Friday, April 30, 2010

RT 2010: Day 1

LOL, it's actually quite ironic to me how I am able to squeeze more blogging at the RT than when I was busy at work... What does it say? Although quite frankly, I haven't read at all yesterday and today, so that might explains it.

So here is a little recap of what happened on Day 1 of RT (i.e. yesterday - Wednesday).

As you know, the day started early for me yesterday and I was able to squeeze in some blogging. Then, I headed downstairs. See, in my registration envelope, I got my badge, but not the tickets that would allow me to redeem the registration bag and give me access to the goodies room. So I had to go see registration to ask for them and everything went without a hitch or any complication, question, etc. Then, I joined Kristie and Jill at the RT Welcome Party. It was a morning mixer with coffee and some introductions and a tribute to Kate Duffy. Seriously, I've been on blogland for the past 4 years and I gotta wonder where my head was... I mean, I've heard the name, but never really paid attention to it. It seems Ms Duffy was one heck of a woman who influenced the romance world greatly. It's really a pity that she is gone :( On the plus side, I got to meet Lisabea/LB Gregg :D It's always fun to meet other bloggers, especially when they've become authors :D

Afterwards, I went to The "Twisted Sisters" Tell All which was basically a Q & A session with Lori Foster, Gennita Low and Brenda Jackson (in that order in pic). LOL, it's funny because no workshops/panels seem to be really planned in advance - at least, the ones I've attended. Most of them, the authors simply answer the questions the audience asks. Anyway, The "Twisted Sisters" Tell All was a fun session :D I thought Gennita Low as so cute - love the way she is, very expressive, gestual and funny LOL. They talked a bit of this and that. Ms Foster is up to 80 books and Ms Jackson, 75 books published - wow. So they talked about their experience and how it is to have people around you reading your books, etc. I mean, nice session.

Then, I went to the YA: You Can Really Go Back panel with Richelle Mead, Michelle Rowen, Caitlin Kittredge, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Vincent (in that order in the picture) and Stacey Klemstein aka Stacey Kade as moderator. LOL, I know that after this panel, I'll be going out to the bookstore to get a few more YA :P I really enjoyed that panel and will try to go into more details in a later post.

I meet up again with Jill and company and we were off to have lunch at the food court with Carolyn Crane!! :D It was a very nice lunch where we talked books :P (CJ, Jill, Mary and Kristie)

Afterwards, we went our separate ways once again and I attended the Spoonful of Frivolity with Sinfully Sweet Authors  with Linda and Mary, the 2 sisters that had taken Jill under their wings last year at the RT convention. Hmmm, this was some experience LOL. I didn't really know what to expect and basically went because there were prizes to be won. Hmmm, let say that these authors know how to turn on the heat LOL. I'm just glad I didn't win the dildo basket!

Then, once again, met up with Jill and Kristie. It's been a lot of split and meet up again. This time, it was for Trivial Pursuit hosted by Jessica Andersen and Hannah Howell. It was fun and surprisingly, we weren't that many. We were split into 2 teams and answered questions. It ended up being a tie :) (Jessica Andersen)

The biggest bummer for me yesterday was that Jim Butcher haven't made it to the RT yet because he and his wife missed their plane. There was an Author Chat session featuring him, MaryJanice Davison and Charlaine Harris. I don't read these two authors so I decided to skip and go to a different panel instead: Five Times a Night? Getting Honest about Sex Scenes with Heather Graham, Kathy Love, Erin McCarthy, Barry Eisler and F. Paul Wilson. It's not something I would attend usually, but the goal of coming to RT is also meeting authors that I read. Plus, I wanted to see Barry Eisler whom Jill, Linda and Mary praised a lot during lunch :P The best moment had to be when the authors were talking statistics... and one of the statistic was that the average erected penis circumference was 4 inches something and F. Paul Wilson found it hard to believe... and Barry Eisler spoke up saying that the previous week, for some reason, he actually measured the tour of his index and middle finger together and it was more than 4 inches. Of course, it just happened that someone in the audience had a measuring tape, so Ms Graham made sure that M Eisler was saying the truth... turns out that it was more than 4.5 inches!! LMAO. Anyway, lots of laughs in this panel. M Wilson brought up the fact that when he talks to romance authors, many of them say that they dislike/hate writing sex scenes. The consensus is because sex scenes are so important to the storyline as they are part and further the relatiosnships, they are hard to write. Another funny moment was when Ms McCarthy was recounting how an editor told her that blow-jobs were passé and M Eisler said, "Wow, I don't want to live in that world." LOL. It's very spontaneous at those panels/wokshops and that makes for a lot of fun. By the way, blow jobs are not passé - in case you were worried :P (Barry Eisler and Heather Graham... measuring :P)

I joined up with Jill, Linda, Marie and Kristy again fo the Intergalatic Bar and Grill event which is hosted Catherine Asaro, Jess Granger, Cindy Holby, Stacey Klemstein, Isabo Kelly, Janet Miller, Karin  Shah, Linnea Sinclair and Jade Lee. It lasts about an hour and there's a "trivia" game going on. The concept is very interesting, but I think there was a bit too many people. (Jade Lee in the pic - we're fighting over a balloon dog)

The two last events of the evening were the Ellora's Cave Party and the Midnight Mad Hatters Historical Tea Party, respectively from 8.30 to midnight and midnight to 1am!! Yeah, talk about a jam-packed day LOL. I got all ready for the Ellora's Cave Party (the theme was red) and then, decided not to go. There were a couple of reasons - I don't read Ellora and I don't dance... but most important was that I wanted to go to the Midnight Mad Hatters Historical Tea Party more and decided it'd be a good idea to conserve some energy. Seriously, midnight to 1am. So what did I decide to do instead? LOL, if you've been on Kristie's blog, you know - bookshopping :) See, I had a 33% coupon on any item for Borders, but it was only valid Tuesday and Wednesday... and it was Wednesday.... so I had to go to Borders and use it, right? Kristie offered to drive me to the bookstore (yay!!), so she could take another look in her car for little Jack. I went on google map, had all the directions written out and off we went :) Well I'm really, really, really happy I did :) I got Changes by Jim Butcher and Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong - both hardcovers, The Wishlist by Gabi Stevens, Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson and A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison. I totally scored because initially, I thought the 33% coupon would go towards Changes... but turns out, Changes was already 30% discounted, so the coupon went on Tales of the Otherworld. Yay!! So the total came up to 60-something$ and I paid with a bill of 100$. I get my change and the cashier is giving me a bill of 50$ and I was like: Hmmm, can I get change please. Then, as I walk out of the bookstore, I'm thinking: "Wait a minute. She said 60-something, so why did I get a bill of 50$?!?" Looked at the receipt and indeed, the cashier gave me the purchase amount instead of the change... I was all super happy, I mean, come on, "Score!!" LOL. Told Kristie... and she made me turn around and be honest ^_^; She said I'd feel better... and perhaps I do, but awwwww.

Anyway, buying books really cheered me up :P Then, as Kristie drove back to the hotel, we were looking for a place to eat. I've really been spoiled living in Montreal, because we have fabulous food courts. If there's one thing I have to complain about RT it's the food, but that's for another post. In the end, we found a pub to eat - the food was okay.

We finally made it to the hotel and ran into Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Went up to the room, left all my new purchases and then, it was time to go to the Midnight Mad Hatters Historical Tea Party. I thought I'd have time to rest by going to the bookstore, but not really. The event was nice and seriously, there were some gorgeous hats and the authors were beautifully dressed :)

(Victoria Alexander, Heather Graham, Sally Mackenzie and Carrie Lofty)

And after this, I finally got to go to bed :P So yes, it's really been a full day. The schedule is quite busy... and that's why it took me 2 days to write this post!! LOL. Hopefully, I'll find time to write more... but no promises :P Pictures to come later... (no time to figure this out)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Re-Read: Through a Crimson Veil by Patti O'Shea

Amazing the things you can do when you wake up early enough. Plus, when you type quick enough :P Showering, blogging, answering emails, going through my Google Reader... reviewing :P The only thing I don't think I'll have time to do is commenting, but I'll catch up on that once I'm back home.

In the meantime, here is my re-read for this month: Through a Crimson Veil by Patti O'Shea. This is part of the multi-authors Crimson City series published by Dorchester and Through a Crimson Veil can definitively be read as a standalone.

Through a Crimson Veil by Patti O'Shea
published by Dorchester Love Spell in October 2005

Los Angeles. Once, it was the City of Angels. Now, it’s Crimson City, whose inhabitants know nothing of Heaven. The tentative peace between the species—werewolf, vampire, human—teeters on the brink of collapse. Sides are being chosen. Yet the peril is greater than any imagine. There is a power here that longs for release, an ancient darkness held captive too long. Below, beneath, beyond, it seethes. And there are those who would see it freed.

Mika herself seeks freedom. She’s come to Crimson City looking for the key. But that key’s keeper is a killer, an outsider, a mercenary with a poisoned past. To her kind, he has meant only death. No matter that Conor McCabe’s pale green eyes hold a hint of lust, the glint of a bond never to be broken; the path ahead lies in shadow. In a city like this, death can come by fire or fang, by claw or kiss. And the moment of truth must come…
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Crimson City, Book #3 (I think)

The Story: Mika is a half-demon from a weak branch (i.e. not very powerful, not very dark) - who can manipulate air and is very playful. As a half-demon, she has the ability of crossing the veil that separates the human and demon worlds while other demons have to be summoned. Because of this particularity, Mika is asked by the Council to fullfill a mission... Mika has every intention of refusing it, until she sees the picture of Conor McCabe, a fellow half-demon and her vishtau mate. Being a half-demon, she never really expected to have a vishtau mate (soulmate). However, how can she go around his back and complete the mission while gaining his trust? Add in a few very evil demons and a pair of hitmen who are after Conor... and it gets very interesting.

My Opinion: I really enjoyed this book the first time around. It was my first Patti O'Shea book and it really got my attention and put Ms O'Shea on my favorite author radar. I pretty much enjoyed everything: the writing which is engaging, the characters - I like Mika's playful side and Conor gruffy one; it's a bit the "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing up the stuffy hero" theme that I enjoy so much, there was also plenty of action and it was hot :) So seriously, what's not to like about this book?

This is not my first re-read of the book and it won't be my last either. What grabs me everytime is how much I like the characters :) Like I said, Mika is fun and she likes to push Conor's buttons. As soon as she meets him, she gets protective of him and tries to help him any way she can. The most important is that she helps him accepting his demon side. As for Conor, he doesn't know about the vishtau bond, but he can't help but being attracted to Mika and go all protective on her. They really complement each other very well... And seriously, I really have a thing for characters who sacrifice themselves for the other LOL. In a way, it's just so romantic right?

Ms O'Shea also has a writing style that suits me a lot. Even if the plot is not as engaging, her writing just pulls me in. It's fast and to the point. Ms O'Shea also puts a lot of scenes, time and efforts to build up the connection and chemistry between the H/H. She does have the perfect balance between the action and the characterization.

Of course, the story is a bit less exciting on re-reads because you already know what's going to happen... but that's what happens with the action-packed book :) But I really enjoy it every time I re-visit Mika and Conor :) They're just great :D

My Grade: B+

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Re-Read Challenge 2010: April

It's 6.42am in the morning. I should be sleeping, resting, gather my energy for the long day to come... but seriously? I can't anymore. I woke up at 4.30am and then at 5.30am... at 6.30am, I decided to throw down the towel and just not try anymore. Obviously, my mind is awake - either because it got enough rest (doubtful) or I'm just to excited for today (more likely), but I figured either way, let's take advantage of it. As a result, I'm sneaking on Jill's laptop and writing this post.

So obviously, since the time I wrote my last post and this, nothing has happened... except the three of us going to bed LOL. Ah well, actually... Jill and I are sharing a bed - these are tiny double bed, seriously. I have a single at home and this is not much bigger... and Jill was warning me that she pees a lot at night. Well LOL, as long as you don't pee in bed, I'm fine gal!

By the way... did I mention the other convention going on at the Hyatt Regency Columbus... so in addition of the RT, there is an undertaker convention!! So weird to have the two together. Obviously though, it's easy to know who's attending which convention :P

Okay, Re-Read Challenge. This is the end of the month. This post is going up a little bit early, but I figured since I have time, should do it. Who did their re-read this month? Just feel free to post a review link in the comment section if you did :) And I'll probably have a prize for this month's participants from the RT convention!! :D So this gives everyone a few days to re-read a book and review it :D Let say you have till I get back home (May 3rd) to make it!!

Have fun re-reading :)

Hilcia: Three Sisters Island trilogy by Nora Roberts
Nath: Through the Crimson Veil by Patti O'Shea
Ames: Irresistible by Mary Balogh
Leslie: Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RT 2010: Day 0

Hello everyone :D

Just to let everyone know that Jill, Kristie and I made it safely to Columbus :) I don't know how often I'm going to be able to blog... so I'll take this opportunity to blog a little...

Day started early for me, 5am to be exact. Luckily, I was all packed. The most difficult was actually choosing which books to bring with me on the plane. I got a case of "nothing appeals to me." Sigh. I finally brought Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts, Warprize and Warlord by Elizabeth Vaughan and Iron King.

My flight was delayed because they had to defrost the plane ^_^; Did I mention wet snow? However, I had  3 hours lay-over, so I was safe. The funniest thing happened to me though in Toronto while I was waiting for my 2nd flight. I was sitting there, waiting... and the two ladies next to me started talking and one mentioned Lori Foster signing. Then, I looked over and she had a Sony e-reader... so I asked if they were going to Columbus and if yes, RT convention... and they were!! One lady was an editor for Samhain, the other was... Michelle Rowen!! I got a nice little bookmart - my first freebie even before getting to Columbus! By the way, both ladies were very nice :) The connection is not just between bloggers, but even author-reader! Oh... and the flight from Toronto and Columbus? Ugh. I still feel nauseous from it... it was such a small plane!

Jill was already waiting for me when I got to Columbus airport and we shared a cab to get to the hotel. Kristie joined us about an hour later and after some rest, we headed out for some snack. Then, I went to the RT Virgin for some tips :)

The coolest thing though was that we were meeting with Mollie from Book Fare Delights - a Columbus native - for dinner at 7pm. The group suddenly expanded when Jill's friends joined us as well as author Delilah Marville! We had a really great time during dinner just talking about books, blogging and etc. :) So far, it's really been great. There's an insane amount of people this year - apparently, they're expecting 1200 attendees!! Can you imagine? That's just a lot, lot, lot of people! And everyone is just so friendly. People just come up to each other and start up conversation.

Anyway, so far it's very cool and relax... the next few days will probably be a lot, lot, lot busier :D But I'll still try to blog. Pictures to come later. I haven't figured out how to upload them ^_^;

RT 2010: Day -1/0

Hmmm, yes. I was planning to blog a little bit more about me getting ready for RT, but doesn't seem like it's going to happen...

Technically, it's actually Day 0 right now, since it's 12.33am. Guess what? Miraculously, I'm all packed. All I'm missing is which book I'm going to bring with me on the plane... The whole packing wasn't as difficult as I thought it'd be. There were a few panic moments of course, but otherwise... it's been going on smoothly.

I went to work today and it was okay. Not as hectic as I thought it would be. This is my first real vacation since I've started work. I wasn't the only one nervous LOL. Hopefully, everything will be okay ^_^;

Let see if I can recap what has happened in the last few days...

DAY -6:

LOL, it was actually funny. That morning, I came down to the kitchen early and was waiting my sister. While waiting, I started talking with my parents... It went something like this...

Me: Next week, this time, I'll be on the plane! I'm so excited!

Dad: So, how much is the registration for the convention?

Me: Huh? What?

Dad: You have to pay for those things.

Mom: Don't you see she's trying to avoid your answer.

Me: *really fast* 500$

Dad: What? Wow, that's a lot of money.

Mom: I don't hear you say that when you spend 500$ on wine. In the end, your wine is just pee.

Me and sis: Go mom!!

LMAO. It was sooo funny. That was such a good answer LOL. It wasn't that my dad disapproved it, but I guess he didn't expect it to be so expensive. I know I'm a grown woman and I don't need my parents approval, but I have to say, I'm glad my parents are okay with it. I'm not saying they've been supportive, pushing me to go, etc. But they haven't said anything along the lines of: "Why are you going?" or "This is a waste of money."

Day -5:

This is the day the screw got loose and my lens fell off the frame of my glasses. Let say, I did panic for 2 seconds. It was like: Oh no! Why is it happening now?!?! I need my freaking glasses on the trip!!

In the end, everything was fine. It took them 5 minutes to get my glasses back together... However, the lesson I got from this? Bring my extra pair of glasses to RT! LOL. Which is something I wouldn't have done in the past...

Day -4:

I don't think anything special happened really that day. Except I had to coach my co-worker how to process urine samples. My boss was being very paranoid and annoying. Oh, I did jump up and down when my boss said: Have a nice week-end... without any mention of me coming to work during the week-end! It was my first free week-end since Easter... Wow, seriously, Easter sounds so far away...

Day - 3:

Went to have breakfast and then shopping with a friend. Got this very nice red top that I'm bringing with me. Only problem is I didn't have the proper bra... So had to get a new one. Seriously, I'm so clueless about that stuff ^_^; My friend also lent me a suitcase weighter... Actually don't know how it's called, but it's a gadget that measure the weight of your suitcases... and it's like big as my hand. It's really practical and I'm really thinking I'm going to need it LOL.

Then, I went home and I played cards with my parents' friends. I lost :(

Day - 2:

I was still in my shopping mood, so I went out to look for jeans and accessories. Nothing appealing really... but I did end up buying Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts and Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery. Initially, I was going to wait to get to the States to buy it - it'd be cheaper. But then, I had a 35%off coupon that I used on the NR, so it was cheaper than the American price. I know I could have gotten it even cheaper in the States, but I figured it'd be two books less to bring back home right? Which is something very important given the potential number of books I'm going to bring back. So my logic is sound :D Except that I've started Savor the Moment today... and I really want to bring it with me now!! ^_^; Maybe I'll bring it with me to read, give it to Jill and then get a new copy when I get back?

Also, I brought up the suitcases I'm planning to bring with me. Nowadays, we're only allowed one free check baggage when traveling to the US with Air Canada. I've decided to bring 2 and just pay for the second one on my way back. The 2nd check baggage cost 30$ which is not too bad... and way better than if your 1st baggage is oversize or overweight (75$). I did toy with the idea of buying a bigger suitcase... but then, the limiting factor for me is not going to be the size, but the weight. When I came back from the Canadian blogger meet last year, my suitcase weighted 32kg!! The limit is 23kg by plane... So see, I don't need bigger.

Also, next time I'm buying a suitcase, I'm really going to pay attention to the weight of it, when it's empty. I was playing with the suitcase weight gadget and found out that my suitcases are 4 and 3kg respectively. That's a lot!!

I spent the rest of the day starting to pack... So I put a lot of clothes in the laundry ^_^; and then, I hunted for my cute high heels shoes that I bought for Holly's wedding... and I just couldn't find them!!! I looked and I looked... and I started panicking. Last time I saw them was when I went to California for my cousin's wedding. Haven't worn or seen them since... In the end, I was ready to give up and just bring my other shoes - the sandals one... Till I realized I haven't seen them either for quite a while!! Gosh. Finally, I found the sandals, but not the high heels. Phew. The sandals might not go with the dress... but who cares?

Day -1:

First thing my mom did was to look for my high heels shoes and of course, she found them... in the closet. In my defense, they were on the top shelf in a Gap bag... but yeah, it's a relief LOL. In any case, my feet going to hurt and I can't walk in those... but LOL, I'm vain enough to wear them.

Work was okay. Nothing special. I did stay a bit late, but that was my decision. I wanted everything to be done and clear for my vacation. My boss asked if he could email me in case of problem... Sure, but no guarantee when I'm going to check/answer.

Finally came home. Started packing. What annoys me is I keep misplacing stuff... like putting them away too well. That's really annoying. Anyway. I made copies of all my documents, left copies with my mom. I have the money, the booking info for flight, confirmation email for convention and hotel, my passport. I have the clothes, the books for bookswap, a toothbrush, shampoo-conditioner, toothpaste.... I have the camera, the batteries are charged, cell phone, cell phone charger, my mp3 players, earphones... I mean, I guess I'm set....

Oh, by the way, do you know what kind of temperature we're having tomorrow? Apparently, we're getting wet snow!! I mean, seriously?!?! It has to be the day I'm leaving on a trip!!! Grrrr. So far though, it doesn't seem like it started to rain or snow. I hope the weather ppl got it wrong.

And there you have it, the recap of my past week :) Now, I'm going to head for bed... Quite frankly, I'm not sure how I feel right now. I'm not really excited, but at least, the dread syndrome hasn't hit. I do think it's because I was too busy with work. I was very nervous today... or perhaps just worrying too much about small details... or perhaps it's the pizza I ate yesterday. A good night of sleep and everything should be good :)

My flight leaves Montreal at 9am. Should make it in Toronto at 10.15am. Then, back on the plane at 1.15pm to 2.45pm. I'm glad the flights are so short :) Jill and I are meeting at the airport... and by the time we make it to the hotel, Kristie should be in as well :D

Then, we're meeting Mollie from Book Fare Delights who lives in Columbus for dinner :D

Definitively, great time ahead!

I'll try to take as many pictures as possible and hopefully, be able to blog and check my emails... but at least, if I'm scarce in the next few days, you know why!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Roadkill by Rob Thurman

My poor blog! I haven't meant to neglect you! I swear! Things have just been hectic... and most of it hasn't even been related to my trip! Ugh, I was all ready to write this post last Thursday after work - even got to go home early!! I was changing into my pjs and what happened? The little, tiny screw in my glasses got loose!! That meant the lens fell... Luckily, I was able to find the screw and still had my old pair of glasses... However, the screw was soooo small I couldn't do it on my own. So I had to head back out, go to the store and have them do it. It took just a few minutes, but ugh, it was enough to exhaust me. (I kind of freaked out, thinking I needed the receipt so I looked for it... and I was like, what if they can't repair it?!? I need my glasses for everything!!)

Afterward, I think my brain has had enough and decided to shut down LOL. It needed a break from everything, including blogging and reading. I think I spent the past few days watching chinese tv series and this week-end, shopping. I did clean my room some, plus I started packing - actually almost done... All I have left to pack is my clothes that I need to wash first ^_^; and my cute shoes... However, I can't find them. Sigh. Nothing can't ever go totally smoothly, sigh.

Anyway, enough about that. You'll get more tomorrow about my packing and impeding trip. For now, let's focus on the review at hand. This review actually went up last Thursday at Breezing Through. I'm a few days late... so sue me LOL. Leslie from Leslie's Psyche and Hilcia from Impressions of a Reader... are joining me to review Roadkill - the latest installment in the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman :) You can click here to go directly to the review.

Roadkill by Rob Thurman
published by ROC (New American Library) in March 2010

It's time to lock, load, and hit the road...

Once, while half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko were working on a case, an ancient gypsy queen gave them a good old-fashioned backstabbing. Now, just as their P.I. business hits a slow patch, the old crone shows up with a job.

She wants them to find a stolen coffin that contains a blight that makes the Black Death seem like a fond memory. But the thief has already left town, so the Leandros brothers are going on the road. And if they're very, very lucky, there might even be a return trip...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros series, Book #5

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TBR Day: Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

Guess what I had in my inbox this morning? An email with the following subject: RT Booklovers Confirmation.  I think it's really starting to sink in... but I'm not going to bore you further with that :P Plenty of other occasions, right? Today is about the TBR challenge :P

Worth Any Price was not my first choice for the TBR challenge, but it's the book I finished, so it'll have to do :) In case you're wondering, my first choice was Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale... but it seems I've hit a wall while reading it. Which tells me I'm not buying any other books by Ms Kinsale till I manage to finish at least one of her books sitting in my TBR pile - I have 4. That makes sense, right? Or at least, it should LOL.

Last month, I re-read Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas for my Re-Read Challenge and I mentioned the war between Sebastian and Derek for Lisa Kleypas best hero. Both Holly and Leslie came forth to indicate that their choice for favorite hero is Nick Gentry. It got the ball rolling as I remembered Holly mentioning in back then as well and I was sure I had the book... even started reading it. So I looked on my shelves and sure enough, there was my copy :)  I thought this would be a good opportunity to pick it up again :P

Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas
published by Avon in January 2003
What is the price of love?

Nick Gentry is reputed to be the most skillful lover in all England. Known for solving delicate situations, he is hired to seek out Miss Charlotte Howard. He believes his mission will be easily accomplished -- but that was before he met the lady in question.

For instead of a willful female, he discovers one in desperate circumstances, hiding from a man who would destroy her very soul. So Nick shockingly offers her a very different kind of proposition -- one he has never offered before.

He asks her to be his bride.

And he knows that this will be much more than a union in name only. For he senses what Charlotte does not yet know -- that her appetite for sensuality matches his own. But what Nick learns surprises him. For while London's most notorious lover might claim Charlotte's body, he quickly discovers it will take much more than passion to win her love.

Genre: Historical romance
Series: Bow Street series, Book #3

The Story: Hmmm, I felt the blurb tried to sell the book too much by being over-dramatic. For example, sure Nick might be the most skillful lover... but was he reputed for it? Nope. Was Charlotte in such desperate circumstances when he finds her? Nope. Would Radnor destroy her very soul... Perhaps, but "destroy" is such a strong word. Anyway.

Nick Gentry used to be an underworld lord as well as a thief-taker (as I understood it, kind of a bounty-hunter) and that is how he amassed his fortune. However, he's had to turn a new leaf when his older sister married Sir Ross, a magistrate who's been working hard to bring Nick down. Thus, Nick changed profession and became a Bow Street runner which suits him well as it allows him to live on the edge.

One of Nick's private commission investigation is to find Radnor's run-away bride, Charlotte Howard. AFter two months of work, Nick finally locates her on Westcliff country estate as the Dowager's companion. However, upon meeting Lottie, Nick knows there is no way he'll turn her to Radnor... as he wants her for himself.

Two years ago, Lottie ran away from her finishing school and family to escape Lord Radnor's tight grip on her life. While Lottie's family is of good blood, they are poor and thus, they have enjoyed Lord Radnor's patronage in exchange of Lottie's hand. However, Radnor has wanted to mold Lottie into his expectations of a perfect woman, disregarding Lottie's nature and personality. Lottie got resigned to her fate; however, she also understands that Radnor's obsession with her is not normal... and thus, she decided to flee. Now that she is caught by Nick, Lottie realizes that there is only 2 options in front of her: run away once again, knowing that she'll always have to watch her back and hide because Radnor will not let her go or remove herself permanently from Radnor's reach through marriage... to Nick. Lottie chooses the second option, but she'll soon find out that life with Nick is full of surprises... especially since Nick Gentry is not whom he claims to be.

My Opinion: Ms Kleypas is a very popular author and I get why. I mean her writing is excellent and her books are different. Kristie has been complaining about the multitude of titled heroes and while Ms Kleypas has some, most of her characters are not and that makes them interesting. I do enjoy Ms Kleypas books, but the problem is no matter how much I want to, I don't love them... and it is the same with Worth Any Price :(

The strength of Worth Any Price was definitively its characters. I can certainly see why Nick Gentry is Holly and Leslie's favorite hero. He is definitively a very interesting character with lots of depth and a past that definitively gives him an edge. I liked the fact that he was so young, only 27 years old, but at the same time, because everything he has gone through, he has this maturity beyond his years. His personality was shaped by what he went through in life and that's good characterization to me. However, it seems that Nick's character was developed throughout the series and having not read the first two books, I did feel like I was missing something and that's very unfortunate. As for Lottie, I liked her as well. She was a good heroine with a head on her shoulders. She was independent and gutsy enough to run away to avoid marriage with Radnor, she was smart enough to assess her situation once Nick found her and made good decisions and still innocent enough to enjoy life at its fullest and be sweet :P She was a good match for Nick and I enjoyed the chemistry between them. I liked the fact that she was able to overlook Nick's "treachery" when they met, recognized and admitted the attraction between them and go from there, instead of dwelling on the past. Even after she learned more on Nick's past, she made efforts to understand Nick more and have a relationship with him. As a result, we get a very sensual book, I was kind of surprised at the level of heat :P

Unfortunately, I felt the storyline did not measure up to the characters. It wasn't bad per se, but there was not enough intensity for such strong characters. The storyline seemed quite passive and all the action, exciting parts were superfluous as they were not really related to the main plot. I usually like plots that are focused on the H/H relationship, but it didn't feel that way in Worth Any Price, probably because there were no obstacles between them.Yes, Nick had issues with his past that he had to work out, but it wasn't really enough to sustain a whole book. Sometimes, you need a bit more balance between relationships development and side plots.

I did like the twist about Nick's identity and how he was manipulated by his brother-in-law and I thought that part could have been more prominent and developed. It would have been interesting to see how the peers accepted Nick and his transition into his new position. Although, there are a few details I didn't get... why was his title still available? I mean, to my knowledge, when there is no heir for a title, it is reverted back to the regents who choose someone to assume the title no? So how can it sit idle for 20 years? Also, the characters kept saying Nick needed something to occupy himself and they propose he takes on some causes, etc. Hum, taking care of estates and tenants who have been neglected for 20 years is not enough work? The whole plot with Lottie's family, I thought Lottie and Nick could have been more forceful. While the parents were not deserving, the kids were innocent... and so, it seemed to me Lottie and Nick could have spent a little more time to make the parents understand that Nick could take care of them. By the way, the ending with Radnor - very anti-climatic ^_^;

Out of curiosity, was this the first book Westcliff appeared in? Funny how he seems to be the most recurrent characters of Ms Kleypas :D

My Grade: B. Very strong and likable characters; however, a storyline that fell flat a little bit :( Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed Worth Any Price, but I think it could have been more, better.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

RT 2010: Day -7

So it's official, there's only one week left till I make my way to Columbus, Ohio. WOOOOHOOOO!!! By this time, next week, I'll hopefully be enjoying a nice meal with Jill, Kristie and Mollie :)

I'm really super excited about the trip, meeting bloggers and authors, attending my first book convention! I know I'm going to have a blast!! I can't wait to start packing and organizing my stuff. I've gradually started checking out some stuff, trying to set up a loose schedule - I like to have an idea of what I'm going to do... Just as a guideline :D

So far, the dread-syndrome hasn't hit me yet. I don't know about you, but whenever I go on a trip, the few days just before, I start dreading it. Just don't want to go anymore ^_^; Of course, once I'm on the road, I completely forget about it and have a great time... but so far, nothing. Perhaps it's too early and it hasn't hit me yet. Perhaps it's because I've been so busy at work and I just want time off LOL.

While the dread-syndrome hasn't hit me yet, I've started worrying about the small details. Did you know I was an awful fretter? Yep, I worry about small things... How am I going to bring everything back home, the suitcases, the customs, etc. Also, I couldn't get a direct flight from Montreal to Columbus, so I'll be stopping at Toronto. I rarely buy connecting flights, I hate connections. This mean I'll have to go through the customs in Toronto... not sure how it's going to turn out.

A lot of emotions going through me right now :) And lucky you, I'll keep you posted on it all! :D

Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

Hmmm, I never got around to write my Best/Worst of 2009 recap post, but if I'd have, The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner would have been in my Best Top 3 books, Top 3 New Series and Top 3 New Author :D Does this give you a clue about how much I was looking for for A Conspiracy of Kings? :P

This was being released on March 30 and well, you know my online stock indicator stalking habit :P When I went to pick this book up at the bookstore, I was really excited :D I sat outside of the bookstore, scratching away the price tag and just petting the cover (which is gorgeous by the way!) LOL.

King of Attolia was released in 2006, so it's been about 4 years between the 2 installments. I was lucky to have discovered the series last year... I only wait for about a year... but seriously, even if I'd have waited 4 years, I have to say: the wait would have been worth it :P

***Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk :D

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
published by HarperCollins Publisher in March 2010

Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father's villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus — and Eddis — sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy-ish
Series: The Queen's Thief, Book #4

The Story: During the events of King of Attolia, readers learn that the country of Sounis is in turmoil. A rebellion is going on and the king's heir, Sophos, has disappeared. As the king re-seize control of his country, there is still no word of Sophos, which bodes bad news... until they start reading A Conspiracy of Kings.

A Conspiracy of Kings opens up with Sophos and the Magus trying to catch Eugenides' attention during a royal parade in the streets of Attolia... by shooting a pea at him! Readers quickly discover that Sophos has become Sounis, i.e. the king of Sounis, after the death of his uncle and has come to negotiate peace between the two countries (Sounis and Attolia). He also needs Attolia and Eddis' aid to unclench the Mede Empire's clasp over Sounis in order for the country to remain independent... However, to help him, Eugenides, Attolia and Eddis all need Sophos to step up and really become Sounis, not just in name... and to do see, he must regain control over his barons and lead.

My Opinion: Sigh. I loved A Conspiracy of Kings. Perhaps not as much as King of Attolia, but I loved it nonetheless :) The storyline wasn't exactly what I was expecting; in some ways, it was even better than anything I could have imagined. In previous books, Ms Turner kept me on the edge of my seat, as I was unable to guess how certain schemes would result, what twists would happen. However, she definitively managed to surprise me in A Conspiracy of Kings. As a result, this was not only a good and enjoyable read, but it was also a satisfying one.

Where to begin? The story, the characters or the writing? There's so much I want to say about this book :D LOL. To me, one of the reasons The Queen's Thief series stands out so much is because of its plot and its complexity. This series is about three countries and their sovereigns, so you have plenty of court intrigues, conspiracies, alliances, double-crossing, military matters, gathering of information, etc. and Ms Turner really constructs her plot incorporating all these elements. There are tons of twists and turns and surprises which keep the readers engaged, absorbed and guessing. The author is really a master at weaving all these plots together and it is done so smoothly :) But the best thing is that Ms Turner never shies away from the complexity, even though these are categorized as Young Adult novels and she's writing for a younger audience. She doesn't dumb her plots and conspiracies down to make them easier to understand. There are so many subtleties and intricacies in her storylines and the characters, the plot is really well thought out and executed flawlessly... and A Conspiracy of Kings is no exception. The plot is truly excellent in this book with many conspiracies, schemes and so on. The whole court intrigues vibe that I got and loved from the previous books is still very present and there were many instances where I couldn't stop grinning because I got fooled by the characters and their plans :)

I was really looking forward to read A Conspiracy of Kings, but was a bit worried that my expectations were too high and the book would be a let-down. As a result, I started to look for reviews back in February if I remember correctly, and found out through them that Sophos has become a slave. Having this piece of information, it did have an effect on me and what I expected. A royal prince, heir to the throne, being forced into slavery - this is not very original right? It's been done before... and so I was expecting the tone to be darker and more violent. I imagined Sophos suffering because for sure he's been mistreated, beaten... And this is where Ms Turner surprised me LOL. Sophos was kidnapped, but not forced into slavery. Actually, you could say that Sophos chose slavery in order to escape the conspiracy.. and he was really content as a slave! I mean, you have to admit, this is quite refreshing! LOL. So I was completely wrong and A Conspiracy of Kings was not dark at all, especially compared to some events in Queen of Attolia, and this was really a pleasant surprise.

Another reason why I love these books are the characters. Surprisingly, they are very well developed. I say surprisingly, because so many things are happening in each book, but still, you do see development, growth and maturity in the characters. They also each have a distinctive personality and are all very likable. I wasn't too sure about Sophos at the beginning. He's not someone you imagine as the heir of a throne. He's not autocratic enough. Before A Conspiracy of Kings, I'd say that he was missing charisma. He's more of a beta hero, someone who enjoys studying, literature and poetry, someone that is shy and easily pushed around. At the end though, he did step up to the plate when needed and became a wonderful protagonist. He doesn't exude charisma like Eugenides, but he has some great aura. To me, it seems he finally became a man, one that would shoulder the burden and responsibilities even if he didn't want them, even if he wasn't sure he could... and he did so, not for himself, but for the people he cared and his country.
I had wanted to find a better way than shooting an unarmed man. I had wanted my barons to choose me as king because they believed in me and because they believed in my ideals as I did. But that wasn't the choice I had before me, and I had already decided that I would make them follow me any way I could. i would not stand by and let them be lost to the Mede or to Melenze or to an endless civil war where they could never be free of bloodshed until the whole country was stripped to the bare bones. I f I couldn't be Eddis, I would be Attolia. If they needed to see my uncel in me, then I would show him to them. And I would take Attolia's advice, because if I identified my enemy and destroyed him, Sounis would be safe.
To me, what makes all these sovereigns so likable and endearing is how humane they are and Ms Turner did a wonderful job enhancing their humanity to the readers. Eugenides, Attolia, Eddis and Sophos. None of them are kings and queens because they want power or simply because they can. They each found themselves pushed in that position through fate and they do their best to assume the responsibilities. Being king and queen of a country, even a prospering one, is not always a happy task. So often, you have to put your personal feelings aside and look at the grander picture when taking decisions. They do what needs to be done, even though the consequences might wound them personally. One of the best example is in the beginning of this book, when Eugenides and Sophos reunited. Eugenides is very happy that his friend is alive and well, but upon learning that Sophos has become Sounis, Eugenides apologizes... that's because Gen knows that Sounis (the country) will have to submit to Attolia in order to get peace. So many things are out of their control even though they are sovereigns... and this is a side that is not shown often in books and so it's great to see it here, in The Queen's Thief series.

I thought the narration in this book was also very clever. Some parts were told in the 3rd person POV, mostly the scenes involving Attolia, Eddis and Sounis; however,  Sophos' story - what happened to him when he was kidnapped and when he returned to become king - was narrated by Sophos himself to Eddis. The changes of narration throughout the book definitively gave A Conspiracy of Kings a distinct vibe from Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia... and it accomplished a lot. Most importantly, through Sophos narration, readers got to know and understand him much better. I also liked the fact that it played up the romantic relationship between Sophos and Eddis... which by the way, was so sweet! I'm so happy they can finally be together!

Personally, I loved the scenes between the 4 sovereigns, their interactions and friendships :) I loved seeing Eugenides and Sophos renew their friendship after so many have happened to them. They're both have gone through a lot, mature... but deep down, they're still Gen and Sophos :)

My only complaint is that A Conspiracy of Kings was a bit short in comparison to King of Attolia. I wanted to read more about these great characters, want to see them interact more... I didn't want the book to finish because it means I have to wait till the next book (pretty sure there will be one). I also wished we've seen a bit more of some previous characters such as Costis and Relius. However, that's me as a fan of this series. Story-wise, this was definitively Sophos story, so it made sense for them not to appear...

My Grade: A-. A Conspiracy of Kings is a great book and a great installment in The Queen's Thief series. It has it all:  interesting characters, intriguing plot and exquisite writing. I hope we won't have to wait too long to see Eugenides becoming Annux!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In need of a break...

Okay, I gotta ask... is it tacky to start a post by "Hello everyone"? I do it quite often - probably the most among all the blogs I visit, LOL. I try to avoid it, but sometimes, I don't know... Like today, I was wondering if I should dive in and just start with what I wanted to say... but in that case, it would have been: "Sigh..." LOL. I don't think that's a better way to start a post... Am I the only one struggling with the first line?

Now, that aside. The past few days have once again been quite busy, mainly with work. You know the phrase "publish or perish"? Well it seemed like my boss just remembered it ^_^; Since the beginning 2010, he's been pushing my co-worker to write a manuscript, then he worked the whole month of March on writing one himself... and now, he wants to write another manuscript about the project I'm working on... before I leave for RT!!!! That's less than 2 weeks away! For the manuscript he worked on in March, he already had the figures and some abstracts... and it still took him more than a month!! Ugh. So he's pushing and pushing for more, partly because of the manuscript and partly because I'm going away for a week. Let just say the days have been long :(

Then, it didn't help that I had a presentation to give this week in front of our whole department. I really hate giving talks... and the worst is when you don't know what to say. One of the reasons why I "like" my current work is that it's pretty straightforward and I don't have to think too much. I do what my boss tells me. It's not mindless work, but I don't have to "analyze" the data - find what it means, what the repercussions are, etc. I'll find out what the level of a certain marker is, but I don't care what the level means. So basically, I was presenting our lab results... and quite frankly, I didn't know what to say about them... I didn't know the "story." Also, it took forever to get everything together - finalize the experiments, do the analysis, prepare tables and figures and then slides for the presentation. Ugh. However, it went pretty smoothly. Phew.

After the presentation, my boss told me to go home and rest. Mind you, it was already 4.30pm LOL, but I've been working long hours lately. So I was quite happy, especially since I didn't have to pick up my sister either. One street away from home, I heard a 'toc' and my car started making a lot of noise... something happened to my muffler. Sigh. Got home, asked my dad to take a look... My parents then sent me to the dealership. They took a look and indeed, need to change the muffler... but they don't have the parts, so can I come back, etc. By the time I got home, it was almost 7pm already :(

It just seems to me, things are always piling up at the wrong time. In May, there's going to be a symposium and my boss wants me to present. Ugh. I thought I could escape it when the resident that is part of our lab showed up to talk with the boss... but the boss believes we have so much data, we could split it in 2 and we could both present. Oh joy... not. Then, the reappearance of the resident means that we're going to start collecting urine samples again. I mean, it's part of the work, so I don't mind... but when your boss tells you something like: "Yes, we're going to start collecting more urine samples and it's going to be busy. Keep in mind, we also have the experiments to do." Seriously, I'm only one person!!! So yeah, I definitively need a break and I'm hoping that after I come back from RT, things will calm down. The good news is, I'm not afraid of losing my job soon!

Also, I don't know why, but I've been very moody/emotional lately... I thought it was PMS, but I think there's something more... maybe it's stress?

What about everyone else? How are you doing? How is work?

Oh, by the way, this is the song I've been addicted to in the past few days. It's from a chinese tv series, Chinese Paladin 3, which is based on a videogame. I haven't watched the whole thing and I don't think I will. I've seen all the parts I want to... it's really a lovely song though :P

Monday, April 12, 2010

Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

How was everyone's week-end? Mine was definitively too short as I had to work again on Saturday. Ugh. I can't wait for this month to be over, seriously... Well not exactly. I just need the next 2 weeks to go by super fast and then, the last week of April to go by very slowly :) Anyway, I guess I should be happy that I'm healthy. The people in my lab are all coming down with something :(

Okay, enough about work :P I haven't been reading much :( I've read 5 books since the beginning of the month and 4 of them were duds :( So I've been re-reading some favorites such as Demon Angel and Count to Ten. Not really proper re-reads, more like my favorite parts :) I also broke down and bought The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong to cheer me up :D

I also updated all my lists (books read, books bought, books reviewed, etc.) and it seems I've been doing well so far reviewing books :) Well, up till my boss overworked me ^_^; I've reviewed most of the books I planned to review for January and February... the only exception is Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb... so I thought I'd take care of that today :P

Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in February 2010
They were best friends, driven by one shared vision - to rule the world of virtual reality games. Cill, hard-edged and beautiful, Var and Benny, brains and business acumen, and Bart, the genius behind the idea. Their newest invention, developed to transport the player into a fantastical virtual world, is just about to be launched. Then, suddenly, Bart is found brutally killed, defeated by their own game. Their close-knit group is torn apart. Who could have engineered a virtual death with such devastating consequences? Even Eve Dallas, New York City's most cunning investigator, is hard-pressed for an answer. But as she digs deeper, peeling back layers of secrets, revenge and misplaced allegiances, she realises with growing dread the depth of the killer's master plan. And she knows his game is far from over...

Genre: Romantic suspense, mystery, futuristic
Series: In Death series, Book #37 (counting novellas)

The Story: Story is pretty much as described in the back blurb. The newest case that Eve catches involves the decapitated body of Bart Minnock, the founder of U-Play, a game company. Eve has to figure out who and how Bart was killed in a closed room... and her suspects are Bart's three closest friends and business partners. To help her, she enlists the help of EDD and Roarke. At the same time, Nadine is launching her book.

My Opinion: Fantasy in Death was another installment in the In Death series that was case-focused. I know a lot of people prefer the relationship-focused ones, but me, I don't really mind either way. Actually, I would probably get tired and annoyed if Eve and Roarke had troubles in every book given the timeline of the books (very little time goes by between each book). Problem was, the plot of Fantasy in Death wasn't great.

See, throughout the book, Eve tries to figure out how Bart died. The answer is quite obvious to readers, even though I have to admit, I have difficulty reconciling the idea and reality. I know the In Death books take place in the future where technology is more evolved, but still... it's just something I cannot imagine ^_^; I think this is two reasons I didn't enjoy Fantasy in Death as much. If only the readers weren't "shown" Bart in the prologue, it would have been more suspenseful and would have grabbed me more.

Also, there were two instances in the storyline where I found that Roarke acted out of character. I understand the need for a little conflict to spice things up between Eve and Roarke... but really? Roarke would get annoyed/angry for such a little thing? The man that has been so patient with Eve throughout 30-something books? I don't think so. It was an obvious ploy to satisfy fans that want to see something between Roarke and Eve and I don't think it worked.

Overall, Fantasy in Death just didn't grab me. Not even the bits with Nadine launching her book. Yes, it's fun to see other characters, their evolution, but it's becoming too blatant :(

My Grade: C. Okay, I realize this review is a bit short, but I've listed everything that didn't work for me. As for what works, well after 30-something books, you must know :D The writing is great as always, the interactions and dialogues between the characters, the investigative work, etc. :) Except for the plot, all the elements that make this such a great series is there, which makes me wonder if the books aren't becoming a bit predictable. Perhaps I simply need a little break from the series?

However, I notice this before with the In Death series. Back when Divided and Visions were released, I almost stopped the series. Then, Ms Roberts came back very strong. It's true that with such a long series, it's hard for it not to have some lull. What do you think?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Review: Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Don't you hate it when your planning goes awry? I was going to blog-hop and write the review yesterday while at work between my experiments. I was all psyched up, because seriously, I do miss blogging and commenting. Lo and behold though, there was no freaking internet connection for the whole day!! I mean, do you realize how much we depend on internet nowadays? And not just as a hobby but for work too! I was going to blog and blog-hop yesterday evening, but my sister used my computer for a while and I fell asleep ^_^;

Then again, there's always today right? :P

19 days till RT 2010 in Columbus!! Woohoo! I'm really looking forward to it :) You can't believe how my hands are itching to go buy books ^_^; but I'm trying hard not to. Really hard LOL.

*Warning: I usually do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum in my reviews. However, it wasn't possible for this one. Therefore, read at your own risk!

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
published by Berkley in March 2010

When mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy Thompson attempts to return a powerful Fae book she'd previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secret knowledge-and the Fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side - leaving Mercy to cover for him, lest his own father declare Sam's life forfeit.

All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn't careful, she might not have many more to live...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book #5

The Story: Seriously, I think the blurb has left out the most important element of Silver Borne, Adam and Mercy have to face "their" Pack. Okay, let's take it back from the beginning.

Mercy and Adam's relationship is deepening, but yet they're still at the dating stage. That's because Adam's Pack is still struggling from the past few events: accepting a gay werewolf in, taking a coyote shapeshifter for Alpha's mate, Mercy not knowing about Adam's declaration and her belated acceptance of the mate bond which kind of set Adam on the edge. You'd think things couldn't get worst, but they always can and what happens is a couple of wolves getting together and using Pack magic to create a gap between Mercy and Adam. While it doesn't work, it does declare loud and clear that there are issues in the Pack that Adam has to address and Mercy's decision not to move in has been the right one...

In the meantime, Mercy gets a phone call from Tad warning her to take care of the book about Fae that Phin lent to her. Mercy thus decides to return it, but the bookstore is closed and Phin cannot be found. After an incident at Mercy's garage, it quickly becomes apparent someone is after Phin, the book and Mercy... which means trouble for Mercy.

As if this wasn't enough, Mercy also has to deal with Samuel whose latest suicide attempt has failed and whose Wolf has taken over to keep them both alive. The only problem is letting the Wolf in control - that's usually a death sentence and now, Mercy has to figure out a way for Adam and Bran not to find out.

My Opinion: I'm a self-professed fan of the Alpha and Omega series by Ms Briggs. I'm not saying I don't enjoy the Mercy Thompson series, I do, but between the two, I prefer Alpha and Omega. I guess it's Charles and Anna :P Still, I've been looking forward to Silver Borne because I do enjoy the series, but I wasn't super excited like I can be for other books because I didn't really know what to expect of it.

After reading Silver Borne, I was content. The book doesn't disappoint, it's a solid good read, but it didn't blow me away either. As always, Ms Briggs' writing is great, she has captured Mercy's voice and the style is easy to read. There's also a lot of characters/relationships development and this is always something that readers look forward to. Where the book falters a little bit in my opinion is the plot.

As you can see in my summary, I would break down Silver Borne into three parts/storylines: the Pack,Samuel and the Fae. My favorite part of Silver Borne was Pack business and this is something Ms Briggs excels at. Unlike other werewolf series, I feel that Ms Briggs has done a great job throughout the series with her world building of Pack - the hierarchy, the dominance, the interactions, etc. She hasn't simply told us about it, but has shown us - mostly through the Alpha and Omega series. In addition, Ms Briggs' werewolf packs are very similar to royal courts with their intrigues and politics and it's just something I find interesting and fascinating. I thought Ms Briggs had a great plot concerning the Pack in Silver Borne, it was exciting and clever and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out more :D Basically, Adam's Pack hasn't been united for quite some time and there is a number of reason for it: Warren - the gay werewolf, Mercy - a coyote skinwalker, and the fact that it took so much time for Mercy to accept Adam as a mate which put Adam's on the edge and almost broke the Pack. Obviously, not every werewolf is happy and some have taken it upon themselves to create even more havoc - either to break up Adam and Mercy or simply take Adam's place as Alpha. Like I said, this was the best part of the book because I was really engaged. The bonus was getting more on Mercy and Adam's relationship since their relationship is somehow intertwined with Pack business. I enjoyed seeing Mercy and Adam together, how much they care about each other and have each other's back. I'd say this is the most romance/interaction between the two that readers have been able to witness and I'm really glad for it :D

Samuel's storyline was okay. I have to say, this was the storyline that worried me the most coming into Silver Borne because I read somewhere on blogland (I thought it was Renee's blog, but perhaps it's Mandi...) that Samuel's situation would get resolved. For some reasons, I assumed that meant he would be featured predominantly/the focus would be shifted to him. That worried me because while I like Samuel's character, I don't feel a connection to him. He's been quite on the sideline, coming out only when Mercy needs help. I just feel we don't know him enough to have him suddenly be the focus of an installment. However, I was wrong. Yes, Samuel was more present, but the focus wasn't really on him, so that was good :D Unfortunately, as I said, his storyline was only okay. I liked the part where Samuel's wolf (Sam) took control because he wanted to survive. The whole situation was quite interesting and I liked seeing Samuel's wolf and everyone else's shock and fear, but also the whole repercussion, i.e. hiding it from Adam and Bran :P What didn't work for me though was how his situation was resolved. Samuel's longevity has taken a toll on his mind, especially the loss of his children - that none of them made the transition. As a result, Samuel is depressed and suicidal... so what would bring him out of this funk? The answer was quite obvious - bringing up a love interest. However, I'm disappointed because it felt to me Ms Briggs took the easy way out: bring someone from Samuel's past up, someone that apparently, Samuel has been in love with. It seemed to me, if Samuel has really been in love with Ariana, who's a Fae by the way, he'd have kept track of her... or at least, he wouldn't be in the situation he is. When he started being so depressed, he could have tried to look for her, do something. Sure, Ariana is not really fond of werewolf so that's why they couldn't be together in the past and Samuel was being considerate and etc. However, everything just seemed to be resolved so quickly and easily. As soon as Samuel saw Ariana again, he suddenly wanted to live... There was no real development or transition. It just felt off after all the angst he went through. You'd probably get the same result with a new character, but at least, there'd be a bit more development, reasoning. That's why I feel Ms Briggs took the easy way.

Finally, there was the storyline with the Fae. It started out good, especially with the bounty hunter scene... but then, it took a backseat to the other two storylines and it never gained back the momentum. In other words, I just lost interest in that part of the book. In comparison with all the other adventures Mercy has gone through, this one fell flat for me. Thinking about it, it was probably just a foil to introduce Ariana... As a result, I can't exactly say that Silver Borne would have been better without it, but it could have been better. Most probably because the ending was rushed. Ah well.

All in all, Silver Borne was an enjoyable book. It was good and solid, but not a wowzer. Those who enjoy characters/relationships development will be very pleased, as I was. I really enjoyed the Pack aspect of this book, perhaps because it reminded me a lot of the Alpha and Omega series. However, I thought the two other storylines were a little weak, especially compared with previous installments of the Mercy Thompson series. Still, I have to say that Ms Briggs did an impressive job linking all three storylines together. The pacing was a bit off, but all three storylines was necessary to make Silver Borne :)

I hope that in the future, the books will focus a bit more on Adam's Pack. Ms Briggs have created a great cast of secondary characters and there's a lot of potential, especially since the Pack is on the road for recovery. I wished there would have been more of Warren and Kyle in Silver Borne :P I really like them. However, I'm content that Ben is getting more development. I didn't like him at first, but he's turning out to be a really interesting character :) By the way, do anyone know whether werewolf can become more dominant? Or their dominance level is set once they become werewolf?

My Grade: B++.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Monthly Reads: March 2010

I can't believe the long week-end is already over!! Where did all my time go?!? I really don't want to back to work tomorrow. Seriously, I'm not rested enough :(  At least, I will have blogged! I hope to find back my blogging mojo and rhythm... as well as reading mojo. Long week-end and I only read one book :( Ah well.

At least, I can look at my March reading list and feel good :D I read quite a bit this month and that surprised me a little, considering the last few weeks I've had at work. Then again, most of the books were read before things started getting really busy...

1) Roadkill by Rob Thurman: B+/A-
 Buddy review with Hilcia and Leslie coming up for Breezing Through .

2) All Night with a Rogue by Alexandra Hawkins: C-
 Buddy review with Ames and Monroe coming up for Breezing Through.

3) My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger: -

This was a re-read :) I was feeling a bit down and needed something to cheer me up. Plus, it needed to be light after Roadkill :P

4) When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn: B

5) How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle: B-

 The past few books by Ms Boyle have been hit and miss with me. Still, I like her style, so I gave this one a try. It was better than Confessions of a Little Black Gown, but I still had some issues with it.

Years ago, when Justin Grey - the Earl of Clifton - and his illegitimate brother chose to serve their country, they decided to become spies and were thus trained by Lucy Ellyson's father. Back then, Lucy helped and taught them everything she knew to make sure they would come back safely. Eventually, Lucy and Justin fell in love and Justin swore he would come back for her if only she waited. However, things have a tendency to go awry and circumstances change. Seven years later, Lucy is one of the dowager Marchioness of Standon (there are three :P) and Justin is coming back to a decrepit earldom. The only way he can escape marriage with an heiress is if Justin can find his brother's money which was left to an heir under the care of the dowager Marchioness of Standon...

I have to admit, it's the storyline that made me pick up the book. It sounded good and it actually was. The story was well thought out with a few good twists. The characters were likable and the three dowagers Marchionesses of Standon situation was quite funny. I especially like the beginning when Lucy and Justin meet again after 7 or so years and Justin has no idea Lucy is the dowager Marchioness of Standon that he is looking for. My only problem was the flashback that started after the meeting where we see Justin undergoing his training under the tutelage of Lucy, their attraction, etc. It was just too long - about half the book, and it took away from the whole book. I'd have liked to see the characters be a bit more developed in the "present," see them really reconnect. Once we come back to the present, everything unfolds too quickly - even though it all ties up - and as a result, it felt a bit rushed and not enough substance... and that's too bad because How I Met My Countess could have been more.

Still, Ms Boyle set up Mad About the Duke very well in this book and I'll be looking forward to it.

6) Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas: B+

7) What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss: B

Picked this one up because of the buzz around blogland. Many have reviewed it already and I agree with the majority. I thought the book was very well written and there was a lot going on for such a short book, perhaps a little bit too much. However, I enjoyed the subject matters in What the Librarian Did, because they're not often written about. I also really liked Devin, he was one yummy hero... but I wasn't too thrilled about Rachel. I didn't like the fact that she was using Devin. I think she should have been a little bit more honest and straightforward - it would have saved everyone a lot of pain.

8) The First Sin by Cheyenne McCray: D

Sigh. I bought this book and the second one believing they were paranormal romance - I don't know why. Perhaps because this author's other books are. This turned out to be a difficult read for me...

Alexi Steele used to be a sniper in the army until an op went wrong and she was court-martialed and found guilty. Then, she was kidnapped and broken by an unknown group and forced to kill whoever they wanted. Luckily, she was saved by the NSA's clandestine Recovery Enforcement Division for which she now works and specializes in human trafficking and sex crimes. She is currently investigating a human trafficking ring that is taking place in Boston's exclusive S&M clubs and her new partner, Nicholas Donovan, has a vested interest in this investigation as his younger sister has recently disappeared.

Human trafficking storylines are never the easiest to read about and The First Sin is no exception.There was little I enjoyed about this book, mainly because it wasn't believable to me. I guess Alexi Steele is an ultra tough, kick-ass heroine... but seriously, is there really someone this strong? It's easier to believe in these kind of heroines in urban fantasy and paranormal romance when they can heal faster or live longer... but Alexi is just like you and me. I just think there's a limit to what someone can endure. I'm not saying that Alexi should be crumbling... but seriously, it's hard for me to imagine she'd stay in the business. Of course, I'm a far cry of an army person so perhaps, I just don't get it. Anyway, let just say that Alexi has went through a lot in the past and she undergoes a lot here as well... and her recovery rate is unbelievably fast without much psychological trouble. The First Sin is also quite grim and some of the scenes, a bit too descriptive to my taste.

9) Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop: -
10) Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop: -
11) Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop: -

After reading Shadalor's Lady and re-reading The Shadow Queen, I realized how long it's been since I've read the Black Jewels trilogy, especially since many characters from the trilogy make an appearance. So I decided to re-read them. This wasn't a proper re-read, as I skipped some parts - mostly the very serious and depressing scenes, which is why I'm not writing a complete review... Although I should. Anyway, this is a really a great series, I still love the humor in it :) It's also nice to see how the characters have grown :)

12) Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper: B
13) Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper: B
14) Nice Girls Don't Live Forever by Molly Harper: B

This is the Jane Jameson trilogy. Picked it up after Isabel reviewed them (here, here and here) - I actually had the first book and needed someone to give me a nudge :P I'll try to do a proper post for it, but to sum it up, it was a fun trilogy. There is quite a lot of drama going on though, so these books are a bit exhausting :P

15) A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner: B+/A-
Review to come.

16) Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald: D

Hmmm, my attention was actually caught by the back blurb of Wild Hunt, but I figured I should read the first book before getting into the second. Logical right? Not sure it was a good decision though, but ah well. Too late now.

This is an urban fantasy series based on celtic mythology featuring Evie Scelan as the heroine. Evie has the "scent," kind of an extremely well developed sense of smell which she can use to smell the well-being of someone or track things down, etc. She gets a phone call from her first love who tells her he is getting out. He sounded a bit weird, so Evie wants to follow up on it and finally finds a dead body. Things then get complicated with the brotherhood he was involved with - they're been laying low for the past couple of years, but have decided to make a come back and for some reasons, are after Evie...

Okay, my summary was not clear, but can't help it because I felt so lost while reading Spiral Hunt. I kept waiting for the author to explain her world building such as the undercurrent, why people cannot get out of Boston, etc. but I waited in vain. Then, Evie wasn't the brightest heroine... From what I understood, in the past, those who could do magic were either recruited or eliminated by the brotherhood. Evie was always under the radar until recently... but seriously, if you know there's such danger near you, I would think you'd find out as much information possible to protect yourself, right? Also, you don't trust just anyone who helps you when you're in such situation. Anyway, just didn't feel it with this one.

17) Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs: B++
Review to come.

18) Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs: -

Felt like re-reading Hunting Ground after Silver Borne :P Still love it to pieces and it really sucks we won't get an installment in the series this year. I wonder how that will affect the timeline as well.

19) Lois Lane Tells All by Karen Hawkins: C+/B-

This is the second contemporary romance book by Ms Hawkins. The first one is Talk of the Town which was okay. Once again, Ms Hawkins starts strong but just can't seem to wrap it up as strongly.

Susan Collins now works for The Glory Examiner which Roxie has bought in Talk of the Town. She's really into her work and resent Mark Tremayne, Roxie's brother, management. However, she can't help but find him attractive à la Clark Kent way. Meanwhile, Mark is doing his best to save the newspapers and make it profitable in order to help his sister's out. This is all temporary however, once the newspapers is in the black, he's returning home to Raleigh where he has his accounting company to take care of.

Basically, that's what the book is about ^_^; Two persons that are trying their best to make a newspapers with two different visions. What I liked about Lois Lane Tells All were Susan and Mark. These are two grown-up adults, regular people and so, they are reasonable!! Once Mark explains what's going on with the newspapers finance to Susan, she stops being annoyed by Mark and starts working with him to find solution. Also, Mark realizes that Susan knows the newspapers business better than him and starts opening up to her suggestions. So yeah, I really like the H/H in this book and that is why I wished the book would have focused more on them and their relationship. Instead, Ms Hawkins brought back the Murder Mystery Club - a trio of old people who are fanatics of CSI and trying to find murder cases to solve. I mean, the idea wasn't bad, but this time around, the Murder Mystery Club was less funny and more in the way of the storyline instead of helping it. I mean, Lois Lane Tells All is 379 pages, quite thick, but I felt Susan and Mark's relationship really went nowhere. I mean, they are attracted to each other, share a couple of good kisses, lust after each other... then, finally, they have sex and you think, finally, the story is starting to shape up. Instead, they decide to keep it as a one-time deal because Mark is going to go back to Raleigh and Susan can't leave Glory... and you don't get anymore interaction between them till the end! This is a contemporary romance, the H/H and their relationship should be at the front and never take the back seat! I also wished Mark's character was more developed. Readers get a lot from Susan's viewpoint, but very little from Mark and whenever we do, it's never something really deep or personal. I'd have liked to see more of his personal side. The set up and build up was good, but the characters and story just didn't go anywhere :(

Yep, 19 books! Woohooo! It's been a while I haven't posted such a high number. Although I think what helped was that a number of the books were re-reads :)  They're always a bit quicker reads, don't you think? There were definitively some good books that I can't wait to review :) However, there were also some bad books... and that's a surprise... Doesn't happen to me often since I'm quite selective. I know what I like and what I enjoy... but seriously, you have to fall on a lemon from time to time, right?

Also, was I a good girl with my book buying? That was a goal I set out for myself starting from March, since I'm going to the RT convention. I want to try avoiding double copies ^_^; This pretty much means waiting till the RT to get some books... but I'm happy to say I was indeed a good girl!! Especially given the number of releases in March!

Books bought: +20
Books read: -14 (not counting the re-reads)
TBR pile: +6

As numbers go, it's not bad :D So there you have it, my month of March...