Tag Archives: mystery/suspense

Two for Tuesday ~ Karen Rose

woman books crazy rage

I’ve now read 75 books this year and am burnt out, yet there are still a ton of ’em left in the queue. Gah! Luckily, they don’t spoil like a wedge of cheddar cheese, but still. It’s overwhelming. Last month I read my first Karen Rose romantic suspense novel and I liked it so much I bought four more from a reseller on eBay. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the next three as much and I can’t even bear to start the fourth because they’re so boring and similar now. I understand that readers want consistency, so authors write a related set of novels, keeping to a certain style. But there is such a thing as taking that too far! These reviews will contain some spoilers, so reader beware.

1. You Can’t Hide (2006) by Karen Rose. So here we have two unbelievably gorgeous people, Aidan the cop and Tess the shrink, who are of course alone because of “issues.” They meet on a case, on a Sunday in Chicago, and Aidan burns with hatred toward Tess because she had testified that some guy was nuts when Aidan wanted him to fry, but within two days the hate disappears and is replaced with burning lust and random moments of kindness. I don’t expect fiction to mirror real life, but as I continued to read Karen’s books, I became annoyed at this warp lovespeed pattern she set up in all of them.

Apparently, Tess’s beautiful eyes are so expressive that Aidan now sees compassion in them toward victims when just a couple days earlier he thought she was an ice queen. But not only that, by Tuesday night he’s feeling protective and gallant, bringing her to his house to stay overnight when another one of her patients is murdered and it’s clear she’s being targeted. Obviously, Tess can’t go to a hotel because she has to bring her cat with her. Obviously. But since this was the first book of Karen’s I read, I just shrugged off the ridiculous romance and continued to enjoy the thriller aspect, even if the precisely planned setups were way too complex to be believable. I liked the ending and was feeling good about the book when I finished, so I gave it four stars.

Woman lying lies secret hide

2. Don’t Tell (2003) by Karen Rose. This story also takes place in Chicago ~ after “Caroline” escapes her abusive cop husband in the South and creates a new life for herself and her son. I hoped to enjoy this book, but it’s like every other story of this type. The husband is a horrible person, with zero redeeming features (naturally he is also a racist and almost all his coworkers hate him), and the reader wonders what the heroine ever saw in him. It’s hard for me to root for stupid protagonists.

As with every story of this type, the heroine gains confidence and friends, still keeping her guard up, but then falls madly in love with a new man, and vice versa. They each have their secrets they’re afraid to tell the other, and all the while her creepy husband is figuring out where she is so he can bring her back for more abuse. You know he’ll find her, you know this time she’ll prevail, and you know she and the new guy will work out all their issues via one or two conversations. Predictable?! Every word. Again we have the warp lovespeed thing happening, which in this case absolutely boggles the mind from both directions. Not to mention the fact that the new guy is Caroline’s boss, which has been a no-no for a long time, certainly in the early 2000’s. Two stars.

Oh, I forgot to mention that in every Karen Rose novel so far, there is someone pushing one or both of the protags into a relationship with the other. They push really hard, in a way that no normal person would ever tolerate from a friend or sibling. Dana, the director of the women’s shelter, gets ANGRY at poor Caroline for not flinging herself headlong at her boss. I would tell someone to go pound sand if they treated me like that, but I guess Caroline is used to aggressive, nasty behavior from those she loves. The last Karen Rose book I have is Dana’s story, and since I already dislike her, I doubt I will be reading it.

I will review the two others on a future Two for Tuesday.

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

TGIF ~ Knowing Me, Knowing You

TGIF

Happy Friday! Happy December! These last few months have gone by crazy fast for me. How about you? I have social events galore coming up through the end of the year, but I’ve made peace with all the peopling and am even looking forward to the get-togethers and whatnot. Food, games, sparkly things… all good. I’ve also made peace with the fact that I’m just not that interested in working on my other writing ~ that book of long short stories ~ and am happy simply writing for this blog. Maybe I’ll get re-inspired in the new year to finish it up, if only to feel satisfied that it’s complete. That might happen… or not. We shall see. As far as the other other unfinished writing I have hanging around in various folders… meh. I have almost quit caring about it. Almost.

So I’ve been reading a bunch of Karen Rose romantic suspense novels lately and at least two take place in Chicago, in the winter, which reminds me of old, cold times. I can’t believe I lived in such a savage climate and survived to tell the tale. It was incredibly brutal to the point where it actually hurt to breathe the outside air, especially where I lived right off Lake Michigan. The wind chill factor often brought the temps down to 20 below zero in January. During my last winter there, I saw a lot of movies alone at Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue, browsing the stores before and after. On one memorable occasion, I saw my first music video in the window of a TV store. It was ABBA’s “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” and I was absolutely entranced. Sometime later on my own TV, I saw a couple Lene Lovich vids, but MTV itself wasn’t available in Chicago until after I moved away. Once I settled in California, that’s all I watched for months on end.

Anyway. I’ll review the Karen Rose books in more detail for my next Two for Tuesday post. Right now, you can enjoy the ABBA vid (not you, Professor) and think of your own TGIF post to complement mine.

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Inspired by Jim’s Thursday Inspiration post.

Who Has Time to Read?

Powell’s books selfie Portland

Fandango continues his Provocative Question series by noting the ways we spend our free time ~ blogging, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Netflix binges, etc. Some people even go to the gym! I’ve heard of folks who still go on dates, though that may be just a rumor…

With all of the distractions mentioned above, do you read books as much nowadays as you used to ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Why or why not?

As a teen and a 20-something, I probably read around a book a week, usually a romance or mystery. Thirty years ago, I had a toddler and a baby on the way, so I barely remember anything from then. I’m sure I read a romance novel occasionally, but mostly I zoned out in front of the TV when I had a minute to spare. It’s hard for me to recall movies and shows I watched in the 1990s though, since I often dozed off after five minutes. And twenty years ago, I’d just gone back to work full time, so I don’t think I read a whole lot.

But somewhere between 20 years ago and now, I began reading more. It’s probably largely due to the convenience of having countless books available on Kindle. I’ve read a zillion new romances and mysteries, and I occasionally branch out into other genres too. Last year I read 116 books! Not all were novels ~ some were novellas and others were short poetry books. But there were a lot of full length books in the mix. This year so far I’ve read 71, with the same distribution. I’m almost done with a novel and I imagine I’ll read a few more before December 31. I’ve recently discovered the used booksellers on eBay, where you can get some great deals.

There are a lot of shows and movies that sound good to me, but the reality is quite different when I begin watching. Most bore me to bits immediately and I reach for my phone to read something instead. The last show I enjoyed was the first half of the final season of Manifest. I totally gobbled up the 10 episodes in one weekend. I don’t know why that particular show grabbed me, but it’s one of the very few that has.

I spend a lot of time in Blogland, but barely any on the (anti)social media sites. More and more they’re a huge turnoff with their nasty politics and stupid memes. In fact, I’ve dumped them all except Facebook. When I’m doing “real writing” (novels as opposed to blogging) I read much less, but I’ve been neglecting that. It’s simply too unrewarding.

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Horror Movie Challenge 26-30

scary pumpkins

Boo! I’m participating in Sandman’s Horror Movie Challenge, five films at a time, every six days. Using my extraordinary math skills, I believe this will end on Halloween with 30 movies altogether. I haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, as it’s a genre I avoid, so I will do my best here.

26. Horror movie that best describes my ex. I’ll have to go with Psycho (1960), but I’m not commenting on which ex it describes (could be more than one!).

27. Best non-Halloween holiday horror movie. I enjoyed The Others starring Nicole Kidman.

28. Best Stephen King horror movie. I already mentioned that The Shining and Carrie were enjoyable adaptations of King novels. I saw Thinner a while ago, which was funny but not scary (the book was good but not funny). The Dead Zone and Firestarter were nowhere near as good as the books. So I will go with Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, which I recently watched and liked a lot, though it’s not horror really, more a bit spooky and supernatural.

29. Best horror movie based on true events. The 2017 US presidential inauguration.

30. Best horror movie death. The Skeleton Key, 2005. Love this movie and love Kate Hudson! I saved it for last, yay!

Happy Halloween!

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Genre Bingo 8 ~ All Done!

Key on stones

Hello. I’ve been reviewing a bingo card full of different genres to expand my reading range. You can find my other reviews here: Genre Bingo 1Genre Bingo 2Genre Bingo 3Genre Bingo 4Genre Bingo 5, Genre Bingo 6, and Genre Bingo 7. Thanks for following along. Here are the latest books I’ve finished to complete my bingo card.

1. The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne (2019). I found this book enjoyable and annoying at the same time, so I gave it 3 stars (liked it, but didn’t love it). This fits the tragedy genre on my card and indeed the two main characters are submerged in grief over the tragic and sudden death of a loved one. They were both interesting, quirky protags, so that part was great, but after a while I was like oh come on does every possible trigger have to completely derail you both into drama and sobbing? That all became a bit tedious. The mystery part was fun and the denouement took me by surprise (though thinking back, it shouldn’t have, but maybe I was distracted thinking about my baking project), and I was also surprised that what I assumed would be a predictable romance turned out not to be at all.

This story also contained supernatural elements, but they weren’t very well thought out. It seemed like the mysterious woman Lucy had the “power,” yet the protags also saw visions/ghosts/whatever. So which is it? Lucy has the special gift or they all do? There are magical crossword puzzles and calendars, which seem to have been tossed into the tale at random just for fun. OK, but if I’m gonna suspend my disbelief in the supernatural, please create a weird new world that makes sense!

2. Escape to Eden by Rachel McClellan (2015). Two stars for this book in the dystopian genre. It was well written, but I just couldn’t get into it. The premise is that humans created a paradise but were unhappy with the monotony so they began tinkering with their DNA to achieve “perfection.” They screwed up of course and now most “Prime” people die by the age of 30 and the elites (who get to live longer) keep a mutant army of creatures with special abilities and vulnerabilities to destroy any challenger and also to find “Originals” to exploit. The teenaged heroine, who is an Original with unaltered DNA, must fight the mutants on her mission to save her little brother. It’s just so ridic. The action/violence/gore is nonstop and the constant menace becomes numbing, though it’s probably par for the genre (which I will avoid in the future). I also have a problem with stories that show kids as being so bright and skilled that they can overcome an army of monsters not to mention outthink any adults. That was one of the problems I had with the TV show Stranger Things too.

Swirling dancing rainbow flames couple

3. The Passion According to Carmela by Marcos Aguinis (2011, translation 2018). This was a fascinating glimpse “behind the scenes” at the Cuban Revolution, from the point of view of a bored, wealthy girl who fell in love with the adventure of joining the rebel army, with little understanding of what kinds of dangers she would face. As time went on, she became convinced of the righteousness of their cause and joined other rebels in denouncing anyone who opposed them. Carmela dismissed rumors of cruelty by Castro and his soldiers as exaggerated, until there came the day she experienced them herself. I’m not sure though how much of the novel is fiction vs fact and would have to do some objective historical research to figure that out, which I am not interested in at the moment. The characters are fictional, of course, but the rest? I don’t know. Regardless, it was interesting to read. I do have a criticism and it’s that the story is told in multiple first-person points of view (Carmela, her brother, her lover), but also at times there’s an omniscient narrator. It’s confusing and jarring. Why not have the whole thing omniscient? I gave it 4 stars because it was really good, except for the POV issue. I read it for the adventure genre on my card.

4. On a Night of a Thousand Stars by Andrea Yaryura Clark (2022). This novel was amazing! I read it for the “free space” and I’m glad I saved it for last because it was SO GOOD and I gave it 5 stars! What’s kinda funny is that it flipped back and forth in time and POV, from first person in 1998 to third person, different POVs, in 1973-1976. Usually, I would say ugh I hate that, but guess what? When a writer is this good and makes it work… it works! We begin with Paloma, 21 years old, in 1998, who lives in New York City and gets curious about her father’s early life in Argentina after he gets appointed ambassador. Santiago doesn’t want to discuss his past, which makes her even more curious. When the family travels to Argentina, Paloma begins digging around and discovers the truth about him, and herself. In the chapters that take place during the 1970s, we learn for ourselves what happened with Santiago and some of his friends when the state engaged in a program of “disappearing” people they labeled “subversive.” I learned a little about Argentinian history regarding the brutal Peron years and the even worse post-Peron military junta era, much of which was supported by the US. This book did not delve into the Argentinian protection of Nazis, but I want to learn more about that too. I am not a fan of reading a big tome of history, so I appreciate fiction that makes me curious to look things up for myself.

AND MY BINGO CARD IS FILLED! I would say that the main benefit I got out of doing this genre challenge is a desire to read more historical fiction and learn more about history generally. You’re never too old to learn new things.

genre bingo challenge

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Fictional Cake [socs]

red velvet cake

There exists a lot of advice on the elements of a good story, but sometimes we simply like what we like, or not. I’ve started books that experts consider to be greats/classics, such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, and found them too tedious to finish. I can see that all the “right” ingredients are present, but… neither the story nor the characters are interesting enough for me to care about.

It’s like baking. You can follow the recipe perfectly, yet still end up with a bland cake. I feel that way about romance novels lately. Part of the problem is that the authors keep creating perfect protags with only one flaw each. Boring! Why can’t they have multiple flaws, including physical problems? Or mental illness? Or both! That would make for far more interesting reading ~ plus you wouldn’t have to invent convoluted plot twists when the issues would organically create themselves, like carrot cake, not that we can have carrot cake now because there is a CARROT SHORTAGE of all the wackadoo things. Enjoy this old carrot cake.

carrot cake

I would like to believe that Anna’s romances aren’t the same as other erotic romance, but they probably are, the short stories anyway. Even so, I must write more of them to finish my list. That’s the most important thing here. LISTS! Maybe I can make the next one weirder, add some unexpected ingredient…

Back to reading. I’ve already abandoned a genre that I began to enjoy recently: cozy mysteries. They all blend together in a pot of sameness after a while, and I can’t bear to start another one. I even had the idea of writing one myself, but I won’t now because it would have to stick to the cozy rules and I don’t want to.

These days, I’ve been grabbing quick snacks of suspense novels when I’m between books I need to read for book clubs or whatever, and that’s kinda like chomping on a stale sugar wafer when you’re really craving a big moist luscious hunk of buttercream frosted cake. Not that suspense can’t be good, but these books are mostly forgettable as soon as I’m finished. I guess this may be partly why writers have been gravitating toward the series concept: create a fun, quirky detective that readers will want to see again because the actual plot is like… who cares?

I want to get back to reading romances, so I’m going to do what I did with genres: force myself to complete a bingo card. I’m almost done with my current genre challenge, and I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed some of the novels much more than I anticipated. I have a romance bingo card ready to go for January 1, and you can be sure I will post my reviews here. And also cake!

Birthday cake devil’s food

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Horror Movie Challenge 21-25

scary pumpkins

Boo! I’m participating in Sandman’s Horror Movie Challenge, five films at a time, every six days. Using my extraordinary math skills, I believe this will end on Halloween with 30 movies altogether. I haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, as it’s a genre I avoid, so I will do my best here.

21. Best 70’s horror movie. Again, I’m only going with horror films I’ve actually seen, which aren’t many (and I’m trying to use a different one for each question). Carrie, 1976, was a pretty good movie, capturing all the teenage nastiness from the Stephen King novel.

22. Best 80’s horror movie. Since I’ve already said The Shining for best villain, I’ll go with Altered States (1980) for this category. Actually enjoyed this one (William Hurt is such a good actor), which I didn’t know was in the horror genre, but Rotten Tomatoes lists it as one, so who am I to argue with them?

23. Best 90’s horror movie. Practical Magic (1998), starring Sandra Bullock. This isn’t a slasher film ~ it’s about witches ~ but Google says it’s in the horror genre. I plan to rewatch it because it’s so good. Love Sandra!

24. Best genre of horror. Welp, I already said I prefer vampires if I have to watch something gross and bitey, but I forgot about witches, so we’ll go with that. I recently watched a witchy movie on Prime that I liked (running over to Amazon to look it up). Oh yeah, it was The Love Witch (2016) about a witch who was cursed to love men, to death.

25. Best horror movie made for children. Hmm, not sure kids (under 12) should be watching any horror. I took mine to see The Omen (2006 remake) for a Halloween fun night when they were 13 and 15, but I don’t think they were scared. One of our go-to insider jokes is: “It’s mother was a JACKAL!”

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Horror Movie Challenge 16-20

scary pumpkins

Boo! I’m participating in Sandman’s Horror Movie Challenge, five films at a time, every six days. Using my extraordinary math skills, I believe this will end on Halloween with 30 movies altogether. I haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, as it’s a genre I avoid, so I will do my best here.

16. Horror movie with terrible acting. I thought terrible acting was the point (Jack Nicholson and Kevin Bacon excepted). I’ll go with Jaws (1975), which I didn’t see until a couple years ago because people were teasing me for not seeing it. Ugh. Dumb.

17. Cheesiest horror movie. Wow, that’s like asking which is the most unrealistic rom-com. How about The Addams Family (1991), which was too funny to be scary (just like the TV show), but I liked it. I don’t wanna take horror seriously!

18. Horror movie with the worst plot. LOL. I’m sure it’s one of the zillions I haven’t seen, like Sharknado, but for these questions I’m using only movies I’ve seen, so I’ll say The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977). Ooh, no wait! I’m changing my vote to Tusk (2014), which fits so many of these categories: worst plot, worst acting, stupidest, goriest, etc., etc. It was similar to Dr. Moreau.

19. Best horror movie soundtrack. A Clockwork Orange (1971).

20. Horror movie title that best describes my life. Vertigo (1958).

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Horror Movie Challenge 11-15

scary pumpkins

Boo! I’m participating in Sandman’s Horror Movie Challenge, five films at a time, every six days. Using my extraordinary math skills, I believe this will end on Halloween with 30 movies altogether. I haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, as it’s a genre I avoid, so I will do my best here.

11. Best horror movie with a disappointing ending. Little Shop of Horrors (1986), which I saw in 2016 at a park in Pasadena with YOU KNOW WHO ~ the toxic narcissist who dumped me on Thanksgiving and ghosted me yada yada yada. The ghosting was the disappointing ending ~ you got that, right? I feel I need to explain things better for those who don’t memorize every word I write.

12. Least favorite horror movie ever. Gotta be The Keep (1983), which I was actually looking forward to because I really enjoyed the book by F. Paul Wilson, but the movie was beyond bad.

13. Horror movie I’ve been meaning to see but haven’t. Uh, none, lol. I don’t like them! Except for the exceptions, of course.

14. Horror movie with the best sequels. If I’m forced to watch horror, I prefer vampires, so I’ll go with all the vampire movies since the original Nosferatu (1922), which was based on Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula from 1897.

15. Worst horror movie reboot. The Hills Have Eyes (2006). I didn’t see the original from 1977, but that’s OK, since nothing could be worse than this hideous film.

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Horror Movie Challenge 6-10

scary pumpkins

Boo! I’m participating in Sandman’s Horror Movie Challenge, five films at a time, every six days. Using my extraordinary math skills, I believe this will end on Halloween with 30 movies altogether. I haven’t seen a lot of horror movies, as it’s a genre I avoid, so I will do my best here.

6. Funniest horror movie I’ve seen. What We Do in the Shadows (2014). Enjoyed this clever vampire roommate premise!

7. Horror movie with the worst sequels. Probably all those Halloween things, which I haven’t seen, but I can imagine they’re terrible because the ads are so annoying. Plus, Sandman put this one.

8. Best horror movie reboot. I’m going with Hollow Man (2000), starring Kevin Bacon, which is a remake of the 1933 film Invisible Man. I haven’t seen the original, but Bacon’s take is creepily good. Love Bacon!

9. Horror movie with the best villain. No question it’s The Shining (1980) starring Jack Nicholson. Such a great book by the master Stephen King and a fabulous movie as well. It’s about writer’s block.

10. Horror movie I hate that everyone else loves. Anything with zombies. Hate all the zombie movies and The Walking Dead too (saw one ep). So gross!

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.