Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep

So, guess what? I signed up for the gym again this year and today was the first day I went to work out. I still don't like it at all, but I really need to move and do something as I've gained even more weight :( At least, this time, my sister signed-up with me... so hopefully, we'll be able to motivate each other.

Aside from that, nothing much is going on in my life. I was hoping to get this review up earlier, but now is not too late :) I hope you enjoy!!

By the way, who plans to wake up to watch the royal wedding? LOL, I know I won't, but apparently, my sister and mother are going to try :P

***Warning: There are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!***

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep
published by Simon & Schuster
I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.

But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead.

Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too.

The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling... or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Elemental Assassin series, Book #4

The Story: Tangled Threads takes place only a few weeks after the events of Venom in which the Spider, i.e. Gin, has declared war to Mab Monroe. As Ashland's underground lord, Mab is not about to let herself being threatened and has taken the necessary measures against Spider - hiring an assassin of her own, Elektra LaFleur. LaFleur fits right in Mab's crowd as not only is she good at killing people, but also enjoys it. However, the Spider is not the only name on LaFleur's list and when it comes to Bria, Gin's long-lost sister, all bets are off. Also, Gin continues to struggle whether to let Bria know of her identity, as both Genevieve and the Spider. As if she has not enough things on her plate to deal with, there is also this new relationship with Owen Grayson... the man who seems to accept who and what she is and is content...

My Opinion: Overall, as a fan of this series, I was satisfied after reading Tangled Threads. I think that Ms Estep did a good job and delivered a solid installment. However, as a reader, the more I thought about this book, the more I had issues with it ^_^; I'm not going to go too much into the details of the storylines or the characters because I've gone through it in the previous reviews :)

As a fan, I was satisfied because I enjoyed the story that was told; it was interesting, fast-paced, action-packed and a nice continuation from the previous events. I enjoyed the characters and their dilemmas, especially Gin. There's a lot going on in her life and she also has to worry about Bria and her new relationship with Owen. All in all, I liked how everything was handled and resolved. I liked seeing the familiar faces - Gin is having quite the entourage for an assassin :) I also liked that some light was shed on some issues - that's always nice. Also, I thought that Bria's reaction to Gin's identity was quite realistic and obviously, she'll need time to come to terms with it which I guess is what we'll see in the next book.

My favorite part of the book was without doubts the growing relationship between Gin and Owen. It bothers me a little that Gin is still so uncertain of Owen - especially since the man has been such a rock, but then it's only been a few weeks they've been together. I really like Owen and he's really what Gin needs. He doesn't condemn her and understand the path she's taken. I'm actually surprised though, I thought Owen was a bit darker and grimmer than he really is. In any case, it's a joy to see their relationship deepens.

All in all, I think that if you've enjoyed the series so far, you'll like Tangled Threads :) Ms Estep takes what has worked in the first three books and continues with it in Tangled Threads which explains why this is a good installment... At the same time, it's essentially where my first issue lies. There's nothing new to Tangled Threads. In the beginning, I felt that the writing style and the character were refreshing and original; however, after three books, they've become familiar. This is not a bad thing, familiar is good, but it also means that you have to compensate somewhere else and this is usually done through details or storylines. Unfortunately, there hasn't been many twists and surprises in the Elemental Assassin series. It seems to me, when Ms Estep sat down and thought of this series, she wrote down an outline of the main events that would happen and she's been sticking to that outline a bit too closely and too much to the point. And because of this, the series has become a tad too predictable. I mean, at the end of Web of Lies, when the new detective is mentioned, I knew right away it would be Bria. From the events in Venom, I knew that Bria would learn of Gin's identities in Tangled Threads... In the next book, I know that there will be a big show-down with Gin whose magic has grown so much and Mab. What I'm saying is that there's not enough subtlety in Ms Esptep's writing. If it's in the story, then there's a reason to it and from there, you can extrapolate and there's not a thousand possibilities ^_^; While it doesn't stop me from enjoying this series and Tangled Threads, I think it is holding back the storyline from being an absolute wowzer.

The other issue I had with Tangled Threads and this one with a lesser impact was the amount of recaps the book had. Gosh. I understand the need to remind the readers and inform the newcomers what has happened, but in this case, it was too much and simply bogged down the storyline and probably made the book thicker by 1/3 ^_^; Usually, main lines are fine but in Tangled Threads' case? It was every single event of importance from Spider's Bite to Venom: Fletcher's death, Gin's past, all the secondary characters, Donovan Caine, the previous books storylines, Gin's magic and so on. Really too much! Obviously, Tangled Threads cannot be read as a stand-alone and I'm sorry but for those who have short memory, well too bad for you!

My Grade: At first, after reading Tangled Threads, I was going to give it a B+. However, upon reflection and to be fair, it's really a B. I enjoyed Tangled Threads, there's no question about it; it was definitively a solid installment. Unfortunately, there are issues that cannot be overlooked and need to be rectified if the 5th and final book is going to be a wowzer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Woohoo, a review! About time, right? LOL. I had plans this week-end about blogging and blog-hopping... and I ended up sleeping ^_^; Ames says it's because I was so tired because of the presentation, and I guess yes, I was... but I don't know, it's unfortunate, no? ^_^;

Anyway, here is my review of Chasing Fire! A week late, but at least, I've written it :) Hopefully, there'll be more to come this week! Enjoy!

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
published by Putnam in April 2011

Little else in life is as dangerous as fire jumping. Flying past towering pillars of smoke, parachuting down to the edge of an all-consuming blaze, shoveling and sawing for hours upon hours, days at a time, all to hold the line and push back against the raw power of Mother Nature.

But there's also little else as thrilling - at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are one of the most exclusive fire-fighting squads in the nation, and the job is in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend in the field. She's been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home - even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air.

Fortunately, this year's rookie crop is among the strongest ever - and Gulliver Curry's one of the best. He's also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kid's arcade. He came to Missoula to follow in the footsteps of Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, yet he's instantly more fascinated by his hero's daughter. Rowan, as a rule, doesn't hook up with other smoke jumpers, but Gull is convinced he can change her mind. And damn if he doesn't make a good case to be an exception to the rule.

Everything is thrown off balance, though, when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year's tragedy. Rowan knows she can't complicated things with Gull - any distractions in the air or on the ground could be lethal. But if she doesn't find someone she can lean on when the heat gets intense, her life may go down in flames.
Genre: Contemporary romance, Romantic suspense
Series: None

The Story: Rowan Tripp is the heroine of Chasing Fire. With her mother walking out when Rowan was still a baby, it's only natural that she has a very close relationship with her father, Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, whose been her life pillar. Following into his footsteps just seemed the thing to do and as a result, Rowan has been jumping since her 18th birthday and is one of the most experienced smoke jumper there is. However, this new season is different. Everyone is still reeling from last year's tragedy when one of theirs died in the fire; especially Rowan as it was her partner for that jump... but life goes on, fires have to be put out and the new crop of rookies to train.

Gulliver Curry has been a hotshot firefighter for a number of years in California. However, his ultimate goal is to become a smoke jumper like the Iron Man Tripp and that's why he's come to Montana. Meeting his ideal woman in Rowan is just a bonus. Although Rowan has a rule about not hooking up with people she works with, that'll only mean Gull will have to use his charms and convince her he's worth breaking the rule for.

As the season advances, the relationship between Rowan and Gull deepens. Unfortunately, this season, Rowan and Gull, the whole team and community have more than the fires to deal with: murders, sabotages and accidents... The questions are who is being this and why?

My Opinion: LOL, I guess I could have skipped the synopsis, since it's not offering much more than the blurb ^_^; What's great about Nora Roberts is picking up one of her books, you know what to expect: great characters and interactions/dynamics, excellent writing, a nice romance, good research and an interesting plot. Personalities, details and setting change, but the recipe is the same because it works. The only question you got to ask is "how much will I enjoy this?" For me, I've found that as long as I don't binge on Ms Roberts books, her books work for me and Chasing Fire was no exception :)

I enjoyed Chasing Fire. I think what made this book for me were the characters, especially the H/H. I thought Rowan was unusual, different. She's tough, very straightforward and has a temper :P And I'm not talking about grumpy temper, but more like she doesn't let people walk over her and really, good for her :) That scene where she discovers what Dolly has done and goes after her? I thought it was great LOL. I also really liked her relationship with her father - I love daddy's girl, perhaps because I'm one - and really, it's so natural for Rowan and Lucas since they were each other's life center. I thought that Rowan's reaction to Lucas meeting someone, especially since it was the first time, was very realistic and very well handled. While I liked Rowan, I loved Gull!! LOL. He was just such a great guy - charming, nice and patient. The way he wooed Rowan - *swoon* LOL. He really was great and I thought balanced, complemented Rowan very well. It was just great to see the two of them interact and Gull making Rowan realizes thing in his fun, casual way. They made for a very nice romance, in my opinion.

Before getting my hands on Chasing Fire, I looked for some reviews and found out that some people thought there were too much material about smoke jumpers. I do agree that sometimes, Ms Roberts get carried away with her research; however, in this case, it didn't bother me at all. I felt the amount of details and scenes set the atmosphere and the pacing really well for Chasing Fire. I didn't really know much about smoke jumpers before this book, but from reading it, I know that the season is really intense, tiring, non-stop and thrilling... and I felt Ms Roberts did a great job at conveying this to the readers by the amount of research she included in the storyline. Yes at times, I would have liked to know what some of the abbreviations/acronyms meant ^_^; But like I said, it didn't really bother me. Though I do think it took away from other aspects of the book a little such as the secondary characters. Oh, we are introduced to a colorful cast - I especially liked Dobie LOL - , but they didn't seem to be as well developed as they usually are. I also felt the relationship between Lucas and Ella was a bit rushed or at least, didn't get too much screen time, but overall it still worked well in the story.

As for the overall storyline, the intrigue, it was okay. Ms Roberts makes it works. Unfortunately, I have the very bad habit of reading the ending ^_^; So I can never guess who the culprit is, because I already know... However, I think that in the end, everything was tied up well and made sense.

My Grade: B. All in all, I think that once again, Ms Roberts delivered a solid book and I'm a happy camper :) If I had to rank Chasing Fire, I'd say that I enjoyed it more than Black Hills, but it wasn't as good as The Search :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hauling Sunday XL

Happy Easter everyone!!

Who here celebrates? For me, Easter is a nice 4-days long week-end and I'm sure going to take it LOL. Sorry I've been MIA last week. That presentation really took a lot of my time and even after I was done, I was beat ^_^; Notice that it's when we or actually I have a plan/schedule for blogging during the week that things happen and my plans go awry. Ah well. Should stop me from planning, right? LOL.

All right, let see. The presentation went okay. I got cut, because I was over-time; we were on a very strict timeline, especially since we were already 40 minutes late because of the fire alarm and ensuing evacuation ^_^; The presentation was supposed to be only 7 minutes, but even reading very, very, very fast, I was at 8 minutes. So getting cut was unavoidable... not that I really cared. I think what mattered is that we got our results out there, people in the department got to know what we were working on... and in any case, my presentation was almost identical to my co-worker's. Actually, our work is the same, just different context. And he won a prize :) So that was all good for the lab! (I was not in the running, because I'm a research assistant, not a student or resident, but then not being able to finish my presentation, I doubted I could have won anyway...) Otherwise, it was a nice day and the dinner was great :)

Now, onto books right? Well I was lucky to score some books quite early this time around... and the books are:

Dark Descendant by Jenna Black - This book caught my attention with its cover and the blurb. Love, love the cover and the story is about children of gods, a bit a la Riordan, but for grown-up :) Plus, I've been wanting to try Ms Black's writing, but her other series didn't seem to suit me.

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep - A given, no question asked :)

Master of None by Sonya Bateman - This book has been on my radar since it was released last year. It's the cover, I really love the wolf on it :) I just wasn't sure on the story... The second book has been released and well, reviews have been favorable. Plus, both Dark Descendant and Tangled Threads were Simon & Schuster Urban Fantasy novel... so I thought another wouldn't hurt if it's in the same vain. Yes, that's my logic LOL.

So yes, instead of memorizing my presentation, all I wanted to do was read... which is what I did LOL. Dark Descendant and Tangled Threads were both quick reads and enjoyable books and reviews to come :P However, now that my presentation is done and I have time to read - 4-days long week-end!! - I'm kind of hitting a wall and I'm not feeling the books I'm picking up. Sigh. You know, stress is not good, but post-stress seems worst! The good thing though is that there's still a week to April :)

By the way, I have a little ERRATUM for last week... Chasing Fire was not the only book I've bought. Indeed, I forgot that I picked up at the UBS:

The Texan's Reward by Jodi Thomas - Seems like reading the Texas trilogy by Lorraine Heath has put me in the mood of western... Who would have thought LOL. I've had Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas in my TBR pile for a couple of years and decided to give it a go. One of the interesting character in that book for me was Lacy, which gets her story in Texan's Luck... but only found The Texan's Reward.

So yeah, that's my week. Book-buying-wise, it was great, because I really scored some of the books early... but hey, I can always hope for an even better one, right? :) What about you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Presentation Jitters

Hey everyone!

how are you all doing? Hopefully, better than me. I thought I'd have time to put up a review yesterday or today, but instead, been busy with the presentation ^_^; The seminar starts today at 1pm and I'm scheduled to talk at around 5pm... It's only 7 minutes long, but I have a lot of material. So far, the presentation is not totally memorized yet and I have to speak really, really, really fast ^_^; We'll see how it turns out. Another problem is staying awake during others' presentation... but given the jitters, that should be feasible LOL. Then, the event is capped with a dinner and award presentation (for which I'm not in the running because I'm a research assistant - boo!)... so yeah, this day is long and means I'm probably not writing a review tonight either :(

Anyway, have you been reading anything good? I've just finished Dark Descendants by Jenna Black and Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep and have enjoyed both books very much :) Think I'm on a roll... hopefully, it'll continue :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXIX

I hope everyone had a very nice week-end! Me, it was the week-end from hell :( This Wednesday, I have a 7 minutes presentation and I had to work on it the whole week-end. Even had to go to the lab, because my boss will not be in for the next two days. Ugh, nothing worst than having to go to work during the week-end, really :( As a result, not only am I tired (because I waited till the last minute to work on the presentation), but my reading has suffered greatly as well. I don't think it'll recover till after the presentation :( Luckily, beginning of the month was great.

All right, all right. The whole week-end wasn't too bad LOL. I did find a new manga that I'm really enjoying. It's called Bartender and it's about, well, a bartender LOL. Seriously, mangaka can make everything interesting. I've also started watching TVB new series, Relic of an Emissary. Yes!!! Finally some decent fighting scenes!!! It's really cool to watch, because it's really about the choreography of the moves. I wished they'd have taken out the special effects completely, but at least, they've kept it to a minimum. The costumes are okay, looks a bit too fake, and the story is quite interesting :)

What about you?

On the book buying front, I was once again a good girl. Okay, not totally true. I did only get one book...

LOL, I don't need to tell you why I got this, right? :) The only thing is I had already pre-ordered a copy online... but it didn't arrive on Tuesday and for some reasons, I was really, really, really in the mood to read Chasing Fire... so I bought a copy at the store ^_^; Yeah, I know, I have absolutely no patience... but hey, it was kind of justified, since I finish reading Chasing Fire before my pre-ordered copy arrived on Friday. In any case, I was a good girl and did go and return the pre-ordered copy...

Totally me, right? LOL. Just because I've been through all this trouble, expect my review for Chasing Fire this week! :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Sugar Creek by Toni Blake

Nothing much going on with me, except I swear, my boss is going to drive me crazy with next week's presentation. Ugh, I've been working on the powerpoint slides the whole week and gosh, he is so picky. Ugh. Otherwise, I'm really looking forward to the week-end... except that I have to go through the clinic first, sigh. Ah well, can't have it all, right? :)

Sugar Creek by Toni Blake
published by Avon in May 2010
Welcome to Destiny, Ohio—where two families have been at odds as long as anyone in town can remember.

Rachel Farris returned to her childhood home with one mission in mind: get Mike Romo out of her family's apple orchard business and out of their lives. But hard-nosed and totally hot Mike, who happens to be the law in Destiny, is convinced the Farris clan stole the land from his family fifty years ago and he's not backing down. Even when shapely trouble shows up in a pair of designer blue jeans. However, neither the hunky cop nor the sexy prodigal hometown girl can anticipate the electricity that heats things up whenever they're together — adding new sizzle to an ongoing feud that's raged for generations, and soon putting both their hearts at risk.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Destiny series, Book #2

The Story: The last thing Rachel Farris wants is to return to Destiny to help her grandmother with this year's apple harvest, especially when the advertising company she works for is down-sizing and her job is on the line. However, Rachel doesn't have much choice even though she suspects the real reason she was called is that Edna is lonely. Unfortunately, she has not even made it back yet that she is pulled by sexy, hunky cop Mike Romo. For three generations, the Farris and Romos have been feuding over the Farris' orchard, although neither Rachel and Mike know how it all started. Between the feud and the speeding ticket, let just say Rachel and Mike are off to a bad start... and things don't get better when Rachel learns that Mike has intentions to buy the orchard from Edna... Despite everything though, sparks fly between the two and when the two give in to passion, fireworks explode. However, Mike is rooted to Destiny because of his past and Rachel can't wait to go back to Chicago...

My Opinion: Okay, I love contemporary romance - it's my favorite genre - and really, these days, they're getting scarcer and rarer... So I should be jumping all over Ms Shalvis, Ms Phillips, etc. However, I don't know if it's me being too picky or what, but most of them are misses for me and seriously, it is so frustrating! Unfortunately for me, Ms Blake and Sugar Creek fall into the miss category :(

For Sugar Creek, it wasn't so much Ms Blake's writing style that bothered me, but the heroine. I really had issues with Rachel. It wasn't so much her personality - I think that in that aspect, Rachel was your typical career-orientated woman who made it from a small town to a big city. She's strong and determined, enjoys her success, the sophistication of her life and is reluctant to come back to Destiny. Fair enough. However, what bothered me is that it seems to me Rachel didn't care about family or more specifically, Edna. Yes, Rachel is often helping out her relatives financially, and yes she loves Edna... but when you look at what she has done for Edna over the year, it all felt like empty words. Seemed to me, Rachel was so absorbed in her life and the big city to realize what was going on with her grandmother.

For example, Edna is elderly and has to take care of the orchard and nobody helps her. Really? Like Rachel has to be summoned in order for her to take some time off and go help and apparently, over the years, different cousins/relatives have had their turns. It just felt totally wrong for me. How hard would it be for each of them to take some time off to head for Destiny to help out? That way, everyone would be helping out and would spend time with Edna. Sounds like the perfect solution, right? However, definitively not the case, since Rachel has not returned to Destiny once since she left. Also, Rachel was not even aware of the yearly apple festival - that Edna implemented by the way - that kept the orchard afloat. How could you not be aware of it when it's been going on for 10 years. It just showed me how disconnected Rachel was from Edna and I really wonder if Rachel cared for Edna that much. Also, the suspicions that Rachel had about Edna making up stories about her weak knees because she was lonely - that rubbed me the wrong way as well. Even if Edna did make up story, if her relatives were taking better care of Edna, perhaps she wouldn't be so lonely and wouldn't have to make up the stories. Anyway, to me, it was just wrong and it really affected the way I felt about Rachel. Couldn't bring myself to love her character :( Another bad point is when Rachel learned that Mike wanted to buy the orchard and Rachel was so outraged. Well really, none of her family is interested in the business... so what did she expect? It was just frustrating.

Other than that, well I didn't really connect with Mike either. I didn't get a feel for him. Yes, his character was developed, but his past and his reasons for being a cop and all, it just didn't reach me. The romance was okay, I mean two persons that dislike each other, but can't help but be attracted and start a fling. Then, they deny that it's becoming more serious. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything I haven't read and without characters that stood out, well the romance didn't either. The sex scenes were hot though :) Plus, I did like Edna's character and her story :) Edna was a hoot, but also one tough lady. I think Rachel learned a lot from Edna throughout the story and that will only make her a better person :) The friendships - Rachel with her best friends, reconnecting with high school friend and Mike with his respective best friend - really add to the book as well :)

My Grade: C. This book was not badly written or anything. It's simply that I didn't love the H/H, didn't connect with them and thus, it was a miss for me. There is just so much the writing, setting and secondary characters can do to save a book.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Woohoo, I finished this review! When I woke up this morning, I thought I needed a review for the blog today and I knew I wanted to review River Marked. However, I didn't have time at all during the day to work on it... Then, today, I got home late and I also got my hands on Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts... Plus, I have some articles to read for work... so yeah, I was really doubting whether I'd be able to finish this review or not... but guess what? Yeah, screw the articles ^_^; I'll try to read them tomorrow morning instead. Yes, I'm such a bad little worker ^_^; but really, 24 hours in a day is definitively not enough!

Otherwise, life is the usual. I have another presentation next week (boooo!!) - hence, the literature readings :( Plus, I've been working on slides - sigh, my boss can really be picky ^_^; And I don't know if it's because of the presentation, but I've had a little BPPV relapse :( Been feeling fine for the past two weeks and oups, since Sunday, the vertigo came back :( It's not too bad, phew... but still very annoying, grrr. Luckily, my reading is going strong... Actually, very strong, so life is good :) And when reading is good, life is good... at least for me LOL.

Okay, I'll let you get to the review! Enjoy!

*Warning: I usually do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum in my reviews. However, it wasn't possible for this one. Therefore, read at your own risk!

River Marked by Patricia Briggs
published by Berkley in March 2011

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercedes Thompson series, Book #6

The Story: River Marked takes place not too long after the events of Silver Borne and opens with Mercy and Adam's wedding :) Then, for their honeymoon, Adam has organized a camping trip to Columbia Gorge. However, it turns out that the fae have not suggested the location out of good will; instead, they have been sent there because one of the fae had a vision and feels that something big will happen and that Mercy and Adam need to be there. Mercy and Adam quickly figure out that something is wrong... especially when they rescue a terrified man from the Columbia River. However, they never could have expected the River Devil, a creature from Native's myth able to yield some powerful magic. Luckily for Mercy, she won't be facing the monster on her own as she has the help of someone she never expected to meet... her father.

My Opinion: All right, onto the review. First, I'm really sorry about the spoilers, but I feel it was really hard to recap the book without them ^_^; True, the blurb was able to, but seriously, you don't really get a sense of the story from it, in my opinion.

Hmmm, there was some good and some bad in River Marked, but all in all, the good far outweighed the bad. Overall, I think the storyline was good and well executed, with a good pacing and lots action like most Mercy books... However, ultimately, I feel the storyline didn't matter that much, because the lure of River Marked was something else - Mercy's origins.

Still, I liked how the book started with some fun scenes - Mercy getting together with her friends Warren, Kyle and Stefan. I'd say those three are my favorite secondary characters in the Mercy Thompson series, so it was really a joy to catch up with them :) Then, there was the wedding. LOL, only Mercy would get a surprise wedding. Then again, it makes sense since I can't see Mercy planning a wedding LOL. If you leave the details to others, well yes, you'll get surprised :) What I liked the most is how everyone showed up for Mercy and Adam's wedding - not just Adam's pack, but Zee, Bran, Charles, etc. I really like how Mercy has an entourage around her, that she has friends she knows she can trust. Too many heroines in urban fantasy series are loners, with trust issues... so it's nice that in that aspect, Mercy is different :) Anyway, I really liked the wedding because it was light-hearted and fun, but also because it kind of tied up the loose ends. It feels like the series is ready to move into a different direction, that the love triangle is finally settled and Mercy's position in Adam's life, secured :)

Once Mercy and Adam embarked on their honeymoon, that's when the action started :) Like I mentioned, I thought the storyline was good - it was interesting and combined with a fast pacing, it resulted into quite a suspenseful book. Plus, I think Ms Briggs weaved in the Native American beliefs and myths in and connected the whole thing with Mercy's origins really well. To me, that was the major plus for River Marked in my opinion, readers finally finding more about Mercy's origins and background. I think it really lived up to our expectations and explained why Mercy is so special :)

It feels like I should say more about the storyline or this part of the book, but really I don't know what to say ^_^; I loved seeing Mercy and Adam's relationship... it's one of the rare time they've truly been alone and they enjoy each other. I also liked the new characters that were introduced, all those Native "myths." I truly hoped we get to see them again in the future... At the same time, it feels like their appearances is taking the series into another direction. I'd love for Mercy to meet other skinwalkers in the future - which seems to be a true possibility. Also, it seems like we might be headed for a big showdown with the vampires and that would really be interesting :)

To me, there was only two weaknesses to River Marked. The first was the absence of the Pack for most of the book. For me, what really makes the Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega werewolf world stand out is the dynamics of the Pack, the interactions between the werewolves. I kind of understand why Ms Briggs didn't include them in this book... without them, she got to focus on Mercy and Adam's relationship and also the whole Native aspect and Mercy's origins. I do admit that with the Pack, it might have been too much... However, it doesn't change the fact that I really missed them :(  Especially since I waited a year for my werewolf fix ^_^; The second weakness - and this is a complaint that I've had for quite a few books - is that I feel that Mercy is a bit of a "Mary Sue" heroine ^_^; It feels like at the end of the day, she's always the one saving the world. Okay, granted, she's the heroine and of course, the story revolves around her... however, it's not as subtle as some other books. Like in River Marked, it does make sense why Mercy has to be the one confronting the River Devil... yet, I can't shake the feeling. I mean, at the end, Mercy is the one who almost lost her life, but lo and behold, against all expectations, she came on top and survived... with a lot of injuries ^_^; And unfortunately, it's a bit of the same thing with Anna in Ms Briggs Alpha & Omega series.

My Grade: B+River Marked remains a good installment to the series and fans will enjoy it, if only to find out about Mercy's origins :) Once again, I'm already looking out for my next Ms Briggs werewolf fix ^_^;

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXVIII

Lucky for me that I didn't have many plans for this week-end, because LOL, didn't do anything ^_^; Well I did watch curling and there was a real exciting game. My sister and I were rooting for Norway! But they lost, sigh :( Ah well, more curling today... although I don't know, the outcome seems a bit predictable. Also, I've been on a Big Bang Theory marathon. For those who do not watch this show, seriously, you're missing something good! Oh, and I did find a TVB series to watch which is good since I don't know what I'm going to do after curling is done :(

I did add a bunch of older books I've read into Goodreads. So the week-end was somewhat productive-ish LOL. As for reading-wise, well I've been in a mood of re-reading, so still haven't picked up The Gathering yet, but there is time still :)

Book-buying-wise, I was also a pretty good girl. Only went to the bookstore once - actually, twice, but only bought one book. Of course, it doesn't mean anything since now, you can buy books from home LOL. Here is what I got:

Deadly Lies by Cynthia Eden - I wasn't too sure about this book. I read the first book, Deadly Fears, of the trilogy and liked it enough... However, the heroine of Deadly Lies has suffered a big trauma in Deadly Fears and I was afraid I wouldn't like her ^_^; However, Tabitha's review convinced me to give the book a try :)

The Last Goodbye by Sarah Mayberry - Another book I've been hesitating about, just because I don't seem to hit it with Ms Mayberry as everyone does. However, since I've decided to buy Harlequin category romances as e-books, it's much easier to cave LOL. This time, it's Hils who convinced me... I'm so easy LOL.

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong - LOL, no explanations really needed, right? I really enjoy Ms Armstrong's writing and this is the start of her new YA trilogy. I just wished she could release more than one in the year.

Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning - This was a free download over at Kobo's. Favorable reviews for Ms Cunning's second book, Rock Hard, have been floating around blogland, so getting Backstage Pass for free was really a no-brainer :P

There you go, my new books? What about you? What's new on your selves? And anything that I should be rushing to the bookstore to get? :P

Friday, April 08, 2011

Review: And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper

Hey everyone!! It's the week-end, woohoo!! Gosh, I'm so tired today and I don't even know why :( Luckily, I have no plans this week-end :) I'm just going to take it easy, read The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, work on some reviews, eat sushi, watch curling and perhaps re-shelve some books :) Unfortunately, I have to get some things done for work, but I won't bother about till Sunday, 9pm, LOL. What about you, any plans?

Okay, so I have a buddy review up at Breezing Through. Ames and I have reviewed And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper. Seriously guys, you have to thank Ames for the review!! LOL, I read And One Last Thing... last September I think and I meant to review it, but it fell through the cracks ^_^; Then, when Ames told me she was reading it, I was so glad, cos not only I was going to review it, but it would be for Breezing Through! I think And One Last Thing... is one of those book that is hard to review, but great to discuss :) Anyway, click here to find out what we thought of it! By the way, you know how I keep telling everyone to read the Jane Jameson series lately? Well if you're a fan of contemporary romance or a fan of Kristan Higgins, And One Last Thing... is a must. Just saying :)

And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper
published by Simon & Schuster in July 2010
"If Singletree’s only florist didn’t deliver her posies half-drunk, I might still be married to that floor-licking, scum-sucking, receptionist-nailing hack-accountant, Mike Terwilliger."

Lacey Terwilliger’s shock and humiliation over her husband’s philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike’s company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike’s family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike’s defamation lawsuit.

Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreats to her family’s lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door. But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying.

Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangements, though. Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newsletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations? Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear? And will she ever be able to resist saying one... last... thing?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Review: Texas Glory and Texas Splendor by Lorraine Heath

Okie dokie, it seems that I've fallen into a Lorraine Heath's binge :) Been reading a lot of her older books - I mean, I even went ahead and bought some of them in e-book format. That tells you how much I'm enjoying her writing, right? So look out for reviews of her books in the near future :) Today, I'm starting with her Texas trilogy series. Before starting though, I have a quick disclaimer: I have not read Texas Destiny, the first book... and quite frankly, I doubt I'm going to read it ^_^; However, it doesn't seem to have lessened my enjoyment of the books, so yay!


Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath
published by Penguin (Topaz) in March 1998
She was given to a stranger

Cordelia McQueen was a virtual prisoner in her father's house. Until everything changed when she was shamelessly traded in a battle for land and water rights, and thrust into an unfamiliar world as the bride of Dallas Leigh.

He belonged to the land

Dallas had given his life to the land. Now he aimed to put West Texas on the map. But as he gazed into the eyes of the lovely stranger who belonged to him, he caught a glimpse of another ambition--a warm, radiant desire of the heart. Was this the woman who would walk beside him as, together, they carved out a rich future with all the promise of love?
Genre: Historical romance - Western
Series: Texas trilogy, Book #2

The Story: Dallas Leigh is a man with big dreams - own land, build an empire, found a town; basically build a legacy. However, all is for naught if he doesn't have a son to leave the legacy to and unfortunately, marriageable women are scarce in Leighton. Thus, when Dallas learns that the McQueens have a sister, he decides sight unseen that she will do. He intends to strike two birds with one stone: get a wife who will provide him with an heir and make truce with the McQueens with whom Dallas has been disputing lands for years.

For Cordelia McQueen, she really doesn't know what to expect from the outside world, let alone marriage to Dallas. All she knows is that this autocratic, commanding man terrifies her... Then why is it that she is so disappointed when she discovers that all he wants from her is a son?

Can an union between two strangers really lead to happiness?

My Opinion: Last November, I re-discovered Ms Heath's writing as I read her new trilogy, London's Greatest Lover. So when I saw Texas Glory during a charity sale, there was no way I was walking away without it, even though it was a western romance. Plus, Kristie and Wendy have raved about Ms Heath's western... and I have to say I'm really glad I picked it up :)

What surprised me the most is that I enjoyed the setting of Texas Glory - it wasn't your typical western romance. What I mean is that it wasn't about a woman needing help to get her ranch through the winter, how harsh life was in that time period, cowboy work or Indians vs cowboys, etc. Yes, Dallas was a cowboy and there were allusions to his work and cattle, but it really wasn't the focus of the book. The focus was the characters, the romance and the flourishing of the new town.

I really, really loved the characters in Texas Glory, most particularly Dallas. Don't get me wrong, Dee was a very likable heroine. It was a joy to see her discover the world, enjoy her freedom and become more confident. I don't really understand why her father kept her so sheltered, perhaps so she wouldn't leave like her mother intended. However, I'm glad that she wasn't mistreated, as in abused verbally or physically. Sure, living with her brothers and father was not a walk in the park, but at the same time, she didn't have a dark, secret past and I liked that. Dee was just shy and innocent, but she caught on really fast and once she came out of her shell, it was great to see. She was much stronger than anyone thought she was and I don't think anyone can help but admire her. I also really liked that as she grew confident, she didn't lose her sweet side :) While Ms Heath did a great job with Dee's character, she's not new... We've seen heroines like Dee in many books... as opposed to Dallas who really in my opinion stood out. Dallas character was very authoritarian, commanding, domineering... he exuded power and could be ruthless when he wanted... and it's really no wonder Dee or anyone else was so intimidated by him. But then, he totally surprises the readers with his gentle side: how generous and supportive he was, how much he loved and cared for his brothers, his gentleness with children, etc. Okay, so you're going to tell me that there is a lot of heroes like him as well, but it's the way Ms Heath wrote his character, the balance between generosity and authority that makes him stand out of the crowd. It's how realistic his character was - nice and caring, but at the same time, he could utter the wrong things and be a complete ass :P But what really won me over was really how much Dallas was generous and I'm not talking money/property-wise. I'm talking of largeness of mind which you really wouldn't expect from someone so ruthless like Dallas.

I also really enjoyed the romance in Texas Glory as it was well-written and developed. Dallas and Dee started off on the wrong foot not knowing each other and Dee being terrified... However, Dallas was very considerate and decided to take his time to get to know his wife, to appease her which was the right move. I also loved how he realized on his own the mistakes he's made by marrying Dee sight unseen - how she was hurt, how she wasn't given a choice, how she didn't get a honeymoon and so on. I also thought the hardships Dallas and Dee went through together really contributed to their relationship, strengthened it, instead of being in the story just to create conflicts and obstacles.

Overall, I think Texas Glory was a great romance. I don't have any complaints about it. I loved the H/H and their romance and I enjoyed the setting and the effervescent atmosphere of a growing town. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters, I thought they added to the book... and I'm a huge fan of the "taking in the street urchin" trope :) Especially since Rawley's story was so heart-breaking and he deserved so much more in life.

My Grade: Initially, I was going to give Texas Glory a B, but after this review, really, it's a B+. I really, really enjoyed the book and as I said, I didn't have any issues with it. So why not an A? Well, I just didn't have that wowzer feeling at the end, you know. Still, a very good book and I now understand why Kristie and Wendy are such a fan of Ms Heath's western romances :P

Texas Splendor by Lorraine Heath
published by Penguin (Topaz) in January 1999
e-book format by Harpercollins Publishers (Avon) in November 2010

Five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit—that's how long Austin Leigh has waited to clear his name and return to his old life. But when he is finally released, that life is no longer waiting for him. Determined to find the real killer, Austin goes on a hunt for justice—and revenge. But what he finds is something quite different: Loree Grant, a woman with her own tragedies, whose strength scatters the shadows of his past—and whose beauty eclipses the Texas sun...
Genre: Historical romance - Western
Series: Texas trilogy, Book #3

The Story: Five years ago, Austin Leigh was arrested for the murder of Boyd McQueen; however, he did not reveal where he was at the time of the murder in order to preserve his sweetheart's reputation. As a result, Austin spent 5 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Now a free man, Austin realizes how much those five years have cost him. First, his sweetheart has not waited for him... and worst, she's fallen in love and married his best friend. Then, he missed five years in his family - his niece Maggie barely remembers him, his other nieces born after he went to prison don't know him and so on. Also, the music in him died and he can no longer play. Finally, while he did go to jail, he never realized that the people in town actually really believe that he's killed Boyd McQueen... and in the mean time, the real killer has gone free.

Determined to find the real killer, Austin heads for Austin - the only clue he has. However, before he can reach the town, Austin falls ill... Luckily, he is taken in by Loree Grant who nurses him back to health. Then, a night of loneliness leads to passion and to a new life... But can Austin forget the past and forge a future for himself? And then, there is Loree's past which also haunts her...

My Opinion: After reading Texas Glory, I really wanted to read Texas Splendor. I was hoping that the heroine wouldn't be Austin's sweetheart - just because I think it would have been too boring ^_^;  So I was really glad to find out that Austin was going to be paired up with a heroine we haven't been introduced to yet :) I think Texas Splendor was a great sequel to Texas Glory and wraps up this trilogy very well :)

I really liked the changes in Austin between Texas Glory where he was young and carefree to Texas Splendor, where he has hardened. It hasn't made him bitter and cynic, but obviously, it has changed him, made him more down-to-earth and wary. It was also sad that his family did not understand. They meant well and they loved him and wanted to support him, but they could not understand what he went through. It was also heart-breaking when Austin found out that Becca had not waited for him :( Everything was really well written and very realistic and I thought Austin had really become a man after all he went through.

Loree was an interesting character, another very admirable woman. I think she was exactly what Austin needed - someone who did not know Austin before and who made her own mind about him after she's spent time getting to know him. However, I had a little bit of difficulty connecting with her... After a while, I just got a bit impatient because I thought with Austin, she could get over what has happened in her life... but then, everything made sense at the end, since her big secret had yet to be revealed ^_^;

I enjoyed the romance, but at one point, it was tiring the doubts between them. I understand why Loree was so reluctant and hesitant, that she wasn't sure about Austin's love for her. Nothing less romantic than have your lover scream another woman's name and then have him marry you because you're pregnant... Let say, it's pretty hard to overcome. However, you know how it is obvious to readers, to everyone else that the H/H are in love, except for them? Then again, I think Austin had the biggest grand gesture I've ever seen and at the end, there was no doubt for either :)

I also think Ms Heath did a great job with the storyline. There was a lot going on: the romance, finding the killer and Austin discovering himself and I think Ms Heath really handled it well and kept it interesting. I really like the last part of the story where Austin finally finds out what he wants out of life besides Loree and a family. I think it made sense and really fit Austin :) She has did a great job inserting the familiar faces into the story and the characters stayed true to themselves :) I loved reading about Dee and Dallas and their family, loved the scene where Dallas was a jerk - because that's so him, making mistake because he cares so much ^_^; Also, everything was tied up neatly and well... and that might be my only other complaint... About the identity of Boyd's killer - what was the chance? It worked, everything from previous books fell into place to lead to this ending... but I thought it was just such a huge coincidence ^_^; But then, coincidences do happen, so it's probably me just being picky ^_^;

My Grade: All in all, I really enjoyed Texas Splendor and thought it was a very satisfying ending to this trilogy :) However, Austin and Loree didn't grip me as Dallas and Dee did and then, there's the identity of the killer... and so, Texas Splendor is a B for me :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Monthly Reads: March 2011

Yay! I'm done with my Monthly Reads post and we're just a few days into April :P Go me! LOL, I think it helped I only read 12 books this month. It really felt like a so-so month for me, I didn't have any momentum/rhythm at all. I think I was half-way through the month and had only read 5 books... so it seems that I managed to "save" the month, but still. It was just so busy, first with the presentation and then, the BPPV. Sigh. Lots of good books are coming out in the next few weeks, so I hope that helps my reading mojo :)

Review-wise, I'm still not completely satisfied with the numbers of reviews; however, I am getting my groove back :) I've managed to review most of the books I read in February that I planned to review, so I'm pretty happy. Now, onto books for March!! I think that by the end of this month, there won't be such a delay between the reads and the reviews :P

Now, what did I read this month? Let's find out!

1)Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins: D+
published by Hyperion in March 2010

The heroine of Hex Hall is Sophie Mercer, a 15 years old witch who inherited her powers from her absentee father - her mother left him when she discovered he was a warlock. After yet another incident that reveals her powers to humans, Sophie is sent to Hecate Hall - a school for supernatural "delinquents" which Sophie will attend till her 18th birthday. Being the new kid at school is hard enough, but this is also the first time that Sophie spends time with her peers - shifters, fairies, witches... and the deck is stacked against her. First, Sophie's roommate is the school's sole vampire who's been suspected of killing another student, then she keeps getting pestered by the other three witches to join their coven... and oh, she discovers that her father is head of the Council and he's the one responsible for exiling all students and teachers to the school. Yeah, let say that doesn't make her the most popular kid...

I really had high expectations for Hex Hall based on the blurb and the good reviews. Unfortunately for me, the  book didn't measure up to them. My main issue with Hex Hall is that as a heroine, I don't feel like Sophie had anything that made her stand out or that she was very likable. Oh, she wasn't disagreeable or anything, just not someone I warmed up to. There were also some facts regarding her situations that really bothered me such as Sophie never having met her father or knowing that he was the head of the Council. It wasn't her fault, it was her mom's, but I think it was really stupid on her part. Yes, she did her best to help Sophie by studying anything paranormal, but there's nothing better than experience and exposure and I think that Sophie would have been so much prepared if she's been able to meet her father.

Otherwise, the world building wasn't that engrossing and the kids at Hex Hall - ugh, just spoiled and stupid!! It really bothered me when they whined that they didn't deserve to be at Hex Hall - all she did was fly to catch the bus! It's hard to like characters that are so immature and don't take responsibility for their action. The only character that was okay was Jenna, Sophie's roommate, and Cal, the ground keeper and healer.

Finally, I don't think there was much to the book story-wise. The first half was Sophie learning about herself and the other beings, adapting to school and her little run-ins with the three other witches. Then there was her crush on Archer, which really didn't do much for me. Probably the only redemption in the end was the mystery which led to quite a big revelation about Sophie... All in all, Hex Hall really didn't impress me and I won't be picking up the sequel.

2) Blackout by Rob Thurman: A-
Upcoming Buddy Review with Leslie.

3) River Marked by Patricia Briggs: B+
Upcoming Review.

4) Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John: B/B+
Upcoming Buddy Review with Li.

5) Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly: C
Upcoming Buddy Review with Ames.

6) Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer: C
published by Penguin Young Reader in March 2008

Vladimir Todd is a vampire, born from a vampire father and human mother. Three years ago, his parents died mysteriously in a fire and now, Vlad is living with his mother's best friend, Nelly, who is a nurse and brings him back blood from the blood bank. At 13 years old, Vlad has to deal with being a teenager at school, but also with his awakening powers. Things get complicated when one of Vlad's favorite teacher disappears and is replaced by someone that seems to know way too much about supernatural beings... and when another vampire shows up in town looking specifically for Vlad.

I've been quite curious about The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series because the books have been prominently displayed in my bookstores in the past year, but I've never really come across it on blogland. So when the YA books were on sale, I decided to give it a chance. I also liked the idea of a male being the protagonist. Overall, I thought that Eighth Grade Bites was pretty okay. Hmmm, it introduces Vladimir, a young vampire that is still getting over his parents' deaths, whose powers seem to be getting stronger and who has to deal with everyday's life as a teenager. Vlad was a nice protagonist and I didn't mind reading from his POV. I really enjoyed his relationship with Nelly and his best friend, Henry. I think that really made the book for me, because it felt so real. I mean, despite being a vampire, Vlad was also an everyday boy who enjoyed hanging out with his best friend and eating junk food :)  I also liked Mr Otis, Vlad's new teacher.

Unfortunately, the book wasn't perfect. First, I thought it was a big too short, probably because of the young audience Eighth Grade Bites aims for. It made for a really awkward pacing in my opinion, because 3/4 of the book was used to set up Vladimir's world and life, the ground work for the rest of the series... and then, in the last 1/4 of the book, Ms Brewer dealt with the book's storyline, the action and mystery. Blink and you're going to miss it ^_^; So that aspect was weak... and I also thought Ms Brewer was trying too hard at misleading the readers, trying to infuse mystery into the book. It felt a bit forced or perhaps again, it's because the book is aimed at younger readers.

So not a bad book, but not one that made me rush to devour the next installment.

7) Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles: B
Upcoming Review.

8) Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath: B
Upcoming Review.

9) Almost Home by Mariah Stewart: C
published by Bantam Books in March 2011

Steffie Wyler has known at an early age what she wanted in life: 1) make ice cream, 2) Wade MacGregor and 3) live happy ever after. She's achieved her first goal, being the proud and successful owner of One Scoop or Two and is working on the other two. Few months ago, she almost went to bed with Wade, but he had to leave abruptly. Now, he's back in town, stopping on his way to his new job, with a baby in tow and Steffie doesn't know what to think. It seems like she should be moving on; only problem is that Wade has always been the one.

Few months ago, Wade had it all - he was in business with his best friend, Robin Kennedy, brewing beer - a work that he enjoyed immensely. Then, Robin's boyfriend embezzled the business, Robin died from cancer and left him with her precious little boy. Instead of selling KenneMac to someone else, Wade preferred to close down shop and found a job in another brewery. Before heading for the new job, Wade decided to stop in St. Dennis to spend time with his family and introducing his son. As usual, sparks between him and Steffie fly, but Wade knows that Steffie's life belongs in St. Dennis...

Sorry for the synopsis, not the best... but at the same time, I'm not sure how else I could describe this book. I actually thought Almost Home was a romantic suspense, given that's what the previous books I read by Ms Stewart were... but instead, it was more contemporary/small town romance, so it took me a little by surprise.

Almost Home was quite a quick read, mostly because not much is happening. Actually, a lot of little things are happening, but in the grand scheme, in the general sense of a storyline - yep, not much is happening. The book pretty much focuses on Steffie and Wade's romance and what made Wade closed down his business. I feel like there was a lot of superfluous aspects in this book such as the Ouija thing and the witch magic to fill up the pages ^_^; I think Almost Home would have been more interesting if the romance has been more intense. It just took a while for Steffie and Wade to decide what they wanted and to go after each other. I mean, in the beginning, Steffie was angry at Wade because he shows up with the baby and that means he might have been married or with someone else when he and her almost got together... and that's really understandable. Then, you had Wade that thought he should avoid having a relationship with Steffie, but just couldn't keep away from her. When she finally comes around, well it's his turn to brush her off, because her life belongs in St. Dennis and so it's best not to start anything... and yada, yada, yada. The worst is that in the end, everything - everything - was resolved so easily, even the "intrigue" aspect of the book... so it really felt like a lot of elements were just unnecessary, there just to make this book longer, sigh.

It's quite unfortunate, because Steffie and Wade were likable characters. They're nice, they're loyal, they're decent and every day persons who have to make a living. They have great families and friends surrounding them and healthy relationships with others. I also liked that Steffie and Wade valued each other, that Wade told Steffie the truth about his son. I liked when Steffie told Wade that she was big enough to decide on her own and it wasn't his choice to make. I think they were quite compatible and mature... However, their romance was missing some excitement, some flirting, some witty banter. It's the way they interact with each other, as if they didn't have chemistry :( Instead of focusing on the relationship and interactions between the H/H, it feels like Ms Stewart was trying too hard to infuse drama and conflicts and it just felt forced.

Almost Home was not a bad book, but it did miss the mark for me where the romance is concerned :( I did enjoy some aspect of it, but I doubt I'm going to re-read it and I don't think I'll be picking up the first two books ^_^;

10) Texas Splendor by Lorraine Heath: B
Upcoming Review.

11) Juggling Briefcase & Baby by Jessica Hart: C+
published by Harlequin in October 2010

Lex Gibson is a very driven man, having spent most of his life trying to please his father. Now as CEO of the family business, Lex is about to close a deal with a Scottish grocery chain - something his father has tried all his life and never succeeded. To say this deal is crucial is an understatement and Lex will let nothing ruin this deal - surely not the re-appearance of Romy and her baby girl... baby?!?

Lex and Romy have known each other since they were kids, their mothers being each other's godmother. When Romy was 18 years old, she spent a passionate week in Paris with Lex who proposed to her. However, being too young and afraid of commitment, Romy refused and has spent the last few years in tropical locations for various jobs. Now a single mother, Romy has returned to London for stability and has a part-time job in Lex company to build up her CV. Lex has been scrupulously avoiding her, but when an emergency comes up and Romy is the only one who can accompany Lex and secure the deal, he has no choice to spend time with her...

I bought this book because Wendy, our Super Librarian, really enjoyed it :) Howmever, I'm starting to think that my reading tastes quite differ from hers, which is actually not such a big surprise LOL. In all Ms Hart's books, I've really enjoyed the British settings and the writing. I think it's the romance and the characters that just don't do it for me ^_^;

In Juggling Baby & Briefcase, I really didn't mind the secret baby plot, because it was executed quite differently. Basically, Romy had a brief affair, wounded up pregnant and returned to London. She never told the father, because he got back with his ex-girlfriend, now fiancée; however, as Freya is growing, Romy figures her daughter should get to know her father. So basically, the secret baby plot had nothing to do with Lex and that's what I found interesting. I also applauded Ms Hart for taking this direction with the storyline, as it is pretty unusual in my opinion. Instead, the part I found cliché is Lex and Romy having to fake a relationship in order to close the deal... although it did force Lex to spend time with Romy.

I thought Lex was quite an interesting character. I would like to say that I liked him, but it's not really possible, because he was not very likable ^_^; He was too hard-edged and uncompromising in my opinion. I did like the way that Ms Hart developed him, I understood what shaped him and what pushed him to be the man he is. It's quite unfair that he had to spend his whole life trying to prove himself to his father, gain acceptance, while it was so easy for his brother... Being first-born is really a hard job in certain circumstances and really unfair :( Likewise, I think that Ms Hart also did a good job developing Romy's character. Unfortunately, I found her harder to like, which is quite a surprise because I usually love free-spirit characters and from the blurb, that's what Romy seemed to be. My biggest issue was Romy wanting Lex to do the first step - acknowledged her in the company or at Lex' brother's wedding - for them to re-connect, when she's the one who turned him down. She wanted to know that he still cared, that she still meant something to him... and I thought it was quite selfish of her. It was also selfish of her not to want Freya to develop any attachment to father figures. I mean, yes, Romy was hurt when her father left her mother for another woman... and I understand that Romy was trying to protect Freya... and I shouldn't say anything because I've never been in that position, but really...

I enjoyed Lex scenes with Freya and actually wished for more. I think Ms Hart did a great job at portraying the child and how babies behave. As for Lex and Romy, I actually want a little more development. It just felt flat for me, these two who supposedly never got over each other. They just didn't seem to be able to trust each other and I think that's sad in a relationship :(

Overall, I liked the book, but was far from loving it. I guess because there was a baby, I was expecting something a bit cuter. Instead, Juggling Baby & Briefcase was more a fast and brisk read.

12) Sugar Creek by Toni Blake: C
Upcoming Review.

Books bought: +23
Books read: -12
TBR pile: +9

12 books read, not too bad :) There were a few books that stood out, but overall, it was not really an exceptional month. What I'm most proud of is how eclectic the month was, I think I really mixed it up well, and two books came from my TBR pile!! Can you imagine? LOL. However, a lot of new books made it to the TBR pile ^_^; Ah well, can't win it all, right? :)

So far, April has had a good start and I hope it continues on that trend! :)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXVII

Nothing special really this past week, except the return of my parents and catching up on my sleep :) Because of BPPV, I've changed the way I place my pillows and I don't know if it's that or if it's just that I'm exhausted, but I've fallen asleep really early this week ^_^; Or at least, that's what I blame my lack of blogging on LOL. However, I plan to pick it up again - lots of reviews to come this week and my monthly reads post :) Also, for those who missed it, Ames, Monroe and I discussed the new releases coming out this month :) Lots of new goodies! :P

But what about the goodies I got this week? Well once again, I was a pretty good girl :) I know, such a surprise, right? Well the thing is, I'm going to RWA this summer, right? So I'm starting to build my list of books to get at RWA - if not at the convention, then at least, in the States. I seriously can't wait till the list of authors participating to the Literacy Signing Event is revealed!! But yeah, basically every author who has a book released in the next few months and I think is attending to RWA - I'm not buying... Unless it's a die-hard favorite author that I really, really, really can't wait. Cough*Tangled Threads*Cough*Kiss of Snow*Cough*Warcry*Cough. Hey, I'm not made of ice! Anyway, we'll see if I'm to wait...

Still, I did get some books this week and here they are:

Alien in the Family by Gini Koch - Third book in the series, looking forward to a good laugh :P

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I have to say when this was released, I was quite hesitant. Contempory YA is not my favorite style... but I finally caved under the peer pressure - it's been getting sooo much good reviews, I have to check it out :)

I did buy a few books today, but they're going towards next week's post :P So, what about you? What did you buy recently?