Monday, September 13, 2010

Monthly reads: August 2010

Once again, I'm late with my Monthly Reads post and once again, there is no Hauling Sunday, so instead you get this LOL. I think I'm starting to see a pattern ^_^; Seriously though, I'm bored out of my mind... The most surprising is that I didn't even go to the bookstore last week. I know, shocking! My hands are itching to buy some books, but the issue is... Where are the new releases?!?!? If you know, please tell me! LOL. I guess the good thing is that I'm not spending money... that's the only upside. Actually, no, there's another one. Care to guess? Makes me pick up books in my TBR pile. Maybe. LOL.
So, am I the only one having the same problem? I hope not! Anyway, onto my monthly reads list :) August wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I'm having difficulty figuring out what I want to read and reading steadily :( and September seems to be going on the same trend. It usually helps when they are new releases... but yeah, it all comes back to: Where are the new releases?!?!? Vicious circle, I'm telling you :P

1) Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy: C+/B-

This is the long awaited book in the Fast Track series by Ms McCarthy. I think that everyone has been looking forward to Suzanne and Ryder's book; however, I have to admit I was disappointed. The story is basically Suzanne having to give up her charity work and go back to her previous job - wedding planner. She's organizing a Nascar driver's wedding and not only is the bride a Bridezilla, but her ex-husband is the best man. Then, she finds out that she and Ryder are not really divorced - Ryder having failed to appear in court. Suzanne is understandably pissed and wants to proceed as fast as possible to get the divorce... However, Ryder finds out that it's not what he wants...

Hot Finish was the story of two persons that love each other, but sometime, love is not enough. As a book, it was extremely hot - Suzanne and Ryder sure have chemistry - but that was the problem ^_^; Too much sex and not enough story for me. Oh, we are given the reasons why Suzanne and Ryder got married, why they divorce and the problem to their marriage: lack of communication. I wished though everything was a bit more developed, that they worked it out a little bit more so the story had more substance to it. I liked the fact that Ryder has always known that Suzanne was the woman he loved, the woman he wanted... but she wanted a divorce and he also respected that. It would have been great to see Ryder fight for Suzanne a bit more than just go along with her decisions. As for Suzanne, she was a bit of a roller-coaster with her emotions. Definitively not over Ryder and not over the circumstances of their marriage and divorce. I think has Ryder fought for Suzanne more, she would have been more confident.

All in all, Hot Finish was a fast read, but I expected more from this book.

2) Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols: B-

Given some circumstances in her life, all Meg wants is to feel alive and that leads her to some bad behavior. Her latest stunt is making out on the railroad tracks where it's rumored that a teenage couple lost their lives years. Unfortunately for her, she is caught by a young cop, John After, who patrols the place regularly. As a punishment, not only Meg can't go on the spring break trip, but she has to spend time patrolling with John, see another side of life...

Going Too Far is very different from what I had previously read by Ms Echols, but different in a good way. I really liked John After's character. He's a nice guy that cares and that's why he decided to become a cop, although he might have a bright future in arts. Given his past though, it's understandable why he's so obsessed and motivated. Still, there is anger in him, there is a lot of emotions bottled up. I can't imagine how hard it was for him to see all his friends move on to college while he stayed back. As for Meg, it was more difficult to like her. Her attitude was too rebellious for me to bond; however, it made perfect sense once the readers find out what she's gone through. I didn't like when Meg pushed John's buttons, but at least, our cop didn't take it passively and pushed back. I enjoyed discovering Meg and John characters and seeing their relationship begin. I did want more though at the end.

3) Here There Be Monsters (Burning Up) by Meljean Brook: B-
Upcoming review.

4) Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis: B

Nash Brennon and Annie Gallagher were CIA agents working together in Europe as well as lovers. After an operation gone wrong in Middle East, Annie dropped off the earth while Nash went on to A-Tac, an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college.

Annie thought her CIA life was behind her - that was till some terrorists kidnapped her son. Now, in order to rescue her son, Annie has no choice but to take down an UN ambassador. Fortunately, she is stopped by A-Tac and Nash. Eight years have gone by... can she trust Nash with her son's life? Can Nash trust her?

I was in the mood for romantic supsense and therefore picked up this trilogy by Ms Davis, mainly because it was published by Grand Central Publishing. Dark Deceptions turned out to be an enjoyable read. I enjoyed Ms Davis' writing and liked the relationship between Nash and Annie. It's funny how some men can be so obtuse and dense when it comes to love. Did Nash love Annie eight years ago? I believed yes. Did he recognize the feeling? Nope. He trusted Annie with his life, was her lover, but thought the passion was due to the moment they lived in. Meanwhile, Annie was in love with Nash and was crushed the feeling wasn't returned... it made her wonder if she could trust Nash with more than her life. I liked the fact that when the time came for Nash and Annie's confrontation about their past, Nash understood Annie's motives and realized that he was responsible.

The suspense was okay. The problem with CIA agents storyline is that so often, the operatives are screwed by their superiors or other agents. That makes the storyline a bit too predictable at times, especially given that Annie and Nash are the H/H. I mean, neither are bad, neither have betrayed each other or their country, right? So that means a third person did and there was only one person from their past. It's like connecting the dots in a straight line. Also, I have difficulty believing that A-Tac agents would moonlight as college professors... but then, I watched Chuck LOL and I guess it is possible :)

So enjoyable book with great H/H, a good conflict between them and overall story arc. However, I don't know, perhaps it's the CIA aspect, but I haven't rushed to pick up the next two books to read (I have them though in my TBR pile).

5) Deadly Fear by Cynthia Eden: B

FBI Special Agent Monica Davenport is one of the best profiler there is in the business. She understands how dark and twisted minds work, perhaps because she faced one a long time ago. Back then, her name was Mary Jane Hill and she was kept prisoner by the serial killer they called Romeo. However, she survived and made a life for herself, a career. However, everything she built is threatened by Lucas Dante, a fellow FBI Special Agent whom she had an affair with when she was training in Quantico, because he made her feel more than she should. Now Lucas is joining her unit, the SSD - Serial Services Division, an unit specialized to tracking down serial killer... worst, they have to work together on this new case. What Monica doesn't realize is that she isn't only in danger from Lucas, but from this new serial killer as well.

I picked up this book while I was still in the mood for romantic suspense, plus I've been wanting to try Ms Eden's writing so it worked out well for me :) I thought Deadly Fear was an okay to good book. I liked Monica and Lucas characters and their relationship. I was a bit surprised that Lucas pushed for a relationship again so fast. I mean, they've just met again after 10 years. I understood that he wanted to understand why their relationship ended so abruptly in the past... but dude, you guys have been working together for about an hour! Give it a bit of time ^_^;

While I enjoyed Deadly Fear, I had two little issues... and they can be big depending on the reader. The first problem was Deadly Fear reminded me of The Search by Nora Roberts as in the current serial killer is in contact with the previous one, obtaining advices and information. Oh, the storylines and characters are totally different, but it echoes ^_^; My second problem was that I'm getting tired of serial killers whose kills are based on fear. It's starting to be a common fashion both in books and on tv series and it's one that you can tired of fast... and I think that's what happened with me.

Still, I enjoyed Deadly Fear and Ms Eden's writing. I think that the unit shows promises and the blurb for the two next books in the series sound interesting :)

6) The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan: B+
Buddy review coming up with Hilcia at Breezing Through

7) Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings: B

Claire Day never imagined her life would take such a turn. Working as Defense Intelligence Agency analyst at the US Embassy in Laka, Africa, she found herself trapped in the Embassy on Thanksgiving with only Marine Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Weston when the Red Army staged an attack. One year later, the confident Claire is gone and what remains is a shell. She spent three months in a coma and when she woke up, she couldn't remember anything that has happened that day, found out that her best friend had died and somehow, she was involved, suffer from nightmares and anxiety. However, when she sees Dan on TV after an heroic act, Claire becomes curious and wants to find out what happened... and thus, sets out to find Dan.

Dan has had a hellish year as well. He was injured during the attack and had to be discharged from the Marine. The worst though is that he believed all this time that Claire had died that day. When she appears in front of him, he cannot believe it and is determined not to waste this opportunity. He quickly finds out though that he'll have to work hard at it, because someones wants Claire dead.

Okay, sorry, my little synopsis sucks ^_^; However, I don't know how to word it better, so you're stuck with it :) I enjoyed Shadows at Midnight a lot because I felt it was different, what with Claire and Dan having work oversea. I have to admit, the setting and situation are what made this book stands out so much for me. Also, the H/H were great in this book. You have Claire, dealing with so much, re-acquainting herself with the world. She was incredibly strong and that was really important. Dan was extremely sweet and alpha-ish. He had a crush on Claire and wanted to pursue her, but then the bombing happened. Now that he knows Claire is alive, he wants her as his. I loved the way he took care of her - not just protecting, but the small things as well: feeding her, making sure she felt safe or comfortable. He was definitively a winner! The only thing that bothered me with Daniel's character was his lust ^_^; I mean, sure, he is a healthy man and he's been celibate for a year because he's been mourning Claire and well, she turns him on. I got it and well, I'm pretty sure Claire caught on very quickly. I just thought that the number of times it was repeated was distracting.

As for the suspense, it was well done... but at times, I couldn't help but thing it was a bit over the top. The villain didn't seem so smart and was actually quite immature at time ^_^; Perhaps if we had less of his POV, it would have been even more suspenseful? Still, the story flowed well and was enjoyable. What can I ask for more? :P

8) Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber: B+
Upcoming review.

9) Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery: C+

10) And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper: B+
Upcoming review.

11) Homeplace by JoAnn Ross: C
Upcoming review.

12) A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh: B+
Upcoming review.

13) One Scream Away by Kate Brady: C+/B-
Upcoming review.

14) Love Me if you Dare by Carly Phillips: B-

Rafe Mancuso and Sara Rios used to be partners, until Rafe asked for a transfer because the chemistry between them was sizzling and would have led to an affair. At that time, Rafe was engaged and didn't want to be like his father and cheated on his fiancée. However, the engagement didn't work out and now, Rafe finds himself the new feature on the Bachelor Blog after saving Sara's life during a charity auction. The rescue came at a price though as Rafe was shot - that combined with being the newest most eligible bachelor of NYC force Rafe to go back to his hometown for some quiet time.

Meanwhile, Sara was also injured during the rescue and her injury might jeopardize her career. However, Sara has other worries, such as being the key witness to a case where the defendant has all but publicly announced he would get rid of Sara before the trial. Thus, Sara needs to keep a low profile and decide to ask Rafe for help. Soon, Sara and Rafe find themselves exploring their chemistry and nothing stands between them... except for Sara's belief that she cannot do long-term relationship.

Love Me if you Dare is a nice contemporary romance and was exactly what I needed when I picked it up. Rafe and Sara were two nice characters. I liked that the roles were reversed and that Rafe was the one who was ready to get married and settle down while Sara is the one who didn't believe in long-term relationship - at least, not for cops. Having seen everyone in your family be a cop and get divorced will do that to you. I think that Rafe and Sara's background and how they were raised really reflected their beliefs. I thought Rafe and Sara had a very nice chemistry and knew each other pretty well... However, I thought they could have worked it out better instead of just wanting to impose their beliefs on each other. I thought it was a bit unreasonable for Rafe to be so pissed off when Sara said they were friends with benefits. I mean, Rafe knows that Sara has commitment issues and when they started their relationship, neither knew where it would lead. Of course, I have no relationship experience so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about... but I mean, Rafe could have just let it go, let their relationship strengthen and then, win her over. The story took place over one or two weeks - perhaps that's too quick to have someone changes her mind, even though you know the two of you are made for each other ^_^; Also, Sara's behavior at the end was really disappointing to me. Even though you don't do long-term, you still have something with the guy... You don't walk out on him after sex without telling him something!! I was aghast when she just up and left because her captain called her back to testify! Seriously? No goodbye, no thank you for taking care of me, for letting me stay? Rafe had serious reasons to be pissed! Still, I like Rafe and Sara's interactions LOL. I thought the pacing and balance in Love Me if You Dare was better done than Kiss Me if you Can. There is a little mystery that is both funny and light LOL. However, I admit I could have done without Rafe's brother's marital problems. In the end, Love Me if you Dare was a fun book to read.

*Re-read: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb

Books bought: +14
Books read: -13.25
TBR pile: +0.75

Okay, I tried to keep it short, but mid-way through Dark Deceptions, I figured out it was a losing battle LOL. I just can't keep it short and simple ^_^; Not my style. Perhaps if I did it in point form or good vs bad. What do you think?

And I'm still confused when it comes to re-read... Do I count them or not? But then, they're not in my TBR pile to start with, so I guess not... Too bad though cos otherwise, it'd be in the - and not +. Sigh, confusing LOL. Anyway, 13.25 books is not bad... but it could be better. How to do so though, that is the question :)


  1. I've been looking for And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper and I cannot find it at the book store. I'm gonna have to break down and order it online.

  2. Nath, you read some good books in August. Although like me, it looks like you have a lot of B's and C's. ;P Not bad, though.

    I don't know! I'm still on the fence about getting a book by Eric McCarthy. I might begin with another one first. I definitely enjoyed Brook's short story more than you did! I'll wait for your thoughts on that one. :)

    Dark Deceptions sounds really great and I looking forward to your review of A Matter of Class by Balogh. :) And yes... I also enjoyed Love Me If You Dare more than Kiss Me If You Can. I liked Rafe and Sara. :D

  3. You read some good books this month. I have Hot Finish but haven't gotten to it yet.

  4. I still haven't picked up Deeply, Desperately! Ack! Looks like I need to have a Sunday Haul day!!! ;)

    I like paragraph reviews better than bullet or points. I tend to get more out of the readers opinion or overall feel for the book that way.

    Rereads most certainly DO count as books read. You read it, right? Why on earth would you not count it?! Silly, nath.

    Fifteen books is awesome. I'm so jealous. My goal of reading 100 books in 2010 is slipping away every day. How the heck is it Sept. 15 already? Crapola.

  5. PS: I'm with Christine on both points. Paragraph reviews/minis better than bullets (I always enjoy your thoughts, lol), and definitely count your re-reads in your total books read. You read them! Then you can minus them from your total to show New Books Read...

  6. Isabel - Really? I'm not surprised though, because I know that at my bookstore, I would have needed to order it online ^_^;

    I hope you get a copy soon though, I'm sure you would enjoy it a lot :)

    Hilcia - Yeah, mostly okay books. I'm looking for a wowzer :P

    If you want, I can bring it to you :) I found Erin McCarthy's books to be hot, but the storyline to be just okay.

    For the Meljean Brook, truly my problem is that a short story is not enough to explain such a complex world ^_^;

    Hoping I can review A Matter of Class soon :)

    Oh as for point forms, LOL, my point forms would probably be 2 sentences long! LOL

    Tracy - Thanks Tracy :) you did too. I hope you enjoy Hot Finish more :)

    Christine - You have to!! You're really going to enjoy it :)

    Yeah, I think re-reads will count at the end of the year... just not in the monthly post, so my TBR pile number will be more accurate :)

    LOL, you're soo busy!! I'm not surprised :)

  7. Hmmm, no As. Still, a good number and quite a few in the B range.

    I'm one of those that has been looking forward to Suzanne and Ryder's story. Too bad it didn't live up to the expectations. :(

    I liked what we saw of Sara in Kiss Me if You Can so I definitely want to read Love Me If You Dare.

    @Christine - nice to know I'm not the only one that says Crapola. LOL

  8. Leslie - Yeah, no As :( I'm really looking for a book that will blow my mind out!

    I think you will enjoy Love Me if You Dare :D and yes, it's too bad about Suzanne and Ryder's story :(

  9. You have quite a number of Bs there...which is pretty good considering how many books you read.

    Let's see--

    I haven't been able to finish the McCarthy book, don't know if I ever will. Don't think I will ever get the Mallery book -- no desire to read that storyline. While I enjoyed Deadly Fear, it didn't impress me enough that I am looking forward to the next book. I really enjoyed the Jennings book but not so much the Brady book. I might check out the Davis, Harper, and Phillips. Maybe I'll download a sample chapter from each on the Kindle. :D

    My work is now blocking commenting too. Aaaah, they're trying to drive me nuts...and it's working.

  10. LOL, love this post and your recaps and observations! I count re-reads as books read but yeah, it's too bad it's not really logical to subtract them from the books in your TBR pile. *g*

    It looks like you had a rather good reading month in August (IMO) based on the grades. I hope your reading mojo (figuring out what to read) has picked up by now! :)

  11. Tabitha - True, true. Actually, there were a couple of good reads... however, it all seem so far away ^_^;

    Yeah, I know what you mean for the McCarthy. So much sex in it, you have to be in the mood for it. Hmmm, the Mallery book, I say skip it. I thought the blurbs for the next Cynthia Eden books were interesting, so I'm going to give them a chance :P

    I hope you enjoy the Davis, Harper or Phillips. By the way, the Harper was very fun :P It might get you out of your funk.

    Taja - LOL, Taja. Well I've decided to read the Codex Alera series based on your review :P So for this week, I don't think picking up a book will be a problem :P

  12. Uh-oh! ;) I saw the covers on the side. I hope you like and enjoy reading the series at least a bit. If not, I hope you'll still talk to me. :)

  13. Taja - LOL, don't worry. I don't think I'm enjoying them as much as you, but it's okay :) And I'm reading, so I'm not complaining!