May 2021 Reads

At the first of the month I was ahead 4 books and reading a lot more. Nice weather helps.


You Should See Me In A Crown (Leah Johnson)
Liz Lighty is a high school senior in the Midwest, whose dreams of attending a prestigious college are in jeopardy when she doesn’t get a scholarship she was counting on. The solution? Win the prize money for being elected Prom Queen at her prom obsessed high school. A F/F romance, anxiety attacks, a great group of friends, and Liz’s experiences being a black girl at her predominantly white school all come together during the competition. I loved the little observances and feelings about her being the “other” at her school, as well as a F/F romance treated so normally.

Tailspin (Sandra Brown)
A cargo pilot crashes while taking a mysterious package to a destination during heavy fog. When he and the recipient meet up, they’re soon followed, and the pilot discovers he’s hauling more than he bargained for. I found this book interesting for the flight stuff. It’s a romance and a thriller, but I wasn’t completely engaged with it.

Roadside Crosses (Kathryn Dance, #2) (Jeffery Deaver)
The second novel of the Kathryn Dance series picks up shortly after the events in book 1. I enjoyed the book more than the first in some ways, mostly because so many of the players were already familiar to me, so it didn’t feel very crowded like the first book did. The primary case is of roadside memorials being left before people are attacked, and how it relates to a local blog that may be prompting the killer to target people.

The Broken Window (Lincoln Rhyme, #8) (Jeffery Deaver)
Another Lincoln Rhyme book that kept me guessing until the end. I also enjoyed that this one is carrying on a bit from the previous book, and Lincoln has a nemesis to worry about. Overall, I enjoy these books so much because of the characters and the intricate plotting.

Non Fiction

Everest The Cruel Way (Joe Tasker)
This book tells the story of the 1981 British expedition to climb the West Ridge of Everest in the winter without oxygen. It was interesting from the perspective of an early climbing expedition without all of the modern technology and extras people have today. Tasker died a year after this expedition on the Northeast Ridge of Everest.

Everest: Alone at the Summit (Stephen Venables)
This recounts the Everest 88 expedition to climb the Kangshung Face of Everest. It was an interesting look at a part of the mountain I didn’t know very much about, and definitely has more of a climbing vibe than other books.

Current Progress:

26/52 – I’m way behind last year, but I’m also not reading Shakespeare which is why I had such a huge number of reads last year. I’m still ahead of schedule. I’m half way through the challenge and not the year, so everything’s on schedule.

April 2021 Reads

I was one book ahead at the end of March. Reading was a bit slow despite all the time I had. I’m finding it hard to concentrate at the moment.


The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance, #1) (Jeffery Deaver)
I really went back and forth on this book. I enjoyed Kathryn Dance’s character when she was introduced in the Lincoln Rhyme book The Cold Moon. I found there to be too many characters, especially law enforcement, and too much life outside of the case. But some of the secondary characters (the cult victims) I really enjoyed their interactions and stories.

Smokescreen (Eve Duncan, #25) (Iris Johansen)
I keep reading this series even though it annoys and frustrates me. At least this time the bad guy was a woman, which is at least a change. But, as always, the baddie is a sex crazed loon. I’m really tired of that trope. The baddie is always controlling and sex crazed abusive. Always. And every character is egotistical, bullish, uber-independent to the point of stupidity and controlling beyond belief. I can’t think of anyone who’d want to actually spend time with people like this. I have one more in this series that I got as a gift, and after that I think I’m out.

The Persuasion (Eve Duncan, #26) (Iris Johansen)
Yep, I’m out. It’s another sex-crazed lunatic. It’s more characters being total hypocrites (I can look after and do everything myself!/How dare you think you can do this alone?). Ugh. I found myself skimming so much of it because they grate on me so badly. I almost want to go back and read the first few in the series to see if they were always like this and it took me time to get annoyed with it, or if it actually developed into this.

Non Fiction

Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season (Nick Heil)
During the initial pandemic, I read a lot of books about the 1996 Everest season, so it’s only fitting that a year later, during more pandemic, that I dip into the 2006 season. Heil’s book is a great overview of the different groups and the deaths that took place during the 2006 season on the North side of Everest. I was really unfamiliar with the North side, so it was nice to learn more about the climbing from that side.

Dead Lucky (Lincoln Hall)
Part of the 2006 North side Everest season, Hall was declared dead after summiting Everest, when he developed cerebral edema and could not be helped down the mountain. A day later, climbers going for the summit came across a relatively lucid Lincoln Hall and a huge rescue operation was undertaken. In Hall’s own words, this book covers the climbing season and his extraordinary tale of survival. I really enjoyed this one. Hall is a great writer, and reconstructing his delirious moments on Everest could not have been easy.

The Other Side of Everest (Matt Dickinson)
Still on the North side, but now we go back to 1996. The storm that killed so many on the South side (covered in many other books, see May 2020 for some reviews) is told from the point of view of climbers on the North side in this book. Dickinson didn’t climb during the storm, and this book is more about actually climbing Everest than the events of 1996. I think this book does the best job of illustrating how awful being at altitude is physically and how horrible climbing Everest is.

Legs on Everest: The Full Story of His Most Remarkable Adventure Yet (Mark Inglis)
Back to 2006 North side of Everest and here we follow climber and double leg amputee Mark Inglis. He first recounts his time climbing Cho Oyu, and then climbing the North route of Everest in the 2006 year that Nick Heil also wrote about. This book is written in a diary/conversational style. There’s not a lot of analysis on what the climb is, but more personal experience with a focus on him climbing as an amputee. Inglis’s climb took place during Lincoln Hall’s Everest experience and Nick Heil’s climb, so they are all intertwined – very different experiences of the same time period.

Current Progress:

20/52 – I’m way behind last year, but I’m also not reading Shakespeare which is why I had such a huge number of reads last year. I’m still ahead of schedule.

March 2021 Reads

At the start of the month I was about 2 books ahead of pace and now I’m just one ahead, but I blame that on a very dense non-fic book this month that took a lot of time to get through. I’m much slower than last year, but I read a lot of short Shakespeare last year so I probably won’t be on the same pace this year.


Crashing Heat (Richard Castle aka Tom Straw)
This is, I believe, the last book released by TV character Richard Castle – in reality, writer Tom Straw who was contracted to write as Richard Castle during the run of the TV series Castle. The meta commentary is always funny in these books, but the stories are also very engaging. Heat and Rook investigate the death of a college newspaper reporter, and Rook is the prime suspect. Clearing his name sends Heat and Rook into the world of secret societies.

Expedition to the Frozen Lake (Chuck Tingle)
Yes, I have dipped my toe into the Tingleverse. Tingle writes “tinglers”, his own special brand of erotic fiction, along with other books. This is one of them, a “select your own timeline” novel that is not erotic/romantic in nature (Tingle has something for everyone). I honestly marvelled at the construction of the book – the amount of planning so that every storyline converges and has a proper ending must be crazy and I appreciate it from a writer standpoint in so many ways. As a reader, just as you’ve accepted the fact this book features a talking bigfoot named Noro Bibble, a machete-wielding sentient apple and a ghostly woman living at the bottom of the lake, the author hits you with a universal truth on loss, love, and life. People may think Chuck Tingle is writing these books as a joke, but it’s impossible to think that once you read one. His writing is a joyful acceptance of everything different in the world, and it’s sorely needed right now.

The Cold Moon (Lincoln Rhyme, #7) (Jeffery Deaver)
I was so happy to jump back into this world. Lincoln Rhyme is still Morgan Freeman in my head, and Amelia Sachs is still Riann Steele and Dellray is still … Sammy Davis Jr (I KNOW! It’s my imagination and it’s crazy, deal with it). Each book is so good, and I don’t want to spoil this one, but every time you think the case is done it spins you in a new direction and converges things that you completely forgot about. This book also introduces the character of Kathryn Dance, who figures in another series by Deaver. I was worried at first because I hadn’t read any Dance books, but discovered this was her first appearance, so next up I’m going to read the first book in that series, The Sleeping Doll.

Non Fiction

Cults In Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace (Margaret Thaler Singer)
I picked this book up out of a local Little Free Library as I had a germ of an idea for a cult-based thriller. It’s a very dense book that explains the definitions, techniques and recovery of cult members. I wish it had had case studies of specific cults (breaking down what type they are, their history, what happened to/with them etc) and maybe studies of specific people who got out, but it was mostly general information.

Current Read Count – 13/52 (I’m one book ahead of schedule)

February 2021 Reads

I had a really tough reading month in January and only got through 3 books. Here’s hoping for a better February.


Covenant (Potomac University, #2) (Rashid Darden)
This is the follow up to Lazarus, Darden’s debut novel. It follows on Adrian and his relationship with star basketball player Isaiah and Isaiah’s reluctance to be fully out and sever ties with his girlfriend.

Push Girl (Chelsie Hill & Jessica Love)
This YA novel is about Kara, a dancer and high school student who is in a car accident that renders her paraplegic. I liked the book, but I really wish it had gone deeper. I felt like a lot was missing in terms of physical recovery and so on. But it was an YA book, so a lot of the focus was on her friends, boyfriend, school etc.

Non Fiction

Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History (Eve Lazarus)
This book focuses on a lot of historical Vancouver places and buildings, their history and what became of them. There’s lots of great photos and I learned a lot about places and people I never knew about before. My dad also contributed to one of the sections in the book.

Mistakes to Run With (Yasuko Thanh)
This memoir is one of those books that makes a writer feel like they aren’t good with words and don’t have the life experience to write anything worthwhile. For real though, the poetic way Thanh recounts her life as a teenage runaway and prostitute in Victoria and Vancouver, her struggles with mental illness and her life as a writer shows why she’s won numerous writing awards.

All God’s Children (Rene Denfeld)
Denfeld is also a fiction author (I have a couple of her books in my TBR pile), but this book is non fiction about the formation and nature of ‘street families’ – connective groups formed by youth living on the streets. It deals with the violent nature of particular families in the Portland area in the early ’90s to 2000s. I really enjoyed this – an episode of ER dealt with the fantastical side of it in an episode years ago, and I liked learning more about it from a sociological point of view. It covers an extremely sad case of a young woman with disabilities, Jessica Kate Williams, and how she was turned against for violating “code” and murdered by her street family. The quotes and interview bits from the murderers is particularly disturbing. Overall, this was a great book.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 9/52 I’m finally on pace! 

January 2021 Reads

New year, new Goodreads challenge. I’ve set my goal at 52 again (1 book per week).


Archangel Fallen (Spectre, #3) (C.W. Lemoine)
Book 3 in the Spectre series, it begins where the last book ended. We follow Cal as he’s pursued by the police and government and trying to uncover why members of his team are being killed. This book doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending, although it does lead into the next book. I’m a little military thriller worn out now, so I found it a good place to pause this series for now.

Lazarus (Potomac University, #1) (Rashid Darden)
This book is a re-read for me, as Darden is hosting a book club to read his works. This is the first book we’re tackling. It follows Adrian, a sophomore at Potomac who is navigating his life as a black gay man on a predominantly white campus. His involvement with a Greek organization is a primary plot point and how it affects his relationship with poet Savion.

Non Fiction

Solutions and Other Problems (Allie Brosh)
I really wish I liked this book more because I loved her previous one. Some stories were hilarious (Richard, Becky and her sister), but most fell flat. I always felt that recounting her childhood was the best of her work. The present day or recent present stuff felt forced, and considering the personal issues Brosh was suffering from (health problems, depression, the suicide of her sister), it makes sense that they didn’t have the same hilarity and joy as her previous work.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 3/52

I’m behind by two books so far.


Sin City series free in Kindle Unlimited

If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can now read the Sin City series for free.

Sin City (Sin City, #1)
This link should direct you to the proper Amazon link for your country.

The Dead Woman (Sin City, #2)

Bayou Bound (Sin City, #3)

You can also read Tilt (Sin City, #1.5) for free.

If you’d like to read Piece of Work (Sin City, #0.5), a short prequel, visit the Freebies page. And if you’re in the mood for a Christmas short, Neon and Tinsel (Sin City, #2.5) is only 99 cents on all platforms.

The Sin City series takes place in 1960s Las Vegas. Tim Kelly is a petty criminal with a chip on his shoulder, and Ruby Gordon is new in town and intrigued by him. Jake Wheeler is determined to ruin everything.

2020 Roundup

So 2020 was a sucky year for all.

For my writing, it was a so-so year. First, I have to thank everyone who bought my books. I had a great year of sales after the initial pandemic slow down, and that alone kept me motivated when I wasn’t. Thank you so much for your reviews and comments as well. I appreciate it so much.

For me, writing took a backseat the past year. Not because of the pandemic, but because of personal health problems. I was diagnosed with both myalgic encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia this year. It had been years of searching for answers, doctors appointments, medical tests etc. To finally have answers was great, even if those answers sucked (and quite honestly I still struggle with the ME/CFS diagnosis, because that one precludes me from ever donating blood again).

One of the biggest symptoms of fibro is brain fog. I experienceit enough that it made writing difficult. I also experienced a lot of pain and fatigue. Although things haven’t changed much in the symptom arena, I’m better at managing it, so I’m hoping I can get back to a regular schedule.

I did manage to do most of the editing for Book 1 of my YA series. I say most because as I edit Book 2 I think of little changes for Book 1. But I’m at a place where the major and minor storylines are set and it’s just tiny corrections/mentions at this point.

So 2021 is focused on finishing the edit of Book 2 and moving on to continue to write Book 3, which is about 50K at this point. I also have set a goal to plot a bunch of new novels, whatever comes into my head. I’d love to get back to Sin City, but I’ve hit a plotting wall in terms of trying to get from Point A to Point B but needing to come up with a solution that makes that happen.

The Sin City series is now available for Kindle Unlimited. If you have a subscription you can read for free!

I also have the goal of reading 52 books again this year. I have made mini goals to read all of Jane Austen and as much Sherlock Holmes as possible.

So here’s to a better 2021!


December 2020 Reads

I’m up to 91 books as of November. On we go …


In A Holidaze (Christina Lauren)
I wanted something for the holidays and saw this on the bestseller list and took the plunge. I say that because I don’t usually read romance (usually my romance is part of another genre like mystery/thriller etc).  Mae is reliving the same Christmas holiday over and over until she figures out what makes her happy – and she thinks it’s her family friend Andrew. I really enjoyed the emotion in this. I think what turns me off romance is the “tie it all up happy ending epilogue”. I am weirdly not a fan of that for some reason, which may explain my romance aversion. But I did enjoy the story, the characters and the romance in this book. Definitely pick it up for a holiday read. 

Spectre Rising (Spectre, #1) (C.W. Lemoine)
I’ve been a fan of C.W. “Mover” Lemoine’s YouTube Channel for a long time – I’m a huge F-16 nerd, and he flew them for the Air Force. This novel focuses on Cal “Spectre” Martin, a former F-16 pilot, who investigates when his F-16 pilot fiancée goes missing on a routine training mission. He stumbles on an international conspiracy that threatens national security. The flying sections are my favourite – his real-life expertise comes through beautifully. I’m not usually a military thriller/espionage reader, but I enjoyed the plot and the characters.

Pascal (Dark Nation, #3.2) (Rashid Darden)
This is a short story in the Dark Nation series and connects to Children of Fury. We meet the antagonist, Pascal, as a six-year-old boy and see how he is developing after his, uh, unique start in life.

Avoid. Negotiate. Kill. (Spectre, #2) (C.W. Lemoine)
This is book 2 in the Spectre series. I enjoyed it more than book 1, despite less F-16 lol. I think it’s because the story continued and deepened in intrigue. Be aware, this isn’t a book to read if you hate endings that continue on, as this book leads directly into book 3. I really enjoy Lemoine’s way of bringing Cal’s flying into each novel despite him not being active duty military. There’s a lot of use of flashback dreams which explain past missions and influence Spectre’s feelings on what’s currently happening. I’m looking forward to seeing how this entire series comes to an end with this particular storyline.

Non Fiction

Self Publisher’s Legal Handbook (Helen Sedwick)
I came across this book by chance. It’s directed to Americans, so that alone meant much didn’t apply to me. In the end, most of this information was stuff I already knew because I’ve been self publishing so long. I’d recommend it to Americans new to self publishing.

Everything You Need To Know About Birds (D.K. Publishing)
I thought this book was going to be one of those guides to different bird species, but it was more about bird facts and directed toward younger readers and was only 80 pages. The pictures were nice and the book was fine, but just not what I was looking for.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 97/52

So far this is the best year I’ve ever had for reading. I was hoping to make it to 100, but I didn’t get a lot of reading done over Christmas. I blame that on House and Bones marathons.

November 2020 Reads

So I hit 87 books read in October and I finished the Shakespeare 2020 project early.


I didn’t read any this month. I set a goal to read at least 25 non fiction and 25 fiction books this year. Thanks to Shakespeare the fiction part was easy, but I was a few books short of non fic, so I focused on that this month.

Non Fiction

Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men (Alexandra Robbins)
Since I read her sorority book, Pledged, I thought I may as well try the other side. The title leaves much to be desired because I don’t think any men were formed in this book, but the book held my interest. I found Pledged to have a lot of ridiculous claims (bulimia and plumbing … visit Snopes maybe? lol), but overall showed some negative sides of sorority life that don’t get talked about. Since I can’t speak to accuracy about fraternity life, I am assuming it’s similar to the previous book as far as accuracy goes. I liked that we followed a small number of characters so it wasn’t confusing.

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystals, Gems, and Metal Magic (Scott Cunningham)
This was a great overview of  crystals, gems and metals and their use in magic. There’s a lot of information on each type of gem and photos of them as well. Overall, I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read more of Cunningham’s books.

Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds (D. Caroline Coile)
I am not a dog person (in terms of having one), but I love reading about different breeds, their history and conformation. I have no idea why. This book had a great overview of practically every breed – including many rare ones I’d never heard of. There were good pictures, illustrations and histories. Overall a great place to warm up for the National Dog Show.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Malcolm X)
I am, and should be, embarrassed to say my only previous knowledge of Malcolm X was he was a black leader who was assassinated. While I agree with most of his beliefs and ideas, there were many moments when reading that I felt myself pushing against his ideas. I realized it was that feeling, as a white person, of “I’m not like this!” – but the reality is the system is, and I’m part of the system. I control the system. Once I realized this and got over the feeling of being accused, I could acknowledge that the root of my discomfort was the truth.

I don’t agree with him that religion was going to be the way people come together. From the first appearance of the Nation of Islam, I was skeptical. Part of that is I’m agnostic on a good day and just don’t see religion as a uniting force. The other part was that from the beginning, the Nation of Islam reminded me of Scientology. Maybe it was the origin story, the living founder, the divine claims, but all that was missing was a DC-8. I wasn’t surprised to find that the modern day Farrakhan Nation of Islam is very closely intertwined with the cult of Scientology.

One of my favourite things about Malcolm X is he is very willing to share his mistakes, admit them, analyze them, change them. He doesn’t shy away from discussing his past, discussing his shift away from the Nation of Islam, his changing beliefs, any negative things about himself and his life. I found that very refreshing.  He was evolving and changing as a person, and acknowledging that he was on this journey to find what he believed. His political takes are bang-on and even more relevant now. It’s scary how much has not changed.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book so much. It left me angry because his death was such a loss, and not just for the black community. I wish we could have known what he would have ultimately become. Why the book is not taught in every school I’ll never know – actually, thanks to this book, I do know.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 91/52

I was a bit slow reading this month. I’ve realized that non fic takes me longer to read sometimes. With Malcolm X I found I had to stop reading to think about what he was saying, turn it all over in my mind and sit with things, so it took quite a bit longer to read.

October 2020 Reads

I’ve already flew past my previous most books read and I’m focused on getting my page reads up. So much Shakespeare has resulted in high book reads, but lower page reads.


Thunder Rolls: A Dark Nation Story (Dark Nation, #3.1) (Rashid Darden)
A short story from the Dark Nation series, this occurs after the events of Children of Fury and focuses on the coronavirus epidemic. I wasn’t sure about reading something about it (I’ve been avoiding), but I really like what Darden did here. It’s the kind of thing you want to read about if you’ve been avoiding any ‘rona art and literature as of late.


Henry IV Part I (William Shakespeare)
Here we are, back to the War of the Roses. I kind of wish Shakespeare 2020 had done them all in order (as hard reading as it would’ve been) because I have forgotten about what came first and what came after by now. I did really enjoy this one. From Falstaff to Harry’s redemption in his father’s eyes (and the reader’s), I think it was one of the good ones. I am going to skip Merry Wives of Windsor until after I read Part 2, only because I want everything fresh for Part 2.

Henry IV Part 2 (William Shakespeare)
I didn’t enjoy this as much as Part I unfortunately. I feel like I’m in the minority, but I don’t enjoy Falstaff that much. I prefer Hal and his journey and found the Falstaff sections tedious. Doesn’t bode well for Merry Wives next.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (William Shakespeare)
I really wasn’t sure about this one at first, but as the play went on, I found myself really enjoying it. I can see how this would be fantastic on stage – so much of the action is what would bring the laughter. Overall, some of the plot was thin (Anne Page), but the women and their plan against Falstaff made up for it.

Henry V (William Shakespeare)
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the others, but I did appreciate being able to follow Prince Hal becoming King. I’m very burnt out with English kings right now though!

Henry VIII (William Shakespeare)
I am probably one of the few people unfamiliar with much of the life of Henry the Eighth. This play covers his marriage to Catherine or Aragon and then to Anne Boleyn, but focuses more on the advisors to the king, especially the Catholic advisors. It was okay.

Edward III (William Shakespeare)
As might be obvious, I’m reading ahead. This isn’t scheduled until November, but I really want to get done sooner. I didn’t mind this play, but I am really, REALLY burnt out reading about English monarchy. I was surprised to find this was not considered canon until recently, which surprised me because I felt there was a lot more “traditional” Shakespeare here, especially with rhyming couplets and the actual construction of the play.

Timon of Athens (William Shakespeare)
I had high hopes for this, but man, was it depressing. Timon is a generous man who overspends treating his friends. His creditors bleed him dry and then his “friends” refuse to cover his debts. He finally sees they’re all users and leaves the city to live in a cave, angry and hating all mankind. I was hoping for some revenge, but nope. He dies. Depressing.

The Winter’s Tale (William Shakespeare)
I think this has been one of my favourites in the last half of the Shakespeare 2020 project. I enjoyed the storyline, the characters. It was just a fun read – although I honestly don’t get the title in relation to the story. All these years I thought it had something to do with winter and Christmas lol.

The Tempest (William Shakespeare)
I didn’t mind this one, but I feel like it would’ve had a lot more impact on stage. I like the fact this is much more of a supernatural play compared to others. I get annoyed that Shakespeare has wronged characters ultimately forgive and the person in question quickly repents (although Antonio has potential blackmail over his head lol). I sometimes wish for more realistic endings.

Two Noble Kinsmen (William Shakespeare)
This was a tough one to get through. The version on Project Gutenberg is written in more archaic English than everything else I read, so it was hard reading. I also wasn’t engaged with the plot. It was the last Shakespeare work I had to read, and completed my Shakespeare 2020 Project.

Non Fiction

Rampage: Canadian Mass Murder and Spree Killing (Lee Mellor)
Overall a good look at Canadian mass murderers and spree killers. It bothered me that there were cases showing the reader what the killer saw/felt when there was no record of this. There was a lot of purple prose in regards to the blood and murders that pushed it into tabloid territory rather than journalism.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 87/52

So far the most books I’ve ever read, I finished all of Shakespeare and I still have two full months to go.