Monday, April 18, 2011

The Month That Was March 2011

Lemon Drop: Auntie Wendy, I do appreciate the new books you gave me for my birthday, but this one has me in a quandary.

Me: Clifford The Big Red DogReally?  Well, tell you what.  Let's talk about what Auntie Wendy read back in March, and afterward we'll tackle your issues with Clifford.

I had a wildly uneven reading month, finishing 11 books.  OK, so the vast majority were short stories.  See, one of Auntie Wendy's friends, Sybil, owns her soul.  Sybil keeps me in Harlequins, and in return, she expects me to do some book reviews for her.  I have a backlog, Sybil needed reviews, so that meant catching up on all those Harlequin Historical Undones I've collected on my Sony Reader.

Title links will take you to full reviews.

Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright, Paranormal romance, Signet, 2010, Grade = DNF 
  • Wright did my library's literary event and that meant I broke out of my Dear God Not Another Paranormal Burn Out to read this first book in her new vampire series.  Yeah, it didn't really work for me.  I read about half of it, and skimmed the rest.  If you're curious about it, I suggest checking out the review over at Smexy Books.  I had a number of the same issues with it that Mandi did.  But hey, if you can't get enough of Ye Olde Hunky Vampire Brothers trope?  Might be worth a look for you.
In His Good Hands by Joan Kilby, Contemporary romance, Harlequin SuperRomance, 2011, Grade = C 
  • Here's something telling - my favorite part of this story?  The hero's teenage daughter.  A heroine who needs a therapist and a hero who comes off as childish and immature meant a romance that I never connected with.  Actually, scratch that.  I thought this romance was doomed.  But I did like some of the secondary players, and Kilby is a competent writer. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Pleasantly Plump Heroine, Athlete Hero, Single Father, Sequel-Baitin' Siblings, One Teenage Daughter, One Social-Climbing Ex-Wife
The Last Cheerleader by Meg O'Brien, Suspense, Mira, 2003, Grade = C- 
  • My TBR Challenge read.  An annoying secondary character, and some unconvincing behavior on the part of our amateur sleuth sunk this one for me.
Beauty & the Brooding Boss by Barbara Wallace, Contemporary romance, Harlequin Romance, 2011, Grade = C 
  • A pleasant story, but the romance never quite gelled for me.  Also, the self-sacrificing heroine caused some heavy eye-rolling on my part. Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Reclusive Author Hero, Down On Her Luck Heroine, You Can't Choose Your Family, Beauty And The Beast
Her Midnight Cowboy by Lauri Robinson, Digital Short Story, Harlequin Historical Undone, 2010, Grade = D 
  •  Heroine in pursuit of hunky hero who works on Daddy's ranch.  The "history" in this one was what caused me to put on the brakes.  Yeah, things were more liberal in the American West, but they weren't that liberal.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Virginal Heroine in Pursuit, Cowboy Hero, The World's Most Self-Indulgent Parents
Pleasured by the Viking by Michelle Willingham, Digital Short Story, Harlequin Historical Undone, 2010, Grade = D 
  • I normally enjoy Willingham's Undones, so it was with much disappointment that this one....well didn't work at all for me.  In order for the happy-ever-after to work, a secondary character gets thrown under the bus.  It bothered me.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Vikings Ahoy!, Arranged Marriage, Unrequited Crush, One Widow Woman
The Perfect Concubine by Michelle Styles, Digital Short Story, Harlequin Historical Undone, 2011, Grade = B 
  •  Desperate heroine wants to find her long lost brother, which means begging a favor from the hero, a man she done wrong.  Naturally, he'll grant her this favor, for a price.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Hero Done Wrong, Heroine In Dire Straights, Betrayed!, Reunited!
Fall From Grace by Wayne Arthurson, Mystery/Suspense, Forge, 2011, Grade = B 
  •  Gambling addict hero, trying to pull his life together, is given assignment at newspaper to cover the murder of a Native prostitute.  A procedural-style suspense thread, a nice sense of place, a seriously messed-up hero with oodles of baggage, and a brain-bending finish will give readers plenty to talk about.
The Left-Handed Dollar by Loren Estleman, Mystery/Suspense, Forge, 2010, Grade = B 
  •  Detroit PI hired by far-left lawyer to uncover evidence in a car bombing case her mobster client was accused of.  The problem?  The victim of the car bombing is the PI's BFF.  Typical Estleman fare.  Lots of noir-y dialogue, colorful characters, solid mystery.
Taming Her Gypsy Lover by Christine Merrill, Digital Short Story, Harlequin Historical Undone, 2010, Grade = C 
  • A prequel to a multi-author series, this sets the wheels in motion quite nicely.  Hunky hero, plenty of sexy sizzle, although I did think the heroine took to the "Gypsy lifestyle" amazingly well.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Outsider Hero, Poor Relation Heroine, Scandal!, One Missing Boy
To Court, Capture & Conquer by Amanda McCabe, Digital Short Story, Harlequin Historical Undone, 2010, Grade = B
  • Hero wants revenge against villain and intends to kidnap his bride-to-be.  Instead, he mistakenly kidnaps the girl's chaperone.  Oopsie.  Harlequin Cheat Sheet: Hero Done Wrong, Heroine With A Crush, Revenge!, One Sequel Baitin' BFF. 
Me: OK sweetheart, what is it about Clifford that is troubling you?

Lemon Drop: There's just a lot of unanswered questions Auntie Wendy.  What were Emily Elizabeth's parents thinking?  Did they fully grasp how much it would cost, in this economy I might add, to feed a giant dog?  And dear heavens, I hope they had him neutered!  The book is lacking in a number of important details.  And my Mommy is no help at all!  She knows lots of stuff, but she can't tell me if Clifford is going to populate the world with giant red dogs that will undoubtedly start running amok!

Me: Oh honey, Clifford was "born" in 1963.  Since dogs generally don't live to be 48 years old, and there are no news reports out there about a pack of giant red dogs - I think it's safe to say Clifford was neutered.  And I'm sure Emily Elizabeth's parents were independently wealthy.

Lemon Drop: Whoa, whoa, whoa - wait a minute.....Clifford is dead?!?!?!

Me: Sigh.  I should just start saving up for your therapy bills now.


JamiSings said...

Oh no, Lemon Drop. Clifford, being fictional, lives forever in the hearts and minds of all the little children who grew up on him. Also in the cartoons on PBS.

And Wendy - Vikings, ug. I went on a trip to New York last month and bought some stuff from the friends, including two romance novels involving vikings. Both were awful. And the cover model on one (Bewitched Viking) was so incredibly ugly. I mean, he was bucktoothed! I swear! I never want to read another viking romance. Not even if he's a vampire viking who likes disco music, Star Trek, and comic books.

nath said...

LOL, another cutesy picture of Lemon Drop! Love Clifford :)

And ouch Wendy, sounds like you had a hard reading month ^_^;

Hannah said...

LOL at "Ye Olde Hunky Vampire Brothers"!
The Undone series are not short stories, they're novellas. Or so I say because I'm going to read one (Wanton of the West) for the TBR Challenge tomorrow! I couldn't get into the other westerns I have in my TBR pile for some reason.

lisabea said...

Clifford is dead!!


Sarah said...

Breaking hearts everywhere Lemon Drop! Or suffering from a broken heart yourself with the death of Clifford. LOVE!

Lil Sis said...

I'd be scared if Clifford ever tried to "hump" my leg. :) Heheh. I'll have to grab of pic of her and the Caps for Sale book - just think of the conversation you could have about that one! :)

Liza said...

Lemon Drop, Clifford is alive and well. He just never met the right girl dog, so he has no puppies.

Wendy said...

Jami: I knew Clifford had been around a long time, but I was still surpised to see he was born in the early '60s.

And I'm guessing you read Sandra Hill? Yeah, I don't "do" funny ha-ha Vikings. Or funny ha-ha books in general unless they're cozy mysteries. Only "serious" Vikings need apply ;)

Nath: It was not the best month. I whined about it quite a bit on Twitter.

Hannah: Hey, it's in your TBR so it counts! My unscientific definition is novellas = 100 pages, short stories = 50 or less.

Lisabea: Actually, Clifford might be immortal. OMG - Clifford is a vampire dog?!?!

Sarah: Couldn't resist looking at the board books at my local Borders' closing sale. Lemon Drop got Clifford and Caps For Sale.

Lil' Sis: She'll probably be scarred for life thinking monkeys are going to swoop in and steal her caps.

Liza: Poor Clifford, unlucky in love - LOL

JamiSings said...

I can't remember the author. I just bought a bunch of 25 cent each books from the Friends so if I left them on the plane or the hotel room, it wouldn't be a big loss.

I ended up leaving it in a place called Shake Shack. (Horrible food but my niece wanted to go.) Put a note in it about how it was the worse romance novel I ever read and remarked on how ugly the cover model was. I hope whomever picked it up at least got a kick out of that.