2022 Reading Wrap-Up

That’s right, I’m still here. Wouldn’t know it by looking at this dusty old blog, would you?

Since we last spoke, I’ve kind of come to terms with the idea that while I can, and will, blog about books, I’m probably not what you’d call a ‘book blogger.’

I say this because I have made dozens of vows to ‘be better’ and ‘post more’ and all that sort of thing. I’m not taking any posts down so look back if you want to see what I mean. But since we last spoke in early September, I’ve come to terms with the fact that… it ain’t gonna happen. Sure, I’ll post about books but I’m almost 100% guaranteed not to post if I set goals or a schedule or all that sort of thing. So no more vows, just… mood posting, let’s say.

And today’s mood is… my 2022 Reading Wrap-Up.

I am writing this on December 11, meaning there are twenty days left of 2022 but the three books I’m currently reading are fairly long and chances of me finishing them are… slim. But for full disclosure, before we move on to the official wrap-up, here’s what I’m currently reading & do hope to finish before January 1.

  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Eleanor: The Years Alone by Joseph P. Lash
  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

I set a Goodreads Goal last January. I am not going to come close to reaching it, and frankly, I don’t care. I have read 43 books this year (again, hoping to hit 46) and some of them have been terrible but some have been amazing & fast become new favorites.


  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
  • Cherokee America by Margaret Verble
  • Bring Her Homeby David Bell
  • Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones
  • The Third Secret by Steve Berry
  • The Green Mile (complete series) by Stephen King
  • If It Bleeds by Stephen King
  • A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker
  • A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende


  • Churchill’s Hellraisers by Damien Lewis
  • North to Paradise by Ousman Umar
  • Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • The Son and Heir by Alexander Munninghoff

“The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle” by Matt Cain

This novel is… everything. It is the perfect way of telling the story of what it means to be human – the fear, the bravery, the pain, the healing, the heartbreak, the love… of yourself and of those around you.

I did not expect all of that, but maybe that’s because I’m a jaded human in need of some of the self-discovery journey that Albert Entwistle goes on in this novel.

And it isn’t a journey that chooses him. He chooses it.

That’s what makes Matt Cain’s story stand out from others like it. The only nudges Albert really receives to start his journey are the death of his beloved cat and a chance meeting with a young woman named Nicole who is also in search of herself. The rest is all what he decides to do. No one setting things in motion to ‘fix’ him, just Albert taking the incredibly daunting steps to right the wrongs of four decades ago… and finding himself along the way.

The friendship between sixty-four year old Albert and twenty-year-old Nicole is so pure and healing for both of them. And that she is given the minor story to his major (and the detail, nuance, and attention paid to it) is absolutely, to use the word again, perfect.

And while the novel is about love, it acknowledges the reality that there are many, many kinds of love and each of us deserve them all. And then, in what counts as the end, is the culmination of all that love into a final, yes, happily-ever-after that is far deeper than “we lived happily ever after.”

This novel is now one of the best I’ve ever read. I laughed. I cried, out of sadness and out of happiness. And I cannot wait to read it again!

(I received a copy of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle through a Goodreads giveaway. My thanks to the publisher and Goodreads for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Hi. Hello. Here’s to a…

new beginning. Here’s to a new beginning. It’s not January 1 so this isn’t a New Year’s Resolution. If anything, it’s an almost-September-1-resolution… which, of course, is not actually a thing. And yet here we are.

I haven’t posted since late January 28, 2022. Today is August 29, 2022 so I am killing this ‘blogger’ game, aren’t I? Or being killed by it? Oh well, let’s not get bogged down in semantics.

The point remains that I, your horrifically bad blogger friend, am in fact still here. Haven’t fallen off the face of the earth or something fun like that. I just… didn’t blog about books. I was on fire reading for a couple months there, then fell into a summertime rut as I had adventures with my nephew & my niece and couldn’t finish a book. They told me how much they love books, though, so I’ll take that. (He’s going into second grade & quite proud of the fact that he can almost read The Berenstain Bears on his own and she’s going into kindergarten and kept quoting Geronimo Stilton to me.)

As for me and the reading I’ve done this year…

  • 36 books read so far this year (five behind on the way to my Goodreads goal of 63 thanks to that summer slump but it’s fine)
  • I read Stephen King’s The Green Mile series finally and absolutely loved every page of it
  • Not a lot of 5 stars books (which might explain my allergy to blogging regularly…) but if I had to pick the two best books out of the 36… Bring Her Home by David Bell is the best fiction (crime/thriller/mystery) and North to Paradise by Ousman Umar is the best non-fiction (immigrant memoir)
  • Currently reading: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (a re-read of short stories), The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain (not quite halfway through and this may be one of my favorite books of all time), and 7 by Van Mayhall (planning to start this tomorrow)

Other than that, I’m not making plans or promises for this little blog. I want to do better, simple as that.

And who knows, maybe I will. Miracles do happen, haha.

Editorializing on Books #1: Novels About Living People

Hello & welcome to a thing I’m going try… try to do in a more formal way, in any case, since what is a blog but a place for opinions and editorializing. Anyway, I’ve tried this before and failed so this time I’m not setting a frequency goal or a schedule. When I have something to say, I’ll say it. And pat myself on the back for it. Maybe dare to dream that it’ll prod you to share your thoughts, in agreement or disagreement but always civilized please, on the matter.

On to the first topic of discussion, which you can probably tell by the title of this post is… novels about living people.

I keep seeing publicity on Twitter and Instagram for a novel called All the Queen’s Men. We’re not going to be tagging the author or even the publisher because we’re not about shaming or spotlighting negatively because we have opinions. If you want to know because you want to read it, remember that Google exists. (And I’ll quit saying ‘we’ like I am a queen.)

In short, All the Queen’s Men is a murder mystery novel about Queen Elizabeth II who, according to summaries I’ve seen, finds someone murdered at Buckingham Palace and sets out to to solve it. As the ninety-something queen she now is. It’s apparently the second novel in a series.

My editorializing today is not solely related to Queen Elizabeth II. I would have an issue with any novel written about a living person. It seems… kind of strange to want to write a book and think of a real, living person for a main character. I’ve been in the fanfiction world, I’ve seen so-called ‘real person fiction (RPF)’ and it’s pretty taboo (and even banned by FanFiction.Net) because of the strange, disturbing places it can go. Obviously, this novel I saw the ads for is published by a major publisher so I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt that it’s no super obsessive stalker erotica, like some RPF can be, but I’m still uneasy about the ethics of the whole idea.

An even stronger limb to go out on would be that Queen Elizabeth II did not give consent to this, and consent seems like it should be an important factor whenever someone submits a manuscript involving a real, living person.

I have to believe that authors worthy of that title could come with something more original and creative than stealing someone’s name and making their life something else entirely. And this is especially true if the author makes it known that their subject-slash-main character is someone they admire. Do you really admire someone if you’re making money off fictionalizing their life?

I could go on, but I won’t. Where do you stand on the ethics of novels about living people? Leave a comment and let me know!

Reviewed: “The Ventriloquists” by E.R. Ramzipoor

I have a list of my top five favorite World War II novels, and E.R. Ramzipoor’s The Ventriloquists now counts among it.

The characters, some of whom were real people who dared to stand up to the Nazis and some who were created by the author, are deep, complex, and unique individuals who come together in a stunningly powerful way to make a statement when they know they are doomed no matter what.

Ramzipoor is able to use this sense of impending doom; the presence of the Nazis would be doom enough on it’s own, to give their characters a reason to speak up and act out. What else have they got to lose, really? And Aubrion, Noel, Lada, Gamin, Wellens, Spiegelman, and even the boys in the workhouses have nothing to lose. It’s clear they don’t really see themselves as having much to gain given, again, the fact that the Nazis are in Belgium.

So under the guise of their resistance movement, and as an ultimate act of resistance when they are conscripted to aid the Nazi propaganda movement, they create a newspaper that mocks the Nazis and their propaganda and pull off more than one ruse to manipulate the Nazis into helping them.

The Ventriloquists is in turn humorous and tragic. It is a story of hope in the face of certain defeat. It is the story of what humans can do for one another when it seems like the end is nigh.

(Thanks to NetGalley, Park Row, and E.R. Ramzipoor for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest & original review.)

Top 10 Books of 2021 (and some random stats)

As years go, 2021 had… well, it had it’s moments. I barely blogged, so there’s that. But I read 63 books, and that’s nothing to sniff at. Some were chapter books with reading levels of Grade 5, or lower, that I unearthed while stress-cleaning my closet but if there’s one thing that this never-ending pandemic has taught me it’s that the devil is in the details so… avoid the details wherever possible. Reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle counts just as much as one book read when you’re fully an adult as it did when your second grade teacher gave it to you.

A book is a book and if you read it, you read a book.


I read a little bit of everything this year; historical fiction (of course), science fiction, fantasy, true crime, romance, cozy mysteries, rom-coms, non-fiction, history, poetry… and I’m pretty happy with that too.

The first three books I read this year were The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Secret History, and The Summer of the Swans. The final three books I read this year were Three Sisters in Black, The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Heart Mountain.

I didn’t keep track of a lot of other statistics, though I meant to but, again, the devil is in the details and I did not have time for the devil. I’d say I’m going to try and keep better track of details in 2022 but… I’ll let you know how that went next year.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 books I read in 2021.

In 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th place (in no particular order)…

  • The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
  • Spunky by Dori Brink
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • Killer Content by Olivia Blacke
  • The Guncle by Stephen Rowley

In 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place (in no particular order)…

  • The Nine by Gwen Strauss
  • You, Me, and the Colors of Life by Noa C. Walker
  • The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker

I’m not going to give mini-reviews or say that you should read them. The internet exists, after all, and for the purposes of this post… I absolutely loved all ten of these books and will, without a doubt, read them again. Check them out and see if they’re your type of thing, give them a try, and let me know if you do!

I passed the goal I set for myself on Goodreads by three books this year, so I’ll set it at 63 for next year. I did it once, I can do it again. And that’s my only particular goal other than to read, read, and then read some more.

Let me know in the comments if you’re setting goals or how you did this year!

Happy New Year, people, let’s hope 2022 is kinder!

Reviewed: “The Girl at the Door” by Veronica Raimo

tw: rape, sexual assault, abuse, drug use, professor-student relationship

Trigger warnings are required for this novel, because it is based on all of those things. That’s where the story comes from, so you can’t read them… don’t read this.

That being said, if you can read those things and want to try a very unique novel, give this one a try.

Raimo doesn’t give any of the characters names; and it is told from the perspective of Him and Her, i.e. the Professor and his Partner. They lived in what is meant to be a utopian sort of community after the rest of the world has crashed, but the community is as bland in it’s desire to have social equality as it is repressive in it’s desire to ensure that it remains a ‘utopia.’

Both Her and Him came from somewhere else with the desire to find a place among all the rules (there are rules about where furniture can be placed and there are rules about what you must contribute to the community) and away from the chaos of home.

The novel begins with a former student of the Professor turning up to tell his Partner that he raped her two years ago and that she is starting the process to have him expelled from the community.

From there, the story of why they wanted to fit in and how they don’t, why they don’t want to fit in and how the do is told as the Professor’s case goes through the self-proclaimed fair system of justice in the community. It’s stark and it’s not easy to read, because of what caused it all but…

…in the end it is a fascinating look at, simply put, how the grass is very rarely greener on the other side.

(Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the chance to read this book. I apologize for how long it took for me to get to it.)

Reviewed: “The Guncle” by Stephen Rowley

This book soothed me. It made me laugh and it made me cry, happy tears and sad. As a single, childless aunt to kids not that much different in age from the kids in this book… I think I even learned to just be myself with them even more reading this. They can be themselves and I can be me.

And we’ll be okay, no matter what.

Sure, I’m not a rich star with a pool and a bottomless bank account but… sometimes you just have to stop taking yourself so seriously and be silly.

I didn’t expect to find a lesson in this book, and sometimes ‘lessons’ in books can be preachy and pretentious, but this is a good lesson. A good reminder.

And a fantastic book!

(Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Reviewed: “Wunderland” by Jennifer Cody Epstein

I think there may have been too many timelines in Wunderland for it to reach it’s full potential as a World War II novel.

I give it credit for not trending toward outright romance in the shadow of war, as a lot of WWII novels do, or focusing on some aspect of the resistance to the Nazis, as many WWII novels do. The author attempted something different with Wunderland in that she focused on women in Nazi Germany and the effects that could have through the subsequent generations.

Unfortunately, it fell flat and a lot of that can be, I think, laid at the doorstep of too many timelines playing out at once and too much switching back and forth. It got confusing and clunky in places.

I wanted to read more about each of the women and every time the next page switched timelines, I couldn’t help but wish we were sticking with the one who’d just been speaking.

Really, the story of Isle and Renate, Ava and Sophie could have been a duology to a trilogy and it would have been good. The subject matter deserved something more given what the author was obviously trying to convey in an under 400 page book that spanned sixty years and four main characters.


(Thanks to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the chance to read this book in exchange for a honest review. I apologize for how long it took.)

Reviewed: “Killer Content” by Olivia Blacke

This book was such good fun!!! Yes, it included a murder but… watching Louisiana girl Odessa Dean try to fit in with the hipster crowd in Williamsburg, Brooklyn while trying to solve the murder of a co-worker/sorta friend was pure fun! Odessa is funny, witty, charming, and utterly self-effacing. She goofs and she’s not afraid to goof or admit that she goofed. She’s just herself, and that’s so much fun to see.

I suppose KILLER CONTENT could be classed as a cozy mystery, except Olivia Blacke has put a twist on the idea of ‘cozy’ and while it’s set in a bookshop, the bookshop doesn’t double as a coffee shop or a bakery as most cozy mysteries do. It doubles as a hipster cafe and hub for microbreweries. That makes everything a bit more edgy and modern, compared to the usual formula for cozy mysteries. The best subtle part of the comparison is that Odessa’s tiny hometown in Louisiana is probably exactly where a normal cozy mystery would be set.

A third thing that’s special and different about KILLER CONTENT is that Odessa is not looking for love and she does not find it. No falling for vegan, gluten-free hipster or sexy cops. Just Odessa being Odessa, and figuring out that it’s just fine to be Odessa. It’s so sweet when she gets excited that people like her for her, when she makes true friends when she felt so cut off.

This is book one in a series and I cannot wait for book two!

Thanks to NetGalley, Berkley, and the author for a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.