Random (but not really)

Sunday, May 8, 2022

The Books of April

It’s been a strange month.

Homicide and Halo-HaloI mean, the past several years have been weird, but this was personal oddity as opposed to (gestures at everything)

But I read some books. (Of course I did.) Just fewer than I have in awhile. Which isn’t bad, since I did go hiking every weekend.

And, I even read some new to me books, as well as a book that was published this year.

Because I was having a difficult time, you can see comfort reads there. To be honest, I’m not sure I can tie together why I love these books so much, but these are the books I’ve reached for when I just needed to be enveloped in a book.

And if anyone can tell me what Come Unto These Yellow Sands, Banquet of Lies, Waiting for the Flood, and Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector all have in common that make me reach for them as comfort reads, I would be delighted for THAT analysis.


Come Unto These Yellow Sands (2011) Josh Lanyon 9/10
Homicide and Halo-Halo (2022) Mia P. Manansala  7/10

Waiting for the Flood
Historical Mystery

In a Treacherous Court (2011) Michelle Diener 8/10
Regency London by Michelle Diener: Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012) 8.5/10,
Banquet of Lies (2013) 9.5/10, A Dangerous Madness (2014) 8.5/10
Sins of the Cities by KJ Charles: An Unsuitable Heir (2017) 7.5/10, An Unnatural Vice (2017) 8.5/10, An Unseen Attraction (2017) 9/10

Supernatural Fantasy

Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector (2018) Nicole Kimberling  9.5/10


The Remaking of Corbin Wale (2018) Roan Parrish 8.5/10
Waiting for the Flood (2018) Alexis Hall  9/10


Women Warriors: An Unexpected History (2019) Pamela D. Toler 8/10

Audio Books

Within the Sanctuary of Wings: A Memoir by Lady Trent, Audio Version (2017) Marie Brennan narrated by Kate Reading 9/10
The October Man, Audio Version (2019) Ben Aaronovitch narrated by Sam Peter Jackson 8.5/10


Written by Michelle at 8:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Books of March

In the Labyrinth of DrakesI didn’t read quite as much as I have been, but sadly, it wasn’t because I was doing other fun things. I was just too scattered to focus, and have several books I was determined to finish, even thought they weren’t working for me.

Luckily, there were some good books in there!

After four years, I thought that Jane Steen‘s Lady Helena series wasn’t going to have another entry, but there was one, and I was delighted by it!

I started (and finished) Amy Lanes Hedge Witches Lonely Heart Club, which had a world building that pulled me in and kept me thinking. I had issues with a couple of things, but mostly I wanted to know what happened, and so I couldn’t stop reading.

I found Sadie Bosque’s An Agreement with the Soldier fascinating, because it it had so many bits that I thought were going to follow the well-worn trope path, but then: THEY TALKED! They used their words and talked! And it was marvelous!

And apparently I’m reading non-fiction again. I highly recommend No Man’s Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain’s Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I, because I remain gobsmacked this is something I knew nothing about.


Lady Odelias Secret

Historical Mystery

Lady Odelia’s Secret (2022) Jane Steen (Lady Helena Investigates) 8/10
A Sanctuary for Soulden (2021) J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry (The Lords of Bucknall Club) 8/10
Lessons in Trust (2018) Charlie Cochrane (Cambridge Fellows) 7.5/10



A Ghost of a Chance (2012) Josh Lanyon


Supernatural Fantasy

Hedge Witches Lonely Heart Club by Amy Lane: Shortbread and Shadows (2020) 7/10;
Portals and Puppy Dogs (2021) 7/10; Pentacles and Pelting Plants (2021) 7.5/10;
Heartbeats in a Haunted House (2022) 7.5/10;
Mistlefoe: A Mead Realm Tale (2021) Kimberly Lemming  7.5/10
Mysterious Charm by Celia Lake: Wards of the Roses (2019) 7/10, In the Cards (2019) 7/10
Whirlwind (2021) A. M. Rose (Daydream, Colorado) 7/10
Jane Yellowrock Short Stories Faith Hunter

No Mans Land



An Agreement with the Soldier (2021) Sadie Bosque (Necessary Arrangements) 8/10
Summer Makeover (2021) Kelly Fox  7/10
I’m So (Not) Over You (2022) Kosoko Jackson 7/10



No Man’s Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain’s Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I (2020) Wendy Moore 9/10
Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics (2014) Kathryn J. Atwood 4/10


Audio Books

In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent, Audio Book (2016) Marie Brennan narrated by Kate Reading 9/10
Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam
Curse on the Land (2016) (Soulwood) 8.5/10; Jane Yellowrock:
Shadow Rites Audio Book (2016), 8/10
Cold Reign, Audio Book (2017) 7/10

Written by Michelle at 7:54 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Books of January (2022)

What did I read in January? Unsurprisingly, a whole lotta books. Let me tell you about them!

The Missing PageI seem to have been in the mood for mysteries, devouring a lot of cozies, including several new releases.

I’ve been a fan of Cat Sebastian for awhile, so I was delighted to see that she had another book in her Page & Summers series. Note it was a 2022 publication and I actually read it the week it was published. I also read the second Pentecost & Parker mystery, which was also good, although in a very different way, since the two are private investigators, and the story is set post WWII rather than post WWI.

I’ve also started a new Ellis Peters series. It was (at the time) a contemporary, and quite different from her Brother Cadfael series, but I’ll read another.

I’m all caught up on Charlie Cochrane’s Lindenshaw Mysteries, and very much enjoyed this cozy series. One partner is a teacher, the other in the police, and the ways Adam gets pulled into Robin’s cases is not utterly ridiculous. I’ve just started her older, historical series. It’s not quite as good as the Londenshaw series, but I did enjoy it.

I finally read the final Inspector Montalbano book. He had written it years earlier, and instructed his agent it was to be published only after his death. It is truly the final Montalbano story.

Valor Wands
Comics were more miss than hit this month, although I thoroughly enjoyed Valor: Wands, the second book in that series.

Finally, I want to mention Lissa Kasey’s Reflections on a Curse, which is part of an existing series, but can be read on its own. It’s set during the (continuing) pandemic, but I thought it was handled well. It’s also a story I read a segments after finally joining the Patreon community.

And if you don’t want to count–I read 33 books in January, which is a new high for the month. But to be fair that was 30% novellas and short stories.

Historical Mystery

The Missing Page (2022) Cat Sebastian (Page & Sommers) 8.5/10
Murder Under Her Skin (2021) Stephen Spotswood (Pentecost and Parker) 8/10
Lessons in Love (2008) Charlie Cochrane (Cambridge Fellows) 7/10
Death and the Joyful Woman (1961) Ellis Peters (The Felse Investigations)


And Everything Nice (2016) Ada Maria Soto 9/10
Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut  (2018) R. Cooper 9/10
Christmas Wish List (2021) N.R. Walker (Hartbridge Christmas) 7.5/10
In the Winter Woods
Frog (2012) Mary Calmes
Life Saving Dal (2017) Ada Maria Soto
The Boy Next Door (2017) Josh Lanyon


The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories (2015) Ian Rankin 9/10
Lindenshaw Mysteries by Charlie Cochrane: Jury of One (2016) 8/10, Two Feet Under (2018) 8/10, Old Sins (2019) 7.5/10, A Carriage of Misjustice (2020) 8/10
Riccardino (2020/2021) Andrea Camilleri translator Stephen Sartarelli (Inspector Montalbano) 8/10
The Mystery of the Spirits (2021) C.S. Poe (Snow & Winter) 8/10
In the Winter Woods (2020) Isabelle Adler 7/10
The Postscript Murders (2021) Elly Griffiths (Harbinder Kaur) 7/10
Christmas Dessert Murder (2021) Joanne Fluke (A Hannah Swensen Mystery)
Stranger in the House (2019) Josh Lanyon

Historical Romance

Something Fabulous (2022) Alexis Hall (Something Fabulous) 7/10
A Marriage of Equals (2021) Elizabeth Rolls 7/10
An Irregular Arrangement (2021) A. L. Lester (Border Magic)
Mr Warren’s Profession (2017) Sebastian Nothwell

Witch Hat Atelier 1
Supernatural Fantasy

Reflection of a Curse (2022) Lissa Kasey (Romancing a Curse) 8/10
Conventional Shadows (2022) Lissa Kasey (A Simply Crafty Paranormal Mystery) 7/10
Threshold (2013) Jordan L. Hawk (Whyborne & Griffin) 7/10

Graphic Novel

Valor: Wands (2018) Isabelle Melançon, Megan Lavey-Heaton 8.5/10
Death Wins a Goldfish: Reflections from a Grim Reaper’s Yearlong Sabbatical (2019) Brian Rea 7/10
Witch Hat Atelier 1 (2017/2019) Kamome Shirahama
Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic to Brew (2018) Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, Kate Leth

Audio Books

Broken Soul (2014) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam (Jane Yellowrock) 8/10

Written by Michelle at 7:23 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Books of 2021: Wrap Up

Favorite Covers: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Favorite Mysteries
Favorite Romances
Favorite Fantasies
The Rest
Books that got me through the year



My Favorite Books


Top of the list? Murderbot!

All Systems RedThe Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (2017) 9/10, Artificial Condition (2018) 8.5/10, Rogue Protocol (2018) 8.5/10, Exit Strategy (2018) 8.5/10, Network Effect (2020) 9/10, Fugitive Telemetry (2021) 9/10

Science Fiction

I generally dislike SF, so I put off reading this series. But when I was in desperate need of a distraction, Murderbot was the perfect fix.

A Ladys Guide to Etiquette and MurderA Countess of Harleigh Mystery by Dianne Freeman

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder (2018) 7.5/10, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (2019) 8.5/10, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (2020) 8/10, A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021) 8/10

Historical Mystery, Cozy

I have always loved historical mysteries–even though the first “historicals” I read were actually Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. This series is a cozy historical series with a female lead, who does NOT go running into danger, but instead tries to be safe and do the sensible thing, but events overtake her.

I am really looking forward to the next book when it comes out.

The Charm Offensive

The Charm Offensive (2021) Alison Cochrun 9/10

Contemporary Romance, LGBT

Initially I didn’t even think I wanted to read this book, but by chapter two I was sucked in and in love with both characters.

I loved how Dev worked to keep Charlie calm and able to get through the day, but even more I loved how Charlie saw how hard Dev was working, and wanted to appreciate him.

A Marvellous LightA Marvellous Light (2021) Freya Marske (The Last Binding) 9/10

Fantasy, Historical, Mystery, LGBT

This is the first book in a new series, and it was full of things I absolutely adored.

It’s historical, with great fantasy world-building, and a side of mystery. And the two characters (eventually) talked about what they were reacting to.


Publisher / Cover Roundup

An Unexpected Peril

Here are all the publishers who had more than a single cover I loved.

Berkley – 9 (Penguin)
self – 8
Kensington – 5
Carina – 3 (Harlequin)
Tangled Tree Publishing – 3 (Hot Tree)
Emporium Press – 2
Forever – 2 (Grand Central Publishing)


Although it was close thing, An Unexpected Peril (2021) Deanna Raybourn was my favorite cover, but as a whole, the mystery category had many many to choose from.


I Read a LOT of Books

As I mentioned earlier, 2021 was a terrible year for me, so I went to my favorite form of escapism: reading.

This is the most books I have every read in a single year, since I started keeping track (2003).

Total Books Read: 335
Total Pages Read: 82788
Total Hours Listened: 7 days, 4 hrs, and 12 mins
Average days per book: 5.56
Average pages per day: 123



As you can see, an overwhelming majority of the books I loved were in the romance category. That is, of course, because a romance has an HEA, and those HEAs got me through the year.

Unfortunately for me, that means half the books I read had explicit sex scenes, so that was a downside.

But I did read my FIRST BOOK EVER with a chapter heading for aces!

Content disclaimer This chapter includes a sex scene. If you’d rather not read sexually explicit content, please skip ahead to chapter 23.



As a reader of SFF, every couple years a guy complains that there aren’t any good female authors. (Seriously, I’ve been ranting about this since 2005.) So I started keeping track of the sex of the authors I’ve been reading.

As I have every year since 2012, the majority of the books I read this year were written by women, and when you take pseudonyms into account, more than three quarters of the books I read this year were written by women.

Why do I take pseudonyms into account? Because in genres like fantasy and mystery, women frequently take male pseudonyms or use their initials instead of a first name, to hide their gender. So I track those numbers as well: 7% of all the books I’ve read since 2003 have been written by women (overtly or subtly) hiding they are women.





With a couple of exceptions (Terry Pratchett, Robert B Parker, Ben Aaronovitch, FREX) I tend to prefer books written by women–and when reading primarily SFF, I tend prefer female leads; mostly because there is less blatant sexism and misogyny.

However, as is obvious from my love of SFF, I like reading about experience that are not my own, and so I started seeking out books by and about POC, as well as books set in places unfamiliar to me.

When I started reading romance, I discovered that many of the best books were sexually explicit, which sometimes gives me a feeling of dysphoria, plus, sex scenes are just boring. I soon discovered that MM romance was much easier for me to read, since I don’t feel as if I should be inserting myself into the story, so I also started reading a lot of LGBT stories–not just romances, but across all genres.

What this chart is showing is that I read a LOT of MM stories, and I still have work to do in reading more stories with POC representation.




I read almost exclusive ebooks at this point, with the exceptions being cookbooks and comics. Since I have barely cooked or baked this year, all the paper books were comics.

And as you can see, almost half the books I read were rereads.

You can see here what years I’ve struggled with my mental health, by the percent of rereads in a year.



Random bits and pieces

Country of Origin


Every once in awhile I come across a genre book / series that is translated into English, and I adore these books, since they (especially mysteries) give a completely different view of another country. And books written in English but set in a country that is not the US or Great Britain are also lovely.

I do need to branch out more, but at least it’s not all US & UK authors.




This is unsurprising, since I had so many rereads this year. What I did find interesting (and don’t have a way to track, is that some of the comforting rereads were ones I hadn’t rated above a 7 1/2. However, something about the story settled my mind and emotions.

For example, Dahlia Donovan’s Sin Bin series pulled me in and stuck in my brain, even if I didn’t always like the characters, or the trope wasn’t my thing. But for the most part I picked up books I loved, or was pretty certain I was going to love, to read this year.


And that’s a wrap for 2021. Any books I read in the next couple days will be shoehorned into 2022, just to make things easier.

I hope y’all read some amazing books this year, and I hope that the next year will be one that requires less comfort and more adventure.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Yearly Round-Up  

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Comfort Reads of 2021

This year was awful for me.

Really awful.

So I did a lot of rereading of books of favorites, or books that brought me comfort and allowed me a distraction from reality. And those two are not always the same thing. Some distracting books are not comforting, but none of the books have a cliff-hanger ending, and to me, all of the endings are satisfying.

This list is going to be a lot of books. But I read a stupidly large number of books this year, so this is kind of a drop in the bucket.

Small VicesI’m not even going to try to tell you what makes these books so good, just that each and every one of these served to pull me out of my own head when I desperately needed it. In fact, the first book I reached for after my father died was Robert Parker’s Small Vices, and the only reason the Miss Marple series didn’t make the list is because I had just finished rereading that entire series at the end of 2020

I do, however, want to note that several authors made this list in multiple genres, including C.S. Poe, who wrote books I adore in all three of my escapism genres. The others are Nicole Kimberling, Cat Sebastian, Aidan Wayne.


Big Bad Wolf series* by Charlie Adhara

The Wolf at the Door (2018), The Wolf at Bay (2018), Thrown to the Wolves (2019), Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2020)

Supernatural Mystery, Romance, LGBT


The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant

Fred, the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes:

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (2014), Undeath and Taxes (2015), Bloody Acquisitions (2016), Deadly Assessments (2018), Undeading Bells (2019)

Supernatural Mystery


Offbeat Crimes series* by Angel Martinez

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters (2016), The Pill Bugs of Time (2016), Skim Blood and Savage Verse (2017), Feral Dust Bunnies (2017), Jackalopes and Woofen-Poofs  (2017), All the World’s an Undead Stage (2018); Brandywine Investigations*: Open for Business (2016), Family Matters (2018); Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists* (2017)

Supernatural Mystery, Romance, LGBT


London Falling

Shadow Police series by Paul Cornell

London Falling (2012), The Severed Streets (2014), Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? (2016)

Supernatural Mystery


C.S. Poe

Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage* (2016)

Supernatural Romance, LGBT, Short story


Nicole Kimberling

Grilled Cheese and Goblins: Adventures of a Supernatural Food Inspector* (2018)

Supernatural Mystery, Romance, LGBT


The House in the Cerulean SeaT.J. Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea (2020)

Fantasy, LGBT


Aidan Wayne

Making Love (2017)

Supernatural Romance, LGBT, novella



Daniel O’Malley The Rook, Audio Edition (2012) narrated by Susan Duerden

Stiletto, Audio Edition (2016) narrated by Moira Quirk

Urban Fantasy



Cut to the QuickJulian Kestrel Mysteries by Kate Ross

Cut to the Quick (1993), A Broken Vessel (1994), Whom the Gods Love (1995), The Devil in Music (1997)

Historical Mystery


Regency London series by Michelle Diener

The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012), Banquet of Lies (2013), A Dangerous Madness (2014)

Historical Mystery, Romance


Cat Sebastian Hither, Page* (2019)

Historical Mystery, Romance, LGBT


C.S. Poe Southernmost Murder* (2018)

Contemporary Mystery, Romance, LGBT


Come Unto These Yellow SandsJosh Lanyon Come Unto These Yellow Sands* (2017)

Contemporary Mystery, LGBT


Nicole Kimberling

The Bellingham Mystery Series Volume 1* (2015), The Bellingham Mystery Series Volume 2* (2015)

Contemporary Mystery, Romance, LGBT


Grasmere Cottage Mysteries (2018) by Dahlia Donovan

Dead in the Garden, Dead in the Pond, Dead in the Shop

Contemporary Mystery, Cozy, LGBT


Robert B. Parker Small Vices (1998) (Spenser)

Mystery, PI


Shores of DesireLescaut Quartet* by Tracy Grant

Dark Angel (1994), Shores of Desire (1997)

Historical Romance, MF, Mystery


The Turner series* by Cat Sebastian

The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017), The Ruin of a Rake (2017);
It Takes Two to Tumble* (2017) (Seducing the Sedgwicks)

Historical Romance, MM, LGBT


Sins of the Cities series* by KJ Charles

An Unseen Attraction (2017), An Unnatural Vice (2017);
Band Sinister* (2018)

Historical Romance, MM, LGBT


Georgette Heyer These Old Shades (1926)

Historical Romance


Better Than PeopleGarnet Run series* by Roan Parrish

Better Than People (2020), Best Laid Plans (2021); Riven*: Riven (2018), Rend  (2018); The Remaking of Corbin Wale* (2017)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT


Frozen Hearts series* by Annabeth Albert

Arctic Sun (2019), Arctic Wild (2019), Arctic Heat (2019)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT


Talia Hibbert *

Ravenswood: A Girl Like Her (2018), Damaged Goods (2018), Untouchable (2018), That Kind of Guy (2019);
Undone by the Ex-Con (2018), Work for It (2019)

Contemporary Romance, LGBT


C.S. Poe

Kneading You* (2016), Joy (2017), The Color of You* (2017)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT, novellas


Galaxies and OceansN.R. Walker

Galaxies and Oceans* (2018), Upside Down (2019)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT


R. Cooper

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter* (2017), For Better or Worse* (2017), Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT


Layla Reyne

Dine with Me* (2019)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT


Aidan Wayne

Loud and Clear (2016), Play It Again (2019)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT

Blank Spaces
Cass Lennox

Blank Spaces* (2016)

Contemporary Romance, MM, Mystery, LGBT


Alexis Hall

Waiting for the Flood (2018) (Spires)

Contemporary Romance, MM,  LGBT, novella


Ada Maria Soto

And Everything Nice (2016)

Contemporary Romance, MM, LGBT, short story


* Boinking Books

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Yearly Round-Up  

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Books of 2021: Everything Else

Science Fiction

All Systems RedThe Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (2017) 9/10, Artificial Condition (2018) 8.5/10, Rogue Protocol (2018) 8.5/10, Exit Strategy (2018) 8.5/10, Network Effect (2020) 9/10, Fugitive Telemetry (2021) 9/10

Late to the game, I know. But in my defense, I tend to dislike science fiction, with just a handful of exceptions.

This is one of those exceptions.

I mean, this is the opening paragraph of the first novella.

I COULD HAVE BECOME a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

And it just gets better from there. I still have the latest book to read, but that’s I’ve been taking my time and savoring the stories.



Tales from the FollyTales from the Folly: A Rivers of London Short Story Collection (2020) Ben Aaronovitch narrated by: the author, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Ben Elliot, Felix Grainger, Sam Peter Jackson, Alex Kingston, Shvorne Marks, and Penelope Rawlins 8.5/10

Fantasy, Anthology

Despite there being other narrators besides Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, this was a great collection. Because of course we do get some Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, but we also get other narrators for other characters (such as Abigail).

I’ve always found Toby a pretty reliable magic detector. I’ve actually done controlled laboratory experiments that indicate that he can detect magical activity up to ten metres away, although false positives can be generated by cats, other dogs and the remote possibility of a sausage.

But most of all, Peter.


Murderbot Audio Editions: All Systems Red, (2017), Artificial Condition, Audio Edition (2018), Rogue Protocol, Audio Edition (2018), Martha Wells narrated by Kevin R. Free

Although the voice doesn’t quite match what I heard in my head, it is still very good.

When constructs were first developed, they were originally supposed to have a pre-sentient level of intelligence, like the dumber variety of bot. But you can’t put something as dumb as a hauler bot in charge of security for anything without spending even more money for expensive company-employed human supervisors. So they made us smarter. The anxiety and depression were side effects.

Because: Murderbot



Lady Mechanika Vol 6

Lady Mechanika: Sangre (2020) by Joe Benitez, M.M. Chen, Brian Ching, Martin Montiel 8/10


I love the story, but I also utterly adore the art.

Lady Mechanika Vol 6

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Yearly Round-Up  

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Books of 2021: Mysteries

I read a lot of mysteries this year. Even more surprising, I read a lot of newly released mysteries.


Madison Square MurdersMadison Square Murders (2021) C.S. Poe (Memento Mori) 8.5/10

Police, LGBT

This is a new series in the same setting as the Snow & Winter series, with minor overlapping characters. Everett Larkin works on the NYC Cold Case Squad. He is an excellent detective, but an accident when he was a teenager changed his brain so that the past remains emotionally present for him. Forever.

If you know your romance tropes, this one is definintely grumpy/sunshine.

“Perhaps I’ve caught you at a bad time,” Joe suggested.

“You haven’t, I assure you.

One thing I struggled with was that the marriage of the main character was falling apart throughout the book. Which is rough going. Also, lots of triggers here for all kinds of dark things.

Yet, I did like it and can’t wait for the next one.

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No GoodAn Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good (2018) Helene Tursten translated by Marlaine Delargy 8.5/10


This book! Elderly woman kills people who annoy her!

(S)he had learned that it was smart not to reveal that all her senses were in full working order; instead, she allowed people to act in accordance with their own preconceptions.

Seriously. It’s about an old woman killing people who annoy her. You either want to read it based upon that, or there is no way you’ll ever read it.

Murder Most ActualMurder Most Actual (2021) Alexis Hall  8/10

Cozy, LGBT

Alexis Hall + Clue + Everyone is snowed in.

“Belloc’s an ass,” declared the colonel.

The door burst open.

“Oh, is he?” demanded Belloc, who Liza would have bet money had been waiting outside for the perfect moment to make a big entrance. “But I wonder, would the great Colonel Coleman have the courage to say this to Belloc’s face?”

The colonel stared at him. “You’re an ass.”

This is very much over-the-top, and very much delightful.

Mango Mambo and MurderMango, Mambo, and Murder (2021) Raquel V. Reyes (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery) 8/10

Cozy, Food

Miriam Quiñones-Smith has finished her PhD in food anthropology, but instead of becoming an author or education, she has moved back to Miami, where her husband was able to find a better paying job closer to support from his family.

“I’m a food anthropologist.”

“You dig up old food?” Ileana asked.

“No, I … I …” I’d never had it put that way before.

Although this is a murder mystery, it is also about Miriam finding her place in the world, both as a mother and daughter, and a woman whose life plans were upended and she has to decide who she wants to become.

Also, I now really wish there was a Cuban restaurant anywhere near me.

Arsenic and AdoboArsenic and Adobo (2021) Mia P. Manansala (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen) 8/10

Cozy, Food

Lila Macapagal has returned home both to reset her life after discovering her ex-fianace cheated, and also to help try to save the family restaurant.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been stared down by an elderly Asian woman, but It. Is. Terrifying. Don’t be fooled by the cute florals and jaunty visors— these women will end you, wielding nothing but their sharp tongues, bony elbows, and collapsible shopping carts.

Then (because this is a cozy) murder happens. Lots and lots of food described in loving detail here.

Poisoned PrimroseMotts Cold Case Mystery by Dahlia Donovan

Poisoned Primrose (2020) 8/10, Pierced Peony (2021) 8/10, Pickled Petunia (2021) 7.5/10

Cozy, LGBT

Despite her mother’s unhappiness about it, Motts moved to the cottage she inherited from her aunt and is making a go of living on her own for the first time. Being autistic and ace is complicated, but she has family and friends who love and look out for her.

“Hello. Please go away.”

“I brought a sack of chips and a chocolate bar.”

“Well, fine. Come in.”

Motts definitely does not search out crimes to investigate, and doesn’t particularly want to get involved, but when the situations are somewhat forced upon her, she becomes fascinated by the puzzles.

Model Citizen
Haven Investigations by Lissa Kasey

Model Citizen (2015) 8/10, Model Bodyguard (2016) 8.5/10, Model Investigator (2017) 9/10, Model Exposure (2017) 9/10

PI, LGBT, Romance, Boinking

There are books you love the entire time you’re reading them, and you finish that last page with happy sigh.

Then there are the books that you keep thinking about, weeks and months after you finished them. This series is in the latter category.

There is a lot of sex in this series. So it is definitely not for everyone. But it had plot twists that kept me guessing, and the characters just stuck with me, both the things they went through and survived, but also the way they learned to lean on each other and their found family for support.

This four-book PI series was full of twists and turns and unexpected routes.

It has tons of trigger warnings, but what I loved best was that the mental health aspects (which were many) were dealt with so well.

“You know that little questionnaire you get every time you go in? You’re supposed to answer that honestly, not mark what you think you should feel.”

I had thought it was just me. That it was my place to fix what was wrong with me. That I’d been given help and it was my fault it wasn’t working because I wasn’t trying hard enough.

After his brother’s death by suicide, Oliver took over the PI firm, putting his (very successful) modeling career on hold. But he is barely keeping his head above water, so one of his brother’s friends calls in another to help Oliver out.

This series has a LOT of sex, so it won’t be for a lot of people, but I really liked both the characters and the mystery.

A Ladys Guide to Etiquette and MurderA Countess of Harleigh Mystery by Dianne Freeman

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (2019) 8.5/10, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (2020) 8/10, A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021) 8/10

Historical, Cozy

Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh has finally ended her mourning. However, since she was the spouse with the money, her in-laws don’t want her to leave, since she is all that is keeping the estates afloat.

“And how clever of you to have your own money.”

I chuckled. “The credit goes to my father. He set up this account although the Wynn family resented it at the time. They were rather offended at the idea of a wife having independent means— not the English way, you know.”

But when it begins to look like her husband’s death was not accidental, she is drawn into a mystery.

There is a delightful amount banter.

“I confess I had no idea what you were trying to tell me. Fortunately, your sister did.”

“I shall have to brush up on my skills,” he said with a sigh. “Or we could devise signals.”

I widened my eyes. “Or we could just speak to each other?”

“Well, if you insist on taking the easy route.”

And one of the things I especially like is that she doesn’t stumble blindly into situations but instead tries her best to keep out of danger.

Murder Most FairMurder Most Fair (2021) Anna Lee Huber (Verity Kent) 8.5/10


This is the best book in this series in a while. A lot of the things that were bugging me are starting to slowly get resolved.

“(W)ell, I thought I was managing it. Until clearly I wasn’t.”

Don’t start here is you have not read the series, but if you start to wonder if you should keep going once you’re in the series, the answer is yes.

Death at the Crystal PalaceDeath at the Crystal Palace (2021) Jennifer Ashley (A Below Stairs Mystery Book) 8/10

Historical, Cozy

Kat is a cook who has befriended the lady of the house, and so is far more involved in the lives of her betters than is necessarily good for her. But it is out of wanting to help those in need, rather than an overwhelming curiosity.

I was the same person, and yet in this dress and hat with a young man to handle the tickets for me, I suddenly deserved the conductor’s politeness. It made one think.

I’m very much enjoying this series.

Subtle Blood
Subtle Blood (2021) KJ Charles (The Will Darling Adventures) 8/10

Historical, LGBT, Romance, Boinking

Third book (and perhaps last?) of the series.

Will Darling came back from the War and struggled until meeting an uncle he didn’t know he had. When the uncle dies, leaving his bookstore to Will, he is inadvertently drawn into intrigue, and meets Kim, who has wealth and a name, and initially never tells Will the truth about anything.

It’s also (as are all KJ Charles books) full of wonderful dialog.

“You can’t expect me to take your word for things when I could work myself into a frenzy about them instead.”

This is not the place to start, but there are only two prior books, so it’s easy to get caught up, and then you can enjoy the intrigue and adventure.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Yearly Round-Up  
Next Page »

Powered by WordPress

books main pictures cats e-mail