Weekly Reading Round-Up
June 30th, 2017

There’s nothing like rediscovering an old favorite. This week, I went back to my Renaissance roots with Judith Merkle Riley’s The Master of All Desires, in which a would-be poetess with a difficult family finds herself accidentally in possession of the Undying Head of Menander, a sinister wish-granter who delights in causing doom and chaos. With the help of Nostradamus, she manages to survive French politics, Menander, and the machinations of disappointed suitors who are after her dowry (or Menander). For other history nerds out there, the send-ups of Catherine de’ Medici, Diane de Poitiers, Henri II, and a very young Mary Queen of Scots are wickedly brilliant (and spot-on).

It’s hard to find anything comparable to Judith Merkle Riley’s novels. The closest comparison would probably be Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, which combines the same rich historical detail with quirky humor, although Merkly Riley’s books all also contain a touch of the supernatural. (They did like their alchemy and diabolism in the Renaissance!) Sadly, there are only six Judith Merkle Riley books in the world– A Vision of Light and two sequels (medieval), The Serpent Garden (Tudor), The Master of All Desires (French Renaissance), and Oracle Glass (court of Louis XIV), but they are all richly researched, brilliantly funny, and hold up to any number of re-reads.

Having got that out of my system, I now have a big pile of new books to read, including two Carol Goodmans, two Elly Griffiths, a Mary Kubica, and The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life (which someone recommended over on my Facebook author page).

What have you been reading this week? And what are you planning to read over the July 4th weekend?



13 Responses to “Weekly Reading Round-Up”

  1. Sheila says:

    I am on a Captain Lacey binge, and am currently reading book 7 in Ashley Gardner’s series, Death in Norfolk. Can’t believe it took me so long to discover this: wonderful ongoing characters and very true to the times, I think.

  2. Paige B. says:

    Cocoa Beach!

  3. Christine says:

    I finished All the Missing Girls and it was fantastic! Now I’m reading Cocoa Beach and loving it so far.

  4. LynnS says:

    I’ve got to stop reading these. All they do is add to my TBR list. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho to the library I go to look for Judith Merkle Riley books!

  5. Betty Strohecker says:

    Just finished Jennifer Robson’s Somewhere in France and loved it. I will definitely read her other two books.

    I read A Vision of Light long ago, and perhaps need to take a look again at Riley’s books.

    Trying to decide what’s next – the next Robson or the upcoming July book in a romance book club.

  6. DJL says:

    Read Meg Cabot’s The Boy is Back, the latest of her “Boy” books, which each stand alone and are modern epistolary romance novels (all the action is relayed by email, text, smart-phone screen shots, etc). Pretty cool format, the story was fun too :)
    Never heard of Judith Merkle Riley, but will definitely be looking her up!

  7. Freya says:

    I just finished Elizabeth Hand’s ghost novella, “Wylding Hall” & absolutely *loved* it. I immediately went back and reread the beginning just because I wanted so much to stay in that world with those characters.

  8. Miss Eliza says:

    For the first time in over a month I have a free weekend, I don’t yet know for sure WHAT I’m going to read, but read I will! LOTS AND LOTS!

  9. Tara says:

    Reading the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, Empire of Storms. It’s incredible.

  10. Lara Naregatsian says:

    I’m on a Canada Day long weekend reading binge!
    I just finished American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin and the first of the Aimée Leduc series, Murder in the Marais, by Cara Black. Lots of plot twists!
    Now I’m on The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy written in 1975 by the deceased James Anderson – a trilogy of mysteries set in the 1930’s à la Agatha Christie (if the title doesn’t give it away).

  11. Dianna says:

    Janet Evanovich’s second “Knight and Moon” book “Dangerous Minds”…..fun summer read as is her “Fox and O’Hare” series. Also up to the 4th in Gigi Pandian’s Treasure Hunt Mystery series start with “Artifact”. Don’t you wish we could just read all day!!!

  12. Suzanne says:

    Judith Flanders, who has written some really interesting nonfiction books about Victorian society, has also written some equally engaging contemporary murder mysteries starring a heroine with a sense of humor and her hot police detective boyfriend. They are “A Murder of Magpies,” A Bed of Scorpions,” and “A Cast of Vultures.”


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