“Ye Toads and Vipers!”
Meggy Swann has reason to be angry. Her mother had finally succeeded in getting rid of her, having her dumped miles and miles from home at her father’s tiny house in London. She’s never met him before, and he clearly doesn’t want her. It’s not like she can run away somewhere else though. An accident at birth has left her legs crooked, and she is in constant pain.
Only able to walk with the help of two sticks, the world of 1573 can be an especially cruel place for such a one, but she has angrily adapted. Alchemy and Meggy Swann, by Karen Cushman, tells her story from the time she is dumped like a sack on her father’s narrow doorstep, frightened and seemingly helpless, to the brave things she must do to protect herself and others she has come to love.
Tessa Harris’ The Anatomist’s Apprentice plunges the reader into the viscera of 18th-century English culture and crime.
Jessie Knadler, transplanted from Montana, is living a less than satisfying life in the Big Apple. She’s just been laid off from her position as a magazine editor; she recently learned that her lover has a proclivity for (really) young girls; and she’s certain that her late nights spent drinking into the wee hours will not prolong her life. When she’s offered a freelance opportunity to return to Montana to write a story on a popular rodeo event, Jessie figures she’s got nothing better to do…plus there’s always the nagging fact of needing cash. In Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love, Jessie’s trip back West will dramatically change her life.
Promising young archaeologist Verity Grey ventured to the wilds of Scotland for a job interview little knowing that she was leaving behind her secure London flat for encounters with ghostly visions and the threat of madness in Susanna Kearsley’s Shadowy Horses.
In A Vision of Light, by Judith Merkle Riley, Margaret of Ashbury is a rather ordinary albeit quite pretty woman—ordinary that is, except for the Voice she sometimes hears and the visions she sometimes sees. One day, the Voice tells Margaret that she should write a book about the extraordinary things that have happened to her. She argues with the Voice… she is a woman so who would listen to her, and what is more, like nearly everybody, she does not know how to write. And further, she has not done any great deeds worth writing about.
The Voice answered:
“Put in it what you have seen. There is nothing wrong with being a woman, and doing ordinary things. Sometimes small deeds can show big ideas. As for writing, do as others do: get someone to write it for you.”
“Voice,” I said, “how do I know you are from God, and not the Devil, tempting me into something foolish?”
“Margaret,” answered the Voice, “isn’t it a good idea? God never gives bad ones.”
Johann had been terrible to her, absolutely terrible! Beautiful, 17-year-old Giselle told him that she loved him, and he had waved her away. He thought her family was not rich enough, not important enough for him to consider a relationship with her. But Johann was wrong. Shortly after he humiliated her, she and her sister discovered that they did come from an important family—and they were rich. For Giselle and her identical twin Ingrid are Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters.
As Cecilia Holland’s historical romance Great Maria opens, our young and pretty heroine is doing what any well-bred medieval girl might be about on a blustery afternoon: visiting a religious shrine some miles from home and contemplating a life in the convent. Guarded as she is by a handful of her father’s knights, she cannot help noticing that one of them is extremely young and handsome... and that he has noticed her. But when a sudden vicious attack leaves her in dire peril, it is an older knight with cool gray eyes who defends her and brings her back to her father’s castle.
In its first chapters, Sweet Tooth begins like Dickens’ David Copperfield. Serena Frome (rhymes with Plume) tells of her unremarkable childhood and how she ends up working as a spy for Britain’s MI5. With her blonde and beautiful looks, she is a bit of a Bond Girl and wreaks havoc on the men around her.
A good all-around student, Serena devours novels and wants to do an English degree in a small university, but her housewife mother, in an uncharacteristic fit of feminism, tells her she has a chance of making something of herself by going to Cambridge and doing “maths.”
Never Apologize for Your Reading Tastes. Libraries live by this adage from Betty Rosenberg. But, truthfully? We're all biased. There are those who won't get near a bestseller--reading only serious non-fiction, or, perhaps, literary fiction. My personal eye-rolling, disdainful sniffiness was aimed squarely at paperback romances. Until I actually, well, read some of them.