Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Monthly Reads: November 2010

Do you ever wonder why it's so hard to catch up once you fall behind? Or why is it so easy to fall behind? LOL. Or more accurately, ugh ^_^; So here I am, trying to wrap up 2010 - reading/blogging-wise... and I'm determined to do it :) Okay, so ideally, I should have done it during my time off... but seems my brain really needed a break. Now that it is rested, I'm back in the game!! Woohoo!!

So here is what I read back in November - seems so far away already ^_^;

1) His Sinful Secret by Emma Wildes: B+


2) Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts: B
Upcoming review.


3) Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath: A


4) Rules of Engagement by Suzanne Enoch: C

Bradshaw Carroway is growing restless on land and can't wait to receive his next assignment. Before he leaves, the Duke of Sommerset asks Bradshaw a favor: to return a token to a friend in Tahiti before a certain date or else, a curse might be invoked. In exchange, the duke will offer a safe haven - the Adventurers' Club - to Bradshaw once he returns. Of course, Bradshaw accepts... Eleven months later, Bradshaw is very close to the deadline; unfortunately, Bradshaw is not in commend of his destination. He is supposed to accompany Sir Joseph Ponsley, a famous botanist, and his daughter, Miss Zephyr Ponsley, in his quest for new botanical and zoological discoveries... and of course, adding to Bradshaw's headache is a bunch of aristocratic tourists aboard his boat...

Lately, Ms Enoch's books have been a bit of a miss for me. I enjoy her writing; however, the stories and characters have failed to grab me... So much that I didn't even realized that she had a new release coming out till Lori mentioned it, and you know how out of character that is for me LOL. However, once I learned about this book, I knew I was getting it because it was loosely connected to England's Perfect Hero.

I was glad to read Bradshaw's book; however, Rules of Engagement was not really what I expected. First and foremost was the fact that the storyline took place out on the sea, in Bradshaw's ship. When I read historicals, I expect them to take place in London or in England... I'm actually not a fan of historicals taking place in other countries or during travels or at least, I like to know it beforehand so I can re-program my brain LOL. Something else that bothered me was the timeline of the story. Rules of Engagement actually takes place one or two years before the other books in this series, The Adventurers' Club... They're not real problems, but stuff that the mind has to re-adjust to in order to enjoy the book in my opinion.

Overall though, I had the same problem with Rules of Engagement that I had with the last two books... The adventure aspect of the story didn't really appeal to me and I wasn't drawn to the characters much. The internal conflicts of Bradshaw and Zephyr had potential, both being tired of all the travels and considering settling down... but it was not developed enough to be interesting ^_^; Plus, the romance took time to develop. It remained lust for too long and the chemistry was really just so-so. In the end, I pretty much just skimmed through Rules of Engagement ^_^; I just wished the story would have taken place in London and would have loved to see Bradshaw interact more with his brothers.


5) Our Little Secret by Starr Ambrose: C

When Lauren Sutherland learns of her twin's marriage to the aging, handsome and playboy Senator Creighton, she rushes to Washington to talk some sense into her sister... Only to be mistaken for Megan by the Senator none-too-happy, very-grown-up's son, Drew, and to discover that her twin and her new husband are missing. However, Drew is not the only one to mistake Lauren for Megan and soon, Lauren and Drew find themselves enlisted to solve a blackmail scheme...

I bought Our Little Secret last year, because I enjoyed Ms Ambrose's debut novel, Lie to Me. Then, I thought it'd be a good thing to read the book before her new release, Thieves Like Us, came out. In that regard, mission accomplished LOL. Also, what I realized after reading Our Little Secret is that I know myself and my reading tastes well and so, should trust my instinct more... What I mean is that I knew this book would probably not work too well for me because I don't like politicians in my romance, but yet I still bought it... just because maybe, I'd be wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn't or not too far off. Oh, Our Little Secret isn't too bad, because neither Lauren or Drew is a politician, but the storyline definitively takes place in the politic ring.

Actually, to be fair, the blackmail scheme was rather interesting... except that it took place in the political circle of Washington, where it is expected. That's the problem with the political scene - corruption, secret, scandal, bribery... You know it's there and you know where it's going to lead. Also, I didn't really get why Senator Creighton and Meg felt the need to disappear. It didn't really make sense to me, since they were the ones to volunteer... and instead of working it out with the agents, they just disappeared. As for the characters, I wished Drew was a bit more developed. I would have wanted to know and understand him better. Lauren on the other hand was a bit too much of a stereotype. The good girl, the one who thinks of her career, do everything right and gets engaged to the guy that seemed perfect but who turns out to be boring and not very open-minded. I think the problem is because she was such a stereotype, her character was not really engaging and as a result, I wasn't really drawn to her. As for the romance, there was tension between Lauren and Drew, but unfortunately, no real chemistry. That could be due to the disastrous first encounter they had or perhaps the fact that theoretically, Lauren is Drew's new step-aunt. Yeah, not really cool ^_^; In the end though, I guess I just wished the book has been funnier and there'd be more banter - the reasons I thought this book would overcome my aversion to politics.


6) Untraceable by Laura Griffin: C

Alex Lowell is a PI which usually consists of investigations for insurance claims and background checks... However, once in a while, she'll also help a client drop off the radar and start a new life. When one such client does not get back to Alex, she starts to worry that something happened... and seek the help of Austin PD detective, Nathan Deveraux. However, no body means no case and Nathan can't do much, even if he's willing to help... and Alex is definitively unwilling to give up. Then, there's Alex and Nathan's relationship... when the two first met, there was definitively a spark between Alex and Nathan... but ever since Alex was attacked in connection to one of Nathan's case, he's been blaming himself... and thus, the spark is hanging between them and their relationship is in limbo...

Okay, I thought the story started out well - it was intriguing, suspenseful and interesting... but it started losing steam when Ms Griffin incorporated the romance for me. Part of the reasons I think is that I haven't read Whisper of Warning in which Nathan and Alex met and obviously, there was something between the two. So I felt like I was thrown into their relationship and it really took a while in my opinion for the author to clarify what's been going on. I think that threw off the romance part for me a little and then, there was the lack of intensity. For most of the book, Nathan and Alex didn't seem to be a couple for me. Instead, they were more like two persons trying to figure out their relationship... which is fine in some books, but not in this one. I didn't feel like they work it out or actually talked about it and yet, they somehow are together at the end? Also, there was this disconnection between the characters and me. I don't know if it's because they were introduced in the previous book and so I was missing something about their personality, but I wasn't engaged by their personality... I didn't even understand them. For example, Alex isn't the settling type and some obscure reason was given, but it was never developed, never really integrated in who Alex was. I guess what I mean is that there was a lot of "empty words." There were facts about the characters, romance and storyline that I read, but never seem to be reflected or impact... it was as if it was fact just to fill the pages ^_^;

Finally, I think what saves this book was the intrigue/suspense aspect. I didn't expect the people involved and really, corruption is always interesting in the police force... interesting and scary ^_^; Also, there was the introduction for the Tracers... which is an expert unit/system that tries to accelerate procedures and analysis and who are not really the law. While I think the subject was expanded on a lot, it did set-up the future books well.


7) Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath: B+


8) Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb: B-
9) Waiting for Nick by Nora Roberts: B

Frederica Kimball has been in love with Nicholas LeBeck ever since Nick's stepbrother married Freddie's aunt and brought Nick into the family's folds some 10 years ago. At 24, Freddie decides it's time for Nick to realize she's grown into a woman. First she moves to New York City and then, convinces him she's the lyricist he needs for his music. However, it'll take some more efforts to convince Nick that she's the perfect person to share his life...

Ugh, I'm really bad with synopsis today ^_^; Anyway, Waiting for Nick is part of la Nora's Stanislaski series and one of her earlier category romances. What I like about picking up a Nora Roberts to read is you know exactly what you'll get :) Great writing and a solid romance. Seriously, I was in the mood for a contemporary romance and nothing would do... but once I picked up this book, it was perfect. It's her writing style, there's just something about it that hits the right spot :)

Okay, more about the book itself. I read this because Monroe convinced Ames to read it and Ames enjoyed it so much. It's a friends to lovers theme and very well done. First, the characters are very likable and easy to relate. Freddie is a fun girl and radiates her joie de vivre. She's confident and that comes from this huge family of hers and knowing that she is loved. At 24, she's flying out of the nest, making her way in life and she knows that she wants Nick. What I like about her is that she's self-assured, but without being cocky about it. She's simply comfortable in her skin :) As for Nick, he was a nice hero. It was fun to see him realized that his Freddie has grown up and to realize his feelings. He's a guy, guy - grumpy when he wakes up, happy when he's fed, frustrated when he's stuck in his work, charming when he's at the bar... and his past give him the depth necessary to be more :) And then, these two characters come together and you get a very satisfying romance. I also loved all the family interactions and seeing the O'Hurleys :P


10) Considering Kate by Nora Roberts: B+

Kate Stanislaski Kimball had a great and satisfying career as a ballerina, but has decided to move on. She's returned home and has purchased the building she's always dreamed about to open a dance school. However, it requires some work before it can be ready and that's where Brody O'Connell comes in. Brody is a single father and has moved back to his hometown so his parents could help him with Jack who is 6... Soon, Brody finds himself attracted to Kate, but reluctant to start a new relationship because his priority is Jack, but also because Kate comes from a wealthy family, like his deceased wife. While he loved his wife, they did have their share of difficulties and he's not sure he can go through them again with Kate. As for Kate, she is known to go after what she wants and in this case, it's Brody and Jack.

To my biggest surprise - and I don't know why - I ended up enjoying Considering Kate even more than Waiting for Nick. Both books share a lot of common elements: the great writing, the perfect narrative tone, lovable characters, engaging romance and fun interactions, especially when Kate's family is in the picture. Still, I was able to narrow what makes this book stand out and it's Jack :) First, Jack was the adorable but realistic 6 years old boy and I simply loved seeing Brody and Kate interact with him. Even more, I liked how he was an integral part of the romance. I also enjoyed the relationship between Brody and Kate; I liked the fact that the relationship was gradual and there was no real conflict between the two. Yes, Brody was hesitant to start something with Kate, but that was it and seriously, it was indicative of how good a father he was. I really enjoyed the glimpse of Kate's old life and the fact that she had no regrets starting a new one. I also admire Kate a lot; she was confident, very determined and who is always looking forward. I liked how she knew what she wanted and went after it... As for Brody, he was just such a sweetheart. Determined in his own way, stubborn and nice :P So yes, Considering Kate was definitively a book I enjoyed a lot :)


11) The Fiercest Heart by Sharon Sala: B+

Haley and Mack were high school sweethearts, despite the feud going on between their families, who had their whole life in front of them. Unfortunately, on Haley's graduation night, Haley and Mack got into a car accident involving Haley's older brother and resulting into his death. Then, due to some misunderstandings, Haley and Mack each went their own way. Ten years later, Haley learns of her father's death and decides to attend his funeral... and meets with Mack again. The spark and chemistry are still there and soon, Haley and Mack are together again... against someone's will...

 I love Ms Sala's writing and really, The Fiercest Heart is a testament to her talent. I mean, this was a very short story, about a 100 pages, but it packed quite a punch, so much that I shed some tears while reading it...and I was at the bookstore!! LOL. Not only was it an emotional read, but it also had a very convoluted story! All I can say is I really enjoyed this story and even if Haley and Mack got back together really quick, I was fine with it because it just seems natural. Haley and Mack had such chemistry and clearly, they were meant to be together... and so it's just heart-warming to see them grab this second chance and make the best of it. Unfortunately, I couldn't help but notice two errors... one that I actually forgot about, so I guess it wasn't so annoying... but the other has to do with blood types. Basically, someone had a particular blood type and given the parents blood types, it was impossible. I also noticed that Ms Sala did a similar error in When You Call My Name - universal donor and universal recipient. Anyway, it's not something major, but since it's kind of in my field, it did pop up bigger than it was and it did bother me ^_^; Otherwise, The Fiercest Heart is one of the best short stories I've read :)


12) Hallowed Circle by Linda Robertson: C+

Okay, skipping the synopsis, because I don't think I can do the book justice. Basically, Persephone has to participate in a contest to select the next High Priestess of the Cleveland, Ohio, coven. Persephone is definitively not interested in the position, especially since she has a hand in the previous High Priestess' disappearance... at the same time, she does not think that the strongest candidate, Hunter Hopewell, has the right personality to assume the position. Of course, other stuff are going on... such as the fey targeting Persephone and her beloved - her grandmother and foster daughter... her complicated relationship with Johnny the werewolf and lead singer of a popular band, her bond with vampire Menessos and the fact that she's The Lustrata - something to do with Lady of Justice.

So yeah, this series is not really shaping up like I'd like it to. Basically, I picked up this series because I wanted to read something with witches and sorcery... and in the end, there's just too much stuff going on. My favorite part of the book was Persephone competing for the position of High Priestess and really, I would have loved for this part to be more, to be the only plot of Hallowed Circle. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I didn't mind the growing relationship between Persephone and Johnny - I actually like Johnny. But I feel like it's coming along really slowly and that Persephone is really confused. She doesn't know her mind and is wavering from one side to another and I don't know, I just don't feel like there's real chemistry or connection between the two, although I'm still rooting for Johnny and glad that at the end, she does accept him. One relationship that I'm liking is Persephone and her grandmother, the growing understanding between them. That's nice and rewarding.

What I didn't like is the part involving Menessos. Part of it is I skimmed a bit through Vicious Circle and obviously, missed some stuff... another part is I'm just not interested in it ^_^; I do feel like this is the weakest part of the series so far. Then, there's Persephone being the Lustrata... At this point, I'm still not sure what is the Lustrata and I'm not sure Persephone knows more. So I feel that aspect is dragging a little bit... My last problem would be the writing style. I really have a hard time getting into Ms Robertson's books and I think it's because her writing is just not engaging me. Not the right voice for me :(


13) Water Bound by Christine Feehan: --

Okay, for a synopsis, I'm going to refer you to Holly's review and Kristie's review - they're the ones who convinced me to buy the book :) Once again, this was a book I had a lot of difficulty getting into and quite frankly, at this point, I wasn't really sure if it was the book or my reading mood ^_^; I think part of it was my expectations, especially of Rikki's autism. She certainly had her quirks and they were endearing, but I guess I thought her autism would be more severe... The romance was so-so.

Quite frankly, I really don't know what to say about this book. I read it two months ago and truthfully, skimmed through most of it. I just wasn't engaged and perhaps it was my reading mood as I mentioned earlier or perhaps it's just that I'm not clicking with Ms Feehan's writing, which quite frankly, I'm not surprised ^_^; At this point, I don't remember much of the storyline and as such, I don't feel comfortable grading this book.


14) Our Wicked Mistake by Emma Wildes: B


15) Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey: B

Keri Daniels and Joe Kowalski were high school sweethearts, but life took them in different direction and when Keri left, Joe took it really hard. Years later, Joe has become a bestseller author who really values his privacy while Keri is an editor in LA for a magazine. In order to keep her job, Keri needs to shine a light on Joe's life... and Joe is willing to give Keri the interview she needs, but in exchange, she has to accompany the Kowalski on their annual camping trip.

This was really a cute and fun story. There was a lot going on in addition to the romance between Keri and Joe, such as his twin sister and brother marital problems, but overall it was very well balanced. The Kowalski clan is a big and noisy family who are not afraid to get down and dirty and know how to enjoy themselves. I like the whole family and their interactions, it was a great backdrop for the story to take place. Add in the camping and it was just fun. When I first start Exclusively Yours, I wasn't sure how I would like Keri, because I don't like reporters, but Keri turned out fine. I like how realistic the relationship between Keri and Joe was, when they were high school sweethearts but also in the present. Yes, it's unfortunate that their couple didn't last when they were younger, but it was just a matter of two people wanting different things... and there's nothing wrong about that. If they had compromised, they would not be the person they are now. The obvious attraction between them did bother me a little... I just wished they've gotten to know the new "them" without being distracted by lust. Still, I enjoyed this book a lot and am looking forward to reading more of Ms Stacey's in the future :)


16) The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie: B+
Upcoming review.


17) Changes by Jim Butcher: B
Upcoming review.


18) A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh: B
Upcoming review.


19) The Husband List by Victoria Alexander: B-

Lady Gillian Marley is a widow. While she loved her husband dearly and it devastated her when he passed away, the reality is that he died before inheriting his title; therefore she was left with nothing and has become the "poor" relation of her her family, the Effingtons. Lady Gillian yearns for independence which is within reach when her great-uncle from America makes her the sole heiress of his will. Unfortunately, in order to inherit, Gillian must marry by her next birthday, which leaves her only 2 months. Deciding on a marriage of convenience, Gillian asks her two best friends to write a list of eligible bachelors... but only one name among the list seems suitable: Richard Shelton, Earl of Shelbrooke. The Earl of Shelbrooke is in a financial bind, his art an inconsistent source of income and thus, marriage to Lady Gillian would be the perfect solution to his problem... However, Richard quickly realizes that he wants more than a marriage of convenience with Gillian...

Ms Alexander is a comfort author and I'm slowly reading through her backlist :) The Husband List was not her best work, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. I liked the characters and their maturity. I liked that Gillian thought long and hard before considering a marriage of convenience and that ultimately, the lure of independence was irresistible. It's no secret that it was hard to be a woman in those time and therefore wanting to be independent is totally understandable. As for Richard, I liked how he figured so quickly that he wanted a real marriage with Gillian. I also admire Richard a lot for the way he stepped up after his father's death, dealing with the debts, his four younger sisters... I liked that he thought outside the box and worked, even though anonymously, to come up with income. Something else I enjoyed was Richard's friendship with Gillian's brother and Gillian's friendship with her two childhood friends. It's just fun to see characters interact with their friends :P

I thought the romance was okay. I enjoyed it, but hoped for more. I think it's unfortunate that Ms Alexander had to resort to a "secret identity" to move the romance along. I just wished the characters would have interacted more as themselves and work through their issues. However, like I said, an enjoyable read :)

Books bought: +18
Books read: -19
TBR pile: -1


Wooohooo!!! I'm finally done writing my minis, which now that I'm looking at them, are not really minis ^_^; I know, I know, I just can't seem to keep it short. Never have been able to and I don't think it will ever happen ^_^; See, that's why I was dreading writing this post LOL. Hallelujah that I did wait though, because I did end up reviewing a few of them in December. Phew!! Otherwise, it'd probably take me another day to write this post... as it is, it took me two days... Okay, enough complaining LOL.

Wooohooo!!! There's a negative in my TBR pile! LOL, how rare is that?!? :) I'm cheating a bit though because really, The Fiercest Heart should really count for 0.5, not 1... but shhhh LOL. November was my most productive month of 2010 with 19 books read :) It's really no surprise though when you consider the fact that my boss was gone the whole month :P Overall, I'm really happy with my reads... a lot of Cs, but that's because I'm trying to be tougher LOL. I usually give away a lot of Bs when the books are really Cs for me...

Okay, that's it for this post... time to go to sleep :P

7 comments:

  1. I'm still trying to mentally wrap up my 2010 reads, too. Hopefully I'll get my wrap up post up today. But you know me... so don't go holding your breath! LOL

    What a productive month for you, nath! And you read from a nice diverse selection of genres. A lot of B grades, too! Sweet!

    That's too bad about the Feehan one.

    Refresh my memory? Is the Emma Wildes series a trilogy? If so, are all three books out already?

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  2. wow you got a lot read! I read Untraceable awhile back. I remember enjoying it. I think there are other books in that series but I haven't read them.

    I've heard a lot of good things about Exclusively Yours I'm going to have to pick that one up...eventually! :D

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  3. Agree about Untraceable and wishing I had read Whisper of Warning first. I'm going back and reading her earlier books before going on in this series.

    I'm getting the Heath tomorrow! And have both the Nora books on the tbr pile. Maybe I'll pick on of those for this month's challenge. :)

    Do you find that your rating changes after you write the reviews? That happens to me sometimes and I'm not sure what rating I should go with. The one that I felt right after reading or the one that I felt after writing the review. Usually it's lower because I start remembering things that bothered me when I write the review.

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  4. You got a lot read in November! The negative balance is nice to see because you're reading all your new reads...but what about those already in the TBR? j/k!

    The Roberts are always great comfort reads for me. And you nailed the characters right on for Waiting for Nick. Nick was adorable and I loved how not cocky Freddie was. I adored her as a little girl in her parents story and glad that she got her own story.

    Woot, Exclusively Yours got a B from you. I enjoyed it a little more than you did but don't know if I should give it a B+. We'll see....

    I see a number of upcoming reviews. Can't wait to read them! And I like your not-quite-so-short minis. The more words added to a review, short or long, I will read!

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  5. November was a good month for you Nath!!

    Good stuff on remembering enough to do mini-reviews over a month later. LOL

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  6. Christine - LOL, Christine, I have so many posts I want to post before wrapping up 2010, it's not even funny LOL. I bet you could get your up before me :)

    Yep, November was a great, great month :) I'm telling you, all thanks to my boss who was in China :P

    A lot of B grade books, but you should read my posts about Grading system. Although, this time, I tried to be more objective and there's probably more Cs in this post than the whole year LOL.

    Yep, the Emma Wildes series is a trilogy and it's all out:) go get them!

    Mollie - LOL, Mollie, I know. I think November was the best month for me in 2010 :)

    Yep, there are other books in the Untraceable series out already. I don't know, I think I really wasn't into it because of my mood more than the book, sigh.

    Yeah, Exclusively Yours is pretty good :) You should try it out :)Especially now that you have the Nook!!

    Leslie - I think I have Whisper of Warning in my TBR pile... but we'll see when I get to it ^_^;

    Woohoo about the Heath. I hope you enjoy it!! :) and I'm sure you're going to enjoy those NR! Besides the In Death books, you're not a bit NR fan though, right? I can't remember seeing you review one of her standalone...

    Yeah, I do :) It doesn't always change, but occasionally it happens and it has gone both ways.

    Tabs - Yeah, I'm really good at reading the new books I bought. That's why I'm pretty much up-to-date in series :P As for the TBR pile, it comes in handy when I'm all caught up with the new releases... so not often LOL.

    I haven't read Freddie parents' story yet, but I have it :) I just loved the character in that one and I'm glad you agree with my thoughts.

    LOL, I don't know, perhaps Exclusively Yours should have been a B-... Hmmm.

    Yeah, I hope I can write all the reviews I want ^_^; and thank you for reading everything! LOL, how long did it take for this post?

    Ames - Yep, yep! I'm super happy. Of course, would have like twenty, but LOL 19 is good :)

    I'm usually good at remembering what I read and really, that's how I review.

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