Newsletter: What I'm Reading by Sian

Monday Feb 01 2016

I am sitting on a ‘to read’ pile about a mile high, as well as a dedicated ‘to read’ bookshelf, and yet I still worry I’m going to run out of things to read! Fortunately, not only do many of my favourite authors keep writing books, but I keep finding older series to catch up on!

This month’s theme is very much Not Traditional Women’s Work. I was a bit confused about Christine Trent’s ‘Lady of Ashes’ series because our computer system was showing The Mourning Bells as book #1, when it is actually book #4. That mixup corrected, I found my way to the actual first book, appropriately title The Lady of Ashes. The series features undertaker Violet Morgan, who works with her husband Graham in their business Morgan Undertaking. Without revealing too much, this book basically sets up the series involving a romance, an orphan, and post-Independence British/US relations. The second book, Stolen Remains, leaps ahead a few years where the character’s primary relationships are not the focus, both plotting devices I appreciate. The series is also an interesting look at the early days of embalming and the business of death as a whole, which is quite fascinating (if a little gross, at times). All five books in the series are available in trade paperback.

Much like undertaking, drawing dead bodies for anatomy textbooks was likewise considered Not Women’s Work, but Lady Kiera Darby found herself without much choice thanks to her father’s selection of her husband. After her husband’s death (and his anatomy textbook thoroughly shocked the ton), Lady Darby finds solace with her sister’s family in the Highlands. In The Anatomist’s Wife, a murder occurs, obviously, as does a handsome enigmatic gentleman with whom to solve it. I’ve only just finished book two, Mortal Arts, but this series also doesn’t start one book moments after the last left off, nor does it rush the romance or make it a central plot point. I’m looking through to working my way through the remaining three books (so far). The first three books are available in trade paperback with book #4 (A Study in Death) coming in mass market this July in time for the newest hardcover, As Death Draws Near.

Just as women weren’t at one time meant to be undertakers or artists of anatomy, princesses aren’t meant to fight monsters. And yet…Shannon Hale’s sweet series ‘Princess in Black’ features Princess Magnolia trying to balance her responsibilities as a Princess as well as keeping the monsters at bay.  The Princess in Black and The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party are fun books for the young person in your life who happens to enjoy princesses and fighting monsters. Age range is 5-8, which makes these great for new readers, but they are also fun for someone else to read aloud.

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