Thursday, August 06, 2009

June and July Reading List - Jennifer B

Waving hello to all. Boy I miss this. And you.

Still reading around the 5-or-so books a month mark, but they've been pretty good ones. Wanna see?


Wicked Intentions by Lydia Joyce
Dark, as expected. So yes, I enjoyed this one. Hypocritical or unfair of me, but when Joyce's words paint a picture of wet wool instead of sliding silk, I'm moved. When Robin Schone did it (in The Men And Womens Club), I was repulsed. Not entirely sure why, but it may have to do with emotion--and the near impossibility (IMO) of snaring the reader in an emotionally laden story in the span of a novella. At least where the emotion has roots far and deep into the past. At any rate, Wicked Intentions is not a light read, nor an entirely sexy one (like I said, no sliding silk). But moving. Deeply moving.

Beauty And The Spy by Julie Anne Long (2006)
Light, fluffy farce. Both hero and heroine so naive, so shallow it defied my good reading sense. The sense that said "put this book down." But I couldn't. Long's characterization fit. Both were a product of their privileged upbringing and their romance felt, well, young. Honest and fresh. It was engaging and sweet. It was also laugh out loud funny in places. And I was in a mood for it.

A Hint Of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore
Blogger buzz compelled me to purchase this one at my local Walmart. You know, instead of groceries. Took it home on a husband-is-out-of-town evening, put my son to bed on time and curled up on the couch. A hundred pages into it, I was unhappy. All this buzz--even some from my close friend Lori--and I was slapping my forehead. If I had read the blurb carefully--not to mention the reviews/comments--I would have categorically dismissed this one on its premise alone. Didn't like it. I liked her prose and her pace. Very, very much. But not the premise. Couple of days later--properly chastised and encouraged by Lori--I picked AHOW up again and finished it. A good--solidly emotional--read. So well done, I'm looking forward to the Haymore's next title. I think.

Not Quite A Lady by Loretta Chase
A Chase title. Loved it as I have all her others. And with her newest release already in-hand, I'd say I'm "current" with Chase's titles. Yip.

A Viscount In Her Bedroom by Gayle Callen
I called the first Callen title I read "light." A good read, but too light for my reading tastes. This one didn't feel at all light or airy and I loved it. I'll note however, that my personal definition of "light" is more a measure of how far outside societal confines the author allows his/her characters to venture than it is a comment on plot elements (suspense, romance, etc.). Callen's characters don't venture far, and in this particular title, the conflict was entirely society-driven. But I still found depth of character. Overall, a solid historical and now, another backlist to enjoy.

Hot In Here by Sophie Renwick (DNF)
I just couldn't buy into this one. I'm not much for the friends-to-lovers premise--when one friend has secretly pined away for the other. There is something just not comfortable for me there. In this case, I thought him less than sincere in his seduction of her. And I thought her a bit weak--too weak to realize her humiliation. I opted to move on.


Untouched by Anna Campbell
This one had a disturbing bent, no question. Dark, definitely. And an excellent read. Deeply emotional, with characters troubled enough to be suspect. Like Joyce, in Wicked Intentions, Campbell is adept at keeping readers as wary of the hero as the heroine is...but still inexplicably drawn to him. Good stuff, but not without its sickening elements or moments. It's no wonder I always come to a Joyce or Campbell title a bit hesitant. Assured of a strong read, but knowing it will push me outside of comfortable.

Duke Of Shadows by Meredith Duran
Blogger buzz brought me and Duran together. Thank you bloggers! Duke of Shadows shined in voice, pace, characterization--all of it. There is a stilted depth to her characters, visible in every word exchanged. More so in Bound By Your Touch I think, but only because the hero of DOS carried less baggage. Here, Julian is not afraid to love Emma. But Emma, you can hear her fear in every breath. Stilted, stuttering emotion that is palpable. The action was also welcome. I loved everything about this book. Then I read Bound By Your Touch (will fall under August reads) and boy, it shined even brighter. That one? The best book of 2009 for me so far. Hands down. (Unless Written On Your Skin outdoes them both. Reading that one right now.)

Tempt The Devil by Anna Campbell
Excellent--another historical featuring great, great emotional depth. Hmmm, and no squeamish moments in this one. Just a solid, emotionally taut romance and hard-won HEA. Not sure the ending did it total justice, but it was realistic I suppose. And look at that, I'm officially caught up on Campbell's titles. Yay.

Paradise (Wild Thing Anthology) by Meljean Brook
Brook has surpassed Liu in my must-read paranormal category. With unread titles from both in my TBR stack, I instinctively reach for Brook. Love them both, but Brook's world of angels and demons captivates in a manner I've not experienced in Liu's last couple of Dirke and Steel books. Distracted in every sense, I picked up this anthology and literally devoured Brook's installment. Lost in it, oblivious to my surroundings. Perfect in its execution and powerful enough to command my undivided attention.

Sworn To Silence by Linda Castillo
A thriller. And a beginning to what looks like a new series to feature the same police chief heroine and washed out bureau agent. Grim stuff in here, with more emphasis on the suspense and thriller portions than the romance. Written in both first and third person if memory serves. A smooth execution though and a series I may be interested in reading. We'll see.

Killer Secrets by Lora Leigh (skimmed)
I think there was a pretty solid story in here, but as I've long since tired of Leigh's trademarks, I only skimmed it. Not even sure why I picked it up honestly, but once I did, there was enough in her characters and the conflict to keep me almost there.

2009 Reading Resolutions...update:

1) Read almost strictly from my TBR list (not stack, list). Read from both here--the list and the stack.

2) Read at least one shiny new release a month. Check. The Haymore, Renwick and Castillo titles were all released in June.

3) Catch up--right up--to the new releases in each of my favorite series. I caught up with Chase, Campbell and (in a day or two from this posting) with Duran. Am also now one book closer to catching up with Brook and Joyce.

Hmmm, so overall, no aberrant reading behavior for me in the last two months. I'm following my own rules, LOL.


  1. Have several by Joyce in TBR because I heard she writes "gothic-y." Like you, I also like "dark."

    Apologies to Lori, but I've decided to bypass the Haymore debut. I just cannot get past the premise. That and I have way too many books I actually am dying to read than to slog through one I'm already prejudice against because of the plot. I'm probably missing out on a very good read, but I can live with myself at the end of the day.

    Picked up Hot In Here and Untouched at RWA. And also have both of Meredith Duran's books languishing in the TBR.

    I got an ARC for Sworn To Silence at work months ago, and haven't gotten to it yet. I've enjoyed the romantic suspense titles by Castillo that I have read, and her foray into "straight-up" suspense does intrigue me. Will read....eventually. Maybe I should check for audiobook copy.....

  2. Hey - no apologies are necessary! I was actually surprised I liked it as much as I did (pleasantly, obviously). Cause I usually am SO not about the triangle thing.

    And much as JB loves the Joyces and (dare I even say it) the Campbells, they just don't do it for me. So we're even, LOL.

    Anyway, so happy to see you back up here, my friend! I miss seeing your reviews! But, ya know... the new Brockmann is out. Check it out from the library, and let's do another buddy review on it!

  3. Very nice list, JenB :)LOL, among so many books, I think I've read one :) LOL.

    I'm not into dark stories, so Lydia Joyce isn't for me...

    LOL and I'm siding with Wendy on the Haymore :) Going to wait till her next release to try her out :)

    and glad you enjoyed The Duke of Shadows! :) I bought it recently... now I need to read it :P

  4. Thanks Ladies! It's funny, I'm always thinking that I'm behind...reading titles that everyone else has already read--hence their existence on my TBR list. Funny to hear you guys say, yep, have that on my list but haven't gotten to it yet.

    Wendy - Haymore didn't knock me down, though it did turn out to be a solid read. So I can't PUSH that one to reluctant readers. The Duran book? That one and its follow ups I CAN push. Wow.

    Lori - My library has not received the new Brockmann yet. Guess I'll have to speak to the manager, LOL. And yes, buddy review!

    Nath - Do you read Anna Campbell? If so, and if you like her, I think Joyce's Wicked Intentions might suit you. It wasn't one of Joyce's gothic-y ones. More straight historical romance, only with characters who carry more than the average emotional baggage, or who are more than the average twisted, LOL.

  5. Hi Jennifer!
    Great list of books read! I average about five books per month, too. I know others read far more than that, but in the whole scheme of things, I think it's a great pace!

    I'm so glad to see you're enjoying Meredith Duran so much. She's a very talented writer. I loved DOS so much--it was in my list of top books of 2008. I also loved BBYT which I read in June. I haven't gotten a chance to pick up WOYS yet, but the reviews so far seem even better than those for BBYT! I can't wait to read it.

    Isn't Meljean's Paradise awesome? I love her whole series, but this short was so good. I think it was a perfect balance of everything I love about her writing. Story, characters, pace, action, suspense, sensuality, and it has a nice niche in the series story arc. And the scene in which Selena feeds Lucas the first time? And he bites her in the thigh? Wow. What a scene. Frightening and sensual at the same time.

    I really need to read Anna Campbell. I've wanted to for so long and don't even have any of her books on my shelf! :(

    Happy August reading!

  6. Hi Jen :)

    I've never tried Anna Campbell, but I don't think she'd be my cup of tea either. I have read Lydia Joyce first release and I didn't like it much.

  7. I finished Meredith Duran's two newest books just last week. At first I didn't understand why they were released one month apart but now I know it's because they are interrelated. I didn't think WOYS was quite as good as BBYT but I still graded them both with A's. I'd also recommend Mary Jo Putney's return to historicals, Loving a Lost Lord, Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas and Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase.

    I'm not reading nearly as much as I used to - I'm too busy or I can't sit still long enough. Apparently the more exercise I get the less able I am to sit for long periods of time. LOL


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