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The Last Chance Library

More light fiction set in a library/bookstore! This one is about saving a small library in the UK, which many librarians know is still an ongoing thing. Our protagonist is a librarian without much of a life, who finds her voice and helps her community. Sweet and straightforward, goes nowhere surprising, doesn’t end quite like you think or maybe like you want, but a good read in these tough times

The Scorpion’s Head

A Flemish thriller! This was a really interesting take on the “dark web hitman network” idea that I also saw in R3eaper. What if a hitman decided, for their own ethical reasons, and then becomes a target themselves? Surprisingly non-gruesome despite the topic and some pretty tough story lines. Felt a little too pat in some places because you’re in the “Grappling with people with nearly infinite resources” category. I’d definitely read more by this author.

The Bitter Taste of Murder

Figured I’d try the next book in this series and see how I liked it. I liked it! This one involves the death of a wine reviewer with a fancy wine blog and a large number of people who could have done it. A lot of ins and outs but the same general cast of characters. Engaging. More good food descriptions.

Murder in Chianti

Very similar to the Inspector Bruno books, or like a cross between those and the Commissario Guido books. However there is a little less machismo and a few more female characters, and it’s set in Italy and not France. Also unlike the Bruno books there aren’t so many loanwords inserted in italics as if it’s important to use the foreign word for certain things that also have words in English. Nico is a “retired” policeman, recently, widowed, who moves back to his late wife’s homeland, in small town Italy and gets wrapped up in a mystery. Lots of good foods. Faithful pup companion. Enjoyed it, especially the nuances about people from different parts of Italy.

The Lost for Words Bookshop

I will read nearly any book set in a library or bookstore. This was an above-average one of the genre with a female protagonist with a dark/murky past that you gradually learn about. She does have some friends despite her generally low-seeming self-esteem. Meets a guy, pushes him away, some stuff happens. It works out. Some wordy tattoos which were, surprisingly, my least favorite part of this.. Some poetry. Well told.

The Peacekeeper

I both loved this book for its central theme--a non-colonized but modern day US, all Native characters--but also had issues with some of the mental health tropes that rubbed me the wrong way. People who are used to these tropes in writing, tropes that blame the mentally ill despite the mentally ill more often being the victims of crimes than the perpetrators--can see these coming a mile away. A lot of sorrow in this book. A great read and an interesting story.

LaserWriter II

A loving novelization of one of NYCs best Mac repair places, a place that really exists. Anyone who was around in the early Mac years will appreciate this nostalgia trip and all the tiny details that made us Mac lovers to begin with. There’s very little actual story here and I’m not sure that matters.

The Wreck of the William Brown

If you grow up with a sailor dad you may have read more than your average share of shipwreck books. This is about a ship that hit an iceberg & sank without enough lifeboats. Some passengers went down with the ship. Others got into the lifeboats only to be tossed overboard to die. This book spells out the whole situation, from who was on the boat, to what happened when it sank, to the murder of some of the lifeboat passengers, to the weird set of decisions about how to seek legal justice for those murders. And then, finally, some of the ramifications of what was decided. Interesting to note that there was a time before an honorable captain was supposed to go down with the ship.


Chaon has this fascinating ethereal style that he brings to stories usually not getting that treatment. This one has an oddly sympathetic murderer at the heart of it, working out some shit about what family means, against a backdrop of a dystopian future US. You don’t know quite what happened and his life’s story comes out in dribs and drabs but its all very interesting even as our protagonist does not at all seem like someone you’d want to spend time with. Quite well done.

Book Lovers

Henry writes lightweight books you can read on vacation and they are fun and interesting. This book goes nowhere unfamiliar which is just fine. The author really enjoys Hallmark movies and wanted to write a book about the other side of the equation: the person back home whose significant other falls for someone in some cutesy small town. This story is not quite that, but close and it was actually a fun read.

Button Pusher

A graphic novel about being diagnosed with ADHD before it was really a thing. Page went through a lot of “What is WRONG with that kid?” interactions with the medical establishment before getting a good diagnosis that was helpful. And he’s got a home life that is sort of messy with a dad with a tempeer problem who may be part of the problem as much as he also needs some help. A combination memoir and good factual information about lots of aspects of ADHD. Engaging and interesting.

Iced in Paradise

I enjoyed this mystery based in Hawai’i, 1st in a series. The main character speaks in pidgin with her family/friends (and not with strangers) but narrates the story in Standard English and it was a bit of a stumbling point for me trying to understand what was being said and why the author chose to make that split in that way. Reading the afterword it seems that the author herself doesn’t speak this way (though she had sensitivity readers who okayed this) and maybe that was why it felt weird. A good story, with good characters who have complex relationships with their family, with their community, and with outsiders.

In the Land of Invented Languages

A great fun and funny look at the history of some of the bigger-name invented languages, what makes them work and not work and who were some of the personalities behind them. Okrent is a linguist, so she actually gets involved with some of these languages, tries to pass a Klingon proficiency tests, attends an Esperanto conference. She has a good sense of humor about a lot of this but also bring s a lot of good background knowledge to the topic, so her takes are well worth reading.


A pretty straightforward technothriller about the upsides and downsides to having unlimited funds to work on your dreams, but there’s always some kind of a catch. A somewhat pat ending but not too terrible. Some interesting ideas of the ramifications of totally anonymous online payments and what you could potentially buy. Sort of one evil overlord and the people beholden to him. I’ve liked Peper’s other books and I liked this one even more.

The Bangalore Detectives Club

I loved this book which took place in 1920s Bangalore. So many great colors, and so many rich smells described. There are real friendships between the women and the woman gets along well with her husband. She’s a female protagonist in a supportive relationship who likes to untangle mysteries which they eventually work on together. So good.