Quickie Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: May 2016
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 308 pages

As the conclusion of the Black Blade trilogy, this book did its job, wrapping up various threads in a neat and tidy way. For me, it was almost TOO tidy.  Warning: there be (minor) spoilers ahead.

Overall, I think the first person, past POV works to the series' advantage, but in this book? I think it really hurt being able to connect deeply with the action. Lila is pretty inured to violence and death, but there's A LOT of death in this book. A lot of gruesome stuff. And she just doesn't spend a lot of time or emotion on it. It might be consistent with her character, but I think it hurts the overall impact of the story to have her not really be affected by some of the things that happen, and because we experience the story through her, we don't really get a lot of time with the other characters' reactions, either.

I really enjoyed the monsters in this book...probably more than in the other books. They had a more central role, and made it feel much more like an Urban Fantasy novel this time around. There's plenty of action and drama to make up for the lack of romance, though, and this is probably the most action-packed of the three books.

My only disappointments were that this does not stand alone (at all!) and that it skirts any really deep emotion. I wanted a bit more angst, which this book just didn't deliver.

My Grade: B-
The Blurb:

As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.
Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families—and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…


Hump Day Classic Movie: Dead Ringer (1964)

Dead Ringer is a creepy movie.
It's not the first time Bette Davis played a twin, but this performance is extra eerie. The plot is pretty straight forward: estranged twin sisters meet again at the funeral of the person who caused their estrangement: one sister's husband, whom she stole from the other.

After finding out that her sister had lied about being pregnant to steal her love away, the other sister plans an elaborate revenge: she kills her sister (faking suicide) and assumes her glamorous life.

With today's modern gore standards, this is fairly tame. It's the intimate undressing of her dead sister's body that really bothered me. She strips the stockings from her dead sister's legs, and switches clothes.

She soon finds out that pretending to be her sister is harder than it appears, and the deception begins to unravel...only to have a surprise twist at the end.

The first half of the movie is masterful...the second half isn't all that great. Still worth watching, though!


RT Booklovers Convention 2016 Recap

I'll start out by prefacing this with the fact that I'm not a Vegas kinda girl. It does absolutely nothing for me. So when I first heard that the convention was going to be in Vegas, I was going to skip it. I knew everyone would want to go there and that it would be crowded. I should have gone with my gut.

That's not to say that there weren't some high points, like seeing my online friends in person, but overall, this was by far the worst RT I've been to (out of the 5 total I have attended.)

The Good:

There were some good panels: the ones about diversity and feminism were especially well done.
The Book Fair was well organized and the smoothest I've experienced. Check in for the convention was open early, well staffed, and easy to find. Security was present and for the most part did pay attention to who had badges and who didn't. There were several good restaurants on site that were able to handle the huge crush of people and the food was decently priced. Not great, but not as bad as other RTs.

@younglibrarian, @SuperWendy, and me
Christine Feehan

The Bad:
The hotel sucked. The walk to the convention space was horrific. There were not enough staff at check in or at the Starbucks. There was a fridge but no microwave or coffee maker in the rooms. The smoke was a problem. And when I say a problem, I'm speaking as someone accustomed to Reno where there are older casinos and older filtration systems. The Rio's was substandard. And the bar... The bar was a huge disappointment. The highlight of every RT is hanging out in the bar with a gradually changing group of authors, readers, and bloggers, but the location of the Rio's bar in smoke central (and the laughably inadequate bar in the convention area) meant many of us missed out on that unofficial social part of RT. And, of course, there was the fact that by Saturday, our sink was backing up with water any time the toilet flushed.

TBR Challenge Review: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: December 2015
Publisher: Forever/Hachette
Length: 323 pages

Jill Shalvis is one of the few remaining auto-buy authors I have. But since I'm still digging my way out of the reading slump from hell, I am just now getting around to reading this one. I bought it, then set it in my TBR to get to eventually. I brought this with me to the RT Booklover's Convention, intending to finish it and get my post up ASAP when I got back before our April 20th deadline. Ha. Ha. I knew better. So anyway, my tardy post follows.

This month's theme was contemporary romance, and Jill Shalvis is one of the best at the small town variety. She and Victoria Dahl are pretty much the ONLY authors who can pull off the small town romances and not have me nitpick them. And I suspect it's because both authors live in relatively small ski/tourist towns, so they don't ignore the irritating fishbowl-ness that is small town life.


Review: The Knave of Hearts by Elizabeth Boyle

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pub Date: February 2016
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Length: 372 pages
POV: 3rd, past.
FTC: Purchased myself

This is probably the least original set up I've read in a long time, but I still ended up enjoying this book enough to read it in one day. Twin sister is ruined when a drunk rake releases her in the middle of a dance, causing her to knock over several dancers and effectively ruin her chances. Rake responsible then bets a horrible jerk that he can restore her reputation and make her a "Diamond."  I must have read something similar a dozen times at least. Despite that, I found the book engaging and fun.

Boyle's style has always been light, but her newer books seem to have veered even further into that category. I'm not sure if Avon as a whole has been steering the ship in that direction, or if it's just my favorite authors. I wanted just a teensy bit more angst in this. Some true pain. Even so, it's not a bad book by any means.

My main issue is that I felt like I was missing some crucial subtext that (maybe?) were in other books in the series.  Also, I felt like Tuck's sacrifice for his family was completely glossed over in a throw away sentence or two. It was a vital part of his ruined reputation, his break with Wakefield, but Lavinia and the reader are told only the scant basics at the very end of the novel.

Overall a fun—but not really deep—story. Sometimes that's all you need.

My Grade: B

The Blurb:
In the fifth novel of the captivating Rhymes With Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a young woman's hopes of a match encounter a wickedly handsome complication . . .
Lavinia Tempest has been eagerly anticipating a spectacular season. But one disastrous pile-up on the Almack's dance floor derails all her plans. Add to that, the very stunning revelations about her mother's scandalous past have become the ton's latest on dits. Lavinia's future has gone from shining bright to blackest night in one misstep.
Alaster "Tuck" Rowland admits he's partly to blame for Lavinia's disastrous debut. But it's not guilt that compels him to restore her reputation. Rather, he's placed a wager that he can make Lavinia into one of the most sought-after ladies in London. Who better than an unrepentant rake to set society astir?
Tuck's motives are hardly noble. But in teaching the lovely Lavinia how to win any man she wants, he suddenly finds himself tangled in the last place he ever imagined: in love.