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review 2017-11-13 22:08
That Inevitable Victorian Thing: Or, Austen in the future.
That Inevitable Victorian Thing - E. Russell Johnston Jr.

Do you like regency stories? Ones with coming out balls for young ladies, elaborate teas, and awkward exchanges between suitors while they try to remain proper? Do you, in fact, love all that stuff but wish those stories had more diversity in their casts? Yes? Then you should read this book. It has all of that and more, and captures that light floaty tone impeccably.

I, however, don't particularly care for any of those things, which is why this book didn't blow my socks off. It's not you, book, it's me. The premise really intrigued me on this one - I was expecting much more of a sci-fi influence. Really though, it just feels like a regency romance with some technology and alternate history sprinkled in. Which is totally fine, but not what I was hoping for.

There's a lot to love about this book. The diverse cast was refreshing. The world was interesting. The tone was carefully crafted and the prose decent. And I will say I quite liked the ending, which is why I'm giving the book as many stars as I am. I can already tell this is going to be a lot of people's favorite book of the year. As for me it wasn't really my cup of tea. If you're looking for intricate sci-fi and cultural analysis this one might be a miss for you. If you want a fluffy yet diverse regency romance then snap this one up post-haste.

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review 2017-11-02 18:48
The Whole Thing Together - Ann Brashares

Ray and Sasha share a room in the family house in the Hamptons and share the same three older sisters Emma, Quinn, and Mattie but they have never met. Ray's mom was married to Sasha's dad and they had three daughters than they got divorced and then went on to remarry and have Ray and Sasha. This summer things are changing for them and their sisters. Their interests are starting to change, they don't care about their old shared books or shell collection in their shared room anymore. Mattie is falling in love with Matt and hopes he feels the same way about her. Emma is trying to figure out how to introduce her boyfriend James to the family. Quinn wants to figure out where she comes from and where she now belongs. After Ray and Sasha start corresponding through e-mail they start to winder if there can be anything romantic between them with so much family between th two of them. I got an advanced copy of this book from netgalley.com.

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text 2017-10-02 22:30
September 2017 Round Up!
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix
Carter & Lovecraft - Jonathan L. Howard
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters - Emil Ferris
Dark Screams: Volume Eight - Bentley Little,Kealan Patrick Burke,Richard Chizmar,Frank Darabont,Brian James Freeman
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Recorded Books LLC,Jeff Guinn,Jonathan Hogan
The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith
Haven - Greymore Publishing,Matt Godfrey,Tom Deady
Audrey Rose - Frank De Felitta,Matt Godfrey
Mystery Road - Kevin Lucia

I read 16 books in September!

 

 

Graphic Novels:

 

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Farris

 

Total: 1

 

Audio Books:

Audrey Rose by Frank DeFelitta, narrated by Matt Godfrey

Haven by Tom Deady, narrated by Matt  Godfrey

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, narrated by Emma Thompson 

Go Down Together: The True,Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde narrated by Jeff Guinn

The Girls by Emma Cline, narrated by Cady McClain

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, narrated by Amy McFadden and Michael David Axtell

 

Total: 6

 

ARCS:

Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton

Dark Screams Volume Eight

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories Volume Two, edited by James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle

The Wilderness Within by John Claude Smith

Money Back Guarantee by Hunter Shea

Mystery Road by Kevin Lucia

Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix

 

Total: 7

 

Random Books:

Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

 

Total: 2

 

 

 

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

August: 1-The Talented Mr. Ripley

September: 0

Running Count: 6

 

 

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

August count: 5

September: 1

 

Running Count: 34! Challenge Met!

 

 

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review 2017-09-30 14:05
The Real Thing (Sugar Lake Book 1) - Melissa Foster


Melissa Foster has created a hit with her latest book ‘The Real Thing’. This is the first book in the new ‘Sugar Lake ‘series. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this sweet contemporary second chance romance. I love these type of stories, so I was eager to dive into this book, and I am glad I did. It was everything I expected and more.

What the story is about.
In ‘The Real Thing’ introduces us to Willow Dalton, the owner of Sweetie Pie Bakery, and Hollywood actor Zane Walker. Zane and Willows’ relationship has been a complicated one, which went as far back as their high school years. For Willow, Zane was the one man she never got over and it did not help to know he was the one she gave her V card.

Zane has returned to Sweetwater to film his latest movie, a romantic suspense, which is very different from the gritty action movies he usually stars. To prove that he could be a romantic hero he had to clean up his playboy image, and this involved being in a steady relationship. To accomplish this task, he approached the one woman he believed he could trust with such a task. He convinced Willow to act his fiancée for the time he would be in Sweetwater filming. Will they be able to maintain the pretence, or will their fake relationship become the real thing?

Willow is one of those characters you will love but at times find her actions frustrating. I did not agree with her behaviour towards Zane over the years when she was the one who had made the rules regarding their relationship the night when she gave up her virginity. She made the rules so why be upset when he did what she wanted? In spite of I enjoyed the role she played in the story. She displayed a level of strength and bravery, but when it came to Zane, she struggled with insecurities. Doubts and insecurities clouded her judgement, and she believed every emotion displayed by Zane was an act.
I could totally see myself with a guy like Zane minus the paparazzi of course. A hunky and famous movie star who cared about others. The way he treated Willow and her family was a testament to his caring nature. Zane thought his current file would provide with his biggest role to date. However, he would come to realise that his biggest role would be convincing Willow that what he felt for her was the real thing. Along the way, he would discover his purpose.
It was good to see them work at resolving the issues from their past and coming to terms with the mistakes they made. Dealing with those issues makes it easy for them to handle their romance on a mature level.
I loved the secondary characters. They helped to make things interesting. The information provided whetted my appetite and I am eager to see what Ms. Foster has in store for them.
I enjoyed the romance, which was hot and sweet. I liked that this was not an instant connection. Their feelings for each other have been building over the years and it only grew stronger as time went by. There were a lot of swoon worthy moments. Family and friendships featured strongly in this book, which came as no surprise. If you are familiar with author’s contemporary romance, you will understand what I mean.

Conclusion/Recommendation
Overall, I enjoyed this installment. I am looking forward to the next book, which centres on one of Willow’s sisters. I would recommend this to fans of sweet romances and second chances.




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text 2017-09-28 01:50
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Short Book Rambles at Mid-game
Garden of Lies - Amanda Quick
Every Secret Thing - Susanna Kearsley,Emma Cole,Katherine Kellgren
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

 


 


It's closing in on the end of September and our Bingo game is at it's midmark!

For the sake of my own sanity, I've come to a compromise with myself.  I would like to write a review for every book I read for bingo... but we know that sometimes that just doesn't happen.  So I've settled for a short compilation of all the books I didn't get around to formatting a review for.

Instead, you get some random ramblings... which, if we know me by now, always end up becoming short reviews anyway.  But I had this vision of wanting to throw a few books together in one post, make it Halloween Bingo specific, had it all formatted and ready to fill in my opinions for each book I come across that I don't know how to review... and I'm not changing my mind.

Here it is!

 

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
audio book narrated by Louisa Jane Underwood
Rating:  3.5 Stars


I love Amanda Quick books, if only because they follow a specific formula, so you always know what you're going to get out of them.  Garden of Lies is the usual Amanda Quick historical mystery and romance, with great characters and fast-paced progression.  And I never have any idea how to review these books, because they are simply just as enjoyable as the last Amanda Quick book I read: witty, fun, entertaining... standard.

It's always a good bet I will enjoy them; though also a greater bet that the story line is the same as others by this author.  Garden of Lies was no different:  Feisty, non-standard, too-modern-for-her-own-good heroine; broody, intensely passionate alpha with some tragic history.  They meet for reasons, they fall in lust at first sight, they fight the lust whilst working together to uncover a mystery, sex happens, feelings happen, cue some kind of last minute danger scene... Happily Ever After™.

Though the overall details of the mystery weren't the usual, the main culprits were fairly predictable, as were a lot of events.  There might have been entirely too much going on in this book... but that's about it.

 Louisa Jane Underwood is a lovely narrator and gave the "reading" experience a nice boost!

I read this book for Halloween Bingo 2017, for the 'Darkest London' square, since the story is set in Victorian London.

This book could also count for:

  • Murder most foul
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

audio book narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Rating:  4.0 Stars


This is one of the books that, after beginning, I started having doubts whether or not it would fit the Halloween Bingo square I chose it for.  While there are several deaths, as well as the MC wandering around trying to investigate the chaos that suddenly befalls her life, Every Secret Thing ended up reading more like an espionage thriller than a murder mystery.  I could classify it as suspense, I suppose, and the entire ordeal DOES start with the mention of an old murder, one still deserving justice.

Every Secret Thing wasn't what I'd been expecting when I started listening to the audio, if only because maybe I'd been expecting something a bit darker, or grittier.  Instead, this book gave me an almost old-timey type of story, as we follow Kate Murray's investigations, while simultaneously following some snippets of the now deceased Andrew Deacon's espionage lifestyle.  It was... charming... the entire experience.  At first it felt a bit dragged out, but once you get into the rhythm of it, the flashbacks to Andrew Deacon's story lines aren't so strange, and in fact, kind of intriguing.

I can't say that I one hundred percent enjoyed this book, and the truth is, while I loved Katherine Kellgren's narration, I'm almost wondering if this story wouldn't have been better experienced as a print book.

One thing is for certain though:  Every Secret Thing is beautifully atmospheric, and I loved the descriptions of many of Kate's scenic travels, even as we were constantly moving forward at a rather fast paced stride.  There's an obligatory bittersweet ending when you come to the end of Andrew Deacon's tale, and even though we kind of already know how his life ended up playing out, it still plucks at the heart.

So the truth is, this was more a book about learning Andrew Deacon's story rather than following Kate Murray's investigations.

I may or may not swap this book out for another better suited book for the 'Murder Most Foul' square.  For now, this is just a tentative completion.  I'm seriously contemplating moving this book to either of the following squares:

 


This book could also count for:  Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  2.5 Stars


This is my first foray into Victoria Holt, and keeping in mind a few cautions from fellow readers, I read this book with a bit of trepidation.  Certainly, the story and the characters--especially our main heroine--is as I'd been warned.  But even as I became frustrated with the insta-love, the over-dramatics of our heroine, and the fact that none of the characters are very likable, On the Night of the Seventh Moon ended up being somehow addictively engrossing.  Even the frustratingly over-dramatic romance didn't put me off too badly.

For one reason or another, I just couldn't make myself put the book down.  It's got a nice mysterious twist to it that makes you want to keep reading to find out what's going on, even while the story was fairly predictable.  What happened to Helena?  Was it really just a dream, induced by drugs?  Was it real?  If it were real, then why all the theatrics by her cousins?  Why did Maximilian never come back for her?  And what of the baby?

It's hard to say what truly kept me hooked on this book--certainly it wasn't the characters, whom I disliked for many reasons, especially Frau Graben's blasé attitude towards the disgusting behavior exhibited by all the nobility.  She talks about how it's their given right, when either a count or a duke ravishes a girl and then tosses her aside; that the attempted murder or even the deaths were simply a matter of "state affair"; the deceptions of mock marriages, the lies, the betrayals--all simply part of their country's culture...

I get that it's probably part of the culture, which lends some authenticity to a more historical aspect of life... but I don't have to like it.

As I've already said, I didn't find any of the characters likable, except maybe the boy, Fritz.  Or Aunt Matilda--she was amusing, for sure.

It's also kind of irked me that the conclusion wrapped up too easily, in a very tidy, non-confrontational, and unrealistic way.  I like my HEA's, but we should at least follow through the world's logic.  All the concerns and the possible backlash and the possible war scenario that Maxi and Helena worried about if the two of them were to announce their relationship and marriage didn't even surface.  Everything just settled, all was forgiven, Happily Ever After™.

Really, the only amazingly wonderful thing going for this book was the beautiful writing, the imagery, the description, and a lot of the lore and history laid within the book's world.  For this alone, I will definitely give Victoria Holt another read when I get the chance.

(Ahem.  So much for a short ramble, but I'm not changing this, and I regret nothing...)

This book could also count for:

  • Gothic
  • Terrifying Women

 


 

Rating:  3.5 Stars


I felt like Halloween Bingo wouldn't be complete without reading something by Neil Gaiman--last year I read The Graveyard Book and Coraline, both of which were very enjoyable, and one of them ended up being one of my favorites of the year.  Initially, I didn't have a book of his chosen for any of my Bingo squares (Yes, yes, I did; I just forgot I did).  I had originally only chosen a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman for the 'Genre: Horror' square, which I've been putting off listening to the audio... well, because Horror.

And I was hesitant about starting The Ocean at the End of the Lane... well, because Horror.  But I'm glad I decided to give it a go--if only because you get to revel in Gaiman's wonderful, magical descriptions... and because I found a different book other than Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning for this particular bingo square, because I just wasn't feeling Amy Tan at the moment.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a little difficult for me to get into at first; and it is equally difficult for me to figure out how I feel about it.  Outside of that magical, whimsical feel you get from reading a particularly good child's fantasy/adventure, I really can't pinpoint exactly what to say about it.  I've got a sort of bittersweet, wistful void after completing the book, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I know what the book was really about.

Certainly, there were a lot of though provoking lines and dialogue.  In the end, it's one of those books  you found enjoyment in, and it stays with you for some time, even as you can't quite pinpoint why.

This book could also count towards:

  • Genre: Horror -- the book is tagged as 'horror' on GR, and certainly, there were a lot of horror elements involved
  • Modern Masters of Horror -- published in 2013
  • Supernatural -- which goes hand in hand with Magical Realism
  • Chilling Children (?) -- I don't think I saw this tagged as YA or MG, but the main time frame of the book takes place when the protagonist is only seven years old
  • Monsters

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/halloween-bingo-2017-short-book-rambles.html
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