Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monthly Reads - March 2013

So, I finally managed to write-up this Monthly Reads post... Yay me! LOL. I'm so behind, it's not even funny ^_^;

Seriously, I don't really remember the month of March ^_^; There was curling, that much I know... and tubing, I think? Sigh, time just flies by so quickly. But at least, I remembered what the books I read were about... well almost all :) Take a look!


1) Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh

Wild Invitation is a compilation of novellas that Ms Singh has written for the Psy-Changelings series over the years. It includes Beat of Temptation, Stroke of Enticement and two new novellas: Declaration of Courtship and Texture of Intimacy. As I've already read Beat of Temptation and Stroke of Enticement, I only focused on the two new novellas.

Declaration of Courtship is SnowDancer's lieutenant Cooper's love story with Grace, a submissive wolf. We are actually told a few details about Cooper and Grace pairing in Kiss of Snow and Tangle of Need, but never really got the whole story. Well now, we got it :) As much as I enjoy Ms Singh's writing... I have to say this short story didn't do much for me ^_^; Part of it is because I didn't really connect with the characters. It's hard to believe, but not every character need their own story, especially a pair that we already knew were mated. Perhaps if the story had been about a mated pair instead of how they became mated, it would have been more interesting, different. Also, Declaration of Courtship was really all about the romance between Cooper and Grace. No intrigue, no suspense... not even any development to the Psy-Changelings storyline. What makes the story stands out is the fact that Grace is a submissive wolf which we haven't seen much in the series. Otherwise, not a very memorable novella for me. C-

Texture of Intimacy is the reason why I bought Wild Invitation because it's a new novella about Lara and Walker. I love this pairing and feel they deserved their own book instead of being the secondary romance in Kiss of Snow. As such, I was really excited to read more about them... but in the end, I was still left a bit dissatisfied because I expected more, wanted more. Texture of Intimacy takes place between Kiss of Snow and Tangle of Need - i.e. after they become a couple and before they are officially married. It is basically a glimpse of what Lara and Walker's life has become together... I really love Walker's character, such a strong, quiet man. His quiet strength is just so appealing and I feel he's the glue in the Laurens family. The one who takes care of Toby and Marlee, who looks out for Sierra and on whom Judd can lean. And I'm thrilled that he has found someone who makes him happy :) However, as much as I enjoy this pairing and the characters' interactions - Walker and Lara and the kids - it would have been better if the novella had be more than just a glimpse of their lives. A conflict or an intrigue would have made Texture of Intimacy more satisfying in my opinion. C+

2) Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs: B+

3) High Risk by Vivian Arend: B-

4) A Most Improper Rumor by Emma Wildes: B-
Upcoming Review.

5) Slashback by Rob Thurman: B

6) Revenge of the Girl with a Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

After Take A Bow, I was really looking forward to Ms Eulberg's newest release... but it seems that I only really like every other book of hers ^_^;  It's not that Revenge of the Girl with a Great Personality was bad, but just not great. There was a lot of positive to the book so let's start with that first. As usual, I enjoyed Ms Eulberg's writing - she has a nice style, very easy to read and in addition, she doesn't follow a pattern in her story-telling and therefore, her stories are different from book to book :) I also found the theme - beauty pageant - to be very interesting and liked where Ms Eulberg went with it, exploring the pressure and the financial strain it puts on a family. What didn't work so well for me was the whole Lexi's make-over story. That part, I found very predictable and stereotypical :( Which is unfortunate, coming from a book titled Revenge of the Girl with a Great Personality. I was expecting Lexi to be unique, to have a personality that really stood out instead of her falling for the suddenly "getting popular with new clothes and make-up" trope and realizing that wasn't what was important. This is what took the book a few notches down for me, especially since she kept pining after a guy that didn't seem crush-worthy and as a result, lost out on a great guy. I guess it's a good life lesson for her though. I also had higher hopes about Lexi's friendships. She had two best friends, but those relationships were already established and personally, I didn't quite see the chemistry :( Overall, some mixed feelings about Revenge of the Girl with a Great Personality, but what tipped the balance is the fact that not everything has been resolved and tied up in a neat nice bow at the end and I appreciated that, made the story more realistic :) C+

7) Thrown by a Curve by Jaci Burton

Another book I have mixed feelings about. I initially wanted this book because I read the excerpt at the end of Playing to Win and liked the plot idea where the heroine is a physical therapist and finds herself in charge of the hero's - a star pitcher - rehab. On that front, I really enjoyed Thrown by a Curve. It was refreshing to actually see the jock going through physical rehab with all the work, the fear and the frustration it entails. It was more than just the "I want to get back to the game" feeling that we usually get from injured heroes. I also liked Alicia's attitude towards Garrett. She didn't coddle him like the other physical therapists :) What didn't work as well for me was the romance :( I didn't like Alicia's wishy-washy attitude... She was clearly attracted but didn't know what to do about it. There was also the fact that it made their relationship unprofessional :( I don't know, but sleeping with your physical therapist/patient is not the smartest idea. As much as they were attracted to each other, I think that both could have waited till their working relationship was over to give in. By the way, this is getting really old :( Seriously, I love romance and I get attraction and lust... However, most of the H/H we read about are adults... So can't they act like it and be clear-minded instead of always succumbing to lust? Anyway, getting back to Thrown by a Curve, I just wished Alicia had been more decisive and once they did have sex, that both bear the consequences instead of trying to back-pedal. Finally, the last thing that bothered me was how stupid Garrett was at the end, accepting someone else's help with his rehab. Seriously?! Your girlfriend has poured all her efforts in the last few months working with you to make your arm better and as soon as rehab shows results, you're jumping to another ship accepting the help of her boss without talking to her... And by the way, her boss has not consulted her either! Really brilliant - not. I also thought Alicia's boss was very unprofessional and disrespectful. C+

8) The Last Viking by Sandra Hill

I picked this book up on a co-worker's recommendation. She told me how funny the series was and I thought I'd give it a try... I guess she and I simply have different tastes ^_^; Okay, actually, she was right... the beginning of The Last Viking was indeed funny. The story is about a viking that travel through time in an unknown fashion and finds himself in 1999. So the first part of the book is about Geirolf Ericsson adapting to this new world and to technology... Cars, computers, fridges, TV, building, tools and so on :) However, once the humor wears off, so does the enjoyment of this book. While Rolf is adapting to some aspects of modern technology, he is still very much a viking and some of his thinking doesn't evolve... So he dishes out his ancient thinking at our heroine, Meredith... and guess what? She takes it! There's also the fact that Rolf believes he needs to go back to his time to help save his family and it leaves Meredith broken-heart... and she does nothing about it. Not trying to keep him, not trying to find another solution, not wanting to go with him. In the end, I found Meredith's character to be too wishy-washy and stubborn, having no spine to go after what will make her happy and weak... I didn't really like her character and it ruined the book for me :( D+

9) Also Known As by Robin Benway

I've read one book before by Ms Benway, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, and therefore was interested to read Also Known As. The thing though is I didn't really know what to expect story-wise. As it turns out, our heroine, Maggie, is a 16 years old girl who grew up soaking her parents' trade: international spies. She turns out to be a genius safe-cracker and her skills are needed for the next mission in New York City. In the meantime, she needs to blend in at her private high school where for the first time in her life, she starts making friends... Roux the ex-mean, popular girl who slept with her best friend's boyfriend and therefore is now a social outcast and Jesse Oliver, a nice, popular boy and also the son of Maggie's target. Overall, Also Known As was a quick read. I enjoyed the writing and Maggie's interactions with the others. I liked that she had a close relationship with her parents, perhaps because or their situation is so particular, and felt that the sudden awkwardness between them was very realistic. I also liked Maggie's new friends, particularly Roux. I can't deny a certain pleasure at seeing a mean girl getting comeuppance, but at the same time, Roux broke my heart because it's obvious how lonely she is :( And not just because she didn't have friends, but her parents' negligence... As for Jesse, he was charming and crushy-worthy :) While Maggie had to lie to her new friends for most of the book, I'm glad that she came clean to them and let them on when it was necessary :) As much as I enjoyed reading Also Known As, I do have one complaint and that is the storyline. I think Ms Benway was aiming for something similar to Ms Carter's Gallagher Girls series; however, she missed the mark because she lacked a solid intrigue/mystery and the thrilling aspect of it. Like with The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, I feel like Ms Benway has a good idea in mind, but isn't able to fully develop it and doesn't have a full grasp onto it. As a result, this idea which should be the foundation of the story instead becomes something secondary, almost like an afterthought. Add in the short timeline which makes everything seemed rushed and what you get is a book with great potential and missed opportunities. C+

10) Written in Red by Anne Bishop: A

11) Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

After the events of Discount Armageddon, life goes on as usual for Verity... but not for very long. She's unsure of her status with Dominic and before things can be cleared up, he comes with the news that the monster-hunting Covenant of St-Georges is sending a party to start a purge, i.e. killing everything and everyone who isn't human. Verity spreads the word out to all cryptids, but not everyone can evacuate New York City and therefore, Verity must step up to the plate and protect her city.

I think Midnight Blue-Light Special was on par with Discount Armageddon. It was a nice read and passed time, but I didn't love it or feel the need to climb the curtains because I wanted the next book so much ^_^; I enjoyed the writing and the new characters introduced, especially Uncle Mike, and liked that we got to know Verity more. And those Aeslin mice? You can't help but have a huge smile on your face LOL. I was also happy that we got Sarah's POV. She was an interesting character and I was curious about her. I thought she'd be tougher though, a bit more like Verity. However, when you think about it, she's never had to really fight given her mental powers... and she was there when Verity needed her. It was a different kind of bravery. The let-down for me with Midnight Blue-Light Special was the plot, once again ^_^; It seems like I'm being picky, but I can't help it. It's simply that there was a lot of build-up for the Covenant of St-Georges and the purge and in the end, it feels like nothing really happened. Talk about anti-climatic. It seemed to me that the Covenant were more interested in Verity than the cryptids in the city... Finally, there's Verity's realizations at the end. The first is that she is in love with Dominic and vice versa and the second, that her real vocation is being a cryptiologist and not dance. Both realizations were a bit abrupt to me. Yes, they were in the works and it was logical, but I didn't see really see what made Verity come to those revelations. C

12) You Are Invited by Holly Jacobs: B-

This was a sweet and enjoyable category romance that I picked up. The story is about Mattie Keith whose best friend, Bridget, has passed away from cancer and has left her the custody of her three kids. Mattie has always been a wanderer, moving around the country from town to town and holding odd jobs; however, she steps up to the plate and is trying to do her best for Zoe, Mickey and Abbey - 11, 8 and 6 respectively. However, Bridget's brother, Finn, doesn't make it easy. A successful surgeon, Finn feels guilty for not having been there enough for his sister. He doesn't want to make the same mistake with his nieces and nephew and therefore fights Mattie for the children's custody, believing that he can provide them a better lifestyle.

So I thought Ms Jacobs did a great job the characters and their feelings. Mattie is a great woman, changing her life around to take care of Zoe, Mickey and Abbey. Everyone is still grieving for Bridget and adapting to these major changes. As much as Mattie loves them, there are moments of resentment which is totally understandable. Then, Ms Jacobs brings in Finn who needs to rebuild his relationship with Zoe, find time for his family. That part of the book was excellent and very realistic. What didn't work as well for me was the romance. For most of the book, the focus was the family and finding an arrangement for the custody... As a result, I felt the romance between Mattie and Finn was very abrupt, sudden. Their romance wasn't gradual. It went from 0, we are fighting for custody, to 60, we are in love. I would have liked more development, more romantic scenes for the two of them. Another niggle I had with You Are Invited was the custody battle. I was annoyed with Finn for his reasoning: he had money therefore he could give the kids things that Mattie couldn't. That's true; however, what's also true was that with his job, Finn had no time and couldn't put them front and center in his life like Mattie could do. If the whole battle was really about money, I don't see why Finn couldn't help Mattie financially. Why did the money seem available only if he was the guardian? That didn't make sense to me :( Finally, as much as I found You Are Invited enjoyable while reading it, I have to take the grade down from a B to a B- because the story wasn't very memorable. Just before writing this post, I looked at the title and the author's name and simply couldn't remember the story of this book... and I'm usually really good at it. So a solid story which doesn't stand out ^_^;

13) Once Tempted by Laura Moore: C+
Upcoming Review.


Books bought: +8
Books read: -13
TBR pile: -5

Category Romance - 1
           --> (Contemporary - 1)
Contemporary Romance - 3
Historical Romance - 1
          -->(Regency - 1)
Romantic Suspense/Mystery - 1
Young Adult - 2
Paranormal - 1
Urban Fantasy - 4


Nowadays, if I hit the double digits number of reads, I consider it a good month :) Yep, I'm that easy... or desperate LOL. But seriously, 13 is not bad at all :) Pretty much what I'm used to reading I would say. There were some really good reads which I actually did manage to review... Again, yay me! LOL. Among them, Written in Red by Anne Bishop really stood out for me. Definitively the read of the month, closely followed by Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs and Slashback by Rob Thurman. Looks like I'm still on a urban fantasy kick :) Then there were a lot of okay/good reads. Seriously though, after writing this post, I'm wondering if I'm not too picky? And I'm starting to realize that they are characters readers - those for whom the H/H are the most important element in a book - and that I'm a story reader. Of course, characters are important, especially the main ones... but to me, it's more the story, plot, mystery, suspense, conflict, etc. that I remember. And if a book can have both, winner :P So yeah, March was a nice month reading-wise. Not a great one, but not a bad one either :)

What about you? How was March? Do you remember? LOL.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: Girl Least Likely to Marry by Amy Andrews

Hi everyone :) How is going? I had plans to revive my Week-End's Minis feature, but my week-end turned out unexpectedly busy... so that will go for next week. Got a new toy! A new cell phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3 :P I've been debating whether to get a new cell phone and change plan or not, but with the new rules, someone told me I should. I've already started seeing it online and in the newspapers that monthly plans are going to get more expensive, so now was the right time I think. Oh by the way, work-wise, good news! I'm done cutting blocks for a while! Yay!! Hopefully, this means I'll be by a computer more often and that my blogging and blog-hopping should increase :)

In the meantime, the print version of Girl Least Likely to Marry hits the store tomorrow while the e-version is already available online depending on where you shop. I was lucky to get this book from Netgalley and so here is my review, enjoy!

Disclaimer: I've received Girl Least Likely to Marry as an eARC from Netgalley

Girl Least Likely to Marry by Amy Andrews
published by Harlequin (Harlequin KISS) in July 2013
Talk nerdy to me...

Samuel Tucker is absolutely the last person scientist Cassie Barclay would ever date. Yes, he's gorgeous, but he's also far too cocky for his own good and thinks that Pi is a tasty afternoon treat. So when he asks her to dance at her friend Reese's non-wedding she's wondering why on earth she says yes!

Tuck is used to people assuming he's all brawn and no brain, and amuses himself by winding Cassie up. But when he finally takes her to bed, suddenly it's Tuck who can show Cassie a thing or two! Can he convince her that love and sex have nothing to do with logic and everything to do with chemistry?
Genre: Category romance, Contemporary romance
Series: The Wedding Season, Book #2

The Story: So the premise of this series is four very different women - Reese Michael, Cassie Barclay, Gina Carrington and Marnie Price - used to be roommates in college. Something happened between them and as a result, they haven't seen each other in years, but are now all reunited for Reese's wedding... except the wedding is not happening because Reese reconnected with her ex-husband. While nobody is getting married, there is still a reception and that's when our heroine, geeky Cassie Barclay, meets the hero, an ex-NFL player, Samuel Tucker... aka the groom's best man and the bride's cousin. Cassie is socially inept because hello, she's a geek! Her life is dictated by logic and she usually doesn't pay much attention to the male population, but for some reasons, she is bewitched by Tuck's pheromones. She decides that one night of sex should sate her libido... but quickly finds out that one night won't be enough. Meanwhile, Tucker is intrigued by Cassie. She's not his usual type, but they do have chemistry together... and soon, he finds himself falling for her. However, he'll need all his charm to persuade her to commit to him.

My Opinion: Harlequin KISS is Harlequin's newest category romance imprint and I really liked my first experience with it which was The One that Got Away by Kelly Hunter. Ever since then, I've been picking up Harlequin KISS books, trying to replicate that feeling... but so far, no cigar ^_^; I requested Girl Least Likely to Marry by Ms Andrews based on the blurb, hoping for a fun story, something that would grab me... and unfortunately, it didn't.

For me, the highlight of Girl Least Likely to Marry was Tucker, the hero. I liked the fact that he was more than just a jock, more than just an ex-NFL player. Yes, it was a big part of him and he still deals with the fame that it brought him - the fans, the women and the paparazzi... but what's interesting is that now that his career is over, he also knows exactly who he is. He is not lost and confused... His status as a NFL player didn't define who he was and I thought it was very refreshing :) I also enjoyed his easy-going attitude which was probably what was needed to deal with Cassie. He didn't get ruffle when she was too honest or did a social faux-pas, although I got to say, her condescending attitude, even though it was not on purpose, got old very fast. He also didn't panic when he realized he wanted more out of his relationship with Cassie and didn't pressure her either and I think that speaks of some self-confidence. All in all, a great hero :)

Cassie on the other hand, didn't work as well for me. I appreciated the fact that she was a different kind of geek heroine that readers are used to. She was less quirky and less cute. Unfortunately, her level of likability was also low ^_^; I felt she was a bit too logical, condescending and just didn't care enough. It's okay not caring about what the gossip papers say about her, but there was such a level of detachment towards everything... even Tucker. It was hard to believe she really cherished him or any of her friendships. Also, her relationship with her co-worker had an "ick" factor to it. Putting out when he was frustrated so he could perform better later? If she at least enjoyed it, you could call their relationship something close to friends with benefits... but for better focus and performance level? Ick. I found Cassie too cold and dry and would have liked more feelings from her. As a result, I didn't see the chemistry between Cassie and Tucker. Perhaps they were sexually compatible, but I think you need a bit more to be a real couple. In this case, I thought Tucker was way too accommodating. Furthermore, is it just me who thought the whole smelling bit was a bit weird? ^_^; Yes a guy can smell good and women can be attracted via that sense, but I felt in this case, it was taken a bit too far... I know it was meant to be sexy, but instead, it fell flat.

Overall, I felt there wasn't much story to Girl Least Likely to Marry and that's a pity because there was actually a lot of potential. Ms Andrews brought up a lot of issues as conflicts, but never fully developed any :( Loss opportunities.

My Grade: C-. The grade would have been a D if not for Tucker. Girl Least Likely to Marry failed to engage and impress me, but on the bright side, I did finish reading it...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TBR Challenge 2013: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

I made it! Cut it close, but nothing matters because at the end of the day, I made it!! Woohoo!! Just been a long while :) Now, if I can only keep it up... Anyway, let's forget my blogging blues and talk about the book. What Happened to Goodbye has been in my TBR pile ever since it was released. Why didn't I read it before as I usually enjoy Ms Dessen's books, I have no idea. However, now that I have her newest The Moon and More in my TBR pile, I thought it was a good time to pick up What Happened to Goodbye :)

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
published by Penguin (Viking Juvenile) in May 2011

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Series: None

The Story: For as far as McLean Sweet can remember, university basketball has always been a passion in her family, most especially the local team from Defriese University for which her father played. After all, McLean is named after one of the DB's most successful coach. However, three years ago, everything changed for McLean when her mother who was having an affair with the new DB coach demanded a divorce because she was pregnant... with twins. And because of the coach's status, the affair became very public and it resulted in a lot of gossips and talking from everyone - the neighbors, sportswriters, classmates, etc.

When her father sold their restaurant and took a job as a consultant, McLean chose to live with him, even if it meant traveling and not staying in the same town for long. In fact, she has embraced those new starts, creating a new persona each time, trying to leave her problems behind. She's been Eliza the cheerleader, Lizbeth the drama queen and Beth the perfect student. In Lakeview, their newest home, McLean intends to become Liz, but before she can put her plans in place, people are already addressing her as McLean. However, she is not sure who McLean is any longer... and in that case, how to be herself?

My Opinion: Ms Dessen is one of the favorite contemporary YA authors in blogland and after reading good reviews after good reviews, I finally caved and picked up her books. What I enjoy most about Ms Dessen's books is that her stories are never about high school drama. Instead, they are about her characters having real emotional issues and figuring things out... and What Happened to Goodbye is not exception :)

In What Happened to Goodbye, a good part of the book deals with the aftermath of the divorce, McLean's feelings and her relationships with her parents. I thought Ms Dessen did a remarkable job with that aspect of the story. It was indeed very believable. My parents have never divorced, so I've never been through what McLean was going through, but had it been me in place of McLean, I think I'd be feeling the same way. It wasn't only about the divorce either which was hard enough, but the betrayal of her mother having an affair and getting pregnant. As such, I really understand why McLean chose to live with her father. It wasn't just the hurt and betrayal, but also the sense of loyalty she felt for her him. I also think that McLean's mother handled it badly by not answering McLean's questions or talk about it with her. Even if her answers had been mundane or cliches such as "we've grown apart," it would have helped, established a connection instead of closing it. Pushing for a relationship also wasn't the best move she could have done, not when McLean needed time and distance which is one of the reasons why she chose to live with her father. Even McLean's confused feelings about not recognizing her mother since she "traded-up" were spot on. Longing for something that didn't exist anymore :( This whole part of the story was very emotional and very well-written.

Something else that I really liked about What Happened to Goodbye was McLean's parents. They definitively weren't absent parents and actually were a big presence in McLean's life. From the beginning of the book, you can see that McLean is a daddy's girl. She has a connection with him and she's trying to take care of him and while her father did miss some things, he did his best with McLean as well. Also, as strained as her relationship was with her mother, at least, McLean had one. And the reason it was so strained was because they were so close to each other before the divorce. You don't often see such closeness with both parents in contemporary YA from my experience and that's why I thought it was refreshing.

As for the rest of What happened to Goodbye, it was pretty typical Sarah Dessen in my opinion. The heroine has her issues and figure things out as she meets interesting people among which is a love interest. Let's take it in reverse order :) First, the love interest is her neighbor Dave. He's a genius boy, the son of two college professors, who wants to experience the normal life of a high schooler... which kind of landed him in trouble. I liked what I saw of David - he was a nice guy; however, he won't make the top of the list of favorite Sarah Dessen's heroes, mostly because he didn't leave a deep impression in my opinion. I feel David`s character wasn't develop enough and everything we got from him was on the surface only :(  Second was McLean's new friends. They were a pleasant cast of characters, pretty normal people and that's what McLean probably need. Normalcy. There was one among them that stood out, Deb. I wonder if she has a story and if she does, I wouldn't mind reading :) Finally, McLean's issues. Obviously, they were closely tied to her parents' divorce. I think that at any given time, everyone wants to forget their problems and start fresh... and in McLean's case, she had that opportunity three times and used it. Yes, she was running away, but at the same time, I don't think there was anything wrong with it as long as she would eventually face her problems, which she did. The only unfortunate thing about making up new personas was that McLean didn't have any real friends, nobody she let in close in the time when she really needed someone to talk to :( The thing though with What Happened to Goodbye is that readers aren't witnesses to McLean's personas. For us, this is all after the fact and what we get in the story is McLean dealing with being herself again. It was interesting, but not very exciting or engaging.

My Grade: B. I think What Happened to Goodbye could have been more powerful, but at least, all the emotions related to the divorce were spot on and lent a very realistic aspect to the book :) While it  had some flaws and was not the most memorable book by Ms Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye was a nonetheless very solid and enjoyable read :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

Wow, another week that goes by without a post ^_^; Let's hope I put an end to this right now with this review! Yes, finally a review! LOL. And you won't believe how long it took me to write this one ^_^; However, I'm glad that I've finally managed to finish it because The Rising is a book I've really wanted to share with everyone :) Beware, it's not my best review. I think I'm a bit rusty...

By the way, in case you guys are wondering, no new books this week, so no Hauling Sunday post. Now, ready? Because here we go! :P

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

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong
published by Harpercollins in April 2013
Things are getting desperate for Maya and her friends. Hunted by the powerful St. Clouds and now a rival Cabal as well, they're quickly running out of places to hide. And with the whole world thinking they died in a helicopter crash, it's not like they can just go to the authorities for help.

All they have is the name and number of someone who might be able to give them a few answers. Answers to why they're so valuable, and why their supernatural powers are getting more and more out of control.

But Maya is unprepared for the truths that await her. And now, like it or not, she'll have to face down some demons from her past if she ever hopes to move on with her life. Because Maya can't keep running forever.
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Series: Darkness Rising, Book #3

The Story: The Rising basically picks up where The Calling left off. Maya, Daniel and Corey are on their own and trying to figure things out - where to go, what to do, whom to contact... and to trust, all the while staying ahead of the Cabals hunting for them. With most of their companions captive and the world thinking they have died in a helicopter crash, their options are scarce. One thing they know for sure; they cannot keep running all their lives nor do they want to... Is there a possibility that life could go back to the way it was? If there is, Maya and her friends will do everything and reach the necessary people for it to happen.

My Opinion: I love Ms Armstrong's writing, but to be honest, the Darkness Rising trilogy hasn't been my favorite work of hers so far. So when I got The Rising, my initial intent was to take a peek and put it aside for later. However, once I took that peek, I was completely hooked - simply couldn't put it down and ended up reading the whole thing LOL.

My enjoyment of The Rising is in large part due to Maya's gang finally meeting up with Chloe's group from the Darkest Powers trilogy. This is something I've been hoping for throughout the trilogy and it finally happening, well it made my day :) I just enjoyed the interactions between the two groups as their circumstances differed a lot. On one hand, you have Maya's gang who all grew in this community of experiment subjects, being monitored without really knowing it. Now on the run, they have to rely on themselves. While most of Chloe's group has been aware of being experiment subjects and have been trying to learn and control their powers. In addition, they can rely on Chloe's aunt and Derek and Simon's father. The contrasting idea between the two projects was also interesting to me. Project Genesis which Chloe stems from was to genetically enhance powers of supernaturals while Project Phoenix which includes Maya was  to revive supernatural beings that have been extincted. But quite honestly, at the end of the day, I just wanted updates of Chloe's group as I personally preferred them to Maya's ^_^; And LOL, let just say Derek's reaction didn't disappoint :)

What I also really liked in The Rising was the resolution at the end. Maya and Chloe's groups have been on the run for a while... Is that all their future holds for them? The answer is no :) I personally really wished that they had gone to the supernatural council. I think Paige and company need to know about them, about these projects... However, as they hadn't gone to the council, I think the person they went to make the best sense: Sean Nast. With Lucas and Sean taking leading positions in the Cabal clans and the emergence of the supernatural council, you can see that things are starting to change... and it's quite exciting to actually see Sean's position in the Cabals solidifying :) Perhaps I'm biased, but I feel Sean is someone that Maya and Chloe can trust. He's the one that going to be the most upfront with them. In any case, as I said, I liked the resolution at the end. Yes, they are still dependent on the Cabals, but at least, they are no longer on the run. They can live a "normal" life with their families. Also, they are now aware of their powers and the choices they will have to make in the future. It's not perfect, but it's better than what they could hope for at the beginning of The Rising.

Now, what about the story of The Rising itself? It was okay. To me, the scenes where Maya and her friends were on the run were a bit draggy. There were also some events that I felt were a bit too convenient such as Maya's twin Ash appearance. Still, there were some good twists and those kept the story going :) And finally, Maya realized her feelings for Daniel! Finally! I've been rooting for Daniel since the beginning and seriously, he's such a good guy... How could Maya not like him? This is one thing that Ms Armstrong hasn't handled really well in my opinion in both trilogies: love triangles. There haven't really been any in her adult books and I know YA books need a bit of drama, but she's just not very good at them ^_^; Perhaps because there is such an unbalance between the two potential love interests. In the Darkest Powers trilogy, she did a better job because Simon and Derek started on an equal footing - they both met Chloe at the same time and as brothers, they knew each other so well. But in Darkness Rising? I think everyone was rooting for Daniel.

At the end of the day, I'm glad the Darkness Rising trilogy is over. Ms Armstrong did her best with this trilogy; however, I think the odds were stacked against her... There were technically two huge flaws to this series. The first one is that being an avid fan of Ms Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, I knew so much more than the characters themselves... So waiting for the blocks to fall into place and the characters to figure things out was just agonizing! The second flaw was the similarities of what Maya and her friends were going through to the events from the Darkness Powers trilogy. Yes, circumstances were different, but in both cases, the heroines found out she was a supernatural and ended up being on the run, having to figure things out. It just took a lot of the thrills out. However, I'm really excited to see what Ms Armstrong has in store for Maya and Chloe in the future! The Women of the Otherworld series is now going on hiatus and so are the characters for these two trilogies... but I would love Ms Armstrong to pick up this world again in a few years and show us what have become of Maya and Chloe and mix them with our beloved characters from the Women of the Otherworld series :) That is going to be really exciting :)

My Grade: B+. This grade is a bit on the high side, but keep in mind that I'm really a fan of the Women of the Otherworld series :) For me, The Rising was definitively the best installment out of three books in this trilogy and it was in large part due to the cross-over and the resolution :) As I mentioned earlier, once I started the book, I was hooked and that deserves recognition, hence the B+. As a whole, the Darkness Rising trilogy might not have been Ms Armstrong's best work, but the doors it opens... I can't wait to explore that!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Hauling Sunday CXIV

Okay... so this was not how I planned my come-back to blogging after my blogiversary post ^_^; My excuses are the usual: busy and my blogging muse is still on vacation, sigh. However, it's high time I stop complaining and just blog! Warning though, my reviews might come out a bit incoherent LOL.  

Before getting to my new books though, I thought I'd share pictures of what I've been up to lately :) Seriously, I don't know what it is this year, but it feels like my calendar is really full! A bit part is fun like curling, trips and gatherings... but I've got several grown-up appointments as well and that got me running. 

So a couple of weeks ago, we went horseback riding :) It was my first time!

LOL, it was a fun experience and I'll definitively try it again :) Although I have to say, I'm such a city girl!

Then last week-end was a long one so we took the opportunity to get away :P We went to a chalet about an hour away. 

We BBQ-ed... a lot of food LOL. We also did some canoe, played some games, told stories, built a fire, made cookies, chilled in a hot tub and on the side of a pool :) Another experience that I'd repeat, but if we had to go again, I'd love it for a tad longer :)

And yesterday, we went to pick berries! We got lucky and found a place that had both strawberries and raspberries ready for picking at the same time :) However, next year, we probably should go on separate occasions, because it was the first day for raspberries and they weren't as bountiful and sweet as if we've waited one more week. 

We were a bit concerned about the weather initially, but it turned out to be a beautiful day... although a bit warm. And the strawberries were oh so sweet! :)

And here are my constant in life, my new precious from the last couple of weeks :)


These were all books I was looking forward to which is why I pre-ordered them LOL. What the Duke Desires is the first book in Ms Jeffries' new series, The Duke's Men. I'm hoping this series hits me better than The Hellions of Halstead Hall. The Newcomer is the newest release by Ms Carr and one I've been really looking forward. I really enjoy the feel of Thunder Point and can't wait to read more about it :) I've enjoyed The Reckless Brides series so far and hope it will continue on with Scandal in the Night... although I don't think there isn't any cross-dressing from the heroine in this one LOL. One of my favorite debut author for 2013 has been Kasie West and she had another book out, this time a contemporary YA. Not my favorite genre, but definitively willing to give The Distance Between Us a try :) And finally but not least, Fifth Grave Past the Light, the newest installment in the Charley Davidson series! Yay! Can't wait to see what Charley is up to!

What about you? Got any good books lately?