Book Review: Glass Ceilings by A.M. Madden

It actually took me some time to confirm my opinion of this book. I liked parts of it, but I think my mood might have affected my perception. While well written with some good sexy parts, I really wasn’t feeling the whole baby thing. Still, just because I was feeling a little off doesn’t mean there weren’t things about it I didn’t appreciate.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
Two years after an intense night together, an FBI agent and a woman with an abusive ex find each other again when the ex is murdered. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Two Years Prior
When Angela and Nick meet, it takes only the span of a week for them to fall in love. Angela is skittish as a result of a freaky stalker ex, and Nick likes to keep his options open, especially because when they meet, he’s working undercover to take down a mob-led drug ring at the bar he’s “working at. One night of passion leads them to decide they want to be together, and since they’re both going to New York, it seems like everything is falling into place for it to happen.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. A series of events keeps Angela from going to New York, including the death of a family member. But then she receives pictures of Nick’s slashed tires from her ex and finds out she’s pregnant, and instead of telling Nick any of this, she just freaks out and goes into hiding in Ohio, supposedly to keep safe from her ex, who she’s found out has ties with the mafia.

Here and Now
Two years later, Angela is brought in for questioning regarding her ex’s murder, and she and Nick are reunited, though it’s anything but a happy reunion. Nick is bitter and still angry at the way she ended things. His anger only gets worse when she reveals that he’s a father because condoms and hot tubs don’t go together so well. Oops.

Things I’m Grouchy About
Let’s start with the things that didn’t work for me.

First, instalove. Though I liked the passion between Nick and Angela, I kept thinking that maybe they should get to know each other before committing to anything. I mean, they were both going to New York anyway, so sure, they could have planned to date, but other than physical attraction, I wasn’t sure there was much of a basis for a relationship there.

love at first sight

Second, I realize that Angela was scared, but not telling Nick about the baby? Kind of a dick move. Then later when he does find out, some of the interaction between him and the kid was sweet. Okay, all of it was. But after awhile, I kind of got tired of it. Full disclosure though, I’m kind of heartless when it comes to literary babies. Like I said, it wasn’t that it wasn’t good, it just didn’t push my buttons.

But On the Other Hand…
On the flipside, there were a lot of things I liked about the story. For all my minor complaints, I liked Angela and Nick, and when I didn’t think about the speed in which their original relationship progressed, I wanted to see them get together. I also enjoyed the smaller details and conflicts between them. The touch with Nick’s current girlfriend was great, especially because it wasn’t an easy breakup for Nick. Though his feelings for the GF weren’t as strong as they were for Angela, he cared about her and was torn up about the whole thing.


I also liked that even when they finally got together (again), he still admitted to feeling bitter about her not telling him that he had a son. Kudos for that detail, because realistically speaking, no matter how much you love someone, it doesn’t erase the stupid crap they did and it doesn’t erase negative feelings one has about that stupid crap. Especially when it involves bebehs.

A Splash of Intrigue
As for the whole murder investigation thing, I thought there was going to be a little more danger to it. In actuality, it took a back seat to the relationship Nick and Angela were trying to rebuild. Which was okay, and there was still a little bit of action, but there wasn’t that edgy, adrenaline rush feeling that sometimes comes with a story where someone might be in peril.

The Romance Factor
Though the instalove diminished it a little bit for me, I still enjoyed the intensity between Angela and Nick and I appreciated how painful it was for them to have ended the way they did. Even though I might not completely buy the “in love” aspect, I do think it’s possible to develop strong feelings for someone in a short amount of time, and it was kind of tragic they didn’t get to explore them under different circumstances. 3/5

The Steam Factor
There’s sexy times at the beginning and sexy times at the end, and the middle of the story is spent catching up with what happened to them in the two years they were apart while also waiting to see how they were going to proceed. Though the sex was fairly sparse, it was hot when it happened. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Overall, I’m going to say that I liked the story. It had some great things about it, and the little realistic details really stood out for me. The unrealistic details can be easily overlooked as part of the genre, so in hindsight, not a deal breaker. As for the baby, I don’t normally mind babies, so we’ll chalk that up to a mood thing. The writing is solid and while I can’t rank it as a favorite, I would still recommend it as a good read.

Texas Summer by Leslie Hatchel

I finished this book during Gencon, which my husband and I go to every year. With as insane as the con gets, you’d think I wouldn’t have had time to read, but I needed at least one down night, and finishing this was how I spent it.

It’s rare that I come across a book that I have a hard time getting through, but sadly, they do happen. I wasn’t going to do a blog review on this book, but I decided that just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. So even though this wasn’t for me, I’m putting it out there for others who might want to pick it up.

Trigger warning: This book contains themes of sexual abuse and pedophilia.


I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A writer finds himself stranded in a small town where murders are happening and the town is blaming the waitress he’s fallen in love with. For a fully synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I think the book had potential. I liked the set up of a hero getting stranded in a town where crazy things are happening. I like the idea of the outsider having an affair with a waitress who no one likes for various reasons. It was a good concept, I just wasn’t sold on the execution.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The first thing that made this book hard to read were technical issues in the writing and the format. The dialogue ran together instead of being separated, and so at times it was hard to keep track of who was talking. There was also a lack of contractions which made the dialogue sound too formal.

I think the book was supposed to be a romantic suspense, but it lacked in both departments. The heroine is accused of murdering her half sister, but the reader isn’t given any mystery. You know from the start who’s behind it. The only thing you don’t know right away is who’s assisting the killer, and even that isn’t a big surprise. There are no major twists, and the point of view flips between the couple and the sociopath (I’m not going to tell you who it is, but you’ll find it out in the first few chapters if you read the book) several times.

Also, I don’t mind dark subjects in my romance novels, but blatant pedophilia bordering on incest doesn’t work for me in a book that’s supposed to be a love story, even if it’s coming from side characters. Then, it goes from dark subjects to a very trite “I hated you because you were the prettiest” scenario. Really? The cliche was too much.

Franco wut

The Romance Factor
Insta-love has to be done really well for me to enjoy it, because as a rule, it bugs me. In this case, I didn’t buy that the hero fell in love with the heroine after just meeting her. I really didn’t buy it when he asked her to marry him after just a couple days. It wasn’t believable and there was no angsty lead up. In fact, neither of the characters had any emotion or sensuality. Heck, neither of them really seemed that upset that they kept being accused of murder. No warm fuzzies at all, but there was at least an exposition of a romance, so 2/5.

The Steam Factor
There was actually quite a bit of sex in this story, but I didn’t feel any excitement or titillation from it. Like my romance, I like my sexy times to have some foreplay. And even in a story where the main characters jump into bed, there’s usually some sort of conflict afterwards. I didn’t get any of that here. Still, it was there, and I think if I had been invested in the characters, I would have liked the scenes in general, so I’ll give it a 3/5.

Final Thoughts
I really hate not liking a book, even though realistically I know that not every reader is going to like every book. I think readers who enjoy plot driven stories are going to enjoy this one more than I did, and I know that insta-love is some readers’ crack, even if it’s not mine.

Goodreads Review: Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

I finished this book during my recent trip up north to the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop for some hardcore yarn shopping and friend time. You know it’s a good weekend when you get to chill with cool people, buy a ton of yarn, and finish a good book. This one reminds me of my mom, but only because it reminds me of Val McDermid’s crime novels, and my mom got me hooked on those. I think she’ll really enjoy this one. My mom, I mean. Not Val McDermid. Though maybe Val will enjoy it too. The book comes out on June 2, 2015, so put in a request at your local library. 

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace,#1)Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mystery/crime drama isn’t my first choice of genre, but the premise of Eeny Meeny intrigued me, so I requested it and am so glad I got approved.

It starts with a young couple, then a pair of work associates, then a mother and daughter – people are disappearing in twos. Days later, one of them emerges, starved and sick. During their captivity, the victims are given a gun and a choice: shoot the other and be set free or die a slow, painful death from starvation. It falls to Helen Grace and her team to solve the mystery and apprehend the criminal. Pretty straightforward, right?

There were a lot of things that made this book enjoyable for me. I tend to give simplified plot synopses anyway, but in this case I’m doing so because I don’t want to give too much away. However, the writing and plot were solid. The author details the captivity of the victims in horrific detail (some of that detail made me uncomfortable, which raises its “awesome” factor) but not so much that the story drags. It keeps its pace with the main plot and the side plots of which there are a few, all of which intertwine through the main story with ease.

The characters were great. Helen Grace is a strong female character, but she’s also strongly damaged and comes with some painful quirks. The side characters, while taking a backseat to Grace and those involved in the crimes, are given their own personalities and lives that emerge throughout the book. By the end, I had a sense that I knew them, was involved with them, and even shattered with the ones who get dealt the trauma. My investment in this group was worth it…the payoff at the end of the book is good and sets things up for more in this series.

The writing was strong and the story well-paced. There were only two things I took issue with. The first was in the formatting more than the writing. There were no breaks when the scene shifted, so it was sometimes hard to easily discern when the setting and characters had changed. However, I think that was more an ARC format problem than a problem with the author’s presentation.

The second thing was the weirdly added romantic/sexual aspect to the story. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and I had to go back to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter or two leading up to when it starts. As someone who loves a good romance and tends to prefer romantic interludes in all the books I read, I actually didn’t feel like this one was needed. It seemed a little forced and out of place, though not jarring enough to throw the whole story off.

If you like crime novels, definitely give this one a try. It reminded me of Val McDermid’s novels, and that’s a good comparison. Helen Grace could be the new favorite read of gritty/graphic crime lovers.

View all my reviews

Costumes and Mysteries Solved

I went to work today with the knowledge that today probably wouldn’t be my most productive day ever….because IT’S HALLOWEEN! Happy Halloween, everyone! In the five years I’ve been with my company, Halloween has always been a crazy day filled with food, candy, and costumes. I’ve gotten a little bit of a humbug reputation because I haven’t always participated. The problem in the past has been a high workload that I didn’t think I could or should take a break from. This year I’m working with a full and great team, so I was able to relax a little and have fun.

I’m not one to dress up, but as I think I said recently, I was able to help with costumes a little bit this year. My big project can be seen in this picture of one of our office’s group costumes.

Gru, Dr. Nefario, and the Minions
Gru, Dr. Nefario, and the Minions

I knit the Gru scarf! I love how it came out too. I think the group did great with this costume idea, and it seemed to be a big hit. Our company had a costume contest and they let everyone vote for their favorites. Unfortunately, our office didn’t win, but I’ll admit that the competition was fierce.

Our office had other costumes too.

Biker Girlz rule!
Biker Girlz rule!
Classy Cats
Turtle Man
Roller Ghoster
Roller Ghoster of Doom

For lunch, we had an office potluck with a ton of food. Right before we ate, however, I did our murder mystery reveal. We ended up with four winners who guessed everything correctly. Still proud of myself and my group for executing this like we did. I’m hoping to do a Twelve Days of Christmas Treasure Hunt, but I’ll have to see how busy fourth quarter turns out to be.

After work, Jon and I went out to find a few geocaches since the rain from early in the morning had evaporated into a nice sunny evening. We made four finds and had another DNF. One of our finds took us on a walk around part of Cico Park, and now that we have a better idea of what’s going on over there, I think we’re going to try to go back and walk around a little more.

On the way home, we stopped at Sonic for fifty cent corn dogs, then came home to relax for the evening. Tomorrow is Friday and it’s going to be a busy one. A lot of Fridays end up being pretty busy at work. Besides that, I have an eye doctor appointment first thing in the morning, and Jon and I have our first geocaching event tomorrow night, which means meeting other area cachers. Tomorrow is also the first day of NaNoWriMo.

Between housesitting, geocaching, and hanging with people this weekend, I’m hopefully going to find some time to try to get a jump start on my novel.

Off to finish some internetting, and then to bed. Have a great Friday!


Middle of the Week Lull

It rained today. A lot. I’m grateful it wasn’t snow, but it would have still been a nice day to stay inside and knit or sleep. Having said that, things were pretty wild on the murder mystery front. Some of my co-workers are taking this very seriously. Part of me is really happy about this. Part of me is worried that my ending will disappoint.  These people are ruthless, so I have to be on my A-game.

The day in general went by fast, though I wasn’t feeling great. Stomach issues and a touch of what threatens to be a cold. Still, I was ready to go to the gym after work. We haven’t been in several days, and since the rain was going to keep us from geocaching and/or walking, the gym was our best option.

Two things happened when I left work, however. First, I realized I’d forgotten to change into my outside-of-work shoes before leaving the office, and those happen to be my active shoes. The ones I wear at work, while comfortable in that setting, aren’t great for the gym. Still, I could have overlooked that and used the spare pair I keep in the trunk. I could have also overlooked the wet pant legs I had from walking through puddles.

What was harder to deal with was the sudden headache that happened as I was getting into my car. It felt like someone had come up and smashed the back of my head with a bat. Maybe they did. Either way, it took any exercise out of the equation because just driving was hard, so we came home, where I got into my pajamas, took some ibuprofen and spent the evening watching a movie and knitting.

The most exciting thing that happened was that our zombie travel bugs arrived!

2013-10-30 20.43.06

Can’t wait to find something to attach these guys to and send them out into the world!

While the ibuprofen helped, I think I’m heading to bed early tonight.

Two more days until the weekend!


Murder Mysteries and Misty Weather

The current big thing in the office right now is our Halloween week murder mystery. This was an idea that my group came up with and we’re having a blast running it. I’m pleased with how it’s going so far.  The back story is that someone killed a local auditor and hid the body somewhere on campus. Now the players must solve the mystery and lay his ghost to rest.

I’m going to be honest…I’ve never played in or set up a murder mystery before, so this one is very experimental.  For the clues, I gave everyone participating three to four clues that they could share with each other. Then I chose “witnesses” from other parts of the building. My “informants” give the players a clue as to which witness they need to find, they give that witness a password, and they receive two new clues (from a larger pool of clues, so they have to continue to interact and trade clues).

Technically, it’s a team building exercise, but it’s also an individual player contest, because whoever solves everything gets a prize. Either way, creating and executing this has been a blast and has started the creative juices flow, possibly in preparation for NaNoWriMo (if I decide to do it).

Besides that excitement,  Forsh brought in Halloween candy today and got us all sugared up. I’m usually a holiday humbug, but this year I’m kind of having some fun with Halloween. I’m never one to costume up, but I’m going to enjoy the rest of it.

The weather was weird and misty today, and since I worked the later shift, I wasn’ t feeling up to fighting the gym crowd. Our original plan was to take a walk around the rec center and do a zombie mission. Instead, we went out geocaching after work, deciding it would be some good activity but we could still write today off as a rest day. Our first cache took us to a local cemetery that we’d passed on the road a few times but had never visited.  We drove into it and couldn’t believe how huge it was. It just kept going. It was beautiful, and with the misty and chilly weather, the atmosphere was perfect.

100_2120 100_2121 100_2124 100_2125 100_2126 100_2129

We found this cache and two more nearby before heading to another part of town where we found one more. We looked for one that was recently published in the area but had to log as a DNF. It was dark by that time, and the ground was wet so we weren’t getting low for the hunt. I figure we’ll probably go back soon and try to find it again.

We chilled at home with some dinner and one of my guilty pleasure shows, Toddlers and Tiaras. I will say that the new season on Netflix is slightly annoying thus far. We’re only two episodes into it, and I’m already tired of seeing little girls be taught cattiness by their nasty mothers.  I know the show is edited for that type of reaction, but I wish they’d edit to show the good parents more. I think the light they show these pageants in is why so many people hate them, even though I think there are some major positives to these competitions.

That’s a subject  for another post though. I’m going to finish up here, get a quick shower, and settle in for some reading. I checked out a book at the library on a whim, but it’s a “Sizzler,” and it’s due back tomorrow. I’m over halfway through, so I have to finish it tonight before I fall asleep.

Tomorrow’s Wednesday, so make like camels and enjoy your Hump Day! (Yeah, that was really bad. Sorry!)



First to Finds and Murder Mysteries

So I took a few days off of blogging, mostly because I’ve had a few late nights. By the time I’ve gotten home, it’s pretty much time to crash if I want to be functional the next day.

Being that it’s Friday, I can push it tonight, especially since we can sleep in tomorrow.  Our only day plans are geocaching, and then tomorrow night we’re watching the Fantastic Four (aka the kids) over at Terry and Erica’s.

That wasn’t sarcasm either…those kids are pretty rockin’.

Work has been busy these past few days, but part of it has been fun because I’ve had a chance to flex some of my creative muscles. I decided to write and execute a murder mystery for our office to celebrate Halloween. I believe it can also be considered a team building exercise because people will have to interact with others to figure it out.

Getting back into our exercise routine has been a challenge, but we’re working on it. I made it to the gym twice this week, and we’re planning some hiking and walking cache routes for this weekend. While we haven’t been lumps, I’m ready to up the intensity again next week. I may also be close to getting back on the elliptical.

Thursday night, I got my first FTF. We were watching Forsh’s dog that evening (Forsh is a work friend I’ve mentioned before, but she only recently gave me permission to use her name), and as we were leaving, a new cache alert came up. We hauled butt to the area and started looking.

During our hunt, the cache owner came by and gave us some hot and cold hints. I think we would have eventually found it, but the experience was kind of like getting buck fever: I was so tweaked over getting the First to Find, I was kind of all over the place.  I’m glad we were in the right place at the right time. My first FTF was also my 152nd cache.

In other cool caching news, we’re attending two upcoming event caches in the area and we ordered a set of zombie travel bugs to send out. I’m super excited about all these things.

Jon and I watched the first three episodes of American Horror Story: Coven. So far, it’s good. Disturbing, but good.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something but it’s late and I’m losing steam fast, so I’m off to bed. Hoping to have pics and stories from tomorrow’s adventures to share on the next post.