July Reads 2016

The Tiger and Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky turned out to be an interesting read, if a bit long. The revelation about Maniye’s mother, the Tiger Queen, I saw coming a mile away, the one about her father, however, shocked the hell out of me. Still didn’t like him. At first, I rooted fervently for the Tigers to make a come back and kick some serious Wolf ass, but, after I met the Tigers, I hoped someone would show up and defeat them both. I think I’d prefer to be a Serpent, a Bear, or a Horse. I don’t know if I’ll follow Maniye and her companions to the Sun River Nation in The Bear and the Serpent or not.

Next was Once a Soldier, the first book in Mary Jo Putney’s Rogue’s Redeemed series. This is a spin-off of her Lost Lords. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The secondary romance in this book was more interesting the primary one. The tiny kingdom of San Gabriel, between Portugal and Spain, fictitious though it is, does sound like a place I’d like to visit.

After that, I read the first three books in Stephanie Rowe’s Order of the Blade series. In this series, the Order is a group of elite, immortal warriors of the Caledon people (I’m still not entirely clear on what a Caledon is) formed to combat rogue Caledons. See, Caledons are fated to go rogue when they meet their fated mates, so the Order kills either them or, if it’s a member of the Order, their mate. Not sure if I’ll continue with this series.

Lisa Kleypas’s Marrying Winterbourne, book two of the Ravenels, was fun. I’ll go back and read the first one Cold-Hearted Rake, sometime before the third book, Devil in Spring comes out in February.

I tried to read Against the Wind by Kat Martin, but only got a couple of chapters in before I tossed it. Boring. Same with Cathy Maxwell’s The Fairest of Them All. That one was just plain stupid.

Next up, Rock Wedding. This is not my favorite of Nalini Singh’s series, but they don’t completely such. However, this one left something to be desired. It just didn’t have the charisma, that’s the best word I can think of to describe it, of Singh’s other novels.

Things improved with Eloisa James’s My American Duchess. I’m hoping for a sequel about Cedric. I also had fun with the first two books of Isabella Bradford’s Breconridge Brothers trilogy, A Wicked Pursuit and A Sinful Deception.

When I find the time, I’ll start Amulya Malladi’s new book, A House for Happy Mothers which will, probably, be followed by Amy E. Reichert’s Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

How about y’all. Anything good?

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June Reads 2016

Allegiance_SinghJune was a slow reading month for me. I started off with what I think of as waiting room reads The Forgotten Child and A Baby and a Wedding by Lorhainne Eckhart. I picked them because they were free on Amazon, and, frankly, they weren’t particularly memorable. Sitting here, typing this, I can’t really remember what they were about except that it involved an autistic child, a doormat, and what I’ve seen another blogger aptly refer to as an Alpha-hole.  I’m just left with the overall impression that they sucked.

After that, I dived heart first into Allegiance of Honor and loved every moment of it. It was awesome! I could wish we’d Sighs_Robertsspent more time with the wolves, though, because for a book with an ensemble cast, it was definitely cat-centric.  Read my full review:  Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh.

Then there was a quick re-read of Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts before I picked up her latest, Bay of Sighs. It was fine. This isn’t shaping up to be my favorite of her trilogies, but it was interesting. Mostly, I think, due to the mermaid. That’s new. The rest of the cast, not to mention the overall plot, is kinda deja vu.

Albion_TampkeFinally, I read Ilka Tampke’s debut novel, Skin, which for some unknown reason was re-titled Daughter of Albion here in the States. Skin, in my opinion, is much more apt. I enjoyed this one immensely and am eagerly awaiting the sequel. Historically speaking, we know what happens, but how do the characters cope with it?  Here’s my full review:  Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke.

After I finished it, my reader’s palette was still feeling a little atavistic so, instead of picking up Britt-Marie Was Here like I’d intended, I reached for The Tiger and the Wolf by new-to-me author Adrian Tchaikovsky. So far, it’s good.

What have you been reading?

April Reads 2016

Debutante-Ruin_JordanAfter finishing Because of Miss Bridgerton last month, I entered a Regency groove. Lord knows I have enough of them on my TBR pile/USB.  First, I did a quick re-read of Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me for no other reason than Pal Mal and the Mallet of Death. Then, with breaks for The Beast and The Obsession, I devoured the following series: Sophie Jordan’s Debutante Files, Lorraine Heath’s Hellions of Havisham and her Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Eva Leigh’s Wicked Quills of London.  Earl_LeighThey were all great fun.

Then I started on Sabrina Jeffries’ Sinful Suitors series.  The first book and the follow-up novella were pretty good, but I did not finish the second book, The Study of Seduction. Ethan and Clarissa were discussing their fake “secret” engagement after she was accosted by that French guy, and I just could not make myself read any further. Such convoluted idiocy. And, with that, my historical romance spree was broken.

Beast_WardThe Beast was surprisingly good. Assail didn’t bore me, for once. For the last several books, I’ve done a lot of skimming over his scenes. Especially Lover At Last. He got way too much page time in that book, and Quinn and Blay not nearly enough. But Assail’s scenes in this one. OMG! For one shining moment, I had hope that the whole Assail/Sola thing was dead and we could move on to something more interesting.  But, then, came the Cincinnati signing and all my hopes on that score were dashed. Unless the Warden plans on writing a menage HEA. I would be okay with that if it fit the story, but I know many would not. And, with what she revealed about Lassiter at the signing, the next book, The Chosen immediately went on my most anticipated list for 2017.

The Obsession was okay, but not awesome. The identity of the copy-cat killer was rather obvious. I’d pegged him for what he was shortly after he made his appearance earlier in the book.  When he made that lame attempt at blackmail.

Pompeii_Quinn-KaneAfter the romance, I was still in the mood for something historical, so I dug around/scrolled and found A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. It provided a nice visit with Quinn’s Diana Cornelia and Senator Norbanus. I also really enjoyed Shecter’s contribution, “The Son,” from the point-of-view of Pliny the Younger and Knight’s “The Mother” almost made me cry it was so sad.

The end of the month saw the beginning of my Psy-Changeling re-read.  And I started the new Eva Leigh, Temptations of a Wallflower, and Lorraine Heath, The Earl Takes All.

March Reads 2016

Written_BishopMarch was an excellent reading month, for me. I devoured two new-to-me series, one with extra relish. I loved Anne Bishop’s series The Others. There were a few people I was hoping would meet Tess, but, no such luck. Their deaths were appropriate, mostly, for their crimes, but I was saddened they didn’t get the Asia Crane experience. Vindictive? Oh, yeah.

Magical_BlakeI also blew through Deborah Blake’s Baba Yaga novels. Although, frankly, I didn’t like them as much as I thought I would. I loved the first novella, Wickedly Magical. It was laugh out loud funny, at times. The rest of the series, not so much.

OtherworldMen_ArmstrongI dipped my toes, so to speak, into Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. After reading a few of the novellas, I’m still not sure what I think. I’ll probably read the first full length novel, Bitten, before giving a final verdict. Right now, I’m on the shelf. (I couldn’t resist!)

FireTouched_BriggsAnd, speaking of Baba Yagas, there’s a strange and creepy one in Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson books, the latest of which Fire Touched, was awesome. Mercy ends up going into Underhill where she battles, among others, The Widow Queen who inspired the villainess in such tales as Snow White and Cinderella. But we start things off with a visit from an Avon lady type saleswoman and an epic battle with a huge green troll. While I prefer Charles and Anna, Mercy and Adam are a trip.

Phoenix_TylerAlso in the paranormal fiction category was the much anticipated (by me, anyway) Phoenix Reborn by J. D. Tyler, the latest of her Alpha Pack series. But I’m still a little pissed that it was a novella instead an actual novel. Nix and, especially, Noah deserved better than that. And the whole resolution of conflict was a bit of a cop out. As you can probably tell, I was more than a little disappointed in this one.

Guide_MacomberAnother disappointing read was A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber. In fact, I think I’m about ready to drop Macomber from my reading list. For the last couple of years her books, with the exception of the Blossom Street series, haven’t done anything for me. They haven’t been horrible, just not good.

Bridgerton_QuinnJulia Quinn’s latest, Because of Miss Bridgerton, was as far from a disappointment as you could get. It was hilarious, and wrenching, and heart-warming. All the things you’d expect from a Bridgerton, indeed, a Julia Quinn, novel. The ending, however, grated a bit. It was evil. That last sentence. How long do we have to wait for the next book?

Housewife_EllisAmerican Housewife, a collection of short stories by Helen Ellis was another amusing read. I especially got a kick out of “Wainscotting Wars.” The Tampax one, though, was kind of disturbing. It may take a while before I can walk passed a Tampax display without getting the heebies.

Words_LahiriI also read Jhumpa Lahiri’s new nonfiction work, In Other Words. This is the story of her journey into Italian and was, in fact, originally written in that language. It also reveals her frustration, alienation, and isolation with always being considered a foreigner in her native land, her native language. Even in that of her parents.  Very thought provoking.

1536_LipscombFinally, I read Suzannah Lipscomb’s 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII. This was a fascinating exploration of how the events of 1536 affected Henry’s physical and psychological health. Especially interesting was Dr. Lipscomb’s theories concerning the Framing of Anne Boleyn and her portrayal of Mark Smeaton as a stalker. I’m surprised the movie makers haven’t jumped all over that.

What about y’all. Read anything good lately?

LibraryReads April 2016

library_reads_logo_websiteLots of good stuff on LibraryReads’ April list. Their favorite is Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Obsession_RobertsPride and Prejudice is on of my favorite books. Normally, I give retellings a wide berth, but, with this author, I’m willing to give this one a go.

Next is this year’s Nora Roberts hardcover, The Obsession. I always read Nora Roberts. Doorway_McGuireSometimes I love and adore them, sometimes they’re just meh, but I always enjoy reading them. Rarely does she write a book I actively dislike.

Lilac_KellyTwo other books on the list perked up my interest: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

Anything on this list you can’t wait to read?

February Reads 2016

ReadingRoundup_dsI spent a lot of the first half of the month reading and skimming my way through a good portion of J. D. Robb’s In Death series. After finishing the latest, Brotherhood in Death, I thought of a few scenes from previous books that I just had to revisit. It kind of snowballed from there. Scene by scene, I hopscotched my way through over a dozen books. Sometimes I re-read the entire thing, but, mostly, I skimmed as a looked for particular moments. It was fun. Other than that, nothing really stood out. Not that there was much. Just four new reads for the whole month.

Golden_GowdaThe Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda – I loved Leena’s story. It was gripping and compelling, tragic and triumphant. Anil’s story, however, didn’t do anything for me. I found it difficult to sympathize with is character. I would have enjoyed this book more if we’d stayed in India. Maybe focused a little more on Anil’s siblings and the contrasts between his favored status and theirs, between his book education and their real world experience. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Robb_BrotherhoodBrotherhood in Death by J. D. Robb – I nearly always enjoy my visits with Eve, Roarke and company. This one especially because Eve isn’t the only one with a crush on the adorable Dennis Mira.  Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Noah_StarckNoah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck – This was one of my most anticipated debut novels of the year, and I won a copy of it at Goodreads. It was an interesting spin on the Noah Flood story. I liked the writing, though I found the story a little to slow for my taste, but I did not like the ending. It was unsatisfying and I didn’t feel like anything was actually resolved. Especially between Noah and his wife and between Noah and his god. Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Rush_BurtonUnexpected Rush by Jaci Burton – This month’s brain candy. It was okay, though what conflict there was felt contrived. Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I loved this book.  It was a surprise to me how much.  An obvious parody, The Royal We is at once hilarious and poignant with life-sized characters.  Royal_Cocks-MorganYou can tell Cocks and Morgan had a great time making fun of the oh-so-English hyphenated surname.  Penelope Six-Names Something-Something, anyone?

The scenes with Emma were so said.  Bex and Nick are awesome and Freddie hilariously adorable.  I wanted Marta to adopt me.  With her for a mother, how did Eleanor turn into such a stick-in-the-mud?  Speaking of sticks, Lady Bea needed one yanked out of a certain orifice.  Or so I thought until the tree house.  I think I made a sound halfway between a snort and a snicker.  And don’t get me started on Richard.

Oh, and my mouth just about hit the floor during the phone call Bex got during that house party.  I so wanted her to tell him to f— off.  I even chanted it under my breath, but she, apparently, is more polite than me.

I saw the revelation about India coming a mile away.  It was almost as obvious as Gaz and Cilla.

Something not so obvious was the ID of the Royal Flush blogger.  Whoa.  That was a really shocker.  The way she and Nick handled it was tremendously satisfying.  I kind of wish they’d done something similar to Lacey.  She really need to be smacked, in my humble opinion.  I mean, their whole lives, she was the alpha twin.  Always in the spotlight.  Overachieving at everything.  Then, the one time Bex is the one garnering all the buzz, Lacey does her utmost to either shove her out or royally screw it up.  Geez, get over yourself, already… I may have shouted that out loud at some point.

The Royal We is an exhilarating read that has left me longing for a sequel.  Pretty please.

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

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LibraryReads January 2016

library_reads_logo_websiteLibraryReads has released their first list of 2016, and while I can’t agree with their favorite, My Name is Lucy Barton, not having been a fan of Olive Kitteridge (read my review) and, thus, on the fence concerning Elizabeth Strout, there are a few titles that I can’t wait to read.

Bivald_Broken-WheelThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend sounds really good.  And I love the cover.  This one was a discovery for me, on the list, as I’d yet to hear of it.  I love when that happens.

Also of interest are Melanie Benjamin’s The Swans of Fifth Avenue, American Housewives: Stories by Helen Ellis, and The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth.

Anything on this list y’all can’t wait to get your hands on?  Or wonder why in the world anyone would?

2015: Reading Year in Review

Watchman_LeeFor once, I agree with my fellow readers at Goodreads.  Without a doubt, the best book I read in 2015 was Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.  It really resonated with me emotionally.  I sat there and sobbed through the entirety of Chapter 8.  It’s like I was Jean Louise, in those moments, drowning in a storm of grief and rage.  I still get a little steamed when I think about it.

My other top 10 reads for the year are:

The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion – I loved these books. Don Tillman, professor of genetics, and all around brainiac finds social interaction and emotional situations difficult to say the least. But he has decided it’s time for him to find a wife. He chooses to go about this using logic. That is a list of criteria, some of which he’s willing to be slightly flexible about, but which don’t take into account the fact the woman may have her own set of criteria. Emotion fits nowhere in this search. That is until he meets Rosie. Then everything changes and he has to find ways to adapt. This is often both hilarious and painful to watch. Even after he wins Rosie, Don continues to struggle, especially when others are added to the equation.

Souls_HarufOur Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – Haruf’s final novel gives us a last, wonderful visit with our  friends in Holt, Colorado. This one is about two older people, widowed, who come together in friendship in order to alleviate their loneliness. But this somewhat unorthodox friendship gradually grows into something more. However, others do not approve and try to tear them apart. Add in a neglected little boy and a dog and you have an emotionally wrenching read. Though I remember being not wholly satisfied with the ending.

The Truth According To Us by Annie Barrows – A thoroughly enjoyable second adult novel from the coauthor of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Truth According To Us takes us to a small town in West Virginia during the Great Depression where things are not what they seem. I couldn’t help but like and loathe the villain at the same time. The resolution of the conflict is rather obvious from early on, but the telling of it is vastly entertaining.

Honey_GanesanAs Sweet as Honey by Indira Ganesan – This story is told by Meterling’s young niece, Mina, as Mina and her cousins, all children, try to puzzle out exactly what’s happening to their beloved aunt in the strange world of adults.  An unusually tall South Asian woman, Meterling finds love long after she was considered to be “on the shelf” with a short, slightly rotund Englishman who promptly drops dead during their first dance.  Amidst the scandal of a pregnancy and a courtship, Meterling tries to find her place within two very different societies.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman – Elsa, a very intelligent almost-eight-year-old girl has been tasked with a difficult mission.  In a series of letters, her beloved Grandmother, who has recently died of cancer, asks her to apologize on her behalf to a number of people.  Grandma was, shall we say, unorthodox.  Some would say crazy.  My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a wonderfully sad, wonderfully hilarious read.

Upstairs_ZakariaThe Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria – This a story of separation. Of a marriage, and of a country. The Partition of India and Pakistan was a difficult, painful process that, in many ways, is ongoing. Then, when you add in the divorce between Pakistan and Bangladesh, it gets even more complicated. More messy. The joys and pains of these separations is mirrored in the marriage of Amina and Sohail. They don’t divorce, but he takes a second wife. Amina moves upstairs while the second wife takes the downstairs and Sohail splits his time between them in a weird kind of custody agreement with which no one is really happy or satisfied. The Upstairs Wife is a complex, emotional, story of a nation and a family.

2Y8M28N_RushdieTwo Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie – Based loosely on The Thousand and One Nights, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, is an epic ride from one of the masters of magical realism. With skill and imagination he tells us of the Strangenesses and the War of the Worlds which followed. How the Lightning Princess and the Grand Ifrits battled over the fate of our world while dead philosophers argued about faith and science, terrorism and logic in their graves. Dust arguing passionately with dust.

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks – The story of David, shepherd, warrior, poet, and king as told by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Geraldine Brooks. And, I must say, she does it with style and skill. I wondered what happened next, even though I know very well what, according to the Bible, happened next. If that isn’t a sign of a good book, then I don’t know what is.Bourbon_Ward

I’d say the award, if you can call it that, for worst book would have to go to J. R. Ward’s The Bourbon Kings.  What does anyone see in that book?  I can’t say I like anyone in that family or that I really care what happens to them next.  I was also hugely disappointed in Jacquelyn Frank’s Nightwalker.  It just kind of fell flat.  The epic battle wasn’t all that epic and, as an ending to a series, or three, it was unsatisfying to say the least.

How about y’all.  Read anything awesome in 2015?  Or just plain horrible?

NPR’s 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances

Back in June NPR asked us to tell them our favorite romance novels.  Last week, they posted the results:  Happy Ever After: 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances.  Oh, how many of these have I read?  This list is a trip down memory lane shrouded in a fog of nostalgia. I passionately adored some, and just as passionately loathed others.

Duke_JQWhen I read The Duke and I, the first of Julia Quinn’s hilariously entertaining Bridgerton series, I wanted Violet Bridgerton to adopt me.  The Bridgerton siblings had me in stitches and I adored Lady Whistledown.  I can’t tell you how happy I was when Ms. Quinn announced they were coming back in her next novel, Because of Miss Bridgerton.  You simply must read the first four books in the series if you haven’t already.

Judge_MacLeanNalini Singh’s Psy-Changling series made the list, as did Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels, Outlander, Mary Balogh’s Bedwyns, and so many others.

Classics such as Pride and Prejudice and The Far Pavilions also made it.  And should be classics like Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor and Julie Garwood’s The Bride.  On the flip side, you guys know how much I hate Jane Eyre.

Dove_WoodiwissWhat about what wasn’t on the list (Heartbreakers: Why Some Books Didn’t Make The Final Romance List)?  Why was there nothing by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss on the list?  Sure, the classic The Flame and the Flower features an abusive asshole as hero and a too-stupidly-helpless-nitwit as heroine, but Shana does not.  Or Petals on the RiverThe Wolf and the DoveKadin_SmallCome on people.  Or Bertrice Small’s The Kadin?  I can’t stand Rosemary Rogers, so I’m happy her Sweet Savage Love wasn’t on the list.  Double standard, I know, but… 🙂

And what about Anya Seton’s Katherine?

I did add one series to my ever growing, already gargantuan TBR pile:  The Interitance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin.  Never heard of these, but they sounded really good.