Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monthly Reads: February 2012

Hello everyone! Hope you're having a good week-end :) It's gorgeous outside at the moment. It's also supposed to be +20C (68F) for the whole week! Which is quite unbelievable weather for March :) But I won't complain. In fact, I think I should try to do something outside... but I don't know what ^_^;

I didn't buy any books this week as there were no new releases I was looking forward to. So I decided to post my Monthly Reads post for February :) Initially, I was thinking later this week... but I realized there was also the TBR Challenge and it'd probably be too busy. So all works out well :) And as I mentioned yesterday, my Week-End's Minis feature is really working out well. This Monthly Reads post took me no time to put together and almost all of the books have already been reviewed! Yay!  I can't help but feel good about it :) Speaking of Week-End's Minis, don't forget the poll on the sidebar!

So here is what I read in February...


1) Deadly Intent by Kylie Brant: D

I've been on the hunt for new RS authors to discover. After reading No One Left to Tell, I was looking for other RS books heavy on the investigation side. I had Deadly Intent in my TBR pile and hoped it would satisfied my craving.

What is the worst fear for parents who had their child kidnapped? To have her being kidnapped a second time. This is what is happening to the Mulders and it's even worse this time around since it was from her own bedroom in their fortress. Millionaire Stephen Mulder does not hesitate one second to call Adam Raiker who returned Ellie the first time and bring in his team, in the hopes that the miracle will be repeated. Adam brings in Macy Reid, a linguist who's an expert on kidnapping and has gone through the trauma herself when she was a child, and Kellan Burke, an investigator who is not afraid to break some rules to obtain results. Macy and Kellan are complete opposite and often seem to be at each other's throat... but that's only because they are attracted to each other.

Overall, Deadly Intent was an okay read. There was some investigation going on - yay! - but at the end of it, it was more about turf war between Adam Raiker's team and the FBI and that got old pretty fast. In addition, the storyline didn't feel very suspenseful... you didn't feel like it was a race against time. Everyone, including the parents, were just so level-head. I think if Ms Brant has used some date/time headers like Karen Rose does, it would have increased the suspense a little... Because as it is, I found it hard to know how much time had gone by.

While I know this was Ellie's second kidnapping, I felt the investigators wasted too much time going through list of suspects related to the first kidnapping... which were pedophiles/human trafficking people. I guess this was to link with Macy's own kidnapping/past. By the way, I thought there would have been more links between Ellie and Macy's kidnappings... and perhaps it'd be more emotional. But it wasn't and I thought that was a waste. You give the heroine the perfect background to sympathize on such a case and you didn't carry it out. I know Macy is a professional, but still. Also, a bit part of the investigation didn't make much sense to me. The first time around, Ellie was taken from a birthday party outside... that speaks of opportunism. Kidnapping Ellie from her bedroom from a millionaire's house with so many security levels and all? It takes planning and money... and it's a complete different feel. I'd think trained investigators would have recognized this. Oh and the resolution of the case? The "who" did it? Not great either. Just very sad actually.

Finally, the romance was meh. I liked Kell because he was fun and a bit devious :) However, I never really warmed up to Macy... and I didn't feel like the H/H had much chemistry.


2) Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones: B


3) Because of the List by Amy Knupp: B-


4) Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle: C

I received this book at RWA last year. I've seen good reviews for the second book floating around blogland and therefore chose to give this a try :) Plus, I haven't read many new paranormal romance series and was wondering if I was missing any.

Dark Awakening focuses on the vampires in this world. Vampires are divided into Houses with low and high bloods individuals. Tynan MacGillivray is a cat-shifting vampire who is part the Cait Sith which are considered lowbloods and have been enslaved by the Ptolemy House. Because of his hunting abilities, Tynan has been favored the queen of the Ptolemy and he hopes to lessen the burden on his brothers' shoulders. Some dark entity/curse has been killing Ptolemy vampires and they need to find a Seer in order to launch an attack against he enemy. Enter Lily Quinn who lately has been haunted by nightmares of a woman being beheaded. When Tynan discovers Lily, he thinks he's found the Seer... but the strange mark on her neck makes him hesitate. Unconsciously, he knows that Lily is much more than a Seer and wants to find out for himself... even if it means defying his queen.

First, I'd like to say my mood wasn't great when I read Dark Awakening... so the grade might be more me than the book ^_^; Overall, I thought the book had a lot of potential with its world building. I really liked the idea of dynasties and the politics that arose. It definitively makes for a complex and interesting world :) What I liked less about this world was the whole lowbloods and highbloods, the prejudices and condescension. It just got old very quickly. I find I have a lot of difficulties with such behaviors lately, perhaps because there is still so much in own world. Anyway, I wondered why the Cait didn't rebel earlier... or at least try. Also, how do you decide who becomes what house? Does it depend on the sire? Are some born this way? Does it depend on your ancestry? I'd have liked for this to be clearer.

So I found the world building very interesting and by extent, Lily's and the House of Lilith's story as well. I think it was really well thought out and executed. What I didn't much care for was the romance ^_^; All in all, Ty and Lily were okay characters... I thought Ty's character was interesting and quite honorable. He's trying to gain favor of the queen so he could show his House's worth and therefore, elevated it... The only problem is that he remained blind to his queen's faults too long. And Lily, I liked her because she has guts and was smart. However, once again, I thought their attraction was too fast, too instantaneous. Sometimes it works, if the characters show really good chemistry or usually, a prior acquaintances. But in this case, I wonder how Lily wasn't overwhelmed with all the new knowledge, the new world and the danger.

On the plus side, Dark Awakening had some interesting secondary characters. I really loved Vlad and Anura... Such old and powerful characters must have interesting back-stories in my opinion and I would definitively read more of them. Jaden and Damien, Ty's brothers-in-arm, I`m not sure ^_^; Although I have to admit, I'm tempted by Jaden's book, Midnight Reckoning. Guess I'll find out :)


5) Frostbound by Sharon Ashwood: C+


6) Thread of Death by Jennifer Estep: C+


7) Conor's Way by Laura Lee Guhrke: B+


8) Sweet Enemy by Heather Snow: C-


9) Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb: B-


10) Black Wings by Christina Henry: D

Madeline Black is a 30 years old, single woman who happens to be an Agent of Death. As an Agent of Death, she is responsible for escorting the souls of the newly departed to the afterlife and she has retractable wings, which when opened makes her invisible, to reach her destinations. She inherited this job along from the powers from her mother who was killed by a monster which left her soulless. When Maddy's best friend is killed in the same fashion, Maddy is determined to find out the culprit and exact revenge... However, nobody at the office believes her, least her supervisor. The only help she receives surprisingly comes from her new tenant Gabriel Angeloscuro who's there under false pretense. Indeed, the angel was sent by Maddy's unknown father to keep an eye one her...

I was looking for a new UF series to start and remembered that Black Wings was one that I wanted to try. However, I doubt I'll be continuing it ^_^; I kind of liked the premises of this series, the fact that it involves demons, nephilims, angels and etc. And I also found Maddy's background/root story to be interesting... which actually all linked back to the demons and angels. However, the rest of the book didn't really impress me :( First, I thought that Maddy's attitude throughout the book was tad too casual. The timeline is quite short and given everything that's happening, it should be suspenseful and exciting... but Maddy's thought process and action negate that urging feeling. Also, it didn't make sense to me that she didn't seem to have any training in fighting or magic. Isn't that weird for Agents of Death? Does that mean that souls always follow them meekly? I didn't necessarily want a kick-ass heroine because there are so many out there in UF series... but I did expect someone with some basis. Add in the fact that she suddenly saves the day with magical powers she wasn't even aware of. Sigh.

Another strike for this book was the romance. It's clear that early on, Maddy and Gabriel are attracted to each other... but it seems their feelings for each other are a bit too premature. Then, Ms Henry seems to be setting up for a love triangle, if it's not a square.

In the end, instead of being satisfied with my read, I was left pondering too many questions. Sometimes it's a good thing, because it makes you want to read the next book to find out. Other times, like this instance, not so much because it shows that the book and the world building are flawed.


11) Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox: C
Upcoming Buddy Review for Breezing Through.


12) Trouble in a Pinstripe Suit by Kelly Hunter: B-


13) I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella: B


14) Angel's Flight by Nalini Singh: B


Books bought: + 8
Books read: -14
TBR pile: -6


Genre

Historical Romance – 2
Category Romance (Contemporary) – 3
Romantic Suspense – 2
Mystery – 1
Paranormal Romance – 2
Urban Fantasy – 3
Chick-Lit – 1

Something else to feel good about is the number in the TBR pile!! That's two months in a row with negative numbers :) I think I'm really doing well so far with my book-buying and reading. Also, something I've been wanting to add to my Monthly Reads post was the break-down in genre of my reads... But because my posts were always so long, I decide against. Now that it's much shorter, there you go :)

So what do you think of my months? Any books in there you've read and agree or disagree with my take? :P And how was your month of February?

15 comments:

  1. Great post, Nath. I didn't read a lot in February, but what I read I really enjoyed for the most part. It seems to me like your reads were pretty much on the average side, with a few exceptions. :( Our reads were quite different for that month. I picked up Conor's Way to read from your list. :)

    Although your minis are for books with lower grades, I love these minis. Dark Awakenings sounds rather intriguing (for a PNR, which I'm not really reading at the moment either). I like your reasons for not rating it higher. And may I say that I'm surprised that you gave Jennifer Estep's book a C+?
    That's the lowest grade I've seen you dish out to this author, lol!

    PS: I'm voting for your Minis!

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  2. I just thought I would tell you I tracked down the first book in Rob Thurman's series yesterday. You have made me curious about him! Also, I ordered books the other day and am finally going to read Ilona Andrews and the series you are currently reading by Jennifer Estep. (Over the weekend I have been reading her Bigtime series. I happened to find the first two books second hand and figured I would give them a try. Have you read it?)

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  3. Hilcia - Thanks Hils! The reads actually weren't that bad... I think a lot of it had to do with my mood ^_^; These books just weren't the ones I wanted to read :( I'm glad you picked up Conor's Way! I'm sure you're going to love it :)

    The minis are not necessarily for books with lower grades :) However, it seems that way because books that have really good grades, of course you want to talk about it LOL... So I guess that's how it's turning out :) As long as it allows me to review them all, I'm happy :)

    I think in the end, I'm going to give Dark Awakening another try :) I actually liked the world a lot more than I thought LOL. And yeah, it's a C+... but it's a novella as well, something to keep in mind :)

    Kailana - Wooohooo, I'm glad you picked up the Cal Leandros series. Warning though, the first few books are a bit slow and hard to get into. I remember they took me forever to read... but I ended up really enjoying this series, so I hope you do too :)

    What Ilona Andrews book did you order? You mean, you haven't read the Kate Daniels yet?! LOL. And I hope you enjoy the Elemental Assassin series. They're a tad darker than the Bigtime, but you do get a bit of the same feel... And yes, I did read the Bigtime series :) They were fun to read :)

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    1. Good to know! I sort of noticed Thurman on your blog and decided I would see what was what. :) I am not sure when I will get a chance to read it. I will keep it in mind to stick with them, though.

      And, uh, yep, the Kate Daniels. I have wanted to read them for a while, but it just hasn't happened. I have found a couple of her books second hand and then just filled in the blanks (including book 1) the other day. I am looking forward to them!

      I have read Estep's Mythos series 'just to see'. I never really intended to become a fan of her books, but I thought that series had a lot of potential so far and it has made me curious about her other books. I wasn't really sure if the Bigtime series would work for me, but it is a lot of fun. I am looking forward to finishing Jinx this evening. :)

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    2. Oh! Speaking of Mythos, if you haven't read FIRST FROST yet, don't bother. I got it from the library just to complete the series until the new book comes out and it was so absolutely pointless! Everything that happens is covered in the other books. You receive no new information. (I bring this up because I just voted in your poll!)

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  4. Kailana - I think what's interesting in the Thurman books is the brothers' relationships :) It's very male-orientated and that's quite refreshing :)

    Oh, I hope you enjoy the Kate Daniels books then! :) It's good you were able to find them all :) I have to say, Magic Bites and Magic Burns were tough books for me to go through... but once I hit Magic Strikes, I fell in love with this series :) Some people are hooked from the beginning, but if you're not, please keep with it once again LOL.

    LOL about the Mythos series. There's definitively potential there :) I'm just glad you're enjoying her writing then. In that case, I think you should enjoy the Elemental Assassin series :)

    Oh and thanks for the heads up on First Frost. I haven't read it yet, but I have it... now I guess I won't need to read LOL. Sometimes, such prequels are only good if you read them as prequels ^_^;

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    1. Yes, that sounds quite refreshing!

      I know. I had heard the first book especially in the Kate Daniels series was not to everyone's liking, so that is why I will have all of them. I figure if I just read the one and then take a break I might not get back to them ever...

      I am looking forward to the Elemental Assassin Series. I bought the first 3 books... I have been reading a lot of series books one right after another, so I wanted to have them on hand...

      Yep. If you have never read Mythos it would be a good introduction to the series, but otherwise I basically felt like I wasted my time. I kept hoping for her to slip something in that I didn't all ready know, but nothing ever happened. I was disappointed!

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    2. Kailana - Well now, you're in for a treat really :) Don't have to wait to know what will happen next :)

      Great! I think the 3 books will really give you a good idea of the series. And seriously, if I could wait, I would too :) But I just pounce on new releases ^_^;

      Sorry you were disappointed :( It's a bit hard to have a prequel to be really meaningful I find. Novellas after yes, but prequels? The problem is if the readers don't read it, they really miss a lot.

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  5. Hi nath, kind of a mediocre reading month so far? I hope the second half of the month picks up for you. I'm hoping to simply pick up the pace of my own daily reading for the rest of the month.. although I also want to spend a lot more time working in the garden so I don't know how I'm going to pull all of this off. Blog less?

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  6. Christine - It wasn't such a bad month :) There was some nice B reads... and you know how tough I am with grades ^_^; So I rarely have As... I think the worst in the month was more my mood. Wanting to read, but not knowing what to read... and therefore, picked up books that perhaps didn't suit my mood :(

    LOL, I say exercise less. You'll be gardening, so you'll be working out :P

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  7. Exercise less?! nath, do you really think that's gonna happen?

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  8. Christine - One can hope! LOL. I don't want you to blog less!!

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  9. Great post, Nath!!
    I hear you about the weather, right now we are in the 24 and up range one day and the next it's cold and rainy. It's all messed up.

    I love that you always read such a varied selection, :D

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  10. WTG on getting so many of the books reviewed. You had a great idea with those mini reviews. :)

    Deadly Intent & Dark Awakening are both on my TBR pile but I think I'll skip them after reading your thoughts. Thanks for reading them so I don't have to. :)

    Hey! You're finally reading The Iron Duke!

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  11. Alex - Thanks Alex! Glad you enjoyed it :)

    Yes, this year's temperature has definitively been messed up! We're 10C more than the normal!! Ah well, won't complain though :) The last time we had such nice weather so early in the spring, we ended up with a very rainy summer :( Hopefully, it won't be the case this year.

    I find that I have no choice lately to really vary my reads. Otherwise, I OD really quickly :(

    Leslie - Thanks Leslie!! LOL, I never thought I could!! I'm not like you and Jill... but it seems I'm getting there :) And the format for the mini-reviews really make it more easy for some reasons :)

    I think that you should give Dark Awakening a chance. It really had an interesting world :) Deadly Intent though, I wouldn't be in a rush.

    And yes! Hopefully, I can finish it for TBR Day!!

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