Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monthly Reads: August 2011

Guess what? I didn't buy any books this week! Didn't even step in a bookstore. True, I bought most of what I wanted last week... but that's just a detail, right? LOL. As a result, since there's no Hauling Sunday post to write, I decided to tackle my Monthly Reads posts ^_^; I've been lazy lately and therefore, August was never posted. Well I've rectified that today! Yay! Finally!

It didn't take as long as I thought, but I don't know, all the mini-reviews sounds so-so. It's been so long since I've written one it seems I've lost my touch ^_^; Still, it's better than never posting it :) Now, I need to work on September's... Only one week-end left. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, enjoy August!

1) The Soldier by Grace Burrowes: C-

Devlin St. Just is the acknowledged bastard of the Duke of Moreland and has just been given the Earldom of Rosecroft. However, a surprise awaits for him when he gets to his new estate... the bastard child of the previous earl... And then, the urchin turns out to be a girl! No matter, Devlin has experience with children and knows what the child is going through... What he does not have experience with is the child's cousin and guardian, Emmie Farnum. Emmie had planned to take Winnie away, to forge themselves a new life. However, the child has taken to new earl and he is willing to take care of her... What right does she have to take Winnie away then? Except one thing is sure, Emmie cannot stay.

My biggest issue with The Soldier is that it couldn't hold my attention. There were some positive things: I liked Devlin's character and loved his interactions with Winnie - he was just so at ease with her, it was really heart-warming. I liked that we got to see Devlin's younger brother Valentine again. He's quite an interesting character. Unfortunately, I didn't care much about Emmie and the romance ^_^; I thought the overall story was dragging and considering how thick this book is, that is not a good thing ^_^; I just want Devlin and Emmie to get on with their relationship and I think Emmie could have come clean earlier. Then again, facing someone as perceptive as Devlin, she didn't really have to. Also, I'm still confused about Devlin's whole family situations. I know some of his brothers died and one of them left a wife and a daughter behind... but I still don't get why Devlin has never met his niece? Overall, I think if the whole storyline had been tighter and Emmie was less wishy-washy, I would have enjoyed it more.

2) Magic Dreams by Ilona Andrews/Curran POV and Fathers and Sons by Gordon Andrews

3) The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville: C-

Sebastian Iverley is passionate about books, but doesn't care much about women... Until he falls under the charms of Lady Diana Fanshawe and even shares a kiss with her. However, when he finds out the kiss was part of a bet between Lady Diana and his cousin, Sebastian is hurt... and angry. Angry enough to plot revenge.

Lady Diana is a widow of a baron who has always had a crush on Sebastian's cousin, Lord Blakeney, and is determined to marry him. She meets Sebastian during a visit and while he looks nice, he's not as handsome as his cousin, is badly dressed and wouldn't elevate her status. However, after she shares a kiss with him, Lady Diana cannot help but pay attention to him... and then, his situation changes and Lady Diana finds herself choosing him over Lord Blakeney.

The Dangerous Viscount started off well in my opinion. Sebastian was a total beta hero, very nerdy, but interesting. Him going to his friend Tarquin to learn how to dress better and stuff was cute and funny LOL. Also, I think his childhood stories explain his personality very well and why he didn't care much for women. So yeah, I liked him... until he decided to take revenge on Lady Diana. I just thought he should be above that... Then again, he was really hurt and so I guess it does make sense. As for Lady Diana, I loved her family. They were eccentric, but interesting and Sebastian fit well in. Lady Diana though? I didn't like her. I thought she was too shallow... Just the way she judged Sebastian by the way his clothes fit and the way he sat a horse. Then, taking that bet with Lord Blakeney so he would pay more attention to her. I don't understand why she wasn't happier in life, considering she was a wealthy widow... The way she was embarrassed by her family.

I think Ms Neville does a good job at setting up a book - the characters and the setting... It has a lot of potential... Unfortunately, the direction the book takes is where everything goes wrong for me ^_^;

4) Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner: C

The South has been torn apart by the civil war and as a result, Edwina Ladoux has lost her home. In order to start afresh and keep a roof over her and her sister's head, she's decided to become a mail-order bride for Declan Brodie in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado. However, as she approached her destination, Edwina is starting to have some doubts... Especially as Edwina does not know much about cooking, cleaning and children... which were Declan's requirements. Once Declan sees Edwina, he starts having doubts of his own. She's definitively not was he hoped for, but he can't help but being attracted to her. Still, what is he to do with a wife that can't help him? He's already had one running away with a gambler and then, gotten herself dead. So Declan and Edwina decide to give their marriage a three-months trial and see if this can work...

Okay, so I picked up Heartbreak Creek because I've been meaning to give Ms Warner a try. All in all, I think Ms Warner's writing is excellent and understands why she won a RITA this year :) Unfortunately, well, I'm just not a fan of Western ^_^; I just had difficulty getting into the story. The beginning was okay, seeing Edwina and Declan tip-toeing around each other, Edwina facing the 4 kids. She's lucky she had help from her sister!! LOL. However, once the Indians came into the picture, I started losing interest a little. I guess it's simply not a time period I relate well to. I wasn't that thrilled either by the dead wife re-appearing, although it did shake things up a bit.

5) Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park: B

6) Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison: C-

7) Ghost Story by Jim Butcher: A-
Upcoming Review.

8) The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver: C

Seventeen years old Riley Blackthorne hopes to follow in her father's footsteps and become a Demon Trapper. However, the task ahead of her is monumental as there's no female Demon Trappers... and it doesn't help her case when one of her assignment goes south. Things go from bad to worse when her father is killed by a demon and Riley is orphaned. What Riley doesn't realize yet is that she's become a target for some very powerful demons... because Heaven has chosen her.

I really, really wanted to like The Demon Trapper's Daughter... but the book simply felt flat for me. One of the reason is the world-building. It's actually an interesting world, but what I don't get it how it turned that way. There were a lot of references at how it was before, but the big event that change things completely was never explained. Perhaps the author is keeping it for the future, but it just got me confused, curious and frustrated. Also, I would have liked the demons to be explained to me. How many kinds they are, how are they graded, etc.

Then, there was Riley. Not the most likable heroine I've come across. I want to be sympathetic, because she's gone through a lot of harsh events in the course of The Demon Trapper's Daughter; yet, I can't relate to her, like her ^_^; One of the biggest reasons I think is the way she treats Beck - her father's apprentice. She used to have a crush on him and because of their age difference, Beck rejected her and she seems to have a grudge. It's hard because you can see Beck trying his hardest to help her out, especially after the death of her father... and the way she treats him. I think you have to be pragmatic at times and understands... and she doesn't.

So far, I'm not sure whether I'm going to continue this series or not. This book was clearly setting up for things... but it's really vague as what to expect. Some people won't mind, but I need more to be hooked.

9) Texas Blue by Jodi Thomas: B

Duncan McMurray was tasked by his uncle to find three eligible men and arranged for them to travel to Whispering Mountain to be introduced to his three female cousins. However, instead of accompanying them, Duncan goes on an expedition with the Texan's Rangers. Lewton Paterson is Duncan's good friend and is aware of Duncan's duty. When one of the eligible man turns out to be not so quite eligible, Lewton decides to take his place. At first, it is just for fun and to help out a friend... But as Lewton approaches Whispering Mountain, he realizes that he is tired of his current life - being a gambler man, and he'd like to settle down, start a family and become respectable... and starts to make plans.

Emily McMurry has no intention to be married. All she wants to do is help her father taking care of the ranch and so has asked a friend to impersonate her. Meanwhile, she'll be free to come and go and continue on with life. As a mere employee, Emily did not expect Lewton to seek her out. The man is clearly not a rancher, but he wants to learn about the life... and Emily finds no reason why not. Perhaps if she works him too hard, he'll just up and leave. However, Lewton is made of sterner stuff.

There's something about Ms Thomas' writing, it is so gentle and delicate, that sets her western apart. It's hard for me to describe that quality, but even when her books are filled with action, you can still feel the gentleness and it gives a distinct feel to the storyline :) Texas Blue is no exception and overall, I thought this was a cute book :) I liked both characters, Lewton and Emily. I liked Lewton's smoothness, but at the same time, his honesty. The fact that he was willing to learn about ranching and work hard. You can feel that he really wants to settle. I think it was also humbling for him to realize that despite his charms and planning, it's not only a question of wooing the lady that will get him everything. The lady actually has to choose him as well. It was heart-breaking when he was about to give up because he knew none of them were interested in him. As for Emily, I liked her... but her aversion to men bothered me a little. I understand she was traumatized as a child... but after growing up in a loving family with a lot of men, for her not to do the distinction between a good man and a bad one. It was a bit baffling.

The romance between Lewton and Emily was very nice. It was like a flower blooming. Slow at the beginning, they got to know each other by spending time working and then, developed some feelings. Because both were hiding their true identities, it didn't bother me much that they kept their secrets and at the end, it worked out well :) I also really liked Lewton's friendship with Duncan and their efforts to save the man :) All in all, a very enjoyable read :)

10) The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley: B+
Upcoming Review.

11) Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: B+
Upcoming Review.

12) Changing the Game by Jaci Burton: C+
Upcoming Review.

13) Only Yours by Susan Mallery: B-

14) Good Girls Don't by Victoria Dahl: C+

Tessa Donovan might be the baby of the family, but she plays the role of the middle child, keeping the peace between two older brothers. She's spent a lifetime covering for Jaime's mistakes and that's what she does after Jaime sleeps with the daughter of one of their potential business associate, leaving the deal in jeopardy, despite Jaime's protests. She also has to deal with the robbery at the brewery which puts her to close proximity with Detective Luke Asher, Jaime's college friend. Even with her busy schedule, she is determined to explore the sparks between them.

Ugh, okay, very bad recap, but it gives you the gist of the story. In any case, this book has gotten a lot of buzz, a lot of reviews and that's why I decided not to write a full review. Basically, I liked Ms Dahl's writing and style in Good Girls Don't and I loved the hero. I thought Luke Asher was an awesome hero. He's sexy, patient, loyal and caring... He stood by his wife, he stood by his partner despite what it did to his reputation. I can't imagine how hurt he must have been by their actions and the rumors and yet, he let people think what they wanted... I think it takes courage and strength to do what he did. What brought down the grade for me was the heroine, Tessa. I just couldn't stand her. I know she wanted the best for her family, but she acted so immaturely and the lies and manipulations. It's really not how a family should be. The worst is that Jaime wanted to come clean. Both her and Ethan kept harping on how Jaime was immature and irresponsible, but they didn't let Jaime be himself, grow up and act maturely. Also, the whole "Madonna-whore" complex kept being mentioned in the book and that just turned me off. Her being "perfect" and a "virgin" was just another lie of her. I don't know, after what the three siblings have gone through together, I expected there to be more honesty and more trust between them. Overall, I think Good Girls Don't could have been a great book, if the heroine had been more likable, less neurotic ^_^;

15) One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry: C+

Jon Adamson is at some loose ends. He sold his business in Canada, rushed back to Australia so he could be by his father's side when he died, but was too late. As a result, he never got closure for the years of abuse he suffered at his father's hands. When his brother Tyler brow-beat Jon into working for him in his custom furniture business, Jon accepts... knowing it's not permanent. He's just passing time while he figures out what he'll do next... but he can't deny that building furniture soothes him.

Gabby Wade is the office manager. She was once in a relationship with Tyler, but had to break it off because Tyler wouldn't open to her and their relationship couldn't continue on as it was... Now Tyler is newly married and Gabby can't help but be jealous of his new-found happiness. Why couldn't it be her? Eventually, Gabby and Jon start their own relationship... but will it end the same way?

I think One Good Reason was slightly better than The Last Goodbye. At least, it was less heart-breaking. Ms Mayberry wrote two well-developed characters that had their share of baggage, especially Jon. I liked Jon and I can't imagine ever being in his shoes. I think he was really lost after the death of his father - the lack of closure. Then, there he is, in Australia... His only family left is Tyler, but they've never been close... and now, he wonders if it's too late, if they've drifted apart too much to ever really connected. As for Gabby, I really admired her for ending her relationship with Tyler. Sometimes, you have to take tough decision. She knew what she wanted in a relationship and Tyler wasn't giving it to her... so she had to move on. Except, she didn't really move on ^_^; She didn't go out and try to find someone else. Anyway, at times, I found her independence a bit annoying. It was more a shield for stubbornness. Also, her first impressions of Jon really rubbed me the wrong way. How she was so quick to judge him, to think the worst of him.

Overall, One Good Reason was a good read, with well developed characters. I think Ms Mayberry did a good job as well with the romance. The characters really got to know each other and they've learned from their past. However, this wasn't a very happy-happy read ^_^; It was very emotion-heavy and perhaps not what I needed at the time I read it.

16) When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James: A-
Upcoming Review.

17) Stand-in Wife by Karina Bliss: B-

Vivienne Jansen is a costume designer in the States and had some free time, therefore decided to go back to Australia to surprise her family. Upon her arrival, she finds her twin sister in a middle of a crisis. Perfect Meredith has separated from her husband and is looking for a new job... in a new town. During the interview, Meredith breaks her leg and she's in a frenzy - if her husband finds out that she was planning to take the children to a new town, he'll sue for custody and will have big chances to win. Vivienne assures her twin that she will keep the secret and take care of the children while Meredith is at the hospital... and somehow, Vivienne ends up impersonating Meredith! However, it won't be easy to keep up the charade when her niece is blackmailing her with the secret and sparks from the past fly between her and Meredith's brother-in-law, Ross Coltrane.

This was an enjoyable category romance. Despite the length, it was quite meaty. We have Vivienne who is helping out her sister and at the same time, dealing with twin issues. Vivienne has always been independent and a bit of a free spirit and therefore, had difficulties being a twin. Added in the sisters were type-cast: Meredith was perfect and Vivienne... was not. This has caused a rift between the twinship that Vivienne now has to deal with. Then, there's Meredith who strayed... Or did she? Can a kiss and some emails be considered cheating? Meredith was tired of being a mom and a wife, she wanted some sparks back in her marriage and therefore, indulged in some flirting... Then again, if she wasn't so controlling, if she wasn't micro-managing everything, would her marriage turned out the way it had? Then, there's the niece who's gotten everything ever since her parents have separated to make up for it... This has made her spoiled and not really nice... Then, there's Ross who's a special forces elite soldier and demolitions expert and he's been injured very severely. He's working himself into the ground to get back into shape and get out there again... wanting to seek revenge for two of his friends. However, can he ever?

Like I said, very meaty book. Was there too much going on? Perhaps, but I thought Ms Bliss did a great job. The only problem I think was the romance suffered a bit. Also, considering that Vivienne is impersonating Meredith and there's a limit at just how far Vivienne and Ross can take things... Even though Ross finds out early about Vivienne's impersonation. I definitively think Ms Bliss could write another book, focusing on Vivienne and Ross romance. I would read it :) In any case, the characters were interesting and well fleshed out. They were flawed and real and did grow up a bit by the end of the book. Oh and the baby, Harry, was adorable!

18) Heiress in Love by Christina Brooke: B+
Upcoming Review.

Books bought: + 15
Books read: -18
TBR pile: - 3

I'm happy with the month, number-wise. 18 is pretty good and I have a negative number from the TBR pile :) Also, a couple of the books did come from my RWA TBR pile, so that's good. However, most of the books were C-range ^_^; I don't know if it was just me... but I don't know, I just didn't connect with most books I've read and found fault with a lot of heroes and heroines ^_^; I'm thinking perhaps it's my mood. Ah well, what's done done, right? :)


  1. Hi Nath. *waves*.

    I liked Good Girls Don't a bit better than you but basically had the same problem you did. I gather that it has been a common criticism - that Tessa isn't the most likeable of heroines. I'm happy to say the other two books in the series are better if you are so inclined. Jamie's delicious and Eric, surprisingly enough, doesn't turn out to be a complete asshat after all. :)

  2. Wow! you read a lot!!
    I'm amazed!
    I think I've tried to read Kaki Warner before but I don't remember which book now :P

    anyway! :) Keep on your excellent reading.

  3. I keep hearing great things about Jodi Thomas but I haven’t read any of her books. Have you read Rewriting Monday? That’s the one I really want to read…

    I love Sarah Mayberry and Karina Bliss’ books, I think I have loved every single one of them and can’t wait till next week to read All They Need. Have you read Second-Chance Family? That one’s by Karina Bliss and OMG what a tearjerker, I love it! LOL I highly recommend it in case you haven’t read it.

    Great post!

  4. Kaetrin - Hi Kaetrin! LOL.

    Hmmm, I'm still debating whether to get Jaime and Eric's books. I was going to for Jaime, because I liked him a lot... Till I read that his heroine was older ^_^; I don't love that trope... but yeah, reviews have been good, so I'm more likely to cave :)

    Alex - LOL, yes, but not as much as you!!

    Brie - I enjoyed Re-writing Monday, but my favorite is really Twisted Creek. Loved that one!! Actually, if you want, you can check out my review archives. I have reviewed both.

    I have to say, there's something about Ms Thomas writing that really sets her apart. I think you'll either like her style or not... If you do, then you're in for a treat :)

    Nope, haven't read Second Chance Family. Is it an old release?

  5. @Nath. Jamie's lady is only 6 years older (and she looks younger than she is) and really, it's not a big issue in the story at all. It certainly wasn't the focus of the conflict - at least, that's not what I got out of it.

    Eric is a real asshat in this book but he is redeemed in the third. I'd say to read the novella in The Guy Next Door before reading Eric's book because, IMO, the novella really makes up the first few chapters (or a really long prologue) of the story. Basically, Eric has a one night stand with Beth Cantrell, the Manager of the local adult store and she mistakes him for Jamie and he doesn't correct her so she doesn't know who she's been with. Knowing that explains some of the choking Eric does in the second book.

    Let me know if you cave and if so, what you think! :)

  6. Yep, Second-Chance Family is an older one but not that old, maybe 08 or 09? I’m not sure.
    Twisted Creek is another one I wanted to read, I’m going to check out your review right now and see if a finally take the plunge!

  7. Kaetrin - It's not so much the age difference that bothers me, but the whole hold-up "Ahhh, I'm older" ^_^;

    It's good to know I should read the novella first! :) I'll most probably cave LOL... the only question is when :) But I'll definitively let you know.

    Brie - All right, I'll check it out :) My first book by Ms Bliss was What the Librarian Did and while it was interesting, I didn't love it... but I'll keep Second-Chance Family :) Gotta love ebooks for that reason LOL.

    I really hope you read and enjoy Twisted Creek :P

  8. So if you're posting your August reads then it's not too late for me to post my September reads. ;)

    Not too many As but I see you liked When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Loved that book! Do you watch the tv show House?

  9. Woa!! 18 - I am impressed! We've actually read quite a few of the same books. I'm a bit sad you didn't enjoy the Kaki Warner book more :-(
    We are on the same page with the Jennifer Ashley book.
    We gel again on Good Girls Don't
    I liked One Good Reason quite a bit more than you did.
    And again we agree on the Karina Bliss book. I think that's the most in synch we've been for awhile :-)

  10. Leslie - LOL, definitively not :) I'm trying to get my September reads this week-end... but sigh, not sure I'll be able to :( Been a busy end of week so far ^_^;

    Yes, I do watch House :) and I'm glad I finally picked up When Beauty Tamed the Beast :) Love the banter between the H/H!

    Kristie - Indeed, I think this is the most we've been in synch for a while! It's nice LOL. Funny that we read so many of the same books as well!

    I remember you didn't like the first Victoria Dahl, Talk Me Down, much. Did you start liking her better?

  11. Great reading month, Nath!

    We read quite a few of the same books, lol! And, I have the Neville and a book by Kaki Warner in my TBR, still! (Sorry you're not enjoying Neville).

    I am SO glad you enjoyed Texas Blue by Jodi Thomas! I really enjoyed that book too. I really enjoy Ms. Thomas' writing -- "gentle and delicate" is a wonderful way of saying it. :)

    I liked Good Girls Don't and One Good Reason a bit more than you did, but I like your take on both books. :) OH, and I look forward to your review of The Many Sins of Lord Cameron!

  12. Hilcia - Thanks :)

    I know! It seems to be happening a lot these past few months that we read the same books :) It's okay about Neville... It was worth giving a try :)

    Yeah, Texas Blue was nice. Still like her contemporary romance better :) Gentle and delicate are the only words that come to mind to describe her writing... it's just so hard to put into words... but her writing is definitively different :) and I love it :)

    Hopefully, I'll get to The Many Sins of Lord Cameron... I said upcoming review to come because I couldn't write anything anymore LOL.

  13. Guess what? I didn't buy any books this week! Didn't even step in a bookstore.

    *GASP!* Who are you and what did you do with our nath?!!?! LOL

    Enjoy your new books!

  14. Oops. The "Enjoy your new books!" should be my comment for your next post on your Sunday Haul. This is what happens when you fall behind in blog hopping and you're rushing to catch up.. *sigh* sorry.

  15. Christine - LOL, no worries! :) I figured it was what you meant :)

    and it happens I don't buy books... not often, but it happens ;)