18 May 2020

15 Books; Or What I've Read Lately

Book reviews at Beth Fish ReadsHello all! Hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. I've been missing in action for months on end, but it looks like my life is getting back on track after dealing with a million things in my personal life and work life.

One of the reasons I started my blog back in 2008 was to keep a record of my reading. So today's post is simply a reading reset for me. I didn't write down the title of everything I read over the last few months, so the following list is likely incomplete.

Many of these titles were audiobooks and some were print or digital. Almost all were provided by the publisher, but some I bought. Note that the dates are per Edelweiss; some of the publishing dates for 2020 have been changed and, frankly, I've lost track.

Book reviews at Beth Fish Reads
  • The Angels' Share by Ellen Crosby (Minotaur; Nov. 2019): Although this is the 10th installment in the Wine Country Mystery series set in Virginia, I still enjoyed this fun cozy mystery series that had links to American history and the Masons, as well as to food and wine. I plan to read some of the earlier books in the series.
  • Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman (Ecco, Mar. 2020): This was a light take on a couple coping with the end of their marriage in modern times. They want to split up but can't afford to; fortunately, they're still friendly. Humor softens the deeper issues and the characters' personal growth.
  • The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge (Agora, Nov. 2019): This action-adventure story is set in California and involves a female martial arts expert who is determined to protect abused women. Her current case puts her at odds with the Ukrainian mob; meanwhile she tries to hide her dangerous lifestyle from her elegant Hong Kong-born mother and her restaurant-owing Norwegian American father. It was only okay for me.
Book reviews at Beth Fish Reads
  • Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr (Pajama Press; Oct. 2017): Set in Bronze Age Crete, this is a middle grade story with elements of fantasy that focuses on a girl who rises from the deepest poverty and rejection to save her people. I think younger middle grade readers would like the story; it was a little too juvenile for me.
  • The Grand, Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler by Lisa Shanahan (Allen & Unwin; June 2018): This very fun middle grade story is set in Australia and is all about a young boy who finally finds his courage while on a camping / beach vacation with his family. Highly recommended for family reading or listening.
  • White Feathers by Bernd Heinrich (HMH, Feb. 2020): I love Heinrich's writing and observations about nature. In this book, he examines the nesting and mating behavior of the tree swallows that nest every summer in his backyard in Maine. Fascinating and absorbing.
Book reviews at Beth Fish Reads
  • The Essence of Perfection by Nita Brooks (Mar. 2020): Romantic comedy featuring a world-renown perfumer who must overcome her issues with perfectionism, impostor syndrome, and fear of fully embracing love and life. I liked the characters, the humor, and the underlying themes. Good for those who like contemporary women's fiction.
  • You Can't Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie (Simon & Schuster; Aug. 2020): This was a very twisty and well-done thriller involving stolen identity, family, modern-day cults, and revenge. I was totally fooled by the twists and was fully invested in the fate of our hero.
  • My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman (William Morrow; Aug. 4): This collection of personal essays covers Lippman's journey from newspaper journalist to best-selling mystery writer. The pieces, which are not presented in chronological order, explore motherhood, marriage, and mourning as well as body image and family and a few brushes with the rich and famous. Highly recommended, even if you haven't read her fiction.
Book reviews at Beth Fish Reads
  • Austen Years by Rachel Cohen (FS&G, July 2020): As the subtitle says, this is a "memoir in five novels" and focuses on Cohen's early years of marriage, her father's death, and a very close reading (and rereading) of Jane Austen's fiction. You do not have to be overly familiar with Austen's work to appreciate Cohen's thoughts, though an interest in literature and how it teaches us about an author and her times as well as informs us about our own lives helps. I will be rereading this one.
  • Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (Crown; Aug. 2018): This is the start of a speculative fiction trilogy that I guess would be considered a fantasy, though the magic is slightly steampunky. I loved the bantering humor, the great characters, the unique magical elements, the way characters weren't all bad or all good, the world building ... just give this one a try. Super-duper on audio -- read by Tara Sands.
  • Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton (Grand Central; Jan. 2011): I'm going to be so sad when I finish this series. Even though this is the 25th book about village copper Hamish Macbeth, I've not gotten tired of him, his murder cases, or his beloved Scottish Highlands. As you know, I'm a huge fan of this very light cozy series.
Book reviews at Beth Fish Reads
  • 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown, June 2020): Hilderbrand never disappoints. This summer's novel set on Nantucket is a contemporary take on the "same time next year" theme. The first chapter tells us what happens at the end, and the rest of the novel tells us how we get there. My only complaint is that I have to wait at least six months until I get a new Hilderbrand book. Don't miss this one.
  • Extraordinary People by Peter May (Quercus; May 2016): I decided it was high time I caught up with May's backlist and so I started his Enzo Macleod series, starring a Scottish-born forensic expert who is currently a university professor in France. As you can expect from May, the location and the characters' personal lives are as interesting as the mystery. The premise of the series is that Macleod has made a bet that he can solve seven famous cold case murders. I'm in for the long haul.
  • Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen (Berkley; Sept. 2011): This fourth installment of the Royal Spyness series takes us to Transylvania, where our hero is tapped by the queen to represent England at a noble wedding. Murder and mayhem ensue, along with a little romance. These books are a lot of fun and well worth your time if you need a good escape series.


rhapsodyinbooks 5/18/20, 8:12 AM  

You've read an impressive amount! I've actually read *less* lately, even though I have more time. Seems like reading takes energy and concentration I just don't have. Thanks for the summaries!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 5/18/20, 9:48 AM  

Thank you for sharing these books. I feel like I've lost track of what wonderful new books are coming out now, and this has helped me take a close look at some of the best.

Laurel-Rain Snow 5/18/20, 9:50 AM  

These all look very good, and I did enjoy Separation Anxiety. A nice light one to help deal with my own anxieties.

I must get my hands on You Can't Catch Me and 28 Summers.

Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog.

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/18/20, 10:48 AM  

I have 28 Summers and My Life As A Villianess on my TBR list, glad to hear they are Beth Fish Approved.

bermudaonion 5/18/20, 11:00 AM  

I'm impressed by how much you've read since I'm reading at a turtle's pace. I've only read one of those books - most are new to me.

Kathy Martin 5/18/20, 11:19 AM  

Welcome back. I've missed you. I added a couple of the books you mention to my Audible wishlist since I have only recently discovered audiobooks and am looking for good ones. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

sherry fundin 5/18/20, 12:09 PM  

quite a variety and some good looking books. thanks for sharing and stay safe
sherry @ fundinmental

Vicki 5/18/20, 12:26 PM  

Great list of books! I've added Separation Anxiety, My Life as a Villainess, and the Hamish Macbeth series to my list.

Yvonne 5/18/20, 1:18 PM  

So glad you are back to blogging! Your books all look wonderful, especially the Elin Hilderbrand book. I always enjoy hers.

I hope you have a great week.

Kay 5/18/20, 2:34 PM  

You Can't Catch Me looks good and I've liked other books by that author. Good to see you here and, yes, you've read a lot. Have a good week!

Gilion at Rose City Reader 5/18/20, 2:40 PM  

What a great set of books! I like seeing new books, even if I can't keep up with all of them.

Greg 5/18/20, 6:39 PM  

Separation Anxiety and White Feathers both appeal to me. I've been more interested in birds and observing them as I get older, something I once took for granted or didn't make time for is now a source of interest... go figure haha.

You Can't Catch Me sounds great as well.

Hope you are well and have a fantastic week!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 5/18/20, 8:27 PM  

I've pre-ordered 28 Summers on Audible. I think it will be a mood-booster LOL

Susie | Novel Visits 5/18/20, 9:23 PM  

It's so nice to have you back, Beth. I'm glad life has settled down a bit for you. I know it's been a hard year. I'm currently about three quarters of the way through listening to 28 Summers and I am SO enjoying it. It is the very definition of a perfect summer read.

thecuecard 5/19/20, 12:06 AM  

A nice array of books here. I liked Separation Anxiety ... although there is a lot of anxiety in it. It ended well. I have my eye on the Laura Lippman book .... as it looks good. Thx for the update on these. Glad you are back.

Marg 5/19/20, 6:47 AM  

28 Summers is the one that shouts to me! Glad to see your list of books!

Amanda 5/19/20, 8:39 AM  

I loved Foundryside and can't wait to get my hands on the second book!

crackercrumblife 5/19/20, 9:32 AM  

I love the Hamish Macbeth series!!!! I agree, I never tire of them. :)

Tina 5/21/20, 8:26 AM  

I've been dealing with a chronic medical issue lately and its upturned my reading and diet but I hope, I so hope, things jiggle back to normal soon.

Separation Anxiety- just this week a friend talked to me for ages about her marriage and the situation they are in; can't leave one another as they can't afford it. Friendly terms yet, to me, what a nightmare.

White Feather! So happy you shared this one. Recently bought two bird books by Noah Strycker and I like reading about wildlife. I'll have to get this one too. Love this Austen book and Peter May as well.

thecuecard 5/25/20, 9:07 AM  

I read Separation Anxiety and was surprised the character's verge of a breakdown seemed more than I was expecting .... luckily she pulls a bit out of it by the end. I've been eyeing the Laura Lippman essay book. I didnt realize it was more essays than memoir. thanks.

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