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review 2018-02-14 15:44
Thoughts: That's Amore!
That's Amore!: Meet the ParentsI Do, Don't I?There Goes the Groom - Tori Carrington,Janelle Denison,Leslie Kelly

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

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

 

 

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

Meet the Parents by Janelle Denison

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

I Do, Don't I? by Tori Carrington

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

There Goes the Groom by Leslie Kelly

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



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


Meet the Parents by Janelle Denison
Rating:  3.5 Stars

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


There Goes the Groom by Leslie Kelly
Rating:  3.5 Stars

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

Simply put, this novella was a sweet one.

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

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

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/thoughts-thats-amore.html
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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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review 2017-08-17 02:56
Thoughts: Bare Essentials
Bare Essentials - Jill Shalvis,Leslie Kelly

Bare Essentials
-- Naughty But Nice by Jill Shalvis
-- Naturally Naughty by Leslie Kelly

 

 

Naughty But Nice

Lingerie model Cassie Tremaine Montgomery intends to have her revenge on the citizens of her hometown—starting with seducing the sheriff, Sean "Tag" Taggart. Tag, however, isn't cooperating.  He's more than willing to set the sheets on fire with her, but he's asking for more than just sizzling sex….  He knows Cassie's not as tough as she pretends.  And he knows she cares about him—even if she won't admit it.  So he'll just turn up the heat until she concedes there's more between them than this red-hot passion.

Naturally Naughty

Kate Jones, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, is home.  And she's got an agenda.  To get revenge on the man who humiliated her mother, Kate's going to seduce that man's son—the town's golden boy, John Winfield Jr.—and then leave him drooling in a puddle of lust.  However, when she finds herself seduced by a sexy stranger named Jack, little does she guess that the tables have just been turned….



Interesting premise with the adult women's store.  Standard premise of small town girls living a crappy life, wanting to get out and make something of themselves to show their town up.  The revenge story doesn't really build up all that well, and some of the revenge points aren't exactly resolved; however, in it's own way, that kind of creates a different story based on two women's need to take their revenge on a town that always treated them terribly.

Instead, we get a sweet set of stories with a love story and a journey to self-discovery.  Sort of.

 

 

Naughty But Nice

by Jill Shalvis
-- 3.5 Stars

Naughty But Nice is a typical Jill Shalvis type story--witty, fun, sexy... with just enough story for it to be enjoyable, and just enough drama for it to be thought-provoking, even while being a bit too angst-ridden for my liking.

Cassie is a great character, with all the sass and outrageous personality to make her stand out.  Unfortunately, Tag is a little boring, but he's at least not a broody alpha and makes for great boyfriend material.  The romance is sweet, but might have come off a little juvenile at times, and yet quite predictable as it was.  Cassie might have been a bit too stubborn; Tag might have been a bit pushy.  The romance itself might have gotten a bit cheesy.

And other characters were in line with a typical Jill Shalvis small-town-set, all with their interestingly unique personalities and a potential worth of back story.

The conclusion still seemed open-ended, with the issue between tag and his father quite unresolved.  The issues concerning Cassie's revenge plot kind of loses wind, and it would have been nice to see at least one person from Cassie's past eat their words, or get walloped with some sort of repentance or even get shown up.

But we make this story more about Cassie's own self-revelations, with some life-altering events... and then we move on.  The open ended resolution is probably apt as a way of showing that life just moves on whether or not you get your revenge.  There are always going to be people you treat you fairly, and others who will never see past their pre-judgments.

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned here; but I'm not entirely sure I can put my finger on what it is.

Naturally Naughty

by Leslie Kelly
-- 3.5 Stars

I found that I liked Naturally Naughty more than Naughty But Nice, if only because the romance felt a bit more down-to-earth.  I mean, sure there's a big "lust and first sight" factor going on here, but it's pretty standard, and not completely unbelievable.  HOWEVER, when we throw in the "meant to be at first sight" deal more towards the end--that whole "I think I've loved you since that first time I saw you" nonsense, I always roll my eyes.  Had that been left out of the story, I might have been more inclined to give it a higher rating.

The revenge story that slowly develops into another self-revelation story feels a bit more realistic in this second Bare Essentials story than the first had been.  Truth, it's not that Naughty But Nice wasn't a believable romance, it just felt too cheesy to be more than a sweet contemporary romance.

On the other hand, Naturally Naughty progresses at a more banal pace, skipping over certain points of the story that had already been told in the previous; but at the same time, it gives more of a feel for Kate's little self-discovery journey as she comes home to Pleasantville and begins to see things in a different light.

Kate and Jack make a great couple, with a nice lusty friendship that slowly builds into more of a loving intimacy as they work around their problems--a semi-feud between each other's family, and a secret hanging over each other's heads.  I find it kind of amusing that both Kate and Jack are holding onto the same secret, unwilling to tell the other for the same reason: they don't want to hurt each other from finding out about a loved one's betrayal.

This story, unlike the first, was more about a self-revelation for both Kate and Jack, and in that sense, I really liked it.  This story is a little bit better resolved, with some old hates and hurts being forgiven and forgotten readily after some reflection by each character.

Once again, I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned here as well.  Once again, I'm not entirely sure I know what it is.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/08/thoughts-bare-essentials.html
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review 2017-07-31 20:02
Series Review: Extrasensory Agents
Cold Sight - Leslie Parrish
Cold Touch: Extrasensory Agents - Leslie Parrish
Cold Memory (Extrasensory Agents) - Leslie A. Kelly

Extrasensory Agents
by Leslie Parrish (Leslie A. Kelly)
Book #1: Cold Sight | Rating:  3.0 Stars -- Previously Reviewed
Book #2: Cold Touch | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3: Cold Memory | Rating:  3.0 stars

Average Series Rating:  3.0 stars


First of all, this only bugs me a little after staring at the covers and realizing that they're not of the same set.  Cold Sight and Cold Touch were written a few years prior to Cold Memory (six or seven years, I think), and if you go to the Amazon pages, the first two books have new book cover illustrations that are a bit more cohesive with the newest book.  The covers I have chosen to display for the first two books are from the original paperbacks.

HOWEVER, unless you really care to look, you don't really notice the differences, aside from where the series' title is situated, the font type, and the author's name (Leslie Kelly used to write under the pseudonym 'Leslie Parrish' for her romantic suspense novels, but has recently chosen to simply add an 'A.' to her name for this genre instead.).

Otherwise, it's a cover illustration of a person standing in front of a dark background.  So... no biggie... if I don't stare at it for too long, because it will probably, eventually bug me into just changing out the cover illustrations so they all look like they're from the same set...

In fact, here you go:

 


I can't really say which covers I like better, or if there really is much of a difference aside from the cover models.  But I'm anal retentive enough to care about aesthetics on my blog.


Anyway....  Onto the actual review...

To be fair, I don't know if this series is finished yet or not (Leslie Kelly's author's note at the end of Cold Memory promises more books, but we'll see), so the average series rating is only for these first three books.  Almost two years ago, I stumbled upon Leslie Parrish's Extrasensory Agents and found the concept very intriguing.  But there hadn't been word on the continuing of this series, so I thought it was finished as a duology, even though there's room enough for even more expansion into this world--there are still other characters who have great potential for story.

About two or three months before the publication of the third book, Cold Memory, I stumbled across its existence and was quite pleased.

This series is getting a series review because I just never got around to reviewing Cold Touch.  As a matter of fact, I didn't even realize I'd reviewed the first book, Cold Sight, until I randomly fell onto its Goodreads book page and found that I'd written a few sentences about it.  You can click on the above link to see the original review, transferred to this blog.

Then the publication of Cold Memory was announced, and suddenly the idea of an individual review of Cold Sight, a review of Cold Touch as part of a bundle of other book highlights, and a subsequent, possible individual review of Cold Memory sort of felt unbalanced.  (Don't ask, my mind works in ways that I will NEVER understand myself, so everyone else need not try.)

Long story short, I really still don't have much to say about these books individually.  Once again, the concept of a group of psychic investigators holds much potential, and as many will know, is one type of plot device that I absolutely love!


Cold Sight was already reviewed, and had been really good if I could remember anything about it without consulting my previously written thoughts--again, see the link above.  If I get a chance, or even if, maybe this book is released as an audio, I might reread it.  According to Kelly's author note at the end of Cold Memory, both Cold Sight and Cold Touch were edited and re-released with some new short story content at the end of each book.  Even though these books only netted a mediocre 3-Star rating from me, I'm curious enough to go back and see what might have changed... if I even remember what was in the original to begin with.

Aiden McConnell is a straight-up psychic, is how his teammates describe him; and he was burned by the media and law enforcement on his last case, prior to the beginning of this book.  He's on sabbatical to recover his own peace of mind until investigative reporter Lexie Nolan stumbles into his life with a plea to help her uncover what she believes to be a serial killer targeting teenage girls.  No one in town believes her, so she turns to Aiden as a last resort.

As I recall, the pairing was a great working team, and I also loved that, while an investigative reporter, Lexie truly feels that something sinister is going on.  She's more interested in trying to save the teenagers than getting her next big story, because if what she suspects is true, then another girl will disappear soon.  Although since I really don't remember a whole lot about this book other than that I enjoyed, it, I'll leave my thoughts here for now.


Cold Touch was an enjoyable, dark and gritty read with a character who has an interesting, if depressing psychic ability--Olivia can touch a dead body and experience the last few moments of that victim's life before death.  So if said victim had been murdered, then Olivia will experience that exact murder.  Needless to say, it's obviously a trying skill to have--to die multiple times, in multiple ways, for the sake of investigating the truth of someone's death.

While I feel like Olivia could live without this kind of skill, and feel bad for her, I didn't like the way Detective Gabe Cooper goes about trying to tell her what she needs to do with her life.  I get that he's concerned about her mental health, but it's none of his business how she lives her life.  I found him a bit of a hypocrite and a jackass, even if I DID like Olivia, as well as the rest of her psychic team.

This particular story got very personal, as it also delves into some of Olivia's childhood, specifically a time when she'd been kidnapped, and would have died if not for a young boy whom she believes risked his life to save her.  And, once again, this book, much like the first, wasn't all that memorable, even if it was quite enjoyable when I read it.


Cold Memory is a study in conflicted feelings for me.  As enjoyable as the book was, and as much as I liked our main characters, the few things that stood out about this book included how bloody and gory the murders were, and how many grammatical errors and typos I found scattered throughout the book.  I'm not intentionally picky about typos--they happen and I usually ignore them... until they become abundant enough for me to notice and start caring.  Because this is a finished product, and I expect a more complete finished product.

But this is Leslie Kelly, and I'm willing to overlook some of these errors in publishing.  Because at least the book was still quite enjoyable, even if a little bloody and gory--goodness the murders in this book were bloody and gory.

Secondly, I found the mystery pretty predictable once the ball got rolling.  Members of a carnival community start dying--very gruesome deaths--and the killer decided to leave behind a vague clue at the first crime scene: a black feather.  Somehow, it gets missed, so the killer takes pains to point out that this piece of evidence got missed.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Gypsy Bell and eXtreme Investigations agent Mick Tanner have teamed up to find out who would want to kill an old man who was dying of cancer.  And as they continue their investigation, a few dark underbelly secrets of the carnival start to surface.

I hate to say that this book was predictable because of how obvious our author makes the clues; but it's true.  Specifically, a lot of the clues come from our killer, himself, via his POV of the book narration.  Because as soon as the killer gets his first scene, I had pretty much figured out who he was and why he was killing, even if there was a slight twist that, while I didn't really guess, I wasn't surprised about.

The romantic relationship between Gypsy and Mick was sweet and nice, if a little too quickly progressed.  The "I love yous" seemed a bit premature, yes, even after all they went through.  Though it helps that they were attracted to each other first, and completely honest with each other throughout their interactions about their feelings, and also that they knew each other as kids.  So I have little complaints about the romance, but it DID feel kind of bland.

Finally, the conclusion felt a little loose.  The murder mystery was solved, but felt a little forced.  Other loose ends weren't really tied together.  I'm not sure how I feel about the open-ended-ness of tangential story lines, such as the ordeal between Mick and his grandfather--maybe it was never meant to be resolved, despite the fact that there might have been a hint that something could potentially happen.


Nonetheless, this series has a great concept, and Kelly's writing can be enjoyable.  The truth is, I really DO look forward to the next book, and will hope that we get Derek's story first.  Because, the truth of the matter is, Julia's story is going to be a hard one for Kelly to create.

What I DID find a little disappointing, however, was the outcome of a certain character in Cold Memory that I hadn't been expecting, if mainly because of the build up Kelly gave to said character, that gave great potential for a future book.  A pity, that one.


***

 

Roll #34:  Last roll!
Cold Memory was read for this game space
--the book involves a carnival.

Page Count:  260
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $274.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/series-review-extrasensory-agents.html
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review 2017-07-31 03:54
Brief Thoughts: Heat Wave (anthology)
Heat Wave: Rex on the Beach/Getting Into Trouble/Shaken and Stirred - Stephanie Bond,Leslie Kelly,Heidi Betts

Heat Wave
-- 'Rex on the Beach' by Stephanie Bond
-- 'Getting Into Trouble' by Leslie Kelly
-- 'Shaken and Stirred' by Heidi Betts

Average Overall Rating:  3.4 Stars

 

 

A little con

Investigator Lucy Bell is looking for a runaway groom.  Fortunately, the almost-best-man (who's tastier than a double chocolate cheesecake) likely knows where he is.  All Lucy needs is a little deception--and a whole lot of hot 'n' sweaty persuasion!

A little magic

Single mom Allie Cavanaugh has played nice with others for too long.  Then Allie finds herself kissing a powerfully magnetic hypnotist at a carnival--in front of an audience!  Sure, maybe she's mesmerized, or maybe the 'real' Allie is finally waking up....

And a little late-night mischief!

Abby Weaver abandons the cool haven of her pharmaceutical basement for a girls-only week of sun, sand and fruity drinks.  That was the plan--until Abby finds herself going solo.  But the beach is a funny place--you never know just what (or who!) will wash up onshore....



It's pretty typical that novella-length stories are usually only good for a fast and breezy enjoyable taste of what an author is capable of.  The three stories in Heat Wave are entertaining, but don't really feel all that interesting, and probably not stories I'd come back to because they aren't entirely memorable.  And maybe a little cheesy to boot.

The beach theme was nice though--it made me want to take a little vacation to relax on a nice, sunny beach myself... despite the fact that I've never really been fond of beaches.

But hey, this sounds kind of nice:

"We'll get a great room with an ocean view, go shopping for sexy new beach outfits and laze around on the sand all day, reading steamy romance novels and sipping umbrella drinks."


Rex on the Beach -- 3.0 Stars

by Stephanie Bond

I have a lot of problems with the premise of this story, if only because I'm not entirely comfortable with how quickly our couple lusts after each other even when they each have their own commitments--one of which is a possible marriage.  But if you can get past that, the development of our main couple had a pretty good amount of potential to make a fun romance.

When two characters carrying secrets hop into a relationship, you're bound to have all sorts of juicy twists and turns to work with.  So maybe if this story had been a little bit longer, it might have been more intriguing.   But otherwise, even the characters as individuals were a little flat.

 

 

Getting Into Trouble -- 3.5 Stars

by Leslie Kelly

Leslie Kelly is always hit or miss with me, and I've read enough of her work to keep her on my radar.  But a lot of her older work, or mainly some of her contemporaries are laden with dated romances, and an underlying sense of judgment towards females and their sexuality--akin to slut shaming, I'd say, but not quite so blatantly.  I say 'dated romance' because it's quite typical to find these themes in older romance novels: a sense that good girls don't talk about sex, don't think about sex, and don't have sex.

Which is in full contradiction of the main female characters in her contemporaries, because they are cast as very sexual people--they DO think about sex, the DO talk about sex, they DO like sex.  Except that there's always that unofficial disclaimer of "I don't always do this."  Because it's quite alright for a woman to have sexual needs and express herself sexually... if she doesn't announce it often, or if it's not in her normal behavior.  I'm not even sure Kelly realizes she does this, because I've read other works by her that don't have this underlying tone of a qualifying a woman's open sexuality.

It bugs me, if only because, even in this day and age, women are hesitant about expressing themselves in a sexual way, because society has taught us that women should not talk about sex nor even like it--that it creates gossip and makes you look bad.  Even though it's perfectly acceptable for men to joke about, talk about, have, and/or even be crass about sex.  On a regular basis.

I have a friend who can't even say the word 'sex' without turning pink and whispering it like it's an evil mantra.

But anyway, let me get back off of my soapbox, because this could go on for a long time.

Getting Into Trouble was the longest, most in-depth novella in this collection.  A lot happens that really DOES create a well-rounded romance, with conflict, angst, and fun.  I just got a little irritated with both of our characters:  Allie for being so wishy-washy with her actions; Damon for taking rejection so personally that he acts all butthurt and kind of douchy about it.

But in the end, everything comes together and it's a pretty nice and enjoyable romance.  My spiel about the whole 'dated romance' thing came mainly, because there were points in the book where Allie finds herself having to justify her attraction towards Damon, and it bugged me.  The word 'scandal' got tossed out there, and suddenly I'm thinking, "What is this, a historical?"  That people would disapprove of her getting close to a strange man because she's a single mom.  That it was okay when all the other women did it, but NOT Allie, because she's the virtuous main character.

That she feels she can't be attracted to, start a relationship with, or get to know this passerby in town, otherwise she'd get judged for it.

Of course, it might also have to do with the fact that Damon is traveling with a carnival, and carnies really do get a bad rep, more often than not.

Otherwise, the story was pretty good.

 

 

Shaken and Stirred -- 3.5 Stars

by Heidi Betts

The honest truth is that Shaken and Stirred was the better written of the three stories, with a cute and sweet romance, a slight amount of conflict, and a Happily Ever After™.  The relationship developed in a mature, fun, honest fashion, if a little too fast for my liking.  There was a cutesy, breezy feel to the story's progression.  And there weren't any overly complicated twists.

It was just a sweet little chick lit piece about a woman breaking out of her normal, shy and closed-in personality, and having a fun vacation; meeting a man, having a fling, and generally enjoying herself.

It was simply a contemporary romance, about a man and woman who meet during a summer vacation, have a fling, and start developing deeper feelings.  The sex might have happened a little too quickly, and the "I love you's" were flung out faster than I expected, but it seemed like a pretty decently outlined, down-to-earth romance.

If only it hadn't been so boring.  Which is probably why it felt like the shortest of the three stories.

But, nonetheless, it was still very enjoyable, and readily likable.


***

 

Roll #33:  "Read a book with water on the cover, or where someone turns on the waterworks (i.e., cries) because of an emotional event."

The cover features water from a beach and ocean.

Page Count:  320
Cash Award:  +$9.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $258.00

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/brief-thoughts-heat-wave-anthology.html
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