What we’re reading this summer

We’re heading into the best time of year for reading – the lazy days of summer! Hopefully we’ve all got some plans to hit a beach with a stack of books (I definitely do!) So, Wickeds and readers, what’s on the list this year?

Liz:  I’ve got a few things on my list – finally picked up The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m getting caught up on my William Kent Krueger series. Also have Walter Mosley’s Little Green, in preparation for this year’s Crime Bake, as well as Harlan Coben’s Caught.

Julie: I am adding some thrillers to my TBR list, and am looking for suggestions! Especially with a female protagonist. Need to catch up with the Wickeds, and am also planning on reading Walter Mosley. Can’t wait to see him at Crime Bake this year.

Edith: Julie, I recommend Ingrid Thoft’s series, with a female protag in the Boston area. As for me, I’m excited to have Kaitlyn Dunnet’s new Crime and Punctuation and Leslie Budewitz’s As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles on the stack, and I’m also reading a book called The World as I Hear It by Lansing V Hall published in 1878. It’s about his life as a blind man and it’s research for a character I’m including in my fifth Quaker Midwife Mystery. Then I want to finally read some Ann Cleeves. Where should I start?

Barb: I also have Crime and Punctuation high on my tbr pile, like starting it tonight. In the meantime, I read R. G. Belsky’s Yesterday’s News. He’s on a panel I’m moderating at the Maine Crime Wave today. Since the panel is titled “Irresistible Openings,” I only planned to read the first scene to prepare. However, the opening must have been irresistible, because it sucked me right through and I finished the book last night.

Sherry: I just finished an interesting thriller written in 2004 called Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy. And I’m looking forward to reading Darker Than Any Shadow by TIna Whittle. And as mentioned by others Crime and Punctuation!

Readers: What is on your summer reading list?


2017 Was A Wicked Good Year for the Wickeds

2017wickedreleases (1)Friends, it occurred to us that we hadn’t properly celebrated our 2017 titles. Better late than never! We’re going to list titles and the names we wrote them under here, and will also put it on our site.

How many of these books and stories did you read?


Cat About Town by Cate Conte

When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day

Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott

Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao

A Good Day To Buy by Sherry Harris

A Christmas Peril by J.A. Hennrikus

Chime and Punishment by Julianne Holmes

Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell

Mulch Ado About Murder by Edith Maxwell

Purring Around the Christmas Tree by Liz Mugavero

Iced Under by Barbara Ross


“Murder in the Summer Kitchen” by Edith Maxwell, in Murder Among Friends: Mysteries Inspired by the Life and Works of John Greenleaf Whittier (Post Mortem Press)

“The Unfortunate Death of Mrs. Edna Fogg” by Edith Maxwell, in Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical (Wildside Press)

“An Ominous Silence” by Edith Maxwell, in Snowbound: The Best New England Crime Stories 2017 (Level Best Books)

“Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” by Barbara Ross, in Noir at the Salad Bar (Level Best Books)

Wicked Good Late Winter Reads

We’re heading into March and February is over at last. What are you reading this week, this month, to get you through the end of winter (which in New England has been good old-fashioned cold and snowy)?FebBooks

Edith: I got four new cozies in the mail and have started with Julie Hyzy’s Home of the Braised in her fabulous White House Chef series. And can’t wait to read the other three, too!

Liz: I’m a little behind in my reading, but in addition to Lucy’s and Sheila’s mentioned above, looking forward to digging into Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis and Graveyard of Memories by Barry Eisler.

bertieplays the bluesBarb: I’m reading Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith. I love his gentle optimism and laugh out loud humor. I’m a fan of all the series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the Sunday Philosophy Club series, the Professor Von Igelfeld Entertainments, but most of all the 44 Scotland Street series and the adventures of poor Bertie, stuck with an overbearing mother. Perfect reading for the start of March. I’ve seen McCall Smith a couple of times, at the Boston Book Festival and the Key West Literary Seminar, and he cracks himself up, giggling at his own words as he reads. So charming.

Jessie: I just finished Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and am now reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer.

Julie: I am so behind in my reading! Aside from the book I mentioned yesterday (Jab Jab Jab Right Hook), and the four books pictured above (all on my Kindle), I have downloaded A Tough Nut to Kill by Elizabeth Lee. This is a new series, and I noticed Facebook friends promoting it. I thought I’d give it a try–I love finding new series to love.

Readers: What’s up next on your bedside table or Kindle or i-thing?

Wicked Good Irish Reads

Yes, we’re still celebrating the release of Sheila Connolly’s Scandal in Skibbereen. What’s your favorite book by an Irish author, or one set in Ireland, at least? Any genre goes!

Edith: My neighbor Áine Greaney‘s 2011 novel Dance Lessons cover_dance_lessonshas to be my pick (other than Sheila’s series, of course, which I love). It’s a wonderful story of a young Irish-American Bostonian in Ireland looking for her roots, much like Sheila’s protagonist, Maura Donovan. Áine is a transplant from Ireland to Newburyport, Massachusetts. She won awards with her first novel, has a prize-winning book of short fiction out, and has also published a very useful non-fiction guide called Writer With a Day Job.  I highly recommend Dance Lessons.

Jessie: I love books by John Connolly. He is Irish but sets much of his work in Maine, both around Portland and up into the woods of the vast north. Some of his books are aimed at younger readers, like The Gates. I really enjoyed the spooky, whacky humor in that one!

Barb: I think I have to go with the novels of Dennis Lehane, particularly the Kenzie and Gennaro novels set in Dorchester, MA and The Given Day about a Boston Irish family and the police strike of 1919.

Liz: Jessie and Barb, I’m with you on John Connolly and Dennis Lehane – two of my all-time favorites. Lehane’s Live by Night was amazing too, kind of a sequel to The Given Day. I also love Tana French’s books: In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place. Her newest, Broken Harbor, is still in my TBR pile.

Julie: I love Irish playwrights. Eugene O’Neill. Roddy Doyle. Oscar Wilde. Not a huge Beckett fan, but he should be mentioned. And there are many Irish writers, including Maeve Binchy. As I said before, I love the tendency towards lyrical darkness mixed with humor.

Readers: Your favorite Irish-flavored read?

Wicked Good Reads: Ones I Always Meant to Read

What? You never read The Odyssey? Or David Copperfield? Or The Omnivore’s Dilemma? R U kidding me?

Yes, today’s topic is, The Book I Always Meant to Read But Haven’t Quite Gotten to Yet. Dear Wickeds, Dear Readers — tell us that book or books you’ve just been meaning to get around to. You know, when you get time?

jane-eyreLiz: I’ll confess – I never made it through Jane Eyre, despite many false starts and good intentions. I really want to read it and keep moving it around with my latest TBR pile – but it hasn’t happened yet. Eh, I know the story anyway!

warandpeaceJessie: I’ve never read Moby Dick or War and Peace. I feel a little low brow about that but apparently it doesn’t worry me enough to rectify the situation. After all, neither of them is in my TBR pile at the moment!

ivanhoeSherry: I tried reading War and Peace once, Jessie. I think I made it through ten pages and gave up. Ivanhoe stopped me too, although that was a long, long time ago. With so many wonderful mysteries and thrillers to read I have a hard time forcing myself to read something because I “should” or I think I should.

masterandmargaritaJulie: I have read Jane Eyre, but the other books are on my “tried but not yet” list. The Master and the Margarita is on my list. And Middlemarch. And there are a few more modern novels that I keep meaning to get to, but they go to the bottom of the list. PS, Liz, read the Eyre Affair. Will help you get through the original.

gg ourmaninhavanaBarb: Every writer I admire lists Graham Greene as a favorite author. So he’s on my list. Proust…I keep meaning to. Lolita. The list is so long.

omnivoreEdith: Sigh. Michale Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. That’s on my list. At least I read his Cooked, and loved it. I’m also the one who hasn’t read The Odyssey or David Copperfield. But when I have books like Julie Hyzy’s latest White House Chef mystery, Shelley Costa’s You Cannoli Die Once, and BB Oaks’ historical with Thoreau as the Concord Sherlock Holmes, how can I go wrong?

Readers: How about you? What have you always meant to read? One you still keep on the To Be Read pile? Or the one you just declared literary bankruptcy on?

Wicked Good Reads: What Santa Brought

What new book did you receive during the holidays? Wickeds share ours, and hope you’ll let us know what you’re reading, too.

Edith: I am deep into Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. I never got around to reading his cooked-coverprevious books, but am loving this one. Wonderful writing about the four essential types of cooking: with fire (barbeque), water (stews, braises, soups), air (bread), and earth (fermented stuff). Being Pollan, he brings in the history of cooking, the politics of food, our current state of relying on prepared meals, his apprenticeships with these four kinds of food, and so much more, all written in a delightful voice.

Barb: When you finish it, Edith, you have to read The Botany of Desire. One of my favorite non-fiction books, evah.

Jessie: Alas, I received no books over the holidays. I greatballsofcheesgave a bunch as gifts however, and one was so cute I couldn’t help but leaf through it before wrapping it up. Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi was a delight. Not only were the presentations creative and whimsical, the recipes sounded delicious and inventive. If you love cheese balls I highly recommend this read!

proheartLiz: I didn’t get any fiction for Christmas, but I got an amazing book by Julia Cameron, The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of “Enough.” If you’ve read Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, you’re familiar with her “digging deep” style of helping people overcome blocks to their creative self. The Prosperous Heart is similar – it offers activities and tasks to help people find their way to true prosperity in every area of their lives. Each week you tackle a new lesson. I’m looking forward to starting week two!

gift cardSherry: I didn’t get any books either. But I did get a lot of gift cards to book stores. I always ask for them and am so happy to use them during the year. I’m not sure what I’ll buy first because I have a huge stack of books in my to be read pile. Joy!

Barb: We have an extended family all-book Yankee swap. We started doing a CD swap about ten years ago, but then the younger generation starting asking what a CD was, so we gave it up. We tried DVDs, but somehow that didn’t work. People’s tastes were so different. The all book swap works. About twenty-one of us participate Books can be new or used. It’s a great way to find out what people are reading and go down new paths. As my daughter said, the online booksellers are always trying to sell you books just like the last one you bought, but a multi-generational book swap opens you up to new reading experiences.

1000whitewomenI got One Thousand White Women–the Journals of May Dodd, a fictional account of women who are sent in 1875 to inter-marry with the Cheyenne as a “civilizing influence.” It looks terrifc.

Readers: What new book did you receive or discover?

Wicked Good Gift Reads

Here are the reads the Wickeds are leaving under the tree this year for family and friends:

Liz: Through the Evil Days, Julia Spencer FlemingBillionaire Blend, Cleo Coyle; Excuses Begone, Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Sherry: Really? You want me to list what books I’m giving for Christmas? My mom reads this everyday. Shoot now she knows she’s going to get a book. However my husband doesn’t read this everyday so I’ll tell you what he’s getting. King and Maxwell by David Baldacci and The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly. I love both of these authors so it’s a win-win for me.

Edith: For the little kids in my life, The Magic Hat by Mem Fox and The Frog Wore Red Suspenders, a book of poems by Jack Prelutsky. Someone might get The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. And I’m not sure what else!

Jessie: Since the people to whom I would give books have mentioned lately that they read this blog I think I’d be better off sharing books I’d like to receive! It may seem selfish but it will preserve the mystery and isn’t that what we’re all about here on the Wickeds? As an enthusiastic knitter I would adore a copy of both 150 Scandinavian Motifs by Mary Jane Mucklestone or Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges by Ann Budd. As a reader I would love to receive Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield.

Barb: Since I’m pretty sure my brother doesn’t read the blog, I’ll disclose that he’s getting The Doors Unhinged, by John Densmore. Ditto for my mother-in-law, who is getting The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin. If anyone out there happens to be shopping for me, I could go for No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell, The All Girl’s Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, or Just One Evil Act, by Elizabeth George.

Readers: What are you giving? What’s on your list for Santa to get you?