Newsletter: WHAT I'M READING by Sian

Monday Oct 05 2015

I know it’s fall, because my ‘To Read’ pile is growing and yet so is the number of books I’m behind on my reading challenge at Goodreads (13, if you were wondering). September was a whirlwind of travel, visitors, and trying to soak up the last of the summer weather. But now it’s fall, the perfect weather to curl up with tea and a book. Here are some of my most recent recommendations as well as upcoming releases I’m excited for.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the benefit of owning your own bookstore is getting to sell whatever you want, even if it isn’t quite a mystery. I had been hearing a lot about Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, so I finally got my hands on an advanced copy. I was sceptical the first few pages, but it quickly became unputdownable. The Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers, really the head magician in Britain, is hated by most of his compatriots. Why? Because he is a young black man, a freed slave, who they believe does not deserve the title due to the circumstances of his birth (sound familiar?). In an attempt to find out why magic is drying up he meets Prunella Gentleman, a young woman of equally inopportune birth, who may have the solution to his problem. Not only is the book a delightful read and has me dying for the promised book #2 in the trilogy, it looks at some really important topics including racism, sexism, and post-colonial norms. I’m often asked to recommend books for precocious young readers, particularly girls, and this would suit beautifully, especially in hardcover under the tree on Christmas morning. No sex, drugs, or rock & roll, I promise, just some talking familiars.

I was disappointed that Deanna Raybourn finished her ‘Lady Julia Grey’ series, but I’m glad she ended it before the books got stale. I haven’t been as interested in her more recent early 20th century standalones, but I was excited to see her talk about a new series. The first book in said series, A Curious Beginning, stars Veronica Speedwell, a young woman of unknown birth (are we sensing a theme?) who upon the death of her guardian finds herself ready to take on the world. There is, of course, a hitch and it brings her into the orbit of an enigmatic gentleman named Stoker. I didn’t see the twist coming and I think it will introduce an interesting perspective to upcoming books. This book is lighter than the ‘Lady Julia Grey’ books, which makes it an even easier read. The book is just in hardcover now, but would make an excellent Christmas gift for the Deanna Raybourn or Tasha Alexander fan in your life.

Speaking of Tasha Alexander, The Adventuress, Lady Emily #10, will be available in hardcover in October.

I’ve reviewed it already, but I wanted to mention that Laurie R. King’s Dreaming Spies, Mary Russell #13, is out in trade paperback the first week of October. I don’t think I’m the only person who found the last two books weaker, but I can assure you King is back in fine fettle here. She has also shared an excerpt from the upcoming, and tantalizingly titled, The Murder of Mary Russell, in her newsletter and I cannot wait.

For Gail Carriger fans, Finishing School #3, Waistcoats & Weaponry will be available in trade paperback in October with the final book in the series, Manners & Mutiny, available in hardcover in November. Waistcoats & Weaponry felt like it was mostly laying the groundwork for a final in Manners & Mutiny, so I’m excited to have some closure to the series.

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