Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hauling Sunday LI

Okay, can someone tell me how another week has gone by?!? I really can't believe it's the end of July already!! RWA was a month ago! A month!! Time goes by too fast :(

Anyway, I'm really sorry I haven't been more on blogland these past few weeks. Work has been busy and instead of blogging, I've been reading :) Wait till you see my monthly recap!! :) Also, my sister has been spending a lot of time in my room, i.e. she's been hijacking my computer LOL. I'll try my best though to get back in the rhythm :)

In the meantime...

Confessions of an Improper Bride by Jennifer Haymore - I've never read Ms Haymore's books before, mostly because her debut novel, A Hint of Wicked, was about a love triangle... and I don't like that story trope. However, when I read the blurb of Confessions of an Improper Bride, it sounded really interesting... and yes, I like twins storylines LOL.

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher - I've really been looking forward to Ghost Story!! Dying to find out what happened to Harry and where the series is going from here on :) Now that Mr Butcher is done with with the Codex Alera series, I wonder if there'll be two Dresden Files books a year... but I doubt it. Does that mean, there'll be another series? What do you think?

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong - Okay, so I haven't read Waking the Witch yet, but still went ahead with Spell Bound... it's Ms Armstrong and Women of the Otherworld series - what can I say? Or more like, what can I do? LOL. And as you can see, I've elected to go with the Canadian cover. It breaks the flow a little, but I really like the Canadian cover of Spell Bound :)

And that's it for the week :) Not bad, right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen

Disclaimer: I've received Playing Dirty as an eARC from Netgalley

Ouf, took me some time and efforts to write this review, but here it is :) Hope you enjoy!

Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen
published by HQN Books in July 2011
When old enemies are thrown together, all bets are off...

Way back in high school, golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet. Now a decade older and a head turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was— and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can't refuse.

A documentary film producer, Cade is shooting a movie about the mysterious mansion Ava inherited. And he wants her as his personal concierge. She's certainly professional enough to be at his beck and call without giving him everything he wants. Like another shot at having her in his bed. But Ava doesn't count on Cade's determination. Because he's never gotten over her— and he's not above playing dirty to score a second chance at a red–hot future...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Sisterhood Diaries Book #3

The Story: There's nothing more hurtful or humiliating than losing her virginity as the fat girl in a bet... and that's why Ava Spencer has never forgiven Cade Gallari. For the past ten years, Ava has successfully maintained her weight and now a size 12, Ava is proud of her curves. However, some wounds take time to heal and at times, insecurity still flares up.

Cade Gallari knows what he did to Ava thirteen years ago was shitty... and he's been apologizing and trying to make amends ever since, but Ava keeps giving him the cold shoulder. Well this time, she doesn't have a choice to hear him out. A documentary film producer, Cade wants to make a movie about the Wolcott's mystery. To do so, he needs access to the Wolcott mansion which Ava and her two best friends have inherited. In addition, he'd like to hire Ava as the production company's concierge as she is the best in the business.

Ava would like nothing better than to send Cade on his way. Unfortunately in this economy, her business has suffered and the mansion is a big strain on all three women's finances that Cade's offer could alleviate. However, Ava is determined to be strictly and only professional with Cade... He's hurt her once and she's not about to let him do it again, no matter the sparks flying between them.

My Opinion: I am soooo happy that Ms Andersen got to write this book and we, readers, got to read it!! Playing Dirty was definitively an enjoyable read with great characters and totally worth the wait :)

The best part of Playing Dirty was definitively the H/H. Ms Andersen was able to come up with characters that were smart, likable and real :) I can't tell how much I enjoyed Ava. She's strong and determined, she knows how to deal with people, is good at her job and enjoys it and has great friends for support. She's also not afraid to confront her feelings, admits when she's made a mistake and take steps to rectify it. I mean, seriously, isn't she awesome? LOL. Oh sure, life is not perfect. At times, she still fears insecure about her weight and I think it's perfectly normal, especially since her mother keeps harping her about it. Also, she might come from money, but it does make up for absent parents. Still, she's happy and she's comfortable with who she is and her life... and that's really what stood out for me from Ava :)

As for Cade, well from the little appearance he had in Bending the Rules, I was expecting him to be a bit more cold, a bit more aloof, a bit more "I come from money." Surprisingly though, he turned out to be outgoing, quite a likable fellow and a very good hero. I liked his personality and his dedication to his work. And also his patience and determination. To keep apologizing and having his apology shoved into his face... well it's not easy. Sure, he deserved it, but not everyone would keep on apologizing. Another point in his favor is that Cade realized immediately the mistake he did, betraying Ava - how much he hurt her, but also hurt himself because he genuinely liked her... and strangely enough, I think it made him a better person. I also appreciated that he was not simply a stupid jock when he was in high school, but that there was circumstances to the bet. It doesn't excuse it, but at least, it explains it.

I think the romance in Playing Dirty was great. Given the circumstances, Ava and Cade had a lot to overcome in order to have a successful relationship and Ms Andersen handled it well. I think the secret to this story was balance. In order to make this romance work, there was three points in my opinion: 1) Cade had to grovel, 2) Ava had to forgive him and 3) Ava's insecurities about her weight. What I liked is that Cade did a good amount of groveling - perhaps it helped that the bad thing he did was prior to the book. Too often, heroines let the heroes go too easily in my opinion... but it was not the case with Cade. Another thing that works is that Ava wasn't too stubborn about Cade. She still harbored a lot of bad feelings towards Cade at the beginning of the book, but gradually, she changed her mind. She saw him, interacted with him and her opinion changed. She did cling to the bet from time to time, but that was mainly at the beginning of the story which was understandable. Later on, she was able to let go and move on and that was great. As for Ava's insecurities about her weight, I was glad that it wasn't mentioned at nausea. Yes, it was an important part of the book, but Ms Andersen didn't repeat it over and over again. See, like I said, balance :) There was just enough of everything for it to work for me :) Of course, it helped that Ava and Cade were such great characters with very good chemistry :) All in all, I really enjoyed the dynamic between the H/H... They gave as much as they got which made for a great romance :)

Other things that Ms Andersen did well in Playing Dirty was to show the friendship between Ava, Poppy and Jane. I really enjoyed the dynamics between the three women and Ms Andersen gave us just enough of it :) As in, Poppy and Jane did not steal the spotlight from Ava. Also, I really enjoyed seeing Ava works as a concierge, jack-of-all-trade indeed, as well as seeing some of the steps for the documentary. It gave the readers the opportunity to really understand the characters and see another side of them :)

Unfortunately, I also had a few issues with Playing Dirty. As with everyone, I find that the diamonds mystery was a bit superfluous. It would have been more interesting to have Ava and Cade try to solve it, instead of adding a villain. His presence broke the pacing of the book in my opinion, because having his point of view just felt out of place. Another issue is that I felt the last quarter of the book was a bit too rushed. I would have liked to have seen Cade and Ava develop their relationship a bit more before declaring their love. When Cade said "I love you" to Ava, I knew she was going to freak out. It definitively was too soon. It's true that from Cade's POV, he's always loved Ava... but she has just forgiven, you've just started "seeing" each other and already, you're saying the words... Nope. At least, Ava realized that she needed to grab onto Cade :) Also, there was the relationship between Ava and her mother. It was nice to see Ava's mother finally realizing what she's been doing all those years... but I thought it was a bit too perfect. Like Ms Andersen was trying to wrap up everything a bit too nicely. Perhaps if it was a bit more developed... LOL, I guess I just wanted the book to be longer LOL.

All in all, I think Harlequin was wise to come back on their decision and allow Ms Andersen to write this story. Also, big big kudos to Ms Andersen to deliver, because this was a book readers were looking forward to and it was really good :)

My Grade: B+ 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hauling Sunday L

Hi everyone!!

Sorry I've been scarce on blogland this past week. Work has kept me busy ^_^; as well as reading!! :) The good news (aside that I'm reading) is I did a big experiment this week and it worked :) Yay! LOL. Hopefully, it means I'll have a bit more time to myself this week :)

Here are the books I bought this week :)

Hammered by Kevin Hearne - It's no real surprise I picked this one up. At this point, I have to admit, I do have a few doubts about the series, but the GoodReads rating for it is really good. So hopefully, it'll surprise me :)

Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen - I really enjoy Ms Andersen's writing and I'm really happy she got the chance to write this book!! By the way, this one doesn't count towards my TBR pile, as I've already read it :) If everything goes well, i.e. I'm inspired, then the review should be up tomorrow. Cross your fingers and knock on wood LOL.

And voil√† my new books :) Not bad, right? :)  I'm looking forward to this week though as there are many good releases coming out :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monthly Reads: June 2011

I saw two Monthly Recaps on blogland yesterday, so I figured I'm not that late to the party LOL. June was an extremely, extremely busy month for me. First, there were the summer students in my lab to take care, then the clinic day on which we collected the samples. Ugh. We're still not done processing it. Whatever, LOL. And while RWA was a lot of fun and great time, I did not read a lot during. Well actually, I did not read at all LOL.

Given everything going on, I was still able to read 11 books... which wow, I didn't expect LOL. But hey, I'll take it! Here is the list:

1) Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh: B+
Upcoming Review.

2) Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews: A-

3) Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan: C

Love is the Higher Law is about three teenagers/young adults - Claire, Peter and Jasper - who live in New York City and their reaction to the events of 9/11. I find it really hard to summarize this book, because to some extent, it's quite philosophical and so I won't attempt it. Sorry ^_^;

I picked up this book because it was written by Mr Levithan whose writing I really enjoyed previously. I actually had no idea the book was about 9/11 ^_^; I don't regret picking it up, but I have to admit, this is much deeper than what I usually read and as a result, I didn't enjoy it that much. At times, it was very tedious because it's all about their feelings, but at the same time, they don't know how they feel. For example, Jasper knows how he should feel, but he's a bit numb and wonder if it's really wrong not to feel. Another aspect that didn't really work for me is the whole 9/11 event. It's going to sound a bit unfeeling, but the events on 9/11 didn't affect me as much because I'm not American. The newscasts, the patriotism, the aftermath and then, later on, the war. An event such as this one brings together a country... but not the neighboring country... It's like the Japan tsunami earlier this year. It's horrific and the first few days, it's on the news everywhere, but after that... it becomes a distant memory for those who are not involved, touched. It shouldn't, but it is... and 9/11 is the same for me  :( So I think this is another reason why Love is the Higher did not reach me as much.

What I did like about this book is reading about the aftermath of 9/11 - not in a bloodthirsty way. Just, how the characters felt in the few days after where everything was kind of in limbo. How it was, how the community got together, etc. It must have felt so unrealistic. All in all though, this book was not for me. I'm giving it a C for the feelings it brings up and the writing. However, if you want a story about characters, then not much happens :(

4) Hexed by Kevin Hearne: C+

5) Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey: B-

6) Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts: C

After 12 years of touring the world, Vanessa finally returns home - but it is under bittersweet circumstances. She has just lost her father, who's been her anchor throughout her career as a concert pianist, and as a result, wants answers from her estranged mother. Why did she let him take her away, why has she not contact Vanessa after she left? However, her mother is not the only person she will confront because to her surprise, Brady Tucker is also back in Hyattown. The rebellious boy who once held her heart when she was 16 has followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a doctor, and he's in Hyattown to stay...

Lately, I've really been in the mood for la Nora's writing and though I've been re-reading a lot of her books. I came across Perfect Harmony which is a compilation containing Unfinished Business and Local Hero and so bought it, because I have not read either story. While reading Unfinished Business, I couldn't help but think that it was the ancestor of Carnal Innocence as both heroines are world-famous concert musicians and have difficult relationship with their parents. Anyway, Unfinished Business was a typical Nora Roberts short romance: it has good writing, good dynamics between the characters and the storyline is solid. However, as a whole, the book is not memorable. The vibe Vanessa gives off is very standoffish, especially towards her mother. I can understand her resentment at her mother; however, at the same time, I thought that it went both ways. Why didn't Vanessa reach out to her mother? She wasn't a kid of a toddler when her father took her away. She could have come back way earlier, if she really wanted. Also, it was obvious that Vanessa's father was not innocent in the conflict. Redeeming factor of this book in my eyes were the hero and his father. Love the friendship between Vanessa and Brady's father, very nice... and I thought Brady was a good man. Conclusion? A nice book to read, but not one that will leave a long-lasting impression.

7) Local Hero by Nora Roberts: C-

Local Hero is about a single mother, Heather Wallace, moving in a new apartment building with her son, Radley. Radley quickly befriends their neighbor, Mitch Dempsey, who turns out to be the author of the popular comics "Commander Zark" and Rad's idol. Very quickly, Mitch is falling for the son and the mother.. but Heather's been burn in love before and is not ready to commit. After all, she can take care of her son all on her own.

Very short synopsis, but it pretty  much sums all the storyline. What I liked the most about Local Hero was the hero, Mitch. I liked his nonchalant attitude, the way he befriended Radley. It was really clear he enjoyed Radley's company and let the boy knows. On the outside, he looks irresponsible, but looks can be deceptive :) As opposed to Mitch, I didn't like Heather as much. She definitively was a great, loving mother... but as a woman. I don't know, a bit too suspicious of other people's motives, a bit too standoffish as well. Also, I thought Mitch fell in love with Heather a little too fast. I can understand his friendship to Radley, but his attraction to Heather? Still, I liked that the story was focused on the relationship and that Radley was a part of it :) So once again, solid but a bit bland.

8) The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade: C+

Will Killian is a necromancer who's working very hard at hiding what he is from the ghosts as well as the living and hoping that by the end of high school, he'll be free to leave town and start life afresh instead of being institutionalized. However, that's before one of the popular girl, Alona Dare, is run by a bus and becomes a ghost. Suddenly, he has all the ghosts in the neighborhood asking him to help them out, has to teach Alona how to be a ghost and guide her to the light. At the same time, something fishy is going on and Will kept being stalked by a dark cloud...

Okay, it says a lot that I don't really remember what went on in this book when it comes to the action/mystery part of it. Sigh. However, I do remember liking Will. It's hard to be a necromancer, especially when the power seems to be hereditary, and after his father has committed suicide because he couldn't do it anymore. Will's plan is to finish high school and just go away, some city big enough that the ghost density will be less and where his moves and conversations won't be under the scrutiny of a psychiatrist. It's a good plan, but a little lonely. I also liked that Will was a good son, that he cared about his mother's feeling. In contrast, I didn't really like Alona... Seems to be a theme this month ^_^; I know Ms Kade intentionally wrote Alona's character the way she did, but really. I felt Alona was spoiled and superficial. All she cared was being the in the popular clique and the people's perception of her. Of course, as you read the book, you realize that Alona has more depth and that her family is not picture perfect... However, it's really hard for me to overcome my first impression of Alona :(  And because I didn't like Alona all that much, it definitively affected my enjoyment of the book. Also, I have to admit, I'm not sure where this relationship between Will and Alona is going... I mean, yes, when Will touches Alona, she's solid because he's a necromancer... but can that really turn into a romance?

So not really sure I'll be picking up the next book, although it's been getting good reviews. I did like Ms Kade's writing, her voice. It was engaging and The Ghost and The Goth was a quick read. If she would write something else, I would definitively pick it up :)

9) More than a Mistress by Mary Balogh: B+
Upcoming Review.

10) Veil of Night by Linda Howard: D

Jaclyn Wilde is one of the best wedding planners there is and she's worked with a lot of brides... but none as demanding and unreasonable as Cassie Edwards. When Bridezilla slaps her, Jaclyn is just happy to walk away... but even dead, Cassie is causing Jaclyn problem when Jaclyn becomes a murder suspect. Also, the situation is dicey because the lead investigator turns out to be Detective Eric Wilder, whom Jaclyn just had an one-night stand with the night before...

Okay, since this is a Linda Howard book, it's been reviewed a lot on blogland and unfortunately, I won't be adding anything new. I didn't really have any problems with the H/H, they were okay and actually kind of well developed. However, I just didn't feel any connection to them. What bothers me a lot though is the fact that Jaclyn didn't understand that Eric was doing his job. She was so angry at him and it seemed to me since she did nothing wrong, she didn't have to worry about being questioned. He had to cover all his bases and okay, was a bit rude... but the guy was doing his job and later, explained himself. What more does she want? But I think what bothered me the most though is that she gave him the boot after their night together. Talk about mixed signals.

Another reason why Veil of Night is getting such a low grade is that there was no depth to the story. The case was pretty straightforward - no twist, no turn, and the H/H actually didn't spend that much time together or with other characters... so it was a lot of monologues and very little action. That's not a typical Linda Howard book for me. All and all, Veil of Night just didn't work that well for me.

11) The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh: B+
Upcoming Review.

Books bought: + a gazillion
Books read: -11
TBR pile: + (a gazillion - 11)

Okay, sorry, my mini-reviews this month suck ^_^; I think I need to write more reviews, get back into a rhythm. Unfortunately, it won't be happening tonight ^_^; Still, I think my writing reflects my impressions of the books so that's what matters :)

Also, I'm cheating here, because I'm not sure I want to know how many books I added to the TBR pile this month, LOL. I mean, do you count books that you got for free? Because technically, I'm counting the books I bought, right? Plus, some books I've already read... so they shouldn't count, right? Also, I came back in July, so do the books count for June or July? Yes, yes, I'm splitting hair here LOL. I know that before I left for NYC, I bought 5 books and that in the month of June, I read 11 books :) Good enough :) By the way, I'm really happy I made it into the double-digits in June. I didn't think so, the reading felt so slow last month... so all is good :)

So that's it for June! Very soon, I'll be working on July LOL. In the meantime, I should be able to squeeze out a few reviews, so stay tuned! :) By the way, any books in the past few months you'd like me to review?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hauling Sunday XLIX

A new Hauling Sunday post. Shocker LOL. Yes, despite bringing back so many books from the US, I still went bought books... but not too many :) Hey, if I didn't, you'd wonder if I'm okay :)

Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett - A new urban fantasy series by Simon & Schuster featuring a witch. LOL, I think all the words in that sentence are key, except perhaps "a" and "featuring" LOL.

A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran - Gorgeous cover and sounds like my type of story as well :)

And that's it since I came back from RWA. You have to admit, two books - not bad right? What about you? What are your new precious?

Now, I need to catch up on my Monthly Reads post and reviews... Hopefully, that means you'll be hearing a lot from me in the next few weeks :) Yay!

Friday, July 15, 2011

RWA 2011 in NYC - Part V

Okay, I think this post will be the last of the recaps! Yay! Can you imagine if I'd have squeeze everything in one or two posts? Yeah, I can't either.

Day 7

Friday was the last day of the conference :( It was a bit sad, but at the same time, lots of exciting stuff. The first thing on the agenda was publisher signings, yay!! It was Berkley vs Ballantine and I opted for Berkley, as it is one of my favorite publishers :) Guess who was in line with me? Jennifer Estep!! Not surprisingly, the room was packed - not only with fans, but authors as well! :) And of course books LOL. One of the things I like best about these publisher signings is the surprise element. You don't know who will be there and who won't. Oh, you can make an educated guess based on authors you've seen and who attended the Literacy Signing, but still... One author that I did not know would  be there was Lisa Dale and when I saw her - or more specifically her book - I stopped dead LOL. Ms Dale is one of Hilcia's favorite author so I had to get a copy :) I also came prepared with my copy of Nightfall for Ann Aguirre to sign and Ames' copy of Kiss of Snow for Ms Singh :)

Julie James - Jodi Thomas - Lisa Dale

Nalini Singh and assistant (?) - Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty

As you can imagine based on my loot, I did spend a lot of time at Berkley's signing :) By the time I made it to Ballantine's, many authors had run out of books. This is the risk you incur as you can't be in two places at once. However, by that time, I'd already collected so many books that it didn't feel like a loss to have "missed" Ballantine's signing. And I still got to meet some authors which really, is the most important :)

Madeline Hunter - Keri Arthur

 There was only an hour before the next publisher signings started and so I went to the room to empty my bag and then, went to the bar to see who I could run into :) I'm pretty sure I got to meet up with Kristie and Wendy :)

Jennifer Echols
Now, that session of publisher signings was really a tough choice, because you had New American Library vs Simon & Schuster vs Kensington. Wendy headed off to Kensington and in the end, Kristie and I lined up for New American Library. My reason for choosing New American Library over Simon & Schuster is because I really wanted to make sure that I'd meet Emma Wildes and I've held off buying her newest release One Whisper Away. Unfortunately, it's only after entering the room that I found out that Ms Wildes didn't make it to the conference due to unexpected circumstances :( Bummer. But I still got the book :) In the end though, I'm happy I got to go to New American Library, because most of the authors I wanted to meet at Simon & Schuster, I already had their books and have met them during the conference. Although one of the biggest yay moment of the day was meeting Jennifer Echols and finding that she had Love Story, her newest release, at the signing  :)  I did swing by Kensington's signing, but I arrived really late and they had been cleaned out and authors were leaving. However, I found out from Wendy that this was the first time in years they had held a signing, so I didn't feel too bad either.

After the signing, Wendy, Kristie and I went for lunch... to Junior's LOL. There is something to say about proximity, really. And this time around, Kristie and Wendy were determined to have dessert: famous cheesecake :) For some reasons, I wasn't too hungry that day (which believe me, is rare)... but I did get some bites of Wendy and Kristie's :)

 Now, here where it starts being a blur. I'm pretty sure that after lunch, I went to a workshop which was given by Victoria Alexander, Stephanie Laurens and an editor. The topic was something about historical romance - what is historical and why is it so popular (I think).  For example, would a story taking place during WW II considered historical romance or not? It was a nice workshop. I didn't stay afterwards to meet the authors or take picture, because I had to rush to the next publisher signings which was Grand Central Publishing vs. Samhain. I went for Grand Central Publishing. While I was waiting in line, Rosie joined me... She want to see Carolyn Jewel again :) I have to admit, out of all the publisher signing, I thought Grand Central's was the most generous... and that says something about their generosity, really. But can you imagine? Every author had not only their most recent release, but also a few books of their backlist!! Let see, Roxanne St. Claire had all three books of her new trilogies, Karen Rose had 5 books on her table, from Die for Me to Silent Scream, Ms Jewel had her last two releases, etc. I mean, seriously, that is A LOT of books! Most impressed :) During the signing, I did take a few minutes to chat with Ms Rose... Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture! Ugh. Anyway, definitively an awesome signing. At the end of it, I saw Wendy and she told me to go to Samhain because there were lots of books :) Now, I'm not a big fan of erotica romance... but I did go :) Got to meet Maya Banks, Vivian Arend and said hello once more to K.A. Mitchell. And during the signing, I ran into Gennita Low :)

Grand Central Publishing and Samhain signings were the last sessions of RWA that I attended. Looking back now, I regret not having gone to more workshops :( I think that I was a bit too overwhelmed before and after I arrived to the conference to really take a look at the workshops and their speakers. Next time, I sure won't! There were a few hours before the RITA awards and I think everyone was a bit down. Everyone has been running on very little sleep, the conference was about to end, etc. I know that Wendy and Rosie went to ship their books home. Lucky me, I was taking everything home in my car... but that still meant I had to pack ^_^;

Good thing in the end that I took the boxes that were offered. Although I had to get another one from Business Center. While I was packing, guess what Kristie and my sister were doing? Napping! Yep. My sister had woken up early that morning to see if she could get stand-by tickets for Jimmy Fallon's show - unfortunately, no. Then, she went to explore Central Park a bit more. Quite frankly, I was surprised to find her in the room when I came back... but she came to charge her batteries before going to Broadway theaters and get more autographs from the cast of Billy Elliott and The Normal Heart :) As for Kristie, she was very good book-wise during this conference and that meant she had less to pack and more time to rest. Smart lady, really :) Although I had to admit, I did really good and by the time we had to get ready for the RITA awards, I was almost done! :)

I debated wearing high heels or not for the RITA awards... I was one of the few left that still felt good standing on her feet LOL. I decided that I should suffer for beauty - yes, I can be vain LOL. I made it to the elevators and it was taking them forever to get to our floor. I haven't told you about the elevators at the Marriott Marquis. They're special. Outside of the elevators, instead of having buttons for up and down, you have a number keypad. So you push the floor which you want to go to and it will tell you which elevator to wait for... However, there's no floor indicators and you have no idea how long you have to wait... and some times, it can be really long! Some people on our floor had been waiting for 10 minutes already... and that's when I decided: screw it. I went back to the room and changed for my flats LOL. There was no way I could have climbed up and down the stairs with high heels ^_^;

During the RITA Awards, I sat with Wendy, Kristie and Sarah. There were other people at the table, but I can't remember who ^_^; Sorry! Anyway, the RITA awards were great :) Loved seeing everyone decked out in their nice clothes. However, what I liked most is that I had read most of the winners!! Jodi Thomas, Karen Rose, Sherry Thomas, Jill Shalvis and so on... and Sharon Sala got the lifetime achievement award. And some of the acceptance speeches were really good :)  Definitively best award ceremony for me!! :)

Meg Cabot as emcee - Julia Quinn, one of the award presenter

Jodi Thomas

Karen Rose - Sharon Sala

After the RITA awards, I went to Rosie and Lisabea's room to return Lisabea's camera that I had appropriated for the past two days. Rosie was planning to attend the awards, but didn't feel very good after her trip to the post office. I found both of them in beds with their clothes still on LOL. I stayed on for another chatting with Rosie :) I say with Rosie, because Lisabea had fallen asleep on me in the middle LOL. Poor her, I don't think she had recovered from jet lag ^_^; I wanted to stay longer to hang out with Rosie, but I also wanted to go to the bar. I knew everyone was there and it might have been my last chance to see them. And indeed, not long after I got to the bar, it was time for goodbyes :( Everyone was going back to their room - not only to get some sleep, but also to finish packing.

Day 8 

The next morning Kristie was checking out at 10am and me, car service was coming to pick us up at 10.30am. Still, I was ready - had everything packed and waiting :) Rosie and Lisabea came to our room to say goodbye to Kristie, so I got to chat a bit more with them :) Then, it was soon time for Kristie to leave. Me? Well I finally came to my sense and realize it was pretty impossible for my sister and I to carry all our luggage down ^_^; So I called a bellman and waited... and waited. And I was getting really nervous, because it was 10.10am and the car was picking us up at 10.30!! Yeah, I was so nervous that I started bringing all the luggage to the elevator... 2 suitcases, 3 boxes of books, 1 backpack, 1 duffel bag and 2 tote bags. Not the brightest idea ^_^; When I called to check out, I asked again for the bellman - they said they never received my demand... but luckily for me, the bellman arrived promptly and at 10.30am I was downstairs waiting.... and I ran into Rosie and Wendy! So I got to say a last goodbye! :)

Once we arrived to Hilcia, she was nice enough to help me prepared some packages and accompany me to the post office. Seriously, it's great that post offices are opened on Saturday in the States! Indeed, I had some books to send to some friends in the States and figured shipping would be cheaper :) And I was right. While I was at the post office, I had left my sister behind to pay for pizza for lunch :) After we came back from the post office, my sister, Hilcia's husband and I convinced Hilcia to come and do some more shopping with us :) She was going to stay home to read a book to review on July 4th. I mean, seriously?! LOL. Who's going to blog on July 4th? Who's going to read a review on July 4th? Everyone would be too busy :) In the end, she caved LOL and we went to Jersey Gardens Mall. I think we shopped another 4 hours LOL. Poor Hilcia :)

By the time we came home, it was time for supper and I had already decreed that I was treating Hilcia's family out... Guess where we went? Of course, Coach House Diner :) We had a great time and great food :)

That last night in New Jersey, I didn't stay with Hilcia and her family. Instead, I moved to a hotel 10-15 minutes away from her place, because my friends had decided they wanted to get away and decided to come to NYC as well :) So I met up with them so we could all go home together :) That's how I got to go to Walmart and buy some books :)

And there you have it, my trip to NYC in all its glory details! Hope you have enjoyed the recaps! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hauling Sunday XLVIII - RWA Special Edition, part V

Wooohooo, final post!! :) Finally LOL. These are the books I got during the trip, but not from RWA.

First, here are the books I've received from friends, i.e. bloggers :) Tabitha and Kris were nice enough to ship some books to Hils' place for me - cheaper shipping, you know LOL.

Private Pleasures by JoAnn Ross - I can't remember where I read about this book, I know it's a blog and originally, I thought it was Lori - but it wasn't. In any case, this is a book I've had on my radar for years and couldn't find anywhere... except on PaperBack Swap. Only, PaperBack Swap is not available in Canada. Luckily for me, I knew someone who used PaperBack Swap and was attending the conference: our very own Super Librarian Wendy! Thanks Wendy!!

Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning - I read Backstage Pass and enjoyed it. However, I was hesitant to get Rock Hard because I've heard that the heroine is not that great. Kris took pity on dilemma and sent me hers :)

Changeling Moon by Dani Harper - Got this one from Hilcia. I'm not sure whether I'm going to read it, but it sounds interesting :)

Body Master by C.J. Barry - Another book that sounded interesting :)

A Werewolf in Manhattan by Vicki Lewis Thompson - It's always a struggle when Ms Thompson releases a book. The blurbs always sound good, but the writing just doesn't do it for me ^_^; Still, I always hope the next book is going to be the one you know... Anyway, I've been holding off buying this one, cos you know, I'm starting to learn LOL. But when Kris offered it... well...

Hidden Away by Maya Banks - Tabitha has been keeping this one for me for months LOL. Now, if only I read the first one...

Somebody to Love by Kate Rothwell - A few years ago, Ames read Somebody Wonderful and absolutely loved. So of course, I had to give a try and I really enjoyed it as well. But the second book? Somebody to Love? Extremely hard to find... but Hilcia did find it!! And she got it for me!!

Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards - I've read Ms Richards works before and enjoyed them... and Hilcia was reading this when I arrived to New Jersey and really enjoyed it... So in the end, I got to go home with it LOL.

Okay, so don't I have amazing friends?!? You ladies definitively rock!!

Next are the books I bought at Walmart. Yes, yes, Despite all the books I got at RWA, I bought more. But hey, remember, it's me LOL. At least, I bought them after RWA :) That way, I didn't have to rush back home to go to Chapters for the buy 3 get the 4th free sale. Win-win really.

Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson - I was hoping to get this book at RWA, but missed my chance. Ms Gibson did have it at the Literacy Signing, but not at the publisher signing. I've heard mix reviews about this one, so I was debating whether to get it back home... but when I saw it at Walmart, well it was a no-brainer.

Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase - Apparently, Ms Chase was in NYC, but not at the conference :( I've been skipping her last few releases, but Holly and Rowena really enjoyed this one and the premises sound different, refreshing. I mean, the heroine is a dressmaker! So I decided to take a chance :)

Lord Langley is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle - Hmmmm, I've been hesitant about this one. I haven't loved her last few releases and well, I wasn't sure I would like the H/H in this book... They're, hmmmm, older ^_^; But once again, the great price at Walmart swayed me  :)

Guarding a Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker - Read the first book in this series, but not the second. Enjoyed the book, but it didn't wow me... but this one was on my radar because of Tracy's review. Sounds really good! :)

Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper - This is the second book in the series. I got the first one during the Literacy Signing and I wanted this one on hand just in case :P

Oh and while I was gone to New York City, I had a co-worker who spent a week in Paris... and so I asked him to get me some manga :)

And there you have it. My RWA/NYC haul :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RWA 2011 in NYC - Part IV

All right, let see how far I get today :)

Day 6

Thursday was a good day. It first started with another sweep of the Goodie room - just to see if there was anything new :) Then, I made my way to the 5th floor where the publisher signings were taking place. I showed up 30 minutes before the signing started, but I wasn't really early. Actually, when I was in the elevator on my way to the Goodie room (4th floor), I  could already see the waiting lines forming LOL. I think everyone was looking forward to the publisher signings :) And that's good because it meant I was in good company :)

Now, the way the schedule is prepared, there is always at least 2 publisher signings going on at the same time as well as workshops and these signings are 1 hour each. I think they plan it that way so less people will attend the signings... because there is only so much books a publisher can give away, right? So Thursday morning, I had to choose between Avon and Harlequin. That was a really difficult choice as I enjoy books from both publishers a lot... However, in the end, I decided to attend Avon's because prior to April, Avon books were priced 10.99$ CDN. Let just say it's a bit expensive to try new authors.

While waiting, the hotel staff was distributing boxes (the ones books came in during shipment) and I grabbed one. Trust me, if you're going to go to every author, you need one or even better would have been a large tote bag (it gets less in the way in my opinion). However, I was too excited that morning and figured I could carry it all in my hands so I came down empty-hand. Yeah, what was I thinking?!? LOL. There was also a hotel security guy that was managing the line-up. At first, he asked us to make 2 lines and later, 4 lines. I think we were taking up a lot of space and it was for other guests to circulate better. Once the door opened, it wasn't really a stampede, but everyone was excited to get in the room. When I passed by the security guy, I asked him if he was scared, because let's face it... it was a lot of excited women LOL. He was frank enough to admit: "A little." LOL.

By now, you've all seen my haul and if not, it's here. Almost two weeks later, I have to admit the whole experience is a bit of a blur ^_^; I remembered getting in the room and the first author I went to was Maya Rodale because I wanted A Tale of Two Lovers. After that? I can't remember. Well yes, I can remember the authors from the books I got, but the order I visited them? Not really. I do remember my strategy though: hit the authors I absolutely wanted to meet or get books from first, and then circle the room one or two times to be sure I didn't miss anything. The great thing about Avon's signing is that the authors were sitting in alphabetical order and it made it easy to locate them. The most difficult though at publisher signings was keeping track of who I wanted to see and whom I've seen already. Case in point, I walked up to Anne Mallory and asked for her books; she looked at me and told me: "You've already come to me earlier." Oups ^_^; All in all, I really liked Avon's signing because most of their authors were present and the publisher had brought in a lot of books.

When I came out of the Avon's signing, there was still time to make it to Harlequin's and can I say it was a great decision to put them side by side? :) In Harlequin, I was really happy to meet Andrea Kane and Robyn Carr. In past conferences, Rosie had gotten me some signed books by Ms Carr, but actually meeting her was great. Some of my favorite authors, I did not go to either because I've seen them at the Literacy Autographing or because I already had the books... But looking back, I should have gone to them anyway, just to talk to them. That is definitively something I will do next year! At one point, I was tired of lugging the box so I hid it under a table - good thing there were tablecloth! LOL.

After the publisher signings, I went back to the room to put down all the books and went to the bar. Yeah, you've figured it by now, the bar is the hanging out/gathering/meeting up place. On my way to the bar, I ran into Rosie and Lisabea at Starbucks and so got myself a nice green tea frappuccino. We found Kristie, Wendy and Sarah at a table and just hung out till it was time for the Award Luncheon. We pretty much sat in the same corner we were the previous day and this time, the speakers worked. We were served lunch (chicken again) and then, the awards start. It was a pleasant surprised that the first award was Wendy's Librarian of the Year. Woohoo!! I have to say, I loved her speech!! It was great and fun :) Oh and of course, as an award recipient, Wendy was sitting at a different table and guess who was next to her? Linda Howard!! Yes!! Lucky her, right? Ms Howard was also receiving an award, but unfortunately, her acceptance speech was cut short because we were running out of time which let me tell you was a pity because the two minutes she was up there were really entertaining!! Finally, Sherrilyn Kenyon took up the state as the keynote speaker and her speech was really powerful and full of emotions.

Now, I took tons of pictures of the luncheon... with Wendy's camera LOL. My sister was doing some sight-seeing, so she took the camera with her... So if you want some more pictures, ask Wendy! :)

Edit:  I added the pictures!

Once lunch was over, I made my way to the next publishers signings. This time, the choice was between St. Martin's Press and Sourcebooks. It was a no-brainer for me: St. Martin's Press. The set-up was different with the authors tables lining the walls instead of being in rows, leaving a lot more space in the middle of the room. Given the number of authors that St. Martin's Press had, I think the set-up was really good :) The only thing that would have made it better would have been signs over the authors' heads to indicate who was who. As it is, we had to make our way through the lines and crowds to see what books were on the tables to know who the authors was. So, I had heard before lunch from Wendy that Lisa Kleypas was in the house. She was not there for the Literacy Signing, but did attend St. Martin's Press party the night before. Some time during the St. Martin's Press signing, I saw Rosie and Lisabea waiting in line for someone and walked up to them, curious to see for whom they were waiting for. Yes, it turned out to be Lisa Kleypas!! I was really happy to meet her, because I know she's on sabbatical this year.

See the nice picture of Lisabea, Lisa Kleypas and Rosie that I took? And look how Lisabea thanked me!! Anyone good with Photoshop? LOL. Anyway, meeting Ms Kleypas was definitively a highlight for me at the St. Martin's Press signing. I was also happy to have the chance to see Heather Webber again :) And out of the books I got, I was really, really, really happy to walk out with First Grave on the Right and The Demon Trapper's Daughter :)

After seeing everyone at St. Martin's Press signing, I slid into the room next door which was Sourcebooks signing. I don't really have any favorite authors at Sourcebooks and as such, didn't think I'd pick up any books. Then again, I'm really easy when it comes to books - a nice cover, a nice blurb or a nice author, that's all it takes LOL.

The last RWA session I attended on Thursday was a workshop given by Julie James and Beth Kery about how to write 300 pages of contemporary romance :) I liked the topic. The most interesting to me was every suggestion/advice that Ms James gave was backed up with a concrete example from one of her books. Rosie, Lisabea and I think Kristie we with me during this workshop, which is a good thing because I got to steal Lisabea's camera for the evening :) During the workshop, we also ran into Sherry Thomas who writes historicals. I wonder if that means she'll try her hand at contemporary? Once the workshop was over, we gave ourselves rendez-vous in the lobby at 5.30pm to go out for dinner. By that time, my sister had returned from her day of stalking the White Collar cast and filming locations and therefore joined us. By the way, her stalking did pay off because she got to see Willie Garson and Matt Bomer! But alas, no picture. Although I did get a picture with one of my favorite author, Nalini Singh!

Rosie and Sherry Thomas - Nalini Singh and me - Kristie, Rosie, Sarah and my sister

So for dinner, we didn't go far: T.G.I. Friday just across Times Square, and it was Kristie, Rosie, Sarah, my sister and I. We had a great time and the food was good. After dinner, we all went our separate ways. Now for this trip to New York City, my sister and I have made very little plans together, because I had no idea how busy the conference would keep me. However, there was one thing on the agenda that we absolutely had to do and that was a Broadway show... but not any Broadway show. No, my sister and I wanted to go see The Normal Heart, which is a play about the AIDS epidemics in the 1980s which has recently won a Tony Award for Best Revival. The reason we wanted to see it? Well it's because Jim Parsons, the actor who incarnates Sheldon in Big Bang Theory plays in it :) Yes, I know, I know. We're easy. I think for a Broadway debut though, his role was perfect - not too big, not too small. As for the play itself, it was very, very good and very emotional. The first half had more comedic relief, but the second half was heart-breaking. You could hear people sniffling at the end of the play. Me? I tried really hard not to cry, because I didn't have any kleenex ^_^; However, it didn't stop me from having tears T_T

After the play, my sister and I waited outside for the actors to come out. Seriously, I'm surprised that there were not more people waiting... but hey, better for us LOL. So you know where I'm heading right? Yes, yes, we got to meet Jim Parsons!! I don't have a picture of myself and him, but I did take a very nice picture of my sister and him :) Wanna see?

Nice picture, right? Here is the rest of the cast:

Ellen Barkin, Joe Mantello, Mark Harelik

Lee Pace, John Benjamin Hickey

Let say that meeting the cast of The Normal Heart, but more importantly Jim Parsons, plus seeing Matt Bomer and Willie Garson just made the trip for my sister :) And I'm glad, because she deserved enjoying this trip :) Now, she even has a lucky outfit LOL.

And not much of a surprise, I finished the evening at the bar LOL.