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books and reading

The Cruelest Month

Armand Gamache returns! I first met him in Still Life, then in A Fatal Grace, and now he has returned to Three Pines to solve yet another murder. Somehow for being idyllic, Three Pines sure does have bad luck, especially for where it all began- the Hadley House.

This time, the house is the scene of a seance, and someone dies. At first glance, it appears as if she was scared to death, but during a toxicology report, a vast amount of ephedra was found in her, and combined with a heart condition, proved fatal. Enter Gamache and his team to try to solve the murder.

What I really like about these books is that there is always something else going on. In these first three books, you realize that Gamache isn’t perceived by all as the greatest guy, but you are uncertain why. Each book reveals a bit more of his backstory, which creates depth to the character and the story. There is some great dramatic irony in these books, but much is also hidden from the reader, keeping your brain working not just to solve the murder, but also to figure out what is happening behind the scenes of the police department Gamache works for. It’s also nice to see some characters that I’ve grown to enjoy returning each book. Despite the murders, Three Pines is charming and a place I would love to visit.

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books and reading

2019 Wrap-Up

My goal is always to read more pages than the year before, rather than more books. I  almost made it this year, by Goodreads standards. In 2018, I read 110 books for 36914 pages, and in 2019 I read 132 books for 36038 pages. A good chunk of the books I read were ones I edited, which are kids’ books and pretty short. If I count all the books I edited that aren’t on Goodreads, I definitely surpassed the page number goal.

Here are some reviews for the highlights of my reading year.

Best book I read this year: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. It’s dystopian, but in a way I had never read before. And it gutted me. I read it in January, and it’s stayed with me all year. I think about it a lot.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. Wow. As a parent, this one is horrifying. About a little girl who is a sociopath and has a desire to harm her mother. But it’s so good.

I really enjoyed The Fourth Monkey series. It’s a “police catching a serial killer” series, and the dialogue is cheesy, but it kept me guessing.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. An excellent ghost story.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Same author as The Goldfinch. I just love everything she writes.

The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder is another great police detective series, but it’s very graphic. Birdman is the first.

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay. Another one that left me guessing. I’ve read a few of Tremblay’s books, and he’s really good.

The Girls by Emma Cline. This one was wacky. It’s a fictional story of the Charles Manson group and subsequent murders.

The Run of His Life: The People vs OJ Simpson. I couldn’t believe how much I learned from this book. I know a lot about the case already, but this had info I had never heard.

The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I really don’t care for fantasy, but these are excellent young adult books.

The Dublin Murder Squad books by Tana French. I read two of them this year. Each one is better than the last. In the Woods is the first, the Likeness is the second, Faithful Place is the third.

Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. I read a lot of true crime, but this one stands out. The author is simultaneously doing research into a crime, yet learning things about herself. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Again, another I was expecting not to think was so great, but I was blown away. Crichton really was ahead of his time in describing DNA, technology, etc.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen. Unlike Columbine by the same author (EXCELLENT BOOK) this one doesn’t focus on the shooter or the day, but rather the students who started a movement for gun control. Gives me hope for the future.

I read some great own voices books this year: A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob, and Shanghai Girls by Lisa See were both great.

Best thriller I read was The Silent Patient. It wasn’t the greatest thriller ever, but it didn’t fall into the stupid thriller tropes like A Woman in the Window. Ugh that one was awful.

I started a lot of great series this year: the Harry Hole detective series, the Penny Green series about a Victorian reporter who also solves crimes, the Armand Gamache Canadian detective series, which is a good cozy mystery series.

 

 

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books and reading

Series I’m Working On

I  have a terrible habit of starting a book series and then never going back to it. Because I do the book challenge each year, I will start a series by reading the first book because it fits into a prompt, but then I get distracted and don’t continue the series. Every few years, I make a point to wrap up any series that I’ve started, whether through the book challenge or not.

This year I’m finally finishing The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder review here) and The Dublin Murder Squad (In the Woods review here and The Likeness review here).  I have really enjoyed both of them, up to the point I’m at. Last year, I started a few more series, but I am making an effort to wrap up everything. Here is what I’m working on:

  • The Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson. I have read the first three and am currently working on the fourth.
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Armand Gamache books by Louise Penny. I have read the first two. These are so much fun to read, given that they involve murder. The people of Three Pines are charming, and Gamache is a great investigator.
  • The Harry Hole books by Jo Nesbo. I read The Bat this year.
  • The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder. I’ve read the first two (Birdman review) and have really enjoyed them, but they are definitely some of the more graphic police detective books I’ve read.
  • The Penny Green books by Emily Organ. (Limelight review). I discovered her by accident, honestly. I needed a book with a fruit or vegetable in the title and searched my Kindle for various fruits and stumbled upon lime. I have gotten most of her books for free and have read the first two. They are a lot of fun. Penny is a reporter in 1800s England works closely with the police to solve murders. They are really well-written and clever.
  • The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. (Red Queen review). I’m really iffy about this one. There is a giant plot hole in Red Queen and it still irritates me. But I’ve been told that the rest of the books are better, so I’m giving them another chance.
  • The Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. I listened to A Study in Charlotte a couple summers ago and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a modern Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson series (involving their descendants) and is more complex than I was expecting.
  • The Broken Earth series by NK Jemisin. The Fifth Season review. I really liked this one even though fantasy isn’t my favorite genre.
  • The Inheritance series also by NK Jemisin. I didn’t like this one as much, but I’m going to stick with it.

Between finishing all these series and the PopSugar reading challenge, I’m going to be very busy this year trying to complete them all, but I look forward to it.