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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-15 20:03
October 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on November 15, 2018.

 

 

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An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

 

This book surprised me and in a pleasant way. Having never read anything by Ms. Howard, I didn't really know what to expect. What I discovered was good UF with half decent world-building. It had shades of the movie Now You Can See Me  only the magic in the book wasn't an illusion.

 

We are introduced to the major players almost immediately. They each have their motivations and that was completely okay. The world-building should have been better because as far as I can see, this book is a standalone. Even if it is to be the first in a series, then it would need to be immersive enough for readers to continue with the sequel. I think it mostly does that.

 

 

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The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

 

Wow! I mean I tried reading The War of the Worlds and failed miserably. If you can make a novel about an alien conquest sound boring, then there isn't much hope that I'd ever like anything you'd write. While playing Book Bingo, I landed on a category that fit this book beautifully. So, I decided to give Mr. Wells another go.

 

I am so glad that I did! Suspense colors the atmosphere in the story and there is a stench of violence waiting to happen. Why don't scientists ever learn? I kept cringing every time the humans faced the monsters (Moreau could give Frankenstein a run for the money)! Some were near misses and some events just foreshadowed the darkness that was to come.

 

The edition I read also came with a summary of H. G. Wells' life history. He had been involved in the formation of League of Nations. Cool!

 

 

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Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

 

This book had issues similar to that I highlighted in the review of Kat Howard's book. Say, vampires do exist and they decide to come out. Won't there be a political upheaval to makes all other upheavals look silly? Nothing like that happened in this book.

 

Meritt caught my interest because she refused to be grateful for being turned into a bloodsucking parasite. She also clashed with the authorities regularly and I liked that she wasn't ready to give in to her attraction towards the head vampire just yet. Her troubled relationship with her gold-digger and nouveau riche parents cemented her authenticity as a person. As did her bonds with her bff and grandfather. What detracted from the believability factor was how she rebelled against her new life and yet gave up so easily on her old one. What of her dissertation? What about going back to school?

 

What did bug me was the identity of the person having humans killed by her minions. As far as twists go, this one was just all right.

 

Even so, I want to read the next one in the series before I decide if I will continue with the rest.

 

 

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The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

 

The humor in these books is always a winner. Consider the two quotes below:

 

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4

 

But what I liked, even more, was that the series took a break from the disaster it had become. In case, you haven't yet read the last book or my review of it it was horrible. The author dropped a doozy of a deus ex machina on us. Then she left the readers with a huge cliffhanger that took us back to the prehistoric age (not literally)!

Guess what though? The last part did wonders for the book! I could reconnect with Charley without the usual over-the-top complications. The world was still about to end, but that wasn't going to happen just then. Charley did spend the whole book lusting after her husband even if she didn't know who he was. But that is typical behavior for her.

 

I also fell in love with Cookie all over again after reading this book. The woman has a life of her own, a daughter, and a husband. Yet she put everything on hold to come be with an amnesiac Charley. Even though she can't act worth a damn and kept slipping up and calling Charley by her real name. Cookie rocks! 

 

 

Bring on the next book!

 

 

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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Another book that I wish had read a long time ago. Now, I don't appreciate it the way it is meant to be lauded. Firstly, since it is by a female author writing epic fantasy. Yaaaaay! Then because the protagonist isn't white and male, but colored and male. Okay, this deserves a smaller yaaay. Even so, it is still a win.

 

What I wasn't a fan of was the writing style. It felt stilted and kept me from devouring the book in my usual way. Of course, the fact that I have read my fill of epic fantasy might have something to do with it. Although, this book wasn't much concerned with the affairs of the world. It focused on a character's solo journey to get rid of the darkness that he had called from another world.

 

So, I'll reserve the final verdict until I have read the next book in the series.

 

 

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Everwild by Neal Shusterman

 

I can never understand how a children's book can scare the pants off me when so many horror novels have failed to do that! Similarly, I survived watching Jessica Jones being mentally — and otherwise — raped by Killgrave repeatedly. And yet, I have to force myself to sit through one episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events!

 

The idea of kids being in control is a very scary one because they can be very cruel. At times, they won't even realize the extent of damage they are leaving on another kid's psyche. The good thing about kids managing their affairs is that they can take highly complicated concepts of morality and simplify them.

 

I had a great time reading this book for both those reasons. Can't wait to read the next one!

 

 

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Dark Crime by Christine Feehan

 

Have mostly given up on this series ever being anything but cheesy, if I ever thought so in the first place. This novella was a good surprise though. Instead of the swooning heroines, we were shown someone who could fight and hold her own. She was also the one who kept the vampires and their minions at bay while hubby went to ground.

 

Yeah, she was forced into the whole Carpathian mating for life ritual by her husband-to-be. And yes, she couldn't live without him as soon as he arrived at the scene. Little improvements, see?

 

 

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Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

 

The humor was on point, as usual. Look below for a crack or two:

 

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The relationship between Harry and his brother is slowly developing. By that, I mean they talked to each other about real stuff, like Thomas being thirsty all the time.

 

Susan was awesome!

 

The rest was pretty much as it always is:

 

Harry was trying to save a woman's life.

 

Harry couldn't hit women, even ones bent on killing him.

 

Harry defeated a threat that he couldn't possibly defeat.

 

Harry saves an adorable character who learns how to stand up for themselves and others.

 

Harry is hit with threats from all directions and lives to tell the tale.

 

 

So, this was my October in reading. How was yours?

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text 2018-11-03 15:00
October Books

I read 32 books last month with an average score of 3.84. 14 of the books were young adult and 3 were graphic novels. My most-read genres were contemporary, mystery, and romance. Halloween Bingo is to thank for mystery being so high. I was surprised that I barely read any fantasy books at all since it's usually up there.

 

My favorite books were The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten WhiteCheck, Please!: #Hockey - Ngozi Ukazu, and A Gentleman Never Keeps Score - Cat Sebastian. My least favorite was Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel - Steven Levenson,Justin Paul,Benj Pasek,Val Emmich.

 

 

5 Stars

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten White  A Gentleman Never Keeps Score - Cat Sebastian  Check, Please!: #Hockey - Ngozi Ukazu  

 

4.5 Stars

Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 01 - Julietta Suzuki,Tomo Kimura  The Witness for the Prosecution (Short Story e-book) - Agatha Christie  Puddin' - Julie Murphy  We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists - Melissa Falkowski,Eric Garner,Parkland Student Journalists  Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott  

 

4 Stars

A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab  Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant  I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life - Anne Bogel  Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All - Linda Sue Park,Lisa Ann Sandell,Stephanie Hemphill,Candace Fleming,Deborah Hopkinson,M.T. Anderson,Jennifer Donnelly  We Regret to Inform You - Ariel Kaplan  S.T.A.G.S - M.A. Bennett  How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation - Libba Bray,Maureen Johnson,Rosie O'Donnell,Jacqueline Woodson,Jeffrey Rowland,Jason Reynolds,KC Green,Malinda Lo,Jennifer Weiner,Jodi Picoult,Sabaa Tahir,Alex Gino,Dylan Marron,Karuna Riazi,Jesse Tyler Ferguson,Dana Schwartz,Rebecca Roanhorse,Ali Stroker,  Dead And Gone - Charlaine Harris  The Other Woman - Sandie Jones  Sofia Khan is Not Obliged - Ayisha Malik  China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel - Kevin Kwan  

 

3.5 Stars

The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han  Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi  Shock & Awe - Abigail Roux  Fatal Shadows - Josh Lanyon  Denton Little's Deathdate - Lance Rubin  It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han  

 

3 Stars

Our House - Louise Candlish  A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell,Parragon Books  All-New Wolverine Vol. 4: Immune - Leonard Kirk,Tom Taylor  Lizzie - Dawn Ius  The Fourth Man - Agatha Christie  Three Days Missing - Kimberly Belle  

 

2.5 Stars

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel - Steven Levenson,Justin Paul,Benj Pasek,Val Emmich 

 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 5
  • Female: 24
  • Male/Female/Non-Binary Mix: 3

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 19
  • Audio: 13
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text 2018-11-03 04:18
Halloween Bingo 2018 | More Book Ramblings at End Game

 



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

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

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

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

Happy Belated Halloween everyone!

 

 


 

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


I honestly am not sure how to review this book.

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

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

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

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

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

Also read for the Discworld group read.

 

 


 

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


Thoughts: Sick of Shadows

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

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

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

 

 


 


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

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

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

 

 


 

Rating:  4.0 Stars


Thoughts: The Big Over Easy

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

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

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

 

 


 

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


Thoughts: Front Page Fatality

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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 2.5 Stars


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

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

Thoughts: Secret Admirer

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

 

 


 

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


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

But still...

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

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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 4.5 Stars


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

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

 

 


 

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


Thoughts: Buried Leads

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

 

 


 

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


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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 2.5 Stars


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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 3.5 Stars


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

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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 4.0 Stars


Thoughts: Desperate Girls

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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 4.0 Stars


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

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

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

 

 


 

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


More Rambling Than Review: Death by Dumpling

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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 3.0 Stars


Quick Thoughts: Spinning Silver

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

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

 

 


 

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


Brief Thoughts: Small Town Spin

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

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

 

 


 

Rating: 2.5 Stars


I think I must be missing something.

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

If that makes any sense.

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

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

 

 


 

 

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

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/halloween-bingo-2018-more-book.html
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photo 2018-11-02 00:53
The Witch Elm, Tana French

Tana French is one of the most talented writers I've ever read in the mystery and detective genre. In this most recent book, she really surpasses the genre entirely, and breaks new ground with a lyrical, heartbreaking and soul-bending literary novel that focuses on one man's gradual descent out of privilege and extreme good luck into the netherworld of uncertain fortunes and dissolution.

 

This is not a story of a person's willful decline -- far from it -- but instead, the battle to retain esteem in a universe where bad luck happens and you have to make up a life out of the remaining scraps. Sure, each of her novels have a death in them, but this novel focuses on character building above all, and brings to the forefront her excellent skill with language, with insight and with skillful observation of human nature.

 

This is, in a word, Tana French's best book, and I would not be surprised at all to see her work in future years held up as examples of leading literature. Jane Austen, after all, wrote romances, while Charles Dickens wrote fabulist fictions.

 

Tana French writes great novels. 

Source: nednote.com/new-tana-french-book-review
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text 2018-11-01 18:15
October 2018-That's A Wrap!
Out Behind the Barn - Chad Lutzke,John Boden
Driving to Geronimo's Grave and Other Stories - Joe R. Lansdale
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson - Jeff Guinn
Bright Ruin - Vic James
Mister Jack - Chris Kosarich
All These Worlds - Dennis Taylor,Ray Porter
For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 - Audible Studios,Dennis Taylor,Darwin Porter
The Fungus - Leroy Kettle,John Brosnan,Harry Adam Knight
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden
100 Fathoms Below - Nicholas Kaufmann,Steven L. Kent

I read 12 books this month!

 

 

Audiobooks

 

 

For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor narrated by Ray Porter 5*

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn, narrated by Jeff Frangione 4.5*

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, narrated by Stephen Lang 4*

All These Words by Dennis E. Taylor narrated by Ray Porter 5*

 

Total: 4

 

ARCS/Reads for Review

 

Worms by J.R. Montague 4*

Out Behind the Barn (novella) by Chad Lutzke and John Boden 4.5*

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden (Anthology) 4*

The Fungus by Harry Adam Knight 4*

Driving to Geronimon's Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale 5*

Bright Ruin by Vic James 4*

Mister Jack by Chris Kosarch (Novella) 4*

100 Fathoms Below by Steven L. Kent and Nicholas Kaufmann

 

Total: 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

(I'm failing miserably)

 

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

3. October by Michael Rowe

4. It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson

5. Bad Pennies by John Leonard

6. Cold in July by Joe Lansdale

7. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

8. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

9. Hex by Thomas Heuvelt

 

Running Total: 134

Total Goal: 150

 

Books read for Halloween Bingo: 20!

5 Bingos Total

 

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