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review 2017-05-22 03:18
Brief Thoughts: Under the Mistletoe
Under the Mistletoe - Jill Shalvis

Under the Mistletoe

by Jill Shalvis

Lucky Harbor #6.5 (novella)

 

 

JUST ONE MORE KISS

There's no place like home for the holidays.  And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer.  But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright.  Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet.  But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season.  Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do.  If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.



I feel a little mean giving this novella such a meh rating, especially since it DOES also give us a brief glimpse of Chloe and Sawyer--my utmost favorite Lucky Harbor couple.  Unfortunately, the glimpse is simply too brief for my liking.

I know, I know.  Chloe and Sawyer already got their book.  This novella is about Mia and Nick.

It's a cutesy and teeth-achingly sweet short romance story, but the events and our main couple's behavior was so over-dramatic that I found myself rolling my eyes on several occasions.  To be totally honest, I was never really able to relate with Tara and Ford's daughter, Mia in the third Lucky Harbor book--her development wasn't entirely fleshed out.  And while I'm glad that she gets a nice Happily Ever After in a short story, I don't feel like this story was totally necessary.

AND it infringed upon Chloe and Sawyer's wedding day as well, which makes me a bit disappointed.  As my favorite Lucky Harbor couple, I would have liked for these two to get a special epilogue or novella for their wedding...

Er... yeah...  Moving along...

Anyway, like I said, the novella is cute and sweet, but I just couldn't find myself understanding what the conflict truly was, though I DO see what we were trying to make of the conflict.  That whole thing where Mia was always the one to pick the people in her life and never the other way around, and for once, she wanted someone to pick her.

Except, as an adopted child, even with feelings of abandonment, it doesn't escape my notice that... well, didn't her adoptive parents pick her to be a daughter, part of their lives?

Anyway, this short seemed like a pretty flimsy plot, with some super cheesy dialogue in the end when Nick was trying to win Mia back.  Still, once again, it's cute and it's sweet, so we get points for that.

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/brief-thoughts-under-mistletoe.html
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review 2017-05-22 03:10
Thoughts: Forever and a Day
Forever and a Day - Jill Shalvis

Forever and a Day

by Jill Shalvis

Book 6 of Lucky Harbor

 


While there were a lot of things about this book that bugged me, such as some characters' behaviors, or the almost too deliberate "Meant to Be" vibe coming off our couple in spades--actions, thoughts, and dialogue from both Grace's and Josh's POVs overtly mirroring each other--I found that I actually, really enjoyed this book.

Nonetheless, there were still a lot of loose ends left unwrapped, and some side tangents left unfollowed.  I feel satisfied, but at the same time... well, not quite.  If ya know what I mean.


The Story:
Grace has spent her entire life trying to live up to her adoptive parents' standards, the two of them being rocket scientist over-acheivers.  While she cannot follow in her parents' footsteps to take on a career in the sciences, Grace has found her niche in numbers, financials, accounting... the like, and is determined to be the most successful financial manager for any prospective business that will hire her.  Unfortunately, her goals are dashed when she takes a position in Seattle, only to find that her boss is more interested in what she can do for him on a more personal level, if she wants to keep rising in her field.  With that, Grace walks away from that job and arrived in Lucky Harbor, hoping to find herself and figure out what her next steps will be.

In the meantime, she finds herself taking up all forms of odd end jobs in order to survive her day-to-day, including an impromptu dog-walker job for Lucky Harbor's favorite young doctor, Joshua Scott.  In no time, she's also babysitting Dr. McHottie's son, trying to help counsel his paraplegic baby sister, and generally worming her way into somehow managing to help organize his personal life for him.

After all, as an ER doctor who also inherited his father's practice, Josh doesn't seem to be able to find an extra hour anywhere in his day to spend with his sister or his son; something that has been looming over him as a source of regret.  But Grace's presence seems to start a cascade of change in his life; not only is he uncontrollably attracted to her, but her passion for everything she does seems to help him figure out how to finally balance his work and personal life...

... or something like that...


My Thoughts:
There's no good way to really summarize a book when, to be totally honest, very little happens outside of the developments between our main couple.  Sure, there are also developments between Josh and his sister, but those almost feel picked over in favor of the romance.  And then there's even the nonexistent interactions between Grace and her parents--I would have really loved to have seen something happen between them, such as an understanding that Grace doesn't have to become as "perfect" as her rocket scientist parents.  But this subject was never really touched upon outside of Grace's own misgivings and self-doubts.

I would have loved to see that maybe Grace's adoptive parents were never truly that stuck on Grace being the best or the perfect, ambitious over achiever.  I would have loved to see whether or not all of these obligations she's set for herself, were maybe just her own, and not her parents'.

Coming back to the relationship between Josh and his sister, Anna--the story behind the animosity stems from Anna's anger after a tragic car accident that kills the Scott parents and leaves Anna paralyzed.  But as we can see, Anna seems perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but has made it her life's mission to make her elder brother miserable in order to sate her feelings of anger, unable to truly express her self-doubt about her own life.

I thought there could have been so much more development between these two; a way in which they could come to some sort of understanding.  After the death of their parents, Josh was also thrown into a whirlwind of chaos, because not long before his parents died, he was left with little Toby when the little boy's mother walks away, never looking back.  On top of that, Josh had just started his career as a doctor.

The two Scott siblings had so much going on between the two of them, in their lives, and to add onto that, we learn that they are too stubborn for their own good to initiate taking a step towards working out their issues and fixing their relationship.

Even with Grace's presence as a catalyst, I think there could have been so much more potential between Josh and Anna's sibling relationship development.  The version in this book feels kind of deflated, truth be told.

Anyway, Jill Shalvis still manages to deliver a very enjoyable romance, though she DOES tend to focus too much on the romance, at the detriment of other tangential story lines that would have been awesome if expanded upon.

Nonetheless, Forever and a Day is probably my favorite of this second trio of books in the Lucky Harbor series.  Grace's unabashed show of ogling and groping Josh was actually kind of entertaining.  This is one couple whose romantic development actually felt fairly down-to-earth, with an insta-lust slowly growing into a full blown relationship, and then to love.

It's just unfortunate that their relationship still suffers from that same ailment that all romance novel couples suffer from--lack of proper communication.  No matter that Grace DOES spend a lot of time trying to pry into Josh's stubborn, tight-lipped secrets, whether to be helpful in figuring out how to take care of him and his family, or just out of pure curiosity.  The two still spend a lot of time second-guessing what each other want for their lives without once trying to talk it out until the end.

Meanwhile, Anna tended to get on my nerves with her bratty behavior--some of it that could have even been quite dangerous to a five year old little boy--and so did the way that Josh treated her.  These siblings could really use some good counseling, mainly on how to stop purposefully pissing each other off.  Then again, being one fourth of a set of siblings myself, I know perfectly well that there is no such thing as logical discussion when it comes to siblings and rivalry and the like.  Sometimes, you just fight for the stupidest reasons... because you can.  It's what siblings do.  Because at the end of the day, you're still related to each other.

On a side note, the best part of this book was probably the ornery duo of Josh's son, Toby, and their little devil of a pug puppy, Tank.  These two were so much adorbs that I couldn't help smiling every time they presented in the story!

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/thoughts-forever-and-day.html
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review 2017-05-20 21:10
Brief Thoughts: A Kiss for Midwinter (novella)
A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) - Courtney Milan

 A Kiss for Midwinter

by Courtney Milan

Brothers Sinister #1.5 (novella)

 

 

Miss Lydia Charingford is always cheerful, and never more so than at Christmas time.  But no matter how hard she smiles, she can't forget the youthful mistake that could have ruined her reputation.  Even though the worst of her indiscretion was kept secret, one other person knows the truth of those dark days: the sarcastic Doctor Jonas Grantham.  She wants nothing to do with him...or the butterflies that take flight in her stomach every time he looks her way.

Jonas Grantham has a secret, too: He's been in love with Lydia for more than a year.  This winter, he's determined to conquer her dislike and win her for his own.  It all starts with a wager and a kiss...



There was a lot about this novella that I loved, but then there were also a few things I didn't quite care for.  The characters were fun, up to a certain point, and while I DID sort of like their banter, it didn't escape my notice that both had a way of doing or saying things that kind of frustrated me.  Jonas tended towards condescending prick at times, but I DO like how straight-forward and no-nonsense he is.  Lydia got frustratingly irrational at the beginning, jumping to conclusions, and imagining slights where there were none; but she had her good moments as well.

I can't say that this was an entirely awesome and wonderful story, having recently coming off of the magnificent high that was The Duchess War.  Although since I hadn't been particularly enamored of the prequel novella, The Governess Affair, it wasn't like I was entirely disappointed.

Truth be told, while I did like Lydia from when she was simply a side character, as Minnie's best friend in the first book, I'm not quite sure I really needed a Lydia story.  I'm happy for her Happily Ever After, but I'm guessing I probably could have gone without this novella and would have been fine.

It was enjoyable to read, but nothing spectacular.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/brief-thoughts-kiss-for-midwinter.html
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review 2017-05-19 00:58
Thoughts: Two Guys Detective Agency
Two Guys Detective Agency - Stephanie Bond

Two Guys Detective Agency

by Stephanie Bond

Book 1 of Two Guys Detective Agency

 

 

Linda and Octavia are estranged sisters.  The stay-at-home mom and socialite have never had much in common...until now.  When they suddenly find themselves husband-less and broke, they reluctantly agree to combine their talents and take on a faltering P.I. agency in a strip mall.  Old emotional wounds keep the two at odds and both sisters think they've made a huge mistake. But soon they realize all their clients have secrets...and who better to help them than two women who have secrets of their own?



I think I had been expecting a whole lot more from this book than a simple teasing introduction.  While the book is tagged as a mystery, and the cover even suggests that this is a "Humorous Mystery Series," I certainly did not find any part of that title to be true.

It's probably why the series was renamed to simply Two Guys Detective Agency?  The concept was going to be a nice one, even if a little overdone.  Two sisters, down on their luck when they find themselves husband-less and broke, reluctantly team up to take on a private investigation agency.

The summary suggests so much more than what actually happens in the book.  We spend a good 60% of the book itself setting up the "What will Linda and Octavia do now?" part of their failing marriages and broken families.  And while I liked the whole aspect of them maybe finding a niche in taking over Linda's husband's investigation agency, starting off by helping him close a few domestic cases, the entirety of that story line maybe comprised about 10% of the book... if even that.

I was even hoping that maybe the two would stumble upon a criminal case and a murder and help solve that case, and maybe make a name for themselves.  But aside from closing a few insurance fraud cases, and maybe helping to find patient zero for a spreading STD case in a nursing home (the conclusion they came up with was both, a long stretch, and not at all able to be proven with anything but speculation), nothing that these two women do suggest that they are cut out for investigative work.

Which makes me extra resentful that I felt righteous indignation on their behalf that everyone else also snapped to the judgment that the two of them couldn't possibly be good investigators, for other reasons that I didn't like.  Because it's the truth, but the other people didn't know that they were doing a laughing-stock of a job being investigators.  They were just all, "Well, you're just a stay at home mom and wife.  What could you possibly know about investigative work?"

Anyway...

To be honest, Two Guys felt like a drawn out introductory of sorts.  The only true mystery was the question of what happened to Octavia's husband, Richard, and what he ended up getting himself involved in.  Then there was the very, very open-ended conclusion regarding Richard's dealings, which turned out much more chaotic than I had expect... and also wasn't quite concluded, if we were to really be honest with ourselves.

Virtually nothing is really solved in this book, but the characters convene and close out the story as if everything is just wrapped up nicely with a bow on top.  And I probably would have been less upset if everything had been wrapped up nicely with a bow on top.  But there are so many loose ends, and so many more questions that need to be answered, and even so many turn of events in the entire story that made absolutely no sense.

The missing case files that the D.A.'s office is still requesting from Linda's husband, Sullivan's agency and how they relate with a murder case labeled "Foxtrot" was never closed out.  The mysterious evidence bag that Richard left with the maid, who was then killed, and which now leads to an even bigger mysterious twist in the book was, again, also still left hanging.

Then there's the death of Linda's husband, Sullivan, which I kept getting vibes that there was much more to it than a simple heart attach.  I keep trying to connect the "Foxtrot" case with his death, and my line of thinking when it comes to crime thrillers, or even cozy mysteries, is that there is definitely a connection.

And then, for some reason, I find Dunk Duncan--the private investigator who works on more high-end cases--kind of shady.  Mainly, the fact that he offered to pick up all of Sullivan's open cases seemed a little sketchy to me.  Or maybe I'm just paranoid.  And then I'm even seeing some sketchiness in Detective Oakley Hall as well--something about him gives me bad vibes.

Unfortunately, as I already stated, there were so many things left unanswered, so many loose ends that had no tie up.  And the ending was so abrupt that it might as well have been a cliffhanger--it almost feels as if our author just sort of needed to wind things up and turn in a manuscript because she was meeting a deadline, and screw the quality of the book.

Anyway, I'm contemplating reading the next book whenever it finally gets published, though, to be honest, it's kind of a stretch, and I might just stop here.  Aside from the children and the dog, and maybe Brittany, the Waffle House waitress, I didn't really care for anyone else in this book.  Octavia was driving me insane with her self-absorbed selfishness, and Linda really, really needed to grow a backbone.

But I DO find the parallel of both women, having molded their entire lives around their respective husbands, then finding themselves in a quandary when they both lose their husbands, kind of a great premise to bounce off of.  If anything, it gave the two a chance to rekindle their estranged relationship.


***

 

Booklikes-opoly


Roll #10:
This book is tagged 'mystery' on GR.

Page Count:  255
Cash Award:  $3.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $53.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/thoughts-two-guys-detective-agency.html
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review 2017-05-18 19:28
Thoughts: The House at Riverton
The House at Riverton - Kate Morton

The House at Riverton
by Kate Morton

 

 

Grace Bradley was just a girl when she began working as a servant at Riverton House.  For years, her life was inextricably tied up with the glamorous and eccentric Hartford family's daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.  Then, at a glittering society party in the summer of 1924, a young poet shot himself.  The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline, and only they--and Grace--knew the dark truth.

Many years later, when Grace is living out her last days in a nursing home, she receives a visit from a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer.  The director takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories of the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege, of the vibrant twenties and of a stunning secret that Grace kept all her life.

A vivid, page-turning tale of suspense and passion, The House at Riverton is marked by indelible characters and a breathtaking ending that readers won't soon forget.



This is my very first Kate Morton book, and unsurprisingly, I found it extremely addictive to read in spite of the fact that there were so many frustrating events.  The story itself even seemed to drag a little bit at some points, and I found that there were some points where I wished the progression would just move on already and give us the next event.  Foreshadowing left little to be interpreted, thus making all the secrets left to be revealed pretty predictable.  Really, the only thing I think I finished reading the book for were the little holes of the story left to fill in, and Kate Morton's beautiful writing style.

I guess I also kind of hoped that we would get to catch a few more glimpses of Grace's life post-Riverton.  Truth be told, while the story about the Hartford sisters, with the main focus being on Hannah, was intriguing, I can't say that I truly felt much care for their day-to-day lives, or how conflicting their life decisions were.  Even the main, tragic event that Grace continually alludes to throughout the book ended up being less than interesting, once you picked up all the hints and figured out what probably really happened.

I knew going into this that it was obviously not going to be a Happily Ever After; that the book was going to be hauntingly tragic, even if atmospherically attractive.  While I had a hard time relating to characters--this was, after all, a much different world than what I'm used to in modern times--it was hard not to entirely sympathize with them, even though it was clear that our main characters all kind of dug their own graves (pun, not quite intended) with each and every step they took forward in their lives. I found myself wincing outwardly whenever a character made an important decision that I KNEW was not going to end well for anyone.

I even openly winced when Grace kept getting dragged into the middle of her Mistress's secrets, and while I found it frustrating that she would be so intent and passionate about her loyalties to Hannah, it was also understandable, in a way.  Again, this is a different world than what I know, after all, and people's mindsets were infinitely different.

Nonetheless, the book was written very beautifully, and with such a big secret being lead up to for the bulk of the book, I subconsciously found the need to keep right on reading.  Predictable as it was, I still loved how the story was framed and formatted, as Grace remembering the past and recording her story and the story of those at Riverton for her grandson to hear.  It was a very nice touch, and I DO love how we drift back and forth from present, to randomly different times in Grace's history, with only the main story following a specific timeline.

Once again, those slight mentions of how she came to be pregnant with Ruth, and how she ended up pursuing archaeology as her career, and how he came to be part of the next war, thus separating her from her husband (whom she did not love), were sweet little gems that gave the story telling a more down-to-earth feel, rather than the Gothic, almost incredible story of events that took place at Riverton.

I will probably continue to read books by Kate Morton, as this was a great introductory to her work.  However, reading this book reminds me why I have a hard time loving or one hundred percent enjoying historical fiction.  This book shows a much more detailed, nitty-gritty accounting of the times, and takes a closer look at how snobbish aristocrats can be, and how divided classes were.  It gave us a different rendering of how one culture unabashedly stereotypes and judges another based solely on their own closed-minded knowledge of the world.  It showed a more historically accurate representation of how women were treated and, in turn, how women responded to this treatment, even during the timeline wherein the "times were changing."

Basically, I have a hard time NOT getting angry on behalf of how obviously unequal people were treated dependent on class, gender, birth, etc....  And while I had some issues with Hannah, as a person and as a character, I couldn't help but to sympathize with her, and grow indignant on her behalf when everyone pretty much implied that she was good for nothing but being married off.  That her ideas and dreams of being independent and working and seeing the world needed to be quashed by marriage to a good man who would keep her in line.

Anyway, this book was a great read, very enjoyable, even if not my typical cup of tea.  The secrets were obvious and predictable from the start, and while I enjoyed the build up to each reveal, I also found I wasn't overly excited about them, and was actually quite relieved when said secrets were no longer secrets, because that meant we could move on to the next secret reveal.

One thing is for sure, as I told my BFF when describing the book to her, this book may not be a personal favorite for me, but it sure incited a lot of emotions, and it certainly stays with you for some time after you've finished reading it.


***

 

Booklikes-opoly
 


Roll #10:
Book title = RIVERton.

Page Count:  468
Cash Award:  $5.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $50.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/05/thoughts-house-at-riverton.html
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