Sunday, August 20, 2017

COYER Summer Reading List | August Readathon!

COYER is a reading challenge hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading, Berls @ Fantasy is more fun, and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
COYER stands for "Clean out your e-reads."  And typically the goal is to read from all the freebies or low priced books you've collected in the past on your e-readers.

But for this summer duration of June 17th to September 8th, our hosts are throwing out the normal rules!

Click on this link to sign up or read about COYER Summer 2017.
My COYER Summer Reading List summary page.


For those of us participating in the Summer Reading List part of this summer's COYER Challenge, our hosts have announced three different readathons for each month of the challenge:

  • Read-a-thon Dates are
    • June 25th – July 2nd ~ read only ebooks
    • July 23rd to July 30th ~ read only physical books
    • August 20th to August 27th ~ read only audio and ebooks

And we're starting another COYER readathon!  As stated above, this will be audio and e-books only, and since I don't really have any obligations for this week, I will do my utmost best to dive into some of my e-books on this list.  I've been caught distracted the past few days and so am kind of stuck in a book I'm not all that interested in.  Chances are, I'll end up either dropping it, or putting it on hold.  Fortunately, it's not one of my COYER books; although, I DID go to the trouble of driving out to the library and picking it up...


I am currently reading Behind the Scenes, at a slow-going pace, but not because the book isn't good.  A lot of things have been going on lately.  I need to focus, but it's not entirely easy.

Meanwhile, I've randomly selected a few other books on my list to move onto once I finish Behind the Scenes.  All three are novellas, totaling less than two hundred pages each, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to breeze three all of them.

This should be the easier COYER thon to participate in, considering there are no crossover challenges I'm dealing with at the same time.  But somehow, I'm having doubts about my reading habits these past few days.

We'll see how it all goes.


Ani's COYER Summer Reading List


See Also: COYER Summer Reading List @ GR
See Also: COYER Summer Reading List current review link-up page
Progress:  19 books read
  1. Going Rogue by Robin Benway
  2. Secret Agent Secretary by Melissa Cutler -- 6/29/2017
  3. Hot on the Hunt by Melissa Cutler -- 7/8/2017
  4. Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder
  5. Secrets by Cynthia Eden
  6. Suspicions by Cynthia Eden
  7. The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox -- 6/25/2017
  8. Hot Mess by Lynn Raye Harris
  9. Hot Package by Lynn Raye Harris
  10. SEAL's Honor by Elle James
  11. On the Loose by Tara Janzen -- 7/27/2017
  12. Cutting Loose by Tara Janzen -- 7/29/2017
  13. The Mysterious Twin by Leona Karr -- 6/23/2017
  14. Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly -- 7/31/2017
  15. Pushing the Lines by Kimberly Kincaid -- 6/27/2017
  16. Skin Deep by Kimberly Kincaid
  17. Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh
  18. Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell -- 7/9/2017
  19. The First Victim by J.B. Lynn
  20. Thicker Than Water by Maggie Shayne -- 8/9/2017
  21. The Littlest Cowboy by Maggie Shayne
  22. The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber -- DNF'd on 7/20/2017
  23. Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
  24. Heat Wave anthology - Stephanie Bond, Heidi Betts, Leslie Kelly -- 7/27/2017
  25. That's Amore anthology - Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, Leslie Kelly
  26. Bare Essentials duo-story anthology - Jill Shalvis, Leslie Kelly -- 8/14/2017
  27. Night Driving by Lori Wilde
  28. Smooth Sailing by Lori Wilde
  29. Crash Landing by Lori Wilde
  30. Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates


The Add Five After Reading Five List:

(Added on 7/8/2017)
  1. Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen -- 8/1/2017
  2. Breaking Loose by Tara Janzen -- 8/4/2017
  3. Loose Ends by Tara Janzen -- 8/6/2017
  4. Ghost Horse by Patricia Rosemoor
  5. Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

(Added on 7/29/2017)
  1. Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
  2. Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
  3. The Trouble With Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis -- 8/15/2017
  4. One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis -- 8/17/2017
  5. Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

(Added on 8/9/2017)
  1. One Night With Her Boss by Noelle Adams -- 8/14/2017
  2. Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayers
  3. Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
  4. Wild Wicked Scot by Julia London
  5. Her Special Alpha by Paige Tyler


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Brief Thoughts: One Snowy Night (novella)

One Snowy Night

by Jill Shalvis
audio book narrated by Karen White
Heartbreaker Bay #2.5 (novella)

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years.  Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.

Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options.  She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too.  But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.

They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.


One Snowy Night was a potentially sweet and fun little romance, with a road trip in snowy weather, and some thought-provoking ideas about forgiveness, change, growing up... the works.  Rory and Max were both nice characters, although they don't really stand out all that well.  Rory is the typical, down-on-her-luck girl, who has had a rough go of things, who is trying to get her life back together and make amends with her past.  Max is Standard Broody Alpha Male #1, who is also letting things in his past influence his decisions in present day.

To be honest, the conflict between Rory and Max was a rather legit, realistic issue.  The biggest problem that I kept seeing was that the two didn't know how to talk to each other.  Max is pissed at Rory for some reason, Rory has secrets she doesn't want to talk about.  And thus, it makes for a very lonely, and quiet car ride, when neither of the two want to talk at all about anything.

I got a little frustrated when Rory realized that something big was bugging Max that had to do with their high school years.  He didn't want to talk about it, and so Rory decided that she wouldn't ask him, despite the fact that she really wanted to find out why Max had a chip on his shoulder about her.  And thus, that carried on for a bit of time and made me roll my eyes.

Because, yes, let's just NOT talk about what the problem is and let it fester while the two of you drive for a few hours together in the wintry blizzard.

My feelings of relief was palpable when some nice old couple gave Rory the tip that she needed to look to the past to figure out how to fix her present.  I probably would have just told her that she just needed to learn to talk to Max, and vice versa, but I guess the old lady put it in a more worldly way.

Anyway, this is a cute little romance, probably not something I'd come back to.

Unless there's more of Carl, the big and goofy doberman to see; now HE was probably the best part of the book!


Quick Thoughts: The Trouble with Mistletoe

The Trouble with Mistletoe

by Jill Shalvis
audio book narrated by Karen White
Book 2 of Heartbreaker Bay

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand.  He needs a kitty sitter, stat.  But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands.  But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again?  It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .


If it's one thing I've come to understand, it's that Jill Shalvis books are charming even when you find them frustrating.

The Trouble with Mistletoe had an interesting premise to work from, however, you could readily tell that it wasn't something meant to be drawn out.  Keeping Keane in the dark about why Willa was always angry at him could have gotten out of hand, or it could have been an interesting twist; except that particular conflict was resolved quite early in the book that made me rather glad.  I figured it was kind of nice that Willa and Keane managed to take the adult way out and let the past go--after all, when you're young, you do stupid things that you might regret in the future.  And at least Keane was a good enough person to feel chagrined about being a jerk when he was a teenager.  And Willa was gracious enough to forgive and move on.

But then we come to a sort of "second half" of the contemporary romance... and things start getting frustrating.

To be honest, what I'd worried about for the first half, actually ended up happening in the second half of this romance.

Basically, there was a lot of wishy-washy, back-and-forth with these two, and it got to a point where I don't even know what either Keane or Willa wanted from each other.  I'm not even sure they knew what they wanted with each other, or themselves, or their own lives in general.  The same conflict kept getting dredged up in monologue about each other's inability to commit... or no, this is about the other person's inability to commit... but wait, it's about his/her own concerns about committing...

And it just kept going on like that:  "This is a very bad idea.  But let's have sex anyway."  "We're not doing this anymore... okay, maybe one more time.  But it's a bad idea."  "But you don't want attachments!"  "Wait, no, I guess it's me--I can't do attachments."  "But you said you don't get attached."

After the third time, it got old.

Meanwhile, I found myself also a bit frustrated with the side characters as well.  The last thing you ever want when you're going through a conflicting romance is for friends to be nosy, especially if they're also going to be nosy, interfering, disruptive, and unhelpful.  And while it might have seemed like a comedic insert for Willa's girl friends to be the nosy, interfering, disruptive, and unhelpful lot... it actually kind of got annoying.

Except for Rory.  I liked Rory--she was nosy, but she was also really sincere.  And Archer was pretty cool, too--he wasn't nosy, he wasn't interfering, and he wasn't disruptive; he wasn't really helpful either, but at least he offered to beat Keane up if Willa needed him to, no questions asked.  The rest of Willa's friends felt like they were there just for sheer entertainment.

Keane's staff was also a bit annoying as well.

And then, true to Jill Shalvis form, some tangential conflicts are introduced that are never properly resolved, such as Keane's relationship with his parents--you get a back story, you get frustration from him, you get a teaser... and that's it.

But as I'd stated before, as frustrating as this book got, it still managed to be charming somehow.  Keane's kitty-sitting adventure was certainly sweet and fun; Petunia was a typical Queen Cat, and totally makes you smile.  There's even a brief appearance of a small puppy with paws larger than his own head, and the scenes were super adorable.

This was a mediocre Jill Shalvis work, at best.  Still charming, but I can see where people may not enjoy it.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Thoughts: In Too Deep

In Too Deep

by Jayne Ann Krentz
Book 10 of Arcane Society
-- Book 1 of Looking Glass Trilogy

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0  Stars

Scargill Cove is the perfect place for Fallon Jones, confirmed recluse and investigator of the paranormal.  It’s a hot spot, a convergence point for unusually strong currents of energy, which might explain why the town attracts misfits and drifters like moths to a flame.  Now someone else has been drawn to the Cove — Isabella Valdez, on the run from some very dangerous men.

When she starts working as Fallon’s assistant, Isabella impresses him by organizing his pathologically chaotic office—and doesn’t bat an eye at the psychic element of his job.  She’s a kindred spirit, a sanctuary from a world that considers his talents a form of madness.  But after a routine case unearths an antique clock infused with dark energy, Fallon and Isabella are dragged into the secret history of Scargill Cove and forced to fight for their lives, as they unravel a cutthroat conspiracy with roots in the Jones family business…and Isabella’s family tree.


In Too Deep was another highly enjoyable Jayne Ann Krentz contemporary romantic suspense, with paranormal elements.  This is the tenth installment of the Arcane Society series, and the first in the sub-trilogy called Looking Glass, and we very soon get introduced to the so-titled "looking glass" as well as some introductions to the Victorian era events that will probably be brought up once again in the next Arcane book.

In Too Deep is not my favorite of the Arcane series, but like any other JAK contemporary, it is suspenseful with lots of twists, great characters, and fun wit.  Fallon Jones is an interesting character, and while I found his anti-social, stoic personality kind of appealing, especially as he seems to also emit some sort of "fish out of water" behavior when it comes to socializing, or even playing nice, there were things about him that seemed too brusque for my liking.

Isabella Valdez is an interesting character as well, coming from a family that "leaves no paper trail" of their existence.  What it is like to have no legal or official identity, always ready to be on the run... sounds like a tiring life.  Her sunny disposition was a bit over-the-top, but probably good for Fallon, I suppose.

Neither of the two characters' talents are really delved into very well, so I never quite understood Isabella's psychic skill.  Fallon's skill has been rehashed throughout the series, so I didn't have too much of a problem figuring him out, but it was still quite confusing.

Meanwhile, the background conspiracy is still ongoing, even though I'm of the impression that this is the last of the Arcane contemporary books.  I suppose sometimes you can't solve everything.

The true highlight of this book was really the little community of Scargill Cove.  It gave off a stranger than strange small town vibe, where everyone has secrets, but everyone protects each other, and everyone sort of knows who belongs in the Cove and who doesn't.  It's an almost weird creepy vibe, I suppose, when you get a bunch of sensitives together, even if they don't know they have some form of psychic talent.

Then there's the underground bunker with the clockwork curiosities that pretty much starts me thinking in terms of steampunk.  And it sets up a great transition into the next book of this series, Quicksilver.

As per usual, my rambling really just proves that JAK books are extremely enjoyable and entertaining while you read them, but when you try to talk about them, you don't come up with a whole lot.


Halloween Bingo 2017 | Ani's Tentative Reading List!


Halloween Bingo 2017


Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue are at it again with another reading game to spice up our reading lives!  Another Halloween Bingo with a slight twist, including custom cards for each participating player, as well as actual Bingo square calls every other day starting September 1st!

The basic new twist is that our game masters have created 31 possible Bingo squares to choose from, and we can request which squares we want to have on our card, or just ask for a specific focus, such as mystery or horror.  Moonlight will then create for each player a customized Bingo card, and then, as already stated, they will call a new square every other day.

A game square will only count as complete if A) it has been called, and B) a book has been read for it.  But, we do not have to wait for a square to be called before reading a book for it--so you can simply read a book for a square, and then sit back and wait for it to be called!

For more information on the game play, see the Halloween Bingo Rules and Other Information.

For some short descriptions for all 31 squares created, see Moonlight's Halloween Bingo Squares post.

Meanwhile, I've already been making a tentative listing of books I'd like to read for my own customized Bingo card above, courtesy of Moonlight Reader and picmonkey!  Thanks Moonlight!

Tentatively, this is what I'm planning on reading, four books of which are from my 2017 Reading Assignment list, and most of the other books are pre-owned TBR, and seriously just need to be read.

Please excuse my drawn out ramblings.


Magical Realism:  Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
-- I have had this book for a very, very long time and have never read it.  As I read through the summary, it struck me that this particular book could count as magical realism.  I had considered reading this book for the Diverse Voices square, as well, so if it doesn't seem at all like magical realism, I might shuffle it off onto some other square.

Other possibilities:  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen; The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker


Classic Noir:  Undecided
-- I've never read books in this genre before, but am open to trying something new.  Also, keeping this square allows me to cut out some of the 'horror' squares, and I'm more partial to mystery anyway.  The first group read for September will hopefully find me a nice book I can read for this square!


Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
-- There are a lot of possibilities for this broad category, but I have recently acquired a lot of Nora Roberts books and would like to get through them.  I read something by Nora Roberts for last year's Halloween Bingo (Dark Witch), so it wouldn't hurt to read another something (or three somethings) for this year's bingo.

Other possibilities:  Devil May Ride by Wendy Roberts; Haunted by Heather Graham; An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James; This House is Haunted by John Boyne


Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
-- The Nightmare Charade is a book off of my Reading Assignment list, and this, unfortunately, is the only square it will fit on the card (unless I use the Free Space, of course).  And yes, I DO want to have it read, as I've been planning to read it in either September or October for the longest time now.  Otherwise, there are many other possibilities to pick from.


Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin
-- This was the next book I thought about after the Amy Tan book listed above.  In fact, if Saving Fish From Drowning does not actually work for Magical Realism, then I may just shuffle it back down here.  But, in the meantime, I AM quite interested in reading The Lotus Palace, a book written by an Asian author, that takes place in historical China, and is a mystery novel as well!

Other possibilities:  Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan


Cozy Mystery:  Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
-- Oh, the possibilities for this game square!  There are any number of cozy mysteries that I am quite interested in, so the above may not be my final choice.  It is just the first book that popped into my mind when I thought of cozy mysteries.

Other possibilities:  Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris; Die Buying by Laura DiSilverio; The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde; Frozen Stiff by Annelise Ryan; Shadowland by Meg Cabot


Witches:  Undecided
-- I am not a hundred percent familiar with witch books, but I think I should be able to find something.  If all else fails, I think Nora Roberts has a few books about witches.  There are two books in particular that I own that have a witch, so I may just pick one of them.

Possibilities:  Jaxson by Alisa Woods; Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward; Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Vampires:  The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
-- I'm not big on vampire books, so I had considered doing a Dracula reread via the full-cast audio that I own.  Then, while I was going through my shelves, I stumbled upon this little gem by Deanna Raybourn, of which I had just purchased with an Audible credit not long ago.  The book takes place in Transylvania, and there is talk of creepy castles and charming vampires.  I'm totally reading this one for this square!  And to think, I almost decided to exclude it from my choices!


Country House Mystery:  Undecided
-- The truth is, I'm not sure I know what a 'Country House Mystery' is, but I'm willing to find out.  Recommendations are welcome!  Though one of the books I found that was listed as a popular country house mystery was Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  I'd been meaning to get some more of Dame Agatha's work read.  What does everyone else think?


Haunted House:  Black Rose by Nora Roberts
-- Once again, the possibilities are endless.  But I'm starting a trilogy, and I'll be damned if I leave another series unfinished for a long time.  Black Rose continues the the trilogy, In the Garden by Nora Roberts, following behind Blue Dahlia, and there is talk of a ghost being present in the setting of the book's house for over a hundred years.  I'd call that a haunted house!

Other possibilities:  This House is Haunted by John Boyne; Ghost Horse by Patricia Rosemoor; Haunted by Heather Graham


Aliens:  Undecided
-- I don't know why I kept this square, however, I DO have one book that will definitely fit, if nothing else will.  For the meantime, I'm going to keep my options open, but chances are, I'm going to read my one and only possibility for this game square so far:  The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa.  You wouldn't think that this book would fit, but one of the characters is an alien, even if not the creepy weird aliens of space invaders and horror.


Genre: Horror:  Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
-- Halloween wouldn't be complete without a book by Neil Gaiman.  Smoke and Mirrors is a short story collection that is tagged as 'horror,' so I'm going to go with that.  The summary gives a great description that comes off kind of horror-like anyway.  Again, this is a tentative pick, I might change my mind later if I stumble upon something else.  But I own this in audio, so the chances of me changing my mind is a bit slim.


Free Space:  Red Lily by Nora Roberts
-- I can't find another spot to place this book so that I can finish off the trilogy.  So it will go here unless I can find a different place for it that I don't already have another book lined up for.


Monsters:  Undecided
-- Okay... this is another square I'm not entirely sure why I kept.  I thought I'd be able to find something to fit, but I can't come up with anything outside of dragons (mythological creatures), which there are plenty of books for.  Do random animal shifters count?  Feline shifters?  Bear shifters?  Unknown animal, possible monster shifter?  I suppose I could always read something about Bigfoot...

One possibility:  His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik -- because, dragons.
Another possibility:  The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett -- because giant turtles, and dragons.
Last possibility (that I can think of):  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
-- because, fantastic beasts and mythical/magical creatures... which probably include dragons.


In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
-- I picked up about three Victoria Holt books from a library sale a long time ago and have been looking for a chance to introduce myself.  Ever since my first Gothic romance, I've been paying more attention to author names that come up in connection with the genre.  On the Night of the Seventh Moon's summary mentions something about the significance of a forest.  I'm going to go with that.


Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
-- I have a feeling that this category was created probably for a cozy mystery of some sort, where the protagonist is often times NOT in law enforcement.  But as the description isn't entirely restrictive, I decided to go with another Reading Assignment selection, wherein there is a mystery, there is a murder, and the protagonist is a psychologist.


Werewolves:  Undecided
-- I probably have the same love for werewolf books as I do vampire books, but if I were honest, I'd be more likely to pick up a werewolf book than a vampire book.  So this square remained in my choices, and now I'm trying to figure out which of my wolf shifter books I want to read... if wolf shifter = werewolf, that is.

Possibilities:  In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler; Jaxson by Alisa Woods


Gothic:  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
-- There are a number of books that I'm considering reading for this space, if only because I'd recently been drawn to Gothic romance and the genre appeals to me.  I've been shuffling around possible books by Mary Stewart, Susanna Kearsley, Simone St. James, and maybe even Kate Morton.  On the other hand, I DID pick up three Victoria Holt books at a library sale, and having already chosen one for one of my game spaces (see Dark, Dark Woods), I have two more I could try.  So this is a tentative selection.

Other possibilities:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart; Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels; The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley; The Visitor by Amanda Stevens; Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt; The Black Opal by Victoria Holt; An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James; The Secret Garden by Kate Morton


Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
-- Frankly, this is a 'Free Space' for me since romantic suspense is my go-to genre.  I have so many possible picks that I my biggest problem is figuring out which book I want to read for this category.  So, to make life easier on myself, I went and chose one more Reading Assignment book, one of the books that I kept telling myself I wanted to read during the summer, but because of REASONS, I never got to it.  I'm not even going to give myself other possible reads, because I'd just end up becoming wishy-washy in my choices.

How much we want to bet that I'll end up changing my mind and reading something else anyway?


Darkest London:  Undecided
-- I had a few books I was interested in reading for this space until I realized that the books I'd been choosing were set in England, but not in London.  Well, that ended up being a problem I figured I could easily remedy, so another search had to be done.

And would you look at that?  Goodreads has a nifty list I decided to peruse:  Books Set in London.
However, since that list has anything from contemporary romance to Paddington Bear, I decided to do a more narrowed search of 'mysteries set in London' and came up with this list:  Best London Mysteries.

Possibilities:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick; Mistress by Amanda Quick; What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris; The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle; London Falling by Paul Cornell; And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander; The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry; A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas


Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
-- So I'm not entirely certain if this book fits--the summary mentions a murder, the book is tagged 'mystery.'  I really DO want to read this book (or rather, listen to it since I have it on audio).  But I'm not entirely sure that this is a murder mystery, per se, because some parts of the summary hint that this is a death that occurred in history.  Nonetheless, I obviously have a lot of books to choose from considering how broad a category this one is, requiring only that we read a murder mystery, any murder mystery.  So I might just include a few alternate options.

Other Possibilities:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin; Chasing Evil by Kylie Brant; The Prey by Allison Brennan; In the Woods by Tana French; Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh; The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin; The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin; The First Victim by J.B. Lynn; A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas


Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
-- Another category that has a lot of possible books I could read.  But to keep things simple, I'm inserting another Reading Assignment book on this space.  Dear Maggie's summary mentions the presence of a serial killer--that's good enough for me.

Other Possibilities:  Chasing Evil by Kylie Brant; The Hunt by Allison Brennan;


Classic Horror:  Undecided
I don't know what to pick.  Maybe a reread of Dracula, although, the truth is, I'm sort of waiting out for the October group read and will probably just use it to fill this square since the group reads are wild cards.


Terrifying Women:  Undecided
-- Amanda Stevens has written a book that I recall being tagged as 'horror.'  Then again, I can always pick up another Shirley Jackson book, or maybe something by Barbara Michaels... Daphne du Maurier...

Possibilities:  The Lottery by Shirley Jackson; Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels; The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart; The Devil's Footprints by Amanda Stevens


Locked Room Mystery:  Undecided
-- I've only done a cursory search of the books that would fit this category and narrowed my choices down to a few, though I'm not entirely sure what I want to read.  All of these titles I found at the Goodreads Locked Room Mystery list.

Possibilities:  The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux; The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle; The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins; The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie;  Cover Her Face by P.D. James; The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thoughts: Bare Essentials

Bare Essentials

-- Naughty But Nice by Jill Shalvis
-- Naturally Naughty by Leslie Kelly

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Naughty But Nice

Lingerie model Cassie Tremaine Montgomery intends to have her revenge on the citizens of her hometown—starting with seducing the sheriff, Sean "Tag" Taggart. Tag, however, isn't cooperating.  He's more than willing to set the sheets on fire with her, but he's asking for more than just sizzling sex….  He knows Cassie's not as tough as she pretends.  And he knows she cares about him—even if she won't admit it.  So he'll just turn up the heat until she concedes there's more between them than this red-hot passion.

Naturally Naughty

Kate Jones, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, is home.  And she's got an agenda.  To get revenge on the man who humiliated her mother, Kate's going to seduce that man's son—the town's golden boy, John Winfield Jr.—and then leave him drooling in a puddle of lust.  However, when she finds herself seduced by a sexy stranger named Jack, little does she guess that the tables have just been turned….


Interesting premise with the adult women's store.  Standard premise of small town girls living a crappy life, wanting to get out and make something of themselves to show their town up.  The revenge story doesn't really build up all that well, and some of the revenge points aren't exactly resolved; however, in it's own way, that kind of creates a different story based on two women's need to take their revenge on a town that always treated them terribly.

Instead, we get a sweet set of stories with a love story and a journey to self-discovery.  Sort of.


Naughty But Nice

by Jill Shalvis
-- 3.5 Stars

Naughty But Nice is a typical Jill Shalvis type story--witty, fun, sexy... with just enough story for it to be enjoyable, and just enough drama for it to be thought-provoking, even while being a bit too angst-ridden for my liking.

Cassie is a great character, with all the sass and outrageous personality to make her stand out.  Unfortunately, Tag is a little boring, but he's at least not a broody alpha and makes for great boyfriend material.  The romance is sweet, but might have come off a little juvenile at times, and yet quite predictable as it was.  Cassie might have been a bit too stubborn; Tag might have been a bit pushy.  The romance itself might have gotten a bit cheesy.

And other characters were in line with a typical Jill Shalvis small-town-set, all with their interestingly unique personalities and a potential worth of back story.

The conclusion still seemed open-ended, with the issue between tag and his father quite unresolved.  The issues concerning Cassie's revenge plot kind of loses wind, and it would have been nice to see at least one person from Cassie's past eat their words, or get walloped with some sort of repentance or even get shown up.

But we make this story more about Cassie's own self-revelations, with some life-altering events... and then we move on.  The open ended resolution is probably apt as a way of showing that life just moves on whether or not you get your revenge.  There are always going to be people you treat you fairly, and others who will never see past their pre-judgments.

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned here; but I'm not entirely sure I can put my finger on what it is.


Naturally Naughty

by Leslie Kelly
-- 3.5 Stars

I found that I liked Naturally Naughty more than Naughty But Nice, if only because the romance felt a bit more down-to-earth.  I mean, sure there's a big "lust and first sight" factor going on here, but it's pretty standard, and not completely unbelievable.  HOWEVER, when we throw in the "meant to be at first sight" deal more towards the end--that whole "I think I've loved you since that first time I saw you" nonsense, I always roll my eyes.  Had that been left out of the story, I might have been more inclined to give it a higher rating.

The revenge story that slowly develops into another self-revelation story feels a bit more realistic in this second Bare Essentials story than the first had been.  Truth, it's not that Naughty But Nice wasn't a believable romance, it just felt too cheesy to be more than a sweet contemporary romance.

On the other hand, Naturally Naughty progresses at a more banal pace, skipping over certain points of the story that had already been told in the previous; but at the same time, it gives more of a feel for Kate's little self-discovery journey as she comes home to Pleasantville and begins to see things in a different light.

Kate and Jack make a great couple, with a nice lusty friendship that slowly builds into more of a loving intimacy as they work around their problems--a semi-feud between each other's family, and a secret hanging over each other's heads.  I find it kind of amusing that both Kate and Jack are holding onto the same secret, unwilling to tell the other for the same reason: they don't want to hurt each other from finding out about a loved one's betrayal.

This story, unlike the first, was more about a self-revelation for both Kate and Jack, and in that sense, I really liked it.  This story is a little bit better resolved, with some old hates and hurts being forgiven and forgotten readily after some reflection by each character.

Once again, I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned here as well.  Once again, I'm not entirely sure I know what it is.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Brief Thoughts: Wicked Intentions

Wicked Intentions

by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book 1 of Maiden Lane

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

A MAN CONTROLLED BY HIS DESIRES

Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum.  Widowed Temperance Dews knows the area like the back of her hand—she cares for its children at the foundling home her family established.  Now that home is at risk… 

 A WOMAN HAUNTED BY HER PAST

Caire makes a simple offer—in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home.  But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as a cold bargain soon falls prey to a passion neither can control—and may well destroy them both.


Wicked Intentions is an extremely enjoyable book, and yet it was still kind of hard for me to determine how much I actually liked it.  To be honest, I have a hard time describing my experience, because this historical romance actually holds a darker tone and atmosphere in comparison with all the Regency and Victorian romances I've been inhaling as of late.

I had been wondering whether there was an underlying religious theme for some time; but I wonder if maybe it wasn't just because of the time period that gave that effect.  Mainly this had to do with all of Temperance's talk about being a sinner and being a good Christian, and not doing un-Christian-like things such as non-traditional sexual acts... the like...  such as blindfolds and tying someone up.

Nonetheless, the characters are interesting, even if quite standard.  Temperance is your almost virginal, innocent, and saintly heroine; Lazarus is the bad-tempered, broody, and devilish rogue.  I say that Temperance is almost virginal, only because she has been married, and she has had sex before; except that, from the way she acts, you would think she'd never engaged in intercourse before.

This is a historical romance formula that isn't unfamiliar, with the standard character types.  Except that it then throws you for a loop by giving you traits and acts by our main characters that are certainly out of character for their character type... if that makes any sense.  Nonetheless, in the end it makes the entire book so much more intriguing and enjoyable.

There were certainly some steamy-hot sexy times.  The romance was a little predictable, truth be told, and so was the murder mystery.  Some other characters were interesting, although I have a hard time liking any of Temperance's brothers, because they all act like a bunch of jackasses towards their two sisters, Temperance and Silence.  It just makes me remember why I spent so much time avoiding reading historical fiction, romance or otherwise, mainly because it irritates me to see the way women are treated--even if it seems like a simple trivial slight.

Although, it then brings insight into Temperance's talk about sinning and Christian values when you see the way her brothers behave, as well as learn what her marriage bed had been like before her husband died.

Anyway, I'm also trying to figure out the whole "Ghost of St. Giles" thing as well--seems like a strange superhero thing.

If I had one complaint, it would be that, I lean more towards books with a slight comedic tone.  Wicked Intentions didn't quite have that; but it's still highly enjoyable.  The audio book narrated by Ashford McNab was also done excellently, though it took a bit of time for me to get used to.