Friday, October 4, 2013

September 2013 Recap: Books Read + Minis

I am in the middle of what I am calling an "Indescribably Severe Period of Blogger's Fatigue." I'm half-way through my fifth year of blogging, and it has been seven years (or is it eight) since I've been hanging around the blogosphere. Perhaps it's the seven year itch and I just need a little pick-me up. Someone prepare a strong and refreshing mint julep for me, please!

Anyway, here are my reads for September 2013:

Total Books Read: 18
Contemporary: 1 (YA Fiction)
Historical: 1 (Romance)
Urban Fantasy: 10
Fantasy: 4 (Historical Fantasy Fiction: 2)
LGBT: 2 (Gay Fiction: 1, M/M Romance: 1)

Top 3 Reads of the month:



Desire: Tales of New Orleans by William Sterling Walker: A
I loved this book so much that I read it twice. You can read my review, but let me tell you... I had to retrain myself! This book is so gorgeous, I had enough notes and quotes to write a saga instead of a review. I can't believe I missed this collection in 2012.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: A-
This is a fantastic adult fairy tale. I can't recommend it enough to lovers of fantasy as a "must read."
Ashes of Honor (October Daye #6) by Seanan McGuire: A-
After reading the whole October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, this book was definitely my favorite. It is the one book of the series where everything came together and worked for me: Toby, the plot, the relationships, and the world-building.
One Salt Sea (October Daye #5) by Seanan McGuire: B+
I love the additional world-building in One Salt Sea. McGuire's inclusion of the Undersea Faerie Folk was fantastic. The revelations about the Luidaeg's history was a definite plus. And, this book has one of the funniest scenes as well as some of the saddest of the whole series. I was kind of relieved that some characters were finally disposed of and that decisions that needed to be made were faced by Toby.
The House of Impossible Loves by Cristina Lopez Barrio: B
This Latin American style magical realism yarn has teeth and challenges comfort zones with a few taboo subjects, love, angst, some truly hateful characters, and a gorgeous historical setting. Not for everyone.
Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs: B
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of werewolves and witches. Briggs's world-building is quite attractive and I liked the characters much more in this book than in the introductory novella, On the Prowl. However, I feel that without reading that novella, this book would be incomplete as it really explains Anna's psychological state of mind and how Charles came into her life. A solid read!
The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley: B
The lovely romance between detective Chief Inspector Lloyd Fellows and Lady Louisa Scranton is a novella. It contains passion and a wonderful crime mystery. I enjoyed getting to know Fellows while he yearned for his Louisa, and wished that there had been more page time when it ended.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: B
This was our Internet Book Club choice for the month of September. The Fault in Our Stars is not a book I intended to read, but it was recommended by Mariana's young daughter and of course I had to give it a go. If this book were a movie, it would fall under the "tear jerker" category. I found it to be relentlessly sad with three dimensional characters that pulled me in and under until the end. So yes, this is a great read, but I could not help but be relieved when it finally ended. Augustus and Hazel Grace are memorable characters I won't soon forget. A really great book for young adults.
Late Eclipses (October Daye #4) by Seanan McGuire: B
Late Eclipses is the book that was needed to give this series a boost, in my humble opinion. It's filled with great revelations about Toby, her magic, and her mother Amandine that help make sense of what happened in the previous three books. Finally! A solid, solid installment.
Rosemary & Rue (October Daye #1) by Seanan McGuire: B-
Rosemary and Rue begins with a bang, fizzles out, and then picks up with the kind of great world-building that I love and kept me reading this series.
Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire: B-
The latest release in the Toby Daye series was a mixed bag for me. The plot felt disjointed and not quite up to snuff, particularly after reading Ashes of Honor #6 -- a much tighter installment. In the end, I found the central theme of the book, pureblood superiority/inferiority with its power or lack of it, disturbing.
Carniepunk Anthology: B-
A dark urban fantasy anthology that is packed with stories that are part of ongoing series, although a few are free standing. I enjoyed enough of them to recommend this as a good October, Halloween read.
An Artificial Night (October Daye #3) by Seanan McGuire: C+
Another book I'm not crazy about, but I liked better than book #2 because characters such as Raj, Tybalt's nephew, are introduced, Quentin's relationship with Toby is further developed as is her relationship with the Luidaeg, plus the excellent fantasy world-building continues.
My Cowboy Heart by Z. A. Maxfield: C+
This was a good M/M Western Romance by ZAM but nothing really unique. This story about a foreman in his 30's who becomes aware that he is gay when a new out and proud gay ranch hand is hired, has been done before. It's not a gay for you story. Anyway, ZAM writes a good contemporary western yarn, better than some others I've read with this same plot device. I'm actually interested in reading the follow-up story about two older ranch hands, one of them an alcoholic.
On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5) by Patricia Briggs: C
A short novella with great central characters, but one that felt incomplete. It has that insta-mine paranormal device that feels a bit tired and an overly abusive storyline toward the female protagonist that nearly turned me off from continuing to the first book of the series. The world-building seemed interesting and I wanted to give Briggs a shot, so I continued on to Cry Wolf.
La Rosa de Fuego (The Rose of Fire: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #0.5) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: C
I read the Spanish version of this fantasy-based prequel to Zafon's Cemetery series and enjoyed his prose and writing style. Set in 15th Century Barcelona during the time of the inquisition, Zafon incorporates religion, ignorance, and the prejudicial mores of the times, along with a rather heavy handed dose of fantasy. This prequel is a bit too short and lacks depth.
A Local Habitation (October Daye #2) by Seanan McGuire: C-
Unfortunately this book drove me insane! Why? The setting for the plot in this book is limited for the most part to one very uninviting, cold place, the characters introduced are not compelling or interesting, and Toby is not well prepared to investigate the crimes occurring in this place. Yet, the relationship and world-building continued and that kept me reading.

Rereads:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: A
This is ghoulish children's fairy tale, that is true, but at its core it is a family-oriented fairy tale that deals beautifully and warmly with the subject of adoption. This was a reread for me, and yes I fell in love with the characters and Gaiman's storytelling talent all over again.

I will remember September 2013 as the month I went nuts reading UF! I began a couple of books from other UF series, but in the end settled for McGuire and Briggs. Maybe by the end of the year I'll read a few more of those "first books in a series" that have been hanging out in my TBR for years.

How was your September? I fell in love with Desire: Tales of New Orleans by William Sterling Walker and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Did you fall in love with any books last month?

6 comments:

  1. So the Gaiman was worth it? It's on my list of books to check out - I generally really enjoy his books once I get around to reading them, but for some reason, he's not an autobuy of mine...

    I was curious about the ZA Maxfield, but have not really loved any of the books from the Intermix imprint so held off on purchasing. Sounds as though it wasn't a standout? Oh, I read Josh Lanyon's new m/m release (THE PARTING GLASS) - really liked it, crazy angst-ing and I was in the mood for that ;-)

    Li

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  2. Li, the Gaiman was worth it for me. He's not an auto-buy for me either, and I have quite a few of his books in my TBR that I have NOT read, but I began this one when I bought it and it caught my attention. It was definitely worth the read. :)

    The ZAM contemporary western is a good, enjoyable western contemporary (I like western contemporaries and cowboys). It has likable characters, but it is predictable. So yes, a bit more than average because I enjoy ZAM's writing, but nothing more than that in my opinion. The next one, with the older cowboys, one of them an alcoholic, may be have a better shot at catching my interest. I haven't loved the Intermix imprint either, the ones I've read have been average for the most part.

    I have not read, or purchased The Parting Glass by Lanyon yet. I'll remedy that! Thanks for the heads up. :)

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  3. Great list! Lili is a great lover of VERY SAD BOOKS... I'm almost afraid when she suggests a read, lol. The Fault in our Stars was indeed oppressive; a great book, but really just sad.

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  4. Mariana, I had fun reading my September books. And, I'm glad that Lili recommended The Fault in Our Stars and that I read it! It was sad, but definitely worth reading. (You know I went through half a box of tissues and was a mess when I finished reading this book).

    PS: Maybe we can recommend some lighter (happier) reads to Lili in return. LOL!

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  5. Hey Hils... she's actually reading the Kate Daniels series and loving it. She loves fantasy as well, and I love that series to pieces. I wasn't sure she was quite old enough to read it, but I decided to let her... I was reading worse at her age ;) She's mature enough to handle it and she's already on book 3, so I know she's loving them. We've had quite the conversations about them :)

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    Replies
    1. That's fantastic, Mariana. The Kate Daniels series is wonderful. She can handle it. :) It has all those wonderful young characters too, Julie and Derek are my favorites. But, this is a great series for the two of you to share. Awesome! (I was reading worse at her age too!)

      She likes fantasy! There are so many wonderful fantasy series out there for her to discovery.

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