Archive | What I’m Reading Wednesday RSS feed for this section

What I’m Reading — Unfamiliar Settings

24 Mar

I have been reading a totally engrossing novel. While I love the story and the characters, the setting is what has fueled my imagination. A Tapestry of Light is Kimberly Duffy‘s sophomore novel. Her debut, A Mosaic of Wings, was partially set in India in the late 1880s. That book opened a new world for me, but it is with her second book that I can immerse myself in the sights, sounds, and even smells of historic India. The main character is Anglo-Indian or as termed in the past, Eurasian. Her viewpoint combined with the lushly detailed narrative has enchanted me. That brings me to my question for discussion:

Do you often read novels set in unfamiliar locations?

I am a big fan of learning something new while reading. That does not often translate into settings I would term unfamiliar — a place that is vastly different from what I encounter in day to day life with differing customs, foods, dress, etc. I have read a few books that would fit that description, but most were historical fiction. Here are a few:

Set in the Holy Land, the island of Nevis, and Australia, respectively, they featured a time and place I was unfamiliar with. I think that learning about the history of a place helps me understand its modern-day world. A Tapestry of Light is a great view into India under British rule and gives some insight into what it is today.

What do you like about an unfamiliar setting?

In researching this topic, I found most of the contemporary books I have read feature missions, which is good. But I think I would like some that feature more of the day to day life of those who are citizens of the locales. Here are a few contemporary books that have unfamiliar settings. Of the three I have featured, only Two Destinies does not have a missions connection.

Let me know what you think. And I’d love some book recommendations!

What I’m Reading — Backlists

24 Feb

Have you ever discovered a new author that has been around for a while unbeknownst to you? Isn’t it wonderful when you find an author you just love and then find out there are all these other books to read? Of course, that is, until it sets your TBR pile to teetering. But that’s a topic for another time.

I discovered two new-to-me authors last year. Tom Threadgill writes mystery/suspense. I read Collision of Lies thinking it was a debut. Nope. He has three thrillers published before Collision of Lies. And of course Roseanna M. White is a new novelist only to me. She has several series under her belt and more books to be published. So what to do?

I generally have a very full reading schedule between review books and book club selections. Working in an author’s backlist is almost impossible, but I am trying my best to get caught up. That’s where audiobooks come in. I am on book 2 of Threadgill’s Jeremy Winter Thriller series. Fortunately for me the first two books in the series are included in my Audible membership. These books are decidedly different from my first foray into Threadgill’s writing. Darker — they involve serial killers — they are still riveting reads (or listens).

So that leads to my first question:

 

What do you think about an author’s writing evolution? Change of tone, structure, or subject matter.

 

I had only read 2 of Threadgill’s novels, Collision of Lies and Network of Deceit, before heading to his backlist. I think that helped in becoming comfortable with the change in style and tone. Although comfortable is probably not the word I would describe while reading one of his thrillers. Think Steven James and Criminal Minds.

 

With Roseanna White, I read The Number of Love first because it was a Christy Award nominee in 2020. Although it is the first book in a series, it has secondary characters that had their own books in a previous series. (I have the first book of two of her other series already on my shelves.)

Hence question #2:

 

After discovering a new author, do you immediately go back and read their backlist in chronological order or do you just proceed forward?

 

With White, I haven’t done either. I’m still trying to decide if I want to go all the way back to her first book or finish The Codebreakers series first. Oh what hard reading dilemmas! 😉

 

So what do you think about authors’ backlists?

 

 

What I’m Reading — Genre Variety

13 Jan

In an effort to stay away from social media, but still engage in bookish conversations, I am kicking off a What I’m Reading post that I hope will become a regular thing here at By The Book. Today I am talking genres.

I am a very eclectic reader, loving a wide variety of genres and subjects. I do seem to read a preponderance of mystery/suspense, but find myself designating other genres as my yearly favorites. (See my best of the best of 2020 HERE.) As per my reading resolutions, I want to expand my reading horizons this year, especially getting back to my TBR and checking out international and classic literature.

This week I stepped out of the box and read a YA mystery/thriller. I have been reluctant to read YA, because, well, I am a woman of a certain age and not sure I can relate. But because a FB group I am in is reading The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens this month, I downloaded the audiobook and dove in. I’m not going to review the book here — you’ll have to come back later for that 😉 — but I am going to say that Stevens’ opened up a new genre for me. Yes, the book has a definite YA vibe, but with a complex plot and format and thought-provoking themes, this book was a 5-star!

 

Do you read outside your comfort zone?

The June Boys really took me away from my regular reading. It is intense and in some places made me cringe and force myself to continue. But I appreciate the stretching this book did to my attitude and thinking. And I need stretching. I never want to quit learning about the world and myself.

 

As I said mystery/suspense is my regular go to, but I do enjoy historical fiction as well. I love learning how people of the past lived, especially how they lived without the conveniences a modern world offers. This week I am also reading Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz. I discovered Frantz in 2020. The Lacemaker and An Uncommon Woman were two great books I read last year. Set in the 1630s in the Virginia colony, this novel has already given me information and insight into a world I thought I knew pretty well.

When reading historical fiction, I keep an eye out for social and cultural differences. A woman’s place is one of the things that Frantz explored. Main character, Selah, is a very independent woman, as defined by the 17th century. I think that helps the modern reader identify with her story.

 

Do you find new things to love in your favorite genres?

 

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn.

What are you reading?

What’s your go-to genre?

And do you have any plans to stretch your bookish horizons?

Let’s talk!