Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Re-Read Challenge 2010: August!!

Seriously, I can't believe it's the end of August and the summer already. It just went by in a blur :( However, the nice weather seems to be hanging on, so that is some consolation LOL. Blogland has been very quiet lately - and I'm not the only one who think so! I'm hoping things will pick up soon, I've missed you all!!

All right, back to business. End of the month also means Re-Read challenge :) and the good news is I made it! Woohoo LOL. It's a good thing that I made it, because seeing how blogland is scarce, I'm not expecting many entries ^_^; Ah well, it's okay :) For those who are going to make it this month, you know the drill :) Re-read your book, post your review and let me know the link in the comment section :)

Enjoy everyone!

Hilcia: Rising Tides by Nora Roberts
Nath: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb
Ames: The Dark Tide by Josh Lanyon
Leslie: Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb

Re-Read: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb

End of the month for me means Re-Read Challenge :D Looks like I'll make it this month, and on time! Woohoo LOL. I can't believe August is over already. That means kids are back in school and that the summer is over :( Time really went by fast.

Last month, I missed the Re-Read challenge. I was hoping to read two re-reads this month, but it didn't happen. Well actually, I did. I re-read The Search after writing my review... but given the fact that I've just reviewed it... I doubt you guys want to read another review of it, LOL. Perhaps next month. I have a few ideas of what to re-read and I've been kind of slumping lately... so this will be perfect :D

Okay, enough blabla. Onto the review :)

Visions in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Berkley/Putnam in January 2004

The summer had been long hot and bloody. Fall, with its cooler temperatures was coming. Maybe people wouldn't be as inclined to kill each other. But she doubted it.'

In 2059 New York City, technology and humanity collide, Detective Eve Dallas searches the darkest corners of Manhattan for an elusive killer with a passion for collecting souls...

On one of the city's hottest nights, New York Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is sent to Central Park-and into a hellish new investigation. Her latest homicide case is a particularly vicious case. The victim, Elisa Maplewood, a young mother, is found on the rocks, just above the still, dark water of the lake. Raped and strangled in the park, her body naked but for what appears to be a single red ribbon tied around her neck. Her hands are posed, as if in prayer. But it is the eyes-removed with such precision, as if done with the careful hands of a surgeon-that have Dallas most alarmed.

Eve starts investigating Elisa's friends and relations, and as more bodies turn up, each with the same defining scars, Eve is frantic for answers. An offer of help comes from an unlikely source. The only reason Eve agrees to meet with psychic Celina Sanchez is that she is a friend of a friend. But Celina claims to have experienced visions of the killer and can recite precise details of the case - details that the police have kept to themselves. She is also no glory-hunter - she doesn't want her name released to the media. Haunted by the visions of death that she sees, all she wants to do is help Eve catch the criminal so that she is left in peace. Though Eve remains sceptical of Celina's abilities, against her instincts, she serves the greater good, and she will use all the resources she can to track down the killer before he strikes again...

The psychic who offers one vision after another-each with shockingly accurate details of the murders. And when partner and friend Peabody is badly injured after escaping an attack, the stakes are raised. Are the eyes a symbol? A twisted religious ritual? A souvenir? With help from her husband, Roarke, Dallas must uncover the killer's motivation before another vision becomes another nightmare...
Genre: Romantic suspense, mystery
Series: In Death series, Book #22

The Story: The blurb is pretty self-explanatory, right?

My Opinion: I chose to re-read Visions in Death because Leslie has just recently reviewed it here. In my memories, Divided in Death and Visions in Death will always be a marking point in the series. First, because that's when the In Death series started being released in hardcovers... but more importantly, that's when I considered stop reading the series. As a result, I've always associated a bad feeling with these two books and as such, I haven't re-read them ever. However, I was kind of intrigued after reading Leslie's review, given she's enjoyed it so much. So I decided to give it another chance :D

After reading Visions in Death, I can definitively say that it wasn't as bad as I remembered LOL. Eve is thrown into a new case and soon realizes that she is dealing with a serial killer. While chasing the perp, Eve has to deal with a psychic with information that obviously, given at how cynical Eve is, she doesn't trust, but does not want to dismiss. She also has to confront some nightmares of her own as well Mavis' demand that Eve be her birthing coach and aiding Peabody adapt to her new position. Visions in Death was actually pretty solid. There's definitively a lot going on and at times, it felt a bit too much for me. I think that Ms Roberts tried to cram too many In Death elements in single book. You know how there are some In Death books more case-oriented and others, more characters-oriented; well Visions in Death was trying to be both at the same time. Don't get me wrong, it was an interesting case and I, like any other fans of the series, love it when it deals more with Eve and Roarke's lives; however, in this case, it was definitively too much. I mean, there was the visiting of the shelter, Eve nightmares, Mavis baby, Peabody and McNab moving together, the get-together with Charles and Louise, Eve telling Peabody her past, Peabody getting attacked. Each and any of these elements could have been explored in a book on its own and would have made for a great book, but instead, they're all put together in a single book. The most remarkable though is that Ms Roberts make it work and there is actually some balance in the Visions in Death! LOL.

I love reading  the more personal aspects of this book. Seeing Eve get-together with friends, navigating the social ethics such as the moving together gift LOL. The scene where Mavis asks Eve and Roarke both to be present at the baby's birth and their reaction. Priceless. These are definitively what make this series stand out and are the parts that readers love the most. And I do too :)

The case was okay, although it seems almost too easy, the investigation. Of course, that's all thanks to Eve and you have to admire how her mind works LOL. Problem is, they kept referring at how much the crime were horrifying... and I didn't feel it. Usually, Ms Roberts does a great job at making the case integral to the book and it engages me. However, with Visions in Death, I felt this connection was missing. Again, it comes back to too much going on in the book.  Still, the case was interesting and there was an awesome twist at the end, one that I really didn't expect... but looking back, it makes sense.

I think the reason why I wanted to stop the series when I first read Visions in Death was an overload. I've just read several In Death books one after the other and hit this one and it simply was too much. Re-reading it now, it makes me realize how pivotal this book is to the series, especially for Eve and Peabody's partnership :) In the end, it turned out to be a good and solid read for me, but not the best unfortunately ^_^;

My Grade: B. Even though it's a re-read, it's hard to forget my first impressions. Have I really enjoyed Visions in Death the first time around, I believe that the grade would have been higher. As it isn't the case, it has to make with the modest B :P

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hauling Sunday IX

Why do I have a feeling I'll be playing catch-up blogging this week? Perhaps because I'm posting my Hauling Sunday post on Monday! LOL. Factor in all the posts that we usually have at the beginning and end of the month and I can safely say it's going to be chaos LOL. Ah well, I'm going to try my hardest to blog this week, but I doubt any of my posts will be on time :P

I had a great week-end though. The weather was gorgeous and I took advantage of it. On Saturday, I actually went to see Cavalia, a horse show, with some friends.  I have to say, it wasn't as impressive as I expected. This is mainly due to the fact there were a lot of subtleties that someone who isn't horse-crazy wouldn't really catch such as the steps. Ames would have love this show though :P Then, we went out to eat and some of us ended up at my house to play Mario Bros Wii :) We actually finished it... at 1am!! LOL. No surprise though, there's a secret world 9... however, we need to go back and get some stuff to unlock it. More fun in the future :P

On Sunday, I went to do some errands... Got two new pairs of jeans, wooohoo - kind of needed them ^_^; Got lunch and on the way back, we stopped to try out Cold Stone. This is new here in the Quebec province and my sister and I have been wanting to go for a wile :P It was pretty good and we'll probably return :P The good news is that there isn't one that close to my house, so we won't always end up there LOL. I was also able to finish season 2 of Chuck :) We're really liking this show, it's funny and entertaining. I was going to blog after supper, but I was so tired... because my dad chose to mow the lawn :( It's kind of a habit at my house... My sister and I will never make the first move towards mowing the lawn, but if my dad does and we're at home, we do it instead of him. So that's what happened yesterday, under the shining sun ^_^; The heat and lack of sleep combined, I ended up snoring at 8.30pm ^_^;  Thus, not having my Hauling Sunday post up in time ^_^;

Funny things about timing right? I mean, couldn't it have happened last week, when I didn't have any new books? Guess not :P

So, what are my  new precious this week?

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole - So I caved ^_^; I was so bored earlier last week that I went out and bought Demon from the Dark thinking that I would read it right away... but of course, I didn't ^_^;

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch - This is a recommendation from a co-worker. I thought I'd try it out, even though I'm not much into sci-fi. Apparently, it's pretty funny :)

Love Me if You Dare by Carly Phillips - This one was kind of an impulse buy... Like I say, nothing was really calling to me last week, but I knew I kind of wanted to read a contemporary romance. Hils said this one was better than Kiss Me if You Can and so, in my haul it went :P

Burning Up by Susan Andersen - I love Susan Andersen. Not all of her books are great, but she's an auto-buy for me :)

Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder - I love, love, love Poison Study and Magic Study by Ms Snyder. Just love them, which put Ms Snyder on my auto-buy list forever. I have to admit though, the Glass trilogy hasn't been a winner for me... I just don't like Opal, the heroine. As a result, I'm not sure when I'm going to read Spy Glass, especially given the ending (yes, bad habit!). Still, I'm not giving up on Ms Snyder as I love her writing :) Does anyone know if she has more books in this world planned? I know she has a new YA series, first book sitting in my TBR pile at home, and her next release is the 2nd book in the YA series... but I don't know what she has planned after... I really hope it's going to still be in this world, because it's a great one :)

Last One to Die by Kate Brady - Last, but not least LOL. Okay, what caught my eyes with this book was the fact that Tabitha had it on her sidebar. Then, I read the blurb and thought it was pretty interesting. Reading One Scream Away, Ms Brady's debut novel last week was just the reinforcement I need to get this book :P

There you have it :) My haul for last week. Hopefully, this week will be as fruitful LOL. How about you? What are the new books you've just gotten? and how was your week-end?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Sigh, it seems to me I've been playing catch up on my blogging the whole week. I need to blog during the day, not at night ^_^; I find that when I post at night, it counts for two days LOL. Know what I mean? Ah well, I have no plans this week-end, so I might try to work on a few posts :P

By the way, what are you all reading? I've been looking at my TBR pile and nothing calls to me.

In any case, I'm done reviewing my books in June!! Yes, Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas was the last of my June reads that I wanted to review :) You can find it here, over at Breezing Through. It's another buddy review with Ames :P See how hard-working we are? :P And soon, very soon,  I'll be current in my reviews! Well I hope :P

In the meantime, everyone, enjoy August's last week-end!! Hopefully, that means everyone will come back to their routine and action will pick up in blogland :P

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
published by St. Martin's Press in June 2010
As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted.and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man-just to avoid spinsterhood?

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul-and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep.and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love-and a passion that can't be denied.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review: The Search by Nora Roberts

I went to see Inception yesterday - which is why I didn't blog. Good movie, but I was expecting more from all the talks. Did you guys see it?

I've kind of noticed a pattern in my blogging lately - absent in the beginning of the week and trying to catch up the rest of the week ^_^; I've been dragging my feet the whole day writing this review and I don't really know why LOL. Work is better than a few weeks ago, but still busy. Especially when my boss asks me to unearth data from months ago. Seriously? Who remembers?!?

Anyway, I'm finally done and I'm happy at how the review turned out :) Actually, it makes me want to re-read some passages, so I think that's what I'm going to do before sleeping :) Enjoy!!

The Search by Nora Roberts
published by Putnam in July 2010
To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fianc and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...

Genre: Contemporary romance, mystery
Series: None

The Story: The back blurb does a very good job at describing the story and I really have nothing more to add LOL.

My Opinion: Quite frankly, I hesitated writing this review, because LOL, I don't have anything earth-shatteringly new to say about Nora Roberts or The Search. If you've read my reviews of Nora Roberts books or other bloggers' review of The Search, you know how great an author Ms Roberts is and how solidly good her books are... and The Search simply reinforces this opinion. Still, in the end, I'd like to share with everyone how much I enjoyed this book :)

I've said it many times, but it bears repeating, Ms Roberts is a great author and she consistently delivers good and solid reads. She has a very appealing writing style, simple and enjoyable, does a great job at developing characters and is an expert on relationships, dynamics and interactions. The Search is no exception and contains all the elements that have made Ms Roberts a success.

I really enjoyed The Search. I loved Fiona and Simon. She was a strong heroine that didn't let herself be pushed around, but at the same time, she wasn't so strong that she couldn't accept help when offered. She overcame the bad hand that was dealt to her and build a life filled with purpose and people. I mean, it's hard not to admire a woman like her. I especially liked the fact that if you didn't know what has happened to her, you wouldn't guess by how she lives her life. She's a survivor, not a victim and it's a really important distinction in her life. As for Simon, I loved him. Seriously, Ms Roberts definitively has a knack at writing grumpy heroes LOL. I like his grumpiness, I like the fact that he likes to be alone and doesn't like to be disturb. It doesn't make him a bad guy at all... Sure, socially, his manners could use some polish, but it usually means someone unpretentious and honest, someone solid. LOL, I like the fact that he found himself helping out and doing some nice things unwillingly and being surprised. In fact, Simon reminded me a lot of Brody in Angel Falls. Of course though, neither were perfect men... and the one thing that bothered me about Simon is his negative talking... In many instances, he talked about Jaws or had to praise him... and used some negative adjectives. It wasn't in a mean way and it wasn't enough to turn me off, just enough for me to notice ^_^; Still the man is sexy and handsome and brooding. Winning combo :P 

The Search was quite a thick book and I'm happy to report that most of it was spent developing the relationship between Fiona and Simon :) The two of them are great with each other. They don't exactly complement each other, but there is chemistry. I liked how both pushed and gave in... the key to relationship is communication and compromise and they seem to know it. What makes this relationship work as well is the timing and pacing. They both took time to get to know each other, felt the attraction and gave in, let it transform into something more. It wasn't rushed or stretched out, each moved at their own rhythm. Readers who like the relationship to be the focus will be really happy and satisfied in my opinion :)

The overall story was also interesting and well developed. I felt the mystery was more connected to the characters this time and was less random than in Black Hills, as in the motive made more sense. I also feel like Ms Roberts have read our reviews and she scaled down on the villain POVs. Perhaps the suspense could have been ante up a bit, but I was happy with it.

Another thing that Ms Roberts excels at is choosing a subject, researching it and integrating it in her stories. This time, she chose dog trainings and canine search and rescue and seriously, I learned tons about it :) LOL, owning a dog - a disciplined dog, sure is a lot of work :) There was a lot of information and some will think too much; however, for me, it's always good, because it makes the book more realistic and because the research is always very complete.

Finally, I cannot write this review without mentioning Bogart, Newman, Peck and Jaws - the dogs :D They really made me want to get a dog, but I know better LOL. The way they were written, you can feel that Ms Roberts have been around dogs in her life, because they were so real :P In any case, they were great additions to the book acting as the comedic factor, the cuteness factor and the comforting factor. All four were cute, but Jaws being the baby just made me go awwww. And the scene when Fiona brings them to the vet for their shots - Newman. Oh god, so funny! LOL.

My Grade: B+. The Search was definitively a great read that I enjoyed a lot. It was more contemporary romance than romantic suspense, which is what I've now used with her stand-alone title. However, you won't hear any complaints from me on that front :P I definitively liked Fiona and Simon and them as a couple and enjoyed their journey. If I had to rank The Search, it'd fit nicely between Black Hills and Angel Falls - more than solid, but not exhilarating. I guess very enjoyable sums it up :P

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Monthly Reads: July 2010

Okay, so no Hauling Sunday this week, as I did not buy any new books :( I did think of going to the bookstores on many occasions and ended up going once LOL, but didn't buy anything. There was no new releases I was expecting and nothing that caught my attention. Also, I've missed two TBR challenges in a row and I think it's time that me and my TBR pile get reacquainted :P Aren't you proud of my self-control? LOL.

Since there's no Hauling Sunday today, I thought perhaps working on my Monthly Reads post would be a good idea. I can't believe the month is already more than half-way over ^_^; So this post is way overdue, sigh. It's been a rough summer, but I'm getting back my groove. I'm happy at how many books I reviewed in the past few weeks :) Especially since I've been dragging my feet a lot on some of the reviews ^_^; I've finally completed the reviews for May... and I'm that close to April and June! See, catching up LOL.

Now, let's catch up on my Monthly Reads :P

1) Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh:B

2) A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr: C-

3) Crazy for Love by Victoria Dahl: B-/C+

A few months ago, Chloe Turner's life was normal and she was happy, about to get married. Everything changed though the day her scum fiancé tried to fake his death - apparently to avoid marrying her. The media sinks their teeth on the story and Chloe's life turns to hell, as they portray her as the crazy Bridezilla. Deciding that Chloe needs a breather, her best friend Jenn brings her to an island, far away from curious eyes and the media. There, Chloe meets Max who is on vacation with his brother. Max is a treasure hunter with a little quirk - he worries about everything and everyone and he's very tired of it. He is wary of starting a fling with Chloe, but attraction wins out. Unfortunately for both, reality was bound to catch up to them...

I read Talk Me Down by Ms Dahl and while I didn't love it, it was enjoyable. Thus, I was looking forward to sampling Ms Dahl's writing again. As it goes, I had no complain with the writing; however, I did with one element of the story: the media. It was so frustrating to read how the media distorted the whole story and how they portrayed Chloe. She's just a regular woman who was going to marry a guy who didn't have the guts to face his mother and call off the wedding. She's the victim here and yet, it's as if it's all her fault. I just plain hate the media and reporters ^_^; Really, I think that the media and public in real life have lost sight of what is news worthy and what's not.

The media aspect did tame my enjoyment of Crazy for Love a lot. Aside from it though, the book wasn't bad. I liked the characters, especially Max. I thought he was interesting with his problem. He simply worries about everything: if someone light a fire, that it'll spread and burn everything... if someone goes diving, that there'll be complications, etc. I would have liked Ms Dahl to focus a bit more on this and whether it got better or not. It's unfortunate that Chloe's identity was revealed so early and once Chloe and Max left the island, I felt they didn't interact enough. The relationship didn't feel solid for me... Something I did enjoy though was  enjoyed the secondary romance between Chloe's best friend and Max' brother.

In the end, the overall story wasn't bad. It had potential to be very interesting and could have been funny, since the Bridezilla thing was so overboard. Unfortunately, the media really ruined it for me. However, that's really more of a personal issue ^_^;

4) The Search by Nora Roberts: B+
Upcoming review.

5) A Groom of One's Own by Maya Rodale: C+

After Sophie Harlow was jilted on her wedding day, she needed to leave her little village to distance herself from the bad memory. One year later, she finds herself in London, making a living as a wedding reporter for The Weekly. For someone who's been jilted, this is the worst job possible... however, it's the only one available if she doesn't want to be a seamstress, governess or mistress. While running out of a wedding before having an anxiety attack, Sophie meets Mr Brandon and for the first time in a year, Sophie's hope in love is renewed... until she finds out that the handsome Mr Brandon is actually the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon and that he's actually betrothed to the perfect lady. In fact, she is going to spend one month reporting all the juicy details of the "Wedding of the Year." The Duke of Brandon does not believe in love,but he does in lust... and he believes that's the only thing he feels for Sophie. However, the more time they spend together... the harder it is for him to deny his feelings...

Read the blurb of A Groom of One's Own and it intrigued me enough to buy it. I enjoyed the writing; unfortunately, they were a few things that bothered me. Basically, it was the behaviors of the H/H. I didn't like the way they dealt with their attraction. Brandon is betrothed and about to get married and yet, he's attracted to Sophie like he's never been attracted to his fiancée and it's reciprocal. Against her better judgment, the more time she spends with the double duke, the more Sophie finds herself falling in love with him. However, she knows that nothing will come out of it... that he cannot break his engagement. Yet, instead of putting some distance between them, to cool down their attraction, Brandon and Sophie sneak around and spend time together at every opportunity. They flirted with each other in public, even in front of Brandon's fiancée, who turns out to be a very sweet girl. And it wasn't discreet at all, everyone figured it out. I thought it was callous of both of them. I know they're attracted to each other, but they should have dealt with it a different way. Brandon should have broken off the engagement or something. I hate how Sophie was hopeful and hinting at Brandon to do just so. Sophie kept saying how she didn't want Celia to be in the same situation she's been (being jilted) and yet,  her attitude told a different story. I don't like love triangles and I dislike it even more when the heroine has to "steal" the hero :( The worst though? All of Brandon's reasoning for not breaking of his engagement were just excuses. There were not a single good reasons. Money? Brandon has plenty and even paying the penalty would not have hurt him. I mean in the end, he did not hesitate very hard!

Ah well. Again, it's just a story that didn't suit me. This was my first time reading Ms Rodale and thought her writing was good and very suitable for Avon. I liked the fact that Celia, Brandon's fiancée was a nice, sweet and smart girl. She wasn't blind to the fact that Brandon wasn't in love with her and was actually interested in Sophie. She also gets her own secondary romance which was okay. Love is unpredictable and definitively cannot be planned. By the way, this seems to be the first book in a quartet series. Ms Rodale introduces us to the other Writing Girls, each with a different column in the newspapers. I do think I'll be trying out the next book if the blurb sounds interesting. So technically, this was again more: it's me and not the book issue.

6) Rushed to the Altar by Jane Feather: C-

Jasper Sullivan, Earl of Blackwater, and his two younger, twin brothers are summoned by their uncle to his sickbed. The wealthy uncle has re-wrote his will and Blackwater, who is in dire need of money, will only inherit if the three of them marry fallen women. Clarissa Astley's father has passed away recently and her uncle got custody of her little brother. She has not had news of him in months and thus, had come to London to find out what happened to him. She's worried, because if anything happens to Francis, their uncle is the one who will inherit the family fortune... Clarissa has not been staying in the best parts of London and one morning, while she was following her uncle, she runs into Blackwater. At first, Blackwater believes she is a thief and after seeing where she lives, a prostitute. She fits the criteria of his uncle and thus, Blackwater decides that she will be his fallen woman. Clarissa decides to keep up the charade as Jasper is in position to help her.

I've seen Ms Feather books on the shelves for years and finally decided to give her a try.  The story is nothing new, but it could have been very entertaining.However, I found myself a bit disappointed.I don't know, I think there was a lack of chemistry between Jasper and Clarissa. I don't really get why Jasper set his eyes on Clarissa. She was a bit different than the other women he is used to, as in she didn't bow to him because he was a duke, but otherwise? Why go to the trouble for her? I also didn't get why Clarissa went through this whole charade. Clarissa is from a good family, but when she comes to London, she finds lodging in a brothel ^_^; Jasper follows her to her lodging house and assumes she is a prostitute and strikes a deal with the Mama of the house for an exclusive relationship with her. Huh? It's one thing to find reside in a brothel, but another to let herself talk into being someone's mistress! I don't know, Rushed to the Altar just didn't do it for me ^_^; Hard to believe story, no chemistry and the ending at the end, well I just didn't believe in it.

7) Money, Honey by Susan Sey: B
Upcoming review.

8) The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg: B

9) Demon Blood by Meljean Brook: B++

10) Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber: B
Upcoming review. (Book obtained from Net Galley)

11) The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger: B+
Upcoming review.

12) All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins: B
Upcoming review.

13) SOS: Convenient Husband Required by Liz Fielding: C

May Coleridge just found out that according to her grandfather's will, she must marry before she turns 30 in order to inherit the Coleridge house. Only little hick is that her birthday is in a month. If she loses the house, she'll lose her livelihood as she has turned Coleridge into a B & B. Adam Wavell has problem of his own as well. His unreliable sister has just left her daughter - a niece that he wasn't aware of - with him, evading the baby's father and a probably custody suit, to lay low. Her only advice is to contact May for help. The problem is, May and Adam had a thing when they were in high school... however, Adam was completely humiliated by May's grandfather action and her abandonment. When he finds May's circumstances, he offers his help for hers... secretly rejoicing the opportunity to take revenge and humiliate the Coleridge's name.

I read a review over at Dear Author and was intrigued. LOL, I know, I'm easy. It's pretty much a story about marriage of convenience, old high school flame and revenge. May's grandfather was a bastard and basically made life for May difficult and set out to ruin her life by not warning her about the terms of the will. Adam never knew why May broke up with him, he thought it was because of his social status and has been nursing a small grudge. Now that he has the opportunity to show everyone what he made of himself, he doesn't hesitate... and he realizes that he's never really forgotten May. She's the one who got away. So yes, pretty typical story. I don't know, this one didn't really do it for me either. I think May and Adam had chemistry, but the timeline was too short for them to truly reconnect. Add in the secondary storyline and I just thought it was developed too quickly. Also, I don't know how Adam found out the truth of what happened in the past. It just seemed out of nowhere. One final thing that bothered me was the ending. It felt a bit rushed, especially given what happened ^_^; So not the best category I've read.

14) Burning Up by Susan Andersen: B
Upcoming review. (Book obtained from Net Galley)

15) The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells: B-
Upcoming review.

16) Whisper of Sin (Burning Up) by Nalini Singh: B+
Upcoming review.

Books bought: +15
Books read: -15.25
TBR pile: -0.25

Sorry, running out of steam ^_^; Yeah, I have a negative balance LOL. Not by much, but LOL, it's negative so I'll take it. Since Whisper of Sin was a novella, one story out of four, I decided to count it as 0.25 LOL. I'm quite happy with the number and it was read steadily throughout the month. However, looking at it, it seems I have a lot of reviews in store for you guys LOL.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

Okay, I gotta ask... Where is everyone?!?! I know, I know... I keep saying that blogland is quiet, but you have to admit it, it is! It's not just me, right? I hope everyone is enjoying the end of the summer :)

This week is going by slowly, but at least, it's almost the end. I have no plans this week-end and all my family is going to be busy... so I guess I'll just chill.

Anyway, nothing interesting going on with me LOL. So let's get on with the review :) It's over at Breezing Through and it's a buddy review of Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas with Ames. Find out what I thought of it here. Stay tuned because next week, it's going to be Love in the Afternoon :D

Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
published by St. Martin's Press in May 2010

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters-a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response-and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever-unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

Ugh, today is supposed to be the TBR Day... but guess what? Indeed, I didn't make it ^_^; I'm very bad this year with my challenges. Ah well, as long as I'm reading though, I won't complain too much LOL.

In any case, all my blogging schedule is wonky LOL. I was going to write my July monthly reads post on last Saturday, but ended up only reading and only realized on Sunday that it wasn't happening. Oups. LOL. Definitively this week-end.

A Summer in Sonoma was one of my July reads :) So at least, I'm going to be able to link some of my reviews instead of "Review to come" LOL. By the way, anyone has read the new Kresley Cole yet? What's the verdict? I'm itching to go to the bookstore and buy a book.... I'm in withdrawal I think ^_^:

Enjoy the review!

A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in June 2010
They've been best friends since seventh grade. But this summer, teetering on the threshold of thirty, four women are going to need each other more than ever.

Cassie has sworn off romance after yet another bad date. Yet deep down, she's still looking for Mr. Forever. A long-haired biker doesn't figure into her plans, so where's the harm in touring the back roads of Sonoma on a Harley with Walt Arneson?

Julie married her high school sweetheart-who can get her pregnant with a mere glance-too young and now wonders how her life became all about leaky faucets and checkbook balances. Maybe love isn't enough to sustain the hottest couple in town.

Marty's firefighter husband has forgotten all about romance, and an old flame begins to look mighty tempting.

Beth, a busy doctor trapped in a body that's betrayed her yet again, is becoming a difficult patient and a secretive friend.

Life can change in an instant... or a summer. And having old friends to lean on can only up the chances of happily ever after.

Genre: Women Fiction
Series: N/A

The Story: A Summer in Sonoma follows the lives of four women who has been friends for a decade and who are at different stages of their lives romantically. The main story would be Cassie's who was nearly raped during a date, but was luckily rescued by Walt Arneson. Walt is and looks like a biker, complete with long hair, sideburns and mustaches. Cassie seeks him out to thank him and they start a friendship, Cassie figuring it'd be safe, especially since Walt is totally not her type.

Cassie's best friend Julie is having her share of problems. Cassie might envy her because Julie has married the love of life, but that doesn't stop Julie from worrying about money. The reality is that they've started their married life broke and they just can't make ends meet, no matter how much Billy works, and the situation just worsens as there's another baby on the way.

The romance in Marty's marriage seems to be gone. She feels like she spends her time cleaning after her husband and finds him disgusting when he stays at home - not showering, not shaving and wearing his ratty favorite shorts. At least, when they were dating, he was helping out. Now, all he does is take care of the lawn and his toys - the boat and the RV. It takes Marty running into her high school's flame and entertaining fantasy of an affair or at least a one-night stand for Marty to realize how fed up she is and move out of the marital bed.

Beth is going through a really tough time. She had breast cancer a few years ago and already lost a breast... and a relationship. Unfortunately for her, the beast is awake again and roaring its head off. This time though, Beth wants none of the drama and decides to handle it on her own...

My Opinion: I was all excited when I found out that Ms Carr had another release this year, other than her Virgin River series. I love and enjoy Ms Carr's writing a lot :) However, with A Summer in Sonoma, Ms Carr marks her return to women fiction with mixed success in my opinion.

To me, A Summer in Sonoma was a hard read. Not because the writing was bad, but because of the issues Ms Carr decided to tackle and how realistic she made them. We all read for different reasons and me, is to have fun, to enjoy. When fiction become too close to reality, it makes me uncomfortable... because I start thinking too much and that's never good ^_^; There were also some decisions the characters took that I didn't agree with, but I'll get to that a bit later.

The storyline I "enjoyed" the most was Julie and Billy's. Their storyline shows readers that sometimes, love is not enough and that getting help is not a bad thing. I liked that Julie and Billy still love each other strongly and they both work for their family to make it. However, it wasn't perfect. See, when the book starts, Julie is pregnant with their fourth child - another accident baby. She's frustrated because they don't have enough money and also worry about people's perception of them as she's having another unplanned pregnancy. She just doesn't want to have the baby, because of the situation... and so when she went to the doctor for her check-up, she asks for the IUD to be removed even though it'd be safer to wait. By having the IUD removed now, she has a 50-50 chance to lose the baby... I can sympathize with Julie's situation - I don't know if I could endure that much pressure and go on as she did, and really, I'm in position to judge... but I just can't help but disagree with her decision and feel it was wrong ^_^; Especially at the end of the book, when she decides to try for another baby after Billy has had his vasectomy (because you know, he only has a few shots left). Yes, their financial situation is a bit better and they are less stressed and happier, but the way she justified it... I don't understand then why having the baby previously would have been bad.

The other storyline that was interesting was Cassie's. After I read this, I told Ames how uncomfortable A Summer in Sonoma made me, because I kind of saw myself in Cassie. She completely dismissed Walt based on his biker appearance and made assumptions about his life. Then, she befriended him and discovered what a great guy he is and started falling for him... At the end, she discovers that he's actually well-off and the reason he didn't tell her before is because he wanted her to accept him for himself and not want to change him. It made me feel shallow, because like Cassie, I would probably have dismissed Walt as a potential love interest based on his appearance. Story-wise, I think Cassie's was the best. I liked how Cassie and Walt got to know each other and started out as friends. Cassie's prejudices and assumptions bothered me a bit from time to time though. In the end, this relationship was very sweet and I'm happy Cassie and Walt both found happiness.

As for the two other storylines, initially, I thought Beth had the most potential of all... However, there was just not enough of her for me to care. Her storyline was very, very brief and we were given only some facts here and there. There's a budding romance between her and her treating doctor, but again, nothing very solid :( As for Marty's, it was just plain uninteresting compared to what the other ladies were going through. Overall, the balance between the four storylines was simply bad. I definitively felt short-changed when it came to Beth and Marty's stories. I find it annoying because it happens very often wit this type of books. Authors choose to have 3 or 4 characters that they'll follow throughout the book, but there's always one or two in that bunch that they won't be able to develop properly... Wouldn't it be better than to reduce the number and focus on the remaining more?

Also, I wished there'd been more interactions between the four ladies. Yes, they did get together and talked... but it felt superficial. There wasn't much dynamics between all four and perhaps the comparison is unfair, but I can't help but think about Ms Roberts' Bride Quartet. The four ladies in there had real complicity... which is something I felt the ladies in A Summer in Sonoma lacked and it definitively would have made the book stronger.

My Grade: C-. A Summer in Sonoma was an interesting journey. The book itself wasn't bad, but it simply wasn't my cup of tea and I was too uncomfortable to enjoy it. In the end, I might just stick to Ms Carr's contemporary romances.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hauling Sunday VIII

This week was such a great week blogging-wise. I'm telling you, I'm getting back into my rhythm and beware whatever could screw it! LOL. I've also been reading a lot, especially this week-end :) I still haven't cleaned my room yet. Sigh ^_^; The other bad news is that one of my co-workers left to go back to school... Without her, it's going to be quiet at work :( However, as a goodbye present, she gave me (yes, yes, it should be the opposite, but this was her thank-you to me because I've been giving her rides) a giftcard to the bookstore!!

Speaking of bookstore, this week was pretty quiet. I only went once, but I got the book I was looking for:

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber - This is the second book in the Lucy Valentine series. It's a fun and fluffy series, something lighter and therefore different :)

Although I only went once to the bookstore, I received a very nice package, courtesy of Tabitha :) Remember the post where I compared the US and Canadian covers of Waking the Witch? This one. So yes, I decide to get the US cover... and Tabitha kindly offered to send me a copy. Of course, that's not the only book I got from her :)

And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper - I read her Jane Jameson series and it was really fun. So when I found out that she had a contemporary coming out, I absolutely wanted to get it. Except, for some reasons, it's not readily available in Canada. You have to order it online. Wonder why.

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong - I love, love, love Kelley Armstrong... but for some reasons, I still haven't read this one. Even though I got an ARC at RT. Crazy right? I hate it when it happens. You look forward so much to a book and when you get it, you just can't seem to pick it up :(

Husband for Hire by Susan Wiggs - Very old book by Ms Wiggs. I wanted to try it out :)

Return to Me and Rescue Me by Christy Reece - Seems like I still am in a romantic suspense mood :)

A very big thank you to Tabitha, as the last 3 books are from hers :) I love the romance blogland community! :)

Oh, I'm going on a tangent here... but did you see how different the cover of Waking the Witch is? I mean, the final version and what I posted back in March? It's always fun to see the publishing house playing with covers... because that version back in March is now Jayne Ann Krentz newest release Midnight Crystal!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: Demon Blood by Meljean Brook

Are you ready for the week-end? I sure am! Work is getting much better and the week has gone by so quickly. Still, I don't mind not going to work LOL. One of my co-workers have left us to return to school :( Sigh, it's going to be really boring without her from now on...

What are your plans for the week-end? Me, the usual. Reading, blogging and cleaning LOL

Demon Blood by Meljean Brook
published by Berkley in July 2010

Long before she was transformed into a Guardian and trained to fight demons, Rosalia knew darkness all too well. Raised by a demon, Rosalia learned to guard her heart — and her soul — until she found a man worthy of her love. Once, she thought that man would be the powerful vampire, Deacon... until he betrayed the Guardians.

After losing everything to the lies of a demon, Deacon lives only for revenge — and is taken aback when Rosalia offers to help. A vampire who has nothing — who is nothing — isn’t worthy of her attention. But Rosalia wants to do more than just look, and the explosive need between them can’t be held in check. And when Deacon’s vengeful quest creates a dangerous alliance of their enemies, she will be his only hope...

Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Guardians, Book #10 (counting novellas)

The Story: Rosalia is a Guardian that has spent most of existence based in Europe where she recruited and trained vampires and oversaw vampires politics. The past year however, she has spent in the hands and fangs of the nosterafu as their unlimited food source. When she returns home to Rome, it is to find out that the vampire community has been wiped out by the nephilim. Determined not to let it happen again, Rosalia hatches a plan to destroy all nephilim... but first, she needs to unite the vampire communities and to do so, she needs Deacon.

Deacon was the leader of Prague's community until he was threatened by a demon and had to betray the Guardians. Persona non grata everywhere he goes, Deacon has only one purpose in life left: avenge his people by killing as many of Belial's demon as possible. Deacon has no interest in Rosalia's scheme, except she has intel and resources that he doesn't... and thus, he finds himself playing along.

My Opinion: All right, I should probably start by saying I didn't read Demon Forged, the book that comes before. I did skim it though and so, I didn't feel too lost. In any case, I don't think it mattered really. Demon Blood was just so good and clever, I was so absorbed by it that I needed to know what would happen next and I ended up staying up very late ^_^;

The two main characters, Rosalia and Deacon, were great. Rosalia's character especially because of her complexity and her many layers. She is extremely smart and an amazing strategist. Definitively someone that the Guardians need on their side with their small number. Her plan to destroy the nephilim was simply brilliant. Throughout the book, she had to walk a fine line, but never crossed it to become ruthless in order for her plan to succeed at any cost. She faced many tough choices, but she never shied from it and also, never lost sight of what was important and the goal. In short, her focus was amazing and it's even better that she was able to keep her integrity. What is most admirable though was her loyalty to her brother, even if he didn't deserve it, to her son and everyone she cared about. While her character was great, Rosalia isn't a character that you love. You like her, sympathize with/for her... but I think because of her actions and thinking, it's hard to love her... and that just makes her even more realistic in my opinion. So kudos to Ms Brook for writing such a character. As for Deacon, I liked him. He could be as dangerous as Rosalia, but he just doesn't have the desire for it. He's the kind of hero that is so honorable that he'll take on responsibilities because it needs to be done and not because he wants them. What he went through - losing his people and his lovers, becoming a pariah - and surviving it just shows you how strong he is... and this just reinforces his personality, not destroy it. While he was on his assignments with Rosalia, he didn't want to care, but just couldn't help it. The reluctant type is so often the best to become a leader, because you know he'll be good at it. That is exactly Deacon.

I'm really glad that Deacon and Rosalia found each other and fell for each other... because they are what each other needs. Ms Brook did a good job inserting the romance in the storyline. If you look at the overall picture, I do think the romance was the weakest aspect of Demon Blood; however, it was still very satisfying. There was two issues for me. First, the fact that Deacon seemed to overcome the loss of his two lovers. I don't know really what was the dynamics between the three and this could be because I skipped Demon Forged. Obviously, Deacon cared deeply about them, but was it love? I think it was hard for me to believe that after he's been through such a traumatic event and losing his lovers, he'd be willing to open his heart again. The second issue was the fact that Deacon believed Rosalia loved someone else... while really, she's been pining for Deacon for 80 years. I felt this is a misunderstanding the two could have done without.

The story is very interesting and complex and I really enjoyed it. It's not the twists, but how it was thought out, the planning, that makes it simply brilliant. Also, tactically, it's something that really makes sense to me. I love seeing Rosalia and Deacon visiting community after community, fighting together and getting rid of the enemy. In addition, Ms Brook is taking care of the overall story-arc. It's easy to perceive that Ms Brook knows where she's heading to, there's no necessary scene,but best of all, she doesn't sacrifice anything in order to achieve it.

Oh, those who were expecting to see Lilith and Hugh (like me!) will be a bit disappointed :( I think the only actual recurring characters that we get to see are Irena, Alek and Taylor. In the end, I think this was a great move, moving the whole storyline to Europe. It allowed Ms Brook to really focus on the vampire aspect of this world. So far, most of the books in this series have revolved around the Guardians and it isn't a bad thing... but it wasn't what Demon Blood was about. Demon Blood is predominantly about vampires and so a little distance from San Francisco was good. As for the Taylor/Michael thing... I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've never been very fond of Michael and I've only seen Taylor in Demon Angel. It'll be interesting to see what Ms Brook does with them... how she'll make it more interesting.

My Grade: Demon Blood is a B++ for me. I really enjoyed it. Ms Brook really has it all in Demon Blood and The Guardians series in general. Great world building: check; complex and interesting characters: check; clever and twisted plot: check and of course, amazing writing LOL. Perhaps the romance could have been stronger... Ultimately though, I think the fact that I couldn't love Rosalia is the reason why I can't give this an A though.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Chimera by Rob Thurman

Seriously feel like my blogging mojo is coming back! I mean, those incubation times are just great :) So, guess what? I have a review up at Breezing Through! Wooohooo! It's Chimera by Rob Thurman which you can find here, and with it, I'm a step closer to catching up on all my reviews :) Hopefully, I'll be able to catch up in the next few weeks :)

Chimera by Rob Thurman
published by New American Library in June 2010
Ten years ago, Stefan Korsak’s younger brother was kidnapped. No one knew who took Lukas, or why. He was simply gone. But not a day has passed that Stefan hasn’t thought about him. As a rising figure in the Russian Mafia, Stefan has finally found him.

But when he rescues Lukas, Stefan must confront a terrible truth – his brother is no longer his brother. He is a killer. Trained, brainwashed, and genetically transformed into a flesh-and-blood machine with only one purpose: assassination. Now those who created him will do anything to reclaim him.

As Stefan grows closer to his brother, he realizes that saving Lukas may be easier than surviving him...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: The Wish List by Gabi Stevens

Okay, I've decided to get back my blogging mojo :) The rush at work is about to slow down :) We're going back to my project and that means a lot more of incubation times. Woohoo! Hopefully, my will will be enough LOL.

First review to go!

The Wish List by Gabi Stevens
published by Tor in April 2010
Kristin Montgomery is more than a little shocked when her aunts inform her they're fairy godmothers. Worse, after dropping that bombshell they hand her a wand and head off on a world cruise. Now Kristin's uncomplicated life as a CPA in San Diego has disappeared like magic and she not only has to deal with her burgeoning magical powers, but also a reluctant-and distractingly sexy-magical arbiter.

Tennyson Ritter is a historian. A scholar by choice, he is yanked from his studies to act as arbiter for the newly chosen fairy godmother. He doesn't want to waste his time with a woman who doesn't know anything about magic or the magical world, but soon the beguiling Kristin draws him away from his books and into her life.

But before Kristin can hone her skills and pass the tests necessary to fully claim her powers, she and Tennyson must work together to defend the world - both magical and human - against those that would claim her powers for their own.

Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Time of Transition trilogy, Book #1

The Story: Kristin Montgomery has just turned 27 and is informed by her three aunts that she's a fairy godmother coming into her powers. It is the Time of Transition which means things are changing in the magical world such as fairy godmothers retiring and new ones taking up the job.

Kristin is a Rare One - someone with magical powers coming from two normal humans - and is literally trusted into the magical world. Her aunts leave on vacation, leaving her in the hand of her arbiter, Tennyson Ritter. Tennyson is a historian wizard and has been put in charge of her training and will ultimately decide whether she is qualified for the position. This is a lot to take in for a CPA. Add in a mysterious Frenchman, the death of one of the most respected wizards and a revenge conspiracy... Kristin and Tennyson are in way over their heads.

My Opinion: Lately, I've been in the mood for paranormals with characters other than vampires and shapeshifters. The Wish List fit the bill and it looked fun and fluffy, plus it was published by Tor :) So I decided to give it a try.

I have to say, I really liked the premises of this book. I thought the idea of fairy godmothers was refreshing and fun. Unfortunately, I don't think Ms Stevens carried it out to its full potential and a lot of it had to do with the story/pacing.

The characters were okay. Kristin is a CPA who is suddenly dropped in a world she had no idea existed. Of course, there is some denial at first, but then she tries to adjust and adapt. Kristin pretty much has the typical reaction of other characters in the same situation. What was nice is that the action picked up quickly and Kristin was open-minded enough, so the mourning of her old life was kept to a minimum. Truth is though, I actually liked Tennyson a bit more. He's the grumpy hero type and is definitively not charming LOL. A bit too direct and honest, but still a nice guy :)

The story was okay; in fact, it was actually pretty interesting. Basically, several decades ago, a bad fairy godmother was imprisoned because she wanted to take over the mortal world. While imprisoned, she manipulated one of the guards and it resulted in a son being born. Time of transition comes around every 70 years (I think) and is the time period where the magic world is the most susceptible to change... Thus, the bad guy plans his attack and ultimately wants to release his mother so they can overtake the world. Muahaha :P In order to do so, he needs to corrupt the new fairy godmothers and thus, sets out to woo Kristin. Actually sounds like there's potential right? The problem though is that it was not executed to its full potential. I think the biggest reason why is that Ms Stevens did a poor job at blending everything together: the world building, the action and the romance. There was a lot of world building information to convey and she did so throughout the book, but not smoothly enough. The biggest thorn though was the romance. Sparks fly between Tennyson and Kristin, but it was more a cat and dog interaction. You know, the kind where the H/H don't like each other, but can't help being attracted to each other? That wasn't bad in itself, but my issue is that Kristin and Tennyson fell in bed together very quickly and early in the book... It pretty much felt like Ms Stevens got them together as quickly as possible so she could focus on the revenge conspiracy and the action. You know, getting it out of the way. Sure, there were some quibbles between Kristin and Tennyson during the rest of the story that passed as a relationship, but in the end, it just wasn't romantic enough and fulfilling. I did like the slight twist at the end though regarding home which is foreshadowing a very happy ending... but for now, it seems like we'll see more of Kristin and Tennyson in the future books.

Overall, I thought the book was a bit bland. The wow factor just wasn't there. It's really unfortunate, because the premises and ideas were good, but the writing simply didn't measure up :( The voice was engaging, but I guess what I'm saying is The Wish List wasn't smooth enough... still had too many rough edges to it.

My Grade: After reading it, I gave it a B-. Upon writing this review though, I feel it's more of a C. So I'm going to average it out to C+.  There are obvious flaws to The Wish List; however, it was interesting enough to keep me reading and to want to try the next book in trilogy coming out next year.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Hauling Sunday VII

My plan this week-end was to relax: read and blog basically LOL. Turns out, I went on an impromptu visit with my sister to my uncle and his family in Quebec City. I had a great time - it's always fun to hang out with family :) However, that means little reading and no blogging... Sigh, that means my Monthly Reads post is going to be very late again. Ah well.

At least, I'll be on time for this post :P Very limit, but still on time :) Here are my purchases for the week, thanks for a "Buy 2, get the 3rd free" promo from Chapters/Indigo! Yay!

Looks like this week, I was in a romantic suspense mood :P

Deadly Fear by Cynthia Eden - I've been hearing a lot of good about Ms Eden and so, I wanted to give her a try. I'm a bit burned out on paranormal romance, so I elected to go with this one :)

Dangerous Desires and Desperate Deeds by Dee Davis - Like I said, I was in a romantic suspense kick. I already got Dark Deceptions and I thought "why not?" Better be prepared in case I love Dark Deceptions :)

Her Last Chance by Michele Albert - I have the first two or three books in this series, but still haven't read them. This one caught my attention because it's an ex-cop vs a FBI agent :) Rivalry can be a very good premise... and very hot as well :P

The Reckoners by Doranna Durgin - Looks like part paranormal, part urban fantasy, part sci-fi. My choice is based a bit on the fact that the publisher is Tor and it sounds different :)

Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings - I read Pursuit and enjoyed it a lot. Looking forward to this new release :)

Overall, a pretty good week buying-wise :) I almost picked up Veil of Night by Linda Howard as well on Friday... but I stopped myself (I was at the bookstore, literally with the book in hand - it wasn't easy!).I really like the premise of it, it sounds to me liked a grounded story. However, I'm just not sure it's worth the HC price. So I'm going to be patient *gasp* and wait for reviews... so please people, hurry up! :)

Friday, August 06, 2010

My poor, unlucky book...

Remember this post? Well guess what happened yesterday?

It's been very humid in the past few days and yesterday was just a killer. So after work, I picked up my sister who was downtown for some shopping. Our rendez-vous place? Chapters :P I wanted to see whether they had Veil of Night by Linda Howard out yet, but I think it's a strict date release. Anyway, I ended up buying some drinks at Starbucks, because of the heat... Unfortunately for us, we got there during the rush, so it took about 10 minutes.

We're walking back to the car and I handed my drink, a green tea frappuccino, so I could get in the car freely. I slammed the door closed... and splash, there was this explosion of liquid!! Turns out, my sister put her and my drinks on the roof of the car so she could open her door, and when I closed mine, it fell ^_^; Her door was open so a lot of it got into the car... on the passenger seat, but some even splashed me... and my book which was between the seats. Guess which book it was? Yep, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan ^_^; Sigh, poor book. This is the second time it's getting some green tea frappuccino on ^_^; Talk about luck, right?

I went back to Chapters to get some napkins and throw our empty cups... and since the rush was over, I bought the drinks again LOL. This time though, we were very careful getting in the car. My sister felt so bad, but hey, it's my fault too. I don't know why I gave her my drink as I still got one hand free... and I knew she had the drinks on the roof ^_^; Ah well, stuff happens. However, I think for The Red Pyramid's security, I should not have a green tea frappuccino again when I read it LOL.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Review: Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas

I've realized that I've been complaining a lot about the job and I'm really sorry to bore you all with that ^_^; Instead of letting it beat me down though, I'm really going to try to put my stuff together and find my mojo again :D

Here is a review I've been meaning to write for a long time. I hope you all enjoy it :)

Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas
published by Berkley in June 2010

Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She's never had a real home of her own, but maybe she can borrow someone else's. At least for a little while...

At the nursing home where Reagan works, Miss Beverly Truman's fond memories of Harmony, Texas, seem to fill an empty space inside the girl. After Miss Beverly passes away, Reagan travels to Harmony, pretending to be the woman's granddaughter, and is taken into the home of Beverly's surviving brother.

Still, Reagan is afraid to trust the gruff kindness shown to her by Jeremiah Truman and the warm friendship offered by another teenager named Noah, who dreams of being a rodeo star. She keeps her distance from Noah's sister, Alex McAllen, who's the town sheriff and busy with her own stormy relationship with volunteer fire chief Hank Matheson.

But when prairie fires threaten Harmony, Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Harmony, Book #1

The Story: The book is pretty much as described in the back blurb. Reagan is 16 with no family and no roots, but she longs for some. She had a friendship with Beverly Truman who shared the stories of her hometown with Reagan and after Beverly's death, Reagan decides to go to Harmony to find a home. Everyone ends up believing that she's a Truman and thus, she goes and lives with Jeremiah Truman, a lonely, gruff, difficult old man.

While Reagan makes herself at home, readers discover the little town of Harmony. Back in the days, there were three family founders: the Truman, the McAllen and the Matheson. All three families are still there, interacting with each other...

My Opinion: I fell in love with Ms Thomas writing after reading Twisted Creek (review here and here). I just loved that book, there was something about it... something very soothing :P After that, I devoured all of Ms Thomas contemporary books :)

I was so glad to hear about Welcome to Harmony. I was very much looking forward to it, especially as it got very good reviews from Holly and Tracy. Unfortunately, Welcome to Harmony didn't wow me as it did them. I wanted to love it so much... In the end, I still enjoyed it, but I thought something was missing. I think it has a lot to do with the fact this is the first book in a continuous trilogy. I'm guessing that perhaps if I read the three books one after the other instead of waiting, I would enjoy it a lot more.

Welcome to Harmony is not a contemporary romance per se. There is romance, but it's not the focus. Instead, Welcome to Harmony is all about the readers embarking on a journey to discover the town, its inhabitants and their relationships. A bit à la Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr... but Ms Thomas brings in something different with her writing and voice. I feel like all the storylines meshed better.

I really liked Reagan. I thought she was a very brave girl, going after what she wanted... and she was willing to work for it, to make it work. I enjoyed her budding friendship with Noah and I'm really looking forward to see where it's going to lead. Noah was simply a sweet boy with dreams of his own :)

My favorite part of the story was Reagan's relationship with Jeremiah. Everyone considers him as a bitter, difficult man... but in truth, I think he's just lonely. Life hasn't been easy for him and when Reagan comes along, he doesn't ask her too many questions and just takes her under his wing. I loved those kind of relationships, because it proves that you make your own family. It is also always so touching to see a young person bond with an older one.

I'd say my least favorite part of the story was the relationship between Hank and Alex. I didn't like the way Alex acted out... It has to do with her older brother's death and yes, it hit her hard... but I don't know. Hank was a great guy and lucky for her, he never gave up on her. Poor man though, surrounded by women LOL. Loved his relationship with his niece, it was very telling... but I think he needs to be more strict with the others - his mom, aunts and sisters.

There is one last storyline involving Tyler, the funeral home director. I thought his storyline was very interesting. How life goes by something without you realizing it and there you are, 40 years old and all alone. I do hope it will work out for him. Sigh.

With Welcome to Harmony, Ms Thomas created a very interesting world and attaching characters. I liked how realistic it felt, although some aspects made me feel uncomfortable. Harmony is a small town and so, making a living can be difficult at time. Like Hank and Jeremiah, depending on their lands... and with fires raging, they can lose everything in a second. They live a very hard-working life... It usually doesn't hit you as much when the characters are professionals with careers... I mean, yes, they are broke, but you know they'll rebound. However, when people depend on lands and what they hunt... it's more difficult. So yes, I liked how realistic it was, but at the same time, I couldn't help but worrying about them and their future ^_^; I guess it says something about Ms Thomas writing :)

My Grade: B. Overall, I thought Welcome to Harmony was a solid opening to the trilogy. It was all about the town, its people and their interactions and Ms Thomas did a great job. I'm really looking forward to the next two books (Somewhere Along the Way is coming out in November). It didn't wow me liked I wanted, but I don't think it has anything to do with the world building or writing, but everything to do with it being the first book of a trilogy. While it ended on a positive note, you know there is a lot more to come... Sometimes, it doesn't matter when you read the next book in a series, but other time... it's better to read them all at once and that's how I felt about Welcome to Harmony.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Re-Read Challenge 2010: July!

Time is really flying ^_^; I know I say this almost every month, I seriously cannot believe that July is over yet. Do you know what this mean?!? That the summer is almost over! It's really heart-breaking :(

I've been mentioning a contest/draw for the past two months and I never got around to put my stuff together. I'm really, really, really sorry ^_^; I don't mean not to keep my words, but all I can come up with is that work is killing me. Sucking all my energy like a vampire. Sigh. So I apologize ^_^; As soon as I find my motivation and energy again... I'll do something huge, probably because I'm going to be so damn happy about it.

In the meantime, this is the end of the month and so it means Re-Read Challenge. Tell you the truth, I didn't do a re-read this month. It really goes with my mood, seriously ^_^; The month started out great for me, but in the middle, I kind of hit a wall and it took me forever to just read a category romance. How pathetic is that? I was afraid of slipping into Slumpville, so I didn't force the re-read. I'll try to make it up though. While I didn't make it, others did... want to know who? :P

Miss Moonlight: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Hilcia: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Leslie: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Hauling Sunday VI

Sigh, last week started out awful and got me really down :( Luckily, it ended it on a good note, except for the fact that it's a long week-end and I had to work yesterday and will be in tomorrow. Sigh. Definitively time to look for a new job.

I have lots of posts to write, being the end of the month and hopefully, I'll get it done :P Blogland has been kind of quiet, but hey, I haven't been at the peak of my game either... so not a complaint, just an observation :) I'm really hoping to get back into the game soon. It's just that work is killing me.

I did a quick stop at the bookstore this week :) Had to hand in my new list to James for August and September. Seriously, is it me or the rest of the year has very little releases?!? While I was the bookstore, I picked up

Burning Up is an anthology and I want because of Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook. This also is the start of Ms Brook's new steampunk romance series :P

Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy - Third book in the Fast Track series featuring Ryder and Suzanne :P I've been curious about them :P

The good news was that both these were paperback releases. That was a surprise, because I was expecting both to be trade-size for some reasons. Well in any case, my wallet was pretty happy :)

All right, well there's another sale at the bookstore, this time buy 2, get the 3rd free :P So I'm heading there right now to cheer myself up :) Then, I'll come home to work on reviews, new releases, re-read  challenge posts... and my CV ^_^;

Hope you're having a good week-end :P