Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My new job

Hi everyone :) How are you doing?

As you know, back in January, I started a "new" job.  I'm using quotation marks because having only switched lab, this means it's the same environment: same co-workers, same department, even same desk! LOL. The only things that have really changed are 1) my boss - much more easy going than my previous one (yay!!), 2) which account my paychecks come from and 3) the project/experiments.

So, many of you have asked about how it was going with my new job and I thought it'd be fun to share what I'm doing with all of you :) In this new lab, I'm more of a technician than a research assistant. Since the lab has been established for a long time and employs quite a few people, there's already a system for the ordering and the maintenance of the lab. I help out a little, but there's not much for me to do in that aspect. Actually, I haven't really been hired to join the lab. Instead, I'm more affiliated with the biobank. My new boss is the director of a biobank that collect blood, urine and prostate samples from men who have prostate cancer and have undergone a prostatectomy (removal of the prostate). And my job is to cut slices of the frozen prostates. Yes, it is as exciting as it sounds - not very LOL.

First, let me introduce you to my new best friend and the reason I haven't been blogging and blog-hopping as much as I've wanted: the cryostat. This is the machine that I use to cut the tissue and the most important feature about it is that the illuminated chamber that you see is at -20C (-4F). Yes, it means that I regularly freeze my hands ^_^; I blame the cryostat for my lack of blogging because I used to get incubation times with my old project, but not anymore. Plus, the cryostat is not next to a computer, so I cannot multi-task :P

So once the prostate is removed from the patient, it is cut in multiple sections. Each section is frozen in  OCT, a compound that is very similar to transparent liquid glue at room temperature, but hardens into a white solid substance at low temperatures. It is molded to form a block. The thing is tissue is not always smooth and the way it is frozen in the block, I might be cutting a while before getting the whole tissue surface. Below is a perfect example: on the left is what I saw at first and on the right is the whole tissue surface that I obtained. Sometimes, it's very easy to get the whole tissue and other times, I really need to cut a long time and re-orient the block so I don't waste too much tissue. The case below was a hard one and I don't think I got it all, but just couldn't cut more ^_^;

Once I have the whole tissue, I need to get a slice. The required thickness is 0.5uM. Luckily, I only need to set the machine to get the thickness that I want LOL. Again, sometimes it's easy to get the slice because it'll come off smoothly. Other times, it bunches on the blade and I need to use the forceps and brush to smooth out the slide - I hate when I have to do that because I usually have a lot of wrinkles. Anyway, once I have the slice, I transfer to a microscope slide... Something I'm still not good at. It sounds so simple, but you have to be quick and those wrinkles, grrrr.

After I've transferred the tissue to the slide, well because the slide is at room temperature, the OCT will melt... and is then washed away. Using a series of chemicals, I then stain the tissue so we can observe the cells and see the amount of cancer present.

I've been practicing cutting and staining since I started in January and I'm still practicing right now LOL. It sounds and looks quite easy, but each step has its challenges. Right now, my biggest challenge is figuring out whether I've gotten the whole tissue surface yet ^_^; Another challenge is the consistency in staining since it's done manually. Sometimes, a slide is pinker than the other ^_^; And I always have the impression that only half stained well. But apparently, it's good, so go figure. Anyway, everything is going to take practice and I'm getting there :) Since I've been practicing, the people have given me non-cancer samples. Apparently, cancer samples are easier because they are smaller... Right now, I'm doing one block a day... Could probably do two a day, but we don't have much samples for me to practice on LOL. Eventually, I'll have to go up to 4-6 blocks a day.

And there you have it, my new job :) It's fun because it's something very different than what I used to do, but at the same time, it's very repetitive and not sure how challenging it's going to be. Later, when I'm good at this, I might pick up something else, a side-project... but for now, that's my focus :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements and The Importance of Being Wicked by Victoria Alexander

Hey there :) I'm still catching up on my reviews for 2012. I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get to the 2013 books ^_^; However, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so hopefully, very soon :)


Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements by Victoria Alexander
published by Kensington in November 2012
Allow me to explain...

Some say I do not take my engagements seriously. Nonsense. What man with no interest in marriage would find himself proposing not once, but three times? And each time, I’ve felt certain that this, at last, is the absolutely, positively, perfect woman.

Miss Felicia Whitingdon, for instance, has youth, beauty, style, grace—and a handsome fortune. Lady Lucille Eustice is a widow of impeccable social standing, and a balm to my soul. Then there is Miss Caroline Hibbit, sweet and charming in every way. Any one of these intoxicating treasures could make a man happy. Any one of them could be an ideal wife. But which—if any of them—will it be?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Prequel to The Importance of Being Wicked

The Story: In What Happens at Christmas, we were introduced to Winfield Elliott, Viscount Stillwell, and learned that he had three failed engagements under his belt. As you can guess from the title of this short novella, well in Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements, we find out why these three engagements never resulted in weddings.

My Opinion: Oh my, did I enjoy this novella!! I thought that Winfield was one of the highlights of What Happens at Christmas, just such a fun character, and I was thrilled to find out he was getting his own book. And then, I found out about this novella and I just couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I thought this would give us a good glimpse of his personality... and guess what? I was right :)

All in all, I thought Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements was a charming novella. I enjoyed getting to know Winfield, what kind of man he was. I liked that he was your typical historical hero: handsome, wealthy, a bit of a wicked reputation, witty and charming. So why three failed engagements?! What happened? It was also interesting to see the growth and the maturity Winfield gained after each failed engagement. It wasn't as if he was repeating the same mistake. Not at all. Each time, he took into account why it failed and tried to find a bride that suit him better... and still no wedding. Best of all is Winfield's behavior afterwards, each time, he was the perfect gentleman.

I also enjoyed the insights we got on the dynamics of the Elliotts: Winfield's relationships with his father, mother and cousin. His family was very tight and they supported him, his parents tried to steer him at times, but ultimately, it was always Winfield's decisions and choices. It's nice to see a non-dysfunctional family from time to time :)

Finally, I thought it was a very good idea on Ms Alexander's part to write this novella. I think it was clever of her, because readers got to know Winfield better, but also learned the details of each engagement. I'm not sure it would have been possible for Ms Alexander to include all these details in The Importance of Being Wicked without cluttering the storyline, making it too much.

My Grade: A. I simply really enjoyed Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements - the writing, the characters and the story being told :) After reading this, all I could think was how lovely it would be to see Winfield finally fall in love and I just couldn't wait to get my hands on The Importance of Being Wicked. So mission accomplished for Ms Alexander with this novella :)

The Importance of Being Wicked by Victoria Alexander
published by Kensington in January 2013
For Winfield Elliott, Viscount Stillwell, finding a prospective bride always seemed easy. Perhaps too easy. With three broken engagements to his name, Win is the subject of endless gossip. Yet his current mission is quite noble: to hire a company to repair his family’s fire-damaged country house. Nothing disreputable in that—until the firm’s representative turns out to be a very desirable widow.

Lady Miranda Garrett expected a man of Win’s reputation to be flirtatious, even charming. But the awkward truth is that she finds him thoroughly irresistible. While Miranda resides at Millworth to oversee the work, Win occupies her days, her dreams…and soon, her bed. For the first time, the wicked Win has fallen in love. And what began as a scandalous proposition may yet become a very different proposal...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Millworth Manor, Book #1/Sinful Family Secrets, Book #3/connected to What Happens at Christmas

The Story: The blurb is fairly accurate. Winfield Elliott's country home estate, Fairborough Hall, was badly damaged during a fire and he wants to restore it to its glory. For such an important task, it is primordial for Winfield to select the best architectural firm. However, among his options, only Garret and Tempest would give him a guarantee that the ballroom would be ready by late June which would allow Winfield's family to host their annual ball made even more important by the Queen's presence.

Miranda, Lady Garret, is a widow and has been in charge of her late husband's architectural firm ever since his death. The truth though is that Miranda was involved with the firm even before her husband's death as she was responsible for the designs of the majority of the plans. However, this is a secret she intends to keep as she doesn't know how her proper aristocratic family, the Hadley-Attwaters, would react if they knew she was a business woman. Usually, she has an employee who would make the liaison between the client and herself; however, due to some circumstance, he wouldn't be available and Miranda would had to be the one overseeing the work at Fairborough Hall. Miranda is quite apprehensive at the idea of working with Winfield, after all, the disreputable lord has three broken engagements to his name, but the Fairborough Hall is an important project which could open many doors for her firm...

At first, Miranda and Winfield don't really hit it off, but as time goes, attraction grows... Will this woman be the right one for Winfield?

My Opinion: After reading Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements, I just couldn't wait to get my hands on The Importance of Being Wicked and as such, the expectations were very high. So let see how the book worked out for me :)

As it turns out, there was a lot of elements in The Importance of Being Wicked that I enjoyed :)  Obviously, there was the main characters, Miranda and Winfield. It's interesting because in The Importance of Being Wicked, we were shown a different side of Winfield, one that I didn't really expect. Oh, he was still quite charming - but the thing is Miranda saw right through him LOL - and he was also conservative and a bit stodgy. That really surprised me because we hadn't seen that in What Happens at Christmas and Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements. Still, it made sense since he took his responsibilities quite seriously... and that's something I liked about Winfield. He embraced his responsibilities, it's where he took refuge after his first broken engagements. It never felt like he was forced into it because he was the heir or because it was expected of him... There was also quite some pride in his accomplishments and therefore, while this new side of him was unexpected, it fit. As for Miranda, I quite liked her... but her personality was a bit mute in comparison to Winfield. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Miranda was finally finding herself. For years, she's lived a double life: the proper lady with her family and the savvy businesswoman, and she's kept those two lives very separate... but with Winfield, she finally could be the woman she's become. I also liked the fact that she acknowledged she's changed from whom she was when she first married. Anyway, all to say that I think Ms Alexander came up with good characters :)

I also quite enjoyed the romance. I liked it because Miranda and Winfield really took their time, got to know each other. This was very important given that Miranda and Winfield didn't hit it off immediately and it made the romance more believable. I also very much enjoyed Miranda and Winfield's interactions because it was interesting and witty. LOL, I gotta say, I loved how Miranda and Winfield each tried to get the upper hand and it was fun to see Miranda succeeds :) It was also a joy to see Winfield fall in love, just as I predicted it was going to be. Just because he didn't expect it to happen with Miranda and had to work hard at it LOL. I think  better in her review

Finally, what worked the best for me in The Importance of Being Wicked was the dynamics between all the characters and their relationships. I'm not just talking about the H/H, but everyone: Winfield with his cousin, with his parents, Miranda with her sister, with Winfield's mother, etc. The interactions were just fun and really set the tone of the book. They made the story more entertaining with all the LOL moments they provided :) Also, it's nice to have two normal families. Okay, not totally normal as I think some members were a bit quirky, but at least, functional families whose members all got along well and with no dark secrets. It was a very nice backdrop for Miranda and Winfield and allowed them to shine :)

However, as much as I enjoyed The Importance of Being Wicked, I can't help but feel something was missing. Perhaps it's because expectations were very high and I was sooo excited to read this book - anticipation can really kill a book ^_^; At this point though, it's still hard for me to pinpoint exactly what was missing. Maybe more scenes between Miranda and Winfield at the beginning of their relationship to show us how they overcame their first impressions... Maybe recognition from Miranda's part that Winfield wasn't such a scoundrel and was the wronged party in all three broken engagements. Even now, I still can't pinpoint what was missing, but I know it kept The Importance of Being Wicked from being a true wowzer.

My Grade: B. This grade is how I felt after reading The Importance of Being Wicked; however, as I mentioned above, anticipation can kill a book and that's what happened a little for me. It didn't ruin the book, but it took something away :( I suspect was I to re-read the book, I'd enjoy it a lot more, because all in all, The Importance of Being Wicked was a very good book :) It had good characters, a satisfying, slow-building romance and witty dialogues :) I'm definitively looking forward to the next book in the series!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

TBR Challenge 2013: The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt

You know what they say, better late than never! So I'm going to take that saying to heart and post my TBR challenge entry for the month of February tonight :) Yay! LOL. Funny, because I've actually read the book in advance this time around, but as you know, I've been off my game when it comes to blogging. Sigh. I tried really hard to get the review up in time, but work, curling, reading and some computer games got  me side-tracked ^_^; Guess I should start on next month right away if it continues this way LOL.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the review!

The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt
published by Berkley in January 2006
Double, double, toil and murder...

Bringing a little culture to Stony Mill, Indiana, Enchantments is one of the area's finest antique stores. But shop clerk Maggie O'Neill and her employer Felicity Dow do more than conjure up curios for the locals--they each possess a talent for spellbinding sleuthing...

Bored with her office job, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to work at Enchantments. She was a little weirded out when Felicity described herself as a witch, but if her boss wants to play with broomsticks and cauldrons, where's the harm? However, Maggie's first day on the job may turn out to be her last when Police question Felicity in the murder of her estranged sister.

With everyone in town proclaiming Felicity's guilt faster than the Salem Witch trials, Maggie finds herself wondering if she'll also be tied to the stake. And lately, she's been receiving messages on a spiritual frequency guiding her to prove Felicity's innocence--and to embrace her own "charmed" life.
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Series: A Bewitching Mystery, Book #1

The Story: The blurb is quite accurate, but the way it's formulated is weird ^_^; So here is my two cents.

Maggie O'Neill has an office job that she doesn't enjoy a lot. On a morning, before work, she decides to window shop in the yuppy part of Stony Mill and literally stumbles in Enchantments, a charming antique shop that sells a bit of everything. The next thing Maggie knows, she's being offered a job by the owner, Felicity Dow, a woman she immediately looks up to... despite the fact Felicity proclaims to be a witch.

Maggie is thrilled to start the new job, especially after she's been fired from her office job. However, her first day doesn't go as she expected. First, her new boss leaves her alone in the shop because she has to rush to her estranged sister's side after getting a phone call... and second, said estranged sister is murdered and Felicity is the prime suspect! Sure that her new employer is not a killer, Maggie decides to clear Felicity's name and starts her own investigation.

My Opinion: So, I've had this book in my TBR pile for quite a while... Highly possible I bought it when it first came out, so for 7 years ^_^; Oups, LOL. Even back in 2006, I had a weakness for witch-y characters and magic which is why I picked up The Trouble with Magic. What can I say, I know what I like :P However, this one slipped through the cracks for me and I think the main reason is that it's a cosy mystery. I read the genre, but it's just not my first choice... I finally decided to pick this book up for the TBR challenge to get it out of my TBR pile, but also, since the series is still ongoing, it must be good right? Well that's what I thought...

First books in series are tricky. They are introductory books, meant to set up the characters and build up the world... Most of the time, they'll blow you away and make you want more or leave you indifferent. Unfortunately, The Trouble with Magic fell in the latter category for me due to a combination of a bit of everything that didn't work for me :( For example, when I see the word "magic" in the title and witch in the blurb, well that's what I expect. Normal right? Well, there was very little magic in the story and the characters were more psychics than witches. It changes things around in term of what the characters can do in my opinion... But at the end of the day, it didn't really matter since Ms Alt didn't do much with it. It's as if she didn't have a clear of idea herself and decided to focus on building the setting (i.e. the town) and the characters instead. And perhaps, she spent too much time on those elements because pacing was slow and the story, a bit dull ^_^; The mystery just wasn't very suspenseful and didn't draw me in. As I said, part of it was because the focus was on setting the series up, but the other weakness was the lack of foreshadowing and hints to the real culprit. Also, Maggie's sleuthing was pretty much simply talking to people and asking questions, so there was a lot to weed through and quite frankly, it just wasn't interesting. Finally, there's the characters. I think Maggie was okay as a heroine... the problem is that she was quite typical. Unhappy with her job, the constant comparison with the sister who has it all, etc. and then, the pesky hint of a love triangle. Again, a little bit dull ^_^;

As a whole, The Trouble with Magic wasn't a bad book, but it was definitively flawed. And those flaws were the reasons I didn't get hooked and why the book didn't work for me. I think that in term of mystery, while not very exciting, it did work because I did not guess the identity of the villain. For fans of cosy mysteries who can overlook these flaws, they might find an enjoyable series... However, that's not going to be me.

My Grade: C-

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: The First Prophet by Kay Hooper

Ohhh, my poor neglected blog! :( Sigh. So what's my latest excuse? Well I've been sick :( Down with a cold... or perhaps the flu, but I think more a cold, since Valentine's Day. Seriously, this has been a rough beginning of 2013 for me. I just can't seem to get into a reading and blogging rhythm. Whenever I start getting into a routine, something will come up and disrupt it. Very annoying. So if you've been wondering where I've been, let just say I've been feeling off...

Anyway, enough whining. For now, I'm just happy I had this review up and I hope I can get on a new streak. Going to try to make it for the TBR challenge tomorrow... but more importantly, I need to blog hop! In the meantime, enjoy this review!

The First Prophet by Kay Hooper
published by Berkley in November 2012
Within the FBI, there exists a team of psychics whose powers cannot be denied. But these agents are feared—by a cabal of conspirators with only one weapon: to blind the psychics to the evils all around them.

Months ago Sarah Gallagher woke from a coma with psychic abilities she couldn’t control. They changed her life and cost her the man she loved. And now, someone is playing games with Sarah’s mind.

It begins with Sarah’s home being destroyed by fire—an act of arson that draws novelist Tucker Mackenzie into Sarah’s confidence. But he has other reasons for pursuing a woman who can see what others can’t. So does a mysterious enemy intent on eliminating Sarah, and everyone she cares about. Because it’s only a matter of time before her visions lead her and Tucker to a secret many will kill to hide. Only then will they begin to discover the scope of a terrifying conspiracy so deep and complex they can trust almost no one.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Bishop Files, Book #1

The Story: Tucker Mackenzie is a successful author. Throughout his career, he's been on the look-out for genuine psychics, someone who could answer his questions. His latest search leads him to Sarah Gallagher. Sarah was in an accident a few months ago and after waking up from a coma, started having visions and dreams. She wants to deny her abilities, but after some of her visions have come true, it's hard to.

What Sarah also knows is that she is being watched... and when her house burns down, well it seems they are doing more than watching. Tucker wants to protect Sarah, but she is not sure it is worth as she's seen how it ends. However, when Sarah is shown that the future can actually change, that it is not set in stone, she decides to fight for her life... Except the people after Sarah have a very long reach and wherever Sarah and Tucker run, there seems to be no escape.

Unbeknownst to Sarah and Tucker, there is a group of people trying to help them, to keep the bad people at bay... In a battle of good vs. evil, who will prevail?

My Opinion: It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Ms Hooper, especially her FBI SCU series. To me, Ms Hooper has set the standards when it comes to writing psychics and mysteries involving them. So there were many reasons for me to be excited for The First Prophet, the first installment in a new psychic series. Going in, I really wanted to love it, but unfortunately, the story did not work for me as well as I had hoped.

What I love so much about Ms Hooper's psychics is that her characters usually have belief in their abilities. They are not always comfortable with their abilities because some are more curses than gifts, but they don't doubt. As a result, Ms Hooper's psychics are usually well-adjusted characters... and that's what was missing in The First Prophet. Here, Sarah has just discovered her abilities and doesn't believe in them or at least, doesn't want to. Instead of making use of them, she's afraid of what she can do and see.  I think this was the first time I read a book of Ms Hooper with the main character just becoming a psychic. Usually, it's a secondary character and there's always someone in his/her entourage to make sense of it, to help out... and Sarah didn't even have that as Tucker was a non-psychic and while he's been searching for a genuine psychic, he was still undecided whether they existed or not. The not knowing, the not understanding, the mystic and the denial... those are usually absent in Ms Hooper's books, but they were all here in The First Prophet and for me, they brought down the book and made it like any other psychic novel. And that's the main reason why I didn't enjoy The First Prophet as much as I expected.

Another reason why The First Prophet didn't work as well for me was actually Sarah's abilities towards the end. I don't know exactly where Ms Hooper is heading with this series, but it's clear that Sarah is an important character, that she is the first prophet. As such, she is freaking powerful. We've seen powerful psychics in the FBI SCU series... but some of Sarah's abilities? I don't mind Sarah being powerful, but sigh, Ms Hooper is pushing the believable a little bit.

Otherwise, The First Prophet was interesting. The storyline was quite spooky and the conspiracy, scary. The fact that no matter where Tucker and Sarah ran and hid, they were found and in matter of hours? To imagine that there is such an organized faction out there after you? Very scary. I admit that the lack of names and therefore, not knowing which faction the people, thoughts and action came from, was a bit annoying, but I understand it was to set the tone and that was a definite success LOL. Also, as a whole, The First Prophet was a lot less gory than what I'm used to with Ms Hooper's books which was a pleasant surprise. As for the characters, Sarah and Tucker were nice and likable. There wasn't much development to their characters and I'd say they weren't really the focus of the book either. It feels like Ms Hooper was setting up for the series and given the plot, that was fine. I have to say that once Sarah started believing in her abilities, once she became more self-assured, that's when I started liking her better and it's also when the story picked up :)

My Grade: C. I came in The First Prophet with some expectations of how the story, the characters were going to be and I couldn't look past them, hence all the comparison to previous books and it definitively affected my enjoyment of the book. Still, I found the whole thing quite interesting and I'm really curious to see where the series will go. So not the ideal opening to the series, but I'm definitively picking up the next book :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Forbidden and Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong

Hey everyone! How are you doing? Sorry for the lack of posts ^_^; I've been pretty tired lately - curling, Chinese New Year, hanging out with friends = lack of sleep - and I think it's been affecting my mood, my reading and my blogging :( Hopefully, I'll be able to catch up on my sleep this week!

Today is a two-fer reviews because well, lack of reviews in the past couple of days, but also because both books were written by the same author: Kelley Armstrong. These are novellas that were published back in December with  Subterranean Press. Seriously, I'm really happy Ms Armstrong has decided not to end the series and just go on hiatus :P Anyway, with these two reviews, I'm almost done with 2012! Yay! Then, I'll start tackling 2013, given my blogging muse comes back soon :) However, as my blogging muse seems to be on vacation for now, I gotta warn you that these reviews might not flow really well ^_^; I really had a hard time writing them, it just wouldn't come :( I hope you can still enjoy them though :)

Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong
published by Subterranean Press in December 2012
The team-spirit sign by the side of the highway seems a good omen to loner Morgan Walsh, as he drives to what could be the most important visit of his life — a chance to join the North American Pack. Then he wakes naked in the woods, surrounded by wolf tracks and a ring of suspicious cops. The situation only gets worse when he’s bailed out by Alpha-elect Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers, her terrifying enforcer and mate.

Disappointed that such a promising young werewolf risked exposing them, Elena isn’t expecting anything from the pesky retrieval job except some much-needed alone time with Clay. Instead, she finds a different kind of evil stalking the streets and forests of Westwood, New York. Trapped in town by a snowstorm and sabotage, Elena, Clay and Morgan must find the mysterious threat before it sets its sights on them.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld/Otherworld stories

The Story: The synopsis is pretty accurate. Morgan Walsh comes from a family of fishermen in Newfoundland and is a hereditary werewolf. Not interested in his family's lifestyle, he set out to see what the world had to offer. That led him to Anchorage, Alaska, where he tried to live as a wolf, exploring his second nature. It's during that time, eighteen months ago, that he met the American Pack (Frostbitten). They issued him an invitation to visit and perhaps recruit when he was done with his wolf experiment. Interested and intrigued, Morgan has finally decided on the visit. However, his visit starts off on a bad note when during a rest stop, Morgan finds himself in need of Changing and the next thing he knows, he's being arrested, naked in the forest during winter. Then, Elena is called in to bail him out. On their way out, their car's tires are slashed, effectively trapping them in town for the night...

My Opinion: The Women of the Otherworld series is one of my favorite urban fantasy series and so, I always look forward to new additions, whether they are full-length novels or novellas. I was even more excited about Forbidden when I found out it was about Morgan :) Ever since Frostbitten, I've been curious about his character and wondered whether he would join the Pack or not... As such, I'm really glad Ms Armstrong  finally wrote a story that provided me some of the answers.

All in all, I thought Forbidden was an interesting read. First, I always enjoy reading about the Pack and this time was no exception. Packs are one of my favorite elements in series that have werewolves, shapeshifters, changelings, etc. because they are an integral part of the world building and really set the tone, the atmosphere. I also enjoy them because I find the hierarchy fascinating and for the Pack politics and dynamics which are very akin to court intrigues :) In the Women of the Otherworld series, I think Ms Armstrong has created a very unique Pack. Part of it is has to do with the hierarchy which is not as strict and rigid. There's simply less emphasis on dominance and instinct. I mean, I wouldn't consider Clay a beta male, LOL, and Jeremy and Elena were both chosen/elected as Alphas. In that sense, the Pack is more humane and therefore, there is more focus on personalities. However, the reason I find the Pack stands out is its size. At the beginning of the series, the North American Pack was almost decimated and for the longest time, it consisted of only 5 werewolves. Finally though, in the past few books, it's slowly being built back and  new werewolves are joining. It's been interesting to read about the process, especially because because Ms Armstrong has done an excellent job at creating characters with distinct personalities and motives :) For example you have Karl which is really a veteran and has been a lone wolf for so long, but who craved territory. Then, there's been Reese and Noah who are younger and more malleable... and then, Morgan who is more individualist. I really enjoyed reading Morgan's thoughts about joining the Pack, especially his worries about not being up to standard. The nervousness he felt coming down for this visit, because he's evaluating whether he wants to join or not, but he knows he's also being evaluated. Anyway, I'm glad that Morgan has chosen to give the Pack a chance and I'm really looking forward to see how the Pack grows :)

As usual, I also enjoyed re-visiting Elena and Clay and see how they are dealing with parenthood LOL. I wonder what is harder for Elena, being a mother of twins or transitioning into her responsibilities as Alpha? :) However, while it's fun to catch up with one of my favorite pairings, it's pretty much the same as always... there's not much growth or development to their characters. It sounds a bit weird to write this given there are some big changes that have occurred - them becoming parents, Elena taking over Jeremy - but the transitions have been so smooth... Sure Elena has doubts and worries, but then again, she always had had those for different reasons and Clay as always is her rock. Anyway, I guess what I mean is that it's fun to see Elena and Clay again, but not much is happening with them, they just serve as narrators. It wouldn't really be an issue in full-length novels because then, there'd be the plot, suspense and action to detract the attention from them... but as this novella is not focus on them as was Hidden, well it feels like Ms Armstrong is pleasing fans more than anything. Not a bad thing, but more substance would be appreciated.

The plot of Forbidden, aside from Morgan joining the Pack, was okay given the length. That wasn't the reason why I read the novella, so it could overlook its flaws. The fact that it involved a bit of woo-woo made sense - it's urban fantasy after all - but seemed a bit too coincidental to me. Two things though that bothered me about Forbidden. The first is when does the story take place in the series timeline? I was a bit confused because there was a mention about Karl and Hope having a special news and I was wondering if it's the fact that Hope was pregnant in which case, the story took place before Waking the Witch. If that's not the news they were alluding to, then I'm really curious to know what is the special news!! ^_^; And the second thing is the art... I'm sorry, but I really wasn't a big fan of the art in Forbidden. It was a bit weird and the white/black/red color scheme did not help ^_^;

My Grade: B. Plot-wise, Forbidden wasn't the best novella Ms Armstrong has written. However, I got to know Morgan better, revisit Elena and Clay and read about the Pack, so it was still quite enjoyable for me :)


Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong
published by Subterranean Press in e-book - December 2012/ in print - January 2013
Jaime Vegas—spiritualist, entertainer and, unbeknownst to her audience, real-life necromancer—swore she’d never do another reality ghost show after the last fiasco. But when she’s railroaded into a charity gig, she finds herself back on the set, this time with a cast of photogenic college kids, an up-and-coming Russian spiritualist, and a tale of missing girls and murder in New England. It’s cheesy, but that’s show business. With her werewolf Alpha lover, Jeremy Danvers, along to keep her nights interesting, it’s not so bad really. Until the bloody ghosts show up. Jaime has never faced spirits like these, and no matter how hard she tries, they won’t be ignored.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld/Otherworld stories

The Story: Once again, the blurb is pretty accurate and I'm not going to try to summarize more, because I'd be giving too much away ^_^;

My Opinion: I had absolutely no idea about Amityville Horrible's release until I stumbled across it over at Kobo, so it was a really nice surprise! And given Jaime and Jeremy are another of my favorite pairings of the series, I was thrilled! Lucky for me Amityville Horrible turned out to be as enjoyable as Forbidden :)

Okay, this review is going to be short and sweet since Amityville Horrible was even shorter than Forbidden. All in all, I think Amityville Horrible was a good novella because it was well balanced between the plot and the relationship. I think it helped that Ms Armstrong had a focal point to concentrate on: Jaime. As it turned out, the storyline was actually quite interesting and spooky! And I thought the twist was clever - I did not see it coming. People keep underestimating Jaime and I love that she surprises them, LOL. I also very much enjoyed the outlook we got on Jaime and Jeremy's relationship - how they deal with it and how it works for them. Jaime and Jeremy's relationship is quite unique and it really contrasts from Elena and Clay's. While they are a couple and have a 'HEA ending,' they are not constantly together, attached to the hips. I love that the two of them haven't given up their lives, their responsibilities. Instead, they  compromise and it works. It feels very mature. I also liked that we got a glimpse of Jaime's role in the twin's lives, because I've been wondering :)

My Grade: B. Amityville Horrible turned out to be a very enjoyable novella :) If you are a fan of this series and particularly for Jaime and Jeremy, you won't want to miss this one.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

As expected, I wasn't able to blog as much as I wanted this week ^_^; However, it wasn't so much laziness as lack of time and exhaustion. I wanted to have this review ready for yesterday, but Wednesday, I was soooo tired. Too much curling will take a toll on you which is why I'm so awed at curlers who compete... Playing two games a day for a week - the stamina that it takes!! Anyway, I promise a post on curling to come! So far in the in-club event, we're 1-1. We have another game tonight and if we lose, we're out. Really hoping we'll win! :)

While I didn't blog much this week, the two reviews I managed to write - Did You Miss Me? by Karen Rose and this one, Cold Days by Jim Butcher - were two that I really wanted to write. Both were part of my Favorite and Best of 2012, so I'm just glad I got to share my thoughts with you all :)

For those who are interested by this review, before you read on, I'd like to warn you that there are spoilers in the blurb and in the review. If you have not kept up with the series since Changes or even prior to it and do not want to be spoiled, do not continue on!! You've been warned! Actually, the review part, i.e. "My Opinion" and "My Grade", is pretty much spoiler-free, so you can read... but if you don't want any spoilers, than do not read the book's blurb and my attempt at summarizing it, "The Story."


***Warning: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk***

Cold Days by Jim Butcher
published by New American Library (ROC) in November 2012

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…

His soul.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Dresden Files, Book #14

The Story: Last warning here, there are spoilers in this review, so if you don't want to know, don't read further!

In Changes, Harry needed power to save his daughter and therefore accepted Mab's long-standing offer for the position of Winter Knight. Knowing what it entailed, Harry tried to wiggle out by ordering his own hit. However, the Queen of Air and Darkness wasn't about to let Harry slips through her fingers and was able to keep him alive by combining her efforts with Demonreach. Grateful to be alive and having no choice about his new role, Harry has decided that he'll assume his responsibilities as the Winter Knight, Harry-style :)

However, in his wildest dreams, Harry never expected Mab to ask for the near-impossible for his first mission as the Winter Knight: to kill an immortal. Turns out there is a conjunction of time which occurs every year when immortals are vulnerable: Halloween night. Except that only gives him about 24 hours to pull it off. And when Mab's sanity starts being questioned, Harry has to decide whom to trust and which immortal to kill.

Of course, Harry's life cannot be that easy and killing an immortal is not all he has to deal with. Upon his return to Chicago, Harry learns the true purpose of Demonreach: a jail created in four dimensions by Merlin to imprison magical creatures that make naagloshii (Turn Coat) one of the least dangerous creatures housed in minimum security. He also finds out he's been chosen to be the warden of this prison and that it is currently under attack and if the enemy succeeds, it will not only blow up the island, but also Chicago and part of the country. And of course, Harry's deadline is November 1.

And if Harry manages to accomplish his mission and save the world once again, he should find a way to get rid of the parasite with which Mab and Demonreach bargained with to keep Harry alive before it burst forth from his skull...

My Opinion: All right, I'm going to sound like total fan girl in this review, but what can I say? Cold Days was a great, great book and it's been a while since I've enjoyed a book this much. You know the exhilarating feeling you get while reading, the not-turning-the-page-fast-enough,  the wanting to jump because it's so exciting that you can't contain your energy and the jaw-dropping at the twists? Yeah, that was me while reading Cold Days LOL.

So what was it about Cold Days that made it so good? LOL, everything :) But first and foremost, I think it was the story. As usual, it was complex and well thought out, but more importantly, exciting! It started with the identity of the immortal that Mab wants Harry to kill. My reaction was like "Wow, really?!?" and just built up from there with a lot of good twists, culminating in a jaw-dropping ending. That ending was so unexpected, but oh so brilliant, and it showed us that Mr. Butcher knows exactly where he is going and that he's been planning ahead. Every event and small detail which are found in the books are there for a purpose :) And really, it just makes it more exciting for the future because you don't know what the author will pull out of the hat. Something else that contributed immensely to making this story so exciting is that we finally get answers to some questions that arose throughout the series. For example the purpose of Demonreach, why is Rashid known as the Gatekeeper, etc. and some of these revelations added to the wowzer factor of Cold Days :) Of course, there's still a lot of unknown going on, but at least, Mr. Butcher touched upon some and that was enough to assuage our hunger. Most authors with long-running series have their characters going through some adventures confined in one installment with an over-arching storyline connecting these installments whereas Mr. Butcher has many over-arching storylines... Sometimes, it actually feels like there's too many ^_^; But when you get a book like Cold Days where some of your questions are answered and where everything falls into place and comes together so nicely, it doesn't feel so... in fact, it makes you want more!

Another reason I loved this book so much was the humor :) There are a lot of main characters in other series who are sarcastic, but really, Harry is a first class wise-ass LOL. And it's not just Harry, but the dynamics he has with the other characters, the tone and the delivery. Also, Cold Days is the 14th book in the series, so there are some insider jokes, little things that wouldn't be funny if you haven't read the book. In any case, I know that at times when I wasn't enthralled by the book, I probably was grinning like a lunatic LOL.

And of course, you also find the usual in Cold Days: lots of action, an interesting cast of secondary characters, a likable hero, etc. It's going to be interesting to see how Harry's character develops, him being the Winter Knight. For now, he seems to be himself, but can you really not be affected by near-death experience? Also, it is said that the Winter Knight mantle changes a person... Personally, I don't want Harry to change too much, but it is time for more. I enjoyed seeing the gang and two thumbs up to Mr. Butcher for not overdoing the reunions. All the characters that were seen had a purpose and that's good. There's still a lack of romance in this series, but I don't mind much... and a relationship between Harry and Murphy - one that I've been wishing from the start - is being discussed. I liked that it's still in the air because there's a lot to consider and it makes it realistic.

All in all, Cold Days was really a great book. I loved everything about it, but I do have one niggle... Why wasn't Harry's godmother, Leanansidhe, part of the story? Given that the book involved the Winter Court, it would have made sense for her to be present... It just didn't make sense to me that she wasn't.

My Grade: A. There's really only one word to describe and sum up my feelings about Cold Daysepic!!! It was such a great book, totally worth the wait! :) And that's why Cold Days was my best and favorite read in 2012. Now, I can't wait till the next book - Skin Games - and hopefully, Mr. Butcher keeps it up!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Review: Did You Miss Me? by Karen Rose

Yay, I managed to complete this review!! Woohoo! Because obviously, I didn't manage to write a few posts ahead of time this week-end ^_^; I tried and tried on Saturday, but it just wouldn't come. Then, on Sunday, it was curling the whole day. We lost both our games by a very big margin (14-2 and 10-4, yikes!), but I don't care because I played really well and totally out-curl my opponent :) And there was more curling yesterday evening... We have an in-club event going on the whole week and I'm going to try to share it with you in a post soon. In a few short words: it was fun, I curl okay, we won and therefore are moving on! Yay!

Okay, now back to books :) I'm really glad to have the review for Did You Miss Me? by Karen Rose up today since it's the North American release day! I got the UK edition of Did You Miss Me? which came out back in November and was planning to have my review up during the holidays. However, with the impromptu trip to Europe, I got behind on my reviews.... but isn't perfect that my review ends up being posted on the North American release date? Funny how things have a tendency to work out well :) In any case, hope you enjoy the review!

Did You Miss Me? by Karen Rose
published by Headline in November 2012/New American Library in February 2013
Baltimore prosecutor Daphne Montgomery pulled herself out of a damaged past to build a solid life for herself and her son. But after she helps to convict a killer, her confidence is shattered once again by the news that her son has been kidnapped.

Daphne believes it’s connected to the recent high-profile trial, and at first FBI special agent Joseph Carter agrees. But together they find the reality to be even more troubling, and it runs deeper than Daphne fears. With her son’s life in jeopardy, she must unlock a dreadful secret about her past—and confront a truth that will change everything for those closest to her. And, if she survives, threaten the lives of everyone she loves.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Baltimore, Book #3

The Story: Life has not been easy on Daphne Montgomery. She went through a traumatic event as a child which resulted in her father walking away. Then, she got pregnant at the age of 15 and for the next dozen years, became a trophy wife, trying to please her husband and mother-in-law. She finally got a divorce, but at the same time, learned that she had breast cancer... However, she survived and persisted and finally achieved her dream of becoming a prosecutor. She is currently in the midst of her first big, mediatic trial... and life is about to throw her another curve.

When Daphne's son Ford disappears, she believes the White supremacists that she is prosecuting are behind it... and so does FBI special agent Joseph Carter. However, when he learns that Daphne was also a victim of kidnapping as a child, Joseph wonders what are the odds that mother and child are both victims and starts believing this is a lot more personal. Either way, Joseph has a personal stake in this investigation as Ford is Joseph's father's employee and his crush on Daphne is the reason he is back in Baltimore.

My Opinion: There are a few authors whom I love unconditionally and who are on my forever auto-buy authors list and Karen Rose is one of them :) I love, love, love her books and can't get enough of them. So it'll come as no surprise that I was thrilled when I found out the release date for Did You Miss Me? - two in a year, awesome! - and that I highly enjoyed it :)

At first, when I read the blurb of Did You Miss Me?, I was surprised that Daphne and Joseph were the H/H as I was expecting Clay and Stevie's book, but I quickly recovered and was quite excited because I liked the glimpses we got from them in  No One Left to Tell :) As it turned out, there was a lot more to Daphne and Joseph than meet the eye. Both had quite a tragic past, one that still haunt them and definitively shaped who've they become. Honestly, I felt that both pasts were a bit over the top... especially in the case of Daphne - just so much happened! You start wondering if life can dish out even more at her? ^_^; I think Ms Rose could have cut back a bit, but there's no doubt she had achieved creating an interesting and different heroine. Reading Did You Miss Me?, I admired Daphne for her strength, her determination, her courage and accomplishing her dreams. And I liked the realistic side of her, the one that was a bit egoistical and worried how the truth would have repercussions on her career. As for Joseph, I think I'd have liked more development in his character. In the case of Daphne, all the past had a hand in creating the woman she is today, but she is comfortable with whom she's become and for the most part, has dealt with her issues. In contrast, Joseph hasn't and that's why he's been staying away from his family. What happened to him plunged him in a dark place and it's upon meeting Daphne that he's gradually getting back in the light. The unrequited feelings and crush between Joseph and Daphne worked and made the romance believable. However, I feel it was a bit too simple an excuse for Joseph to emerge from his dark place. To want to, yes, but to completely do it... That's another story and that's why I wished for a bit more development, fleshing it out more... Then again, given the timeline of the story, it was impossible. And as I said about the romance, it was believable. Joseph and Daphne have been dancing around one another for month and really just needed something to bring them together for them to confess their feelings.

As usual, the suspense in Did You Miss Me? was well-done :) The book is action-packed, edge-of-the-seat exciting and the villain was so very smart. He planned it well and seriously, it'd be scary to have such a vendetta against you ^_^; Overall, I thought the plotline was pretty tight and Ms Rose built the anticipation and revelations well. My only complaint and it's quite minor is the timeline. As usual, it's very short and it feels to me like it should be longer. I know there's 24 hours in a day and under such circumstances, people don't sleep... but nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that everything happened in such a short time-frame. I'd like her to either extend it or make it less jam-packed ^_^; Although I have to say, what Ms Rose does well is show us that even during important investigations, normal life continues... time doesn't stop and there are things that go on...

For fans of Clay and Stevie who were disappointed that this wasn't their book, you'll still want to read Did You Miss Me? because things happen in their relationship. I can't figure out if it's progress given the circumstances, but there is an acknowledgement of their feelings and what could be and it's clear Ms Rose is setting up for their book :) In addition to Clay and Stevie, there's a full cast of secondary characters that are making their appearances in Did You Miss Me? Some are new such as Ford and Novak, a colleague of Joseph; others we get to meet again such as Alec. One thing I can say is that all of them are interesting and have potential... and I love, love Ford!! Seriously, Ms Rose has a knack at writing likable young adult characters and I hope that along with Tom, Ford gets his own book :)

My Grade: B+. Honestly, I don't now how objective I am when it comes to Karen Rose books ^_^; To me though, Did You Miss Me? was another solid romantic suspense novel. Good suspense, nice romance, interesting characters... but a bit too much going on which is why I'm not giving it a higher grade.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Hauling Sundays CIV

First thing first, Ames and I have our list of new releases for February up at Breezing Through. If you haven't checked it out yet, well take a look here and share with us what books you are looking forward to!

Now onto new books bought :) Well, I've complained about December and January at nauseum about the lack of new releases... but seriously, I wasn't kidding. Don't believe me? See for yourself! Only one new precious in the past two weeks:

The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter - Along with Ms Mayberry, Ms Hunter is one of my autobuy authors for category romances :) I always have difficulty keeping up with her releases though because of the different country releases and changes in titles... but it's always just a matter of time before I get my hands on them :)


So it was a quiet week when it came to book-buying, but I feel like I'm finally getting back in the groove when it came to reading and blogging. I hope I can maintain the pace, but I know it's going to be hard because this week, curling is going to keep me very occupied... starting today :) I'll be trying my best, but don't be surprised if I go MIA ^_^;

In other news, my parents are finally home! Yay! Really missed them :P

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Week-End's Minis XXXVII: Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison

Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley in November 2012
Before she met Dragos, half-human/half-Wyr Pia Giovanni was alone and on the run. Now she’s mated, pregnant and heading south to repair the Wyrs’ frayed relationship with the Elves. Being separated from Dragos is painful, but for the good of the Wyr demesne they need to figure out how to be partners—in more places than just the bedroom.

In New York to preside over the Sentinel Games, Dragos is worried about his mate, but knows that finding two replacement sentinels is essential to show the rest of the Elder Races just how strong and brutal the Wyr demesne can be. But as the Games heat up, Pia’s negotiations with the Elves take a turn for the dangerous, straining her bond with Dragos and threatening everything they hold dear...
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #5

What do you need to know? Well the story is pretty much as the blurb described. After losing two of his sentinels, Dragos needs to replace them, hence the Sentinel Games. All of his current sentinels have to enter as well, to show that they are the best of the best. There is only one rule and it is not to kill. At the end, the seven that will be left standing will get the prized positions.

While all the attention is focused on the Sentinel Games and New York City, Pia thinks it's the perfect time to conduct a diplomatic mission of her own. So she sets of with a group of canine Wyrs who act as her bodyguards to visit the High Lord and his lady to repair treaties and better their relationships with the Elves. However, this mission won't be easy. First, Pia has to compose with her new bodyguards who don't know her, have misconceptions and are not thrilled to miss the Sentinel Games to protect Dragos' new mate. In addition, perhaps Pia's timing is not as good as she thought because something is clearly going on in the Elven demesne.

Why this book? Hmmm, because it's part of a popular series and there was a lot of buzz for it. I probably shouldn't have though considering I didn't love Pia and Dragos in Dragon Bound ^_^;

What did I like? Well, Pia continued to impress me as an heroine in Lord's Fall. The maturity, the way she handled herself and everything that was thrown at her. Her confrontation with Eva at the beginning of the novel was the perfect example. I also appreciate that Pia is different from most heroines, that she's not a predator. It makes the way she's dealing with Dragos even more admirable. I also applaud Ms Harrison for her consistency with Pia's character, that Pia didn't undergo out-of-character changes in personality.

The premises of Lord's Fall had a lot of potential in my opinion and the ending is intriguing, pointing at changes to come.

What didn't work for me? Overall, I think my main issue with Lord's Fall was that it fell flat. As I just mentioned, Lord's Fall had a lot of potential, but Ms Harrison failed exploiting it. I was actually really looking forward to the Sentinel Games - the description for them so grand, but in the end, it wasn't exciting at all. The Sentinel Games turned out to be like background noise, a filler to keep Dragos occupied and justify the separation between Pia and Dragos. Also, the results were totally anti-climatic since Dragos' five sentinels did not meet each other and easily survived. Ms Harrison also had something with the Elven storyline, but I feel she couldn't fully develop that storyline because she was too busy with other elements. And once again, there was no excitement to it, most of the time, Pia was kept waiting or stone-walled...

I know a lot of fans were looking forward to Lord's Fall for the romance, to see Dragos and Pia together again... and I hope they were satisfied. As I was not a huge fan of their romance to begin with, this continuation didn't do much for me. I mean, the two of them are already together, there is no real issue between them and Pia continues doing a good job at managing Dragos' uber-alphaness. So really, their romance was just there to please the fans.

My Grade? C-. Lord's Fall wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't great either. While I continued enjoying Pia's character, she couldn't make me overlook the fact Lord's Fall definitively lacked omphf.  

Friday, February 01, 2013

Monthly Reads - November 2012

So while everyone has started posting their monthly recaps for January, I'm playing catch-up and posting my recap for November LOL. The good news is I only have December left to do for 2012. The bad news is I also have to play catch-up for reviews ^_^; Then, there's the January's books to review as well. Guess I'll find a way. Perhaps I'll be putting up some polls... See what reviews you would like to read. Hmmm, something to think about :) What do you think?


1) Fourth Grave Beneath my Feet by Darynda Jones: B

2) The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand: B+

3) 'Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries: B

4) Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale: B

5) The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts: B

6) Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison: C
Upcoming Review.

7) Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath: C+

After mourning her fiancé for two years, it is time for Lady Anne Hayworth to say her final goodbye and move on with her life. In order to do so, she hires Captain Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer, to take her to Scutari where her fiancé lost his life during the war. However, Crimson Jack will only accept a kiss as payment, nothing else and Anne has no choice than to agree, even knowing the risk... and as expect, the kiss leads to much more.

Once they are back in London, Anne expects them to go their separate way where she will accept the courtship of Lord Chetwyn. However, Anne had no idea that Crimson Jack's true identity is Lord Tristan Easton, one of the three lost lords of Pembrook who came back two years ago to reclaim their birthright in the midst of scandals... and that the man has no intention to relinquish his claim on her. Tristan doesn't know what it is about Anne but for her, he is willing to revert back to being a gentleman and rejoin the ton.

I have a bit of a mixed feeling when it comes to Lord of Temptation, because it wasn't exactly what I expected... Still overall, I enjoyed this book. I thought it was very interesting that even after two years, the lords of Pembrook were still not readily accepted by Society, even though it was their birthright and all they did was reclaim it. I also liked the fact that Tristan maintained both his identity as Lord Tristan and Crimson Jack. It was intriguing and I guess it really reflected the dilemma he was facing. He was born in one world and made by the other and thus, he was the combination of both and both were integral parts of him. It made for an interesting character. As for Anne, well she was a contradiction for me. I liked her spirit, her personality and admired her courage, the fact that she went away to say goodbye to her fiancé, that she stood up to her father and brothers. However, I didn't see the same woman when it came to the matters of heart and marriage. It was clear she had feelings for Tristan, so why not defy everything and be with him? Why allow Lord Chetwyn to court her? Because of that, I thought the romance was a bit flat to me. It should have been more passionate, more romantic, but it wasn't. What kind of save the romance for me though is Lord Chetwyn. It's rare for me to like the third party, but Chetwyn was such a gentleman. Of course, his reasons for wooing Anne were all wrong, but he was honest and the fact that he stepped aside for Tristan, I think it said a lot about his character. After reading Lord of Temptation, I was really hoping that Chetwyn would get his own story and he did. Deck the Halls with Love is a novella, but I'll take it! :)

Overall, I didn't love this book as much as I wanted, but I did like and enjoy it. Romance and characters aside, I think it would have worked better for me if Ms Heath had included more interactions between Tristan and his brothers. It's been two years after all and it seems there hasn't been much improvement in their brotherhood and that makes me sad. Hopefully, we'll get that in Rafe's book, Lord of Wicked Intentions.

8) Did you Miss Me? by Karen Rose: B++
Upcoming Review.

9) Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements by Victoria Alexander: A-
Upcoming Review.


Books bought: +16
Books read: -9
TBR pile: +7

Contemporary Romance - 2
Historical Romance - 4
       --> (Regency - 4)
Mystery/Thriller - 1
Paranormal Romance - 1
Romantic Suspense - 1


As you can see, November was a slow month and it's such a shame because it started out so well! End of October, beginning of November, I was really in the reading zone... and then, I fell while playing curling and ended up with the concussion. Sigh. I was not allowed to read, but eventually, I started cheating because there were books I really wanted to read LOL. Given the circumstances, I guess 9 is better than nothing :)

Luckily, the concussion did not stop me from buying books. I think November was one of the months I bought the most books and that's because there was a promotion. Nowadays, I try real hard to wait for those and it seems to be working. Hopefully, I can keep it up! It's fun though to have books to buy when there are promotions :)

All right, time to start working on December's post!