Reading for Winter Days


Winter in Wisconsin is a great time to sit by the fire and read. This month I found a few gems you might like.

A Horseman Riding By

I first read RF Delderfield’s classic God is an Englishman when I was in college. So, when I heard about Delderfield’s classic series that follow a rural British family over a sixty-year span from the early 1900s into the 1960s I was instantly intrigued.

Since it’s Delderfield, you know the writing is superb, the multitude of characters all come to life so that you think you know them, and the setting drawn so well you believe that it really exists.

What’s fascinating about reading these books is how they reflect some of the thinking of the times. Giving women the vote, for example, was a bitter controversy. The idea of a man spanking his wife if she got out of line was a generally accepted. One wife even told her husband she deserved it.

I can hardly believe people thought this way. Reading the novels, however, sheds some light on why they believed what they did. Not that I agree, but it’s enlightening to see things from their perspective.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

I can’t improve on Amazon’s summary:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

I often don’t like books that re-tell fairy tales, but this one is an exception. It is an exquisite retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with some serious differences. There are some truly disturbing scenes, some absolutely gorgeous ones.

It’s hard to decide if this young adult or new adult. Feyre manages to avoid being the typical young adult heroine who in her own obstinate way, refuses to listen to advice and ends up making life worse for everyone. She doesn’t listen to advice (at least in the beginning) but she at least thinks through her choices and considers options, including doing the thing she was told to do. This willingness to think before she acts makes her more believable and easier to cheer for.

I haven’t started the second one yet, but it’s definitely on my to-read list.


Save the Cat

Not all my reading was for fun. Years ago, I was advised to read Blake Snyder’s classic book on screenwriting. Not that I have any illusions of writing screenplays, but because much of his advice works for novels.

I wasn’t disappointed. The book is easy to read and packed full of useful and practical ways to create a story people will want to get lost in.

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