Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What I Read Last Month

June 2011

Finally getting this post up. I think I've been working on it in bits and pieces for a week now--no exaggeration, lots of distractions.

June currently holds rank as my most productive reading month so far at 11 books. It was a good month in quality, too. I caught up on Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series in time for the release of the much anticipated ninth book in the series, Kiss of Snow, which was SO good, by the way. Another star mention goes to The Grefriar by Clay and Susan Griffith, which is a steampunk fantasy novel that was such a pleasant surprise.

The break down of the genres I read:

Graphic novel .......... 3
General fiction ......... 1
Romance ................ 5
Steampunk ............. 1
Urban Fantasy.......... 1

I'm listing the books below in the order in which I read them. I've been pretty good about writing up small reviews on goodreads lately, so for some of my comments below, I simply cut and pasted from there to here.

1. War for The Oaks by Emma Bull [1986]

I read this book for the Women of Fantasy 2011 Book Club. It is an urban fantasy novel first published in 1986. The ten second plot summary: The unassuming human girl gets pulled into the dark world of the fae with an important role in the impending war between the dark and light Seelie Courts. She's also an aspiring rock musician, the subplot of which was woven very well into the main plot. If you like urban fantasy set in the dark world of the fae, rock music, or the 80s, this book would be right up your alley.

2. The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith [2010]

I read this steampunk fantasy novel after reading a positive review for it by Leslie that you can read HERE. I ended up loving this book way more than I expected and I cannot wait for the sequel that comes out later this year. REVIEW TO COME!

3. Burnout by Rebecca Donner, ill. Inaki Miranda [2008]
[not pictured]
This is a young adult contemporary graphic novel about a teenage girl who is being raised by her single mom in the pacific northwest and they move in with the mom's boyfriend and his teenage son. It delves into coming of age issues, the tragedies of dysfunctional families and eco-terrorism, but unfortunately just skims the surface of all of these challenging topics without any lessons to be learned by the reader. It's quite a tragic story, actually.

4. Harvey by Hervé Bouchard, ill. Janice Nadeau [2010]

I picked up this book while browsing the young adult graphic novel section at my library, expecting something profound based on the numerous literary awards it has received, but found the unexpected abruptness of the ending unsatisfying and quite frankly a bit depressing for a children's book. The artwork is simplistic but dramatic and portrays the melancholy tone of the story very well.

This book is about a young boy named Harvey whose father dies suddenly from a heart attack, how he perceives and tries to understand his father's death, what happens at a funeral and how all of this makes him feel. The story certainly captures the foreignness and uncertainties that a child likely experiences upon the death of a parent or loved one, but the ending is so abrupt and open ended that I think many children are likely to feel as puzzled as I over how Harvey really felt and what was going to happen to him next. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as it sets the stage for discussion between a parent or guardian and child if they read the book together, but I do think most children reading this book alone would be lost by the ending.

5. Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh [2010] GRADE: B+
6. Play of Passion by Nalini Singh [2010] GRADE: A-
7. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh [2011] GRADE: A
[books not pictured]
Clearly, I love this series. If you haven't read this one yet, it's not too late to start. The series has an excellent, sophisticated series story arc set in the future with a complex society made up of humans, changelings and psy, the latter of whom have varying degrees of psychic abilities and rely on feedback between their race in an abstract psychic network. The tension between the races has building up since before the first book and now at book nine, the races are at the cusp of war and everything the author has developed in her world building is coming together seamlessly. Not to mention the fact that each book is also a realistic and satisfying romance, too.

8. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen [2011]

Not my favorite book by this author--that would be Garden Spells, but still an interesting and enjoyable story nonetheless, told in the author's signature style of incorporating magical realism in stories full of family, friendship, tradition and values and a touch of romance.

9. A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld [2009]

Josh Neufeld is an artist and writer who wrote this non fiction graphic novel, documenting the horrific effects of Hurricane Katrina on six different New Orleanians who survived the storm. The novel follows events in these people's lives from hours prior to the storm through the difficult aftermath. The stories are frightening and startling in their revelations to what people actually experienced--not just the catastrophic destruction of property, but also the disturbing truths of how the survivors suffered while waiting for assistance and most importantly, how they forged on with their lives.

10. Burning Up by Knight, Singh, Kantra, Brook [2010]
[not pictured]
This is a paranormal romance anthology by authors Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra and Meljean Brook. The quality of the stories in this anthology varied to two extremes for me. Nalini Singh's novella was very good, and Meljean Brook's was excellent. The other two weren't anywhere near as fully developed character or plot-wise and the romances felt quite contrived.

"Whisper of Sin" by Nalini Singh 4.5/5 stars
Psy-Changelng series, Book #1.5

"Blood and Roses" by Angela Knight 2.5/5 stars

"Shifting Sea" by Virginia Kantra 3/5 stars
Children of the Sea series, Book #3.5

"Here There Be Monsters" by Meljean Brook 5/5 stars
Iron Seas novels, prequel
My absolute favorite novella in this anthology. Impeccable, fascinating world building in Brook's new steampunk Iron Seas series. Clever plot, diverse characters and a believable and memorable romance that the characters had to fight for. Now I'm looking forward more than ever to read the first full length novel in this series, The Iron Duke--already out in paper book and ebook formats.

Average Grade for Burning Up as a whole: 3.75 out of 5 stars

11. Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian [2010]

This is the seventh book in the paranormal romance Midnight Breeds series by Lara Adrian. It had been a while since I read a book in this series, but decided to catch up since I had this and book eight on my shelf and knowing I was going to have the opportunity to meet Lara at the RWA lit signing and purchase a signed copy of the ninth book in the series, Deeper Than Midnight, which was coincidentally released that very day.

Shades of Midnight takes place in the cold, snowy wilderness of a remote town in Alaska when the warrior Kade is sent there from the Order's home base in Boston to investigate several brutal murders that suggest something inhuman is on the loose. Alexandra Maguire is a bush pilot in this remote area and is the one who discovers the bodies of a an entire family brutally attacked by something very 'other' and disturbingly very similar to an attack she witnessed as a young child many years ago that she has always tried to forget. Alex is at first very suspicious of Kade, but as she begins to trust him, a bond grows between them and they fall in love despite their efforts not to! This book is an exciting, action-packed installment to the series and propels the overall series arc into a new direction that will keep you on the edge of your seat in suspense for the next book.

Here's hoping the books I pick up in July are just as great!  : )

What are you reading right now? 


  1. War For The Oaks sounds interesting. I'll check it out.
    I'm finishing up Soulless tonight.

  2. No J.D. Robb book this month?

    I'm reading Let's Play Dead by Sheila Connolly.

  3. Seriously? You skipped your In Death installment? I have been. The one that gives me nightmares is coming up and I need to wait until hubby will be home for a couple of weeks before I go there...

  4. Great reading month, Christine.

    I totally agree with you on the Nalini Singh books (surprise!), and on the Burning Up anthology. Brook's short story was the star there, although I also highly enjoyed Singh's novella.

    I STILL haven't been able to get back to War for the Oaks! June was just a bad reading month for me all around, but I hope to get back to it before too long. :)

  5. You always read so many different books across the board :)

    I'm going to check out some of these (Like the Peach Keeper, I kind of can't resist that pretty cover :P)

  6. Looks like a good reading month with good books! I'm reading the latest Heather Graham book, or trying to at least. I keep putting it down. ;(

    Hope you're having a nice day!

  7. Wow, 11 books in one month...I'm so jealous. LOL. I really am lucky to get in more than 4. :-( Some of these books are on my TBR list already but some of them look like they need to be!

    Right now I'm reading the 3 book for my Christmas in July posts. I'm reading There Goes Santa Claus, it's a mystery by Nancy Mehl.

  8. Great reading month, Christine! Now, I need to get The Greyfriar. I saw Leslie's review and was intrigued... but now, you getting behind it makes it an imperative.

  9. Linda... Did you like Soulless? I've always been curious about that steampunk fantasy series, but not quite enough to pick it up.

    Dru... No J.D. Robb book this month. I got the itch to catch up on some PNR instead. Although I did bring Divided In Death with me to the beach last weekend and started it. I'll definitely be reading that one this month. Hope you're enjoying your book! :)

    Gina... LOL! Yeah.. I've been a bit of a slacker in my own challenge. It seems I've fallen into the pattern of reading an ID book every other month. I hope you get to one this month, too... without nightmares!

    Hils... You read The Iron Duke already, right? I think I was with you when you bought it. ;)
    I need to pick that one up soon. AND catch up in Brook's Guardian series. I'm so behind in that one!!! Grrr!

    Alex... I'm really enjoying reading from around the board. But romance is definitely my go-to. Let me know if you get to The Peach Keeper. It's only out in hardcover, though. Do you think your library would get it? Do they get a lot of American books? Please forgive my ignorance on the subject of foreign libraries! I've never given them much thought before.

    Brandy... Is the Graham book not keeping your interest? Or are you just busy and or distracted. That happens to me sometimes and I have to pick up something different to suit my lifestyle at the moment. If that makes sense?

    Deanna... I don't blog or tweet as much as you do, so there's time saved for me to read instead. LOL! I love your enthusiasm for Christmas in July! :)

    nath... yes, it is imperative that you read The Greyfriar! :D

  10. I'm adding War For the Oaks and The Greyfriar to my wishlist right now! Sounds like you had a great month of reading in June :)

  11. The Graham book is okay. It's just that the last couple I've read by her have been 'Meh'. I remember when I couldn't wait to pick up one of her books for the chills. But, now I prefer her newest Historical Vampire series and am REALLY wishing she'd write another book in the same setting as Dust to Dust. I finally gave up for now and am rereading Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff. LOVE this series. *g*

  12. Wow - you've got a good mix in there. And you read The Greyfriar and really liked it! So happy you did. :)

    Agree too about Meljean Brook's novella. Very good, just wish the heroine in it was the heroine in The Iron Duke (which I still have to read).

  13. Ohhh, great month! I'm currently reading a book set in Japan and abou the yakuza! It's good :)

    Oh, and after meeting Nalini earlier this week Bonds of Justice is next! *grin*


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