Continuing with my mini review’s theme of just a really weird mix of things, today I’ve got YA crime, nonfiction, a historical romance, poetry and a contemporary romance. I’m running a little behind on these posts at the moment, so these are all from mid-November but without further ado let’s get into them.
The Killing Code by Ellie Marney
This was probably my most anticipated book of the entire year. I have been a long-time fan of Ellie Marney, but I also can’t turn down a good WWII book or anything sapphic—and well, here’s the trifecta. With all said, I have to admit this isn’t my favourite of Ellie’s so far. It’s fantastic, I loved it, but I just don’t think anything will live up to the Every series for me reading this also reignited my love for Ellie’s last book—None Shall Sleep. But like I said, this is fantastic. I loved the characters, particularly our main lead, Kit. I really enjoyed the romance as well, and it was a fun little murdery book. I also really liked the discussion of class and race in here—it never feels forced or cheap, but Ellie never shies away from difficult topics, so I knew I’d be in safe hands with her already. I also loved the codebreaking aspect, I’ve never read anything about it before but it was fascinating and just really fun to read. What I’m getting at is there’s really nothing wrong with this book at all—there was nothing I disliked even a little. It’s definitely lighter than anything Ellie has done before which is definitely more up my alley, so I thought this would be my favourite but I don’t know, I guess I like the darker, gritter murders as long as it’s Ellie Marney at the helm…who would’ve thought?
The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander
Like a lot of the other reviews you’re going to see in this post and over the next few, I found this one because of the Goodreads Choice Awards. It was nominated for Best Non-Fiction, and it was the only one in that category that stood out to me—I pretty much immediately borrowed the eBook from the library and started reading. These are a collection of short stories, apparently expanded upon something Alexander wrote for the New Yorker—I’m not aware of that piece or which parts of this come from there, but I was definitely struck by this. Alexander’s writing is beautiful and I loved her inclusion and discussion of both poetry and art—I immediately added a bunch of new poets, writers and artists to look up. The book is quite short, but there’s a lot of heart to it and it’s definitely worth picking up. Unfortunately, I really struggled with the formatting of the eBook—pages are split by the images which meant sometimes it seemed like the end of the essay only for it to continue a few pages lately and it really disturbed the flow. If possible, I’d really recommend picking up a physical copy of this instead of the eBook because I personally felt that ruined some of the cohesion, emotion and power of the essays. But beyond that, this was a really fantastic and moving read.
How To Woo A Reluctant Lady (The Hellions of Halstead Hall #3) by Sabrina Jeffries
I can’t believe I finally got around to continuing this series after accidentally taking almost an entire year between the last book and this one. I did start this one in December of last year, but I got distracted, and I wasn’t really feeling this so it went back onto my shelves. I picked it up a few times this year but decided about three weeks ago just to start it from the beginning again, and it worked. I did struggle a bit because I’d kind of forgotten which of the siblings was which, but that’s definitely just me having a terrible memory. I do remember loving Minerva in the other books—she’s a fantastic character, she’s snarky and writes Gothic fiction, and honestly, that’s all I’ve ever wanted in a historical heroine. I’m a little sad that we didn’t get to hear as much about her writing as I thought, but at the same time, too much of it could’ve ruined the story. I love the relationship between her and Giles—lots of banter, enemies to lovers, fake dating, they’ve got it all. I think the only thing I didn’t love was the overarching mystery of this series—it started to bore me a little in this one and I just really wanted it to be over. That being said, I’m glad to be back with the Sharpe siblings and I’m looking forward to book four, hopefully in the next week and a half.
Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years by Joy Harjo
This was my first foray into Joy Harjo’s work—I’ve been wanting to pick something up for ages but she has such an extensive backlist that I didn’t know where to start. When this one was nominated for Best Poetry in the Goodreads Choice Awards, it seemed like a good enough place to start. I want to mention first the foreword from Sandra Cisneros—it felt so warm and loving towards Harjo that it was honestly making me a little emotional. I think had I not previously been interested in Harjo’s work, that introduction would have completely sold me on it. I loved the poems that followed—Harjo’s writing is just beautiful, completely haunting but also hopeful. They felt extremely powerful and emotional. I’m honestly just really blown away by them, I had this feeling I’d like Harjo so it’s nice to see that come true. I’m planning to go back and read some of her backlist work now, but I think after reading a few of those, it’d be nice to revisit this collection since it’s meant to encapsulate her long career. I’m really hoping I get the chance to pick something else up before the end of the year, but we’ll see whether I can manage that between everything else I need to finish up.
Forrest for the Trees (Green Valley Heroes #1) by Kilby Blades
This is one of the books from RARE Melbourne 2023 (a romance event I’ll be attending next year) that immediately grabbed my eye. It’s one of the books from Smartypants Romance which is a collaborative writing where authors can publish books set in the literary universe of Penny Reid—it’s sort of like the MCU where stories follow different characters, and they’re written by different people. I’ve only read one Penny Reid before and this was also my first try reading something from that universe, but I’m definitely interested in trying some of the others. This has a really interesting premise—it follows a park ranger, Sierra, and the fire marshall, Forrest in a bit of an enemies-to-lovers situation while they investigate a set of what seems to be deliberately lit fires in their national park. I actually really liked that part—I’ve never read anything like that in a romance before and as an Australian, I’ve lived through some pretty awful bushfire seasons. I really enjoyed the banter between Forrest and Sierra as well, the only place this really fell flat for me was in the smutty department—it seemed like it was getting towards some good stuff but it was just glossed over in the end. I’ll be continuing with the Penny Reid universe, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed in this one.
And there we are for today, my friends. Have you read any of these? What have you been reading lately?