Friday, July 28, 2006

Manga Feature: Eyeshield21

Hehe, so by now, everyone probably knows that I like to read romance... but I also love manga., probably because most contain romance. In addition, most of the time, you have nice drawings and good comedy. LOL. I mean, everything is pretty much acceptable in manga because it will be considered as overexaggeration while in books, it wouldn't come out the same way. So I'm a HUGE fan. Some ppl think that manga or even comics are for kids, but I beg to differ, they are soooo wrong. They're for everyone and thanx God for it.

People have been complaining in the past few years that manga and anime are getting boring and repetitive... i don't think so... true, not all manga are good, but every mangaka tries to personalize their own story, so :D Manga are categorized in two, well actually, 3 classes: shounen and shoujo. Shounen are usually for boys and shoujo for girls. One style that you often find in shounen are sports manga, i.e. a manga focused on a sport... such as Eyeshield21

Let's start by a confession: I never liked American football (at least, watching professional) So I was reluctant to read this manga. However, my good friend Sam recommended it to me and since we usually have the same taste, I give it a try... and never regret it. The manga is not finished yet and so far, I think there's about 19 volumes out (20th coming out this summer) and the story is far from finished...

Story: Sena is the young hero of this manga; he is shy, small and has pretty much been over-protected by his childhood friend Mamori, who is two year his senior. So Sena new life starts when he enters high school where he wishes he won't be bullied anymore, won't run errands for others anymore and where he'll make new friend. Meanwhile, Hiruma, the devil of the school, and his good buddy Kurita are looking for new members to join the football club as they are only two. Their dream is to participate to the Christmas Bowl and this is their last opportunity.

One day, Sena is being bullied and stumbled in the football clubroom. Kurita thinks that Sena wants to join up, but of course not. Then, he is won over by Kurita's enthusiasm and love for football and decides to become the secretary of the club. However, Sena has a secret skill: he's an extremely good and fast runner which he developped by running errands for others... and unfortunately for Sena, Hiruma sees him and from then, Sena had no choice then becoming a player... with a code name: Eyeshield21 (can't let Mamori know that Sena is playing, or she'd forced him to quit)...

So that's the beginning of the story and as a typical sports manga, they find new players to join the team, everyone evolves so much that you don't know where's the limit. However, it's interesting... really, it is ;D I love the characters :D Hiruma is so devilish! Basically, he blackmails ppl into doing stuff for him and the way he carries guns and other weapons and just fire is hilarious. Kurita is the sweet and nice senior - but he is huge. Sena is a nice character as well :D Anyway, it has a good mix of comedy, drama, sports and romance. What I especially like is that you learn a lot about american football - its rules, but also strategies and stuff like that.

Drawing-wise, the manga is quite appealing. Characters designs are quite simple, but it works and the mangaka's style improves with time.

So on my manga scale: 8.5/10. In other words, pretty good stuff and my next buy for manga.
(licensed in English by Viz and in French, by Glénat.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

For Mailyn

Hey Mailyn :D

You've been saying how cute my dumpling is and so I thought you'd like to see the original drawing :D
So yeah, I'm Natuschan, the dumpling... and the big purple ball is Yetichan :D Cute no?

Ever wanted to kick yourself?

That's how I'm feeling right now. I'm not done with my TBR pile yet, I have a manga to read as well and I have to watch like 9 eps. of House before returning the DVD, but it doesn't matter, I'm already thinking of my next buy (book)... I want this book after reading Cindy and Jay's reviews.

So why am I kicking myself? Because there's no more copies at either Chapters or Indigo or Coles in Montreal. In the whole Montreal. So that means I have to order it, either at the store or online and I don't usually do that. I know lots of ppl order their books, but I usually don't... and I'm even more angry at myself because I did pick this book up a few weeks ago. I was going to buy it! and then I put it back. ARGH. So yeah, it really angers me when I want to buy book and put it back down on the shelf and the next time, there's no more :(

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Recent reads

I'm really going to have to find a new title for my post - because recent reads is becoming quite redundant ^^;

Also, I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been visiting my blog and left messages :D it's really appreciated and it encourages me to keep blogging :D

I was on Romancelover's blog not too long ago and she had a review on Ways to be Wicked by Julie Anne Long and Ways to be Wicked was part of a series... so I decided to hunt down a few of her books and I ended up with The Runaway Duke and The Beauty and the Spy which is the prequel to Ways to be Wicked.

The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long: 2.5/5

The Runaway Duke, not the the runaway bride :P So Connor Riodan was the heir of a duke, but during the war, ppl thought he died and he never denied it, seeing this as his chances to escape a title he never wanted. So Connor became the head groom for Lord Henry. Lord Henry's youngest daughter, Rebecca, is everything but lady-like: witty, knowledgeable, ambitious, curious, etc. and her ambition is to become a doctor. I guess that during the 4 years, they both fell in love without realizing it.

Anyway, story starts when Rebecca wanted to spy on her sister's midnight rendez-vous with Lord Eldeston and got caught by their father in a compromising situation. Very rapidly, Rebecca is engaged to Lord Eldeston and the wedding is in 2 weeks. Rebecca tries her best, but finally, ended up confessing to Connor that she cannot marry Lord Eldeston even for her family. Connor becomes the hero and assure her that she doesn't have to and that they'll escape.

It should have been simple enough. It could have been quite interesting, but everything goes downhill when Rebecca decides to contribute to their escape by stealing money from her father. Only it wasn't her father's coat... and she took a locket with a very compromising portrait of the Duchess Dunbrook (Connor's widowed sister-in-law and ex-lover) and she wants it back.

Verdict: The story wasn't bad, but it could have been better as it took some unnecessary turns and detours. What failed the book though was the weak characters, main and secondary. For the main characters: I can't say much about them as they didn't catch my attention and personally, I didn't really care what happened to them in the end. Same for the secondary characters and even the villains. So that's why it gets a 2.5... a forgettable book that I'll probably give away... maybe.

Beauty and the Spy by Julie Anne Long: 3/5

This book was better and is the setting for a trilogy I guess, since there's 3 sisters.

Everything started with Anne Holt, the mother. She was in some chorus till she met the love her life, Richard Lodgewood (not sure of the name...), and became his mistress (he's a politician and not married by the way, but i don't know why he never married her). Anne then settled in a little country town and they have 3 daughters: Sylvie, Samantha and Susannah. Then, Richard is murdered and witnesses tell that it's Anne who did it, but she never left her house while Richard was in London. Luckily, a close friend of Richard, James, came and told her to run away and that he'd take care of the three daughters. So Anne had to run away...

17 years later, Susannah is engaged to a gentleman till the day her father, James, dies. Left penniless, her gentleman breaks the engagement - according to his mother, he's an heir and can't marry anyone who'll bring nothing to him. Luckily for Susannah, an aunt welcomes her to a village, Barnstable, where she meets Kit.

Viscount Kit Whitelaw is a spy for his majesty, but lately, his behavior has been bad - too much drinking, too much swearing and too much womanizing so he gets the choice: he either goes to Barnstable, his childhood estate to gather a folio or be exiled to Egypt. He chooses Barnstable. Then discovers Susannah... and they start to investigate why her father was murdered which led to her real identity...

Verdict: Okay, let's start with what annoyed me first a) it took me awhile to realize that the three girls were separated (which was clever, but it could have been mentioned in some ways). b) it annoys me that Susannah doesn't find at least one sister before the end of the book. c) Kit's age... he should be around 35-37 years old, but acts like he was 25. When you're 35-37 y.o. and a spy, you don't act like a spoiled child and your father doesn't have to tell you what to do.

Aside from that, it was okay I guess but everything happens so fast that you don't have time to digest it. And everything was quite easy: the courting, finding clues about James' murder, her sister, etc. At least, her characters were better than in The Runaway Duke.

Almost a Goddess by Judi McCoy: 3.5/5

So what attracted me to this book? The cover. I thought it was nice. Then the blurb didn't sound so bad. In the end, the book was light and quite enjoyable.

Kyra is the a demi-goddess, daughter of Zeus, the Muse of Good Fortune. Never heard of her? It's fine, because along with her sisters Zoe and Chloe, there are the three Muses that nobody remembers.

Mount Olympus has been upgraded and is now like a huge corporation where Zeus = C.E.O and where gods and goddesses have to undergo a performance assessment. At least the ones who have been slacking off like Kyra and her sisters... but try to inspire luck and good fortune and you'll see how difficult it is. In a few words, Kyra and her sisters' performances have been less than acceptable and Zeus has issued a challenge: go down on Earth for 12 months, inspire ppl, reach your quota and you'll be allowed to remain a goddess... fail and you'll become Olympus' slave... or worst, Hera's handmaiden. Oh and one more thing, you are not allowed to fall in love with a mortal.

So Kyra has chosen Vegas for her challenge, working in a casino, and everything has been going well for 11 months. Last month of the challenge, she's now coordinator of special event and is in charge of the Voice of Vegas contest - basically, American Idol for hotels and casinos staff. Then comes Jake Lennox who threatens everything Kyra has been working hard for. Jake, professional gambler, has been asked by Mr. T to investigate his casinos, because Mr. T has been losing money lately and suspects some sort of scam. After a week, Jake suspects Kyra to be part of the scam and decides to ask her out to investigate and find more about her. Kyra is attracted to Jake so she tries to avoid him, but in the end, they have to work together for the Voice of Vegas contest... and the inevitable happens, Kyra gives her heart away.

Verdict: as I say, the book was light and enjoyable. The analogy between Olympus and a corporation was quite funneh and believable. The real scam made sense, only you'd be surprised nobody caught on earlier. Characters were fine and the only thing annoying with Kyra was "I can't fall in love with him because I must return to Olympus." The perfect book to be reading on the beach.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Recent reads

I really should be typing my progress report, but I don't know what to write... so let's write this instead :D I don't know if it's been my mood lately, but I can't seem to find a book entertaining from beginning to end and I've been picking up little things that annoy me and usually wouldn't... Perhaps I should stop reading endings first. Anyway, I've been reading a lot of average books and am wondering if the grade wouldn't change if I was in a better mood.

Southern Comforts
by JoAnn Ross: 3/5

I usually enjoy JoAnn Ross' books and this one wasn't bad; however, it wasn't the best. The intrigue was so-so as well. On the first page of the book, you had a list of characters and a little description and their motives, but once you start reading the book, it's easy to eliminate more than half...

Cash and Chelsea used to be lovers during college and then, Cash left. However, don't worry, Chelsea wasn't heart-broken as Cash was only her boy-toy. Ever since she was young, Chelsea expected to marry Nelson, a snob, at the age of 30. Why 30? Because only then, would she inherit 2 millions $ from her great-grandmother. Before 30 y.o and bye bye the money. So obviously, she's not in love with Nelson, even Cash who wasn't ready to commit could tell. Then, of course, Nelson is cheating on her and she has no idea until she walks on him. I'm sorry, but this is just a bit too cliche for me. Then, she falls into Cash's arms and that's it. So not much romantic development really, not much tension either. You go to point A to B in a straight line. As a result, this book still gets a 3 from me because it's well-written and you can still enjoy it, even if the characters and the story are cliche and forgettable.

The Red Heart of Jade by Marjorie Liu: 3/5
*is Book #3 of the Dirk & Steele series

Genre: paranormal (psychic powers)

I first discovered Marjorie Liu through the live journal romance community where lots of ppl were praising her work. So I went out and bought the first 2 books of the series. Personally, I find the books - this one included - okay reads only. I think it's the intrigue, because aside from the romance story, you have an intrigue and it's always so... big, like a conspiracy.

So, The Red Heart of Jade is the story of Dean from the Dirk & Steele agency where all agents have psychic powers... Here, ick no. 1 - I don't think it was ever explain what Dean's psychic powers are exactly. It seems he can see everyone's energy and follow its trail in addition to having visions... but I don't think he's precog. Anyway, Dean, along with his parter Koni - a shapeshifter- is investigating a series of murders in Taipei involving a pyromaniac. Well inspecting the apartment of the last victim, he finds the picture of a woman - Mirabella Lee... the one and only one woman Dean has ever loved and who he taught was dead for the last 2 decades. Turns out that Mirabella is in danger and Dean involves himself, that everything is connected to the series of murders he was investigating and that actually, he's part of it too.

I'll skip the details, because it's way too complicated to summarize and that's the ick no. 2 - too complicated, too confusing for me. I had difficulty to keep up with the story. Too much details, too much characters that have no development. By the way, why doesn't Mirabella freaks out? She's not psychic and has never witnessed these things... so why? Just a little panic would have seemed normal to me... I guess she didn't have time.

Anyway, this book had good main characters - I liked Dean and Mirabella... by the way, Dean is so different than in Book #1 and I guess that's the true him, but it's the story that failed and lots of things left unexplained.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Recent reads - take 3

Okay, so the first time I tried to write this post I gave up... but then, I decided to start over, because the whole point of starting this blog was to share the books I read with the others and so far, I didn't really do it... so I started writing it up and then, lost electricity ^^; so hopefully, this time, it'll go up.

So, yes, I want to talk a bit about the books I've read lately, but I don't know in which format. I'm not the best writer nor am I the most coherent either... so yeah, I'm not the best reviewer and there's so many good reviewers in the romance blog land that I don't know if I can measure up (okay, I know it's not a contest, but...) I don't know if I should add the book blurb or not or whether I should write up a synopsis or just give my opinions... and talking about opinions, I don't express myself real well either, so... maybe I should just answer some questions. One review style I really like is Sandie's... so perhaps I'll try something similar to her...

But let's put everything aside and onto the recent reads now :D

Suzanne Brockmann is an author I'm not sure whether I like or not. I've read very few books of hers and so far, I've never been compelled to buy her backlist... Sure, I was a bit curious about some of her books and characters, because all her books are part of a series, but each time I thought of buying one of her book, I could stop myself. Even after reading 3 books this week-end, I'm still unsure...

The Unsung Hero : 3.5/5

This was a good book; however, there were too many sub-plots. I mean, if an author can squeeze 3 storylines in one book, then to me, it means that she didn't have enough material and had to scramble to come up with a full novel.

Tom and Kelly: They are the main characters and they're okay. It was nice that for once, the guy realized that he was in love with her first. What annoyed me was that Kelly was in love with Tom, but she didn't want to... she's afraid of marriage... but why?!? Personally, if it has been only their storyline, I would have bumped the grade down to 2.

Joe and Charles: Joe is Tom's great-uncle and Charles is Kelly's father and these two men have been best friends for almost 60 years... since WWII. I luv grumpy old men :P In novels, I've always loved how grumpy old men could soften to become reluctant sweet grandpa... not that it happens in this book, but still. Anyway, back to the book: both men were part of the 55th regiment and soon, it will be their regiment reunion (55 yrs. after WWII) and Joe will be celebrated as the Hero of Baldwin's Bridge town; however, he doesn't want to. Then, Joe is asked to be interviewed by a writer who wants to write the story of the 55th regiment. This create tension between the two best friends as Joe has agreed but Charles doesn't want him to talk. Basically, the story of this sub-plot is what really happened during WWII and who is the real Hero of Baldwin's Bridge.

Mallory and David: Mallory is Tom's niece and she's 18 years old. David, 20, is an artist who's working for the summer in Baldwin's Bridge and looking for a model for his new graphic novel's character. Mallory is somewhat of a rebel, but at the same time, she's sweet. She refuses to go to college because 1) her mom doesn't have enough money and 2) what will happen to her mom once she leaves? Then, she meets David who she considers a geek, but a nice geek. Anyway, story short, both fall in love with each other and it's so sweet! Both characters are sweet, but the most important is that they discovered what was inside :)

The Defiant Hero: 2/5

Basically, this book is not a keeper. I still haven't finished it, but I know... Anyway, here's the blurb:
The United States refuses to negotiate with terrorists." Meg Moore remembered the warning from her job as a translator in a European embassy.

Those same words will spell out a death sentence for her daughter and grandmother who have been kidnapped by a lethal group called the Extremists. Meg will do anything to meet their unspeakable demands; anything—even kill—to save her child.

When Navy SEAL Lieutenant, junior grade, John Nilsson is summoned to Washington, D.C., by the FBI to help negotiate a hostage situation, the last person he expects to see holding a foreign ambassador at gunpoint is Meg. He hasn''t seen her in years, but he''s never forgotten how it feels to hold her in his arms. John could lose his career if he helps her escape. She will lose her life if he doesn't...
The whole story is confusing to me and I'm not sure what to think of Meg. She kinds of double-cross John, but still, he stands by her side and is ready to sacrifice his military career for her. Quite noble... which is why Meg annoys me. Just accepts his help! Don't try to do it on your own, because seriously, what's your chance of succeeding? She involved him by asking him to be the negociator, then she throws him away again and again. Just doesn't make sense to me.

I have to say that I like the grandmother, Eve, plotline tho.... While Eve is being held as hostage with Amy, Meg's daughter, she re-tells the story of how she fell in love with her husband, Ralph, to little Amy. That's story is quite sweet.

Then, what annoys me in this book is Sam and Alyssa's relationship - is this your book? No... so how come you have more sex than the main characters? and how come all you do is have sex instead of doing something a bit more constructive? So yeah, Suzanne Brockmann tries to set up her next book, but they take too much place. They steal the screen time of the main characters and worse, their story is not settle yet.

Gone Too Far: 2/5

This is Alyssa and Sam's story which I understand, fans have been waiting for a long time. They first appeared in The Unsung Hero and some other books afterwards as well. I didn't read the books between The Defiant Hero and Gone Too Far, so I'm missing some parts of their story and that is something I don't like. I don't usually care reading random books in series, because I know that I'm only missing some bits of their story such as how they were introduced. However, in this case, I'm missing big gaps and I think it's something that the author shouldn't have done.

Personally, I wasn't that interested in Sam and Alyssa once I started reading the book, altho I've been quite curious about them since I read Hot Target a few months ago. So this was a major disappointment. Even the presence of Tom and Kelly from The Unsung Hero couldn't help me like the book... and the last storyline - Max and Gina - didn't make sense to me, cos once again, I was missing too many gaps from other books.

In a few words, Suzanne Brockmann's books are definitively not stand-alone books. You really need to read them all... and in my opinion, the intrigue kind of takes the backseats... and the characters are a bit unreasonable to my taste.

Charming the Prince: 2.5/5

Quite frankly, I didn't like the book. I think it's the main idea of the book that I dislike. Lord Bannor comes back from France after the war and must now take care of his 12 children - yes, 12. He can't... he can't bear them, they're too much for him. So he asks his steward to find a wife that will be a mother to his children.

Appears Willow - who's been taking care of her 6 half-siblings + i don't know how many step-siblings. She sees Lord Bannor proposal as an escape route, tired of taking care of her siblings that her step-mom keep popping out... however, becoming Lord Bannor's wife is not much better.

Then, you have Lord Bannor that finds his wife beautiful, but he doesn't want to bed her, because he doesn't want more children (his family line is very potent). At first, Willow is hurt by Lord Bannor seemingly indifference, then she understands. So she goes to the village's whore to seek for advices... urgh.

At first, I really pitited Willow. I mean, she was like Cinderella, except that her father wasn't dead: she was treated poorly by everyone, she had to do everything, etc. Then, when she finally escapes her faith, she ends up as Lord Bannor's bride with tons of children to take care of. Hello, Lord Bannor, wouldn't it have been easier to hire a few more nurse to take care of them. Having a talk with your children instead of ignoring them would have help also. Then, Willow seeking the village whore(Netta) was a bit extreme ^^; Wasn't there any older lady, someone who could have given her advice? Was Netta the last woman on Earth?

Other things I didn't like in the book was: Lord Bannor's son romance. Desmond is 12 years old and he's falling in love with Beatrice, 14, who is Willow's step-sister. Isn't that a tad to precocious? At least, make both 16, 17... that's a bit bearable. I like to see two young people fall in love, but this was really too young for me. Then, Stefan, another of Willow's step-sibling, this time, closer to her age, leecherous attitude. I mean, Stefan has been demeaning Willow ever since his mom married Willow's father, ever since he stepped into the castle. I guess, as they grew, Stefan has been lusting after Willow and looking for a way to take advantage of her. But then, sending his little sister Beatrice to seduce Lord Bannor so the man wouldn't marry Willow and that Stefan would get her was a bit ridiculous. Add to that the kidnapping scheme... really...

So didn't like the book... and the 2.5/5 is because they were some funny moments that made me laugh. Teresa Medeiros thus join Suzanne Brockmann in the category - do I like this author or not? So far, I've read After Midnight - her regency/vampire series - which didn't entice me at all and Yours Until Dawn which was quite good. So I guess I'm going to have to read more books to have a good opinion.

Thank you Kristie (J)

I'd like to thank Kristie for her help with my template :D She has shown me how to add pictures/sections in my sidebar :) So now, my blog does look more like a romance blog!

Thank you very much Kristie :D
You've been sooooooo niiiice :D and your help was really appreciated.


random thoughts

#1 - You never have enough of books

I think that I've reached a new low in my life... this morning, I had to sneak to go buy books... There's a difference between sneaking in the books you've just bought and to sneak to go buy books and I've crossed the line.

All I have to say is: I'm sorry Mom, but you don't leave me a choice.

I know that I buy lots of books, but seriously, it's aint that bad: I don't use all my paychecks and I re-read all the books I've kept. Yes, I've been quite dependent of my parents, but for the past two years, I've tried my best to buy books with my money and I've been quite successful. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I'm home almost every night of the week by 7 pm... I go out with my friends perhaps once a week only to go to the movie or out to eat (almost never both at the same time)... and even when we go out, we don't go clubbing. Basically, I live a simple life and my weaknesses are books, tvb series and eating out (most of the time, lunch). Really, I think I'm a good girl... and still, my mom frowns at the number of books I buy. At least, books are cheaper than clothes!

I've been quite frustrated about it for the past week... and it has gotten worst when my sis told me that my mom came in in my room to stare at my bookcase, asking how much it was worth... my sis answered that a book is about 10$/each... and my mom asked my sis to count them!!!! The good thing is my sis didn't do it... she's too lazy and in her opinion, I have too many books.
Seriously, I'd consider it a problem if I wasn't eating because I bought books or if I couldn't pay my rent because of it (not that I'm paying any rent) or if I was neglecting stuff, but I am not. The situation probably wouldn't be as bad if I had a good library, but they aren't any...

So yeah, went to Indigo and Chapters this morning, while my parents are still at the temple, to buy books and hid them.

#2 - Do you think that education is overrated?

Okay, education is probably not over-rated, but to go to university/college is. I was watching a tv show yesterday where the parents insisted that their daughter went to college. A new movie is coming out soon, where the main character could not get into any college, so he decided to fake one... I've just learnt that my little cousin, in the USA, is going to college next September and will stay at a residence and it will cost ...

30,000$ US/year

Wow, that's 10x what I paid in my undergrad for a year. So basically, my whole undergrad studies cost 1/3 of what she has to pay for a year. it's something to think about... and I've been wondering if it was really worth it... The way people talk nowadays, it seems that you can't have a good life if you don't go to college, but what happens once you're in? Because of university, it's become more difficult to know what you want to do in your life... it's been difficult to find the motivation. In science, a bachelor is not enough... so you have to go on and do a master if you want a good job. Once you're done with your master, you really have to think about continuing. Yes, doing a Ph.D. will give you a better salary, but hello... it's at least 5 years. Worse, how many job positions is there for Ph.D.? I know lots of ppl who have a Ph.D., but end up doing a job of a master degree... anyway, nowadays, Ph.D. is not enough , you need a post-doc. So yeah, I'm wondering what will ppl need in 5 or 10 years to work.

Also, university doesn't prepare you to the real life that well. Yes, you get good education, but will you be able to apply everything you learn? And then, how much will you have to learn in addition when you get your job. Anyway, this probably mostly apply to science, cos that's been my only experience, but it's quite depressing. I've thought many times during my undergrad that perhaps, I should have become a secretary - do you know how many job offers they are on the market with good salary? tons compared to sciences.

Oh, one last thing... my supervisor right now is from France... and European school systems are quite different from North American's... as in, education is free (at least in France and Germany). At least, your undergrad. The other day, we were talking and I've always wondered about those huge national exam that they have in Europe... You had to pass the national exam in order to get your degree (and you have one for almost every subject), so can you imagine the amount of stress. I was wondering why there weren't any in North America (I don't count the US SAT exam, because you have to pass in high school and it's more a placement test for university) and basically, he told me that with the amount of money you pay in N.A, you expect to get a degree at the end... basically, we are buying our degrees... Somewhere, I think he is right.

Anyway, something to think about it...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Auto-buy and no-no

Yes, another post.

So I've been cruising the romance novels community and I'm curious... so I guess I have a little survey:

Which authors are your auto-buy? (i.e. whose books you are sure to buy no matter what)

Kay Hooper, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Jennifer Crusie, Linda Howard, Katherine Stone, Catherine Anderson, Judith McNaught, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kelley Armstrong and Sharon Sala/Dinah McCall.

(wow, there's more than I thought... how come I couldn't think of it while I was driving?)

What is your favorite romantic genre and which one is a no-no?

First of all, I love contemporaries... I found that historical (such as regency, western, etc.) have too much restrictions and so, stories tend to be similar.

Luv - Contemporary/Contemporary romantic suspens
Paranormal (psychich powers, vampires, werewolves...)

Okay - Sci-fi and fantasy

No-no - western and new colonial; those two just bore me.

so what about you other readers?

Libraries - argh!!!!

So, libraries are usually bookworms heaven... i mean, libraries = free books right? and that's awesome, I mean, you never have enough books. Never.

However, let me tell you that Qc province libraries sux for English readers. Big time.

I am so frustrated! I do read in French, but I've chosen to focus on English a few years ago for few reasons: 1) most of the books I read were written in English and so, it's much better to read in its original language instead of traduction. 2) It's less hassle - no 10-12 verb tenses, no real gender - which makes it easier to read and more casual. 3) Much more books.

So yeah, for me, it's much more fun reading in English than in French... however, being in a French province... most budget goes to French books. It's totally understandable and in small towns, it's fine... however, not in Montreal... not in "la Bibliotheque nationale du Quebec." I went this afternoon for the first time in what, 3-4 months... even longer. I want to cry... In a library of 6 floors, English suspens+romance+sci-fi books took up 5 shelves units. FIVE.SHELVES.UNITS. Pretty pathetic for such a big, big library...

Then, there's the slow processing of the books and the choice of books... yes, all the popular authors are present - Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Barbara Bradford... but what about other less popular authors? what about other genres than pure romance?

so yeah, I'm frustrated at the moment... esp. because I cannot go buy more books :(

Template... HELP!

hello ppl :D

so, I need help... seriously... I've been playing around with my blog lately - bet you didn't even notice- and that's exactly the problem. I'm having difficulties with the template... this is hard. First, I want to add stuff in the side bar, so how do I do this?

1) I have a pic of natuschan (a character) that I'd like to post as my pic in profile like Tara Marie

2) I guess it's same problem as no.1 - how do I post covers of books I want/am reading, etc. in the side bar?

3) I saw that some other blogs had "Recent comments" feature and I was wondering how we put it up or is it a paying option...

sigh, yep, so any help would be greatly appreciate!!!

thanx in advance

*edit - oups... for #1, I didn't refresh... silly me*

Monday, July 17, 2006

July TBR challeng no 3

So I'm catching up on reviews and posting :P and perhaps I should stop calling them TBR challenge, but since they fit in the theme, let keep it that way :)

Before starting my review, I have to say that if there's one author I can't truly be objective with, it's probably Kay Hooper... actually, no, it's her FBI SCU series that I'm biased. Don't ask me why, it's just like that. There was a very good post about series and how/why a reader can still find a series interesting or how an author can keep going and still make the series fresh, but I can't find it. when I do, I'll link it... anyway, for this series, I think that the secret is that there is only 1 book per year and it is a very painful wait.

Anyway, before I got further, perhaps just give a brief summary about the series...

Kay Hooper's FBI SCU series - where SCU stands for Special Crime Unit. This unit is very special, very casual and have a high success rate. Basically, they are called into difficult cases when most investigators have hit a dead-end and the agents of the unit "use uncoventional and intuitive investigative methods and tools to solve crimes." Basically, the agents have psychic abilities - precognition, telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. and even some don't have a name... So you're going to tell me: psychic abilities... However, let me tell you that Kay Hooper backs it up well with theories, explanations and possibilities, she makes it believable - at least to me. Of course, the series is not for everyone, as lots of ppl have a hard time believing in psychic powers, but if you can do it - if you can believe, accept, don't mind, whatever - these books are a joy.

So to continue, other reasons I think that her series is quite successful is that different agents have different abilities, with different degree of control and etc. Some are incredibly powerful, others quite weak, almost not psychic - so they have to compensate by other means. Also, she doesn't drop hints of all the other agents of the unit in every books, as in she doesn't prepare readers for her next book by introducing or mentioning them (like Sherrilyn Kenyon). In addition, you get a new agent per book and the only character present in every book is Noah Bishop, the one who created the SCU, and his role is quite limited. Sometime, he'll be with Miranda, his wife, or Tony Harte, another agent... and Bishop is in no way like Ash (from the Dark-Hunters series) - as in, he's not solving everything and his story is over, so there's no waiting for his books, which is actually clever.

anyway, enough. I'll probably dedicate another post to the FBI SCU series, but let's get on with the challenge.

Title: Sleeping With Fear

Author: Kay Hooper

Year published: July 2006

Why did you get this book? Because I've been waiting it for a year. Kay Hooper/ FBI SCU series have become an auto-buy for me.

Do you like the cover? The cover is good I think. The spiderweb is the common theme for this trilogy and I can actually believe that it's Riley on the cover, so kudos.

Did you enjoy the book? I did - it was really worth the wait! Although, I pulled an all-night to finish it... i guess i didn't really savour the book :P

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again?The author is not new to me and yes, I would read her again. I just wished she would post a bit about her next book!

Are you keeping it or passing it on? Definitively keeping it :D

Anything else? I have to say, Kay Hooper is doing a good job with this series. I've praised the series quite a lot at the beginning of the post and I have to add - yes, they are repetitive elements in the story, but she's been able to keep the plots quite new by exploring different avenues - in this one, it's the occults.

I have to add that Riley Crane was a cool main character to follow and a tough nut. If I was in her shoes, I would have been freaking out so much! and it's quite sad she can't remember meeting Ash (not Sherrilyn Kenyon's Ash, but Riley Crane's Ash ^^: ) - I'd like to have read about it :P What's also interesting is that the "paranormal" has been kept to a minimum, so Riley doesn't use her powers all that much. The storyline is a bit confusing, just like Riley's memory, but I think that adds to the book.

So, final verdict? It is not going to replace my favorite of the FBI SCU series, but for sure, it's not at the bottom :D and it is still a great book :D

July TBR challeng no 2

I have to say I am quite happy that this month's challenge theme is "romantic suspens" cos it's really my genre :D

So here we go for my second challenge:

Title: Angels Fall

Author: Nora Roberts

Year published: July 2006

Why did you get this book? Bought it at Chapters... I cave in, I wasn't going to, but heard good comments...

Do you like the cover? It's okay. A bit bland... it would have been nicer if the author's name and the title wasn't all over the cover and if there was more color in the pic.

Did you enjoy the book? Yep, it was a great read

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Haha, it's Nora Roberts :P 'course I've read her before... and yes, I will read her again. Only question is: hardcover or can I wait?

Are you keeping it or passing it on? Keeping it :D (hardcover after all, but even if it was a paperback, I would keep it...) I hardly ever pass on any Nora Roberts' books...

Anything else? Like I say, the book is a great read. I was quite disappointed by NR last two books (Northern Lights and Blue Smoke), but this one is much better and worth it. The story is interesting: Reece is quite brave and I like Reece and Brody interaction... man, he really doesn't sugarcoat anything! I actually like small-town stories, so this was fun :D

So, let see... I'm a bit experimenting how I'm going to do my reviews... I mean, there's so many great bloggers with really nice and not detailed, but well-written reviews ^^; Okay, so...

- characters are good, believable, entertaining, lovable.
- great plot/storyline; just going through Reece's evolution was great... the suspens was just a bonus
- timeline spanned a few months, but the transition was great.

- I thought the intrigue was resolved quite fast at the end... I guess it's like that in real life, as in you only need one clue to solve the whole puzzle...
- the ending was quite abrupt... i mean, what about all the other characters? okay, they weren't that important, but still... Mac, Doc, Joanie... What about Reece restaurant? will she open it or not? So yeah, the ending was quite open (which I don't usually like, I like it spelled out)
- the secondary love-story was a bit blah as in not developed enough.

All in all, still very good :D Oh, and one thing tho that Angels Fall cannot compare with Blue Smoke is the family dynamics since Reece is pretty much alone.... which is a pity, because NR is great at family dynamics.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July TBR challeng no 1

So already few weeks since the first post ^_^; oups. But there'll be more reviews, I swear! So, an interesting blog that I found was AngieW blog with the TBR challenge. I did sign up for the June one, but got lazy ^^; So to make it up, I'll do 2 for July (or perhaps more). I also like the format of the review... So here we go:

Title: Cover of Night

Author: Linda Howard

Year published: June 2006

Why did you get this book? I got this book because I liked her previous books such as Now You See Her, After the Night, Dream Man and the John Medina's books.

Do you like the cover? Hmmm... not really. I mean, it's much better than regency covers (no offense to anyone) and it's her new "look" cover. I mean, the last few books all had similar cover, but I didn't like any of them. Worse, this year's cover is glazed and so texture is not even fun to touch :P

Did you enjoy the book? Hmmm... it was okay, not the best. I'll probably go re-read other books of her instead of re-reading this one tho.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Linda Howard was not new to me, I think I started reading her books last summer. For sure, I'll read her next book, but probably going to wait in paperback instead of buying the hardcover

Are you keeping it or passing it on? It's a hardcover, so I'll keep it :P I would probably have kept the paperback too tho, just because I like to have all the books of a particular author.

Anything else? I've read a lot of comments and reviews after finishing the book and majority of ppl agrees that this wasn't LH greatest book. It's still quite good and superior to some other reads, but because it doesn't reach the high standard that LH has set with her previous books. Cover of Night joins Dying to Please and Cry no More - other LH books that I didn't like.

For those who are interested, this is what I've written at the In Death Forum about the book:

***Warning: There are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!***

I don't think that Linda Howard has lost her touch, but this book is another disappointment. Last year's book, Killing Time, wasn't great, but at least, it focused on the main characters. If I have to choose one between those two books, it would be without a doubt Killing Time ^_^;

So what happened? One, the storyline was a bit hard to believe... I know that there are many, many small towns in USA and that, they get it probably worst around mountains - as in they are isolated and perhaps, have really bad cell phone connection, but having a bunch of "hired guns" coming into that little town and do what they did, well.... it's hard to believe and get into it. Basically, those "hired guns" took over the little town: blew the bridge, cut electricity and phone lines and shoot at random ppl. So, it's hard to believe, but I don't read fiction because i want it to be realistic... I could have accepted if the motives were good, but they weren't. Even now, I have difficulties to understand why those "hired guns" went through all that trouble.

Then, the author spent way too much time writing about the villains POV and it killed the book. She should have give some developments to the main characters relationship or to the secondary characters. We need some insight of the villain, yes, but not that much. All the author achieved was to make me skip those parts.

The main characters relationship was okay, but... she went to "still mourning her husband" to "I should be nicer to the shy handyman" to "why am I having those thoughts about the handyman" to "yes, I'll marry you." Too fast, no smooth transitions. In addition, the ending was kind of bleh. The way the "hired guns" are dealt with, Jeffrey Layton and everything. It's like, the main characters had nothing to do with resolving the problem at hand.

anyway, it wasn't bad writing. the setting of the book was actually great. I think the downfall was the planning - what to write, what to focus on, what to develop. that's where she missed the turn this time. In Killing Time, the story was a bit bland, but okay. In this book, the ideas were good and suspens could have been awesome, but she didn't focus where she should have.