Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I Read Last Month

October was a fantastic reading month for me. I read nine books, but two were novellas so as for quantity it was pretty average, but the quality was really noteworthy. I thoroughly enjoyed every book I read which made me remember why I gave up giving ratings or grades for books for a while. How in the world do you delineate between excellent, fantastic and wonderful?

Here's a look at what I read:

Romance ........... 4
Young Adult ...... 2
Mystery ............ 1
Urban fantasy .....1
Graphic Novel .... 1 [non-fiction biography]

Of the romance novels read, two were contemporary and two were historical.

1. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey, Book #3
I really enjoy this young adult series. It's a contemporary teenage story blended with a classic faerie-style story influenced by Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, mixed together with adventure and romance, all made even more complicated by the advance of modern technology. The story and characters are great, but I've developed a little hang-up over the romance. While I understand the attraction between Meghan and Ash, I feel like I missed the part where their attraction and interest in each other turned to a deep and devoted love. The Iron Queen is a fast paced, exciting romantic adventure.

2. Something About You by Julie James
FBI, Book #1
A contemporary romance that's heavily entwined with a suspenseful murder mystery. The romance is between Cameron Lynde, a confident, successful female Assistant U.S. Attorney and Jack Pallas, FBI Special Agent. These two crossed paths several years before on a case that ended controversially and put a huge professional and personal rift between them, even though they work for the same side of the law. They're once again work together in this book, although very reluctantly, and through the course of the story are able to correct misunderstandings from the past, solve a murder and of course, fall in love.

3. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
Harper Connelly Mystery, Book #4 
I debated between a four and five star rating for this book, finally deciding on five because it turned out to my favorite book of the series--a series that I started just a few months ago and found myself reading all four books in such a short time, which says a lot about the author's ability to capture my attention and keep me interested in more. This story had all the mystery, drama, sadness that I've come to love from this series and it also provided the kind of closure for Harper and Tolliver that they deserved, however, not before some very shocking revelations that I admit brought tears to my eyes. I honestly hadn't realized how important it became for me as the reader to know what had happened to Harper's sister Cameron who went missing eight years ago. While the ending isn't the sweet kind of happy ever after of 'feel good' or romance novel--it's almost bittersweet, but definitely the kind of realistic, positive ending that should leave most readers content, as it certainly left me.

4. When Beauty Tamed The Beast by Eloisa James
A charming version of a Beauty and the Beast type tale. The dialogue in this novel is very entertaining and really brings the characters to life. In addition, the unique setting adds interest and depth to the story. Most of the story takes place at the Earl of Marchant's castle in Wales which he has set up as a pseudo-hospital where the Earl, his cousin and a small handful of promising doctors-in-training strive to provide alternative health care to patients which is in fact the correct direction medicine needs take during this time period to save lives and prevent infections. This aspect of the story was extremely fascinating and the author effectively tied this to the romance plot as well. There is also a charming secondary romance plot featuring the Earl's mother and father that was a very sweet touch to the book.

I found the dialogue intelligent and witty, but I have to admit there were a few instances toward the beginning of the book when I felt pulled out of the story because a line or two of the dialogue all of a sudden sounded contrived or cliche. Maybe it was just my unfamiliarity with the language of the time period. Also, I expected the Earl to be more beast-like in looks and mannerisms and aside from being extremely direct and rather unorthodox in his medical practices, he was otherwise normal enough and according to Miss Linnet, very attractive.

5. Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography 
by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón
Don't underestimate the power of this book on the merits that it is a graphic novel. While this book will be shelved in the young adult section of most libraries, I highly recommend it to readers of all ages and backgrounds. Many people are familiar with the story of Anne Frank and her family through her world renowned diary, and this graphic novel makes the perfect supplement, expanding on Anne's story with accurate historical facts.

This book delivers a serious historical and emotional punch as it provides detailed insight into the frightening and horrific time for thousands and thousands of innocent people who suffered unnecessary and intolerable injustices and deaths leading up to and including the years of The Holocaust. What an awful, heartbreaking time this was in the history of our world.

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last summer and was profoundly moved as I toured the Secret Annex and learned about the life and plight of Anne Frank and her family. Again, reading this biographical novel added new layers of knowledge and emotion to my trip to Amsterdam that I won't likely ever forget.

6. I Love The Earl by Caroline Linden
The Truth About the Duke, prequel
I Love the Earl is a prequel novella to Ms. Linden's newest historical romance trilogy, The Truth About the Duke, the first book of which is titled One Night In London, just released in September 2011. I Love the Earl takes place several decades before One Night In London and tells the love story of Margaret de Lacey and Rhys Corwen, the Earl of Dowling. Margaret is an untitled spinster of mediocore means who suddenly becomes a worthy catch when her brother suddenly inherits a dukedom and offers a generous dowery on her behalf. She catches the attention of numerous fortune hunters, and in his attempts to win her favor, the desperate Welsh Earl, Rhys Corwen actually falls in love with her.

I really loved this novella. It's greatest shortcoming is that it isn't a full length novel. The premise of the story is simple, but the characters are interesting, their dialogue genuine and entertaining and the romance just charming.

7. Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh
Guild Hunters, Book #2

Review to come...

8. Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins
Read my review HERE.

9. Summer's Crossing by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey, Book #3.5
***CAUTION: Possible spoilers from previous books***
This Iron Fey novella takes place immediately after events of The Iron Queen and before The Iron Knight. Puck and Ash are about to seek out Grimalkin for help getting them into the Iron Realm where Meghan is. Only before they go, Leanansidhe shows up and calls in the favor Ash owes her, sending Ash and Puck into the Summer Court to retrieve an item that was stolen from her. While Puck is not exactly a welcomed sight in the Summer Court since defying King Oberon, he still remains loyal to his homeland. Ash, however, is literally putting his life on the line by entering enemy territory, presenting Puck with the opportunity to eliminate his biggest rival once and for all. Puck's loyalty and renowned prankster skills are truly tested in this story.

Summer's Crossing is told from Puck's point of view and offers a delightful look into his charming, mischievous, warm-hearted and loyal heart. The tension between Puck and Ash and the dynamics of their is pretty high without Meghan around to temper them both, but there's also this subtle vibe between these two that gives the reader hope that they'll one day reconcile to the best friends they used to be long ago. Highly recommended to anyone who reads the series!
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My favorite books this month were Archangels' Kiss by Nalini Singh and Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins. The novella, I Love The Earl by Caroline Linden was very, very good. I'm very optimistic about One Night in London and am looking forward to reading it!

What was the best book you read last month?  


  1. Wow, looks like another great reading month for you. Maybe I really do need to check out the Harper Connelly Series by Charlaine Harris...I also can't wait to read the Iron Fey Series and I know that book 1 will be read in the next couple of months thanks to you. :-) *reminder to self, there are novellas for the series*. :-) Ever since I've learned about novellas that authors use to supplement their readers between book releases I have vowed to read them while catching up with a series.

  2. Great month. October was a great month for me. I'll my end of the month report up tomorrow.

  3. Hey Deanna! I hope you enjoy the Iron Fey series, too. There are two novella's. Winter's Passage and Summer's Crossing and they're only available in ebook format. I suggest you download Summer's Crossing now while it's free. I think you can skip Winter's Passage--most of it is repeated in the book that follows anyway. Thanks for visiting. :)

  4. Hi Linda! I can't wait to see your list and get some ideas for my TBR pile! ; )

  5. Was this your first time reading Julie James?! You need to read Practice Makes Perfect, it’s nothing like this one, it’s heavier on the comedy aspect and there’s no suspense to it. The leads are lawyers competing for a promotion and they try to sabotage each other, it’s just hilarious!

    I need to read Eloisa James’ book, I Beauty and the Beast type of stories, that’s probably one of my favorite tropes in romance. And I haven’t read a good historical in a while, so this one might break the curse!

  6. Looks like some fabulous books! Happy to hear you had a great reading month.

  7. I have the Eloisa James one in my reading dock, I thought it sounded good though I'm no big fan of James' books.

    and Something About you I think it's my least favorite of Julie James's books so far, I liked the following one (A Lot Like Love) loads better.


  8. Fantastic reading month Christine! I have tried and tried to read Julie James' books. I know so many people who love them, but...I just can't relate to her heroines. (Which I'd like to say says way more about me that about the heroines :)

    And I Love The Earl has me curious. I love reading about Wales (and Ireland)! Luckily my library has it, so YAH!

    Happy reading for November :)

  9. Indeed a great month, Christine :) Awesome month actually :) So glad you enjoyed all the books you read - that is soooo rare!

    I really liked Archangel's Kiss. So far, it is still my favorite in that series.

    I resisted to the Eloisa James for so long... and shouldn't have :) I loved the banter between the H/H!! Like you say, it was intelligent and witty :)

    And of course, the Kristan Higgins :)

  10. It sounds like you had a really great month of reading in October!! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed Grave Secret as much as I did...I was bummed when I heard that there were no more books coming out. I hope that November is just as good of a reading month for you!

  11. Hi Brie,
    This was not my first Julie James book. I read Practice Makes Perfect a few years ago and thought it was great. So funny the way those two were fighting all the time.

    I think Eloisa James' How Beauty Tamed the Beast would be a great book to spark your historical romance reading again. Or Silk is For Seduction by Loretta Chase. That was a great one, too.

    Brandy, I hope November brings just as many A grades as October! Hope you're reading some great books too!

    Alex, a lot of readers seem to adore this Eloisa James book, so maybe give it a try. It's my first book by her, so I really can't give you a comparison. Ooo! I have a signed copy of A Lot Like Love on my TBR shelf [from RWA in July}. I will bump it up!

    orannia, Definitely borrow I Love the Earl from the library, although there isn't a whole lot of emphasis on Wales, so don't be too disappointed. The novella is really well written, which I think must be so difficult to do with such limited word count. Linden did a great job with it.

    nath, I started reading Archangel's Consort, but had to put it down for a bit and focus on the library books that are due back with no more renewals!

    I'm so happy we agreed on the Higgins book. You're a tougher critic than I. ; )

    samantha, I just had to give Grave Secret five stars on goodreads. It really was a great final story in the series. Couldn't really think of anything negative about it at all and know it ended best for Harper. Have you read Harris' Aurora Teagarden series?


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