Saturday, December 31, 2022

Books Read in 2022

[Books Read In 2022]

*Harrison, Kim - White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows #7) (2009) - Fantasy
Prose, Nita - The Maid (2022) - Crime Fiction
*Rabinovitch-Fox, Einav - Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism (2021) - Nonfiction
*Daré, Abi - The Girl with the Louding Voice (2020) - Fiction

*Tur, Míriam Bonastre - Hooky (2020) - Fantasy/Graphic Novel
*Willberg, T.A. - Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose (Marion Lane #2) (2022) - Crime Fiction
*Shepherd, Peng - The Cartographers (2022) - Fiction/Fantasy/Science Fiction/Crime Fiction/Thriller
*Sutanto, Jesse Q. - Dial A for Aunties (The Aunties #1)(2021) - Romance/Crime Fiction
*Steinkellner, Emma - The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow (2021) - Fantasy/Graphic Novel/Middle Grade
*Shirahama, Kamome, translated by Stephen Kohler - Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 5 (2020) - Fantasy/Manga/Middle Grade
*St. James, Simone - The Book of Cold Cases The (2022) - Crime Fiction/Thriller/Horror

*Harrison, Kim - Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8) (2010) - Fantasy
*Harrison, Kim - A Pale Demon (The Hollows #9) (2011) - Fantasy
Butcher, Jim - Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2) (2001) - Fantasy/Audio
*Lo, Malinda - Last Night at the Telegraph Club (2021) - Fiction/Romance/YA
*Shirahama, Kamome, translated by Stephen Kohler - Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 6 (2020) - Fantasy/Manga/Middle Grade

*Sutanto, Jesse Q. - Four Aunties and a Wedding (The Aunties #2) (2022) - Crime Fiction
*Wallace, Auralee - When the Crow's Away (Evenfall Witches B&B #2) (2022) - Crime Fiction/Cozy
*Backman, Fredrik - Anxious People (2019) - Fiction
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 1 (2019) - Crime Fiction/Manga
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 2 (2019) - Crime Fiction/Manga
*Adams, Lyssa Kay - The Bromance Book Club (#1) (2019) - Romance
*Hendrix, Grady - The Final Girl Support Group (2021) - Horror
*Simon, Christine - The Patron Saint of Second Chances (2022) - Fiction
*Majumdar, Megha - A Burning (2020) - Fiction
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 3 (2020) - Crime Fiction/Manga
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 4 (2020) - Crime Fiction/Manga
*James, Anna - Pages & Co: The Bookwanderers (#1) (2018) - Fantasy/Middle Grade

*Weaver, Ashley - The Key to Deceit (Electra McDonnell #2) (2022) - Crime Fiction/Historical
*Almojera, Anthony -  Riding the Lightning: A Year in the Life of a New York City Paramedic (2022) - Nonfiction/Memoir
*Khavari, Kate - Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons  (2022) - Crime Fiction/Historical
*Holton, India - The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels  (Dangerous Damsels #1) (2021) - Romance/Historical
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 5 (2020) - Crime Fiction/Manga
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 6 (2020) - Crime Fiction/Manga
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 7 (2021) - Crime Fiction/Manga

*Harrison, Kim - A Perfect Blood (The Hollows #10) (2012) - Fantasy

*Barnes, S.A. - Dead Silence (2022) - Science Fiction/Horror
*Harrison, Kim - Ever After (The Hollows #11) (2013) - Fantasy
Priest, Cherie - Grave Reservations (Booking Agents #1) (2021) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
*Hotondoshindeiru - Uncle From Another World Vol. 1  (2018) - Fantasy/Manga
Sanders, Angela M. - Bait and Witch (Witch Way Librarian #1) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
*Hotondoshindeiru - Uncle From Another World Vol. 2  (2018) - Fantasy/Manga

*Silverberg, Cory & Fiona Smyth - Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings and YOU (2015) - Nonfiction/Children's
*Heuler, Karen - The Splendid City (2022) - Fantasy
*Andrews, Ilona - Burn For Me (Hidden Legacy #1) (2014) - Fantasy/Romance

*Andrews, Ilona - White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) (2017) - Fantasy/Romance
*Andrews, Ilona - Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) (2017) - Fantasy/Romance
*Hotondoshindeiru - Uncle From Another World Vol. 3  (2019) - Fantasy/Manga
*Hotondoshindeiru - Uncle From Another World Vol. 4  (2020) - Fantasy/Manga
*Alston, B.B. - Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) (2021) - Fantasy/Midddle Grade
*MacNeal, Susan Elia - Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante (Maggie Hope Mystery #5) (2015) - Crime Fiction/Historical
Mandanna, Sangu - The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches (2022) - Fantasy/Romance
*Dumas, Alexandre - The Count of Monte Cristo (1844) - Fiction/Classic
Sanders, Angela M. - The Seven-Year Witch (Witch Way Librarian #2) (2021) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
*Endo, Tatsuya - Spy x Family, Vol. 8 (2021) - Crime Fiction/Manga

Sanders, Angela M. - Witch and Famous (Witch Way Librarian #3) (2022) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
Marais, Bianca - The Witches of Moonshyne Manor (2022) - Fantasy
Martin, Celestine - Witchful Thinking (Elemental #1) (2022) - Romance/Fantasy
*Harrison, Kim - The Undead Pool(The Hollows #12) (2014) - Fantasy
*Chainani, Soman - The School for Good and Evil (#1) (2013) - Fantasy/Middle Grade
*Ostertag, Molly Knox - The Witch Boy (#1) (2017) - Fantasy/Middle Grade/Graphic Novel

*Neill, Chloe - Devouring Darkness (Heirs of Chicagoland #4) (2022) - Fantasy
Priest, Cherie - Flight Risk (The Booking Agents #2) (2022) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
Hawke, Lydia M. - A Gathering of Crones (Crone Wars #2) (2022) - Fantasy
Hawke, Lydia M. - Game of Crones (Crone Wars #3) (2022) - Fantasy
*Hotondoshindeiru - Uncle From Another World Vol. 5 (2020) - Fantasy/Manga
*Shirahama, Kamome, translated by Stephen Kohler - Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 7 (2020) - Fantasy/Manga/Middle Grade
*Shirahama, Kamome, translated by Stephen Kohler - Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 8 (2021) - Fantasy/Manga/Middle Grade
*Shirahama, Kamome, translated by Stephen Kohler - Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 9 (2021) - Fantasy/Manga/Middle Grade

*Cogman, Genevieve - The Dark Archive (Invisible Library #7) (2020) - Fantasy
Robinson, Shauna - The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks (2022) - Fiction/Romance
*Telgemeier, Raina - Ghosts (2016) - Fiction/Graphic Novel/Middle Grade
Knox, Maggie - The Holiday Swap (2021) - Romance/Holiday
Keder, Joann - Chaos and Cranberries (A Piney Falls/Charming Mysteries Christmas Crossover) (2022) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
*Junko - Kiss Him, Not Me! Vol. 2 (2011) - Romance/YA/Manga
*Austen, Jane - Sense and Sensibility (1811) - Fiction/Romance/Classics
*Junko - Kiss Him, Not Me! Vol. 2 (2011) - Romance/YA/Manga

First Sentences of Book Read 2022

Opening sentences are our first step inside a story. Some hook us right away while others ease us in. I started keeping track of first sentences years ago. I enjoy looking back on these opening lines and seeing what memories they stir up. 

Below you will find the first sentences of books I read in 2022.


The East River smelled distinctly of death. ~ The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

The bloody handprint was gone, wiped from Kisten's window but not from my memory and it ticked me off that someone had cleaned it, as if they were tying to steal what little recollection I retained about the night he'd died. ~ White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. ~ Circe by Madeline Miller

I am well aware that my name is ridiculous. ~ The Maid by Nita Prose

Feminism has a long and complex relationship with fashion. ~ Dressed for Freedom by Einav Rabinovitch-Fox 

This morning, Papa call me inside the parlor. ~ The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Wait, Dani! ~ Hooky by Míriam Bonastre Tur

Christopher was dead. ~ Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano

Fraser Henley had fought against a blustering gale to arrive at the rendezvous point just in time. ~ Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose by T.A. Willberg

In the dim light of her desk's single bulb lamp, the map nearly glowed. ~ The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

There is a curse in my family.  ~ Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

So, we've come back for more stories about Moth Hush, the Okay Witch? ~ The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner

Unstable footing . . . ~ Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 5 by Kamome Shirahama

The Greer mansion sat high on a hill, overlooking the town and the ocean. ~ The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Tucking my hair back, I squinted at the parchment, trying to form the strange angular letters as smoothly as I could. ~ Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

"Brown or green for the drapes, Rache?" ~ A Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

I never used to keep close track of the phases of the moon. ~ A Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

The Miss Chinatown contestants were clustered together behind a canvas screen near the stage.Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

I would ask . . . that you please accompany me to the hall. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 6 by Kamome Shirahama

I try not to breathe at the last corset hook is yanked into place. ~ Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Pink and peach clouds, fiery in the sun's dying rays, rolled slowly across the baby blue sky. ~ When the Crow's Away by Auralee Wallace

A bank robbery. ~ Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Everyone has a secret self they don't show to other people.  ~ Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Eden Academy, Admissions Announcement DaySpy x Family, Vol. 2 by Tatsuya Endo

There was a reason Gavin Scott rarely drank. ~ The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

I wake up, get out of bed, say good morning to my plant, unwrap a protein bar, and drink a liter of bottled water. ~ The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Signor Giovannino Speranza, self-appointed mayor of the diminishing village of Prometto, population 212, knew from his sixty-two years of experience in this world that, in dealing with plumbers, one must never show even a hint of weakness. ~ The Patron Saint of Second Chances by Christine Simon

"You smell like smoke," my mother said to me. ~ A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Over a decade after the Iron Curtain severed the East from the West . . .Spy x Family, Vol. 3 by Tatsuya Endo

Moving on to international news . . .Spy x Family, Vol. 4 by Tatsuya Endo

Matilda Pages pushed open the door of Pages & Co. and breathed in deeply, taking in the familiar scent of just-blown-out candles, dark chocolate, and, of course, books. ~ Page & Co.: The Bookwanderers by Anna James

It's often a man's mouth that breaks his nose, my uncle Mick was fond of saying, and the bloke in front of me was doing his best to test the theory. ~ The Key to Deceit by Ashley Weaver

Very early one Sunday in March 2020, I parked my crimson EMS truck outside a brick house in Sheepshead Bay. ~ Riding the Lightning: A Year in the Life of a New York City Paramedic by Anthony Almojera

Light poured from the windows of the grand house, illuminating the front steps and graveled drive. ~ Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

There was no possibility of walking to the library that day. ~ The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

Yor sure has been coming home late these past few days.Spy x Family, Vol. 5 by Tatsuya Endo

Twilight, my mentor, you've changed.Spy x Family, Vol. 6 by Tatsuya Endo

Council Secretary Byron. Spy x Family, Vol. 7 by Tatsuya Endo

The woman across from me barely sniffed when I slammed the pen down on the counter. ~ A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

My head is throbbing again, a white-hot line of pain from the back of my skull down to the right side of my jaw, and a dead man is signaling me from across the common room. ~ Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

This is close enough. ~ Ever After by Kim Harrison

Leda Foley of Leda Foley's Far-Fletched Flights of Fancy cringed at her phone screen. ~ Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

My uncle, who was hit by a truck when he was seventeen and spent seventeen years in a coma, woke up. ~ Uncle From Another World Vol. 1 by Hotondoshindeiru

I scanned the passing countryside in vain for signs of life. ~ Bait and Witch by Angela M. Sanders

Uncle From Another World Vol. 2 by Hotondoshindeiru

Welcome to this book. ~ Sex is  Funny Word by Cory Silverberg

Betsy Bunderoo was used to seeing cats, but not ones who walked upright or spoke. ~ The Splendid City by Karen Heuler

"I can't let you do this." ~ Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

A wise man once said, "A human mind is the place where emotion and reason are locked in perpetual combat." ~ White Hot by Ilona Andrews

When life hits you in the gut, it's always a sucker punch. ~ Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Oh, speaking of the internet . . . Uncle From Another World Vol. 3 by Hotondoshindeiru

Heh Heh!Uncle From Another World Vol. 4 by Hotondoshindeiru

I'm sitting in the principal's office. ~ Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

"Franklin!" ~ Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Very Secret Society of Witches met on the third Thursday of every third month, but that was about the only thing that never changed.  ~ The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Mandanna Sangu

On Feburary 14, 1815, the lookout at Notre-Dame de la Garde signalled the arrival of the three-master Pharaon, coming from Smyrna, Trieste and Naples. ~ The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Still catching her breath, Mrs. Garlington plopped herself on a stool at the counter of Darla's Café ~ Seven-Year Witch by Angela M. Sanders

It's got a pool! ~ Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo

I dragged two wing chairs to the front of the New Release shelf. ~ Witch and Famous by Angela Sanders

Half an hour before the alarm will be sounded for the first time in decades--drawing four frantic old women and a geriatric crow from all corners of the sprawling manor--Ursula is awoken by insistent knocking, like giant knuckles rapping against glass. ~ The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

The seaside town of Freya Grove, New Jersey, was founded in 1871 during the boom of the nationwide spiritualist movement. ~ Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin

How does that man make checkered shirts and pastels look good? ~ The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped. ~ The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Time for the first lesson of the days, my daughters. ~ The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

Immortality required expecting the unexpected. ~ Devouring Darkness by Chloe Neill

The man in the red plaid shirt fought to get away. ~ Flight Risk by Cherie Priest

The crows were back. ~ A Gathering of Crones by Lydia M. Hawke

There were no more crows. ~ Game of Crones by Lydia M. Hawke

Fell-fire, huh!!? Uncle From Another World Vol. 5 by Hotondoshindeiru

Water is the worst.Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 7 by Kamome Shirahama

I was wondering if . . . you wanted to help run a stall at the Silver Eve?Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 8 by Kamome Shirahama

A return, you say?Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 9 by Kamome Shirahama

My Dear Irene,

What on earth is going on? ~ Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman

It took three statues to plant doubt in my mind. ~ The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson

One Double-Back Combo, one Cheese-Back with Fries, a Double Napoleon Shake . . . ~ Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Charlie Goodwin drew a shaky breath and tapped furiously on her phone, the screen illuminating her face in the otherwise dark storeroom. ~ The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" ~ Chaos and Cranberries by Joann Keder

Who decided the Prince should be with the Princess? ~ Kiss Him, Not Me! Vol. 1 by Junko

The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. ~ Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Well then . . . Kiss Him, Not Me! Vol. 2 by Junko

© 2022, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Weekly Mews: Long List of New TBR Additions (Thanks, Santa!)

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz  where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.

I am linking up Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently.  
I am almost sad to see December go although will be glad to see the backside of 2022 for a number of reasons. Overall, December turned out to be a good reading month. We all seem to be feeling better and are looking forward to spending the evening with friends to celebrate the coming of the new year: homemade pizza and good company. 

We had a nice quiet Christmas with my mom, our family of three, and the cats. We had our traditional spaghetti dinner and settled in at the end of the day to watch the new Mathilda movie. I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a good holiday as well. 

Work has been on the slow side these past couple weeks, although we had a lot of staff out on vacation or because of illness. I had plenty to do. 

Last night Anjin, Mouse and I stayed up later than planned playing an escape room card game. It was quite fun! It was a rainy night out which helped set the mood. We are expecting rain tonight as well and I do hope we get some! I send warm thoughts to all of you who are dealing with stormy weather and the freezing cold. 

Read Recently

I finally finished listening to the audiobook of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I started listening to it in April of this year. I likely will reread the book in print form at some point. I feel like I lost a lot given the length of time it took me to listen to it--and just listening to it in general. I'm too easily distracted  by external and internal sources. But I still loved it, and Juliet Stevenson was brilliant as the narrator. Next up will be Mansfield Park--I think I'll stick to print though. 

I also recently read the first volume of Junko's Kiss Him, Not Me!, which is a somewhat cute comedic romantic manga that my daughter has gotten into. I have mixed feelings about it. It is about a girl whose favorite anime character is killed off and she is so upset she stops eating, losing a lot of weight. Suddenly these cute boys at school all want to date her. She's not really interested in them though (at least not yet). She rather likes imaging them coupling off. I am not a fan of the premise but it has its moments. It's raised some good discussions between my daughter, husband and myself though, so there's that. 

Reading Now

I am currently reading the first in the Shades of Magic trilogy, A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab. 

What are you reading right now?

New to the Shelves

Christmas was good to us this year. Check out what we found under the tree!

Wendy's Book Loot (including the Tardis bookmark)
A Dead and Stormy Night (Nevermore Bookshop Mysteries #1) by Steffanie Holmes
Of Mice and Murder (Nevermore Bookshop Mysteries #2) by Steffanie Holmes
Pride and Premeditation (Nevermore Bookshop Mysteries #3) by Steffanie Holmes

Wendy's Book Loot
Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda
Monstress, Vol. 6: The Vow by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda
Monstress, Vol. 7: Devourer by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda

Mouse's Book Loot
The Marvellers (Marvellverse #1) by Dhonielle Clayton
Mihi Ever After (#1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez
Ravenfall (#1) by Kalyn Josephson
Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities #8) by Shannon Messenger
Unlocked (Keeper of the Lost Cities #8.5) by Shannon Messenger

Mouse's Book Loot
Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 10 by Kamome Shirahama
Ghostly Things, Vol. 1 by Ushio Shirotori
The Apothecary Diaries, Vol. 7 by Nekokurage, Natsu Hyuuga & Itsuki Nanao

Mouse's Book Loot
My Happy Marriage, Vol. 1 by Akumi Agitogi
My Happy Marriage, Vol. 2 by Akumi Agitogi
My Happy Marriage, Vol. 3 by Akumi Agitogi

Anjin's Book Loot
Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Other bookish themed gifts from my family included a music note themed card catalog bookmark for Mouse, a reading kitty from my mom for me, and a Pemberley hat from my husband and daughter.  

Look what Mrs. Claus put in my stocking this year! I found these TBR Tarot Cards ("Overcome your TBR overwhelm!") while searching for gifts for family and friends on Etsy and couldn't resist. The idea is to shuffle the deck, pick a card randomly, and follow the instructions. Don't Judge Books has YA, Kids, and Thriller editions too. 

★                          ★                          ★

The day after Christmas, we braved going to Barnes and Noble to take advantage of the sale . . . And to spend our gift cards (Mouse faired much better in the bookstore gift card department than I did--and she still has one left over!).

Not the Witch You Wed (Supernatural Singles #1) by April Asher

Mouse's Gift Card Loot:
Stellarlune (Keeper of the Lost Cities #9) by Shannon Messenger

Mouse's Gift Card Loot:
The Silver Arrow  (#1) by Lev Grossman
Wings of Olympus  (#1)   by Kallie George, illustrated by Fiona Hseih

Mouse's Gift Card Loot
The Nameless City (#1) by Faith Erin Hicks
Middle School Mayhem (Misadventures of Max Crumbly #2) by Rachel Renée Russell
Another Kind by Trevor Bream, illustrated by Cait May

Mouse's Gift Card Loot
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 5 by Kaiu Shirai, illustrated by Poskuka Demizu
by Satoru Yamaguchi, illustrated by Nami Hidaka
by Satoru Yamaguchi, illustrated by Nami Hidaka
by Satoru Yamaguchi, illustrated by Nami Hidaka

Mouse's Gift Card Loot
Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1 by Bisco Hatori, translated by Kenichiro Yagi
My Hero Academia, Vol. 1 by Kohei Horikoshi
Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Vol. 1 by Bokuto Uno & Miyuki Ruria 
Komi Can't Communicate, Vol. 1 by Tomohito Oda, translated by John Werry

★                          ★                          ★

Mouse and I visited our local independent bookstore and picked up some books from there as well: 

Wendy's Purchases:
The Verifiers (#1) by Jane Pek
When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

Mouse's Purchases
The Hide Away by Pam Smy
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

Additional Purchases (Mouse & I will fight over  who gets to read these first):
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

★                          ★                          ★

It's been so long since I won a giveaway, much less a book related one! I recently participated in a cozy mystery party on Facebook and won a copy of Joann Keder's Chaos and Cranberries  (A Piney Falls/Charming Mystery Christmas Crossover). You can read my review here.

What new books made it onto your shelf recently? 

This Past Month In Reading Mews

Let me know what you have been reading and watching! Have a great weekend and Happy New Year!

© 2022, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Bookish Mewsings: The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox & Chaos and Cranberries by Joann Keder (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Along with my mini reviews, I am linking to both Book Beginnings, a meme in which readers share the first sentence of a book they are reading, hosted by Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader and Friday 56 hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice, in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading.

Charlie Goodwin drew a shaky breath and tapped furiously on her phone, the screen illuminating her face in the otherwise dark storeroom. [opening of The Holiday Swap]
"I know how she feels. Work can be all-consuming. It's hard to remember there's more to life than the show." 

"'The show'?"

"Oh, I just meant, like, work can be a  sort of circus show . . . You know? Charlie sipped her water, hoping Jake didn't notice she was flustered.  [excerpt from 56% in The Holiday Swap]

The Holiday Swap
by Maggie Knox
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2021
Romance/Holiday; 351 pgs

Writing team Marissa Stapley and Karma Brown, writing as Maggie Knox, have written a sweet romance about identical twins who switch places over the holiday season. Charlie Goodwin cohosts a reality baking show with a condescending and handsy cohost. When she suffers a concussion in an accident, she is forced to take some time off--only it couldn't be at the worst time. With her career on the line, she begs her sister Cass to trade places with her. Cass is dealing with her own issues--it's holiday time at the family bakery and business is extra busy. She's just broken up with her long-time boyfriend who cannot seem to accept that they are not a couple anymore. Plus, rumor has it a big box bakery may be moving to town, which will threaten the Goodwin family's business. Cass readily agrees to the switch, and the two step into each others lives.

Both Charlie and Cass are different enough personality wise, but also similar as sisters often are. Neither is completely happy with their lives the way they are and switching places gives them an opportunity to see what life might be like in each other's shoes. I really enjoyed my time with Charlie and Cass as they discovered something in themselves they did not realize they had. For Charlie, it was reconnecting with her roots and realizing she does not have to be someone she isn't. And for Cass, it was realizing she has the courage and strength to go after her own dreams and set her own path. 

While playing the role of Cass, Charlie is still dealing with the side effects from her concussion while at the same time managing her family's business at their busiest time of year. The schedule is hectic to say the least. Her sister's ex keeps popping up at the worst times, and she's is falling hard for the dependable and swoon-worthy firefighter Jake. Meanwhile, her sister Cass is putting on high heels and taking to the stage, trying to stay ahead of the manipulative and conniving Austin, her cohost and nemesis. They are both up for the same job, a new baking reality show, and Cass doesn't want to blow it for her sister. There's also the cute (and also swoon-worthy) Miguel, the physician's assistant who had first diagnosed Charlie with her concussion. He and Cass have really hit it off and their relationship is getting serious fast. While Cass and Charlie both struggle with how to tell the new men in their lives the truth, they also make little and sometimes big changes in each others lives--all for what each of them considers for the better. But will the other sister feel the same way? 

Twins switching places is not a new trope but I do enjoy reading these types of stories from time to time. It is always interesting to see the direction an author will take her characters and story. The Holiday Swap was an enjoyable and sweet holiday romance. Cass and Charlie are both relatable characters as are their love interests.  I also really liked seeing the growth in some of the side characters, particularly Sharon, who I admittedly was not fond of in the beginning. This holiday novel reminded me of a Hallmark holiday movie in many ways. While not a stand out holiday romance for me, it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours this holiday season. 

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Tug Muehler, normally calm and composed, leaned over the check-in desk, grasping each side with his muscular arms. [opening of Chaos and Cranberries]
November Bean had gone home to change into a jumpsuit adorned with tiny reindeer, matching glasses frames, and headband, too. She had bells that jingled on her sneakers, which she hadn't removed, and something brown and shiny around her neck. Lanie warned Feather privately not to ask about it. [excerpt from 56% in Chaos and Cranberries]

Chaos and Cranberries
 (A Piney Falls/Charming Mysteries Christmas Crossover) by Joann Keder
Purpleflower Press, 2022
Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal/Holiday; 350 pgs

I won a copy of Chaos and Cranberries this past week in a giveaway and decided to dive right in. There's nothing like a little murder to spruce up the holiday season! This is my first book by Joann Keder, although not the first in her two series featuring the Piney Falls and Charming characters. And while I generally prefer to start at the beginning of a series, I had no trouble jumping into both in this crossover mystery. Chaos and Cranberries is a great introduction to several unique and fun characters. Not to mention I now I have two new cozy series to add to my already burgeoning cozy mystery to read list!

In Chaos and Cranberries, Feather Jones and her boyfriend Tug arrive at their hotel in Piney Falls ready for a little Christmas vacation only to find out their room isn't available. Someone has been murdered and the room is now a crime scene. Lanie Anders, who works at the hotel, invites Feather and Tug to stay in hers and her husband's guesthouse when she finds out about their dilemma. What could be a more perfect crime fighting team than Feather, Lanie and friends? Lanie is known about town for having a nose for solving crime, and Feather's not new to investigating crimes either. Feather has the advantage of being able to communicate with the dead too, which proves an asset in Chaos and Cranberries. With Christmas right around the corner, the women hope to find the murderer in time to still enjoy the holiday. 

I was hooked from the beginning of this mystery. The characters are quirky and fun. I appreciated that the author gives the reader a glimpse into the tragic pasts of the main characters. This is not a novel where you will find a loving supportive family behind the protagonists--but rather a strong and supportive group of friends who chose their own family. Lanie seems like the kind of person everyone loves and would want to call a friend. She's inviting and kind. She and her husband Cosmo are both great characters and are so much in love. I also really liked Feather and Tug. Both are down to earth characters and clearly devoted to each other. I found Lanie's bestfriend a bit overwhelming at times, but she did provide much needed comic relief.

I enjoyed the witty banter between the characters and the paranormal aspects that Feather's abilities brought to the story. The mystery itself was darker than I anticipated--creepy with a teaspoon of macabre thrown in--but that is not a bad thing. There were plenty of twists and an unexpected turn or two. The novel is high in suspense, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see what would happen next. If you like edgier cozy mysteries with a strong paranormal element, then this cozy might be a good one for you. 

Do either of these books sound like a book you might enjoy reading? If you have read them, tell me what you thought!

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