My February Reading 2023

We’ve had less snow than most. I expected to see our tree like this but we’ve only had hard frosts and bitter cold. This pic was taken in a snowier year.

Books by authors I already knew.

The recommended:

The Narrow Door by Joanne Harris***** Brilliant writing. I love her unreliable narration – sometimes deliberate and other times unconscious on the part of the narrator. This novel had a lot in common with Gentlemen and Players, the first book in the Malbry series. It’s a psychological thriller that investigates a death that occurred half a century ago through the eyes of the sister of the deceased and one of her staff at St. Oswald’s. The suspicion builds and builds but we are never sure till the very end. Like Stephen King, Harris has a knack for drawing the reader into a strange but recognisable world and every chapter is like attending a master class in the art of writing.

Warning: Deep Water by AL Lester ***** A brilliant novella set just post WWII -probably perfect. Second Wind**** is also good. The title refers to a position in an orchestra. The Celtic Myths series **** was excellent. I had already read and enjoyed Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, so I borrowed the rest of these short stories from KU. (As the crows fly, Taking flight, Surfacing again, and Playing chicken.) They’re delightful romances with various LGBT+ combinations. The author has taken elements of myths and woven them into contemporary tales. The writing in these and the longer novellas is beautiful and the author is good at creating believable characters in fairly short pieces.

Claiming Rys by Annabelle Jacobs**** A well written and exciting beginning to a series about shifters, witches and fae living in and around Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire (somewhere I once visited frequently). I liked the characters and the careful explanations of skills, magic, etc. and I will be following the series.

Chainsaw Heart by Kiernan Kelly**** A sweet ff romance with just enough drama to keep it interesting all the way through. I’ve always liked Kiernan’s writing and this was no exception.

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness**** A return to the world of the All Souls trilogy which I loved. This was equally gripping (it even invaded my dreams) but I didn’t feel as concerned about Phoebe and Marcus as I did about Diana and Matthew, and would have liked Diana and her family to have featured more in this volume. I also found the structure, with the book hopping between the eighteenth century and the present day slightly jarring at times. So although I love the ‘world’ the author has created, and her very complex vampire, witch and daemon characters, this volume doesn’t quite make the five star pantheon.

Melody of the Snow by Blake Allwood **** For once I dithered about awarding four stars to this author but the book was beautifully written and kept me engaged. It’s just that it had, for me, too little drama. Family and career decisions don’t really enthuse me the way crime or the paranormal do. However, as a romance, with a lot of detailed and interesting information about a number of things like the hotel/resort business, drag queens, and singing careers, I knew it should be recommended.


Driven Snow by Tara Lane*** I’m on the fence about this. Tara Lane is a good writer and I wanted to see what she did with a ‘twist’ to the story of Snow White, particularly because I did an mm version myself (Silkskin and the Forest People). It was clever and at times exciting but was at heart a college story which doesn’t appeal to me much. Recommended for those attracted to tales like that.

Books by authors new to me.


From the cradle by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss**** A really good exciting police procedural involving child snatching, with interesting characters and unexpected twists and turns. Well written with a lot of fascinating psychological insight into motives and reactions. I will be looking for the next in the DI Lennon series.

Spell it out by Andy Gallo **** Plenty of drama and romance in this short mm paranormal novel. I will probably get the sequel as I liked the main characters and the minor ones too. There was perhaps too much explicit sex for a short piece but it was at least counterbalanced by magic and angst.


Muted Chords by Samuel York*** A disappointing addition to the Rocktoberfest series. This was quite a sweet romance though it really seemed like lust rather than love at first sight and the author didn’t make me believe in a HEA. There was very little about the way the music industry works, and the drama that enlivened the plot was unlikely and poorly explained. Readable, but only just. 

In Tune by Elle Keaton*** Another Rocktoberfest novel Again, less background information than I would have liked but the characters were interesting and the plot was pleasing.

The Running Girls by Matt Brolly*** I ended up mostly skimming this crime story set on the island of Galveston off the coast of Texas because there was a lot of repetition. The events, most of which took place during a hurricane, were quite exciting but I resented the way a totally new character was introduced quite late in the story and used as the explanation for everything.

New Edge Sword and Sorcery Issue #0 *** Some very gory stories and some interesting articles. This was an ARC I read and reviewed for Scott’s Liminal Fiction group and although I found the articles quite fascinating I might not have continued with the stories if I hadn’t felt obliged by my commitment to review.

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons *** Interesting plot and resolution. Some gratuitously unpleasant scenes. I think it would have been better to let the reader investigate alongside the police rather than showing flashback interludes from the pov of one of the criminals. Not terribly well written. I won’t be following the further exploits of DI Kim Stone.


Interviews with an ape by Felice Fallon** I was really disappointed in this. I requested it as a Christmas gift but had obviously misunderstood the blurb and reviews. To begin with, I knew I was getting a fictional account of interviews with a gorilla who learnt to sign. Fine – and interesting. But the interviews were, it turned out, interviews the gorilla managed to have with a pig, a foxhound, an orca and an elephant. Nobody ever said how he managed this. I’m sure the stories were based on true events but they didn’t ‘change my mind’ (as one reviewer suggested) – I, along with almost anyone who would read this in the first place, already deplore cruelty to other species. I know classics like Black Beauty, or more recently Babe, have changed attitudes but both were consistent within their fictional worlds. This wasn’t. This is Ms Fallon’s first novel and I won’t read any more by her.

And not for me:

The Congressman’s Whore by Nacht and Clancy. Abandoned. A kind of mm version of Pretty Woman with an added political agenda. Far too much very boring sex. I assume they got together at the end and didn’t want to follow the journey.

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