Thursday, June 03, 2010

Monthly Reads: May 2010

Phew, what a day today. It was my sister's convocation today :) She's finally getting her diploma for her bachelor!! Woohoo!! The ceremony started at 10am, but the students had to show up approximately one hour early to get ready...We left home at 7.20am and usually, that's plenty of time to make it... but the traffic was horrible!!! I only got on the island 10 minutes before 10am and I dropped her on the campus on the dot. All this because the road work they were doing ran late and they didn't put those stupid metal sheets over the holes ^_^; During the whole drive, my sister and I were: "Why today of all day?!?" Luckily, we didn't miss anything. Phew.

Okay, onto my monthly reads list now :) May was a good month, but somehow, I still wished I've read more...

1) The Truth about Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries: B

Years ago, Oliver Sharpe's parents died under mysterious circumstances that gave rise to a scandal. Ever since, Oliver and his 4 siblings have been defying Society's rules without regards. Their maternal grandmother has had enough of their behaviors and wants grandchildren. Thus, she decrees that all 5 have to be married within the year or she'll disinherit them all. In an attempt to thwart his grandmother's plan, Oliver makes a deal with Maria Butterfield, an American semi-heiress (her father has died, but she has yet inherited the money because of the conditions). She'll pose as his totally improper fiancée and in exchange, he'll look for her "real" fiancé.

I picked up this book to read because of the reading Ms Jeffries did during the Regency Bingo session she hosted at the RT. The excerpt she read was really great, unfortunately, I don't think the rest of the book lived up to it :( However, it was still an enjoyable read :)  While the writing and characters were solid, I felt the story was a tad predictable. I didn't buy the whole relationship and chemistry between Mary and Oliver.

I did like all the characters though from Freddy, Mary's cousin, to Oliver's multitude of siblings. They were fun and added a nice touch to the story. I also liked Oliver's characterization and bought his motives and the reasons he didn't want marriage.

All in all, I enjoyed The Truth about Lord Stoneville enough to look forward to the second book in the series, A Hellion in Her Bed, coming out in September. I do think Ms Jeffries has a good premises for the series. Plus, the blurb sounds pretty good :)

2) Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson: C+

3) Something About You by Julie James: B+
Upcoming review.

4) Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery: C+

Charity Jones has always wanted to put down roots and that's what she expects to accomplish when she accepts the position of city planner in Fool's Gold, a scenic small Californian town. Her job is to bring more business - and men - into town. Indeed, for some mysterious reasons, women far out-number the men... And in order to do so, Charity will have to work with Fool's Gold dearest son, Josh Golden, a former world-class cyclist who retired for reasons unknown.

Loved the small town, the situation and everything... but couldn't stand the H/H. The characters were actually okay, perhaps a bit on the dull side. The biggest issues was that Charity and Josh had no chemistry whatsoever. Worst, they didn't even understand each other. Take out the physical attraction and I don't get what they liked from each other. Also, I really dislike it when the H/H just assume things about each other... about their personality, their life, but also about how they will react. Communication is important, but also listening to what the other have to say.

In addition, I think Ms Mallery has to be careful about her plots... This is the third trilogies where you get an unplanned pregnancy in the first book. I think it's best when authors don't develop patterns in their trilogies - if not, they become way too predictable.

5) The Wish List by Gabi Stevens: B-
Upcoming review.

6) A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison: C

Elizabeth Steven, a baker, is turning 35 and instead of a birthday cake, she is baking a wedding cake for her ex-husband. During the last year, Elizabeth has been unable to move on and has become a bit bitter. To help her out, her grandmother gives her the family "gift" - magic. Elizabeth quickly discovers that she is able to put spells onto the food she bakes and uses her new gift to help herself and the people around her... But magic never really turns out the way we want...

A Taste of Magic is a book I've been wanting to read for a while, but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. I finally decided to give it a try, because I wanted a funny, light romance. It didn't turn out to be what I expected and I'm not totally sure if it was the book or the mood I was in when I read it. I ended up thinking the book was meh.

Somehow, I feel A Taste of Magic is more Elizabeth's journey of re-discovering herself with the help of magic than a romance story. I wished there would have been more interactions between Elizabeth and Nate... I didn't like it when Elizabeth was in limbo, kind of dating Nate and her trainer at the same time. When you're not sure of your situation, the best way to clear things is to ask. Communication, folks!! Also, I'm tired of assumptions and characters jumping to conclusions. They always think the worst, they are so many characters out there who are the "half-empty glass" type... it's getting tiring.

It was also a book that I had difficulty to get into, as a result, I was never fully engaged by the characters or the storyline :( I have Book #2 and #3... we'll see if it gets better.

7) To Sin with a Scoundrel by Cara Elliot: C

Life has been hard for Lady Ciara Sheffield since her husband's death. Not that she misses the brutal drunk, but she could do without the rumors that she poisoned him... or the investigation that her in-laws have instigated to take her out of the picture. As her in-laws continue to spread nasty lies about her, Ciara risks losing custody of her son. As a result, she needs to leave her hermit ways behind and step back into Society... and be accepted. The best way is of course to fake an engagement... but is Lucas Bingham, the Earl of Hadley, a rakehell rogue notorious for his devil-may-care antics, the best choice?

This is Ms Elliot's debut novel and I was lucky to pick it up at the RT's goodies room. I was looking forward to this book, because the H/H are so different from each other. Our heroine is a scientist, so very logical and methodical, and our hero is a rogue... I thought it'd be opposite attracts each other and it was, to some extent. I just don't feel Ms Elliot exploited her characters to the maximum. Ms Elliot had a lot going on plot-wise and I think it was too much and it detracted from the focus. I liked Lucas' changes, but I'm not sure it was real growth... that it had to do with Ciara. Again, I think there was a lack of chemistry... especially since I felt Ciara was a bit snobby. She's a scientist and I feel that in many instances, she looked down on Lucas or just didn't believe he was smart enough. It was as if she was surprised that Lucas had some strengths whatsoever ^_^;

Also, a group of women referring themselves as "Sinners" because they are scientists, that's really cheesy. I mean, it is cheesy for men, but it's worst for women. I know that at that time, people considered that women and sciences should not mix together, but that was a bit too much.

8) Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews: A
Buddy review coming up with Tabitha at Breezing Through

9) Silent Scream by Karen Rose: B+/A-
Upcoming review.

10) Blown Away by Sharon Sala: C-

While out walking, Cari North comes across her ex-fiancé, Lance Morgan, burying a body. She rushes home to call the authorities, but before she can do so, a tornado destroys her house, kills her parents and cousin and leaves Cari with a blow to the head. After regaining consciousness,  Cari knows that Lance is not stupid and will have move the body. With no proof, it will be her words against Lance's and people are not likely to believe her because of her head injury and how their relationship ended. Thus, Cari decides to take her cousin's identity, flee Bordelaise and run to Baton Rouge... but she is determined to come back to unravel the mystery... with the help of Michael Boudreaux, her cousin's boss, who has taken her under his wing.

Hmmm, I usually love Ms Sala's work, but Blown Away simply didn't work for me. Once again, I'm not totally sure if it was me or the book... probably a bit of both. The idea/premise actually wasn't bad if you can suspend disbelief, which I can :) and I do think it could have worked out. I actually thought Ms Sala had a good villain... the kind of man that never assumes responsibilities, whose mistakes were always corrected or taken care by his family. A spoiled man  that didn't learn to control himself, indulges and let his emotions run loose. Not evil to the core, which is pretty interesting.

Unfortunately, I felt there was no depth to the characters and the story, that Ms Sala only scratched the surface. There was no layers, no reading in-between the lines... This is what happened, this is what he/she though and said, etc. This made for a dull read. Plus, it felt a bit like Ms Sala was trying a little bit too hard. For example, some of Cari's actions/reactions were supposed to show how brave and strong she was, but because it was so implausible, it didn't come across. It just made the whole thing a bit too cheesy, especially since the hero was so in awe with her courage.

There were also a couple of other little issues such as timeline... I think I picked up one or two mistakes. Plus, Mike kept saying "Cher" to Cari... which I don't mind, but it's "Chère" given she's a woman. One or two times, I can overlook it... but when it's said over and over again, it just becomes increasingly annoying ^_^;

So Blown Away was definitively not Ms Sala's best work... the good news though is that the books in the Storm trilogy are individual stories, so I will be looking for Torn Apart, the second book... and we'll see from there :)

11) Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery: B+
Upcoming review. (Book obtained from Net Galley)

12) Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas: B/B+
Upcoming review.

Re-read: Nothing to Fear by Karen Rose: B

Hmmm, it's actually 12.75 books read, LOL. I read Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong while coming back from Columbus. Tales of the Otherworld is the second compilation of her online novellas. I've actually already read all of the stories in it, except for the new Eve and Kristoff story, which I loved!! So in the end, I did re-read most of it, except for The Case of El Chupacabra... For some reasons, I've never been able to get into it. So that accounts for 0.25... and my other 0.5 is that I skimmed through Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber. Bought the book on Kobo website and didn't realize it was the format to read on the computer, not the epub for the Kobo e-reader ^_^; Hannah's List has about 4 POV and I read the one that interested me... so 0.5 :P

Books bought: +12
Books read: -12.75
TBR pile: -0.75

Well it's a negative number, so I'm happy, especially given the number of new releases last week! However, it seems like the reading has not been fluid this year. I haven't been able to read continuously... There's always a few days where I just can't seem to read and it annoys me :(  Hopefully, that won't be a problem this summer :)


  1. Congrats to your sister. And I like the purses! LOL

    I need to hurry up and read Kelly Armstrong's book.

  2. Congratulations to your sister!

    Ohh you liked Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery... looking forward to your review. I'm interesting in reading that one. :D

  3. Congrats to your sis!!!!
    Good list. Interested to see your thoughts on Silent Scream.
    It did not hit me until I pulled up your blog that yes, May is over and i need to post my reading list, totally did not even think of it. Thanks ;)

  4. Big thank you from my sister!! :)

    Ames - Yes, you need to!!

    Hilcia - I'm definitively going to review it before the release date, so stay tuned :)

    Kris - Yes, I'll be reviewing it soon :) and LOL, how long is your list this month? :P

  5. Awww you guys look so cute!

    Wow, I'm jealous of your numbers this month. Once upon a time I was a fast reader...or had time to read...whatever. Sigh.

    I think Lord Stoneville is one of the books you or Jill gave me. Great review!

  6. Congratulations to your sister! :-)

    I loved Magic Bleeds, too. Very satisfying.

    Is the Jodi Thomas the start of a new series? I really enjoyed Rewriting Mondays by her.

  7. congrats to you sister!

    I think I read taste of magic. Isn't that the one where she wishes her ex impotent or something? I thought it was meh.

  8. Beautiful weather for convocation - nice pic!

    LOL @ 0.75 for Tales - the one story I actually didn't finish was the Clay/Elena one. Not sure why - possibly because I knew how it ended?

    So you haven't read Waking the Witch yet? What self-control...


  9. Congrats to your sister! That’s a great pic of the two of you.

    Curious to read your review of Something About You. I don’t remember what you thought of her first two books. Did you even read them? My memory is shot!

    And the Jodi Thomas book too. Not as good as Twisted Creek?

    0.25? Really? Only you nath. :D

  10. Mollie - Awww, thanks Mollie :)

    LOL, will you believe me if I said that I used to read even more? I don't know, lately, my reading just doesn't flow, sigh.

    I gave you the Lord Stoneville book :) Hope you enjoy it :)

    Renee - Thanks Renee :)

    I agree, Magic Bleeds was very satisfying :) Now, we have to wait another year for the next book, sigh.

    Yes, Welcome to Harmony is the start of a trilogy - Harmony trilogy, LOL. The second book comes out in September apparently... and Harmony is close-by to both Twisted Creek and Bailee...

    Isabel - Thanks :)

    and yes, that's the book... it was meh indeed, sigh. And now, I have the next 2 books ^_^;

    Li - Oh indeed, it was Li :) Very lucky because the previous day, it rained a lot...

    I like the beginning of the Clay/Elena story :) But the end... as you say, probably because we know what happens...

    No, I haven't read Waking the Witch yet... you know what? I think it's because Savannah was never one of my favorite character ^_^; Give me the werewolves and I would be sooo done.

    Leslie - Thanks Leslie :)

    I'll try to review Something About You very soon :) I thought the first two books were okay, but I wasn't wowed as much as the rest of blogland. I think they don't have romance enough...

    I think none of them will ever compared to Twisted Creek ^_^; but I might be wrong... LOL.

    Well it's true!! I didn't read it completely, but I did read some of it... :)

  11. YAY!!! Congratulations to your sis!!! I wish her the best success in all of her endeavors. :)

    Great reading list, nath. I'd love to be up at 10-12 books per month, but I have to work hard to make 8, so I don't know... maybe I need some speed reading lessons. LOL. But the thing is, I do love to linger over the written word a lot of times...

    So glad you liked the Sabrina Jefferies book. I picked it up when it came out but haven't gotten to it yet.

    Also, totally stoked that you loved Magic Bleeds. I have it... again.. haven't gotten to it. I love that world though... I'm sure I'll love it, too.

    Happy June Reading, nath!!

  12. Christine - Thanks Christine!! :)

    LOL, it's not that you need speed reading lessons, Christine... but it's because you're such a busy woman!!

    LOL, hopefully, you'll get to the Sabrina Jeffries and Magic Bleeds very soon!! :) I'm really looking forward to the 2nd installment of the SJ's Hellions series coming out in September. That one sounds great :D

    Happy June Reading to you as well, Christine!!

  13. Congrats to your sister! :)

    I love this: TBR pile - 0.75. *g* And I read the Julie James novel (at least, I'm rather sure I did LOL) but I can't remember a thing about it. (Ouch!) It it the one that starts in a hotel? I'm looking forward to reading your review to refresh my memory. *g*

  14. Congrats to your sister Nath - that's such a great picture and I love your top!

    Sadly, my reading mojo left and has yet to find me - Sybil sent me the ARC of Anne Stuart's August release and I'm hoping I can get to it this week! Just have to stop pretending I have too much to do ;)

    Hope you are having great weather your way this weekend - we're hoping to get in the pool on Sunday but maybe the weather man has it all wrong and the whole weekend will be great!


  15. Taja - Thanks Taja!

    Hey, it's a negative number!! That all that matters right? LOL.

    Ouch, not a good thing that you don't remember much of the story, right ^_^; Hopefully, my review - whenever I write it, will jar your memory :)

    Cindy - Wooohooo!! Cindy is blog-hoping again!! I missed you!! How have you been?!?!

    And thank you :) The top was one of my birthday gift :P

    I hope that you get back into it with the Anne Stuart :P I hope you enjoy it :)

    This week-end was great! What about you?