Weekly Reader – Week 22 of 2020

I read just one book this week. A migraine attack sidelined me from doing much of anything that required thought for a good chunk of the week.

Darkness DawnsMy one read of the week was Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall. It is the first in her Immortal Guardians series, which was recommended by my author friend, Cassandra Chandler. Romance is not usually my thing (Cassandra’s books are the exception) but based on her rec I was willing to give this one a shot. And it’s not a bad story, with some interesting world-building. Unfortunately because there are vampires there’s a good deal of blood, which is not my thing to read about. But the biggest thing that kept me from really loving the book was that Duvall happened to hit on an area where I’ve done a lot of research, and the information she presented was frankly out-dated and just plain wrong. That was enough to bug me all throughout the first third of the book or so and left a lingering feeling of annoyance (because she’s hyping myths that are damaging to people). Given all of that I don’t think I’ll read on in this series.

I started a second book this week but it didn’t grip me. I don’t know if that’s the fault of the book or of where my head was at, but either way I didn’t get farther than the first chapter.

How was your week? Did you do any extra reading with the Monday holiday? What are you reading now? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Weekly Reader – Week 21 of 2020

Despite being back at work full time this week, I managed to read 3 books and a few short stories this week. I did well at making sure I took a lunch break this week, which gave me time to read. I’m going to have to do some retraining so that people (my boss, actually) respect the fact that I’m carving out this time for myself to recharge.

Penny for Your SecretsFirst I read Anna Lee Huber’s third Verity Kent mystery, Penny for Your Secrets. I love Huber’s series with Lady Darby, and I enjoy this one as well. There are some parallels. Both heroines are unconventional for their time period, and both are fortunate enough to have husbands who don’t discourage them in these pursuits or feel threatened by their intelligence. Verity was a spy during the first world war and though the war is over, her skills aren’t something she can just unlearn. Her connections with the secret service are sometimes a help, other times a hindrance. This outing was another enjoyable one, with a clever mystery. It also left a few threads dangling and I really hope there will be a fourth in this series soon.

Next I read Judi Lynn’s first Jazzi Zanders mystery. I’ve followed Judi’s blog for some time the body in the atticnow and I was long overdue to read one of her books. I liked Jazzi, Jerome, and Ansel. They were all very nice people – too nice to be caught up in a mystery. The police detective was also nice. There were a lot of nice people in this mystery. While I enjoyed them, there was no sense of urgency in this novel. The stakes for Jazzi as an investigator were pretty much nonexistent. (The stakes for her as a house flipper were also pretty low; every part of the job of fixing up the house went smoothly and remarkably quickly. Having just had our kitchen redone near the start of the year, I can say that I had trouble finding that believable.) Because I like Jazzi and Ansel and Jerome, I’ll go on to the next in this series, but I hope there will be some higher stakes next time.

The Annotated Sherlock HolmesOn Friday I decided the best way to celebrate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday was to revisit some of his Sherlock Holmes stories, so I reread “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” and then rewatched the Granada version. After that I went back to read the stories in chronological order (at least, in the order that Sherlockian William S. Baring-Gould arranged them in his The Annotated Sherlock Holmes). I enjoyed rereading “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” and “The Musgrave Ritual” (which we rewatched last night). The Royal We

For my last read of the week I chose something I thought would be a bit of fun fluff. The Royal We by Heather Cocks certainly had it’s fluffy fun moments, but there was more to the story than just that. It was a very enjoyable read all the same and I look forward to the sequel which releases later this year.

So far for our Memorial Day weekend we’ve had what we’ve come to call “Mulchapalooza.” On Friday afternoon 3 yards of mulch were delivered to us and we’ve spent the past two days weeding our various flower beds, putting out soaker hoses, and spreading mulch. We are nearly finished now; there’s 1 wheel barrow full of mulch remaining, and one bed which still needs some more weeding. Working only a couple days per week in April certainly gave me time to do a good deal of weeding in advance of the mulch’s arrival and that’s helped this weekend go more smoothly than in the past. Tomorrow we should be able to finish off the last of the weeding and mulching, and get the coleus we bought into the pots on our front porch. Then it’ll just be maintaining things for the rest of the summer.

What have you been reading? What else have you been up to of late? Do you plant a garden, or a lot of flowers for spring/summer? Leave me a comment and tell me about it!

Weekly Reader – Week 20 of 2020

I finished a couple of books this week. Things were busier for me as we were preparing for staff to return to the library where I work this week. We’ll all be back starting tomorrow, preparing to offer limited services (beyond the many online offerings we’ve had for the past two months).

A Heart So Fierce and BrokenFirst up was A Heart so Fierce and Broken, the second book in Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers Series. I loved the first from the series, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which told about Harper and Rhen’s efforts to break a curse. I love Harper, Rhen, and Grey in that book. In this one I was more than a little sad not to get to see much of Harper and Rhen at all. We did have Grey once more, and I liked getting to see things from his perspective even if I also wanted to yell at him. I have so many comments in my notes as I was reading this one that relate to Grey just telling Rhen and Harper the truth. Stubborn man! I really liked Lia Mara but I hated her mother and I had a hard time understanding her loyalty to her sister, Nolla Verin, who was so much like their mother. Lia Mara proved herself over time to be very intelligent, perceptive, and kind. I really liked the slow build of her relationship with Grey, and the supporting characters were also great additions. I can’t wait to see how things will play out in the third book as Rhen and Harper, Lia and Grey all deal with the outcome from this book as well as with what else has been happening with Rhen in the meantime. Alas, I have to wait until 2021 to find out!

My second book was A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman. This was A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murderher second Countess of Harleigh mystery and I almost didn’t read it. I had read the first, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder and I thought I hadn’t liked it. But I took a look at my Goodreads and I’d given it 4 stars so clearly my memory was faulty. Frances and her household are pulled into a mystery when a woman that Frances had suggested her cousin, Charles, meet is found murdered. It seems strange that anyone would want to murder Mary Archer. She was a widow who lived quietly, with barely enough money to pay for a cleaning woman to come in and no servants. It quickly proves that there was much more to Mary Archer than met the eye when the police find bundles of notes relating to society scandals. They suspect she was blackmailing people and that that lead to her death. George Hazelton, Frances’s neighbor and sort-of suitor, is asked to go through the files to see what he can learn. He enlists Frances’s aid with this, and when Charles is detained by the police, he leaves the entire task to her while he works to clear his friend’s name. Frances, naturally, enlists the help of her household. Lottie Deaver proves to be very helpful with the notes even if she is a menace to herself just trying to cross a room. Aunt Hetty’s business acumen is also helpful, and the maid, Jenny, proves skilled at getting other servants to tell her things. George is alternately pleased and worried about Frances’s involvement, but naturally the murderer is found out thanks to her efforts. Now if only George could figure out how to make a decent proposal!

I enjoyed another Facebook Live from author Cassandra Chandler this week. She’s getting ready to release her 13th Department of Homeworld Security novella! These are light-hearted, fun, sci-fi romances. The titles are all puns and that gives you a flavor for what’s to come. The latest is Nothing to Declare and I look forward to reading it. Each story moves the over-arching story along a little further, and it’s fun when we get to see the various couples who’ve come together over the course of the series interacting.

What about you? What have you been reading of late? What are you looking forward to? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Weekly Reader – Week 19 of 2020

I finished a couple books this week, and attended my first ever Sherlockian society meeting, via Zoom.

the turn of the keyFirst up was Ruth Ware’s most recent release, The Turn of the Key. I’ve been a Ware fan since her first published novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood and I’ve come to expect certain things from her. An unreliable neighbor, some serious creep factor, and a lot of things to keep me guessing. This novel had them all. Our narrator takes a position as a nanny for a couple who live on a remote estate in Scotland. Their house is a strange combination of old and modern, with a Victorian front and a glass-and-steel kitchen on the back. It also is a smart house. Lights, curtains, temperature, and more is controlled by the Happy app. There are cameras in the rooms and the owners can call the house and talk over speakers in the rooms. All of that would be enough to put me off the job, but add in one super-creepy kid who seems hell-bent to drive the nanny away, a garden entirely filled with poisonous plants, and the sounds of footsteps coming from over the nanny’s bedroom (where there’s not supposed to be any more house) and I’d have been out of there! The nanny stays, and that comes to make sense later when we learn more about her. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and it definitely kept me guessing and turning the pages!

Next up was Shari Lapena’s An Unwanted Guest. A group of strangers all venture to a an unwanted guestluxury inn in upstate New York, arriving just as a snow storm blows in. Ice follows snow and by morning the inn is without power, the phone lines are down, and one of the guests is dead. This novel does a lot of head-hopping, moving from character to character to tell the story.  It creates a sense of movement even when the story isn’t really advancing much. We don’t get a lot of depth with any of these characters though, which lets Lapena hide who the killer is pretty effectively but also means that I didn’t get particularly invested in anyone. As more bodies dropped my reaction was more like “yep, it was time for another corpse” rather than “oh no! she killed off so-and-so.” It may be that this one suffered in comparison to Ware’s book but I wasn’t nearly as gripped by this one as I thought I would be, given the premise. It felt kind of flat to me.

The highlight of my week was last evening’s meeting of The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis. I found Sherlock Holmes in high school and became an avid Sherlockian then, but it wasn’t until this year that I ever joined a Sherlockian society. The Illustrious Clients date back to 1946. When I was preparing a talk on Sherlock Holmes for my friends at the EB Ball Center here in Muncie, I read up on the history of the Baker Street Irregulars and the scion societies. I also met a member of the Clients who was in the audience at my talk. He encouraged me to join and I thought why not? I persuaded my husband to join with me (membership is $10 a person per year). Last night we “went” to our first meeting, which was held via Zoom. We all read “The Adventure of the Three Gables” ahead of the meeting. There were introductions, a member interview, toasts to some of the characters from the story, a trivia quiz on the story (with prizes – I won first place!) and a discussion. There were over 33 people in attendance and it was a lot of fun! I look forward to getting to meet these folks in person sometime in the next few months.

What have you been reading lately? Any other exciting news to share? Leave me a comment and let’s start a discussion!

Weekly Reader – Week 18 of 2020

I read a couple of books this week, enjoying both of them for the most part.

murder at half-moon gateFirst up, I read the second Wrexford and Sloane mystery by Andrea Penrose, Murder at Half-Moon Gate. Wrex and Charlotte are working together again to solve another murder. At least this time no one is accusing Wrexford of having committed it. This book, like the first in the series, was slightly disappointing. The mystery was good, keeping me guessing all the way through. It’s the relationships between the characters which fall flat for me. It’s all very predictable and almost cliched. Still, I’m intrigued enough to have gotten the third in the series from Hoopla. Perhaps it will throw some surprises my way.

The second book I read was nonfiction. The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the ghost of eden parkWomen Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott traces the rise and fall of George Remus. It was an interesting story of a man remaking himself, first as a pharmacist, then a lawyer, and finally a bootlegger. He was targeted by US Assistant Attorney General Mabel Walker Willebrandt, and her “ace investigator,” Franklin Dodge Jr. Dodge was not as honest as he should have been but Willebrandt, working in a man’s world and anxious to do her job well, refused to proceed against Dodge. She also refused to show any mercy to Remus, which seemed to me to be more about not wanting to be embarrassed for trusting Dodge rather than because she was trying to see justice done. This was like reading about a train wreck – you could see disaster coming and yet you couldn’t look away, you had to see how it would play out. At the end you were left with questions which no one but the players themselves could have answered, and they never did.

A highlight of my week was catching an author friend, Cassandra Chandler, doing her first Facebook Live the other night. It was fun to hear from her. She shared how she is always thinking of her readers and her love for her Department of Homeworld Security series. They are a series of interconnected sci-fi romance novellas. The stories are fun and light-hearted, with good humor and some steamy romance. I’ve enjoyed all of them and always like getting to learn more about Cassandra’s writing process.

What have you been reading this past week? Have you connected with any of your favorite authors? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Weekly Reader – Week 17 of 2020

I finished just one book this week, but it was a very good one. I’m about half-way through another at the moment.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to GhostsMy one book for this week was Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. Tuesday is a researcher for Boston General Hospital. She researches wealthy people, checking to see if they’ve ever been hospital patients, learning what their interests are, and helping determine if they have enough wealth to make a donation and if so, how best to approach them. She likes knowing things so she enjoys her job. She compiles mental files on everyone she meets – it has become ingrained habit. She occasionally volunteers at hospital events because she likes to have the chance to meet the people she’s researched. It gives her a chance to complete her mental picture of them. This is how she happens to be present when Boston billionaire and eccentric, Vincent Pryce, drops dead in the midst of a charity auction. Pryce’s death is the start of a crazy adventure for Tuesday, her friend Dex, her neighbor Dorry, and a cagey young heir to another wealthy Boston family who were reported to hate Pryce. For Vincent Pryce is as dramatic as his name suggests and in his will he set up an elaborate game for people to play, following clues related to Edgar Allen Poe. The book was laugh out loud funny in places, sad in others, and always fascinating as we followed not only the trail through Pryce’s clues but the impact the search has on all the main characters. I loved it and I’m trying to persuade my husband, who is a big Poe fan, to give it a try. I think he would enjoy the trivia, and the biting wit.

What have you been reading this week? Anything you want to recommend? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Weekly Reader – Week 16 of 2020

Enjoyed 3 books this week, while continuing to revisit the show Psych (thanks to free streaming via Amazon Prime I didn’t have to wait for USA to go on to the next seasons). We even bought a pineapple at the grocery store this weekend.

The Hunting PartyFirst up was The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Every year a group of friends who were all together at Oxford gather to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Each year a different friend picks out the spot for the gathering. This year Emma, who is the only one of the group who wasn’t at Oxford but is now dating one of them, picked a retreat in Scotland. The group can hunt deer on the estate and enjoy gourmet meals prepared by Emma while they relive their youth. The story jumps from the present-tense point-of-view of Heather, one of the workers at the retreat, to past-tense chapters from the point-of-view of three of the women in the group, Emma, Katie, and Miranda, as well as from Doug, another worker on the estate. As expected, the four women have very different perspectives on things. Emma seems to be trying too hard to befriend Miranda and also to look like her, which makes a certain sort of sad sense when we learn that Emma’s boyfriend, Mark, has a thing for Miranda and has since Oxford. Katie is feeling like the odd one out in the group, as usual, but this time it seems harder to deal with than in the past. Miranda is hurt and confused by the fact that Katie, who has been her friend since grade school, has withdrawn from her so much over the past year and doesn’t seem to be eager to use their time on this trip to reunite. Doug is wrestling with his PTSD after service in Afghanistan and has come to work on the estate as a way to hide out from the rest of the world. I found that, with the exception of Heather and Doug, I didn’t much care for any of these characters. Despite that, the use of moving from present-tense to past kept me turning the pages, wanting to find out exactly what had happened and who had done it. A Brush with Shadows

My next read was A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber. It’s the sixth book in her Lady Darby series and it was a delight to be back with Gage and Kiera once more. The setting was wonderfully atmospheric and creepy – a forbidding manor house in the midst of Dartmoor. The house wasn’t made any more welcoming by the occupants, relatives of Gage’s who were downright malicious. There was talk of a family curse, which struck anyone who dared defy the family. And there was the chance to learn more about Gage’s childhood and his mother, which I was just as eager to do as Kiera was. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and added some new and delightful characters to the group of friends and allies Kiera’s been building all along in this series.

An Artless DemiseI followed up the sixth book in the Lady Darby series (and I’m struck by how much Kiera would dislike them being called that) with the seventh, An Artless Demise. Kiera and Gage are in London. Kiera is pregnant and coping with the changes in her body while making forays into society once more. Mostly she’s getting along well, though there are always a few mean-spirited people who won’t let her forget about her past. Everything is thrown into disarray however when a group of resurrectionists are arrested for the murder of a young boy whose body they were attempting to sell to one of the medical schools. Suddenly the papers are full of details of the crime and the hearings, as well as reports of attempted “burkings” all over the city. Society cannot help but recall the accusations made against Kiera a few years before, after her first husband’s death revealed her involvement in his work on an anatomy text. Kiera was forced to make the illustrations for her abusive husband, but instead of being treated with sympathy people assumed she was unnatural and involved in her husband’s acquisition of corpses. Kiera knows Sir Anthony likely purchased bodies from resurrectionissts but she was not involved in any of that. Kiera’s father-in-law, Lord Gage, and members of the government are concerned about the possibility of unrest in London as a result of the murder. Gage and his valet/assistant Anderly are tasked with keeping abreast of the public sentiment. Complicating matters, Gage and Kiera witness the murder of a young man, heir to an Earl. The victim was stabbed, but there was a sticking plaster on his face, calling to mind broadsheet illustrations of Burke and Hare’s victims, who were shown being suffocated by a sticking plaster being applied over their noses and mouths (never mind that this wasn’t the way Burke and Hare dispatched their victims). The victim is a thoroughly unpleasant young man and Kiera and Gage might have found themselves in sympathy with his killer if not for the next victim, who was known to be a man of good character and high morals. Adding to their burdens, Kiera receives a blackmail note from anonymous resurrectionists claiming to have information about her involvement in her first husband’s dealings with them and threatening to publish it if they aren’t paid. And if all that wasn’t enough, the surgeon who Sir Anthony asked to complete publication of his anatomy text is now preparing to publish his late associate’s journals, which are sure to show Kiera in a very unfavorable light. There is a lot going on in this novel, making it a suspenseful read. It’s also an enjoyable one as we see Kiera’s small circle of friends rally to help her, and new allies are also found. I am eager for the next in the series, but I also know that at present there are no more after it. I’m torn between wanting to read it at once and wanting to hold off so I’m not left waiting as long for the next!

What have you been reading of late? Do you enjoy reading series, or do you find it too aggravating to have to wait the next installment? Leave a comment and let me know!

Weekly Reader – Week 15 of 2020

The Alice NetworkRead a couple books this week. They were on the long side, but I also got interrupted by a marathon of Psych on tv. It’s been fun to revisit that show. We even made jerk chicken for dinner the other night since Shawn and Gus were always eating it. It was delicious.

The first book of the week was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. The novel follows the stories of two women, Charlie and Eve. In 1947, Charlie is a math major who’s dropped out of school because she’s pregnant. Her mother is taking her to Switzerland for an “appointment” to take care of her Little Problem. Charlie leaves her mother behind when they reach England and heads for London, and Eve. She was given Eve’s name and address when she tried to find more information on her French cousin, Rose, who went missing during the war. The woman she finds is drunk, belligerent, and has crippled hands, though she’s still able to point a pistol at Charlie and threaten to shoot her. In 1915 Eve is recruited to be a spy for the British. She speaks French, English, and German fluently, though with a stutter. She is sent to German-occupied France, to become part of a network of spies run by the mesmerizing Lili. Lili’s network, dubbed The Alice Network by the British, is the most successful one in operation. As the search for Rose moves forward in 1947, we also learn about Eve’s work in 1915. It’s a compelling read as we move ever closer to finding out what happened to Eve’s hands and why she’s so bitter, as well as learning the fate of Charlie’s cousin, Rose.

Death Comes to Pemberly

My next read was Death Comes to Pemberly by PD James. It’s 1803 and Elizabeth and Darcy are well settled into their lives at Pemberly. Jane and Bingley live nearby and are frequent guests, as is Mr. Bennett. Wickham and Lydia are still together, and still not admitted to Pemberly though Lydia does visit Jane frequently. It is a shock, therefore, when a carriage comes up the drive during a stormy night bearing an hysterical Lydia. She was traveling to Pemberly, intending to attend the annual ball that is to be held the following evening. Wickham and Denny were with her. Denny left the carriage after an argument with Wickham, who followed him. A short time later Lydia and the driver heard shots in the distance and made their way as fast as they could to Pemberly. While Jane and Elizabeth attempt to cope with Lydia, Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, return to the wooded area where the two men left the carriage. Their search leads them to find Wickham, kneeling over the bloody body of Captain Denny. Wickham is arrested and charged with the crime. Darcy feels obligated to provide legal counsel for his brother-in-law. Neither he nor Elizabeth can believe Wickham capable of murder. But if not Wickham then who could have killed Denny? Was it Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose behavior and manner has changed now that he is his father’s heir? Was it one of the family who lives in the woodland? Or could it be that Darcy and Elizabeth are mistaken, and Wickham really did kill his long-time friend? This should have been a suspenseful read, but rather than feeling particularly compelling it mostly felt tedious. There were a couple clever references to other Austen characters, which I did enjoy. I think this book suffered a great deal because I couldn’t keep from comparing it to Carrie Bebris’s series that casts Elizabeth and Darcy into the roles of amateur sleuths while having them meet characters from each of Austen’s other novels. That series was great fun.

What have you been reading over this past week? Or did you find yourself binge-watching a show? If so, which one? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Weekly Reader – Week 14 of 2020

I did quite a lot of reading this week – one great perk of staying home. Also, a bunch of my holds from Overdrive all came in and I was trying to stay ahead of the due dates. 🙂

an act of villainyFirst up, I read An Act of Villainy, the 5th Amory Ames mystery by Ashley Weaver. Amory and Milo are pulled into another murder mystery when an actress, also rumored to be having an affair with a man who is a friend of theirs, is murdered after the premiere of a play her lover wrote and directed. Amory is concerned for the producer’s wife, also a friend. She feels great sympathy as she’s had her painful moments dealing with infidelity on Milo’s part. Milo, for his part, is resigned to Amory involving herself in the investigation. He asks her to be careful and not to act alone, which she readily agrees to (and promptly fails to do). More surprising is the reaction of Detective Inspector Jones of Scotland Yard. He actually enlists Amory’s help, albeit a trifle reluctantly. Together the three are able to get to the bottom of the mystery with a minimum of damage to Amory. little fires everywhere

Next I read Little Fires Everywhere from Celeste Ng. I keep seeing ads for the Hulu adaptation and it got me curious. I found I didn’t much care of most of these characters, save for Moody. No one seemed to take his feelings into account and in the end he seemed like he was the person who was going to be most hurt out of everything. It was a compelling read, even if I did want to shake and shout at the characters.

the subtle art of not giving a fuckI took a detour into nonfiction with the self-help book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Despite the profanity in the title (and in the first chapter, where it felt like the author was trying to hard to live up to that title) there weren’t any ideas here I hadn’t encountered before, in less profane phrasing. In essence, we are always choosing – how we react to events, how we feel, and what it is we prioritize and the key is to be conscious of those choices and make sure we’re only expending our f*cks on things that truly matter to us instead of getting up in arms about everything. Not bad advice, and something we can all use reminders about from time to time.

the silent patientI started The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides next. Maybe it was having just finished the self-help book but I could not get into this book at all. It was painfully evident from the start that our protagonist was going to make a series of incredibly stupid decisions and throw his entire personal and professional life into turmoil. I tried to give it a fair shot, but after I was 30% in and still feeling irritated and angry, I decided that was enough. This one was a DNF for me.
a curse so dark and lonelyThe last book I completed this week was a YA fantasy, a well done retelling of Beauty and the Beast titled A Curse so Dark and Lonely, written by Brigid Kemmerer. Harper is a modern American girl of 18, living in Washington DC and trying to cope with the bad decisions her father made while her mother is dying from cancer. Rhen is the prince of Emberfall, cursed to relive his 18th birthday over and over again. Each season his commander of Royal Guards, Grey, brings a girl to the palace and Rhen attempts to woo her. If she falls in love with him the curse will be broken and he won’t turn into a beast at season’s end. Over 300 some seasons, he has never succeeded. Harper steps in when she sees Grey attempting to take another girl and winds up getting pulled into Emberfall, and the curse. All she wants is to get back home to her brother and her mother. All Rhen wants is an end to his misery. The enchantress declares that this will be the final season – Rhen’s last chance. If Harper doesn’t fall in love with him by season’s end, he will transform into a beast once more and remain one. Meanwhile, Rhen’s people are starving and facing threats from an invading army. Harper wants to help the people she sees starving, and Rhen wants to find a way to save everyone. The conclusion is not all that I would have hoped for, but there is another book in the series which I hope will give some more information about what happens next.

I’ve started The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn, and am about 20% into it. I look forward to unraveling the various mysteries which have already been presented. What about you? What have you been reading of late? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Weekly Reader – Week 13 of 2020

My first week of mostly being home-bound was a good chance to read a lot. It also helped that so many more copies of ebooks became available in Overdrive – 10 different books became available for me this week!

as death draws nearFirst up was the fifth Lady Darby mystery, As Death Draws Near. Kiera and Sebastian’s honeymoon trip is interrupted by a letter from his father, Lord Gage, ordering the two of them to Ireland to investigate the death of a nun who also happened to be a cousin to Wellington. The first question is whether or not this death might have been an accident, but it’s clear that that wasn’t the case and if any doubt remained, the murder of another nun in the exact same place was enough to cast those out. Kiera and Sebastian must cope with the prejudices of the Catholics and the Protestants, the Irish and the English, and Lord Gage’s tendency to leave out pertinent details as they investigate. Along the way they also learn more about Kiera’s maid, Bree. It was a good mystery and a good story, giving us more information about the regular characters in the series along the way.

the huntress

My next read was The Huntress, by Kate Quinn. It was quite a different read from the Lady Darby mysteries. We shifted narrators, from Joanna McBride, a 17-year-old in post-war Boston who wants to become a photographer. She lives with her widowed father and is at first delighted, then suspicious, when he brings home a German woman he’s been dating. Ian Graham is a former journalist turned Nazi-hunter after covering the Nuremberg trials. Along with his colleague Tony he tracks down Nazis across Europe, but one target continues to elude his grasp: a woman known only as the Huntress, who murdered Ian’s younger brother. Finally we have Nina Markova, who grew up in Siberia and became part of the Night Witches, the Soviet’s all-female bombing squadron who terrorized the Nazis with their night raids. Nina encountered the Huntress when she was trapped behind enemy lines. As the novel unfolds we flash back to the past, learning how Nina came to encounter the Huntress even as Ian, Tony, and Nina head on a collision course toward Jordan and her stepmother. It was a riveting read (I finished it at 4:30 in the morning as I couldn’t put it down to get to bed).

a discovery of witchesLastly I read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I just finished it before starting this post in fact. The story was slow to pull me in but once it did it was hard to walk away from. Diana Bishop is a historian, specializing on the history of science and alchemy in particular. She also happens to be a witch, from a line of witches going back to the Salem trials (Bridget Bishop), but Diana has avoided the use of her powers save on dire occasions (such as a washing machine that kept filling with water to the point where it would have overflowed if she hadn’t acted). She hasn’t wanted anything to do with witchcraft since she lost her parents at age 7. Matthew Clairmont is a vampire, who turns up in the Bodelian library where Diana is researching just after she’s encountered a magical book. Before long more vampires, more witches, and groups of daemons have all turned up, setting up in the library to wait for Diana to touch the book again. They all want something from the manuscript. Diana wants to be left alone to continue her research, but that becomes impossible. The book is lengthy and I think there were places where things could’ve been trimmed to make for a tighter narrative, but overall it was very enjoyable, with good world-building and likable characters. I am eager to get the next in the series.

What have you been reading of late? How are you filling your time in these days of social distancing? Leave me a comment and let me know!