Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: Destiny's Star by Elizabeth Vaughan

Ugh, I wish this week was going to be better than the last one, but no :( Work sucks, seriously. I barely have time to blog and read. I miss all of you guys!! Here is a quick review, hope you enjoy it!

Destiny's Star by Elizabeth Vaughan
published by Berkley in April 2010
She fell from the sky... Bethral is a warrior, as fierce as she is beautiful. But when she is dropped through a portal to the harsh land of the Plains, she is badly injured and must summon all her strength to save the man she secretly loves.

She didn't fall alone...Ezren Silvertongue is a quick-witted story-teller, a weaver of mesmerizing tales, but a man scarred and banished to the Plains along with Bethral for the rogue magic he possesses but cannot control.

Now they must stand together... In an unforgiving land, Bethral and Ezren are confronted with a civil war and a tribe of warriors who have their own code of honor and their own rules of pleasure and partnership. To stay alive, they must learn new customs, confront their enemies, and conceal Ezren's fiery power...

Genre: fantasy romance
Series: Epic of Palins, Book #3

The Story: Bethral used to be a mercenary, but turned a new leaf after the events of Dagger Star and became the leader of Palins' Queen Gloriana's guard. She's about to set out on a recognition mission, when Ezren's magic goes out of control and literally drops the pair in the Plains, Bethral's maternal lands. With a broken leg, Bethral does not expect to survive, but still want to insure Ezren's security... Luckily for her, the ways of the Plains are changing.

It is in these harsh lands that Bethral and Ezren finally discover the truth about the rogue magic that was forcefully inserted into Ezren. It turns out that this magic belongs to the Plains and was used in the past by the warrior-priests to perform their rituals and healings... in order to reclaim it, they will have to kill the Sacrifice, i.e. Ezren.  Thus, it becomes even more imperative for Bethral and Ezren to return to Palins, no matter how long the journey is. However, they won't be alone as a group of intrepid youths have demanded to accompany them to ensure their safety as their quest to prove their worth.

My Opinion: I really loved Ms Vaughan's Chronicles of the Warlands series and really enjoy her writing. Unfortunately, after the first trilogy, I felt the first two books of Epic of Palins, Dagger Star and White Star, were a bit of a let-down. It had nothing to do with the writing, but the storyline. It felt a bit too typical while Ms Vaughan had wowed us with her imagination and world building in the Chronicles of the Warlands. So to tell the truth, I was a bit wary coming in Destiny's Star... However, it turned out to be the best book of the trilogy and a very fun read :D

Another confession... I wasn't looking forward to Bethral as a heroine either ^_^; I think it has to do with her first apparition in Dagger Star. Bethral was a mercenary and for some reasons, I was under the impression that she was... buff. Perhaps it's her choice of weapon - a mace, but I didn't see her as heroine material... but  Ms Vaughan definitively turned things around :) It turns out that Bethral's mother was from the Plains and thus, Bethral knows the languages and the customs, but never imagined to use the knowledge! Bethral was an interesting heroine because she's different than what we're used. She is tough, quick, can assess the situation with a glance, pragmatic and loyal. Okay, it might sound like I'm describing most kick-ass heroines in urban fantasy, but she's not. She's not savvy or snarky, she simply has this quiet strength that makes her seem almost imperturbable. She isn't very outwardly feminine (her attitude, not her look), but she does have a soft spot for Ezren, the story-teller she rescued.

Ezren was once on the brink of death, sold as a slave and rescued by Bethral. As a result, he doesn't feel like his worthy of her. He might be healthy again, but he's not good enough. His voice is changed, his body is scarred... he'll never be the story-teller he was before. I liked his character because once again, he's unusual. He's not the Lord or the warrior that we're accustomed to. I loved his curious mind always inquiring, trying to pick up the language and stories, soaking up the customs and way of life of the Plains. It was cute to see him baffled and shocked at times LOL.

The romance was a bit subdued and I think the reason is because Ezren and Bethral's relationship has been building up since Dagger Star. All they really needed was to spend time together and just let go of their issues.  I loved the part where Ezren finally realized that in Bethral's eyes, he wasn't less. That she hadn't known the old Ezren and didn't care one bit. Instead, she admired the man that has overcome such adversity.

While I liked Bethral and Ezren, what really made the book for me is that Ms Vaughan transported us back to the Plains. I love this part of Ms Vaughan's world building and was very glad to revisit it. I like the way of thinking of the Plains and their customs and how shocking it seems... when in reality, it's very logical. These people don't have the same society barriers as us and it makes for some fun and interesting scenes. I also liked the fact that Ms Vaughan integrated the events of the Chronicles of Warlands series... changes are coming and so important decisions loom ahead, so how are these people dealing with it. I think it was very clever from Ms Vaughan to introduce the group of youngsters. It showed another facet of the Plains that we have not seen previously and at the same time, it suited well the storyline. I mean these youngsters have fulfilled their required 5 births, they are on the brink of becoming warriors, theas, singers, warrior-priests... and most of them are so excited. They are impetuous and looking forward to a life of adventure... So yes, I really enjoyed discovering the Plains more through new eyes.

I also liked how Ms Vaughan tied Destiny's Star with the Chronicles of Warlands series. Not just the mention of Keir and Xylara, but also the warrior-priests element - it was quite interesting. It says that they lost the magic for 10 generations already and has been keeping it a secret. This explains the segregation between warrior-priests and the rest of the Plains people... I'm really looking forward to see how they are going to change now that they've regained their magic :D 

While I really enjoyed the book, this was a long way from perfect. There were a few holes in the plot and this makes me wonder if it has always been Ms Vaughan's plan to have Destiny's Star take place in the Plains. Quite frankly, my feeling is that the first two books in the trilogy didn't work very well and so, Ms Vaughan tried to find a way to go back to the Plains. The result though that Destiny's Star feels quite disconnected from the rest of the trilogy... We're not going forward in the Epic of Palins trilogy - which ends on a loose note. I wonder if Ms Vaughan has plans to come back to Palins - most probably. My biggest complaint throughout the books has been that I've always have difficulty to reconcile the magic in Palins with the world we've discovered in the Chronicles of Warlands and this remain an issue.

My Grade: B+. Definitively not perfect, but it sure was an enjoyable book to read. I'm really glad Ms Vaughan went back to the Plains and I can't wait for her next release, WarCry which is going to be Xylara and Keir's journey back to the Kingdom of Xy so Lara can give birth, told from Heath and Atira's POV :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hauling Sunday V

Oups, this post is quite late... but it's still Sunday and I do have new books :D Woohoo! Now, let just see if I can remember what I bought LOL.

So here is my haul for the week:

All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins - She's on my auto-buy list. I find her books are fun and enjoyable... Only problem, they are pretty much all the same ^_^;

SOS: Convenient Husband Required by Liz Fielding - Read a review from Dear Author. I don't really know why I picked it up. Something about it attracted me, probably the storyline as I enjoy marriage of convenience plots.

Marked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon - This one is thanks to Kristie's review :D I passed this over when I first saw it on my own. I think we all feel the same, a little burned out on paranormal, right? However, despite the cover and labeling, it seems the paranormal element is not central. I guess I'll have to find out on my own :)

Dark and Stormy Knights is an anthology. Bought it for Jim Butcher and Ilona Andrews entries :) True, it's expensive for a few entries, but they're usually quite good. Too bad this time around, there's no Ms Brigg's entry though...

Swept Aside by Sharon Sala - Last book of the trilogy. I still haven't read book #2. I don't know, I'm having a block as the first book wasn't really great. However, we'll see too I guess :P

The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells - This one was brought to my attention by Nalini Singh's blog. A recommendation from one of my favorite authors is worth checking out :D

I really have down the delivery schedule of publishers and let me tell you, it's a cool thing LOL. I put off going to the bookstore on Monday even though they had Dark and Stormy Knights because I knew they usually receive the Mira/Harlequin on Tuesday... and guess what? They indeed did! Only problem is that when I got to the bookstore, James hadn't put aside Dark and Stormy Knights for me ^_^; and he had no ideas where the copies were although he's seen them. So I had to come back the next day. Not a huge problem for me and I got to save even more money (I have 25% off coupons but only on 1 item per purchase). Then, he told me me on Wednesday that I had nothing left on my list... so now, I have write it up for the next few months... What books are you looking forward to in the next, say 3 months?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Accidents with books

This week has been awful :( You know when you feel things are off? Well that's how it's been this week ^_^; Everything's been off. I came in to work on Monday and got a lecture from my boss and I mean, that really started the week on the wrong footing... Then I almost ran over someone on Tuesday @_@ Wednesday was okay, but yesterday was real bad... All because of a freezer that we ordered. It still hasn't arrived after 2 weeks. "Why? This is unacceptable! Tell them we're canceling and we'll order from Sears!" Ugh, it's driving me insane :( And it's still crazy busy with experiment! Seriously! I think my co-worker and I are trying to hard to get the work done... cos now, our boss' demands are sometimes really unrealistic.

Bu the real capper was this morning :( I went to get a green tea frappuccino from Starbucks... I put off drinking it, thought I would wait till I get in to work. See, from the parking lot to the lab, there's a hill to climb. For some reasons, I think it's easier to climb when your hands are free. So I tucked the frappuccino into my bag of books, making sure it was surrounded with plastic so the moisture wouldn't wet the books, and off I go...

Yep, you guessed right. It spilled!!! Ugh. Probably when I got out of the car, I squished it and 1/4 spilled!! Luckily, I only had 2 books in the bag that were not in another plastic bag... but one of them was The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan... a HC!!! Ugh. At least, the dust jacket was off. Okay, the damages weren't too bad. I wiped off the Red Pyramid so at least, it's not sticky, but it is no longer smooth either and the there's a bit of discoloration in the red of the case. The endpapers at the back are actually where there's been the most damage :( When you look at the front edge of both books, well there's a green tinge. I'm lucky enough though that the liquid didn't seep in too much making the pages wavy or at least, not too much in The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells. I'm going to have to flip the pages a couple of times though to be sure that none stick together ^_^;

I'll take pictures tonight and put them, so you can assess the damage.

Here are the pictures. A little late, but better than never :P

Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to share some horror stories LOL.

What about you? What's the worst that has happened to one of your books?

PS - Don't I sound smart, using word like endpapers and front edge? LOL. Well I got my vocabulary from this post :P

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

A few aside before I start the review :)

1 - For those who thought that I was sick because I didn't buy any books last week. Rest assured, I'm fine :) Proof? I bought three today :P

2 - I'm trying to kick my Bejeweled Blitz addiction. Again. Sigh, it wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't so competitive LOL. Although, I'm merely replacing my addiction by something else. The new game I found: Flood-It. I think it's fun LOL. The best though is that you don't need a very good computer, so it's perfect at work ^_^;

3 - I don't know if I ever mentioned Top Gear on my blog. It's a BBC show about cars hosted by three guys. Seriously, sounds boring, but it's hilarious! You really don't need to love or even be interested in cars to enjoy this show. What's so entertaining in Top Gear are the challenges given to the hosts and the hosts themselves LOL. In any case, if you have the chances, you should take a look at this week's challenge about motor homes (Top Gear Season 15, episode 4). My sis and I couldn't stop laughing :P

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
published by Simon & Schuster in May 2010

When you're on a road trip, life is all about the detours...

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There's just one small problem: Since her dad died this past spring, Amy hasn't' been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute... and dealing with some baggage of his own.

Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father's death were not what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitively not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most - and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

Genre: Young Adult, contemporary
Series: none

The Story: Amy Curry's life was perfectly normal, until it was turned upside down. Three months ago, her father died in a car accident, her twin brother was put into rehab and her mother decided to move from California to Connecticut for a new start. Now that school is out, Amy's mother wants her to bring their car to Connecticut; only, Amy does not drive. Thus, Amy's mother has enlisted the help of Roger, the 19 years old son of a friend, to drive and has provided them an itinerary... Except the stop places are the dullest ones on the road. Not ready to start her new life, Amy jumps at Roger's proposition of turning this drive into a real road trip. And so starts the adventure :)

My Opinion: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you Ames for recommending this book! Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was a wonderful read and I own you a big one :)

I usually stay away from contemporary young adults novels, for a few reasons: 1) I find it hard to connect with the characters, 2) the whole high school "does he love me or not" and "you're my friend or not" tropes do not appeal and 3) it's hard to believe in the HEA ending. However, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is not your regular contemporary YA. I think it has a lot to do with the premise of the book: Amy has just lost her father in a car accident. This is something big and incredibly painful, no matter how old you are and it takes a level of maturity to deal with it. Plus the fact that it's not in a high school context, but a road trip and you have something different, something other.

Okay, this review turns out to be more difficult to write than I expected. I really hurt for Amy and what she was going through. Losing someone is never easy, but the circumstances of the car accident and the fact that she was daddy's girl made it more difficult for Amy to deal with her father's death. Then having your life changes so much without being in control of it, sigh. It's really no wonder Amy was starting to break down both physically and emotionally. The hardest though was the fact that she had no one to talk to, at first because she was not ready and then later, because everyone was gone - her brother in rehab and her mother across the country. I think this just shows you how strong Amy was, but the best part I think is that she was simply a normal girl going through some very tough time. She was mature at times, emotional at others and through it all, rediscovering herself. As for Roger, he was dumped by his girlfriend and he's trying to figure out why... and therefore agrees to embark on this road trip in order to go see her and ask. I think this says a lot as well about his character... and seriously, he turned out to be an amazing guy. The kind that you wish to meet and fall in love with: caring, understanding, nice and gentle :) It might sound like he was a little too perfect and perhaps he was, but I liked him :)

I definitively loved the interactions between Amy and Roger throughout the book, it was so genuine and real. The awkwardness at first, then embarrassment at certain situations and the developing friendship... It was really refreshing to see these two persons meet and get to know each other instead of a secret crush or infatuation. We often talk about chemistry between characters while Amy and Roger did have some, they have something even better. A bond created by the time they spent together during this road trip, during a memorable time period of their life. I mean, they might not live together happily ever after, but they will always remember each other, because they'll be linked by this road trip :)

As for the road trip itself, I thought it was fun. It really balanced the more serious threads of the book :) It was fun to travel with Amy and Roger, to read about the places they stopped at and the people they met. What makes the book even better is the fact that pictures, drawings, notes, receipts are included... like a travel diary or a scrapbook. It really makes the whole road trip more real to the readers, include them.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was a wonderful book and a poignant read. My only complaint would be that I wanted more :P It ended well, but I wish I could know for certain they lasted as a couple ^_^;

My Grade: A-. I hope Ms Matson will write more books in the future, because I'm definitively a fan now :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monthly Reads: June 2010

No Hauling Sunday this week, because I have no new books. Shocking, isn't it? LOL, but it happens... not often though, but it does from time to time :) Instead, I'm going to try to put up my Monthly Reads post for June ^_^; Sigh. I've been putting off writing this post, because I'm really behind in my reviews ^_^; Which means I have to write more mini-reviews/impressions in this post... and well, I can't seem to keep it short, LOL. As a result, I'm really late with my Monthly Reads post, but at least, it's done!

Aside from that, nothing really new with life. It's been quiet. Although I'm heading in a reading slump :( Haven't picked up anything since Wednesday. That's a bad sign... so I've pulled out the big artillery - The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. Oh, and I'm having a relapse in my addiction to Bejeweled Blitz ^_^;

1) Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn: C

2) Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson: B

Persephone Alcmedi is a witch, a columnist and a sympathizer for werewolves. After her best friend was turned into a werewolf back in college, Persephone decided to become a newspapers reporter instead of a lawyer, because she'd be able to impact the world and people's views more than a lawyer. In this world, werewolves are considered as animals, even if most of them didn't become werewolves willingly. They are cut off of the system and have little rights. When one of her closest friend dies, Persephone knows the police won't lift a finger to investigate as soon as they find out she's a werewolf. Therefore it's up to Persephone to find out the killer - in order to see justice, but also to give closure to the girl left behind...

This is the first book in the Persephone Alcmedi series. I picked it up, because lately, I've been into urban fantasy featuring witches, wizards and sorcerers. So far, I like Persephone's character.  Her charm lays in the fact that she is normal. She might be a witch, but it still means she has to work, meet deadline, is driven crazy by her grandmother. She also has not come to term with her mother's abandonment... and so far, as I can see, she's an average witch. What I mean is she doesn't seem to be weaker or more powerful than normal (although that might change). I like her loyalty to her friends, how much she cares and even though she's idealist, she doesn't go overboard with it. She's a good friend and very loyal. Oh and I'm really looking toward the relationship with Johnny!

As for the plot, it was interesting and easy to follow. It was quite perfect for the first book - not too complex, but not without twist. It allowed Ms Robertson to develop the characters and introduce her world. I think Ms Robertson did a good job at not overwhelming the readers with world building details. All in all, there was a good balance with the world building, the characters introduction and the actual plot.At times, I wanted to know more, but I'm sure everything will fill out as the series goes on. My only issue really was the fact that in the end, I'm not sure what a witch does. What does it mean to be a witch in this world, what are her powers, the extent of it? I think that was pretty important given that the main character is a witch and it would have given more insight.

3) Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase: C

Merry McKenzie is a 25 years old nurse who is leaving the nest in order to experience the real world in Boston. She moves in Jason Falconer's - a star baseball player - apartment building that he's just recently purchased. Jason and Merry quickly become an item, but Jason has some secrets of his own and doesn't know how Merry will react to them. Add in the vampire that lives in the basement, the shapeshifters on the first and second floor, the sex operators witches and oh, the ghost on the third; there's never a down-time.... but the biggest problem is actually Jason's noisy aunt Dottie!

I got this book because of the buzz in blogland and it looked and sounded very cute. However, I ended up a bit disappointing. I guess I was expecting something like a sport romance, but it definitively wasn't. Jason's career as a professional athlete was very much glossed over, supposedly because it was the off season. Still, I expect him to train a bit more, have some meetings, anything to do with baseball. As for the romance, everything went very quickly. There was no sexual tension to speak off: Jason and Merry were attracted and the next thing you knew, were an item. The relationship conflict was that Jason was a shapeshifter, but again, that was taken care of pretty fast. On the whole, I think Ms Chase spent too much time introducing developing the secondary characters, i.e. the tenants. Yes, they were a colorful and fun lot... but I felt they took away too much of spotlight, especially given the storyline concerning the noisy and annoying aunt Dottie. Also, it felt a bit too much like setting up for the next books in the series. All in all, it sounded good, but it didn't live up to it.

4) His At Night by Sherry Thomas: B

Elissande Edgerton's uncle is an abusive man, a true nightmare who enjoys tormenting his wife, who has taken to laudanum to escape him, and his niece. Elissande sees no way to get out from under his thumb, especially not when she has to take care of her aunt, until Lady Kingsley knocks at her door. Lady Kingsley is a new neighbor who was hosting a small party when her house was infested by rats and therefore, seeks refuge at Elissande's house. Elissande sees a glimmer of hope; her uncle is away and this is an opportunity for her to meet a man and marry him and does escape from her uncle. Elissande sets her cap on Lord Frederick and  decides to seduce him and get compromised, but unfortunately, his niais brother Lord Vere is always in the way...What Elissande does not realize is that Lady Kingsley and Lord Vere are government agents and the rats were only an excuse to have access to Elissande's house and investigate her uncle.

Kristie devoured this book when we were at RT and that's why I decided to give it a try. I have Ms Thomas debut novel in my TBR pile, but what I realized quickly is that Ms Thomas does not write usual historical romances. Her plots, settings and H/H are always pretty daring and different and they are not the type that suits me :( However, I thought that His At Night's blurb sounded more like something I would enjoy... and I did to a certain extent :)

Elissande was a very strong heroine, she must have been to endure her uncle's abuse. I understand her motive for trying to seduce Lord Frederick and the idea wasn't without merit... the problem though is I didn't think she was very likable. There was a feeling of detachment to Elissande, which probably helped her to survive, but because of it, I failed to warm up to her :( Lord Vere I liked better. He is highly intelligent, but decides to act stupid in order to spy for the government. As a lord, he has more access and people are unsuspecting around him. I liked his back story and loved the love between him and his younger brother. I enjoyed how Elissande and Vere danced around each other :P Each realized that the other was more than what they appear very quickly and the rest of the book was about out-maneuvering the other. It was fun and clever. Unfortunately, when it came down to their relationship and romance, it didn't work out as well. First, there was Lord Vere's resentment, which is understandable. Nobody likes to be trapped. However, he is highly intelligent and must have understood why Elissande did it. He is attracted to her, so why not try to make it work? I guess I wanted more loving moments between them. The plot though, I thought was quite clever with some nice twists. As for the writing, well I understand why so many enjoy her books :)

5) A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch: C

Colonel Bartholomew James was the sole survivor of a Thuggee attack - a group of Indian robbers who always kill their targets. He's come back to England with a survivor guilt and a screwed knee and has taken refuge at the Duke of Sommerset's Adventurers' Club. Except his family has returned to London and the Duke had made it clear to Bartholomew that he does not want them to be beating down his doors in search of the colonel. Thus, Tolly returns home to put in an apparition and meets Theresa Weller, his brother's new wife's cousin. Theresa is the author of A Lady's Guide to Proper Behavior and believes in everything she's written... and is appalled at Tolly's behavior and manners, especially since he was unpleasant purposely. Thus, she challenges him and to her surprise, he responds! Soon, the two are smitten, but unfortunately, some unpleasant rumors about Bartholomew and the Thuggee start to circulate...

Hmmm, I don't know. Originally, I wasn't going to get this book, because the series topic "adventurer" does not really appeal to me. I've read The Care and Taming of a Rogue, the first book, and thought it was okay. Then, Lori read and reviewed A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior and I thought I should give it a try since I usually enjoy Ms Enoch's books :) Conclusion? LOL, the "adventurer" type still doesn't appeal to me. One of the biggest issues I had with this book was simply that it was too similar to England's Perfect Hero. The hero comes back to England, changed by the events he's just gone through, sullen and reclusive... and is then drawn out by the heroine. Technically, I should love this kind of plot, but it just didn't do it to me. I thought Tolly "healed" to easily and I absolutely hate the fact that his words were doubted. I mean, here is a man that went to do his patriotic duty and he comes back home so damaged and have seen so much horrors and everyone treats him like dirt and a liar. Ugh!! So frustrating. As for Theresa, she was okay. I liked the fact that she had good suitors and prospects. At times, her attitude grated though, but it's understandable given her background. There were some good moments, but as a whole, I don't think this was Ms Enoch's best effort.

6) Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep: B+

7) Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas: C
Buddy review coming up with Ames at Breezing Through

8) Destiny's Star by Elizabeth Vaughan: B+
Upcoming review.

9) Oh-So-Sensible Secretary by Jessica Hart: B

Summer Curtis is a straight-lace executive personal assistant, the kind that is always well-put together and scary efficient. She's been transferred to work for Phin Gibson, the CEO little brother. He is outgoing, a daredevil and reality tv star with a lot of charisma, but Summer is determined to not fall under his spell. After all, he's totally not her type. Or is he?

Wendy made me discovered Ms Hart earlier this year and enjoyed Oh-So-Sensible Secretary. I thought it was a cute little category romance. I love the setting - London. That's what makes it stand out for me and the writing is really strong. As for the story itself, it's pretty typical. Summer is Phin's PA and he draws her out a little from her shell. Add in that she has an ex-boyfriend she can't get over, Phin proposes that they fake dating to make him jealous and realize how Summer is attractive... and it works. I mean, it's a light fun read, but to me, it doesn't stand out that much.

10) This Can't Be Love by Kasey Michaels: B

11) Desires of a Perfect Lady by Victoria Alexander: C

There was a time, Olivia and Sterling Harrington, Earl of Wyldewood, thought they would grow old together happily. Then, everything went wrong. Olivia was forced to marry Lord Rathbourne to save her father's reputation. Meanwhile, Sterling was lied to and he married someone else to appease his dying father. Ten years have gone by and Olivia and Sterling are both widow/widower... Olivia's father, worried about Olivia's safety since Rathbourne was murdered, finally reveals the truth of Olivia's marriage and sends Sterling to inquire about Olivia. However, Olivia does not welcome him, the man who has turned his back in her moment of greatest needs. All she knows is that her cruel husband is gone and she is now a free woman. That is, until her husband's will is read... then she realizes that she does need Sterling's help... but nothing more, except a night in his bed.

I usually enjoy Ms Alexander's historical a lot, there is just something about them... However, this trilogy does not appeal to me. I guess it's the whole "adventurer" thing again... Definitively not my type ^_^; Olivia and Sterling were torn apart due to some circumstances and have not spoken to each other for almost ten years. I understand Olivia's pain and resentment towards both her father and Sterling. Both of them were supposed to protect her, but one practically sold her and the other abandoned her. She survived though by steeling herself and now that she is free, she intends to do whatever she wants. As for Sterling, well he went on with life, shouldering his burden and responsibilities, but seems to have lost his joie de vivre. So when Olivia's husband will sends her on a wild chase, Sterling proposes his help and his mother does her best to throw the two together. So technically, I think my problem with this book is the martyr quality to Olivia. It's a bit the same thing as with Elissande in His At Night by Sherry Thomas. Both heroines have gone through a lot of suffering and they survive... but the likable quality of such characters is gone. I guess it's just not the kind of heroines that I enjoy and I should learn to stay away from them ^_^; Personally, I didn't care much about Sterling and Olivia's relationship. It was tedious, always having the same thing argued over. I did enjoy the traveling the characters made. They went to Egypt and Venise. LOL, the bits where the mother accompanies them to Egypt to meet an old flame - that was so funny. Also, Sterling's fear of snake :P So again, some very nice moments and highlights, but nothing standing out really - not the plot, the relationship or the characters :( I might just skip the next book of the trilogy and wait for when Ms Alexander starts a new series.

12) Chimera by Rob Thurman: B+
Buddy review coming up with Leslie at Breezing Through

13) In For a Penny by Rose Lerner: B

Lord Nevinstroke has been living the high life so far, getting drunk, carousing and having a lot of fun with his friends and his mistress. Then, Nev gets a wake up call when his father dies. Nev not only does inherits the title, but also a pile of debts that he cannot repay. Then he comes up with a solution: marry Penny Brown, daughter of a very rich brewer. Penny has no interest in a titled gentleman. She already has someone she wants to marry... but then, Nev appears and proposes and there is just something about this man that makes her heart flutters...

I got this book at RT and was very happy, because I've read some very encouraging reviews here and here. So I was really looking forward to it and now, I understand the appeal of it. I think what makes this book stands out is the characters and their relationship. Nev is sweet and charming. He might not be the most mature man out there, but he is trying to change for Penny, to become a better man and a good husband and that is very touching. As for Penny, she tries her best to be a good wife as well. They both know that Nev married her for her dowry, still they are trying to make it work, to have a real marriage. They are both strangers that somehow got together and they are trying to get to know each other, get the best out of it. I really liked the fact that Nev tried his hardest. It was funny because everyone was outraged that Penny asked Nev not to keep a mistress. Everyone was like: "That little bitch, she gets a title...and she wants to keep you from having fun?" and Nev was like: "She's not like that." He couldn't put it into words, but from the start, there is something undeniable between them. I liked the fact that there was no subterfuge to the marriage, they both knew what they were getting into.  I was so sad when Nev gave up his friends because he thought that's what he had to do to become respectable. Sigh. If only he had talked to Penny about it, he would have found out. Ah well. So I feel that Penny and Nev definitively made the book and I enjoyed them tremendously :) What didn't work so well for me was the rest of the story. The fact that the tenants were about the rebel, the storyline concerning Nev' sister and Percy, etc. I think it was too much and it just dragged out the book. Finally, there is something about the writing. The narration seems to be distant, I as a reader, didn't feel like I was as involved with the characters, but it worked :)

14) Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: A-
Upcoming review.

15) In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady by Gayle Callen: C+

It all starts with the gentleman's club's newly acquired nude portrait of a lady and the rumors that said lady is from the ton. While Julian Delane, Earl of Parkhust is not interested by the lady's identity, he is interested by the red heart-shape diamond jewel - the Scandalous Lady - the model is wearing. Especially since the jewel was stolen from his family and led to his father's death and he has seen it around the neck of Lady Rebecca Leland... Then, when Julian and his two friends catch three young ladies who has come to the club to steal the painting, he quickly realizes that one of them is the model and thus, has the jewel in her possession. Julian and his friends make a wager to uncover the identity of the model... but what really interests him is the Scandalous Lady. What Rebecca learns is that Julian is not the only one interested by the diamond - which she thought was paste, by the way - and not everyone is peaceful about getting it... which forces her to flee London so her family is not in danger.

Hmmm, it seems that Avon's releases have not agreed with me this month ^_^; I picked up this book after reading Lori's review, what can I say, I was curious :P As Lori said, this is pretty much a road trip story and to me, that made this book stands out. By the way, we're not talking about comfort road trip, since Rebecca is running for her life. I did have to throw some disbelief at Julian and Rebecca finding themselves together and traveling, but once I did, it was pretty entertaining ;) Rebecca used to be a sickly child and as a result, she is now trying to enjoy her life at the fullest. Posing for the portrait was liberating and exciting, except that it was never intended to be found in London. Still, Rebecca has no regret and that I liked :D As for Julian's character, well he's a bit typical. He inherited the title at 18 years old and so, he worked hard to make it afloat  and is burdened by his responsibilities and family. He is obsessed by the Scandalous Lady, especially since he believes that his father committed suicide because of it. I didn't think his character stood out too much, but he was still okay. What didn't work for me in this book was the whole mystery surrounding the Scandalous Lady. It wasn't very well-executed and was hard to believe. Also, I felt a bit lost without reading Never Marry a Stranger.

16) Kiss Me if You Can by Carly Phillips: B-

17) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa: B-

Meghan Chase is about to turn 16 years old. Life is not easy when your stepfather owns a pig farm, but luckily, her good friend Rob Goodfellow is there for her. Then one day, her younger half-brother, four years old Ethan, is kidnapped and a changeling is left in his place. Meghan's world turns upside down when she discovers that Rob is not who he appears... He is actually a fey that was sent to keep an eye on Meghan so she never sees the fey world... but Meghan is determined to save Ethan and therefore, they set off for the fey world full of dangers and dangerous creatures. But the shocks keep coming to Meghan since it turns out that she is the Summer Sidhe princess...

Okay, that is a pretty gross summary. I'm sorry, starting to be tired ^_^;  For a better summary and review, you can go to Leslie :) I don't usually enjoy fey and fairies, but Leslie liked it so much that I thought I'd give it a try. The book wasn't bad at all and the fairy didn't bother me too much. I thought the whole thing was quite clever and enjoyed the writing. What bothered me is that there is no sense of companionship in this book. Meghan embarks in a very dangerous journey and as such, there are usually friendships that form and etc. However, I thought The Iron King was lacking that. First, there's Rob who turns out to be Puck... and Meghan is not too sure what he is really. She knows he is on her side, but he is quickly out of the picture. Then, there's Ash, the Winter Prince. Winter and Summer feys are technically enemies... however, Ash seems to have feeling for Meghan. I totally didn't buy it though ^_^; There was nothing to indicate their love, nothing of Ash part at least. Yes, Meghan found him handsome, but I need more! Then, there's Grim... which dunno. So yeah, that definitively lesser my enjoyment of the book. Meanwhile, Ms Kagawa introduces a lot of creatures and very few are likable ^_^; In any case, I don't think I'm going to continue this series.

18) Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas: A-
Buddy review coming up with Ames at Breezing Through

19) Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh: B- (re-read)

Books bought: +31
Books read: -19
TBR pile: + 12

Ouf, I'm done! Okay, I guess I didn't keep it short, but I can't do miracle. I'm pretty happy with 19 reads :D I wished I'd have squeezed in one more though... but perhaps this month :) I bought a lot of books lately, you only have to see my Hauling Sundays post to figure it out... but what can I say? It was all Chapters/Indigo's fault for running promotions!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Still trying to balance out my blogging and blog-hopping ^_^; Unfortunately, it's not going as well as I wish... but hey, I've been reading! I think that's the trade-off most of the time. Reading more = less blogging :( Perfect world would be that I'm not working and so would have time to do a lot of both LOL. In any case, I've been missing you all!!

Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
published by Simon & Schuster in May 2010

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I'm Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I'm retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren't aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I'm a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn't made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man... dead or alive.
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Elemental Assassin, Book #2

The Story: I thought the blurb did a good job summarizing the book, but I'm going to add my two cents :)

After the events of Spider's Bite, Gin has retired as an assassin... but let just say she finds retired life a tad boring ^_^; Then, Gin learns how fast things can change. First, one of Ashland most influential man's son and his side-kick decides to rob Gin's BBQ restaurant, the Pork Pit. While Gin was able to stop the robbery easily, she sure isn't about to back down because of the father's threats and is determined to press charges. Then, someone takes a couple of shots at a customer, Violet Fox, again at the Pork Pit. Turns out Violet was there to ask help from the Tin Man - Gin's deceased mentor. Violet's grandfather was the Tin Man's best friend in their youth and is in trouble. Their property is coveted by Tobias Dawson, a coalmining tycoon and Mab Monroe's - Ashland most powerful Elemental - minion and he's done being civil to Violet and the old man. Gin comes up with a simple solution: get rid of the man... unfortunately, Detective Donovan Caine does not agree, only he's outnumbered. Unfortunately for Gin, the only opportunity to off Tobias will be at Mab Monroe's business party at her manor... Who said retirement was boring again?

My Opinion: I read Spider's Bite earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I was really happy to learn that I'd only have to wait a few months for the sequel, Web of Lies :) I got my hand on it as soon as I could, but didn't read it immediately... expectations, anticipation, you know. However, I'm glad to say Web of Lies does not disappoint!

Web of Lies packs quite a punch with conflict and action and I thought that Ms Estep did a marvelous job balancing the two, given the short timeline. Everything flowed well and even though Web of Lies clocks at 400 pages, the book was a quick read, but the reader was never rushed or overwhelmed by the events and the action. To me, this is proof that Ms Estep found the perfect pacing. The key seemed to have been Gin's narration. There was a lot of internal monologues in Web of Lies since that it's written with first POV and sometimes, it can make a book very heavy and drag, but it was not the case with Web of Lies. Partly, because Gin is such an interesting character due to the morals question of her job, but also because the monologues were not all about her emotions. They were really used to tell the story as well as show how Gin thought and reacted.

Needless to say, I really love Gin's character. She's definitively the heart of this series and as such, she needs to be strong and interesting and she is. There is so much layers to her and the most interesting is that they've all been revealed. There is no peeling layers one by one as the series goes on. Instead, her character has been totally exposed. There's her strength which was necessary to survive and become what she has become, there's her loyalty which has won her her entourage, there's fierceness and determination... but there's also this vulnerability that stems from her past and loving too much. In short, Gin is everything but a cold-blood assassin. Yes, her morals and principles are out of the ordinary, but it works, especially in the world Ms Estep has created :)

Speaking of world, the one that the readers are introduced to in this series is quite colorful :) There are humans, vampires, dwarves, giants... some of them are lucky to have an Elemental power - ice, stone, fire or air, others just are what they are. Truthfully, I feel that we are only given the basic information on all the species and I do have some questions, I don't feel this is a well-rounded world building. However, ultimately, the world works because the focus is not about what the characters are, but in what kind of world they live in - one that is corrupted where the strongest, no matter how rotten they are, rule. It does have a superhero caricature feel to it and would definitively want to find out more about it, but so far, I don't feel like it's been an issue really.

Okay, enough about the series, let's focus a bit more on the book itself :) I really enjoyed the plot and liked how the storylines came together. It was like two ends of a rope being tied together and forming a full circle :) As I said, there was action, but also plenty of conflicts - Gin dealing with her feeling of betrayal at Fletcher, her deceased mentor, her relationship with Donovan Caine and the revelation that her baby sister was still alive. What I found refreshing is that Gin didn't rush out to find out her sister, that she had reservation about it. It made it feel real. Yes, she's happy that Brianna is alive, but they've both built a life of their own and after all, Gin has been an assassin. Not something easy to slip into a discussion. I also like the fact that Gin is unapologetic about being an assassin, she doesn't regret it... She's always been many shades of grey and retiring hasn't made her lily white. The biggest issue between Gin and Donovan is the fact that she hasn't changed, deep down, she'll always have the reflexes of an assassin and she'll react like one. What Donovan doesn't understand though is that if you take that away, then Gin is no longer Gin. I really enjoyed Gin in assassin mode LOL and one of the best parts of Web of Lies was Mab's party - very intense. I also liked how the overall story-arc is going forward as well and the continuity between the books. Ms Estep never forgets the overall picture and merge everything together very well. I'm looking forward to see what Mab is going to do with the new revelation in Web of Lies.

My only issue with the plot though was the showdown at the end between Tobias and Gin. I understand that Ms Estep doesn't want to portray Gin as the invincible heroine, but I thought it'd be better if she found another way for Gin to come on top. I thought it was stupid of Tobias to not simply kill Gin when he had the opportunity and instead, toyed with her. I know what Ms Estep wanted to unfold with this event, but it just wasn't intense enough to hit it well with the readers in my opinion.

Now, onto the interesting stuff :) I'm so happy Ms Estep brought in a new love interest for Gin! Owen Grayson. *swoon* LOL, to me, he sounds perfect for Gin. He's a powerful businessman, the ruthless kind LOL. The kind that is many shades of grey as well. I'm really looking forward for him to play a bigger role. At first, I was curious to see how it would work out between Donovan and Gin... but at the end of Web of Lies, it's clear that it would not have work out. A relationship is doomed if the guy cannot accept his feelings for the girl. It's that simple... and I don't want Gin to change to fit in the relationship. Plus, Owen is much more interesting and mysterious. Wouldn't be surprised if he used to be an assassin as well :P I really, really hope that Donovan is out of the picture and there won't be a love triangle in the future - I hate those.

When I reviewed Spider's Bite, I said this had potential to become one of the best urban fantasy series this year and I still maintain that opinion. However, I think Ms Estep has to ante it up. While the characters are engaging, the plot interesting and the writing solid, there is a spark missing. I wouldn't say that the series is predictable, but at the same time, it's not out of the ordinary. So far, there hasn't been any twists or events that have knock me off my chair. Perhaps it has been too easy to connect the dots or perhaps Ms Estep is doing a too good job at leading the readers to where she wants. The point is, she needs to keep some cards closer to herself.

My Grade: I'm going with B+. Web of Lies is a definite solid read, but had it been a bit more exhilarating, the grade would have been higher :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Kiss Me If You Can by Carly Phillips

Disclaimer: I've received Kiss Me If You Can as an eARC from NetGalley

Kiss Me if You Can by Carly Phillips
published by HQN Books in July 2010
Sam Cooper ("Coop") has just become the most eligible bachelor in New York City. Now that he has foiled a jewelry-store robbery and has been rewarded with the ring of his choice, single women all over the city are fawning over the crime reporter. But Coop isn't interested in the admirers sending racy underwear his way. His attention is centered solely on Lexie Davis, the only woman in the city who claims not to be interested in his bachelor status.

Instead, free-spirited Lexie is interested in Coop's antique ring, and its-potentially scandalous-history in her family. But Coop is quickly becoming more than just her route to the ring. When his investigation starts to uncover the truth, will she trust her heart-and her family secrets-to this most eligible bachelor?

Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Most Eligible Bachelor, Book #1

The Story: Sam Cooper is a crime beat reporter by day and a writer by night. While buying a hotdog at his favorite stand, he sees a jewel store being robbed and with quick thinking, is able to catch the armed thief. As a reward, he is given an antique Trifari ring. When he looks up the gaudy ring in the internet, Coop finds out that the set was stolen 50 years ago. As a reporter and novelist, his curiosity is aroused...

Lexie Davis enjoys traveling tremendously. As a web designer, she can work anywhere and therefore, is gone months at a time, discovering new world and enjoying the freedom it provides. However, she is currently in town till her grandmother's birthday. The ring Coop has received seems to match her grandmother's favorite necklace and thus, Lexie wants to acquire it. When she contacts Coop, he lets her know of the ring's origins and that he has no intention of relinquishing the ring till he finds out what happened. Due to their strong attractions, Coop and Lexie decide to work together... not knowing the truth could unravel some family secrets that Lexie didn't know exist.

My Opinion: I requested Kiss Me If You Can after reading Leslie's review. She enjoyed it a lot and so, I was hoping it'd be a winner for me as well. It turned out to be a fun book with some ups and down.

Kiss Me If You Can started out really well in my opinion. It definitively opened with a bang and it continued well with the introduction of Coop and Lexie and their attraction. I also liked the idea of a stolen ring and the two of them figuring out the mystery behind it. The mystery itself was a bit far-fetched, but it works with the kind of book Kiss Me If You Can is, fun contemporary. Add in Lexie's grandmother who was just such a hoot and yeah, I could totally imagine it :)

Since it was such a fun book, what happened to mar my enjoyment? Basically, it comes down to the characters and the relationship conflict. Coop and Lexie were two well-developed and interesting characters. Coop and Lexie both had issues and baggage with their family that made them more realistic, without being too crippling or melodramatic. I actually liked the characters. The problem was when they stopped communicating once the relationship became more than a fling. See, Coop's ex-wife was a flight attendant - that means, she was often gone and at one point, preferred being gone which led to an affair which led to the divorce. Meanwhile, in her youth, Lexie was stifled by her parents, their expectations and a perfect sister. Her excursions with her grandmother allowed her to escape, to be free and that translated into adulthood as Lexie's love for traveling. She is gone many months at a time, so much that she doesn't even have a home of her own, instead, she lives with her grandmother whenever she is back in New York. You can see where there'd be a problem, right? Coop is not really thrilled by Lexie's love of traveling and Lexie is planning to leave after her grandmother's birthday... They were both aware of this before they started their affair and still decided to go ahead. Okay, fine. It wasn't really the smartest move, but it happens soooo often. Then, the relationship quickly became more. I understand that it took them by surprise, they weren't prepared for it and didn't really know what to do. Still, at that point, I think they should have sit down and talk it out, instead of tiptoeing around the subject, both being stubborn about their position. How can you work through a problem if you don't discuss it? How can you make a relationship work without putting efforts into it and compromising? I thought this was a really unfortunate turn of event. I mean, the relationship started out so well; Coop and Lexie had chemistry, sexual tension... and it was all lost once the conflict appeared :(  Worst is that lack of communication in a couple has become such a generic conflict, it's quite maddening.

As a result, the second half of Kiss Me If You Can wasn't as interesting. Once Coop and Lexie got into their stalemate, I started losing interest in the events. The attraction was still there, but the relationship was just not going anywhere. Then, it got more complicated as the mystery unfolded and the communication was almost non-existent. The auction at the end  was more about setting up the next book in the series than herding Coop and Lexie in the right direction. Of course, in the end, it all worked out... although I would have preferred it was because they communicated instead of the "Oh, I almost lost you" trope. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that Coop and Lexie got their HEA ending and that Lexie worked out some of her issues with her family. Plus, I liked the resolution concerning the mystery. However, I don't think the second half didn't quite live up to the first...

My Grade: B-. While I had some issues with how the relationship unfolded, Kiss Me if You Can was still a fun and quick read. For a more articulated review, you can take a look at Hilcia's :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hauling Sunday IV

Whew. The past week has been kind of rough. First, it's been extremelyyyyyyy hooooooot. With humidity, the temperature has been somewhere around 40C (104F). Luckily, the lab has AC... unfortunately, let just say that with the amount of people, computers and machines running... we don't really feel the impact of the AC :( Plus, it's been crazy busy at the lab, so I've been running around a lot. As a result, I haven't been blogging or blog-hopping much ^_^; I hate it, but I just don't have the energy. I come home and all I want to do is read and sleep. I'm all ready to get back to my regular routine though :P

Okay, let's talk new books :) Well given how crazy I went last week, I tried to calm down this week :P Still, I found some books to get LOL.

The Search by Nora Roberts - well this one is self-explanatory, right? Love Nora Roberts single title. Some are better than others and o far, The Search has been getting good reviews :D

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashely - This has been on my TBB list for July. I enjoyed The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie and was looking to read more about the brothers. I was going to wait a bit longer before getting it, but it seems there's a buddy review in the near future, so got to buy it :P

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott - Ames read Bloom by Elizabeth Scott this week and enjoyed it. I took a look at the author's books and liked the blurb of this one. When I went to buy Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, I couldn't resist picking it up ^_^;

There you have it for the week :D This coming week should be quiet in terms of book buying... but you never know, right? :P

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Review: Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh

I was writing my Monthly Reads post, but not only it's taking time because I read a lot last month (woohooo), but I got distracted by the new Nora Roberts - The Search. Then, this morning, on my way to work, I realized why not review Bonds of Justice? It's fresh in my mind and I know what I want to say LOL. Bonds of Justice it is :P

Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in July 2010
Max Shannon is a good cop, one of the best in New York Enforcement. Born with a natural shield that protects him against Psy mental invasions, he knows he has little chance of advancement within the Psy-dominated power structure. The last case he expects to be assigned is that of a murderer targeting a Psy Councilor’s closest advisors. And the last woman he expects to compel him in the most sensual of ways is a Psy on the verge of a catastrophic mental fracture…

Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy, cursed with the ability to retrieve memories from men and women so twisted even veteran cops keep their distance. Appointed as Max’s liaison with the Psy, she finds herself fascinated by this human, her frozen heart threatening to thaw with forbidden emotion. But, her mind filled with other people’s nightmares, other people’s evil, she’s standing on the border between sanity and a silken darkness that urges her to take justice into her own hands, to become judge, jury…and executioner…
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, Book #10

The Story: Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy which means she has a particular telepathic talent that gives her the ability to navigate crazed minds, retrieved their memories and project them. Because of the nature of their work, J-Psy are more susceptible of emotions and their shields, more likely to break down... and once that happens, they are completely rehabilitated, leaving a blank-minded body behind. Sophia is very close to the point of no return, her shields being so fragile that actual skin-to-skin contacts could lead to a flood of memories and emotions and fry her mind.

Max Shannon was the cop introduced in Mine to Possess. As previously mentioned, he has natural shields - very good against mental invasions. While he'll never make it far in Enforcement because of them, he's also the  perfect cop to investigate cases where you don't want the primary to be read or influenced, especially when you have many Psy enemies... which is why Nikita Duncan wants him.

Nikita's close advisors are being murdered one after the other. It quickly becomes clear the reason is because Nikita has "alliances" with humans and changelings, marring the image of Psy superiority. Max and Sophia suspect the Pure Psy, a group of fanatics that want Psy to be isolated, and come to the conclusion that it must have been an inside job. While they work on this case, Max and Sophia don't forget another one they've been walking on, trying to break a serial killer into revealing where he's buried his victims so they return them to their families....

My Opinion: Hmmm, I'm a bit torn with this one. I really wanted to love it, but in reality, it feels like an echo of Mine to Possess. I enjoyed the plot, liked the way the story-arc is advancing. It does feel like we're about to reach the culmination of the series and I'm really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I was less entranced by the romance, but not for the usual reasons ^_^;

I actually enjoyed the characters in Bonds of Justice. Did I ever expect Max to get his own story? Not really. Was I excited to read his book? Well the fact that I didn't remember who he was speaks for itself, right? However, he was a solid hero. He's a solid cop, determined and dedicated to his job. I think the fact that he stays in Enforcement knowing that he's less likely to climb up the ladder speaks very loudly and very positively of his personality. His background was interesting and the fact that he wanted to know and find out. As for Sophia,  I admired her dedication to her work, bringing justice. I also liked the fact that she went after what she wanted: Max. Unfortunately, she didn't really stand out for me, because I feel she isn't very different than any of the other Psy heroines we got so far.

That's also my crux with the romance in Bonds of Justice. It just doesn't stand out for me. Alpha hero falls in love with a Psy heroine that's on the verge of dying or breaking down. If you've read my blog, you know that I like self-sacrificing heroines... and so I do like this premises.... but how many times have we've seen it in this series? Too many.  Also, I had a discussion with Hilcia a few weeks ago concerning how she thought Dev was very changeling-like, the possession, the "mine." I told her it was attributes to alpha-ness. Well in Max case, I thought he felt very changeling and I think it's because his reaction to Sophia was very similar to Lucas, Vaughn and Dorian with their mate. Max was attracted to Sophia, he didn't hide it and he pushed. These are the reasons why I wasn't engaged by the romances... because it feels repetitive. The circumstances and details are different, but the basics are the same :( Although, kudos to Ms Singh for the resolution in this one - that, I didn't see it coming.

Once again, I'm enjoying where Ms Singh is taking us with the world building and the intrigues. She keeps adding new layers to the plot, making it more intricate while the readers keep guessing... Is Kaleb really a good guy? And what's up with the Arrows? What about Nikita? She's one cold Psy, but at the same time, one hard cookie LOL. I previously dismissed her as selfish, but now, I'm having my doubts. We also see the Council divide and this is definitively going to keep the story interesting. I liked the fact that although the main plot was Psy matters, Lucas and Sascha got to play a more important role. They weren't only in the story because Lucas is alpha. I really liked how Sascha's pregnancy was connected to the storyline. Overall, I really enjoyed the storylines, but personally could have done without the last bits with Bonner. I find it hard to believe that the serial killer could escape such a secure facility.

The last few things I'm going to mention are simply thoughts on the series more than on the actual book. I thought Max didn't feel very human, what with his alpha attitude and his natural shields. I understand that has he been different, it'd be a completely different story.... but I'd like to see a genuine, normal, regular human in this series and see how s/he deals with this world. I'm also very happy the next two books are going to feature the SnowDancers. It'll be a good change of pace and will shift the focus a little from the Psy :P

Finally, did anyone pick up on the woman that slipped her card to Max during the sushi take-out pick-up? Keiko Nakamura. For some reasons, her last name rings a bell. Any chance she's a relative of Sascha (giving that her great-grandmother defected...)?

My Grade: B. Ms Singh definitively knows where she's going with the series and it only becomes more interesting with each book. However, I'd really like for her to change it up a little bit in the romance department. Therefore, I'm really looking forward to the next book which will feature Indigo and Drew :P Yay!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hauling Sunday III

As some of you probably know already from Ames and Kristie's posts, Canada's biggest bookstore chain - Chapters/Indigo/Coles - has been having a "Buy 3, get the 4th free" promotion. Well, let just say I took advantage of it... Slight understatement ^_^;

I divided them into genres, so it'd be easier to comment... LOL

My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then, I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

I'm not going to comment on each book, because that'd be very long ^_^; I got Two-Way Street and The Lonely Hearts Club on Ames recommendation. She has become my YA reference LOL. The others, I've got mainly to make up the 4th book in the promotion :P

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
Rushed to the Altar by Jane Feather
A Groom of One's Own by Maya Rodale

I was really looking forward for Beatrix' story in Love in the Afternoon. Great book, by the way :) As for Rushed to the Altar and A Groom of One's Own, well they had interesting blurb :D

Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
Demon Blood by Meljean Brook

Over the years, these two authors have become part of my favorites and I love their series. Any time they have releases coming out, I'm stalking the bookstores LOL.

Dark Decptions by Dee Davis
Money, Honey by Susan Sey
Coming Undone by Lauren Dane
Sugar Creek by Toni Blake

I've been intrigued by Money, Honey ever since I saw the cover. It looks cute and it sounds cute :) I've been wanting to try out a Lauren Dane book, hence Coming Undone. Sugar Creek, I picked up because I was looking a 4th book and remembered Kristie's good review :)

Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill
Red Hot Fury by Kasey Mackenzie
Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
Fatal Circle by Linda Robertson

Urban Fantasy comes out the big winner of my haul :P I bought the Chloe Neill books because I was looking for trade-size to buy and I've been eyeing this books for a while. The Stacia Kane books, I bought because Unholy Magic caught my eyes - the cover is really nice... and well, you know, should read Book #1 first :P Red Hot Fury, I picked up because the premises sound interesting and different... and finally, Fatal Circle, because I've enjoyed Vicious Circle :P

So there you have it... Yes, 20 books. The good news is I didn't buy them all at once. Nope, I went to the bookstores on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday ^_^; Pretty crazy... LOL.