Friday, April 1, 2011

March 2011 Reads & Minis

April already! Nature is playing a joke on us on the eastern US... it's supposed to be Spring, but instead we had rain mixed with snow on the first day of the month. Can you believe it? No Spring for us yet.

March might have been cold, but my reading and blogging picked up and I'm quite happy about that. The reading month was not as spectacular as February, but then those months don't come along too often. However, it was a good solid month for me when it comes to quality.

Unfortunately I did have one DNF, and that was the book I chose to read for my 2011 The Women of Fantasy Book Club, Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter. I won't review it, but I'll just say that neither the story nor the characters engaged me long enough for me to want to read the whole book. I hope my next choice is a better fit for me.
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Here's my March 2011 recap:

Total Read: 11
Contemporary Romance: 4 (includes Erotica:1 & Contemporary w/Paranormal Elements: 1)
Historical Romance: 2
Fantasy: 3 (includes LGBT fantasy: 1)
Urban Fantasy: 1
Sci-Fiction: 1

A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear is a gorgeous fantasy story and easily my favorite book of the month. There were so many aspects that I loved about it -- first and foremost the writing and then of course there's the interesting plot and characters that populate this absorbing tale. This is an interesting study of bonding between man and animal, social structure within a group, and man's outward civility vs. his raw basic side. I also found some very interesting threads on the female role in a book that is full of male central characters. (Upcoming Review) Grade: B+

Chimera (Book 1) by Rob Thurman was the second book I read by this author this month and another highly enjoyable read. This one is a science fiction thriller that took me for a ride on a road trip with two brothers. The story included good science fiction details in a contemporary setting. It was full of danger, angst and brotherly love. I cannot wait to read the next book, Basilisk, which is told from Michael's point of view. Grade B+

Blackout, Book 6 in the Cal Leandros Novel by Rob Thurman was initially a disappointment that turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. I enjoyed this urban fantasy installment and the way it focused more on characterization than on action. It felt different and it worked. I can't wait to read the next book to see where Cal and Niko go from here. Grade B+

My Lord Scandal: Notorious Bachelors by Emma Wildes: B
Upcoming Review

The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney: C+
Upcoming Review

The Shattered Gates (The Rifter, Book 1) by Ginn Hale was a solid beginning to her 10 episode serialized fantasy series. I was engrossed with the world building and intrigued enough by her characterization that I can't wait for the next episode to come out in April. Let's see how that develops. It's a different way to read a book, isn't it? Grade B

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is the basis for the film with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman (1998). I really enjoy that film whenever it pops up and was curious about the book, so I picked it up. Well, it turns out that the book is different but... better in many ways.

First I'll say that Alice Hoffman's writing is definitely a plus -- not flowery or abundant in details that bog the story down, but lyrical enough to catch certain moments and situations beautifully. The characterization is excellent and in-depth. The story is really about three generations of Owens women and how they deal with their special "magic" throughout their lives. Magic is lighter in the book than it is in the film and the interaction between the sisters, aunts and young daughters, plus the romances are actually better! I loved that Sally's young daughters, who are teenagers, feature largely in the story and give the book a touch of YA without making this a young adult read. The story had a couple of slow moments throughout, but I still read it in two sittings. Grade: B

The Last Goodbye is Sarah Mayberry's latest category romance release. Although this is not my favorite book by Mayberry, she again delivered a complete story and compelling characters. I particularly enjoyed the depth of character found in Tyler and the way his issues were resolved. The romance worked for me, although I thought that Ally's character needed a bit more depth for a better understanding of her actions at the end. Grade B-

Saddled and Spurred is the second book in Lorelei James' Blacktop Cowboys series. I always enjoy James' writing and her erotica details in a book are quite hot! This story focuses on the two main protagonists and doesn't include a threesome, as some of her other works do, however it is still quite steamy. Having said that, I'm not quite enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed her Rough Riders series in the past. Let's see what the next installment brings since I'll definitely read it. Grade B-

Here Comes the Groom is the first book I've read by Karina Bliss, and although it was not at the top of my list, it won't be the last book I'll read by this author. The story itself was enjoyable with a friends-to-lovers trope and some highly amusing moments in the midst of some pretty serious issues. I enjoyed the combination of all of these, plus the characterization. Unfortunately the transition from friends to lovers didn't quite work for me. Grade C

Of Wine and Roses was a free read at Ilona Andrews' website for a while and it's now going for about 0.99 cents, so it's worth reading! Andrews' is one of my favorite writing teams, so why not? I enjoyed this short fantasy story and although the story was amusing and cute, I found the world building to be average and as a result did not find it engrossing. Grade C

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Well that's it for March! It didn't turn out to be such a bad reading month at all... plus, I noticed that there's progress this month and I reviewed more of my current reads, so I'm getting back on the blogging horse. My favorite book was A Companion To Wolves. What about you? What book did it for you this month?

8 comments:

  1. YAY! for reading/blogging picking up.
    and thanks for you mini on Practical Magic! I like the movie and you just made me want to pick up the book!
    :D

    Oh, spring is definitely in the air here in Mexico City, we are hitting the high seventies every day.

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  2. The weather has definitely been weird. Snow on April 1st? I couldn't believe my eyes looking out the windows. Sigh.

    I love Sandra Bullock so I'm always on the lookout for more of her movies. Thanks for bringing Practical Magic to my attention. I'm going to check it out soon as I can!

    I thought I read a lot of books this month but looking at my list, I only read 2 more books than you. And of the 13 books, 12 of them are really enjoyable! That's a record for me, enjoying so many books in one month. From the list, there's Cynthia Eden, Julie James, Lorelei James, Allison Brennan, Robb, and Shelly Laurenston. All quite wonderful stories and authors.

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  3. We have weird weather this time of year. Cloudy & rainy then a week later it's sunny and 90. I much prefer the clouds & rain. :)

    Yeah for the Thurmans! She has got to be one of my favorite authors. Can't get enough of her.

    My favorite for March was Julie James' A Lot Like Love.

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  4. Alex, I got 'stuck' watching Practical Magic, the movie, for the hundredth time, lol... and decided to look up the writer. I bought the book right there and then and just read it. It is different from the movie, but as in most cases when it comes to movies and books, I thought the book has better characterization and there's more depth to the story. I hope you enjoy it.
    Lucky you! It sounds as if you're getting beautiful weather in Mexico City. Enjoy!

    Tabitha, that April 1st felt like Mother Nature was playing an April Fool's joke on all of us, didn't it? It was bizarre. I hope you do check out Practical Magic, I'm actually going to check out other books by Alice Hoffman since I enjoyed her writing.

    Your reading month sounds like February! Those months are just awesome and we most enjoy them. My March was not too bad either... one DNF, but from the books I read, no real disappointments to the point where I wouldn't pick up the next book by the writer. That's a good thing. :)

    Leslie, spring in the desert is a gamble. I've been in that area during this time of year and it's crazy! We just had winter weather throughout March. I never put away my winter boots or my heavy coat. :( Still have the stuff hanging around.

    Loving both Thurman series. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Chimera, it was such a wonderful combination of characterization, action and futuristic details. Loved the bonding between the guys and can't wait for the 2nd book. I STILL have A Lot Like Love by James in my TBR and will read it in April... I know I will... LOL!

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  5. Woohoo, Hils!! A great month :) is it going to continue now that your boss is back?

    I saw good reviews for A Companion to Wolves, but never picked it up... I think it's the cover ^_^; Also, never been able to read Ms Monette ^_^;

    LOL, two Rob Thurman for you this month and good ones at that, that's great :) She's great, right?

    Can't wait to see your review of My Lord Scandal!

    oh by the way, snow-wise... well here, we usually get snow for Easter, so snow on April 1st is not such a surprise. Only problem is this year, Easter is at the end of the month... so I hope not ^_^;

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  6. Nath, I hope so! LOL on the cover of A Companion to Wolves, I'm glad it didn't bother me. This is my first Monette book and it's a collaboration with Bear, so I'm not sure who wrote what? But I liked the combination of both.

    Loved the Thurman books! I'm really enjoying her both series so far, so yeah!

    RE: Snow? We are known for getting snow in March, but April? Nope. Hope your Easter is snow free!

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  7. Great reads! You know, 'Practical Magic' is one of my favorite movies. ;0 I enjoy Sandra Bullock movies, but I really loved her character in this movie. I think the movie was so appealing to me because it is all kinds of things at the same time. .. funny, sad, happy, tense, mysterious, romantic and focused on women and their relationships with each other. Maybe I'll check out the book one day. :)

    That's too bad that Prospero Light was a DNF for you. I read February's pick in March and thought that my libraries didn't have March's pick, so I skipped it... only to learn last week that they DID have it, but didn't have April's pick... which it turns out I'll have to skip. Sheesh. I plan on reading May's pick, though.

    Happy April reading! xo

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  8. Christine, I love Practical Magic the movie too. I always watch it when it comes up -- can't help it. The book has all the ingredients in the movie, but there's more depth to the characters and situations and the girls are teenagers. They contribute lots more to the story. I think you'd enjoy the book.

    I was disappointed that I couldn't finish my first book for the Book Club, but I'll definitely read the one for April. Loved your February/March choice. I might pick it up and read it anyway. :)

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