Saturday, February 27, 2010

Re-Read Challenge 2010: February

It's the end of another month, already. They come awfully fast, LOL.

So let's see who've done their re-reads for February! I didn't yet... and unfortunately, I don't think I'll make it T_T I've been reading a lot, but somehow, they all turn out to be 2010 releases... or almost. Perhaps I'll do a re-read in the next few days or read two for March. I just feel bad that I didn't have time to do a re-read, especially since I'm the host... but hey, I'm on a reading roll so I don't want to ruin it. Especially since I thought the Olympics Games would slow things down, but they didn't really.


While I didn't make it, I know some who did... and here they are :D

MsM: Come Lie with Me by Linda Howard
Hilcia: Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Ames: A Most Lamentable Comedy by Janet Mullany
Leslie: The Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas
Nath: The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

Enjoy!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

Wow! It was so windy last night, I'm surprised there was still a roof over my head when I woke up this morning! I hate it when we have such strong winds, it's just scary :( Snowstorms, thunderstorms, I don't mind... but strong winds...

It's almost the end of the Vancouver Olympics Games - only 3 days left :( I'm sad. I don't know what I'm going to do after it or actually, what I'm going to watch. Lucky for me, the Tim Horton's Briers is starting on March 6 :P Oh, and I still need to go watch the Percy Jackson movie...

Meanwhile, this week-end, I'm going to be reading, watching the Olympics and helping a friend paint her new condo. Should be fun :) What about you, any plans?

Oh, by the way, I have a review up at Breezing Through :P Ames and I discussed The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins. I really like Ms Higgins's style, unfortunately, this book didn't totally work out for me. Still, I'm looking forward to her next release :) For more details about my thoughts, you can go here.


The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins
published by HQN Books in February 2010


Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important... someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges" and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh

You know what I've been thinking about as I started this post? Lucky, I didn't start an Olympics blog, LOL. I mean, I've been watching the Olympics religiously, but I don't have much to say except for a lot of Yay! and Awww! However, I have to say that CTV definitively has an excellent coverage of the Games :)

Anyway, the book I'm going to review today is Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh. I'm a huge fan of Nalini Singh, but I thought Angel's Blood was so-so only. I still got Archangel's Kiss, but I'm not sure I would have picked it up any time soon if Ames hadn't enjoy it that much :)


Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in February 2010
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, is used to being in control—even when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority...

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena...

Genre: Urban Fantasy/paranormal romance
Series: Guild Hunter, Book #4 (counting novellas)

The Story: Elena has woken up for her year-long coma and finds herself confined to the Refuge, the sanctuary for angels kept secret from the humans. However, the biggest surprise for Elena is the nice pair of wings now attached to her back. After the events of Angel's Blood, Elena has become the first human transformed into an angel... well, a baby angel. Now, Elena has to adapt to her new life - not only how to cope with being an angel and immortal, but being Raphael's lover... and she has to do so quickly, since she is viewed as Raphael's weakness and thus, a target. This is why Lijuan, the oldest of the archangels, has organized a ball to meet Elena... However, there is more to look out for as an angel has decided to ascend to the title of archangel...

My Opinion: I really enjoyed Archangel's Kiss!! I thought it had a solid storyline, backed up with very interesting characters :) Much better than Angel's Blood as a whole for me :) 

I think the reasons why Archangel's Kiss worked better for me is the world building. In Angel's Blood, Ms Singh had to introduce a very intricate and complex new world - angels, vampires, hunters, etc. and while I liked the world building, it was just too much information. In Archangel's Kiss, Ms Singh is able to focus more on the angels aspect which in turn, allows her to focus more on the relationships and the plot. I mean, it's still a lot of information about the angels, but at least, it's mostly only about them :)

What really won me in Archangel's Kiss was the plot - the mystery. LOL, I like political intrigues in court and this is a little bit what is happening in this book with an angel wanting to ascend to the title of archangel and trying to have his/her way :) The whole "who is it?", "who dares doing that in my territory" and steering up troubles between two parties to start a fight/battle/war... I like it and I thought it was cleverly done :) It was interesting and it makes sense for Elena to be the middle of all of it. The scenes where Elena is learning about angels and training were very interesting as well and they just fit the storyline. My favorite is when Elena went to class with the little ones LOL. So cute!! I can so imagine Sam and his wings hanging on the floor!

While I enjoyed the angel becoming archangel's plot, I thought Lijuan's ball plot was superfluous. I think that Ms Singh could have developed the angel becoming archangel's plot more. Actually, she had enough for it to be the whole plot for Archangel's Kiss and it would have been great! Don't get me wrong, I think that the idea of the oldest archangel organizing a ball to meet Elena - that was a good idea too, with lots of potential and it could have continued the political intrigues. The problem was the execution. I think that the whole angel becoming archangel plot totally overshadowed the ball. Here, Ms Singh had the opportunity of write another very elaborate and intriguing plot, but she let go of the opportunity. I mean, Raphael and Elena don't head to China before what the last fifth of the book? I thought Lijuan's ball was going to be a wowzer, but it ended up being disappointing ;( I actually think that Ms Singh could have turn Lijuan's ball into a whole book. Ah well.

As for Raphael and Elena, well I liked them better in this book which is good. The book focused on them a lot more. It's interesting to see them get to know each other and how their relationship is developing. Too bad it's always in a hurry with so many things happening around them. I have to say, the first few chapters focusing on them were a bit boring... It seems to me Raphael is pushing and trying to establish himself as super alpha while Elena is like, no we'll be equals. Still, I like the dynamics of the couple and I'm looking forward to their relationship developing even more. When they'll really understand each other.

Once again, there were a lot of characters introduced. I liked learning more about the archangels. They're very varied and interesting as well as complex characters. We also get to meet the last ones of Raphael's Cadre of Ten. Once again, I think that Ms Singh tries too much to write "bad-ass" characters... they all seems sociopaths to me! I understand the world is a big and bad, but it'd be nice to see some people that are genuinely nice...

Oh, one last thing I found annoying was Elena's family storyline. I haven't been a fan of it in the first book and still not a fan of it in this book. In Archange's Kiss, Elena is recovering some of memories regarding the murders of her sisters and mother due to her transformation from human to angel. Problem is, I'm still not interested in re-visiting her past. I'm much more interested in her new life as an angel. I know that it was the tragedy that shaped up Elena, but we already know the big lines no? I guess that Ms Singh has a bigger plans for this storyline in the future... I hope so.

Overall though, I was totally engrossed in Archangel's Kiss and really enjoyed it. For the world, for the characters, but especially for the plot which I thought was very, very interesting :) It's a good thing too because I told myself I'd be deciding whether I want to continue this series or not after reading Archangel's Kiss. Well I'm continuing :D

My Grade: B++. Better, but not perfect yet :P

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

I've been quite lazy last week, but I'm determined to make it up :D I missed last week's TBR challenge ^_^; and I'm most probably going to miss this month's DIK challenge as well. I guess it's just not my year. I've been reading, but I don't really want any restrictions. Ah well, we'll see how it goes for the rest of the year...

I've read some very good books at the beginning of the month and am going to try to review some this week :D First, I'll start with the best :P


Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
published by Simon &Schuster in January 2010


My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I’m the most feared assassin in the South—when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way—good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction... especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Elemental Assassin, Book #1

The Story: After her family was murdered, Gin lived on the street till Fletcher Lane took her in. An assassin himself, he taught her the job and how to survive. Gin thus becomes the Spider, one of the most feared assassin, and Fletcher, her handler. Unfortunately for Gin, her life takes another sharp turn when she is set up during a job.

Basically, Gin was hired to kill the VP of a company who committed embezzlement. In reality, another assassin was waiting in the shadows to take Gin out, with a paper trail leading back to her to nail the coffin. Gin manages to thwart their plans, but she is too late to save Fletcher who was tortured in order to find the Spider's identity. If anything happened, Fletcher has always told Gin to up and run; however, Gin owns him too much and is determined to avenge his death. Knowing they would go after Fletcher's son, Finn, to find out her identity, Gin must save Finn. Then together, they can investigate who is the mastermind of this set up. However, Gin and Finn quickly realized they'll need some help to figure things out and have to turn to Dective Donovan Caine, probably the only righteous cop in Ashland... Only problem? Gin killed Caine's crook of a partner pro bono and Caine has declared the police of Ashland would bring in his murderer...

My Opinion: After reading Spider's Bite, I immediately went to Ms Estep's website to get more information (which I rarely do). On her website, Ms Estep writes  "Ever since I started reading epic fantasy books in high school, I’ve been intruiged by assassin characters and the moral questions they raise. [...] Assassins might not be the most sympathetic characters or the easiest to identify with, but I think they are some of the most fascinating." And this is something I totally agree with! I love reading books and watching series where the main characters are assassins, which is exactly why I got Spider's Bite.

I thought Spider's Bite was a great book :D Everything was great: the characters, the storylines and the writing. If I have any complaint, it would be the world building. I mean, it was okay, but at the same time, it could have been more developed. However, for once, the world building was secondary to me, because the rest of the book was so good :D

I really liked the characters. I particularly think that Ms Estep really nailed Gin's character as an assassin. Gin is not your regular kick-ass heroine or assassin in my opinion. Yes, she is tough, but she's not a hot head nor impulsive. She's very calm and patient. It's not a complete zen attitude and it's hard to describe, but I feel she's different than most urban fantasy/paranormal heroines out there. She doesn't talk big, she acts. Being an assassin is just a job like any other for Gin. She doesn't take pleasure in being an assassin and she has a moral code of her own. She's definitively an interesting character and combined with her past, mysterious. Finn is very fun to read, he's like Gin's younger brother. Someone who can take care of himself, but still need Gin to look after. There's also no resentment between the two which I find great. As for Donovan Caine, he's another interesting character. I would have liked to have read more from his point of view, but I liked what I read. Especially the relationship that is developing between Gin and Caine. Of course, Caine does not readily accept Gin, but he can't help being attracted to her. As a result, he's really confused. He's the type of men who sees the world in two shades only: black and white... while Gin is all sort of gray shades. I'm curious to see how this is going to develop.

I enjoyed the storyline a lot. I thought it was very solid and realistic - well for an assassin story. It was very exciting to follow Gin on her jobs and seeing what she would do next. Finding out who was the mastermind behind it all. It was also very logical... nothing supernatural happening to explain things. Also, the background given on Gin is just too intriguing and sets up very well for the series :)


I've read Ms Estep's Bigtime series books previously and really enjoyed her writing. In the Bigtime series, it was fun and fluid, but I thought the darker tones of this series suited her writing and made it better :D She really has a style that flows well and like I said, it just suits the series :D

Finally, as I said earlier, my only complaint would be the world building. Ms Estep has given us the beginnings, but she didn't completely develop. In Spider's Bite, you can find humans, vampires, dwarves, giants and Elementals. There are 4 types of elemental powers: fire, air, ice and stone. All of this was quite interesting, but I don't really know how all these races interact with each other. I mean, it's difficult to believe that they all mix well. In addition, Ashland, the city where the story takes place sounds like Gotham city... or perhaps it's because of Gin's job and where she lives - badder part of Ashland. But I mean, it's all about bad guys, prostitution, murders... It's a bit hard for me to visualize it with just the basics... but as I said, I didn't mind too much, because I was quite happy with the rest. Still, I hope Ms Estep will expand in the next few books :)

My Grade: A-. I really enjoyed this book and I'm definitively looking forward to the next books! Ms Estep has 5 books planned right now for the series and the good news is that Book #2, Web of Lies, and Book #3, Venom, are to be released this year in June and November respectively!! Woohooo!! I've actually read the excerpts and I think they are very promising :) Seriously, if Web of Lies and Venom are as good as Spider's Bite, I think this series will be series of the year for me :D

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My new haul :)

So as I mentioned yesterday, I went book shopping :D Are you curious?

Keep in mind that the reason I went book shopping yesterday was because of Customer Appreciation Day at Indigo, Chapters and Coles. This meant that I had 20% off on all the books I bought :D

First, I went to Indigo:


I got the Alexandra Hawkins because Breezing Through is planning a buddy review, but the two other historicals are impulse buys. I've read some Elizabeth Boyle and while some have been misses, others I've enjoyed a lot :D As a result, I'm taking the chance on How I Met my Countess. As for the Tracy Anne Warren, well she's a new author for me :)

Lately, many of my close blogger friends have been reading Sarah Dessen. LOL, yes, that's all it takes for me to go out and buy a couple of her books :) I've read Along for the Ride earlier this week and it was cute :D I'm not planning to read all of her backlist though. These two and The Truth About Forever were the ones that interested me most.

After Indigo, I went to Coles - that's the bookstore where I leave my list of new releases to be put aside - and picked up:


Wooohooo, total score LOL!! I'm really looking forward to Moonlight Road - I think I'm going to like the pairing featured. Also, Cindy has just recently reviewed Pleasure of a Dark Prince - it looks very promising :D

I actually hesitated picking up the books at Coles, because I have another coupon, a 5$ off on a purchase of 35$ and plus, expiring at the end of this month. I'm hoping that some books that I'm looking forward for beginning of March (Roadkill by Rob Thurman, Shadalor Lady by Anne Bishop and Don't Kill The Messenger by Eileen Rendahl) will be available early... but there's no guarantee, so I wanted to keep some books in case... but I totally caved, because I really wanted Moonlight Road.Ah well, I'll be crossing my fingers the whole week :P

By the way, does the elusive book syndrome ever happen to you when you go book shopping? I mean, you embark on a shopping spree to buy a particular book and just can't find it? Well my elusive book this week-end was Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson. I didn't really set out to buy it, but while book shopping at Indigo, I came across to Hallowed Circle which is book 2 of the series. It sounded interesting and so I wanted to give this series a try and looked for book 1 - Vicious Circle. The computer said there was only 1 copy at Indigo and I couldn't find it :( No copy at Coles :( 2 copies at Chapters and 1 copy at Indigo near my house. Hmmm, I didn't really have time to go to Chapters, so decided to give the other Indigo a chance. I called them while I was at work (reception job at the Missionaries of Africa) and the clerk said yes, they had a copy and he'd put it aside for me. I asked him to go check on the shelves and he just said: it's okay, the computer says they have one. Of course, you can easily guess... It wasn't there when I went to pick it up. The sale clerk searched for an hour, but couldn't find it. Sigh. The worst is I had a feeling this would happen. Which is exactly why I called first to make sure they had it. Ah well, it's okay, I got a coupon of 15% off on an item, to be used whenever I want... which I'll definitively be using on a hardcover book :) So not a bad trade-off. As for the Linda Robertson, I'll try to look for it next time I go to Chapters.

Winner of Percy Jackson and the Olympians

And so the winner for my Percy and Jackson and the Olympians week contest is...


LI

Congrats Li!! Please e-mail me at natuschan @ gmail . com to confirm your mailing address :D

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quick Reminder: Percy Jackson and the Olympians contest

Hello everyone! How have you been all?

Yeah, I've been a bit quiet this week ^_^; LOL, I think that last week's blogging as taken away all my blogging mojo. However, I hope to be back this week with some reviews :D Crossing my fingers.

I just want to remind everyone that today is the last day for my Percy Jackson and the Olympians contest. You have till midnight (EST) to participate :)

Today, I'll be going out to do some book shopping, so stay tuned to see my haul :) By the way, for Canadians, today is Customer appreciation day at Chapters/Indigo/Coles. If you are a I-rewards member, you get 20% off :) Aside from book shopping, I'll be watching the Olympics of course :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year - Year of the Tiger!!

While everyone write wishes for Valentine's Day, I'd like to take a few minutes to wish everyone

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!!
Year of the Tiger!


May this year brings you happiness, good health, wealth and security!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Contest: Percy Jackson and The Olympians!

I had great fun blogging about this series during the whole week, not only reviewing the books, but commenting on the upcoming movie :D I hope you enjoyed it as well... and I thought it was only fitting to end this with a contest LOL.

It's very simple, just leave a comment with which novel from the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series you'd like to get :D This gives the chance to people who have already start the series to participate as well :D if you've already read the whole series, what about the companion book?

You have a week to enter the contest, i.e. till 11.59PM on February 20. I'll draw and announce the winner on February 21 :D

Good luck!!

 

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

Yep, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians week is not over at Books, Books and more Books yet :) Almost, but not yet :) I thought I'd do a little recap and post my thoughts on the overall series.

 

It's clear from reading my reviews that I enjoyed the series :) Yes, there were weaker books, but there were also better books. As a whole, there's only one word to describe this series: GREAT. LOL, okay, there are many words: awesome, enjoyable and fun :P Especially fun. It's really no surprised the kids have enjoyed it so much, and so did the adults.

To me, it all started with the original idea of combining our modern world with the greek mythology. Seriously, this was a great idea for a world building, because Mr Riordan doesn't have to invent everything from scratch. It's really a win-win situation as well: young readers discover the greek mythology while older readers go ahhh and ohhh, remembering facts that were tucked away in their brain. I mean, while reading this series, I realized that I've picked up a lot about greek mythology over the years through tv, books and other media... and it was simply fun to go ahhh, I know this! and recognizing what myths Mr Riordan brought in. It was also the perfect blending between modern world and mythology and all the modern spins were quite humorous :)

Then, there's the plot which was very interesting and well supported by a very solid world building. The only storyline I found weak was the one of The Sea of Monsters. Aside from it, every book had interesting and complete storyline. The most surprising is that everyone of them contributed to the overall plot of the series. While reading the series, you never questioned why the author was taking this direction with this storyline or think that the series could do without this or that book. There was a gradual build-up throughout the series to the climax and every detail and every character seems to be playing a role in it. The action was great, engrossing and made the readers want to continue reading as fast as possible, but the best was definitively the twists and surprises :D They are many of them and they made the storylines so unpredictable, which you  really need to keep the readers hooked and wanting to read more.

Finally, there's the characters. I liked Percy a lot, but I didn't love him and I think this is a good thing. I feel like Mr Riordan wrote Percy the way he wanted, not a character to please the readers :) For example, Percy is not lovable in a sweet, sweet way. Instead, he has a lot of personality, good and bad qualities and that really made him realistic. It's really the same with Annabeth. She's strong and interesting and I like her, but don't love her. All the other secondary characters added substances to the series and were mostly fun to read about. Nico in particular was very interesting and as I said, I love Tyson :) The gods here were important to the storylines, but most of the time, were there to lighten up the mood :P What I really liked about Percy and Annabeth in this series was watching them grow, their maturation process. How they went to being 12 years old half-bloods to 16 years old half-bloods. How they dealt with their emotions and how growing up changed their relationships and their interactions with other characters.

So as you can see, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series was great to read, enjoyable and a lot of fun. I'd say all that is due to the care of Mr Riordan in balancing everything :) The only thing I found strange in this series was the gods relationships... and this is not due to Mr Riordan's writing. I'm a romance reader at the core, right? I love when my characters are faithful to each other and you know, I guess I'm traditional. It's just that the relationships between the gods, well it's weird ^_^; I mean, many of them are siblings, but they don't act that way. Many are parents/children, but they don't act that way. Many are spouses, but they don't act that way ^_^; So it's just a bit weird. I understand that's greek mythology and also immortality... However, when you see the gods having so many half-bloods by so many different mortal parents, well... Also, I think I would have enjoyed seeing older half-bloods, adult ones. Ah well, maybe in the sequel?

So yes, I loved this series. It was great fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy :) Yes, this is a young adult series, but it has great plots and world building and likable characters. Plus, Mr Riordan doesn't play the moral, preaching card... so this is pure entertainment :D

Friday, February 12, 2010

Review: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Wooohooo!! We've reached the last day of my Percy Jackson and the Olympians week!! I made it LOL. I've reviewed 5 books in 5 days LOL.

So let's jump into it right away :D

***SPOILERS ALERT, READ AT YOUR OWN RISKS!!***


The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
published by Hyperion Books in May 2009
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Genre: Young Adult, fantasy
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #5

The Story: The time has finally come, Percy is on the verge of turning 16 and the prophecy is about the become true. The last year has been difficult for all the half-bloods as they prepared for battle.

After losing a comrade in a raid the half-bloods organized, Percy realizes many things. First, there is a traitor among the half-bloods. Second, they have no chance to win as they are. If they want to survive, someone must be able to face off with Kronos who has taken over Luke's body, thus Percy has to get stronger. To do so, he has to follow Nico's insane plan: to bath in the Styx river.

Percy does so and returns to New York just in time, as the battle begins. Unfortunately, the half-bloods' odds still don't look good. Poseidon is busy fighting Oceanus, almost all the Greek gods have gone to fight Typhon, trying to stop his advance to New York. Many Titans have come out of their hiding places and lesser gods have also chosen to join with Kronos. All are making their way to New York, their goal being to reach Mount Olympus... and only the half-bloods (minus Ares cabin) are standing in their way.

My Opinion: The last book of a series is always read with apprehension, because at this point, everyone has expectations. It can either end the series on excellent not, save the series or ruin it ^_^; Well I'm glad to say that The Last Olympian belongs to the first category. It was simply a great book and definitively doesn't disappointed.

The most important I think was the plot. All 4 books have led to this moments and Mr Riordan doesn't screw up. Everything comes together in an excellent plot, all the loose ends are tied up, readers get their answers and are even surprised by some of the events. The action continues to be at the forefront, a definite important element of this series, but it doesn't overshadow the storylines. Instead, it reels the readers and the plot finishes the job by hooking them up LOL. Basically, you have everything in this book: betrayal, love, sacrifice and friendship. What makes it more realistic and better is that there are some losses, which is unfortunate... but necessary, I think.

Mr Riordan also does a great job, giving every characters some "screen" time. I was very happy to see everyone and even some new ones :P Seriously, this is a very hard thing to do when you have so many characters with such a complex storyline. In addition, the book was filled with surprises and twists. The most surprising one is about Luke. Very well written and thought out.

Perhaps the book was a bit more serious, with so many battles to fight. Still, Mr Riordan was able to add in some humorous scenes :) So, there's a great balance in this book. Basically, whatever worked in previous books worked in this one and it seemed to me Mr Riordan surpassed himself :)

The only thing one would complained is the characters' development. Personally, I was happy with it. The development of the characters is not as pronounced, but still continues in this final volume. It seems to me, all the half-bloods have grown up and matured. This battle has obviously weighted heavily on their shoulders and you can feel it. Percy's feelings and relationships finally get sort out. I was satisfied with it :)

My Grade: A-. Again, this was a book I just couldn't read fast enough, wanting to know what would happen. The best about it is that the ending was very satisfying :) Of course, there's a new prophecy indicating that perhaps, Mr Riordan would write a sequel or another series and that's simply good news :)

***


There it is, the movie trailer :) If you go on Youtube, you'll find a lot of clips and other trailers as well. It's worth a look :) I'm hoping to see the movie eventually (I'll have to juggle with the Olympics schedule LOL).

It's hard to say based on the trailer only... The execution looks great, I'm just worried for the adaptation. By the way, there are plans for a second movie to come out in 2012. So hopefully, they don't screw up too much ^_^;

Stay tuned tomorrow :) I'll have a short post about my overall thoughts on the series and a contest :D

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Ugh, I so need to stop playing Bejeweled Blitz ^_^; It's really taking a lot of my time, which I could be spending reading instead :(

My reading has been slow this week, but I've just finished a great book: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep! Actually, this month has been great so far, quality-wise :) As a result, I have so many reviews to write ^_^; Hopefully, my reviewing muse will not desert me!

But first, let's continue the Percy Jackson and the Olympians week! :P By the way, I'd like to apologize... my reviews for this series are a bit superficial... Like I only graze the surface and don't go too much into details. Part of it is because it's a series, so I end up saying the same over and over again ^_^; But also, it's been a month already since I've read them and I'm starting to forget the details... But I guess the most important is whether I enjoyed them or not, right? :)

***SPOILERS ALERT, READ AT YOUR OWN RISKS!!***


The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
published by Hyperion Books in May 2008

Percy Jackosn isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.

In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invite its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigods friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth - a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #4

The Story: It's now the summer and after the open house day at his new school gone bad, Percy is heading to the Camp Half-Blood. With Percy getting older and soon reaching 16 years old, Nico's disappearance and anger against Percy and Luke and Lord Kronos becoming more prominent threats, the tension at the camp is rising.

Then, during a training exercise, Annabeth and Percy inadvertently found an entrance to the Labyrinth. The half-bloods are aware that Luke is looking for the plans to the Labyrinth, which would allow him and Lord Kronos's army to invade the camp through an underground route, bypassing the protective boundaries... The only way to stop Luke is to find the plans first and so it's Annabeth's turn to lead a quest. Along with Percy, Grover and Tyson, she enters the Labyrinth. What awaits them?...

My Opinion: I really, really enjoyed The Battle of the Labyrinth :) Mainly because the action was non-stopped and of all the twists and surprises. I was simply engrossed by this book and couldn't turn the pages fast enough :)

What I really like about this series is that it is not too predictable and it's not filled with clichés. Add in the greek mythology and it's really refreshing and original :) Plus, Mr Riordan has a good sense of humor and so, there are many laughs while reading it.

Back to The Battle of the Labyrinth, so it has a very strong plot in my opinion. Some might find it too much, but to me, it was great :) I was happy to see Tyson again. It was so funny to learn that Tyson and Grover are scared of each other LMAO. There were many storylines, one of the most interesting one being Nico's. I was happy to see him again and glad that he had some closure.

Again, we see the characters grow and I'm always amazed at how Mr Riordan is able to incorporate these elements in the storyline seamlessly. Now, Percy and Annabeth are almost 15 years old... Deeper feelings are developing between the two... but add in a third party and the relationship and interactions between Annabeth and Percy definitively shift. LOL, Percy is really a guy, not being able to deal with it :P

The only thing that I didn't enjoy much was Annabeth's wishy-washy attitude towards Luke. I understand that he was her friend and someone very important when she was younger... and so, it's harder to turn her back on him and consider him "evil." But the fact that he is the enemy is undeniable and thus, I think that Annabeth should get her act together and treat him so. Her hesitation could have led to tragedies... but then, when you're 14.5 years old, it's not evident I guess.

LOL, something I kept wondering while reading the series was why the half-bloods weren't studying greek mythology more? I mean, wouldn't it be helpful to deal with monsters and people they meet? :) Instead of trying to remember, they would know! :)

My Grade: B+. Anyway, all in all, a great book with a good storyline. The Battle of the Labyrinth is very enjoyable and not just a connecting book or something written to advance the series storyline.

***



I was debating whether to post the movie trailer today or not, but I think I'll wait till tomorrow with the final post :) However, I'll be discussing them.

I've pretty much been through all the trailers available online. My sister has not read the books, so she's been quite curious about them. So I've seen a lot of scenes and characters and so on... and here is a list of things I've been unhappy with so far ^_^;

- Persephone's presence in the movie and the fact that she doesn't seem very much in love with Hades.
- They've eliminated Clarisse character or at least, I don't see her at all in IMDB. I mean, I've read somewhere that they've casted Silena Beauregard... That's just weird/wrong.
- Annabeth's invisibility cap seems to be missing.
- Percy looks way, way, way too powerful. I don't think he was able to manipulate water so well till the last book!
- Hades actually got his hands on the lightning bolt. By the way, I bet his Helm of Darkness is not missing.
- Percy vs Luke's showdown - on top of buildings and all. Ugh.
- What they did with Medusa's head.
- Percy's shield :(
- No mention of Kronos at all!

Okay, I guess the list could go on and on and on ^_^; Am I being too picky? It's just, I like my movies to be faithful to the books if they are adaptations. I can understand changes to the story if it's too hard to adapt... but to eliminate important characters and make things more dramatic just for the movie to be more of a hit. Nah... especially since The Lightning Thief is part of a series. I mean, are they planning to adapt the other books as well? In that case, they're going to have lots of difficulty...

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

And we continue with the third book :D

***SPOILERS ALERT, READ AT YOUR OWN RISKS!!***

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
published by Hyperion Books in October 2007
When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he'll need his powerful demigod allies at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and... a ride from his mom.

The demigods race to the rescue to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two new powerful half-bloods, whose parentage is unknown. But that's not all that awaits them. The Titan lord, Kronos, has set up a devious trap, and the young heroes have just fallen prey.

Hilarious and action-packed, this third adventure in the series finds Percy faced with his most dangerous challenge yet - the chilling prophecy of the Titan's curse.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #3

The Story: It's the winter vacation and Percy, Annabeth and Thalia are heading to Westover Hall to rescue Grover who is danger along with the two half-bloods he found, Bianca and Nico. They almost lose to the monster, but luckily for them, Artemis and her Hunters show up and save the day. Unfortunately, it is too late for Annabeth who has fallen down the cliff.

Later on, Percy, Thalia, Bianca and the leader of Artemis's Hunters, Zoe, set out on a quest to rescue Artemis who's left to find the monster that will destroy Mount Olympus. Percy believes that Annabeth is still alive and thus, if they find Artemis, they will also find Annabeth. However, what the group of youngsters don't realize yet is that they are walking into a trap carefully laid down by Kronos and Luke... but one they have no choice to fall into if they want to save Annabeth and Artemis.

Genre: I'm going to skip any comments on the writing, because it's still up par with the two previous books. During the whole series, the writing was consistent, easy to read and enjoyable. It fit the mood of the series and so, I prefer to focus on the storylines and the characters.

Overall, The Titan's Curse was more interesting and enjoyable than The Sea of Monsters, but I feel something was missing. On one hand, I was happy Annabeth did not play such a big role in this book. I was able to focus even more on Percy and how he deals with other girls, ones that don't always go along with his choices and decisions. At the same time, I think Annabeth and Percy's relationship is vital to the series, because it keeps evolving from book to book. Thus, not seeing many interactions between Annabeth and Percy, it made the book off a little bit.

Again, the book is full of action and it's very enjoyable. I think that the pacing was better, even though there was a little lull - when the kids found themselves at the camp. However, it was very short, so it was okay :)

I really enjoyed the introductions of the new characters such as Artemis and Apollo. Boy, are they different from the portrayals in the Dark-Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, LOL :) Thalia was another cool character and it's true that she is a female version of Percy. I wonder if they are so similar because they are both the children of one of the 3 big gods. Hmmm. I like how Mr Riordan writes Percy's internal struggles. They are all very subtly incorporated in the storyline and as a result, readers get to witness Percy's maturation. In The Titan's Curse, we see how Percy is used to lead, but with the presence of Thalia and Zoe, people tend to look at them for answers and plans instead of Percy and so, he has to deal with that. It's all very subtle, but at the same time, very realistic :D

What really makes this series work in my opinion is Mr Riordan's clever incorporation of the greek mythology. It's very interesting and fun. I know a bit about it, so I keep going ahhh and ohhh LOL. I also get to learn a lot of new things and that keeps my attention engaged :)

One thing I didn't like in this book was Bianca's character. She did not play such a big role, but her joining the Hunters annoyed me. I thought it was very selfish of her and I couldn't help but feel bad for Nico :( Especially at the end.

Finally, my favorite part of the book would be Bessie LOL. The fearful creature turned out to be innocent and cute :P Really clever of Mr Riordan. I loved seeing new gods and goddesses and how everyone interacts with each other. That was quite fun.

My Grade: B. Not the best book, but not the worst either :) Again, very enjoyable and fun.

***


Medusa = Uma Thurman, Chiron = Pierce Brosnan

I think Uma Thurman and Pierce Brosnan as Medusa and Chiron are two of the best choices for this cast. I mean, they just fit the characters and they are great actors. The snakes on Medusa's head are very well-done. I mean, definitively creepy and I can imagine it'll be even creepier on screen when they move! As for Chiron, well I thought Pierce Brosnan was a good choice... but oh my, the hair ^_^; A bit too long and curly ^_^; That's not quite how I imagined Chiron ^_^; He's supposed to be a centaur... and for some reason, I imagined him as a white horse. I guess in my head, I thought he was on the old side... Ah well. I'm getting excited for the movie, even though I'm not 100% sure after watching the trailer.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

So Day 2 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians week! :D Today, I'll be reviewing The Sea of Monsters, the second book in the series. From here on, it'll be hard to avoid spoilers, so be warned!!

***SPOILERS ALERT, READ AT YOUR OWN RISKS!!***


The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
published by Hyperion Books in June 2006

Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get... well ugly. And the unexpected arrival ofhis friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.

In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family - one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy
Series:Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #2

The Story: Wow, it's when I'm about to write this synopsis that I realize how much I left out in the review of The Lightning Thief ^_^; But let's give it a try :D

The Sea of Monsters start about a year after the events in The Lightning Thief where at end, Percy discovered that Luke, the half-blood of Hermes, was the real lightning thief. Luke has been enraged at the gods for ignoring and neglecting their half-bloods and wants to be recognized. As a result, he has allied himself with Kronos, the fearful king of the Titans, who has plans to destroy the Greek gods... Everyone believes that this alliance will play a huge role in the events that will happen when the half-blood from either Zeus, Poseidon or Hades turns 16 years old.

The year between The Lighting Thief and The Sea of Monsters has been quiet, except that lately, Percy has been having dreams of Grover being in danger. Then, on the last day of school, Percy is attacked. Luckily for him, Annabeth shows up just in time and they escape to the camp, dragging Percy's new friend, Tyson. It turns out that Tyson is in reality a cyclops and Percy's half-brother.

Things at the camp are not going well. First of all, Chiron - their mentor - has been fired because it is believed that he has poisoned Thalia's tree. Because the tree is dying, the boundaries of the camp has weakened as well, allowing monsters to come through and attack. Percy and Annabeth believe that only the Golden Fleece could save Thalia's tree... and luckily, Grover seems to have found it. Against the camp director's decree, Annabeth, Percy and Tyson embark on another quest: to find the Golden Fleece and save Grover... and thus, they head to the Sea of Monsters.

My Opinion: Let's get right into it. In my opinion, The Sea of Monsters was the weakest book in the series, definitively not my favorite. My main complaint was the overall storyline was not very interesting and failed to grab my attention. The reason was it took too much time to set it up and so, the action, i.e. the good parts, started very late in the book which is always a detriment in a fantasy novel. Then, once the action started, it was just too fast, one event after another and the end. I guess it was a question of balance and pacing, it just wasn't right... which is disappointing considering it was perfect in The Lightning Thief.

Still, there were some good things about it. I like seeing the characters' growth. Annabeth and Percy are now 13 years old and while it's only been a year, you do see some maturation. The best example would be Tyson. In some aspect, Tyson is simple-minded, not the brightest light and cyclops in general are not well viewed... and so at first, Percy was embarrassed, but he still defended Tyson when others were making fun of him. You see Percy's mixed emotions and how he deals with them and I thought it was very realistic and well-written. LOL, I have to admit, Tyson is a favorite of mine in this book :) He's just so endearing. His character is quite different from all the others: honest and earnest with a gentle core. There were quite a few LOL moments involving Tyson and Percy :D Other characters are starting to be more fleshed as well - that was interesting and a good build up for the rest of the series.

On its own, the storyline of The Sea of Monsters is weak and not as interesting, but it does have some quite interesting twists. Especially the end, adding another player in the whole prophecy :D So it does contribute to the series andit makes it worth to read.

My Grade: B-. As a whole, The Sea of Monsters is not a bad book: it's well-written, the characters are getting more and more interesting, it does contain some good action and a few laughs. Unfortunately, its storyline is a bit boring and weak in comparison to the rest of the series.

***


Yesterday, we talked about the casting of the main characters... today, it's the gods of Olympus' turn :D Let's start with the big three.


Zeus = Sean Bean, Poseidon = Kevin McKidd, Hades = Steve Coogan

As a whole, I don't really have any complaints about this casting. I'm a bit familiar with Sean Bean because of Lords of the Ring and of course, Kevin McKidd plays Owen Hunt in Grey's Anatomy, so he's not a total stranger for me. However, I do not recognize the actor for Hades. I'm actually not too worried about their acting, because their roles are not that large... The most important I think was their presence and charisma and in that department, I think they were good choices... especially Zeus. Also, I don't know, but there is a small family trait no?

My biggest concern is actually their costumes. Is that what they're going to wear during the movie? Really?!? Because it totally doesn't fit the description in the books. A better look below.



Sure, they're Greek Gods, so I understand what the costumes department was thinking... but hello, doesn't fit the description of the book!! I think this is going to take a lot away from the movie... because one of my favorite parts of The Lightning Thief was reading the contemporary descriptions of the gods. For example, Poseidon is a beach bum and Zeus, a businessman. As for Hades, I really don't like his costume... a bit too rocker or gothic in my opinion. I think they could have spent the money to make Hades' robe... it would have been much more dramatic.

In the two pictures above, you see 2 women... Athena and Persephone...


Persephone = Rosario Dawson, Athena:Melina Kanakaredes

Arghhhh!!! What is that?!?!? I have nothing against the actresses, they're both talented and beautiful women... but they don't fit the roles in my opinion!! Actually, the biggest problem? Persephone doesn't appear in The Lightning Thief since it's summer!!! And true, she's Hades' wife... but why the wicked look? I don't know, it doesn't really fit my knowledge of Persephone (plus, she's supposed to be blond). So I definitively think Rosario Dawson is a miscast.

As for Athena, well besides the fact that she too is supposed to be blond, nothing to say really. I think they could have chosen someone better to play the role, but Melina Kanakaredes is definitively not my first choice.

What do you think?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

How was everyone's week-end? Hope everyone had a good time, despite the possible bad weather :D

Mine was quiet, but enjoyable. I was able to read Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh and my favorite female curling team won their 3rd national title in a row! Woohoo!! Plus, I started reading a manga named Bakuman which was really interesting and enjoyable :D And I've even started cleaning my room again for the Chinese New Year :D Hopefully, it'll be done in time and I won't have to rush :P

Last month, I read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, all 5 books :) I've been meaning to write some posts about the books, but just haven't gotten around to do it. Then, this morning I realized that the movie is coming out this Friday... that's exactly 5 days. Hmmm, 5 days, 5 books... see where it's going? LOL. So let's start :)


The Lightning Thief by Rick Rioardan
published by Hyperion Books in June 2005
Percy Jackosn is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest. Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #1

The Story: Percy is a 12 years old boy who has always felt different from others and thus, isolated. In addition, weird things keep happening to him and lately, it's getting worse. First, he gets attacked by his math teacher how then disappeared and nobody seems to remember her. Then, his new best friend, Grove, is acting very strangely...

Sensing the danger, Percy's mother decides to bring him to a summer camp that was suggested by Percy's father. While Percy and Grover make it safely to the camp, Percy's mother falls victim to a Minotaur. Finally, Percy puts two and two together and realizes that he is a half-blood, i.e. the child of a mortal and a Greek god... and he is not the only one. The summer camp welcomes all the half-bloods and train them to face dangers and monsters.

Soon after his arrival, Percy is claimed by Poseidon... which causes a big brouhaha due to the prophecy and the breach of a pack. Years ago, the Oracle announced that a catastrophe would happen once the half-blood of one of the big Three (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades) would turn 16. As a result to the prophecy, the three brothers have sworn not to have any other half-bloods. Thus Percy is somewhat feared.

Furthermore, Percy has been accused to have stolen Zeus's lightning bolt and now set out on a quest in company of Grover (who turns out to be a satyr) and Annabeth, daughter of Athena, to find out the real culprit.

My Opinion: Okay, my synopsis was perhaps not the best... but all I have to say is that I really enjoyed The Lightning Thief a lot :D Enough to make me pick up the sequel right away :) Enough to have me read the whole series in a week! :D

Basically, I enjoyed Mr Riordan's writing a lot because it was simple to read. It seems to me the simplicity of the writing style showcased the world building, as in readers were allowed to focus more on the details of the world building. The world building was also very interesting and intriguing. I really enjoyed how Mr Riordan mixed the Greek mythology into our modern world and I liked the idea of a summer camp to train half-bloods. Even the idea of 12 cabins, each representing a god or goddess and their half-bloods living in their respective cabin. Everything was just fun and very clever. Definitively an interesting world and a good start for a young adult series :D

Not only was the world building interesting, but so were the characters and the storyline. The three main characters, Percy, Annabeth and Grover, were a bit stereotypical, but not annoying so they were fun to read and follow. The best though was to see Mr Riordan's take on the gods and goddesses - their personalities, the modern spin on them and their relationships LOL.

Great world building, fun characters and best of all, a great plot. The storyline was interesting, complex and it contained enough twists to surprise the readers and keep them intrigued. In addition, I felt the storyline was not overshadowed by the world building, which is rare considering how complex it is, so Mr Riordan did a great job balancing the two.

One thing I was happy about is that the relationship between Percy and Annabeth at this point is still very platonic. I mean, they're 12! I'm not even sure they really like each other LOL.

My Grade
: B++. All in all, The Lightning Thief was a very enjoyable. The focus was where it should have been and it's a great opening to this series :D

***


Here are the three actors chosen play our three main characters: Logan Lerman as Percy, Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth and Brandon T. Jackson as Grover. Personally, I have never seen any of these actors' performances so I cannot really criticize the choice. They all look older, more like 16 years old instead of 12 which is more appealing to the audience, so not a bad decision. I think Logan Lerman will be able to portray Percy convincingly. I'm not sure about Annabeth... She's supposed to be blond ^_^; Okay, I'm being picky here... but you know, would it have been hard to follow the book? As for Grover, well I guess they had to be politically correct, right? Among the three, I think he was the weakest choice... simply because he doesn't look "weak" enough in my opinion. Grover is not the bravest satyr and I don't think that will come across. I don't know if people remember the satyr in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but that was closer to my idea of Grover.

So what do you think? Do you agree with the casting of Percy, Annabeth and Grover?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Review: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Friday!! Yay!! I have to say though, I really don't want to work :(

This week has been quiet on blogland. Wondering what everyone is up to... Nothing much with me. I've been watching the Scotties Tournament of Hearts - Canada Women curling championship :) Very good curling this week... and then, next Friday is going to be the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics! yay! LOL.

Aside from that, I've read a little and bought a few books :D Got my hands on Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh. It came later than I predicted, Wednesday, and I went to pick it up on Thursday. James said I was lucky, because customers were fighting over it LOL. Of course, when a bookstore only receives 4 copies of it, it's likely :P I also got this week Truly, Madly by Heather Webber, Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis, Steamed by Katie MacAlister and Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale. Not bad for the begining of the month, right? :P

This week-end is going to be quiet I think. I'm definitively going to sit down and prepare some posts :) In the meantime, I have a review up at Breezing Through :) You can find it here. Big thank you to Christine for joining me and her patience!



The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
published by Simon & Schuster in March 2007

Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Re-Read Challenge 2010: January!

*This is sticky post. Please scroll down for new posts*

Yes, it is already the end of January. Went by fast, right?

So did you do your re-read? :) Like I said in the Re-Read Challenge 2010 post, this year will be a bit more informal and less strict. All you have to do, is read your re-read and review it. You can post your link in the comment section whenever you want, there's no deadline :)

Hope everyone will enjoy the challenge again this year :D


MsMoonlight: White Lies by Linda Howard
Hilcia: Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard
Nath: The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Ames: Sarah's Child by Linda Howard
Leslie: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monthly Reads: January 2010

LOL, now that January is over, I guess that year 2010 is officially here. Hard to believe that a month has gone by already!! So fast!!

Overall, I thought that January was a good month in every aspect. I might have gone a bit wild on the book buying, for which I blame the coupons :) Although I did read a good amount of books, so I'm happy. Perhaps I could have reviewed more, but I did blog... although I did not write all the posts I wanted it :( Still haven't written anything for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, plus I don't think the Best and Worst of 2009 post is going to happen... and I missed the DIK challenge ^_^; For this, I totally blame work because it's been so busy and it has cut into my blogging and blog-hoping time. I wish I could say it'll get better, but it doesn't seem so... and the Olympics is starting in less than 2 weeks!! Ah well, I'll find a way LOL.

So here is what I read in January:

1) My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger: A


2) A Stranger's Wife by Maggie Osborne: B-

Many bloggers are fans of Ms Osborne, so when I saw A Stranger's Wife at the UBS, I just picked it up.

Quinn Westin is in the running to be the first governor of Colorado, but his wife has disappeared and this could definitively make him lose the election. Thus, he looks for a look-alike and finds her in Lily Dale, a woman who has been jailed for murder.

I can certainly understand why Ms Osborne is a favorite. She really does have interesting plots. I did enjoy A Stranger's Wife's story very much. I especially liked all the twists at the end and the distinct characters. The characters are all quite ambiguous and not your typical alpha hero and tough heroine. Yes, Lily is strong... but there is definitively a vulnerability there. The reason why this doesn't get a higher grade is mainly because while they were interesting, I didn't connect much with the characters and the storyline and I thought the ending was not that believable. Yes, it's the ideal one, but it didn't fit the characters in my opinion.


3) Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry: B-

Home of the Holidays was not a bad read, it was actually quite solid and enjoyable. However, it didn't wow me. I wasn't as put off by the ending as others were, probably because I was expecting it from reading other reviews. Instead, what rubbed me wrong was Joe's attitude towards Hannah in the beginning, doubting her expertise as a mechanics. I thought it was rude of him to walk away from the SUV just because she was the one selling it. Also, seriously, the kid feeling responsible for the death of their parent - starting to be an overused theme.


4) Trick of Light by Rob Thurman: C


5) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: B+
6) The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan: B-
7) The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan: B
8) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan: B+
9) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan: B++/A-

I still plan to write a post about this series, but as you can see, it has been really enjoyable :D


10) Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin: C+


11) Blood Ties by Kay Hooper: B++/A-


12) Angel's Peak by Robyn Carr: B-/B

Review to come.


13) Suddenly by Candace Camp: C

I picked this book up because the back blurb sounded pretty cute... and I've just, just realized that this was a re-print!

Simon Dure, Earl of Dure, is looking for a wife to produce an heir and has set his eyes on one of the Emerson girls. Charity, wanting to save her older sister from this marriage because she's already in love, proposes herself to Simon.

So this is a marriage of convenience plot, plus a bit of "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing up stuffy hero" plot. LOL, if you've read my blog, you know I'm a fan of this kind of storyline... and while I did enjoy this part of the story, my biggest problem was the heroine. It wasn't that she acted childish, but it's clear that she's not totally mature yet. She doesn't seem the grasp the importance of certain things, situations, etc. She's also a bit too gullible which was at times very annoying. Also, at the end, she has a TSTL moment, ugh. You know your life is at risk and your husband has expressively told you to stay put... So why do you go out and put yourself in danger?!?! Please tell me.


14) The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins: -

Review coming for Breezing Through.


15) The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie: B


16) Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan: C+

Got the book after I read Ames and Monroe's review over at Breezing Through.

Hmmm. Not a bad book, but I just didn't connect with it at all... not on any levels. It felt flat for me. Everything was just okay. I thought the author put a lot of conflicts and everything was resolved without going very deep. Sure, there were some cute moments and I liked when Jenny tried to make Gareth smile... but it just didn't do much for me and perhaps it was more my mood than the book, since the same happened with the next book ^_^;


17) A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James: B-

I had this in my TBR pile and decided to pick it up after reading Jill's review.

After his near-death experience, the Duke of Villiers has decided to take in his bastard children and raise them. However, his friends assure him that they'll never be accepted in Society, unless Villiers find the right person with the right status/breeding to marry and help him launch them, i.e. a duke's daughter. After having her heart broken by her childhood sweetheart, Eleanore, daughter of the Duke of Montague, declared that she would not marry anyone less than a duke... and so she's been off the marital market... but there is now a duke available...

Okay, not the best synopsis, but you get the idea. So the premises of the book were actually quite promising. I thought this would be interesting and enjoyable and it was for perhaps the first third of the book, till Villiers and Eleanore went to the countryside so Villiers could retrieve two of his children and meet Lisette, the other potential bride. Quite frankly, I could have done without the whole plot with Lisette, I thought it dragged down the whole book. The best parts of this book was the interactions between Villiers and Eleanore and Villiers with Tobias, his son. Villiers and Eleanore's banter was entertaining from their first encounter to the balcony scene. Then, I totally got confused with the engagement status! For a short time, Villiers and Eleanore were fakely engaged and then, not anymore. Lisette had a fiancé on the continent, but he got dismissed for Villiers... then, Eleanore got engaged to childhood sweetheart, but decided to marry neither. Bleh. I think the book should have remained focused on Villiers and Eleanore. I would have also liked to see Villiers becoming more of a father figure. Also, what happened to his other children? They were mentioned shortly in the first part of the book, but then forgotten... not even mentioned in the epilogue.

Finally, my last issue with this book was how Eleanore put her first love on a pedestal. I've just read a book where the heroine put her first love on a pedestal as well and seriously, it's just so annoying. These ladies put blinders over their eyes and just don't acknowledge reality! Eleanore was lucky to have a younger sister pulling the blinders off.


All right, so there it is, my monthly list of reads. Actually, looking back now, I didn't do that bad on reviewing :P Makes me feel better LOL. Something new this month is I've started keeping track of the books I bought and so, I can now imitate Taja :D But I will not list all the titles LOL.

Books bought: +26
Books read: -17
TBR pile: +9

Not too bad :P