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CaramelLunacy

CaramelLunacy

Joined October 2016

only the unimaginative can fail to find a reason to drink champagne
review
CaramelLunacy
The Book of Cold Cases | Simone St. James
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Pickpick

A Gothic horror/thriller with dual timelines. In the present Shea Collins is stuck in a dead end life due to past trauma, but spends her leisure hours writing and managing her true crime blog. And one day she meets a famous (acquitted) suspect in some brutal local murders. St. James excels at creepy paranormal that seems like it could be real. I made the mistake of reading at night during a storm...Good Book, Bad Decision

review
CaramelLunacy
The Killing Code | Ellie Marney
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Pickpick

Essentially a young Bletchley Circle set during the war and in America with a sweet sapphic love story. We have a team of 4, including a clever maid masquerading as her employer and a Black codebreaker destined to be a computer at NASA. Important war work and crimes connected in ways only the girls see.
Plenty of catnip for me!

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CaramelLunacy
Northranger | Rey Terciero
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A graphic novel queer retelling of Northanger Abbey set on a ranch in Texas. Cade Munoz is a horror movie fan with an overactive imagination and a huge crush on the son of his summer employer. So far, so cute.

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CaramelLunacy
Kilt Trip | Alexandra Kiley
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Addie is a travel consultant sent to Edinburgh to help make the Heart of the Highlands family-run tour company more profitable. Logan is a kilted tour guide, son of the owner and a gifted storyteller. The book is a love letter to Scotland and a look at grief and connection. While I was sometimes annoyed at Addie's insistence on deflection and prickliness, it still felt real. Loved these two together.

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CaramelLunacy
Today Tonight Tomorrow | Rachel Lynn Solomon
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"But what I'll never understand is why people are so quick to trash this one thing that‘s always been for women first."

I love the heroine's love of romances.

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CaramelLunacy
Today Tonight Tomorrow | Rachel Lynn Solomon
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"The truth of it was that I'd probably never have the kind of luck with love the women who live in fictional seaside towns do."

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CaramelLunacy
Must Love Books | Shauna Robinson
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"Contrite astronomers with strong erections and a poor understanding of female anatomy might well be what the literary market was missing."

Somehow...I think not...

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CaramelLunacy
Must Love Books | Shauna Robinson
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"It told the story of an astronomer who had failed to notice the signs of a world-ending asteroid and roamed the empty streets of New York in search of forgiveness and family. And, apparently, excessive confirmation of his sexual prowess."

I feel like I have read that book...

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CaramelLunacy
Wombat, the Reluctant Hero | Christian Trimmer
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Pickpick

Wombat likes everything just so - something her neighbors aren't as great at. But Wombat minds her own business. But when difficulties arise in the neighborhood, Wombat puts on her digging overalls and her gardening hat and does her best to help everyone out.
As if anyone needed another reason to love wombats, this is inspired by stories of wombats sharing their burrows (however reluctantly) with other critters during bushfires.

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CaramelLunacy
In the Hall with the Knife: A Clue Mystery #1 | Diana Peterfreund, Hasbro, Inc.
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In a mansion, then reform school, now dorm at a prestigious boarding school in Maine, 11 students and staff find themselves trapped during a winter storm surge. Overnight, Headmaster Boddy turns up stabbed and the murderer must be present.
Inspired by the board game, our characters all have secrets that keep the reader guessing at the murderer's identity. I kept wavering as to who I thought it was. Enjoyable if light, looking forward to Book 2.

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CaramelLunacy
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A "fix it" fic for Wuthering Heights. Instead of marrying Linton, Catherine Earnshaw is taken under the wing of a Great Aunt (Maria Branwell, nod to the Brontes' mother) and has a Season in town. Heathcliff is there under a new name, stirring revenge, but yearning for Catherine's love.
We get to bypass the murderous abusive rage and see these two find happiness. I enjoyed this, the nods to pen names and the move away from overwrought passion.

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CaramelLunacy
Stalking Jack the Ripper | Kerri Maniscalco
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Mehso-so

Not actually bad (not like Ripper), but this historical YA about a girl obsessed with forensic science falling in love in the mortuary and investigating the Jack the Ripper murders wasn't for me. It's gory (with pictures), certain of the artistic choices taking liberties with the time period annoyed me rather than serving the story. I was not charmed by the know-it-all love interest. Plus, I predicted the culprit and motivation early on.

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CaramelLunacy
Still Point | Tammy Greenwood
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Not my usual genre.
Three talented ballet dancers at a conservatory. Three competitive dance moms. A feckless French star turned ballet dancer looking to film his redemption and search for a scholarship student to Paris. Backstabbing, jealousy, burnout, grief, ambition, arson.
I enjoyed this - it would make a great drama of a miniseries.

8 likes1 stack add
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CaramelLunacy
Scorched | Laura Griffin
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Forensic anthropologist Kelsey stumbles across something big during one of her digs in the Philippines - something that leads to her former fiancé being murdered and her being next. Not able to trust law enforcement, she teams up (reluctantly) with her Navy SEAL ex Gage to investigate and take down a terrorist plot.
I liked the suspense in this one and the second chance aspect of the romance, but the fix for their big issue didn't work for me.

CaramelLunacy The relationship was a lot of "just physical because that's all we can have" which isn't a trope that works for me. Also, I liked her competence and was really hoping to see more of Kelsey's work rather than Gage's SEAL training. The secondary romance with Gage's SEAL buddy Derek and FBI newbie Elizabeth was fun - would 100% read their book. 4mo
7 likes1 comment
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CaramelLunacy
The Dos and Donuts of Love | Adiba Jaigirdar
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Pickpick

A cute YA romance featuring a teen baker from a Bangladeshi family with a talent for donuts and puns. We have a rival ex-girlfriend, a new crush, a saboteur and competitive baking - plus set in Ireland. Shireen rises above nasty social media bigotry and leans into her skills and flavors. Made me want to binge Nadiya's season of GBBO with a box of treats.

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CaramelLunacy
Keeping The Castle | Patrice Kindl
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A bit of I Capture The Castle plus some Austen heroines. Our beautiful heroine is determined to marry rich to help save her family's crumbling estate, but her overly forthright tongue keeps frightening away prospects. When a handsome baron and his financially savvy cousin come to town, things are looking up - even if one of them is terribly annoying with his bluntness...

15 likes1 stack add
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CaramelLunacy
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I may not be hopelessly devoted to this Regency era Grease! Retelling, but it's great for those Summer Nights... Tell you more? Tell you more?
It was lust at first sight when notorious rake Dane, heir presumptive to the Duke of Rydell sees prim and proper Sandrine floating in a secluded bay "drowning". I laughed so hard at his "rescue". And though Sandrine may be lousy with virginity, she has a wicked list she sets out to fulfill. Scandal!

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CaramelLunacy
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Queen Elizabeth II's first investigation with an assistant private secretary - in this case a dependable, clever woman named Joan McGraw who had an "interesting war". When the Queen fears there may be a plot to sabotage her State Visits and murders in an acquaintance's house that may link to the Royal Family (however obliquely), she brings in Joan to help make discreet inquiries. An interesting denouement and I am half in love with Hector Ross.

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CaramelLunacy
That Weekend | Kara Thomas
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Mehso-so

A girl wakes up on a hillside, disoriented, covered in blood and with no memory of what happened to her or her best friends.
Great premise, right? This one is very twisty as Claire tries to work out what happened, and I loved a lot of the guesswork, but about 3/4 through it lost momentum in an ugly muddle and the final twist was a big NOPE from me.
She really had me gripped at the beginning, though, I'd try another of hers in a heartbeat.

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CaramelLunacy
Milkweed | Jerry Spinelli
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Panpan

Listen, if you liked The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, you will probably like this one. It suffered from a similar problem - I just couldn't believe the ignorance, naivete and utter incomprehension of the situation and surroundings. Our main character, a street kid who grows up thieving, can't recognize cruelty? For me, this really didn't work at all and I didn't get a sense of what life in Warsaw and the ghetto was like.
Recs tagged below:

CaramelLunacy A story about two boys growing up together during the 1930s, one Jewish, one not. Rumored to be semi-autobiographical. 6mo
CaramelLunacy A girl learns about the importance of traditions and concentration camps 6mo
15 likes3 comments
review
CaramelLunacy
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Madeline Hathaway has grown up on the Ren Faire circuit, but the past year she lost her mother to illness and is grieving. The last stop for the summer was her mother's favorite but everything has changed.
Annoying bard Arthur brings her out of her shell and on little adventures, and it is mostly cute, fun and positive (both body and emotionally). Conflict ended up being a bit irksome as it was so wildly evident to everyone but those involved...

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CaramelLunacy
A Trace of Poison | Colleen Cambridge
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The second Phyllida Bright mystery, this one is a little less Downton mystery. It involves a bunch of bloodthirsty amateur detective writers, the famous Detection Club and the most lethal of English traditions - a village fete. It is once again up to Agatha Christie's housekeeper to puzzle out the culprit, motive and methods. I am still Team Dr Bhatt and his handsome inky black moustaches.

15 likes1 stack add
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CaramelLunacy
Everyone Wants to Know | Kelly Loy Gilbert
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Mehso-so

Honor is a people-pleaser and peacemaker for her dysfunctional family - all normal boundaries a mess from the reality show they starred on. Honor can't stand being alone, but is too mistrustful of others to connect outside of her family, so she clings to her family - until they fall apart.
I'm not sure the story actually unpacked the toxicity of her family, though Honor herself does improve. Hated all the jabs at Baylor, though.

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CaramelLunacy
The Duke Undone | Joanna Lowell
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I soft pick - this was an expectations problem. I was lured by the premise of a female artist stumbling across a naked man and using him as a model, only to find out he is a Duke. I expected hijinks and trading for modeling sessions and fun.
This went a lot deeper into PTSD, alcoholism, corruption, mental institutions - especially the last third went to some dark places and I'm not sure the pay-off really got out of them. More painting please!

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CaramelLunacy
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Tentative pick - I don't usually love true crime, but this looks at Lollie and Julie as people and as a couple, not just as murder victims. The author's recurring theme is how women and marginalized groups feel unsafe in the outdoors and she attempts to counteract that but also highlight very real concerns. It is a tricky balance.
I was more interested in the evidence and investigations (and their mismanagement) and found her approach not lurid.

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CaramelLunacy
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I enjoyed this second in the Ghost Lands series, though I preferred the non-linear episodic format of the first. Bobby Cross lays and elaborate trap and Rose must rely on a woman who hates her Prof Moorhead to beg a favor of Persephone.
Rose is particularly whiny in human form, but I really enjoyed the reimagining of the Underworld.

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CaramelLunacy
The Ivy Tree | Mary Stewart
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A case of mistaken identity by Hadrian's Wall has a young woman pretending to be Annabel Winslow at the behest of Annabel's gorgeous but menacing cousin Con who is seeking to secure his own inheritance of the farm. There are three potential heirs (including Annabel), old love affairs to negotiate and several attempted murders. Twisty and Gothic and clever with surreptitious sandwiches being sneaked to the cat hiding under the armchair.

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CaramelLunacy
The Ivy Tree | Mary Stewart
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The book opens along Hadrian's Wall looking down at a majestic sycamore. I could picture exactly where our heroine was which was lovely, but it made me sad for that gorgeous tree, too.

TrishB It‘s still awful! 6mo
18 likes1 comment
review
CaramelLunacy
A Million to One | Adiba Jaigirdar
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Mehso-so

I wanted to love this: Team of diverse girls staging a HEIST of a jewel-encrusted book aboard the Titanic. What's not to love?
Unfortunately, the leader Josefa has an irritating backstory (running away to thieve because a life of material comfort is too confining) and we don't spend enough time with the other girls to really round out their motivations or relationships with one another as they rush aboard and the countdown to sinking begins. ⬇️

CaramelLunacy We don't spend enough time forming a clever plan that utilizes everyone's strengths, and we don't get enough sense of place to put the reader aboard Titanic. Not to mention Josefa's secret motivation makes even less sense than the rest of her impulsive ill-thought-through behaviour. I liked the other girls, though and wanted to spend more time with them. 7mo
BookmarkTavern I had the same problems with Josefa. I wanted more of all the other characters! 7mo
15 likes2 comments
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CaramelLunacy
Garlic and the Witch | Bree Paulsen
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Sweet. Garlic finds herself grappling with a big change - she may be turning human! - and on an adventure with her friend the Count.
The first resonated more for me. This one felt a little more on-the-nose about puberty.

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CaramelLunacy
Garlic and the Vampire | Bree Paulsen
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"I'm a BLOOD orange! I'm done for!"
Even vegetables are not immune to fears of vampires...

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CaramelLunacy
Garlic and the Vampire | Bree Paulsen
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Adorable story about facing your fears, being brave and resisting prejudices and catastrophizing. Garlic is a very relatable vegetable and has a sweet supportive friendship with Carrot. When the vegetables fear that a vampire has moved back to the castle, Garlic is chosen to vanquish it despite her misgiving.

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CaramelLunacy
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An interesting starter bio of a remarkable woman - though the level of detail/complexity seemed to vary. Also I had hoped for a bit more time spent on spy hunting. Definitely has me interested in further reading.

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CaramelLunacy
Fourth Wing | Rebecca Yarros
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Divergent + Shadow and Bone + Dragonriders of Pern, season with a smidge of Tortall.

I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the sequel.

Bookwormjillk I finished this today too. Makes me want to reread Divergent. 8mo
CaramelLunacy @Bookwormjillk Funnily enough, I reread Divergent (though just the first) earlier this year - maybe why the comparison leaped to mind. 8mo
20 likes2 comments
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CaramelLunacy
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Kind of Jasper Fforde-ian.
Lawyer Rob Sutherland's literary genius of a younger brother has the ability to "read out" or summon characters from the books he's reading. One such character, Uriah Heep, warns him that a rival summoner is afoot, determined to create a new world that threatens reality.
We have a heroine straight out of Famous Five, several Mr. Darcys, Heathcliff, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray and a number of Dickensian figures. Fun.

BookNAround This was such a fun book! 8mo
CaramelLunacy @BookNAround I really enjoyed it (though have clearly not read enough Dickens!). Loved spending time in Wellington - definitely not where I expected a Dickensian adventure! 8mo
19 likes2 comments
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CaramelLunacy
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I've been watching the Bosch TV series and thought to give the book that started it all a try. It's a bit old-skool with some jarring references, but the underlying plot was twisty and intriguing - and it didn't hurt to have Titus Welliver in my head.
A dead army buddy Bosch knows from his days as a tunnel rat in Vietnam ends up linked to a bank heist the FBI is investigating.

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CaramelLunacy
How to Survive Your Murder | Danielle Valentine
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Horror movie lover Alice Lawrence is sent back to last Halloween, the day her sister was killed in a corn maze. The Rules: 1) Find out What Really Happened before midnight and she can keep the changes and 2) Don't die.
Alice has to use all the Final Girl knowledge she has gleaned to survive as bodies drop all around her and secrets are uncovered.
Lots of plot twists, some meta commentary I enjoyed even though slasher horror isn't my usual genre.

14 likes1 stack add
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CaramelLunacy
Youve Been Served | Kristen Alicia
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Mehso-so

Former saucier at a Michelin star restaurant Simone Alexander pivots to law school and on her move in day meets handsome neighbor Silas Whitman. The book follows her stumbling through her first year at law school (especially Contracts) and trying to make sense of Silas.
I enjoyed their relationship for the most part, but was constantly baffled by how ill-prepared she not only began but remained for law school.

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CaramelLunacy
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Nina Hill has always been quite happy being alone and working at a bookstore, stomping other teams in the local trivia league. But she steps a bit out of her comfort zone when she is informed her father (who has never contacted her) has left her something in his will, she has quite a sizeable quirky family. She also begins sort of dating her trivia nemesis (with a lot of engineering from their teams). Pleasant enough but not deeply memorable.

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CaramelLunacy
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A Rare Books Librarian at the Library of Congress is called into service with the OSS and sent to Lisbon to gather foreign and underground newspapers to send back to the US for analysis. With her British counterpart, she decodes a message hidden by a French Resistance worker in Lyon defying the Gestapo and Milice.
I especially enjoyed the sections set in Lisbon as more unusual, but felt for both characters. Also such a good title.

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CaramelLunacy
The Other Merlin | Robyn Schneider
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When Merlin's feckless son is summoned to King Uther's court to train as an apprentice wizard, his far more competent sister Emry takes his place (temporarily!). Loved the masquerade, the inclusivity and Arthur as a bookish library boy.

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CaramelLunacy
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A creepy cult. Robin undercover again. Treachery within the agency. Kidnapping attempts. Suicide. This was an intense read but one I absolutely tore through to get to the resolution. Can't wait to see what's next for Strike and Robin (and maybe to reread this one at a less breakneck pace once I've had a breather...)

Momob121 I am the same way with certain books. I won‘t peek ahead to read the end; but I will read at break-neck speed to find out what happens!! I really do love these characters. 10mo
CaramelLunacy @Momob121 Me too! I hope you enjoy this round 10mo
19 likes1 stack add2 comments
review
CaramelLunacy
You Sexy Thing | Cat Rambo
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Pickpick

An unlikely crew of misfits turned chefs and restaurateurs to escape the army hive mind find themselves onboard a living bioship and beset by ruthless pirates. There is a ton of sharp, dry wit, distinct personalities and no shortage of lived in atmosphere. I really enjoyed spending time aboard the You Sexy Thing. (Password: I believe in miracles)

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CaramelLunacy
Twelfth Grade Night (Arden High, Book 1) | Molly Booth, Stephanie Strohm
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Vi is a new student at Arden High - where ghosts and witches and fairies roam. Tanya and Ron (the teen fairy royalty) have taken a shine to her, but world-weary Puck sighs: "She's not actually cool; she's just wearing a beanie."

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CaramelLunacy
Carolina Moon | Nora Roberts
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Tory Bodeen has psychic visions and an abusive father- when she was 8, she lost her best friend Hope Lavelle to a murderer. Now that she's grown she comes back to Progress to seek peace but discovers the murderer still at work. We also get romance with Hope's brother Cade, a secondary pairing and a tentative friendship with Hope's prickly twin. Less professional details in this, but strength and vulnerability. Not enough clues for the killer.

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CaramelLunacy
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Mehso-so

The premise is cute! Grad student trying to sort out her life and interests after a romantic and academic setback decides to head to a cooking class in Ravenna as a break. She meets handsome nerdy history professor.
The writing was cute, but story So-so for me as it's a bit too lightweight for an emotional payoff and because Ginny seems like a bundle of quirks instead a real person so her constant lying was irritating rather than understandable.

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CaramelLunacy
The Search | Nora Roberts
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Mehso-so

As ever, I love the competence - in this case Fiona trains search and rescue dogs. But Simon, the woodworker artist hero is overbearing and grouchy and just...a jerk which I did not find as attractive as Fiona. Add scenes in the head of a serial killer that were jarring and ugly and this one doesn't make the keeper shelf. Even if I do love that Fee names her dogs after classic movie stars (Peck, Bogart and Newman)

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CaramelLunacy
Murder on Black Swan Lane | Andrea Penrose
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A Regency set mystery juxtaposing a satirical cartoonist who relies on her (and street urchins') artistic observation of details and a chemistry-loving overly rational Earl. Their skills complement each other as they seek to ferret out the culprit of a series of murders connected to alchemy and art.
I enjoyed this and am looking forward to more forays into the ton and St Giles with this pair.

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CaramelLunacy
Love Lettering | Kate Clayborn
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The description of these characters is so cute - would love to see someone's interpretation of these

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CaramelLunacy
Sacred Sins | Nora Roberts
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Mehso-so

A backlist romantic suspense from Nora Roberts, I enjoyed Tess and her empathetic heart, but found Ben's disdain for her profession hard to deal with. There were other places where the book definitely showed its age...the constant smoking, for one.
But the description of the avant garde art show had me snort laughing my tea.