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April 2019

Reading Roundup: First Quarter 2019

I don’t have hard goals for the number of books I want to read each year, because it’s more important to enjoy what I read than to plow through books to reach a certain number.

But I do like to check occasionally to see how many I’ve read so far, and it’s fun to stack books in a pile and take pictures of them. (I recently started a books-focused Instagram account if you’re interested.)

The above snapshot shows 15 books I read between Jan. 1 and March 31, minus library books and the manuscripts I edited. Titles are listed below, some with links to reviews, others with reviews coming.

My favorites

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six (I also listened to the audiobook, which has a full cast)

Anthony Horowitz’s The Sentence Is Death

The rest 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Save Me from Dangerous Men by S. A. Lelchuk

The Secretary by Renee Knight

Call Me Evie by J. P. Pomare

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

If She Wakes by Michael Koryta

Everything Is Just Fine by Brett Paesel

Some stats about the 15

Debut novels: 6

Books read entirely for pleasure, not work: 6

Authors new to me: 6

Female authors: 12

Author of color: 1

International authors: 6 (British 4, Australian 1, Canadian 1)

Imprints: 12

Hmm. Apparently I like doing things in even numbers and multiples of 6. I won’t do a hard analysis—what am I, a scientist?—but it’s good to see the number of female authors is high, that I’m open to authors I’ve never heard of, and don’t limit myself to American writers. Not patting myself on the back, though. I want to read more by writers of color.

What does your reading roundup look like for 2019 so far ?


Book Review: SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN by S. A. Lelchuk

A woman in tight jeans walks into a bar and gains the attention of every man in the joint when she crushes her opponent in games of pool for cash.

Afterward, one admirer invites her to his place nearby. The woman goes. And proceeds to teach the man a lesson he won’t forget: never lay a hand on his girlfriend again or he’ll be signing his own death warrant.

Meet Nikki Griffin, a motorcycle-riding, pugilistic guardian angel for abused women and star of S.A. Lelchuk’s debut thriller, Save Me from Dangerous Men.

By trade Nikki is a PI, hired by a tech CEO to follow an employee he suspects of stealing company secrets. Nikki discovers the case is much bigger–as in global–than what she’s been told, and if she doesn’t stop certain dangerous men, people will die, including her.

Nikki is not only a badass but a book nerd–an irresistible combination. She owns a bookstore called the Brimstone Magpie (a Dickens reference) and can quote Kierkegaard as fast as she can make a violent thug cry uncle. She’s part Lisbeth Salander, part Jack Reacher, part MacGyver.

Before readers start thinking she’s an unrealistic fantasy figure (Lelchuk is male), Nikki points out she intentionally plays into men’s images of an ideal woman in order to lure them to her. And she’s far from perfect: she had a tragic childhood and fears she lacks impulse control. Plus, she misses a couple of conspicuous clues until late in the game. But Nikki is a fiery, magnetic character, and thriller fans will race through this book faster than Nikki on her motorcycle.

Buy it now

This review appeared originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission. As an Amazon affiliate, PCN might receive a small commission if a purchase is made via the link.


Book Review: CALL ME EVIE by J. P. Pomare

From the title of J.P. Pomare’s first novel, Call Me Evie, readers can guess Evie isn’t the real name of the 17-year-old protagonist. But Pomare makes it hard to ascertain exactly what’s going on with her, with her loss of memory and limited view of the world.

She’s involved in something traumatic that happened recently in her hometown of Melbourne, but she can’t remember it. A man she calls her uncle Jim has taken her to New Zealand and mostly locked her up in a house, away from the Internet and neighbors’ prying eyes, in a supposed attempt to help her recall details of the night in question.

He forces her to take pills and says she can’t go back to Australia until she remembers; she needs control of the facts when police question her. The situation gains urgency when the incident back home is labeled a murder, and Evie’s fragmented memories make her question everything Jim says and where the threat is actually coming from.

Pomare grabs readers by the throat the way Jim grabs Evie by the hair in the opening scene, when she tries to escape the house. Everything Jim does he claims is to protect her, and sometimes he seems genuine about that. The author maintains this sense of uncertainty and dread throughout, as Evie–along with the reader–puts together the pieces of her memory. Because she trusts no one, everyone is suspect, including herself. The resolution may not be entirely surprising, but it’s a satisfying one.

Buy it now

This review appeared originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission. As an Amazon affiliate, PCN might receive a small commission if a purchase is made via the link.