What I Read: June 27-July 3

The Marlow Murder Club (The Marlow Murder Club #1) by Robert Thorogood: This is like the Thursday Murder Club combined with Golden Girls – I enjoyed the cast of characters and the mystery was interesting (and caught me by surprise a few times!) Thank you Poisoned Pen Press for the finished copy!

Float Plan (Beck Sisters #1) by Trish Doller: I loved this so much more than I thought I would. Anna’s development throughout the book felt realistic and emotional, and the descriptions of the ocean and islands were like taking a little vacation. And, of course, Keane was super dreamy and a perfect book boyfriend. I don’t want to wait too long to grab book two!

Slightly Dangerous (Bedwyn Saga #6) by Mary Balogh: My journey through the Bedwyn Saga has been a bit of a rollercoaster, but the payoff was worth it (granted, I totally skipped book five). Wulfric’s story is absolutely worth a read, but I would highly recommend reading at least some of the other books in the series before picking this up. Wulfric is like Mr. Darcy cranked up to 1,000 and I absolutely loved every part of the reading experience. Now I need to decide which Mary Balogh series to tackle next: The Survivors’ Club or the Simply Quartet.

CURRENTLY READING: I’m about a quarter of the way through Shady Hollow (Shady Hollow #1) by Juneau Black, which i’m enjoying so far.

What I Read: June 20-26

All the Duke I Need (Desperately Seeking Duke #3) by Caroline Linden: The cover of this book is…not my favorite, but I really enjoyed the story. Will is a little different from the typical historical romance male love interest – he’s rogueish but not REALLY a rogue. He’s a rough-around-the-edges kind of guy, but with a willingness to help where he can. The overall storyline is really interesting (although you MAY have to suspend a bit of disbelief here). Thank you Avon for the finished copy! | My All the Duke I Need review on Instagram

If It Bleeds by Stephen King: WOOF. I need to take a longer break from Uncle Steve. This collection of four novellas was just so boring. I slowly made it through the first two, and he completely lost me during the Holly Gibney bit.

Roll Red Roll: Rape, Power and Football in the American Heartland by Nancy Schwartzman: I’m actually finishing this up today but I have read enough to offer some thoughts. This is a comprehensive, informative book about the Steubenville rape case that happened in 2012. Schwartzman examines the attitudes and contributing factors in the town that ultimately led to the crime. If you’re familiar with this case (and similar cases) nothing here will surprise you, but it’s a short, worthwhile read. Thank you Hachette for the finished copy!

Teach Me (There’s Something About Marysburg #1) by Olivia Dade: I’ve been interested in reading an Olivia Dade book for awhile, and Teach Me was a pleasant surprise. Rose and Martin are mature and work through their emotions and feelings in healthy ways (it helps that both main characters are in their 40s). It’s always nice to find a contemporary romance with minimal drama and angst. The story was a little lacking in depth but it was still an enjoyable read.

The Rogue of Fifth Avenue (Uptown Girls #1) by Joanna Shupe: I read my first Joanna Shupe book last year and absolutely LOVED it, so I’m surprised it took me so long to give another a try. The Rogue of Fifth Avenue was good, but not great. I did like Frank and (mostly) liked Mamie, but I have a feeling I’ll enjoy the other books in this series even more.

What I Read: June 13-19

Aurora by David Koepp: This was a read-in-one-day sort of book – fast-paced and interesting, without being TOO heavy (although focused on an apocalyptic-adjacent event). Koepp wrote the screenplay for Jurassic Park, so this reads very much like a movie. Thank you Harper Books for the finished copy! | My Aurora review on Instagram

The Body in the Library (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie: I enjoyed this more than the first book, but I don’t know if Miss Marple and I can be friends. I’ll probably read the remaining four books I have in this series, but I’m not sure I’ll go beyond that. Looks like I’ll be scurrying back to Poirot in a few months…

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma: This started off incredibly promising and fizzled out, FAST. Between interesting (read: embarrassing and immature) names for body parts and a male lead who actually turns out to be a pretty big jerk, you’re not missing much if you decide to skip this one.

Witch and Famous (Witch Way Librarian Mysteries #3) by Angela M. Sanders: Witchy books can be really hit or miss for me, and this series continues to be a favorite! Sanders perfectly balances the magical and witchy elements with real life. The mystery in this one had me guessing until the very end, and I was thrown off by some very clever red herrings. Thank you Kensington for the ARC! | My Witch and Famous review on Instagram

Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar #1) by Harlan Coben: I’m no stranger to Harlan Coben, having read a handful of his books over the past few years. After catching up with Karin Slaughter’s backlist, I decided to shift my focus to starting the Myron Bolitar series from the beginning. Myron and Win are some of my favorite characters to revisit, and this series does a decent job of filling the Karin Slaughter void in my reading life. And for a book published in 1995, this didn’t feel TOO dated which is an achievement on its own.

CURRENTLY READING: Getting back into historical romance and finally reading All the Duke I Need by Caroline Linden. Thank you Avon for the finished copy!

What I Read: May 30-June 5

Dim Sum of All Fears (Noodle Shop Mystery #2) by Vivien Chien: This is easily one of my favorite cozy mystery series – I’ve read a few out of order, and have slowly gone back to the beginning (book two has been on my TBR shelf for a year now…) Chien always includes a good amount of humor, and the small community vibes set in a larger city (Cleveland!) keep this from being too sugary sweet. Also, the book covers and food descriptions always make me crave Chinese food.

Dukes Do It Better (Misfits of Mayfair #3) by Bethany Bennett: This is a fantastic little historical romance series – I found myself loving Mal in Dukes Do It Better, even though I’m pretty sure book two is my favorite of the bunch. Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

CURRENTLY READING: East of Eden by John Steinbeck – it’s been a while since I’ve read a classic and this is going pretty well so far. I’m a few pages short of being a quarter of the way through. Once I got used to the writing and the general premise, I’ve found that this has read a lot easier and quicker than anticipated.

What I Read: May 23-29

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich: After reading the two more recent books in the (very) long-running Stephanie Plum series, I decided to start from the beginning. Luckily, these books are pretty easy to find at most used bookstores. Keep in mind, this book was released in 1994, so some of the jokes are a little cringey and outdated – but overall, it was a decently fun read. I will continue on in the series because I think the books will improve.

Always Be My Duchess (Taming of the Dukes #1) by Amalie Howard: I had really high hopes for this, because I was under the impression that it was going to be a fun (and funny) romcom. However, this was much more serious than I anticipated and some of the grand gestures were just a little too cheesy for me. Thank you Forever for the ARC!

The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) by Agatha Christie: One of my goals for 2022 was to start reading more Agatha Christie (especially now that I’m caught up on Karin Slaughter’s backlist). The Agatha Christie “estate” is releasing some really beautiful paperback editions of the Miss Marple books, so I figured that would be a great place to start. Unfortunately, The Murder at the Vicarage was a little lackluster – Miss Marple is barely a character, only making small appearances throughout. The story is narrated by the vicar, who isn’t the brightest bulb nor the most interesting mind to be inside. It’s worth noting that when most readers rank their top Miss Marple books, they almost never include this first entry. However, I’ve had pretty good results with the few AC books I have read in the past, so I’ll be continuing on with the series (I also have already purchased books one through six, so I’ll at least get that far before deciding if I’ll finish all twelve).

CURRENTLY READING: I’m in the mood for a short nonfiction read, so I’m starting Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse today.

What I Read: May 16-22

Full Throttle by Joe Hill: This is the third short story collection I’ve read this month, which is really out of the norm for me. Joe Hill is a great author but, like with most short story collections, this has a few hits and a few misses.

Under One Roof (The STEMinist Novellas #1) by Ali Hazelwood: I absolutely LOVED this little novella. Liam is a fantastic character, and the shorter length of this book worked perfectly for the story (a full-blown novel would either get repetitive or weighed down by unnecessary drama). Novella two comes out in a few weeks, and novella three is due in July – I’ll be downloading them to my Kindle as soon as they’re available.

Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams: I really loved the first book in the series, so it’s a mystery why I waited a year and a half to read the second. This was delightful and hilarious – sure, the romance aspect is great, but the book club guys and their antics and interactions are what made me love this. I won’t wait as long to pick up book three.

Slightly Scandalous (Bedwyn Saga #3) by Mary Balogh: My journey through the Bedwyn saga continues (and this one had some great scenes with Wulfric and the rest of the family!) Freyja and Joshua are both incredibly unlikeable but I still enjoyed their story. This was vastly more interesting than book two, but not as lovable as book one. Not surprisingly, I have already requested book four on Libby.

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter: And thus ends my Karin Slaughter journey…at least until her next book comes out later this year. Cop Town was a great read, with some really powerful scenes that I’ll be thinking of for a long time (and one with a switchblade that I wish I could forget!) Karin also announced that a new Will Trent book is scheduled to release in 2023, so you have time to catch up (but seriously, start with the Grant County series!)

CURRENTLY READING: I’m about 15% into a historical romance I got via Libby, but I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it, so this section will just have to be a mystery this week.

What I Read: May 9-15

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes: This was absolutely fantastic. I already knew Paul Holes was a whip-smart and experienced detective, but his compassion and care really shone through in this book. A must-read for anyone interested in true crime as a genre. Thank you Celadon Books for the ARC!

Slightly Wicked (Bedwyn Saga #2) by Mary Balogh: This was such a drag compared to book one. I did not like Rannulf/Ralf as a love interest and, beyond the opening section, this was just so painfully boring. I do have book three (which focuses on Freyja) on hold and I should be able to read it soon. I am seriously determined to get to Wulfric’s book (which is the sixth and last in the series) but I was told that it’s more rewarding if you read the rest first.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George RR Martin: This is BAD. It’s so boring compared to A Storm of Swords and to be quite honest, I gave up about 55% of the way through. However, I am counting this as “read” because I made it through more than 500 pages…I just couldn’t handle 400 more of a bunch of nothing. If you’ve watched the show, you could probably skip this one. I will read A Dance with Dragons (eventually) though.

Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor: This is a 60-ish page story written in 1938, and follows two friends as they write letters back and forth at the very beginning of Hitler’s rise to power and the formation of Nazi Germany. It’s powerful and pretty horrifying (conceptually, at least).

Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan: Lucian Osmond is a former professional hockey player who loves to bake. If that doesn’t grab your attention, maybe this isn’t the book for you. I read this in the span of one afternoon, and really enjoyed the majority of my time with Lucian and Emma. A few parts dragged a bit for me, but overall this was really cute.

CURRENTLY READING: I haven’t started it yet, but I think my next read is going to be The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley. Thank you Books Forward PR for the ARC!

What I Read: May 2-8

When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow: After a few DNFs (right in a row, yikes) I found myself reaching for this anthology inspired by Shirley Jackson. As with most short story collections, I really enjoyed some stories, disliked a few, and found the rest to be pretty middle-of-the-road. If you are a Shirley Jackson fan, you’ll probably enjoy this. Each story adds an unsettling feeling to everyday life, and most feature the ambiguous, open-ended “conclusions” that are a hallmark of Jackson’s work.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw: Another short story collection? Who am I? This one actually came after another string of DNFs (again…yikes). This is a quick read filled with heartbreak, humor and some incredibly thoughtful observations and musings on life.

Slightly Married (Bedwyn Saga #1) by Mary Balogh: I picked this up after the entire series came (sort of…?) recommended by someone online. This deviates a bit from what usually draws me to historical romance but I was INVESTED. This series follows the six Bedwyn siblings, and starts by focusing on Aidan (the second oldest) as he ends up in a marriage of convenience with Eve, as a way to honor her brother’s dying request. Aidan is gruff but honorable, and is a very Jane Austen-esque love interest. I already have book two checked out from Libby and I’ll probably be reading it this week or next. (Also, I don’t mind reading the entire series just to get to Wulfric’s book…)

The Rakess (Society of Sirens #1) by Scarlett Peckham: This has been sitting on my tbr shelf for quite awhile, and I’m glad I finally gave it a shot. Seraphina is a “Rakess” (if you read historical romance, that means exactly what you assume it does). She doesn’t apologize for the lifestyle she’s chosen, and is actively working to change society’s attitudes about what women should and should not be held accountable for (and ostracized for) compared to their male counterparts. There are a lot of great things about this book but it got a bit too melodramatic for me in the final chapters. I would consider picking up book two, however (whenever that happens to be released).

CURRENTLY READING: Unmasked by Paul Holes, which is easily one of the best true crime books I’ve read so far. I purchased a signed copy of this book, but also received an ARC from Celadon Books (thank you!)

What I Read: April 25-May 1

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA Champion by Mirin Fader: You do not need to be a basketball fan to enjoy this book! Giannis Antetokounmpo might be the most lovable pro athlete to ever exist. This is a pretty thorough biography, starting with Giannis’ childhood in Greece and taking us through his NBA Championship just last year. It’s heartwarming and funny, while also being deeply sad at times. Perfect for readers who love some good narrative nonfiction. Thank you Hachette for the finished paperback copy!

Big Rock (Big Rock #1) by Lauren Blakely: This was the right read at the right time – I needed something that would be quick and easy to read, while also being fairly lighthearted and fun. Big Rock is one of those books that probably isn’t what you think – it’s surprisingly sweet and Spencer, our male main character, isn’t as much of an asshole as he claims to be. This clocks in at less than 250 pages, so it’s in the read-in-one-afternoon category.

Gwendy’s Button Box (Button Box #1) by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar: This is the first book in a trilogy of novellas that follows Gwendy – in book one we meet her at the age of 12 and follow her through to her college graduation. One summer day, she meets a man in black (Constant Readers, you know him as RF, which varies depending on which book you’re reading…) who gives her a mysterious box that changes the course of her life. This was creepy without being too heavy-handed, and it was perfect as a novella – this would be a bit much as a full novel.

The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club #2) by Richard Osman: I had a lovely time with my favorite octogenarian quartet, solving yet another murder. Much like the first book, this is packed with quiet, smart humor, interesting twists and turns, and thoughtful musings on friendship, old age and death. You don’t necessarily need to read the series in order, but i’d recommend it – the first book gets you acquainted with Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim in such a way that they feel like old friends. (And we’re getting a third book later this year!)

CURRENTLY READING: I’m in a mystery/thriller/horror mood at the moment, so I finally picked up When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow, a collection of short stories inspired by Shirley Jackson. Short stories aren’t usually my thing, so when i’m in the mood to read them I have to take advantage! Looking ahead, I might be picking up one (or two!) more short story collections this month.

What I Read: April 18-24

The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker (available 5/17/2022): This was a really interesting read, about a family of (seemingly) cursed sisters who are heiresses to a firearms fortune. I thought this would be a fictionalized version of the Winchester House story (seriously, look it up, it’s wild) but it was more of a gothic, 1950s version of The Virgin Suicides. It’s a slower burn at times (with some shocking moments sprinkled throughout) and it ends on a somewhat vague note and leaves a lot of unanswered questions. However, the atmospheric reading experience, cast of sisters and unsettling “wedding cake” house kept me interested from start to finish. Thank you Harper Collins for the ARC!

Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander (available 5/3/2022): Sometimes readers will complain that a book is all romance and no plot – well, Chef’s Kiss was somewhat of the opposite for me (but not necessarily in a bad way). Think of this more as contemporary fiction with a slow-burning romantic subplot. Simone and Ray are SO lovable (Ray is the epitome of SUNSHINE). I loved the cookbook/magazine publisher workplace setting (America’s Test Kitchen fans, this book will interest you!) and the overall plot was rich and well-developed. I think this was my first romance read with a nonbinary lead, and the representation is what matters most here. Thank you Atria for the ARC!

The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10) by Karin Slaughter: There was a point in this book where I had an idea of where Karin was taking the plot and I was so distressed and heartbroken about the mere idea of where it was going, and then SHE WENT THERE and for some reason, i’m not mad about it? After 16 books in two series that include a few overlapping characters, I think i’ve made it to the point where I would follow Karin over a cliff (metaphorically, of course). This book can be read as a standalone, but you’d be missing out on so much if you didn’t go back to the very beginning and start with the Grant County series. Did I just give you a 16-book tbr? Yes. Am I sorry? Not at all. Unfortunately, I am completely caught up with the Will Trent series now, and I only have one more Karin Slaughter book to read before I have to find another author to obsess over for a bit (Harlan Coben, you’re up next!) Thank you William Morrow and Bibliolifestyle for the finished paperback copy!

CURRENTLY READING: I’ve decided to do the simultaneous fiction/nonfiction reading thing again, so i’ve picked up The Captain of All Pleasures (Sutherland Brothers #1) by Kresley Cole alongside The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman.