Monday, November 30, 2009

Re-Read: King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

So I did do a re-read, although it's not the one that I thought I would do for the challenge... but it doesn't matter, it's still a re-read, right?

The book I ended up re-reading was King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. This is the third book in The Queen's Thief series that I've discovered earlier this year. You can see my review of the series here.

To tell the truth, King of Attolia has become my new comfort read. Although I've first read it only in April, this is not my first re-read. I do that, discovering books and series that I've ended up loving so much that I will re-read a couple of times, especially when I start slumping. In 2007, my comfort reads were the Warland Chronicles series by Elizabeth Vaughan and Demon Angel by Meljean Brooks. Well this year, it's The Queen's Thief series and seriously, King of Attolia will definitively make my Top 3 Best books of the year :)

Here are my thoughts after my re-read...

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, YA
Series: Queen's Thief, book #3

My Opinion: I love this book to bits. Seriously. Although it's written for a younger audience, it is definitively not dumbed down. Actually, it is very cleverly written. A lot is left unsaid, you need to read between lines, remember the clues and hints... it seems that every time I read it, I discover some little things that I've missed and I go "Ahhhhh."

The story is very interesting and filled with intricacies. I love the court politics, the battle of wills between Eugenides and everyone else that wants him to assume his responsibilities as king. You'd think the book would be very serious, dealing with court intrigues, but no, there are a lot of LOL moments and you end up finishing the book with a huge smile on your face. So there is a good balance of everything in this book.

The great thing about this book is we keep discovering Eugenides' character. We've been witnessing his growth throughout the series and seriously, Eugenides grows into a great man. Yet, there's always a side of him that is unrevealed, making him mysterious, yet very, very lovable. Seeing his interactions with everyone is so fun :)

I also loved Ms Turner's approach in this book, having the readers witnessing Eugenides' ascension through the eyes of someone that did not know him. I thought it was very clever. At the same time, it was like having a private joke with Gen or the author... because readers know Gen... We all know the man, even with only one hand, is dangerous. All those Attolians thinking that he was a fool. Seriously?!? How do you think he became known and feared? Really!

All in all, I just love this book. Every single word LOL :) I just find it so clever and fun - and those two words rarely go together in my opinion :) I can't wait for March when the sequel will come out, Conspiracy of Kings. Having Eugenides teaming up with Sophos? Ohhh, terrible duo LOL :)

My Grade: It was previously an A, but I'm upgrading the grade to A+. That's how much I love this book :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Review: Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb

Woohoo, I was able to survive the mini-symposium and I did not fall asleep - a miracle! It helped that they did not turn off the lights, so I was able to read :) The only thing is that it ran late - an hour late :( It sucks that we have to attend these events in my opinion, especially when it's so focused on clinical stuff.

Ah well, it's over :D

By the way, Happy Thanksgivings to all American bloggers! I hope you'll enjoy your holiday! :D

In the meantime, I have a buddy review up at Breezing Through. This time, my buddy reviewer is Tabitha from Tabz Book Blog - Just Another Readeraholic and we're reviewing Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb. You can find our review here.

Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in November 2009 (HC)

When the newly promoted captain of the NYPSD and his wife return a day early from their vacation, they were looking forward to spending time with their bright and vivacious sixteen-year-old daughter who had stayed behind.

Not even their worst nightmares could have prepared them for the crime scene that awaited them instead. Brutally murdered in her bedroom, Deena's body showed signs of trauma that horrified even the toughest of cops; including our own Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who was specifically requested by the captain to investigate.

When the evidence starts to pile up, Dallas and her team think they are about to arrest their perpetrator; little do they know yet that someone has gone to great lengths to tease and taunt them by using a variety of identities. Overconfidence can lead to careless mistakes. But for Dallas, one mistake might be all she needs to bring justice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Re-Read Challenge Reminder

Ugh, I'm in a crabby mood :(

First of all, I got a parking ticket yesterday T_T I was parked on a parking meter and was 5 minutes late! UGH. I understand, totally my fault, but nothing worst than to be 5 minutes late and actually see that stupid red car and the agent putting the ticket on your windshield. And this is my 2nd parking tickets this year. Grrrrr. Ah well, the year is almost over, right?

Then today, I have a stupid symposium from 4 to 8pm. How the heck am I going to stay awake during the different presentations, I have no idea.

My reviewing muse is still not back. Where is she? Who stole her away from me?

And finally, a cheerful thought: the end of the month is next week (Tuesday actually)... so you know what it means: Re-Read Challenge! Have you done yours? I haven't yet. I might try a Jennifer Crusie, but I'm not sure yet. I'll put up the post for the Re-Read challenge on Monday... and I'll do the draw on Thursday. How does it sound? So people will have 3 days (Monday to Wednesday) to complete the challenge :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good week-end (aka I'm finally reading!)

So how was everyone's week-end? Mine was nice, but too short - as always :(

My week-end started on Friday evening when I went to see The Blind Side with my sister. OMG, the movie theater was soooo crowded with New Moon's fans! Luckily, my sister bought the tickets earlier in the day and we made it with 10 minutes to spare to the movies... Unfortunately, that meant we didn't have time to get popcorn. Bummer.

The movie was good though :) I've been waiting for this one ever since I saw a trailer on E.T. during the summer. I love this kind of feel good movie :) I especially liked the fact that it was based on a true story and the pictures of the "real" persons at the end was a very nice touch :)

After the movie, I went to the bookstore to buy Under the Boss's Mistletoe by Jessica Hart and recommended by Wendy... but didn't find it. The sale clerk couldn't find it either, so I got a nice 15%off coupon... which I'll be using for a different book :)

Back in May, as a birthday gift, my friends gave me a hydrating facial treatment certificate... and I finally went on Saturday (it was expiring this month ^_^; ). I have to say, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the beauty stuff... but overall, I did enjoy the experience. It was very relaxing and the lady was very nice and competent.

But the best is that I'm finally reading. Yes!! I've read 5 books in the past week! Isn't that great? Now, if only my reviewing muse would come back to me, sigh.

So overall, a nice week-end... What about you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TBR Day: England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch

All right, I know, I'm kind of last minute, but I absolutely want to put this up... especially since the last TBR Day I managed to do was back in July (ugh)... and guess what, it was another Suzanne Enoch! LOL :)

Hmm, I haven't realized I've missed so many ^_^; But not this month!! Actually, this month, I had a few candidates up for review... of course, none fit the monthly theme, but shhhh. I'm just happy I'm reading books from my TBR pile :) At last, I chose the one that I enjoyed most to review today, England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch.

However, I'm a bit rusty... been awhile I actually wrote a review ^_^; So you'll have to forgive me if it's not coherent...

England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch
published by Avon in February 2004
Lucinda Barrett's best friends ended up married to the men to whom they delivered their 'lessons in love'. So Lucinda decides to choose someone who definitely needs lessons, but someone who will not complicate her life. And that person is definitely not Robert Carroway.

Robert is nothing if not complicated, and though he is the brother of a viscount, he rarely goes about society, and finds the weather and hat fashions ludicrous subjects for discussion. Robert is attracted to Lucinda's unpretentious ways, her serenity and her kindness. When she chooses someone for her love lessons, Robert offers to help her deliver her lessons, but sets out to convince the woman he has fallen for to take a chance on love ... and on him.
Genre: historical romance
Series: Lessons in Love, Book #3

The Story: Lucinda and her two best friends - Georgiana and Evelyn - wrote tips about how a gentlemen should act and then, decided that each would choose a man they know and give him the lesson. As Georgiana and Evelyn ended up marrying the men they chose for lesson, Lucinda hopes the same will happen to her and she sets her caps on Lord Geoffrey, known as the "Adonis," 4th son of a duke and with an army officer. She wishes to marry a man who will not complicate her life and who will understand her devotion to her father, a general.

Robert Carroway was wounded during the war against the French... however, nobody knows the real circumstances of his injuries and he'd rather keep it that way. Still haunted by the events, Robert has become estranged from the Ton. However, there is just something about Lucinda that draws him out... However, his re-admittance among the peers and friendship with Lucinda are jeopardized when rumors that he is a traitor surface and important papers disappear from the House of Guards.

My Opinion: Ugh, okay, my synopsis sucked ^_^; But like I said, it's been a while.

I bought and read this book because of Lori and her entry for the Re-Read challenge. It sounded good and it was, I enjoyed it :)

I love the Carroways, awesome family really. Love the bonds between the brothers, how they cared for each other... How nobody gave up on Bit (Robert), tried their best to care for him but not smother and did not give up on him. Of course, they were worried about him and they can't help but ask him it he's fine... but that's understandable... and Robert tries his best also. He understands why his brothers are so concerned. You know, sometimes, the hero has problem and become all sourly when people cares.

One of my favorite scenes is when Robert's leg hurt after an evening of dancing and cannot walk. His youngest brother Edward comes in and offers to help him, but he's too short. So Edward shouts out that Robert needs help and his leg is hurt and all the older brothers come rushing. :) Very sweet.

I also enjoyed the friendship between the ladies. I liked that Georgiana and Evelyn played a big part in this book. Sometimes, you only see past heroines and all they do is talk about their happiness and pregnancy... but not in this one. In this one, the girls were still there for Lucinda.

Speaking of Lucinda, I liked her character. She is very strong and independent. She did not let anyone dictates her action - not even her father... When Roberts is under suspicions of being a traitor, she does not avoid him. She goes against her father's wishes and still acts as a friend, even if the situation is difficult. I like her devotion to her father and I liked that she's smart. She's not a dupe and realized quickly that Lord Geoffrey is not only courting her only for her charms. She's also very practical and not very frilly, which is a nice change for a historical heroine :)

I liked Robert as well. I think someone should have snapped him out way before this and also, he should have talked about his imprisonment to his superiors earlier. Wouldn't that make sense? Anyway, it would have saved us from the "mystery." It was great to see him making efforts to get back to his old self or at least, to be functional again. It's a pity that in those times, people didn't understand PTSD. And I liked seeing his progression throughout the book. PTSD did not simply disappear... he still had panic attacks, but at least, he learned to deal with it.

Individually, I liked the H/H. Together... I would have liked a bit more romantic scenes. I did like their honesty between each other. That was quite refreshing. I saw the attraction between them grow, but at the end, love? I'm not too sure, it seems to go a bit too fast.

However, I have bigger issues than the romance. First, the mystery plot. It was a bit too obvious. I mean, there weren't that many characters introduced, so by process of elimination, it was quite obvious who the culprit was, right? I do think that romance authors try to hard to incorporate mysteries. Seriously, you don't always need to. Sometimes, it takes away from the whole book.

Finally, I thought that the ending was quite rushed. I think that Ms Enoch could have spared a few pages to wrap not only the book, but also the trilogy up. I don't need to see an epilogue with all three women nauseously happy, surrounded with children... but perhaps a wedding scene or something that had to do with the lessons. By the way, the lessons stopped being a plot device about half-way through the plot and it was completely forgotten. Kind of sad, since it's the theme of the trilogy. So yes, I thought the ending was a bit too rushed and a let-down.

My grade: B. Overall, the book was quite enjoyable. I like Ms Enoch's writing and she did a great job at characterization. There were a few funny scenes that made me laugh. Loved the relationships between the characters as well as the interactions between the H/H. But the book wasn't without weaknesses.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trip to the UBS (part III) and Chapters/Indigo Sale - aka new books

So Saturday was a real book day for me. Aside from going to the UBS, I also went to two regular bookstores (Chapters and Indigo), because they were having a Family and Friends Day with 25% off on every books in-store.

I went to Indigo in downtown first, really early on Saturday and told myself to browse and look at books. Simply to enjoy walking in the aisles. Lately, I've been rushing in and out of bookstores, so it's been robbing a bit of my enjoyment.

So, what did I get?

Lucky in Love and One Lucky Cowboy by Carolyn Brown. Saw a review at Leslie's for One Lucky Cowboy, read the blurb and they sounded cute. I don't like western much, but these are in contemporary settings, so I should be fine... Well I hope :)

I also picked up the newest Susan Donovan, Ain't Too Proud To Beg. I was happy I didn't have to search too much to get my hand on it. I've been checking the online indicator the whole week and been sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering if I'd find copies during the week-end. Susan Donovan is quite hit and miss for me and this one has the potential to go either way. I guess I'll find out soon, right?

Holding Out For a Hero by HelenKay Dimon was the next book to make its way into my cart. I've picked this one up because Rosie seems to enjoy it, but I have to admit, I went back and forth in front of the shelve. I've never tried this author, so I wasn't sure if I should get it... on the other hand though, 25%off on a trade-size book... Now was the time to get it. In the end, I read some passages in the book and the writing seems good, so I got it.

Next was Earth Guys are Easy by Karen Kelley. I've been eying this books all summer long, not knowing whether or not I should take a chance on them. I'm not too much into aliens story, but I've been looking for something funny. So I wasn't sure what to do... until I read Kristie's review. Yes, I'm easily swayed, LOL. Only need one good word from a friend and I cave. However, did you see my willpower at work here? I only got one of Ms Kelley's book and not all three!

Another book was Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry. I'm not sure about the blurb, but this is an author I'm determined to try before the year is out.

Another blogger recommendation was Hex in High Heels by Linda Wisdom, this time, courtesy of Hilcia with this review. I've been curious about Blair and Jake, so once again, I caved. Yes, I didn't enjoy her debut novel much, 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, but it seems that I do enjoy her books when the main character isn't Jazz. So we'll see.

Finally, I picked up Skin Game by Ava Gray. This one, I wouldn't have gotten if the book was 25% off. I've tried this author under her other pen name, Ann Aguirre, and didn't enjoy much. However, this is about psychics right and I love psychics. Also Rosie loved it, but Tabz felt meh. So I'm taking a chance here. We'll see how much I like it.

Last but not least, Dark Haven by Gail Martin. This first heard of this series from SciFi Guy. He seems to really enjoy this series and I thought, why not give it a try. I've been in a mood for fantasy myself. There are three books so far and none of them were in stock back in August/September. Not even available to order! But now, they are, so I've bought all three ^_^; Yeah, I know, I should try at least one out before... but what if they go out of stock again? Better not risk it right?

Also, I bought other copies of The Thief and Queen of Attolia... as keepsafe... 8.99$ - 25%, that's my reasoning.

And here is what I found at the UBS:

Angel Lane
by Sheila Roberts - I got lucky, because I almost bought it in-store... but didn't. So now, I saved a bundle :) I've enjoyed her books, but I don't think I love her enough to shell out trade-size price. Hmmm.

Somebody Wonderful by Kate Rothwell - Ames just read this book and loved it :)

The First Sin and The Second Betrayal by Cheyenne McCray - I've been curious about her series...

One Way Out by Michele Albert - If I remember correctly, Kristie really liked this one.

Hot Mail by Janice Maynard - recently reviewed by Leslie... and I got the hardcover version for 5$ I mean, it's a deal right?

One Week as Lovers by Victoria Dahl - I've been meaning to try one of her historicals and apparently, this one is very good.

Her Secret Fantasy, Lady of Desire and One Night of Sin by Gaelen Foley - I've read The Duke earlier this month and I liked it. These are all parts of the series if I'm not wrong.

Wishes in the Wind by Andrea Kane - She's a good author. I read all of her romantic suspense stuff, but have yet to try her historicals.

Wish Upon a Cowboy and This Time For Keeps by Kathleen Kane - I totally blame Cindy for these two! LOL, ever since I came back from my trip to Kristie and Cindy's, I've been buying all the Kathleen Kane I can find because Cindy loves her. I'm now starting to have a nice collection, but I've yet to try one ^_^;

The Sparkling One by Susan Mallery - A few years ago, I would have been estatic to get this one. I enjoyed The Seductive One and The Sassy One, but couldn't get my hand on the first book! Now though? The only reason I got it was because I need one more book so it was Buy 3, get the 4th free. Sad no?

The Prenup by Beth Kendrick - Another chit-lit author that I enjoy, but not sure I'm ready to buy in trade-size. This one Ames read and enjoyed it, so another good deal :)

Prelude to Heaven by Laure Lee Guhrke - Earlier work by Laura Lee Guhrke. Need I say more?

The Rake and A Matter of Scandal by Suzanne Enoch - Recently read England's Perfect Hero by this author and this book are kind of related, so I wanted to read them.

Secrets of a Duchess by Kathleen O'Reilley - Taja seemed to enjoy this author :)

After my trip to the UBS, I thought I should be more selective in my books buying habits. I mean, try not to buy authors I know I don't enjoy and that I don't enjoy anymore (that's a hard one for me to do ^_^;). Avoid plot lines I know I don't like. Also, do not use all the coupons and promotions available when I don't have books to buy! However, it's hard because most of the books I buy now, I know at least someone who has enjoyed them... and it's always like: This one might be the one that will make me enjoy this particular device or plotline.

I still buy a lot of books, but not much on impulse anymore. Each month, I follow the list I have and I'll add books that I've heard on blogland... So where do I cut?

Review: Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

I can't seem to write any review on my own lately, but luckily, I have a few buddy reviews in progress :)

So you can find today's buddy review is Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas at Breezing Through and more specifically, here. Joining me are Ames and Isabel :)

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas
published by St.Martin’s Press in September 2009

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal-only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust. Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy-except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm''s length...but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...

For those who are curious about what books I got during the week-end, that post is coming soon! :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Any Montreal romance readers? aka Trip to the UBS part II

Hmmm, so I'm back home after quite a long day. Like I said in my other post, I went to the UBS... but I also stopped at three other bookstores - another UBS (same franchise) and two regular bookstores (Chapters and Indigo - they had their 25%off sale).

Of course, that means I got some new treasures... which I'll share tomorrow or during the week.

Right now, I want to discuss UBS and books... So Kristie had this post about Keeper Books vs Keeping Books. Not long ago, Wendy had a post about your buying books habits... well now, I have questions about your purging books habits :)

How often do you purge your books? Once a year? Once in a while? Once every season?

What do you do with them? UBS? Paperswap? Charity?

If you bring them to the UBS, how much to you get for them?

I'm being curious and noisy, but I can't help it. See, I purge my books... at least once a year, usually when I re-shelve them. However, I don't really know what to do with them. I've been contemplating the options (limited) and none were too appealing. I considered charity (the McGill bookfair)... but then, yesterday, I thought if I could get some money out of them, I should right? So I brought my books to the UBS today.

The good news? I brought 144 books and they only rejected 2. I was a bit worried they wouldn't take any because I had a lot... and then, the lady told me they were very picky. Turns out they were picky about conditions... and a lot of them were pristine, I mean, like new - actually, many haven't been read. So I'm 142 books lighter! Not bad right?

The bad news? Euh, I got 50$ for 142 books... and there were a couple of hardcovers in that mix. So yeah, if you do quick calculations, I got 0.35$/book. Seriously?!? That's simply ridiculous and seriously, not worth it. I know, money is not everything and hey, I wasn't expecting much... but I bought 15 books at the UBS and I ended up owning them 20$. So let see, I sold 142 books for 50$ --> 0.35$/book and bought 15 books for 70$ --> 4.66$/book. I think someone's getting cheated/screwed/taken advantage of. Or someone else is making some profit. Or is it me?

When I went to the UBS in London, Ontario... Kristie told me they bought books at 25% cover price and sold books at 50% cover price. That actually makes a lot of sense to me. Ah well.

So yeah, I just don't it's really worth it ^_^; So I'm thinking of finding another option for the next purge... Any suggestion? I was thinking the best would be finding someone in Montreal and just outright exchanging books... and I didn't really consider the Internation Paperswap (can't remember how it's called), but now, it looks really attractive.

So that's it for now...

Trip to the UBS

LOL, no, I'm not bragging about my new books... instead, I'm bringing in some to the UBS today. We'll see how many they'll take and how much I'll get.

I'm about to leave now, but just few minutes ago... I brought some of the bags and box of books I'm planning to sell. My mom glanced at box and looked and she was like: "Oh, it's so pretty. (the colors) These books are still in good conditions. Are you sure you want to sell it? Why don't you put it in the basement?"

Seriously?!? My parents keep complaining that I have too many books... and this is a purge I did a couple months ago and it's been sitting there in my room... I finally screwed up the courage and guts to bring them to the UBS and my mom tries to convince me not to?!?!


By the way, Kristie has an interesting post about Keeper Books vs. Keeping Books. That's what kicked me into gear. Thanks Kristie :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review: Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

Yes, finally, a review!! :)

But it's not here, it's over at Breezing Through :) Monroe, Ames, Chantal and I all get together to review Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts! You can click here for the review :)

Hope you all enjoy it!

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
published by Berkley in October 2009

As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion-kiss for blistering kiss-they must trust in their history...and in their hearts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New corner shelf

Still no review, but some exciting news :D

First, guess what? Yes, I registered for the RT convention yesterday morning!! It's official ladies, I'm going!! Wooohoooo :D I'm definitively looking forward to it. It's exciting and scary all at once, LOL.

Also went to the bookstore yesterday and bought a few books. Didn't go crazy, so that's good news... but the real good news is for Canadian bloggers: it's customer day at Chapters/Indigo/Coles this week-end (November 14 and 15)!! :) Okay, so they have renamed it Family & Friends Day, but who cares what it's called :) What matter is that you get 25% off on books and products in-store if you're an irewards member (15% off if you're not). You have to show the coupon, but I'm sure they'll just give it to you in-store on those days anyway. That's good news, right? So I'll probably stop by the bookstores again this week-end :)

Finally... I think I did mention a while ago that I won a corner bookshelf over at Anna's Book Blog, courtesy of CSN office furniture. Well, I've finally received it yesterday!! Yay!

So this is how the bookshelf was supposed to look:

However, what I didn't realize is that it would need to be screwed onto the wall for it to stand ^_^; Yes, I know, I know - DUH! LOL. How did I think it'd stand on it's own? To tell the truth though, I didn't really want to screw it onto the wall, especially since the corner it's going to sit in is one wall and a bookshelf. So I thought it'd modify the design a little... and now, it looks like this:

It looks a little more like a nightstand or a coffee table, but hey, it'll still serve it's purpose! :) And yes, my room is pretty dusty and disgusting ^_^; I didn't realize we'd see all the dust in the pic ^_^;

I put some books in it to see how it'll look:

I think it's quite pretty. So far, I put most of my trade-size books in it. I'm not sure though if it'll stay that way. I think I'm going to have some fun with my books this week-end ;)

So what do you think? Not bad, right? :P

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Monthly Reads - October 2009

*Sobs* T_T

October was a very pitiful month for me... 12 "books" read *gasp* How sad is that? I know, for some it's a lot, but for me, it's kind of low... Especially considering that 2 were novellas and not full-length T_T I could say it's my trip to L.A. that put a cramp in my reading... but it's the third month in a row I don't make it to 15 or over.

So let see what I actually read:

1) On the Edge by Ilona Andrews: B

I guess I was just expecting to be wow-ed... and I wasn't really. Oh, it is a good and enjoyable read, quite solid. However, it took me almost a week to read it. Never got entranced... Perhaps if I've read it in one sitting, the grade would have been higher. I think that Ilona Andrews's strength in her novels is really the characters. Enjoyed Rose, Declan, Jack and Georges and William. The world building though, I have more difficulty. It's weaved better than the Kate Daniels books in my opinion, Ilona Andrews definitively took greater care of it. But I still have difficulty with it. Loved the twist with Declan's identity at the end LOL :) For now, I'm looking forward to William's book... although I have to admit, Kate Daniels' more :P

2) Sliding Home by Kate Angell: B

This was a book that I was looking forward to. Took a while to get my hand on it, but I finally did :D It was a light, fluffy and enjoyable read :) I enjoyed it quite a bit and it seems Ms Angell finally took my comment to heart - she focused a lot on the main H/H in this book :) So that was great. Fun, but not ground-breaking.

3) Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr: B

This was a novella in That Holiday Feeling. It was a cute novella. Grade would probably have been higher if the book has been a full-length, although I guess the plot wouldn't have worked as well. Anyway, I really liked Annie and Nathaniel and how their relationship develop :) It was also good that the story didn't take place right in the middle of Virgin River. It allowed some characters to appear, without over-shadowing the whole story. Looking forward to the next trilogy! :D

4) Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran: C+

Lots of buzz for this book on blogland and in a way, I do get why. The writing/prose is indeed very good. Ms Duran definitively has a way with words. I'd like to say flowery, but it's not... However, the main problem I had with this book was I had difficulty connecting with the H/H... Especially Lydia. I hated how her character was holier than thou. She was also very quick to jump to assumptions, making judgments on other characters. I mean, it's okay when your gut is usually right, but not in her case. At one point, I think she tells Sanburne that he doesn't know her, that's he assuming stuff... but she's doing the same!! So yeah, didn't like her much... the storyline was okay. Some people really like the exotic stuff in historicals, but I'm meh about them. Finally, the last thing that bother me was the mention of Toronto and Canada LOL :) The date isn't indicated in the novel, but given the fact that Lydia was a scholar and kind of had a job, it was probably in the late 1800's which means that Canada would have existed... so I guess it's okay... and I bet the names Canada and Toronto were used even before the country was founded. However, it's soooo rare to read those two words in a historical romance... it kept bothering me ^_^;

5) The Spellmans Files by Lisa Lutz: B-

Buddy review to come at Breezing Through

6) Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs: C-

I'd almost like to say this is my last Susan Wiggs in this series, but I know myself... I'm most likely going to cave at the next release, especially if it's Daisy's book. Or perhaps I could just skim to know who she chose. Anyway, the series definitively has lost a lot of momentum. It used to focus on the Bellamy family and not anymore. We're introduced to new characters, and they feel meh. I even think there's a new police chief in Lakeshore Christmas, so my question: what happened to Rourke McKnight, the hero in The Winter Lodge?

Okay, back to Lakeshore Christmas. I think the main problem was there was too much going on. Also, I know it's a holiday book, but the ending? Totally didn't buy it. How can you save a library's future with donations? I mean, a full year of budget? I don't think that's possible, unless they get very little books ^_^; As for the characters, Ethan and Maureen, they were actually quite well developed, but just not interesting ^_^;

It wasn't a bad book, but it just lost its charm.

7) Untouchable by Kresley Cole: B

I've been looking forward to Murdoch's story and was a bit disappointed to find out that it was a novella. Luckily though, Untouchable is almost 300 pages, so it was actually long enough to be satisfying :)

The first half of the story was great in my opinion. Loved Murdoch and Danii together. They literally lit up the pages LOL. Also, Ms Kenyon, this is how you incorporate previous scenes into a storyline :) I didn't feel bored re-reading some of the scenes and I think that the whole storyline actually flowed really well, connecting all the storylines together. I thought it was interesting to see Murdoch deal with the fact that he couldn't touch Danii. I think he had every right to be pissed off. I mean, you wait hundred of years to meet your mate and you can't touch her?!?!

Unfortunately, it went downhill with the second half. It just wasn't as intense as the first half. Everything was resolved way too easily... and Danii abdicating? It was quite anti-climatic. That's basically why Untouchable doesn't get a higher grade. Great beginning, just too bad Ms Cole couldn't keep it up.

8) Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery: B+

9) Naked in Death by J.D. Robb: B+/A-

10) Reunion in Death by J.D. Robb: A-

11) Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb: B

12) Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts: B/B+

Buddy review to come at Breezing Through

Okay, I'd like to say that these books were graded with my current reading mood... so it is possible I've been a bit tougher than I usually am. See, lately, I start reading a book and it takes so bloody long. Most of the time, I really enjoy the first half, but the second half feels meh. So it is highly possible it's me and not the book. Of course, usually the second half is where conflict arises and is resolved... so it could be the book... or a combination of me and the book ^_^;

Ah well, I only hope that this month, I'll be reading more! :D

Workplace and more misc

Yay!! I'm finally blogging!! Woohoo!!!

My sister has hijacked my computer over the week-end. So I didn't have access to it the whole week-end plus Monday and Tuesday nights. Then, at work, it's been really busy ^_^; Like I said earlier, I usually use my spare time at the lab to blog and blog-hop... but haven't had time :( As a result, I'm behind on my blogging and it really sucks. I've tried my best to catch up on blogging and commenting, but I still feel I'm behind. Hopefully, by the end of this week, I'll be all caught up :D

So wassup with me?

I've been really annoyed in the past few days... A little at my sister because her spending so much time in my room, she's kind of invaded my bubble. Then, I still haven't gotten my hands on Kindred in Death. UGH!! However, tomorrow for sure. I've been kind in a slump lately. Don't know what to read, anything I pick up, I read a few pages and meh. I'm hoping Kindred in Death will restore my reading mojo.

In grand news, it's 99.999% sure that I'm going to go to RT convention in Columbus next spring!! Yay me!! I was planning to go to the RWA, but Jill and Kristie convinced me otherwise :D I say 99.999% because LOL, I still haven't registered... and till you haven't registered, it's not 100% sure. But I'll do it soon. Probably this week-end :D Already, I can't wait! and I'm trying to convince Ames to join us! :) Then, it'll be party time! :)

By the way, for those who wonder, the McGill bookfair this year was so-so. I bought only 10 books for 23$. Not bad considering 3 were hardcovers, 3 were trade-sizes and 4, paperbacks. The selection was kind of meh... Nothing that made me jump and squee. There was another booksale at a church yesterday. Went, but didn't find anything interesting.

And my confession du jour: I'm now addicted to Starbuck Green Tea Frappucino. All because it kind of taste like green tea ice cream. However, gotta stop the addiction to save money LOL :P

To finish this post, I thought I'd post some pictures of my lab. Ames has been asking for them and I finally did it this morning :) So you guys get to see where I work! :D It's kind of small, but quite clean compared to others - mostly because we're a new lab. It's okay when we're 2, but I have to admit, lately, it's been feeling quite crowded :( Ah well, it'll only be for a short while...

So let see, first picture is the view of the lab from the door. In the second picture, you see my lab bench where I do my experiments... third picture is my computer where I hanged out when I don't do experiments.

In the 4th picture, you see the machines that are behind my lab bench. In pictures 5 and 6, you see both ends of the lab - more instruments... and the dreaded sink. I say dreaded because I don't like washing the dishes... so you can imagine what I think of lab glasswares ^_^; I usually let it pile up and do it only when I don't have a choice.

Oh and the last picture, that's the end of my bench... You can see pipets, tubes, the labshaker for microcentrifuge tubes... and the gel apparatus.

So yeah, that's pretty much it, my lab :D

And I think that's all I have to say for now... Unto my monthly reads list now! :D

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Re-Read Challenge: October Winner :)

All right, so this month, only 5 persons completed the Re-Read challenge :)

I think that all 5 entries were very interesting and varied. We have romantic suspense, historical, paranormal romance and contemporary romance... so a bit of everything, right :D The most noticeable this month is me and Kristie, re-reading the same books of the In Death series by J.D. Robb. I mean, out of 30something books, the odds that we picked up the same books LOL :) Of course, if it was 3/3 or 4/4, it'd have even been weirder, right? :) For now though, let's just say coincidence :)

Aside from me, the 4 bloggers who completed the challenge this month are also winners for the previous months: Isabel for April, Kristie for May, Tracy for June and most recently, Ames for August. So let see out of these four ladies whose luck is good :D

And the winner this month is....


Congrats Isabel! :D LOL, you know what to do right? :)

ps - for those who I own an email, I'll get to you very soon! My sister has been hi-jacking my computer at home for her lab report and I've been a bit too busy at work :( But I'll get back to you! Haven't forgotten!

As for monthly reads list, it is coming soon :D

Monday, November 02, 2009

Re-Read Challenge: October!!

***Sticky post! Scroll down for new posts!***

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wow, can you believe it, we're done with October already? The year is almost over!! and it went by in a blur!

Blogland has been quiet lately (Yes, I seem to be saying that every time, but this time, it's particularly true). Let see what's the turn out going to be LOL :) You have till Monday, November 2nd to post your review. Do not forget to put a link in the comment section and you'll be eligible to the 10$ gift certificate draw :D

So what have you re-read this month?

Isabel: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Tracy: The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Kris: Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Kristie: Naked in Death, Portrait in Death, Survivor in Death and Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb
Nath: Naked in Death, Reunion in Death and Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb
Ames: Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
Leslie: The Promise of Jenny Jones by Maggie Osborne

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Re-Read: Naked, Reunion and Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb

Here is my re-read challenge entry :D

When I saw Kristie's comment on the Re-Read Challenge post, I was all surprised and wondered which 4 books she read! I mean, 4 re-reads and she reviewed them all! Then, I followed the link and found out which books she re-read... and all I could do was grinned because we basically did the same thing this month! :D Granted, I read 3 instead of 4 In Death books, but really... Also, what are the odds that out of 30-somethings books, we would read the same ones?!? :D

So here we go:

Naked in Death
published by Berkley in July 1995

Writing as J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts has won new fans with her futuristic series of romantic crime novels. New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas gets involved with Roarke, a suspect in her latest murder case. But passion and seduction have rules all their own...

Genre: Romantic Suspense/futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #1

The Story: In Naked in Death, readers are introduced to Eve Dallas, a female lieutenant in the NYPD. She's dedicated to her job, serving and protecting as well as elucidating homicides and her work is her life. After 10 years on the force, she knows that you cannot save them all - that all you can do is your best... but sometimes, your best is not enough and you can't help but feel the loss and grief.

After a brutal case that ends up with termination, Eve is supposed to go through Testing. Instead, she catches a high profile case - the murder of a senator's granddaughter who also happened to be a licensed companion. However, what's worrisome is the note that comes with the body: One of Six.

During the course of her investigation, one name that keeps turning up is Roarke, the mysterious magnate. Even though she still hasn't cleared him from her suspect list and despite knowing better, Eve can't fight the compelling attraction and ends up getting involved with him...

My Opinion: Like Kristie said, this is the book that started it all. Unless you're new to the community, you must have heard about the In Death series. It's impossible not to. The only question is have you caved and tried it or not?

I've read all of the books and I have to admit that coming back to the beginning is... wow. LOL :) You can see how far the series has gone. Some things have not changed, but Eve's entourage has for sure. It is bizarre to see only a few characters... As fans of the series, you're so used to seeing Peabody, McNab and a slew of secondary characters... but in Naked in Death, it's all kept to a minimum. I have to wonder though if Ms Roberts always intended Charles Monroe to become a recurring character... or he was supposed to be a one-time shot. I mean, kind of weird that Charles would be introduced before Peabody no? :D

Naked in Death is a great book and a great start to the series. I think Ms Roberts did a great job balancing everything: the characters, the world building, the case and the action. You can help but fall under Roarke's charm :) To see such a powerful figure be smitten and besotted, LOL, it's cute :D Also, you can't help but feel respect for Eve. She's the woman you want on your side, in your clan. To her, all that matters is you. Not your past, not the authority, nothing. She'll fight for you even though you've been in the wrong. Definitively someone that deserves respect and admiration and in a way, it's evident why Roarke fell for her.

The case was very interesting and quite provoking I think. It was also perfect to introduce this new world in my opinion and was cleverly used to impart world-building information to the readers. As a result, the world building was done seamlessly... Very clever by Ms Roberts and proof of good writing.

If I have a complaint, it'd be that I did think that the case wrapped up very quickly at the end. There was a catalyst event and then, it snow-balled and everything happened very fast. Although I don't think it took away from the impact of the book.

I don't exactly remember how I felt the first time I read it, but hey, I did go on and read the other books right? So must have been a good feeling :D

My Grade: I'd say B+/A-. It's hard to be objective, knowing what comes next. I think this was a very solid book, a great first book to open the series. Was it my favorite? No. But do I think it's special? Yes, because it'll always be the first book :D

Reunion in Death
published by Berkley in March 2002

At exactly 7:30 P.M., Walter Pettibone arrived home to find more than a hundred friends and family shouting, "Surprise!" It was his birthday. Although he had known about the planned event for weeks, the real surprise was yet to come. At 8:45 P.M., a woman with emerald eyes and red hair handed him a glass of champagne. One sip of birthday bubbly, and he was dead.

The woman's name is Julie Dockport. No one at the party knew who she was. But Detective Eve Dallas remembers her all too well. Eve was personally responsible for Julie's incarceration nearly ten years ago. And now, let out on good behavior, she still has nothing but bad intentions. It appears she wants to meet Dallas again - in a reunion neither will forget...
Genre: Romantic suspense/futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #16 (counting novellas in anthologies)

The Story: In Reunion in Death, Eve is pitted against an old enemy, Julianna Dunn - a woman Eve helped arrest almost 10 years ago. Julianna was released on good behavior and has revived her old M.O. - killing rich, middle-aged man with a drink peppered with cyanide. However, she's no longer after the money... This time, it's a game of wit against Eve Dallas, the female cop who put her behind bars... and the ultimate prize is to take away the life of Eve's husband.

My Opinion: Quite frankly, Reunion in Death will forever hold a special place for me, because it was the first In Death book I've read in English! Ah the joy!! See, I originally discovered the In Death books in French... and in French, they don't bother putting Ms Roberts' pseudonym, J.D. Robb, on the cover. So I kept looking for Ms Roberts In Death books in the romance section under Nora Roberts and just couldn't find them!! No, I never thought of looking in the mystery section - hey, I was still a newbie at the time! Then, one day, I was in a convenience store and stumbled across Reunion in Death. Read the synopsis, thought it sounded a bit familiar and finally realized what it was! Hallelujah! LOL :)

Reunion in Death is definitively an interesting read. I think it showcases very well why Ms Roberts is such a popular author. It's not just the story and the writing, but mainly, it's all about her characters and their dynamics. It's just fun to see Eve's interaction with her entourage. The way she reacts every times Peabody alludes to her sex life with McNab, LOL :) Or how she's uncomfortable meeting Peabody's parents. Eve's entourage is larger now, but it doesn't mean she's become a people's person. She still the socially inept cop we met at the beginning. Of course, some of her priorities have shifted and her life has changed, but at the core, I'd say Eve Dallas is still the same woman, the same cop than at the beginning. The woman might have matured and grown, but her values and personality haven't.

Seeing Eve and Roarke celebrate their one-year marriage anniversary was sweet. It's also rewarding, because we see Eve and Roarke working so hard at marriage. It's no like most romance where we see the H/H fall in love, get their HEA. No, in the In Death series, we get to witness Eve and Roarke WIP marriage :D One of the best moment is when Roarke gives her two gift and she's all like: "Two gifts? Shit, I only have one! Nobody told me it's two gifts!" LOL.

The case itself is interesting. It didn't take long for Eve to realize who the murderer was... but figuring out the motives and catching up to her did... and I think that's one of the most interesting part in the In Death series. The work these people do seems very real. Legwork, interviewing witnesses, knocking on neighbors' doors. It seems to me all this normal work is often forgone in regular romantic suspense... because we don't have time for it. Authors are too busy developing their characters and relationships to focus on it. Also seeing Eve's mind figure things out is really a beautiful process :P

I'd say this one is worth a re-read. It's a great bland of everything that makes this series a success: an interesting case, good humor and good relationship.

My Grade: A-.

Portrait in Death
published by Berkley in March 2003

After a tip from a reporter, Eve Dallas finds the body of a young woman in a Dumpster on Delancey Street. Just hours before, the news station had mysteriously received a portfolio of professional portraits of the woman. The photos seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary for any pretty young woman starting a modeling career. Except she asn,t a model. And the photos were taken after she had been murdered.

Now Eve i on the trail of a killer who's a perfectionist and an artist. He carefully observes and records his victim's every move. And he has a mission: to own every beautiful young woman's innocence, to capture their youth and vitality - in one fateful shot...
Genre: Romantic Suspense/futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #18 (including novellas in anthologies)

The Story: The blurb is a bit misleading in my opinion. It's not women only, but men as well. Those who seem to shine, have a vitality around them.

So this time, Eve is pitted against a killer that murders students to take picture of them, to capture their light eternally. While Eve is chasing the murderer, Roarke makes a discovery about his past that rocks his world... and for the first time in their marriage, pushes Eve away.

My Opinion: Many readers like this one because of what happens to Roarke... for the first time, we get a shaken Roarke - not just from his discovery but also Summerset's accident. Me, I completely forgot that Roarke's discovery about his mother happened in this book ^_^; LOL. The reason why I picked Portrait in Death was because of the ending and Trueheart. I heart Trueheart!! He's sooo cute and I do wish we'll get more of him in the future book! LOL :)

In Reunion in Death, I talked about the dynamics and characters' interactions... While that is a strength of the series, another factor that contributes in making this series so strong is the cases... Or actually, the different types of cases Eve gets. Ms Roberts really play with them - sometimes we know who the villain is from the start, sometimes, it's a serial killer other time, it's one murder... I think that this line really says it all when it comes to this book's case:
Sometimes, you do the job, you close the case, but the door just doesn't shut for you. I guess this is going to be one of those. Roarke was right. He's just pathetic. It's easier when they're vicious or greedy or just downright evil. Pathetic leaves the door open a crack.
Different shades of grey. The villain is so often evil in romantic suspense novels. However, in life...

So yes, I enjoyed this one because Ms Roberts mixed it up when it came to the case. It was also a heart-breaking case, all that youth gone to waste. The ending was very exciting. However, the resolution of the case was a bit fast, in my opinion. Not as tidy as it could be... Also, the case was overshadowed by the personal conflict of the characters in this one.

I loved Eve taking care of Roarke, slipping him something. Eve and Summerset actually ganging up to take care of their beloved :D Also, I think that we got a more personal glimpse of Summerset and Roarke's relationship and that is so rare.

My Grade: B. Good and solid, but not my favorite.

It's hard for me to remember my feelings the first time I've read these books. Especially if I haven't reviewed them. Mainly, because it's been so long ago, they are so many and they kind of blur into another. Mostly though, I enjoyed them all... Each time, Ms Roberts delivers a very solid installment with solid writing, great characters and interesting cases. Some books are more interesting than others, true... but overall, they're all quite enjoyable.

For those who hesitate to try the series because of the huge backlist, I'd say give it a try, seriously. They're very easy to read and very compelling. I mean, I planned on re-reading one and ended up reading 3 in 2 days... I'm sure it was the same for Kristie. Once you start reading them, they're hard to put down :D