Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Monthly Reads: December 2011

Yes, I finally did it!! I have completed my Monthly Reads post for December 2011!!!! Finally, I can say that I am done with 2011!!!! Hip pip pip, hooray!!! LOL, okay, so we're in February, but still. I'm so happy, you guys cannot imagine. If you've been wondering why I've been so quiet, well it's because I've been working on this post since the week-end ^_^;

It is quite long and for that I'm sorry. I did consider splitting it into 2 parts, but that would have just delayed me and I just wanted to be done LOL. As usual, I couldn't be short and concise. I had to ramble and I wonder at times, if it makes sense... If it doesn't, well the only reason I can come up with is that I ran out of steam LOL.

So here we go!

1) Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews: C+

After the events of Bayou Moon, Kaldar Mar wants revenge against The Hand for the family members he lost and therefore became an agent of the Mirror. His latest mission is to retrieve a stolen item. His investigation leads him to Audrey Callahan. Audrey is from a family of grifters/cons and has a particular ability involving locks, but all she wants is to lead a normal life and be left alone by her family. Audrey has no intention to help Kaldar... but it quickly becomes evident she doesn't have a choice.

While I love and adore the Kate Daniels series, I can't say the same about the Edge series. Still, I had hopes and that's why I picked up Fate's Edge. I remember when I first started the Kate Daniels series, I wasn't won over by the first two books... it took Magic Strikes to ignite my love... and I was hoping the same would happen with Fate's Edge. Unfortunately, I'm still left undecided.

In my opinion, the strength of Fate's Edge were the characters. I really liked Kaldar :) He was the ultimate con artist in my opinion. Think Neil Caffey from White Collar, but rough and gritty instead of the sophistication :) His persona was also quite fascinating. He was humorous on the surface, but when you scratched the outside layers, you found someone very intense and loyal. The fact that he placed his family above all... In that aspect, Audrey is the complete opposite. She wanted to break away from her family and it was interesting to see that Kaldar didn't understand that. While I didn't like Audrey as much as Kaldar, mostly because she was a wary character and therefore her personality didn't engage me, she was well developed and layered. It's too bad that with two interesting characters, the romance was weak. I just didn't get the sparks between them. Although I have to admit it was funny when Kaldar proved to be a better con artist than Audrey. She clearly didn't expect it LOL.

Aside from Kaldar and Audrey, it was a joy to see the familiar faces of Georges, Jack and Gaston. I loved the interactions between the boys and Kaldar. Poor Kaldar, suddenly being saddled with them LOL. Luckily, he had experience with kids. I liked seeing Georges and his determination... but I found it sad that Jack hasn't matured after 4 years. I know he's a shapeshifter, but I don't think that excuses it. There's just something about his character...

Finally, the storyline was okay. There was plenty of action, but it didn't have me turning the pages as fast as I could. I think one reason for me is that the world building is still confusing, if not weak. There's just so much: the Broken, the Weird, the Edge, the Hand, the Mirror and so on... and all of it is still not well defined for me. The fact that we keep going back and forth between books doesn't help either :(

In the end, I still don't know where I stand with this series. I really don't have the urge to read more, but at the same time, there are some characters I'd be interested to read about such as Richard, Kaldar's older brother... But from what I understand, whether there is more books in this series is a really big if.

2) A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan: C-

John McCann is an ambitious man who has worked hard and is about to achieve his professional dreams. Unfortunately, he'll have to wait due to health issues. His doctor has advised him to change his lifestyle, go for something less stressful... and that's how John ends up the proud owner of Margins, an independent bookstore. While the bookstore is just a temporary situation, John intends to turn it around and that means implementing some changes... The first one would be not to let people linger the whole day, reading in the used books section - especially a homeless man. However, the homeless man, David, is a regular and also John's employee's friend. And as time goes by, a bond between John and David is forged... but David has a lot of baggage that might not fit well in John's plans.

I want to start by saying that A Note in the Margin was a poignant story, but unfortunately, not my type of books. It was just a bit too deep for me ^_^; It focused on the relationship between John and David and while I liked that part, I kept wondering why. Why would John change his life around for David. Okay, I know, he loves David... but why was he attracted to David in the first place? Also, why did David leave his family? Was he suffering from depression? Was he tired of living a life that wasn't his? I know that it happens, that some people just up and leave and sometimes, for no reasons... but I like to understand things and it didn't really happen here. Nonetheless, I liked the relationship between John and David, how they both really wanted and put the efforts into it, even though it wasn't easy. However, it wouldn't be a book I'd read again.

3) The Lady's Secret by Joanna Chambers: B
Upcoming Review.

4) Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep: C+
Upcoming Review.

5) Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder: B-

6) Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski: B
Upcoming Review.

7) The One that I Want by Jennifer Echols: D

I usually enjoy Ms Echols books, but this one really didn't work for me. The story is about Gemma who is trying out to be a majorette because she's being pressured by her "best friend" Addison. Gemma has always been good twirling her batons, but the issue is that she is chubby. So through the whole summer, she's been losing weight in preparation... and she makes it! So during camp, she meets Max' who is the star kicker for the opposite team and has a crush on him. Unfortunately, Max chooses to go out with Addison and Gemma is stuck with Max' best friend... or so she thinks.

Ugh, so The One that I Want was all about high school drama. I really disliked the fact that Gemma let Addison push her around. She knows that Addison is not a good friend and despite everything, remains friend with the girl. That simply baffled me. Sometimes, being alone is better than being with a back-stabber friend. Just saying. So in my opinion, Gemma should had ditched Addison a long time ago, especially since she couldn't be trusted. Then, knowing Addision, Gemma should have known that something was up with the pairing.

As for the rest, it felt like there were issues just to be issues. There was not much that I liked... Gemma was an okay heroine. At least she knew about Addison and was wary, which makes her smart in my book. Plus, I like her sense of individualism and independence. But some of her action really made me wonder. Like her making out with Max' best friend when she's not attracted to him? Why? As for Max, I liked the fact that he was Asian and playing football LOL... but otherwise, he didn't make a better impression than Gemma.

8) Only Us by Susan Mallery: C

Carina Fiore is a pet groomer who works in Dr. Cameron McKenzie's vet clinic. She also takes care of his daughter and their arrangement seems to suit them both. Except that Carina has been in love with Cameron for a while and she needs to either confess or let go. However, Cameron has been burned before and he's not sure it's a good idea to get involved with the woman who takes care of his daughter, even though she's great and attractive. Cameron wants everything to remain the same, but can they?

Okay, let's clear out one thing... It seems to me that once love is confessed, things can never go back to normal. Ideally, it should, but reality is different. There's always a bit of discomfort and embarrassment and I think in that case, distance and time are two good things... but do not let the ball drop. Anyway, I'm saying this because I feel that in the end, Cameron's reasons to turn down Carina was stupid. He doesn't want things to change, doesn't want to lose Carina. After her confession, you really think that she'll stay, watching you going out with other women?!? That's why he should have gone for her instead. In the end, it feels like he only accepted her because she threatened to leave. It puts a doubt on the sincerity of his feelings :(

Anyway. I did enjoy Carina and Cameron's daughter, Kaitlyn, relationship :) And as a whole, everyone was really good people.

9) Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James: B-

Lady Lucy Towerton is engaged to Mr. Cyrus Ptolemy Ravensthorpe, a rich and dashing businessman. When Lucy suddenly inherited a fortune and becomes an heiress, she is urged by her mother to ditch Cyrus and set her cap for a title... but, Lucy is in love with Cyrus. However, after a frank discussion with Cyrus, she discovers that Cyrus only needed a wife with a good background, that he didn't really have feelings for her, and she therefore calls it off.

Cyrus is an ambitious man with plans. He wants to gain back his mother's status, the daughter of an aristocrat who caused a scandal by marrying the family solicitor. Already, he has attained great wealth and has acquired a country estate... The next step is a wife. He has chosen Lady Lucy because she was a wallflower and therefore had not much prospect, but also because she was easy on the eye. After Lucy calls it off, Cyrus realizes the treasure he had under his nose... and he intends to win it back.

Winning the Wallflower was a really cute and charming story :) I liked both the H/H, their personalities but also what drove them. I thought it was honorable from Cyrus to wants to regain his mother's status :) Although he did go to the extreme and perhaps was a bit too focused LOL. Also, I really liked how methodical and organized he was with the Plan! In the end, I think that Cyrus needed a wake-up call and got it when Lucy broke off the engagement. I did like that he went after her, not because of his bruised ego - although there was a bit of that - but because he realized she was a good woman :) As for Lucy, she was really the type of heroine you want to read about. I loved how she finally took control of her life and didn't settle for a pair of pretty eyes. She deserved more and she was not about to settle, even if it meant perhaps not getting married.

The romance was very sweet and enjoyable. Obviously, I wished the story had been a bit longer - isn't that always the case with good novellas? :) Although I do think the novella ended at an awkward moment...  and I'm a bit disappointed though that we never saw Lucy confront her mother.

10) It Happened One Christmas by Kaitlin O'Riley: C-

Ms O'Riley is an author I've had on my radar for a while. Finally I thought I should give her a try by picking up It Happened One Christmas as I was in the mood for a Christmas-themed book. It Happened One Christmas is the third book in the Hamilton series and is Lisette's story. Lisette has been waiting for Henry to be settled enough to propose... and he finally does - just when she meets another interesting man, Quinton Roxbory, a younger son of an earl and a rising architect. Unfortunately, Quinton is also an engaged man... and both wonder if they are engaged to the wrong person.

So It Happened One Christmas was a well-written book, but... it was also a tad boring ^_^; Nothing exciting happened, the tone was a bit monotonous. There wasn't really anything that stood out enough for me to be engaged. Actually, there was - I liked the street urchin's storyline, but in the end, I thought it was superfluous. It was like two parallel storylines that intersect near the end, but with no real connection. I think the problem was that the storyline was a bit too obvious. Yes, I know, this is a romance... but here we are, with our H/H who are each engaged to different person. They meet and there is a connection between them, a chemistry... and fate has it that they keep crossing path. Then you learn that Lisette's fiancée is a stable staid man and Quinton's fiancée, the spoiled daughter of a duke. Right away, you know there's no passionate love between the H/H and their respective betrothed and therefore, no real conflict to stop them from being together. Anything they come up with are simply excuses ^_^;

Another thing that bothered me - and this is me nick-picking - is the fact that people called Quinton Mr instead of Lord. Aren't younger sons and daughters of earl still called Lord? I know it's not something really important, but it seemed wrong. Of course, I might be wrong - in which case, please let me know!

All in all, I'd read more of Ms O'Riley, but perhaps not this series.

11) Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson: C+

Okay, I'm going to skip the synopsis for this one, because I don't really know what to say. Basically, Autumn and Sam met in Las Vegas years ago and a passionate week-end led them to a quickie marriage, a quickie divorce and a son, Connor. Autumn is now an event planner and Sam is a hockey star, playing for the Chinooks of Seattle. A wedding throws them back together and somehow, they start spending more time together and sparks are re-ignited. Only problem is Autumn doesn't know if she can trust Sam again. Guess in the end, I knew what to say LOL.

I've enjoyed Ms Gibson's books in the past, but I have to admit, The Chinooks Hockey team series is not working for me. I can't really pinpoint what is not working, but it goes beyond my dislike of hockey... because I usually enjoy sport romances. Perhaps it's because all of the heroes are pretty  much the same - jocks with inflated ego. Also, the sport aspect has been pretty weak in my opinion. Yet I still bought Any Man of Mine because it was a contemporary sport romances and they are rare these days. And then, it took me a couple of months before reading it, because the reviews have been so-so only.

Perhaps it was due to the low expectations, but I thought Any Man of Mine wasn't that bad. I liked that Sam actually had a relationship with Connor prior to the book. Sure, Sam wasn't going to win any Father of the Year award and wasn't 100% available, but he at least had contact with Connor which is so much more than some fathers. Then, once he realized how much he's hurt Connor by breaking their arrangements, he was genuinely sorry and he tried to do better. Not a perfect father, but a willing one at least and I think that counted for something.

The rest of the book was about Sam and Autumn reconnecting and I thought that was the weak part of the book.  I like second chances story, but I don't really get why Sam suddenly fell in love with Autumn again. Why he wanted to be with Autumn and be a family again. Also, I found it annoying that Autumn would jump back into bed with Sam, but not sure about the rest. I understand Autumn's reservation - she has to think of Connor and also, how Sam treated her the first time around... but in that case, don't start sleeping with him!! I think overall, Any Man of Mine lacked some depth. Had Ms Gibson expands on a few points and this book definitively would have been better.

12) Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare: B-

This is a novella part of Ms Dare's new series. Violet Winterbottom has been hiding in Spindle Cove after her heart has been broken. However, she's about to return to London and have another Season per her family's demands. There is a dance before the night she leaves and Violet attends... but the dance is interrupted when a man, wet and injured, barged in the ballroom and literally falls at Violet's feet. The man is not English and because Violet is the only one who seems to understand him, she is tasked to find out more about him while the militia prepares for an attack.

Okay, so my impression of Once Upon a Winter's Eve is it was better than the first book in the Spindle Cove series, A Night to Surrender. The storyline was more appealing and more exciting in my opinion - although a bit more far-fetched ^_^; I liked Violet, her story and her relationship with the hero.  As for the hero, what he did to Violet was unforgivable really, no matter the pain and grief he felt... but I guess he redeemed himself by risking his mission and reaching out for Violet. Overall, a nice novella.

13) A Rare Gift by Jaci Burton: B-

This was a freebie I got from Harlequin for Christmas. Wyatt Kent is still reeling from his divorce with his ex and it's been already two years. Then, he suddenly finds himself working in close proximity of his ex-sister-in-law Calliope... and Wyatt is attracted! However, no matter how different Calliope is, he's not ready to embark in another relationship... But Calliope intends to make him see reason!

I think having H/H who were ex-in-laws falling in love with each other is always a bit iffy and so authors have to thread carefully to make it work. In the case of A Rare Gift, Ms Burton was successful. I bought the attraction between Calliope and Wyatt and didn't mind that they were ex-in-laws. I do think that Callliope was a bit pushy at times. I agree with her that he needed a push when it came to starting the relationship... but once they did, I thought she could have backed off a little. Yes, it was time for Wyatt to move on, but at the same time to push him to meet with his ex... Was that really for his benefit or for your own? I did like that in the end, Calliope's sister wasn't such a bitch. She did come across as selfish, but I guess they just drifted away. Anyway, a nice novella, but not sure I'd re-read it.

14) The First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde: C

There is a legend that "On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny." And so that's why pudgy teenager Sarah Collier ran down the church aisle on Christmas Day in a jingle bell sweater and reindeer antlers, trying to stop Travis Walker from marrying someone else. Humiliating? Yes. That's why Sarah has not set foot back in Twilight ever since. Fast-forward to 8-9 years, Sarah is now a best-seller author for children known as Sadie Cool. She gets a letter asking her to return to Twilight for the sake of a little sick fangirl who turns out to be Travis' daughter. Unbesknownt to Sarah, the cookie club is trying to do a lot more than realize Jazzy's dream... they want to make the legend come true.

I got this book at RWA and figured it'd be a nice read for Christmas. However, I think by the time I read The First Love Cookie Club, I've already saturated on Christmas-themed book. All in all, The First Love Cookie Club was a nice book, but not really memorable. I think it felt a bit too forced, the fact that all those ladies were pushing Travis and Sarah into each other's arm. And when they finally decided to succumb, to throw in the mother? Especially because Raylene had called her back? I think that whole aspect bothered me most, although it did make sense to some extent. It's just, who are you to play with other people's life? I also have to say I didn't care much about Sarah. I just found her a bit too young and self-absorbed. So you've embarrassed yourself years ago. Just move on and live your life. Instead, it seems to me she's been hiding for years. And when it came time for her to be selfish, she wasn't!! Ugh. As for Travis, I just felt like he was a puppet that anyone could pull the strings. His priority was Jazzy, his focus was Jazzy, his life was Jazzy. The rest, people could do whatever he wanted. I think it'd really have been nice if Travis had a male friend, it would have balanced everything out a little bit. Anyway, the best part of this book was the devotion Travis had for his daughter - it was just heart-warming and in the spirit of Christmas.

15) Unlocked by Courtney Milan: B

Unlocked is a novella, therefore short, but it packs quite a punch! The story is about Lady Elaine Warren who after ten seasons has resigned herself to spinsterhood. All she wants is for the ton to stop making fun of her and her mother. However, her hopes are dashed when Evan Carlton, the Earl of Westfeld, returns... or so she thinks. Evan cannot believe that the nickname he's given to Lady Elaine - Lady Equine - because of her laugh is still whispered around after all this time. Now that he's back from his self-imposed exile, it is time for him to step up to the plate and right the wrong he's done.

I really liked this novella, because I felt Ms Milan has captured the human nature. The thoughtlessness of a young man and his cowardice... and the maturity and redemption of the grown man. The wariness of a woman, her strength, her courage and also her forgiveness. Ms Milan's characters were flawed and very real and it made this novella in my opinion. I loved that Evan had the courage to stand up and reveal the truth - I think that was one of the best declarations I've read in a romance. I loved that not all was forgotten when Evan declared himself just so Elaine would marry. That after all the hurt she's endured, she didn't do a complete 180 and fallen in love with him right away. Okay, it didn't take that much time, but hey this was a novella :) In any case, Ms Milan totally won me over with the characters, the depth and the writing. My only question is, where was Elaine's father? All these years, where was he? I'd think that after 3 or 4 seasons, he'd start to try finding out why his pretty daughter didn't have a suitor and arrange something. Luckily for me, it didn't detract too much from the story :)

16) A Taste of Nightlife by Sarah Zettel: C

Charlotte Caine is a chef and half-owner of Nightlife, a Greenwich Village restaurant that caters to humans and paranormals, especially vampires. Her evening starts well, especially when she gets news that the notorious food critic for the vampire community is among the customers. Charlotte intends to impress him with the food. Everything quickly goes downhill when a drunk mage stumbles in Nightlife, makes a scene which causes the fire sprinklers to go off, and is later found dead, drained of blood, in the dining room. When the police starts suspecting her vampire brother, Chet, Charlotte is determined to prove his innocence and finds herself noising around alongside with Anatole Severin, the vampire food critic and also elder in the community, and Brendan Maddox, the dead mage's cousin.

I picked this up because I came across the cover of Let Them Eat Stake and thought the book sounded very interesting. Since it was only coming out this April and it was the second book in the series, I decided to check out the first book, A Taste of Nightlife. What caught my attention was the idea of a human chef, Charlotte, trying to cater to a vampiric clientele - it sounded fun :)

While A Taste of Nightlife is a cozy mystery, it had one of the best paranormal world building I've come across in a while. It was simple, interesting and there was no information dump, instead it was well woven into the storyline. I really, really liked the world Ms Zettel has created, especially when you add in the heroine who is a chef and the restaurant atmosphere. I think I've mentioned it before, but I really like characters who are cooks/chefs because they have so much passion, but also personality :) I think just for the building alone, I would come back to this series! That's how much I liked it.

So the beginning was very strong, with the setting up, introduction of the characters and so on. Unfortunately, when it came to the mystery, it was very convoluted and there wasn't really any explanation... and that's where this book started losing me ^_^; It just started getting confusing as the mystery was a bit all over the place with too much going on. And finally, there was the dreaded love triangle ^_^; That just annoyed me, not only because I wanted it to focus on the mystery for once... but if you're going to introduce romantic elements, it doesn't have to be a love triangle!! Especially when you don't make it clear why these two awesome, charming and powerful men are interested in the girl! Don't get me wrong, I liked Charlotte... but I don't understand why two "pioneers" of their community are attracted to her at the same time. If you really need to do love triangles, then please try to be at least a little original.

In the end, I'm still looking for the perfect cozy mystery series for me and I'm left unsure whether I should pick up Let Them Eat Stake... I guess only time will tell.

17) When a Duke Says I Do by Jane Goodger: B

This book took me by surprise, because I didn't know that Ms Goodger had a release coming out in 2011 :) As soon as I found out, I decided to give this book a go, because it sounded really interesting :)

The story is about Miss Elsie Stanhope who's been betrothed to the future Duke of Kingston since she was a young girl. Her betrothed doesn't seem to be in a hurry to get married and that suits Elsie just fine as she's not ready to leave her father's household and her younger sister Mary behind. Also, the current Duke of Kingston is not an easy man to live with and she wants as little contact with the man as possible. For her next birthday ball, Elsie wants a mural painting in the ballroom and hired the most famous painter to perform the task. Said painter has brought with him his mute young assistant, Andre, and Elsie finds herself intrigued by the man. As Elsie has trouble sleeping in her bed, she has the habit of wandering in the house late at night and ends up keeping Andre company while he paints. One thing leads to another and very quickly, Elsie and Andre are in love with each other. Then, suddenly, the Duke of Kingston is pushing his son to honor the betrothal... There is only one way for Elsie and Andre to have a happy ending and it is for pathologically shy Andre whose real name is Alexander to step up and reveal his true identity.

This book started out strong for me. I really liked Andre/Alexander's character. He definitively was the strong and quiet type, emphasis on quiet... and his past, I can't imagine what he went through. Then again, I think if he had stayed with his family, his father would have broken him. It was better for him to be away and he was lucky that the doctor at the asylum really cared about his patients and noticed the truth about Alexander. I also thought it was admirable that for Elsie, he would renounced to anonymity. That he'd step up and reclaim his birthright. You can see how hard it was for him and yet... he did it. And therefore, it's a bit hard to resent him for his attitude towards Elsie after he stopped her wedding. I definitively think she should have more faith in Alexander, even when her father was pressuring her. Also, the whole thing was pretty ironic as a situation ^_^;

I also liked the story as I thought it was different, original. My problem with When a Duke Says I Do stemmed from Elsie. I actually liked her at first. Her background story was interesting and sad at the same time and it explained really well why she wouldn't sleep in her bed. However, as the story went on, I started caring less and less about her. It seemed to me Elsie should have known better than to spend that much time with Alexander. Sure, Alexander didn't turn her away, but she could have wandered anywhere in the house... Why go back to Alexander night after night? Especially when she knew she was falling in love with him and it couldn't happen. Also, Elsie was portrayed as a very sunny and happy person. She's been sheltered and therefore, a bit naïve in the way life really is... and that really bothered me to a certain degree, because in her mind, Alexander reclaiming his status was going to be easy. A walk in the park. And then when Alexander finally finds the courage to brave his demons, she doesn't have enough faith in him to wait :( Yes, there were evidences, but she threw in the towel too easily for me.

Lastly, I would have liked a little follow-up with the other characters at the end. For example, Elsie jilted fiancé, Oscar. I really would have liked to see his reaction. I would also have liked to have seen more of Alexander's mentor and his mother. In any case, these are small complaints. Overall, When a Duke Says I Do was a strong historical, but more importantly, refreshing :)

18) Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke
Upcoming Review.

19) Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr
Upcoming Review for Netgalley

20) Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
Upcoming Review.

21) If I Stay by Gayle Forman: B

When Mia got in the car with her parents and younger brother for a fun, impromptu family outing, she never expected her life to change forever. In a blink of an eye, Mia went from dozing off to waking up, out of her body. After surgery, Mia's body slips into a coma... Surrounded by her family and friends, Mia has to decide if she can survive her parent's death, if she can stay.

This book first came to my attention when Mollie reviewed it. It sounded like a very deep, touching book... So when it was released in paperback, I picked it up :) However, because I've been expecting to bawl my eyes off, I have been putting it off ^_^; I was finally in the mood in December and I'm glad I've finally read it!

As expected, If I Stay was a very good read. It is a little bit unusual, because not much is happening. The book is a reflection on Mia's life. As she debates whether to stay or not, we get flashbacks of her important moments. How she got into music, how she met her boyfriend Adam, etc. In a way, it's very passive, but it works because of the characters and the writing. There is no doubt that If I Stay is well-written, the style very refreshing. The hospital scenes and the flashbacks really flow seamlessly. Also the author has done a great job selecting the flashbacks. But really, what stands out in this book is the characters. Mia is a great heroine, very well-adjusted in her life. You can feel her love for her parents and younger brother, her passion for the cello and classical music, her chemistry with Adam. Adam was a great boyfriend as well. I loved that the two were different, but that they shared a passion for music :) I loved the moments of selfishness they each had. It just felt so real. And oh, Mia's parents? They were so cool. Quirky and non-conventional, but the best parents I've seen in a YA novel as they did communicate with Mia and Teddy, did bond and have a relationship with them :) In a way, I think it's because they didn't put pressure on themselves or the kids and just lived the kind of life they want :) They did everything on their own terms and that made them great parents :)

There were definitively some good moments in If I Stay such as the scene where Mia's grandfather tells her it's okay if she doesn't stay. That scene was so touching, even thinking about it now makes the tears come T_T And as I said, the characters totally made the book. At the same time, it was a bit uneventful as a story. There was no big secret to uncover, no wrong to right... it was definitively character-centric, but at the same time, it's not as if the relationship could really move forward or develop. Also, in my case, when I read the book, well I was already aware of the ending since there's a sequel Where She Went. So it was a bit anti-climatic and I think it lessened the impact for me, because it didn't turn out to be as emotional as I expected it'd be... And that's why at the end, I'm giving it a B.

22) The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance: C

Bethany and her best friend, Moni, are geek girls. When Moni decides to participate to the cheerleaders try-out to prove that cheerleaders aren't special and even geek girls can become one, Bethany joins her for support. She never expected they would succeed! Now Bethany's life is busier than ever and she's stuck between two worlds. However, it might be worth it all when Jack, the basketball star and Bethany's long-time crush, finally makes a move.

I'll admit, this is not my type of book. However, I've really been interested and wanting to read this book because of the whole geek girl aspect :) I consider myself a bit of a geek and with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Chuck, I think geeks are on the rise! :) So I was looking forward to this book... Unfortunately, there was nothing really special in The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading to make it really stand out :(

Overall, I think Ms Tahmaseb and Ms Vance did a good job with the geek aspect. It wasn't too stereotypical and overwhelming. Most of it was quite subtle, like Moni's cap: QTπ (Cutie Pie)! I actually think there was room to be even more geeky :) I also liked that becoming a cheerleader didn't change Bethany's life. Sure there were some changes, but the things that really mattered? No.

The rest of the book was just regular high school drama... and the falling-out between Moni and Bethany was too predictable :( I did like Bethany's attitude throughout the book though. She was quite mature, level-headed and realistic. I also liked that Jack was genuinely attracted to Bethany. And that she didn't catch his eye only because she had become a cheerleader. However, I think that something was missing in this relationship. The romance wasn't very engaging and I loath bets! Even if the bet wasn't what Bethany thought it was, it's just a bad idea :( All in all, The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There was definitively some good stuff, but not enough to wow me.

23) Addition by Toni Jordan: D+

The story is about Grace who went through an emotional trauma when she was 8 years old and as a result, her world is now ruled with numbers. One day while grocery shopping, she realizes that she only has 9 bananas in her basket and she absolutely needs 10. Instead of going back to get her 10th banana, she notices that the guy behind her has one lone one in his basket... Who buys only 1 banana? Surely, he won't miss it right? And that's how she meets Sheamus.

I heard of Addition a couple of years ago already. The heroine has a certain type of OCD and I thought it'd be interesting to read about. Different. Unfortunately, I thought this book was so-so only. Perhaps it's my romance reader roots, but still.

The start was very promising. The grocery store scene was really funny and I liked the coffee shop scene as well. Grace's character was also very well-written. She has OCD, but you get the feeling that even though she didn't, she'd still be quirky. What didn't work for me was the Grace and Sheamus relationship. They were cute together, but everything went too fast. There basically was no courting, no trying to understand each other. I think that with someone like Grace who obviously has some baggage, the key is really communication and understanding. I get that Sheamus wanted to help Grace out, that his intentions were honorable. Still, you don't barge into someone's life and start changing things up. Also, it was bad from Grace to go along and never tell Sheamus the truth. So starting from that point, the book went downhill for me. Plus, Grace's fixation on her hero, some inventor that also had OCD, got old real fast. She would go off and off and that dragged the book :( I have to say though, I'm happy at the ending :)

Books bought: + 7
Books read: -23
TBR pile: -16

So I did finish the year 2011 with a bang. 23 books! I think that's the most I've read in a month in a long long time. It was partly due to the number of novellas I've read, but also because I wanted to reach 200 books and I did :) I also didn't realize how little books I've bought! I've been such a good girl! LOL. Now, I really feel like I'm due for a book shopping spree :)

Now that I'm done with 2011, I want to focus on catching up on full reviews :) Not just from 2011, but this past month as well. Then, I'll have to start working on my Monthly Reads post for January. I'm thinking though that I need to change something... I'm toying with the idea of doing Weekly Reads post like Ames instead... because recapping at the end of the month is really becoming a challenge. What do you think? Any suggestion?


  1. Wow - and here I was proud of myself for reading 12 books in January! :-)

    No big surprise that a lot of your books are either in my TBR pile, or I've read also :-)

    I saw lots of C and D in your pile - hopefully January brought you more A & B reads :-)

  2. Wow! It was pretty long!
    but YAY! y ou caught up!!!
    I'm so glad you liked If I Stay, I thought it was such a wonderful gift and it brought me to tears. I liked Where She Went Even more though!

    and, you're right about Any Man of Mine, I thought it was pretty ok, certainly the one I've liked the most in the last two or three years - I HATED the previous one - but I don't know, I don't think it's working well either, that series.

    I think she needs to let it rest for a while. (and I'm kind of sad because I don't like the cover for the next book :P)

    I hope you are having a great reading month so far.

  3. Oh wow - long post! I don't think we read many of the same books - I think I liked FATE'S EDGE slightly more than you did, but the kids did steal the show. I think there will be one more book?

    I need to get around to reading the Eloisa James and Jaci Burton.

    And I'm the last person who should be opining on frequency of reading recaps! I think I'm at May in terms of what I've posted on my blog though maybe I'll try for weekly posts...


  4. Wow you had an awesome reading month in Dec! I love the idea of doing monthy read posts. I think I'm going to steal this idea and try to do one for every month this year. ;)

    I just finished reading Fate's Edge a couple of days ago. I kinda loved it. But I agree that the world building in this series is a lot harder to wrap your mind around. I understand Andrews not wanting to bog readers down with too much world building but I feel like I need a companion that goes into more details about this world. I really like the concept of it though. I didn't really get the sparks between Kaldar and Audrey either, I felt like this one was really weighed down with too many POV switches. It would've been better if she had stuck to just Kaldar and Audery's POV's rather than dipping into Jack, George, Helen, Spider, etc etc.

    lol You're description of the Rachel Gibson novel reminds me of Friends. So Ross and Rachel get married in Vegas, divorce, and then out pops a kid annnnd eventually they get back together. ;) I think I'll skip that one. Kids/pregnancies in romances typically annoy me to death.

  5. Nath, you had a prolific reading month in December! Lots of average reads, though. I hope your January was better. :)

    I haven't read Fate's Edge yet! I hope I like it more than you did. Hmm... Any Man of Mine... I remember enjoying it more than the general masses when I read it. But, as I began writing a review my review it began to turn more and more negative. I still have that post on draft... I never posted it because it turned weird! I could never refine it.

    RE: Your end of month post. They are long and most take a long time. You write long/thorough mini-reviews. So I vote for weekly reads posts! I think it might relieve the pressure from these end-of-month posts.

  6. Again, I’m on a bizarre world! LOL I looooove The Edge books! But I won’t comment on that, instead I’ll talk about books I hated with a passion.

    Only Us: I’m so happy I got that one for free! OMG it was terrible! I agree with you on everything you said, but I’ll add that Carina was an idiot. She gets angry when out of nowhere she declares her love and he turns her down!? She expects him to what? Love her back? That’s not how it works. His reasons for turning her down where ridiculous, but her reaction was insane! I hated this book, hated it!

    Any Man of Mine: you were kinder to this book than I was. I think I gave it a 1. The heroine was obnoxious, the hero was a terrible father and no sports whatsoever in a novel that’s supposed to have some. At the end I felt like the hero grew as a father but they won’t make it as a couple, I’ll bet on it! LOL

  7. Dev - Twelve is good Dev! :) If it's more than you read usually, then it's all good ;)

    Yeah, while I did read a lot, I don't know why, but there was a lot of so-so books and duds :( Luckily for me, January was indeed better :)

    Alex - Yeah I know ^_^; Seriously, I just don't know how you do short ^_^; Not my style.

    LOL now the challenge is to not fall too much behind!

    I actually skimmed through Where She Went at the bookstore... and I'm a bit unsure. I think I will like it more because there is more interaction between Mia and Adam... but at the same time, the fact that they were separate... I don't know :( I'll most probably going to wait till it comes out in paperback.

    I didn't hate the last few releases by Ms Gibson, but they didn't impress me much. I didn't have much expectations for this one, so I guess it was a good thing :)You know what she needs? To come up with likable characters and something that stands out a little.

    Li - I know ^_^; I probably should have split it in 2 or more posts... sigh.

    I agree with you for Fate's Edge. The kids totally stole the show :) Luckily, Georges was there as well... because sometimes, Jack just gets on my nerve ^_^; He's more straightforward, but sometimes, it's as if he uses the fact that he's a shapeshifter as an excuse.

    The problem with the weekly reads post is the frequency ^_^; I mean, one post that is late, it's okay... but 4?!? Maybe bi-weekly posts? Sigh.

    Samantha - Go for it Samantha! I'm looking forward to your posts!!

    I'm glad you've enjoyed Fate's Edge. Did you read the others as well? I think you bring up an interesting, there was indeed too many POVs.

    LOL, indeed, Any Man of Mine does sound like that storyline in Friends. Although I think Rachel had more support :)

    Hilcia - Yeah, January was better :) mostly because there were some books I was really looking forward to and some of my favorite authors :)

    I hope you enjoy Fate's Edge more than I did. I think you'll do though since you're more into this series than I am.

    LOL, it'd be curious to see your review of Any Man of Mine Hils. I mean, it wasn't a stellar book by any means, but I guess I wasn't expecting much. This series is just not working for me :( All of her heroes could be interchangeable... She's trying with the heroines, but meh.

    Thanks for your feedback Hils! I'll have to think about it. The challenge with the weekly post is that, well it's weekly LOL. If only I could be succinct in my mini-reviews ^_^;

    Brie - LOL, well I'm glad that you enjoyed Fate's Edge Brie!

    In Only Us, the thing is she get angry, but it's a delayed reaction!! It didn't bother me too much because Cameron actually kind of had feelings for me and seriously, the man sees her every single day. How dense are you that you didn't figure she had feelings for you? But I was kind of unhappy that Carina would leave... It's like assume yourself. You declared your love, he turned you down. Okay, move on. In this case, it penalized Kaitlyn :(

    As for Any Man of Mine, I think the reason she cannot put that much sports into it... it's because she doesn't know hockey well enough. I live in a city that lives and breaths hockey. And I don't feel it in her book.

    It's true that Sam wasn't a good father, but at least, he was present in Connor's life. And like you said, he grew as a father. But yeah, the romance wasn't great ^_^;

  8. I haven’t read Fate’s Edge yet and the C+ doesn’t make me want to pick it up any time soon. Like you, I prefer Kate Daniels.

    I really liked If I Stay and the sequel Where She went. You’re right about the parents relationship with the kids – so nice to see not all parents have dysfunctional relationships with their kids!

    IMO you should give the weekly reads posts a try – it might be quicker & less overwhelming than a full month of reads.

  9. First of all--Congrats on getting this post finished and up. I know it was a lot of work for you, although a labor of love.

    Secondly--WOW! 23 books in January is SO impressive!

    Do you think Echols' book was just too "high school-ish" this time around. You know I really enjoy reading YA, but some books just come across too typical teenage drama. The story needs to have something special and ... maybe mature about it for it to click with me these days.

    I have the Eolisa James novella on my ipad. I almost started reading it twice and got distracted. I'm going to try to get to it this month. I love charming wallflower type stories! :)

    I bought that Gibson book at NJ RWA last fall. Too bad it wasn't better for you. I'll get to it someday, I guess. lol

    I agree with you regarding Dare's novella. I'm still looking forward to her next book.

    I appreciate your "review" on If I Stay. I read it this time two year's ago and pretty much went into it blindly. Had no idea what it was about... what the ending was going to be and the sequel wasn't even out yet. So it was clearly more emotional for me. I cried a lot... but I think I projected a lot and imagined what if this was my daughter in Mia's position. I have to get Where She Went from the library. I know it's there... lol

    I think a Weekly Reads is a great idea especially since you're such a prolific reader. Also, all of these mini reviews you end up writing for your monthly round up posts are good enough to be stand alone review posts!

  10. Leslie - I don't know, the Edge series is just missing something for me.

    I skimmed through Where She Went already. I don't know if I'll be reading it. I'm just so disappointed they've been apart ^_^; But probably when it comes out in paperback...

    Yeah, I might do weeklies... or do another feature. I'm toying with the idea of Week-end's minis... we'll see.

    Christine - Thank you Christine! I'm so glad I'm done LOL.

    Yeah, see that's the thing. I love pulling big numbers like that, but it's really daunting at the end when it comes to write the post ^_^;

    Did you read this Echol book? I do think it was too high school-ish... but also, I think the characters were just so-so. I know it's stupid, but me, I like it when the characters sound older ^_^; and in this one, they were just sooo immature, the whole lot of them.

    I'm pretty sure you'll be enjoying the Eloisa James.

    Are you up to date with the RG series?

    The Tessa Dare, I just don't know. I'm not clicking with her :(

    Nod nod. Yeah. I think if I've read If I Stay a couple of years ago, it would have been more emotional for me. Just not the case this time.

    LOL, as I was telling Leslie, I'm toying with an idea for the Weekly Reads... but we'll see how it works out. The problem being, I'm just not really consistent lately when it comes to blogging. So a weekly post puts a lot more pressure ^_^;