Best Book of July

I really, really enjoyed all three of the books I read in July including the one I’m still reading. So, here’s a review of July’s list:

  • The Master of Blacktower by Barbara Michaels
  • Jane and the Barque of Frailty by Stephanie Barron
  • The Riddle by Alison Croggon

The Master of Blacktower  was a good old-fashioned gothic romance.  This was the type of book my mother was reading when, aged thirteen, I ran out of books on vacation. I picked up one of hers and for the most part, abandoned juvenile fiction (including YA, until years later I rediscovered it and fell in love). For about four years I glutted myself on gothics until the romance genre exploded and the back of every book said, “Lust and passion set in the ________…”  I jumped to fantasy, which has been a favorite ever since. It was fun after all this time to read a gothic, and Barbara Michaels wove a riveting story. This author of my beloved Amelia Peabody mysteries (under the name Elizabeth Peters) delighted and entertained me once again.

Jane and the Barque of Frailty was my most recent read of  Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mystery novels. I love Jane Austen’s novels, and I thoroughly enjoy Barron’s imagining of Jane’s life. This novel delivered in every area I’ve come to expect of Barron—interesting, wide-ranging, and quirky characters, Regency fashion and society, London, and a complex mystery that keeps me speculating until the last page.

And last, but best (yes I am supposed to be ranking these) is Alison Croggon’s The Riddle, the sequel to May’s best book, The Naming. This is a richly imagined YA fantasy series, but like many YA fantasy novels it would be just as appealing to adult fantasy readers as well. Through the story, Maerad, with a changing cast of companions sets off to find the Tree Song that she must unlock to deliver her troubled world. She makes and loses friends, hurts and helps those she loves, discovers and grows in her powers, and faces off against the mighty winter king. If I could have survived without sleep, and gotten away with doing nothing all day but read, I would have finished this satisfyingly meaty book all in one sitting. Get your hand on The Naming and start reading this series!

What were your best reads in July?