Saturday, June 30, 2012

6th Blogiversary Giveaways' Winners!

Thank you everyone for the wishes! I love you all! LOL.

So the winners for the giveaways are:

elena and Brie

Yay! Elena, you will be getting Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews and Brie, you have won the 15$ giftcard! :) I will be in contact shortly with you both :)

Thanks everyone for your participation! :)

PS - Nobody entered the first giveaway which was signed copies of The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie, Just One Taste by Louisa Edwards and Money Shot by Susan Sey. If anyone wants them, just let me know :)

Week-End's Minis XX: Jacked Up by Erin McCarthy

Jacked Up by Erin McCarthy
published by Berkley in June 2012
She's holding tight. He's hanging loose.

Eve Monroe is a stock-car PR pro who puts her career first--until an on-track wardrobe malfunction reveals more than the sexy smile of jackman Nolan Ford. The video's become an internet sensation, and it's Eve's job to calm the sponsors and put a spin on the unexpected exposure.

And they both have the same drive.

It may be a public relations job, but now that Eve's seen what's under Nolan's crew suit, it's gotten personal. After a few dates she has Nolan pretty revved up. If only she'd learn to relax and enjoy it. Nolan's sure that the spontaneous birthday bash he's throwing for Eve in Las Vegas should loosen her up. Somewhere between cocktails and a smoking-hot motel-room derby, it does more than that. Now Eve's wrestling with feelings she never expected, as everything about her personal jackman gets harder than she ever imagined.
Genre: Contemporary romance, Sports romance
Series: Fast Track series, Book #6

What do you need to know? Nolan Ford is a jackman, part of Evan Monroe's team. Recently, during a race, he jumped over a fence to get to Evan's race car and ripped the seat of his pants... exposing his butt to all to view. As a result, he's attracted Eve's ire... and he uses the opportunity to ask her out on a date.

Eve is in charge of the PR for both her brothers. She's stressed and frustrated because nobody seems to understand or appreciate her hard work and just think she enjoys nagging them. Which she doesn't. In fact, taking a good look at her life, Eve realizes she's unhappy... and the reason for her unhappiness is actually because she has given up her dreams of driving due to peer pressure.

At first Eve is unsure about dating Nolan, but she is flattered by his attention. She also realizes he brings fun in her life; however, she's unsure if she can change her ways enough to seize this new-found happiness.

Why this book? Initially, I told myself not to get this book, because I've been disappointed with the last couple installments. In the end, I changed my mind because I skimmed the beginning and the end of Jacked Up and it sounded good...

My thoughts? Overall, I think Jacked Up was more enjoyable than Slow Ride, but only by a bit. Once again, the hero saved the book. I quite liked Nolan, he was an easy and nice guy and had his sweet moments. I liked how he tried to bring Eve out of her shell, make her more relax and enjoy life. Just a great guy overall and I also liked that he was not a driver! As for Eve, there's no other way to describe it, she was bitchy ^_^; However, point in her favor, she knew she was bitchy and I don't think she meant it on purpose, but simply had a prickly personality. The thing is, she's been unhappy and repressed for so long, she forgot how to enjoy life. Unfortunately, while I understand this, it did not make Eve more likable because I think Ms McCarthy took her bitchiness a bit too far. I mean, it's okay to have a prickly character like Laurel from Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts - I loved her! However, you cannot take it too far and you have to combine it with something or write it in a way readers will still think "Oh, I'd love a friend like her." Not someone you'd want to give a wide berth in real life ^_^; I mean, it was to the point that even her brothers didn't seem to spend time with her. Yes, they loved her, but it seemed they put up with her instead of enjoying her company ^_^;

One thing I also didn't understand was as a grown woman, why didn't Eve take her life into her hands and turn it around so she'd be happy? I mean, she's still young, she has an education and she's in a comfortable situation. She didn't have any baggage that prevented her from doing whatever she wanted. So why drive yourself into such extreme unhappiness? I also think her family somewhat let Eve down. Shouldn't someone have stepped up and make her realize how unhappy she was? Tell her and encourage her to do something different in life?

Finally, the story of Jacked Up was okay. I mean, it's two persons who are attracted to each other, enjoy the sex together and impulsively decide to get married. The fact that Eve was waiting  for things not to work out, that was sad, but not unexpected given her personality. What I found a bit unfortunate about Jacked Up is  apart from Eve finally taking her life in hand and striving to be happy, not much happened and there was not that much depth. In one part of the story, Nolan's mother mention how he's always been attracted with needy/broken women. I would have liked Ms McCarthy to expand on this part and show the readers and the mother that Eve was different. I would also have liked to see Eve and Nolan work on their marriage more, on how different the two were and how they would reconcile their lives together. Do I really think Eve and Nolan are going to make it? I'm not sure, I would lean towards no ^_^;

It does seem as if I did not enjoy this book. Granted, I did have a lot of issues, but at the end of the day, Jacked Up was very readable. If you've enjoyed the last few books in the series, I don't see why you wouldn't like Jacked Up. And one thing that I did enjoy in this book? The family interactions. I did enjoy the scenes between siblings, both on Eve and Nolan side. By the way, is this the last book in the series? Because it seemed like Ms McCarthy was baiting for Rhett's - Nolan's younger brother - book...

My Grade? C.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Crazy People by Jennifer Crusie

Ugh, why is it that things never go according to plans? Isn't that just annoying? So I was hoping to have this post up way earlier today... obviously, it didn't happen ^_^; I have to admit though it was poor planning on my part, but still. Anyway, I'm going to go with the "It's never too late" motto :P

Before we get to today's review though, I want to remind everyone that the giveaway is open until noon tomorrow! You can get more details here :)

Crazy People by Jennifer Crusie
self-published in May 2012
For fans of Jenny Crusie, of witty and warm writing, and of contemporary fiction, this collection of short stories was the genesis for one of Crusie’s most beloved novels, Crazy for You. The stories focus on three women, Quinn, Darla, and Stephanie, and their mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Originally written for Crusie’s MFA in Fiction, they’ve been updated, edited, and packaged as a special collection for any reader who loves to laugh out loud.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: connected to Crazy for You

The Story: Crazy People is a compilation of short stories - not kidding, short stories - that Ms Crusie has written in the Creative Art Program while making her way through her PhD in feminist literature and which are connected to one of my favorite book of hers, Crazy for You.

In total, there are six stories as followed:

The Day My Sister Shot the Mailman and Got Away With It, Of Course - Ms Crusie wrote this short story as a writing exercise. Basically, she had to write a story consisting of 26 sentences, each sentence starting by the corresponding alphabetical letter, i.e. 1st sentence starts with A, 2nd with B, ...., 26th with Z. This was the start of Crazy for You because that's how Quinn and her sister Zoë got their names :P Clever of Ms Crusie to fill the two hardest letters with names right? LOL. For this publication, Ms Crusie has re-visit the story and expanded it :)

Sleep Cure - This story is about Quinn's mother when she was a young teen and how she got her stepfather to stop putting her down.

Meeting Harold's Father - This is the first meeting between  Zoë and her husband, Ben. Very cute story and my favorite of the compilation.

Necessary Skills - It's been a couple of years since I've re-read Crazy for You, so when I read Necessary Skills, I could not remember the protagonist, Barbara. However, a quick skim through Crazy for You and it came back to me LOL. Barbara is also known as the Bank Slut. She works at the bank and seems to have something for married men, "stealing" other women's husbands. Turns out, all she's looking for in a man who can take care of her and in her mind, it means being able to work with their hands. She can help it that they are all married men and are having marital problems!

Just Wanted You to Know - This short story is actually one long letter from Debbie, Darla's sister, to her husband who had just left her for Barbara. It starts out with how she'll be there when he comes back, but as she adds the post-scriptums, you can see Debbie is starting to get back on her feet and finding herself again :)

I Am At My Sister's Wedding - This one is interesting because we've never actually been introduced to the characters as they were cut from the final version of Crazy for You. Basically, Quinn was supposed to have two best friends: Darla and Stephanie, but in the end, Stephanie got the ax. I Am At My Sister's Wedding is actually told from Caroline, Stephanie's younger sister, as she attends Stephanie's five weddings. Yes, five :P

In addition to these short stories, Ms Crusie has added some thoughts and how these stories came to be which I thought was all very interesting :) Crazy People also includes the first chapter of Dog Days, what would later become Crazy for You.

My Opinion: Overall, I quite enjoyed Crazy People :) Yes, the stories were short, but they were entertaining and funny - hey, it's Jennifer Crusie after all LOL - and I loved the "behind-the-scenes." It was really interesting to know how these stories connected to Crazy for You and how they helped Ms Crusie writing the book :)

My favorite story was definitively Meeting Harold's Father, just because it was fun and random and yes, for the touch of romance :) Guess you can't take out the romance reader in me :) Another one that I really enjoyed was Just Wanted You to Know, I could just see Debbie getting back on her feet and becoming more and more confident after each passing day, realizing she didn't need her husband! The only short story I wasn't very invested in was Sleep Cure, part of it has to do with the story itself and another part is I was never really a big fan of Quinn's mother and seeing her as a teen? Just not interested.

Overall, Crazy People was fun and I'm really glad I got it :) I definitively recommend it to fans of Ms Crusie and readers who read and loved Crazy for You. Yes, I know, that was the targeted audience anyway LOL, but I'm telling people who falls into that category and had doubts, well doubt no more and get it! :)

My Grade: B.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monthly Reads: May 2012

Okay, can someone tell me how is it possible that it's already the end of June?!? June!! I seem to have lost track of time, once again, but in my defense, time just flies, seriously. Ames has already come for her visit and my sister is coming back home next Monday. Wowzer. The good news is that this year, the summer is not over till the Olympics Games! Yay!

Nowadays, end of the month means Monthly Reads post :) So here we go, let's take a look at what I read in May...

1) True Vision by Joyce Lamb: C-

2) Sweet Spot by Kate Angell: C+

3) Deadly Descendant by Jenna Black: C+

4) Revived by Cat Patrick: C

5) The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan: C

You know how with certain authors, you love everything they have written and with others, you only enjoy certain books, genres or series? Well unfortunately, Mr. Riordan falls into the second category for me. I love Mr. Riordan's Percy Jackson series, but The Kane Chronicles has been a miss. Actually, I was going to skip on The Serpent's Shadow until I found out it was the last book of the trilogy. Since it was the conclusion, I figured why not? Too bad it didn't really change my opinion of the series.

Basically, The Serpent's Shadow follows Mr. Riordan's recipe for the trilogy. If you have enjoyed the previous two books, The Red Pyramid and Throne of Fire, chances are you are going to enjoy this one too and find it is a satisfying end to the series. If you had issues - like me - well, you most probably will find the same in here. So what were my issues? First, I dislike how short the time frame of the book is. Carter and Sadie always have a couple of days only to save the world and it just feels too rushed. I also dislike how for most of the book, Carter and Sadie are apart, leading their own quest. It just increases the rush feeling and as a result, too much is happening. I also find the storylines to be too predictable - both when it comes to action and the "romance."  Finally, I feel it lacks a bit of setting up. That is surprising because Mr. Riordan did such a great job in the Percy Jackson series... but in the Kane Chronicles? The world building just seems shaky to me and it doesn't go down as smoothly as the Percy Jackson series. In any case, there is never enough time for Mr. Riordan to develop the setting since Carter and Sadie are always on the run.

However, I think the biggest flaw of this trilogy though is how similar the concept is to the Percy Jackson series: substitute Greek/Roman mythology for Egyption mythology and voila. Unfortunately, in comparison, I feel that Sadie and Carter don't stand out. I really feel like Mr. Riordan tried to replicate his success, the whole thing feels forced. It probably would have worked better if Mr. Riordan had retire Percy ^_^; In this case, you have two series by the same author which are essentially the same.

Still, there are some positive aspects to the book. Mr. Riordan's writing style is as enjoyable here as it is in the Percy Jackson series. As always, Mr. Riordan has done a great job at researching the mythology and bending it to his purposes :) I also like the alternating POVs we get from Carter and Sadie... And I have to admit, the possibility of a cross-over between the two series is very intriguing and promising :)

6) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: A-

7) All's Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand: B

8) The Proposal by Mary Balogh: C
Upcoming buddy review at Breezing Through.

9) Family Ties by Louise Behiel: C

I picked this book up because the cover caught my attention and also because I love romance in which the hero connects with young children. In that aspect, for me, Family Ties delivered :) One of the reviews I read mentioned that Family Ties was a quick read with nice characters and I agree with that statement. I liked the H/H, Grayson and Andie. They were very likable and patient with the children. I think Ms Behiel did a great job with portraying the children and there were some very cute scenes involving them LOL. I really would have been satisfied if Ms Behiel had really developed Grayson and Andie's relationships and the dynamics with the children. As it is, mid-way through the book, Family Ties takes an unexpected direction, exploring Grayson's past. It was actually hinted - quite heavily - throughout the first part of the book and that storyline was actually quite interesting. However, at the end of the book, it was all very anti-climatic. This could have been really emotional and I feel Ms Behiel failed to convey those emotions - part of it due to the delivery and the other, the story itself. Once Grayson realizes the truth, everything falls into place too quickly and Grayson comes to terms with it too easily.

I also think that the romance was a bit too quick for me and I wished one of the storyline involving Andie's oldest foster daughter had been more developed. As it is, I think it was a bit too obvious and knowing Andie was a child psychologist, I think she let it go too easily. Oh and the old neighbor's petition was really ridiculous!

Another issue I had and this one, very minor, is that Family Ties takes place in Canada. Then why are the distances in miles and the temperature, in Fahrenheit degrees? Was it to cater to the American and UK readership? Because as a Canadian, I think in kilometers and Celcius degrees. While I can approximately convert miles into km and vice versa, I have no idea about Fahrenheit and Celcius degrees. As I said, it's not major, but it'something that kind of bothered me.

If I'm not wrong, Family Ties was Ms Behiel's debut novel and overall, it was a nice and very readable book. However, when it comes to storyline and development, I think it can be improved and finessed.

10) The Rake by Mary Jo Putney: B+

11) Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry: A-

12) Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis: B

13) If the Slipper Fits by Olivia Drake: C-

14) The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts: B
Upcoming Review.

15) The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand: B
Upcoming Review.

16) Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh: B-
Upcoming buddy review at Breezing Through.


Books bought: + 11
Books read: -16
TBR pile: -5

Contemporary Romance – 7
Romantic Suspense – 1
Historical Romance – 3
Urban Fantasy – 1
Paranormal Romance – 1
YA – 3


Overall, I'm pretty happy with the month of May. I remember I was panicking at one point because the reading was going so slow. In the end, 16 books, I'll take it :) Grade-wise, I have a lot more Cs this year than in previous. I think this stems from me trying to be more objective. I used to feel really bad about giving my favorite authors grades below B, but really, it didn't reflect reality. Now it does :) In any case, there were definitively some books that stood out this month like the Sarah Mayberry and Morgan Matson :)

It does seem though I have some reviews to catch up on. Hopefully, I'll get to it very soon. In the meantime, I'm pretty happy with the month :) I think that as long as I hit the double-digits, I'm good. Although I'm about 10-11 books behind my goal this year ^_^; Oups.

What about you? How was your month of May?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6th Blogiversary!

Yes, you've read the title right. It's my 6th Blogiversary!! Wooohooo! Well actually, I'm a few days late ^_^; I always thought it was the 26th, but turns out it's really the 20th. I'll try to remember it for next year LOL. In any case, it only means I've had this blog for more than 6 years :) Definitively something worth to celebrate! It's funny because I just re-read my first post ever and in it, I mention I didn't know how long I'd be blogging. Now, I can't imagine my life without it and I know that as long as I'll be reading, I'll be blogging :)

Seriously, these past 6 years have been amazing! It has brought so much to me. When I started, I never imagined meeting authors, going to books conventions or even receiving ARCs. The experiences and the books are great, but more important is the friends I've made!! People who share my passion, whom I can discuss with. Really, I could not imagine my life without my blogger friends! You've made my life so much richer! And for that, I am so very grateful :)

So to celebrate my 6th Blogiversary, I've decided to host a giveaway! Yay! There is three parts to the giveaway :) First, there are three autographed books that I've got at last year's RWA.

 Second is your choice of book among four new releases in July that I am soooo looking forward to :) It can be either print or ebook.

 And finally, an e-book gift certificate of 15$ at your choice of e-store :)

The rules to the giveaway are simple :) The giveaway is open to everyone from everywhere. Just leave a comment before noon (Eastern time) this Saturday (June 30). In you comment, please specify which draw you'd like to be in: the autographed books, the book of your choice, the gift certificate or all of them :) Also, make sure that I have your email address so I can contact you. And voila!

Good luck everyone!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hauling Sunday LXXXIII

Good morning everyone!

Awwww, I drove Ames to the airport this morning! ... and I miss her already T_T! Her visit was short, but sweet and a lot of fun :) We did some touristy stuff, some bookish stuff, some shopping and a lot of eating! LOL.

Among the food we ate is poutine, a Quebec invention. Basically, it's french fries with gravy and curd cheese :) It's good, but LOL, that's why Canada will never have a Masterchef show ^_^; We went to a specialty poutine place, so mine had merguez sausages in too :) Ha, but guess what, guess what? Ames ate sushi!!! Yes!!

It was her first sushi and she enjoyed it! Yay! LOL, now, she'll stop ewww-ing me when I tell her I'm having sushi for supper :P Of course, we did have a back-up plan in case she didn't enjoy: pepperoni and cheese pizza LOL.

I always have a blast getting together with bloggers, especially Ames, and this was no exception! This visit was long due and I hope you had fun as much fun as I did, Ames! We definitively will be doing this again together soon!

Other memories I'll have of Ames' visit are the books I got with her! See, this is another reason to buy books: souvenirs and memories! :) Yes, I am that sentimental LOL. So, want to know what I got?


What's a Ghould to Do and Demons Are a Ghoul's Best Friend by Victoria Laurie - I've been wanting to read more cosy mystery series :) I've actually eyed these books years ago, but I wasn't sure. I haven't heard a lot about them throughout the years, but the covers just caught my eyes while I was at the UBS and I wanted to get them a go :P

Duchess in Love by Eloisa James - She's a hit and miss for me, but I remember Ames enjoying it :)

 My Lady Rival by Ashley March - Ames was actually the one spotting this one. She got a Netgalley copy, so didn't want it. I remember seeing this cover and thinking it was so pretty :) Then, Tracy had favorable words for it, so yeah :P



Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe - This is an author that Wendy has spotlight and therefore, it's one that I've wanted to read. She writes category romance and I'm really picky about those. I have selected few authors that I read... so I had some hesitation. However, this is her first full-length contemporary romance and I was more than happy to pick it up :) Even if the theme is not one that I love...



Perfectly Matched by Heather Webber - ! A new Lucy Valentine novel! Yay! I really love this series and I'm so glad that Ms Webber has decided to continue it :) I know that Ms Webber has experience with self-publishing and the cover is proof enough - how she matched it with the previous covers :) I'm really looking forward to reading it.


And there you have it. That was my last couple of days :) Hope yours was as good as mine! LOL, now, I'm going back to bed for a nap :P

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week-End's Minis XIX: Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson

Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher) in May 2012
She’s 33, unmarried, and stuffed into a Bubble Yum pink bridesmaid dress. And the whole town wants to fix her up with anyone with a dental plan… Who’s going to rescue Sadie Hollowell now? Everyone in Lovett, Texas knows Sadie has always been a ‘notional’ kind of gal. She got a notion to leave town asap , and never visit her daddy (bless his heart). Now, she’s back and got the notion to invite a good-looking, hard-muscled, total stranger to her cousin’s wedding. Better a stranger than some of the losers she’s dated. Vince Haven got his muscles the hard way—as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. He’s staying in Lovett to visit his crazy aunt—the proprietor of the local Gas N Go. Before he can get the heck back out of the small town, his aunt makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Maybe he’ll stick around Lovett for a while. Maybe he’ll make a ‘go’ of the Gas N Go. Maybe he’ll rescue Sadie out of that pink dress!
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Lovett, Texas series, Book #3/also connected to Any Man of Mine

What do you need to know? Sadie was a late in life baby and even at a young age, never seemed to meet her parents' expectations: she wasn't a boy, but she wasn't a girly, princessy girl to win beauty pageant either. Then, her mother died and Sadie spent the rest of her childhood and adolescence trying to please her father and gain his approval and love... So when Sadie left for college, she decided to live her life and only came back from time to time for short visits.

This time around, she's back in Lovett for her younger cousin's wedding... as a bridesmaid. Sadie is dreading the occasion because she's 33 and unmarried and that's bound to arise questions. So when she gives a ride in town to Vince Haven, ex Navy SEAL, whose truck stalled close to Sadie's family ranch, she asks him on impulse to be her date for the wedding.

Vince is in Lovett to meet his aunt who has a business proposition for him. He's not a man for entanglement and prefers his women to be ones looking for sex only and no commitments. At first, he turns down Sadie... but in the end, shows up at the wedding because he hates owning people... and when Sadie tells him she's looking for sex to release stress, she's found her man.

Why this book? You know when buying books from an author becomes a habit? Well that's what is is with Ms Gibson for me... and this time around, I was determined to break the habit, but there was a promotion "Buy 3, get the 4th free" and I was missing a book... and it did get positive reviews...

My thoughts? Do you ever wonder why you keep buying books from an author whose books have not wowed you? Well that's the situation I am in with Ms Gibson. I'm looking at my bookshelves and the spot with Ms Gibson books... She's a very popular author and well-loved for her contemporary romance and I remember actively looking for her backlist and new releases... but I'm taking a look at my reviews and really, her books have not impressed. I guess the reasons I keep buying her books is that she's very consistent and you know what you get when you buy her books. And Rescue Me is no exception.

Overall, I thought Rescue Me was very readable and I did enjoy it more than her last couple of releases. Sadie and Vince were likable characters and had a lot of potential but that's pretty much what this book has going for itself ^_^; The biggest issue with Rescue Me is that it lacked development, from the characters to the relationship. This is unfortunate because I thought Sadie and Vince were given interesting background stories and there were conflicts to be worked out. Instead, everything was so abrupt - Sadie's father's death and Vince suffering from PTSD. Vince having PTSD is not a surprise, but it was completely brushed aside... and him just admitting it at the end was not a way to resolve it.

Basically, I found that Rescue Me was just the usual Rachel Gibson book. You had two characters that were attracted to each other, knew they didn't want a relationship and had sex with each other only to find out there was more. Ms Gibson tried to pretty it up, giving Sadie and Vince good background stories, but never dwell deeper than the surface. Ditto for the relationship. As a result, it feels like a lot of what happens in Rescue Me is just filler. The good news is that through those filler events, Sadie and Vince did get to know each other and became more than friends... but love? I'm not sure I buy it because I never saw real chemistry between our H/H. Still, the overall feel of Rescue Me was better and I'm glad that Ms Gibson moved away from her hockey series.

My Grade? C++. As I said, I enjoyed Rescue Me more than Ms Gibson's last  couple of releases, but at the end of the day, it didn't stand out that much ^_^;

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

LOL, I told you in yesterday's post that I was going to put Ames to work :) Well head over to Breezing Through to take a look at the result! :P Ames grumbled a bit in this post, but in my defense, I'd like to point out that this review was already half-done when she came over! So it was just a matter of finishing it up! You can click here for our review of Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson :P Enjoy!!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
published by Simon & Schuster in May 2012
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Series: None

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guess who!!

Hi everyone!!

Some of you might remember that I was taking today and tomorrow off because I have a very special guest coming over :) Well, guess who?!? :P

I'll give you a clue...

LOL, I made it easy, right? :P Well yes, you guess right! It's Ames!

Yep, she finally made it to Montreal for a visit :) I picked her up this morning and our first stop was at the UBS LOL. Well food and then, UBS :) However, we were very reasonable :P I'll show you just how much in the next Hauling Sunday post :)

Right now, Ames is getting some rest from the traveling... and then, I'll put her to work for some posts over at BT LOL. So don't be surprised if we're both scarce online in the next few days!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman

I don't get this, it happens every single month! I swear I get my TBR read done a few days before the challenge, but I always find myself scrambling on the day the review is due! And here I am again... and worse, I actually started my review over the week-end this time! Although I did leave the most important part for last - my opinion ^_^; And of course, today had to be crazy busy. Ugh!! Next time, I should start with that part of the review first LOL. Okay, all complaining aside, the most important is that I did it!! Six months in a row, baby! Yay!

So this month, the theme for the TBR challenge was Western. If you've visited my blog long enough, you'll know I'm not a fan of western romance. However, I do buy a few, mostly because everyone enjoys them so much LOL. That means if I decided to stick with the theme, the choice was going to be easy :) And this month, I went with the easy way... Actually, there was actually only one book that came to mind and it was  Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman which has been sitting in my TBR pile for a couple of years already. Also, I've already read Marry Me, the sequel. So I thought it was time to pick up Never Love a Lawman... and keep reading to find out what I thought of it!

PS - Poll for the Week-End's Minis feature closes tomorrow! Cast your vote if you haven't done so yet!

Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman
published by Kensington in September 2009
Rachel Bailey may seem like just a beautiful newcomer to most of Reidsville, Colorado, but Sheriff Wyatt Cooper knows she's much more. Through a twist of fate, Rachel is the inheritor of a very valuable commodity: control of the railway that keeps the isolated mining town connected to the world. That is, she will be, if she agrees to the surprising stipulation in her benefactor's will-that she marry Wyatt.

Rachel has no choice: refusing the marriage could put all of Reidsville in the hands of an outsider, and not just any outsider but the cruel tyrant she has come here to escape. Yet living with Wyatt will be her greatest challenge. For he has a tempting way about him that makes Rachel forget theirs is a marriage in name only- until her frightening past shows up to remind them exactly how much they have at stake...
Genre: Historical romance, Western
Series: Reidsville series, Book #1

The Story: Rachel's family has worked for Clinton Maddox, a man who has made his fortune in railroads, in one function or another for two generations. She herself has served as a companion and also nurse once Mr. Maddox was afflicted by a stroke. Unfortunately, she had to run away because of Mr. Maddox' grandson unwanted advances and found refuge in Reidsville, Colorado. What Rachel doesn't realize until Mr. Maddox' death is that she's been manipulated to end up in Reidsville as upon his death, she is to inherit 50% shares of the town's mines. However, for the mines to be profitable, they need the railroad spur which Rachel is also going to inherit... but only if she marries the sheriff, Wyatt Cooper.

Rachel is not interested in marriage, but for the interest of the town, she has no choice... So she decides to go with a marriage of convenience that strikes more as a partnership. As for Wyatt, he has been asked to look after Rachel and he intends to do so... especially now that he realizes that there is a real threat coming after her.

My Opinion: For me, Ms Goodman is an author I'm a bit wary about. Simply because I feel she has the habit of blindsiding her readers ^_^; Although I guess my comment is unfair to Ms Goodman and instead, I should put the blame on the person that comes up with the back blurbs. Blurbs are important because they're supposed to give a description of the storyline and I buy a lot of books based on blurbs. So I don't appreciate  it when the blurb is all nice and rosie and wham bam, there is a very dark topic/theme that rears its head up and set up the tone for the rest of the book. It's not that I don't read books with dark themes or issues, it's just that I like to be in the mood for it ^_^: Anyway, I've been caught by surprise a few times with Ms Goodman's books and that's why I don't read more of her. However, with Never Love a Lawman, I did do my homework so it wasn't an issue :)

All in all, Never Love a Lawman was an interesting book. What really worked for me was the hero, Wyatt Cooper! He's the type of character that I really enjoy: observant, really good judge of character, enigmatic and very clever :P He always has an answer ready and a trick up his sleeve that will surprise you. I liked how layered his character was, how much more than meet the eye he was :) The cowboy/sheriff was his game face, the one he was the most comfortable with... but I really liked all the others :P In contrast, I thought Rachel wasn't as interesting. Actually, the word interesting is wrong, the accurate one would be likable. She appeared so prickly and at times, it works to have a prickly heroine... but not when your hero is so amiable ^_^; I just didn't get why she was so distant, didn't feel it was necessary. Mentally, I do understand the need - she was in hiding after all. However, she's going business and was really settling down. In fact, I don't think Forster would have gone after her if it wasn't for her inheritance. Was she going to live the rest of her life that way? Really, Rachel had great qualities: strong, resilient and competent... but she wasn't friendly and I couldn't relate to her and that lowered the "like" factor. And I don't think the romance helped ^_^;

It's not that the romance wasn't good. I'm always for a marriage of convenience and the circumstances that led to this one were interesting :) Also, I liked how the relationship developed, that Rachel and Wyatt had time to  get to  know and trust each other. My issue is I felt the couple lacked passion :( I didn't feel a connection between the two... even after they became lovers. They had sex, but was it more? When did Rachel fall in love with Wyatt? And why?

Finally, the storyline was quite interesting - battles for inheritance usually are... but once again, I had a few issues. First, I thought the business with the mines was a bit confusing. The how and why they kept its success a secret... However, the biggest issue was the pacing. It seemed really slow at times and it's not that nothing happened, but that's the feeling you get. From the beginning of Never Love a Lawman, you know that Rachel is running and hiding from someone. And slowly, we find out why... The thing is, it doesn't take long for Ms Goodman to establish that she will be found. So throughout the book, you're waiting for that big showdown. But there's a lot happening prior to it and these events all seem disjointed ^_^; They are there to develop the characters, for them to get to know each other and it's simply too obvious. Most of them, had not thing to do with the storyline... So that's why it feels like nothing happening :(

One last niggle: the villain. I actually  liked the confrontation Rachel and Wyatt had with the villain... the thing is, I don't like how it ended. For once, I really wished  the villain had been brought down by justice. The way it ended was a bit anti-climatic. As a whole, I would have liked for the confrontation to be longer, to be a bigger part of the story.

As I said, Never Love a Lawman was an interesting book and it kept my attention. I really liked the hero and surprisingly, the setting :) It was so very western, what with the bank, the saloon and the railroad LOL. The town of Reidsville was fun to read about. Unfortunately, these two elements couldn't completely offset the issues... and as I wrote this review, more just kept coming to mind ^_^; And that's why I'm downgrading Never Love a Lawman a notch from my initial grade.

My Grade: C+.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane

Hi everyone! How was your week-end? I hope it was as good as mine :P The weather was gorgeous and I finally had a productive week-end!! Yay! Let see, I did some cleaning, I finished my TBR read for Wednesday, Breezing Through got a new look and I updated my book spreadsheets :) Not bad, right? What about yours?

As you can see, there was no Hauling Sunday yesterday... Considering the amount of books I've bought recently, it's no surprise really LOL. The good news though is that it gave me time to work on this review :P A good trade-off I think :)

Oh, before I forget! New poll for this week-end's mini-review is on the sidebar! Don't forget to vote!

Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane
published by Berkley in June 2012
The life of Lark Jaansen, hunter in Clan Gennessee, has been shaped by violence and unrest—and it defines her future. Well-trained and resilient, she’s met her militaristic match in Simon Leviathan, a warrior not of this world. Locked in mutual admiration, and a desire so hot it burns, Lark and Simon have something else in common: they love the dark, and as a shadow is cast over their world, they’re each coming into their own.

A mysterious war has been waged among the Others. As witches and humans turn against each other, as faes retreat in fear, and as vampires rise, Lark and Simon discover that an unseen force is behind it. A single, hungry entity older than recorded history has returned to gorge on the magick of his victims. It is the Magister, nothing less than the end of time. Finding it is Lark and Simon’s first hope. Surviving it is their last.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Bound by Magick series, Book #2

The Story: War is brewing between the witches and mages - humans who steal witches's magic, and after an attack on their leader, Clan Owen from Seattle has realized how unprepared they are. To bring their hunters, i.e. enforcers, up-to-date, they invite Lark Jaansen, one of Clan Gennessee's hunters' team leaders. Based in Los Angeles where the lifestyle is more frenetic and relations between Others, less amiable, Clan Gennessee has more experience dealing with threats... and Lark has had no qualms utilizing modern weaponry such as guns and security cameras instead of only relying on their magic.

This change of scenery is a welcome distraction for Lark who for the first time in her life, finds herself at odds with her sister, the other hunter's team leader in LA. Their strained relationship is putting the unity of their team at risk and as such, distance is necessary. In Seattle, Lark has found a new place to belong and is making new friends. Among them is Simon Leviathan, most probably the sexiest male specimen Lark has ever seen and a Lycian, kind of a werewolf/shapeshifer from the other side of the Veil. As a third son from a powerful pack and having set out to make his own ways, Simon knows what Lark is going through and admires her.

To their surprise, their friendship turns into something more... even though they are not each other's type and therefore have a lot of doubts as whether or not this relationship will work. However, they don't have much time to figure things out as the threat looming over them is much greater than they anticipated...

My Opinion: Yay, I finally read my first Lauren Dane book! This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, as I've been hearing so much good about Ms Dane's writing and her books, and I have the books in the TBR pile to prove it! LOL. But for some reasons, I just never picked them up to read ^_^; I think deep down, it's my subconscious telling me something. I bought those books because everyone enjoyed her books and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but really, they didn't appeal to me ^_^; Heart of Darkness and Chaos Burning are different though because they are about witches and you know how I like witches as characters :) I've yet to read Heart of Darkness, but after Chaos Burning, I definitively will!

I really, really enjoyed Chaos Burning and it's in large part due to Lark, the heroine. She made the book for me :) I loved her quirkiness and joie de vivre, it made her fun to read. And in my opinion, what sets her apart and makes her so interesting is instead of being flaky and ditzy, she was competent and decisive. It was a very lethal and sexy combination and it's really no surprise that Simon fell in love with her :) Outwardly, she might not have been Simon's type - and by the way, I enjoyed reading the descriptions of her outfits LOL, but personality-wise, she fits him perfectly. As for Simon, he was a good hero... I do feel his character wasn't as developed as Lark though, but still, you get a good sense of his person. He's such a good guy and very considerate and caring. I have to say though that I preferred him prior to when he realized he was in love with Lark, that's when his alpha instincts all came out and he became ultra-protective. It's good that Lark didn't take his shit and set him straight, that she could handle him. Still, I felt that from then on, the relationship became a bit uneven. I was more equal, honest and interesting when they were friends and hung out, playing cards and smoking cigars LOL. Still, I did quite enjoy the romance :) I really liked that it wasn't love at first sight or a rushed relationship. Instead, Lark and Simon spent time together, got to know each other and actually became friends, before realizing this was leading to more. It sounds so simple, but it felt refreshing ^_^; I wished Lark and Simon had taken more time once they acknowledged their attraction to each other to transition between friends to lovers. I felt Simon's change in behavior was quite abrupt and too domineering. Obviously, Lark was attracted to Simon, but I don't think she really considered a relationship between the two and then, Simon started pushing her into one and she had no choice. I'd have liked for Lark to have more time to come to term with it. Still at the end of the day, this couple just works because their personalities matched so well :)

As you know, I'm a fan of witch, mage, wizard and sorcerer characters and while they are a few series with them at the center, very often, I find the world building a bit lacking and their abilities, undefined. That's actually why I still haven't read Heart of Darkness yet ^_^; But I'm glad to say it's not the case with Ms Dane's series. I found the world building to be quite interesting and I liked that the witches clans were so structured. I think the key here was to not focus too much on the other supernatural beings as to limit the information dump. I admit there was a few instances where I felt a bit lost, but that was more me starting the series on the second book than the world building. While I think the world building was solid, I still would have liked for the witches powers to be more defined, a short explanation of everything they could do would have been great.

So I loved the characters, enjoyed the romance and liked the world building. That means Chaos Burning should have rated very high... and it did, but not as high as it could. Basically, I felt with so many good elements, the storyline was a bit of a let-down ^_^; On one hand, I liked that the timeline spanned weeks instead of just days, that Lark had time to settle in, meet people and create contacts instead of being thrown in. I liked seeing the witches work with the Others... but on the other hand, I felt the storyline was to passive. I would have enjoyed seeing Lark investigated a bit more, for them to really find clues and the lead up to their discovery. In this case, I felt it was too easy and they were handed the answer. I mean, the villain's thugs were so stupid that Lark really had no problem catching them and then, she just ripped their minds for the answers. So not the best, but it was acceptable. What wasn't was the whole storyline with the Magister, which is supposedly a huge storm that cleanse and by cleanse, read kill all Others and humans. This is a huge threat that concerns everyone, but the way it was written... Readers should have been at the edge of their seat and I wasn't, my feelings weren't invested in it. One of the problem is from the discovery to the dealing of the Magister, it was too quick and unrealistic. One second, you have no idea what the Magister is in essence and the next, you're vanquishing it. In my opinion,Ms Dane should have taken a few books to really developed this threat, make it something big and dreadful instead of squeezing it in the second half of Chaos Burning... and unfortunately, that's why this book lost steam for me.

My Grade: B. Chaos Burning started out really well, it's just too bad it didn't finish as strongly. It remains a very enjoyable read though and I'm definitively going back to read Heart of Darkness now :) And good news, Ms Dane has the third book planned for next February! Yay!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Week-End's Minis XVIII: Larkspur Road by Jill Gregory

Larkspur Road by Jill Gregory
published by Berkley in May 2012
Fifth grade teacher Mia Quinn expected a tranquil summer in her hometown of Lonesome Way, Montana, sewing for her quilting group’s exhibition fundraiser and caring for her rescued dog, Samson. But all her plans for a relaxing break are thrown out the window when Travis Tanner—the boy who broke her heart in high school—returns to town with his ten year old adopted step-son.

A former FBI agent, the boy Mia once knew is now well over six feet of male muscle—and he still has the power to make Mia lose her train of thought with just a glance. When Travis asks her to tutor his troubled son, Mia quickly discovers that the sparks between them are hotter than ever. As danger comes to Lonesome Way and family secrets come to light, will Travis and Mia realize that love can be even better the second time around?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Lonesome Way series, Book #2

What do you need to know? Back in high school, Travis Tanner and Mia Quinn were the golden couple, the one that everyone thought would make it for sure... Until after prom night when Travis dumped Mia without explanations and walked away to college. He did later regret his decision, but it seemed too late... and even now, he's paying the price for it. At his brother's wedding with Mia's best friend, Mia wouldn't even acknowledge him.

A year later, Travis finds himself at crossroads, reconsidering his career with the FBI. After the death of his partner, Travis feels he's burned-out. On an extensive leave, he wants to come home to the ranch in Lonesome Way, Montana, and is considering making some permanent changes. The notion is further reinforced when he barely recognizes the sullen 10 years old boy that his adopted stepson has become from the joyous, happy kid he's raised. When his ex-wife calls him because she's at wits' ends with Grady who's been acting out, mouthing off at her new husband and has failed fifth grade, Travis immediately jumps at the opportunity to reconnect with him.

Mia was looking forward to a quiet summer where she could work on her quilt and get it ready for the quilting group exhibition's fund-raiser. That was before finding out Travis was back in town and she got roped in to tutor his son, before her 16 years old niece showed up inexplicably to her house - wanting to spend the whole summer with her, and before her estranged and loner aunt fell off the stairs and hurt herself. She's trying to make sense of everything - uncovering old and new secrets, but all she knows for sure is that Travis still has the power to make her heart beats very fast...

Why this book? I was browsing the aisles at the bookstore and the cover just caught my eyes. It looks so peaceful :) I had never read Ms Gregory before, but I was aware of this series because I've stumbled across the blurbs when looking for new releases. Since there was a 25% off, I went ahead and bought the book :)

My thoughts? Hmmmm, frankly, Larkspur Road was not a bad book, but it wasn't a wowzer either. It's actually a hard book to grade for me because it had some really good elements, but unfortunately, it suffered from one major flaw.

The good elements include likable characters and a very set-up, both relationship-wise and setting-wise. I actually thought the first couple of chapters were the best since readers were being introduced to Mia, Travis and Grady and all the connections. As I said, Mia and Travis were likable characters. I think one point in their favor is that they felt real and were very balanced. They didn't really have major conflicts with their lives. Yes, Mia was conscious of her biological clock ticking and the fact that she was a bit lonely, but it wasn't an obsession for her. As for Travis, he wanted to make some changes in his career and he did take the steps to. They were regular people that readers could relate to, could understand :) I also really enjoyed Travis' relationship with Grady, he was definitively a good father. He listened, encouraged and talked with Grady, making sure Grady knew he was there for him. He also stepped up when he was in disagreement with his ex-wife's decisions. He really considered Grady as his son, despite not being married to Grady's mother anymore and really stepped up and put his foot down when he was in disagreement with her decisions. I think that spoke highly of Travis' character and what a good man he was.

As I mentioned, I also very much liked the setting of the book. Yes, Lonesome Way could be considered as small-town, but it wasn't the focus here. I don't feel like Larkspur Road was marketed as a small-town contemporary romance which was a good thing in my opinion :)

The problem I had with Larkspur Road is I feel that not much happened... which actually is not the truth. However, nothing was developed, nothing was fleshed out, so that's why I feel that way. In a sense, it's almost like Ms Gregory spent too much time setting everything up at the right place and the right moment, but she ran out of time to develop them. So they happened, but none of it was fleshed out, it was all on the surface. For example, the romance between Mia and Travis. It's obvious that the two still have feeling for each other, but Mia is still holding a grudge against Travis and rightly so. And then, they run into each other a few times and voila, they are a couple again. I appreciate that Travis gave Mia an explanation about dumping her all those years ago and it really made sense and was realistic... but that was it. There was no further groveling from Travis, no working on the revelation from Mia's part - they were just back together. Same thing about Mia's estranged aunt. One or two gestures from Mia and decades of resentment and anger evaporate and the old lady is telling Mia everything. I also think the sense that nothing was happening was exacerbated by the timeline. If I read correctly, Larkspur Road spans about 3 to 4 weeks, maybe less. And I find it difficult for all these changes to happen in such a short timeline. So for me, this lack of development and events really killed the book ^_^; And it's really unfortunate, because it started out really well.

One last thing I'd like to add is I thought the whole storyline with Mia's niece was superfluous. I would have liked that storyline to not be in the book and therefore, Ms Gregory would have more time to focus on the others. It's not that it was bad, but it just didn't bring much to the book.

In the end, it's as I said earlier. Larkspur Road was not a bad book, but not a great one either.... but in the plus column, I would like to add Ms Gregory's writing :) She has a very nice style, a bit reminiscent of Jodi Thomas in the sense that it's very peaceful and I definitively will read more of her, given that her books have a bit more depth :)

My Grade? C.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Top 3 of Nora Roberts

Anyone remembers my Top 3 feature? No one? LOL. I'm not surprised since it was a couple of years ago and I only did it twice ^_^; Well, the idea was to share with everyone my Top 3 reads from an author. I thought it'd serve as a good topic of discussion, but also as recommendations :) You all know where this is going, right? LOL, yes, I'm reviving the Top 3 feature!! However, I thought it'd be more fun to have more than one opinion and therefore, I'm moving it to Breezing Through :)

Ames and I wanted to start things with a bang and therefore picked Nora Roberts for our first  Top 3! Click here to find out which books are our favorite reads by Nora Roberts :)

We are planning to make this a long-running feature and hope to have guest bloggers contributing to it! If there's an author or a series you want to do a Top 3 for or need recommendations for, feel free to let us know :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

Ugh, I'm so sorry about the lack of posts and reviews lately!! Work is again kicking my butt ^_^; I don't know if it would have been this way had my co-worker been here... I'd like to say no LOL. In any case, I have been run around like a hen without a head, trying to get things done. It didn't help that my boss asked for some stuff out of the blues that demand some calculations and preparations :( Like stuff I only do once a year or two years ^_^;

As usual, I don't have any posts ready to go up for when I'm in a pinch. I really need to work on that! The good news though is today should be more relax (yay!), so I'm taking advantage of it and here we go! Enjoy :)

The Rake by Mary Jo Putney
published by Signet (NAL) in September 1989 and re-printed by Kensington in March 2012
Disinherited and disgraced, Reginald Davenport's prospects cried for a dire end. But fate has given him one last chance at redemption—by taking his rightful place as the heir of Strickland, his lost ancestral estate. Davenport knows his way around women, yet nothing prepares him for his shocking encounter with Lady Alys Weston.

Masquerading as a man in order to obtain a position as estate manager of Strickland, Alys fled a world filled with mistrust and betrayal. She was finished with men—until Strickland's restored owner awakens a passion she thought she would never feel. A passion that will doom or save them both... if only they can overcome their pasts.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: None

The Story: Reginald Davenport is a rake of the first order. However, what people don't realize is that a lot of his behavior and defiance stem from his bad relationship with his uncle, the Earl of Wargrave, a very hard man with strict ideas of how to treat his heir. For most of his life, Reggie thought he would succeed his uncle... until the man died and a grandson who came from nowhere inherited the title and fortune. As a result, Reggie finds himself at loose ends, not knowing exactly what to do with his life, but growing tired of being a rake. At 37 years of age, carousing and getting drunk have lost a lots of its appeal, especially of late as Reggie has started blacking out after excessive drinking. And then, his new cousin offers him Strickland, an estate in Dorset, which was actually Reggie's childhood home till he became an orphan... and his by right as the estate belonged to his mother's family.

Alys Weston is not happy about this change of owner, rightful heir or not. She's been the estate manager for Strickland for four years now and has so far been able to hide her gender from her employer. It was easy with the old Earl, as he had no interest in Strickland and therefore, never came for a visit. When the new Earl came, she was able to pretend sickness in the family and avoided meeting him... But what if Reginald Davenport takes an interest to his estate? She's been an excellent estate manager and the books show it, but will results matter when he discovers she's a woman? In addition, Alys has her three charges to worry about - one of them a young woman and another, a young and impressionable young man. It can't be good for them to be around a rake such as Davenport and his reputation sure precedes him!

Neither Alys and Reginald is what each other expected... but they like what they see! And as they get to know each other, friendship turns into something more. But can a rake really change his lifestyle? And what secrets does Alys hide?

My Opinion: It's been a while since I last read a book by Ms Putney and while it was enjoyable, it didn't really wow me. As a result, I haven't really  kept up with her new releases and as such, The Rake wasn't on my radar... until I read Hilcia's commentary :) Luckily for me, The Rake being a reprint, I was able to easily find a copy and good thing too, since it was such an enjoyable read!

What I really liked about The Rake was how well-developed it was. The book is quite thick and Ms Putney really utilizes all these pages to flesh out the characters and establish a relationship between Reggie and Alys. I felt that was refreshing because in a lot of romance books lately, the romance seems rushed and the characters, superficial ^_^; However, in this case, we really got to know the characters and more importantly, they got to know each other :)

Personally, my favorite character in The Rake was Reggie. He is most assuredly a rake, but what makes him so likable is that he's honest about it and assumes the responsibilities and consequences it entails. I also liked his sense of honor... He probably doesn't see it as such, but Reggie has definite ideas on what he will do and what he won't and most of the time, it puts him in the good guys column LOL. Also if he'd been allowed to follow his dreams - to go into the army, I reckon Reggie wouldn't be such a different man :) Something else that I found interesting was Reggie's restlessness at the beginning of the story. How he was growing tired of his lifestyle... I think at 37 years old, it makes sense right? :) In most historical romances, a rake ceased being one when it comes time to settle down, get a wife and some heirs. However, Reggie no longer has such obligations and still, he's growing restless. I really liked that he had questions and doubts about his lifestyle even before he met Alys; I liked that for once, it wasn't a woman or family that made a rake change. Instead, it was the rake himself! I also liked our heroine, Alys :) Mostly because she was so unusual for her time, not only being an estate manager, but being competent as well! Although I think it would have been more fun to see here more at work. At the beginning of the book, she's a bit mad because she feels she has to prove herself again, even though she's been estate manager for four years now. The thing is, there was no concrete examples of that throughout the book. Once Reggie showed up, you don't see any tenants coming to complain about her or cause any problems. In addition, I think she pales a little in comparison to Reggie. She does have an interesting background story, but the character herself, I didn't feel like I got a good sense of who she was.

I did enjoy the romance in The Rake. I really liked that they didn't fall into bed right away. Reggie is attracted by Alys, but he doesn't want to screw things up - her being his estate manager and all. First, I liked that Reggie kept her on for her competence. She's proven herself and the books show the result and there was no doubt for him. I also liked that he was mindful of her reputation. All in all, because we got to see the attraction grow while the relationship was established and friendship bloomed, I really could believe that Reggie and Alys fell in love with each other :) Also, I believed the romance worked because of the honesty between Reggie and Alys. That was really lovely and refreshing. One thing though is I wished Alys had more trust in Reggie. I know she was in charge of 3 youngsters and therefore, cannot help but worry about Reggie's reputation... and a few times, I felt she got caught up with it. It was okay when she first met Reggie, but once she got to know him, I feel she should have trusted him a lot more...

As I mentioned, The Rake is quite a thick book and therefore a lot of things happened. Some of it was mundane, related to the estate, which was fun to see. I loved that Reggie had always wanted to wash sheep when he was younger and this time, did not miss the opportunity LOL. A lot of what happened was also more personal and was meant to really flesh out the characters. I liked that Ms Putney addressed Reggie's problems with alcohol. Obviously, back in those time, people were not aware of alcoholism which is exactly where Reggie was heading for. So that was very interesting. What worked less for me though is that his father and godfather just happened to struggle with alcoholism as well. I know it can run in a family, but I would have liked to see Reggie deal with it on his own. I think that in The Rake, Ms Putney tried her best to balance the different aspects of the story and I really enjoyed the mundane stuff and the more personal issues and conflicts. However, I think she failed a bit when it came to the intrigue that was related to Alys' identity. Some of it was just too predictable and she did a great job at the build-up, but when it happened, it was a bit anti-climatic, which was unfortunate.

My Grade: B+. Overall, The Rake was a really good read and I can see why Ms Putney won a RITA with The Rake. If she has more books like this one, I'll definitively be reading more of her in the near future :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hauling Sunday LXXXII

Hi again! So how was everyone's week-end? In my opinion, it went by way too fast!! I don't want to go to work tomorrow, especially since it feels like my week-end has just started ^_^; I guess there's not much I can do about that though.

The good news though is I had fun buying books today!! Last week was "Buy 3, get the 4th free" at the bookstore and this week-end, it was a 25% off coupon... which when you think about it, it amounts to the same. Although I prefer to have 25% off because in it requires less calculations and juggling - finding 4 books of about the same price to maximize the $$ you save :P There were a few books that I wanted... and I added a few more, mostly because I've been such a good girl this year LOL.

Ready? Here we go!

In the mail:

Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh - This one goes without saying, right? :P

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep - Third book in the Mythos Academy series already!! Woohoo. I really enjoy Ms Estep's writing and I'm so happy she's so prolific. I read the excerpt of Dark Frost and I'm really looking forward to it. It sounds really exciting and I think the story will really pick up in this one since Kiss of Frost was a transitional book.


Bought print: 

No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose - This was the book I wanted to get this week-end. I already have the UK hardcover version, but I wanted to support Ms Rose even more :) It was a really good book! Can't wait for the next installment!!

The Rake by Mary Jo Putney - Actually recently read this book (review to come), but it was not my copy. This book is a re-print and totally worth having in your collection if you're an avid historical romance reader... Hence why I bought it :)

Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle - This is the book I was debating to buy last week and decided to go with Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane instead. Well, I decided to get it this week :) It really sounds cute and I have heard a lot of good things about its hero :)

Jacked Up by Erin McCarthy - I was really planning to stay strong about this one... but I was at the bookstore and skimmed through it. I liked what I read, and with 25% off... As I said, I've been a good girl this year, so I can splurge!

Believe in Me by Laura Moore - Both Brie and Tabs really enjoy this author... It even features in Brie's list of favorite contemporary romance authors. I love contemporary and I have a feeling I've been missing out. So I wanted to rectify the situation.

Eloquent Silence by Sandra Brown - This book caught my eyes when I was looking for new releases online. I read Ms Brown's older books and have enjoyed them... Plus, I'm a fan of characters who are deaf for some reasons ^_^; Plus, this book was really cheap :)

Larkspur Road by Jill Gregory - This book was on my radar a couple of months ago, but I decided against buying back then because I have not read Ms Gregory before and well, too much small-town romances out there. The reasons have not changed, but there's just something about this book that attracts me to it... The cover is so soothing and the story sounds good. So I justified it with my "I've been a good girl" excuse LOL. I guess after this week-end, I cannot use that excuse anymore LOL.



Crazy People by Jennifer Crusie - This is a collection of short stories all related to Ms Crusie book, Crazy for You - one of my favorite :) If I'm not wrong, she wrote these for her master thesis. I knew it was in the work and I'm really happy to finally get my hands on it :) It was a fun read and the first one I've read on my iPad, making it unforgettable already LOL.

No Tan Lines by Kate Angell - As you all know by now, I enjoy Ms Angell's books and I was thrilled when I found out that she was having two releases this summer! Yay! This book sounds like the perfect beach read!

More Than a Stranger by Erin Knightley - Quite frankly, I wanted the printed copy of this book, but none of the bookstores have received it and you don't get much of a discount when you buy it online. Then, Ames pointed out that Books on Board had it for a really good price, so ebook it was :) More Than a Stranger sounds really interesting and I like New American Library imprint, it usually has refreshing historical romance :)


So this was my week-end :) That should be it till the end of the month :P What do you think? Any books you have read already?

Saturday, June 09, 2012

WEM XVII: Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis and If the Slipper Fits by Olivia Drake

Hello everyone! How are you doing?

Ouf, it's still Saturday! Was planning to get this done this morning, but didn't have time before I had to rush out and meet my friends for Snow White and the Huntsman ^_^; Ahhh, I'm so glad it's the week-end :) This week was quite long, tiring and I was so out of it ^_^; So I really hope to enjoy my week-end and so far so good! Of course, it helped that I started my week-end by rewarding myself with some cannoli and Italian cookies :) I've been craving it for weeks now and finally, I went to the Italian bakery.... so much traffic, but worth it!

As promised, this week's WEM is a double-feature! And you guys have spoken: Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis and If the Slipper Fits by Olivia Drake :) You ask, you get LOL. Enjoy!!

Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis
published by Grand Central Publishing
Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself. And as the local good girl, she's expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she'd like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong. And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he's only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he's gone...

For the first time in his life, Ty can't bear to leave. Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn't- including leaving the military for good. As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love. After all... anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Lucky Harbor series, Book #4

What do you need to know? Well with all the reviews out there, you probably know what happens in this book LOL. But here's my take.

The book opens up with a freak snowstorm in spring and Mallory Quinn, Amy Michaels and Grace Brooks find themselves stuck in the diner, bonding over chocolate cake while Amy is trying to sell Mallory the merits of walking on the wrong side of the line and dating Mr. Wrong. A tree falls in, they hit a guy and somehow, they end up in Mallory's car, tending to Mysterious Cute Guy and waiting for the ambulance... and on impulse, Mallory asks Mysterious Cute Guy out for the week-end's auction. This event is important to Mallory because a portion of the proceeds of that soirée will go towards her pet project, the Health Services Clinic. She wants to open such a clinic in memory of her sister Karen who probably wouldn't have died if she had access to such services.

Mysterious Cute Guy is Ty Garrison, a former Navy SEAL trauma medic, but was honorably discharged after a plane crash in which his team and best friends all died. In the process, he almost lost his leg and now, has re-injured it in one of his most recent assignments - private contracts to accompany and/or rescue dignitaries in war zones. So Ty has chosen Lucky Harbor as his haven to recover... and has been dubbed as the Mysterious Cute Guy on Facebook by the community.

On the auction night, one thing leads to another and Mallory and Ty end up having hot sex. Mallory has always been the "reliable" child in her family - the one that never acted out and whom her mother never had to worry about, while her siblings ran loose. After tasting a bit of wild, Mallory decides to throw caution aside and starts a temporary fling with Ty...

Why this book? I told myself I wasn't going to pick up Lucky in Love, but got swayed by all the good reviews LOL. Yes, I'm that easy. It's not that I don't enjoy Ms Shalvis books, I do... just not as much as everyone else seems to and that's why I think she and I don't click. There's something everyone else is seeing/feeling and I don't ^_^;

Any Issues? I'm going to start with the issues I had with this book, because I think it makes for a more coherent review. Basically, my issue with Lucky in Love is that it was a typical contemporary romance, like so many that are being published nowadays. Goodie-two-shoes heroine, former SEAL hero with PTSD and a romance that starts out as a fling with neither party looking for commitment or long-run... but you know they'll fall in love and you know either the H/H will walk away, realize his/her mistake and come back. If you're looking for something original and refreshing, Lucky in Love is not it ^_^; To her credit, Ms Shalvis has tried to add some depth to the story through Mallory and Ty's backgrounds/sad pasts. It works to an extent, but again, it's not very original... and I have to say, I found the weight Mallory and Ty had on their shoulder, a big draggy.

What I liked? At the end of the day though, Lucky in Love was still an enjoyable book thanks to Ms Shalvis' execution. She has two nice and likable characters as H/H, has also set up the stage for her new set of heroes and heroines well and has not looked back too much on the previous trilogy. Also, I think everyone liked the idea of the Chocoholics - CA :) And it's nice that Mallory, Amy and Grace have such good chemistry together. While the friendship is very new, there is honesty and support in there which makes for a very promising relationship. Finally, Ms Shalvis added the right touch of humor through the quirky characters in the community :) So really, it was a typical contemporary romance, but at least a solid and well-written one.

My Grade: B.

If the Slipper Fits by Olivia Drake
published by St. Martin's Press in May 2012
Will she have her happily ever after?

Is This Love Real?

Raised in a girls’ school, Annabelle Quinn longs for the world outside the walls of the academy. When she’s hired as the governess to an orphaned duke, Annabelle never expects the child’s breathtakingly handsome guardian to capture her imagination—or her heart.

Or Are They Living In a Fairytale?

Falling for his young nephew’s governess is an irksome complication in Lord Simon Westbury’s orderly life, but Annabelle’s quiet beauty and wry intellect are too much to resist. Meanwhile, a mysterious danger looms over the remote Cornwall estate. Will their newfound desire stand the test of time? Or are some happy endings just too good to come true?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Cinderella Sisterhood, Book #1

What do you need to know? Annabelle Quinn was raised in a girls' school in Yorkshire and has remained at the school, but not by choice. Without any means and family, she doesn't have many prospects... but that doesn't stop her from longing for the outside world. When the opportunity arises for an interview to become the governess to the young, orphaned Duke of Kevern, she's determined not to miss it.

When Annabelle arrives at the Cornwall estate, she quickly realizes two things: Lord Simon Westbury, guardian of the duke, did not expect her presence and is really unhappy with it... and he has neglected his charge, leaving him to the care of the staff and the very rigid and boring vicar. Well Annabelle will have none of that...

It turns out that Simon was in love with the duchess and she reciprocated his feeling, but in the end, did not choose the younger son. When his brother announced their engagement, Simon left and enrolled in the Army and has never returned to Cornwall... and therefore, has never met his nephew. Simon was about to embark on an epic voyage to the continent when he got words of his brother's death and his new responsibilities as guardian... All this years, he has not let go of his anger against his brother and sister-in-law and that has translated to a minimum of interactions with his nephew since his return... But with the noisy and pretty governess, this is about to change.

Why this book? The cover of If the Slipper Fits really caught my eyes and I thought the book sounded interesting after reading the blurb.

What I liked? Unfortunately, If the Slipper Fits did not really meet my expectations ^_^; and I have a lot of issues with it, but there was still some positive. Overall, I did like Annabelle's character. I liked that she was persistent. Given her situation at the girls' school, it would have been so easy to give up and be depressed... but she still dreamed and when she saw an opportunity to change her life, she gave her best. She was also very genuine and definitively to give the duke a better life, a better childhood. She had guts going against Simon and standing for what she believed. My favorite part of the book was definitively the bond between Annabelle and the young duke and how Annabelle roped in Simon to care more about his nephew. I simply like seeing adults and children develop a relationship together, to see the trust that is being established... Also, I find children keep adults honest and down-to-earth :) So that part was well done. And while I wasn't impressed by Simon's behavior, I thought Ms Drake did a good job with his character and establishing the motives for his neglect. In addition, this was my first time reading Ms Drake and I did like her writing. Another good thing was the lack of sequel baiting... I have to admit it's a bit weird, because I'm not even sure we were introduced to the future characters, but I'll take it :) Unfortunately, all this wasn't enough to negate my issues.

Any issues?  As I mentioned, I have a few. The most important one is that I didn't care for the romance in If the Slipper Fits. I think that Simon and Annabelle didn't have any chemistry together and I dislike how Simon takes one look at Annabelle and desires her... At the same time, he makes no efforts to get to know her or try to establish a relationship, since he is too busy looking for a wife. Ugh. Also, I just don't see why Annabelle succumbed to his charms and when was the moment lust turned into love for both of them? Oh and Simon's proposal was just way premature. In every aspect, the romance just didn't work for me :(

The other main issue was the big reveal at the end about Annabelle's identity. It came out from absolutely no-where in my opinion and was really far-fetched. Really, I thought it was totally superfluous and once again, did not care about this twist. I guess it was to tie in the Cinderella theme, but meh. It might have worked with a bit more shadowing and if it had a bigger impact on the storyline... Speaking of Cinderella, I'm not a big fan of fairy tales retellings and Cinderella sure is not a favorite... but when the series is named Cinderella Sisterhood, you have some expectations... and really, the link between If the Slipper Fits and Cinderella is very tenuous. I guess depending on the reader, this can be a good or bad thing.

My Grade: C-. At this point, I'm not sure I'll be picking up the next book...