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books and reading

Death at the Workhouse

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I did it! I finished this series before my Kindle Unlimited subscription ran out. I’ve subscribed to the author’s emails, so hopefully, I get a notice when book nine comes out because I definitely need to know what happens to Penny after this crazy cliff-hanger.

Book eight finds Penny and her sister, Eliza, spending the night in what we would consider a homeless shelter. She’s writing an article about the conditions of this shelter, but she realizes something fishy is going on. People are dying and their bodies are disappearing. She and James, of Scotland Yard, must figure out of these people are dying naturally or not, and whether their families are aware of the fact that the bodies are missing, since the casket is heavy, but only filled with sand. Of course, Penny and James’s relationship is part of the series-long plot point, as is the whereabouts of Penny and Eliza’s father, and these are still discussed in the book.

I really respect the author for doing the amount of research she does. In the back of this book, she discusses the research and lists a lot of books she’s read to prepare for writing this series. Her preparation shows me how seriously she takes her craft, and I appreciate that. So, if you’re looking for a fun light-hearted, but really well-written and well-researched set of books, I highly recommend the Penny Green series by Emily Organ.

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An Unwelcome Guest

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I’m in the home stretch! Book seven down, one to go! Until book nine comes out, that is. And as fun as these books are, I will be happy to have a break from Victorian England for a bit. It’s a bit stuffy. I am reading other books, so I’m not entirely immersed in these, but I do enjoy a variety in the books I read.

This book finds Penny, once again, investigating a murder. This time, she’s a witness. She has been invited to a hotel to stay as a guest with a few other people to report about the hotel’s grand opening. That night, a man and his guest are murdered. Penny is initially a suspect, but we know she didn’t do it. Not our hero! She and James have to team up to find out just who that dead guest is, and they need to find out the motivation behind these murders.

Like always, the murder needs to be solved, but there are also the series plots about Penny and James’s relationship, Penny’s sister Eliza’s family situation, and the long-lost father that we are still wondering about. I’ve already started the eighth book and look forward to wrapping up this series.

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books and reading

The Bermondsey Poisoner

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I’ve read six books in this series, now. Some have been really good, some have been just okay. Part of my opinion is based on some of the recurring plot points and how interested I am in them. The overall murder mystery of each book is always interesting, but some of the ongoing plot points aren’t as good as others. However, this one hit the mark on all points.

Right now, there are eight books in the series, with the ninth on the way at some point in the near future. My Kindle Unlimited runs out on March 14, so I am trying to finish these last two before then. Fingers crossed I can do it! This one finds Penny investigating a serial murder, a Black Widow! A woman has killed a number of previous husbands, but there are other people who seem to be suspects, as well. Penny, of course, teams up with James from Scotland Yard to try and solve these murders.

I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, and I really don’t know whether there are anachronisms or not. And the characters in the books don’t evolve much, but I’m not looking at these as “fine literature.” I like Penny. She is interesting and dynamic and wants to make a difference in the world. She’s the reason I keep reading. I was glad to find that one of the books in this series fit into the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge with a book title of at least 20 letters.

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books and reading

Curse of the Poppy

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Fun fact: I’m allergic to heroin. No, I don’t know this by experience. Sort of. I’m allergic to codeine, which is derived from the poppy, as is heroin. Thankfully, I never had a desire to try heroin, so I’m still alive. So no purple drank for me. Also, no Jagermeister, which contains various herbs and spices, but poppy seeds are one of them. I’m okay with poppy muffins and bagels, but that’s where I draw the poppy line. Thankfully, there are no more opium dens, so I don’t have to worry about stumbling in to one of those anytime soon. Our heroine, Penny Green, isnt’ a fan of opium either. Get it? Heroin.. heroine? *wink wink*

Book five of the series (reviews for previous books Limelight, The Maid’s Secret, and The Inventor) finds Penny trying to solve yet another crime with her Scotland Yard crush, James. We find James still engaged to Charlotte, Mr. Edwards still desperately in love with Penny, Penny in love with James, and Penny’s sister trying to push Penny to see how wonderful Mr. Edwards is. It’s just one big circle of unrequited love. The murders in this book revolve around the opium trade, and more characters get involved than you would expect.

These books are really just so much fun. Penny is a fantastic main character, but the secondary characters are just as intriguing. With three books left (apparently the ninth will be out at some point), I can’t wait to see how Penny and James continue to work together, even with his impending marriage, whether or not Penny and her sister ever find out what happened to their long-lost dad, and whether Mr. Edwards ever becomes the man that Penny could love. Please check these out, especially if you have Kindle Unlimited because they are free to borrow there.

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The Inventor

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I’m trying to burn through these Emily Organ books before my Kindle Unlimited subscription expires in March. I own 1-4, 6, and 7, but have borrowed 5 and 8, so I’m trying to read them quickly before I have to send 8 back. So, expect a lot of reviews in the next few weeks.

I will say this one has been my least favorite, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. The plot just didn’t interest me as much as the others have. In the beginning, an inventor kills himself after just speaking with Penny. Because he seemed so happy and excited about his projects, she is sure he was murdered. There is another murder from earlier in her day that she believes his death is connected to. Of course, she has her two male acquaintances in on the investigation with her. Mr. Edwards at the library helps her research the backgrounds and inventions in question. Mr. Blakely of Scotland Yard helps her uncover the author of some mysterious letters Penny’s friends and relatives have been receiving.

The death of the inventor just didn’t grab my attention this time around. I still love Penny’s character and her very awkward conversations with both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Blakely. I fully intend to read the rest of the series and look forward to seeing how the overall series plots are resolved.

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The Maid’s Secret

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I’m so glad I discovered Emily Organ and the Penny Green series. These books are just much fun to read. I started with Limelight and recently finished The Rookery. The stories follow a female news reporter in the late 1800s in London. Penny isn’t well-received by most because she is unmarried, has no desire to be married, and has a job. Penny is a great character though. She makes no apologies for her position and is very good at her job.

Penny has some overarching plots that have, so far, extended through the first three books. Namely, her quest to find her father’s whereabouts. He’s an explorer, but no one has seen him in several years. Penny and her sister, Eliza, fear him dead. Penny also has a working relationship with a member of the Scotland Yard, James Blakely. It’s obvious they have feelings for each other, but he’s engaged and she has no desire to be married. But their relationship is fun to watch.

This story finds Penny undercover as a maid for the newspaper (and James is aware of the situation) trying to find out the secrets of a family that has a reputation for being cruel to its factory workers. While there, one of the members of the family meets an untimely end and it’s up to Penny and James to figure out if that person was murdered, and if so, by whom.

I just fly through these books. As much as I enjoy modern-day mysteries with DNA and fingerprint analysis, a good old-fashioned whodunit and also a lot of fun. I have all intentions of finishing these books and highly recommend them. They are on Kindle Unlimited, for those who have it. Absolutely delightful books.

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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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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.