Monday, December 29, 2008

What sets me apart...

So how's everyone's holidays going? Mine is all right... Perhaps not very festive, but I'm resting, reading and eating. What more can I ask? Although I'm at work right now at the moment... but then, lots of incubation times, so I'm not working very hard... hehe. Also having fun watching the Top Gear special in Vietnam :D

Anyway, so guess what I'm going to review today? Two books...

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann and Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

LOL, I can feel some of the disbelief the bloggers who know me well feel :P LOL... Okay, so here's the deal... Most of the time, I agree with blogland and enjoy the same authors that everyone loves... Robyn Carr, Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts and etc. However, there are a few authors that are really hugely popular with long-standing series whose books I just don't enjoy... Among them, Suzanne Brockmann and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I tried and tried, but just don't seem to enjoy them as much as my fellow bloggers.

So why try again? Well two of my favorite bloggers have recently reviewed Into the Fire - Ames and Jill. So when I saw it at the library, I picked it up... As for Heaven, Texas... Again, Jill has reviewed it not too long ago and she got quite a lot of comments from bloggers who all seem to enjoy it immensely, so I picked it up at the library as well. See, my library is not totally hopeless... ^_^;

So here is what I thought of both books...

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann
published by Random House in July 2008 (HC)

Vinh Murphy–ex-Marine and onetime operative for the elite security firm Troubleshooters Incorporated–has been MIA ever since his wife, Angelina, was caught in a crossfire and killed during what should have been a routine bodyguard assignment. Overcome with grief, Murphy blames the neo-Nazi group known as the Freedom Network for her death. Now, years later, Freedom Network leader Tim Ebersole has been murdered–and the FBI suspects Murphy may have pulled the trigger. To prevent further bloodshed, Murphy’s friends at Troubleshooters scramble to find him and convince him to surrender peacefully.

Murphy himself can’t be sure what he did or didn’t do during the years he spent mourning and lost in an alcohol-induced fog. He does know he occasionally sought solace from Hannah Whitfield, a former police officer and the very friend who’d introduced him to his beloved late wife.

But Hannah, still grappling with the deafness that resulted from an injury sustained while on duty, was fighting her own battles. For years Hannah had feelings for Murphy, and one painful night their suffering brought them together in a way neither expected–and both regretted.

Murphy is ready to rejoin the living. As always, he finds himself knocking on Hannah’s door, and as always, his longtime friend welcomes him back into her home. Yet even as Murphy slowly rebuilds his splintered life, he continues to fight his growing feelings for Hannah.

Then he learns of Ebersole’s murder and comes to believe that the Freedom Network has targeted him–and Hannah–to avenge their leader’s death to violence. Now Murphy must face the terrifying prospect of losing another woman he loves.

As the Troubleshooters desperately search for him, Murphy races toward a deadly confrontation with the Freedom Network and ultimate choice: surrender his life in hopes that Hannah will be spared, or risk everything to salvage whatever future they may have together.

Genre: romantic suspense, army/Navy
Series: Troubleshooters, book #13

I won't go too much into the story, because 1) it's really a complex story and 2) the back blurb probably does a better job than I would.

My Opinion: So what did I think of Into the Fire? Quite frankly, I had difficulty following everything that happened. I have read a few books in the series, here and there, the last one being Into the Storm, and I was a bit confused. Lots of the early characters are mentioned but don't appear and then, there's this whole new cast... It feels like I was reading Troubleshooters - the New Generation, LOL :)

Again, Ms Brockmann continues to have many plot lines at the same time... however, it didn't annoy me as much as the other books. I was most interested in Murphy and Hannah's romance and to some degree, Izzy. Didn't care much about the Troubleshooters/ex-CIA agents business.

I liked Murphy and Hannah. What happened to them was quite tragic - Murphy losing his wife and Hannah's car accident which affected her life greatly. The fact that both were in love with each other years ago, but never moved toward each other, letting life lead them in other directions... that was quite sad. I'm glad they had a second chance. Although I liked both characters, I felt like we didn't have enough background on either, especially Hannah. Where were her parents? Why was she raised by her uncle? In addition, I felt like their relationship was quite rushed due to the other plot lines. It was also stupid from Murphy not to admit his feelings for Hannah... after all they went through. What if he never had the chances to talk to her afterwards? What if she died before he could tell her that he loved her and that he lied previously? He would have felt guilty the rest of his life and regret it so much. Finally, I thought that Ms Brockmann didn't handle the pacing quite well. As I said, Murphy and Hannah's relationship felt rushed... I felt they didn't spend enough time together really talking... there weren't many sweet moments either. I think that would help.

As for Izzy... he was a great character and I have to agree with Ames and Jill... He deserves better than 18 y.o. Eden. I mean, perhaps if Eden was more mature then their relationship and interaction would have work better.... However, that's not the case. Eden's life is screwed up... and Izzy is left picking up the pieces and trying to put them together. It felt more like he was baby-sitting Eden than "having a relationship" with her.

All in all, the book was okay. I didn't dislike it as much as the previous books I've read, but I didn't fall in love with the series. I'm not going to grade this book though, because I think it would be unfair. Me coming in the middle of the series where it's obvious that I should have read some other books beforehand to enjoy it more.

Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
published by Avon in April 1995
Come heck or high water, Gracie Snow is determined to drag the legendary ex-jock Bobby Tom Denton back home to Heaven, Texas, to begin shooting his first motion picture. Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby Tom has reservations about being a movie star -- and no plans to cooperate with a prim and bossy Ohio wallflower whom he can't get off his mind or out of his life. Instead, the hell-raising playboy decides to make her over from plain Jane to Texas wildcat.

But nothing's more dangerous than a wildcat with an angel's heart in a town too small for a bad boy to hide. And all hell breaks loose when two unforgettable people discover love, laughter, passion -- and a match that can only be made in Heaven.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Chicago Stars, Book #2

Again, I'm going to skip the story summary. I don't feel like I could do a good job.

My Opinion: Okay, I'm going to admit, I did skip a bit of this book. I skip the part where Grace went to Bobby Tom's house during a party and was mistaken for a strip-teaser... then, I did skip bits here and there, but I don't think it affected my understanding of the book... and the reason I skip parts? Bobby Tom.

For the life of me, I just couldn't stand Bobby Tom. I thought he was immature, arrogant and condescending. Yes, he did have some layers to him, but not enough for me to like him. Gosh, I know he was a jock, but seriously!! I couldn't find anything in him to like. The last scene where he screams at Grace after she's refused his proposal... that was just ugly and hurtful. I don't get why Grace didn't make him grovel more... (well, okay, he did break out of jail, but I still think she forgave him way too easily).

The rest of the book didn't have much of an impact on me. I felt meh reading this. I didn't relate to Grace, didn't find the subplot about Bobby Tom's mother and the bad guy in town very interesting either.

Overall, didn't really like this book and again, I won't be rushing to read the rest of the series :(

My Grade: Better than a DNF, but meh... didn't like it much... so, hmmm, D. Of course, that's just me and there's tons of people out there who loved this book :)


  1. Doesn't it suck when you read a book because so many people loved it, and then you end up not liking it or giving it a DNF?

    That happened to me with a few hyped up blog land books.

  2. Oh my gosh, I think I just found my romance reading twin!

    Heaven Texas was so offensive, I can't believe anybody likes it.

    And I just read a Brockmann and it did very little for me.

  3. I didn't like this book too much either. The ice cream part was the only part I enjoyed, the secondary romance was better then the main characters and he was not alpha, just verbally abusive!

  4. I haven't read the SEP book, but enjoyed "Into the Fire".

    Totally agree that it's not one for newcomers to the series because of the large cast of characters, though.

  5. Seneca - Well you know, that's life and proof that everyone has different taste. However, it's just weird sometimes that everyone likes it except for me LOL :) Makes me wonder what I'm missing.

    Jessica - Yay!!! I really thought I was the only one! LOL :)

    Cindy W - I have to admit I was surprised by Bobby Tom. I was expecting a jock, but I guess more mature. I mean, there's a difference between mature arrogance - knowing you're the best, and simply arrogance...

    Li - Glad you enjoyed Into the Fire :) and yeah, probably my fault for just picking this one up out of the blues.

  6. Yeah, I'm still scratching my head over Twilight.

  7. The way Bobby Tom treated Gracie pissed me off to no end. But I was cheering when the jackass crawled on his hands and knees for forgiveness.

  8. I think Heave, Texas was one of her worst books in that series. I have never understood the appeal. Hmm, actually I think Nobody's Baby But Mine was worse. LOL

    And for SB? Well, we all know how I feel about her...:P

    Sorry you didn't enjoy these, babe. Life is too short to waste time reading bad books. ;)

  9. Seneca - LOL :D you and me :D

    Katiebabs - I'm glad that it's not just me. I was really surprised... I mean, I sure didn't expect that scene! I still think him crawling wasn't enough. I mean, what he said was really mean and hurting.

    Holly - I read Nobody's Baby but Mine but don't remember much... however, I think this one was worst :D

    Actually, no, I don't think I know how you feel about SB :P How do you feel? LOL :)

  10. 1. How does Holly feel about Brockmann? Why don't I know? Bad Cindy.

    2. I've never understood the love of SEP although the circus one wasn't horrible. I find her heroes to be assholes and they never quite come out of it. And don't quote me but is Nobody's Baby But Mine the one where the heroine has sex to get knocked up and then when she's pregnant she doesn't tell the guy? I just remember being repulsed by the characters.

    3. I'm actually going to start back with Brockmann now that she is a few books ahead of me - so does this Izzy guy get a book of his own or no?


  11. Cindy

    1. I agree with you. Under what rock was I when she expressed her opinion?

    2. I read a few of hers, but none of them I really loved.

    and yes, I think you got it right for Nobody's Baby but Mine. I think she had sex with a jock so the baby could have some good genes (like be athletic).

    3. No idea LOL :) Probably, but when, that is the question.

  12. You guys really don't know how I feel about SB? Wow, I guess y'all really have been living under a rock...

    Let me just sum it up buy saying, "Blech".


  13. Nath, Oh, jeez, I am so sorry you didn't like it. I guess it just goes to show everybody has different tastes. I loved Bobby Tome. I liked that he was completely out of his element around Grace. I guess I felt where he was coming from when Grace rejected him and I was glad that she did it too. I wanted him to hit rock bottom and feel what it felt like to get rejected. He needed to know that life was not all peaches and cream. But hey, if you didn't like him to begin with, it would be hard for him to redeem himself. I know I have felt like that with other books. Better luck next time, right?

  14. Holly - LOL, when was it? maybe I wasn't a blogger yet.

    Jill - Hey Jill, don't feel bad! I wanted to try these two authors again... you know, just to be sure :) Your reviews just gave me another excuse to try them :)

    I'm kind of amazed at how many people liked Bobby Tom... but then, as we pointed out,e veryone has different tastes :P

  15. No, you were a blogger then. Actually, I say it all the time. Generally in reference to icky Sam Starret who's a whiny, pukey crybaby. (Just wait until Rowena hear's me saying

  16. I think of all the Brockmann's my favorite is Into the Storm. It has a much more "thriller" feel to it, as it's about a serial killer. And if you liked Izzy at all, this is the book that made me LOVE him. :)

    I remember liking Heaven, Texas. It wasn't my favorite but I enjoyed it. I think one of my favorite SEP's are Ain't She Sweet and Lady Be Good (neither of which are in the Chicago Stars Football series...)!

  17. I'm reading this right now. So far it is the first SEP that I am not falling in love with.
    I had forgotten about this review, but the more I read the book, your review came back to me.