Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monthly Reads: May 2011

15th is a good day to post the Monthly Reads post, right? Well at least, it's earlier than last month which is good :) This time, I went about it in a different way. Instead of writing the synopsis first, I wrote my impressions of the books... I almost didn't write synopsis. Ames told me not to bother... but it's not my style ^_^; However, I did try and I think I succeeded at keeping everything a bit shorter :)


1) Hounded by Kevin Hearne: B

2) Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison: B
Upcoming Review.

3) Lady Amelia's Secret Lover by Victoria Alexander: C+

Amelia and Robert Hathaway have been married for 6 years and it seems the passion in their relationship has faded away. Afraid that Robert is given his attention to someone else, Amelia comes up with a plot to reclaim her husband: make him jealous by taking a lover... and she has the perfect man in mind! However, Robert is unto Amelia and concocts a plot of his own... and he also has the perfect candidate in mind :)

This is a novella I've been wanting to read for a long time because I love Ms Alexander's writing :) I thought this was a very cute story, it proves that marriage takes work from both parties and that you cannot be too complacent. I like that both Amelia and Robert wanted to save their marriage and LOL at the plans they came up to. It was hilarious actually that both enlisted the help of Robert's twin LOL. All in all, a very cute novella :)

4) Swept Aside by Sharon Sala: D+

Swept Aside is the last book in Ms Sala's Storm Front trilogy. While the characters are not connected, the three stories have been taking place at the same time. So when Swept Aside starts, we all know that among those four prisoners who have escaped jail, one is actually an undercover DEA agent: Nick Aroyo. He and the other three convicts take refuge at Amalie Pope's house, "kidnapping" her in the process. So throughout the story, Nick has to protect Amalie while maintaining his cover. As for Amalie, she has just survived a shooting at her previous job. She was in a coma for a few weeks and when she woke up, she learned that her grandmother has passed away upon hearing the news of Amalie being shot. All Amalie wants now is to go home to heal physically and emotionally... but the last thing she expected was her house to be under siege by four on-the-run criminals and to have to fend against them. And while Nick has been protecting her... how much can she trust him?

Hmmm, this one is a tough one for me. I think one factor that wasn't in favor for Swept Aside is that I've read the book just after re-reading Angel Falls by Nora Roberts. In both books, the heroines were shot and while they survived, others died. When comparing the two heroines, I think Ms Roberts did a much better job at describing the trauma and how hard it is to survive. In Amalie's case, she has just recovered a couple weeks ago, then learned that her grandmother has died... and now, coming home, she's taken hostage and almost raped and that's the extent of her reaction? If I've been in Amalie's position, I would have been catatonic ^_^; There was one scene where Amalie totally freaked out and that made sense, but afterwards... it's as if what she's been through was pushed aside. Personally, I think the whole story was too much for Amalie to handle so soon after what she's been through... There's strong and tough and then, there's unbelievable ^_^; Also, looking at the big picture, I think the storyline was just too far-stretched for me and ultimately, it affected the romance as well.  I mean I liked Amalie and Nick's characters and under another undercover plot, it would have worked for me... but in this case? Nope. So not the best ending to a very average trilogy.

5) Gobsmacked by L.B. Gregg: C

Mark Meehan came home early from his shift to the hospital... to find his boyfriend in bed with their landlord. Shocked, Mark retreated without a word... However, later that day, he can't stand the betrayal anymore and assault his boyfriend... in church... with a bible. In a small town like Smithfield, it doesn't take long for everyone to find out what happened. Soon though, Mark realizes the real extent of his boyfriend's betrayal... and Mark is not about to go down quietly. And to complicate the situation, Mark's long-time crush, cop Tony Gervase, finally makes a move...

I bought this book during the literary signing at RT last year in Columbus.. and I figured I should read it before meeting Lisabea again this year at RWA! LOL. I heard a lot of good about the Men of Smithfied series and was looking forward to read Gobsmacked. I love the opening scene where Mark hits his boyfriend with a bible... LOL, for the longest time, I actually thought the book was titled Godsmacked LOL. However, Ames set me straight :) I still think it would have fit LOL.

Overall, I enjoyed Gobsmacked. I liked the characters; there was an honest quality about them. They were also genuine. I like that neither Mark or Tony were perfect. They had needs, they made mistakes, they act rashly. As a result, I liked their relationship and thought it was very realistic. What didn't work as well for me was the ex-boyfriend's storyline and Mark sleuthing around, "investigating" on his own. I don't know, I thought it didn't mesh together ^_^; Still, it was a nice book and now, I'm looking forward to the next book :) Which I'm going to get at RWA LOL.

6) Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning: B-

7) First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh: C+
Upcoming Review.

8) Baby, Drive South by Stephanie Bond: D+

9) The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan: C
Upcoming Review.

10) At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh: C
Upcoming Review.

11) Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh: D+
Upcoming Review.

12) Master of None by Sonya Bateman: C-

Gavyn Donatti might be skilled at what he does, unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact that he is the world unluckiest thief. Proof? His latest job. How could he lose what he was hired to steal?!? This puts him in the worst of situation because Trevor is not known to be understanding... and it puts his ex-girlfriend and a son he wasn't aware of in danger. Lucky for Gavyn, Ian, a djinn aka genie, appears to save the day... Is it really luck though? It's clear the anti-social djinn has an agenda of his own... and Gavyn soon finds out how it links to him...

So I've been very curious about this urban fantasy series. First, because it's an urban fantasy series published by Simon & Schuster and they've had some winners lately (Elemental Assassin and Dark Descendants) and also, because this book features a genie. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get into it as much as I had hoped. For me, the biggest problem was the world building. I felt the information was coming in a trickle and when I finally got the complete image, it was a bit too late. I mean, nobody enjoys the overload of information usually associated with world buildings, but at least, you know what's happening, what to expect. In this case, I was as lost as Gavyn and it wasn't very enjoyable ^_^; Also, I don't think Ian was the best person to deliver it. Of course, it made the most sense, since it's his world... but not a very amiable character ^_^; I really felt sorry for Gavyn, LOL.

Gavyn was a nice character, but I wonder if he is really hero material ^_^; The other characters were interesting and I guess have potential, but we'll have to find out in future books. As for the story, I enjoyed the paranormal side of it. However, I didn't care much about Trevor - Gavyn's "boss." I know that part is necessary for the whole book to make sense, but I wonder if Ms Bateman could have found a different way...

In the end, I'm not sure I'll pick up the next book...

13) The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane: C

14) Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen: B
Upcoming Review.

15) Love is a Four-Legged Word by Kandy Shepherd: D+

Madeline Cartwright is a chef and a cooking magazine editor and has just learned, through the lawyer, that her old, sweet and cheap landlord happened to be rich... Not only doesn't Maddy need to find a new place to live, but she is now the guardian of Brutus Stoddard, the mutt who inherited it all - if he survives the next three weeks. Tom O'Brian, the lawyer, is the one in charge of executing the will and make sure that Brutus survives... at the end of which, the law firm will get a hefty bonus, insuring him of making partner to his law firm, right on schedule to his 5-years plan. However, not everyone is happy about the will... and someone really doesn't want to see a dog getting loads of money.

All right, as you can see, from the grade, this book didn't really work for me ^_^; I think the main problem I had with Love is a Four-Legged Word is that Ms Shepherd takes a fairly typical storyline: young woman inheriting a fortune from an elderly man, and doesn't do anything more/different with it. As a result, the storyline is predictable and a bit uninteresting :(

Something else that didn't work too well for me was Maddy, the heroine. She was a bit contradictory in my opinion. When she's first introduced, Maddy comes across as someone competent, career-focused... However, her actions didn't reflect those first impressions and as the story went, Maddy turned into a klutzy and a bit of an air-headed heroine. It's not that I don't like klutzy heroines, I do actually, but instead of being charming with Maddy, it bothered me instead. As for Tom, I thought it was cute how he had a 5-years plan LOL. Also, I liked how smart he was and the ending of the case? That was great, that was a twist I didn't see coming and good for Tom. On a whole though, I'm not sure about their chemistry and their romance. I usually like happy-go-lucky heroine thawing out stuffy hero storylines, but Love is a Four-Legged Word just didn't do it for me. It was an okay read.

16) Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell: B-

Joey Miller and Aaron Chase are complete opposite. Joey is a social worker who believes in his work and he's already fallen in love 10 times in his life. Aaron is a paramedic who abhors social workers and foster care because of his past and who prefers to have no-string attached hook-ups. However, in this case, Joey knows that Aaron is THE one... and Aaron knows that his relationship with Joey is different... Can they work this out?

Ames has really jumped on the M/M bandwagon and one of her favorite authors happens to be K.A. Mitchell. So when Collision Course was offered free as an ebook on Borders, I got it :) It's been sitting in the TBR pile for a while and when I didn't know what to read, I decided this would do nicely :)

All in all, I enjoyed Collision Course. I think it was a very nice story and I like the romance between Joey and Aaron. It's always enjoyable to see someone reluctant to get involved, being drawn in a relationship :) There is such sweetness in it and it really makes me feel warm inside :) I also really enjoyed Joey's interactions with Aaron's family. Aaron had had such a difficult past and despite his rough behavior, it's clear that he loves his siblings... I like that Joey was not put off with Aaron's attitude towards his job :)

While I enjoyed the romance, I think as a whole, the story was lacking a little bit of omfph. Also, while I liked Joey, I don't think I fully understood him. Perhaps it's because I haven't read the first book in the series... Which I guess I should do :) Actually though, I'm more interested in the third book... :P

17) Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn: B

18) Demon Kissed by Patti O'Shea: B-

I'm copy/pasting the blurb of the book because I think it's an excellent summary for once :) And I don't think I can do better ^_^;

Demon slayer Bree Molina has always felt an attraction for fellow hunter Andras. She knew he was handsome and brave...but she's shocked to discover that Andras is a demon, too! That's just the first revelation Andras has in store for Bree. The demon world has put a price on her head--and the only way Andras can save Bree is by making her his mate....

Ms O'Shea is one of my favorite author and so, this was a novella I've been wanting to read for a while :) While Demon Kissed was very short, it was still a satisfying story and romance. I liked both Bree and Andras and they had chemistry :) My only issue with Demon Kissed however is that it reminded me a lot of Through A Crimson Veil, one of Ms O'Shea earlier works. In this case, Bree is the reluctant demon who needs to embrace her nature to survive... Sounds familiar? That is the only reason why Demon Kissed is not getting a B+ instead. Also, Ms O'Shea has created an interesting world inhabited by vampires and demons... I wouldn't mind reading a full-length novel set in it :) Actually, I'm hoping!

19) A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh: C
Upcoming Review.

20) Drawn in Blood by Andrea Kane: C+

Last time they were together, Sloane Burbank and Derek Parker were too stubborn to compromise and therefore, their relationship ended. This time, they're determined not to make the same mistakes because the truth is, they love each other and want to be together... However, their determination is tested when the FBI is investigating the origin of a painting and Sloane's father and his partners are persons of interest.Then,  Sloane's mother is attacked, their apartment robbed and Sloane's father tells her what really went on with the painting... So Sloane is keeping secrets from Derek, Derek has to work around Sloane... but neither realize the depth and complexity of the case they're working...

It's been a while since I read the book that precedes Drawn in Blood, Twisted, but I caught up really fast. I think Drawn in Blood's strongest element was its plot - the case. I thought it was very interesting, very suspenseful and also very original that it involved Sloane's father and his partners. The fact that it had to do with her father and men she considers her uncles added another layers in my opinion. In any case, very complex case with multiple layers... All I have to say is that the mafia can be scary... and never, never, never get into their bad side. Oh and revenge is indeed a dish best served cold ^_^; One thing that actually bothered me though with the whole Chinese mafia is the mix of Cantonese and Mandarin. If these people are from Hong Kong, then they speak Cantonese... Contrarily to popular belief, not every Hong Kong person is fluent in Mandarin... actually, they aren't. Anyway, just a very small detail considering how good of a job Ms Kane did.

I wouldn't say that Drawn in Blood is a romantic suspense novel. To me, it felt more like mystery/thriller book with a strong romance thread. Yeah, very slim difference, but it is there. The thing is Sloane and Derek are a couple now and are taking steps to move in together, build a life together. So it's not a matter of falling in love, but more working out the kinks of their relationship... and considering that Derek is part of the FBI and Sloane is a free agent and the case involves her father, there are many kinks. I did enjoy how the relationship progressed though, it's nice to see them work it through :)

By the way, I realized that I'm not much for investigations without rules. Guess I've watched too many cops shows and read too many books with cops, FBI and so on... Too used to procedures LOL. Anyway, Drawn in Blood was a solid book :) But I don't think everyone would enjoy it given the little romance there is and also, the storyline.

Books bought: +7
Books read: -20
TBR pile: -13

OMG, seriously?!? I can't believe it!! Woooohooo!! LOL, I know there were a lot of books from the TBR pile... and most of the Mary Balogh were from a friend or the library... but wow, I'm a happy camper! LOL. I think this is the best I've ever done since I started keeping track LOL. Too bad I know that June won't be as good ^_^;  Now, I just need to start working on those reviews! :)


  1. I finished Just Like Heaven this morning. Such a cute story! It did throw me off when they mentioned Gregory being single. I had to look at when it took place.

  2. Wow! You read so much!!!
    I haven't read Ms Alexander ever, but I like the sound of that novella!
    Thanks for talking about it.

    I also just finished Just Like Heaven, I liked it more than I expected.
    And it was so funny that it happened almost at the same time as Romancing Mr. Bridgerton was happening. It was just cute to see.

  3. Good month Nath!!

    Nice variety and I'm so glad to see some m/m in there too. LOL There was one scene in Gobsmacked I really enjoyed. I think I may have to re-read that book now. hehe

  4. wow lots read nath!!! I wish I could get 10 books read in a month, nevermind 20!!! WOW!

  5. You're doing well! I need to read those Kevin Hearne books. And yeah, more m/m sneaking in there :-)


  6. Isabel - Yay, I'm glad you enjoyed :) I know, it was hard to figure out where the story took place at first :( It'd have been nice perhaps at the beginning, a note like: "this book takes place btw X and Y book" LOL.

    Alex - Yeah, but you read a lot too :) You've been producing big numbers every month! :)

    Not all of Ms Alexander books are great, but I enjoy them a lot :) You should try this novella :)

    I'm glad that you enjoyed Just Like Heaven :) Always better when it surpasses your expectations :)

    Ames - Thanks Ames!! :) Now, if only every month could be like this ;)

    Yeah, I'm proud of myself too. Not only I read books from the TBR, but you're right, a little bit of everything :)

    What's your favorite scene in Gobsmacked?

    Li - Thanks Li :) You should give them a try :) I wonder how much you'll enjoy them!

  7. Any day is a good day to post monthly reads. :)

    Lots of Ds & Cs but the final numbers are great. It's like you're getting your TBR pile for RWA. LOL

  8. You read a lot. And congrats on hitting more of the TBR pile.

    I started the Quinn and didn't get far. Same goes for the Andrews. :(

    I like the grade on Playing Dirty, looking forward to your review of it!

  9. Nath you did great in May! I love your minis too. :)

    I see you finished the Huxtable series by Balogh (hmm.. I think you skipped one?) But, I can't wait for your review of Constantine's book. That's the one I haven't read yet. This is not my favorite series by Balogh, and I remember stopping after At Last Comes Love, which was a disappointment for me.

    LOL, I loved that first scene on Gobsmacked by LB Gregg! That's actually my favorite book by her so far, but then I've only read two.

  10. You posted your May reads long before me (still waiting...). And it looks like a mixed bag for the month but you did read lots of good ones, so yay!

  11. Leslie - LOL, true Les. However, it's cool to have some schedule you know :)

    Yeah, lots of Cs and Ds... I don't know, guess I'm getting harder to please? LOL. Or perhaps I'm trying to be more objective LOL. In the past, I would really hesitate and waver to give Cs you know... I feel that this year, everything is a bit more honest...

    And LOL, yes, getting the TBR pile down for RWA... but at the same time, you know... can't buy books, so where am I going to pick books to read? The TBR pile instead of the store :P

    Tabitha - I think you're definitively in a slump, Tabs. It's really a matter of your mood and even if the books are good, you don't seem invested/interested. You need a change of scenery. *cough*RWA*cough* LOL. Or at least a little break :)

    I hope by the time Playing Dirty is released, you'll be in the mood to enjoy it :)

    Hilcia - Thanks Hils :)

    I didn't read Stephen's book. I don't know, I wasn't too interested... but I did skim through it though :)

    I actually enjoyed At Last Comes Love, but I see the points you've raised in your review. Also, I haven't read many MB... so I guess I don't have much to compare to.

    LOL, i think it was a great opening scene... but it was even better when I thought the book was titled Godsmacked LOL.

    Lori - You're also very busy, Lori! You'll get to it :)

  12. Hmmm tough month, nath. You read a TON, which is always good news in my book. But too many C's and D's! Ouch!! Hopefully June is better.

    I am planning on buying Just Like Heaven and Dragon Bound at RWA.

  13. Christine - I guess as long as I read, I'm happy LOL. Of course, it'd be better to read some good books :) I don't know if it was my mood or what.

    You're such a good girl, waiting till RWA :) That was my initial plan... and yeah, didn't stick to it ^_^;