Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy 2010!

My first new post of 2010 is not going to be very exciting. But, as part of my New Year's resolution, I am determined to post something at least once a week. So ... here we go.

The last few weeks have been pretty busy. We moved to a new place. Plus family stuff over the holidays. I've barely had time to read. Since I haven't really felt like picking up anything new, I've decided to go back and re-read J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I'm finished with Dark Lover (Wrath and Beth), Lover Eternal (Rhage and Mary), Lover Awakened (Zadist and Bella), and I'm half-way through Lover Revealed (Butch and Marissa).

I love re-reading series. Now that I already know what will happen, I can take the time and go back and savor my favorite parts.

I love re-reading Wrath and Beth's story because I remember how excited when I read it for the first time, being introduced to a brand new world and a new twist to the vampire mythology. For me, Rhage and Mary didn't touch me as deeply as some other couples but I do enjoy their story. And the ending is an a good use of duex ex machina (as opposed to the ending in Vishous and Jane's story, which was a total wtf? moment.) And I love love love the ending to Zadist and Bella's story. The part when Z finally tells Bella he loves her always makes me tear up a little. Now I can't wait to finish Butch and Marissa's story. It's sweet torture to watch the two of them finally get together, and to experience the deep bond (potentially sexually ambiguous bond?) between Butch and Vishous.

But then, I'm not entirely looking forward to re-reading Lover Unbound (Vishous and Jane) and Lover Enshrined (Phury and Cormia). I remember I was so disappointed by these two books. Both Vishous and Phury had so much potential and there was so much to explore with the two of them. I remember I felt very let down because I didn't connect with these two characters in their own stories as much as I did when they were secondary characters. In fact, one reason I wanted to re-read the series is because when I was reading the latest book, Lover Avenged (Rhevenge's story), I couldn't remember a lot that happened. It's like I completely blocked out Phury's story and everything that happened. I'm hoping it'll be better the second time around.

After I'm done re-reading this series, I plan to tackle the challenges I joined last year. Unfortunately, I failed the Jane Austen Challenge, which ended already. But I still have time to finish the Harry Potter Challenge and the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge. So I better get to it!

Also, I need to get started organizing my books via Good Reads, another one of my New Year's resolutions.

Lots to do and lots to read!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Read-a-thon 2009, here I come!

I'm so excited! My very first readathon. I've nagged my friend Janicu into doing it with me. I went to the library and got books. I went to Borders and got books. My husband is out of town. It's the perfect time to curl up and read read read!
  • Hana Yori Dango books that I got from the library. It's a Japanese anime series that I'm completely addicted to.
  • A trilogy from Nicole Jordan: To Seduce a Bride, To Bed a Beauty, and To Pleasure a Lady.
  • Lisa Kleypas' Tempt Me at Midnight
  • J.R. Ward's Covet
  • Julia Quinn's To Catch an Heiress
  • Elizabeth Hoyt's To Beguile a Beast
  • Julie Powell's Julie & Julia, which I started but haven't finished.
  • Scott Westerfeld's series: The Pretties (oops, I read this already. How did it get in the pile?) and The Extras.
  • MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy series: Undead and Unwelcome
  • Rachel Mead's YA vampire series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, and Shadow Kiss. I think there is another book I didn't get yet.
  • LHK's Skin Trade. I have about 100 pages left. It's been a slow read.
And if I don't feel like reading any of these in the pile, I can always do my Sookie Stackhouse or Harry Potter challenges.

So on the west coast, I'm supposed to start at 5 a.m. Ummmmm. Not sure that's going to happen. But I will be up as early as possible and stay up as late as possible. I'm not planning on leaving the house for food though!

FYI - I'm posting my updates on Vox since I like the formatting for Vox better. I'll update Blogger after I'm done with the Read-a-thon. :) Thanks for all the cheerleaders' messages!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris (also on Vox)

In Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris reminded me again why I loved this series to begin with - ERIC!!! To me, it felt like the series has been taking a bit of a detour with Sookie's involvement in the were community and the other men that have come into Sookie's life. In this book, more Eric! And I loved it!

In this book, the weres have decided to follow the vampires out of the paranormal closet. At first, it seems like the big reveal for the weres are going pretty well. But then, Sookie finds the body of a werepanther in the Merlotte's parking lot. "But what she doesn't realize is that there is a much greater danger than the killer threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings - older, more powerful, and far more secretive than vampires or werewolves - are preparing for war."

The part in quotes are from the book blurb. I have to say though, this part is a bit misleading. It was a bit of a let down about these "unhuman beings" and the war they are waging. But, I still enjoyed the book a lot. Mostly because of Eric! Ok, I can't stop gushing about Eric. So by now, Eric has remembered what he previously has forgotten. And now he's seriously woo-ing Sookie.

Because I love Eric so much (can you tell?), I was pretty happy with this book. We do get some visits from Sookie's ex-boyfriends, Quinn and Bill. And of course, Sam is always involved. But overall, I'm satisfied with the way Sookie/Eric is progressing and look forward to the next book. Oh, Sookie gets more involved in the paranormal world as she looks for the murderer, blah blah Eric blah blah.

Overall: B+.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James (also on Vox)

First, much thanks to my friend Janicu who introduced me to Julie James and sent me this book! I stayed up until 4 am reading it the very day I got it.

Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson started as associates at a big law firm together and are now both up for partnership. Payton concentrates on employment discrimination law, while J.D. focuses on class action lawsuits. Payton came from a hippie family, while J.D. is your typical privileged white male whose dad is a judge. Payton and J.D. can't stand each other, but must come together to win a client for the firm, their last hoop to jump through before reaching the partnership brass ring. They grudgingly begin to get to know each other, What they didn't realize is that only one will be made partner.

I enjoyed the book overall. But I confess, I wasn't the biggest J.D. Jameson fan. I mean, a white male attorney, whose dad is a judge, whining about reverse discrimination? Oh please! While I firmly believe people should be judged on their merits, the reality is, men and women, whites and minorities, straights and gays are not on an even playing field. We're not entirely color-blind, gender-blind, or sexual orientation-blind. We're trying (I think), but we're certainly not there yet. And yes, while it is possible that a white male will be passed over for a white female in a partnershp decision if the firm is trying to increase diversity, I think the reality is, female partners have to overcome a lot more obstacle along the way to get there. So J.D. annoyed me with his, oh-it's-so-unfair-you-just-have-to-wear-a-skirt-to-make-partner-even-though-I'm-more-qualified-than-you attitude.

But, in the spirit of reading a fun, entertaining romance novel, I moved past it and tried to get into the spirit of the oil and water with the simmering sexual tension underneath storyline. It was a bit predictable that Payton and J.D. couldn't stand each other, but are secretly attracted, and eventually came to realize both are dedicated and incredibly talented as lawyers. Ok, here's another minor rant - seriously, in the 8 years of practicing, neither of them has ever lost a case?! Not reality. I liked Payton a lot. She's smart, driven, and professional. I just wish J.D. suffered a bit more or groveled harder before the happily ever after, especially something we found out he did toward the end of the book.

Overall, it was a light, enjoyable read. I think I enjoyed Just the Sexiest Man Alive a bit more, but I'm looking forward to Julie James's next novel. It looks like it'll depart a bit from these two books, involving a female U.S. Attorney and an FBI agent.

Overall: B.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (also on Vox)

I absolutely LOVED this book. Now normally, I read what my husband likes to call "trashy romance novels." I roll my eyes at him because he obviously does not understand that there is more to the romance genre than just the bodice-rippers. But that's a whole other story. Anyway, my point is, he is right in that I do read a lot of romance novels, be it romantic suspese, historical romance, paranormal romance of whatever other category of romance. I very rarely pick up books outside of my normal reading range. But I am so glad I picked up The Time Traveler's Wife, which, while definitely solidly in the fiction category (and potentially something Oprah might put in her bookclub), is still, at the heart of it, all about romance.

This book is the love story of Henry (the time traveler) and Clare (the titular time traveler's wife). I am completely awed by author Audrey Niffenegger's imagination in coming up with such a lovely, unique and complex tale. It must have been so difficult to keep track of the time travels, who knows what at what particular time, who has met whom, what events have occurred or not yet occurred, and then wrapping the whole story up neatly and perfectly. The first time I read the book, I just wanted to get to the end so I find out everything. But now that I'm done, I definitely feel the need to go back and re-read the story again to further appreciate the complexity of it all and how it all ties together.

The story is basically about Henry and Clare, whose lives are so closely intertwined throughout time. Clare first met Henry when she was 6 years old but Henry first met Clare when he was 28 years old. While we get to know Henry and Clare's love for each other, at the same time, we get to know Henry and Clare as individuals. Both Henry and Clare have family issues that give further clarity to who they are. I loved reading about how their relationship developed.
While the book is about Henry the time traveler, time travel is almost an afterthought. We just accept that it happens. But the focus is really on Henry and Clare, their relationship with each other, their relationship with their family and friends, and their relationship with time.

I am recommending this book to my husband to read. Yep, I'm making him read it! And I would love to watch the movie as well. This is one of the most unique and interesting books I've come across in a long time. I give it a solid A!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt

To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt (also on Vox)

This is my very first Elizabeth Hoyt book and I absolutely LOVED it. I loved the characters, the plot, and the writing. In fact, there were moments where I thought to myself, I want to quote this for my review. And so I shall.

To Seduce is actually Book 2 of the The Legend of the Four Soldiers Series, revolvoing around the survivors of the 28th Regiment. During the war in America, there was a traitor who betrayed the 28th Regiment into massacre by the Indians at Spinner's Fall. For those who survived the capture and subsequent torture by the Indians, they are still haunted by those events.

The second book revolves around Jasper Renshaw, Lord Vale. We meet Vale on his wedding day when he has been dumped by his fiancee, who threw him over for a country curate. Seizing her chance, Melisande Fleming did something bold - she asked him to marry her. Vale agrees. Vale comes to find that while Melisande is the epitome of proper ladyship during the day, there are hidden passions that she allows him to see only at night. Melisande comes to find that while Vale seems the lighthearted aristocrat, he hides a deep pain from his traumatic war experience. Vale seeks to pierce Melisande's veil during the day; while Melisande braves the night to find the true Vale.

"Somehow she found it easier to be relaxed at night. The shadows made her brave. Perhaps she really was the mistress of the night, as he called her. And if so, did that make him master of the day?

She watched him, struck by the thought. He sought her out mainly during the daylight hours. Stalked her in the sunlight. He might like to go to balls and gaming hells at night, but it is during the day that he sought to discover her secrets."

The entire book was perfect from beginning to end. I was discovering Jasper and Melisande as they got to know each other. It slowly became clear that Jasper and Melisande's past experiences made them who they are today and a perfect fit for each other. Melisande possesses the strength and maturity to handle Jasper. Jasper is the one man who sees the person Melisande truly is. I loved that at the beginning of the book, Jasper vaguely recalls Melisande but does not remember her name. By the end, he sees her when no one else does. Melisande has always been a bit of a wallflower, but she comes alive with Jasper.

The supporting cast is also well developed. There is a secondary story with Sally, Melisande's maid and Mr. Pynch, Jasper's valet. There is Sir Mouse, Melisande's faithful dog. Then there is the hunt for the traitor. While I knew that the traitor would not be revealed in Book 2, the hunt had my attention and I can't wait to read the rest of the books. Finally, there is a nice setup for Book 3 that felt natural and not forced.

This has been an excellent introduction to Elizabeth Hoyt. I can't wait to read the rest of the Legend of the Four Soldiers stories, starting with To Beguile a Beast, which I won from @mbookworm.

Overall: A!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harry Potter Reading Challenge!

Yep, I'm joining another challenge. Good thing all these challenges give lots of time for me to complete them. I've been meaning to re-read all the Harry Potter books anyway. So this is perfect.

So I am joining Galley Smith's Harry Potter Reading Challenge. Woot!

Also on Vox.