Friday, June 4, 2010

The Month That Was May 2010

No, I'm still not over it. I'm currently working through the Kubler-Ross 5 Stages of Grief. Denial was fleeting (oh no he DIDN'T!), Anger hung on for a while, I skipped right over Bargaining and am now firmly entrenched in Depression. Honestly, I'm not sure Acceptance will ever come, mostly because this perfect game was what I was going to hang my hat on for the rest of the season. The wild card is coming out of the AL East (you can take that to the bank) and my team has been nothing if not consistent when it comes to losing to the Twins.


But, on the bright side - look at my Armando. Isn't he a cutie-patootie? And he's now got a shiny red Corvette convertible from General Motors to drive around in.

Now, on to books. Even with the Super Librarian Parental Units in town the first part of the month, I managed to get 9 books read. It helped that the majority were category romances I agreed to read for an RWA chapter contest. So, for that reason, the recaps on those books will be....not as thorough. As in, no grades. But I'll do my best to convey my thoughts so y'all get the gist. Here we go!

Bride Of The Living Dead by Lynne Murray, Contemporary Chick Lit, 2010, Grade = B
  • Chick Lit about a "fat girl" who finds her Prince Charming, and in a moment of insanity, lets her parents talk her into letting her anorexic sister help plan the wedding. Light and fluffy, featuring an unconventional heroine.
A Convenient Proposition by Cindy Gerard, Silhouette Desire, 2006, Grade = D-
  • My read for Keishon's TBR Challenge almost made my brain bleed. Instead of growing a spine, heroine runs back to her hometown and lucks out when the sugary Beta hero steps in to fix her entire life. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Knocked-Up Heroine, Beta Hero Who Can Cook, Big Secret.
Accidental Cinderella by Nancy Robards Thompson, Silhouette Special Edition, 2009
  • Heroine lands a job on a Food Network-like cooking show thanks to her BFF (who just happens to be a princess). There she runs up against the celebrity chef hero, who is licking his wounds over his ex-wife and a scandal that has rocked his career. Worth a look for Harlequin Presents fans, since this one had a lot of similarities to that line (but way lighter on the sex - hey, this is a SSE). Not a book I would have picked up on my own, but this one was solid. I would read this author again. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Every Woman Heroine, Alpha Hero Done Wrong By Ex, Glam Setting (France).
Her Best Bet by Pamela Ford, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2009
  • Heroine on the cusp of her 10th high school reunion realizes she's abandoned her "dream" to work in film, and enters an amateur filmmakers competition. She wants to make a documentary about an old lodge on some property her family is planning to sell. Photojournalist hero comes home to discover the lodge his family has managed for 100 years is getting sold out from under them. Naturally the Big Secret hangs on for too long, but the setting is quite good, and I enjoyed the inclusion of the heroine's BFF, an aspiring actress. I would read this author again. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Heroine Who Hides Her True Identity, PTSD Sufferin' Hero, Kindly Grandparents, Big Secret, One Proposal-Poppin' Boyfriend Who Won't Take A Hint.
The Secret Mistress Arrangement by Kimberly Lang, Harlequin Presents, 2009
  • The big pleasant surprise in my contest reading! Heroine is the maid of honor in her BFF's wedding, and has basically been the "go-to" gal when it comes to making sure everything runs smoothly. Workaholic hero is the best man, and with mutual lust, they agree to a "temporary fling." He lives in Atlanta, she's moving to the Alabama coast a week after the wedding. Honestly? This is an HP for readers who think they "don't like" HPs. You just have to be willing to look past the overblown title and equally overblown back cover copy. A few more pages and this easily could have been a Blaze. I have definite plans to read more stories by this author. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Just A Fling Please, Workaholic Hero, Type A Heroine, But But But...I Can't Tell Him/Her How I Really Feel!
For the Love of Family by Kathleen O'Brien, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2009
  • Laid-off journalist heroine swallows pride and takes a job in corporate PR department because she needs to eat. Turns out her new boss (the hero) is the a man she almost did the dirty deed with several years back after they hooked up at a Halloween costume party. She's still nursing a crush and he....doesn't recognize her! This is part of a multi-author series, and reads like it. There's quite a bit of back story and series-setting-up competing with the main romance, and it wasn't always an easy mix. Still, a solid read and I'm open to reading more books by O'Brien. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Family Business Runnin' Hero, Ex-Journalist Heroine, Big Secret, Control-Freak Daddy, Seemingly Spineless Mama.
His Secret Christmas Baby by Rita Herron, Harlequin Intrigue, 2009
  • About to deliver her baby, heroine's BFF makes her promise to look after the child should something happen to her. When she dies, social worker heroine gets creative with the paperwork, but starts asking questions. In response, the baby gets kidnapped. Newly hired hero working for a private investigation firm learns the baby is his, and works overtime to find his son. Evenly paced suspense novel hindered by a skeevy secret baby set-up, some unfortunate plot spoon-feeding, and a motive I found really thin. That said, I would consider reading this author again if the back cover blurb hit me the right way. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: PI Hero Haunted By Case Gone Bad, Secret Baby, Unrequited Crush, Heroine Who Makes Death Bed Promise.
Her Very Own Family by Trish Milburn, Harlequin American, 2009
  • Heroine looking for a fresh start moves to small town to open her own cafe. Worried for a recently widowed man she meets at the grocery store, she hires him to build her some picture frames. Hero is concerned to hear his still-grieving father is spending a lot of time with some strange woman, and is afraid he's being taken advantage of. When he shows up to investigate, he falls hard for the heroine. Nice, gentle story with nice, gentle conflict. The author avoids some obvious pitfalls, and even when she goes down Cliche Road, it's a short trip (paragraphs/couple of pages instead of WHOLE chapters or half the book). I am so reading more Milburn. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Hero Done Wrong By Ex, Kindly Widower Father, Heroine Looking For Fresh Start, Big Secret.
He Calls Her Doc by Mary Brady, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2009
  • Doctor heroine returns to small town and runs up against the hero, who doesn't like her all that much because she was BFFs with his younger, now dead, brother. Poorly written and executed back story, improbable character behavior, a pre-teen girl who needs a beating or to be locked in an attic (I can't decide which) and a conflict thread that paints small town residents as ignorant yokels. Doubtful I'll read more by this author, especially since the plan is for more books in this series. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Doctor Heroine Who Moves Back To Small Town Even Though Everyone There Sucks, Hero Haunted By His Past, Adversaries!, 12-Year-Old Niece Going On 25, Small Town Residents Who Think It's 1950.
I'm hoping I can keep my reading momentum going through June. Seriously, I am so behind....


liberry said...

I could not be happier to have found your blog! You are super-awesome-fantastic.

Mary Lamb said...

Hey -I'm not a wannabe librarian -I am a librarian! :) (I'll show you my MLS if you'll show me yours! :))

I am in awe that you read nine books and your reviews/thoughts are cogent, articulate and very helpful. Glad you read some of these so I'll know what to avoid!

Lynette said...

I'm loving your HQ Cheat Sheet. As someone who loves HQ/SIL despite myself I loved it!

Elizabeth said...

I don't think Acceptance (except of a Corvette) is warranted in this situation. But I hope you make it out of Depression soon. Maybe Resignation? Or just Not Thinking About It?

I have that Pamela Ford in my TBR just because of the setting (I spent childhood summers next door to a family-run lodge in Northern Wisconsin) so I'm glad to know you liked it.

Lynne Connolly said...

Great reviews. Read the Lang and I agree. I think that's one of the reasons I read HQ Presents - every now and then there's a little gem.

Wendy said...

Liberry: I'm glad to be found!

Mary: I think the wannabe librarians outnumber the actual librarians around here :) And my MLS is currently tucked away in a dark back corner of a storage closet. Sad, but true.

Lynette: I tend to start frothing at the mouth every time someone tells me they don't read Harlequins because they all have "babies and/or kids in them." Hence, the Cheat Sheet. You know how many Harlequins I read with no secret baby plots or precocious tykes? TONS! Heck, just look at my contest reads. 7 books and only 2 of them had kids in them.

Elizabeth: I'm working towards Resignation and Acceptance. My team seems to have moved on, I can too. Eventually.

I don't have intimate knowledge of the area, but I thought Ford's use of setting was very well done in that story. My main "gripe" with it was that the Big Secret hangs on for WAY too long.

Lynne: The Lang was such a lovely surprise (and find!) for me. I need to do a better job of investigating the HP line. Turns out I know where I can go to look up plenty of reviews for them ;-)

Kristie (J) said...

While I certainly still feel your denial, anger, your wanting to bargain (like offering something of value to Bud Selig if he changes the call) and depression, hopefully knowing he got a great car, he will probably be cheered when he pitches in Kansas City and the fact that his perfect game will be the best remembered of the season will lead you to that final stage - acceptance.
As for your May reads, I haven't read a one of them - but I have been buying a lot more of the Superromance line :-)

SarahT said...

Thank you for the Kimberly Lang recommendation! I hadn't read a Harlequin Presents in ages and my memories of them weren't positive. However, your review intrigued me and I bought 'The Secret Mistress Arrangement'. I really enjoyed it! I definitely plan to read more of her books.

SarahT said...

I just bought a couple more Lang books. A tip for anyone interested: the Mills & Boon site have Kimberly Lang's 'The Misbehaving Mistress' on sale for $0.99 (apx. $1.44). Plus it's in epub format. It costs $3.83 at the eHarlequin site for a pdf edition.

SarahT said...

Sorry...that should read: £0.99 (apx. $1.44). I clearly need more coffee. :D

Lynn said...


I feel for you on the loss of the perfect game still, it takes a while to get over something like that. That said, I won't apologize for my Twins! Just wish they'd do better with men on base.

A couple of the books look interesting.

Kimberly Lang said...

Wow, y'all, I'm blushing just a little.

Wendy, Lynn, and SarahT -- I'm so glad y'all enjoyed Matt and Ella's story. That was my first book, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Elizabeth said...

I liked Ford's Her Best Bet. Didn't know anything about the gangsters, but the setting was well done (except--no waterskiing? Sex in grass in the woods?? Hello--TICKS?!?).

Surprisingly poignant for me since my family recently sold our cabin which had been in the family for close to 100 years. The struggles of the family-run lodge and threat of development on Northern lakes were very realistic, and all the mixed feelings that went with that hit very close to home. Thanks for the rec, Wendy. Now I want to try the Lang!

Wendy said...

KristieJ: Armando pitches on Tuesday against the evil, dreaded White Sox. Speaking of, I need to set my DVR for that game still....

SarahT: Glad to hear you enjoyed it! HP is one of those lines I want to like, but I have a hard time wading through the titles and back cover copy. Need to do a better job of reading Lynne's reviews over at TGTBTU. As you've discovered, she reviews a TON of them.

Lynn: You should never apologize for your Twins. I'm convinced Gardenhire could take random guys tailgating in the stadium parking lot and mold them into a competitive team.....

Kimberly: Thanks for stopping by! I really liked your debut novel and will be looking for more of your books!

Elizabeth: I read a romance once where the couple had sex in the rain forest. Um yeah, no thanks. Just thinking about all the creepy, exotic insects in the rainforest is enough to put me off sex for a good long while.

I knew about the gangsters (history junkie here), but the development stuff I was largely unaware of....

nath said...

Loved your reviews this month, Wendy!! I'll definitively be on the look out for some of these... LOL, seems like you're adding a bucketfull more authors to your list :)