Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Month That Was September 2009

Brace yourself. I'm going to whine.

I've been mired in a horrible reading slump. The kind of slump where I don't feel like picking up a book. At all. I'm trying to power my way through it, but it's been rough going. It doesn't help matters that my reading lately has been pretty lackluster. A lot of "C"s and I've read a grand total of two "A" books for the entire year.

Seriously, I'm dying over here people.

I'm trying. I really am. But at this point I sort of feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. Worse still, is that this reading malaise is starting to spill over into my blogging. I just can't seem to find my groove. At all.

Oh well. Suck it up Wendy. Nobody likes a whiner.

Which brings us to my pathetic recap of the reading I got done in September. I read seven books last month, two of which were short stories - so I'm not sure they count. Title links will take you to full reviews. Here's how it breaks down:

Highland Rebel by Judith James, historical romance, Restoration England, My Grade = B+
  • This would be the best read of the month. The heroine started out rocky, but after I got past the first 50 pages, this book really cooked for me. I loved the history and setting, enjoyed the devil may care hero, and yes - the heroine grew on me once the author filled in her back story. I wasn't enamored with the author's debut novel (which was almost a DNF for me), and I was happy that me giving her a second chance paid off.
The Daddy Audition by Cindi Myers, Harlequin American, Contemporary Romance, My Grade = C-
  • Myers' last several books have all been set in the same small mountain resort community. Earlier this year I read a previous book in the series, and really enjoyed it. So I thought I'd try the next book in the series. I'm sad to say it didn't work nearly as well for me. When the heroine wasn't self-absorbed, she was pretty dense. I couldn't figure out why the hero spent the last 10 years mooning over her.
The Countess's Client by Alison Richardson, Spice Briefs, Historical Erotica, Short Story, My Grade = D+
  • This erotic short story started out with such promise thanks to an engaging narration style, but it quickly went down hill with snobbish, boorish characters and a bizarre twist at the end. I think the author can write though, so I'm going to read the next short story in The Countess Trilogy. What the heck, right? It's a short story!
The Warrior's Forbidden Virgin by Michelle Willingham, Harlequin Historical Undone, Medieval Romance, Short Story, My Grade = B
  • The heroine is marginally rocky here (pining for another man) but the hero is so wonderfully deliciously Beta that he picks up the slack. Lots of action and derring-do keep the plot humming along, and I'm looking forward to reading the full-length tie-in to this short story, Taming Her Irish Warrior.
From Friends To Forever by Karen Templeton, Silhouette Special Edition, Contemporary Romance, My Grade = C+
  • I really enjoy Templeton's category romances, and sadly this one was just OK for me. I felt there was a fair amount of series-itis going on here (it's book four), and the conflict surrounding the hero's dead wife was a little too conveniently wrapped up. Nice characters, but thought the conflict needed some more juice.
Silent Watch by Elle Kennedy, Silhouette Romantic Suspense, Romantic Suspense, My Grade = C-
  • Ultimately it was the cliches that sunk this book for me. The hero is a damaged FBI agent who blames himself for his fiance's death. The heroine is a drop-dead gorgeous swimsuit model (blah), who has a serial killer stalking her but that doesn't stop her from doing dumb shit that puts her in danger. Swear to God, she keeps wanting to go outside to do inane shit like play in the snow! Hello? Serial killer on the loose? Remember him? Some of the relationship stuff was OK, and I liked that the heroine called the hero on most of his bullshit. Too many bad romantic suspense cliches though.
Texas Wedding For Their Baby's Sake by Kathryn Albright, Harlequin Historical, Western, My Grade = C-
  • My most disappointing read of the month, and if I'm honest with myself now, I probably should have graded this a D+. The characters don't talk to each other - to the point where the hero keeps pushing the heroine away "for her own good" and the heroine, who travels from South Carolina to Texas to find the hero!, doesn't come right out and tell him he's her baby daddy the moment she lays eyes on him. The revelation is dragged out until towards the end of the book, where the hero proceeds to continue his pity party. Luckily the heroine reaches down deep, finds her damn spine, and that saved the last third of the book for me. I was also mightily annoyed that the hero in the previous book I adored was a raging jackass for most of this story.
Four C grades. That probably has something to do with my slump. Also the fact that three of those C grades were attached to books where previous books in the same series worked really, really well for me.

Oh well.

Suck it up Wendy. Suck it up.


Chris said...

Hmm. Time to radically break out of your usual reading areas and try something different mayhap?

iasa said...

I went through a bit of a 'help, help I'm being oppressed by my books' at the end of August. Didn't pick up a book until last week.

LoriK said...

I'm sorry that the slump has gotten so bad. I wish that I could pass on some of my recent good fortune to you. I was just noticing that September was actually a pretty good month for me---the first one in a long time without a single DNF.

I'd second Chris' recommendation to try reading something you normally wouldn't. Getting into totally different genres often works for me when nothing else does.

Misty Mays said...

I went through a little bit of a funk myself. I was a vivid reader and I just recently got back started. I read mostly self-taught, self-help, and business related books though.I think we all have to put something new in our minds everyday!

Victoria Janssen said...

Put the romances down and back away slowly, hands in the air!

Time to read a mystery, perhaps.

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Two possible remedies:
1) Re-read something you loved growing up: Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, whatever it was.

2) Tackle huge project in the house that you hate: clean a spare room or closet, washing all the dishes in the house by hand -- the alternative is to read. Viola!

Jill D. said...

What are you talking about your blogging is suffering? I beg to differ! I think you have had some very thought provoking blog posts recently. I even came out of lurking to comment on them.

Reading slumps do suck, though. I just came out of one myself. I think you need to take a break and not feel guilty for it. Leave reading for a few days or a week and then come back and pick up a book that you really want to read. Do NOT read a book that you feel obligated to read ie, it is one of many in your TBR tower or someone told you to try it. Pick one all for yourself totally guilt free.

That's my five cents, for what it's worth.

Tara Marie said...

slumps suck

The Warrior's Forbidden Virgin by Michelle Willingham--this sounds pretty good. I may have to track it down.

Tara Marie said...

Re-reading is always good advice. You know what you're getting.

Lynn Spencer said...

Those long strings of C reads wear me out, too! Hope things pick up for you soon. I've been having a pretty good year, but I've also been doing a lot of rereading - and there then there was the Julia Spencer-Fleming glom. If you've not read Julia S-F's series, those books are fabulous!

Liza said...

Re-reading a book I loved helps me. My other option would be to stop reading for at least a week. Usually, if I stop reading for a while, I enjoy it much more when I start back up.

JamiSings said...

First off, I know you meant "do dumb shit" but I laughed where you wrote "do dump shit."

I've been suckered into reading Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series cause I whined about the lack of fat women in romance novels. (Bride is okay, but she never comes out and tells Vane how much she hates her body and why. If I'm reading about a fat woman I want at least one chapter containing a total "I am the ugliest thing on earth and I refuse to believe you could find me attractive and I won't wear anything but cotton granny panties now piss off" rant. Make the guy WORK for it. Plus she's tall and a size 16. I'm short and - well, I can fit into a size 22 but I prefer to wear a 26. And there's the whole other issue where I don't like to be touched anyway.) I really like them but I know you're burned out on paranormals. Still, they're worth reading if only for one of Simi's appearances. Whom knew a demon could be such great comic relief? Especially in Seize The Night where she says she prefers shopping to sex cause you don't have to shower afterwards.

How about non-fiction? Dean Koontz's book A Big Little Life is a good read and a real tear jerker. It's all about his dog, Trixie. Course it struck a massive cord with me because my dog of 16 years, Audrey, had to be put to sleep in February when she had two (or possibly more) strokes one horrible morning. So the fact I recently lost a dog might have colored my opinion of the book.

I like your blog anyway, bad grades on books or not.

Mariana said...

I always recommend my favorites: Magnus Pack series and Pride Stories series by Shelly Laurenston; raunchy fun to be had by all.

Cry No More, by Linda Howard; an emotional roller coaster but completely worth it.

And if you read Gay Romance, Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy; sweet story.

Anything by Nalini Singh and Julie Garwood (her historicals especially).

vanessa jaye said...

I've been reading mostly non-fiction--The Outliers, Freakanomics, Ignore Everybody, just to name a few--for the last few months. I just couldn't be arsed to read the fiction books (any genre, even long awaited books by favourite authors. I still bought the books, just haven't read them yet).

Sounds like you might need a break.

Tara Marie said...

Wendy--your RTB post today is great :) and I'm sorry about your Tigers :(

Wendy said...

Heeee - nice typo catch Jami! I reread this dang post (TWICE!) before posting and didn't catch it. It's since been fixed :)

I think a big reason for my slump, is that I read 3 series/sequel-type stories that left me disappointed. A bit of a double-whammy since the previous books in said series really worked well for me.

I'm actually reading a pretty good romantic suspense novel right now, but I'm still looking for a groove.

JamiSings said...

It happens, Wendy. I mean, I'm not thrilled with all the Dark Hunter books I've read so far. I think it's because in some the women jump into the sack with the guy before even knowing them 24 hours. Oh sure, they're soul mates, but still I don't care for it. Plus I like my women a little more sexually repressed so the men have to work for it. I want seduction. Not a "Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Man" in the first couple of chapters. But I can overlook it cause I enjoy her writing for the most part. Do wish she'd stop having the male roles being the only ones with bad family histories. Women can have shitty families too.

Course that's one of my issues with Dean Koontz as well. Almost all his characters have crappy families. I guess that's cause his own father was an abusive, alcoholic putz.

But seriously, maybe you need to take a break for a smidge. Read something different. Then come back to romances with a rested, vacationed mind.

Or you can just pop over to Lyndee's blog and tell us what is up with Harlequinn's obsession with Sheikhs and cats. Cause you're the expert. We don't know whom else to turn to! LOL

Rosie said...

Slumps suck. I would have to imagine that breaking out of them is as individual as the people who read your blog.

You know I was just pondering this issue of my own reading and blogging seeming to be in fits and starts. Am I busier? More tired? Or is it some kind of quasi slump.

Kwana said...

All I can say is Awwwww.... This is very sad.