Monday, September 29, 2008

Review: Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke

Finally, a review!! Woohoo!! LOL, I was going to review one of my August or earlier September reads, but since I got the chance to get my hand on the new Laura Lee Guhrke early and it is being released tomorrow... I figured I might as well just review Secret Desires of a Gentleman... Hopefully, my review will send you all to the bookstore :P

Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke
published by Avon in September 2008
Once Upon a Time...

Maria Martingale was going to elope. But Phillip Hawthorne, Marquess of Kayne, put a stop to those plans when he learned his younger brother intended to marry a cook's daughter. Now, twelve years later, Maria discovers that the man who holds her fate in his hands is none other than the haughty gentleman who sent her packing - and he's as handsome and arrogant as ever.

Happily Ever After?

Always the proper gentleman, Phillip will do anything to protect his family from scandal, and when Maria dares to move in right next door, he knows scandal will surely follow. She is as tempting as he remembered... and the more he sees her, the harder it is for Phillip to keep his own secret desire for her a secret...

Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Girl-Bachelors series, book #3

The Story: As the daughter of the Hawthorne family's chef, Maria Martingale grew up with the Hawthorne brothers, Phillip and Lawrence. Not long after the death of her father, at 17 years old, Maria and Lawrence planned to elope; however, they were stopped by Phillip and Maria was sent away with a draft of 1000 pounds and the promise that she would never see Lawrence again. Meanwhile, Lawrence was sent to America on an extended trip.

Twelve years later, Maria has become a pâtisserie chef. With the backing of her best friend, newly heiress and duchess of St. Cyres, Prudence, Maria can now realize her dream: open a pâtisserie. After months of searching, Maria finds the perfect shop... but who lives next door? Not only Phillip whose estate house is being renovated... but Lawrence who has just returned from America. Phillip Hawthorne can't help but be suspicious... is this really coincidence? Or does Maria has a motive?

My Opinion: To begin with, I'd like to say that I had my doubts about this book when I first read the synopsis... for many reasons. First, I was quite disappointed with the last installment in the series, The Wicked Ways of a Duke. and didn't really know what to expect of this book? Would it be as good as And Then He Kissed Her? Or would it flop like The Wicked Ways of a Duke? Then, there was the story plot line. From the synopsis, it is obvious that the hero is Phillip... So how would this turn out to be? I mean, the Marquess stops his younger brother from eloping with the girl, but ends up falling for the girl? Hmmmmm... can I say that I see conflict? So yes, I did not know what to expect and it worried me a bit... However, I wanted to read this book for Maria whom we've met in the first two books.

I should never had doubted. Ms Guhrke pulled it out admirably and I simply LOVE Secret Desires of a Gentleman!! Really, this book was great and I devoured it in half a day. So where to start? I definitively think that one of the reasons why this book was so good was the heroine. Maria Martingale is everything I look for in a heroine in a romance, be it historical or contemporary. She's a strong woman, definitively knows what she wants and doesn't let people step over her. She can handle herself and others, is witty and clever and not unreasonable. I liked how she work hard to attain her goal. She wasn't as dreamy or naive as Prudence and wasn't as hopeful as Emma. It was enjoyable to see how confident she was in her skills as a pâtisserie chef and how hard she fought for recognition. One of my favorite scene was when she was arguing with Phillip's chef, LOL. I loved her character and she's one of the reasons why the book was so enjoyable.

Phillip Hawthorne is another story however. For the first quarter of the book, I wasn't sure what to think of him. He's very different from most heroes and he's the complex character between the H/H. I think that Ms Guhrke came up with a very interesting hero in Phillip Hawthorne and one that wouldn't work in any kind of storyline. At first, I thought that Phillip was insufferable and I didn't like his assumptions about Maria... I mean, let's face it, they were less than flattering. However, the more I read and the more I got attached to Phillip. As I said, he's very different than most heroes I read, especially historical heroes. He's not a rake and wasn't involved in any scandals. Actually, his past with women was only briefly mentioned... He didn't make me swoon either. He's actually quite snob and haughty, but at the same time, very noble and honest. The more you read, the more you got to learn about him... and you learn things that explained his behavior and his actions. Of course, he could be a jerk at time... the whole "We are peers and you are 'normal'" speech got annoying, but at the same time, I understood why he was clinging to it. Phillip was raised a certain way, was thought to think a certain way and he did what he believe would be good for everyone. In the end, I really liked Phillip and was glad that he was different :)

Aside from the H/H, what made this book so interesting is how Ms Guhrke handled the whole situation between Maria, Phillip and Lawrence. I mean, this is an awkward situation and could have been very disagreeable to read... however, instead of going with the typical direction: the resentment and anger... Ms Guhrke surprised me. Turns out that Maria and Lawrence have both figured out that what Phillip did was the best... and they did not resent him, Lawrence in particular. It was fun to see Lawrence actually reuniting everyone, meeting Maria as his longtime childhood friend instead of as the girl who he planned to elope with. Lawrence character was very fun, very cheerful and he relieved a lot of the tension in the book... without being comical. Hey, you have to give the author credits for doing so :P

Finally, I enjoyed the storyline and the writing style. I really liked the flow of the storyline and the events that happened. Nothing felt too precipitated. Ms Guhrke took her time setting up everything in place and it paid off. Readers really got to know Maria and Phillip and I think this was necessary for the book to be so enjoyable. What really got me hooked was all the arguments between Maria and Phillip, their banters and sarcasms. It was great... it was like seeing two friends who have parted on the wrong foot being reunited... which is what Maria and Phillip are essentially. You know that familiarity between two persons that comes from long years of friendship... So they know exactly what annoys the other and can use it to their advantage... they also understand how the other is thinking and what s/he is planning... the reminiscence of childhood adventures. Of course, the writing was top notch quality, so it didn't hurt :)

My only complaint was the ending. I thought the ending was a bit rushed and a few extra pages sure wouldn't have hurt. In fact, I think it would have brought some more closure... the way Secret Desires of a Gentleman ended, it seems a bit too open to my taste. Also, I'm not sure about Phillip's public declaration. Personally, I think that what he said didn't need to be in front of a public. As long as the words were being said, it was enough. One thing that I liked though is you could feel how hard it was for Phillip to say the words out loud, but he said them nonetheless. Very romantic :) So the ending wasn't bad, but I don't think it was the right ending.

Few thoughts before finishing up this review... I really like the time period Ms Guhrke is exploring in the Girl-Bachelors series. Most historicals take place in the early 1800s, but this series is taking place in the late 1800s and it's really astonishing how few decades change the feel and ambiance of a historical romance. I have to say that I like this time period, because women had more freedom and options. I'm not a feminist, but I have to admit that it's nice to see that women could be something other than a maid, governess or lady companion :) Also, I thought Secret Desires of a Gentleman had a very "contemporary" feel to it and I liked it :)

In my review of The Wicked Ways of a Duke, I complained about the series baiting. In Secret Desires of a Gentleman, I believe Ms Guhrke did a fine job. We were again reminded of the girls who are still living at the girl-bachelors pad; however, none had an active role in this book. None really stood out either and I have to say, I like it that way. Emma and Prudence from the first two books both appeared in this book, but neither stole the show... and for some reasons, I'm happy that none of them were pregnant yet. Overall, I think that Ms Guhrke balanced it out very well... and I'm now really looking forward to the next installment of the series. I do hope though that the next hero won't be a peer... I mean, what are the chances that 6 regular girls all land marquesses, earls and dukes?

My Grade: A-. One of the best historicals I've read this year :) I would have given it an A if it had the perfect ending :P

ps - Can someone explain this to me? So, Secret Desires of a Gentleman, Mr. Cavendish, I presume? and Seduce me at Sunrise are all historical romances from Avon. So how come they are 7.99$, 8.99$ and 9.99$ (CDN) respectively? I mean, isn't that a bit unfair, the difference of price between them?

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Hi everyone!

If you're visiting in the next few hours, my template might be different or acting weird... that's because I'm choosing a new one :) However, I'm very picky with the colors ^_^;; So might take a while before I settled...

as you can notice, i've already lost my links... I really hate those widgets. Ugh.

EDIT: So what do you all think? It wasn't as bad as I imagine... I chose a template, but ended up re-doing the banner and changing the whole color scheme, LOL :) But I like it now :) So in the next couple of days, if you find a bug or you have difficulty reading or something, just let me know :)

Oh, and anyone knows how the tabs works? (the HOME, EDIT, etc?)

EDIT 2: Yes!! I think I got it for the tabs - the words appearing correctly :) Now, I just need to figure out how they work... Holly?

Also, anyone knows how to change the words at the end of the blog so they could show Previous and Next instead of "Postagens" blabla?

I'll do better!!

I'm still alive!! Yes, I'm still alive and I've been a bad blogger :(

I'm sooo sorry! I can still say that work is kicking my butt, which is partly true... but seriously, it's becoming ridiculous :( I hate being a bad blogger :( On the other hand, LOL, I guess it shows that I used to do most of my blogging at work before! :) Anyway, I'll try really hard to do better in the few coming weeks!!

Work is going a bit better, mainly because we haven't done RNA extraction from urine :P Instead, we've been doing other stuff and that's going well. I do feel like the prof is relaxing a bit in my presence. Even my friend has remarked on it. Hopefully, it's a good sign. I'm still a bit anxious every time we view the results though... wishing, please, please, please that there are no contamination LOL :P

So I haven't been blogging, but I've been blog-hopping... Although it's been quiet. If I haven't commented, I'm sorry... but be assured that I've read the posts :P I know what it's going, because like Rosie, I'm too afraid to be missing out to not read my Google Reader at least 3 times a day :) Also, I'll try to be updating my sidebars and so on shortly :)

So definitively look forward to some reviews (finally!!) in the future and some changes :) and LOL, just to be actually talking about books and romance... guess what I got my hands on this week-end?

Oh yay!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ugh, Lab notebook...

Hi everyone!!

Sorry I've been MIA :( I miss you all!!!! How have you been?

Me, I've been quite busy. Work is taking a huge chunk of my time :( Still lots of ups and downs, however, at least, last week, I did something different by the end of the week :) So that was nice!

Otherwise, I've also been busy... my parents were on a trip, so me and my sister have been eating out and going out a bit... Nothing over the top, but we've been coming home late (i.e. about 8pm). Then, I'm just too exhausted to blog :( On Friday, I went out with some friends and again, last night.

However, what really took me out this week-end from blogging was... last notebook ^_^; Ugh. So, my new boss did emphasize the importance of a lab notebook... but since we've been doing lots of practice and not real experiment, I didn't bother. In addition, whenever we extracted RNA and DNA from clinical urine samples, we took notes on the record sheets... so on Friday, my boss comes to me and tells me: "Oh, and I'd like to go through your lab notebook on Monday. Just to see how you're doing and to give you recommendation."

I actually smiled and nodded, but in my head, I panicked... because I didn't keep any notebook!!! So I spent the week-end making notebook for 3 weeks. I seriously thought those days were over. Sigh.

Anyway, I still found time to read two books this week-end... I seriously need to get back in a rhythm... but at least, I still blog hop :)

So how have you been doing? I think it's been a bit quiet lately on blogland. Hope everyone is doing well :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TBR Day: A Kiss To Remember and One Night of Scandal by Teresa Medeiros

Yes, again, you guys get a 2 for 1 review!! :) Can't help it... if the sequel of a book is out, you can be sure I'm going to try to find it and read it right away :) So here we go for this month...

A Kiss To Remember by Teresa Medeiros
published by Bantam Books in May 2002 (HC in July 2001)

If she is to keep a roof over her siblings' heads, rector's daughter Laura Fairleigh needs a husband. When she finds a mysterious stranger sleeping in the forest with no memory of his name or his past, she decides to claim him for her own. Little does she know that her fallen angel is really Sterling Harlow, the notorious rakehell also known as the "Devil of Devonbrooke".

Too late, she realizes she has given him the right to claim not only her home, but her body and her heart. Now she must win the devil's heart to save both their souls.
Genre: historical romance
Series: Fairy Tale series, Book #3

The Story: The book opens with young Sterling Harlow excitedly waiting to see the Duke of Devonbrooke. However, the visit does not turn out as he expected as the Duke of Devonbrooke has come to "buy" himself a heir to the title. After seeing the exchange of money between the Duke and his parents, needless to say Sterling grows cold towards his parents, especially his mother who, in his opinion, betrayed him. However, it's easy to ignore his mother when she's alive, but much more difficult to ignore her death... and so Sterling finally returns home... Only, he falls from his horse, hits his head and gets amnesia.

Laura Fairleigh and her siblings were taken in by Sterling's mother after her husband's death. Laura has a very poor opinion of Sterling, since he never responded to his mother and never came to visit her, even when she was sick. In her will, Sterling's mother gives the house to Laura, but only if she gets married before her twenty-first birthday. Laura has been courted by many in the village, but none she liked... but she is now in a pinch, until she finds the perfect man... who's lost his memories.

My Opinion: I actually read this book after reading One Night of Scandal which is the sequel... I didn't realize that I had it... Anyway, I liked the story. I thought it was refreshing that for once, it's the hero that has amnesia. I really liked Sterling and actually, understand his feelings about been "sold." I felt like his mother let him go for his own good, because he'd get a better education and a better life than what she could provide... however, it doesn't soften the blow for Sterling that money was exchanged. It don't blame for Sterling for his behavior towards his mother... He was too young to fully understand himself, plus the Duke wasn't a nice man... and well, Sterling's a man... you know how rigid they are in their thinking. In that sense, I thought that Laura was a little bit too goody-two-shoes. I can see her view of it, but I don't think that she should be that strict with her belief.

The whole storyline was interesting, although I wished the part where Sterling had amnesia would have lasted longer. I wished he would have realized his real feelings towards Laura before he dragged her back to London and be all, "You tricked me... but hey, I was already considering to take a bride to get a heir..." Wasn't very romantic ^_^; I applaud Laura's guts to try to carry on a charade like she did and lucky for her, it really turns out well...

My favorite parts were when Laura's younger siblings, Carlotta and George, came up with plans to kill Sterling to get rid of Laura's husband LOL :) It's very cute of them actually, since they feel their older sister is marrying for their sake - to keep the roof over their heads - and she shouldn't sacrifice so much :)

My Grade: B. Although I enjoyed the story and liked the characters, I think that my reading of this book was affected by reading One Night of Scandal. I think I would have enjoyed A Kiss to Remember better if I've read it first. I really liked the older Sterling and Laura and had a bit of difficulty associating their story to their older selves.

One Night of Scandal by Teresa Medeiros
published by Avon in August 2003
Carlotta Anne Fairleigh has spent most of her girlhood savoring the thrilling pleasures of Gothic novels. She dreams of writing her own story of murder and mayhem, but when a bungled spying attempt ignites a torrid scandal on the very night of her debut into London society, she finds herself cast as the reluctant heroine in a real-life drama. Her reputation in ruins, she finds herself whisked away to a forbidding mansion on the rugged coast of Cornwall by Hayden St. Clair, the man society has dubbed "the Murderous Marquess." The intrepid Lottie refuses to be intimidated by the ghost of his first wife, who is rumored to wander the mansion by night, wailing for justice. It is Hayden himself who proves to be the greatest danger. For only by surrendering herself to him, body and soul, can she discover if the seductive pleasures of his touch will bring her chills or thrills, doom or delight.

Genre: historical romance
Series: Sequel to A Kiss To Remember

The Story: Carlotta is finally having her debut, a few years late. Dubbed as the Hertfordshire Hellion, Carlotta is more interested in becoming a gothic romance author than proper decorum... which is why the night of her debut, having learned that the Murderous Marquess Hayden St.Clair is in residence next door, she sneaks out to get a good look.

Ever since he killed one of his best friends in a duel, Hayden St. Clair has exiled himself to the country... Looking for feminine companionship, he comes back to London, but is unable to go anywhere because of the gossips. When he catches Carlotta outside his window, he mistakes her for a courtesan... which leads them to a compromising situation. Afraid that her brother-in-law will die in a duel against Hayden, Carlotta ends up marrying the Murderous Marquess. However, many surprises await her in the country...

My Opinion: This was a great book in my opinion. I enjoyed Carlotta's character immensely. She's lively and witty and you can only laugh at all the situations she got into. Hayden was also an enjoyable hero... Not one that makes you swoon, but almost. The mystery clouding over him is intriguing and I'm glad that the story was indeed tragic.

I enjoy Carlotta and Hayden's relationship. Got really drawn into it and the way they met, just priceless. One thing that I didn't like is the big misunderstanding at the end. I think that after all they went through and all the ground they made up, that misunderstanding was too much. I don't see why Hayden would feel that way.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters... Loved Sterling and how he tried to protect her... very heart-warming... that's why seeing his younger version left me a bit cold. I do think however that Carlotta's best friend, Harriet, was a bit superfluous.

In addition of great characters, Ms Medeiros delivers a great story in this one. I thought it was original and fresh. There was also a lot of depth and lots of things that happened. The plot actually had some surprises, so it wasn't at all predictable. All in all, very solid book :)

My Grade: B+. I truly enjoyed this one and you should all give it a try. I'm just sad that George doesn't have his own book :(

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random thoughts...

Hi everyone!! No book review today, but I'll try to have one up tomorrow :) Still adjusting to the work schedule... I haven't been reading much. It's as if I have difficulty focusing on what I'm reading, so it goes pretty slow :( I'm reading Jinx by Jennifer Estep right now and I like it so far, so I hope to be able to finish it by tomorrow.

Work is pretty busy. We're still doing RNA extraction from urine... So far, we have solved all the problems we've encountered. Seriously, it's looking promising for the future. I have to admit that I'm ready to do something else though... However, it won't be for tomorrow.

This morning, I looked at the new releases for the upcoming months... Is it me or there isn't much? There's 2 books I'm looking forward to at the end of this month (the new Laura Lee Guhrke and Julia Quinn)... Few more in October (Nalini Singh's anthology, Living with the Dead by Kelley Armstrong among them) and another few more in November (Demon Bound by Meljean Brook!! A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr!!) It just seems so few... :(

Few more random thoughts I'd have these past few days... I'm enjoying watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada :) LOL, I like the US show and I'm happy Canada now has a version too :) That means I get to watch 2 different seasons a year :) That's great... So far, the dance is pretty good... I guess Canadian talents have been waiting for a long time... unfortunately, nobody has really caught my attention yet... No VERY cute guy in sight yet... and I'm not sure how I feel about Emmanuel Sandhu participating... it's kind of weird LOL :) (for those who don't know Emmanuel Sandhu, he was a figure skater. Two times national champion... He always had funky -weird routines and I think he's very arrogant... ah well, we'll see how it goes I guess).

My dad has been following the US elections for a while :) I'm not really interested in politics and I still don't understand a lot of the american system... LOL, no offense :P So guess what? Canada is also going in election-mode... boooo!! It seems like we do so much voting in the past years... if it's not federal, it's provincial... if not, it's the mayor... seriously, it just seems like we've been voting every year. Anyway, it's funny that we've spent the past year following the battle between Democrats and Republicans... and it turns out that Canada is going to find out the new Prime Minister first :) Yep, elections in Canada only last one month :) Thanks god, that's all we can take, LOL :)

So yeah, that's it for me so far... by the way, is Keishon TBR Challenge this week?!?!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ups and Downs, a real roller-coaster...

The post title says it all. Work is a real roller-coaster... sometimes, everything is going well and others, it goes all wrong. This is the second week-end that I had to come in to work on Saturday. I don't mind, but I'd prefer to stay home and read... so I hope this is the last time in a while. At least, we're figuring things out... It's just soo frustrating when one day it works and the other, it doesn't. Also, he keeps comparing the results to last year... At least, my comfort is that the professor is not doing much better. Aside from the experiment not working, everything is good though... I'm getting used at managing the lab and ordering stuff. Seriously, who would have thought ordering stuff was sooo complicated! Also, the prices are insane!!! It's ridiculous!!

So as usual, when I'm not happy, I went to cheer myself up by buying books :) It also helps that I had 5$ off coupons :) Let see what are my new treasures...

- Jinx by Jennifer Estep
- Line of Scrimmage by Marie Force
- Melusine and The Virtu by Sarah Monette
- You Had Me at Good-bye and That's (Not Exactly) Amore by Tracey Bateman
- A Lady Betrayed by Nicole Byrd
- The Wedding Challenge by Candace Camp
- The Dangerous Duke by Christine Wells
- Crossfire by Joann Ross
- Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh
- The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman
- Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake
- The Horsemaster's Daughter by Susan Wiggs
- To Catch a Thief by Christina Skye
- If There Be Dragons by Kay Hooper
- Sweet Trouble by Susan Mallery

So those are all the books I've bought since I started working at the lab... there might have been some more... I can't remember at the moment and I'm not home. Some I've already read, others that might linger in the TBR pile... LOL, what can I say? I just love buying books :P

What about you? What were your recents buys?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Revenge is sweet :)

Okay, more about work... I'm sorry I'm dumping all this on you! Really... but this time, it's good :)

I don't know if it's really revenge, but I feel that way. So I was pretty down on Tuesday :( On that day, we started getting patient samples of urine and extracted RNA from it. Everything went well, we recovered RNA and all... However, the purity ratios for all 3 samples were low and that makes them unusable in some cases. Also, if the RNA is not pure, then the concentration is probably not corrected as well because there's probably some junk... that means I actually have less than I think... So after showing the results to the boss, he was all like: "Oh, it's not up to standard yet! This is inadmissible." I seriously felt like he was criticizing my techniques... especially since he said he would do a sample on Wednesday morning to "show" us again how it's done.

So yesterday, he goes around and do the RNA extraction... and I have to admit that deep down, I was hoping he'd get bad ratios as well... Just to show him that it wasn't me. Well low and behold, he gets an even worst ratio than me. HA!!!!! In your face!!! Of course, I didn't tell him that, but I was really happy :) Then, guess what he said? "I guess I can stop blaming you." Well hell yeah you can stop!! Shows him right! Then, we tried doing a re-precipitation with ethanol... to see if it would increase the purity and it did :) So yeah, I'm in a much happier mood now and I hope he'll start changing his views now :)

You know, I do a lot of complaining about the job, but it's really not that bad. I like the work that we're doing... I like that it takes me half the time to get here and get home than it used to. I like that I get to save on gas :) I like that I actually even do a little bit of exercise walking up and down from the parking to the hospital... and I've already found good food (their scones, miam!!! and cheap!! Fruitbar!!!). Even the boss is not that bad, I mean, he's quite nice when you talk to him and all... it's just his confidence with me... I hope that this episode will improve it...

Gotta go get my samples :) Later!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Review: Price of Desire by Jo Goodman

Today is the first day we received urine sample from actual patients!! Yay!! That means we're doing the real thing! LOL :) I think I'm going to like Tuesdays in the future, LOL :)

**END OF THE DAY: forget what I said above... I'm once again annoyed at the professor. Sigh, I think there's going to be a lot of up and down in this work relationship. Sigh.

Anyway, I went to the bookstore to cheer me up and bought a couple of books :) More on those later :) Right now, let's go to my review :)

Price of Desire by Jo Goodman
published by Zebra Kensington in August 2008
Olivia Cole is devastated to learn that her ne're-do well brother has promised her to the operator of a London gaming hall as payment of his debts. Olivia accepts her fate-even if it means that her reputation will suffer from living among rouges and gamblers. But when she meets the sexy and mysterious Griffin Wright-Jones, the Viscount of Breckenridge, Olivia has more than her good name to worry about-for he rouses in her wanton thoughts she's never dared entertain-until now...

Griffin wears the scars of his life on his striking face, Although he wants Olivia like no other woman before, he doesn't force her to share his bed-a difficult task considering how beautiful she is. But with each passing night Griffin and Olivia's resolve weakens until finally they take their greatest gamble on one night of reckless pleasure...

Genre: historical romance
Series: loosely connected to If His Kiss is Wicked

The Story: After having been on her own for a few years, Olivia Cole, disowned by her father, takes refuge with her younger brother Alastair. Unfortunately for her, the younger man has contracted a debt of 1000 pounds at Breckenridge's gaming hell and has given up Olivia as a marker. Having no choice, Olivia stays at the gaming hell, waiting for her brother's return... however, as time passes, she wonders if he will. Meanwhile, attraction is growing between Olivia and Griffin; however, Griffin knows not to push. Olivia has secrets and he intends to find out what they are...

My Opinion: I know a lot of bloggers that love Jo Goodman's books and that's why I keep trying them. I enjoyed One Forbidden Evening and If His Kiss is Wicked enough that I only hesitate a little before buying it. Finally, it's Rosie who made me picked it up. Unfortunately, Price of Desire didn't do it for me :( Mainly, I thought that the beginning was extremely slow. In my opinion, not much happened for half the book. Yes, Olivia and Griffin got to know each other better and while I'm happy they didn't surrender to lust for so long... there just wasn't any action. Oh sure, there was the gentleman villain who attacked and almost raped Olivia... but it wasn't difficult to guess who sent him.

To me, the book only picked up when Olivia and Griffin finally became lovers. Starting for there, you zipped through the end quite rapidly. I think that with the shift of relationship between the main characters, there was a change of mood as well. Sure, there were some dark moments, but I thought that it became more playful and happy... then just boring ^_^;

In addition, Ms Goodman's style is always an obstacle for me. I think that the problem is a lack of familiarity in the writing style as well as between the characters. It makes the writing style very polite and a bit cold and I have difficulty reading such style. It doesn't help that Ms Goodman keeps surprising me with darker topics in her books :( She did it in A Season to be Sinful and A Forbidden Evening. Of course, I wouldn't mind to be surprised if it was in a more joyful manner instead of these dark topics :( Seriously, I don't think anybody likes reading about sexual abuses, but those are realities in life and therefore happens in books. I'm aware of it and I don't avoid reading such books... Thing is, the way Ms Goodman incorporates these topics in her storyline, I always feel like she's taking me by surprise - seriously, I don't expect them... although, it's true that there were big hints in Price of Desire.

Price of Desire is not a total loss however. I liked Olivia and Griffin and all their layers. They were two highly intelligent and clever characters who found ways to survive the circumstances. Also, credits go to Ms Goodman who took a common plotline - the heroine being used to pay a debt, and turned it into something different and less typical. I did think that there were some loose ends and some issues that Ms Goodman could have resolved more clearly, but there were minor in comparison to all what happened.

My Grade: C... Personally, I think it's going to take a while before I picked up another of Ms Goodman's books even if I have enjoyed some of her books in the past... The writing style just doesn't suit me :(

Monday, September 08, 2008

Review: Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake

Had this book for a few months already... I can't remember why I bought it... I know that it got some good reviews, but I told myself I wasn't going to start another urban fantasy series... then, for some reasons I bought it. Anyway, the reason why I picked it up from my TBR pile was Kris' review at Book Binge :)

Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake
published by Eos in July 2008

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker—an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed... and may be all that prevents her doom.

The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt... or be hunted.

Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Dark Days series, book #1

The Story: Mira is a 600 years old vampire and is the enforcer of a domain in Savannah. Recently, Danaus, a vampire hunter, has been killing vampires in her domain. The book opens with Mira meeting Danaus in a fight, but she doesn't kill Danaus... turns out Danaus is seeking her out for more information on the naturi. The naturi are some sort of elves/faeries who seek power from the Earth. As a result, they want to get rid of nightwalkers and humans, because these two races weaken the Earth. 500 years ago, the Ancient vampires along with Mira were able to trap most naturi along with their queen in another dimension, sealing the door. Now, the naturi wants to break the seal and in order to do so, have to have 3 sacrifices at given times and places. Danaus brings proof that the naturi have already achieved the first sacrifices... Mira has no other choice than to make an alliance with Danaus and find the three Ancient vampires - Sadira, Mira's maker, Jabari, her one time mentor and protector, and Tabor, a 3000 years old vampire - to reform the triad who have sealed away the naturi... Unfortunately, nothing goes according to plans and Mira learns things that she'd prefer to forever bury in her memories...

My Opinion: Nightwalker was an interesting read and my feelings for it are a bit mixed up. The story, world building and characters are all very complex which make things interesting... but also very confusing. Like every first book in a series, Nightwalker is filled with world building information, introductions and settings, but it was too much in my opinion. What made it difficult is that Mira and Danaus move around a lot in this book... they don't just stay in Savannah, but actually travels to Egypt and London. So Ms Drake spends the first quarter of the book introducing Mira and her surroundings and entourage to the readers, only to yank her out of it and drop her in foreign locations and starts over the introduction and setting. The worst to me is that the book doesn't wrap everything up nicely and Mira doesn't return to Savannah... so I don't know, I kind of feel that time was wasted on the setting... and at the same time, I'm curious to know what happened after Mira's departure. In addition, I thought the Nightwalkers as a race, wasn't properly introduced. What does the Nightwalker included? What kind of shapeshifters are there? What are the powers of a vampire? You know, like basic information...

I think that was my main problem with the book... too much world building and lots of background, but not enough basic information. I definitively think that Ms Drake could have balanced it better. The worst is I'm sure a lot more is coming in the next book. Otherwise, Nightwalker was quite good and interesting. I enjoyed Mira's character, although there's still lots of mystery. She's tough, but at the same time, vulnerable. I like that she has a lot of depth and many faces. We were introduced to Mira the Enforcer, Mira the businesswoman, Mira the vampire. I'm intrigued with her past. I'm still not sure if we know the real Mira though... Danaus is still a complete mystery and I can't wait to find more about him. I do feel there's going to be a relationship developing between Mira and Danaus and that will be interesting. From what we've read so far though, Danaus is mostly the typical hunter hero... You know, strong, dark, straight-minded... can't wait to see the ice breaking. I enjoyed the other characters as well and like Mira, there's a lot of depth. Not very stereotypical and I want to find out what are their motives and their true nature.

The storyline was quite interesting, but it's very complex and I had difficulty to follow sometimes. The author wasn't able to maintain the pace throughout the book either, so some parts were slow-paced and felt draggy a little. I have to admit that at one point, I almost put down the book and decided not to finish it. Instead, I jump to the end and read a chunk... then, came back to the missing section. Although I found it a bit difficult to read, I was still too curious and drawn in to put it down and not finish it.

A warning to romance fans... this is urban fantasy, so there's no romance between Mira and Danaus. There will probably be one in the future, but not now. That's why I didn't mind Mira having a side-kick... although I did think it complicated the story for nothing.

My Grade: B- . It was interesting enough to keep me reading and probably make me pick up the sequel. Although you have to force through it... it's not a book where I was enthralled during the whole read.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Legend of the Condor Heroes...

Legend of the Condor Heroes aka LOCH :) That title brings back great memories for me and a lot of nostalgia. Isn't it weird how one person goes through so many phases/stages in her/his life? In my case, there's always been two constants in my life: reading and Chinese tv series... especially kung fu tv series :)

In my teens, I was sooo obsessed with kung fu tv series that it prompted me to learn vietnamese so I could read kung fu novels... and for 5 years, that's all I read. Kung fu novels. Anyway, I'm not going to bore you guys with details and so on... I just wanted to share these clips :)

Legend of the Condor Heroes was written by Jin Yong aka Louis Cha. This guy is probably the most popular kung fu novelist ever and has written 14 novels... All of them have been adapted to the tv screen, but some more than others. Legend of the Condor Heroes is one of them. It's kind of funny... it was adapted in 1982, 1994, 2003 and again in 2008... My obsession with kung fu series has lessened in the past few years (ever since I started reading romance novels... go figure, LOL) and so I haven't watched the 2003 version. It's not just that my passion lessened, but I didn't like the actors... and I'm a huge fan of the 1994 version. However, I've stumbled across the opening credits for the 2008 version and although it's a "pop idol" version of the tv series... I don't know, I'm tempted... What do you think?

*EDIT on September 14, 2012: I removed the themesongs videos due to storage issues*

So what do you think? Should I give a try to the 2008 version? I have to admit, that the song is catchy, even if it's pop song LOL :)

Have to say, I enjoyed watching the opening credits ;) Sometimes, I go on youtube and just watch them... In the case of Legend of the Condor Heroes, it's fun to see the evolution of make-up, costums and special effects LOL :) Although, I wish there was more hand to hand combats in more recent versions. By the way, for those who will watch all the clips, do you see some constants? LOL :) Since it's adapted from the same novel, for sure there is going to be similar events... but it's fun to see it in each version :)

Go Andy Murray!!! and a rant about work...

Hi everyone!! How have you been doing all? Sorry for the lack of posts!! I really miss you all, but I'm still adjusting to my new schedule at work. Since I start later, well I don't wake up as early and that means I come home later... and instead of blogging, I read. I have a bunch of reviews that I have yet to write... I'm thinking of writing them all in one shot and schedule them... I just hope that I'll have more time at the lab...

New job is okay... it has lost a lot of its newness and luster though. See, what we do is study prostate cancer. For that, we have to extract RNA from urine... So far, we've been practicing on my colleagues' pee LOL (As I'm a woman and have no prostate... I have yet to provide a sample... but soon, I guess, as I'm going to serve as negative control). Anyway, long story short... we've run into some problems with the extraction and it wasn't working. Hasn't been working for the whole week... which was bizarre giving that it was successful last week. At first, we thought the resident was doing something wrong... but then, everyone ran into the same trouble. So yesterday, I was at the lab from 9am to 4pm :(

Seriously, I don't mind working hard and a lot. I don't mind coming in during the week-end. Problem is my new boss is getting on my nerves. See, the previous research assistant was crappy. Not only was he stalking a woman on the floor, but he also caused a lot of contamination and so on. As a result, my boss is being paranoid and treating me like I'm incompetent and I think it's unfair... I'm getting the consequences from the previous guy and seriously, not happy about it. I hope it's just because I'm new. Also, he should have told me what I was in charge from the beginning. I've been working for two weeks and he's locked away in his office writing a proposal for a project so we can get urine samples from patients. So I'm a bit frustrated... Hopefully it's going to get better... Good news is I finally got my parking pass!! Yay! and the boss had an extra pass, so I can now go as I wish :)

By the way, if you're wondering about the title of the post, well it's because I've just watched the end of Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal semi-finale at the US Open. Murray won!!! It was great tennis in my opinion and I'm so glad he won :) Now the finale tomorrow... I hope he's going to win :) As for the women, it's Jelena Jankovic vs. Serena Williams. Go Jankovic!!! She's worked hard to get into her first grand slam finale... it'd be nice for her to win :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monthly Reads August 2008

So how was everyone's long week-end? I hope everyone got to relax and enjoy... Mine was very lazy. Didn't do much besides reading and sleeping ^_^;

So August is over and here we are in September. I have to say, I'm not complaining too much, because we're having really nice weather compared to this summer. It's sunny and the temperature is warm, without being suffocating. It's a nice change from all the rain we've got. Anyway, month's over and that means it's time for me to post up my monthly list of reads :) Just telling though, I've been re-organizing some stuff... and well, it's not going well so I haven't been that good at keeping track of my books read :( I could be missing a couple... Sigh.

1) Sweet Trouble by Susan Mallery: C
2) Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra: B-
3) Oceans of Fire by Christine Feehan: C
4) The Widows of Witchita County by Jodi Thomas: B
5) Ace is Wild by Penny McCall: B
6) The Secrets of Rosa Lee by Jodi Thomas: B-
7) Crazy for You by Kate Angell: C
8) One Night of Scandal by Teresa Medeiros: B+
9) A Kiss to Remember by Teresa Medeiros: B
10)Windswept by Ann Macela: B
11) Countdown by Michelle Maddox: B+
12) 20 Times a Lady by Karyn Bosnak: B+
13) Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs: B
14) If There be Dragons by Kay Hooper: B
15) Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh: B to B+

** I also read Thicker Than Blood by Meljean Brook... but I won't count it, as it was part of the anthology First Blood, and I haven't read the other novellas.

So far, from what I've got recorded, that's it. Which is not too shabby, considering how the month started. With the Olympics and so on, I'll take the 14 reads :)

Also, since it's the beginning of the month, I've been going around on my favorite authors' websites... There are some interesting news to say the least :)

Kelley Armstrong, author of the Women of the Otherworld series, had her contract extended for books 11-13!!! Yay!! Apparently, she's trying to negotiate with the publishers so she could include male narrators in the books :) Living with the Dead is coming out this fall (October if I'm not wrong)... the next book's working title is Frostbitten and from gossips around the web, it's a Pack book, i.e. Elena should be the narrator, and for some reason, the Pack goes to Alaska. Hmmm, interesting! :) Finally, we'll finally get Savannah's book - book 11!!

Maria V. Snyder sent out a newsletter a few days ago. Apparently, she's done writing Storm Glass and is now writing book 2 in the trilogy, Sea Glass. Storm Glass is due out for April 2009 and Sea Glass, September 2009. Woohoo. Let's hope Mira learned from their previous experience and don't go out there changing the format and dates of the releases.

Nalini Singh's newest release Hostage to Pleasure is officially out today :) In addition, she posted excerpt of her next books on her website :)

All around, that's pretty good news to me :)