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review 2018-02-16 09:30
A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)
A Treacherous Curse - Deanna Raybourn

I love Veronica Speedwell.  Her character is almost everything I admire in a person, with the exceptions of her penchants for collecting butterflies, necessitating her killing them, and her need to verbalise her sexual liberty.  This isn't hypocrisy on my part; I think it's distasteful when men make their sexual needs topics of casual conversation, and it's no less so when a woman does it.  Boundaries.  Good fences make good neighbours and all that.

 

But these are very minor niggles.  Everything else about Veronica is excellent and Stoker doesn't suck either.  Raybourn has found that perfect balance of rawness, gentility, intelligence, anger, and grace in her hero (although I have to say, what's up with the eye patch? Is that really considered sexy?  I see one and have to resist the urge to pull it and watch it snap back).  The dialog between the two of them is snappy and sometimes electric.  There's no doubt as to where these two are headed, but Raybourn is taking her time sending them there, and doing it well enough that I, for one, feel no impatience for them to get on with it already.

 

The mystery plot is the only thing that held this book back a bit for me.  It succeeded in terms of leaving me guessing until the very end, but honestly it was so convoluted that I stopped trying to figure it out about halfway through and just focused on the characters until the end.  That's not necessarily a criticism; this is a strong book just on the merits of being an engrossing work of historical fiction.  But my enjoyment came from the story first, with the mystery an afterthought.

 

Sadly, I'm going to have to wait an entire year for the fourth book.  But I'll be looking forward to it with anticipation.

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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 2017-11-21 18:41
Maddening and compelling read
A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speed... A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery - Deanna Raybourn

I find Veronica quite maddening sometimes but her faultless logic is entertaining and the hoops she makes Stoker jump through are fun. The two of them spark well and this was an involved and messy murder mystery that involved the crown, again.

 

It will be interesting to see where the author goes from here.

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text 2017-10-27 05:53
Halloween Bingo 2017 | More Book Ramblings at End Game
Just Past Midnight - Amanda Stevens
Protecting His Witch (a Keepers of the Veil novel) (Entangled Covet) - Zoe Forward
Hit and Run - Laura Griffin,Allison Brennan
Jaxson (River Pack Wolves 1) - New Adult Paranormal Romance - Alisa Woods
The Dead Travel Fast - Deanna Raybourn,Charlotte Parry
Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) - Sandra Brown,Mary Stewart
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James,Richard Armitage,Emma Thompson

 


 



My blogging motivation is still on the fritz, so I decided to make a 'To-Do' list and give myself assignments as to what kinds of posts I will be publishing for the rest of October.

And so to placate myself, I made another compilation of Halloween Bingo books for "short" rambling reviews.  In kind, I also sat down and appointed specific books that would be allowed its own individual review... for reasons only I would understand... or maybe even not.

The majority of my ramblings have more to do with why said books would or would not fit the squares I had chosen them for, as well as what I might do to shuffle books and squares around.  And yes, I DO get long-winded.

 

 

Rating:  3.0 Stars


I had originally planned on a full review for this book.  But due to reasons, that didn't happen.  Instead, all I have to say is that this is definitely NOT one of Amanda Steven's better works.  Of course, Just Past Midnight was written years prior to her more well-known Graveyard Queen series (which I love), and so I suspect her writing has matured over the years.

Just Past Midnight is a decent, mediocre, and enjoyable murder mystery with all the standard romantic suspense tropes.  The insta-lust and insta-love was a bit eye-rolling, and the whole "most beautiful woman in the room" thing was also a bit exasperating.  But overall, this is a book that one can find entertainment in for a nice rainy afternoon... or night, if you want to creep yourself out, since there were some scenes that might do it.

I originally chose to read this book for the 'Amateur Sleuth' square because the main heroine is a psychologist, though she DOES do forensic work for law enforcement, so I don't know how that would work towards the square.  The main hero, though, is a defense lawyer... so, not quite law enforcement?

Of course, after some flipping and flopping, back and forth, I finally decided just to switch a few books around that fit certain squares a bit better.  Since this book DOES, indeed, have murders, it would fit the 'Murder Most Foul' square, regardless--in fact, several of the books I've read would fit this square, which, to be honest, is pretty much a free space for me anyway...

This book could also count for:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Serial/Spree Killer
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  3.5 Stars


Okay, so the truth is, aside from the title and the fact that the main female character is called a witch, I'm not entirely sure that Kat, or the other seven sisters, are actually witches in the traditional sense.  At least based on the powers and the in-book legends, the seven sisters are more descendants of Goddesses or something like that; but they are referred to as witches throughout the book because they have supernatural abilities.  So I may or may not switch this one out for Jaxson, which really does have a more traditional type of witch, with a coven and spells and curses and all that, then maybe read something else for the 'Werewolves' square.  Maybe.

As for this book, it was actually much more enjoyable than I'd expected it to be, with a great premise and outline.  The progression was smooth and the book was easy to read.

Unfortunately, characters feel a bit stock-standard, and the execution of the story itself could use a little work; some of the scenes and twists and reveals feel a bit too deliberate, as if they were written in for the sake of forwarding the story.  While they make sense, they also feel awkwardly inserted.  Some of the characters and their histories could have been fleshed out a bit more.

And also, maybe we could have done without such a heavy focus on the sex and romance--our main couple couldn't spend more than a couple paragraphs in each other's presence without getting hot and heavy, and I swear, our hero was sporting a hard-on the entire book.  Then again, I'm sure that might have also been deliberate--for reasons.

This book could also count for:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Supernatural
  • Terrifying Women

 


 


This book was entirely forgettable.  And since I've been in a non-blogging mood, I honestly couldn't think of what to say about it.  And days later, after finishing it, I still couldn't find anything to say about it.

I hadn't entirely enjoyed the first book in this series, but at least it held promise.  And this second book wasn't entirely terrible either, because I DID enjoy the reading of it.  But I'll be damned if I can think of anything that stands out about Hit and Run.

Scarlet's part, Hit, written by Allison Brennan, was once again the better of the two parts, with a well outlined plot, likable characters, and an intriguing premise.  But all I can recall from this half of the book is that Scarlet came across a lot more reckless than I remember thinking she was from the first book, Crash and Burn.  I DID like the developing relationship between Scarlet and Detective Alex Bishop though, but it felt pretty backseat.

Meanwhile, Krista's part, Run, by Laura Griffin, while written well and had some amusing interaction between Krista and others at the beginning, felt like it was deteriorating in character development towards the end.  Even the murder investigation felt a little deflated.  And R.J. Flynn, Krista's P.I. rival and love interest just comes off as a Grade A jackass--in short, I don't like him, and I don't like that Krista finds him irresistible... just because.  He treats her really crappy and I don't see why she finds him irresistible, aside from him being the main, hottie, love interest.

Because of the almost lack of romance in this book, there's a slight possibility I might swap it out for a different book to fill the square I finally made the decision just to swap it out for a book that has more balanced focus on the romance, the suspense, and the murder investigations:  Deep As The Dead by Kylie Brant.  But being that both Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin are known romantic suspense authors, I'd been inclined to just leave it be.  There was romance, as much as I didn't care for either couples...

Anyway, this book will just go in the 'Creepy Raven Free Space.'  Even though the romance was a bit lacking, there was murder and there was suspense.

Though, for a while, I had contemplated swapping out for Amanda Quick's newest historical romantic suspense that I have on hold via e-book library.  If I get to checking it out before the end of October, maybe it could stand in for this square.  I mean, I'll read that book, either way.

Well, look at that... I DID find something to say after all!

This book could also count towards:

  • Murder Most Foul
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  4.0 Stars


Since wolf shifters also count for this square, I went ahead and read Jaxson, the first book in a trilogy about three brothers, all three of them wolf shifters.  I'm considering moving Jaxson onto the 'Witches' square, since the heroine in this book fits as a traditional witch better than the book I originally chose for that square.  I could then read the second River Pack Wolves book for this square... but I'm still deciding what I want to do, and chances are, I'm just going to let it go.

Jaxson is probably one of those guilty pleasure romance reads that is enjoyable for all the right and wrong reasons.  This book has it's fair share of cliches and tropes and logic holes.  This book could also use some editing work.  But the characters are lovely, the romance was just the right amount of angsty and sweet, the setting was a promising urban fantasy set-up... and most importantly, I was entertained and I liked it.

I will be reading the rest of the trilogy, because I can't help myself.

This book could also count for:

  • Romantic Suspense
  • Supernatural
  • Witches
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
audio book narrated by Charlotte Parry
Rating:  3.5 Stars


I'm conflicted, much like I was when I read my very first Deanna Raybourn book, Silent in the Grave.  I'm conflicted because Deanna Raybourn's ability to create vivid imagery and atmospheric narrative is just so excellent.  But at the same time, she tends to spend a lot of time either building the story, or dragging out certain events in the story.

So I don't know how I feel about this book, exactly, because aside from the few scenes that felt dragged, I had a hard time really liking any of the characters, even Theodora.  The romance was just hard to stomach considering the Count acts like an asshole most of the book, and Theodora kind of lets him get away with acting like an asshole and she is still attracted to him.

And the mystery... was actually quite predictable and I had it figured out, even if there was a bit of a twist in the end that I didn't see coming.  But that's just me.

My thoughts aren't complete, and I don't really think they will be complete.

On an aside, I listened to the audio book version of this book, narrated by Charlotte Parry, which was absolutely excellent!

And, at the risk of spoiling the book, the vampire aspect isn't exactly what I had been expecting, with the conclusion a bit open-ended.  It's a little hard to determine what Raybourn was going for with this book, though I don't know that I really want to try too hard to figure it out.

This book could also count towards:

  • Gothic
  • Supernatural
  • Werewolves (?) -- There are mentions of certain characters "going wolf" and disappearing into the mountains.  This is very brief.
  • Terrifying Women

 


 


This book gets an extra star just for the writing and atmosphere, because it's beautifully done.  I might even reserve half a star for the MC, Linda Martin, but really, there were a few things about her that frustrated me.  Nonetheless, there were also some things about her I approved of.

The romance was also fairly insta, and the chemistry between Linda and Raoul wasn't exactly what I would call existent.  I had a hard time seeing that they were in love, but their few scenes together were pretty sweet.

The best character in the book was probably nine-year-old Phillipe de Valmy.  Everyone else, I didn't really care for.

It was hard to get into the book in the beginning, but when the first signs of danger started showing (which DID take some time for the story to come around to), the rest of the book was quite engaging.  But before that, I wasn't entirely sure where this book was trying to go.

These are just a few scattered thoughts, and that's pretty much it.

This book could also count towards:

  • Gothic
  • Supernatural
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
audio book narrated by Emma Thompson
(with Richard Armitage - introduction)
Rating:  2.5 Stars


I had to go back and re-listen to this book from the beginning after I realized I had no idea what was going on after finishing the first or second chapter--I don't quite remember.  Whether this was because of my own wandering mind because of having a lot to think about on a personal level lately... or just the book's inability to keep my attention, I couldn't really say.

I am in agreement with many other reviews that this book is extraordinarily verbose.  There's a lot of repetition about specific points in the book: whether or not Mrs. Grose knows what's going on with the children, whether or not Mrs. Grose sees the specters, whether or not the children see the ghosts, why Miles was expelled from school, the fact that the children are amazingly beautiful.  These particular subjects kept being brought up over and over again.  And I even recall some point in the book where at least half an hour to an hour (audio book) is spent on: "Do they see them?"  "They do see?"  "Why do they deny it?" "Do they really see?"  "Do they know?"  And so on, and so forth about the children.

And there's a lot of circular conversations between the governess and Mrs. Grose about how the children behave and what Mrs. Grose knows and why Mrs. Grose has never done or said anything, and so on and so forth.

And even in the end, all I know is that a governess was hired for little girl Flora.  There are ghosts in this home.  Miles was expelled from school for whatever reason.  And ghosts keep appearing and are evil and the children need saving, but the children won't admit to seeing the ghosts.  And Mrs. Grose talks in circles.

This book could also count towards:

  • Genre: Horror
  • Ghosts
  • Haunted Houses
  • Gothic
  • Supernatural

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-bingo-2017-more-book.html
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text 2017-09-22 18:42
: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn $2.99
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth. 

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