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January 2023

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

HowthelightgetsinAfter the way The Beautiful Mystery ended, I desperately needed the next book. However all my libraries had long waits for the ebooks and digital audio copies.  Hoopla to the rescue!  My local library only recently started offering Hoopla access, so I stuck my earbuds in, downloaded the book, and basically spent the next day and half listening compulsively

I find it fascinating how much variation there is in the series about the time gaps between the events in each book.  Some are a year apart, others a few months, others almost a year, etc.  So many series stick to set time pattern, it is refreshing and sometimes surprising just how much or how little time has passed, especially in contrast to the time period that that the books tend to actually cover, often times no more than a week or so.

I read How the Light Gets In at a frenetic audio speed pumped up to my listening limit of 1.75 (which I realize is glacial compared to the speeds some of my friends do).  And the story's pacing seemed to match my own,  Gamache racing around between Three Pines and Montreal, trying to put the final pieces together to two tragedies, unraveling ancient plots and recent menaces.

Ruth continues to be my favorite resident of Three Pines but in this book Myrna really gets a chance to shine.  I loved how both of them held the Three Pines crew together and rescued Gamache and his team yet again.

I am going to take a few days, before picking up the next book, The Long Way Home, because I was spoiled by a major plot point in that one...and I need to let the events in this one just sink in a little bit.

9. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (CIGM #9, WM Quebecois, Big Mid-series climax) Gamache under siege & the pacing matched my frantic mood & served a much need resolution. Cw: homophobia, murder, betrayals, drug use, addiction, police corruption.


The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

37559E62-C218-4456-A26B-D1FDB70B25BBA murder in an isolated monastery, bring Gamache and Beouvoir to the cloistered community where glances, silences and the smallest of tremors are magnified into blaring communication.  

I was spoiled for a major character conflict in this book and it made it so hard to read as I saw it happening.  The relationship of Gamache’s team are so intimate and central to the books that this blow was excruciating building as it does in conflicts in previous books. 

So much of this book is about intentions, the desire to protect and care for others and small choices with big consequences.   I’m so glad I’m reading this series as backlist and don’t have to wait a year or more between books! 

I loved that the audio ended with a snippet of a Gregorian chant! 

cw: murder, homophobia, drug use, addiction, PTSD. 



A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

EAEF02DE-95E4-4263-8B38-68033E271E65A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (CIAG #7, WM a Québécois detective). Oops belatedly realized I missed a short story.   This story seemed crowded with suspects, left me feeling sad. Cw: addiction, murder,  gaslighting, past trauma:  emotional abuse 

Jean-Guy and Peter are both spiraling in this book but I only think one of them is likely to recover…they both have a long way to fall yet, as neither has fully faced up to their traumas and pain.

As a romance reader I’m fascinated by the marriages and relationships in these books and I hope that Gamache isn’t the only one who gets to have a beautiful one. 

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny


After the devastation to Three Pines after the last book where one of its most prominent citizens and beloved recurring character ends up accused of murder by Gamache and his team, it is no surprise that the book starts elsewhere but what is a surprise is that Gamache and many members of his team are on leave, recovering from a devastating event.   Gamache is deeply haunted by what happened to him and his team and Penny slowly rolls it out to readers as Gamache and Beauvoir struggle through the aftermath.   I loved the complicated triple stranded storytelling in this book.  While Beauvoir returns to Three Pines to re-examine the previous case, Gamache is in Quebec City, visiting his old mentor and boss when get caught up in a murder at an forgotten anglophone library, known as the Lit and His.  The murder unearth an even deeper mystery about the final resting place of Samuel de Champlain.  The strands interconnect, tangle and help Beauvoir and Gamache reconnect with themselves and their work while at the same time exploring what it is to live in community and the risks and rewards of engaging rather than hiding from each other.  I was riveted once again.

Every book I read makes me realize just how narrow a view of Three Pines and Gamache we get in the show.


5. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (CIAG #6, WM Quebecois detective) Triple-stranded storytelling, where strands intersect, interconnect, tangle and in the end resolve multiple murders and disappearances across the centuries.  CWs: murder, terrorism, abduction, guns, shooting, prejudice, medical procedures.



Reckless by Lauren Dane

RecklessMiles Brown is a second-generation rockstar who falls hard for the lead singer for their new opening band.  Harlow Martin's band is on the verge of breaking out and stepping out of her Metal-God Dad's shadow and the last thing she needs is to have people thinking she sleeping her way into the top.

BiWM/WW,  Nepo-baby Rockstars 

Cw: Toxic Parent, references to past drug use, Past Trauma: Child Abuse


While I deeply enjoyed seeing glimpses of all my favorite Brown Family and Hurley boys faves, seeing their kids all grown up, I liked the outline of this book a whole lot more than I enjoyed reading it.  While the Brown Family books that were formative in my erom reading days, were brimming with sexual tension, confrontations and conflicts, this book was just muted in comparison.  While there are fights, confrontations, and emotional moments...they just didn't back the same punch...distanced by well-reasoned and well-intentioned inner voices of the protagonists, who process their feelings in the best ways.  I still read any following books, but I'll wait for the library copy like I did with this one.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

3. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny ( CIGM #5 WM Québécois detective) Utterly wrenching.  Greed, fear and secrets combine to into an evil brew that tears into the fabric of Three Pines (CWs : murder, homophobia, past trauma: wars, genocide, war crimes)

This book was heart-wrenching and painful as Gamache has to hear a friend repeatedly lie to him and to keep uncovering their unsavory and unsettling actions.  The book is about self-awareness, guilt regret.  Up to the very last minute I hoped like Gamache did that the truth wasn't what it was and instead one of the many other options considered was indeed the truth.

I loved the continuing secondary storyline featuring Clara and her art.  I loved the choices Clara has to make, and how messy they are.  She is not brave or resolute, but instead hesitant, scared and shocked and all the better for it.

I'll keep coming back to Three Pines as long as they will have me, much like Armand Gamache.

I read the book via KU and listened to the marvelous audio via Scribd (Referral code)

Kindle Unlimited ( affiliate link)

Bear with Me by Mae Marvel

Bear with Me by Mae Marvel

My second book of the year was a #shopmyshelves choice. I got this free novella by Mae Marvel, the pen name for  the writing duo of Ruthie Knox and Anne Mare ( who used to write as Mary Ann Rivers) as newsletter freebie.

A small town on the edge of one of the remotest US National Parks a Park interpreter and resident Kodiak bear expert is inspired to create the Fat Bear Bracket after she develops a fascination for one bear in particular and want everyone to notice her awesome bear-ness.  While she can do countless interviews about the resident bears once her bracket goes viral, but at the same time she can't find the words to speak to Lauren, her next-door neighbor and longtime crush.

The story was wonderful exploration on being, intimacy and trust-building.

I hesitate to label this a PNR because although it features a love interest that can turn into a bear, Marvel choose to intentionally not focus on the mechanics of that.  She changes into a bear and the author encourages you to just go with it, and not overthink, much like Mira is challenged to do.

PNR, Lesbian, White Cis Women. Arborist and National Park Service Interpreter.

Fat Bear Week, mutual pining, big secret, meddling small town, obnoxious friend

No Lore.  (as acknowledged in the content notes)

Story about trust, intimacy, feelings to big to name, and relationships that are worth the risk of pain and complications.

Cw: violence, dangerous interaction with Animals.

Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews

5179fHOeehL._SY346_Kate and Curran are deep into renovating their new home on the Carolina coast, a fresh start for all of them after leaving Atlanta and all its claims behind them. But nothing is never that simple, Kate, Curran and Conlan might be in a new city but they can’t leave themselves behind. They will always help those who need helping and keep those close to them safe…even if it means taking on powerful new foes.

It was just a delight to reconnect with Kate and family. We’ve seen them at fringes of other stories since Kate’s story officially ended…new people have taken their places, others grown into new powers and responsibilities but they are not diminished. They have gone to new places and are taking other roles, in this case safeguarding Conlon’s childhood but when a person is in need, they step up.

The Andrews are a consistent auto-but for me, but I don’t keep up on their weekly blog posts or serialized stories so that I can enjoy them in big delicious gulps. When I got the unsolicited ARC in my inbox just as I finished reading Sweep of the Heart at the end of the year I knew it was going to be great and it didn’t let me down.

Release date Jan 17

CWs: child abductions, violence, gore, murder