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review 2017-07-26 02:35
Thoughts: Midnight Crystal
Midnight Crystal - Jayne Castle

Midnight Crystal
by Jayne Castle
Book 7 of Harmony
-- Book 3 (final) of Dreamlight Trilogy



For many earthly centuries, a legendary curse has plagued the Winters family, stemming from the tumultuous founding of the Arcane Society.  But now, on the futuristic world of Harmony, the curse’s final mystery will be unraveled…

Adam Winters has enough responsibility as the new head of the local Ghost Hunter Guild without being saddled with the family curse.  He’s convinced his recent nightmares and hallucinations will lead to him becoming a psychic rogue—unless he can find a stolen relic and a woman who can read dreamlight.

Marlowe Jones rides into his life on a motorcycle and with a dust bunny at her side.  Though a descendant of the rival Arcane family, she’s just what Adam needs: a psychic private investigator and dreamlight reader extraordinaire.

Together, amid the glowing catacombs and steamy underground jungles of Harmony, Adam and Marlowe must break the curse, save the entire underworld—and fight a passion that could destroy them both…

As I had hoped, Midnight Crystal wrapped up the Dreamlight trilogy quite nicely without overdoing it with the repetitive 'Burning Lamp' and 'Winters Curse' legends.  There were a few repeats of similar dialogue and actions from the previous two Dreamlight books, but overall, Midnight Crystal proved to be a standalone, and a conclusive sequel to the Dreamlight trilogy.

As is usual for Jayne Castle (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz), we still employ a lot of the same devices for the romantic relationship and the standard main hero and heroine.  But as is also usual, I enjoyed myself enough not to get nit-picky about it.  Once again, new psychic skills and alien discoveries were employed as part of the book's background; and once again, we get to see the interesting world of Harmony, as well as how well JAK manages to connect it to her contemporary and historical series, Arcane Society.

But rather than hints here and there about a paranormal society from the 'Old World' on Earth, we make a big, distinctive connection by bringing in Marlowe Jones, the new boss of Jones & Jones, the paranormal private investigation company that works for the Arcane Society.  Even Adam Winters' appearance was more Arcane Society than Harmony, which really DID make the book feel more like part of the former series than the latter.

Castle's ability to somehow interweave the paranormal talents from Arcane Society with the newly developed alien psi talents on Harmony was actually handled quite well.  I would love to see more of these interconnections, but as the Arcane Society series draws to a close, I'm not sure how much more of Harmony series will include Arcane.

Nonetheless, back to Midnight Crystal...

The book is enjoyable, well-written, and fun.  I loved the characters, and even though this book mainly focused on Adam and Marlowe, I loved the potential that other side characters had.  The main conflict of the book wasn't all that interesting, as it progressed along the same lines as the previous two books in this trilogy.  The rest of the story felt like there might have been more than one main conflict, which also progressed along the same lines as the rest of the Harmony books that came previously.

What saves these books from being overly repetitive are the new developments in the world and the story line.  But otherwise, the romances are always the same, the general book outline is typically standard, and everything is a little predictable.

But nonetheless, I always enjoy myself.

One thing that stood out, though, was Marlowe's assertion that Jones & Jones was no longer a unique, stand alone paranormal private investigating agency.  With the development of paranormal and psi abilities in Harmony, the idea of psychic ability became a normal part of everyday life.  And so any old paranormal private investigator would promptly become just any old regular private investigator.  And even while Jones & Jones still gets most of its work from the Arcane Society, they are now in a greater competitive scope with many other private investigators who can do the same kind of work that Jones & Jones can do.

I thought that that was a nice touch, considering how secretive the agency had to be throughout the historical and contemporary time lines.

Meanwhile, I never tire of Castle's tendency to also insert some dust bunny moments that just make me feel all smiley and fuzzy.  Gibson wasn't really all that unique when it comes to dust bunnies, but he was still a wonderful addition--I can still picture the scene at the beginning of the book where Marlowe finds him a nice piece of deadwood to use as a surfboard in one of the alien underground jungle pools.



Free Friday #6:

Page Count:  371
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $233






Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/thoughts-midnight-crystal.html
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text 2017-07-25 14:06
Booklikes-opoly | Roll #32!
Booklikes, the book blogging social platform


Roll #31 took me to Main Street 10, a square I've only landed on once before prior to the Big Game Shake Up (see above link).  For this square, I read Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis, which is part of the Lucky Harbor series, a contemporary romance set in the small Washington state town of Lucky Harbor, where everyone knows everyone's business, especially if you get caught doing personal business by the town's Facebook page keeper, Lucille... who has now also learned how to Twitter.

Always on My Mind is 318 pages, worth $6.00.


This book felt overly complicated.  It has all the wit and shine that Shalvis typically infuses into her stories and her characters... and yet I still found Leah and Jack overly complicated.  Mainly because I had no idea what either of them wanted from each other throughout the entire book.  Somehow, I feel like if they'd quit talking around each other, or if they'd quit trying to read each other's minds, thus jumping to conclusions, their relationship would have progressed just a little more smoothly.

But then we probably wouldn't have had a story 300 pages long.


Meanwhile, I also finished reading my Free Friday read from 7/21, Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle, earning another $6.00 for the 371 page book.  Another great, entertaining read from Jayne Castle, and I'm closer to finishing the series.

A review for both books will be posted soon.

That brings us to Roll #32:


Because I finished reading Always on My Mind at work, I whipped out my phone and went ahead and rolled.  I got a 5, which brought me to Luxury Tax, which says:  "Read a book where someone gets married, with jewelry on the cover, or where any character is a millionaire/billionaire!"


I'm not sure what new pose Monkey is going for here, but, hey, as long as everyone looks happy!  Of course, I would be happier if my mascot monkey would quit covering up my board so much.

I have landed on Luxury Tax once before, after the Big Game Shake Up took place.  Being that, this will be a second finish, and so the following location multiplier applies:

Second finish:
0 to 100 pages: $3.00
101 to 200 pages: $6.00
201 to 400 pages: $9.00
401 to 800 pages: $15.00
over 801 pages: $30.00

Meanwhile, because I was at work when I landed on this game space, I didn't have all of my handy-dandy book list of possible books for each square available.  So I started looking at books that I'd been meaning to read, such as the Tremaine Traditions books by Kylie Brant, or some such...

But it occurred to me that one of the books that I really, really want to read (for more reasons than one) managed to fit this game space wonderfully, as well as count towards another challenge.  And I got super excited, but this works out, oh so great!


I'd been meaning to read On the Loose by Tara Janzen, both for my Personal Series Challenge, and also for COYER Summer Reading List.  And as it just so happens to be the July readathon of the "read physical books only" persuasion, I was going to go ahead and squeeze this book in for the week, BLopoly or no BLopoly.

Of course, being a BLopoly candidate is absolutely better!  So when I recalled that the main heroine, Honoria "Honey" York-Lytton had shown up in the previous Steele Street book, introduced as a rich socialite, who readily dropped a quarter of a million dollars into an orphanage where her sister works and resides as a nun, I figured that she has to be a millionaire of some sort, maybe an heiress to whatever trust fund her parents will have put together for her.

I've already started reading some of the book while I was at work, and the emphasis on her wealth and family lineage is evident.  Some Paris Hilton references are made, and she's referred to as a socialite a few times, as well as how most people don't question her hopping from one country to another at the drop of a dime.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and deduce that Honey comes from money--lots of it.

On the Loose by Tara Janzen is the seventh Steele Street series book, and my paperback copy is 403 pages long.  According the "Second Finish" location multiplier, when I finish this book, I will be increasing my Bank by $15.00.

Not a bad deal at all!  And to think that I had been contemplating buying another roll to see where I'd end up.

Current Bank:   $239



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/booklikes-opoly-roll-32.html
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review 2017-07-25 02:33
Quick Thoughts: The Pretender
The Pretender (Liar's Club, #1) - Celeste Bradley

The Pretender
by Celeste Bradley
Book 1 of The Liar's Club



Rule #1: Never fall in love.

She had a secret she'd do anything to hide.
Agatha Cunnington, a headstrong beauty from the country, has come to London in search of her missing brother James.  The only clue she has is a cryptic letter signed The Griffin.  Agatha decides to disguise herself as a respectable married woman so that she can go about the city unnoticed.  But for her charade to work she needs a suitable "husband," preferably someone tall, elegant, and rakish—someone like Simon Montague Raines.

He had a secret he'd do anything to hide.
Simon Montague Raines, also known as The Magician, is a member of The Liar's Club, a renegade group of rogues and thieves in the service of the Crown.  When someone begins murdering members of the undercover cabal one by one, Simon is given the mission to bring in The Griffin, one of his comrades who is suspected of betraying his brothers.  Simon goes undercover and infiltrates the home of "Mrs." Agatha Applequist who he believes is the Griffin's mistress.  Before Simon knows what's happened, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to Agatha's soft, feminine charms--and he is tempted beyond reason to break the first rule of The Liar's Club: Never fall in love.

The Pretender started off really rocky, and I'll have to admit that there were moments in the beginning that I thought I'd end up frustrated with the book.  Our couple, as is typical of most romance novels, move from initial surprise meeting to insta-lust so quickly that I sort of got whiplash.  And then the lust continued to dominate most of their interactions and conversations and thoughts for a time.

Needless to say, I was definitely feeling a bit irritated with it.

But then, I can't quite pinpoint when, the story started getting interesting when things began to balance out.  Agatha started working with Simon in a strange little spy and investigation partnership rather than just issuing him his orders.  Simon started taking Agatha's abilities a little more seriously and the two sort of, unofficially accepted their strange partnership.

It was only all the more intriguing that Simon had false impressions about Agatha, and that Agatha was working under false impressions of Simon.

And while I would have loved for this weird tango of deceit and secrets to continue, I have to admit that the reveals and the twists in the middle of the book worked out quite well.  Nothing else seemed to change between the two save for a better understanding of each others' roles.

And as I was fully invested in both character's stories by then, I didn't care to nitpick too much more about the book as a whole.  Though I must admit that there were some moments (such as Agatha's multiple attempts to seduce Simon) that actually came out more comical, even in spite of the more serious tone of her own thought processes.  In creating these scenes however, I actually came to admire some of the more inelegant behaviors and actions of our two main characters (the scene where Agatha is unceremoniously thrust out of Simon's room in the nude is quite unforgettable, as I think about her having to make a stumbling sprint back to her own bedroom to avoid awkward discovery).

On a side note, Simon's attempts at evading seduction (a la the aforementioned scene where he extricates Agatha from his immediate quarters) were commendable.  But really, with Agatha's head-strong determination, the poor guy really didn't have a chance in the world of resistance.

I think this is what sort of made the book a bit more enticing to me--not the seduction process, no.  The characters were unique and interesting in their own ways, but their actions and antics were quite entertaining to follow.  Well, okay, it was really Agatha's antics I really enjoyed the most, what with her managing to make so much headway into ferreting out secrets and investigating her brother's disappearance within days, while Simon admits that it had taken him and his men much longer to even come up with some inkling of what might have happened to James Cunnington.

Agatha was a study in contradictions, really.  She believes herself to be ordinary and not a beauty.  But during her investigations, she tactfully uses her larger than average bosom size (a not so ordinary trait) to extract information from many of the salivating lords and gentlemen she interacts with.  She's written as a character who doesn't really have a deceitful bone in her body... and yet all of her behaviors are contradictory because she begins the book as a liar who creates a fake marriage and husband as part of her investigation strategy.

And yet, she's a readily likable character.  In contrast, Simon was rather ordinary and standard for a romance novel.

Other characters in The Pretender were also wonderfully crafted as well, and I can't wait to see if any of them play a role in following books.

Meanwhile, there were a few things about this book that didn't quite work out for me, thus the rather mediocre to blah rating.  But I can't deny that I enjoyed myself enough to want to continue on with the series.

The Pretender isn't the best book in the world, and definitely didn't start off all that well.  Others who would expect a great book within the first few chapters might get impatient, but I'm quite satisfied that it felt like our author seemed to find a direction and better footing in her writing process as the book itself progressed.  Though, to be honest, I can't help but note that the book DOES seem to feel like it could have been two, or maybe even three, different anecdotes when you get to the second half, even while the ending manages to tie things together well enough.



Roll #30:  "Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in 'Tesla'."

Authors first and last name = Celeste Bradley

Page Count:  384
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $227.00



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/quick-thoughts-pretender.html
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text 2017-07-24 14:14
24in48 July 2017 Readathon: Wrap Up


And That's a Wrap!!


Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

Things didn't work out for me for this readathon as well as I would have liked.  Yes, Saturday was a rather productive day, but mainly in the non-reading sector.  I spent time just hanging out with the family, with my brother being back in town.  It was nice, and I DID get a little bit of read done during random moments of free time.

Then I slept my Sunday morning away, having gotten very little sleep the previous day, and DID manage to get a bit more reading done.

During my last update, I'd calculated a rough total of 5 hours of reading.  But after that, I sort of lost track of how much time I spent reading.  I can recall taking about 2 hours, maybe 3 hours, to reach about half point into Midnight Crystal, then passing out again for a few hours.  Then I spent another 2 hours finishing the rest of the book--some random moments there and there that would most likely add up to 2 hours, that is.

So, in total, I barely glanced the underside of 10 hours of reading.

Nonetheless, I DID finish two books, despite The Pretender being more like half a book, and despite the fact that I had already gotten about 14 pages into Midnight Crysal.  However, since I also started reading Always on My Mind, about 14 pages in, I'm going to say that I've sort of reached my goal for this weekend.

I read one and half books!  I'm fine with that accomplishment.  Though without the interference of family socializing, I'm almost sure I would have been able to finish one more book.



Books Read



Still To Read



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/24in48-july-2017-readathon-wrap-up.html
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text 2017-07-24 01:17
COYER Summer Reading List | July Readathon!
COYER is a reading challenge hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading, Berls @ Fantasy is more fun, and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
COYER stands for "Clean out your e-reads."  And typically the goal is to read from all the freebies or low priced books you've collected in the past on your e-readers.

But for this summer duration of June 17th to September 8th, our hosts are throwing out the normal rules!

Click on this link to sign up or read about COYER Summer 2017.
My COYER Summer Reading List summary page.

For those of us participating in the Summer Reading List part of this summer's COYER Challenge, our hosts have announced three different readathons for each month of the challenge:


  • Read-a-thon Dates are
    • June 25th – July 2nd ~ read only ebooks
    • July 23rd to July 30th ~ read only physical books
    • August 20th to August 27th ~ read only audio and ebooks

In anticipation of this readathon, I chose to add five physical books to my COYER Summer Reading List after finishing my first five books from the original list.  The decision was made based on the fact that I really just wanted to try and finish reading the last five Steele Street books I have left to finish reading.  I acquired the last of the eleven book series at the beginning of this year and have just been looking for a chance to read them.


Of course, Booklikes-opoly is still ongoing, so, once again, I may not be able to focus solely on this readathon, but will only count towards the thon, the physical books from my current reading list.  And hopefully I'll make some good progress.

My attention has already been scattered today.  As the first day of the thon, I'd hoped to be able to start one of the above books, but it looks like I will have to give it some time.  Currently I'm still in the midst of reading books for BLopoly, both of which are great books and should be easy reads, so hopefully I'll be able to break into my reading list again.



Ani's COYER Summer Reading List

See Also: COYER Summer Reading List @ GR

  1. Going Rogue by Robin Benway
  2. Secret Agent Secretary by Melissa Cutler -- 6/29/2017
  3. Hot on the Hunt by Melissa Cutler -- 7/8/2017
  4. Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder
  5. Secrets by Cynthia Eden
  6. Suspicions by Cynthia Eden
  7. The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox -- 6/25/2017
  8. Hot Mess by Lynn Raye Harris
  9. Hot Package by Lynn Raye Harris
  10. SEAL's Honor by Elle James
  11. On the Loose by Tara Janzen
  12. Cutting Loose by Tara Janzen
  13. The Mysterious Twin by Leona Karr -- 6/23/2017
  14. Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly
  15. Pushing the Lines by Kimberly Kincaid -- 6/27/2017
  16. Skin Deep by Kimberly Kincaid
  17. Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh
  18. Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell -- 7/9/2017
  19. The First Victim by J.B. Lynn
  20. Thicker Than Water by Maggie Shayne
  21. The Littlest Cowboy by Maggie Shayne
  22. The Law of Attraction by N.M. Silber -- DNF'd on 7/20/2017
  23. Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
  24. Heat Wave anthology - Stephanie Bond, Heidi Betts, Leslie Kelly
  25. That's Amore anthology - Janelle Denison, Tori Carrington, Leslie Kelly
  26. Bare Essentials duo-story anthology - Jill Shalvis, Leslie Kelly
  27. Night Driving by Lori Wilde
  28. Smooth Sailing by Lori Wilde
  29. Crash Landing by Lori Wilde
  30. Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates


The Add Five After Reading Five List:

(Added on 7/8/2017)

  1. Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen
  2. Breaking Loose by Tara Janzen
  3. Loose Ends by Tara Janzen
  4. Ghost Horse by Patricia Rosemoor
  5. Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

Well... Happy Reading, everyone!!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/coyer-summer-reading-list-july-readathon.html
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