It’s the end of the month as we know it so here are some book reviews

May 1, 2023

Okay, technically, I am writing this post on April 30, but it will post on May 1, so you know what that means.

Too much has happened since my last post to do any of it justice, so the most important things to note are that:

  1. The LA Times Festival of Books was last weekend! It’s always a good time to meet authors and listen to them talk about their books. And, of course, to get up to shenanigans with my friends.
  2. It’s finals week.

So I’m just going to do a round up of the rest of the books I’ve finished this past month since there is so much to do–especially since I am basically leaving town the day finals end.

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Murder in G Major (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, #1)Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted my book club to pick this for our books set in Ireland theme and they did not, so I read it anyway. The book is absolutely charming. I love Gethsemane. She’s like an updated Nancy Drew in that she just charges headlong into trouble without thinking/caring about the murderer trying to harm her for snooping. I figured out who the murderer was very early in the story, which normally would be a complaint, but finding out everything behind the actual why (which I also guessed but not everything about why) was a fun ride to go on because the other characters in the town were so fascinating. Most of what I was reading to find out was how the townspeople figured into everything. So, yeah, the worldbuilding in this was also excellent because I got a sense of the place physically but also the makeup of the town.

So, in case you couldn’t tell, I actually read this with my earholes (the narrator is Jessica Carroll) but the audio editions don’t have the page number count, and I want to keep track. My only complaint about the narrator is that she doesn’t appear to be a Black woman but since she had to switch between American, British, and Irish accents, I’ll give it a pass, especially since I could only really tell she wasn’t American when she said “orchestra” and one other word I can’t remember right now. Narration was basically flawless, but still.

All in all, it’s a really fun read/listen, and I would definitely recommend the audiobook but you can’t use it to fulfill the Book Riot Read Harder prompt about an audiobook by a person of color narrated by a person of color.

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The Quarantine Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #12)The Quarantine Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grandmère: You can’t possibly expect me to stay cooped up in here, eating *palace food* every day.

This is honestly such a great capsule of chronicling what it was like during the first year or so of COVID. Mia/The Princess Diaries is actually the perfect way to capture it because Mia not only runs a small country but the cast of characters already has every archetype that we encountered during the early days of COVID:
– elderly people who were still out in the streets
– family members who didn’t follow the rules
– family members who didn’t follow the rules but you still had to live with them
– a doctor
– a lawyer
– privileged friends who thought the COVID rules didn’t apply
– COVID deniers
– anti-maskers
– vaccine refusers / anti-vaxxers
– UF students

The only difference is that Mia’s country has a competent leader who actually listens to science/reason.

Also, I read through the reviews here (because of course I did–I never learn) that are complaining about Mia being self-absorbed or whatever, and OF COURSE SHE IS. That is literally the whole point of the series. The girl is privileged, gets more privilege, and because she’s so privileged complains the whole time. (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess shows how a different kind of kid would respond so Meg Cabot is fully aware.) Her problems are never going to be our problems, and the way she views the world will always be different. And the complaints about her views on politics? Are you new here?

The vaccine in this book comes sooner than in real life, and I’m okay with that because she had to end the book somewhere. I didn’t expect this to be a chronicle of the entire year and a half/two years before we went outside again in a significant way, but I did expect it to have a hopeful/happy ending and that’s what we got here. I would have liked to see more Tina (ALWAYS) and Michael, but I enjoyed the update on all the characters, including Olivia, Shameka, Ling Su, and Perrin.

At the end of the book, there is praise for Meg Cabot, and Julia Quinn says, “I’d read a cereal box if it was written by Meg Cabot.” Same, Julia Quinn. Same.

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Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for MurderersVera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book has one of my favorite tropes, which is young people hanging out with elderly people. I also love how Sutanto plays with the body in the parlor, invite everyone together to try to suss out who did it trope.

[Vera] has brought them together against their will but they’ve all been so agreeable.

I will say, though, that even as there’s a mystery at the center, this is not really a mystery in the traditional sense. It is more about found family and how each individual in that family finds their sense of self. The question of who killed Marshall does drive the narrative because Vera is always on the lookout for the killer and the reader discovers exactly why he’s so killable, but, like Vera, I started to like all of the suspects as the story went along so I tried to forget that Marshall’s murder is what drew them all together.

“And is Vera a cop?”
The three of them are silent.
“Is Vera a private detective, maybe?”
Ricky raises a tentative hand. “I think she counts as an amateur sleuth?”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Officer Gray turns her back on them for a second, taking in a deep, frustrated breath.

Also, this book is funny. I found myself laughing out loud several times.

The other thing I like about this book is that it gets at the loneliness the elderly face and how community and usefulness can combat that. Gah, it just really made me miss my grandmother, which is not a bad thing.

Destiny, Vera thinks, is something to be hunted down and grabbed tightly with both hands and shaken until it gives her exactly what she wants.

Anyway, this was a lot of fun, so if you want a cozy mystery that is very cozy and/or something that may brighten your day, I would recommend this.

4.5 stars, rounding up

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Have a great week, everyone!

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