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

A Year in Review 2022 — The comfort of community

Looking back nearly every book I read this year involved crime, whatever the genre it was romance, science fiction or mystery.

We all know that cozy mysteries are a thing, and while some of these were cozy, others were more aptly described as thrillers.   The comfort in these were the archetypes (the wise detective, the resilient victim), the beats (shock, suspicions, terror and resolution) and the resolution with its restoration of order if not justice.  However many of these books were also comforting in how the protagonists  ended up enveloped in unexpected community.  That is what I read for the most.

It was so interesting to go back and evaluate what my favorite books of each month were. Most months I can easily identify a favorite but I a few occasions it was harder, because while they were comforting to read at the time I can’t imagine recommending them (see April).  

I’ve spent the last few years reading backlist over frontlist because I mostly read in audio right now. While audio ARCs are more widely available now that than they were a few years ago, I still depend on what is available through Libby (and my multiple library accounts), Audible and Scribd for most of my reading this year. 

My Scribd subscription has more than paid for itself this year.  While I am always loath to spend double digits $$ for backlist audio, that hasn’t even been edited since it was first released (Book blah blah continues in the next CD…), with Scribd I can listen to a half-dozen backlist audiobooks for the price of one book on Audible.  It has really facilitated my binge of Nora Roberts’s Romantic Suspense as so many of her audios while plentiful on CDs at libraries are hard to find in my libraries digital collections.

Despite my backlist binges I did discover several new to me authors this year, both mystery novelists who write mystery series with incredibly engrossing mysteries and expansive supporting casts.   Elly Griffiths, whose three series I very much enjoyed, Harbinder Kaur, Ruth Galloway and the Stephen and Mephisto Mysteries and Louise Penny whose Armand Gamache mysteries have enchanted my December.

The books I most enjoyed reading in 2022:


January:  Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addision. 

February:  Hawaii Magic by Beverly Jenkins

March:  Crowbones by Anne Bishop

April —  I compulsively read the comforting but meh Heather Graham Krewe of Hunters books. Can’t recommend them but they gave me something. 

May : Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

June:  Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

July:  Storm Echo by Nalini Singh

August: Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews

September :  The Villa by Nora Roberts

October:  Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

November:  Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts

December:  Still Life by Louise Penny


Nora Roberts is my reading MVP this year.  Her robust backlist gave me so much to choose from this year within the same sub-genre (Romantic Suspense) that I can only bow in admiration.


Mini-Reviews 2022: December

December reading is like much of the past year. Full of romantic suspense and books by much trusted authors like Nora Roberts, Ilona Andrews and Molly Harper.  I have also begun what will likely be my next binge author, Louise Penny whose Armand Gamache mysteries have completely  charmed me.


111. Nightwork by Nora Roberts (WM/WW, thief, Cw: cancer)  the first 1/3 of this book is all about Booth and his journey into larceny as a child to support his mother dying of cancer.  It is super compelling and I cried so hard. Romance is 2nd chance. Cw:crimes,lies, betrayal.

112. Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts (WM/WW, violinist, Mississippi delta, serial killer, CWs: murder, depictions of racism, racist violence & slurs)


I should have quit this. I guessed the murderer early on & the rest was just a mess. Might do good for this to go out of print.

113. Hidden Riches (WM/WW, cop/antiques dealer, grumpy neighbor/sunshine landlord).  A shipping mishap, an auction & obsessed collector’s minions combine for an engrossing story. Cried buckets at the end. (CWs: grief, rape attempts, guns, murder, past trauma: child abuse )

114. Sweep of the Heart  by Ilona Andrews (UF, WM/WW, intergalactic spouse selection competition!) the innkeeper books are a non-stop roller coaster and this one was a fantastic ride ( CWs: grief, murder, betrayal, violence and shenanigans).

115. Witches get Stuff Done by Molly Harper (audible audio original WM/WW, witch/librarian) When Riley inherits a ghost-stuffed manor, she finds purpose, community & romance. 1st in series (CWs: grief, murder, harassment, secrets) .

116. Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths (Harbinder Kaur #3, contemporary mystery series, lesbian Anglo-Indian DI) A death at a school reunion with ties to a long-ago death of student, untangles memories and relationships (CW: murder, betrayal, buried memories).

117. Still Life by Louise Penny (WM Québécois Detective, small town murder mystery) this has long been on the TBR but finishing the tv series spurred me to meet the real characters. Really rich storytelling (Cw: murder, homophobia, bullying, kidnapping, fatphobia).

118. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache 2, WM, Québécois detective) the first two ep of the book are based on this and wow there is just so much that doesn’t make it in!  Would you know God? Cw: emotional abuse, fatphobia, mental illness, past trauma: abandonment

119. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny (WM Québécois detective, IGM #3) the murder takes a backseat to the machinations of those looking to force Gamache out.  (CWs: fatphobia, murder,betrayal, guns).

120. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (IGM #4, WM, québécois Detective)


A rich estranged family gather and soon one in murdered.  Vastly different than the TV adaptation. 


CWs: murder, child endangerment, emotional abuse, slut-shaming, name-calling.

Mini-Reviews 2022: November

106. The Witness by Nora Roberts ( ND fugitive/small town cop) One night of rebellion, twelve years on the run, and affectionate persistent man who helps find a way to stop running.  I got stuck halfway because I worried so much about how it might go wrong! ( Cw: guns, murders). 11/14/22


107. Voice of Fear by Heather Graham (WM/WW, ghost-seeing FBI) hoping I can let this series go now that I’ve finished this arc.  Lost its charm a while ago.  But hooray for no confederate ghosts in this one!  Cw: murder, human trafficking, kidnapping ( 11/17/22)


108. Public Secrets by Nora Roberts ( WM/WW, rock royalty/cop)  Emma’s tragic childhood in the public eye dominate this WF/thriller.  Had to skim parts! Really enjoyed how messy the Love interest is. 

 Cw: depictions of child abuse, death, grief, drug use, depictions of homophobia, intimate partner, violence, guns, fatphobia 11/ 22/22


109. Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts (WM/WW, serial killer) button-down psychiatrist teams up with cops to stop a religiously motivated murderer. Nora leaves so many sequel bait 2ndary  characters on the table!   So much smoking! Cw: murder, suicidal ideation, grief, guns. 11/25/22

Update:  Ed gets the next book! It wasn’t a standalone after all! Sequel bait pays off! 


110. Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts

Grace is shattered when her sister is violently murdered and she needs to make sense of it by involving herself in the investigation…I loved Ed’s steadfastness as he falls for Grace.  


Cw: slut-shaming, fatphobia, violence, murder, SA