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Thursday, October 06, 2005

August 2005 Books

Just getting the rest of the book lists up while I'm too sleep deprived to come up with any half-baked theories.

These are the books I read in August:
  1. ***½ Lost in Temptation _by Lauren Royal. Historical romance. I usually really like her books, but this one kind of irritated me. And then I got irritated with myself because the things that irritated me were things that made it more historically realistic than most historical romances. So I docked it a half star for all that irritation.
  2. The h/h have loved each other since they were teens, but can't marry because he's not titled. IMO, the heroine accepted this way too easily; the objection didn't ring true to me because the hero's also her brother's best friend, & the brother is her guardian. The other problem is that when they both meet again, he's inherited a title & thus is now eligible, however, there's a rumor that he killed his uncle, which is how he got the title, so if she marries him, her whole family will be disgraced, & her younger sisters won't be able to marry well. It took over half of the book for her to decide to investigate, & they were already married by that time. Argh.
  3. **** Butterfly_ by Kathryn Harvey. General fiction. Lots of intertwining story lines, culminating in a decades-long revenge plot.
  4. ***** Romantic Fiction_ by Melanie La'Brooy. Chick lit. LOVED this. Didn't want it to end. There were a few problems with the writing, which kept it from being 5 stars, but the story and the voice were great. Set in Melbourne, Australia, which is unusual. The blurb on the front compares it to the TV show Friends, but IMO, the characters in the show were much more self-absorbed & shallow than these characters. Just a warning--there's blatant promiscuity in this one. It's mostly about a group of friends: Lucy, Meg, Chloe, Tom, who's Lucy's on-again-off-again bf, but always best friend, and Percy, who fell head-over-heels with Meg & just sort of stuck around.
  5. **** Stars_ by Kathryn Harvey. General fiction. Again the intertwining story lines, this time including the twin sister of the main character from Butterfly. Revenge again, but from a different angle--more of a putting their lives back together again.
  6. **** Beyond the Pale_ by Savannah Russe. Paranormal romance. Though, like MJD's U&U books, the romance isn't the main point. Vampire spies. I should have loved this, but it was just a little too uneven. Humor, angst, quirky family members, serious spy suspense, a hint of a love triangle. Hopefully in the next book, it'll fit together better.
  7. ** Someone Like You _by Barbara Bretton. Women's fiction. 38's old. Okay. Gah. And 2 sisters in their 30s with preternaturally understanding long-term boyfriends can't commit because their father left their mother, ergo All Men Leave. I'm rolling my eyes here. Get over it already. I hated all the characters. Basically a typical women's fiction, and reminds me why I loathe this genre in general.
  8. ***** The Ivy Tree_ by Mary Stewart. Gothic. Really old one, but it stands up well, if you like gothics. Good twists in this.
  9. **½ Search for Love_ by Nora Roberts. Contemporary category romance.
  10. ****½ Nice Girls Finish First_ by Alesia Holliday. Chick lit. Much fun. About Kirby Green, a vice president of marketing, who ends up in a bet with her boss--if she can't get someone to call her "nice" in one month, she loses her job. And her assistant, Brianna, an aspiring opera singer, who's TOO nice. Either of their stories would be fun on its own, but together, it adds an extra oomph, with the contrast of Kirby trying to be nicer and Brianna trying to be less nice. Brianna's lists are hilarious, and OMG, I LOVED that she had to try to GAIN 35 pounds. Wonder if it's too late to decide to become an opera singer??
  11. **** Warrior Queen _by Alan Gold. historical fiction. About Boudica, the Celtic queen who united the tribes of Britain against the Romans. Really brought the legend to life.
  12. *** Murder of a Smart Cookie _by Denise Swanson. mystery. The quotes from forwarded emails weren't quite as obvious and distracting in this one, so I gave it an extra star. Plus, the heroine is starting to get interested in the police chief instead of the funeral director, so that's looking up a little. Somebody who doesn't get tons of forwarded emails & hasn't seen all the jokes before would probably be more amused by this series than I am.
  13. ***** Passion _by Lisa Valdez. Historical romance. O. M. G. Highly, highly recommended, but only if you're not squeamish about sex scenes, and only if you have plenty of ice water on hand--possibly a tubful. Let's see if I can stop raving long enough to give you the gist of the story: a chance meeting between a widow and a strange man leads to sex behind a screen in a... museum? (hey, I wasn't paying all that close attention to the setting--believe me, you wouldn't either. Suffice to say it was public.) And that's just the beginning. You know me & sex scenes--I usually skim. This one, I didn't have to. The book was emotionally honest and really really hot. I can't say enough good about it. I literally couldn't put it down until I finished it...and then I had to wake Carl up before I could go to sleep.
  14. ***** Beyond Control _by Rebecca York. Paranormal romantic suspense. Probably not a good idea to read two such intense books back to back. But I had no idea. Love, love, love psychics in love scenes. More sex scenes I actually read. Think it's a trend?
  15. ***** Survivor in Death_by J. D. Robb.
  16. ****½ Lady Silence _by Blair Bancroft. Regency. Waif, unable to speak, turns up on hero's doorstep just as he's going off to war, & he gives her a place in his household. 6+ years later, he's back, she's all grown up & his mother's companion. She still doesn't speak. He's cynical & suspicious about that. Nice intrigue, but the best part is the emotions in this one.
  17. *** Deer Leap_ by Martha Grimes. Mystery. I'm just not Martha Grimes's reader (except for Foul Matter, which is so different from the Richard Jury mysteries it could be a different author note: I just checked the Amazon reviews for Foul Matter, and wouldn't you know it--it got terrible reviews. And yet it's the only Martha Grimes book I actually liked.). *sigh* Yet another small English town that appears to be stuck in a cross between 1800 and 1950 (it was written & presumably takes place in 1985). Yet another young girl who roams around the town, completely independently, and who people tend to defer to. I suppose the mystery was okay, but it's tending to blur with the one in the Regency I read before this one, as both have similar historical tones, and both involve the mysterious history of a young girl who's in danger. Gotta say, it was better done in the Regency. Bah.
  18. *** Good Night, Henry _by Jennifer Olds. Women's fiction. Pretty standard. Heroine raising 2 sons, check. Preternaturally understanding boyfriend (even to the point of not minding that her estranged husband moves into the guesthouse on the property), check. One of the kids has a handicap (one arm ends at the elbow), check. Beloved brother disappears, husband ran off after handicapped son was born, heroine can't trust any men because "they all go away," check. Ho-hum. And people say ROMANCE is predictable. Gah. The kids were pretty well done, with their reactions to their father returning, and to the younger boy's stump arm, so I gave it an extra star.
  19. **** The Cobra Event_ by Richard Preston. Thriller. An epidemiology story. Very cool. Not great writing--lots of droning on & on about facts & figures, though not quite as bad as Clancy can get--but that's pretty standard for this type of book.
  20. **½ Lyon's Gate_ by Catherine Coulter. Historical romance. Seriously choppy writing. I almost couldn't read it. It's kind of like a radio with static, you feel like you're missing every third word. I tried, with the first half of the book, then I skimmed the rest, and it went much better. The 3 stars is because it did have a good story, and some witty lines. If it hadn't been written like a series of notes jotted down, I'd have given it at least 4 stars. And the headhopping. I've always thought people were exaggerating when they said headhopping was confusing for readers. Not anymore. I got confused. Several times it said "she thought" and I had no idea which "she" was intended, because it obviously wasn't the same "she" as in the last thought. Bah. 2½ stars. I can't give this one 3.
  21. *****+ Night Watch _by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy. A magical storm sends Vimes back in time, where he meets his mentor, and the young Vetinari, and a lot of the current members of the Watch.
  22. ****½ Gilding the Lady_ by Nicole Byrd. Historical romance. I always enjoy Nicole Byrd's books. This one takes the long lost sister of the hero of her previous book, who'd ended up in a nasty orphanage & then sent out to work at a young age--lots of abuse, etc. Her brother finally found her & rescued her in the last book, & now, at 19, she's got to try to re-learn how to be a lady. A reckless earl sees her in a dispute with her governess on the street, & his friend bets him that he can't make her the toast of the ton. There's also a murder mystery & the ongoing search for the natural father of the heroine from the previous book & her brother (hero of a yet earlier book). Really nice series, and by the end of this book, we've picked up several more connections who are begging for their own books.
  23. **** Cooking for Mr. Right _by Susan Volland. Contemporary romance, though the cover just says "fiction." Basically, it's My Best Friend's Wedding with recipes and a HEA.
  24. ***½ Night Prayers_ by P. D. Cacek. Urban fantasy. This had been in my TBR pile for ages, & it had come highly recommended. Looks like a stylish vampire story, but... It kind of falls short. The editing is horrible--lots of misspelled words, even misnumbered pages. And the story's really uneven. It's kind of like a cross between MJD's Betsy stories and Ann Rice, and it's not sure which it wants to be. Lots of threads that are left up in the air. Frex, a huge buildup to how to make a human servant, and then it's just dropped. Lots of talk about the heroine not knowing anything about being a vampire, but she never learns, either. It seems really amateurish, but also the kind of book that people will praise very highly because of that, and also to prove how open-minded they are (the secondary vampire characters are lesbians).
  25. **** Forbidden Magic _by Jo Beverley. Historical romance. Impoverished heroine wishes on a magic stone figure for a better life for herself & her 4 siblings, and the answer to her wish comes in the form of an earl who must marry immediately or be stuck with the bride his evil grandmother chooses for him. Hijinks ensue when she leaves the statue in her old house and tries to retrieve it without his knowledge. I'd give this an extra half star, but the heroine's stubborn insistence on not telling anyone anything went on just a wee bit too long.
  26. ***** Two for the Dough_ by Janet Evanovich. Mystery. Re-read, of course. Just a quick palate-cleansing read.
  27. **** Phantom Waltz_ by Catherine Anderson. Contemporary romance. This was the first of the Coulter family books, about a paraplegic heroine. Very emotional, as are all her books, but the hero was just too perfect to make it a 5-star book. At least she does her handicapped heroines well, making them realistic, and not the usual people who attained sainthood along with their handicaps. Very interesting and frank discussion of sex for a paraplegic.
  28. **** Killing Cassidy _by Jeanne M. Dams. Mystery. Thanks, KL! Woman returns from England to investigate the murder of an old friend at the request of the deceased. The problem is, he died of pneumonia at the age of 96, and it seems that everyone loved him. Clever mystery, reminiscent of Christie. My only problem was that I didn't buy the motive.
  29. **** Sweet Nothings_ by Catherine Anderson. Contemporary romance. The second of the Coulter family books, and, *gasp* nobody has a handicap. Although the heroine's ex-husband had her committed to an insane asylum. Which is, btw, part of the reason for 4 stars instead of 5. While I can buy most of that plot thread, I can't quite believe that there aren't any checks & balances to keep someone from drugging his wife and throwing her into a mental hospital to get control of her fortune--wouldn't drug tests be one of the first things they'd do?--or maybe I just hope it's unrealistic. Then there's the mother, who not only believed her son-in-law, she helped keep her daughter locked up, and when it all came out, she couldn't even bother to apologize. And finally, there was the tired plot of the heroine being hired to cook for the ranch hands and not making enough food, but everybody liked her so much they couldn't bring themselves to tell her--not only is it overused, but it was just left dangling. Argh. Really, though, those were minor irritations--they just stand out because the rest of the book was so good. The hero wasn't as perfect as his brother-in-law, and tended to step in it, and had to do a lot of apologizing.
  30. ***½ Full Tilt_ by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes. Mystery. Rather uneven story that's not sure if it's Knight Rider _or a romantic comedy or more serious romantic suspense. Lukewarm romance, 2-dimensional characters, but entertaining if you don't expect too much.
  31. **** Extreme Exposure _by Pamela Clare. Romantic suspense. Journalism, politics, greed, & environmental issues.
  32. **** The Wedding_ by Julie Garwood. Historical romance. Pretty standard, enjoyable medieval, with quirky heroine, emotionally clueless hero, a feud, and an evil stepmother. Lots of fun dialogue--frex, the heroine kept telling the hero they'd "start over." Dropped plot threads and a heroine whose "breasts are too large and hips are too narrow" and a modern voice keep this from being anything more than a cookie read (fun & yummy, but just a sweet snack, not a satisfying meal).
  33. ****½ Twin Peril _by Susannah Carleton. Regency romance. Twin sisters--a good twin & an evil one, or at least one consumed by jealousy. The bad twin has decided to snare a duke--she doesn't particularly care if he likes her, or that she's not attracted to him--it's the title and fortune she's after, not the man. But the duke is smitten with her sister.
  34. **** Absolute Trouble_ by Michelle Jerott. Contemporary romance. Heroine is an ex-cop who's asked by a friend & ex-lover to keep a witness to a murder safe. The witness is a male stripper with an agenda. A little uneven in spots, & it took me a while to warm up to them, but a nice story nonetheless.
  35. *** Pale as the Dead_ by Fiona Mountain. Mystery. A genealogist is asked to find a photographer's missing girlfriend, because the girl is obsessed with an artist's model from 100+ years ago & the only clue he has is that she left him a journal from one of her ancestors. Yeah, I didn't get the premise, either. And the solution was... well, it didn't make a whole lot of sense. But the genealogical investigation itself was pretty fascinating, with a blend of actual historical figures & fictional ones.

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Comments:
First off, thanks for visiting my blog.

Second, good heavens! Do you speed read, or something? I'm lucky if I finish reading two novels in a month.

Third: I'm so proud of myself that I still remember enough German to understand your blog's title.

Last: Glad you liked Night Watch. It's my favorite Pratchett.

See ya,

Doug
 
No, I don't speed-read anymore. I used to, when I was younger, and it worked great for school--I could get the gist of things pretty quickly. But for reading fiction, I missed a lot of the nuances.

I read fast, though. I don't watch TV. And... I have chronic fatigue, and I lie down periodically through the day and read. You can tell how well I'm doing in any particular month by how many books I've had time to read.

Pratchett is a god. I swear. The man is amazing. I hoard his books and only take them out when I REALLY need a great read and have time to read it in one or two sittings.

Thanks for stopping by. I check out Shatter regularly & thought I ought to say hey.
 
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