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text 2019-06-01 15:00
Packaged Thoughts June 2019: A Bunch of Book Rambles
Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts
Lethal White - Robert Galbraith
Untouchable - Jayne Ann Krentz
Murder on Astor Place - Victoria Thompson
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Sarah Juliette Sasson,Emmuska Orczy,Rachel Perkins
Dangerous - Amanda Quick
Seduction - Amanda Quick
Ever Strange (Legal Magick #1) - Alisa Woods
The Sittaford Mystery (Audio) - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser
Tightrope - Amanda Quick

It's closing in on mid-year, and I'm back with another set of random ramblings for books I've read this year that I hadn't really gotten around to reviewing before now.  Of course, I also went ahead and threw in a couple books I just finished reading that I just couldn't really come up with a review for.

Without much else to say, let's just move onto the books!

Thanks for reading!



Shelter in Place
by Nora Roberts
Rating:  3.5 Stars

I actually read half of this book in December 2018 and the last half in January 2019.  That's a good six months ago, about, and I don't know if I remember much about it.  Nora Roberts tackles a pretty difficult subject with this book, something that we can relate with in the present.

While I think she does a pretty great job of it, the only thing I really remember was how dragged out it felt.  The beginning was pretty strong, and the idea of taking a look at how a mass shooting affected several survivors has potential.  And I get that she was trying to cover how the lives of certain key characters changed as a result of the mall shooting at the beginning of the book, but I can't help but feel like some tangents could have been cut out.

In a way, I recall thinking that the main villain of the book was a bit too over-powered... like, movie-style over-powered.  And I had issue with the main hero's constant innuendos, even if jokingly, about dumping our main heroine and getting together with her grandmother, if given the chance--I get that this was some silly running joke, and he wasn't actually ever going to do that, but the references got old pretty fast.  Yes, the grandmother was a fabulous person, but we didn't need that brought up every other paragraph.

Otherwise, Shelter In Place was a pretty intriguing read that managed to suck me in at some points, even if it also had my attention wandering at others.  This book is more slice of life and crime thriller than it was romance, so if you're coming into it looking for lots of romantic chemistry or the like, you won't actually get much of it.  Still, Nora Roberts delivers as usual, so I would skip it if you're a fan of hers.




Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4)
by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)
Rating:  4.0 Stars

I'm not sure I've yet to properly review one of these Cormoran Strike books, if only because I'm not sure I have proper words for Queen Rowling's wonderful works.  Truth is, I'm immensely enjoying these crime thrillers, and absolutely love Cormoran and Robin as a working private investigation team.

While I still feel like The Silkworm is the best of the books so far, Lethal White doesn't fall very short of the genius-ness of this series.  Of course, that doesn't mean that I think Lethal White was perfect (not like The Silkworm was perfect).  In fact, I'm admittedly abashed to say that this particular installment might have been a bit overly long with some parts that dragged a little for me.  Not the mysteries or the tangential mysteries or the investigations, but the continued dragging out of Robin and Matthew's relationship, which I felt could have maybe been cut a little.  In fact, I could have sworn that I thought their relationship would have been over by the last book, so I was a bit surprised to walk into the book to find them getting married at the beginning.  I must have phased that out of my mind from the end of the previous book.

As I'd mentioned somewhere else, we already know that Robin and Matthew are all wrong for each other and that Matthew is a right jackass--we don't really need to be reminded of this for 80% of the book.  But maybe it was kind of symbolic that Robin needed to be reminded of why she was slowly falling out of love with Matthew.  I just wish that part of her reasons didn't have too much to do with her muddled feelings for Cormoran.  It's enough, I think, that Matthew is a jackass and that he's disrespectful of her decisions, her choice of career, her thoughts and opinions, and her happiness, right?  I needed her to leave Matthew and move on with her life for herself, not because of another man--that's probably the only thing that bugs me about this book, really.




Untouchable (Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #3)
by Jayne Ann Krentz
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This book didn't really stand out among the rest of JAK's books.  And I even sense a little bit of recycling in some of her plot devices, a la the lucid dreaming aspects.

However, it was still another charming, exciting, and entertaining Jayne Ann Krentz book, and I had no real complaints.

I did find it fun that JAK chose to crossover some parts of other books and other series.  The location of this book is Eclipse Bay and we get to see Arizona Snow featuring quite prominently.  Then the tourist town of Burning Cove is brought up as well.  I was almost expecting some Arcane Society characters to appear out of nowhere, specifically the fearless leader of Jones & Jones... though I suppose you can only really have one set of broody alpha male private investigators appearing at a time...




Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight Mystery #1)
by Victoria Thompson
Rating:  3.5 Stars

This book started out kind of slow, in spite of the murder, but quickly became interesting.  Sarah is a great main character to follow, with all the makings of a fearless, headstrong main female lead.  Frank on the other hand, took some warming up to, as he started off a bit rude, a bit broody, a bit chauvinistic, and a bit seedy.  I'm still not sure I like him much, and he plays into the typical cozy mystery male love interest trope of being Detective Jackass...  But he grows on you.

The mystery was interesting to start with, but I hate to say that the ending kind of got more and more convoluted... and you could see it getting there pretty quickly as the book progressed.  But otherwise, it was entertaining enough.  New York during the "turn of the century" is a new kind of historical setting for me, but I'm not sure I felt it any different than I felt something more modern or something more historical... if that makes any sense.

Nonetheless, I may continue with this one in the future.




The Scarlet Pimpernel (The Scarlet Pimpernel #1)
by Emmuska Orczy
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This book was so much fun, and if it hadn't been for the need to prioritize my reading time and my socializing time, I probably could have finished this book in less than half the time it actually took me.

While the story started off a little bit slow--partly so I could adjust to the language and the dramatics--once we get to Marguerite Blakeney's POV, everything just sort of takes off from there.  The progression just kept plowing forward, and the action kept right on rolling out.  Of course, the ending was a bit abrupt, and also a bit predictable, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment at all.

I'm going to be honest, I've never been able to really get along with a lot of classics, but if there are others out there written in the same vein as this book, I'm going to have reevaluate me reading lists, as well as my personal history with classics I've read before.




by Amanda Quick
Rating:  3.0 Stars

Another enjoyable Amanda Quick book... if you can overlook the pushy, asshole hero who is Sebastian.  Goodness, if I were Prudence, I probably would have given into temptation and kicked him in the shins.  As grudgingly loving as he can be, he's also a stubborn mule and grumpy enough to test anyone's patience.

Then again, this is quite typical of Amanda Quick heroes and heroines.  You've got a broody alpha with eccentric characteristics who is both pushy and bossy... and then you've got the feisty heroine who is the only person not intimidated by the hero, even if she gives into him every time.

Maybe one of these days, we'll get a heroine who will put her hero in the corner and forbid him anything until he learns to play nice with others, and stop being so darned bossy and manipulative.

Oh yeah, the I think the mystery was actually quite intriguing in this one as well, though I'm hard-pressed to recall much about it except that I found it most enjoyable.




by Amanda Quick
Rating:  3.5 Stars

This book was full of all sorts of Amanda Quick goodness as well as a heroine I ended up really, really loving.  Aside from how easily Sophy allowed Julian to get away with his demands and manipulations, I found Sophy an extremely wonderful heroine.  She was straight forward and kind, but not too kind to stand up for herself whenever Julian crossed the line.  I loved her arguments against Julian's haughty and arrogant, "This is not a subject for women," lectures.  That she kept poking holes in Julian's traditional views of a woman's role in marriage and society, and that she kept right on being herself was truly excellent.

I'd say that this was one of Amanda Quick's better novels, as far as I've read of her books, and really brought to light the double standards and unfairness of how women were treated with each of Sophy's arguments.  I highlighted a bunch of passages, but I'm not sure I'll be able to fit them all without stretching this post out for too long.

Meanwhile, this book IS full of standard tropes and formulaic plot devices, but I'm not going to let that bother me.  And also, I never really warmed to Julian--he stops being an ass at some point, but I didn't bother to really pinpoint when.  Sophy was the real winner in this book!




Ever Strange (Legal Magick #1)
by Alisa Woods
Rating:  3.5 Stars

While there might have been some plot holes, or even a few scenes that really made me raise my eyebrows, I actually DID find Ever Strange an extremely fun read.  Just as I'd enjoyed a few other books by Alisa Woods, I did also enjoy this book quite well... if it's any indication, I got myself drawn in and hooked and finished this book within hours of starting it.

The premise is a great one, and while I don't really read a whole lot of urban fantasy, I found that I enjoy the world created in the Legal Magick series so far, and am interested in following through with the next book.

Also, there is a lot of talk about sex magic...  (This was one of the things that had me raising my eyebrows... while at the same time becoming fascinatingly intrigued about.)




The Sittaford Mystery
by Agatha Christie
audio book narrated by Hugh Fraser
Rating:  3.0 Stars

Hmm...  Not being a prominent reader of Christie mysteries, nor of classic mysteries, I'm feeling that I must have missed something.  I've only read about three other Agatha Christie books, and this one, by far, is my least favorite.  I'm not sure it really did anything for me.

Nowhere during the investigation did I feel like I really understood its status.  The sparse few Christie novels I've already read always made me think... but I had a hard time with that during this book.  Maybe I wasn't paying well enough attention?

The truth is, the best part of this book was Hugh Fraser's narration.  And Mrs. Percehouse was quite fun, too.  But otherwise, that was about it for me.




Tightrope (Burning Cove #3)
by Amanda Quick
Rating:  3.0 Stars

One of the things I kept thinking while I was reading this book, was that there were way too many characters to keep up with.  And only a few of them are really significant to the main plot.  Also, instead of focusing on the main couple, we also backtrack to a a scene or two involving Luther Pell and Raina Kirk, the main couple from the previous book.

While this was an enjoyable Amanda Quick, much like any of her historical romance/mysteries, it certainly doesn't stray far from her typical formula.  Except that she seemed intent upon using multiple POVs, even if everything is still written in third person.  I just didn't feel like we needed that many other characters' narrations.

The book also finishes on a rather open-ended note, which makes me wonder if we're sticking with a trilogy, or if this trilogy is a precursor to another series that may follow in the next few JAK publications.  It certainly DOES connect itself to the Arcane Society books by bringing in the psychic Jones family, so that's something I'm actually kind of intrigued about.


Booklikes-opoly 2019

I read this book for BL-opoly 2019.

Roll #2:
Square: Mountain Cabin 16 | Read a book that is considered mystery/suspense genre, or which has a title that contains all of the letters in the word C-A-B-I-N.

How it fits: Book is tagged mystery/suspense.
Page Count: 320
Cash: $3




Run to Ground (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit #1)
by Katie Ruggle
Rating:  3.5 Stars

I guess I hadn't expected the content in this book to be so heavy.  On the other hand, the romance and the story that followed Jules and her siblings also lent a heart-warming, giddiness that made me enjoy the book overall.

I guess, in a nutshell, the book was entertaining enough that I would definitely follow the rest of the series.  But at the same time, there were a lot of loose plot threads, including one of the main ones, involving Jules, her secret identity, and all the secrets that she and her siblings are keeping.  It just feels so unsatisfactory, the ending, and anyone who doesn't like cliff hangers may not be amused by the way this book ends.  It's not really a cliff hanger, per se... just a really, really open-ended conclusion that I feel like could have been handled a bit better.

I wish we could have seen more of Viggy and Theo learning how to trust each other, and learning how to form a partnership.


Booklikes-opoly 2019

Roll #3: (See Also Roll #3 Activity)
Square: The Lake House 20 | Read a book that features a dog or which has a dog on the cover, or that is set in an area known for its lakes or on a fictional lake.

How it fits:  Dog on the cover.
Page Count:  416
Cash:  $5





Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/06/packaged-thoughts-june-2019-bunch-of.html
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text 2016-06-01 13:00
Packaged Thoughts June 2016: All the Books I Probably Won't Review

There will always be those books that I absolutely would love to express an opinion on, but for one reason or another, it never actually happens.  In which case, I introduce my new feature, the "Packaged Thoughts" bundle reviews, wherein I will talk about a few random books I wanted to talk about, but just didn't really know what to say about in an actual review.

My first Packaged Thoughts was published on Christmas of 2015 and included a good number of books I never got around to reviewing, but not all of them.  So this year, I wanted to give a mid-year Packaged Thoughts a try and see how I like it.  I figure that I'd be able to catch most of the books I didn't review, read during the first half of the year, before I forget what my opinions of them had been.

It just so happens that my birthday lands in the middle of the year--and what better way to celebrate than with a loaded post of aimless rambling about a bunch of books!

If I like this, I might just do this every year!

Once again, if you've read my reviews and posts before, you know I'm prone to rambling on and on--opinion material for these books could potentially be enough for a review of their own.  But I'm not going to dwell on that.

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Book 3 (final) of The Elemental Trilogy
4.5 Stars (but who am I kidding, the stars don't matter!)

It took me about three weeks into 2016, after finishing reading this book that I realized I didn't know how to review it.  Because THE FEELS and THE FEELS.

Yes, there were still a lot of things missing from this book--from all three books, actually, such as solid world-building.  Even a deeper insight to our main enemy would have been nice (not that I need to see into his inner workings or anything), but even right up to the end, the Bane was still just a dark presence in the background as an evil man on an evil mission who needed to be defeated.

But I love Titus and I love Iolanthe and I've grown a love for Kashkari... and even Amara was lovely despite only really being significant to this last Elemental Trilogy book.

Nonetheless, I know that these aren't the best books in the world, and as far as high fantasies go, it could have been better.  But Sherry Thomas creates extremely charming characters and has a delightfully witty and enjoyable writing style.

Did I mention the banter and THE FEELS?

And so I leave you all with this:


And now the rest of the books in this post:


SWAT books by Paige Tyler
#1) Hungry Like the Wolf | Rating:  4.0 Stars
#2) Wolf Trouble | Rating:  4.0 Stars

I've never really been that big a fan of paranormal romance books--paranormal mysteries I can still manage just fine.  But the fact that Paige Tyler crosses paranormal romance with romantic suspense DID catch my eye.  In 2015, I found myself enjoying her first two X-Ops books a lot.

And then I decided to pick up Hungry Like the Wolf and also found that it was very, very likable.  It's fast-paced with well-developed characters and an intriguing story line with a world that has much to offer.  A pack of werewolf shifters who work in law enforcement as a very specialized SWAT team--big, muscled men who are heroes.  The best part, they are very good men who also know how NOT to be jackasses (unlike a lot of other alpha males in lots of other romance novels I've read before).

Not long after that, I picked up Wolf Trouble and found it to be equally entertaining and enjoyable.  In this book, however, we are introduced to a female werewolf who joins the SWAT team.  I was extra ecstatic about that because you rarely get to see a female play hero in a lot of books, specifically when there are a large band of alpha males hanging around.

And really, I absolutely loved Khaki!

I enjoyed the first two SWAT books a lot, even if the main romances were a little stilted.  But the romantic tension and sexy times in both books were steamy and fun, and the rest of the characters are awesome together as friends and teammates, and I'm just so looking forward to where else we can go with the rest of these werewolf shifters!

The Apprentice (Rizzoli & Isles, #2)
by Tess Gerritsen
Rating:  3.0 Stars

Like the first book in this series, The Surgeon, The Apprentice is well written with a great crime thriller to keep a reader intrigued.  But also like the first book in this series, The Apprentice tended on the overly detailed, overly wordy, and overly deliberate in use of words and infusion of insight and hidden meaning and not so hidden meaning.  I wouldn't call it flowery or purple prose, but it's close and it was a bit distracting--awkward, almost.

Nonetheless, the book was still an enjoyable one for anybody interested in the nitty-gritty of darker crime thrillers.  Romance-wise, this book was a bit lackluster, though there's a pretty good development in the back-seated love story between Jane Rizzoli and Gabriel Dean--it could use some more development, which I suspect we'll see in the next book.

Character-wise, like The Surgeon, there was a lot going on with the characters... except that, at the same time, it felt fairly lackluster, only really skimming the edge of what the characters' potential attractiveness to the story could entail.  There is also a very latent sense of sexism still being dragged out in the book despite having (now) two strong female characters--a lot of disclaimers for these two women being in the field they work in, a lot of caveats of their qualifications versus personality versus whatnot that make it so that it's kind of a an unnatural super skill among women that Jane is a police detective or Maura Isles is a medical examiner.

I'm not explaining it well, but there's just that feeling that doesn't set well with me.

by Brenda Novak
Rating:  3.0 Stars

I've only read Brenda Novak's romantic suspense books so far.  While I'm not a hundred percent enamored with her work, I've always attributed her story progression and writing style as akin to an action movie that you just cannot take your eyes off of.  The logic doesn't always make sense and the characters sometimes really piss me off, but the books are definitely page turners.

So picking up one of her category contemporary romance books was a given at some point in time.

Snow Baby is enjoyable as a sweet romance with all the typical romance novel devices.  It is enjoyable and a good way to pass the time, but that's if what you're craving is a quick and easy romance read with a tried and true Happily Ever After™.  Of course, being a quick and easy read didn't quite make this book any less complicated--I'm feeling that any type of soapy drama that could have happened DID happen with an accidental pregnancy, some family drama all around, interfering exes... the works.

Hot Pursuit (Hostile Operations Team #1) 
by Lynn Raye Harris
Rating:  3.5 Stars

A very exciting, fast-paced read with a lot more material than I'd been expecting.  Great characters and a lovely main couple with an awesome relationship and steamy chemistry and a great background history to propel their romantic development.  I certainly enjoyed those rare moments of banter between Evie and Matt.  Lots of suspense and very vivid descriptions of the bayous and small Louisiana town.

The brief mystery included was predictable and the entire suspense part of the story was really just an adrenaline-rush of forward movement, but not a bad experience, in general.

Overall an enjoyable and entertaining read, even if not entirely memorable.  But an excellent start to a military romance series with a lot of potential in the few character introductions we've seen so far.  So I am interested in following the rest of the series.

by Juliet Blackwell
Rating:  3.5 Stars

Juliet Blackwell books and I don't have that great of an impression on each other--or maybe it's just me.  Between Secondhand Spirits and If Walls Could Talk, I've found that both books are interesting enough to hold my attention for the duration of reading the book.  But that's about it.

Secondhand Spirits is an interesting cozy mystery that delivers what it sets out to deliver: mystery, magic, some fun tangential knowledge, and a very, very slight tinge of romance.  The characters are great--Lily Ivory makes for an ideal, strong heroine who saves the day without need for a knight to whisk her into the sunset.  The mystery is intriguing, even if kind of predictable.  The story itself was fun.

But, really, that's about it.  Oh, and also the beginning of the book is slow to start.  I don't know if maybe we spend too much time setting up the main conflict.  I might just be picky.


So there we have it!  I've actually been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with reviews, whether long or short.  To be totally honest, this is really just a collection of books that took me a long time to get around to reviewing after finishing them.  And then some of the books were just ones that I didn't want to bother with an individual review.

It all works out.

As the year progresses, I kind of expect I'll be less inclined to review every book I read.  Thus, the end of year Packaged Thoughts I've got planned for December will probably have a ton more books.  Probably.

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/06/packaged-thoughts-june-2016-all-books-i.html
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review 2016-05-18 12:00
Series Start Thoughts: Harmony, Books #1 & #2
After Dark - Jayne Castle,Jayne Ann Krentz
After Glow - Jayne Castle,Jayne Ann Krentz

Harmony series
by Jayne Castle
Book #1: After Dark | Goodreads | Rating:  3.5 Stars
Book #2: After Glow | Goodreads | Rating:  3.5 Stars

Overall Average Rating:  3.5 Stars

First of all, while these two books are part of a larger series, both After Dark and After Glow would be best red together as a set.  According to other reviews, the two books detail a complete story arc concerning the same characters and one particular main conflict that spans both books.

Secondly, even though I didn't give very high ratings for these two books, I really DID find myself enjoying them.  The inclusion of a pet dust bunny as a live animal might have helped out, because despite being described as a predator in his own right ("by the time you see the teeth, it's too late"), I found Fuzz to be immensely adorable and didn't have a hard time picturing a piece of gray fluff with wide, innocent looking blue eyes and six tiny feet.

In fact, I have half the mind to go Googling for pictures of possible dust bunny images and making them my mascot.

Oh yeah.  The rest of the characters and the story were cool, too.



The Books:


Welcome to Harmony—where the rules are a little different.

Life is tough these days for Lydia Smith, licensed para-archaeologist. Seriously stressed-out from a nasty incident in an alien tomb, she is obliged to work part-time in Shrimpton’s House of Ancient Horrors, a very low-budget museum. She has a plan to get her career back on track, but it isn’t going well. Stuff keeps happening.

Take the dead body that she discovered in one of the sarcophagus exhibits. Who needed that? Finding out that her new client, Emmett London, is one of the most dangerous men in the city isn’t helping matters either. And that’s just today’s list of setbacks. Here in the shadows of the Dead City of Old Cadence, things don’t really heat up until After Dark.



Life is complicated for Lydia Smith. She's working at that tacky, third-rate museum, Shrimpton's House of Ancient Horrors, trying to salvage her career in para-archaeology - and dating the most dangerous man in town. Just when she thinks she might be getting things under control, she stumbles over a dead body and discovers that her lover has a secret past that could get him killed. Just to top it off, there's trouble brewing underground in the eerie, glowing green passageways of the Dead City.

Of course, all of these problems pale in comparison to the most pressing issue: Lydia has been invited to the Restoration Ball and she hasn't got a thing to wear.


My Thoughts:
While I'm always hesitant to dive into extremely long-running series, the Harmony (a.k.a. Ghost Hunter) series seemed interesting enough.  For some reason (especially since I have Second Sight on my reading list for this year) I felt some sort of strange motivation to start reading the Harmony series from the beginning while reading the Arcane Society as well.  After all, both series intersect at some point and my curiosity as to how this is handled got the better of me.

I can't say that I'm entirely in awe of the entire ordeal, but what I've read so far--After Dark, After Glow, as well as the prequel novella Bridal Jitters--were actually quite enjoyable and entertaining.  It took a while to understand the workings of the Harmony world, and even then some of the terminology, colloquial dialogue, and references were still a bit confusing.  But setting aside the fact that suspension of disbelief must be exercised in force, the world that Jayne Castle creates in Harmony is actually kind of intriguing and quite creative.

I think I rather like this series and the world it takes place in.  For one thing, I AM kind of happy that there weren't any awkward info dumps, though I DO appreciate seeing some random back history tangents, even if, maybe, they were a bit forced.

Nonetheless, I found the prequel novella (see short review here) and the first two books of the Harmony series quite fun to read.

Lydia was a delight as the main heroine in a romance: straight-forward, gutsy, sarcastic, and resourceful.  There were moments that she became slightly irritating, but those passed by quite quickly and I barely even noticed them.  But I truly DID love that she wasn't afraid to be blunt and say whatever was on her mind.

Emmett was a typical romance hero, but at the same time I'm happy to say that he was enjoyable as well.  He had his moments of broody, alpha, caveman.  But he also had enough sense and respect for Lydia to acknowledge when she was the expert and telling her to stay out of situations was pointless or even inadvisable.

Together, the two DID make a great team as a tangler-hunter pair.  It makes the romance a lot more interesting and likable when the couple can work together and have a nice steamy-hot relationship on the side.  The romance itself wasn't the most interesting love story nor was the best I've read, but after two books of the same couple, you grow to love them together a lot.  And as a matter of fact, they felt so comfortable and natural together, that I couldn't see the couple in any other way aside from being a pair who've been together forever instead of the short month or so that they'd actually known each other for.

While the first book was slightly bland, I think having that second book kind of makes up for it.  As an introduction to a futuristic, paranormal romantic suspense, I think this short story arc does it's job nicely.  Even if the suspense parts were kind of predictable.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge -- Bout of Books 16

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/05/series-start-thoughts-harmony-books-1-2.html
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review 2016-05-17 13:00
End of Series Review: Heather Wells
Size 12 and Ready to Rock - Meg Cabot
The Bride Wore Size 12 - Meg Cabot

Heather Wells series

by Meg Cabot
Book #4:  Size 12 and Ready to Rock | Goodreads | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #5:  The Bride Wore Size 12 | Goodreads | Rating:  4.0 Stars

See Also Previous Reviews:


Overall Series Average Rating:  3.6 Stars

The reason why I decided to combine these last two Heather Wells books into one bundled review was because I couldn't really think of much to say about Size 12 and Ready to Rock.  To me, there was really no point in taking up a whole post with the words, "This was a very good book, probably my favorite of the Heather Wells series.  Very enjoyable."

The summary blurb to personal thoughts ratio was just too unbalanced for it to merit a whole individual post.  Because while it's true that I really enjoyed the fourth book in the Heather Wells series, I think I've already said all I need to say about the series overall.

The same goes for The Bride Wore Size 12.

To be totally honest, both books were excellent, enjoyable, entertaining, un-put-down-able.  And to be honest, even while these last two installments of the Heather Wells series seems to be the least liked by many others, I actually found them to be my more favorite of the five book series.

Heather's tacky jokes are toned down a bit.  Heather and Cooper get more time together and we get to see how well they work together both as partners in investigation and as lovers.  At the same time, Heather seems to have grown a lot over the course of these books and has learned to live for herself more than for the sake of being with Cooper.

Really, this is just my opinion, but Book #4 is probably my favorite of the five.  It could just also be that all the characters have grown on me after so many installments.



The Books


Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy!

 Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself—who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim.

 Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright—who just happens to be Heather's new fiancÉ. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, this reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.




Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

 With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse—until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

 Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.


Final Thoughts:
Overall, the Heather Wells series was extremely enjoyable, even in spite of my reserves after not quite enjoying the first book.  But things got better, Heather grows on you, and you start to look forward to seeing how things end up for her and her students and her friends.

The final ending in the fifth book might have brought back a bit of the tacky, but I'm completely satisfied enough not to dwell on it.  A lot of things might have been left unresolved, but open-ended-ness isn't all that bad when you're enjoying yourself.

I will definitely be looking forward to another Meg Cabot book or series.





2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/05/end-of-series-review-heather-wells.html
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review 2016-04-29 13:00
End of Series Review: Lady Julia Grey
Dark Road to Darjeeling - Deanna Raybourn
The Dark Enquiry - Deanna Raybourn

by Deanna Raybourn
Book #4: Dark Road to Darjeeling | Goodreads | Rating:  2.5 Stars
Book #5: The Dark Enquiry | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars

See Also Previous Reviews:

Overall Series Average Rating:  3.1 Stars

As much as there were a lot of things about this entire series that bugged me, a few things were quite evident to me upon finishing the last book in this series:


  • The books and the character and Lady Julia's world kind of grows on you.
    • They may all have their frustrating moments, and you might find that no matter how much you like a character he or she will also have a lot of annoying moments; but it rings true as a little family in real life, and that's kind of what I loved about Julia's world.
    • When Nicholas Brisbane wasn't being an arrogant jackass, he was actually pretty cool; specifically in the last book of this series.  The guy seems to have chilled out a bit.


  • The books are written very beautifully and have a charm to them that make you want to continue reading even though you may have reserves about the rest of the series.
    • The atmosphere of these books never ceased to set a great mood for me.
    • The descriptions were excellent.


  • Julia is an extremely charming narrator to follow throughout the five books, even if she has a penchant to act or speak before she thinks.




Dark Road to Darjeeling



After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia's eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband's family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband's death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.

I continued to contemplate whether or not to finish this series.  The romance exhausts me.  And even though the writing is beautiful and does exceptionally well to set a moody atmosphere, the story itself seemed a bit tedious and overwrought with soap opera-like drama. Anything and everything you could think of to happen in a story to bring about angst reared into the surface.


Even what happens to Jane in the end.

(spoiler show)

The characters exhaust me as well, and despite how much I have been loving Julia since the first book, I'm becoming consistently more frustrated with her, with her husband (whom I have yet to find a reason to like), and with their overall interaction and relationship with each other. I am becoming increasingly tired of everyone letting Brisbane's burdens and past, tragic childhood misfortunes justify his acting like an arrogant ass or keeping all of his secrets until he feels it necessary to confide in his wife--and usually not because he wants to confide in her, but because he's been found out.

On another side note, I did not think I would become so frustrated with Portia either, but she was simply becoming irritating throughout the book. And Plum had always been a bit melodramatic.

These books are readily readable and, to be honest, aside from the sudden flux of melodrama near the end, I was actually enjoying this book pretty well.  I may have said this before, but I found myself enjoying more the scenes wherein Julia is maneuvering on her own, or whenever she and Brisbane finally stop quarreling and at least try to work together.  Their banter is lovely when they're not trying to hide secrets from one another, or whenever Brisbane isn't being a complete asshat.




The Dark Enquiry



Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane's private enquiry business. Among the more unlikely clients: Julia's very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved--if eccentric--family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Spirit Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances--and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont's sake--and more--they'll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keepÂ….

As I'd already mentioned, the books kind of grow on you and you eventually stop letting the little quibbles and flaws bug you.  Nicholas Brisbane chills his intensity a lot in this last book and I find him much more agreeable than I have in any of the other books.  Unfortunately, with a more relaxed Brisbane, we somehow managed to acquire a much more reckless Lady Julia.

And to be honest, it hadn't really been until this last book that I actually started to understand the extent of Julia's recklessness when certain things happened to happen.  But that's a spoiler I'm not willing to divulge.


This last book was a rather more interesting and enjoyable one than the previous, which makes for a good ending note for the concluding book in the series... even if the series still kind of continues in the form of some short novellas following this book.  But that's another post for another time.

On a side note, a little tidbit from the beginning of The Dark Enquiry:

Not that I'm discounting Mademoiselle Hortense de Bellefleur's advice or wisdom, but I'm unnaturally jaded for reasons and her exclamation that "love conquers all" seems a bit too idealistic.  Nonetheless, her little rant to Julia made a lot of sense pertaining to Julia and Brisbane... while at the same time, it kind of provokes some thoughts of mild disagreement:


"Love is the only thing that lasts, Julia, the only thing that matters.  And both of you are trying to throw it away with both hands because you are proud and stubborn.  For all your differences, you are too much alike, the pair of you.  But you are lucky, so lucky and you are too blind to see it!  This man, this magnificent man, offers you love and you take it and say, 'Give me more, give me respect!'  And he does the same to you, saying to this beautiful woman, 'Your love is not enough, I want your obedience, as well!'  Why cannot love be enough for the both of you?  It is more than some of us have or will ever have again," she finished on a sob [...]

Take what you will from this quote, but there are certain parts of it that don't really settle well with me--a certain amount of double standard inequality that I can't quite pinpoint.  Of course, I might just be overly sensitive.  However, as I'd already stated, I can kind of see what the mademoiselle is trying to get at even if I don't a hundred percent agree.

Also, this kind of speech probably wouldn't fly very well in modern relationships--not that I'd know, being inexperienced and all, but I'm just sayin'.




Series Overall Thoughts:


I've probably already said all that I need to say about this series.  And I'm actually kind of surprised I still had anything to say at all.  After all, the structure of all five Lady Julia Grey books are almost exactly alike and almost felt tedious and dragged out at times.

It's just fortunate that the writing and Julia's charm kept me interested.

I almost didn't want to write another review, but I had some thoughts that I felt the need to share.

But as I'd stated before, and my reading BFF buddy concurs:  I've run out of things to say about the series.


2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Bookish Resolutions Challenge



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/04/end-of-series-review-lady-julia-grey.html
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