Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

I might have been on the last bandwagon for the Mercy Thompson series, but I'm determined to be on the first for Cry Wolf... I just love Anna and Charles LOL :)

As a new fan of the series, I was very happy to find out I wouldn't have to wait too long for my next Patricia Briggs werewolf world fix, as Cry Wolf was coming at the end of July. I've been checking the online store indicator for the past week, 3 times a day, and I rushed to the bookstore when it finally appeared that they had received their copies. Luckily for me, it was already shelved too!!

There's already been a lot of good reviews for the book and here is mine :)

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
published by Berkley in July 2008

Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she'd learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country will recognize her value as a pack member and as his mate.

Genre: urban fantasy, werewolf
Series: Alpha and Omega, book #2 (book#1 is the novella by the same name as the series in the anthology On the Prowl) - also connected to the Mercy Thompson series.

The Story: Anna's background was given in the back blurb, so I'll just add some facts. She was part of the Chicago pack and her alpha had her brutalized in order to keep his mate 'sane.' Because of the alpha's bad decisions for his pack, Charles Cornick, the Marrock's son and enforcer, was sent to deal with him. After taking care of business, an injured Charles is returning to Montana with Anna.

From the first moment, Anna and Charles were attracted to each other and their wolves have chosen each other as mate. She has followed Charles in order for her to learn how to be a werewolf as well as to work out their relationship. Not to help matter, Charles is sent to hunt down a rogue werewolf...

My Opinion: This book was great and I hope it'll turn into a series :) I simply love Anna and Charles, they are such a cute couple with awesome chemistry between them. I really enjoyed their interaction with each other and how Charles was so protective and their possessiveness towards each other. I have to admit however that a little bit of communication between each other would have helped, but then at the same time, that's Charles and Anna... Two quiet personality, but unbelievably strong.

I lift my hat to Ms Briggs that she was able to write Anna's character with such balance. What I especially like is how you cannot mistake Anna and Mercy. Both women are so different, obviously not from the same mold or template. I find myself loving Anna more than Mercy. Mercy is all strong, tough and independent while Anna's strength is more subtle, more admirable. I also loved Charles and personally can't wait to find more about it. I like how the appearance of Anna in his life has changed things, changed him a little. I hope that Anna will be able to bring out a bit more of joy...

I think the storyline was great and I definitively enjoyed the mystery. It was very interested and definitively not I was expecting. I like how the synopsis and first few chapters makes you believe that the werewolves have it all figured out and then, there's a huge twist. Ms Briggs was very clever with her writing. Another interesting aspect of Cry Wolf is that it definitively focuses more on the werewolves, the dynamic of the pack, the rules and the way they live. In the Mercy Thompson series, we had other paranormal races introduced and so, Ms Briggs had to build those races, eg. the vampires or fae. In Cry Wolf, as I said, it's very focused on the werewolves and it's different to see it from the werewolves point of view. Mercy might have been raised with werewolves, but after all, she's a coyote. Also, there are a lot more background information on the Marrock, Sam and Charles which make it very interesting and kind of fill some holes.

Finally, I have to applaud Ms Briggs writing. Cry Wolf takes place, time-wise, after Moon Called but before Blood Bound. Ms Briggs was able to go back in time, set Cry Wolf in that time frame seamlessly. Also, what I like the most is that Cry Wolf was written at the third person, so you get everyone's point of view and it gives a distinct feel to the book, different from the Mercy Thompson series. Yes, the books are connected and occured in the same world, but if Ms Briggs decide to start a series with Charles and Anna, then there will be no mistaken the two. By changing the point of view, Ms Briggs was able to give a sense of uniqueness to Charles and Anna.

My Grade: B+ . A great book with more romance than I expected. The only reason it's not getting an A is because I thought it was a bit rushed and I'd have like for Charles and Anna to have more time to get to know each other, spend more time without any threat or pressure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Review: Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery

Okay, as you know, I spent the whole week-end reading and so I have a lot of reviews coming... Although Sweet Spot is not the one I want to review first, it's the one which thoughts are coming the easiest... so I'll just get over with it :)

Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery
published by HQN books in August 2008

"Responsibility" should be Nicole Keyes's middle name. After all, not many people would sacrifice their lives to run the family bakery and raise a younger sibling. But with Nicole's twin sister now blissfully married and her younger sis turning out more femme fatale than girl-next-door, super reliable Nicole is getting sick of putting everyone else's needs first!

Enter Hawk. The deliciously sexy former NFL player offers Nicole a taste of the freedom she craves. Hawk may know the way, blindfolded, to her sweet spot, but Nicole's not about to let him get close enough to break her heart. Of course, she might not have a choice in the matter if Hawk's past keeps getting in the way of their present...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Bakery sisters, book #2

The Story: Sweet Spot picks up where Sweet Talk left off. So to recap a little bit: Nicole and Claire are twins with Jessie is the baby sister. Claire is a genius professional pianist who was sent away at age 6 to focus on her music career and has rarely been home ever since. At the death of their parents, Nicole was the one who had to take care of running the familial bakery and raising Jessie. When she found Jessie in bed with Nicole's husband Drew, let just say Nicole blew a casket and kicked them both out of the house. Then, Jessie used the family recipe to sell Keyes chocolate cakes, further infuriating Nicole who wants to press charges.

Sweet Spot opens with Raoul, the star quarterback of the local high school, trying to steal 5 dozens of donuts. Unfortunately for him, Nicole sees and stops him. Lucky for Raoul, instead of being arrested as Nicole wanted, his coach Ethan Hawkins, aka Hawk, shows up and the trio works out a deal where Raoul will work at the bakery to pay off his 'theft.' There's an instant attraction between Hawk and Nicole, which Nicole is determined to resist until she's had enough with all the sympathy and pitying glances she gets from her surroundings and decided to struck a deal with Hawk: he pretends to be her new boyfriend and they'll have sex. At the same time, she bonds with Raoul who has no family and is living on the street... With these 2 new men in her life, Nicole's life is about to get more complicated...

My Opinion: So I like Ms Mallery writing and I was glad to learn she had a new trilogy out and that the books were being released back to back. However, Sweet Talk turned out to be disastrous. I didn't review the book; however, Anne and Dev did and I agree with them whole-heartedly. Talk about a dysfunctional family!! Claire wasn't so bad in Sweet Talk, but her sisters... although I found Jessie the most annoying... She was just so immature! Ugh. So yeah, imagine my surprise when I wanted to read Sweet Spot, crabby Nicole's story, after reading the excerpt. What can I say, I like jocks in books LOL :)

The good news is that it wasn't as bad as Sweet Talk, yay!! Bad news is that it wasn't such a great book either. Let's talk with what I liked (always easy :P)... I actually liked Nicole here, well at least better than I did in Sweet Talk. Yes, she's still crabby, but she's less unreasonable. I guess it's because you see her from a different point of view. Also, her relationship with Claire is much improved, so there were less arguments. What I like most about Nicole is that she knows she's a crabby, bitchy person... but that's who she is. She's also real in some ways and I like that we got to see a softer side of her personality as well.

I loved Raoul. He was just such a nice kid and definitively brought out the best in Nicole. Seriously, if he was a couple years older and real, I would totally go for him. I like how protective he was of Nicole and how, even at 18 years old and against his coach, he was looking out for her. Also at the end, when he's choosing which college to go to, his desire to stay close-by to Nicole is very sweet. He was definitively the best part of the book, LOL :P

Hawk wasn't what I imagined based on the excerpt. He used to be a NFL player, but when his wife died of cancer, he quitted so he would have time to take care and raise his daughter. Yes, daughter, Brittany, who sure wasn't mentioned anywhere!!! The whole former NFL player retiring to take care of his daughter after the death of his wife reminded me a lot of Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson except that here, Hawk has really loved his wife. Hawk and Nicole did have chemistry and their personalities match quite well, i.e. that Hawk can be crabby and obnoxious at times, as well as be a very stubborn man, but then, he does have more charms than Nicole. The only thing that was off between the two of them is that sometimes, Nicole feels older than her 28 years old. Because he's so responsible and crabby, she sometimes appears to be a frustrated 40 years old woman ^_^;

All right, so up to this point, it wasn't so bad. Sure, the heroine is not sweet and witty, but it's a nice change... the hero is not as moony as I'd like him to be, but hey, there's Raoul. Where it went bad is some of the arguments between Hawk and Nicole, the whole Brittany fiasco and everytime Jessie appeared.

***SPOILERS from now on, you've been warned!

Let's start with the Brittany fiasco as that is going to explain a lot about Hawk and Nicole's arguments. Hawk and Seneca were very young when they had Brittany and as EVERYONE can expect, it wasn't easy to have a baby at such a young age. Especially since their parents turn their back on them and they were in a new town for college where Hawk had a scholarship. However, they didn't want Brittany to feel unwanted and so they 'idealized' that part of their lives... so much that Brittany bought the fairy tale and decided she wanted to start a family at 17, relive her parents' lives with Raoul. So yeah, she gets pregnant (luckily, it's only a false pregnancy) and is hurt when her father doesn't take it well. Well duh!! What do you think? What I liked about this whole fiasco is how Hawk realized that his daughter was so spoiled and immature and punished her. He grounded her for 6 weeks and she's all like: 'I hate you' and 'I wasn't that bad!' Please!! She wasn't that bad?!?!?!? Hello!!! Let see, first she lied to her father about having sex (not that I blamed her), then gets pregnant. When her father blows a casket, she leaves home to move in with Nicole and Raoul, then gets a fake ID so they can elope. And she wasn't that bad?!? I wonder what bad is in her definition. The girl is totally immature and spoiled and at certain times, came off as a 14 years old girl. That part was bad...

Then, you have Hawk and Nicole in the middle of this fiasco with Hawk taking all his anger out on Nicole. Poor woman, she didn't do anything wrong! She warned him and well, she's not the mother of his teenage daugher and she took Raoul in afterwards... So why is he yelling at her? Luckily, Nicole is a strong woman and can take it and she's even understanding about that part... but seriously... maybe Hawk should calm down and think a little bit with his head. I also disliked it a lot when he walked away when she told him she was pregnant... Guys, whenever you tell a woman that you love her and that immediately afterwards, she announces that she's pregnant... don't walk away. Sit down and discuss it or at least, tell her you need to think. Just don't walk away like that. Ugh.

Finally, Jessie. So, she wasn't the one coming onto Drew and they didn't actually have sex. Still, she was found in bed with her brother-in-law wearing nothing her panties... Obviously, your sister is going to be mad at you and you have some explaining to do. It would help for you to not be a drama queen!! Not accuse the whole world of not trusting you and being wrong... Not play the victim!! No matter what, you have to take some part of the blame and assume the consequences. I still find Jessie way too immature and selfish...

***End of spoilers

So in short, I think that most of the time, Hawk shouldn't have yelled at Nicole, because it wasn't her fault. Also, some of his behaviors were really childish and I was happy that Nicole was strong enough to stand up to him. She was also strong enough to call on his faults, i.e. his big ego and selfishness, which of course, didn't endear him to me. I also thought that there was a lot of drama in this book: Hawk and Nicole relationship, the Brittany fiasco and Jessie, whom I still think is selfish and immature. All Nicole is waiting for is an explanation and an apology and everything would have been solved. All right, perhaps not solved, but they would be on their way to heal the relationship. Thank god there was Raoul to even out everything as well as the minor appearances of Claire and Wyatt. In the end, I think the dysfunctional family has just acquired some new members ^_^;

My Grade: C+ . Not Ms Mallery's best book, but definitively a step-up from Sweet Talk. If you like books with mature teenager bonding with an adult, this is very nice. If you enjoy drama, you definitively want to get this book, LOL :P

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week-end frenzy!

Wow, is it me or bloggers have been more active during the past few week-ends. There used to be a time where they'd be only one or two posts put up... Anyway, I'm not used to this schedule LOL :)

So just to let you know that if I haven't commented or posted this week-end, it's because I've been reading!! I totally scored this week at the bookstores :) Here are the books I got:

- Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
- Grace Valley trilogy by Robyn Carr
- Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery
- Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen
- A Mom's Wish by Karen Templeton
- Just one of the guys by Kristen Higgins
- Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros
- The Sharing Knife (Beguilement) by Lois McMaster Bujold (hardcover for 6$!!)

by mail:

- Windswept by Ann Macela
- A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond
- Feint of Art by Hailey Lind

So as you can imagine, I've been busy reading and I'll definitively have tons of review coming up this week!! So I hope everyone's having a great reading week-end!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's official!!!

All right everyone! It's official!! I got the job! No need to worry anymore and no doubts in my mind! YAY!!!

I have to go meet him again on Monday to finalize the details and fill the paperworks :D

You guys don't know how much I'm relieved!! I've been stressing since I sent him my first email saying I was interested. Thing is, in order to start in mid-August, I had to give in my two weeks notice this Monday as well... so I've been panicking at the lack of response... Finally, I sent him another email this morning asking for confirmation.

A big thank you to Ames and everyone else who's been listening to my worries and stuff. You are the beset!!!

Review: Upon The Midnight Clear & Dream Chaser

In the past week, like everyone else, I'm sure, I've been assaulted with promotional e-mails for the release of Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The leader of the Dark Hunters is finally getting his own book on August 4. Although I lost interest in the series, I still feel like reading Ash's story... and so I thought it'd be nice to catch up a little...

Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon
published by St. Martin's Press in October 2007

Ever think Scrooge had it right before the ghosts ruined his life? Meet Aidan O’Conner.

At one time he was a world-renowned celebrity who gave freely of himself and his money without wanting anything in return...until those around him took without asking. Now Aidan wants nothing of the world—or anyone who’s a part of it.

When a stranger appears at his doorstep, Aidan knows he’s seen her before…in his dreams.

Born on Olympus as a goddess, Leta knows nothing of the human world. But a ruthless enemy has driven her from the world of dreams and into the home of the only man who can help her: Aidan. Her immortal powers are derived from human emotions—and his anger is just the fuel she needs to defend herself…

One cold winter’s night will change their lives forever…

Trapped together in a brutal winter storm, Aidan and Leta must turn to the only power capable of saving them—or destroying them both: trust.

Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Dream Hunter, book #2

The Story: Aidan O'Conner was once the Brad Pitt of our world, but after being betrayed by all his friends, family and lover, he became a reclusive Scrooge who hides from everyone. Unfortunately for him, his brother Donnie who is in prison for trying to murder Aidan, somehow got access to an artifact and was able to summon Dolor, god of Pain.

Leta is a Oneroi, a dream hunter. Centuries ago, she fought Dolor and was able to send him away. She put herself in stasis, to be awakened only when Dolor is released. Knowing that Aidan is his prey, Leta gets close to Aidan in order to use him to fight Dolor.

My Opinion: Okay, I'll be blunt... I think this book should never had been published. There's so many things that are wrong with this book... I'll start with the most obvious: the format of the book. The first thing that hits you when you open Upon The Midnight Clear is the size of the font. Double what it is usually! Most time, I don't really care about stuff like this, but seriously, when it's so big? It was bothersome. Also, the length of the story... Was this a joke or what?!? I've just read on Ms Kenyon's website, minutes ago, that this book was 'longer than a novella but not quite as long as a book.' Well no kidding! It also says on her website that this story was very dear to Ms Kenyon and that she's been wanting to tell it for a while... which makes me feels bad, but at the same time, that's not written anywhere besides her website! I think that Ms Kenyon should have work on it a bit more, flesh it out to turn it into a decent, regular novel. If not, she should have published a book of anthologies or something... Simply put, as it is, Upon the Midnight Clear feels like a rip-off to me...

Okay, onto the actual story and characters. Not much to say, except that the story and characters were not very well developed. The story was too short, not many twists as we're accustomed with Ms Kenyon's novels. It was quite straightforward, not very original and I think that her ending concerning the heroine has been overused. In most novellas, because of the shortness of the story, you often don't connect with the characters. That's what happened here. I couldn't connect with either Aidan and Leta. Yes, poor Aidan... betrayed by everyone... what I didn't really understand is why? I needed more than 'I hate you!! I've always hated you' from Donnie... but even if I was ready to accept that reason, what about Aidan's best friend? Leta was meh... Her lines just came out corny and phony to me.

Another problem is the number of secondary characters Ms Kenyon added. There were just so many... Also, Robert, Richard, Ronald?!? Granted, those weren't very important characters, but couldn't their names be a bit more different? It was just confusing! Not to forget a couple more Gods were introduced. I just felt overwhelmed by everything... the characters, the story and even the ending.

My Grade: D. One word to sum it all up, bad.

Dream Chaser by Sherrilyn Kenyon
published by St. Martin's Press in February 2008

Hades doesn’t often give second chances...

Xypher has one month on Earth to redeem himself through one good deed or be condemned to eternal torture in Tarturus. But redemption means little to a demigod who only wants vengeance on the one who caused his downfall.

Until one day in a cemetery...

Simone Dubois is a medical examiner with a real knack for the job. Those who are wrongfully killed appear to her and help her find the evidence the police need to convict their killers. But when a man appears and tells her that she’s more than just a psychic, she’s convinced he’s insane.

Now the fate of the world hangs in her hands...

It was bad enough when just the dead relied on her. Now’s there’s the seductive Dream-Hunter Xypher who needs Simone’s help in opening a portal to the Atlantean hell realm to fight insatiable demons. The future of mankind is at stake—and so is her life. The only question now is: Who is the bigger threat: the demons out to kill her, or the man who has left her forever changed?

Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Dream Hunter, book #3

The Story: Xypher is half demon, half dream hunter (read god) who's gone stoki and tortured by Hades the past couple of centuries. After helping out Katra and Sin in Devil May Cry, he bought himself a month on Earth where he has a chance to redeem himself through good deeds. Instead, all Xypher has on his mind is revenge on Satara, Stryker's sister, who addicted him to feelings and turned him stoki.

Satara knows that Xypher is after her and is finding ways to eliminate him. She comes up with these Atlantenean cuffs... if one of the two persons handcuff dies, the other does as well. In addition, they cannot leave be more than 20 feet apart or they'll both die as well. Simone Dubois is the unlucky recipient... lucky for Xyper however is that she is used to 'paranormal.'

My Opinion: I picked Dream Chaser right after Upon the Midnight Clear. My thinking was if I don't pick up it right away, I might never... It was definitively better than Upon the Midnight Clear, but that wasn't hard to do. You definitively feel Ms Kenyon's writing in this one and it follows like most of the Dark Hunter books in the series.

Xypher follows the mold of all the previous heroes in past book and Simone, of all the heroines... but it has been a winning recipe and it still works. Some of the banter between the two were entertaining... One of my problem though is some of the feelings that Xypher felt, such as longing and loneliness, came off as phony to me. It's just hard to describe, but in simple words... I just didn't feel or believe it. I think Ms Kenyon is trying tos hard to make her characters flawed with tragic past... After 10+ books, it is just too redundant... but then, at this point, you don't really read the books for the characters; more for the story.

Speaking of story, it was okay, nothing ground-breaking. You have the handcuffs part that reminds me of Night Pleasures (Kyrian and Amanda) and actually, Xypher and Simone are very similar to Valerius and Tabitha. Overall, the story was entertaining with lots of guest appearances from previous books: Ash, Simi, Julian, Katra, Carson and so on.

I have to admit, I'm getting tired of this series... the freshness is gone. Another problem is how Ms Kenyon keeps introducing elements to make this series complex. At this point, I feel like she should be resolving some of the storylines, not introducing more. We continue from Devil May Cry with the introduction of the gallu and dimme demons... and this time, you add in half-demons, Charontes in liberty, cross-breeding between the races and Jaden, the mysterious lord of demons... it's just too much.

My favorite parts? Jesse, Simone's ghost companion. He was cute and fun to read, especially his interactions with Simone and some of the stuff he would say to Xypher :)

My Grade: C... I think that's it for me. I'm going to read Acheron and voilà. By the way, next book is One Silent Night and it's Stryker story!!! Who wants to read about Stryker?!? (with the introduction of another villain). Thanks but no thanks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Review: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Hi people :D

How was your week-end? My week-end was very lazy and uneventful. Read a bit, ate and slept a LOT ^_^;

I sent an e-mail this morning to the professor for the job. I'm waiting for his reply and confirmation. I'm quite nervous because I had to give my 2 weeks notice as well... Hopefully, the professor won't be changing his mind. Sigh. So that was it for me today... waiting for a reply... (can't he hurry up?!?!)

All right, onto the review. I reviewed Moon Called and Blood Bound last week for my TBR Day challenge. Many of you were interested in my thoughts on Iron Kissed, so here it is...


Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
published by Ace Fantasy in January 2008

I could smell her fear, and it satisfied something deep inside me that had been writhing under her cool, superior gaze. I curled my upper lip so she could get a good look at my sharp teeth. I might only weight thirty or so pounds in my coyote shape, but I was a predator...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape - but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not.

Mercy's loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can't decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her...

Genre: urban fantasy, werewolf, fae
Series: Mercy Thompson, book #3

The Story: To me, the back blurb pretty much covers it all... so I won't go over it.

My Opinion: Okay, confession time. Iron Kissed was my least favorite in the series so far. Not necessarily because of what happened to Mercy at the end, although of course, it wasn't my favorite moment. I just have this mental blockage against the fae.

I don't know what it is between me and fae, but I haven't had a book yet where I enjoyed them... and Iron Kissed was no exception. I had no interest from the beginning and the intrigue didn't pull me in. So yeah, book didn't work for me... Wasn't because of the plot, writing or characters, I simply wasn't interested.

I did enjoy any scene with Warren and Kyle :P Still love them :) What's cool also is that we get to see another face of Ben. I can't wait till Ms Briggs reveals more about his past, because there's a story there. Finally, I really appreciate that Ms Briggs hasn't dragged the love triangle between Sam and Adam. Was it necessary to have people tell Mercy to make a choice now? I don't think so... As I said in my previous review, I don't think there's a real love triangle... it's pretty obvious who Mercy loves more... but it's nice that the love triangle is now over. We can focus on something else in the next book :)

My Grade: I did give this book a B- when writing up my monthly reads... but now, writing the review, it feels more of a C range... but then, I don't think it's fair to grade it. So yeah, no grade :P

Friday, July 18, 2008

Good news!!

Hello everyone!!

Just a quick post to let you know how it went! Basically, I think I got the job. I say I think, because the professor told me to go home and think about it and then email him if I was still interested. So there was no: You got the job affirmation... but well, yeah, I'm interested, so I guess that means I got it... right?

*EDIT: Not sure if my explanation was clear, but just to precise... from the way the professor talked and how I understood it is the job is mine if I want it... and I do :) I just need to confirm with him... I think :P

This morning, I woke up and we had thunderstorms and it was really bad. I've driven in the rain, but I don't think ever when it thundered. Anyway, I could see the sky changing color from gray to pink-purplish when there was thunder. I was quite nervous this morning... I didn't know what to expect and after talking with my friend, I gave up on reading articles to prepare myself.

I got to the interview early, so my friend gave me a tour and quick explanation. Then it was time to meet the professor. Basically, here are the following questions he asked: where are you working presently and what are you doing? why are you leaving? what do you like of your present work? what was your master project? when could I start? Then, he went on explaining what were the projects in his lab and what he was looking for.

I think this job is really good and fits the criteria I had. Yes, my salary will decrease and significantly. However, the working place will be closer, the job more stable and interesting.

So now, I have to send him an email telling I'm interested (either Monday or Tuesday), ask my references to write an email recommending me (although being referred by my friend seems to be enough :P), give my two weeks notice. I'll be starting mid-August... so if everything goes well, I should have 2 weeks vacation. Yay me :)

That's it, you guys know everything about the interview :) I'd like to thank everyone for their support. It was great and truly appreciated!!!

Review: A Match Made in Hell by Terri Garey

I read Dead Girls are Easy last year when it came out and although not ground-breaking, I enjoyed it enough to wait and buy the sequel - A Match Made in Hell - when it was released.

A Match Made in Hell by Terri Garey
published by Avon in June 2008

A brush with death and a brief trip to the hereafter left vintage clothing store owner Nicki Styx an unwilling ghoulfriend to the dead. She can see and hear spirits, and boy, do they want to be heard! Luckily, her new boyfriend, sexy doc Joe Bascombe, is there to help, especially when Nicki faces her latest ghost, a woman in pink sequins who holds the key to some family secrets.

Unfortunately for Nicki, it turns out that there are more skeletons in the family closet than she thought, including a twin sister and a mysterious house full of spirits and surprises. Things go from bad to worse when the devil himself shows up, determined to lure Nicki from Joe's side. Will she give in to temptation and sell her soul (or someone else's) for one incredible night?

Demons may be a ghoul's best friend, but with this particular hottie, it could be a match made in hell!

Genre: paranormal romance (ghost)
Series: Nicki Styx series, book #3 (book #2 is novella in anthology)

The Story: In Dead Girls are Easy, Nicki had a near-death experience which resulted in her ability to see ghosts. She also met Dr Joe Bascombe, her new boyfriend, and discovered that she had a twin sister... Joe's wife.

A Match Made in Hell starts out with a bang when a disorientated ghost named Peaches appears in Nicki's store and directs Nicki to the car crash site that claimed her life where her daughter needs help. Imagine Nicki's shock when the daughter discovered turns out to be her twin... but it doesn't end there. Turns out Kelly is also able to see ghosts... and their maternal grandmother, Bijou, shows up at Peaches' funerals, wanting to teach them about their roots... but what if Satan is part of their roots?

My Opinion: Sigh. Okay, so this was a miss for me :( This was a tricky sequel to carry on, but based on the excerpt I read, I thought Ms Garey would pull it off andI really, really wanted to like it, but unfortunately didn't.

There were a couple of issues for me. First of all, Kelly. OMG, I found her annoying ^_^; She ruined it for me. Perhaps I've read too many books with psychics in it, but I know that when you suddenly starts to see ghosts, you should be cautious and careful. However, no, Kelly just barges into it and put everyone at risks. I can understand why she acted the way she did, but perhaps because I was feeling the same as Nicki and so Kelly just rubbed me the wrong way.

I found Nicki a bit standoff-ish in this sequel. The way I remember her, she was a bit more warm in Dead Girls are Easy. Therefore it kind of annoyed me a bit the way she kept Joe at arm length. However, it wasn't so bad until the characters start to mention it so much. It seems Ms Garey was emphasizing on issues that weren't really there.

Finally, the love triangle between Joe and the two sisters. So the situation is that Kelly and Joe married young and for the past 4 or 5 years, Kelly has been MIA. Joe met Nicki and fell in love with her and is looking for Kelly to demand a divorce. Then out of no where, Kelly reappears. Definitively an uneasy situation I wouldn't like to be in. For sure, this was going to be tricky... thing is, I felt like the characters react wrongly. Let's start with Nicki... Did she really expect Joe to ask Kelly for a divorce as soon as she came out of the car accident and announced that his new girlfriend was her twin? I also didn't like how Kelly clung to Joe, although it was understandable. My problem is that she never loved him... so what? Are you just being childish? He's mine, you can't have him? Overall, Joe was okay. Poor guy, stuck in this situation. Thing is, you already know the situation is tricky, plus Nicki has doubts... so perhaps you should do your best to clear things up?

Oh and one last thing... In the story timeline, about a month or two has gone by between the two books... and even in Dead Girls are Easy, I think it spans what, one or two weeks? Everything happened very fast, but to the readers, it seems like a lot of time has gone by... literally months. As a result, I felt Nicki should have been more comfortable with her abilities and accept them. It felt like she wanted really badly to deny seeing ghosts and just want them to leave her alone... however, we all know that it's not going to happen. It just wasn't fun to read Nicki seeing ghosts because they were so inconvenient for her :(

So yes, lots of issues bothered me, enough that the rest of the storyline didn't grab me and couldn't salvage A Match Made in Hell. It seems that the storyline is only going to get more complicated, but at least, Kelly is far away now.

My Grade: C- . I think I've said it all...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Review: Twisted Creek by Jodi Thomas

Nothing to do with the review, but just has to get it out... I'm getting nervous about the interview... it's tomorrow!!! On one hand, I think that I'll get it... on the other hand, I'm like I shouldn't get my hopes high... and well I might not get it. I'm trying to rationalize my nervousness as: Que sera, sera... (What will be, will be)... still, I'm nervous.

Doesn't help I've never had a real, formal interview. I've read on prostate cancer yesterday (which is the professor's field). I'm planning to read his articles as well as get more information on what he's working on at the moment... and tomorrow, I'll review my Master project... I wonder if I'm expected to present it?!?!?

ps - OTT again, but did you see? I finally updated my sidebar LOL :)


So onto the review now!! To start, I have to thank Dev for reading, enjoying and reviewing this book. I've said it already and I'll say it again, there's nothing better than having someone with the same reading tastes as you! It's just awesome! :)

Twisted Creek by Jodi Thomas
published by Berkley in April 2008

Bad luck's been biting at Allie Daniels's heels all her life, so when she inherits a tiny cafe in a small Texas community she's sure there's a catch. But Allie brings her grandmother along, and the cafe gives Nana a chance to do what she does best - cook. As the pair settle in to make the best of what surely must be a mistake in an old man's will, the people of the town drop by. Lonely folk discover there's always a "table for one" available, with down-home food to warm the soul. An old maid, a shy young man, and a drifter, slowly become the family Allie never had. When trouble comes, Allie finds she's not alone anymore -- and that, sometimes, the only cure for bad luck is the courage to love.

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: none

The Story: Day after day, Allie Daniels try to make the ends reach and it's getting more and more difficult. Abandonned by her selfish mother at the age of 3, Allie was raised by her grandparents. After the death of her grandfather and the loss of the farm, Allie has been trying to provide for Nana and her; however, it always involved small jobs and moving around a lot... till she inherits a tiny cafe/general store from Uncle Jefferson. Problem is, she doesn't have any uncle Jefferson. Nonetheless, she and Nana travel to Twisted Creek, Texas to take possession of the cafe. Although she fears that at any moment, the lawyer will tell her 'Oh, it's been a mistake,' Allie and Nana still settle down and she is surprised to see that everyone in the small community has been expecting her... and Allie starts to hope and dream again, maybe she has found her place?

My Opinion: This was a great book and I simply loved it. Ms Thomas penned a very good storyline that flowed seamlessly. I was totally engrossed in the book and the characters.

I liked Allie. I thought she was really humane and could be any woman out there. She doesn't have a tragic or dark past, but it doesn't mean life has been easy or good to her. Due to all her struggles as a provider, Allie is a very realist woman. She isn't cynical or negative, doesn't blame the world for her misfortune or plays victim. At the same time, she doesn't dare dream, because she's afraid she's going to be disappointed. As a result, it's very nice to readers to see her settles in such a small community and finding her place, finding people with whom she belonged. I also enjoyed her relationship with Nana a lot, because for so long, there was only each other to rely on. Nana is also an exceptional woman in my opinion... and so I was so sad for Allie, to see and realize how old Nana was getting... In my opinion, you can't help but admire Allie and Nana for surviving.

I also liked Luke Morgan a lot. Luke is the hero... He's an ATF agent on vacation who came to Twisted Creek to investigate Jefferson's death. Jefferson was Luke's grandfather's best friend and was very present in Luke's childhood. He doesn't understand how someone who's live by the water all his life could drown 'naturally.' I enjoyed Luke's quiet personality. I think that his being just exuded strength and protectiveness and he and Allie simply match together. There is a romance going on between the two and although it is very subtle, it is present and I enjoyed it.

There's also a whole cast of characters called the Nesters, people who live at Twisted Creek all year. Some are hiding from reality, others are waiting... They were all interesting characters and again, felt very humane. What hits me the most is that it was their choice to live such a simple life... people might think of them as losers, but they are strong and have their own reasons.

As for the storyline... Ms Thomas mixes it up a lot. There is a little mystery, a little romance, but it mostly focuses on the characters and their relationships. To me, it was just fun to see Allie and Nana settling in and the people coming together. I enjoyed the slow-paced and thought it really fit the book. The setting and ambiance in Twisted Creek reminded me a little bit of the Virgin River trilogy by Robyn Carr... not the storyline or characters, but how isolated and secluded the two 'towns' were and how people came together as a community to support and help each other.

So yes, I loved it :)

My Grade: A. I really recommend Twisted Creek if you're looking for something a bit different, something slower-paced and focused on characters. Even those who didn't enjoy Virgin River so much, you should give a try to Twisted Creek... because although the setting is similar, the feeling when you read the book is different :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TBR Day: Moon Called and Blood Bound

I see a pattern in my reading when it comes to series. Either I jump on the wagon from the start and then spread my love (or sometimes dislike) or I play catch up and run after the wagon. With the Mercy Thompson series, it's the latter that happened. When Moon Called came out, it got good reviews so I bought the book... and it sat in my TBR pile. Then, Blood Bound came out and I bought it too.. and guess what? Yep, it joined Moon Called in my TBR pile and I have no idea why... because I've only seen positive comments for this series. Still, it took my good buddy Ames to convince me to read them :) and so, I'm glad to be able to review them for this month's TBR Day.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
published by Ace in January 2006

Werewolves can be dangerous if you get in their way, but they’ll leave you alone if you are careful. They are very good at hiding their natures from the human population, but I’m not human. I know them when I meet them, and they know me, too.

Mercy Thompson’s sexy next-door neighbor is a werewolf.

She’s tinkering with a VW bus at her mechanic shop that happens to belong to a vampire.

But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself…and her connection to the world of things that go bump in the night is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.

Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson, book #1

The Story: Mercedes Thompson is a not a werewolf... She's a skinwalker and can change into a coyote. However, having been raised in a pack of werewolves, she has a pretty good understanding of them. A Volkswagen mechanic, she lives in Tri-Cities where non-humans seem to have gathered: her neighbor, Adam, is a werewolf and probably the second most powerful alpha, her mentor, Zee, is a fae and her good friend Stefan, vampire.

Then one day, a new werewolf walks in her garage shop asking for a job. Next thing Mercy knows, he's being attacked and Mercy discovers he was changed against his will. Bringing the young werewolf to Adam, Mercy hopes all problems will be resolved... Of course, that is until Adam's home is attacked leaving him severely injured and his daughter is kidnapped.

My Opinion: All right, so what took me so long to read this book?!? I really enjoyed Moon Called. I like Mercy: she's a strong woman and very independent. Having grown up with werewolves, she knows how to deal with men and people who dislike her. I also think she has an interesting background, since she has a human family and I wish to see her interacting with them in the future.

However, what I like best is the world that Ms Briggs has created as well as the werewolf culture. Moon Called is taking place in a time of transition... Paranormal creatures have started to show themselves to humans, starting with the lesser fae. Werewolves are debating whether or not they should reveal themselves. I think it adds an edge to the storyline. As for the werewolves, as I said, I like what Ms Briggs has done with them. None of the werewolves are born werewolves... they all have to go through the change, survive it and adapt to their new lifestyle. Some do it better than others. There's also the fact that female werewolves can't carry babies to term and even when werewolves mate with female humans, there are high risks of miscarriage. It adds lots of drama :P

The most interesting aspect of the werewolves in the Mercy Thompson series is the hierarchy/dominance. I think it's the first time I come across a series where there is so much emphasis on it and where it plays such a central role. Yes, we all know about alpha and submissive and it's been mentioned in other werewolves books... but in most books, dominance is only mentioned briefly, establishing who is THE alpha and then forgetten. There is no way you can forget how important dominance is in the Mercy Thompson series. I find that all behaviors are truly governed by it, as it should be. This in my opinion is what makes the series stands out so much.

Being the first book in a series, Moon Called can't escape the numerous characters introduction and information dumping. However, I think it was well done, well incorporated into the storyline. It probably helps that Mercy is not a werewolf, but has knowledge about them. Having been raised with them, but then kicked out, there are many moments where she reflects on the Pack.

Finally, the storyline :) I truly enjoyed it. I like how one event happened after the other. Yes, there was a lot of action, but it wasn't always fast-paced and that gave the author opportunities to impart information with the readers. I thought the intrigue was very well built. My only disappointment is how everything was resolved at the end. First, it was happened too quickly, I felt it was a bit too rushed. Second, I didn't like how Mercy was the one who figured out everything. She is well surrounded with Adam and Sam... but no, it was all Mercy. This gave the book a bit of a Mary Sue feeling. Also, although there was a lot of background information on Mercy, there are still some things I don't understand. For example, why is the Marrock Pack so wary of her? Why does the Marrock mate hates her so much? I hope that these questions will be answered in future books.

My Grade: B+. This book has gotten a lot of positive reviews and comments ever since it came out and it totally deserved it all :)


Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
published by Ace in January 2007

Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind. But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside him...
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson, book #2

The Story: In Moon Called, Stefan, Mercy's vampire friend, helped her getting information. Now she owns him a favor and Stefan is here to collect. It should have been a harmless errand where Stefan pays a visit to a stranger vampire with Mercy accompanying him in her coyote shape... However, it ends up in a blood bath with Stefan having no recollection of what happened except waking up with blood all over and Mercy fainting... Later, they discover that some demon-possessed wizard is the cause of their problem... However, how to stop such a creature?

My Opinion: Okay, hard to believe, but I enjoyed this book even more than the previous one!! Part of it is because of Stefan. I really enjoyed his character, he's so different than any other vampires I've ever come across and provided some good laughs and moments LOL:)

I think that Ms Briggs did really good with Blood Bound. The plot was tighter, probably because Ms Briggs didn't have to spend too much time setting the world and storyline, the intrigue more interesting and easier to follow and the action, more fast-paced. Dominance continues to play a major role here, especially with Warren, Mercy's good gay werewolf friend, injured and other werewolves trying to get his position and Adam's temporary disappearance. I also loved seeing Warren and his boyfriend make up :)

In this book, we also see the love triangle unfolds where Mercy is stuck in the middle of two werewolves: Adam, her new love interest, and Sammuel, her teenage crush. It doesn't take up much of the book though, but it gives depth to Mercy in my opinion. I know that Mercy makes a decision in Iron Kissed, the third book, but even in Blood Bound, you know who Mercy has in her heart and who she will choose.

My only complaint for Blood Bound is that there was an even more Mary Sue-ish feeling to the book than in Moon Called. Mercy is once again the person who saves the day... while all the males are otherwise occupied ^_^; However, what annoyed me most is why did Stefan had to love Mercy as well? Wasn't Sam and Adam, the two most alpha werewolves in the vicinity, enough? Why did Stefan has to have romantic feelings for her as well? I thought it would have been better if they were just friends... or perhaps, I'm pissed at Mercy's treatment of Stefan at the end.

My Opinion: B+/A-. I wouldn't have hesitate to give the A- if it wasn't for the ending between Stefan and Mercy :(

ps - anyone knows why Mercy's tattoos are different in each cover? Is it significant?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Opportunity no.1 (con't)

So how is everyone?

I wanted to write a post yesterday, but I was busy wrapping books to send and running around. Then, once I got home, I had this major headache... Ugh. Hurt soooo much. Hopefully, I won't have another one anytime soon. However, I'm all better now :D Speaking of all better, the dry patch of skin on my eyelid is gone!! Yay!! I did have to bring out the big guns though to get rid of it: cortisone. Unfortunately, I started having an eczema spot behind my left knee... Ah well. It is better than in the face...

I didn't do much this week-end. Just the usual: read, ate and slept. I read Twisted Creek by Jodi Thomas (review to come), Pitch Black by Susan Crandall and Dancing with Fire by Susan Kearney. I loved Twisted Creek!!! Thank you Dev so much for reading and reviewing it!! As for the other two, they were meh/okay reads. I've also finished Tribute by Nora Roberts last week... anyone interested in buddy reviews? LOL, yeah, I know... I do sound a bit desperate about buddy reviews ^_^;

I didn't eat much goodies during the week-end except for last Friday night. I went out for sushi with some friends at my favorite Japanese place... and my friend went crazy with her sushi order... and I've discovered the unagi sushi: tuna and eel. Yummy!!! The eel was sooo soft! And I had white tuna for sashimi... the white tuna just melt in my mouth :) Gosh, just talking about it makes me hungry.

Last week, I couldn't wait for Tribute to arrive (I pre-ordered it) so I bought another copy in-store. My plan is to go to the bookstore later today and return one of the copy. Then, I went to the manga store last Saturday and bought Full Metal Alchemist volume 17... which turns out, I already had :( So now, I have two books to return :( I hate returning stuff...

Okay, enough blablabla... So last week, I told you guys that my contract wasn't going to be renewed. I got an official letter yesterday saying that it wasn't because of my work, just the company didn't have enough funds. Whatever, like I care for the reason. Anyway, turns out that all the other contract people in the lab also got a letter ^_^; So that's what? 5 other persons in a lab of 20-25. Definitively sucks...

Last week, I also mentioned job opportunity no.1 and said that if I got an interview, I would tell you more... well I'm having my interview this Friday at 2pm!!! :) So here is the deal... during the BBQ, my good friend S who has just finished his master and going for his Ph.D said that the research assistant in his lab just got fired (he was stalking a woman). So when I heard that my contract wasn't going to be renewed, I contacted S and asked if his professor was still looking for someone. The prof is still looking, so S put in a good word for me and I sent my CV... Result: intereview this Friday :D Yay! I'm probably taking the easy way out, not looking around too much and just applying for this research assistant position, but I think the job is perfect for me. Why?

Reason no.1: Change of working environment/atmopshere. I'm going from the industry to academics. There is more flexibility in an academic lab, you are more independent. The research is also more interesting. At my current work, I'm doing routine screening... so I'm doing the same thing over and over with different compounds... and at the end, the only thing that matter is the value. Meanwhile, in an academic lab, depending on the project I'm assigned, I'm going to do stuff on my own, start the research from scratch... do different things depending on the results. Yeah, definitively more interesting :) and frankly? When I did my master degree, I really enjoyed the lab... while here. No comment.

Reason no.2: Better co-workers. Seriously, I like my current co-workers... individually and in small dose. On their own, they are very nice... others more stubborn and direct than others, but it's okay. Put together, not so much. Lots of whispering behind one's back. Lots of negative attitudes, petty fights and so on. At the other job, well it's a very small lab... mainly the prof and my friend... I've known my friend for 8 years now... and sure, you'll tell me that knowing someone and seeing someone everyday is different... but then, I did my bachelor with my friend... same major, same class. We just get along really well.

Reason no.3: Stability. Okay, so the biotech/pharmaceuticals industry isn't going well lately and I've heard more companies are laying-off employees than hiring. However, I've never heard of an academic lab closing or laying off personal. Also, S has warned me... the professor wants someone for longer than a year. For someone that's been on short contract (the longest being 6 months), longer than a year sounds good :)

So yeah, I think the job fits what I want. My only concern really is the salary. It's well-known that the industry pays better... and I don't really know what to expect from an academic lab. So I'm expecting a decrease in salary, which I don't mind so much. Better to have a job that pays than no job at all right? and then, if I like the place more than here, then I'll be a winner. At the same time, I can't help but hope that the salary will be equivalent since I'm not making as much as I should presently.

Okay, I guess I've written enough for now :) I'm probably boring you guys to tears (which you'll deny because you're such good buddies!)... It's just I'm just so excited... and scared... and I can only rant/vent with you guys!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Review: Light my Fire by Jane Graves

Last month, I bought, read and enjoyed Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves. I enjoyed it so much that I tried looking for her back list... and only could find one: Light My Fire. So here is what I thought of it...

Light my Fire by Jane Graves
published by Random House in October 2004


Defense attorney Ethan Millner is paid handsomely for his ability to charm a jury while ruthlessly slashing the prosecution. He’s living life in the fast lane, until he’s slapped with a reckless-driving charge and sentenced to forty hours of community service on a crime-watch patrol. Now he’s under the thumb of the chairperson of the city’s crime-watch council–a beautiful but no-nonsense woman determined to make him pay his debt to society...


Sandy DeMarco is familiar with Ethan’s cutthroat character in the courtroom, as well as his notorious bad-boy reputation with women. Still, when the quiet of Sandy’s neighborhood is shattered by a brutal murder and an employee of hers becomes the prime suspect, Sandy knows the accused’s only hope is the man who will win at any cost. Working alongside Sandy, Ethan begins to feel sparks of attraction that ignite into love–even as a killer burns to silence those who threaten to uncover his secrets...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: DeMarco siblings, book #3 (?)

The Story: The back blurb does a good job as a synopsis, so I won't be adding more.

My Opinion: This book was an okay read. It wasn't as funny as I expected and was quite predictable. On one hand, you had Ethan - a disillusioned defense attorney who's completely disgusted with himself and is not sure how long he can keep doing his job without losing his conscience. On the other hand, you have Sandy - the goody, goody woman, always ready to believe in people. So already, readers know grossly what is going to happen between them... and it's exactly what they get. I didn't love the characters, but didn't dislike them either. In my opinion, nothing really made them stand out... I did enjoy their chemistry and how they interact with each other however... although I thought that Sandy fell for Ethan a bit too quickly. That to me was a bit unbelievable. I also liked how Ethan needed Sandy as his conscience and when he walked out on his father at the end.

The murder and the investigation were really interesting and kept me guessing. It was quite a good intrigue and made the book better. The only negative thing about it is I kept wondering why Ethan and Sandy were the ones investigating though. I mean, Ethan is a defense attorney... so yeah, it can pass... but Sandy is a florist!!!

My Grade: B. All in all, Light My Fire was an okay read and could have been better if the characters stood out a bit more.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Opportunity no.1

hi everyone :D

It's been quiet... where are you all?!? LOL... I guess I have too much free time, right?

I'm reading Tribute by Nora Roberts at the moment. Yes, I broke down and went to buy another copy... I'm still waiting for the one I pre-ordered. Really missed the timing this time. I like it so far. Have to admit that it reminds me a bit of Angels Fall... both heroes are writers, although Ford is definitively less moody and more cheerful :) Both heroines are trying to start a new life... as always, NR writes awesome relationships... but more when I finish reading it :)

I've sent my first CV yesterday :) I'll give you guys more details if I get an interview, which I hope so. The job I'm applying for really fits what I want... so wish me luck. So that means that I'm done updating my CV, I also wrote my professor who supervised my master. He'll be happy be my reference. Two of my current supervisors have also offered to be references... so this is good :) I wasn't going to tell my parents about it... since there's still some time before my contract ends. I don't want them to worry, but also, I don't want them to bug and pressure me... I had to tell my mom this morning though, in case they call to set up an interview.

That's it for now... Oh, anyone in the mood to do some buddy reviews?!?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Burst my bubble...

Not too long ago, Isabel had this post on her blog about her bubble. I remember reading her post and thinking, that's exactly me. I have this comfort zone and it's just darn hard to get out of it.

Just to recap the situation... some time during my undergrad studies, I lost my motivation that would have pushed me to achieve stuff. I don't know why or how, but I just lost it... Then, after my undergard, I went straight ahead and did my master degree, because truth was, I was too scare to leave the student life and become an adult. While doing my master degree, I found this job... and come September, I'll have been here for 2 years.

When I started this job, I knew it wouldn't be forever. I have been on short contracts ever since I started... 4 months here, 4 months there... 6 months here, 5 months there. My goal was to stay here at least a year and a half to gather experience and then, find a new job... Thing is, with the job market pretty saturated in my field, it's just hard to look for a new job. So I got comfy in my position, doing the brainless work and collecting a steady paycheck.

Well guess what? Yep, they've just burst my bubble. I've approached my supervisor last week, asking him about my contract. See, it ends at the end of August and rumors are that none of the contract will be renewed. I had my doubts about it since late April, early May... so I've started looking for work, but nothing really serious... well now, it's confirmed. My supervisor said that the chances were slim that my contract will be renewed. Not because I'm not doing a good job or the work I do is unimportant... just because they are short on funds.

Ah well... what can I say? For the moment, I'm not too worried about it. In a way, I'm actually glad cos this is the kick I needed to move on. Time to re-motivate myself and achieve something... At the same time, I would welcome a few weeks off... I've never had a real break... I went from undergrad to master to having a job, without a pause... and well since I was on contract, I haven't had "real" vacation for a long time... and since I'm still living at home, I don't have that much expenses. It's not as if I had student loans and lots of bills to pay (phewww)...

Of course, on the other hand, I'm panicking... first, like I said, job market is saturated and R&D in biotechs and the pharmaceutical industry isn't doing great at the moment. Add in the fact that I don't really want to re-locate... Maybe it's time for me to find something else to do? I haven't told my parents yet, because then they would worry and be nagging me about looking for a job. I am looking... just at my pace.

So there... my bubble is gone... burst...

However, I'm not done with my ramblings... sorry ^_^; You'll have to bear with me a little bit more... first, my head has been itching soooo much!! I have eczema on my head. Yes, on my head... worst place to have it! and I really don't know why it's been so bad lately? Usually, it gets better during the summer... perhaps my body is stressing?!? All I know is that I hate it, because you have dry skin coming off... Speaking of dry skin, I have a patch of it on my left eyelid. Seriously, these things happen to me at the weirdest place.

Also, I lost my Indigo/Chapters coupons :( I had 3 5$ off coupons and I don't know where they are!! I think they slipped out of my book journal :( It just plain sucks. Luckily, I can still use the 5$ off online...

Now, you know I'm really whining... because my copy of Tribute by Nora Roberts still hasn't been shipped!!! I'm thinking of going to the bookstore and buying it... Then, I'll return the copy I get by mail... I really need a good book to get me back in my reading mojo... Plus, Holly has just reviewed Death Angel by Linda Howard and she makes the book sounds sooo good... Should I get it?

So enough whining and ranting... to finish on a good note, I'm going to see Indiana Jones 4 tonight!! I've already seen it with some friends, but my dad wants to see it... I think the last time my dad went to see a movie, it was Crocodile Dundee 3 LOL :) So rare!!

ps - by the way, anyone has suggestions/recommendations for urban fantasy/fantasy books with romance in it?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Review: When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs

Hi everyone!!

How are you doing? It's been very, very, very quiet on blogland... however, given that most had a long week-end, I am not surprised. My plan this week-end was to laze around and read, read and read... Although I didn't do much, I didn't read as much as I wanted... although at least, I did book shopping :D but that's for another post.... I'm definitively behind in my reviews and although it'd be better to go back in time and review books I've read earlier, I feel like reviewing When Demons Walk by Patrica Briggs, one of the books I read this week-end :)

When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs
published by Ace Fantasy in June 1998 and re-printed in March 2008(?)

Sham had spent most of her young life as a sorceress and thief, stealing from Southwood's nobility to survive. Now she must face the greatest test of her skills...

A killer has struck Southwood, claiming the lives of nobles. Lord Kerim, Reeve of Southwood, turns to Sham for help. Posing as his mistress, she delves behind castles walls to find the killer. But this murderer is no mortal - and Sham must use all of her magical wisdom to send the demon away. Because the city of Southwood has nowhere to hide - and no time to run...

Genre: fantasy
Series: Sianim series, book #3 (stands alone)

The Story: Years ago, Shamera lived in the castle, the daughter of the Captain of Guards and apprentice to the King's wizard. However, her life changed drastically when the Cybellians overtook Southwood. Now an orphan, the only dear person to Shamera is her master, Maur, a broken man. In order to survive in the slumps of Southwood, Shamera disguised herself as a boy and became a thief... however, her world is once again rocked when her master is killed by a demon.

Lord Kerim, like any other Cybellians, does not believe in magic. All he knows is that nobles are dying, some attacked in sealed rooms. Recently afflicted, the Reeve cannot investigate this series of murders by himself and therefore asks for Sham's help. Passing her off as his mistress, he hopes she will find clues and will be able to explore the homes of the nobles... However, he is about to learn that magic indeed exists.

My Opinion: I bought this book on my trip to California earlier this year. Although at that time, I still haven't read the Mercy Thompson series, I still bought it because 1) the cover was pretty and 2) I've heard only good things about Ms Briggs. After reading the Mercy Thompson series in June, I was left wanting more... and if I can't have more of Mercy and the werewolves, I can at least get more of Ms Briggs' writing.

I enjoyed this book. I have to admit that I've always liked storylines where heroines cross-dressed as men. Don't ask me why, LOL :) Of course, that's not the only reason why I enjoyed When Demons Walk. First, Shamera was a great heroine. Smart, knowledgeable and witty. Although she lost so much, she didn't dwell too much on the past and wasn't focused on revenge either. She accepted the situation and made the most of it. I really liked her strength of character. It was really a pleasure to see her playing the role of Kerim's mistress... her outrageousness. Having lived in the bad parts of Southwood, she's developed great insight and understanding. Lord Kerim was also an interesting character... the bastard son of a Lady, he became the Reeve with his strength as a soldier and his wits as a tactician. Unfortunately, I don't think that his character was as developed as it could have been. That said, I like Sham and Kerim's chemistry. I felt that both characters raised above what was expected of them... they didn't blame the circumstances, they accept and overcame them and it gave them this 'zen' aura.

As for the intrigue, it was very well constructed. I enjoyed reading about it, how Sham and Talbot, the new Master of Security, found ways to convince the Reeve that demons and magic existed. One thing that was truly enjoyable is that both parties kept were open-minded. You didn't have two pig-headed characters trying to prove their point. True, Kerim didn't believe in magic, but at the same time, when he had tangible proof, he didn't go on and on trying to deny it and finding explanations. As for Sham, she knew when not to push it. I wasn't too lost either in the political fights and that was good.

Unfortunately, there are some elements that dimmed my enjoyment. It says on Ms Briggs' website that this book is a stand-alone set in the same world as Masques, Ms Briggs' first book. While I agree that the plot can stand alone, I found the background information insufficient and had difficulty finding my footing in the beginning... especially concerning the conflict between the Southwoodmen and the Cybellians... and so the world building, to me, was incomplete.

In addition, although I know this was a fantasy book... there is some romance going on. However, all the feelings came from Shamera. She's the one who realized she fell in love with Kerim. She's the one who was jealous and whose heart ached... but then, at the end, out of no where, Kerim said she was the only person he trusted. It's obvious that at the end, Kerim has feelings for Shamera... however, I'd have liked to have witnessed the evolution of his feelings. It's true that throughout the book, Kerim laughed a lot at Shamera's antics and seemed to enjoy her company... but it wasn't enough. I guess I would have liked for Kerim to say the three magic words.

Finally, Ms Briggs did an awesome job building Shamera's character; however, I felt that there should have been more. It's said that Shamera rescued her master from prison... how? What happened to her after the Cybellians overtook the castle? How did she escape? What about her cave with her treasure? Of course, all these loose ends are explained when you go on Ms Briggs' website and read the author's comments. Turns out When Demons Walk was supposed to be the first book in a series... However, what are the chances that readers will get a sequel 10 years later?

My Grade: B. I enjoyed this book a lot... unfortunately, I feel that it is incomplete... and so I can't give it a higher grade.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Around the Web...

Nothing very new today... I started The Brass Bed by Jennifer Stevenson... but quickly realized that it wasn't for me. I don't know... First, I hate love triangles... when my heroine gets with a hero, I want them to stick together and not look around. However, in The Brass Bed, it seems the heroine, Jewel, as the choice between Clay, a con artist, and Randy, a sex demon... Hmmm. The worst is that this is a trilogy and I guess the love triangle won't be resolved soon. Luckily for me, I didn't buy the 2 other books. For once, I was wise :)

I was going to switch book, but then, we lost power... which came out of nowhere... no storms, no strong wind... Since it was so dark, I just decided to go to sleep. You could hear my sister: "No!! I don't want to go to sleep!!" LOL, lucky for us, it wasn't while we were watching So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). I don't know when the power came back, but my sis still wasn't asleep... so I guess it wasn't very long.
So I was looking around the web to kill time... Hmm, I'm annoyed because Chapters still haven't shipped The Tribute by Nora Roberts and Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik to me yet. I've just checked online and apparently, they have copies in store... However, since both these books are hardcovers, I think I'm going to wait... Ugh... Hopefully, I'll be able to wait ^_^;

I was putting books in my wishlist and I came across Kay Hooper's new cover!!! Her next book is Blood Sins, book 2 in the Blood trilogy, and is to be released in December 16! I've been looking for that one... Still no synopsis though... I really wonder who's going to be the agents that will appear in it :)

Since July just started, I remembered to check Kelley Armstrong website. Seriously, it's fun when authors update their website at some fixed dates. For Kelley Armstrong, it's always at the beginning of the month (usually on the 1st)... To kick of the summer, she has an excerpt of her next book in the Women of the Otherworld series, Living with the Dead. Click here to read :) Have to say, I like what I've read so far...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Monthly Reads June 2008

It's that time of the month already!! Time to list all the books I've read in June!

June was a so-so month in my opinion, both in the quantity of books read as the quality. So here we go...

1) How to Knit a Wild Bikini by Christie Ridgway: C
2) Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves: B+
3) In Twilight's Shadow by Patti O'Shea: 3.75/5 (~ B/B+)
4) Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen: B
5) Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: B+
6) Just Desserts by Barbara Bretton: B
7) Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins: B+
8) Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs: B+/A-
9) Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs: B-
10) A Match Made in Hell by Terri Garey: B-
11) Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins: B-
12) Light My Fire by Jane Graves: B
13) The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong: A-
14) She's no Angel by Leslie Kelly: DNF
15) In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath: B
16) Sweet Talk by Susan Mallery: D

Okay, so not as bad as I made it sounded... and I've actually read quite a lot of good books. (I just can't remember when I've read them... how sad... ^_^; ) The month started of really good... I was anticipating a lot of releases and I wasn't disappointed... it's the end of the month that got rough... Like last week-end... a 4 days week-end and I read only one book... and for the whole week, I've been struggling with She's No Angel before deciding to call it quit.

As you also know, I've been buying quite a few books in the past 2 weeks... but then, when I look at them to pick one to read... I feel 'meh'... Hopefully, I'll get back my reading mojo soon... (like tonight... cos that's what I'm going to do when I get home... read.) Oh and I'll try to catch up on my reviews :)

So everyone, how was your reading month?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Annul BBQ, 8th edition, over

First, since I've still got about 45 minutes...

to my fellow Canadian romance bloggers and whoever want to celebrate :)

So how was everyone's day? My long week-end is coming to an end (boo!) and the BBQ's been over for a couple of hours now... Everything went really well. I didn't over-buy too much food and I have to admit this is one of the most enjoyable BBQ I've hosted in the 8 editions. Everything was pretty good this year... the weather was very nice, quite sunny and not too humid. We had some cloudy moments which were really appreciated. We were only 10 this time and it felt like a pretty intimate group. It was nice to have time to sit down and chat with the others and to actually enjoy the food! My only complaint is that not everyone arrived on time... but that's pretty minor.

Note to myself... reminder BBQ grocery shopping list for 10 ppl:

- 5kg of chicken wings
- 10-15 pork chops
- 10-15 European sausages
- 10-15 hot dogs
- one bag of shrimps (2kg)
- 2-3 lbs of fish balls
- 4 2L lemonade
- 2L of soft drinks
- ice tea
- 1 or 2L of other kind of juices
- 1 dozen corn
- 1 big bag of carrots, 1 broccoli, 1 cauliflower
- 1-1.5L of dips
- desserts: rice crispies squares, watermelon and sweet soup

*don't go overboard with chips, salsa and etc.
** honey

Sorry guys to post this up. It's because I usually tend to buy wayyyy too much food and this year, it was good quantities of everything... so I have to write it down somewhere so I can remember for the next year.

Like I said, everything was great this year. We played a bit of Wii... but mostly spent our time talking to each other and just hanging out, enjoying the food.

For those who wonder, I did finish cleaning my room!! Look at the result:

*My friends were quite surprised to see my room this clean, LOL :) Especially some that helped me out in the process ^_^;

Okie... time for me to go to sleep... Have to work tomorrow (boo!)... I'll have my list of reads for the month of June up tomorrow... and I haven't forgotten the people for my books away!! I'll try to email everyone tomorrow!

Book meme...

Wow, it's been a while since i've been tagged. Actually, can't remember when was the last... So here we go...

The Rules:

Grab the book nearest to you and open to page 123. Then post the 5th sentence.

Better to get this over, before another ridiculous notion could occur to him.

Lucky!! LOL, this was the last sentence of the page! A bit boring though... Can guess which book it comes from? Demon Angel by Meljean Brook :)

I'm tagging Isabel, Rosie and Ames. You're it!