Is there ever a time of year that's NOT good for reading? I don't think so. Now that the leaves are starting to fall and breezes have that little bit of a cool nip, all my book squirrel instincts are kicking in. Time to start gathering plenty of books, hot cocoa and tea supplies, and go dig out my thick wooby reading socks!
Here are a few suggestions for your fall reading stack:
THE SKELETON TAKES A BOW by Leigh Perry, AKA our very own Toni Kelner, is second in her new series starring my favorite leading skinny guy, Sid. He's a skeleton that has mysteriously retained his personality despite being, you know, dead. I adore him. He's a kind-hearted soul who loves his family, made up of Georgia Thackeray, an adjunct college professor and her teenage daughter, Madison.
Sid convinces Madison that he would be perfect for the part of Yorick in her school's production of Hamlet. While backstage, Sid overhears a heated argument followed by what sounds like a murder.
What I love most about this series is the "real" quality of the characters and their world. Georgia doesn't make much money as an adjunct. Living on a strict budget and working a mostly thankless job is the norm for most real-life families, but we rarely see this in fictional characters. This and the first in the series have a perfect mix of realistic situations and laugh-out-loud craziness. Both are lots of fun.
BLESS HER DEAD LITTLE HEART by Miranda James, who is also an AKA, our own Mr. Dean James. All the Femmes are so excited about this book which entered the New York Times Bestseller list at #14!
This new series is certainly off to a great start. The main characters, An'gel and Dickse Ducote, are two well-to-do sisters in their eighties who live in a Civil War-era house in Mississippi. Their quiet lives are rudely interupted by an old sorority sister who is brash, a little off in the head and always needs money.
I loved the way the story unfolds and don't want to spoil your enjoyment of that. I'll just say it reminded me of funny British theater at times.
It was also especially fun for me because I know the real-life Ducote sisters, most definitely NOT in their eighties. Dean did a fantastic job setting up this new series. Can't wait for the next one!
A SECOND CHANCE: Volume 3 of The Chronicles of St. Mary's
by Jodi Taylor
I've realized this month that three of my new favorite series are either totally or mostly historical novels. The Chronicles of St. Mary's books fall in the mostly category. In these, the heroine is Max, a young female historian who leads one of the time-travel teams at the St. Mary's Institute. She is strong, brash and frequently profane. Her dream of studying the last days of Troy has finally come true. She and her team jump back and spend several months gathering data on all aspects of life just before the Trojan horse comes in and the city falls.
I highly recommend this series as long as:
- You don't mind some foul but often hilarious language
- You don't mind a sex scene or two
- You don't mind a little of that British way of brain-scrambling
- You read the series in order
Really, start with the first book. Each one has several time-travel jumps, some of which are straight-forward, some are mysterious and entwine in and out of all three books. A terrific series. You'll thank me. :)
I read several installments this month in the other two fave historical series:
TERRA INCOGNITA by Ruth Downie is the second book about Roman army surgeon Gaius Petreius Ruso and his housekeeper, companion and former slave Tilla, a native of Britannia. As far as reading real history, I don't care much for the Roman Britain era. However, I do love the chemistry between Ruso, the military man, and Tilla, the young Celtic woman who is wise beyond her years. And good with a quick comeback.
The tensions between the Romans and the conquered natives are reaching breaking point. At the scenes of several murders, witnesses claim to have seen a Stag Man. Tilla becomes involved in helping Ruso find more information to prevent future killings and possibly an overthrow planned by native criminals.
PERSONA NON GRATA, third in the series, takes Ruso and Tilla out of Britannia and back to Ruso's home in Gaul. He received a letter, supposedly from his brother, saying he must return home immediately though no reason was given. Since Ruso is out of commission anyway due to injuries from the last book, he sets out with Tilla on the long trip to find out what new catastrophe has fallen upon his family's already dire circumstances.
BLOOD LANCE by Jeri Westerson is the fifth Crispin Guest book. Guest is a disgraced knight in 14th century England who now ekes out a living as a private tracker. I am crazy about these books. Though unable to move in the royal circles he once did, Guest still has a few allies left who help him out on occasion. All his relationships are so well done, friends and foes. My favorites though are the Archishop of Westminster, an old friend and teacher from his youth, and Guest's faithful servant, Jack Tucker who is growing into a fine young man.
One night, Guest is out past curfew, and on his way home, he witnesses a man being thrown out a window on London Bridge and falling into the Thames. When he goes to investigate, he finds out that the dead man was a metalsmith who was working on a very special project that involved an ancient religious relic.
In the sixth book, SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, Guest is hired by Nicholas Flamel, a famous alchemist who is living temporarily in London. He asks Guest to find his wife and assistant who have been kidnapped. Flamel is known for creating the Philosopher's Stone, something that any number of criminals would kill for.
Great series. Really looking forward to see what happens next.
So that's me, y'all. What's happening in your book world?