Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monthly Reads: June 2010

No Hauling Sunday this week, because I have no new books. Shocking, isn't it? LOL, but it happens... not often though, but it does from time to time :) Instead, I'm going to try to put up my Monthly Reads post for June ^_^; Sigh. I've been putting off writing this post, because I'm really behind in my reviews ^_^; Which means I have to write more mini-reviews/impressions in this post... and well, I can't seem to keep it short, LOL. As a result, I'm really late with my Monthly Reads post, but at least, it's done!

Aside from that, nothing really new with life. It's been quiet. Although I'm heading in a reading slump :( Haven't picked up anything since Wednesday. That's a bad sign... so I've pulled out the big artillery - The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. Oh, and I'm having a relapse in my addiction to Bejeweled Blitz ^_^;



1) Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn: C


2) Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson: B

Persephone Alcmedi is a witch, a columnist and a sympathizer for werewolves. After her best friend was turned into a werewolf back in college, Persephone decided to become a newspapers reporter instead of a lawyer, because she'd be able to impact the world and people's views more than a lawyer. In this world, werewolves are considered as animals, even if most of them didn't become werewolves willingly. They are cut off of the system and have little rights. When one of her closest friend dies, Persephone knows the police won't lift a finger to investigate as soon as they find out she's a werewolf. Therefore it's up to Persephone to find out the killer - in order to see justice, but also to give closure to the girl left behind...

This is the first book in the Persephone Alcmedi series. I picked it up, because lately, I've been into urban fantasy featuring witches, wizards and sorcerers. So far, I like Persephone's character.  Her charm lays in the fact that she is normal. She might be a witch, but it still means she has to work, meet deadline, is driven crazy by her grandmother. She also has not come to term with her mother's abandonment... and so far, as I can see, she's an average witch. What I mean is she doesn't seem to be weaker or more powerful than normal (although that might change). I like her loyalty to her friends, how much she cares and even though she's idealist, she doesn't go overboard with it. She's a good friend and very loyal. Oh and I'm really looking toward the relationship with Johnny!

As for the plot, it was interesting and easy to follow. It was quite perfect for the first book - not too complex, but not without twist. It allowed Ms Robertson to develop the characters and introduce her world. I think Ms Robertson did a good job at not overwhelming the readers with world building details. All in all, there was a good balance with the world building, the characters introduction and the actual plot.At times, I wanted to know more, but I'm sure everything will fill out as the series goes on. My only issue really was the fact that in the end, I'm not sure what a witch does. What does it mean to be a witch in this world, what are her powers, the extent of it? I think that was pretty important given that the main character is a witch and it would have given more insight.


3) Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase: C

Merry McKenzie is a 25 years old nurse who is leaving the nest in order to experience the real world in Boston. She moves in Jason Falconer's - a star baseball player - apartment building that he's just recently purchased. Jason and Merry quickly become an item, but Jason has some secrets of his own and doesn't know how Merry will react to them. Add in the vampire that lives in the basement, the shapeshifters on the first and second floor, the sex operators witches and oh, the ghost on the third; there's never a down-time.... but the biggest problem is actually Jason's noisy aunt Dottie!

I got this book because of the buzz in blogland and it looked and sounded very cute. However, I ended up a bit disappointing. I guess I was expecting something like a sport romance, but it definitively wasn't. Jason's career as a professional athlete was very much glossed over, supposedly because it was the off season. Still, I expect him to train a bit more, have some meetings, anything to do with baseball. As for the romance, everything went very quickly. There was no sexual tension to speak off: Jason and Merry were attracted and the next thing you knew, were an item. The relationship conflict was that Jason was a shapeshifter, but again, that was taken care of pretty fast. On the whole, I think Ms Chase spent too much time introducing developing the secondary characters, i.e. the tenants. Yes, they were a colorful and fun lot... but I felt they took away too much of spotlight, especially given the storyline concerning the noisy and annoying aunt Dottie. Also, it felt a bit too much like setting up for the next books in the series. All in all, it sounded good, but it didn't live up to it.


4) His At Night by Sherry Thomas: B

Elissande Edgerton's uncle is an abusive man, a true nightmare who enjoys tormenting his wife, who has taken to laudanum to escape him, and his niece. Elissande sees no way to get out from under his thumb, especially not when she has to take care of her aunt, until Lady Kingsley knocks at her door. Lady Kingsley is a new neighbor who was hosting a small party when her house was infested by rats and therefore, seeks refuge at Elissande's house. Elissande sees a glimmer of hope; her uncle is away and this is an opportunity for her to meet a man and marry him and does escape from her uncle. Elissande sets her cap on Lord Frederick and  decides to seduce him and get compromised, but unfortunately, his niais brother Lord Vere is always in the way...What Elissande does not realize is that Lady Kingsley and Lord Vere are government agents and the rats were only an excuse to have access to Elissande's house and investigate her uncle.

Kristie devoured this book when we were at RT and that's why I decided to give it a try. I have Ms Thomas debut novel in my TBR pile, but what I realized quickly is that Ms Thomas does not write usual historical romances. Her plots, settings and H/H are always pretty daring and different and they are not the type that suits me :( However, I thought that His At Night's blurb sounded more like something I would enjoy... and I did to a certain extent :)

Elissande was a very strong heroine, she must have been to endure her uncle's abuse. I understand her motive for trying to seduce Lord Frederick and the idea wasn't without merit... the problem though is I didn't think she was very likable. There was a feeling of detachment to Elissande, which probably helped her to survive, but because of it, I failed to warm up to her :( Lord Vere I liked better. He is highly intelligent, but decides to act stupid in order to spy for the government. As a lord, he has more access and people are unsuspecting around him. I liked his back story and loved the love between him and his younger brother. I enjoyed how Elissande and Vere danced around each other :P Each realized that the other was more than what they appear very quickly and the rest of the book was about out-maneuvering the other. It was fun and clever. Unfortunately, when it came down to their relationship and romance, it didn't work out as well. First, there was Lord Vere's resentment, which is understandable. Nobody likes to be trapped. However, he is highly intelligent and must have understood why Elissande did it. He is attracted to her, so why not try to make it work? I guess I wanted more loving moments between them. The plot though, I thought was quite clever with some nice twists. As for the writing, well I understand why so many enjoy her books :)


5) A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch: C

Colonel Bartholomew James was the sole survivor of a Thuggee attack - a group of Indian robbers who always kill their targets. He's come back to England with a survivor guilt and a screwed knee and has taken refuge at the Duke of Sommerset's Adventurers' Club. Except his family has returned to London and the Duke had made it clear to Bartholomew that he does not want them to be beating down his doors in search of the colonel. Thus, Tolly returns home to put in an apparition and meets Theresa Weller, his brother's new wife's cousin. Theresa is the author of A Lady's Guide to Proper Behavior and believes in everything she's written... and is appalled at Tolly's behavior and manners, especially since he was unpleasant purposely. Thus, she challenges him and to her surprise, he responds! Soon, the two are smitten, but unfortunately, some unpleasant rumors about Bartholomew and the Thuggee start to circulate...

Hmmm, I don't know. Originally, I wasn't going to get this book, because the series topic "adventurer" does not really appeal to me. I've read The Care and Taming of a Rogue, the first book, and thought it was okay. Then, Lori read and reviewed A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior and I thought I should give it a try since I usually enjoy Ms Enoch's books :) Conclusion? LOL, the "adventurer" type still doesn't appeal to me. One of the biggest issues I had with this book was simply that it was too similar to England's Perfect Hero. The hero comes back to England, changed by the events he's just gone through, sullen and reclusive... and is then drawn out by the heroine. Technically, I should love this kind of plot, but it just didn't do it to me. I thought Tolly "healed" to easily and I absolutely hate the fact that his words were doubted. I mean, here is a man that went to do his patriotic duty and he comes back home so damaged and have seen so much horrors and everyone treats him like dirt and a liar. Ugh!! So frustrating. As for Theresa, she was okay. I liked the fact that she had good suitors and prospects. At times, her attitude grated though, but it's understandable given her background. There were some good moments, but as a whole, I don't think this was Ms Enoch's best effort.


6) Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep: B+


7) Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas: C
Buddy review coming up with Ames at Breezing Through


8) Destiny's Star by Elizabeth Vaughan: B+
Upcoming review.


9) Oh-So-Sensible Secretary by Jessica Hart: B

Summer Curtis is a straight-lace executive personal assistant, the kind that is always well-put together and scary efficient. She's been transferred to work for Phin Gibson, the CEO little brother. He is outgoing, a daredevil and reality tv star with a lot of charisma, but Summer is determined to not fall under his spell. After all, he's totally not her type. Or is he?

Wendy made me discovered Ms Hart earlier this year and enjoyed Oh-So-Sensible Secretary. I thought it was a cute little category romance. I love the setting - London. That's what makes it stand out for me and the writing is really strong. As for the story itself, it's pretty typical. Summer is Phin's PA and he draws her out a little from her shell. Add in that she has an ex-boyfriend she can't get over, Phin proposes that they fake dating to make him jealous and realize how Summer is attractive... and it works. I mean, it's a light fun read, but to me, it doesn't stand out that much.


10) This Can't Be Love by Kasey Michaels: B


11) Desires of a Perfect Lady by Victoria Alexander: C

There was a time, Olivia and Sterling Harrington, Earl of Wyldewood, thought they would grow old together happily. Then, everything went wrong. Olivia was forced to marry Lord Rathbourne to save her father's reputation. Meanwhile, Sterling was lied to and he married someone else to appease his dying father. Ten years have gone by and Olivia and Sterling are both widow/widower... Olivia's father, worried about Olivia's safety since Rathbourne was murdered, finally reveals the truth of Olivia's marriage and sends Sterling to inquire about Olivia. However, Olivia does not welcome him, the man who has turned his back in her moment of greatest needs. All she knows is that her cruel husband is gone and she is now a free woman. That is, until her husband's will is read... then she realizes that she does need Sterling's help... but nothing more, except a night in his bed.

I usually enjoy Ms Alexander's historical a lot, there is just something about them... However, this trilogy does not appeal to me. I guess it's the whole "adventurer" thing again... Definitively not my type ^_^; Olivia and Sterling were torn apart due to some circumstances and have not spoken to each other for almost ten years. I understand Olivia's pain and resentment towards both her father and Sterling. Both of them were supposed to protect her, but one practically sold her and the other abandoned her. She survived though by steeling herself and now that she is free, she intends to do whatever she wants. As for Sterling, well he went on with life, shouldering his burden and responsibilities, but seems to have lost his joie de vivre. So when Olivia's husband will sends her on a wild chase, Sterling proposes his help and his mother does her best to throw the two together. So technically, I think my problem with this book is the martyr quality to Olivia. It's a bit the same thing as with Elissande in His At Night by Sherry Thomas. Both heroines have gone through a lot of suffering and they survive... but the likable quality of such characters is gone. I guess it's just not the kind of heroines that I enjoy and I should learn to stay away from them ^_^; Personally, I didn't care much about Sterling and Olivia's relationship. It was tedious, always having the same thing argued over. I did enjoy the traveling the characters made. They went to Egypt and Venise. LOL, the bits where the mother accompanies them to Egypt to meet an old flame - that was so funny. Also, Sterling's fear of snake :P So again, some very nice moments and highlights, but nothing standing out really - not the plot, the relationship or the characters :( I might just skip the next book of the trilogy and wait for when Ms Alexander starts a new series.


12) Chimera by Rob Thurman: B+
Buddy review coming up with Leslie at Breezing Through


13) In For a Penny by Rose Lerner: B

Lord Nevinstroke has been living the high life so far, getting drunk, carousing and having a lot of fun with his friends and his mistress. Then, Nev gets a wake up call when his father dies. Nev not only does inherits the title, but also a pile of debts that he cannot repay. Then he comes up with a solution: marry Penny Brown, daughter of a very rich brewer. Penny has no interest in a titled gentleman. She already has someone she wants to marry... but then, Nev appears and proposes and there is just something about this man that makes her heart flutters...

I got this book at RT and was very happy, because I've read some very encouraging reviews here and here. So I was really looking forward to it and now, I understand the appeal of it. I think what makes this book stands out is the characters and their relationship. Nev is sweet and charming. He might not be the most mature man out there, but he is trying to change for Penny, to become a better man and a good husband and that is very touching. As for Penny, she tries her best to be a good wife as well. They both know that Nev married her for her dowry, still they are trying to make it work, to have a real marriage. They are both strangers that somehow got together and they are trying to get to know each other, get the best out of it. I really liked the fact that Nev tried his hardest. It was funny because everyone was outraged that Penny asked Nev not to keep a mistress. Everyone was like: "That little bitch, she gets a title...and she wants to keep you from having fun?" and Nev was like: "She's not like that." He couldn't put it into words, but from the start, there is something undeniable between them. I liked the fact that there was no subterfuge to the marriage, they both knew what they were getting into.  I was so sad when Nev gave up his friends because he thought that's what he had to do to become respectable. Sigh. If only he had talked to Penny about it, he would have found out. Ah well. So I feel that Penny and Nev definitively made the book and I enjoyed them tremendously :) What didn't work so well for me was the rest of the story. The fact that the tenants were about the rebel, the storyline concerning Nev' sister and Percy, etc. I think it was too much and it just dragged out the book. Finally, there is something about the writing. The narration seems to be distant, I as a reader, didn't feel like I was as involved with the characters, but it worked :)


14) Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: A-
Upcoming review.


15) In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady by Gayle Callen: C+

It all starts with the gentleman's club's newly acquired nude portrait of a lady and the rumors that said lady is from the ton. While Julian Delane, Earl of Parkhust is not interested by the lady's identity, he is interested by the red heart-shape diamond jewel - the Scandalous Lady - the model is wearing. Especially since the jewel was stolen from his family and led to his father's death and he has seen it around the neck of Lady Rebecca Leland... Then, when Julian and his two friends catch three young ladies who has come to the club to steal the painting, he quickly realizes that one of them is the model and thus, has the jewel in her possession. Julian and his friends make a wager to uncover the identity of the model... but what really interests him is the Scandalous Lady. What Rebecca learns is that Julian is not the only one interested by the diamond - which she thought was paste, by the way - and not everyone is peaceful about getting it... which forces her to flee London so her family is not in danger.

Hmmm, it seems that Avon's releases have not agreed with me this month ^_^; I picked up this book after reading Lori's review, what can I say, I was curious :P As Lori said, this is pretty much a road trip story and to me, that made this book stands out. By the way, we're not talking about comfort road trip, since Rebecca is running for her life. I did have to throw some disbelief at Julian and Rebecca finding themselves together and traveling, but once I did, it was pretty entertaining ;) Rebecca used to be a sickly child and as a result, she is now trying to enjoy her life at the fullest. Posing for the portrait was liberating and exciting, except that it was never intended to be found in London. Still, Rebecca has no regret and that I liked :D As for Julian's character, well he's a bit typical. He inherited the title at 18 years old and so, he worked hard to make it afloat  and is burdened by his responsibilities and family. He is obsessed by the Scandalous Lady, especially since he believes that his father committed suicide because of it. I didn't think his character stood out too much, but he was still okay. What didn't work for me in this book was the whole mystery surrounding the Scandalous Lady. It wasn't very well-executed and was hard to believe. Also, I felt a bit lost without reading Never Marry a Stranger.


16) Kiss Me if You Can by Carly Phillips: B-


17) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa: B-

Meghan Chase is about to turn 16 years old. Life is not easy when your stepfather owns a pig farm, but luckily, her good friend Rob Goodfellow is there for her. Then one day, her younger half-brother, four years old Ethan, is kidnapped and a changeling is left in his place. Meghan's world turns upside down when she discovers that Rob is not who he appears... He is actually a fey that was sent to keep an eye on Meghan so she never sees the fey world... but Meghan is determined to save Ethan and therefore, they set off for the fey world full of dangers and dangerous creatures. But the shocks keep coming to Meghan since it turns out that she is the Summer Sidhe princess...

Okay, that is a pretty gross summary. I'm sorry, starting to be tired ^_^;  For a better summary and review, you can go to Leslie :) I don't usually enjoy fey and fairies, but Leslie liked it so much that I thought I'd give it a try. The book wasn't bad at all and the fairy didn't bother me too much. I thought the whole thing was quite clever and enjoyed the writing. What bothered me is that there is no sense of companionship in this book. Meghan embarks in a very dangerous journey and as such, there are usually friendships that form and etc. However, I thought The Iron King was lacking that. First, there's Rob who turns out to be Puck... and Meghan is not too sure what he is really. She knows he is on her side, but he is quickly out of the picture. Then, there's Ash, the Winter Prince. Winter and Summer feys are technically enemies... however, Ash seems to have feeling for Meghan. I totally didn't buy it though ^_^; There was nothing to indicate their love, nothing of Ash part at least. Yes, Meghan found him handsome, but I need more! Then, there's Grim... which dunno. So yeah, that definitively lesser my enjoyment of the book. Meanwhile, Ms Kagawa introduces a lot of creatures and very few are likable ^_^; In any case, I don't think I'm going to continue this series.


18) Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas: A-
Buddy review coming up with Ames at Breezing Through


19) Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh: B- (re-read)


Books bought: +31
Books read: -19
TBR pile: + 12


Ouf, I'm done! Okay, I guess I didn't keep it short, but I can't do miracle. I'm pretty happy with 19 reads :D I wished I'd have squeezed in one more though... but perhaps this month :) I bought a lot of books lately, you only have to see my Hauling Sundays post to figure it out... but what can I say? It was all Chapters/Indigo's fault for running promotions!

14 comments:

  1. We've read a lot of the same books and are a letter grade apart on most of them. I loved HIS AT NIGHT for instance. I gave it an "A" and I don't do that very often.

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  2. Nath, no new books?!! LOL!

    I'm behind on reviews too... I think the heatwave fried my review mojo. For some reason I'm just not in the mood. :(

    Anyway, I see we both really liked Love in the Afternoon by Kleypas! Yay!

    In For a Penny sounds good to me, and I'm looking at The Iron King for my daughter... I think she would enjoy it. I don't know about Susan Enoch... I thought about getting this one, but hmm...

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  3. OK, so I'm thinking last month was a dud for book recs from me, huh? You are far tougher than me, I think. I'm pretty easy to please.

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  4. Nice list :) I didn ot even know that Elizabeth Vaughan had a new book out, i am so behind. Can't wait to see your review on it.

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  5. hehe - funny you mentioned Bejeweled. I saw this ~ http://yhoo.it/aI35fw and thought of you. :D

    It looks like the last Kleypas was the best of the bunch. I hope to get to it next month.

    Too bad about The Iron King. :(

    Hope you get out of the reading slump - nothing since Wednesday is sad. Kluger's been good for you in the past so I hope he does it this time.

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  6. Wow, no new books! Are you ok!? lol

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  7. Rosie - LOL, I just saw your monthly reads post :) It is funny, but I guess I'm living up to my tough grader reputation ^_^;

    I'm glad you loved His At Night. I seem to be the only one who wasn't wowed by it...

    Hilcia - LOL, I know. What can I say, there were very few new releases last week...

    Ugh, I know what you mean. I'm trying to review, but June and July seem to have been shot down :(

    Love in the Afternoon was really, really, really good :D

    In For a Penny was cute :) The Iron King is yours if you want it. I doubt I'm going to read the next one, so... LOL, I can send you the Susan Enoch as well :)

    Lori - LOL, yes, I seem to be extremely picky compared to you ^_^; By the way, I hope you don't take it the wrong way when I mention your name and link up your reviews :) Simply, it gives the readers another opinion :)

    Kris - Yes, her new book actually came out in April :) Stay tuned for the review :D

    Leslie - LOL, I have a new obsession, Leslie! Flood-it! :)

    Love in the Afternoon was definitively my favorite :)

    I'm bumped too that I didn't enjoy The Iron King as much as you did :( I really wanted to... but again, LOL, it proves that I really know what I like to read and what I don't :P

    I've started The Last Days of Summer and am really getting into it :D woohoo!!

    Isabel - LOL, it happens... rarely, I know, but it does :) but no, I'm not sick :P

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  8. Oh hey, our grading is about the same for Estep, Quinn, Enoch, and Kleypas (Leo's story). LOL. I haven't been able to finish the Chase book, unfortunately. I like Jessica Hart's writing too. She caught me when I first started reading category romances...and wow I love the purple in the cover. I like bright colors, lol!

    I see two A- there...really enjoyed Love in the Afternoon as well and can't wait for your review on the A- book! YA right? hehe

    No new books? Talk about major shocker. hehe. I am not behind on my reviews, I just haven't done any. Thinking that maybe I should just shut down my blog. LOL. But then again, there might be days that I want to write, just not about books I've read. Ugh...

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  9. Wow! You've had a busy month! I read In for a Penny and His At Night and rated them very high - I guess I connected with books a little better than you did though!

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  10. Course I don't mind, hon! Link away, even if you do give everyone the impression that if I liked it, you didn't. (KIDDING!!) Hahaha! I like that you're tough on books. I think we're at different points in our reading careers, ya know?

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  11. NINETEEN books *bows down*

    Glad to see you've finished the Elizabeth Vaughan trilogy - I stalled after the first. Waiting for your review...

    Li

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  12. Tabitha - Yay! Jeez, I was starting to feel like a really tough grader :D See, told yah, you're my reading twin right now ;)

    Bright colors on covers are great.

    Yep, yep. Review for Love in the Afternoon is coming and yes, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was YA... and review is up! :)

    No, don't shut down your blog! LOL, I'll have to start convincing you to re-open. Just save us the trouble LOL.

    Kaetrin - Well see, you rated them both very high and I graded them the same... so at least, there's some consistency LOL.

    Lori - LOL. Perhaps you're right, we're at different points... or perhaps it's because you read so much or you enjoy historicals more :P LOL, give me some romantic suspense recs and we'll see :P

    Li - Yeah, 19. It was one of my biggest month this year :P

    I'll review it soon :) I really enjoyed it, but as a whole the trilogy was so-so. By the way, did you know that the next book is going to be about Xylara and Keir returning to Xy so Lara can give birth? Except that the H/H are Heath and Attila/Attira. Still, I'm looking forward to it :)

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  13. I was not impressed with Ten Things I Love About You. I gave it a C+, review to come soon.

    You got a good amount of reading in, 19 books is nothing to sneeze at.

    I have His at Night on my to buy pile. I haven't read Sherry Thomas yet and think this might be a good place to start (mainly because of Kristie)

    I see you gave Love in the Afternoon and A!!! This is great. It's on the way in the mail. I can't wait to read it.

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  14. Jill - I know, me neither.

    LOL, same reason for the Sherry Thomas and I absolutely loved Love in the Afternoon. I'm sure you'll feel the same way :D

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