Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I Read in July AND August

This is the first year I've posting a monthly column summarizing what I read the previous month--sort of a way to get some thoughts out there on the books I'm reading since I'm not very consistent about posting reviews. You'd think it would be easy enough to get up a post listing the books you read with a few lines of commentary, but it's even easier to fall behind in even this so simple of a task. Sheesh! Without further ado... before September is another month in the past... my monthly reads from July and August.
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July 2011

Total books read: 9

Crime fiction ..... 1
Mystery ............ 1
General fiction ... 1
Memoir ............. 1
Romance .......... 5

Of the romance novels read, two were paranormal and three were historical.

Here's a list of what I read way back in July and some brief thoughts.

1. Three Wishes by Goldberg, Jones and Ferdinand [2010]
This book was chosen for the letter G for the Authors by the Alphabet online book club for June. You can read my review and find links other reviews and the book club discussion in my post HERE. Three Wishes is a memoir about three single friends and their quest to have a child by sperm donor. GRADE: B

2. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon [2011]
This is one book for which I wished I wrote a review. It is a realistic, eye opening and at times difficult and heart wrenching story to read, but it was such a great story. I cried several times reading this story--most times because my heart was aching. But by the last chapter, I cried tears of joy and closed the book with such satisfaction of having read such an amazing story with such beautiful, beautiful ending. I highly recommend it. GRADE: A+

3. Taken by Midnight by Lara Adrian [2010]
Midnight Breed, Book 8

4. Deeper Than Midnight by Lara Adrian [2011]
Midnight Breed, Book 9
I hadn't read this series in a year or two and am so glad I got back on track and caught up. I was worried the series was starting to lose some of its spark with books 5 and 6, so I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed the last three books. Threads from all the past story arcs are coming together cohesively and the series arc denouement is starting to take shape. I'm anxiously waiting for the next book!

5. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran [2011]
This is the latest release from one of my favorite historical romance authors, Meredith Duran. I thoroughly enjoy her intelligent writing, unique plots and interesting characters. This one is a sort of missing heiress story that was such a joy to read. GRADE: A-

6. Divided In Death by J.D. Robb [2004]
In Death series, Book 18
What can I possibly say about the In Death books that haven't been said already? The crime fiction is consistent as is the character development. This book brought some new stress to Eve and Roarke's relationship when some startling information about Eve's tragic and abusive childhood is brought to their attention. Eve wants to let things be and keep it to herself, whereas of course Roarke wants to make those responsible pay for what was done to Eve. The crime plot in this one is also personally stressful for Eve and Roarke because it is Roarke's employee--and his secretary's daughter who is under suspicion for a double murder. GRADE: B

7. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris [2005]
Harper Connelly Mystery, Book 1
This was the July book for the letter H for the Authors by the Alphabet online book club and my choice. I was pleased with the book and so were the other members of the club. Everyone is continuing with the rest of the series! You can read my review of Grave Sight HERE and our book club discussion for the book HERE. GRADE: B

8. The Bride by Julie Garwood [1996]

9. The Wedding by Julie Garwood [1997]
I read these two medieval romances back to back per the recommendation of Hilcia and Mariana--one of whom gave me the books. I think it was Mariana? Thank you both, in any case because these were such fun books to read. Although the plots were very similar, I couldn't help but adore the couples and the amusing and sweet and romantic and sometimes very serious conversations and situations they got into.

My favorite read of this month definitely goes to The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon followed by tie for second between A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran and The Bride by Julie Garwood.
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August 2011

I read seven books in August--six full length novels and one novella, which I'm actually pretty happy about since August was so busy with a two week vacation, triathlon training and a very disruptive hurricane.

Crime fiction ...1
Mystery ......... 1
Contemporary fiction ... 1
Romance ....... 4
[2 historical, 1 contemporary and 1 paranormal]

1. Silk is For Seduction by Loretta Chase [2011]
The Dressmakers, Book 1
Shortly before leaving for vacation to Europe, I read at least two stellar reviews for this new release--one from Hilcia and one from Karen Knows Best. Seeing that it had French influences and even partially took place in Paris, I decided it would be an great choice for downloading to my iPad and reading while I was in Paris. It couldn't have been a better choice! I adored the characters--particularly the female lead, Marcelline and her dressmaker livlihood; and the story line was just so much fun. GRADE: A

2. Visions In Death by J.D. Robb [2004]
In Death series, Book 19
This was the second book I read on my vacation, which I read while in Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich. The In Death books are great to bring along on trips because you can read it at your own pace and the story never loses momentum. In this installment, Eve and her team are investigating a serial murderer who is targeting women of a specific profile, removing the victims' eyes and displaying her naked with a red ribbon tied to her. Eve stretches the limits of her detective comfort zone and accepts assistance from a psychic. This was an interesting case with a surprise twist that I didn't foresee. It's good to know I can get surprised by the author at book twenty something in the series. GRADE: B+

3. A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare [2011]
Spindle Cove, Book 1
While packing for vacation, I grabbed this book at the last minute and tucked it into a pocket of my suitcase, an ARC of A Night to Surrender that Ms. Dare so graciously gave me at RWA. I read this book in Geneva, flying over the Atlantic Ocean and for a few hours here in the US. A Night to Surrender is a well written, fun and very sweet historical romance about a village of misfit women who get mixed up with a troupe of soldiers intent on re-establishing their importance in the war by demonstrating their competence to the Royal Crown by establishing a formidable militia in Spindle's Cove. Everyone in the village gets way more than they bargained for-- Susanna Finch and Lt. Bramwell most of all as they fall in love.

I enjoyed this book without a doubt. It was fun, sweet and romantic but since I was head over heels for Ms. Dare's first trilogy, I have to confess that A Night to Surrender didn't quite hold the same sweeping, dramatic, poetic and romantic feel for me as her previous books. Yet, I'm certainly interested in reading the next book in the Spindle Cove series, which I hope is the Bram's nephew's story, because seeing him fall helplessly in love with one woman is entertaining in idea alone. I can only imagine how adventurous the whole story put in motion would be! GRADE: B+

4. Everything Changes by Megan Hart [2010]
This novella is essentially Alex Kennedy's point of view of what happened in Hart's earlier full length novel, Tempted, in which Alex Kennedy had an intense affair so to speak with his lifelong best friend James Kinney and James' wife Anne. That's a very simplistic explanation of what happened between Alex, James and Anne as any story written by Megan Hart is far from simple. I highly recommend you read Tempted, but if you don't and want to read Naked, you should read Everything Changes for a good background to Alex's story. GRADE: B

5. Naked by Megan Hart [2010]
Megan Hart doesn't just write romance-- she writes love stories. And some of the most complicated and compelling modern love stories at that.

Told from the first person point of view of Olivia Mackey, Naked is about Oliva's search to figure out who she truly is as well as the love story of Olivia and Alex Kennedy. The book portrays realistic personal drama of and between characters in areas of which most of us can identify in one way or another whether it be personal struggles with our religion, race, adoption stories, dysfunctional families, identity crisis, sexual orientation and so on. That's a lot of topics, right? If anyone can touch on all of these subjects in a single story, Megan Hart can. In fact, she unabashedly addresses the complexity of all of these issues in ways we can all relate to and with which we can easily empathize. I adored both Olivia and Alex and was glued to their story until the very last page, completely satisfied with the outcome. Absolutely loved this book--it was well worth the wait, which has been over three years since having read Tempted by Megan Hart in early 2008 in which Alex Kennedy is first introduced. GRADE: A+

6. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison [2011]
The Elder Races, Book 1
Such a fun, sassy and sexy paranormal romance. A great heroine, super fun plot lines and interesting secondary characters. Of course, a sweet romance, too! I gave this five stars on goodreads. GRADE: A-

7. Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris [2006]
Harper Connelly Mystery, Book 2
My instinct was right about who the killer was in this one, but it was still enjoyable to watch it all come together in the story. Sometimes I felt there were too many secondary characters and their inter relationships to keep track of--namely the families who were caught up in the murder mystery plot, but it ended up being okay in the end.

I really like Harper Connelly. She's straightforward and unapologetic about who she is, where she came from and what she does. I empathize with her sad childhood, her current lonely lifestyle and the way she longs for simply normalcy like having a humble home to tend to. I hope she finds the happiness and contentment she deserves.

August was a great reading month for me. I liked every book I read immensely, so choosing a favorite isn't so easy. However, two books truly stand out. Naked by Megan Hart and Silk is For Seduction by Loretta Chase.

Phew! Until next month...  happy reading!


  1. I still need to read Silk is for Seduction, I so want to read it!!

    Looks like August was a great month for you. :D I'm glad
    And July wasn't too shabby either! :D

  2. You're doing a great job with your reading! I hope your September list makes you just as happy. *g*

  3. I loved A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran. I would still love to hear your thoughts on The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Don't know if I want to be sobbing though. Want to read happy stuff. ;)

  4. Ohhh, lots of great reading lately. Flying is great for reading, yes :) I need to read Dragon Bound at some point...and so many others *grin*

  5. Alex:: I think you'll really like Silk is For Seduction. I can't wait for the next one in this series.

    I had a nice summer of reading. Just hoping I can keep up this pace during the hectic fall season. I really want to finally reach my goal of reading 100 books in a year. It's going to be close!

    Brandy:: Can you believe September is more than half over?!

    little_alys:: I should really write a review for The Story of Beautiful Girl. It was a very insightful book and there were definitely a lot of sad parts. I didn't cry the whole way through, but it did tug at my heart very often. And the ending was PERFECT! Those tears were tears of joy. : )

    orannia:: Flying is finally great for reading now that I don't have to entertain or talk to my youngest for the whole flight! LOL!

  6. Hey Christine! I'm finally trying to catch up on everyone's blogs, this semester has just been crazy!

    You've had some awesome reads the past few months and I hope this month is going well for you in that category! You're library loot this past time is awesome! I really need to read the Iron Fey series.

    You rocked it on your first triathlon!!!!!! Congratulations. :-)

    Your trip to Europe looks like it was a blast. What an awesome experience for your kids! It makes me want to go back right NOW!!!!!!!!!! :-D

  7. I really liked The Story of Beautiful Girl. I will admit that writing the review made me see it in a different light. Reading it, I found it very sad and somber. Writing the review, I found the positive theme and messages. It definitely changed how I think of the book now. My review

  8. I think you had a great reading summer!! :)

    So glad you enjoyed Silk is for Seduction :) and yeah, reading it in Paris? Lucky you!! :)

    You're also getting ahead in series :) That's good :) Glad the In Death series is still going strong for you :)

    You enjoyed the Tessa Dare and Dragon Bound both more than I did LOL.

  9. There is this book called Dragon Bound by Carl Miller (I think, I'm too lazy to check) that I read so many times in high school that I started to dream about it. It did have a romance in it, but I'm pretty sure it was otherwise completely different from this one.

  10. Julie Garwood’s hitoricals are among my favorite, she was one of the first romance authors I discovered and a huge reason why I’m such a big fan of the genre, The Bride was the first one I read actually, so your post brought back memory and now I’m feeling nostalgic. Have you read more by her? My favorite is Honor’s Splendour, but I basically love them all.

    Megan Hart is another of my favorite authors, her romances are far from pretty but quite real. Have you read Broken? That book is so good!

    I need to read Rachel Simon’s book, your little review made me curious, I’m adding it to my TBR pile.

  11. I just realized I never responded to a few comments on this post. Sorry!!

    Deanna:: Thanks for the tri congrats! I'm planning to do another one next summer. July and or August. We'll see.

    Sarah :: I read your review and agree that The Story of Beautiful Girl is rather sad and weighty, but I think I always felt hopeful for Lynnie, Homan and Martha throughout the story. I guess I maintained optimism that they would find fulfillment in the path their lives were taking one way or another. That there had to be a positive message at the end and I felt so rewarded with that ending.

    nath :: I DID do some major series catching up lately. It feels good to close some of those chapters.

    Lisa :: Definitely a different Dragon Bound! ;)

    Brie :: The Bride and The Wedding are my only Julie Garwood novels so far but I've recently added Honor's Splendour to my list! I noticed everyone loves that one!

    I love Megan Hart's writing, too... she's really one of the most unique romance writers I've read. I have not read Broken, Dirty or Deeper, but do own them!

    Let me know if you end up reading The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Just to clarify, it is not a romance. But there's definitely a lot of love inside. Tragedy, too... but definitely love.


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