Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 12

When Memes Collide

A couple of weeks ago, the Weekly Geek challenge included trying a review in someone else’s style. At the time, I skipped it, but what with the hoopla of the Santa Olivia giveaway and busy-ness at work and summer ramping up, I’ve been giving some thought to Chris’s mini-reviews at Stumbling Over Chaos (sample). I really enjoy them and since I’ve managed to accumulate quite a backlog, I thought I’d give the mini-review format a shot. Try to forgive me if this post becomes unreasonably long – brevity isn’t exactly my strong suit.

13 Books I Meant to Review But Didn’t

1. Fools Rush In, by Kristan Higgins. Better than I thought it would be. The premise is super-silly: nerdy girl returns to the hometown with the medical degree and sets out to win the heart of the boy she’s had a crush on for 15 years. Hijinks ensue of the triangular kind. Higgins is a genuinely funny writer, but the interactions between the characters had unexpected depth. I’ll definitely be looking for more of her backlist.

2. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. Starts similarly, then takes a completely different direction. The best thing about this story is after the happily ever after—the couple’s adjustment to marriage is not a given, and the Black Moment is unusual and fresh. Of course, you wouldn’t expect less from Julia Quinn.

3. Call of the Highland Moon, by Kendra Leigh Castle. A paranormal of the shifter variety – I had read the second book first, and I still liked this one very much despite the plot being thus spoilered. I love the characters, especially Carly’s hidden strength and Gabriel’s hidden vulnerabilities.

4. You're So Vein, by Christine Warren. We met Ava in a previous book. I didn’t like her then and I don’t really like her now. She started with a disadvantage with me though; maybe others wouldn’t feel the same.

5. Under Fire, by Jo Davis. I don’t really get the bad rap this book is getting around the blogosphere. Sure, there’s some implausibility in the plot, but I read a lot of werewolves and vampires, remember? I’m OK with implausible. I thought Zack was just adorably romantic, and loved that he was willing to wear his heart on his sleeve. Admittedly, I'm hoping that not ALL of the Firefighters of Station Five are going to have their very own personal psycho stalker.

6. Angels' Blood, by Nalini Singh. Overrated. The balance of power between Elena and her Archangel didn’t work for me, nor did the tease on the backstory. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting line for Branded by Fire, but I’m not loving the Angels.

7. Blue-Eyed Devil, by Lisa Kleypas. I’m a Kleypas fan. And a contemp fan. And I liked this book a lot. I kind of don’t get the collective swooning going on about it, but it’s absolutely a top-notch romance. Maybe it’s because I don’t get the Texas love. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just not particularly my thing, y'all.

8. The Iron Hunt, by Marjorie Liu. Mixed bag. At times overwritten and overwrought, but eventually settled down into a good pace and a good story and now I can’t wait for Darkness Calls, due out in July.

9. Scandal , by Carolyn Jewel. Quiet, dark. A bit slow in places, but intense. Rare. Liked it very much.

10. Tempt the Devil, by Anna Campbell. Campbell’s signature dark story, with characters who push the envelope of likeability. I liked it, though perhaps not quite as much as Claiming the Courtesan.

11. Confessions of a Little Black Gown, by Elizabeth Boyle. I wanted to like this one more than I did. One of the nice things about historical romance is the sense that some things are constant, no matter the era, and what woman can’t relate to the perfect little black dress, and the possibilities it might enable? And I liked the idea that Tally could sense the true nature of the hero, even hidden in his bumbling disguise. It reminded me a little of the cross-dressing trope when the hero is discomfited to find himself attracted to what is apparently a young man. All in all though, CoaLBG didn’t quite live up to its potential for me; it seemed like the characters spent too much time chasing their tails. Also: there’s a scene where they’re making love in the grass… the hero removes her hairpins and “the soft plunk as they landed in the grass sounded like the tumblers of a lock clicking open, freeing her.” All I could think was, “Really? What the HELL kind of grass is THAT?"

12. To the Brink, by Cindy Gerard. Third in a series, but stands alone just fine (and I know, because I haven’t read the others yet.) Fast-paced, straightforward, great characters. The flashbacks worked—and I’m picky about those. Gerard does a nice job of portraying how a modern soldier and master at dealing with human devils, might manage the trickier emotional ones.

13. Just the Sexiest Man Alive, by Julie James. This one was a close call for me. I ended up liking it OK, but the arrogant-movie-star-hero skirted really, really close to the “just too much of an asshole” line. The fabulous dialogue makes up for a lot of character sin, though.

Total Romance Vagabond Cliche Score: approximately 800. Seriously, the ladyback and cut off heads are out of control.


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Venus Vaughn said...

Santa Olivia, yay!

Okay, the Blue-Eyed Devil thing... I am NOT a Texas lover. I did three years there and was happy to escape. So that wasn't a swaying factor foe me - and I still LOVED B-eD.

In fact, it was so enjoyable that I re-read it AS I was reading it. Like, I'd read it, have to put it down for "life" or something, and then when I picked it back up, I'd remember enjoying the last scene so much that I'd read it again before I moved forward.

I think it was a combination of a good plot and a really well-written story. More the writing than anything else.

Chris said...

I'm flattered! And I just went to my library's website and reserved multiple things from your list! :)

Have you read Practice Makes Perfect by Julia James? I liked that better than Just the Sexiest Man Alive.

FD said...

@ Chris - that's hilarious, I was about to say the same thing, only in reverse!

I've found that Christine Warren is hit or miss with me, with the vampire books being the misses.

I enjoyed Blue Eyed Devil, but didn't find it that memorable.

Angel's Blood. Interesting take on the mythology, but the bones of the book needed covering better, y'know?

Janet said...

great reviews!

threesidesofcrazy said...

Love the reviews and the list of new books to read! Have a great weekend.

Shelley Munro said...

Nicola - I have quite a few of these books on my to-read pile. My lofty aim at the start of the year to get through these books isn't working as well as I hoped!

I do really enjoy Kristin Higgins, and after reading the first one, I went looking for her backlist. Her small town characters are charming.

Unknown said...

Great reviews. Loved this excerpt

Celticlibrarian said...

No matter how many books I read, there are always more.



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