Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January 2011 Reads & Minis

January began as a slow reading and blogging month for me. I'm still getting used to my new working schedule, but somehow it seems as if somewhere along the way I found time to read (and blog). I think the weather and all those snow days helped! As a matter of fact I'm home right now due to a huge ice storm that hit our area in the Northeast. Brrrr..... I hope you're all safe and cozy at home too.

Here's my recap:

Total books read: 11
Contemporary Romance: 1
Contemporary Romance Suspense: 1
Contemporary Mysteries: 2
Historical Romance: 2
Fantasy: 1
Urban Fantasy: 2
Science Fiction/Romance: 1
Anthology (17 short stories - mixed genres): 1

1. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie was my favorite book of the month. It worked for me on all levels, the story, characters, romance, atmosphere and execution. I will continue to read Crusie's backlist and I hope to enjoy the rest of her books as much as I loved Bet Me and Welcome to Temptation. (That might be a bit much to expect, I know!). Grade: A

2. Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath was a highly enjoyable historical romance with excellent characters. I loved that Heath used standard devices and made them work in this book. I loved both the male and female protagonists, as well as the majority of the secondary characters. I liked it so much, I read the second book, Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman, immediately after finishing this one. Grade: B+

3. Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath: B+
(Upcoming Review)

4. In the Bleak Midwinter (Fergusson & Van Alystyne, Book 1) by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I decided to check out this series after Orannia recommended it here on my blog. I've been wanting to get back to mysteries for a while and after reading the summary for this first book I was hooked. It was a good decision. The central character Rev. Clare Fergusson is unique, plus I enjoyed the "updated" cozy mystery style. There's also room there for some interesting future development in that series. I have quite a few books to read, but I have a feeling I'll be catching up fast. Grade: B+

5. The Sea Thy Mistress (The Edda of Burdens, Book 3) by Elizabeth Bear was the ending to the trilogy that began with All the Windwracked Stars. Boy, did I ever love that book! This was a solid, solid ending to the trilogy and not a disappointment. I liked the way Bear joined the story lines from Books 1 and 2 and the way she again picked up the cyberpunk style and maintained the atmosphere established on that first book. I enjoy her subtle (and not so subtle) touches when exploring the dark and the erotic. Grade: B

6. Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy - I belong to the Goodreads Sci-Fi Romance group. Song of Scarabaeus was chosen as the February Book of the Month and after reading the summary, I just had to read it. I finished that book in two sittings! (Upcoming Review) Grade: B

7. Deeply, Desperately (Lucy Valentine, Book 2) by Heather Webber - I think I've said enough about Lucy Valentine for now. These are favorite books when I feel like reading something light and fun. I enjoyed this book and am enjoying this series quite a bit and will be picking up the next installment, Absolutely, Positively soon! Grade: B

8. Songs of Love and Death: All Original Stories of Star-Crossed Lovers by Gardner R. Dozoir: Grade B-
(Upcoming Review)

9. The Homecoming by JoAnn Ross is a small-town romance suspense. I enjoyed the family and small town atmosphere, but the lack of real emphasis on the romance or the suspense made it an average read for me. However, I enjoyed the Ross' writing style and look forward to reading something from her backlist and hopefully her next new release. Grade: C

10. Dreamfever (Fever Series, Book 4) by Karen Marie Moning was a book I waited to read (patiently) for a whole year. I read it the week before Shadowfever released and it paid off as all the details were fresh in my mind. Dreamfever moved the overall storyarc along and I liked that. The repetitiveness found in the previous book is kept to a minimum and that, plus the movement in the story line are huge improvements in my opinion. Details about the main characters, motives and pasts, (Barrons, V'lane and Mac) are still scarce, but there's enough provided to give readers some idea as to upcoming revelations. I had problems with overused devices, lack of real emotional connection between the characters, and being left in the middle of a scene in another huge and unnecessary cliffhanger. Overall the book balanced into an average read for me. Grade: C

11. Shadowfever (Fever Series, Book 5) by Karen Marie Moning is a book that I looked forward to reading since I read that first one, as the end of the Fever series. Especially as it's written by a long-time favorite writer. Unfortunately, although this series began as a favorite, it didn't end that way for me. Grade: D

That's it for January. In the end I'm quite happy with the mixture of genres read and with few exceptions it turned out to be a solid reading month. There are two books I began reading in January and am still reading. They are  El Hombre que Amaba los Perros by Leonardo Padura and Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear. Both books are interesting but long and involved, and with my crazy schedule I kept putting them aside to read books that didn't require as much attention. I'll be listing them with my February reads.


  1. Looks like you had a great month!
    I think I'm definitely going to add Bet Me to my Contemporary Challenge.

    Good luck in February.

  2. I recently read BET ME also and had a great old time! The pages just flew. I did get sick of all the chicken marsala though. :)

  3. Bet Me is such a fun read!

    Here's hoping this month is filled with some great reads. :)

    Keep warm!

  4. What a lovely diverse month of reading :) I loved Bet Me. I remember reading it in bed one wet Sunday morning. It was bliss!

  5. Alex, I hope you enjoy Bet Me. I'm so glad you're going to try it. :D

    Scorpio M. The book is such fun! But lol, I know what you mean... how could they not find something else to eat? Chicken marsala... redux.....

    Leslie, thanks you. Let's hope February is a good month all around. :)

    Orannia, I enjoyed the diversity in the reading this month. How awesome that you remember the day of the week and that it was raining when you read Bet Me!

  6. Nice list :) Another Bet Me fan here... loved it!

    The Elizabeth Bear books look interesting, may pick those up :)

  7. Mariana, I think you might definitely enjoy different aspects of the Bear trilogy. Some that I know you enjoy. Try the first book and see how you like it. Let me know if you want to know more about it. :D

  8. Great month!! Did you list your books in order of grades/preference? I'm so happy you enjoyed the Lorraine Heath books!! and looking forward to Song of Scarabaeus review :)

    LOL, I do think the snow days have helped you. Seriously, I'm jealous that you get to stay home on those days ^_^; I know, I know, it's not great... but still :P

    I'm sure you'll manage in February... Like it being the first month where things will go "normally" :P I keep forgetting you've just started the new job in December! Seems like forever already.

  9. Great month, Hils!
    Can't wait to read BET ME this month! :)

  10. Nath yes... that's how I listed them this month, by grade and then preference. :) They're listed in the order I read them in my "Reads Page." I did enjoy the Heath books and as a result, I'm in the mood for more historical romance. :)

    Those snow days saved my reading & blogging, lol! But, I think things will be better in February with my schedule -- keeping my fingers crossed. :)

    Christine, much better than expected! Quite a few long books read too. I hope, hope you enjoy Bet Me!
    Get your recipe for Chicken Marsala ready, lol!

  11. LOL! Chicken Marsala, huh? I actually have a personal recipe for that... looking forward to discovering the association. ;)

  12. Oh Bet Me is such a great book!

    I just discovered Lorraine Heath recently and liked both of those books you read. :)

    I've not read any of the others.

  13. Tracy, I loved Bet Me! I will forever be grateful that you introduced me to Jennifer Crusie. :D

    And I also just began reading Heath and really liked both her book. I'm looking forward to the next one one.

    From the other books I read, I think you might enjoy the Webber books -- Light Chicklit/Mysteries, fun! I'm not sure if you enjoy SFR or Fantasy?

  14. PS: Christine! Sorry I missed your post, if you're reading the book (Bet Me), you know by now. ;P

  15. Good month Hils. :P

    Bet Me is one of my fave JCs as well. If I find myself heading into a reading slump, I pull out Bet Me and it gets me back in the game.

  16. Ames, wow! You too?! All these Bet Me fans! I'm in great company because I have a feeling this will become a future re-read for me too. :)


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