September Reading

In an effort to show up here a little more often, I'm going to change how I talk about what I read. For the time being, no more "Phyl's Phaves." Maybe some random blathering will be equally useful and less taxing to write.

When I left off my Summer Reads post, I was getting ready to listen to Sarah MacLean's 2014 RITA winner, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. I tried, and quit about 4 chapters in. As much as I wish I could say her books appeal to me, they do not. I can see why they appeal to other readers, and I'm happy that her writing peers awarded her a RITA, but I am not the reader for her. Are they too anachronistic? I don't know. Maybe. But then please tell me...

Why am I so enamored of Grace Burrowes and Kristen Ashley? Burrowes is often accused of historical inaccuracy and Ashley writes a kind of contemporary fantasy that I find very appealing while I simultaneously go, No! That's just nuts! I introduced a friend of mine to Ashley's books and she'll periodically text me to complain that she just can't believe she's caught up in another one of her books. I find it comforting to know I'm not alone. Anyway, In September I read The Golden Trail and Knight by Ashley. I liked both, but preferred the former. One of things that appeals to me most about Ashley's books is the community she creates around her MCs. Knight focused pretty much only on the MCs, but was shorter as well. I also read Burrowes' The Traitor and I found it to be a very interesting look at what happens when a man is caught between a rock and a hard place. Burrowes has a style and degree of emotional depth that drew me right in to this story. I haven't liked all of her stuff, but the truth is she hits more often than she misses.

Right now I find myself craving the familiar. I sailed through the latest JD Robb, Festive in Death. A visit with characters I'm fond of is almost as good as re-reading. Which I did a little of. This time I listened to my re-reads, as I continue to explore audiobooks. My re-reads were Mary Balogh's Simply Perfect and Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels. I think it's interesting to listen to a book I've read previously. If I tune out for a moment, I haven't really missed anything.

Other familiar authors include Sherry ThomasLiz Carlyle, and Stephanie Laurens. Actually it had been quite some time since I'd ready anything by Laurens. The plot of Loving Rose sounded interesting, so I gave it a try. It was so familiar I skimmed through the last half and decided that I'm pretty done with Laurens too. I loved Thomas' My Beautiful Enemy ONLY because I'd read the prequel, The Hidden Blade. Frankly, I think they should have been one book. That still ticks me off a little, but I have to admit, together they made a wonderful story.

So here is one thing that is UNfamiliar to me-- Outlander. I bought a print copy of it close to 10 years ago, started it and put it down for reasons I no longer remember. Then, about 4 years ago it was free for Kindle, so I "bought" it, gave away my print copy to save space, and left it unread. Now I have Starz only because it came with the sports package that gets me the MLB Network and NFL Red Zone. I really didn't intend to watch. Honest. Seriously. I mean it.

But two hours before the premier I set my DVR and watched. And yes, now I'm hooked. So, do I read the book or not? You tell me.

I'll leave you with a sneak peak at the latest quilt I started. The first of 12 blocks in a 3-color version of Elizabeth Hartman's Solar Eclipse pattern


  1. Sometimes I really do think it comes down to "voice." I have friends who adore both Ashley and Burrowes - and admittedly I'm more likely to eventually try the latter. I've seen enough examples of Ashley's writing that I think it would just drive me a little loopy. And I can deal with anachronistic, but like most things in life it all boils down to execution. Sometimes I don't mind it - and sometimes it gets on my last good nerve.

    1. I imagine that "voice" is exactly it, and for whatever reason those voices work very differently for different people. I get what you mean about Ashley, even as I keep reading her. She does make me laugh. I'll be interested in your reactions if you ever do try Burrowes. There's a lot to choose from.

  2. I discovered the Outlander books 17 years ago, and I loved, loved, LOVED the first three books. Of the TV series, I've only watched the first episode and the wedding episode, and I have to say that I prefer Book-Claire's voice to the (annoying) Voice-Over-Claire in the TV series. If I were you, I'd try the book again. (Book-Jamie is taller, too. ;-) )

    1. That's a hearty endorsement! I don't mind the voice-overs and maybe that is because I had no frame of reference. I'm really impressed with the acting (especially Frank/Capt. Randall) and the cinematography is beautiful. Anyhow, I'm now thinking that Outlander might be the perfect read over Christmas while we visit family (lots of air travel). Thank you!

  3. Although I kept reading the Outlander series, in my head I like to pretend that the first three books are a complete trilogy and the rest are a VERY LONG epilogue. Voyager, the third book, was a hard but satisfying book for me to read. There are definitely problematic elements, but I even re-read Voyager, which says a lot.

    I agree with Wendy that voice is important. I haven't tried Ashley (just have no interest), but some of Burrowes' books have worked for me. Even as I eye-roll over the anachronisms, I get caught up in the characters and their story. I just consider her books to be set in the "Recency," a term I stole from Tessa Dare (another author whose books work for me, even when I'm wincing at the a-historicity). But MacLean hasn't worked for me; I don't know what it is, but I just don't get caught up in her characters.

    Looking at your list, I see Molly O'Keefe -- did you read Between the Sheets? Did you like it? I just read the fourth book in the Bishop series, and I think 2 and 4 are my favorites.

    1. That's a helpful way to look at the Outlander series. Maybe if I think of just the trilogy it will be less intimidating.

      "Recency" is a great term; I hadn't seen it before. I agree, if I can get caught up in the characters I can overlook a lot. I've read some of Dare's books, but she, too, has been hit or miss for me.

      I did read Between the Sheets! And forgot to mention how much I liked it. Like you, I'd say #2 is my favorite so far. #4 is in the TBR pile. I'm looking forward to that one.


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