Thursday, April 26, 2012

Monthly Reads: March 2012

Okay, so I keep telling myself that I have time, that there's a few more days left to April. But the truth is, May is creeping up on me!! But I'm done, so it really doesn't matter how much longer April will last or how close May is! Phew LOL.

I have to say, ever since I started the Week-End's Minis feature, my Monthly Reads posts are so much easier to write!! I think the WEM is my best idea ever LOL. And guess what? I'm really close to be reviewing everything I read. Wow!

So without further ado, here is what I read in March:


1) Driving Mr. Dead by Molly Harper: C

This is a novella taking pace in the same world as the Jane Jameson series, actually not only same world, but same town! Its purpose is to introduce the spin-off series featuring Iris Scanlon and her business, Beeline - Half-Moon Hollow's premiere vampire concierge service, to the readers. However, Driving Mr. Dead is not about Iris, but about her employee, Miranda Puckett. Miranda comes from a family where everyone is organized and knows what they want in life. But it is not the case for Miranda and as a result, she is considered a flake and her parents are still looking out for her, hoping that one day she'd come back to her sense and work in the family's law firm. Miranda's newest job is the position of driver for Beeline and her assignment is to drive to Washington state, pick up Collin Sutherland - a vampire, and drive him back to Kentucky before the deadline so he can deliver the mysterious black case to Council official Ophelia Lambert. Needless to say, with Collin's paranoia and OCD quirks and Miranda's emotional turmoil due to her fiance's affair, the drive is anything but straightforward. Especially when Miranda is prone to run in the most unimaginable situations :)

Overall, I thought Driving Mr. Dead was a fun read and a nice set-up for Ms Harper's new series. I liked both Miranda and Collin. Collin's OCD quirks were hilarious, especially that 16 pages document about the conditions for the travel LOL. However, at the end of the day, I felt like the changes in Collin were too quick and sudden and it was hard for me to believe the two have fallen in love, especially since it seemed they didn't have anything in common ^_^; It was just a bit too unrealistic to me, although I definitively wouldn't mind reading more about them :) Another little niggle... I don't know if it was due to the length of the novella, but the vibe I got from Miranda was very similar to Jane. I know that personality-wise, the two women are very different. However, the fact that they both find themselves in ridiculous situations... I think it was even mentioned in the novella how Miranda reminded someone of Jane ^_^; Then when you pair Miranda up with a stuff shirt like Collin, you can see the similarities. I understand part of the similarities is due to Ms Harper's writing style, but I really don't want interchangeable characters. I really hope Ms Harper will be able to give a distinct feel to Iris in The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires which comes out in August.


2) Fair Game by Patricia Briggs: B+


3) Nice Girls Don't Bite their Neighbors by Molly Harper: B


4) By a Thread by Jennifer Estep: B


5) The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh: B-

For a more comprehensive review, please check out Hilcia's :) Otherwise, keep on reading!

In the past year, I've been going through Ms Balogh's extensive back list. She's quite popular as an historical romance author and while not all of her books have worked for me, they are solid and consistent reads :) Why did I pick up The Temporary Wife in particular? Well I like marriage of convenience plots.

Lord Anthony Earheart is the heir to a dukedom and to say he is on bad terms with his father is an understatement. When Anthony finally decides to respond to his father's summons, he's determined to thumb his nose at his father. After all, he's made a name and a fortune for himself in the past 8 years without the duke's support... and the last thing Anthony wants is to marry the bride chosen for him. As a result, Anthony places an ad for a governess... but what he's looking for in reality is a bride - one who is mousy and beneath his station. And he chooses Miss Charity Duncan. Unfortunately for Anthony, first impressions are often misleading as Charity turns out to be a lovely young woman. Her father's death left her family in a dire financial situation. Charity wanted to help her brother shoulder the burden and therefore has been working as a governess; however, she lost a few positions due to her outspoken and direct personality and her look. When she responded to Anthony's ad, she tried very hard to downplay her person... She never expected that Lord Eearheart would propose! And the money that he offers would be salvation to her family. All she has to do is keep the charade up.

The Temporary Wife has everything I usually like to read: marriage of convenience, opposite attract and it's almost a "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing a stuffy hero" story... So theoretically, I should have loved this book. However, I felt that The Temporary Wife was very similar to another of Ms Balogh's book, The Ideal Wife... and it turns out I enjoyed The Ideal Wife better - hence the grade. However, this book remains very enjoyable :) Indeed, it had good characters - I very much liked Anthony and Charity. I liked how brave and perspicacious she was, but also clever. As soon as Anthony explained to her his ploy, she knew what part he wanted her to play, what to expect, etc. I also loved that she didn't care what other people thought and did what she thought was right. My kind of heroine :) As for Anthony, he was a good hero as well. I think he felt like he had to prove something... and there were so many misunderstandings between him and his father and brothers. So much time lost. I also thought the dynamics of the family were very interesting and totally did not expect what was the source of so much misery on both sides. That was very well-done by Ms Balogh.

A few reasons why I didn't like The Temporary Wife as much as The Ideal Wife were the lack of background development for Charity. She has all those qualities, but we know next to nothing about her. For example, her father is supposedly a gentleman... Was he a good or bad guy? What happened for him to leave so many debts? When did her mother pass away? Where do all the kids come from? I also felt the H/H fell in love a bit too fast and would have appreciated seeing their romance developed a bit more. There was a lot of aspects to this book and while it wasn't overwhelming (like too much), it wasn't well-balanced in my opinion.


6) Doubletake by Rob Thurman: A-
Upcoming buddy review to come over at Breezing Through


7) Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison: B


8) The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook: C


9) Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash: C+


10) Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas: B-


11) Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas: B


Books bought: + 17
Books read: -11
TBR pile: + 6


Genre

Historical Romance – 2
Contemporary Romance – 2
Paranormal Romance – 3
Urban Fantasy – 3
Steampunk Romance - 1

***

All in all, I think March was a good month. I admit being a bit disappointed by the number of books I've read in total. 11 is my smallest number so far this year... However, it's not so much that I've read only 11 books... It's that the month started out so well, with so many books I wanted to read! It was like the UF/PNR festival with so many good releases in the genre coming out at the end of February and beginning of March! :) Fair Game, By a Thread, Nice Girls Don't Bite their Neighbors, Angel's Flight, etc. With such good authors, it's no surprise that half my reads were UF and PNR :P So basically, I was in heaven at the beginning of March, but I ended the month feeling blah, not knowing what to read anymore and taking forever to read one book! I felt like I lost my reading mojo which is really not a fun feeling :( I wonder if it's not the Rob Thurman effect ^_^; For some reasons, I tend to read her books really slowly and it seemed I just continued that pace the rest of the month. Or maybe I just burned out reading too much UF/PNR? Hmmm.

Also, March was the first month I had a positive balance in my TBR pile in a while. LOL, I blame the "Buy 3, get the 4th free" promo at the bookstore. I mean, how can you not take advantage of that? :) I also don't mind very much because I've been doing really well in the past month.

So there you, my month of March! How was yours?

9 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a pretty good March, Nath!

    Yeah, I thought Miranda was a little too close to being a Jane clone too. However, I enjoy Colin a lot more than Gabriel for some reason. I hope that Harper makes Iris more different from Jane too.

    I keep seeing positive reviews for the Jennifer Estep series and it makes me want to give the series another try. I read the first two book and just couldn't get into them. :(

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  2. Samantha - Thanks :) It was a good month, but I'm greedy. I wanted a great month LOL.

    Exactly, Miranda was a bit too similar to Jane and I thought the same thing went for Collin and Gabriel. Although I think you liked Collin more, because we knew his intentions better than Gabriel. He's also more straightforward I think.

    If you couldn't get into the first two books, then my advice is to not continue with the series. Unless your problem was Donovan, because he's gone. But if it's the writing style or the story that were the issues, then those are not changing and you're most likely not going to enjoy it more.

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  3. You know... I keep forgetting who are the people in the Ideal Wife... is it the one where the guy marries a distant cousin?
    LOL
    I went on a Balg binge a while ago and she can write awesome stories and stories that are guilty pleasures.
    :)

    Anyway, you read a lot of books! YAY :D

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  4. I didn't know there was another molly harper book! Must find!

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  5. Pretty good reading month, nath! I'm doubly impressed by how many books you review, too!!! If only I were HALF as good as you! ; )

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  6. Alex - Yep, it's the one where the hero marries his distant cousin, but the end, I'm not sure they were really distant cousin. LOL. Anyway, I really liked that one. Just never managed to review it ^_^;;

    You're absolutely right about Balogh. She's definitively a solid and consistent author :)

    Isabel - Driving Mr. Dead was a novella. For a new full novel, you'll have to wait till the end of July :)

    Christine - Thanks Christine :) I know, me too! I'm so glad I'm reviewing this much. Seriously, the mini-reviews have helped a lot :) and the format make it easy to write them too!

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  7. Really good month Nath - you reviewed almost all of your reads! I keep meaning to start doing the monthly reads posts again but the time just gets away from me. Good for you for keeping up with them. :)

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  8. Leslie - Thanks Les! I'm looking forward to your monthly reads posts!! :) I think it's good I took away the pressure of posting it on the first of each month. Now, it's more relax :) Most important at the end is that it's being done :)

    And seriously, the Week-End's Minis feature really made my life easier!

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