Hannah’s Bookshelf June 2023

I realized I'd started a series a long time ago, but haven't updated it since last year. Oops. I guess it's because I really haven't been reading too many books (the horror!). I've been focusing on news and academic journal articles more than books, but I always find myself headed back to my favorites when I'm busier with other things. Plus, I did read a small selection of new titles this year! Hard not to when all sorts of fun books are at your fingertips at the library!

Do any of them sound like something you'd be interested in? 

In Pieces by Rhonda Ortiz

This inspirational/historical romance novel provides a unique experience for those who enjoy light romances or historical fiction. With a more scholarly bent than many other historical romances (but no less likely to make you wish the love interest was real), this one is set in 1793 Boston, just after the Revolution, and paints a crisp picture of what life in the city for a young woman would have looked like. 

While grieving the traumatic loss of her father, Molly Chase is taken in by the family of her childhood friend Josiah Robb, who help her to heal and encourage her as she finds new purpose, ambition, and sense of self. There are also French spies!

If you're a fan of Melanie Dickerson, Lauraine Snelling, or Jody Hedlund, and you're looking for something new, this one may be a bit different in tone, but is a refreshing addition to the inspirational/historical romance genre. It explored trauma and pain in ways I hadn't encountered in similar books, so readers going through similar struggles may find comfort in seeing themselves represented.

Bonus points for being written by a local author!

In Pieces

The Food Explorer by Daniel Evan Stone

It takes me a long time to read nonfiction books, but this one reads more like an Indiana Jones-type adventure than a history book, so I enjoyed being alongside David Fairchild as he collects new food samples from around an increasingly connected world, catches diseases, and gets arrested. How does he steal tree buds in France and plan on keeping them alive until he gets back to the United States? In the 1800s? When he couldn't take a plane??? Read on:

The Food Explorer

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

I used to say you'd need to start with Book One: The Thief, but frankly, I'm now a person with very little free reading time, and the books are all enjoyable as standalones. So here's Book Four: A Conspiracy of Kings, in which a minor character from the first book is now the star player.

Costis, major disappointment and heir to the throne, is attacked by his uncle the King's enemies and goes into hiding. From there, he must decide whether to take responsibility for his kingdom, figure out how to seize power, and decide between the warring ideas of diplomacy and violence. His friends do their best to help him, but what if his friends are rival kings and queens, all looking to secure prosperity for their own kingdoms?

It's an excellent read for people who don't like fantasy novels, as it's set in a Greek/Byzantine fantasy world where the only "magic" is a pantheon of gods who feature very, very rarely. Despite it being categorized as a Young Adult title, I've enjoyed it far more as an adult for its complex themes of responsibility, power, and moral indecision. It's slow-paced, but the character work really pays off—particularly, yes, if you've read the first three books in the series and are familiar with other characters' journeys.

A Conspiracy of Kings

First book:

The Thief

Persuasion by Jane Austen

If you're someone who enjoyed either the 2005 movie or the 1995 BBC miniseries adapting Pride and Prejudice, you may enjoy reading this novel by the classic author. The last of her completed novels, Persuasion follows a different type of storyline than some of her better-loved works like Pride and Prejudice or Emma and hasn't seen much success in adaptation for television or film. It's too bad—you can sense a more melancholy tone than the spunkiness of earlier novels, but it's no less incisive or revealing of human character than Austen's other fantastic work. It's a completely different Regency experience. 

Essentially: Anne Elliot,—chronically underappreciated by her snobby family—is forced out of her home by financial stress and runs into her ex-fiancé, whom she was once persuaded to dump by a respected family friend, despite their being in love. Said ex-fiancé is now super successful in his seafaring career and is back in town and ready to re-enter the marriage market as a highly eligible bachelor. The one person he's not interested in? The still-single, "once lovely" Anne Elliot.


I listened to an audiobook this year, which is always a great way to enjoy an old favorite while doing chores, cooking food, or driving long distances: