Sunday Thoughts

I was really sad when I heard of Barbara Mertz‘s (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels) passing (link via Janicu @ SpecFicRomantic).  She was 85, and lived life to the full from all accounts – I loved this line from her website:

Shortly before her death, she had written a line to be posted on this webpage: “At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin.”

I remember discovering her Amelia Peabody mystery series back in 2007 and visiting pretty much every bookstore in central London to get my hands on the complete series (yes, those pre-ebook days).  I’d always seen numerous recommendations for her books whenever anyone asked about mysteries with strong romantic elements, but had discounted them, thinking that I’d never be interested in Egyptian archaeology – yes, I know.

I picked up the first book, CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, on a whim one day, and while it wasn’t necessarily instant love, there was something about her writing that meant I kept on reading, and before I knew it, I was hooked.  Her love of Egypt shone through her writing, and as for the Peabody family – addictive doesn’t even begin to describe their adventures as they pursue archaeological treasures in turn-of-the-century Egypt.  Her books are the main reason why I want to visit Egypt one day and sail down the Nile on a dahabeeyah.  She brought this previously-unknown world alive for me, which is really what books are all about – giving you a window into places that you’d never have imagined otherwise.  Here’s a review I posted for third Amelia Peabody, THE MUMMY CASE a few years back – the first paragraph may give you a feel for how highly I rate this series if it wasn’t obvious already…

Thank you for the many happy hours of reading, and RIP Barbara Mertz.


I’ve recently discovered a new-to-me historical mystery series that I’m really enjoying – PB Ryan‘s Nell Sweeney series:

The Nell Sweeney historical mysteries, which are set in post-Civil War Boston, star a young Irish-born governess and her employer’s black sheep son, the dissolute, wounded, dangerously charming Will Hewitt. If you like twisty-turny mysteries with a breathless whisper of romantic tension, you’ve come to the right place.

I couldn’t describe them any better myself – 1860s Boston comes to life, Nell is a very engaging heroine, and her relationship with Will is filled with chemistry from the very first book.  The first book, STILL LIFE WITH MURDER, is usually on sale for a lower introductory price, but I ended up buying the omnibus collection of all six novels.


I posted last week about the August new releases on my list, and then realised I’d missed two – here they are:

15808437Jo Beverley‘s SEDUCTION IN SILK (historical romance): I always say Jo Beverley remains one of my few auto-buy authors in the historical romance genre, and that’s still true.  This one is linked to her Malloren world, which means Georgian historical!

Peregrine Perriam, son of an earl, has no desire to marry, but when he’s named heir to Perriam Manor, he finds he has only a month to persuade a stranger, Claris Mallow, to the altar or the property will be lost to his family forever, and his line will be cursed.

Having survived her parents’ tormented marriage, Claris prefers poverty to any husband. When a high-born stranger demands her hand, she drives him off at pistol point.

Perry finds weapons of his own, however, and soon Claris is compelled to accept his proposal. But she does so on her own terms—especially that the marriage be in name only. Once mistress of Perriam Manor, however, she discovers she isn’t immune to Perry’s charms. Perhaps a real marriage might be worth the risk—including a real marriage bed…

Out now


18294089Sherwood Smith‘s WHISPERED MAGICS (SF/fantasy): This is a BVC-published collection of short stories, with an MG slant. All previously-published, I think, as majority were not new-to-me, but I had fun re-reading them and it was nice to have all of them in a single e-edition.  Sherwood Smith talks about WHISPERED MAGICS briefly on her LJ.

As a child, Sherwood Smith was always on the watch for magic: no fog bank went unexplored, no wooden closet unchecked for a false back, no possible magical token left on the ground or in the gutter. In these nine stories, the impossible becomes possible, magic is real, aliens come visiting. How would our lives change?

Out now



8 thoughts on “Sunday Thoughts

  1. I haven’t read a Jo Beverly romance is a while, Li. I have to check my list. But, I used to like her historicals too. Maybe, I’ll check this one out. 🙂

    Whispered Magics looks like it may be a terrific collection. I’m going to place it on my “wish list.” And I’m definitely checking out the Nell Sweeney mysteries! I’ll at least get the first one to see how I like it, and will read it when I’m in the mood for the genre. Thanks for the heads up.

    • I had the first Nell Sweeney book on my TBR for ages, and picked it up on impulse – after the first few chapters, I had to go out and buy the boxed set 🙂 PB Ryan writes romance under Patricia Ryan as well – I’ve not read any of those yet, but have certainly added them to my (long) list of books to check out.

      I’ve not read many of the BVC published books yet, but have usually enjoyed the ones that I’ve read. I think it’s a great co-op publishing model, plus they have some of my favourite authors, so I always check out their new releases.

  2. I thought the Nell Sweeney series was a really interesting look at a world I had not much knowledge about, because I had no idea of US history at that time and in that place. I really liked the main storyline, but am not sure if the crime part of it is all that great, but then I don’t usually read crime stories just for the crimes.

    • Ditto! A couple of twists in the first book totally caught me by surprise, but I’m definitely reading because of the Nell/Will relationship arc.

      I find the setting really intriguing too – there is so much I didn’t know!

  3. I agree with you about sadness at Barbara Mertz’s death. I mostly read her books as a young adult and loved both the Amelia Peabody series and the Vicky Bliss series. And it does sound like she had a great life. I’m amazed she got a PhD from University of Chicago in Egyptology in the early 50’s…of course, she also couldn’t get an academic job. She fooled them all by writing such fun and exciting books while giving us all a love for Egypt and history. Probably more than if she’d been a professor.

    I think I have one or two of PB Ryan’s books. I will have to go look and read them. You give great recommendations.

  4. When I read the news of Ms Mertz passing, I immediately thought of you! I know how much you enjoyed her Amelia Peabody series. It’s good to know that she had a good life though 🙂

    Hmmm, is the Nell Sweeney series over? I checked it out on Goodreads and see that the last release has been out for quite a while. I’m putting this series on my radar 😛

    I’ve never really read Ms Beverley’s historicals, but for some reasons, I’m tempted with her newest. Probably because the heroine pointed a gun at the hero LOL.

    • Yes, I was a bit mope-y for a while, her writing has given me hours of enjoyment, and you’re right – from all accounts, she had a fantastic life!

      The Nell Sweeney series is a complete one, so def worth a shot if you’re in the mood for a historical mystery. A very satisfying ending FWIW 😉

      I’ve finished the Jo Beverley – it’s one of those quieter romances, despite the gun incident! DA Jayne’s review was pretty much spot on, I think.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.