Friday, July 8, 2011

June Reads

On Paper/eBook

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh - B/B+  see full review here.

Whispers of Sin by Nalini Singh (from Burning Up anthology) - C+.  Set in 2072, some years before Slave to Sensation (book 1 in the Psy-Changeling series), this is Ria and Emmett's story. It's funny to see Dorian so young! I thought it had an excellent start but it kind of fizzled a little for me by the end - I wonder if it's because the story, due to it's length, couldn't be fleshed out enough to satisfy - I wanted more Emmett!

 Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews - B+ I'd only listened to the audio version but decided to read the book in the lead up to the release of Magic Slays.  Very, very good.  I love this series.  Curran.  Rowr.

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews B+/A- see full review here.

When Tony Met Adam by Suzanne Brockmann C+/B- Well, the good news is that the bedroom door was open this time! :)  I really enjoyed the beginning of the story but I felt it ended very abruptly and didn't give me the closure I wanted and the belief in the HEA.  I know, from reading Hot Pursuit, that they were together some time later as Tony and Adam hooked up in New York (off page) during that book.  For a story which was celebrating the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell, I thought it was odd that the celebration part was *mild spoiler* one paragraph stating that the characters were getting married after the policy was revoked.    I liked it but ended up wanting more to really satisfy. 

We're Both Straight, Right? by Jamie Fessenden - B+ I picked this up after reading Chris's review on Goodreads.  Thank you for the rec Chris! :D  What a funny little story!  I'm sure it's all sorts of politically incorrect and there were niggles about some aspects of the story but overall, it was a sexy and LOL short about 2 straight college roommates - one hears that they can earn big $ doing gay porn and then, of course, they have to practice.  In the end, I enjoyed it so much, that I was prepared to ignore my slight niggles and just go along for the ride.  Really fun.

Breaking Point by Pamela Clare - B+ The risk with a much anticipated book is that it will not live up to expectations.  This is even more so if one has gorged on glowing reviews all over the interwebs before actually getting to the reading part.  Perhaps that is why I still rate Naked Edge as the best in the I-Team series and Gabe as my favourite hero.   Or not.  I enjoyed the bromance between Julian and Marc. I enjoyed the time Natalie and Zach spent in the desert (well, apart from the tarantulas - so not ever going to the Sonoran desert and also, could not watch a movie version) - I think I was expecting that part of the book to be much longer.  Once they got back to "civilisation" I thought the book was a little weaker.  I also wondered at Natalie's career decision at the end of the book.  Not the decision itself - but more that there hadn't seemed to be any set up for it and it just kind of plopped in there at the end.  However, that may sound like I didn't enjoy the book - not true.  I did.  Quite a bit in fact.  But, Gabe's still my favourite :) 

Unlocked by Courtney Milan - B+ Self publishing authors take note - this is a very good example of how to do it right.  I picked this one up after all the hype over at Dear Author and Smart Bitches.  I'm happy to report that the hype was largely deserved.  While I wouldn't gush quite as much, there was a lot to like in this novella. I very much liked the prose and the way Milan captured the genuine guilt and remorse of the hero.
But this notion that all the hurt he'd caused could simply disappear because he wanted it to - that had been the last childish dream he'd held on to.  He let go of it now.  What you did when you were young could kill you. It just might take years to do it.
And, I liked the way Evan had to work (and work hard) for his redemption.  It wasn't one kiss and all is forgiven.   I have Unveiled on my TBR.  I may have to push it up the list now (of course, I say that about so many books that it doesn't really change anything but...)

Trinity by Lauren Dane - C-  Maybe if I'd read any of the previous Cascadia Wolves books I would have enjoyed this one more.  I didn't really understand the mythology - I don't think this is a good book to start the series.  We commence with Renee (a witch) and her mate Galen (a jaguar shifter) all happy together.  Then they meet Jack (a wolf shifter) who recognises Renee as his mate. It turns out that both Galen and Jack have been with males before and all three end up in a menage - so there's m/f and a little m/m too. The sex is hot and there is some nice prose in the writing in parts but overall I felt the story was disjointed and uneven.  Galen courted Renee for a number of months and they didn't just fall into bed together.  Contrast this with Jack - they're all getting it on very quickly.  Too quickly for me to really believe I'm afraid.  I would have liked the m/m aspect explored more as it seemed uneven to me.  The men were both in the relationship for Renee and the only way both could be mated to her was to have a tri-mate relationship.  The m/m sex was just icing I think.  By the end of the book the guys are saying they love each other too but it is a pale thing compared to what they feel for Renee.   The suspense subplot which runs through the book is UNRESOLVED. (Argh!) I wish I had've known that going in.  Apparently it will be completed in the next book but I don't think I'm likely to read it unfortunately.

Bad Company by KA Mitchell - C+ An enjoyable enough story but not, I think, as strong as previous books by this amazing author.  I think part of my problem was the set up of the story - childhood friends who'd had a major falling out and had lost tough.  Rich friend turns up on other friend's doorstep and says, I'm trying to piss daddy off - can I move in and pretend to be your boyfriend - because daddy is a massive homophobic prick.  Unfortunately, the set up made it hard for me to like the characters at first and just when I was starting to like them, the story was ending.  The sex was hot and there were some amusing parts of the book about the gay lifestyle and gay sex (rich friend is not afraid to ask questions!).  I heard the author is working on a book called Bad Boyfriend.  I wonder if it will feature the same characters?

On Audio

Reunion in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B+ Continuing on my JD Robb audio glom, this is another solid offering in the series.

 Purity in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B+ Ditto!  (Also, some nice stuff with McNab and Peabody and Mavis is "knocked up".)

Raziel by Kristina  Douglas (aka Anne Stuart), narrated by Karen White and Paul Costanzo - Story B- , Narration B stars - Karen White B+ , Paul Costanzo C-. This is the first book in a new PNR series so there's a fair bit of world building to do which means that the romance doesn't take up as much page time as in say, a straight contemporary or an historical.  I found the romance between Raziel and Ally didn't really get going until about 2/3 the way through the book and, I felt just when I was really getting in to it, the story ended.  I still have some questions which hopefully will be answered in the next book - eg what happens to the angel's wings?  The concept is interesting and I'm interested in continuing the series but it took some time for me to connect with the romance aspect of this one.
Raziel has a dual narration - Karen White reads the female POV and Paul Costanzo reads male POV - the story is told in alternating first person, mostly from Ally and Raziel's POV.  This was my first experience with both narrators.  Karen White reads with great expression and I thought she conveyed the... not abrasiveness... but something a bit nicer... of Ally very well.  Her male voices are more by way of tone rather than a deepening of pitch but it was easy to tell the difference between Ally and Raziel. Differences between the other Fallen were harder to pick and I relied dialogue tags (and sometimes there weren't any so I had to guess) in those circumstances.  Overall, I was quite happy with Karen White's narration and I probably would have enjoyed the book better if she had done all of it.  Because, I didn't think all that much of Paul Costanza's frankly.  This was a first person book, when Raziel is talking about strong emotions, I expect to hear that emotion in the voice, but Mr. Costanzo's narration was very removed and mostly, for me, emotionless.  Funnily enough, the emotion he did manage to convey came mainly when he was doing Ally's voice, which was a bit "draggy" but not too bad (it's really hard for men to do a good female voice I think).  It was almost impossible to tell the difference between Raziel and the other Fallen's voices and given that Mr. Costanzo got most of the scenes where they were interacting, it did make things difficult.  I'm hoping that Mr. Costanzo's narration will either grow on me or will get more "connected" to the characters in the next book.

Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh, narrated by Angela Dawe B+ The narration was okay (maybe a C+/B-) but the story is just so good I really enjoyed this one anyway.  With an okay narrator an excellent story is still very good.  With an excellent narrator and excellent story is AMAZING - see below.

** pick of the month **
Maybe this Time by Jennifer Crusie, narrated by Angela Dawe - A.
Same narrator, totally different result for me.  Dawe's narration style suits the contemporary (well, 1992) setting and the snap and zing of Crusie's dialogue and general writing style.  Sure, Dawe has pretty much only 1 male/hero voice but wow, this was a big win for me.   
I like second chance at love stories and this one was one of the best of its type I've read in a long while.  Andi and North have been divorced for 10 years, having been married for only 1 year (and after a 12 hour courtship).  Andi visits North to return 10 years worth of alimony checks and to tell him she's getting engaged (to Will).  North's cousin (?) died a while back and left him the guardian of 2 minor children who live in an actual castle in Southern Ohio with a weird housekeeper - their Aunt (on the other side of the family) died a few months prior and a series of nannies have quit/been driven off - could Andi go and help out for a month, help get the children ready to move to Columbus and get them ready to start school?  He'll pay her $10,000.  So, that's the basic set up.   

The children are well realised - Alice is high maintenance and highly strung.  Carter is very quiet and closed off.  Mrs. Crumb, the housekeeper is creepy and the castle is haunted.  Yup.    By the final stages of the book, we have a medium, a skeptic, a reporter, Andi's hippie/flaky mother, North's uptight mother, North's brother Southie, the children and Crumb all at the castle trying to get rid of the various ghosts.  So, it's partly a farce.  But it's also a love story as North and Andi reconnect and actually deal with what went wrong 10 years before so that it won't happen again.  And there's the love story between Andi and the children.  I really liked Andi and I really liked North.  I thought Crusie did a great job of showing the  differences between the two characters, their attraction and how and why things went awry and then giving them a believable second chance.    And Alice won my heart. That's why this one is my   **pick of the month**.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James, narrated by Karen White, C-. Funny thing about narrators.  I loved Angela Dawe's narration of Maybe This Time but thought is was okay but not great in the Psy/Changeling series (so far).  I love Susan Ericksen's narration of the In Death series but found it hard to translate that same enjoyment to Anne Stuart's Ruthless which she also narrated.  Similarly, I really liked Ms. White's narration in Raziel (see above).  It didn't work for me so well here.  I read the book a while back and thought it was a solid B read.  It's a snappy contemporary with smart, quick dialogue and sizzle between the main characters.  I could totally see it as a romantic comedy at the movies.  I felt the pacing of the narration was slow and Jason and Taylor came across as snide, superior and sarcastic - the whole way through the book - it made it hard for me to like them.  When I read the book, Jason starts off as a bit of an asshat but he redeemd himself by the end of the book.  Taylor is quick with the comebacks and doesn't take any shit but I didn't think she was superior and snobby.  But that's how I felt about her when I listened.  
So, that's my take.  I am however, an outlier.  I know of many others who have listened to and enjoyed this one way more than me - some even saying that they liked the audio better than the book.


Chris said...

I really enjoyed We're Both Straight, Right?

I wanted to slap Nate throughout much of Bad Company. That always makes for a frustrating read!

Kaetrin said...

Hi Chris *waves* We're Both Straight, Right? was one of those stories where I was laughing and grinning like a loon most of the way through. After, when I really thought about it, I realised there were some gaps in the story and things I didn't feel were well explained, but while I was reading, I just enjoyed the heck out of it. I grade more on how I feel at the end of the book and, in the end, when a story makes me overlook it's flaws, it does say there's something special about it, I think.

As for Bad Company, I thought the set up put the characters behind the 8ball in terms of likeability, which made everything so much harder.