Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

24 Festive Tasks | Door 2: Guy Fawkes Night
The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season

 

 

 

 

Updates


on 11/05/2018
Three tasks down in one go!  This is definitely a first for me.  In past years, I believe all I did was slack off and try to finish reading books.  hehe

 

Task 1


Burn a book in effigy. Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?
--11/05/2018

If I had to choose one I'd sacrifice, I've read a lot of books that probably should never have existed, but there are at least two books in my recollection that I had felt the need to toss across the room during the reading of it, or pound against my own forehead due to sheer frustration.

But I will choose this one:

 


This was not a terrible series, but it definitely could have done without this second book, and erased all the stupid, stupid, stupid things that the main heroine ends up doing to completely screw all the development she'd almost had at the end of the first book.

 

 

Task 2


List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books. Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.
-- 11/05/2018

I'm sure I can come up with a lot more crimes against books than three, but here are the ones that stand out most to me at this point.  And apparently, they're pretty in line with almost everyone else's I happened to glimpse already.

1) Burning books, because, WTF?

2) Defacing or damaging book in any purposeful way.  I especially do not, DO NOT like it when people take perfectly good books to create book art with--it's one of my biggest pet peeves, no matter HOW creative it looks.

3) Borrowing a book and either returning it damaged, or not returning it at all.  It also makes me tick when someone borrows a book, but sets it aside and keeps telling me that they haven't had time to get to it yet--it's not a big, big crime, but it DOES make me side-eye you every other time you want to borrow a book, and yet you haven't read the one I've already lent out.

 

Task 3


Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe for food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off).
-- 11/05/2018

So I don't know if this would be stretching the BBQ task, so if it is, I can always find something else to post.  But technically it's still grilling meat over a gas grill...

My family and I love going to Korean BBQ!  When our city first got a Korean barbecue restaurant, I was quite ecstatic, because my brothers had tried it before on a trip to Dallas (yes, without me because I couldn't go).  I went with my parents first and we really enjoyed the experience.  It was fun, and everything tastes delicious--what more can you ask for?

So, in a way, it's become one of our family's go-to places... even though my dad always complains about the pricing.

 

 


I love everything about it:  Tasty meats marinated in yummy spicy bean paste, or Korean BBQ sauces; side dishes of kimcheed veggies to wet the appetite as you wait for things to cook; and savory sauces to accompany your meats or rice for an extra oomph of taste!  There's even an alternate menu of other pretty awesome dishes if tons of meat isn't your thing that night.

 


Isn't it all so pretty?

 

Task 4


Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea).

This one may require some research and consideration...

 

Book Task


Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.

TBA

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/24-festive-tasks-door-2-guy-fawkes-night.html
Starting: Jurassic Park - audio book version!
Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton, Scott Brick

Jurassic Park

by Michael Crichton
narrated by Scott Brick
Book 1 of Jurassic Park


Progress:  31 of 910 minutes listened to


So the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of "rereading" Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.  Jurassic Park is really one of those old favorites you will always think back on fondly of, if only because it was such a novelty of a movie and book back in the day.

I don't often reread books, especially books I loved when I was younger.  I'm deathly afraid of finding out how much my tastes have changed and how much I DON'T like certain elements of a once favorite read.

But with the reading of our Flat Book Society book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, my mind started wandering to Jurassic Park, both the movie and the book.  Then I recalled one of the 24 Festive Tasks' Book Tasks for 'Dia de los Muertos':  "Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico."

The next thing I know, I'm thinking it might be a great idea to add Jurassic Park (or maybe another old Michael Crichton favorite) to a list of possible books for this square.  "Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author."  It fits perfectly!

Then I decided to just go for it!

I will be listening to the audio book version, narrated by Scott Brick.

And crossing my fingers that I enjoy this book as much as I did so many years ago.

 

 

24 Festive Tasks



Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/starting-jurassic-park-audio-book.html
Halloween Bingo 2018 | That's a Wrap!

This post is definitely a couple days late, but I had my reasons, so I'm rolling out all the final Halloween Bingo reviews and updates and have hopefully caught up with myself now.  As I'd stated in a previous update post, I tried to remain off the grid for a while in an attempt to finish the rest of my Halloween Bingo books.

Frankly, I'd stopped counting Bingos the week prior to the end of the game.  My main goal was finishing reading books.

I managed to finish one last Halloween Bingo book, The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins, about four hours after midnight, November 1st.  It may not count towards Halloween Bingo in terms of timeline, but I count it as a personal success.  Honestly, I could have ditched both The Haunted Hotel and Midnight Blue-Light Special, and inserted two short stories by Edgar Allan Poe to finish with a Blackout.  I have a volume sitting on my bookshelf with randomly bookmarked stories I'm interested in.  And his books would be able to fill the 'Classic Horror' square AND the 'Creepy Raven Free Space' just fine.

But I was stubbornly refusing to give up on The Haunted Hotel... which I managed NOT to finish before October came to an end, mainly because I'd been so exhausted from the past few evenings at work that I kind of just passed out after dinner and slept through until I suddenly awakened at 2:30 A.M. on November 1st and decided to just read.

 

le sigh... even the best laid plans have other plans in mind...


But moving right along...

I cannot stop expressing how much I love these reading games at Booklikes, which have, more than once, brought me out of a full reading slump.  This year my reading slump was probably the worst it's been in a very long time, starting up sometime in February... and continuing on until June when I tried to marathon Jayne Ann Krentz books... and then dipping again until right before Halloween Bingo started up.

 


So once again, a big thank you to Moonlight and Obsidian!  I'm prepping myself for Halloween Bingo 2019 already!

While September was still a slow month for me, in terms of average books read (as well as quality), October was a month of wonders as I pretty much increased my number of books read times two.

September:  8 books read
October:  17 books read

Meanwhile, I also discovered a few new authors I'd love to continue reading from!  In my book, that is one of the biggest pluses about Halloween Bingo--discovering new-to-me authors, and lots of new books to add to that ever-growing TBR!

In a nutshell, I decided to wrap up this post with some stats as well as The Good, The Bad, and The Meh--books I liked or loved, books that were sorely disappointing, and books that were just okay.

 

 

The Card

 


Nothing really changed from the last time I updated.  Since I technically didn't finish reading The Haunted Hotel before the end of the game, I didn't earn that one last Bingo in the first column.  It wouldn't have made much of a difference since without that middle square being read (which should have been the easiest one to finish), I'm short four Bingos and one Blackout.

But no matter!

I've got 23 books read and 23 squares completed with 7 total Bingos to appease me!

 

 

The Good

 

 


As I'd already stated, I discovered a lot of new authors I'm very interested in continuing to read from.  While there were some pretty disappointing books these past two months, there were fortunately more than enough enjoyable ones to make up for it.

I found an author that made me super giddy to continue reading in Seanan McGuire's Discount Armageddon.  I found a strong, intriguing, fast-paced cozy mystery with LynDee Walker's Nichelle Clarke series--three books of which I read for Halloween Bingo.  Jasper Fforde is an author I've always had my eye on, and after reading The Big Over Easy, I will definitely be picking up more books by him.  I enjoyed The Name of the Star much more than I'd expected.

Then there were my typical go to authors: Laura Griffin and Jayne Ann Krentz.  Finally, Barbara Michaels is an author I'm still following since I started reading her in last year's Halloween Bingo.

 

 

The Bad

 


I think, in terms of quality of books read, September's reads were the more disappointing ones.  I'd been looking forward to Nora Roberts' Circle trilogy, if only because I like her Romantic Suspense books, and because all three books potentially fit several possible squares on the Bingo Card.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into them and they felt repetitive.  How I finished them was a bit of a miracle in itself.

Same goes for Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright, in that I think I probably would have abandoned it if not for it being a Flat Book Society read that I stubbornly wanted to finish.  The Splendour Falls was only easy to finish because I listened to it as an audio book during my drives to work and back.  Secret Admirer's only good point was that it was a quick, bite-sized read.

 

 

The Meh

 


These books were neither excitingly awesome, nor were they really terrible.  My favorite of these might actually be Spinning Silver, if only because the writing is wonderful.  But the drag of the story, and the chaos of the multiple first person POVs kind of played a disadvantage to it, so I couldn't quite love it, even if I didn't dislike it.

 

 

The "I Don't Know Where to Put This One"


Because I'm still reeling from the ending weeks later and still cannot say whether or not I liked it... for reasons.

 

 


Yeah... I don't know how to feel about this one.  I still feel kind of blindsided, but I'm not sure whether it was a GOOD feeling of being blindsided (if that even exists), or a bad way...

 

 

Review
3.5 Stars
Brief Thoughts: Small Town Spin
Small Town Spin - LynDee Walker

Small Town Spin

by LynDee Walker
Book 3 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller

 

 

A YOUNG ATHLETE IS DEAD.
A TRAGIC SUICIDE?  OR FOUL PLAY?


A retired NFL quarterback's teenage son is found dead on a rocky shoreline near his family's Virginia home, and crime reporter Nichelle Clarke is called in on special assignment to handle the delicate story.  Just yesterday, T.J. Okerson seemed destined to follow in his father's footsteps towards gridiron glory.  Now his parents, close friends to one of Nichelle's inner circle, are blind-sided and grieving.

The sheriff of the sleepy Chesapeake Bay town is ready to stamp the case a tragic drug overdose and move on.  But Nichelle isn't so sure.

Determined and unafraid, she dives into the seedier side of the quaint island community.  Nichelle's investigation reveals an underground moonshine operation--and more suspicious deaths.  Soon she finds herself confronting a killer who will stop at nothing to keep Nichelle from uncovering the truth.



Small Town Spin is another solid story in this well-written cozy series that I'm happy to have been recommended.  As per usual, I love Nichelle's thought process whenever she starts investigating each case, and I love that she's so resourceful and confident.  I also appreciate the fact that Nichelle has kind of learned from her previous experiences and indeed DOES try not to be the TSTL.  As she mentions, she's not exactly looking to get herself killed or anything.  She just wants her story.

Unfortunately, danger just seems to keep popping up because she's so determined to get to the truth of each story.

Of all the books so far, I kind of feel like this is one with a meatier plot than the rest.  It's quite thought-provoking, even if the entire detailed outline of the murder mystery was quite convoluted.  Maybe Nichelle was following too many trails, I don't know.

Still, this was highly enjoyable!

On a side note:  the love triangle is quite prominent in this particular book than it had been in the previous.  I suppose I understand Nichelle's need to play the field a little bit.  But something about triangles just really ruffle me up.

On another side note:  I was chatting with my BFF about this series, wanting to introduce her to it if she were in the mood for a new cozy.  The topic of the love triangle came up, and then I suddenly admitted that I was really hoping that Nichelle and fellow reporter, sports persona Grant Parker would end up together.  I'm sure that's not going to happen, because the two have already friend-zoned each other; AND Parker is in a committed relationship.  Also, a lot of other readers seem to be rooting for the mafia boss...

But anyway, I just felt like Parker and Nichelle just clicked really well, especially after they finally started communicating more properly at the end of the first book.  Now the two are sort of partners in crime as he had helped her out, both in the previous book and this one.  And they seem to really understand each other.

While love interests, Joey and Kyle, will just tell Nichelle she needs to stop getting herself into trouble, Parker will offer his services to aid her investigative efforts.  I think I like that he doesn't immediately try to coddle her... then again, he's also not playing the role of over-protective potential boyfriend.

Anyway, another entertaining installment to the Nichelle Clarke series, and three more to go!

 

 


 

Halloween Bingo 2018

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/brief-thoughts-small-town-spin.html
Review
3.5 Stars
More Rambling Than Review: Death by Dumpling
Death by Dumpling: A Noodle Shop Mystery - Vivien Chien

Death by Dumpling

by Vivien Chien
Book 1 of A Noodle Shop Mystery

 

 

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant.  But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together.  Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee.  But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy?  Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.



Here are a few things about a brief period in my own childhood that everyone might amuse themselves with:

My parents owned a restaurant for five years.  It was one of my dad's dreams to be a restaurant owner.  And while things didn't exactly pan out the way that either he or my mom had hoped, we were still in the business, even if only for a short time.  My brothers and I had two functions: we were to either hang around in the back, watch TV and keep ourselves out of trouble, or in mine and my elder brother's case, we helped out by waiting tables, seating customers, or sitting at the cashier's counter to keep an eye on things.

We also spent a lot of time with prep work and clean-up: vacuuming during quiet hours; folding dinner napkins during free time; mopping the bathroom floors after hours; rolling eggrolls for the next day, chopping veggies; washing dishes; changing dirtied table clothes; refilling salt and pepper shakers... tasks were endless, but at the same time, kind of fun.

I mean, I was a pre-teen with a job when most of my friends just went to school.  That's something, right?

So certainly, upon starting this book, I found some nostalgic feels coming out.

As a child, I came to the restaurant every day after school where my mother would keep me stowed away in the back room near her office.  She had set up a makeshift living room of sorts with a TV and couch, even a small desk where I could do my schoolwork.


Aside from the couch bit, this actually describes those short five years of my life, almost to a 'T.'  And also, I had my brothers to join me in front of the TV as well, or sitting around a corner table doing our homework.  I imagine it may also describe a lot of other young Asian children's lives as well since I know a lot of Vietnamese restaurants and Chinese restaurants in town that are family owned.  On top of that, I've seen the kids sitting off in an isolated corner in the dining room, at a table not made up for guests, doing their homework, or helping out by rolling silverware.

And yes, I do sometimes think back on those few years when I would be sitting in a corner, doing my homework, folding restaurant napkins or refilling salt and pepper shakers.

So I had a feeling that this book would be intriguing for me, even if not for the mystery or for the characters.  And truth be told, when Lana had also dropped this quote:

Things to know about me: I'm half English, half Taiwanese, and no, I don't know karate.  I'm definitely not good at math and I don't know how to spell your name in Chinese.


I had a distinct feeling I was going to like Lana and enjoy her story.  I'm sure I've spent some time in my lifetime growing up answering some of those same questions from friends and acquaintances and classmates.  I'm Cantonese, actually, and both of my parents are from the Canton region in China, even if some of my father's side of the family might have emigrated to Vietnam generations ago.  Both of my parents were born in Vietnam, actually, but they're from a distinct population in Vietnam who are mostly made up of immigrants from Canton.

I remember constantly being pestered by classmates and friends about teaching them how to say something in Chinese.  Specifically, they wanted to learn how to curse in Chinese, and how to say their name in Chinese.  And the responses I had to give them on the latter, were that there are not true translations of Western names into Chinese--really, we just string together a few characters to create a phonetic likeness to what your Western name sounds like.

So no, I also do not really know how to spell your names in Chinese.

But back to the book now...

The truth is, I did indeed find myself enjoying this book, but not as much as my biased preference would have liked to enjoy this book.  There were definitely a lot of glaring flaws in logic when it came to Lana and her sleuthing around with BFF, Megan.  There was also a nagging feeling that this book is a little too Westernized, probably in an attempt not to feel confusing.

There were a couple instances in the book where some of the Moms talk to each other in either Cantonese or Hokkien.  Even an instance here and there where Lana describes someone muttering something in Mandarin.  I guess I would have liked to see more than just an off-hand instance of the languages being used; because in an Asian community as big as the one described in this book, I have a hard time believing that everyone speaks English almost 98% of the time to every other Chinese or Taiwanese person present.  Even in my own household, the language you would hear is more of a 70% Cantonese and 30% English.

We often also mix the two within sentences.  But it's never 98% English.

But now I'm nitpicking, and that's probably not fair to this book.

Because, in earnest, I really, really wanted to really love this book.  I'm completely ecstatic that this book presents to us an Asian American protagonist, who's just an ordinary person living an ordinary life, with an extremely believable setting and cast of characters.  This book is entirely relatable to me, because I live this life of being stuck between my very Asian parents, and my own American upbringing.  If that makes any sense.

I'm entirely more American than my parents would like.  But at the same time, I'm just as American as my parents hope for in order to live an easier life in America.

Lana is just as American as I am.  She's an ordinary Asian American girl, living her life between cultures--and yet it all just feels completely natural.  At the same time, she still has to abide by a lot of the Asian cultures she grew up learning in order to interact with the very Asian community she calls home.

And I'm not saying that I didn't like this book.  I very much enjoyed it, between the setting, and even Lana's character (who really does remind me a lot of me when I was her age).  Being stuck in limbo and trying to find herself while fending off her mother about doing something meaningful with her life.  Being asked by every Asian relative and family friend why I don't have a boyfriend, and that I need to find one before I get too old to have babies.

On a side tangent:  I really DID start getting annoyed with everyone who kept making it seem like Lana needed a boyfriend to be happy.  Even her best friend started jumping on that bandwagon, wanting her to date or find someone new.  I expect this from parents and parental figures--but coming from Megan was a bit more frustrating.

Because you don't need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy about your life.  And constantly telling me that my life is not happy or not complete just because I don't have a significant other really, really irks me.  AND it's insulting.  How do you know what I want with my life to be happy?  How do you know that I'm not happy being carefree and single?

Ahem...

Anyway, jumping OFF of my soap box before I get too off topic again...

Really one of the bigger things that bugged me about this book (aside from my above ranting) was Lana's means of investigating the murder of Mr. Feng.  And I'm not sure if she was intentionally made to seem so amateur about it, because she is indeed an amateur sleuth.  Her interrogation methods were way too obvious, and made me cringe, wondering how nobody got suspicious with her, or upset that she was asking so many questions.  Everyone just straight up answered all of her questions.  Her rapid-fire way of questioning people felt too brusque, so rather than seeming like she was cleverly trying to find out information from the people in the surrounding stores, she sounded exactly like she was interrogating a suspect in a closed room.

This aspect, I'm hoping will be improved upon in future installments.

I would have also liked more background on what happened to Lana to land her back at her parent's restaurant to begin with.  We know that she broke up with a cheating boyfriend, and we know that she walked out of her place of work.  We never get a clear picture of what exactly happened to make her walk out of her job and come home to work at the noodle shop.  We never get to see much of Lana's ex-boyfriend to understand why everyone around her is so saddened by their break-up.

I'm also hoping that future installments might elaborate more on Detective Trudeau as a character.  Because at this point, while he's not really the broody, jackass detective I'd been expecting... well, he's really just "Love Interest #1" with no personality.  He does not stand out at all and I'm hard pressed to feel anything for any potential romance.

I DO, however, love the presence of Megan.  I thought it was wonderful to give Lana a partner in crime as she goes around investigating the murder.  And I loved that the girls had a moment wherein they realize that maybe they were in a little over their heads.  At least that kind of keeps them from doing anything too stupid.

But otherwise, I'm quite interested in continuing this series.  Like I said, there were a few quibbles--I know it looks more like I had LOTS to complain about--but considering I blasted through this book so quickly, I feel like it kept me quite hooked.  Certainly there were more characters than I could really keep track of, and tons of red herrings that kept me guessing.  And certainly the shoddy detective work by Lana and her BFF can be overlooked in this first book, simply as them being too green to know what they're doing.

I think I would like for the detective to have a bigger role in the next mystery if only to prove to me that there are cozy mysteries out there where the police force is NOT so incompetent that a couple of very green, very amateur wannabe PI's end up solving their case for them.  But I suppose that's just how cozy mysteries are set up?

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(written by an author of color)


Other possible squares:  New Release; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/more-rambling-than-review-death-by.html
Halloween Bingo 2018 | More Book Ramblings at End Game

 



And the game is now at it's end note, as October came to it's close.  This post was meant to go up a couple days earlier, but that didn't happen as I never finished all the books I had intended to read for Halloween Bingo.  I tried holing myself up away from the internet for the last few days of the month, hoping to achieve a Black-out success, but alas!  That was not to be!

Nonetheless, this post is satisfyingly much meatier than my mid-game ramblings, which makes me extremely happy.  It simply means that I've made much more and better progress on my Halloween Bingo card, and all is well in the world again.  At least in my world.

Once again, the books listed are all in order of when I read them, and I may or may not have already reviewed some of these.  Either way, you're getting a bit of a ramble about each, because I sometimes get carried away.

Meanwhile, I might also include a wrap-up pretty soon--it's on my list of blog posts to write, for a well-rounded closure to the 2018 Halloween Bingo game.

Happy Belated Halloween everyone!

 

 


 

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Discworld #1 / Rincewind #1
Rating:  3.0 Stars


I honestly am not sure how to review this book.

It's... an interesting concept.  And extremely creative.

But so much happens, and so many characters are introduced to you, and so many of the world's... originalities are thrown at you so suddenly that... well... it's just a little hard to digest.  Some of the humor I got, and some of it, not so much.

I will continue the rest of the series if only because I've been told that it gets better.

On a strange aside, I totally couldn't picture Twoflower, and finally had to do a Google search of him.  Ah... standard stereotype of a tourist.  I see.

I DID like the Luggage and wished there were more scenes with it.

Also read for the Discworld group read.

 

 


 

Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb
Elizabeth MacPherson #1
Rating:  2.5 Stars


Thoughts: Sick of Shadows

In my review, I already mention that this book is kind of mediocre, even if written well, with some interesting potential.  Okay, I may not have mentioned the interesting potential, but I feel that it's there.  Other reviewers have noted that the series gets better after this first book.  So I'm holding out hope.

Honestly, I chose to read Sick of Shadows based on accessibility, because I had been more interested in the Ballad series; however, the first book If I Ever Return, Pretty Peggy-O was not available at my library, and I wasn't really wanting to purchase anything new if I could help it.  So we get Sick of Shadows, which wasn't terrible, but could have been better.

Other possible squares include:  Genre: Suspense; Country House Mystery; Terror in a Small Town; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 


As per usual, Amanda Quick's writing is excellent and enjoyable.  The characters are all great and lovely, and the romance is fun and steamy, as needed.  The mystery wasn't so much a mystery, if only because you don't get to do much detecting with the characters.  But watching them do their detecting, looking for a serial killer, was fun.  I loved the heroine, Amity, and totally approve her carrying around a tessen for safety reasons--every woman should have a steel fan, honed into a weapon, disguised as an ornamental trinket, for use in tight situations.

This is your usual Amanda Quick work--always enjoyable.

Other possible squares include:  Murder Most Foul; Amateur Sleuth; Romantic Suspense; Terrifying Women

 

 


 

Rating:  4.0 Stars


Thoughts: The Big Over Easy

I wish I had jumped into this book first when I picked it up for Halloween Bingo a month ago.  But no, I wanted to finish Nora Roberts' Circle trilogy due to availability.

The Big Over Easy was wonderfully addictive to read, despite the slow-paced telling, with very cleverly inserted fairy tale, mythological, and nursery rhyme references to create the world with.  My review linked above might ramble a bit about how much I liked this book!

Other possible squares include: A Grimm Tale; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 

Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller #1
Rating: 4.0 Stars


Thoughts: Front Page Fatality

As I state in my review linked above, this is a very strong start to a gritty and exciting cozy mystery.  I had also made the very quick decision to include a couple other Nichelle Clarke books in Halloween Bingo as well!

Other possible squares include:  Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 

Rating: 2.5 Stars


My streak of Halloween Bingo books had been going so well for October...  It's just disappointing that it didn't keep up.  Secret Admirer could have been so much better than it turned out to be, but I think the biggest factors playing against it were that it's a book that Cynthia Eden has already written before, with the same premise and a lot of the same story outline, and it was a bit too rushed for my liking.

I have more details in my overlong review linked below.  I hadn't planned on a review, but I got to writing, with only one paragraph in mind, and the next thing I know, it's about five paragraphs long, so I just decided to turn it into a full blown review and call it good.

Thoughts: Secret Admirer

Other possible squares include:  New Release; Genre: Suspense; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #2
Rating: 4.0 Stars


Ahh...  Good ol' Jayne Ann Krentz.  You just never go wrong with this lovely author.  And despite the fact that I couldn't really recall what went down in the previous book of this series, a slight nudge with a brief recounting DID kind of jog my memory about some of the first book.  Mind you, not that I really recall a whole lot about it anyway.

But still...

I found Promise Not to Tell quite refreshing in terms of the romance, even if some character dynamics seem a little "been there, done that."  The suspense portion was intriguing enough, but the real gem of this book is the relationship and partnership between Virginia and Cabot.  And as JAK is wont to do, some of the side characters are also pretty excellent as well.

On a side note, we absolutely need more men like Cabot Sutter in our lives, both fictional and real.

Other possible squares include:  New Release; Romantic Suspense; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 

Rating: 4.5 Stars


This book was fantastic and so much fun!  Two words:  Aeslin mice!

See my review for an official squee:  Thoughts: Discount Armageddon

 

 


 

Buried Leads by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller #2
Rating: 3.0 Stars


Thoughts: Buried Leads

Not as satisfying as the first book in the series, but still an enjoyable, fast-paced read with everything I liked about the first book still intact.  Review linked above.

 

 


 

Endless Night by Agatha Christie
audio book narrated by Hugh Fraser
Rating: 3.5 Stars


As already stated in my sort of, kind of, Not Really a Review of Endless Night, that ending had me flabbergasted.  I honestly don't know what to think and had definitely not expected this book to turn out the way it did... whether for good or bad... well, I still haven't decided.

Since the audio book cover has an illustration of a raven, I will be using this book for the 13 square.

 

 


 

Rating: 2.5 Stars


Ghost Horse was okay, in the way that a book lets you pass the time without really doing much for you.  The plot points are very overly cliched and the characters were hard to relate with, if only because they were also so cliched that it hurt.  The book picked up more towards the end, so that made up for some of it, but definitely not something I would recommend unless you're really that into Harlequin's Eclipse line of Gothic Romances.

Truth is, this book could have used more meat and less cliche... and maybe if the heroine wasn't so obsessed with the love interest before she ascertained his guilt in the disappearance of her best friend...  It was a little hard for me to understand how she could be so attracted to the man who was both broody, rude, and caveman, especially when she thought he'd had a hand in her best friend's sudden disappearance.

 

 


 

Rating: 3.5 Stars


It took a while to warm up to our protagonist, Karen, and for the book to pick up, but when it did, boy did it just hook you in.  I think I might have also been as riveted to the Ismene story as Karen and Peggy were.

And speaking of Peggy--she was so, undeniably awesome!  I loved Peggy so much!  I think she was the character who made this book so awesome!

The ending also got a little creepy there, and I ended up having to turn on a light while I was reading it in bed. O.O

 

 


 

Rating: 4.0 Stars


Thoughts: Desperate Girls

This was a great first book to a new Laura Griffin romantic suspense series, with a brief guest appearance by a character from her Tracers series.  I'm looking forward to the next book already!

Other possible squares include:  Genre: Suspense; Romantic Suspense; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 

Rating: 4.0 Stars


Daughter of the Midway was a very wonderfully atmospheric, bittersweet tale.  I loved the brief glimpses into the mermaid lore of this world included, but it also left me wishing there were more to the story.  You kind of had an idea what would end up happening at the end, but that still doesn't keep you from feeling a little pang of sadness at it either.

I'm not really into short stories, because I often feel like they could be fleshed out more, and this is also the case with Daughter of the Midway; even so, I did really like this one, in my own way.

Other possible squares include:  Southern Gothic; Supernatural; Cryptozoologist; Fear the Drowning Deep; Terrifying Women

 

 


 

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien
A Noodle Shop Myster #1
Rating: 3.5 Stars


More Rambling Than Review: Death by Dumpling

I really did enjoy this book and plan on continuing the series.  As I state in my review linked above, this book gave me nostalgic feels--they were very good nostalgic feels.  So that's already a point in that sector.  I will update with a link to my review of this book when it goes up.

Other possible squares:  New Release; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 


 

Rating: 3.0 Stars


Quick Thoughts: Spinning Silver

This one wasn't as great as Novik's previous retelling, Uprooted.  It's a little disappointing, but it wasn't like the book wasn't entirely enjoyable.  I DID end up getting drawn into it at the beginning, even if the end kind of fizzled after too many POVs started surfacing.  There came a point where I wished the story would just get on with it.  Nonetheless, there's a quick review at the link above.

Other possible squares include: New Release; Spellbound; Relics and Curiosities (?); Supernatural; Terrifying Women

 

 


 

Small Town Spin by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller #3
Rating: 3.5 Stars


Brief Thoughts: Small Town Spin

Still a great, strong series with a great, strong main character!  This was probably the meatiest of the series' books so far.  On the other hand, it also boasts a very evident love triangle that is driving me crazy.

My review will probably go up soon, and will be linked above.

 

 


 

Rating: 2.5 Stars


I think I must be missing something.

The first couple chapters were pretty intriguing, but after that, the book pretty quickly became a massive info dump of outlined tangential story lines that were pretty boring, finally leading up to the titular Haunted Hotel parts.  It got exciting for a little bit, but then the ending felt a bit anti-climatic, and I'm not sure I understand what actually happened, even if I DO kind of see what happened.

If that makes any sense.

I guess... there wasn't as much about the Haunted Hotel as I'd been expecting?  I suppose this one just wasn't for me.

On a separate note, I didn't actually finish this book until after the Halloween Bingo game timeline was past... like about four hours past.  But because of that, I'm going to include it as a completed square... even though I'd already stopped counting Bingos about three books ago.

 

 


 

 

I didn't finish this book for the last square, but it shall be listed just because.  I'll probably have the book done within the next few days though if it's as enjoyable as the first one.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/halloween-bingo-2018-more-book.html
24 Festive Tasks | Ani's Tracking Post Randomness



I took some liberties and decided to create a banner for my own personal posts.  Also, I wanted to find a reason to input a tree of holiday penguins somewhere...

Anyway, by popular demand, everyone's favorite game mates have decided to make some appearances in this year's Festive Tasks reading game!  Yay!!

Magnetic Monkey and Peek-a-boo Penni are back!  In clip-art sticker form... sort of.  I'm too lazy to learn how to use new photo editing tools, so I'm just utilizing Paint 3D... which turned out to be more work than I really like, but at least this will be a pretty simple edit.

 


This is just an example card of how I will mark my card as the game progresses.  I also wanted to see how the markers would look, and I kind of like the effect.  I hope they're not too hard to see as Monkey's color kind of blends with the background a bit.  And my eyes are kind of blurry at the moment from lack of sleep.

Let's give a warm welcome back to Magnetic "Elfin" Monkey, and Peek-a-boo Penni Claus!

 


Elfin Monkey will be my marker for any Non-book Tasks complete.  I'm unlikely to finish more than one or two tasks per square, but I'll plan for it and leave enough room for more than one monkey per square (refer to Door 1's square in that last column for an example; and yes, I know the number is covered up).

Penni Claus will mark the one Book Task per square--mainly because it was a little harder to create a Penni sticker than it was the Monkey sticker.

Meanwhile, the lack of sleep I mentioned above really has more to do with the fact that I might have spent about four hours formatting another tracking table for how I will track what tasks I've completed.  Then at the end of that four hours, I realized I should probably go to sleep... and promptly came up with another idea that requires further modification of said table.  Yikes!

In the meantime, this is sort of what it looks like, pre-modification to include my new idea.

Basically, I'm thinking about separating the table into individual ones for each Door/Square, and moving the name of the holiday and date of the holiday, along with the picture associated to the top of the table instead of the side.  Or something like that.  I'm still working on the details.

Really... I should be spending more time reading and completing my tasks, cause it looks like I'm a bit behind.

But hey, I started this project as soon as I had the chance after the game was announced... and it was like a dog with a bone:  I just couldn't stop until I achieved the result I wanted... sort of.

Though I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a little bit of fun constructing the darn thing.  I figured out a whole lot of new stuff about html tables that will probably come in handy for future blog posts.  =D

 

 

Door / Square Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Total Points:
0
Door 1
Dia de los Muertes
(November 1)


Book Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico. Some Book Title by This Author   0
Task 1 Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice. -- SKIP-- I don't poem... XX
Task 2 Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one). See Main Post
(coming soon)
 
Task 3 Create an altar (either digital or physical) for your favorite book, series, or book character, and post a picture of it. Inclusion of book cover encouraged. See Main Post
(coming soon)
 
Task 4 If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it. See Main Post
(coming soon)
 
 
Door 2
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 3
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 4
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 5
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 6
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 7
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 8
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 9
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 10
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 11
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 12
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 13
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 14
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 15
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 16
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 17
??
(??)
Book TBA     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 18
Winter Solstice / Yuletide
(December 21)
Book Read any book that takes place in December; OR with ice or snow on the cover; OR that revolves around the (summer or winter) equinox; OR a collection of poetry by Hafez     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 19
Festivus
(December 23)
Book Read any comdy, parody, or satire     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 20
Christmas
(December 25)
Book Read any Christmas book.     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 21
Kwanzaa
(December 26 - January 1)
Book Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean; OR by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author; OR a book with a green, red, or black cover.     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 22
New Year's Eve
(December 31)
Book Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM!     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 23
Hogswatch
(December 32)
Book Read anything by Terry Pratchett     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 
Door 24
Epiphany
(January 6)
Book Read a book with three main characters; OR a book about traveling on a journey to a faraway place; OR a book that's part of a trilogy; OR with a star on the cover; OR with the word "twelve" or "night" in the title; OR concerning kings or spices     0
Task 1 TBA    
Task 2 TBA    
Task 3 TBA    
Task 4 TBA    
 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/24-festive-tasks-anis-tracking-post.html
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Random Update



First of all, a big, big Thank You to Moonlight and Obsidian for hosting this very fine reading game!  Nothing like Halloween Bingo to bring one out of a chronic reading slump this year!


I'm way too lazy right now--as well as pressing on time a little bit--to post a full official update (like my super organized ones from previous.  But it's Halloween, and I've been avoiding the blogosphere for as much as I could these past few days, if only to try to finish those last Halloween Bingo books I have lined up.

Unfortunately, times have been busy, and as much as I'd hoped and planned, I'm certain I won't be getting a black-out.

 


I DID recently finish Spinning Silver and Small Town Spin, which got me a couple more Bingos.  And knowing that that last square called would add a couple more Bingos, I wasn't too concerned about waiting for the last Bingo square call.  I've even stopped counting Bingos anyway, feeling much more impressed with how many books I've managed to read this month than anything else, really...  hehe

 


Meanwhile, I'm going to try to at least finish reading The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins tonight, in the spirit of Halloween, which leaves my final and last read, Midnight Blue-Light Special possibly hanging.  I certain I won't finish it before the end of the day, so either I'll stick to my guns and just finish it after the game is over without a Black-out, or I'll try to insert a short Edgar Allan Poe from the massive volume of short story collection I have sitting on my shelf and complete the game with a Blackout.

We'll see... especially since I'm not certain I'll finish The Haunted Hotel before the end of the night either.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/halloween-bingo-2018-random-update.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Quick Thoughts: Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver - Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik

 

 

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one.  Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in.  Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task.  When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.



I read my first Naomi Novik book a few years back--Uprooted--and absolutely loved it.  So I was super ecstatic about Spinning Silver.

Unfortunately, while Spinning Silver has that same, magical telling, a wonderfully crafted world, with a lot of interesting characters and lore, it didn't feel as well-outlined as Uprooted had been.  I DID get drawn into it readily at the beginning and had really high hopes that things would continue on wonderfully even as I was wary of the switching first person POVs.

As a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, it took only a few traits from the original fairy tale and sprinkled it around several of the characters, in each of the three or four ongoing tangential story lines.

But I think that might have been it's disadvantage.  There were entirely too many stories and too many point of views being narrated throughout this book.  And all of the book's narrations were done in first person.  I'm already not a big fan of first person, but I've learned to live with it, as well as love it in certain forms or even certain specific books.  While I learned to figure out which narration belonged to which character based on how someone was addressed and how the voiced came across, it still managed to get a little confusing, as well as pretty tiresome.

Again, there was just too much going on.  Which is a shame, because I loved the underlying main conflict and the main story dealing with Miryem and the Staryk king.  I became interested in the story following Irina and the demon-possessed young tsar, Mirnatius.  And I probably would have enjoyed Wanda's telling as well if her story hadn't tapered off into the background as just filler for when neither Irina nor Miryem were the narrators.

Then you start to include a dozen other POVs as well--Stepon, Magreta, even Mirnatius, himself--and things start getting complicated, and unfortunately, dragged out.  I feel like we didn't need to see every single scene or action from every single possible angle.  But nearing the end of the book, that's what it felt like and I was impatient to have the story get on with the main conflict dealing with the Staryk king and the fire demon's fates.

Anyway... this book could have been so, so much better.  Instead, it was enjoyable to an extent, and really just fades in comparison to Uprooted.  Or, well, to whatever retelling I'd been excitedly anticipating from Naomi Novik.

Not to say it wasn't enjoyable, because minus some of the unnecessarily dragged out scenes, I think it could have been great.  The descriptions were beautiful, the bursting of culture was decadent, and the characters were so fleshed out that you could imagine all of them having a tale of their own... just not packed so tightly into this book where there was already a lot going on.

I love Naomi Novik's writing style, both in Uprooted and in this book.  So I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for more of her work, as well as move her Temeraire series up on that ever-changing TBR I have going!

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(any fairy tale or retelling of fairy tales, folklore, legends, etc.)


Other possible squares include: New Release; Spellbound; Relics and Curiosities (?); Supernatural; Terrifying Women

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/quick-thoughts-spinning-silver.html
Can You Read a Series In A Month? November 2018 Challenge


I feel like I'm a little late to this party, but since the challenge doesn't start yet, I'm going to hop right in.  I almost forgot about this reading challenge, and it's entirely possible I missed one of them this year already.  I'm not sure.  Indeed, I've just recently climbed my way out of a massive reading slump that lasted about four months, so it's not like I was really paying much attention to the reading/blogging world.

Anyway, I really do like these mini challenges that only last a month or two, and that aren't exactly hardcore.  Reading a series in a month, with only three books being the minimum requirement is something I'm sure I'll be able to do.

And fortunately for me, there's a particular series I've been telling myself I've been needing to read anyway, and had planned to read since the beginning of September.  In fact, all the books in this series had been an initial selection for another reading game (Halloween Bingo 2018), but due to an ever-changing reading mood, it got pushed back.

But at this point, I'm very willing to make a commitment to make sure I finally get to this series.

With Halloween Bingo coming to a close, I'm feeling a little freer in my book selections, so that helps, too!


The rules are pretty simple:  Read or finish one series in one month.  It can be a series you've already started, but there must be at least 3 published books that you have not yet read.  So if you want to read a trilogy and you haven't started, it'll count.  If you want to read a four book series and you've already read the first book, it'll count, too.

For more information and more answers to questions about the rules, refer to the sign up post link above.

 

 

My Series Pick

 

Midnight by Melinda Leigh


Completed Reviews: (links will be updated as each book is read)
1.  Midnight Exposure
2.  Midnight Sacrifice
3.  Midnight Betrayal
4.  Midnight Obsession

*Click on series title for GR series page. // Click on book title for my review.

 

 

My Backup Series

 

Blackthorn & Grim by Juliet Marillier

 

 

Ramblings

 

I don't know if the Midnight series is complete yet, but no new book has been published that I know of.  Hopefully a new book won't suddenly pop up in the middle of November and I can happily breeze through this romantic suspense series without rearranging any of my reading plans.  I'm in the mood for a crime thriller / romantic suspense, so I'm hoping that these books will help.

Meanwhile, I'd also been considering getting Juliet Marillier's Blackthorn & Grim series read, and I've been seeing a lot of good things about this trilogy.  I've had the first two books sitting on my Kindle for some time and was happy when the last book was finally published... then just let all three books sit there for another two years.  So it's time to get to them.  If I have time, I will try to squeeze this one in.  Or, in the worst case scenario, if I end up not really liking Midnight, at least I can fall back on a tried and true author!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/can-you-read-series-in-month-november.html
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #6 - That Elusive First Bingo!

 

 


I wasn't really going to put up another update yet, at least not until either Sunday or Monday.  The household has been pretty busy these past few days--just a lot of family stuff going on.  I'm surprised I've even been able to make time to read anything.  But I had a little extra time this morning and decided to start this post.

Five more days until the end of Halloween Bingo 2018!  Honestly, aside from the fact that I'm not sure I'll actually get a Blackout this year, I'm actually much more impressed with how quickly I combed through books this month just for Bingo.  The comparison is crazy--I read a total of eight books in September, with only six of them actually being for Halloween Bingo.  This month, I decided to focus solely on Bingo books, and somehow managed to make it pretty far.  I've pretty much doubled my number from last month, with hopefully more to be finished.

 


I have four books left to finish reading, two that I'm currently reading and two I have yet to start.  I had had a notion to just start all four of them and see which one gets finished first... but I decided to pace myself and simply try to read one at a time.

I'm almost finished with Spinning Silver for A Grim Tale square.  Then I'll be hopping into Small Town Spin, which I already started randomly a couple days ago, but have only been reading a couple paragraphs here and there when I have a little extra time between working and socializing.  I've been spending my extra free time--and as in "free time" I mean those hours right before you go to bed when you really should be winding down and getting to sleep--reading Spinning Silver.

I'm hoping to start Midnight Blue-Light Special and The Haunted Hotel this weekend.  Since I loved Discount Armageddon so much, I'm hoping to gobble the second book in the InCryptids series right up.  I recently decided that Midnight Blue-Light Special will be my Creepy Raven Free Space book, mainly because I just really want to read this book.

 


Meanwhile, I DID manage to get my very first--and only--Bingo so far.  It is the second row down, and I drew a green line through it.  I realize that my Bingo card this year is a bit lacking compared to Penni and her laser eyes last year.  My goal when the new year starts will be to come up with a new Bingo card marking plan.  Yes, I am just nerdy enough to start planning this far in advance.

Anyway, when I finish Spinning Silver, hopefully before the night is over, I should have one more Bingo.  At this late point in the game, there is only one other square not on my card that hasn't been called yet, so my chances of getting more Bingos rolling in is pretty much a given.

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 


So after much deliberation, I've decided to really personalize my card this year... and also because I just couldn't resist using this recent picture of our family dog.  I present to everyone the marker that will depict all of my Called Squares:

 

 
Dino Baby!  Rawr!


And that is the extent of my creativity this year... along with that tedious visual you see when you scroll down.  Because the markers for my Read Squares will simply by a book cover to set to the left  side of the square as Dino Baby roars at it from the right side of the square.

 

 

Currently Reading:

 

FOR FOR

 

 

Squares/Books/Called Dates/Update Post Links:


Progress on my card:  22 squares called || 21 books read || 19 squares completed

Squares called that I do not have:
09/15/18 - Modern Masters of Horror
09/25/18 - Amateur Sleuth
09/29/18 - Supernatural
10/17/18 - Fear the Drowning Deep
10/21/18 - Country House Mystery

Halloween Bingo 2018: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Report Your Bingos!

October Group Read | Discussion Thread -- Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #1
It's Monday! Plus a Halloween Bingo Update, Just Because... | 09/17/2018
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #2
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Book Rambles at Mid-game
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #3
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #4
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #5

*And also, when I've posted them, the book covers will link to my reviews.

Called:  10/01/18
Read:  10/19/18
Called:  09/21/18
Read:  10/23/18
Called:  10/09/18
Read:  
Called: 09/09/18
Read:  10/05/18
Called: 10/05/18
Read:  09/18/18
~*~*~*~
Called: 09/05/18
Read:  10/11/18
Called: 09/03/18
Read:  10/14/18
Called:  09/27/18
Read:  10/13/18
Called: 09/17/18
Read:  10/22/18
Called:  10/19/18
Read: 09/03/18
~*~*~*~
Called: 09/01/18
Read:  
Called: 09/23/18
Read:  10/17/18
Called:
Read:  
Called:  09/19/18
Read:  10/01/18
Called:
Read:  10/09/18
~*~*~*~
Called:  10/25/18
Read:  10/11/18
Called:10/11/18
Read:  10/06/18
Called:  10/07/18
Read:  10/17/18
Called:  10/23/18
Read:  09/27/18
Called:  09/13/18
Read:  
~*~*~*~
Called:  10/13/18
Read:  09/24/18
Called:  09/11/18
Read:  10/22/18
Called:  10/03/18
Read:  09/22/18
Called:
Read: 09/06/18
Called: 09/07/18
Read:  10/22/18
Halloween Bingo 2018
Ani's Book Abyss


Wild Card Author:

 


I haven't decided which author to use as my Wild Card yet, but I've been considering using Nora Roberts, as she is a writer of a lot of crime thrillers, romantic suspense, and supernatural, including the Circle trilogy I've chosen for this year's bingo.

Other authors I'm also considering are: Susanna Kearsley, who writes Gothic with a bit of supernatural; Elizabeth Peters, who has a lot of cozy mysteries; or another obvious option, Agatha Christie!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/halloween-bingo-2018-update-6-that.html
Review
4 Stars
Thoughts: Desperate Girls
Desperate Girls - Laura Griffin

Desperate Girls

by Laura Griffin
Book 1 of Wolfe Security

 

 

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors.  With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way.  She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

When the police come up empty-handed, Brynn turns to a private security firm for protection.  But when she defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe.  With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.



Nothing like a romantic suspense by Laura Griffin to really get you into a book.  I started out reading this book in the wee hours of the night, thinking I'd just start with the first couple chapters, go to sleep and then continue the next day.  The next thing I knew, I was 70% into the book and wanting to keep going.

That has to count for something, in my opinion.

It's not like this crime thriller was any different than Griffin's usual, gritty, fast-paced Tracers novels, but it certainly kept me riveted.

I like the story itself and I like the premise of this series.  There's a lot of potential, and as Laura Griffin is wont to do, she also introduces key players who will definitely be showing up as the main characters in future books.  She gives them enough background and personality for you to be interested--so that you look forward to the next book.  So aside from our main couple, Brynn and Erik, you get a slight taste of others like police detective Lindsay Leary, or even some of the other Wolfe Sec members: Jeremy, Trent, Hayes, Skyler...

Yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to the next book already.

As for our main couple...  I liked them.  They made a pretty good team, and aside from their fun banters, I loved seeing Brynn in action as a defense attorney.  I also have a thing for bodyguard plots as well, and especially love when the person being protected comes to the realization that she needs to take this seriously.  Because, at first, I was thinking that I'd end up being frustrated with Brynn and her resistance to having a bodyguard--a team of bodyguards, even--and was being difficult on principle.  I was worried that this was going to be ongoing, and when she did a few stupid things that could have caused more trouble for her security team than should have been necessary, I got frustrated with her.

But I really appreciated that things started to change, and she realizes the urgency of the situation early enough to start working with her security detail rather than being a stubborn TSTL.  That doesn't mean that she didn't still do a few stupid things to compromise her safety, but I'm not sure it was totally intentional on her part.

That was definitely a nice change of pace from other bodyguard plot devices where your heroine is usually stubborn to the point where she starts putting other people's lives in danger.

The security/bodyguard aspect of the story could have been cleaned up a little bit, truth be told.  I feel like there were more times when both Brynn and Ross were left more vulnerable than was appropriate, for two people being under security protection from a top security firm.  I feel like we probably should have spent more time on the security aspects of the book than Brynn's current, ongoing trial--though I also sort of enjoyed the trial, at the same time.

Erik didn't really stand out much, if I want to be honest.  He was a great character... but that was pretty much it.  I'm not sure what more I would have wanted.  He and Brynn had excellent companionship and chemistry... but I have little to say about him.  We didn't spend enough time delving into his personality or even character background for him to have mattered much to me, so that's kind of a shame.

Meanwhile, the main crime thriller conflict was just constant and non-stop.  It was fast-paced, it was intriguing, and the twist nearing the end was a nice one, even if not what I'd been expecting.  I was expecting some sort of twist, but I like the direction it ended up going... as vague as that sounds... but I don't want to give too much away.

Overall, this was an extremely entertaining read that made me remember why I always auto-buy Laura Griffin books.


***

 

 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(mystery, suspense, horror, or supernatural that was published after 10/31/17)


Other Possible Squares:  Genre: Suspense; Romantic Suspense; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-desperate-girls.html
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #5

 

 


Apparently I'm bound and determined not to read for a Bingo...  I had planned ton simply breezing through Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea for a quick, easy Bingo line (Row 2).  Now that Spellbound has been called, that is.  But I finished up Houses of Stone for Terrifying Women, and then just felt the need to start in on Desperate Girls... and before I knew it, I'm already 70% done with it and forcing myself to go to sleep.

 

 


I will be finishing up Desperate Girls before the night is over, which will give me at least one full row (the last one) read, then I just need to wait for Baker Street Irregulars to be called for another bingo.  I'm going to jump into Daughter of the Midway, which will automatically give me a bingo by filling in Creepy Carnivals... unless I get sidetracked, which would be sad, because the short story is only 32 pages.

 


Meanwhile, my reading plans have changed, yet again...

I ran to the library to pick up the book for the next Flat Book Society read... and on a whim browsed for the Vivien Chien cozy mystery, A Noodle Shop Mystery, and made a last minute decision to use the first book, Death by Dumpling as my Diverse Voices read.  I'm only on chapter one, but I like what I've read so far... and can really relate to some of the stuff Lana talks about in her introduction.  I think I'm going to enjoy this one!

 


I think, honestly, the one thing I'm super stoked about is how quickly I've finally caught up with my own Bingo card.  After finishing Desperate Girls and Daughter of the Midway, I will only have five more books to go for a Blackout.  At this point, I'm not sure if that's possible with only nine days left of the month, but I'm going to try!

At the very least, I've discovered three new authors I'm ecstatic about continuing to read from!  That's always a win in my book!

 


Now if everyone will excuse me, I've got some reading to do...

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 


So after much deliberation, I've decided to really personalize my card this year... and also because I just couldn't resist using this recent picture of our family dog.  I present to everyone the marker that will depict all of my Called Squares:

 

 
Dino Baby!  Rawr!


And that is the extent of my creativity this year... along with that tedious visual you see when you scroll down.  Because the markers for my Read Squares will simply by a book cover to set to the left  side of the square as Dino Baby roars at it from the right side of the square.

 

 

Currently Reading:

 

 

FOR FOR FOR

 

 

Squares/Books/Called Dates/Update Post Links:


Progress on my card:  20 squares called || 18 books read || 14 squares completed

Squares called that I do not have:
09/15/18 - Modern Masters of Horror
09/25/18 - Amateur Sleuth
09/29/18 - Supernatural
10/17/18 - Fear the Drowning Deep
10/21/18 - Country House Mystery

Halloween Bingo 2018: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Report Your Bingos!

October Group Read | Discussion Thread -- Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #1
It's Monday! Plus a Halloween Bingo Update, Just Because... | 09/17/2018
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #2
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Book Rambles at Mid-game
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #3

Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #4

*And also, when I've posted them, the book covers will link to my reviews.

 

Called:  10/01/18
Read:  10/19/18
Called:  09/21/18
Read:  
Called:  10/09/18
Read:  
Called: 09/09/18
Read:  10/05/18
Called: 10/05/18
Read:  09/18/18
~*~*~*~
Called: 09/05/18
Read:  10/11/18
Called: 09/03/18
Read:  10/14/18
Called:  09/27/18
Read:  10/13/18
Called: 09/17/18
Read:  
Called:  10/19/18
Read: 09/03/18
~*~*~*~
Called: 09/01/18
Read:  
Called: 09/23/18
Read:  10/17/18
Called:
Read:  
Called:  09/19/18
Read:  10/01/18
Called:
Read:  10/09/18
~*~*~*~
Called:
Read:  10/11/18
Called:10/11/18
Read:  10/06/18
Called:  10/07/18
Read:  10/17/18
Called:
Read:  09/27/18
Called:  09/13/18
Read:  
~*~*~*~
Called:  10/13/18
Read:  09/24/18
Called:  09/11/18
Read:  10/22/18
Called:  10/03/18
Read:  09/22/18
Called:
Read: 09/06/18
Called: 09/07/18
Read:  
Halloween Bingo 2018
Ani's Book Abyss

 

 

Wild Card Author:

 


I haven't decided which author to use as my Wild Card yet, but I've been considering using Nora Roberts, as she is a writer of a lot of crime thrillers, romantic suspense, and supernatural, including the Circle trilogy I've chosen for this year's bingo.

Other authors I'm also considering are: Susanna Kearsley, who writes Gothic with a bit of supernatural; Elizabeth Peters, who has a lot of cozy mysteries; or another obvious option, Agatha Christie!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/halloween-bingo-2018-update-5.html
Review
3 Stars
Thoughts: Buried Leads
Buried Leads - LynDee Walker

Buried Leads

by LynDee Walker
Book 2 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller

 

 

It wasn't the first time I'd smelled a dead body, but the faintly sweet, acrid stench didn't get less putrid with repeated exposure.

The scene was quiet for a body recovery, just as I'd hoped.  Not another reporter in sight.


When an Armani-clad corpse turns up in a shallow grave in the Virginia woods, Nichelle Clarke is the first reporter on the scene.  The victim is a tobacco lobbyist with a mysterious past, and Nichelle suspects that his shady business connections are what's driving local politicians to push for a quick arrest.  She soon uncovers a web of astonishing corruption: A dark trail of illegal kickbacks and high-end call girls that stretches all the way to Washington, D.C.

For Nichelle, it could be the news story of the year.  But the power players at the center of the plot have everything to lose, and Nichelle's crusade for the truth lands her right in the crosshairs of the killer.



This second book in the Nichelle Clarke series was maybe a little bit more disappointing than I had hoped.  Sure, it was still written well, and I still like Nichelle.  But I think I would like her better if she didn't blatantly ignore warnings of danger just to trudge forward without a care.  As much as I hated the scene with the stuffed Pomeranian toy, I'm glad that it kind of gave her a wake-up call... even if she still didn't really see the danger in the story she was pursuing.  At least she was taking some action to keep her puppy safe, even if she wasn't taking steps to keep herself safe.

The story pacing and the writing is still winning, though.  As I stated, I still like Nichelle.  I like that she's smart, resourceful, and has a way with puzzles.  I didn't really care for her trying to edge into another co-worker's area though, because it left me feeling like she was trying to steal someone else's job.  She'd been spending time complaining about Shelby trying to steal her job since book one, so it felt a little contradictory.  At the very least, she DOES finally admit that she's not trying to steal Trudy's political beat, and goes to Trudy with questions as well as offers the scoop to her co-worker.

It's a little too convenient, however, that Trudy dismisses Nichelle's insights, thus giving Nichelle a green light for continuing her investigation, conscience-free.

I AM glad for the fact that Nichelle covers more than just the "mystery of the week."  In fact, there are more mysteries going on in this book than I'd expected, and enough to keep readers guessing for hours.  Simply the mystery of the missing white chocolate syrup was lingering in the background.

But to be totally honest, the ending wasn't really all that surprising to me, even if I didn't see it coming.  And I felt like it was kind of abrupt.  All the other incidents that Nichelle covered in this book felt like they should have been separate incidents, but everything tied together in the end, though.  I'm not sure if I like that everything ties together in the end, or if I would have preferred to see Nichelle working an article on an incident that had nothing to do with the "mystery of the week," just to show us that there's more going on in this world than the one big convoluted scandal that serves as the main conflict in this book.

Meanwhile, I'm not a big fan of love triangles, but I could smell this one coming a mile away.  I don't know how to feel about it at the moment, because not a whole lot of character is given to either male love interest--at least not enough for me to like one over the other.  And since I don't like triangles, I'm really hoping that this one doesn't keep up for too long and Nichelle either chooses one guy... or chooses no one.  At this point, you can kind of see her leaning more towards Mr. "Call Me Joey," though it could have just been because of the fact that she and ATF Agent Kyle have a history she's reluctant to get into.

At this point, I am kind of glad that Nichelle's world doesn't revolve around her love interests.  They're really just afterthoughts for her at the moment, even if she finds both of them attractive and alluring.

I'm still not digging the color commentary about Shelby's bedroom habits--nor am I feeling the necessity of Shelby's "Mean Girl" act.  I don't feel like it brings much to the table--Nichelle's urgent deadlines still stand whether or not there's someone actively vying for her position.  The fact that she's got a friendly rivalry going on with Charlie from News Channel Four also serves to keeps her on her toes as is.

Otherwise, this second book of the series wasn't bad.  It wasn't incredible, nor was it as exciting or entertaining as the first, but it was still enjoyable, and fast-paced enough that I finished it in a breeze.

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(any murder mystery)


Other possible squares:  Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-buried-leads.html
Review
4.5 Stars
Rambling Thoughts: Discount Armageddon
Discount Armageddon - Seanan McGuire

Discount Armageddon

by Seanan McGuire
Book 1 of InCryptid

Ghoulies.  Ghosties.  Long-legged beasties.  Things that go bump in the night... and that's just the beginning.  The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them.  Enter Verity Price.  Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George.  To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...

A lifetime of training isn't enough to prepare Verity for what's ahead—especially not for Dominic De Luca, the Covenant's newest operative.  When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. 



I haven't been so giddy about a book, or a series, even, in a very long time.  Well... I take that back.  I'm sure I've had this reaction about a lot of other books recently, but Discount Armageddon just hit all the right spots so well that I ended up absolutely loving it!  This book was just so, so much fun to read, and I'm glad I picked it up for this year's Halloween Bingo game!

I'm a little abashed to admit that for a few seconds I vacillated between a 4.0 Star rating and what I eventually ended up giving this book: 4.5 Stars!  I'm not sure what the exact workings are in my mind, but I decided to just go on FEELS, and my FEELS told me that this book was worth ALL THE STARS.

This book isn't perfect, by any means, but it's darn near perfect enough to satisfy all of my particular needs.

I'm actually quite happy about this, to be honest, if only because I've never truly had a great standing with urban fantasies, as much as I would have loved to have a better relationship with them.  I love the concept of urban fantasies, and I've always wanted to find a great book series that would work for me.  I've always wanted to find a great television series in the urban fantasy genre that would work for me.

Obviously, I haven't been really looking in the right places.  As Discount Armageddon would prove, there's an urban fantasy out there for me after all.  Not that I've gone through a whole lot of them, but the ones I have tried to start never really stuck.  Even if I liked the first book, it was never compelling enough for me to continue the series, for one reason or another.  Namely, the romances never sit well with me, and a lot of times the side characters seem like a group of background cardboard cutouts.

The last urban fantasy I tried to start reading had a broody jackass of a male love interest that really didn't do anything for me.  And then I committed the ultimate sin of perusing reviews and summaries of the next few books just to find out that the jackass of a male love interest gets swapped out for a different jackass love interest...  Needless to say, that ruined my expectations and I never went back to that particular series.

But that is neither here, nor there, now.

Discount Armageddon had all the right elements that kept me wanting more, and had me wanting to find the next book and continue into the series--which, at the posting of this review, is exactly what has already happened!

Verity is the typical sassy, sarcastic, kickass female you will see in most urban fantasy stories.  But what I loved about her the most is that she also seems pretty down-to-earth, with the right amount of kickass, the right amount of sarcastic, and the right amount of just simple regular girl-next-door... if girl-next-door is a cryptozoologist who hunts monsters by night, waits tables at a strip club by day, and enters the occasional ballroom dance competitions.

Her random quips and one-liners sometimes got a little much, but were still extremely appreciated.

On top of having a great heroine in Verity, the rest of the characters were all unique and fun and interesting in their own right.  They didn't just hang around in the background, waiting to be part of the story, they were absolutely there as part of the world.  Everyone from Sarah, Verity's adopted cousin who is a Cuckoo; to Candy, the arrogant and grudge-holding Dragon Princess; to Verity's entire family; to even Dominic, the love interest.

Everyone had a colorful background, everyone had a purpose, and everyone is interesting enough on their own that I'd love to read books about all of them.

I can't wait to meet Antimony, Verity's baby sister; the baby sister who spent her childhood terrorizing her elder siblings by setting traps and snares on them for fun.  I'm not as interested in Alex--he didn't have as many fun traits as Antimony was described to have, but we'll see when we get to his books.

Coming back to the love interest, I found I really came to like Dominic.  As Verity had mentioned, he's got a learning curve and is willing to open his mind outside of what he's learned from growing up in the Covenant.  He starts off as kind of a jackass, but that was coming from his lifetime of ignorance.  I like that he's developing, step-by-step, and doesn't just sweep into the book as an asshole out to be an asshole just because he can.  And I like that Verity doesn't immediately start falling for him; that it takes that little bit-by-bit revelation that Dominic can be convinced to be open-minded and start understanding the world without Covenant-colored glasses.

The story itself didn't have a lot of direction in it until a good ways into the books.  Once it did, the action kept going at a fast enough pace to be exciting until the very end.  It's a nice intriguing mystery to go with the book, focusing on the missing female cryptids, and ending on an interesting bang.  I'm extremely looking forward to what the next book brings with the looming threat of the Covenant's possible purging of cryptid's from Manhattan hanging there.

Finally, as I bring this chaotic rambling to a close, I'm just going to say one last thing:

Aeslin mice.  Everyone should have their own colony of them.  Because I haven't been as enamored of a fictional, fantasy creature since Jayne Castle's dust bunnies were a thing.

Hail!

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(any supernatural creature, from Ammit to Ziz)


Other possible squares:  Shifters; Supernatural; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/rambling-thoughts-discount-armageddon.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Not Really a Review: Endless Night
Endless Night (Audio) - Agatha Christie, Hugh Fraser

Endless Night

by Agatha Christie
audio book narrated by Hugh Fraser

 

 

When penniless Michael Rogers discovers the beautiful house at Gypsy’s Acre and then meets the heiress Ellie, it seems that all his dreams have come true at once.  But he ignores an old woman’s warning of an ancient curse, and evil begins to stir in paradise.  As Michael soon learns: Gypsy’s Acre is the place where fatal “accidents” happen.



Well... I certainly did not see that ending coming.  Though in hindsight, I am not so surprised, despite the fact that I'm not very well-versed in Agatha Christie novels.  This is only the third of hers I've read, and I'm not quite sure what to make of this one in particular.

Did I like it?  Did I not like it?  I don't know anymore.  That ending more than made up for the drag that was the beginning... and yet, I still haven't quite recovered yet.

Also, when I'd updated about the marriage between Mike and Ellie not ending well... this was NOT what I had been thinking would happen.

I am going to need to mull this one over, but more than likely, I won't come up with anything more to say.

Well played, Dame Agatha.  Well played.

Also, on a side note, Hugh Fraser is a wonderful narrator.  I will definitely be keeping him on my radar.

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(any book that relates to bad luck, superstitions, including (but not limited to) black cats, ravens or crows, or the unlucky 13, either in the title, series, book cover or page count)

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/not-really-review-endless-night.html

currently reading

Progress: 204/910minutes
Progress: 43/291pages
Midnight Sacrifice - Melinda Leigh