Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery

See, I told you there'd be a review soon :D Head towards Breezing Through to find out how much I enjoyed Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery. Accompanying me in my thoughts this time is Mary G, a fellow Canadian whom I met this year (2nd person from the left in the pic) :D You can read the review here.

Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery
published by HQN Books in October 2009

Dana Birch vowed never to put herself at the mercy of a powerful man. She became a deputy so that she could take care of herself, and protect those she loved. Especially her best friends, the Titan sisters.

Twenty years ago, Garth Duncan swore revenge on Jed Titan for abandoning Garth and his mother. Now he’s back to fulfill that promise, even if Jed s daughters get caught in the crosshairs. All that stands between him and his goal is Dana, her gun, and a growing passion that can t be denied...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Book Buying Habit

Catching up on my blogging :) I want to write some reviews, but many will be for Breezing Through. There are few books I read earlier this month that I could write reviews for... but it seems so long ago ^_^; As a result, you get this post about my book buying habit. You'll have to thank Wendy since she's the one who got the ball rolling with this post :)

So my book buying habits. By now, everyone knows that the libraries around me have a poor book selection and that I buy 95% of my books. Not a secret either that I buy most of my books new, if possible as soon as they show up in the bookstore :P Yes, running after new releases have become an exciting part of my life LOL. I know, it sounds a bit sad and pathetic, but I'm telling you, it's challenging, LOL :)

What I Buy New - 70%

I buy most of my books new - hardcovers, trade-sizes and paperbacks. I don't have a family of my own yet and reading is pretty much my only hobby and thus, expense. As a result, I can afford spending lots of money on books. I try to limit my hardcovers purchases to absolute favorite authors and series... I also try to buy my HC and TS online where it's the cheapest, but I'm known to be impatient and I dislike paying 6.99$ for the pre-orders, so I end up buying them in-store, most of the time with coupons (so it's not so bad).

What I Buy Used - 25%

Used BookStores and bookfair/book sales. I'm not too discriminating about conditions... if I can get a cheaper prices, then it's all good :D Canadian prices of books fluctuate a lot according to CDN$ value. This year, the prices of books have been on the rise... so used books are great.

What I get at the Library - 4%

Yep, I do borrow books from the library. Not that many though, due to the poor selection ^_^; I live in the French province of Canada, so most of the budget is given to French books. However, they still get very popular authors and many hardcovers books, so that's a plus for me. (Although buying is a lot faster!! For some reasons, their processing is very, very slow, sigh.)

E-books, ARC, free books
- 1%

Hmmm, I don't buy e-books very often. More like once in a while. One day, I'll buy an e-reader... but for now, I'm waiting for the market to settle - i.e. format, e-readers, technology, pricing, etc. One thing that I find ridiculous at the moment is the price of e-books. Personally, if e-books are not a lot cheaper than paper books, then I don't think it's worth it. And please, please, please... all that green talk - ENOUGH! Am I evil if I use plastic bags? Am I evil if I like collecting paper books? I don't think so. Ugh, but I digress. This is definitively another topic.

I don't get many ARC or free books. Once in a while, I'll win a contest... but that's about it. And the chances are very slim as I don't enter many contests because LOL, going to buy the book myself is usually faster :D Yes, I know. I need to work on my patience ^_^;

So there you go. My book buying habits. Lately, it's been pretty much hit and run when I go to the bookstore. I have my TBB list and know what I want. I go in, pick up the book, buy and walk out. Not as much browsing and less impulse buys.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Re-Read Challenge Reminder! and misc... again

Sigh. I've been really busy at work... and am completely exhausted :( It sucks... so my blogging and blog-hoping have suffered :( Sorry. I'll try to get some reviews in sometime ^_^; But at least, the good news is that I've been reading! Yay!

I just wanted to remind everyone that the end of the month is this week-end, which means... Re-Read Challenge! Woohooo! Luckily for me, I have mine done :D I'll open the blog post on Friday and you'll have till Monday to post your review, how does this sound? So whoever hasn't had time to re-read will have the opportunity to do so this week-end. Then, I'll have the draw done on Tuesday :D

I had a couple of things I wanted to say, but my mind is going blank... So sorry if this post is a bit incoherent...

LOL, this week-end, I found a way to get around Strict Release Date... pray on the week-end employee :P

I've been thinking of going to the RWA 2010 in Nashville... but after discussion with Jill and Kristie, I'm now considering the RT 2010 in Columbus. Sigh, decision, decision... I'm really tempted by RT now, although it seems there will be more authors in RWA...

I've really missed everyone. It seems that blogland has gotten very quiet. What is everyone up to?

Oh and guess what I'm going to do tomorrow? Going to McGill Bookfair! Woohoo! I know, I don't need more books... but hey, I could find some treasures there! :D Will let you know if I find anything good :D

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No TBR Day

Yep, I won't be making the TBR challenge again this month. That's twice this year :( Boooo! But then, I noticed that not many made it this month, so it made me feel better :)

I'll try to have a review up sometimes later this week... For the meantime, lots of miscellaneous stuff. So bear with me :D

I found 5$ this morning, so that made my day LOL :) Then, it went downhill from there... It's been very busy at work lately. I mean, there's just me doing experiments and I'm making up for the days I missed. The worst is that one part of the experiment is no longer working. So we've been stalled and now have to work on troubleshooting the problem. I hate when something which was working stops working :( It's just incredibly annoying :( My boss keeps asking Why? Why? Why? and all I have to say is: I don't know. I thought maybe it was me - the results been different since I started doing it, but he said no. That's good in a way. I just hope he doesn't ask me in this week-end to work it out :( So I'm crossing my fingers.

Aside from books, one of my passions used to be TVB series. I've only started watching American series in the past few years... before, I used to watch tv exclusively in Vietnamese, devouring TVB series. TVB series are TV series made in Hong Kong. Those series are extremely popular with the Asian community, being dubbed in Viet, Cambodgian, Thai, etc. I used to go to the rental store every week to rent these series. Of course, nowadays, I just watch them online ^_^; I have to admit that my interest has waned a little bit in the past few years... in part because I've been reading a lot more, but also because TVB stopped making my favorite kind of series: kung fu series T_T I still enjoy watching family drama, cops series and etc., but they don't grab me the way kung fu series used to :(

October to December is TVB's anniversary period. They usually go all out during this period, broadcasting big budgets series. One of them has piqued my interest: Beyond the Realm of Conscience. You can watch the opening credit below:

What do you think? Looks great no? I mean, the costumes are soooo gorgeous. The color they used is so vibrant! I love the hair even though they're a bit exaggerated :D So happy the series takes place in the Tang dynasty and not the Manchurian period, that way we get much nice costumes :D Unfortunately, it's not a kung fu series, more like palace intrigues... So women fighting each other ^_^; Seriously, women can be soooo scary at time! Still, I'm looking forward to it and the series has a great cast :D Definitively looking forward to see Tavia Yeung's performance (she's the one with the scary eyes which I love by the way :P). The series has only started this week, but there's a lot of talks about Tavia's role being a breakthrough performance and seems like she has a real shot for the TVB awards. Charmaine Sheh is the other "lead" actress... Her role will be the usual goody-two-shoes, nothing special really... but at least, Charmaine usually delivers. Lots of good veterans as well in this series... the only disappointing factor in my opinion is not enough actors LOL :P Ah well. Now, I either have to wait for the version with English subtitles to come out or the Viet version. Sigh. The other TVB anniversary series is Born Rich, a family/business drama. Those are usually quite good and TVB learned from its mistake and the series is only 40 episodes long. Not 80 like Gem of Life ^_^; I'll probably end up watching this as well, because I don't have anything better to do LOL :) but also the series has a great cast, again lots of veterans, and I ended up enjoying the opening quite a lot as well :D

Yesterday, I bought some books. Please explain this to me... So while I was in California, I forgot to buy Mischief in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon. I know, stupid, especially since I saw it everywhere!! For some reasons, I thought I bought it already ^_^; Now, if you've followed my blog or Kristie's, you'll know that Dorchester books are actually hard to find ^_^; I don't know what the problem is... I'm guessing it has something to do with Dorchester's distribution contract with Chapters/Indigo - Canada's biggest bookstore chain (think Barnes & Noble) or something. Chapters simply does not seem to stock a lot of the Dorchester books in-store. Oh, they're available to order online, but if you browse through the bookstores, not there. Or if they get it, it'll be 1 or 2 months after the release date! Sliding Home by Kate Angell came out in September 9 and I only saw them at the bookstore on October 2nd (of course, it had to be just after I ordered them online). The only book in the past couple of months from Dorchester that I've seen making it to the bookstore on time was The Fire King by Marjorie M. Liu. I mean, this is really annoying. So yeah, Mischief in Mudbug? Hasn't made it to the bookstore yet and I doubt it will... (I mean, Trouble in Mudbug hasn't). But surprise, surprise... guess where I found it? At the hospital gift shop. Now, that's just wrong. Chapters can't seem to stock it, but hospital gift shop does?!?! I know that Ames Wal-Mart does receive the Dorchester books, but hey, we're talking Wal-Mart here. They have everything nowadays... But the hospital gift shop?!?!? Seriously?!?! That's just weird and wrong. Of course, Mischief in Mudbug was not the only book I bought. I also stopped by Coles (also part of Chapters/Indigo) - you know, the bookstore that shelves the books as soon as they receive it :P How do I know they've received the books? Basically, I stalked their online indicator. As soon the website shows that they've got the books in store, I give them a call and ask the clerk to put a copy aside for me and go pick it up after work. Lately, I've been a good girl... Of course, it might be explained by my recent haul from the States... but really, I've been a good girl. Proof is, I've been lusting after Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole & Gena Showalter, but I didn't buy as soon as it came out. Instead, I waited till other new books were released so I could use my coupons :) I have 2 "5$ off if you buy 35$," 1 "10$ off i you buy 40$," and 2 "25% off on any item in-store" coupons that are all expiring in November ^_^; Deep Kiss of Winter is 27$, so I need at least 1 or 2 books in order to use one of the coupon. Finally, yesterday, the bookstore received the Mira/HQN releases and among them, one that I was waiting for: Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery. So what did I do? Pick up the phone and call the bookstore... Problem is, Coles is a very small bookstore and they have 4 employees... and lately, every time I've been calling, I get the same person: James ^_^; How do I know it's James? Well, it's the only guy that works there and he answers: "Coles des Cathédrales, bonjour. James à l'appareil." A couple of months ago, he suggested I leave a list of books I was expecting and they would put it aside automatically for me... but I haven't yet. One of the reasons is that Coles is very small and they don't get all the books. Also, I know they're the ones who gets Mira/HQN books first, but it's not the case for all publishers... Hey, I'm all about instant gratification - I'll go to the bookstore I know I can get the books the earliest... Okay, long story short, I didn't leave a list and as a result, I've been calling quite regularly and yes, lately, it's always James who answers ^_^; So yesterday, I got embarrassed ^_^; Cos I always call the day the books are unpacked. I mean, I know I'm obsessed, but it's another story when someone else knows. So instead of asking for Hot on Her Heels (to be sure that there were indeed out on the shelves and there were copies left - because others leave their list), I kind of panicked and asked for Deep Kiss of Winter which I knew they had. Anyway, he put it aside for me. My co-worker who has witnessed a lot of my calls asked me if the clerks at Coles recognize me. Quite frankly, I didn't know. Not everyone is good with faces, not everyone pays attention and not everyone cares... but after yesterday, I know. The answer: they do, or at least, James does. So I went to the bookstore, luckily found Hot on her Heels on the shelves (yay!)... Then, I cruised the aisles for another book. Finally, picked up Witches Incorporated by K.E. Mills. Wait at the cash to pay... James came, got Deep Kiss of Winter from the "put aside" pile without me asking and I haven't spoken yet, so he did not recognize my voice. Then he asked: "You were aware this was hardcover, right?" and I'm like "Yes." I can't remember if I said something else, but I must have because he then said: "Yeah, I was surprised you didn't call earlier for this book. It's been out a while and you usually call as soon as they come out." All I could answer was: "Oh, I was waiting for another release to use a coupon." "Yeah, this book just came out today," he answered, pointing Hot on Her Heels. So yeah. They know who I am now LOL :P I can't decide whether it's embarrassing or not LOL :P However, now, I'm really considering leaving a list with them, at least for the Mira/HQN books releases. Okay, this post is way longer than I expected ^_^; I'll just finish by posting pics of my Frostbitten gym bag :D

The t-shirt has the same logo than the gym bag... and if it looks used already, well it's because I used it as my carry-on for California :D

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kelley Armstrong signing

I planned to review Frostbitten before posting this; however, as you all know, the past few weeks have been hectic... and if I don't post this now, I might forget ^_^; Will definitively post a review of Frostbitten next week :D

As some of you know, I was very lucky and got to attend one of Ms Kelley Armstrong's signings. I have been reading romance since 2000 (in English) and this was the first time I had the opportunity to go to a signing!! The author being Kelley Armstrong, one of my top favorite authors, was just the cherry on top of the sundae! Excited didn't cover it! LOL :) Especially since I've been trying to go to one of Ms Armstrong's signing for a while.

See, Kelley Armstrong is Canadian. She actually lives very close to Kristie... and does a lot of signing in Ontario (a couple of hours away from me) and sometimes in British Columbia, but of course, not Montreal @_@. So you'd think I'd have gone to one of her signings earlier, right? However, there always seems to be a schedule conflict :( Earlier this summer, when I was at Kristie's, Ms Armstrong was on an American tour. Then, I discovered she was doing a signing in Montreal on... October 8! That's the day I left for California! I mean, seriously?!? For once, she's coming to Montreal and I'm going to MISS it?!? Noooo T_T I was crushed. My sister suggested to leave Friday instead of Thursday, but that sounded unfair to her... and would have made the trip even shorter than it was... So yeah, I was super disappointed... till I found out that she was a guest of honor at Con*Cept - Montreal's fantasy and sci-fi convention.

LOL, long story short, I was determined to attend the convention to meet Kelley Armstrong no matter what! LOL :) and guess what? I did :)

There was a Q&A session on Saturday, from 12-1pm, and signing sessions, at 3pm both Saturday and Sunday. You should have seen me that day - I had my little red backpack purse, 10 books in one bag on one side and on the other side, my dad's work case with my sister's laptop. It was sooo heavy ^_^; and I walked around like that... People must have been wondering, LOL :P

As a guest of honor, Ms Armstrong expected to be very busy with panels and so she brought many books and freebies to give away... but it turned out she only had the Q&A and the signing sessions... so those who attended the Q&A got lucky :D I was able to score a Frostbitten t-shirt! Woohoo :D Also, at the signing, when she saw the amount of books I had, she asked if I wanted the Frostbitten promo gym bag she brought with her. I was all like: "Euh, yes, please!" LOL :) And I really like the gym bag, even brought it to California with me - my new carry-on :D Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic of it and my parents have the camera ^_^; I'll post a picture of it later.

Okay, now onto the Q&A session. We were a very small group, about 15 people, present, so it was very cozy :) Ms Armstrong read 2 excerpts, one from Stolen and another from No Humans Involved and of course, she answered our questions. Since she did not have any panels or workshops at the convention, we could ask any questions we want, about anything... So on her Women of the Otherworld series, her Nadia Stafford series and even writing.

Here is what I remember from the Q&A session. Mind you, it's been 2 weeks and this is all from memory (have I known, I would have taken some notes), so I cannot guarantee 100% this is accurate, but I'll do my best :D My thoughts/comments are in italic :P

Q: How many books are you contracted for?

A: She is contracted through book #13 so far. She usually gets contracts for 3 books at a time. Books #11 and #12 will have Savannah as a narrator. Do not know what book #13 will be about yet. If her publisher wants to extend her contract, they will most likely contact her while she works on book #13 (book #11 is finished by the way). Ms Armstrong keeps expecting the series to go down, but there is definitively a renewal of interest with the Twilight and True Blood phenomena, so you never know :D (Woohooo!! For once, I'm happy about the Twilight phenom LOL)

Q: What happened with the Bitten movie?

A: The rights to Bitten were actually sold even before it was published! For some reason though, it was bought by musicale production company, LOL :P Can you imagine, Bitten as a musicale?!? Then, the rights were bought by Warner Bros. They were very enthusiastic about this project... apparently, even had Angelina Jolie on board. Then, a couple of movies with super heroines came out: Catwoman and Elektra and they bombed. So Warner Bros decided there was no market for such movies and put Bitten aside... and in the end, they did not renew the option. So no movie of Bitten in sight... Boooo :(

Q: One of the attendee was in the middle of reading Bitten. She asked if Ms Armstrong thinks that her writing has evolved since Bitten and how?

A: As an author, Ms Armstrong strives to improve her writing. After all, this is her job. So she still attends writing workshops, takes critics, etc. She hopes that her writing has evolved since Bitten. When she hears people say "Oh, Bitten was my favorite book!" she tends to think: "What about the others, were they bad?" LOL :)

Q: How did she start writing?

A: She's always loved stories and reading, even at a young age. Even then, she'd be: "But wouldn't it be better if this or that happened?" So it's natural once she was old enough, she just started making up her own stories.

Q: Why did she choose writing about werewolves?

A: Short answer, she loves animals and was interested in werewolves :D At that time though, werewolves were not very popular. Vampires were in, but werewolves, not really.

Q: How did she sell her first book, Bitten?

A: Bitten is the first book she sold, but it's not the first book she wrote. Since vampires were in at the time, she tried her hand at them... but always came back to her work in progress Bitten. If I remember correctly, she put off writing the end for a long time... because once she was done, she'd have to try to sell it. When finally she did, she showed Bitten to her coach/instructor and asked him if it was worth trying to sell. The instructor read it and then, contacted an agent he knew and asked her to read it. She asked what it was about... and when he said werewolf, she said "Thanks, but no thanks." She did accept though at the end of the conversation (probably just to get rid of him)... and turned out, she liked it :) and if I remember correctly, the sale was very quick actually.

She then got contracted for 2 books, Bitten and another one... and they asked her if she ever considered turning this into a series. Thing is, she knew she wouldn't be able to only write about werewolves - that eventually, she would get sick of her characters and in the end, she'd kill them all off ^_^; She asked if it had to only be about werewolves? and the answer was no.

So when she first wrote Bitten, it was not supposed to be a series... and that's why there was no mention of any other supernatural races. As a result, when she wrote Stolen, she had to come up with an explanation.

Q: How long does it take her to write books?

A: 3 months for YA books and 4 months, for Women of the Otherworld books. If I remember correctly, that's for the draft. The way Ms Armstrong writes is that she plows through it, get the draft done and only then, go back to re-work things.

Q: There was a question about editors... Can't remember exactly how the question was formulate, but something along the lines of "Do you listen to them?"

A: Ms Armstrong has a good relationship with her editors and they work well together. Basically, they do suggestion to make the books better, especially make them flow better... and most of the time, they're right to bring up what they bring up.

Q: What would be her advices for aspiring authors?

A: Marketability is important, but at the end of the day, write about what you love. Don't just write about something because it's "in" at the moment. Remember, you're always writing 2-3 years ahead of the market (from the point you're done writing --> finding agent --> make sale --> editing --> publishing, the whole process takes about 2-3 years).

And the market is volatile. For example, just a year ago, agents and publishing houses were saying: "No more" to vampires. Now, after the success of Twilight and True Blood, they want vampire stories again. They even asked Ms Armstrong if she had old vampires stories or if she'd like to write some and she refused. She just doesn't want to write about vampires.

After hearing that, I had to ask:
Q: In that case, will Cassandra ever get her book? And if so, will she survive?

A: Ms Armstrong doesn't know. The problem with Cassandra is that Ms Armstrong does not have the right story for her yet... and the longer Cassandra doesn't get her book, the longer she stays alive, right? :P

Ms Armstrong has learned from past experience not to have a character narrated if she doesn't have the right story for said character. Best example is Broken - Broken should really have been Jaime's story since it was about zombies, right? However, fans wanted Elena as a narrator and kept asking for her back. So Ms Armstrong thought she could twisted it around so the story could still be about zombies, but have Elena as a narrator. And to date, Ms Armstrong thinks that Broken is the weakest book in her series.

By the way, Jaime was supposed to be a one-time character only... but we all know how that turned out to be, right? :)

So you cannot really force it. You need to have the right storyline, setting and timing to bring back narrators. For example, last year, when Ms Armstrong went to a convention in Anchorage, she knew right away that was the right setting for a werewolf story... and that's how we got Frostbitten. So not sure if Cassandra will ever get her book.

Q: Is there a character who is easy to write about?

A: Paige. Since Paige is a supernatural investigators, it's easy to come up with stories for her.

Q: How does it feel to have older characters and characters growing older? For example, in Industrial Magic, Jaime was 40 and now, she's 45-46... The twins are already 3 years old.

A: Actually, the timeline in Women of the Otherworld series actually follows closely real life time. For example, the twins were born in Broken which was published in 2006. Now, we're in 2009 so technically, they'd be 3 years old, and they are in Frostbitten. When Savannah was first introduced, she was 12 years old and that was in 2001... Now, she's about 20-21 years old. Readers feel like the timeline is going fast, but not really.

Q: How did the Nadia Stafford series come to be?

A: Nadia Stafford came to life from pure panic/terror. After she wrote Stolen (could be Dime Store Magic), there was a lull. Bitten and Stolen hadn't sold as much as they expected and she didn't hear from the publisher... so she started panicking. Her agent calmed her down and asked, if you weren't writing this series, what would you be writing and Ms Armstrong said "mystery thrillers." And so she started writing about Nadia Stafford. Then, the publisher contacted her again, saying they wanted more of Women of the Otherworld and Nadia Stafford took the backseat. Couple of years later, agent asked Kelley if she still wanted to write mystery thrillers and sold Exit Strategy.

Q: Will there be more books in the Nadia Stafford series?
A: People who have read the second book, Made to be Broken, know that there must be something that comes afterwards. However, it won't be anytime soon. What happens is that Ms Armstrong's YA series REALLY took off and so she's really busy and doesn't want to commit to another deadline. What she hopes is to write more of Nadia Stafford in between Women of the Otherworld and YA books and sell it independently - no contract.

Q: What's the challenge of writing Nadia Stafford series, how is it different from the Women of the Otherworld series?

A: Her Nadia Stafford series is more "realistic." For example, in one of the book, she had to blow up a house... and she asked her husband: "How do I blow up a house?" and he asked if it was for her paranormal or mystery series... and when she answered mystery, he said: "Euh, this is going to be harder." LOL :) Basically, she cannot use superpowers or spells to make it easier, right? :) (By the way, if you're curious, it ended up being a gas leak.)

On the other hand though, she still has a lot of freedom writing Nadia's character and world... because Nadia's a hitwoman. Similarly to Elena who is a werewolf, readers cannot ask their werewolf or hitman acquaintances if the author got it right, right? :D

Q: Canada is re-releasing the series with new covers. How does she feel about that?

A: Her "Twilight" covers? (LOL, she didn't seem to like the new covers too much ^_^;) For the whole series, Ms Armstrong had a lot of different covers, depending of the country as well. Sometimes, her Canadian, UK and USA covers are all different. She seems to like the UK covers very much. Not too thrilled about the half-naked women of the USA covers LOL :P However, she's just glad that the publishers are putting efforts in her series and think it's worth to re-jacket her books. Apparently, UK and USA covers will have a make-over some time next year.


Phew, that's all I remember from the Q&A session. There might have been more, but I think I went through all of it ^_^; Ms Armstrong has an extensive FAQ section on her website and some of these questions are repeated there.

Overall, meeting Ms Armstrong was a great experience and I really had a lot of fun. Really glad I could make it. Definitively looking forward to attending other signing sessions! :D

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My books from California...

LOL, the few days before I left for California, whenever I mentioned I was going on a trip to a blogger, they would ask me: "What books are you bringing with you?" LOL :) So these are the books I brought with me.

Here are the books I bought at Borders :D I'd like to precise that I can most probably find all these books in Montreal... however, they're a bit cheaper in the States... and well yes, some of them, I couldn't.

And here is what I found at the UBS :D I was so in awe, I forgot to take pictures of the store to share ^_^;

A lot of good finds: Iron Lace by Emilie Richards, Return Engagement by Lynn Michaels, A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade. The Susan Andersen is probably the only one I don't own... I've heard of it, but never actually seen a real life copy. I bought the old Kay Hooper's, because although they're being reprinted, these were cheaper LOL. I read The Dare by Elda Minger and enjoyed it, so hence The Fling. Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor, I got because it was on my list, thanks to Kristie :P Books by Kathleen Kane are courtesy of Cindy :D

So total: 27 books :D Not bad no? And Tracy, it did all fit in the suitcases :D I'm an expert packer LOL :P

EDIT: But guess what? I forgot to buy Mischief in Mudbug by Jana Deleon... and I really want to kick myself... because I've seen it at Borders and at the UBS... Renee even pointed it out, because she bought the first book... and I just looked at the book stupidly, thinking I had ordered it and it came in my last shipment... but I remember incorrectly. And it's a Dorchester book, so I won't be finding it here in-store before at least 2 months. Sigh ^_^;

The Wedding aka my Californian trip

*EDIT on September 14, 2012: Due to storage issues on Picasa, I had to delete some of the pictures*

So my trip to California :D Bear with me, this post might be quite long, but at least, there's pictures :D

The purpose of this trip was primarily to attend my cousin's - Katie - wedding. My father has 6 siblings and over the years, many have moved from Vietnam to California. However, Katie's family is the one that has been in the States for the longest and the one we're the closest to. She's the 2nd kid out of 4 (2 girls, 2 boys) and the 3rd to get married... but you have to know her... She's outgoing, very sociable and bigger than life... and her wedding mirrored her personality :)

We left on Thursday's afternoon. We wanted to leave earlier, but my sister had school, so we had to work around her schedule. Unfortunately, it was not a direct flight ^_^; Seriously, if I can help it, I'll never have connections ever anymore! It's not just the waiting time, but the possible delays :( The worst was that the seats from Chicago to Los Angeles were very uncomfortable :( Ugh, my poor butt. We arrived late to Los Angeles where our oldest cousin picked us up. She then drove us out to eat... where we were picked up by Katie and Chap (the groom) and drove home in Westminster.

Friday was spent running last minute errands - buying decorations, tulle, garter... and decorating the house. A little shopping and oh, we got new haircuts :)


That day, I crashed early because I was exhausted. Let just say, I've been running on very little sleep. I had a headache and didn't want it to get worst. Also, we had to wake up extremely early on Saturday to prepare hors-d'oeuvres.

See, in some Asian cultures, instead of a church ceremony, there's the "groom goes to pick up the bride" ceremony that takes place in the morning. In this case, the "good" time that day turned out to be 9.30am!!! So that meant, guests on the bride side had to be present at 8.30-9am!! That's quite early... so we had to wake up even earlier to get the house and hors-d'oeuvres ready ^_^; We were running behind too, you should have seen the rush!

LOL and instead of a little ring boy, we need two little boys to open the limo door :) It was quite funny because 1) the driver was going to open the door and everyone was like: "No! No! Don't open the door!!" and 2) the boys were just so shy!! LOL, they didn't want to do it... I guess because everyone were looking at them. On the bride side, our nephew, Alexander, had to open the door. His father had to help LOL and afterwards, he hugged his father's leg so tight that my cousin-in-law couldn't walk :P In Alexander's defense, the doorboy on the groom side was as shy and his mother had to help... He was on the verge of crying ^_^;

The groom and bride received all the gifts from the bride's side of the family and then, hop, the groom drove his new bride to his house where his parents awaited. That's when the fun for us started - because now, it was their turn to run around and we could relax and enjoy the food. Not so much the bride, though, who had to kneel and pray for 10 minutes LOL :P The next day, we asked Katie what she prayed for... "For the 10 minutes to go by fast!" LOL. Then, the groom and bride received all the gifts from the groom side. And that was it, the end of the morning ceremony... Time to get ready for the reception :D

Oh, did I mention that my cousin likes to do things BIG? That she was expecting 550 guests?!? Yes, 550... In her defense, she couldn't help it... See, Chinese weddings - we usually count tables... 10 persons per table. 22 tables went to the groom's dad guests, 16 to the bride's dad guests and the rest for the groom and bride. Oh and she likes to go all out too :D

Gorgeous, isn't it? Also, as it is common tradition in Chinese weddings, the bride had three dresses: wedding dress, Chinese dress and cake-cutting dress.

By the way, if you want to see what I look in the dress, you can see below :)

All in all, we had a great time at the wedding :D It's been ages since I've seen my parents dance (1st pic) !! My dad says 30 years LOL :) My cousins brought their kids on the dance floor as well :D and LOL, father of the bride and my father were quite happy :D

Everything went smoothly and on time and so, the wedding actually wrapped up quite early - around 11.30pm. We were home by 12pm... and you'd think we would call it a night... but of course not LOL. Not my uncle and dad. Guess what? They started drinking cognac! Yes, cognac!!! They were 4 of them, my dad, uncle, cousin and a family friend. Women sat around, keeping an eye on them. It was quite hilarious!! and you could have seen them... They were determined to drink through a bottle of Cordon Bleu and they almost did!! My sister and I had to sneak the bottle away and empty it so they would finally go to sleep LMAO. It's been a while since I laughed as much LOL :) You know my uncle and dad are tipsy when they start talking in English... the funniest moment was when my uncle said: "I want to go to sleep!" It was 1.30am already, so we were all happy... and my mom stood up. My uncle then went: "Auntie, why did you stand up so quickly? Why are you so eager? Let sit down and keep drinking then!" LOL :P and so, they did... till 2.30am ^_^;

The next day, I woke up quite early and and very excited... because it was the SoCal bloggers meet!! Wendy was coming to pick me up and we were meeting at 11.30am at Costa Mesa Borders. We were early, but not as early as Tracy who was already browsing the aisle. Then, Lori and Renee showed up, followed by Rosie and a copy of Indiscreet by Carolyn Jewel :D Daphne, Holly and MM were last to join. It was funny, because I immediately recognized Holly and MM, but not Carmina - she cut her hair. When I saw them, I was like: "Oh, Holly brought her daughter... Wait a minute, The Girl doesn't have black hair!" and then, I recognized Daphne LOL :P Poor Holly, she had to rush to the restroom before greeting us ^_^;

So we browsed and bought books :D Borders customers and employees were probably wondering who were all those women, laughing and talking loudly LOL :P Then, we went to Yard House to get lunch where we talked even more... and ate of course LOL :) I wrapped it up by taking pictures with everyone :D

In the bottom picture, from left to right: Renee, Lori, Wendy, Holly, Daphne, Rosie and Tracy... and I'm standing in front. I didn't realize I was standing in front of Wendy and didn't have to flex my knees, LOL :) And then, the SoCal bloggers meet came to an end :( Booo! Way to quick! Lucky though, some of us were meeting the next day for an outing to the UBS :D

That evening, another one of my cousins took us out (my family and some family's friends) out for dinner. He has a baby, 3 months old, and she is the most adorable baby!!! She looks like a doll!!

The next day, Wendy, Renee, Tracy and I met again to go to a UBS - New and Recycled Romance. If you're in the neighborhood of Costa Mesa, you have to make it to that UBS!! All romance and simply heaven!! Imagine Kristie's book room x 2.5... Floor to ceiling romance novels!! It was simply wow!!! Great place! I'll be sure to go back the next time I visit my relatives :D

Then, my sister and I went to an outlet mall and did some quick shopping... before going home where we were invited for another dinner... That was Monday... and we were flying on Tuesday morning, at 8.35am... which meant we had to be at the airport in the neighborhood of 6am and had to leave home at 5.30am. So guess till what time we stayed there? Yep, 1am and we were not done packing ^_^; Everytime someone told my dad to go home to pack, he would say: "I have a good wife and two daughters to take care of it" and so, we stayed LOL :) At the end, we cleared the table and fold the chairs - even the one on which my dad was sitting. Not subtle, LOL. I missed most of that dinner though, because I crashed on the couch... Simply too tired.

So that's pretty much it, my trip to California! I had a great time with family and friends... It's unfortunate it went by so fast :(

But LOL, that's not what you want to know right? What you want to know is what books I got? Well that's another post :D

Review: Goddess of Hunt by Tessa Dare

Some stories and pictures coming up tonight :D So far, I've been lazing around (oh, heaven! LOL :P) and catching up on blogland... I had time to check my Google Reader, but hasn't done so since Sunday... but I came home to only 51 posts... Not bad no?

For now, a buddy review is up at Breezing Through. This time, Ames and I are discussing Goddess of Hunt by Tessa Dare! Review is here.


Goddess of Hunt by Tessa Dare
published by Ballantine Books in August 2009

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother's best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion-one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart and claim her for his own?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm back!!!

Hello everyone!!

Miss me? Perhaps not, but I definitively missed all of you and blogland!! :D

So some words of explanations... If you've been on a few blogs, you'll know that I've been in California the past week-end to attend a family wedding. There's basically two reasons I did not mention it: 1) I didn't want to advertise the fact that I was going to be home alone with my sister for over a month on the internet and 2) didn't want it known that the house would be empty for a couple of days.

Remember I mentioned that my sister and I were in charge of cooking and stuff? LOL, well we've been on our own for more than a month while my parents left for the nice weather of California early to help with the preparations. Then, last Thursday, we went and join them :)

Since I was in South California, I couldn't miss the opportunity to get together with the SoCal bloggers. I had a blast :D They are great, great ladies!! The cherry on the sundae? Wendy, the Super Librarian, brought us to a UBS... the supreme UBS LOL :)

So I have a lot to blog... things about my trip, but also some stuff that took place before it... Luckily, I took the day off tomorrow. Seriously, things have been very hectic and I'm running on a very low amount of sleep ^_^;

The only downside to all of this is that my reading has taken a hike. Don't know where it went, but hoping that it'll come back soon!

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Life has been very hectic lately, both at work and at home... As a result, no time to read, no time to blog, no time to blog-hop T_T Seriously, it sucks :( I miss you all very much!!

Sorry I haven't replied to the comments I got... I will do that as soon as I get a minute. I have lots of things to say, but just no time :( I might not be around in the next couple of days either :(

All I have time now is to post pics of my dress:

And guess who this is? This is the person I got the pleasure to meet last week-end during a signing :D

Monday, October 05, 2009

Belated Monthly Reads - September 2009

I have soooo many things to blog about... and I just can't find the time to do it :(

First of all, I'm feeling much better. Sinus infection seems to be gone, yay!! A big thank you to Leslie for her trick with the hot compress. That really helped and saved me :) One of my teeth - a wisdom tooth - still hurts from time to time though, mostly when I open my mouth really big. I wonder now if I have a cavity or not. Yesterday (Sunday), I was feeling quite dizzy - started worrying if it was sinus infection affecting my ears... but it seems to be gone. So feeling better, but still not a 100% :( Hopefully, I'll be back in full shape very soon :)

I'm going to a wedding next Saturday and guess what? Found a very pretty dress!! Phewwww, talk about crunch time. There's a story behind it, but that's for another post. I'll post a pic of it :D I can wear the shoes I bought for Holly's wedding - that's the best thing LOL :P Now, I just need to find a strapless bra and what jewelry to wear with it... Sigh.

There's something I did this week-end that I want to blog about very badly. I'll definitively try to do it soon, although it'll ruin a surprise I have for some people ^_^; However, I'm afraid if I wait more, I'll forget about it... That'd be a pity. So I guess I'll have to give it away... but that's not for today.

Today or actually tonight (of course, by the time this post goes up, it'll be tomorrow... Confused? :P), I want to FINALLY post my monthly reads for September! I'm a few days late, but better than never, right?

1) Broken by Megan Hart: B+

I'm still not sure whether I'll review this or not. Turns out this was supposed to be my TBR challenge entry, but I forgot ^_^; I know, pathetic of me LOL. All in all though, I enjoyed my first Megan Hart. The story was very poignant and it's very different than other erotica I've read. Much more depth.

2) Fade to Black by Leslie Parrish: B/B+

Fade to Black was quite good actually. Lots of comparison made between Leslie Parrish and Karen Rose - which is why I picked up the book. I have to agree. Very good with great pacing. Definitively worth the try :D

3) Pitch Black by Leslie Parrish: B-/B

Many enjoyed Pitch Black even more than Fade to Black. I did enjoy the characters very much, but I wanted a little more from every aspect - story, characterization, suspense and so on. I also think this was a case of me more than the book... Just couldn't focus on it :( Gotta say though, I thought the romance was better in this one :D

4) Duchess by Night by Eloisa James: B+

5) At the Bride Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker: C

I picked up the newest Olivia Parker release and realized that I didn't remember anything of At the Bride Hunt Ball... which is why I re-read it. The book has potential, but it really falls flat in the second half. I just didn't get the hero's fascination for the heroine and why suddenly, he would decide to marry her. It also seems to me the heroine lost sight of her goals :( Oh by the way, having suffered from a bruised ankle not so long ago, I cannot imagine the heroine sneaking around with a sprained ankle. Didn't like the stepmother... but worst, re-reading At the Bride Hunt Ball, I didn't feel like reading the next book. Oups ^_^;

6) His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik: A

7) Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews: B++

This is another re-read... and I cheated, mostly focused on the second half of the book which is the most interesting. Definitively looking forward to the next book... and I just found out it was coming out in June. Why, oh why?!?!

8) Burn by Linda Howard: B+

9) Goddess of Hunt by Tessa Dare: B

Buddy review with Ames coming up at Breezing Through.

10) Lucky Streak by Carly Phillips: B

Still undecided whether I'll review this or not. Basically, I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but the second half was a bit disappointing :( I really loved the relationship between the H/H. I believed it... I would have liked the second book to focus even more on their relationship and how they would work out the trust issue. The suspense was weak, the curse a tad ridiculous... I did like that the heroine came clean to the hero early on. She didn't hide eternally. Still... couldn't have been better.

11) Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle: C

Hmmm, the plotline was quite original... but I guess it just didn't work for me :( Hero is in love with heroine for a couple of years, but has been treating her very coldly (didn't realize his feeling). Heroine is getting desperate... she either has to marry or will be sent back to Scotland where she'll die of boredom. She gets into a compromising situation with her best friend, the hero's younger brother... and ended up engaged to him... but he loves another. It would have worked just so much better if the heroine and her fiance had talked things out. Instead, the fiance really acted like an a$$ :(

This is sort of a sequel of My False Heart - the heroine is Zoe Armtrong, the daughter of the hero in My False Heart. I guess I was expecting something and just didn't get it :(

12) Tempted at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas: B

Review to come.

13) Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong: A-

Review to come.

So again, 13 books this month. It's a bit on the low side for me :( I blame being sick and having my routine completely turned upside down :( Problem is, I don't think it'll get better this month T_T But at least, I'll try :D

My big accomplishment in September is I actually reviewed all the books read in August. Seriously Jill, I don't know how you do it!! LOL :) Also, I reviewed more books in September then I thought... Cool :D

So anyway, more posts coming soon :D

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Re-Read Challenge: September Winner!!

Sooooo sorry, this post is late coming up.

It's been kind of crazy here. Lots of running around. I'm feeling better, although the past 2 or 3 days were painful. I'm knocking on wood and crossing my fingers that the sinus infection has cleared. The pressure on my cheekbones is mostly gone, but my teeth still ache from time to time - so I now wonder if it was due to sinus infection or not.... and one of my ears is popping from time to time too. I'm kind of extremely nervous because I'm supposed to fly later this week. I guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to be sure.

I have a lot of stuff to blog about. Hopefully, I'll get around to it this week :D So stay tuned!!

So this month, 7 persons completed the challenge! :D I know many that did the re-read, but did not write the review... Reviewing is definitively the hardest part in this challenge, right? :) I have to admit, I wasn't expecting a high turn out since blogland has been extremely quiet... So I'm happy with seven. The fun part though is that these reads are very diverse... you have a category romance, fantasy, paranormal romance, historical, Civil war era, contemporary... and even the years are quite different. Have to say, I love this challenge! :) The end of the year is coming and I'm wondering if we should continue the challenge next year... Hmmm.

Ah, but I'll stop thinking and talking...and announce who's the winner this month...


Woohooo, congrats Leslie!! Please e-mail me (you know my address) to let me know from which store you'd like the gift certificate :D

Yay! :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Re-Read Challenge: September!!

***This is a sticky post. Please scroll down for new posts***

Being sick sucks. Yes, yes, I know - nothing new, everyone knows that. However, it needs to be repeated. Ugh. I'm still not running 100% :( I'm having a bad case of sinus congestion... and it hurts!! My cheekbones hurt and my teeth ache :( And I can feel the pressure across my face... really not fun. So it's bothering me a little bit. Plus, work has been kicking my ass and my experiment is not really working like I want... so I don't have time to blog or blog-hop at work and that hurts a lot... so I'm behind on most of the things I want to do: blogging, reading, cleaning, etc. Let just say I'm a bit annoyed, sigh.

Enough ranting! Let see how many people did their re-reads this month :) Luckily, I did mine early this month! All I need is to write the review, which is the most difficult part, right? LOL :) I'm hoping for a better turn up this month, since we only had 10 reviews last month... but blogland has been very quiet lately, so I doubt it. For those who don't make it, you don't need to apologize or give me an explanation :) This is just for fun and we all have life and we all know that life doesn't go as planned :) So no need to feel bad :D

Well you know the drill right? Post a link to your review in the comment section to be eligible for the 10$ gift certificate draw :D You have till Thursday, October 1st at 11.59pm :) I'll draw a name on Friday morning :D

Enjoy everyone!!

Kris: The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll
Isabel: Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
Jill: Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu
Nath: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Tracy: Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Taja: The Return of Luke McGuire by Justine Davis
Leslie: Dark Stranger by Heather Graham