As readers of this blog know, I read a lot of books. A. Lot. That’s a habit I’ve had since childhood. I am word obsessed. If the End of the World were to happen and I had to run to save myself, I would probably stop to read an interesting sign (and perish. Oh well). I rarely buy physical books now, since I own over 4000 books and can barely fit in any more (until I do. See below). So it’s mostly e-books that I link to.
Here are the 19 books I’ve read so far in 2023.
My favorite book (besides some old favorites) to date:
The Book of Everlasting Things by Aanchal Malhotra The Book of Everlasting Things: A Novel – Kindle edition by Malhotra, Aanchal. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Set just before India & Pakistan’s partition and ending in 2017, this historical novel was written by a non-fiction author famous for books about Partition. This is a fictionalization of how the Partition disrupted culture, lives, and loves. Can’t say I loved the book, which works very hard to create an unrequited love story. Very well-written, though.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Cat’s Cradle: A Novel – Kindle edition by Vonnegut, Kurt. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Satire is a hard genre to write, but when it’s done well, it feels as if the world couldn’t exist without out it. Such a book is Cat’s Cradle. The book sends up Cold War-era nuclear hysteria (I grew up in that time, and fully expected bombs to rain down any second), religions that aren’t, and post-apocalyptic love stories. Definitely showing it’s age in terms of language we don’t find acceptable any more.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver Demon Copperhead: A Pulitzer Prize Winner – Kindle edition by Kingsolver, Barbara. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. *Pulitzer Prize winner.
What if David Copperfield grew up in turn of the 21st century Appalachia? That’s the premise of Demon Copperhead—and Kingsolver hews closely to the Victorian-era drama in the best way. Not since “The Beans of Egypt Maine,” have I read such a thoroughly depressing and yet, un-put-downable narrative. But where The Beans ends on a downer, Demon ends on an up.
Fool Moon (Dresden Files Book #2) by Jim Butcher Amazon.com: Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, Book 2) eBook : Butcher, Jim: Books
This continues to be an interesting intersection of Detective Noir and Magic. This outing: 4 different types of werewolves, so you know that it will be a) bloody and b) lots of battles. A bit more battle-centric than I like, but I did like that Dresden gets a love interest besides the un-obtainable police detective. I will continue to read the series. (Book 1 Storm Front Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) – Kindle edition by Butcher, Jim. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by JK Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 5): Rowling, J. K., Kay, Mr. Jim, Packer, Neil: 9780545791434: Amazon.com: Books
This is one of my least favorite Potter books. In 600 pages, there’s about 150 pages of readable story. The rest is adolescent angst and, truly, I was bored with myself when I was 15 – I didn’t need the reminder. This is the last book Jim Kay will illustrate, as he suffers from mental illness and can’t continue. Lovely illustrations.
The Hobbit – 50th Anniversary Edition (slipcase) JRR Tolkein The Hobbit, 50th Anniversary Edition: JRR Tolkien: 9780395454022: Amazon.com: Books
I’ve read The Hobbit every other year since I was 15 (that’s a long time). Dreamt I was traveling with Bilbo and Gandalf. I love this book. Very pleased to have a beautiful slipcased edition.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune In the Lives of Puppets – Kindle edition by Klune, TJ. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Another fine, imaginative novel by this author. Said to be based on the Italian version of Pinocchio, and I see the high points, but it veers so strongly in its own direction, why bother with comparisons? This author takes SF tropes and thoroughly turns them on their heads. I very much enjoyed this one – almost as much as The House by the Cerulean Sea The House in the Cerulean Sea – Kindle edition by Klune, TJ. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. (if you haven’t read this one – do it now!).
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann Amazon.com: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI eBook : Grann, David: Kindle Store
I read about 1 “true crime” book per decade, and this happened to be it because I heard Martin Scorsese has directed a movie about it using native people (and Robert De Niro as the bad guy). A horrifying account of racially-/monetary-motivated wholesale slaughter of the Osage people. As the author states, yes, they got a bad guy who killed around 20 people. But there was a system in place that killed 100s of Osage for their wealth over the course of 40 years.
Lord of the Rings – Special Slipcase editions with maps JRR Tolkein The Lord of the Rings: Special Edition: Tolkien, J.R.R.: 9780063274730: Amazon.com: Books
I have read this trilogy every few years (I tried and failed to read it starting at 17, finally completed it the first time when I was 19). I received this slip-cased edition from my family as a birthday gift, as everyone knows how much I love the books. This edition has original, not seen before pictures and drawings, maps (2!), and some bits of ephemera. Just a lovely volume.
Sex and Sexuality in Ancient Rome by L.T. Trafford (indie author) Amazon.com: Sex and Sexuality in Ancient Rome eBook : Trafford, L. J.: Kindle Store
Were Romans the sexual libertines we’re taught to believe? The answer is both yes and no in this fascinating study of the political/religious/societal study of the uses of sex and power. Often amusing and always thoughtful.
The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo Amazon.com: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Boxed Set: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising: 9781250196231: Bardugo, Leigh: Books
We’ve been watching the Shadow and Bone TV series. As a bookseller, I must have sold 100s of copies, but never really cared until I saw the show. The story has some terrific world-building. I’m not sure I care for the 1st person perspective turning to distant third for the opening and closing chapter. You can tell it’s YA by the lack of sex, and every male she encounters asking to marry her. The second book has a lot of filler and tedious adolescent fretting about boys (by this time, she’s more powerful than any 10 people. I think she can worry about other stuff). The 3rd book the author had written herself into such a corner she was doing bizarre things to characters and then doing some serious handwavium to fix it. Still, an engrossing read.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein Amazon.com: Stranger in a Strange Land eBook : Heinlein, Robert A.: Kindle Store
I have read this book every few years. It’s such ground-breaking writing – hard to imagine it was written in the late 1960s. The Michael character is, of course, fascinating. But the real attraction to me is Jubal Harshaw – one of the best-drawn secondary characters in sci-fi. Always a treat.
The Traitor’s Apprentice (Lord’s Legacy: Book 2) by EM Swift-Hook (Indie Author) Amazon.com: The Traitor’s Apprentice (Lord’s Legacy Book 2) eBook : Swift-Hook, Eleanor: Kindle Store
The second book of the series picks up weeks after the end of the last one (The Mercenary’s Blade Amazon.com: The Mercenary’s Blade (Lord’s Legacy Book 1) eBook : Swift-Hook, Eleanor: Kindle Store). Gideon Lennox (also known as Fox) continues to serve Philip Lord and his band of mercenaries as they gently commandeer a manor that is supposedly cursed. Fox is tasked with solving the murders befalling the household, while trying to figure out Lord, and falling ever more deeply in love with the unobtainable Zahara. A well-written historical novel that makes you feel what civil war Britain must have been like.
The Well of Ascension (Mistborn Book 2) by Brian Sanderson Amazon.com: The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn eBook : Sanderson, Brandon: Kindle Store
The second book of the Mistborn series covers that most intriguing of conundrums: what happens if you actually win the unwinnable battle? Um, nothing great, as it turns out. Vin has her mistborn powers, her boyfriend is king, and the Lord Ruler is dead. Yet everything is in a shambles. Way too much repetition, and hand-wringing instead of doing. Also—can we please have some sex? They’re engaged and barely kiss. Sorry, I won’t be reading more of this rather tedious series. (Book 1 Mistborne Amazon.com: Mistborn: The Final Empire eBook : Sanderson, Brandon: Kindle Store)
The World We Make (Book 2 The Great Cities) N.K. Jemison Amazon.com: The World We Make: A Novel (The Great Cities Book 2) eBook : Jemisin, N. K.: Kindle Store
While not as amazing as the first book (genesis stories are my favorite of the superhero genre), this completes the arc started in book one The City We Became Amazon.com : The City We Became. Complex, interesting world building that I wish she would continue. Resolution was not a battle, which I am really happy about.
And don’t forget my paranormal romance /Urban Fantasy series The Heirs to Camelot
Here’s what the reviewers are saying about each book:
Summary: The Priestess of Camelot, prequel. Anya, a pagan priestess of the Nordic Rus tribes, leaves her home country and arrives in Britain. There, she joins the sisterhood of Avalon, headed by the scheming Morgaine.
When Anya runs afoul of the Avalonian high priestess she is sent to Camelot to spy on the court while acting as healer. But there, she falls in love with the High Druid, Merlin, and King Arthur, bearing sons to both of the great men of her time.
After losing both of the men she loves to Morgaine’s treachery, she embarks on a plan that unfolds over the next 1,500 years to return Goddess worship to the island nation and save it from a danger Anya can see but cannot understand. The Priestess of Camelot is the prelude to the Heirs to Camelot series, and sure to thrill fans of Arthurian lore.
Reviews: “From the first sentence Simonds pulls you into a fantastic narrative.” ~ Melissa Brus, Paranormal Romance Review – 5 STARS Nominated for 2019 Paranormal Romance Review Reviewer’s Choice Awards
[The Priestess of Camelot] is another engaging, enjoyable, and easy read. Simonds’ presentation is confident and consistent. Trying this book could well launch you into many hours of follow-up entertainment from a new favourite author. ~Norman Turrell, internet reviewer.
Summary: The Midsummer Wife, Book 1. After a nuclear attack on London that heralds The Time Foretold, Ava Cerdwin, the high priestess in charge of fulfilling a 1,500-year-old prophecy, must assist the heirs of King Arthur and Merlin in healing the devastated country.
The descendants of Britain’s great men of legend have kept the myths and relics for sixty-one generations, but no one is quite clear on what they must do next.
Nothing goes as planned: Ava falls for the wrong heir, the panic attacks are getting worse, the complex obligations of reincarnation are straining old relationships, and Morgaine and her henchwomen are trying to kill them. Somehow, some way, Ava has to make the Healing happen, or Britain is finished.
Reviews: “The Midsummer Wife is an imaginative, well-written urban fantasy, with a beautiful book cover, and flawed characters who must face their past and come to terms with the truth. [It is] enthralling, with captivating, complex characters you want to succeed.” ~ Books & Pals
“The opening chapter of this book may be one of the best openings I’ve read in a long time. It’s taut, pacy, and introduces us to an assured and determined Ava. Except that’s just a mask – in truth, she’s beset by anxiety and agoraphobia, a fractured soul trying to hide her weaknesses because she knows the fate of the country, perhaps the world, rests on her shoulders.” ~ Altered Instinct blog, 5 STARS
Summary: The Solstice Bride, Book 2. It’s been twenty years after the Healing that restored Britain following a nuclear attack, but things are not as they should be.
The dark priestess Morgaine has taken over the queen’s body, humiliated the king, and defeated his closest advisor and ally. She’s now the undisputed authoritarian leader of a dystopian nation.
Falke Drunemeton has been in exile, biding his time, and studying the wisdom of the Goddessians. In a desperate mission to restore the rightful ruler, he must convince Morgaine’s daughter, Princess Ravenna, to travel back in time with him to stop her.
As the depravity of Morgaine’s plans unfold, Falke finds himself falling in love with Ravenna. But victory over the monstrous usurper means changing the nation’s fate – along with his own. Will he be able to convince Ravenna to destroy her own mother? And if she does, will he ever forgive himself?
Review: “I enjoyed the heck out of [The Solstice Bride]. I hope Simonds can gain some traction as an author. She’s at least as good, if not better, than some fantasy authors already getting big book deals.” The Bibliophage.
Summary: In Mistress of the Rose Moon Book 3, the final installment of the Heirs to Camelot series, Britain has sustained 27 years of a glorious renaissance: New London is beautiful, the economy is dynamic and fair, a strong King Arthur II and Queen Ava rule and are world leaders. But then the Holy Grail appears, challenging the heirs for the final time.
Initially, all the Heirs – Sibbie, Falke, and Arawn for the Goddess, and William Kasdeya for Adramelech – seem to get along. But as Kasdeya falls further under the Dark Lord’s sway, the trials become more dangerous, and death is a breath away.
Can they get all the keys to the Grail before Midsummer night, or will Kasdeya kill them all and Adramelech will rule the world?
Reviews: [Mistress of the Rose Moon] is written in a gripping style that captures the reader’s attention with its involved and realistic character interactions. It progresses at a steady pace with an ever-building sense of dread, from the enemy within their midst to the potential for the new era being brought crashing down into a world of intolerance and persecution. If you like a book that merges the past and past lives with the plot, and a healthy dose of mystery, suspicion, challenges, and surprises, then this book is worth a read. ~ K.J. Simmill for Readers’ Favorite 5 STARS
Mistress of the Rose Moon is a unique mix of fantasy, Science Fiction, legend and history, magic and ‘reader’s zen,’ as I call it; a wonderful calming story, full of fascination, peace, light and positivity… stirred up with darkness, opposition, evilness, and the fight Good vs. Evil… A well-written and well-told story, and a worthy finale to the series. ~ Paranormal Romance Review 5 STARS
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