Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monthly Reads: June 2011

I saw two Monthly Recaps on blogland yesterday, so I figured I'm not that late to the party LOL. June was an extremely, extremely busy month for me. First, there were the summer students in my lab to take care, then the clinic day on which we collected the samples. Ugh. We're still not done processing it. Whatever, LOL. And while RWA was a lot of fun and great time, I did not read a lot during. Well actually, I did not read at all LOL.

Given everything going on, I was still able to read 11 books... which wow, I didn't expect LOL. But hey, I'll take it! Here is the list:

1) Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh: B+
Upcoming Review.

2) Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews: A-

3) Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan: C

Love is the Higher Law is about three teenagers/young adults - Claire, Peter and Jasper - who live in New York City and their reaction to the events of 9/11. I find it really hard to summarize this book, because to some extent, it's quite philosophical and so I won't attempt it. Sorry ^_^;

I picked up this book because it was written by Mr Levithan whose writing I really enjoyed previously. I actually had no idea the book was about 9/11 ^_^; I don't regret picking it up, but I have to admit, this is much deeper than what I usually read and as a result, I didn't enjoy it that much. At times, it was very tedious because it's all about their feelings, but at the same time, they don't know how they feel. For example, Jasper knows how he should feel, but he's a bit numb and wonder if it's really wrong not to feel. Another aspect that didn't really work for me is the whole 9/11 event. It's going to sound a bit unfeeling, but the events on 9/11 didn't affect me as much because I'm not American. The newscasts, the patriotism, the aftermath and then, later on, the war. An event such as this one brings together a country... but not the neighboring country... It's like the Japan tsunami earlier this year. It's horrific and the first few days, it's on the news everywhere, but after that... it becomes a distant memory for those who are not involved, touched. It shouldn't, but it is... and 9/11 is the same for me  :( So I think this is another reason why Love is the Higher did not reach me as much.

What I did like about this book is reading about the aftermath of 9/11 - not in a bloodthirsty way. Just, how the characters felt in the few days after where everything was kind of in limbo. How it was, how the community got together, etc. It must have felt so unrealistic. All in all though, this book was not for me. I'm giving it a C for the feelings it brings up and the writing. However, if you want a story about characters, then not much happens :(

4) Hexed by Kevin Hearne: C+

5) Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey: B-

6) Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts: C

After 12 years of touring the world, Vanessa finally returns home - but it is under bittersweet circumstances. She has just lost her father, who's been her anchor throughout her career as a concert pianist, and as a result, wants answers from her estranged mother. Why did she let him take her away, why has she not contact Vanessa after she left? However, her mother is not the only person she will confront because to her surprise, Brady Tucker is also back in Hyattown. The rebellious boy who once held her heart when she was 16 has followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a doctor, and he's in Hyattown to stay...

Lately, I've really been in the mood for la Nora's writing and though I've been re-reading a lot of her books. I came across Perfect Harmony which is a compilation containing Unfinished Business and Local Hero and so bought it, because I have not read either story. While reading Unfinished Business, I couldn't help but think that it was the ancestor of Carnal Innocence as both heroines are world-famous concert musicians and have difficult relationship with their parents. Anyway, Unfinished Business was a typical Nora Roberts short romance: it has good writing, good dynamics between the characters and the storyline is solid. However, as a whole, the book is not memorable. The vibe Vanessa gives off is very standoffish, especially towards her mother. I can understand her resentment at her mother; however, at the same time, I thought that it went both ways. Why didn't Vanessa reach out to her mother? She wasn't a kid of a toddler when her father took her away. She could have come back way earlier, if she really wanted. Also, it was obvious that Vanessa's father was not innocent in the conflict. Redeeming factor of this book in my eyes were the hero and his father. Love the friendship between Vanessa and Brady's father, very nice... and I thought Brady was a good man. Conclusion? A nice book to read, but not one that will leave a long-lasting impression.

7) Local Hero by Nora Roberts: C-

Local Hero is about a single mother, Heather Wallace, moving in a new apartment building with her son, Radley. Radley quickly befriends their neighbor, Mitch Dempsey, who turns out to be the author of the popular comics "Commander Zark" and Rad's idol. Very quickly, Mitch is falling for the son and the mother.. but Heather's been burn in love before and is not ready to commit. After all, she can take care of her son all on her own.

Very short synopsis, but it pretty  much sums all the storyline. What I liked the most about Local Hero was the hero, Mitch. I liked his nonchalant attitude, the way he befriended Radley. It was really clear he enjoyed Radley's company and let the boy knows. On the outside, he looks irresponsible, but looks can be deceptive :) As opposed to Mitch, I didn't like Heather as much. She definitively was a great, loving mother... but as a woman. I don't know, a bit too suspicious of other people's motives, a bit too standoffish as well. Also, I thought Mitch fell in love with Heather a little too fast. I can understand his friendship to Radley, but his attraction to Heather? Still, I liked that the story was focused on the relationship and that Radley was a part of it :) So once again, solid but a bit bland.

8) The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade: C+

Will Killian is a necromancer who's working very hard at hiding what he is from the ghosts as well as the living and hoping that by the end of high school, he'll be free to leave town and start life afresh instead of being institutionalized. However, that's before one of the popular girl, Alona Dare, is run by a bus and becomes a ghost. Suddenly, he has all the ghosts in the neighborhood asking him to help them out, has to teach Alona how to be a ghost and guide her to the light. At the same time, something fishy is going on and Will kept being stalked by a dark cloud...

Okay, it says a lot that I don't really remember what went on in this book when it comes to the action/mystery part of it. Sigh. However, I do remember liking Will. It's hard to be a necromancer, especially when the power seems to be hereditary, and after his father has committed suicide because he couldn't do it anymore. Will's plan is to finish high school and just go away, some city big enough that the ghost density will be less and where his moves and conversations won't be under the scrutiny of a psychiatrist. It's a good plan, but a little lonely. I also liked that Will was a good son, that he cared about his mother's feeling. In contrast, I didn't really like Alona... Seems to be a theme this month ^_^; I know Ms Kade intentionally wrote Alona's character the way she did, but really. I felt Alona was spoiled and superficial. All she cared was being the in the popular clique and the people's perception of her. Of course, as you read the book, you realize that Alona has more depth and that her family is not picture perfect... However, it's really hard for me to overcome my first impression of Alona :(  And because I didn't like Alona all that much, it definitively affected my enjoyment of the book. Also, I have to admit, I'm not sure where this relationship between Will and Alona is going... I mean, yes, when Will touches Alona, she's solid because he's a necromancer... but can that really turn into a romance?

So not really sure I'll be picking up the next book, although it's been getting good reviews. I did like Ms Kade's writing, her voice. It was engaging and The Ghost and The Goth was a quick read. If she would write something else, I would definitively pick it up :)

9) More than a Mistress by Mary Balogh: B+
Upcoming Review.

10) Veil of Night by Linda Howard: D

Jaclyn Wilde is one of the best wedding planners there is and she's worked with a lot of brides... but none as demanding and unreasonable as Cassie Edwards. When Bridezilla slaps her, Jaclyn is just happy to walk away... but even dead, Cassie is causing Jaclyn problem when Jaclyn becomes a murder suspect. Also, the situation is dicey because the lead investigator turns out to be Detective Eric Wilder, whom Jaclyn just had an one-night stand with the night before...

Okay, since this is a Linda Howard book, it's been reviewed a lot on blogland and unfortunately, I won't be adding anything new. I didn't really have any problems with the H/H, they were okay and actually kind of well developed. However, I just didn't feel any connection to them. What bothers me a lot though is the fact that Jaclyn didn't understand that Eric was doing his job. She was so angry at him and it seemed to me since she did nothing wrong, she didn't have to worry about being questioned. He had to cover all his bases and okay, was a bit rude... but the guy was doing his job and later, explained himself. What more does she want? But I think what bothered me the most though is that she gave him the boot after their night together. Talk about mixed signals.

Another reason why Veil of Night is getting such a low grade is that there was no depth to the story. The case was pretty straightforward - no twist, no turn, and the H/H actually didn't spend that much time together or with other characters... so it was a lot of monologues and very little action. That's not a typical Linda Howard book for me. All and all, Veil of Night just didn't work that well for me.

11) The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh: B+
Upcoming Review.

Books bought: + a gazillion
Books read: -11
TBR pile: + (a gazillion - 11)

Okay, sorry, my mini-reviews this month suck ^_^; I think I need to write more reviews, get back into a rhythm. Unfortunately, it won't be happening tonight ^_^; Still, I think my writing reflects my impressions of the books so that's what matters :)

Also, I'm cheating here, because I'm not sure I want to know how many books I added to the TBR pile this month, LOL. I mean, do you count books that you got for free? Because technically, I'm counting the books I bought, right? Plus, some books I've already read... so they shouldn't count, right? Also, I came back in July, so do the books count for June or July? Yes, yes, I'm splitting hair here LOL. I know that before I left for NYC, I bought 5 books and that in the month of June, I read 11 books :) Good enough :) By the way, I'm really happy I made it into the double-digits in June. I didn't think so, the reading felt so slow last month... so all is good :)

So that's it for June! Very soon, I'll be working on July LOL. In the meantime, I should be able to squeeze out a few reviews, so stay tuned! :) By the way, any books in the past few months you'd like me to review?


  1. Aww, I'm sad you didn't like Alona that much because I love her she's so snarky.

    Anyways, I get you about the 9/11 thing. I'm Mexican so it was very foreign to me, I felt (and feel) bad for the people, for the human aspect of it all, but I don't get riled up and patriotic because of it. In fact, I think the whole freedom fries thing was right down pathetic.

    But, anyhow... lol looks like you had a nice reading month, can't wait for your upcoming reviews, particularly about the Balogh books :D

  2. Mmmmm, that's interesting. I didn't like Veil of Night either, but for very, almost totally, different reasons.

    Jaclyn was a little snotty, a little judgemental, but didn't let that really affect how she treated people so I didn't have a problem with that, and overall was a zingy, humorous character. I didn't think we'd be BFFs in RL, but I had no problems with empathising with her as a character.

    Eric now - Eric you say was just doing his job - except he absolutely did not need to be the guy doing the job. There was no real reason for him to be the lead and he had the option of not taking that case - it wasn't like it'd screw his career if he didn't, or that he chose to take it to protect her or anything.
    I LOATHED the conflict of interest and then he proceeded to abuse his authority under the guise of investigating the crime.
    He was an unethical asshole and I get that that was for plot purposes - without it there'd be no book - but if you're trying to sell me romance, having the lead be textually a straight up guy, but actually abusing his power is a serious no-no.

    The weird thing for me is I've seen a few reviews now saying they didn't like this book because Jaclyn was snotty - well, to my mind, unethical trumps bitch EVERY time and it doesn't matter how otherwise charming or protective or sexy the character is written as. He chose an interesting case over the possibility of a romance with her - he knew he was doing it, it's in his musings in the scene, and she's a bitch for being pissed at him and not wanting to continue anything with him? Seriously, just no.

    Wow - I read this a while ago now and I'm still peeved. The only reason I finished it was to see if LH could pull it off. The betrayal thing is a LH trope - it comes up in Dying To Please where the butler becomes a murder suspect and there I thought she pulled it off - but not here.

  3. Nath, 11 books is great for the busy month you had! And, adding a gazillion books to your TBR is about right. :D

    I see you read More than a Mistress. I read it in June and really enjoyed it too. I still haven't read No Man's Mistress, though. I'm so glad you're enjoying Ms. Balogh. *g*

    I have to check my books and see if I have those books by NR... hmm.... :)

  4. Very good month considering all you had going on. And monthly recaps can be done whenever you want cause it's your blog. :)

    I tried the Howard on audio and couldn't get into it. Never did try picking up the book.

    I read and loved both the Balogh mistress books years ago. I'm getting the newest, which is a prequel, this weekend. No idea when I'll read it. HA

    I could go through your RWA posts and count all the books for you, so you could keep your count accurate. ;) Just say the word Nath and I'll do it for you. LOL

  5. I'm so impressed that you managed to read 11 books in June as it was SO busy for you!

    I plan on reading that Leviathan book soon myself. I'm learning that I like Leviathan books when he co-writes with another author like Rachel Cohn or John Green.

    The Ghost and the Goth sounds like a fun YA read.. but I have trouble with ghost stories... especially those that involve the ghost having a real relationship with a mortal.

    Hope you're reading up a storm this month! :)

  6. hey everyone! Sorry for the late replies!! Very busy week ^_^;

    Alex - I think that nowadays, there are too many heroines being snarky ^_^; Just a thought... but in any case, I usually prefer snarky-nice and unfortunately, Alona wasn't. Yes, it is more realistic... but I don't know, I just didn't connect with her.

    Phew, I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling that way about 9/11. The worst is that I'm not really up-to-date in world politics... LOL, the freedom fries was ridiculous.

    Yeah, I have a ton of Balogh to review... perhaps I'll do a Balogh week LOL.

    FD - LOL, well it's good when a book can make you feel so strongly :)

    Hmmm, well yes, there was conflict of interest and Eric should not have been lead in this case... but at the same time, it was "explained" why he was involved and at least, he disclosed the conflict of interest from the get-go. He does get points for that imo.

    I think if nearer the end of the book, there had been more scenes with Eric and Jaclyn together, develop them together, it would have been better. Even at the end, I didn't buy the relationship between the H/H and their chemistry.

    Hilcia - LOL, right? :)

    yeah, I'm glad with 11. Of course, I would have liked more, but I'll take it :)

    Same thing with me concerning the Balogh books. I really liked More than a Mistress... but the other one, I'm just not into it. Now though, the dilemma is to buy or not to buy The Secret Mistress. Hmm. LOL, I know you will... I guess I'll wait for the reviews.

    So do you have the NR?

  7. Leslie - LOL true. I used to be quite on time, but it slipped from me and I never got the rhythm back LOL.

    Hmmm, I don't think that the audio books would be good. I think the book is a bit too slow when you read, so to hear someone read it to you? Nah.

    Let me know if the prequel is good!! I'm debating whether to get it or not :)

    LOL, I actually did tally them all up :) You want to know the numbers? but then, I need to subtract the books I've already read :) Still, to add such a big number to the TBR pile is a bit... I can't say depressing... but too much definitively LOL.

    Christine - Thanks :)

    This was the first time I read Mr Levithan on his own. I think I'll need to check out more of his books before forming an opinion. Did you know that he was actually at RWA? But I missed his workshop, sigh ^_^;

    Hmmm, in that case, you might want to wait a little for The Ghost and the Goth, just to see where the series is heading...

    LOL and yes, I've been reading this month ;)

  8. If you're like me, you get overwhelmed by the number of books you read and to get them all done, you do the small reviews. Only I don't get around to even doing the small reviews so they just sit there - unreviewed.
    I think the only one we both read was Veil of Night and I gave it a much higher grade. I am such a fan of Ms. Howards and other than her real early books, there's only been one I haven't enjoyed. Though for a few there I wasn't that fond of them. But I felt Veil of Night more of a return to her books that I did like.

  9. Nath, I checked my NR books and I do have those books, twice! Once as re-releases in a three-fer book and the original copies. *g* I read them a long time ago, though... and well... as you say in your reviews neither story is the type that stands out over the years. LOL!

  10. Kristie - LOL, I try to do small reviews! These are small reviews! But yeah, so many slip through the cracks ^_^;

    Veil of Night was closer to her usual writing, but still. as you can see, I still had issues...

    Hilcia - Yeah, those pesky re-prints. Sigh. Turns out I have Unfinished Business in another anthology as well ^_^;