Whatcha Reading? February 2020 Edition, Part One

Cup of coffee and yarn for knitting on plaid with books close-upFebruary has arrived and we have books to discuss! Here’s what we’re currently reading:

Carrie: Mazes of Power, by my friend Juliette Wade! ( A | BN | K | AB ) It’s labelled as “sociological science fiction.” The focus is less on tech and more on social and political intrigue. Very good so far.

Shana: I’m digging into The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan. ( A | BN | K | AB ) It’s a British cozy mystery set in WWII about an opinionated middle-aged woman searching for her missing (adult) daughter in London. I’m enjoying watching the heroine rediscover her sense of purpose and joy, but the chapters from the daughter’s point of view make her sound dangerously TSTL.

A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day
A | BN | K | AB
Sneezy: I’ll be starting When the Body Says No this week by Gabor Mate. ( A | BN | K | AB ) It’s about the effects of unaddressed and continued stress and trauma on the body. I’m expecting it to be a heavy read, so I’ll cozying up with A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day by Jackie Lau too.

Tara: Sneezy, I’m going to add that Gabor Mate to my list! I’m reading Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) and that sounds like a perfect follow up. In more fun things, I’ve just started Nottingham by Anna Burke, which is an f/f rewrite of Robin Hood. Given how dark her first two books were, I’m expecting it to be kind of gritty.

Elyse: I just finished Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday. ( A | BN | K | AB ) I thought one of the big issues was resolved way too soon in the book and so it became a book mostly about two people dating.

A | BN | K | AB
Claudia: I’m starting The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews, the fourth and I believe last in her Parish Orphans of Devon series. Hero has a brain injury that affects his speech and I’m curious to see how the author will portray it. It’s out on Feb. 11.

Lara: I’m in a reading slump at the moment, so I’m rereading The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas. ( A | BN | K | AB ) She’s my go to author when I need the world to make sense again.

Catherine: I’ve been reading an ARC of Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Charlie Adhara, ( A | BN | K | AB ) and it’s simultaneously fun and also not holding my attention. Apparently it’s the fourth in a series, though it stands alone quite well. It’s a werewolf and his boyfriend going undercover at a couples retreat for werewolves in order to solve a missing persons case, so the premise is strong. I suspect the problem is me, not the book, since I’ve had a few ‘meh’ reads of late.

The Winter Companion
A | BN | K | AB
EllenM: I’m reading the Wolf of Oren-Yaro by KS Villoso, which I’m enjoying but it is definitely an intense read with a lot of violent fantasy politicking and scheming. I’m also currently reading Empire of Sand by Tasha Shuri ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) and I am only maybe a quarter through but I am LOVING IT!! It is also intense in a different (more emotional) way.

Sarah: I’m reading the newest Veronica Speedwell, which comes out in March. I’m doing a podcast interview with Deanna Raybourn soon, and so far, A Murderous Relation ( A | BN | K | AB ) is incredibly sticky in that I’m having trouble putting it down.

Kiki: I’m rereading Chaser by Kylie Scott! ( A | BN | K | AB ) It’s a bit of a comfort read for me and not too stressful and coming out of a reading slump that’s exactly what I want. Also rereading it has made me realize that I think I have a thing for books where the female protagonist is pregnant but not with the male protagonist’s baby? Which is maybe a little weird and definitely oddly specific but I think I can name a couple books that I liked where that was a theme.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
A | BN | K | AB
Also I just picked up Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) from the library and I am VERY excited to start it.

Maya: I’m reading Painting Their Portraits in Winter by Myriam Gurba. ( A | BN | K | AB ) It’s a collection of short stories by the author, who I found by way of her extremely dope book review “Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature” and her equally wonderful “My Taco Laughs At You: On Death Threats Aimed at Women of Color Who Don’t Fellate White Supremacy“. She’s been at the center of the #DignidadLiteraria activism, which arose in reaction to the publishing world showing how hard it will work (and how much money it will spend) to reward mediocrity in service of blindly reproducing racist tropes and narratives. Her prose is magic and the highest compliment I can give her is that she makes me want to strap on my brass knuckles and get to work. I’ll be reading her memoir Mean next!

EllenM: I LOVED her post on American Dirt! I’m going to add her books to my TBR right now!!

Maya: CW, Mean is about her experience growing up queer and brown and also about being raped by a serial rapist/killer. She participated in the investigation that eventually led to his incarceration. So not light reading, but I’m pretty confident in her ability to write a story filled with trauma that is not weighed down by it (if that makes any sense).

A | BN | K | AB
Sneezy: That makes perfect sense! I had similar feelings when I was reading I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya.

Maya: Ohhhhhhh and thank you Sneezy for initially sharing Myriam’s book review with us!

Sneezy: Lol no big! Happy to share!

I’ll be stacking her books into my TBR list, too!!

Aarya: I’m slowly reading Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She Said. ( A | BN | K | AB ) Slowly because the subject matter enrages me. I have to break it up into chunks in order to properly process it. It was a KDD recently and the Weinstein trial is occurring right now. I also have Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill ( A | BN | K | AB ) on hold from the library; it won’t be available for another two months, but I’m excited to read it.

My romance reading is kinda sucking/miserable now so no news on that front. I hope I have more enthusiastic recs in the next Whatcha Reading.

Tell us what you’ve been reading!

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  1. 1
    Jill Q. says:

    I enjoyed “Tiny Habits” by B.J. Fogg. I’ve read a lot about habit formation in the last few years, but this book really breaks everything about habits down into small steps that seems manageable.

    Honestly, my fiction reading has been terrible lately. Lots of DNFs that I will not get into here. I wish I liked “light women’s fiction” (yes I, hate that term but you know what I mean) more. I keep trying them and putting them down. I want stories that center on real feeling women with slow burn romance (which some women’s fiction has) but even in the light versions, too much real world anxiety seeps in. I realize I’m going to have to wade through a 100 pages of misery and worry to get to the “good stuff” and I nope out of there. I’m also juggling several fanfiction projects so reading is taking a backseat.

    I am reading a lot of promising things, but I won’t mention them here before I’ve finished and jinx it.

  2. 2
    Kit says:

    I’m struggling with reading too! Nothing is jumping out at me. Currently plodding through a kindle freebie Perfect Mate by Mina Carter but it’s fairly middle of the road, the sideplot is slightly more interesting than the main one. The hero is too much bland alpha and the heroine is too TSTL. Enough said.

    The other book I’m struggling with is (don’t hate me) Strange Love by Ann Aguirre. It’s free on the prime kindle reading library (Amazon too stingy to give out KU freebies at present it seems). However, it’s more of a “not my type” rather than hideous. It feels a bit rushed at times and I’m not convinced by Beryl’s reaction to being abducted. I did like the proposal and highlighted it though. I will try to finish it! Apart from that I’m plucking up the courage to enter a writing contest on WP, I haven’t written for a while though…

  3. 3
    Heather M says:

    After finishing a few really intense fantasy sequels at the end of January, I pivoted back to romance, but unfortunately nothing’s really worked for me. Only one of these was finished in February, the rest were late January after the last Watcha Reading post, and I’ve had one DNF, and think I’m about to have a second. Meh.

    S.A. Chakraborty- The Kingdom of Copper

    This is an excellent sequel to The City of Brass, raises the stakes extremely high. It’d been a while since I read the first book so it took some time to get my footing, but once I was in the world I was IN.

    R.F. Kuang- The Dragon Republic

    Another excellent sequel, this time to The Poppy War. Although I read it thinking the final book was already out, and it’s not til later in the year, so I am chomping at the bit.

    Tessa Dare- The Wallflower Wager

    Sometimes Dare’s tendency for cutesy anachronism works for me, sometimes it really does not. Unfortunately, this fell into the latter camp. Also, I am so very tired of the “heroes from previous books must display toxic masculinity in a constant dick measuring contest to “protect” a woman who doesn’t need protection and eventually accept the new hero into their midst” thing this series has going. Is there a trope name for that? Because, ugh.

    Amalie Howard- The Beast of Beswick

    I kind of wish I had DNF’d this. The writing style didn’t really work for me and I never cared about any of the characters. I even started imagining a side romance between the butler and the valet that interested me way more than anything in the text.

    So books have been bumming me out a bit. But I’ve started reading fanfic again for the first time in probably a decade, and I’ve gotten really, really into The Untamed on Netflix (everyone, watch The Untamed. It’s amazing). So things go on.

  4. 4
    FashionablyEvil says:

    I’ve been mixing it up with romance and not this month.

    THE LADY’S GUIDE TO CELESTIAL MECHANICS—this was lovely and I’m glad I finally picked it up even though f/f isn’t usually my jam. The details about the science and the embroidery were so well done and I really loved the characters even if some of the conflict (the brother, the misunderstanding) didn’t really seem necessary.

    SOMETHING ABOUT YOU by Julie James. This was fun and I had a running game with myself trying to guess when it was written (character has a TiVo, they have cell phones but not smartphones, there’s an actual tape from a video recording, etc.) Anyway, good, fluffy competence porn.

    KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller. This is the memoir of the woman who was raped by Brock Turner (so obviously all the TW/CWs), but Miller is a very gifted writer and it’s really about claiming your voice and telling your own story and I am here for women telling their own stories. By no means light, but absolutely worth reading.

    HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND by Michael Pollan which is about psychedelics and consciousness. So far, all I can say is that it’s really making me want to try psilocybin or LSD (and I’ve never tried anything stronger than whiskey.)

  5. 5
    Ren Benton says:

    Finished SMOKE & IRON, the fourth book in Rachel Caine’s Great Library series. It pokes at the messiness of overthrowing the Big Bad in a way I rarely see. Congratulations, you started a mutiny! Now who’s going to steer the ship and defend the helm from those who aspire to be Big Bad 2.0? Great cast. Still expecting at least half of my favorite couple to die in book five.

    DNF’d NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, which inspired a rant about who’s allowed to ramble endlessly without an editor saying, “I don’t want to see this again until you’ve cut it in half. Then I’ll start cutting.”

    Also had to DNF THE KISS QUOTIENT about a third of the way in, not because it wasn’t fabulously written but because it was hitting too close to home. As much as I wanted to see someone like me (psychologically) “win,” I wasn’t dealing well with memories of being in similar situations that didn’t have such positive outcomes. It’s obvious why so many people love Helen Hoang’s writing, but I’ll have to wait for something that jabs me a little less.

  6. 6
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    Only a handful of new reads this time. Partly because I read several books that are parts of duets or trilogies and I want to read all the books in the group before I write anything about them. Another reason I read fewer new books is because I was busy re-reading. I gave Kati Wilde’s TEACHER’S PET WOLF a re-read after I recommended it on the Ready, Set, Go Rec League for shifter romances—and it was every bit as good (and hot!) as I’d remembered. I had forgotten, however, a great scene where the heroine quietly but pointedly confronts the woman who bullied her in high school. Epic takedown!

    I also re-read Taylor Fitzpatrick’s THROWN OFF THE ICE for, oh, about the fifth time since I first read it last year. It’s a beautifully-written, incredibly emotional story about the relationship between two professional hockey players. It’s a lovely story, but I have to stress there is no HEA or HFN (quite the opposite in fact), so I can’t recommend it as a romance, but I certainly can recommend it as a love story that will lacerate your heart in all the best ways.

    CROWNED AT THE DESERT KING’S COMMAND is very much a quintessential HP (virgin heroine, impossibly-wealthy royal hero, luxurious surroundings, forced marriage, angst, conflict, passion) and also very much a quintessential Jackie Ashenden (family dysfunction, dead/distant/absent/abusive parents, astonishing eye colors, amazing fragrances, hot sexy-times, on-going inner monologues)—so much so that reading it was like eating a big bowl of ice cream while listening to EDM Chill and getting a pedicure—total comfort read with all my favorite things! A young Englishwoman, working on an archeological dig in the desert, accidentally crosses the border into an isolated desert kingdom where she becomes a pawn in the country’s internal political machinations. The kingdom’s Sheikh wants marry a woman who is not from one of the politically powerful families of his country…and, whaddya know, suddenly there’s a woman right here he can marry. But, of course, despite the hero & heroine’s insane physical connection, their similar dysfunctional childhoods make trust and intimacy difficult. Oh the angst! The heartache! The tears! Peak HP + Peak Ashenden = a favorite read of the year—although, as always with HPs, YMMV.

    On the other hand, despite having many of the same characteristics as the Ashenden, Clare Connelly’s latest HP, REDEMPTION OF THE UNTAMED ITALIAN, was a rather lackluster venture featuring a fashion model who agrees to a two-week “sex-cation” (my word, not Connelly’s) with a wealthy Italian businessman. I didn’t like the hero much—he misleads the heroine by allowing her to believe that he will only invest in her cousin’s hedge fund if she agrees to the two-week interlude, when in actual fact he’d already decided to invest before he made his proposal. The heroine is a little more likable—and rather sad due to a family tragedy some years before. ROTUI is unobjectionable as HPs go, but after reading Ashenden’s superlative example of the genre, Connelly’s book felt tepid in comparison.

    Molly O’Keefe’s RUIN YOU (one of the books in her The Debt series) features a hero and a heroine who are both lying about significant parts of their pasts and their identities. The heroine is hiding something, the hero is trying to locate it—but one thing leads to another and they fall in love, leading to anguish and heartbreak when each of them reveals they aren’t the person the other one thought they were (“I want us not to be us,” the hero cries at one point). I always enjoy O’Keefe’s work—it has the right layering of angst and melancholy for my catnip centers—but this is that rare romance (Anne Calhoun’s THE LIST is another) where I think you can see the writer struggling with the HEA/HFN requirement. I believe the hero & heroine of RUIN YOU have each betrayed the other too significantly for an HEA to be achievable let alone believable.

    Ruth Cardello’s THE WILD ONE is the next book in her Corisi Billionaires series. I loved the previous book, THE BROKEN ONE, about a man gradually emerging from the grief of losing his wife some years earlier. The hero of THE WILD ONE is the brother of the hero of THE BROKEN ONE. Unlike his brother, this guy is a player with a lot of notches on his bedpost. The heroine is an engineer who has to take care of her parents (who suffer from conditions both physical and psychological). She meets the hero in Paris and they agree to a no-strings-attached fling…but when has no-strings-attached ever worked in Romancelandia? An agreeable romance (especially if you’re not put off by insta-love/lust), but the story contains an awful lot of info-dumps about French history and Parisian landmarks that felt very much like “filler” to me.

  7. 7

    I haven’t had time to read much lately, but there are lots of new/upcoming books that I’m looking forward to checking out, including OF CURSES AND KISSES by Sandhya Menon; THE QUEEN’S ASSASSIN by Melissa de la Cruz; THE WORST BEST MAN by Mia Sosa; and THE UPSIDE OF FALLING by Alex Light.

  8. 8
    Joyce says:

    Read an ARC copy of The Jane Austen Society and enjoyed it. If you are a REAL Austen fan, you will revel in the book discussions the characters have about their favorite Austen plots, characters and quotes. I got bogged down by some of this banter (especially when the characters refer to Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park). I couldn’t buy farmers sitting around with copies of Pride and Prejudice in their back pockets.

  9. 9
    Qualisign says:

    @Catherine. In the last three weeks, I read the first three of Charlie Adhara’s Wolf books [SBTB suggestions] and found them very compelling, but only because I read them in order. Each book builds on the last, and the relationship between the main characters had a hard-fought dynamic as the contexts they were facing changed. I really enjoyed how both main characters (H/HW) continued to deal with who they were at their base (complex, prickly, unsure, deep moral centers). Their relationship did not ‘cure’ any of their insecurities or internal struggles but allowed them to be poked and prodded in ways that they wouldn’t have been able to without the other. I look forward to book four because I’m fascinated to see how the dynamic between the two continues to evolve. Much more realistic relationship stuff than I’ve seen in most romance(s) in general and almost all shifter books as well.

  10. 10
    Big K says:

    Thank you, Bitchery, for all the good recommendations. To help YOU focus your TBR pile, too:
    Ann Aquirre’s THE SHADOW WARRIOR (alien/F), is good (B grade), but did require you being in the right mood and was light on worldbuilding and heavy on silliness, and “all women need their chocolate” kind of character building.
    Louise Penny’s STILL LIFE (not a romance) is a well-done cozy mystery, and there seem to be a million more where that came from (A-). Detective Gamache is an excellent character. I think I will end of reading these, one at a time, whenever I am in a mystery mood. Thanks for clueing me in (see what I did there?)!
    Tamsen Parker’s INSIDE TRACK (m/f) is excellent (A) (discussed here last month). The hero has ADHD, so his inner monologue is a little much, but it feels real. Love handling of heroine’s agoraphobia. If you like the blurb, you will love the book.
    Alice Winters’ THE HITMAN’S GUIDE TO MAKING FRIENDS AND FINDING LOVE (m/m) is very silly, but I still bought the love story and emotional growth of the characters (B+). It shouldn’t work, but it does. Don’t know if I will bother to read the following books, but I did really enjoy it.
    I loved ‘Nathan Burgoine’s FAUX HO HO (m/m). It’s short, but I found it pretty perfect (A). Save it for when you need a satisfying, but effortless couple of hours reading at the end of a hard day.
    Excited to dig into some more Lois McMaster Bujold and GIDEON THE NINTH during February vacation (bought GTN in paperback — that’s a leap of faith!), and liking TAJI FROM BEYOND THE RINGS by R. Cooper so far this weekend, but not sure if it will deliver or not. Happy reading!:)

  11. 11
    Emily B says:

    Currently reading TRIBUTE by Nora Roberts. Typical Roberts suspense, bad ass heroine, laid back charming but not alpha romantic hero. Not her best but an enjoyable way to spend the weekend.

    YOU WERE THERE TOO by Colleen Oakley. Not a romance, definitely more women’s fiction, and with an ending that made me so rage-y that I wished I had DNF’d it like I was tempting to do halfway through. Main character is married but has been having dreams of another man she’s never met, then all of a sudden meets him in real life. If this premise sounds interesting to you but you’re looking for something that’s actually fun and enjoyable, may I suggest THE PARALLEL DUET by Elizabeth O’Roark instead.

    STAY WITH ME by Mila Gray. Unremarkable wounded warrior type military romance novel, more new adult with college age heroine. There are better versions of this story out there.

    Read a couple more Jill Shalvis – THE SWEETEST THING, the second in her Lucky Harbor series, sweet second chance romance by two high school sweethearts who had some growing up to do in the time they were apart. INSTANT ATTRACTION, the first in her Wilder series about a trio of brothers who run an outdoor adventures type company in Alaska. This one dragged a bit for me and the conflict didn’t feel totally earned, but I still enjoyed it.

    HEARTLAND BY Sarina Bowen, the latest in her True North series set in Vermont. These books technically stand alone, but I think part of the enjoyment I get from them is the world she’s built in Vermont and seeing how the characters have developed from the previous books and seeing returning characters again. The characters in this one were college age, which is younger than the previous books in this series, and gives the book a more new adult tone, but I still really enjoyed it. Bowen is an auto buy for me.

    THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE by Sandhya Menon. Cute YA featuring a plus size heroine who gets the popular jock hero. My only note here is Menon’s characters are so dramatic, and I just kept thinking “teenagers do not think or talk like this.”

    NOT THE GIRL YOU MARRY by Andie J Christopher, a gender-swapped How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I really struggled with this one. I wanted to like it so much, but the concept is a difficult one – the original movie, where Kate Hudson has to act crazy to get the guy to dump her, but he can’t dump her because he’s in a bet of his own to get her to fall in love, is charming and funny though admittedly there’s some sexism there, but when you turn it around and need the guy to be the bad boyfriend but the woman can’t dump him, it’s a harder idea to make work. The stuff the hero does that’s supposed to be so bad is just never really that bad, which makes the idea that he’s supposed to be writing an article about the whole thing kind of unbelievable. I did really enjoy the heroine’s take on being a biracial woman in the modern dating world, which I feel like isn’t a perspective we get much of.

    I DNF’d NO JUDGMENTS by Meg Cabot. I waited so long for this one to come in through my library holds, but it just didn’t grab me. I was about a third of the way through and felt like nothing had happened and just thought I don’t have time for this.

  12. 12
    Vasha says:

    I have been having a very hard time settling my attention on anything, for both personal and national reasons. So if the books I read didn’t make much impression that’s not necessarily their fault.

    The only one that stood out was Moontangled by Stephanie Burgis, in the Harwood Spellbook series. I don’t think the worldbuilding in that series makes the least bit of sense — it’s a fantasy England where that’s had a radically different history for two millennia, society structured around men being magical and women being political leaders, and yet somehow ends up superficially very similar to Regency times, only with racism and colonialism somehow absent — firstly that’s not how alternate history works, and more importantly acting like you can treat historical periods as wallpaper denies that racism and colonialism were integral to making the times what they were. So, anyway, most of the great things about Moontangled didn’t depend on the setting. There’s just enough prompts to remember the backstory of these two women: why did they keep their relationship secret (although same-sex relationships are not forbidden in principle), what they long for, who is the fairy who intervenes in their story… it’s an “I’m breaking up with you for your own good” story which is far from my favorite trope, but the writing just nails it, heartwrenchingly, leading up to the long conversation where they struggle to understand the layers of assumptions and cumulative misunderstandings that have separated them.

    I’ll just list the others for the record: Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik; My Lady’s Lover by Nicola Davidson; A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie (currently reading the next in series, One Day to Fall); and I have a nagging feeling I’ve completely forgotten something.

  13. 13
    Kate says:

    Aarya, check out the companion podcast to CATCH AND KILL where Ronan Farrow talks to people involved in the book and gives a more in-depth, behind the scenes look at the whole story. You won’t need to have read it since all these plot points have been covered or at least mentioned already in the coverage.

    @Big K, I am about 1/3 of the way into A BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, #7 in the Inspector Gamache series. They are wonderfully written for the most part but I find that I need to take breaks between them as many of the stories are quite sad.

    Have not had as much time to read lately so making my way slowly through the above and looking forward to MRS. MARTIN’S INCOMPARABLE ADVENTURE which I remembered I wanted to read while listening to Sarah’s interview with Courtney Milan earlier this week.

  14. 14
    DonnaMarie says:

    Finished Kelley Armstrong’s Alone In The Wild this morning. Nice twisty mystery with relationship adulting between Casey and Dalton when she discovers a dead woman and a very much alive newborn. Some nice exploration of the surrounding communities as they search for answers and the baby’s family.

    Earlier this week it was book two of Charlaine Harris’s A Longer Fall. The second Gunnie Rose book starts with a bang when her new crew is attacked while escorting cargo into Dixie, a territory that has fallen back into its 18th century ways. It’s only a matter of time before a familiar face shows up to help solve the mystery of who murdered her friends and stole their cargo – something rumored to have the ability to make the Southern state explode.

  15. 15
    Another Anne says:

    I was sick for a couple weeks in January, which since I couldn’t work, did provide some great uninterruped reading time, in between naps, sniffling and coughing.

    I finally read the Kiss Quotient and really enjoyed it. I also read the Bride Test, which I found hard to read at the beginning, but ended up enjoying. It wasn’t hard to read because of the writing or the story, I think what made it difficult was the heroine’s struggle as she transitioned from one culture to another and also with trying to understand the hero. This book stuck with me and made me appreciate my own immigrant ancestors and their lives a little bit more.

    I also read and really enjoyed Heartland. Sarina Bowen is an auto-buy for me and although I usually don’t read NA or YA, I liked this story and these characters, particularly the peek into the lives of characters from prior books. I’m still rooting for Mrs. Shipley or Grandpa Shipley to get a love interest or a retrospective book about their relationship with their significant others — I’ll settle for either.

    I also read the latest Kate Shugak book, which tied up some loose ends from earlier books. It was as good as expected and manages to wrap the opiod crisis and the issue of immigration into the mystery. TW for child sexual abuse.

    Thanks to the recommendations and an earlier sale, I bought and read Ruby Lang’s Playing House, which I read so quickly I had book hangover. It was just delightful and I look forward to reading more of her books.

    I had an interesting experience while listening to the episode of Stuff You Missed in History about the Ghost Army, which was an old episode that ran on a recent Saturday. As I was listening, I kept thinking, I know about this — how do I know about this. I finally realized that I had read a little about it and eventually remembered that it was in Suzanne Brockmann’s book Hot Target. When I read that book initially, I had not realized that the Ghost Army was real or that some of the training occurred in upstate NY at what is now Camp Drum. So, I re-read Hot Target, which was a lovely way to spend an afternoon with some familiar characters.

    I started Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner, which is delightful. I particularly enjoyed the Message to Readers at the beginning, which is a discussion about all the ways that she has managed to fit reading into her life. It was a great way to start off. Most of the book is set in Scotland and the heroine is a librarian, so lots of catnip. I’m about 1/2 through.

    Next up is either His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras (another SBTB recommendation) or Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev.

  16. 16
    kkw says:

    Most recently read: The Chai Factor which I was really looking forward to and found a terrible slog, just lousy execution of a great premise, so poorly paced plus the characters were inconsistent and flat.
    The Widow of Rose House which wasn’t…bad. It was…fine. Thoroughly average when I expected it would be at least little out of the ordinary.
    Headliners which was not Parker’s best but not her best is still delightful.
    Wanted, a Gentleman which, speaking of always delightful I cannot get enough KJ Charles, I really need something else to obsessively reread.
    And there was a trilogy of Elizabeth Harmon Russian iceskater books that started off intriguing but uneven and sadly got steadily less engaging.

  17. 17
    HeatherS says:

    I read “Almost American Girl”, a graphic novel memoir by Robin Ha; it’s about the culture shock, homesickness, loneliness, and frustration she felt as a young teen when her mom uprooted them to Alabama from Seoul and didn’t tell her they were moving permanently until after the fact. She deals with bullies and racism and struggles to make any friends at all.

    I read the first two volumes of “Satoko and Nada”, a manga about two college students who live in the US. I have NEVER seen a manga with a Muslim character, and I grabbed those books so fast I don’t think the bookshelf at Barnes and Noble knows what hit it. Satoko is from Japan; she answers a roommate ad put out by Nada, a Saudi Muslim woman who wears hijab and abaya (and occasionally niqab). It’s a lovely little 4-panel slice of life series; it says it’s rated “Teen”, but there’s honestly nothing I’d consider teen-rated unless you take into consideration the way it’s written, which can be very informational at times and might be a bit boring to younger readers. Satoko learns a lot about Islam from Nada, and some common assumptions and stereotypes about Muslims from non-Muslims are faced head on. I can’t wait for the next volume to come out!

  18. 18
    Janice says:

    I’ve just started Kate Claborn’s Love Lettering which is grand so far. I almost unreservedly adored How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days as a sweet exploration on a somewhat unrealistic timeline of a heroine recovering from past trauma with a grand hero but there were some really disconcerting elements in his backstory (spends years in 19th century Africa, seems to be mildly thoughtful of the people there and then gets rich investing in diamond and gold mines?) that threw me.

    I am finding myself working hard to get into Headliners by Lucy Parker even though I’m over fifty-percent through the book and she’s usually a sure-hit for me. I think that their storyline is too filled with disconnected distractions unless previous in the London Celebrities series.

  19. 19
    Margaret says:

    Reading all the above made me realize, among other things, that it’s been too long since I spent time with Sarina Bowen’s Vermont books. I’m going to have to make my way back there again soon.

    I’m chagrined to say I’m about ready to give up on David Yoon’s Frankly in Love. The story is fun and meaningful, but it’s all just a bit too YA for me. I read another reviewer’s claim that she preferred it to his wife’s work (Nicola Yoon), but I liked hers better.

    I did finish and really enjoy my first Lisa Jewel: I Found You. I don’t do scary well, but this one had just enough suspense and creepiness to make it exciting and not enough to make me throw it out the window. Plus the love story was ultimately very satisfying.

    Like for many others, the past month’s horrors have taken a toll, and I’ve resorted to comfort reads from a strange assortments of old reliables: Lauren Layne, Robyn Carr, and Mary Balogh. I read Lucy Parker’s Austen Playbook, and while I’ve loved all her previous books, I found this one merely pretty good. Could be me and the world around us – I’ll certainly look forward to her next book.

  20. 20
    HeatherS says:

    I’m kinda feeling like this year is going to have me reading little but comics/manga and “Red, White & Royal Blue” on a loop until November.

  21. 21
    Wait, what? says:

    I just finished Strange Love by Ann Aguirre, and enjoyed it. When I first started reading, Zylar sounded like C3P0 to me – but eventually he developed his own voice 🙂 And I had a little difficulty with Beryl’s “voice” at first sounding a little too hard? crass? something that wasn’t quite to my taste, but then I warmed up to her and loved how she was so supportive of Zylar and Kurr. It was a fun, light story, and the sexy times were quite inventive!

    I’m currently reading The Book of Forbidden Wisdom by Gillian Murray Kendall, and liking it quite a lot. It is a fantasy with romantic elements, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a romance. The two main characters are sisters from a wealthy, landed family, and have left their lives and family behind on a quest for the Book of Forbidden Wisdom. It is set in a world where the two main cultures subjugate women, to the point where one culture actually brands the face of women as part of their marriage rituals – to literally signify ownership of the woman – so CW/TW for that. It is off-page and neither of the two main characters (at least so far and I’m 3/4 through the book) have it happen to them, but still disturbing. I’m hoping that we’re building to a “burn it all down” moment in the end, once our heroines get their hands on the titular book!

  22. 22
    Paulina says:

    It’s been several weeks of nonstop The Witcher novels for me, with a slight pause for HEADLINERS by Lucy Parker which was just OK, which was a bummer since I’ve loved all of the other books in the series.

    I’m up to LADY OF THE LAKE in The Witcher saga, which is the fifth full-length novel and the seventh book overall, so that accounts for my 2020 reading so far. I’d say the quality starts out pretty iffy and improves over time, while still being very 1990s fantasy, so expect some unintended misogyny every now and then. Andrzej Sapkowski is also one of the dialogue-heaviest writers I think I’ve ever encountered, and with the way I’ve been bingeing these books it’s starting to bug me. But I’m still bingeing them because sometimes the heart just wants what it wants. At the very least this is upping the works-in-translation quota for the year by quite a bit in my book log!

  23. 23
    Katie C. says:

    Is it just me or does this winter seem to be lasting forever? At least the sun is out today, although it is chilly.

    Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers by Karen Kleiman: A self-help book in graphic novel form about what new moms say out loud (everything is great! Wonderful!) versus what they are really thinking (I am exhausted! What happened to my old life?). It covers the range from typical adjustment to this major life change to postpartum mood disorders. Highly recommended for any new mom!

    Very Good:
    Do You Want to Start a Scandal? By Tessa Dare: I should state that, in general, I love Tessa Dare. This is the fourth in her Castles Ever After series – the hero of this story is the “jilted” groom of the heroine in Say Yes to the Marquess. He is a spy in service to the Crown and meets the heroine at a house party where he is investigating the host. There is a significant age difference here – he seems to be in his mid to late thirties and she is maybe eighteen or nineteen. Overall, I really liked both of the characters, but the conflict at the end seemed very forced and out of character for the hero, so it wasn’t one of my favorites of Dare’s. Also the mystery element of the plot turned out to be pretty weak.

    The Laird Takes a Bride by Lisa Berne: This is the second book by Berne that I have read (and second in the Penhallow Dynasty series), but I really like her! Forget the wacky set-up of this book (all of the eligible ladies from a certain set of clans are required upon pain of death to come to a selection party where the laird must choose a bride and his punishment is also death if he doesn’t choose and marry one). It doesn’t make sense, but who cares – this book has so much. The heroine is super tall (and I don’t recall one incident of her thinking that the hero is the only man who has ever towered over her and made her feel small), neither the hero nor the heroine are attracted to each other at the beginning, the first few times they have sex it is NOT good, and the heroine is really a complex character – she has a sharp tongue, can hold a grudge, and can have a short fuse BUT she is also a super thoughtful and kind person most of the time, recognizes her own faults and tries to be a better person, and is a badass in multiple ways. I also really enjoyed the first book in the series for the same reasons – the people in the books seem very real and the stories are complicated and deeply engaging. I added the next book in the series to my TBR.

    The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer: This is the third book in the Dame Frevisse mystery series set in 15th century England and this one is different than the previous two because it takes place outside of the convent walls. I liked it, but not as much as the first two because I enjoyed reading about the rhythm and routine of daily life in the convent alongside of the mystery. I plan to the continue the series.


    The Bad:

  24. 24
    Crystal says:

    :::face-plants in, because so tired:::

    My son did Special Olympics training (he qualified in 200 meter and long jump) and his job training program, and now I’m at the library, because said son wanted to go to the library and he did so great that he gets what he wants. So, hi, this post is from the library computer.

    So picking up from the last time we spoke, I finished Headliners, which was sexy and warm and comforting and funny. There was so much to love there, and love it I did. Then I read The Prince of Broadway by Joanna Shupe. I enjoyed the heroine and her goal to open up a gaming hall for women, and the fact that she was primarily goal-oriented. That said, the hero was SO MUCH of an ass in the last part of the book, and for what he nearly did, I still felt like some more grovel was in order. Very inventive love scenes, though. After, it felt like Snarky Dragon Time (when is it not, amiright?). So I read Highfire by Eoin Colfer. I really enjoyed the Louisiana setting, the villain was super-detestable, so when he finally got his comeuppance I really enjoyed it (I can be bloodthirsty and MAN did he have it coming), and I also liked the friendship between Vern (short for Wyvern) and Squib (short for Everett, don’t question it). After that, my hold on Sweet Talkin’ Lover by Tracey Livesay came in, so that was next. I really liked the two main characters, and the fact that they were both hyper-competent in their respective fields, and the treatment of grief in the book was very well-done, but again, the thread of dishonesty that fed the main conflict felt weird to me. Now that I’m thinking of it, it is very possible that I find it disturbing because I can’t wrap my head around making eventual peace with that kind of dishonesty in a relationship. That’s more my problem than the book’s, I’m thinking. I followed that up by reading Chosen by Kiersten White, the sequel to last year’s Slayer. I enjoyed it, but further discussion is tabled for now. And now, today, I am nose-deep in Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, the follow-up to Dread Nation. Dread Nation was brilliant, and this is shaping up to also be brilliant. We get chapters from Katherine’s perspective as well as Jane in this one, and a character that looked like he was going to be around for the long-haul as part of the gang, well, he just got shambled on out of there. Frankly, I can respect an author that knows that her world is Civil War-Era zombies, and as the character himself says in the lead-up to his demise, “no one gets out of here alive”. Also, if her writing in Dread Nation was any indicator, I’m really going to enjoy the political commentary that will find its way in. Until next time, folks, when you have two really good books and feel paralyzed by indecision, there is no shame in eeny-meeny-miney-moe.

  25. 25
    Kareni says:

    Since last time ~

    — Novice Dragoneer (A Dragoneer Academy Novel Book 1) by E.E. Knight which I enjoyed. It started a little slow, but by about page seventy, I was engrossed. My library has this categorized as adult fantasy, but I think it would be a fine read for older teens and up. A blurb on the front cover recommends it to fans of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna, and I’d concur.
    — reread The 5th Gender: A Tinkered Stars Mystery by G. L. Carriger which I enjoyed once more. (This is a pen name of Gail Carriger that she uses for her queer fiction.) It’s a science fiction mystery romance that I had recommended to another reader in the comments section pertaining to Strange Love.

    — How to Draw Inky Wonderlands: Create and Color Your Own Magical Adventure by Johanna Basford. This did not take long to read; however, it would take quite some time to do all the projects. I enjoyed it.
    — reread with pleasure Written in Red by Anne Bishop which I enjoyed once again.
    — My book group chose to read a TOME this month … 716 pages of text plus pictures and another 200 pages of back matter. I generally start a book group book the weekend before we meet on a Thursday; however, I decided it behooved me to start this book much sooner. We meet later this month, and I’ve been reading a couple of chapters daily for the past week. The book is Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell… by Mary Gabriel.
    — And a host of Kindle book samples.

  26. 26
    Maureen says:

    The Write Escape and Hearts on Hold by Charish Read. New to me author, I enjoyed both these books very much. I like how they give props to classic literature and also the romance genres.

    Headliners by Lucy Parker-did not disappoint!! I loved the protagonists, and the slow build to romance was great.

    Heartland-Sarina Bowen-I was so excited about this, but ended up not being crazy about it. It was a lot of non communication which does drive me nuts. I do get where all women are different? I know the heroine was raised in a cult, but all the hesitation drove me nuts. Bowen does a great job at setting the scene and oh-describing the food. This romance left me cold.

  27. 27
    AmyS says:

    Books I liked so far this month are:

    BEFORE THE CALL by Emma Alcott….this is the second in her Small Town Hearts series, but is a stand alone. It is another sweet and sexy M/M with the best friends nerd/jock tropes that I love. Both of these guys stole my heart and made me happy.

    THE WALLFLOWER WAGER by Tessa Dare….my favorite historicals are the ones with the heroes that came from nothing and made their fortune, so Gabe fit the bill. I loved the guys getting together and Penny’s soft heart with animals.

    RESCUE MY HEART by Jill Shalvis……another library audiobook to entertain me while working around the house. I liked grumpy Gabe and found it to be a sweet typical Shalvis story.

    THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by Lyssa Kay, Adams…..I was so looking forward to this book from the buildup hype. But it didn’t hit me right. I was not crazy about either Thea or her sister. But, I liked Gabe and the bookclub scenes and loved when they were talking about Pinterest.

  28. 28
    K.N.O'Rear says:

    I didn’t do an awful lot of reading since last Whatcha Reading, but I still may as well post.

    MARRY IN SCANDAL by Anne Gracie. Not much to say here except that if you like Anne Gracie you’ll like this book. It has all her usual earmarks like eccentric old ladies, found family, and gentlemanly heroes. I do have to issue a content warning since the heroine is abducted early on in the book by a fortune hunter who intends to force her into a marriage. She’s saved before that can happen of course, but the first five chapters or so goes into detail about the abduction, no sexual violence happens, but the scenes get a little intense especially for an Anne Gracie book. Otherwise, as I said it’s pretty standard Anne Gracie which isn’t for everyone, but if you like her books and the scenes I mentioned don’t bother you definitely pick it up.

    This is light nonfiction about exactly what it says in the title. If fashion history is your thing I highly recommend this book because it goes pretty in-depth about fashion details, including the exact materials that were popular in each era. It even talks about some more obscure Victorian fashions like Bloomers or Bloomer Gowns(look it up, it’s a pretty cool outfit and was radical for the 1850s). The one weakness about the book is that it focuses mostly on high fashion wore by upper-class ladies of leisure, so you aren’t going to find much detail here about what any other class wore, but still it’s a pretty good general guide, especially if you like fashion as much as I do.

    BOUND OF BLOOD by Roberta Gellis
    I have complicated feelings towards this book: On one hand, this book was where some of the inspiration for Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s groundbreaking THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER came from because of all the Bodice Ripper tropes are here seven years before Woodiwiss’s book and I adore Roberta Gellis. On the other hand, all the bodice ripper tropes are here (Trigger Warning for the following list): a hero whose barely heroic, domestic abuse, the hero raping the heroine, etc, so I can’t say I necessarily enjoyed it, although I don’t regret reading it. It is also historical Gellis at her best with details of the 12th century out the wazoo and like another historical Gellis’s the book is about those details more than anything else. In conclusion, I can’t really recommend it, but I do want to acknowledge it’s significance to the Romance genre. If you just can’t get enough Gellis read either the Rosalynd Chronicles or THE ROPE DANCER instead.

    THE SPYMISTRESS BY Jennifer Chiaverini
    This book is based on the adventures(for lack of a better term) of a real-life badass woman who worked as a spy for the Union army during the American Civil War, shortly after Virginia seceded the Union. If you want good quality competence by an awesome forty-three-year-old spinster pick this book up. I personally can’t wait to see where this story goes.

  29. 29
    Carole says:

    I FINALLLY HAVE FOUND A LGTBQIA HISTORICAL AND IT WAS AMAZING : BACKWARDS TO OREGAN by Jae. I read it on Scribd and it made me so happy. I have recently been reading a ton of historical westerns (because apparently reading about milking cows and canning beans is my happy place). My favourite was EYES OF SILVER EYES OF GOLD by Ellen O’Connell with really interesting, multidimensional characters (did reread 3 times this year). I’ve read historical westerns by cheryl st john and alexis harrington which are fun but the gender norms are SO STRONG in these books, which is not my fav,
    and the sex scenes were very cookie cutter. Does anyone else have recs for LGBTQIA historical westerns? I need more of this in my life 🙂

  30. 30
    Vicki says:

    I have been sorry to watch RWA implode and, equally, I have picked up some new authors for looking up some of the authors who comment on twitter. I am currently reading Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass and loving it. I actually squeed to the author on twitter (and she replied!). Our heroine is a young woman who fights demons, etc., in the name of Ma’at. Our hero is a 4K year old Nubian warrior doing penance under the auspices of Isis. So much to love in the urban fantasy. For one thing, although the pantheon of my family of origin is Norse, my pantheon is the Egyptian and it is excellent to see it so well protrayed. Plus kick-ass heroine with issues and hot ancient warrior. Looking forward to furthering this series.

    Read Lifelines by CJ Banks. I read it years ago when it first came out, long ago enough that I can’t tell if it was reworked for re-release. I enjoyed it both times. The author is also a pediatric an, now a writer; she is Living my dream.

    I am reading Kellerman’s The Murderers’ Daughter off and on. I am enjoying it but in small portions. It is a stand alone, not part of his ongoing series. Not a romance.

  31. 31
    Heather C says:

    Gideon the Ninth (4/5 stars): All things everyone else has said. I would love to see the set in a movie, or just a 3-D model of the First House location

    The Legacy: Homestead Legacy by Alex Jane (4/5 stars) Historical/Shifter m/m: Manny takes over his grandfathers’ farm after WWI and falls in love with the wolf shifter who bullied him when they were kids. I love these books

    The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Findling Love by Alice Winters: This was pretty funny, but too long. I felt like it needed editing or to be split into novellas

    @Qualisign, @Catherine: I’m putting Charlie Adhara’s Wolf books on my TBR, apparently they are available through my library

  32. 32
    Stacey says:

    I just finished the first three books in the Stariel series by AJ Lancaster (Lord of Stariel, Prince of Secrets, Court of Mortals) and highly recommend them! Free on KU – and really well developed fantasy. I believe “gaslamp fantasy” is the correct genre? Anyhow – lovely books about an unexpected inheritance, friends-to-lovers, and also some fae politics nonsense mixed in there. I’m anxiously awaiting the fourth book.

    I’m currently halfway through Swordheart by T. Kingfisher. I love everything that she writes and this is definitely no exception – it manages to be wry and poignant and have some rage at the patriarchy and also a really lovely hero (even if he is technically a sword?).

    Also reading We Set the Dark on Fire by Teylor Kay Mejia which is lovely. Not far in enough for fully formed opinions, but it’s got me hooked.

  33. 33
    Stacey says:

    I just finished the first three books in the Stariel series by AJ Lancaster (Lord of Stariel, Prince of Secrets, Court of Mortals) and highly recommend them! Free on KU – and really well developed fantasy. I believe “gaslamp fantasy” is the correct genre? Anyhow – lovely books about an unexpected inheritance, friends-to-lovers, and also some fae politics nonsense mixed in there. I’m anxiously awaiting the fourth book.

    I’m currently halfway through Swordheart by T. Kingfisher. I love everything that she writes and this is definitely no exception – it manages to be wry and poignant and have some rage at the patriarchy and also a really lovely hero (even if he is technically a sword?).

    Also reading We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia which is lovely. Not far in enough for fully formed opinions, but it’s got me hooked.

  34. 34
    Karin says:

    The most notable historical romance I read was Julie Anne Long’s “Angel in a Devil’s Arms:, and it was wonderful. I’m so happy she’s writing historicals again. It was so funny and touching and hopeful about love and humanity.
    I don’t read a lot of contemporaries, but after seeing the Squee/A reviews of “Hearts on Hold” by Charish Reid, I had to buy it, and it was freaking adorable! I loved the MCs and the workplace politics seemed up to the minute and spot-on. Highly recommended!
    Very good:
    It turns out there are a whole bunch of D.E. Stevenson books on Scribd, so after reading “Miss Buncle’s Book”, I went on to the next one in that series, “Miss Buncle Married”. In fact Stevenson’s entire oeuvre is excellent comfort reading.
    Was good, but now meh:
    After 5 books in Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery series, I hit the wall. The last one I read had a depiction of Italian immigrants that I found demeaning. I know that wasn’t the author’s intent, because there is a note in the back of the book about her Italian immigrant background. Also, in every book the female MC keeps doing risky things and almost getting killed, even though the male MC warns her not to do them. This series is pretty addictive, and I love the NYC Gilded Age setting, but I need a break.

    Up next, I’ve started “A Dangerous Duet”, a Victorian mystery by Karen Odden. The heroine is disguising herself as a man so she can earn some money by playing the piano in a music hall. Odden’s earlier book, “A Lady in the Smoke” was very good.

  35. 35
    Maureen says:

    @Karin-D.E. Stevenson is an absolute favorite of mine! I used to check out all her books from my library at least once a year, because I wanted to keep them on the shelf. Imagine my despair when I saw they had been pulled. Thankfully many of her books are back in print. Not sure if you have read her Mrs. Tim books-but they are amazing!

  36. 36
    HL says:

    @Sneezy – When the Body Says No was a revelation, though I did have a panic attack when reading it. I always recommend his In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which is on addiction. His work in that arena is amazingly compassionate. I’ve never found anyone else quite like him.

    Currently reading the Wide Open series by Deborah Coates, finally!! Waited a while to get to these but flew through them. I’m on the last now, Strange Country, and I’m finally slowing down because it’s the last 🙁
    Urban Fantasy with a South Dakota setting, definitely recommend.

  37. 37
    HeatherS says:


    Radclyffe has a duology, “Innocent Hearts” and “Promising Hearts”.

    D. Jordan Redhawk’s “Alaskan Bride” is a historical lesbian romance that, while not strictly a Western, fits the frontier trapping/canning beans/etc vibe you mentioned enjoying. It’s also one of the more chaste lesfic romances I have read.

    Oh, and the comic “The Bones of Cody”, which is a lesbian Western romance.


    And “Stage Dreams” by Melanie Gillman! Another graphic novel, this one about a Latina stage coach robber and the trans woman she takes hostage and who offers to help her on her next heist in exchange for her freedom. Naturally, Feelings ensue. The art is great and the story is a lot of fun.

  38. 38
    Karin says:

    @Maureen, thanks for the tip. I have Scribd, and I see they have at least one “Mrs. Tim” book by D.E. Stevenson.

  39. 39
    KB says:

    I’ve had a bit of a slow reading month so far, which is weird because usually I tend to do more reading in the winter. I normally read at night so I think I’ve just been extra tired and falling asleep with my Kindle on my face! However I did just finish Fall by Kristen Callihan and really enjoyed it. She does a good job of balancing genuine emotion and characters that seem real with some extremely hot sex scenes. I have not tried her Darkest London series yet so that is on my list for sure. Also read Born In Ice by Nora Roberts–my first ever Nora!! I felt like that was a big hole in my reading experience and when Fated Mates reviewed this one it sounded good, so I took the plunge. The story was interesting, if a tiny bit unbelievable, and I loved the Irish setting and the heroine’s relationship with her sister. In the end I was not sufficiently excited about the story to read the rest of the series, but will definitely try some of her other ones, particularly any others set in Ireland. Now I’m reading Polaris Rising, which has been on my TBR forever but my library didn’t have it, and the Kindle version was a little pricey. I scooped it up when it went on sale a couple weeks ago and am very happy that I did. The heroine is awesome so far–a badass but with enough weaknesses not to seem ridiculous. The hero has said about 5 words so far so who knows, but I’m only about 12% in. He did do some nifty flying and I’m getting full Han Solo and Princess Leia vibes which fits squarely in my wheelhouse. Definitely looking forward to the rest of this story.

  40. 40
    StarlightArcher says:

    Back to my audio book ways these days. It was a slow start to the year, but I managed to get through “Before and After” by Judy Christie. It’s a follow-up story if you will to the novel “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate, which was a fictionalized tale of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and the illegal adoptions and virtual black market they were running on adoptions from the late 1800s through till 1950. The book has the stories of those who were actually adopted through that system and their stories of looking for family. It was interest, if not my usual cup of soup. But, I’m glad I read it.

    From uplifting to soul staining, I listened to “American Predator” by Maureen Callahan. It’s about a serial killer who hunted across the country and wasn’t captured until the early 2000’s. The book was good, though the subject … the less of him the better except, I can only hope for justice after death and that he’s rotting there.

    That horror-show was quickly followed by “The Secrets We Kept” by Laura Prescott. It’s another novel, dealing with spies, Soviet Russia, the Cold War, and the book “Doctor Zhivago”. This one is almost more like a radio play, in that each chapter is from someone else’s perspective, and is voiced by a different narrator. Again, it’s a good story and as it deals with concepts of the power of art juxtaposed against the weight of societal expectations (especially for women) it makes you glad for all the ways the world has moved on, while being sad that it was once so different.

    Right now I’m listening to “The Furious Hours” by Casey Cep. Another non-fiction this one entails a murder trial which was covered by the American author Harper Lee, which took place in Alabama in the 1960s. The book delves deep into the main players, the history of the state, the racial and cultural divisions, and the justice system mixes with all those other factors. While the trial dealt with the murder of a local preacher, it was believed the victim had killed at least 5 members of his friends and family circle in order to perpetrate life insurance fraud. I’m only about a third of the way through the book, but so far it’s certainly a doozy

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