Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

3 Stars
Thoughts: Always on My Mind
Always On My Mind  - Jill Shalvis

Always on My Mind
by Jill Shalvis
Book 8 of Lucky Harbor

As I stated in a Booklikes-opoly update, this book felt overly complicated when it didn't have to be.  With the previous two Lucky Harbor books being super enjoyable, I was hoping that the streak would hold.

But just as usual, sometimes you just come across a Jill Shalvis contemporary that doesn't work for you... even as you really, really hope it would because of how much you love firefighters.

The Story:
Leah Sullivan ran away from Lucky Harbor when she was younger, having endured a tough childhood involving a physically and verbally abusive father.  Unfortunately, her father's belief that she would never amount to anything has followed Leah her entire life--she drops out of culinary school, and even manages to screw up a big break on a reality cooking show where she'd been everyone's pick for a winning, up and coming star.

She returns to Lucky Harbor to be with her grandmother, who has had a health scare and cannot manage her bakery for a while; and so Leah takes over, putting herself to work every hour of each day so that she doesn't have to face the consequences of her failures.  Meanwhile, she feels this urgency to at least do something with her life, to accomplish something to prove to everyone, and maybe simply to prove to herself, that she's not a screw up like her father has always told her she was.

But while in Lucky Harbor, she starts connecting with old friends, especially her closest and best friend, Jack Harper.  Once upon a time, Leah and Jack had had a special bond with the possibility of developing into something more.  But she knows that having run away from Lucky Harbor meant running away from Jack--and a relationship she doesn't think she'll ever be able to salvage.

But then when she's talking to Jack's mother, Dee, a hair-brained idea pops into her head.  With Dee's concern that Jack will never find a woman and settle down and start a family, Leah blurts out that she and Jack are together.  It's just a little fib to make an older woman in the midst of chemotherapy happy; or at least that's what Leah keeps telling herself.

My Thoughts:
Always on My Mind had a great amount of potential to be a cute, breezy, and fun contemporary romance.  And it was breezy in some aspects.  But at the same time, it was also overly complicated, and our main couple does a wonderful job of creating a lot of unnecessary angst.

One of the major things that bugs me about a lot of romance novels is the characters' bad habit of never talking to each other.

Well, in this case, it's not so much that Leah and Jack don't talk to each other.  Because they DO talk to each other.  Even with their history and their hidden animosity towards each other, they are still best friends and still care deeply about one another.  But when the subject of romance, love, or even lust comes up, they spend more time avoiding each other, or talking in circles around each other than they do trying to understand what's going on.

Honestly, half the time I had no idea what either of the two wanted with each other.  Whenever it sounded like Jack was wanting to have a more binding relationship with Leah, he'd then monologue something that made me think otherwise.  Leah did the exact same thing, and it got really frustrating after a while.

Then we find out why Jack had been acting like such a butthurt jackass around Leah whenever the subject of a deeper romantic relationship between them came up.  It felt a little... childish?  Leah ran away from Lucky Harbor, and ran away from him, apparently, and he took it seriously enough to hold a grudge all these years.  Even knowing the shit that she'd gone through during her childhood and why she ran away.

His continued jackass attitude was not very appreciated; especially since Leah was already self-conscious and casting self-blame for all the things she feels like she's screwed up in her life.

I really wanted to like Jack.  He's a really great person when he's not trying to unintentionally hurt Leah for hurting him all those years ago.  When he's sweet to her, he really is sweet to her.  When he's thinking as a friend and not as a jilted almost lover, he really does come off as a wonderful best friend.  And when he's in firefighter mode, saving lives and investigating arson, he's kind of hot.

And Leah... well, I really don't know how I feel about Leah.  She was a study in complications.

Meanwhile, it was really the senior citizens who stole the show.

Well... the senior citizens and Jack's cousin Ben.  Ben's snarky, deadpan attitude might have stolen my heart.  His relationship with Jack and Luke (from the previous book) was a most excellent one.  And on that note, I DID very much appreciate all the friendships, relationships, and character interactions in this book.  The trio of Ali, Leah, and Aubrey was a strange one, to say the least, but a fun one, and I have a feeling I'm going to like Aubrey a lot in the next book.




Roll #31:
Book takes place in a small town called Lucky Harbor.

Page Count:  318
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $239












Booklikes-opoly | Roll #33! and Free Friday #7!
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


I landed on Luxury Tax for Roll #32, a space I'd landed on one after the Big Game Shake Up, so location multiplier for a second finish of the game space applied.  For this space, I chose to read On the Loose by Tara Janzen--the heroine in this book can be considered a millionaire.  The book is 403 pages, which gave me a $15.00 increase to the Bank.


On the Loose was entertaining.  It dragged for some parts of the book, and maybe there was too much going on, but I really loved Honey and the fact that she's not what you expect.  A review will be posted soon.

Roll #33.1:

So a set of doubles was rolled, granting me a double 3 = 6.  This took me from Luxury Tax to BL Square 20.


Monkey striking another fun pose.  Like a ballet pose?

Anyway, so I need to roll again to see what my task is:


BL Task #2:  "Give $5.00 to another player.  If you don't have $5.00, roll again!"

After a bit of "Eenie-meenie-miney-moe," (or rather, I just randomly chose twelve players, assigned everyone a number and then rolled my d12), I ended up choosing Familiar Diversions to give $5.00 to.  At this point in the game, I don't know that free money will help a whole lot of people, but I have to give away free money, so there it is!

I give to thee, Familiar Diversions, a $5.00 increase to your bank!

Don't spend it all in one place!

Since I rolled doubles, I will roll again.  Roll #33.2:


I rolled an 8 and ended up landing on Free Parking.


Oh, Monkey!  It's not that bad.  We can afford $5.00.  And look, Free Parking isn't a bad spot either--we've been here before.  It just means we roll again.  "Roll the dice.  Odd number sends you to the waterworks, even number sends you to the electric company, doubles sends you to the luxury tax."


So, rolling an odd number, I move to Water Works.  "Read a book with water on the cover, or where someone turns on the waterworks (i.e., cries) because of an emotional event."


See, Monkey.  All is well in the world... and you've already found your zen again... Right...

Moving right along.

I have landed on this square once since the Big Game Shake Up, so the following location multiplier applies:

Second finish:
0 to 100 pages: $3.00
101 to 200 pages: $6.00
201 to 400 pages: $9.00
401 to 800 pages: $15.00
over 801 pages: $30.00

This is one of those game spaces where there is a part of the task that is hard to determine simply based on the book's title, summary, or even book cover--the part about someone turning on the water works.  I guess, unless the book gives you a definitive about someone going through an emotional event that would merit tears.

So I've been using the other part of the game square task, water on the cover, to make my selection.

As much as I was hoping I could get myself another lucky roll and start reading another physical book for COYER Summer Reading List readathon this week, that just didn't happen.  None of the paperbacks I've chosen to put on my reading list have water on the cover.

Ah well.

Fortunately there is one book on my COYER list, though not a physical book, that I can read for this game space.  It just won't count towards the readathon, unfortunately.  But I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, and it has shown up a few times as a possibility on some of my other BLopoly rolls.  So I probably should just get to it.


Heat Wave is an anthology with the following titles of novellas included:  Rex on the Beach by Stephanie Bond, Getting Into Trouble by Leslie Kelly, and Shaken and Stirred by Heidi Betts.  Combined, these novellas total 320 pages of book, Kindle version.  With the location multiplier in place, this book will be worth $9.00, so I will at least make back a bit of money after giving away $5.00.

Free Friday #7:

Once again, I'm going to post my Free Friday selection a day early, since I already have a book chosen for this last Free Friday of BLopoly.  Since COYER is still ongoing, I'm going to pick the next Steele Street book, which I DO have until the end of Sunday to finish if I want it to count towards the COYER July readathon (read physical books only).  And well, I have until Monday to finish if I want it to count for BLopoly, of course.


Cutting Loose is the next book in the Steele Street series and is 405 pages, worth $10.00 upon completion.

Hopefully, I will be able to complete both books in time to cash in a final Bank for BLopoly.  If I'm lucky, I'll finish Heat Wave in time to roll one last time before BLopoly is officially over, though I'm not going to make myself any promises.  In all honesty, these might be the last two books I read for BLopoly... and I'm quite okay with that.

Current Bank:   $249



3.5 Stars
Thoughts: Midnight Crystal
Midnight Crystal - Jayne Castle

Midnight Crystal
by Jayne Castle
Book 7 of Harmony
-- Book 3 (final) of Dreamlight Trilogy



For many earthly centuries, a legendary curse has plagued the Winters family, stemming from the tumultuous founding of the Arcane Society.  But now, on the futuristic world of Harmony, the curse’s final mystery will be unraveled…

Adam Winters has enough responsibility as the new head of the local Ghost Hunter Guild without being saddled with the family curse.  He’s convinced his recent nightmares and hallucinations will lead to him becoming a psychic rogue—unless he can find a stolen relic and a woman who can read dreamlight.

Marlowe Jones rides into his life on a motorcycle and with a dust bunny at her side.  Though a descendant of the rival Arcane family, she’s just what Adam needs: a psychic private investigator and dreamlight reader extraordinaire.

Together, amid the glowing catacombs and steamy underground jungles of Harmony, Adam and Marlowe must break the curse, save the entire underworld—and fight a passion that could destroy them both…

As I had hoped, Midnight Crystal wrapped up the Dreamlight trilogy quite nicely without overdoing it with the repetitive 'Burning Lamp' and 'Winters Curse' legends.  There were a few repeats of similar dialogue and actions from the previous two Dreamlight books, but overall, Midnight Crystal proved to be a standalone, and a conclusive sequel to the Dreamlight trilogy.

As is usual for Jayne Castle (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz), we still employ a lot of the same devices for the romantic relationship and the standard main hero and heroine.  But as is also usual, I enjoyed myself enough not to get nit-picky about it.  Once again, new psychic skills and alien discoveries were employed as part of the book's background; and once again, we get to see the interesting world of Harmony, as well as how well JAK manages to connect it to her contemporary and historical series, Arcane Society.

But rather than hints here and there about a paranormal society from the 'Old World' on Earth, we make a big, distinctive connection by bringing in Marlowe Jones, the new boss of Jones & Jones, the paranormal private investigation company that works for the Arcane Society.  Even Adam Winters' appearance was more Arcane Society than Harmony, which really DID make the book feel more like part of the former series than the latter.

Castle's ability to somehow interweave the paranormal talents from Arcane Society with the newly developed alien psi talents on Harmony was actually handled quite well.  I would love to see more of these interconnections, but as the Arcane Society series draws to a close, I'm not sure how much more of Harmony series will include Arcane.

Nonetheless, back to Midnight Crystal...

The book is enjoyable, well-written, and fun.  I loved the characters, and even though this book mainly focused on Adam and Marlowe, I loved the potential that other side characters had.  The main conflict of the book wasn't all that interesting, as it progressed along the same lines as the previous two books in this trilogy.  The rest of the story felt like there might have been more than one main conflict, which also progressed along the same lines as the rest of the Harmony books that came previously.

What saves these books from being overly repetitive are the new developments in the world and the story line.  But otherwise, the romances are always the same, the general book outline is typically standard, and everything is a little predictable.

But nonetheless, I always enjoy myself.

One thing that stood out, though, was Marlowe's assertion that Jones & Jones was no longer a unique, stand alone paranormal private investigating agency.  With the development of paranormal and psi abilities in Harmony, the idea of psychic ability became a normal part of everyday life.  And so any old paranormal private investigator would promptly become just any old regular private investigator.  And even while Jones & Jones still gets most of its work from the Arcane Society, they are now in a greater competitive scope with many other private investigators who can do the same kind of work that Jones & Jones can do.

I thought that that was a nice touch, considering how secretive the agency had to be throughout the historical and contemporary time lines.

Meanwhile, I never tire of Castle's tendency to also insert some dust bunny moments that just make me feel all smiley and fuzzy.  Gibson wasn't really all that unique when it comes to dust bunnies, but he was still a wonderful addition--I can still picture the scene at the beginning of the book where Marlowe finds him a nice piece of deadwood to use as a surfboard in one of the alien underground jungle pools.



Free Friday #6:

Page Count:  371
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $233






Booklikes-opoly | Roll #32!
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Roll #31 took me to Main Street 10, a square I've only landed on once before prior to the Big Game Shake Up (see above link).  For this square, I read Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis, which is part of the Lucky Harbor series, a contemporary romance set in the small Washington state town of Lucky Harbor, where everyone knows everyone's business, especially if you get caught doing personal business by the town's Facebook page keeper, Lucille... who has now also learned how to Twitter.

Always on My Mind is 318 pages, worth $6.00.


This book felt overly complicated.  It has all the wit and shine that Shalvis typically infuses into her stories and her characters... and yet I still found Leah and Jack overly complicated.  Mainly because I had no idea what either of them wanted from each other throughout the entire book.  Somehow, I feel like if they'd quit talking around each other, or if they'd quit trying to read each other's minds, thus jumping to conclusions, their relationship would have progressed just a little more smoothly.

But then we probably wouldn't have had a story 300 pages long.


Meanwhile, I also finished reading my Free Friday read from 7/21, Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle, earning another $6.00 for the 371 page book.  Another great, entertaining read from Jayne Castle, and I'm closer to finishing the series.

A review for both books will be posted soon.

That brings us to Roll #32:


Because I finished reading Always on My Mind at work, I whipped out my phone and went ahead and rolled.  I got a 5, which brought me to Luxury Tax, which says:  "Read a book where someone gets married, with jewelry on the cover, or where any character is a millionaire/billionaire!"


I'm not sure what new pose Monkey is going for here, but, hey, as long as everyone looks happy!  Of course, I would be happier if my mascot monkey would quit covering up my board so much.

I have landed on Luxury Tax once before, after the Big Game Shake Up took place.  Being that, this will be a second finish, and so the following location multiplier applies:

Second finish:
0 to 100 pages: $3.00
101 to 200 pages: $6.00
201 to 400 pages: $9.00
401 to 800 pages: $15.00
over 801 pages: $30.00

Meanwhile, because I was at work when I landed on this game space, I didn't have all of my handy-dandy book list of possible books for each square available.  So I started looking at books that I'd been meaning to read, such as the Tremaine Traditions books by Kylie Brant, or some such...

But it occurred to me that one of the books that I really, really want to read (for more reasons than one) managed to fit this game space wonderfully, as well as count towards another challenge.  And I got super excited, but this works out, oh so great!


I'd been meaning to read On the Loose by Tara Janzen, both for my Personal Series Challenge, and also for COYER Summer Reading List.  And as it just so happens to be the July readathon of the "read physical books only" persuasion, I was going to go ahead and squeeze this book in for the week, BLopoly or no BLopoly.

Of course, being a BLopoly candidate is absolutely better!  So when I recalled that the main heroine, Honoria "Honey" York-Lytton had shown up in the previous Steele Street book, introduced as a rich socialite, who readily dropped a quarter of a million dollars into an orphanage where her sister works and resides as a nun, I figured that she has to be a millionaire of some sort, maybe an heiress to whatever trust fund her parents will have put together for her.

I've already started reading some of the book while I was at work, and the emphasis on her wealth and family lineage is evident.  Some Paris Hilton references are made, and she's referred to as a socialite a few times, as well as how most people don't question her hopping from one country to another at the drop of a dime.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and deduce that Honey comes from money--lots of it.

On the Loose by Tara Janzen is the seventh Steele Street series book, and my paperback copy is 403 pages long.  According the "Second Finish" location multiplier, when I finish this book, I will be increasing my Bank by $15.00.

Not a bad deal at all!  And to think that I had been contemplating buying another roll to see where I'd end up.

Current Bank:   $239



3.5 Stars
Quick Thoughts: The Pretender
The Pretender (Liar's Club, #1) - Celeste Bradley

The Pretender
by Celeste Bradley
Book 1 of The Liar's Club



Rule #1: Never fall in love.

She had a secret she'd do anything to hide.
Agatha Cunnington, a headstrong beauty from the country, has come to London in search of her missing brother James.  The only clue she has is a cryptic letter signed The Griffin.  Agatha decides to disguise herself as a respectable married woman so that she can go about the city unnoticed.  But for her charade to work she needs a suitable "husband," preferably someone tall, elegant, and rakish—someone like Simon Montague Raines.

He had a secret he'd do anything to hide.
Simon Montague Raines, also known as The Magician, is a member of The Liar's Club, a renegade group of rogues and thieves in the service of the Crown.  When someone begins murdering members of the undercover cabal one by one, Simon is given the mission to bring in The Griffin, one of his comrades who is suspected of betraying his brothers.  Simon goes undercover and infiltrates the home of "Mrs." Agatha Applequist who he believes is the Griffin's mistress.  Before Simon knows what's happened, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to Agatha's soft, feminine charms--and he is tempted beyond reason to break the first rule of The Liar's Club: Never fall in love.

The Pretender started off really rocky, and I'll have to admit that there were moments in the beginning that I thought I'd end up frustrated with the book.  Our couple, as is typical of most romance novels, move from initial surprise meeting to insta-lust so quickly that I sort of got whiplash.  And then the lust continued to dominate most of their interactions and conversations and thoughts for a time.

Needless to say, I was definitely feeling a bit irritated with it.

But then, I can't quite pinpoint when, the story started getting interesting when things began to balance out.  Agatha started working with Simon in a strange little spy and investigation partnership rather than just issuing him his orders.  Simon started taking Agatha's abilities a little more seriously and the two sort of, unofficially accepted their strange partnership.

It was only all the more intriguing that Simon had false impressions about Agatha, and that Agatha was working under false impressions of Simon.

And while I would have loved for this weird tango of deceit and secrets to continue, I have to admit that the reveals and the twists in the middle of the book worked out quite well.  Nothing else seemed to change between the two save for a better understanding of each others' roles.

And as I was fully invested in both character's stories by then, I didn't care to nitpick too much more about the book as a whole.  Though I must admit that there were some moments (such as Agatha's multiple attempts to seduce Simon) that actually came out more comical, even in spite of the more serious tone of her own thought processes.  In creating these scenes however, I actually came to admire some of the more inelegant behaviors and actions of our two main characters (the scene where Agatha is unceremoniously thrust out of Simon's room in the nude is quite unforgettable, as I think about her having to make a stumbling sprint back to her own bedroom to avoid awkward discovery).

On a side note, Simon's attempts at evading seduction (a la the aforementioned scene where he extricates Agatha from his immediate quarters) were commendable.  But really, with Agatha's head-strong determination, the poor guy really didn't have a chance in the world of resistance.

I think this is what sort of made the book a bit more enticing to me--not the seduction process, no.  The characters were unique and interesting in their own ways, but their actions and antics were quite entertaining to follow.  Well, okay, it was really Agatha's antics I really enjoyed the most, what with her managing to make so much headway into ferreting out secrets and investigating her brother's disappearance within days, while Simon admits that it had taken him and his men much longer to even come up with some inkling of what might have happened to James Cunnington.

Agatha was a study in contradictions, really.  She believes herself to be ordinary and not a beauty.  But during her investigations, she tactfully uses her larger than average bosom size (a not so ordinary trait) to extract information from many of the salivating lords and gentlemen she interacts with.  She's written as a character who doesn't really have a deceitful bone in her body... and yet all of her behaviors are contradictory because she begins the book as a liar who creates a fake marriage and husband as part of her investigation strategy.

And yet, she's a readily likable character.  In contrast, Simon was rather ordinary and standard for a romance novel.

Other characters in The Pretender were also wonderfully crafted as well, and I can't wait to see if any of them play a role in following books.

Meanwhile, there were a few things about this book that didn't quite work out for me, thus the rather mediocre to blah rating.  But I can't deny that I enjoyed myself enough to want to continue on with the series.

The Pretender isn't the best book in the world, and definitely didn't start off all that well.  Others who would expect a great book within the first few chapters might get impatient, but I'm quite satisfied that it felt like our author seemed to find a direction and better footing in her writing process as the book itself progressed.  Though, to be honest, I can't help but note that the book DOES seem to feel like it could have been two, or maybe even three, different anecdotes when you get to the second half, even while the ending manages to tie things together well enough.



Roll #30:  "Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in 'Tesla'."

Authors first and last name = Celeste Bradley

Page Count:  384
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $227.00



24in48 July 2017 Readathon: Wrap Up


And That's a Wrap!!


Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

Things didn't work out for me for this readathon as well as I would have liked.  Yes, Saturday was a rather productive day, but mainly in the non-reading sector.  I spent time just hanging out with the family, with my brother being back in town.  It was nice, and I DID get a little bit of read done during random moments of free time.

Then I slept my Sunday morning away, having gotten very little sleep the previous day, and DID manage to get a bit more reading done.

During my last update, I'd calculated a rough total of 5 hours of reading.  But after that, I sort of lost track of how much time I spent reading.  I can recall taking about 2 hours, maybe 3 hours, to reach about half point into Midnight Crystal, then passing out again for a few hours.  Then I spent another 2 hours finishing the rest of the book--some random moments there and there that would most likely add up to 2 hours, that is.

So, in total, I barely glanced the underside of 10 hours of reading.

Nonetheless, I DID finish two books, despite The Pretender being more like half a book, and despite the fact that I had already gotten about 14 pages into Midnight Crysal.  However, since I also started reading Always on My Mind, about 14 pages in, I'm going to say that I've sort of reached my goal for this weekend.

I read one and half books!  I'm fine with that accomplishment.  Though without the interference of family socializing, I'm almost sure I would have been able to finish one more book.



Books Read



Still To Read



COYER Summer Reading List | July Readathon!
COYER is a reading challenge hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading, Berls @ Fantasy is more fun, and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
COYER stands for "Clean out your e-reads."  And typically the goal is to read from all the freebies or low priced books you've collected in the past on your e-readers.

But for this summer duration of June 17th to September 8th, our hosts are throwing out the normal rules!

Click on this link to sign up or read about COYER Summer 2017.
My COYER Summer Reading List summary page.

For those of us participating in the Summer Reading List part of this summer's COYER Challenge, our hosts have announced three different readathons for each month of the challenge:


  • Read-a-thon Dates are
    • June 25th – July 2nd ~ read only ebooks
    • July 23rd to July 30th ~ read only physical books
    • August 20th to August 27th ~ read only audio and ebooks

In anticipation of this readathon, I chose to add five physical books to my COYER Summer Reading List after finishing my first five books from the original list.  The decision was made based on the fact that I really just wanted to try and finish reading the last five Steele Street books I have left to finish reading.  I acquired the last of the eleven book series at the beginning of this year and have just been looking for a chance to read them.


Of course, Booklikes-opoly is still ongoing, so, once again, I may not be able to focus solely on this readathon, but will only count towards the thon, the physical books from my current reading list.  And hopefully I'll make some good progress.

My attention has already been scattered today.  As the first day of the thon, I'd hoped to be able to start one of the above books, but it looks like I will have to give it some time.  Currently I'm still in the midst of reading books for BLopoly, both of which are great books and should be easy reads, so hopefully I'll be able to break into my reading list again.



Ani's COYER Summer Reading List

See Also: COYER Summer Reading List @ GR

  1. Going Rogue by Robin Benway
  2. Secret Agent Secretary by Melissa Cutler -- 6/29/2017
  3. Hot on the Hunt by Melissa Cutler -- 7/8/2017
  4. Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder
  5. Secrets by Cynthia Eden
  6. Suspicions by Cynthia Eden
  7. The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox -- 6/25/2017
  8. Hot Mess by Lynn Raye Harris
  9. Hot Package by Lynn Raye Harris
  10. SEAL's Honor by Elle James
  11. On the Loose by Tara Janzen
  12. Cutting Loose by Tara Janzen
  13. The Mysterious Twin by Leona Karr -- 6/23/2017
  14. Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly
  15. Pushing the Lines by Kimberly Kincaid -- 6/27/2017
  16. Skin Deep by Kimberly Kincaid
  17. Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh
  18. Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell -- 7/9/2017
  19. The First Victim by J.B. Lynn
  20. Thicker Than Water by Maggie Shayne
  21. The Littlest Cowboy by Maggie Shayne
  22. The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber -- DNF'd on 7/20/2017
  23. Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
  24. Heat Wave anthology - Stephanie Bond, Heidi Betts, Leslie Kelly
  25. That's Amore anthology - Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, Leslie Kelly
  26. Bare Essentials duo-story anthology - Jill Shalvis, Leslie Kelly
  27. Night Driving by Lori Wilde
  28. Smooth Sailing by Lori Wilde
  29. Crash Landing by Lori Wilde
  30. Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates


The Add Five After Reading Five List:

(Added on 7/8/2017)

  1. Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen
  2. Breaking Loose by Tara Janzen
  3. Loose Ends by Tara Janzen
  4. Ghost Horse by Patricia Rosemoor
  5. Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

Well... Happy Reading, everyone!!



3.5 Stars
Quick Thoughts: Burning Lamp
Burning Lamp (Arcane Society, #8) - Amanda Quick

Burning Lamp
by Amanda Quick
Book 8 of Arcane Society
-- Book 2 of Dreamlight Trilogy



The Arcane Society was born in turmoil when the friendship of its two founders evolved into a fierce rivalry.  Sylvester Jones and Nicholas Winters each sought to enhance their individual psychic talents.  Winters' efforts led to the creation of a device of unknown powers called the Burning Lamp.  Each generation the Winters man who inherits it is destined to develop multiple talents - and the curse of madness.

Plagued by hallucinations and nightmares, notorious crime lord Griffin Winters is convinced he has been struck with the Winters Curse.  And the instincts that have helped him survive the streets and rise to power are now drawing him toward Adelaide Pyne, the bothersome social reformer.  But even as he arranges a meeting with the mysterious woman, he has no idea how closely their fates are bound, for Adelaide holds the Burning Lamp in her possession.

A dreamlight reader, Adelaide should be able to manipulate the Lamp's light to save both Griffin's sanity and his life.  But their dangerous psychical experiment makes them the target of forces both inside and outside of the Arcane Society.  And though desire strengthens their power their different lives will keep them apart - if death doesn't take them together.

I hate to admit this, since I DID enjoy Burning Lamp and found it a nice, easy, breezy read, witticisms and interesting characters included, but it didn't escape my notice that Burning Lamp was just a pretty repetition of Fired Up, but in an historical setting.  Dialogue and actions and some of the scenes were very similar, and while I applaud Amanda Quick's smooth connections between contemporary and historical (as well as all that foreshadowing that we already know occurs since the contemporary time line came first), it just wasn't as memorable an experience as I would have liked given that Fired Up came first.

Not the entire book is the same, of course.  I do love the interactions between all of our characters, Adelaide and Griffin, Mrs. Trevelyan and Delbert, and even with Jed and Leggert, and the inclusion of Caleb and Lucinda Jones.

Burning Lamp is a nice bridging connection between the first book in the Dreamlight trilogy, and the last, but I can't help but realize that not much occurs in this book that we don't already know about.  Very little forward progress is made, and it makes me feel that the next and last book in this sub-trilogy will really need to step it up in order to bring the story arc of the 'Winters Curse' and the 'Burning Lamp' to a close.

Frankly, given my love for the Harmony series, obviously my hopes are pretty high; although even if things don't turn out the way I want, I'll still enjoy myself.  Seeing as how Midnight Crystal will involve not only the cursed Winters man, but also a dreamlight reader who's last name is Jones, I'm feeling that a lot of things will come full circle into a nice wrap up.  After all, the Winters and the Jones are supposed to be enemies, according to legend.

All else fails, Harmony books always play up the dust bunnies to make everyone happy--I'm not above swooning over dust bunnies if the book itself doesn't entirely entice me.




Roll #29:
Book takes place in England (counts as an island).

Page Count:  328
Cash Award:  +$9.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $219.00













24in48 July 2017 Readathon: Hour Sixteen Update


The evening update... that was supposed to be a noon update...

Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

As I suspected, family time definitely cuts into reading time.  No matter--I've still got a pretty good amount of time to get things read.  In the meantime, we played video games and had a lunchtime sangria.


Green Apple Moscato Sangria @ Olive Garden

With the big chunk of reading after midnight, then a small amount of reading here and there, I managed to read for approximately five hours.  Not that I'm really keeping track all that well, though.

It was a pretty great morning overall.



Books Read


The Pretender by Celeste Bradley | 455 pages
-- 223 pages read in 4 hours

So there's half a book down towards my goal of "one and a half to two books."  As I had only read a scant couple chapters from Midnight Crystal before this thon started, I'd love to count it as a full book, though, to be fair, I'm just going to hope that I get around to starting a new book before the weekend is over.

Being that I have the weekend free of work obligations, I was able to start reading at midnight--the truth is, I spent most of the evening and about thirty minutes prior to midnight reading The Pretender.  Then I passed out in bed three hours into the thon, woke up three hours later, and used one more hour to finish the rest of the book.  I'm feeling quite accomplished already!



Currently Reading


Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle | 371 pages
-- 14 pages read in 30 minutes

I had no illusions that I would finish Midnight Crystal before my first thon update.  But I will definitely strive to finish the book before the end of the day, socializing with family be damned!

Well, I can't exactly ignore everyone, so I could only snatch a bit of reading here and there, on top of some other blogging obligations.  I'm not really keeping time, but I'm trying to loosely, sort of, maybe keep track of how much time I'm spending reading.  Hard to actually keep track completely when you're expected to play at socializing.



Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis | 318 pages
-- 14 pages read in 30 minutes

I just wanted to get a small sample of this book before I flipped back to Midnight Crystal.  And, yeah, with no other distractions, I suppose I could get both books read before the weekend is over.

There will be more socializing, but I'm predicting at least another three hours of reading before I have to go out and make nice.  Hopefully.


Booklikes-opoly | Roll #31!
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Being that this weekend is the 24in48 Readathon, I'm hoping to get a lot of reading in.  Being that I have the weekend off to spend time reading, I'm quite ecstatic!

Roll #30 brought me to a new to me game space, Electric Company, in which I chose to read a book where the author's first and last name contained all the letters in 'Tesla.'  The book I chose was The Pretender by Celeste Bradley, which is counted at 384 pages (Kindle version), even though my Scribd e-book version for some reason counted 455 pages--it certainly felt like it was over 400 pages long.  But since all the sources I can find place The Pretender's page count within the 300s range, I will go with the Kindle version of 384, for a $6.00 cash award--no location multiplier in play.


The Pretender had a rocky start, but as the book progressed, I'm delighted, and pleasantly surprised, to find that I was quite entertained.  A review will be posted soon.


Meanwhile, I am still reading Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle as my most recent Free Friday read.  I have no doubts that I will actually finish reading this book quite quickly, and will enjoy it, unlike the last Free Friday read that didn't quite make it and successfully became my very first DNF for the year.

Here is my Roll #31:

I rolled a 6 and landed on Main Street 10--a square I've landed on before, but previous to the Big Game Shake Up.  So there will be no location multiplier applied this round.  Darn!


With the clearing of the board, Magnetic Monkey has gone back into his relaxed mode.  We're all probably just glad that we managed to slip past the 'Go to Jail' space.

I would have liked to land on a space that could have gotten me started on the Steele Street books, but since the next book in this series takes place outside of the U.S. of A., I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it count... unless our main characters returned to the small town in Colorado that the Steele Street boys are based out of, but even then, it might be pushing it since I have a feeling that setting would only be about a chapter or two.

No, I'll play by the rules rather than trying to manipulate them in my favor... *sigh*

And, of course, since I'm stubborn as heck, I've decided to read a book that won't satisfy my COYER challenge--even though I've been determined to do as much since the challenge only lasts until September.  Instead, I'll be reading the next book in Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series.  At the very least, it will put me closer to finishing the series for my own Personal Series Challenge, and it also counts towards the year-long Author Love Challenge.

And also, I just want to read it because it's a library book I checked out on a whim while I was there and should really get it read so I can get it turned in.


Jill Shalvis is usually my go to for any and all books that take place in a small town in the U.S.A., since most of her contemporaries are set in small towns.  Always on My Mind is set in a small Washington state town called Lucky Harbor, and is set at 318 pages, paperback, giving me a +$6.00 cash award.

Current Bank:   $227



Read-a-thon: 24in48 July 2017 Starts Now!

At least for me it starts right now... er, well, in about thirty minutes, but who's counting?


Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

24in48 overlaps one day with COYER's Summer Reading List readathon for reading physical books only off of our Reading Lists--starts on July 23rd and ends on July 30th.  I promise I won't start either readathon until the actual day/time (24in48 in about thirty minutes; COYER in about 24 hours).

Currently I'm reading...


And while I know I don't have much of a goal for 24in48, I DO hope to get around to reading the next book in the Steele Street series, mainly for COYER's readathon, once again, starting on Sunday.  Meanwhile, I have family in town this weekend, so may not really get much time to read.  But if I do, I'd like to continue knocking off books from my COYER Summer Reading List, assuming I finish my Booklikes-opoly books first.

Obviously, I'm not going to get to read all of these books, and mainly I want to make sure I finish the above two books, especially The Pretender so I can roll again for Booklikes-opoly.  So, I'm also kind of projecting for the COYER readathon as well.

Readathon Hopefuls:


What's everyone else reading this weekend?



DNF Rambling: The Law of Attraction
The Law of Attraction - N.M.  Silber

The Law of Attraction
by N.M. Silber
Book 1 of Lawyers in Love

Rating:  DNF'd at 26% || No Rating



Once upon a time two lawyers fell in love across a courtroom...

Gabrielle Ginsberg was a public defender with plenty of nerve, and Braden Pierce was an assistant district attorney with a whole lot of swagger.  Gabrielle wanted Braden and Braden wanted Gabrielle.

And Cameron wanted Gabrielle.
And Marla wanted Braden.
And Cole wanted Gabrielle.
And Mrs. Mason wanted Braden.

And an anonymous letter writer wanted to keep Gabrielle and Braden apart.

Together Gabrielle and Braden discovered many important things, like which doors at the courthouse actually locked, and that desks could be useful for more than writing.  They also found out that the path of love was not always smooth, and it was sometimes tread upon by some really wacky people, like a confused fanny grabber, an eighty-two year old pothead, and a gentleman who threw a wine and cheese party in his pants.  Could true love overcome a lack of privacy, interference by jealous rivals, and the insanity of the criminal court system?

I really tried to make myself finish this book.  It's only 242 pages, a fairly bite-sized novel, which would have only taken me approximately 4 to 5 hours to complete.  Except that that would have been about 4 to 5 hours too long, and 200 pages too many.  I might have sighed and rolled my eyes a few times before finally throwing in the towel after giving the book another hour of reading time and still finding myself frustrated.  And to be totally honest, I have several other books I'm more interested in reading to waste anymore time on this one.

This book was just ridiculously tedious, boring, and overly juvenile.  For a bunch of up and coming, hotshot lawyers in their mid-to-late twenties, our main couple and their friends all behaved like a squealy gaggle of teenagers.  The squealy kind who sit around gushing about the new girlfriend or the new boyfriend.  I'm not trying to stereotype or anything, but to be totally honest, grown men don't talk to each other the way Braden, Mark, and Adam do; and neither do grown women, if we really want to be honest with ourselves.

When in the universe of ever has one bro commented to another bro, that third bro's new relationship of two days is "strangely adorable"?

And then, whenever Gabrielle talked about Braden, I kept picturing that one girl in high school who got all excited because her crush happened to walk by and say "hi" to her, or picked up her pencil and handed it back to her with a dimply smile.  She got so super gushy about the fact that she flirted with Braden... and "OMG!" he flirted back!

Maybe I'm just irritated, but this book just didn't do it for me, and pulling the DNF trigger will probably save it from getting a one star review in the long run.

I'll admit that the first chapter was pretty cute, with the silly court cases and Gabrielle's strange defensive arguments.  But after that, the book just started rolling downhill.  I just couldn't make myself continue on.  I couldn't get past the squealiness of it all.  And while this might seem a bit over-extreme, I couldn't get past Gabrielle's use of the word 'tummy,' three times within one chapter, to describe her state of nervousness around Braden.

And even if I could have gotten past the squealiness, I'm not sure I could have unburied myself from all the details.  All the painstakingly, unnecessary details of every part of a first date conversation that sounded awfully similar to a character biography description.  All the tedious, overly wordy details about every action and every back story and every little step of Gabrielle's day.  All the extra, tangential details to describe the very mundane, banal evening of a date and a subsequent group get together, none of which was even remotely interesting.

Then there was the boob scene.  The boob scene?!  I swear, I might have seen that scene in a high school flick or something, it was so juvenile.  "Could you just show me your boobies before the guys get here?  Please?  And let me touch them?"  Well, he didn't actually say those words in the book, but he might have done so in my head with the way the scene was written.


Maybe this book is just not my cuppa, and maybe I'm just a bit far removed from my mid-to-late twenties.  Except... that I have read books about characters in their mid-to-late twenties, and they don't act like this.  In fact, I've read books about teenagers who don't act like this.

Finally, the book tries really hard to be witty and cute.  It's not really, but points for effort, I guess.

Maybe this book gets better.  Maybe it gets worse.  Some other reviews I happened to skim mentions that the second half loses appeal.  I'm not sticking around to find out.  I've got other books I'd rather be reading.

My first DNF of the year 2017.  I don't like to DNF, but sometimes it just has to happen.



Free Friday #5:

Page Count:  DNF'd at 26% (approx. 63 pages)
Cash Award:  +$2.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $221.00






3.5 Stars
Thoughts: Northern Lights
Northern Lights - Nora Roberts

Northern Lights
by Nora Roberts



Lunacy, Alaska--population 506--a colorful, compelling novel about two lonely souls who find love--and redemption.

Lunacy is Nate Burke's last chance.  As a Baltimore cop, he watched his partner die--and the guilt still haunts him.  Maybe serving as chief of police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by midafternoon and temperatures plunge to zero and below, will bring some kind of solace.  It isn't as if he had anywhere else to go.

Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose--and pulling apart two brothers who are beating each other silly over a disagreement about John Wayne--Nate's first weeks on the job are relatively quiet.  But as he wonders whether this was all a big mistake, an unexpected kiss on New Year's Eve under the brilliant northern lights of the Alaska sky lifts his spirit--and convinces him to stay just a little longer.

Meg Galloway, born and raised here, is used to being alone.  She was still a young girl when her father disappeared, and she's learned to be independent, flying her small plane, living on the outskirts with just her huskies for company.  But after her New Year's kiss with the chief of police, she allows herself to give in to passion.  She doesn't want commitment--yet there's something about Nate's sad eyes that gets under her skin, and warms her frozen heart.

And now, things in Lunacy are heating up.  Because years ago, on one of the majestic mountains that shadow the town, a crime occurred that is unsolved to this day--and Nate suspects that a killer still walks the snowy streets.  His investigation will bring out the secrets and suspicions that lurk beneath the placid suface--as well as the big-city survival instincts that made him a cop in the first place.  And it will threaten the new life, and the new love, that he has finally found for himself.

Even though it took about 30% for the main conflict and excitement to begin, this book was actually a lot of fun.  On a side note, I have a thing for wintry settings, especially those with a possible crime thriller plot.  And admittedly, despite the rather banal, everyday happenings of our newest Lunacy Chief of Police, I really, really enjoyed Northern Lights.

True to form, there were still a lot of things about this book that didn't work for me, but oddly enough, the little snippets of journal, the two or three "Police Log" entries in the town's only newpaper, and even some of the really subtle, but much appreciated humor made this book shine amidst all the crazy.  Lunacy, Alaska is very aptly named, and all the strange hijinks of the small town people made this extremely long book very worthwhile.

I also found the spin on the name 'Lunacy' for different aspects of the town kind of endearing.  The residents refer to themselves as 'Lunatics,' the newspaper is named 'The Lunatic,' and so on.

I would have liked for the crime thriller portion of the book to be a bit more exciting, if I were to be totally honest.  And I would have liked for Meg to be a bit less bitchy, and for Nate to be a bit less neanderthal.  But all-in-all, between the atmosphere and all the unique, colorful characters, I found myself quite immersed in the day-to-day goings on of the Lunatics, especially as seen from a fresh set of eyes, a man from the Lower 48, who finds everything amusing, strange, and kind of 'Twilight Zone' to boot.

The murder mystery that finally got presented at the 30% mark was quite twisty-turny, and I found myself analyzing each and every possible suspect alongside Nate.  It was actually quite unpredictable, but at the same time, not so surprising when the main culprit was finally revealed.  The ending, on the other hand, was a little too daintily packaged, but there's a Happily Ever After, and the rest of the book was entertaining enough, so I'm not really complaining too much.

On a side note, I've yet to encounter a Nora Roberts romance that I've actually liked.  I have a bone to pick with almost every one of them--with most of the Nora Roberts heroes being incredibly pushy and acting like cavemen; or the heroines being more bitchy and stupidly stubborn than I would like.

However, in truth, if I were to choose one Roberts hero who comes close to being a favorite, though, I might choose Nate Burke.  He's got a tragic history, a broody persona, but all-in-all he's quite down-to-earth, and takes steps to help himself climb back out of his own black hole.  I love his spunk and how well he handles the irrational actions and behavior of the people of Lunacy, especially when they look for reasons to hate him for being an Outsider appointed as their Chief of Police.

The one thing I DON'T like his is penchant for shoving Meg behind him when everyone and their mothers know that she can take care of herself just fine.  Granted, she's got a reckless streak about her, and she might be bitchy and stubborn as heck, but I found it a little insulting that, when faced with a wilderness of danger, his first instinct was to tell Meg to hide.  Yes, maybe in a less politically correct world, this might seem heroic and swoon-worthy.  But being that Meg has had much more experience living in the outskirts of Lunacy, Alaska, facing down tough flights, harsh winters, and wandering wildlife, you'd think he'd trust her instincts more than his own need to protect.

Anyway, before I jump on top of another soapbox, I should probably just bring this piece to a close.

Northern Lights was pretty entertaining, and no one is more surprised than I am to find how much I enjoyed reading a Romantic Suspense that felt more like a banal Contemporary Romance.  It wouldn't be the first time, and probably won't be the last.  But this time, I'm pleasantly surprised to admit that I hadn't even worried that the 'suspense' part of this Romantic Suspense felt a little unbalanced.

Nora Roberts, you've done it again.  Another conflicting feel to another well written novel.




Roll #29:
Author was born pre-1955.

Page Count:  562
Cash Award:  +$15.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $210.00













Booklikes-opoly | Roll #30! and Free Friday #6!
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Seems like I was still in a Nora Roberts mood.  For Roll #29, I managed to roll one set of doubles and ended up with two books.


The first square I landed on was Main Street 11, where I chose to read a book written by an author born prior to 1955, Northern Lights by Nora Roberts.  The book was a whopping 562 pages, hard cover, so felt like a monster of a tome to finish--took me a few days, even.  Because I'd landed on this square once already since the Big Game Shake Up, I earned $15.00 for completing this book and task.


The next square I landed on was New Orleans Square 21.  I had decided to read Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick, a book that takes place in England, which counts as an island.  Once again, this is a square I've landed on before after the Big Game Shake Up came into effect.  Being 328 pages, I earned $9.00 for completing this book.

Reviews for both books will be coming soon.


Meanwhile, I'm still reading my Free Friday #5, The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber, a short contemporary romance... that just seems to be taking some time because I'm not really that interested in this book.  In fact, the beginning felt so annoyingly tacky and juvenile that I had to remind myself that this book is in the New Adult target.  And to be honest, I've read few New Adult books and have enjoyed even fewer.

It's cute, but I can't help myself comparing it to Julie James, which is probably not a good idea.

I'm hoping to at least finish this book before Friday rolls around so I can pick up my next Free Friday read.  If not by Thursday, hopefully I'll finish it early enough on Friday that I can start in on my next Free Friday book (more on that later)

Roll #30:


I rolled a 7 and landed on Free Parking, which states:  "Roll the dice.  Odd number sends you to the waterworks, even number sends you to the electric company, doubles sends you to the luxury tax."


... Monkey?

Well, anyway...


... so I rolled once more, getting a 6, which takes me to Electric Company:  "Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in 'Tesla'."


Oh.  There you are, Monkey?  Dramatic much?  And Penni, you're kind of blocking my Teddy Bear game piece... but, "Hi!"

I think this is the first time ever that I've landed on this game space since the BLopoly started.  It's the first time I've landed on Free Parking as well--each time I've come across either Water Works or Luxury tax was because an actual counted roll move landed me there.

But anyway, since I've never landed on Electric Company before, pre-Big Game Shake Up or otherwise, no location multiplier will be applied.


I had wanted to read a book from my COYER list, but none of them fit, so I decided that I just needed to find something else altogether.  In truth, the only book on my entire COYER list that did fit was The Manhattan Encounter, but I already read it--had a character who was a scientist.

But anyway, I'd be lying if I said I had looked really hard to find a book.  Upon landing on this game space, the first book I thought of was The Pretender by Celeste Bradley--as we can see, this author's name fits the 'Tesla' criteria in that we can find all the letters of 'Tesla' in our author's first and last name.

And, honestly, I didn't really look that hard for another book to fit the other part of this game space, a character in STEM.  Because I think I already made my decision when I first put together a list of possible books to read for this game space.

So guess what I'll be reading?


The Pretender by Celeste Bradley is the first book in the Liar's Club series.  I'm loathe to begin another new series when I have so many others to finish... but whatever, I'm game; and super excited, because I've been so interested in this series since I first stumbled onto it that I'm actually kind of glad for an excuse to read it.

After a year of Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare, and Amanda Quick, hopefully this is another great, but the critics seem kind of conflicted.

The Pretender is 455 pages (Scribd e-book version), and since I have never landed on this square before, there are no location multipliers in play.  This book will be worth $10.00 upon completion.


The Scribd version of The Pretender that I will be reading gives me a count of 455 pages, but no matter where I've been looking, either on BL or GR or Amazon, The Pretender gives a page count of either 384, 388, or 385.  Since some e-books may not be accurate, I decided to go with the page count number that comes up the most instead of the Scribd e-book version.  So I will counting this book as 384 pages, for a $6.00 cash award, just to be fair about it.

Meanwhile, for the Free Friday Read #6:

I know, I know.  It's not Friday yet, and I still haven't finished my current Free Friday Read.  But The Law of Attraction is pretty bite-sized, and I have no doubt that I'll have it done, if not tonight (Thursday), then at least early on Friday morning.  Being so, I decided to just go ahead and pick my next Free Friday Read, since I'm too lazy to create a second BLopoly update for Friday.

And also because I already know what I want to read.


Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz) is the last book in the Dreamlight sub-trilogy of the Arcane Society/Harmony series.  Since I just finished up Burning Lamp, I'm jittery to move onto the next book so I can finish reading this trilogy, and was going to read it one way or another, whether or not it would end up counting for BLopoly.

Meanwhile, I'd been staring at the name Jayne Castle, thinking that it would have also fit the 'Tesla' game space criteria... but I didn't want to push my luck since Jayne Castle is really one of JAK's pen names, and I wasn't sure if it would count.  Upon further investigation (because I do things like that), I found that Castle is actually JAK's maiden name.

Nonetheless, I've made my decisions and I'm sticking to them.

Midnight Crystal is 371 pages, paperback version, which will be worth $6.00 upon completion (no location multipliers for Free Friday books).  I promise I won't start reading this book until I have finished The Law of Attraction.  And if, due to some strange reason, I don't even finish The Law of Attraction by tomorrow, I'll just shelve Midnight Crystal for another time.

Current Bank:   $219



In which Ani believes that Baby's head...













Is shaped like a lemon...




Have a good night everyone!!



3.5 Stars
Thoughts: River's End
River's End - Nora Roberts

River's End
by Nora Roberts



Olivia's parents were among Hollywood's golden couples…until the night a monster came and took her mother away forever.  A monster with the face of her father...

Sheltered from the truth, an older Olivia only dimly recalls her night of terror—but her recurring nightmares make her realize she must piece together the real story.  Assisted by Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who found her cowering in her closet so many years before, she may have her chance.  Noah wants to reconstruct the night that has become an infamous part of Hollywood history.  He also wants to help Olivia and heal the longing in her lonely heart.  But once the door to her past is opened, there's no telling what's waiting on the other side.  For somewhere, not too far away, the monster walks again...

First of all, I'm going to have to admit that the first chapter of the book bowled me over and I nearly cried with grief for Olivia as a child--finding her mother dead, seeing her father standing over the body with a bloody pair of scissors in his hands, running scared and hiding, and then being told that her mother was never coming home again...  I'm usually not one to make much of these scenes, having read a lot of crime thrillers with all of their bloody violence and tragic gore, but that was definitely an unforgettable moment, probably made all the more powerful because it came from the POV of a child.

Unfortunately, I feel like the rest of the whole ordeal (the next few chapters) got drawn out a bit much and I was ready to move onto Olivia as an adult.  I don't need the rest of the family, or even the detective's or his son's observations to know that this was a great tragedy, that poor Olivia will be living this nightmare for the rest of her life.  I pretty much deduced all of that with her terrible ordeal of stumbling upon the murder of her mother.

That little bit would have been just enough, but the notion was repetitively brought up within the first couple of chapters.

A second insight brings me to Nora Roberts and her books, in general.  I'm not an expert on Roberts.  In fact, before last year, I'd never read anything written by her.  I started with her Dark Witch trilogy, and to be totally honest, didn't really like it.  But then I read The Witness, and found that the entire tone and style of how that book was presented was just different than what I had gotten out of the Dark Witch trilogy.  And I was completely intrigued with Roberts.  So I continued picking up more of her books.

Nora Roberts, I feel, is a master at atmosphere and tone.  Each book I've read of hers, so far, has had a different kind of feel, evokes a whole different set of images and thoughts.  And ultimately makes it a little hard for me to figure out just how to review.

River's End is written well.  Very well.

So well, that I even almost forgot about a few little scenes, dialogue, and characters who frustrated me.  So well that I forgave some characters their few foibles because I ultimately enjoyed the whole book.

Roberts has a way with characters that manages to bring them to earth even after instilling some greater than perfect qualities into them.  Even while Olivia has a perfect memory, or a badass, independent personality with super survival skills in the mountains, she still managed to exhibit some wishy-washy behavior, as well as some unnecessary snap judgments that frustrated the heck out of me.

Meanwhile, Noah seems like the wonderful Mom and Pop's boy, who has a golden heart, an empathy for others, and a personality in a man worth chasing after.  But then he gets super pushy when it comes to Olivia, and to be honest, there was nothing I disliked about Noah except for his super pushiness in the romance department.  Truth be told, I winced a lot when it came to their more intimate, sexual relationship.  Because there are certain parts of their romance, specifically the first sex scene between them, that just doesn't sit well with me.  And made Noah lose a whole lot of his appeal, because I can't determine whether or not his actions were even morally kosher.

Story wise, I'd love to be upfront and talk about why I had a feeling there was a lot more to Olivia's mother's murder than the narrative gave away.  But I'm worried that I'll end up giving away the ultimate twist in the story, as a whole.  The twists and the turns about the underlying conflict pertaining to Olivia's father, however, was handled extremely well, so much so that I even started doubting my own thought process.  And then when the resolution rolled around, I was conflicted about how I felt about everything--because I'm not certain about whether I read too many crime thrillers and have picked up on predictability, in spite of the unpredictability, or if my mind is just twisted in certain ways.

Either way, I should probably stop here so I don't risk giving too much away.

On a side note, I loved Noah's interaction with just about every other character, but Olivia.  This book isn't exactly rife with romance, but what little there was didn't quite appeal to me.  And while Olivia is a very ideal heroine, I found I had a hard time really caring about her despite the book being mainly about her, from childhood onward.  She got really frustrating, at times; in fact, both of them did when it came to their romance.  But Olivia, more so, because her stubbornness was just way too extreme.

River's End, while not the best book in the world, continues to show me that Nora Roberts is definitely an author I will keep an eye on.




Roll #28:
Book title can spell 'River' = 'RIVER's End'.

Page Count:  447
Cash Award:  +$10.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $195.00