t there?”

“That, my darling,’ said his lordship, “is exactly what it is!”

“Oh – !” Frederica gasped, as she emerged from an embrace which threatened to suffocate her.  “Now I know!  I am in love!” 

A variety of eBook Freebies

Okay, these titles did little to reduce the TBR pile, but I’m pretty sure they still count as reading.  I get the BookBub emails every day, so my Kindle always contains a number of titles to choose from.  Recently I went through several of them including:

A Zen for Murder, by Leighann Dobbs – a cozy mystery set in Mooseamuck Island, Maine that includes the death of a local psychic and a couple of retired police consultants.   It was a good setting and the murder plot was okay, but the elderly investigators didn’t quite work for me, nor did the clichéd bumbling police official.

Sourdough Wars, by Julie Smith – a cozy mystery set in San Francisco involving the theft of a fabled sourdough starter, and auction, and of course, a dead body.  The mystery plot was fun and the story contained a lot of details about San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.  The description on Amazon says it is an “easy choice for fans of . . . Jennifer Crusie,” but I don’t think I’d go that far.

The Seven Steps to Closure, by Donna Joy – a contemporary romance set in Sydney.  I liked the premise of the story – a 30-year old heroine (Tara) following a magazine’s recommended seven steps to get over a failed relationship.   The story was fun and the characters likeable, though it didn’t really click for me until it got to the later steps.  The part I liked best was when Tara went on vacation (one of the steps) and wound up travelling with the man who eventually became her HEA.  There was a misunderstanding near the end that I could have done without, as well as some slap-stick like moments throughout, but they were balanced out by the heroine, her terrible luck with pets, and some great images during the travelling section.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I’d definitely read another.

 Next up:  A Theme

I’m debating what my next reading selection will be.  Looking at the stack of books I brought back from RWA Orlando, I seem to have a bit of a Scottish theme going on, with Sabrina York’s Susana and the Scot and Grace Burrowes’ Too Scot to Handle.  I’ll be heading to Scotland and the Scottish Writer’s Museum later this year, so maybe I’ll try something a little more traditional first, like Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley.  That one is often referenced in Regency romances and has been gathering dust on the shelf for a dog’s age (or longer).

What have you been reading (or trying to read) recently?  Any recommendations to add to my overflowing queue (or suggestions to skip)?

11 thoughts on “Elizabeth: What Have You Been Reading?

  1. I’ve always meant to try some Sir Walter — he was a big influence on Austen, wasn’t he? Or vice versa? Anyway, I was never made to read him in high school, so he’s fresh for me. (-: If you want to book-club it, let me know. A lot of books are much better for a little discussion!

  2. I am reading Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn Saga – the Slightly series. Slightly Married was good, Slightly Wicked also. Slightly Scandalous? Not so much. Freyja is a nasty, arrogant bit of goods and Joshua is an ass. I’m not one to put a book down (or throw it against the wall as I feel like every time Freyja looks down her nose at every-damn-body that comes into her view), so I’ll suffer through this one on my way to book 4.

    Being a Maryland girl, I like Mary Jo Putney. I picked up her Once a Rebel at RWA, but I’ve been putting off reading it because I want a bunch of interruptions. It is set in Maryland during the Regency period so I’m expecting some interesting twists on the typical regency story. If you like series, her The Lost Lords series is really good.

    • I haven’t read any Mary Jo Putney in a while. I might have to remedy that-I think I have something of hers in the TBR pile.

  3. I have to confess Frederica is not my fave Heyer heroine. I agree the children are full characters, not plot moppets, but they annoy me in a way that the Rivenhalls in The Grand Sophy do not. My favourite Heyer book boyfriend is Hugo in The Unknown Ajax (quietly competent with a sneaky sense of humour). I also love Devil’s Cub (rakehell hero falls for pragmatic, sensible heroine), Cotillion (so clever and kind), Faro’s Daughter (crackling charisma between h/h), and Venetia (ditto).

    I read Julie Anne Long’s Rita-nominated contemporary Hot in Hellcat Canyon and the sequel, Dirty Dancing in Devil’s Gulch. I like her voice. She’s really good at community (this time a quirky corner of California) and brilliant at writing emotion, but I didn’t love these books as much as her Pennyroyal Green historicals, because there wasn’t much of a secondary, non-romance plot. I like the love story to be front and centre, but I don’t want it to be the only game in town.

    Now I’m in the middle of Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches. I like the writing and I’m curious to see where the story takes me. Will report back.

    If you’re in a Scottish frame of mind, what about Alexander McCall Smith? I know you’ve been known to read a cosy mystery or two. You could get in the mood for Edinburgh with The Sunday Philosophy Club series. Here’s the blurb from Alexander McCall Smith’s website:

    No one captures the charm of Edinburgh quite like Alexander McCall Smith in his series featuring the insatiably curious professional philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction’s most richly developed women detectives. Whether she is investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life’s trickiest questions, large and small.

    • Jilly, Frederica is not my favorite either,though there are bits and pieces that I really liked. I will keep your list in mind as well try out her other titles.

  4. I’ve been reading the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I want to bring the series up for discussion because I’m not 100% sure why I’m still reading it. I’m seven books in, and the writing hasn’t gotten better, and in fact has started to trend down. The characters are inconsistent, the writing is ham-handed, dialogue and non-dialogue vocabulary is bizarre and frequently just *wrong*… Oh, and the authors kill off dogs like they’re sex-crazed teens in a slasher movie.

    Okay, that wants clarification. I am not implying that the authors are sex-crazed teens, nor that sex-crazed teens, inside or outside of slasher movies, kill dogs.

    All that aside, the central question stands: Do you have any series that you’ve continued to read, even though you question your own reasons for doing so?

    • This question has been on my mind lately. When I was in my twenties, I really loved the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, and I will still go back and read the more romantic ones with a lot of joy. But then I think (and this is just my personal opinion), she started introducing too many other ideas into the series — more talking/sentient animals for example. However, the basic stories of under-dog who fights bullies and then eventually saves the day — that narrative was not evolving. I wonder if she could have pulled it off if she’d just done a new series. Several of her other series really rang my bells — I loved where the Diana Tregarde books seemed to be headed, and a couple of the Elemental ones were very fun.

      Somewhere in the last decade, I finally decided that if a book wasn’t taking me anywhere in the first few chapters, it was perfectly OK to abandon them. There are plenty of books out there that will give me a ride from chapter one and keep me thrilled to the end, and I have plenty of ways to find out about them. Time is too short, and my lifespan is not going to encompass all the time I need to read the books I come across.

    • Scott,obviously that series has something that has caught your interest if you are still reading it, unless you’re just a glutton for punishment.

      I know I’ve continued to read some authors, even though their stories were terribly flawed or had become repetitive, because there were either bits and pieces that I enjoyed or because I kept hoping the stories would improve.

  5. Pingback: Jilly: Dialect, Slang and Cant – Eight Ladies Writing

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