Sunday, May 4, 2014

April 2014 Reads: Recap, Favorites + Minis

April was a cold, rainy month. Spring arrived, but winter decided to stick around (it snowed in April) and we are still experiencing some very cool days around this part of the country. I can't wait for some sun and heat! Anyway, April was also a very busy month around my house. Family came to visit from Seattle, my husband is still at home recuperating, and I've worked some late nights! My reading and blogging schedule has gone out the window, but at this point I'm hopeful because my end-of-month and beginning of May reading has been great so far!

Total April reads: 6
 Contemporary Romance: 2
 Paranormal Romance: 1
 Science Fiction: 1
 Fantasy: 1
 LGBT: 1 (western historical romance)
 DNF: 1

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: A-*
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is, without a doubt, my favorite read of the month. It is also on my list of favorite reads for the year, and Maia is on my list of memorable characters. If you like fantasy, court intrigue, and a hopeful, if intricate, plot with a fantastic main character, I urge you to read The Goblin Emperor. It's a refreshing change from all the dark fantasy reads around.

A Shiny Tin Star by Jon Wilson (Review to come)
I received an ARC of A Shiny Tin Star by Jon Wilson from Lethe Press in April. The publisher is due to re-release the book in July 2014. I know it's early, but I began to skim the first few pages, ended up reading the whole book, and actually began rereading it as soon as I finished it. My review will be posted closer to release, but just so you all know, this gay western historical romance is also a favorite read for the month of April.

Heaven's Queen (Paradox #3) by Rachel Bach: B
This is the final installment of Bach's Paradox science fiction trilogy. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed riding that roller coaster through space with Deviana Morris and the rest of the crew. This is a solid, entertaining, and well written science fiction trilogy with a memorable central character and a romance. Some readers have called this trilogy "UF in space," and have compared Devi to Kate Daniels. I don't know if I would go that far, but Devi does have a fabulous voice, and the action is fantastic. The romance is a slow build that becomes central in this book and the story as a whole ends well. I recommend the whole trilogy -- the first and second books having the most action, conflict, and filled with mystery, and this one a slower pace, romance, and all the answers.

Sex and The Single Fireman by Jennifer Bernard: B
Sabina and Roman are a great couple that made Sex and The Single Fireman a solid, enjoyable, and entertaining contemporary romance read. What's not to like about a gorgeous Italian fireman who just happens to be a great single father, a fantastic cook, and who has a touch of the alpha male, and although brooding, knows how to turn a woman's knees to water? Sabina, a firefighter herself, is no slouch. She's a strong character with a mysterious past, sexy and hot for her man, but not a pushover.

The story takes place in a station where hot firefighters have been the subject of unwelcome media attention due to a curse. This curse is a bit of a weak storyline, but the setting and circumstances make for a fun moments, cute situations, and great dialog. Bernard weaves in 9/11 and the impact it had on firefighters all over the country. A New York City native, Roman was personally affected by the terrible events, however, Bernard doesn't overwhelm the romance with that situation. On the contrary, she handles it beautifully. I picked up this book after reading Sonia's TBR review, and am so glad I did. I agree with her, Sex and The Single Fireman is not perfect, but it is an enjoyable contemporary romance. I look forward to reading more by Jennifer Bernard.
A Light at Winter's End (Cedar Springs #3) by Julia London: B-
My TBR review of the month, A Light at Winter's End was a very good read with two unlikable characters (the sisters), facing some seriously bad circumstances and dealing with deeply rooted family dysfunction. A combination women's fiction and romance, this book made think hard about how detrimental labeling children's personalities can be: the "smart," the "pretty," the "lazy" child -- how this labeling may or does affect how those same children see themselves (often through a narrow lens) throughout their lives.

Shadow Spell (Cousins O'Dwyer #2) by Nora Roberts: C
I wish I could say that I loved this book by Roberts. I am a long-time fan after all. With Shadow Spell, Nora Roberts continues the story of the cousins O'Dwyer by weaving the romance that develops between Connor O'Dwyer and childhood family friend Mara Quinn, and the cousins' efforts to defeat evil Cabhan who, although weakened, regains enough strength to attack both Connor and Mara. My favorite parts of this book are the flashbacks that take the reader back to the story of the original three and the connection that is established between Connor and Emmon through dreams. The dream connection is a new element added to this trilogy, but the rest is pretty much more of the same found in the first book: the three couples working together to defeat Cabhan by getting together, cooking, discussing how to do it, with a few weak attacks taking place throughout the story and a big one at the end. Additionally, how Cabhan is defeated at the end is foreshadowed in this book -- that was disappointing.

I love when the friends to lovers device is used to build a romance. Unfortunately although we're "told" that Connor always felt that Mara was the right woman for him, I didn't feel that at all. Instead, it felt as if they were very good, caring friends even as a kiss leads to more. It all comes about abruptly and moves from there with few personal conflicts coming from Mara affecting the relationship. In other words, the romance between Connor and Mara lacks spark and heat -- passion.  I'm hoping that the last romance will add a bit of punch, and/or passion to this passionless trilogy, but at this point I doubt that will be the case. So far this is a predictable series with comfortable "chicken soup" moments, and likable characters, but for me this particular book has nothing that raises it above an average read.
DNF: Did not finish (not for me):
My one DNF of the month was The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James, a book I've had in my TBR for years! I read as far as page 143 or 48% in my Kindle, and couldn't continue. I know the reason behind that is because I could not stand Jason, the male protagonist. Taylor, the female protagonist, says of him at one point, quote "The man was a total penis." And he was. . . really full of himself. Additionally, I didn't enjoy the back and forth that went on and on between the characters, and Taylor was not exactly endearing either. Oh, well. Although this book was not for me, I'm glad that I finally attempted to read it, and I'm also quite happy that my first book by favorite author Julie James was Something About You followed by my favorite to date, A Lot Like Love!

--------

In April I read few books, but I enjoyed the majority of them. I also reread my two favorites of the month: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and A Shiny Tin Star by Jon Wilson.  They are very different reads, yet they have something important in common: memorable protagonists who continue to visit or stay with the reader after the story is done.

How about you? How was your April reading? Did you find a fantastic book or a memorable character? 


Just Read:  The Will by Kristen Ashley

4 comments:

  1. Shadow Spell was no great thrill for me, either. I agree entirely with all points of your review. (Perhaps saddest of all, though, is the fact that this is more or less what I'm expecting out of Nora's books these days. I used to always love her trilogies, but the last several have just been so tepid and unremarkable.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nifty, I know! I agree with you, it is sad. The last few trilogies haven't worked for me either. I still buy them and read them, but they feel like a rehash of better works without the elements that made them great.

      Delete
  2. Awwww, that's too bad that April was not a big reading month... but at least, you had The Goblin Emperor! Which I'll have to read :)

    I'm surprised you had not read The Sexiest Man Alive! I know you're a big fan of Ms James. See, that's why it took me a while to warm up to Ms James. Everyone raved about that book and I thought it was okay.

    I've been buying Ms Roberts trilogy books, but I'm not planning to really read them. Tried the first one and it just confirmed that Ms Roberts' paranormals are just not for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nath, The Goblin Emperor made my month! I hope you read it soon. :)

      RE: The Sexiest Man Alive. I remember all the raving! I purchased the book way back when! It was supposed to be my first read by Julie James. But, it just sat there in my Kindle and I couldn't get past the first few pages for ages, so I gave up. I decided to try it again since I now love Julie James. But unfortunately, it was still a no-go for me and I didn't want to waste my time reading a book about characters I wasn't invested in.

      RE: Nora Roberts PNR trilogies. I love some of her old ones. My recent problem with Roberts seems to be deeper than with her rehashed PNR trilogies. It just seems to me that all her characters are beginning to have the same "voice" and that together with the lack of passion in her romance bothers me tremendously. The Witness is a recent exception for me.

      Delete

Anonymous Users disallowed due to large influx of spam.