Saturday, October 31, 2009

Image from FantasticFiction

**This post is written by a guest blogger... my sister Leslie. She is 12 years old and another voracious reader. She will be doing more young adult book reviews in the future.**

Blurb (from the author's website):
Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for 'disturbed teens'. At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems...? Chloe realizes that if she doesn't uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse...? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?


"The Summoning" was the first book I read that was by Kelley Armstrong and I'm already a fan. This book was very addictive with its moving scenes and supernatural characters. I can't wait to read the sequel of this book.

"The Summoning" was full of adventures of the main character, Chloe Saunders, and her friends, that had left me at many questions that wanted to be answered. I was also moved by the suspense of some of the adventures. Those adventures were described very well that it made me feel like I had jumped inside of the book and I was experiencing what Chloe and her friends were doing.

The supernatural characters were also fantastic. I liked how Kelley Armstrong used events of the story to help the reader understand what the character is and how they are unique in their own special way.

I give this book 5 stars because it was written well with its many riveting adventures, awesome characters and it had all the elements I could ask for in a book- fantasy, a bit of romance and horror. I recommend this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next book, "The Awakening".

**Disclaimer: This book was borrowed from our local library. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Image from Random House, Inc.

Blurb (from the back of the book):
A Woman of Hidden Flames
The once-wealthy, flirtatious belle stood on the auction block to be sold as a servant. Her sensual figure disguised, her glorious titian hair disheveled, she looked like a waif, trembling when she recognized the highest bidder--idol of her childhood dreams.

A Man of Blazing Passion
Alex du Villier bought the girl out of pity, but her aqua eyes stirred his soul and her body ignited his blood. She would be the perfect mistress to make him forget his coming marriage to a cold, haughty heiress. Now he intended to teach this innocent beauty that although he had purchased her freedom, he could steal her heart.

Kat Martin has penned some amazing romances and is a terrific writer. Unfortunately, this book is not one one of them. Creole Fires is one of Kat Martin's older books (published in 1992) and it shows. This book addresses a few issues that many romance authors in the present time would be hesitant to touch like slavery (it's set in the South in the early 1800's). It also has the whole "putting the heroine over the hero's knees for a few sound whacks after she misbehaved" scene that seems prevalent in romance novels published around the early 90s. I don't care for those scenes and if you don't either, then I don't recommend this book.

It took me a while to finish to book and I even had thoughts about giving up on it, but I made myself read it anyway. You know how some people can't waste food, well, I'm like that with books--a book unread is a book wasted--especially since I bought this book (it was only $4.99 but nonetheless). It was just... boring. The plot was the typical slave/held captive plot line. I didn't care for the hero at all and the heroine just annoyed the heck out of me. The whole book pretty much went this way: Nicki the heroine runs away (because her pride and honor wouldn't just let her accept her fate as Alex's mistress), she gets into some kind of trouble, and Alex rescues her and then it repeats. That got old really fast.

I'm giving it 2 stars because it was written well, I just didn't care for the story nor the characters. If you're looking for a good Kat Martin book, I suggest Heartless and Dangerous Passions. I read these a few years ago and don't remember if there was a spanking scene in these books (now that I think about it many of her books have spanking scenes in them), but I remember really liking them.

Hmmm... might have to go back and check that now...

**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Midnight Confessions" is going to be a new journal-type blog post series I am going to do once a week. It will be about my confessions, observations, rants and thoughts on all things book (and/or beauty product) related. Why "midnight"? Well, midnight is more likely the around time when I write these posts because I am most reflective around this time. It's 11:55 PM, so without further ado, my first confession...

I was a book cheat--by that I mean I was the kind of person who paged through and read the last few chapters of a book, leaving no surprises for myself. My book cheating habit got so bad, I would even read the last few pages of a book (in any genre) when I am in a store and if I don't like what I read I wouldn't buy the book.


Images from FantasticFiction

The book cheating got started in the sixth grade when I started reading those Fear Street books by R.L. Stein. For those who don't know, Fear Street were a series of horror books for tweens that were too old for Goosebumps and they were usually murder mysteries but some have supernatural elements in them. All my friends were into them and kept pressuring me to read them too. I was too scared to read them (I avoided Goosebumps like the plague as well), but finally I gave in. To alleviate my fear, I read the end of the book first to find out who the killer was before reading it through. Of course just reading the end is very confusing, so I would page through the book and read parts from here and there until how the ending came to be made sense. It worked! It was less scary knowing who the murder was before actually reading the book. I would know pretty much know what was going to happen--it felt like I was re-reading when I finally read it thoroughly from cover to cover. Soon, it became a big habit. I was reading the endings of even non-scary books like literary fiction and romance novels (which I discovered in the eighth grade and haven't stopped reading since). I knew all romance novels were going to end happily but that did not stop me--I had to know.

The book cheating when on for years until my senior years of high school. The book that turned me around was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I borrowed it from the school library towards the end of the school year and I didn't have much time with it. With the time constraints, I just read through the book without book cheating. I finished the book in three days (less time it usually took me to read a 300 page book) just reading through it without cheating. Afterward, I realized how more exciting the book was when I didn't know what to expect, when I was not privy to plot twists, and when I was uncertain as to how it will end.

I loved the feeling of uncertainty and surprise when I read SLoB and I resolved to feel that way again the next time I read another book. I was more involved when I don't know what to expect--thinking up possible scenarios in my head of what will happen next or guessing as to who the mystery killer was and being proved right or wrong... It's been five years and I've gotten a lot better since then. I still page through the book before reading it sometimes but I avoid the few chapters at the end of the book so that no surprises are ruined--a big turn-around.

But you know it's so easy to book cheat because all the book's secrets are there in the pages. Reading is often a solitary experience with no one to tell you to stop if you're tempted to fast forward to see the end... Did you ever book cheat? How did you feel afterward? Was the book ruined for you after you gave into temptation and peeked at how the book will end?

Monday, October 19, 2009

ABC
ABC Reading Challenge Based On Any Word in the Book's Title

I've been a book blog lurker for some time before I finally took the plunge and started my own book blog so that books I've read and my thoughts about them can be chronicled. However, I haven't been utilizing my blog all that much--only posting a book review once every week and half (which is the time it takes me to read a book cover to cover). I want to do more but I don't want to post just any old thing and I haven't found an interesting enough meme I can commit to. However, I've been wanting to participate in a reading challenge for a while now but my worry about not being able to follow through have always stopped me.

Well, that's about to change as I've decided to take another plunge and join in on a reading challenge. I found the perfect on from Another Book On The Stack. She is attempting an ABC reading challenge based on the author's last name (and I hope she doesn't mind me "borrowing" her idea). I want a long term challenge (and maybe participate in a smattering of smaller challenges in between once I get the hang of things), but I'm thinking that the last name thing will be too hard for my first one so I'm changing it so that it's an "ABC Reading Challenge Based On Any Word in the Book's Title" and I'm making it so that every book genre counts. Easy right? I think I'll be able to handle that.

Since I want to use the books I've already read since I started this blog my "starting" date was September 3, 2009 and ends March 3, 2010 (I'm giving myself 6 months). And since it all seems very eary right now, I'm going to put down some rules:

1. These words--the, a, an, and, is, are, were--do not count. For example, the "a" in Once a Rake cannot be put down for the letter "A." Any other words are fair game.

2. A different book must be used for each letter in the alphabet. After the challenge is complete, I should have read 26 different books.

3. 75% of the 26 books read must be 200+ pages long.

I think that's it.

Hopefully this challenge will make me read more books at a much quicker pace and I will utilize my blog more and post more often. I never know what to post about except for book reviews and I haven't found a weekly meme yet that I want to get into.

**This challenge has probably been done before, but if you haven't done it yet feel free to take the challenge (and don't forget to let me know as it'd be nice know someone else is attempting it)!


A - Bold Angel by Kat Martin
B - Let the Night Begin by Kathryn Smith
C - Creole Fires by Kat Martin
D - Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
E - The Earl Claims His Wife by Cathy Maxwell
F - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
G - Graceling by Kristin Cashore
H - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I - Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
J - Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
K
L - Lucan by Susan Kearney
M - In My Heart by Melody Thomas
N -
O - Her One Desire by Kimberly Killion
P
Q
R - Once a Rake by Rona Sharon
S - Book of Scandal by Julia London
T - Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory
U - Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione
V - Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh
W - Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
X
Y
Z

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review: Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory

Sunday, October 18, 2009 with

Image from HarperCollins

Synopsis (from the back of the book):

Three nights of danger . . .

When her brother was arrested for murder, the ton shut its doors to Marietta Winters. No one would help her save him from the gallows—no one but Gabriel Noble. In exchange for taking the case, Gabriel requests three favors from the desperate young beauty, and Marietta has no other choice but to make a deal with the sinfully handsome devil.

Three nights of pleasure . . .

Searching for clues in the rough underbelly of London, Marietta must masquerade as a shamelessly wanton wench—much to Gabriel's delight. But Marietta swears to herself that her passionate moans are just for show. She could never fall in love with such a maddening, arrogant, seductive stranger . . . could she?

Three nights of sin . . .

Night after night, she satisfies his wicked cravings. But soon Gabriel wants more from Marietta than just three nights of sin—and even a sordid secret in his past won't prevent him from trying to possess her forever.

I have been eyeing this book for a while but the cover and the synopsis on the back of the book always turned me off from buying it. When you read the synopsis above you'd think that in exchange for helping her free her brother from a murder charge Gabriel Noble forced Marietta into sleeping with him for three nights. You'd think that this book is just another run of the mill romance "mystery" novel that is not a mystery at all. Not so in all accounts. I don't want to give anything away but suffice to say the cover doesn't do this book justice (though it's steamy read) nor the blurb at the back of the book.

This book was much darker than the other romances I've read lately. No glittering ballrooms and pretty dresses here folks. Instead the author takes us to unsavory parts of Regency London--shadowy alleys, dirty taverns with questionable individuals, the homes of murder victims, etc. The Gabriel was different as well. He put me in the mind of Lisa Kleypas' Derek Crave but better (sorry Craven fans I didn't really like him to begin with). He was self-made man, sensual, and a very secretive lone wolf. As a reader, Gabriel was a true mystery man and kind of an anti-hero--you'll get to know him as Marietta does throughout the book yet you'll fall in love with him like she did. Marietta herself was a society miss fallen to hard times financially and with a brother accused of murder, she was at the end of her rope. Nevertheless, she was strong, brave and just the right heroine for Gabriel. He very much had the upper hand over her and their relationship until he realized how much he loved her and needed her in his life. Also, unlike 90% of romance novel heroines she was plain and "not very attractive," which was very refreshing to read.

The mystery in the book drove the story forward and I thought this book was almost as much a mystery as romance. It kept me guessing until the end (I ended up being right but was surprised just the same). The conclusion of the mystery was very bittersweet to me and you'll understand if you read the book.

Overall, the story was excellent, the hero and heroine very likable, the writing excellent, and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 stars.


**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Review: The Earl Claims His Wife by Cathy Maxwell

Saturday, October 10, 2009 with

Image from HarperCollins
Synopsis (from harpercollins.com):

She'll be his perfect wife . . .

Preoccupied with fighting Napoleon and making love to his mistress, Brian Ranson has ignored his wife since their wedding. But now that he's become the Earl of Wright, he's ready to fetch his bride back to London. He's shocked to find she's become a bold, beautiful woman, exactly the kind he lusts after . . . and she wants nothing to do with him.

Gillian, Lady Wright, is desperate to seize the love she's been denied . . . but not with her rakish husband! So she makes a bargain—for thirty days she'll be the perfect wife, then he'll set her free. But no matter how she hardens her heart against her damnable earl, her body begs her to surrender . . .

Rarely nowadays do I buy a book on a whim without first doing a little research finding out what other readers think of the book. I usually do my research on amazon.com because there I can read both numerous positive and negative reviews all at one place.

This book I discovered on Book Binge, this really awesome book blog focusing on the romance genre I frequent as they have many cool things going on there like reviews, author spotlights, giveaways, among other things. They were raving about it and because it features my all-time favorite romantic plot line (an estranged married couple finding second chance at love), I went and bought it at Borders the next day without doing the book research I usually do. **Yes, I finally found that book from a book blog!!

But you know what... I really enjoyed this book. It was a really fast and easy read was devoid of many unnecessary details (excessive details about dresses, furniture, mundane activities, etc.) that authors often add on as filler. I wasn't really into Brian the hero at first because what kind of jerk tells his wife after their wedding night that he loves his mistress and pretty much abandons her, right? But as the story went on, he redeemed himself to Gillian (and to me) especially with how he cared for baby Anthony. Gillian the heroine kinda annoyed me a little with how often she changed her feelings toward Brian and how quickly she got fell back in love with him even though she complained about his abandonment many times and she supposedly loved Andres the Spaniard. Despite all that I liked her as well. She was strong, independent and very caring. I think after all that she went through with Brian and then surprised by Anthony, her feelings were valid. I found myself rooting for both Brian and Gillian to make their relationship work and find their happy ending.

The reason why I didn't give it a more higher rating was because the love scenes were hardly there. Looking at the book's stepback cover you'd think it's a very spicy read, but it's not (for a quick giggle see it here). I mean I don't like chapter-long, dragged out love scenes (they get kinda boring and repetitive after a while), but in this book the two main scenes were only about a two paragraphs long, maybe three. Also, to me it ended kinda abruptly. I would have loved an epilogue.

I give it 3 stars. It's a good book overall and recommend it.

**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Friday, October 9, 2009

Michelle's Bookshelf

Friday, October 9, 2009 with
In the past few months I was in a book buying kick... I was buying (from Borders because they kept sending me those 40% off coupons that I felt I had to take advantage of) but I wasn't reading. I bought a combination of romance novels, literary fiction, and memoirs. However, I've been reading mostly the romance lately (see my reviews of those books here on my blog). After I've exhausted my romance reading frenzy I think I'm going to change it up a bit and read something from a different genre. These are the ones I am most eager to read...
Image from Barnes & Noble
Image from Barnes & Noble


Image from Penguin

I also have the following on my shelf as well:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Look for my reviews of these books here in (hopefully) the near future!



**Disclaimer: Although not a review post, I want everyone to know that I bought these books with my own money. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review: Once A Rake

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 with

Image from Barnes & Noble

Synopsis (from amazon.com):
War had scarred the Earl of Ashby's face...and perhaps his soul. Before being wounded in the Napoleonic war and shunning society, the dashing lord had been a notorious rake. Now, Isabel Aubrey, a proper lady, dares to approach the masked, reclusive nobleman for a large donation to a worthy charity - and decides she must save him from his self-loathing. She begins to flirt. He responds. She invites him to a masquerade ball. He accepts and dazzles her with a kiss.But Isabel already has a fiance and despite her attraction to the earl she knows she must reject him. Yet no force on earth is greater than the passion that leads her into his bed; nothing she has ever experienced is more exciting and erotic. Now he asks her to stay with him although it will mean her ruin. Isabel must not say yes - and the smitten earl cannot let her say no. To win her body and her heart, he initiates an outrageous scheme that only a rake would devise - and no woman can resist.


I've never read anything by this author and I thought I'd give her a try because the book was only $4.99 and I had a Borders coupon. I don't know what to say about this book. Yes, it was well-written but I'll only give it 2 stars. I took forever reading this book because once I put it down I wasn't very eager to pick it up and read it again. Maybe it was the fact that it was too long (the paperback was 448 pages) and I felt it could have been at least a hundred-page shorter. Maybe it was just me, but there was sort of an "ick factor" in the 13 year difference in age between the hero and the heroine (the first kiss between the characters happened when he was 28 and she was 15--two of my cousins are 15 and it's just gross picturing them kissing a 28-year-old man).

The book started out okay and I breezed through the first few chapters, but after a while it just dragged. The whole middle of the book pretty much followed this pattern: heroine is upset with the hero, he explains or does something to rectify his action, she forgave him and they kiss... then it happens all over again except this time the hero is upset with the heroine. I also didn't feel much chemistry between the two characters.

Overall, an okay read. It's not my favorite but it's not bad. You should pick it up if you happen upon it at a used books sale as it's worth a read.

***I got lazy and just copied and pasted the synopsis from amazon.com. I don't know if that's allowed but I did cite it and provided a link directly to the amazon.com page where I got the synopsis. Please let me know if I'm breaking a law by doing this and I'll take it off the post immediately. Thank you!***


**Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money. My review was based on MY own experiences with the book and only share my honest, unbiased opinions. I am NOT promoting or discouraging anyone from purchasing this book--whether I liked or disliked it. PLEASE use this blog only as a source and not the definite answer to your inquiries.**