Friday, August 10, 2012

July 2012 Reads: Highlights + Minis

July was a wonderful, relaxing month for me. I took two weeks off from blogging. I feel all refreshed and raring to go again. My reading list below will show that I indulged in reading whatever my mood dictated in any given day, so in that respect the whole month turned out to be a real vacation.

July Total Reads: 13 (+ Re-reads: 2)
  Contemporary: 5 (Romance - 4, Romance Suspense - 1)
  Historical Romance: 1
  Science Fiction: 3
  Urban Fantasy: 1
  LGBT: 3 (Speculative Fiction: 1, Romance: 1, Fiction/Romance: 1)

  Grades:
  A=3
  B=4
  C=6

Here's my list:

  1. Caliban's War (The Expanse #2) by James S.A. Corey: This book was such a wonderful follow up to one of my favorite science fiction books of 2011, Leviathan Wakes, that I went NUTS and posted a huge overview (saga) with reviews for both books! LOL. I couldn't help myself, this is a science fiction world that I'm loving with plotting and characters that really draw me in. Grade: B+
  2. Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey: This contemporary romance I enjoyed for the wonderful give and take between the main couple, some sizzling sexual tension and the baseball references, but thought that in this case the size (or lack of length) influenced overall development. Grade: C
  3. Open Season by Linda Howard: Ohh, I loved this romance between a "stereotypical" librarian and a small town cop. With excellent humor and wonderful chemistry between the main couple, I thought of this book more as a romance than a romance suspense. This book will definitely go on my shelves under my favorite books by Linda Howard, along with Duncan's Bride, Mr. Perfect, and Son of the Morning. I was a bit conflicted about grading this book because for me this is a Grade A romance read, but the suspense turned out to be weak (Grade C), so in the end... Grade: B
  4. Strike Zone by Kate Angell: I am really loving Ms. Angell's characters and the atmosphere that she creates in her contemporary romances. Unfortunately, she has a tendency to include multiple romances in her books that take the focus away from the main romance leaving all romances a bit on the underdeveloped end of the spectrum. That was the case in Strike Zone for me. Grade: C
  5. The Breach (Travis Chase #1) by Patrick Lee: The Breach, a mystery/thriller, was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the fast paced action throughout the book and couldn't put it down until I finished it, and the science fiction was a big plus. Unfortunately I questioned everything from the beginning, including the main character's actions, role/motives, plot holes that were never answered in this book, plus I found the secondary characters to be two dimensional and obviously underdeveloped. I understand that there are two other books where the author will continue developing the story line and hope the holes will be plugged up, and that overall characterization will take a turn for the better. Grade: C+
  6. Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson: Here's a cute contemporary summer read by an author whose works I seem to enjoy on and off. Rescue Me, however, didn't move from there for me. With a man and a woman who decide to have an affair because neither want or need to commit to a relationship, this romance never really moved from the physical and on to that emotional connection for me. Since the emotional connection was underdeveloped and the ending rushed, this romance was an overall average read for me. Grade: C
  7. Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt: I just reviewed this historical romance and obviously it was a winner for me. With a lovely hero and a heroine that grew on me as the story moved along, some excellent action and a well integrated plot, Thief of Shadows is one of my top July reads. Grade: A-
  8. Captain Harding and His Men (Captain Harding #2) by Elliott Mackle: I am having a love affair with Elliott Mackle's works at the moment. That's a hint as to how I feel about this book, but I will be reviewing this story soon and am saying no more -- mum is the word. (Review and grade to come)
  9. Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone: Did I love this novella or what? Green Thumb was my favorite read of the month. Tom Cardamone is a fantastic writer of queer speculative fiction (just read Pumpkin Teeth and you'll see what I mean), and then he had to go and create his gorgeous character Leaf to finish off the job of hooking me. This novella is 142 pages long and every single word is worth reading. I received the eARC for review, but ended up purchasing the print copy for my shelves. It's a keeper. I recommend it to lovers of gay speculative fiction, or just lovers of speculative fiction, period! Grade: A
  10. Zero Gravity Outcasts by Kay Keppler: I won this SFR enovella at Tracy's Place and really wanted to love it. This very short novella is action packed with some very interesting tekkie information, so that there's no question it is a science fiction piece. I enjoyed Keppler's world, however, the world building lacks detail and full development, probably due to length. The characters are likable, with underdeveloped secondary characters and little chemistry found between the male and female protagonists. There's little romance and the resolution to the conflict between the main couple is rushed and not quite satisfactory. Regardless, it would be wonderful to revisit this world and the characters in a longer novella/book, as I found them interesting and think they have potential. (Carina Press, April 2012) Grade: C-
  11. Private Confessions by Lori Borril:  In this 2007 Harlequin Blaze, a woman has the hots for her boss, and although the attraction is reciprocated, neither wants to act on the attraction. They both separately join a singles fantasy website, begin an "online" affair and what amounts to virtual sex. Things get hot during those sessions, but frankly once the game is up their physical encounters lack the steam found during their fantasy sessions and the romantic connection between them is rather weak. This is an improbable story line and in many ways more a sensual fantasy than a contemporary romance. The resolution to the conflict between the protagonists wasn't really satisfactory with the woman giving up something that she worked hard to accomplish to appease the man's insecurities. Grade: C-
  12. Franky Gets Real by Mel Bossa: I loved Split by Mel Bossa and decided to give her second novel a try. I'm glad I did. This is a great story about five friends who grew up together and recently grew apart. While on a traditional camping trip, the secrets in their lives come roaring to the surface and their lives will never be the same. Ms. Bossa seems to have a knack for writing meaty gay/queer romances with substance. (Review and grade to come)
  13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone by J.K. Rowling (Re-read): Well what can I say... I re-read the first book in the Harry Potter series with the kiddies in the family. It has become a great summer tradition. I enjoyed it just as much as they did... that's the truth! I also loved watching the movie and comparing it to the story. Grade: B+
  14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Re-read): The same goes for the second book in the Harry Potter series. The kids loved this one too! Grade: B+
  15. Hex Appeal edited by P.N. Elrod: This was a pretty solid anthology overall. My favorite stories were written by Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, P.N. Elrod, and Simon R. Green. However, all the stories fit the anthology and while some were weaker than others, none were a real disappointment to me. Grade: B-
That's it for July! How about you? Any grrreat reads for you in July?

6 comments:

  1. I'm reading LEVIATHAN WAKES at the moment! Really enjoying it so far, so I'm glad the second book is as good.

    And OPEN SEASON is a classic Linda Howard :-)

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    1. Oh! I can't wait to find out what you think of Leviathan Wakes -- both plot and characters. I particularly would like to know what you think of Miller. ;P

      Open Season... I know! That's one of those books, like her McKenzie series, that I just kept leaving to read later. I'm glad I read it now though... just at the right moment, I think.

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  2. Great July reads, Hils! I'm so jealous! And 3 As, that is excellent :P But I'm not surprised given some of the books you've read LOL.

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    1. I indulged myself, Nath! And yes, 3 A's! Not bad, right? I read a lot more than I expected during the month. Those are always the best months. :D

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  3. Glad you had a good reading month, Hils. I like Linda Howard's books, but not as much as other readers seem to. I like the romances, but they always seem so light and sweet compared to the suspense plots. And the suspense plots are serious in nature, but then seem to be treated so lightly in the story. I find it contradictory. Even so I end up enjoying the books well enough.

    I think I only read 6 books in July. It was a busy month for me. In fact, you just reminded me to do my monthly adventure post! Ack! And my vacation post. I got some "work" to do! ;)

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    1. Welcome back, Christine!

      I see what you mean about LH RS's plots, Christine. In the ones I've read, the romances are always at the forefront and they contrast severely with the suspense plots which happen to be the weak point of the books. NR is similar in that respect... but because I love the way they write romance, I don't seem to mind this too, too much. :D

      I'm surprised that you even read 6 books in July, Christine! You had such an action-packed month! I look forward to reading your vacation/adventure post (particularly since you went to the Olympics?!). Get to it!! LOL!

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