Thursday, December 1, 2022

41. Aussie Rules

By Jill Shalvis (320 pp, ebook)

Had a pretty hairy month so I wanted something fun and easy to read and this delivered. Pretty generic romance with a little mystery attached which was the thing that kept me turning the page. Young woman pilot holds together a private airfield business while the boss is living a mysterious life out in the world. Aussie hunk arrives with proof he is the actual owner of the business. They fall for each other while unraveling the truth. The resolution was cartoonish. I've read better books by this author.

Friday, November 18, 2022

40. Murder in the Vicarage

By Agatha Christie (305 pp, ebook)

I have never read an Agatha Christie and one of my writing teachers, Connie Willis, said Christie was a good writer to study so I finally read one. I liked the character banter and a story written and set in the early 1900s but I did get a little bit of character fatigue. Especially for such a short book. Also the resolution wasn't that clever but also I'm a person who has watched a zillion hour long mystery type shows. Did love Miss Marple's debut.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

39. Boyfriend Material

By Alexis Hall (432 pp)

This is a new-to-me romance writer. I loved Glitterland and this one seems to be a fan favorite so I bought it for myself while doing book xmas shopping. It's fake relationship story with a scruffy guy who hasn't quite figured himself out and a put-together barrister. Fun, easy read for a lazy weekend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

38. The Haunting of Tram Car 015

By P. Djèlí Clark (144 pp, ebook)

Another book that I don't know how I got but fired it up for October. Set in a magical Egypt where a bureaucrat has to deal with possessed public transportation. Fun story. I plan to track down more from this author.

Friday, October 21, 2022

37. The Ruins

By Scott Smith (384 pp. ebook)

I read this years ago when it first came out and grabbed when it was on sale so I could read it again. I remembered it as a horror page-turner which is 100% correct. I didn't quite remember all the body horror - yikes. Another great October creeper. The movie is on HBO but I think I'm too much of a fraidy cat and we don't have enough pillows to hide behind.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

36. Forest of the Damned

By Lee Mountford (284 pp ebook)

Another one of those: how did this get on my ereader books? Was it recommended? Was it on sale or freebie and looked interesting? Your guess is as good as mine. But it's October and I wanted horror so I fired it up. It's a creepy Blair Witch in the forest sort of thing o nly with lots of gross, disturbing imagery. Delivers the chills.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

35. Puffs or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic

By Matt Cox (132 pp)

This is a play that was recommended by me because I'm trying to adapt a story I wrote into a play and I have a lot to learn. It was helpful for learning and I would probably enjoy seeing it performed.

Friday, September 30, 2022

34. Normal People

By Sally Rooney (270 pp, ebook)

Look at me reading 6 books in one month -- even though one was a play and one was a novella -- still, I feel so accomplished.

I heard about this book because of the tv series and it looked like something I would like but I wanted to read the book first. Wow. At first I was a little put off by the writing style, I'm not sure how to describe it. Dry? Spare? But once I was drawn into the story, I didn't notice it. It's about two young people in Ireland, growing into adulthood and the strong, sometimes unhealthy, bond (obsession?) between them. The characters are so good, their pain and confusion about dealing with life feels real. They are terrible at a communication, however, and at times the dynamic of getting defensive and argumentative over a simple statement was aggravating. (But not unrealistic.)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

33. A Psalm for the Wild Built

By Becky Chambers (ebook, 160 pp)

If a book was a hot bowl of soup and a buttered roll on a rainy evening -- this would be it. I have read three other Becky Chambers books that I enjoyed, particularly A Closed and Common Orbit. This one is set in a earth-like world where robots became self-aware and disappeared. Humans have a technolgy free, but peaceful existence. The story is about a person who finds themself unhappy with life and decides to become a tea monk which is like a wandering therapist who visits different villages and makes tea and listens. They head into the wilderness and it is the first meeting between robot and human in ages. They are both delighted. It's super cute.

Monday, September 19, 2022

32. House in the Cerulean Sea

By TJ Klune (ebook, 393 pp)

This came highly recommended and I loved it. It's a kind-of Harry Potter world where magical children are managed by the government in terrible orphanages. The story is about an uptight bureaucrat caseworker who is sent to an island orphanage to sort-out what's going on there. It's very sweet and funny. Perfect reading for a long air flight.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

31. Daisy Jones & The Six

By Taylor Jenkins Reid (400 pp, ebook)

I have been wanting to check out this author and a book about a 70s rock band on the rise sounds like a perfect match. Unfortunately, it is told in the style of an oral history which is a format I am not a fan of. Parts of it I liked but at times it dragged for me and I had a really hard time connecting to the characters.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

30. The Piano Lesson

By August Wilson (136 pp)

I'm trying to learn about playwriting and Tracy recommended August Wilson for good character banter. This is set in Pittsburgh after the Great Depression and involves a family piano. The brother wants to sell it and use the money to buy the land his slave ancestors worked on. The sister doesn't want to sell the piano because it is an important family heirloom with family faces carved it by their great-grandfather when they were slaves. It is really good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

29. Nightshifted

By Cassie Alexander (365 pp ebook)

I am not the best audience for paranormal/urban fantasy. I want to be but it seems like often it doesn't work for me. This book starts out super fun -- a plucky nurse who works in the secret basement of county hospital tending to vampires and were-creatures and gets sucked into a vampire mystery she needs to solve and crosses paths with shapeshifters and zombies and powerful creature families. I enjoyed reading it but after awhile I had a hard time keeping track of world-building. Would read another in the series.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Audiobook: Beastie Boys Book

By Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz

I rarely put my audiobooks on here but I have to mention this one because it is PHENOMENAL. I say this as a person who is not particularly a Beastie Boys fan and also doesn't love the oral history style of memoir. (I call it "lazy.") But I was a huge music fan at the time they were coming up and love hearing details about the music scene during this time. Their story-telling is so charming, the audiobook has so many cool narrators: Exene, Kim Gordon, Jeff Tweedy, Rosie Perez, John C. Reilly. They are so likeable and it's a great story. Makes you wish it was the early 80s again and you were starting a band.

Monday, August 29, 2022

28. Glitterland

By Alexis Hall (286 pp ebook)

I keep finding books that I finished and never posted. How could I have missed this one? Incredibly charming M/M contemporary romance set in England featuring a guy suffering from mental health issues who meets a guy who in the U.S. would be Jersey Shores. I know. You can't see how that would work but it does. The characters are funny and sweet. I can't wait to read more books by this author.

27. Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer

Eds: Tod McCoy and M. Huw Evans (196 pp ebook)

I had this on my phone and read it on and off on the bus. It's a bunch of essays by instructors from the Clarion West Writers Workshop about writing and living as a writer. Lots of good stuff in here.

26. Middlegame

By Seanan McGuire (528 pp ebook)

I don't know what to tell you about this book. I LOVED the Wayward Children Novellas #5, #2, #1, #4, and #3. This book did not work for me. I couldn't connect to the characters or the story. It's about a set of twins created by evil people who want power.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

25. Ashwin (Gideon's Riders #1)

By Kit Rocha (369 pp) ebook

This author was recommended to me a long time ago and I grabbed this book for my trip. Post-apocalyptic setting with sexy warrior guys on motorcycles with some sciency human-upgrades. In this one an emotionless genetically engineered soldier has to infiltrate these other warrior guys but also he's in love with a beautiful military doctor lady who is part of the warrior guys. (So he's not as emotionless as he thinks.) Rated: super spicy.

Monday, August 22, 2022

24. Making Their Vows

By Jessa Kane (103 pp) ebook

I went on a girls weekend trip that did not go as planned but before that, I loaded up my ereader with fun trashy books. This author was recommended for bananas characters and plot twists and then the name turned up again. I put this podcast (Fated Mates NYE 2020) on my phone. It's hilarious -- I want to be friends with these women. This is a very spicy novella about an 18 year old who amateur boxes to pay the bills and support his sister, Tulip, because their parents are drug dealers and do not provide a safe home environment. He spots a beautiful rich girl (also 18) whose dad wants her to go to Harvard but she really just wants to be a school teacher. Once they meet they can't live without each other in a world that wants to keep them apart. Not my main type of book but quick, easy read. Would read another by this author.

Monday, August 1, 2022

23. Firekeeper's Daughter

By Angeline Boulley (488 pp)

I went out of town for a wedding and had a relaxing weekend where I could read a whole book! It was amazing. This is a YA book set in Ojibwe country in Michigan, very page turny. I loved it. All your favorite YA dramatic tropes with Indigenous culture and amazing setting. The MC Daunis gets wrapped up in a drug investigation -- lots of secrets and surprises. Recommend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

22. The Great Escape

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips (421 pp ebook)

This author came highly recommended and this is the first of hers I've read. It's about the predictable, good-girl who abandons her fiance at the altar and runs off with a cranky tough-guy on a motorcycle. I did not like the first 30 pages of the book and didn't see how I would ever come around to liking these people. I was wrong. Lucy ends up on an island in the Great Lakes and cranky tough-guy isn't who seemed at first. I loved the setting and the secondary characters.

Friday, July 8, 2022

21. Hide Me Among the Graves

By Tim Powers (493 ebook)

This is another book that was on my ereader and I have no idea the origins. It's set in Victorian London and is about a bunch of people being traumatized by vampires. But not vampires how we usually think of vampires. It's hard to describe -- it's horror with some goulish and creepy bits. Very atmospheric - the setting is like another character. But also the characters are kind-of humorous. It's an odd tone but it works.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

20. Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1)

By Lee Child (575 ebook)

Someone wrote about reading the Jack Reacher books during the pandemic and I'd never read one or seen a film adaptation so I gave it a try. I'm not really the audience for this but it was a fun page-turner and easy to read on a plane or the bus. An ex-military wanderer stops by a small town looking for information about a legendary singer and ends up arrested for murder. Lots of thrills and violence ensue.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

19. A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe

By Alex White (440 pp)

This book sounds like it was made for me: Expanse meets Firefly. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work for me. It's set in space with some magical elements. There's race driver and a treasure hunter, a secret battleship and a creepy murder crone. The world-building is fun and detailed and there's a lot of action, but I never connected with the characters.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

18. The Year of the Nurse (A Memoir)

By Cassie Alexander (416 pp ebook)

I almost forgot this one -- I finished it on the plane while traveling. This a memoir by a nurse during the Covid pandemic. I think it starts in February 2020 and things were already terrible by the end of March which is harrowing to read now when you know how long this thing has dragged out. What I loved was all the deep knowledge about what sort of complications the medical industry and nurses were dealing with. To someone who knows nothing, it seems like they just need to add more beds but then you see how complicated it is to find experienced RNs. She also writes about her struggle with self-care and mental health issues.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

17. Euphoria

By Lily King (257 pp)

I got a booster on Friday so I wasn't moving too quickly yesterday. I had already read a couple chapters of this book but had the opportunity to finish it in one long reading session. It is phenomenal. It's fiction but inspired by Margaret Mead about anthropologists in the field in New Guinea in the 1930s. Such great writing, great characters, the setting so immersive. Highly recommend.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

16. Superfan

By Sarina Bowen (314 pp)(ebook)

I'm in a little bit of a reading slump and having a hard time concentrating on things so I picked this one up. Another hockey one with a pop star. Fun easy read.

Sunday, May 15, 2022


I quit on a book when I was over 100 pages in. I haven't done that in a long time. When I started the book I loved it. It's speculative and not conventionally sci-fi but not conventionally fantasy either - with rich world-building and interesting characters. Except as I read along it seemed like more and more it was characters talking about even deeper and deeper aspects of this rich world building: society groups, politics, customs, and history. The cognitive load became too much at the moment when most of my reading is in short bits on the bus or right before I go to sleep. Perhaps I will revisit someday.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

15. Paladin's Grace

By T. Kingfisher (366 pp / ebook)

I have so many ebooks and I often have no idea where they came from. Did a friend recommend? Did I see a review? Was it part of a free book giveaway? I have no idea where this came from. I was expecting a fantasy and there were fantasy book things happened but also it was a super cute romance. I loved this book. I put a list of all this author's books in my phone so I can get more. This is like the Ted Lasso of fantasy romance. It's about a perfumer with a murky past, a paladin with a dramatic past, some creepy murders, and an assassination attempt. It's also funny.

Friday, April 22, 2022

14. Dept. of Speculation

By Jenny Offill (177 pp)

This book is a gem! I loved the writing -- the whole book is filled with tidbits that you want to save to read again later. It's a short book but I resisted the urge to rush through it. It's the story of a relationship: love and pain. Really good.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

13. Only the Good Indians

By Stephen Graham Jones (310 pp)

Whew - what a ride! This is a horror novel set in Blackfeet Country and is intense and violent. I had mixed feelings at first -- it didn't seem like my kind of thing but by then end, which I finished on the bus, I was won over. It's about a group of Indigenous men who make a poor choice in youth that leads to a vengeful spirit tracking them down. Suspenseful and surprising.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

12. Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure

By Courtney Milan (156 pp ebook)

Novella romance between two older ladies who face a battle with Terrible Men. Quick and fun to read and nice to see characters you don't normally see in romance.

Friday, April 8, 2022

11. The Glass Hotel

By Emily St. John Mandel (307pp)(ebook)

I loved this book. I am still thinking about it. Readers who come to it expecting another Station Eleven might be disappointed but I could hardly put it down. The story follows several characters at different moments in time all connected by a luxe hotel in the wilderness and a Ponzi scheme. Beautiful writing.

Friday, April 1, 2022

10. The Witch Elm

By Tana French (526 pp) (ebook)

I was really looking forward to reading this. I love Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. This one (not a Dublin Murder Squad) didn't quite work for me. I loved the setting and the characters and their relationships and even the set-up was good. But ultimately there were some weird side bits that never fit in and the last section went to implausible territory for me with an unsatisfying ending. Like all her books, it's set in Ireland and the main character is a 28 man who seems to have everything going for him until he doesn't.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

9. My Sister the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite (240pp, ebook)

This is a really fun page turner that is exactly as the title says. It's set in Nigeria and the narrator, the older sister, has her hands full with her own problems while cleaning up after her sister. I don't want to spoil anything.

Friday, March 18, 2022

8. Wayward

By Dana Spiotta (289 pp ebook)

This was recommended by a friend and I really enjoyed it. It's set in Syracuse NY and about a woman, roughly my age, dealing with being this age - her aging mother, her grown up daughter, a marriage that has changed. There's a lot going on: family, motherhood, menopause, social changes, community. So much to think about. Recommend.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

7. Children of Time

By Adrian Tchaikovsky (609 pp ebook) This book came very highly recommended and has lots of great reviews and it did not work for me at all. I don't know if I've ever thought about quitting a book in the last 50 pages before. It has lots of sci fi elements I like: generation ships, people waking from stasis into a big mystery, unpredictable scientists. The book is divided into what's going on with the green planet and what's going on with the ship. While initially interesting, the green planet stuff began to bore me. The characterization of the humans was thin and they were mostly unlikeable. Not for me.

Friday, March 4, 2022

6. Firelight

By Kristen Callihan (373 pp ebook) I am a big fan of Kristen Callihan romances. My favorite are the rock star ones that start with Idol. This is a paranormal set in historical London. Lots of different speculative elements, some not quite like I've seen before. Nice slow-burn romance. Enjoyed.

Friday, February 18, 2022

5. Father of the Rain

By Lily King (354pp, ebook) I recently discovered this writer via a gift from a friend and I love her writing. This is my second one of hers I've read and is hard to describe without making it sound terrible and it does have its emotionally harrowing moments but it's really good. It's about a girl's relationship with her charming but alcoholic father. The story opens when she's 11 and has 3 main sections ending when she's an adult with her own family. He's a troubled person and creates a troubled family. She finds a way to love him. Really good.

Friday, February 11, 2022

4. The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle

By Stuart Turton (458 pp)(ebook) This is a Groundhog's Day meets Agatha Christie -- a guy who needs to solve a mystery while re-living the same day in different hosts. It's set at this creepy, crumbling estate in the woods and everybody has a secret to hide or discover. Plus murder. It's definitely a page turner but I found myself getting taken out of the story wondering about the internal rules of the world.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

3. The Eternal Machine

By Carol Ryles (478 pp) (ebook) Carol is one of my Clarion West classmates and she self-published her novel and it is terrific. It is steampunk -- it's set in a world where there are different kinds of magic and magic is a form of energy that can be bought and sold or stolen. Em is struggling to make a living selling her magic and gets involved with rebels fighting evil industrialists. There are shapeshifters, automatons and demons. Fun book.

Friday, January 14, 2022

2. The Queen's Fool

By Philippa Gregory (500 pp) In December I was trying to weed out my to-read pile and donate stuff I didn't think I would ever get around to. I picked up this book at a rummage sale for a buck several years ago. Before I threw it in the box I decided to read a few pages and here we are. It's about a fictional character, a young girl who has a limited gift the sight who ends up in the Tudor court starting with poor doomed King Edward and the book ends when Elizabeth I takes the throne. It's funny how Hannah manages to be in the middle of all the court intriques. Still fun to read.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

1. The Ballad of Black Tom

By Victor Lavalle (157 pp ebook) This book was on my phone and I knew nothing about it. It's set in 1920s New York and is about Tommy Tester, a Black musician/street hustler who is drawn into a creepy supernatural summoning. After I finished I learned that this is a revisiting of an HP Lovecraft story called The Horror at Red Hook which I have never read. Great writing, unsettling atmosphere, spooky story.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022 Begins!

I hoped to get to 40 books last year -- well, that wasn't a hard goal. I read three Robin Hobb books equalling around 2400 pages so that equals at least 6 or 7 books plus I critiqued a couple of books and there are always some romances or novellas I don't end up reporting. Turns out I did read over 40 books -- and I'll be sure to submit this to, you know, to the Commission on How Many Books You Read. No goals for 2022 except read lots of books. And possibly read more than I buy. (HAHAHA!)