Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie
published by Berkley in February 2013
Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasures, though, she finds the owner, Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice's predatory servants and—with Lady Beatrice's eager cooperation—the four young ladies become her “nieces,” neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!

It's the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice’s dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient—and discovers an impostor running his household...

A romantic entanglement was never the plan for these stubborn, passionate opponents—but falling in love may be as inevitable as the falling of autumn leaves...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Chance sisters, Book #1

The Story: At the age of 18, when Max, Lord Davenham, inherited his title, he also got all the debts that came along. Almost penniless, Max was determined to make his own fortune and headed to the Orient. Nine years later, it is time to come home, especially after he receives a letter from one of his Aunt Bea's friends expressing her concerns that his aunt is being taken advantage of. And indeed, upon his return home, he finds his aunt surrounded by four nieces, the Chance sisters, whom Max is sure do not belong to the family tree.

Abigail Chantry was a governess who lost her position when she ran to the rescue of her younger sister, Jane, who was kidnapped to a brothel. The two sisters became friends with Damaris - another girl who was kidnapped to the brothel - and Daisy, who used to work for the brothel and was the one who informed Abby of the kidnapping, Together, they decide to head for Bath where Jane will have more chances to make an advantageous marriage. However, plans got derailed when Jane became sick. Desperate for money, Abby decides to rob a house - just to get the necessary money for a doctor. Instead of finding anything she could pawn, she finds Lady Beatrice - sick and neglected. Abigail cannot forget the old lady and once Jane recovers, she decides to come to Lady Beatrice's help. The old lady take the four young girls under her wing as her nieces, the Chance sisters.

From the start, Max and Abby butt heads... but is it because they are incompatible or because they are attracted to each other?

My Opinion: Over the years, I've become a fan of Ms Gracie's historical romances. Funny how things work out because the first few books that I've read by this author were misses for me. However, I just fell in love with her Devil Riders series :) Anyway, I was looking forward to Ms Gracie's new release... although I admit I was a bit disappointed to find out this was not Marcus' book :( Nevertheless, I wasn't going to miss her new book and thus, I picked up The Autumn Bride.

Going in The Autumn Bride, my expectations for the book were low due to Tracy's review. Tracy tends to be a more generous grader than me, so if she gave a book a 3/5, well let just say it doesn't bode well for me ^_^; However, in the end, I was pleasantly surprised. I can see where Tracy is coming from and she is right, the romance in The Autumn Bride was weak. Abigail and Max simply didn't spend enough time together for the HEA ending to be believable. Sure, the attraction was there, but for me, attraction does equal love. They needed more interactions, more time to really get to know each other; unfortunately those scenes were missing. Also, I would have been satisfied with them acknowledging their attraction and start courting by the end of the book. The marriage proposal just felt too forced :( And why do authors feel the need to add sex scenes, especially if they are only going to be at the end of the book? Because it is expected because it is a romance novel or to seal the deal? If they don't fit in the book, I'd rather they'd be left out... Just saying.

Aside from the romance, I pretty  much enjoyed everything else in The Autumn Bride. I liked the main characters, Abby and Max, as individuals. They were very likable and people you could get behind and root for. I admired Max' determination and focus at rebuilding the family fortune and Abby's dedication to others. I thought Ms Gracie also did a great job with the secondary characters and they really made this book. Daisy, Damaris and Jane each had their own personalities and I'm curious how it will lead to their HEA ending :) And Lady Beatrice was a hoot! She's my favorite kind of old biddies in historical romances :) You know, the kind who is blunt, speaks her mind, mischievous and has a lot of tricks up her sleeves. Even the butler and the footman had personalities :)

The storyline of The Autumn Bride had some misunderstandings, but they were resolved rather quickly and without more misunderstandings which I liked. Nothing was over-complicated and for once, I feel the characters used their good judgement... on their own! :) That was rather refreshing. I really liked the premise of the series as well, an old lady taking four young women under her wings. I do wonder if the remaining sisters are all going to be paired up with Max' business associates. I don't really mind, but I feel like Ms Gracie might have tip her hand a bit too soon. It'd have been fun to have a bit of surprise. Also, this would mean that Marcus' book is very far in the future... not that I mind though because I don't think that any of the Chance sisters really fit him. Yes, I'm rather obsessed with Marcus LOL.

My Grade: B-. Overall, I think The Autumn Bride was an enjoyable book. It's unfortunate that the romance was on the weaker side; however, the good premise made for a strong start for the new series.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Curling Recap IV - Rookie of the Year!!

All right, well the curling season had come to an end on last Saturday. As you've probably figured out from my posts, I have really enjoyed myself this winter. It wasn't only the sport, which I loved LOL, but also the people I met. I mean, as much as I love reading and blogging, it's quite solitary and I needed something more social at this point of my life. So curling came at the perfect time :) And it definitively made winter go by faster! :)

I posted a video of me above :) What do you think? The junior team's coach - the one that got me on my mixed team - said that my form was good. He gave me a few pointers to gain more stability, something that I'll be working on next year. Speaking of my mixed team, we won our section!! So I got another beer mug for my efforts :) It says "2013 Glenmore Curling Mixed Ladder 'B' Champs." At least three of us are staying together for next year and we'll be starting in the 'A' section :) Not bad for a team that was 2 victories/5 losses after the first round LOL.

The last event of the curling season at our club is the Spring Fling. It's a tournament where members are allowed to invite non-members to participate. I had my sister and a friend playing with us :) It was a lot of fun, especially since some of my friends came to cheer us up. And to wrap everything up, there was a banquet and some awards were handed out. Guess what? Yep, I got one... I won Rookie of the Year!! Woohooo!!

It just wrapped up the season so well for me :) To tell the truth, I have heard about the Rookie of the Year award, but didn't pay much attention to it. It wasn't a goal of mine or anything. However, as the season drew to an end and the Spring Fling neared, well I started to hope :P What can I say, yes, I'm quite competitive. And this year, well as the president said, the crop of new curlers was a good one! So to come on top of it, well I'm very happy and proud of myself :)

So this is it for curling for now :) A well deserved break ahead of us, although a lot of us have already started making plans for the next season which starts in October. As I mentioned above, I'm staying with my mixed team... and I'm also going to get onto an open ladder team. The goal of this team is to participate to some tournaments for women curlers of 5 years of experience and less  :) But for now, time to relax :P

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hauling Sunday CIX

Hey everyone! :) How are you doing? Did you have a good week-end?

The past week was the last week of curling, so there was a special event at the club to which I participate.  I know I've said numerous times that I'd have a post about curling coming, but this time it's true, because something really exciting happened :)

So combined with work, let just say I've been quite busy this week. I have only one new book, but it's one that I was really looking forward to :)

What about you? What did you get this week?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby

Sigh, so once again, I've been neglecting my blog. I'm sure you're tired of my excuses - curling, work, being busy, etc. I mean, I am too ^_^; However, I have to say, at the end of the day, the real reason is I'm just not in the mood to blog. Lately, the moments I can still away from real life, I'd rather read than blog... I'm not saying I'm done with blogging, because I'm not. However, I think I need to stop pressuring myself about blogging all the time. I mean, who really expects it? And it's especially hard to stay motivate when everyone else seems to also be busy with real life or affected with the blogger blues. Anyway, all to say that I'm going to try my best to blog, but there'll probably be some quiet times :)

In the meantime, I do have a review for this week :) It's a buddy review over at Breezing Through :) Joining me is Jan from Notes from a Readerholic! Head over to Breezing Through or click here to find out what we thought of Ms Raby's debut novel, Asssassin's Gambit.

Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby
published by New American Library (Signet) in April 2013

Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.
Genre: Fantasy romance
Series: Hearts and Thrones, Book #1

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: High Risk by Vivian Arend

Oups, I was in such a hurry last Friday that I put up a review at Breezing Through and forgot to make the announcement over here ^_^; Ames and I chose to read High Risk by Vivian Arend because it took place in Canada and had an unusual premise. Head over to Breezing Through or click here to find out how we liked it :)

High Risk by Vivian Arend
published by Berkley in March 2013
LIFELINE: an elite search-and-rescue squad based out of Banff, Alberta. Specializing in high-risk rescue missions, this team goes wherever the job takes them…

Rebecca James was once revered for her devil-may-care attitude and backcountry survival skills. But ever since she lost her partner in a fatal accident, patches of her memory have been missing. And until she can recall those final, tragic moments before the accident, she can’t move on.

Since Marcus Landers was permanently injured during a mission, all his energies have been focused on his Lifeline team. When Becki—whom he had an intense affair with seven years ago—arrives in Banff, he’s inspired to reignite the spark they once had. Their mutual ardor slowly awakens Becki’s dormant, haunting memories.

New truths surface until Becki must at last confront her greatest fear. Remembering the past might mean a future without the man she loves…
Genre: Contemporary romance/Romantic Suspense
Series: Adrenaline Search & Rescue, Book #1

Hauling Sunday CVIII

Hi everyone! Hope you had a great week-end. Mine so far has been quite relaxing. We had snow on Friday. Sigh, yes, snow... However, the mild temperature yesterday and today means that it has almost melt everywhere which is nice :)

I haven't been blogging and blog-hopping as much as I've wanted lately. Frankly, work has been kicking my butt :( Training is over and I've now started cutting official slides... and the fact that the computer and machine are in different rooms means I don't have access to the computer as much as I used too. It sucks LOL. Add to that that I've started working out with my sister in the evening and yeah, routine is completely disrupted! Funny how only one more thing makes such an impact :( So I'm slowly setting a new routine and hopefully, I'll have it down to pat soon.

In the meantime, here are the new books I've acquired this week :)


The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand - Well this book is a surprise release this month! Totally wasn't expecting it. I knew Ms Florand had some self-published books in the work, but only found out in her newsletter that The Chocolate Rose came out last week! This book is meant to bridge the gap between her Paris Chocolatiers series and her next one set in Provence. So far, it's only available in ebook, but should be out in print as well eventually :)

And that's it for this week. More coming this week, hopefully!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Monthly Reads - January 2013

Wow, I can't believe we're in April already!! How did this happen?! I'm three Monthly Reads posts behind! My quest to catch up on everything just seems harder and harder to accomplish ^_^; Hopefully, with curling coming to an end, I'll have a more free time to read and blog... However, there's no way I'm going to be able to catch up if I don't cut some corners... In my last monthly reads post, I said I wanted to change the format of this post a little, to skip the summary of the books. I failed miserably last month, but let see if I can do it this time around ^_^;

So here is how I started 2013 reading-wise:

1) Your Wicked Heart by Meredith Duran: D

Amanda Thomas is overseas, working as a secretary. However, she leaves her employment to elope, but ends up jilted and without a penny to return to England. Then, she discovers that her fiancé is not who he said he was. The hero is Viscount Ripton who's looking for his cousin. He thinks Amanda is a thief and intends to keep an eye on her... a close eye.

Your Wicked Heart was a novella to introduce Ms Duran's new series. I'm not a huge fan of Ms Duran's books as they are usually misses for me ^_^; I like that she writes grittier historical romances, even though its not something I seem to be clicking with. I know, I know, I'm weird LOL. In any case, Your Wicked Heart just didn't work for me and honestly, I can't tell whether it was the story itself or me. The premise wasn't bad; however, I just didn't buy that the hero fell in love with the heroine... and so fast. I mean, he suspects her to be a thief! And just because they're in close quarters, he falls in love with her? I don't know, I just didn't buy it. Also, Your Wicked Heart is supposed to be a prequel novella, but I didn't really see how it introduced Ms Duran's new series... unless one of the characters is going to be the cousin. One last note, I was surprised how this novella was more typical historical romance than most of Ms Duran's works. Not a bad thing, but still a surprise.

2) Home for Christmas by Nora Roberts: C

Home for Christmas is an oldie by Ms Roberts which has been re-released in print in The Gift and this year, electronically in Holiday Wishes. I've passed over that book many times, but this year, I was in the mood for some holiday cheer and decided to give it a go.

In Home for Christmas, our hero is Jason Law, a prize-winning reporter, who returns home in New Hampshire. Despite his success, there's something nagging at Jason and perhaps going back to his hometown which he left as soon as he could might settle it. Plus, he needs a place to write his novel. The idea of seeing Faith Kirkpatrick, his high school sweetheart and the woman who didn't wait for him, is not far on his mind either... Except that he discovers the reason why Faith did not wait for him and it changes everything.

Home for Christmas was written in 1986, so for sure, it felt a bit dated. But otherwise, the story was okay.  Jason's attitude was a bit jerk-ish at first, wanting to show off his success to Faith, but given the circumstances, it was a bit understandable. Actually, I find the story between Jason and Faith quite sad, because the two were obviously in love, but the lack of communication made it they missed their chance to be together. I mean, you probably have guessed the reason why Faith did not wait for Jason. Anyway, Home for Christmas wasn't a wowzer, but wasn't bad either. As usual, a solid story if you don't mind the fact that it's dated.

3) All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts: B-

All I Want for Christmas is the other entry in The Gift and Holiday Wishes. This one features two mischievous twins whose wishes for Christmas is a mother... and they have the perfect candidate in mind: their cousin's teacher, Nell Davis. Nell is a music teacher and a native of New York City who has decided to give small town's life a chance. Mac Taylor, Zach and Zeke's father, is attracted by this sophisticated woman, but he's been burned once... and is not sure he wants to give love another go.

So All I Want for Christmas was my favorite story of the two and needless to say, it's in part due to the twins who were just so cute :)  However, Ms Roberts did a great job at not letting the kids take over the story, so we got to see Nell and Mac. I liked the couple as they were opposites attract. Nell was sophisticated, fun and vibrant. I would have loved to have her as a music teacher! :) On the other hand, Mac was rugged and quiet :P I also quite liked the role reversal where Mac was the single parent worried about his children. My only complaint was the romance could have used a bit more development, more communication, more togetherness. Still, an enjoyable story :)

4) Cruisin' by Sarah Mlynowski: C-

Cruisin' is a short YA story - emphasis on short - about two 17 years old girls being on a cruise. One girl is determined to lose her virginity... and rumors have it that there are vampires on the boat.

I wanted to read this short story because I've enjoyed Ms Mlynowski's previous work. Overall Cruisin' was not bad, but not great either. I just felt nothing much happened, as the whole story was about Kristin figuring out how to catch the attention of the guy she was seemingly attracted to. There was nice twist at the end, something I did not see coming so that was a nice surprise. If you want to read something short, this fits the bill nicely.

5) A Little Consequence by Amy Knupp: C-

Selena Jarboe needs distance from her family, especially since her mother has just disinherited her. Luckily, her father has willed her their beach house and that's where she takes refuge. To take her mind off things, she decides to do something she's never done: a one-night stand. Only, she gets pregnant. So she gathers her courage and informs the father, even though she doesn't expect anything from him. The last thing Evan Drake expects is to become a father and he does not react well. However, after the shock, he wants in in his child's life. Evan and his twin sister grew up without a father and it's not something he wants for his child. From there, Evan and Selena's relationship grows... but having lost her father to a dangerous job, Selena doesn't know how to deal with Evan's career as a firefighter and the dangers he faces every day.

I wanted something short and had read Ms Knupp, so I picked up A Little Consequence. Okay, okay, I was also in the mood to read about a sexy firefighter. Unfortunately, the story was more focused on Seletna than Evan... which turned out to be really unfortunate, since Selena got on my nerve for most of the story ^_^; I get that Selena comes from a privileged background, but to be so out of sort after she's been cut off. It's not that she was weak, but she was too dependent and didn't have much of a backbone. She's lucky she met the people she did, because otherwise, I don't know what would have become with her. And then, there's the fact that instead of facing issues, she runs away... and she seems scared of living. I wanted her to stand her ground, to face things, to grow, but it never seemed to really happened. On the other hand, I quite liked Evan. Sure, his reaction to the news wasn't ideal, but it felt realistic... and he sure did step it up afterwards. Unfortunately, as much as I liked him, he wasn't enough to save the book for me. Especially since I wasn't sure about the romance and their chemistry ^_^; So definitively not the best book by Ms Knupp :(

6) Wish by Kelly Hunter: B

In Wish, our heroine, Billie Temple, is a single mom who is moving away from Sydney for her new job as a pub manager in the hopes of providing a better and safer life for her 10 years old son, Cal. The only accommodation available is a rustic little house. When Adam Kincaid, the landlord, meets Billie and her son, he's not happy... because he has lost a wife and a son. However, instead of being assailed with painful memories, Adam starts living again.

I enjoy Ms Hunter's books and I was curious about Wish because it seems such a departure from her usual category romance books - no exotic locations, no intrigues, no businessmen/women. Just straight contemporary romance about two regular persons meeting and falling in love in rural Australia... And you know what? Of course, Ms Hunter pulls it off! :) I really enjoyed the story, the characters and the romance. Both Billie and Adam have their baggage and they deal with it, not letting it come in between them. I enjoyed how their relationship developed slowly. They were good, honest, hard-working people that you couldn't help but root for :) The secondary characters were also very likable and there was a small mystery aspect that was quite surprising. All in all, solid book.

7) A Breath of Scandal by Elizabeth Essex: B-
Upcoming Review.

8) Chance of a Lifetime by Jodi Thomas: B

9) The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt: C-

10) Moonlight Masquerade by Jude Deveraux: DNF

It's been a while since I last read a novel by Ms Deveraux, so when I stumbled across Moonlight Masquerade, I thought "Why not?" Especially since it was a contemporary romance and the blurb made it sounded so cute. As you can see from the grade, it wasn't really my best decision. Here were my thoughts after I decided to DNF Moonlight Masquerade:

Almost immediately, everything about the book got on my nerve or rubbed me wrong. The whole "summer romance" and the heroine not being the type of woman someone married - what a load of BS. I totally understand why she was pissed, but afterwards, to steal a heirloom?!? That was ridiculous and very dumb, especially considering that almost immediately, she got scared and kept looking over her shoulder. Also, I have to wonder, what did she hope to accomplish really? Then, needing a place to hide and a job. If you get a job, don't you need to feel paperwork in which case, you're so easy to be located?!? Then, the almost getting run over by the hero. Okay, the hero was at fault because apparently, he was checking out a caseload while driving... but the heroine wasn't totally innocent either. It's dangerous to walk on the side of the road, especially a curve!!

So yes, I wasn't liking the heroine very much. I did like the internal conflict of the hero... the fact that he was constantly being compared to his cousin, that he was miserable in his job and so on. But I stopped reading the book when he rushed to the dealership to exchange his car so it wouldn't remind the heroine - his new personal assistant - that he almost ran her over because he enjoyed the food she cooked him. Ugh. Once again, can I say, ridiculous?!?

I tried reading the last couple of chapters to see if the book got better, but nope, it didn't seem to be. I mean, the guy who dumped her came back to apologize and win her back... so what do you get? A mini love triangle. That was the end of this book for me.

11)The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter: A-

12) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: B-
Upcoming Review.

13) Double Crossed by Ally Carter: B+


Books bought: +1
Books read: -13
TBR pile: -12

Category Romance - 2
           --> (Contemporary - 2)
Contemporary Romance - 5
Historical Romance - 2
        --> (Regency - 2)
Cosy Mystery - 1
Young Adult - 2
Fiction - 1


The start of 2013 was a rough one for me in every aspect, mainly because my family and me were in Germany for my aunt's funerals :( The only bright light was that we were together and got spend time together... but otherwise, rough start. No internet and nothing to do. I tried reading, but I simply wasn't in the mood and that explains why there are so many short reads at the beginning of the month and perhaps, the low grades as well ^_^; Then once I came home, it was getting back into a routine, starting a new job and so on. And then, you add in the fact that there weren't that many new releases I was looking forward to in January and well, tough month.

Anyway, given the circumstances, I have to say I'm quite surprised at the number of reads and you know what? I'll take it :)

What about you? Good or rough start to 2013?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point by Kasie West
published by Harpercollins Publisher (HarperTeen) in February 2013
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier...

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through... and who she can’t live without.

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Contemporary
Series: Pivot Point, Book #1

The Story: Addison Coleman lives in a top secret, paranormal compound where people have advanced mental abilities. Around their tween years, each individual starts Presenting with one ability from a wide and varied range: telepath, telekinetic, mood controller, mass manipulator, perceptive, persuasive, etc., which is then nurtured to full potential. While Addie's ability is classified as Clairvoyance, it is actually a lot more specific. Called Divergence, which means extending in different directions from a common point, it allows Addie to see the future - the two possible outcomes when faced with a choice - when she does a Search. And her future is the only one Addie can see.

At the beginning of Pivot Point, Addie's parents announce that they are getting a divorce and Addie must choose with whom she wants to live. The catch is that her father has decided to leave the compound to live among the "Norms" as a FBI agent. Addie is much closer to her father, but does that mean she can leave the life she knows and her best friend Laila behind? In order to make a decision, Addie makes a Search six weeks into the future... But what she is about to learn is that even knowing what the future holds for you, some choices are hard to make... and sometimes, sacrifices are needed.

My Opinion: I was checking out the upcoming releases for Breezing Through's New Releases posts when the cover of Pivot Point caught my attention. Then, once I read the blurb, I knew it was my kind of books :)  I really love books about psychics and ones that deal with time manipulation. Therefore, Pivot Point was definitively on my radar and I am sooooo happy that I picked it up, because Ms West's debut novel turned out to be a winner!! :) Woohoo! LOL.

Needless to say, I loved Pivot Point. I thought it was an excellent book and I enjoyed everything about it - the world building, the characters, the story and particularly the writing. First, I really liked the premise of the book. It's not time traveling per se, but time manipulation and for some reasons, I like that LOL. It's just like Forgotten by Cat Patrick (which I enjoyed a lot, but haven't reviewed - oups ^_^;) where the heroine see the future, but forgets the past. I like that things can change, that they are not stagnant and as such, it just made Pivot Point interesting for me :) I also thought Pivot Point was refreshing, different because it pushed the boundaries of genres. For example, Addie's day-to-day routine was very contemporary; the paranormal compound was well, paranormal; the "time manipulation" aspect would be sci-fi, etc. It seemed to me Ms West had an idea, had a story to tell and she just did. And because she mixed so many elements, it stopped Pivot Point from being usual, stereotypical and made it refreshing :) One of the element that was crucial for that feel was the world building and I really enjoyed it. I liked Ms West's take on the mental abilities. When you think about it, these mental abilities are very akin to psychic abilities... and what Ms West did was take those and put her own spin. I liked what Ms West came up with like the Perceptives which are the ones that can change what you can perceive, usually visual, and etc. It feels like Ms West put a lot of thoughts into it to come up with the abilities and the designations and it really pays off. Also, I liked that the people have control over their abilities - to a certain extent. For example, Addie can do a Search when she wants. And because they have control over their abilities, they can improve it, hone it. Also, advanced mental abilities often translate into advanced technology and it was the case in Pivot Point. I thought it was really cool to have kind of two worlds occurring in parallel. It was like having a present and future worlds going on at the same time :) In the future where Addie chose to live with her dad, she had to get used to turning on lights, to DVD machines and so on. So it was fun and again, unique :)

As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the world building, the characters and the story. So let's talk about the characters and the story :) I actually really loved Addie and I thought she was a great heroine. What I liked most about her is how individualist she was. She was comfortable in her own skin and didn't care what other people thought, said or did. Pivot Point wasn't a story about a heroine finding herself because Addie had already done that. She knew what she liked and who she was. When she started high school in the "Norm" world, she wasn't interested in becoming popular or finding a boyfriend and again, I found that refreshing. The fact that instead, she was looking for a best friend, I think that made her relationship with Trevor ultra-sweet :) As for Trevor, I really liked him as well. I liked that he has moved on. Of course, there was some bitterness over his injury ending any potential career as a quarterback - who wouldn't have any? But it wasn't his whole world, he didn't hang onto it and that showed me how mature Trevor was. A lot more mature than many characters I've seen in sport romances ^_^; He was also very attentive and observant. That scene where he told his mother stuff about Addie, again, very sweet :) All in all, Addie and Trevor made such a cute couple and I loved reading their storyline. I also enjoyed the secondary characters a lot such as Addie's parents and her best friend, Laila. It was nice to have parents that were present and their dynamics with Addie were very interesting. As for the story, it's kind of hard to talk about it without spoiling it, but it was good LOL.

Seriously though, what stands out for me about Pivot Point is how well thought out the book was. Not only the world building, but the storyline as well as the narration. What Ms West did was basically tell two possible outcomes of a same future in one story and not only did she succeed, but she did it seamlessly, with brilliance and without confusion. I mean, I'm not even sure I manage to explain it without confusion here ^_^;, so imagine writing it! LOL. What I also loved about the story Ms West wrote is that these two possible outcomes didn't go into two opposite directions, but instead they inter-crossed. No matter what future Addie would have chosen, they were events that would have happened. True, they would have happened in a different way, but they would still have occurred. For example Addie meeting Trevor, the football match between the two high schools, the prank on Poison, etc. It was really interesting to see how the two possible outcomes unfolded, but also how they actually connected :) Another aspect of Pivot Point that made it stands out was Ms West's writing; I was really impressed by it :) The way Pivot Point is written, Addie's two possible futures are told simultaneously with alternating chapters. Not only was it was clever, but also very effective because Ms West avoided bogging the story down with re-writes of the same scenes in the different futures and the readers were always aware of the timeline. In addition, it kept the story balanced as you had equal numbers of chapters of Addie in the paranormal compound and Addie in the "normal" world. As much as I enjoyed the characters, the world building and the story, there's no doubt in my mind that it's the execution of the book - Ms West's writing and planning - that made this book a winner :)

My one and only complaint about Pivot Point is a small one and that is the rushed ending. Or actually, I should say the climax in one of the possible outcomes. It just felt a little too rushed. The foreshadowing was well done in my opinion, but it just felt that things fell into place a bit too conveniently for the climax to occur. As for the real ending, I was really satisfied. At the end of her Search, Addie had a really tough decision to make. Actually,  not so tough... Which future to choose was obvious, but it wasn't without sacrifices. And I guess that's the message of the book, knowing the future doesn't necessarily make a choice easy. Also, given that Pivot Point is the first book in a series, Ms West has accomplished a rare feat: no cliffhanger!! How awesome is that? LOL.

My Grade: A. It's really been a long time since I've read such a well balanced book where every element was so strong. Pivot Point just worked for me and I  strongly recommend it to everyone! I'm definitively going to re-read it while I wait for the next installment! Really looking forward to it :) Lucky for me though, Ms West has another book scheduled this year, The Distance Between Us, which is a contemporary YA and it should hold me off ;) I'm also very curious to see how she handles another genre :)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Hauling Sunday CVII

Hello everyone :) How are you doing? Hope everything is good with you and you had a great week-end! :) Mine was quite relaxing which was the goal. I had a big headache last Wednesday and a bit of dizziness :( I'm hoping it doesn't become a full blown episode of vertigo again, so decided to take it easy this week-end. Get in my sleep.

Anyway, as I said, not much with me, except for some new books! Yay! Finally, it feels like it's finally picking up new releases-wise. So here are my new precious :)

 I have a few more making their way in the mail. Can't wait to get my hands on them! What about you? What did you get this week?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Review: Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O'Keefe

Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O'Keefe
published by Random House Publishing (Bantam Books) in January 2013

Dallas TV morning show host Madelyn Cornish is poised, perfect, and unflappable, from her glossy smile to her sleek professionalism. No one knows that her iron will guards a shattered heart and memories of a man she’s determined to lock out. Until that man shows up at a morning meeting like a bad dream: Billy Wilkins, sexy hockey superstar in a tailspin—still skating, still fighting, and still her ex-husband.

Now the producers want this poster child for bad behavior to undergo an on-air makeover, and Billy, who has nothing to lose, agrees to the project. It’s his only chance to get near Maddy again, and to fight for the right things this time around. He believes in the fire in Maddy’s whiskey eyes and the passion that ignites the air between them. This bad-boy heartbreaker wants a last shot to be redeemed by the only thing that matters: Maddy’s love.
Genre: Contemporary romance, Sports romance
Series: Crooked Creek Ranch, Book #3

The Story: Billy Wilkins and Madelyn Cornish grew up together in a bad part of Pittsburgh. They were neighbors, best friends, high school sweethearts and husband and wife. Unfortunately, they married too young, unprepared for Billy's stardom rise in the NHL. While Billy was realizing his dreams, Maddy felt like she was losing hers along with her identity... which is why, 14 years later, she is adamant not to have Billy on her TV morning show, especially since everyone is unaware of their shared past.

As fate would have it, the situation is now reverse. Maddy is the one on her way to realizing her dream: making on the national network, while Billy's career is hanging by a thread. After a bad fight, Billy is in need of good press and an on-air makeover seems the perfect solution. Billy does not care about his image, but he will jump at the opportunity to get close to Maddy once again. Finding themselves inadvertently in the same city, Billy realizes that his one regret was losing Maddy and what they had... And he'll do whatever to get it back, even if it means a make-over. But the last thing he expected when he signed up for the gig was for his niece and nephew - with whom he had now contact - to show up, in need of a parent. Can Billy step it up for family? And will Maddy be by his side?

My Opinion: In the past couple of years, I've heard a lot of good about Ms O'Keefe and I've been meaning to give her a try. When Can't Buy Me Love - the first installment of this series - came out, I thought that would be the perfect opportunity as I do prefer longer book. However, I'm not a huge fan of hockey (I know, I'm a bad Canadian LOL) and the blurb just wasn't pulling me in. Then, everyone said how they didn't like the sister which turned out to be the heroine of the second book, Can't Hurry Love, so I skipped that one too... which brings us to Crazy Thing Called Love. Seems like the stars finally aligned for me to pick this one up and oh boy, am I glad I did!!

I really enjoyed Crazy Thing Called Love. I thought everything about the book was well-done. I really liked Billy and Maddy as a couple, but also as individuals - well at least Billy. I had difficulty connecting with Maddy because she was the main conflict of romance. She was the one who kept pulling back because she was afraid she'd lose herself again, be in Billy's shadow. The thing is, Maddy had worked so hard to change, to become a sophisticated woman and it worked. She wasn't the newly married, young adult that she was 14 years ago and therefore, I feel the risk of losing herself wouldn't have happened. But it seemed like she forgot that she wasn't the same person. I could understand at first, but after a while, it just became tiring. Just like the fact she wanted to keep their broken marriage a secret... But the thing is, it's so easy to uncover! If anyone really wanted to find out, it wouldn't have been very difficult. Nonetheless, I thought Maddy was an interesting heroine with some depth. Billy was also a good hero. He appeared to be the typical jock, but seriously, I think he was the one with the best insight on things. Maddy was too worried with superficial stuff whereas Billy really cared about what should matter in life: family and love. The changes that Billy has undergone through his life weren't as obvious as Maddy, but they were there and it made him a subtle character which was interesting and a nice change :)

The romance also worked for me. I thought Billy and Maddy, with their shared background and experience, really worked as a sweetheart couple. They did go through a lot together - not all of it painful, a lot of first times :) - and as a result, I thought it was believable that 14 years later, Billy would go after Maddy again, that he'd tried to win her back. They had really good chemistry together. The one thing I found unfortunate is that Billy was a bit too quick to forgive Maddy. I wished she had groveled a bit more, although at the end of the book, she does do the grand gesture and that was a good one :)

Reading the blurb, I really didn't expect the book to have any children in it... but I enjoyed the inclusion of the kids. It was great to see Billy deal with them and he was really good :) Also, they served as a reminder of Billy and Maddy's past and I think they really had their place in the story.

Finally, I liked that the hockey aspect of the book didn't overtake the whole story. I think it was well handled... although there's a few things that did make my eyebrow raise LOL.

My Grade: B+. Overall, Crazy Thing Called Love was a very enjoyable story and I'm really glad I read it :)

Monday, April 01, 2013

Hauling Sunday CVI

Hi everyone!! How are you doing?! It's been a while I haven't shared my life with you LOL. I thought this post would be the perfect time to catch up! The last few weeks have been quite busy work and social-wise and I didn't really know where to start, so I just didn't. While it was busy, it was a good busy though, so I can't complain... at least, not too much :P

So let see... Two week-ends ago, I went tubing with my friends :) I'm not such an outdoor-sy person, but if it's to be with my friends, I'll participate :) It turned out to be a lot more fun than what I remembered! And we ended up being so lucky because the weather was so nice :)

Then, last week-end, I ended up going to sugar shack twice :) Once with work and once with my friends. Got an overload of sugar. Of course, I could have gone only once... but seriously, everything to avoid working is worth for me. Especially since back then, I was still "practicing" and I was running out of material to practice on. The menu is always similar no matter where you go: ham, omelette, potatoes, maple syrup, maple syrup toffee, etc. But some places are better than others and the one where I went with my friends was really yummy! I have a feeling we'll definitively return :) And perhaps even this summer since they have an orchard.

Also, curling has been keeping me very busy :) I've been meaning to post about it, but I thought getting back into a rhythm for reviews was the priority. The season is almost over (3 more weeks), so perhaps I'll recap my experience then ;) I've been playing a lot lately, averaging three games a week. This past week-end, since it was Easter, we had a long week-end... and my curling club usually hosts a tournament. Since I miss a lot of events to which I wanted to participate, I decided to sign up. It's been really fun :) All in all, I'm really happy because I feel I've come a long way in a year and I'm definitively signing up for next year :)

As for work, well it finally picked up. After weeks of practicing, I finally officially started on "good" samples. And of course, to celebrate, I cut myself on the blade ^_^; Sigh, it was such a stupid mistake... a moment of inattention. Once again, I was lucky because the cuts weren't deep. Two of my co-workers had taken a first aid class and decided I did not need band-aid, they could do it...

I'm the one who added the smiley faces LOL. While they tried their best, let just say I wouldn't have been able to work with those bandages... So they had to come off LOL.

Finally, my latest addiction has been the online game, Candy Crush ^_^; I don't know why I keep getting addicted to those games... For a while, it was Bejeweled, then Tetris, Words with Friends... Lately, I've been doing some jigsaws online... and last week, our admin showed me Candy Crush on her iPhone and the next thing you knew, there I was playing it on FB. By the way, a big thank you to those who have helped me unlocked the next stages! The game is very similar to Bejeweled, but what I like about Candy Crush is that you have goals that need to be reached... and there are different stages, so it makes it more challenging. However, there's a few things I don't like about it... such as when your friends send you extra lives, how to you claim them?!

And in the middle of everything, well I'm reading :) I try to read as much as possible and I have to say, so far, 2013 feels like a good year! (Hopefully, I have not just jinxed it ^_^;) Here are the new books I've gotten since my last Hauling Sunday post:

 Not many books, but ones that I really wanted. Still, there's a lot more books that I want to buy, so I hope Chapters has a "Buy 3, get the 4th book free" sale soon! And the list just gets longer since it's the beginning of the month! Check out what Ames and I are looking forward to add to our TBR pile in April over at Breezing Through :)

What about you? How have you been? Read anything good lately? What books are you going to pick up this week?