Friday, January 20, 2012

This 'n That: Reading Update, Romance & Scifi

Happy weekend everyone! I'm back at work and well... working! Already missing my wonderful, lazy, vacation days and very glad that the weekend is finally here.

My blogging has been spotty these past couple of weeks due to all the beginning of the year craziness, but I have found time for reading. And what have I been reading? Lots of science fiction! Yes... By participating in Carl V's 2012 Science Fiction Experience I've developed a craving for all things sci fi, and I'm the type of reader that obsesses. Sci fi and/or Fantasy can do that to me. :)


So far this month, I've read lots of Scalzi! From the Metatropolis anthology edited by John Scalzi, I read his novella, "Quiritationem Suis." I also read Scalzi's first novel Old Man's War, and the second book of the Old Man's War trilogy, The Ghost Brigades. I followed that up with a novella set in this same world, After the Coup. Right now I'm reading The Sagan Diary in preparation for the third and last book of the original Old Man's War trilogy, The Last Colony. After I finish that book, I'll write up an overview about the trilogy. What I can tell you is that so far the first book is my favorite, it is definitely quick paced military science fiction with great action and flow. Scalzi also gives the reader something to think about without beating him/her over the head with a hammer, and yes... there's actually a love interest in there! Can you believe it? :)


Also as a follow up to reading Leviathan Wakes in December, I read the novella The Butcher of Anderson Station: A Story of The Expanse by James S.A. Corey. This novella focuses on an incident that defined the career of (and eventually the man) one of the characters that plays a key role in Leviathan Wakes. Fred Johnson is the leader of the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) by the time we meet him in Leviathan Wakes. Throughout the book he was referred to as the Butcher of Anderson Station, however that was never explained.

This story goes back in time and focuses on that story, giving the readers and fans of this new series a terrific first person account of exactly what shaped this character. It also gives the reader further insight into how Earth viewed Belters and why Fred eventually turns from hero to traitor. The story feels rather incomplete, though. By the end there's a sense that there's more to Fred, or that there should be more. The political implications are touched upon lightly in this novella, and I'm hoping that the second book of the trilogy will give us more Fred. Of course, to me this was just an appetizer before the main course. That would be Caliban's War (Expanse #2), coming in June 2012.


And sticking with the subject of sci fi, if you like old style pulp sci fi, you need to check out Carl V's post on Hunt the Space Witch! by Robert Silverberg. I haven't read anything by this author and after reading that post of course I immediately purchased the book. I love pulp, plus hmm... check out that cover!

I also joined the 2012 TBR Challenge, hosted by our Super Librarian Wendy. However, between the Science Fiction Experience and Wendy's TBR Challenge, so far this year I've added more to my reading pile than I've read! How is that helping me? Well, hopefully it will help me gather some great titles instead of duds. Right? Isn't that a wonderful way to rationalize my recent book-buying spree? Check out my recent additions:

After reading Scalzi's Old Man's War I experienced a bit of nostalgia, so to re-read a couple of books I no longer own, I also purchased in ebook format two old classics:


In other news, I broke the sci fi spell I was under by reading a couple of contemporary romances. One of those books was by Emily March. She's a new-to-me author and for some reason I kept looking at her latest release Lover's Leap: An Eternity Springs Novel and going back to it, until I bought it and read it this last week.

This book is part of a series, but it's pretty much a self-contained romance, so it was not too tough reading it and getting into it. It's basically a story about second chances at love, errors in judgment, redemption, and forgiveness. It's an interesting series, although there's something 'quirky' about it. A lot of talk about the 'angel inside' and 'miracles.' I wasn't too taken with this aspect of the book... plus there's this character, Celeste who comes off as kind of "new-agey," who seems to be the center of the whole series. I know there was something about her that I missed. Definitely. For me, it was an okay contemporary romance with a couple of frustrating moments provided by one character that turned out to be particularly immature. Has anyone read the other books in this series? I'm curious because I liked some of the secondary characters.


I read a few other books, including Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis, but I'll be reviewing those books later on. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TBR Review: Light the Stars (Cowboys of Cold Creek #1) by RaeAnne Thayne

Wade Dalton was having a very bad day.

His five-year-old had accidentally set the kitchen on fire. His daughter was surly, as usual. The baby hadn't been fed yet. And his mother--aka "The Childminder"--had eloped...with a scam artist. Could it get any worse?

Turned out it could. Because the annoyingly beautiful daughter of said scam artist was now at the door, batting her doe eyes at him and proposing that she be his temporary nanny while awaiting the newlyweds' return. Could he trust her to be under his roof? Could he trust himself with her under his roof?
I've enjoyed reading RaeAnne Thayne stories these last few of years. In 2009 I read Dancing in the Moonlight, Book 2 of the original Cowboys of Cold Creek trilogy, and soon thereafter I purchased and read most of Thayne's back list. I still have a couple of them in my TBR. Light the Stars, Book 1 of the trilogy, was one of them.

I really like the way the story begins. It kept me reading:
On his thirty-six birthday, Wade Dalton's mother ran away.

She left him a German chocolate cake on the kitchen counter, two new paperback mysteries by a couple of his favorite authors and a short but succinct note in her loopy handwriting.


Happy birthday. I'm sorry I couldn't be there to celebrate with you but by the time you read this we'll be in Reno and I'll be the new Mrs. Quinn Montgomery.....
Wade Dalton owns and runs the Cold Creek Ranch, on top of that he's a widower with three children. His mother eloping with a stranger is a big concern, but having to care for the house and three small children on top of the ranch responsibilities leaves him angry, confused and feeling more than a little helpless. His mother has been taking care of his children for so long that Wade is clueless about them or how to care of them.

In comes Caroline Montgomery, the new groom's daughter. Caroline was Marjorie Dalton's life coach. Unfortunately, Marjorie somehow met Caroline's scheming father and the two eloped together. Hoping to stop the marriage and what she suspects is another grift planned by her father, Caroline rushes from Los Angeles to Cold Creek, but arrives too late to stop the elopement.

Instead she finds a furious and suspicious Wade Dalton as he tries to deal with two little boys and a crazy situation. Feeling guilty over her unwitting role and her father's possible actions, Caroline basically pushes her way into Wade's life and volunteers to take care of the children until Marjorie returns. After much ado, he agrees and pretty soon she's close to the children and tempting Wade out of his celibate status.

The relationship between Wade and Caroline begins with suspicion oozing from Wade and guilt from Caroline. As they share family moments, Caroline realizes that Wade doesn't really know his children and as she makes him aware of these facts their attraction for each other grows. Wade reluctantly admits the attraction, basically because he has only been in love once and that was with his now deceased wife. He uses his suspicions of Caroline to keep a distance between them and goes the distance to the end. On the other hand, initially Caroline is giving with Wade and the children out of guilt for what she sees as her role in her father's possible future criminal plans, and pretty quickly falls in love with both the children and the father.

There's very little warmth to Wade since he spends most of the story coming off as an angry bear, and although there's plenty of warmth to Caroline, she somehow comes off as pushy particularly since their time together is so short. The timeline doesn't help to make this relationship really workable or believable. The connection between these two characters is tenuous and that's probably due to Wade's angry personality and the fact that he suppresses and negates his feelings for most of the story.

I really enjoyed the ranch setting and the wonderful extended family. Wade has two brothers, Jake and Seth, and his children who play an integral role in this story are quite cute, particularly the two little boys. The Daltons had an interesting childhood and that is touched on in this first book of the trilogy. Secondary characters are kept to family members and they play peripheral roles in this story, so the focus stays firmly on the couple and the family.

The stories I've read by Thayne have had some depth to them, and although in this instance I still enjoyed the writing style, Light the Stars is not one of those stories, and in that respect it was disappointing. This is an enjoyable read up to a point, but it turned out to be standard fare with an aggressively suspicious hero, and a heroine that's not only quite forgiving of his crankiness and unfair behavior, but actually seemed to yearn for it once things came to a head between them.

I think it is fortunate that I read the second book of this trilogy first. Regardless, having read Thayne's other works, I still look forward to reading Seth's story, Dalton's Undoing, the 3rd book in this trilogy -- another book that I also have in my "to be read" pile. Maybe this year!

Theme: Category Romance
January Review
Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin/May 24, 2010-Kindle Ed.
Grade: C-

Visit RaeAnne Thayne here.

Original Cowboys of Cold Creek Trilogy:
Light the Stars, #1
Dancing in the Moonlight, #2
Dalton's Undoing, #3

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Feature: The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss

The Thorn and the Blossom is the story of two star-crossed lovers.

Evelyn Morgan is a young American student studying at Oxford when she walks into Thorne & Son, a bookstore in the Cornish village of Clews. Little does she know, but she is about to meet the love of her life. And when Brendan Thorne hands her a medieval poem called The Book of the Green Knight, he doesn't know that it will shape his future forever. After that first meeting, they don't see each other for years -- yet neither ever stops thinking about the other. It's as if they are the haunted lovers in the old book itself.
I was offered The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss for review and frankly, besides the fact that this is a story about star-crossed lovers with a mystery, the format really caught my attention. This is a two sided story printed in an accordion-fold binding. The story is told from Evelyn's perspective on one side of the book and as you turn it around, you can read the story from Brendan's perspective on the other side. You can see how that works here. The result is quite interesting.

The book itself is gorgeous. It comes in a hard slip case (the cover you see above), and I think it would make a beautiful gift or just a great keeper for your bookshelf. I love it. Reading it was a bit awkward at first because the book doesn't have a spine and it has to be held a certain way, but after a while I found a way and it worked fine, particularly because the book is not heavy.

Although this novella is short (38 pages for Evelyn's story and 39 for Brendan's) I loved the fact that, using this method, by the time the end comes around both characters' motives or motivations are well-known to the reader even though both sides of the story mirror each other. Using that different perspective and developing each character in depth makes a big difference to the reader's experience. I began the book from Brendan's point of view and then went on to Evelyn's, but I do wonder how it would be to begin the story the other way... would the experience be different? Interesting.

The story itself is beautifully written by Theodora Goss. This is a combination of the contemporary and the mythological, as Evelyn and Brendan's story seems to mirror that of Sir Gawan and Elowen which is found in the medieval poem The Book of the Green Knight, simultaneously giving the reader a sense of a concrete present and a magical atmosphere. It's a wonderful combination. Goss packs a lot into this little book, yet I couldn't help but wish the story had been just a little bit longer.

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss is a beautiful little book with an interesting format that works quite well with Evelyn and Brendan's sweet and magical love story.

Category: Fantasy
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Quirk Books/January 17, 2012
Source: ARC Quirk Books
Grade: B+

Visit Theodora Goss here.

About the Author: Theodora Goss won the World Fantasy Award in 2008 for her short story "The Singing of Mount Abora." She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Locus, and Mythopoeic awards and has appeared on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Her writing has been showcased repeatedly in "Year's Best" anthologies. She lives in Boston, where she teaches literature at Boston University.

Review: The Proposition by Judith Ivory

No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn't at all certain she won't swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.

Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up—the perfect English lady—but there is unleashed passion existing just below her placid facade (not to mention a great pair of legs!). And as she prepares him to take his place in society, Mick prepares Edwina to take her place in his heart...and in his bed.
Published in 1999 by Avon, The Proposition by Judith Ivory is one historical romance, that in my opinion no matter the current trend in romance preferences, stands the test of time and will always find new fans.

Why is that? Well, she came up with two unusual protagonists, particularly our hero. First we have Mick Tremore, a rat catcher. He's handsome, fun, funny, brash, raunchy, uneducated (but highly intelligent), and not unhappy about his situation. Instead he's quite proud of himself and of what he has accomplished throughout his life. Although obviously poor, Mick's rat catching business is successful and has allowed him to take care of what's important to him -- he is good at his job. Mick is a lovely man. Of course you know I fell in love with Mick, his personality, and the outward symbol of his virility -- his beautiful mustache.

Then we have Lady Edwina Bollash. Like Mick, Edwina is also highly intelligent, except that she is a lady whose means have been reduced by circumstances and being considered plain in appearance by society has little to no chance of finding a husband. She certainly thinks of herself as unattractive. Now she's the tough to nut to crack, and the character with the contradictory personality in this story. I say contradictory because Edwina is an independent woman who makes a living as a linguist and outwardly seems knowing and confident, but as we slowly find out turns out to be insecure about her looks and a product of the times and her environment. Mick describes her as a "good girl who always wants to do the right thing to please others." That's exactly who Edwina turns out to be when we first meet her and before Mick works his magic on her. And magic he is.

Our story begins in a dressmaker's parlor with a mouse, a rat catcher and a pair of long beautiful legs peaking from under a dressing room. Our rat catcher is crude, dirty, but very handsome under all that grime. The ladies, from the maids to the posh ladies at the dressmakers, are taken by Mick's charm and handsome looks, and unfortunately (or fortunately) for him, his day quickly takes a turn when the maid's family catch her in the midst of seduction. A melee ensues and our heroine Edwina ends up saving Mick by translating the barely understandable language he uses to communicate, a mixture of Cornish and something else entirely.

Judith Ivory uses Pygmalion as the central basis for romance in The Proposition. Basically Edwina and Mick accept the proposition as set by two gentlemen who bet that Edwina can or can't transform the crude and rough Mick into a gentleman in six week's time by changing the way he speaks and behaves. The big test comes at the end of those six weeks when he's supposed to attend a ball to fool society. What happens during those six weeks is a beautiful thing. When I finished reading the story I wondered who exactly transformed whom in this romance. Mick's passion for life and seductive personality have as much of an influence on plain, naive, snobbish Edwina, as Edwina's vocal exercises have on Mick. It's a mutual transformation.

Why not an A then? Well there's the ending and a fairy tale aspect introduced into the story that well... I don't want to spoil for those who have not read this book yet. But, although this segment of the story made it all work out beautifully for Edwina and Mick and gave them both a wonderful happy ever after, in a way it was kind of a let down for me. I was hoping for that section of it to be just as different as the rest of the story and characters, and it turned out to be predictable. Regardless, I enjoyed Mick and Edwina's journey so much that by the end I was quite happy with their story. Tra la la...

Favorite scenes: The opening scene. The plant song scenes. The leg scene in the library. All the scenes where Mick's mustache is featured! Edwina's dancing scene. :)

The Proposition by Judith Ivory. Why did I wait so long to read it? It's a wonderful romance with memorable characters and moments, beautiful writing and for me it's a definite keeper.

Category Romance: Historical Romance
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Avon/December 8, 1999 (Digital edition available)
Grade: B+

Visit Judith Ivory here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Science Fiction Experience: Science Fiction "B Movies"

Joining the 2012 Science Fiction Experience has made me crave not only books, but also science fiction movies! Now, I'm not talking about the best of the best here... I do love those: Star Wars (the original series), Blade Runner, The Matrix, Alien, a few of the Star Trek movies, etc. I also happen to have a secret passion for "B" movies. You know... the ones that get the dreaded "Rotten Tomatoes" ratings every year, the ones that the critics hate and that serious science fiction fans can't stand to watch? Those.

So, I began by watching some of those movies that I know are flawed (some of the seriously flawed), but that for some unknown reason I get stuck watching anyway. It's interesting because here and there these movies all offer something to science fiction fans. I looked for that this time around instead of doing what I usually do -- talking through most of the movies, pointing out what's wrong with them to my poor husband (who does the same thing to me), or just laughing at the most inappropriate moments, it's fun!

The first movie I watched was Pitch Black. Pitch Black was directed by David Twohy and stars Vin Diesel. Why do I watch this movie? I enjoy the action, the fact that in effect it has that sci-fi/thriller/horror edge to it with the aliens providing the gore, while some of the humans provide the real horror through their questionable actions. They prove to be the true monsters to be conquered by the oh so very dark hero, Riddick. Of course the thriller aspect of the film is still provided as those same humans are pitted against the aliens. It's nothing new or fresh in science fiction, but I do enjoy that type of story line within this genre.

Now, when it comes to the actual sci-fi details and world building, the story is lacking and the action aspect of the film takes precedence over character depth or specific details. This is where Pitch Black falls under the "B movie" category for me. A great science fiction film is all about the details, and those are missing. For example right at the beginning of the movie the pilot (Caroline Fry) crash lands the ship on the planet after they are hit by debris from a comet. However there's no way she could have survived the crash as all the windows of the ship burst right on her face as they are entering the planet's atmosphere at top speed. Later on, Fry should not have survived her foray into the alien's cave either, but obviously it wasn't her time to die yet.

There's also the planet itself and the fact that seems to be very close to three suns, with desert-like weather and blistering temperatures. The survivors are not prepared for a trek through this blistering desert. They don't have the right gear, nor do they have water... yet they survive a long trek by drinking alcohol without any outward effects. And then there's Riddick, the questionable hero of the piece. He obviously has abilities that are beyond those of a mere human. For example, he can see in the dark, but the rest is basically implied. In Pitch Black, Riddick is just a very dangerous criminal who somehow can survive in the dark when others can't, can smell when someone is bleeding (even though this is not apparent), and can even fight the native aliens and win, but how he does this is never explained. Ever. Not even at the end of the movie.

There are also lots of cliches used in the film. Most of what happens is foreshadowed. You know when someone is going to bite the dust, or make the stupid move that's going to get someone killed. This is not a movie I recommend as a great example of a science fiction film. However, as an action film with some of that science fiction flavor it can be highly entertaining to watch on a Sunday afternoon.

There's a sequel to Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick where Riddick's abilities are explained. I've also seen that film, but that would be another post. :)

I did watch two other movies in the "B movie" category:

Soldier is a 1998 science fiction-action film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. The film stars Kurt Russell as Sgt. Todd, a soldier trained from birth. This was one of the biggest flops ever in the history of film! There's some military sci-fi action in this film with a bit of social sci-fi. The problem is that neither is really developed and the film devolves into an action film that doesn't really make a point either way.

The interesting factoid about this film? The screenwriter David Peoples "considers Soldier to be a "sidequel"/spiritual successor to Blade Runner." Ahhh, nope! Sorry, but I don't see it.

Push is a 2009 American science fiction thriller film directed by Paul McGuigan starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Gretsch and Djimon Hounsou. The film focuses on a group of people born with various superhuman abilities: Movers (Telekinetics), Watchers (Foreseers), Pushers (Mind Controllers), Sniffers, Shadows, Shifters, etc...

The main characters, three young adults band together in order to take down the "Division", a government agency that is developing a dangerous drug to enhance their powers, hoping to create an army of super soldiers. This was an interesting movie with a good premise I enjoyed, even as I watched the dead end action scenes that had no real purpose and its inconclusive and sequel-bating ending. This movie is like an episode in an ongoing series with no real conclusion. Incomplete.

That's it for my science fiction "B" movie watching. That was fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Joining In: TBR Challenge 2012

The TBR Challenge 2012 hosted by Wendy of The Misadventures of Super Librarian is one that I definitely need to join this year. I've been accumulating books and that pile grew more than it went down this last year. Time to cut it down a bit (even if it is by 12 books!).

This challenge has simple rules. Choose one book per month that has been lingering in that old TBR pile, read it, and either leave a comment at Wendy's blog on the scheduled date, or review it.

Wendy is also providing some theme suggestions each month for participants, but this is not written in stone. I'm actually loving that aspect of the challenge, because now I'll have to start hunting my TBR to find books that match her themes, and I can't wait to see what I find in there. Hopefully some good reads.

This post will serve as my summary page for the Challenge.

Monthly Review Dates And Theme Suggestions:

January 18 - Light the Stars by RaeAnne Thayne: Category romance
February 15 - Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie: Recommended Read
March 21 - Dalton's Undoing by RaeAnn Thayne: Series Catch-Up
April 18 - Almost a Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal: New-to-Me Author
May 16 - The Charm School by Susan Wiggs : Published prior 2000
June 20 - Logan's Outlaw by Elaine Levine: Western (Western )
July 18 - Open Season by Linda Howard: Not on theme
August 15 - Dirty by Megan Hart: Erotic Romance
September 19 - Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher: Genre besides romance
October 17 - On Thin Ice (Ice #1) by Anne Stuart: Romantic Suspense
November 21 - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: All About The Hype
December 19 - Holiday themes (Christmas, Thanksgiving, it's all good!)

Wish me luck!

Joining In: The 2012 Science Fiction Experience

The 2012 Science Fiction Experience is not a challenge, it is an experience. Hosted by Carl V. of Stainless Steel Droppings, this will basically be two months worth of discussions about science fiction that will go from January 1st through February 29, 2012.

Carl is making this experience fun and I think cool! I love that the discussions include science fiction books, movies and television shows watched. I'm looking forward to not only reading some books that I've accumulated, but hopefully joining in on some of the discussions. Hopefully, I will gather a great list of titles for future reading too!

I'm not sure which books I'll read yet. These are the books that I already own and that are in my list of possible reads:

However, I do have a few others! We'll see.

I'll be keeping my list of books read at the bottom of this post.
Wish me luck!

  1. Science Fiction "B Movies"
  2. The Butcher of Anderson Station: A Story of the Expanse by James S.A. Corey - Mini
  3. Overview: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (Old Man's War #1, The Ghost Brigades #2) 
  4. Impressions: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
Books Read:
  1. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
  2. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  3. The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi
  4. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
  5. After the Coup by John Scalzi
  6. The Butcher of Anderson Station: A Story of the Expanse by James S.A. Corey
  7. Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Series, #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  8. How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story by John Scalzi
Movies Watched (watched more!):
  1. The Matrix
  2. Pitch Black
  3. Soldier
  4. Push
  5. Star Trek (2009, directed by J.J. Abrams)
  6. Priest (spec fic)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Moments and Final Recap!

Well, my overall recap for 2011 is here at last! It was a very good year! I read more than expected considering my crazy work schedule and family's health problems, but best of all I read some excellent books along the way and had a good time too.

Best Moments of 2011: Meeting friends (old and new), bloggers, and authors.
Favorite Posts/Reviews:
  • The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa - Talk about obsession, I actually wrote THREE posts about this book: The review, plus two posts at my side blog Quotes & Thoughts, with my favorite of those two being Sex and Power in the Feast of the Goat
  • The Abode of Bliss: Ten Stories for Adam by Alex Jeffers: I loved this book and writing the review was a pleasure, but then came the cherry on top. I'm not a fangirl, far from it, but when Mr. Jeffers came by and left a comment on my review, there was a flutter of the fangirl about me for a minute there... I admit it! LOLOL! 
  • John Donne - The Good Morrow: This was a totally self-indulgent post that went up after I spent weeks perusing some of my favorite works by Donne. If left up to me I would probably have posted about ten pages on his poetry and essays, but I figured you would all be snoring by the time I finished. LOL! Instead my post became a very small summary. To all those Donne-crazed fans who came by and made it my second most visited post of the year, a BIG thank you!! ;P

Worst moment of 2011:
  • Deleting ALL the numbers for previous years from my Stat Counter! Yes... in January 2011, I accidentally deleted my Impressions "project," lost all my numbers, and was not able to recover them. My numbers started anew as of the second week of January. Again! Oh... the idiocy! 

2011 Challenges:

As far as Challenges go, I only joined two in 2011: I continued the In-Death Challenge hosted by The happily ever after... where I failed miserable by not reading any books during the whole year! I mean, not ONE -- see my summary page. Fail! [Hangs head in shame]

I also joined the 2011 Book Club: The Women of Fantasy hosted by Jawa Reads, Too! I did a better job there. I chose four books to read for the year. Unfortunately as you will see on my summary page, I completed one book and "DNF" (did not finish) two of the books. The book club did not continue with reading and discussions after June, so the fourth book is still in my TBR.



Total books read: 202
Total Posts153
Total Reviews/Minis156
Books by Categories:
  LGBT (Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Thrillers, YA): 57
  Contemporary (Romance/Fiction/Erotica): 48
  Historical: (Romance/Fiction): 44
  Paranormal Romance: 11
  Urban Fantasy: 11
  Fantasy/Speculative Fiction: 10
  Science Fiction/Science Fiction Romance: 8
  Mysteries: 5
  Misc (Fiction/Children's/Poetry/Non-Fiction): 7

During 2011, I kept better records at Goodreads than I did at my blog. I actually had to reconcile my books read titles and numbers between the two sites! LGBT is my highest number for the year and that is a surprise (TY 57 vs. LY 36), especially since I read very few books in that category during the first half of the year. And I'm quite happy with the increase in the historical romance numbers (TY 44 vs. LY 26). I didn't quite reach my personal goal of reading 12 books for the year in the Fantasy category, but did increase the number (TY 10 vs. LY 2).

  • A noticeable change from 2010 to 2011 is the fact that I read more new releases and less books from my TBR or "to be read" pile of books. As a matter of fact, I added quite a bit to that pile! 
  • In 2011 I also accepted more books or ARCs for review. That's unusual for me, but even through all the stressful family emergencies somehow I found the time to keep up with most of the commitments I accepted during the year, and discovered some favorite reads and authors there! So, it turned out to be a good overall experience. 
  • This was the year of the anthology for me too. I read approximately 15 anthologies that included everything from 3 to 29 novellas or short stories! That's a record for me. 
  • And last, but not least, I joined Twitter after much bellyaching. I still don't really use it much and only think of using it after the fact, but I'll get there, someday. *g* 
That is it!! Now I'll look forward to 2012, and start fresh with the new year. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

December 2011: Reads and Minis

Happy New Year everyone! Hope your holidays were fabulous!

Here's my last monthly recap for 2011. It's a long one. I read more than expected due to the fact that I was on vacation for over a week and just relaxed. Some of those reads are short, but I did manage to get in some full-length novels in there as well.

One of my top reads for the month made it to my top ten favorite reads for the year, one was an honorable mention, and the other two were read during the last week of the year! I ended the year with a bang, just the way I like it.

Here are my reads for December, 2011:

Total Books Read: 23  DNF: 1
   Contemporary: Romance, Erotica - 5
   Historical Romance: Novels, Short Stories - 6
   Paranormal Romance: 1
   Science Fiction: 1
   Fiction 2
   Non-Fiction: 1
   LGBT: Fiction, Romance, Mysteries, Erotica - 7

My top reads for December:
  • Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey: A
Leviathan Wakes! Yes! This is a science fiction opera with all the action and science fiction details any reader would expect of just such an endeavor. Yet for me, the characters in this fantastic space adventure are the ones that lifted it from being a just another tale about ships and chases through the stars. Miller, the pulp fiction noirish style, cynical detective, obsessed with finding one girl and relentless in his pursuit. And, Captain Jim Holden a rather naive, gung ho Captain with a rag tag crew who in his pursuit of revenge finds a truth bigger than the known universe. A mystery/thriller in space with amazing characters and fantastic science fiction details. What else can a geeky girl like me ask for? This book made it to my top ten favorite reads of 2011. 
The enjoyable Bs:
Here come the C's:
I love Chris Owen's writing style and own this series. Unfortunately, I "DNF" (did not finish) this book the first time I tried reading it a couple of years ago. I know a lot of readers love this series, so I decided I would try it again and finish it this time. Frankly, I had the same reaction this time and for the most part the book seems rather clinical and flat, lacking real emotion and passion. At least that's the way it read to me. I didn't connect with the characters at all. However, this time I continued to the end. There does seem to be a bit more of an emotional connection between the characters on that last third of the book, but by that time it was a bit late for me as a reader to connect with them. Obviously this book/series is not for me.
And one lonely DNF (did not finish): I usually don't include DNF's with my list. However in this case I wanted to give the book a chance and read over half of the book before simply realizing that the book is just not for me.
  • The Hunter by Theresa Meyers - DNF (Read 55% of the book)

That's it for December! I'll be writing a few reviews for my December reads. We the Animals by Justin Torres was a huge surprise and one that I'll be talking about. The Proposition by Judith Ivory was a delightful read full of mustaches, legs, ferrets and some wonderful characters. Drown by Junot Diaz is a fiction book I read for my Internet Book Club, and of course there's Jo Goodman's first contemporary romance, A Place Called Home, and Jacquelyne Frank's paranormal romance, Adam -- the last book of her Nightwalkers series, #6.

Did you find any gems in December?