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HomeHistorical BooksPhrase Wenches: June What We're Studying!

Phrase Wenches: June What We’re Studying!

Blood of a GladiatorMary Jo right here…

…with the Wenches’ ever in style “What we’re studying” weblog.  Dig out your bank cards, we’re going for a pleasure journey!

I’ve at all times recognized that Jennifer Ashley is a really proficient, prolific creator who writes historic romances, paranormals, and historic mysteries, however I hadn’t discovered her Leonidas the Gladiator sequence, written underneath her Ashley Gardner pseudonym.  Up to now there are solely two novels and a novella, however extra are coming.  The primary guide is Blood of a Gladiator.

Leonidas is the premier gladiator in Rome, a rock star fighter who’s acknowledged within the streets, however he has reached the purpose the place he cannot face any extra killing.  That’s the second when he receives his freedom from slavery and might lastly stop being a gladiator and make his personal life–if he can work out how.

He has no monetary assets, however an unknown benefactor offers him a modest condo and a slave of his personal: Cassia, who’s a scribe.  Illiterate Leonidas would not know what to do with  a slave who does would not prepare dinner or do house responsibilities, however she might help him discover jobs and is superb at negotiating contracts and ensuring they receives a commission. 

Initially Cassia is afraid of him, however he is a great man and would not ravish her and step by step they develop a bond of belief.  And must take care of surprising murders.  Ashley Gardner creates an exquisite sense of place and what it will be prefer to dwell in Rome through the reign of Nero.  However one of the best half is the characters and their slowing growing relationship. 


The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi Kaiju preservation society

Scalzi is a bestselling science fiction creator and an excellent storyteller and he is gained all the massive awards a number of occasions.  Within the afterword of this guide, he explains how he was imagined to be writing a Massive Sophisticated Guide with Essential Concepts through the lockdown, however he simply could not.  (A place I completely perceive.) 

He’d simply advised his editor to overlook about getting a guide for this yr when he had an concept for a brief, gentle, enjoyable story, a pop tune of a guide. And thus was born The Kaiju Preservation Society. For these like me who did not know, “kaiju” is a Japanese phrase for an amazing huge city-smashing monster like Godzilla, although I collect the phrase is used for different nice huge metropolis smashing monsters.

Jamie Grey, our narrator, was engaged on a PhD in literature when he chucks it to go to NYC and make good cash doing advertising at a begin up meals supply firm.  Which is okay till his ghastly boss steals his concepts and fires him from his government place however generously permits him work as a meals supply man simply on the metropolis goes into the pandemic lockdown.  With no different choices, Jamie buckles down and delivers food–until one in all his common prospects in determined want of  a brand new employee presents him a job with an ‘animal rights’ group.  They shield giant animals, however Jamie should agree instantly and be prepared to go off the grid for months at a time. 

Jamie jumps on the probability, and shortly learns that the kaiju are on an alternate earth crammed with critters that wish to eat something in sight, together with people.  He is virtually the one one on the bottom that is not a PhD scientist however the world is fascinating and his coworkers are nice. But it surely seems that 100 meter tall monsters will not be probably the most harmful issues on Kaiju Earth.… 

I discovered the story fast paced, intriguing, stuffed with deadpan humor, and nice enjoyable to learn even in case you’ve by no means seen a Godzilla film. <G> 

Beach HouseChristina right here!:

This month I learn and liked Sarah Morgan’s newest launch, Seaside Home Summer time. This can be a fabulous summer season story that stored me turning the pages till 4am! When Joanna Whitman’s well-known ex-husband dies in a automobile accident, her quiet life disappears right away as she turns into the goal of the sort of media frenzy she’s at all times tried to keep away from. A younger, pregnant lady was with him within the crash, and she or he survived however is completely unprepared for the eye this brings from the press.

Considerably unexpectedly, Joanna involves her rescue and the 2 forge a bond with stunning outcomes. The characters are great, the story emotional and poignant, and the second probability romance in a single plot strand, plus the friends-to-lovers romance in one other, had me on tenterhooks hoping for a cheerful decision to each. I did not need it to finish and on the identical time I could not cease till I completed. The characters lingered in my thoughts – the signal of a really good guide!

I additionally picked up Guide Lovers by Emily Henry. This was an uncommon story that performed with all of the widespread romance tropes and I actually loved it! Nora is a literary agent who loves her fast-paced life in New York and has no time for sentimentality. Charlie is an editor who is thought for being equally ruthless. Their first assembly is a catastrophe, however two years later they each find yourself in a tiny city in North Carolina and start to see a special aspect to one another. Right here they’re each geese out of water who don’t slot in, and the chemistry between them is off the charts.

I liked seeing this relationship develop and the quirky solid of characters round them had been nice too. The stereotypes are all there, however the story doesn’t progress the best way it ought to in a rom-com. This odd couple grows on you and I used to be rooting for all of them the best way. In reality, I appreciated it a lot, I went on to purchase and browse one other of her books – Seaside Learn – which was additionally nice.

Lastly, I learn one thing I’ve by no means tried earlier than – an LGBT YA novel, Insurgent Boys and Rescue Canine, or Issues that Kiss with Tooth by Brianna R. Shrum. The Rebel Boysheroine, Brynn, is a neurotic, over-anxious teenage lady who’s determined to flee her household’s unhealthy repute and the trailer park she lives in. She research onerous, is on tonnes of committees, and has barely any social life. However the one time she goes to a celebration, every thing goes fallacious and she or he finally ends up arrested and given group service. She doesn’t need anybody to seek out out, however the pitbull rescue centre the place she begins work is owned by the daddy of one in all her classmates, Oliver. He occurs to be somebody Brynn screwed out of a serious scholarship alternative and he’s livid. If he ought to occur to inform anybody in school that she was arrested, every thing she’s labored so onerous for will disappear. She’s compelled to make a pact with him – he’ll hold her secret if she helps him get one other shot on the scholarship. Slowly however certainly, Brynn begins to need Oliver for greater than his capability to maintain quiet. However Oliver will not be your common highschool man and issues are difficult …

Though the heroine virtually drove me loopy together with her egocentric angle and her anxiousness about completely every thing, I couldn’t assist however empathise together with her on the identical time. I used to be rooting for her and hoping she’d discovered a soulmate in Oliver. The story was uncommon (for me) and interesting, and I’m actually happy I picked it up.

From Pat:

Fountains%20abbeyA Dying at Fountains Abbey, by Antonia Hodgson, a Thomas Hawkins thriller. That is a part of a sequence and it’s apparent the protags have a protracted historical past collectively. Thomas is a gentleman rake and gambler who way back misplaced his inheritance, however apparently he’s a pleasing fellow who loves his tavern wench, who tends to be cussed and typically smarter than he’s. Tasked by the queen to retrieve the inexperienced ledger containing the names of all of the aristocrats who survived the South Sea Bubble–while the remainder of the nation plunged into bankruptcy–Thomas pretends he’s visiting on the queen’s behest to unravel loss of life threats to her former chancellor, the one who promoted the South Sea shares.

I’m not a fan of thrillers, however I like a great thriller with historical past, so I skipped the suspense passages and didn’t miss a beat. The analysis is printed on the finish, though a lot of it’s woven seamlessly into the story so it isn’t burdened with historic element. There are passing references to wigs however little extra to provide away the time interval past the historical past. Largely, it’s only a good strong thriller that isn’t simply solved.

Nicola right here:

Christina beat me to it recommending Sarah Morgan’s Seaside Home Summer time which I additionally thought was a wonderful learn so I’ll simply say that I echo every thing Christina says concerning the great characters and wealthy emotional story. It’s one other winner from a Wench favorite creator!

 This month I’ve been re-reading some previous favourites in historic fiction, in addition to some new ones. First up was The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick which was her first guide, written in 1990. I’d forgotten fairly how vivid and interesting this story was and rediscovering it was such a deal with. It’s set in Wales within the twelfth century the place Guyon of Ledworth is using dwelling from the courtroom of King William Rufus by the troubled border lands. The King has decreed that he ought to make a wedding with Judith of Ravenstow. The households have at all times been enemies…

Judith is not any extra enamoured of the potential match than Guyon is, much less so in truth as she is in her teenagers and resentful of getting her destiny determined so peremptorily. A marriage of lions
Nonetheless the 2 of them must discover a solution to come to phrases and as battle and political intrigue erupt, the one manner they will survive is collectively.

I liked the best way by which the creator depicted the evolving relationship between Judith and Guyon, exhibiting how they get to know and belief each other first earlier than they fall in love. Guyon is a wonderful hero, possessed of all of the knightly qualities you may ask for. He’s affected person and considerate as he courts his new younger spouse very slowly. He has to attend for Judith to develop up and each of them be taught and develop as characters while this occurs. It’s stunning and romantic and the background of the turbulent interval in Welsh historical past is so nicely drawn it’s utterly engrossing. I liked it. I’m now studying Elizabeth Chadwick’s most up-to-date guide, A Marriage of Lions, and having fun with that equally as a lot.

 On a special observe, I raced by The Night time Hawks by Elly Griffiths, which is quantity 13 within the Ruth Galloway sequence. It’s probably much more creepily suspenseful than the opposite books within the sequence with all the standard substances of magic and folklore, crime, the awful however stunning Norfolk panorama and naturally the simmering pressure of the connection between Ruth and Nelson. It made it all of the extra vivid that I used to be studying it while on vacation in Norfolk!

Susan’s flip:

Anna Quindlen’s latest, Write for Your Life, explores the significance of writing to everybody, authors and others, how writing underscores and preserves the importance of what occurs round us and inside us. She begins with a take a look at Anne Frank’s diary, how the mundane little particulars and ephemera of life captured by a younger lady in extraordinary circumstances turned some of the essential books of that century and humanity. Then she goes on to discover inventive writing lessons, handwriting and the lack of it in our time, and a number of great subjects that we would take into consideration from time to time. Quindlen probes deeper to seek out the value and the that means of it. Interspersing heat and considerate essays with quotes, all packaged in a wonderful little guide, Write for Your Life is a love letter to the expression and the artwork of writing.

Jackson mother may IAlthough I have never learn Joshilyn Jackson prior to now, she’s been on my want record, and after I heard she’s writing taut mysteries now, I jumped in. Mom, Might I is about as sharp and absorbing a up to date thriller-mystery as they arrive, and I used to be riveted. Bree Cabat, spouse of a lawyer and mother of three, has a great life–until the day a creepy previous lady steals her toddler from proper underneath her nostril. Guilt-ridden and devastated, Bree should reply instantly and secretly, faking all is nicely whereas coping with the girl’s calls for with a view to shield her little one.

The primal and emotional premise of a mom coping with the kidnapping of her little one is a tricky topic, and as a longtime mother, I used to be fairly fearful (susan! it is fiction!) — however Jackson is an absolute grasp of each a part of the writing craft, from fiercely good prose to genuine characters and a plot that rolls alongside. Bree, her husband, his detective finest buddy, her youngsters and others are actual characters all the way down to their toes, tangible, resourceful, resilient, and flawed, in order that the reader is simply pulled proper in as the stress mounts and the layers within the thriller turn into extra concerned — and surprises at each flip result in an surprising decision. Only a cracking good story, and I am wanting ahead to studying extra of Jackson’s books. 

Andrea’s decisions:

This month I glommed by the newest books by two of my favourite authors. I’m an enormous fan of the Regency-set Sebastian St. Cyr thriller sequence by C. S. Harris, and The place Blood Lies, the seventeenth guide within the sequence, was, as regular, an enchanting and riveting learn. It’s not straightforward to maintain a long-running sequence contemporary, however Harris has created a really complicated and mysterious backstory to Sebastian’s life and what makes him tick, and she or he’s been cleverly unraveling bits and items all through the books.

On this newest addition, Napoleon has simply been banished to Elba and the Bourbon king restored to the throne of France, which permits Sebastian and his spouse to journey to Paris. Sebastian has been making an attempt to find his long-lost mom (that’s an entire backstory in itself) and he’s lastly found she’s been residing within the metropolis for years. He’s hoping to be taught the reality from her concerning the id of his actual father. Nonetheless, he finds that she’s been brutally attacked and stabbed, and she or he dies earlier than she will be able to reply any of his questions.

Intent on unraveling why she was killed and bringing the assassin to justice, Sebastian and his spouse rapidly discover themselves caught up in a tangled net of treachery Killers of a Certain Ageand deceit as Royalists and supporters of Napoleon play a devious “recreation of thrones.” Readers get an fascinating take a look at Paris and the historical past of French politics in addition to a twisty thriller. The writing and character growth are very good, and I loved it totally.

I’m additionally an enormous fan of Deanna Raybourn. These of you who’re aware of her great Woman Julia Gray and Veronica Speedwell historic thriller sequence know that Deanna writes very sturdy—and delightfully eccentric—ladies protagonists.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to snag an ARC of her upcoming September guide, Killers of a Sure Age. (which is at present obtainable for pre-order.) It’s one thing totally different for Deanna—a up to date novel that includes . . . ladies of a sure age. 4 ladies of their 60’s have been working for the previous 40 years as assassins for a clandestine worldwide group recognized solely as “The Museum,” whose lofty mission is to rid the world of unhealthy guys—arms sellers, human traffickers, corrupt enterprise titans and politicians, and different equally evil slimeballs. Knowledgeable that it’s time for them to retire, the 4 of them will not be comfortable, however determine to take the flowery all-expenses-paid cruise supplied as a thank-you from The Museum’s three administrators—solely to find that they themselves are being focused for elimination.

However by no means underestimate the wiles of ladies of a sure age! They elude the primary assault, after which got down to uncover why they’re a goal, and what to do about it. Let the enjoyable start—and the blood circulate! Deciding that their very own solely possibility is to eradicate the three male administrators, they need to work out how to take action with few assets to name on save for their very own wits and ingenuity. It’s a wonderful darkly comedian and snarky story. The interaction between the 4 ladies, every dealing with totally different challenges within the ageing course of, is simply great. I extremely advocate it!

Anne right here.

Within the final month, I have been studying previous favorites — quite a lot of Trisha Ashley. The brand new books I’ve learn are one romantic comedy and one crime novel.

Final yr, Susan really helpful Seaside Learn, by Emily Henry, and I learn and loved it on the time. This month I learn Emily Henry’s Guide Lovers and loved it much more.

CityOfScarsNora is a cut-throat literary agent on the prime of her recreation — she’s often known as “the shark” and New York is her territory. Charlie is a grouchy New York editor with a expertise for creating bestsellers. The one time he and Nora met, they clashed. Burned by her failures in love, Nora is not fascinated with relationship, however her youthful sister persuades her right into a one month trip within the small city of Sunshine Falls, the setting of her prime consumer’s runaway romance bestseller. They make an inventory of issues to do — the thought being to shake Nora out of her rut . . .  And naturally, as a substitute of assembly horny shepherds or good-looking bartenders, who turns up on this one-horse city, however Charlie.

It is a enjoyable learn, with some good depth as two cynical, mismatched folks discover they’ve far more in widespread than they thought. And within the meantime Nora’s relationship together with her sister wants work . . .  A really helpful learn with a feel-good ending.

The crime novel was Metropolis of Scars, the newest in JD Kirk’s Scottish crime sequence starring DCI Logan. As regular, JD Kirk has created a cracking good crime/thriller with dramatic motion, and on the identical time the interaction between the members of DCI Logan’s police crew infuses the guide with some great character-based humor. Extremely really helpful — but when you have not learn any of those, it pays to start out with the primary guide, and get to know the characters as they develop. 

See any you want? What have you ever been studying?  Inform us, please!

Mary Jo




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