I’ve really been on a mystery kick lately. After inhaling all the Will Trent books, I’ve moved on to the Rockton books. Both were recommendations from AAR readers. YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!! I’ve also been reading The Widow Clicquot but, honestly, it’s slow going.
How about you? What are you reading?
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
I just finished Andrew Taylor’s The Royal Secret, which is Restoration England historical mystery with a teeny tiny romance. The Ashes of London by him is also entertaining.
I really enjoyed Christina Lauren’s newest, The Soulmate Equation, also.
I’ve read and enjoyed all the books in that series – the characters (especially Cat) are complex, the mysteries are really well done, and Taylor does a really great job with the Restoration London setting, describing it in all its glory and squalour.
Dabney I’ve been meaning to ask how you are liking the Rockton series? I really love it. The first one has the most “romance” for lack of a better word.
I find the modern day “western” setting in the wilds of Canada really fascinating.
I am really enjoying them. I’m 75% of the way through with book two which has a gripping plot. I am wondering if other characters–Anders, Jacob, Isabel–will get love stories of their own.
The other characters are always backup characters so you never get a POV from them but I can confirm that some- I won’t say who or how many-of the people you mention do get relationships of their own. There are lots of twists and turns ahead!
I’m about to start book three. In both books one and two I was pretty sure who the villains were but the process of having that confirmed was big fun! And I love Casey and Dalton!
The books are all really from Casey’s point of view. There was one in the middle (I can’t recall which) that I felt didn’t tie up enough loose ends by the end of the book but some of those were addressed in the next book. That was hard when it’s a year in between books! The world building is wonderful and you really find out some interesting things each book.
Her plots are so inventive. In book three, the council sends them a serial killer. But is he? The plot has so many different tangents it COULD explore–it’s great fun to see where it will go.
For me setting it in the wilds of Canada with a group of people who can’t, or won’t leave was brilliant. It really ratchets up the tension without making anyone seem dumb.
It gets around all those pesky modern day problems of “well why didn’t they use their cell phone or just call 911?”
I finished The last train to key west by Chanel Cleeton. I LOVE her Cuba series. The next one up is The most beautiful girl in Cuba also by CC but I’m waiting for it at the library.
Also on my list is the Will Darling trilogy by kJ Charles.
And the Murderbot series by Martha Wells.
Plenty of reading to look forward to.
I am reading Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. I haven’t seen the film as it’s being streamed in the UK on a service I don’t subscribe to. However, this book has been an eye opener for me as shockingly, I was totally unaware of how some people find no alternative to living in vehicles, houseless and jobless, uninsured, financially ruined in various financial crashes, apparently ineligible for any state/federal benefits. It was interesting to me that the most critical and unsympathetic 1 star reviews on Amazon were from American contributors. In the main they chastised the people who appear in the book, not the quality of writing, showing no sympathy for bad luck, bad government response, financial meltdowns, etc.
I guess this statement from a review submitted from the UK summed up how I feel: “At 66 I’ve retired and living in Scotland and much as I’d like to visit America I’m glad I haven’t had to retire there, this book shows amazing people but I feel they have been let down by their system, as I grow older I’m thankful for our health service and security system with all of their faults … and I’ll never face the challenges of these vandwellers.”
I think the book is a terrific read and has made me really stop and think about how the Joads are alive and well in 21st century America though I do accept that for some nomads, it is a lifestyle choice they willingly make. Perhaps the Joads have always been (and always will be) with us but I had no idea of just how many there are nor how hard it can be to pick yourself up from absolute rock bottom in today’s America particularly when you are of or near retirement age. Glad I decided to read this book; well worth the price and the lessons learnt.
The movie is interesting. It’s a gentler portrayal of that lifestyle. I’ve not read the book but have heard it really downplayed the economic misery that many of the nomads have.
America’s social network is dreadful however it is still true that older Americans are, in general, vastly wealthier than younger Americans.
Hi Dabney: I tend to agree that the older generations probably have more disposable wealth and your link was very interesting to read. Baby Boomers in the UK are blamed a lot for disparities but what younger people tend to overlook is that here in the UK, at least, income tax rates were much higher 40 years ago up to 83% for top level incomes and 33% being the “basic” rate. Then there was the fact that interest rates shot up and at one point in the 1980s we were paying 15% mortgage rates. A lot of wealth in the UK and, I expect, in the USA is tied up in real estate with the manic increase in house prices outstripping salaries. All very difficult but probably also cyclical. Although I won’t be around to read them, studies 50-100 years from now about the effects of the Covid crisis will make interesting reading as we can even now see labour shortages in the UK in certain areas thus a drive up in salaries and wages is bound to come. I think what the book is showing is that when the perfect storm hits for many who have had comfortable lives (but without the necessary 10x income needed for decent retirement), it’s nearly impossible sometimes to ever get back that life and so to maintain any semblance of independence, or lacking family, hard, sad choices have to be made.
One thing that the movie emphasized was that the lack of family was complex but often volitional. People were estranged from their families who wanted to help or they were people who’d never married or had kids. The nomads, in the film, wanted to be nomads. I wondered about the accuracy of that–is that true in the book?
Dabney: Yes and no. It was shown that in some cases the nomads had families also facing financial difficulties and in one instance, the kids and their kids wound up living in an old RV themselves. Probably the film glossed over some issues and for cinematic purposes romanticised things to make the film entertaining rather than a documentary. I’d love to see it one day.
I think the movie portrays the nomads as making an active choice, rather than it was their only option. It is worth seeing – the cinematography is particularly beautiful.
I’m working my way through:
Out of Uniform series by Annabeth Albert (M/M military romances)
Moo U series in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North (M/F New Adult romances centered around hockey players at a Vermont college, all written by different authors)
Am also planning to soon read:
The Perfect Catch by Meghan Quinn (latest in a series of M/F baseball romances)
Fortunate Son by Jay Crownover (first of M/F romances featuring the children of the characters in her Marked Men series)
This past weekend read a debut YA novel called Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June. It’s about a young man living in a small country town in rural Washington state who leads a lonely life as the only out person at his high school. His mother gets a promotion and they move to Seattle where he sets out to check off items on his Gay Agenda, a kind of romantic/sexual to-do list. And, of course, things don’t go well. It was charming and funny.
I’m a big Annabeth Albert fan and I think the Out of Uniform series contains some of her best work. Tight Quarters is possibly my favourite, and I loved At Attention and Squared Away, but they’re all pretty good.
I’ve only read the first 3 so far but liked them all. I started with her Portland Heat series (my favorite is Knit Tight) then the #gaymers series which leads into Out of Uniform. I have also read Featherbed (Vino & Veritas series). I haven’t generally been into military romances but I like hers!
I would love to know which MooU stories you felt were worth it. I enjoy that world but am leery of new authors.
I’ve only read the first four :) But so far, I liked book 1 (Blindsided by Victoria Denault) and book 3 (Holdout by Jaqueline Snowe).
I’m doing a binge read of the Psy-Changeling series (I hadn’t read it before) – I read the first 3 last summer, but now I’ve made it to book 11 of 15 of the original series, and then I will continue with the new series (of which I’ve already read the first 3, but will reread)
Network Effect by Martha Wells. June has been weird and I’ve been in a reading slump but Murderbot always seems to hit the spot.
I just finished Beyond by Mercedes Lackey, the first book in a new trilogy about the founding of Valdemar. Now I have to wait for the next book (which hasn’t been announced yet).
I’m not sure what I’ll get back to next. I was trying to read some Victorian sensation novels, such as Wilkie Collins books and East Lynne by Ellen Wood.
I’m a big WIlkie Collins fan – fortunately, there are many more of his books in print now than when I first started to pick them up in the mid-80s; I had to really hunt for them! I remember reading East Lynne way back after listening to a BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of it… gotta love those Victorian sensation novels!
I just finished KJ Charles’ latest, Subtle Blood, and I loved it so much. It was so worth the wait. What a perfect ending to the Will Darling trilogy! I also read Lucy Parker’s Headliners, which was fun, and Alexis Hall’s Glitterland, which was angsty and beautiful and true in its portrayal of someone living with bipolar disorder. For audio, I’ve been listening to Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary. It could have used some editing (too much science detail for me,) but I adore the alien, Rocky, so much. He speaks in musical chords, and the way they did his voice adds immensely to the experience.
I am going with the classics lately.
Two weeks ago it eas Emma.
Last week North and South by Gaskell (my first read of it, and wonderful!).
This week, Jane Eyre.
So far, I am basking in the brilliance of 18th century women authors.
Next week, Wuthering Heights.
If you haven’t seen the mini series based on Gaskell’s North and South, I highly recommend it!
Oh, I have!
Many many times!
Mr. Thornton is swoon-worthy in both the book and mini series!
Have you read Wuthering Heights before?
Back in the 20th century, as a young high school teen, I gave it a go. And it was a No.
But now, decades and decades older, I’m giving it another chance.
I have it in front if me now … ready to open…
Let us know what you think! I’m still a solid no!
I admit: I am biased by my previous negative impressions of Wuthering Heights.
But I have often had negative impressions of a particular book and have returned to it years later with a positive review.
Let’s see if that’s the case this time…
It’s very important to go into WUTHERING HEIGHTS knowing that it is absolutely not a romance (the movie—not to mention TWILIGHT—has a lot to answer for) but is rather a multi-generational saga about abusive relationships and how in many cases abuse is internalized. It’s well-written but most definitely not a romance.
Sad to say, Wuthering Heights is still a No…
Gave it yesterday and most of today, and … nope. It’s back on the shelf.
Going with a Mary Balogh. Not an official “classic,” but close enough for me
I think you’ve made a wise decision….
I’m spending a lot of time outside entertaining our new puppy (should read as “Keeping the tornado with teeth away from my furniture”) so in the past few days I finished Her Lord and Spymaster on audio, narrated superbly by Kristen Potter. Then I listened to Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian and enjoyed the almost cozy mystery feel of it. Joel Leslie is so good as the narrator. Right now I’m listening to something very lighthearted, A Hitman’s Guide to Staying Alive Despite Past Mistakes by Alice Winters, narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo, who does a great job with the zaniness of the book.
In print I’m reading Jackie Lau’s Her Big City Neighbor which is good, but mostly memorable for her descriptions of Toronto and food. Next up for print is Beautifully Unexpected by Lily Morton.
I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Winters – Michael F. is a terrific narrator, but the one book of hers I listened to (In the Mind, which was narrated by Joel Leslie) was a really weird mix of what could have been a great paranormal mystery and utterly infantile humour – and I use the word “humour” lightly, because it just wasn’t funny. And yest I see review after review talking about how hilarious her writing is…
I listened to the first of the series and I understand what you’re saying. The humor veers into the preteen boy category at times. I’m not 100% comfortable with it at times. But Michael’s narration of Leeland (the really manic hitman) is so good, it’s hard not to laugh. Everything can be turned into a sex joke with Leeland. I do find myself laughing out loud, because it’s just so crazy, and the narration is so incredible and gets all that manic humor just right, and then nailing the serious parts as well. Ferraiuolo’s range is really amazing. I’m about halfway into the second book and overall enjoying it. I haven’t read anything else by her, but if you didn’t like her brand of humor (which I understand) I have a feeling this series isn’t going to be much different. However, I admit that even though it makes me a tad uncomfortable, I find myself laughing a lot which is what I wanted right now!
I really like Kirsten Potter as a narrator for the Joanna Bourne series. She also does Maya Banks’s Highlander series.
I’m currently glued to Tal Bauer’s The Murder Between Us – it’s m/m romantic suspense and he’s an author I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. I might use it for my July TBR read;if it keeps going the way it’s going so far it’s going to be a B+ at least.
After that, I’ve got the new Con Riley for review… unlike June, which was overloaded with new releases, July is quieter for me so I am going to try to catch up with some of the KU titles currently burning a hole in my Kindle!
I am so excited to hear you are reading Tal Bauer! I discovered his books earlier this year and they are excellent. The Murder Between Us was the first book of his that I read and I loved it. Then I read The Night Of, which I maybe loved even a little more. I then went to his backlist and read the Executive Office series. His older books are quite long so I have to set aside a good amount of time to read them and I haven’t gotten to the rest of his backlist yet. However, his newer books, while still long, are a more manageable length. I am stunned that he has released 4 books this year so far – The Murder Between Us, The Night of, The Jock (which is New Adult and I think his only book that isn’t romantic suspense) and The Grave Between Us (sequel to The Murder Between Us). The Jock has a truly swoony first quarter of two young men falling in love in Paris. And The Grave Between Us was heartbreakingly good in giving depth to one of the main characters especially. I gobbled it up as soon as it was released.
He’s been on my to-read list for a while; I definitely plan to pick up The Grave Between Us asap, and I’ve got a few of his other books already, so I just need to find time for a good glom!
I’ve fallen down an unanticipated rabbit hole (as one does) in my reading: it all started when a book titled THE OTHER SIDE OF UNHAPPY by Kailee Reese Samuels (a new-to-me author) popped up on my KU recommendations and seemed like it might be interesting: a dark erotic m/m romance between two organized crime figures (one in the mafia, the other from a cartel) with an antagonists-to-lovers trope. So I started reading it and liked it very much—although it’s very dark and full of triggers, Samuels’s language is often dreamy and poetic—but the story is less about two men finding love together than it is the about two men (whose organized-crime cultures are homophobic to say the least) trying to create the right path for being together, out and proud. However (here’s where the rabbit hole shows up), although THE OTHER SIDE OF UNHAPPY is marketed as a stand-alone, when I went to look at Samuels’s backlist, I realized she has created an entire universe focusing in particular on Salvatore, the mafia character from this book, and his various bi/pan/poly/open/fluid relationships in the past. So now I have to read the books that led up to THE OTHER SIDE OF UNHAPPY—thank God most of them are on KU or I’d definitely be blasting my book budget for July!
June has been a strange reading month for me, with 5 of my favourite authors releasing new books in the second half of the month – and 4 of them coming out this week!
I decided to read something completely different in the gaps between them and came across I Carried A Watermelon by Katy Brand. She is a British comedian who I know absolutely nothing about but the blurb of the book looked fun, and it is. It’s part memoir, part homage to Dirty Dancing. Basically, she became obsessed with the movie after she saw it for the first time, aged 11, and has used it as a reference point throughout the events of her life. It’s a fun, thoughtful book and I’m enjoying reading it.
We were just talking last night about how Dirty Dancing so holds up. I prefer A Walk on the Moon which deals with a very similar time period and place but DD is really a worthwhile classic.
Katy Brand says that Dirty Dancing is one of the few movies that deals well with ‘coming of age’ from a girl’s perspective. I don’t think I’ve seen enough movies to judge – I don’t think I’ve even heard of A Walk on the Moon!
It is SO good.
I decided to try “Mexican Gothic” I did not decide for the horror elements there are books so I may like them and others do not depend on the author’s writing, but it has good reviews a low level of sensuality in romance without being exactly a book “light and sweet “so I wanted to try it.
My preferred levels of sensuality are the lowest as the maximum I read “subtle” (and anyway there are people who have found subtle things that I have not) so I might like this book. I am only 24 years old so I did not live in the time when goths were popular so my experience with the genre beyond “Jane Eyre” is scarce.
Then it is likely that he will read something by Kasie West, his books YA are sweet and remind me a lot of my own adolescence and my groups of friends … I have yet to read Georgette Heyer as well and the new books of Julie Klassen for some his romance is usually a bit boring but I like it a lot.
It’s on sale now!
I liked Mexican Gothic a lot, even though I did not like the audio narrator. I recommend reading text over listening for this one.
I just finished Heidi Cullinan’s Dance With Me. And there’s another dance romance I’d like to try – Pas de Deux, by Lynn Turner, which was a DIK.
I enjoyed Dance with Me – the audio is terrific as well.
I listened to Dance With Me on audio, at Caz’s suggestion, and also thought it was terrific. I particularly like the way the author has structured it, with lots of dance in it. Fabulous cover too!
Pas de Deux is on my TBR as someone recommended it to me a while back (DIscoDollyDeb?)
I love romances that have dance or dancers in them.
That might have been my recommendation because I really enjoyed PAS DE DEUX. I liked the relationship between the dancer and her choreographer/lover and I liked his loud, boisterous family too. Most of all, I think PAS DE DEUX shows how much hard work, effort, and commitment go into being a dancer at the peak of perfection.