Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

Disclaimer: I've received Yours to Keep as an eARC from Netgalley

Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey
published by Carina Press in June 2011
Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he's recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother's upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn't like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma's offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there's no chance he'll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he's not planning to call home.

Emma's not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his "pretend" kisses are...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Kowalski clan, Book #3

The Story: Returning from Afghanistan, Sean Kowalski is looking forward to spending quality time with his cousins and especially eating his aunt's food while he figures out the next stage of his life. He's been in New Hampshire for less than an hour when he meets Emma Shaw, his cousin's wife's best friend, and is asked to pose as her fiancé. Turns out that while Emma's grandmother has moved to Florida, she worries a lot about Emma and the demands of the house on a single woman and to appease her grandmother, Emma made up an imaginary boyfriend which later proposed... named Sean Kowalski. And now, Emma's grandmother is coming up for a month-long visit... and since Sean is back, it'd be easier for Emma to continue the charade than tell her the truth. At first, Sean is reluctant, but he understands Emma's motives and therefore accepts.

However, what neither expected is the attraction between them... and with the intimacies of an engaged couple... let just say the month will be longer than they thought :)

My Opinion: I'm a bit torn with Yours to Keep. The Kowalski series is very popular and Yours to Keep has been getting a great buzz around blogland and while I want to love it as much as everyone else... I don't. Oh, don't get me wrong, the book was good and I enjoyed it... but it wasn't a wowzer to me. It simply doesn't reach me as it seems to reach everyone else and I find that overall, the book and the series is missing a bit of omphf.

Similarly to previous books, Yours to Keep is a character-centric/relationship-focus book and I'm really happy about that. I think that there's not enough of these in contemporary romance nowadays... and it's even better when all the elements - the writing, the characters, the relationship development - are handled by an author as skilled as Ms Stacey. I thought Emma and Sean were great characters because they were so real. I understood Emma's motives and was glad that Sean helped her. I don't think they had great chemistry, but their relationship and interactions were real as well. For me, what set Yours to Keep apart from most of the books with similar plots is that their scheme definitively had flaws and Emma's grandmother saw through them right away. An engaged couple has this aura, this intimacy that even if there's attraction between the two persons, it cannot be faked...

While I enjoyed Emma and Sean, what I preferred were the dynamics between all characters. How well Emma's grandmother knew Emma, the ribbing between the Kowalski cousins, the bet they had going, the jealousy between brothers... LOL, the fact that Sean had to bribe his nephews and niece LOL. Also, Ms Stacey did a great job at balancing everything - Emma and Sean had just the right amount of time, readers were able to catch up with the previous characters without them stealing the show and the grandmother's romance.

Oh and can I say I loved Sean's grand gesture at the end? Awwww. Also, the post-it relationship was pretty cute :)

All in all, there is a lot to like about this book. In fact, objectively, Yours to Keep is excellent and I have no issue with it at all... Except that it just didn't grab me, reach me ^_^; I guess that's on me and not on the book.

My Grade: B+.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Art of Packing...

Sigh, I'm not done packing yet ^_^; The worst is that I'm not even home right now. My sister has her final exam from 9am to noon and so I'm in town. Going to run a few errands shortly - such as going to the library LOL. Initially, I was planning to just get home, grab our stuff and be out of the door... but now,  we're going to rush home to finish packing ^_^;

I have a love/hate relationship with packing. I love folding stuff, figuring out how everything will fit in the suitcases... and I'm a wiz at that LOL. Ask Cindy if you don't believe me! When I went to visit her, I only had one suitcase and my backpack... So it was bursting at the seam, but hey, I brought back 58 books! So coming back home is not a problem... the hate part is packing up to leave :( It's a very fine line between over-packing and under-packing ^_^; So I'm having difficulties figuring out what to bring with me, especially because of the weather ^_^;

Every time my sister looks at the suitcases, she gives me a weird look... Although she's not a reference since it happens every time we're going on a trip. Also, this time, I'm figuring I can just throw the stuff in the car and not worry too much about it since I'm driving... But then, I remember I'm leaving my car with Hils... Ugh.

So I think I have the basics... of course, it's hard to tell because the last load of laundry was still drying when I left the house ^_^; But hopefully, we can finish packing as fast as possible... without forgetting everything!!

I'll post some pictures later today... once I make it to Hils LOL. I didn't think of taking some this morning and it'll be a mad rush.

EDIT: And this is what we ended up taking with us... Mind you, taking with us!! Seriously, what was I thinking? LOL. By the way, the suitcase you see there? It's not the same suitcase as in the pic above. That suitcase is hidden under my pillow LOL.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book landslide

I'm still not ready for NYC ^_^; Haven't packed - actually, I need to do laundry first. Then, I'm half-done cleaning my room... I'd like for it to be clean before I leave... so all I have to do is pick up my books. Hopefully, I'll be able to weed my bookshelves at the same time...

Anyway, I've had this book landslide next to my desk for a couple of weeks ^_^; I told Ames I'd take a picture - perfect time to test my new camera! What do you think? I think the image quality is pretty good.

Lucky I have tomorrow off, so I'll have time to take care of things. The downside though is everything is close because it's a holiday. Ugh.

And I'm really crossing my fingers and knocking on wood that I have time to write some reviews and blog posts for next week :P

In any case, wish me luck LOL.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Okay, turns out that I'm still busy. Sigh, go figure ^_^;

I'm slowly going through the list of authors at the literary autographing event and making my own list :) Oh, you know what is the most frustrating though?!? There's an in-store promotion: Buy 3, get the 4th free!! Ugh!! You know me! So let see if I can make use of that promo... somehow. I'm hopeless, I know LOL.

Also, I got a new camera! Woohoo! We didn't research it extensively, so I hope it's a good one or at least, good for our needs :) At least, it met my and my sister's requirements: can take black and white pictures, have sounds when shooting a video. See, we're easy! LOL. Going to tell my sister to charge it today so we can test it tonight :P

In the meantime, here's a review :) It's not the one I was hoping to put up - I had a plan... but I had no time to execute my plan ^_^; So Hexed it is, because it's the one that come to me easily :)

Hexed by Kevin Hearne
published by Bantam Books (Del Rey) in June 2011

Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn't care much for witches. Still, he's about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty-when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they're badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor's rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book #2

The Story: In Hexed, Atticus has to deal with the fallout of the events of Hounded. First, there's people warning him to leave them alone... and also requests to take out some of their enemies. Let say that taking out a god definitively puts you on the radar! And one of these requests is from Atticus' own vampire attorney and friend, Leif Helgarson, who wants Atticus' help to take down Thor; but while Atticus has become a very popular guy, he still remembers the one constant in his life: survive.

Unfortunately, survival is not easy when you still have demons roaming the neighborhood and Coyote mandates you to take care of it. Even worst is with half of the local coven - the Sisters of the Three Auroras - gone, Tempe has suddenly become fair play for other supernatural/magical beings and two factions have decided they want total control - die Tochter des dritten Hauses and the Bacchants. To Atticus' horror, he'll need the help of his "friendly" witches if he wants to stay alive and stay home.

My Opinion: For some reasons, I like characters that have magic powers such as witches, sorcerers, wizards... you get the drift, right? I don't know, I just do... So whenever I come across a book or a series featuring a magic wielder, I give it a try... Hence Hounded with its druid :) The premises of Hounded was quite interesting and the series showed a lot of potential and so, I was really looking forward to Hexed :)

I find it a bit hard to look at the Iron Druid Chronicles series objectively, because I can't help but compare it to the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Part of it is because both protagonists are male and have magic of their own. As I whole, I find Atticus character friendly and likable. I really liked his interactions with Leif at the beginning of the book, attempting to teach Leif how to speak 21st century LOL. However, Atticus is also a lot more wily than Harry. I guess it comes with age and everything he's seen and everything he's done. I find he's a lot less sincere and I'd say more selfish than Harry... and that makes  me wonder if we've seen Atticus' true face yet...

The storyline in Hexed was interesting, but I think it'd have been better if it focused a little bit more on Atticus' alliance with the Sisters of the Three Auroras and their fight against the German witches and the Bacchants. I also thought some of it was resolved a bit too easily ^_^; It was a bit of a let-down, especially considering how much things were happening in Hexed: Coyote and the demon, the two unfriendly witch covens and the demon hunters, etc. and I have to say, all the elements felt disconnected to me :( It was as if Mr Hearne was too busy tying up the loose ends from Hounded and setting up for Hammered that he neglected the actual storyline of Hexed. I mean, I was expecting much more resistance from the bad witches than what we got :(  And not to repeat myself, but it made for a disjointed story :(

Also, one major flaw of Hexed was the slow start. It really took a while for me to get into the book and I felt it's because a lot of the events in the beginning felt random. Also, what is it with Atticus' neighbor?!? I don't know it was meant to be funny... but it missed the mark with me ^_^;

Despite all my complaints, I think that once the action picked up, the book became much more enjoyable. I'm really liking the secondary characters - Granuaile, Oberon and Atticus' attorneys, Hal and Leif. I really would like to see more of their characters :) The story is interesting enough and I liked how Mr Hearne has set up for Hammered. I think that book will also be very interesting :) I hope that in the future books, we'll also find out more of Atticus... not just his past, but also his true self :)

My Grade: This is a hard one. I originally gave this book a B in Goodreads, but once again, upon reflection... there were some issues that pop up... So I think a C+ is the fair grade :) If you look at the overall picture, then Hexed was also an enjoyable read, despite its slow start and it being a bit unfocused.  I'm still very much looking forward to Hammed :P

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hauling Sunday XLVII

All right, I promise, no more posts about work for a while! Especially with RWA looming ahead. For the next few weeks it's going to be about RWA, bloggers, NYC and of course, books! :)

For my trip to NYC... well I need to start packing, which means I need to make loads of laundry ^_^; However, my sister is done with school and has to study for her finals. That means she'll be home the whole week and perhaps I can dump that part on her. I've been meaning to weed my TBR pile and my bookshelves so I could bring books to people in NYC... but I haven't done that yet... and I'm not sure I'll have the time. Hmmm. On the good news front, I finally had a haircut :) Woohoo. I cut it to chin length, which I usually prefer... and I'm so glad!! Not only it's nicer, but also perfect for the heat we've been getting... Plus, I broke my gold chain earlier this week :( My mom has given me another one... and my hair kept getting tangled in it - ouch. Now, the hair doesn't reach the chain :)

Okay, need to hurry. I'm supposed to pick up my sister shortly from work :) Then, we're heading out to buy a new camera... Ours broke and a trip without a camera? That's a no-no!

So let see, here are the books I bought last week. There was a 20% off coupon and so, couldn't resist. However, I made sure that none of these authors were attending RWA :) Have to love stores with wi-fi!

Perfect Harmony by Nora Roberts - This is a reprint and contains the following titles: Unfinished Business and Local Hero. This year, I've been re-reading a lot of my NR books. I just enjoy her writing so much, so I figured I'd get this one. Lucky me, I haven't read either stories and I don't think I have them either in my other reprints of hers :)

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen - I enjoy Ms Dessen's books, but ultimately, they're young adult books and sometimes, the ending is a bit too open for me... So I was going to wait for reviews and perhaps the paperback version of What Happened to Goodbye... but I did the mistake of skimming through it a little at the bookstore... and I had to have it. At least, I wait till I had a coupon :) The story really sounds good and I've enjoyed what I read!

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade - I met this author at RT last year. At that time, her book wasn't released yet, but it was heavily promoted... and the cover looked cute. I have to say though, what pushed me to get The Ghost and the Goth is its sequel, Queen of the Dead - another fun cover :P

More Than a Mistress and No Man's Mistress by Mary Balogh - I've been enjoying Ms Balogh's books... and her new release coming out next month, The Secret Mistress, is actually a sequel of these two books... so I decide to go ahead and read it. Plus, it's 2 books for the price of 1, right? Although I'm not sure I'm all that interested in No Man's Mistress...

And there you go, my new books for the week. I'm tempted to go to the bookstore today... but in less than a week, I'll be in the States... where books are cheaper. Hmmmm. LOL.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I survived... barely

Hey everyone!

I survived!! Woohoo!! While I survived, I'm beat ^_^; These past two weeks have been really bad and I'm determined not to do anything this week-end. Just stay home, relax and plan my trip to NYC. Can't believe it's one week away only!! I don't know where time has gone!!

For those who are interested, Thursday was indeed a very, very, very long day. The free walk-in clinic part was a success. Between 150-160 men participated and we got about 80 samples which is really good :) Tell you the truth, if we had more, we wouldn't have been able to process them all. I really liked the free walk-in clinic part, interacting with the people and all. Also, we pretty much finished on time, which is always a bonus :)

What I'm annoyed at is the processing part of the samples. I don't mind helping out with that part... what I mind is my boss telling - no, obliging!! - my co-workers to take a break... Because they're doing it so fast! Seriously?!? Seriously?!? Why does working fast is synonymous of sloppiness instead of efficiency in his head? Like what better proof that he doesn't trust us? I can do with micro-management. I mean, not fun, but I can deal with it... but lack of trust? Ugh. Also, I'm really starting to wonder if my co-worker and I haven't spoiled him too much? I mean, as an employee, I should be efficient. However, when's the limits? You couldn't believe with all the "ideas" he came up with for that day ^_^;

Anyway, guess till what time we stayed at the lab? 12.40am. Ugh. I'm happy it happens only once a year... but that's one too many in my opinion. I was dead, my back was killing me so much as I've been on my feet the whole day. But we got it all done! At a cost...

Now, I want my life back to normal. I want to go through the list of authors I want to meet at the literary autographing event... I want to blog-hop and prepare reviews... I want to read! I want my life back :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's going to be a long day...

Good morning! :)

I have some energy still, so I'm going to use it to write this post LOL. Today is going to be a very, very, very long day... As I mentioned in a few posts, our urology department is organizing a day to raise awareness for men's health issues and is providing a free, walk-in clinic at a shopping mall for men. I think that is a great idea and I'm happy to help... but my lab is also collecting samples for our study and that part, less thrilled about :( Especially since the samples have to be processed all today, sigh. We're going to run ragged :( Ah well, part of the job, right?

I'm also half-afraid at the turn-up because they did some PR this year... Yikes. Although the interview the organizer gave was very good in my opinion...

So I'm going to be away from the online community the whole day... Just that, I'm not sure I'll be able to survive ^_^; But hopefully, after today, I'll be able to relax and plan my trip to RWA and also blog-hop and blog to my leisure...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monthly Reads: May 2011

15th is a good day to post the Monthly Reads post, right? Well at least, it's earlier than last month which is good :) This time, I went about it in a different way. Instead of writing the synopsis first, I wrote my impressions of the books... I almost didn't write synopsis. Ames told me not to bother... but it's not my style ^_^; However, I did try and I think I succeeded at keeping everything a bit shorter :)


1) Hounded by Kevin Hearne: B

2) Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison: B
Upcoming Review.

3) Lady Amelia's Secret Lover by Victoria Alexander: C+

Amelia and Robert Hathaway have been married for 6 years and it seems the passion in their relationship has faded away. Afraid that Robert is given his attention to someone else, Amelia comes up with a plot to reclaim her husband: make him jealous by taking a lover... and she has the perfect man in mind! However, Robert is unto Amelia and concocts a plot of his own... and he also has the perfect candidate in mind :)

This is a novella I've been wanting to read for a long time because I love Ms Alexander's writing :) I thought this was a very cute story, it proves that marriage takes work from both parties and that you cannot be too complacent. I like that both Amelia and Robert wanted to save their marriage and LOL at the plans they came up to. It was hilarious actually that both enlisted the help of Robert's twin LOL. All in all, a very cute novella :)

4) Swept Aside by Sharon Sala: D+

Swept Aside is the last book in Ms Sala's Storm Front trilogy. While the characters are not connected, the three stories have been taking place at the same time. So when Swept Aside starts, we all know that among those four prisoners who have escaped jail, one is actually an undercover DEA agent: Nick Aroyo. He and the other three convicts take refuge at Amalie Pope's house, "kidnapping" her in the process. So throughout the story, Nick has to protect Amalie while maintaining his cover. As for Amalie, she has just survived a shooting at her previous job. She was in a coma for a few weeks and when she woke up, she learned that her grandmother has passed away upon hearing the news of Amalie being shot. All Amalie wants now is to go home to heal physically and emotionally... but the last thing she expected was her house to be under siege by four on-the-run criminals and to have to fend against them. And while Nick has been protecting her... how much can she trust him?

Hmmm, this one is a tough one for me. I think one factor that wasn't in favor for Swept Aside is that I've read the book just after re-reading Angel Falls by Nora Roberts. In both books, the heroines were shot and while they survived, others died. When comparing the two heroines, I think Ms Roberts did a much better job at describing the trauma and how hard it is to survive. In Amalie's case, she has just recovered a couple weeks ago, then learned that her grandmother has died... and now, coming home, she's taken hostage and almost raped and that's the extent of her reaction? If I've been in Amalie's position, I would have been catatonic ^_^; There was one scene where Amalie totally freaked out and that made sense, but afterwards... it's as if what she's been through was pushed aside. Personally, I think the whole story was too much for Amalie to handle so soon after what she's been through... There's strong and tough and then, there's unbelievable ^_^; Also, looking at the big picture, I think the storyline was just too far-stretched for me and ultimately, it affected the romance as well.  I mean I liked Amalie and Nick's characters and under another undercover plot, it would have worked for me... but in this case? Nope. So not the best ending to a very average trilogy.

5) Gobsmacked by L.B. Gregg: C

Mark Meehan came home early from his shift to the hospital... to find his boyfriend in bed with their landlord. Shocked, Mark retreated without a word... However, later that day, he can't stand the betrayal anymore and assault his boyfriend... in church... with a bible. In a small town like Smithfield, it doesn't take long for everyone to find out what happened. Soon though, Mark realizes the real extent of his boyfriend's betrayal... and Mark is not about to go down quietly. And to complicate the situation, Mark's long-time crush, cop Tony Gervase, finally makes a move...

I bought this book during the literary signing at RT last year in Columbus.. and I figured I should read it before meeting Lisabea again this year at RWA! LOL. I heard a lot of good about the Men of Smithfied series and was looking forward to read Gobsmacked. I love the opening scene where Mark hits his boyfriend with a bible... LOL, for the longest time, I actually thought the book was titled Godsmacked LOL. However, Ames set me straight :) I still think it would have fit LOL.

Overall, I enjoyed Gobsmacked. I liked the characters; there was an honest quality about them. They were also genuine. I like that neither Mark or Tony were perfect. They had needs, they made mistakes, they act rashly. As a result, I liked their relationship and thought it was very realistic. What didn't work as well for me was the ex-boyfriend's storyline and Mark sleuthing around, "investigating" on his own. I don't know, I thought it didn't mesh together ^_^; Still, it was a nice book and now, I'm looking forward to the next book :) Which I'm going to get at RWA LOL.

6) Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning: B-

7) First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh: C+
Upcoming Review.

8) Baby, Drive South by Stephanie Bond: D+

9) The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan: C
Upcoming Review.

10) At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh: C
Upcoming Review.

11) Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh: D+
Upcoming Review.

12) Master of None by Sonya Bateman: C-

Gavyn Donatti might be skilled at what he does, unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact that he is the world unluckiest thief. Proof? His latest job. How could he lose what he was hired to steal?!? This puts him in the worst of situation because Trevor is not known to be understanding... and it puts his ex-girlfriend and a son he wasn't aware of in danger. Lucky for Gavyn, Ian, a djinn aka genie, appears to save the day... Is it really luck though? It's clear the anti-social djinn has an agenda of his own... and Gavyn soon finds out how it links to him...

So I've been very curious about this urban fantasy series. First, because it's an urban fantasy series published by Simon & Schuster and they've had some winners lately (Elemental Assassin and Dark Descendants) and also, because this book features a genie. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get into it as much as I had hoped. For me, the biggest problem was the world building. I felt the information was coming in a trickle and when I finally got the complete image, it was a bit too late. I mean, nobody enjoys the overload of information usually associated with world buildings, but at least, you know what's happening, what to expect. In this case, I was as lost as Gavyn and it wasn't very enjoyable ^_^; Also, I don't think Ian was the best person to deliver it. Of course, it made the most sense, since it's his world... but not a very amiable character ^_^; I really felt sorry for Gavyn, LOL.

Gavyn was a nice character, but I wonder if he is really hero material ^_^; The other characters were interesting and I guess have potential, but we'll have to find out in future books. As for the story, I enjoyed the paranormal side of it. However, I didn't care much about Trevor - Gavyn's "boss." I know that part is necessary for the whole book to make sense, but I wonder if Ms Bateman could have found a different way...

In the end, I'm not sure I'll pick up the next book...

13) The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane: C

14) Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen: B
Upcoming Review.

15) Love is a Four-Legged Word by Kandy Shepherd: D+

Madeline Cartwright is a chef and a cooking magazine editor and has just learned, through the lawyer, that her old, sweet and cheap landlord happened to be rich... Not only doesn't Maddy need to find a new place to live, but she is now the guardian of Brutus Stoddard, the mutt who inherited it all - if he survives the next three weeks. Tom O'Brian, the lawyer, is the one in charge of executing the will and make sure that Brutus survives... at the end of which, the law firm will get a hefty bonus, insuring him of making partner to his law firm, right on schedule to his 5-years plan. However, not everyone is happy about the will... and someone really doesn't want to see a dog getting loads of money.

All right, as you can see, from the grade, this book didn't really work for me ^_^; I think the main problem I had with Love is a Four-Legged Word is that Ms Shepherd takes a fairly typical storyline: young woman inheriting a fortune from an elderly man, and doesn't do anything more/different with it. As a result, the storyline is predictable and a bit uninteresting :(

Something else that didn't work too well for me was Maddy, the heroine. She was a bit contradictory in my opinion. When she's first introduced, Maddy comes across as someone competent, career-focused... However, her actions didn't reflect those first impressions and as the story went, Maddy turned into a klutzy and a bit of an air-headed heroine. It's not that I don't like klutzy heroines, I do actually, but instead of being charming with Maddy, it bothered me instead. As for Tom, I thought it was cute how he had a 5-years plan LOL. Also, I liked how smart he was and the ending of the case? That was great, that was a twist I didn't see coming and good for Tom. On a whole though, I'm not sure about their chemistry and their romance. I usually like happy-go-lucky heroine thawing out stuffy hero storylines, but Love is a Four-Legged Word just didn't do it for me. It was an okay read.

16) Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell: B-

Joey Miller and Aaron Chase are complete opposite. Joey is a social worker who believes in his work and he's already fallen in love 10 times in his life. Aaron is a paramedic who abhors social workers and foster care because of his past and who prefers to have no-string attached hook-ups. However, in this case, Joey knows that Aaron is THE one... and Aaron knows that his relationship with Joey is different... Can they work this out?

Ames has really jumped on the M/M bandwagon and one of her favorite authors happens to be K.A. Mitchell. So when Collision Course was offered free as an ebook on Borders, I got it :) It's been sitting in the TBR pile for a while and when I didn't know what to read, I decided this would do nicely :)

All in all, I enjoyed Collision Course. I think it was a very nice story and I like the romance between Joey and Aaron. It's always enjoyable to see someone reluctant to get involved, being drawn in a relationship :) There is such sweetness in it and it really makes me feel warm inside :) I also really enjoyed Joey's interactions with Aaron's family. Aaron had had such a difficult past and despite his rough behavior, it's clear that he loves his siblings... I like that Joey was not put off with Aaron's attitude towards his job :)

While I enjoyed the romance, I think as a whole, the story was lacking a little bit of omfph. Also, while I liked Joey, I don't think I fully understood him. Perhaps it's because I haven't read the first book in the series... Which I guess I should do :) Actually though, I'm more interested in the third book... :P

17) Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn: B

18) Demon Kissed by Patti O'Shea: B-

I'm copy/pasting the blurb of the book because I think it's an excellent summary for once :) And I don't think I can do better ^_^;

Demon slayer Bree Molina has always felt an attraction for fellow hunter Andras. She knew he was handsome and brave...but she's shocked to discover that Andras is a demon, too! That's just the first revelation Andras has in store for Bree. The demon world has put a price on her head--and the only way Andras can save Bree is by making her his mate....

Ms O'Shea is one of my favorite author and so, this was a novella I've been wanting to read for a while :) While Demon Kissed was very short, it was still a satisfying story and romance. I liked both Bree and Andras and they had chemistry :) My only issue with Demon Kissed however is that it reminded me a lot of Through A Crimson Veil, one of Ms O'Shea earlier works. In this case, Bree is the reluctant demon who needs to embrace her nature to survive... Sounds familiar? That is the only reason why Demon Kissed is not getting a B+ instead. Also, Ms O'Shea has created an interesting world inhabited by vampires and demons... I wouldn't mind reading a full-length novel set in it :) Actually, I'm hoping!

19) A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh: C
Upcoming Review.

20) Drawn in Blood by Andrea Kane: C+

Last time they were together, Sloane Burbank and Derek Parker were too stubborn to compromise and therefore, their relationship ended. This time, they're determined not to make the same mistakes because the truth is, they love each other and want to be together... However, their determination is tested when the FBI is investigating the origin of a painting and Sloane's father and his partners are persons of interest.Then,  Sloane's mother is attacked, their apartment robbed and Sloane's father tells her what really went on with the painting... So Sloane is keeping secrets from Derek, Derek has to work around Sloane... but neither realize the depth and complexity of the case they're working...

It's been a while since I read the book that precedes Drawn in Blood, Twisted, but I caught up really fast. I think Drawn in Blood's strongest element was its plot - the case. I thought it was very interesting, very suspenseful and also very original that it involved Sloane's father and his partners. The fact that it had to do with her father and men she considers her uncles added another layers in my opinion. In any case, very complex case with multiple layers... All I have to say is that the mafia can be scary... and never, never, never get into their bad side. Oh and revenge is indeed a dish best served cold ^_^; One thing that actually bothered me though with the whole Chinese mafia is the mix of Cantonese and Mandarin. If these people are from Hong Kong, then they speak Cantonese... Contrarily to popular belief, not every Hong Kong person is fluent in Mandarin... actually, they aren't. Anyway, just a very small detail considering how good of a job Ms Kane did.

I wouldn't say that Drawn in Blood is a romantic suspense novel. To me, it felt more like mystery/thriller book with a strong romance thread. Yeah, very slim difference, but it is there. The thing is Sloane and Derek are a couple now and are taking steps to move in together, build a life together. So it's not a matter of falling in love, but more working out the kinks of their relationship... and considering that Derek is part of the FBI and Sloane is a free agent and the case involves her father, there are many kinks. I did enjoy how the relationship progressed though, it's nice to see them work it through :)

By the way, I realized that I'm not much for investigations without rules. Guess I've watched too many cops shows and read too many books with cops, FBI and so on... Too used to procedures LOL. Anyway, Drawn in Blood was a solid book :) But I don't think everyone would enjoy it given the little romance there is and also, the storyline.

Books bought: +7
Books read: -20
TBR pile: -13

OMG, seriously?!? I can't believe it!! Woooohooo!! LOL, I know there were a lot of books from the TBR pile... and most of the Mary Balogh were from a friend or the library... but wow, I'm a happy camper! LOL. I think this is the best I've ever done since I started keeping track LOL. Too bad I know that June won't be as good ^_^;  Now, I just need to start working on those reviews! :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hauling Sunday XLVI

Ugh, is it possible to have a hang-over without drinking? Because I think that's what happened to me ^_^; I woke up on Friday with a sore throat and an achy ear... Not the most promising start of the day. I went to work and at least, Friday was a very relaxed day - very welcomed after the bad week I had. The clinic went well - I was able to recruit patients and there was low drama. Then, once I came back to my lab, I only had to take care of a few details :) That evening, we were all supposed to eat out - all-you-can-eat sushi - to celebrate our friend finishing his master program :) I have to say, I was looking forward to it, as we've had very few opportunity to hang out after hours...

So the reservation was at 7.30pm. I showed up early, which was okay... Unfortunately, the celebree - let's call him K - was revising his thesis with his supervisor. K was done on Tuesday with his thesis and he's been so happy and cheerful... till Friday. When I saw him on Friday, he looked all deflated, so sad :( Anyway, when we left for the restaurant, he was stuck with his supervisor... His labmate decided to wait for them and the other master student who was still not done with her thesis was going to come together with them... and they showed up at 8.30pm... and K and his supervisor were not even done yet ^_^; So after eating, they went back to the lab ^_^;

The rest of the group and I went to a bar, we figured they couldn't have much more to discuss and we should hang out a bit more, i.e. minus the supervisor. Also, another of our co-worker who couldn't make it for dinner was joining us afterwards. So we got to the bar at around 10.45pm... and waited while sipping drinks (Coca-Cola for me :P)... and waited... and waited till 2.45am and he still hadn't shown up ^_^; At which time, we called it quit. Seriously, being a graduated student is hard ^_^;

And because I'm not used to staying up so late, it screwed up all my week-end LOL. Felt really bad yesterday and therefore slept most of it. My sore throat is still not gone, although my ear is better. It also means I've barely done anything ^_^; No cleaning... no blogging... no planning :( Ugh.

So that's the story of my week-end. Hopefully, I'll have recover by tomorrow to start the week on a good footing!

LOL, enough about this boring stuff! Let's talk book. Unfortunately, this is going to be very short, because I only got one new book...

Hexed by Kevin Hearne - This is the second book of the series. Enjoyed the first one and was really looking forward to this one, partly to see how the series would evolve, partly because there's tons of witches in the story and partly because of the cover :)

Hexed was supposed to be the last book I bought before RWA... however, there was a 25% off at Chapters/Indigo... and I couldn't resist ^_^; So I went and bought some books today... but to find out what I bought, you'll have to come back next week :)

Now, to an excellent week!... I can always dream :P

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Ugh, sorry, I've been scarce!! Work is killing me, sigh :( My boss' demands, the changes of plans, planning for Men's Day, doing my own experiments while supervising summer students. It's been crazy and I've been cranky and whiny as a result ^_^;  By the way, let me tell you, 5 people in such a small room is too much!

So yeah, had a really bad week and I'm so happy that it's the week-end!! Hopefully, this week-end, I'll be able to do some more planning for RWA! And reading! Ahhhh, that's a nice life :)

What about everyone's else? Any plans this week-end?

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
published by Berkley in May 2011
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, but she's still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be-now that the Order is disparaging her good name. Plus, many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate's mate.

So when Atlanta's premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. But it turns out that this is not an isolated incident. Kate needs to get to the bottom of it-and fast, or the city and everyone dear to her may pay the ultimate price...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, Book #5

The Story: Okay, so the blurb has it all wrong!! In Magic Slays, Kate is getting used to her status as Curran's mate, i.e. Lady Beast, Alpha, Consort, etc., as well as owner of Cutting Edge. Unfortunately, after the events of Magic Bleeds, her ex-boss at the Order made sure that Kate's reputation was in tatters... and as a result, she hasn't had any business. Therefore, when the Red Guard comes to her for help, Kate and her new employee - Andrea whose shifter identity was revealed - jump on the case... even though the details are sketchy. The Red Guard was entrusted with the protection of an inventor, but said inventor along with his project disappeared, leaving a body behind. Kate knows there's much more behind all this, but she's not getting more information from the Red Guard... and let's face it, beggars can't be choosers.

And as predicted, Kate and Andrea soon find out they've stumbled over something big and dangerous... possibly even worst than Kate's aunt, Erra - Erra was only after Kate while this, it could eradicate Atlanta. And also in Kate's true fashion, while investigating, she still has to take care of mundane details such as shapeshifter's politics, her ward running away from school once again and being entrusted with a sex-up teenage bouda. Always fun times ahead with Kate :P

My Opinion: I'm still trying to figure out whether the back blurb being so wrong was a good thing or a bad thing LOL. When I first read the blurb and thought the book was about vampires, I pretty much discarded Magic Slays from my mind. Oh, I was going to buy it, but meh, wasn't that interested, because well vampires in this world building are a bit boring ^_^; However, Magic Slays turned out into something else entirely and I really ended up enjoying it. So the blurb lowered my expectations and as a result, I was really pleasantly surprised :) Guess it was a good thing then :)

I think that once again, Ms Andrews did a fantastic job with the story. It was interesting and engaging; perhaps not full of action as the previous book, but still had a decent amount in it :) Also, I like how she incorporates so many threads in her books, pretty much seamlessly! There is so much happening that it's mind-boggling, but I never feel overwhelmed. Instead, everything meshes well together, balances each other out and makes for a superior quality read. My only real complaint about Magic Slays is that LOL, it was too short. The book is quite thin, especially in comparison to Magic Bleeds. Although everything was wrapped by the end, I just wanted to read more about Kate and her friends :P Seriously, a year is too long!!

While the storylines are good, what really makes this series is the characters. Kate's sarcasm and cynicism is just hilarious, seriously :) Add in Andrea, Curran and company and there's definitively fun times ahead :) There were many LOL moments for me while reading Magic Slays, and what I like the most is that it's not in-your-face comedic relief. It's just snappy banters that makes you smile... true comedy I guess :P And it's those moments, little things really, that really balance out those action-filled, life threatening instances... For some reasons, I just love the following snippet LOL.
The phone did work and Teddy Jo answered on the second ring. I had once read that every day offered a new lesson. The lesson for today, among other things, seemed to be that bargaining with the Greek angel of death should be avoided by any means, because it cost you an arm and a leg.
"Seven thousand," Teddy Jo's gruff voice announced over the phone.
"Six five."
"Kate, the thing cost me five grand. I've got to make a profit."
"First, it's used."
"Now look here," Teddy Jo growled. "It's not a Cadillac. It's a body freezer. The value doesn't drop because you drive it off the lot."
I'm also really enjoying the relationships in the Kate Daniels series. Kate started off pretty lonely, but she now has friends, a mate and a ward. I really like the friendship between Kate and Andrea, there's an understanding between them... something that Kate cannot get from Curran.

Speaking of relationships, I was a bit sad with the direction Ms Andrews took regarding Kate's relationship with her stepfather, Voron :( Theoretically, it makes sense really... However, emotionally, I feel like Kate. It's just sad that the one memory she really cherishes, the one constant  from her childhood had to be taken away from her :( On the other hand, I was quite happy for her to discover some kin and really, they're hilarious as well. I hope they play a bigger role in the future!

Finally, Curran. It's so fun to see Kate knee-deep in shapeshifter's politics :) One thing that's sure, Kate is a very quick-thinker! LOL. I'm enjoying the relationship between Curran and Kate, although they didn't have as much interactions as I thought they would. I think though, that was a good decision from Ms Andrews... not to overload the readers, make us cherish it more :) I'm also happy it's not all pink and perfect between Kate and Curran - as Kate still has a lot of doubts and is not used to loving someone so much. Furthermore, I like that Ms Andrews addressed the issues of Kate's identity - the fact that Curran knew before she told him. It just made sense to me and it was a niggle that I had... I mean, with all he's seen Kate accomplish, to not have at least some doubts just didn't make sense to me given his position, his powers. Know your enemy... and Roland is definitively an enemy.

All and all, I was very happy with Magic Slays :) It was a pleasure to re-visit Kate and Curran. I was happy that we saw a bit more of Derek, but disappointed that there was so little of Raphael, Jim and Dali... Although from what I hear, Andrea might get a spin-off book which means Raphael should feature prominently and we can find Jim and Dali in Magic Dreams, a novella part of the anthology Hexed.

My Grade: A-. I don't know if it's because I had low expectations of Magic Slays, but it turned out to be a great book that I enjoyed immensely. Looking forward to the next book, hopefully, it will involve Hugh d'Ambray :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Need to run, I'm late to meet a friend! I hope you enjoy the review :)

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publishers) in May 2011

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) not in love with her older brother's best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) not in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever and the world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love
It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is . . .
D) all of the above
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Smith-Smythe Quartet, Book #1

The Story: Marcus Holroyd is the Earl of Chatteris. As an only child with an indifferent father, his childhood was lonely... until he met Daniel Smythe-Smith at Eton and became best of friends. As a result, he spent more time with the boisterous Smythe-Smiths, including Honoria - Daniel's youngest sister, than his own family. Being the youngest, Honoria tried to tag along with the boys whenever they would let her, earning her the nickname of "Bug."

Unfortunately, Marcus and Honoria have not seen each other much in the past three years, ever since Daniel had to flee the country after a scandalous duel gone wrong. With their older sisters all married, Honoria finds herself alone with their mother who's not been herself since Daniel's departure... Despite the circumstances, Honoria is determined to find herself a husband this season - at 21 years old, she wants to start her own family as soon as possible.

What Honoria does not realize is Marcus has been keeping an eye on her and her suitors...

My Opinion: Initially, I was going to wait till RWA to get Just Like Heaven, but after reading the back blurb, I couldn't wait! It sounded so cute and I really liked the idea of the Smythe-Smith ladies getting their own books, since they've been the running joke in the Bridgerton series LOL. All in all, I'm glad I didn't wait as the book was indeed very cute and enjoyable, although not exactly what I expected.

My favorite part of Just Like Heaven was the characters. I think Ms Quinn did a fantastic job at creating and developing Marcus and Honoria :) I liked their personalities - gentle and caring. I like that while being from nobility, they were "normal" people. For example, Marcus preferring to stay in the country and taking care of his estate. And I love the fact that Honoria knew she was a bad musician, knew that the quartet was horrible, but still went ahead to perform because it was a tradition and by following tradition, she was part of something :) To me, Ms Quinn definitively came up with appealing characters and were perfect for the friends to lovers storyline.

The book's storyline actually surprised me. From the blurb, I was expecting our H/H to be aware of their feelings, but they weren't. At the beginning of Just Like Heaven, Honoria is looking for a husband and Marcus was never on her radar, as she considered him as a brother. However, through the events, she realizes her feelings for him and him, for her. In that aspect,  Ms Quinn did a great job :) I enjoyed the familiarity between the two characters and their falling in love was well-written and realistic. The storyline is quite passive - not a lot happened actually - and I think some readers will find Just Like Heaven a bit boring. However, for me, it worked. It's light, fluffy, fun and focuses on the characters. It gets tiring to read about tortured heroes and intrigue/mystery in historicals sometimes. For me, Just Like Heaven was a nice change of pace and hit the right spot :)

I was a bit disappointed that the story didn't revolve more about the Smythe-Smith musicale. I thought we'd see more of the "behind-the-scenes" LOL. It was fun to see Marcus cringed every time it was mentioned though :) And like I mentioned, I liked that Honoria was aware at how bad a violinist she was and how cringe-worthy the musicale actually is. Unfortunately, while Honoria and Marcus were very appealing characters, I cannot say the same about the other ladies of the quartet: Sarah, Iris and Daisy ^_^; Honoria was great because while she knew they were bad, she still embark on the adventure with gutso. I understand that for Sarah and Iris who might be good musicians that putting such a bad performance is disappointing... but still. They were a bit too negative in my opinion, too whiny and the quarrels at the end got on my nerves. As for Daisy, she was way too oblivious, but then, she's young. It'll be interesting to see how Ms Quinn will develop these characters in the future. As it is, I was more interested in Daniel and Ramsgate's son (can't remember his name at the moment).

My other issue with Just Like Heaven was the sex scene. Yes, we romance readers expect sex in our romance novels, even in historicals. However, don't just tack a sex scene at the end of the novel just to please readers ^_^; I felt the sex scene in Just Like Heaven was totally superfluous - it occurred in the last chapter! Seriously, I would have been happier without any sex in the story, since it wasn't necessary and didn't really fit in ^_^; There are authors out there that defy this trend and does it well - either there's no sex or it's almost closed doors and it works :)

My Grade: B. In my opinion, the enjoyment of Just Like Heaven is going to depend on the reader's mood. There is nothing ground-breaking about the story or characters in Just Like Heaven; it's simply a book meant to be enjoyed for its characters and simplicity :) It's a book to make you feel better by its fluffiness and fun :)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Hauling Sunday XLV

Another week has gone by... Seriously, where does time go? I mean, in not too long, my week-end will be over and I'll have to go back to work :( Why? Oh why? LOL. Yeah, it's pretty much the same lamentations ^_^;

Work has been busy. My boss is pushing hard so we get some stuff done before I go on vacation. Yes, they can't function without me! LOL. Plus, next week (gosh, next week already!), there's the annual Men's Health Day which is an event to raise awareness about men's health issues. Duh. However, that means we're getting a lot of clinical samples and my boss wants everything analyzed within 3-4 weeks... Yes, he plans to kill us - especially since I'll be gone for a week during that time. The worst though is that he keeps changing his mind about his plans. Like somehow, we're doing an experiment and now I'm going to have to prepare 60 samples for it. Anyway. His choices. And then this summer, I'll have 3 summer students under my supervision... My lab is tiny! 4 is pretty much the limit capacity and now, we're 5! Yes, we're going to step on each other's toes, sigh.

Anyway, enough about work. My room is a mess - as usual ^_^; I need to clean it, just so I can make room for my new precious from RWA LOL. Also, I want to purge the bookshelves a little so I can give away some of the books when I'll be in NYC :P Speaking of RWA and NYC, my plans are coming along... There's still lots of things up in the air, but at least, I know when I'm heading to NYC and when I'm coming home LOL. Still need to sit down and take a look at that list of authors :) It is really intimidating LOL.

Now, let see what books I got this week :) It'll be no surprise at all LOL


Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh - Really, do I need to tell you why I got this book? LOL. Definitively the most anticipated book of the summer in my opinion :) And it lived up to expectations and it's been getting great reviews :)

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews - I really enjoyed the last couple of releases in the Kate Daniels series and Ms Andrews has become an auto-buy for me :) So picking up Magic Slays was a no-brainer even though the blurb was so-so. However, can I tell everyone how misleading this blurb is?!?

By the way, did anyone notice that they tweaked up the cover of Magic Slays? When the cover was first revealed, there was definitively something weird in it... I say it was the boobs LOL. Here, take a look:

Original on the left and official on the right. See the magic of photoshop? LOL. She definitively seems to have less boobs and it somehow make the cover LOL. Well seems like someone at Berkley reads blogs and I'm glad :)

And oh, I did another quick stop at the library yesterday and here's what I added to my pile :)


So if all goes well, I only have one more book to buy... Hexed by Kevin Hearne and that should be it till RWA. Yep...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Review: The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane

Disclaimer: I've received The Girl Who Disappeared Twice as an eARC from Netgalley

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane
published by Mira (Harlequin) in May 2011
If she'd only turned her head, she would have seen the car containing her daughter, struggling to escape her kidnapper. Despite years determining the fates of families, family court judge Hope Willis couldn't save her own. Now she's grasping at any hope for Krissy's rescue. She calls Casey Woods and her team of investigators, Forensic Instincts.

A behaviorist. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A former Navy SEAL. Unconventional operatives. All with unique talents and reasons for joining Casey's group.

Able to accurately read people after the briefest encounter, Casey picks up signs of a nervous spouse, a guilty conscience, a nanny that hides on her cell. She watches as secrets creep into the open.

But time is running out, and the authorities are bound by the legal system. Not Casey's team. For they know that the difference between Krissy coming back alive and disappearing forever could be as small as a suspect's rapid breathing, or as deep as Hope's dark family history.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Forensic Instincts, Book #1

The Story: Family Court Judge Hope Willis was looking forward to an early evening where she could spent time with her 5 years old daughter Krissy when she received a phone call informing her of every parent's worst nightmare: Krissy is missing. It's even worst for Hope because she's been through this nightmare as a child when her twin sister Faith was kidnapped from their house right under Hope's eyes and was never found. As such, Hope knows how crucial the first few hours are and that time is the essence. She wants to do everything in her power to find Krissy and therefore hires Forensic Instincts.

Casey Woods is an independent profiler who used her trust fund to create Forensic Instincts. She assessed meticulously and recruited Marc Deveraux, an ex-Navy SEAL and ex-FBI agent, and Ryan McKay, a brilliant techno-wizard, and together they help law enforcement agencies to solve crime... and the reason they are so successful is that they are not bound by rules and bureaucracy which allows them more freedom.

When Hope calls, Forensic Instincts has just closed a case, and while she's running on very little sleep, Casey doesn't have the heart to turn down Hope's request. This means she'll have to deal with the FBI among which is her boyfriend, SSA Kyle Hutchinson, aka Hutch. However, everyone is aware of their priority: bringing Krissy back home safely. Unfortunately, given what the parents do for a living - a family court judge and a defense attorney, suspects and motives are not in low supply...

And perhaps, the only way to find Krissy is to solve a 30 years old mystery...

My Opinion: Last month, while checking for the new releases to make the New Releases post over at Breezing Through, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ms Kane had a new book coming out with Mira! Her last book Drawn into Blood was released 2 years ago and I haven't heard from her ever since... so I thought perhaps she had disappeared like it happens to some other authors. Anyway, I'm glad she's back and being with Mira is just a bonus for me :)

Let's be clear, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice is not a romantic suspense, it's much more mystery/thriller although Casey is in a budding relationship with Hutch and we've been introduced to Ryan's love interest. However, there's no doubt that the focus is the suspense and the romance is an after-thought.

To me, I thought the suspense was very well done and it was definitively the book's strongest element. There were a lot of twists and turns, the whole case was very complex, layered and at the same time, it was very different than most suspense out there. Nowadays, I feel that romantic suspense books are very bloody, gory and focused on murders... but having a child missing is completely different - on both procedural and emotional fronts. I also thought Ms Kane did a great job at tying up everything together. Definitively well-written in that aspect :)

What didn't work as well for me was the idea of Forensic Instincts... Actually, not the group itself, but their methods and the fact that they are skirting the lines. I understand it gets them results and most of the time faster, but ethically... It's really understandable that law agencies don't welcome them with open arms. I do get the idea of why such a group is necessary, but reading about it ^_^; Perhaps in future books, if there are less mention of them skirting the laws, then it'll go down more easily. Also, I'm not sure Casey's reasons for founding Forensic Instincts are strong enough for me... But that's just my opinion.

Another issue I had with The Girl Who Disappeared Twice is that I felt like I missed the first book. I felt like I was literally dropped into the middle of something - Forensic Instincts is already founded, but still in developing stage, Casey and Hutch are already in a relationship... So as a reader, I missed all the beginnings... which I found have really liked to see.

Despite those flaws, I did like The Girl Who Disappeared Twice. There were very little romance and character development. Still,  if there is another book about Forensic Instincts, I will definitively be picking it up because I'd love to find out more about Casey and her team and I do want more of her relationship with Hutch. I think that Casey and Hutch's relationship was very mature and it was really nice to read about. Two persons who are able to put their troubles aside to talk honestly, decide what their next step is going to be and recognizing that what they have is something special... very mature and refreshing :) I really like them as a couple, I think they complement each other very well. For fans of Ms Kane, I'd say Casey and Hutch's relationship is very reminiscent of Sloane and Derek's in Draw into Blood.

My Grade: C. All in all, there are definitively some issues in this book, but at the same time, a lot of potential :) Enough that I wouldn't hesitate to pick up the next one :)