Reads of January 2023

Life Signs (Firefly), James Lovegrove
Not my favourite of the Firefly books. Being rather action based, the story seems to lack some of the nuance of the crew’s banter. Still, an interesting premise and an enjoyable book, though I had to wonder if some of the crew would’ve acted differently, especially Jayne. I find it hard to believe Jayne would’ve agreed so easily to go down to the planet without some promise of recompense. I don’t know why the story felt slightly soulless; perhaps it’s because the crew are at odds in this story somewhat more than any others, or so at least it seemed to me. I found it harder to hear their voices, though I’m still happy to add this to my Firefly library.

Agnes and the Hitman, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Another fun collaboration from these two with a plot that barely pauses combining romance, comedy, mystery and thriller. Possibly the wedding from hell for most, but hilarious for anyone only attending. There’s also plenty of non-graphic murder and mayhem. Took me a while to read owing to an injury, not a lack of interest. I couldn’t help picturing the hitman as a Seeley Booth type (from Bones).

Penpal, Dathan Auerbach
I’m not sure how to feel about this book. Perhaps it could’ve been written a little better, though there’s nothing exactly wrong with it. I think some of the problem is the way it jumps in the timeline, with much of the book told as memories. This makes it a first person point of view, filled with comments such as I recalled and I remember, so it’s largely telling rather than showing. For a horror or thriller lover, there are some decidedly creepy moments that build a disturbing question as to the identity of the strange penpal. This might make a rather enjoyable film and I enjoyed the read; however, the major menace seemed somehow secondary, playing along the periphery but never stepping into the light, though maybe the fact that not everything has the right answers is part of what makes the book disturbing. The story keeps you guessing, and the ending is heartbreaking. But something felt a little off. Perhaps because the children seemed older than their years no matter what their ages. It’s a decent book, that with the right editor could be excellent; I liked it but just don’t feel it quite lives up to the hype.

Dogs and Goddesses, Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, Lana Diane Rich
A solid plot, amusing characters, lots of fun, and don’t forget the talking dogs. If you don’t mind a plot driven romance with characters that aren’t all that deep, this makes for a fun read.

About Sharon

Writer of Dark and Light Fiction. Fact, fiction, poetry, short stories, articles and novels. Cross-genre, slipstream, non-traditional romance, gothic, horror, fantasy and more... Visit this diverse writer's site.
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