I can't believe 2009 is already over :) It really went by fast, especially the month of December. Personally, I'm quite happy that 2009 is over. I mean, it wasn't a bad year and actually, there were some really good moments... however, it wasn't a particularly good year either.
Back to books :) Reading-wise, December was okay. Again, I didn't read as much as I wanted, but December has been really busy. First, there was work and then, all the parties and get-togethers. So I'm quite happy with 12.
1) The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin: B
2) The Blood King by Gail Z. Martin: B
These two books are Book #1 and #2 in the Chronicles of the Necromancer. The story is about Tris, who is the prince of the Kingdom of Margolan. During Halloween, his evil half-brother kills their father to usurp the throne... Tris and his companions have no other choice than to flee. They are determined to come back to Margolan and chase away the evil king. During his journey, in addition to making valuable allies, Tris discovers that he is a necromancer... adding even more responsibilities on his shoulders. At the end of The Blood King, Tris successfully regains his throne... however, not everything is settled and dangers still await.
These are fantasy novels and while enjoyable, they're not very original - except perhaps the part where Tris is a necromancer. The story and the writing are good, the characters are likable but the wow factor is not present and as a result, they fail to distinguish themselves from other fantasy novels with similar plot. It's basically the typical story about a prince trying to get his throne back.
However, I'm more hopeful for the second story arc, since it follows the story of Tris once he is on the throne. This should be interesting and different. I already have book #3, Dark Haven, but waiting to get my hand on the conclusion, book #4 Dark Lady's Chosen, so there won't be any cliffhanger.
3) She's Got it Bad by Sarah Mayberry: C+
My first Sarah Mayberry. I think at this point, many know the plot already. I enjoyed the setting and the hero, but the heroine... meh. I understand from where she comes from, but it didn't maker her likable to me. I had difficulty connecting with her... Ah well, not a totally bad book, but not a wowzer I was expecting. Still, I'll be looking forward by more books written by Ms Mayberry.
4) Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi: B
I picked up this book at the library because Ames and Leslie have recently reviewed it. The story is about Hattie... for lack of a better term, an old maid. She's not very attractive, but she's hard-working, independent and own her farm. She's actually waiting for Reed, the man who's been helping on the farm ever since he was a young boy, to gather enough money so she can sell it to him. Reed has a dream to turn this cotton farm into a rice field... unfortunately, this mean asking his fiancée to wait. Everything changes the day a widower with 8 kids, Ancil Drayton, decides to court Miss Hattie. For some reasons, Reed is not taking it well...
I thought Courting Miss Hattie was a cute story. I liked both main characters, Hattie and Reed. I was happy that Reed stood up for Hattie, even against his young fiancée. Unfortunately, Reed is really a man and doesn't understand women's worries. It was funny when he wondered why Hattie would accept Ancil's suit. Hattie was a good heroine, strong and independent, but still vulnerable. The two of them made a good pair. The story was cute and I even enjoyed the secondary romance... my only problem really was the time period - not one of my favorite.
5) Indiscreet by Carolyn Jewel: B-/B
Hmmm, I planned to review this book, but never got around to. I read this book, mainly because I've been wanting to try this author's historical romance and because Rosie keeps singing her praise and gave me a copy of this book :) I could have read Scandal; however, Indiscreet's plot suited me better in my opinion.
So I did enjoy Indiscreet. Again, I liked the characters and the plot was interesting. Seriously, rumors can cause so much harm and Edward's friend was really despicable. I liked that Edward was different in the sense that he was not considered handsome and he wasn't afraid of marriage in the beginning. Just too bad his bride wasn't worth it. I liked Sabine because she was smart. I liked the fact that the whole scandal wasn't swept under a rug, that we could see the repercussion of what happened even after they traveled so far away from London. The first half of the book was quite good... this is where Edward and Sabine get to know each other and interact... I wish this part would have been longer. For some reasons, I still didn't totally believe the love between Edward and Sabine. The second half of the story is where I started losing interest. Some would have found it exciting, but me, I thought it was a bit too much ^_^; It is believable that someone would go to such length to possess a woman, but meh. The ending was okay...
6) Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas: C
7) Red by Jordan Summers: B-
Red got quite a buzz on blogland when it was released, but it took Lea during my trip to Ontario to convince me to buy it. Red is the story of Gina Santiago, nicknamed Red because of the amount of blood whenever she's involved in a mission, who decides to investigate a crime scene that looks like it was done by animals... but Red feels otherwise. The story takes place in a futuristic kind of world - not apocalyptic, but almost, where vampires, werewolves and psychics are the results of government experiments to yield better soldiers.
So Red arrives in Nuria and knows there is something more than the little town facade. She meets Morgan, the sheriff and alpha, and the two are instantly attracted to each other... What Red doesn't know yet is that this investigation will reveal some secrets that involve her as well.
Overall, the story wasn't bad. Red is the first book in the trilogy which include Scarlet and Crimson. I like the link between the three titles, I thought it was original. The writing was also quite good, so I can't really pinpoint the reason why I felt a bit meh while reading this book. Don't know if it was my mood or the book itself. I guess I had difficulty connecting with the characters and getting into the storyline. There is one thing that bothered me and that was the crudeness in this book. The worst is that it wasn't even that bad when you compare to erotica romance... but for some reason, it bothered me. I think it was mainly because I wasn't really expecting it ^_^; Makes me sound like a prude here LOL. Ah well. I do have Scarlet in my TBR pile... will get to it eventually.
8) Three Days to the Dead by Kelly Meding: C
I've really been in the mood for urban fantasy lately and when I came across Mandi's review for this book, I thought it fit the bill.
So Evangeline Stone is part of an organization that get rids of unwanted creatures such as goblins, demons and etc. The way the organization works is that members work in teams of three - triads - with a handler in charge. Evangeline's triad is ambushed and her two partners are killed. She's accused of their murders and try to escape to prove her innocence, but instead, gets a neutral clan of were-birds annihilated. Discouraged, Evie is ready to turn herself in till her handler, Wyatt, convince her not to. In the end though, she ends up dead and waking in a body that doesn't belong to her, with no memories of the critical last few days.
I guess I'm going to start sounding like a broken record, but once again, story was okay. The whole idea of Evie's team being murdered, Evie being wrongly accused and this all being part of a bigger conspiracy was good... however, I think that too much was happening. The author tried to conciliate the story with a complicated world building and just didn't focus enough on the background. She introduces a lot of different supernatural living creatures, gives a bit of background, but not enough for readers to link everything together. Who are the allies, who are the bad guys? What are halfies? Also back-tracking the last few days of Evie, there was a lot of action... and perhaps I think too much. Also, are regular people not supposed to be aware of these creatures when you have chimeras running wild around?!?
A definite bummer for me was also the "romance." Reading urban fantasy, I don't expect romance, but if you include it... Having the heroine tell her "love" interest that she only wanted sex to make her feel alive... yeah, not very romantic.
The saving grace of Three Days to the Dead though is the writing and the characters. As a result, this wasn't the greatest debut novel, but it wasn't the worst either.
9) The Care and Taming of a Rogue by Suzanne Enoch: C+
This is the story of Captain Bennett Wolfe who comes back to London 5 months after he was declared dead. Bennett is a very popular explorer who has written books about his journey to Egypt and other countries. In his last expedition to Congo, he was supposed to bring back maps, logs, specimen, etc. for London's Africa Association... but instead, he was left for dead by a colleague, Captain Langley, who stole Bennett's journals and published them as his own and at the same time, ruining Bennett's reputation by inversing their roles. Now, Bennett has to prove that the journals were actually his own, but first, he has to salvage his reputation... and the only way he can do so, is to mingle with the ton and the young ladies... but the only one he finds tolerable is Lady Phillipa Eddison.
The first half of the book was quite good and entertaining; however, I can't say the same about the second half. The main problem of this book was the characterization of Bennett Wolfe. At first, he sounded sane and rational... however, as the story goes, his character seems to lose it and he becomes "savage" and ignorant. Yes, this man spent his aldulthood being an explorer, vising countries and natives and I can believe that he prefers the freedom he finds during his journeys, but I cannot believe he doesn't know how to court a lady and what is considered proper behavior in England. I mean, he did stay in England between his expeditions, right? and he was raised in England... so to have him not knowing how to court a woman or how to behave in company of a lady, that was ridiculous to me.
One other problem I had was why would Langley kidnap Phillipa to Gretna Green?!? I understand him being interested in Phillipa to thwart Bennett, but to the point of marrying her?!? That didn't make sense to me. After all that, the fact that Phillipa was a homebody, someone that doesn't really enjoy traveling was superfluous as a conflict.
What saved the book was Phillipa's character, the writing and the unconventional resolution to Bennett's innocence issue.
10) Deadline by Metsy Hingle: C+
I've read and enjoyed Ms Hingle book and so, I was quite glad to find Deadline, the only one missing in my collection, when I was visiting Kristie.
When Tessa Abbott was 4 years old, her mother - the daughter of a senator - was murdered and her father accused of the crime, convicted based on Tessa's testimony and thrown in jail. Twenty-five years later, about to be released, her father commits suicide. The case should be closed... till Tessa receives a phone call telling her her father's suicide wasn't one and he wasn't her mother's murderer. Wanting to finally find the truth, Tessa decides to carry her own investigation.
Overall, the best way to describe Deadline is "okay." The story was interesting, but a bit unbelievable. Tessa is a reporter and as a whole, her character was okay. She didn't annoy me - and she could have, given her job :P All her actions in this investigation were steps that I would have taken and that was quite interesting. What I found stupid though is that all the witnesses are starting to disappear or die and Tessa is not worried. Hello!! At the end, when the hero, Spencer, finally got the message across, it was too late to convey the right emotions. Speaking of the hero, I really did like him. He was solid, even with his hidden agenda - I don't feel like he used Tessa. The romance between the H/H was a bit lukewarm, so that was a bit disappointing. The truth though was quite interesting, so points to the author there.
11) Forbidden Falls by Robyn Carr: B
Review to come.
12) Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger: A-
Review to come.
Oups, I've been quite chatty today. Some of those mini-reviews could almost be reviews on their own! LOL. Ah well :) I felt that most of my reads this month were okay. Except for Almost Like Being in Love, none really blown me away :( I personally don't know if it was my mood or if I've become more harsh with grades and jaded ^_^;
Except for Forbidden Falls and Almost Like Being in Love and some buddy reviews I have yet put together (sorry Christine, Jill, Li and Leslie!!), I'll consider my year 2009 over :) LOL, I need to focus on reviewing my new reads instead of looking back :P Seriously, I bow to all of you bloggers that review all the books you read. I don't know how you do!
Now all that is left to wrap up the year is my Best and Worst of 2009 post :) Need to start working on that :P