Sunday, March 28, 2010

This and that...

Ugh, my sister left her cell phone in my room and of course, she had to have a call at 7am ^_^; That's way too early for me today. Though instead of going back to sleep right away, I turned on my computer to check my email, blog-hop and now blog. What does it say about me?

I was going to right this post yesterday and complain that work has robbed me from my reading mojo... However, not sure I can still say that since I finished 2 books yesterday. The first one was Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald and I ended up skimming through the 2nd half. I should have just put it down as DNF, but since I haven't read a single book this week, I pushed through... then, the second was Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs and I stayed up till 2.30am to finish it. Good thing today is Sunday :P So I guess my reading mojo is not completely gone... but we'll see how today goes :)

And wow, March is almost over... by the way, the deadline for the March Re-Read Challenge will be this week - just thought I'd remind everyone. Okay, back to March is almost over. Can't believe how fast it went by! This time next month, I'll be at RT 2010 in Columbus!! Woohoo!! Can't wait, especially after this hellish week at work! Mollie who used to own Biblioharlot's Bookshelf and Teen Troves blog is back with a new blog - Book Fare Delights :) I remembered she lived in Columbus and contacted her to get some recommendations and so, she's come up with two nice nice restaurant and bookstores rec posts :D Yeah, the bookstores rec post - that's for me ^_^; I know, I know... I'm going to RT 2010, am assured to get a ton of books there, and I still need bookstores rec. What can I say, I'm sick LOL :P No, seriously, the reason I asked for bookstores recommendations is that since I'm going to the RT convention, I'm holding off buying several books such as Changes by Jim Butcher, Tales of the Otherworld and The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong, etc. I figure if these books are not available at the convention, I should still try getting them in the States, because 1) it'll be cheaper - US price < CDN price and CDN$ ~ US$ at the moment and 2) I keep getting those great coupons for Borders and Barnes & Nobles, so the book will be even cheaper! The hardcovers and trade-size books are the ones I'll be aiming for (hello, Savour the Moment by Nora Roberts anyone?)... since I'll already have lots of books, what difference does a couple more make? Okay, granted, I must not go crazy at the UBS...

Another reason that I'm determined to get Tales of the Otherworld in the States is because of the cover.

US cover on left and CDN on right

I usually like the Canadian covers  better for this series; however, they've recently re-"covered" all of the Women of the Otherworld series... Ms Armstrong calls them her Twilight covers, which have black backgrounds with mostly white and black pictures of body parts and Twilight font lettering. Some of them are made more striking with the addition of some colors. I thought some of them were very pretty (No Humans Involved, Bitten, Stolen... see them here), but others are just plain weird. The Canadian version of Tales of the Otherworld is actually not that bad, but the US cover is much prettier IMHO. So that's the one I want and that means buying it at the bookstores in Columbus if I can't find it at RT convention... However, I don't know what I'll do this summer when Waking the Witch is released...

US cover on left and CDN on right

I mean, seriously, the Canadian version is freaky and I can't decide if it's because of the dirt on her skin or the eyes. Probably both. Ah well, at least, I have an option, right? :P

Okay, going back to bed...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joining my book collection...

So wassup with everyone?

Work has been extremely busy this week - so busy that I haven't had time to read!! I had to work until 10.30pm on Monday, 8.00pm on Tuesday. Got to go home a bit earlier yesterday, but then I was so tired I just fell asleep. Bad news is that we're extremely busy at the lab and I'm now working with cells, so time is no longer in my control. Not only will tomorrow be incredibly busy as well, but I have to come in on Saturday :( Then, yesterday, I realized that next week is only 4 days long, since it's the Easter week-end. Now, I've already decided what to do during that week-end: reshelve my books, so there's no way I want to work during that time. I need to repeat a MTT assay which takes 5 days to do, so that has to be started this week-end if I want to be done by next Thursday... I don't mind too much since I'm already coming this Saturday, so at least, I can get it start... also, it's not that much work, because it's long incubation periods... However, coming back from the Easter week-end, I have to give a presentation - so I need to prepare it. That means I need at least another set of data, so more PCR experiment to do... which I did today, but the data gathered was insignificant... so I probably need to produce another one. And seriously, it's the worst timing you can imagine, because starting from tomorrow, there is someone coming from outside of town to use the PCR machine - the one I need. Ugh, just shoot me dead now!

To carry me through this week, I've been feeding on Starbuck's green tea frapuccino. The stuff is seriously addicting. I think I'd have three this week already and planning to get one tomorrow morning - hey, I'm going to have to start at 7am... I think I deserve it :P

Anyway, all this is very depressing... but there's nothing as effective as books to cheer me up LOL and I really got lucky today :D

First, I went to the bookstore to pick up Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs. It's been waiting for me for a few days already, but yeah, work got in the way. I've been saving my 25% off coupon to buy Silver Borne, since it's a hardcover... and in addition, I get my 10% as an Irewards member, so it's as if I bought it online ;) There's also been a buy 3, get the 4th free promotion going on. That one was a bit more tricky to take advantage of. I had In Serena's Web by Kay Hooper (reprint) and Lois Lane Tells All by Karen Hawkins already waiting for me... but I was missing 2 books. My main problem this month and next month is being patient and not buying books I might get at RT. So that took away the new Victoria Alexander - Desires of a Perfect Lady. I was hoping the bookstore would get Embers by Laura Bickle, but they didn't order it (it's a small bookstore). Then, perhaps In the Darkest Night by Patti O'Shea, but I discovered recently that Tor is part of St.Martin's Press and their books always come late, if they do come. Good news is since I put a reservation on it at the bookstore, they will have ordered at least a copy :D Bad news, it didn't make it in yet and I doubt it'll be in in time for me to take advantage of the promotion ending March 28. No sign of Changeless by Gail Carriger either. So I ended up buying Out of Mind by Stella Cameron and Reese's Bride by Kat Martin - those two being books I'd be most likely to read.

LOL, guess how much mulah I saved on this purchase? More than 20$ muahaha! James was quite impressed :D

Then, I came home and there were some packages for me! Woohoo! I put an order at Book Depository last week and got the book within the week, which is pretty good :D Actually, I was supposed to get them yesterday, but the mailman gave us the wrong key - in my neighborhood, mailmen don't go house to house anymore. Instead, there are these big boxes subdivided into smaller compartments and each belong to a house and there are bigger compartments for packages and if you get one, then the mailman will leave the key to that compartment in your own. I like this system very much, it's a lot more private in my opinion. People really can't go through your mail (I don't know why they would, but there's some wacky people out there) and it's safer when you get packages :D However, the mailman left the wrong key yesterday, booo. So I knew I'd get something in the mail...

Finally, I'm the proud owner of A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. This book has been getting great reviews from everyone :D Unfortunately, it's a very, very thin hardcover and while I spend a lot of money on books, I was unwilling to shell out 20$ for it ^_^; I finally checked over at Book Depository and they had it for about 10$... let's say I didn't hesitate very long :D Since I was getting one book, why not two? And so I bought Don't Kill the Messenger by Eileen Rendahl for about 10$ as well - it's a tradesize :P So I made some very good deals and I'm really happy about it :D

However, guess what? Yep, not over!! The cherry on top of the sundae was Hilcia's package containing...

I read Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger earlier this year and absolutely fell in love. It was such a great book; however, it was a library copy... so I needed to get my own. At that time, Almost Like Being in Love was not available through, Book Depository or Chapters/Indigo online... but it was available on Hils offered to get it for me, as well as Changing Pitches... and it just had to arrive today :D

Seriously, this is what I needed to save my week :D Great deals, but most importantly, great books :D It was also fun, because I've been relatively good this month and haven't bought that many books :P Now, I just don't know what I should read!! What do you think?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole

I can't believe it's already Wednesday!! Sigh, work has really been kicking my butt. I had an extremely crappy day on Monday and I've been working long hours... Probably won't be out of work tonight before 8pm either :( Ugh. I hope it gets better starting from tomorrow, because seriously... Work can really suck, I mean beyond words at time :( Also, the weather has really be crap. I mean, I know we were going to pay for the past 2 weeks wonderful weather... but snow, freezing rain and hail? We didn't get much of everything, but enough that it's not very comfortable to be outside...

I've been working on this review for the past few days, but work keeps getting in a way. So hopefully, I can post it up today! :D

Cindy, this is for you :P

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole
published by Simon & Schuster in February 2010

A dangerous beauty...

Lucia the Huntress: as mysterious as she is exquisite, she harbors secrets that threaten to destroy her — and those she loves.

An uncontrollable need...

Garreth MacRieve, Prince of the Lykae: the brutal Highland warrior who burns to finally claim this maddeningly sensual creature as his own.

Thad lead to a pleasure so wicked...

From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian. To do this, Garreth will ruthlessly exploit Lucia's greatest weakness — her wanton desire for him.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Immortals After Dark, Book #12 (counting novellas)

The Story: Long, long ago, Lucia made the mistake to trust the wrong man and she is still paying the price for it. To survive, Lucia become the follower of Skathi - a goddess that has reluctantly gifted Lucia with great hunting skills, but on the condition that Lucia remains chaste. In addition, every time Lucia would miss her target, she would suffer unmeasurable pain... However, Lucia is in no position to complain as she needs those hunting skills during each Accession  to confront and jail the man that has deceived her. Thus, when Lucia meets Garreth and realizes she is his mate, she panics and flees. Unfortunately, she did not factor Garreth's tenacity. Having finally met his mate, Garreth is not about to let her escape. After a year of chasing Lucia, Garreth finally catches up to her... to find out they're both heading in the Amazonian jungle so Lucia can find an artifact and hopefully changes her life around.

My Opinion: Readers have been introduced to Garreth and Lucia since the very first book of the series, A Hunger Like No Other, and finally, Pleasures of a Dark Prince is their book :D Yay!! Cindy reviewed it when it first came out and it was a keeper for her, so I had high hopes. Unfortunately for me though, I didn't end up liking it as much as Cindy.

What I liked about this book was Garreth. It was fun to discover him, because although we've all been waiting for his book, we've only got a glimpse of him in the past. Really not enough to know his personality, how he would act, what makes him... so this was fun. Garreth was the first carefree hero we've got in this series and he was a great hero. I mean, seriously, he's probably the best well-adjusted man in the whole series: charming, loyal, caring, tenacious and patient. Nobody can really blame him for his attitude when he catches up to Lucia... One lethal year of chasing - anyone's patience would be at an end. In my opinion, Garreth really made the book.

Lucia however was another story. She was too wishy-washy to my tastes and I didn't like the fact that she only showed her vulnerable side to Regin only and put up the strong/brave front. I felt too many of her actions were dictated by the fact that she was a Valkyrie instead of her being herself. It seemed to me that she had a definition of what a Valkyrie was and she tried to impersonate it. It doesn't help that I'm not in love with the Valkyries in Ms Cole's series... I feel they are too high-strung and full of themselves, but that's probably just me. Anyway, I wished she had been herself and would have stood up for herself instead of crumbling under the pressure. For example, when the Valkyries trapped Garreth as an exchange chip, she didn't want to, but she did because of the other Valkyries. Even when they called Garreth filthy names, she went along because Valkyries aren't supposed to like Lykae, even if she doesn't share the opinion. This got better once Lucia and Garreth were alone, but even then, she didn't open up very much to him. I liked the fact that she considered telling Garreth the whole truth, but in the end, she didn't... and it almost cost him his life.

My biggest issue with this book however wasn't Lucia, but the sense of deja-vu I had. In my opinion, the premises of Pleasure of a Dark Prince quite resemble the ones of Untouchable, Murdoch/Dani's story published as a novella in Deep Kiss in Winter. Both heroes meet their mates, but are unable to have physical relationship because of the mates' particularities. Both stories back-track to the beginning of the series... I think had I not read Untouchable, I would have enjoyed Pleasure of a Dark Prince a lot more. As a result, I wasn't able to totally engage in the storyline :(

My Grade: C+. I really liked Garreth, but the rest of the story didn't wow me. Also, the similarities with Untouchable really didn't play out in favor for Pleasure of a Dark Prince :( A lot of things are happening, but I don't feel like the series has been advancing. When is the freaking Accession going to happen? We've been on the verge of it for a couple of books already it seems. The ending of Pleasure of a Dark Prince was an interesting cliff-hanger though and will probably incite readers to continue this series.

Hmmm, it's funny how I tend to down-grade the books once I review them in comparison to my monthly list ^_^;

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter

See, I told you it was too early for such nice weather! Guess what we had yesterday? Yup, snowflakes. It's not really cold and what we got was wet snow, but we got enough that it didn't melt off overnight and we can still see it this morning. Also, what are they announcing for tonight? Freezing rain. Yay. NOT. At least, now, it's really March weather :P Less scary.

I had a very, very lazy week-end. Basically, I didn't do anything except read and watch TV, so in a few words, it was a great week-end :D I thought of blogging, but every time I sat down at the computer, I ended up playing Bejeweled Blitz ^_^; Ah well. The Curling Women World Championship has started and Canada is 3-0 :P I really like Jennifer Jones' team so I'm really happy. Got a scare in the first game against Sweden since they were trailing 5-1... but they had a nice come back and won the game 9-6 :P And now, they seem to be on a roll :P

Speaking of sports, I've been keeping an eye on tennis this week-end as well... my favorite tennis player Justine Henin as come out of retirement earlier this year. However, you don't get a ranking till you play your third tournament. Well now, she's officially back at no. 33 :) The clay season is coming up, so for sure, her ranking will get better as the year advances :D

In case you're wondering, this week-end, I finished Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don't Live Forever by Molly Harper. These were book #2 and #3 in the Jane Jameson trilogy... They were fun to read, but not sure I'm going to review them. Also read A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner!! :D Yep, got my hand on it on last Thursday, after 2 days of online indicator stalking :P If I could only get one book this month, that would have been it :D LOL, it was funny, because I was meeting friends at 7pm. Got at the bookstore at 6.10pm and had the book in hand and paid at 6.15pm. Since I was early to meet my friends, I just sat outside of the bookstore and started skimming through it and peeling of the price tag (I hate when the stick price tag!!). James was probably wondering what I was doing ^_^;

So that was my week-end. Didn't work on my review of Pleasures of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole for Cindy, but I'll definitively do that today :P Unless drama at work kills me, which is a definite possibility. Sigh, my co-worker is crumbling under pressure, tiredness and my boss's hammering. And if my boss was a woman, I'd say he was having a serious, major case of PMS. Okay, that's for another. In the meantime, in case you weren't aware of it, I put up a review at Breezing Through last Friday :) Jill and I discussed Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter :) You can find the review here.

Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter
published by Jove Books in January 2010
Armed with her cousin’s pistol, Audrianna travels to a coaching inn, to meet with a man who may have information that will clear her dead father’s name. She does not realize that the handsome man of commanding sensuality who shows up is not the person she expected, but instead Lord Sebastian Summerhays, one of her father’s persecutors, lured to the inn by the same advertisement that brought her there.

When the pistol accidentally fires, the situation becomes mortifyingly public, and thoroughly misunderstood. Audrianna is prepared to live with the scandal. Lord Sebastian has other ideas...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TBR Day: When He Was Wicked and Present Danger

Sigh, I thought I won my battle against my addiction of Bejeweled Blitz... turns out, not ^_^; Spent the whole day playing instead of writing this review :( Ah well, going to have to work harder to fight it :P It always helps though once I'm at the top of the leaderboard LOL.

Now, switching topics... How's the weather for everyone? I mentioned in an earlier post that we've been having great weather... I mean, WOW weather for March/spring... Very sunny and so far, only one day of rain! The temperature is also quite warm... However, it's totally wrong for guys to wear shorts this early in the year! Yes, shorts!!! I've seen a couple of guys in downtown and even the neighbor teenager... there's still some snow on your lawn!  So very wrong and as I said, scary!!

Changing subject again, now onto the reviews :D So I missed last month's TBR challenge and as a result, I aimed for a two-fer this month :) Well I succeeded LOL and one of them even fit this month's TBR challenge's theme! I wouldn't have known if Ames haven't told me :P Of course, the most difficult is to review the books in time...

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
published by Avon in July 2004

In every life there is a turning point.

A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer - the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then... Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love…until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets...
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Bridgertons, Book #6

The Story: Michael Sterling fell in love with Francesca Bridgerton at first sight. Unfortunately for him, she was about to marry Michael's beloved cousin, John Sterling - Earl of Kilmartin. For the two following years, Michael was able to suppress his feelings for Francesca and they have become good friends, confidants even. Then, the unimaginable happens: John, the cousin Michael considered as his brother, Francesca's beloved husband, dies unexpectedly. Everything becomes worst when Francesca miscarries and Michael officially becomes the 9th Earl of Kilmartin. Grieving for John, unable to face his feelings for Francesca and his responsibilities as an earl, Michael escapes to India for a life of adventure.

Michael finally comes back after four years, believing that he can once again suppress his feelings for Francesca. At the same time, Francesca is now ready to remarry as she wants to have a family and children of her own... and Michael quickly realizes that he was mistaken - he is not over Francesca... and she is in for a shock.

My Opinion: So this is kind of funny... I was a late-comer to The Bridgertons series. In fact, the reason why I ever got into it was because When He was Wicked sounded interesting and it was many bloggers' favorite. So I got all the series, started from the beginning... and simply never made it to When He Was Wicked LOL. Then, not too long ago, Ames read it (see her review here) and it was enough for me to finally pick it up :)

I don't know if it's because I read The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins recently, which basically had the same premises in a contemporary setting, but I wasn't wowed by When He was Wicked as so many others have been. Oh, it was a good book for sure, just not a wowzer.

I really liked the hero, Michael Sterling. Such a tortured man! Granted, the torture was of a different type, but that doesn't make the feelings less real. I don't think there can be many things worst than being in love with your brother/best friend/cousin's wife. Not being able to confess, always having to hide the feelings and if everything goes wrong, you could lose everything. In addition, it was so ironic that a rake like Michael has finally found a woman with whom he'd like to settle down, but she's the only woman with whom he can't. Then, there was the death of John, the loss of John's child and taking John's place... I don't blame Michael for freaking out and running away. Despite all that was going on, Ms Quinn also managed to make Michael sound yummy :) LOL, such great writing... However, I wasn't too happy with his character when he decided to marry Francesca. There just wasn't transition between the tortured man and the one determined to marry his love... The turn-around took place too fast and it made his character seemed kind of inconsistent. He's taken such length to keep his distance, hide his feelings and understand that once he lets go, it's like the dam has broken... But why has the dam broken? I thought that there should have been more to the process than Colin saying "Why don't you marry her yourself?" Other than that, I really thought Michael was very yummy :)

As for Francesca, I didn't dislike her, but I didn't liked her either... She was just kind of bland. Holly mentioned in the comment section of Ames review that the readers don't really know Francesca at all. It's not exactly that readers don't know her, but it's more Ms Quinn telling readers that Francesca has been reserved and quiet and just left it at that. There's no real development to her character, no real growth. There's no real change to her character throughout the book. A lot of the book was focused on Michael agonizing about his feelings for Francesca, his inner thoughts... However, when it comes to Francesca, the inner monologues are glossed over...

When He was Wicked is really about Francesca and Michael and their relationship. There is no secondary plot and not many secondary characters either. I thought that the first part about John's death was very good and up to the part where Michael returns and is debating his feelings was very satisfying... However, it all goes down for me when Francesca runs back to Kilmartin - the country home. I don't blame her for running away... it's just the whole, "Should I marry Michael or not" and not being sure about her feelings that became a bit tedious.

My Grade: B. I'm glad I finally read When He was Wicked. As a whole, I was happy with the book, I liked it and it was different than the rest of the series. It just wasn't a wowzer for me.

Present Danger by Susan Andersen
published by Zebra Kensington in February 1993

On the run from her ex-husband, Aunie Franklin doesn't want another man telling her what to do. She's learning to take charge of her life.

James Ryder is finally getting his brothers' troubles straightened out-- the last thing he needs is another responsibility thrust upon him. But somebody's got to teach this little southern belle some street smarts.

Two people from different worlds, learning that in some areas they aren't so very different after all. But just when they start to believe there's a chance of their worlds meshing, the phone calls begin...

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: none

The Story: Aunie Franklin is a Southern belle who married an older man for the money and prestige he could bring to her. While the marriage was not as ideal as she hoped, the last draw came when he refused to give her a baby because it would ruin her figure. That's when she decided to divorce him despite the protests of her family and that's when he showed his true face.

Battered, Aunie escapes to Seattle where she hopes she can start a new life away from her ex-husband and family. This time around, Aunie plans to use her brain instead of her beauty to make her way. She finds the perfect little apartment near the college she intends to attend, except her new landlord has a stick up his behind.

James Ryder is a popular cartoonist who doesn't want any more complications in his life. Coming from a rough neighborhood, he's trying to straighten out his brothers with little success. Seeing Aunie's battered face, he knows she's going to be trouble and so, they both start off on the wrong foot. However, it's clear that James can't keep his distance from Aunie...

My Opinion: I'm a fan of Ms Andersen, so I've been collecting her backlist. Present Danger is one of her oldest books and so I was happy to finally find a copy :) I didn't have high expectations for it, as I haven't heard much of this book... and it's good thing since it turned out to be so-so.

To me, it all came down to the characters. For some reasons, they just weren't very likable to me. I admire Aunie for admitting she was a trophy wife and wanting to make herself better with this second chance, but admiring and liking is not the same. As for James, I thought sometimes, he was really rude. It's one thing not to want to be involved in other's problems, but you don't have to be rude :( And the worst is that, straightening out other people's problem seems to be Jame's favorite hobby. He just can't help himself... so he shouldn't blame others for it, but himself. I just didn't care much for Aunie and James and so I wasn't really invested in their relationship. James was a very contradictory character and so it was a bit annoying... He kept saying he didn't want to be involved or commit in a relationship or like Aunie, but at every occasion, it jumped in feet first.

The story wasn't bad though... but again, it's hard to get into it if you don't really care about the main characters and it focused a lot around James and Aunie. There was also a lot of secondary characters that played filler, but that was okay.

What annoyed me most though was the accents. Lori made a comment about it in a review of hers (here) and I totally agree with her. It's distracting to read accents... and there wasn't one accent in Present Danger, but three!! Reading "woo-mon" simply drove me insane, ugh. If characters have accents, just mentioned it in the story... and let the readers imagine it. We already imagine the rest, so one more thing won't kill us LOL.

My Grade: C. Not the best Susan Andersen book out there, but considering this was her second book only and it's been written more than 15 years ago, it was okay :) Lots of things change in the romance and real world. It does sustain the test of time, but I don't know, I don't think it's a story we would see nowadays. To be labeled as romantic suspense nowadays, I think it should be a lot more gritty and perhaps, gory. In any case, it would have worked better if I'd have liked the characters, I'm sure of that :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

Did you notice something different about the blog? LOL, it's not something big, but it's something I'm proud of. Last Friday, I was bored so I spent time cleaning up my labels :P I went from 401 to 345 labels! Seriously, I don't know what I was thinking making labels for things such as: pain, injury, gas, traffic jam (traffic jam!!) and so on. There are still a lot of posts back in 2007 and 2008 that haven't been labeled, but I don't think I have the courage to go back and label them on... Although, thanks to Ames, I now know that I can do it in the Edit Posts section with the Label Actions instead of going into each post and making the changes ^_^;

I also took away labels such as vampires, werewolves, magic, witch, wizard, etc. I was using them mostly to sub-categorize the paranormal romance and urban fantasy books, but I realized I wasn't consistently using them. Plus, you can find more than one of the supernatural species in the book, so there were too many labels... I figured if you wanted to look for werewolves books, you'd simply click urban fantasy or paranormal romance and go through my posts :P

In the meantime, I still have books from February left to review :D One of them is Truly, Madly by Heather Webber. This book first caught my attention on Kris' blog. It sounded like a cute story, plus it has psychics, so I wanted to give it a try :)

Truly, Madly by Heather Webber
published by St. Martin's Press in February 2010

Lucy Valentine is as smart as can be, as single as you can get, and so not qualified to run a matchmaking service. But when her parents temporarily step down from the family business, Valentine, Inc., it’s Lucy’s turn to step up and help out—in the name of love.

Plus, her rent is due.

Here’s the problem: Lucy doesn’t have the knack for matchmaking. According to family legend, every Valentine has been blessed by Cupid with the ability to read “auras” and pair up perfect couples. But not Lucy. Her skills were zapped away years ago in an electrical surge, and now all she can do is find lost objects. What good is that in the matchmaking world? You’d be surprised. In a city like Boston, everyone’s looking for something. So when Lucy locates a missing engagement ring—on a dead body—she asks the sexy private eye who works upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime. And who knows? Maybe she’ll find the perfect love while she’s at it...

Genre: paranormal romance - psychic
Series: Lucy Valentine, Book #1

The Story: Generations of Valentine have been blessed with the ability to read auras - except their own - and thus, have been very successful in the matchmaking business. Lucy wishes she could join her father in the business Valentine, Inc.; however, she doesn't feel "worthy" - having lost her ability to read auras and gained the ability to find lost objects. Only, things change when Lucy's father has a heart attack on the beach in company of his mistress. Going away to recover while the bad publicity quiets down sounds like the perfect solution and thus, Oscar leaves Valentine, Inc. in the hands of Lucy. She doesn't want to, but what choice does she have? Plus, she needs the job.

Everything goes well till a young man walks in and upon contact, Lucy "sees" his grandmother's heirloom engagement ring that he has given to his ex-fiancée on the finger of a skeleton... Wanting to find out answers, Lucy decides to ask help to SD investigations, the PI agency located in the same building as Valentine, Inc. Instead of meeting with the owner, she meets Sean Donahue - the brother... who triggers the kind of visions Lucy never had before...

My Opinion: I enjoy books with psychic characters and this one sounded different and lighter, so I wanted to give it a try.  Truly, Madly turned out to be a good choice, as it was a light, fluffy and fun read. What surprised me most was despite the fluffiness, the mystery thread had depth and I thought the plot was very well constructed.

Lucy was a very lovable heroine with a head on her shoulder. While no fault of her, she feels bad having lost her ability to read auras and let say, she hasn't come to term with her new ability either because it makes her different than her family. As a result, Lucy has declined entering in Valentine, Inc., but also using her trust fund. Instead, she's been taking odd jobs and paying rent to her grandmother. It's clear that for Lucy, the ability to read auras is very important and is part of her identity. Not having that ability anymore, Lucy is looking for herself, exploring and trying to see if she can make it by herself. A lot of characters in books try to make something of themselves, not wanting to be like their parents, but it's the opposite for Lucy. She's always wanted to be part of the family business, but until she finds herself, she can't. In a way, Truly, Madly is in part Lucy's journey to finding herself and I really liked the resolution of it.

Aside from Lucy, Truly, Madly has a colorful cast of secondary characters. There's Lucy's family: her parents - while they lead separate lives, they are still very good friends, and her grandmother LOL. There's also Emma and Marisol, Lucy's two best friends since childhood, Raphael, the family chauffeur, and of course, Sean. All of the characters are quite interesting and have a role in the story, they're not just playing filler or there to provide comedy-relief. They're Lucy's entourage and obviously, very important to her.

As I mentioned, there's also a mystery to Truly, Madly. I was quite happy with it and thought it was well constructed. It was logical which allowed the readers to guess who did it and what happened, but at least, it wasn't obvious. Know what I mean? More importantly, I thought it really blended well with the other storylines. I thought Ms Webber did a great job balancing everything in Truly, Madly. I mean, there was a lot of characters and a lot going on, but it never felt too much and Ms Webber was able to keep it light.

My only complaint would be that the romance between Lucy and Sean was very light. However, this is the first book of a series, and it seems Ms Webber was setting things up. I'm sure - or at least, I hope, that Lucy and Sean's relationship will be explored further in the next book :)

My Grade: B+. Truly, Madly was a fast and very enjoyable read to me. It was cute and light and cheered me up :) I'm definitively looking forward to the next book, Deeply, Desperately, coming out in August :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review: Lessons from a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes

Sigh, time saving in spring really sucks ^_^; I mean, week-ends are short enough, but now, I lost an hour somewhere :( But at least, it means spring is almost here!! I don't know about everyone else, but Montreal has been getting very nice weather for March. Temperature has been very mild, the snow is almost gone... and this is so scary!! I bet we're going to get snow very soon... It's just too nice to be true.

Anyway, in case you weren't aware of it, I have a review up over at Breezing Through. The girls and I were looking for a book to do another foursome review and chose Lessons from a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes. This was my first Emma Wildes book and click here to find out what we thought of it! :D

Lessons from a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes
published by New American Library in January 2010
No real lady should take lessons from a scarlet woman...

The Duke of Rolthven's new wife, Brianna, is the perfect aristocratic bride. So what would society say if they saw her with a copy of Lady Rothburg's Advice -- a courtesan's lessons for the boudoir? When his innocent wife suddenly becomes a vixen in the bedroom, the proper Duke is truly astounded by her seductive powers. Following a courtesan's advice might lead to trouble - but will it lead to Brianna's ultimate desire: winning her husband's love?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Contacting authors...

It's Friday and I'm too lazy to start a review LOL. Seems to be often the case for some reasons. Ah well, no review doesn't mean no blogging, right? :P

I thought it's been a while since I started a discussion. Lucky for me, I had a topic in mind, so it wasn't hard to come up with one :)

My question today: Do you ever/often contact/e-mail authors? For what reasons?

I'm curious because a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Monroe and she mentioned she e-mailed a few authors to let them know how much she enjoyed their books. Then, today, I was on Tracy's blog and in one of the comments, she mentioned she contacted Anne Bishop to ask a question concerning her new Black Jewels trilogy.

With the internet around, it's much easier to contact an author. You don't have to pay the stamp, don't even need to find a mailbox... LOL. All you need is their email address which can usually be found on their website.

I have to say, I'm not the kind of persons who will e-mail authors to let them know how much I liked their books. There's nothing wrong to do so -  it's actually pretty awesome if you do so... It's just not me. Most of what I have to say about books, I do it via my blog. However, I did email a few for questions, after I couldn't find an answer on their websites/blogs. I remember contacting Robyn Carr and asking her where I could get the last book of her Grace Valley trilogy, LOL, and if there was any plans for re-printing.

I think my attitude can be explained by my whole mentality of keeping my distances from an author. I like being a fangirl LOL... and being friends, getting to know authors on a personal level, well it changes me as a reader... but of course, that's just me.

So, what about you? Do you often contact authors? If you don't, why not? Also, as an author, do you like being contacted? Do you answer to all the emails?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Angel's Peak and Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr

I was going to write that blogland is quiet, but I think perhaps it's just me who is (for once) behind in my bloghopping :P

Meanwhile, there's nothing new with me. I've been watching the Tim Horton's Brier these past few days :D Seriously, it's been a great year curling-wise LOL. I'm rooting for Newfoundland-Labrador to win :) and I'm also rooting for all the underdogs - PEI, Nova Scotia and North West Territories-Yukon. They've all got at least one win, so all is good :)

I'm heading for the bookstore tonight. My sister has a lab and I'm going to be waiting for her... My hands are itching to buy some books as they are currently some good promotions. I've gotten a few YA books last week... but all the books I really want in March are coming out in two weeks and by that time, the promotion will be over. Bummer. I'm also trying to be a very good girl, since I'm going to RT in April... but seriously, being a good girl might kill me :P

Angel's Peak by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in February 2010

Four years ago, Air Force sweethearts Franci Duncan and Sean Riordan reached an impasse. She wanted marriage and a family, he didn’t. But a chance meeting proves that the bitter breakup hasn’t cooled their sizzling chemistry.

Sean has settled down in spite of himself—he’s not the cocky young fighter pilot he was when Franci left, and he wants them to try again. After all, they have a history...but that’s not all they share.

Franci’s secret reason for walking away when Sean refused to commit is now three and a half: a redheaded cherub named Rosie who shares her daddy’s emerald green eyes. Sean is stunned—and furious with Franci for the deception.

News travels fast in Virgin River, and soon the whole town is taking sides. Rebuilding their trust could take a small miracle—and the kind of love that can move mountains.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #10

The Story: This is basically a secret baby book. Franci and Sean were a hot item 4 years ago and when Franci became pregnant, she asked Sean to commit (without telling him about the baby). When he refused, she walked away. Fast-forward 4 years, Sean is on an extended vacation and visiting his brother Luke in Virgin River. At a bar in Eureka, he runs into Franci again and Sean realizes she's the woman who got away... so he decides to win her back... and discover he has a daughter, the "Wide Iwish" Rose... Afterward, the story focuses on how to make their relationship works.

My Opinion: Tabitha has a pretty good review here  and I have to say, I pretty much agree with her.

I know a lot of readers are sick to death of the secret baby plot as it's been done over and over, but I still enjoy them :) Actually, to be honest, I pretty much skipped to the part where Sean discovers Rose, LOL, because that's really where the interesting stuff starts.. Poor Sean ^_^; Not really the greatest way to find out you have a kid.

I thought Sean handled the aftermath pretty well. Once he found out he had a daughter, there was no doubt Sean wanted to be present for her... and if he couldn't be there, at least his family would. I like the fact that the whole family (on both sides) were involved. There was also an honesty in Sean and Franci's characters... Honesty as in, Sean readily admitted he wasn't ready to be a father 4 years ago. In that sense, I thought the story felt quite real.

I did enjoy Angel's Peak's storyline. The interactions between the different characters, the focus on the Riordan's family as opposed to the Virgin River community. I really liked the dynamics of the Riordan brothers and how Aiden seemed to be the peacemaker, the in-between between the sons and their mother. That was quite cute and humorous and so was Rosie, the secret baby. However, I did not really care for Franci and Sean. Due to their action and behaviors, I don't think they are endearing characters to the reader, especially Franci. I got to agree with Tabitha - I would have liked her to break it off with her "boyfriend" before jumping back into bed with Sean... even if the boyfriend turned out to be a jerk, I thought she handled everything quite wrong.

So yes, taken as a whole, I thought Angel's Peak was enjoyable. As usual, I enjoy Ms Carr's writing. I also thought there was a nice balance between the main storyline and the side stories. Also, I liked the Riordan clan and their interaction. Was it the best book of the series? No. Wasn't even a wowzer... but still a fun read.

My Grade: B-.

Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in March 2010
With her beloved younger siblings settled and happy, Erin Foley has got empty nest syndrome. At age thirty-five.

So she’s hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded, she’s not into roughing it) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is looking forward to really getting to know herself...not some shaggy-haired mountain man she meets wandering the woods.

In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the Navy. He’s intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race — meditating, journaling and definitely keeping him at arm’s length. He’d love to get closer...if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don’t hold him back.

But maybe it’s something in the water — unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River... helped along with some well-intentioned meddling, of course.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #11

The Story:  There was a lot of storylines going on in this book and the one describes in the back blurb is only the "main" one. If I could break down the book, I'd say there's three storylines going on:

1) Erin and Aiden: Erin has taken the whole summer off to stay at the cabin and take her first real vacation in years. She wants to do "nothing," but turns out she's not really good at it. Meanwhile, Aiden has left the Marines, because he didn't want to commit another 2 years aboard a ship. Erin and Aiden's first meeting don't go too well... but Aiden finds himself attracted and eventually decides to win Erin over. All is going well till his crazy ex-wife shows up...

2) Melinda wants another baby, despite the fact that she had an hysterectomy. She's looking into surrogate mothers and trying to convince Jack about it.

3) Art comes across Netta, his girlfriend in his previous group-home and wants to renew with her.

My Opinion: Out of the three books of this trilogy, I was looking forward to Moonlight Road the most. Turns out it disappointed me the most :(

I liked Erin and Aiden's characters, although they were not very developed. Erin has spent the last 20 years taking care of her younger siblings, but now, they're all grown up and doesn't need her as much. I can't imagine suffering from empty nest syndrome at the age of 35... As for Aiden, he's really my favorite Riordan brothers so far :P There's just something about him. I think it's his calm and gentleness. Luke and Sean are used to be ladies man and they're a bit cocky and arrogant - an alpha streak in them... Aiden is different, in a good way. I think that Erin and Aiden complemented each other pretty well and their storyline had so much potential... Two adults that are at a crossroad in their lives and they must decide what to do. I love the way Erin and Aiden met, it was hilarious :) Unfortunately, Ms Carr didn't develop their story and chose to focus on the side-stories instead... which is a pity, since the initial set up was done well. Everything in Erin and Aiden's relationship went too fast, too quickly and as a result, it wasn't quite believable. I just wished Ms Carr had spent more time on them... And then, she brought in the crazy ex-wife. That part could have been quite interesting, if the book was only about Erin and Aiden... and the resolution with the ex-wife, not very believable which I could have overlooked if I was satisfied with Erin and Aiden's relationship.

So yes, I wanted and expected more out of Erin and Aiden's story... and in the end, the reason why I was disappointed was too much things were going on in Moonlight Road... which is not new in the Virgin River series. I don't like it, but again, I could have overlooked... but really, my main issue with this book? The book had a preaching undertone. Ms Carr incorporated a lot of topics in this book and clearly, she put a lot of efforts in her research and it showed. However, she didn't do a good job at writing what she found out and most of the time, it felt like a lecture... actually, it felt like one lecture after another. Here's a list of the topics: the empty nest syndrome, sexuality of people with Down Syndrome, care-taking of people who are mentally challenged, surrogate mothers, emotional impact of women who had hysterectomy, etc. Some of them were incorporated a bit better in the storyline, others - not at all... and that took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Art having a girlfriend could have been a cute storyline, a nice side-story... if only Ms Carr had done a better job and incorporating the message she wanted to share with the readers. As for Mel wanting another baby - well I thought that she was being very irrational and everything made sense, once readers realize what the message was... It simply, I could have done without these messages. I'm not against learning stuff when I read fiction, but at the same time, I'm reading this for fun... when I feel like I'm being lectured about topics - important ones in real life, true, but still lectures - it takes a way the fun a bit. Perhaps if it hadn't all been in the same book, it would have gone better with me. Ah well.

On the plus side, I did think it was interesting to re-visit Mel and Jack's relationship while they were fighting, while they had issues. I like how Jack stood up to Mel and didn't let Mel get her way, but at the same time, he was there for her. Their relationship is really the foundation to the Virgin River series :)

My Grade: C

I know Ms Carr has another trilogy set in Virgin River to be released next year and I am going to keep on reading this series... but at the same time, I hope she has plans for something new after it.  It's different when an author starts a series and has a set number of books in mind then when something takes off and the author has to add books to it. Know what I mean? In this case, Ms Carr just keeps adding characters and finding issues... and at times, I feel the series is becoming a little bit forced... and old. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Movie: Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Lightning Thief

Ouf. I was planning to write and put up this post yesterday, but work was busy and I was stupid. See, yesterday, I worked on the computer all day and didn't take much breaks... So at the end of the day, my eyes were very small (smaller than usual) and it's as if they were bleeding and plus, I had a headache. Ugh. See, stupid. I went home, ate supper, read a little, watch curling (it's the Tim Hortons' Brier :P) and fell asleep. Just couldn't sit at the computer...

However, I'm going to be way smarter this morning :) First, I'm going to start by writing up this post LOL. Then, I'm going to blog-hop :P Anyway, that's the plan...

Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Lightning Thief

I rarely review movies, but since I did a whole "Percy Jackson & The Olympians" week and posted my thoughts on the cast and so on, I thought this was the last touch, right? :) And since the Vancouver Games were over, I finally had time to go see the movie with my sister :)

I tried to go see the movie with an open mind. I mean, the movie critics for The Lightning Thief weren't very good, I've read Isabel's post on the movie, talked to Christine... even my co-worker warned me. Seriously, I thought I was prepared... but in truth, nothing could have prepared me!

I'm a true believer that if you're going to adapt a book/story into a tv series or a movie, then it should be faithful. Otherwise, why don't you write an original screenplay?!?! Of course, I wasn't expecting them to adapt every details and I knew it wasn't going to be a faithful adaptation, but still... It really didn't stop me from being disappointed.

The biggest problem I have with this movie is I thought my co-worker was right, the director - Chris Columbus - really didn't put any efforts into this movie. I could feel it from all the aspects of the movie - story, acting, special effects, etc. I can accept some stuff being changed because it's hard to adapt it to the big screen - I may not like it, but I understand... but this is not what happened with The Lightning Thief. These weren't small changes he made for big screen adaptation. He changed the whole "essence" of the storyline... and for what?!? I guess I should be blaming the scriptwriter more, but then, the director has last word right?

The movie left out lots of important stuff such as the prophecy and Kronos which are pretty essential for setting up the next movies... Even Talia's tree. I mean, I didn't see it or at least, it didn't really stand out. So what are they going to try to save in The Sea of Monsters? Anyway, that's another story right? You cannot put every details into the movie, even if they are extremely important. Fine. DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THE CHARACTERS AS WELL?!?!? Grover's personality was just wrong, wrong, wrong. No offense, but in the book, Grover is a coward. Sure, it's more fun to see a self-confident Grover, but that's not who he is! He's also not a womanizer! And Hades! He didn't want war! Even Chiron at the end... "You're now my favorite student, because you disobeyed blablabla." WHAT? In the book, Chiron sent the three youngsters on the quest! Like I said, it's one thing to change details, but whole character's personalities? Instead of adding some stupid, "emotional" scenes that were made-up, they could have focused on adapting the book. How hard is it to reproduce the Half-Blood Camp when the author even drew a map?

Okay, I'm going to stop here, because my rant could go on and on and on. I'm just going to add this: they even got Luke and Hermes' cabin wrong. And that stupid "Zeus made a rule that gods could not be in contact with their kids"... Seriously? Well no wonder they had to take out Dionysus, cos hey, being camp director, he'd spend all his time with his own kids. Okay, I digress. So yeah, I had a lot of problems with the story itself... And the storyline really set the tone in my opinion. The transitions between one event and another wasn't great, which made the acting all awkward. There were some scenes were the actors seem so stiff... of course, some of their lines were extremely corny/cheesy, so not really easy to make it believable. I can't say I liked Percy, Annabeth or Grover... the whole attraction between Percy and Annabeth, it took away from the movie I think. Also, I thought Annabeth was a bit too ferocious. The final battle between Percy and Luke? Look very fake.

So yes, I'm very unhappy with The Lightning Thief and seriously, I cannot find many redeeming factors to it. At least to me. If I'd watch the movie simply for the movie, perhaps it would have been better. I would still have find the acting a bit stiff in some places, the transitions not very smooth... but perhaps I could have still enjoyed the movie for what it is, a movie. Unfortunately, I couldn't.  Watching The Lightning Thief just got me worked up... luckily, my sister was a very patient person and didn't hit me unconscious. I seriously recommend to everyone to read the books :)

By the way, the scene between Poseidon and Percy? OMG, so cheesy and corny. It sure didn't happen this way in the book and worst of all, is that Percy said something along the line of "If he'd apologize or say something as equally cheesy, it would have felt fake..." I don't have the book with me now, but I'll put the proper quote tonight. It just goes to show how wrong this adaptation is.

EDIT: Oups! I'm a few days late... I completely forgot to put up the quote, been riveted on curling :P No seriously, it just slipped out my mind and since my copy of The Lightning Thief was in my sis' room, it slipped out even further... But here is the quote:

I got the feeling Poseidon really didn't know what to think of me. He didn't know whether he was happy to have me as a son or not. In a strange way, I was glad that Poseidon was so distant. If he'd tried to apologize, or told me he loved me, or even smiled, it would've felt fake. Like a human dad making some lame excuse for not being around. I could live with that. After all, I wasn't sure about him yet, either.

Mind you, I'm not against cheesy scenes... but that last scene between Poseidon and Percy was exactly what Percy said would feel fake in this quote. And it felt fake to me too... However, the most important is that that it shows how clearly the scriptwriter and director just didn't get it...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Re-Read: The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

Not long ago, Tabitha asked "What to do when your urge to read war with your desire to review?" My answer was to keep on reading and not to mess with her reading roll. Well for once, I listened to my own advice LOL. I was on a reading roll in February (small because of the Olympics, but still a roll) and decided to just read what I felt like reading, even if that meant not making it for the various reading challenges I signed up for. I did feel bad missing them, especially the Re-Read Challenge because I'm the host and should set the example, but what can I say? I was afraid I'd go from a reading roll to a reading slump ^_^;

Luckily though, after reading Shadalor's Lady by Anne Bishop last Saturday, I had the urge to re-read The Shadow Queen just to refresh my memory on how it all started... and I was able to finish it on Sunday :) So today, I'm taking a page from Leslie's book of logic :P I'm posting my re-read review and, since technically, today would be February 31... I'm not late right? :)

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop
published by New American Library (ROC) in March 2009
Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand—without a leader and without hope…

Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who knows Protocol, remembers the Blood’s code of honor, and lives by the Old Ways.

Languishing in the Shadow Realm, Lady Cassidy is a Queen without a court, a castoff. She is not beautiful. She thinks she is not strong. But when she is chosen to rule Dena Nehele, she must convince bitter men to serve once again.

Theran’s cousin Gray is a Warlord Prince who was damaged in mind and body by the vicious Queens who once ruled Dena Nehele. Yet something about Cassidy makes him want to serve—and makes him believe he can be made whole once again.

And only Cassidy can prove to Gray—and to herself—that wounds can heal and even the whisper of a promise can be fulfilled...

Genre: Fantasy
Series: Black Jewels series, Book #8 (Dena Nehele trilogy, Book #2)

The Story: The synopsis does a good job summarizing the book, but I'm going to add my two cents.

Dena Nehele lands and people have been decimated by generations of corrupt Queens, even more than other territories because hundred years ago, Dena Nehele had a queen and her consort powerful enough to stand up to Dorothea SaDiablo, Lia the Gray Lady and Jared Grayhaven. Thus, they had to pay a steeper price. Now, it's been two years since Witch has cleansed the three realms from the tainted Bloods and the Warlord Princes in Dena Nehele have finally quenched the landens uprising. All the people of Dena Nehele wants is to go back to their roots and live the Old Ways, following Protocol. Theran Grayhaven is the last direct descendant of Lia and Jared and thus, has been chosen as Dena Nehele leader. Theran decides to "call in a favor" with Daemon Sadi and asks for a Queen from Kaeleer to come rule Dena Nehele in order to show them the Old Ways.

Lady Cassidy has been abandoned by her First Court because she was neither pretty or powerful and did not possess an aristo lineage. However, she has been chosen by Witch herself to be the Queen of Dena Nehele. Thus, she embarks in this adventure, to try to show the Old Ways to people who has forgotten their roots. Unfortunately for Cassidy, the road will be long and hard as will have to convince skeptics to join her court... and the biggest of them all, Theran Grayhaven himself. Luckily for her, she'll find a surprisingly ally in Gray, Theran's cousin who was captured at 15 years old and tortured the two following years... at the age of 27, Gray is not whole... just the shadow of what he could have been...

My Opinion: Here is my review of The Shadow Queen the first time I read it and basically my opinion and grade have not changed much. Although it's hard to review this without spoilers of Shadalor's Lady!

After reading Shadalor's Lady, I think The Shadow Queen did a good job at setting up the story and introducing the major characters for the trilogy. The story is fairly simple, since it consisted of Cassidy arriving at Dena Nehele, setting Court and showing her colors. Still, it was interesting and fun to read :)

The main characters (Theran, Cassidy and Gray) were also in interesting lot. They're all multi-dimensional and well developed. I really like Cassidy - she has this inner strength. She's a solid woman, the kind that's not afraid of work and get it done, without all the sparks and flashes. In The Shadow Queen, Cassidy has a low-esteem issue, she's still reeling from the abandonment of her First Court and so, she's on shaky leg. Not very sure of herself, doubting... and it sure doesn't help that Theran is being such a jerk. I'd be very curious to see the Cassidy prior the abandonment. Gray was my favorite characters in The Shadow Queen. Tortured for two years by wicked Queens, he's still scarred and so protect himself by not letting him grow emotionally. However, meeting Cassidy makes him want to become a man and that's very sweet. As for Theran, well he was a jerk. There's no other words to describe him... which is quite an interesting choice, as he's a protagonist in The Shadow Queen. He's just hateful and so stubborn and frustrating, ugh. However, there's a redeeming factor in him: he does truly care for Gray. I don't want to say too much on Theran, because I think my opinion of him is being influenced by the events of Shadalor's Lady

I thought The Shadow Queen was a very good book the first time and it's still so the second time around. Especially when you read it a year later. Of course, the surprise element is not there anymore, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is I still laughed and chuckled as I was reading The Shadow Queen. It's quite incredible how Ms Bishop can combine such dark and crude elements with comedy and sweet moments and everything still flows very well and at no time is it awkward. That makes Ms Bishop's writing the best thing about this book :)

My Grade: B+. I still like The Shadow Queen as much as before, especially for those cute and aww scenes. It is definitively a fun read, despite the very serious and dark undertones. I love Cassidy and Gray and I think Ms Bishop sets up the new trilogy very well with this book. At the same time, we get to re-visit older characters such as Daemon, Jaenelle and Saetan which is always fun. As in my previous review, I didn't care much about Daemon and Saetan's subplots, but still, it shows the readers different faces of these characters. At least, this time, they didn't completely overshadow the main storyline :)

Oh by the way, take a look at Anne Bishop's website. Seems like it's gotten a face lift :P

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monthly Reads: February 2010

Guess what? I was able to squeeze in a re-read yesterday for February, so now, all I have to do is review it :D

Guess what? I reviewed all the books I wanted to (you know, when I write "Review to come" in my monthly reads list), except for one and I plan to do it this week... LOL, I mean, it's so rare for me to review all the books I read. So to review all the books I want to review, that's quite an accomplishment as well :P In addition, I was also able to review a couple of books I've read this month! Wow, I'm impressed at myself, LOL.

So here is my list of reads for the month of February:

1) Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter: B
Review to come at Breezing Through

2) Lessons from a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes: B+
Review to come at Breezing Through

3) Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh: B++

4) Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep: A-

5) Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis: B-

As a whole, I did enjoy Slow Heat more than Double Play. It's the feeling I got while reading Slow Heat, more fun I guess. However, Slow Heat was definitively not a perfect read and I had some issues with it, mostly Sam. I was looking forward to this book from the teaser we got in Double Play and while I really liked Wade, Sam disappointed me. Mostly, I found Sam too uptight, nervous and almost with a lack of self-confidence, which made it hard for me to believe she was a successful PR... and I felt she didn't understand her clients either. For example, when she discovered that Wade's father was still alive, she immediately brought up the issue with Wade and ask if they could both participate for the Father/Son day. She didn't take two seconds to think. Coming from a dysfunctional family, I thought she would have been smarter than that. Obviously, if Wade doesn't want people to know his father is alive is because there's something going on somewhere. Whether it's bad blood between them or his father preferring a secret life or whatever. Yes, she's focused on her work, but it almost made her stupid. I'm not saying she shouldn't have brought it up, but I think she should have taken 2 seconds to think about.

I thought the whole "pretend" relationship was ridiculous at the end. It dragged way too long in my opinion. Seriously, when you cannot keep your hands off the other person and you'd have sex several times together... It's not a pretended relationship anymore and obviously, it's not a one-night stand. So sit down and discuss about it. Seriously, I thought they figured it out that it wasn't pretended anymore... till the one month was up. So Sam wants to know what is it between her and Wade, but she won't even take a step to figure it out... Instead, she just breaks if off. Wow, tha's going to advance your relationship Sam.

I did Sam's nephew, Tag. He was entertaining, unfortunately, I didn't "feel" that storyline. I usually enjoy this type of storylines where the hero or heroine suddenly become a guardian... but something was off in this one. I felt that at the end, it didn't impact the storyline that much. Also, I can't believe she's only  met her nephew three times in his 10 years of existence. It makes sense when you live in different states, but in Sam and her family case, when they move around so much... it was just weird. Also, Wade's father storyline - meh. I thought it was quite superfluous and it didn't bring much to the storyline, especially with the ending we got.

So yeah, it does sound like I did have a lot of issues with it and I did... but somehow, I ended up enjoying it more than Double Play. Go figure.

6) Truly, Madly by Heather Webber: B+
Review to come.

7) Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb: C
Review to come.

8) Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen: B

I bought this book because Ames enjoyed it so much and I've heard a lot of good things about Sarah Dessen. Now I understand why Ms Dessen is such a hit. While the story didn't quite reach me, I thought the book was cute and the writing was very engaging. It's fun to see characters like Auden discover themselves, reaching a new phase of their life. I like that most of the characters in this book were very mature. I like how Ms Dessen says looks are deceiving... and I'd have enjoyed it more if Auden didn't break with Eli that first time... So yes, I enjoyed it but didn't really connect.

9) Present Danger by Susan Andersen: B-
Review to come; TBR Challenge (either February or March :P)

10) Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr: C
Review to come - I'm going to do a twofer this week, Angel's Peak with Moonlight Road.

11) Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen: B

Another Sarah Dessen's book. I got this one because the blurb really got me curious and like I said earlier, I like hero/heroine becoming guardians. I really enjoyed this book for Ruby, Jamie and Cora's interaction. Jamie was so much fun :) Again, the book was a little bit about a young girl discovering herself and the world around her. I like how Ms Dessen deals with very dark issues, without over-dramatizing it in her books. What happens to the characters feels very realistic and I think that's why she's such a hit. It's great to find young adult straight contemporary :P

12) Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole: B
Review to come.

13) Shadalor's Lady by Anne Bishop: A-
Review to come.

14) The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop: B+
Review to come; Re-Read Challenge.

So 14 books this month :) Not bad considering there was the Olympics and February is a shorter month after all :) And I'm very happy because I've read some really good books :) So quality over quantity, right? :) As you can see as well, lots of reviews to come :) Hopefully, I'll be a good blogger and write them out.

What surprised me most though in February was the number of 2010 releases I've read. I mean, on 14 reads, 10 of them were 2010 releases... and I mean, we're only 2 months into 2010 right? So it was just one new book after the other... which brings me to some more numbers...

Books bought: +21
Books read: -14
TBR pile: +7

LOL, okay, so I've been a buying machine these past two months... However, can you imagine, I've saved more than a 100$ in 2 months?!?! It's insane no? I definitively blame all the coupons and promotions that Chapters/Indigo/Coles are having. Anyway, I'm going to try to control myself for the next 2 months... since I'm going to RT convention in April. Wish me luck!!