Sense and Second-Degree Murder by Tirzah Price

The second book in the Jane Austen Murder Mystery series is as thrilling as the first, and full of twists that leave readers in suspense until the very end.

True to its name, Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility expectedly touches on the themes of good sense versus emotional sensitivity. Set in the late 1700s, Austen’s novel takes place in a world where there are limited roles and opportunities for women in society. Austen’s female characters do not inherit property and cannot have careers. Their futures and fortunes depend almost exclusively on the men they marry and they are expected to be dutiful, upstanding ladies of society. But, Austen depicts her female characters as thoughtful, clever, ambitious women. Even while living in a male-dominated world, female characters are able to exert power and agency.

In the same spirit, Sense and Second Degree Murder also focuses on themes of women’s role in society, but with a more modern twist. This series is set during the regency era, but does take creative liberties with what may or may not have been proper for young ladies of the time. Price’s versions of Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood allow her to explore tensions that wouldn’t have been polite topics of conversation in the original Jane Austen novels, updating the story for a modern audience. In this new story, we see the sisters take a stronger control over their destiny. While their fate still remains tied to the choices of others (read: men), this telling allows them more power over their situation as they take control of solving their fathers mystery, empowering them to act rather than sit by and wait.

Retellings are important. They keep us in conversation with authors of the past, they bring relevance back to stories of the past, proving that human nature is universal and unchanging. And retellings like this are especially important, because they bring modern concepts and ideas back to the story, keeping them relevant and talked about. We still feel the same feelings that humans have felt for centuries, and will continue to feel for eons. We, all of us as humans, exist and are destined to share the same thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, and dreams, not only that other humans are feeling, but that humans have always felt. We are all different, but we are also all the same, and always will be. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

The Jane Austen Murder Mystery Series by Tirzah Price:

A Game of Retribution

Retellings of the Greek myths and legends are really popular right now, and the Hades x Persephone series is one of my favorite Persephone retellings — and there are some amazing ones out right now! (Lore Olympus, Neon Gods, Monsters & Muses, to name a few!)

With this series you get both sides of the story. I know, because I have read the Hades/Persephone books side by side, and though that are different they are still the same, and they match up perfectly. Persephone’s books are the “A Touch of…” titles, while Hades’s books are the “A Game of…” titles. It is an interesting way to present dual perspectives, and more in-depth than switching back and forth each chapter.

There are scenes between the two which are cute, because they are the same story, told slightly different from their perspectives. But each having their own book allows for a lot more depth to the story, scenes that reveal character arcs, and shows what the other does in their own life.

#1 A Touch of Darkness#1 A Game of Fate
#2 A Touch of Ruin#2 A Game of Retribution
#3 A Touch of Malice#3 A Game of Gods (expected 2023)
#4 A Touch of Chaos (expected 2023)

Persephone’s POV has the spark that made me fall in love with the series, but hearing Hades’ side paints the whole picture much clearer, and shows the ups and downs of effort and compromise in relationships. It’s sometimes easy to forget that everyone has their own struggles and are fighting their own hard battles inside. But, by seeing this relationship from both perspectives like this, we as readers can better understand the motives and reasoning behind each persons actions, and helps to remind us that we are all just trying our best with what we are given. Give the grace that you wish to be given.

As a classicist, I am a big fan of Greek myth retellings, and I am happy for every chance I get to read them. (See my reviews on Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill, and I, Antigone by Carlo Gébler). But the Hades x Persephone series are the perfect books for fans of Madeline Miller and Katee Robert.

BOOK TOUR: Golden by Justin Zorn & Leigh Marz

Silence isn’t just the absence of noise. It’s a presence that brings us energy, clarity, and deeper connection.

Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz take us on an unlikely journey—from the West Wing of the White House to San Quentin’s death row; from Ivy League brain research laboratories to underground psychedelic circles; from the temperate rainforests of Olympic National Park to the main stage at a heavy metal festival—to explore the meaning of silence and the art of finding it in any situation.

Golden reveals how to go beyond the ordinary rules and tools of mindfulness. It’s a field guide for navigating the noise of the modern world—not just the noise in our ears but also on our screens and in our heads. Drawing on lessons from neuroscience, business, spirituality, politics, and the arts, Marz and Zorn explore why auditory, informational, and internal silence is essential for physical health, mental clarity, ecological sustainability, and vibrant community.

With vital lessons for individuals, families, workplaces, and whole societies, Golden is an engaging and unexpected rethinking of the meaning of quiet. Marz and Zorn make the bold and convincing argument that we can repair our world by reclaiming the presence of silence in our lives.

Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise is Available now — May 17, 2022.   

Thank you @bibliolifestyle and @harper_wave for my ARC.

#golden #goldenbook #justinzorn #leighmarz #bibliolifestyle   

Crime Writer by Dime Sheppard

If you have ever suffered from writer’s block, you will understand exactly what Evie is going through. Her published novels seem to mock her as she struggles to write her next book. And having the pressure of being overdue for her deadline (all the while juggling a wedding and facing family pressure to take a break from writing) is not helping matters.

She is running on tea and licorice. She recites affirmations for creativity and waits for inspiration to strike during cardio. She is willing to try almost anything to spark her creativity (cardio, meditations, affirmations, coffee…) but nothing seems to help her out of her writing rut. And it seems as if her characters are feeding on her energy; they are as tired as Evie is after 15 books of danger and mysteries.

As the story goes on, we learn more about Evie and her characters. Writing drama is great fun for readers, but, looking at things from the characters’ perspectives, drama is less fun. Evie’s characters are getting out of control. She is finding it harder and harder to control the story: her characters are rebelling, because they have been through a lot of drama. 

And then, one night, the lines between fiction and reality cross. One of her characters comes to life, and is standing right in her kitchen, in the flesh. Soon, a disturbingly familiar homicide surfaces, and it seems as if more of her fictional characters have crossed over into reality. In which case, Evie is in a lot of real-life trouble. If she’s going to survive (or even just get her life back to normal), Evie has some choices to make, and she has to make them fast. 

More than just a fun read, this book suggests that the stories authors write carry over into their real lives. It raises questions on existence: what makes a story real?

“‘But they’re not there,’ he argued. ‘They don’t exist.’ Daniel is very practical.

‘They do exist,’ I argued back. ‘Just not here, exactly.'”

Fiction, no matter how surreal or otherworldly, is a response to reality. So even though the characters Evie writes may not be real in the physical sense, they are real to Evie, and to her readers. A part of Evie exists in her characters, as do the characters live within Evie. They are her creations, they are a part of her story.

“‘But they exist to me, and when people read my books they exist to them, too.’”

This novel is perfect for crime and mystery fans. Filled with drama and excitement, this book will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end!

Crime Writer is available now at all major book retailers.

Thank you to Dime Sheppard for sending me an early copy of Crime Writer! All opinions are my own.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry is a bookish rivals-to-lovers rom-com that is full of fun surprises and twists. Nora and Libby, two book-loving sisters, plan a summer getaway to a picturesque cottage in the slow and sleepy town of Sunshine Falls. But instead of getting a relaxing vacay away from the work, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a rival editor from back in the city.

Forget the grumpy/sunshine trope… this grumpy/grumpy duo are perfect for each other! Nora is complex, deep, funny, and relatable. And Charlie is always saying all the right things, in a good way. I loved them together. Their deadpan humor and teasing banter are so cute, and I love their chemistry as a couple.

I think a lot of readers love books about books, myself included. And with such a bookish title, this title is basically irresistible. The title Book Lovers hints at some subtle details of the story, and there are plenty of literary references to romance authors, tropes, archetypes, and specific books throughout the story. The two main characters even wear the same gender neutral cologne, a scent that is just called “book”.

Modern and fresh, this is a must-read for rom-com lovers.

Thank you to for providing me a free ALC of this title. All opinions are my own.