Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Packaged Thoughts June 2016: All the Books I Probably Won't Review

There will always be those books that I absolutely would love to express an opinion on, but for one reason or another, it never actually happens.  In which case, I introduce my new feature, the "Packaged Thoughts" bundle reviews, wherein I will talk about a few random books I wanted to talk about, but just didn't really know what to say about in an actual review.

My first Packaged Thoughts was published on Christmas of 2015 and included a good number of books I never got around to reviewing, but not all of them.  So this year, I wanted to give a mid-year Packaged Thoughts a try and see how I like it.  I figure that I'd be able to catch most of the books I didn't review, read during the first half of the year, before I forget what my opinions of them had been.

It just so happens that my birthday lands in the middle of the year--and what better way to celebrate than with a loaded post of aimless rambling about a bunch of books!

If I like this, I might just do this every year!

Once again, if you've read my reviews and posts before, you know I'm prone to rambling on and on--opinion material for these books could potentially be enough for a review of their own.  But I'm not going to dwell on that.

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Book 3 (final) of The Elemental Trilogy
4.5 Stars (but who am I kidding, the stars don't matter!)

It took me about three weeks into 2016, after finishing reading this book that I realized I didn't know how to review it.  Because THE FEELS and THE FEELS.

Yes, there were still a lot of things missing from this book--from all three books, actually, such as solid world-building.  Even a deeper insight to our main enemy would have been nice (not that I need to see into his inner workings or anything), but even right up to the end, the Bane was still just a dark presence in the background as an evil man on an evil mission who needed to be defeated.

But I love Titus and I love Iolanthe and I've grown a love for Kashkari... and even Amara was lovely despite only really being significant to this last Elemental Trilogy book.

Nonetheless, I know that these aren't the best books in the world, and as far as high fantasies go, it could have been better.  But Sherry Thomas creates extremely charming characters and has a delightfully witty and enjoyable writing style.

Did I mention the banter and THE FEELS?

And so I leave you all with this:

And now the rest of the books in this post:

SWAT books by Paige Tyler
#1) Hungry Like the Wolf | Rating:  4.0 Stars
#2) Wolf Trouble | Rating:  4.0 Stars

I've never really been that big a fan of paranormal romance books--paranormal mysteries I can still manage just fine.  But the fact that Paige Tyler crosses paranormal romance with romantic suspense DID catch my eye.  In 2015, I found myself enjoying her first two X-Ops books a lot.

And then I decided to pick up Hungry Like the Wolf and also found that it was very, very likable.  It's fast-paced with well-developed characters and an intriguing story line with a world that has much to offer.  A pack of werewolf shifters who work in law enforcement as a very specialized SWAT team--big, muscled men who are heroes.  The best part, they are very good men who also know how NOT to be jackasses (unlike a lot of other alpha males in lots of other romance novels I've read before).

Not long after that, I picked up Wolf Trouble and found it to be equally entertaining and enjoyable.  In this book, however, we are introduced to a female werewolf who joins the SWAT team.  I was extra ecstatic about that because you rarely get to see a female play hero in a lot of books, specifically when there are a large band of alpha males hanging around.

And really, I absolutely loved Khaki!

I enjoyed the first two SWAT books a lot, even if the main romances were a little stilted.  But the romantic tension and sexy times in both books were steamy and fun, and the rest of the characters are awesome together as friends and teammates, and I'm just so looking forward to where else we can go with the rest of these werewolf shifters!

The Apprentice (Rizzoli & Isles, #2)
by Tess Gerritsen
Rating:  3.0 Stars

Like the first book in this series, The Surgeon, The Apprentice is well written with a great crime thriller to keep a reader intrigued.  But also like the first book in this series, The Apprentice tended on the overly detailed, overly wordy, and overly deliberate in use of words and infusion of insight and hidden meaning and not so hidden meaning.  I wouldn't call it flowery or purple prose, but it's close and it was a bit distracting--awkward, almost.

Nonetheless, the book was still an enjoyable one for anybody interested in the nitty-gritty of darker crime thrillers.  Romance-wise, this book was a bit lackluster, though there's a pretty good development in the back-seated love story between Jane Rizzoli and Gabriel Dean--it could use some more development, which I suspect we'll see in the next book.

Character-wise, like The Surgeon, there was a lot going on with the characters... except that, at the same time, it felt fairly lackluster, only really skimming the edge of what the characters' potential attractiveness to the story could entail.  There is also a very latent sense of sexism still being dragged out in the book despite having (now) two strong female characters--a lot of disclaimers for these two women being in the field they work in, a lot of caveats of their qualifications versus personality versus whatnot that make it so that it's kind of a an unnatural super skill among women that Jane is a police detective or Maura Isles is a medical examiner.

I'm not explaining it well, but there's just that feeling that doesn't set well with me.

by Brenda Novak
Rating:  3.0 Stars

I've only read Brenda Novak's romantic suspense books so far.  While I'm not a hundred percent enamored with her work, I've always attributed her story progression and writing style as akin to an action movie that you just cannot take your eyes off of.  The logic doesn't always make sense and the characters sometimes really piss me off, but the books are definitely page turners.

So picking up one of her category contemporary romance books was a given at some point in time.

Snow Baby is enjoyable as a sweet romance with all the typical romance novel devices.  It is enjoyable and a good way to pass the time, but that's if what you're craving is a quick and easy romance read with a tried and true Happily Ever After™.  Of course, being a quick and easy read didn't quite make this book any less complicated--I'm feeling that any type of soapy drama that could have happened DID happen with an accidental pregnancy, some family drama all around, interfering exes... the works.

Hot Pursuit (Hostile Operations Team #1) 
by Lynn Raye Harris
Rating:  3.5 Stars

A very exciting, fast-paced read with a lot more material than I'd been expecting.  Great characters and a lovely main couple with an awesome relationship and steamy chemistry and a great background history to propel their romantic development.  I certainly enjoyed those rare moments of banter between Evie and Matt.  Lots of suspense and very vivid descriptions of the bayous and small Louisiana town.

The brief mystery included was predictable and the entire suspense part of the story was really just an adrenaline-rush of forward movement, but not a bad experience, in general.

Overall an enjoyable and entertaining read, even if not entirely memorable.  But an excellent start to a military romance series with a lot of potential in the few character introductions we've seen so far.  So I am interested in following the rest of the series.

by Juliet Blackwell
Rating:  3.5 Stars

Juliet Blackwell books and I don't have that great of an impression on each other--or maybe it's just me.  Between Secondhand Spirits and If Walls Could Talk, I've found that both books are interesting enough to hold my attention for the duration of reading the book.  But that's about it.

Secondhand Spirits is an interesting cozy mystery that delivers what it sets out to deliver: mystery, magic, some fun tangential knowledge, and a very, very slight tinge of romance.  The characters are great--Lily Ivory makes for an ideal, strong heroine who saves the day without need for a knight to whisk her into the sunset.  The mystery is intriguing, even if kind of predictable.  The story itself was fun.

But, really, that's about it.  Oh, and also the beginning of the book is slow to start.  I don't know if maybe we spend too much time setting up the main conflict.  I might just be picky.


So there we have it!  I've actually been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with reviews, whether long or short.  To be totally honest, this is really just a collection of books that took me a long time to get around to reviewing after finishing them.  And then some of the books were just ones that I didn't want to bother with an individual review.

It all works out.

As the year progresses, I kind of expect I'll be less inclined to review every book I read.  Thus, the end of year Packaged Thoughts I've got planned for December will probably have a ton more books.  Probably.

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