Friday, December 07, 2012

Monthly Reads - October 2012

TGIF yay! I can't wait till the end of the working day. It seems like this week has been really busy and going by very slowly ^_^; And I have to say, I'm starting to dread the coming weeks. It just seems like there is a lot of work ahead of me and very little time. By the way, it seems like there will be a good outcome about my job situation after New Year, but it's not confirmed yet. As soon as it is, I'll let you know!!

For today, I was debating whether to blog about books or curling LOL. Seems like the two big passions of my life right now. I opted with books because I figured it'd be quicker... which I'm not sure it was LOL. But also because there's an in-club tournament this week-end and I might as well cover that in my next recap, right? So stay tuned for it next week!

Now, let's talk about my first love: books! Here is what I read back in October! I can't believe we're in December ^_^; I'm so behind on my review! Although this post should help :)


1) When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen: C-


2) The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan: B


3) Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong: C+


4) Believe in Me by Laura Moore: B+


5) Trouble Me by Laura Moore: B-/C+
Upcoming Review.


6) Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance: B-


7) Death's Mistress by Karen Chance: B+
Upcoming Review.


8) Fury's Kiss by Karen Chance: B
Upcoming Review.


9) Home for the Summer by Mariah Stewart: C-

The cover of Home for the Summer caught my eyes and then, I decided to read it because it was a friends to lovers trope. When they were kids, Lucy Sinclair and Clay Madison were best friends. However, for some some reasons unknown to Clay, Lucy started to isolate herself from everyone during high school and now, they are more like regular acquaintances. Nowadays, Lucy is a successful event planner based on the West Coast and seldom comes back home while Clay is happy with his farm and has just started an organic brewery business. When work brings Lucy back to St. Dennis for several months, Clay decides he wants to reconnect with Lucy and see where it leads them. But there's a reason Lucy left town and stayed away... and it might just keep them apart.

It's nice to read low-level conflict romances from time to time, which is what Home for the Summer was. Overall, the story was sweet and the characters, nice. I liked Lucy and Clay, they were just regular people going about their life and I enjoyed seeing them reconnecting. Unfortunately, I thought there was not enough depth to the characters and to the story. In addition, the way the book was written, it was quite passive: the romance, the timeline and the events. We didn't get to see everything that was going on, which in some cases work, but not in Home for the Summer. I think it would have been better if the storyline focused on a shorter period of time and more happened, instead of Lucy and Clay reconnecting and falling into a relationship over time. Because of the passiveness, it felt like the storyline was a bit dull and as a result, I never really got hooked by it. Also, the foreshadowing of what happened to Lucy to make her avoid home was not very subtle. It was easy to guess what happened to her... I wouldn't have minded if at least, she has worked through it and moved on, but she didn't seem to. And what I really disliked was since Lucy revealed her secret to Clay, of course, something had to happen to impact her current life. It's just too coincidental and it never sits well with  me.

Bottom line, Home for the Summer was not a bad book, there was a lot of good elements to it actually. Unfortunately, it's not a memorable book either - not while reading and not afterwards :( And that's why I'm giving it a C- instead of a C.


10) What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander: B-


11) Turning Up the Heat by Laura Florand : B+
Upcoming Review.


12) The Accidental Bride by Christina Skye: C

Once again, I saw the cover, thought it was cute and decided to give it a try since I usually enjoy those fake wedding/marriage plots. However, the blurb of The Accidental Bride was a bit misleading...

Jill O'Hara is a chef whose hard work is finally paying off. Her restaurant is starting to get really good critics and her organic salsa range is becoming popular. Life should be good... until Jilly suffers a minor heart attack, prompted by too much stress. Per doctor's order, it is imperative that Jilly changes her lifestyle and if possible, her line of work, but she doesn't know how and being a chef has always been her dream. To help her out, her best friends send her to a cooking retreat which turns out to really be a knitting retreat in Lost Creek, Wyoming. There, she meets Walker Hale, the town's hero and recluse, and Winslow, his brow Lab retriever. Both have been to war and come back injured and now, help training the U.S. troops to use service dogs in hostile terrain. It's love at first sight between Jilly and Winslow, but she is not immune to Walker either... And yes, they do plan a fake wedding ceremony, but it has nothing to do with television and everything to please the retreat's owner, an elderly lady with a heart condition.

When I started The Accidental Bride, I thought the story really had potential. I liked the issues that Jilly was going through with her life, both health and career-wise. It's hard to find something you want and love to do, but Jilly did. Not only that, she is successful at it... and then, to be told she can no longer do it? How do you deal with that? The problem though with The Accidental Bride is that Ms Skye had a good premise, but once Jillly found herself in Lost Creek, it's as if the author lost direction of what she planned and started improvising and the focus of the book got shifted to something else ^_^; The focus should have been on Jilly's problems and her new life, but instead of trying to figure out those, we got knitting and Jilly's lack of skills at it. We had Jilly playing barrista and helping to extinguish a kitchen fire... and we had the whole fake wedding fiasco going on. Jilly's denial was used as an excuse for the lack of focus on her issues, but still, those were important! Also, there were a few things that weren't very logical to me and the whole wedding thing, I can't believe Jilly accepted. She's a pretty down-to-earth person, level-headed, so it's hard to believe she would accept to marry someone just to please an elderly lady whom she has known less than a week... No matter how attracted and how much she liked the fake groom. This lack of direction was really quite unfortunate because Ms Skye actually had a great hero ^_^; I actually enjoyed the connection between Walker and Jilly and where they were heading. And I loved Winslow and his dynamics with the H/H! He such a great dog character and the highlight of the book. And then, the ending was rushed with a big conflict concerning Walker's background... instead of being about Jilly's issues introduced in the beginning.

To recap The Accidental Bride had a lot of potential with a good premise and great characters, but it was never exploited because the author went on a tangent when it came to the storyline ^_^;


13) Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry: B
Upcoming Review.


14) My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr: B


15) All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey: C-


16) Within Reach by Saran Mayberry: C+
Upcoming Review.


17) All They Need by Sarah Mayberry: C+
Upcoming Review.


18) A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery: B-


19) First Impressions by Nora Roberts: C

Another book I picked up because of the cover ^_^; What can I say, I'm easily swayed :) So First Impressions is a re-print and contains two oldies from Ms Roberts: First Impressions and Blithe Images.

In First Impressions, Shane Abbot comes home after a teaching stint in the big city with the dream of converting the house she has just inherited from her great-grandmother into an antique shop. She decides to hire the new guy in town and her new neighbor, Vance Banning, because he looks like he needs the job. What she doesn't know is that Vance is actually a wealthy businessman who needed time to find himself again after an atrocious marriage to a gold-digger.

First Impressions was a nice book. I actually really liked Shane's character, she was very bubbly, optimistic and passionate. Vance was more controlled and quiet and the two balanced each other out really well and I thought the romance was sweet. At the end of the day, there's nothing new to First Impressions, but it's a good book to pass time. My one issue with it was Shane's mother. She's a calculative woman who cares only about money and beauty. When she finds herself in trouble, she comes back home to see what her grandmother has left her, which is nothing. She's determined to make trouble to Shane, but Vance scares her... He then threatens her to stay away from Shane, but the woman is vengeful and when she finds out the dirt on Vance's previous marriage, she comes back to throw it in Shane's face. Let's face it, Vance's secret about his wealth and his marriage was always going to be the conflict of this book. That's fine to me. However, I really disliked the way it was thrown in Shane's face. Quite frankly, I just don't understand why the mother came back to face Shane. Just to hurt Shane? Because she was such an evil woman? I think the story could have done without her character...


20) Blithe Images by Nora Roberts: D

Oh wow, Blithe Images... I think this is the worst book I've read by Ms Roberts ^_^; I think it's largely due to the dated style of the story.

Hilary Baxter is a model enjoying success when she is offered an exclusive 6 months contract for a very prestigious fashion magazine. Of course, she accepts and this brings her in close proximity to Bret Bardoff, owner and and publisher of the magazine. So that's the premise of the story. From the get go, you know that Hilary and Bret are attracted to each other, but they keep circling each other... They're not in a relationship, but they want to... but enters the evil woman, Charlene who is from Bret's entourage and high society. She and Bret used to have a thing, but Bret put an end to it. Yet, she still believes she is going to marry Bret and is all jealous of Hilary and warning her of.

Where to start? First, I actually liked Hilary. She was pretty level-headed and felt humane... and that's pretty much the highlight of Blithe Images. What didn't work for me was Bret. I usually love Ms Roberts' hero, but Bret, ugh. He was sooooo patronizing! And the reason why I say Blithe Images feel dated in style is because Bret feels like a stereotype of the  wealthy businessman hero in the 80's romance. The kind that doesn't show his emotions and what he is feeling. Also, I think Ms Roberts meant for him to be elusive, but the whole combination didn't work for me. Instead, it frustrated me. I think Bret should have cleared things up with Charlene from the start instead of using her to make Hilary jealous and should have just gone after Hilary. Also, it's hard for me to believe that Hilary is in love with Bret when she has barely spent quality time with him. Most of their interactions were about work and she had to figure out the man he was and meh.

So yes, Blithe Images just didn't work for me :(

***

Balance
Books bought: +6
Books read: -20
TBR pile: -14

Genres
Category Romance - 3
        --> (Contemporary - 3)
Contemporary Romance - 10
Historical Romance - 2
        --> (Regency -2)
Urban Fantasy - 3
Mystery/Thriller - 1
YA - 1

***

Obviously, I can't complain about the numbers! October was my best reading month of the year with twenty books :) Yay!! As you can see, I went on two binges: contemporary romances and Sarah Mayberry LOL. I was just in the mood for contemporary romances and just gobbled them one after the other... and since that's what I was in the mood, well naturally, I went through the Sarah Mayberry books I had in my TBR pile. I have not reviewed any of them yet... I'm hoping to do a Sarah Mayberry week eventually... Eventually being the key word LOL. I have to say, while I read a lot of books, not many stood out which is unfortunate.  Is it because I'm a tough grader? There is a bit of that probably, but I think it's the books as well. But that's a discussion for another day.

How was your month of October? Did we read any of the same books?

2 comments:

  1. All those C's beside Sarah Mayberry's name makes me sad. LOL

    Good month though Nath. :P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ames - Hmmm, I'm being tough here... They were good, but just not wowzers. Definitively no where near Her Best Worst Mistake.

    ReplyDelete