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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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text 2017-08-25 15:18
Friday Reads 8.25.2017
Body on Baker Street - Vicki Delany
How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny
By Sharon Kay Penman The Sunne In Splendour: A Novel of Richard III (1st) - Sharon Kay Penman
Dial Meow for Murder (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery) - Bethany Blake
A Treacherous Curse - Deanna Raybourn

Happy Friday!

 

So I'm about a quarter of the way through of Body on Baker Street and I am enjoying it a lot. It's a  light read which I need between The Sunne and the Splendour giving me a heart attack  and How the Light Gets In wrecking havoc on my emotions. Oh Louise Penny, what you do to me... 

 

If I finish that one before the weekend is through, I will read Dial Meow for Murder. The first in that series was a surprise hit for me, so I'm eager to crack open the sequel.

 

I also got approved through Netgalley for the latest in the Lady Speedwell series. I loved the first book and had mixed feelings about the second. The synopsis for this last one leaves me scratching my head but I'm willing to give it a chance. This will be the make it or break it book for me in the series though.  I may throw that one in the mix or get to it next week.

 

Other plans include enjoying the beautiful weather and a MLB game. The fiancee is a huge fan.

 

Happy reading everyone! :) 

 

 

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text 2017-08-25 09:50
Halloween Bingo 2017 - Some Book Suggestions
Cold Sight: Extrasensory Agents Book 1 - Leslie A. Kelly
Sleep With the Lights On - Maggie Shayne
Size 12 Is Not Fat - Meg Cabot
The Camelot Caper - Elizabeth Peters
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn
The Restorer - Amanda Stevens
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier
The Dollhouse Murders - Betty Ren Wright

So I took some time and went through all the books that I have marked 'Read' on my GR, mainly for the Romantic Suspense square--it is my comfort, go-to genre after all.  But along the way, I found some books I'd like to list as possibilities for other squares as well.

 

I'm a wimp when it comes to horror, but imagine my surprise when I found how many books I've already read that could be considered horror--either because tagged at GR, or because they just seem to have horror elements.

 

Anyway...

 

 

I've got lists of books to recommend for Romantic Suspense, but I'm going to narrow it down to books I've personally enjoyed, that also might have a bit of a dark, gritty, chilling atmosphere.

 

Untraceable - Laura Griffin Snapped - Laura Griffin Shadow Fall (Tracers) - Laura Griffin Far Gone - Laura Griffin 

First of all, I would recommend anything written by Laura Griffin--her murder mysteries are pretty gritty, and her characters are tough and great to follow.  Not everything she's written is a murder mystery, and there are a couple military romances slipped into her Tracers series.  But for the most part, I've pretty much enjoyed every books of hers I've read.  I personally like to read books in order if it's a series, but her books can be read out of order or as stand-alones.  Untraceable is the first book in her Tracers series, and some of my personal favorite installments include: Snapped, Twisted, Exposed, Shadow Fall, and Deep Dark.  There's also a stand-alone book called Far Gone that's not bad either.

 

Stealing Shadows (Shadows, #1) - Kay Hooper Out of the Shadows (Shadows, #3) - Kay Hooper Touching Evil - Kay Hooper Chill of Fear - Kay Hooper

For a more supernatural experience, I would recommend Kay Hooper's Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, which follows unit of FBI agents who are all psychic.  The truth is, the first few sub-trilogy arcs are pretty good--the most recent ones are kind of draggy.  I personally liked the first four sub-trilogies, and here are some of my personal favorites:

-- Stealing Shadows, Hiding in the Shadows, Out of the Shadows, Touching Evil, Whisper of Evil, Sense of Evil, Hunting Fear, Chill of Fear, Sleeping Fear.

 

Hunting Fear has a haunted hotel setting; Stealing Shadows is the first book in the series; Out of the Shadows is the strongest book of the series and has a serial killer.

 

Waking Nightmare - Kylie Brant Waking the Dead - Kylie Brant Deadly Dreams - Kylie Brant

Kylie Brant's Mindhunter series is also a personal favorite--they can be read as stand-alones as well, but brief references to previous characters will sometimes come up.  

  • The first book, Waking Nightmare is not a murder mystery, but a mystery nonetheless with a serial rapist.  
  • The second book, Waking Evil has some very subtle paranormal stuff and some significance to do with the woods; also takes place in a small town.
  • The third book, Waking the Dead has a serial killer.
  • The fourth book is about a kidnapping.
  • The fifth book, Deadly Dreams, is my personal favorite, with some paranormal stuff, and a serial arsonist/killer.
  • The sixth book is my least favorite, but involves murder.

 

Deadly Fear - Cynthia Eden Deadly Heat - Cynthia Eden Deadly Lies - Cynthia Eden

Cynthia Eden has a trilogy called Deadly that involves teams from a special FBI violent crimes unit.  All three books feature a serial killer, and the first book takes place in a small town:  Deadly Fear, Deadly Heat, Deadly Lies.

 

Leslie A. Kelly wrote two series I personally enjoyed a lot:  Black CATs and Extrasensory Agents.

 

Fade to Black - Leslie A. Kelly Pitch Black - Leslie A. Kelly Black at Heart - Leslie A. Kelly

 

Black CATs follows an FBI team that specializes in cyber crimes, and all three books involve a serial killer.  The first book takes place in a small town:  Fade to Black, Pitch Black, Black at Heart.

 

COLD SIGHT: Extrasensory Agents Book 1 - Leslie A. Kelly COLD TOUCH: Extrasensory Agents Book 2 - Leslie A. Kelly Cold Memory (Extrasensory Agents) - Leslie A. Kelly

Extrasensory Agents follows a group of psychic paranormal investigators, so these books may apply to the 'Amateur Sleuth' square as well as 'Supernatural.'  The first and third books take place in a small town.  Cold Sight, Cold Touch, Cold Memory.

 

Sleep With the Lights On - Maggie Shayne Wake to Darkness - Maggie Shayne Innocent Prey - Maggie Shayne Deadly Obsession - Maggie Shayne

I would also like to mention Maggie Shayne's Brown and de Luca series, which was phenomenal!  The first book is called Sleep with the Lights On, and follows Rachel de Luca who, after a corneal transplant, begins to see visions of people being murdered.  So this book would work for the 'Serial/Spree Killer' square, the 'Supernatural' square, and 'Amateur Sleuth' square, since Rachel is a book author.

 

A non-series book I would recommend is Maggie Shayne's The Gingerbread Man, which really just works for 'Romantic Suspense' and 'Terror in a Small Town.'

 

I wish I had more stand-alone books to recommend, but it looks like I've mainly been reading series books.  Some other romantic suspense authors I would suggest, however, would be Nora Roberts (duh) and Jayne Ann Krentz and Linda Howard.

 

 

 

 I don't read as many Cozy Mysteries as MbD does, but I DO have a couple particular cozy series I happened to like:

 

Size 12 Is Not Fat - Meg Cabot Truly, Madly - Heather Webber

Heather Wells by Meg Cabot -- the first book is Size 12 Is Not Fat

Lucy Valentine by Heather Webber -- the first book is Truly, Madly

 

Both series are five books long and very enjoyable.

 

Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters The Camelot Caper - Elizabeth Peters Devil May Care - Elizabeth Peters

I'm personally planning on reading either the Crocodile on the Sandbank or The Camelot Caper, both books by Elizabeth Peters.  If the library happens to pick up one of my book recommendations before the game ends, I've also requested Devil May Care and The Jackal's Head... which will mean I'll have too many books to choose from...

 

 

 

This book has probably already been mentioned, as it will fit for several other squares, but I read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (actually listened to it as a full-cast audio), and absolutely loved it.  There's murder, ghosts, supernatural... so many possibilities!

 

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman The Dollhouse Murders - Betty Ren Wright 

Meanwhile, I'm also going to recommend The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright, which is a children's ghost story, involving, well, the titular haunted dollhouse.  I read this when I was in middle school and it scared the crap out of me... but I'm a weenie, so that means nothing.

 

The Ghost Bride is also an excellent book for these two squares, but like The Graveyard Book, it can fit in several other squares as well:  Supernatural, Magical Realism, Chilling Children, Terrifying Women, Diverse Voices... and if the Ox-Headed Patrol Guards from the Underworld count as Monsters, then it can go in that square as well.  And at the risk of giving away some of the end of book stuff, there's a mythological creature in there somewhere too.

 

The Ghost Bride - Yangsze Choo Phantom Evil by Heather Graham (2012-03-27) - Heather Graham;

Phantom Evil is the first book in Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters, another series about paranormal law enforcement in the FBI--a bunch of psychics are gathered into a team to investigate murders that might involve ghostly happenings or a haunted house.

 

 

 

I didn't think I'd have anything to contribute to this square, but apparently I've read enough Amanda Quick historical romance/mysteries to have a few recommendations!

 

'Til Death Do Us Part - Amanda Quick The River Knows - Amanda Quick Wait Until Midnight (Jove Historical Romance) - Amanda Quick The Perfect Poison - Amanda Quick

'Til Death Do Us Part, The River Knows, Wait Until Midnight, and any of her Arcane Society historical novels would go in this square.  The Arcane Society books also count for 'Supernatural.'  

 

 

 

I consider Deanna Raybourn's books all 'Gothic', though some of them would also fit into the 'Darkest London' square.  I think Silent in the Grave, The Dark Enquiry, and her Veronica Speedwell books all take place in London.  All the books from both Lady Julia Grey and Veronica Speedwell would count towards 'Amateur Sleuth' as well.

 

Silent in the Grave - Deanna Raybourn A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn

  • Julia Grey series:  Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor, The Dark Road to Darjeeling, and The Dark Enquiry
  • Veronica Speedwell series:  A Curious Beginning and A Perilous Undertaking

 

The Restorer - Amanda Stevens The Kingdom - Amanda Stevens The Prophet - Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens' The Graveyard Queen is another great series, considered Gothic, with ghosts and hauntings and murder and mayhem.  I've only read the first three books, but recently learned that there are now six total.  The first book is The Restorer, and while this book would also fit the 'Romantic Suspense' square, there really isn't a whole lot of romance in it.  I would even consider this series to be 'horror' as well.  The second book, The Kingdom, takes place in a small town.

 

 

 

I've only got one author I can think of to recommend for this square: Juliet Marillier.  She loves to use a forest or woods as her setting for a lot of books.  For instance, her young adult high fantasy series, the Shadowfell trilogy (Shadowfell, Raven Flight, The Calling) involve a lot of travel back and forth a forest, and there are fairy creatures significant to the forest.

Shadowfell - Juliet Marillier Raven Flight - Juliet Marillier The Caller - Juliet Marillier

 

Moonlight has already mentioned Daughter of the Forest in a previous post, a book that I've been meaning to read forever now, and has been sitting on my bookshelf for at least three years.

 

Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier

Another young adult fantasy by Marillier is Wildwood Dancing, which involves anything from the supernatural, to talking frogs, to vampires, to a Gothic setting in a Transylvanian castle, to a significant forest with fairy creatures and a witch named Draguta.

 

 

***

 

Now that I've rambled on forever, I'm going to hop on over to Murder by Death's Halloween Bingo reading lists and put some of these suggestions there.  This post had been started mainly for the 'Romantic Suspense' square, and there are a lot of other Rom-suspense books I would recommend, but I wanted to focus more on the murder mysteries if I could.

 

If anyone has missed it, here is a link to MbD's compiled list of links to the Halloween Bingo reading lists.

 

 

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