December Reviews 2022

Daughter’s dog unwraps his new dinosaur in our lounge.

TV and books for December. I’ve put them all into one post for New Year’s Eve.

TV

Castle Howard : Through the Seasons. ***** (All4) 4 episodes. A no brainer because I worked there every sixth form and uni holiday as a tour guide, and one of the Howard boys was in my mother’s class when she taught in a private school for a while. (Not sure if it was the current owner.) A nostalgia trip and it was interesting to see how the current owner is altering the way the estate works.

Jews Don’t Count (David Baddiel)*****(All4) Based on the book with the same title by the presenter. (I added it to my KU wishlist). Thoughtful discussion of why and how Jews in modern UK and US have an uphill struggle against antisemitism. I have now read the book and will review it too (see below). Sadly, it didn’t live up to the programme.

Death in Paradise Christmas Special **** Despite the fact that the plot was less complex than usual, I enjoyed the Christmas ghost story vibe of this long episode.

The History of Now (BBC iPlayer) Simon Schama *** The very long introductions to the three episodes confused me since they were all the same. I think I’ve watched all three, possibly in the wrong order. There were some interesting moments but I’m not sure I learnt or retained a great deal.

Planet Sex with Cara Delavigne (BBC iPlayer) *** I’ve watched about half of the series and keep meaning to return to the rest but the fact that I haven’t probably says a lot.

Prince Andrew: The Musical*** Half watched while multi-tasking. Quite good but not really memorable music, and as the Guardian review said, it almost sanitised some really nasty stuff.

Reading

I have read a lot of short stories, some from ‘advent calendars’ and others in magazines such as New Statesman (Alan Garner) and New Scientist. After a while, Christmas offerings seem to blur and I haven’t listed them all here. I enjoyed them, and offer thanks to all the authors who gave their work to readers, but you’d get bored with a rundown on ‘pleasant Christmas story’ repeated with some alternative ways of saying it, over and over again.

Books

The Best:

Death in Heels by Kitty Murphy***** Fab – murder, drag, mm and mf romance, found and real families and their drama, Dublin setting. This was an Amazon First Read (Prime subscribers get a free or discounted book every month) so was in among a number of other mainstream books. I’m so glad I chose it and I was pleased to see the issues it raised in a mainstream setting.  Will definitely look for the sequels.

bad data by georgina sturge***** Amazing detailed look at the data that underpin government (by all parties) by a statistician at the House of Commons Library. This was a Christmas present (my family know me…) and I devoured it straight away. 

Also excellent: If you’re only going to buy one, go for the charity anthology which has lots of stories which range from good to remarkable and is in a good cause!

Consider Pegasus (Si Clarke)**** A very enjoyable sequel to The Left Hand of Dog, and Judgement Dave. I had an ARC copy to read and review for J Scott Coatsworth’s Liminal Fiction FB group and left a much more detailed review there (14th December). In the footsteps of ‘greats’ like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, Si Clarke uses apparently light hearted sci fi to explore serious social issues. This one is centred  on the question of whether a unicorn or a pegasus should be allowed to exist. 

Kind Hearts at Christmas ed. Liam Livings**** It isn’t often an anthology gets four stars from me. Christmas romance (mm) stories collected by the editor and sold in aid of HIV and AIDs charities. Some of the authors were new to me and others were familiar. I think this is possibly the first anthology I’ve read where every story is at least readable, and some are brilliant. If I had to choose a favourite it would be Clare London’s Santa Number Five with its clever echoes of Hot Fuzz and its air of mystery until quite late in the story. But I was also totally intrigued by Jack Pyke’s paranormal world(s) in Holly and the Heathen and would like to know more.

The Best Gift by Eli Easton**** I thought/feared this was going to be another ‘just a romance’. However, there was enough excitement to add a star to a well written story set in a Christmas ‘wonderland’ with gifts and trees.

The Christmas Leap by Keira Andrews. **** Pleasing friends to lovers story with a few dramatic moments to raise it above the general over-sweetness of the season. Michael and Will have been best friends for years, until Michael ‘ghosts’ his friend. Then Will needs to rescue Michael and they both realise what they’ve been missing.

The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott**** A cop rescues a young man thrown out by his family for being gay. Nice story with extra interest in the form of cartoon style illustrations added for this special edition.

The Santa Problem by Barbara Elsborg**** Lovely Christmas story with magic and reindeer. I would actually have liked a little more about the magic but enjoyed it enormously anyway.

Christmas in January by Charlie Cochrane**** It was great to see Dan and Steve again after their first book, Don’t Kiss the Vicar. I enjoyed catching up with them, and with their problems. I hope the author will continue to let us know how things are going.

Some other books worth considering:

Life is Right Here by Sophia Soames*** Lost a star because despite  a HEA (or maybe HFN) ending, I was constantly distressed by the illness of one of the characters I’d loved in the first book so didn’t enjoy the read. I wished, almost to the end, that I hadn’t read it in the run up to Christmas because I was getting so upset. Yes, it warned for triggers, but I didn’t expect that to be such a huge part of the plot. Very well written and the two intertwined families are incredibly real. I suppose that’s why it upset me so much! Recommended but you have been warned!

The Emperor’s Aeronaut by Shelley Adina and RL Scott*** Fascinating world building – steampunk during the Napoleonic wars. I was less impressed by the characters and much preferred Adina’s series Magnificent Devices set in Victorian times (also steampunk). I’ve written a fuller review for Scott’s group.

A Badger’s Tale by Geoff Francis*** This was saved by the illustrations, gorgeous photographs by the late Eric Ashby. The story of Liam becoming a badger shifter, followed by the story of the badger clan, is interesting but I never managed to suspend disbelief. Then the whole thing just sort of petered out so I was left wanting more badgers, more about Liam as an adult, more photographs and more in general!

Don’t you want me by Liam Livings*** Technically well written mm office romance but for reasons I can’t work out, this author doesn’t make me care about the main characters. The same was true of their story in the Kind Hearts at Christmas anthology.

Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel*** Gained a star by being totally worthy. I loved the TV programme but found the book badly structured and hard to follow properly. Whilst Baddiel makes some very valid points about the way antisemitism is separated from other ‘isms’ and treated as less important, he seems to be almost rambling about things he has read or seen, which have (not surprisingly) offended him rather than formulating any kind of plan to deal with them either politically or in argument between friends etc. A large portion of the book concerned the current attempt to right past wrongs by using e.g. deaf actors to play deaf characters and actors of colour to play characters of colour but never any effort to cast actual Jews as Jewish characters. I came away confused as to his actual opinions on the issue as a whole. An interesting book but one that I suspect was only preaching to the converted and had little to offer in the way of putting things right.

The Cottage in the Highlands by Julie Shackman*** I enjoyed this slow burn mf romance set in Glasgow and surrounds (not exactly the Highlands but still…). The story was quite convoluted, involving a couple of investigations (Leonie is a journalist) but the book lost a star for two reasons. One was the rather clumsy punctuation of dialogue, and the other was the epilogue which was really the end of the main story rather than a ‘later’ addition, and was very rushed.

No fanfiction this month other than Small_Hobbit’s Christmas Hamlet which was as amusing as usual, but tbh only got read at all because the chapters kept landing in my inbox. https://archiveofourown.org/works/43358580

I have not managed to read all the free stories I’ve been offered this month. I must do better and maybe at least get to the end of the Christmas themed ones in January. As for my tbr pile, I leave it to your imagination!!

Tipsy Hedgehog

A very boozy fun pudding which is so easy it’s stupid.

I have no idea of the origin of this but have been making it for what seems like forever so probably got the idea from my mother or grandmother. It’s different and reasonably spectacular. Yours might be better looking than mine… (It will depend on your time/patience.) It is only suitable for adults or teenagers who are physically big enough to cope with alcohol. I can’t imagine doing it without alcohol though I suspect cranberry juice might make an alternative if you’re teetotal or catering for children.  

Take a packet of digestive biscuits and crush them. I put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin. Don’t worry if you don’t create uniform crumbs. Now put them in a bowl and pour on port  – maybe two wine glasses full. Stir, cover and leave to soak.

A few hours later, turn the mess out onto the plate you intend to serve the thing on and shape it into a hedgehog shape i.e. domed with a flatter pointed bit at one end for the nose.

Cover the dome with whipped cream, leaving it messy and peaked for prickles. Grate dark chocolate onto the cream to look like the tips of the prickles. Use chocolate buttons for the eyes and nostrils.

Eat in fairly small quantities. I did it for Boxing Day. Grandchild, who is 14 and adult-sized, didn’t like it because they said it sort of burnt their throat… Everybody else was very happy.

Season’s Greetings, Everyone!

This little fellow really was in our garden, minus the hat, which of course I added… He or she was there again yesterday.

You might remember that two years ago I posted my favourite seasonal songs – one a day throughout December. Well, they’re all still available on a Spotify playlist – look for Jay Mountney and my Christmas playlist or just click on the link. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5lFmYh4kYaA1O3VQq6oVRx

I should perhaps warn some of you that there are very few carols. If, like me, you listen to Classic FM (because the car and kitchen radios are tuned to that and I’m lazy) we hear lots of carols anyway. Most of my favourite stuff concerns things like the winter solstice or maybe humour like wanting a hippopotamus. Another warning is that it takes over three hours to play the whole list. But anyway, if you forgot to save any of your own favourites last time, you can find them again!

I wish you all a really happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate. Our big celebration is actually Meanwhile, relax and enjoy yourselves!

The Tape. Review of a lovely film.

The Tape.

Directed by Martha Tilston, this is a feel-good film about a romance set in Cornwall. Martha is also the lead actor, and the singer. There is an album of the same name featuring all the songs from the film. I only came across it all because my husband met Martha and some of her friends on a business trip to Cornwall and came home determined I should watch. I did, and I enjoyed the experience very much. Martha is, of course, a performer (she tours as a singer) but she is not primarily an actor and perhaps as a result the character in the story comes across as very real and fresh, not at all glamourised for the screen. The plot is quirky, with moments of extreme humour and others of pathos. There’s a happy ending, and there are morals to be learnt from what happens to Tally, Martha’s character. Tally starts as ‘a crazy cleaner in wellies’ living in a van and ends up in a much better or at least more comfortable place. Leo, the romance interest, is equally fascinating and also has a lot to learn and to gain. The Cornish coastal scenery is lovely, and to watch at this time of year transports you to summer and a gentle pace of life.

I would recommend this highly. You can rent or buy the film from YouTube. We bought the YouTube copy so that we can watch again and perhaps show other family members. It deserves wider distribution and I promised to blog about it. So here you are! My film of the month.

November reading: 2022

Desperately trying to read the menu in the dimly lit but gorgeous restaurant where we went for my husband’s birthday. Fortunately we all had our phones with flashlights!!

New and old authors all together this time. No fanfiction.

Familiar authors – a clutch of highly recommended books this month.

Superb.

The Crofton Chronicles by Rebecca Cohen***** I had already read The Actor and the Earl but borrowed the box set from KU to get the two sequels, Duty to the Crown, and Forever Hold his Peace. I became totally immersed in the Tudor world, finding faint echoes of Twelfth Night (theatre and cross dressing) and Hunt’s The Bisley Boy (cross dressing and secrecy), and absolutely loving Anthony and Sebastian all over again. The author’s research is impeccable, and I am really looking forward to The Love and the Anger. If you enjoy historical novels with a smattering of crime and a heavy dose of romance, you won’t be disappointed.

‘Merely’ excellent

Sleeping Dogs by AL Lester**** Nice, well written ff short story with a focus on local myths and legends.

Three’s Company by Kristian Parker**** Another trip to an English village. Perfectly recreated and I felt I was back in a similar place where I grew up (also in Yorkshire). The romance is lovely but never overwhelms the other events in the lives of the three main characters who have to deal with family problems and in Andrew’s case a vengeful ex. Very satisfying.

Upside Down by NR Walker**** Delightful romance with a lot of humour, some interesting minor characters, a couple of fighting fish and a cactus called Spike. This was a great introduction to the world of asexuals. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hidden Blade by Kaje Harper**** I had never realised but it appears I really really like novels about rock stars and members of bands. Not just this and others in the current Rocktoberfest mm romance collection but others by various authors such as Jackie Keswick and NR Walker. There is something very satisfying about seeing ‘stars’ from different angles – the public persona and the private individual – and following the varying levels of technical support needed to bring music into our lives. This book was no exception and I loved it. I really felt for Cam/Blade and his inability to socialise or appear in public. A great story and although I don’t imagine there’s a sequel, somewhere in my head and heart there’s a fan of this imagined group hoping Hellsbane and Blade will go from strength to strength! I have the rest of the Rocktoberfest books on my KU list and will get to them soon.

Life is good and other lies by Sophia Soames**** An excellent novel. The slow character development is fascinating and the location is brought vividly to life. Two gay couples and their children holiday in Sweden. Everybody has problems, major or minor. I’m sure all readers of every gender will be able to relate to one or other of the characters. The holiday begins to create solutions, and there is a sequel, ten years later, due soon. That promises to be interesting, too. I found the progression rather slow at times but think that was because I was, for various reasons not related to the story anxious to finish the book. I still think some scenes could do with slightly tighter writing but overall this was a magical book.

Reasonable Doubt by Gregory Ashe**** A great addition to the series. The couple, for they are now a couple, have doubts and concerns about their relationship that are brilliantly expressed. The murder case is fascinating though I have to say I guessed one of the pillars of the solution quite early. Some exciting moments and some gruesome ones. Some sad ones, too. Altogether satisfying.

Agents of the Truth by Jackson Marsh**** Superb mystery for the Larkspur academy alumni. I love the way Marsh weaves real historical figures into the story. A slight quibble: this one assumed some familiarity with the previous Clearwater series and although things were well explained this led to rather too many recounts of past events, needed, both for the reader and the main characters, but slightly irritating. The story also relies heavily on the immediately previous book in the series. I was amused by a typo, not in the text but in the author’s notes, which had 1922 printed as 1822 which would have made the discovery of Tutankamen’s tomb happen before Howard Carter was born…

New

Not such a good selection this month!

Seeds of Love. *** A romance collection with numerous authors sold to benefit Ukrainians in need. As with all collections of this kind the contents are mixed. Some were lovely and others didn’t appeal to me at all. There were both mm and mf stories and I found equally enjoyable and less than enjoyable offerings in both genres. I’ve been dipping in and reading it over a few months and can’t recall the titles of the ones I loved so they weren’t all that special! I skimmed quite a few of the ones I didn’t love. Worth buying because of the charity angle, so if you want to give for Ukraine, get it, but remember not all the stories will speak to you!

Holy Island by LJ Ross**. Crime story set on Lindisfarne, which I know quite well. Some head hopping which was irritating, and some odd vocabulary choices (e.g. since when did Christmas lights give a scene ‘levity’??) The plot was not exactly believable. Very gruesome with loving attention to nasty details, a detective who didn’t appeal to me, and an ending in the epilogue that suggested the resolution was not as neat and tidy as it seemed, thus paving the way for the next in the series which I won’t be reading.

Grim Undertakings by Whit McClendon abandoned. For me, where magic is concerned, less is more. This was no doubt exciting, but both hero and heroine reminded me of the Marty Stus and Mary Sues of poorer fanfiction, with far too many unlikely talents, ready to save the world via a lot of gore. Not my magic. 

What I watched in November ’22

Birthday flowers received in October; they lasted well into November with some judicious culling.

Umbrella Academy. Season 1 ***** Hooked. Amazing adaptation of a comic by one of the My Chemical Romance band. I’ll be watching the other seasons, too.

Heartstopper Season 1***** Delightful story line. I liked this a lot better than Everyone’s Talking About Jamie even though the latter was based on fact and this was fiction. The Jamie film was slightly pretentious, with a lot of unnecessary glamour and ideas of being a musical despite the very pedestrian song offerings. Heartstopper had music, but simply chosen to reflect the events. I’m looking forward to Season 2.

The Tape***** A film set in Cornwall, made by and acted in by people my husband knows. I’m supposed to be writing a separate post about it but meanwhile, find it on YouTube and watch!

I started watching The Rings of Power. It’s very pretty eye candy. Pity about the plot and script. I may watch another episode if bored…

However, I seem to have a watch list that’s getting as unwieldy as my tbr list (again) so I think The Rings of Power will have to wait quite a while!

Out of Time : a free story

Here’s a free story for the Rainbow Advent Calendar!

Here’s the link: https://jaymountney.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/out-of-time.docx?force_download=true

It’s a 25k novella about a fae/human mm romance, very loosely inspired by the story of Rip Van Winkle but with a HEA ending celebrated at New Year. It’s a stand-alone and not related to any of my other fantasy books. Kit accidentally passes through a portal and almost as accidentally falls in love with Rianthe. Can they stay together? And can they overcome multiple problems including illness, time constraints, and adjusting to new cultures?

It’s currently in docx format but I’m working on a mobi version and hopefully a pdf, so if docx is a problem for you, message me! (It’s hosted on my WordPress blog here and you’re welcome to visit that at https://jaymountney.com/ and explore the rest of my free stuff. )

Please do follow the daily posts on The Rainbow Advent Calendar at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1673039336093815/ and read all the stories we’ve assembled for you! There’s a Masterlist at http://alexjane.info/rainbow-advent-calendar-2022/?fbclid=IwAR1ye60xBaGoenmgSJHvTYPwIt1k-UaP2rf9tZu_YuXzOCpyyKoJ6Kl-9yg

Finally, have the cover pic which is currently in the document.

Moroccan Lasagne – a recipe for cold days.

I forgot to photograph the one I made so have some lasagne sheets…

Just squeezing this in at the end of November before all the Christmas cooking starts, though if you like Christmas cakes and puddings I imagine you’re already elbow deep! (I don’t, so I’m not.)

I’m not sure where I found this – I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to recipes. Anyway, I tried it with a couple of tweaks, and it was yummy so here you are! I suppose you could sprinkle cheese on it at table, to conform with the original Italian dish, but we didn’t think it needed it.

Start with your usual basic mince recipe – whatever you’d do for e.g. spaghetti bolognese. Use lamb mince if you can, and add tomatoes and onion. The original recipe suggested carrots but I’d run out. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs to taste. I’m not giving quantities because you know your family size and appetites. I used about 250 grammes of mince, a tine of tomatoes, and an onion.

Try not to get too much liquid because this is for lasagne. When it’s ready, add some kind of thinly sliced veg – the original recipe suggested kale but I hadn’t any so I used cabbage. Then add chopped dates and a big handful of sultanas. Let the veg and fruit soften in the hot sauce. Season with harissa paste, or with chili flakes. I use those jars of harissa (easier than making my own and I’m lazy) and have found they keep better if you put oil over the contents once opened and store in the coldest part of the fridge.

Make white sauce. You can play around with bechamel from scratch, use a jar of lasagne sauce, or do what I did and make some fairly thick white sauce from a jar of granules. I made about 250 ml and might make slightly more another time.

You can get all this lot ready and each bit will be quite happy till the other ingredients are prepared. If the mince or the sauce cool, it won’t matter as they’ll reheat in the oven. So you don’t have to juggle to have everything ready at once.

Layer your ingredients: sauce then lasagne sheets, then mince, until you have a final sauce layer. The dish I like using is one sheet long and one and a half wide so I have to split sheets to make it work.

Cover this with breadcrumbs. The best for the job are the sort you make yourself from stale bread. If I’m making e.g. bread sauce or summer pudding and remove the crusts I chop these and freeze them. Then when I need breadcrumbs I thaw them, let them sit in the open to go nicely stale for a day, and blitz them in a food processor. They work much better than the very fine ones you can buy. If you have any left over, store in an airtight jar in a cupboard and use on e.g. fish.

Put the dish, uncovered, in the oven (180C) for about 35 minutes, then serve with salad.

The combination of added fruit and hot harissa, plus the novelty of crumbs instead of cheese makes this a totally new way to experience lasagne. I can recommend it!

Enjoy!

Prickly situations

At least my little cactus is happy!

In other news…

Who knew it could get so complicated? I accidentally created two Spotify accounts. Don’t even ask (mostly because I have no idea). Anyway, the one that shares the email I use for Amazon is not the one that has the carefully curated playlists. Of course it isn’t. Apparently I can’t merge them (even though one has no playlists whatsoever) because I don’t have Premium on either… And I can’t chsnge the email on either profile because the site recognises me enough to stop me… ‘That email is already taken,’ it tells me, as if I didn’t know. However, I can sign into Spotify on the Smart TV via the Amazon Firestick and then sign into Spotify using the Amazon email (Amazon won’t let me use the other with a similar nannyish response) but use the Spotify password, not the Amazon one. At that point I should be able to ‘follow’ myself (!) and see (and hopefully play) all my playlists. Both emails feed into the same inbox so goodness knows why all the secrecy, privacy, etc. is considered necessary. I also had to change the password for the Spotify account that shares the Amazon email because Chrome creates and saves my passwords so I had no clue what it was and of course it wouldn’t helpfully fill it in for me on the television. I’m sure there must be easier ways to organise life, the universe and everything. I have to say the Spotify help desk person was actually helpful and gave rapid replies to my rather garbled requests.

At least they didn’t want two factor authentication. Since this usually needs the ability to receive a texted code in a timely manner I am seriously discriminated against. As are others who live in mobile black spots. There was talk of sending codes to the landline but ours has Call Guardian to prevent constant hoax/scam/ad calls and Call Guardian rejects all automated calls. Guess how they send text codes…

I saved up things of this kind that needed addressing till I went to the Lake District in September. Most were fine except registering online for my GP’s surgery which became an insoluble mystery and remains so. If I am ill I will have to get up and try phoning on the landline before 8.a.m. (Mobile black spot means I can’t phone from bed.) It will be luck of the draw whether I get an appointment or advice, even by landline.

Since my success with at least two sites in September, Amazon have asked for an update on my tax exemption, with, of course, two factor authentication. I’ve been trying to make either head or tail of information about authentication apps for my laptop and will have to try one though there are dire warnings that they can be ‘glitchy’. Otherwise, I suppose I can visit my daughter, complete with laptop and mobile and do it all there. Also two pairs of glasses, one for computer and the other for whatever text they send me… And a lot of patience.

Google keep telling me to strengthen my passwords and that weak passwords are what makes this two factor stuff essential. Since Google choose and store my passwords and I haven’t a clue what they are, this seems to be venturing into uncharted realms of magic and imagination. And since quite a few sites don’t recognise the Google saved passwords life gets even more complicated.

I have just given my printer to my husband, whose own printer died. Mine refused to print more than about ten pages although the ink cartridge was supposed to be good for 400. It also agreed to copy or scan provided it could email me the copy or scan. But it refused to accept any of my email addresses. So it was a waste of space and husband is welcome to it. I have warned him.

Our Firestick keeps being what I suppose they might call ‘glitchy’. This is our second stick because the first simply died (and no, it wasn’t the battery). So we try for various TV shows and get strange messages or weird streaming problems.

It makes me half wish I was back in the days when I had just a landline phone, a TV and maybe a video recorder. Oh, and a photocopier at work. In case you were wondering, my smartphone is wonderful – invaluable when out of our road, and fine at home when connected to wi-fi. So I communicate with people mostly via email, whatsapp, Google chat, Messenger, etc. I am not at all isolated. Until it comes to identifying myself!!

October 2022 – unfamiliar authors reviewed

October colour

Highly Recommended

The Rule of Three by Kristian Parker****Enjoyable story about a threesome in a country village. I didn’t quite believe the ‘villain’ (one protagonist’s sister) but I liked the portrayal of village life. I will certainly read the rest of the trilogy. There are no truly dramatic events but the book works well as comfort reading.

Stone Wings by Jenn Burke**** Shifters, including gargoyle shifters, turf wars and a curse that must be broken. An exciting first story in this mm paranormal romance series and I will definitely read the next which is due out in January.

Ghosted by Jess Whitecroft**** I chose this for a Halloween read and thoroughly enjoyed it. Desanges is a mixed race wannabe spiritual medium from New Orleans with a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Jason is a reluctant exorcist from Wisconsin with a difficult past, living a ‘prepper’ lifestyle in the countryside. They meet when called in to use their professional skills in a haunted house. There are genuinely scary moments and almost as many hilarious ones. The plot twists and turns and had me on the edge of my seat till the very end. Actually, I finished it on November 1st over breakfast but thought it was more appropriate to review it with the rest of October’s offerings. Try it next Halloween – or any time really!

Readable

Tricks with Cats and Dogs by Mere Rain*** Quite a nice story, suitably creepy for Halloween season, but it was very short and could well have been expanded with more character development. The concept was good but it almost read like a very long blurb. Further information would inevitably be spoilers but it does involve shifters and mm romance.

Abandoned.

The Beatrix Stubbs Boxset 1 by JJ Marsh.  After lengthy flashbacks the reader knew who committed the murders (and that they  were murders, not suicides), how, where, when and probably why. The international team set up as a task force to investigate was not very interesting and the lead detective (Beatrice Stubbs) was, after a few chapters, unappealing to me.

Where the Silent Screams are Loudest by John Pye. Poorly written crime story by an ex-police officer. Sadly, I had actually bought this. Only £1.99 but still… somehow I don’t mind so much when a new author borrowed on KU doesn’t appeal. It read like a policeman’s court reporting, and there was quite a bit of less than stellar vocabulary usage. An ex detective ought to know how to use a dictionary or thesaurus. And no, they weren’t typos.

Nothing dire, though I was disappointed in the last book. I love well written crime stories by authors such as Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, even when they haven’t any romance or paranormal elements. But there’s a lot of very uninspiring work in the genre, often highly praised by people in the relevant social media groups. And of course I have to at least give it a try!