BW52: 2022 Year End Wrap Up!

Wow. It's week 52 in our 52 books quest and it seems like this year just flew by.  My reading year was a mixture of new reads and rereads. I had a plan at the beginning of the year and was pretty good with writing some reviews until about mid year, then meandered completely off the path. 

My goal at the beginning of the year was to read and whittle down my physical stack.  I read a total of 160 of which 42 were physical books and 10 were over 500 pages.  I finished updating goodreads but their numbers and mine don't agree and I'm not quite sure what's up with that. 

I was good and read only from my physical and virtual stacks, and stuck to my buying ban until June. Then I went off the rails, especially by the end of the year. 2023 buying ban is now officially in force.  

Category breakdown's, (Not including entire series): Fantasy (17), Books about books (14), Science Fiction (11), Romance (11), Mystery (9), historical fiction (8), Thrillers (7), and police procedurals (6).   Included in those numbers are 26 new to me authors. 

Discovered that over the past few years I'd started several series, but not at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle, and I'm not sure how that happened. I'm a series completionist so once I discovered that, I ended up reading them from start to finish.  The series included:  

Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak (20) 
Devon Monk's Ordinary Magic (6)
Drew Hayes Super Powereds (4)
Ilona Andrews Hidden Legacy (3)
Keri Arthur's Lizzie Grace (9) 
Louise Penny's Armand Gamache (18)
M.L. Buchman's Miranda Chase (11)
Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter (15)

I started the year with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which I adored and was not a book to speed through. The story was complex and I read it in small sips, finding there were phrases and images which stuck with me. Quotes I wanted to save of Cromwell’s wit, reactions of his family, his thoughts pebbled throughout from childhood to adulthood.  

The read that stuck with me as well was Stabenow's Kate Shugak which not only pitted the characters against the elements, but involved mysteries as well as the politics and culture of Alaska and native Alaskans. I was totally emersed for a full month. It had all the feels and ran the gamut of emotions from surprise to tears to laughter to anger. 

Another entertaining series was M.L. Buchman's Miranda Chase series which was about an autistic woman who worked for the NTSB solving airplane crashes for the military mainly. The story delved into how her autistic nature affected her working and personal relationships and how she learned to handle them.

The story and character that made me want to live in their world was The Choice, part of  Nora Robert's Dragon Heart Legacy series which was set in Ireland. I loved all the characters and the fact there was a portal to fairy right next door to her house. Oh, and the dragons, of course. LOL! 

Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay left me with a book hangover and the feeling of having read and excuse the pun, an amazing, yet exhausting adventure.

In The Bookshop at Water's End, everyone down to the children had baggage of some sort and it was an emotional story which I usually wouldn't enjoy but the writing was so well done, it pulled me into the characters lives, rooting for them all the way. 

N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season was a dark story, but  oh my f''ing God, it was so good. The theme of slavery was pervasive through out the story, child were hated because of their ability to control the land, and unfortunately they were abused and or killed because of it.  The story was so well written and the author very bluntly showed the reader what was happening, without getting preachy.  There were several twists and turns and of course the story didn't end. It will be continued in the Obelisk Gate, which I have on the shelves for the new year.

I loved the cast of characters in Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series with the mystery playing out in the midst of some personal crisis, how they solved the crime. After a while the descriptors attached to some of the characters got a little old but other than that, each story's killer was unique. There were enough surprises and red herrings to throw every one off.

In Faith Hunter's Final Heir, the last book in her Jane Yellowrock series, there are so many moments. Moments that made me sad, moments that were so powerful. Moments that were amusing or scary.

Elizabeth Bear's Ancestral Night sucked me in and I had a book hangover when I finished.   My mind so full from the vastness of outer space and all that happened and I had to sit with the story for a little bit as it as was a very complex story involving philosophical, cultural, political, and psychological themes.  

Drew Hayes Super Powered series was a great series and however much I'd like to compare it to Harry Potter, there really was no comparison. The characters were college age kids, each with a special super power, no wands, who learned how to use their powers amidst the angst of college and real life battles. It will be well worth reading again. 

I had so many book hangovers this year.  LOL! 

Attica Lock's Bluebird, Bluebird was a disappointment and depressing because for a law abiding Ranger, he drank too much, suffered from black outs, didn't always follow the rules or the laws, and got himself into hot water. 

One book that I think everyone should read?  So so hard to choose just one but if  have to it would be Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak's A Cold Day for Murder. If you enjoy the first one, then get ready for a ride because you'll want to read them all.  

So many good books and I know I leaving something out. One of my goals for next year is to not fade mid year and at least try to write a mini review of each read so I can remember why I enjoyed it so much.  

Merry Christmas!


BW51: Wintertime


Happy Sunday! it's week 51 in our 52 books quest and Wintertime is upon us with the December Solstice.  Whilst we're preparing for Christmas and enjoying hot toddies by the fire, it's Summer in the Southern Hemisphere (those lucky dawgs), and folks are enjoying fruity rum drinks on the beach. 

For some reason, I've been in a winter mood all year long, indulging in reads set in frigid cold settings, characters braving the elements, all the while falling in love, finding killers, solving mysteries, or simply exploring.   I discovered a new to me series this year in Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series which is 22 books long but well worth reading.  Once I started reading, couldn't stop.   

I finally dove into Katherine Addison's the Goblin Emperor and enjoying the heck out of it. Feel sorry for Maia but he's trying. 

I think my winter read will be Vinge's Snow Queen. Another dusty books that I'm finally ready to dive into. 

Dad gave me a big fat check for my birthday and this year I've spent it all on myself for once.   I've been adding oodles of books to my physical and virtual stacks in anticipation of my new year's buying ban. I may have gone overboard.  LOL! My will power is gone. Buying ban may be going into affect a few days early.  I start the year with absolutely nothing on my amazon wishlist in order to avoid impulse shopping. But of course it starts to get quite long by the end of May.  Don’t know if I saving money that way or just fooling myself, but it works. Most of the time.

BW50: Creativity and Books on the Nightstand


It's book week 50 in our 52 Books quest and our last 52 Books Bingo Category for the year is Creativity, my favorite subject. It's time to unleash your inner Creativity

Creativity takes all shapes and forms from the physical to the intellectual, from the deliberate to the spontaneous.  Whether you have a creative mind or creative hands, there are a wide variety of ways to be creative and things highly creative people do differently.   What is the difference between Artistic and Creative ability?   And then there is Creative Leadership Lessons from Star Trek.    What do you think? 

15 Books About Creativity to Get You Out of a Creative Rut.  One book I revisit over and over is The Artist Way by Julia Cameron which unlocked my imagination. 

Creativity books added to my shelves to read through out next year:

Another Julia Cameron - Write for Life: Creative Tools for Every Writer (A 6-Week Artist's Way Program), and  Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici’s Creativity Unleashed: A Woman's Guide to Unlock Flow and Finally Finish Creative Projects Every Day. 

Finished Louise Penny’s The World of Curiosities which was quite good which included the origin story of how Gamache met Beauvoir and brought him into the surete. How that origin story ties an old mystery and a new mystery together. A few red herrings are thrown in along with some vague clues, a few twists and turns, and it made for interesting reading.

The next book up is Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke 

"When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules -- a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders -- a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman -- have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes -- and save himself in the process -- before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. From a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV show Empire, Bluebird, Bluebird is a rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas."

James M's review of IDW Sonic issue 55


We're back, IDW Sonic's 55th issue has arrived and the fifth year of IDW Sonic is fast approaching as the year comes to an end. Plus, the story of Surge and Kit continues and, boy, it is intense with Eggman in the picture. In fact, he's teamed up with the heroes by the end of this one. 

Evan Stanley is knocking it out of the park, who cares about IDW Sonic's flaws and the lack of certain characters, the comic is performing well and its worth as Archie Sonic's successor has been solidified further. 

My thoughts on this?

The issue is fantastic, 10.5, the writing team is delivering real good and we fans keep scoring victories in many arenas one after another despite certain setbacks in some. Surge and Kit are really good villains just as Tangle and Whisper are cool characters. In fact, when are we gonna get these guys in the games. C'mon, SEGA, have 'em appear in Speed Battle and Dash like you did with Tangle and Whisper. Are they not as popular as them?

Tangent aside, I once again salute the IDW team and this comic deserves all the love and recognition as long as it keeps going since SEGA doesn't recognize defunct spin-offs due to their desire to always move forward. See you later!

-James M

James M's review of IDW Sonic: Scrapnik Island Issue 2 and Tails' 30th Anniversary Special

Welcome back, Sonic squad.
We have two Sonic comics, the second issue of Scrapnik Island and the Tails' 30th Anniversary Special, the latter of which is quite interesting to see at a time when it appears that Classic and Modern Sonic are merging back into one at last. Yes, Ian Flynn confirmed that SEGA has eliminated the Classic-Modern split just like with the two worlds canon nonsense. Y'know what this might mean?


In fact, Scrapnik Island's the perfect start to the reunification of Classic and Modern, especially since Classic Badniks like Mecha Sonic appear to serve as the villain.
Issue two continues the story that started in the first with Sonic and Tails getting to know the Scrapniks and they eventually encounter Mecha Knuckles from the Advance games, who eventually attacks Sonic. Mecha Sonic fights him and, while he ends up beating him, his original programming kicks in and he now has Sonic at his mercy as the issue ends.

Then we go over to the Tails story here.
It's basically a follow-up to Sonic 3D Blast and Tails' Skypatrol where Sonic and Tails visit Flicky Island from the former and deal with Witchcart from the latter. That's right, Witchcart, Wendy Witchcart, is finally back... in the Classic era anyway. Ian and the IDW got special permission from SEGA to use her in the story, they are strict after all and everything goes through SOA, Sonic Team and the Japanese branch. And no, Sonic Team is NOT the main authority, SEGA of Japan is, ST is there to help ensure that things are on brand and they too have to follow the rules.

Anyway, what did I think of both issues.
Scrapnik Island issue two, AWESOME! Great action, amazing plot, stunning artwork all around. Horror stories can be pretty cool, especially if they are done in a family-friendly way. The Mummy (1999) is technically a family-friendly horror movie, so too were the classic 30s and 40s monster movies. My score for it is a 9.5. 
The Tails story? Classic Sonic may be overused and old hat, but it was very entertaining and Sonic commenting on grinding the rales is how he will do so in the Modern era, this is helped by how the split has finally ended. 10/10, yep, I gave a Classic era story a ten.

Now, its time to breathe until the next big Sonic event.

Bye, folks!

A Hard day for a Hangover, Seven Days in June, and One Day all make for an interesting combination


Thought that would get your attention!  LOL! 

The third and final book in Darynda Jones Sunshine Vicram series came out called A Hard Day for a Hangover which has some laugh out loud funny moments. 

“Some people greet the day with open arms. Sheriff Sunshine Vicram would rather give it a hearty shove and get back into bed, because there’s just too much going on right now. There’s a series of women going missing, and Sunny feels powerless to stop it. There’s her persistent and awesomely-rebellious daughter Auri, who’s out to singlehandedly become Del Sol’s youngest and fiercest investigator. And then there’s drama with Levi Ravinder—the guy she’s loved and lusted after for years. The guy who might just be her one and only. The guy who comes from a family of disingenuous vipers looking to oust him—and Sunshine—for good.  Like we said, the new day can take a hike.”

Now that I've finished Hard Day for a Hangover, I want to go back and reread the trilogy in order.

Picked up and read Seven Days in June by Tia Williams which was quite good. Two very flawed, dysfunctional characters meet again after 15 years. Can they make a dysfunctional relationship into  a healthy one.

“Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their buried traumas, but the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry—or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.

Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect—but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered…”

Williams recommended One Day by David Nichols as one of the books that inspired her writing, so that one is in the stacks now.

I'm enamored with the Queen Consort's The Reading Room where she talks about books, books, and more books. She picks four books a season which I think is a quarter and has a readalong with background and historical videos by the author. Her choices are  rather eclectic and it was just announced on Instagram the next season will start on Jan 13th and includes Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, Mrs 'Harris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico. The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye, and Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead.  Which I just happen to have in my TBR pile.  Looking forward to reading along with the Queen consort.  

BW49: Plans for 2023


It's cold and rainy and we're tucked up, nice and cozy with books and family. The best place to be, whether it be physically or virtually.  Thanks to Sandy and Amy we've had a grand year, going on a crime spree.  It's week 49 in our 52 Books Quest and we talking December's Crime Spree recommendations. 

I’ve got my eyes are bigger than my stomach syndrome because I want to read all Sandy and Amy’s recommendations.  Think I’ll start with Water like a Stone, now in my virtual stacks and look forward to reading it this month.

Currently reading Nora Robert’s The Choice and love the characters and the storyline. Makes me want to live in Ireland and maybe by chance find a portal to the other side. 😊

Waiting on the nightstand is the newest Armand Gamache story, A World of Curiosities. I’m going to check out the first episode of Three Pines on Amazon Prime, think of it as a mystery series separated from the books,  and see how I like it. 

Saturday night, we watched Willow, the original 80's movie which James watched for the first time and greatly enjoyed. 

I've been planning for 2023 and combined with 52 Books Bingo and A to Z and Back Again, I'm going to attempt to read more nonfiction, as well as do another 10 x 10 all from my TBR virtual and physical stacks, quite a few which are dusty and/or chunky while extending my ban buying through the first half of the year.   

1001 Books Before You Die 

Baby It's Cold Outside 

Books about Books 

It's a Crime

Flights of Fantasy 

Tales of the Past 


Magical Realism

What a Mystery 

Thrills and Chills 

I usually start the year with a chunky and dusty book, so I'm contemplating whether I want to try again with Sharon Kay Penman's When Christ and Her Saints slept, since I didn't finish it this year. It got dumped by the wayside pretty quickly which was a shame.  I may attempt Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged or dive back into Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall series with Bring Up the Bodies,  and Mirror & the Light. 

BW49: December, December.


Hello December! We are on week 49 in our 52 Books quest and it's time to wrap up our Crime Spree with an assortment of recommendations.  I’ve got my eyes are bigger than my stomach syndrome because I want to read all Sandy and Amy’s recommendations.  Think I’ll start with Water like a Stone, now in my virtual stacks and look forward to reading it this month.

I've also decided it's time to hang up my hosting shoes, retired 52 books on WTM and let someone else take the helm. Especially since I've taken over Life and Liturgy and it's so much more work than expected.  The ladies actually expect me to talk more than I have been. LOL!  The internet somehow let's my introverted self be more extroverted online.  

Currently reading Nora Robert’s The Choice and love the characters and the storyline. Makes me want to live in Ireland and maybe by chance find a portal to the other side. 😊

Waiting on the nightstand is the newest Armand Gamache story, A World of Curiosities. I’m going to check out the first episode of Three Pines on Amazon Prime, think of it as a mystery series separated from the books,  and see how I like it. 

Tonight we watched Willow, the original 80's movie which James watched for the first time and greatly enjoyed.