Thursday, April 30, 2009

Re-Read: Twisted Creek by Jodi Thomas

So earlier this month, one of the new releases I was anticipating was Rewriting Monday by Jodi Thomas. While I enjoyed it, I think that Twisted Creek was better and as a result, I ended up re-reading it :)

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 so far

Previous review: here. (Since I've already reviewed this book before, I'm just going straight to my opinion:P)

My Opinion: Again, this is such a great book! I love the pace and atmosphere of Twisted Creek and as soon as I started reading it, I was sucked into its world again :) Since I've read it only last year, the story was quite fresh in my mind... but what really makes it special is just how it makes me feel. At ease and peaceful.

Aside from the atmosphere, what I liked the most in this book was the relationships. I love the relationship between Allie and her grandmother, Nana. It's so loving and selfless. Very special. The friendship, bond between the Nesters was also very heart-warming. It was funny to see that everyone was expecting Allie, because Jefferson said so. Allie and Nana got accepted in that little group so easily... Although the outsiders consider them as eccentric, these people care about each other so much... they form this tight community and it's just great. The romance was also very sweet. I liked the slow-paced... Upon re-reading it, I found it a bit annoying that Luke "didn't want to get involved" - this seems to be a theme in books lately and it's just so annoying. Sometimes, it hits you... just be grateful and accept it. I loved Luke though! His quiet strength, seeing everything, being there.

In addition, the intrigue was well incorporated into the story. It was believable and didn't overshadow the romance and relationships. Overall, still liking it as much as the first time, if not more :) I think this will be one of my all-time favorite books, one where I can go back and just be absorbed :)

My Grade: A. I think I found the word to describe it: heart-warming. Like I say, I really like everything about it, from the characters to the relationships :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: Visions in White by Nora Roberts

So one of the highly anticipated books for me this month was Visions in White by Nora Roberts. I'm a fan of Nora Roberts - I enjoy her stand-alones, her In Death series... and some of her trilogies. The latest ones with the paranormal elements have been a miss for me. I can't really explain why, but I just think it didn't blend too well with her styles. Also, the trilogies kind of have a pattern, so if you've read many, then you've picked it up.

I wasn't sold on Visions in White till I read the excerpt. Then, it couldn't be released fast enough. So this is going to be my entry to Brie's contemporary romance challenge for this month :)

Visions in White by Nora Roberts
published by Berkley in April 2009

Wedding photographer Mackensie "Mac" Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be's brother . . . an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac's type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends--and business partners--to see her way to her own happy ending.

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Brides Quartet, book #1

The Story: No need to sum up the book, the back blurb does a good job (for once).

My Opinion: Truthfully? I really enjoyed Visions in White. It's been a while since I read a book that really was simply straight contemporary without any intrigue/mystery. It really focused on relationships, not just between the H/H, but the heroine and her friends and simply everybody.

I have to say, the first line of the book was awesome:

By the time she was eight, Mackensie Elliot had been married fourteen times. She'd married each of her three best friends - as both bride and groom - her best friend's brother (under his protest), two dogs, three cats and a rabbit.

Isn't that a great opening given that the 4 friends grow up to be business partners in a wedding planning company? Anyway, one of my aspect in this book is to see those 4 friends running the company. It's really impressive and I guess it's been a while since I last went to a wedding, but boy... it's a lot of work and Mac and her friends really know what they're doing :)

Anyway, onto Mac and Carter. I would say Mac is a typical heroine of Ms Roberts. Strong, confident, but with some emotional baggage aka as her mother. She's a photographer, she knows how to do her job and she's really good at it :) She's the kind of woman who eats pop tart in the morning and has a messy closet :P and with the example her parents set, she's afraid of commitments. Carter... Oh, Carter, Carter, Carter! If I had a type, he would be it :) He was sooo cute! The nerdy, shy type :) He made me laugh and he made me smiled ;) He was just perfect for Mac! I love how he had a list of pointers given by his friend, how important and monumental little tasks became - such as buying flowers, how he rehearsed his dinner preparation so everything would be perfect when he had Mac over! :) Oh and it was sooo sweet of him to admit he had a crush on Mac in high school LOL :)

Visions in White is basically about two persons with completely different personalities who meet and fall in love. Ms Roberts didn't make it happen too fast or too slowly. I thought the pacing was great :) They spent time together, getting to know each other. They went out on dates, they had sex... they panicked, got worried, got angry, reconciled and so on. Someone else mentioned in a review how she didn't like it that Ms Roberts didn't mention the condom in the sex scenes. I didn't care about it... If memory serves, Ms Roberts never does. That's the way she writes... am I going to let that ruin the book for me? No.

As usual, Ms Roberts handles the friendship between the characters with ease :) It's fun to see 4 grown women being so close - knowing each other so well, spending with each other, having fun :) I can't wait to find out about the other women: Emma, Laurel and Parker. I think Ms Roberts did a great job keeping the focus on Mac. Oh and let see, I bet that Emma is going to be with Jack, so that leaves Delaney (Parker's brother) to Laurel... and Parker's hero has yet to be introduced - he'll probably be in the business somehow :P

My only complaint about this book was the ending. I did feel that it was rushed a little bit and that Mac's fear of committment, while understandable, was just too convenient as an obstacle for the romance. And Corinne, Carter's ex, scenes were really superfluous. Otherwise, I thought Visions in White was a great book and reminds me of Ms Roberts' earlier trilogies :)

My Grade: B+. I really enjoyed it :) especially Carter and I thought the money I spent on it was totally worth it. I wasn't happy at first when I found out that Visions in White was trade-size, but now, I'm really happy. The cover is very pretty and they put efforts in the presentation... How the inside flaps are cut and the "unsanded" pages.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Review: Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr and The Warrior by Sharon Sala

LOL, my mind has been screaming: Review! Review! Review! ever since I woke up... I have to admit, I've been a bit lazy lately and it's been quite busy at the lab. We did an important experiment last week and it seems like it worked well! So excited! And finally, I've been a bit like Rosie - been reading a lot, so it took away some time from my blogging...

Anyway, onto books. So today, double feature reviews... Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr and The Warrior by Sharon Sala, two of my favorite authors' new releases. I've read them a while ago, but I think now is a good time to review them.

Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in April 2009

Marine corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraq—his tour ended abruptly on the battlefield. The carefree boy is gone, replaced by a man who believes his future is as bleak as his mirror image. But can the passion and commitment of a young woman who has never given up on him mend his broken body and shattered heart?

As the people of Virgin River rally around Rick, another recent arrival tests the tightly knit mountain town's famous welcoming spirit. Dan Brady has a questionable past, and he's looking for a place to start over. He'd like it to be Virgin River... if he can find a way in. But he never expects to find it in the arms of a woman who was as much an outcast as himself.

For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were... and to find the dreams they thought they'd lost.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, book #7

The Story: LOL, well you know Robyn Carr, right? There's always so much more going in her books than what the back blurb describes. Yes, the main story of the book is about Rick Sudder and his sweetheart, Liz. Rick left Virgin River to become a Marine and he's been sent to Iraq. Unfortunately for him, his tour will be short-lived and he returns home without a leg. Understandly angry, he pushes everyone away: Jack and of course, Liz - since she now deserves better... but how long with the residents of Virgin River put up with Rick's nonsense?

In addition to Rick and Liz' story, we catch up with Cameron and Abby whose one night-stand resulted in the pregnancy of twins. The problem? Well Abby was in the process of divorcing when she met Cam. She now has a credit card debt of 10,000$ thanks to her ex-husband and needs his alimony money to pay off the debt... which she's not going to receive if people discover that she's pregnant and therefore, is hiding in Virgin River. Meanwhile, Cameron is sure that Abby is the woman for him... He's been longing for a wife and children and it seems his wishes are becoming true... if only he can win Abby over now.

Oh, there's also a newcomer to Virgin River... or a "returner." After a short stint in jail, Dan Brady - the enigmatic pot grower, is back. However, he's done with the illegal work. He's back in Virgin River because he enjoys the lifestyle and community and hope to be accepted.

My Opinion: As usual, Ms Carr has written a sweet book :) However, there was a lot going on in this book and it felt to me Ms Carr was just breezing through the story-telling. This is her style, lots of storylines, but sometimes, it doesn't work to her advantages.

Right away, I have to tell you, I've never been a fan of Rick and Liz. I found Rick okay, but Liz... I don't know... Would it be wrong for me to think she acted like a hussy in the previous trilogy? Oh, I admit that's what happened to her is heart-breaking and that she has matured a lot... but still, I can't help it to think she brought it onto herself. As a result, she's not really my favorite character... so yeah, Rick and Liz not being my favorite couple... from the beginning, I felt so-so about this one. I also can't help wishing that Rick and Liz would be older when all this new tragedy took place... However, I guess what Ms Carr wants to show is that tragedy and love can happen and age doesn't matter at all. Still, I wonder if Rick would have handled it better? Probably not.

I can't help to think that Rick reacted very childishly and I know, I know... he lost a leg. It's a trauma, but pushing aside everyone around you is really not the solution. What was he angry at anyway? Himself for being like a black star and bringing bad luck to everyone around him? You're 20, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? Self-pity? So good for Liz to standing up to him and holding her stand.

Let's move on to Cameron and Abby. Cameron is like a great guy, but Abby... hmm. I just found her annoying, because she was pushing away Cameron for no good reason. All I wanted to tell her was: Look, you didn't get pregnant on your own. So the father of your babies is actually happy and touched, so he cries in front of obstetrician. You're really going to be mad because of that?!? I don't know, it was hard to sympathize with Abby because Cameron was such a great guy and at times, I felt that Cameron deserved a better partner. In the end, the problems were resolved a bit too easily... I felt that it was a lot of fuss for nothing... I'm also sad about the fact that it seems Cameron won't be staying in Virgin River for long :(

Finally, there were two other "storylines." One was the continued romance between Walter and Muriel. Have to say, I wasn't that interested in their romance, but it was nice and sweet. Like a breather for all the things that are happening. It's also nice to see that you're never too old to fall in love and make it work. The last storyline was about Dan Brady and his return to Virgin River. I like his character and the ambiguity surrounding him. It's unfortunate that we only caught glimpse of him and of his past. As I expected, it seems that Dan Brady is going to have a relationship with Cheryl, Virgin River ex-town drunk. I have to admit, I'm not very happy about it - ask Holly, I bugged her so much about it LOL. I don't like Cheryl's character... yes, it might be prejudices or more like, I don't want to read about a former alcoholic. I mean, those relationships are usually preachy and angsty... Then, I'm not the author though, so it's not me who gets to decide. So far, I'm happy that Ms Carr is taking it slowly between Dan and Cheryl. It seems to me that their storyline in Paradise Valley is just an introduction, setting up the premises and we will get more of them in the next book of the series (I'm assuming there is going to be one), a bit like Paul and Vanni in Whispering Rock. Oh, and also I thought it was a bit too convenient that Dan could understand Rick so well ^_^;

Overall, I thought that Paradise Valley was okay. The main problem is that I connected nor felt any attraction to any of the characters. I didn't feel the burning need to turn the pages and find out what would happen to them. Also, Ms Carr has to be careful in my opinion. I know it's part of her writing style to have so many storylines in one book and it works well, when she has a solid "main" couple to fall back on... However, when she has so many different relationships at different stages and none of them really stands out, then it leaves the readers disatisfied and wanting more... and it's a sad way to follow-up a strong book.

My Grade: B-. All in all, I'm still enjoying the series. I like the characters and the feel in Virgin River, the community. However, the romances in this one were all "misses" for me. I hope there will be more books in this series with stronger romances in the future! :)

The Warrior by Sharon Sala
published by Mira in April 2009
John Nightwalker is a strong, rugged Native American soldier who has seen many battles. While hunting down an old enemy, he crosses paths with Alicia Ponte. On the run from her father — a powerful arms manufacturer — Alicia seeks to expose her father's traitorous crimes of selling weapons to our enemies in Iraq. But Richard Ponte will do anything to stay below the radar... even if it means killing his own daughter.

Drawn to the mystery that surrounds Alicia, John feels compelled to protect her. Together they travel through the beautiful yet brutal Arizona desert to uncover deadly truths and bring her father to justice. But their journey is about to take an unexpected turn…one that goes deep into the past.

Genre: contemporary romance with paranormal elements
Series: none

The Story: 500 years ago, John Nightwalker's tribe was attacked and slaughtered by Europeans. That night, John should have died as well, but the Old Ones granted him his wish - revenge. For the past 500 years, John has lived a lonely life in which he could heal any kind of wounds and never age. He's been looking for the man who led the attack - or more precisely, for his soul, for that man has died and been reborn many times. Whenever John is close to him, he can feel it in his heartbeat.

This time, John's enemy has been reborn as Richard Ponte, a powerful man whose business is to manufacture and sell weapons. His luck runs out when his daughter, Alicia Ponte, discovers that he's not only been providing weapons to the US armies, but also to a multitude of terrorrist factions. Shocked, disgusted and scared, Alicia runs away and is ready to reveal her father's crime... but to whom? Her father is a powerful man with a lot of connections and who is not ready to be ruined, even if it means eliminating his own blood? Who can she trust? Isn't that gorgeous Native American just a bit too eager to help her?

My Opinion: Like I said in a previous post, I've been a bit apprehensive when it comes to this book. I love Ms Sala's works; she is one of my favorite authors. However, the last book, The Healer, also featuring a Native American (well sort of) hero was very similar to another previous book of hers and I was afraid it would be the same with this book as well.

Well, I worried for nothing. This is indeed a very unique book :) I thought it was quite interesting... the fact that John lived for 500 years, without dying and aging. It is a lonely life... and funny how in every book - when they have lived such a long time, the characters are able to amass quite a lot of money :) I liked John's character a lot; however, there was not much development or depth I think. He was just a very solid man, living his life with a purpose. Sure, his first instinct was to use Alicia to get to her father. Who can blame him? He's lived 500 years just for that moment... Alicia surprised me though. I thought she would be a lot more pampered and sheltered, but turns out she had quite a backbone :) You also have to be strong to go through what she had... I mean, to turn in your father... It's not as if she had a bad relationship with him and wanted to get back at him. I think she loved her father, although they didn't have a close relationship... It's just that his crime was way too atrocious for her to stand by his side. I think that Ms Sala wrote Alicia's character very well... the turmoil of her feelings - being righteous, but at the same time feeling guilty and the pain of knowing that your father wants to kill you. Not anything I'd like to go through. So I think that Ms Sala did a great job writing it.

The intrigue was interesting as were the twists :) It was funny to see John outwit Ponte's hired men :) The relationship between John and Alicia was interesting as well. While not completely believable in real life, it was for a romance book. I like the fact that they didn't jump in bed together right away. It's funny how often I write this, that the author took her time developing the relationship, but it's true :P Yes, they were attracted at first sight and I have no problem with that... but to go to bed a few hours after you've met, euh no, that doesn't work for me.

The most interesting part for me was when John had to reveal his secret to Alicia and her disbelief. I mean, no matter how much you want to trust the man you love, when he comes to you and tell you he's been alive for 500 years and he's been after your father's soul, it's just a bit hard to believe. It's equally hard for the man when the woman he loves just doesn't believe him. What I like the most about this relationship and what makes it so unique is that Ms Sala didn't force the issue between the H/H. No epiphany, no incident that would make Alicia believe or John proving to Alicia, etc. What Ms Sala showed with this relationship is that it sometimes, the truth and beliefs are not important. What really matters is the love between two persons and acceptance. Instead of accepting John's story, Alicia chose to believe that John really believed the story he told her. As for John, he accepted that his story was soooo incredible that Alicia could not believe it. It's really a fine line and I'm not sure that I'm explaining it well, but I thought it was fresh and insightful. I really liked that fact that Alicia did not ask for proof and that John accepted the fact that Alicia just couldn't believe it. Which I guess it's the reason why he didn't told her that she was the reincarnation of his wife, White Fawn... and you know, in the end, it really didn't matter.

My Grade: B. The Warrior is not the most poignant book by Ms Sala, but it's a good and enjoyable one. I think I was silly for not reading it earlier :) and again, Ms Sala reminds me why I like her so much... because her books are different. Her writing style and her ideas :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Re-Read Challenge Reminder and New Layout

Hi everyone!!

How have you been? Let's start with the obvious :P I did some changes to the layout, mainly the colors :) Does feel more spring-y/summer-y right? :) Have to admit though, I don't know how long I'll be keeping it ^_^; The colors are very bright, LOL :) But it's good for now. I think I changed everything, but if there's something that's not working or seems odd, please let me know :)

Actually, I already have two questions for those who are design-savvy and would be willing to take a look at my html codes (yeah, I know, I'm asking for a lot ^_^;)

1) If you're going to post comments, you'll see that the link "Post a Comment" is very close to the main body... How do I do to space it out?

2) My sidebar... it's not a problem in the main page and I guess not many will care or notice, but if you go to specific post, you'll see that my sidebar is very long and goes over the bottom at the end... If I add some padding or something, will it be okay?

Thanks a bunch!

Okay, onto the more important news... the end of the month is around the corner already! So this is a reminder for you to re-read a book if you still haven't done so :) So Thursday is the official date to post review, but as usual, I'll put up the Review Post on Wednesday so people who are already done can post their reviews :) I'll accept post till Friday, May 1st - midnight Easter time and will draw the name for the 10$ certificate winner on Saturday morning :) Sounds good?

Now, let me see if I can get a couple of reviews ready for this week :P


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nath's booking adventures...

Okay, so as you already know, I'm pretty obsessive when it comes to books ^_^; and I like to get the new releases ASAP. Hey, if I can, then why not?

So far, I've been able to observe some patterns... So here are my secrets:

1. Mira/HQN books have a release date of Month 1st. However, they usually show in the bookstores 10 days early.

2. Berkley books are also available early. Start checking the stores the Thursday-Friday before the release date. For example, if the book you want is going to be release next Tuesday, April 28... well start looking now :)

3. Simon & Schuster books usually come in 2 weeks early - well at least, Kresley Cole's books.

Other publishing houses are more tricky or I haven't been able to pin-point their shipping patterns yet. However, my best friend, the online stock indicator, is there to help LOL!! I even know the shelving patterns of the bookstores I go to :P I told you, obsessive.

Anyhow, as you've read in this post, you know that I've been looking forward to Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber, Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder and Visions in White by Nora Roberts... well guess what? The Macomber and Snyder are both Mira/HQN releases and the new Roberts, Berkley. So yes, I've been on the look out for them...

Yesterday (April 21)

Target: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder and Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber.

*Nath checking the online stock indicator for Storm Glass

7.30am - 0 in all bookstores (I have a list of 5 bookstores, all easily accessible, except for 1)

9.30am - just got to work, 0 in all bookstores. All right, I know the bookstores only open at 9am, but hey, you never know! Maybe the updates are done during the night

12pm - 3 copies at Indigo Dix30! Yay!! However, Indigo Dix30 are usually slow to put out the books. Check Summer on Blossom Street - 10 copies at Indigo downtown!!! Yay! But damn, that's not the bookstore I want either - that bookstore is majorly under-staff... it's going to take forever before they have the books out.

2pm - Storm Glass: 3 copies at Indigo Dix30, 0 everywhere else
Summer on Blossom Street: 10 copies at Indigo Dix30 and 10 copies at Indigo downtown!

3.51pm - Storm Glass: 3 copies at Indigo Dix30, 6 at Indigo Downtown and 2 at Coles!! LOL, I immediately rushed to the phone and called the Coles. Coles are usually smaller bookstores and received less books... so they put them out faster :D Called and asked for Storm Glass - yes, they have it and they'll put it aside for me!! Yahoo!! Check for Summer on Blossom Street, they also have 10 copies!!

4.15pm - Get to the Coles and found Summer on Blossom Street on the shelves, as well as new Susan Mallery, Under Her Skin. Basically, all the new Mira/HQN releases were there... but I restrained myself :P In addition to those two, I picked up Edge of Hunger by Rhyannon Byrd and of course, Storm Glass.

Get to the cash, tell the clerk that I have Storm Glass put aside for me.

Clerk: "I noticed that you often call to put aside books."

Nath: "Ummm, yeah?"

Clerk: "I've never had time to offer it to you, but if you want, you can give us a list of upcoming releases that you want and we can put it aside for you when we received it. We can give you a call when we get a book or you can drop by when you want." Clerk shows Nath the folder with people's list. "These people mostly put aside romance books. I have no idea how they know what's coming, but they do and they give us a list. It also helps us know how many books to order and that way, you're sure to get a copy of the book you want. For example, we only received 2 copies of Storm Glass and 1 of them were already reserved. So you were lucky."

Nath: "Thanks, I'm going to think about it."

Clerk: "It's up to you."

LOL, how to tell him that I stalked the online indicator and calls as soon as I see the numbers showing up? Also, I like the Coles because they usually put the books out fast, but it's a small bookstore... Opening hours are not as advantageous as others and selection is more limited - although, they do get all the Mira/HQN. I guess I'll give them only the Mira/HQN books that I want :P

But hey, was I happy? LOL :) So excited and it really cheered me up :) I already finished Summer on Blossom Street. My only complaint though is that he didn't take my 15% coupon that I got the other day because one of the clerks at another bookstore couldn't find Close Encounters - and they had it in stock. This clerk said that the coupon was only good if I wanted to buy Close Encounters, but I knew that it could be used on any other books... However, I didn't argue, because I couldn't find the proof in the fine prints... I re-read the coupon on my way to the car and there it was, in big bold: valid on any other book in-stock. Ah well, I'm going to use it on another book.

Today (April 22)

Target: Visions in White by Nora Roberts

*Nath once again checking the online stock indicator for target

7.30am - 0 in every store. *I know, I know. They do not work in the middle of the night ^_^;*

9.30am - 0 in every store.

2pm - 189 copies at Chapters downtown! Yay! However, it usually takes Chapters one or two days before the books are on cart. Hmmm, will probably have to wait till tomorrow at the soonest.
3.30pm - 189 copies at Chapters downtown, 96 copies at Indigo Dix30 and 151 copies at Coles!! Jackpot!!! The only fear is that it's a strict release date and even Coles won't put it out early, but it's worth a chance.

3.45pm - Power outage. Noooooo!!! My experiment!!! Luckily, there's emergency generators.
4pm - Emergency generators are dead. Noooooo!!! I have samples in the stupid machines and now, it's locked and I can't open it without electricity!

4.15pm - Electricity. Yay!!

4.45pm - Done first step.

5.10pm - Done second step. Shit, Coles closes at 6pm!! Rush to show supervisor the results.

5.30pm - Leave the lab. Crap, it's going to take me at least 5 minutes to get to the car and then, 15 minutes to get to the bookstore. Cutting close.

5.40pm - Lost a stupid glove on my way to the car. Where is it?!?

5.45pm - Dum, dum, dum, dum. Will never make it ont time :( Okay, let's go to Chapters then, on the off chance :P

6pm - Get to Chapters. Look on every cart - not there. No boxes... Sigh.

6.15pm - Give a call to Indigo Dix30. Maybe a miracle happened.

Clerk: "Indigo Dix30. How may I help you."

Nath: "Hi, I'm looking for a book - Visions in White by Nora Roberts."

Clerk: "All right, let me check in the computers. Sorry, it's taking a while, but must re-boot system."

Nath: "No problem."

Clerk: "What's the title again?"

Nath: "Visions in White by Nora Roberts."

Clerk: "Okay, here it is. What format do you want?"

Nath: "It's trade-size. Bigger than paperback." With French books, there are no hardcovers, only paperback and trade-size... However, I don't know how they call trade-size in French.

Clerk: "Let me check the format..."

Nath *Who cares about the format?!? There's only one anyway!! Other options are audio-books!* Of course, I'm too polite to tell her that.

Clerk: "All right, here it is. We have 48 copies in-store, it shouldn't be a problem."

Nath: "Thanks."

Ugh, she didn't even offer to check on the shelves... Of course, with 48 copies, it's almost assured that the book is on the shelves... Unless, the customer is asking about a book that is not supposed to be released yet. Ugh, isn't it sad when you know the job better than they do? In the end, I didn't go to Indigo. Figured that I had books to read and could wait till tomorrow to try out the Coles :P

So there you have it, my booking adventures of the past two days. I know, I'm obsessed LOL, but it's one of my small pleasures. By the way, I've decided to buy these trade-size/HC books this month in-store instead of wait to order online... because I'm just not patient enough. Hey, consider it... I'm kind of saving money since what most probably would have happened is that I wouldn't have been able to wait till I get the books by the mail (especially considering that I'd have to wait at least till next Tuesday to order the books so not to pay the pre-order shipping fees) and would have bought a copy in-store anyway... So I would have wounded up with 2 copies and I don't mind returning one book from time to time, but 2 or 3? Nah. And it had happened in the past! So yeah, in a twisted way, I am saving $$$ LOL :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review: Rewriting Monday by Jodi Thomas

I'm sick and it's no fun :( Seriously. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and runny nose and it's just worst today. Ugh, I hope it doesn't get worst, because I can't take time off this week, since I have a big experiment...

Anyway, the good news is I've been reading!! Yay me! and good books! LOL :) Nothing better :) I'm quite behind in my review and I have no idea if I will be able to catch up, but at least, I'll try :)

So this morning, the book I'm going to review is Rewriting Monday by Jodi Thomas. I fell in love with Ms Thomas' writing last year, after Twisted Creek, which was in my Top 3 best books read for 2008 :) So you understand why I rushed to the bookstore and got Rewriting Monday right?

Rewriting Monday by Jodi Thomas
published by Berkley in April 2009
On the run from a mistake that ended her career as a big-city reporter, Pepper Malone has come to the peaceful town of Bailee - which she thinks of as Nowhere, West Texas - to pull herself together before moving on.

Mike McCulloch took over for his brother as editor of the Bailee Bugle out of familial obligation. When Pepper bursts into his office and demands a job, her enthusiasm and energy hit him like a breath of freash air. What's brought this passionate reporter to his sleepy little town - and into his world? A long time ago, Mike learned not to expect much out of life, but Pepper has awakened something in him that he thought he had lost - something that feels a lot like hope.

When the paper comes under attack, Mike and Pepper must start to rely on each other, to trust what is in their own hearts and, most importantly, to believe in themselves...
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: very, very loosely connected with Twisted Creek

The Story: Pepper Malone has never fit anywhere. Instead, she stands on the sideline and observes people - which makes her a good reporter. However, her career as a reporter is over in Chicago, after she's exposed her ex's family secrets. It doesn't matter to her boss that she did not sleep with her ex for a story, she still got fired. Then, when she got mugged by some hired thugs, she decides it's time she leaves Chicago and starts over. So she ends up in Bailee, Texas, where her grandmother has left Pepper a property. Of course, she did not expect the house to be a trailer... still inhabited by her great-aunt. However, beggars can't be choosers and Pepper decides to stay till she has enough money to move on... Thus, she asks for a job at the town's newspaper, the Bailee Bugle.

Mike McCulloch is the owner and chief editor of Bailee Bugle. He's lived his whole life in the shadows of his older brother, David, who was town's golden boy and his father's favorite. Mike had his life planned out, but had to abandon everything when his brother died and came back to Bailee to take the reins of the newspaper and raise his orphaned niece. Mike might not be passionate about the newspapers, but he will shoulder his familial obligations... As a result, he's been living an empty and lonely life... but it might all change with the apparition of Pepper. First though, they both have to save the newspapers who's been the target of someone's hatred.

My Opinion: I really enjoyed this book. What I liked the most was the setting, the pace and the voice. Rewriting Monday definitively has the same feel as Twisted Creek, very soothing and slow. Ms Thomas continues writing at the first person POV - Pepper, and the third person POV - Mike and other secondary characters... and she does it well because it works. It definitively gives an unique feel to her books and somehow, I think it helps feeling the small-town setting.

Once again, the story is about two characters finding themselves - who they are and where they belong. Don't worry though, the characters and settings are different enough that Rewriting Monday is not a repeat of Twisted Creek :) The intrigue was also good and quite suspenseful.

I enjoyed the characters, Mike and Pepper. They seem to be two lost souls - Mike doing a job that he didn't like and Pepper, never fitting anywhere. Both were strong characters that allowed them to ride over obstacles; however, they had their vulnerable spots. I like the attraction between Mike and Pepper. It was believable and at the same time, it was taken slowly. They had to learn to trust each other... It was also very realistic how Mike would be friendly one moment and cold another. I also enjoyed seeing Pepper settling in the small town, making friends... going out, even if it was Bingo night at the retired home LOL. I really liked Mike - especially that he was willing to give up everything for his niece :) He's a good man and Pepper is a good woman as well. She just needs to find herself a bit more.

What I found unfortunate in this book and what is bringing down the grade I'm going to give to it later is characters development. Ms Thomas had two great characters, but she didn't develop them fully. She could have taken it a notch higher, pushed a little bit more. If the book would have been 100 pages longer, I think it would have been perfect. It seems to me that the ending was a bit too rushed and Mike and Pepper realized stuff too easily at the end :( I felt something was missing at the end between them at the end and that's really unfortunate :(

I think part of the reason is that this time, there is a secondary romance between the bakery owner, Lorie Fuller, and her ex-huband, GBI agent, Heath Fuller. I really enjoyed their storyline and it was so funny when nobody believed that Heath was actually Lorie's ex-husband... since she's so nice! LOL :) I thought their relationship was nice and sweet... however, without them, I think that Pepper and Mike's relationship would have been more complete. Oh well, I guess you can't have it all.

Also, again, we have a very nice cast of secondary characters. I liked that they were not stereotypes of small-town people. They were endearing and sympathic and Ms Thomas really knows to what extent to write them :) Oh and I like how the title fits so well with the book... it's a very good title by the way :) and the cover is very nice :) I felt like I was sitting in the newspapers office :)

Overall, a very good book that I enjoyed a lot :) By the way, if you've been wondering if this book was a sequel of Twisted Creek, it is unfortunately not. It is however very loosely connected as in Luke does appear in the first chapter, but that's it. Hopefully, the next book will be set in Twisted Creek again :)

My Grade: B. Hmmm, it looks like I'm being very strict, but you can't help what you feel ^_^; I did enjoy the book a lot, like I said, but something was missing at the end. I thought it just went too quickly :( It's just not as good as Twisted Creek either; however, I do recommend it to everyone :) It's a very nice story and I really enjoy the mood and the writing style :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TBR Day: Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

Ain't I lucky? I just happened to read a fantasy novel that's been in my TBR pile for the past two years and it actually fits the theme of this month for the TBR challenge :) Yay me!! I love it when it's all coincidence.

So I got Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews pretty much when it was just released. I got quite a good buzz around blogland if I remember correctly... However, I just never read it... I started it a few times and never got pass, hmmm, page 1 ^_^; Don't know why. Then, Magic Burns was released and I still didn't feel like reading. It's only when I read Leslie's review of Magic Strikes, the latest in the series that I was interested. She has a mini extract of the book and I got hooked LOL :) So today, I'll be reviewing Magic Bites and as a bonus, you also get Magic Burns and Magic Strikes.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
published by Ace/Berkley in March 2007
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic...

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate's guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta's magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings - and the death of kate's guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she's way out of her league - but she wouldn't have it any other way...
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, book #1

The Story: Kate Daniels is a mercenary. She could have been part of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, like her guardian, Greg, wished; however, Kate has a problem with authority and hierarchy. Of course, all this becomes moot when Kate learns that her guardian was killed. The last person whom she cared for, the last person who really knew Kate's identify. Kate is determined to find Greg's murder... While looking for clues, she discovers that Greg was investigating a series of disappearances and was working closely with the Pack... and this is how Kate meets his Lord Beastly, Curran. Together, they discover a hideous monster... who wants Kate for himself.

My Opinion: Sooo. As first book goes, Magic Bites was so-so. I didn't fall in love with the world and Kate and if it wasn't because of the snippet I read in Leslie's review, I probably wouldn't have continued on. In my opinion, the world building is lacking a lot and I'll expand more about this, after I've reviewed the three books. Personally, I think the world buidling is weak and is not supporting the story enough. It leaves a lot of holes and questions and it's distracting.

In addition, I wasn't very impressed by Kate's character. She's okay, but she's very typical for an urban fantasy heroine in my opinion. It's as if authors are given a check-list when writing characters: kick-ass, check; mouthy, check; powerful, check; secret, check... and so on. Sometimes, it's okay and it works well... However, other times... I don't know. What's interesting about Kate is that we know she's powerful - or at least, will grow powerful. She's "special" and because of it, she's hiding... and readers want to know why she's special. I have to say, that's what kept me reading. Otherwise though, Kate doesn't stand out very much and I have to say, I'm starting to be a wee bit tired of heroines that don't know when to shut it ^_^; As for Curran, well think of him of the Alphas of the Alphas... He's actually a lion - king of the jungle! (Now, the covers make a bit more sense to me :) He's arrogant, strong and knows how to play dirty. Personally, from what I read of him in the first book, I preferred reserving my judgement. What saves the book in my opinion are the secondary characters. Jim and Derek are quite interesting and I guess, there's more potential with them :P

As for the plot, well again, so-so. I think that the book was very busy, introducing the different factions, the world building, the characters and so on. So to me, the storyline took the back-seat and never captured my attention.

My Grade: C. Like I said, so-so first book. There's potential, that's for sure... but if I've read this book back when it was released, would I be rushing to get the sequel? Not really. Luckily, the books improve as the series goes on :)

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
published by Ace/Berkley in March 2008

Down in Atlanta, tempers - and temperatures - are about to flare...

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate's going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest - and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can't stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive...

Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, book #2

The Story: There is a magic flare coming - think of it as a magic tsunami. Lots of things can go wrong during a flare and all the magic is enhanced... Not a good sign when your job is to clean up after magic gone wrong. While helping Jim and the Pack retrieved maps that were stolen by a guy who can teleport, Kate stumbles across a young girl, Julie, whose mother has disappeared. Julie's mother is part of a coven of witches who worshiped the goddess Morganna. Kate takes in Julie till she can find her mother; however, some sea demons are after the girl... and Kate realizes that she's embarked in much more than she's asked for...

My Opinion: A much better book! I think that once the authors had the whole world building and characters introduction out of the way, they could focused more on the storyline and development... and they did a good job.

I think this time, the plot was better, better written, better thought, better put together. More interesting as well. It's always fun to have a touch of mythology, god and goddess :) I enjoyed Kate character more as well. We got to see another side of her personality, more maternal - more caring and thoughtful. Her relationship with Curran is also developing, so another plus :) It's very funny to see these two characters interact, although I'd like to see Curran being, you know, rattled? :P LOL, the scene where Kate realizes what it means, the fact that Curran has fed her. Hilarious :)

Also, Kate's identity is slowly unraveled :) That also keeps the story interesting. I also like the new characters introduced. Julie, Andrea and Raphael :) I have to say, it's fun to see all these kind of shapeshifters interacting together, being one big clan.

My Grade: B. Not perfect, but still much better than Magic Bites :)

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
published by Ace/Berkley in March 2009
When magic strikes and Atlanta goes to pieces, it's a job for Kate Daniels...

Drafted to work for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems these days than she knows what to do with. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that's saying a lot.

But when Kate's werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games - an invitation-only, no-holds-barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament - she and Curran, the Beast Lord, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta's shapeshifting community...

Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, book #3

The Story: Bit hard to summarize this one... Hmmm, Kate is having difficulty with her shapeshifter friends. First, she's avoiding Curran like the plague. Second, Jim is behaving coldly towards her and is refusing her offer of help when it's evident he needs it. Third, she is called to bail Derek out of a trouble - indeed, her werewolf friend has gone and tried to steal tickets to the Midnight Games, some kind of arena fights that are outlawed, especially by the Pack. So in short, her werewolf side-kick is in lots of trouble... Even more when he is found injured, disfigured and unable to shift into his werewolf form. That's when Jim comes clean to Kate, that he's been investigating the Midnight Games because he believes something could be a threat to the Pack... however, his investigation has not been sanctionned by Curran... and so, Jim, his team and Derek are on the lam... and of course, they've pulled Kate into their troubles.

My Opinion: Okay, my summary is not very good, but in short, this book is the best book so far in the series! :) I enjoyed it a lot, especially the second half :) It was just great, got me sitting on the edge of my seat, reading fast and best of all, it made me laughed!! Lots of funny moments in this book...

The plot was interesting and tight :) and like I said, very exciting. It really enraptured me :) There were a lot of good interactions in this book, Kate and Curran especially, Kate and her friends. I have to say, Kate seems more friendly now... She was also more in control in this book and so, her mouthiness didn't seem so out of place. You know when you're mouthy when you're afraid, well that sometimes is just stupid. However, this time, I thought she was being witty :) In addition, Kate's identity has finally been revealed! Can't wait to see how all this will impact on the future books. I really liked learning more about Kate's past and her adoptive father. The man sounded great and Kate was lucky to have him. I really wished he was alive.

The ending was just perfect. How the enemies were defeated and of course, the last scene between Kate and Curran. Their relationship is definitively developing, even though Kate doesn't want to. That is keeping things interesting.

So yes, this book was almost perfect :) I enjoyed the intrigue, liked Kate in this book with her interactions with all the other characters. Curran and Kate's relationship developing :) Discovering Kate's past. My only complaint is well again the world building, but also how she treated Saiman. Seriously, I don't understand her reaction to Saiman. Perhaps I missed something in the last book, but she was mean. They seemed to be friends at first and this time, she seemed really revulsed by him... and I didn't like it. I think that Saiman is a nice guy and yes, it's annoying the way he keeps trying to get her to sleep with him, but he's been there for her and he's helped her. So what was her problem?

Anyway, minor problem... but all the LOL moments made it up :) Here's one of my favorite scene... Just to put you in context, Curran, Kate and the rest are participating to the Midnight Games. They have to fight the opponents and Jim wants Curran, Kate and Dali to barely win their fight - not to show their true strength :) However, the fight was done in minutes... LOL :)

Jim waited for us at the Gold Gate. His teeth were bared.

"What happened to barely winning?"

"You said sloppy! Look, I didn't even use my sword; I hit him with my head, like a moron."

"A man with a sword attacked you and you disarmed him and knocked him out cold in under two seconds." He turned to Curran.

The Beast Lord shrugged. "It's not my fault that he doesn't know how to fall."

Jim's gaze slide from Curran to Dali. "What the hell was that?"

"Crimson Jaws of Death."

"And were you planning on letting me know that you can turn people's elbows backward?"

"I told you I did curses."

"You said they don't work!"

"I said they don't always work. This one worked apparently." Dali wrinkled her forehead. "It's not like I ever get to use them against live opponents anyway. It was an accident."

Jim looked at us. The clipboard snapped in his hands. He turned around and very deliberately walked away.

"I think we hurt his feelings." Dali looked at his retreating back, sighed, and went after him.

Curran looked at me. "What the hell was I supposed to do, catch the werebison as he was falling?"

Speaking of Dali, I really like her character!! LOL, it would have been fun to have a bit background on her... but LOL, a white tiger that is vegetarian and cannot support blood LOL :)

My Grade: B++. Definitively hope that the next book will be as good or better. I'm not giving it a higher grade though because I still have issue with the world building... which I'm going to address just below.

Okay, about world building. I thought the world building was a bit lacking in this series. It's very convoluted and you're giving a lot of information, but no explanations. I mean, after reading, I have a lot of questions... for example, when someone is infected with Lyc-V, do they only transform into wolves? In that case, how did other shapeshifters come to happen? And do other wereanimals the same as werewolves then? What about humans? What is the difference between humans with psychic powers such as empathy, telepathy and clairvoyance and people like Kate? Actually, what is Kate? She's a human with magical power? Then, how is she different than witches? See, we are introduced to so many "races" but we're not explained how they differ... Also, technology co-habits with older, more traditional habits such as horses and swords... but is it adopted by everyone? Actually, are there beings that are simply humans, devoid of magic? Are they inferior? Is there a hierarchy? The whole world is very hard for me to visualize and as you can see, I have lots of questions... this affects how much I enjoy the books. There are also some inconsistencies in time frame that bothers me. If those could be correct, then I'm sure the grades would be higher for all three books. Alas...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

I rarely read Young Adult books. I don't really know why... I guess it's harder to believe in the HEA ending when the characters are so young. From time to time though, I will pick up one because of a recommendation. That's what happened with The Thief. I first heard of The Thief on Jennie's blog (here) and it stuck in my mind. Partly because it was fantasy (it kind of reminded me a bit of the Poison Study premises... just a wee bit :P). Then, for March, the bookstore's special was 20% off on YA books, so I picked it up along with the two sequels, Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia.

Here is my review of the series. Few warnings though. First, beware, there will be spoilers. I will try to write the review of The Thief without any, but for the rest, I really can't go into any details without spoiling ^_^; Also, when I read the series, I did something very bad ^_^; I started reading The Thief, but got curious. I thought King of Attolia was the last book, so I read the end - just to see what happened. Of course, I've already read spoilers over at Dear Author, so... One thing led to the other and I finished King of Attolia... Then, I went back to read Queen of Attolia and finally, The Thief. So yeah, I didn't read it in order. Oups. So perhaps my view of the books is a bit different than what it should be... Still the series is excellent :)

Also, before going onto the review, I'd like to discuss a bit the world setting of the series. This series is fantasy and it sets in a world from the author's imagination. The world is heavily influenced by Greece, but is not exactly a Greek setting. The time period is also very difficult to pin-point, since there are guns, but soldiers seem to use their sword more. Overall, it's a very interesting and appealing world. I like the feel I get from it... It's very "ancient" period time, what with the three countries and their queens and kings and trying to take over each other, gain control over each other, but with a touch of modernity. All in all, I like the setting very much, but wished there was a map included that would allow the readers a better visualization.

The Thief
published by Hapercollins in October 1997

"I can steal anything."

After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, the magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task - to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

Genre: fantasy
Series: Queen's Thief, book #1

The Story: Gen is a thief who bragged that he could steal anything. After stealing the King of Sounis's seal, he ended up in prison. He is released by the Magus, because the King's advisor needs Gen's skills as a thief to steal the Hamiathe's Gift, a legendary stone that will ensure an alliance between the countries of Sounis and Eddis if it is successfully obtained. Thus, Gen embarks on a long journey with the Magus, his two students (the Elder Useless and the Younger Useless LOL) and Pol, their bodyguard. Their journey will lead them to Attolia, another powerful country which is ruled by a ruthless queen.

My Opinion: This was a great read :) The whole story is narrated by Gen and it was very enjoyable :) Gen is indeed a trickster and a thief, but he's also very smart and skilled. I know some readers didn't enjoy his character so much, because they thought he was selfish... However, I felt his character really fit his personality and the storyline. Gen is petulant :) He is very clever, kind and loyal. He does have a smart mouth that he sometimes should shut, but that's all part of his personality :) All in all, he's a very interesting and intriguing character. You do realize that there is more to him than meet the eye and you want to know what he is hiding :) I liked the other characters as well and I thought they were well developed. I liked the Magus. He is the king advisor and has the good of his country in his mind. Quite a clever person, but he still got outwitted by Gen :P

The storyline is quite interesting, but what really makes the book is the ending. The last quarter of the book had me sit on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen and if Gen, the Magus and the Younger Useless (also known as Sophos) would survive. And what about the revelation at the end? Oh my god, genius!!! I really didn't expect it and then, when you go back, you realized that the author has been dropping a clue here and there :)

As a whole, the book is even better because of Ms Turner's writing style. It's simple, but not simplistic... It's definitively not dumbed-down because it's for kids. It flows well and the pace is good :) If you're looking for a good fantasy, be sure to pick up The Thief.

Grade: B+.

*** Spoilers start here, beware***

Queen of Attolia
published by Harpercollins in April 2000

When his small mountainous country goes to war with the powerful nation of Attolia, Eugenides the thief is faced with his greatest challenge. He must steal a man, he must steal a queen, and he must steal peace.

But his greatest triumph - as well as his greatest loss - can only come if he succeeds in capturing something the Queen of Attolia may have sacrificed long ago.

Genre: fantasy
Series: Queen's Thief, book #2

The Story: So at the end of The Thief, we discover that Gen is actually Eugenides and is the Queen of Eddis's cousin as well as the queen's thief, kind of her right-hand man with lots of freedom. He can infiltrate Sounis and Attolia, the two neighboring countries, without being captured and as a result, is a dangerous man. In The Thief, Eugenides was able to successfully steal the Hamiathe's Gift no once, but twice - the first time from Attolia and the second, from the Magus of Sounis. As a result, he had secured the throne of his Queen, Eddis, and avoided a political marriage between Eddis and Sounis. However, in the process, he had made some enemy, namely the Queen of Attolia...

The story of Queen of Attolia starts with the queen of Attolia capturing Eugenides in her palace. To weaken Eddis' influence, she punishes Eugenides by cutting his right hand off and sending him back to Eddis. Fortunately, Eugenides survives, but the Queen is livid and declares war to Attolia. Sounis stands as a bystander, but will not for long. In addition, there is a Mede ambassador in the court of Attolia who seems to be getting cozy with the Queen and everyone fears an alliance between the Mede and Attolia... if it happens, then Eddis, Attolia and Sounis independence will be lost and their countries will not longer exist...

My Opinion: A great sequel to The Thief. What I particularly like in this book is that it was written in the third-person POV, so we get to see what everyone is thinking. I think it was a wise decision :)

Some will say that the book started off slowly - Eugenides lost his hand and has to recover, both physically and mentally. However, it makes sense. You don't rebound from having your hand cut so easily. I think that the author handled that part very well and was able to inject a bit of humor through Eugenides retorts. We also see Eugenides maturing in those pages and trying to build himself a new life. Then, when he realized that a war has started because of him, he snaps out of it and tries to find ways to resolve the problem. You can't help but admire Gen's mental strength.

I really enjoyed the relationships between all the characters and how they connect and the ambiguity. For example, Eugenides and the Magus are friends; however, the Magus can't deny that Eugenides is a dangerous man - he could easily assisinate the King of Sounis. On the other hand, the Magus is the advisor of Sounis and he keeps pushing for a marriage between the two countries that Eugenides does not want to see happen. Still the two men are friends.

The most interesting of course in this book is the romance that develops - rather quickly - between Eugenides and the queen of Attolia. From the beginning of the book, you know that these two characters are connected. However, I have to admit that it took me by surprise... and of course, Eugenides profession of love to Attolia completely took her by surprise. Can she trust him? Does he really love her or is it a ploy to become King? All those questions swirling.

Ms Turner is a great story-teller and she takes it a step deeper this time and gives us a heavy dose of politics, but that's what makes the whole book interesting.

My Grade: B/B+. I enjoyed Queen of Attolia very much, but I still prefer The Thief because of its great ending. However, it was still a great read and I love Eugenides! :)

King of Attolia
published by Harpercollins in January 2006

Standing alone in the doorway was the king. The ruler, anointed by priests and priestesses, of all the lands of Attolia, the official father of the people, the lord of the barons who'd one by one sworn him their oaths of obedience, the undisputed, uncontested, and absolute sovereign of the land. The swollen discoloration by his mouth closely matched the elaborated purple embroidery on his collar.

"Most people in your circumstances would kneel," said the king, and Costis, who had been staring transfixed, belatedly dropped to his knees.
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Queen's Thief, book #3

The Story: After the events in Queen of Attolia, Eugenides and the Queen of Attolia have married... and Eugenides has become King of Attolia. However, he is reluctant to assume the role. After all, he never wanted to be King, he only wanted to be with the Queen.

Unfortunately, the court does not know and understand Eugenides. They only see this younger, shorter man (than then queen) who had his hand cut by their queen. For them, this marriage is a farce, a fine revenge by Eddis to humiliate Attolia. As a result, nobody takes Eugenides seriously and his attendents "bully" him by playing some nasty tricks on him - sands in his food, food that he cannot eat because he does not have both his hands, stained clothes, etc.

However, we the readers know better. Eugenides is nobody's fool... he's a dangerous man, even with only a hand.

Costis is part of the royal guard and, well unfortunately for him, punched the King in the face. Instead of being exiled or executed, he becomes Eugenides' personal bodyguard. A difficult task, since he can't stand the man... However, bits by bits, Costis discovers the real man...

My Opinion: Definitively my favorite book of the series!! King of Attolia is simply great! Excellent! I loved it!! LOL! The court is full of fools, LOL, that's all I can say :)

The book is still written from a third-person POV and in this one, Costis is the principal narrator which was a very good idea. We get to see how the Attolians perceived the King which really does not fit our memories of Eugenides and we see the lightbulb going on in Costis mind :)

I loved the court intrigues in this book, the plots against the King and the Queen, and how Eugenides fooled everyone. It is soooo like him :) I'm also happy for Eugenides because he and his queen are happy together... and I love seeing a more adult Eugenides... although he still simpers and preens LOL :)

The second half of the book was excellent... from the attempted murder, to the fall of the House of Erondites to the fight at the end through which Costis forced the King to reveal himself :)

My Grade: A. Excellent storyline, excellent writing, excellent characters :) Just read it!

There you have it. One of the best series I've read so far in the year. Seriously, 2009 is shaping up great!! I love Ms Turner writing style in the series... I've noticed also that she doesn't bother too much with background information. For example, we know that Eugenides has siblings, but we're never introduced to them or even given a number. Also, the author limited the number of names... For example, we only know Eugenides' father as the minister of war... the Magus is still the Magus throughout the series. I find it special and refreshing. The author also doesn't waste time summarizing all the events that have happened in the past books, she jumps straight in the storyline. We're not given ages... These are all details that in other books, I'd probably want to know, but in this series, it doesn't matter. Also, don't you think the covers are gorgeous?!?! I love them sooo much!! And luckily for us, apparently, the series is not over yet... Yay!!! and the 4th installment of the series should be out next year. Oh, I wish so!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh

Good morning everyone! I hope you had a very, very nice week-end :) I really am enjoying mine :P

I have lots of posts and reviews coming up this week. Well I guess more reviews than anything else. Yes, I've been finally reading!! Yay!!

So to start off the week, here is a buddy review of Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh. See how Ames loved it, while Chantal and I are not totally convinced of its awesomeness :) Review is over at Breezing Through.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Happy dance :D


LOL :P Sorry I haven't been around too much... thing is, I had a presentation this morning... and I hate presentations!!! I had to summarize a scientific article and of course, my boss had to choose a REVIEW article... you know, the kind of article that takes all the other articles in the field and summarize them? Ugh. There was a ton of information in the article, but nothing in details. So I was half-scared that I wouldn't be able to answer the questions... and trust me, the people in my department? They are very scary when they ask questions. Very brusque and direct... and sometimes, they sound very rude. So I'm very intimidated :(

I've been working on my presentation since last week. Read the article, made a few slides. My boss said he wanted to see it on Friday. We go over the slides and he's like: I don't think you have a good grasp on the material. You should also read these two other articles. Anyway, I think you have a lot of work for the week-end. Oh, and you're not making use of the figures. They have nice figures in this article... but you have to understand them well, so you can explain them... and you have too much writing in the slides.

Ugh. Seriously. Talk about depressing comments!! I was working the whole day Saturday at the receptionist job (8.30am to 9pm) and my goal was to read the articles and work on the slides show the whole day. Guess what? Didn't work out that way. I somehow ended up with diarrhea and the stomach ache from hell... the WHOLE FREAKING DAY. So I had to play catched up on Sunday.

Finally finished the whole presentation on Monday. I do agree, it looked better. I changed some stuff around and the flow was good. I also added an introduction which I didn't really have before. Then, I had to practice right? Cos I have word like tumoriginicity, pathogenesis, cytogenetic, carcinogenesis to say. And the boss wanted me to do a rehearsal in front of him and my co-worker. So I put it off as long as I could, but finally did it yesterday afternoon. It went much better than I thought - as in, the boss didn't tell me it was crap! :P Also, I only had a few minor changes to do. Still, it wasn't fluid enough, so I still had to practice... but seriously, my presentation was about 35 minutes long. That means in an hour, I can only practice twice. Sigh... and I was still scared of the questions they were going to ask.

Well now, it's done and I'm free!! I have an extra-long week-end coming up (I get both Friday and Monday for Easter)! Yay! Lots of reading, lots of blogging and re-shelving my books. That's the plan.

The only dark note for the week-end is that my mom's cousin passed away yesterday T_T He was a very charismatic man and it's all very sad :( I thought I'd be going to Boston for his funerals, but it's not going to work out. My sister has classes tomorrow till 6pm. I don't want to drive at night and the funerals are at 9am on Friday... :(

Anyway, I promise I'll have my review of the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turnerup later this week and perhaps a few more surprise :) For those who are curious, I'm also reading Rewriting Monday by Jodi Thomas at the moment :P

Saturday, April 04, 2009

April 2009 New Releases

Finally April!!! I can't tell you how long I've been looking forward to April! LOL :P Just soooo many high anticipated (at least by me) books coming out!! But first, let me share this:

Isn't it gorgeous?!? I love the colors! As you can see, this is the cover for Sea Glass, the second in Ms Snyder's new trilogy... and guess what? The release date is September 2009!!! Woohoo, the wait won't be too long!!

All right, unto the new releases now...

Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr
(Mira - April 01)

Marine corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraq—his tour ended abruptly on the battlefield. The carefree boy is gone, replaced by a man who believes his future is as bleak as his mirror image. But can the passion and commitment of a young woman who has never given up on him mend his broken body and shattered heart?

As the people of Virgin River rally around Rick, another recent arrival tests the tightly knit mountain town's famous welcoming spirit. Dan Brady has a questionable past, and he's looking for a place to start over. He'd like it to be Virgin River…if he can find a way in. But he never expects to find it in the arms of a woman who was as much an outcast as himself.

For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were…and to find the dreams they thought they'd lost.

LOL, so this one doesn't need any explaining right? Last in the second successful Virgin River trilogy by Robyn Carr. I bet there will be more in the future, but that's it for now :) To tell the truth, I already got and read this book :P Review to come very soon.

The Warrior by Sharon Sala
(Mira - April 01)
John Nightwalker is a strong, rugged Native American soldier who has seen many battles. While hunting down an old enemy, he crosses paths with Alicia Ponte. On the run from her father—a powerful arms manufacturer—Alicia seeks to expose her father's traitorous crimes of selling weapons to our enemies in Iraq. But Richard Ponte will do anything to stay below the radar…even if it means killing his own daughter.

Drawn to the mystery that surrounds Alicia, John feels compelled to protect her. Together they travel through the beautiful yet brutal Arizona desert to uncover deadly truths and bring her father to justice. But their journey is about to take an unexpected turn…one that goes deep into the past.

Ms Sala is an auto-buy for me :) I love her books. The word that comes to mind is emotional. Although I'm a fan, I have to say that there's a little something putting me off from this book and it's the fact that the hero is a Native American. I have nothing against Native American hero per se; however, I'm afraid this book will be too similar to other books written by Ms Sala featuring a Native Amercian hero. For example, The Healer, released last year, was very similar to Legend written under her other pen name Dinah McCall. Let's hope that I'm wrong and just over-worrying and that Ms Sala will surprise me :)

Rewriting Monday by Jodi Thomas
(Berkley - April 07)

Reporter Pepper Malone moved to Bailey, Texas, after a news story nearly got her killed. Now she wants to be left alone to do her job in relative peace and quiet. But when the newspaper's staff is targeted by a madman with a grudge against the media, Pepper is drawn back into the public eye - and into the arms of the paper's handsome owner.

After reading Twisted Creek, I've become an unconditional fan of Ms Thomas' contemporary romances :) I'm really looking forward this one, although I'm not sure whether or not it is actually connected to Twisted Creek. Either way, I like the blurb and the cover... and I'm currently trying to hunt it down in the bookstore... So far, I haven't been lucky though :(

White Star by Elizabeth Vaughan
(Berkley - April 07)
The Lady High Priestess Evelyn, known as Evie to her friends, is a healer, dedicated to using her magic in the service of the goddess to aid others and give strength where it is needed. Orrin Blackheart couldn't be more different. With his black armour, a black name and a blacker reputation, he's been feared and hated in equal parts. So on his defeat and capture in battle, the Goddesses insistence that Evie saves him from a death sentence astonishes them both - as does the growing attraction between them. But in saving Orrin Evie condemns herself to a prohibition on her magic and a penance posting on the edges of the land, while to retain his salvation Orrin must battle a spreading plague across the land. Fate clearly has plans for them both - but to fulfill them, both must survive the perils ahead.

It's Ms Elizabeth Vaughan. Author of the Warland Chronicles... so of course I want it :) Yes, I was disappointed in Dagger Star, but I still have high hope for this one :) I'm curious about Orrin and Evie's relationship :) I like it when the two characters come from opposing sides :)

Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro
(Berkley - April 07)

To stir public interest in her vampire romance novel, Lady Emily Stapleford stages nighttime vampire appearances. Overnight, London is abuzz with the sightings. Now she'd be guaranteed success, if it wasn't for mysterious Logan Jennsen, who's onto Emily's duplicity.

Hmmmm, this is the last book in the series. That's why it is still on my list of books to look forward to. However, I'm not expecting too much because of the last book, Seduced at Midnight. Plus, the back blurb sounds so so only ^_^;

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
(RoC - April 07)
Harry Dresden, professional wizard, has done his best to keep his nose clean where the White Council of Wizards is concerned. Even so, his past misdeeds have cast a constant shadow of suspicion over him in the eyes of the Wardens, those wizards responsible for enforcing the Laws of Magic. Now Dresden finds himself faced with a nightmarish dilemma: Morgan, formerly his chief persecutor among the Warden, has been wrongly accused of treason against the White Council - and has come to Harry for help. Dresden faces a daunting task: clear Morgan's name while simultaneously hiding him from the Wardens and the supernatural bounty hunters sent to find him, discovering the identity of the true turncoat and, of course, avoiding accusations of treachery of his own. A single mistake may mean that heads - quite literally - will roll. And one of them could be his own...

Ooooooohhhhhh!!! Okay, I've become a fan of this series and the back blurb just sounds too good!!! I'm sure this one will be hilarious! Now, I know some of the bookstores have received, but I've already pre-ordered. So I need to restrain myself from rushing to the bookstore to buy it. Shouldn't be too difficult right at that price, 32$ (hardcover).

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
(Double Day Canada - April 28)

If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl - someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment - not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a group of people who call themselves The Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control: I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends - a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch - and we have to find someone who can help us gain our freedom back before The Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

LOL, another one of my favorite authors :) Second in the Darkest Powers trilogy, this takes place in the Otherworld world :)It's for YA, but pretty interesting :) I'm actually hoping for a cross-over in the future...

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
(Mira - April 28)
Untrained. Untested. Unleashed. With her unique magical abilities, Opal has always felt unsure of her place at Sitia's magic academy. But when the Stormdancer clan needs help, Opal's knowledge makes her the perfect choice - until the mission goes awry. Pulling her powers in unfamiliar directions, Opal finds herself tapping into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. Now Opal must deal with plotters out to destroy the Stormdancer clan, as well as a traitor in their midst. With danger and deception rising around her, will Opal's untested abilities destroy her - or save them all?

LOL, what can I say, it's like they all plan to have my favorite authors release in the same month :)Okay, so I'm running out of things to say except that... well it's Maria V Snyder!! LOL :P I read the excerpt a long time ago and I liked it :) I think this is going to be very interesting and we get to visit another region/country :P

Visions in White by Nora Roberts
(Berkley - April 28)

Childhood friends Mackensie, Parker, Laurel and Emmeline have formed a very successful wedding planning business together but, despite helping thousands of happy couples to organise the biggest day of their lives, all four women are unlucky in love. Photographer Mackensie Elliott has suffered a tough childhood and has a bad relationship with her mother, which makes her wary of commitment. But when she meets Carter Macguire, she can't stop herself falling for him, although his ex girlfriend is prepared to play dirty to keep him. Mackensie soon realises she has to put her past demons to rest in order to find lasting love...

All right, so instead of a trilogy, seems like Ms Roberts is now writing quartet :P I'm going to give this a try, sounds like good :) My only caveat is that this is going to be trade-size, sigh. I'll give this one a try and see if it's worth to get the other books or not :P

Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
(Mira - April 28)
Knitting and life. They're both about beginnings—and endings. That’s why it makes sense for Lydia Goetz, owner of A Good Yarn on Seattle’s Blossom Street, to offer a class called Knit to Quit. It’s for people who want to quit something—or someone!—and start a new phase of their lives.

First to join is Phoebe Rylander. She recently ended her engagement to a man who doesn’t know the meaning of faithful, and she’s trying to get over him. Then there’s Alix Turner. She and her husband, Jordan, want a baby, which means she has to quit smoking. And Bryan Hutchinson joins the class because he needs a way to deal with the stress of running his family’s business—not to mention the lawsuit brought against him by an unscrupulous lawyer.

Life can be as complicated as a knitting pattern. Just ask Anne Marie Roche. She and her adopted daughter, Ellen, finally have the happiness they wished for. And then a stranger comes to her bookstore asking questions.

Or ask Lydia herself. Not only is she coping with her increasingly frail mother, but she and Brad have unexpectedly become foster parents to an angry, defiant twelve-year-old.

But as Lydia already knows, when life gets difficult and your stitches are snarled, your friends can always help!

I'm actually unsure about this release date... some says April 28 and others, May 1st. All right, granted, there's not much of a difference between the dates, right LOL. Especially since this one will probably show up early in bookstore :P Anyway, I really like this series... and I'm soooo glad that we're going to see Alix again and catch up with her life :)

See, April is going to be a great month :) Kind of funny though that the month is divided into two batches of releases :P But here's my reasoning. I'll buy all the books coming out in the beginning of the month and then, will have time to read them before getting the second wave :P Plus, it's going to give me time to save a bit of money, since the late releases are all trade-sizes or hardcovers :(

So Happy April reading!!