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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-08-31 13:00
Brief, Final Thoughts: Endsinger
Endsinger - Jay Kristoff


by Jay Kristoff
Book 3 (final) of The Lotus War trilogy


**This is the last book in the series.  The summary blurb and review will contain material that gives away pertinent information from previous books.  Continue at your own risk, or skip this review until you've read all books.


The flames of civil war sweep across the Shima Imperium.  With their plans to renew the Kazumitsu dynasty foiled, the Lotus Guild unleash their deadliest creation—a mechanical goliath known as the Earthcrusher, intended to unite the shattered Empire under a yoke of fear.  With the Tiger Clan and their puppet Daimyo Hiro in tow, the Guild marches toward a battle for absolute dominion over the Isles.

Yukiko and Buruu are forced to take leadership of the Kagé rebellion, gathering new allies and old friends in an effort to unite the country against the chi-mongers.  But the ghosts of Buruu’s past stand between them and the army they need, and Kin’s betrayal has destroyed all trust among their allies.  When a new foe joins the war tearing the Imperium apart, it will be all the pair can do to muster the strength to fight, let alone win.

The traitor Kin walks the halls of Guild power, his destiny only a bloody knife-stroke away.  Hana and Yoshi struggle to find their place in a world now looking to them as heroes.  Secret cabals within the Lotus Guild claw and struggle; one toward darkness, the other toward light.  And as the earth splits asunder, as armies destroy each other for rule over an empire of lifeless ash and the final secret about blood lotus is revealed, the people of Shima will learn one last, horrifying truth.

There is nothing a mother won't do to keep her children by her side.


I'm finally done.  This last concluding book of The Lotus War trilogy was more enjoyable to read than the previous book, Kinslayer, but not by much.  The dramatics just keep rolling in, and I might have skimmed a lot of the last few chapters.

Anyway, I really don't know what else to say about this book, and this series in general, except that I'm kind of relieved I'm done with the trilogy.

It's not a terrible series, but it really just wasn't for me.  Aside from the hot mess that was Kinslayer, I think the rest of the trilogy really just suffered from being a bit over-hyped.  Yes, it's very creative and imaginative.  Kristoff really is quite creative and imaginative.  His writing is excellent if only he didn't get so carried away with words and details to the point of redundancy.  A lot of this book felt like it was quite unnecessary, which made the book feel long just for the sake of being long.

But overall, it could have been a very enjoyable book, minus all the dramatics.  Though I suppose some people go for that--I'm not one of them.

On a side note, there were probably two characters I really liked in this entire story: Hana and Michi.  But both of these girls kind of get cheated in their endings, so I don't know how to feel about that.

The romance felt over-dramatic and I honestly could have done without.  As I'd stated in my review of Kinslayer, I don't even remember there being any declarations of love or deep feelings and emotions being thrown around from Stormdancer, but a lot of the chaos really DID hinge on the fact that our main characters were feeling betrayed by people they had "loved," so I'm just going to blow over that one and move on.

Finally, I feel like if there were going to be big dramatics and gory deaths and stuff like that, then Kaori shouldn't have gotten such an easy end.  She was just plain spiteful and mean throughout all three books, and NOTHING about her past history associated with the shogunate--none of those little flashbacks you get about Kaori's life before she was forced to join the rebels--made me feel any more sympathetic about her reasons for being hateful and mean.

But she gets her Happily Ever After™ while everyone else suffers their losses.

She wasn't responsible for much of the chaos, but she didn't do anything to help.  She was hateful and mean because she was a spoiled brat who didn't get her way.  Period.

As for our main triangle-not-quite-triangle... I didn't care for it.  Moving along, I didn't care for the relationship between Yukiko and Buruu much either.  Yes, it's kind of cool, but their thoughts and dialogue got mushy to the point of cringe-worthy cheese, because who talks like that?  I've only seen dialogue like that in badly written romances.

On the other hand, Hana's relationship with Kaiah was actually kind of cool.  Because they didn't have as much cheese in their dialogues with each other.  Even Yoshi wasn't so bad either.  But I never understood the significance of all his side tangents and how they contributed to this overly long story.

And while we were on the subject of dialogue:  The dialogue spoken by the characters were hard to follow.  One moment we're sounding like a fantasy, with awkwardly poetic sentences that remind me of badly translated Asian phrases.  The next moment we have more modern colloquial speech with the back and forth bantering between characters.

The quality was extremely jarring and made it hard to focus... or even take all the tragic darkness of the events in this book very seriously.

So, okay, I guess I could think of more to say about this book than I'd thought.

And on that note, we're turning the page and moving on.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/brief-final-thoughts-endsinger.html
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review 2016-08-31 02:12
Very Brief Thoughts: Not Another Blind Date... (anthology)
Not Another Blind Date.. - Jo Leigh,Janelle Denison,Leslie Kelly

Not Another Blinde Date... anthology

Authors Include:  Janelle Denison, Leslie Kelly, Jo Leigh

Average Rating:  3.0 Stars
-- Personal Rating:  3.0 Stars



These Valentine's Day dates have all the markings of blind-date disaster! Or do they?

"Skin Deep" by Janelle Denison
Who says nice girls can't have fun?  And Jayne does--dirty dancing and a lot more!--with a hot bad boy one night.  Still, it was a onetime thing.  Really!  But when she's set up on a blind date with her sexy stranger, she realizes Cupid must have other ideas...

"Hold On" by Leslie Kelly
Shy Sarah Holt has a bad case of unrequited lust.  She's hopelessly enamored with a client--sexy Steve Wilshire.  So, when she gets the chance to impersonate the very kissable doctor's blind date, she takes it....and has the most torrid night of her sheltered life.  But will Steve still be "holding on" when the truth comes out?

"Ex Marks the Spot" by Jo Leigh
Oh, no.  Paige Callahan just got set up on a blind date--arranged by her ex-boyfriend!  But potential catastrophe turns into flirty fun--and then some!--when she meets sexy, very wealthy Noah Hastings.

-- Skin Deep by Janelle Denison | 3.0 Stars
-- Hold On by Leslie Kelly | 3.5 Stars
-- Ex Marks the Spot by Jo Leigh | 2.5 Stars

This was a cute little romance anthology to pass the time, especially when you're in a reading slump and you just need a fluff piece to keep you going.  Some of the ideals and scenes and dialogue in these novellas felt a little dated, but this IS a category romance from Harlequin Blaze, so I don't ever expect much from them aside from a cute little romance.  And that's exactly what I got, so I'm content.

Leslie Kelly's novella was my favorite of the three and showcased what I love so much about her writing.  It kind of reminds me of a romantic comedy movie, actually; especially the ending that's all giddy and cute and sweet, but not drawn out or cheesy.

Janelle Denison is a new author I've never read before, but I really DID enjoy Skin Deep, even if there were a few things I didn't quite care for, such as the drawn out angst.

I've read Jo Leigh before in another anthology, but I don't remember anything about what I'd read.  So she's still akin to a new-to-me author for me.  To be honest, her story felt boring.

Anyway...  Again, this is a nice romance collection to pass the time with, if you want so good fluff.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/very-brief-thoughts-not-another-blind.html
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review 2016-08-31 02:07
Very Brief Thoughts: Connecting Rooms (novella)
Connecting Rooms - Jayne Ann Krentz

Connecting Rooms

by Jayne Ann Krentz

This novella was alright. Nothing interesting.  Very straight forward story with little development and the same ol', same ol' type of romance and couple chemistry.  Nothing to write home about, but it did okay as a story to pass the time with.  I needed something to get my mind off of other books I was struggling through at the moment.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Two | Square Y23 -- Romance

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/very-short-thought-connecting-rooms.html
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review 2016-08-31 02:04
Review: Chill Factor
Chill Factor - Sandra Brown

Chill Factor

by Sandra Brown

Five women are missing from the sleepy mountain town of Cleary, North Carolina, and a blue ribbon has been left near where each woman was last seen.  Lilly Martin has returned to Cleary to close the sale of her cabin.  But when her car skids and strikes a stranger, Ben Tierney, as he emerges from the woods, they've no choice but to wait out a brutal blizzard in the cabin.  And as the hours of their confinement mount, Lilly wonders if the greater threat to her safety isn't the storm, but the stranger beside her... 

There must be something about these popular, beloved authors that I have bad luck with.  Sandra Brown is touted as one of the genre's "queens", alongside others like Nora Roberts or Linda Howard.  The first book I picked up by Linda Howard had been a flop as well.

Chill Factor wasn't a terrible book or anything; I guess I was just a bit underwhelmed by it.  So in accordance with the GR rating scale, it gets a rating slightly higher than the 2-star "It was okay."  In other words, this was also a 'meh' book--I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it.

My issues?  I had trouble liking any of the characters, and the progression felt dragged out.  The book was written well, and I can kind of see where the secret reveals are supposed to create some kind of "gasp, whoa!" reaction... but I found some of the secret reveals and surprises not quite so incredible.  In fact, the latent patterns of this book's progression pretty much give away the "whodunnit," as well as every other secret reveals there happened to be.

There were too many despicable characters in this book, which kind of turned me off.  And there were some "WTF" moments that made little sense to me.

I'm also a little iffy about the fact that the men in this book are constantly cheating on their wives or treating all the women like crap, but there are no smack downs or standing up to them or the like.  Is this a small town thing?  Or is it a general relationship thing?

In fact, Lilly being the strong, independent woman she is, I would have expected her to have left her ex-husband, Dutch, when she found out he was cheating on her even before they were having marital problems.  Her final reason for filing divorce was definitely a MUST, because WTF!  But it just seemed like a cheating spouse, and a deteriorating relationship wasn't reason enough for her to walk away.  It took something THAT drastic to make her act.

The same with Mrs. Hamer: Her husband being an arrogant prick who talked down to her, treated her terribly, and cheated on her (with teenagers, nonetheless!), and who also didn't seem to really care about how far he was pushing his own son--she didn't even consider a divorce until something terrible and life-altering happens at the end.

Nobody even bothers trying to tell these men to quit being jackasses.


Nonetheless, this book was written well, and it kept my attention.  The main characters, Lilly and Tierney, were hard to like both because their story seemed to drag out longer than necessary, and also because they were just simply not great characters, and their actions were questionable and their logic was fuzzy.  This could have been a great snowbound story, but the execution was less than desirable.

The side characters were kind of interesting, but only slightly more so.  And then there were some tangents that gave me pause, because I couldn't quite determine whether they were supposed to be significant to the main conflict or not.

I will read another Sandra Brown book, if only because I can see why she's such a beloved author, judging by her writing style.  I suppose I just need to pick the right book for that second chance read.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Two | Square C6 -- Thriller

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/review-chill-factor.html
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review 2016-08-31 01:56
Thoughts: Working Stiff
Working Stiff - Annelise Ryan

Working Stiff

by Annelise Ryan
Book 1 of Mattie Winston Mystery

When Mattie Winston catches her husband Dr. David Winston receiving some very special loving care from R.N. Karen Owenby, she quits her job and moves out.  Mattie's best friend Izzy offers her a place to stay and suggests she'd be a natural as deputy coroner.  Now, instead of taking patients' pulses, Mattie's weighing their hearts and livers.

But Mattie's first homicide call turns out to be for none other than Nurse Karen, and even though she saw her ex in a heated argument with the newly deceased the night before, she refuses to believe David could be a killer.  Keeping mum about what she saw, Mattie is also left speechless by the sight of hunky Detective Steve Hurley...

From learning the ropes on her new job to sorting out her feelings about her ex and dealing with her growing attraction to Detective Hurley, Mattie's in deep water and in danger of sinking quickly, especially when she places herself dead center in the path of a desperate yet determined killer.

This is a cute and fun start to a potentially winning cozy mystery series.  There are still some things about the characters and the story that fell short, but all-in-all, I very much enjoyed myself.  In fact, I had my heart set on reading a different book and finishing it before moving onto Working Stiff, but as soon as I started reading this one, I couldn't stop.

Mattie is a funny, readily related to main character with her clumsy foibles and her wild imaginations.  She is very real, very down-to-earth, and absolutely NOT perfect.  She is also quick on her feet and resourceful.  Though if I had to nitpick anything about her, it would be her one-tracked obsession with Detective Steve Hurley.

She has another flaw, which I can totally forgive her for if only because she's new at her job and kind of got hoisted into it by her best friend.  She kind of sucks at the investigating thing, because her tact at questioning people tend toward the "let's just give them the entire story and see what they know."  Which, if you've read enough crime thrillers, law enforcement officers hold back a lot of vital information when they interview people for very significant reasons.  You don't want to give away anything that could potentially screw up an investigation by either tipping off the culprit, or creating a copy cat to muck things up.

But Mattie seems to be find just handing over every bit of information she has to anyone she talks to.  She's going to have to learn discretion, really...

So hopefully, in the next few books to come, Mattie will get more training and pick up a feel for doing her job a bit better.

Except for the fact that she's not a detective and it makes me a bit nervous that she decided to take on investigating this case personally.

Her need to show up Detective Hurley by solving the murder case before he did was a bit childish, because so many things could go wrong.  And seeing as how she's not a trained professional in law enforcement, in real life, this could have opened up a whole can of worms for throwing evidence out of court.  But this ties in with her obsession with Detective Hurley, which was cute at first, but turned into a really badly handled passive-aggressive cat fight between her and any other woman showing the least bit of interest in him.

It makes me cringe a little.  As realistic as the situation is, it bugged me a little bit that she was more concerned about looking good in front of the detective than anything else.  I mean, there's more to life than romance and men, and while I am a devoted romance reader, I tend to get a little irritated when the main character's thoughts keep coming back to her love interest at the most inappropriate moments.

Especially when said love interest really has nothing going for him aside from being a good-looking man.  Because, really, Steve Hurley was no different than any other "love interest of the week" out there.  And until he proves to be anything different than just another good-looking man, I'm really not that interested.

On the other hand, I'm really digging the mentor-apprentice relationship between Mattie and Izzy.  I love all the technical forensic lingo and all the little details that Mattie is learning about as she steps into her new position of deputy coroner.

The few really dark, sad parts of the book near the end is what really made me cement this as a series I will continue to read.  And I'm not saying this because I'm sadistic or anything.  It brings out a different, more serious side of Mattie to balance out that wacky, trouble-making side of her that is probably inserted into the character bio as a point of comedic relief.

Because that particular character trait is just always part of so many main characters in some of the cozies I've read to date, and it really DOES get old.  It's not always cute for your main female character to be klutzy or to generally bumble into things and screw shit up.  Yes.  I DO enjoy the occasional, endearing troublemaker, because goodness knows I don't get along with Mary Sues either.  But to make it a consistent, running gag can really rankle; especially if it's done on purpose just to make the main character seem cute.  Or to make the perfect love interest seem even more perfect.  Or to give said perfect love interest a reason to swoop in and save the day.

But anyway, enough of that...

Working Stiff really is an entertaining and enjoyable first book in this series, and I definitely look forward to reading more, with hopes of seeing some progressive development from Mattie, now that she can start a new chapter in her life.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/thoughts-working-stiff.html
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