Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

Review
2.5 Stars
Ramblings from Bad to Meh: Dear Maggie
Dear Maggie - Brenda Novak

Dear Maggie
by Brenda Novak

 

 

Maggie Russell, a police reporter in Sacramento, works the night shift, and she's finally stumbled on the big crime story that will truly establish her career—if it doesn't end her life.  A serial killer who moves from one city to the next.

As if things aren't complicated enough, Nick Sorenson, the paper's new photographer, seems to be taking an unusual interest in this case.  And in her.  Maggie doesn't realize that she's falling in love with a man who's not what he seems to be.  A man whose deceptions may save her life.



I feel like our MC, Maggie, should just take out an advertisement and broadcast everything about her life into public: where she lives, where she works, all of her trade secrets, what she and her son look like, and how best to infiltrate her home--a home she doesn't even bother taking precautions to secure or guard while there's a serial killer running around killing women.

And her reason for not locking her doors or windows at night while she's sleeping, is simply because the house is too hot, there's no central air.  But she says that there's an air conditioner in her bedroom.  She really could lock all the doors and windows at night, then lock herself and her son in her bedroom and sleep with the air conditioner on.  Maybe.

Of course, since she gives no reason as to why she's also being so open about her entire life with "John," her new online potential boyfriend, I suppose her behavior is par for TSTL anyway.  They'd only met all of twice, maybe; he takes her on a cyber date, refuses to send her a picture of himself... so SHE sends him a picture of herself with her son... y'know, just to hint that she'd like to see a picture of him.  She spends a lot of time telling him anything and everything about herself, even some of the confidential stuff she works with as a reporter.

And at that point, she STILL has no idea who this guy really is.

Honestly, if "John" weren't our male MC, playing undercover to try to "get to know" Maggie, and get friendly with her to make it easier to protect her, I foresee Maggie stumbling into some psychotic serial murderer who probably uses the internet to lure unsuspecting lamb to be chopped.  For a single mother who's apparently heard and seen a lot of stuff in her job as a crime reporter, she really doesn't seem to have a grasp about how dangerous strangers can be.

I'm not sure why she figured that she knew and understood "John" so well.  I'm not even sure why she was so quick to trust him.  I suspect this was just part of the plot device to get our hero and heroine into a situation where there would end up being super-angst by the end of the book, because lies and deceit are being tossed around.  I also figure that we might be playing into a bit of the "You've Got Mail" thing (a movie of which I loved, BTW, when it first came out in 1998).

Keeping in mind that this book was written in 2001, when internet was still kind of a newly developing commodity, I suppose I shouldn't give her so much crap about not realizing the dangers of cyber scams and cyber predators.  Maybe.  In present day, people still fall for these things, no matter how many warnings are put out there.  But she is a crime reporter--I figured that, having seen and heard so much about the dangers of the world, she'd have more of a sense of basic security than to trust a strange man she'd never met online before so readily.

Even before the age of computers, you wouldn't just trust a random stranger enough to tell him your whole life's story after just one conversation... right?

Back to the book itself...

I had considered pulling my DNF trigger as each chapter progressed.  Maggie didn't get any less frustrating, and Nick is kind of boring anyway.  There are literally no other characters of any significance in this book.  Maybe Rambo--but he's a dog, and most of the time, animal companions tend to make a difference--except that he wasn't all that present in the book.

But, as it turns out, I was curious enough about the identity of the serial killer than I would have liked.  And also, I don't think I've ever DNF'd a crap book written by Brenda Novak--and there have been some pretty bad ones--if only because there's a certain, attention-grabbing train-wreck quality to her story progressions.  The action keeps moving forward, and you can't seem to find a stopping point because the action keeps moving forward, and the next thing you know, you've read half the book and then some... so you may as well finish the rest of it.  It's only another hundred and fifty pages after all--how long could that take?

Also, at some point in the book, Maggie starts gaining some sense; I think this was after the serial killer starts contacting her by leaving her voice mail messages on her work phone, and implying that he knows what she went shopping for one night, as well as what color panties she owns.  Then she freaks out and starts thinking about the safety of her son, her friends, and herself.  Then she starts locking her doors and windows, agrees to have a police team stationed outside her home to keep her safe, agrees to leave her son at a safer location most of the day while she's at work, agrees to let our main hero move in with her for the sake of not being alone.

It doesn't matter that she barely knows said main hero; she knows only that he's in town for a short while, he's a new photojournalist who is working for her newspaper temporarily... he's been hitting on her and watching her at work...

He's really an undercover FBI agent trying to investigate the serial murders while keeping an eye on Maggie since the last victim was also an investigative reporter who'd had contact with the serial killer.

Of course, Maggie doesn't know this.  Because she doesn't know anything about the men she meets in this book before she lets them live in her home, or learn about her entire life's story.

Anyway...

The crime aspect of the book wasn't entirely engaging, truth be told; and the ending chapters were standard "damsel in distress" scenario.  The romance was lukewarm, and a bit off-putting considering how much lying and secrecy went into the entire relationship since the beginning.

Maggie is your standard, innocent and almost virginal heroine, who's only ever had one sexual relationship with an ex-husband, and is super conservative with her own behavior, even though she readily breaks out of her prudishness for the hero.  Obviously she's had sex, since she has a son, but she certainly acts like it's a new thing to her.

Nick is the standard broody alpha with commitment issues... who lusts after the heroine, but finds that he's ready to settle down and get married and be in love for the long haul after he meets said heroine.  Because of that special "I've never felt this way before" factor.

I can't say I'm a hundred percent fond of Brenda Novak books, but for some reason, I end up finishing them easily, and keep coming back for more.  At the very least, they're not entirely terrible, even if this one DID get really frustrating.


***

 

Halloween Bingo 2017


Other Possible Squares:

  • Murder Most Foul:  For obvious reasons.
  • Amateur Sleuth:  Female MC is a reporter, although the entire investigation is kind of laughable.
  • Romantic Suspense:  There is romance, there is suspense, there is murder and mayhem...
  • Terrifying Women:  Romantic suspense with a murder, written by a woman.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/ramblings-from-bad-to-meh-dear-maggie.html
Reading Update for Black Rose: Made me laugh
Black Rose - Nora Roberts

Black Rose
by Nora Roberts

Progress:  25 of 355 pages (7%)

 

Just now, it looked as if he hadn't shaved in the past few days, so there was a dark stubble toughening his face.  His bottle-green eyes appeared both tired and harassed.  His hair needed a trim.

He was dressed much like the first time she'd met him, in old jeans and rolled-up shirtsleeves.  Unlike hers, his basket was empty.

"Help me," he said in the tone of a man dangling from a cliff by a sweaty grip on a shaky limb.

"I'm sorry?"

"Six-year-old girl.  Birthday.  Desperation."


I don't know why, but this passage made me laugh out loud.  I probably needed something silly and light-hearted after the chaos that was The Thin Man, and my so far frustrating progress in Dear Maggie.

Looks like Nora Roberts is a great cure-all.

The image of this scholarly professor of genealogy getting overwhelmed by a birthday present for a six-year-old girl was too amusing not to giggle about.  I do believe that he had appeared to us in the last book as an arrogant know-it-all professor who was secretly amused by the Harper household's claim about the authenticity of the Harper Bride--then promptly got schooled when he saw her for himself.

Even though Roz has already met Dr. Carnegie, this felt like an even more adorable "Meet Cute."

 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/reading-update-for-black-rose-made-me.html
Review
2 Stars
Some Thoughts and a Spreadsheet: The Thin Man
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man
by Dashiell Hammett

 

Buddy read at Booklikes - tags: n/a
Collective Reading Updates for The Thin Man

 

Ex-detective Nick Charles attracts trouble like a magnet.  He thinks his sleuthing days are over, but when Julia Wolf, a former acquaintance, is found dead, her body riddled with bullets, Nick - along with his glamorous wife, Nora - can't resist making a few enquiries.  Clyde Miller Wynant, Julia's lover and boss, has disappeared.  Everyone is after him, but Nick is not convinced Wynant is the murderer - and when he finds a junked-up hoodlum with a careless attitude to guns in his bedroom, it's only the beginning of his troubles.

 

 

"Do you think Jorgensen killed her?" she asked.

"I thought I knew who did it," I said, "but it's too mixed up right now for anything but guesses."

"And what's your guess?"

"Mimi Jorgensen, Wynant, Nunheim, Gilbert, Dorothy, Aunt Alice, Morelli, you, me, or Guild.  Maybe Studsy did it.  How about shaking up a drink?"


I believe that about sums up the entire investigation of The Thin Man.  Frankly, I spent a good lot of time not really paying attention to the book, if only because I had a hard time figuring out what was going on in the first place.  And also, I was trying to make my tallies for whenever someone took a drink.  As far as I could tell, there was a murder, and then Nick Charles spent most of the time reluctantly investigating the murder after being pushed into the whole mess... and everyone has some sort of sketchy background.

The rest of the book saw all of the characters generally having a merry time, dancing, drinking, hanging out... or just being their plain crazy selves.

The bar on crazy just kept getting raised a bit higher each time Mimi or Dorothy showed up, and the dramatics were pretty explosive.  Gilbert was a strange kid, completely creepy strange, and yet he somehow seemed a bit more stable than his mother and sister--until you read his dialogue and start wondering whether he's going to be the next sociopathic serial killer with his questions about cannibalism, and the acceptability of incest in the western U.S, and his experimentation with morphine.

Overall, the entire convoluted relationship tree involving that family, including exes, lovers, etc... was just a big ball of dysfunctional.

In my honest opinion, this wasn't a completely terrible book, if you can overlook the creepy commentary about Dorothy from the men, or the back-handed commentary about women in general, or even the fact that Nick is kind of an arrogant ass whom everyone seems to either be in love with or worships.  Or even that entire passage about cannibalism...

Nora could have been a potentially great character, but she felt down-played, and soon got relegated to background, simply there to accompany Nick, or to get everyone drinks and food.  Dorothy got on my nerves with the constant sobbing and whining and dramatics; Mamma Mimi was just crazy.  Others actually felt kind of flat.

Truth is, we needed more of Asta.  There wasn't nearly enough of Asta.  Asta might have at least helped the book a little bit.  Okay, maybe not, but at least I would have been satisfied with more Asta.

I think I enjoyed the Buddy Read aspect, discussing the book, making fun of the characters, being quite taken aback by the amount of drinking... more so than I actually enjoyed the book itself.

The Thin Man is a book that certainly isn't something I'd come back to.

And by request, here is the somewhat, half-assed drink tallying spreadsheet I used to keep track of everyone's drinking.

I kind of lost track in some of the chapters, so this spreadsheet isn't exact; and I stopped tallying at Chapter 26, but the book was almost over by then, and Nick's drink count was in the 30s, so I figured I had made my point.

 


I couldn't get the spreadsheet to paste over with the names running vertical, so I just took a screen shot and called it good.

A few notes about the data:

  • I mostly counted one drink whenever it was mentioned that a drink was poured, a drink was brought to someone, or someone finished their drink, or took a drink.
  • Again, I stopped counting after Chapter 26, though I'm sure Nick had another drink in that chapter, bringing his total up one more.  I'm also sure both Nick and Nora had a drink in the last chapter.
  • I also tried to count some of the minor characters, but lost track of some when we ended up at any speakeasy since there were so many other people present.
  • I also didn't count how many drinks each character had when they were at a party or a bar, and only counted whichever ones were narrated--but we all know that you don't just drink one when you hang around a bar for a long time.  Especially not these people.  I considered giving everyone at least one implied drink even if it wasn't narrated--I don't remember if I actually did or not.
  • Nick doesn't actually take a drink in any part of the narrative in Chapter 7, but it's hard for me to believe he DOESN'T drink at a party where everyone else is drinking.  I gave him an implied drink count, but feel free to subtract that from the total if we want to get specific--I don't think it'll make a difference.
  • Both Dorry and Harrison Quinn showed up drunk on at least two occasions--I don't know how many drinks that implies, so I won't count them since they were "off-stage," so to speak.  It's possible that if those drinks were counted, both would be up about +10 drinks.  Although Dorry's supposed to be a tiny girl, so maybe she only needed a couple drinks to get really smashed.
  • I lumped Harrison Quinn and Alice Quinn into one category as 'the Quinns'; they don't really show up all that often.
  • At the level of crazy that she is at, I'm surprised Mimi didn't have as many drinks.  Then again, she wasn't exactly the focus of the book anyway.
  • Overall, while it seems like these people are always drinking, the tally doesn't seem that high for everyone else, but Nick.  And since I'm not sure about the duration of time this book takes place, maybe 33 drinks isn't so bad?  O.O  However, the fact that Nick always seems to start his day with a drink or two before he even has breakfast probably says something...
  • Nick has more drinks than there are chapters in this book.



For certain, these people have a lot of house parties.  And I'm also not sure I know when the last time was I offered a random visitor hard liquor as a refreshment.  Because obviously these people don't have tea, coffee, or water in their homes.

And that's a wrap!



***

 

Halloween Bingo 2017

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/some-thoughts-and-spreadsheet-thin-man.html
A Ranting Update: Dear Maggie
Dear Maggie - Brenda Novak


Progress:  52 of 355 pages (17%)


I'm finding our titular character, Maggie, both contradictory and stupid.  She's also kind of judgmental and a slut-shamer, making some comment about how it's okay to treat one of her co-workers with contempt just because "she's slept with every guy in the office.  Even the publisher."

Because she's kind of lonely and looking for a new father for her son, she's considering signing up for a dating service.  When prompted, she refuses to join her closest friend/co-worker at a bar or club to meet men, because she believes you only meet dangerous killers and stalkers in those places.  She even makes noise about not being able to fit in at a nightclub anyway because she doesn't have any tattoos or body piercings.

She also poo-poos the idea of online dating, because they could attract weirdos or cyber nuts.  But she's still so stuck on the dating service idea--an idea she got through an ad she received in the mail, mind you--and thinks this is the best way to meet men with similar goals, ambitions, highly educated, blah, blah, blah...

It takes her friend showing her a live example of how easy it is to lie on these dating service questionnaires, when Maggie decides to stretch the truth of her own survey question responses, for Maggie to realize that her dating service idea isn't any better than the other ones.  After all, if she can give a few false responses, so could a bunch of other people.  So much for meeting someone highly educated or similarly ambitious or NOT A CREEPY STALKER.

So the two of them agree to meet at a singles chat room that evening to see what it's like.

And then Maggie proceeds to tell everyone in the world about her entire life story, with real names and real incidents and everything.  A few pages later, she once again lays out her entire life story to some complete stranger who was in the chat room, who decided to direct e-mail her so that he could become friendlier with her.

Granted, the complete stranger is our hero, Nick Sorenson who is apparently undercover FBI come to keep security surveillance on Maggie...

But who in their right mind gives their entire story, plus real names, real occupation, the works, to a complete stranger you just met in a chat room?!

Brenda Novak is a Romantic Suspense author I've kept on my radar for some time because I've read some of her books, which had readily hooked me in.  Some were pretty bad, some were mediocre... but Maggie... this girl is some kind of special.

And I'm already getting tired of her "Oh, I'm not even remotely good looking" off-handed comments, in which her friend Darla has to keep inputting, "Honey, you're gorgeous.  You just need to believe it." assurances.

 

 

Halloween Bingo 2017

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/a-ranting-update-dear-maggie.html
Collective Reading Updates: The Thin Man
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man
by Dashiell Hammett

 

**The most recent updates will be added to the top each re-post.**

Here is a cautionary **SPOILER WARNING**  just in case I have inadvertently given away anything significant to the story itself.  I will do my best not to mention any big spoilers, but I don't always check myself accordingly.

Buddy read at Booklikes - tags: n/a

 

 



Progress on 9/17/17:  151 of 201 pages (75%)

 

I told her what Dorothy had told me.  "It sounds like a lot of hooey."

"Why?"

"Why not?  Everything else we've got from them has been hooey."


Well, that sounds like the gist of things.  At least someone's paying attention, I suppose.  I still have no idea what kind of evidence we've collected, but I'm leaning towards Crazy Mamma Mimi as most likely suspect.  Though that sounds too easy, so it's probably not her...

 

 



Progress on 9/17/17:  148 of 201 pages (74%)

All of these people are crazy.  That's all I've got to say.

 

"Let's go home.  I don't like these people."


Nora's got the right of it.  Unfortunately, she seems to have been relegated to a background peanut gallery with no lines, and simply someone to get the drinks for everyone else.  Or to just be there.

 

 



Progress on 9/17/17:  77 of 201 pages (38%)

 

"That's silly.  Mamma's not really dangerous.  She's just a case of arrested development.  Most of us have outgrown ethics and morals and so on.  Mamma's just not grown up to them yet."  He frowned and corrected himself thoughtfully:  "She might be dangerous, but it would be like a child playing with matches."


Because that's SO much more reassuring...

Some of these chapters are so short that I thought I'd be a lot further along in this book by now, but I DID pass out while reading some part.

Anyway, the impression I'm getting so far is that I feel like I'm missing something.  I feel like these people all know each other from a previous book or something, and we're just picking up where we left off.

The fact that I'm able to stop and count the number of drinks per character, per chapter (yes, I'm counting, and I've got a spreadsheet to show for it), as well as write a few updates, could mean that I'm not getting into this book.  Usually, once I become engrossed in a book, I stop updating after a certain amount of pages read, unless something really intriguing catches my eye.

So far, aside from Nick's reluctant investigation of a murdered woman, I'm not entirely sure I know what's going on.  Everyone is really just drinking and dancing and hanging out... though I suppose this was a sort of norm during those years?

 

 



Progress on 9/17/17:  26 of 201 pages (13%)

 

"I don't know what you're up to," I said.  "I don't know what any of you are up to."


And I don't know what's actually going on yet!

Mimi said:  "You drink too much."

"I don't drink as much as Nick."


Well, at least we're self-aware...

 

 



Progress on 9/17/17:  15 of 201 pages (7%)

It hasn't even been 10%, I just finished Chapter 4... Man, you guys weren't kidding, there's a lot of drinking in this book.  Nick has already had 10 drinks (at least) that I've been able to count, and that's only "on stage."  Who knows how many other drinks he's having outside of the narrative?

Oh, and WTF with this dialogue?

 

Quinn came over to refill his glass.  He looked towards the bedroom door.  "Where'd you find the little blonde?"

"Used to bounce it on my knee."

"Which knee?" he asked.  "Could I touch it?"


Um... No.

Okay, I should probably pay attention to the actual story now...

 

 



Progress on 9/16/17:  5 of 201 pages (2%)

Finally getting around to starting this book, and since it feels fairly bite-sized, I might finish it soon... depending on how I like it--this is a new genre for me after all.

The first chapter feels a little awkward, as it gives me the feeling I just walked in on a group conversation, though it is the first chapter.

At least two drinks were had so far.  I'm tempted to keep a tally, bur from what everyone else's updates have been showing, I might lose track.  Still... I'm tempted to try.  XD

 

 



Progress on 9/15/17:  0 of 201 pages (0%)

I intend to join the group read for this book.  I really do.  But before then, I'm determined to finish the Victoria Holt book I already started, so I'm going to be a bit behind everyone else on the group read thing.  Meanwhile, I'm simply going to try not to read too many of everyone else's updates...

Although, it seems as if I'm not missing much so far--something about alcoholics and cannibal sandwiches...

 

 


 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/collective-reading-updates-thin-man.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Update #3 - Week Two Down!
 
Halloween Bingo 2017



Taking a page from Themis-Athena, I decided to include my "virgin" bingo card to each update post as a reference; Red Eyes Penni does manage to cover up the entire square, after all, which will make it a bit confusing, being unable to see where each square is.  On that note, I will preface each update post with the unmarked card as part of my intro.

Today we start reading The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett for the Bingo September Group Read.  For more information, I have included a link to the discussion thread and other related links in the appropriate section below.  I assume we'll be reading some form of "thin man buddy read" or something like that.  I haven't exactly started reading the book myself, as I'm determined to finish On the Night of the Seventh Moon before starting into a new book--so far, engrossingly hooking, even while I'm completely frustrated with the main heroine.

Werewolves and Witches were the last two Bingo calls, and the truth is, I hadn't quite decided on books for those two squares, so this might be a little tricky.  Then again, I haven't even caught up with the other squares that have been called yet... and yeah, I know, I don't have to read in order of squares called, but I like having a guide sometimes, and this is working.

Except that the next book I want to start (after cracking The Thin Man's spine) is actually going on be Dear Maggie for the Serial/Spree Killer square, for my own reasons.

So no.  Nothing I decide makes any iota of sense.  Ah well...

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 


Called Square:  Green Square Border
Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni
Called and Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni in a Green Box

See also the table below for some spreadsheet goodness.  Still looks a little chunky, but I decreased the font, bolded the links, and tried to widen the columns a bit more.  I suck at computers...

Reviews pending:  Blue Dahlia; Garden of Lies

 

Squares/Books/Called Dates/Other Links:


Progress:  8 squares called || 6 books read || 3 squares completed || 0 BINGOs

Bingo Calls Thread

September Group Read | Discussion Thread
October Group Read (link coming soon)

 

Bingo Square
Called (date)
Title
Author
Read (Date)
How it Fits
             
 
Magical realism
 
Saving Fish From Drowning
Tan, Amy
 
tagged 'magical realism' on GR
 
Classic noir
 
The Thin Man
Hammett, Dashiel
 
hard-boiled, classic noir mystery & group read
Ghost
1-Sep
Blue Dahlia
Roberts, Nora
14-Sep
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Supernatural
 
Arnett, Mindee
7-Sep
supernatural school for magic creatures
 
Diverse voices
 
The Lotus Palace
Lin, Jeannie
 
author is Chinese
             
Cozy mystery
3-Sep
Peters, Elizabeth
7-Sep
tagged 'cozy mystery' on GR
 
Witches
13-Sep
Protecting His Witch
Forward, Zoe
 
female MC is a witch
 
Vampires
 
The Dead Travel Fast
Raybourn, Deanna
 
Transylvania and vampires
 
Country house mystery
 
The Decagon House Murders
Ayatsuji, Yukito
 
closed circle of suspects
 
Haunted houses
 
Black Rose
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride haunts mansion
             
 
Aliens
 
Castle, Jayne
3-Sep
dust bunnies!!
 
Genre: horror
7-Sep
Smoke and Mirrors
Gaiman, Neil
 
tagged 'horror' on GR
 
Free Space
N/A
Red Lily
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Monsters
 
Her Fierce Warrior
Tyler, Paige
 
female MC is an animal shifter
 
In the dark, dark woods
5-Sep
On the Night of the Seventh Moon
Holt, Victoria
 
woods are significant
             
 
Amateur sleuth
 
Just Past Midnight
Stevens, Amanda
 
female MC is a psychologist
 
Werewolves
15-Sep
Jaxson
Woods, Alisa
 
book about wolf shifters
 
Gothic
 
The Splendour Falls
Kearsley, Susanna
 
tagged 'gothic' on GR
 
Romantic suspense
 
Hit and Run
Brennan, Allison
 
romance + suspense + mystery present
 
Darkest London
 
Garden of Lies
Quick, Amanda
12-Sep
setting = Victorian London
             
 
Murder most foul
11-Sep
Every Secret Thing
Cole, Emma
 
there is a murder and a mystery
 
Serial/spree killer
 
Dear Maggie
Novak, Brenda
 
summary mentions serial killer
 
Classic horror
       
October Classic horror group read
 
Terrifying women
 
Nine Coaches Waiting
Stewart, Mary
 
horror/gothic written by a woman
Locked room mystery
9-Sep
Shimada, Soji
10-Sep
death/murder in a locked room

 

 

Currently Reading:

 

 

 

Tentative Bingo Hopefuls:


Magical Realism:  Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
Classic Noir:  The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

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

Aliens:  Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle
Genre: Horror:  Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Free Space:  Red Lily Nora Roberts
Monsters:  Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt

Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
Werewolves:  Undecided
Gothic:  The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
Darkest London:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
Classic Horror:  Undecided
Terrifying Women:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Locked Room Mystery:  The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/halloween-bingo-2017-update-3-week-two.html
Review
4 Stars
Random Thoughts: The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Detective Mitarai's Casebook) - Shika MacKenzie, Soji Shimada, Ross MacKenzie

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
by Soji Shimada

 

 

Japan, 1936. An old eccentric artist living with seven women has been found dead--in a room locked from the inside.  His diaries reveal alchemy, astrology and a complicated plan to kill all seven women.  Shortly afterwards, the plan is carried out: the women are found dismembered and buried across rural Japan.

By 1979, these Tokyo Zodiac Murders have been obsessing a nation for decades, but not one of them has been solved.  A mystery-obsessed illustrator and a talented astrologer set off around the country--and you follow, carrying the enigma of the Zodiac murderer through madness, missed leads and magic tricks.  You have all the clues, but can you solve the mystery before they do?



I'm not entirely sure I know what I want to say about this book.

The truth is that while it was easy to become completely immersed into our two main characters' discussion and dissection of the Zodiac Murders that occurred forty years prior to the book's 1979 setting, I had also found I had a hard time keeping up with some of the deductions tossed out by our main astrological detective, Kiyoshi Mitarai.  I honestly have to admit, I was confounded by all the clues--maybe I'm just not made out to be a detective.

I was as confused as the narrator, Kazumi Ishioka, and found myself truly wondering how Kiyoshi had come to certain conclusions.

I had a slight inkling of what kind of person might be the culprit behind the Zodiac Murders, but I was flummoxed by how the act could have been committed, as well as who exactly could have been the murderer.

Of course, when we get into the "Kiyoshi Reveals All" part of the conclusion, I can see how cleverly the entire thing was constructed.  I didn't see it coming, but I see how it all worked.

I liked the build-up and introduction of the Zodiac Murders--the first half of the book consisted of Kazumi giving Kiyoshi the rundown of the case, what happened forty years ago, and some brief background on the victims and suspects.  By all rights, this should have felt like a massive infodump, but with Kiyoshi's random interjections and color commentary, it was actually quite amusing to follow.

The second half of the book, wherein Kiyoshi finally gets serious and goes out to do some of his own investigating might have lost me a little bit, since I'm not entirely sure if a whole lot was accomplished aside from a nice visit to Kyoto.  The visual of the cherry blossoms was lovely, and the mentions of some Japanese foods made my mouth water.  I know... this is a book about a grotesque serial murder...

But I appreciated some of the random tangents, even if I thought that Kiyoshi might have gotten a bit overly dramatic at some points.

A couple other points that came to mind:

  • The talk about longitude and latitude kind of lost me.  But there was an obvious emphasis on the depths at which the girls were buried that got me thinking, even if I couldn't figure out the significance.
  • The ending came off as kind of sad, in a heartbreaking way, when the culprit is revealed, and the reasons why, as well as a few other things that were mentioned.  Explaining why I felt a pang of sadness, however, would reveal the identity of the culprit, and I hope I didn't already say too much.


Overall, The Tokyo Zodiac Murders was a very excellently outlined story.  And while I DID find the cheek at Sherlock Holmes a bit amusing (I've only read a few Sherlock stories), I also kind of found Kiyoshi's snub at famous fictional detectives a bit overmuch--like, I couldn't figure out if he was sincerely ignorant of the mentioned names while making fun, or if he was just being arrogant and sarcastic.

The truth is, it was a bit hard to tell sometimes if Kiyoshi was being sarcastic or not, but he sure as heck DID come off arrogant, even when he had a few sheepish moments.  I DID like the interaction between him and Kazumi, though; it somehow came off quite endearing.


***

 

Halloween Bingo 2017


Other Possible Squares:

  • Murder Most Foul:  For obvious reasons.
  • Amateur Sleuth:  Kiyoshi is an astrology professor (?) and Kazumi is an artist.
  • Serial/spree killer (?):  To be honest, the murders in this book seem more in line with a mass murder than serial killings, but the term serial killing had been used, so I'm not entirely sure about this one.
  • Diverse Voices:  And, of course, because this book was written by a Japanese author and set in Japan, translated into English for those of us who haven't yet learned how to fluently read kanji, hiragana, and katakana.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/random-thoughts-tokyo-zodiac-murders.html
Starting: Every Secret Thing
Every Secret Thing - Susanna Kearsley, Emma Cole, Katherine Kellgren

Every Secret Thing
by Susanna Kearsley
Book 1 of Kate Murray
audio book narrated by Katherine Kellgren


Susanna Kearsley and Katherine Kellgren!

This HAS to be a most excellent combination, right?  Right?

Also, I didn't realize that Katherine Kellgren was American.  I thought she was British since I've only heard her narrations in a British accent.  So far, it's quite fascinating listening to her switching back and forth from American English to British English.

As for the book, so far there is only a mention of an old murder mystery from a long time ago by an old man who dies soon after, getting hit by a car.  He mentions it to Kate because he believes this murder mystery may be old, but still deserves justice.

I'm hoping that this is enough to count towards the 'Murder Most Foul' square, but if not, then I'm almost hoping that the old man's death was actually a murder, which will be what leads Kate onto this mission to investigate some past truth of that old murder mystery the old man had mentioned to her.  Y'know, not that I'm deranged or anything, hoping for a murder in the first five minutes of a book... but I've got squares to complete, right?


***

 

Halloween Bingo 2017

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/starting-every-secret-thing.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Quick Thoughts: The Nightmare Charade
The Nightmare Charade - Mindee Arnett, Cassandra Morris

The Nightmare Charade
by Mindee Arnett
Book 3 (final) of The Arkwell Academy
audio book narrated by Cassandra Morris

 

 

It’s her junior year at Arkwell Academy, and Dusty Everhart just wants to be alone with her boyfriend, Eli Booker.  But fate is literally keeping them apart.  See, Dusty is a Nightmare, who can enter Eli’s dreams to find clues to the future, but an ancient curse predicts that any romance between them is doomed to end in tragedy.  Dusty and Eli are willing to take that risk, but the authorities disagree—and have assigned a chaperone to make sure their relationship is strictly platonic.

As if that’s not bad enough, they’ve been recruited by the Department of Intelligence for Magickind Secrecy (D.I.M.S.) to use their dream-seer bond to help recover the most powerful object of black magic known to magickind.  The Animus Mortem can raise the dead by stealing the souls of the living…which makes tracking it down a genuine matter of life and death.

To make matters worse, one of Dusty’s friends is accused of murder and is counting on her to clear his name.

Dusty has too many dreams, too many commitments, and too many people looking over her shoulder, but a Nightmare seldom plays by the rules.  Curse or no curse, chaperone or not, she has to go deep into Eli’s dreams if she’s going to find the truth—and discover a way for them to truly be together at last!



The concluding book of this young adult Arkwell Academy is a pretty great round up of the trilogy altogether.  My thoughts about this last book is really no different than what I'd thought of the first two books:  The Nightmare Charade is very enjoyable, and it has a lot of great potential to expand upon its world.  I still feel like it's missing something to make it rank more in the awesome category, but I DO have to give the book props for managing to keep my attention so well.  Whether that's because it's a mystery, or simply because of how easy it is to read, I'm not sure; however, I DO know that I gleaned a good amount of entertainment from it, and even got some feels wrenched out of me towards the end.

The truth, though, is that there is little about this book I can think of to complain about.  Maybe that Dusty still seems so easy to push around by her teachers and her ex-boyfriend.  Or maybe that there were some moments wherein I got a little lost as to what was going on (although that could have been because I was listening to the audio book and lost focus at some points).  The ending certainly felt a little more angst-ridden than I would have liked, but I sort of saw it coming miles away.

The main villain--the guy who killed the previous book's villain, as well as kidnaps two Nightmares--was a bit of a surprise to me, however, and I DID find myself a bit blindsided; though whether this was in a good way, or a bad way... I'm really not sure.

Once again, the characters, our kids, are great when they get together to investigate the murder and kidnappings--Dream Team, indeed.  I'm just glad there's so much camaraderie between our main couple and their "side-kick" best friends.

And maybe I've thought of one more thing to quibble about:  Our two main characters kind of fall flat compared to the two "side-kicks," if I were really to be honest with myself.  Dusty has a way of sounding kind of dull in her narration, and aside from the fact that Eli isn't a typical, young adult novel broody teenage boy, he's actually a bit ordinary and boring.  While it's true that I like that he's not the standard YA main male character, I also wish there was more to him in this book--he feels less interesting than he did in previous books.

In contrast, Lance and Selene are both pretty awesome and cool, especially Selene with her badassery, trying out for the Gladiator team and flying around with her Siren wings, owning the battle with just her badass, badassery alone...  Selene was always a great character from the beginning, and I love that she stays true, as the supportive best friend throughout.

Note to author:  Selene needs her own book.

As far as the romance between Eli and Dusty is concerned, while I'm glad that the two of them never faltered in their feelings or their determination to be together in spite of the Dream Seer Curse, I DID feel like Dusty dwelt a little too much on Eli and their love and their entire "Fated to be Torn Apart" scenario.

Otherwise, The Nightmare Charade is still a readily enjoyable book that doesn't have all those over-exhausted YA cliches to bog it down.  I'm certainly content with what I got out of it, book, series, and all!


***

Halloween Bingo 2017


This book may also work for these other squares:

  • Murder Most Foul:  The murder actually happens off-stage, and only mentioned at the beginning of the book, so this might be a stretch.
  • Amateur Sleuth:  Dusty, Eli, Selene, and Lance are definitely not law enforcement, as young teenage students investigating a murder, a kidnapping, and the possible rebirth of an old nemesis.
  • Monsters:  There are any number of creatures mentioned in this book, including Dusty, who is a Nightmare (or a half-kind Nightmare), which is a creature who feeds on people's dreams.  Then there is Selene, who is a Siren; and a phoenix is even presented; mermaids are mentioned... I mean, basically, The Arkwell Academy is a school for different kinds of magic creatures.  (On a separate note, I may or may not use this book for the Monsters square instead, depending on my mood.)

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/quick-thoughts-nightmare-charade.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Brief Thoughts: The Camelot Caper
The Camelot Caper - Elizabeth Peters

The Camelot Caper
by Elizabeth Peters
Book #0.5 of Vicky Bliss

 

 

For Jessica Tregarth, an unexpected invitation to visit her grandfather in England is a wonderful surprise--an opportunity to open doors to a family past that have always been closed to her.  But sinister acts greet her arrival.

A stranger tries to steal her luggage and later accosts her in Salisbury Cathedral.  Mysterious villains pursue her through Cornwall, their motive and intentions unknown.  Jessica's only clue is an antique heirloom she possesses, an ancient ring that bears the Tregarth family crest.

And her only ally is handsome Gothic novelist David Randall--her self-proclaimed protector--who appears from seemingly out of nowhere to help her in her desperate--attempt to solve a five hundred-year-old puzzle.  For something from out of the cloudy mists of Arthurian lore has come back to plague a frightened American abroad.  And a remarkable truth about a fabled king and a medieval treasure could ultimately make Jess Tregarth very rich...or very dead..



A lot goes on in this book, and a lot of it is so nonsensical that I had a hard time keeping up.  But that's not to say I didn't have fun, because I DID find the entire situation a bit amusing.  Even our main male character, David, eventually points out that the whole fiasco is kind of playing out like some sort of farce.

None of the characters act like some dire situation is going on, which gave the entire story a bit of a comedic flair... even if the attempted humor was a more eye-rolling "I'm not sure what's going on here" type of comedy.  Some of it was rather clever, but some of it went over my head.

And while I have a feeling that David constantly calling Jess names like "fool" or "you idiot" or "you mucker" or the like, was supposed to be taken in good humor, I actually got quite annoyed by it.  Jess will also lob a few things back at him, like insulting his speed racer driving, but I'm not sure that's enough to put them on equal ground with the insults... though, I suppose it will have to suffice for a book originally written in 1969.

Nonetheless, the entire progression of the book was fairly forward moving, even with all the strange twists and turns we take, as the characters run around small towns in England with no actual destination.

Basically there's just a lot of nonsensical happenings as our main characters try to figure out what's going on:  Why Cousin John is after Jess?  What's the significance of the ring she has, given to her by her father who walked away with it when he was disowned?  Why does her grandfather suddenly want it back?

The two villains are made out to be incompetent, but somehow keep catching up with Jess and David.  David spends more time being overly creative about the situation with his writer's mind.  Jess spends more time trying to get some sight-seeing in.  There are Arthurian tidbits thrown in, and even some snark at romance, specifically Gothic romance, authors and books.

All-in-all, I found this pretty entertaining, even if not the best book in the world.  But I will definitely continue reading from Elizabeth Peters when I can get my hands on more books.

On a side note, I'm not entirely sure why this book is marked as part of the Vicky Bliss series, though I suppose I'll find out when I go to read the actual first book of said series?


***

Halloween Bingo 2017

  

Other squares this book might count for:

  • Amateur Sleuth:  Okay, so no murder actually happens in this book, but there's a mystery going on that our protagonists need to solve.  I don't know what Jess does for a living, but it definitely isn't crime fighting; David is a writer.
  • Romantic Suspense (?):  This might almost fit this category if there was a little more romance, but as it is, the romance scenes feel a bit hidden, and you miss them if you blink...  But it's sort of there if you squint hard enough.
  • Gothic (?):  This book is not tagged Gothic at GR, but I'm almost inclined to say that it's got some elements of a Gothic novel once our character reach Cornwall--and also, there's some cheek at Gothic romance authors and novels.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/brief-thoughts-camelot-caper.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Update #2 -- One Week In!



My reading mood always surprises me.  When I think I'm going to spend some time finishing up The Camelot Caper, then putting some time into The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, I end up listening to all of The Nightmare Charade whilst playing such computer games as 'Plants vs. Zombies' or 'Garden Defense.'

But no matter, I had been expecting The Tokyo Zodiac Murders to be a slow burn of a read--which is surprising considering how easy it is to read, and how quickly others seem to be finishing it.  But I did eventually finish The Camelot Caper this first week of Bingo--I'm still trying to find the time to start reading Blue Dahlia for the first called square, 'Ghosts,' but this is proving futile.  I think that until I finish The Tokyo Zodiac Murders I'm going to have a hard time moving onto another book, so we'll have to do as much.

Meanwhile, I'm starting a new audio book, Garden of Lies, and wondering what e-book to move onto next as well.

With The Camelot Caper read for the 'Cozy Mystery' square, I have my very first completed Bingo square.  Now to figure out how to get my next one.

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 


This Halloween Bingo card is brought to you by 'Red Eyes Penni,' who will be marking the squares I have already read books for.  Squares that have been called will be marked with a green square border.  So squares I have completed (read and called) will have a Red Eyes Penni inside a green border.

Each square on my Bingo card are listed in the spreadsheet below, separated into groups of five for each row.

The book titles in the spreadsheet below will link to my review of the book.  I will have reviews out for The Camelot Caper and The Nightmare Charade soon, and will update accordingly.


Squares/Books/Called Dates/Other Links:


Progress:  3 books read || 0 BINGOs

Bingo Calls Thread

September Group Read | Discussion Thread (link coming soon)
October Group Read (link coming soon)

Bingo Square
Called (date)
Title
Author
Read (Date)
How it Fits
             
 
Magical realism
 
Saving Fish From Drowning
Tan, Amy
 
tagged 'magical realism' on GR
 
Classic noir
 
The Thin Man
Hammett, Dashiel
 
hard-boiled, classic noir mystery
 
Ghost
1-Sep
Blue Dahlia
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Supernatural
 
The Nightmare Charade
Arnett, Mindee
7-Sep
supernatural school for magic creatures
 
Diverse voices
 
The Lotus Palace
Lin, Jeannie
 
author is Chinese
             
Cozy mystery
3-Sep
The Camelot Caper
Peters, Elizabeth
7-Sep
tagged 'cozy mystery' on GR
 
Witches
         
 
Vampires
 
The Dead Travel Fast
Raybourn, Deanna
 
Transylvania and vampires
 
Country house mystery
 
The Decagon House Murders
Ayatsuji, Yukito
 
closed circle of suspects
 
Haunted houses
 
Black Rose
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride haunts mansion
             
 
Aliens
 
Castle, Jayne
3-Sep
dust bunnies!!
 
Genre: horror
7-Sep
Smoke and Mirrors
Gaiman, Neil
 
tagged 'horror' on GR
 
Free Space
N/A
Red Lily
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Monsters
 
Her Fierce Warrior
Tyler, Paige
 
female MC is an animal shifter
 
In the dark, dark woods
5-Sep
On the Night of the Seventh Moon
Holt, Victoria
 
woods are significant
             
 
Amateur sleuth
 
Just Past Midnight
Stevens, Amanda
 
female MC is a psychologist
 
Werewolves
 
Jaxson
Woods, Alisa
 
book about wolf shifters
 
Gothic
 
The Splendour Falls
Kearsley, Susanna
 
tagged 'gothic' on GR
 
Romantic suspense
 
Hit and Run
Brennan, Allison
 
romance + suspense + mystery present
 
Darkest London
 
Garden of Lies
Quick, Amanda
 
setting = Victorian London
             
 
Murder most foul
 
Every Secret Thing
Cole, Emma
 
there is a murder and a mystery
 
Serial/spree killer
 
Dear Maggie
Novak, Brenda
 
summary mentions serial killer
 
Classic horror
         
 
Terrifying women
 
Nine Coaches Waiting
Stewart, Mary
 
horror/gothic written by a woman
 
Locked room mystery
 
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
Shimada, Soji
 
death/murder in a locked room

 

 

Currently Reading:

 

 

 

Tentative Bingo Hopefuls:


Magical Realism:  Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
Classic Noir:  The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

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

Aliens:  Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle
Genre: Horror:  Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Free Space:  Red Lily Nora Roberts
Monsters:  Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt

Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
Werewolves:  Undecided
Gothic:  The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
Darkest London:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
Classic Horror:  Undecided
Terrifying Women:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Locked Room Mystery:  Undecided

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/halloween-bingo-2017-update-2-one-week.html
COYER Summer 2017 | Reading List Wrap Up!
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.

 

 

An Overall Summary for Ani's COYER


I'm going to call it quits a few days early for COYER this year.  I think I've hit all I can hit for my Summer Reading List, and with Halloween Bingo starting up, I'm having trouble multi-tasking both of these challenges.  I'm really just too eager to dive into my Halloween Bingo reads, so much so that I'm not even glancing at my COYER reading list anymore to see what else I should try to read.

Anyway, I still feel like I've gotten quite a bit accomplished.  I read 23 books total for the overall challenge, including books I added after each five books I finished reading.  16 books were part of the original thirty, and if I only count the original thirty books that started the reading list, I've at least accomplished reading a little over 50% of my list.  Even as a total, I've finished reading a little over 50%.

It's not the goal I had in mind, but it's still a pretty good accomplishment, I feel, to have been able to knock 23 books off of my "already owned" bookshelves, both digital and physical.  On top of that, I've reached my Mount TBR Challenge goal of reading 36 books on my "already owned" bookshelves for this year.

A list of all the books I had wanted to read, with links to all my reviews can be found below.

Overall, I think COYER was a great success for me this year--what with my "Laid Back Reading Plans" and all, I think I kept up pretty well.

Until next year!  Because I normally only participate in the summer COYERs since they're the more laid back ones.

 

 

Other Related Update Posts


Summer Reading List Thons
June 25th to July 2 ~ e-books only | Wrap Up
July 23rd to July 30 ~ physical books only | Wrap Up
August 20th to August 27th ~ audio and e-books only | Wrap Up

 

 

Ani's COYER Summer Reading List


See Also: COYER Summer Reading List @ GR
See Also: COYER Summer Reading List current review link-up page
Progress:  23 books read

 

  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 -- 8/23/2017
  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 -- 8/25/2017
  9. Hot Package by Lynn Raye Harris -- 8/27/2017
  10. SEAL's Honor by Elle James
  11. On the Loose by Tara Janzen -- 7/27/2017
  12. Cutting Loose by Tara Janzen -- 7/29/2017
  13. The Mysterious Twin by Leona Karr -- 6/23/2017
  14. Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly -- 7/31/2017
  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 -- 8/9/2017
  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 -- 7/27/2017
  25. That's Amore anthology - Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, Leslie Kelly
  26. Bare Essentials duo-story anthology - Jill Shalvis, Leslie Kelly -- 8/14/2017
  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 -- 8/1/2017
  2. Breaking Loose by Tara Janzen -- 8/4/2017
  3. Loose Ends by Tara Janzen -- 8/6/2017
  4. Ghost Horse by Patricia Rosemoor
  5. Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood


(Added on 7/29/2017)

  1. Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
  2. Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
  3. The Trouble With Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis -- 8/15/2017
  4. One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis -- 8/17/2017
  5. Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis


(Added on 8/9/2017)

  1. One Night With Her Boss by Noelle Adams -- 8/14/2017
  2. Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayers
  3. Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
  4. Wild Wicked Scot by Julia London
  5. Her Special Alpha by Paige Tyler -- 8/25/2017


As of 8/23/2017 -- As the end of COYER Summer Vacation draws near, I've decided to stop adding books to my COYER list and try to focus on what I have left instead.  I haven't been getting through these books very quickly anyway, so we'll leave it at that.

(Note, as of 7/20/17, I have removed the spinny wheel.  It has not really been helping me any.)

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/coyer-summer-2017-reading-list-wrap-up.html
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Update #1 - First book read!

So I didn't get as much reading as I would have preferred over the Labor Day Weekend.  Being out of town was a fifty-fifty chance of getting some reading done, or getting no reading done, and at least I've made some progress.

 

I may or may not share some pictures of our family weekend in Dallas, Texas, visiting with my eldest brother and his friends.  Let's just say, there was a lot of food involved... and three puppies... well, really, only one of the dogs was a puppy, the other two just acted like puppies!

 

 

Meanwhile, here's a very quick update of my Halloween Bingo progress.  Although, be forewarned:  I've been lazy lately, so I will probably not be making very frequent updates--I might just limit myself to once a week, or once every two weeks... or wait until I get a Bingo or... I don't know.

 

Anyway, I've already talked about what markers I will be using, and decided to do a combination of some Peek-a-Boo Penni Penguin close-ups, and maybe one of Baby with his glowing gold eyes as my markers, for books that have been read.  Taking a page from Tannat, I will be using a simple colored border for squares that have been called.

 

A completed square will have a combination of colored border and Penni marker.

 

So as we can see below, I've managed to finish reading one book already, though to be honest, I hadn't really intended to use Canyons of Night for Bingo at all until I gave it some thought after finishing it over the weekend.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask to see if it would fit the 'Alien' square, and since it does, I'm super happy!  Now just to kick back and wait for the square to be called for a completion!  =D

 

 

 

 

Here is also my nifty spreadsheet, which I spent WAY too much time trying to figure out how to make presentable in a blog.  Since I use Google Sheets instead of Excel, the formatting and transfer of the spreadsheet to the blog has been giving me grief.  Formatting is limited in Google Sheets, but I'm much too cheap to buy Excel right now, and I've been using Google Sheets as my main book-tracking spreadsheets since at least 2014.

 

 

Bingo Square
Called (date)
Title
Author
Read (Date)
How it Fits
             
 
Magical realism
 
Saving Fish From Drowning
Tan, Amy
 
tagged 'magical realism' on GR
 
Classic noir
 
The Thin Man
Hammett, Dashiel
 
hard-boiled, classic noir mystery
 
Ghost
9/1
Blue Dahlia
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Supernatural
 
The Nightmare Charade
Arnett, Mindee
 
supernatural school for magic creatures
 
Diverse voices
 
The Lotus Palace
Lin, Jeannie
 
author is Chinese
             
 
Cozy mystery
9/3
The Camelot Caper
Peters, Elizabeth
 
tagged 'cozy mystery' on GR
 
Witches
         
 
Vampires
 
The Dead Travel Fast
Raybourn, Deanna
 
Transylvania and vampires
 
Country house mystery
 
The Decagon House Murders
Ayatsuji, Yukito
 
closed circle of suspects
 
Haunted houses
 
Black Rose
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride haunts mansion
             
 
Aliens
 
Castle, Jayne
9/3
dust bunnies!!
 
Genre: horror
 
Smoke and Mirrors
Gaiman, Neil
 
tagged 'horror' on GR
 
Free Space
N/A
Red Lily
Roberts, Nora
 
ghostly Harper Bride
 
Monsters
 
Her Fierce Warrior
Tyler, Paige
 
female MC is an animal shifter
 
In the dark, dark woods
 
On the Night of the Seventh Moon
Holt, Victoria
 
woods are significant
             
 
Amateur sleuth
 
Just Past Midnight
Stevens, Amanda
 
female MC is a psychologist
 
Werewolves
 
Jaxson
Woods, Alisa
 
book about wolf shifters
 
Gothic
 
The Splendour Falls
Kearsley, Susanna
 
tagged 'gothic' on GR
 
Romantic suspense
 
Hit and Run
Brennan, Allison
 
romance + suspense + mystery present
 
Darkest London
 
Garden of Lies
Quick, Amanda
 
setting = Victorian London
             
 
Murder most foul
 
Every Secret Thing
Cole, Emma
 
there is a murder and a mystery
 
Serial/spree killer
 
Dear Maggie
Novak, Brenda
 
summary mentions serial killer
 
Classic horror
         
 
Terrifying women
 
Nine Coaches Waiting
Stewart, Mary
 
horror/gothic written by a woman
 
Locked room mystery
 
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
Shimada, Soji
 
death/murder in a locked room

 

  

Books Currently Reading:

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada | Locked Room Mystery

The Camelot Caper by Elizabeth Peters | Cozy Mystery

 

Next Up:

Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts | Ghost

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett | Classic Noir

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Quick Thoughts: Canyons of Night
Canyons of Night (Arcane Society,#12)(Harmony, #8)(Looking Glass Trilogy,#3) - Jayne Castle

Canyons of Night
by Jayne Castle
Book 8 of Harmony
-- Book 12 of Arcane Society
-- Book 3 (final) of Looking Glass Trilogy
-- Book 0 of Rainshadow

 

 

Charlotte Enright, owner of a small antiques shop called Looking Glass Antiques on Rainshadow Island, and Slade Attridge, the community's new chief of police, both have something in common: they possess strong paranormal talents.

They met several years ago when they were in their teens spending the summer on the island.  Slade saved Charlotte from a gang of drunken toughs, but then at the end of the summer Slade and Charlotte went their separate ways and started their adult lives.

Now, fifteen years later, they have both been drawn back to Rainshadow Island.  They will discover the adult passion they have for each other and start to explore some of the mysteries of the forbidden section of the island known only as the Preserve.



Canyons of Night rounds out the Looking Glass sub-trilogy of the long-running Arcane Society series.  I assume this is also the last book in the Arcane series, though it's usually hard to tell with long-running series like this.  Nonetheless, it is also an introductory story into a new chapter of the Harmony series, called Rainshadow--we already get to see a little bit of what Rainshadow is all about, starting with the island and the Preserve situated on the island.

I look forward to the rest of the Rainshadow installments, if only because it seems like it'll be an intriguing new development to the futuristic series.

As a JAK novel, of course, this book is highly enjoyable during the reading.  The characters are great, and the community mirrors that of a small town in the U.S., with everyone knowing everyone's business, and all the people on Rainshadow Island kind of policing themselves.

Our main male and female MCs are good people, although they don't really stand out all that much, and I really hate to admit that even Slade's dust bunny companion, Rex, seems a bit flat as well.  I liked that we've kind of returned back to a semi-murder mystery type of story, and have sort of veered off from the ongoing "band of rogue psychics" conspiracy that has been happening in the Arcane parts of the connecting series.

Harmony is a series separate from Arcane after all, even if there are some intersecting story lines, with references from historical, to contemporary, to futuristic.  I always find the references to 21st century Earth as a "point in history" kind of amusing.

Meanwhile, aside from some more references to glass light energy, the words 'looking glass', and Mrs. Bridewell's clockwork curiosities being used as psi-weapons, I'm honestly not sure that these past three books really needed to be connected as a trilogy.

If there were one (or two) things I'd like to see more of in this series, it would be more insight into the alien civilization that has vanished, maybe some introductions to more alien beasts than just the dust bunnies.  It seems hard to reconcile that all alien live save for dust bunnies have somehow gone extinct.

I would have also have liked to see and learn more about the Bridewell clockwork curiosities, and feel as if the Quicksilver mirror, or glass light energy is more significant than it's kind of being made out to be.  The previous sub-trilogy was all about the dreamlight, but glass light is only barely touched upon in the contemporary and now the futuristic novels of this trilogy--really, only the historical part of the trilogy gave glass light more than just a passing thought.

Otherwise, like I've said before, JAK novels are always entertaining and easy to breeze right through.


***

 

Halloween Bingo 2017

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/quick-thoughts-canyons-of-night.html
Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- August 2017

First of all, I had intended to have this as a scheduled post because I wasn't sure if I'd have time to get it posted in a timely manner after August was over.  Or... well, in a timely manner for me.  Truthfully, if I really wanted to, I could just push it off until after Labor Day weekend and no one would really be concerned anyway.

Meanwhile, my plans for the weekend, reading-wise, can be found at this update post here.

Other news about the weekend will be forthcoming.

I'm hoping to be able to check into Booklikes randomly to see how the beginning of Halloween Bingo is going, how everyone's reading is going, and which squares are being called.

In other reading news, I managed to reach my goal for one other reading challenge, this month--the Mount TBR reading challenge, in which I proposed to read 36 books from my 'already owned' TBR shelves.  This challenge will only count books that I owned prior to 2017, so I'm making headway on this challenge; so, yay!

Meanwhile, I also completed my goal for the Author Love challenge, where I proposed to finish reading at least seven books by an author I happen to love--my pick was Jill Shalvis, and I've already gone one more book beyond my goal of seven.

All sorts of accomplishments in August!

 

 

August Reads

 

 

 

Books Dropped/Put On Hold

 

 

Colder Than Ice by Maggie Shayne -- Undecided for Hold or Drop

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

August Reading Stats

 

Total works read: 20

  • 8 print/e-book novels
  • 4 novellas (one was an audio book)
  • 1 short story
  • 6 audio books (one was a novella)
  • 1 anthology


Average rating: 3.20 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  4 books // 4.0 Stars
    • (1) Loose Ends by Tara Janzen
    • (2) Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
    • (3) In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
    • (4) Quicksilver by Amanda Quick
  • Lowest Rated:  2 books // 2.0 Stars
    • (1) One Night with her Boss by Noelle Adams
    • (2) The Lady Most Likely... by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

 

 

Series I started reading:

  • Mordecai Young by Maggie Shayne
  • Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt
  • Lady Most... by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway

 

Series I completed:

  • Steele Street by Tara Janzen

 

Series I have made progress on:

  • Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
  • One Night novellas by Noelle Adams
  • Heartbreaker Bay by Jill Shalvis
  • Arcane Society / Harmony by Jayne Ann Krentz / Amanda Quick / Jayne Castle
  • X-Ops by Paige Tyler
  • Hostile Operations Team by Lynn Raye Harris

 

 

Favorite reads:  Really, I don't feel like a whole lot of books read in August stood out too much, but my highest ratings went to Loose EndsWicked IntentionsIn Too Deep, and Quicksilver, as we can see above.  Wicked Intentions stood out as very well written and extremely enjoyable and entertaining as an audio book.  In Too Deep and Quicksilver were just typical Jayne Ann Krentz goodness.  Loose Ends was an exciting conclusion to a long series.

Disappointing reads:  My biggest disappointment was probably Maggie Shayne's Thicker Than Water, if only because I was hoping for something similar to her Brown and de Luca series, but didn't quite get it.  I had been hoping to breeze through the Mordecai Young trilogy, but kind of lost any interest in continuing.  I suppose I could always come back to it later.

 

 

Reviews & Notable Posts

 

Reviews Written

 

Memes

 

Other Posts

 

 

 

Coming Up In September

 

Tentative TBR

 

 

Other Stuff

With Halloween Bingo starting up this month, I'm not entirely certain which books will be read in September and which books will be read in October.  I'm half decided that I wanted to just try follow the Bingo calls every other day and start reading my books in that order.  And if a square is called that I don't have, I can either try to finish up my reads, or read something not part of Halloween Bingo, or read ahead and try to have some books read for certain spaces while I wait for a square to be called.

Or something.

But having some library books that need to be returned in a timely manner... well that threw a kink in my initial plans.  Instead, I think I need to just get read the library books first.

Meanwhile, the books I've presented for my tentative September TBR are certainly books that I DO plan on reading for September.  The Thin Man will be for a group read at Booklikes, for Halloween Bingo, and we will start reading on September 15th.  Her Fierce Warrior is another book in Paige Tyler's X-Ops series I want to get to, and also a book on my COYER list that I'd like to have read before the end of COYER rolls around, if possible.

I have The Camelot Caper as a library e-book borrow that need to be read so I can return it and not have to sit wait through another round of holds before I get to check it out again.

Then there's The Decagon House Murders of which I'm itching to start reading, if only because I've got myself hyped up to experience it.

September will hopefully be another great reading month, as well as blogging month.

 

 

2017 Wrap-Ups 

 

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

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

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/monthly-reading-wrap-up-august-2017.html
Review
4 Stars
Very Brief Thoughts: Quicksilver
Quicksilver: Book Two of the Looking Glass Trilogy - Amanda Quick

Quicksilver
by Amanda Quick
Book 11 of Arcane Society
-- Book 2 of Looking Glass Trilogy

 

 

Virginia Dean wakes at midnight beside a dead body, with a bloody knife in her hand and no memory of the evening's events.  Dark energy, emanating from the mirrors lining the room, overpowers her senses.  With no apparent way in or out, she is rescued by a man she has met only once before, but won't soon forget.

Owen Sweetwater inherited his family's talent for hunting the psychical monsters who prey on London's women and children, and his investigation into the deaths of two glass-readers has led him here.  The high-society types of the exclusive Arcane Society would consider Virginia an illusionist, a charlatan, even a criminal, but Owen knows better.  Virginia's powers are real-and they just might be the key to solving this challenging case.



Quicksilver was a very quick read, with the same Amanda Quick formula that I love to love.  Owen Sweetwater and Virginia Dean are good people with a penchant for hunting monsters.  Side characters are great and readily likable.  The action and suspense is exciting.  And the romance is sweet and steamy in all the right places.

I'm always intrigued by the new psychic spectrum energies that get introduced with each next book of the Arcane Society, and the truth is, I DO prefer this Looking Glass sub-trilogy more than I do the Dreamlight sub-trilogy--for one thing, this one doesn't require employing the same story line in three different time periods, unlike Dreamlight.  The contemporary time period introduced some important players and names to recognize when we jump to the Victorian era, but then we are also given even more information, and a more in depth look at how glass light is employed.

I think it's and interesting concept.

The Quicksilver Mirror comes into play, and even though we don't get to actually meet or learn more about Mrs. Bridewell, the woman who created some dangerous clockwork curiosities infused with psychic energy, used as weapons, we get to actually meet her as well.  I would have liked for Millicent Bridewell to have had a bigger role in this book, but you take what you can get.

While Amanda Quick books are never entirely memorable, they are certainly always enjoyable.  As I've said, I did love the characters.

So, Quicksilver, was pretty much just another lovely installation to this ongoing series, and I look forward to the futuristic portion of the story arc.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/very-brief-thoughts-quicksilver.html