Monday, January 30, 2017

Thoughts: Spider's Bite

Spider's Bite

by Jennifer Estep
Book 1 of Elemental Assassin

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider.  I'm the most feared assassin in the South — when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland.  As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me.  My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife.  But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to.  Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge.  And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad.  I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys.  Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me.  The last thing this cold-hearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction... especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

I guess, really aside from the fact that this was highly enjoyable and easy to barrel through, I don't know if I have anything constructive to say about it.  Urban fantasy has never really been my genre when it comes to books, even though I've been known to highly enjoy many a television series of the same kind: Charmed, Supernatural... etc.  I've always been a lover of the supernatural and paranormal.  The X-Files was one of my favorite television shows.

But for some odd reason, when it comes to books, I simply don't seem to get along with paranormals--especially if we tag on the word romance.  Paranormal mysteries are an exception, but it's not like I have a whole lot of them I enjoy.  I'm just not sure what the deal is, but I'm wondering if it has anything to do with the format, or the formula... or even the fact that, as a hopeless romantic, I've yet to come across a paranormal romance that I have liked that have both a strong heroine and a non-broody, non-asshole hero.

Because this would be one of the reasons why I may not continue with this series.

Gin is a fantastic character, if a little unbalanced in some character aspects, which I blame completely on the author's outlining.  Because the ending of the book was a bit messy, and Gin acted and reacted in ways that seemed a bit out of character for her based on what I read of her since the beginning of the book.  I say I blame the author, because those last few chapters felt entirely too deliberately set up to maneuver our main heroine into place, exactly where the author needed her to go.

The ending fight scene between Gin and the mysterious, psychotic Air elemental was pretty sloppy.  I had a hard time believing that Gin would end up in a messy, barroom-like tussle with the main villain since she'd been so direct and precise with her kills from page one of the book.  It took her two whole pages to figure out how to meld her non-magic assassin skills with her magical elemental skills into harmony to save her own life.

It took her two whole paragraphs just to realize she still needed to use her non-magic assassin skills.  But it took her all of two seconds to forget she had non-magic assassin skills.  Gin's character had just come off way faster and smarter than that throughout the book; so it was hard for me to believe that she would become so exclusive about both of her skill sets.

I mean, I get that she'd probably never thought of the idea--of combining magic with non-magic skills--because of her tragic past.  But her non-magic skills had presented as second nature to her, so I guess I just didn't understand why she wouldn't have automatically used her non-magic skills just because she decided to start using her magical elemental skills.


While I love that Gin is so kickass and strong... I absolutely do not understand why it's necessary to make our love interest, Donovan Caine, into such a douchebag--a naive, judgmental, holier-than-thou douchebag.  Why on earth is the broody, asshole of a love interest still a thing?  There is always a broody, asshole love interest!

But back to Dear Detective Caine...  I'm sorry, if the entire city is a mess of corruption within and without the city, the government, the law enforcement, and pretty much everywhere, his idealistic accusations against Gin have no leg to stand on.

Because at least Gin doesn't pretend to be a good person while slitting throats.  At least she's direct about her approach to all her kills.  At least she doesn't hide behind a fake mask of do-gooder while committing heinous crimes.  Gin doesn't pretend to be anything else but an assassin.

On the other hand, you've got police officers, detectives, and captains who are pedophiles and murderers.  You've got high society leaders and aristocrats who don't hesitate to murder someone who looks at them sideways.

And Donovan Caine is concerned about one little assassin being the downfall of civilized society?  One assassin who gets her jobs from the paying aristocrats and city leaders?  What makes everyone else above reproach, just because Gin is the one who does the stabbing?  Why isn't good ol' Detective Caine more concerned about bringing down the people who are actually hiring Gin?

No.  Donovan Caine was not a likable character for me.  And I hope that he either comes around, or goes away.  Though whether or not I'll stick around long enough to find out is another story altogether.

The book is written in a serviceable manner--it's easy to read, easy to breeze through, and doesn't take too many detours.  The only complaint I'd have about the writing, itself, are the constant repetitions of descriptions: Finn's aromatic chicory coffee is brought up enough times to make me wonder what the heck chicory coffee is;  Donovan's gold eyes intensely staring at Gin's gray ones a la "gold against gray" or something of the like, that is probably repeated once every other chapter because the two of them do a lot of intense staring at each other;  The fact that all Elementals have their own runes and that the runes are symbolic must have been mentioned every other chapter as well;  Donovan's constant cycling of emotions on his face are mentioned more times than I care to remember.

There is a lot of repetition; and while the book reads quickly and you move right along, I can see this particular aspect getting annoying if it happens in the next couple books as well.

Anyway, I know I said I had nothing to say, but as always, once I get to writing, thoughts get to flowing.

I may or may not continue this series, but as far as Spider's Bite is concerned, it was a highly enjoyable book with a lot of creative world-building, and interesting side characters.  Romance-wise, I actually found myself hoping that Gin and Finn would end up hitting it off or something, but they seem too much like siblings for that kind of relationship to become comfortable.


I am reading this book for Romance Bingo 2017 for the Urban Fantasy Romance square.  Despite there being quite little of romance in it, the subject DID come up in some form, so I'm sticking to it.

I am also reading this book for my 2017 Reading Assignment Challenge.

Other possible Romance Bingo squares:
  • Love is Murder -- Okay, so this isn't a murder mystery or anything, but there's mystery in it and a whole lot of murder... so we could probably stretch it for this one.
  • Interracial Couple -- Donovan is described as being of Hispanic heritage.  Gin even mentions something somewhere that sets her as being of some other race as well, but I can't recall what.

Monday, January 23, 2017

24in48 Jan. 2017 Readathon: Wrap Up

And That's a Wrap!

Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

So I made it to about 16.5 hours of reading, between the 8 hours spent on an audio book, the 8 hours spent on finishing a book, and a scattering of minutes that may or may not add up to another 30 minutes (I'm probably rounding up for my own benefit); I think I did quite alright.

In the last few hours of possible reading for the day, I decided to start a couple new books--since finishing Spider's Bite, my reading schedule was open for another hard copy book.  And I'm moving into Scream for Me as my next audio book.

Much like the last 24in48 I participated in, I managed to finish two books and clock almost 24 hours of reading.

Until next time!

Books Read


Still To Read

Thoughts: A Week to be Wicked

A Week to be Wicked

by Tessa Dare
Book 2 of Spindle Cove

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.5 Stars

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin... time is not on their side.

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be... anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to
• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they're in "love"
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other
All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don't have time for is their growing attraction.  Much less wild passion.  And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.  And maybe... just maybe... love.

I'm going to be completely honest with everyone.  I simply loved this book!  And I have no idea what else to say about it.  I know that there are reasons not to like this book--the story line itself tends to drag on for some time.

But we've got a nerdy girl, a rake with a heart of gold, a fun adventure traveling cross-country, and lots of steaminess to top it all off.  Minerva and Colin are great together!  Their relationship is both sweet and hot and fun at the same time, and I can't help smiling big and feeling giddy about their conversations.  As Colin has pointed out, the two of them have some of the strangest conversations surrounding the lewdness of mathematical terms, a plaster footprint named Francine, and a lot of made up adventure story stuff to remember for the rest of their lives.

I also have this love for how Minerva, the little quiet lamb breaks out with her bloodthirsty side when Colin is in danger.

To be honest, it really IS Minerva who steals the book for me.  She has a love for rocks and wants to make discoveries that can change the world.  She's not afraid of ruining her reputation for the sake of science, and has a great sense of self that I love, even as she continues to discover herself through her travels with Colin.

Colin, on the other hand, is a fairly typical rake and playboy with no ambitions or directions in his life other than waiting to inherit his estate and money.  It's nice to see him grow and develop as he and Minerva learn from each other.  But at the same time, his growth, his development, his entire being in this book doesn't seem unique from many other historical fiction heroes.  I will give him that he's humorous and NOT an alpha broody type... though his neanderthal DOES start to show every so often when it comes to Minerva.

Anyway, I just absolutely loved, loved, LOVED this book.  There are certainly many things about it that I probably shouldn't like.  But what does it matter?  I enjoyed myself.  I loved Minerva.  I loved Minerva and Colin as a couple.  I even loved the side excursions back to Spindle Cove to show us what's going on while our couple are off creating their adventures.

If there's one thing I DO want to complain about though, it's that I would have preferred for Minerva to not have started the story off already infatuated with Colin.  Colin is the typical rich, suave, playboy rake that all women fall for already.  One of the things that Minerva disliked about him in the first book was that he's loved by everyone just for being who he is, even if he acted the despicable womanizer.  But then we enter A Week to be Wicked and Minerva admits that she finds him attractive, and that her hostile behavior towards him was wrought from the fact that she's envious that he pays sweet attentions on all the girls but her.

I would have rather had both sides of the coupling NOT be smitten with each other at the outset.  Then we could very well watch as they developed their relationship from bickering enemies, to friends, to lovers.

Otherwise, that's it.  I loved this book.  I loved this couple.  I loved this adventure.  I loved this relationship.

And I definitely look forward to the next book in this series with Kate Taylor and Corporal Thorne--this couple looks like it will be lots of fun.  Kate is already a nice spunky female character who's just waiting to give the world a piece of her mind.


I am reading this book for Romance Bingo 2017 for the Rogue square.

Other possible squares:
  • New Adult -- Both Colin and Minerva are in their mid- to late twenties.  Minerva is mentioned as 'four and twenty' years, I think, while Colin is said to be only a couple years older than her, still waiting to become old enough to inherit his estates.
  • Regency Romance
  • Virgin & Best First Time
  • Historical Romance
  • Secret Billionaire -- This one might be a stretch.  Colin is mentioned as being a lord of his own estates, but we never really get to see how much land he owns until the end of the book, and it seems like quite a bit.
  • Key to My Heart -- It seems that both Minerva and Colin are the 'meant for each other' type, and even Minerva helps Colin get over the repercussions from his dark, tragic past.
  • Love (Free Space)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

24in48 Jan. 2017 Readathon: Hour Thirty-Seven Update

A little over half a day left...

Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

Between distractions and passing out for a few hours, I didn't get as much reading done as I'd hoped.  But that's what happens, I suppose...  I probably won't be finishing any other books this weekend, but I am still hoping to either finish, or get close to finishing, Spider's Bite.

I was going to post an update at, or around, Hour 24, but since I hadn't exactly read anything more, I decided just to leave it be and post something at noon

At this point, I've listened to 8 hours of audio book; I have read 199 pages of book over 5 hours.  I have only finished one book so far--Fear for Me by Cynthia Eden (See: Hour Seventeen Update).

That is a total of 13 hours of reading achieved.  While that a little more than half, it's still not the number of hours I'd hoped to hit this weekend.  Then again, the last time I participated in 24in48 in July 2016, I only managed to clock 15 hours of reading.

Currently Reading

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep | 395 pages

I'm still working on Spider's Bite and am actually intent on finishing up this book before any other book.  This weekend, my goal is Spider's Bite!

Currently, I've read up to page 261; totaling 199 pages read over 5 hours (approx.), which means I've got 134 pages left to finish...  With any hope, that's an approximate one and a half to two more hours of reading.  Since I'd gotten so distracted during the night and the morning, that 5 hours of reading is a very rough estimation, but I'm not really splitting hairs or anything.

Still To Finish

The Search by Nora Roberts | 497 pages

Pre-thon, I had read up to 144 pages, so we've still got a little over 300 pages to go.

I had hoped to at least get some of this book read before the end of the thon, but I'm not sure it'll happen.  I suppose I COULD read a couple chapters and include it into my thon stats, but as I'd stated above, Spider's Bite is my priority this weekend.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

24in48 Jan. 2017 Readathon: Hour Seventeen Update

A little over half a day gone...

Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

I finished listening to Fear for Me by about noon today, and probably would have published an update, but it seems like it was easier just to crawl into bed and try to get some sleep.  I spent approximately 8 hours on finishing up this book while I multi-tasked or played some online games.  It was mighty relaxing.

In the middle of it all, I passed out for about 2 hours sometime during the night.  Then I recall getting up sometime in the morning, being too restless to get back to sleep, making a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with some bacon and mayo and extra cheese (YUM!), and then getting back to the book.

All-in-all, it was already a pretty fulfilling morning.

As Fear for Me was listened to as an audio book, I'm not counting pages.  So in the course of updates, I will just mention that I listened to 8 hours of book so far.  Which means I've got another 16 hours to go to reach the 24 hour mark.

Books Read

Fear for Me by Cynthia Eden | 11 hours and 44 minutes
audio book narrated by Emily Beresford

As I'd already stated above, I spent about 8 hours finishing up this book amidst some sleeping and eating and general piddling around.  This is actually a lot more progress than I'd expected, but the time was relaxing, and I feel like it was well spent.

I will have a series review out for the three For Me books when I finish the last book, Scream for Me.

Currently Reading

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep | 395 pages

I'm still working on Spider's Bite and am actually intent on finishing up this book before any other book.  This weekend, my goal is Spider's Bite!

Currently, I've read up to 62 pages pre-thon, which means I've got 333 pages left to finish... which should be approximately 6 hours worth of reading.  I think.  I used to be able to finish reading a ~300 page book within 6 or 7 hours.

The Search by Nora Roberts | 497 pages

Pre-thon, I've read up to 144 pages, so we've still got a little over 300 pages to go.  This book is actually quite interesting, with bonus points for adorable doggies in the content.  Hopefully I will be able to finish this book as well after finishing Spider's Bite.

That will add another 6 hours (or so) onto my reading time this weekend and bring up past the 24 hour mark.  I hope.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Read-a-thon: 24in48 January 2017 Starts Now!

At least for me it starts right now.

Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.
- Hour Zero Post (link coming soon)

I'm early by an hour, but I'm in a big reading mood tonight... well, if I can wrench myself from my computer for a while.  But 24in48 begins, I've got snacks and drinks and wine and chocolate, and I've got a couple reading nooks to choose from for the next 48 hours.  I'm even considering a nice outdoor reading session with a nice lunch when the afternoon rolls around.

In the meantime, my tentatively planned reading for this weekend has taken a bit of a change.  I didn't finish certain books I'd been hoping to finish before the weekend, and so I had to make some rearrangements of my reading schedule.

For now, the books I am currently reading include:


I am really getting into Spider's Bite as well as The Search.  Fear for Me is a nice distraction while I'm trying to multitask, but truth be told, the For Me series, so far is certainly not Cynthia Eden's best work, suspenseful and spine-chilling as the book has been so far.

I'm hoping to be able to finish Spider's Bite this weekend, and maybe get a little further into The Search.

What I really, really hope to be able to do is start reading one of the following books.  Although, at this point, I haven't quite decided which one I want to start yet.

And then on top of that, I've been distracted, so there's even the question of whether or not I will finish enough of my other books to reasonably start a new book without feeling guilty about it...  Right?

What's everyone else reading this weekend?

Bit of Rant: Run from Fear

Run from Fear

by Jami Alden
Book 3 of Dead Wrong series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

With each step she takes, he tracks her every move, waiting for the perfect time.  The perfect revenge.  Until then, he'll watch her...


More than anything, Talia Vega wanted to leave behind her harrowing past.  Moving eight hundred miles away, she succeeded . . . until the one man who knows her darkest secrets wanders into the restaurant where she works.  Now the agonizing memories come crashing back-along with an undeniable desire for Jack Brooks, the ex-Green Beret who rescued her from a sadistic monster two years ago.

Jack Brooks knows that showing up unannounced is a purely selfish move.  Talia doesn't need his protection anymore, but he can't get the raven-haired beauty out of his mind.  And when a twisted madman is hell-bent on resurrecting her torturous past, Jack vows to do anything to keep her safe-even risk his own life to save the only woman he's ever loved.

Run from Fear wasn't the worst book in the world, but it was definitely a lot less enjoyable for me than the first two books in this series... and that may or may not be a good thing depending on what you take away from my opinions of the first two Dead Wrong books.

The heroine in this third book, Talia Vega, had shown a penchant for TSTL-ism in the previous book, Hide from Evil.  Her need to keep everything a secret to keep everyone safe was already grating on my nerves, because NOT saying anything and NOT testifying against the bad guy... or even keeping the bad guy's name a secret seemed to have been doing more harm to everyone than keeping them safe.

So, to be honest, I wasn't expecting much from her in this third book.  But then we start everything off with Talia being a very changed woman--she's learning to defend herself, she's become super vigilant with her security... although I really think that was all she had going for her, because not soon after that, she ends up showing us how wishy-washy, ungrateful, and manipulative she can be.

I understand that Talia was supposed to come out looking like she just wasn't sure of herself, unable to trust other people, didn't know how to lead a normal life, etc., etc....  But the entire "woe is me' thing dragged on for so long that it started feeling tiresome for me.  And her constant hot-cold behavior with Jack made it all the more frustrating.  Because while there were definitely a lot of things Jack did that crossed several lines, it wasn't as if she made it easy for him to take the direct approach and NOT keep certain secrets from her.  I'm not excusing Jack's behavior, because coming from a different man, not as well-intentioned as him, we would call it stalking.

But when you've always got a woman who is obsessing over the fact that nobody will ever find her attractive again, or that there's no one in the world she can trust, or that she can't just have normal friends, and harping on about the unfairness of it all...  and then she turns around and pushes away everyone who tries to be her friend; and then also practically accuses Jack, not once, but several times, of being nice to her and protecting her just so he could get into her pants...  I'm not entirely sure how to digest this constant back and forth.

"Why doesn't Jack find me attractive?  I'm only an obligation to him because he feels like he couldn't protect me last time.  He's not interested in me at all and that makes me upset."  And then, as quick as the very next page, "He's obviously doing all this for me so he can collect some sexual payment later.  Everyone wants something in return for being nice and helping me.  He's only interested in getting in my pants."

This dragged on for 70% of the book, and then you can even see her practically looking for reasons to sabotage her relationship with Jack, even after they DO start getting closer.

And all the guy wanted to do was protect her.  Which was really hard to do considering how much he had to tip toe on eggshells around her all the time.  She twisted his meaning and his words at least 80% of the time they were together, and then even insulted him by comparing him to a psychotic criminal, even after everything he did to help her.

Then, on top of that, just because she was pissed at him, she pretty much ignored all of his warnings to keep herself safe and secure.  There was an exchange in the book where Jack practically shoves that point in her face:  "I know you're mad at me about what happened, but don't put yourself at risk just because you're pissed."  In which the next sentence she snaps back with, "Don't try to make me sound stupid."

Talia, honey... you do a damn good job of making yourself sound stupid, all on your own.

I found it a little hard to believe that someone as paranoid about safety as Talia wouldn't have taken any kind of possible threat to her life, or even her sister's life, seriously, if she hadn't been so caught up in her righteous anger towards Jack.  But then again, even at the beginning of the book, she had her moments of righteous anger directed toward Jack because he tried to beef up the security at her house, despite being paranoid that someone was still out there ready to get her.

So I'm not sure anymore...

Anyway, the premise of the book wasn't entirely bad.  I just found myself continuously frustrated with the characters.  Talia was frustrating, and even as great a guy as Jack was, he was also frustrating.  His co-workers at Gemini were kind of silent in the background, but Danny came off like an asshole for several chapters.  Even Rosario got frustrating, watching her continuously breaking up with, and getting back together with a guy who's kind of a douchebag... despite the fact that she keeps breaking up with him BECAUSE he's a douchebag.

All-in-all, this book could have been better.


I will be using this book for Romance Bingo 2017.

Squares that this book will fit include:
  • Too Stupid To Live - Explanations in my review above; but basically, this is the story of a woman who's pride kind of gets in the way of her and her sister's safety.  Talia had already shown a penchant for being frustratingly illogical in the second book of this series.  I had a feeling that would carry over. 
  • Love is Murder - Romantic suspense with murder and danger. 
  • Secret Billionaire - Actually, our hero guesstimates his worth around a million to half a million, but who's splitting hairs?  It's not important to this story's plot anyway... 
  • Interracial Couple - Talia Vega, based on her name and descriptions of her, I assume, is Hispanic, but it is never actually stated.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rambling Rant: Forgotten Sins

Forgotten Sins

by Rebecca Zanetti
audio book narrated by Karen White
Book 1 of Sin Brothers

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.0 Stars

From the moment Josie laid eyes on sexy, mysterious Shane Dean, she was in love.  Their desire ignited a passionate affair, and within weeks, Shane had slipped a ring on her finger.  It seemed her every fantasy was coming true . . . until her new husband disappeared without a trace.  Now, two years and one broken heart later, Josie is shocked when the hospital calls: Shane has been found . . . at a crime scene with no memory of how he got there.

Her Love Can Save Him
Shane can't remember the blue-eyed angel at his bedside-or who he even is-but he knows something isn't right.  His hearing is razor sharp, his physical strength incredible, and the urge to protect Josie overwhelming.  For powerful enemies are hunting him, and Josie is the key to discovering why.  As Shane struggles to unravel his past, dangerous new truths come to light.  Can he protect the only woman he's ever loved?  And can Josie trust a man she thought she knew-one who carries such a deadly secret?

This book pisses me off.  Not even the sex scenes could save the day--in fact, it was really the sex scenes that pissed me off.  Call me a bra burning feminist if you want, but relationships should NOT be like that!

I mean, I may not have any experience with relationships, but if your estranged husband of two months, shows up from being AWOL for two years, and suddenly has a whole bunch of dangerous secrets revealed about him--i.e. stalking you before, during, and after your brief marriage--I'm not sure that's sexy enough to fall right back into bed with him.  Or I guess, in Josie's case, her office desk.  Because sneaking into your office without your knowledge and lying in wait to pounce on you is super romantic...

Especially right after learning that your estranged husband is probably some sort of stalker/killer!

I don't care that Shane obviously one of the good guys, and that he probably had good intentions for stalking keeping tabs on Josie during their two year separation.  Josie doesn't know that.  And when she kneed him in the groin, kicked him in the head, and ran off, I was actually quite proud of her.  Then two chapters later, Shane is all, "I don't remember a damn thing, but I obviously had good reasons for keeping an eye on you, because I love you.  Let's fuck."  And Josie is like, "I really shouldn't because I don't really know who you are anymore.  But okay.  Here's my office desk."

This man's actions are NOT socially acceptable.  And Josie's reactions to his actions are definitely filed under a nice little TSTL package.  With ribbons on top.

This dysfunctional relationship also likes to employ the "You know you want it.  You know you need it," line from our wonderful hero when the heroine distinctly says, "Don't touch me.  I'm not having sex with you!  It's not gonna happen!"  And apparently those two sentences, "You want it.  You need it," are so freaking seductive that Josie's clothes fall off immediately.  Of course, there is a little forced groping involved that made me cringe...

Excuse me while I process that...

To be honest, this book has an extremely intriguing premise.  Unfortunately, the interesting stuff in this book constantly gets rained on by the erotica, and the romance-not-romance, and the sex, and the whole damsel-in-distress and broody alpha hero angst.  I kept asking myself why I continued to listen to this audio book (aside from the fact that I AM a fan of Karen White).  And really, the only thing that came to mind was that I was curious about the mystery surrounding Shane's memory loss, and his and his brothers' back story.

But there were some times when even the need to know how the mystery resolves itself wasn't enough for me to want to continue.

This audio book is eleven hours long.  To tell you the truth, that is maybe five hours too long.  A lot of plot could have been cut out of this book.

One of my favorite movies is The Bourne Identity, and for a moment I had been getting that vibe--what with the super soldier and memory loss thing going on.  But I feel like the entire memory loss and "Oh, where did that skill come from?  How do I know how to do that?  I must be a super killer or something!" plot went on for way too long.  The readers already know that Shane is a super soldier of some sort, even if he doesn't.  Constantly bringing up these little scenes where Shane discovers another interesting skill and awes over it does the book no favors.  Halfway through the book, I just wanted an exposition fairy or something to jump out and tell him what the readers already know so we could move on with the story.

Instead, the first half of the book dragged on with the whole romantic angst surrounding Josie and Shane, with Josie constantly going back and forth with the, "I need to move on with my life without him... oh, but I still want to sleep with him because he's so dangerous he's sexy" thing.  Even though he was stalking her... and being super pushy... and gropes her without her consent... and orders her around like she's some weakling servant... and gets rage-y with her whenever she says something he doesn't like... and kidnaps her... and pretty much manipulates her into thinking that she DOES indeed want to have sex with him...  The list could go on.

Because all Shane really has to do is breath or give her some sort of smoldering look and she drops her panties.

Goodness, have some self-respect, woman!

I could go on about how much of a neanderthal Shane is: he's pushy, he's demanding, he's commanding... he uses threats on Josie to make her do exactly what he wants almost every other chapter, and uses the whole "This is for your own good/safety" as his excuse.  Instead of confiding in her as an equal and telling her why he needs her to follow his instructions, he just barrels into her with more threats that sound very borderline like threats of forcing sex on her until she complies with what he wants her to do.  He keeps secrets from her that could affect her life, and then expects her to just follow his lead without questions.

And what does Josie do?  Nothing.  She lets him walk all over her.  And you know what pisses me off the most about Josie's doormat personality?  The fact that we get repetitive declarations in her monologue about how well she's able to handle herself, and that she's not weak or fragile, or that she's already learned how to be strong and street smart after years and years of navigating the foster care system, and needing to know how to take care of herself, all by herself.  But Josie's repertoire of actions include either crying and doing nothing, screaming and doing nothing, simmering in anger and doing nothing... it goes on a repeat cycle, each and every time she gets kidnapped.  And she gets kidnapped almost every other chapter--at least one of those times by her own husband who claims he doesn't want to hurt her!


Meanwhile...  I'm surprised to say that I'm intrigued enough with the background plot of Sin Brothers to consider continuing on with this series.  I would love to know how everything ends for our four super soldiers.  And, truth be told, I DID like Matt and Nathan and Detective Malloy.  I'm interested in the truth behind Jory's supposed death.  And then there's Nathan's history with a woman named Audrey who betrayed him, but there seems to be more to the story than that.

If ever an author knew how to hook a reader, Zanetti would probably be the one.

But I'm also not entirely sure if I want to subject myself to that kind of frustration for three more books, if the romances in each one will play along the same kind of presentation as this one.  Because I don't hate myself enough to subject myself to that kind of frustration.

(Especially with 2017 being the year of being more laid back and enjoying myself with reading.  DNF triggers to be loaded and all...)

On a side note, there were also some obvious logic holes, such as super soldier Shane letting a common layperson with a gun get the drop on him--probably so that Josie could get kidnapped for the umpteenth time in the story.  To be honest, that particular story arc seemed super redundant when all was said and done.


I will be using this book for one of my Romance Bingo 2017 squares.  I have not decided which one yet, but more than likely it will be either the Second Chances square or the Too Stupid To Live square... although I already had a book chosen for TSTL, I'm sure I can adapt.

Other squares this book may count for:
  • Insta-love -- While this book also showcases a second chance romance, the brief history we get of Josie and Shane's love story is definitely one of insta-love.  The two meet and within the time span of a couple months, they fall in love and get married and can't live without one another.  Feels pretty insta to me.
  • Love is Murder -- Romantic suspense with lots of danger and death.
  • Rogue -- I don't know if a contemporary can count for this square, but our main hero is definitely playing outside the lines of legal on so many levels.
  • Love (Free Space)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Collective Reading Updates for Spider's Bite

Spider's Bite

by Jennifer Estep
Book 1 of Elemental Assassin

~ Goodreads ~

The most recent updates will be added to the top of each re-posting.
Review for Spider's Bite | link coming soon

Progress on 1/14/2017:  9 of 395 pages (2%)

Five minutes later... first chapter read...

Wow.  That first chapter was certainly a bloody start to an intriguing premise.

I'm sensing a Robin Hood-esque twist to this book, or something of the like.  Y'know--an assassin with morals... or a killer with a code of ethics.  It'll be interesting to see what kind of a person Gin turns out to be.

Progress on 1/14/2017:  Just starting--none read

So far, I've been wavering on what squares of Romance Bingo 2017 to use each book I've read for.  But I definitely will be reading Spider's Bite for the 'Urban Fantasy' square.  And this book doubles as part of my Reading Assignment Challenge as well! =D

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ani's 2017 Personal Series Challenge Goals

My biggest reading goals each year are pretty straight forward:
  1. Whittle down my TBR--an ongoing goal that will probably never be finished due to the number of books I continue to add to my TBR on a constant basis.
  2. Read more of the books I already own--this goal is being challenged via the Mt. TBR Challenge that I've been participating in since two years prior.
  3. Finish reading series I've already started--this goal is overwhelmingly immense and I'm forever looking for reading series challenges that would help me complete this goal.

In light of the fact that I'm actually trying to be more laid back about my bookish challenges this year, I didn't want to officially participate in anything that required a lot of linking up or making updates.  So, taking a page from a series challenge I attempted a little over two years ago, as well as my Reading Goals from 2016's Bookish Resolution chaos, I've decided to create some tentative personal goals for myself, and try to see them through for the rest of 2017.

If this personal challenge works out, I may continue to use it as a format for future series challenges, just to get those series I've already started reading completed and knocked off of my list.

I recently went through my Series spreadsheet (yes, I have one of those), and cleaned out series that I have a pretty good certainty I will not be finishing, for various reasons.  Meanwhile, I also tried my best to update my list to reflect my current state of 'Series Being Read' to see what my status was.  Between all the series I'm currently reading, all the series I haven't gotten around to finishing, and some series that I haven't quite decided whether I'm giving up on or not... I still number a little under 100 series that need to be... dealt with.

I suppose this is better than where I was last year--last year, I believe I expressed that I had a little over 100 series to complete.

Anyway... enough talk.  Basically, I need to get disciplined.  So the following tentative listing will reflect what I am trying to accomplish in 2017, series-wise...  And yes, this list not only includes series I need to finish, but also series that I will start new and hopefully read all available books out in 2017.  Because I know I'm going to start new series anyway, so may as well include them in the challenge, no?

I'm going to list a few tentative series for each goal, but for organization's sake, I'm going to be keeping track of this particular goal at a main page that I will link to in the near future when I get around to creating it.

Edit (2/19/2017):  Ani's 2017 Personal Series Challenge Page

Goal #1:
Finish 10 Completed Series, already started

Whether there is only one book left, or two, or three, or seven, this goal should get me motivated to pick up series I need to finish, that are already completed.  A few of these include:
  1. Wildwood by Juliet Marillier | 1 read / 2 total // 1 left
  2. San Francisco by Lisa Jackson | 1 read / 2 total // 1 left
  3. The Arkwell Academy by Mindee Arnett | 2 read / 3 total // 1 left
  4. Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis | 5 read / 12 total // 7 left
  5. The Others by Anne Bishop | 2 read / 5 total // 3 left
  6. Lucy Valentine by Heather Webber | 2 read / 5 total // 3 left
This is just a tentative list, but for sure, I will be reading and finishing the first three series listed, as they are also part of my 2017 Reading Assignment Challenge.  The Others will be completed in March of this year, and I'm hoping to finish the series at least by mid-year.

Lucky Harbor is the only series I'm not certain I will be able to finish, but it is really one of my main goals this year.

Some other series I wish to finish, either this year or next, are For Me by Cynthia Eden, Steele Street by Tara Janzen, Aftershock by Jill Sorenson, and The Malediction trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen.

Goal #2:
Catch Up With 5 Ongoing Series, already started

Apparently I'm a sucker for ongoing series, especially the Romantic Suspense or Contemporary Romance, or now even the Historical Romance persuasion.  Thus, I have plenty of books in this category to finish... but it's more a matter of if I can keep up with this goal, because I really bombed it in 2016.

A few of these include:
  1. Tracers by Laura Griffin | 10 read / 11 total // 1 left
  2. X-Ops by Paige Tyler | 2 read / 6 total // 4 left
  3. Harmony/Ghost Hunters by Jayne Castle | 5 read / 13 total // 8 left
  4. Arcane Society by Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz | 4 read / 12 total // 8 left
  5. The Associates by Carolyn Crane | 2 read / 4 total // 2 left
Again, this is a tentative list and may end up with some changes as the year progresses, but as of now, the two series I definitely want to catch up with are Harmony and Arcane Society.  Tracers might be a bit of a cheat series since I devour each book as it is published anyway, and so it's possible I'll swap it out for a different series just to be fair (in my own twisted, mad mindset).

Three alternate series I can use for this goal include: Moreno & Hart by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin; SWAT by Paige Tyler; Nikki Heat by Richard Castle.

Goal #3:
Read/Catch Up With 10 Series, new to me

As I'd already stated, I'm going to start new series no matter how hard I try to curb my temptations.  So if that's the case, I might as well include them in this personal challenge.  At the least, I can keep tabs on them and motivate myself to finish the completed ones or catch up with the ongoing ones so I'm a little more on track to continue this challenge in 2018.

Some of my picks include:
  1. Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare
  2. Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare
  3. Quinn/Thief by Kay Hooper
  4. Black Magicians trilogy by Trudi Canavan
  5. Mordecai Young by Maggie Shayne
  6. Heartbreaker Bay by Jill Shalvis
  7. The House of Steele by Addison Fox
Actually, this goal started off as two different goals (one for completed series, one for ongoing series), but I decided to combine them as it is hard for me to determine whether certain series are completed or not.  Then I had a higher number of series to finish as my goal, but decided to take it easy on myself and just enjoy having a >100% completion rate if I manage to read more than 10 series.

I'm trying to be more laid back this year, after all.

As of the publishing of this post, I have already read 1 book in the Spindle Cove series.

Some of my alternate choices include: ICE: Black Ops Defenders by Melissa Cutler; Tremaine Traditions by Kylie Brant; Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier; Predator trilogy by Allison Brennan; Blackthorn & Grim by Juliet Marillier; River Pack Wolves by Alisa Woods; Stop the Wedding by Lori Wilde... and many, many, many more.

I am currently listening to the audio book of Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti, the first book of the Sin Brothers series, wherein there are only four books, and I'm quite certain the series is completed.  This series may or may not end up filed into this goal.

Goal #4:
Read 10 First-in-a-series books

If I'm bad about reading more, new to me series than I need to, I'm even worse about starting series and then letting them sit.  Let's throw those into the goal pile as well.  There will always be those series I read in which I'm not sure whether or not I want to continue with the next book.  If I happen to read another one or two books for the series, but not finish the series, then at least I have a place to document my progress, I guess...
  1. Overruled by Emma Chase | The Legal Briefs series
  2. Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis | Cedar Ridge series
  3. Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep | Elemental Assassins series
  4. Bringing Down Sam by Leslie Kelly | Temptation in the City series
  5. Two Guys Detective Agency by Stephanie Bond | Two Guys Detective Agency series
  6. The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber | Lawyers in Love series
  7. Sweet Bea by Sarah Hegger | Sir Arthur's Legacy series

The above listed books will be read this year because they are on my Reading Assignment Challenge list.  Overruled, as of the posting of this piece, has already been read--since I don't know if I'm going to continue the series, the book goes here in this category.  Other '1sts' I'd like to read include: Maiden Lane #1: Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt; Lady Darby #1: The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Huber; Waverly Place #1: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen; Hudson Valley #1: Nuts by Alice Clayton; K-9 Rescue #1: Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayres; LOST #1: Broken by Cynthia Eden; Shadow Agents #1: Alpha One by Cynthia Eden... and then some.


Yeah, this is going to be a pretty hefty challenge.  But it's a personal challenge, and while I'm keeping myself accountable for most of these series, to be honest, I'm not really going to push myself.  I'm thinking about this as a guideline, and what I don't manage to finish this year, I will just roll over into the next year.  Right?