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text 2017-08-18 11:32
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Ani's Tentative Reading List!
The Nightmare Charade (Arkwell Academy) - Mindee Arnett
Just Past Midnight - Amanda Stevens
The Dead Travel Fast - Deanna Raybourn
Saving Fish from Drowning - Amy Tan
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions (Audio) - Neil Gaiman
Blue Dahlia - Nora Roberts
Black Rose - Nora Roberts
Red Lily - Nora Roberts
The Lotus Palace - Jeannie Lin

 

Halloween Bingo 2017



So, obviously, instead of finishing up books I'm currently reading, I've spent the past two days looking for book possibilities for all of my Halloween Bingo squares.

I've already been making a tentative listing of books I'd like to read for my own customized Bingo card above, courtesy of Moonlight Reader and picmonkey!  Thanks Moonlight!

Tentatively, this is what I'm planning on reading, four books of which are from my 2017 Reading Assignment list, and most of the other books are pre-owned TBR, and seriously just need to be read.

Please excuse my drawn out ramblings.


Magical Realism:  Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
-- I have had this book for a very, very long time and have never read it.  As I read through the summary, it struck me that this particular book could count as magical realism.  I had considered reading this book for the Diverse Voices square, as well, so if it doesn't seem at all like magical realism, I might shuffle it off onto some other square.

Other possibilities:  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen; The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker


Classic Noir:  Undecided
-- I've never read books in this genre before, but am open to trying something new.  Also, keeping this square allows me to cut out some of the 'horror' squares, and I'm more partial to mystery anyway.  The first group read for September will hopefully find me a nice book I can read for this square!


Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
-- There are a lot of possibilities for this broad category, but I have recently acquired a lot of Nora Roberts books and would like to get through them.  I read something by Nora Roberts for last year's Halloween Bingo (Dark Witch), so it wouldn't hurt to read another something (or three somethings) for this year's bingo.

Other possibilities:  Devil May Ride by Wendy Roberts; Haunted by Heather Graham; An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James; This House is Haunted by John Boyne


Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
-- The Nightmare Charade is a book off of my Reading Assignment list, and this, unfortunately, is the only square it will fit on the card (unless I use the Free Space, of course).  And yes, I DO want to have it read, as I've been planning to read it in either September or October for the longest time now.  Otherwise, there are many other possibilities to pick from.


Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin
-- This was the next book I thought about after the Amy Tan book listed above.  In fact, if Saving Fish From Drowning does not actually work for Magical Realism, then I may just shuffle it back down here.  But, in the meantime, I AM quite interested in reading The Lotus Palace, a book written by an Asian author, that takes place in historical China, and is a mystery novel as well!

Other possibilities:  Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan


Cozy Mystery:  Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
-- Oh, the possibilities for this game square!  There are any number of cozy mysteries that I am quite interested in, so the above may not be my final choice.  It is just the first book that popped into my mind when I thought of cozy mysteries.

Other possibilities:  Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris; Die Buying by Laura DiSilverio; The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde; Frozen Stiff by Annelise Ryan; Shadowland by Meg Cabot


Witches:  Undecided
-- I am not a hundred percent familiar with witch books, but I think I should be able to find something.  If all else fails, I think Nora Roberts has a few books about witches.  There are two books in particular that I own that have a witch, so I may just pick one of them.

Possibilities:  Jaxson by Alisa Woods; Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward; Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Vampires:  The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
-- I'm not big on vampire books, so I had considered doing a Dracula reread via the full-cast audio that I own.  Then, while I was going through my shelves, I stumbled upon this little gem by Deanna Raybourn, of which I had just purchased with an Audible credit not long ago.  The book takes place in Transylvania, and there is talk of creepy castles and charming vampires.  I'm totally reading this one for this square!  And to think, I almost decided to exclude it from my choices!


Country House Mystery:  Undecided
-- The truth is, I'm not sure I know what a 'Country House Mystery' is, but I'm willing to find out.  Recommendations are welcome!  Though one of the books I found that was listed as a popular country house mystery was Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  I'd been meaning to get some more of Dame Agatha's work read.  What does everyone else think?


Haunted House:  Black Rose by Nora Roberts
-- Once again, the possibilities are endless.  But I'm starting a trilogy, and I'll be damned if I leave another series unfinished for a long time.  Black Rose continues the the trilogy, In the Garden by Nora Roberts, following behind Blue Dahlia, and there is talk of a ghost being present in the setting of the book's house for over a hundred years.  I'd call that a haunted house!

Other possibilities:  This House is Haunted by John Boyne; Ghost Horse by Patricia Rosemoor; Haunted by Heather Graham


Aliens:  Undecided
-- I don't know why I kept this square, however, I DO have one book that will definitely fit, if nothing else will.  For the meantime, I'm going to keep my options open, but chances are, I'm going to read my one and only possibility for this game square so far:  The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa.  You wouldn't think that this book would fit, but one of the characters is an alien, even if not the creepy weird aliens of space invaders and horror.


Genre: Horror:  Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
-- Halloween wouldn't be complete without a book by Neil Gaiman.  Smoke and Mirrors is a short story collection that is tagged as 'horror,' so I'm going to go with that.  The summary gives a great description that comes off kind of horror-like anyway.  Again, this is a tentative pick, I might change my mind later if I stumble upon something else.  But I own this in audio, so the chances of me changing my mind is a bit slim.


Free Space:  Red Lily by Nora Roberts
-- I can't find another spot to place this book so that I can finish off the trilogy.  So it will go here unless I can find a different place for it that I don't already have another book lined up for.


Monsters:  Undecided
-- Okay... this is another square I'm not entirely sure why I kept.  I thought I'd be able to find something to fit, but I can't come up with anything outside of dragons (mythological creatures), which there are plenty of books for.  Do random animal shifters count?  Feline shifters?  Bear shifters?  Unknown animal, possible monster shifter?  I suppose I could always read something about Bigfoot...

One possibility:  His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik -- because, dragons.
Another possibility:  The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett -- because giant turtles, and dragons.
Last possibility (that I can think of):  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
-- because, fantastic beasts and mythical/magical creatures... which probably include dragons.


In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
-- I picked up about three Victoria Holt books from a library sale a long time ago and have been looking for a chance to introduce myself.  Ever since my first Gothic romance, I've been paying more attention to author names that come up in connection with the genre.  On the Night of the Seventh Moon's summary mentions something about the significance of a forest.  I'm going to go with that.


Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
-- I have a feeling that this category was created probably for a cozy mystery of some sort, where the protagonist is often times NOT in law enforcement.  But as the description isn't entirely restrictive, I decided to go with another Reading Assignment selection, wherein there is a mystery, there is a murder, and the protagonist is a psychologist.


Werewolves:  Undecided
-- I probably have the same love for werewolf books as I do vampire books, but if I were honest, I'd be more likely to pick up a werewolf book than a vampire book.  So this square remained in my choices, and now I'm trying to figure out which of my wolf shifter books I want to read... if wolf shifter = werewolf, that is.

Possibilities:  In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler; Jaxson by Alisa Woods


Gothic:  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
-- There are a number of books that I'm considering reading for this space, if only because I'd recently been drawn to Gothic romance and the genre appeals to me.  I've been shuffling around possible books by Mary Stewart, Susanna Kearsley, Simone St. James, and maybe even Kate Morton.  On the other hand, I DID pick up three Victoria Holt books at a library sale, and having already chosen one for one of my game spaces (see Dark, Dark Woods), I have two more I could try.  So this is a tentative selection.

Other possibilities:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart; Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels; The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley; The Visitor by Amanda Stevens; Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt; The Black Opal by Victoria Holt; An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James; The Secret Garden by Kate Morton


Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
-- Frankly, this is a 'Free Space' for me since romantic suspense is my go-to genre.  I have so many possible picks that I my biggest problem is figuring out which book I want to read for this category.  So, to make life easier on myself, I went and chose one more Reading Assignment book, one of the books that I kept telling myself I wanted to read during the summer, but because of REASONS, I never got to it.  I'm not even going to give myself other possible reads, because I'd just end up becoming wishy-washy in my choices.

How much we want to bet that I'll end up changing my mind and reading something else anyway?


Darkest London:  Undecided
-- I had a few books I was interested in reading for this space until I realized that the books I'd been choosing were set in England, but not in London.  Well, that ended up being a problem I figured I could easily remedy, so another search had to be done.

And would you look at that?  Goodreads has a nifty list I decided to peruse:  Books Set in London.
However, since that list has anything from contemporary romance to Paddington Bear, I decided to do a more narrowed search of 'mysteries set in London' and came up with this list:  Best London Mysteries.

Possibilities:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick; Mistress by Amanda Quick; What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris; The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle; London Falling by Paul Cornell; And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander; The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry; A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas


Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
-- So I'm not entirely certain if this book fits--the summary mentions a murder, the book is tagged 'mystery.'  I really DO want to read this book (or rather, listen to it since I have it on audio).  But I'm not entirely sure that this is a murder mystery, per se, because some parts of the summary hint that this is a death that occurred in history.  Nonetheless, I obviously have a lot of books to choose from considering how broad a category this one is, requiring only that we read a murder mystery, any murder mystery.  So I might just include a few alternate options.

Other Possibilities:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin; Chasing Evil by Kylie Brant; The Prey by Allison Brennan; In the Woods by Tana French; Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh; The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin; The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin; The First Victim by J.B. Lynn; A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas


Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
-- Another category that has a lot of possible books I could read.  But to keep things simple, I'm inserting another Reading Assignment book on this space.  Dear Maggie's summary mentions the presence of a serial killer--that's good enough for me.

Other Possibilities:  Chasing Evil by Kylie Brant; The Hunt by Allison Brennan;


Classic Horror:  Undecided
I don't know what to pick.  Maybe a reread of Dracula, although, the truth is, I'm sort of waiting out for the October group read and will probably just use it to fill this square since the group reads are wild cards.


Terrifying Women:  Undecided
-- Amanda Stevens has written a book that I recall being tagged as 'horror.'  Then again, I can always pick up another Shirley Jackson book, or maybe something by Barbara Michaels... Daphne du Maurier...

Possibilities:  The Lottery by Shirley Jackson; Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels; The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart; The Devil's Footprints by Amanda Stevens


Locked Room Mystery:  Undecided
-- I've only done a cursory search of the books that would fit this category and narrowed my choices down to a few, though I'm not entirely sure what I want to read.  All of these titles I found at the Goodreads Locked Room Mystery list.

Possibilities:  The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux; The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle; The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins; The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie;  Cover Her Face by P.D. James; The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/08/halloween-bingo-2017-anis-tentative.html
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review 2017-07-14 12:15
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell is home to nurse her dying aunt. Her world starts to fall apart when she dies, Veronica has plans for her future that she has to put on hold to survive.  Into her life comes an enigmatic German baron who knows something about her past. He passes her to his friend Stoker for her safety and then he dies, now Stoker and Veronica are suspects and to clear their names they have to investigate.

 

Veronica is a lot of fun, interesting and no-nonsense, like several of her countrywomen of the period.

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review 2017-06-10 18:52
A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries...

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

 
**********
 
A Perilous Undertaking is a sequel to A Curious Beginning, but this book can read as a stand-alone. Though I do think it could be practical to read the first book to really get to know the characters since Veronica Speedwell, well she has an interesting family situation.
 
In this book, we get a deeper insight into both Veronica and Stoker's families. And, we finally learn why Stoker doesn't want to have anything to do with his family. Veronica meets a relative. However, she knows that the one person she really wants to see can she never met. I do hope that one day they will be able to meet, to be honest.
 
The case was interesting, however, the conclusion felt a bit like a letdown. I guess I just wanted a more shocking conclusion to the case. This felt like a very "proper" case ending. If the ending had been a bit more intriguing and intense would I perhaps have enjoyed it better. However, I did enjoy the progress of the book, the investigation into who murdered Artemisia. Veronica and Stoker are a great team and it will be interesting to see how this "relationship" will progress.
 
There are so many funny scenes in this book that left me smiling. Veronica may now and then seem a bit too modern for the setting, but I can't help but to adore her. She is refreshingly frank. And of course, Stoker as well, especially when he gets embarrassed.
 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!
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review 2017-04-20 14:41
Thoughts: A Perilous Beginning
A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Beginning
by Deanna Raybourn

Book 2 of Veronica Speedwell

 

 

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....



I'm going to admit, the excitement of this series kind of faded after a while, and that refreshing feel you get from a first book that starts off a series strong might have worn off.  Nonetheless, I still loved reading A Perilous Undertaking a lot, and continue to enjoy the interactions between Veronica and Stoker--these two create a really strong, intimate, yet not quite romantic relationship and partnership that feels, at times, even deeper than a lot of romantic couplings I've read before.

Admittedly, this second book didn't seem to carry the same "flashy new gift" feel you get from discovering a lovely new favorite book--the giddiness I felt for the previous book didn't rear its head.  After finishing the read, I'd say that I like the first book, A Curious Beginning (my review) more.  Although it doesn't escape my notice that the story set-up is much more to the point in this second book; in contrast to A Curious Beginning, this second book doesn't spend endless pages taking you on a side tangent that seems unnecessary in the long run.

I'm not sure how I feel about that, because it has long been one of the complaints I've had about Deanna Raybourn's work since the Lady Julia Grey series--the fact that she spends way too much time building each book's story, world, and introductory.

So I found myself pleasantly surprised at how quickly A Perilous Undertaking hopped right into the murder mystery, bringing Veronica and Stoker into the investigation without dawdling.

Coupled with Raybourn's beautiful writing style, and this book would be darn near perfect for me.


While the first book in this series seemed to focus on Veronica on a more personal level, it feels like this second book is a simple, typical murder mystery; and somehow Veronica and Stoker get entangled in the entire, convoluted twists.  In fact, I sort of got a "cozy mystery" vibe from it, though I suppose it wouldn't be far-fetched to label this book a 'Cozy.'

We still get to touch upon some of the family secrets surrounding Veronica and how she's been affected since the big reveal in the previous book.  And, just as well, we also get to touch upon some personal history of Stoker's--we even get to meet two more siblings in the Templeton-Vane family.

While the murder mystery seemed quite predictable, I can't say it wasn't outlined well.  The progression was great, and the red herrings were placed appropriately.  Related characters were colorful and intriguing in their own way.  I just also get a bit frustrated with characters who get all "I'm not telling you anything even if it could help an innocent man go free" for whatever strange reasons that I didn't really understand, to be honest.  Moving past that, the overall story was still lovely and I enjoyed following Veronica and Stoker in their investigations.

And, as always, I enjoy the character interactions a lot, especially between Veronica and others.  She's a very likable woman, with all the traits of a strong, independent heroine, which is why I love her so much.  She's also quite indifferent to how others perceive her, and pretty much just does as she pleases.  Her banter with Stoker is probably the best parts of the book.

If there was one thing I'd have to say I had trouble with, it would be that Veronica's character feels a lot more... deliberate in this book than the previous.  It feels like the author has taken many pains to make sure of the emphasis on Veronica's open independence in everything she says or does, from how she lives her life, to her unabashed love of sexual dalliances, to her indifferent, blasé feelings about how people view her.  In agreement with some other reviewers, there may not be much explicit sex in this book, but it certainly is mentioned A LOT, and by Veronica, no less.  I've read hardcore erotica where the characters don't even talk about sex this much.

But it's not just about Veronica's open views about sex that are deliberately emphasized.  It's her entire demeanor from her ideas about the heart, feelings, the way she interacts with other characters.  Even her stubbornness in always being right or always being in charge of everything--as Stoker DOES point out at some point, indirectly.  While I love that she's so confident in herself, and I love that she's not shy about it, I feel like the way it was presented just felt too calculated from the author's side--as if the readers aren't already aware that Veronica is so free with her life and thoughts, and we need to be reminded over and again with every action and dialogue, all of it kind of blatantly aggressively presented.

Veronica may not fit into the setting's time frame, and is probably way too forward thinking for the era she lives in to feel real.  And, truth be told, I love her straight forward, Devil May Care personality, just fine.  But she is sometimes, throughout the book, presented as way too perfect, even in spite of some of the flaws the author gives her.

I'm not sure I know how to describe it properly, honestly; but the "in your face" way that Veronica's attributes are presented... it can get a little eye-roll-inducing at times.

Nonetheless, A Perilous Undertaking is still an exceptionally enjoyable book.  And I loved it!  And I am definitely looking forward to the third book.


***

Booklikes-opoly


Roll #1:
This book is tagged as 'mystery.'

Page Count:  345
Case Award:  +$3.00

Current Bank:  $23.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/04/thoughts-perilous-undertaking.html
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review 2017-03-20 16:10
A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2)- Deanna Raybourn
A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn

While Victorian England is not generally my go-to time period (Usually I am a sucker for anything Tudor-Era or Dark Ages), one Miss Veronica Speedwell is quickly making me think I should venture out of my bubble more often. This is the second novel in the Veronica Speedwell series. It is just as much fun as the first. Hopefully there will be many more adventures to follow. 

 

The mystery wasn't anything overly complicated and shocking. I had most of it figured out rather quickly. The characters are what sell. Veronica borders on anachronistic at times but her snark and wit are enough for me to forgive the offense. Stoker hits just about every point on my literary boyfriend checklist. The eye patch is just a delicious bonus. I imagine him to be much like Alan Van Sprang's Sir Francis Bryan from The Tudors. Just in Victorian dress. Lady Wellie was a fantastic addition to the ever growing cast of characters. 

 

In addition to getting to know Veronica and Stoker better, I was also introduced to how to say dildo in a variety of languages. Seriously, I don't think I've seen the word phallus so many times in a book since the textbook I had for a college class on Human Sexuality. If that isn't enough to peak your interest, I'm not really sure what more I can offer. I can't recommend this series enough for people interesting in taking a quick romp through Victorian England. And really, how can you say no to that cover? 

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