Random (but not really)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Books of November 2021

Murder Most ActualI read some good books this month! And even some new releases!

Anna Lee Huber‘s newest Verity Kent book, was Murder Most Fair was (in my opinion) actually better than the previous several books in that series.

I’ve always liked her Lady Darby series better, but this book dealt with some of the nits I picked with previous books.

Alexis Hall has written a mystery, Murder Most Actual which is (among other things) a tribute to Clue. Although the couple in the midst of the murder mystery are married, they are at a point where they are having trouble with their marriage, and trying to decide if they should work things out or not.

Plus, it’s Alexis Hall, so what’s not to love?

I also came across the Bradfield Trilogy by A.L. Lester, which I enjoyed, even if I had some quibbles with the first book. It’s an historical paranormal mystery set just after WWI, and reading it I learned about he Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont and the women doctors who served in WWI.

I also had some comfort rereads but I feel like I read more new and new-to-me books than I have in ages.


Dead Dead GirlsMystery

Murder Most Fair (2021) Anna Lee Huber (Verity Kent) 8.5/10
Murder Most Actual (2021) Alexis Hall 8/10
Pickled Petunia (2021) Dahlia Donovan (Motts Cold Case Mystery) 7.5/10
Dead Dead Girls (2021) Nekesa Afia (Harlem Renaissance Mystery) 7/10
The Murder Next Door (2021) Sarah Bell 5/10



Galaxies and Oceans (2018) N.R. Walker 9/10
Rend (2018) Roan Parrish (Riven) 9/10
Sweetest in the Gale (2020) Olivia Dade (There’s Something About Marysburg) 8/10
Learned Behaviors (2020) Jayce Ellis (Higher Education) 7/10
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem (2020) Manda Collins (A Lady’s Guide) 6/10

Sweetest in the GaleFantasy

Shadow Police by Paul Cornell : London Falling (2012) 8.5/10; The Severed Streets (2014) 9/10; Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? (2016) 8.5/10
Discworld Terry Pratchett: Thud! (2005) 8.5/10 ; Making Money (2007) 8/10
Bradfield Trilogy by A.L. Lester : The Fog of War (2021) 7.5/10; The Quid Pro Quo (2021) 8/10
Faces (2021) A.M. Rose 7.5/10
The Silver Mark (2019) Sarah Painter (Crow Investigations) 6/10

Written by Michelle at 8:08 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Books of October 2021

Not only did I read new-to-me books this, month, I even read some new releases!

The Charm OffensiveWhat was particularly good this month? Let me tell you!

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun! THIS WAS DELIGHTFUL! First, I think it’s a decent comp for Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material (which I ADORE — and every time I mention it I want to reread it). Second, one of the characters is on the ace spectrum! Thirdly, despite the fact it is about being on a reality dating show, it isn’t really about being on a reality dating show. I mean, it is, but, still. Fourthly, this is AMAZING mental health rep. Both Dev and Charlie have issues that they have to come to term with, and… GAH! It’s just so lovely!

C.S. Poe has a new series that starts with Madison Square Murders and one of the main characters works on cold cases and (like most of her characters) had an issue that he has to deal with. In this case, a TBI caused him to have perfect recall of events. Which is not as good as it sounds, since he also has perfect recall of the emotions associated with those events.

I discovered a new historical mystery series. Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood. I am looking forward to the next book.

And then, Network Effect by Martha Wells. Because: MURDERBOT.


Fortune Favors the DeadPaladin’s Hope (2021) T. Kingfisher (The Saint of Steel) 8.5/10
Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Thief of Time (2001) 7.5/10, Going Postal (2004) 8.5/10

Supernatural Fantasy

Trailer Park Trickster (2021) David R. Slayton (Adam Binder)
Bodyguard (2021) Dassy Bernhard (The Bodyguards) 6.5/10
“Asil and the Not-date” (2020) Patricia Briggs 4/10


The Charm Offensive (2021) Alison Cochrun 9/10
Riven (2018) Roan Parrish (Riven) 8.5/10
After the Scrum (2016) Dahlia Donovan 8/10
The Sin Bin by Dahlia Donovan
The Wanderer (2017) 8.5/10, The Caretaker (2017) 8/10, The Botanist (2017) 8/10, The Royal Marine (2017) 7/10, The Unexpected Santa (2017) 7/10, The Lion Tamer (2018) 8.5/10
Not So Cookie Cutter (2019) Aidan Wayne 7.5/10
Paladin's HopeLet Me Show You (2019) Becca Seymour (True-Blue) 7/10
Open Hearts (2020) K. Evan Coles (Stealing Hearts) 6.5/10
The Love Study (2020) Kris Ripper 6.5/10

Historical Romance

A Gathering Storm (2017) Joanna Chambers (Porthkennack) 7/10


Madison Square Murders (2021) C.S. Poe (Memento Mori) 8.5/10
Death of a Hollow Man (1989) Caroline Graham (Chief Inspector Barnaby) 7/10
Murder in the Cookbook Nook (2021) Ellery Adams (Book Retreat Mysteries) 6/10

Historical Romance

Fortune Favors the Dead (2020) Stephen Spotswood (Pentecost and Parker) 7.5/10

Science Fiction

Network Effect: A Murderbot NovelNetwork Effect (2000) Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries) 9/10

Audio Books

Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam: Raven Cursed (2012) 8/10, Death’s Rival (2012) 7/10
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, Audio Book (2013) Marie Brennan narrated by Kate Reading 8/10

Written by Michelle at 4:00 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Happy Ace Awareness Week!

Upside DownIt’s Ace Awareness Week, so what better way to celebrate than with a list of books with Ace characters? (Most are romances, and I have noted whether the books have sexual content and/or boinking.)


Ace-Ace Romances

Upside Down by N.R. Walker: MM contemporary 8.5/10.

Jordan has a crush on a guy who rides the same bus he does, and that guy turns out to be the leader of the local ace support group Jordan’s best friend talks him into joining. This is a comfort read and I giggle all the way through it.

Three Stupid Weddings by Ann Gallagher: MM contemporary, novella 7.5/10.

Friends to partners. When Vic asks Dom to be his date for three different family weddings he has to attend Dom realizes he can’t hide that he loves Vic.

The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter by K.J. Charles: trans-FM, historical, novella 7.5/10.

This is part of her Lily White Boys series, and is about two characters who appear in the series.

All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher: MM contemporary 7/10.

Blank SpacesBrennan doesn’t understand why all of his girlfriends cheat on him and then dump him, so he goes to a sex shop looking for answers. (I swear this is ace.)

His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto: MM contemporary, novella 9/10.

The terms are not used by Martin is pretty clearly a sex-repulsed ace. Arthur is ridiculously adorable and reads as demi. Martin remains an enigma through the story.


Ace-Allo Romances

Play It Again by Aidan Wayne: MM contemporary 9/10.

Sam is most likely ace. Dovid is allo. Dovid’s twin sister Rachel is a sex-repulsed ace. Long distance relationship through social media. Ridiculously sweet.

Family Matters (3rd story) by Angel Martinez: MM supernatural fantasy, boinking 9/10.

Charon states he is ace. The ancient gods are hanging out on earth, running detective agencies and being in bands and having wineries (and running a funeral parlor).

Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox: MM contemporary, mystery, sexual content 8.5/10.

Vaughn discovers he is ace, which is why all his relationships fail (also he totally doesn’t get sexual cues). Jonah is into hookups and nothing else. They fight crime! (Well, ok, they solve a crime.)

Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists by Angel Martinez: MM supernatural fantasy, sexual content 8.5/10.

Taro is ace and tired of dating allos. Jack (adorakable) comes into Taro’s life when they try to figure out if Taro is haunted–and if so, by what.

Thaw by Elyse Springer: FF contemporary, FTB 8.5/10.

Abigail is a sex positive and accepting ace but has not dated before. Gabriella is a famous model known for being an ice queen.

How to Be a Normal Person by TJ Klune: MM contemporary 8/10.

Casey is ace. Gus is… Gus. There is a LOT of pot smoking in this story, but it’s also awfully sweet.


Demi / Gray Ace Romances

That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert: MF contemporary, boinking 8/10.

ThawZach has discovered he is demi. Rae needs a fake boyfriend for a convention. It’s Talia Hibbert. Of course it’s good!

For Better or Worse by R. Cooper: MM contemporary, novella, boinking 7.5/10.

Javier is gray ace and absolutely cannot read sexual signals. He is attracted to his friend and neighbor Jimmy, who he thinks might be straight but isn’t sure.

A Gentleman’s Position by K.J. Charles: MM historical, boinking 7/10.

According to KJ Charles, Richard is demi. (This is my least favorite story of this series.)

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun: MM contemporary, FTB 9/10.

Charlie needs to rehabilitate his image after being (essentially) fired from the company he helped found. So he ends up on a reality dating show. What could go wrong? (Everything. Everything could go wrong.)


Characters that Read as Demi / Gray Ace

This is subjective on my part, so if I’m wrong, I apologize.

Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper: MM contemporary, novella FBT 9/10.

The Charm OffensiveJericho reads as demi; also his niece asks him if he’s ace but he doesn’t know what ace is. Jericho also cannot read sexual signals at all, which is why I think he’s gray/demi. He’s in love with the local baker, but since he spent his entire young adulthood raising his siblings and helping to raise his niece, he thinks it’s too late to start dating.

Making Love by Aidan Wayne: FF supernatural fantasy, novella FTB 7.5/10.

Carla reads as demi or gray, doesn’t understand attraction and tries to find a love match for a succubus.

Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks) MM historical, boinking 8/10.

Martin reads very much as gray ace. I have some reservations about this being an HEA or HFN, simply because Martin has consumption, and that is cause for a very short life span. Which is not very happy.

Grumpy Bear by Slade James (Bear Camp) MM contemporary, boinking 8/10.

Coleman runs a gay clothing optional camp and doesn’t have time for a relationship. Luke states “I didn’t really do hookups. I required an emotional connection.”

Play It AgainVincent’s Thanksgiving Date by R. Cooper MM contemporary, novella 8/10.

Vincent reads as demi.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn MF contemporary, 6/10.

“Sleeping with someone feels like a big deal to me,” he says, settling back into the couch, as though he’s grown more comfortable with the subject matter than he was fifteen minutes ago. “I don’t think I could do it casually.”

Model Citizen by Lissa Kasey (Haven Investigations) MM contemporary, mystery, boinking 8/10.

“I needed a deeper connection to let anyone that close. Trust of some kind had to be established before I got into bed with anyone.”


Characters that Read As Ace

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: Fantasy 9/10.

This is the sequel to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Felicity has zero interest in society or marriage or love.

Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan: Fantasy 9/10.

Poisoned PrimroseAudrey once thought she might have had a crush on a guy (it went badly) now she is perfectly content focusing on her research and her friendships.


Ace Rep

Scenes from Quarantine by K. D. Edwards Supernatural Fantasy. Secondary ace character.

All the World’s an Undead Stage by Angel Martinez MM Supernatural Fantasy (boinking book). Secondary ace character.

Motts Cold Case Mystery series by Dahlia Donovan: Poisoned Primrose, Pierced Peony. Motts, the main character, is Ace.

Secret, Book, & Scone Society Mystery series by Ellery Adams: The Book of Candlelight introduces an ace character who seems to be staying around.

All Systems Red (Murderbot) by Martha Wells. Murderbot is definitely ace and aro.

Written by Michelle at 9:06 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Books of September 2021

The Lights on Knockbridge LaneAs noted by my earlier posts, I’ve been having a difficult time recently. Which means I’ve been reading a lot.

Shockingly, it wasn’t all rereads, but also new-to-me books as well as new releases. (I was shocked to discover that myself.)

The third book in Roan Parrish‘s Garnet Run series came out. This is the book that got all the publicity for being the first MM romance published under the Harlequin imprint (the earlier books in the series were under the Carina Adores imprint). It was, perhaps, a little less angsty than the earlier books in the series, and weirdly, I much preferred the Carina covers to this one. It’s very very busy.

Another new release was Jennifer Ashley latest entry into her Below Stairs Mystery series. There is a (very) slowly developing mystery with the main character here–and some secondary romances, but the main focus is on the mystery.

The other new release was the latest Ellery Adams‘ Secret, Book, & Scone Society mystery. This series has tons of representation and even introduced an ace character in the previous book, who has remained around.

In the car we’ve been listening to Murderbot. Although the voice doesn’t seem quite right to me, we’re still enjoying it very much.

Death at the Crystal PalaceAnd I did have one book that I finished only because it made me so angry it ended up being a rage read. But for the most part I reread some very good books, as well as some comforting books (I highly recommend Aidan Wayne’s Loud and Clear, which is fade to black and features two characters with seemingly incompatible disabilities. (The cover totally doesn’t reflect the story.)


Hither, Page (2019) Cat Sebastian (Page & Sommers) 9/10
Death at the Crystal Palace (2021) Jennifer Ashley (A Below Stairs Mystery Book) 8/10
The Bellingham Mystery Series Volume 1 (2015) 8/10; The Bellingham Mystery Series Volume 2 (2015) Nicole Kimberling 8.5/10
Ink and Shadows (2021) Ellery Adams (Secret, Book, & Scone Society) 7.5/10
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (2015/2016) Mario Giordano translated by John Brownjohn (Auntie Poldi) 7.5/10
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks (2008) Josh Lanyon 7.5/10
Homicide in Hardcover (2009) Kate Carlisle (Bibliophile Mystery)

Romance, Historical

The Turner Series, Cat Sebastian
The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017) 8/10; The Ruin of a Rake (2017) 8/10
The Remaking of Corbin WaleLilywhite Boys, KJ Charles
The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter (2019) 7.5/10; Any Old Diamonds (2019) 8.5/10; Gilded Cage (2019) 7.5/10
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (2020) Olivia Waite (Feminine Pursuits)
Mr. Winterbourne’s Christmas (2018) Joanna Chambers (Winterbourne) 7.5/10


Loud and Clear (2016) Aidan Wayne 9/10
Garnet Run, Roan Parrish
Better Than People (2020) 8.5/10; Best Laid Plans (2021) 8/10; The Lights on Knockbridge Lane (2021) 8/10
The Remaking of Corbin Wale (2017) Roan Parrish 8.5/10
Team Phison Forever (2019) Chace Verity (Team Phison) 7.5/10
All the Wrong Places (2016) Ann Gallagher (Bluewater Bay) 7/10
American Dreamer (2019) Adriana Herrera (Dreamers) 7/10


Discworld, Terry Pratchett
Carpe Jugulum (1998) 7/10; The Fifth Elephant (1999) 8.5/10; The Truth (2000) 8.5/10

Making LoveSupernatural Fantasy

Making Love (2017) Aidan Wayne 8/10
Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage (2016) CS Poe 9.5/10
Not Even a Mouse (2015) Dahlia Donovan 7/10
Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector (2018) Nicole Kimberling 9.5/10

Audio Books

Murderbot, Martha Wells narrated by Kevin R. Free
All Systems Red, Audio Edition (2017) 8.5/10; Artificial Condition, Audio Edition (2018) 8.5/10; Rogue Protocol, Audio Edition (2018) 8.5/10

Written by Michelle at 6:08 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Friday, September 10, 2021

Book Round-Up, Spring & Summer 2021

Out of House and HomeFor somewhat obvious reasons I haven’t done a monthly round-up since March.

But as I’ve actually read some new-to-me books in recent months, I figured I might try to put together a round-up post.

And I’ve read some good stuff–even a number of new releases (though I also have some I haven’t been able to read yet, like the latest C.S. Harris.)

The romance I want to make note of is Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall. He’s a phenomenal writer, and this is the first MF story I’ve read by him. It’s lovely and does lots of unexpected things.

In mysteries I discovered Dahlia Donovan‘s Motts Cold Case series which are fun mysteries AND the main character is ace! I’m still enjoying Dianne Freeman‘s Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, which is a lovely historical cozy. And I want to note that book three of Ellery Adams‘ Secret, Book, & Scone Society introduce an ace character! Plus I started a new series, with Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala which was good, and I loved all the representation in the story.

In fantasy, I am still enjoying Drew Hayes‘ Fred the Vampire Accountant series, and Out of House and Home was a nice entry. And I discovered T. Kingfisher this year, and all of her books have been delightful. (Although I think A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking is still my favorite of her books so far.)

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
And you might want to check out some of the books I didn’t love, because my reading is off, so it might just have been a timing thing rather than a problem with any particular book.


Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (2021) Alexis Hall (Winner Bakes All) 8/10
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb (2021) Cat Sebastian 8/10
The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish (2021) Joanna Chambers (Winterbourne) 7.5/10
The Day Pass (2021) Slade James (Bear Camp) 7.5/10
Red Dirt Heart (2014) N.R. Walker (Red Dirt Heart) 7.5/10
A Little Light Mischief (2019) Cat Sebastian (The Turner Series) 7/10
Daydream, Colorado: Blindspot (2021) A.M. Rose 7/10; Mischief (2021) A.M. Rose 7/10
Baldwin Village : One Bed for Christmas (2018) Jackie Lau 6/10; The Ultimate Pi Day Party (2019) Jackie Lau 6/10
A Lady’s Formula for Love (2021) Elizabeth Everett (The Secret Scientists of London) 4.5/10


Arsenic and AdoboHaven Investigations: Model Citizen (2015) Lissa Kasey 8.5/10; Model Bodyguard (2016) Lissa Kasey 8.5/10;  Model Investigator (2017) Lissa Kasey 9/10; Model Exposure (2017) Lissa Kasey  9/10
Motts Cold Case Mystery: Pierced Peony (2021) Dahlia Donovan 8/10; Poisoned Primrose (2020) Dahlia Donovan 8/10
A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021) Dianne Freeman (A Countess of Harleigh Mystery) 8/10
Arsenic and Adobo (2021) Mia P. Manansala (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen) 8/10
Transient Desires (2021) Donna Leon (Commissario Brunetti) 8/10
The Book of Candlelight (2000) Ellery Adams (Secret, Book, & Scone Society) 7.5/10
An Unexpected Peril (2021) Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell) 7.5/10
Scandal at the Salty Dog (2021) Josh Lanyon (Secrets and Scrabble) 7/10
Ghost Light Killer (2021) Dahlia Donovan (London Podcast Mystery) 7/10
The Cook of the Halcyon (2019/2021) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Inspector Montalbano) 6/10

Paladin’s Strength (2021) T. Kingfisher (The Saint of Steel) 8.5/10
Minor Mage (2019) T. Kingfisher 8/10
Out of House and Home (2021) Drew Hayes (Fred the Vampire Accountant) 8/10
Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way (2021) Ella Stainton (Kilty Pleasures) 8/10


Written by Michelle at 3:37 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Friday, September 3, 2021

Not OK

I am not OK.

I’m not sure I even remember what OK felt like, it’s been so long.

Intellectually, I know the things I need to be doing.

Intellectually, I know grief is a process and it takes time and there is no wrong way to grieve.

Intellectually, I know I have difficulty dealing with grief.

But in reality? My brain still believes that I should be better by now. That I don’t have a right to feel this way because so many other people have it so much worse. That it’s wrong for me to still be grieving because I don’t deserve to. That other’s feelings and losses are more important than mine. That I’m weak for not being able to just get over this.

I hate this.

And I’m so tired.

I’ve tried to incorporate things that I know help me back into my life: we try to go hiking at least once a week—out in the wilderness where there are no other people. I try to get some exercise, even if it’s only walking on the treadmill while I’m on the computer. I try to remember to eat. I try to remember to drink enough water (or at least tea). And I read.

That helps to get me out of my head, to feel other things.

But it’s so hard to do just that bare minimum, everything else is too much. And it shouldn’t be. I mean, how hard is it to put away the groceries? How hard is it to put things away? Yet I don’t—I can’t—and then I feel guilty for that too,

I’m not cooking.

I’m not cleaning the house.

I haven’t baked since April.

I was already struggling with a lot of things before my dad died—the pandemic and politics obviously, but I’d also been trying to come to terms with things I’ve been ignoring for decades: who I am; how can I accept the parts of me that don’t fit. How can I be me, and not just the expectations of others?

I already didn’t much enjoy being me, living in this body.

I just want things to be better.

I want to listen to the news and not hear horror and misery. I want terrible things to stop happening to my friends. I want the world to be loving and accepting.

I don’t actually have a coda for this. I just needed to get it out. And to make some small attempt at letting people know: I’m not ok.

Written by Michelle at 12:18 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Goodbye Dad

Michael Joseph Klishis, 78, of Morgantown, died Thursday, April 22, at his home.

Michael was born in Baltimore MD on July 26, 1942. He was the son of the late Albert and Lillian (Laukaitis) Klishis.

He graduated from Catonsville Community College, then Frostburg State College, where he met Lesley. He then went into the Air Force, where he served primarily in Fayetteville, NC. After his honorable discharge, they moved to Morgantown, where he received his Master’s and eventually PhD in psychology from WVU.

Never knowing quite what he wanted to be when he grew up, he had a passion for teaching, and worked at WVU first at the Mining Extension Service, and then as a professor for the Department of Safety Studies, until his retirement from the University in 2015.

After retirement, he and Lesley traveled and volunteered and enjoyed each other’s company.

He loved jazz and science fiction, the Baltimore Orioles and WVU sports, aquariums with fish and ponds with ducks. But above all he loved—and was loved by—his family.

He was never on time, and he never did clean off his desk.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, Lesley (Cave), his daughter Michelle (Michael Hyde), his son Brian (Stacie Klishis), one grandchild, Julliene, in whom he delighted; his sister Christine Horne (Gary), and his nieces and nephews and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the doctors, nurses and staff at WVU Family Medicine and The Cancer Center for their care and compassion throughout Michael’s illnesses.

A memorial service will be held at some point in the future when we can safely gather.

In lieu of flowers the family asks for donations to Doctors Without Borders or UNICEF, or to the WVU Foundation to support the Michael and Lesley Klishis Graduate Support Fund. And remember to hug your loved ones.

Written by Michelle at 8:47 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family  
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