More of What I Read Last Year

One dud, but overall the first half of last Sept was a pretty good reading month for me.  As always, reviews were originally posted on Goodreads – additional comments in italics below.

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Loose Ends (Steele Street, #11)Loose Ends by Tara Janzen (romantic suspense)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know, I surprised myself when I ended up buying LOOSE ENDS. I loved the first few books in the Steele Street series, then some head-spinning WTF plots in the following books meant that I stopped buying them a few years ago. But having discovered this was the final Steele Street book, I found myself intrigued as to how Tara Janzen would wrap up the series and welcome home the (missing, presumed dead) final member of the crew.

There are paranormal elements, so be warned, this isn’t a straight contemporary romantic suspense (which is a shame, because the SF-ish twists didn’t really work for me). But in the end, I enjoyed this, though readers that have followed the entire series would probably have found LOOSE ENDS more satisfying than I did.

Tara Janzen has a knack for writing male dialogue that has this authentic ring to it and even though it has been years, I loved seeing Superman, Kid Chronopolous & the rest of the Steele Street special ops team back together again. The cars, well ahhh… I’m not into cars by any means (I’m happy as long as they get me from A to B), but the passion Janzen (and her characters) had for them added a fun and sexy dimension to the story.

One of my very first reviews on this blog (all the way back in 2007) was for Tara Janzen‘s CRAZY SWEET (no, I didn’t care for it).  So this was a slightly nostalgic read for me and I’m glad the series ended on a decent note.

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PreyPrey by Linda Howard

My rating: 1 of 5 stars (romantic suspense)

I’ve loved some of Linda Howard’s backlist, which is probably why I’m still reading her recent releases. But this was just boring. I’m normally a fan of survival/wilderness stories, but I skimmed a lot in this one – neither the plot nor the characters captured my attention. And when we got the POV of the bear… oh dear.

I borrowed this from the library – thank goodness.  I keep on picking up her new releases just in case the magic of her earlier books makes a reappearance, but I have generally been disappointed. 

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Mummy Dearest (The XOXO Files, #1)Mummy Dearest by Josh Lanyon (m/m romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t fall in love with this novella. Don’t get me wrong, I finished it in one sitting (it’s a Lanyon after all!), but the story was too short for me to connect with the h/h. Having said that, I loved the writing as always, and I’d definitely read more books in this series.

Josh Lanyon is an autobuy author for me, but this one wasn’t one of my favourites.  

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Lola and the Boy Next DoorLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Is that enough?

After the wonderful surprise that was Anna and the French Kiss, I was doing my best to temper my expectations. And it helped that the back cover copy didn’t exactly make me want to rush out and buy LOLA.

But Lola herself was a intriguing mix of insecurities and confidence, and before I knew it, I was caught up in her story. I loved how Stephanie Perkins integrated Lola’s love of costumes into her personality. Cricket was really sweet and lovable, so nice(!) – which, you know, isn’t exactly the norm for a romantic lead. But it worked – totally. I was rooting for them as they fumbled their way back together. The positive depiction of non-traditional families was a lovely unexpected plus, and the San Francisco setting made me want to go and visit. And oh, I did a slight squee as Anna and St Clair made an appearance – it was really interesting seeing them again, and this time from someone else’s perspective. Very cool.

I think the difference between ANNA and LOLA was that I could identify with Anna’s experience – Lola’s was slightly more distancing for me. But I loved every minute of reading this, and all I can say is bring on the third book, Isla and the Happily Ever After.

This was one of my favourite books of 2011.  Stephanie Perkins’ books are amongst the best that the YA romance genre offers, IMO.

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Dead Run (Dangerous Ground #4)Dead Run by Josh Lanyon (m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adrien English will always be my all-time favourite Josh Lanyon series, but I have to say Dangerous Ground is rapidly making up ground on the AE books. I am dying to see where this series is going – or rather, when and how Will and Taylor get their HEA.

The Paris setting intruded slightly (a bit of a travelogue at times?), but the characters were beautifully drawn and leapt off the page. It’s sort of painful because Will and Taylor are fumbling around in their still new-ish relationship and hurting each other, sometimes on purpose but more often than not by accident. You just want to shake them at times. Possibly Will more than Taylor. But you know, I’ve a feeling the final pay-off will be worth it. <spoiler – highlight to read>I’m a sucker for the amnesia trope and I loved how this was played out in DEAD RUN. </spoiler>

I just want more.

Ah, the angst.  I love Will and Taylor.

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8 thoughts on “More of What I Read Last Year

  1. Hey Li!

    Interesting, I had to go and check quickly what Mummy Dearest was all about to remember the story! I agree with you… good writing as always, but obviously a forgettable story. Dangerous Ground… hmm… I read one story that I wasn’t thrilled with, and I haven’t continued reading the series. Maybe I should give it a shot? I still have a few backlist books in my TBR, but have read most it by now, and am still loving Lanyon.

    I bought Lola and The Boy Next Door when it released and it’s still in my TBR. It’s those YA romances… I’m not a big fan. 😦 I must give it a shot, though.

    • Yes, I had to do the same too! Do you know which DG story you read? I loved the first Taylor/Will short story/novella I read, and was really happy when Josh Lanyon decided to continue writing about them.

      Have you read Stephanie Perkins’ ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS as well? I’m torn as to which I like better – I think I actually gave LOLA a higher rating than ANNA, but ANNA is the one that has stayed in my mind longer. Though it could just be that St Clair…

  2. Awww, that’s really too bad about the Linda Howard. I did not read it and wasn’t sure whether or not to. I think everyone felt the same way when they realize the bear was having a POV LOL. It hurts when an author you love is not writing books you love 😦

    I actually preferred Lola and the Boy Next Door. Somehow, I thought Etienne was more likable in that book 🙂 I loved the unusual family situation Lola was and the costumes and all that. Though Lola sometimes got on my nerves a bit.

    Looking forward to see what else you’ve read that month.

    • I don’t think you missed anything by skipping PREY! Not one I would recommend. I am sometimes tempted to do a re-read of Linda Howard’s backlist – then I think of all the books in my TBR…

      Interesting that you preferred LOLA to ANNA. It was really different seeing Etienne and Anna from someone else’s perspective. And I loved how Stephanie Perkins tied Lola’s costumes to her moods, but I think my inner teenage self identified more with Anna 😉

  3. I stopped reading the Tara Jenzen series after the first few books too. Its kinda odd that the last book in the series has paranormal aspects though. Don’t know if I like her throwing that element into the very last novel.

    Linda Howard is a pretty big hit or miss for me. Its kinda funny that she gives the POV of the bear. It works in books like Jaws, but I can’t imagine Howard being able to pull it off without those scenes feeling ridiculous.

    • I would have much preferred the Tara Janzen book if it had been left as straight contemporary, but it was one of the better ones, IMO. The first few books are still the best.

      And the Linda Howard bear POV was just weird.

  4. I like seeing how much you enjoyed the Perkins YA romances. I have always been a big YA reader, but lately .. I add them to my tbr wish list, bring them home from the library, but then can’t find the inspiration to read them. I think I’m preferring the fantasy YA because the age factors are a little more transparent.

    • I know what you mean – I take a break from YA every now and again, but will always make an exception for Stephanie Perkins! I have to say ANNA was a bit of a nostalgic read for me, especially the college/boarding element.

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