Monday, March 1, 2010

February 2010 Reads & Minis: Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery, Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips & Pasado Perfecto by Leonardo Padura

Wow! February was a short/long month for me. Short on days and reads, but long on posts!

It was a month-long love fest between the Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction anthology and me. I had a wonderful time choosing quotes from each story, and in the process re-read the whole book slowly. It was a personal treat, and I hope you enjoyed reading these little quotes as much as I did choosing them. :)

I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Indigene (Cowboy Junkie). The lady who not only recommended this wonderful anthology, but who also sent it to me as a gift. You can check out Indigene's awesome GLTB reviews at Rainbow Reviews any day. But, to check out her Fool for Love review you'll need to go to The Three Dollar Bill Reviews -- a new GLTB review site. Thanks Indi!

When it comes to reading? Well, I was craving contemporary romance and that made up the bulk of my reading, although I did manage to sneak in other genres in there. The Winter Olympics took up a lot of time away from my reading, but I enjoyed them thoroughly so no complaints. Weren't they great?! Now, I'll have to detox. :)

Okay, on to my February reads:

1) The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald - B- (review here)

2) Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione - B+ (review here)

3) Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin - Solid B (review here)

4) Under Her Skin (Titan Series, Book 1) by Susan Mallery - B-

This is the first in her Titan Sisters series (4 books).

Under Her Skin was a good read, not great. I thought it had a predictable plot with a couple that had good chemistry, some great interaction between the sisters and one girlfriend, and good writing that kept me reading.

The plot is based on an engagement of convenience between Lexi and Cruz. They obviously have feelings for each other but lots of baggage. Cruz is a good man with flaws -- mainly due to the childhood baggage that he can't seem to let go, and Lexi's the same. She has a lot of "daddy" issues -- all the sisters do. The father is rich, powerful and basically unfeeling and he uses his fortune to set up the sisters against each other -- it doesn't quite work that way though, they get along although it does affect their relationship and their decisions.

I have the next book on my TBR pile and will read it.

5) Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - B-

Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, is another contemporary romance from her backlist and from my TBR pile, I wanted to read. I liked the setting for this book, it was set in a circus and it made for a different atmosphere. Daisy and Alex were both interesting as a couple. She was supposed to be this flighty, weak-minded person who didn't have any confidence in herself and who grew as a person as the story unfolded. He was supposed to be this strong-minded man who had lots of pride but whose past marked him badly -- an interesting play on strengths and weaknesses.

Although I enjoyed Susan Elizabeth Phillips' writing and the character growth that is usually found in her contemporaries, this book is not a favorite. I didn't find the plot itself, a woman who is forced into marriage by her father to a man who owes him a favor, appealing. The secondary characters were not appealing either, although I did enjoy the parallels Phillips drew between the couple and the animals.

6) Pasado Perfecto by Leonardo Padura (Mario Conde Series, Book 1) (Re-read) - B (thoughts here)

This is the first book in a 4 book series in Spanish. It's a police crime series set in modern Havana, Cuba. The author is a Cuban author who still lives there, not in exile.

In this book he introduces Mario Conde, a Lieutenant in the police department who is investigating the disappearance of a man he knew in High School. A powerful man who happened to marry el Conde's High School crush... well, more like the woman he has lusted after for years, Tamara.

Padura uses Pasado Perfecto (a perfect past), and this investigation to introduce Conde and a set of characters that will reappear in the next three books of the series. I love the way he captures the people, culture and the flavor of the city in these books. He uses the language beautifully -- a combination of Cuban Spanish -- to give the books authenticity and tops it with some darn good writing. Although I would say this is not the best book in the series, it's a great introduction.

There are English translations to this series. Pasado Perfecto's title in English is: Havana Blue.

7) Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (Re-read) - A- (review here)

8) Glory in Death (In-Death Series, Book 2) - B (review here)

9) Double Play by Jill Shalvis - B Upcoming Review

10) Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole - B+ Upcoming Review

I didn't realize it, but I had mostly B reads this month and I only read two new releases. My TBR pile is diminishing though, so I'm not doing too badly there. How about you? How was your February?

11 comments:

  1. Great reading month. That Spanish book sounds good - I wonder how the translation is. hmmm. Something to think about.

    btw - did you get my email?

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  2. Hi Hilcia!
    Nath and I were just discussing the same thing about how watching the Olympics cut into our reading time in the last two weeks! It was so worth it though. I had SO MUCH fun following the games. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself tonight from 8pm to midnight. LOL. Oh wait.. .READ! duh.

    But you still read A LOT! And reviewed quite a bit as well. I hope March is a great reading month for you as well!

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  3. Hils, thank you so much for the shout out. That was incredibly nice of you to do.

    I love nothing more in life than sharing my love of wonderful books and stories and can think of no better gift for a dear friend.

    I'm so happy you enjoyed Fool for Love as much as I did. The great thing about the stories in this anthology is that no matter how many times you read them, they remain as enchanting as the first time.

    Indi...

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  4. Hi Hilcia,

    Wow, that's a lot of books! I had a totally different experience with Kiss an Angel. I loooooved it - but then again it was my first SEP and I have a thing for elephants :)

    I'm going to have to track down Fool for Love. I don't generally read anthologies but now I really want to find this one.

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  5. Good reading month Hils. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews on #9 & 10. :)

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  6. I loved Susan Mallery's entire Lone Star Sisters series and Under Her Skin.

    You've certainly had a busy month.

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  7. Tracy, I haven't read any of the translations yet. I understand the translator is supposed to be a good one... maybe I should try one in English! :) (Got your e-mail!) ;P

    Christine! I couldn't stop watching those Olympics! I know what you mean... that's why I mentioned detox, lol! I'm going to miss them, but they were such fun. Now back to reading. :)

    Indi, my pleasure! I think I enjoyed it the second time around even more than the first. :) Thanks again, my friend. Muah!

    Novelnelle, I'm so glad you enjoyed Kiss an Angel. SEP's like that though, I find her books amazing & am loving her backlist & her writing. I loved that elephant too. :)

    You can get the Fool for Love anthology directly from Cleis Press, if you prefer to buy directly from the publisher, or Amazon. I have links at the bottom of the review.

    Leslie thanks! Soon. :)

    Anonymous, I enjoyed the first book. I have the other 3 already and am looking forward to reading them all. It's good to hear they were loved/enjoyed. :)

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  8. Hi Hilcia, you were a busy bee there in February! Yay on the B reads (better than Cs right?) and putting a dent in the TBR pile. You also reviewed a lot too. I love reading your thoughts on the books you read. ;)

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  9. Very nice list, Hils :D I have to say, the winter olympics were so worth it though :P

    Did you read the other Susan Mallery in this series or am I confusing you with Tabitha... I think one of you skipped the first 2 books. Anywa, the Susan Mallery was good. Not a wowzer, but still solid :)

    Kiss an Angel is one of the only SEP I've enjoyed. But I don't know, it felt a bit outdated.

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  10. Looks like a great reading month for you!

    I've got to get back to working my way thru SEP's back list. Some of her early books aren't as good, but I guess that just shows her improvement as a writer. A good thing, right? :-)

    I have a few contemps I mean to get to in the next couple of weeks, including Julie James' new one, a Jill Shalvis, and a category that Wendy recommended.

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  11. Thanks Tabz! Oh, I love my B reads! February was one busy month for me, I actually loved that it was so productive. :)

    Nath, loooved the Olympics! This is my first Susan Mallery (you're thinking of Tabz). This book was okay... not great, but I'm reading the other ones in the series (I do have the other 3 books) :) Kiss an Angels was okay & I liked it, just didn't love it the way I love other books by SEP.

    Renee, I've been working my way through SEP's backlist slowly. I love the way she develops her characters. I do enjoy some plotlines more than others. I also wrote down the title of a category that Wendy recommended, lol! One about a Librarian... it sounded really good. By Shalvis I'm reading Slow Heat next. :)

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