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review 2016-09-29 12:00
Short Review: The Adventure of the Speckled Band
The Adventure of the Speckled Band - Annotated Version (Focus on Sherlock Holmes) - Sidney Paget,George Cavendish, Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Short #8 from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
-- Book 3 of Sherlock Holmes
*Audio Part from The Complete Sherlock Holmes | Narrated by Simon Vance


Said to Dr. Watson:

I shall be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket.  An Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel pikes into knots.  That and a tooth-brush are, I think, all that we need.

They sure do travel light.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band is a very short mystery involving the unexplained death of a woman, and her mysterious parting words to her twin sister:

‘Oh, my God!  Helen!  It was the band!  The speckled band!’

And so Helen Stoner consults with Sherlock Holmes to investigate the reason behind her twin sister, Julia's death--a tragic event that happened right before the victim's wedding.

As far as mysteries go, this one wasn't all that difficult to ascertain the main culprit.  In fact, I'm of the impression that there hadn't even been any conscious effort to keep readers in the dark about who killed Julia Stoner.  I figure that the 'how she was killed' was the true mystery.

Nonetheless, this is a short and enjoyable story, written charmingly, and again show-casing the arrogant cleverness of Sherlock Holmes.

On a side note: This is the second Sherlock story I've read--actually I listened to The Complete Sherlock Holmes audio book narrated by Simon Vance.  A rather nice way to pass the time when you have multitasking to do and want to listen to a short story.

But that's a moot point.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge
2016 Halloween Bingo




Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/short-review-adventure-of-speckled-band.html
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review 2016-09-28 13:00
Thoughts: Truly, Madly
Truly, Madly - Heather Webber

Truly, Madly

by Heather Webber
Book 1 of Lucy Valentine



Lucy Valentine is as smart as can be, as single as you can get, and so not qualified to run a matchmaking service.  But when her parents temporarily step down from the family business, Valentine, Inc., it’s Lucy’s turn to step up and help out—in the name of love.

Plus, her rent is due.

Here’s the problem: Lucy doesn’t have the knack for matchmaking.  According to family legend, every Valentine has been blessed by Cupid with the ability to read “auras” and pair up perfect couples.  But not Lucy.  Her skills were zapped away years ago in an electrical surge, and now all she can do is find lost objects.  What good is that in the matchmaking world?  You’d be surprised.  In a city like Boston, everyone’s looking for something.  So when Lucy locates a missing wedding ring—on a dead body—she asks the sexy private eye who lives upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime.  And who knows?  Maybe she’ll find the perfect love while she’s at it...

Truly, Madly is an extremely enjoyable start to a cute cozy mystery series.  I loved all the characters, and while I typically don't have any good feelings about the male love interests, Sean Donahue actually turned out quite charming.  Lucy Valentine is an interesting character with an interesting psychic ability, and while I thought the way in which her secret was revealed to the world was a little too comical for my liking, I like the direction the entire series is taking.

Lucy is a great main character to follow and I enjoy her resourcefulness and her determination.  I also feel I like her reasons behind why she would readily take over her father's business even without the requisite aura-seeing abilities.  I like seeing the more vulnerable side of her she shows, admitting how she really feels about not having those aura-seeing abilities, and instead has a psychic ability that can only find inanimate objects belonging to people who are actually thinking about said inanimate object.

This shows in those moments when she truly feels her abilities are useless to help find the lost little boy because she cannot find actual living beings.


Lucy's parents were just strange, and I might have some issue with how they kind of just skip town.   The other characters introduced also have a lot of potential for great things in future installments: Lucy's two best friends, Marisol and Emerson; Detective Aiden Holliday; Butch, the not quite butcher who looks like Matt Damon; Dovie, Lucy's paternal grandmother; Raphael, the driver; and many, many more.  I like a good series with a lot of great characters to play off of!

I'd love to see more of all of these characters, because they were quite glossed over.  You get to meet them, but you don't really get to know them yet, and I'd love to get to know all of these characters.

And there were animals!  I love a good story with lots of animals, and there are three: Odysseus, the one eye'd hamster; Grendel, the three-legged cat; and Thoreau, the tiny three-pound Yorkie.  The use of literary figures to name their pets felt a little pretentious, but I'll ignore that, because who am I to question what you name your pets, right?   But Lucy's penchant for doing difficult math problems when she's nervous felt a little awkward, if only because I'd probably only stress myself out trying to figure out long division. Because I don't like math.

The murder mystery was serviceable, if a little predictable. So I'm not complaining.  In fact, I liked the side tangent of Lucy finding the Little Boy Lost more than I liked the murder mystery.

I will definitely be reading more from this series and maybe even more from this author as well.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
2016 Halloween Bingo




Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/thoughts-truly-madly.html
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text 2016-09-28 06:30
2016 Reading Assignment Challenge -- Third Quarterly Report Card


hosted by


July ramblings:  There's really not much to say about July.  It was a semi-good reading month and I kept up with my Reading Assignment books.  That's all, really.

August ramblings:  A lot of the same stuff from previous months.  Though I DID sort of make myself finish reading a book I had very little motivation to read.  But we made it and that's all that matters to me.  At least now I can focus on books that I'm more interested in reading.

September ramblings:  To be totally honest, I had a slightly flustered time of trying to figure out which books to read this month.  With Halloween Bingo looming on the horizon pre-September, I needed to figure out the best reading strategy to both satisfy my Reading Assignment necessities as well as maybe get a bingo.  But in the end, I couldn't quite make both work, so I settled with finishing my Reading Assignment books first, then working on Bingo obligations--after all, I have more chances for Bingo drawings in the future, and my library books were due.  And ultimately, I enjoyed myself, because all the books I read this month for Reading Assignment were enjoyable ones.  That's always a plus.



Third Quarter:  COMPLETED -- 9/10/2016
My Grade: I Made an A!


Third Quarterly Report Card link upBecause Reading


  • In July:


See Also:  My TBR List for July 2016 Voting // Winning Book



  • In August:


See Also:  My TBR List for August 2016 Voting // Winning Book
See Also:  Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge



  • In September:


See Also:  Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2016



A Summary


As I stated in the September Ramblings above, I had a hard time trying to figure out which books to read for the months of September and October that could also crossover as Halloween Bingo books.  After all, twenty-five books in two months (average 12.5 books per month) doesn't feel like a lot (not considering my normal average), but I didn't want to push my luck.  So I tried to see what I could insert from my Reading Assignment list that could also double as a Halloween Bingo book.

I came up with five books, slightly taking liberties with the Bingo Free Space and inserting a mystery for good measure.  In fact, probably only one or two of the books I picked for Bingo were actually Halloween-themed or horror-types, so I kind of took liberties with about all of my books.

This third quarter was a good one for Reading Assignment, to be honest.  And it was made possible thanks to the mid-year book swap-out that we were allowed.  I already read two of the books I swapped-in, as you can see (Chill Factor and Sleep with the Lights On).  I also managed to get myself to finish the Lotus War trilogy, thus successfully putting THAT series behind me and fulfilling one more book in my Reading Assignment list.



A Forecast


Last quarter ahead with no more books to choose from... well, except for each month.  I've tentatively allocated the rest of my Reading Assignment book list into the last three months.  'Tentative' being the keyword--although I cannot swap out anymore books, I can rearrange the reading order however it is needed.  But to be honest, I doubt that will happen.

(Book covers link to GR book page.)


Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden
Voodoo or Die by Stephanie Bond
Far Gone by Laura Griffin
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville


All Fall Down by Julie Bellon Coulter
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Whirlpool by Elizabeth Lowell


My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe
Confessions by Cynthia Eden
The Witness by Nora Roberts
Delicious by Sherry Thomas

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/2016-reading-assignment-challenge-third.html
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review 2016-09-28 04:30
Thoughts: Slow Burn
Slow Burn: A Colorado High Country Novel - Pamela Clare

Slow Burn

by Pamela Clare
Book 2 of Colorado High Country

Let's be frank here:  Pamela Clare is an auto-buy author for me.  She's an auto-buy author as well as an auto-read author.

At least the contemporary stuff she's written so far has been quickly added to my library and devoured--I haven't exactly gone back over her historical back list yet.  And while her books have the tendency to get a little overly cheesy and overly schmaltzy sometimes, Pamela Clare has sentimental value.

Her I-Team series was the very first set of Romantic Suspense series I truly fell in love with.  And with that, it got me catapulted into the entire genre, finding myself a sweet little comfort zone for my reading life.

But that's not all.  Pamela Clare books are auto-buy for me because I've always found I love the characters she creates and the suspenseful situations she creates.

Slow Burn doesn't prove too differently.  Although Slow Burn also proves the power of a beloved author versus average presentation of a potentially fun and sexy contemporary romance.

The Blurb:

Victoria Woodley is done with men.  Fresh off a dating nightmare, she flies from her home in Chicago to Scarlet Springs to take part in her best friend’s wedding.  Who picks her up at the airport?  Eric Hawke.  Of course.  She made a fool of herself over him last time she was here.  He’s cocky, charming, and sexy as sin.  But the fact that she’s attracted to him is all the proof she needs that he’s bad news.  She would ignore him if she could.  But he’s the best man, and she’s the maid of honor.  She can’t just tell him to jump in a lake—especially not when her lips are locked with his.

Eric isn’t looking for a relationship.  Between running the firehouse and volunteering for the county’s search and rescue team, he has enough on his plate.  He doesn’t need to get tangled up with a woman from the big city, especially one whose idea of roughing it is going without designer coffee.  Yet from the moment he looks into Victoria’s big brown eyes, the attraction he feels is too strong to deny.  Faster than he can imagine, the spark of desire that has smoldered between them since the first day they met will flare into full-blown passion.

But can Eric convince Victoria to set aside her doubts and trust him with her heart before their time together runs out?

My Thoughts:
Slow Burn is written well, easy to read, and fast-paced, as Pamela Clare is wont to present.  The premise is a cute one with a lot of potential between Victoria who has a really bad incident occur in her life recently, and Eric who just naturally wants to take care of everyone in his life even if he won't admit it.  It's a typical hero and damsel story, but with a modern twist and lots of sexy times involved.

And also, Victoria's a pretty cool Mary Sue of epic proportions... y'know, for a Mary Sue.  Except for that little miscommunication and jumping to conclusions deal in the short first chapter back story of one year ago, Victoria's alright.  She and Eric end up having an excellent, chemistry-laden relationship wherein they are extremely in lust with each other, but are both trying to hang on to that "we're just friends" lie.

I'm sure everyone--readers and our main couple--were both relieved when the two finally gave into their carnal desires and jumped each others' bones.

Anyway, as far as romances go, this wasn't the most unique story in the world, nor did I expect it to be.  Victoria and Eric are both good people, and the little community of Scarlet Springs is a wonderful place for any small town love story to take place.  So I liked it.  It's a typical tried-and-true formula from a beloved author.

And sometimes that's enough for me.

To top it off, while a little outrageous, Lexi and Austin's "One Week of Pre-Wedding Festivities" sounded like a whole lot of fun.  I don't know anyone in my life, personally, who'd be able to afford all of that fun, but I guess it would be akin to just having a vacation in one's own home considering there's so much to do around the area: white water rafting, mountain hiking, a night out on the town, a climbing gym in a bar, etc....

One of the little quibbles I had were the forced "extreme situations" that kind of happened near the end.  I'm hesitant to say that Pamela manages better with her romantic suspenses, because I DO still enjoy these contemporary romances set in little Scarlet Springs, as there seems to be plenty of action going on a mountain town without needing to factor in a serial killer or terrorist attack.  I don't know if we need to include these extreme situations, though I suppose stuff like getting shoved in front of a moving vehicle CAN happen in real life without the premise being specific to romantic suspense.

Peaceful is kind of nice, sometimes.

The schmaltz that is standard Pamela Clare, however, seems to have resurfaced after being kind of absent in the last three books publish of hers that I read.  It's not in full force, but it's tell-tale signs are there.


"Firemen are my favorite color."

Yes, Victoria. They most certainly are. =-)


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/thoughts-slow-burn.html
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review 2016-09-28 02:21
Short Review: A Study in Scarlet
A Study In Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Book 1 of Sherlock Holmes
*Audio Part from The Complete Sherlock Holmes | Narrated by Simon Vance



In the debut of literature's most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton.  The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio's Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall.  With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge--and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

I have to be honest.  I'm a fan of Simon Vance's narrations and so there's a big possibility that a lot of my enjoyment of this first Sherlock Holmes might have been thanks to his fabulous performance.

I understand that Sherlock Holmes is a celebrated fictional figure in literature.  But to be totally honest, while the book was easy to follow with some very clever quips and ideas, it didn't escape my notice that the progression of A Study in Scarlet was a little confusing and messy.  The mystery was standard, as far as murder mysteries go, so I had little complaint about it.  I never realized, having never read any Sherlock Holmes in the past--that most of the books were told in Dr. Watson's point of view.  I think that's a nice touch, because Sherlock himself comes off as a bit of an arrogant prat.  And grumpy.

But the introduction of these two characters was actually pretty fast-paced and interesting.  The entire story was progressing amiably... then all of a sudden we're in Utah with Mormons and a lot of creepy things are happening... and I kind of got lost.  I eventually understood the point of the Utah-Mormon setting, but it felt very abrupt and broken.

The idea wasn't unique or strange, though.  And it came around to tie everything together.

But really?  I think Sherlock would be every modern detective and crime scene investigator's worst nightmare really.  And profilers all around, BEWARE.

Nonetheless...  I'm still ready for my next Sherlock adventure.  =D


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/short-review-study-in-scarlet.html
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