January 2014 reads

>> Saturday, February 01, 2014

I was on holiday for the first half of the month, so it's quite a high total for the month. I had some wonderful reads, and quite a lot of variety.

1 - The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold: A
review coming soon

Oh, Miles! I totally get the love now. He is one fantastic character. I tried to get into the series years ago and didn't quite connect with it. I did this time, and now I have a big pile of books to look forward to. It'll be hard to hold myself back and read them slowly!

2 - Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie: A
original review here

I mentioned a while ago that I'd been asked by my book club to choose a romance novel for our February meeting. They asked for something feel-good, so I went for this one. I might have loved it even more on reread than I did the first time round, and from what a few people who've already started it have told me, it might be a success. I just wonder if there will be a division along gender lines.

3 - The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion: A-
review coming soon

Chick-lit/romance narrated by a male narrator who's apparently somewhere on the Asperger's spectrum (though the author doesn't actually state it). I enjoyed it thoroughly, and actually identified with the narrator to a surprising extent.

4 - Unbound, by Cara McKenna: A-
review coming soon

I tend to stay away from kink in my romance, but the way Cara McKenna does it, I don't mind at all. If you want the fantasy, this is probably not for you, but since I don't, I loved it.

5 - Year Zero: A History of 1945, by Ian Buruma: B+
review coming soon

Non fiction, looking at what happened right after the war ended, something I'd not really thought about much. Insightful and very readable, and I particularly appreciated the sensitivity with which some potentially problematic issues were written.

6 - The Splendour Falls, by Susanna Kearsley: B+
original review here

This old favourite has been published in the US after almost 20 years, so there have been several reviews. I was thinking of rereading it when I was offered the audiobook for review. Set in Chinon, it's probably the most Mary Stewart-like of all of Kearsley's books. Not her best, but I enjoyed it.

7 - Tethered, by Meljean Brook: B+
review coming soon

Novella. I've heard it described as an epilogue to Heart of Steel, but it's really more a sequel. There's a whole new exciting adventure and some really good development to Yasmeen and Archimedes' relationship .

8 - They Do It With Mirrors, by Agatha Christie: B
review coming soon

Classic Miss Marple, country-house mystery with some interesting characters. Ingenious but overcomplicated, as usual. I enjoyed it, though.

9 - Aftershock, by Jill Sorensen: B
review coming soon

Loved the setup (big earthquake traps people, including some scary ones, together and they need to work to rescue themselves while keeping safe from the bad guys), and the suspense aspect of it was fantastic. Didn't love the romance, though.

10 - Taken In Death, by JD Robb: B
review coming soon

Short story in Mirror, Mirror anthology, a take on Hansel and Gretel. Really good fun and pretty creepy.

11 - Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City, by Meljean Brook: B
review coming soon

Novella, companion to The Iron Duke (wouldn't quite say 'epilogue' either, although it's a bit shorter than Tethered). We see Mina and Rhys a few months into their marriage, investigating a clever case and settling into their life together. Nicely done.

12 - Dark Angel, by Mary Balogh: B
original review here

Reread. I needed a book for the 6 non-kindle periods of landing/take-off in my Montevideo - Manchester flight, and this one was chosen mainly because it was light in weight. It's a nice, angsty revenge plot, and I enjoyed it.

13 - Always and Forever, by Farrah Rochon: B-
review coming soon

The architect hero buys the restorer heroine's old family home, and their relationship goes from adversarial to not while they work on it. Nice. Some issues with the end, but I liked it.

14 - The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister: C-
review coming soon

Eight very different people go to a cooking class, and each month we get a bit of the story of one of them. Pretty uninteresting, and I found the language forced and trying too hard to be lyrical.

15 - Sleigh Bells in the Snow, by Sarah Morgan: DNF
review coming soon

Grinch heroine thinks she's going to be working over Christmas, and ends up taken in by the hero's family, who do Christmas big. Disappointing. The heroine was the typical romance "successful professional" who's actually utter crap at her job and an overemotional mess.

16 - That Scandalous Summer, by Meredith Duran: DNF
review coming soon

Also disappointing. Liked the idea of a summer in Cornwall away from the strictures of society, but couldn't connect with the characters at all.

17 - Secondhand Charm, by Julie Berry: DNF
review coming soon

The fairytale, whimsical feel didn't work for me. It felt like the characters didn't behave like people.


Fernande,  1 February 2014 at 17:07  

Welcome back from hiatus, Rosario. Hope you had a lovely vacation. I love all of Bujold's books, and was so pleased to see you falling for Miles. I listened to the entire series one summer, as well as to all of her other books, and highly recommend the audio books. The narrators are amazingly good. I think A Civil Campaign, where Miles woos the woman of his dreams, is one of the best romances ever, although I do love the two earlier books about his parents almost as much.

I hope your book group members enjoy Bet Me and go on to read many of the other wonderful romance books available. I've read it many times, but it's the perfect reread for this snowy, dull Saturday so I'll just make myself a cup of tea and settle in for the afternoon. Happy reading.

Barb in Maryland 1 February 2014 at 20:58  

Oh,phew! I thought I was the only one in Romancelandia who just could NOT connect with the Sarah Morgan book. I think I made it to page 30 before I (metaphorically) threw it against the wall.
I did finish the Duran, but it won't go on my favorites shelf.
I did just finish the Kearsley, and she sure was channeling "9 Coaches Waiting"! But that is not a bad thing...

Glad you're back and I'm looking forward to those 'coming soon' reviews.

Li 1 February 2014 at 22:33  

Yay for Miles! I finished the entire series in a very short space of time when I first discovered the books. You're in for a treat.

And like Barb, I was thinking I was a total Christmas grouch and the only one who didn't love the Sarah Morgan.

Rosario 2 February 2014 at 08:27  

Fernande: Thank you! Since you say 'narrators', does that mean you listened to the Readers' Chair versions? That's what I'm listening to, and I'm enjoying them. I particularly liked the two books about Cordelia and Aral, possibly because I think the female narrator is better than the man, and there's more of her in those books, as they are from Cordelia's POV.

I'm really curious to see what the reaction to Bet Me is going to be. One of the women mentioned the other day that she was loving it and couldn't stop reading it, so early signs are good!

Rosario 2 February 2014 at 08:29  

Barb: I forced myself to keep going a lot longer with the Morgan, just because I was hoping it would get good at some point. I think I read about half of it before I couldn't stand it any longer. I should post my review pretty soon, since I had a good old rant in my notes as I was reading, so I only really need to tidy that up a bit!

Rosario 2 February 2014 at 08:30  

Li: I'm trying to go a little bit slower, reading maybe one a month, but it's tough. As soon as I finish one I start looking fondly at the next!

Marianne McA,  2 February 2014 at 21:30  

I did finish the Morgan, but only because I had nothing else to hand, hate leaving a book unfinished, and all the reviews had been so positive.

It did (somehow)get better - at the halfway point I'd have sworn I'd never buy a book from her again, but by the end I actually checked to see what else she'd written. But I don't understand the general enthusiasm for that book.

So glad you like Miles. When you said you had some unexpected DNFs I was really panicking that you hadn't fallen for his manifold charms.

Rosario 3 February 2014 at 22:09  

Marianne: The positive reviews (and from people who usually have similar tastes to mine, too) were one of the reasons I was so surprised not to like it, but the other reason is that I've read Morgan before and I really liked that book. So if the book's improvement in the second half convinced you to give her another try, may I suggest Dukakis's Apprentice?

I did fall for Miles's charms, and pretty hard, too. I think it might be a good thing I didn't get into the series before, I get the feeling I'm just at the right time of my life to appreciate it properly!

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