December Book Reviews

Another month down, another set of books! December has typically been the month that I read a lot of long stuff – mostly because I always end up having to take vacation time around Christmas, or risk losing it. This year, it seems that December is all about fluff reads. I love my fluff reads, but I harbor no illusions that I’m reading “quality” fiction. I’m perfectly fine with that – fluff reads are kind of essential, because what better way to escape for a while?

Ratings

I use the Goodreads rating scale of 1-5 stars. I know sometimes it’s hard to stick to only 5 options…lots of times we want half stars!! But, half stars make things messy. My ratings tend to be on the somewhat conservative side, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that a 3 star rating doesn’t mean a book is bad. Generally, I choose books that I expect to enjoy (don’t we all?). If I do enjoy them, then they’ve met my expectations…so I give them a 3. Anything lower than 3 didn’t live up to my expectations, and anything above 3 exceeded them. I’m generally not looking for certain writing styles or plot lines or technical aspects. If something stands out (for good or bad), I’ll comment on it, but in general technical aspects won’t be the sole influencer on my rating.

Any questions on my ratings? If so, just ask, and I’ll try to clarify!

And now, on to the books!!!

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

3 starsI’m a little torn in my ratings of these books. I don’t think they’re 4-stars, but I do enjoy them, and sort of feel like 3 isn’t quite enough. Sigh. Anyway! After reading the first book, Jimmie convinced me to watch the TV show….I’d been avoiding it because once upon a time I happened to see the breastfeeding scene and the whole thing really turned me off. Shrug. When I finished the first book though, I was convinced that that was a very minor part, so gave it another shot. I’m glad I did, because I really enjoy the show, and it convinced me to keep reading the series.

There were parts of Clash of Kings that I liked better than Game of Thrones, and parts I didn’t. I do think that the TV show complements the books really well – Martin isn’t a great action writer (in my opinion), so a lot of the battle scenes are somewhat dull in the books. The show gives those life. On the flip side, he’s an excellent character writer, and out of necessity there are a lot of nuances that get left out of the show. I think you could easily take one without the other, but why would you?

And in case you’re wondering, yeah, these are tough. They take a while to read, but they’re enjoyable. I do need a break between them, though!

A Little Something Different

5 starsI adored this book. Absolutely adored it. I read it in one sitting, in about 2 hours. It’s a little hard to find – you pretty much have to order it online – but absolutely worth the trouble. The premise is that Gabe and Lea are two college kids, and everyone in their lives thinks they need to date because they have incredible chemistry. The story is told entirely from the point of view of other characters – you never hear directly from Lea and Gabe.

At first, I was a little worried it was going to be annoying, because the first several chapters are pretty much the same thing. So and so sees Gabe and Lea and thinks they’d be perfect together. After about 20-30 pages, though, the book totally sucked me in. 100%. (Actually, I think it was around the time that I read the squirrel’s first chapter….yes, one of the POV is that of a squirrel. It works. Trust me.)

The story is adorable, the characters are likeable enough, and the writing technique is unique enough to keep you hooked. Plus, I finally learned what it means to “ship them”…..when you want two people to be in a relationship. I’d heard it before but never bothered to look it up. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

I loved it, but I also think this is a great teen book if you’ve got any young readers in your life!

Hounding the Pavement (Dog Walker Mysteries, #1)

3 starsI saw this in the bookstore, and immediately snatched it up – this is the first in a cozy mystery series ALL ABOUT DOGS. Winner. I really enjoyed the characters, and the communication between Ellie and the dogs. The one thing that did drive me nuts though was Ellie’s insistence on not telling anyone about her ability! A good cozy mystery, and I’ll definitely continue the series.

luckyharbor1-3

3 starsI decided to group these together, because they’re the first 3 books of the Lucky Harbor series, and because I read them all back to back, and because the things I have to say about them are pretty much the same.

I read Jill Shalvis’ Animal Magnetism series a couple months ago, and really liked them, but by the third book I felt they were all pretty much the same. Because of that, I was a little hesitant to read the Lucky Harbor series, even though I like her writing style. I realize that makes no sense. I get that authors use formulas, and when they find something that works they stick with it. And to a point that’s fine, but it can be a very fine line between formula and same damn story with different character names (Cassandra Clare, anyone?). The Animal Magnetism series stepped just over the line into same damn story, and it sucked.

With this series, Shalvis has done a great job keeping on the good side of that line. The three female characters are sisters, and yeah, each of them has reasons why she isn’t interested in a relationship. The men also share some similarities, but they’re different enough that it works. I also like the fact that Shalvis keeps her characters around – so you still get to hear about the characters you fell in love with from the first book, and so on.

If you’re looking for feel-good romances, these are definitely what you’re looking for. I’m interested to see what the next book is like, since it’s not following the sisters anymore!

The Secret of Happy Ever After

2 starsThis is the second Lucy Dillon book I’ve read. I’ve wanted to love both of them, but the first one fell short, and this one was even worse. It follows Michelle and Anna as they open a bookstore. Michelle is a bitch and has issues with everyone – men, women, children, dogs. Anna is a complete idiot who thinks it’s perfectly fine to stop taking her birth control because she and her husband agreed four years ago that they’d start trying to have a baby on their fourth anniversary. Honestly, the best part of the book was Pongo the Dalmation. I kept reading because I was on a plane, but I don’t know that I’ll pick up another one of hers again.

After the Rain

2 starsI went back and forth on this one. At times, I felt it was worth 3 stars. Other times, I was leaning towards 2. This is one of those rare books that actually would have benefited from half stars, but oh well. I’m not even sure what to call this. Romance, I suppose, though nothing like the other romances on this list. It had moments of greatness. There were passages every so often, where it seemed like Carlino just randomly became a great writer. There were thought-provoking comments on life and love and growing up. And then there was the rest of it.

Ava was annoying at the very least. She struck me as a little too….pathetic? I never understood Nate’s attraction to her, or his desire to take care of her. She fell apart all the time, and she had some major misplaced guilt issues. As for Nate, I actually didn’t mind him – though I had to keep reminding myself that he was 29, and not 19. What bugged me most about him was how he was all wonderful and caring and then all of a sudden he’d get horny and couldn’t seem to say anything other than “I want you.” Complete 180. After the third time, I stopped caring whether the two of them ever got together. Worth a read? Maybe? There are certainly better things out there….

Book of the MonthNo surprise here! Lots of fun ones, but nothing can compare to:

 A Little Something Different

What books did you read this month? Any keepers?

5 comments

  1. Nice blog! I read Jill Shalvis too….waiting on the most current one in the Lucky Harbor series from the library. I also wanted a little more from the animal mag series.
    Read the Fire and Series a few years ago too. I will have to check the other books you mentioned in this post!

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