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text 2018-11-03 04:18
Halloween Bingo 2018 | More Book Ramblings at End Game


And the game is now at it's end note, as October came to it's close.  This post was meant to go up a couple days earlier, but that didn't happen as I never finished all the books I had intended to read for Halloween Bingo.  I tried holing myself up away from the internet for the last few days of the month, hoping to achieve a Black-out success, but alas!  That was not to be!

Nonetheless, this post is satisfyingly much meatier than my mid-game ramblings, which makes me extremely happy.  It simply means that I've made much more and better progress on my Halloween Bingo card, and all is well in the world again.  At least in my world.

Once again, the books listed are all in order of when I read them, and I may or may not have already reviewed some of these.  Either way, you're getting a bit of a ramble about each, because I sometimes get carried away.

Meanwhile, I might also include a wrap-up pretty soon--it's on my list of blog posts to write, for a well-rounded closure to the 2018 Halloween Bingo game.

Happy Belated Halloween everyone!




The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Discworld #1 / Rincewind #1
Rating:  3.0 Stars

I honestly am not sure how to review this book.

It's... an interesting concept.  And extremely creative.

But so much happens, and so many characters are introduced to you, and so many of the world's... originalities are thrown at you so suddenly that... well... it's just a little hard to digest.  Some of the humor I got, and some of it, not so much.

I will continue the rest of the series if only because I've been told that it gets better.

On a strange aside, I totally couldn't picture Twoflower, and finally had to do a Google search of him.  Ah... standard stereotype of a tourist.  I see.

I DID like the Luggage and wished there were more scenes with it.

Also read for the Discworld group read.




Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb
Elizabeth MacPherson #1
Rating:  2.5 Stars

Thoughts: Sick of Shadows

In my review, I already mention that this book is kind of mediocre, even if written well, with some interesting potential.  Okay, I may not have mentioned the interesting potential, but I feel that it's there.  Other reviewers have noted that the series gets better after this first book.  So I'm holding out hope.

Honestly, I chose to read Sick of Shadows based on accessibility, because I had been more interested in the Ballad series; however, the first book If I Ever Return, Pretty Peggy-O was not available at my library, and I wasn't really wanting to purchase anything new if I could help it.  So we get Sick of Shadows, which wasn't terrible, but could have been better.

Other possible squares include:  Genre: Suspense; Country House Mystery; Terror in a Small Town; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul




As per usual, Amanda Quick's writing is excellent and enjoyable.  The characters are all great and lovely, and the romance is fun and steamy, as needed.  The mystery wasn't so much a mystery, if only because you don't get to do much detecting with the characters.  But watching them do their detecting, looking for a serial killer, was fun.  I loved the heroine, Amity, and totally approve her carrying around a tessen for safety reasons--every woman should have a steel fan, honed into a weapon, disguised as an ornamental trinket, for use in tight situations.

This is your usual Amanda Quick work--always enjoyable.

Other possible squares include:  Murder Most Foul; Amateur Sleuth; Romantic Suspense; Terrifying Women




Rating:  4.0 Stars

Thoughts: The Big Over Easy

I wish I had jumped into this book first when I picked it up for Halloween Bingo a month ago.  But no, I wanted to finish Nora Roberts' Circle trilogy due to availability.

The Big Over Easy was wonderfully addictive to read, despite the slow-paced telling, with very cleverly inserted fairy tale, mythological, and nursery rhyme references to create the world with.  My review linked above might ramble a bit about how much I liked this book!

Other possible squares include: A Grimm Tale; Murder Most Foul




Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller #1
Rating: 4.0 Stars

Thoughts: Front Page Fatality

As I state in my review linked above, this is a very strong start to a gritty and exciting cozy mystery.  I had also made the very quick decision to include a couple other Nichelle Clarke books in Halloween Bingo as well!

Other possible squares include:  Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul




Rating: 2.5 Stars

My streak of Halloween Bingo books had been going so well for October...  It's just disappointing that it didn't keep up.  Secret Admirer could have been so much better than it turned out to be, but I think the biggest factors playing against it were that it's a book that Cynthia Eden has already written before, with the same premise and a lot of the same story outline, and it was a bit too rushed for my liking.

I have more details in my overlong review linked below.  I hadn't planned on a review, but I got to writing, with only one paragraph in mind, and the next thing I know, it's about five paragraphs long, so I just decided to turn it into a full blown review and call it good.

Thoughts: Secret Admirer

Other possible squares include:  New Release; Genre: Suspense; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul




Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #2
Rating: 4.0 Stars

Ahh...  Good ol' Jayne Ann Krentz.  You just never go wrong with this lovely author.  And despite the fact that I couldn't really recall what went down in the previous book of this series, a slight nudge with a brief recounting DID kind of jog my memory about some of the first book.  Mind you, not that I really recall a whole lot about it anyway.

But still...

I found Promise Not to Tell quite refreshing in terms of the romance, even if some character dynamics seem a little "been there, done that."  The suspense portion was intriguing enough, but the real gem of this book is the relationship and partnership between Virginia and Cabot.  And as JAK is wont to do, some of the side characters are also pretty excellent as well.

On a side note, we absolutely need more men like Cabot Sutter in our lives, both fictional and real.

Other possible squares include:  New Release; Romantic Suspense; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul




Rating: 4.5 Stars

This book was fantastic and so much fun!  Two words:  Aeslin mice!

See my review for an official squee:  Thoughts: Discount Armageddon




Buried Leads by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller #2
Rating: 3.0 Stars

Thoughts: Buried Leads

Not as satisfying as the first book in the series, but still an enjoyable, fast-paced read with everything I liked about the first book still intact.  Review linked above.




Endless Night by Agatha Christie
audio book narrated by Hugh Fraser
Rating: 3.5 Stars

As already stated in my sort of, kind of, Not Really a Review of Endless Night, that ending had me flabbergasted.  I honestly don't know what to think and had definitely not expected this book to turn out the way it did... whether for good or bad... well, I still haven't decided.

Since the audio book cover has an illustration of a raven, I will be using this book for the 13 square.




Rating: 2.5 Stars

Ghost Horse was okay, in the way that a book lets you pass the time without really doing much for you.  The plot points are very overly cliched and the characters were hard to relate with, if only because they were also so cliched that it hurt.  The book picked up more towards the end, so that made up for some of it, but definitely not something I would recommend unless you're really that into Harlequin's Eclipse line of Gothic Romances.

Truth is, this book could have used more meat and less cliche... and maybe if the heroine wasn't so obsessed with the love interest before she ascertained his guilt in the disappearance of her best friend...  It was a little hard for me to understand how she could be so attracted to the man who was both broody, rude, and caveman, especially when she thought he'd had a hand in her best friend's sudden disappearance.




Rating: 3.5 Stars

It took a while to warm up to our protagonist, Karen, and for the book to pick up, but when it did, boy did it just hook you in.  I think I might have also been as riveted to the Ismene story as Karen and Peggy were.

And speaking of Peggy--she was so, undeniably awesome!  I loved Peggy so much!  I think she was the character who made this book so awesome!

The ending also got a little creepy there, and I ended up having to turn on a light while I was reading it in bed. O.O




Rating: 4.0 Stars

Thoughts: Desperate Girls

This was a great first book to a new Laura Griffin romantic suspense series, with a brief guest appearance by a character from her Tracers series.  I'm looking forward to the next book already!

Other possible squares include:  Genre: Suspense; Romantic Suspense; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul




Rating: 4.0 Stars

Daughter of the Midway was a very wonderfully atmospheric, bittersweet tale.  I loved the brief glimpses into the mermaid lore of this world included, but it also left me wishing there were more to the story.  You kind of had an idea what would end up happening at the end, but that still doesn't keep you from feeling a little pang of sadness at it either.

I'm not really into short stories, because I often feel like they could be fleshed out more, and this is also the case with Daughter of the Midway; even so, I did really like this one, in my own way.

Other possible squares include:  Southern Gothic; Supernatural; Cryptozoologist; Fear the Drowning Deep; Terrifying Women




Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien
A Noodle Shop Myster #1
Rating: 3.5 Stars

More Rambling Than Review: Death by Dumpling

I really did enjoy this book and plan on continuing the series.  As I state in my review linked above, this book gave me nostalgic feels--they were very good nostalgic feels.  So that's already a point in that sector.  I will update with a link to my review of this book when it goes up.

Other possible squares:  New Release; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul




Rating: 3.0 Stars

Quick Thoughts: Spinning Silver

This one wasn't as great as Novik's previous retelling, Uprooted.  It's a little disappointing, but it wasn't like the book wasn't entirely enjoyable.  I DID end up getting drawn into it at the beginning, even if the end kind of fizzled after too many POVs started surfacing.  There came a point where I wished the story would just get on with it.  Nonetheless, there's a quick review at the link above.

Other possible squares include: New Release; Spellbound; Relics and Curiosities (?); Supernatural; Terrifying Women




Small Town Spin by LynDee Walker
A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller #3
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Brief Thoughts: Small Town Spin

Still a great, strong series with a great, strong main character!  This was probably the meatiest of the series' books so far.  On the other hand, it also boasts a very evident love triangle that is driving me crazy.

My review will probably go up soon, and will be linked above.




Rating: 2.5 Stars

I think I must be missing something.

The first couple chapters were pretty intriguing, but after that, the book pretty quickly became a massive info dump of outlined tangential story lines that were pretty boring, finally leading up to the titular Haunted Hotel parts.  It got exciting for a little bit, but then the ending felt a bit anti-climatic, and I'm not sure I understand what actually happened, even if I DO kind of see what happened.

If that makes any sense.

I guess... there wasn't as much about the Haunted Hotel as I'd been expecting?  I suppose this one just wasn't for me.

On a separate note, I didn't actually finish this book until after the Halloween Bingo game timeline was past... like about four hours past.  But because of that, I'm going to include it as a completed square... even though I'd already stopped counting Bingos about three books ago.





I didn't finish this book for the last square, but it shall be listed just because.  I'll probably have the book done within the next few days though if it's as enjoyable as the first one.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/halloween-bingo-2018-more-book.html
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text 2018-10-31 15:01
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Random Update

First of all, a big, big Thank You to Moonlight and Obsidian for hosting this very fine reading game!  Nothing like Halloween Bingo to bring one out of a chronic reading slump this year!

I'm way too lazy right now--as well as pressing on time a little bit--to post a full official update (like my super organized ones from previous.  But it's Halloween, and I've been avoiding the blogosphere for as much as I could these past few days, if only to try to finish those last Halloween Bingo books I have lined up.

Unfortunately, times have been busy, and as much as I'd hoped and planned, I'm certain I won't be getting a black-out.


I DID recently finish Spinning Silver and Small Town Spin, which got me a couple more Bingos.  And knowing that that last square called would add a couple more Bingos, I wasn't too concerned about waiting for the last Bingo square call.  I've even stopped counting Bingos anyway, feeling much more impressed with how many books I've managed to read this month than anything else, really...  hehe


Meanwhile, I'm going to try to at least finish reading The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins tonight, in the spirit of Halloween, which leaves my final and last read, Midnight Blue-Light Special possibly hanging.  I certain I won't finish it before the end of the day, so either I'll stick to my guns and just finish it after the game is over without a Black-out, or I'll try to insert a short Edgar Allan Poe from the massive volume of short story collection I have sitting on my shelf and complete the game with a Blackout.

We'll see... especially since I'm not certain I'll finish The Haunted Hotel before the end of the night either.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/halloween-bingo-2018-random-update.html
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review 2018-10-29 17:12
Quick Thoughts: Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver - Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik



Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one.  Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in.  Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task.  When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

I read my first Naomi Novik book a few years back--Uprooted--and absolutely loved it.  So I was super ecstatic about Spinning Silver.

Unfortunately, while Spinning Silver has that same, magical telling, a wonderfully crafted world, with a lot of interesting characters and lore, it didn't feel as well-outlined as Uprooted had been.  I DID get drawn into it readily at the beginning and had really high hopes that things would continue on wonderfully even as I was wary of the switching first person POVs.

As a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, it took only a few traits from the original fairy tale and sprinkled it around several of the characters, in each of the three or four ongoing tangential story lines.

But I think that might have been it's disadvantage.  There were entirely too many stories and too many point of views being narrated throughout this book.  And all of the book's narrations were done in first person.  I'm already not a big fan of first person, but I've learned to live with it, as well as love it in certain forms or even certain specific books.  While I learned to figure out which narration belonged to which character based on how someone was addressed and how the voiced came across, it still managed to get a little confusing, as well as pretty tiresome.

Again, there was just too much going on.  Which is a shame, because I loved the underlying main conflict and the main story dealing with Miryem and the Staryk king.  I became interested in the story following Irina and the demon-possessed young tsar, Mirnatius.  And I probably would have enjoyed Wanda's telling as well if her story hadn't tapered off into the background as just filler for when neither Irina nor Miryem were the narrators.

Then you start to include a dozen other POVs as well--Stepon, Magreta, even Mirnatius, himself--and things start getting complicated, and unfortunately, dragged out.  I feel like we didn't need to see every single scene or action from every single possible angle.  But nearing the end of the book, that's what it felt like and I was impatient to have the story get on with the main conflict dealing with the Staryk king and the fire demon's fates.

Anyway... this book could have been so, so much better.  Instead, it was enjoyable to an extent, and really just fades in comparison to Uprooted.  Or, well, to whatever retelling I'd been excitedly anticipating from Naomi Novik.

Not to say it wasn't enjoyable, because minus some of the unnecessarily dragged out scenes, I think it could have been great.  The descriptions were beautiful, the bursting of culture was decadent, and the characters were so fleshed out that you could imagine all of them having a tale of their own... just not packed so tightly into this book where there was already a lot going on.

I love Naomi Novik's writing style, both in Uprooted and in this book.  So I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for more of her work, as well as move her Temeraire series up on that ever-changing TBR I have going!




Halloween Bingo 2018
(any fairy tale or retelling of fairy tales, folklore, legends, etc.)

Other possible squares include: New Release; Spellbound; Relics and Curiosities (?); Supernatural; Terrifying Women



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/quick-thoughts-spinning-silver.html
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text 2018-10-27 06:07
Can You Read a Series In A Month? November 2018 Challenge

I feel like I'm a little late to this party, but since the challenge doesn't start yet, I'm going to hop right in.  I almost forgot about this reading challenge, and it's entirely possible I missed one of them this year already.  I'm not sure.  Indeed, I've just recently climbed my way out of a massive reading slump that lasted about four months, so it's not like I was really paying much attention to the reading/blogging world.

Anyway, I really do like these mini challenges that only last a month or two, and that aren't exactly hardcore.  Reading a series in a month, with only three books being the minimum requirement is something I'm sure I'll be able to do.

And fortunately for me, there's a particular series I've been telling myself I've been needing to read anyway, and had planned to read since the beginning of September.  In fact, all the books in this series had been an initial selection for another reading game (Halloween Bingo 2018), but due to an ever-changing reading mood, it got pushed back.

But at this point, I'm very willing to make a commitment to make sure I finally get to this series.

With Halloween Bingo coming to a close, I'm feeling a little freer in my book selections, so that helps, too!

The rules are pretty simple:  Read or finish one series in one month.  It can be a series you've already started, but there must be at least 3 published books that you have not yet read.  So if you want to read a trilogy and you haven't started, it'll count.  If you want to read a four book series and you've already read the first book, it'll count, too.

For more information and more answers to questions about the rules, refer to the sign up post link above.



My Series Pick


Midnight by Melinda Leigh

Completed Reviews: (links will be updated as each book is read)
1.  Midnight Exposure
2.  Midnight Sacrifice
3.  Midnight Betrayal
4.  Midnight Obsession

*Click on series title for GR series page. // Click on book title for my review.



My Backup Series


Blackthorn & Grim by Juliet Marillier





I don't know if the Midnight series is complete yet, but no new book has been published that I know of.  Hopefully a new book won't suddenly pop up in the middle of November and I can happily breeze through this romantic suspense series without rearranging any of my reading plans.  I'm in the mood for a crime thriller / romantic suspense, so I'm hoping that these books will help.

Meanwhile, I'd also been considering getting Juliet Marillier's Blackthorn & Grim series read, and I've been seeing a lot of good things about this trilogy.  I've had the first two books sitting on my Kindle for some time and was happy when the last book was finally published... then just let all three books sit there for another two years.  So it's time to get to them.  If I have time, I will try to squeeze this one in.  Or, in the worst case scenario, if I end up not really liking Midnight, at least I can fall back on a tried and true author!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/can-you-read-series-in-month-november.html
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text 2018-10-26 18:25
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #6 - That Elusive First Bingo!



I wasn't really going to put up another update yet, at least not until either Sunday or Monday.  The household has been pretty busy these past few days--just a lot of family stuff going on.  I'm surprised I've even been able to make time to read anything.  But I had a little extra time this morning and decided to start this post.

Five more days until the end of Halloween Bingo 2018!  Honestly, aside from the fact that I'm not sure I'll actually get a Blackout this year, I'm actually much more impressed with how quickly I combed through books this month just for Bingo.  The comparison is crazy--I read a total of eight books in September, with only six of them actually being for Halloween Bingo.  This month, I decided to focus solely on Bingo books, and somehow managed to make it pretty far.  I've pretty much doubled my number from last month, with hopefully more to be finished.


I have four books left to finish reading, two that I'm currently reading and two I have yet to start.  I had had a notion to just start all four of them and see which one gets finished first... but I decided to pace myself and simply try to read one at a time.

I'm almost finished with Spinning Silver for A Grim Tale square.  Then I'll be hopping into Small Town Spin, which I already started randomly a couple days ago, but have only been reading a couple paragraphs here and there when I have a little extra time between working and socializing.  I've been spending my extra free time--and as in "free time" I mean those hours right before you go to bed when you really should be winding down and getting to sleep--reading Spinning Silver.

I'm hoping to start Midnight Blue-Light Special and The Haunted Hotel this weekend.  Since I loved Discount Armageddon so much, I'm hoping to gobble the second book in the InCryptids series right up.  I recently decided that Midnight Blue-Light Special will be my Creepy Raven Free Space book, mainly because I just really want to read this book.


Meanwhile, I DID manage to get my very first--and only--Bingo so far.  It is the second row down, and I drew a green line through it.  I realize that my Bingo card this year is a bit lacking compared to Penni and her laser eyes last year.  My goal when the new year starts will be to come up with a new Bingo card marking plan.  Yes, I am just nerdy enough to start planning this far in advance.

Anyway, when I finish Spinning Silver, hopefully before the night is over, I should have one more Bingo.  At this late point in the game, there is only one other square not on my card that hasn't been called yet, so my chances of getting more Bingos rolling in is pretty much a given.



Updated Marked Card:


So after much deliberation, I've decided to really personalize my card this year... and also because I just couldn't resist using this recent picture of our family dog.  I present to everyone the marker that will depict all of my Called Squares:


Dino Baby!  Rawr!

And that is the extent of my creativity this year... along with that tedious visual you see when you scroll down.  Because the markers for my Read Squares will simply by a book cover to set to the left  side of the square as Dino Baby roars at it from the right side of the square.



Currently Reading:





Squares/Books/Called Dates/Update Post Links:

Progress on my card:  22 squares called || 21 books read || 19 squares completed

Squares called that I do not have:
09/15/18 - Modern Masters of Horror
09/25/18 - Amateur Sleuth
09/29/18 - Supernatural
10/17/18 - Fear the Drowning Deep
10/21/18 - Country House Mystery

Halloween Bingo 2018: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Report Your Bingos!

October Group Read | Discussion Thread -- Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #1
It's Monday! Plus a Halloween Bingo Update, Just Because... | 09/17/2018
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #2
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Book Rambles at Mid-game
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #3
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #4
Halloween Bingo 2018 | Update #5

*And also, when I've posted them, the book covers will link to my reviews.

Called:  10/01/18
Read:  10/19/18
Called:  09/21/18
Read:  10/23/18
Called:  10/09/18
Called: 09/09/18
Read:  10/05/18
Called: 10/05/18
Read:  09/18/18
Called: 09/05/18
Read:  10/11/18
Called: 09/03/18
Read:  10/14/18
Called:  09/27/18
Read:  10/13/18
Called: 09/17/18
Read:  10/22/18
Called:  10/19/18
Read: 09/03/18
Called: 09/01/18
Called: 09/23/18
Read:  10/17/18
Called:  09/19/18
Read:  10/01/18
Read:  10/09/18
Called:  10/25/18
Read:  10/11/18
Read:  10/06/18
Called:  10/07/18
Read:  10/17/18
Called:  10/23/18
Read:  09/27/18
Called:  09/13/18
Called:  10/13/18
Read:  09/24/18
Called:  09/11/18
Read:  10/22/18
Called:  10/03/18
Read:  09/22/18
Read: 09/06/18
Called: 09/07/18
Read:  10/22/18
Halloween Bingo 2018
Ani's Book Abyss

Wild Card Author:


I haven't decided which author to use as my Wild Card yet, but I've been considering using Nora Roberts, as she is a writer of a lot of crime thrillers, romantic suspense, and supernatural, including the Circle trilogy I've chosen for this year's bingo.

Other authors I'm also considering are: Susanna Kearsley, who writes Gothic with a bit of supernatural; Elizabeth Peters, who has a lot of cozy mysteries; or another obvious option, Agatha Christie!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/halloween-bingo-2018-update-6-that.html
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