Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hauling Sunday LIV

It's Sunday - a very, very wet Sunday ^_^; I was hoping we'd be unaffected by Irene, but no such luck. Although I know some of you are having it worst than me, so I'm not complaining too hard. I hope everyone of you are okay and there's not too much damage!! Here, we lost power a couple of times for a few minutes only. Phew. Also lucky that I had my BBQ yesterday! Which by the way, was a success :)

Really had a nice time. The weather was good and we had enough food :) Just spent the whole day talking and eating :)

Most of the week has been spent preparing the BBQ and also work (booo!). I didn't have time to go to the bookstore... but no problem, as it's so easy to buy books without stepping in a bookstore nowadays :) I ordered them online on Sunday and they arrived on Friday, just in time for this post really LOL.

So here are the two additions to my library:

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones - Well, you can read my review of First Grave on the Right here. I'm really looking forward to reading it. Just love Charley :)

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep - Ms Estep has become one of my auto-buy authors. This is her foray in the YA world and I'm looking forward to it :)

And that's it for me :) Seriously, I'm really proud of myself this month LOL. I really haven't bought that much books, but then again... might be more because of the release schedule than my will LOL.

Oh, before I forget, I have updated my Review Archives :) Been neglecting that part of the blog... but then again, have not reviewed that much. Hopefully, that changes :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Perfect Play by Jaci Burton

Hey everyone! How are you doing? Hope everyone is doing well and if you're on the East Coast, safe and prepared. We're lucky up here because we'll be spared by Irene. Good thing too since today is my annual BBQ! We didn't do one last year, but this year, decided to go back to our traditions :) I'm trying to figure it out, but if I'm not wrong, this year will be our 10th edition!! 10th! That's a nice number and the core group is still the same and I think that's what makes me the most happy :) We're still all here, all friends after more than 10 years. Sure we've dropped a few or been dropped through the years... but most of us are really still here :) Okay, will stop here cos I'm planning a post probably tomorrow for a little recap of the BBQ LOL.

In the meantime, here's a review!! Enjoy :)

Perfect Play by Jaci Burton
published by Berkley in February 2011

The last thing event planner Tara Lincoln needs is the jet-set lifestyle of a football pro like Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand proved that Mick is an all-star-both on the field and in the bedroom.

Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn't intend to put herself out there again, especially with a certified heartbreaker. But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind to catch this sultry vixen.
Genre: Sport romance, contemporary, erotica
Series: Play by play, Book #1

The Story: Mick Riley has had enough of the jock lifestyle - the starlets, the notches on his bedposts, etc. He wants a normal relationship - a woman who won't be impressed by who he is, won't expect the jet-set lifestyle, who will be herself... and he finds the perfect woman in Tara Lincoln.

Sure, Tara is flattered that such a big star like Mick would be attracted to her. However, a one-night stand with him is all she can afford as Tara is working hard to expand her business, but more importantly, to provide a better future for her fourteen years old son Nathan.

However, she hadn't counted on Mick's persistence and very soon, despite her protests and excuses, Mick and Tara are dating. However, both bring a lot of baggage to this relationship... can it last?

My Opinion: Perfect Play has been on my radar for a while. I enjoy Ms Burton's writing, but sometimes, I found her books a bit too repetitive... especially the sex scenes ^_^; The other hang-up I had about Perfect Play was that it was trade-size and that made me hesitant to buy it... but then, the buzz won me :) After seeing good reviews after good reviews, I had to get my hand on the book :) The good thing about the wait though was by the time I was ready to buy it, I could wait a bit longer to meet Ms Burton at RWA and have a signed copy :)

Okay, enough chit-chat. What about the book? Well no surprise, I enjoyed it :) It was a very good and solid book and one of the best sport romance I've read in recent years :) The strength of this book was really the characterization of Tara and Mick. These characters definitively felt real, were people we could relate to, and that's what is needed in sport romance. At his age, Mick is looking of normalcy in his life, he's done with the partying and such and that made sense to me. At the same time, he's still going to attend to premieres and big events, because it's part of the job, to have his face out there. I liked that Tara wasn't star-truck by Mick. Sure, he's a superstar and was famous and she enjoyed the perks, but she wasn't a groupie or completely tongue-tied with him. At the same time, she didn't act the way she did simply to attract his attention. She was herself and I think that's what mattered the most :)

I also liked the fact that Mick came from a functional family. He had a regular background, a good relationship with his parents and his siblings. That was another winning part of the book. Another aspect that was well-done was the sport reference and incorporation in the book. There was just enough to give the right ambiance to the book and not overwhelmed the story. Reading Perfect Play, you knew you were reading a romance and the focus was Mick and Tara's relationship, as it should be. Speaking of romance, Mick and Tara really had good chemistry, their romance was sizzling and very nice :)

As I said, Perfect Play was solid. Good characters, good romance and nice feel to the book. What can you ask more? I was also a little bit wary of Tara's son, Nathan, at first because he's a teenager. However, he turned out fine and not annoying at all. The other secondary characters were also good and served their purpose. My only complaint would the part where Nathan got drunk ^_^; Immediately, Tara was like "I'm such a bad mother" and Mick took Nathan to an AA meeting, to share with him his past, but also show him the consequences. Personally, I thought both really over-reacted. Unfortunately, it is reality that some teenagers party and get drunk... I thought that part was a bit superfluous. I have to admit, there was also a lot of little problems between Mick and Tara, but they were immediately solved. I guess they were meant to showcase Mick's patience and persistence... but I could have used a few less "misunderstandings." As for the conflict of the storyline, but big problem - I thought it made sense and I liked the resolution. I think that Mick should have talked a bit more with Liz, but ultimately, Liz crossed the line. However, all those little issues were small when looking at the big picture :)

My Grade: B. All in all, a good and solid read :) Enough that it made me pick up the next book, despite my reservation towards Liz.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Yay, a review!! LOL, I'm most likely going to be late for work this morning... but who cares? I have  a review up!! and hopefully, I'll be able to pump out a few today :) In the meantime, how is everyone doing? Pretty quiet lately on blogland. I'm still feeling kind of so-so. I had a blood test done yesterday and going to see the results today. Hopefully, that gives me a little peace of mind.

My sister cooked yesterday - she made vegetarian lasagna... which meant I ate much later than usual LOL. Yeah, I shouldn't be complaining since I didn't have to cook... and it was yummy :) We watched the newest episode of Rizzoli & Isles and also started a new tv show, Suits. So far, it's okay. Lots of blablabla though. Now, today, I need to start making my grocery list for our annual BBQ this Saturday :) Fun times ahead! Hopefully, for everyone else as well! In the meantime, enjoy my review! :)

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
published by St. Martin's Press in February 2011
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
Genre: Mystery with paranormal elements
Series: Charley Davidson series, Book #1

The Story: Hmmmm, how to describe the story? Charley is not an ordinary woman. She has powers that allows her to see ghosts. However, she's not a simple medium... instead, she's a grim reaper. Actually, she's THE grim reaper and her job is to guide them towards the light. In addition to being able to see ghosts, she has some quirky abilities such as understanding every languages that have driven a wedge between her and some members of her family.

By day, Charley is a private investigator - yes, seeing ghosts and having their help definitively give her an edge :) She also helps her uncle, a detective, with useful tips. In First Gave on the Right, Charley is embroiled in an investigation about the murders of three lawyers who had gotten new evidence to get their client acquitted from murder. At the same time, she is being "haunted" in her sleep by a being... and she has no idea what's going on. Then, when she discovers that the being might be the guy of her dreams - a bad boy she's met as a teenager - she's determined to find out who, why and how he is haunting her. Especially  if he's the really "bad thing" that has protected her throughout her life.

My Opinion:  All right, LOL. Not the best synopsis, but let just say there is a lot going on in First Gave on the Right and it's not easy to explain... but as a very good author, Ms Jones makes it all work - proof of her talent, imagination and writing skills :)

So I really, really enjoyed First Grave on the Right. I first picked it up, because of the gorgeous cover, but also because despite the subject - grim reaper, seeing ghosts - the book sounded very funny... and it was :) Charley is a great heroine. A very complex character, she can come off a bit as a klutz, getting in all those kind of scrapes; however, at the same time, she's very competent as a grim reaper and that's what I liked about her. I liked that she knew herself and her powers and were comfortable with them, not afraid to use it. I liked that she actually knew what she was doing instead of muddling it through. She also has an humorous side which makes it fun to follow her in her adventures :)

As for the situation with Reyes, that was very interesting. Of course, I have a weakness for "love at first sight" and the kind of "romance" Reyes and Charley are having LOL. It's the kind where both parties involved know they are meant for each other and are trying to find their ways back to each other. Although with Reyes and Charley, it might be more complicated than most. I'm really looking forward to see how it will turn out. At the same time, I am concerned... with Reyes' identity. I mean, it's obvious that Reyes and Charley have very strong feelings for each other, even though they don't really know each other. However, with Reyes being Reyes... the romance might be near-impossible. So I just hope that Ms Jones doesn't add a third party to it ^_^; Someone more approachable, more possible. I know, I know, I'm worrying ahead... but hey, we've all seen it right? So I'm crossing my fingers it won't in this series.

The overall mystery in First Grave on the Right was well-done and well-written. I have to admit though, I was a bit confused at times, because there was so much going on. Still, for a debut novel, it's really good and enjoyable, and as a result, can be forgiven :)

In any case, let me repeat once more that I've really enjoyed this book. The series shows a lot of potential and Ms Jones has indicated that the series will go beyond 3 books, so that's great news for her and us, readers :) I'm interesting to see how the Reyes situation will turn out, but also see if something will be done with the family situation. However, in the end, the most important will be simply reading more of Charley, because she's a great heroine :)

My Grade: B+. I don't know if the following is good or bad, but anyway, that's how I felt LOL. After reading First Grave on the Right, the vibe I got about Charley was a bit of Stephanie Plum - klutzy and funny. So if you enjoy the Stephanie Plum series and paranormal elements, you want to give the Charley Davidson series a try :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hauling Sunday LIII

Ouf. Why is it that dropping the ball is so much easier than picking it up? That letting go is easier than getting our act together? Sigh. LOL.

Nothing new with me. I've just been busy with work. The past week, I've had to make phone calls to patients (booo) and that cut in in my blogging and reading time. Hopefully, this week will be better :) Also, I haven't felt in top shape lately ^_^; Nothing really serious and most probably, all attributed to stress ^_^; Which is pretty sad and it's making me feel like a lemon. Plus, worst of all is that I haven't been sleeping well... but today, I turned my mattress... so I hope that'll do the trick.

I almost didn't have any books for this post... I haven't gone to the bookstore the whole week and today, I broke down. After the week I had, I decided I should reward myself :) And it wasn't a hit and run. I actually took time to browse the aisles... and found some books worth checking out in the future :) In the meantime, I picked up my Harlequin fix :)

Only Yours by Susan Mallery - The reason I picked up this book was because the theme seemed to be "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing out stuffy hero" which is one of my favorites :P Otherwise, I'm not sure I'd have picked it up. Ms Mallery is really hit and miss with me and some of the books in this series I really enjoyed... but this trilogy being about the Hendrix triplet sisters didn't really appeal to me ^_^; So we'll see how it turns out :)

Good Girls Don't by Victoria Dahl - This one has really been getting great reviews and I like contemporary romances. So seemed logical for me to pick it :) I was tempted to pick up Ms Dahl's other release this month, It's Always Been You, which is a historical romance... but I have never read Ms Dahl's historical writing and I have one in my TBR pile... so I thought it'd be better to give it a try first. See, I'm trying to control myself :)

Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong - The truth? The cover LOL. I really liked the cover and this one while paranormal is about angels and demons, so it could work for me :)

One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry - This one has been getting better reviews than its prequel, The Last Goodbye. It was on my list to buy, but I thought I'd be picking it up as an ebook... In the end, I picked it up in print today at the bookstore because there was a promotion :)

And there you have it, my new books. I also did an order online - hopefully, I'll be getting them by the end of the week :) I have to say though, I'm already looking forward to September... Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh and Jennifer Estep!! That's going to be a good month LOL.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rizzoli & Isles series: Books vs TV

Hey everyone! Sorry for being quiet this week. Ugh, it's all been work, work, work. I hate calling patients with a passion, sigh. Anyway, after I did the monthly reads post, I wanted to write one about the Rizzoli & Isles series :)

One of the biggest discoveries I made thanks to RWA this year was the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen. I've heard a lot of good about Ms Gerritsen's books, but have never really give her books a try. I enjoy mystery, but it's not a genre I read very much. I tend to read romantic suspense instead, just because, well, it has more romance in it LOL.

Anyway :) Ms Gerritsen was one of the speakers at the Opening session. During the session, she spoke a lot about the storylines and the characters and it got me curious :) Then I realized she was the author that Wendy bought in hardcover LOL. Hey, that's a big endorsement right there. So when I came home, I hunted down the first season of Rizzoli & Isles. There's a few reasons why I went with the TV series first instead of the books... First, it was easier to find 10 TV episodes than 6 books and also, faster to go through LOL. And while TV adaptations are never 100% accurate, I thought it'd gave me a feel about the characters and whether or not I'd want to try out the books.

It turns out that I really, really enjoyed the TV series. The first episode was excellent and based on The Apprentice and then, the rest is well... "invented." LOL. What I enjoyed the most about the TV series was the dynamics between the characters, especially Jane and Maura. There's a lot of TV series out there that have a female and male protagonists and the overarching storyline is their sexual tension... When will they become a couple... Bones and Castle come to mind right away. I think this is what makes Rizzoli & Isles stand out so much. The dynamics between Jane and Maura is just great and fun, LOL, because they are so different. Also, there are other interesting characters and dynamics. I really like how Jane's little brother Frankie looks up to his sister, etc. So overall, I thought it was a very enjoyable TV show and was so happy the second season was about to start :)

Still, I was curious about the books, because I knew that in the books, Jane got married and had a kid... So I to read about that relationship. Also, Ms Gerritsen emphasized that the reasons the series was such a success was because her characters grew... and you don't really see it in the TV series. So I went to the library and got my hands on all the books I could: Body Double, The Mephisto Club, The Keepsafe and Ice Cold and I already had The Apprentice. You look at it and it's a really good haul, but of course, I was missing the most 2 important books when it comes to Jane and her husband's relationship. Ugh. Yes, I have all the luck LOL. In any case, I gave the books a try - and yes, I did not read it in order.

Immediately, what jumped out to me was the difference between the books and TV series... and they are many. Jane's character is pretty much spot on, despite the fact that the actress, Angie Harmon will never be plain Jane no matter the amount of frumpy clothes and no make-up LOL. And so is Korsak and I guess Frost (except for the fact that his Afro-American and single in the TV series). I think the biggest difference character-wise was Maura... In the book, she's a 40 years old woman, divorced, looking for something in her life. I wouldn't say she's subdued, but she's definitively not as vibrant as the Maura Isles from the TV series. I really like the Maura from the TV series, played by Sasha Alexander, as she's so quirky and sometimes, socially inept... Think Temperance Brennan from Bones, but less intense and more fun. Another difference is Jane's family - no younger brother who's a cop, looking up to her... but hey, Jane has a husband and eventually, a baby. One of the biggest disappointments in the books was the camaraderie between Jane and Maura. After watching the TV series, I thought they were really close... but in the books? Not so much. At first, they seem more like acquaintances... and while the friendship does deepen, it's not much compare to the chemistry on TV. However, there are a few shockers concerning Maura in the books... and can I say, wowzer ^_^; Not things that I expected...

In the end, both the books and the TV series are worth a shot :) The TV series is fun and enjoyable. The highlights are definitively the characters and the chemistry between Jane and Maura. The case-solving aspect is so-so... but some episodes definitively stands out such as the pilot episode and finale of the first season. As for the books? It is true that the characters and relationships are not stagnant. However, the real reason I would read these books would be for the plot and mystery. Ms Gerritsen is a great author - the writing is solid, the characters are developed and what they go through feel real, but it's her storylines that take the prize :) Her books are simply filled with twists and turns making them very gritty and thrilling. So far, my favorite books are Vanish and Body Double with The Keepsafe coming very close behind :) If you enjoy mystery books, you'll definitively want to give this a try :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Monthly Reads: July 2011

While last week-end was a lot of fun, I'm glad that this week-end is more relaxed :) Nothing much going on for me. I'm trying to pull myself out of my reading slump and I think I might just succeed. Crossing my fingers :)

This month, the new releases are either coming out at the beginning or at the end of the month. This past week being the second week of the month means that I have nothing waiting for me at the bookstore. Boooo. Case in point, I have not even stepped in a bookstore! Although it is not surprising with my RWA haul and TBR pile ^_^;

As I have no new books for my Hauling Sunday post, I thought it'd be a good time to work on Monthly Reads post :) I had a great, great, great month of July and I can't wait to share it with you all! Here we go!

1) Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro: B+

2) First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones: B+
Upcoming Review

3) Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath: B-

4) Black Ties and Lullabies by Jane Graves: C+

Bernadette Hogan is playboy and self-made millionaire Jeremy Bridge's bodyguard. While she is sometimes exasperated with his attitude and cannot resist letting him know, the pay is good and Bernie desperately needs the money for the future. However, when Jeremy does not heed her advice one night and lends in trouble, it is the last straw for Bernie. She loses her mind, have sex with Jeremy and then, resigns.

At first, Jeremy doesn't take Bernie's resignation seriously. He thinks that he only has to offer her more money and she'll resume her job. However, after multiple offers and several attempts, Jeremy is still stuck with his new and taciturn bodyguard... and he doesn't like it one bit. When Bernie suddenly asks to meet him, Jeremy is ready to gloat... Only Bernie does not want her job back, she just wants his signature... on papers declaring that he is renouncing his rights as a father to Bernie's baby! Bernie believes that Jeremy would be a terrible father and would not be interested anyway. However, Jeremy is not so sure... He has never thought of children, but now that he is about to become a father... it changes everything. And so Bernie decides to test him and challenges him to be there for every step of the pregnancy.

I've read and enjoyed Ms Graves books in the past and I was really happy to know she had a new book coming out. I did enjoy her writing in Black Ties and Lullabies... What did not work so well for me in this book was mostly the characters. I didn't connect with Bernie. I actually like tomboy characters, but Bernie... I think I'm having a big problem with assumptions lately. Characters who believe they know who other people are and what they think. So that bothered me. Another thing is I don't think that Bernie's character was that well develop, especially in comparison to Jeremy. I mean, we were given a little bit of background about Bernie, but it was not really a part of the story... and we saw very little growth in her character.

I did like Jeremy's character though. I liked the fact that he didn't renounce to his rights as a father. That he really paused and questioned himself about fatherhood. He had a shitty childhood and wants better for his children... and I think that he'll be a good father. So with Jeremy, we saw some growth and we understood a bit why he was the way he was. I also liked the fact that Jeremy kept surprising Bernie... but then again, she didn't really have a high opinion of him ^_^;

Something else that did not work for me was the romance. I don't think there was that much chemistry between Jeremy and Bernie and the romance was quite flat. Sure they enjoyed themselves sexually, and Bernie got to see different sides of Jeremy that she didn't expect. Still, I don't think they really understood each other and I was quite disappointed when Jeremy came up with the idea of marriage... because it seemed it was all for the wrong reasons.

So not Ms Graves best book... but she has another release coming out in October and hopefully that one will be a winner :)

5) One Whisper Away by Emma Wildes: B

6) Body Double by Tess Gerritsen: B
Upcoming post.

7) Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase: A-
Upcoming Review.

8) The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen: B-
Upcoming post.

9) The Keepsafe by Tess Gerritsen: B
Upcoming post.

10) Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen: B
Upcoming post.

11) Guarding a Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker: C

Lady Rosalind Devine's brother is going away on his 3 months long honeymoon with his new bride and has therefore asked his good friend, Nicholas Kincaid, Marquess of Winterbourne, to keep an eye on her. Nicholas cannot refuse his best friend's request even knowing that the best for all of them would be for him to stay away from Rosalind.

Rosalind is furious to find out that his brother has appointed a "guardian" and is quite determined to find out who it is... even with Nicholas' distracting presence in town.

After reading Tracy's review for Guarding a Notorious Lady, I had quite high expectations for this book... and it didn't quite meet them ^_^; I actually quite liked the characters. Rosalind was smart, likable and very generous. She likes to meddle and matchmake people... and her matchmaking ploys are actually successful, so why stop her? Nicholas was hard to decipher and I didn't really get a feel for him... but overall, I didn't really have complaints about him... except perhaps the fact that he did judge Rosalind quite harshly in the beginning - such as spoiled and picky and so on since she is not yet married. I did like that both characters already had a crush on each other from the start :) I thought that was endearing.

So the problem wasn't so much the characters, but the storyline or actually some details. I have to say, there's a few things that I didn't get in this book. I understand that Rosalind comes from a very good family and has a huge dowry and so, fortune-hunters will come after her. However, I thought the lengths her brothers, especially Gabriel, the Duke, went to protect her was ridiculous. If I remember correctly, Rosalind is 23 years old and Gabriel still treats her as if it's her first season. He chases away all of her suitors. All of them. How is the girl supposed to get married if he chases everyone?!? I understand he's trying to protect her, but I thought he really took it too far for it to make sense. Rosalind is smart. A word telling that this suitor is not suitable should be enough. So asking Nicholas to keep an eye on her wasn't bad either... but that part where Nicholas spent the night outside her room, keeping an eye on her window... Are you kidding me?!? So Gabriel is going to be away for three months. You're telling me that Nicholas will be spending each night outside?!? That didn't make sense. Being a marquess with some money, I would at least think Nicholas would hire someone. Also, I don't get how Nicholas got to be a marquess and nobody knew he was the heir to the title. So just a lot of little things that bothered me a little.

One thing that I did like is that Rosalind found out pretty early on that Nicholas was her guardian. So at least, the book wasn't all about deception and misunderstanding. I did think that Rosalind and Nicholas had chemistry together... Unfortunately, it's the storyline that lets it down a little bit. There wasn't much going on except for Rosalind and Nicholas' relationship. And so at the end, I thought the romance was a little bit draggy. I love books that are focused on relationships, but you have to add a little bit of something to it. A bit of conflicts or something... and here, there wasn't really any. Sure, Nicholas being Gabriel's best friend could have been one... but once he decided that he wanted Rosalind, there wasn't any anymore ^_^;

12) A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran: C+

After the death of her mother, Nell Whitby finds out that she is the daughter of Lord Rushden. She decides to seek revenge for her mother by sneaking into Lord Rushden's house with a gun... only to find a very naked, very handsome and much younger Lord Rushden - Simon St. Maur - in bed. It turns out that the previous Lord Rushden has passed away and Simon has inherited the title... Unfortunately, that's pretty much the only thing he inherited as all the money has been left for the previous lord's two daughters, Katherine and Cornelia, even though Cornelia has been missing for years. Simon has tried to appeal to court to have Cornelia declared dead; however, was denied... and he's about to go bankrupted in a few days... Till Nell appears. Simon is sure that Nell is the missing twin and he plans to marry her, bring her out in Society and inherit the money. While it is a good plan for Simon, there are some people that do not want Cornelia to re-appear... ever.

I was quite looking forward to A Lady's Lesson in Scandal. I've read and tried to read Ms Duran's books in the past, but the storylines never really worked for me ^_^; However, A Lady's Lesson in Scandal's storyline sounded like something I would really enjoy... so I was excited to give it a go.

I really liked the premises of the storylines. It's my kind of storylines :) My problem though was Nell's character. I understand she's had a very hard life and growing up where she did, her being wary is not surprising. However, I didn't find her likable ^_^; And as a result, I didn't love this book... which is unfortunate because Simon was an awesome hero. I loved his declaration, I loved that he was the one to take the first step. I loved that he got Nell, understood her and call her out at the end.

I think that realistically, A Lady's Lesson in Scandal is really a B-range book. It's well-written, has great characters and a good storyline. I know that a lot of readers out there are going to love Nell. However, when you review a book, the reading experience has to be taken in consideration... and really, Nell just bothered me  and so, the grade stands ^_^; It's pretty much me and not the book.

13) The Heir by Grace Burrowes: C+

Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven and heir to a dukedom, has elected to spend the summer in London in order to avoid his family. Not that he doesn't love his family; however, he is getting quite exasperated with his father's meddling and quest for a succession. When he comes to the aid of one of his maidservants and gets bashed on the head, that's when he takes notice of his new housekeeper, Mrs. Anna Seaton. Quickly, Westhaven realizes that there is something unusual about Anna. Oh, she takes care of his house admirably, taking in consideration his likes and dislikes. However, she is much better educated and sophisticated to be a simple housekeeper. Indeed, Anna is no ordinary housekeeper. She and her sister Morgan are on the run, in hiding... and the last thing she needs is to fall in love with Westhaven.

I got this book at RWA and was quite intrigued. I like the idea of a housekeeper heroine... Of course, for the story to work, the housekeeper cannot be a simple housekeeper. So that aspect of the storyline didn't really other me as I expected. Anyway, what did I think of this book? Well I liked the writing as Ms Burrowes has a pleasant style. I do admit that from time to time, her use of some words, especially "cock" would break the flow, the mood. It just doesn't seem to match the rest of her writing... I also enjoyed the characters, especially Anna. They were simply likable characters :) And the family? They were hilarious I thought :)

One of my issues though was I felt like I missed a book prior to The Heir. For example, Westhaven was not supposed to be the heir to the dukedom... I think he had two older brothers who passed away and one of them was married and all. I felt very confused because I think the information and background weren't well integrated in The Heir's storyline. Another issue I had was that the book was quite lengthily and I thought some parts were unnecessary. Especially towards the end... It just felt like the story dragged on and on ^_^; I just wanted Westhaven and Anna to get together and be done.

The Heir is definitively a good effort on Ms Burrowes part. I'd definitively pick up more books in this series as I enjoyed the family and the writing.

14) Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts: B-

After a nervous break-down, world-famous concert violinist Caroline Waverly has come to Innocence to claim her inheritance: her grandparents'house, and to gather herself. Unfortunately for her, her timing is not the greatest given a serial killer is on the loose. There's already been two bodies found and the latest victim is one of Tucker Longstreet's exes. The Longstreet family pretty much owns the whole town of Innocence and Tucker is under the scrutiny of the FBI. This doesn't stop a romance between Caroline and Tucker blooming.

This was a re-read for me. It's been just so long since I've read it and after Unfinished Business where the heroine was a professional piano player, I felt like re-reading Carnal Innocence. Straight up, you know Carnal Innocence has good writing - hello,  Nora Roberts! LOL. I also really liked the characters. Caroline and Tucker were a case of opposite attraction :) Caroline is uptight while Tucker is so relaxed. Yet, both are very generous :)  I just thought they complemented each other well. As for the romance, well it's a nice fling between two consenting adults that grows into something more :) Nice and well-done :)

The mystery aspect of the book was quite interesting and I think it was pretty unexpected. What didn't work too well with me was the small-mindness of the town - racism and religion. I'm not too keen whenever there's a religious fanatic character in my book. Perhaps because I don't really care about religion ^_^; but a lot of time, I just can't help but dislike these characters. As for the racism, I know this book was written in 1991, but it was quite jarring to see that such attitude still existed. What the town's people did at the end of the book to that family?! Totally unacceptable! And while it wasn't the focus, I'm quite shocked that it wasn't pursued. Like after such an event, for that family to just go on as if nothing happened? I'd have packed my bags.

Overall though, it was a good re-read. Not Ms Roberts' best, but quite satisfying.

15) Perfect Play by Jaci Burton: B+
Upcoming Review.

16) Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett: C+
Upcoming Review.

17) Never Resist Temptation by Miranda Neville: C-

Jacobin de Chastelux is the daughter of a French aristocrat and English noblewoman. Orphaned, she grew up in England in her uncle and guardian's household, Lord Candover. For unknown reasons, Lord Candover hates her and never paid attention to her... and so Jacobin has been able to pursue her passion: patisserie. Then one day, Jacobin is summoned and learns that is to pay off her uncle's gaming debts by becoming the Earl of Storrington's mistress. Shocked, Jacobin runs away with her mentor and together, they find her a position in the royal kitchen, disguised as a man. Except all goes wrong after a dinner party during which her uncle is poisoned with one of her creations! On the run again, Jacobin has no other choice than seeking refuge at Storrington's.

Anthony, Earl of Storrington, has a score to settle with Lord Candover. He wants to ruin the man and if it means taking his niece as a prize, he'll do it! Luckily for him though, she ran away with the cook... Unlucky for him is that Candover has come up with the money. Now, he needs to find another way to entice Candover... Knowing the man has a sweet tooth, Anthony tries to hire a new patissier whose sweets he knows Candover won't be able to resist. Except, Anthony is really attracted to his new chef...

Let see. I thought the beginning of Never Resist Temptation was great and very, very promising. I also loved the culinary aspect of the book. I thought it was very refreshing that Jacobin was interested in patisserie.  It's not a theme that you see often in historicals and it worked for me. I also really liked Jacobin. She's independent, smart, flexible. Sure, she's a bit stubborn when it comes to her art, but she has character, that's for sure :) It's just unfortunate that the hero and storyline didn't live up to its good start.

First, the revenge plot was meh. A bit too convoluted although it was a great foil for Anthony and his sister's relationship. Still, I'm not sure what was the extent of Candover's involvement. Yes, the man is horrible... but the explanation why Candover hated his brother-in-law? Nah, didn't do it for me. Then, there was Anthony. He was okay-ish, till he found out his new chef was really Jacobin. The guy is attracted to Jacobin, but she's part of his household and a young woman... so he doesn't dare make a move. But once he finds out that she is Jacobin, because rumors have it that she has ran off with her uncle's chef, then suddenly,"She wasn't a respectable unmarried lady" and becomes fair game. Seriously?!? I really couldn't believe it!! Even if she has really run off with the chef, I can't accept his behavior :( It really turned me off the book. And that's why it gets the grade above.

18) The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh: B-/B
Upcoming Review.

19) The Wild Marquis by Miranda Neville: B-

The Marquis of Chase, Cain, was kicked out by his father at the age of 16 years old for unknown reasons. With only 100 pounds, he made his way to London where he was promptly robbed and injured... If he hadn't been taken in by two prostitutes, he would have died in the street. Spending most of his adult life in brothels and with the demi-monde, Cain has acquired a wretched reputation and is barely accepted in polite Society.

One day, Cain comes across a catalogue advertising the auction of Tarleton's impressive books collection, among which is the Burgundy Books of Hours. Cain is intrigued because his family owns the Burgundy Books of Hours and being a prized item, he cannot see under which circumstances his father, the Saintly Marquis, would have parted with the book. However, he vaguely remembers Tarleton's visit to Markley Chase Abbey not long before his exile and wonder if perhaps, it is actually not related to his exile. In any case, Cain is determined to get his hands back on what belongs to him... However, knowing nothing about books or auctions, Cain needs help and is directed to Juliana Merton, owner of J.C. Merton. Juliana lost her husband about a year ago... and if things continue this way, she will also lose her business as many books collectors look down on her. If she could acquire the Burgundy Books of Hours on Cain's behalf, it would be a coup! Also, the commission could also help her acquiring some books that belonged to her mother...

Once again, the beginning of The Wild Marquis was very good. I was engaged by the story and the characters as soon as I started reading the book. I also really like the book theme of The Wild Marquis. It was refreshing and very interesting. The whole auction atmosphere, Cain and Juliana looking at books, the reasons why some people would collect some books - binding, authors, first edition, etc. I also really liked both characters, they were likable and had quite a lot of depth. Especially Cain. Being kicked out of the house at such a young age, not knowing why... and then, having such a bad reputation, which is none of his fault really. Seeing how society can be so superficial... I really, really liked it. Unfortunately, the second half of The Wild Marquis really didn't live up to the first. Halfway through the book, there was a lot of going on including the romance... and it felt to me Ms Neville lost the focus of the book. Suddenly, the book wasn't about the Burgundy Books of Hours and the auction anymore, but on Cain's past, Juliana's past, Cain's little sister and possible other job for Juliana. There was just too much. I have to say that Juliana's past and the intrigue concerning her was actually quite interesting... However, when you add in everything else? It's such a shame given how good the beginning was. I'm not saying The Wild Marquis wasn't a good book... Simply, it wasn't as good as what it could have been.

20) The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen: B
Upcoming Post.

21) Vanish by Tess Gerritsen: B+
Upcoming Post.

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

Sorry, wasn't able to keep the mini-reviews short ^_^; It's really something I need to work on. LOL, I have to say that I was really tempted starting individual reviews for each of them!! But then, I have so other books that I want to properly review ^_^; Perhaps I should do point-form mini-reviews... Hmmmm. In any case, told ya, I really had a great month of July! :)  21 books read and 11 of them were from my RWA/NYC haul!! It was awesome LOL. Just too bad I'm not doing as good this month. As you can see, I was also in a historical kick... which is probably what started my reading slump ^_^; Oups. However, most historical books I read were really good and I was really happy.

Sigh, July is going to be very hard to beat :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tennis Day

Good week-end everyone!! What are your plans? All I want to do is relax and read :) and looks like that's what I'm going to do as I'll be mostly on my own :) Right now, I'm just waiting for my hair to dry so I can snuggle up in my bed and continue reading Ghost Story by Jim Butcher :) This might pull me out of my reading lump!

So as promised, here's a little recap of my day off at the Rogers Cup! :) This day was possible, all thanks to my sister who's a volunteer for the event :) As a volunteer, she gets a pair of tickets... that she does not need as she has access to all the matches! Yay for my dad and I!! LOL. So here's my sister, volunteering. She was part of the information team :)

The tickets were for the morning session. We had access to the site starting from 11am and the matches were beginning at noon. My dad and I left the house a little bit late, then hit some traffic... but the hardest was finding a place of parking!! The Uniprix stadium is really great, the whole site is actually great as well as the atmosphere... Unfortunately, there was not much parking space! Anyway, we entered the site... and immediately ran into my sister :) Then, we went to take our seats. The match between Berdych and Karlovic had already started.

The match was okay. Karlovic is a very powerful server and so, there were no long exchanges between the two players. It was not the most riveting tennis match I've seen ^_^; Still, it was fun to just be there :)

Also, Thursday was almost a perfect tennis day... at least, for the audience LOL.  The temperature was cool, and the sky, cloudy. So not big sun shining on us... and actually, with the winds, it was almost chilly. Okay, I did worry a little bit when I saw that big grey cloud over us. I mean, it had rained the day before... But pretty soon, it passed us :)

After the Berdych vs. Karlovic match, we had the chance to see the new world no. 1, Djokovic, play against Cilic. The previous night, Cilic won against one of my favorite player, Del Potro... so I was expecting a good match between the two and I was not disappointed! The match between Djokovic and Cilic was much better, with a lot of long exchanges... and the two players had some very nice precision shots. The first set was tight, Cilic faltering at the last two points!! Awwwww. The second set went by much faster, unfortunately.

After Djokovic and Cilic were done playing, there was no other match on the central court. However, what's great with the tickets we got is that it did give us access to the other courts' matches. So we went to Court no. 1 and got to see Tipsarevic vs. Dodig... The latter is the player who ousted Nadal at this year's Rogers Cup :) Since everyone from the central court rushed to court no. 1, it was a bit hard to find some good places. We ended up behind the scoreboard... but hey, these were free tickets right? So beggars can't be choosers :P

This match was pretty much one-sided. It's unfortunate that Dodig lost after winning against Nadal... but the guy hadn't had much time to recuperate, so it wasn't that surprising either. Once that match was over, it was almost 6pm and my sister was almost done with her shift. We could have stayed on longer on court no. 1 or go to the other smaller courts to watch more tennis... but my dad and I were ready to go home LOL. Perhaps if it had been me alone, I would have pushed on and try to get some autographs... I mean, Andy Murray had a practice... Djokovic and Tipsarevic were playing in double later that night as well as the Bryan-Bryan... and I could have watched those matches :) However, I think my dad had had enough LOL.

Yay, not the most flattering angle ^_^; Anyway, it was still a great day and a great experience. I love tennis, although I have to admit I haven't followed much this year. Some of my favorite female players aren't in the mix really and Wimbledon took place at the same time as RWA... So wasn't much into it this year, but you never know when tennis bug will bite again :)

One thing that I discovered by attending the matches is that the umpire calls "time" to indicate to the players that the change-overs are over. I did not know that! Probably because when I watch on TV, it's always an ad LOL. Also, the public moves a lot during a tennis match. People really come and go. They talk, discuss and some even do their own commentary (that was a bit annoying). It's quite amazing that the players can block it all off! Would I be ready to go back? Sure! I don't think I'd have the patience to attend all the sessions... but once or twice during the tournament? Definitively. Especially since the tickets allow you to see so many matches :) Definitively worth it :)

And at the end of the day, I had a really nice glow LOL.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath

Another review!! Woohoo, two a week, I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself LOL. Of course, if I plan to catch up on all my reviews, I'll need to pick up the pace a little... but for now, I'm just happy maintaining :)

Today, I have a day off!! I know, how rare, right? My sister is once again volunteering at the Rogers' Cup, which is the tennis tournament held in Montreal. As a volunteer, she scores two tickets, so my dad and I are going to see some matches today! This year, Montreal is welcoming the men!! Then again, Murray and Nadal are already out, so is Del Potro... but meh, it's still a good excuse to miss work!! And who knows, perhaps at the end of the day, I'll have new favorite players!

I'll let you know how it tomorrow :) In the meantime, enjoy my review of Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath, one of my most anticipated book this summer!!

Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher) in June 2011

They are masters of seduction, London's greatest lovers...

Renowned for his bedchamber prowess, Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley, owes a debt to a friend. But the payment expected is most shocking, even to an unrepentant rake—for he's being asked to provide his friend's exquisite wife with what she most dearly covets: a child.

Living for pleasure, they will give their hearts to no one...

Lady Jayne Seymour, Marchioness of Walfort, is furious that such a scandalous agreement would be made. If she acquiesces, there must be rules: no kissing... and, certainly, no pleasure.

Until love takes them by surprise.

But unexpected things occur with the surprisingly tender duke—especially once Lady Jayne discovers the rogue can make her dream again... and Ransom realizes he's found the one woman he truly cannot live without.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: London's Greatest Lovers trilogy, Book #3

The Story: Three years ago, the Duke of Ainsley and his cousin, the Marquis of Walfort, were in a carriage accident resulting in Walfort being paralyzed from the waist down. In the days following the accident, the worries and uncertainties caused Lady Jayne to miscarry. Therefore, it goes without saying that Ainsley who was holding the reins feels guilty and accepts Lady Jayne's rancor as his due. As such, it is with disbelief that Ainsley hears out Walfort's request: to impregnate his wife. The idea is simply outrageous and Ainsley is sure that Jayne wouldn't acquiesce... Half in love with Jayne though, Ainsley accepts if it means bringing her happiness, giving back her life.

At first, Jayne is furious at the idea... but, how else will she has a child of her own? In the end, she reluctantly accepts to spend a month away with Ainsley. However, she is determined not get any pleasure out of this arrangement...

Unfortunately, all their plans go awry when Walfort's health starts to decline...

My Opinion: It's really not a secret in blogland that I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, Passions of a Wicked Earl and Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman, a lot. Actually, enormously :) And so, I was really, really looking forward to Ainsley's story and I know I was not alone. As soon as I found out the blurb of Waking Up with the Duke, I emailed Ames telling her how interesting and unusual the storyline sounded. After reading the book, I command Ms Heath for writing such a daring storyline. I think she was able to take such a risk because the hero was Ainsley and readers were looking forward to his story... Unfortunately, the risk did not pay off ^_^;

Like everyone, I thought Ainsley was a great hero. I love how upstanding he was, but also how understanding and patient. He really cares about the people around him, he is responsible, etc. The perfect duke - actually, the perfect man. If I was offered to travel back in time to be Ainsley's bride, I would immediately - given there is some guarantee he would fall in love with me LOL. Anyway, it was kind of sweet that Ainsley was already half in love with Jayne... and that was the crux of the problem. Half in love and feeling guilty... that is not a good combination, because it meant he kept cuddling Jayne, trying to please and appease her. It gave Jayne a bit too much power and it was unfair. The whole romance was pretty much dependent on Jayne and she wasn't as great a character ^_^; Thinking back on Hilcia's review, it would have been great to see Ainsley be more assertive, be more duke-ish. I think it would have helped if there had been more interactions between Ainsley and his brothers (that was a bummer, really). However, I understand the circumstances... and in my book, Ainsley is still a great man LOL.

Now, Jayne. She was definitively a complex character. I mean, can someone blame her being bitter and resentful towards Ainsley after the accident and the miscarriage? I don't think so. Also, out of it, she lost a lot... not just a baby or a husband, but also intimacy. I'm not saying sex sex, but just hugs, kisses and embraces. Touches of affection. It must have been really hard for her, especially that period of time not having the technology of today or the knowledge. So her attitude towards Ainsley concerning the accident was totally warranted. The only problem is that she didn't know him very well and she made assumptions on his character that wasn't true. And then, given all the bad feelings she had towards him, she changed her mind way too quickly that it didn't make sense. I understand her given in to the one month to get pregnant. She desperately wants a child and that was pretty much the only way she was going to get one. Is it very different than artificial insemination? Okay, true, the whole point of artificial insemination is to avoid intercourse... but that technology was not available. I think that as long as Walfort was aware of it - there was nothing wrong with it. Sure, it was not accepted by society, but at least, she didn't lie to Walfort. And really, who wouldn't fall in love with Ainsley? The only thing is I didn't see a progression in the falling in love. One minute, she hated him... The other minute, she saw him doing some good things and the next, everything was forgotten and she was in love with him. That was my whole issue with the romance.

And this review wouldn't be complete without mentioning Walfort. Some might think he was manipulative and yes he was... but at the same time, he wanted everyone happy and everyone's future assured. And he did everything to do it, even withholding information. I like the fact that Walfort truly came to appreciate and love Jayne after the accident... and that when she came back after her month-long interlude with Ainsley, he was worried he has lost her.

When I read the blurb, I was wondering how Ainsley and Jayne would get their HEA ending. It's unfortunate how it came about, but I think Ms Heath did a great job about the story. The only problem was Jayne having to accept Ainsley's proposal... and I think once again, it gave her too much power. Anyway, she did come to her sense.

Aside from this, I liked the secondary storyline with Ainsley's mother and Leo :) LOL, go Leo!! :) I also liked the little bit of interaction we saw between Ainsley and his nephew. I thought that was really cute LOL. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see much of Ainsley's brothers. I wished to have seen a lot more of them... Also, that the book wasn't focused a bit more on his past - him being a duke while being the youngest son. I understand that the three brothers have come to terms with their issues... but still, this was a very interesting and unusual dynamic and I think Ms Heath should have played it up a bit more. One last thing - I don't get the name of this trilogy. "London's Greatest Lover" - I would have think they'd be more rakish or something... but it didn't really play into the storyline... and every time it was mentioned how "great" a lover Ainsley was, I thought it was a bit too forced ^_^;

Ah well, Waking Up with the Duke was not the Ainsley story that I expected... and because of that, it did dim my enjoyment of the book a little. Still, I loved Ainsley in it, I loved the glimpses we saw of his family... and you have to give credit to Ms Heath for making this storyline work :) I think if Jayne had been a little bit different, less angry... it would have been different. Like I said earlier, I understand Jayne's feelings about the situation... but understanding doesn't make her character likable. So with a better heroine, this book would have been much better.

My Grade: B-. Looking forward to Ms Heath's next book :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Review: Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Not much going on with me. Recovering from my week-end :) and trying to get out of my reading slump ^_^; Enjoying the last few weeks of summer as well! I really can't believe we're in August already... sigh. What about you? What are you up to?

Hope you enjoy this review!

Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro
published by Berkley in May 2011

After Jamie Newman's half sister Laurel steals her boyfriend, Jamie leaves New York and the humiliation behind for the island of Seaside Cove, North Carolina. But the cozy cottage she booked turns out to be a rundown bungalow. And she's not alone. Her drama-prone mother, angst- ridden niece and newly dumped Laurel all follow her down. With a cottage this crowded, will she ever have a chance at finding love again?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Seaside Cove series, Book #1

The Story: I don't think I can summarize the storyline of Summer at Seaside Cove better than it was done in the blurb... so I won't try. All I'm going to do is add a few more details LOL. Jamie and Laurel are half-sisters and work at the restaurant their father established, Newman; Jamie as a manager and Laurel as PR. Said father passed away three years ago and ever since then, Jamie's mother has been leaning on Jamie heavily, almost unable to make any decision on her own. When Jamie's boyfriend leave her for Laurel, Jamie is hurt and humiliated... but she also realizes that dating Richard who came from the rich upper world, she lost a bit of herself. That's why she heads for Seaside Cove... to get away from her hectic life in New York and all the hurts, but also to find herself...

What Jamie has realized after her boyfriend dumped her, Nick Trent has figured it all out before. Tired of living the life that other people expect from him, Nick left everything behind to start fresh at Seaside Cove. With his brown Labrador dog Godiva, Nick is living his life at his own rhythm, renovating the cottages. When Nick and Jamie first met, let say they didn't get a great impressions of each other ^_^; Nick thinks Jamie is high-maintenance, princess-y and demanding, while Jamie thinks Nick is a lazy, irresponsible drunk. However, as they get to know each other, they realize how wrong they were... and are interested in seeing where the sparks between them will lead.

My Opinion: Looking back at Summer at Seaside Cove, there's nothing about it that screams wowzer... and yet, it turned out to be a great read :)

I really can't say how much I enjoyed Summer at Seaside Cove. A big part of it were the characters, especially Jamie and Nick. They were interesting and likable characters whom you could relate to and I guess that's why they felt real. I liked the fact that they got to know each other better, amending their first impressions, and appreciate each other before giving to attraction and jumping into bed. I like how supporting Nick was towards Jamie's problems. In a way, he understood what she was going through and shared his experience with her, but never pushed her to take a decision. He definitively was what she needed :) So definitively a good romance here :) Oh and to complete the picture, I thought Godiva was adorable!! :) She was just so fun to read about, vibrant, and really put a smile on my face while I read the book... and I think she set the tone of the book LOL.

While the story of Summer at Seaside Cove was not very original - burn-out heroine going away to find herself, Ms D'Alessandro managed to surprise me with some twists and that was unexpected, but in a really good way :) The twists weren't major or anything, but it made the book stand out for me. For example, the simple fact that Laurel was Jamie's older half-sister. From the blurb, I immediately assumed that Laurel was the annoying, spoiled, inconsiderate little sister... and so finding out that Laurel was actually older was refreshing. Also the part with Jamie's mother - did not expect! I also think Ms D'Alessandro did a great job with these secondary characters, fleshing them just enough to be interesting, but not enough that they stole the spotlight from Jamie and Nick and become annoying.

Finally, kudos to Ms D'Alessandro for striking just the right tone with Summer at Seaside Cove. If I had to describe the book, it'd be fluff with some depth LOL. I know, I know, how can a book be fluffy and deep at the same time? I can't explain it, but that's exactly what Ms D'Alessandro achieved LOL. So I guess it's really a question of balance :) I think it's because all the conflicts that Ms D'Alessandro introduced were resolved and resolved in a satisfactory fashion instead of just being swept aside or tied in a nice knot. I liked that the characters actually communicate, talk to each other to resolve these conflicts :)

I've read Ms D'Alessandro before and this is definitively my favorite book of hers :) True, there's nothing that special about Summer at Seaside Cove storyline, but it hit the right spot :) As such, I highly recommend it as a summer read and if you don't believe me, you can read Hils's review :)

My Grade: B+.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hauling Sunday LII

Hey everyone!

How's your week-end going? :) Mine is excellent so far :) My mom is celebrating her 60th birthday and we're all having fun :) She had friends over yesterday and today, we're taking her out :) Also, her little brother and his wife are here with us :)  But best of all, we were able to surprise her with her birthday gift!! Woohoo!! The truth is, my sister and I are really not subtle when buying gifts. We'd rather buy something that the person really likes or really wants and ruin the surprise, than surprising them with something so-so. But this time, we succeeded on both fronts!! Woohoo :)

I've been a very good girl this whole week - not going to the bookstore at all... Despite starting a reading slump ^_^; I know, I know. I have so many books, but nothing is calling to me!! Seriously though, I think one of the reasons is that I read too many historicals in July ^_^; Anyway, so I didn't go to the bookstore... but this morning, while my parents were at the temple and my sister at work, I had to entertain my uncle and aunt... and we went shopping and so I stopped at Indigo. Now, it's been a constant debate the whole week, because some of the bookstores have received the books that I wanted... but not James'. I asked James to order copies for me and put it aside... but almost every bookstores have received their stock... and I wonder if James will, since they're closing in September... In the end, I bought the two books I wanted...

Here they are:

Basilisk by Rob Thurman - I have become a huge fan of Rob Thurman. Love, love her books and the bromance in them. I'm so happy we get a sequel to Chimera... Can't wait to see how Michael has grown up!! I decided to go ahead and buy Basilisk because the last Thurman release, Blackout, didn't make it to James' bookstore, despite him ordering it... so I'm thinking there's a chance the same thing will happen. Now, the most difficult is to not read the excerpt of the next Cal Leandros book Doubletake at the end of the book!

Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison - Sigh, still haven't reviewed Dragon Bound. Ah well. LOL. I enjoyed Dragon Bound - not as much as everyone else it seems, but I liked it. I'm hoping I'll enjoy Storm's Heart even more. Also, really liked Tricks... and this might get me out of my funk! I was going to be a good girl though and wait till James' bookstore get it... but then, when I checked the stores' inventory... turns out that Indigo was the only bookstore easily accessible for me who still had a copy ^_^; So I decided not to take a chance...

Voila, my two new books :) What about you? What did you get? Anything really good?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Review: One Whisper Away by Emma Wildes

It seems I cannot find the right balance ^_^; Either I'm reading or reviewing... Either way, I'll take it LOL. I'm so happy to finally be reviewing a bit :) By the way, in case you didn't know, Ames, Monroe and I have our post for new releases up over at Breezing Through :)

Speaking of new releases... I was at the bookstore yesterday, looking for Basilisk by Rob Thurman. Jeez, it's been months since I went to that particular bookstore - lately, I've been going to James' bookstore (which is closing!! *sob*) or the one that's closest to home... and I've realized two things: 1) I've been spoiled and 2) I'm getting old LOL. I know that bookstore has gotten Basilisk since last week and yesterday was its official release date... and it wasn't on the shelves! Grrr. Looking around, there were few carts with tons of books on it... and I looked at those carts... Few  years ago, I would have been going through each one of them and looking for the book I wanted. Yesterday? I felt too lazy and walked away LOL. Okay, perhaps it's not getting old, but rather laziness... but I mean, it's telling, no? Now, I'll just wait for either James' bookstore to get it or the one closest to me... And that ladies (and gentlemen?) was my most recent book adventure... Sad no?

Okay, enough babbling from me. Here's my review of One Whisper Away by Emma Wildes. I'm so proud of myself for this one, because I was able to make myself wait till RWA to get my hands on it. Yep people, I waited a whole 2 months LOL. See, I'm not a lost cause LOL.

One Whisper Away by Emma Wildes
published by New American Library in May 2011
Lady Cecily Francis is resigned to become the wife of Lord Drury, the man she suspects her sister is pining for. But upon her first scandalous encounter with the exotic Earl of Augustine-the American whom everyone is whispering about- Cecily is intrigued by the possibility of a more exciting life. If only she could contrive some way to marry the unconventional earl instead....

Around town he's known as Earl Savage. Although he inherited his title legitimately-and, with it, responsibility for his three half sisters-Augustine is half American and part Iroquois. He can't wait to settle his father's estate, marry his sisters off, and return to his native soil. Until charming Lady Cecily has him considering a prolonged stay in England...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Ladies in Waiting series, Book #1

The Story: Jonathan Bourne, Earl of Augustine, has come from America to England after his father's death to assume his title. Half-English, a quarter Native and a quarter French, Augustine is a man of two worlds, accustomed not to be accepted in polite society and quite frankly, he doesn't care. All he wants is to quickly marry off his three half-sisters whom he's never met, so he can return to America. This should be easy as his sisters are pretty and well-dowered... Only, this task turns out to be more difficult than he imagined when he finds out that the eldest, Lillian, was embroiled in a scandal years ago and is considered ruined. Worst, she is not even received in Society... Even with a title and a fortune, Augustine - with his looks, his faux pas towards Lady Cecily Francis and his illegitimate 5 years old daughter in tow - might not have enough cloud to restore her position in society.

Lady Cecily Francis is the daughter of the Duke of Eddington and is considered the belle of the season. All she wants is to go back to the country, but as it's been pointed to her, that's not where she'll find a husband. However, she fears that Viscount Drury who is a friend of her brother and very eligible bachelor is about to propose to her and her father will definitively encourage the match... and Cecily has no idea how to turn him down without revealing that her elder sister is in love with him... But what if she was already engaged? Not only she wouldn't have to reject him, but she could even steer Lord Drury towards her sister. And Cecily knows exactly who to ask to pose as her betrothed... as only one man has caught her attention...

My Opinion: I was really looking forward to One Whisper Away as Ms Wildes has become one of my favorite and auto-buy historical romance authors, but at the same time, when I found out that the hero was Native American, I was a little bit wary. I'm not super fond of Native American characters, especially not in historical, because it's always the same issues that come up - acceptance - and with Augustine being nicknamed Earl Savage, it didn't look very promising. In the end though, the hero being Native had almost no repercussion on the storyline so it was fine with me :)

Overall, I enjoyed One Whisper Away, but it wasn't Ms Wildes best. I think the the writing was solid as usual, but there was too much happening in the book and the characters weren't utilized to their fullest potential. Ms Wildes had two really interesting characters in Lady Cecily and Augustine - an aside: one thing that I enjoy so much of Ms Wildes' books is that although her heroines are young, they have a level of maturity that is quite refreshing - but instead of focusing on them and their romance, she gave too much of the spotlights to the secondary storylines. I really liked Cecily and Augustine and was expecting more conflicts in their romance... The beginning was quite promising with Cecily's father encouraging her to accept Lord Drury's proposal, Augustine barely being accepted in society. I expected Augustine to have to do a lot more to ingratiate himself to the ton... and perhaps it's a good thing he didn't have to. However, once Cecily came up with the fake engagement plan, almost immediately, Augustine decided that he wanted the real thing and let's forget his plans to go back to America and voila, Cecily and Augustine were in love with each other. I thought everything happened a bit too quickly when it came to our H/H and the story moved on. I was looking forward to more scenes between Augustine's daughter and Cecily, but that also was brushed aside quickly. In that aspect, I thought One Whisper Away was a bit of a disappointment.

I did however really enjoy the secondary storylines. I really loved how smart and considerate Cecily was. As I said, she might be young, but she has a level of maturity that a lot of heroines in other historical romance lack. I liked that she knew her sister Eleanor was in love with Lord Drury, I liked that she realized that she and Lord Drury might match, but it wasn't love and therefore had no intention of accepting. I like that she didn't give away her sister's secrets and instead, planned to bring them together somehow. So yes, that part, I really liked. I also enjoyed Augustine's sister, Lillian, storyline. I think that was a nice setting up for the next book... I liked the conflicting emotions Lillian had about her brother and would have liked Ms Wildes to develop this further. So yes, I really enjoyed these secondary storylines, but at the same time, I thought Ms Wildes spent too much time on them. For example, the revelation about Lillian's scandal should have been kept for her book instead. And seriously, the shooting at the end? Totally superfluous. Yes, it was foreshadowed - and not very well ^_^; But seriously, the book could have done without it and not suffer at all.

Of course, there were also some good moments in this book such as Augustine's meeting with Cecily's father LOL. And I really enjoyed the interactions between all the characters - Augustine with his cousin, the siblings relationship between all three Eddington's offsprings, etc. However, after I finished reading One Whisper Away, I simply wasn't wowed... It was a nice book, an enjoyable one, but it missed the mark a little... and I think it was because the romance between Augustine and Cecily was not deep enough.

My Grade: B. Not a wowzer, but still quite enjoyable with solid writing :) Now, I'm really looking forward to Twice Fallen (January 2012), not only for Lillian, but also for the hero, Damien Northfield which we met in Lessons from a Scarlet Lady.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Review: Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

Hey everyone!

How are you doing? Hope everything's good :) A bit quiet lately, but I guess that's summer for you! Although truth be told, I've also been quiet... My excuses are work and reading :) I've been reading a lot, yay! And most of it from my RWA loot :) However, I need to get back to blogging, otherwise, I'll lose my touch. It took me forever to put the words together for my review of Playing Dirty. It just wasn't coming together ^_^; Hopefully, it'll be more easy with Kiss of Snow... but I doubt ^_^;  It wasn't.

Can you believe it's been almost 2 months since I read Kiss of Snow?!? Where does time go?!? I intended to review Kiss of Snow earlier, but it slipped through the cracks with everything going on at that time... Perhaps it's a good thing though, as the craze has died down a little and it's given me more time to reflect on it... I guess we'll see :) Anyway, here I go!

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in May 2011

Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would've been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules-and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other's secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight...

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna's darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home-and the alpha who is its heartbeat.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Psy/Changelings series, Book #10

The Story:  Okay, we all know what the story of Kiss of Snow is about: Hawke and Sienna finally getting together!! Woohoo! LOL. I think the blurb sums it up well, but I'll give it a try.

Hawke and Sienna have been attracted to each other ever since the Laurens family joined the SnowDancer Pack. However, Hawke never acted on the attraction for several reasons: 1) Sienna's age, 2) Hawke doesn't like Psy, 3) he lost his mate when he was a kid, 4) he's been warned off Sienna by many he cares and trusts, etc. Unfortunately, as Sienna matures from rebellious teenager to beautiful young woman, the attraction becomes harder and harder to fight off... and it has made Hawke very, very edgy. Not a good state of mind for the leader of the pack, especially since all signs indicate that they are heading to war against the Psy.

Finally, at the age of 19, Sienna feels that she is in control of her life. Sienna has always been worried about the people around her, afraid that she would hurt her with her power. However, it seems like she's gotten a grasp on her power and perhaps she'll beat the odd as fellow Psy with her designation, X, tend to die young of self-combustion. She wants Hawke to stop seeing her as a juvenile and see her as a woman... However, she won't settle for what he can give her, she wants everything of him.

But can she handle what she wants? And what happens when her control over her power starts to slip?

My Opinion: Okay, not quite a good summary ^_^; But at least, I tried LOL.

Like everyone else in blogland, I was really looking forward to Kiss of Snow. I mean, the romance between Hawke and Sienna has been hinted since the first book, Slave to Sensation, and only reinforced since... and I was just looking forward to see it unfolds. Strangely enough, I never thought of Kiss of Snow as a May-December romance... I mean, seriously, Hawke is in his prime, isn't he? LOL. Very different than most May-December romance out there... but since a May-December romance is about the age difference, then I guess Hawke and Sienna's relationship qualifies... and perhaps that's why the romance aspect did not work for me that well.

Oh don't get me wrong. I love Hawke and Sienna's characters and am so happy to finally see them get together. However, the romance? I don't know. Sure there was a lot of sexual tension and that is good. Also, Ms Singh addresses the logistic aspect of their relationship really well - Sienna's age, Hawke's alpha-ness and his position, what it would mean for Sienna to become Hawke's lover and etc - and did a great job at it... but as a whole, I wasn't invested in Hawke and Sienna's relationship as I thought I'd be. Mostly because their romance felt like a tug war. I mean, for books, Sienna wanted Hawke and when Hawke was finally ready, she backed away. It was like a well choreographed dance: one moves forward while the other steps back than vice versa instead of both characters meeting in the middle. I understand why the relationship was that way and it made sense, but personally I wanted them to get together and move on ^_^; I think the war setting didn't help either - everything around them was so precarious, time was running out especially once Sienna's power factored in... I felt Hawke and Sienna were a bit rushed, like it's now or never, so let makes this work. Perhaps as a whole, the romance would have work better for me if it wasn't for those circumstances... If Hawke and Sienna got to spend more time together and just be themselves... Like that scene where Sienna and Hawke dance together? Awwww. I admit that the scenes where Sienna and Hawke were able to steal a moment together, those were very sweet :) I just wished they had even more time to spend together and work it out. And as such, I'm a bit disappointed with the resolution of their romance... just because it's been the same with every Psy heroine in the series :( I love, love, love self-sacrificing heroines and I have to say, there is something about dying heroines... however, it has become so redundant in the series ^_^; It definitively took a little away in my opinion. I thought it would be different with Sienna, because she is different. She has such an unusual power, but in the end...

Speaking of power, that's another aspect of the book that didn't quite work for me. I've really been looking forward to see what was Sienna's power. It's been hinted in the series that the "X" designation is special... and  overall, I think that Ms Singh came up with something interesting. Unfortunately for me, it was really hard to visualize it... especially the final revelation. The whole resonance, the flames, the earthing, the valve, etc. I think Ms Singh lost me a little ^_^;

The rest of the book though? I adored :) Loved, loved, loved the secondary romance between Walker and Lara. For me, that romance totally eclipsed Hawke and Sienna's. The way they got to know each other and the depth of Walker's character. My heart broke for what Walker went through... and that scene where he's braiding Marly's hair? Awwwww. I couldn't get enough of Lara and Walker and wished they had gotten their own book... but I'll take this :)  I have to say, I'm really falling for the strong, silent type LOL. I was also very happy to see more of the Laurens family - Marly and Toby. I've been dying to see how Toby has grown up... and also seeing the dynamics between the family members and also, the bond that existed between Walker, Judd and their sister. I feel that prior Silence, most of the Psy families would have been like the Laurens. Loyal to each other, united, there for each other. I wished we'd have even more glimpses of their connection than what we've got.

Also kudos for Ms Singh for taking the storyline where she did. I didn't really believe we'd see war in the series. I thought they'd be able to avoid it, take care of things before it reached that point. It's hard as a reader to see their beloved characters entering such a precarious situation, but I can't believe how hard it is for author to write them. To decide who lives and who doesn't. So as I said, kudos to Ms Singh. Also, the storyline is as always so solid - loved it. I hope that the series won't end at the end of the war, that we'll see a bit of the aftermath - because that's always the critical part.

All in all, I really enjoyed Kiss of Snow. I think Ms Singh did a great job balancing the storyline, the romance, the serious parts with the light-hearted ones. Sascha giving birth? It gives hope :) This book could have been very dark, but it wasn't. It's just unfortunate that the romance between Sienna and Hawke did not work for me, especially since I enjoy their characters so much.

My Grade: B+.