Sunday, October 2, 2011

September Reads

on Paper/eBook

Since the Surrender by Julie Anne Long - A - see my full review here.  It's my **pick of the month**

 I Kissed An Earl by Julie Anne Long - B-/C+  I liked this one in spite of it's flaws.  It's got swash and buckle and a lot of humour but the plot and the characters weren't as well put together as in earlier books.  So far, I've generally enjoyed the "Eversea" books more than the "Redmond" books in this series.  I liked Flint quite a bit the heroine, Violet, was occasionally very nearly TSTL (and I note via Goodreads that many others thought she was actually TSTL).  I liked the melancholy and the doomed lovers and, as mentioned before, the swashbuckling high seas adventure of it but I thought the ending involving Lyon was left dangling. It's my least favourite of the series so far.  Also, what of Fatima?  Since the Surrender is so much better.

Treachery in Death by JD Robb - A - watch for a full review at ARRA.  Suffice to say that this is an excellent instalment in the series.  Loved it.

Lucien's Gamble by Sylvia Day - DNF -  This was a Kindle freebie.  I got halfway through before the eye-rolling got too much for me.  I've loved some things this author has written, but this one didn't work for me.

Untraceable by Laura Griffin - C.  I've been reading wonderful things about this series and I wanted to give it a try.  Even though each book can be read stand alone, I'm the type who likes to read in order when I can so I went and bought the whole series.  It was okay but there were some timeline issues which confused me - one of the characters has a baby and so, logically, she would have either been heavily pregnant at the beginning of the book or just having given birth - in either case - ew!  I found it hard to follow the timeline - there weren't enough clues to tell me how much time had passed.  The heroine, Alex, seemed a lot less competent in actuality than we were told she was.  Even though this is the first Tracers book, Alex and Nathan had met in a previous book so I felt like I was missing something.  I didn't hate it and will try the other books but this one didn't set me on fire.

St. Nachos by ZA Maxfield - B This is the first in Maxfield's St. Nacho's series - I think there are 4 now.  I was tooling around on her website the other day reading excepts and got hooked and bought the first 2. Cooper is a drifter and musician who lands in St. Ignacio (called St. Nacho's by the locals) and finds himself stopping at Nacho's Bar, where he meets Shawn, a hot and deaf, busboy. When I think about it, there was plenty that wasn't in this book which I would have liked to be, like details about Shawn's life and Cooper's scars but I liked the mood and I liked Shawn's openhearted love and acceptance of Cooper so I graded on how I felt when I finished the book.  There was almost no conflict in the first half of the book, then the second half took kind of a right turn from where I was expecting it to go.  There were a lot of things about Cooper and Shawn which were left unexplored and I certainly had a lot less sympathy for  Jordan than the characters had (which might be a problem because he's the hero in book 2, Physical Therapy); also, I kept expecting the preacher to turn out to be extra creepy. but I liked it and I believed in the HEA in spite of the book's flaws.

The Sweetest Thing (Lucky Harbor #2) by Jill Shalvis - B Sweet, funny and sexy, this is the second instalment of the Lucky Harbor trilogy and features the eldest of the sisters, Tara, and Ford (who is smokin' by the way).  It lacked any real conflict to block the HEA for the characters but I liked Ford so much it was no hardship to read!  I thought the whole contact with adoptive parents thing was glossed over but the parts with the competition between Logan and Ford were fun and I enjoyed the Facebook poll with Twitter updates!

Instant Temptation (Wilder #3) by Jill Shalvis - B-This is TJ Wilder and Harley's story - for those of us who had read the earlier books, it was pretty obvious these two were going to get together - their URST was off the charts.  It was a mostly fun sexy story and it was good to see Harley and TJ finally get together but again there wasn't a huge amount of conflict.  There was a mild suspense subplot which didn't go anywhere which I thought was not needed.  It was an enjoyable read, but nothing earth shattering.

The Kowalksi Series (Exclusively Yours, Undeniably Yours and Yours to Keep) by Shannon Stacey - reviewed here  Overall, I'd give this series a B/B-

The Guy Next Door (anthology)

Ready Set Jett by Lori Foster - I read this a while ago and it obviously made a big impression on me - I noted "C - meh".

Just One Taste by Victoria Dahl (Donovan Brothers Brewery 0.5) - Ungraded  I decided to read Dahl's Donovan family series next because I'm in the mood for contemporary and I thought I'd start at the beginning - now that I have all 3 of the novels, I felt happy reading this story which doesn't actually have a HEA - it's more a prequel to the series. While it is the first chronologically in the series, the story between Beth and Eric hasn't been fully told.  I think I would have found this very dissatisfying if I had not had the other 3 books to read immediately after.  However, as I was warned and prepared, there was no harm done.  I plan to grade this story within the grade for Eric's book, Real Men Will.  It's ungraded here because I it's not complete and I can't give a grade til I finish the story!  I will say, that I liked what I read so far however.

I haven't read the Susan Donovan story (Gail's Gone Wild) yet.

Good Girls Don't (Donovan Brothers Brewery #1) by Victoria Dahl- B-  Hot (hot!) sex scenes and a good story but I'm not sure I entirely connected with the heroine, Tessa Donovan.  I quite liked Detective Luke Asher, the hero though!.     Tessa was only 14 when her parents were killed in a car accident and 24 year old Eric stepped in to care for her and Jamie (then 16).  Afraid of those she loves leaving, she goes to extraordinary lengths to try and relieve the constant friction between the two brothers, including increasingly difficult to manage lies. Tessa had her reason for all the lying but as the story went on, it got old very quickly and it was very unattractive. I will say that the lie (to Jamie) about her being a virgin was pretty funny though.   For much of the book, it seems that there is the story of the siblings and their Brewery and there's the story of her relationship with Luke and I wondered at one point why there was so very much focus on the former.  However, toward the end of the book, Ms. Dahl brings the threads together and it made sense.  I enjoyed the book, but I did find it hard to really connect with Tessa's character.
Also, in case you're wondering, the Brewery was named by Tessa's father -  for himself and his brother - so it's not sexist or anything.

Bad Boys Do (Donovans Brothers Brewery #2) by Victoria Dahl - B+  - I plan to post a full review next week.  It doesn't suffer from "middle book syndrome"!!


on Audio

Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue by Stephanie Laurens, narrated by Matthew Brenher - D+  there will be an edited version of my rant in an upcoming AAR Speaking of Audiobooks column and then I will post the full review on Goodreads and, possibly on the blog too (depending on my motivation at the time! :D)

 Die for Me by Karen Rose, narrated by Tavia Gilbert - B+ This is another one I reviewed for AAR - much more successful however!  The review is contained in this column.

Scream for Me by Karen Rose, narrated by Tavia Gilbert - B.  After the enjoyment of Die for Me, I had a mini glom on Karen Rose and picked up this one.  I had read it before (as was the case with DfM) but enjoyed it very much on audio.  Tavia Gilbert is a very good narrator (she did Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series also).  The story isn't quite as strong, IMO as in DfM but it was nevertheless an enjoyable experience.

Kill for Me by Karen Rose, narrated by Tavia Gilbert - C- I've had the paperback on my TBR but hadn't got around to reading it and after the enjoyment of the previous 2 in this trilogy, I was keen to listen to this one and see how it ended.  Unfortunately, this was not so much of a success for me.  The hero in this book is Luke Papadopoulos.  He's from Georgia, with a Greek heritage.  It was hard enough to picture a dark Greek looking man with a Georgian accent but then Ms. Gilbert topped it off with one that was pretty high pitched.  I just couldn't get it to mesh with what I knew of this character.  Also, Susannah Vartanian - she's grown up in Georgia and then moved to New York when she was about 18 or 19 I think.  She has a midwest accent, with no trace of the drawl.  Alex Fallon on the other hand (the heroine in the previous book) had left Georgia when she was 16 and moved to Iowa and still had a strong Southern accent so again, that jarred for me a little (although to a lesser degree).    I could have got around all of that but then there was the story.    The evil villains were so evil they bordered on caricatures and just about all of them conveniently kept seekrit journals (a handy plot device but badly overused here).  Near the end, it was like those monster movies where the zombie won't die - you know, where everyone's breathing a sigh of relief and then the zombie gets up and attacks again?  Well, this book was kind of like that, except it happened more than once.   There was a bit of eye rolling.  Finally, Susannah is a victim of sexual abuse; she was raped by a gang of unknown men when she was 16 and then again (but by one man this time) when she was 23.  Still, after only a few days of knowing Luke, she's having a fairly healthy sexual relationship with him.  The book itself only covers about 2 weeks and it is the longest of the trilogy.  In terms of "page time" it was nearly 3/4 of the way through when they started getting busy but it was only a few days in "real time".  I didn't buy it.  Also, given that Luke spends a lot of his days looking (unwillingly) at kiddie porn (in order to catch the bad guys - he's in internet crime), it seemed a bit incongruous to me that he had "dark" sexual tastes.  Apparently Susannah does too, but their activities in the book were actually quite vanilla, so there were things which didn't add up for me.  I got the impression that the trilogy hadn't been completely planned at the beginning (I have no idea whether this is the case or not) and there were some continuity issues which were pretty obvious when listening back to back but which I probably would have missed if I had just read the books as they were released.

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison, narrated by Sophie Eastlake - A. This is another I've reviewed for AAR.  My favourite audio for the month.  Great story and great narration.  I'm looking forward to listening to the next books in this series.
ETA - The column is up - you can find the review here

How to Flirt With A Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper, narrated by Amanda Ronconi - B-.   I like Amanda Ronconi's narration but I don't think this story is as strong as the Jane Jameson books.  There's also a little problem with the timeline - it's clear that there were aren't "out" in this book as they are in the JJ books, but all of the books sound like they are set "now".  However, there is a reference in this one to "Specialty Books" from JJ - to make it fit together, this story has to be set some years before the Jane Jameson books, before the were and vampires made their existence public.  The reference to Specialty Books could have been totally deleted and the story would have lost nothing and then I wouldn't have been confused.
The story actually started off a bit "women's fiction-y" for my tastes but I enjoyed it a lot better once Mo's romance with Cooper heated up.  Speaking of heat, I thought this one was a little more spicy than the JJ books, which I quite liked actually.  I'll be happy to listen to another werewolf book but Jane's books are the best so far.

New York To Dallas, by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B.  This is the first full length In Death story I have listened to on audio first - usually I read the paper version - but I decided to step out of my usual routine here. I found it to be another enjoyable installment in the series but it wasn't the best that I've read or listened to.  Isaac McQueen has escaped from prison.  Known as "the Collector" at the time of his arrest (by Rookie Officer Eve Dallas), he was responsible for the abduction, rape and torture of some 26 girls and the murder of an unknown number of women.   Isaac wants revenge on Eve and when he escapes he draws her to Dallas where he has nefarious plans.  Eve and Roarke go together to consult with the Dallas police and try and save his recent abductee.  While there, Eve has to further confront her past and makes a stunning discovery.  Roarke, for the first time, feels helpless and at a loss (these were my favourite bits - oh, the angst!).  I have come to realise that I enjoy the parts of the series where Roarke is emotionally tortured however, so I wonder what that says about me!!   Of necessity, this book lacked much of the usual secondary characters like Peabody, McNab, Mavis etc. and I did miss them a bit.  A very good book, but I'd rate Treachery in Death higher for story.  As always, very well narrated by the superb Susan Ericksen.

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