Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: 2014-november-posts
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-11-30 10:58
Brief Thoughts: Proxy
Proxy (Harperteen Impulse) - Mindee Arnett

Proxy is the prequel novella to the Avalon series (the first book of which I just checked out from the library).  I enjoyed Mindee Arnett's The Nightmare Affair and so was curious about this fairly different genre she's attempting.  I've never been a big fan of sci-fi nor the space opera/futuristic types of story lines (though admittedly I have enjoyed such television series as Star Trek and Firefly, or Cowboy Bebop).


The novella details one of the missions Jeth and his crew are sent on by his employer, a large criminal syndicate owned by a man named Hammer.  In order to make enough money to retrieve his family's ship and home, Avalon, Jeth has no choice but to do Hammer's bidding.


The crew is stealing a precious ruby from the Grakkus empire, and it seems that this job is just easy pie until someone on Jeth's crew betrays them.



I'm going to say that this is the first time I've read a space opera story.  Watching television series and movies and anime series seems fairly different as the action in futuristic space settings translate better to me in visual media.


Nonetheless, this novella was quite enjoyable after I got through the initial few chapters of set-up and semi-world building.  I can't say that it was the most exciting thing I've ever read, and the characters seem quite flat and not quite so stimulating.  Everything passed by in mediocrity, though for a novella I'll give it leeway.  With comparisons of this story line and the characters to that of Firefly, I may have begun to create some biases, as Firefly was an exciting, complex series with well-developed, complicated characters and an extremely entertaining story line.  Not to mention the actors brought everything to life.


Going into Avalon, I'm hoping that things can move upwards of the mediocre enjoyable-ness factor.  After all, there's potential in a story such as this, and I'll try not to make too many comparisons to Firefly as I read it.  With more room to work with, hopefully an entire book will do well to bring the characters to life and deliver an exciting story to boot.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-11-30 05:27
Thoughts: In the Afterlight
In the Afterlight - Alexandra Bracken

Admittedly, the conclusion of The Darkest Minds trilogy was pretty exciting.


While The Darkest Minds was never the best series or dystopian to hit the YA trends, it had the fortune of including elements that hit the right marks for me, personally. While there wasn't much ado about the concept or the story, or even the probability of a dystopian world unfurling in the manner of which the world in The Darkest Minds had done so, I still managed to love it.

Despite the fact that these weren't the best characters in the world, they somehow grow on you and you find yourself falling for each and every one of them before the end of the books come around. We were introduced to Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu in the first book--a ragtag group of young, innocent teens with the misfortune of being forced into tragic circumstances as they run for their lives and dream about ways to right the wrongs committed in their world so they can have a better future, and try to survive day by day. The second book reintroduced the characters you fell in love with along with few others.  But by now, a more realistic sense of "Action must be taken" has overcome most of our characters, and the dream for a better future is no longer just dream but an ambition.  In the new fights, new friendships form and old friendships are reforged.


I personally loved watching the friendships wind and knit so tightly together that you'd have to use force to pry them apart. It was heartwarming despite the bleakness of the situation these kids are thrown into in the fictional world of The Darkest Minds.

The ending approaches with pretty much the same action-packed, constantly-in-motion activity that had transpired from Never Fade, spilling the continuation over in the the last book of this series. But this time, it seems like our kids have more of a direction... and yet, at the same time, very little action seems occur and we find ourselves struggling with the constant angst, the constant fear and danger, the constant idle planning and planning and more strategic planning before the ending finally rolls out some action.


Ruby continues to struggle with her powers and the "monster" she believes them to be; in doing so, she continues to hold her friends at arms length, fearful of hurting anyone she loves, but at the same time, she yearns for their warmth and is loathe to part with them.  


Liam's struggle was a little less emphasized, and I'm a bit disappointed that he doesn't get very much book-time in In the Afterlight.  With his brother, Cole, and Ruby trying to take charge as the more powerful Psi kids (and the more dangerous ones) who have had training because of the Children's League, Liam is kind of left in the dust to find some way of feeling useful.


Other conflicts arise as well, and somehow also end up being a bit much to processes.

And yet, I still found it all quite enjoyable. I think it had to do with all the character interaction and all the conflicting, emotional ties being unknotted, and all the secrets and the personal dilemmas finally finding peace with one another. To watch this group of kids get together, fight and make up and continue to remain together, willing to stick by each others' sides despite all the differing views and conflict of interests and secrets... it was pretty nice.

To date, my favorite relationship in the world of The Darkest Minds is still between Chubs and Ruby. I don't know what it is about this pair that brings the FEELS surfacing when they interact. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the romantic coupling of Ruby and Liam; but the friendship and the understanding between Chubs and Ruby just seems to outshine the rest of the relationships around them, whether best-friendship, sibling-love, or even the romantic pairings that occur.


Chubs is the intelligent, level-headed big brother who just gets it, and despite having been hostile to Ruby in the beginning of the series, I love how he's grown to just accepting whatever she does and just knows her well enough to remain by her side even when others suspect her actions.  Of course, he's also great enough to call out her fallacies with hopes that she'll think long and hard about her decisions before making them.


Not to say that the others (Vida and Zu) don't do the same, but there's something powerful about having Chubs on your side that just feels right.  He's like the voice of reason, a protective guardian... and I love him for that.

And now that I've made a whole lot of nonsense sound like more nonsense, I'll just end off this review.

In the Afterlight, as well as the full Darkest Minds series probably doesn't rank high on many people's list of good YA dystopian. Goodness knows I've read better stories with better concepts. But it's written well with some thoughtful quips and discussions and ideals here and there. And most importantly, it's got a heartwarming feel to it presented through the characters and their love for one another through the struggle of a collapsing world around them. The characters aren't the best, but on paper they can be quite complex if given the chance.

Most importantly, I personally grew to love them all and I DID find enjoyment in this book.

Like Reblog Comment
text 2014-11-25 13:01
Top Ten Tuesdays: Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesdays is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  



I've come to learn that a TBR list created in advance doesn't necessarily mean "I shall read these books in a timely manner."  Of course, that doesn't ever keep me from making my lists; I love making lists after all.  I do know for certain that there are several books I plan to get to reading within the months in the Winter season (December through March, I believe) as well as many books I am anticipating the release of and WANT to read upon their release date.


Also, my typical TBR list usually rounds out to approximately 20 books I want to read, plan to read, or am anticipating the release of for each month (my average is reading about 15 books monthly).  Ten is a really hard number for me to work with, to be totally honest, because I've already started listing all the books I'm planning on reading in January (yes, I may have skipped December, but December tends to be a busy month for a lot of other stuff).


In this situation, I will attempt to eliminate as much as I can for the sake of this list.  In fact, the books listed below are just a random pick of the books I most want to get to reading within the next few months.  Of course, there are more; when it comes to books, there are always more.


In no particular order:  My Top Ten Winter TBR List





1.  SEAL of My Dreams -- an anthology of novellas written by various Romantic Suspense authors

SEAL of My Dreams is an anthology I discovered whilst perusing the different book subscription service platforms (Oyster, Scribed, Kindle Unlimited--known as the "Netflix for books" sites).  In short, I was just doing research to see how beneficial to me subscribing to any of these platforms would be (hint: the answer is, not very).  I have an ongoing obsession with Romantic Suspense novels right now and immediately took to this anthology when I saw it; there are various authors I like, have come to like, and have heard of and have become interested in, listed as contributing to this anthology.  The book sold for a very cheap $0.99 on Amazon Kindle a month or two ago and I couldn't help going ahead and adding it to my collection.


Sometime in January, I'm going to begin reading SEAL of My Dreams.  I don't know why I'm waiting until January--it just feels like a good way to start the new year, I guess.




2.  Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

I have this book requested for hold at the library and am hoping that I'll be able to check it out within the next month or two, which would fall into the "Winter TBR" season.  Reviews have been mixed about the story, but the one thing that stands out to me is the strong female heroine training a cave of assassins premise, as well as the fact that reviewers have noted that there is no instalove nor any triangles.  Also, a YA female character with priorities that don't revolve around the boy she falls in lust with at first sight.  I love me some strong female leads and in a high fantasy, this is typically what draws my attention--as much as I am a hopeless romantic and love romances, I also like a level-headed female who has her priorities straight (when life or death is at stake, I'm thinking it's probably not so important that you can't choose between pretty boy and broody boy who both want to love you and want to push you away at the same time).


So I'm looking forward to reading this book soon so I can determine whether or not I'll continue on with the series.





3.  Show No Mercy by Cindy Gerard

4.  Take No Prisoners by Cindy Gerard

5.  Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard

I bought these books on a whim after becoming obsessed with Romantic Suspense.  While Cindy Gerard isn't the best author out there (I have since discovered other Romantic Suspense authors I love equally or even more), she does hold a special place in my heart since she's the first Romantic Suspense author I became a big fan of; her Bodyguard series is definitely one of my more favorite of Romantic Suspense series, with a particular character I fell head over heels in love with (well, two, but well...)


And now that I own THAT series as well as the follow-up series, Black Ops, Inc., and I have been listing them every month as part of my personal monthly TBR, and then getting distracted with shiny new books around every corner, I think it's high time I scheduled a more "permanent" TBR for them.  So I at least want to start reading the first three books of this series this winter (maybe starting in January with SEAL of My Dreams).  Once I can finish Black Ops, I can then move onto One-Eyed Jacks because Cindy Gerard has a new book release pending in February...




6.  Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

In anticipation of the April release of Suddenly One Summer, I'm slowly finishing up all the published Julie James novels, since I have decided that I will read everything she has written.  Practice Makes Perfect is one of her earlier works and the only Julie James book I have left to read; I have plans to amend that situation quickly.  That is all.




7.  The Silkworm by Roberth Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

I wasn't all too smitten with The Cuckoo's Calling, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.  It felt mediocre to me, but I still liked Cormoran and Robin as a cute little P.I. partnership.  Nonetheless, Rowling is Queen and I've seen some really positive reviews about The Silkworm in comparison with the mediocrity of The Cuckoo's Calling, so I'm interested in continuing this series.


I was on a library waiting list for the e-book and was listed as patron number 2 out of 16 last week.  I had been on this waiting list since the book was released in June and acquired by the e-book library that same month.  And yes, it has been a long wait.  I finally got the notice yesterday that I can now check this book out.  Seeing as how I still have a few other books I need to finish, I'm going to take advantage of the 21 day check-out and will probably finish reading this book sometime during the Winter TBR season.




8.  Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

This book just sounds fun.  Some reviewers I follow have praised it.  And it sounds like a nice little kickass Snow White meets Star Wars retelling.  How awesome is that?  My only matter is how willing I am to spend money... or if I'd rather wait out another library hold list.  Whatever the case, I WOULD like to put this book on my Winter TBR.  Of course, the holidays are approaching and I feel I owe it to myself (for reasons) to splurge just a little bit more.




9.  Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

The premise of Princess of Thorns sounds good enough to anticipate in that "edge of my seat" fashion.  Sleeping Beauty's daughter as a warrior princess, cursed to destroy any male who kisses her, disguised as a boy to enlist the help of a Prince to save the world and reclaim her stolen throne.  There's a high fantasy adventure of epic proportions (hopefully), a fairy tale retelling, a warrior princess, the potential for FEELS and more heartbreaking feels...  AND THERE IS A CROSS-DRESSING PLOT DEVICE!


This book just has Ani-bait written all over it.  I am inclined to include this book onto my list of holiday splurges this year.  In fact, I insist that I buy myself this book upon it's release date and read it for pure enjoyment during the holidays.


Let's just all cross our fingers and hope that it delivers, because I could cry if it doesn't.





10.  Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

I have been waiting for this sequel for nearing two years.  I'm sure that's grounds for immediate purchase when the book is finally published in March.  But this also means that I may or may not end up rereading Seraphina as part of my Winter TBR just to refresh my memory.




This list barely skims the unofficial and even longer TBR I've already started putting together.  It includes the rest of the Black Ops series by Cindy Gerard, A.G. Howard's Splintered series (the second and third books), possibly the next three Bishop/SCU books by Kay Hooper, the two books in the Mann Family series by Kate Brady, and lots of others.


But my TBR is ever-changing, pending my mood and what I can get my hands on, so my hope is that, having published a post with books I officially want to add to my Winter TBR, maybe I'll be a bit more structured in choosing my next book.


Then again, maybe not.  Who knows?

Like Reblog Comment
text 2014-11-18 12:59
Top Ten Tuesdays: Sequels

Top Ten Tuesdays is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  



I like series.  I like that I can enjoy a book and then come back to the same world and the same characters and continue to follow their adventures; erego, I also love sequels... when done well.  I don't like cliffhangers as much as I like a well-rounded ending to a first book in a series that concludes the story, but still leaves room to contemplate a sequel.  Of course, that can't always be helped.


And so, in doing such a thing, I'm stuck with anticipating the sequel to a book until I go crazy.  Just like everyone else out there who fell in love with a book, found out that the author intends to continue or extend the story, but said extension will come out sometime next year.


I'm sure we all would love for authors to just write their entire series in advance and release the sequel the very next day after we've finished reading the first book.  That would be an ideal world setting, no?


But I guess there's some sort of appeal to anticipating the release of a sequel--the excitement of having something to look forward to and obsess about.


I've spent a good portion of 2014 trying not to start a new series if I can help it--at least until I know that the series is coming to a close soon so that I can just sit down and read the whole thing in one go.  Since trilogies are all the rave nowadays, at least it's not hard to know how long to wait before starting a new "First book".


It doesn't always mean I'm successful, but at the very least, I've been quite disciplined.


So I've managed not to accumulate too many book sequels that I am waiting at the edge of my seat to get my hands on.  Instead of a bunch of second book sequels, I have more third and last book sequels that I am anticipating.


Technically, a sequel is just a "follow-up" that continues the story of, or expands upon, some earlier work.  In literal terms, a sequel is the second story to follow the first, which can lead into a series; a third story is usually known as a third installment, or the last book in a trilogy.  So on and so forth would be a "fourth installment", "fifth book", "sixth book/installment", and so on.


So my list is actually a combination of sequels, third installments, and last books.  All of which will be included in this week's Top Ten Tuesdays:  Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get.




1.  In the Afterlight -- Book 3 (finale) of The Darkest Minds

-- Written by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds isn't the best dystopian series out there.  In fact, if not for certain elements that caught my attention and clicked well with me, I probably would just brush this series off as "just another trilogy banking on the YA dystopian trend", (which it probably is just that).  But I've been enjoying the series and loving the character interactions, and so I'm eager to finish the series.  I just need to motivate myself into wanting to finish this last book; my own barrier is just that it's the last book and I'm afraid it won't end ideally and so I'm reluctant to dive into it just yet.


My reading list plans DOES include this book for the next coming week or two, though.




2.  The Silkworm -- Book 2 of Cormoran Strike

-- Written by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)

I think the name J.K. Rowling speaks for itself.  When I found out that Robert Galbraith was her pseudonym for a crime mystery series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Cuckoo's Calling last year and immediately put my name on a waiting list at the library.  This year is no different.  I quite enjoy Cormoran Strike and his over-eager receptionist slash partner in P.I., Robin, even if the story seemed pretty mediocre for a murder mystery.  I am currently on a library waiting list to read this book; there are two e-book copies; eventually it'll be my turn.




3.  The Perilous Sea -- Book 2 of The Elemental Trilogy

-- Written by Sherry Thomas

I very much enjoyed the first book despite some of it's faults, and so am eagerly anticipating the reading of this second book (of which I have yet to purchase due to money and time constraints), and am also eagerly anticipating the release of the last book in 2015.  Titus and Iolanthe were quite the pair to be reckoned with as both are strong, witty, and resourceful main characters with excellent friendship chemistry and potential for a great romance.


For some reason, this is one series I'm eager to allow myself the highly anticipated waiting period between books.  It just makes the inevitable procurement of said books feel so much more exciting.  I plan on reading this book by the end of this month, pending splurging habits and other TBR books on my reading list.





4.  Cress and Winter -- Books 3 and 4 of The Lunar Chronicles

-- Written by Marissa Meyer

I have technically not read the second book, Scarlet, yet.  I own it; bought it at a nice discounted price via Amazon.  But this is one of those series that I am keeping myself restrained from reading until I'm close enough to the release of the last book so that I'm not going too crazy with wait.  I just have a feeling I'll be falling apart if either books 2 or 3 happen to have a heart-breaking cliffhanger.


I love fairy tale retellings and Cinder was an amazing book that had enough positives to balance out the few flaws I might have found; it had FEELS up the wazoo that got me hooked!  I don't know when it will be, but when the right time comes, I will be purchasing the last two books whether or not they cost a few arms and legs.




5.  Shadow Scale -- Book 2 of Seraphina

-- Written by Rachel Hartman

So I read Seraphina in 2013 (it was a 2012 publication), and then gladly sat back to await the release of the sequel that had been listed as 2013, which is typical for most series (one book release each year).  I like high fantasies and this one was written well with a great world and lots of potential and a capable female lead.  And then the publication date of the second book changed to 2014.  I told myself the wait wouldn't hurt too much more--I had a lot of other books to read anyway.


But then the release date got pushed back once more to 2015.  And even the title of the book changed from Drachomachia to the current one, Shadow Scale.  At this point in time, I am starting to wonder if I am merely anticipating the wait because I've been anticipating it for so long already; or if I'm really that eager to read the sequel.  I might have to reread the first book, but nonetheless, I continue to anticipate the release of the sequel.




6.  Hidden Huntress -- Book 2 of The Malediction Trilogy

-- Written by Danielle L. Jensen

I just finished reading the first book, Stolen Songbird.  I loved it.  Now I desperately want to read the second book and see where the rest of the adventure and the conflict leads.  The story is still fresh in my mind.  I may or may not feel different in another two or three months--and with the whole Angry Robot-Strange Chemistry shutting its doors, the publication of the second book seems to be hanging in the abyss somewhere.  Of course, with news from Danielle L. Jensen, herself, Hidden Huntress should be getting a new publication date and a cover reveal soon now that she's been situated under a new company.


Nonetheless, I loved the characters and the world built in Stolen Songbird and hope to see the sequel soon.




7.  Untitled third book of The Archived

-- Written by Victoria Schwab (also known as V.E. Schwab)

The Archived is a book I loved very much with it's hidden world and it's urban fantasy setting and a strong female lead paired with an adorable, non-standard, non-broody, weird-ful male love interest.  


If anyone is wondering, yes, I am so in love with Wesley Ayers.  In fact, having found that there will be a novella written in Wesley's POV has gotten my squee-ing going--I'm not kidding.  It's called Leave the Window Open--having read The Unbound already, the title of this novella feels pretty meaningful and I'm anticipating it.  And no, this probably has nothing to do with this Top Ten Tuesday post about sequels, but I felt like bringing it up anyway.


Moving along now...


The first book focused very little on the romance and had a lot going for it involving self-conflict and tragedy and the choices our heroine had to make as well as emotional obstacles she had to fight through.  It had so much heart that I had no words to describe how much I loved it.  The second book, however, got a little mopey and took up some of that typical YA non-conflict conflicts, though it eventually drew itself back on track and managed to hook me into the world again.  I might have squealed when Wesley finally appeared in person.  I am definitely anticipating a third book, though there isn't a definitive publication date yet, nor do we know whether this will be the last book or if the series will continue on--it definitely has potential to be a long-running series though.




8.  Quicksilver -- Book 2 (finale) of Ultraviolet duology

-- Written by R.J. Anderson

I know this book has been out for at least two years now and I could pick it up whenever I want to.  I just haven't been motivated enough to spend more money yet.  But I definitely would love to finish the series and read the sequel.  I loved the first book and I like how unique the main character of Quicksilver is described as.  If the first book is any indication, Tori Beaugrand would be quite the force to be reckoned with as the main character of her story.





9.  Kinslayer and Endsinger -- Books 2 and 3 of The Lotus War trilogy

-- Written by Jay Kristoff

I can't say that I loved the first book unconditionally like many others.  In fact, the book was great, but I DID have trouble getting into it until after the first 20%; then the book flew by with exciting adventures.  I DO like the characters and the action though.  So I'm going to finish this series, though I will wait until the last book is released so I can just finish the trilogy in one go without too much wait time.


Admittedly, the covers for these books are pretty badass though, and may have contributed to my excitement at wanting to read the last two books of this series.




10.  Untitled fourth (and last) book of The Raven Cycle

-- Written by Maggie Stiefvater

If it is any indication of how much I love this series and how much I continually anticipated the release of each book after I first got my hands on The Raven Boys, you might see my reviews here, here, and here.  Maggie Stiefvater is magic; The Raven Cycle is FEELS; and Gansey is just so much awesome LOVES!


But... Man.  I am both looking forward to AND dreading the last book!  I can already feel my heart breaking wondering how everything will end.


And then finding this (even though I don't Twitter):







I know it doesn't sound like I'm too excited about a lot of these sequels since I haven't exactly tackled the time-space continuum to get my hands on them.  Even now when several of them are already available, I haven't gone out of my way to buy them yet.  But there is no doubt that I DO very much want to read each and every one of the books I've listed here.  It's just a matter of time, money, and well... time.


Like Reblog Comment
review 2014-11-16 00:23
"Series" Review: The Perfect Trilogy
The Perfect Couple - Brenda Novak
The Perfect Liar - Brenda Novak
The Perfect Murder - Brenda Novak

The "Perfect Trilogy" are Books 4, 5, and 6 of The Last Stand Series

by Brenda Novak



Despite the fact that each book contains a different plot, a different crime, a different set of characters, and a different premise, it doesn't escape me that the formula is almost identical throughout the six Last Stand books.  I enjoyed the first three books; and while I DID enjoy the last three books, there was just something a little off about each one that didn't quite work for me, though I'm not entirely sure what it was.


This isn't to say that I didn't like these books--if I didn't like them I wouldn't have enjoyed them despite the many things within the books that I didn't care for.  But in the end, I truly DID have fun reading the entire Last Stand series.


Reading a Brenda Novak book, I've realized, is like watching a suspenseful action/crime thriller:  Once you start, it's hard to stop.


There is constant activity, constant action, constant progression; you move from one point to another without any effort and then you just keep going.  Everything happens so quickly that you only know that you want to see what happens next.


And despite the fact that these books often had frustrating situations, little in the form of a unique story formula, and definitely NOT the most readily likable or relate-able characters, I still manage to hooked into the books without fail, every time.


These "Perfect Trilogy" books were definitely entertaining even though they were a bit less to my liking than the first three.  However, I did find that I liked some of the characters in these last three books more than some of the mains from the first three books.  It's not a perfect world after all.


The main thing that bothered me about the Perfect Trilogy had to be how much time we spend delving into the psyche of our "villain", following the thoughts and twisted logic and lack of conscience that goes through the killer/rapist/crazy's minds.  There's a certain appeal to it all, I'm sure, and the author does it very well--these characters freak me out a bit if only because I know that these types of people can exist in real life and seeing those thoughts in detail make it too realistic for me to handle.  In some ways, I like it; in other ways, I would just prefer following a good ol' fashion murder mystery from the perspective of our detectives or investigating teams... the good guys.


Yeah.  I know.  I live in a world where I prefer bunnies and sunshine and rainbows and Happily Ever After as part of my reading indulgences.  That's not too much to ask.


Nonetheless, it's not like I didn't like this new perspective either.  It's just different than what I prefer.  Brenda Novak has her ways with suspense and crime thrillers, which I like a lot.


At some points, the stories and events even seem grittier and more real than that of a lot of other romantic suspense novels I've read--the way in which people react in varied ways that can come off unfair, ugly, or even careless or stupid; it's credible enough.  In this aspect, I like how the characters are handled, main or side or background.



Quick Summaries:



The Perfect Couple


Zoe Duncan's thirteen year old daughter goes missing from her own backyard when she should have been at home recovering from a case of Mono.  While everyone else believes that she must have run away because she's less than enthused about her mother's fiance, Zoe is adamant that her daughter wouldn't have done such a thing--she's a good girl and has been trying to be supportive of her mother's impending marriage.  As a friend of Zoe's, Skye Kellerman requests the help of Private Investigator, Jonathan Stivers, to assist Zoe in locating Samantha Duncan.  As the pair delve deeper into an investigation that has extremely little evidence to go on, it becomes increasingly clear that something much more sinister is at hand, and Sam was abducted by someone close by.


I'm inclined to feel that either Zoe's blind to obvious strange happenings, or she's too trusting of the wrong people, and not trusting of the right people.  The couple next door is creepy as heck, which goes to show that so long as people are good-looking and can act normal enough, no one ever suspects them of anything.  Colin and Tiffany Bell come across as the perfect couple and perfect neighbors, but there were moments when Colin says or does things that, if I were Zoe, I would have been a bit more wary of, even if I didn't suspect them of kidnapping a child.


Anyway... this is one of the books in which I felt there was much more time than necessary focused on our psychotic, child-killing couple with no conscience.  While that's unique and some people may enjoy seeing the world through an antagonist's view, I wasn't too thrilled with it, myself and would have preferred to see more investigation going on.  This so called "Perfect Couple" just came off right creepy.  Had Colin not given himself away with some unrestrained outbursts and his uncontrollable need to hurt Zoe and Sam together, I don't know if anyone would have been able to save the day.


The romance between Zoe and Jonathan had little to stand on and I wasn't quite satisfied with the conclusion either.


Overall:  Only enjoyable in the fact that I had the urgent need to finish the book just to know what happens in the end.  As it stands, this is probably my least favorite of the Last Stand novels.




The Perfect Liar

Air force captain Luke Trussell awakens one morning to find the police at his door--he is being charged with rape of a fellow air force teammate, Karina Harter.  We very quickly learn that, while Luke did sleep with Karina, he in no way forced her to do anything she didn't want to do.  In fact, because of Karina's lust and obsession for Luke, she has devised this whole scheme to sue him for rape, and then drop the charges at the last moment in hopes that he'll be grateful enough to fall in love with her and be with her forever.


Talk about delusional and a little unsteady...


When Karina enlists the help of Ava Bixby from The Last Stand to help her investigate her rape case with the claim that she doesn't think the military will be fair to her because of her more promiscuous lifestyle, Ava soon learns that there is something more disturbing about Karina than she lets on.  Very early on, Ava realizes that Karina is an unstable woman, not only lying without a guilty conscience, but also set on making Luke Trussell belong to her alone, even if she has to kill for him.


Simply put, I liked Luke Trussell because he seemed so much different than the brooding alpha males you see in so many other books.  He's charming and gentlemanly, a good man with a good heart, and a boy that any parent would be proud to call their own.  And he's honest about his feelings and his motives.


In contrast, Ava came off as a real big bitch.  Maybe I liked Luke immediately and didn't like the way she treated him.  Or maybe it was because of the way she treated him that I liked Luke even more.  I'm not sure.  Granted, she probably earned the right to be a bit snippy--she's had a tough life--but I'm not sure that justifies her unmerited judgement of everyone she meets or barely knows.


When she first meets Luke, she claims that she's neutral and works to uncover the truth, but she had already condemned Luke and spent more time fishing for more reasons to further condemn him as a rapist.  Even after she learns the truth about Karina, she still holds Luke at a distance, leading him on only to pre-judge that he only cares about his pride when she rejects him--y'know, not that he'd ever be able to truly feel for someone or fall for a woman because she believes him to be the type of man who sleeps with women and then moves on like a womanizer.


Anyway, story-wise, this one was kind of weird and despite the suspenseful execution, I feel like the case dragged on for a lot longer than was necessary.  And again with the seeing things from the antagonist's perspective with her twisted logic and stuff like that.


Overall:  I liked Luke, though he made lots of bad decisions.  Entertaining book at best, but not much in terms of story.  The romance also was quite lacking.




The Perfect Murder

I'm not sure I like that we start the book in the killer's head, because that certainly gives away the premise, making the blurb given kind of useless:  "For More than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son.  Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband--a cop--committed both murders, then faked his own death."


But the first chapter introduces Malcolm Turner and his thoughts on how to enact the perfect murder.  It's a little disturbing.  And takes away a lot of the suspense and surprise elements.  Then we move on to Sebastian traveling across the country on a lead to track down Malcolm, bent on seeing the truth come out.  Due to a possible kidnapping case, Jane Burke contacts Sebastian for information that the man he's looking for may also be the same man who has abducted a pair of sisters.


Of course, as the formula goes, sparks fly amidst the joint investigation, but now Malcolm is tuned into the fact that Sebastian is on his tail.  Now Malcolm has decided that he needs to get rid of Sebastian and hit him where it hurts the most since he seems to have taken the existence of Sebastian a bit too personally as a slight against him.


More delusions...


I really did enjoy The Perfect Murder more than the previous two books in this trilogy.  There was more of a premise of investigation and I was delighted to find that I didn't think of Jane as annoying as I had when she was a side character in the first book, Trust Me.  In fact, I very much enjoyed following her through her renewed life as a single mother and newly appointed victims' rights advocate.  I also thought that she and Sebastian made a pretty nice couple, even if the romance was kind of quiet.  Sebastian's interactions with Jane's daughter, Kate, were very heart-warming.


As a romance, this book may not have been a win, but it was good nonetheless.  As a murder/crime thriller, the book might have fallen a bit short.  I'm not even sure I know what all really happened, but I'm inclined to be satisfied with what I liked.


I liked Jane and I liked Sebastian--which, considering this series, is a first that I don't have too many quibbles about the main couple, either together or individually.  Interesting, that.


Overall:  Very enjoyable.  Delightfully, surprisingly likable.




A few random last thoughts about the full Last Stand series overall.


  • While the premise of this series was more attractive to me, I still like Brenda Novak's Stillwater trilogy more--the characters are more to my liking, if only because there seems to be more of a cohesive "togetherness" between those characters.  The characters featured in The Last Stand series gave me conflicting feelings


  • Cain Granger (Watch Me) remains my favorite of the men featured throughout The Last Stand.  At a close second and third are Luke Trussell (The Perfect Liar) and Sebastian Costas (The Perfect Murder).  I thought I liked Jonathan Stivers (The Perfect Couple), too, since he's a P.I. and Iike P.I.s, but he didn't come across all that great and I prefer him as side character more.


  • Following that line of thought, Watch Me sits as my favorite of the six books; there was more of a murder mystery premise and a whodunit scenario than the rest of the books had.


  • I admire Brenda Novak's penchant for taking a character who wasn't all that likable from a previous book and making me change my mind about her.  Jane Burke first appears in Trust Me as the naive, entitled, and pampered wife of a dentist and well-liked man who turns out to be a serial killer.  Her behavior and personality was a big turn off that didn't sit well with me; when I saw that she would be the main female character in the last book, I was a bit conflicted.  Turns out that I actually enjoyed following her progress as she managed to get her life back together and move forward from the days of being married to a psychotic serial killer and become a victims advocate working with The Last Stand charity organization.  Kudos to that.


  • In terms of romance, The Last Stand seemed a bit lacking.  I either didn't like the romance or didn't like one of the two people involved in the romances.  Or, as in The Perfect Couple there really wasn't a semblance of romance at all.  Surprisingly, Jane's and Sebastian's relationship is probably my favorite of the couples.




More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?