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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.





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 2017-01-30 00:00
Wildwood Dancing
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier I have not hated a character as much as I hate Tati in a long while. She is a complete idiot and way too-stupid-to-live. Apart from the insta-love, her sheer egoistic behavior throughout the book, and thoughtlessness towards her sisters, her then literally wasting away for no good reason and almost killing herself in the process cemented my hatred for this character. Really there should be limits to stupidity, had I been her sister, I'd have washed my hands of her, good riddance in my opinion.

Unfortunately the whole story was ruined by Tati and her stupidity and by the one-dimensional villain of a cousin, who was so over-dramatically mean and overdone. We get it, he's an asshole, you don't need to rub it in our faces quite as much.

I did enjoy the story overall, my main disappointment lies with my not absolutely loving a book by Juliet Marillier. I hope that I'll enjoy the next book in the series a bit more, since there is much potential here, with interesting characters and an amazing magical world.
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review 2015-03-27 06:14
Review: Wildwood Dancing
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier

Wildwood Dancing -- Juliet Marillier

Book 1 of Wildwood series

2007 Release -- Alfred A. Knopf Books

Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retellings, High Fantasy, Magic, Romance


*Based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince

Juliet Marillier has a way of creating a world and a culture within her books that are so vivid, descriptive, and that feels so alive, like this particular place SHOULD exist SOMEWHERE in real life. Her writing style is magical, her characters are colorful--and for a mish-mash retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince, she puts a very excellent spin to the fairy tales. On top of that, there's a great interlacing of vampiric lore.

For me, Wildwood Dancing is a conflicting book to rate. On the one hand, the writing is excellent, the world is wonderful, the characters are proportionately good as well as flawed, and the lore of the world is intriguing. On the other hand, the story itself was a little confusing, and the kids in this book were kind of frustrating in their theatrical angst and dramatic woes--when they were happy and having a good time, it was fun to follow, but when they were having their own emo-fests, it got a little irksome.

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed this book a lot, flipping through pages with a hungry need to devour each word.

The Story:
The story of Wildwood Dancing takes place in Transylvania; the imagery presented of the Dancing Glade, the woods, the castle of Piscul Dracului is atmospheric.

Jenica and her four sisters (Tatiana, Paula, Iulia, and Stela) cross through a portal into the Other Kingdom every Full Moon to join in the festivities of the fey creatures where they converse with the beings of the Other Kingdom and dance all night. This is an activity they look forward to each and every month.

Back in their own world, however, the girls are now faced with a sickly father who must leave to recuperate his health in another city, far away. He puts Jena and Tati in charge of the household, responsible for business, finance, and taking care of their younger sisters. But as the days progress, their situation becomes more and more complicated and Jena finds that being the sensible one, the sister with all the answers, is much more of a struggle than she had expected.

Her cousin Cezar has swept into their household; under the guise of "looking after" the girls, he has thrown a possessive, tyrannical hand into controlling the home and lands of Piscul Dracului. Jena is losing control of her own household, too afraid of and too respectful of his position as a male cousin, to fight back and regain her own household.

Tatiana has fallen in love with a mysterious boy from the Other Kingdom who may be one of the Night People. With the dangers connected to talk and lore of the Night People, Jena is frightened for Tati's life should this mysterious boy choose to hurt her. But Tati has taken to moping around and daydreaming, and pretty much wasting away in the name of love.

With only her best friend, a frog named Gogu whose sentient thoughts only she can hear, supporting her each day, Jena must overcome these complications and she must figure out what to do to protect her sisters as well as regain control over Piscul Dracului, all while struggling without news of her father's health.

Finally, we also learn early on that Cezar has a dark, vengeful mindset against the creatures and beings of the Other Kingdom. Many years ago, his elder brother Costin was drowned to death in the Deadwash in the woods and Cezar claims that it was the witch of those woods, Drăguţa, who dragged him under. Ever since then, Cezar has vowed to eliminate all the faerie folk in existence, even if it means leveling out the entirety of the woods.

Some of My Thoughts:
There is actually a whole lot more that happens throughout Wildwood Dancing, but if I were to summarize everything, it might get a bit long-winded. The main conflict is fairly straight forward, though, with Tati's growing relationship with Sorrow and Cezar's tightening control on the girls and their household being the major issues Jena must deal with.

As I've stated, the world is created brilliantly with all forms of characters who matter, whether they are side characters, cameo characters, or the main characters; and an extensive culture of people and places that can be further expanded upon if the author so chooses to continue writing stories in this world.

I absolutely adored Jena and her relationship with Gogu; they had a sweet development and a love based on trust and understanding. And I loved the interaction between the sisters.

What I found a little frustrating, however, was that I wasn't sure if I was angered by the characters' irrational acts because Ms. Marillier created them so life-like, or if I was just irritated by the situations being thrown at Jena because Ms. Marillier created such emotionally-charged, personal conflicts. Or was it really just certain scenes and certain characters who irked me?

Jena was strong and despite the fact that she had little success standing up for herself, it was really the thought that mattered in this particular book. With so many things going against her--Cezar's bullying control, Tati's irrational behavior upon falling in love, her younger sisters being unable to share the burden, and everyone, in general, looking to Cezar for leadership because he's a man--it's wonderfully admirable that she tried to stand-up for herself and her household time and time again. Because despite the fact that Jena has been taught by her father to learn the business and manage the finances properly, her position as a girl (and a young girl, at that) has made it hard for anyone to see her as a leader in the household, save for her immediate household.

No matter how much more logical Jena's train of thought was compared to Cezar's chauvinist ideas, Cezar's looming dominance always warned against her continued defiance of him. No matter how often she disagreed with Cezar's actions and ideas, he would merely blow her off like she was an ignorant child, never taking her seriously and never truly listening to anything she said.

I was constantly frustrated on her account. I was frustrated that she allowed Cezar to continue bullying her in her own home; but then I was frustrated because I knew that she had little success of fighting against Cezar--physically or publicly--and winning without someone bearing some scars. She feared him because he was bigger and stronger physically, and she also didn't want to anger him because he was family; however, because she didn't agree with all of his ideas, she tried her best to tactfully put him in his place and explain to him his ignorance.

Not that it really worked--Cezar is one stubborn douche-nozzle.

I continued to be frustrated when Cezar kept finding more reasons to exert his dominance over the girls with his own twisted logic of narrow-minded explanations. My frustration only grew with each instance of his continued prejudiced mindset. I continued to be even more frustrated each time Jena's arguments against her cousin were simply met with his further belittling and ignorance.

I was also frustrated when Tati, the eldest sister, began shirking all of her duties and her responsibility for her sisters just because she had fallen in love with a man who lived in the Other Kingdom and could only see him once a month. The way she could only think about her love with claims of "You just don't understand true love like what I'm going through!" further grated on my nerves. And despite all the warnings of keeping their visits with the Other Kingdom a secret lest anyone be put in danger, Tati's actions simply do the exact opposite: running off to wander the woods every night hoping to see Sorrow, rushing off to the Other Kingdom during Dark of the Moon to find Sorrow, meeting with Sorrow in plain sight despite the danger. Generally, her putting her own need to see and be with Sorrow above everything else really kind of doubled all my frustration.

And I don't want to spoil the end of the book; but simply put, the last few chapters after the main conflict was resolved went by in a dragging fashion. It has to do with Tati and what she did that made me truly believe that she is a one-tracked, narrow-minded, very selfish individual who doesn't understand how to listen to others or how to think about life outside of her own desires.

There really is a distinct difference between the sensible Jenica and too-sensitive Tatiana. Both had fairly grand romances happen to them within the scope of the story--Tati's love is one of forbidden romance where she and Sorrow both fall hard, fast, and eternal, while Jena's love is one built of friendship and trust, and many, many years of progressive development. But while Tati mopes around and wastes away in the name of love, Jena continues to strive to take care of her family, bearing all the burden on her shoulders as each day goes by.

Final Thoughts: Wildwood Dancing is an extremely well-written young adult book with romance, adventure, a magical fairy tale atmosphere, and characters that make you feel proud, but also characters that drive you batty. While the romances are a pretty large plot line in the book, they are surprisingly subtle. Jena's conflict with Cezar and with Tati and then with the Night People are the main priorities.

The conflicts and their resolutions, however, are fairly predictable at the outset. Getting to that conclusion, however, was an interesting journey.

Unfortunately, the story of Wildwood Dancing itself DOES feel a little directionless and for the first half of a book, I wasn't quite sure where we were going with the progression. Then we settle on two specific conflicts and all seems to tie together quite well.




This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):




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text 2015-02-28 15:22
Starting: Wildwood Dancing
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier

I do believe that I am experiencing a book hangover upon the completion of the Shadowfell trilogy.  It kind of crept up on me and now all I can think about is reading another high fantasy or something... specifically something written by Juliet Marillier.


And so Wildwood Dancing it is!  I chose this book as part of my 2015 TBR Pile Challenge, so I might as well get started on it.


I'm so stuck in Shadowfell's world right now that I couldn't even concentrate on reading Zodiac--it probably doesn't help that Zodiac is proving kind of boring so far.  So hopefully Wildwood will help me out of this temporary, short-term slump?  Hopefully?


I mean, I've been sitting here playing Facebook games for the past two hours because I can't make myself stop thinking about Shadowfell...


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review 2014-12-10 00:00
Wildwood Dancing
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier I have yet to read anything by Juliet Marillier that I haven't loved. Wildwood Dancing started out a little slow, but once it got going I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters even though some of them could be frustrating at times. And speaking of characters, I wanted to punch Cesar in the face numerous times.
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