Monday, April 23, 2018

Series Thoughts: Whispering Springs

Whispering Springs

by Jayne Ann Krentz
Book 1:  Light in Shadow | Goodreads | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book 2:  Truth or Dare | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars

Average Rating:  3.5 Stars

I can't help wondering whether this duology would have been better off as one long, two-part novel... but then I'm not sure all the story tangents going on in the second book, Truth or Dare, would have been handled any better.  Both books were great, in their own, JAK-style way, but that second book just kind of seemed a bit excessive.

While Light and Shadow gave us a straight-forward, fast-paced rundown of events and mystery and romance, I feel like Truth or Dare was the "I've got more ideas for these characters and am trying to cram everything into this last book" type of mish-mash.  While all of the story tangents were significant in their own way, I couldn't help but feel like I was reading a series of short stories, unconnected with the main story conflict, but that all took place around the same time, so let's just throw it all together into one big book!


While I always have a hard time recalling the characters and the events from most JAK books, there's always enjoyment had, and I always know I walk away from them feeling satisfied, and well entertained.  This is why I keep going back to Jayne Ann Krentz, as well as her other two pseudonyms, Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle.

As per usual, the characters in the Whispering Springs duo were great characters, with their own uniqueness, and a charming quality about them that just made them easy to relate with, and very easy to love.  The addition of some personality flaws doesn't hurt either, and we have all of that.

The conflict and mystery in both were interesting enough.

All-in-all, this was a nice reading experience--something to occupy yourself with on a rainy afternoon.  I just really wish that second book hadn't been so... well, chaotic.

Zoe Luce is a successful interior designer in the Arizona town of Whispering Springs who's developed an unusual career specialty--helping recently divorced clients redesign their homes, to help them forget the past and start anew.  But Zoe knows that some things can't be covered up with a coat of paint.  And when she senses that one of her clients may be hiding a dark secret, she enlists P.I. Ethan Truax to find the truth.

Working together, they solve the mystery . . . and barely escape with their lives.  But Ethan's exquisite detection skills are starting to backfire on Zoe: she never wanted to let him find out about her former life; she never wanted to reveal her powerful, inexplicable gift for sensing the history hidden within a house's walls; she never wanted him to know that "Zoe Luce" doesn't really exist.  She never wanted to fall in love with him.

Now, no matter how much she resists, Ethan may be her only hope--because the people she's been running from have found her.  And just when Zoe dares to dream of a normal life and a future with the man she loves, her own past starts to shadow her every step--and threatens to take her back into a nightmare.

Upscale interior designer Zoe Luce has found peace and contentment in Whispering Springs, Arizona.  She has a thriving business, and she's settling into newlywed life with private investigator Ethan Truax.  The threat that brought Zoe and Ethan together is finally over, ancient history, or so Zoe believes.  Very few people know of her uncanny ability to sense the dark secrets hidden within the walls of a house, and she wants to keep it that way, even from Ethan.

But someone is stalking Zoe--someone who knows all about her, and who shadows her every move.  Is it the same person who is threatening her closest friend, Arcadia Ames, the only other person in Whispering Springs who knows the truth about Zoe?  Or are Zoe and Arcadia getting tangled in a web spun by someone more dangerous than they could ever have imagined?

As a private investigator, Ethan is paid to find the truth, yet he has secrets of his own that are better left buried.  He can't let the threats to Zoe go unchallenged, although he fears that the truth may be a bigger burden than their still-fragile relationship can handle.  And Ethan isn't alone with his fears: instead of setting her free, Zoe dreads that the truth will only imprison her once more within the darkest nightmares, this time with no escapes in sight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Reading Assignment Challenge -- First Quarterly Report Card

hosted by
Michelle and Berls @ Because Reading

January ramblings:  January was a great start to the year.  Books read, books read, books read.  Looks like things are looking up, even as a reading slump is still kind of threatening.

February ramblings:  February started getting rocky, but one of the first books I read in the month was a Reading Assignment book, so at least I got that out of the way.  Then I started losing focus.  I guess sometimes you just need a break, even from the thing you love to do most.

March ramblings:  I think I'm lucky I even finished a book in March.  But I did--I finished four books, and one of them was a Reading Assignment book.  That is all.

First Quarter:
My Grade:  I Made an A!

First Quarterly Report Card link up

A Summary

I think I'm lucky that I even managed to finish a book the last month of this Quarter.  I just lost all motivation to read.  Well, I wouldn't put it that way, because I DID read.  Just not as much as I normally do on a monthly basis.  I mean, I read four books in the month of March--my usual average is 10 to 14.  That's a pretty big difference.

But I made it, and I'm actually kind of enjoying the laid back, relaxed stance I'm taking this year.  One book a month at least gives me something to read, but doesn't make me feel obligated to finish one book so that I may get into the next.

A Forecast

The last three books in this first semester are as follows, and I'm thinking of assigning them to specific months as well... just haven't decided yet... so maybe not really assigning them.  Of course, as of the posting of this update, I've already read Blood Surfer for the month of April, so the other two books will get read... when they get read... in May and June.

Thoughts: Pretty Girls Dancing

Pretty Girls Dancing

by Kylie Brant

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead.  The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure.  But now another teenage girl has gone missing.  It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity.  That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for.  Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself.  Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

I'm going to admit that it was probably my fault for going into this book expecting the typical Kylie Brant romantic suspense, and not getting what I expected.  This is definitely not what I'm used to with Kylie Brant, but since she'd primarily been a romance author, I hadn't thought twice about purchasing and reading Pretty Girls Dancing.

But as the book began, switching from one character's perspective to another, and introducing very un-romance novel-like characters, I started getting a little... well, I guess wary might be a good way to put it.  So I went to check the Goodreads book page, and realized that this book was never advertised as a romantic suspense--that was just my own wishful thinking.

On that note, after readjusting my own reading perspective, I found myself delving deeper into the book and becoming curious as to how everything would come together in the end.  In a way, the writing was still very Kylie Brant, even if the characters weren't.  It's not that I'm unaccustomed to reading books with a lot of flawed characters, all flawed to the point that I just cannot relate to any of them--I just prefer not to read those books.

And Pretty Girls Dancing is your typical crime thriller, based on a serial murder, but that ends up being more about digging up all the dark secrets among all the people affected.  These characters are all so flawed and so unlikable that I had a hard time trying to figure out how I felt about them.  Of course, that effectively made me focus more on the serial murder investigation, which had started to become more intriguing as new leads turned up, and even when the young teenage Janie Willard decided to try her hand at amateur detecting.

And then I found myself wanting more of Janie Willard--a young girl who has lost her elder sister, who has a social anxiety that makes it hard for her to interact with people, but who is trying her best to move forward while taking care of her equally shattered parents during the past seven years that her sister was taken.  I found myself wanting a Janie Willard story where she finds her niche in investigation.  I liked her the most of all the characters in this book, because to be honest, she was probably the most honest and good character.

Kylie Brant wrote a great crime thriller, I will admit that.  And even the lack of my own favored romance to go with it, the book was entertaining to a point.

My biggest quibble about this book, is surprisingly not about the characters.  I feel like the characters were pretty real, even if I couldn't find myself relating with them.  My biggest quibble is actually about the resolution and ending and how abruptly the case gets solved with a simple light bulb moment by our BCI agent.  And the truth is, it seemed kind of left field and I'm not entirely sure how we got to that point.  It makes sense, when we get there.  I just don't know HOW we came up with the conclusion.

Another small quibble would be the amount of story you get, and the number of secrets revealed... but that very few of them had to do with the main conflict--they just happened to be dark secrets (which truthfully weren't that dark, really) dug up during investigation.

It kind of leaves the book a slight bit unsatisfying, truth be told.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- March 2018

This is probably the slowest reading month I've had since I started vigorously tracking my reading progress using various spreadsheets.  That would have been back in 2014 when I started listing more than just what I read each month.  I think the lowest number of books read in a month since 2014 was 6 books.  Of course, before 2014, I was still not quite tracking or reading as much, and had months where I went without reading at all--that was back in 2012.

Before 2012 were my "in college" or "just got out of college" years wherein I maybe read one book a month, four books a month, or no books for months.

I wonder if this year will prove to be so slow I'll have to drop my reading challenge goal back down below 100 books...  O.O

Though at this time, about a week into April, I've already managed to finish reading three books, so maybe this will be a better month than March.  Maybe...

March Reads

Books Dropped/Put On Hold

None this month!  Yay!

Currently Reading

March Reading Stats

Total works read:  3
  • 3 print/e-book novels

Average rating: 3.33 Stars
  • Highest Rated:  Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz // 4.0 Stars
  • Lowest Rated:  Dangerous Deception by Kylie Brant // 2.5 Stars

Series I started reading:
  • None
Series I completed:
  • Tremaine Traditions by Kylie Brant
  • Whispering Springs by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series I have made progress on:
  • None

Favorite reads:  This isn't a hard pick since I only read three books in March.  Obviously Light in Shadow was the more enjoyable of the books I read, but probably only because I always seem to enjoy books by Jayne Ann Krentz, and I read very little of anything else.

Disappointing reads:  Kylie Brant was always a personal favorite because her Mindhunters books were some of the first few romantic suspense novels I'd read years ago when I first stumbled upon the genre.  Unfortunately, the tail end of her Tremaine Traditions romantic suspense series was a bit lackluster, so the last book, Dangerous Deception ended up being the lowest rated book for March.  However, it's not like I had much to go on with my slow month anyway.

Reviews & Notable Posts

Reviews Written


  • Did not Meme this month!

Other Posts

  • None

Coming Up In April

Tentative TBR

Other Stuff

In keeping with my Author Love challenge, I'm proposing three more Jayne Ann Krentz books to read for the month of April.  Hopefully I'll be able to get through those since it's JAK and her books have always proven fast-paced, exciting, and easy to get into.

Meanwhile, I will be doing my best to find some time to finish listening to Jill Shalvis's last Animal Magnetism book, which I put off for some time in favor of mindless and wonderful sing-a-long music.  But we will definitely get around to finishing that book.

I would also like to start in on some Juliette Marillier work, of which I've already decided to go the Sevenwaters direction, although I would also love to immerse myself in her most recent young adult high fantasy of the "Oh my god, those covers are so beautiful!" variety.

2018 Wrap-Ups 

Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups (2016 / 2017)
See Also: 2015 Reading Wrap-Up posts (scroll to bottom of page)

(updated as year progresses by month)
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December