Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monthly Reads - December 2008

Last month of the year... Let's see how many books I've read and if they were any good :P

I have to say, December felt really long. I've kind of lost track of time... actually, that should have made the month goes faster... but the thing is I've been so tired lately. I'm also having difficutlty In addition, I've been feeling meh about books, so that didn't help :(

However, I do think this was a pretty good month number-wise... so let's see :)

1) Body Check by Deirdre Martin: C+
*actually read this one sometimes in November, but forgot to catalog it ^_^;
2) Lie to Me by Starr Ambrose: B+
3) Hunting the Wolfe by Kay Hooper: B+
4) Broken Pieces by Carla Cassidy: C
5) Cherish by Catherine Anderson: DNF
6) Two Weeks with a Stranger by Debra Mullins: C+
7) Alice at Heart by Deborah Smith: C
8) Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton: DNF
9) Blood Sins by Kay Hooper: B+
10) You Had Me at Goodbye by Jane Blackwood: B
11) Runaway Mistress by Robyn Carr: B-
12) A Visit from Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander: B-
13) Getting Lucky by Susan Andersen: B
14) The House on Olive Street by Robyn Carr: B-
15) Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher: B+
16) Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: D
17) He Loves Lucy by Susan Sonovan: C
18) Home for the Holiday by Lisa Plumley: DNF
19) Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann: no grade

Well, well, well :D I think this was a pretty good reading month :) It's just unfortunate that I've been feeling meh in the last few days. Sigh. To upside that feeling, I've been re-reading a lot in the past few days :D Getting ready for the Re-Reading Challenge :D

I have to admit, I'm quite proud of myself for reviewing so many books this month. Look forward to even more reviews next year!

That'll be all for this year :) I'll be doing a post looking back on 2008 in the near future. Tomorrow, look forward to the list of participants for the Re-Reading Challenge :D

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

McAffee Security Center?

All right, so with all the computer problems I have had recently... I need to choose a new anti-virus. I've got an e-mail from McAffee (it's what was installed on my computer initially), offering me 50% on a renewal... which comes to a really great price...

However, I'm wondering if it's the best. Anyone has suggestions or advices?

I used to use AVG... but I ran into trouble. My friend suggested Avast, a free anti-virus... That's what my dad had on his computer... and it went loco as well... So yeah, I don't know anymore. Problem with McAffee is that the reviews out there are atrocious... so it's hard to know what to believe.

What are you using?

EDIT: (Dec.31)

Thanks to everyone who commented and shared their experience with me. I decided to cave this morning at 2h30 AM and bought 2 years protection with McAfee. I have to say, part of it was the price. 70$ for 2 years, even if it's in US$, it's quite a bargain.

Also, I've been using McAfee for the past few days and my computer seems to be functioning correctly. However, like Li, I'll be knocking on wood :)

January 2009 new releases

Two more days before the new year!! Anyone excited? I have to admit, I am :) I think that 2007 was a great reading year for me and in comparison, 2008 paled a little. Don't get me wrong, there were some good books, but not as many wowzers... Also, the last few months were stingy on romance releases... However, from what I can see at the moment, there are lots of books waiting for me in 2009! I mean, from January to April? Wowzers warning!!!

Since New Year is bound to be busy, I'm going to make a post about the upcoming releases that I'm looking forward to today instead of on January 2nd.

So here we go for January 2009 :D A great kick-off for the coming reading year :D

Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie
(HQN Books/Jan. 01 - Hardcover format)
Tess Newhart knows her ex-boyfriend Nick Jamieson isn't the right guy for her. He's caviar and champagne; she's take-out Chinese pot stickers. He's an uptight Republican lawyer; she was raised in a commune and thinks Cinderella is politically incorrect. He wants to get ahead in business; she just wants…him—only not the social-climbing Nick, but the sweet, caring, unbuttoned-down Nick.

And Nick wants her, too, but there's no way Tess is about to play second fiddle to his obsession to make partner.

Yet somehow she finds herself agreeing to play his fiancée for a weekend business trip that could make or break Nick's career. And while he's wrapped up in convincing Tess that he needs her in his respectable world, Tess is doing her best to keep her left-wing opinions to herself and her hands off Nick.
*Warning: This is a re-print!!!

This book was the first ever Jennifer Crusie I ever read and as a result, it holds a special place in my heart :D One of my favorite :) For the past few years, Ms Crusie Silhouette books have been re-printed by HQN books in hardcover format, one every year... and well, to me, this is like a collectible LOL :)

I sure hope they won't stop here though and re-print Trust Me on This as well as The Cinderella Deal.

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
(HQN Books - Jan. 01)

Molly Jenkins has one naughty little secret: her job as a bestselling erotic fiction author. Until her inspiration runs dry—thanks to a creepy ex—and it's time to skip town and move back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.

One look at former high school hunk chief of police Ben Lawson and Molly is back in business. The town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse still, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straitlaced Ben will definitely not approve...
This book has been getting a little buzz around blogland already... partly because there's lots of different opinions. Anyway, it caught my attention because I thought the cover was cute and the story sounded interesting and it's a contemporary. Will I regret it? I don't know...

Dawn Keepers by Jessica Andersen
(Signet - Jan. 06)
The countdown to the end of days has begun and only the Nightkeepers can stop the annihilation of all mankind...

Though a Nightkeeper, Nate Blackhawk refuses to allow others to control his fate. The gods have even tried to influence his love life, sending him visions of Alexis Gray, a sleek blonde who is everything he's ever wanted in a woman.

The two warriors can't deny their attraction. But a frightening vision leads Nate to distance himself in spite of the intense passion he feels. Thrown together once more, they must reassemble seven Mayan artifacts that hold the key to preventing the end of the world.
This is the second book of The Final Prophecy series. I wasn't wowed by Nightkeepers, but intrigued enough to get the second book. I have to admit that I liked Nate in the first book :D

Seduced at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro
(Berkley - Jan. 06)

The Ladies Literary Society of London gathers again for a ghost story...

Lady Julianne Bradley has always longed for wild adventure. Unfortunately, the man with whom she wishes to share her fervor can never be hers. Tormented by her desire, she's preparing for a suitable marriage when ghostly occurrences straight out of her latest read start happening and to protect Julianne, her father hires the very man her heart cries out for.

Third book in The Ladies Literary Society of London. I've read Sleepless at Midnight and Confessions at Midnight and enjoyed them... so I'm looking forward to this third installment. Of course, I would have preferred Emily's story more... but her story is not far away, coming out in April...

By the way, Ms D'Alessandro has changed publishing house. I don't really mind/care... however, I preferred the Avon's covers.

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
(Pocket - Jan. 20)


Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions: the evil beauty who surrenders her body, but not her heart.


Rydstrom Woede: the ruthless warrior who vows to keep her at all costs.


With each smoldering encounter, their shared hunger only increases. If they can defeat the sinister enemy that stands between them, will Sabine make the ultimate sacrifice for her demon? Or will the proud king lay down his crown and arms to save his sorceress?

Another installment in a series, this time The Immortals After Dark. From his previous appearances, I really like Rydstrom... but then, with the glimpse we caught in the last book and his heroine... I'm not too sure anymore. However, I will give this book a try.

and finally...

Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
(Random House of Canada/Jan. 29 - Hardcover format)

As a curious child, Clayton didn’t resist the bite — he asked for it. But surviving as a lone child werewolf was more than he could manage — until Jeremy came along and taught him how to straddle the human-werewolf worlds, gave him a home…and introduced him to the Pack. So begins this volume, featuring three of the most intriguing members of the American Pack — a hierarchical founding family where bloodlines mean everything, and each day presents a new, thrilling, and often deadly challenge. For as Clayton grows from a wild child to a clever teen who tests his beloved mentor at every turn, he must learn not only to control his animal instincts, but to navigate Pack politics—including showing his brutal arch nemesis, Malcolm, who the real Alpha is...
This is actually a compilation of online novellas that Ms Armstrong has written and posted online. Don't rush to her website, they have been removed. I have read and loved them and I'm super happy that they are being published :) Although they are novellas, some of them are actually quite long :) Anyway, this is going to be a great book, so again, I'm really happy :) And all the proceeds are for charity... so a good action :D

ps. What do you think of the cover? The red one is the US version and the blue/purple one, Canada's.... I think I like the Canadian one better.

Honorable mention:

Smart Girls Think Twice by Cathy Linz
(Berkley - Jan. 06)

Sociologist Emma Riley’s new research project depends on a sexy bartender who wants nothing to do with her project—and certainly nothing to do with Emma. Too bad she’s way too smart to ever take no for an answer.
All right, this is not much of a synopsis, plus this author's previous books were meh to me. Still, cover is not bad and story could be good :D I'm giving this a chance - as in, I'm going to pick up this from the shelf, read the back blurb or at least, the last few pages and get a vibe :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

What sets me apart...

So how's everyone's holidays going? Mine is all right... Perhaps not very festive, but I'm resting, reading and eating. What more can I ask? Although I'm at work right now at the moment... but then, lots of incubation times, so I'm not working very hard... hehe. Also having fun watching the Top Gear special in Vietnam :D

Anyway, so guess what I'm going to review today? Two books...

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann and Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

LOL, I can feel some of the disbelief the bloggers who know me well feel :P LOL... Okay, so here's the deal... Most of the time, I agree with blogland and enjoy the same authors that everyone loves... Robyn Carr, Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts and etc. However, there are a few authors that are really hugely popular with long-standing series whose books I just don't enjoy... Among them, Suzanne Brockmann and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I tried and tried, but just don't seem to enjoy them as much as my fellow bloggers.

So why try again? Well two of my favorite bloggers have recently reviewed Into the Fire - Ames and Jill. So when I saw it at the library, I picked it up... As for Heaven, Texas... Again, Jill has reviewed it not too long ago and she got quite a lot of comments from bloggers who all seem to enjoy it immensely, so I picked it up at the library as well. See, my library is not totally hopeless... ^_^;

So here is what I thought of both books...

Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann
published by Random House in July 2008 (HC)

Vinh Murphy–ex-Marine and onetime operative for the elite security firm Troubleshooters Incorporated–has been MIA ever since his wife, Angelina, was caught in a crossfire and killed during what should have been a routine bodyguard assignment. Overcome with grief, Murphy blames the neo-Nazi group known as the Freedom Network for her death. Now, years later, Freedom Network leader Tim Ebersole has been murdered–and the FBI suspects Murphy may have pulled the trigger. To prevent further bloodshed, Murphy’s friends at Troubleshooters scramble to find him and convince him to surrender peacefully.

Murphy himself can’t be sure what he did or didn’t do during the years he spent mourning and lost in an alcohol-induced fog. He does know he occasionally sought solace from Hannah Whitfield, a former police officer and the very friend who’d introduced him to his beloved late wife.

But Hannah, still grappling with the deafness that resulted from an injury sustained while on duty, was fighting her own battles. For years Hannah had feelings for Murphy, and one painful night their suffering brought them together in a way neither expected–and both regretted.

Murphy is ready to rejoin the living. As always, he finds himself knocking on Hannah’s door, and as always, his longtime friend welcomes him back into her home. Yet even as Murphy slowly rebuilds his splintered life, he continues to fight his growing feelings for Hannah.

Then he learns of Ebersole’s murder and comes to believe that the Freedom Network has targeted him–and Hannah–to avenge their leader’s death to violence. Now Murphy must face the terrifying prospect of losing another woman he loves.

As the Troubleshooters desperately search for him, Murphy races toward a deadly confrontation with the Freedom Network and ultimate choice: surrender his life in hopes that Hannah will be spared, or risk everything to salvage whatever future they may have together.

Genre: romantic suspense, army/Navy
Series: Troubleshooters, book #13

I won't go too much into the story, because 1) it's really a complex story and 2) the back blurb probably does a better job than I would.

My Opinion: So what did I think of Into the Fire? Quite frankly, I had difficulty following everything that happened. I have read a few books in the series, here and there, the last one being Into the Storm, and I was a bit confused. Lots of the early characters are mentioned but don't appear and then, there's this whole new cast... It feels like I was reading Troubleshooters - the New Generation, LOL :)

Again, Ms Brockmann continues to have many plot lines at the same time... however, it didn't annoy me as much as the other books. I was most interested in Murphy and Hannah's romance and to some degree, Izzy. Didn't care much about the Troubleshooters/ex-CIA agents business.

I liked Murphy and Hannah. What happened to them was quite tragic - Murphy losing his wife and Hannah's car accident which affected her life greatly. The fact that both were in love with each other years ago, but never moved toward each other, letting life lead them in other directions... that was quite sad. I'm glad they had a second chance. Although I liked both characters, I felt like we didn't have enough background on either, especially Hannah. Where were her parents? Why was she raised by her uncle? In addition, I felt like their relationship was quite rushed due to the other plot lines. It was also stupid from Murphy not to admit his feelings for Hannah... after all they went through. What if he never had the chances to talk to her afterwards? What if she died before he could tell her that he loved her and that he lied previously? He would have felt guilty the rest of his life and regret it so much. Finally, I thought that Ms Brockmann didn't handle the pacing quite well. As I said, Murphy and Hannah's relationship felt rushed... I felt they didn't spend enough time together really talking... there weren't many sweet moments either. I think that would help.

As for Izzy... he was a great character and I have to agree with Ames and Jill... He deserves better than 18 y.o. Eden. I mean, perhaps if Eden was more mature then their relationship and interaction would have work better.... However, that's not the case. Eden's life is screwed up... and Izzy is left picking up the pieces and trying to put them together. It felt more like he was baby-sitting Eden than "having a relationship" with her.

All in all, the book was okay. I didn't dislike it as much as the previous books I've read, but I didn't fall in love with the series. I'm not going to grade this book though, because I think it would be unfair. Me coming in the middle of the series where it's obvious that I should have read some other books beforehand to enjoy it more.

Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
published by Avon in April 1995
Come heck or high water, Gracie Snow is determined to drag the legendary ex-jock Bobby Tom Denton back home to Heaven, Texas, to begin shooting his first motion picture. Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby Tom has reservations about being a movie star -- and no plans to cooperate with a prim and bossy Ohio wallflower whom he can't get off his mind or out of his life. Instead, the hell-raising playboy decides to make her over from plain Jane to Texas wildcat.

But nothing's more dangerous than a wildcat with an angel's heart in a town too small for a bad boy to hide. And all hell breaks loose when two unforgettable people discover love, laughter, passion -- and a match that can only be made in Heaven.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Chicago Stars, Book #2

Again, I'm going to skip the story summary. I don't feel like I could do a good job.

My Opinion: Okay, I'm going to admit, I did skip a bit of this book. I skip the part where Grace went to Bobby Tom's house during a party and was mistaken for a strip-teaser... then, I did skip bits here and there, but I don't think it affected my understanding of the book... and the reason I skip parts? Bobby Tom.

For the life of me, I just couldn't stand Bobby Tom. I thought he was immature, arrogant and condescending. Yes, he did have some layers to him, but not enough for me to like him. Gosh, I know he was a jock, but seriously!! I couldn't find anything in him to like. The last scene where he screams at Grace after she's refused his proposal... that was just ugly and hurtful. I don't get why Grace didn't make him grovel more... (well, okay, he did break out of jail, but I still think she forgave him way too easily).

The rest of the book didn't have much of an impact on me. I felt meh reading this. I didn't relate to Grace, didn't find the subplot about Bobby Tom's mother and the bad guy in town very interesting either.

Overall, didn't really like this book and again, I won't be rushing to read the rest of the series :(

My Grade: Better than a DNF, but meh... didn't like it much... so, hmmm, D. Of course, that's just me and there's tons of people out there who loved this book :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Computer update...

Hi everyone!

Thanks for everyone who asked about my computer. I somehow got some virus/trojans and it started messing stuff up. Especially Google... so every time I did a search and I clicked on a result, it would open in a new tab (which I don't like) and half of the time, it would be advertisement, instead of what I've been looking for... Luckily, it wasn't porn :P

I've been toying with the idea of re-formatting my computer... however, I never did that and it can be quite complicated. I ended up doing a PC restore, which is bringing my computer back to its original state when I just received it from the store. It did work (thanks god), but I've been using AVG as my spyware and I think that was part of the problem... so I had to do it all over again and use another spyware.

So now, my computer works well. Hopefully, it'll stay that way :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Computer loco...

It's 4h28 am and I'm trying to resolve some problems with my computer. Basically, it's driving me crazy!!

Why did I buy a new computer again? Seriously?!?!

I just want to cry right now T_T

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!!

click on picture for message :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gift Exchange 2008 :)

It seems to me like it's been forever since I last blogged. Sigh... I've been feeling very tired lately - running around a lot and also lack of sleep. Can't wait till Christmas and New Year, it means 2 long week-ends :D

Where to start? So, lot more people signed up for the Re-Reading Challenge :) I have to say, I'm really happy :D It'll be very interesting, I can't wait :) Thank you everyone :D

So this week-end, I was quite busy. I was hosting our annual Christmas gift exchange on Sunday :) That event about sums up all my Christmas spirit for the holidays season LOL. So it was over at my house and that meant, I had to do a lot of cleaning ^_^; The week-end didn't start of that well either... one of our friends is working in Seattle and she was supposed to come back on Saturday morning... however, she was stuck in Washington D.C. and wasn't sure if she would be able to fly back on Saturday. Luckily, I got an email in the evening telling me she made it :D

Quite frankly, I've been stressing about the gift exchange the whole week... not about the event itself, but the weather... they were predicting snow... and we got snow. 15 to 20cm ^_^; Luckily for me, it wasn't too bad. It snowed steadily the whole day, but not too heavily and although it was windy in the morning, it wasn't in the afternoon. Everyone came so that really made my day... and made all the cleaning worth it.

LOL, it was funny... my parents go to the temple every Sunday morning and come back in the afternoon. When they came back yesterday, my dad was like:" Wow, it's so clean. You cleaned Nath? Why? Are you having a party?" and my mom was all like: "Well duh, she has a party. Her friends are about to arrive!" and my dad was all like: "Oh, I didn't know... Nobody ever tells me anything. I'm always the last to know things." LOL :) It was so cute and it was said so carefreely :)

Anyway, I had a great time :D This is an annual event, like the BBQ we have in the summer, and this year, well, we've down-sized it... as in, I've taken the administrative decision to cut off some people of the event... I mean, when you only hear from them or not at all in the last 6 months... when you've felt used by some... I mean, I've seen my friend who's been working in Seattle for the past year more often than those so-called friends... so I feel like I've done a good decision. Okay, enough on that... so, yep, I had a great time :) It was much cozier and friendly I think. We had a pot luck dinner, the food was great and we didn't have too much food (that's always been a problem:P) We had fun and here is what I got:

Isn't it cute? I asked for a tote bag so I could carry my books around and that's the bag I got! I just love it and it's quite big :D (It's supposed to be a laptop bag:)

So that was my week-end :D We have quite a lot of snow outside, but the streets are quite clean (well not the ones in downtown, of course)... and there was no one on the road! Yay!

LOL, I'm watching Samantha Who right now with my sis and it's great! :D

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DNF reviews...

It's rare for me to have DNF ratings, but I have two this month so far (not that I'm expecting more). They will probably come as a surprise for many... and I have to admit, it has to do more with me than the books' plots or writings...

Cherish by Catherine Anderson
published by Avon in October 1998

He Longed for...

Race Spencer's gunslinging days are far behind him. He is now a rugged, respectable rancher, but it's a solitary life. Then Fate leads Race to an earthbound angel--lost and alone, the sole survivor of an outlaw attack--and even his hardened heart is moved. He sweeps the ivory-skinned beauty into his arms and carries her away from danger.

A Woman to Cherish

When innocent Rebecca Morgan wakes up in a stranger's embrace, her life has been changed forever. Race's touch makes her blood sing and stirs up emotions in her she never knew existed. But this man has a fearsome reputation. And though her life may depend on him, can she trust him? Is it love she sees in her rescuer's dark eyes?

Genre: western
Series: don't know ^_^;

The Story: Rebecca Morgan comes from a cheek-turner family from a very religious community. The community has decided to move away as the world around them is becoming more modern and the youngsters might be tempted by newness. Rebecca, her parents and 9 other couples are about to embark on a journey that will lead them to New Mexico where the other families have already start settling. They are bringing the money that will be necessary to survive. Since they are very religious, they don't believe in hiring men to protect them or carry guns.

As expected, their wagon is attacked and everyone is killed, the women raped... except for Rebecca. She is saved by Race Spencer who used to be a gunslinger, but is now a rancher. Race is also half native... Luckily for Race, his men are not far behind... however, the robbers won't leave them alone and Race wonders why...

My Opinion: Well that's about all I read... then, I skipped to the middle and then, to the end. I bought this book because it's a Catherine Anderson and I like her contemporaries. I then picked this book up to read, because it was on the RT all time favorite list and I need a book for the Fall Challenge. Problem is, I don't really enjoy westerns... so this is more a "me" problem than the actual book.

Let see, I didn't really like Rebecca. She's not someone with whom I can connect easily. I know how she was raised and so on, but I couldn't help thinking she was silly. Then, I skimmed a bit and got to the scene where she's having sex with Race for the first time... and I couldn't help rolling my eyes. Again, I understand that it totally makes sense when you take in the circumstances and the way she was raised, but still... Couldn't help it. That pretty much sealed the faith of the book for me. I also read the ending, and I felt meh. Didn't make me want to go back and give it another try, unfortunately.

Race was okay, for what I read of him. I like that he was smart and figured things out quickly. I like that he didn't hesitate saving her... and I was sad that he suffered loss to his ranch by saving her. My favorite parts of the book are probably the scenes with Cookie. He was so funny, LOL :)

My Grade: DNF. Like I said, this has more to do with me than the books... western is just not for me I guess.

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton
published by Berkley in November 2008
Sugar Maple looks like any Vermont town, but it's inhabited with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches and an ancient secret. And Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & String, a popular knitting shop, has a big secret too. She's a sorcerer's daughter in search of Mr. Right and she's found him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple's very first murder. Bad news is he's 100% human, which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like her.

Genre: contemporary romance with paranormal elements
Series: Sugar Maple, book #1

The Story: On the outside, Sugar Maple is the perfect little New England town whose income comes from tourism... However, Sugar Maple is actually a haven for paranormal creatures such as witches, shapeshifters, faeries, vampires and so on. Centuries ago, Chloe Hobbs' ancestor were fleeing Salem and found refuge in Sugar Maple. As a thank you, she cast a spell over Sugar Maple protecting the town from any harm and disharmony as long as there was a female descendant still living. Now, Chole is the only female descendant left and her blood has been diluted with human blood and it seems she has received very few gifts from her witchy sides. The spell over Sugar Maple seems to be weakening and therefore, everyone is trying to match Chloe up hoping she would produce a new descendant and quick...

As proof that the spell is weakening, Sugar Maple experienced its first murder, an out-of-town woman... Luke Mackenzie who's a Boston cop has been trying to get out of the big city for a few years and the assignment is perfect, even if it's only temporary. He knows that the town has secrets and he intends to discover them...

My Opinion: I previously read Just Desserts by Ms Bretton and really enjoyed it. Thus, I was looking for more books by her... I did hesitate to pick up Casting Spells as it was slightly paranormal... then, I read Holly's review and decided to give it a try.

First, I have to say that Casting Spells feels more like a contemporary romance with slight paranormal elements than a paranormal romance book. I mean, think of a small town with weird habitants having small quirks... but in this case, their small quirks might be they're able to shapeshift or drink blood.

I got halfway through the book. I liked Chloe and Luke... this book is at the first person POV and it alternates between Chloe and Luke, so it was fun to see what both were thinking. Both characters are nice and fun to read about and I like their chemistry :)

So what didn't work for me? The town and the whole: "Chloe needs to get someone and start reproducing, but oh, the cop won't do because he's human." I didn't feel like it was Chloe's responsibility to protect the town and insure that it was safe. That city hall reunion? Complete rubbish. Yes, Chloe was welcomed back in the community after the death of her parents and yes, everyone had a hand in raising her... but it wasn't for unselfish reasons!!! It seems to me they all want to keep Chloe because she was a Hobbs and her presence would maintain the spell! So having people saying that she owns them annoyed me! Having people trying to match her up with men just so the spell would continue annoyed me! Having people say that Luke wouldn't be good because he's human annoyed me! Also, the fact that people complained about her lack of powers also annoyed me! And these are constant reminders... by everyone in the book, Chloe included. A lot of time, you don't choose whom you fall in love with and I mean, Chloe could do a lot worst. Also, the fact that people seems to be-little Chloe and she just took it, because she seems to believe that it's her fault? It was too much for me and that's why I won't be continuing the book and I doubt I will be picking it up again :(

This is supposed to be a series, so perhaps I'll pick up book #2 (since now, Chloe has powers and Luke knows the whole truth)... but I'm not sure. I mean, the writing was good and it has potential. I just got annoyed with few details and it ruined it for me :(

My Grade: DNF.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TBR Day: A Visit from Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander

Last TBR Day of the year! Keishon has already announced her intention of continuing the challenge in 2009... but still... Really make me realize that the end of the year is really close! So for today's TBR challenge, I'm going to review A Visit from Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander... Kind of funny, because I've been on a Victoria Alexander mood lately... Having read quite a few of hers in the past weeks. If I had more time, I would review them all... but I don't :( Blame it on the snow that's falling which made me late for work!

For those who want snow, I don't know why you would! LOL :) We're getting 10-15cm it seems... and it took me 2hours to get to work. Roads are not good and cars that don't have traction can't climb up hills... Oh by the way, did you know that downtown Montreal was on a hill? Seriously, it was hard today... Sigh, and we're getting snow again Friday and Sunday and next Monday :(

Anyway, onto the review...

A Visit from Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander
published by Avon Romance in November 2004
Everyone knows that an Effington always gets her way... but this time it's not going to be easy!

Lady Elizabeth Effington simply could not suitably feel the joy of the Christmas season. Ten years had passed since she had boldly declared her love for Sir Nicholas Collingsworth. He rebuffed her and set out to seek his fortunes, while Elizabeth was left a woman scorned. Now, she discovers in horror that the inheritance she's managed beautifully was never hers to control. No, power over her finances lay in the hands of the last man she ever wants to see again: Nicholas!

But running Elizabeth's life isn't part of Nick's plans. He's intrigued when he discovers that the frivolous and flighty girl he once knew has turned into a beautiful and capable woman. Nick vows to woo -- and win -- her, and while she seems unmoved by his fervent seduction, he swears he will not rest until she accepts that most precious gift of all -- the gift of love.

Genre: historical romance
Series: Effingtons family, book #6 (or perhaps 7 or 8 ^_^;)

The Story: Elizabeth Effington is 19 years old and confused... She has always assumed, as did her family and entourage, that she would grow up and marry Charles Langley whose family is good friend with hers. However, lately, it seems she has developped feelings for another man... Nicholas Collingsworth, another man whose family is good friend with hers. Unfortunately, before she can sort out her feelings for both men, Nicholas breaks her heart and leaves for America where he intends to build his own fortune, pushing her in the arms of Charles.

Ten years later, Elizabeth is a widow with two sons. Nicholas has come back from America to settle down. Ironically, he's also been named by Charles as manager of the inheritance... However, he starts to wonder if it wasn't a mistake to refuse Elizabeth's feelings all those years ago. For friendship (since he was good friend with Charles) and for Elizabeth's future, Nicholas has denied his feelings towards Elizabeth all those years... but did he do the right thing?
My Opinion: Another Victoria Alexander... all in all, I think I've almost caught up on her backlist and all the books with the Effingtons :) I picked this book up because while reading Let It Be Love, we saw glimpses of Nicholas and Elizabeth's story. Have to say, Ms Alexander did a great job and weaving the two books together, as they take place relatively at the same time.

I really liked the hero in this book :) I think he had honor, integrity and ambition. He's also quite smart and not clueless, which is a nice change in most of Ms Alexander's heroes. I understand why he broke Elizabeth's feelings and I agree with him, Elizabeth should have fought for him if he's the one she really wanted it. I liked how he went after Elizabeth after realizing that both still had feelings for each other.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy Elizabeth's character as well. She's still angry at Nicholas for breaking her heart all those years ago and I think she blames Nicholas for pushing her to marry Charles... who betrayed her by having a mistress... and that annoyed me, because nobody forced her to marry Charles in the first place. Yes, everyone expected it, but she could have said no. Also, Elizabeth has a strong personality, but instead of showing it to everyone, she hid it under a frivolous persona... She showed only that frivolous side of her and in the end, she deceived even her own husband. You can't blame anyone in that case!! I think Ms Alexander tried to hard to make Elizabeth strong and independent... and it came out a bit wrong. I found Elizabeth very agressive, forceful and violent and it didn't endear her to me. I have to say howevere, it was very funny whenever she wanted to throttle her brother (which happened quite often).

The story focused on Nicholas and Elizabeth, so that was nice... I expected to see her two sons a bit more and I was a bit disappointed we didn't. I do have to say I found Elizabeth's sister Julianne annoying. I thought that she was very quick to judge people and that annoyed me.

Altogether, there were some good scenes, but overall, the story was quite simple. It was a quick read with some chuckles along the way. I found myself rooting for Nicholas, but I have to say I didn't care much for Elizabeth. Then, again, perhaps it's because I knew the ending already (since i read Let It Be Love beforehand). It think I would have enjoyed it more if Elizabeth has been less strong-minded LOL :) Oh and I really liked the parallels with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It was quite ingenious :)

My Grade: B-. If you're looking for a Christmas-themed historical, this is quite a nice read :D

Monday, December 15, 2008

Re-Read Challenge 2009 sign-up

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood of re-reading some of my keepers and it gave me the idea of organizing a Re-Read challenge for the coming year. I wrote a post to see if people would be interested and I got a very good response :)

So this post is the official announcement for the Re-Read Challenge 2009 :)

Here are the rules:

1. You must have read the book at least once before and the book should preferably be part of your keepers pile
^_^; LOL, I know, pretty obvious rule

2. Review must be posted on the last day of the month
I know end/beginning of months are quite busy times for blogging and posting (monthly reads list, new releases, etc.); however, it's an easy date to remember.

and there you go, that's pretty much it :) Easy, peachy no?

Here are my suggestions for the reviews...

a) indicate clearly in the title post that it's your entry of the Re-Read Challenge. Could be Re-Read Day, Re-Read Review, January's Re-Read...

b) link back to the official post for the Re-Read Challenge with participants list (that I will put up on January)

c) try to remember your first impressions: why is the book a keeper, why did you like it so much...

d) if you have reviewed it previously, please include the link

e) what are your feelings upon re-reading the book... Do you still like it as much? Or your taste has changed and the book doesn't grab you as it did the first time, etc.

Of course, you don't really have to follow what I suggested to the letter or exactly. I think that anyone part of the challenge would have included those elements in their review anyway :)

Remember, the goal of this challenge is not simply to re-read one of your keepers, but to also share them with other bloggers :D

Just leave a comment if you want to participate :) The challenge will run from January 2009 to December 2009, so that's an entire year, i.e. 12 entries :) You have till December 31st to sign up :) On January 1st (or close to), I'll put up a post with all the participants and everything :)

There will be a small reward to go with the challenge... my question is, would you prefer a small prize for each month, or a bigger one at the end?

If you think I forgot to cover something, let me know :)

psst - anyone good at making icon?

Review: Blood Sins by Kay Hooper

I've been a fan of Kay Hooper and the FBI SCU series ever since I discovered the series while I was doing my undergrad... I loved the books because of the blend of mystery, romance and psychic abilities and Ms Hooper's ways of explaining it.

It is unfortunate that I've started reading Ms Hooper's books after she moved from romance to romance mystery/thriller... thanks god for re-issues/re-prints though :) Although I have to admit, I much prefer her FBI SCU series to her romance books. However, I have been a bit disappointed with her recent entries in the series... I found both Sleeping with Fear and Blood Dreams okay reads... if it was any other authors, it'd be good with me... but since it's Ms Hooper, I expect to be wow-ed.

So what did I think of Blood Sins?

Blood Sins by Kay Hooper
published by Bantam Books in December 2008

Some sins can't be forgiven...
because some sins no one survives.

"New York Times" bestselling author Kay Hooper has touched our darkest fears but none so dark as in her latest thriller. Here's a psychopath who lures his victims with a promise no one can resist... and demands a price no one would knowingly pay.
Young, vulnerable, attractive, Tessa Gray made the perfect victim. Which was why Noah Bishop of the FBI's Special Crimes Unit recruited her to play the role of grieving widow. As the supposed new owner of property coveted by the Church of the Everlasting Sin, she'd be irresistible bait for the reclusive and charismatic Reverend Samuel. His fortified compound in the mountains near Grace, North Carolina, had been the last known residence of two women murdered in ways that defied scientific explanation.

Though hardly as naive or as vulnerable as she appears, Tessa knows she has a lot to learn about using her unique gift. She also knows that Bishop and the SCU have to be desperate to rely on an untried psychic agent in an undercover operation so dangerous. And desperate they are. For the killer they're hunting is the most terrifying they've ever faced and shakes even the most seasoned agents: a soulless megalomaniacal cult leader who can use their own weapons, talents, and tactics against them.

By entering the cult's well-guarded compound, Tessa will be exposing herself to the dark magnetism of a psychopath on an apocalyptic crusade of terror that spares no one, not even the youngest victims. And Samuel has protected himself within a fanatically loyal congregation, many of whom occupy surprising positions of power within the community. Even Grace's chief of police, Sawyer Cavenaugh--a man Tessa will have to trust with her life--may be unable to protect her. Because no one, not even Tessa herself, can guarantee she's strong enough to resist--or powerful enough to battle--a killer who's less than human.

Genre: mystery, thriller
Series: FBI SCU series, Book #11 (Book #2 of the Blood trilogy)

The Story: Blood Sins doesn't pick up right after Blood Dreams stopped; however, it is definitively a continuation. In Blood Dreams, Noah Bishop's team was able to stop a killer, but realized that the killer was only a puppet... in Blood Sins, they are after the puppet master, a sect leader named Adam Deacon Sammuel. Since the authorities have no evidences that Sammuel has been murdering people, Noah Bishop cannot send anyone of his team... however, the resourceful man has turned to the FBI SCU's civil group sister, Haven.

Haven already has someone infiltrates the compound, but when that person is killed, it becomes imperative to the FBI SCU and Haven to stop Sammuel. Hence, they send Tessa Gray as bait.

My Opinin: Okay, so my summary wasn't very good, but it's hard to summarize it, since it's quite complex. First, let me start by saying: there's no romance in this book, at all. Yes, Tessa and the chief of police, Sawyer Cavenaugh, share some attraction, but they hardly know each other, let alone start to build a relationship. I find it unfortunate... I always liked Ms Hooper's blend of romance with her mystery... On the other hand, this makes the book more realistic in my opinion. I mean, the story spans over a couple of day, perhaps not even a week... so any relationship would have been unbelievable.

Secondly, this book is more focused on action and stopping the cult leader, then on the characters. To tell the truth, we hardly get to know Tessa and Sawyer... We know what kind of people they are, why they do what they do and what they think of the case, but we don't go any deeper. To tell the truth, I didn't mind that much... Usually, I think that most of the FBI SCU novels can stand alone; however, Blood Sins was clearly the continuation of Blood Dreams. The goal of this book was to stop Sammuel and it would have been difficult for Ms Hooper to develop both... especially given the length of the book (it was a bit short, coming under 300 pages). As a result, Ms Hooper made a choice, to develop the story... which I guess would explain the lack of development of the characters. In which case, it explains the lack of romance elements. I'm not sure how other readers will take it, but in my case, I didn't mind it.

So how was the story then? I think it was very good and that Ms Hooper did deliver. The readers will definitively be surprised at some of the twists :) I know I was. I thought the story moved at a fast pace, was tightly written and I enjoyed it. I liked the fact that Noah Bishop played a more active role than in the previous books. We also get to see familiar faces such as Quentin Hayes, Hollis and Galen. We also get to catch up with some very old characters - although they don't appear, they are mentioned, and I can't help to think that Ms Hooper is building up for something more :) Those who have been curious about Galen, he plays a more active role too in this book and we get to learn what is his ability (or at least one of them). I also like how Ms Hooper has Hollis as a recurring character... she first appeared as a victim, then a rookie agent... and we've seen her grow and change... I wonder what Ms Hooper has in store for her :)

I'd say that this book is less gory than Blood Dreams, although there is something a bit disturbing... but then again, we're dealing with a cult, so it is to be expected. I also liked how this book was tied to the previous one. When she first started this trilogy, Ms Hooper did indicate that unlike her previous trilogies, the Blood trilogy would have an overall storyline spanning the three books. Ms Hooper also does a good job preparing for the next book, planting questions and preparing a threat for Bishop and the FBI SCU. I'm definitively looking forward to the next book.

Unfortunately, although I enjoyed this book a lot, I have to say, it was not perfect. I've always liked how Ms Hooper was able to explain the psychic abilities - them resulting from electromagnetic energy and so on. I think that Ms Hooper has to be careful in the future, because there's a fine line with psychic abilities and supernatural powers... In this book, Sammuel was able to steal the psychic abilities of others and the description Ms Hooper used made me think of supernatural powers instead... a bit more like X-men and Heroes. I know that the difference is very minime, but still... If someone in the FBI SCU would start being able to control elements or time travelling, it would ruin everything.

Also, there were many unanswered questions left. Some of them were to prepare for the next book and that is fine with me... but others... For example, what was Ruby and Cody's abilities? I think that sometimes, Ms Hooper uses psychic abilities and the paranormal in a way that's convenient for her... sometimes, things happened and they are just attributed to psychic events... and while in the past, she was almost always able to provide an explanation, it wasn't the case in this book... and I think that she has to be careful about that.

My Grade: B+. Overall, I did really enjoy the book, much more than the two last ones. Although the book wasn't perfect and didn't wow me (which is why, it didn't get a higher grade), it allows me to hope for the next one :) Can't wait to see what Ms Hooper has in store for my favorite group of FBI agents ;)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Christmas...

I'm finally starting to feel the Christmas buzz around me. I can't believe that the holidays season is around the corner. Here's my tally:

Christmas cards sent: 0
Christmas card present bought: 1 out of 5 ^_^;

Yeah... Pitiful, I know. Anyway, Isabel has tagged me... but she might be disappointed in the answers ^_^; In my defense, I'll say my family has never been big on Christmas... I think the only one that really get in the spirit is my sister and we exchange (kind of) gifts mainly for her. I think it would help if we have family around (like my uncle's family), but we don't. In a way, Christmas and New Year is just a period in the year where we have some time off. So we don't do much for Christmas... hence, my disappointing answers, LOL :)

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags?

I love wrapping gifts. It's the way to go. You can give gift bags for other occasions, but Christmas demands wrapping paper... and a lot!

2.Real tree or Artificial?

Real tree. Although it's a pain...

3.When do you put up the tree?

Well, we haven't put up one in a few years, ever since my grandparents were sick... but it used to be whenever the mood strikes, usually sometimes before Christmas LOL :)

4.When do you take the tree down?

Whenever we'd have enough and the town picks up the real Christmas tree.

5.Do you like eggnog?

Don't know, never had it... but my guess is, if there's alcohol, then no.

6.Favorite gift received as a child?

Hmmmm, I can't remember ^_^; I received a lot of clothing as a child so it was kind of meh...

7.Hardest person to buy for?

My mom... and dad... LOL :) What do you buy to people who have it all and don't seem to want anything?

8.Easiest person to buy for?

Sister, although she's picky and can never make up her mind as what she wants.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?


10.Mail or email Christmas cards?

Mail, although I don't send out that many Christmas cards and most of the time, it won't make it in time ^_^;

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Again, can't think of anything... and nothing would be the Jesus door stopper that Seneca received, LOL :)

12.Favorite Christmas Movie?

Not big on movies... can't think of any.

13.When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Week before Christmas.

14.Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Only food/chocolate that we'd receive from virtual strangers (my mom's acquaintance) and to virtual strangers. I've never recycled a present that was given to me personally.

15.Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Mint Candy Canes... if it's not mint, then seriously, it's rubbish.

16.Lights on the tree?

Yes, colored ones.

17. Favorite Christmas song?

None really... not big on music either, I guess.

18.Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Usually stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

Just Rudolph.

20.Angel on the tree top or a star?

Neither... although I would prefer a star though.

21.Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

At midnight if everyone's still awake. If not, morning.

22.Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Shopping and not finding anything.

23.Favorite ornament theme or color?

I don't really care ^_^;

24.Favorite for Christmas dinner?

Nothing really. We don't make anything special, so... and the past few years, it's been me and my sis and we've been eating out if I remember correctly. Sad.

25.What do you want for Christmas?

I don't know. LOL, books I guess :P

Friday, December 12, 2008

Review: Alice at Heart by Deborah Smith

One more book completed for my Fall challenge. Yay! Although I'm not sure I'm going to complete it, sigh. I've always intended to read Alice at Heart by Deborah Smith for the challenge; however, I wasn't sure when I would order it and so I listed Cherish instead. (By the way, tried reading Cherish... didn't finish it :( ) So I was extremely happy when Alice at Heart arrived. I've read books by Deborah Smith and have enjoyed them, especially Blue Willow. This, however, promised to be different, since it was more fantasy-ish.

Alice at Heart by Deborah Smith
published by Bellebooks in January 2002

Taken from Amazon:
Reclusive, wary, and known locally as Odd Alice, orphaned Alice Riley has always known she was different; but it isn't until she saves a child from drowning by using her phenomenal underwater abilities and links minds with drowning salvage diver Griffin Randolf and saves him, too, that her half-sisters learn of her existence, and she discovers how special she and Griffin really are. Old secrets, revenge, and passion fuel this compelling, intricately plotted story of love, trust, and acceptance, which successfully straddles the line between romance and fantasy and should appeal to fans of both genres.

Genre: contemporary, fanstasy, mer-folk
Series: Waterlilies, Book #1

The Story: Alice Riley has always been different... First, her mother drown herself in the sea mere days after her birth. She doesn't know who her father is... and let's not talk about her webbed feet, weird allergies and food cravings or her abilities to swim underwater for a very long period of time and in very cold temperatures. Tormented and bullied as a kid, Alice has grown up into a very wary and reclusive adult. That didn't stop her from saving the drowning child nor the vision of the drowning man. Both events will change her life forever.

Lilith, Mara and Pearl Bonadier were not aware of the existence of their younger half-sister. Now, Lilith is determined to bring Alice back home... even if it may uncover old secrets, re-open old wounds... and destroy them.

After being saved by Alice, Griffin Randolph decides to recover at the Randolph cottage. Having learned of Alice's abilities, Griffin is determined to uncover the truth about his parents' deaths and prove that Alice's half-sisters were behind it.

My Opinion: In a way, I feel that Alice at Heart is very different than anything I've ever written by Ms Smith, but on the other hand, I find the style and all those family secrets very familiar.

First, I thought the book was too short. Ms Smith introduced many characters and tried to tell their story, even the dead characters' ones ^_^; It definitively was too much for such a short book. If the book has been longer, then I think it would have been dealt better. As I result, I felt that Alice and Griffin relationship suffered the most of the lack of pages. They are after all the main characters and even though everyone's story was quite interesting, I was most attracted to Alice and Griffin... which is why I find it unfortunate that their storyline, relationship and characters were not developed to their full potential. I wished we could have read more of Alice and Griffin, especially together... Their relationship went by very fast, a bit too fast. Especially in a time when Alice was growing from ugly duckling to graceful swan. However, I did like their characters. I just wish we could have read more of them.

Lilith, Mara and Pearl were okay, but I felt they were very uni-dimensional, very stereotypical. Again, we were told their story, but I felt like something was missing. Perhaps it was the writing style which contributed to it. I thought the writing style was very passive, very "lyrical." As a result, I don't think I connect to the story as much as I could. However, to Ms Smith credit, everything flowed seamlessly and I finished the book quickly. The pace was not slow, since she had so much to tell, but there weren't many references to time - how many days have gone by, etc., and I think it made it feel a bit slow. I thought that without the time references, it was very hard to believe in Alice's transformation... especially since Alice seemed to change from one page to another without the readers really knowing why, what prompted it. Was it simply being together with her sisters and embracing her true nature?

The whole setting of the book was interesting as well. Not every author in my opinion can pull off mermaids story :) In that aspect, Ms Smith did a good job... What helped as well is that there was not many external interferences to create problem. The three sisters went around and lived their life normally and at their own pace. They own the land and everyone around them accepted them. There was not big villain to ruin their life, try to capture them or kill them. In addition, Ms Smith didn't worry about the "hiding" aspect of a paranormal creature or the fear of discovery... So it helped moving the story along. In short, the race that Ms Smith was unquestioned and un-threatened.

Alice at Heart is not my favorite book by Ms Smith. I felt like Ms Smith was too busy and engrossed telling everyone's story that she missed the opportunity to deliver the emotionally charged impact that I usually associate with her books. In addition, I feel Alice at Heart is not for everyone. It is a special book and I did enjoy it, so it was not total loss :P I just wished, once again, that the book focused a bit more on Alice and Griffin.

My Grade: C. If you're looking for something different, you might try this book :) Also, I hear there's a second book in the series, but I can't find any information on it... Anyone knows something?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Ames!!!

Today is the birthday of one of my dearest friends in blogland...


I wish you the best for the coming year. May you have time to read tons of books, spoil your babies and perhaps meet someone :D

So to start the day on the right note, here's a pic for you :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If anyone doubted it was winter in Montreal...

Well now you can't.

Oh gosh, what an horrible week so far weather-wise... and it's just Wednesday! So winter is really here now :( Basically, we got really cold temperature on Monday. -20C... first time it was this cold this winter... and for some reasons, it was shocking cold. I don't know why, but it really hasn't sunk in that we're in December.

Then, yesterday, we got 15cm of snow (we were expecting 5)... and afterwards, freezing rain. Ugh. Funniest thing is that the city of Montreal said that they were ready for the snow... They weren't exactly. It was so jammed yesterday!! For once, I'm glad that my sister had an exam till 9pm yesterday. It took my dad 4 hours to get home ^_^; and when I went home, at 9.30pm, the traffic has just started to get better. Took me 1.5 hours to get back on the South Shore. My friend who usually takes the bus gave me a call and asked if I could give her a ride. There was no way she would have gotten on a bus in, hmmm, the next 2 hours. So we went shopping. Didn't find any Christmas gift for anyone :(

Bad news is not over... Right now, we don't have power at home. I hate it when there's a power outage... and it's been a few hours already since it happened in the middle of the night. I'm a bit paranoid about power outage, because 10 years ago, Montreal had the ice storm... Basically, we got freezing rain for 3 consecutive days or something like that... and everything was ice... and with its weight, the ice took down a lot of cables and stuff like that. So we lost power for a week... in which case, we had to evacuate... Hopefully, it's not as serious this time and we'll get power back soon.

It's still snowing/raining lightly today. It should be over before the afternoon. We are expecting some more snow and rain this week-end.

Sometimes, I really hate living in a country that has a winter...

Oh by the way... my boots aren't as waterproof as I thought ^_^;

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Review: Two Weeks with a Stranger by Debra Mullins

It feels so long since I last reviewed a book... but then, I did last week, so I don't understand the feeling. Maybe it's because I've been buying so many books. Ah well...

I basically bought this book because of Holly. I kept bothering her for suggestion and she told me she enjoyed Three Nights by Debra Mullins. Yes, if you look at the title of the post, this is a review for Two Weeks with a Stranger. See, I couldn't remember the title when I was at the UBS. All I could remember was the author's name and that it was a time frame... So I bought Two Weeks instead of Three Days (in my defense, they didn't have Three Days, LOL).

I was picking up my books when I came across Two Weeks with a Stranger again. I decided to give it a go :)

Two Weeks with a Stranger by Debra Mullins
published by Avon in January 2007

The stranger in her bed...

Wedded and bedded, Lucy is devastated when she's abandoned by her new husband the very next day. Though it was a marriage of convenience, their heated wedding night gave her hope that it would turn into something more. But she refuses to be the demure bride left behind on a country estate while the stranger she married goes gailvanting about London--even if she has to create a scandal of her own.

Simon, the Earl of Devingham, would prefer his exquisite young bride rermain at home where he left her. Instead, she follows him to London... seducing him with her fiery kisses, enchanting him with her scorching touches, and awakening in him an insatiable hunger. His duty to the Crown demands that he remain in town, but Lucy has entered a most perilous game--and she will not forfeit without Simon's total surrender.

Genre: historical romance
Series: none

The Story: The storyline is pretty much as described in the synopsis. Simon married a country lady, hoping that she would stay in the country and raise their children while he'd be in London, working to protect his country. He didn't expect to be so attracted to his wife or to enjoy her as much in bed as outside. Unfortunately, duty calls and he has to be back in London where his new mission awaits. His new mission consists of seducing some information away from an Italian widow. Simon has no desires to seduce anyone besides his wife, but he doesn't have a choice. However, he never expected his wife to show up at the doorstep for their London house.

Having heard rumors of her husband with another woman, Lucy rushes to London hoping to turn their marriage of convenience into something more. What awaits her is a husband whose emotions confuse her, her husband's best friend's open hostility and an American heiress...

My Opinion: I'd like to start by stating that I enjoyed the overall idea. I thought it was quite clever and refreshing. First, you have the H/H already married and the whole courting/wooing behind. Then, you have two main characters that do not fit the molds of historical H/H. I guess for lack of better words, I felt that Lucy and Simon were normal people. I also liked the fact that Lucy was the daughter of a squire and although a lady, she was not part of the nobility. I even appreciated the fact that's what Simon was looking for. Lucy's lack of nobility sophistication was refreshing.

So I liked the idea, thought it was refreshing... however, I'm not sure it was as well-written as it could have been.What's frustrating is that I can't put my finger on what exactly didn't work for me. The main characters were okay. I mean, I did like Lucy and Simon, but I didn't connect with them. I liked how they each tried to communicate with each other and learn to know each other... I do think that Lucy fold at the end a bit too quickly to my taste. First, her reaction to Simon's profession was quite unexpected to me. Then, if you're going to be so cold and bothered by the truth, you don't forgive your husband so quickly.

I think that what bothers me the most is that everyone thought Simon couldn't handle his mission and his wife at the same time. Even Simon didn't believe in himself and so he didn't bother. He tried to make his wife returns to the countryside. Then, he went on with his mission even though he did not want to seduce another woman than his wife... even though he knew it could ruin his marriage. Wasn't there any other option? Couldn't he find another way to get the information he wanted? I did like the fact that he acknowledged the consequences of his actions instead of brushing it aside as most heroes would have done.

In addition, I thought the truth was revealed to Lucy way too easily. It was really anti-climatic ^_^; Other thing I didn't like, the two secondary characters, Simon and Lucy's friends - Fox and Gin respectively. Actually, Gin was all right I guess... but Fox, oh man. Talk about bitter man. I was annoyed by his character, angry at the world and still resenting his best friend. I mean, yes, he limped and he had some scars... but he wasn't disfigured or anything. I thought he gave up on himself too easily and the fact that he still resented Simon for it was annoying. Also, I don't know how I felt about Gin and Fox together. It seems that Ms Mullins stopped at an awkward moment. Either she should have developed more and give them a complete story or less and give them their own book.

Overall, not a bad book, but not a great book either. I enjoyed the storyline and the newness of the characters... but I definitively thought it could have been better.
My Grade: C+.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quick stop :)

Hi everyone :D

How are you doing all? Seems like everyone is getting ready for the holiday season: shopping and putting up decorations :D

I'm doing well. My boss has me working on some informatics stuff, so yay :D I don't have to run around. I'm doing well. Have been a bit lazy. I'll try to put up a review or something later this afternoon :D

I'm trying to think of some rules up for the Re-Read challenge :) Anyone has any suggestions?

Later :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Review: Lie to Me by Starr Ambrose

This is a new author to me :) The book caught my attention over at Book Binge when it was in the sidebar under Casee's reading. The cover is cute and it looked like a contemporary :P Then, after reading Casee's review, I decided I wanted it. Boy, I'm smart, LOL :)

Lie to Me by Starr Ambrose
published by Pocket Books in November 2008

The engagement is phony, but the diamonds are real...

Devastatingly handsome Jack Payton, the black sheep of his well-bred family, isn't exactly marriage material, but for a fake fiancé, he'll do just fine. Not that Eleanor Coggins has a choice. If she's going to prove that Jack's wealthy half brother Banner Westfield murdered her best friend, she needs total access to the family estate.

Once Jack and Eleanor blow Banner's cover, they can go their separate ways... or so she thinks. In order to win custody of his twelve-year-old daughter, Jack seriously needs to improve his reputation. An engagement should do the trick, but with Eleanor's vivacious wit and irresistible curves, it's the pretend part that's getting harder...

With a little help from an ex-con turned home security expert, a police chief with a scandalous secret, and an unexpected visitor, they must expose Banner's dangerous tricks before they become his victims. But can Jack convince Eleanor to turn their own seductive little lie into the truth?

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: none

The Story: Her best friend has just died and Eleanor Coggins is convinced that the husband is behind it. Determined to prove his culpability, Ellie packs all her things and drives down to Bloomfields Hills, Michigan, and breaks into the man's library... when she is caught by Jack Payton, the suspect's half-brother.

When Jack Payton finds the woman in his brother's library, he immediately seizes the opportunity to trick her into a fake engagement. He already suspects that his brother has been doing something illegal and therefore, doesn't mind helping Ellie. Jack has spent the last two years in jail, after being accused of vehicular manslaughter. While he was in jail, a daughter - Libby - he didn't know existed turned up and she's been in his mother's custody. Jack is determined to get custody of his daughter, especially after how his mother's two sons have turned out.

Lust, romance, friendship ensue :)

My Opinion: This was such a great book! From the first conversation between Ellie and Jack, I knew this was going to be a great book :) Love the banter and the quick wit displayed by the characters :)

I thought Jack was quite an interesting character. I'm surprised that he wasn't more bitter, but at the same time, I'm glad... Had enough of sourly heroes. I liked his dedication to Libby and how he wanted a better life for his daughter... all the scenes with Libby were very endearing as he wants to be a good parent and connect with his daughter. I also loved his interactions with Ellie and as I said earlier, the banter :)

Ellie was also a very enjoyable heroine. I have to say, I'm impressed at her loyalty to her friend. I mean, she dropped everything and went to investigate her friend's death... Very loyal, but a bit stupid and naive. I also liked her middle-classness... is that a word? It sounds strange, but for once, the heroine was a normal, everyday person... Not a rich, sophisticated woman or the tough, kicking-ass chick or the "normal" goody-two-shoes girl either. She also didn't have a career or a dark past or big secrets... What I found unfortunate however is that we didn't have enough background information on her. Throughout the book, Ellie is happy and proud because she's becoming a different woman. At home, people call her Nora, but in Bloomfiels Hills, Jack and everyone else call her Ellie... and Ellie seems to be more confident and more at ease and she likes that new woman. Personally, I just thought that something was missing for the readers to completely buy Ellie's transformation and fully connect with her.

Overall, the story was very good :) I think that from time to time, readers had to look past some details and suspend disbelief... For example, if Banner was the big bad guy he was, would he really had all those inculpating files on his personal computer in his library where anyone who sneaks/breaks in can find and read? Sure, they were password-protected, but it's easy to overcome that. In addition, I thought that Jack would have spent more time in jail no for vehicular manslaughter especially if it was caused by drunk driving? Anyway, I thought that all the plot lines blend well with each other. Each was appropriately addressed and I'm content with the outcome.

I think Ms Ambrose did a real good job avoiding stereotypes and it could have been easy. I was pleasantly surprised with Jack's mother and quite pleased with her. Ms Ambrose also did a good job with Libby, catching the teenager's attitude just right. She didn't overdo it and Libby wasn't annoying at all. Finally, I like Ms Ambrose's voice. It's straightforward and unpretentious.

My Grade: B+. Hard to believe this is Ms Ambrose's first book. I'm already looking forward to her next book :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December 2008 releases

You're probably sick of hearing it, but hey, it's the truth, so I can't help it! Not many interesting releases coming out this month... so my list is pretty short :(

Simply the Best by Shirley Jump
(Zebra Kesington/Dec. 01)

Nothing takes the sheen off a marriage proposal quite like discovering that your prospective fiance already has a wife. And for newspaper writer Alexandra Kenner, this is just the latest in a series of unfortunate relationships that are good for only one thing-badmouthing over beers with her best buddy, Mack Douglas. For a guy-especially a distractingly sexy, determinedly single guy-Mack has his decent side, offering to let Alex stay with him while he helps her remodel her house, even setting her up with a potential Mr. Right. What more could Alex ask for-except perhaps an encore of that out-of-the-blue, completely earth-shattering kiss Mack just laid on her?

Mack can't pinpoint the moment Alex stopped being the girl next door and became the marquee name in his wildest fantasies. She's always been gorgeous, but lately the commitment-phobic contractor wants her in ways and places that would change their friendship forever. That's something Alex will never risk, unless Mack can find a way to convince her that together they can build something that's bigger, better, and definitely made to last.
Read Really Something by this other last month. So far, I still feel meh about Ms Jump's books, but it's contemporary and I can never read enough of them :P Also, it's the best friends to lovers plot :) It might wow me... never know :P

Dead After Dark - anthology
(St. Martin's Press/ Dec. 02)
SHERRILYN KENYON “Shadow of the Moon” Angelia has fought her entire life to make herself strong. Now, with her patria under fire, she has to protect her people from Fury and his werewolf clan. Vowing to bring him to justice, Angelia sets out alone…until the hunter becomes the hunted, and the only way for her to survive is to trust the very wolf she’s sworn to kill.

J.R. WARD “The Story of Son” Claire Stroughton is a beautiful lawyer who would rather spend the night with a legal brief than the man of her dreams. Then a routine client meeting turns dangerous—and deeply sensual—when she is held captive by a gorgeous man with an unworldly hunger…

SUSAN SQUIRES “Seize the Night” When Drew Carlowe returns home to win back a lost love, he is quick to dismiss rumors that his estate is haunted by a stunning young ghost...until one passionate encounter leaves him mystified—and aching for more.

DIANNA LOVE “Midnight Kiss Goodbye” Trey McCree possesses an insatiable desire for Sasha Armand—and supernatural powers that could endanger her life as a human. But when they team up to stop an evil warlord, Trey discovers that Sasha can do way more than drive men wild...
Well, if you've read my review here, then you know I got this book only for the Sherrilyn Kenyon's story, since it's Fury's. Otherwise nothing much to say... except that how come St. Martin's Press books are so expensive?

Behind the Shadows by Patricia Potter
(Berkley/ Dec. 02)

Some secrets are meant to stay that way.

In a race against time to save her mother's life, Kira Douglas is stunned to discover that the woman who raised her is not her biological mother. Kira was switched at birth by someone with a mysterious motive. Untangling the clues, Kira finds herself face to face with a handsome, ruthless man who is either Kira's darkest nightmare or her greatest destiny.
Basically got this one because of the back blurb. It sounds like a family secrets kind of books and it's been a while since I've last read one :) I always liked family secrets books :P You can have lots of twists in those :P

Blood Sins by Kay Hooper
(Bantam Books/Dec. 16)
Young, vulnerable, attractive, Tessa Gray made the perfect victim. Which was why Noah Bishop of the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit recruited her to play the role of grieving widow. As the supposed new owner of land coveted by the Church of the Everlasting Sin, she’d be irresistible bait for the reclusive and charismatic Reverend Samuel. His fortified compound in the mountains near Grace, North Carolina had been the last known residence of two women murdered in ways that defied scientific explanation.

Though hardly as naive or as vulnerable as she appears, Tessa knows she has a lot to learn about using her unique gift. She also knows that Bishop and the SCU have to be desperate to rely on an untried psychic agent in an undercover operation so dangerous. And desperate they are. For the killer they’re hunting is the most terrifying they’ve ever faced and shakes even the most seasoned agents: a soulless megalomaniacal cult leader who can use their own weapons, talents, and tactics against them.

By entering the cult’s well-guarded compound, Tessa will be exposing herself to the dark magnetism of a psychopath on an apocalyptic crusade of terror that spares no one, not even the youngest victims. And Samuel has protected himself within a fanatically loyal congregation, many of whom occupy surprising positions of power within the community. Even Grace’s chief of police, Sawyer Cavenaugh — a man Tessa will have to trust with her life — may be unable to protect her. Because no one, not even Tessa herself, can guarantee she’s strong enough to resist temptation — or powerful enough to battle a killer who’s less than human.
Part of one of my favorite series, the SCU FBI series by Kay Hooper. I like psychics books, I like mystery books... and this one fits the bill perfectly. I have to say though, the amount of romance has decreased in every trilogy, so that's a bit disappointing... and I'm a bit afraid of the direction the series is taking - not the storyline and mystery, but the characters. I wouldn't want something to happen to Noah Bishop and his wife, Miranda... I don't want to discover that they're evil or burnt out or something... You know what I mean? Anyway, THIS is the book of the month for me :P

Girl Most Likely To... by Susan Donovan
(St. Martin's Press/ Dec. 30)

Kat Cavanaugh was sixteen when she hitchhiked out of Persuasion, West Virginia and vowed never to return. Who could blame her? She'd just stumbled upon her father's adulterous affair, found out she was pregnant, got dumped by her boyfriend, and kicked out of her house and school . . . all in a single afternoon. Twenty years have gone by and Kat's back-gorgeous, rich, and looking for an apology from everyone who'd turned their backs on her. First on that list is Riley Bohland, the boy who broke her heart before she could tell him about the baby. But Kat didn't count on Riley having his own axe to grind, or that he'd be just as delicious as he was at sixteen. She also didn't count on her heart opening at the sight of him. When their anger ignites a passion intense enough to burn through two decades of secrets and lies, Kat must question everything she thought she knew about her past. And what about her future? The only place to find the answers may be in Riley's arms.

I was looking for the new releases and this caught my attention. Ms Donovan is hit and miss for me, but I usually give her a chance because... yes, she writes contemporaries :P This one sounds okay. The story is not new, but the excerpt I read here was good... So I'm going to look it up when it comes out :D