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review 2017-10-19 01:19
*Review* Over You By: Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
Over You - Nicola Kraus,Emma McLaughlin

Over You is a fun bubbly read. The story was very nicely wrote, and definitely a interesting read. The story captures a strong, determined female character who has a business that try’s to help girls get over their ex’s, but only to find herself in her own situation.

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review 2016-11-19 13:25
Thoughts: All Fall Down
All Fall Down - Julie Coulter Bellon

All Fall Down

by Julie Coulter Bellon
Book 1 of Hostage Negotiation Team

My TBR List -- November Winner!
See Other My TBR List Reviews (link coming soon) @ Because Reading


Hostage negotiator Claire Michaels’ never thought she'd be involved in an international crisis.  Can she overcome her scars of the past to stop a new al-Qaeda threat?

Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn't expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf.  When he's taken hostage, he knows he has to fight or die.



I read this book as part audio and part Kindle book, though towards the end, it ended up being mostly audio as I found myself listening to it while playing computer games.  It was very easy to just lose myself in a book while playing mindless computer games.  It was a good evening, well spent.

Anyway, the audio book is narrated by Simon Pringle-Wallace, and was actually done quite well once I got used to his voice.  Since the majority of the characters were male, it was easier to get used to his voice once you get past his softer voice for Claire.

But enough of that.

Book-wise, even though I DID enjoy the book, it still seems, sort of, like I'm in the minority of opinions about it.  While it was exciting, fast-paced, and enjoyable enough, there were still things about All Fall Down that didn't quite work out for me, mainly the events at the beginning.  I haven't been able to really pinpoint why, but that some of the actions and events didn't seem to make much sense to me.

Even so, having great characters helps the book.  All Fall Down is bite-sized and flew by before I knew it.  Once the action got started, everything just kind of fell into place.

We already get to see a bunch of side characters, many of whom will probably be getting their own book.  At the same time, the introduction of all these characters doesn't seem awkward or forced.  And while I did like Claire and Rafe just fine, I felt like they were fairly standard as a main couple for a romance novel; though, to be clear, that doesn't take away from the fact that both are great characters.  They just don't really stand out.

Very enjoyable, though not much more unique than any other romantic suspense outside of being about a hostage negotiation team, which is a premise I haven't come across in other romantic suspense books yet.  HOWEVER, I have been introduced to this concept in an old Hong Kong television drama series, which I very much enjoyed, which is why I'd been drawn to the concept of All Fall Down in the first place.

I will definitely find the time to continue this series.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge


Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/11/thoughts-all-fall-down.html
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review 2016-08-27 14:05
Thoughts: Crash and Burn
Crash and Burn - Allison Brennan,Laura Griffin

Crash and Burn

by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
Book 1 of Moreno & Hart

Average Rating:  2.75 Stars

My TBR List -- August Winner!
See Other My TBR List Reviews (link coming soon) @ Because Reading

Crash and Burn is a book about two ex-police turned private investigators, Scarlet Moreno and Krista Hart.  The backstory from the prologue gives us the events of three years ago when Scarlet is almost killed on a mission--somehow, she surmised that someone had set her up for dead, and in the meantime, there was no back up to come bail her out.  Rookie cop Krista is the only other officer willing to jump into the chaos to save Scarlet.

Gunfire ensues and we skip ahead to three years into the present when Scarlet and Krista have both left the LAPD to become private investigators in Newport.  The events of three years prior had bonded the two women, turning them from a senior and rookie cop partnership into best friends, practically like sisters.  At the present moment in this book, the two are struggling to make ends meet by taking every divorce and marital battle case they can get their hands on just to build a client base.

The book is formatted like an anthology, based around these two main characters where Crash is Scarlet Moreno's story, written by Allison Brennan, and Burn is Krista Hart's story, written by Laura Griffin.

To be totally honest, I picked up this book mainly because I'm a fan of Laura Griffin's Tracers series.  I have read something by Allison Brennan before, but couldn't really get into it, and was hoping that this second chance would fare better, especially with only half the book to get through before getting to Laura Griffin's part.




by Allison Brennan

This first part of the book is very abrupt and bite-sized, but still manages to run two story tangents within this little bit.

The Story:
Scarlet chances upon a traffic accident, which ends up landing her in the middle of some domestic dispute involving two rich young adolescents, one of whom might be a bit mentally unstable.  They both contact her to help them with something to do with the other, and Scarlet questions why and how she got herself into this situation when things start getting out of control--apparently between these two clients, there is stalking, death threats, and some crazy-crazy involved.

Meanwhile, she also manages to insert herself into a murder investigation involving a group of college kids.  The chaos begins after an attempted date rape drugging is thwarted by Scarlet's friend, Isaac, who is the bartender of Diego's, a local bar--Scarlet lives in the little hovel over the establishment.

That night after the little college group leaves, a gunshot is fired, waking Scarlet, and she soon finds one young man dead, one critically injured, and one of the girls who'd been at the bar earlier disoriented, drugged, and a possible rape victim.  The incident soon escalates when another girl is found in critical condition, dropped off at a hospital, with an overdose of the new designer date rape drug in her system--her boyfriend is dead in his own home with a knife in his back, and the other college kids who'd been at Diego's in the same group are missing.

The case is being investigated by Alex Bishop, a new detective in Newport, who seems to have gotten the wrong impression of Scarlet, either based on hearsay or something, because he is hostile towards her the moment they meet.

My Thoughts:
Again, this particular portion of Crash and Burn was quite short and abrupt.  While the investigation was done decently, the ending felt kind of like it was quite sudden.  I'm not really complaining, since with only a little less than two hundred pages to present Scarlet's part of the story, it was actually quite detailed and well-written.

In fact, I'm kind of surprised that Brennan was able to include two separate story lines in this bite-sized piece, and am kind of impressed that both had quite well-rounded conclusions following a well-outlined story.

The only complaint I have is that I would have liked to see more of the story on Bishop's side of things, and that this first part of the book could have been a little bit longer.  Instead, it felt incomplete and unsatisfying, even with the well-rounded ending of both cases.  We get little chance to get to know all the major players in this story, especially Detective Bishop, even though we are told quite a bit of backstory about Scarlet.

For instance, I would have liked to know why Bishop was so hostile towards Scarlet in the beginning.  What did he know about her that had him calling her a "disgraced cop" without preamble?  His antagonism against her is much more extreme than even I would have expected towards a private investigator, even knowing that, as a rule, law enforcement officers typically don't care for P.I.s.  And then what changes his mind later on?  And why did he bring up Scarlet's brother?  I didn't see what that had to do with anything.

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

And on top of that, the romance kind of happened as a snap action--one moment Bishop is still glaring at Scarlet, the next moment he's kissing her?  Is this just part of the story because we expect romance?  Because it felt out of place.

There was just so much more that could have been covered had this been a full length novel instead, really.

But it was still quite enjoyable nonetheless, and I'm reconsidering my impression of Brennan's work.

Crash receives a fairly meh 3.5 Stars.  But only because I can feel that it has a lot of potential to lead into a good story.




by Laura Griffin

Burn was... forgettable.  Truth be told, I'm a little disappointed.

The Story:
Amidst working a marital cheating case wherein the husband confronts her with homicidal tendencies, Krista Hard finds herself drawn into a missing persons case where said missing person's life may be in jeopardy.  An infamous criminal defense attorney offers her a job to locate one of his witnesses who has dropped off the face of the planet--the trial is coming up soon and he needs this girl to testify.  But as Krista investigates the disappearance of Lily Daniels, she soon realizes that there is something more going on with Lily.

Meanwhile, Krista also learns that she wasn't the only private investigator hired to locate Lily Daniels.  It's a dog-eat-dog world in a career as a P.I., and Krista is again reminded of just how hard things can get when people like defense attorney Drake Walker and rival P.I. R.J. Flynn do what they can to keep her out of the game.

My Thoughts:
There was a lot of potential to this short section of Crash and Burn if only because it's an exciting premise, and because it's written by Laura Griffin and I'm a big fan.  As is with most Laura Griffin books, Burn doesn't hold back anything, jumping straight into the action.  We even get private investigator politics, crossed with pissing contests, and gender inequality issues.

So much could have been covered just with those little factors and side tangents.

But unfortunately, the execution of the rest of the story kind of felt monotonous and unoriginal.  Burn gave me a sense of "been there, done that," and I can't help but to think that it could have been developed a bit better if it had been a full-length novel, just like Crash.  Instead, we get a bite-sized teaser of what might be forthcoming in the rest of the series as the authors try their best to introduce these two wonderfully crafted main characters.

Nonetheless, this novella-sized half of a book was written well.

The romance between R.J. and Krista had all the makings of a potentially likable "Bickering Couple Romance," between their rivalry.  But there were moments when R.J. went a little overboard on the teasing and the butting in--he reminds me of an elementary school boy who likes the tough girl on the playground, but shows his affection by pulling her pig tails and throwing staples in her hair, unapologetically.  Or taking her glue and crayons and refusing to return them, only to use them for his own means.  Or taking her project ideas and claiming them for his own.

Really, he's just that popular and cool asshole in school whom all the girls tend to fall for anyway.

And Krista is the tough girl who rises to the teasing, which just makes the boy want to tease her some more.

In a way, it could have been a cute romance until the ending came around and did something that I found a little bit distasteful.  In fact, I plain did not like the way R.J. decided to resolve their romantic conflict, as well as the issue concerning Krista's involvement in the missing witness case.  It pissed me off, and days later, it still pisses me off.

This book would have been a higher rating if not for that ending.

Meanwhile, the rest of the story was kind of exciting, but at the same time, entirely forgettable.  I still like that Krista is shown as capable and good investigator, if a little hot-headed and reckless.  I don't like that there were still so many loose ends, and that, like the first story by Allison Brennan, Griffin tries to cram too much material into the short, novella-length story.

For instance:  How does the little cheating husband with homicidal tendencies side-tangent resolve itself?  Did I miss it somehow?  It's a small tangent and I kind of forgot about it for a while, but it's still there and feels like a very big loose end.

Burn receives an even more 'meh' 2.5 Stars.  To be honest, I might have expected too much and felt the sting of disappointment when things didn't turn out the way I wanted it to turn out.  That's probably my fault.



Overall Thoughts

One of the things I DID appreciate about Crash and Burn was how realistic it was in portraying the life of a private investigator.  Not that I know what the life of a private investigator entails.  Granted, it was still chalk full of excitement, but our authors DO take pains to emphasize how not-so-glamorous being a P.I. really is.  Moreno & Hart have spent the past two years since leaving the police force trying to build a client base and a reputation, but even as they've managed to sustain a living with their agency, they admit that the majority of their cases involve jilted spouses, divorce cases, and the like.  The majority of their time is spent waiting for a cheating husband or wife to slip up so that they can take that money-making photo to show their clients.

There's a lot of waiting involved for these two women: waiting for a picture to be taken, waiting for their target to do what they need to do, waiting for a client to hire them...

And then there are more private investigators out there just waiting to pick up that first exciting case that attorneys would be willing to hand them.

While I don't like how things end up for Krista in Burn--where she does almost all the work, but gets no credit for it; where she just knows that she's going to get screwed over on her pay by a hotshot client she's not willing to antagonize--it's something that DOES happen in real life, whether you're a private investigator or not.

I'm hoping we'll see more action and less bite-sized snippets in the next few installments of Moreno & Hart.  While this book was pretty enjoyable, neither of the two stories included in it felt like it was fully complete.  These were teasers at best, and I'm hoping we'll get better with the next book.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/thoughts-crash-and-burn.html
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review 2016-04-30 11:20
Thoughts: Size 14 Is Not Fat Either
Size 14 Is Not Fat Either - Meg Cabot

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either

by Meg Cabot

Book 2 of Heather Wells series



Confession: In spite of what I thought of Heather Wells in the first book of this series, I found myself loving her strange charm in this second book. While there were still a lot of things I found frustrating about her, I felt like the circumstances of the murder mystery in Size 14 really brought out the best of Heather Wells.

I definitely enjoyed Size 14 Is Not Fat Either and found Heather and the book itself a fun, entertaining read--something you don’t have to think about too hard either.

And I also confess, the murder mystery really DID manage to have me stumped. While I had a feeling that I knew there was something going on with certain characters (Kimberly, Coach Andrews, etc….), I wasn’t entirely certain what it was and my suspicions about the killer had been flaky at best--too many characters to lay suspicion on, really.

Official Blurb:

Former pop star Heather Wells has settled nicely into her new life as assistant dorm director at New York College—a career that does NOT require her to drape her size 12 body in embarrassingly skimpy outfits. She can even cope (sort of) with her rocker ex-boyfriend's upcoming nuptials, which the press has dubbed THE Celebrity Wedding of the Decade. But she's definitely having a hard time dealing with the situation in the dormitory kitchen—where a cheerleader has lost her head on the first day of the semester. (Actually, her head is accounted for—it's her torso that's AWOL.)

Surrounded by hysterical students—with her ex-con father on her doorstep and her ex-love bombarding her with unwanted phone calls—Heather welcomes the opportunity to play detective . . . again. If it gets her mind off her personal problems—and teams her up again with the gorgeous P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives—it's all good. But the murder trail is leading the average-sized amateur investigator into a shadowy world. And if she doesn't watch her step, Heather will soon be singing her swan song!

My Thoughts:
Much like the first book, this cozy mystery is actually not so much cozy mystery as it is chick lit about Heather Wells and how her life is going. Then again, it could also be said that the genres in this book were bouncing all over the place: chick lit, cozy mystery, contemporary romance, humorous something or other… etc. But whatever it was that this book ended up being, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The tacky, untactful jokes Heather makes are still kind of tacky, but she’s toned down her penchant for over dramatisation as compared to the first book. There was a lot less of her focusing on her size and her weight, and more of her just telling the facts as they are--which made the self-deprecating fat jokes a little bit more readily received by yours truly. After all, I make fat jokes about myself as well, and the ones in this book were quite aligned with how I usually joke around.

Jokes aside, Heather is quite charming and amusing to follow, especially in this second book wherein she spends a little bit of time at the beginning of the book trying her darndest not to interfere in the murder investigation. But to be totally honest, either she’s just way too curious for her own good, way too impatient to see things getting done, or the detectives in this book are just plain incompetent. It DID kind of feel like the cops weren’t really investigating the case of our decapitated student very seriously, and then whenever Heather offers some viable information she has come across, they treat her like she’s some sort of comedian.

I might be mistaken, but no matter that you don’t want your civilians investigating a murder on their own, if said civilian DOES come up with something suspicious or a clue that might help the investigation along, shouldn’t the cops at least look into it or treat the matter a bit more seriously? Just sayin’. This is what hotlines are for, isn’t it?

Anyway, the romance in this book is still a backseat event, and I’m kind of glad that Heather’s ex, Jordan, is getting hitched--maybe he’ll stop pestering her finally. Secondly, for a woman nearing her thirties, I still find it a little bit disconcerting that Heather still acts like a teenager most times--and that everyone else around her also treats her like a child and feel the need to get into her business and tell her how best to run her romantic life.

Otherwise, Size 14 was an entirely, very enjoyable book and I definitely plan on finishing the rest of the series.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge -- My TBR List - April Winner


See Also: First Impression @ 3 Chapters



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/04/thoughts-size-14-is-not-fat-either.html
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review 2016-02-27 13:00
Thoughts: The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap
The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap by Kauffman, Donna, Angell, Kate, Kincaid, Kimberly (2014) Mass Market Paperback - Donna, Angell, Kate, Kincaid, Kimberly Kauffman

Average Rating for this anthology: 3.5 Stars


My TBR List -- February Winner!


See Other My TBR List Reviews @ Because Reading


First of all, thanks to everyone who voted in my very first My TBR List. I'd been looking forward to reading The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap even if it wasn't the book I had personally put a vote in for. Nonetheless, despite it being two months past Christmastime, it still doesn't hurt to read a holiday-themed romance collection--especially one that has to do with cookies!

Even though I was less enamoured with Kate Angell's The Gingerbread Man, it was still entertaining to a point. And so, overall, I DID enjoy this anthology a lot and am ecstatic that I discovered one new author I'd be interested in pursuing: Donna Kauffman's Where There's Smoke... was immensely enjoyable.

Now onto the stories:

The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap collection features three best friends during the holiday times and their respective love stories. We first meet them during a community center cookie charity auction and the three of them talk about their holiday plans and whatnot.

• Where There's Smoke... by Donna Kauffman -- 4.0 Stars
Very enjoyable and fun! I'm glad to have found another new author to enjoy.

Clara is an accident-prone, bumbling news journalist with ambitious goals of writing human drama stories about the people of her town around Pine Mountain. Having just been "dumped" by a man she'd thought she'd been starting a romantic relationship with, this particular incident is witnessed by her boss--because Clara is currently the writer for the relationship columns at the paper, of course, this very public display in which she is "dumped" is not good for business.

However, pleading with her boss to give her a second chance, she lands an opportunity writing several features for a cookie baking column... the only problem is, Clara doesn't know the first thing about baking. In fact, any kind of incident involving the kitchen tends to lead to getting the fire department on speed dial for damage control before she burns down her house. Fortunately for her, an old best friend has just set foot back into her life and he just happens to be a fire fighter.

Where There's Smoke... was enjoyable the whole time through, making use great use of a dorky girl and her old college best friend as a great romantic synopsis. And while I'm typically not much for the "bumbling idiot girl = cuteness" device, Clara actually came off quite endearing. But probably because she wasn't entirely helpless in a kitchen given the right amount of schooling and help.

Will Mason isn't entirely unique as a main romance male character, but given his back history, he's given more personality--and that is what I loved about this couple. Despite being a muscular, sexy-as-sin fire fighter in the present, Will is described as having been cute, but adorkably lanky, having not quite grown into his own skin yet when he and Clara first met years prior to this story.

The relationship presented between the two was cute and sweet, and given that they were both best friends first before a brief separation and now a heart-warming reunion, I really, honestly DID enjoy watching them fall in love.

• The Gingerbread Man by Kate Angell -- 2.5 Stars
Potential that just missed the mark.

Abby has a secret side business that no one but her best friends know about--she makes and sells erotic-themed baked goods on the internet. For now, she mostly does business with women wanting party favors for bachelorette parties and the like. But Abby is determined to bring her secret business into the public. During the community center cookie charity auction, she has entered her anatomically correct gingerbread men as part of the cookie swap.

Somehow, the little tin of erotic cookies ends up in the hands of a passing stranger who is merely looking for directions to Philadelphia. And because of these cookies, our handsome stranger, Landon, gets distracted while driving in the stormy, snowy weather and ends up in a ditch. This is where Abby finds him on her way home and being that the snow storm was only going to bet worse as the night went on, she makes the decision to bring him back to her home until the roads are clear and safe again.

To be honest, this story had a lot of potential, what with a romance taking place where a couple is stranded in a fairly isolated cabin, buried in winter weather and snow. On top of that, there are anatomically correct gingerbread men to contend with. I was looking for something fun and quirky and cute.

Instead, while the story wasn't really all that bad, it was also kind of boring. The writing style was also awkward--sometimes a little too wordy, and sometimes a little too dramatic. And, of course, both Abby and Landon were the stock-standard romance novel hero and heroine as well--perfect for each other, perfect as individuals... just absolutely flawless people who end up having great sex and falling in love for no reason other than because the author dictates.

Nonetheless, this was enjoyable in it's own way. Just not my favorite of the three stories.

• Sugar and Spice by Kimberly Kincaid -- 4.0 Stars
Cute, inspirational, humorous, and everything I typically expect from Kimberly Kincaid!

Lily is married to her baking and has time for nothing else. Her cooking process is just as meticulous as her ideals in life--straight-laced, unwavering, planned and strategic to a T. While she has her own cake business, her tiny kitchen is just not big enough if she wants to expand her clientele and so she knows that her next step is a storefront with a larger kitchen. Participating in the Pine Mountain Resort Christmas cookie baking contest seems just the means to get where she needs to go, with a monetary reward enough to start up a decent sized bakery.

But Lily finds herself going head-to-head against a charming, suave, and sexy chef with ambitions of his own--to leave his current position and make a name for himself, good enough to become the next chef of an upscale restaurant in the city. Pete's cooking style is professional and skilled, but at the same time, grand and risky and too spontaneous for Lily to handle. When the two of them meet in the kitchen, it's quite the showdown, even as a simmering attraction begins to build.

Kimberly Kincaid has a writing style I enjoy--relaxed, humorous, fun. So even if I haven't entirely enjoyed all of her works, I still pay attention to anything with her name on it. Sugar and Spice certainly did not disappoint, with a short, to-the-point love story with a cute build-up, great characters, and a lovely Happily Ever After™. Lily and Pete clashed with each other so badly, both in personality and as chefs that it was extremely entertaining and fun to read, proving the whole opposites attract theory in some form.

Perhaps because this was a tried-and-true romance formula written well with likable characters. Perhaps because I wasn't expecting more from this story (or this entire anthology) than sweet little love stories. I ended up immensely enjoying this little story of a couple falling in love through competition.

In a word: It was fun!

Final Thoughts:
Short and sweet little romance anthologies are always lovely, and being a hopeless romantic for fictional romances, I don't turn them down. The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, though actually a holiday-themed collection, still makes for an enjoyable read during the February Valentine season.

Sometimes these little gems just hit the right spot, because they're exactly what you're looking for, and don't usually pretend to be anything more.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge - New-to-me Author #5 & #6
-- February My TBR List meme
Mount TBR Challenge




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