Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? | 2/26/18
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

I have been so lazy this week in my reading life!  I wish I could blame it on work or family or whatever else that's going on in real life, but the truth is that, it's all just me.

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes you DO need a break from the things that you love.  And it's not even because I'm reading anything that I'm not enjoying.  I've just been finding other things I got more interested in doing.

Yeah, I know.  The blasphemy of it all!


Meanwhile, the weekend could have made up for my lack of reading... but lots of activity made it a bit impossible, so I can kind of blame family stuff for the lack of reading over the weekend.  Unfortunately, that doesn't really explain the rest of the week.

My brother's birthday was on Saturday, so the family decided to take a road trip to visit him and celebrate.  A three hour trip later, and we all joined together for a late lunch wherein I tried NOT to eat too much since my brother had said something about sushi for dinner.  We actually didn't get into KC until later than we'd expected, and then ended up waiting a good thirty minutes to an hour before lunch was served.


We went to a bar and grill called The Yard House, where they had a LOT of beers on tap to choose from.  There was a room, or rather a whole hallway, of beer kegs by the entrance for the pleasure of viewing, and they were all connected to the bar via lines running along the ceiling inside metal box tunnels.  And while I'm not really a big fan of beer, I've found myself drawn to the more roasty ones lately.  So I got myself the Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter.  My youngest brother had wanted to order something called a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, but they were out of that--so sad, because it actually sounded kind of tasty, and I was going to try to steal a sip from my brother.

Anyway, as you can see from the photos above, my meal included two appetizers: a Korean BBQ boneless wing platter, and some pork lumpia.  The boneless wings really just tasted more like a spicy sweet and sour chicken with a slight hint of Korean BBQ, and came with a weird sauce that may or may not have been some sort of mustardy mayo... maybe.  And the pork lumpia wasn't really much to write home about.  They were good, but the real star of the entire show was the creamy truffle dipping sauce that my pork lumpia appetizer came with.  It came with a sweet chili sauce as well, but really, who cared about that one in the face of that creamy truffle sauce that tasted all sorts of wonderful, so much so that I started dipping my brother's fries in it just to use it all up, then requested another ramekin for the rest of the fries on my parents' meal?

I was fawning over it so much that everyone at the table just started making fun of me, and my mom even looked up a recipe only to find out how expensive a bottle of truffle oil was.

I don't have more pictures, if only because this KC road trip isn't something new for us--we visit on a regular basis.  Even sushi dinner is quite typical... and also I didn't really enjoy the sushi dinner that night as much as I did my appetizer lunch.  Which is sad because I love sushi, but this place my brother took us to wasn't that great, in my opinion.

All-in-all, it was a nice weekend trip, and I look forward to another one.  I've been wanting to check out the Brazilian steakhouse in KC, called Fogo de Chão; my family just needs to psychologically prepare themselves for the onslaught of all you can eat meat, apparently.



What I Read Last Week




What I'm Currently Reading




What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans On the Blog

I've got two series reviews ready to push out as soon as I finish reading the last of Jill Shalvis's Animal Magnetism and Kylie Brant's Tremaine Traditions.  They'll be out at some point the week after, if not this week.  Meanwhile, with March coming around the corner, I get to pick another Reading Assignment book, and I chose Kylie Brant's Pretty Girls Dancing, which I've been wanting to read since the beginning of the year when it came out.

Meanwhile, I've got one review I'm going to give a quick edit to, and then it'll get posted either today or tomorrow.

That's pretty much it for now.



It's Monday! Happy Year of the Dog! | 2/18/2018
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

First of all, Happy Year of the Dog to everyone out there!

The lunar calendar made it's round to the new year on Friday, and obviously Baby approves of the occasion, as it is going to be the Year of Baby!  Or, well... you know...


The weekend was kind of filled with a bit of fun and festivities, although not as much as we used to have when I was younger.  With everyone busy, busy, busy these days, it's hard to find a good time to get together for much.  At the very least, our immediate household did our thing with yummy, traditional feast food that always seems to grace the table whenever we celebrate anything!

There is always roast duck, roast pork, a lovely seafood soup, the big pot of tofu and veggie stir-fry, and various other savory dishes of the seafood variety (or not).  And then to top it all off, we have our steamed white rice that was cooked with the very flavorful Chinese sausage--with all of that sausage oil being dripped into the rice, it gives it a delicious touch.

Everyone, this food is not for the light of heart.  We Chinese love to eat flavorful and savory... and apparently we also love to eat oily and anything that will probably give us high cholesterol.

But, hey!  It's just so, so yummy!

I suppose the diet will finally start after this last holiday is over... *crosses fingers*



What I Read Last Week


Meanwhile, in bookish news, I've been slacking on my reading, which makes me extremely glad that I hadn't truly made a lot of reading challenge commitments.  I started reading two books this week, but didn't finish Cold Image until just this morning, in the wee hours a little after midnight.  It took longer than it should have, for many reasons...

Cold Image is bite-sized, and I typically would have flown right through it like it was nothing, being a romantic suspense with a lot of factors I liked, and a premise that was quite promising.  But time got away from me... and the book wasn't what I'd expected from Leslie Kelly after reading others of her works, and I was sadly disappointed.  There will be a review to come at some point.

Aside from getting sucked into an online multiplayer RPG with my brothers, I've also been indulging in a YouTube vlog called 'Strictly Dumpling.'  The host of this vlog introduces you to a lot of wonderful cuisines in places such as New York, San Francisco, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and most recently Vietnam.  And if it's one thing I love just as much as books, it's food, and Mikey Chen, the host of this vlog, does a wonderful job of showing us great places to visit and eat.

His focus is on Asian cuisine, which was how his vlog started off in the beginning, but I like that he's trying to branch out as well, as there is a food vacation tour of Peru as well.  I mainly have been loving this YouTube channel because this guy is strangely funny, with weird descriptions and analogies that sometimes make no sense.

Meanwhile, I don't always agree with a lot of his opinions pertaining to Chinese food, but I still love the way he presents them at his channel.  If anyone is interested, hop on over and watch a few if you like.  I highly recommend his most recent Vietnam vacation, as he features a lot of really awesome looking food for uber wonderfully affordable prices... well, after the plane ticket, I suppose.

Anyway... now back to our not-so-regularly scheduled bookish news...



What I'm Currently Reading


Meanwhile, I have a feeling I might have started loving All I Want because of our heroine, Zoe, but I tend to forget that Jill Shalvis is best taken in small doses.  As I had already finished listening to two other books in this series... I think I might be a bit Jill Shalvis-ed out.  I'm going to go ahead and continue listening to this book, as it is also narrated by one of my favorite audio book voices, and it's not like things are getting too tedious.  There are just always some Jill Shalvis elements that I will find a bit... repetitive, as well as frustrating.

On the other hand, I also started reading the third Tremaine Traditions book by Kylie Brant, Truth or Lies, and am immensely enjoying, having already breezed through the first quarter of the book.  The main hero, however, is annoying the heck out of me, and I'm hoping some development will come about rather than our heroine falling for him just because he's supposed to be badass.  She's smarter than that, and if it's one thing Kylie Brant is good at, it's writing smart heroines who aren't always losing their panties just because a man has a smoldering gaze.



What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans On the Blog

As you can see above, I'm hoping to finish the rest of Kylie Brant's Tremaine Traditions, hopefully all this week, or at least by next week.  In which case, I'll have a full series review ready to publish at some point.  Following, I'm interested in continuing on with my Author Love challenge and hit another Jayne Ann Krentz book, or two.  Light in Shadow and Truth or Dare are books in a duology called Whispering Springs, and I'm looking forward to it... also I've checked out the second book from the library, so it needs to get read.

The blog has been sadly quiet lately, but with all the holiday "festivities" over, I'm hoping on getting some more posts planned and ready to go.  Maybe I'll be able to start some more books and have more reviews ready.  Maybe I'll just work on transferring more previously written reviews to Ani's Book Abyss.  Or maybe I'll just start filling out weekly memes again, just to have something to blog about.

I've already started drafting a few future posts, and am trying to figure out where to go from there.

Either way, like I keep promising, I really want to start being more active once again.  It feels oddly depressing to be away from the blogging community for so long just because I can't think of anything to write about.  And a lot of the time, I'm really just lurking, reading posts and commenting randomly.



3 Stars
Thoughts: That's Amore!
That's Amore!: Meet the ParentsI Do, Don't I?There Goes the Groom - Tori Carrington, Janelle Denison, Leslie Kelly

That's Amore! -- anthology
Authors include: Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, and Leslie Kelly
Book 2 of Santori Stories

Average Rating:  3.1 Stars
(Includes personal rating:  3.0 Stars)



It's way too late to elope....

Meet the Parents by Janelle Denison

Like all dutiful Hawaiian daughters, Leila Malekala is expected to marry a Hawaiian groom handpicked by her parents.  But guess what, Mom and Dad?  Leila has wedding plans of her own.  The groom is California bad boy Jason Crofton... and the bride is pregnant.

I Do, Don't I? by Tori Carrington

Efi Panayotopoulou is about to marry her childhood sweetheart Nick Constantino.  Everything should be perfect.  But their families seem hell-bent on turning the wedding into a farce-or Greek tragedy.  And Efi is about a baklava flake away from running off... without her groom.

There Goes the Groom by Leslie Kelly

Luke Santori is engaged to "a nice Italian girl" from his Chicago neighborhood.  But wedding plans get tossed-like unbaked dough at his family's pizzeria-when Luke falls for blond-haired, blue-eyed Rachel Grant... the dressmaker designing his fiancee's bridal gown.

I'm really not a fan of the romantic Valentine's holiday, but I'm also a hopeless romantic and love to love some sweet, fluffy contemporary romances.  What better way to celebrate the holiday than an anthology of contemporary romances called That's Amore! that is based around three wedding novellas.  One of which was written by an author I like!

Meet the Parents by Janelle Denison
Rating:  3.5 Stars

This novella was cute, and I found a lot of the Hawaiian traditions quite interesting as well.  I liked that there wasn't a whole lot of angst in this sweet love story, even if there was a bit of a conflict involving the groom-to-be and his in-laws.  I wish I could say that I found Leila's parents a bit frustrating in their disapproval of her chosen husband... but the truth is, it doesn't surprise me, because I've seen more than my fair share of the same behavior among my own Asian relatives.

It's tiring, and yes, also frustrating.  But something that happens.  But we get a Happily Ever After in this novella, which is what counts.  That's probably more than I can say for other stories I've seen with the same, stubborn types of parental units who are more concerned with tradition than seeing how happy their children are.

A nice little read.  And while I'm a little reluctant to say that it was also a little boring... well, it kind of was.

I Do, Don't I? by Tori Carrington
Rating:  2.5 Stars

This novella was really full of crazy.  And while I loved seeing all the Greek wedding traditions, and reading about the loud, raucous actions of all of Efi's and Nick's relatives, and just overall witnessing a week full of partying and celebration... I couldn't help but feel extremely frustrated with both sides of the family.  This is why a lot of couples end up eloping...

And then maybe I was a bit frustrated with Nick as well.  It probably didn't help that we mostly followed Efi's point of view up until one small scene at the end of the novella.  I honestly would have liked to have seen more of the entire affair from Nick's point of view.  Because without his side of things, the story just felt like Efi was bearing all the stress of the wedding planning and the family crazy... while Nick just skated by and waited to get married.

Nonetheless, this story was a fun one, even if a little over-laden with angst, conflict, and made-for-television antics.

I would have liked to have seen a show down between Efi and Aphrodite, though I suppose it wouldn't really have been in good humor.  I would have liked to see more mature understanding from Nick--the fact that he seemed to be oblivious to everything, including cousin Aphrodite's attempts to seduce him made me cringe a little bit.  The fact that Nick had even entertained thoughts of doing anything with Aphrodite at all made me a little wary of how this marriage will be going forward; especially when Efi's confrontation didn't even seem to get through to his thick, ignorant head.

The fact that Nick has no idea that Efi had dreams of her own that shouldn't have been impeded by wedding vows felt a little immature.  In fact, neither of the two seemed to know what the other wanted, or had been expecting out of this marriage at all.  It got to a point where I was wondering if they were just getting married because it was expected for the two high school sweethearts--that they were in love with the idea of being in love and getting married, more than they were in love with each other.

Anyway... fun as fun was, this story turned out more like a family affair of crazy rather than a sweet romance.  It certainly DOES bring a realistic tone to all the crazy events that usually lead up to a wedding day.  Especially when family and relatives tend to get a little too involved.

There Goes the Groom by Leslie Kelly
Rating:  3.5 Stars

The premise of this novella could have gone in all sorts of bad directions--with an engaged man and his fiancee's dressmaker falling for one another, this could have been a disaster.  Fortunately, our lovely author managed to handle the events quite well, and we simply end up with a case of two people marrying for the wrong reasons.  Our hero sort of works through his own issues with the help of the heroine, as well as his brothers.

Simply put, this novella was a sweet one.

One of the things I DID NOT appreciate were the little comments here and there from our heroine that came off a little judgmental about random people in the story.  Some of those comments, honestly, I felt were uncalled for.

Meanwhile, this story also made me want a pizza...



4.5 Stars
Thoughts: A Treacherous Curse
A Treacherous Curse - Deanna Raybourn

A Treacherous Curse
by Deanna Raybourn
Book 3 of Veronica Speedwell



London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.

His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess.  This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.

Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

This third, newest installment of Veronica Speedwell was as magnificent as the previous two books in the series; and, dare I say, maybe even better paced and better outlined than the previous two books as well.  After having read Deanna Raybourn's Julia Grey series, I had found that she often will take her sweet time getting to the heart of the story's mystery or conflict.  The same had happened with the first Veronica Speedwell book, A Curious Beginning.  The previous books in this series, A Perilous Undertaking stepped up the pacing a bit and came out quite enjoyable, with only a few too deliberate instances of dialogue that might have bugged me a little bit.

A Treacherous Curse got right to the point of the mystery, and might have even cut back down on some of the unnecessary declarations of Veronica's openness about her own sexual awareness.  It was still there, though; it seems that the books cannot pass without reminding the reader several times how modern Veronica is, by over-emphasizing her not-so-with-the-times behavior.  I don't mind knowing that Veronica is so open and forward-thinking; and I absolutely love that she's not a doormat, and will not allow for anyone to beat her down.

But I really don't need to be reminded of it on such a regularly scheduled basis.

As for the mystery, I think I particularly liked this one because of its tie-ins with archaeology, with an emphasis in Egyptology.  These things have always been fascinating to me, and I found the exchanges between Veronica, Stoker, and the people they were interviewing quite interesting.  There were many red herrings to contend with, and when you think you might have figured out what was going on... well, I got proven wrong once, at the very least concerning John de Morgan's disappearance.

Meanwhile, I love the strong emphasis on Veronica and Stoker's friendship, which borders on the romantic, yet not romantic.  They have a wonderful bond, which is quite intimate considering the fact that neither of the two are even remotely ready to start falling in love with each other.  And truth be told, while I'm a hopeless romantic, I'm kind of enjoying the two of them just being partners-in-crime, and am a little wary of the moment when, or even if, they decide to step their relationship up to a more steamy, romantic one.

What I think I'm loving the most is that Veronica and Stoker have a great understanding of one another.  And that no matter how terribly Veronica pisses Stoker off, or vice versa, the two of them still partner up and continue on their friendship, putting their conflict on hold until they find the time to deal with it.  I love that they actually talk to each other, and communicate their feelings.  I know that there were still a lot of secrets that the two of them are keeping from each other, but I love that they understand that about the other, and no one is pushing for a tell-all session.

Meanwhile, I also love that the two of them are so fiercely protective of each other.  It's a great friendship, even if it's sometimes a little lacking in chemistry.

I think I also liked that this book centered so much on Stoker and what had happened to him during his back story of tragic happening.  We've already had a little bit of Veronica's tale, so I'm very appreciative that we get to see some of Stoker's past--we've gotten so little of it, save for the obvious animosity he holds towards his brothers and his family.


I really look forward to the next installment, and to be honest, I don't know what to expect, and I'm not even sure what I want to expect.  I think I'm just going to be ecstatic to get a little more of the Veronica and Stoker banter.



4 Stars
Quick Thoughts: Illusion Town
Illusion Town (Illusion Town Novel, An) - Jayne Castle

Illusion Town
by Jayne Castle
Book 13 of Harmony



A new adventure begins on Harmony…

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique -- and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all.  For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband.  All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse.  The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity -- as well as other parts of her mind and body.  And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light -- and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…

Somehow, Illusion Town ended up feeling more present-day-earth-like... if that makes any sense.  The Harmony books are set in a futuristic world, on a planet in outer space with aliens and such.  And the past few Harmony books in the Rainshadow sub-series had started feeling less futuristic-spacey until about three books in, when the catacombs came back into the game.

And now Illusion Town comes around, with it's Vegas-like setting, a few references to the Arcane Society, and maybe a few instances of catacombs, and we stop feeling like Harmony once again.  If not for the presence of Virgil, the dust bunny, and the random mentions of the aliens and their catacombs, this could have been any random paranormal romantic suspense book in a present day Vegas-like city.

But really, that was my only quibble.

I liked the whole memory loss schtick, as awkward as the whole scenario was carried out.  Truthfully, it could have been executed a little bit better, but it wasn't terrible.  Watching Hannah and Elias piece their way backwards from a post psi-burn memory loss that somehow led to a Marriage of Convenience with no recollection of how they got there, waking up in a seedy motel together was interesting.  Even if the twisty reveals could have been handled a little less deliberately.

Meanwhile, another tie-in to the Arcane Society was also quite nice.  I liked having a dreamlight talent brought back to the forefront and found Hannah's dream walking skill an interesting one, though I would have liked a more in-depth look at it.  A lot of the story and the character biographies of both our hero and heroine felt a bit glossed over.  The developing bond and romance was sweet, even if not as steamy as I would have liked.

Again, I wished there could have been more of our dust bunny companion, but Virgil felt a bit left out.

Nonetheless, this is still a wonderful Jayne Castle slash Jayne Ann Krentz at her formulaic best, and I absolutely am looking forward to more in the Harmony series!



4 Stars
Quick Thoughts: Siren's Call
Siren's Call - Jayne Castle

Siren's Call
by Jayne Castle
Book 12 of Harmony
-- Book 4 of Rainshadow



In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels.  But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets…

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death.  That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent.  He knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him...

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why.  Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows.  She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame…

This book was entirely enjoyable and entirely Jayne Ann Krentz, with her usual formulaic romance, and standard great characters.  I'm not complaining, but it DOES end up becoming a tad bit forgettable when the stories are always the same, even with a new adventure, a new addition to the ongoing series' conflict, and new developments with the overall Harmony world.

For this particular installment, I DID really like the entire Siren aspect of Ella's paranormal abilities, and enjoyed the references to "Old World" mythologies, as the characters like to put it.  I like knowing what kinds of abilities our characters possess, so even if the explanations seem a bit far-fetched, it's interesting to know that Ella's musical talent also resonates with glass and can make it... melt.

Rafe's abilities were a bit confusing, although knowing that he's lost his own, original abilities and is stuck in a psi-fever was an interesting twist.

I still love the atmosphere and the creativity of Rainshadow Island, as well as the newly discovered catacombs there.  The creation of Wonderland was quite interesting--kind of like a futuristic, alien Jurassic Park, frozen in time, and completely blue.

And then, once again, I would definitely like to see more of the dust bunnies.  While the previous installment had a wonderful appearance by our dust bunnies, I feel like this one was kind of lacking.  I mean, Lorelei was great with her powdered donut obsession, and her attachment to a wedding veil with sparkly crystals.  But she didn't really get a whole lot of story other than that, to be honest.

Nonetheless, this was still a wonderfully enjoyable paranormal, romantic suspense written by a wonderful author!



Maybe Put On Hold For Now: The Heir
The Heir  (Duke's Obsession,#1) - Grace Burrowes

The Heir
by Grace Burrowes
Book 1 of Windham
-- Book 1 of Duke's Obsession trilogy

Rating:  None -- Book put on hold for time being

I am just not getting into this book, which is quite disappointing since the synopsis seemed quite interesting to me.  On top of that, I'm interested in some of the later books in the Windham series, as well as spin-off series.

But this book simply dragged out something terrible.  And to be frank, I'm not really sure what's actually going on except that I got terribly bored with the mundane, very banal goings-on of our hero and heroine as they tip-toe around each other in a very exhaustively, boring courtship.

I'm hoping it was just my mood that left me grasping for more, so I'm just going to give up on The Heir for the time being, and maybe come back to it another day.



Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- January 2018

The beginning of the year and the end of the year are usually the slowest reading times for me.  I don't know if it's because of the holidays or what, but it happens.  So, to be honest, finishing seven full length novels, one novella, and two short stories was not bad for January.  Having to put one book on hold was not cool, but I just wasn't getting anywhere, and if it's one thing that I know a lot of other readers can empathize with, it's the fact that you tend to drag on starting a new book when you've still got one going, no matter how bad said book is dragging.

Obviously, I'm hoping that my reading mood will pick up, and I'll learn to pull that DNF trigger sooner rather than later.



January Reads


Also Read:
-- Madame Esmeralda Makes a Prediction, short story by Courtney Milan
-- Dark Horizon, short story by Courtney Milan



Books Dropped/Put On Hold



I am just not feeling this book and am finding it boring.  I'd love to just put it on hold, but I have a distinct feeling that I may not come back to it.  Although with my obsession with reading books in certain particular orders, I may give this another try in the future and maybe it'll appeal to me a bit more.



Currently Reading




January Reading Stats


Total works read: 10

  • 7 print/e-book novels
  • 1 novella
  • 2 short stories

Average rating:  3.15 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  4 books // 4.0 Stars
    • (1) Deception Cove by Jayne Castle
    • (2) Entrapment by Kylie Brant
    • (3) The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle
    • (4) Siren's Call by Jayne Castle
  • Lowest Rated:  Snowbound with the Notorious Rake by Sarah Mallory // 2.0 Stars

Series I started reading:

  • Tremaine Traditions by Kylie Brant


Series I completed:

  • None


Series I have made progress on:

  • Tracers by Laura Griffin
  • Harmony by Jayne Castle


Favorite reads:  I started in on my Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krentz marathon, apparently.  A couple months ago, I decided to join Because Reading's Author Love Challenge and chose to read books written by Jayne Ann Krentz, because, let's face it, I love her!  And so with four Harmony books left to catch up with (with the hopes that this series is continuing), I decided just to dive right into the challenge with a strong start.  So I knocked out three, and will finish the fourth, of the books I have left to read in the series, and loved them all!  Going strong with this one.

Meanwhile, there was also Kylie Brant, always a delight, and I plan to finish the rest of the Tremaine Traditions as soon as I finish the books I'm currently reading.

On an aside, I didn't finish reading Deanna Raybourn's A Treacherous Curse in January, but I'm sure that if I had done so, said book would definitely have been on my list of January favorites.


Disappointing reads:  I had been resigned to think that January was going to be a bad reading month until Jayne Castle happened and I decided to just dive into books I one hundred percent felt like reading.  None of that planning B.S. for me.  However, the month had started off a bit rocky with some less than delightful short stories, and a worse novella, by an author I love.  Yikes!

Then came Snowbound with the Notorious Rake and things weren't looking so great.  It also didn't help that I was started to become very bored with Grace Burrowes's The Heir.  This was a very disappointing development, as there are a lot of other Grace Burrowes books I am interested in reading--some of her more recent works.  And with my penchant for wanting to read things in publication order... well...  I'm hoping I'll come back to The Heir at a later time and maybe enjoy it better.



Reviews & Notable Posts


Reviews Written




Other Posts



Coming Up In February


Tentative TBR



Other Stuff

My tentative reading list for February is skimpier than I normally plan for each month, but that isn't because there are no books I'm looking forward to reading.  As a matter of fact, there are just way too many books I'm wanting to read!  And as I'm trying really hard NOT to make solid reading itineraries, I'm only mentioning the books I'm ready to jump into next, as well as my February Reading Assignment selection.

That's Amore is an anthology I've had sitting on my TBR and my digital shelf for a couple years now, and so it was put on my Reading Assignment list as a last resort to get it read.  It is the second book in the Santori Stories anthology series, and I have been looking for a chance to get it read.  What better time than February, the month of Valentines and romance?  Or something like that.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to finishing the last two books in the Tremaine Traditions, as I'd previously planned to read them during my failed 24in48 Readathon attempt.

My other plans for this year include the Author Love challenge, and my goal is to try to read at least one book by Jayne Ann Krentz every month.  Of course, that was when I thought I'd only read one book a month instead of, say, three in January.  And one almost finished for February.  Nonetheless, I'm kind of feeling the need to insert the next JAK books I'd like to jump into, whether or not I read them in February: the Whispering Springs duology that my BFF read and didn't really care for.  Let's see how I like them!



2018 Wrap-Ups 


Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups (2016 / 2017)
See Also: 2015 Reading Wrap-Up posts (scroll to bottom of page)

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


4 Stars
Quick Thoughts: The Hot Zone
The Hot Zone - Jayne Castle

The Hot Zone
by Jayne Castle
Book 11 of Harmony
-- Book 3 of Rainshadow



The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island.  Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret...…

Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true.  Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick.  But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare.  Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.

And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her.  Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town.  He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow….

I've always liked how the Harmony and Arcane Society books will often interweave with each other.  And it feels like now that we have alien catacombs and ghost hunters back in the story, we've returned to the main story line of the Harmony series.  Previously, in an earlier installment's review, I'd mentioned how I sometimes would forget that these Rainshadow books were part of the futuristic Harmony world.  Because even in spite of having the alien created Preserve on the island, the first couple Rainshadow installments really just felt like a bunch of psychics on an island, during present day.

But with the discovery of the alien catacombs leading into the dangerous Preserve, as well as some discoveries of psychically evolved beasts, we're starting to feel more like the futuristic non-Earth world of Harmony once again.  And to top it off, we're bringing back the Joneses and including a descendant of Arizona Snow--a character we met briefly in two previous Arcane Society books--who was known to be a bit eccentric with some conspiracy theories.

And... for some reason, while we continue moving forward with our new Rainshadow discoveries, I also found that this book felt a little suspiciously like a mish-mash of ideas.  There's the Halloween setting, and then the small town "we take care of our own" dialogue.  Then there's the strange, crystal blue alien Jurassic Park in an unknown sector of the alien catacombs, with singing predators and a lead-in to our next book in the Rainshadow series, Siren's Call.  Because now we want to explore this unknown territory, but it'll be hard to do so when alien bio-engineered dinosaurs can sing you to your death.

Once again, I always love the inclusion of the dust bunnies, and am glad that we get to see more of them, and that Sedona's dust bunny companion, Lyle, gets to save the day a few times.

I'm so ready to move onto the next book to see what develops next... and also a little concerned that the series seems to be coming to its end.  Unless, of course, Ms. Castle still has some ideas in the works and we've just yet to see another published book yet... pretty please?



24in48 January 2018 Readathon: Wrap Up


Yeah... We're done.


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

So... This is probably the most scattered, unproductive 24in48 readathon I've done since I participated for the first time a couple years ago.  I'm not even sure I really tried all that hard, and barely finished one book... if you count the 30% of Entrapment I finished plus the 75% of Siren's Call I managed to read.

I suppose I just wasn't in the right mood.  And then I just stopped keeping track--not mattering how loosely I was tracking in the first place--of how many minutes/hours I'd been spending reading.

I guess there's always July to give it another go.



Books Read




Still Reading




24in48 January 2018 Readathon: Hour Thirty-Five and a Half Update


The second update!  Because I've been lazy...


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

So after posting my first 24in48 update, I promptly went to cook myself some food, fully intending to eat and read at the same time.  And because I over-estimated myself, I thought I would also open up my video game and play passively at the same time.  But then my brother logged into the game and we ended up sucked into it for hours.

The only time I could read were during really, really passive-play times.  And so, while I spent more time than I like playing, I DID manage to get about two hours, scattered, of reading done with Siren's Call.

That is all.  There must be something about readathon weekends that just doesn't allow me to make time to read.  I mean, I could make time, but I always end up doing something else.  Le sigh...

Meanwhile, my snack plans were still useful, I suppose.  Chips, popcorn shrimp... we didn't actually have pizza rolls.  But since I'm craving pizza rolls, there's a high chance I will end up going out and getting some before the rest of the day is over.



Books Read

No books were finished since the last update.



Currently Reading


The Heir by Grace Burrowes | 455 pages
-- 0 pages read in 0 hours

To be honest, I'm not really getting into this book, so the likelihood I will actually read any of it during this weekend is kind of slim.  Still, it is still one of the books I'm currently reading, so on the off-chance that I decide I'm going to give it a go, I'll go ahead and list it here.



Then Came You by Jill Shalvis | 572 minutes
-- 0 minutes listened to

I like having an audio book going for anytime I think I'm going to need to use my hands and my focus for something else for some time.  If I'm doing some passive, mindless activity, like blogging or playing video games, then these handy little lovelies are wonderful.

Of course, I'm also not quite enjoying this particular Jill Shalvis book... yet.  I do hope it picks up soon, but I'm starting to feel a bit wary of our main couple, and I'm only a little over an hour into the book...



Siren's Call by Jayne Castle | 232 pages
-- 68 pages read in ~2 hours

I had fully intended to give this book a full hour of reading after I woke up this morning.  But then I started blogging and time got away from me.  So I ended up only devoting about half an hour, if that at all, to this book.  It was probably more like 20 minutes, but details...




24in48 January 2018 Readathon: Hour Twelve Update


The first update!  Because I slept like a log...


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

I woke up around approximately 10:00 A.M. to realize that I had dreamed I'd been reading.  Erego, I probably should just wake up and get started on this readathon!

I don't like doing constant progress updates, but have always intended at least an update every twelve hours, starting from the official Hour Zero... but that doesn't always happen, so you end up with those little gems like "Hour Forty-One... and a Half" for some old thon updates.  Life happens.

Anyway, after pulling my lazy self out of bed, I managed to make progress on one new book!  Excellent stuff!  And while I'd like to claim that I finished reading one of my current reads within these two hours I've been away, well, that's not what happened.  I actually did not pass out right away after posting my "Thon Starts Now!" update, and ended up finishing Entrapment by Kylie Brant, which took approximately one and a half hours to finish.

Meanwhile, during the time I've been awake this morning, I was able to squeeze about half and hour of reading in with Jayne Castle's Siren's Call.

And no, like usual, I'm rounding my time, because I haven't been able track my reading time properly since the first time I participated in this readathon.

Hope everyone else is having a fine time this weekend, with lots of books and snacks and activity!



Books Read


Entrapment by Kylie Brant | 245
-- 83 pages read in 1.5 hours

So here's one book finished, even though I technically only had about 30% left to read.  I had hoped to have Entrapment finished before the readathon weekend started so I could just start in on the rest of the books on my plan, but as I'd stated earlier, I got sucked into a video game, and stuff happened.

So instead, Entrapment gets included in my list of thon books for this winter!  Now we're moving along to the next read!




Currently Reading


The Heir by Grace Burrowes | 455 pages
-- 0 pages read in 0 hours

To be honest, I'm not really getting into this book, so the likelihood I will actually read any of it during this weekend is kind of slim.  Still, it is still one of the books I'm currently reading, so on the off-chance that I decide I'm going to give it a go, I'll go ahead and list it here.



Then Came You by Jill Shalvis | 572 minutes
-- 0 minutes listened to

I like having an audio book going for anytime I think I'm going to need to use my hands and my focus for something else for some time.  If I'm doing some passive, mindless activity, like blogging or playing video games, then these handy little lovelies are wonderful.

Of course, I'm also not quite enjoying this particular Jill Shalvis book... yet.  I do hope it picks up soon, but I'm starting to feel a bit wary of our main couple, and I'm only a little over an hour into the book...



Siren's Call by Jayne Castle | 232 pages
-- 19 pages read in 0.5 hours

I had fully intended to give this book a full hour of reading after I woke up this morning.  But then I started blogging and time got away from me.  So I ended up only devoting about half an hour, if that at all, to this book.  It was probably more like 20 minutes, but details...




Read-a-thon: 24in48 January 2018 Starts Now!

Er... well, maybe a couple hours ago.  But late is better than not!!


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

I had fully intended to start at midnight and get a couple hours of reading done before I passed out.  But then I got sucked into a video game with the brothers, and then time got away from me.  Nonetheless, I DID try to sneak a few paragraphs of one of my books in every few pauses in the gaming!  I'm planning on passing out within minutes of posting this update, and then starting fresh in the morning... or mid-morning, I suppose.

I have the whole weekend off!  However, I have to be up early for work on Monday, so that means that I will probably cut off my reading around 9:00 P.M. or 10:00 P.M., CST on Sunday night.  Oh well, hopefully that'll still give me enough time to get at least one and half books read.  Because that always seems to be the extent of my accomplishments for 24in48 thus far.

Currently I'm reading...


My main goal this readathon is basically to make progress on the books from one of two different series: either the last two, currently available books of the Harmony series by Jayne Castle, or the last two books of the Tremaine Tradition series by Kylie Brant.  I'm not sure in which direction I'm going, but I've checked out both Siren's Call and Illusion Town from the library, and so it is more likely I'm going that way!

Hopefully I'll be able to finish reading one, if not two, of the books.

Readathon Hopefuls:


What's everyone else reading this weekend?



4 Stars
Quick Thoughts: Deception Cove
Deception Cove (Rainshadow, #2; Harmony, #10) - Jayne Castle

Deception Cove
by Jayne Castle
Book 10 of Harmony
-- Book 2 of Rainshadow



In the world of Harmony, Rainshadow Island is home to a mysterious preserve, secrets that have been kept for centuries, and a treasure worth killing for...

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident.  But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm.  Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode...

Deception Cove continues the Rainshadow conflict, picking up where The Lost Night left off, with the search for the last two crystals, and well as figuring out what's causing the Preserve to become so psi-hot, as our characters put it.  The entire community of Rainshadow is in darkness with the electricity being affected, and no outside resources able to land as the psi-hot atmosphere is causing dangerous travel.

Drake Sebastian and Alice North were both mentioned from the previous book, and it was pretty much a gimme who the main couple would be for this following installment.

Despite being the same typical romance formula that Jayne Castle is known for, I found that I really loved this installation of the series a lot.  I think it mainly has to do with the atmosphere and the setting.  In a sense, it kind of reminded me of some video games I used to play, where your game character travels to an unknown land and ends up trapped there until you can defeat the big boss of that level.  Meanwhile, there is no electricity, and you must solve the conflict by speaking with the mysterious in-game inhabitants.

I mean, that wasn't the plot of this book, in particular, but we still have that "stranded on an island" feeling, with no electricity, and our main characters must resolve the conflict to save the day.  Work and plan by day; get indoors and away from the mysterious hallucinogenic fog by night.  A very intriguing synopsis, indeed.

Meanwhile, I really DO love a lot of the new developments that keep popping up in this long-running Harmony series.

If there is one thing about these books, however, that kind of make me roll my eyes, it would be the deliberate pop culture references by our characters.  Someone always brings up some real-time present day thing in these books, which are technically historical to them.  But it feels both amusing and a little tacky at the same time.  I'm not saying I don't enjoy them--they bring a little bit of strange humor to the books--but they feel awkward as well.

Meanwhile, I'm still a little confused about a few psychic abilities, and am trying really, really hard not to slam on the whole "psychic recognition of your one true love" thing.  It's quite obvious that each couple's set-up for the past few books is bringing the "psychic compatibility" thing as part of the romantic attraction.  Why can't we just have a "getting to know each other" romance without bringing the whole "psychically compatible and meant for each other" theme into it all?

Last, but definitely not least, Houdini made an exception dust bunny addition to our book, even if his presence felt a bit lacking.  Once again, I wished we could have seen more of our dust bunny friends, as Darwina, from the previous book, gets a little bit of book time, though not quite enough.

Nonetheless, a very enjoyable experience!



2 Stars
Very Brief Thoughts: Snowbound with the Notorious Rake
Snowbound with the Notorious Rake - Sarah Mallory

Snowbound with the Notorious Rake
by Sarah Mallory



One wicked Christmas night…

Trapped by a blizzard, the sight of notorious rogue Sir Lawrence Daunton almost makes schoolteacher Rose Westerhill turn back into the snow!  When it becomes apparent she has nowhere else to go Rose accepts his offer of shelter, vowing to remain indifferent to his practiced charm.

But as the temperature outside drops, she finds the wicked rake's sizzling seduction impossible to resist.  For one stolen night Rose abandons her principles—and her body!—to his expert ministrations.  Christmas with the rakish Lawrence promises to be a thoroughly improper yuletide celebration….

This historical romance by Sarah Mallory was written really well, but the actual story and the characters were quite frustrating.  On top of that, I was a little disappointed that the entire "snowbound" scenario really only lasted a couple chapters, then the rest of the book was just a typical romance with a reformed rake and the prudish schoolteacher.  I may or may not have started drifting off, or setting the book aside due to boredom.

As for our couple, they were pretty standard.  I didn't find Sir Lawrence to stand out much, but he was a neutral, good man.  Rose was more likable during the snowbound duration, but afterwards, I feel like she was a bit over-extreme in her prejudice against Sir Lawrence.  I understand that she has a history and can see why she's so cautious, but she went to the point of simply wanting to always believe the worst of Sir Lawrence no matter that he'd been nothing but honorable towards her from the beginning.

In contrast, I found it kind of hard to believe that she would take the word of her fiance, Magnus, and her future sister-in-law, Althea, without really giving it more thought.  She's been around Magnus and Althea enough that you'd think she wouldn't place so much credence in their words or actions.  So it came across as her trying to find any reason possible to discredit Sir Lawrence, even if it hadn't been warranted.

The romance was super frustrating, and I'm not sure there were even any characters I liked.

The background mystery about the sunken ship, and the investigation of it seemed kind of blah.

I may try another Sarah Mallory book, but I DO hope that this one was just a fluke.



3 Stars
Thoughts: Touch of Red
Touch of Red (Tracers) - Laura Griffin

Touch of Red
by Laura Griffin
Book 12 of Tracers

This is a Laura Griffin Tracers novel, so it is dark and gritty and real where you need it to be.  The premise was typical of most crime thrillers, and I'm always in love with how crime scene investigation and forensic science is incorporated.

Unfortunately, I'm not much enamored with TSTL characters.  I can't say that I've come across too many of them in the Tracers installments previously, but I also can't say that they didn't exist.

In Touch of Red, she certainly did exist.

The Story:
At the scene of a gruesome murder, Brooke Porter discovers evidence that a witness might have escaped after the fact.  What ends up being more surprising is who this witness may be, and the fact that said witness is probably in a lot of danger.  Without hesitation, Brooke is determined to find this witness and keep him safe.

Detective Sean Byrne is in charge of this homicide case, and realizes that he may have to keep an eye on Brooke when the Delphi Center trace evidence expert decides to play at being detective.  While he's more than happy to get a chance to spend more time with Brooke, it doesn't escape his notice that the murder has become just as sinister as the carnage at the crime scene suggests.

My Thoughts:
There's very little to say about this book without getting into a rant.

Don't get me wrong--I really enjoyed Touch of Red, much as I've enjoyed all the Tracers novels.  It's intriguing, it's fast-paced, and it involves one of my favorite subjects.  I also love how Laura Griffin incorporates more than just the current criminal case, showing us a scene where Brooke has caught up with two days worth of work, just analyzing fingerprints from different cases on her workload.  She's not just narrowly focused on the "case of the week," but because crime labs have more than one case going at a time, they've got backlog, and they've got piles of work yet to be finished.

So I love how the focus of the "case of the week" is balanced enough to be realistic.

The romance was sweet, and probably could have been better if I had liked Brooke a bit more.  In fact, I absolutely loved her character from the previous book, and was set to enjoy her from the beginning of this book.  But at some point, she became so narrow-sighted and focused on "her witness" that she seemed to be teetering on reckless obsession.  I get that she was worried for the safety of the witness she discovered; I get that she felt it might have been her fault for bringing this particular person to the killer's attention.

What I don't get is how a level-headed trace evidence expert, who is supposed to also understand how the law works, as a medico-legal specialist, throws all of her common sense out the window for the last half of the book.  She also ended up kind of irrationally screechy...  Okay, well, she didn't really screech or anything, but she might as well have been.  Because she just started making all sorts of general, blanket assumptions that made it seem like she was the only one concerned about the witness's safety and finding the killer and blah, blah, blah...

She was basically telling all of her colleagues that they weren't doing their job.

It got a bit old.  Especially when she started imagining slights from Sean based on her own history with men.  I don't really think it was fair to him.

On the bright side, we have a not-broody alpha male this time around, who didn't feel the need to tell the heroine what to do all the time.  I'm not saying that he didn't try once or twice, but when he realized it was not the way to Brooke Porter's heart, he let it go, even if grudgingly.  And he never really went as far as caveman-styling his way into her life.

Anyway, the book was enjoyable on a certain level, and we do get to see more of some past characters as well as an introductory to what seems like the next couple in the Tracers installment--once again, somehow managing to seamlessly being part of this book without sticking out awkwardly.  And I approve.




currently reading

Progress: 360/581minutes
Cold Image - Leslie A. Kelly