The Raven in the Foregate



by Ellis Peters

Published 1986

In this Cadfael mystery, the author explores, as usual, not only a mystery, but human nature as well.  When the priest of the Foregate passes away, a newcomer must take his place.  But the new priest lacks the kindness and understanding of his predecessor.  And when he is found murdered, the question is not so much of “Who had motive?” as “Who didn’t?”  As always, Cadfael’s mystery is seamlessly woven with the background of England’s civil war.  These books are brilliantly written–wonderful mysteries and beautifully thought-provoking.  5/5.

The Five-Minute Marriage



by Joan Aiken

Published 1978

Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase is one of my all-time favorite books (soon to be reviewed, by the way…  I’m reading it now!), and I have also enjoyed some of her Austen sequels (most recently, Jane Fairfax).  However, this was the first time I read one of her historical fiction novels.  I really enjoyed it!

In this story, our intrepid heroine has fallen on hard times.  She and her widowed mother live in reduced circumstances in Regency England, because her mother was cut off from her family when she married.  But with her mother’s health ever failing, Delphie finally sets aside her pride to visit her uncle in his country manor.  When she arrives, Delphie finds herself backed into a corner, and given the option of either receiving nothing or receiving and annuity for her mother–provided she participates in a fake wedding ceremony with her cousin.

More appropriately titled “The Five-Minute Wedding,” the whole point of the book is that Delphie discovers that the wedding was not as fake as she–and her cousin–originally believed.  Suspenseful, romantic, and even believable (most of the time), this book was an excellent read for those who enjoy classic Regency romance.  5/5.

Howl’s Moving Castle



by Diana Wynne Jones

Published 1986

So, I actually read this book for the first time not too long ago, and really enjoyed it.  At the time, I discovered that Jones had written two sequels, but my library didn’t have them.  However, since then, my library has linked up with some more for a wider inter-library loan (hurray!) and both the sequels became available!  Before reading them, I decided to give the original another whirl.  And I liked it even better the second time.

Someone told me, when I was mildly ranting about Jones’s rather abrupt (to my mind) endings, that her books are always better the second time around.  I don’t know about always, but I will say that that was true for me with this book.  A 5/5 this time–the dialogue is wonderful, the characters delightful, the plot imaginative, and just overall grand fun.