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review 2015-09-30 14:04
Some Thoughts: The Surgeon
The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen

The Surgeon -- Tess Gerritsen

Book 1 of Rizzoli & Isles



This is probably one of those books that I would have liked to just read and then move on without really analyzing it. Maybe give it a generic 3 Star rating. If asked, I’d say it was a good read--intriguing, well-written, brainstormed to a ‘T’. It certainly DOES have a great sense of appeal, because even now I’ve put the next book on my hold request list at the library and am anticipating the moment when it becomes available.

But I probably wouldn’t have given thought to writing any kind of drawn out review for it--even now I’m putting thoughts down only because that darn Reading Assignment Challenge requests a short review or a post about my opinions. And when I start typing, I tend to get carried away, even if I half-ass a review.

Was it a memorable book? Maybe. I can certainly recall the gruesome events and the many textbook form info dumps throughout the book--the medical terms, the police jargon, and so on. The characters weren’t the most likable, but they stood out somehow. The atmosphere was gritty, almost too real to be comfortable with considering the subject matter of the book.

There were certainly some things that didn’t sit well with me--for instance, the animosity between the only two women in the entire book for all the wrong reasons. Too many times do I read books or watch movies or television series where there is immense girl-on-girl hate for the petty things such as the way one woman looks or acts. So it chafes a bit whenever I see it in books, especially when it’s used to emphasize one woman’s strength versus another woman’s weakness in each other’s eyes--as if two women cannot be completely different in personality and behavior without hating on each other.

And amidst all of that, there was still a bit of detachment in the way the story was told. Which is why, even though I’m interested in continuing the rest of the series, to see what happens to Jane Rizzoli as the books continue, it’s not like this series is a foremost favorite on my list. At least not yet--there have been various firsts in a series that I don’t immediately warm up to, and so there’s no telling whether or not this will be one.

As far as the story goes:
Several brutal murders occur in Boston, all bearing the same details from killings in Savannah two years prior. Dr. Catherine Cordell is the only survivor of the Savannah slayings, having killed her attacker before he could finish her off. It quickly becomes apparent that the present-day Boston murders are tied to Catherine Cordell and the monster she knows she shot and killed two years ago; a man who preyed on vulnerable women, who raped and then murdered them, cutting them open and taking a souvenir for his sick, twisted pleasures.

So if the man who was responsible for the killings in Savannah is dead, how is it possible for a copycat murderer to know the same gory details of those killings, re-enacting them with the same intimate detail? And why is he so fixated on Catherine Cordell, practically announcing his intentions by leaving her little messages, challenging the Boston PD, stalking her as the ultimate prize in his twisted game?

Some Thoughts:
This book was really more about the murder investigation and introducing the world of the Boston PD within the Rizzoli & Isles series; it was more about establishing a setting and an atmosphere, about establishing the on-paper character relationships and the police politics within the scope of this series, than it was about the characters. While we do see a lot of character interaction and a lot of character insight, I couldn’t help but feel that the small glimpses we get to see about the detectives, Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli, about Dr. Catherine Cordell, just all felt like passing thoughts amidst the bigger picture of the crime thriller.

I’m drawn to characters and character interactions. And, as I said, despite there being plenty of it, The Surgeon doesn’t really dwell long on any of the characters--at least not long enough for the reader to build some sort of relatedness or rapport with them. Instead, I merely picked up a passing interest in knowing how life goes for Jane Rizzoli after this book and how she will continue to deal among her career in a male-dominated field.

But that’s pretty much it.

The crime thriller was intriguing enough to draw me in, even if not in that “desperate need to finish reading this book” sort of way. It was well-written and well-thought out. At some times, I wonder if maybe it was too detailed and too in-depth. It’s great that the author does her research and lends legitimacy to her writing, what with the medical terms and textbook definitions and glossary level explanations. But to be totally honest, sometimes you can get a little carried away trying to bring about that sense of realness that it takes away from the story.

I don’t need to know what every medical term means if it doesn’t lend significance to the story. I don’t need every piece of police and medical jargon spelled out for me. Some lesser known terms, maybe; but a lot of the textbook explanations given could have been done without.

Which is why, in the end, despite how well written the book is and despite how much I enjoyed it, my main take-away from The Surgeon hadn’t been how well written the book was, or how readily you get pulled into the crime thriller. It wasn’t the detailed cruelty of the killings, or the sadness of the tragic happenings, or even Jane Rizzoli’s introduction into being accepted as a police detective by her peers (hopefully). My main take away was how much I’d been hammered with vocabulary and a detached definition of all the jargon thrown around. My main take away was how detached everything felt from any feeling--like everything was just being recited from a report of some sort, like a newspaper clipping or some such thing.

Aside from a passing interest, I really DON’T feel much about this book. Again, I will continue reading the series for a while and see where it takes me from there.





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



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review 2015-09-30 14:00
Quick Thoughts: The Nightmare Dilemma
The Nightmare Dilemma - Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Dilemma -- Mindee Arnett

Book 2 of Arkwell Academy



Much like the first book in this series, The Nightmare Dilemma is very enjoyable and cute. But I can't help but note that, also like the first book, something seems to be missing--enough so that the book falls short of being memorably awesome. I just can't seem to put my finger on what it is that doesn't work quite right for me. The narrative tone of the first book felt strangely detached; the narrative tone of this second book, however, feels... off. I can't quite reconcile the tone of the story with the subject matter depicted in the story--they just don’t feel like they match up.

Nonetheless, the story was enjoyable and the characters were also likable. The world of Arkwell Academy has so much potential to extend into many story lines (and still gives me the same feel as the Harry Potter world, which I also loved immensely). I'm not sure how the trilogy will conclude, but I wouldn't mind reading more stories that could take place within the same fictional world as Arkwell Academy, as again, there is so much potential for lots of storytelling.

The Official Story Blurb:

Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.

To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.

As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts:
Some of the stuff mentioned in the blurb don't exactly present in the actual book, but none of it really too significant, honestly. As much as I enjoyed the book, I can't say that it's the most memorable experience. And, as I already stated, the narrative tone through Dusty doesn't seem to match the subject matter being presented in the book either; Dusty has a fairly juvenile tone of voice, but the things that are happening feel like they are more mature and serious. It actually made the narration slightly distracting, especially when Dusty spends more time than necessary drooling over Eli, repetitively admiring his "hot body" or something to that effect.

But the mystery was fun and interesting and the ultimate Big Baddie (though unsurprising) made for a good twist in the overall storyline. There was a lot of stuff going on, ranging from controversial matters as well as some social and human causes that parallel ongoing conflicts in the real world throughout history. It inspires some thought, but with the flippant tone of the narration, again, it makes it hard to focus on any of it.

Overall, the story was interesting, though a lot of the events were predictable, even the development of the romance between Dusty and Eli was slightly eye-roll-worthy predictable--not that it was handled badly or anything, but... well... I guess it works. Selene is still cool and awesome as the awesome best friend and even Lance makes a great potential side-kick type character for future purposes. I expect him to have more book time in the last book.

One thing is for sure: I am very much still interested in reading the last book to see how everything turns out in the end.





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



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text 2015-09-29 23:46
Starting: Six of Crows
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

He was supposed to be making his rounds at the Hoede house, but for the last fifteen minutes, he'd been hovering around the southeast wall of the gardens trying to think of something clever and romantic to say to Anya.


If only Anya's eyes were blue like the sea or green like an emerald.  Instead, her eyes were brown--lovely, dreamy... melted chocolate brown?  Rabbit fur brown?



Pfft.  This made me laugh.  It's pretty trivial, but it made me laugh anyway.  And it was only the second and third paragraph into the book.  What a romantic, this guy is.  :D


I couldn't help starting Six of Crows even though I only have one day left to finish reading The Nightmare Dilemma for my Reading Assignment Challenge this month--I'm almost done and I'll get there by the end of September.  Whether or not I'll have the book reviewed by then is another matter altogether.


I've been looking forward to Six of Crows ever since I first heard of it and I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy it.  As the official blurb tells us (from Goodreads):


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.



It's like Ocean's Eleven, high fantasy style, and takes place in Leigh Bardugo's infamous Grishaverse.  Except there are only six of them, hence the title, though I guess we have yet to see what this has to do with crows.  


Still... I don't even need other reviewer recommendations for this.  I'm all over it and now that I've got a taste of the beginning, I'm probably just going to devour the rest of it just like I did for Bardugo's entire Grisha trilogy.


And me with such a tight reading list right now...


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review 2015-09-25 08:32
Thoughts: Murder List
Murder List - Julie Garwood

Murder List -- Julie Garwood

Book 4 of Buchanan-Renard-McKenna series


The narration and the story telling always feel flighty and haphazard whenever I read one of Julie Garwood's Buchanan-Renard installments (recently known as the Buchanan-Renard-McKenna series). I never get a solid feel for who's perspective we're seeing certain scenes through because the POVs flip back and forth within sentences of each other so quickly that I get a little lost. But aside from that and some rather outdated ideals, I can't deny that each book in this series seems to get more and more enjoyable.

I will openly admit that even with some reserves going into each book, I ultimately end up enjoying the heck out of them. And Murder List was no different--I really ended up liking it a lot!

The Story in Brief:
Wanting to help expose a sleazy con artist for the lying scum that he is, Regan Madison joins her two best friends at a celebrity therapist's seminar to find evidence against him. During the conference, the room is tasked to create a list of names of people they believe the world would be a better place without. Regan plays along to keep in tune with her "undercover" role--she absently jots down a few names. Soon after a run-in with a mysterious, crazy man in the parking lot on that rainy night, one of the people Regan had named on her fake list which she had playfully titled "Murder List" is killed. Then the murderer contacts Regan claiming responsibility for the kill as well as sending her a copy of her "Murder List" with the name of the first victim crossed off.

Meanwhile, realizing the connection Regan may have to a maniac killer, her elder brother doesn't hesitate to demand protection detail. And so Regan is stuck with Alec Buchanan, a detective who has recently pissed off his commanding lieutenant and is delegated to bodyguard duty. As the criminal investigation moves forward, of course, romance ensues, even while Alec already has plans on leaving Chicago in the next three weeks.

Some Thoughts:
This book almost reads like a contemporary romance if you discount the consistent and continued urgency of a killer hanging around in the background, biding his time and waiting to kill off the next person on Regan's list or killing Regan. A lot of the interaction is based around Regan and her friends or Regan and her brothers, and especially the budding romance between Regan and Alec. The actual murder investigation kind of feels like it takes place in the background of the relationship dynamics and the short self-revelation sequence that Regan goes through.

And so this book feels like it could have been a contemporary romance first, spring boarding off of a romantic suspense in the background.

Nonetheless, amidst the love story and the Regan story, the crime thriller is still there since Regan's life is established to be in some kind of danger, requiring her to have a bodyguard. The time frame of this book just kind of skips by, day-by-day anyway.

Very early on we see that Regan had been the killer's initial target, but conflicting circumstances in his head changes the course of his actions. There's no doubt that this crime thriller is dealing with a particularly disturbed individual as we DO see a few scenes from the killer's perspective, even if we don't know who the killer actually is. In this, I'm actually kind of glad that we don't spend too much time in the killer's psyche, but enough to know that there's really something terribly wrong with him and his twisted logic.

Anyway, as I had already stated, the books in this series become more enjoyable as each one goes by. And even if the content was extremely predictable and the romance was standard fare, I had a lot of fun reading the interaction and the dialogue between all the characters. Julie Garwood is very witty with a light dose of warm humor to get me smiling at all the right points.

Regan and Alec had a cute relationship with their witty and snarky banter. I still have my issues with Regan being too readily a doormat when it comes to her brothers though, and while she managed to settle some of the issues with them, I still don't feel like she came out too victorious in her stand for more independence from them and less interference in her life. The banter between her and her brothers was a little less fun to read.

On another hand, Regan's young assistant, Henry was so adorable it was hard not to fall for him. He was a delight to have present in the book and was probably a good percentage of my enjoyment.

Despite all the flaws and faults I usually find in these Buchanan-Renard books, I still can't help finding them extremely entertaining to read, and very easy to like.



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



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text 2015-09-22 17:12
Squee for Book Releases for September and October!!... and short other news.


I guess, technically, September is close to over now and I should be squee-ing for October.  But a lot of the books I'd been anticipating from September were being released near the end of the month, and so with my own reading list, getting around to read those books wouldn't have happened until the end of September, or well into October.


And also, there are a lot more books I'm anticipating in October than I had been in September.


In other news, I just got back from a short mini-vacation and on top of that, life has been super busy and chaotic around our house.  So I'm now trying to play catch-up with my blog, reading, and writing of reviews.  I have two more books to finish for my Reading Assignment Challenge, two more books to finish reading that I had checked out from the library, and some other catching up to do concerning my other Reading Challenges.


2015 is fast approaching its end and while I feel like I've been rather productive in my reading life, I just can't help but feel like I'm still trying to catch up to all my goals and everything I want to do, bookish-wise.  I just need Real Life to quit bothering me so I can get back to my bookish stuff.


Not too much to ask, right?  :P




(Click on the title covers for link to Goodreads pages.)



September Books

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Shadow Fall by Laura Griffin

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo



Two of these books are already available for purchase (publication today, 9/22/2015): Walk on Earth a Stranger and Shadow Fall.  Neither are on my To Buy list, however and I diligently await their library availability.  Six of Crows is on my To Buy list though, and it will be released soon and I'm super excited about it because, Grisha World!


Either way, I will be getting my hands on all of these books and I have already put Walk on Earth a Stranger on a library hold request.


And then there's:

Followed by Frost by Charlie N. Holmberg


This book isn't much of a squee, but I saw it on my book feed one day and thought the cover was pretty.  Then I read the summary and became interested.  Holmberg is the author of The Paper Magician trilogy, another series I've been eyeing for its interesting premise as well as fairly positive reviews.



October Books

Here is where all the real squeeing is happening.


Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff



Fear the Dark by Kay Hooper

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)

Seduction Game by Pamela Clare



I already have Fear the Dark on a library hold request--the book was on order at my library since the beginning of August, I think and I got really excited about it.  The fortunate thing is that there will be multiple copies for each of the seven library branches in the city, I believe, so I won't be in line for long.  I will have caught up to the most recent Bishop/SCU installment by then, so reading will be smooth.


I plan on purchasing The Immortal Heights and Seduction Game as soon as they are available through Kindle.  Pamela Clare books have become sort of an auto-buy for me, and since I already own the first two Elemental Trilogy books by Sherry Thomas, it would be strange NOT to buy the last one, especially since I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.


I have this strange need to purchase Illuminae as a hard copy, bound book, whether as a paperback or a hard cover, if only because of the way the book's cover was designed.  I must get my hands on it purely for aesthetic reasons.


The rest of the October books, I'll be content to also put on library request holds, but I WILL have them when they are available for check-out!


And then there's:

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks



Again, this isn't so much a squee as it is an "I DO look forward to this book's release, but I'm not going to jump through fire to get my hands on it right away" type of anticipation.  As the KGI series is quite one of my guilty pleasure series, I be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the newest installment.  I still have one more book to read before getting to Darkest Before Dawn, though.  But ever since the character of Hancock turned out to be some kind of secretly altruistic hero in spite of his questionable tactics, I've been interested.  So I'm curious to see what this book brings us on this character who's always just lurked in the background.



And then for good measure here are the November Books and one December Book

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Soundless by Richelle Mead


(no cover yet)

What the Dead Know by Kylie Brant



I will be buying Winter; that's a given.  I will also be buying What the Dead Know; that is also a given.  I am still considering Soundless, though.





What's everyone else looking forward to for this last stretch of 2015?  I'm sure a lot more books will ping on my radar as the year comes to a close, but these are the ones I'm most looking forward to reading (for now, cause who knows what other awesome author will come up with something new later)--and soon I hope.


Hope everyone's reading year has been sailing smooth.



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