It's closing in on the end of September and our Bingo game is at it's midmark!
For the sake of my own sanity, I've come to a compromise with myself. I would like to write a review for every book I read for bingo... but we know that sometimes that just doesn't happen. So I've settled for a short compilation of all the books I didn't get around to formatting a review for.
Instead, you get some random ramblings... which, if we know me by now, always end up becoming short reviews anyway. But I had this vision of wanting to throw a few books together in one post, make it Halloween Bingo specific, had it all formatted and ready to fill in my opinions for each book I come across that I don't know how to review... and I'm not changing my mind.
Here it is!
audio book narrated by Louisa Jane Underwood
I love Amanda Quick books, if only because they follow a specific formula, so you always know what you're going to get out of them. Garden of Lies is the usual Amanda Quick historical mystery and romance, with great characters and fast-paced progression. And I never have any idea how to review these books, because they are simply just as enjoyable as the last Amanda Quick book I read: witty, fun, entertaining... standard.
It's always a good bet I will enjoy them; though also a greater bet that the story line is the same as others by this author. Garden of Lies was no different: Feisty, non-standard, too-modern-for-her-own-good heroine; broody, intensely passionate alpha with some tragic history. They meet for reasons, they fall in lust at first sight, they fight the lust whilst working together to uncover a mystery, sex happens, feelings happen, cue some kind of last minute danger scene... Happily Ever After™.
Though the overall details of the mystery weren't the usual, the main culprits were fairly predictable, as were a lot of events. There might have been entirely too much going on in this book... but that's about it.
Louisa Jane Underwood is a lovely narrator and gave the "reading" experience a nice boost!
I read this book for Halloween Bingo 2017, for the 'Darkest London' square, since the story is set in Victorian London.
This book could also count for:
- Murder most foul
- Amateur Sleuth
- Romantic Suspense
- Terrifying Women
This is one of the books that, after beginning, I started having doubts whether or not it would fit the Halloween Bingo square I chose it for. While there are several deaths, as well as the MC wandering around trying to investigate the chaos that suddenly befalls her life, Every Secret Thing ended up reading more like an espionage thriller than a murder mystery. I could classify it as suspense, I suppose, and the entire ordeal DOES start with the mention of an old murder, one still deserving justice.
Every Secret Thing wasn't what I'd been expecting when I started listening to the audio, if only because maybe I'd been expecting something a bit darker, or grittier. Instead, this book gave me an almost old-timey type of story, as we follow Kate Murray's investigations, while simultaneously following some snippets of the now deceased Andrew Deacon's espionage lifestyle. It was... charming... the entire experience. At first it felt a bit dragged out, but once you get into the rhythm of it, the flashbacks to Andrew Deacon's story lines aren't so strange, and in fact, kind of intriguing.
I can't say that I one hundred percent enjoyed this book, and the truth is, while I loved Katherine Kellgren's narration, I'm almost wondering if this story wouldn't have been better experienced as a print book.
One thing is for certain though: Every Secret Thing is beautifully atmospheric, and I loved the descriptions of many of Kate's scenic travels, even as we were constantly moving forward at a rather fast paced stride. There's an obligatory bittersweet ending when you come to the end of Andrew Deacon's tale, and even though we kind of already know how his life ended up playing out, it still plucks at the heart.
So the truth is, this was more a book about learning Andrew Deacon's story rather than following Kate Murray's investigations.
I may or may not swap this book out for another better suited book for the 'Murder Most Foul' square. For now, this is just a tentative completion. I'm seriously contemplating moving this book to either of the following squares:
This book could also count for: Terrifying Women
This is my first foray into Victoria Holt, and keeping in mind a few cautions from fellow readers, I read this book with a bit of trepidation. Certainly, the story and the characters--especially our main heroine--is as I'd been warned. But even as I became frustrated with the insta-love, the over-dramatics of our heroine, and the fact that none of the characters are very likable, On the Night of the Seventh Moon ended up being somehow addictively engrossing. Even the frustratingly over-dramatic romance didn't put me off too badly.
For one reason or another, I just couldn't make myself put the book down. It's got a nice mysterious twist to it that makes you want to keep reading to find out what's going on, even while the story was fairly predictable. What happened to Helena? Was it really just a dream, induced by drugs? Was it real? If it were real, then why all the theatrics by her cousins? Why did Maximilian never come back for her? And what of the baby?
It's hard to say what truly kept me hooked on this book--certainly it wasn't the characters, whom I disliked for many reasons, especially Frau Graben's blasé attitude towards the disgusting behavior exhibited by all the nobility. She talks about how it's their given right, when either a count or a duke ravishes a girl and then tosses her aside; that the attempted murder or even the deaths were simply a matter of "state affair"; the deceptions of mock marriages, the lies, the betrayals--all simply part of their country's culture...
I get that it's probably part of the culture, which lends some authenticity to a more historical aspect of life... but I don't have to like it.
As I've already said, I didn't find any of the characters likable, except maybe the boy, Fritz. Or Aunt Matilda--she was amusing, for sure.
It's also kind of irked me that the conclusion wrapped up too easily, in a very tidy, non-confrontational, and unrealistic way. I like my HEA's, but we should at least follow through the world's logic. All the concerns and the possible backlash and the possible war scenario that Maxi and Helena worried about if the two of them were to announce their relationship and marriage didn't even surface. Everything just settled, all was forgiven, Happily Ever After™.
Really, the only amazingly wonderful thing going for this book was the beautiful writing, the imagery, the description, and a lot of the lore and history laid within the book's world. For this alone, I will definitely give Victoria Holt another read when I get the chance.
(Ahem. So much for a short ramble, but I'm not changing this, and I regret nothing...)
This book could also count for:
- Terrifying Women
I felt like Halloween Bingo wouldn't be complete without reading something by Neil Gaiman--last year I read The Graveyard Book and Coraline, both of which were very enjoyable, and one of them ended up being one of my favorites of the year. Initially, I didn't have a book of his chosen for any of my Bingo squares (Yes, yes, I did; I just forgot I did). I had originally only chosen a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman for the 'Genre: Horror' square, which I've been putting off listening to the audio... well, because Horror.
And I was hesitant about starting The Ocean at the End of the Lane... well, because Horror. But I'm glad I decided to give it a go--if only because you get to revel in Gaiman's wonderful, magical descriptions... and because I found a different book other than Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning for this particular bingo square, because I just wasn't feeling Amy Tan at the moment.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a little difficult for me to get into at first; and it is equally difficult for me to figure out how I feel about it. Outside of that magical, whimsical feel you get from reading a particularly good child's fantasy/adventure, I really can't pinpoint exactly what to say about it. I've got a sort of bittersweet, wistful void after completing the book, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I know what the book was really about.
Certainly, there were a lot of though provoking lines and dialogue. In the end, it's one of those books you found enjoyment in, and it stays with you for some time, even as you can't quite pinpoint why.
This book could also count towards:
- Genre: Horror -- the book is tagged as 'horror' on GR, and certainly, there were a lot of horror elements involved
- Modern Masters of Horror -- published in 2013
- Supernatural -- which goes hand in hand with Magical Realism
- Chilling Children (?) -- I don't think I saw this tagged as YA or MG, but the main time frame of the book takes place when the protagonist is only seven years old