Wednesday, August 30, 2017

First Impression: The Tokyo Zodiac Murders

Getting my Bingo started early with The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.

The book opens with a "Last Will and Testament" of a man named Heikichi Umezawa... and his very deranged, twisted thoughts of creating the perfect woman, Azoth, by assembling the perfect body parts, namely of his daughters and nieces together into one whole.

His rambling goes on and on about his life, with the preface that, "I have been posses by a devil, an evil spirit with thoughts of its own," to punctuate the psychopathic ideals that keep surfacing in his mind meanderings.

And, then we, segue into the main characters of our story, where one of them exclaims, "What the hell is all this? [...] it was like being forced to read the Yellow Pages!"  This said, as he chucks the reading across the room, which I am led to believe is Umezawa's ramblings.

Honestly, I'm kind of inclined to agree with the MC, about the prologue of info-dump; although at the same time, I also found that everything was so twisted, it was a little hard to make myself look away.

It's too early in this book to decide whether or not I like it yet, especially since I just spent thirty pages reading a madman's justifications for serial murder, describing exactly what he wants to do and why, and his fascination with women and astrology.

Anyway, as this is my interlibrary loan book, I decided that I would start into it.  And I'm almost certain I may not finish reading all of it until after September starts.  I think I'm going to take my time with this and see if I can't play detective alongside our main characters, Kiyoshi Mitarai and Kazumi Ishioka.

I will be reading this book for the Locked Room Mystery square.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My first interlibrary loan! And a Halloween Bingo update!

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
by Soji Shimada

This is the first time I've used our local library's interlibrary loan option.  If I had known it was that easy, I would have started doing it a long time ago--I always thought it was much more complicated.  But I didn't even have a hold fee or a request fee when I went to pick it up, and the only caveat is that I can't renew it and must return it in a timely manner.

It looks like I have three weeks until I have to return it, or there's a one dollar late fee per day.

I was going to decide what to start reading based on the first Bingo call, but I think I'll try to start this book as soon as I can, based on these loan conditions.  I have a feeling this may not be one of those "breeze through in one day" type of reads.

Or maybe it will be.

I will be reading this book for the Locked Room Mystery square.

Meanwhile, I had several other books lined up to start reading, some of them also based on library loan conditions.  I have checked out two other e-books from the library, and they are only 21 day loans.  One book will be for Halloween Bingo, while the other is just a book I'd had on hold request for a long time and it finally became available.

I recently checked out The Camelot Caper by Elizabeth Peters, after submitting a recommendation to the library to acquire it for the library's e-book collection, and it became available pretty quickly, which makes me happy.  I will be reading it for the Cozy Mystery square.

In the meantime, on Friday, my parents, my youngest brother, and I (and Baby!) will be traveling out of town to visit my eldest brother for the Labor Day weekend in Dallas.  Which means that I will need to line up some reading for the duration.

I think these should do nicely, although since I never travel without my Kindle Paperwhite, I will have many, many other books as choices.  For now, it's just two paperbacks, at the least, and whatever e-book strikes my fancy.

The truth is, I have so many options right now, I wish I could just start reading all of them.

I had wanted to start Bingo off with The Decagon House Murders, but since I have the option to renew that library book if necessary, I think I'll set that one aside for now.

I WILL definitely find some time to start one of the audio books I've got lined up, specifically The Nightmare Charade, both for Bingo and for Reading Assignment, and also so I can finish up this trilogy and put it behind me.

So those are my plans for the time being.

I will have one more post published, on Friday--my monthly wrap up--but then I'll be out for a few days.  Unless I decide to bring my laptop with me, and in that case, I'm hoping to finish reading my current read, Quicksilver by Amanda Quick, and have a review posted soon.  Otherwise, I will probably only check in to read posts and see how the start of Halloween Bingo is going!

Monday, August 28, 2017

COYER Summer Reading List | August Readathon Wrap Up!

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

In a way, August's thon was better than the previous two... however, not really.  I'd say I break even considering that one book was less than 300 pages, and the rest were novellas that were barely 150 pages.  But whatever, I managed to knock four more books off of my digital shelves.  That's still accomplishment!

About two more weeks until the end of COYER, so I'm hoping to knock a few more books off my reading list.  I stopped adding five after finishing five books, and decided just to focus on what's on my list already.

Then there's Halloween Bingo, and my own Personal Series Challenge...

But truthfully, giving myself lists and a direction has been quite helpful in knocking out TBRs and deciding what to read next.  Sometimes you just need structure, but I'm going to make myself take things even more laid back as the year progresses, and when 2018 rolls around.

August Readathon Books Read

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:  23 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 -- 8/23/2017
  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 -- 8/25/2017
  9. Hot Package by Lynn Raye Harris -- 8/27/2017
  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 -- 8/25/2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Duo Review: H.O.T. - Hot Mess & Hot Package

Hostile Operations Team

by Lynn Raye Harris
Book #2: Hot Mess | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3: Hot Package | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars

See Also, Previously Reviewed:

-- Book #1: Hot Pursuit

These were two short, sweet novellas.  Both are second chance romances, with the main couples having separated under angry conditions, so both sides of both couples have unresolved conflicts to deal with.

And that's really all there is to these two novellas.

English professor Dr. Georgeanne Hayes has a problem.  Her star pupil, an Army sergeant who works in a Top Secret government program, is missing—and someone tried to push her in front of a train last night.

Sam “Knight Rider” McKnight is used to looking out for Georgie.  When they were kids, she was just his best friend’s baby sister.  But Georgie’s not a baby anymore and Sam is getting some very male—and very dirty—thoughts about the girl he knows he can never have.

When someone threatens Georgie’s life again, Sam will do anything necessary to keep her safe.  Even if it means spending the next few days locked up in a remote house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with her.

Sam might be used to denying himself what he wants, but he’s about to find out that being cooped up with Georgie will push him to the limit.  And maybe beyond.

I'm not as content as everyone else seems to be about this short story.  Granted, it was a bite-sized novella, with a good amount of story and action, even for something that wasn't quite novel-length.  I've been conflicted about my rating, because the truth is, I DO like our female MC, Georgie.  I love that she knows what she wants and she goes for what she wants, and screw the rest of the world.

But I also have a problem with romances where the heroine continually flings herself at the hero, and he all but tells her he can't, and won't commit to anything, and just keeps pushing her away.  But because Sam has a pretty legit reason for pushing Georgie away, I can't be entirely too upset with him, or with the relationship.  But that doesn't mean I didn't get frustrated, especially when he continually, in his own head, decided for Georgie what she should be doing: going home to Texas, marrying someone in the blue collar community, being in her junior league, raising kids...

Did he not think that maybe he should let Georgie decide what she wants with her life?  It got really, really annoying that he kept going on about this, no matter that Georgie would remind him that she has a life in D.C., and she quite likes her life, and is quite happy not having to be in Texas, under her parent's thumb every minute of the day.

Anyway, this was short, but not quite sweet, as even the romance and the sex didn't feel like it salvaged anything--some of it just made me more frustrated.  Of course, this story is so bite-sized, it's perfect for those times when you don't know what else to read before a big Halloween Bingo game coming up in less than a week.

When public relations expert Olivia Reese stumbles onto evidence of a dangerous conspiracy right before Christmas, there’s only one man she can call for help.  Billy “The Kid” Blake is a member of an elite military unit—the Hostile Operations Team—and he’s Olivia’s former lover.

Billy never forgot the sexy woman who rocked his world—and his bed—before she walked out on him.  Now that she needs his help, he’ll do anything he can to keep her safe.  But as time runs out and the snow piles up, can Billy and Olivia work together to thwart a lethal plot against the Pentagon without getting involved again?

Much like the previous book in this series, Hot Package was short and entertaining during the read.  Unlike Hot Mess, I found this short romance a bit sweeter, and the couple only slightly more relatable.

Whatever it is, I'm thinking that both Hot Mess and Hot Package probably could have benefited from having a more fleshed out set of characters, as well as a more in depth story line.

Though the truth is, as I'd already said, both are nice enough reads for those times when you're between books, or between reading games, or at the end of a COYER readathon week and want to squeeze a couple more books in to feel like you've accomplished more than make a really big list of books that need to be read.

The main couple of Hot Package honestly didn't stand out much, and if I were to be honest, this book, while sweet, was less memorable than Hot Mess, if only because it didn't rile up any emotions in me at all.  At least with Hot Mess, I got indignant and upset on the heroine's behalf--not that that's something to be proud of, really.  But it gave me something to write about.

And now, I've stretched my thoughts as far as they will go without starting to ramble about nothing.

Very Brief Thoughts: Her Special Alpha

Her Special Alpha

by Paige Tyler
X-Ops #3.5, novella

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.0 Stars

Former Army Special Forces soldier Travis Dalton finds himself thrust into the mysterious world of the Department of Covert Operations, one where sometimes bad guys do more than shoot you—sometimes they tear you to shreds.

Feline shifter and covert agent Eden Bristow can’t help noticing how good Travis is at guarding her back—and turning her on.  She hasn’t had much luck with guys, not once they get a look at her fangs and claws.

Travis doesn’t seem to have a problem with her being a shifter, and Eden is ready to make up for lost time.  But one little thing is getting in the way of their romance—a gang of bad guys, and the vicious wolf shifter leading them.

This novella was entertaining, exciting, and enjoyable--everything I've come to expect from Paige Tyler.  It gets a little wordy and schmaltzy at times, and I have a hard time believing some of the "meant to be together" dialogue, as it comes off kind of juvenile.  But the action in these books is always done well enough to keep your attention.

The characters are good, and I liked how well Travis and Eden partner together.  You don't get to see much of anyone else, which is a little disappointing, because I would have liked to watch more interaction between Eden and her family, and maybe with some dropped hints that they know she's a feline shifter and still love her... or something.

The romance is steamy, but I liked their investigating partnership a little bit more.  However, I DO appreciate that these two don't beat around the bush about their attraction or their emotions and jump right to it.

The only other complaint is that this e-book was riddled with typos and grammatical errors, like missing pronouns, almost every other paragraph.

Otherwise, not a bad read for a boring evening.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Brief Thoughts: Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

by Natalie J. Damschroder

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Kennedy Smyth's firm provides security for companies and charities in seriously dangerous countries.  She doesn't usually take on "frivolous" jobs, but when an old friend asks her to protect his son's movie shoot, she finds it hard to refuse.  Also hard to resist is the film's charismatic star, Rogan St. James.  The handsome actor piques her interest, while the strange actions of the terrorist threatening the set raise her suspicions.

Even though he's a successful actor, Rogan wants more--a real woman to love, the type he doesn't think exists...until he meets Kennedy.  She intrigues him with her confidence and passion for her work, and frustrates him with her refusal to let him get close.

But Kennedy finds herself in a vulnerable position when she discovers that the terrorist isn't actually out to derail the film.  She's the real target--and if he finds out how much Rogan means to her, he could be next...

I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I went into this book, but the truth is, I'm not even sure if the book met my expectations anyway.  Behind the Scenes is enjoyable and well written, and the characters are all quite unique in their own ways.  I liked Kennedy's independent spunk, and her ability to take care of herself.  I also loved that she wasn't created to be flawless, but was also able to recognize her own weaknesses so she could work on them.  She wasn't cynical about her own worth either, and knew exactly what she was capable of without being overly arrogant.  In comparison, Rogan was also Perfect Boyfriend material, being quite... well, perfect in many ways.

These people are all good people, but to be honest, it also makes them a little flat and boring, especially when the story does a lot of small time skips here and there.

Nonetheless, the semi-investigation and the security set-up that took place in the book was outlined really well.

This is, at best, a mediocre, yet quite enjoyable read.

If I had to complain about something, I think it would have to be the romance.  Kennedy and Rogan seem to fall in love and start talking serious relationship much faster than I liked.  On top of that, people start mentioning how the two of them seem to have something going on.  And yet, as the reader, I'm not entirely sure when and where their unofficial courtship began.  One moment, they were discussing the terror attacks.  One moment, they monologue about their intense attraction.

But then the very next moment, they're talking deep feelings and "meant to be" and stuff like that.

When their relationship starts up for real, though, it was pretty sweet.

The identity of their mysterious terrorist is rather predictable, but probably only because subtle hints were thrown out here and there.  Maybe.

Anyway, enjoyable as it is, this isn't a book I'd reread, but since I DID find it entertaining, I'm not complaining.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It's... Not Really... Monday! But What Are You Reading Anyway? | 8/22/2017

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

'Cause it's actually Tuesday, but that's because I didn't get around to writing this post until late, then forgot to schedule it to post.  And I don't have anything else to post right now...

I'm in a semi-slump right now, having a book I'm not really getting into, as well as being distracted by a multiple number of things.  My parents are watching a television series that is actually quite interesting and I've been joining them at random times.  Then there's Halloween Bingo, which I'll admit, is causing me to spend more time looking for books rather than reading them.

I'm so excited to start playing that I can't concentrate very well!

But anyway...

What I Read Last Week

It looks like I read a lot of things, but to be fair, I started Bare Essentials the week previous and had already finished half before last week.  And aside from The Trouble with Mistletoe and In Too Deep, the rest were short stories/novellas.

Still, accomplishment feels good!

What I'm Currently Reading

Colder Than Ice is proving a little hard for me to get into, though to be fair, I've only gotten a chapter and a half in.  But I'm not feeling it anyway, so I'm considering putting it on hold or something.  I should be finishing the other two books pretty soon.

What I'm Planning to Read Next

Three novellas for COYER, one book from the library that I just want to get read.  Pretty straight forward.

Other Plans On the Blog

The next week or so, I'll probably end up spending more time making plans for Halloween Bingo.  I'm going to determine what kind of updates posts I want to write, and how I will update my tracking/summary page, and also how I will handle my reading schedule.

But that's pretty much it, as I don't have any other plans.