What We’re Reading — Winter Edition

What’s everyone reading? This is the best time of year to snuggle in a throw and read a great book!

Liz: As usual, I have too many books started. On the fiction front, I am catching up on LynDee Walker’s Faith McClellan Series and just finished No Sin Unpunished (sooo good!). Now I’m diving into Stephen King’s Billy Summers. On the nonfiction front, I’m reading Luvvie Ajayi Jones’ latest, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual and I just picked up Brene Brown’s latest, Atlas of the Heart.

Edith/Maddie: I just finished Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread, a beautiful historical novel (not crime fiction). Now I’m starting Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks, and can’t wait to pick up Lucy Burdette’s new thriller, Unsafe Haven and dive into that.

Barb: Unsafe Haven is high on my TBR pile, too! I am so glad you asked this question. I just finished a book that I loathed! I am not one to hate on another writer’s book, but my goodness I hated this. (And you can tell by its bestseller status and various accolades, the author has nothing to fear from my wrath.) I wouldn’t have finished it, except that I was reading it for a class I am taking in January. The title is The Plot: A Novel, and it’s about a writer who steals a plot from a dead student. (Not a spoiler.) I hated the protagonist, a failing writer who teaches in an MFA program, who is whiny, self-involved, and more to the point, Too Stupid to Live. Though I often love movies about writers (Stranger than Fiction, The Man Who Invented Christmas), I HATE books about writers, especially writers who teach in MFA programs. As a friend says, “Write what you know is the laziest, worst advice ever.” Writers lives are not nearly as interesting as some of us imagine them to be. The amazing plot twist the protagonist “steals” is not, in the least, amazing. And the twist on the twist at the end is telegraphed in one of the early chapters of the book and is not a surprise at all. I was at a dinner party last night (amazing in and of itself) with two other writers and our extremely well-read spouses. Two others had read The Plot and their reactions were much more “meh,” than “I loathed it,” so I might be alone in this opinion. If any of you out there have read it, I would love to hear your reactions.

Sherry: I’m reading two books which isn’t something I do very often. One is Damaging Secrets by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson. I saw it on a list somewhere and am so glad I picked it up. It’s a bit gritty, but so well written with a compelling protagonist with a lot of issues. I’m also reading an advance copy of a first in a new cozy series–Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow. It’s up for preorder and I love it!

Jessie: I always love this question, Sherry, as well as the opportunity to read everyone else’s answers! I am currently reading The Journey to the Mayflower by Stephen Tomkins. I just finished up Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland which I really enjoyed for its look at the creation of the famous painting by Renoir. Next on my list is Seafaring Women by David Cordingly for non-fiction and The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker for fiction.

Julie: My TBR pile is overwhelming! I’m currently reading Wanda M. Morris’s All Her Little Secrets, which I’m loving. Next up in Yasmin Angoe’s Her Name is Knight and Alex Segura’s Secret Identity (which will be released in 2022). Liz and I should have a book club, Brene Brown’s latest, Atlas of the Heart is also on my pile.

Readers: What are you reading?

54 Thoughts

  1. What am I reading?

    Well, I recently finished Lee Goldberg’s GATED PREY and Amy Pershing’s AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR. I’m in the midst of reading the Maddie Day mystery MURDER AT THE LOBSTAH SHACK. After that, I’m probably going to be reading the latest Michael Connelly book THE DARK HOURS.

    I’m hoping to pick up the Lucy Burdette thriller UNSAFE HAVEN, due out today, as soon as possible. And I’m hoping that my library gets a copy of David Baldacci’s MERCY soon so I can read that as well.

      1. Sherry, I loved the other books in the Atlee Pine series and I’m sure I’ll end up loving this one as well.

      2. The Atlee Pine books are very good. Both my husband and I have read them and enjoyed them.

      1. I am enjoying it, though everything going on in the book besides the mystery amply demonstrates that your fictional characters are far better human beings than I am. 😀

  2. Jay, The Dark Hours is SO GOOD! I finished it on Saturday and I’m still thinking about it! I’m interested in whether you like it, too. So many Connelly fans do not like Renee Ballard. I think in many ways she’s a female version of young Harry Bosch.

    1. judygsinger,

      When I read the first Renee Ballard book, THE LATE SHOW, I found the book to be the one Michael Connelly book that I didn’t love outright. I thought there was entirely too much going on in the book. There were about 5 different storylines and because there were so many, they all seemed to get shorted in telling their stories. At least to me. So THE LATE SHOW was a bit disappointing.

      However, ever since, I’ve really enjoyed the addition of Renee Ballard to the Bosch books / universe. I even got to review a couple books for Mystery Scene magazine. I like Renee and I’m looking forward to THE DARK HOURS.

  3. I am reading Biscuits and Slashed Browns right now. Edith’s 3 Cozy Capers books are on the way and so is Lucy Burdette’s Unsafe Haven. I am catching up on several series including Edith’s and Kate Carlisle’s. While baking and cooking, I listen to Audibles, mostly of books I’ve read already, but sometimes something new. The Audible version of Rhys Bowen’s The Venice Sketchbook is terrific. And Barb, I’m not too sure I would have finished reading The Plot. Too many great books out there!!

  4. Great! A whole new list of books to read!. I tend to read one book at a time, I have a friend who has a different one by every chair – but I like to carry my book with me from room to room. Like Barb, I just finished a book/crime/mystery I loathed (skimmed near the last 50 pages and then read the final 5 just to make sure I had “guessed” correctly. The only good thing is I know this writer’s other books, and I have enjoyed them, so I don’t have to cross off the possibility of trying another. But this one – the plot was so forced and characters so unbelievable and un-understandable, I was getting madder and madder as I read. Before this one, I read Mariah Fredericks and Jess Montgomery’s books (met them at Crime Bake) and had a great time immersing myself in their worlds. And amazingly, I never tripped over Michael Connolly’s Jack McEvoy series – I am reading FAIR WARNING now and love the pacing and the first person narrative. I always read one Dickens over the holiday. – not sure which one I will choose this year – but looking forward to it.

  5. I’m in London with my daughter at the moment, so I’m reading I NEVER KNEW THAT ABOUT LONDON by Christopher Winn, a non-fiction which I found at the British Museum yesterday. I love my mysteries but this little book is crammed with fun factoids! I just finished the ARC for Edwin Hill’s THE SECRETS WE SHARE and am also reading THE LOST APOTHECARY, by Sarah Penner, a mystery/suspense set in 1791 London, about a woman who dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them … I just want to say I always enjoy this blog. Happy holiday season to all!

    1. Have a fabulous time! I love London. I read The Lost Apothecary last year — it’s fabulous. And I’m very jealous that you have a copy of The Secrets We Share!

  6. I needed something light, so I just finished THE KANE CHRONICLES trilogy by Rick Riordan. But next up is Lucy’s UNSAFE HAVEN. Julie, my next buys are HER NAME IS KNIGHT and ALL HER LITTLE SECRETS.

  7. What a fun post! I’m reading my way through Deborah Crombie’s Kincaid and James series. I’ve read random books from the series before, but I decided to treat myself by starting at 1 and reading through. In addition to great writing, it’s interesting to follow the timeline of technology and the evolution of the relationships. Highly recommend it.

    1. Kait, I’ve read them in order more than once and am now listening to them in order. My husband is a big fan of Deb’s books, too.

  8. I’m reading And Then There Were Crumbs, by Eve Calder and very excited to start Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door by Barbara Ross on December 28th, when it arrives on my Kindle!

  9. Barb, I too read THE PLOT. Since I only review books that I enjoy and I did not review that book, you can extrapolate from there. How some titles become bestsellers, I will never understand.

    I am currently finishing up the Dolly Parton/James Patterson collaboration. It’s been very enjoyable – despite Patterson hardly being an expert wordsmith. The behind the scenes of the music industry is fascinating and the crime elements pick up more as the plot goes on.

  10. There are so many books coming out today, I’ve been reading them as fast as I can. High on the list is A Plus One for Murder by Laura Bradford. I’ve also enjoyed How to Book a Murder by Cynthia Kuhn, City of Shadows by Victoria Thompson, and Stitched in Crime by Emmie Caldwell.

    Today, I’ll be diving into Frosted Yuletide Murder by Kim Davis. And I’ve got Donna Andrews’s latest Christmas mystery on my nightstand.

  11. We must all be in the same boat! My TBR pile keeps taking over space! It’s an affliction!

  12. Wow, you all are great readers! My TBR pile is about to topple over, but I’ll have to scribble down some titles. (And thank you, Sherry, for reading DEATH BY BUBBLE TEA!)

  13. Well, the books I am currently reading or on my short stack TBR are similar to many already listed:

    THE SAVAGE KIND by John Coperhaver
    ALL HER LITTLE SECRETS by Wanda Morris
    HER NAME IS KNIGHT by Yasmin Angoe
    THE SECRETS WE SHARE by Edwin Hill (ARC)

    and a couple of Christmas-themed mysteries that I am saving up for later this month
    AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR by Amy Pershing
    and a repeat book each year
    SPIRIT OF STEAMBOAT by Craig Johnson

      1. Yes, I really like his Van Shaw books. I have to read the previous book to catch up in the series before reading his newest book from the library.

      1. I am enjoying LOBSTAH SHACK, and I am sure that Amy’s newest book will be a winner, too!

  14. Three of my favorite books that I recently read are: Murder in an English Glade by Jessie; Undercover Kitty by Sofie Ryan (I wish I could really meet Elvis the cat!) and Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison which is a book reviewed here I think and I liked it. So many books, so little time…as the saying goes. I do have some books in my wishlist that I am hopeful my hubby will see and get for me for Christmas. Books are the BEST Christmas presents in my mind.

  15. I’m about to start The Moonshine Shack Murder by Diane Kelly. It is the pick of our cozy book club for this month. I always have a non-fiction book next to the bed. Current one is one of the series, “Don’t Know Much About….” This one is The Bible. Not a religious book by any means. It is a summation of lots of scholarly studies and points out the inconsistencies, etc. IMO, it is not heretical, just informative. And I always am working at catching up with the Wickeds’ latest releases.

  16. I dislike reading about the struggles of writers too. It’s all very mopey and special snowflakey. But the premise of “The Plot” did work well in the DOA remake with Denis Quaid.

  17. After whacking away at emails (currently 10,795) I’ll return to Twelve Lords for Christmas where I am starting A Most Inconvenient Earl.

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