A Few Books on My Recommended Reading List: December 2023
Hello, Book Lovers!
Once again, I’ve been putting off writing reviews of books that I’ve loved. But thankfully, I take notes as I read, which makes the retrospective review writing much easier.
Because I’m an author, writing reviews can be a little difficult. And today, as I’ve written my review and then read other reviews, I’m reminded as to why I made this decision. As an author, when you write a critical review of another author’s work, it comes across as nasty, especially if you openly criticise another author’s writing. It comes across as unprofessional especially if you do this on GoodReads. You get it; it’s not nice, and says more about the person writing the review then the actual book. In light of this difficulty, I’ve only allowed myself to review a book that I loved and/or would read again.
As you’ve guessed, below is a list of my recommended reads and a short review of my thoughts.
Without further ado, let’s get on with the reviews.
How I Rate Books
Most of the books in this list I have rated four or five stars. On rare occasions, I will rate a book three stars. Usually, this means the book is okay but I probably won’t read any others in the series. And, on one occasion I did three-star a book because the story had so much potential and fell short, but I still went on to read other books in the series. As an author, I don’t feel comfortable panning another author’s book because I realise that if I feel a certain way doesn’t mean other people will have the same experience.
A Quick Disclaimer
All of the books in this haul were purchased with my own money and not gifted to me by publishers, publicists, or agents. And all opinions are my own. The book descriptions read in this haul were sourced from Amazon by my virtual assistant.
Book #1 – New York (The Crime Beat, Episode 1) by A.C. Fuller
In a matter of ten days in January of 2023, I read the first six episodes of The Crime Beat back to back. The series was that good. You can find episodes 1 to 3 here*, episodes 4 to 6 here*, and the final three here*.
For some stupid reason, I stopped reading at episode six when there were still episodes seven to nine to read. I’m putting this down to shiny object syndrome—but that’s more of a reflection on me, not the books. As I write this, I’ve purchased the ebook omnibus edition, and I’m due to read those episodes next. I swear.
If you love murder mysteries featuring a team of sleuths, then I highly recommend this first-in-series novel.
Book #2 – A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette
A Killing in Costumes* is the second LGBTQ+-friendly cozy mystery that I’ve read, and I’m guessing that it was recommended to me after I finished reading The Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler. At present, it’s unclear whether the story will be a part of a series, but fingers crossed. Set in Palm Springs, the book is witty, clever, adorable, and a little reminiscent of Murder She Wrote—I’m not sure why this comes to mind, but it just does.
If you’re looking for an LGBTQ+-friendly cozy mystery, then you’ll love this book. Although, as a straight woman in her early 40s, I enjoyed the platonic relationship of the main characters and the interesting world the author created, and I’m sure you will, too.
Book #3 – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
In Neverwhere*, Neil Gaiman transported me to the world of London Below, which occupies the underground infrastructures. From the very first sentence, I was hooked and fully immersed in this magical world. Perhaps it was the truly fascinating Alice In Wonderland retelling or the fact that Neil himself narrated the audiobook, but upon reaching the end; I desperately searched for another re-entry point into the world of London Below.
If you live a great immersive Urban Fantasy, then I highly recommend Neverwhere.
Book #4 – A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I loved A Tale of Two Cities*, but the audiobook narration drove me spare and did detract from the story. But the story was an interesting read, especially if you’re interested in this period and the French Revolution. A part of me wishes I shopped around for a better audiobook narration.
I do, however, have an issue with the way Dickens protrays women in his books, but it’s a classic and is a depiction of the period.
Book #5 – Don’t Tell Meg by Paul J Teague
In Don’t Tell Meg,* you get a front-row seat to Pete Bailey screwing up his life, and in true thriller fashion, things go from bad to worse. At times, I was almost screaming at the page, and I was so angry with Pete that I put the book down for a bit. Yes, that sounds overdramatic, but it’s a true depiction of my reading experience.
The characters feel very real and pull you through the twists and turns in the story. I can’t wait to read the next book in the trilogy, mainly because I’m getting the impression that Pete hasn’t learned anything from the first book.
Book #6 – The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
Ten years after the events in The Poet and years of writing crime for the LA Times, Jack McEvoy is determined to go out with a bang. Just like the first Jack McEvoy novel, The Scarecrow* is page-turning and creepy and tackles some challenging topics along the way to figuring out who has committed the long list of murders and clearing the name of an innocent party.
Book #7 – Death and Fromage by Ian Moore
This is another case of the sequel being better than the first. Death and Fromage* delicately balances the murder mystery-solving with humorous moments that had me laughing out loud—loudly, I might add. This time, I was smart enough to read this novel on a couple of days when my husband was not working from home.
Book #8 – Winter World by A.G. Riddle
Upon finishing the first page of Winter World,* the story grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. This same page-turning effect pulled me through the series, and I finished all three books in seventeen days. On a scientific level, the story’s premise of a new ice age taking over the Earth made sense, not that I’m an expert by any means.
Initially, I expected this trilogy to be a dystopian sci-fi thriller, but it was so much more than that. Riddle perfectly balances time on Earth and in space and the natural disaster element with aliens and a climactic space battle. After reading the entire trilogy, I’m very tempted to read more books by A. G. Riddle.
Book #9 – Stump Speech Murder by Patrica Rockwell
Stamp Speech Murder* was an interesting read. However, I chose to read via Kindle Whisper-sync for voice, which spoiled the big clue, making it very obvious from the second it appears on the page. But it was still a great book. I’m tempted to go back and read the previous three novels in the series.
Book #10 – The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman
I listened to The Last Devil to Die* via audiobook; as usual, it was perfectly narrated. At certain points in the book, I was certain that Richard Osman was trying to break my heart—quite successfully, I might add. At this point in the Thursday Murder Club Series, these books have become a must-read for me.
Have you read any of these books? Or do you have a book that you’d like to recommend? Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below or under the post over in The Book Nerd Reader Club Facebook Group.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading, everybody.
* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂
I’m Amelia. I write amateur sleuth mystery novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of The Candidate, The Locked Room, The Lawn, Suspicion and Duplicity. I’m also the host of the Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast™️. Right now, I’m writing the first novella in a cozy mystery series, and writing the third book in the James Lalonde Mystery Series. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband, drink tea, and eat pizza.