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text 2015-12-20 08:50
2015 Reading Challenges Wrap-Up

Original 2015 Reading Challenge Post



As the post title states, this is really just a general wrap-up for all the reading challenges I participated in this year.  There's a sense of accomplishment in completing so many challenges, but at the same time, I know that I had chosen several of these challenges because they WOULD be easy to complete (Romantic Suspense Challenge, Men in Uniform Challenge, and so on).


My biggest accomplishment, honestly, would be the 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge hosted by Michelle at Because Reading and Berls at Fantasy is More Fun.  To create a large list of assigned reading, stick to it, and officially complete every book I set out to complete for the year... it feels good.



What I'm Currently Reading

These are the books that I am still reading and hope to have finished by the end of the year.  I've also listed which reading challenge they will qualify for if I DO manage to finish reading them before 2016.  Otherwise, another year is another year.


 Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL
  • Outdo Yourself Challenge
  • 2015 Reading Assignment -- extra credit book #2
  • Men in Uniform Challenge -- Police


 The Chimes by Charles Dickens (narrated by Richard Armitage)

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL
  • Outdo Yourself Challenge


 Risky Christmas (two story anthology)

-- Hidden Secrets by Jill Sorenson

-- Kidnapped at Christmas by Jennifer Morley

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL



What I Hope to Read Before the Year is Over

There are still eleven days left of the year and so I'm in hopes that I will be able to 1) finish reading the above listed books, and 2) add a couple more books to my 'Read' pile for 2015.  So the following are books I DO plan to start reading before the year is over and hope to have completed, as well as the challenges they will be part of.


 Shadow Dance by Julie Garwood

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL
  • Outdo Yourself Challenge
  • Mount TBR Challenge
  • Romantic Suspense Challenge
  • Men in Uniform Challenge -- FBI agent
  • Neverending Series Challenge -- final book to complete!!!


 Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL
  • Outdo Yourself Challenge
  • 2015 Release -- not an actual challenge, but I'm keeping track


 The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL
  • Outdo Yourself Challenge
  • 2015 Release -- not an actual challenge, but I'm keeping track


 A Family For Christmas by Mona Ingram

  • General Reading Challenge @ GR and BL
  • Outdo Yourself Challenge



The Stats

  • General Reading Challenges -- COMPLETED 11/13/2015

Goodreads Reading Challenge -- GR list/shelf

BookLikes Reading Challenge -- BL list/shelf

My Goal:  150 books

Progress:  170/150 books read


This is a typical reading challenge I participate in every year and aside from cheating my first year participating in 2012 (by dropping my goal at mid-year when I realized I probably wouldn't make it), I've actually been pretty good at keeping up.  I think I increased my goal by a small amount last year and ended up surpassing that number, which gave me the confidence to set a more stable number of books to read as my yearly goal.


Of course, this particular reading challenge includes everything from short stories, anthologies, novellas, and even manga volumes.  Last year I had read several manga volumes, each listed as one individual book on my list.  This year, my count actually has more full-length novels included.  Last year I managed my time a little differently.  This year I struggled through a lot of pre-chosen books for reading challenges that made my time management a little more difficult.


I will be participating in this same general numbers goal challenge next year and my goal will remain the same.



  • Outdo Yourself Challenge

-- CHALLENGE COMPLETED -- 12/17/2015

2015 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Hosted by Book Vixen

My Goal:  Getting My Heart Rate Up: read 1 - 5 more books

(I read 154 books for this challenge in 2014 / My goal will be 155 - 159 books in 2015.)

My Progress:  155/155

See Also: 2015 Outdo Yourself Challenge shelf for list of books


This is probably one of the harder challenges I picked up two years in a row, although last year, it was no difficult feat to surpass the number of books I had read in 2013.  But since I pretty much stretched my limits in 2014, this year ended up being a real challenge to try and outdo my final reading count from last year.


The reading count for this challenge is a little more restrictive as we can only include books that are at least 100 pages or more in length.  So, no manga volumes, no short stories, no picture books.  So this particular reading challenge number is a bit more accurate describing the number of books I've read (or audio books I've listened to).


I barely made it to complete my goal this year.


I will not be participating in this reading challenge next year, if only because I'm pretty sure I've found my yearly book average and will probably remain fairly steady for a while to come.  Maybe in a year or two I will try my hand at this challenge again.  Knowing myself, however, I'll probably still keep track of books for this challenge and maybe join the challenge at a later date.


The Book Vixen will no longer be hosting this Reading Challenge, but Corinne Rodrigues will be taking over:  2016 Outdo Yourself Challenge.



  • Romantic Suspense Challenge

  -- CHALLENGE COMPLETED -- 4/9/2015

2015 Romantic Suspense Reading Challenge

Hosted by Book Vixen

My Goal:  SWAT: read 21+ romantic suspense novels

My Progress: 77/21

See Also: 2015 Romantic Suspense Challenge shelf for list of books



  • Men in Uniform Challenge

  -- CHALLENGE COMPLETED -- 3/17/2015

2015 Men in Uniform Reading Challenge

Hosted by Book Vixen

My Goal:  Chief: read 16+ men in uniform novels

My Progress: 71/16

  -- 16 books read -- COMPLETED -- 3/17/2015

See: 2015 Men in Uniform Challenge shelf for book list

See: 2015 Men in Uniform Challenge post for detailed list


The above two challenges were the easiest two challenges I've ever chosen.  Knowing full well that I can binge-read several Romantic Suspense novels (a good percentage of which involve Men in Uniform), I was certain I couldn't fail these two challenges even if I tried.  On top of that, the goal levels were also pie.  And as anyone can see, both challenges were completed in full at the highest goal level before June even rolled around.


I will not be participating in either of these challenges next year, if only because they really just present an extra set of statistics I need to record... despite the fact that I will probably continue to record these statistics for future use.  Maybe.


The 2016 Romantic Suspense Challenge will be hosted by Shooting Stars Reviews.



  • 2015 TBR Pile Challenge


Hosted by Roof Beam Reader

My 2015 TBR Pile Challenge Summary Post

My Progress: 10/12

See Also: BookLikes shelf / Goodreads shelf


This is the third year I participated in the TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader.  This is the third year I have failed, even if not miserably.  You would think that if I could finish a 48 book Reading Assignment Challenge (see below), then I'd have no trouble at all finishing a 12 book reading challenge wherein I can read any of these books at any time during the year.


The problem is, I keep choosing books to place on this list that I can't find the motivation to read.  This is my "I would love to read these books one of these days" challenge, with books that I include that are books that I keep telling myself to read and books that are sort of outside my comfort genres.


It probably helped that I did some challenge crossover books between this challenge and the Reading Assignment Challenge, but by the time the last stretch of the year rolled around, I was so obsessed with the Reading Assignment Challenge that I sort of blew off this challenge.


I will probably not be participating in this challenge next year for obvious reasons.



  • 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge

Hosted by Because Reading & Fantasy Is More Fun

My 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge Summary Post

My Goal:  Reading Level 5:  48 books (4 books/month), 4 Extra Credits, 1 Pass

My Progress: 48/48 (4 Extra Credits used / No Passes used)

-- Goal Reached on 12/13/2015

Extended Goal:  Added on 2 Extra Credit books

Extended Goal Progress:  1/2 Extra Credit books read

See Also: BookLikes shelf / Goodreads shelf


This was my favorite reading challenge this year.  I can't really say why, but I had a lot of fun with making my list, formatting my update posts, and in general, reading books I would have otherwise avoided reading (**coughcough**Allegiant**coughcough**).  But I don't deny the huge sense of accomplishment bestowed upon myself for setting out a large list of books to read, with a restricted number of books to read monthly, and completing this grand mission.


I've picked up new-to-me authors because I chose to list books I probably wouldn't have picked up dependent on my reading mood.  New-to-me authors include: Molly Harper, Tess Gerritsen, Christine Feehan, Roxanne St. Claire, Meg Cabot, Robin Benway, Meagan Spooner, and a few others.  Unfortunately, I can't really say that I've actually liked all of them, and really only a small percentage of the new-to-me authors picked up due to this challenge actually made my "interested in reading more from this author" list.


Fortunately, I also picked up a second or third book of an author I had previously only read one book from and had never been sure whether or not to continue reading said author's works.  These authors include: Jill Shalvis, Julie Garwood, and Marie Lu.  Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor pilot novel turned out fun and I'm not opposed to continuing that series.  Julie Garwood's Heartbreaker was an average start to a long series, but I'm now kind of hooked to said series.  And Marie Lu's Legend trilogy was excellent and I look forward to continuing on with other books she has written.


I will definitely be participating in this challenge next year and have already formulated my list and other thoughts.  I have even given thought to including series that I need to finish, that I actually DO want to finish as well as some new authors or new series I've been circling around for ages without making time for.  Some of these authors will include Jeannie Lin, Amanda Quick, Nora Roberts, Lisa Gardner, and others who've always sat on my radar only, or who have drawn my attention recently.



  • Mount TBR Reading Challenge


Hosted by My Reader's Block

My Goal:  Mt. Ararat:  Read 48 books from your TBR pile/s

My Progress:  31/48

See: 2015 Mount TBR Challenge shelf for book list


I have a huge bookshelf.  I keep adding to that bookshelf.  Both digital and physical.  Unfortunately, I also have a huge reading list that also keeps growing, a bad spending habit, and this uncanny ability to always check out four weeks worth of reading from the library at least once a month.


When I first set out to participate in this challenge--to read books I acquired on my shelves before the reading challenge year--I had even made a list and had done some rough guesstimation calculations and came up with a realistic number of 48 out of all 200+ books on my shelves.  I figured that of all the books I owned, 48 was a reasonable number to whittle my shelves down by.


And I have failed spectacularly.


HOWEVER, I will not be deterred.  I'm going to try again.  2016 is another year and I will always have more books on my shelf to add onto my challenges... or something like that.



  • The Series That Never Ends Challenge

Hosted by Delighted Reader

My 2015 The Series That Never Ends Challenge Summary Post

My Goal(s):

First Goal:  Surviving the Book Tsunami - 5-9 books / COMPLETED

- 5 books completed -- 3/8/2015

- 9 books completed -- 6/1/2015

Next Goal: Removing the Thorn From My Side - 10-15 books / COMPLETED

- 10 books completed -- 6/9/2015

- 15 books completed -- 7/31/2015

Next Goal: Goddess of Reading the Never Ending Series - 15+ books / COMPLETED

- 16 books completed -- 8/16/2015

My Progress: 18/15 books

Listed Series Goals Completed:  2/3

See: 2015 Series Never Ends Challenge shelf for book list



I chose to participate in the Neverending Series Challenge because I had recently started into a few long-running Romantic Suspense series that were still getting new installments as the years go by:  Tracers by Laura Griffin was a new one I started in 2015.  Buchanan-Renard by Julie Garwood was a series in which I had started the year before with the first book--curiosity and continually loving the next book more and more got me interested in continuing the series.  Bishop/SCU by Kay Hooper was another series I'd been following for some time, but just never made time to continue even though I wanted to read the entire series.


In the ensuing months of 2015, I went on to reading other long (5+ books) or ongoing series such as KGI by Maya Banks, Steele Street by Tara Janzen, Bullet Catchers by Roxanne St. Claire, and so on.  I wasn't sure how dedicated I was to reading these other series so I didn't include them in this challenge, but they would have totally qualified.  And also, I'm already up to book #9 of KGI and I recently finished book #6 of Steele Street.


I'm a little conflicted as to whether or not to participate in this challenge in 2016.  For one, this is not an easy challenge unless it's crossing over with other challenges.  I've still got one book left to go in the Buchanan-Renard series to complete my challenge.  On the other hand, I had only planned on reading 5 of the Tracers books as part of my challenge goal, but ended up finishing all 8 of the already published installments, then continuing to read the newest, recently published installment #9, thus catching me up with the entire series at present..


In 2016, some of the books for my Reading Assignment Challenge are part of some really long series, both ongoing and completed, with at least 5 books in the total series book count.


So this might actually be a good challenge to continue to participate in.  I just haven't quite made up my decisions yet.



In Summary

I will be publishing an official Reading Challenge post for my 2016 Reading Challenges, but here is the gist of everything:


I have decided to cut back on the number of challenges I will be participating in next year.  Keeping track of all of my books read and for what challenges and any other statistic has become something of a tedious, obsessive activity for me this year and I realize that I might have gone a bit overboard.  If I showed everyone my bookish spreadsheets, it could get a little scary.


So aside from the general number goal challenge via GR and BL, I will only be participating in 3 other challenges (decided as of this moment):


2016 Reading Assignment Challenge

2016 Mount TBR Challenge

2016 Bookish Resolutions

(I will update links as I create each starter post.)


I will probably still end up keeping track of the number of series I've read and completed and started as well as all other statistics I normally keep track of on my personal spreadsheets, but that's probably about it for me.


I DO, however, want to participate in more Read-a-thons, so those are still in the 2016 bookish plans.  I'm particularly interested in the Bout of Books week-long read-a-thons, though I haven't decided which one to participate in yet.


Otherwise, this year, I feel like I've managed pretty well.



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review 2015-11-29 23:49
Thoughts: Shadow Fall
Shadow Fall (Tracers) - Laura Griffin

Shadow Fall -- Laura Griffin

Book 9 of Tracers series



I jumped right into reading Shadow Fall before I even bothered with the book's official summary blurb--I suppose this goes to show how much I've come to enjoy reading Laura Griffin's romantic suspense books and how much I've come to anticipate a Tracers installment.

Shadow Fall is immensely enjoyable despite the standard Romantic Suspense formula, because it is written with an intensity that keeps you interested and turning the pages without fail. I definitely enjoyed it a lot, although I am slightly less enamored with the way that the romance played out. But otherwise, the rest of the book focusing on the serial killer and criminal mystery was quite entertaining.

The Story:
A woman is killed in a gruesome manner and FBI Special Agent Tara Rushing is tasked to insert herself into the local law enforcement to investigate this murder because the victim is a former political candidate. Liam Wolfe, former marine and current owner of an elite security consultant service is one of the main suspects by local law enforcement--in recent history, Liam had taken the murder victim as a client.

As the investigation progresses, however, Tara finds that there might have been more than the one murder tied to the same killer MO--a serial killer may be operating out of these backwoods of East Texas. And as new evidence is uncovered and examined by the Delphi Center, Texas' best forensic organization, leads show a striking connection between the killings and Liam Wolfe or maybe the men who work for him.

Brief Thoughts:
Some aspects of Laura Griffin books tend to recycle themselves sometimes, but in my opinion, if I enjoy them and they work, then I don't really let it bother me. But it doesn't escape my notice. Nonetheless, as I'd stated already, this most recent installment of the Tracers series is highly enjoyable and quite a page-turning experience.

While the romance played out a bit more frustratingly, and there was less of a connect to the characters, the rest of the book progressed smoothly concerning the murders and crime thriller. I would have liked a bit more interaction between Liam and Tara before the "I love you"s were tossed around, even if they waited until the end of the book (Standard Romantic Suspense Procedure™) to throw them out there.

As far as the love story goes, I can usually get behind insta-lust (because that's human nature), but the insta-love came on the heels of that instant attraction way too quickly for me to be comfortable behind. Especially when Liam's idea of caring for someone or falling in love with someone means telling her to stop doing her job or run away from her responsibilities--his controlling behavior irked me just as much as it did Tara, which makes me glad that Tara doesn't just take his demands and runs with them.

In this aspect, I like Tara a lot; I'm glad she doesn't just let a man she's lusting after bulldoze his way into her life and start telling her what to do. Tara is a trained FBI agent (even if there are moments when she doesn't act like it), and also part of a SWAT team. Realistically, I'm glad she has a lot of flaws as well, playing on the "rookie investigator" angle of it all, but also being bad-ass enough to tell the man to "shove it" when he starts thinking he can tell her what to do just because he's developed some caveman protective instincts--as sweet as that may seem. Then again, at least Liam recognizes the futility of trying to be the controlling alpha leader around Tara and accepts it.

And so, in Shadow Fall the criminal aspects of the book overshadow the love story quite a bit, but still managed to remain balanced enough that I enjoyed it. We had all the typical investigating processes, though--collecting and examining evidence, profiling, interviewing witnesses... it all goes by in a blur and if it weren't for the analytical mind of Tara's, I might have zoned out. It takes a great character to put things into perspective rather than simply going through the standard operating motions.

The identity of the killer DID come out of left field, even if it didn't really feel like it at the time. And there were a lot of unresolved issues surrounding certain side characters and certain situation twists with the local law enforcement, although I guess this is fairly realistic that not everything has a proper conclusion, even if I don't care for loose ends.

The pissing wars between law enforcement organizations--local law and FBI--seemed irrelevant in the long term of events though, so I'm not sure how to take all of that.


Hot sex ensues, no damsel in distress situations, lots more of badassery by Agent Rushing, Happily Ever After™...

On a side note:
I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment which has a plot surrounding cyber crimes--I'm hyped already 'cause that is one of my more favorite plot devices in a crime thriller as of recent. If anyone's got some good recommendations for books with cyber crime aspects in it, please let me know. Apparently I'm not very good at finding them.

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review 2015-11-18 10:04
Thoughts: Fear the Dark
Fear the Dark (A Bishop/SCU Novel) - Kay Hooper

Fear the Dark -- Kay Hooper

Book 16 of Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series



This most recent installment of Kay Hooper's Bishop/SCU series was actually a fairly weak one compared to a lot of the earlier books in the series. In fact, with the exception of a few factors or story events that still made the books enjoyable to me, the past few books in the series have been slightly disappointing, if only because they don't seem to have that intense excitement that a crime thriller should have.

As was typical of the last three (maybe even the last six) Bishop/SCU books I read, there has been a lot of repetitive discussions, monologues, and a lot of text book style back history being given within each book. It got tedious after a while.

What I will say about these books, however, is that at least the crime/murder mystery aspect is written well. I almost never figure out the few secrets or the ultimate culprit; except that oftentimes there is either a "Universal Evil" who is controlling a known suspect, or the mysterious perpetrator's identity comes out of left field in that way that couldn't have been figured out by readers at all, if only because there had never been a thorough enough investigative process presented, or no suspects had been mentioned before, period.

It really DOES take the fun out of murder mysteries when there was never any way of being able to play detective along with the characters.

Another aspect I'd been becoming a little disappointed in is that the romances have become non-existent if even there at all. Granted, a good book does NOT require a love story within the story's scope to be a good book or to be enjoyable. But I went into this series with the impression that it was filed into the Romantic Suspense category, so it becomes slightly disappointing to me (who has become quite fond of that genre) that the series is slowly diverging from that category into more of a Paranormal Crime Thriller than anything else. The romances are still there, but so subtle that they may as well NOT be there at all.

Which pretty much just means I need to shift my approach to reading new installments in this series if I want to continue enjoying them.


Overall, this had been an enjoyable book as far as atmosphere and criminal mystery--the setting of the story got somewhat creepy at some moments, even if not spine-tingling eerie. But I really DO feel like the characters are becoming increasingly identical in narrative POV voices, and almost entirely useless since their paranormal psychic skills didn't get them anywhere the mysterious kidnapper didn't let them get to. On top of that, I'm not even entirely sure I know what happened in this book aside from what the summary blurb mentions about people disappearing into thin air with no clues, about the dark being a factor in their disappearances (hence the title of the book, Fear the Dark), and about our local law enforcement and Bishop's Special Crimes Unit sending in aid.

Because after all of that setup happened, the rest was really just a blur of dragging investigations, a lot of sitting around and contemplating possibilities and formulating ideas about what might have happened... and then The End. I'm sure much more happened than that, but to me, it was very much all a blur.

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review 2015-10-25 13:23
Thoughts and Notes: Haunted
Haunted - Kay Hooper

Haunted -- Kay Hooper

Book 15 of Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series

Book 3 of the Haven sub-trilogy



There are two reasons why I liked this book the best out of the three Haven books:

1) While the book still dragged like the previous two did, once the investigating team got together, I got really interested. And also Trinity Nichols kind of reminds me of Miranda Bishop when she was still a police detective in Out of the Shadows--she’s competent, level-headed, and she’s got aces all up in her sleeves.

2) Hollis gets a lot of book time.

And Hollis gets her closure.  And Hollis is much closer to finding her Happily Ever After™.  And Hollis sort of kind of figures out her potential power.

(spoiler show)

While we once again focus on two sets of main characters, this is ultimately a very “Hollis Templeton-centric” book. She needs her own book and she needs some closure on all the stuff that’s been happening to her since her first introduction into the series and her first participation as an SCU agent. It made me very happy that this book focuses so much on Hollis.

And then there is one reason why I considered docking that extra 0.5 Stars I finally chose to give Haunted (there was a lot of hemming and hawing on my part, and even a potential extra 0.5 Stars I thought of giving this book):


  • There are a lot of loose ends that never get resolved and just seem to fade away as if they weren’t brought up in the first place. Even I had forgotten about some of these side threads of the story after I finished reading Haunted until something triggered my memory and I found myself wondering:


What was the whole “Scott’s ghost” thing about? What about the rest of The Group and what’s going to happen to them? What was that Big Revenge deal all about and why was there a guy so bent on revenge? What were his reasons for revenge in the first place? And what about Megan? Something about Megan seemed to have been left out, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

(spoiler show)



Story Blurb via Goodreads:

When Deacon James’s younger sister Melanie calls him, terrified, he goes to her aid in the small Georgia town of Sociable. What he finds is a scared young woman in the grip of what she insists is a paranormal nightmare—and murder. Two local men have been killed under mysterious circumstances. And Melanie is the prime suspect.

Trinity Nichols left a high-stress job for quiet, small-town life. But news of the murders has left her—and the town—on edge, especially when there is nothing remotely ordinary about how the men died. And her investigation is yielding more than she bargained for, including a group of strangers who have descended on Sociable, some with abilities Trinity finds hard to believe, and agendas she refuses to trust. For some reason, they know a lot more than they should about what’s happening in town. And what’s happening is growing stranger by the minute.

Now Trinity, Deacon, and this odd band of FBI agents must work together to solve a series of disturbances so incredible that Trinity, and the town of Sociable, will be changed forever. She just isn’t certain who—or what—will be left standing when it’s all over.



My Notes:

Here are some of the notes I wrote while reading this book. Here are also some thoughts I’m coming up with while writing this review. And then some…


  • The town’s name is Sociable, Georgia. Somehow, that made me raise my eyebrows and squint really hard at the page.


  • Again, there are two separate storylines--or rather, the semblance of two separate murder mysteries with two storylines that will eventually merge together. But this time, we don’t follow both storylines even though we know one of them is going on in the background somewhere. Instead, Hollis and Reese join Trinity and Deacon on one murder investigation, the likes of which I had figured out what was going on even if I had no idea who the murderer was.


  • On the other hand, there is mention of Miranda and another agent investigating a murder case up in the mountains and that Isabel and Rafe (from Book #3, Sense of Evil) were going to join them. Isabel and Rafe were one of my more favorite investigating teams after Miranda and Bishop so I was hopeful to get to see them in the book, though that did not happen.


Nonetheless, since this book is very much Hollis-centric, even if Reese DeMarco doesn’t really stand out, I still giddily gobbled up this book for Hollis’ sake.


  • At least one thing is consistent with a Kay Hooper book: the book starts getting more interesting when we actually start investigating rather than everyone just sitting there, spending time discussing the “History Text of Bishop’s SCU” or playing exposition fairy for this book and for the entire series as a whole.


And really, these past few Bishop/SCU installments would actually have been really exciting and would have been great crime thrillers if people would just stop discussing the same repetitive subjects over and over again. We need more action, ya’know.


  • Again, while the romance element in these books is lukewarm to non-existent, I still managed to enjoy the character interactions. I would love to see Trinity in action and watch Trinity and Deacon develop their relationship. Trinity is another Bishop/SCU character I would love to follow in later installments because she has a lot of potential for being in a great investigative role.


And also,

Now that Hollis has gotten her closure and her almost Happily Ever After™, I’d love to see a later installment wherein she and Reese can further develop their relationship whilst fighting crime together and saving the world as a pair of psychic superheroes much like Miranda and Bishop.

(spoiler show)





This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):



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review 2015-10-25 13:21
Thoughts and Notes: Hostage
Hostage - Kay Hooper

Hostage -- Kay Hooper

Book 14 of Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series

Book 2 of the Haven sub-trilogy



Kay Hooper's books have always had a slew of multiple POVs between characters within the book, which I never minded--although if not done properly, it could become a big, distracting, channel surfing mess. In this book, we see more than just multiple POVs, we actually see two sets of main characters and what's going on between them... Luther Brinkman and Callie Davis on one side with their own goings-on; Hollis Templeton (!!!) and Reese DeMarco on another hand with their happenings.

And if you can't tell yet, or missed it when I mentioned it the first time, Hollis is my favorite Bishop/SCU character--something about her snarkiness speaks to me.

And while at first I didn't care for it (the switching of narrative between Team Callie/Luther and Team Hollis/DeMarco), after I thought about it, I decided that it actually made sense for this story and how everything connected in the end. In the long run, I decided to bump the rating up to an average 3.0 Stars because some time to think on the book made me realize that what I had found frustrating really wasn’t all that bad.



Story Blurb via Goodreads:

Haven operative Luther Brinkman has been sent into the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee to locate escaped felon Cole Jacoby, a mentally unstable bank robber. Supposedly, Jacoby hid more than ten million dollars from his last heist before he was captured—and rather mysteriously escaped federal custody. And once Brinkman finds Jacoby, the agent is left severely wounded, with no way to convey his location to Haven.

Callie Davis, an agent with the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit, has been in the area for some time, due to the foresight of her boss and unit chief, Noah Bishop. But when she finds the wounded Brinkman, her rescue mission turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

What neither Luther nor Callie know is that their quarry is far more than an escaped bank robber. And that in hunting him, they will find themselves being hunted by him, and will discover him to be the worst monster either of them has ever known.



My Notes:

I guess here are some scattered thoughts I’d written down as I read the book as well as some more current thoughts that come to mind as I write this review:


  • The first chapter felt like there might be a sort of “Game of Cat and Mouse”. But then that doesn’t actually happen and I move on.


  • Again, there is a lot of “enigmatic” talking in circles going around and that gets more frustrating every time it happens and is really tugging at my last nerve. Bishop does it and it pisses off his operatives; Callie does it and it frustrates Luther… and me. Why can’t these people just stop keeping secrets in the name of “The Universe doesn’t think it’s time to reveal these facts yet”? It’s annoying!


  • A creepiness factor DOES come into play, even if it isn’t entirely spine-chillingly creepy. But we’ve got an evil killer being possessed by evil as one set of our good guys are trapped in an isolated cabin in the woods--MAJOR POTENTIAL for story! And then we’ve got our other set of good guys investigating something in an extremely haunted mansion--DOUBLE MAJOR POTENTIAL for story!


  • And then there’s Hollis and her strong mediumistic abilities and her ever evolving psychic abilities, trapped in a haunted mansion that is very, very haunted with lots of negative energy. I got excited about that one.


  • It took a long time for the book to actually start being a story rather than spending time discussing backstory and speculating current story. Because it wasn’t until the book itself started hinting that the two separate storylines in Hostage might be related that things started getting a bit more exciting.


And even though I’ve come to like the back and forth narration between the Callie/Luther pair and the Hollis/Reese pair, at the time, I found it hard to follow. Because until you reach the end of the book, the two tangent storylines just feel as if they should have been two different stories in two different books; there wasn’t even really a feeling that both tangents might intersect except that we know this is how a Kay Hooper book operates.


And I have to admit: I liked the new characters, Callie Davis and Luther Brinkman. And I feel like they kind of got cheated on their story because of Hollis and Reese taking up the other fifty percent of the book. Because the entire time that the story was progressing, I kept looking forward to seeing more of the Team Hollis/Reese side of the book and barely paid attention to the Team Callie/Luther side of things. It wasn’t fair to them--I like following Hollis more than any other of the SCU or Haven operatives.


But the Callie/Luther storyline and romantic developments had a lot of potential to be a singular, individual story all on its own. But unfortunately, they had to share.


  • And in the end, I’m not even entirely sure I know what actually took place in Hostage except for some haphazard telling of an evil entity full of negative energy that needed to be destroyed or contained or something…


A lot of the story got told through our exposition fairies: the SCU leader Noah Bishop and the Haven leader Maggie Garrett nee Barnes. Every few chapters we would jump back to those two to explain the happenings in the Callie/Luther world or the Hollis/Reese world… you know, in case, as the reader, you couldn’t quite figure out what was going on because “The Universe” was being overly vague again whenever we were actually reading about the two main conflicts with the two main couples.




This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):



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