Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Monthly Reads: October 2011

Finally, I'm done with this post!! Woohoo!! Only two more to go to wrap up 2011 ^_^; The worst is that October was a short month - both because of the number of books read and books reviewed. Sigh, I have a feeling November and December will take forever... But I'll do my best!

I've tried to keep the reviews short, but I was not always successful. Also, I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot... and I'm not sure if what I mean is coming across well. Guess it'll have to do though! Hope you all enjoy the mini-reviews!

1) Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep: B

2) Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy: C-

3) The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan: B++

4) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: B

Last year, Ms Perkins' debut novel Anna and the French Kiss got quite a buzz which got me to pick up the book. While I liked the book, I didn't seem to enjoy it as much as everyone. So I was a bit hesitant to pick up Lola and the Boy Next Door, but in the end, the blurb convinced me and I got curious about the heroine who liked to dress so outrageously. It somehow reminded me of all the trends in Japan. I'm glad to say I enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door more than Anna and the French Kiss :)

I thought Lola was a very interesting heroine - her personality, the way she dressed, but also her family situation. It was fun to see her interactions with her two over-protective fathers LOL. I also liked her friendship with her best friend and the connection she had with Cricket, the love interest. I also really enjoyed Cricket and I thought that their romance was sweet. To my surprise, I also found myself really liking Anna and Etienne who have cameo appearances a lot more than I did in their own book. Go figure :P Another thing that worked for me was there was less high school drama and the focus was really on Lola and her relationships/interactions with everyone.

While I thought Lola was an interesting character, she wasn't very likable ^_^; Some of her actions were very immature and at times, you really wanted to yell at her to make a choice, be decisive. Another thing that really bothered me was how Ms Perkins turned Max into a shitty boyfriend at the end of the book, to justify Lola choosing Cricket over him. I thought it was unfortunate, why not let him be the good boyfriend? He wasn't the perfect boyfriend, but he was a nice guy, accepting to have brunch with Lola's two over-protective fathers every week-end, and so on. I thought the change in his character was too sudden and unnecessary.

Still, I enjoyed this book and it kept me engaged :) I'll definitively read Ms Perkins again!

5) Angels of Darkness: C

Angel's Wolf by Nalini Singh:  B
This was my favorite entry in the anthology. I really liked the H/H and how the romance progressed. The story was also quite interesting and I liked that Nimra was different from the other angels we've met so far in the series. The biggest issue that I had with this book is the once again forced darkness atmosphere that the author tried to create. Noel is recovering from a very traumatic incident and yet, I didn't feel it in his characterization. It was mentioned many times and Ms Singh tried, but it just didn't take for me.

Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews: D
Ugh. I love, love, love Ms Andrews' writing and her Kate Daniels series? I can't get enough, seriously. However, I always have the same problem with her: the world building. I found the world building confusing in Alphas: Origins, hard to visualize. The characters are also supposed to be real bad-asses and I supposed they are... but at the same time, I didn't connect with them, didn't find them likable. Perhaps if the story had been longer, more development... but as it is, I have difficulty buying the H/H budding feelings for each other ^_^; All in all,  the whole novella just felt flat for me

Ascension by Meljean Brook: B-
Nice short story. I thought the case the Guardians were working was way more interesting than the H/H. They have been introduced in previous books, but not much was known about them and their development in this novella was obviously limited. Added in a prior relationship that didn't work out and everyone ends up with lots of baggage. But as I say, the story was very interesting and it makes you realize how fine the line is between Guardians and demons and the fact that they cannot hurt humans? Well that just makes things a lot more complicated and dangerous for them :)

6) Bring Me Home for Christmas by Robyn Carr: C+

7) Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves: B-

Heartstrings and Diamond Rings was a pretty good book, solid... better than Ms Graves' previous release, Black Ties and Lullabies in my opinion. I could actually understand Alison's urge to get married, her worries not finding Mr. Right and not being able to start her family soon. I do think she was a bit too obsessed about it and worried too much, but still, it made sense. It'd really hard to meet people - trust me. As expected in this kind of books, Alison's dates are quite funny LOL.

Thinking back, Brandon's behavior and actions might not have been really ethically acceptable at first... but kudos to him because he really tried his best to matchmake Alison with suitable men. I also liked that he came to care about the business and his clients and I do think he'd be really good at the job because he's quite a good judge of character. Anyway, I liked the characters and the story, but I think it lost a bit of its momentum once Alison started showing interest in Brandon and as a result, I started losing interest. I think the book needed a bit more punch at the end than the usual  "You deceived me" conflict. Still, I enjoyed it :)

8) Snapped by Laura Griffin: C+

I was really looking forward to Snapped after reading Leslie's review, but I wonder now if perhaps I had too much expectations coming into the book. The suspense was definitively the strongest element of this book and was very well done. What didn't work for me were the characters and as a result, the romance. I didn't think Sophie and Jonah had much chemistry together. It felt to me for a long time, Jonah's feelings for Sophie was one-sided. True, Sophie had a lot on her mind, but it didn't look to me like she really reciprocated Jonah's feelings. Sure, she noticed that he was handsome, but nothing more. Also, what annoyed me so much was some of Sophie's actions. Granted, she tried to do what was right and that's a good thing, but she didn't seem to think before acting. And that's what was so frustrating!! When even your friends and colleagues who work in law-enforcing don't believe your words... going to the public might not be a good idea. Especially if you're right because in that case, you just painted a huge target on your back!

If I had liked the characters better, the grade would definitively have been higher.

9) In Total Surrender by Anne Mallory: B

Oh, here is a historical book that I really enjoyed!! I was intrigued by the blurb and picked it up at the bookstore on impulse. Well this impulse paid off! :) I really liked both the H/H. Andreas is the king of the underworld and he has one purpose in life: revenge. The only person he cares about is his brother... but suddenly, this woman is intruding in his life and in his thoughts. Personally, I thought Phoebe was an awesome heroine!! She was oh-so clever and knew how to plan. Loved the way she started wiggling her way into Andreas' household LOL. I also really enjoyed the romance, the way Andreas couldn't get Phoebe out of his mind, no matter how hard her tried :) The storyline was also well thought-out and executed. Andreas' revenge and how Phoebe tried to save her father's company and how these two elements were linked together. I really liked that Phoebe believed in her childhood friends.

The only reason why this book isn't getting a higher grade is because this is the third book in a series and I haven't read the other books and therefore, there were times where I really felt lost, like I was really missing some information. I know it is unfair for the book and the author, because technically, it's the reader's responsibility to read the books in order... but I've read books out of order and you don't always feel this way... and in the end, it really affected how much I enjoyed this book ^_^;

10) Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck: D

I've been burning-out on a lot of genres lately - paranormals, urban fantasy, small-town romances... and so I thought I should start varying my reading a bit more. As a result, I decided to go with mystery, because there are so many series out there! If I like this genre, well seriously, jackpot! LOL.

So I decided to go with Glazed Murder in which the heroine owns a doughnut cafe. Overall, the story was okay.  One of the problems is I never really connected with Suzanne ^_^; I didn't care about her or her situation... and the fact that she's another divorcee... Ugh. Also thought this series was a bit formulaic and the fact it's a first book in a series didn't help. I mean, you have this heroine who has this job and for some reasons, she finds dead bodies and investigate. I haven't read many cozy mysteries, but I've read something similar to this before... and so it's hard to get engaged. Another problem is that I realized I'm not a big fan of amateur sleuth ^_^; Yeah, that's a big problem given that most cozy mysteries have amateur sleuth as protagonist. It can work if the author is talented and clever... but unfortunately, I just think Ms Beck didn't have the elements to pull this one off. There was a definite lack of originality in the setting-up of the book and the execution... Plus, it's hard to believe that people will babbled just because a woman came in with a box of doughnuts ^_^;  So yeah, didn't really cared about this one.

11) A Hoe Lot of Trouble by Heather Webber: C

So instead of continuing Ms Beck's series, I decided to try another cozy mystery... This time though, I went with an author that I knew, Ms Webber who wrote the Lucy Valentine series which I've enjoyed. I have to say this one worked better for me.

What I liked the most about this book is I could feel that Nina, the heroine, had a life :) She's in the midst of a separation because she founds lipstick on her husband's boxer, still living with her teenage stepson who never seems to have accepted her. Her family drives her crazy half the time and she really could do without the noisy neighbors. Okay, so you have another heroine who is a divorcee (soon-to-be-divorcee), but in this case, it works because her circumstances are much more interesting, her background more rich. I thought Nina's relationship with Riley was one of the most interesting element in the book, perhaps because it felt so real. I also thought the mystery was more interesting because there was a lot more to it than a dead body (and at least, it isn't one that Nina stumbled across)... and wow, I sure was surprised at the end by the big twist. Also, I feel like Ms Webber handled the sleuthing better :)

Still the book wasn't perfect. I guess perhaps it's just the genre that doesn't do it for me, but I found myself skimming at times. This book just didn't completely hold my attention.

12) Trouble in Spades by Heather Webber: C+

So after reading A Hoe Lot of Trouble, I picked up Trouble in Spades right away. My thoughts of Trouble in Spades are pretty much the same. I still like Nina, still think her relationship with Riley is the most interesting element of the series. Case is interesting and there's a lot of twists. I think I liked this one better because it was funnier due to Nina's sister. Also, there's a romance looming ahead :)

13) Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins: B

14) A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker: C+

I usually don't read contemporary YA books because I'm not a fan of high school drama... but for some reasons, I found myself picking up A Match Made in High School... Most probably because of the Marriage Education program. LOL, when watching TV programs for kids and teenagers, you often see them being paired and taking care of her fake baby or an egg... well this sounded similar to it :)

Overall, I thought A Match Made in High School was a cute and quick read. I thought the Marriage Education program was well thought out LOL and it was fun to see the students being forced into it. The heroine, Fiona, was a normal teenage girl. She has a crush, is none too happy with her partner and she doesn't let people walk over her. I thought the first half of the book was pretty good, was building up to something... And then everything fell flat when Fiona's crush got a girlfriend. I don't want to spoil the book too much, but at one point, Fiona is accused by her best friend of being selfish and well, isn't that a part of being a teenager? I thought the best friend had as much blame as Fiona... It's just too bad that Fiona started moping around and as a result, not much happened in the storyline. Also, I wished we've seen more interaction between Fiona and her love interest.

15) The Famous Heroine by Mary Balogh: C+

I've been enjoying Ms Balogh's books quite a lot in the past year and decided to pick up this book as it was re-printed. The heroine Cora Downes is a daughter of a rich merchant... after rescuing a duke's nephew, Cora is introduced into Society so she can make an advantageous match. I really liked Cora's personality. I thought she was really fun LOL. I loved Francis as well, the way he dressed up so colorful and the fact that Cora thought he was gay LOL. That was pretty fun. I also liked their interactions together, they had great chemistry. As such, you'd think the grade would be higher... but I'd say the story didn't live up to its potential. With such great characters and all, I thought the story would be a bit more interesting... but instead, it's pretty typical historical where the heroine finds herself in a compromising situation and thus, the H/H have no choice to marry. Plus, the fact that Francis thought himself in love with another woman for so long...

This was in no way a bad book or anything. It was fun to read, especially the situation Cora finds herself in... but I guess I just had really high expectations ^_^;

Books bought: + 21
Books read: -15
TBR pile: +6

Writing these 2 months later is not the best thing to do ^_^; If I remember correctly, October felt like a really meh month to me as shown by the grades. There were some great books such as The Son of Neptune but mostly, the books were in the C-range. I had difficulty picking up books and as a result, I did quite a few re-reads (not listed). I also ended up buying lots of books, but those weren't really the books I wanted to read ^_^; So I ended up increasing my TBR pile.

Okay, I think I've fried my brain, because it's just gone blank LOL. Guess I'm going to sleep now :) Then tomorrow, I'm going to start tackling November...


  1. Good recap of your month, hon. Even if it was a meh month reading wise. Hopefully things get better with November and December.

  2. Ames - Thanks Ames :) LOL, to tell you the truth, I have not even taken a look at what I've read in November and December yet. I know it's a lot in December and that I've reviewed nada... but I don't want to get discouraged LOL.

  3. Oh, I thought you had a better October. You're almost caught up. :D

    My October was an awesome month! I read two of my top reads of the year, and a couple of honorable mentions. *g*

    I really agree on The Son of Neptune! I can't believe I didn't review it... it kind of got lost in the shuffle of other books I liked more at the time, lol!

    And, Angels of Darkness... sigh... we're close on the overall grade, but my favorite novella was the Alphas: Origins... lol! You know me and those dark, sci fi-based, bloody stories. I loved it. *g*

  4. Okay, like three of this books are going into my MUST GET list!

    and I've been meaning to read the Heartstrings book for a while, I'm going to bump it up a bit in the list!

    As for Lola. I liked Anna more though I'm not a HUGE fan of either book. I do like Anna more after reading Lola.

  5. Whaaaattt!!! You’re breaking my heart, Nath! You and everyone else!! No one liked Alphas: Origins! I think I’m in a different universe where everything is backwards. I loved Alphas and The Edge series and the Kinsmen novellas, but I hated the Kate Daniels books, instead, everyone else loves Kate Daniels but has mixed feelings about the rest of their books (and terrible feelings about the Alphas novella). But I love it so much I want to make out with it, seriously, to me it was fantastic. Granted, it has lots of room for improvement, it is the type of story meant to be a full-length novel, not a tiny novella, but still so much potential for awesomeness. I didn’t find it confusing at all or hard to picture, maybe because I was so into the book that my whole attention was focused on the story and I was just riveted by it, so that’s probably why I understood everything and didn’t get lost, but I get why most of the people find it confusing.

    I have a feeling we won’t get more books in this world, though. I think the books don’t sell as well, and the reviews have been kind of bad, if they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to continue The Edge series, I guess Alphas’ future looks bleak… Bummer!

    Did you read Meljean Brook’s novella? You didn’t mention it… I didn’t like the heroine, she was annoying. The hero was sweet, though, and the mystery was entertaining.

    I feel the same about Lola. I liked the fact that the high school drama was toned down, but Lola was really immature, they both were. Once you get to the part where they explain the “big misunderstanding” I was all WTF?! That’s it?! Don’t you guys have mouths? Can’t you talk and communicate? But that, I guess, can be seen as a strong point, because teenagers are immature and have communication issues, so they were behaving accordingly. You just can’t win, because when you have teenagers behaving maturely you always feel like they are unrealistic… But I did like the book a lot, as much as I can like a YA book at least.

    Woops! Longest comment ever! Sorry about that, I'm off now ;-P

  6. Hilcia - Nope, October was quite meh. I think the end of the year, there were some good books, but overall, the feeling was meh ^_^;

    LOL, yeah, just 2 more months to write-up... the problem is in those two months, I read a lot and reviewed almost nothing!!! I mean, I reviewed no book in December and only 1 in November ^_^; Lots of work ahead!

    How could you forget The Son of Neptune?!? LOL.

    I'm glad we're close on the grades for Angels of Darkness. Actually, I down-graded them... I'm too generous LOL. Stingy with As, but too generous with Bs... It was an okay anthology only.

    Alex - Which ones? :)

    I think you'll enjoy Heartstrings. Well at least, I hope.

    I understand why Anna and the French Kiss was so popular... it wasn't so much for the story or the characters as for the setting. I definitively think the book was overrated. So I hear you for not being a huge fan... I think I'll be reading more of this author, although not HC.

    Brie - LOL, I love long comments!!

    Oh, I didn't know you weren't a fan of the Kate Daniels series. What book did you read up to? Seriously, the two first books were so-so only. I only start getting really into the series starting from Magic Strikes (#3) and from then on, the series is really awesome. So perhaps you didn't read far enough?

    Oh I didn't know that the author might have to stop The Edge series :( Personally, I really think it's the world building. The authors have good ideas, but it doesn't translate that well because of the setting and world building. Even Kate Daniels world building wasn't that great at hte beginning... It's only because the series is building on and we're getting familiar that it's getting better.

    To me, Alphas: Origins... I think the setting was too dark, gritty and the relationship wasn't well-developed and that's why the novella/series didn't take off. I'll venture that most of Ms Andrews readers are romance readers at the core who branch out... and therefore, not sure if we're ready for such gritty, dark world if there's not something more fluffy buried somewhere.

    Actually, I did mention the MB novella ;) but I agree with you :) The mystery is what kept me going.

    LOL yeah, they're teenagers and were quite young. Also, there was someone trying to mess them up in the middle. Technically, we see this plot in "adult" books either, so can't totally blame Lola and Cricket :)

  7. Oops! I totally missed that part!! I think I was too shocked by you not liking Alphas that I didn’t pay attention to the rest :-)
    I agree with you about Alphas, definitely too gritty and as you said not for the faint of heart and not for most romance readers, to me the darkness of the story was what made it so compelling and the relationship was just right, different but to me worked perfectly, but I do get that it’s not for everyone. I do hope they keep writing about this world and the Edge, let’s keep or fingers crossed!!

  8. Brie - LOL, it's okay :) I realized after you commented that I forgot to indicate the author of both Alphas:Origins and Ascension. Perhaps that's why you skipped over it? Or it's as you said, too shocked from me not liking Alphas ^_^;

    I think perhaps if the story had been a full-length novel and I've got to know the characters more, I would have come to like it... but as it was, it was just meh.