Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

It's Monday! And I'm Back! I hope... | 11/20/2017
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

 



I really do hope to start blogging more actively now that my work schedule is coming back to a more normal routine--and I don't just mean switching to a day shift position, which is technically more of a midday shift position.  But with this transition, and all the fiasco about my car running into a deer, things have certainly been chaotic.

The last two week at my former job was a big headache, because someone accidentally entered my last day incorrectly, so I got booted out of the system for three nights.  Dealing with all of that was annoying, and I almost just wanted to say F-it! and just call in sick for those last few days.  But I persevered, and now I've started my new job in a new set of hours, and things have been quite nice so far.

The transition has been a little tougher than I'd expected, but I hope everything will normalize soon.

I've been reading, but not really blogging, so I'm a little behind in my reviews.  In order to make myself a happier person, I've just been indulging in the rest of Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series, and will be finishing it up, hopefully by the end of the year.  It's been a rather enjoyable Tessa Dare marathon for me, and I'm quite satisfied with myself.  Because of my strange anal need to read all things in the order they were published, I will also be starting Tessa Dare's Castles Ever After series, if only because it shares a last book with Spindle Cove, apparently--Do You Want to Start a Scandal?

Don't ask.

Meanwhile, I'm finishing up the Flat Book Society Read, Forensics by Val McDermid, which hasn't exactly been what I was expecting, but still enjoyable to an extent.

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 

 

 

What I'm Hoping to Read Next

 

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog


I had stated in a previous post that I have a few 16 Festive Tasks posts planned--for the actual activity tasks, and not the reading tasks.  Hopefully I will be able to get those written and fleshed out, then posted at some point.  I especially want to get the Thanksgiving task posted this week, preferably the day before Thanksgiving, or maybe even on Thanksgiving Day.

While I'm still training at my new job, I will have every weekend off until they deem me ready to work by myself, so hopefully I will be able to prioritize my weekends to include some blogging, and plan a few more 16 Tasks posts!

Meanwhile, I will probably be flooding everyone with the backlogged reviews I've yet to finalize.

Hope everyone else is having a good month!  I've been missing the updates, but have been skimming the Booklikes dashboard and seeing all the 16 Festive Tasks activity!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/its-monday-and-im-back-i-hope-11202017.html
Review
3 Stars
Thoughts: It's in His Kiss
It's in His Kiss - Jill Shalvis

It's in His Kiss
by Jill Shalvis
Book 10 of Lucky Harbor


'Sexy Grumpy Surfer' are three words combined together that aren't as smoothly read as you would think.  I tried it a few times, so if we must, we shall refer to Sam as the 'SGS'... if I feel like lending him an endearing nickname or something.  Sam's nickname for Becca is just slightly cuter, as he calls her 'Peeper' since he's caught her staring at him from her apartment window many times.

At some point, I almost forgot that these characters had real names anyway.

As for the actual story, itself... well, let's just say that Jill Shalvis, while excellent at creating character interaction and lovely humor, definitely isn't all that great at addressing issues that are a bit more serious in nature.  She will use them to help create a backstory for her characters... but by conclusion, those issues seem glossed over in favor of simply solving all the problems with the "One True Love" formula.

And while it's not entirely a deal-breaker for me continuing to read a Jill Shalvis book, I can certainly understand why this would be a reason for many others to be upset or frustrated.


The Story:
Becca Thorpe arrived in Lucky Harbor to get away from the stress of recent events involving her family, specifically her little brother.  To Becca, Lucky Harbor was only supposed to be a pit-stop until she could figure out what to do with herself, how to move on and get her life back together.  But as she continues to explore and get to know Lucky Harbor, she finds herself drawn to the small town of eccentric residents, and slowly creating a home for herself, even if she doesn't realize it yet.

Add onto that the Sexy Grumpy Surfer guy, Sam Brody, and Becca has every reason to continue hanging around... even if this is just a pit-stop.

Meanwhile, while trying to avoid his own complications, Sam can't help but be drawn to Becca when he notices that she has secrets that have hurt her in the past.  He's intent on finding out what her mystery is, even as he has some unresolved issues of his own that need addressing.


My Thoughts:
Sometimes I wonder if some authors just like to create characters with tragic or crappy backgrounds just so that they can become soul mates in their love story.

Sam and Becca both suffer from disappointing, pretty terrible, childhoods.  Sam's father had always been unreliable, which had always ended with Sam in the foster care system.  In present day, Sam does nothing but give his father anything the old man asks for, even if it's unreasonable and only manages to further cause a rift between father and son.  Becca's parents had always left her younger brother to Becca's care, expecting her to do whatever it takes for her brother, even at the expense and detriment of Becca's well-being and mental health.  In present day, this expectation is still floating in the air, and recent events are what caused Becca to uproot and move away from her family, hoping to find comfort and solace for herself.

Once again, to be honest, Jill Shalvis writes lovely characters and stories, with a lot of cute dialogue and tangential side stories.  These are all fine and dandy, but then she brings in some serious issues, such as Sam's relationship with his father, or Becca's relationship with her parents and her brother, or Becca's stage fright, or even the alluded to tragic event that had brought Becca all the way across the country to Lucky Harbor, Washington.

There is always so much potential for these issues to be addressed in a thoughtful way.  In the meantime, there's no reason why we can't have a sweet romance at the same time.

But the book is slightly imbalanced in that the romance overshadows every other issue brought to surface, and then in the end, apparently it's back to "love conquers all," and then Happily Ever After.

The resolution of both Becca's and Sam's conflicts with their respective parents felt abrupt and too easily managed.  The resolution with Becca and her brother might have been a little more believable.  But the issue about Becca's recent tragic event... I'm not sure I really like how that one was handled.

Meanwhile, the romance had it's moments, but the fact that our couple lives in a perpetual state of keeping secrets from each other, but also expecting the other to answer all questions posed to the other was a bit frustrating.  I loved how Sam tried to take care of Becca; I love how Becca got under Sam's skin and makes a place for herself in his life.

What I don't like is how Sam will push for personal, private information that Becca wants to keep to herself, but then shut down the minute she turns around and starts asking him about his own problems.  Then vice versa.

On the other hand, Becca and Olivia actually make a better starting out friendship--neither pushes the other to reveal secrets that she doesn't want to tell.  It's called respect, and the girls seem to be able to keep to those boundaries.  I mean, maybe over time when they get to know each other better, they can start sharing family histories... but for right now, they had just met barely a handful of days ago.  So I find this a refreshing friendship.

Meanwhile Sam and Becca just kept getting irritated when the other wouldn't talk or share stories with the class.

Anyway, enough of my issues.

It's In His Kiss wasn't exactly a Jill Shalvis book that was completely terrible.  I'd say it was in the mediocre 'meh' level, if only because it had it's moments, and it didn't really frustrate me too much.  I will say, however, that I DO miss the close camaraderie of each trio of friends found in each sub-trilogy of the Lucky Harbor series.  Sam, Cole, and Tanner were fun, but they were also kind of boring.  Becca had Olivia... but where's the third point of the trio?  Not to say that Becca and Olivia's new friendship wasn't great--the drunken by two bottles of wine scene was pretty cute.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

 

16 Festive Tasks - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti


I'd been meaning to read the rest of Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor books anyway, and it just so happens that this book can fit a couple squares for the 16 Festive Tasks.  And so I've marked it for Square 14 -- Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Read a book that has a beach or seaside setting.  Sam and his two best friends are surfers as well as run a charter company, and Becca rents a warehouse turned apartment near where they work and live; so the majority of this book DOES indeed take place with the beach as a main part of the setting.

Other Possible Squares:

  • Square 2 | Bon Om Touk:  Water on the cover.
  • Square 3 | St. Martin's Day:  Becca spends the first part of the book looking for a job--her one night waitressing stint was hilarious.
  • Square 10 | Pancha Ganapati:  Book cover has blue, green, orange, and yellow.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-its-in-his-kiss.html
Review
3 Stars
Thoughts: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

Close to Heaven
by Pamela Clare
Book 5 of Colorado High Country


A few days prior to publishing this book, Pamela had written a blog post about how Close to Heaven was supposed to have been a Christmas novella, but that it ended up being long enough to be novel-length.  So rather than being a Christmas novella special for the Colorado High Country series, it is now the fifth installment of the series.

As I finished the second half of the book, I couldn't help but wonder whether, maybe, this story would have worked out better as a shorter, novella-length work.

This isn't to say that the book was terrible, but I certainly felt like it dragged on the last half of the story.  I easily saw Pamela's vision and direction for Close to Heaven, but I'm not sure it was necessarily a smoothly executed one.

Nonetheless, even with my misgivings and conflicts about how this novel was presented, I can't deny that, as usual, Pamela always creates a great story, story premise, and characters, with a lot of heart.


The Story:
It is about a month before Christmas and Scarlet Springs is expecting a wintry snow storm in the next few days.  Rain Minear has been feeling lonely ever since her daughter left for college, and she hasn't been able to catch the eye of her boss, Joe Moffat, whom she has been in love with for the past twenty years.  During the night, she starts to wonder if maybe it's time to move on with her life, and maybe start over in another place away from her childhood home of Scarlet Springs.

What she doesn't expect is that her roof would collapse because of the heavy snow, and she would be left without a home, all too suddenly.  Fortunately for her, Joe is generous and caring, and offers to house her at his home until the snow clears and she can find a place to stay.  Unknown to Rain, though, is that Joe has also harbored the same feelings for her these past twenty years, but has never felt right acting on them due to his own rules for not messing around with his own employees.  On top of that, a sordid family history has also influenced Joe's outlook for his own future.

This Christmas, however, it seems that life has some other plans for the both of them.


My Thoughts:
The first thing that came to mind, surprisingly, was the fact that I had thought Rain was younger--the way she'd been described from the first book, I had had the impression that Rain was in her early twenties, or something.  Apparently, I was a little off, or just didn't really pay attention, even though she was one of the side characters I'd hoped to see a story for.

So when the summary came out that this was Joe's and Rain's love story, I was intrigued.  Throughout the series' first few installments, Joe is clearly an older man--which, at least I didn't mistaken his age.  I wondered how this relationship would play out, my mind thinking that Joe Moffat, in his forties, had at least twenty years on Rain, whom I'd thought was in her twenties.

Then Rain was introduced in this book as thirty-seven years old.  Okay, not as young as I'd thought, but still ten years younger than Joe, according to the narration.  It's still a bit of an age gap, so we can still play on that age gap thing.  Or at least, for a while, it was one of the reasons Joe gave for not making a move on Rain.

Even though that particular reason seemed to NOT be a reason, left behind and forgotten.  It was still a significant factor, of course--Rain had gotten pregnant twenty years ago, with a man ten years her senior, who then proceeded to abandon her.  So Joe didn't want to come off like that jackass.

Then, reason after reason came out for why Joe never made a move on Rain for the past twenty years...  TWENTY YEARS.  And we'll come back to these reasons, but, really, I know Rain has her own misgivings, but twenty years is quite the time for two adults to be lusting after each other NOT to notice.  And twenty years is also a long time for Rain to hold a crush on a guy and not do anything about it--she seems like the straight-forward type, and certainly she held no misgivings about making any moves during the course of this story.

I guess that's why we have a story.  And maybe all it took was for her to have a random opportunity.  Like, say, maybe being stuck living in Joe's home while she awaited her insurance claim, and for the snow to melt off her crumpled property.  And maybe for Joe to get a few hard-ons while she's around so she could finally conclude that maybe Joe was interested in her as much as she was interested in him.

I don't know.  It just seems overly convenient a plot.

Anyway, as for Joe's own issues:  He pretty much refuses to make a move on Rain for so many reasons.  His ancestor was a terrible, terrible man who had taken from people, murdered, and forced sex on his own female employees.  And Joe was of the notion that he didn't want to be anything like his ancestor, Silas Moffat.  In fact, Joe's guilt and shame, brought on by all the horrible things that ancestor Silas had done when the man first settled in Scarlet Springs about a century ago, has even made Joe feel like the Moffat name should die with him.  After all, according to him, his grandfather was also a horrible person, and so was his own father.

Somehow, Joe came out the decent man in the Moffat line.  And he's worried that he'd end up starting a family, giving birth to a son, who ends up inheriting previous Moffat male characteristics for evil-doing.  Apparently with all the knowledge and smarts that Joe has, he hasn't figured out the concept of "Nature versus Nurture."  Nor has he stopped to wonder that he was able to become different from his previous male relations.

So Joe refuses to make a move on Rain because she's his employee and he's ten years her senior; he doesn't want to abuse his authority over her.

It just seems like a lot of wasted time, you know.  Twenty years goes by, and even while the two of them are good friends and colleagues, working well together to run the bar, restaurant, and brewery, known as Knockers... well, it just seems like a lot of wasted time where someone could have made a move, or someone could have recognized feelings, whether lust or deeper.


Close to Heaven is up to Pamela Clare standards as far as characters, writing, and heart are concerned.  The schmaltz factor is more subtle in this book.  However, the ending half felt a little dragged out, even after our couple finally acknowledge feelings.  Because then we're just spending time slowly ambling towards that Happily Ever After as the days move forward towards Christmas.  Like, that maybe Christmas was the ultimate end location for this story, and everything from the mid-mark where Rain and Joe finally reciprocate feelings, moving forward, was just filler until the time was right.

I'm not saying it was terrible or anything.  It was sweet and enjoyable and heart-warming--probably what our lovely author was aiming for.  But I just felt like maybe that section of the book could, maybe, have been shortened a little bit.  Because I couldn't help but get the feeling that that latter half of the book went on forever.  And it makes me feel bad, because I DO love a great Pamela Clare romance novel, and Close to Heaven was, once again, very sweet, even if a bit frustrating on Joe's part since he was being so stubborn about Rain.

I mean, for crying out loud, she practically jumped him, and then paraded around naked in front of him, and he STILL thought he'd be the one in the wrong if he made a move.  Even after Rain tells him that she wants him.

And so, props to rain for not letting herself get stuck on this relationship.  After a couple of rejections, she finally just moves herself on and stops her own advances.

But enough of that.  The Happily Ever After happens, feelings are reciprocated, and the book was enjoyable on certain levels.  I'm satisfied enough.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

 

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-close-to-heaven.html
It's Really Wednesday... And I'm Hijacking This Meme Again. | 11/08/2017
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

 


 


It's been a while since I last posted anything, so I thought I'd give a quick news update on my reading life, and a little tidbit of my non-bookish life.

The weekend had been busy with my preparations in moving to my new job/position/shift.  My brother was also in town to visit, so my dad took the opportunity to recruit his muscle to help move some furniture and purchase a brand new couch.  I spent one morning with a bunch of coworkers, having breakfast together to celebrate my new position.  So, overall, the weekend was busy but relaxing.

Then... on Monday evening, while driving home from a day trip with a friend, we had a little bit of trouble in the form of one lone deer darting in front of my car (an SUV) across a country highway.  The results were disastrous, but my friend thinks we got lucky because I'd been keeping slow anyway because of the dark nighttime, low visibility, and the twisty-turny-curvy route, and the big semis flying past at random.

It was a two lane country highway, with traffic going in both directions.  The deer was sitting in the other lane, and my friend saw it first.  She yelled, "Deer!" and I saw it as soon as she yelled, and started going for my brakes.  Then the darn thing gets up and leaps across my lane like it has lives to spare, and we make contact.  All the while, my foot is pressed down on my brakes like my life depended on it.  All I remember is my hood popping up, and me, somehow getting us off to the shoulder of the highway, out of traffic.  When the hood of my car came back down, I could see the deer, sitting some distance off, and then suddenly just getting up and leaping off into the nearby fields away from the highway.

Then I'm a mess of, "Oh, shit!  Oh, shit!  What do I do now?"  Rinse, and repeat.

That was definitely an experience I hope never to go through again.  The police officer who came out to assist when we called them went in search of the deer and found no trace.  He mentioned a high fence and said that it might have leaped the fence and continued on, though we don't know the extent of its injuries.  We were speculating that it might have already been hit previously, maybe by another, larger vehicle that didn't sustain as much damage as mine; which would explain why the deer was just sitting in the middle of the highway in the dark.

Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the night having a melt down after my parents picked us up (we were still about an hour outside of our home town), because I'm guessing the adrenaline caught up with me or something.  I was a nice blubbering mess and couldn't even pinpoint why I was crying.  Then we spent the next morning dealing with insurance and other details.

Now we wait to see if my car is totaled or still fixable.  The front end is smashed--all the lights are broken, and so is the bumper and grill; and there was a lot of fluid leaking, that the officer said might have been anti-freeze and washer fluid; maybe radiator fluid.  The rest of the car is fine, and I think the windshield was only scratched, though it was hard to tell in the dark.

Needless to say, I haven't exactly been in a mood to do anything at all the past couple days, and even today.

I'm behind on reading and blogging, but with everything starting to settle now, I'm hoping to have my two current reads finished soon.  I have two written reviews I'd planned on posting on Monday, but that plan obviously went out the window.  I just need to finalize them, and hopefully will have two reviews posted within the next couple days... depending on my mood.

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 

 

 

What I'm Planning to Read Next

 


I haven't actually been thinking about what I want to read next, but I DO have Maggie Stiefvater's newest book release borrowed from the library that I probably need to get to as soon as I can.  It's got a rose on the cover, so I will be reading it for one of the squares/holidays in the 16 Festive Tasks game being played at BL right now.

Then I'll figure out what I'm in the mood for after that.

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog


I have actually been spending a little bit of time since the beginning of the month drafting some posts for the 16 Festive Tasks, which I'm hoping to get posted in the near future.  I've got at least three non-book tasks I'm planning to post about--two being drafted, and one still being planned--and so am hoping to find time to get those activities done at some point, with pictures and all, so I can share with the rest of the BL community.

Meanwhile, since I haven't really been reading much the past few days, there's really little else going on.

But, again, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things, and maybe I'll become more active the rest of the month, when life finally decides to settle down.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/its-really-wednesday-and-im-hijacking.html
16 Festive Tasks | Square 1 - Dia de Muertos Book Task
Frost Line - Linda Howard, Linda Winstead Jones

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

 

 

I was going through my Kindle and found this book.  Totally ROYGBIV, right?  Starting it today.  And it's also a book I need to read for another challenge--score two!

 

 

16 Festive Tasks - Dia de los Muertos and All Saints' Day

 

 

Review
3 Stars
Finished: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

This was another enjoyable installment by Pamela Clare, but I can't entirely say that it was her best work.  Still, it's hard for me to completely dislike something by Pamela Clare, and I can kind of see where she was trying to go with this book.

 

Anyway, it was a lovely little Christmas story for me to kick off the holiday season with, as well as finish my first 16 Festive Tasks with.

 

A full review will be coming soon.

 

 

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide

 


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- October 2017

Before I knew it, October was coming to a close.  I feel like it was just a couple days ago that I started reading Bingo books, and posting my first few Halloween Bingo updates.  But September, and then October, seemed to just fly by pretty quickly, and now, here we are, moving into November.

A lot has been going on in my non-bookish life, and maybe that contributed to time flying by so quickly.  But a new chapter in my life is starting up, and I honestly think it will be for the best.  I'm going to be exchanging my late night third shift graveyard hours for a day time position--maybe this will actually allow me to get some sleep when my hours start following a more normal rhythm.  I will actually feel like I have more time to spend with my family and friends, rather than ending up sleeping my entire day away because I can't seem to find the right time to sleep anymore.

So much as been on my mind lately that the only way to keep myself sane had been books, mind-numbing 'click-click' games, and reading games such as Halloween Bingo.  Hopefully things will settle for me soon, and I can have myself some sort of lifestyle that will benefit me.

 

 

October Reads

 



Also Read:  Kidnapping in the Black Hills (short story) by Paige Tyler -- no cover

 

 

Books Dropped/Put On Hold

 

None this month!  Yay!

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

 

October Reading Stats

 

Total works read: 18

  • 13 print/e-book novels / 1 audio book
  • 1 novella (e-book) / 1 novella (audio)
  • 2 short stories


Average rating: 3.56 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  7 titles // 4.0 Stars
    • (1) Jaxson by Alisa Woods
    • (2) Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
    • (3) Deep As The Dead by Kylie Brant
    • (4) The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin
    • (5) The Liar's Dice (novella) by Jeannie Lin
    • (6) Jace by Alisa Woods
    • (7) Kidnapping in the Black Hills (short story) by Paige Tyler
  • Lowest Rated:  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James // 2.5 Stars

 


Series I started reading:

  • Keepers of the Veil by Zoe Forward

 

Series I completed:

  • In the Garden by Nora Roberts
  • The Pingkang Li Mysteries by Jeannie Lin
  • River Pack Wolves by Alisa Woods

 

Series I have made progress on:

  • Moreno & Hart by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
  • X-Ops by Paiger Tyler
  • Mindhunters by Kylie Brant

 


Favorite reads:  The books read for the month of October weren't entirely outstanding, but nothing really came out completely disappointing either.  My favorite book would probably be Jeannie Lin's The Jade Temptress; another book that kind of stands out was probably Jaxson by Alisa Woods.  Oh yes, and a little shout out for Kylie Brant's newest Mindhunters installment, Deep As The Dead.

Disappointing reads:  The truth is, my biggest disappointment was probably Deanna Raybourn's The Dead Travel Fast.  That's not to say it was a bad read or anything, but it wasn't exactly what I'd been hoping for... and maybe if I'd gone into it after reading the Julia Grey books, I wouldn't have expected much more than now that I've read her two Veronica Speedwell books.  Another disappointment might be Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens, if only because I've read her Graveyard Queen books, which are much more mature, much better written, and with less romance cliches.

 

 

Reviews & Notable Posts

 

Reviews Written

 

Memes

 

Other Posts

 

 

Coming Up In November

 

Tentative TBR

 

 

 

Other Stuff

With Halloween Bingo finished, the next game to look forward to is going to be a holiday themed one that will be hosted at Booklikes by Themis-Athena and Murder by Death.  What, exactly, the game would consist of, was still a big question mark, since they were keeping everyone in excited suspense up until their big reveal!  The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season will be a fun time of reading books or performing some fun activities, then sharing with all the community.  I hadn't planned on participating in another game this year, and wanted only just to focus on my year-long ongoing reading challenges... as well as settling some non-bookish stuff in my life.

But after reading the posts for all the tasks (above link) and the rules, I started thinking and planning and making lists and creating spreadsheets... and the next thing I know, I'm so deep into the game already that I'd be damned if I pull back out without at least finishing some of the tasks!

Anyway, I will probably try to have a tracking/summary page up soon, as well as a few update posts.

I've still got a few series I'm wanting to finish up before the end of the year, as well as a few books I really want to get to reading.  But as I'm trying to keep things light in my reading life, I won't be too overly disappointed if I don't finish them.  Although my ultimate goal is to finish Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series, mainly because I'm dead stubborn about reading the last novella, about Sawyer and Chloe, during the Christmas season, since it's a Christmas novella... and maybe see if I can't figure out how to insert that book into the 16 Tasks while I'm at it.

I'm also still working on housekeeping items for my blog, such as transferring the rest of my reviews from Goodreads and Booklikes, and finishing up some static menu pages.  Obviously, this will also still be an ongoing project that will last into the new year, and then maybe a couple months after.

Truth is, I'd really, really, really like to finish transferring my reviews, but time has been limited as of late with all the things going on in my non-bookish life.  And also, I get lazy really easily.  And also, reading is my first choice, obviously.

 

 

2017 Wrap-Ups 

 

Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups
See Also: 2015 Reading Wrap-Up posts (scroll to bottom of page)

(updated as year progresses by month)
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/monthly-reading-wrap-up-october-2017.html
16 Festive Tasks | Square 15 - Newtonmas Book Task
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime - Val McDermid

Book themes for Newtonmas:  Any science book.  Any book about alchemy.  Any book where science, astronomy, or chemistry play a significant part in the plot.  (For members of the Flat Book Society: The “Forensics” November group read counts.)

 

 

Well, lookie at that!  I just started reading this book a few hours ago, so I've started my first task for this game already!

 

Unfortunately, this book seems like it might take a bit of time.  At least, so far, it seems that way.  The first chapter was a bit slow-going, but the rest of the chapters cover some subjects that I'm super interested in, so I'm sure it'll pick up.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Very Brief Thoughts: The Liar's Dice
The Liar's Dice: A Lotus Palace Mystery (The Lotus Palace Mysteries) - Jeannie Lin

The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
The Pingkang Li Mysteries, #2.5 (novella)

 

 

Tang Dynasty China, 849 A.D.
Lady Bai, called Wei-wei by her aristocratic family, has always been the perfectly obedient daughter--but only on the outside.  Inwardly she dreams of freedom.  When she dares to pay a forbidden visit to a public tea garden in men's clothing, only Gao looks close enough to notice her borrowed robes.  Alas, looking closely at the enigmatic Gao tells Wei-wei only one thing: he's a scoundrel.

When the pair witness a fatal stabbing, Gao surprises her by staying at her side as she investigates the brutal crime.  Together they uncover more secrets, somehow tied to her brother and the seedy gambling dens he's been visiting on the sly.  Gao seems to know far too much about the brutal ways of the street, but Wei-wei is drawn to him and his habit of seeing through all her disguises.

Wei-wei revels in her newfound independence and her growing feelings for her mysterious companion, but all too soon she's faced with a cruel choice -- discover the truth and bring the killer to justice, or protect her family at all costs.



A lovely short read for a character I'd been interested in since the first book.  Wei-wei is wonderfully crafted to be smart, bold, and beyond her times; while at the same time she's unassuming enough to understand her own faults.  I wish the "disguised as a man" part of the story would have been a bit more fleshed out, since it is one of the classic romance tropes I love; but as a novella, I suppose it'll have to do.

The romance in this novella was understated, with the focus being more on Wei-wei's self-revelations about herself and her role in her family.  I would love to see more of Wei-wei and Gao, as their relationship is one that would definitely be disapproved of enough in the traditional, historical Chinese sense to be an interesting development if allowed to progress.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Thoughts: The Jade Temptress
The Jade Temptress  - Jeannie Lin

The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin
Book 2 of The Pingkang Li Mysteries

 

 

Welcome to the infamous Pingkang Li—home of the celebrated Lotus Palace courtesans, and a place of beauty and treachery...

Charming and seductive, Mingyu is the most sought-after hostess in the pleasure quarter.  She has all men wrapped around her finger—except Constable Wu Kaifeng, the one man she can't resist, the only man to have placed her in chains.

Wu Kaifeng's outwardly intimidating demeanor hides a reluctant, fierce attraction to beautiful Mingyu.  But the passionate temptation she presents threatens to destroy them both when a powerful official is murdered and they find themselves on a deadly trail.  Amid the chaos, a forbidden affair could change Mingyu's fate forever, for following her heart is bound to have consequences...



My first thoughts while reading The Jade Temptress were about how much development there has been for Mingyu since the events of the first book in this series.  She was cold, untouchable, and as high on a that Empress pedestal her Lotus Palace sisters accuse her of placing herself on.

But even as the book begins, and progresses, Mingyu shows a different side of herself that is different than her first introduction the Lotus Palace--she is the elder sister that Yue-ying loves, who wants nothing but to survive her life and see her sister happy and safe.  She's just a woman trying to make it in life, with what little opportunity being a woman allows her during these times in China; and she's a woman who begins to dream that maybe there could be more for her than eternal servitude to the foster mother who owns her, and the men who pay for her company.

I think I loved this book more than the first book, though, if only because of the complexities of both our main characters.  This is not to say that Yue-ying was not a complex character, because she was definitely so much more than the standard romance novel heroine.  And Bai Huang never truly showed his complexities until nearing the ending, but even then I was hard-pressed to truly appreciate them.

In contrast, Mingyu has so many layers to her that it was quite interesting to watch her progress through her few self-revelations.

And while Wu Kaifeng seems like he's only got one personality--upstanding, blunt, aloof--his layers are also quite interesting to witness as they peel away.

While the attraction between Mingyu and Kaifeng felt a little too fast to be credible, their subsequent interactions were sweet.  It was nice watching both of their exteriors chip away, a little at a time with each meeting or chance meeting between them.  And even while they knew that they both lived in two different worlds, and that their romance would be hard to attain, they didn't spend too much time languishing in the angst that could have come up in the beginning of their courtship.

The murder mystery of The Jade Temptress was quite well outlined, and certainly, for a moment in the book, I followed the wrong red herring, even as I had kind of touched upon the actual truth behind General Deng's death already.  Either I'm slipping, or the twists in this mystery had been clever enough to confuse me.

The Jade Temptress is a historical romance with intrigue and mystery, and is rather quiet and tame compared to the events and high drama of the previous book.  I don't know if it's because our couple are both rather settled, quiet individuals, while the previous book's couple were young and exuberant.  But somehow, this is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed The Jade Temptress a bit more than The Lotus Palace.

Nonetheless, enjoyment was had.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-jade-temptress.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | That's a Wrap! And Penni's Red-Eyed Laser Grid!
 
Halloween Bingo 2017



I didn't feel like posting my table in this wrap up, but it can be found at my Halloween Bingo 2017 summary page linked directly above this intro paragraph.  All books have been read and all squares have been called, so all I decided to do was simply show visuals of each square on my personalized card, in order of each row going across left to right.

All of my Bingo books read have been reviewed, whether short or full, and the book covers link to them.

In addition, I have also added a few books that I read in October that I decided to sort into fitting categories as well.  These books may or may not have been reviewed yet.

If I had to reward some random categories for my Halloween Bingo books:

  • The Favorite One:  Black Rose by Nora Roberts
  • The Disappointing One:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
  • The Best Discussions:  The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  • The Most Unexpected... Expectations Met:  Every Secret Thing by Susanna Kearsley
  • The Guilty Pleasure Love:  Jaxson by Alisa Woods
  • The Sleep Inducing One:  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • The Most Memorable:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


This year's Halloween Bingo was extremely fun, but unfortunately my choice in books wasn't exactly the best.  Last year, there was A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, both of which were exceptionally wonderful books.  This year, I had trouble figuring out which book was my favorite, if only because none of them really stood out exceptionally.

Black Rose was a great book, as were the rest of the In the Garden trilogy, but I can't say that it was one of those "OMG!  This book is so awesome!" kind of feels that I'd had with The Graveyard Book or A Curious Beginning.

In contrast, I DID get to read more books of my own favorite genre, so my enjoyability was still quite high.  I'm actually quite surprised at how many Romantic Suspense novels I was able to insert into this year's Halloween Bingo game, and that is definitely thanks to the new twist in this game that lets us choose square categories more to our liking.


Finally, I wanted to give a really big shout out to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for another wonderfully created Booklikes game!  Halloween Bingo was so much fun last year, and this year the changes were even better!  I'm so glad that I started following the reading challenges that Moonlight and Obsidian have been putting together, because they have brought another layer of fun to my reading life.

Along with all the interactions between all of the players in this BL community, the games we have played have always been extremely satisfying and a wonderful way to knock out books on the TBR!

I definitely look forward to what these two lovely ladies, or anyone else for the matter, have in store for the next reading challenge/game!

 

 

Completed Marked Card:

 

 

 


Called Square:  Green Square Border
Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni
Called and Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni in a Green Box
Bingos:  Multiple Red Eyes Penni in Green Boxes with Orange Laser Eyes Across the Board

 

 

Squares and Books:

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-bingo-2017-thats-wrap-and.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Update #9 -- The Big Read-out!
 
Halloween Bingo 2017



Taking from Themis-Athena, I am announcing my "Read-out" (Reading Blackout), which is not quite a Bingo Blackout yet because I still have one square left to be called.  At this point, my Blackout will happen either on the 29th or 31st since there is still one square that is NOT on my card that has not been called.

Either way, it looks like we're bringing this Bingo game to a close soon.  I'm actually feeling pretty sad.

On an aside, I'm also reading a few extra books for some of the squares... because I can.  I won't list them here, but I will mention them when I post a Halloween Bingo Wrap Up later.

All of my reviews are caught up, and I feel super accomplished!

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 


Called Square:  Green Square Border
Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni
Called and Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni in a Green Box
Bingos:  Multiple Red Eyes Penni in Green Boxes with Orange Laser Eyes Across the Board

See also the table below for some spreadsheet goodness.

 

 

Squares/Books/Called Dates/Other Links:


Progress:  24 squares called || 25 books read || 24 squares completed || 6 BINGOs
(on my card only)

Squares called that I do not have:
9/17 - Modern Masters of Horror
9/27 - Terror in a Small Town
10/5 - 80's Horror
10/9 - Chilling Children
10/21 - Demons
10/23 - The Dead Will Walk

Bingo Calls Thread
The Best and Worst of Halloween Bingo 2017
Report Your Bingos!

September Group Read | Discussion Thread -- The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
October Group Read | Discussion Thread -- Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Bingo Square
Called (date)
Title
Author
Read (Date)
How it Fits
             
Magical realism
11-Oct
Gaiman, Neil
26-Sep
tagged 'magical realism' on GR
Classic noir
7-Oct
Hammett, Dashiel
17-Sep
hard-boiled, classic noir mystery & group read
Ghost
1-Sep
Roberts, Nora
14-Sep
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Supernatural
 
Arnett, Mindee
7-Sep
supernatural school for magic creatures
Diverse voices
21-Sep
Lin, Jeannie
27-Sep
author is Chinese
             
Cozy mystery
3-Sep
Peters, Elizabeth
7-Sep
tagged 'cozy mystery' on GR
Witches
13-Sep
Forward, Zoe
6-Oct
female MC is a witch
Vampires
15-Oct
Raybourn, Deanna
15-Oct
Transylvania and vampires
Country house mystery
17-Oct
Ayatsuji, Yukito
17-Oct
closed circle of suspects
Haunted houses
23-Sep
Roberts, Nora
25-Sep
ghostly Harper Bride haunts mansion
             
Aliens
29-Sep
Castle, Jayne
3-Sep
dust bunnies!!
Genre: horror
7-Sep
Poe, Edgar Allan
13-Oct
tagged 'horror' on GR:
classic horror by EAP
Free Space
N/A
Brennan, Allison
9-Oct
murder mystery w/ suspense
Monsters
25-Oct
Tyler, Paige
14-Oct
female MC is an animal shifter
In the dark, dark woods
5-Sep
Holt, Victoria
17-Sep
woods are significant
             
Amateur sleuth
19-Oct
Cole, Emma
16-Sep
female MC is a reporter
Werewolves
15-Sep
Woods, Alisa
10-Oct
book about wolf shifters
Gothic
3-Oct
Stewart, Mary
24-Oct
tagged 'gothic' on GR
Romantic suspense
13-Oct
Brant, Kylie
20-Oct
romance + suspense + serial killer + murder mystery
Darkest London
1-Oct
Quick, Amanda
12-Sep
setting = Victorian London
             
Murder most foul
11-Sep
Stevens, Amanda
5-Oct
there is a murder and a mystery
Serial/spree killer
25-Sep
Novak, Brenda
20-Sep
summary mentions serial killer
Classic horror
27-Oct
James, Henry
26-Oct
classic horror
Terrifying women
19-Sep
Roberts, Nora
4-Oct
ghostly Harper Bride; haunting; written by a woman
Locked room mystery
9-Sep
Shimada, Soji
10-Sep
death/murder in a locked room

 

 

Currently Reading:


All done!!

 

 

Tentative Bingo Hopefuls:


Magical Realism:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Classic Noir:  The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Cozy Mystery:  The Camelot Caper by Elizabeth Peters
Witches:  Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward
Vampires:  The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
Country House Mystery:  The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
Haunted House:  Black Rose by Nora Roberts

Aliens:  Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle
Genre: Horror:  The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Free Space:  Deep As The Dead by Kylie Brant
Monsters:  Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt

Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
Werewolves:  Jaxson by Alisa Woods
Gothic:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
Darkest London:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
Classic Horror:  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Terrifying Women:  Red Lily Nora Roberts
Locked Room Mystery:  The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-bingo-2017-update-9-big-read.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | More Book Ramblings at End Game
Just Past Midnight - Amanda Stevens Protecting His Witch (a Keepers of the Veil novel) (Entangled Covet) - Zoe Forward Hit and Run - Laura Griffin, Allison Brennan Jaxson (River Pack Wolves 1) - New Adult Paranormal Romance - Alisa Woods The Dead Travel Fast - Deanna Raybourn, Charlotte Parry Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) - Sandra Brown, Mary Stewart The Turn of the Screw - Henry James, Richard Armitage, Emma Thompson

 


 



My blogging motivation is still on the fritz, so I decided to make a 'To-Do' list and give myself assignments as to what kinds of posts I will be publishing for the rest of October.

And so to placate myself, I made another compilation of Halloween Bingo books for "short" rambling reviews.  In kind, I also sat down and appointed specific books that would be allowed its own individual review... for reasons only I would understand... or maybe even not.

The majority of my ramblings have more to do with why said books would or would not fit the squares I had chosen them for, as well as what I might do to shuffle books and squares around.  And yes, I DO get long-winded.

 

 

Rating:  3.0 Stars


I had originally planned on a full review for this book.  But due to reasons, that didn't happen.  Instead, all I have to say is that this is definitely NOT one of Amanda Steven's better works.  Of course, Just Past Midnight was written years prior to her more well-known Graveyard Queen series (which I love), and so I suspect her writing has matured over the years.

Just Past Midnight is a decent, mediocre, and enjoyable murder mystery with all the standard romantic suspense tropes.  The insta-lust and insta-love was a bit eye-rolling, and the whole "most beautiful woman in the room" thing was also a bit exasperating.  But overall, this is a book that one can find entertainment in for a nice rainy afternoon... or night, if you want to creep yourself out, since there were some scenes that might do it.

I originally chose to read this book for the 'Amateur Sleuth' square because the main heroine is a psychologist, though she DOES do forensic work for law enforcement, so I don't know how that would work towards the square.  The main hero, though, is a defense lawyer... so, not quite law enforcement?

Of course, after some flipping and flopping, back and forth, I finally decided just to switch a few books around that fit certain squares a bit better.  Since this book DOES, indeed, have murders, it would fit the 'Murder Most Foul' square, regardless--in fact, several of the books I've read would fit this square, which, to be honest, is pretty much a free space for me anyway...

This book could also count for:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Serial/Spree Killer
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  3.5 Stars


Okay, so the truth is, aside from the title and the fact that the main female character is called a witch, I'm not entirely sure that Kat, or the other seven sisters, are actually witches in the traditional sense.  At least based on the powers and the in-book legends, the seven sisters are more descendants of Goddesses or something like that; but they are referred to as witches throughout the book because they have supernatural abilities.  So I may or may not switch this one out for Jaxson, which really does have a more traditional type of witch, with a coven and spells and curses and all that, then maybe read something else for the 'Werewolves' square.  Maybe.

As for this book, it was actually much more enjoyable than I'd expected it to be, with a great premise and outline.  The progression was smooth and the book was easy to read.

Unfortunately, characters feel a bit stock-standard, and the execution of the story itself could use a little work; some of the scenes and twists and reveals feel a bit too deliberate, as if they were written in for the sake of forwarding the story.  While they make sense, they also feel awkwardly inserted.  Some of the characters and their histories could have been fleshed out a bit more.

And also, maybe we could have done without such a heavy focus on the sex and romance--our main couple couldn't spend more than a couple paragraphs in each other's presence without getting hot and heavy, and I swear, our hero was sporting a hard-on the entire book.  Then again, I'm sure that might have also been deliberate--for reasons.

This book could also count for:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Supernatural
  • Terrifying Women

 


 


This book was entirely forgettable.  And since I've been in a non-blogging mood, I honestly couldn't think of what to say about it.  And days later, after finishing it, I still couldn't find anything to say about it.

I hadn't entirely enjoyed the first book in this series, but at least it held promise.  And this second book wasn't entirely terrible either, because I DID enjoy the reading of it.  But I'll be damned if I can think of anything that stands out about Hit and Run.

Scarlet's part, Hit, written by Allison Brennan, was once again the better of the two parts, with a well outlined plot, likable characters, and an intriguing premise.  But all I can recall from this half of the book is that Scarlet came across a lot more reckless than I remember thinking she was from the first book, Crash and Burn.  I DID like the developing relationship between Scarlet and Detective Alex Bishop though, but it felt pretty backseat.

Meanwhile, Krista's part, Run, by Laura Griffin, while written well and had some amusing interaction between Krista and others at the beginning, felt like it was deteriorating in character development towards the end.  Even the murder investigation felt a little deflated.  And R.J. Flynn, Krista's P.I. rival and love interest just comes off as a Grade A jackass--in short, I don't like him, and I don't like that Krista finds him irresistible... just because.  He treats her really crappy and I don't see why she finds him irresistible, aside from him being the main, hottie, love interest.

Because of the almost lack of romance in this book, there's a slight possibility I might swap it out for a different book to fill the square I finally made the decision just to swap it out for a book that has more balanced focus on the romance, the suspense, and the murder investigations:  Deep As The Dead by Kylie Brant.  But being that both Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin are known romantic suspense authors, I'd been inclined to just leave it be.  There was romance, as much as I didn't care for either couples...

Anyway, this book will just go in the 'Creepy Raven Free Space.'  Even though the romance was a bit lacking, there was murder and there was suspense.

Though, for a while, I had contemplated swapping out for Amanda Quick's newest historical romantic suspense that I have on hold via e-book library.  If I get to checking it out before the end of October, maybe it could stand in for this square.  I mean, I'll read that book, either way.

Well, look at that... I DID find something to say after all!

This book could also count towards:

  • Murder Most Foul
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  4.0 Stars


Since wolf shifters also count for this square, I went ahead and read Jaxson, the first book in a trilogy about three brothers, all three of them wolf shifters.  I'm considering moving Jaxson onto the 'Witches' square, since the heroine in this book fits as a traditional witch better than the book I originally chose for that square.  I could then read the second River Pack Wolves book for this square... but I'm still deciding what I want to do, and chances are, I'm just going to let it go.

Jaxson is probably one of those guilty pleasure romance reads that is enjoyable for all the right and wrong reasons.  This book has it's fair share of cliches and tropes and logic holes.  This book could also use some editing work.  But the characters are lovely, the romance was just the right amount of angsty and sweet, the setting was a promising urban fantasy set-up... and most importantly, I was entertained and I liked it.

I will be reading the rest of the trilogy, because I can't help myself.

This book could also count for:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Supernatural
  • Witches
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
audio book narrated by Charlotte Parry
Rating:  3.5 Stars


I'm conflicted, much like I was when I read my very first Deanna Raybourn book, Silent in the Grave.  I'm conflicted because Deanna Raybourn's ability to create vivid imagery and atmospheric narrative is just so excellent.  But at the same time, she tends to spend a lot of time either building the story, or dragging out certain events in the story.

So I don't know how I feel about this book, exactly, because aside from the few scenes that felt dragged, I had a hard time really liking any of the characters, even Theodora.  The romance was just hard to stomach considering the Count acts like an asshole most of the book, and Theodora kind of lets him get away with acting like an asshole and she is still attracted to him.

And the mystery... was actually quite predictable and I had it figured out, even if there was a bit of a twist in the end that I didn't see coming.  But that's just me.

My thoughts aren't complete, and I don't really think they will be complete.

On an aside, I listened to the audio book version of this book, narrated by Charlotte Parry, which was absolutely excellent!

And, at the risk of spoiling the book, the vampire aspect isn't exactly what I had been expecting, with the conclusion a bit open-ended.  It's a little hard to determine what Raybourn was going for with this book, though I don't know that I really want to try too hard to figure it out.

This book could also count towards:

  • Gothic
  • Supernatural
  • Werewolves (?) -- There are mentions of certain characters "going wolf" and disappearing into the mountains.  This is very brief.
  • Terrifying Women

 


 


This book gets an extra star just for the writing and atmosphere, because it's beautifully done.  I might even reserve half a star for the MC, Linda Martin, but really, there were a few things about her that frustrated me.  Nonetheless, there were also some things about her I approved of.

The romance was also fairly insta, and the chemistry between Linda and Raoul wasn't exactly what I would call existent.  I had a hard time seeing that they were in love, but their few scenes together were pretty sweet.

The best character in the book was probably nine-year-old Phillipe de Valmy.  Everyone else, I didn't really care for.

It was hard to get into the book in the beginning, but when the first signs of danger started showing (which DID take some time for the story to come around to), the rest of the book was quite engaging.  But before that, I wasn't entirely sure where this book was trying to go.

These are just a few scattered thoughts, and that's pretty much it.

This book could also count towards:

  • Gothic
  • Supernatural
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
audio book narrated by Emma Thompson
(with Richard Armitage - introduction)
Rating:  2.5 Stars


I had to go back and re-listen to this book from the beginning after I realized I had no idea what was going on after finishing the first or second chapter--I don't quite remember.  Whether this was because of my own wandering mind because of having a lot to think about on a personal level lately... or just the book's inability to keep my attention, I couldn't really say.

I am in agreement with many other reviews that this book is extraordinarily verbose.  There's a lot of repetition about specific points in the book: whether or not Mrs. Grose knows what's going on with the children, whether or not Mrs. Grose sees the specters, whether or not the children see the ghosts, why Miles was expelled from school, the fact that the children are amazingly beautiful.  These particular subjects kept being brought up over and over again.  And I even recall some point in the book where at least half an hour to an hour (audio book) is spent on: "Do they see them?"  "They do see?"  "Why do they deny it?" "Do they really see?"  "Do they know?"  And so on, and so forth about the children.

And there's a lot of circular conversations between the governess and Mrs. Grose about how the children behave and what Mrs. Grose knows and why Mrs. Grose has never done or said anything, and so on and so forth.

And even in the end, all I know is that a governess was hired for little girl Flora.  There are ghosts in this home.  Miles was expelled from school for whatever reason.  And ghosts keep appearing and are evil and the children need saving, but the children won't admit to seeing the ghosts.  And Mrs. Grose talks in circles.

This book could also count towards:

  • Genre: Horror
  • Ghosts
  • Haunted Houses
  • Gothic
  • Supernatural

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-bingo-2017-more-book.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Finished: Nine Coaches Waiting
Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) - Sandra Brown, Mary Stewart

Second to last book read for Halloween Bingo!  One more book to go.

 

I'll have a review out for this book at some point....  But right now, all I can think to say is that, while the beginning was hard to get into, the book picked up with signs of danger started surfacing.  I wasn't entirely in like with many of the characters, and the best character in the whole book was probably nine-year-old Phillipe de Valmy.

 

The writing was also excellently atmospheric.

 

 

 

 

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James,Richard Armitage,Emma Thompson Last book to finish will be The Turn of the Screw, which shouldn't take long.  I'm listening to the audio narrated by Emma Thompson, and am actually already halfway through it.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Thoughts: Deep As The Dead
Deep as the Dead (The Mindhunters Book 9) - Kylie Brant

Deep As The Dead
by Kylie Brant
Book 9 of Mindhunters


First of all, warning for some gruesome murders.  But this is par for Kylie Brant anyway, as her Mindhunters series has always leaned more towards the dark and gritty.  You don't actually see the murder happen, but the victims' bodies DO get described in a bit of detail.

Secondly, I would love to believe that the reason why I enjoyed this book slightly more so than I did the previous two Mindhunters installments, was because Kylie Brant read my reviews and tweaked the few things I'd mentioned as little quibbles from said previous two installments.  One book I mentioned had excellent chemistry between the main couple, but an extremely scattered outline and a chaotic second half; the other book had a well written progression and murder investigation, but the couple held little chemistry.

Deep As The Dead brings the best of both worlds that I've always recalled loving about the Mindhunters series together; and that makes me intensely happy.

Nonetheless, I've yet to be completely disappointed in any of the works I've read by Brant, so really, she's just good at what she does in this genre--telling an exciting romantic suspense, with just the right amount of everything I've always enjoyed in this series.


The Story:
A serial killer at large has been absent for about three years, but recently makes his reappearance with a few brutal killings within a short period of time.  He leaves a calling card--the victims' mouths are sewn together, hiding within the body of a dead dragonfly and second, unique insect within a small glassine bag.  The dragonfly represents the serial killer, the other insect hints at the victims' sins.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ethan Manning has been assigned to the newly formed task force to capture this serial killer, dubbed by the media as The Tailor because of his sewing his victims' mouths shut.  The Tailor has eluded law enforcement across Canada for years, several investigators and task forces having been unsuccessful at apprehending him; and Ethan has no qualms about asking for whatever resources he can get in order to bring this monster to justice.  What he hadn't expected was to see Alexa Hayden again, so many years after the two of them parted under tragic circumstances.

Alexa is a consultant with Raiker Forensics, specializing in forensic entomology, which proves useful in figuring out what the serial killer's obsession with insects could lead to.  She's the one who makes the connection between the meaning behind the dragonfly and the second bug, and begins formulating a profile, figuring out what this killer is after, and who the next victim could possibly be.  By chance, The Tailor notices Alexa, learns of her specialty, somehow feels with her some sort of kinship.  And eventually, she has become his next obsession.


My Thoughts:
Of course, a romantic suspense is never short on psychotic serial killers who sight in on our main heroine because of some sort of trait she exhibits.  I'm not entirely sure that I've actually seen this particular device employed in any of the Kylie Brant Mindhunters books, except maybe two.  But this is a device we see in a lot of romantic suspense, nonetheless.  I suspect it's a means of making our main heroine "a special someone" in the story, without really hammering in the fact that she's "a special someone."

While I've never been entirely too thrilled about the main heroine being "special," in such a way, I think that this characteristic actually plays to Alexa's benefit.  Because, despite what Ethan thinks, I think she kind of knows that she's good at getting people to open up to her and let down their guards; and I think she knows that if she uses the right amount of charm, she could get any witness or interviewee to talk freely and comfortably.

And, of course, it's her being "a special someone" that will get our elusive serial killer to finally break his patterns and screw up enough to get caught... obviously.

Anyway...

Deep As The Dead encompasses one of the devices I love most about crime thrillers--a feeling of police procedural and togetherness on the force, where all of our players work together to find the killer and bring him to justice.  It's always intriguing to me, watching our main task force working together in this way, and also kind of bonding over their shared need to stop a monstrous killer.  There were amusing little asides and quips among the task force members, and great interactions.

The investigation was interesting enough to keep me hooked.  The little insights about the use of the insects was interesting.  Now, the whole thing about the killer seeing himself as "doing God's work," is probably an overused trope in crime thrillers, as it's a pretty common one employed.  Of course, it's often commonly used if only because it credible.

The romance between Alexa and Ethan was mature and sweet, tinged with the underlying pain of their history.  To be honest, there were all sorts of signs that an angsty love story was probably going to play out, but I'm actually kind of happy that the two were able to compartmentalize, set aside their feelings about the past, and work with each other.  Even when a few tidbits about their history surfaced, it didn't stop them from being professional; it didn't keep them from being mature about their situation.  It didn't keep the two of them from caring about each other as colleagues, or on a personal level.

It was a subtle, yet wonderfully handled second-chance romance; and the way it played out made me think that their parting really wasn't as angry as they had made it out to be, even if the circumstances were still heartbreaking.

Deep As The Dead is an excellently enjoyable new installment to the Mindhunters series.  And even while there are rather noticeable flaws in editing--typos, missing pronouns, missing words here and there, missing verbs--I found myself just moving on and disregarding those errors.  It's a little jarring at times, truth be told, to see an editing error, because I find myself backtracking at points to try to figure out what the sentence was trying to convey.  But it wasn't bad enough to make me truly upset with the book or it's unpolished publication.

This was a good romantic suspense.  And I look forward to Kylie Brant's next installation... or, in fact, her next book release, which I suspect isn't related to the Mindhunters series.


***

 

Halloween Bingo


This book could also count for:

  • Murder Most Foul
  • Serial Killer
  • Terrifying Women

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/thoughts-deep-as-dead.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Update #8 -- Two Books Left to Read
 
Halloween Bingo 2017



I was hoping I'd have all but one of my Bingo books read by now, but I got distracted.  As it stands, I'm still working on the last two books for this card, which, to be honest, is much better progress than I'd made last year.  I do believe that it took me right up to the very last day of October to finish my last Bingo book the previous year.

I think it might have to do with the fact that I had more audio books this year, even though I had more short stories last year.

And maybe... I might have also overwhelmed myself with another ongoing challenge at this time the previous year, and was a bit adamant about reading a few library books I didn't want to put off until later.  And also, some of the books I'd chosen might not have been novella or short story length, but it wasn't like they were brick-sized tomes either since at least two that I can think of were barely 250 pages long.

And, this year, my main focus was Halloween Bingo for these past two months, and the truth is, I think all was quite excellently planned!

There are a few of my squares that I'd been contemplating swapping out books for, but wasn't sure if I really wanted to do so.  I DID, however, shuffle some of my book selections around, but all the squares I'm shuffling have been read for, so it doesn't really change my card any, really.

I flipped Every Secret Thing into the 'Amateur Sleuth' square, and went ahead and placed Just Past Midnight into the 'Murder Most Foul' square.  I feel like this flip-flop fits a little bit better, since I can't determine whether or not the characters in Just Past Midnight count as law enforcement or not: one MC is a lawyer, and the other MC is a psychologist, who does freelance work with law enforcement as a forensic expert.

So... using Every Secret Thing for 'Amateur Sleuth' instead, I now have an investigative reporter as my MC, who spends the entire book investigating the deaths of different people who have a connection to something that happened two generations ago.  And Just Past Midnight has murders, so it fits 'Murder Most Foul.'  The proper edits have been written into my review of Every Secret Thing.

I also went ahead and flipped the book I'd chosen for 'Romantic Suspense' with the book I just finished reading for the Creepy Raven Free Space.  Hit and Run really did NOT strike me as having much romance in it, though it was there in the background, and so I couldn't justify (to myself), using it for this square, even if there's suspense and murders and mystery.  In contrast, Deep As The Dead is definitely a Romantic Suspense book.

Will I shuffle more books around?  I don't know.  Again... I might get lazy.

However, with this shuffling, and this finishing of all but two books, as well as the most recent square calls, I now have 6 BINGOs!!

The card looks a little messy with all the orange lines running through all the Penni's faces, but there are three going vertical, one horizontal, and the big 'X' going through the Free Space.  I decided not to put orange rectangles around the Bingo lines because that had started to look even messier!

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 



Called Square:  Green Square Border
Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni
Called and Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni in a Green Box
Bingos:  Multiple Red Eyes Penni in Green Boxes with Orange Lines Through the Faces

See also the table below for some spreadsheet goodness.

Reviews pending:  Just Past Midnight, Protecting His Witch, Hit and Run, Jaxson, The Dead Travel Fast, Deep As The Dead

 

Squares/Books/Called Dates/Other Links:


Progress:  22 squares called || 23 books read || 21 squares completed || 6 BINGOs
(on my card only)

Squares called that I do not have:
9/17 - Modern Masters of Horror
9/27 - Terror in a Small Town
10/5 - 80's Horror
10/9 - Chilling Children
10/21 - Demons

Bingo Calls Thread
The Best and Worst of Halloween Bingo 2017
Report Your Bingos!

September Group Read | Discussion Thread -- The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
October Group Read | Discussion Thread -- Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Bingo Square
Called (date)
Title
Author
Read (Date)
How it Fits
             
Magical realism
11-Oct
Gaiman, Neil
26-Sep
tagged 'magical realism' on GR
Classic noir
7-Oct
Hammett, Dashiel
17-Sep
hard-boiled, classic noir mystery & group read
Ghost
1-Sep
Roberts, Nora
14-Sep
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Supernatural
 
Arnett, Mindee
7-Sep
supernatural school for magic creatures
Diverse voices
21-Sep
Lin, Jeannie
27-Sep
author is Chinese
             
Cozy mystery
3-Sep
Peters, Elizabeth
7-Sep
tagged 'cozy mystery' on GR
Witches
13-Sep
Protecting His Witch
Forward, Zoe
6-Oct
female MC is a witch
Vampires
15-Oct
The Dead Travel Fast
Raybourn, Deanna
15-Oct
Transylvania and vampires
Country house mystery
17-Oct
Ayatsuji, Yukito
17-Oct
closed circle of suspects
Haunted houses
23-Sep
Roberts, Nora
25-Sep
ghostly Harper Bride haunts mansion
             
Aliens
29-Sep
Castle, Jayne
3-Sep
dust bunnies!!
Genre: horror
7-Sep
Poe, Edgar Allan
13-Oct
tagged 'horror' on GR:
classic horror by EAP
Free Space
N/A
Hit and Run
Brennan, Allison
9-Oct
murder mystery w/ suspense
 
Monsters
 
Tyler, Paige
14-Oct
female MC is an animal shifter
In the dark, dark woods
5-Sep
Holt, Victoria
17-Sep
woods are significant
             
Amateur sleuth
19-Oct
Cole, Emma
16-Sep
female MC is a reporter
Werewolves
15-Sep
Jaxson
Woods, Alisa
10-Oct
book about wolf shifters
 
Gothic
3-Oct
Nine Coaches Waiting
Stewart, Mary
 
tagged 'gothic' on GR
Romantic suspense
13-Oct
Deep As The Dead
Brant, Kylie
20-Oct
romance + suspense + serial killer + murder mystery
Darkest London
1-Oct
Quick, Amanda
12-Sep
setting = Victorian London
             
Murder most foul
11-Sep
Just Past Midnight
Stevens, Amanda
5-Oct
there is a murder and a mystery
Serial/spree killer
25-Sep
Novak, Brenda
20-Sep
summary mentions serial killer
 
Classic horror
 
The Turn of the Screw
James, Henry
 
classic horror
Terrifying women
19-Sep
Roberts, Nora
4-Oct
ghostly Harper Bride; haunting; written by a woman
Locked room mystery
9-Sep
Shimada, Soji
10-Sep
death/murder in a locked room

 

Currently Reading:

 

 

 

Tentative Bingo Hopefuls:


Magical Realism:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Classic Noir:  The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Cozy Mystery:  The Camelot Caper by Elizabeth Peters
Witches:  Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward
Vampires:  The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
Country House Mystery:  The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
Haunted House:  Black Rose by Nora Roberts

Aliens:  Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle
Genre: Horror:  The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Free Space:  Deep As The Dead by Kylie Brant
Monsters:  Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt

Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
Werewolves:  Jaxson by Alisa Woods
Gothic:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
Darkest London:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
Classic Horror:  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Terrifying Women:  Red Lily Nora Roberts
Locked Room Mystery:  The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-bingo-2017-update-8-two-books.html