Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Only Yours by Susan Mallery

Hey everyone! I'm back and I had a great week-end :) It was fun to go away and to hang out with friends :) The week-end would have really been perfect though if I could have bought some books... but alas. And it wasn't from lack of trying!! Ah well, to make it up, I went to the bookstore yesterday LOL.

I hope to post a few more pictures in the next coming days - as soon as my friends send me some LOL. 9 persons, 7 cameras - I decided I could let my friends take pictures :) Of course, now, I need to harass them to get the pics...

So in the meantime, here's a review. Enjoy!

Only Yours by Susan Mallery
published by HQN Books in August 2011
Montana Hendrix has found her calling—working with therapy dogs. With a career she loves in a hometown she adores, she's finally ready to look for her own happily ever after. Could one of her dogs help her find Mr. Right… or maybe Dr. Right?

Surgeon Simon Bradley prefers the sterility of the hospital to the messiness of real life, especially when real life includes an accident-prone mutt and a woman whose kisses make him want what he knows he can't have. Scarred since childhood, he avoids emotional entanglement by moving from place to place to heal children who need his skillful touch. Can his growing feelings for Montana lead him to find a home in Fool's Gold, or will he walk away, taking her broken heart with him?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Fool's Gold series, Book #5

The Story: Simon Bradley is a gifted surgeon who specializes in patients who have been burned. As a burnt victim, Simon knows first-hand the excruciating pain his patients are going through and the will needed to recover and that's what makes him good at his job. He also lives a nomadic life, dedicating all his energy and talent to a hospital for a short period of time before moving on to the next place, never getting emotionally attached to anyone. For the next three months, Simon is in Fool's Gold and the mayor wants him to stay... She thus enlists the help of Montana Hendrix to convince him.

Montana is a bubbly and enthusiastic young woman who has finally found her calling: working with therapy dogs. Her first meeting with Dr. Bradley is not a success as one of her dogs barge in the burn unit of the hospital... Still, Montana cannot refuse the mayor's request. Then, when Simon needs a therapy dog to help one of his patients, Montana is more than happy to help.

From the first moment, Simon is attracted to Montana in a way he cannot explain. However, Simon doesn't do relationship, doesn't get emotionally attached to anyone... but once he does, what will happen?

My Opinion: If you've been reading my blog for the past few years, you know that Ms Mallery's books have been hit and miss with me. There are some that I really, really enjoy such as Almost Perfect and Hot on her Heels and others that just didn't work for me. So from experience and from the first Fool's Gold trilogy, I decided to be a bit more selective when it came to this second Fool's Gold trilogy featuring the Hendrix triplets... and decided to skip Only Mine and go straight to Only Yours. My reasoning was that out of the three triplets, Montana was the one that I've liked the most based on their previous apparitions in the series and also, the storyline seems to be one that I'd enjoy as it's a bit of the "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing stuffy hero" theme. All in all, I think it was a good decision :)

I really liked the characters in Only Yours. I think both Montana and Simon were likable, nice and well-developed characters. I didn't completely get the "Montana has finally found herself/her vocation." And her projecting on Fluffy the dog was a bit extreme. I don't know, she appeared to be happy in previous books, always cheerful and smiley. Did it really matter if she didn't have a true calling? I don't think so, although it doesn't hurt of course. I guess she needed a bit of a conflict... As for Simon, my heart broke for him and his past really gives a good insight of the man he's become and his lifestyle.

What I liked most of Montana and Simon is that they complemented each other very well. They came from completely different backgrounds and have very different personalities, but it worked. They were cute together and I enjoyed reading those parts :) However, I do think their relationship was a bit rushed and precipitated. I guess it's because of the deadline - Simon only staying for three months. It just bothered me a little bit that Montana knew what she was getting into, basically a fling with a man that didn't do long-lasting relationship... and she wanted more. I understand falling in love and wanting more and everything... but after less than three months? In that case, why start this fling? Also, it'd be nice from time to time for a man and a woman wanting the same thing and evolving at the same rhythm in a romance. Just saying.

I also think that in Only Yours, Ms Mallery balanced the secondary characters well. She gave us a bit of the Hendrix family and a bit of the town. I especially liked seeing the Hendrix dynamics between the siblings. Especially when they were discussing their mother's past love LOL. That was cute. I think Kevin and his son returning to Fool's Gold is a nice addition and wonder what Ms Mallery has in store for them. Another part that I liked was when Simon was expecting everyone to treat him badly because he and Montana have broken up, but everyone at the end was nice. It surprised him and at the same time, it broke my heart. Shows us how little love Simon had in his life. Sigh.

I have to say, I wasn't crazy about the whole town getting involved in Montana and Simon's relationship. The insinuation about how Montana should convince Simon to stay in town. Another thing that bothered me was the "miracle" near the end. Throughout the book, Simon is taking care of a young girl who's been severely burned... and at the end, she crashed. Well seriously, I think Ms Mallery should have let her die. I don't mean to be heartless, but one minute her condition worsens and the next, she's all right. I thought it was unnecessary drama. Either you let her recover nicely in which case, she doesn't crash at all... or she crashes and dies. It's a bit like in Only Mine where the chances of Dakota getting pregnant are almost null and thus, she decides to adopt... and suddenly, voila, she's pregnant! Yes, this is fiction, but there is just so many times you can do this. At least, there is no pregnancy in Only Yours which makes it "refreshing" LOL.

Oh by the way, the dogs were a nice touch to the book :) They made me smiled and I loved how Simon got attached to Cece. So cute :)

My Grade: B-. Overall, I enjoyed Only Yours. Not ground-breaking, but it was still a nice romance :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week-end away...

Hey everyone!!

Leaving for Lake George in a few hours. The above is what we're hoping to see this week-end during our "hike."   However, I'm not sure that many trees have changed colors. Ah well LOL.

As usual, I was planning reviews and stuff... but unfortunately, I have nothing ^_^; I know, total failure. This week though has just been busy and crazy. It's all small stuff - the clinic today, packing, car at the garage... but when you add up together, it's just overwhelming and freaking me out. Seriously, I'm not taking stress very well lately... which is why this trip is going to be awesome! :)

So yeah, if my friends bring a laptop this week-end, I'm going to try to steal it and review... but otherwise, you're not going to hear from me till Monday. But hey, next week I should have a nice hauling Sunday post. Yes, I know, I'm sick LOL.

In the meantime, have a nice week-end!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Dragon Bound and Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison

Yay, I finally did it! I finally sat down and tackled this two-fer :) And now I'm nervous because my opinion of the books are different than most, but hey, honesty right? :)

Nothing going much with my life. I'm still sick - booo. Although I think it's getting better. I got some sad news yesterday. The Father for whom I used to send emails for passed away :( It was so unexpected, especially since I spoke to him not too long ago... But he lived a wonderful and long life... and I'm glad he didn't suffer at the end. So that's a good thing. What bothers me though is that I'm going to miss his funerals which are on Saturday :( That really sucks. Life.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the reviews :) Now, I need to work on my monthly post for August...

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley in May 2011
Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful-and passionate-of the Elder races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave - although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul...
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #1

The Story: All her life, Pia Giovanni - half-human and half-wyr - has hidden her true nature. However, in a moment of weakness, she forgets her mother's warning and training and reveals part of what she is to her ex-boyfriend. Biggest mistake of her life as the bastard blackmails her into stealing from Dragos Cuelebre, one of the most powerful, feared and respected Wyr. After completing her task, Pia leaves New York City and goes under as she does not intend to be blackmailed for the rest of her life.

It does not take long for Dragos to find Pia. While furious, Dragos is also intrigued by this woman, this thief who left a note of apology. Also, she's one of the few that stands up to him. Definitively attracted to Pia, Dragos decides to keep her for himself... but others have other plans concerning both Pia and Dragos.

My Opinion: Dragon Bound is Ms Harrion's debut novel and wow, the buzz it has received!! It was quite unbelievable. Aside from the positive reviews, one of the reasons I picked up Dragon Bound was that many have likened this series to the Psy-Changelings series by Ms Singh. I thought it made sense since both series are published by Berkley. To say I went in with high expectations would be a bit of an understatement LOL. Overall, I think that Dragon Bound was a solid debut novel, a good start to a series... but I wasn't as wowed as everyone.

First, I gotta agree with everyone that Pia was a great heroine. She's smart and level-headed which are two great qualities in a heroine in paranormal romance. Plus, I loved the way she stood up to Dragos, not letting him push her around and making her own decisions. She wasn't a predator, didn't have the alphaness or the kiss-ass attitude, but that doesn't mean she let people walk over her and I admire her for that. She dealt with whatever situations she found herself in and handled herself well. Basically, I liked that she wasn't the fragile little princess waiting to be rescued or following the lead. As for Dragos, he was an okay hero. I wasn't that impressed with him basically because I've over-dosed a little on the uber-alpha heroes. I mean, they stand over the heroines, all hubbah hubbah, being all possessive and overprotective and it's just getting old. I guess though, no matter how alpha or how old, they can still learn new tricks :) So it wasn't that Dragos was a bad hero, but simply that he wasn't refreshing ^_^; And then, the romance turns out to be a case of "mating." Once again, not a bad thing, but just not refreshing. I also think it was pretty one-sided from Dragos. I think you see a few signs from Pia, but it wasn't as obvious. Perhaps because Pia is more rational. Although I think it's a great thing that Pia didn't give in so easily as it gave them the chance to get to know each other... Still, I think that the whole mating storyline just precipitates the romance :(

The overall storyline of Dragon Bound was interesting. It's political and intrigues and I always like those. I don't think it's as strong as the Psy-Changelings series, but then that's really top-notched. One of my complaints though is that I thought the world-building in The Elder Races series was a bit weak. First of all, you have a lot of paranormal beings, some of them living thousands of years literally, and I think they weren't well defined. For example, you have elves, fairies and wyrs. What are wyrs, how does each race function, how did they come into power, what about the council? Then, what about humans? How do they factor in in this world? How can they have power? It just wasn't clear for me. I understand that really, Ms Harrison couldn't address everything in one book and that's why having so many races is always a risk. Perhaps if she had focused a little bit more on one aspect of this world in this book and left the rest for another book, it would have worked. In this case, I feel like Ms Harrison tried to give the readers a too broad overview and at the end, I still don't have a sense of the world unfortunately ^_^;

Still I think there's more good in Dragon Bound than issues. Like I mentioned, I loved Pia. I also loved the secondary characters - Rune, Graydon and Tricks :) I like the friendship that forms between them and Pia. I was really happy that the readers got to find out what kind of Wyr Pia is and I think it was very, very clever. The part with the white dragon was very cute :) And finally, the writing was also good - very reminiscent of Ms Singh.

My Grade: B. There's not doubt that Dragon Bound was a solid debut novel and shows a lot of potential. For me though, there were important issues and it wasn't a wowzer. I don't think it's a case of too high expectations or buzz overkill. I can see why other readers enjoy it so much. For me though, the feeling, the connection to the characters and story simply wasn't there.

Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley in August 2011

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle found sanctuary among the Wyr in New York. Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle's death, there are those who don't want to see her ascend the throne...

Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the Wyr's best weapons. And he's the one sent to protect Tricks when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.

Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them- a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #2

The Story: Tricks is the only survivor of the Fae royal family which was slaughtered centuries ago by her uncle in his quest to overtake the crown. To survive, Tricks sought refuge under Dragos and lived in plain sight as Dragos' PR, a thorn in Urien's side. After the events of Dragon Bound and the death of Urien, as the rightful heir to the crown, Tricks must return to the Fae to rule her people. That means leaving the Wyrs behind.

Unfortunately, as expected, not everyone is thrilled that Tricks is alive. When there is an attempt on her life, Tiago - one of Dragos' sentinel - rushes to her rescue. Then, there is a second attempt on her life and that's when things get more complicated as the assassins are not Fae, but Wyrs. Who can Tricks trust? One thing is sure though, she is stuck with Tiago as her protector.

My Opinion: After reading Dragon Bound, I was really looking forward to reading Storm's Heart because I really liked Tricks. The lady is bubbly, witty and fun and she's lived with Wyrs for centuries and therefore is not afraid to go up against them. Unfortunately, in Storm's Heart, we got to see the vulnerable side of Tricks instead, which meant a lot of self-pity and uncertainty. While it made sense that Tricks had some fears regarding the role she was about to assume and while it added some depth to her character, it wasn't the Tricks I was expecting to read about... and quite frankly, she just wasn't as interesting as I had expected. I kept hoping she'd get in control, grasp the reins of her life... but it seems to me instead, she kept being pushed around by Tiago and the control just slipped away from her.

As for Tiago, well he was even more hubbah hubbah than Dragos, if that's possible ^_^; Like he isn't more dominant than Dragos, but his attitude with Tricks? Yep, much more possessive and overprotective... and I think in part, Tricks is to blame because she lets him. She tried to escape a few times, but otherwise, she didn't stand up much to Tiago in my opinion. Anyway, back to Tiago. Unfortunately, he didn't make much of an impression to me. He's surly, good at being a warrior... There's nothing much to him, at the end of the book, I didn't get a feel for him.

And the romance? What romance? Once again, the male finds himself mating with the female without knowing it. In my opinion, there's no development to it. After centuries of knowing each other, suddenly, wham bam, the two are in love and that's it. I mean, it was hinted in Dragon Bound that there was something between them and you see it really early on in Storm's Heart when Tiago rushes to Tricks' rescue... However, there are no real development to it. The only interesting thing to this romance is as a Fae, Tricks doesn't feel the mating bond and could have turned Tiago down. Which raises another question: how does the whole mating thing works then? Oh and at the end, when Tiago gives everything up to be with Tricks... Nice grand gesture, but a bit sudden and too easy perhaps.

The storyline is what saves this book for me. I thought it was a bit obvious that Tricks going back to the Fae demesnes to become Queen wouldn't go smoothly, but I like political intrigues. However, I enjoyed finding out more about the Fae and I liked all the tidbits that went into Tricks getting ready to become Queen. For example charming the staff, the protocol moments, etc.

My Grade: C-. Unfortunately, the characters and the romance in Storm's Heart just didn't do it for me. At this point, I'm not sure I'll pick up Rune's book.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hauling Sunday LVII

Okay, this is cutting it pretty close LOL. It was a pretty lazy day, lazy week-end and I didn't accomplish much of what I was hoping. The reason? I woke up yesterday with a cold :( Ugh. Hopefully, it won't last very long. I guess all I can do is sleep early, drink lots of fluids and pump in vitamin C.

Watching the Emmy Awards right now. I'm so happy that Comedy series category is up first, because that's the one I care about... and yay, Jim Parsons won!! Woohooo :)

I have a feeling this week is going to be a busy one. Have to bring my car to the garage to change the timing belt. Need to stop by to Coles, because it's closing next Saturday T_T My uncle is coming this Wednesday and next week-end, my friends and I are going away for a week-end. Going to Lake George... Anything worth doing, visiting there? Any good restaurant that I should go eat at?

As for books, well this week was very quiet for me. Especially given the last few weeks. Of course, it helps that there wasn't much being released LOL. Still, I got one book :)

New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb - New installment in the never-ending In Death series :) I don't know, I have high hope for this one, even if the reviews are more cautious. Anyway, it'll just be fun to see the gang again :)

That's it :) Ugh, someone, please tell me... Why are week-ends so short?!? I don't want it to end!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Something to make us all smile :)

Hello! How are you? I'm so happy it's Friday today!! I can't wait till the week-end!! Yesterday was the deadline for the grant application and let say, not everything went smoothly ^_^; I have to say, part of it is my fault - ugh, I hate website that block access after you've entered the wrong password three times!! Then again, if the secretary had started earlier, we wouldn't have been last-minute... Ah well, it's done and over. It involved a lot of stress and a lot of running around... and hopefully, the next grant application deadline is very, very far away in the future. In the meantime, I'm meeting with patients this afternoon. Sigh. I don't want to :(

Anyway, this means once again, I haven't had time to blog ^_^; Oups. So instead of a review, I give you this, something that I hope will make you smile :)

So I left my book lying around in the lab and my co-worker S had a bit of fun with it :) S had never had any problems with my love of reading or the fact that I read romance... but I have to admit, there are times when he looks at the book covers and wonder what I'm reading ^_^; In any case, he decided that this particular book needed a little bit of censorship LOL.

Don't worry, he didn't actually draw on the book. It's pieces of Post It that he colored in black :) Yes, it's a bit immature, but he's a guy, he can't help it LOL.

Happy Friday! and hope you have a nice week-end :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Hi! and sorry! LOL. I've been meaning to work on some reviews, but work has been busy. Okay, yes, yes, I've been engrossed in my reading as well. However, you know, when work is busy, all you want to do is relax, hence the reading. Anyway, we have a grant application deadline tomorrow and I'm giving some experiments a last go. It's pretty desperate when you want results from an experiment that has never been done to be included ^_^; After tomorrow, I'm hoping for some freedom!! Although quite frankly, I've had it easy compared to my two colleagues... what does that say about my lab?!?

Initially, I was going to do a two-fer, Dragon Bound and Storm's Heart... but yeah, instead I read Sean Griswold's Head and The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June. I guess I should be happy I'm at least reading!! Anyway, a two-fer is not realistic for today, so instead, I'm going with Flat-Out Love, especially since some of you have expressed some curiosity concerning the book :)


Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
published by Kindle in 2011

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that... well... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Series: -

The Story:  Hmmm, the blurb is very detailed and also, accurate, so I'm going to skip this part as I'm not going to add much :)

My Opinion: Flat-Out Love has been on my radar ever since Ms Heather Webber gave it a 5 stars on Goodreads. Unfortunately, it wasn't only available on Kindle. Then, a few months later, I checked it out again and lo and behold, it was now available in epub format! Hurrah! So I was really excited when I started reading the book.

I really liked the feel of the book. In Flat-Out Love, we follow Julie as she navigates through her first year of college and the Watkins dynamics. I really liked that the book spans several months. It gave the readers the opportunity to really get to know Julie as well as understand the dynamics of the Watkins and this was very important. Too often nowadays, plots and romance are rushed because of the timeline of a few days. So this was a definitive plus for Flat-Out Love. I also loved reading about Julie's college life - social such  as making new friends, starting new relationships, as well as academic - choosing classes, attending them, midterms, etc. Ms Park definitively did a great job at creating the right feel for the book.

Unfortunately, while I enjoyed reading about Julie's life, I didn't like the character itself as much as I wanted to ^_^; In truth, Julie is really a nice young woman. She's pretty mature, she's smart and enjoys college and the opportunity of learning, she cares about others and wants to help out... Like I said, a pretty nice young woman. What bothered me with her though is that I thought she cared too much about what other people thought and appearances. Not to the extent of high school where she's trying to fit in and be part of the cool crowd, but to the extent I felt she was a conformist. For example, the first impression she gets of Matt is that he's a geek based on his t-shirt... and that impression stayed with her very long. Simply because he'd rather stay home and play video games, hang out on forums, etc. instead of going out and hanging out with people. She took pity on Celeste because she wasn't acting like a regular teenager. Even herself, back in her hometown, she had to hide the fact that she liked school, enjoyed literature. Why? Is it wrong to be different? To enjoy different things? To be your own person? I don't think that Julie thought it was wrong per se, but some of her actions made it seems so. The other issue I had with Julie's character is I thought she was a bit meddlesome. I know she wanted to help and her intentions were sincere, but the fact is she didn't know what was going on and without that crucial information, what she did could have been harmful. Sometimes, helping consists of giving a hand and that's easy. However, as soon as you dwell into something more profound, you have to be careful. I think the part where Matt scolds Julie after Celeste's sleeping-party was correct. You cannot just swoop in and fix what you think is wrong with one fingers snap while there's someone who's been on the sideline the whole time, observing and helping at a slower pace. It was presumptuous on Julie's part and I'm glad Matt called her on it. Oh, I'm not saying that Julie didn't help Celeste out, because she did. I think that without Julie, Celeste would not have healed as fast and as I said, Julie's intentions were sincere... but yeah, I found Julie presumptuous and it bothered me a little. Otherwise though, I had no problem with Julie and I think Ms Park did a good job at making her realistic.

I really liked Matt. He could be considered as a beta hero. He's silent and a bit geeky, but he's there for you and has your back. He was also a very, very good brother and I liked that. I really felt for him at the end when he tells Julie the truth. It must have been such a weight on his shoulders and it says a lot that he could hold it together. I understand why Julie was hurt by Matt's actions and he admitted he knew it was wrong... However, given the circumstances, it was hard to be mad at him and begrudge him those moments where he could be himself.

I also really liked Celeste. She was an interesting character and crucial to the book. I liked her maturity and her mannerism :) I figured out quite early in Flat-Out Love what was the reason that Celeste was carrying a life-sized cardboard cutout of Finn... and I have to say I'm surprised Julie didn't.

There was a touch of romance in Flat-Out Love. Not the focus of the book, but one that was still quite satisfying and I think it's because of the timeline in the book. Since they knew each other, it was just more believable :)

My Grade: B. I wasn't sure when I started Flat-Out Love what kind of book it was. For some reasons, I thought it'd be a funny book ^_^; What I got was a solid, well-written book with well-developed and flawed characters and a story with a lot more depth than I expected. Based on the storyline, I'm not sure I would go back and re-read, but I would definitively read more by this author :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hauling Sunday LVI

Hey everyone! Hope you're having a great week-end. Mine is pretty good so far :) The weather is really nice and that's great. Got to hang out with my friends a little yesterday evening and I'm getting ready for the Oyster Fest. Watched a bit of tennis as well. Yay for Djokovic for being in the finale... but in the other one, I was hoping for Murray to come out victorious. Yes, I know, chances were slim, but one can hope right? Just as I'm hoping Stosur will win tonight!!

Oh I went to the optometrist on Friday evening concerning my eyes and she said everything was okay. The reason why my left eye is bothering me is because it's very dry for some reasons. However, my vision and everything is good. Phew, what a relief!

Now, the only thing that would make this week-end perfect was if I could read a bit more ^_^; I started a book but it was really bland and had to put it aside. Sigh. Now, I've started another one and I'm half-way through... but I don't know how much time I'll have to read the rest of this week-end. I guess it's for me to find out later!

Okay, I'll stop rambling and introduce my new pretties :)

Got these books on last Sunday, taking advantage at the "Buy 3, get the 4th free" promotion :)

Revenge at Bella Terra by Christina Dodd - Technically, I should have waited after reading Secrets at Bella Terra before being Revenge at Bella Terra... However, I needed a 4th book and quite frankly, out of the two books, the story of Revenge was the one that I wanted to read.

Demon Marked by Meljean Brook - This is the book that spurred the bookstore adventure LOL. That's the book I needed to get my hands on and yay, I did! :)

Haunting Beauty by Erin Quinn - I met Ms Quinn at the RWA Literacy signing and got Haunting Desire IIRC. While I don't need to read a series in order, it's always nice... especially since Haunting Beauty was being re-released in paperback :) Plus, Ms Quinn is Canadian :)

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway - Alex reviewed this book not long ago and it sounded like something I would like to read :) I love psychic powers :)

Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh - Of course, I had to get this book because it's written by Ms Singh. I'm still a bit wary of this series; I prefer the Psy-Changelings series... but I was curious at the change of characters. You never know, perhaps Dmitri will trigger my love for this series.

The follow books are some that I've gotten in August, but forgot to include in my Hauling Sunday posts ^_^;

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare - Ms Dare has just recently changed publisher and I was curious to see if it would reflect in her writing :) For some reasons, Avon's historical romances really work well for me.

For I Have Sinned by Darynda Jones - Little novella that takes place between First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left. I've enjoyed the first book and thought I should give this a try :)

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park - I've had this book on my radar bever since Heather Webber gave this a 5 stars on Goodreads. Unfortunately back then, Flat-Out Love was only available on Kindle... Then when I checked not too long ago, it was available in other format and I jumped on it! :)

So yes, lots of new books in the past two weeks :) It's great to be buying books LOL.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Review: Demon Marked by Meljean Brook

It's almost the week-end! I can feel it, I can taste it... I just hope this day goes by quickly and without a hitch! Now that I've read Demon Marked, my reading mojo is back :) I just hope my blogging muse doesn't go too far away this week-end since it's going to be very busy. I have the optometrist appointment this evening, a birthday dinner tomorrow and Oyster Fest on Sunday. The name is misleading as there'll be a lot more food served than oysters at the Oyster Fest... this will actually be the first time I go so perhaps afterwards, with pictures and all, it'll be easier to explain, but basically, about a dozen restaurants are gathering in a parking lot with some beverage purveyors and offering some of their signature dishes as tapas :) Sounds good to me!

In the meantime, my blogging muse was kind enough to get me through this review! I think I've rambled here and there, but hopefully, you'll still enjoy the review! :)

Demon Marked by Meljean Brook
published by Berkley in September 2011
Nicholas St. Croix is familiar with the evil of demons. After his father’s death, a demon took over his mother’s body and raised him. Six years ago, his “mother” was responsible for the disappearance of the woman he loved, and Nicholas swore he’d find her—even if he had to go to Hell and back. Except she finds him first—and with one tormented kiss, he knows she too is a demon. Now he is determined to take his revenge…

Ash is a half-demon with no memory of her past or how she got to Hell. All she knows is that Nicholas St. Croix holds the key to her identity. And though he’s clearly drawn to her, Nicholas makes no secret of his distrust of her. Yet one kiss at a time, he breaks down her defenses as they battle an array of demons and Guardians. But is Ash’s greatest enemy the man at her side?
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Guardians, Book #7

The Story: After three years spent in stupor after someone left her at Nightingale House, Ash finally awakens. With no inkling of who or what she is, Ash's only clue is her physical appearance: she looks exactly like Rachel Boyle (plus some extra vermilion tattoos) who disappeared six years ago. Yet, Ash is certain she is not Rachel. Hoping to find some answers, Ash digs deeper in Rachel's life... which leads her directly to Nicholas St. Croix.

Nicholas St. Croix has only one purpose in life: find the demon that impersonated his mother Madelyn all these years, who ruined his family and his life, and seek revenge. When he first sees Ash, Nicholas is sure it's Madelyn back to torment him by impersonating Rachel... because even after 6 years, Nicholas still feel guilty over Rachel's disappearance. Back then, Nicholas had come back to England to overtake Madelyn's company and wooed her personal assistant, Rachel. While Nicholas didn't love Rachel, who wouldn't feel guilty when the woman you used jumped in front of you to stop a bullet and then disappeared out of thin air? Then, Nicholas quickly figures out that Ash is not Madelyn or Rachel... but she's still a demon. A demon that he can use for bait, as he is sure Madelyn will be back for Ash. However, it means keeping Ash alive and safe from the Guardians... And the more Nicholas spends time with Ash, the more attracted he is to her... but is this Ash real or is it a front to lull him?

My Opinion: I've really been looking forward to this book, as you've probably figured out by my hunt for it LOL. Well, it's just been a loooong time since the last book, Demon Blood, was released in July 2010. That's more than a year folks! In any case, I'm glad to tell you that Demon Marked delivers and the wait was not for naught :P

Nicholas was introduced to us in Demon Blood and I really liked him in that book. Yes, yes, he was a jerk... but in his defense, he was an interesting jerk :P And seriously, he had reasons for being a jerk :) Once I got to know him better in Demon Marked, I liked him even more. There's still this coldness on the surface and he can still be a major, self-serving jerk and really who can blame him given his background story? But there's also a lot more than meet the eyes. First and foremost, the guy is a survivor. He's also determined and focused... and he definitively feels a lot even though he doesn't show it. Guilt and loyalty - and that was surprising :) He's also smart and I liked how his mind worked and his plans. I liked that he wasn't too stubborn either and once he came to care for Ash, he really did. It took him a while to overlook the demon part, but again, can't blame him. But he overcame it and on its own!! Without anyone having to bang his head :) I think it says a lot, especially given everyone's perception of Nicholas as a cold bastard.

I also loved Ash in this book. I thought she was a great heroine. I love how in the beginning, she was not feeling anything and little by little, it came back to her. Actually, it's funny, but I think Ash is how most Psy from Nalini Singh's Psy-Changelings series should be. LOL. Another great aspect of Ash was her forwardness and it gave for some really good dialogues and LOL moments. She's also highly intelligent which is a good thing in a demon :) Loved the parts where she was trying to figure out Nicholas and was able to understand him by what he gave away and what he did not. I also think Ms Brook did a great job at distinguishing Rachel and Ash. The fact that Ash wasn't into pleasing everyone, that most of the time, she didn't care what others thought... it gave her more confidence, more charisma I think.

With two very interesting characters, you get a very nice couple. I thought that Ash and Nicholas really fit each other well and most importantly, understood each other. Ash and Nicholas definitively had chemistry, the attraction pretty much sizzling :) Especially Ash attempts at seeing Nicholas naked LOL. However, what makes the romance works so good is Ash. The way she understood Nicholas, the fact that she was aware of his motives for keeping her by his sides... Even when she followed the Guardians, yes she was hurt by the truth, but she let it go, focused on what was important - Nicholas current feelings for her, not what was. LOL, I guess it's Ash not being so emotional that made this romance works so well and stands out :)

As usual, the storyline of Demon Marked is complex but it works. I kept wanting to know what would come next :P Ms Brook does a good job at balancing the plot, the romance and the characters development. I like the fact that we knew Ash was a halfling and so we knew more about Ash then the characters themselves and were able to pick up clues here and there :) I was also really looking forward to Ash and Lilith meeting and that scene definitively did not disappoint!! Oh and I loved the role that Lilith had in Demon Marked. Ms Brook does a great job at not giving her past characters too much page-time. They only appear if necessary which, kudos to Ms Brook. In any case, Lilith being an ex-halfling, her appearance in Demon Marked was definitively justified :) And she's still as kick-ass as ever LOL. Okay, enough fangirl-ish moment :) Back to the storyline, the one involving Ash and Nicholas was interesting and there were a few interesting twist at the end. I definitively did not expect that. But the overall story-arc is also progressing well. I even read all the tidbits with Taylor and Michael!

My only disappointment with Demon Marked was that the book was a bit short. Ms Brook has accustomed us to thick books and quite frankly, it was kind of shock when I picked up Demon Marked. Oh, I'm not saying the storyline suffered because of the length, because it did not. However, I can't help but wish Demon Marked has been a bit longer and perhaps some parts could have been expanded a little bit. As it is, I would say the ending of Demon Marked was a bit rushed; however, as I said, it didn't take anything away from the storyline. It was still very exciting to read and very surprising :)

My Grade: B+. Demon Marked was definitively a great addition to the series. I simply devoured the book once I got my hands on it :) Loved Ash and Nicholas, loved seeing Lilith and Hugh again :) I'm a bit sad to see this series ending... and I don't know how I feel about Michael's book - he's not my favorite character. However, I'm still looking forward to it, because I'm sure Ms Brook has a lot of surprises in store for us :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Review: Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

Hey everyone!! :) How are you doing all? Recovering from the long week-end? Or too busy reading Demon Marked and Archangel's Blade? LOL, I know, that's me projecting :P Health-wise, I'm feeling better - yay!! And trying to stay that way. I need to find a way to keep my stress levels low. I think that doing nothing in the past few days and reading had helped LOL.

What about you? What's new? Nothing? Well here is a review for you to enjoy :)

Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher) in June 2011

From the Design Book of Marcelline Noirot:
The allure of the perfect gown should be twofold:
ladies would die to wear it...
and gentlemen would kill to remove it!

Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London's rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in the ton, the Duke of Clevedon's intended bride? Winning the future duchess's patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her sisters. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are... not.

The prize seems well worth the risk—but this time Marcelline's met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno... and a blazing scandal.

And now both their futures hang by anexquisite thread of silk...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Dressmakers series, Book #1

The Story: The Noirot sisters are the proprietresses of the up and coming Maison Noirot - i.e. dressmakers. They are confident of their talents; however, London ladies are slow to recognize true fashion and shift their allegiance. In order for their business to more prestige, the Noirot sisters need a coup... and what would be better than the worst-dressed lady, the Duke of Clevedon's fiancée. Especially when rumors have it that the Duke will finally come back from the continent to claim his bride?

In order to accomplish this coup, the eldest sister - Marcelline Noirot - heads for France to catch Clevedon's attention, arouse his curiosity and make him aware of Maison Noirot's fashion... Using all the charms and tricks she got from the Dreadful DeLuceys side of the family. What Marcelline doesn't expect is the sparks and attraction between them, for her game of seduction to go too far. How can Marcelline be Clevedon's mistress as well as his fiancée's modiste?

My Opinion: Ms Chase has a huge fanbase thanks to Lord of Scoundrels which is often voted best romance novel ever. Me, I enjoyed it a lot but I wouldn't say it's the best book I've ever read... I don't know if it's a generation thing or just my personal tastes. Anyway, all to say that I don't gobble up all of Ms Chase's books, I actually pick and choose based on the blurbs the ones that interest me. I skipped Last Night's Scandal based on the reviews... but when I came across Silk is for Seduction's blurb, I just knew I was going to read it. What really caught my interest was the fact that the heroine was a dressmaker. LOL, I know, it doesn't take much... but seriously, it's such a pleasure when an author takes such a small detail and makes it work :) And of course, when a hunch pays off :)

All to say that Silk is for Seduction was a great book, in big part thanks to the heroine, Marcelline Noirot. She was just an awesome character. I love the fact that she was a dressmaker, that she was artistic with a temperament, but also ambitious. Also loved her wits and cunning ways. Truth is, Marcelline comes from a family of charlatans/conmen and she along with her sisters have been taught to use their wits and charms to manipulate, to get what they want... and while they're trying to step away from the Noirots' ways and become legitimate, they're not above using whatever is at their disposition to get what they want :) All this made for a very complex and also very charismatic heroine :) And as I said, pretty awesome :)

While I didn't get as much of a feel for Clevedon, I thought he was also pretty interesting. I think it's because he's not your typical duke. He's not the stuffy type nor the ultra-authocrative duke nor the debauched rake. He doesn't really fit any of the stereotypes that we're used to. He's just a man who has spent the couple last few years on the Continent, most specifically France, avoiding his ducal responsibilities and marriage... mostly because he doesn't think he'll measure up to the expectations imposed. However, his time is coming to an end. Even by the end of the book, he didn't act that "dukely" :P That made him different, refreshing... but not as likable as Marcelline. In comparison, he was a bit bland. Interesting, but not totally exciting.

I really liked the first part of the book that took place in France where it was only Marcelline and Clevedon. I liked the seduction game, the battle of wits. I felt it's really where Marcelline and Clevedon could be themselves and I really enjoyed their interactions. Once they were back in London, hmmm, the romance cooled down a little. Of course, there was the ton, Marcelline's family and daughter to consider, oh and the fiancée and their reputations, etc. Understandably, it was due to circumstances... but I thought it was unfortunate. I was a bit disappointed as well because given Marcelline and Clevedon's personalities, I was expecting them to be a bit more assertive, to really go after what they want no matter what others think.

I think that romance novels where the hero already has a fiancée is always tricky to handle. You'll notice when it's the heroine who has a fiancé, then the guy tends to be a jerk and it's easy to get rid of him... But with a hero, well the fiancée usually tends to be a nice, naive girl. So all the characters are really walking a fine line, because there's always the potential feeling that the hero is cheating... That's why I would have liked Marcelline and Clevedon to step up earlier. Ah well, at least Marcelline wasn't pining for Clevedon which is a good thing... and I have to say, I liked how Clevedon's fiancée stood up for herself at the end. To call Clevedon's out for his action, but also to not settle for someone that doesn't suit her just because that's what her parents want. So all in all, while it's not the way I wanted it to be handled, I think Ms Chase did a good job and resolved this conflict in a satisfactory manner which made for a good romance.

After reading Silk is for Seduction, what stay with the readers are the characters and romance. However, Silk is for Seduction did have a storyline and it was one that was interesting and one that worked. The secondary characters made for a better book and so did the details about the dressmaking business... and all of this, wrapped with engaging writing :) Hard to ask for more :P

My Grade: A-. I devoured Silk is for Seduction because it was an excellent read :) I love the characters, but also the originality of the book. I'm looking forward to the next book, because I'm definitively picking it up :)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Programmed mind?

Okay, so today, I have a discussion topic :) It's been a while, I know. Please, feel free to participate!! LOL.

Yesterday was the last day of the "Buy 3, get the 4th free" promotion and I went back to the bookstore to hunt for a particular book - Demon Marked by Meljean Brook. I knew the bookstore had received their stock, but the clerk couldn't find it on Friday since it was still in boxes in shipping. So I went back on Sunday on the off chance that they had time to unpack and I'd be able to find it... Yeah, obsessed... but we all knew that, right? LOL.

Anyway, it got me thinking a little... because quite frankly, I haven't read anything since the month of September started. I tried, picked up a few books, started reading a few pages... and it just wasn't there. Wasn't feeling it. And I think the reason is because I've really been looking forward to Demon Marked and Archangel's Blade. I knew the bookstores would get their copies in this week and so there was a chance I would get my hands on it for this week-end... So it feels like my mind was anticipating reading Demon Marked and reading anything else wouldn't do it... and this is not the first time it's happening. I mean, pretty much when there's a book I'm really looking forward to, it seems my mind locks down to that one book. Like it's programmed to read that book and nothing else...

So does it happen to you? Does your mind get programmed to read that one book and nothing else will do? Or am I the only one? :P

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Hauling Sunday LV


Sunday of a long week-end. What are you planning all? Probably having fun, right? I'm thinking of going to work to start something... I know, boring, but that means tomorrow, I would only do a half-day. Good trade-off no? Well actually, no... but it'll have to do till September 15 - deadline for the grant. After that date, freedom I hope!! Anyway, the good thing about going into work today is stopping by the bookstore LOL... and trying to get my hands on some of the new releases. I know, I know, I'm obsessed :) Especially since I'm not reading ^_^; Right now, I'm doing a marathon of Doctor Who - the new Doctor Who with Matt Smith. Pretty entertaining. Anyone else watching?

So I told you about the Buy 3, get the 4th free promo right? Well I went twice already... Here's the first batch:

Ripe for Scandal by Isobel Carr - Bought this one because I've been in a historical romance mood and Ames is enjoying this series.

Secrets of Bella Terra by Christina Dodd - Ms Dodd books can be hit and miss with me. She can write some gritty contemporary romance and that's what I'm hoping Secret of Bella Terra is :)

Breaking Point by Pamela Clare - Okay, I'm not a big fan of Ms Clare's books and this series. I'm not a big fan of journalist heroines... However, Breaking Point has been really getting some good buzz. I was hoping to get it at RWA... but didn't happen. Now is fine though :)

One Night in London by Caroline Linden - This is actually the book I really wanted from my trip to the bookstore LOL. There was something about the blurb that really attracted me to it :)

Here's my second trip:

Kissing Comfort by Jo Goodman - Ms Goodman is a great author... If only I enjoyed western a bit more LOL. Still, I know a good book when I read one :)

Cheri On Top by Susan Donovan - I'm a fan of Ms Donovan and been really looking forward to this new release :) Wasn't a fan of her last series though - I think it was the age factor.... but this one, looking forward to :)

My One and Only by Kristan Higgins - Been a fan from Ms Higgins since I first read Fools Rush In. Although I haven't loved all of her books, mainly because they were very similar to one another. I heard My One and Only was different... And I was hoping to get it at RWA... but I missed my chances :(

The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper - Okay, why does Ms Harper always have such long titles? Tell me? LOL. I really enjoyed her Jane Jameson series and And One Last Thing...  I have to admit, How To Flirt with a Naked Werewolf didn't impress me... but that's not reason to give this one a chance, right?

And there you have it, my haul for this week!! Woohooo, joy at going to the bookstore :) Now, while I was writing this... the sun disappear and rain came in! So I'm not sure of my plans anymore... but I really, really want Demon Marked T_T So I might brave the weather for it :)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Review: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Okay, I really don't know where time went this week. Can someone tell me?!? Seriously. It was okay at work, I had time to write some reviews and to read... and I ended up playing Spider Solitaire. I know, pathetic ^_^; Also, my health woes continue. It's just one thing after another that bothers me... oh they go away, but in the meantime, I'm left stressing. Right now, it's my left eye. It's been bothering me... I don't know how to explain it. I mean, I see well and clear, yet it's a feeling... and yeah, I've been freaking out, because hello, it's my eye, my vision. I bought some fake tears and went to bed really early yesterday and it feels better this morning. So perhaps it's just fatigue and dryness. Crossing my fingers. I did make an appointment with an optometrist - jeez, are they busy!! I think it has to do with back to school... but really, the earliest I could get was next Friday and I called plenty of place. The thing is I did an eye check-up just before RWA and everything was fine. So yeah, probably freaking out for nothing and by the appointment, the bothering feeling will be gone. Sigh.

On a most cheerful note, Chapters and Indigo is having the "Buy 3, get the 4th free" promotion. So yes, I've been buying books. Yay!! You'll see my haul tomorrow... I'm back at hunting new releases :) But let me tell you, I've been spoiled in the past year with James... because hunting in stores that have a "backlog" of new releases... well it's not as fun ^_^;

Anyway, let's get unto the review :)

Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett
published by Simon & Schuster in May 2011
Meet Arcadia Bell: bartender, renegade magician, fugitive from the law...

Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.

But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life... and no amount of running will save her this time.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Arcadia Bell series, Book #1

The Story: Arcadia Bell is a magician/mage who was conceived during a sex ritual and is supposed to be hot stuff. Seven years ago, when she was 18, her parents were accused of murdering people, so all three of them went into hiding - Arcadia stayed in the States while her parents headed for Europe so it was easier to stay hidden. Time has gone, Arcadia has settled in California, is part-owner of a Tiki bar and everything is going on well... and suddenly, her parents re-appear in the States and they get picked up by security cameras. However, authorities are the least of their problems as the other magick organization, the Luxe Order, wants the parents to be given to them as compensation for the attempted murder on their leader seven years ago... or Arcadia. So Cady basically has 2 weeks to prove her parents' innocence.

She comes up with the idea of summoning the Æthyric demon who actually did the killing... However, she has very little clues on which demon it is which leads her to Lon Butler, a forty-ish years old single father, recluse photographer and also a demon, who's an expert on demonology and boasts an impressive collection of rare books.

Together, Arcadia and Lon race against time to track down the demon. It becomes even more pressing when the leader of the Ekklesia Eleusia disappears and assassins against Arcadia are dispatched... Not to forget Arcadia's powers that seem to change and evolve...

My Opinion: I picked up Kindling the Moon because I have this weakness for mage, wizards, witches, etc. characters and thought Kindling the Moon fit the bill nicely and it did, to a certain extent. I think though my problem is I'm starting to burn out a little on Urban Fantasy, sigh ^_^;

So you have Arcadia who is supposed to be a hot shot, given the circumstances of her birth. However, after almost 25 years, still nothing. Actually, it's even worst as for the past seven years, Arcadia has been self-thought. The only thing special about Arcadia is that she has the ability to see people's halo which indicate what they are. And I think that was strike one for the book... The whole special heroine who is not that special, but will become special. It's been done and pretty much overdone. To me, Arcadia didn't stand out. It feels to me in order to be a successful mage, wizards, magic-wielding being - you need knowledge and contacts... and Arcadia didn't have any. Also, her magic tricks are very coarse. She just didn't impress me much.

Lon was Arcadia's love interest and the feeling I got from him was a bit meh. He doesn't stand out much either, is not ultra alpha or protective. For most of the book, I thought he felt mellow ^_^; I love beta male heroes, but I don't think Lon even fits in that category ^_^; I did like his teenage son Jupiter though. I felt Jupiter was the only character who brought a bit of liveliness to the storyline.

Overall, I think that was the problem: the feeling of the book was a bit heavy, a bit too morose. Arcadia is trying to prove her parents' innocence and all she can really do is go through books looking for the right demon. The storyline was lacking a sense of urgency that would have grabbed the readers. I thought the pacing of Kindling the Moon was a bit off and the action was a bit too late. In the book defense though, the storyline did really pick up in the last quarter of the book and there was a very big and interesting twist at the end and that part saved the book for me :)

My Grade: C+. Kindling the Moon was not the greatest first book in a series that I've read and I do think it suffered a bit of the first book syndrome, i.e. world building. Still the writing was pleasant and Arcadia was a nice narrator. I think the future of this series will really depend on storylines - the good thing is Ms Bennett hasn't restricted herself for the future... it's pretty wide-open and so, all she needs to do is to come up with a really interesting, exciting storyline - yes, I know, easier said than done :) And spicing up our H/H a bit which shouldn't be that difficult given how Kindling the Moon ended :) Right now, I'm not going to jump on the next book, Summoning the Night; however, it is on my radar :)