Friday, June 23, 2017

Very Brief Thoughts: To the Rescue

To the Rescue

by Jean Barrett

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

With a Mystery Mounting, A Medieval Fantasy was Fast Becoming All Too Real for an Unlikely Pair

Leo McKenzie was an American investigator tracking a hard-to-find woman through the English countryside.  But trailing antiques agent Jennifer Rowan through an impassable blizzard only amounted to a concussion and a developing cold crush.

After finding haven for the detective in a centuries-old monastery, Jenny sought a silent monk who had the answer to recovering the priceless Warley Madonna.  But when someone else got him to spill his guts first - literally - everyone stranded in the castle became a suspect.  The two reckless Americans made an imperfect match - and with eyes the color of whiskey, the headstrong P.I. was dangerously close to intoxicating Jennifer.  But with only each other to trust, the two strangers in an even stranger land would have to stop a killer who stalked the frozen hallways if they hoped to weather the storm.


As I had stated in my BLopoly update post for Roll #20, To the Rescue was enjoyable as a mystery, but the romance left much to be desired.  The writing was extremely heavy on the romance, which, no surprise there as this is a Harlequin romance and so, what did I expect, right?  But in another sense, the writing was also smooth and progressive, easy to read.  The mystery was a typical outline of a locked room murder mystery, though the killer wasn't a surprise upon reveal at the end.

Nevertheless, if I could change anything about this book, it would be the development of the romance.  Honestly, our main couple is trapped in a big, creepy monastery with strangers who are also trapped, and an entire order of monks.  There has been two murders, two attempts on our MCs lives, a stolen historical relic is part of the equation... and all Leo or Jennifer can think of is how attractive each other is, and continue to lust after each other non-stop.

There is a time and place for groping and sexy times.  While an unknown killer is running amok of a trapped, isolated castle is probably not the time to be constantly thinking about being touchy feely.

And then the insta-love kind of sprung up out of nowhere as well.

Everything else about this murder mystery was enjoyable, maybe with a few flaws here and there.  Really, it was just the romance that didn't do it for me.  And truthfully, neither of the main characters were that interesting either.  Nor were the side characters.


***

Booklikes-opoly

Roll #19:
Book is set in England.

Page Count:  292
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $91.00


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Booklikes-opoly | Roll #20! and Free Friday #2!

Booklikes-opoly
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


With the Big Game Shake Up (see link above), my Bank Balance is going to be getting a nice little boost!  It helps that the books were great as well.

But moving along...  My last roll was on 6/18, and while I'd been hoping to finish my book early enough that my next BLopoly roll wouldn't overlap with the next Free Friday too closely... that didn't happen.  So now I'm going to start this next book... and then turn around and pick up another book for Free Friday in less than twenty-four hours (another post to come soon see end of post).

Anyway, my Roll #19 landed me on Fantasyland 6 where Teddy Bear game piece can't seem to stay magnetized to the board, and has thus slid all the way down the board to the bottom, landing his butt on my desk top.  No photos, he's embarrassed enough as it is, poor guy...

Reading-wise, I chose To the Rescue by Jean Barrett, which is set in Yorkshire, England, which satisfies the game square criteria, as the UK is part of Western Europe.  The book is 292 pages, which, according to the new Shake Up doubled rewards rules, is worth $6.00, bringing my lovely Bank Balance to $91.00!


To the point, To the Rescue was engaging as a mystery, but the romance could have used a bit less insta-lust/insta-love.  It got a bit frustrating to me that this silly couple were continually thinking about touching each other or getting laid, while there's a killer running amok in the big creepy monastery that has been isolated by heavy blizzards in the middle of the English countryside.

Priorities, guys!

At least the writing style was easy to read and the progression was good.


Onto Roll #20... which turned into #20.1 with a doubles rolled:


I ended up rolling a Double 5 = 10, which took me from Fantasyland 6 to Luxury Tax: "Read a book where someone gets married, with jewelry on the cover, or where any character is a millionaire/billionaire!"


Monkey's back!  Hi!  **waves**  He looks really comfortable just hanging there!


I rolled again for my doubles and got, for Roll #20.1:


Moving 9 spaces from Luxury Tax, I ended up on another utilities space, Water Works: "Read a book with water on the cover, or where someone turns on the waterworks (i.e., cries) because of an emotional event."



Monkey is meditating, Teddy is hanging...  Uh oh, where did Peek-a-Boo Penni go?  Probably time to go back home.  Maybe she'll be back next time for another visit!


After some shuffling of books and some hemming and hawing, and had finally decided on books for each square.


Looks like I'm going to continue on with Harlequin romances, which, to be honest, it's kind of easy to find books from Harlequin that fit some of these categories.  You've got small towns, millionairs/billionaires or weddings, romantic suspense with characters who are police detectives or who known how to handle guns; there are historicals, overseas travels, mysteries... Both books above also take place on an island, if anyone is interested, and, Oh Looky!  Water on the cover!  And trees!

Also, I think The Substitute Sister could be considered Gothic as well.

Anyway, I will be reading The Mysterious Twin by Leona Karr for the Luxury Tax square.  The criteria only requires "any character" to be a millionaire/billionaire.  From what I surmised from the summary and the first 5% of the book I skimmed, our MC will be staying as a nanny at a southern mansion owned by a man named Hugo Vandenburg... if there ever was a name that sounded like money...  It states that the mansion is Vandenburg's summer home, which tells me he's got more homes elsewhere, and I doubt they're quaint two-bedroom ranches in a school neighborhood, considering there's also mention of him owning a baseball team or something like that.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this guy's a millionaire and probably also comes from old money.  I might be wrong.  If I am, I will honorably skip this square and NOT collect my reward.

The Mysterious Twin is 256 pages, which will be worth $6.00.

The Substitute Sister by Lisa Childs, as we can see, has water on the cover, satisfying the Water Works criteria.  It is 240 pages, which will also be worth $6.00.


Free Friday Read #2:

I was going to create a separate post for my second Free Friday book, but as I am writing this post, my time shows that I have about twenty minutes until midnight, which will bring us into 6/23, Friday.  So I decided to just go ahead and insert my chosen Free Friday read for this Friday into this post.  I promise I won't start reading it until after the clock strikes midnight.


I have checked out this book from the library twice already, hoping to get a chance to read it.  The first time, because of all the other book obligations I got caught up in, I renewed the book twice, didn't get around to reading it, then had to give it back.  A couple weeks later, while I was at the library for other books, I decided to check it out again.  This time, I'm hoping to be able to get to it, so decided to declare it my second Free Friday Read for BLopoly!

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis is 327 pages.  And also, it'll help me along in another challenge I'm participating in.

Altogether, I will be hitting $109.00 when I finish all three of these books.  And I'm going to try my best to read in order, for my own strange anal retentiveness...  Though it is entirely possible I'll start reading It Had to Be You after midnight and end up rolling right through it.

Oh well!


Current Bank:   $91.00


A Squee and a Ramble: The Suffragette Scandal

The Suffragette Scandal

by Courtney Milan
Book 4 (final) of Brothers Sinister

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  5.0 Stars

An idealistic suffragette...

Miss Frederica "Free" Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women's rights.  Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good.  Free refuses to be at the end of her rope... but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.

...a jaded scoundrel...

Edward Clark's aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger.  When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help.  So what if he has to lie to her?  She's only a pawn to use in his revenge.

...and a scandal seven years in the making.

But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward.  By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it's too late.  The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past... and once the woman he loves realizes how much he's lied to her, he'll lose her forever.


"Look at the tasks you listed, the ones you think are impossible.  You want men to give women the right to vote.  You want men to think of women as equals, rather than as lesser animals who go around spewing illogic between our menstrual cycles."

He still wasn't saying anything.

"All your tasks are about men," she told him.  "And if you haven't noticed, this is a newspaper for women."

Do you know that giddy feeling you get when you realize you've found yet another gem in your reading life?  Another set of characters so lovely that you can't seem to stop following their plight?  And you bemoan the ending of the book because you wish there were so much more?

When The Suffragette Scandal's ending came around, I kept hoping there would be a few more pages left.  And then when the epilogue finished... well, it suddenly struck me that the entire series was now at it's end.  Sure, there's one more novella that I have yet to finish, but if history is any indication, the novellas in this series aren't exactly as squee-worthy as the main novels have been.

Meanwhile, I'm suffering a bout of 'Book Hangover' as well as a case of, "I don't know which book I liked more:  One or Four."  Because as much as I squee-ed about the first book, and as much as I loved our main male character from The Duchess War, I maybe love Free and The Suffragette Scandal even more.  Except that this last book in the four-book series does one better and gives us another dose of the humble and wonderful Duke of Clermont near the end, and I recall all the reasons I loved him so much from the first book.

So, despite this being a completely moot point, I don't know which book I love more, and I don't know which character I love more, and I don't know which couple I love more.

Free and Edward were stupendous together!  I loved all their witty banter... though I DO have to admit that a lot of it was Free's round-about logic, her blunt personality, and her heck-care attitude.  This is a woman who truly doesn't care what people think of her, and even dares the world to challenge her beliefs and her life's work.  She doesn't bat an eye at any type of impropriety and even walks into it all head on.

"You should read more of my newspaper.  I published an excellent essay by Josephine Butler on this very subject.  Men use sexuality as a tool to shut up women.  We are not allowed to speak on matters that touch on sexual intercourse--even if they concern our own bodies and our own freedom--for fear of being labeled indelicate.  Any time a man wishes to scare a women into submission, he need only add the question of sexual attraction, leaving the virtuous woman with no choice but to blush and fall silent.  You should know, Mr. Clark, that I don't intend to fall silent.  I have already been labeled indelicate; there is nothing you can add to that chorus."

His mouth had dropped open on sexuality; it opened wider on intercourse, and wider still on attraction.

I can't really express how much I loved Free and her care-free spirit since the first time she was introduced in the second book of this series.  The Suffragette Scandal pretty much cemented my love for her.  It also helps that she has a distinctly endearing personality that comes off both cutesy and snarky at the same time.  This ongoing "punctuation" joke has been delightful, and made me smile a lot:

"Suffragette," she said, "is pronounced with an exclamation point at the end. Like this: 'Huzzah! Suffragettes!'"

 "I don't pronounce anything with exclamation points."

"No? Then there's no time like the present to start. Repeat after me: 'Let's hear three cheers for the women's vote!'"

"Cheering is entirely beyond my capabilities."

"Oh, too bad."  Her tone was sympathetic, but her eyes were mocking.  "I see now.  You're a womanthrope."

"No.  I am a realist.  Likely you've never met my sort before."

"Oh, I'm sure I have."  She rolled her eyes.  "I've heard everything.  Let me see.  You believe that women will vote for the handsomest candidate without using their faculties of reason.  Is that the size of your realism?"

He met her accusing gaze with an annoyed look of his own.  "Do I look like a fool?  I don't see any reason for women not to vote; you're no stupider, on average, than the typical man.  If there were any fairness in the world, suffragettes would succeed in all their political aims.  But the world is not fair.  You're going to spend your entire life fighting for gains that will be lost in political bickering ten years after they've been achieved.  That's why I won't spare you three cheers.  They'll serve no purpose but to waste my breath."

"Good heavens.  You're right.  I haven't met anyone like you."

And then she smiled at him.  "Well, Monsieur le Realist.  Call on me if you ever find yourself in need of an exclamation point.  I have an entire box of them."

***

"That's ridiculous!" Mr. Clark growled.  "You're extremely reasonable."

"Mr. Clark, did you just use an exclamation point?  I could have sworn I heard one."

He didn't even blink.  "Of course not," he scoffed.  "I borrowed one of yours.  It's allowed, when I'm talking of you."

***

"I heard it most distinctly," he told her.  "You might have said 'It's you,' but there was a distinct exclamation mark at the end.  In fact, I think there were two."

"Oh, dear," Free looked down, fluttering her eyelashes demurely.  "Is my punctuation showing once more?"

And now I'm just filling the space with quotes and passages I've been highlighting throughout the book...

So here's another one I liked:

"I'm tired," Free told her brother.  "Thank you for everything.  I'd never have been able to rid myself of Delacy without you."  She leaned up and kissed his cheek.  "You're my favorite brother."

"I'm your only brother," he said in dark amusement.

"You see?" Free spread her arms.  "I can't count on any of the others to even exist when I need them."

But there was just so much fun, humorous, witty quips and exchanges.  Even some one-liners that made me laugh out loud!  And then, in the middle of it all, a lot of thoughtful insight that really DID make it so easy to love this book, and Free, and even Edward (for all his flaws).  The rest of the characters might have been a tad boring (except for Robert, never Robert!), or frustrating, but following Free and Edward through their conflicts and their love story really just made every other quibble and disagreement I found dim out into insignificance.

In a word, I just loved this book.  Free is wonderful!  And she and Edward are so amazing fun together, even if they didn't really have super great romantic chemistry.

Oh the FEELS!

And then there's this little gem:

May 28, 1877

As I don't believe in sending letters filled with treacle-like sentiment, I feel as if I should... send you a puppy or something.

Alas.  I don't know if puppies keep when sent through the mails--and I doubt they'd pass through customs these days.

It's too bad you aren't a pirate, as you'd once planned.  That would make puppy delivery far more efficient.  I'd bring up my own ship next to you and send you an entire broadside of puppies.  You'd be buried in very small dogs.  You'd be far too busy with puppy care to worry about anything else.  This is now sounding more and more invasive, and less and less cheering--and nonetheless I have yet to meet anyone who was not delighted by a wriggling mass of puppies.  If I ever did meet such a person, he would deserve misery.

Do not doubt the power of the puppy-cannon.

Edward

P.S.  If there is no puppy attached to this message, it is because it was confiscated at customs.  Bah.  Customs is terrible.


In spite of the fact that I had no idea what Edward was babbling on about, and how so out of character his entire letter seemed... well... PUPPY-CANNON.  =D


Overall, I'm really going to miss this series and the characters.  That Book Hangover is probably going to be here to stay for some time...


***


Free Friday Read #1

Page Count = 322
Cash Award = $6.00

Updated Bank Balance = $85.00


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Duology Review: Once a Thief, Always a Thief


Quinn/Thief

by Kay Hooper
Book #1:  Once a Thief | Goodreads | Rating: 2.5 Stars
Book #2:  Always a Thief | Goodreads | Rating: 2.5 Stars

Overall Series Average Rating: 2.5 Stars

I'm going to be totally honest and say that this series caught my attention, mainly because of the book titles.  I imagined throwing a series review together like this, because it somehow felt aesthetically pleasing (see review post title above).  I suppose it also helps that Kay Hooper's an author I like, and truth, I find a lot of her earlier work more enjoyable than some of the boring drivel she's been putting out lately.

Don't get me wrong: I'm still holding out hope that the Bishop/SCU series will find its former glory.

But this review is about Quinn/Thief duology, so let's get back on track.

Unfortunately, partway through the first book, I had a niggling feeling that I was missing something--that there was a whole world of Quinn/Thief out there that might belong in a different story, or even in prior books written by Kay Hooper, connecting to this world.  So I did a search and found a four book series from Harlequin Loveswept called Men of Mysteries Past, which involved such titles pointing to the four main alpha male characters who all appear in the two books, Max Bannister, Wolfe Nickerson, Jared Chavalier, and the master thief Quinn.

There's also a very blatantly obvious connection between them that doesn't present itself until the very end of the duology; and while I hadn't really thought about it while reading the two books, it didn't strike me as surprising when revealed either.

Still, I was... a bit flummoxed and not sure how to continue this duology.  Especially since the book was dragging a whole lot to begin with anyway, what with all the characters sitting around and discussing security, and gangs of thieves, and Quinn's thieving career... with absolutely no action going on.  It reminded me of those last few trilogy arcs of the Bishop/SCU series where the characters simply spend all of the book sitting around and just... well, discussing things.

It got boring fast.

I DID do some backtracking after I finished the first book, and reread Hooper's author's note a bit more carefully, realizing that she had, indeed hinted at previously published works and her love for Quinn the master thief, thus leading to this re-imagined duology, which is supposed to center mostly around Quinn.  She admits that some of the scenes and dialogue is copy and paste, but that the majority of the two books are definitely new material with some different actions and scenes.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  And yet I HAD to read the second book because of all the loose ends and the mysteries and the secrets yet to be resolved/revealed.  Unfortunately, I can't very well admit that all the loose ends were cleaned up.  The ending of the duology was quite open-ended, both with the criminal thriller parts and the romance parts.

It all felt unsatisfying and unfinished.  Needless to say, while the books were quite easy to read, I'm not entirely certain they were really worth the time put into them, considering how scattered and hop-scotch the progression was, and how unresolved everything felt.  And how deliberately mysterious Hooper was trying to make all the scenes seem, while making all of her characters talk and monologue way too much.





With a priceless collection at stake...

It had taken centuries for Max Bannister's family to acquire their treasures, and now he's been asked to risk his collection as bait for a master criminal.  For his own reasons, Max allows a public exhibition, and to protect the family fortune he must rely on the skills of his half brother--a world-class security expert--and his smart and savvy exhibit director, Morgan West.


Is everything for the taking?

But almost immediately, Morgan comes face-to-face with the mysterious Quinn, Interpol’s most wanted thief for the past decade—and a man who makes it very clear he has an eye on the Bannister collection.  And if that’s not enough, Morgan begins to realize that she’s surrounded by secrets and lies, and that someone very close to Max is moving behind the scenes, intent on murder as well as robbery...someone whose ultimate plan threatens to ruin them all.


Truthfully, there was so much going on in the first book that I really couldn't tell if Ms. Hooper had an actual direction to her story progression.  The main premise was there, though, don't get me wrong.  But I had a hard time following one character after another without wondering if details were being left out, or if I was already supposed to understand the fairly underdeveloped characters in this universe.

And truth, aside from maybe Storm Tremaine and her cat, I really had a hard time liking any of the characters.  Four broody alpha males, two feisty damsels... it's a typical dated romance, though two couples are showcased together in the first book.  And while I DID enjoy the bickering and insta-lust to immediate insta-love between Wolfe and Storm (these names!), I found the romance between Quinn and Morgan completely incredible, starting with the fact that there's a modicum of psychic hinting between the two, as well as Morgan's TSTL actions that make absolutely no sense.  Which is a big disappointment, because I had expected so much more from her.

In terms of storytelling, Once a Thief was definitely what you would call a "set-up" book.  Because nothing really happens except for a maybe last minute villain; this book read like an introductory of sorts.  Which is a lot of pages for setting up the world and the story.


I read this book for Booklikes-opoly in Summer 2017.

Roll #16: (See Also: Roll #16 Activities)

Page Count:  326
Cash Award:  +$3.00

Bank Increased to $73.00 with this read.





In a deadly game of skill and deception...

The priceless, rarely displayed Bannister collection is about to be exhibited--and the show's director, Morgan West, can't ignore her growing uneasiness.  She's certain she hasn't seen the last of the infamous cat burglar Quinn.  But she never expected him to turn up at her apartment one dark night in desperate need of her help--help she can't refuse.  The mysterious master thief is playing a dangerous game, and it's a game that just might get him killed.

A master thief is just the first wild card...

With Morgan's help, Quinn sets a trap intended to catch someone far more elusive... and more deadly... than a thief.  But an unseen threat shadows him in the fog-shrouded San Francisco night, an unknown adversary more cunning than any he has yet encountered.  Now, just when the stakes are higher than even Quinn can imagine, no one can be trusted--and everything's at risk.


To my extreme frustration, Always a Thief didn't fare as well either.  Pretty much this entire second book just continues the story line from the first, with all the same quibbles and irritating draggy-ness that I really didn't care for.

Morgan's TSTL characteristics didn't improve, despite all the narrative efforts to make her sound like an intelligent, witty, independent woman.  At least there's a scene wherein she, herself, points out just how TSTL her actions have become since she'd met Quinn, the master thief.  Of course, it still didn't stop her from continuing to rush into danger for no good reason; although, since very little negative came out of her actions, I suppose I don't know why I'm complaining.

Oh, that's right, maybe because we've still got some sort of strange psychic connection being emphasized between Quinn and Morgan that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Meanwhile, the rest of the characters are shuffled into the background.  Truth be told, I would have liked to see more on the development between Quinn and Jared, once we find out what their connection is... but the book sort of just fazed it out and made it seem insignificant in light of all the scattered activity of the main conflict, and the non-romance-romance going on between Quinn and Morgan.

Truthfully, I think I probably reset my outlook on this book after reading Once a Thief, but that still didn't keep me from feeling a twinge of disappointment that things didn't work out the way I'd been hoping.  And when I say "work out the way I'd been hoping," I mean get more exciting and less boring, as well as turn Morgan into a more sensible character who doesn't just accept all of Quinn's lies with a shrug and a "whaddya gonna do?" just because she's somehow fallen in love with him (in spite of all the lies and secrets); or who doesn't just go rushing into danger without a backup plan.

In light of this, I kind of miss having Storm and Wolfe bicker at each other.


Overall, I feel like maybe if I'd known about the previously published four book series that was the jumping board for this duology, I maybe would have given some thought to reading that one first, then maybe coming back to this duology some time later.  Instead, now that I've finished with this two-book series, I'm not entirely sure how I'd feel about going back and picking up Men of Mysteries Past and seeing if it would be more worth my time.

Another last thought... I had a fleeting moment to wonder whether or not Hooper had intended to extend this duology to a trilogy or maybe another foursome.  Though to be fair, I suppose there would  then have to be some more clever wording with the book titles, as Once a Thief, Always a Thief has a nice ring to it already.  Adding more might undermine that aesthetically pleasing review post title I still found I looked forward to presenting...


Thoughts: Don't Ever Stop

Don't Ever Stop

by Leslie A. Kelly
Book 2 of Veronica Sloan

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

In the months since working on their first murder involving the Optical Evidence Program, Detective Veronica Sloan and Special Agent Jeremy Sykes have been trying to solve the rest of the puzzling case.  That becomes even more imperative when Veronica receives data from a test subject... who sends her the images of a brutal murder he committed.

It’s a race against time as the taunting clues come in.  Ronnie and Sykes find themselves traveling across the country, always one step behind the killer who is zeroing in on his real target...in the nation’s capital.  It will take all of Ronnie’s ingenuity and every bit of her courage to not only solve this crime, but the one that’s haunted her for months.

Especially because, this time, she’s the target of a killer’s brutal rage.


The second (and possibly final?) book of the Veronica Sloan duology was just as fast-paced and exciting as the first.  Don't Ever Stop turns the murder mystery around this time, and rather than seeing the crime committed via the victims' eyes, now the killer has sent his own O.E.P. photo files, showing our detective the murder he committed.

A lot actually goes on in this book, picking up where it left off with an unsolved murder case from Don't Look Away, while giving us a whole new murder mystery to follow.  And it isn't until the end that all the loose ends start tying together, in an actually quite clever way.  It took a little while, but I DID manage to figure out the ongoing mystery lurking in the background of this second book's main conflict.  Surprising twist, yes, but pretty well-outlined, truth be told.

I guess what bugged me the most about this book (and even the previous) was the lukewarm romance.  It lacked chemistry, even if Veronica and Jeremy were two mature adults with great teamwork skills, witty banter, and an angst-less relationship.  They were a wonderfully perfect couple... they just lacked chemistry, whether in bed or out of it.

And then there was a triangle between them and Veronica's PD partner, Mark Daniels.  I found it quite unnecessary, and while it was pretty subtle in the first book, handled well, I thought it just needed to be laid to rest at the end of the first book.  Bringing the situation back again in this second book felt like a deliberate attempt to create conflict, and, once again, unnecessary.  Especially since nothing really came out of it that was significant to either the plot or the character interactions, or even the romance.

While the main criminal mystery in Don't Ever Stop was well executed, the ongoing background mystery felt a little detached.  And also too open-ended for my liking.  Sure the mystery was solved, and a lot of secrets got revealed.  The resolution was depressing, and at the same time, it felt unfinished.

It makes me wonder: Is there going to be another book?  Or is this it and we're going to leave it at that?

Because while there is obviously potential for another book, I'm not sure I know how the rest of the series would proceed from here on out.  Maybe things will become more chaotic and Leslie Kelly will try her hand at a dystopian.  Who knows?

I mean, we've got mad scientist experiments gone wrong, uber government restrictions, and now the creators of the most advanced technology in this world are both dead, with a lot of beta-testing yet to be completed.  It reeks of possible "world spiraling out of control into another trendy dystopian trilogy."

Overall, enjoyable and entertaining.  Just not what I'd expected from Kelly after other books I've read by her.


***

Booklikes-opoly

Roll #18:
MC is a police detective.

Page Count:  281
Cash Award:  +$3.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $79.00


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Booklikes-opoly | Roll #19!

Booklikes-opoly
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Over a week ago (yeah, that long), I rolled a 7 and moved from Paradise Pier 28 to Mystery Square 35.  For that square, I read Don't Ever Stop by Leslie A. Kelly, a book where the MC is a police detective.  The book itself was 281 pages, which added $3.00 to my Bank, bringing my balance to $79.00!


Don't Ever Stop was just as fast-paced as the first book; enjoyable with a few things I had trouble agreeing with... and a subtle love triangle that made me wince.  I don't like triangles, and never thought I'd find one in a Rom Suspense, considering how much else is going on.

Anyway, moving along now.


Onto Roll #19:


I rolled an 8 and moved from Mystery Square 35 to Fantasyland 6.


Hmm... Spot the Monkey?  Did my photo booth picture with my BFF scare everyone away?  And there's Teddy Bear, just kind of hanging and sliding downward...

Ah well, maybe I really need to go get a treat to lure Monkey back to the board.


I haven't landed in the Fantasyland squares before, and even though I've got a list of books I could read, I had a hard time figuring out what I was in the mood for.  In the end, I picked five books from my list of possibilities, and did a random draw.


Good ol' Harlequin!  I've been itching to read this book ever since I stumbled across it on Scribd, even in spite of all the less than ideal reviews.

To the Rescue by Jean Barrett is set in Yorkshire, England.  It is 292 pages, which will be worth $6.00 upon completion.

I am still reading, and finishing up my first Free Friday read, which is also worth $6.00; so no matter which book I finish first, it will bring my next Bank Balance update to $85.00!


Current Bank:   $79.00

Friday, June 16, 2017

Booklikes-opoly | Free Friday Read #1! and Happy News!

Booklikes-opoly
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform



You would think a book as short and fast-paced as Don't Ever Stop wouldn't take long to read... but when Real Life clashes with Reading Life, things tend to get side-lined.  As I'd stated in a previous post, my little brother's wedding has come and gone, and the few days surrounding this event seemed like nothing but hectic activity.  There were relatives from out of town to entertain, there were a lot of last minute preparations for the wedding day, then there was the full-day event of the wedding day itself.

Truth be told, weddings are definitely very happy, wonderful, yet exhausting occasions.  Everyone's been pretty tired, and since I had to head right back to work the next night after the wedding, I think my body got quite worn out.  Days later, my feet are still sore; and needless to say, I got very little reading done.

Congratulations to the happy couple!
In this picture, they are feeding each other seafood soup.  I can vouch that it was delicious!

Anyway, after hijacking my own Booklikes-opoly update post for a bit of rambling news, onto the actual Booklikes-opoly update post!


First of all, I still haven't finished Don't Ever Stop by Leslie A. Kelly, the book from my most recent Roll #18.  It's not that it's a bad book or anything, on the contrary, it's starting to get interesting.  But there have been so much going on (see above), that reading has been the last thing on my mind.

But now with relatives all gone back home, and life getting back to its normal scheduling, I think I can finally settle back into my usual routine.


Secondly...

The rules have been tweaked, which means a lot of things, all of which you can find at the above linky that I will keep on all of my BLopoly update posts now.  Just like that (see above--all the way above to beginning of the post).  Or you could just click here since the first half of my post is a bit long.

Anyway, aside from doubling cash rewards, a location multiplier, and the opportunity to spend cash for extra rolls, Moonlight has also given us Free Book Friday:

Fourth is free book Friday. Regardless of the square you are on, you get a free choice on the next seven Fridays to read anything.

And basically, how this works is as follows:

Free Friday books are independent of the square, and are a way to earn a few extra dollars.  They do not count towards the location multiplier!

They do not have to be finished on Friday, they just have to be started on Friday.  They can be finished on any day of the week.  However, you can only have one Free Friday book going at a given time, so if the player hasn't finished the preceding Friday's free book, they don't get to start a new one.

So... just another way of making some extra reward money!  Yay!

I was going to wait until the next Friday to start my Free Book, seeing as how I've got two books going right now, and having some trouble concentrating on reading with all the real life activities going on.  But I figured, you know, it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and start a new book today to get the ball rolling.

Worst case scenario is that I don't finish it by next Friday and have to skip next Friday's free book.

So after some thought about what I wanted to read, I decided to get started on the last book in the Brothers Sinister series, which will successfully fulfill my Read a Series in a Month Challenge for June.


What better book to start my Free Friday read than a book with an MC named Free!  Well, Frederica Marshall, who goes by the nickname "Free," but who's splitting hairs?

And to be totally honest, with this book, I'm almost certain I will finish it before next Friday... unfortunately, that means I don't know how badly that will interfere with me trying to finish up my current Blopoly book, Don't Ever Stop.

We'll just play by ear.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan is 322 pages.  And according to the new Game Shake Up rules, since all money awards have been doubled, this book will be worth $6.00!  If I finish this book before my regular BLopoly book, that will bring my Bank Balance to $82.00!


Current Bank:   $76.00


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thoughts: The Countess Conspiracy

The Countess Conspiracy

by Courtney Milan
Book 3 of Brothers Sinister

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0  Stars

Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one.  When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories.  He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way.  But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his.  They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership... even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.


I have to honestly admit that even though this third book was very enjoyable, there were a few things that kept it a little lower on my personal book ranking scale compared to the previous two books.  Frankly, Sebastian and Violet were great together, and I loved how well they molded to each other.  And while both of their individual conflicts were meaningfully parallel, the events and set up felt deliberately created to make this couple a "No one understands me better than you" type of romance.  I'm not sure how to feel about it outside of a little 'meh,' truth be told.

If I had to pinpoint one disappointment, it would be that Violet and Sebastian seemed like a much more amusing, interesting couple as side characters in the first book.  But the ending of the second book gave me a bad feeling about them, so I wasn't really as looking forward to this couple as I would have been.

Then I started into The Countess Conspiracy and ended up with conflicted feelings.  Once again, Violet and Sebastian are a great couple.  But I can't help but feel like the rest of the characters were purposefully placed in a bad light just to showcase how special these two were, to each other, to all of their friends, to the world in general...  I mean, this book made me a little upset that I had gotten irritated with Robert for a short scene wherein he acts like a complete, inconsiderate, and insensitive jerk--this makes me sad because I love Robert!

Of course, compared to all the jerk-holes featured in this book--Violet's sister, Lily; Sebastian's brother, Benedict; Miss High Pitched woman with her uninformed judgments--Robert's and Oliver's little moment of being insensitive jerk-holes were quickly forgotten, in light of, they quickly repented and were very apologetic.  It still didn't make me happy though.

As individuals, Violet and Sebastian were good people with very unique, promising characteristics, with lots of potential for growth.  They weren't what I'd been expecting, to be honest.  And as intimate friends, they were wonderful together.  I loved how they fought and made up, read each other's minds at will, and understood each other without having to ask.

Once again, this was definitely a "made for each other" type of romance... and while those things are sweet, they were also a bit too deliberate in the telling.

And so, romance-wise, I'd have to say that while Sebastian played the dream, ideal man to perfection, Violet's own behaviors and actions were a little frustrating.  These two made better intimate, soul-mate-like friends than lovers.  Even knowing all the reasons behind the way Violet responds to other people, I still found the way she treats Sebastian a bit hard to agree with, especially after he'd always been nothing but sweet to her, never asking anything in return for just being able to be around her.

Anyway, The Countess Conspiracy is not necessarily my favorite of the Brothers Sinister series, even though it was enjoyable and easy to breeze through.  Meanwhile, there were still a lot of things that happen that I'm happy with, despite those few quibbles I mentioned.

So, conflicting feelings, yes.  But overall, enjoyable and no regrets about continuing this series.  If anything, the short moments that Oliver's youngest sister, Free, was present made me look forward to the last book even more!


***

Booklikes-opoly

Roll #17:
Book is set during Victoria's reign.

Page Count: 318
Cash Award: +$3.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $76.00


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

COYER Summer 2017 | Summer Reading List! and some news!

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.
See Also:  My COYER Summer 2017 Summary Page

There are two ways to play COYER this summer!
  1. COYER - READ ALL THE BOOKS!  That’s right…this means we can read whatever!  Any price, any format as long as it is acquired legally.  From the start of the challenge to the end just read/review as much as possible.  Super Simple. 
  2. Summer Reading List…. The idea is to create a "Summer Reading List" with 30 books that you plan on reading this summer, from the TBR pile of books you already own.  This is to give us a direction and a list of books to choose from.
    • We are not obligated to read ALL the books on the list by the end of the challenge.
    • The list cannot be changed after COYER starts on June 17.
    • Each time we finish reading five books, we can add five more books to the list.
    • This part of the challenge has a read-a-thon that goes with it--three read-a-thons.

Once again, for more information on the rules, prize drawings, as well as the scheduled read-a-thons, or to sign up to participate, click on the above link.

As a glutton for punishment, even though I want to keep with The Year of the Laid Back Reading Plans, I couldn't help but be drawn into a challenge wherein you make a reading list and try to stick with that reading list.  Even as a mood reader, I tend to like giving myself a sense of focus, and a list of books is just what I need!

Also, it helps that we don't really HAVE to finish all the books on the list...  Had this been two years ago, I probably would make myself finish all the books on any list I make.  But this year, I'm just going to try to have fun!


Ani's COYER Summer Reading List


See Also: COYER Summer Reading List @ GR
  1. Going Rogue by Robin Benway
  2. Secret Agent Secretary by Melissa Cutler
  3. Hot on the Hunt by Melissa Cutler
  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
  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
  12. Cutting Loose by Tara Janzen
  13. The Mysterious Twin by Leona Karr
  14. Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly
  15. Pushing the Lines by Kimberly Kincaid
  16. Skin Deep by Kimberly Kincaid
  17. Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh
  18. Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell
  19. The First Victim by J.B. Lynn
  20. Thicker Than Water by Maggie Shayne
  21. The Littlest Cowboy by Maggie Shayne
  22. The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber
  23. Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
  24. Heat Wave anthology - Stephanie Bond, Heidi Betts, Leslie Kelly
  25. That's Amore anthology - Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, Leslie Kelly
  26. Bare Essentials duo-story anthology - Jill Shalvis, Leslie Kelly
  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

I will be tracking all of my progress at a separate page, which can be found here, or right above my Reading List.  It will include, also, a spot for where I will add on extra five books for every five books I read.  And also, I've embedded a spinny wheel to help me decide what to read if I were to ever need a random pick!


And now some other news!

I haven't posted in almost a whole week, I think, and that's mainly because things have been super hectic at home.  My brother's wedding was just this past Saturday, so we spent a lot of time just prepping and hanging out as a family.  Since being social was a must, reading ended up being a bit minimal, so I haven't finished a book in a whole week even though I've started two.

Following the wedding, we ended up spending more time with relatives from out of town, so, once again, reading was a bit minimal.

I'm also trying to readjust to going back to work after taking some time off for the wedding, but the adjustment period is being kind of cruel.  Basically, I'm having trouble adjusting my sleep schedule from "normal people day" to "third shift working nights."  I've been going to work exhausted for the past few nights and then coming home and crashing.

Anyway...

If I get a chance, I may post a separate update about my brother's wedding, maybe with photos!

On top of that, I need to officially publish my review for The Countess Conspiracy, which was supposed to have gone up about five days ago, right before the wedding day, but with all the busy, I totally forgot to finish it.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try to finish reading Don't Ever Stop as soon as I can so that I can get back into the Booklikes-opoly game.  I'm so totally itching to roll again!  lol