Monday, June 30, 2008

My June Reading

Since I haven't been managing to write any reviews, I thought I'd try to post a few comments on each book I read here, so this post may get long as I actually had a good reading month this time. I did have to move to "easier" books than the ones I've been trying to read lately due to my health, but I guess that's life and there's not a lot I can do about it but go with the flow.

(The order of these may be a bit off as my Library Thing glitched up and lost the finish dates for a number of books, leaving me totally confused. It really only matters to me, since I like having a correct record, but I thought I'd point it out.)

June reading:
Books read this month = 14
DNFs this month = 3
10/10 reads this month = 2
New reads this month = 10
Rereads this month = 4

  1. Demon Moon - Meljean Brook
    Guardians, Book 4; Paranormal Romance; 9/10
    I read Brook's first Guardians books a while back and while I really liked them while reading them, afterwards I found myself ambivalent about continuing the series. This book got very good reviews around the blogsphere and so did the next one, Demon Night, so I bought a copy of this one and put it on the TBR. I'm very glad I did as this is a wonderful book. I found Brook's world-building easier to follow this time and while I remembered next to nothing about the previous book, she dropped enough hints for me to pick up all the important points that were needed for this one. She still tended to leave some things kind of obscure, I suppose assuming the reader could figure it out. Some of the time I could, but other times I couldn't. The characters were all wonderful - it was lovely to see Hugh, Lillith and Sir Pup again. I loved the heroine, Savi and just adored the hero, Colin, despite (or perhaps because of) his many faults. Brook left me worrying right till the end that they wouldn't get their happy ending - quite a feat in for a book written in a genre where a HEA is pretty much guaranteed. A great book and the next one is now on the TBR.

  2. One Foot in the Grave - Jeaniene Frost
    Night Huntress, Book 2; Urban Fantasy; 8/10
    This was a fun read. Set four years after Halfway to the Grave, Cat is now on her own running a government team taking out vampires, but she soon finds herself reunited with Bones and has to reassess what she wants her relationship with him to be. She's a bit more grown up here, which made for an easier story (less whining) and Bones was still a great character. All the same, Cat still made some stupid choices and she deserves to be where she is at the end of the book (not a bad place to be, but one she didn't have time to think about whether or not she really wanted). I enjoyed it and plan to keep reading the series.

  3. The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After - Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer
    Kate and Cecy, Book 3; YA Fantasty; 7/10
    Another light, fun read. I still think the first of these "books in letters", The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, was the best, but this was very enjoyable. What I found most interesting was the characters' reactions to the advent of the steam train. Trains being something that are so part of the landscape (especially if you have a four year old son and constantly need to call out, "Look Marcus, a train!") I found the reaction of them as a fad that wasn't going to catch on to be amusing. While not the strongest of stories, it was a lovely read and it was nice to see Kate and Cecy coping with being parents.

  4. Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs
    Temperence Brennan, Book 5; Crime; 7/10
    Strange as it more sound for books about forensic anthropology, Kathy Reichs is my palate-cleanser author. I read her when I need to break from everything else, enjoy the books and can usually read them in a day or two. So I always have the next one on hand ready for when I might want it. This was a bit of a change as it did indeed deal with historial forensic anthropology as well as a modern crime, and the Guatemalan setting was a change from Canada and the US. I particularly like - and I hope this doesn't count as a spoiler - that for a change from many authors, Reichs didn't tie up all her different strands into one single solution, pretty bow included. Instead it was messier, more like real life. I continue to enjoy the series and will read the next one when I again want a break from other books.

  5. Magic Bites - Ilona Andrews
    Kate Daniels, Book 1; Urban Fantasy; DNF
    I'd heard good things about this book, and better ones about its sequel, but I'm one of those people who has to read a series in order, so I started with this one. I got about a third of the way through and admitted to myself that I simply didn't care about the world or the characters so I might as well stop wasting my time. A disappointment as it sounded like it had a lot of good ideas and I would have liked to like it.

  6. The Naming - Alison Croggon
    Pellinor, Book 1; YA Fantasy; DNF
    This was a good, solid YA fantasy. I liked the main character and the mentor she quickly picked up and, looking back, I realise that I would definitely like to pick it up again and finish it. The main reason I stopped was that I took a break when my mind was particularly fuzzy and because I needed to start Spirit Gate for a reading group. When I went back to pick it up again I once more couldn't face a big fat book and went for shorter, easier ones instead. I will go back to this one as I liked what I read a lot and would like to know how the story continues.

  7. Spirit Gate - Kate Elliott
    Crossroads, Book 1; Fantasy; DNF
    I like Kate Elliott (love Jaran most of all) and was pleased to try this new series. I liked what I read - this certainly isn't a bad book and don't let my DNF put you off - it's just that I was finding it hard going (because of my faulty CFS brain struggling with all the detail rather than any problems with the book) and I looked at it, realised that if I finished it I would want to read the next one and I was therefore setting myself up to read seven big fat books and I just couldn't cope with the idea. So I stopped. I'm sorry, as under other circumstances I'm pretty sure I would have liked it. I had the same problem with her Crown of Stars series, where I liked the premise and the writing but couldn't face seven big fat books.

  8. Moonstruck - Susan Grant
    Borderlands, Book 1; SF Romance; 7/10
    I like Susan Grant. Again, fun reads in a realistic but not overly complicated setting. This is the first in a new series that follows on from her last trilogy of books about the Jasper family. Those finished with an internal coup and peace after decades of war. Now the opposing sides have to learn to live together. In particular, Brit Bandar, starship commander and her second in command Finn Rokken. Both have past issues to get past as well as the fact they used to be on opposite sides. I liked Finn best as a character as he struggled to find a balance between fitting in and staying an individual (both for himself and for his crew) as well as loving Brit. I found Brit's attitudes and history a little over the top and so liked Finn's progression to love more than hers, but she was still a nice, strong character. Nice book. Keep up the good work, Susan.

  9. Paradise - Meljean Brook
    Guardians short story (in Wild Thing anthology); Paranormal Romance; 7/10
    I read Meljean Brook's Demon Moon ealier in the month and decided I should go back and read this story of Selah and Lucas, since they appeared or were mentioned in Demon Moon. It was a good little story, although nothing amazing. It's worth reading if you're reading the series, but if you're wanting to try Brook out, don't pick this one. Go with Demon Angel or Demon Moon.

  10. Nightkeepers - Jessica Andersen
    The Final Prophecy, Book 1; Paranormal Romance; 9/10
    I thought this looked really interesting when I first heard about it. Sure, it was the start of another series about warrior brothers fighting evil, but it was based of Mayan mythology for a change and the end of the world had a fixed date, four years from now. I read Andersen's excerpt on her website and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did and I enjoyed the book a lot. Again, it's a "go along for a fun ride" book more than anything else, but there's nothing wrong with that. While it is marketed as a romance and does indeed feature a main couple, this book is really more about the overall story and setting up the book's universe than a close study of a couple's relationship. Strike and Leah's romance is well-written and I enjoyed it, but it is part of the book's story, not all of it. It's very well integrated, but you need to want to read about the Nightkeepers as a whole rather than just a single couple or you'll probably be disappointed. I'm planning on reading the next in the series when it comes out.

  11. The Changeling Sea - Patricia A. McKillip
    YA Fantasy; reread; 10/10
    When I realised I couldn't manage to read some of the more detailed books I had on the TBR at this time, I went down to the library room and pulled out some old favourites that I'd like to reread. The Changeling Sea has always been my favourite Patricia McKillip novel but I hadn't reread it in years. I was a little concerned it might not stand up to a reread, but it it absolutely did. This is just a gorgeous story about love and loss, told in beautiful, lyrical language that is a delight to read. I still think this is McKillip at her best and highly recommend it to anyone. And if you like dragons (and princes), you'll just love this one. It's beautiful and soulful and wonderful. (This book was my last read for the Here Be Dragons challenge that finished today and it was a great way to finish it.)

  12. Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
    YA Fantasy; 7/10
    This came highly recommended by a friend and I'd heard a lot of good things about it. I really liked the fae world Marr created and she developed a wonderful heroine in Aislinn who can see faeries but doesn't dare let them know it. When she finds herself courted by the Summer King she is horrified and caught in events she can't escape. I liked the books and I liked the setup and the characters, but I thought it was let down by the ending, which is the reason for the lower grade. I think the ending Marr chose was perfect for the story but the telling of it just kind of fell flat after the power of the buildup. I wouldn't want to change what happened, I just felt it could have been described better and with more emotion. Still a good book and I'm still interested in reading more Marr.

  13. The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold
    Vorkosigan, Book 4; SF; audiobook; reread; 9/10
    I love Bujold and I love this series. I started listening to the audiobook of The Vor Game and loved it all over again. Then I hit a stage where I couldn't concentrate on much of anything (a theme you've probably already seen in these comments) and started listening to shorter podcasts instead of the book. It had been languishing for a while when I added it to my books to finish list for the Wind-Up Book Chronicle challenge. That encouraged me to go back to it and I thoroughly enjoyed finishing it up. It was geat to go along on another crazy adventure with Miles and I like the look we get at Gregor in this book, where he becomes much more of a person to the reader and not just a cut-out emperor. I'm now tempted to move on to Cetaganda but I'm going to listen to a couple of other things first. I can't recommend Bujold's work highly enough and encourage anyone who hasn't discovered Miles Vorkosigan to give his first book, The Warrior's Apprentice, a try.

  14. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
    Southern Vampire, Book 1; Fantasy; reread; 7/10
    I'd read this book before and wasn't inspired enough to continue on with the series. Then I listened to a recording of Charlaine Harris at a reading/signing and found myself interested in trying again. However, since I remembered next to nothing about this first book (usual for me) I decided to reread this one, then decide if I wanted to continue with the series. My response was still lukewarm, but I liked it enough to want to continue. These books make good book for reading while I sit with Marcus as he has his bath (he gets to play for a while before getting washed) and know I'm likely to be interrupted. I prefer to have a less "favourite" book for that, especially as it's likely to get splashed with a bit of water.

  15. Majipoor Chronicles - Robert Silverberg
    Majipoor, Book 2; SF; 7/10
    I read Silverberg's first Majipoor book, Lord Valentine's Castle, many years ago and really liked it, but I never got into this book of short stories. I reread Lord Valentine's Castle again last year and bought myself this book to have another go. It turned out to take me a long time to read my way through - I'm really not a short story reader - but I actually really enjoyed my trip through the past of Majipoor. It's not a totally amazing book, but explains and expands on a lot of things mentioned briefly in the first book. I'm now planning to go on and read the third in the trilogy, although I don't know when that wil be.

  16. Elizabeth's Wolf - Lora Leigh
    Breeds, Book 3; Paranormal Romance; reread; 8/10
    I started rereading Leigh's Breed books because I was planning to go on with the series, but wanted to reread these earlier ones first. So far, this remains my favourite of the ones I've read and I enjoyed visiting with Dash, Elizabeth and Cassie again. I'm still deciding if I'm going to keep rereading or jump to the volume I'm up to in the series.

  17. The Ruby Dice - Catherine Asaro
    Skolian Empire, Book 12; SF; 10/10
    I love Catherine Asaro's books and I love this series. I've had it since it was published in January but I kept putting it off and putting it off and I couldn't figure out why. I finally decided it was a combination of factors: I was afraid it wouldn't live up to my expectations (it did), I wanted to read it when my brain was at its best so I could take in all the details (in the end, I read it anyway as the brain hasn't cooperated on that front), I didn't want to read about bad things happening to the characters, especially Jaibriol who is in an unenviable position (none of it was totally awful, but not roses and rainbows either) and I wanted the chance to savour it without being interrupted (I managed that my taking longer to read it and reading when I was alone in the house). So while it wasn't necessarily an easy read, I loved this addition to the Skolian series. A major milestone was reached in Skolian/Trader relations and Jaibriol finally got to share some of his secrets, even if it did leave him understanding exactly how alone he is (poor, poor Jai). We got to see many favourite characters again and it was a wonderful visit to a wonderful world. It leaves me with many, many more questions than answers, and I hope Asaro will continue to tell tales of this point in her timeline (although the next book goes back ten years to tell the story of another character and I'm looking forward to that just as much). So I loved, loved this book and probably would have done if I'd read in in January too, but I had to wait until I felt ready to take it on. I guess it means I won't have to wait as long as some people for the next one, which doesn't come out until May 2009. This is totally not the place to start this series, but I do recommend giving it a try as it's a wonderful canvas Asaro has created and great stories. I'm planning on rereading the entire series, including short stories, in chronological order now I'm up-to-date. If you do want to try the books I suggest Primary Inversion (first published) or Skyfall (first chronologically) as a place to begin.
Well, I managed that better than I suspected. I guess the idea is not to be put off my the daunting idea of "real" reviews and just post a paragraph or so of comments as I finish each book I read. I'll give it a try, anyway.

1 comment:

Tez Miller said...

Magic Bites had some original ideas, but the characters didn't appeal to me. All this fangirlying readers have been doing over Curran...I just don't get it.

Have a lovely day! :-)