Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monthly Reads: April 2012

Over the week-end, I was thinking the blogland was in a lull once again. Today, I came back home from work and there were 27 posts waiting in my Google Reader... In a couple of hours, that's not bad. It seems everyone has decided to post today :) And I won't be left behind!

So here is what I read in April:


1) About that Night by Julie James: B

2) Just Down the Road by Jodi Thomas: B+

3) Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire: C+

4) Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman: D

5) I Want Candy by Susan Donovan: C+

6) Flirting with Intent by Kelly Hunter: B-

7) We'll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart: C+

8) I'd Tell You I Love You, But I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter: B-


9) Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter: C

It's the start of a new semester at Gallagher Academy and the girls are in for a surprise. The first mission in their Covert Operations class takes place in at the Jeffersonian museum in Washington D.C. and it is to make it to a certain display at a given time, without being tailed. Unfortunately for Cammie, she trusted the wrong person and failed miserably. However, she does confirm the existence of the male counterpart of Gallagher Academy: Blackthorne. And for the first time in history, the two academies are going to work together... which explains the presence of Zach - the boy whom she trusted in Washinton, at the academy. The more she interacts with Zach, the more Cammie feels something fishy is going on... and with her friends, she decides to put into practice the skills they learned to find out what.

I picked this right up after reading I'd Tell You I Love You, But I'd Have to Kill You. Why not right? Since the story and world would still be fresh in my mind :) While Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy was still a fun book, I thought it wasn't as good as I'd Tell You I Love You, But I'd Have to Kill You. One reason is I thought there was a bit too much moping from Cammie since her relationship with Josh came to an end. Then, there was the new love interest introduced: Zach. In this case, because she's not over Josh, it felt very much like a love triangle which I really dislike ^_^; Also, Cammie is a character who needs to have the upper hand and knowing that Zach knows something she doesn't, she doesn't feel secure. As a result, she questions Zach's action and motives a lot. Obviously, it doesn't help that Zach is indeed keeping some stuff away from her ^_^; And what really hurt Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy in my opinion was the fact that it didn't really have an overall plot. Li said on Goodreads that it lacked substance and I agree with her. Ms Carter got away in  I'd Tell You I Love You, But I'd Have to Kill You because she was setting up the series, so there was a lot of world building... but it wasn't the case in Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy and it impacted the enjoyment a lot.

Still, as I said, the book was fun. I did like the friendship between the girls and the test at the end was entertaining. I still wonder if the Code Black breach was part of the test or not... Also, I liked that there are people able to get the upper hands on Cammie and her friends when it comes to spying or uncover their spying :P It makes it realistic and more balanced. In any case, I was still interested enough to read the next book :)


10) Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter: C+

It's summer and Cammie is visiting one of her roommate, Macey McHenry, in Boston. Actually, Macey is on the presidential campaign as her father, Senator McHenry, has accepted the nomination for vice-president and she wanted company. During the visit, Cammie and Macey thwarted a kidnapping attempt... and for the first time, Cammie is confront with the reality that despite all her training, there are things that she cannot do. When school starts again, Macey is back to Gallagher Academy, but this time, with a bodyguard from Secret Service... who turns out to be Cammie's aunt Abby. However, Macey is still expected to participate to the campaign and that means doing brief appearances at several events. Cammie has seen how Macey's father's political aspirations is stifling her life. However, what concerns Cammie most is the kidnapping attempt and she worries Macey is still in danger. Therefore, Cammie and her friends decide to take matters into their hands.

I was really looking forward to Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, because based on the blurb, I thought the setting was going to be different than the two previous books, not taking place at school. I was wrong, but Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover still turned out to be an enjoyable read.

I thought the first part of Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover was very good and solid. I liked the electoral campaign, it was a good backdrop for the story and it fits the concept of this series: being secretive, acting discreetly and not getting noticed :P Also, the influx of new blood - Cammie's aunt and geeky boy Preston who is Macey's counterpart - is a good move on Ms Carter's part too. I also think the plot in Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover was the most interesting thus far in the series and that we're finally getting somewhere with the overall storyline of the series. The best part though, what makes the book for me, is the deepening friendship between Cammie and Macey :) It's nice to see the evolution of their friendship and some development of the secondary characters. Hopefully, Liz and Bex get the same treatment :)

The reason Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover is not getting a higher grade though is that while they are improvement on several fronts, others are getting old and predictable. For example, the whole snooping around is getting old and how Cammie can so easily sneak out of the academy. I know that's the basis of the series given that Cammie and her friends are spies in training, but it feels very repetitive. Also, the whole Zach thing is getting old as well. Cammie's wishy-washy attitude towards him: is he a good or bad guy, is he interesting in her or not and the fact that he knows more than her and she kind of resents him for that ^_^; Also, what bothers me is that I find it arrogant that Cammie and her friends thought they could protect their friend better than the pros. It stems from a good heart, but you really think you can do better when you don't have all the facts? I feel their just stumbling around like an elephant in a china store and perhaps making things worst instead of aiding.

While I enjoyed Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover more than the previous installment, I found that I needed a break from the series... and have yet to pick up the next book.


11) Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins: C+

12) Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg: A-

13) The Witness by Nora Roberts: A-

14) The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan: B

15) Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have) by Sarah Mlynowski: B-

16) Hunting Kat by Kelley Armstrong: B-
Upcoming review to come.


17) The Calling by Kelley Armstrong: B-
Upcoming review to come.


18) Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford: C-

The Sullivans family is a well-off family, but their wealth relies on the matriarch, Arden Louisa Norris Sullivan Weems Maguire Hightower Beckendorf, and unfortunately, someone has displeased her. As a consequence, she demands a written apology by New Year or else, she's disinheriting the whole family. The problem is the family has no idea who have displeased Almighty Lou, but they guess it's one of the girls. So each writes their own letter, confessing their sins. First you have Norrie who fell in love with a guy 8 years her senior and ran out to him on the night of the Bachelors Cotillon which is basically her introduction to society. Then there's Jane who got into a feud with her best friend and has taken to blogging - revealing all the family dark secrets... and finally Sassy who believes she has accidentally murdered her step-grandfather.

I got this book through a contest over at RT and was really looking forward to it for some reasons... but once I got it, it languished in my TBR pile. Having read it now, well I wouldn't have minded if it languished in the TBR pile a bit more ^_^; I think the problem is I was expecting something a bit more fun based on the cover and Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters wasn't. Basically, the book is divided into 3 parts, each narrated by one sister retelling what happened. Overall, I thought the writing was good, but the problem was the story. First, the book was too short to contain 3 POVs and as a result, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters lacked some depth in my opinion. It would have been a lot better if Ms Standiford had focused on one story. My favorite was Norrie's, probably because it was the most mature and romantic. I thought Jane's story was passable, but Sassy's was pointless. Seriously, I could have done without.

While Norrie's story was my favorite, I do question the relationship between a 17 years old woman and a 25 years old man. I'm not saying that it's bad or anything... I just wonder if a 25 years old guy would really be interested in such a young woman for an invested relationship. I think this might have worked better for me if the man was a tad younger.

Book-wise, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters was definitively not the best YA I've read. Far from it. Based on the story, I think I would have given it a D. However, it got upgraded to C- because I did like Norrie's story and I really enjoyed the family dynamics, especially the siblings complicity :)

***

Balance
Books bought: + 10
Books read: -18
TBR pile: -8

Genre
Category Romance – 2
Contemporary Romance – 4
Fiction – 1
Romantic Suspense – 1
Urban Fantasy – 1
YA – 9

***

Sigh, time goes by so fast! It's almost the end of May and I forgot how awesome a month April has been! I'm really happy with my numbers :) 18 books is a great number and I reviewed almost all of it! Unbelievable. Seriously, that would have been impossible last year. As months pass, I'm really tickled with my Week-End's Minis feature :)

Reading-wise, I think the month was very balanced :) I had some really great reads - hey 2 As in there!  Those are rare for me LOL. There were also some duds, but they happen and didn't really dominate the month for me, so that's a good thing :) Really, thinking back, I have to say April was a really good month. I was looking forward to many new releases and they all delivered! :)

I also really like the negative number in the TBR :) Another thing I'm doing great at this year. I realized today that I have not been running after new releases as much as previous years either. It feels unnatural at times and good at others LOL.

Also, I think the surprise is the number of YA I've read last month... I feel I've been burning out on a lot of genres lately and therefore, fell back on YA. Even though it's really the same genres that I read usually - contemporary and urban fantasy - the fact that it's a younger set of characters does make a difference LOL.

All in all, April turned out to be a really good month :) What do you think?

7 comments:

  1. It seems you got a great month!!
    :D
    Thanks for the mini reviews :)

    I know what you mean about the gallagher girls books, sometimes you just need to walk away :P

    Good luck! with next month.

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  2. Great reading month, Nath. I also had a good April... it's all those new releases. I think. We share the same grades for a few reads, yay! But I think overall this has been a great year so far for keeping up with reading and reviewing for both us? I'm also keeping up with my reads so far... :)

    I can't wait for your May update. *g*

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  3. 18 is awesome!

    I'm the opposite of you & burned out on YA. After trying a few from the tbr pile I've decided not to force it.

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  4. Looks like April was a great month for you! I'm impressed with how many reviews you did! Makes me feel lazy. ;)

    Can't wait to see your reviews for the Kelley Armstrong books!

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  5. Alex - It was a great month of April. Too bad May wasn't as good...

    No problem about the minis :P I'm definitively going to go back to the Gallagher Girls series... Just not soon :P

    Hilcia - Thanks Hils :) Exactly, that's what fuels my motor, new releases :P

    I know right? It's amazing... although I don't know how long I'm going to last ^_^; I already feel the ball dropping :(

    Ha, month of May... In a couple of weeks :P

    Samantha - Oh I hear you on the laziness Samantha. I hear you...

    I'll try to review The Calling soon. I was planning last week, but it didn't happen ^_^;

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  6. Eon... *cries*

    LOL j/k

    I'm STILL on the holds list at the library for Roberts' The Witness. I should just buy it already. Gah!

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  7. Christine - LOL, it happens to all your favorite books :)

    Ha, well it depends. If you're planning on that trip with the girls, just wait it out :) Soon, soon!

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