Tag: 3.75 Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted February 13, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly
Fantasy in Death by J. D. Robb
Series: In Death #30
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Strangers in Death, Suite 606, Salvation in Death, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, Glory in Death, The Lost, Rapture in Death, Immortal in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: February 23rd 2010
Genres: Fiction, Suspense
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Bart Minnock, founder of the computer-gaming giant U-Play, enters his private playroom, and eagerly can't wait to lose himself in an imaginary world—to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king—in his company’s latest top-secret project, Fantastical.
The next morning, he is found in the same locked room, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body. It is the most puzzling case Eve Dallas has ever faced, and it is not a game...

NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart Minnock was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky-but-brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a problem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks—as Eve's husband, Roarke, one of U-Play's competitors, knows well. But Minnock was not naive, and quite capable of fighting back in the real world as well as the virtual one.

Eve and her team are about to enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction-and the price of defeat is death...

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on February 22, 2010.

The last few In Death books have kind of been off for me. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy them, it’s just that I didn’t enjoy them as much as I expected to given the previous 5 billion books in the series. I went into this book with some trepidation because of that.

I really enjoyed Eve’s case. A young entrepreneur is found decapitated inside his locked holo room. Security indicates he was the only one inside the room, and in fact his whole apartment. Investigation shows the weapon to be a broadsword. Eve knows it takes two to murder..one to do the killing and one to die. Since he didn’t cut his own head off, there hasn’t be a missing factor.

Some cases are better developed than others, and some are just more interesting to me personally. I’m not sure if this falls into the former, but it definitely falls into the latter. I was truly interested in seeing Eve puzzle her way through the case. It wasn’t long before I figured out who the killer was – it generally doesn’t take me long – but that wasn’t the appeal of this case anyway. It wasn’t the who, but the why and, more intriguing, the how.

As for Eve and Roarke’s relationship, I wasn’t as impressed. After taking a minute to reflect on the overall relationship arc, I’ve decided that’s to be expected. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m happy about it, but I am going to work on being more forgiving. They had a couple arguments, but they seemed kind of contrived.

The focus in this book was more on the case than the personal relationships, but most of our favorites made appearances or were mentioned. There is quite a bit of humor in this book. Eve is still battling it out with the Candy Thief, which always cracks me up. But Roarke is what killed me in this scene:

She took a tool from her desk, then squatted in front of her recycler. After a few twists, she removed the facing and pulled an evidence bag from the back.

“Your guile and wit contest causes you to keep candy in the recycler, with the trash?”

“It’s sealed.” She broke the seal with a little pop and whoosh to prove it, then took out one of the three chocolate bars. She tossed it to him, then bagged the remaining two with a fresh seal before hiding them again. She glanced back to see him studying the candy.

“If you’re going to be so dainty give it back.”

“There was a time I rooted through alley garbage for food, without a thought. Things change.” He unwrapped the candy, took a bite. “But apparently not that much.”

Not only is this particular quote hilarious, but the scene it comes from shows some vulnerability in Roarke, and Eve’s way of taking care of him. Relationships and how they work is one of the underlying themes of the book. Eve puzzles over the various relationships in her life throughout.

Another example is Eve’s relationship with Peabody. Peabody and McNab have to go to a gaming conference and Peabody brings a gift back for Eve. It just illustrates how well they know each other (and offered the added bonus of amusing me):

“What is it?”

“It’s a toy gun. A derringer – like cardshaprs and saloon girls carry in western vids. It’s like a clutch piece.”

“Hmmm.”

“And check it.” Peabody cocked it, and a sultry female voice purred out of the barrel. Put those hands where I can see them, cowboy.

“It has all sorts of audio streams- male, female. I figured you’d want the female. Plus -”

She aimed it at Eve, pulled the trigger even as Eve said: “Hey!”

The little gun let out a brave little bang. Next one goes lower, and you won’t be poking a woman with that stick of yours for the rest of your miserable life.

“Isn’t it cute? You could play saloon girl and Roarke could be high-stakes gambler, then…and that’s entirely none of my nevermind.” Peabody offered a big smile.

“Yeah, it’s cute, no, it’s none of your nevermind.” Eve took the derringer, recocked it. You’d better hightail it before that tail’s sporting another hole.

“It could use better dialogue, but it’s apt enough. Hightail it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Peabody? Thanks.”

Eve studied the gun, shook her head. Unable to resist, she shot her computer, her AutoChef, amused by the lame insults that followed.

That was another thing about partners, she decided. They knew what would make you laugh, often before you did.

And just because I love Peabody’s crush on Roarke (this comes from later in the book):

“Roarke might be late. He’s working on something for me.”

“Wouldn’t mind if he worked on something for me.”

“Excuse me?”

“Hmm? Oh, just talking to myself,” Peabody sang. “You know how it is.”

Eve strolled over, clipped the back of Peabody’s head with the flat of her hand.

“Ow.”

“Oh, sorry, just an involuntary reflex. You know how it is.”

There is an inconsistency I found. Eve is telling Roarke about the first time she took a life as a police officer, as it segued into how she murdered her father. She’s talking about how she felt when she killed him (her father) and she says:

She let out a breath. “I’m the one who aimed and fired. Fifteen years between. It took me that long to be sure, absolutely sure, I wouldn’t feel that excitement, or that guilt, or that hardening when I had to take another life.”

But until Eve met Roarke, she didn’t remember having killed her father. So this didn’t ring true for me. There was also some inconsistency in the language. Some of the things sounded more modern-day and weren’t in keeping with the time period and the way Robb has written prior books. For example:

[…] She pushed in, slamming her fist in his face. Blood erupted from his nose.
“That’s how we do it in New York!”

Although a good line, this isn’t how Eve normally talks. It kind of pulled me out of the story, because I can’t imagine her saying it.

Still, I enjoyed the book. As Casee noted awhile back it seems like some books focus on the personal relationships and some focus on the cases. This book falls into the latter category.

3.75 out of 5

See a full list of the series here.

This book is available from Putnam. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Review: Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Posted January 23, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Love Lettering by Kate ClaybornReviewer: Rowena
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Love Lettering has been on my TBR list for a while now and I’ve been hearing such great things about it so I was really looking forward to reading it. I read the entire thing in one day and while I enjoyed the book as a whole, I thought the beginning really dragged and it took me until chapter 9 before I started warming up to Meg, to Reid, and to everything that was happening in the book.

Our heroine, Meg Mackworth is the Planner of Park Slope. She’s made a name for herself with her custom planner business. She’s a hand-lettering specialist who handwrites party invitations, personal planners and she used to handwrite wedding invitations but her during her last wedding invitations job, she did something she shouldn’t have and so she made sure it wouldn’t happen again by quitting the wedding invitation side of her business. From now on, she’s only doing custom hand-lettering for clients who want custom planners, she’s working on a portfolio of ideas for a stationary line that she’s hoping to get a big sponsorship contract for. She tries not to think about the hidden pattern she wrote into that last wedding invitation and it’s been a year so she thinks she’s moved on from it until the groom shows up, wanting to know why she wrote that hidden code into his invitation.

Meg and Reid spark up a friendship that begins with Meg needing to find inspiration for her stationery line. She invites Reid along with her on walks around New York City so that she can find inspiration for her line and so Reid can discover the beauty of New York for himself. Reid is not happy in New York and Meg wants to show him that if he gave New York a fair shot, he would come to love it just as much as she did. They got to know each other on these walks around New York. They played games while they searched for signs around the city and ultimately, they fell in love on these walks.

Like I said before, it took me quite a while to get into this story. I just wasn’t all that interested in the beginning and that’s weird for me because I LOVE planners. I love all things planning and hand-lettering but I really struggled with this book at the start. I’m really glad that I stuck with this book though because I really came to love Meg, to love Reid, and to love New York. I’m a West Coast girl through and through but while I was reading this book, I could totally see myself moving to New York and falling in love with the city and the signs. This was a slow burn romance and I guess I was too anxious for the romance to pick up but Kate Clayborn has a writing style that flows nicely. This story unrolls slowly and picks up steam with each passing chapter. When I finished the book, I had a big ol’ grin on my face and I loved the heck out of Reid and Meg. I loved seeing Meg come into her own and I really enjoyed seeing Reid and Meg come into their feelings for each other. This was a good romance and I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James

Posted January 14, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Gothic, Mystery
Pages: 339
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

After her ghost-hunting uncle Toby dies, Oxford student Jillian must drive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings. Almost immediately, terrifying events convince Jillian that an angry spirit is trying to enter the house. Is it Walking John, the two-hundred-year-old ghost that haunts the bay? And who besides the ghost is roaming the local woods at night? If Toby uncovered something sinister, was his death really an accident? The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken leaves Jillian with more questions than answers and the added complication of a powerful mutual attraction.

I’m slowly making my way through Simone St. James’ backlist. An Inquiry Into Love and Death follows Jillian as she travels to a small seaside town to deal with her uncle Toby’s belongings after he dies unexpectedly.

Uncle Toby and her parents had a falling out, and they’re out of the country, so Oxford student Jillian is the only one left to deal with his belongings. She travels to Rothewell, where Toby fell from a cliff. They were close when she was a child, but they hadn’t seen each other in years. When Jillian arrives, she learns the locals believe Toby’s fall was an accident, but Scotland Yard believes it may have been a murder. As she and Inspector Drew Merriken get close, it soon becomes obvious that something more is at play. Between the town ghost and the suspicious townsfolk, Jillian doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe.

I didn’t enjoy this story quite as much as the others I’ve read by St. James, but it was still a good read. The middle was rather slow, and I found myself getting impatient with how things were progressing, but the early parts of the book and the end were very well done.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Posted December 26, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Series: Naked Werewolf #3
Also in this series: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #1), How to Run with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf #3)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Down, Boy

Anna Moder has just witnessed a shooting, seen her car pulverized, and rescued a wounded stranger only to discover he's really a werewolf. And by her recent standards, things are actually looking up. Lycanthropes don't faze Anna. Doctoring a wolf pack outside Grundy, Alaska, is the closest thing to home life she's known in years. But hitching a ride to Anchorage with long-absent pack member Caleb Graham that's a risk. Part of her itches to whack his nose with a newspaper. The rest is trying unsuccessfully to keep her own paws off every delicious inch of him.

The problem is, Caleb employs his lupine tracking abilities as a not-quite-legal bounty hunter, and Anna is suspicious of both him and his profession. On the run from her past, with old problems closing in, she'd like to stay far, far away from anybody with connections to the law. Caleb, however, seems determined to keep her close. Are his intentions noble, or is he working a more predatory angle?

Anna's been dreaming of returning to a semi-normal life, but now she's experiencing a strange new urge . . . to join Caleb in running with the wolves.

How to Run with a Naked Werewolf is the third book in Molly Harper’s Naked Werewolf series.

I didn’t read the second book, because the premise didn’t appeal to me, but I enjoyed the first and thought I’d give this one a try. I’m glad it I did. Harper always delivers a fun, light read, and this was just what I was in the mood for.

Anna Moder has been the pack doctor for a group of werewolves in Grundy, Alaska. Until her past catches up with her and she has to run. Somehow she ends up traveling with a bounty hunter who doesn’t necessarily fall on the side of the law. As they make their way across the state, tracking skips and working toward Anna’s next identity, she can’t continue to deny her attraction.

This was a cute story. Not Harper’s best, but it was light and fun. A couple times Anna made decisions that had me scratching my head, and i’m not entirely sure why there was so much gratuitous violence against her View Spoiler », but I really liked Caleb and their on-the-road romance.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Naked Werewolf
four-stars


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Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Posted December 5, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game , The Wallflower Wager, The Duchess Deal
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Length: 7 hours and 23 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.


The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare‘s Girl Meets Duke series. I was on a break from historical romance for years, so I missed out on this series when it was first released. I was anxious to read this book after I finished book 1, The Duchess Deal, since I wanted to know more about Alex and The Bookshop Rake. My library had the audio available, so I downloaded it to listen on my commute. When that took too long, I switched to reading the digital copy I had in my TBR.

I really enjoyed Alex and her two charges, Rosamund and Daisy. The girls were hilarious and adorable. My heart broke for them and their insecurities. Both Alex and Chase did very well with them, despite their own issues.

I didn’t enjoy the romance as much as the previous. Chase’s reasons for holding back seemed rather contrived, as I never fully connected with him on that front. That is to say, I wasn’t emotionally invested in him and his plight, so the whole thing came off as rather stupid, rather than heartbreaking. Still, I liked his friendship with Alex and how well he treated his wards. I also loved his relationship with Mr. Barrow.

The rest of the story kept me invested, however. Alex and her three friends, Chase and Alex’s friendship, the girls and even the Duke of Ashbury who comes to protect Alex’s honor…all of it was very well done.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

three-half-stars


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