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text 2018-02-20 03:10
It's Monday! Happy Year of the Dog! | 2/18/2018
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!



First of all, Happy Year of the Dog to everyone out there!

The lunar calendar made it's round to the new year on Friday, and obviously Baby approves of the occasion, as it is going to be the Year of Baby!  Or, well... you know...

 


The weekend was kind of filled with a bit of fun and festivities, although not as much as we used to have when I was younger.  With everyone busy, busy, busy these days, it's hard to find a good time to get together for much.  At the very least, our immediate household did our thing with yummy, traditional feast food that always seems to grace the table whenever we celebrate anything!

There is always roast duck, roast pork, a lovely seafood soup, the big pot of tofu and veggie stir-fry, and various other savory dishes of the seafood variety (or not).  And then to top it all off, we have our steamed white rice that was cooked with the very flavorful Chinese sausage--with all of that sausage oil being dripped into the rice, it gives it a delicious touch.

Everyone, this food is not for the light of heart.  We Chinese love to eat flavorful and savory... and apparently we also love to eat oily and anything that will probably give us high cholesterol.

But, hey!  It's just so, so yummy!

I suppose the diet will finally start after this last holiday is over... *crosses fingers*

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 


Meanwhile, in bookish news, I've been slacking on my reading, which makes me extremely glad that I hadn't truly made a lot of reading challenge commitments.  I started reading two books this week, but didn't finish Cold Image until just this morning, in the wee hours a little after midnight.  It took longer than it should have, for many reasons...

Cold Image is bite-sized, and I typically would have flown right through it like it was nothing, being a romantic suspense with a lot of factors I liked, and a premise that was quite promising.  But time got away from me... and the book wasn't what I'd expected from Leslie Kelly after reading others of her works, and I was sadly disappointed.  There will be a review to come at some point.


Aside from getting sucked into an online multiplayer RPG with my brothers, I've also been indulging in a YouTube vlog called 'Strictly Dumpling.'  The host of this vlog introduces you to a lot of wonderful cuisines in places such as New York, San Francisco, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and most recently Vietnam.  And if it's one thing I love just as much as books, it's food, and Mikey Chen, the host of this vlog, does a wonderful job of showing us great places to visit and eat.

His focus is on Asian cuisine, which was how his vlog started off in the beginning, but I like that he's trying to branch out as well, as there is a food vacation tour of Peru as well.  I mainly have been loving this YouTube channel because this guy is strangely funny, with weird descriptions and analogies that sometimes make no sense.

Meanwhile, I don't always agree with a lot of his opinions pertaining to Chinese food, but I still love the way he presents them at his channel.  If anyone is interested, hop on over and watch a few if you like.  I highly recommend his most recent Vietnam vacation, as he features a lot of really awesome looking food for uber wonderfully affordable prices... well, after the plane ticket, I suppose.


Anyway... now back to our not-so-regularly scheduled bookish news...

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 


Meanwhile, I have a feeling I might have started loving All I Want because of our heroine, Zoe, but I tend to forget that Jill Shalvis is best taken in small doses.  As I had already finished listening to two other books in this series... I think I might be a bit Jill Shalvis-ed out.  I'm going to go ahead and continue listening to this book, as it is also narrated by one of my favorite audio book voices, and it's not like things are getting too tedious.  There are just always some Jill Shalvis elements that I will find a bit... repetitive, as well as frustrating.

On the other hand, I also started reading the third Tremaine Traditions book by Kylie Brant, Truth or Lies, and am immensely enjoying, having already breezed through the first quarter of the book.  The main hero, however, is annoying the heck out of me, and I'm hoping some development will come about rather than our heroine falling for him just because he's supposed to be badass.  She's smarter than that, and if it's one thing Kylie Brant is good at, it's writing smart heroines who aren't always losing their panties just because a man has a smoldering gaze.

 

 

What I'm Planning to Read Next

 

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog


As you can see above, I'm hoping to finish the rest of Kylie Brant's Tremaine Traditions, hopefully all this week, or at least by next week.  In which case, I'll have a full series review ready to publish at some point.  Following, I'm interested in continuing on with my Author Love challenge and hit another Jayne Ann Krentz book, or two.  Light in Shadow and Truth or Dare are books in a duology called Whispering Springs, and I'm looking forward to it... also I've checked out the second book from the library, so it needs to get read.

The blog has been sadly quiet lately, but with all the holiday "festivities" over, I'm hoping on getting some more posts planned and ready to go.  Maybe I'll be able to start some more books and have more reviews ready.  Maybe I'll just work on transferring more previously written reviews to Ani's Book Abyss.  Or maybe I'll just start filling out weekly memes again, just to have something to blog about.

I've already started drafting a few future posts, and am trying to figure out where to go from there.

Either way, like I keep promising, I really want to start being more active once again.  It feels oddly depressing to be away from the blogging community for so long just because I can't think of anything to write about.  And a lot of the time, I'm really just lurking, reading posts and commenting randomly.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/its-monday-happy-year-of-dog-2182018.html
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review 2018-02-14 15:44
Thoughts: That's Amore!
That's Amore!: Meet the ParentsI Do, Don't I?There Goes the Groom - Tori Carrington,Janelle Denison,Leslie Kelly

That's Amore! -- anthology
Authors include: Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, and Leslie Kelly
Book 2 of Santori Stories

Average Rating:  3.1 Stars
(Includes personal rating:  3.0 Stars)

 

 

It's way too late to elope....

Meet the Parents by Janelle Denison

Like all dutiful Hawaiian daughters, Leila Malekala is expected to marry a Hawaiian groom handpicked by her parents.  But guess what, Mom and Dad?  Leila has wedding plans of her own.  The groom is California bad boy Jason Crofton... and the bride is pregnant.

I Do, Don't I? by Tori Carrington

Efi Panayotopoulou is about to marry her childhood sweetheart Nick Constantino.  Everything should be perfect.  But their families seem hell-bent on turning the wedding into a farce-or Greek tragedy.  And Efi is about a baklava flake away from running off... without her groom.

There Goes the Groom by Leslie Kelly

Luke Santori is engaged to "a nice Italian girl" from his Chicago neighborhood.  But wedding plans get tossed-like unbaked dough at his family's pizzeria-when Luke falls for blond-haired, blue-eyed Rachel Grant... the dressmaker designing his fiancee's bridal gown.



I'm really not a fan of the romantic Valentine's holiday, but I'm also a hopeless romantic and love to love some sweet, fluffy contemporary romances.  What better way to celebrate the holiday than an anthology of contemporary romances called That's Amore! that is based around three wedding novellas.  One of which was written by an author I like!


Meet the Parents by Janelle Denison
Rating:  3.5 Stars

This novella was cute, and I found a lot of the Hawaiian traditions quite interesting as well.  I liked that there wasn't a whole lot of angst in this sweet love story, even if there was a bit of a conflict involving the groom-to-be and his in-laws.  I wish I could say that I found Leila's parents a bit frustrating in their disapproval of her chosen husband... but the truth is, it doesn't surprise me, because I've seen more than my fair share of the same behavior among my own Asian relatives.

It's tiring, and yes, also frustrating.  But something that happens.  But we get a Happily Ever After in this novella, which is what counts.  That's probably more than I can say for other stories I've seen with the same, stubborn types of parental units who are more concerned with tradition than seeing how happy their children are.

A nice little read.  And while I'm a little reluctant to say that it was also a little boring... well, it kind of was.


I Do, Don't I? by Tori Carrington
Rating:  2.5 Stars

This novella was really full of crazy.  And while I loved seeing all the Greek wedding traditions, and reading about the loud, raucous actions of all of Efi's and Nick's relatives, and just overall witnessing a week full of partying and celebration... I couldn't help but feel extremely frustrated with both sides of the family.  This is why a lot of couples end up eloping...

And then maybe I was a bit frustrated with Nick as well.  It probably didn't help that we mostly followed Efi's point of view up until one small scene at the end of the novella.  I honestly would have liked to have seen more of the entire affair from Nick's point of view.  Because without his side of things, the story just felt like Efi was bearing all the stress of the wedding planning and the family crazy... while Nick just skated by and waited to get married.

Nonetheless, this story was a fun one, even if a little over-laden with angst, conflict, and made-for-television antics.

I would have liked to have seen a show down between Efi and Aphrodite, though I suppose it wouldn't really have been in good humor.  I would have liked to see more mature understanding from Nick--the fact that he seemed to be oblivious to everything, including cousin Aphrodite's attempts to seduce him made me cringe a little bit.  The fact that Nick had even entertained thoughts of doing anything with Aphrodite at all made me a little wary of how this marriage will be going forward; especially when Efi's confrontation didn't even seem to get through to his thick, ignorant head.

The fact that Nick has no idea that Efi had dreams of her own that shouldn't have been impeded by wedding vows felt a little immature.  In fact, neither of the two seemed to know what the other wanted, or had been expecting out of this marriage at all.  It got to a point where I was wondering if they were just getting married because it was expected for the two high school sweethearts--that they were in love with the idea of being in love and getting married, more than they were in love with each other.

Anyway... fun as fun was, this story turned out more like a family affair of crazy rather than a sweet romance.  It certainly DOES bring a realistic tone to all the crazy events that usually lead up to a wedding day.  Especially when family and relatives tend to get a little too involved.


There Goes the Groom by Leslie Kelly
Rating:  3.5 Stars

The premise of this novella could have gone in all sorts of bad directions--with an engaged man and his fiancee's dressmaker falling for one another, this could have been a disaster.  Fortunately, our lovely author managed to handle the events quite well, and we simply end up with a case of two people marrying for the wrong reasons.  Our hero sort of works through his own issues with the help of the heroine, as well as his brothers.

Simply put, this novella was a sweet one.

One of the things I DID NOT appreciate were the little comments here and there from our heroine that came off a little judgmental about random people in the story.  Some of those comments, honestly, I felt were uncalled for.

Meanwhile, this story also made me want a pizza...

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/thoughts-thats-amore.html
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review 2018-02-13 20:06
Thoughts: A Treacherous Curse
A Treacherous Curse - Deanna Raybourn

A Treacherous Curse
by Deanna Raybourn
Book 3 of Veronica Speedwell

 

 

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.

His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess.  This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.

Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .



This third, newest installment of Veronica Speedwell was as magnificent as the previous two books in the series; and, dare I say, maybe even better paced and better outlined than the previous two books as well.  After having read Deanna Raybourn's Julia Grey series, I had found that she often will take her sweet time getting to the heart of the story's mystery or conflict.  The same had happened with the first Veronica Speedwell book, A Curious Beginning.  The previous books in this series, A Perilous Undertaking stepped up the pacing a bit and came out quite enjoyable, with only a few too deliberate instances of dialogue that might have bugged me a little bit.

A Treacherous Curse got right to the point of the mystery, and might have even cut back down on some of the unnecessary declarations of Veronica's openness about her own sexual awareness.  It was still there, though; it seems that the books cannot pass without reminding the reader several times how modern Veronica is, by over-emphasizing her not-so-with-the-times behavior.  I don't mind knowing that Veronica is so open and forward-thinking; and I absolutely love that she's not a doormat, and will not allow for anyone to beat her down.

But I really don't need to be reminded of it on such a regularly scheduled basis.

As for the mystery, I think I particularly liked this one because of its tie-ins with archaeology, with an emphasis in Egyptology.  These things have always been fascinating to me, and I found the exchanges between Veronica, Stoker, and the people they were interviewing quite interesting.  There were many red herrings to contend with, and when you think you might have figured out what was going on... well, I got proven wrong once, at the very least concerning John de Morgan's disappearance.

Meanwhile, I love the strong emphasis on Veronica and Stoker's friendship, which borders on the romantic, yet not romantic.  They have a wonderful bond, which is quite intimate considering the fact that neither of the two are even remotely ready to start falling in love with each other.  And truth be told, while I'm a hopeless romantic, I'm kind of enjoying the two of them just being partners-in-crime, and am a little wary of the moment when, or even if, they decide to step their relationship up to a more steamy, romantic one.

What I think I'm loving the most is that Veronica and Stoker have a great understanding of one another.  And that no matter how terribly Veronica pisses Stoker off, or vice versa, the two of them still partner up and continue on their friendship, putting their conflict on hold until they find the time to deal with it.  I love that they actually talk to each other, and communicate their feelings.  I know that there were still a lot of secrets that the two of them are keeping from each other, but I love that they understand that about the other, and no one is pushing for a tell-all session.

Meanwhile, I also love that the two of them are so fiercely protective of each other.  It's a great friendship, even if it's sometimes a little lacking in chemistry.

I think I also liked that this book centered so much on Stoker and what had happened to him during his back story of tragic happening.  We've already had a little bit of Veronica's tale, so I'm very appreciative that we get to see some of Stoker's past--we've gotten so little of it, save for the obvious animosity he holds towards his brothers and his family.

Anyway...

I really look forward to the next installment, and to be honest, I don't know what to expect, and I'm not even sure what I want to expect.  I think I'm just going to be ecstatic to get a little more of the Veronica and Stoker banter.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/thoughts-treacherous-curse.html
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review 2018-02-10 16:16
Quick Thoughts: Illusion Town
Illusion Town (Illusion Town Novel, An) - Jayne Castle

Illusion Town
by Jayne Castle
Book 13 of Harmony

 

 

A new adventure begins on Harmony…

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique -- and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all.  For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband.  All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse.  The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity -- as well as other parts of her mind and body.  And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light -- and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…



Somehow, Illusion Town ended up feeling more present-day-earth-like... if that makes any sense.  The Harmony books are set in a futuristic world, on a planet in outer space with aliens and such.  And the past few Harmony books in the Rainshadow sub-series had started feeling less futuristic-spacey until about three books in, when the catacombs came back into the game.

And now Illusion Town comes around, with it's Vegas-like setting, a few references to the Arcane Society, and maybe a few instances of catacombs, and we stop feeling like Harmony once again.  If not for the presence of Virgil, the dust bunny, and the random mentions of the aliens and their catacombs, this could have been any random paranormal romantic suspense book in a present day Vegas-like city.

But really, that was my only quibble.

I liked the whole memory loss schtick, as awkward as the whole scenario was carried out.  Truthfully, it could have been executed a little bit better, but it wasn't terrible.  Watching Hannah and Elias piece their way backwards from a post psi-burn memory loss that somehow led to a Marriage of Convenience with no recollection of how they got there, waking up in a seedy motel together was interesting.  Even if the twisty reveals could have been handled a little less deliberately.

Meanwhile, another tie-in to the Arcane Society was also quite nice.  I liked having a dreamlight talent brought back to the forefront and found Hannah's dream walking skill an interesting one, though I would have liked a more in-depth look at it.  A lot of the story and the character biographies of both our hero and heroine felt a bit glossed over.  The developing bond and romance was sweet, even if not as steamy as I would have liked.

Again, I wished there could have been more of our dust bunny companion, but Virgil felt a bit left out.

Nonetheless, this is still a wonderful Jayne Castle slash Jayne Ann Krentz at her formulaic best, and I absolutely am looking forward to more in the Harmony series!

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/quick-thoughts-illusion-town.html
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review 2018-02-08 16:19
Quick Thoughts: Siren's Call
Siren's Call - Jayne Castle

Siren's Call
by Jayne Castle
Book 12 of Harmony
-- Book 4 of Rainshadow

 

 

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels.  But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets…

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death.  That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent.  He knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him...

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why.  Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows.  She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame…



This book was entirely enjoyable and entirely Jayne Ann Krentz, with her usual formulaic romance, and standard great characters.  I'm not complaining, but it DOES end up becoming a tad bit forgettable when the stories are always the same, even with a new adventure, a new addition to the ongoing series' conflict, and new developments with the overall Harmony world.

For this particular installment, I DID really like the entire Siren aspect of Ella's paranormal abilities, and enjoyed the references to "Old World" mythologies, as the characters like to put it.  I like knowing what kinds of abilities our characters possess, so even if the explanations seem a bit far-fetched, it's interesting to know that Ella's musical talent also resonates with glass and can make it... melt.

Rafe's abilities were a bit confusing, although knowing that he's lost his own, original abilities and is stuck in a psi-fever was an interesting twist.

I still love the atmosphere and the creativity of Rainshadow Island, as well as the newly discovered catacombs there.  The creation of Wonderland was quite interesting--kind of like a futuristic, alien Jurassic Park, frozen in time, and completely blue.

And then, once again, I would definitely like to see more of the dust bunnies.  While the previous installment had a wonderful appearance by our dust bunnies, I feel like this one was kind of lacking.  I mean, Lorelei was great with her powdered donut obsession, and her attachment to a wedding veil with sparkly crystals.  But she didn't really get a whole lot of story other than that, to be honest.

Nonetheless, this was still a wonderfully enjoyable paranormal, romantic suspense written by a wonderful author!

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/quick-thoughts-sirens-call.html
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