Summer Reading 2014

Here in the U.S., today is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. It's a day off for a lot of us, but not for everyone. I'm one of the lucky ones with a 3-day weekend. So I thought I'd visit my blog (hello, poor neglected blog) and reflect on some of the reading I did this summer.

tl;dr version: I re-read a lot. I read a lot of Nora. I even listened to a few audiobooks. I'm not a fan of a recent RITA winner. And is anything NOT a part of a series? New Robin D. Owens--love.


I spent some time re-reading a couple of favorite series. I went back to Mary Balogh's Slightly series and read the whole thing in about 2 weeks time. It was interesting to note that my initial opinions still hold. My favorite by far is the first one, Slightly Married. I really dislike numbers 4 and 5, Slightly Tempted and Slightly Sinful. Most people seem to love Slightly Dangerous the most, but I don't feel the love. I just don't get Christine's appeal as a heroine for Bewcastle.

I also re-read Nora Robert's Born In series. Enjoyable comfort reads and now I have an itch to re-read the Chesapeake Bay series. And that leads me to...


I also wound up reading two of her much older books, River's End (2000) and Public Secrets (1990). I liked them both very much, but loved, loved, loved Public Secrets. That one is a lengthy saga that begins in the 60s and ends in the 80s. I felt myself re-living much of my youth. Coincidentally, the books have some themes in common (public figures, hero cop who is son of detective first investigating a murder, and a murder that takes decades to solve). I did not know that they would feel that similar when I chose to read them. Reading so much by the same author in a short period of time reveals interesting quirks. Nora likes to use the word "completely" a lot. And that leads me to...


So, I've never been one for audiobooks. I am re-thinking that position. I had to make a 20-hour (round trip) drive in August to visit family. Normally I make that trip with someone else in the car. Often my husband does all the driving and I spend my time reading my Kindle. This time I had to go by myself and I knew I needed a book or two to listen to. That's how I ended up with the two NR books mentioned above. That's how I noticed that use of "completely." I wonder what I overlook when I read instead of listen. 

But I did find that listening to a book while I sew is less distracting than having the TV on. I like how productive I can be. And that leads me to...

The RITAs.

When Sarah MacLean won another RITA for best historical I decided to try her books again. I had tried a couple a few years ago and did not finish them. They felt too modern; I like my historicals to be more... well, historical. I had really liked Pamela Clare's Defiant so I was bummed when that one didn't win. Then MacLean won again this year, so I decided to continue my audiobook journey with her RITA-winning series, which I found at my library. I finished A Rogue by Any Other Name and while I found her characters sympathetic, I was not blown away. Right now I'm on One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. I like the heroine, but the whole plot and set-up strikes me as so improbable I'd rather quit reading it. But I want to finish it to see what made No Good Duke Goes Unpunished a winner. I loved The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan and The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas, and really wanted one of them to win this year. Oh well, different strokes and all that. And that leads me to...


There's very little out there these days that isn't part of a series. It's rather exhausting to try and remember details from various series when you read as much as I do. A good author can bring salient points to mind without an info dump. Thank you Jo Goodman, for one of my favorite reads of the summer, In Want of a Wife. I also enjoyed ongoing entries by Nalini Singh (Shield of Winter) and Virginia Kantra (Carolina Man).

I started several new series this summer. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I'm going to highlight only one. Robin D. Owens has a new series out about a woman who can see ghosts and needs to help them over to the other side. I'm not a huge paranormal fan, but I've always loved Owens' Heart Mate books and there are several familiar elements here, including communicating with a pet. This series, though, appears to follow the same couple. I read the first book, Ghost Seer, a few weeks ago. The next one, Ghost Layer, releases tomorrow. These books are set in Denver, and Owens gives a great sense of place. The ghosts in the book are from the late 1800s, so there's a unique blend of western historical/modern Colorado. I'm eager to read the new book. And that leads me to...

Oh Wait, I'm Done.


  1. Oh Phyl! What a great post. We agree. I love, love Slightly Married by Balogh -- and why didn't they choose someone beside Christine? RE: Nora Roberts -- The Born In... is my favorite NR series! Sigh... And River's End? I haven't read that book in years because I don't own it! I don't know what happened to it and haven't replaced it, but I loved that book.

    And, wasn't In Want of a Wife by Goodman great? I really enjoyed the romance in that book. Actually I'm enjoying the series as a whole even though the second book didn't work so well for me. And Shield of Winter was another great read.

    I didn't read any of the RITA winners or nominees from this past year. (I think?) None of the ones you mentioned.

    1. Thanks, Hils! I'm glad you agree :) You know, listening to a book is such a different experience. I think I'd like to get myself copies of both River's End and Public Secrets to read again.

      In re-reading, my RITA paragraph may not have been too clear. MacLean won 2 years in a row. In 2013 she won for the Rogue book, beating Clare's Defiant. This year she won for the Duke book, beating Milan and Thomas. I hadn't read too many nominees either, but after they were announced, I did pick a couple up. Some I still have TBR.

  2. The Jo Goodman has been in the immediate TBR for entirely too long. I really need to get caught up.....


    1. Yeah, you do. This last one was very good.

  3. Hello Phyl! As always, your posts are wonderful to read.
    -> I didn't like Countess Conspiracy as much as you....I wasn't taken by Violet...

    -> Nora Roberts is the author that made me want to read in English and to whom I own my motivation and why I can easily read in English these days. I loooove most her books. My favorite ever is Three Fates.
    Actually, Rivers End I thought a bit boring and Public Secrets is one of the two I really felt like throwing away! I really couldn't like the story at all! I've finished because it's Nora but there wasn't anything in the story I liked much....I think the only one worse is Blue Smoke....I still have 6 or 7 to red so who

    -> Robin D Owens, I've tried one but it wasn't for me, so I didn't read more.

    -> Jo Goodman seems to be a crowd pleaser...I'll have to try one by her.
    Glad to "see" you! Happy reading :)

    1. Great to hear from you S! That is so interesting to hear that NR made you want to read in English. The one thing I didn't say about those two books is that they are light on the romance, especially Public Secrets. They are indeed very different from her other books. I will agree that Blue Smoke isn't a favorite either. Have you read The Witness yet? I loved that book.

      Do try Jo Goodman. Especially if you like angst or emotion. She's so good at writing her characters.

      Happy reading to you as well!

    2. Well until I went to college I only read in Portuguese, my mother language, but I liked English as a subject so it wasn't that difficult, just took time to get used to it. But there was a time I got addicted to Nora's books and after having read everything translated at the time, I just had to get my hands on more. I still remember Honest Illusions was the first full length book I've read in English not for school. It took time and effort but her stories motivated me and I kept going. These days, 95% of what I read is in English. I think motivation is everything and it helped me going on even when I thought it would be too difficult. Now it's easy as a pie, except classics, due to language details, I still read those in Portuguese if I can :)
      Public Secrets and Blue Smoke I found very similar in terms of structure, the time moving forward and so on..I didn't like it much but I did read The Witness and although it had a closer structure, I really loved that one!!
      Also loved mot of her trilogies!! She's my comfort author :) Always special to me!
      Nice talking books :)

    3. That is really interesting. And I can see how a good story would motivate you to keep going. I think I am very spoiled to be a native English speaker. I've never had to work hard like that. Kudos to you!
      Mary Balogh is probably my #1 comfort author, but Nora is right up there with her. Thanks for sharing more about yourself!


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