Jen Miller

Book 55 of 52: The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

I left on this trip with only one book — gasp I know! But that’s because I knew I would want to pick up something along my travels to read. That ended up being Richard Osman’s The Bullet That Missed, the third in the Thursday Murder Club Mysteries series. And while my last book had nothing to do with England, this book is about as English as it gets.

It’s about a group of senior citizens in a retirement home — the Thursday Murder Club — and the latest murder they’re trying to solve: that of a young female journalist whose car was pushed off a cliff just as she was about to break a big story. It involves getting into the weeds of local British television, including the pecking order of news readers and presenters (of which Osman is one in real life), and also wound back to the murder from the previous book.

Osman fixed a problem he had with that last one, The Man Who Died Twice. You really needed to remember what happened in the first book (called The Thursday Murder Club) to understand the second, which was annoying. The Bullet That Missed doesn’t have […]

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Book 54 of 52: Savage Run by C.J. Box

The latest in our series of Savage Run by C.J. Box. Did it occur to me that it was a bit odd that I brought a book about a Wyoming game warden to read in England? Yes. However, I also read Regency romance novels in my home in New Jersey so is it all that different?

Anyway – this is the second in Box’s Joe Pickett series about, yes, a Wyoming game warden. Like Open Season (which I did read while out west this summer), which I read earlier this year, it’s about the tension between environmentalists and people who use the land for profit, sport or both. It opens with an exploding cow. Yes, an exploding cow.

As the book progresses, we follow the two men responsible for the exploding cow, and murders of high profile people working in the environmental movement. Pickett gets involved because he investigates the cow incident, eventually puts together that these murders are connected.

It’s a quick read, and one that kept me engaged, which is why I brought it with me, to read on the flight, and then on the London Underground while zipping around London. It was the perfect book for it.

Also a […]

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Book 53 of 52: Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey

After my dog died, a friend was kind enough to send me a box of romance novels (and I know you read this, so shout out in the comments if you’d like!). I was looking for one more book to read before I left for London, so picked Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey out of the box. It looked like a Hallmark Christmas movie, so why not.

WELL! I was wrong about the tone of this book. If I had just flipped to the back jacket, I would have known that Bailey is known a high spice level in her book. This maybe one of the most explicit romance novels I’ve ever read? Of course that’s my fault since I judged the book by its cover, but I kept flipping between the book and the cover and thinking “huh!”

Our main characters are Beat and Melody. Their mothers had been in a band together until something split them up and they became sworn enemies. Beat, for reasons we find out later, is being blackmailed, and the one way for him to get enough money to pay this guy off is to do a reality show that challenges him to get […]

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Friday Folio: November 10, 2023

Steve Martin reacted to one of his books being banned in a school district in Florida in a very Steve Martin way.

Not only are books being pulled from libraries, but libraries are being de-funded. As much as I’d like to see this bullshit stop because the book banning crowd got trounced in elections this week…I’m not holding my breath. This all sucks.

Also sucks: sexism in birding books!

But in better news! There’s a new romance bookstore coming to the Twin Cities hooray! h/t to Smart Bitches Trashy Romances for that one.

November is Indigenous People’s month, so here’s Book Riot’s list of 12 memoirs by Indigenous people.

I don’t think I have it in me to listen to Barbra Streisand’s memoir, which is 48 hours long (!!!!), but here’s The Washington Post Review.

And on that note, I’m headed across the Atlantic for some literary-themed R&R (I planned part of this trip before my dog died, then extended it after. Because why not). I will be reading of course, and plan to pick up whatever I’m reading next in the UK. I may post while I’m gone. I may not. But as always, you can keep […]

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Book 52 of 52: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

It is time, once again (and if you’ve been here a while, you know what I’m going to stay) for me to continue on my quest to read every book about Italy written in the English language.

Now up: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. The novel opens on a small, remote Italian town where Pasquale, who has named the hotel he inherited The Adequate View, welcomes a dazzling stranger: Dee Moray, an American actress sent from the set of Cleopatra to recover from whatever is making her sick.

When the book started here, I was excited to dig in. I have long said someone should make a biopic about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton swanning around Rome during their budding love affair. Even if the book wasn’t about exactly that, it was Italy! In the 1962! Let’s go!

But then the action skips suddenly to modern day (the book was published in 2012) Hollywood to Claire, an unhappy production assistant with a porn-addicted boyfriend. Over the course of the novel, these two stories are awkwardly knit together.

Some of the turns the plot takes along the way are so predictable I rolled my eyes, and others so outlandish that I did the same […]

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Update on Book 45 of 52

Readers! As promised, here’s an update on Book 45 of 52: It’s The Race to be Myself: A Memoir by Caster Semenya. I reviewed it for The New York Times Book Review. Enjoy!

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Friday Folio: November 3, 2023

Before I get to the book news: this fine looking pup is my first foster dog Walle. He’s a one year old chi mix (though I suspect some terrier too) who is staying with me until next Friday, to give him a shelter break while he undergoes heart worm treatment. If you’re interested in Walle, he’ll be up for adoption via the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees, N.J. either in late November or December, depending on how his treatments go (he’s LOVELY but I know he’s not my dog, which is probably good for my first foster).

Anyway! The New York Times is reporting that three people helped Britney Spears with her memoir. I have no problem with anyone using a ghost writer. It’s more work for us! But that sounds complicated. It clearly worked though: the book sold 1.1 million copies in one week, via BookRiot.

Want a peek at Stephen King’s library? The Washington Post has you covered.

Book challenges are still surging, as outlined in this Publisher’s Weekly report. Related: some asshole school candidate pretended to be a fake medical society to get books banned, via The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Here’s a very cool interactive […]

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Book 51 of 52: The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman

In The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman, twin sisters Ladies Augusta and Julia Colebrook are in a unique position. They are 42 years old, and unmarried, but have their own money. Like other women their age in Regency London, they don’t have a lot of power, but unlike other “spinsters,” they are not 100% beholden to male relatives or partners.

So what do they do? Become vigilantes, of a sort, and help women and girls in need by doing things like getting back letters a man is using to blackmail his former lover, escape abusive husbands, rescue children from being forced into sex work, and infiltrating a women’s mental institution that is using its patients for profit.

The story is told from Lady Augusta’s point of view, and when she decides this is what she’s going to do, she thinks, “For myself, I no longer believed that this world was mere preparation for the next. This was all the life I would have, and I had to do as much with it as possible.”

While it’s set in Regency London, as many of the historical romances I read are, it’s not a romance. Instead, it’s billed as a “feminist […]

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Friday Folio: October 27, 2023

Well let’s see if we can pick this back up again.

The New York Times looked at how Britney Spears is promoting her memoir – not the usual ways, but through Instagram. I noticed that she did an “interview” with People magazine where she emailed comments. As a journalist, I get why that’s frustrating. But she’s Britney. She can do what she wants!

The Washington Post looked at both the book and TV adaptation of Lessons in Chemistry. I bought the book so I can read it before I watch. So stay tuned for my thoughts!

Smart Bitches Trashy Books has launched a new podcast that looks back old issues of Romantic Times. VERY fun.

Less fun but important: Book Riot has a round up of book censorship news.

YouGov did a survey on how many books Americans own, and how we organize them.

And because I have obviously been Going Through It, here’s a round up of five books about managing stress and anxiety.


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Book 50 of 52: Flush by Carl Hiaasen

We’re back with our Florida pal Carl Hiaasen with Flush, a middle grade book about a pair of siblings who are picking up their father’s fight against the ne’re do wells who want to exploit Florida’s beauty for personal, financial gain.

After their father is arrested for sinking the Coral Queen, a casino boat that he accuses of dumping raw sewage into the Florida Keys, brother and sister Noah and Abby are determined to find the proof that will both get him out of jail, and the boat owner from poisoning one of their favorite beaches.

Like all Hiaasen books I’ve read, it pits the people who love Florida and its weird, wonderful beauty, against those who want to destroy it. And because it’s book for kids told from a kid’s (Noah’s) point of view, it also has the added element of being a child watching your parents fight. Their mother is threatening to divorce their father because his environmentalism is putting their finances at risk — and her general exasperation, even though she too cares for the land and water around her. It has the same kind of Florida strangeness and characters as Hiaasen’s adult books, but he does the […]

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