Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Packaged Thoughts Christmas 2017: All the Books I Didn'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 in an actual review.  (Although chances are, I'll ramble enough material for a full blown review anyway once I get to typing.  So bear with me.)

There will be two of these posts each year, one posted on June 1 to celebrate my birthday, and one posted on December 25 to celebrate Christmas.  My gift to myself and the reading community!

And, I know, I'm a day late posting this, but it's close enough, right?

Thank you all for reading!

by Amanda Quick
narrated by Barbara Rosenblat
Rating:  3.0 Stars

Mystique is one of those historical romance books you expected to like, but never truly expected to love--if that makes any sense.  However, being familiar with Amanda Quick's work already, it wasn't like I had any other expectation outside of being thoroughly entertained.

I've stated before that Amanda Quick books are hard to review.  This is mainly because, while extremely enjoyable, and very easy to follow during its reading, all Amanda Quick books tend to be rather similar.

Since Mystique takes place during a timeline different than what I'm used to with Amanda Quick (I think I've really only been reading her Victorian era work), it DOES have it's own advantage of being a different kind of Amanda Quick romance.

But that doesn't mean it's really any different than the rest.  You've got a feisty, too-modern-for-her-own-time heroine, and a broody, jerk of an alpha male.  Sparks fly, romance ensues.  The chemistry, at least is steamy; although the love story was rocky to start with at best.

Still, it's an entertaining Amanda Quick book to pass the time.  And as an audio book, Barbara Rosenblat does wonders to bring all the characters to life, especially Alice and her fiery self.

The Lady Most Likely... (The Lady Most... #1)
by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway
narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Rating:  2.0 Stars

The truth is, even after a few months from finishing this book, I still have no idea what I want to say about it, because not a whole lot actually happens in this book.  There's massive potential, what with a matchmaking story line, a country house party, and romance in the air...

But our couples meet and fall in love... and that's about it.  Broody alpha males fall for your standard plucky heroine.

I've got nothing else.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much (Burning Cove #1)
by Amanda Quick
Rating:  3.5 Stars

I was looking forward to The Girl Who Knew Too Much because this book seems like a change up from Amanda Quick's typical Victorian or Regency romance settings.  The Girl Who Knew Too Much takes place in 1930s California when Hollywood and movies were very, very big and everyone wanted to be a star.

I sense an attempt at Noir-like style; though not being familiar with the Noir genre, I can't really say if Amanda Quick succeeded or not.

Certainly, she DID manage to tell her story in her standard formulaic way, that just happens to be set in a different time line than her usual historical romantic suspenses.  This is not to say that I didn't enjoy it, because certainly, I keep coming back to Amanda Quick because I like her formulaic styles.  There were great characters, dialogue, and a sweet, steamy romance--all winning, if you ask me.

My quibbles about this book are really just about how non-mystery the mystery really was, and also how rushed the ending came about.  There were, I feel, entirely too many POVs, which switch back and forth so quickly that it almost felt jarring.

Otherwise, this is standard Amanda Quick goodness--entertaining and enjoyable, if nothing else.

Frost Line
by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
Rating:  3.0 Stars

There was a lot about this book that required an immense suspension of disbelief, even for a paranormal story involving multiple worlds, and higher, immortal beings.  And honestly, Frost Line has an interesting premise, and loads of potential--especially to become a series if our authors so choose to continue anymore stories in this fictional world.

And while the characters were pretty great, I still had my issues with our main male MC... whose name I can't recall right now and don't care to go searching for.

Which brings me to my quibbles.  This book is interesting, but basically forgettable.  And this book was also quite scattered, jumping around several characters' POVs too quickly for me to care about some of the more side characters.

But otherwise, the book was a nice, fast, enjoyable read.

16 Festive Tasks
Dia de los Muertos / All Saints' Day

I read this book for the 16 Festive Tasks:

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:
A book that has a primarily black and white cover,
or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

by Tessa Dare
Castles Ever After series
#1) Romancing the Duke | Rating:  3.0 Stars
#2) Say Yes to the Marquess | Rating:  3.0 Stars
#3) When a Scot Ties the Knot | Rating:  3.0 Stars

For some reason, I get the feeling that this is probably not Tessa Dare's best work--this series, I mean.  Certainly, it is as witty and enjoyable as all of the previous works I've read of hers, but there's just something ultra-light and fluffy about these books, especially Romancing the Duke that gives me a juvenile romance type of feel.

Yes.  There is sex--which is probably the least juvenile parts of the books.  But what I mean is that the love stories feel very schoolgirl-crush-like.  If that makes any sense.  If I had to choose a favorite... I'd probably choose Say Yes to the Marquess, if only because I grew to love the youngest sister, Phoebe, for her unique, socially awkward personality.  If I had to choose my least favorite, I'd choose When a Scot Ties the Knot, mainly for the uncomfortable feeling I get from the relationship between our main couple.

Otherwise, the writing is what I love about Tessa Dare--sweet and fun romance, with a modern, forward-thinking heroine.  And that's really all I can think of to say about this series.  It was entertaining and kept my mind off of things I didn't want to think about.  That's got to count for something, right?

All the Crooked Saints
by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating:  3.0 Stars

There's something about seeing a mediocre, 'meh' rating on a Maggie Stiefvater book that makes me a little sad--if only because I loved and squee'd the heck out of her Raven Cycle series, and fell in love with all the characters.

All the Crooked Saints encompasses all the wonderful that is Maggie's magical writing style, and presents as a rather whimsical magical realism story about saints and miracles and love.  It reminds me of a Sarah Addison Allen book without the fluff, and with the gorgeous description and smooth loveliness that is Maggie Stiefvater's writing style.

But for the life of me, I could not quite understand what was actually going on in this book until about halfway through--which was when the true conflict finally came to light, and I realized what the underlying background conflict had been to begin with.

There might have been too many characters and too many circumstances surrounding all of these characters.  There might have even been too many descriptors all the too many characters.  Whatever it was, it made for a very long, very dragged out build up of the story, even as I enjoyed the cute little tidbits about each character.

Unfortunately, there comes a time when too much is truly too much, and you wish the book would just get on with it.

Stoneview Estate
by Leona Karr
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Stoneview Estate isn't a terrible book, but it certainly wasn't as fascinating or intriguing as I'd hoped.  The entire sordid affair of the baby kidnapping and the murder ended up being entirely too predictable.  And even if I didn't know who the ultimate culprit was, I had an idea why the nursemaid had been killed.

Following, the rest of the book ended up being a rather over-dramatic soap, where everyone reacted to situations with way too much emotion.  I didn't really like any of the characters, and others I absolutely despised.  I especially found the Sheldon parents a bit jack-ass-y (if that's even a possible word) because of how they were treating their daughter.

The book was also riddled with typos and editing errors, where names were spelled wrong here and there, and the wrong name was used in at least three different instances.  Then the overreaction that Robyn had to discovering Brian's secret identity felt entirely too forced, as did the ultimate reveal of the kidnapping, the murder, and the location of the missing ransom money.

All-in-all, Stoneview Estate had it's moments where I was drawn in, but it's not exactly something I'd come back to, nor recommend.  At least, not unless you're interested in anything Gothic romance and would be interested in books about mysteries in old mansions.  Truthfully though, the atmosphere of the book could have been better, because it didn't feel like Gothic, except maybe in one particular scene.

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