Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

How is everyone doing? I hope well :) I'm feeling much better, finally! The vertigo is not completely gone, but at least is not constant. However, what makes me feel so happy is that my parents are home!! They've been gone for 2.5 months, on a trip to Vietnam :) Seems like they had lot of fun and I think it did them a world of good :) It's really nice to have them back and a full house now :P

Today, I've decided to review How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf... Thought it'd be nice, since I've been waiting for the sequel :) Enjoy the review!

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
published by Simon & Schuster in February 2011
Northern Exposure

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham-who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life in Alaska-has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he's not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated...
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Naked Werewolf, Book #1

The Story: After the end of her engagement with a man who was exactly the opposite of what her parents want, Mo figures it's time that she puts some distance between her and her hippy parents... and thus, move as far as possible while staying in the US: Grundy, Alaska.

Getting accustomed to Alaska's weather and being one of the only eligible woman in town takes time... but it's nothing compared to discovering that werewolves do exist for real and that your neighbor is one... and that you're kind of falling for him. However, being with Cooper Graham is complicated. First, there have been sighting of wolves and a few attacks... and Cooper can't rule out it was him. Then, there's his estranged relationship with his family that has been a weight on his shoulder and is not getting any lighter with the attacks. Can this work out?

My Opinion: So I picked How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf because I read Ms Harper's Jane Jameson vampire series last year (already?!?) and really enjoyed it. Ms Harper has a breezy writing style and a wicked sense of humor and I was hoping to enjoy them in her new series :) It's just unfortunate for me that I ran into some little issues as well ^_^;

What I liked about the book was the heroine, Mo :) I liked that Mo was finally taking charge of her life. Mo and her parents - mother in particular - have a difficult relationship. Her parents could be considered as extremist hippies - against meat, against capitalism, against processed sugar, etc. and have never really forgotten Mo for breaking from the mold. That means her mother regularly breaks into her place to throw out all the unhealthy junk she eats and Mo often does things just to be contrary. However, when Mo realizes she was going to marry a guy - not out of love, but because his type was all what her parents despise, it's like a reality check of Mo. Time to live her life for herself and thus the move. I thought it showed Mo's strength, but also her courage. Also, I really like her personality and manner, she was fun and reminded me a lot of Jane, but a bit more level-headed. I guess discovering that the paranormal is real is easier to deal with than turning into a vampire :P

I thought Ms Harper handled Mo's move to Grundy, Alaska pretty well. We got some nice introductions to the little town, some of the important players and to the cold LOL. I think whenever there's a book set in Alaska, the cold is always factored in and it makes it more realistic, because it's really an important element. I liked the little town and the sense of community there was - it felt a bit like back in a western, the pioneer feeling. And I think the pacing contributed to the feeling. Ms Harper took her time getting Mo settled and I enjoyed that part of the story :) Sometimes, authors seem to rush things along to get to "the" story, but not Ms Harper and I appreciated that.

So what were the issues? Well, the hero, Cooper Graham. I never really warmed up to him and as a result, I never warmed up to the romance either. I just didn't find him interesting ^_^; And that was quite the surprise, because after all, he's the werewolf and I was looking forward to get to know their world. We've glimpsed a little of werewolves in the Jane Jameson series and I was hoping there'd be a bit more links between the two series... Anyway, Cooper being the werewolf, I thought he'd be more interesting, more appealing... but he wasn't. Part of it was the character/man himself. He's  the quiet, silent type that seems very broody and surly. Also, he had quite a lot of baggage that he didn't seem able to handle. I don't know, but to me, it took a little bit away from his manliness. Women look for safety and security with man, or at least, I do, but I never felt like Cooper could provided it to Mo. It seems when things became overwhelming, he ran :( Another reason I might not have warmed to him is because the narration is from Mo's POV, so it skews things a little. It worked in the Jane Jameson series because Jane was turned in a vampire, but in this case, Mo is still human - so the werewolf aspect is not complete. In any case, I had difficulty understanding why Mo would fall for him, besides the fact that sex was hot ^_^;

Aside from the romance, there was a little intrigue with the wolves attacks that was used to introduced Cooper's past. Overall, it was okay - no real surprise there.

My Grade: C-. It might seem pretty tough as a grade, but I guess it's because I had high expectations ^_^; How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf shares a lot of similarity with the Jane Jameson series - great, quirky heroine with a dysfunctional family who discovers that the paranormal exists... And while the Jane Jameson series didn't have a great hero either, it got away because of Jane's tribulations as a vampire, a solid cast of secondary characters and Jane's overall growth throughout the series. As a result, Ms Harper's writing style which borders chick-lit works well. How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf just doesn't seem to have the same edge to it... and therefore, combined with a not so lovable hero and lukewarm romance, suffers :( Hoping however that The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf will be better... and LOL, I can't help but think that the woman on the cover really fits my image of Maggie ^_^;

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXVI

Hey there all!! How are you doing? :) This week has been pretty much up and down for me... so to cheer me up, I went a bit crazy on the book buying yesterday :) I think I deserve it and even if I don't, well who's going to stop me? :) So let see what I bought!

I started off the week with these two:

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy - This has been on my radar for a while... Actually, pretty much since Hils reviewed it :) I was actually going to get it as an ebook, but then, there was a 20% off coupon at Chapters/Indigo, so why not?

Almost Home by Mariah Stewart - I bought this one based on the blurb. It sounded pretty cute and something right up my alley :) Also, that 20% off coupon didn't hurt LOL.

Then, did you know...

Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne - So I read Texas Glory this week and really, it seems this year is going to be a Lorraine Heath year for me :) I am just enjoying her writing so much :) So what does it have to do with this book? Well did you know that Lorraine Heath also writes YA under the name of Rachel Hawthorne?!? Because I didn't! However, now that I know, I sure am going to try her out! :)

And I bought some e-books. Yes, e-books!! Surprised?

Texas Splendor and An Invitation to Seduction by Lorraine Heath - Yes, I continue by Lorraine Heath's kick :) After reading Texas Glory, I want to read Austin's story :) However, didn't really have the patience to hunt it down, so e-book it is :) After going through Ms Heath's back list, An Invitation to Seduction is the one that caught my attention the most. Seems like the kind of storyline I enjoy :) Also, if I'm going to buy one ebook? Why not two? Didn't hurt there was a 25% off either LOL.

Here Comes the Groom by Karina Bliss - This one came to my attention after reading Holly's review. I made the decision to buy it, but I was hesitating a little bit on format. The problem with category romance is that 1) I don't read much of it and 2) by the time I hear about a good book, they're usually off shelves already ^_^; So I've been thinking about it and decided that from now on, I would buy them in e-book format... that way, I didn't have to go crazy and look for it, plus I get to save a little bit, tiny bit, of space :P

Juggling Baby and Briefcase by Jessica Hart - I was going to buy this one back in October and got wishy-washy and lost the opportunity ^_^; At first, it was okay, but then I read Wendy's review and really kicked myself ^_^; So then, I decided to wait till I'd buy some e-books to get this :)

Demon Kissed and Shadow's Caress by Patti O'Shea - Ms O'Shea is one of my favorite paranormal author. There's just something about her characters and storylines that work for me :P Unfortunately, she's not hugely popular :( And this year, I don't really know if she has a new release with Tor :( However, she's had a few novellas/short stories with Harlequin that I've been meaning to get, but haven't yet, because it was e-book... and so I did yesterday :)

So there you have it, my new books :) I guess it'll be interesting to see if I buy more e-books in the near future or not LOL. What about you? Any interesting purchase?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

Hey everyone! Hope everyone is doing well :) I went to the doctor yesterday and got some answers. Turns out I'm suffering from BPPV - Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. The good news - it's not life threatening and there is something that can be done, a maneuver; the bad news - no magic pill to make it go away, highly recurring and basically comes and goes at it pleases :( But at least, I know what it is and so, it's not as scary anymore and I'm actually feeling slightly better.

I was wondering how I got BPPV, because it usually comes with age or head injury/trauma... and I don't recall any head injury. However, my co-worker mentioned the car accident I was in a few years ago and while I didn't feel pain, the impact and all might have made me more at risk for BPPV. Sucks :(

Anyway, life has to go on and as I said, at least, now I know :) For today, I have a buddy review over at Breezing Through. This time, joining me is Leslie and we're buddy reviewing the In Death series' latest installment! Click here to find out how much we enjoyed it :)

Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in February 2011

Detective Eve Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are following up on a senseless crime-an elderly grocery owner killed by three stoned punks for nothing more than kicks and snacks. This is Peabody's first case as primary detective-good thing she learned from the master.

But Peabody soon stumbles upon a trickier situation. After a hard workout, she's all alone in the locker room when the gym door clatters open; and-while hiding inside a shower stall trying not to make a sound-she overhears two fellow officers, Garnet and Oberman, arguing. It doesn't take long to realize they're both crooked-guilty not just of corruption but of murder. Now Peabody, Eve, and Eve's husband, Roarke, are trying to get the hard evidence they need to bring the dirty cops down-knowing all the while that the two are willing to kill to keep their secret.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Blood Stains by Sharon Sala

Decided to take a day off to go to the doctor today. Hopefully, they'll find out something or perhaps, just as usual, it'll all go away once I start doing some tests :P Either way, I think this is the best decision, because I don't know how I feel. Not well, that's for sure... but the rest... Anyway, I just hate it... This past year has been really rough health-wise. Of course, all these are minor-ish, compared to cancer or other diseases... but it just sucks not feeling well :(

Now, let see if I have the strength to write a review :P

Blood Stains by Sharon Sala
published by Mira in February 2011
At the reading of her father's will, Maria Slade receives shocking news—as a four-year-old, she'd witnessed her prostitute mother's murder and been taken into hiding by the well-meaning preacher who'd raised her as his own.

Maria remembers none of that. But now she's determined to flush her mother's killer out of hiding and discover the identity of her birth father. She heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she meets Detective Bodie Scott.

Empathizing with this beautiful woman looking to find out who she really is, he opens the decades-old case file. Their investigation leads them down a dangerous path, where no one is what they seem. Where a father does not want to be found. And a murderer has "like mother, like daughter" in mind for Maria.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: The Searchers trilogy, Book #1

The Story: At the reading of their father's will, Maria and her two sisters discover they are not their parents' children nor biological sisters, that each of them were taken in by their evangelical preacher father while he was preaching and doing revivals. Each of the sister came to him under different circumstances, delicate situations. At his death, Andrew Slade left a journal for each daughter with all the information he knew in the eventuality they would want to know their pasts and roots.

This brings Maria Slade - Mary Blake at birth - back to Tulsa. It seems that at the age of 4 years old, Maria witnessed the murder of her mother who was an escort. Fearing for Maria's life, her mother entrusted Maria's safety to Andrew who was renting the room next door in the boarding house. While Maria has no memories of her mother or her death, she still wants justice and therefore goes to the police station in order to re-open the case... and that's how she meets Detective Bodie Scott.

My Opinion: I really like Ms Sala's writing and some of her books are on my keeper shelf, having really, really touched me and that is why I read Ms Sala books :P Recently though, her books have been okay to good... I've only read Blown Away in her last trilogy, Storm Front, and it was okay. To me, it felt the whole trilogy was a bit off, so that's why I still haven't read the two other books. Instead, I decided to look ahead and wait for this one, which is why I had higher hopes :P Is it making sense? :P

In any case, I ended up enjoying Blood Stains :) The story is pretty straight-forward, Maria goes back to Tulsa to find out about her mother and her murder. She digs around, trying to remember things, goes to the police to re-open the case, meets people from her past... and becomes a target. The problem is that if you are familiar with Ms Sala's work, you are also familiar with this storyline as the author uses it often... very often ^_^; It works; however, it does take away a bit of the suspense. Also, how can these people find mercenaries so easily?

In any case, I think the strength of the book was the characters, from Maria, to Bodie, to Maria's mother's pimp, etc. Ms Sala has a knack at writing characters that you connect with, sympathize with. I really liked Maria, she was strong and level-headed.  After the initial shock of discovering that her father is not her father, her mother was murdered and was a hooker, she went back to find the truth and was solid. Of course, it did bother her that she could not remember some things, but she didn't lose patience, wasn't rude to others. Bodie was great hero material by being a good guy and knowing how to do his job. The romance did happen a bit quickly, but it was okay with me, because Maria and Bodie had chemistry.

My favorite scenes were Maria finding out about her past after visiting her mother's pimp and his sister who used to babysit Maria. You wouldn't think a pimp would be a likable character, but this one was :) He cared about Maria's mother, cared for Maria and after her death, really turned his life around. Also, Maria's mother was a great woman. She was illiterate and did what she could to survive and most important of all, she loved Maria.

My Grade: C+. While Blood Stains didn't wow me, I liked it a lot. It wasn't the emotional read that I know Ms Sala can produce and at times, it felt like the characters were just going through the motion as the storyline was so familiar... Still, in the end, I enjoyed it and that what matters :) Looking forward to Blood Ties :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXV

Ouf, another really quiet week, book-wise. On all the other front, it was so busy, sigh ^_^; But it's over and hopefully with it, the stress will go away. However, I think that I need to make some changes in my lifestyle. I need to get in better shape so I can deal with stress better. Can't always get health issues when I get stress :(

Anyway, here's my only purchase of the week :P I got it at a used book sale at the hospital. It's weird, because they don't have enough space to display all the books they have, so on the first day, I didn't see the book. Lucky I went by again on the second day.

Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath - I bought it because it's written by Ms Heath :P Yep, I'm a fan of her writing again LOL. She is known for her western, so that's why I got this book :) Hopefully, I'll enjoy it a lot :)

So what about you? Anything this week?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr

Woohoo, I'm back!! Okay, so I actually was never away, LOL... but it feels like it, sigh. It's been a long week, but everything seems to be getting back in place. The presentation is over, yay!! And it went well, so that's a plus :) The faucet was replaced earlier this afternoon, double yay!! So everything seems to be on the right track. The only thing that's still bothering me is the dizziness/vertigo. I have a case of dizziness/vertigo last year when I came back from the RT convention and it went away on its own... At the time, I thought it was due to lack of sleep. This time though, the vertigo is more severe and I really feel nauseous at times :( While I haven't gone to the doctor yet, I've called the health hotline and they told me that vertigo usually goes away on its own. That if it persisted another week or got so bad that I couldn't go to work, then to consult a doctor... So I guess I'll wait and see... hopefully, now that everything is okay, it'll go away. Plan for this week-end is going to rest :)

For me, rest means reading and getting back on track with my blogging :) So here we go, a review! :)

Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr
published by Mira (Harlequin) in February 2011
Rising sous-chef Kelly Matlock's sudden collapse at work is a wake-up call. Disillusioned and burned out, she's retreated to her sister Jillian's house in Virgin River to rest and reevaluate.

Puttering in Jill's garden and cooking with her heirloom vegetables is wonderful, but Virgin River is a far cry from San Francisco. Kelly's starting to feel a little too unmotivated…until she meets Lief Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screenwriter—a combination Kelly finds irresistible. But less appealing is Lief's rebellious stepdaughter, Courtney. She's the reason they moved from L.A., but Courtney's finding plenty of trouble even in Virgin River.

Kelly's never fallen for a guy with such serious baggage, but some things are worth fighting for. Besides, a bratty teenager can't be any worse than a histrionic chef…right?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River series, Book #13

The Story: Kelly Matlock is half in love with her boss/mentor, famous chef Luciano Brazzi. She is devastated when his wife shows up and tells her she's been sent by Luciano to break off things. Kelly is confused and feels betrayed because all this time, the relation was platonic. The collapse at the restaurant due to stress is the last straw for Kelly; she quits and goes to her sister's place to recuperate and think.

There, Kelly meets Virgin River's new resident, Lief Holbrook. Lief is an award-winner screenwriter. He's also a widower who is in charge of his deceased wife's daughter, Courtney. Since the death of her mother, Courtney has been going through a rough patch and getting involved with the wrong crowds. Lief hopes that the move will help and he'll get back the sweet Courtney.

Unexpected to Kelly and Lief, they both develop feelings for each other. However, things are complicated, especially when Courtney is far from accepting a new woman in Lief's life.

My Opinion: Hmmm, I had my doubts on Harvest Moon from the beginning. From reading Wild Man Creek, I was afraid I wouldn't like Kelly's character, because of her relationship with Luciano Brazzi. While I didn't dislike her character as I feared, I still had my fair of issues with Kelly and Harvest Moon.

Let's address the issue of Kelly's relationship and feeling for Luciano. So kudos for Kelly for not crossing the line and having sex with him, although she was very attracted. However, not having sex doesn't mean their relationship was not intimate. So I felt Kelly was quite hypocrite when Luciano's wife showed up and confronted her and the feelings of betrayals she felt towards Luciano. I mean, she talked and texted him several times a day, they had cook-offs, he turned her on... and she admits in Wild Man Creek that if he wasn't married yet, she'd have slept with him already. Really, sex was just a technicality in my opinion. And I know I'm being judgmental. I mean, if it was one-sided love and more innocent, I'd feel sympathy towards Kelly... but it isn't. In the end, it did affect her level of likability I think. I didn't dislike her - which is good, but at the same time,  I didn't love her :(

I think Lief was more likable. Poor man, not only has he lost his wife, but now, he's all confused by his daughter. I give him a lot of credit for being so patient and keep trying and reach out. At the same time though, I thought it was a bit unfortunate that the conflict between Lief and Courtney was based on miscommunication and misunderstanding. At the same time though, can't blame Lief. Hard to communicate with a teenager, especially if she doesn't want to. However, I thought that as a character, he wasn't very interesting. His situation was, but his personality. Like take away Courtney and hmmmm, he's a nice guy, but hmmmm.

The most interesting character and the one I enjoyed reading about the most in Harvest Moon was Courtney. Losing your mother is hard at any age, but during adolescence is worst. Especially when you find yourself with your father doesn't want you and you find yourself with your stepfather. Technically, it shouldn't be a problem because Courtney does love Lief and they used to get along well; however, she thought he didn't want her. Instead, it turns out that Lief was just angry at Courtney's father for rejecting her. Overall though, I think Ms Carr did a great job with Courtney's character and developing it. She really felt like a teenager, being sad about her mother, being rebellious to see if people around her care... but there was a sweet side to her, especially with her friends and dog.

Unfortunately, this all means there was three parties to the romance, not two. Courtney feels threatened by Kelly's presence and because of that, Lief and Kelly have to be careful at what pace their relationship develops. And it's totally understandable and once again, it shows how Lief is considerate... However, add in all the parts with Courtney and I felt the romance was very subdued and was more in the background. I guess though it's better than having too many storylines from previous characters.

Although one of the storyline was interesting - Jack and Denny. I was wondering how Ms Carr would wrap up this one, because from the beginning, it seemed a little bit too obvious. I'm happy with how Ms Carr resolved the storyline, although the twist wasn't that surprising. I do hope that Denny will get his own book in the future.

My Grade: C-. I think the problem with Harvest Moon is that nothing really grabbed my attention like in Wild Man Creek. The characters were all quite nice, but a bit bland and so was the romance. I found myself more interested in Courtney's parts than Lief and Kelly's ^_^; which saved this book from being an okay book. I admit I'm a bit disappointed by Harvest Moon, especially after a winner like Wild Man Creek, but I'm still going to continue with this series. I just hope the next characters are more appealing :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Women of the Otherworld series and Canadian Book Pricing...

Sigh. I'm really frustrated and tired :( Tell me, why is it that everything always happens at the same time?!? Why?  As if my presentation was not enough work, my co-worker's great-grandmother is at the hospital and that means we don't know how long my co-worker will be absent. Then, they've been doing some work on the building where I work since November (yes, yes, why do it during the winter?!?) and it hasn't been fun. Because of that, they've been having difficulties controlling the temperature and that means we've got extremely cold and warm temperatures, our pipes have frozen and burst, dust, etc. Now, I'm being told I have to clear the windows (they've been boarded up by the way, so no sunlight since October) so they can start working on it. So I have to clean up the area around which is not much, but where am I going to put all that stuff, no idea.

The worst though? The kitchen faucet at home :( We've noticed some problems with it on Wednesday... it was working for hot and cold water, but not warm (I have the kind of faucet with only one valve, so it swings from left to right) and if we opened too much, it leaked. I figured we could live with it for a while before getting someone to repair it... but I was wrong. Yesterday, it stopped working completely as in we couldn't shut the water anymore... Called a plumber who didn't want to come (fine!), then tried to change the faucet ourselves and seriously, I have no idea how it's been attached, but it doesn't look like I can fix it myself (not fine!). Arrghhh. So right now, I'm trying to track down the man who did the renovations on our kitchen recently and I'm crossing my fingers it can be resolved soon.

Okay, thanks for reading my rants. Enough about it though because I actually have real book news.

Let's start with the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. This is one of my favorite series - although I still haven't read Waking the Witch ^_^; Anyway, in her most recent newsletter, Ms Armstrong has announced that Women of the Otherworld series is going on hiatus. All the details are here, but the gist of it is that she was considering ending the series after Book #13 - which would also end Savannha's trilogy, but still had more stories to tell. However, she didn't want to reach the point where she or the readers were sick of the characters. So what Ms Armstrong has elected to do is writing those stories as novellas or perhaps coming up with a full-length novel or two eventually in the future. However, for now, the series is going on hiatus.

I don't exactly know how I feel about this news. Women of the Otherworld series is one of my favorite UF series and hearing that it goes on hiatus, my initial reaction was: Oh NOOOO! But then, hiatus is better than permanent end, right? Also, I've always wondered how Ms Armstrong would end this series... The difficulty of Women of the Otherworld series is the number of characters... They are so many and at different age/stage of life. I mean, personally, did I want to see Cassandra die? No, not really. Did I want to see Jamie grow older than Jeremy? Not particularly. Personally, I don't think Ms Armstrong could wrap up everything in a neat, nice bow. Well okay, she could, but would it be really realistic? Nope. So I think Ms Armstrong chose the best option. I'm also happy to hear that she's going to compile all her short stories from different anthologies and include new material :) If there was one complaint I had about this series in the past few years is that it was really spread around and that not all novellas were accessible. So yeah, overall, I guess I'm happy :)

The other news I have concerns the Canadian readers... Prices of books are finally coming down!! Woohoo!!  It seems that starting late April, some publishers have finally adjusted the price, given that the CDN$ is on par (even higher) than US$. Avon books will be 10$ instead of 10.99$ and Berkley books, 8.99$ instead of 9.99$. Okay, it's not much, granted, but it's better than nothing right? Other publishers have already started a while back (Grand Central Publishing, New American Library)... In any case, I hope it's there to stay :)

So that's it for today :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXIV

Ugh, why did we have to lose an hour this week-end?!? I have so many things to do, one of them a presentation for work :(((, and I don't feel like doing anything, sigh.

I think the most depressing though has been my reading. I have only 4 books read so far this month I think ^_^; They're good books though, which cheers me up, but still. Haven't been able to just focus and read in one sitting lately :(

Okay, going to stop whining LOL. Onto books or actually, book :) The next couple of weeks are quiet book-buying wise. Everything I really want is coming out at the end of the month... So I haven't had cause to step into a bookstore, but LOL, we all know that it doesn't mean anything. I actually pre-ordered The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong and needed a book to round up my purchase... so here is what I got :)

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John - I really like the cover of this book and read some good reviews for it. However, what won me over is that Piper, the heroine, is deaf :)

So there you have it, my haul this week :P

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh

Hey everyone! How are you doing? Hopefully, the weather is not too bad where you are ^_^; We've got some snow on Monday and again, yesterday evening. That means a lot of traffic, sigh... because yes, here in Montreal, no matter how much snow we get, we need to show up at work :( Boooo. So really, I should be on my way instead of writing this LOL.

Oh, before I get to the review, guess what? I finally updated my review archives :) Have been neglecting it ^_^; I had to go back to August... LOL. I think tomorrow, I might have a discussion post about it :)

All right, the review. Well it's not here, it's over at Breezing Through, here. Tabitha has kindly agree to join me to review Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh! :) Be prepared for a long read!!

Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in January 2011

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful archangel Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil…

A vampire has attacked a girls’ school—the assault one of sheer, vicious madness—and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders. The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear.

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Review: A Lot Like Love by Julie James

To popular demand, I am bringing you this review :) Hope everyone enjoys and that it'll give a few people the shove they needed to go buy the book :)

*Warning: The review contains spoilers. Beware*

A Love Like Love by Julie James
published by Berkley in March 2011

As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city’s top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there’s only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother’s release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau.


As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never get personal. This “date” with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment—one they’re both determined to pull off even if they can’t be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick’s investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they’re a couple, and what starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Connected to Something About You

The Story: After the events in Something About You, the FBI was been able to arrest Roberto Martino, head poncho of the largest crime syndicate in Chicago, and is now working towards shutting down all of his operations. One of them is a money laundering scheme that is run through Xander Eckhart's bars and restaurants. In order to gather evidence, the FBI needs to plant some bugs in Eckhart's office; however, security is tight and access, limited. The only opportunity would be during Eckhart's Valentine's party; however, the guest list is extremely exclusive... which is why, the FBI wants Jordan Rhodes' cooperation. What makes Jordan an excellent candidate is not the fact that she is the daughter of a billionaire or the owner of a successful wine shop, but instead, that the FBI has the perfect incentive to ensure her cooperation: the release of her twin brother from prison.

Jordan would do anything to help her brother and sneaking an FBI agent as her date to a party seems like a fair trade. The only problem she has is Agent Nick McCall grating her nerves. Luckily, he was only brought in to coach her and Agent Huxley and offer assistance as he has extensive experience of undercover work.Unfortunately, things never go as planned and when Agent Huxley falls sick, Nick has to step in... and when Eckhart gets jealous and wants to find dirt on Nick, the charade must go on... but what if it becomes the real thing?

My Opinion: Ms James is an author that I always enjoy, but while everyone looooved her books, I only liked them. My biggest issue with the books has been they weren't contemporary romance enough, a touch too chick-lit-ish. As a result, I went in A Lot Like Love with low expectations and I was pleasantly surprised :)

I think what worked best for me in A Lot Like Love were the characters and the storyline. I really liked both Jordan and Nick. I thought Jordan was a very interesting character, very sophisticated but at the same time, grounded to earth. Although she's the daughter of a billionaire, her father made his fortune while Jordan and her twin brother were growing up and is a firm believer of making it on your own. So Jordan pretty much grew up like everyone else, went to school, got a degree in business and drafted a business plan to open her wine shop. Even now, she does not depend on her father's money... and that's what made Jordan so interesting in my opinion. She wasn't born with the silver spoon in her mouth, but she knows both sides of the medal. When Nick meets Jordan, he thinks she is a spoiled princess, but she is anything but. Instead, she's independent, capable and smart. Another check in the plus column for me was Jordan's relationships with the people she loved. Her loyalty to her brother Kyle, which means she's behind him and also there to lend support. The fact that she goes each week to visit him and cheer him up, it means a lot and is very commendable. Also, she's known her best friends and maintained a relationship with them since college and fortune has not changed that. Really, she's just a regular woman with a very expensive car :) As for Nick, I liked him as well, although I thought his character wasn't as developed. Then again, what is there to say about a single man who's dedicated his life to his work which mostly consisted of undercover work? What I can say about Nick is that he did come across as manly, rough around the edge, but not overboard alpha and that was good for me :) It made him more normal and real in my opinion, although who doesn't know Dancing with the Stars nowadays? His reaction was funny though :) Something else I liked about Nick is that he was not too stubborn. For example, he had preconceptions about Jordan because her father is a billionaire and so he thought she was princess-y in the beginning. However, his opinion changed once he got to know her and admitted he was wrong. So a good guy who is able to match everything Jordan throws at him and even more :)

The story is as I described above. Jordan and Nick pose as a couple to go to the party so Nick can plant those bugs. What neither expected is Eckhart has been after Jordan, but because of Kyle's trial and imprisonment, his seduction has been on hold. He was planning to resume it at the Valentine's party and Jordan showing up with Nick really doesn't please him. He wants to find dirt on Nick to get him out of the picture and so, Jordan and Nick have to continue to pose as a couple... that means kisses and spending time together. I quite enjoyed the romance; it worked for me. I like that they had to spend time together, which means they got to know each other. I think that's really made Nick realize who Jordan was truly, how hard-working she was. It also showed Jordan's a better side of Nick as well, like picking her food, helping her close the store. It's all small things, but it gives you such insight.

Other things that worked for me and made this book better: Jordan and Kyle's relationship. Also, that Kyle wasn't such a criminal... what he did was stupid, but seriously didn't warrant jail time... and LOL, the Twitter Terrorist. It was a bit absurd, but all in good fun :) Nick's family - we don't actually see them (and I actually wished we did!), but there are phone calls and I think the dynamics said it all :) Finally, probably one of the best part, was the FBI's office. Loved seeing Nick and Jack Pallas competing with each other, their trash-talking, it's really what guys do :) Then you add in Huxley and Wilkins, LOL. I also loved Wilkins reaction when their boss told him the next assignment would be his LOL.

All in all, I think Ms James wrote great characters and a good story ;) The balance between the romance and plot worked well too :) I thought it was actually interesting. The humor was good and I had some nice LOL moments. My only complaint and why this book isn't getting an A grade is the way Nick's cover story broke. Having an ex-girlfriend coming and confronting Jordan and then, blowing Nick's cover, ugh. That's just too frustrating. I guess it could happen, but I felt it was the easy way out here. Also, I felt it really reflected badly on Nick's professionalism. What if Jordan had been the mark? As it is, it still put the whole investigation in jeopardy, with their suspect catching on! I didn't mind Nick's identity being discovered, but the way it was done, it really left a bad taste in my mouth...

Finally, I do think once Jordan and Nick really got together, the storyline snowballed to the ending. It was a bit rushed and the disagreement between Jordan and Nick seemed a bit foolish. However, it was all counteracted by all the goodness in this book :)

My Grade: B++. I am soooo looking forward to Kyle's book now! :) Also, I hope Ms James will continue with the FBI office, I think it's really a good set up for her stories :)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Hauling Sunday XXXIII

It's Sunday again! Seriously, I don't know what's been happening in the past few weeks, but time is really going by fast! Everything seems to be a blur ^_^; Ah well, I guess it's life LOL.

Reading-wise, this week was so-so. I don't know, I have all those books I've been looking forward to, Blackout by Rob Thurman, River Marked by Patricia Briggs... and it seems my brain just froze. I couldn't pick up any of those books and worse, it took me a week to read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, sigh. However, I did re-read parts of Demon Angel by Meljean Brook and Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher. Seems like my brain wanted something familiar :) Of course, that reminds me that I haven't reviewed the rest of the Codex Alera series... Maybe soon. Then again, I'm so behind on my reviews... but at least, I haven't forgotten them :)

Okay, something more cheerful - my new books! I actually only had a couple few new releases for March on my TBB list and nothing before the end of the month. However, this week was spring break so most elementary and high schools were off. That meant no traffic!! But more importantly, a sale on children and YA books!! So I went ahead and got a bunch of books that caught my attention throughout the past year. So here is my YA galore :)

Oh and I cannot forget...

Eighth Grade Bites and Ninth Grade Slays by Heather Brewer - I'm actually not very familiar with this series and author and haven't heard much about it on blogland. However, I always see her books at the bookstores. Always. What drew my attention is the covers and their concept and the fact that the main character is a boy. So we'll see how it works out :)

Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction by Simone Elekeles - An author and books that have gotten a lot of good buzz :) I was a bit hesitant about these books, because I'm not a huge fan of contemporary YA, but Ames loved it :)

Pegasus by Robin McKinley - Another book Ames have enjoyed greatly :) Also, I like the idea of pegasi :) Seems like a book for me :)

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes - I got this book because it's been featured at Book Binge and I trust the ladies over there :)

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - I've been eying this book for ages! Even before the release date. I mean, have you seen the cover?!? LOL. Just gorgeous and I hear the story is good :)

If I Stay by Gayle Forman -  Mollie loved this book, apparently, a very emotional journey. Again, I wasn't too sure about it, but it's paperback so why not? :)

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen - She's one of the top contemporary YA author for me, probably the first one I've really read and collect her books. I'd actually like a bit more romance and wrapping up, but I really like her style of writing.

River Marked by Patricia Briggs - Seriously, do I need to say anything? :P Okay, yes I do. I want the next Alpha and Omega book!!!!

So tada!! I think I'm good on YA books for a while :) What do you think? LOL.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Monthly Reads: February 2011

As always, it's a mad rush to get this post up :) LOL, pressure is especially on after seeing so many month recaps :) But I did it, yay!! Then again, I'm still playing catch up with my reviews and as a result, only managed to review one book read in February ^_^; Hopefully, my reviewing muse will not take a vacation and I can do better in March :)

I'm actually toying with the idea of doing Weekly Recaps... That way, it would lift a big weight off at the end of the month and I wouldn't be throwing so much at you in one post. However, I'm not sure I'd be able to stick to the schedule ^_^; What do you think? What would you prefer?

1) Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber: B+

2) Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh: B
  Upcoming Buddy Review with Tabitha.

3) Blood Stains by Sharon Sala: C+
 Upcoming Review.

4) Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell: D+

Lily Ivory is a witch of considerable power who has just settled down in San Francisco, opening a vintage clothes boutique in the Haight area. She spent the last few years roaming the world, but got tired of it and wanted some roots. During a visit to the elderly Mrs Potts to acquire vintage clothing, a little girl is snatched away by a demon called La Llorna. Lily has always been careful not to get involved in other people's business, keeping her gifts to herself... but for the first time, Lily feels like involving herself, especially if she can rescue that little girl. However, Lily's life is about to get very busy while she deals with the neighborhood male witch in charge, her new familiar - a gargoyle who can transform into a guinea pig, and a reporter who is out to bust out all things paranormal...

I've been wanting to read a little bit more mystery - never hurt to add some new series on your radar - and chose this book because it featured a witch. I like witches and sorcerers in books, perhaps because they are very similar to humans? However, I was a little bit disappointed with Secondhand Spirits. As the first book of the series, I was expecting more world building, more introduction to the main character... and I didn't get that. Instead, I had so many questions at the end - what is the extent of Lily's power, how does her powers work, how come there is such a big community of witches in San Francisco, etc. I feel Ms Blackwell didn't lay the ground work properly and that's quite unfortunate as the mystery was quite interesting. Since I didn't have a feel for lily, I wasn't invested in the storyline and that's why Secondhand Spirits was only okay for me.

5) The Countess by Lynsay Sands: B

Christiana Madison married Richard Fairgrave aka Dicky, the Earl of Radnor, in order to access her dowry and pay off her father's gambling debts. She thought herself in love with Dicky; however, as soon as their vows were pronounced, the considerate man turned into an horrible and abusive husband. She has had very limited contact with her family and friends, until her two younger sisters show up at her doorstep. Their father has once again gambled a fortune and it's Suzette's turn to try and save the family. Suzette has concocted a plan - marry a poor man who will let her keep half her dowry; however, she needs Christiana's help for her entree to the balls and soirees. Unfortunately, before Christiana can argue her case to Dicky, he dies... which wouldn't be such a bad thing; only, for Suzette's plan to work, the ladies cannot go into mourning! And thus, they have to conceal Dicky's death.

Things get even more complicated when hours later, Dicky shows up at the ball! What the ladies are about to discover is that Dicky was not the Earl... instead, he was the Earl's twin and orchestrated for his brother to be murdered... After months spent in America, the real Richard has finally made his way home and can't wait to confront his brother. To his greatest surprise however, his brother is dead and he is now saddled with a wife... What is a man to do in such situation?

I got The Countess because it got some good reviews in blogland and I'm happy I did. As a whole, Christiana was an okay heroine. I think she was a bit too hesitant, a bit too subdued... especially in comparison to her sisters. I feel Christiana was totally overshadowed by Suzette, because as soon as I met Suzette, I wanted to read her book. Richard was also an okay hero... He has all the good characteristics for being a great hero, but I think the problem is that the story is moving so fast, that readers hardly get to know the characters. The romance? Same thing. I'm not sure I can believe that Christiana and Richard fell in love so fast... I can understand the practicality of staying together, being attracted to each other, but love? Still all the flaws of this book are forgotten because of the absurd situation and the cast of characters :) I had a few LOL moments, especially when they tried to move the body LOL. Also, I think the storyline ties everything well together. Overall, this book was just pure pleasure :) It's actually the kind of story I could see being adapted into a movie... Try to imagine different parties trying to get rid of a dead body and keep being interrupted! Absurd, but fun :)

6) Unveiled by Courtney Milan: B-

A few months ago, Lady Anna Margaret Dalrymple had it all: beauty, breeding and fortune. However, all was lost when it was revealed that her father, the Duke of Parford, had an early marriage that was never annulled. His second marriage to Lady Margaret's mother was considered as bigamy and thus voided,  making Margaret and her two brothers were declared illegitimate. While her older brother Richard is campaigning to reclaim their positions in society, Margaret is nursing her ailing father and has also been tasked to spy on the new heir, Ash Turner.

Ash is a distant cousin of the Duke of Parford and has waited years to seek revenge over the Dalrymple family. He will never forget the duke for turning him around when he was in need of money, leading to his sister's death. He will never forgive how the Dalrymple brothers have bullied his two younger brothers when they were in school. A rich man, Ash wants to prove to the world that he'll make a better duke and has come to Parford Manor to learn about his future inheritance.

As soon as he arrives, Ash is attracted to the duke's nurse. What will happen though when he'll find out that she is not just a nurse, but the duke's daughter?

What I liked about this book was the premise. I thought it was very interesting and different, not the hero seeking revenge, but the duke's marriage being voided and his children suddenly becoming bastards. In those time, I think if there was something worst than poverty it was illegitimacy ^_^; However, it is also because of the premise that the romance didn't work that well for me. In short, I'm not sure it's believable that Margaret could have overcome her grudges and fall in love with Ash. Think about all the ramifications of suddenly becoming a bastard - losing her dowry, losing her status, losing her fiance, etc. Oh, Ms Milan did a great job at developing Ash's character so Margaret could get to know him better, see him in another light, understanding why he did what he did. She also did well penning Margaret's conflict to the reader... Still, I'm wasn't convinced by their love. I think another part of the problem was that from the beginning, Ash was attracted to Margaret, kind of like a soulmate bond - he saw her and immediately warned his brother off. I usually have no problem with love at first sight, but with this... I feel like the woman Ash got to know was not the true Margaret. Also, the big secret about Ash was superfluous in my opinion, like an olive branch for Margaret to admire and love him even more.

Aside from the romance, the rest of the book was excellent. I liked Ash's love, devotion and pride for his younger brothers - that was very touching :) I like Mark, Ash's younger brother who is writing a thesis on chastity! LOL. Oh and when he taught Margaret and the maids move to protect themselves. Even the antagonism between Richard, Margaret's brother, and the Turner's brothers was interesting. You really get why Ash did what he did... and personally, I was happy that Ash was able to seek his revenge without dirtying his hands. I mean, he did nothing wrong at all. If someone is to blame, it is the Duke of Parford who never got his first marriage annulled... not that he cared about anyone. All Ash did was expose the truth. Finally, I really how the whole thing was resolved :) It was very clever and in the end, right :)

7) Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr: C
 Upcoming Review.

8) Everyone Loves a Hero by Marie Force: D+

After safely landing a plane in a blizzard after his captain's heart attack, Cole Langston made the news and was proclaimed a hero. Being a hero had its pros and cons - having women flung at him, but also keeping him grounded for PR instead of flying, his passion. Then on the day he is cleared to fly again, Cole gets punched in the face when trying to save Olivia from a violent customers. Olivia. Olivia is a gifted artist who is studying business and working part-time at the airport to pay her tuition. She is drawn to Cole and cannot believe it when he reciprocates her feelings... and that's how their long-distance relationship starts...

This is my first sampling of  Ms Force's writing, although I do have her first two books in my TBR pile. I was looking for a contemporary romance and hoped that this would hit the mark. Unfortunately, it was just a so-so read. I like the general idea of Everyone Loves a Hero as in two people meeting at the airport and then, starting a long-distance relationship. However, it's the details and characters that lessened my enjoyment. Once again, I wasn't convinced that Cole was so smitten by Olivia. I didn't get what it was in Olivia that captured Cole's heart and made him abandoned his playboy ways. We're talking about a hero who has a woman in practically every city he flies to ^_^; Her beauty? Her femininity? Sure, there is something chaste in Olivia, but would that be it? Personally, I didn't think Olivia stood out much. It's not just that she was timid, but she lacked self-confidence and direction. Even as a reader, I found her a bit bland and therefore, cannot understand Cole's reaction.

I had a few more issues with the story overall. The most baffling thing was about Olivia's studies... She's studying business because she wants to make money, which I totally understand based on Olivia's background and her mother's way. However, one word from Cole and she suddenly believes in her talent and switch major from business to arts? Just like that? I didn't buy it. I also didn't like Olivia's behavior towards her mother. Granted, it was kind of deserved, but as a daughter to speak that way to your mother... The problem is that I think something should have been done much sooner about Olivia's mother and her problems. I did her father though, he really cared about his daughter. However, I don't understand why he didn't switch job earlier though or at least, interview ^_^; And oh, there was also the pregnancy scare and the desire to try for a kid. I don't know, in their romance, I thought it was premature. I guess that as a whole, I thought there was a lot going on in Everyone Loves a Hero and some of the stuff was superfluous - such as the secondary romance (if you can call it that). The writing style didn't help either ^_^; Don't get me wrong, I think Ms Force writes well, but her style seems to be a bit on the passive side, suiting slow-paced story. In Everyone Loves a Hero though, I think the book could have used a bit more dynamism, be a bit more fast-paced to keep the readers engaged.

I really wanted to enjoy this book, but unfortunately, too many elements didn't work out for me and that's why it was a so-so book :(

9) Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan: C

Miranda Grey is losing it. A few months ago, she was on the fast-track to stardom, using her music and emotions to reach out to the people... Now, her abilities seem to have taken the better of her and now, she has no control over them. She cannot even look into people's eyes without being overwhelmed by their own feelings. While she still performs, Miranda is only a shell of what she used to be and has taken up to alcohol to numb herself. She knows it's just a matter of time before she breaks; however, she doesn't know what to do... and when tragedy strikes, Miranda is not sure it matters anymore.

Luckily for Miranda, she is taken in by David Solomon, a vampire... She is taken back to the Haven where David helps her heal physically as well as mentally, in addition to teaching her how to shield her mind and control her abilities. However, David is not any vampire, but the Prime of the South. He came into power about 15 years ago after killing the previous Prime and instituted a no human kill law. Whoever breaks the law is punishable by death and will be hunted by the Elite.Many vampires were unhappy about this law and  bid their time to stage a coup... and it seems the time has come. Despite his budding feelings for Miranda, David must send her away for her own safety. Will they survive to meet again?

I heard a lot of good things about this book around blogland and decided to give it a try after I made sure there were no fairies :P Overall, I liked Queen of Shadows, but it didn't blow me away. I think it's mainly due to the slow beginning. It really took a while before the exciting stuff started, which is for me, the whole conspiracy against David. I thought that part would be more prominent in the storyline. Instead, the beginning focused a lot of Miranda and what happened to her, which is not bad per se, but didn't engage me very much. Especially given what happened to Miranda :(

Once Miranda was more self-assured, I started enjoying her interactions with David a bit more, especially when the two got together. As a heroine, Miranda was okay. She went through some tough times, but came out on top which shows her strength. Still, I didn't get the feeling that we knew her well, so it'll be interesting to find out more about her. As for David, I really like the aura he gave off in and can totally imagine him in his black trench coat :) I love the fact that he loves ice cream - so cute and adds a touch of normalcy. I really enjoyed David's interactions with his entourage - Faith, his first in command and Deven, David's mentor. It's good to see that there are characters keeping David grounded. All in all, I think Ms Sylvan did a good job with the world building and the characters introduction, giving us just enough details for us to be satisfied and not have questions :) Everyone in this book seems to have an interesting past/background that will be interesting to explore and discover.

One thing that bothered me however is the fact that David has sex with other women during the book which comes with the feeding. I know this is not a romance, so I should overlook it, especially when he was not with Miranda yet, but still it grated the romance reader in me. Sorry, can't help it ^_^;

So yes, slow start, but once the story picked up, i.e. the second part of the book, then my enjoyment of Queen of Shadows increased :) I really enjoyed the conspiracy against David, those are my types of stories. There were some nice twists in the storyline, especially regarding Miranda at the end. I also did enjoy the relationship between David and Miranda. As a result, I will most probably pick up the next book, Shadowflame. Might not rush out to buy it, but will continue reading :)

10) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen: B+
 Upcoming Review.

11) The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle: C-

The Countess Zosia Urszula Kwiatkowska finds herself in Britain to find a husband or else, she'll be sent to a convent in France. An advocate for the Kingdom of Poland who's being overtaken by Russia, Zosia has chosen Tristan Adam Hargrove, the 4th Marquis of Moreland. The Marquis has the necessary funds, influences and titles to help her cause... all she needs is an introduction. Unfortunately for her, Tristan is a stickler for propriety which means his life very structured, predictable... and boring. A Roman Catholic would never fit in his life and let not forget his agoraphobic, but controlling grandmother would never accept. Still, he can't help feeling attracted to her. In addition, Tristan is much more than what can be seen on the surface. His routine life, normalcy and propriety are all just a front, hiding a wounded soul... Can Zosia accept him? And then, there's also the issues of Zosia's real identity... an identity that even she isn't aware of and why she's been sent to England in the first place.

This is my first novel by Ms Marvelle. I've been meaning to try her books out after meeting her at RT. Not only is she an awesome lady, but her historical romances all have interesting, unusual premises. In The Perfect Scandal, what is unusual is that our hero is a cutter. While he has not cut himself in a number of years, he cannot go anywhere without his razor case. I thought it made Tristan very unusual and then add in the Countess Zosia Urszula Kwiatkowska from Poland and you get something very unique :)

Unfortunately, the setting was not enough to make me love this book and I had a couple of issues with The Perfect Scandal. There was a lot of psychology in this book, especially when it came to Tristan... I think it was a bit too much and I didn't grasp everything ^_^; Then, there was the romance. I liked Tristan and Zosia's first encounter, I thought it was cute... However, after that, I don't know, I never felt a real connection between the two. They met, Zosia tells Tristan to calls on her. He doesn't and tries his best to avoid her, but then finally caves. After a few encounters, Tristan was ready to give up everything and run away to America to live happily ever after with Zosia? I find that quite hard to believe. I felt the romance was rushed and so, hard to buy it :( Then you add in the period of separation between Tristan and Zosia and yeah, the romance just didn't work for me.

This was going to be an okay book till Zosia's identity was revealed. That was quite the surprise and very interesting. Once again, it's the kind of stuff that I enjoy reading, conspiracy, secrets, etc. It was even better by the fact that Zosia was absolutely not aware of it :) I do think Tristan took the right decision, letting her know... even if it changed her whole life and view on life. This really saved the book for me :)

In the end, I feel there was a lack of balance in The Perfect Scandal between the characters development, the romance and the storyline. As a result, the book felt quite chunky, as if it was made of many parts. The storyline was quite interesting and I enjoyed the way everything was tied up together. Unfortunately, the romance and characters did not live up to the storyline and premises and failed to engage me :( By the way, I did find it cute that for once, it was the hero who was writing a book about propriety :) That was very cute, but unfortunately, superfluous ^_^;

12) Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder: B
 Upcoming Review.

13) How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper: C-
Upcoming Review.

14) Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb: C/C+
 Upcoming Buddy Review with Leslie

15) What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long: C+

A widower approaching 40 years old, Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, decides to take a bribe and chose Lady Abigail. Moncrieffe is attracted to her and believes that with time, he'll come to love her... that is till he finds Ian Eversea naked in her bed. Unfortunately for Eversea, Moncrieffe has no intention to let this affront go and has devised the perfect revenge: seduce Ian's sister, Genevieve, who is the only Eversea whom scandal has not touched, and abandoned her. However, Moncrieffe never imagined Genevieve to be clever enough to figure him out... Unfortunately for him, Genevieve is just not interested to play games with him, as she just had her heart broken... But perhaps, Moncrieffe could mend it?

I got What I did for a Duke because it got quite a few good reviews. After reading it, I can understand why so many bloggers enjoyed it, but unfortunately, it didn't work as well for me ^_^; What I did for a Duke opens up with Moncrieffe catching Ian in his fiancée's bed, quite the start. Especially when Moncrieffe says that they'll share LOL. It's unfortunate the story didn't continue on such a high note. I felt that the first half of the book when Moncrieffe embarked on his scheme to seduce Genevieve, the story was really draggy and nothing much happened. There were some exchanges between Moncrieffe and Genevieve, both measuring each other and testing each other, but it was not enough to keep me interesting. One of the biggest problem for me with this book was how Genevieve pined for Harry. Harry is the man whom Genevieve is in love with and wants to marry, her dearest friend... except he tells her that he wants to marry their other best friend, Lady Millicent. Obviously, Genevieve's heart is broken and she has not interested being courted by Moncrieffe while the light seems to have disappeared from her life. I don't know, it just felt a bit melodramatic. I sympathize with Genevieve getting her heart broken, but seeing her pining for Harry... I don't know, it just didn't sit well with me. I wanted her to spring into action, go after him, do something, be more pro-active about the situation. Genevieve is a clever and strong woman and the inaction just didn't seem to fit with her character :( Worst is that she clung to her love to Harry for such a long time, even while having sex with Moncrieffe...

Another thing that bothered me was Ian Eversea. Moncrieffe lets him know that he intends to seduce and abandon Genevieve, that this would be his revenge... As an older brother, knowing that there is someone out there who's planning to ruin your sister, I would expect Ian to be attached to Genevieve's hip!! To stay around her, even if it means taking a beating or death, to keep an eye on her and protect her. Is that what happens? No!! Ian's little efforts in protecting Genevieve really bothered me. What kind of man is he? Seriously, perhaps Moncrieffe should have just shot him.

The highlight of this book to me was Moncrieffe and Genevieve getting to know each other, figuring that there was much more to each other than what could be seen. I love that Genevieve was observant and clever, that she figured it all out - Ian's offense and Moncrieffe's plan. Loved that she didn't turn her back and run LOL. As for Moncrieffe, I think he enjoyed discovering Genevieve, getting to know the real her. I also liked that once Genevieve figured out the plan, he decided to let it go... only he was too attracted to Genevieve by that point. He was a hard man, but Genevieve really seemed to be able to reach him...

So there were parts that I enjoyed, but I guess I was expecting more. I know that it really took me a while to read this book, it just seemed to drag on and on and on in the first half and only picked up when Genevieve figured out the plan. I do wonder if I would have enjoyed What I Did for a Duke more if I would have read in one or two sittings... but I guess we'll never know.

16) A Lot Like Love by Julie James: B++
Upcoming Review.

Books bought: +13
Books read: -16
TBR pile: - 3

Woohoo, negative number!!! I have to say, I'm quite pleased with myself this month :) Might have been the shortest month of the year, but I was on quite a roll :) I even skimmed through Outside In by Maria V. Snyder and The Heiress by Lynsay Sands! However, I'm not counting them... We'll see if I can do a proper reading :)

Quality-wise, well it seems I got even tougher with the grades ^_^; But hey, blame it on Goodreads. Okay, okay, blame it on me too ^_^; Still, I'm trying to try different things out there :) At least, there were a few good books in the mix though and I can't wait to review them!! So this is it for February, hopefully, March will be as good :)