Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

It's Monday! What are you reading? | 2/25/2019
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 almost didn't make it (mainly because I forgot), but with an hour left of Monday, here's my 'It's Monday!' update!

With a new reading game starting up, I'm hoping to have more books read per week, maybe...  I won't push myself, but the need to roll a set of dice in order to receive a prompt for the next book I'm to read is quite strong.  So... yay for BookLikes Snakes and Ladders!



What I Read Last Week




What I'm Currently Reading




What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans On the Blog

With March coming up at the end of the week, I'm planning on starting the next Flat Book Society read, Furry Logic.  I've got the book in my possession and I'm ready to roll!  Meanwhile, with a new month comes a new set of books to read for Reading Assignment--Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld will be one of the next books to read for this challenge.  I'll be listening to the audio book version, narrated by Alan Cumming, and I'm totally looking forward to it!

There may or may not be updates along the way.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping to finish the last book of the Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy, and so a few more reviews will be on the way.

And just as well, we'll be seeing some more updates, because I'm sure to finish SEAL for Her Protection in time to roll at least once more before the end of the week for BookLikes Snakes and Ladders.



BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #2

Okay, so I changed my mind.  There WILL be a table... because I couldn't help myself.  It's a simple table, but it's a table nonetheless, because I like using tables now.

Meanwhile, since I got lucky and the book I was going to start reading anyway fit the square I landed on.  For square seven: "Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D." I read Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare.  Yay!



BookLikes Snakes and Ladders

My next roll was not so to my liking, landing me on Square 12: "Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z."


While I was hoping to get another coincidental "two birds with one stone" deal, that didn't happen.  I would have loved to be able to count the next Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy book, Ride the Fire, towards my square, but that's not going to work.  Of course, I could have probably just done so anyway and taken the "roll only one die" hit, but I'm stubborn... which doesn't account for the fact that now it'll probably take a couple extra days for me to roll again.

Meaning, I actually need to finish reading the Pamela Clare historical to count for February's Reading Assignment.  Of course, I could have just found myself another historical novel written by an author who's last name starts with the above listed letters... but I'm dead set on finishing the Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy.

So... SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler it is!  This book has been sitting on my Kindle for some time now and I'd been talking about needing guns and explosions in my reading life anyway.

So I decided that I will be reading these books in tandem and hopefully finish both in a timely enough manner to matter for anything.  After all, there's no urgency to roll again... really (except maybe my own excitement).  And after I finish Ride the Fire, I'll have a book I could retroactively claim for a future square with a prompt that fits, right?  Per the "holding a book in anticipation of landing on a specific square" Q&A?  Right?  =D

Because there are so many squares that Ride the Fire could fit with, and I'm stubborn enough to wait it out.



Currently Reading



Books Read Pending Square Selection

None yet.



My Progress

Dates for each dice roll corresponds with respective update post.
Book titles link to reviews if written.
Completed books' covers (read and used for squares) following table.


Date Dice Roll Square/Prompt Book Title / Author Fits Square?
1.  Author is a woman Sweet Release by Pamela Clare Yes
(2 + 4)
7.  Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D. Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare Yes
(2 + 3)
12.  Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z. SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler Yes




3 Stars
Series Review: Vanza
With This Ring - Amanda Quick I Thee Wed - Amanda Quick Wicked Widow - Amanda Quick Lie by Moonlight - Amanda Quick


by Amanda Quick
Book #1: With This Ring | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #2: I Thee Wed | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3: Wicked Widow | Rating:  2.5 Stars
Book #4: Lie by Moonlight | Rating:  4.0 Stars

Average Series Rating:  3.125 Stars

I find it hard to review a book series by Amanda Quick (or Jayne Ann Krentz, if you will) without ultimately clumping the entire series together into one post.  Mainly because the stories become so by rote that there's little to say about them outside of the typical admissions of enjoyment, entertainment, and fun had by all.


Leo Drake, the "Mad Monk of Monkcrest," is notoriously eccentric and unquestionably reclusive.  But he is also a noted antiquities expert, which is why Beatrice Poole has demanded his reluctant assistance.

The freethinking authoress of "horrid novels," Beatrice is searching for the Forbidden Rings of Aphrodite, a mythic treasure she suspects played a role in her uncle's death.  Beatrice finds Leo every bit as fascinating as one of the heroes in her novels--and she's convinced he's the only one who can help her.  But after only five minutes in her company, Leo is sure he's never met a woman more infuriating...and more likely to rescue him from boredom.

Yet the alliance may well prove to be the biggest mistake of their lives.  For a villain lurks in London, waiting for the pair to unearth the Forbidden Rings--knowing that when they do, that day will be their last....

I came across a short review of someone's who described this book as kind of ridiculous, yet highly enjoyable.  I'm in agreement.  Although not as highly enjoyable as other Amanda Quick books I've already read, this book DOES indeed contain the typical Amanda Quick charm... even if nothing really stood out.




It isn't easy making a living as a lady's companion when one possesses a sharp tongue and an original mind.  That's why Emma Greyson has gone through three such positions in six months. Her current post at a tiresome country house party has her bored to tears—until an extraordinary encounter with the legendary Edison Stokes leads to a secret position as his assistant.

Stokes is on a peculiar mission, searching for an anonymous thief who has stolen an ancient book of arcane potions.  He suspects his quarry is among the party's guests—and that the villain is looking for an intuitive woman on whom to test a certain elixir.  A woman just like Emma...

For Emma, the new post brings unexpected passion and chilling danger.  But when murder strikes, she realizes the awful truth.  Unless she and Edison devise a scheme to outwit a merciless killer, she could forever lose the man of her dreams—and even her very life....

It's hard to say how I felt about this one.  It was a bit more memorable, maybe, but I had a hard time liking the hero, because he was more jackass than the usual Amanda Quick hero.  The heroine was standard for Amanda Quick.  And I probably would have liked to see more from the secondary character partners-in-crime, so kind of enjoyed the grandmother's ultimate involvement nearing the end.

That's about all.




Madeline Deveridge is aware of the whispers behind her back, the rumors that she dispatched her husband to the next world and concealed her crime.  But she has a far more pressing problem than her reputation as the Wicked Widow.  It's impossible to believe that her late husband is haunting her and her aunt, but something odd is happening, and Madeline doesn't dare take chances.

Summoning the brilliant, reclusive Artemas Hunt, secret owner of London's favorite pleasure pavilions and master of arcane talents, she blackmails him into providing help.  As soon as the bargain is struck, Artemas and Madeline find their arrangement complicated by searing desire, and the frightening recognition that the ghost poses a very real danger.  Now they must plunge into a world of intrigue and ancient mysteries, where a calculating killer — and a tantalizing passion — will not be denied.

I gave this book in the series the lowest rating and I barely recall why.  I didn't really like it and found the main hero, Artemas to be even more jackass than the jackass of the previous book in this series.  But that's about all I remember.  Sad, isn't it?




While investigating a suspicious death, private inquiry agent Ambrose Wells finds himself on the grounds of Aldwick Castle---and in the midst of utter chaos.  The ramshackle castle is in flames--and a beautiful woman and four young girls are taking flight on horseback.  It turns out that the strong-minded Miss Concordia Glade and her four bright students are on the run from a notorious London crime lord who'll stop at nothing to destroy them.  Now, their only hope is Ambrose, a confirmed loner with more than his share of secrets--and more than his share of desire for the unconventional teacher.  And as Ambrose and Concordia risk everything to bring down a criminal mastermind, they will also be forced to battle something even greater: the steamy passion that threatens their hard-worn independence...

This final book in the Vanza series is on more familiar ground with me pertaining to Amanda Quick.  The hero is broody, but not a big jackass, as the previous two heroes were.  I even like that we're nearing a more modern age where issues of women's suffrage comes up.  Both Concordia and Ambrose are quite enjoyable characters and very likable, as are typical of Amanda Quick characters.

The investigation felt a bit better handled, and I loved the inclusion of the four young girls, Concordia's students.  They made the book more entertaining, especially watching the interactions between them and Concordia, as well as with Ambrose.



BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #1

I finished reading Pamela Clare's Sweet Release as my first book for the first square: "Author is a woman."  This was yesterday, but due to sporadic internet issues at home, I hadn't been able to do a proper update.  But here it is now, my first dice roll!

Meanwhile, I decided to just keep my updates simple, so there probably won't be an elaborate table or anything.  Just the update board with my Dino Baby marker:


I'm too lazy to "Rawr" today...



BookLikes Snakes and Ladders

Since my book fit the square prompt, I rolled two dice with my nifty dice roller app and got a six.  Moving to square #7 (see board above for Dino Baby marker position), the prompt is: "Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D."


This prompt is PERFECT!  The next book on my reading list was going to be Pamela Clare's next Kenleigh/Blakewell Family trilogy book, Carnal Gift.  Cheers!



BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Let's Do This!

I'm totally joining in, if only because this looks like a bit of simple fun pre-BL-opoly anticipation!  And the reading tasks are broad enough.  Going to be using Dino Baby as my marker (see tiny image on square one below).

For the first square I'm going to just continue with my reading plans and read Pamela Clare's Sweet Release, so I'm already set.  Meanwhile, I'm contemplating creating a table for a more organized view of my game play tracking--work in progress.


BookLikes Snakes and Ladders

1. Author is a woman -- Sweet Release by Pamela Clare (currently reading)
2. Genre: mystery
3. Set in the twentieth century
4. Published in 2019
5. Published in 2018
6. Title has a color word in it
7. Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D.
8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H.
9. Author's last name begins with the letters H, I, J, or K
10. Author's last name begins with the letters L, M, N or O
11. Author's last name begins with the letters P, Q, R, or S
12. Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z
13. Author is a man
14. Author is dead
15. Genre: romance
16. Genre: fantasy
17. Genre: horror
18. Set in a school
19. Set in the UK
20. Set in a country that is not your country of residence
21. Set in Europe
22. Set in Asia
23. Set in Australia/Oceania
24. Set in Africa
25. Snake - go back to 5
26. Part of a series that is more than 5 books long
27. Set during WWI or WWII
28. Written between 1900 and 1999
29. Someone travels by plane
30. Someone travels by train
31. Road trip
32. Genre: thriller
33. Set in North America
34. Snake - go back to 1
35. Has been adapted as a movie
36. Set in Central or South America
37. Has won an award
38. Newest release by a favorite author
39. A reread
40. Characters involved in the entertainment industry
41. Characters involved in politics
42. Characters involved in sports/sports industry
43. Characters involved in the law
44. Characters involved in cooking/baking
43. Characters involved in medicine
44. Characters involved in science/technology
45. A book that has been on your tbr for more than one year
46. A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years
47. Snake - go back to 19
48. A book you acquired in February, 2019.
49. Recommended by a friend
50. Has a domestic animal on the cover
51. Has a wild animal on the cover
52. Has a tree or flower on the cover
53. Has something that can be used as a weapon on the cover
54. Is more than 400 pages long
55. Is more than 500 pages long
56. Was published more than 100 years ago
57. Was published more than 50 years ago
58. Was published more than 25 years ago
59. Was published more than 10 years ago
60. Was published last year
61. Cover is more than 50% red
62. Cover is more than 50% green
63. Cover is more than 50% blue
64. Cover is more than 50% yellow
65. Snake - go back to 52
66. Part of a series that is more than 10 books long
67. Set in a city with a population of greater than 5 million people (link)
68. Something related to weddings on the cover
69. Something related to travel on the cover
70. Something related to fall/autumn on the cover
71. Involves the beach/ocean/lake
72. Involves the mountains/forests
73. Categorized as YA
74. Categorized as Middle Grade
75. Set in a fantasy world
76. Set in a world with magic
77. Has a "food" word in the title
78. Set in a small town (fictional or real)
79. Main character is a woman
80. Main character is a man
81. Ghost story
82. Genre: urban fantasy
83. Genre: cozy mystery
84. Genre: police procedural
85. Written by an author who has published more than 10 books
86. Author's debut book
87. Snake - go back to 57
88. Comic/graphic novel
89. Published between 2000 and 2017
90. A new-to-you author
91. Snake - go back to 61
92. Reread of a childhood favorite
93. Author's first/last initial same as yours (real or BL handle)
94. Non-fiction
95. Memoir
96. From your favorite genre
97. Title starts with any of the letters in SNAKE
98. Title starts with any of the letters in LADDERS
99. Snake - go back to 69
100. Let BL pick it for you: post 4 choices and read the one that gets the most votes!



3.5 Stars
Brief Thoughts: The Ebony Swan
The Ebony Swan - Phyllis A. Whitney

The Ebony Swan

by Phyllis A. Whitney



Susan Prentice is a woman alone.  In the past six months her father has died, she has called off her engagement to a cynical young doctor she no longer loves, and she has begun to question the ethics of the medical profession of which she is a member.

Now at a crossroads in her life, Susan decides to make contact with her maternal grandmother whom her father had forbidden her to see since Susan's mother's death from a tragic fall almost twenty-five years earlier.

There are so many questions she wants to ask--about her mother and her own dimly remembered childhood on Virginia's eastern shore.  Susan is also determined to get acquainted with her grandmother, a reputedly difficult woman, on her own terms.

Traveling across the country to the lush Southern land of her birth, Susan has no way of knowing that her entire life is about to change irrevocably.  Once there she discovers that her mother's death may not have been an accident and that her return has caused anxiety among people who fear what may lie dormant in Susan's memory.

Just as Murder by Death noted, this story is a slow trudge, with parts that dragged throughout.  There were moments when I just wanted the plot to get on with it.  However, the mystery itself is quite intriguing and the writing is excellent.  The characters are pretty one-dimensional, and I found I didn't really care for them one way or another--didn't like them, didn't hate them.

There were some thought-provoking anecdotes, even if the whole "white swan, black swan" thing felt a bit trite.  In the end, the book DID end up grabbing my attention and keeping it without me making too much of a fuss over any frustrations.  Truly, the only complaint I have is the slow pacing of the story's unfolding, but otherwise, this was enjoyable and entertaining enough to please me.



It's Monday! What are you reading? | 2/18/2019
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 think this was a good week for reading, and I'm happy that I managed to finish The Ebony Swan.  Meanwhile, I managed to get some other things done in real life as well, but that's not important.  Otherwise, it's been a pretty slow week for anything else.

In other news, the pup and the not-quite-pup look like they're pretty tuckered out.  Playing hard and sleeping hard and eating all the time.  It's tough being a dog.




What I Read Last Week




What I'm Currently Reading




What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans On the Blog

I'm trying to stick to my reading schedule for the sake of reading challenges, but I'm at a point where I'm kind of feeling the need to read a romantic suspense involving guns and explosions.  I know, that sounds weird, but I had that thought sometime during the moment right before waking up and after coming out of a strange dream about a romantic suspense.

I don't claim to understand my own moods.

So at some point this month, I might spontaneously insert a random romantic suspense into my schedule.  The problem is that I haven't quite decided which book I want to read for a random romantic suspense... despite the fact that Amanda Quick books are also considered romantic suspense, if you really think about it.  And technically, Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart are romantic suspense, too.  But as I'd mentioned, I'm kind of wanting guns and explosions, so I need something military or crime thriller or something...

I'm weird like that.



3.5 Stars
Some Ramblings: King of Scars
King of Scars - Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars

by Leigh Bardugo
Book 1 of Nikolai Duology



Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible.  No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way.  Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built.  With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him.  He will risk everything to save his country and himself.  But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

It feels like it's been ages since I read the Grisha trilogy, and, as others might have pointed out, a reread of Bardugo's debut trilogy might have been beneficial.  I remember some details, but not others, and it might have been the reliance of back story knowledge that had me feeling like this book was a bit hard to get into in the beginning.  It probably also didn't help that there were a lot of POVs, even though we really just switched between three main ones--Nina, Nikolai, and Zoya.

And in truth, I feel like Bardugo handled the multiple POVs and the multiple story lines A LOT better in the Six of Crows duology (which had been known as The Dregs duology at some point, and is now going to get a third book apparently which has caused me to feel completely flustered, because that's all I can think of now, so the rest of this review is sort of a blur.)  The truth is, because of the connection between these two series, it was hard NOT to make those comparisons, which might have been a bit unfair to this book.  I found myself wondering if any of the other Dregs would make an appearance, and whenever Nina's POVs swung around, I wondered if she'd run into Inej or Kaz, or whether they'd suddenly pop up to help her with her missions... as awkwardly dropped as those instances would have been.

But enough of the Six of Crows versus Nikolai comparisons, because this book is quite obviously a sequel series to the Grisha trilogy.  So, to start, I DO highly recommend reading that trilogy before jumping into this one.  I even highly recommend reading the Six of Crows duology first as well.

Because while this book COULD stand on its own in some ways, I feel like there were too many references to previous books that could cause fleeting moments of "I wonder what that was about?"

Back to this book...

As I had already mentioned, I had found the beginning a bit slow to get into--dragged a little bit, even.  And despite the fact that every tangent seems to have its significance, the book still feels like it tried to cram too much material into one book... and yet there were a lot of moments where I just wanted to get on with the story.

It's conflicting, because it's not like I didn't like this book.  In fact, I very much enjoyed it, because aside from the story's outline and presentation itself, Bardugo has a way with words and creation that really just draws you right in.  Bardugo's Grishaverse is a wonderfully crafted place, and I've always loved how intricate all the details of her world are presented, how you can pluck any character out of the world and there can be a whole story to tell.  Even background characters have their significance and aren't just there for filler.

King of Scars is a book I've been looking forward to ever since it's announcement because it boasts two characters I came to love from previous series.  While I was never in the Nikolai/Alina camp, I always found Nikolai charming and fun to follow as a side character to Alina's journey.  And while I had started off Six of Crows not quite feeling Nina as a character, I slowly grew to love her as the books progressed.  Finally, as mentioned already, I just love Bardugo's Grishaverse!

King of Scars ended up being enjoyable and entertaining, but maybe I was over-hyping myself, or I was just expecting so much more, but I couldn't seem to relate with any of the characters, or find myself caring a whole lot.  Nikolai doesn't come off as charming as I remember, even though an inkling of that charm kind of hung in the background.  Nina's story was a bit rocky to begin with, got a little bit better, but then I feel like it sort of lost direction at some point.

In contrast, I found that I DID really like Zoya and really appreciate the glimpse into her history.  I honestly don't remember much about Zoya from the Grisha trilogy, except as maybe the "mean girl" Alina had to steer clear of.  The focus on her as a main character made her so much more fleshed out; and maybe because I didn't have any strong feelings for or against her previously, it was easy to kind of accept her as a new character altogether.  But that doesn't mean that I really felt any strong feelings for or against her in this book either.  I liked her, but not in that "I've got a new favorite character" type of giddiness.

Anyway, in the end, the book DID suck me right in as all the conflicts started coming to a head.  I really like the new twist to Grisha powers and hope to see it expounded on in the next book.  I never really expected this book to be a romance, and just as well, the whispers of the romances were a bit lacking in chemistry, as well as in credibility--this is something else that I'm hoping will be developed a bit more if we're going to pursue this line.

Also... are we going to see any other old favorites in the next book?  Inej?  Kaz?  Jesper?  Yes, please?  =P



3.5 Stars
Brief Rambling: Equal Rites
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites

by Terry Pratchett
Book 3 of Discworld | Book 1 of Witches



On Discworld, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born.  The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late.  The town witch insists on turning the baby into a perfectly normal witch, thus mending the magical damage of the wizard's mistake.  But now the young girl will be forced to penetrate the inner sanctum of the Unseen University--and attempt to save the world with one well-placed kick in some enchanted shins!

This is the weirdest book ever, even if not the weirdest book I've ever read (that award goes to Alice in Wonderland).  The book itself took a little time to get into, but the characters start to readily grow on you.  And I've found a nice appreciation for Sir Terry's odd, meandering descriptors for almost everything that is written about.  (I believe I've seen people call them Pratchett-isms?)

Meanwhile, the second half of the book was much more interesting than the first half, even if I still don't have quite the idea what the story was actually about.  There were a lot of clever play on words and some rather thought-provoking instances that probably only really make sense in the context or philosophy of Discworld, though could be applied to the real world if you really think about it.  (More Pratchett-isms?)

Meanwhile, I found Granny Weatherwax rather charming and fun, in spite of her gruff ways.  And the librarian is surprisingly amusing, and now I'm wondering if he gets his own book at any point.  I've grown rather fond of the wizard turned orangutan, who somehow manages to infuse a whole bunch of meaning into a simple, "Ook."



3.5 Stars
Rambling Thoughts: Part Time Cowboy
Part Time Cowboy - Maisey Yates

Part Time Cowboy

by Maisey Yates
Book 1 of Copper Ridge



A one-time bad girl comes home to small-town Oregon in the first in a sexy, heartfelt new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Maisey Yates…

Sadie Miller isn't expecting any welcome-home parades on her return to Copper Ridge.  Least of all from part-time rancher, full-time lawman Eli Garrett.  The straight-laced, impossibly hot deputy sheriff glares at her like she's the same teenage hoodlum who fled town ten years ago.  But running from her demons has brought Sadie full circle, ready to make a commitment at last.  Not to a man, but to a B and B.  On Garrett land.  Okay, so her plan has a tiny flaw…

Eli works too hard to let a blonde ball of trouble mess up his town.  But keeping an eye on Sadie makes it tough to keep his hands off her.  And if she's so wrong for him, why does being with her feel so right?

Bear with me here, because this rambling is going to get very bipolar.  And before we start thinking that I completely despised this book after the next three paragraphs, the truth is, the book somehow managed to win me over.

I considered dropping this book after Eli was introduced.  Eli was introduced in the first chapter.  And I already didn't like him.

There's broody, and then there's douche-nozzle, and in my honest opinion at that time, Eli landed very clearly in the latter.  He wasn't just broody, and even calling him "straight-laced" or "no-nonsense" was probably way too nice (and misleading) a descriptor.  Eli was just a jack ass--an arrogant, judgmental jackass... who also plays at double standards.

Meanwhile, Sadie isn't the best heroine in the world either.  She had a penchant for being reckless and seemed to have trouble respecting boundaries.  However, Eli's reactions to her actions were overly intense and extreme.  If he didn't like what she was doing, he could have just said so without resorting to insulting her person, or referring back to her wild child days.  But the moment that Sadie set foot back in Copper Ridge, Eli was already bound and determined to judge her by the one incident of her trouble youthful shenanigans, immediately seeing the worst in all of her actions, certain that she was in town to cause trouble and, gasp, gasp, cost him his run for town sheriff!

But here's the kicker... Eli admits that he only wants to be town sheriff to satisfy his need to be a control freak and run things his way.  He's not in it for the people; he doesn't even seem to like the people, despite what he claims.  He wants everyone to stay off of his property and leave him alone and stop talking to him about community events...  Or so it seemed.

My first thoughts after reading about a third of the book was that this book had a lot of potential for a cute, contemporary romance.  It had the all-too-familiar and pretty well liked "Bickering Couples" trope--this is something that sometimes draws my attention.  You've got a straight-laced cowboy slash small town sheriff, versus a free-spirited, devil-may-care wanderer...  (Sawyer and Chloe?  Though not an exact replica, I'll give you.)  And that cover is super, super cute, and just oozes "Cute Contemporary Romance" to the max!

But the bickering between Sadie and Eli got pretty old, pretty fast, and started turning into a verbal display of juvenile hair-pulling between the two.  Their arguments were eye-roll inducing, and a lot of times I felt like the two were arguing like teenagers just for the sake of arguing like teenagers.  There was childish taunting, with the occasional extension of an olive branch by one side, only to be shot down when the other party just decides to be insulting about it.  And usually it was Eli being insulting in his judgmental, holier-than-thou way.

By this time, still only about a third of the way into the book, I was dead set on being annoyed with both story and characters.  I'd thought to drop it and the series, but I kept on with it if only because I wanted to see how this relationship imploded in on itself.  Whether or not Eli stopped being so arrogant and judgmental.  Whether Sadie stopped being so childish.  And also, I did find myself liking Connor and Kate, the other two Garrett siblings, in spite of their brother's character flaws.  Connor at least displayed a sense of humor, and Kate is just a nice, normal young woman who knows how to interact with people without being a jerk.

Incredible thing of all things...  This book somehow managed to win me over and I'm not even sure when or how it happened.  Like I said, I was set on being annoyed with it and was sitting firmly in a 2-Star rating.  The next thing I know, I'm plowing through the rest of the book, unable to put it down.

The "Bickering Couple" morphed into a more agreeable "Friends With Benefits."  And while their bickering still felt kind of juvenile, the banter was MUCH more akin to fun and flirty rather than childish taunting and pulling of hair.  You start learning more about both Sadie and Eli, and it was as if each of their characters made massive personality developments you didn't really see coming.  And yet, at the same time, that transition wasn't all that jarring.

You learn that Eli is quite aware of how controlling and judgmental he is, and that he has his reasons.  I'm not saying that his reasons give him a right to be insulting to random people, but it's more understandable from his perspective, why he's so uptight.  But because he's also a caring and good man, I'm guessing it was just easier to accept that his arrogant front was more of an exterior defense mechanism--a public persona as a part of his campaign running for town sheriff.  And what made it so much easier to start liking him was that he starts to curb his judgmental, holier-than-thou attitudes, and lessen his controlling tendencies.

And he admits that he was wrong for insulting Sadie's lifestyle without understanding the history behind her need to wander.

Meanwhile, Sadie also drops her childish taunting; though if I were to nitpick, her development was less prominent than Eli's, probably because I didn't really have much a problem with Sadie in the first place.

In the end, this couple just kind of worked.  They clicked and that chemistry just started sparking.

The romantic development was MUCH more credible as the two started getting to know each other.

I would have liked for some of the more serious issues to be addressed a bit more properly.  Both Sadie and Eli come from rather broken families, and their histories shape the type of person they started off the book as, as well as continues to influence their actions throughout the story.  I'm not sure if they were truly handled all that well, or if we just pulled a "Jill Shalvis" and cloaked the resolution under a "love cures all" machination.  The truth is, I got so caught up in those last few chapters and the resolution of the romance that I didn't really notice... aside from the whole Alison episode with her abusive husband and how that incident seemed to resolve itself way too easily for my liking.

But the kicker is that these issues are also left pretty open-ended, as if there were room for more exploration, off-the-page.  At least that's what it felt like to me.

So yeah...  This book totally screwed around with my review, because I couldn't think of the best way to talk about how annoyed I was by this book... and yet at the same time, how much I ended up enjoying it, without this whole post becoming a messy rambling.  In a way, I'm glad I stuck with it.  However, the first third of the book probably could have benefited from having a less intensely judgmental and arrogant hero, and better outlined bickering... and maybe not have the couple have sex against a wall while they still dislike each other?

Maybe it's my own lack of reference or experience, but if a guy is nothing but insulting, rude, and judgmental towards me within the first couple meetings, I don't really find that much of a turn on.  Insulting my lifestyle doesn't really add points either.  Although I DID find it amusing that the two of them decided to start learning to get along after setting up their Friends With Benefits plan...  I suppose if they're going to sleep with each other, it would help them to actually try to like each other.

Will I read the next book?  Yeah, probably.  I'm not going to rush out and get it immediately, but this is definitely a series I'm interested in following, and Maisey Yates' writing is pretty solid.



It's Monday! What are you reading? | 2/11/2019
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!

Hmm... I didn't finish all the books I'd been hoping to finish, but that's to be expected when you get distracted so easily.  But whatevs, I'm stumbling along quite nicely, in my honest opinion.  And I expect that I'll be finishing up King of Scars pretty soon, then I'll end up zooming through the rest of the books I have "on my schedule."

Meanwhile, here's another fur baby update to brighten everyone's day!


Baby's got himself a new housemate this month as my brother and his fiance have need of a dog-sitter for the coming weeks.  The two of them will be flying out of town, both respectively, for the work, and so we decided to host one of their fur babies at our home.

This is Yogi in the background, whom I don't know if everyone has had the chance to meet in the past.  He's only about two years old, but already quite mature for his age.  He has the tendency to crawl into people's laps to take his naps, though, something that Baby has never done before.  He's Bear's older brother--the latter of which will not be staying with us.  My brother's fiance left Bear with her sister for reasons.

So our spoiled little Baby is now learning to get over his jealousies of having another doggy around.  He's coming around, and he remembers Yogi from the last time we visited my brother, so it's been quite fine so far.  Except for the fact that they both keep trying to eat each other's food...

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...



What I Read Last Week




What I'm Currently Reading




What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans On the Blog

I'm actually not flying through King of Scars as quickly as I thought I would, but I'm thinking I'll have it finished this week, at the latest.  Meanwhile, I'm making my way slowly through The Ebony Swan.  And then, obviously, I'd like to get to the rest of my Reading Assignment books this month, so that will be my focus next.

I have a couple reviews prepped for the next couple days, but otherwise, I'm just going to focus on reading (as per usual).



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? | 2/4/19
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!

This week's 'It's Monday!' is brought to you by Static Baby:


I was told you have something for me!

And now onto our regularly scheduled meme!

I know I'd already included Mr. Ridley in the previous 'It's Monday!' post, but I technically didn't finish reading it until last week, which effectively puts it into this Monday's update.  So here it is again in a more official capacity... just so I could plump up my post a bit more.

In other news, it's another new year, the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Pig!  The official first day of the New Year will be February 5, but due to time constraints, my family decided to do our socializing a little early.  Lots of things going on in the real life world, with family visits, lots of food, and lucky red money packets.  Reading, obviously comes to a bit of a standstill during family gatherings, but I'm still hoping to get a couple books read.

I had intended to finish Part Time Cowboy before the weekend was over, but that didn't really happen.  But never fear, it's quite a breeze to read through, so even though it's been a bumpy one, I'll finish it soon and have a review out.  In addition, I think I'm finally going to call it quits with The Disappearing Spoon.  I'm just not feeling this book, and I've been eyeing other books I'm itching to read, so I'm putting myself out of my misery and moving on.

Meanwhile, my brother and his fiance brought their fur kids up to visit, so here's a reintroduction to Bear, all grown up, but still looking (and acting) like the little baby doggy that he is!


Just chillin' on the coffee table... don't mind me.



What I Read Last Week





What I'm Currently Reading




What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans On the Blog

Really, the only activities I have planned would be book reviews... not-quite-galore.  Hopefully I'll have the Vanza series finished soon--two books left--followed by a series review.

Also, as you can see, I had HAD a plan for February, but the truth is, I couldn't just let King of Scars sit there and NOT start into it.  I was hoping to give some attention to Equal Rites first, but Leigh Bardugo, and Grisha-verse, and Nikolai, and... well... it can't be helped, ya know.

Otherwise... not a whole lot else going on, really, so I leave everyone with this last photo.


These two are actually getting along a lot better than they did last time.  And Baby learned to play nice by sharing all of his toys... which ended up being strewn across the living room as Bear couldn't decide which one he wanted to play with most.  Le sigh...



Starting: King of Scars!
King of Scars - Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars

by Leigh Bardugo
Book 1 of Nikolai Duology

Let's do this!



3 Stars
Brief Thoughts: The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story - Michael Ende, Gerard Doyle

The Neverending Story

by Michael Ende
audio book narrated by Gerard Doyle



The story begins with a lonely boy named Bastian and the strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica. Only a human can save this enchanted place by giving its ruler, the Childlike Empress, a new name. But the journey to her tower leads through lands of dragons, giants, monsters, and magic and once Bastian begins his quest, he may never return. As he is drawn deeper into Fantastica, he must find the courage to face unspeakable foes and the mysteries of his own heart.

Readers, too, can travel to the wondrous, unforgettable world of Fantastica if they will just turn the page...

I honestly don't think I'm the type to openly trample all over people's favorite childhood classics, but this is probably the second or third one I've read that I just wasn't feeling.  The book was fascinating in it's own way, but to be completely honest, I was pretty bored through most of the story.  I'm suspecting that this book might have been better experienced in print.  I noticed that an illustrator is listed, so out of curiosity, did some Google research.  While I'm not entirely sure which illustrations depicted are from the print book and which ones aren't (or if there are illustrations in the print book at all), I still feel like those visuals would have been a wonderful addition to this book's reading experience.

It wasn't that this was a bad story or anything, but it definitely wasn't as adventurous or exciting as I'd been expecting, being a fantastical tale of the standard boy hero and his journey in both vanquishing evil as well as self-revelation.  There's a pretty nice message in there somewhere that I'm sure I might have found once or twice.

But in the end, this book didn't really speak to me.  Maybe had I been much younger, I might have found this book much more interesting.  Maybe.  I want to say that it's possible I'm too far removed from my childhood years to really give this book a fair chance, but it's not like I haven't read and loved childrens or young adult stories as an adult with a great amount of enjoyment.

As far as characters and story goes, the formula is rather standard and predictable; although while the first half of the book was set up well, despite how long it took for me to get into it, the second half of the book was where the entire story kind of starts falling apart.  Forgive me for the blasphemy, but I honestly feel like that second half didn't need to be so long.  So much could have been left out and still had an agreeable conclusion to the book, and some side tangents didn't really feel as if they contributed much.

If I wanted to be honest, even as the second half of the story progressed, I wasn't entirely sure I knew what was going on.  And as the book came to an end, I still had no idea what was going on... and was quite eager to have this book over with.

Even so, the story itself had it's interesting points.

So I'm probably just going to chalk this up to being a book that's really not for me.



Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- January 2019

While I would have liked for the month to reflect how fired up I was to start in on Reading Challenges and the like... well, let's say I've been easily distracted lately.  And also, sometimes one or two books that kind of drag can really affect your entire month's worth of reading.  But that's okay, because I have better hopes for February.

That is not to say that January wasn't good.  While I usually average about 14 books a month (two or three years ago), my current total of 8 books really is much better than my usual January totals.  I always begin the year in a slight slump, but this January actually proved to be quite productive.

I've started off the year with four new series, two of which I'm loving, one I'm on the fence about, and the last of which I may or may not finish the partner book in the duology for.  We'll see.  I have participated in two readathons, and also made a pact with myself to continue posting those 'It's Monday!' meme updates so as to remain as active as I'd like to be on the blog-o-sphere.

All-in-all, I'd call the first month in 2019 a good one!



January Reads




Books Dropped/Put On Hold


None this month!  Yay!



Currently Reading




January Reading Stats


Total works read:  8

  • 7 print/e-book novels
  • 1 audio books

Average rating: 3.19 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle // 4.5 Stars
  • Lowest Rated:  Lost Island by Phyllis A. Whitney // 2.0 Stars

Series I started reading:

  • Lady Darby by Anna Lee Huber
  • Vanza by Amanda Quick
  • Lairds' Fiancées by Julie Garwood
  • Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle


Series I completed:

  • None this month.


Series I have made progress on:

  • Cormoran Strike by Robert Galbraith

Favorite reads:  Books for the month of January tended towards the "meh," with only two books I can assuredly point to as being in my favorites for the month.  Between Anna Lee Huber's The Anatomist's Wife, and Delilah Marvelle's Mr. Ridley, I've found two new authors to keep an eye on, and two new series I'm interested in following (even though Marvelle's series is only a trilogy, it seems).  Meanwhile, I probably would give a brief mention to Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling), but I technically didn't finish the book until January was over--I was thinking I'd fudge and call it a January read even if it took me a few minutes past midnight... but I didn't finish reading Lethal White until well after midnight (thus resulting in a lack of proper sleep for my day...).

Disappointing reads:  I'm going to lump both the Phyllis Whitney and the Julie Garwood together into this section, as terrible as that may be.  I don't go into books expecting not to like them, so it's usually quite a downer when books I'm looking forward to end up being unlikable, despite the fact that I can tell the author must have better work.  With Julie Garwood, I have enjoyed her books before.  With Phyllis Whitney, I obviously need to find a different book by her to make up for this one.  Either way, neither book really did anything for me.



Reviews & Notable Posts


Reviews Written




Other Posts



Coming Up In February


Tentative TBR




Other Stuff

It's a new month for the 2019 Reading Challenge, and we're doing quite well so far, with full marks for January.  I'm hoping to keep this up, and with two of my favorite romance authors dominating February's "assignment list," I'm pretty optimistic.  Meanwhile, no other little challenges are requesting my attention as we won't be participating in another readathon for another few months.  I have two more library books that need to be read so I can turn them in, and after the Reading Assignment books... well, I'm not entirely sure what else I'm going to read...

But what am I doing talking as if I have all the time in the world.  With six Reading Assignment books, one Discworld book, two library books, and one more "I need to read this right now!" book, I've kind of got my reading month full.

Meanwhile, I'm also playing with a new idea to include another section in my monthly wrap ups for reading challenge updates...  This may or may not even go into affect.  We'll see.



Previous Wrap-Ups 

Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups (2016 / 2017 / 2018)
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



4.5 Stars
Thoughts: Mr. Ridley
Mr. Ridley - Delilah Marvelle

Mr. Ridley

by Delilah Marvelle
Book 1 of The Whipping Society


Meet Mr. Ridley.
BOOK 1 of 3, all roped together by one man and one woman bent on twisted passion: making the other writhe.

Criminals fear the iron fist of justice he delivers.  Scotland Yard will do anything to get their hands on his mind.  Whilst women?  They crawl in the hope of becoming his.  But only one woman is about to hold his career and his body and his mind hostage.

Jemdanee (Kumar) Lillian Watkins is a botanical savant from India who ends up getting arrested for a crime she didn't commit.  Only one man believes her: Mr. Ridley.  Drawn to him and the rope he knots in her presence, she quickly realizes this regimented dark hero hides nothing but his passion.

Themes include Dark humor, BDSM, mystery, and romance.

This book is definitely a breath of fresh air in comparison to the historical romances I'm used to reading.  In truth, it's not the best written book in the world and could benefit from a bit more editing, but you soon forget that there are any quibbles and flaws in the face of how much fun it is to follow the interactions between Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley.  This couple is brilliant together, and even as some of the dialogue can be a bit incredible and tacky, the banter is to die for!

While I love that Jemdanee is a gem of a heroine--sunny disposition even in the face of everything that's happened to her, and a smart tongue that makes you smile--I honestly feel like it's Mr. Ridley that stood out for me more.  I'm so used to the broody, mysterious alpha heroes.  And in a way, that's what Mr. Ridley is, except that he's so much more.  To be honest, his fatalism got a little frustrating at times, but his blunt, straight-forward actions and mannerisms just made him a bit more refreshing than the typical historical hero.

Don't get me wrong--I loved Jemdanee as well.  She's basically everything I love about strong heroines with a level head on her shoulders, a heart of gold, with appropriate flaws, as well as some girlishly adorable quirks.  She's young, but sometimes you forget how young she is because of how mature and worldly she acts.

Meanwhile, I wish there had been a bit more about the murder mystery, and I wish we could have seen more of Jemdanee using her botanical savant skills for the investigation.  But it's quite apparent that this book was more about the slow developing lust and romance between our main couple.  There was also a heavy emphasis on the BDSM proclivities of our hero, but the theme is fairly underplayed compared to other romances I've read (and I honestly haven't read many) with this theme.

And to be fair, I'm not as interested in BDSM as much as others may be, so the honest truth is, I probably wouldn't have picked up this book anytime soon based on the summary, if not for some of the high praise, and lots of interesting quotes, I saw from a trusted reviewer I follow (a quick shout out to Whiskey and her Romancies for 2018, which is where I made the decision to read this book!).  Even if this book really does come off more BDSM-lite.

I'm quite glad this book caught my attention in this fashion, though, because in the end, it's the interactions between Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley that really made me fall for it.

This is my first favorite read of 2019, with hopefully more to come, and a good outlook for the rest of the year!




currently reading

Progress: 43%
The Dragon and the Pearl - Jeannie Lin