Sunday, December 11, 2011

November Reads

on Paper/eBook

Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong - DNF Not a success.  See why here.

Something Different by SA Reid - A-/B+ see my full review here.

No Holds Barred by Callie Croix - C  A somewhat undeveloped sexy short about a couple sharing a threesome with his best buddy. There were some serious issues not really fleshed out, I wasn't 100% convinced of her consent at first and it ended on kind of a weird note for me.  But it was certainly sexy.







Happily Never After by Jeaniene Frost - C+Here's a review I wrote which appeared in the November ARRA newsletter.
This is a cute e-short featuring Bones’ good friend Chance.   Greta, an old acquaintance of Bones, asks a favour of him. As he is unable to do it himself, he asks Chance to go in his stead.  Greta’s grandson is missing and her granddaughter is being harassed by a mafioso type.  Chance takes one look at Isabella and decides he really needs to get to know her better and he’s definitely not going to allow her to be forced into marriage with a mafia don wannabe.
The mafia aspects to the story were very tongue-in-cheek and amusing, if somewhat improbable.  Chance and Isabella have an instant attraction and a very smexy scene.   Ms. Frost writes strong heroines and Isabella, even without vampire strength and ability is not entirely powerless and is able to help take down the bad guys.  Plus, she uses Vagisil as a weapon! :D
It’s a steamy short read and fans of the Night Huntress series will enjoy.

 A Little Harmless Surprise - C+.  A free short featuring characters from a previous story (which I haven't read).  It was sexy and hot but as I hadn't read the earlier book, I didn't have the same connection that those who have read it would not doubt have.  It did make me want to try a full length story though - I think I have one on my TBR somewhere.... *fossick, rustle*
ETA:  Actually, I don't - must remedy that stat.





The Debutante's Dilemma - Elyse Mady - D  *spoilers ahoy* Improbable story of a Regency Debutante who wants a marriage of passion.  With two highly eligible suitors, she is unable to choose from, she decides to meet them to see if she has chemistry with either of them.  It felt to me like the author had a Regency thesaurus or something and kept throwing likely words in so I wouldn't forget the time period.  It didn't feel natural.  Also, Suitor 1 is a Duke and Suitor 2 is an Earl.  Both have responsibilities to their estates and to think that she could actually marry one and have some kind of permanent menage with both was just too much for me to bear.  Also, she is a virgin debutante with virtually no experience or knowledge, but you wouldn't know that from her behaviour in the greenhouse.  And, having twins 10 months after the marriage with one fair haired and one dark haired child - um, hur??  Am I supposed to believe that she's had a child of each in one pregnancy?  Really?  I only finished it because it was short. 
I have however, heard good things about this author's contemporaries so I might give her another go in that subgenre - her style might work better for me there.

Convincing Arthur by Ava March - C+  Good sexy short about a man (Leopold) who has been in love with another (Arthur) for 10 years but has been waiting for Arthur to be available.  Leopold has a bit of a reputation for gambling, drinking and whoring and Arthur is all about discretion.   Can Leopold convince Arthur to take a chance on a relationship with him?






My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne - B  see my full review here.

The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne - B+  full review to come.

Head Over Heels (Lucky Harbor #3) by Jill Shalvis - B+  full review to come.

Holiday Kisses Anthology - 4 contemporary Christmas novellas.  So far I have only read 2 of them. Warning. I seem to be an outlier on these two novellas.  I liked, but did not love them.
I'll review the other 2 stories in December's round up.  Maybe I'll be feeling more of the love by then :)

This Time Next Year by Alison Kent  - C+  Brenna is driving up a snowy mountain to visit her Gran for Christmas.  Afterward, she is jetting off to Malawi to volunteer in a clinic there for a year (she's a nurse).  Brenna has an accident after narrowly missing a deer in the road and ends up in a deep snowdrift.  Riding to the rescue, literally, comes Dillon, a doctor and former military man who carries scars from his tours in  Afghanistan. This one had its moments for me but there were some things which struck me as a little odd - hello stranger danger - I mean, he could have been a serial killer - he wasn't of course, heroes never are, but she didn't know that.  Also there were some leaps taken emotionally  (from attraction to love) in 2 or 3 days which I couldn't quite get on board with.   The last little bit was unusual as they only had access to each other via snail mail and in this day and age, I would have thought that skype or email would have been possible even from Malawi.
I did like that Brenna still went to Malawi, that she didn't just chuck her life in to be with him but I would have liked a previous connection or a slower fall into love to fully believe the HEA.  Still, a year had passed and they had each had time to process and Dillon had had time to heal.  Part of me was sad this was done off page as more Dillon is not a bad thing - I would have liked to have a deeper understanding of him.  Part of me was very glad that his healing wasn't actually because of her.  He did it for himself.  Maybe she was the inspiration but the rest was all him.  I felt that by the end they were each getting whole people as partners but I wondered if the story was just too big for the length of the novella?


A Rare Gift by Jaci Burton - C  We first met Wyatt Kent in Jaci Burton's 2010 holiday novella All She Wants for Christmas, which was brother Ethan's story.  Wyatt is cynical and solitary after a bitter divorce. Calliope Andrews is the sister of Wyatt's ex-wife.  The Kent brothers have a construction company and Calliope runs a day care centre that needs an extension.   That is what brings the couple together and the URST is obvious once their in the same room together.
The sticking point for me was the whole dating-my-sister's-ex-husband thing.  There was very little, particularly early in the book, which addressed the squick factor of the former sister-in-law becoming the the new lover/wife.  It's not my favourite type of story as I do see a squick factor here but I feel if it's going to be done, the elephant in the room needs to be addressed.  Maybe it's only me who sees the elephant though because it seemed to be glossed over to me.    
The other aspect which didn't ring true was that bitter, twisted Wyatt had ONE conversation with his ex-wife and all of a sudden the bitterness was gone.  I'm not sure I really understood why he was so bitter in the first place, especially given that it seemed to be solved so easily.  Leaving aside those 2 things, I did enjoy the rest of the book.  Ms. Burton can surely write a smokin' sex scene!  Apart from that though, there was connection and affection between Calliope and Wyatt and I liked them, separately and as a couple,  but the "elephants" were too big for me to truly buy into the premise and that has affected my grading.


on Audio

Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison, narrated by Sophie Eastlake B+. See my full review here.

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole, narrated by Robert Petkoff - B-  Lachlain MacReive has been imprisoned and tortured by the Vampire Horde for 150 years when he scents his mate.  Emmaline Troy is a half vampire/half Valkyrie who feels she doesn't quite belong anywhere.  The first scenes between Emma and Lachlain are a bit uncomfortable as there is a lack of consent to his initial sexual advances and Emma is clearly powerless against him.  However, once the story gets going, Emma is able to exert her authority and things start to balance out.    I find I'm becoming more sensitive to consent issues and that has affected my grade - otherwise it would have been a solid B.  Mr. Petkoff does a good job with the narration and for the most part, has a really good female voice.  I thought Emma's got a bit deeper (and therefore drag-y) toward the middle of the book, but the beginning and the end of the story, were very well done.  Much of the book was told from Lachlain's POV and Mr. Petkoff had a very good Scottish accent and a nice deep voice which was pleasant on the ears.  I'm looking forward to the next books in the series.

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole, narrated by Simone Fomhar and Hagan Verrett - C  Simone Fomhar narrates the female POV and Hagan Verrett the male POV in this one.  I didn't love Ms. Fomhar's narration - her pacing was just a little too fast for me.  I like Ms. Verrett's better, although there were times where his Myst voice veered into drag territory, he mostly stayed out of it.  He had a much better accent for Nikolai.  It's been a fair while since I read this story in print and I'd forgotten how rape-y it was. There is quite a bit of dubious consent going on which made me a little uncomfortable.  Also, really ugly cover.


Survivor in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B+.  This is one of those books which made me cry in print and the audio was no exception.  Susan Ericksen is so good at conveying the emotion of Nixie, the little girl whose family is killed while they were sleeping.  I've always thought that this author excels at making me care in a few short paragraphs about the victims in this series and there are plenty of examples of just that in this book. Also, because one of the children killed was a sleepover guest who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, as a parent, this story had me a bit chilly.

Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank, narrated by Xe Sands - C+ As much as it amazes me that Xe Sands can make her voice do that low growly baritone and not hack up a lung after, I found this book a bit....slow.  There was a lot of time when nothing really happened and I think there is a contender for longest love scene ever in here.   Because there was little action and I can't skim listen the way I can skim read, this was less enjoyable for me than I'd hoped.  I did enjoy Xe's narration though.

Born in Fire by Nora Roberts, narrated by Fiacre Douglas - B-. watch out for a review over at AAR.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Holter Graham - A-  First of all, why why WHY is the novella Alpha and Omega not available on audio?  :(  I've read the novella so the story makes much more sense to me but without it I really wonder about how listeners can get the true Charles/Anna relationship.  The novella is a complete story but it also serves as the (effectively) first few chapters of Cry Wolf, as the book starts off right after the novella.  It's a crying shame I tell you!!
Now that I've got that off my chest, on to the actual review. I love this book.  I've read it twice and now listened to it as well.  Anna is an amazing character - abused and scared, she is nevertheless brave and strong and heroic.  What I like about Patricia Briggs' female leads is that they always participate in the final takedown of the bad guys.  Charles rescues Anna from a bad situation in Chicago (in Alpha and Omega) but Anna's skills and courage are needed to defeat the evil in Cry Wolf.  I love that Anna is part of it rather than that things just happen to her.
This book starts when Bran and Charles return to Montana with Anna, after the events in Alpha and Omega.  There is a rogue werewolf killing humans in the Cascade mountains and Charles and Anna head into the cold to find and deal with the threat, which, of course, is not all as it first seems to be.
I enjoyed Holter Graham's narration quite a bit.  He doesn't try to do a female voice for Anna, he just softens his tone a little and this was quite effective.  At first I thought his voice for Charles was a bit... wrong but after some thought, I changed my view.  Charles is not a talker.  He's not good with words and he thinks before he speaks (and during the speaking too).  Mr. Graham had him talking in a deep slow voice which reflected that.  Initially I mistook the slow for stupid.  And Charles is NOT stupid.  But, when I listened to the words in the description of Charles, Mr. Graham was right - Charles does speak slowly.
This series is more romantic than the Mercy Thompson series, mainly because it features Charles and Anna as a couple working together to solve various conflicts.  Having said that, it is more on the "sweet" side of the heat level.  Which just goes to prove that hot smex does not necessarily a great book make.

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Holter Graham - B+  Hunting Ground takes place shortly after Cry Wolf ends and the relationship between Anna and Charles is still quite new.  They are dealing with the fallout of the abuse suffered at the hands of her former pack in Chicago and Charles is getting used to having a wife - he's been a loner for most of his life.  Charles and Anna head to Seattle  as ambassadors for Bran to meet with the European delegation regarding their opposition to Bran's plan to reveal the existence of werewolves to the world.  The European wolves can't stop it from happening - Bran is the Marrok and in the US, his word is law for werewolves, but he wants to calm their fears and help them out as much as possible.  While in Seattle, a group of hired vampires attack and/or kill various cast members and it becomes clear that Anna is a target.
I liked this book but not quite as much as Cry Wolf.  In this one, I kind of had to cross my eyes and hunch to make the plot make sense to me (in terms of who the 'bad guy' was) and, after getting used to.  Also, after coming to the conclusion that Holter Graham's voice for Charles in Cry Wolf was spot on, he went and changed it for this book!!  It is particularly noticeable listening to the books back to back.  In this one, Charles had a normal guy's voice - deep and pleasant to the ear but different to the one previously used.  I liked the first one better.  Still, a very good listen and I highly recommend this series as well as the Mercy Thompson series - either on audio or on paper/ebook.

8 comments:

Chris said...

How long does it take you to put together one of these post?! O.o

Kaetrin said...

I often think that about your Linkity posts Chris!

I started the December reads post at the same time I finished this one and add to it slowly over the month.

It does take time but I wanted to say something about each book I read/listened to so that I didn't just review the books I liked. Personally, I prefer to see reviews both good and bad from a reviewer so I can understand their tastes and decide whether their recs will likely be successes for me. Also, it forces me to post at least 1x per month! I'm starting to do a bit more though - I'm getting faster at writing reviews now (and trying to be less wordy).

Chris said...

I discovered that writing long reviews took the joy out of reading for me, which was how I ended up with the reviewettes. :)

Marg said...

I struggle with the whole falling in love with your former brother in law thing in Jaci Burton's story as well. It's the second one of these stories that I have read in the last few months and I struggled with it then.

It took me a while to get into Allison Kent's novella. In the end I came round to it, but yes, I was glad that she still went, and I would have liked to have seen more of the healing process for Dillon too.

The Shannon Stacey story made me cry and the other one was okay too.

Kaetrin said...

@Marg. Glad it's not just me! :) I thought I'd take a break before reading the other two Holiday Kisses stories because I was feeling a bit grinchy by the end of the second novella and was a bit worried that would affect my read of the other two. I'm really looking forward to the Shannon Stacey story - hers was my favourite from last years anthology.

I'm reading the m/m anthology now - Men Under the Mistletoe and I'm about 2/3 through the final story (by KA Mitchell). This has been a much better success for me. I've enjoyed all of them (so far). The Harper Fox story was just lovely and the KA Mitchell is living up to my expectations.

Kaetrin said...

@Chris - I can see that - if reviewing becomes a chore I think I'd stop. But, I did/do need to learn to be more concise in general I believe.

Xe said...

I'm glad you enjoy the "gravelly baritone" :) You are not alone in feeling that the pacing was much slower in Gideon - many have commented about that. If you are game to continue, I will say that the pacing for the remaining four books is much quicker, akin to Jacob. I would guess that Gideon's pacing/level of action was written that way to match the hero's calm and deliberate demeanor. The rest of the heroes are volatile alphas :)

Kaetrin said...

Hey Xe! Thx for visiting. :)