Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith
The third in the series, Cormoran Strike is back again. We all know that J.K. Rowling writes under this pseudonym and I have to say, she has embodied the genre wholeheartedly. This series is written very differently from her previous novel under her name, The Casual Vacancy, and is tense and fraught and a page-turner. Oh, and there’s a romantic subplot that doesn’t dally in the romance too much but is satisfying nonetheless. Already waiting for the next installment.
One Good Early Deserves of Lover
The Rules of Scoundrels, #2
By Sarah MacLean
I read the first in The Rules of Scoundrels series based on a Book Riot post about excellent romance novels to read to enter the genre. I read my first romance on a camping trip when I was maybe ten years old. There were a small variety of books in the main office, you know, leave a book/take a book. I took a romance because that seemed illicit and read it in my sleeping bag with a flashlight. Oh, the things I learned. I don’t read romance novels consistently but Sarah MacLean creates complicated characters, both male and female, who have much to overcome and can only do with the help of the one they love. There are four books in the series. Number three was also read this month (see below) and I’m waiting for the final installment to come in to my library. I’ve peeked ahead a bit and can’t wait for the twist!
Girl Waits with Gun
By Amy Stewart
A fictional account of an incident reported in a newspaper, Girl Waits with Gun is about a trio of sisters who must defend themselves and their home from a no-good thug. All the eldest sister, Constance Kopp, wants is justice. In her attempt to pursue a righteous end, she just might well learn how to shoot a gun and investigate a case.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
The Rules of Scoundrels, #3)
By Sarah MacLean
See The Rules of Scoundrels, #2. There is a standard plot pattern in romance novels, particularly in Regency era stories. We all know this. Reading the books back-to-back made the patterns a little more obvious but the great characters and fun mishaps and the flying sparks make it super fun to read.
A Likely Story
Library Lover’s Mystery, #6
By Jenn McKinlay
I love this series. Librarian protagonist. Check. Quirky best friend. Check. Multiple love interests. Check, check! And a mystery to boot! I have a general fondness for cozy mysteries – not that I want to be an amateur sleuth, but the romantic idea of a small town tugs at my heart – but when I discover characters who feel familiar, I’m hooked. This installment includes a house for two recluse brothers filled with booby traps and a romantic subplot that moves to the next level. And good on Ms. McKinlay for having A Likely Story issued in hardcover!
The Heart Goes Last
By Margaret Atwood
This book felt like several different types of books. It began as an obvious post-apocalyptic tale about a couple trying to make ends meet in a terrible new world. Then it became a dramatic story about their relationship. And then, finally, the plot kicked in and things started to happen until the ambiguous end. I think the ambiguous ending was the point of the story but I have to be honest – I’m not sure. It’s certainly a book that can be debated by fellow readers so drop me a line if you’ve read it.
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue
Gaslight Mystery, #17
By Victoria Thompson
Lovers of this series rejoice! It contains the long-awaited marriage of Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy. The former midwife and former Sergeant Detective (you’ll have to read to series to find out why I use the word ‘former’) have had a long road to this point. Malloy is a working class cop and had to overcome his worry that he wasn’t good enough for Sarah since she came from high-society before marrying a doctor. They have both lost spouses and have children, so blending the family is another obstacle. (Let alone the murders that keep cropping up.) Their relationship has been developed in a realistic way, or as realistic as it can be with a midwife amateur sleuth helping a cop who goes against the establishment at every turn. Thompson’s historical details are also fascinating. Each book is set in a different neighborhood of late 19th century New York City so new things are always learned.
Named of the Dragon
By Susanna Kearsley
I’m making my way through Susanna Kearsley’s novels. It started with The Winter Sea and then The Splendour Falls and I was in. Each story has a female protagonist in a period of flux and a magical or mystical element that helps her figure out her way. Named of the Dragon had a little less mystical than other books. It incorporated tales of Merlin who was from Wales, where the story is set. I don’t know much about the Merlin myths so the tidbits woven into Lyn Ravenshaw’s personal journey. (Love her name. She would fit in a Hogwarts.)
Lamp Black, Wolf Grey
By Paula Brackston
Paula Brackston is another author whose back catalog I’m working through. Lamp Black, Wolf Grey was another book set in Wales incorporating the Merlin myth, although much more directly. This is Brackston’s first book and while magic is part of the story, it only tangentially relates to the protagonist. Merlin has his own historical subplot that bleeds into the present. I expected the protagonist to be a witch because of her later books. This felt a bit like Susanna Kearsley in that history and magic and the present time begin to overlap. It was strange reading two books about Merlin and Wales back to back. Not at all on purpose but they complemented each other well.
The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen
By Katherine Howe
Katherine Howe is another author whose books I will read without knowing a thing about them. She usually writes about witches to some degree but this book is a ghost story without ever using the word. Howe often incorporates the past into her works, often times through historical subplots. The ghost allowed a fluidity between past and present that kept everything linked together. No need for a chapter break to move back over one hundred years.
Guidebook to Murder
A Tourist Trap Mystery #1
By Lynn Cahoon
I’ll give any cozy mystery series with a bookish bent a try. Guidebook to Murder was a recommendation on my library’s ebook site based on my reading habits, so I gave it a go. A high-powered laywer gives up her career to open a bookstore/coffee shop in a small coastal town – the dream. An elderly woman Jill Garnder befriended dies, leaving Jill her house and lots of money. Then suspects appear and it’s deemed a murder. Relatives come out of the woodwork, as do city council members and developers who want to raze Jill’s new home to build condos. Jill’s surfer friend and the hunky detective determined to keep her safe are nice additions.
Murder Past Due
Cast in the Stacks Mystery, #1
By Miranda James
Murder Past Due is literally the first cozy mystery I’ve read with a male protagonist. I didn’t realize it at first – Charlie could be a woman’s name – but no, Charlie is a man, a librarian and bit of an eccentric as he goes around town with his Maine Coon cat on a leash. I enjoy all cozy mysteries related to books and I have a part Maine Coon cat so I was invested by the end of chapter one. Charlie gets invested in the murder of a former high school nemesis due to the young man renting a room from Charlie who happens to be the dead man’s son. It was interesting reading a cozy with a male protagonist. It definitely goes against form. There was nothing wrong with Charlie as a character but I find that I am able to identify with attributes of women in cozies, or at least attributes I wished I had.
(Parasol Protectorate, #1)
by Gail Carriger
Soulless was as fun a read as I expected. Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster in Victorian London. Bored at a party, she goes into the library for a cup of tea and is attacked by a vampire. She renders his abilities useless with her touch, a little trick of hers due to her preternatural state of having no soul. When the vampire continues his attack, she kills him with her trust parasol. Enter two werewolves to help solve the crime, one of whom is Lord Maccon, a desirable bachelor. Alexia and Lord Maccon team up to find to source of the rogue vampires and sparks fly along the way.