Wednesday, March 26

Review: Thigh High by Christina Dodd

I want to start by saying that I’ve been really lucky that other bloggers have accepted to buddy review books with me. Seriously, if it wasn’t for them, this blog wouldn’t have as many posts. So thank you very much!

Today, my review buddy is Jill from the Romance Rookie blog. In the past, Jill and I have noticed that we often have different opinions on books, so we thought it’d be really interesting to do a buddy review. Our choice: Thigh High by Christina Dodd.

Oh, just before you start reading this review... it's more of a discussion, so warning, there are spoilers! There's lots of reviews that have been posted in blogland recently, so if you don't want to be spoiled, you might want to read those instead (Dear Author, All About Romance)...

Thigh High by Christina Dodd
published by Signet in March 2008

Nessa Dahl always had the good sense to steer clear of trouble. Then Jeremiah MacNaught showed up in New Orleans, determined to get to the bottom of a string of bank robberies by two women wearing Mardi Gras masks. Little does Nessa realize that the handsome investigator is convinced she's involved with the crimes-or that he's willing to do anything to get the truth. Even if it means taking the beautiful woman he's convinced is a liar and a thief straight to bed...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: The Fortune Hunter, book #3

The Story: Nessa Dahl has been working at the bank for seven years and is hoping to be promoted to a manager position. She’s worked hard, slaving and enduring That Woman, to overcome a mistake that could have cost her her career in the early years. In addition, Nessa needs the money so she can take care of her aunts, renovate the Dahl House – a historical building, and get rid of the boarders.

Every year during the Mardi Gras period, a bank gets robbed by the Beaded Bandits. The amount is never huge, therefore the case isn’t a top priority with the FBI. However, bank director Jeremiah MacNaught – Mac – is determined to find the culprit and put a stop to the repeated offence. After the private investigator he’s hired all but fell to Nessa’s charms, Mac decides to take the investigation into his own hands and goes to New Orleans and he’s determined to prove Nessa’s culpability.

Nath: So what did you think Jill? Christina Dodd is usually more miss than hit for me. I didn't enjoy the 2 previous Fortune Hunter books all that much, I thought the back blurbs were quite misleading... I was expecting cat burglary plotlines, but they weren’t. I wasn't going to buy this one, but I thought the cover was quite nice… so I’m happy that I liked and enjoyed this one :)

Jill: Well, I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did Tongue in Chic.

Nath: LOL, you liked Tongue in Chic more? Well, it's true the storyline in Tongue in Chic was more compact and better developed. However, character-wise, I think I like Thigh High better… the main reason was Jeremiah MacNaught... cos he was such a jerk LOL :) Is it me or the Manly brothers are all kind of jerk-y?

Jill: Oh yeah, Tongue in Chic was great because the H/h fought like cats and dogs and were constantly trying to 'one-up' the other. Ah, but I digress... I haven't read the first one, but yes I think the Manly brothers have the 'jerk' gene!

Nath: LOL, definitively. Sometimes, that's what readers need; a different kind of hero... and I think that's what Mac was. He's not handsome per say, he's not charming or gentle. He's ruthless, overbearing, and arrogant, and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants and that includes the heroine. He's not refreshing or original, I mean I've read books where the hero was a jerk, but it was welcomed. I liked his awkward camaraderie with Gabriel.

Jill: I liked Mac too. What I liked was how he was described as a thug in a business suit. That cracked me up. I like my heroes rough around the edges. I can't stand for them to be prettier than the heroine. So the fact that he had this big body and lots of scars was a plus for me. I liked that he was a take charge kind of guy. In a lot of ways he reminded me of Linda Howard's heroes. What I didn't like was how quick he was to assume Nessa was involved with the theft. I wish he would have had a little more faith in her and his own judgement.

Nath: Well, isn’t that why he came to New Orleans? Because he assumed that Nessa was guilty of the thefts, or at least involved? I'm happy though that his need to "possess" Nessa was so great that he wouldn't have cared if she was really involved.

On the other hand, I thought Nessa was just okay. I find that she was a bit blind to her surroundings - her job and great-aunts. There must have been clues and she was just not facing them. In the end, she came off a bit meh, because she was surrounded by better characters.

Jill: I was disappointed in the length of time Nessa and Mac spent together. I think their relationship was overshadowed by all the other characters, the boarders, the bank employees, the cops, etc. etc. One of Christina Dodd's strong talents is her ability to write witty banter between the lead characters. I think she dropped the ball in this case with Thigh High mainly because Nessa and Mac didn't spend quite as much (written) time together as I would have liked.

Nath: You're absolutely right though. Mac and Nessa's relationship wasn't developed enough. Again, everything went on too fast. How they got together and fell in love. You're also right about the secondary characters - Too many of them. She should have eliminated a couple... I think she needed them to portray how nice and vulnerable Nessa is.

Jill: Yes definitely, I think the long list of characters was done to show the reader just how many friends and how well loved Nessa was. I did like the kooky Aunts and I even liked eeevil Stephanie. Glad she stuck her foot in her mouth (or should I say emails) when she doesn't realize who Mac is really. That was fun seeing her squirm.

Nath: I thought that the great-aunts were hilarious and provided the necessary comedy relief. As for the whole Beaded Bandits, I thought it was a bit ridiculous, but since it was based in New Orleans, it was acceptable.

Jill: Me, there were quite a few things that I just had to try and overlook in this book. Should I go into detail?

*SPOILERS start here*

Well the fact that Georgia, the NOPD cop, lets Mac go into the bank through the back in order to save Nessa. Now why would a cop let a civilian, (even though he is a big pushy bastard and the woman he loves is in peril) enter a hostage situation and Mac had a gun, WTF!!! That was one thing. The other was how the whole robbery situation was handled with the Aunts. I think that the crime should have been addressed properly. They had committed a federal crime and it was perceived as a joke. I didn't think that was right. Their crime should have been taken a little more seriously.

Nath: LOL, I completely forgot about Mac going in a hostage situation… and seriously, see the results of letting a civilian go in? He gets shot!! LOL. Also, I agree with you about how the robberies were handled in the end. The aunts did commit a federal offence. It should have been dealt properly. However, I think that they were only accused for the most recent one, which they didn't commit and there was not enough proofs for the previous one. That's why they weren't tried and so on. That's how I understood it.

Jill: LOL, I forgot about him getting shot. See... dumb!

That is a good point about the Aunts though. I didn't really think about it like that. They were only prosecuted for the last robbery and it wasn't them, so they got off scott free.

Nath: To me, what’s more interesting is that although the aunts are not prosecuted, some people around them know. I wonder what the bank clerk in the beginning feels... cos she was like: now, I'm afraid and scared... and she was also humiliated by the whole incident. So would she forgive the aunts?

Jill: Oh, there's another thing, the very end of the book when Gabriel mentions that he is also a brother. WTF!! That was it, absolutely no mention of anything else - just one tiny little sentence. What a way to leave the reader hanging.

Nath: Well she did drop a clue here and there. It was stated in the book that Mac thought Gabriel was a lot like him – personality-wise.

What I don’t like is that there’s no information for the future of this series on the author’s website. No idea whose book is next and when it’s coming out.

Jill: I noticed with her up coming releases that she does not give much information far in advance. Just a few weeks ago, she announced the dates for her two paranormal books to be released in the summer. I imagine that Gabriel's story is next. We will have to keep checking back for news. I wonder if she has a newsletter I can sign up for.

Nath: Well she does have a “members” only section on her website. Maybe that’s where people are supposed to get their information?

This was a B read for me as it was good enough to hold my attention and entertain me.

Jill: I guess I would give it a B- if I was to give it a rating. Overall it was a fast, entertaining read, but it fell flat in certain areas.

Poll series no.3 Announcement

Hello everyone :D

As you can see in the sidebar, new polls are up since yesterday. This time, the polls are about the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong :D

I'm sorry if the polls look a bit weird, especially when you view the results. I just realized that with the blogger layout, you could only put 5 choices... ^_^; So I had to find an alternate way to put up polls with more choices. The answer? Polldaddy. I have to say, I really like that site. It's easy and free :D

I know that many of you haven't read the whole series, but feel free to vote nonetheless :) You can just leave me a comment here, letting me know that you haven't read all the books. Also, we you now have the option of adding your own answer in certain polls :P (That is so cool in my opinion).

Again, if you have a moment to justify your votes, please leave a comment :P It'll be more fun for the follow-up post!

Oh, and I almost forgot! Polls are closing next Wednesday (April 2nd) at 11.59AM

Ps - woah, ppl, you've been voting so fast! :P

Review: Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong

Today, I’m reviewing the newest book in one of my favorite series, the Women of the Otherworld, by Kelley Armstrong. Joining me is Li from Book Daze. I have to say, I’m getting really good at recruiting partners for buddy reviews :P Of course, if you’d like to volunteer yourself, don’t be shy and let me know :)

Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong
published by Random House/Bantam Spectra in March 2008 (Hardcover)

Half-demon tabloid reporter Hope Adams has a secret. Like full demons, she loves chaos. She thrives on it. She needs it.

Most of the time, Hope feeds the hunger by helping the interracial council. But it's never enough. So when Benicio Cortez offers her a job infiltrating a gang of young supernaturals, she thinks she's found the perfect solution. Instead, she finds a tinderbox of greed, desire and ambition. And when it ignites, a world is going to explode.

Genre: fantasy/paranormal, horror
Series: Women of the Otherworld, book #8

The Story: Hope Adams is a half-demon that thrives on chaos and was introduced in Chaotic, a novella part of the anthology Dates from Hell. In Chaotic, she and Karl Marsten indebted themselves to Benicio Cortez.

Two years later, Benicio calls in the payment and asks Hope to infiltrate a street gang that is causing some havoc in Miami, the Cabal Cortez’s headquarters. However, nothing is as it seems… and soon, Lucas Cortez and his wife Paige are called in to help figure out the case. Everything then escalated when 2 of Lucas’ brothers are found dead and an attempt is made on Benicio.

Li: So what did you think of Personal Demon? I'll be honest, it didn't live up to my expectations - then again, I had pretty high expectations after No Humans Involved...

Nath: Honesty is what we want here at Breezing Through. Therefore, I’ll be honest too… Ever since I found out that Hope was going to be the narrator for this installment, all that interested me was how Hope and Karl were going to get together… and so, that’s what I focused on. As for the rest of the story, it didn’t catch my attention and I skimmed through most of it. You’re right though, it didn’t compare to No Humans Involved… but then, all series have ups and down.

Li: I couldn't remember much about Hope and Karl, to be honest. I did read the short story in which they both appeared, but had no preconceptions about their relationship - or who Hope would end up with!

Nath: You forget that both Hope and Karl have appeared in No Humans Involved. That’s why I was looking forward so much for their relationship. On the other hand, I wasn’t thrilled that Hope was the narrator because, let’s face it, shedoesn’t have much “power.” She’s attracted to chaos and she has some kind of empathic abilities towards violence, but that’s pretty much it. If you compared Hope’s ability to Jaime’s, who finds hers boring, than Hope is even more boring ^_^; I also thought that it limited the action in this book.

In addition, Hope and Karl are acquaintances of Lucas and Paige, but not good friends. So again, it takes off the fun in their interactions. You won’t find any teasing or funny banters between the 2 couples… Instead, there’s more doubts and mistrust, which really annoys me.

Also, why was Lucas chosen as the narrator? I understand that it involves his family... but last time I looked, Lucas wasn't a woman :P LOL

Li: I liked Hope as a narrator... but wasn't sold on having Lucas as one. And this is coming from someone who really likes Lucas. I somehow think it would have worked better if we had Karl's perspective instead of Lucas - that would have been good. Hmmm... but then it would have made the storyline about the inner workings of the Cabal really difficult. Because Karl isn't part of the Cabal. And the same goes for Paige - so I think that's why Lucas was chosen.

Nath: I agree. Perhaps it would have been better to have Karl.

Li: I thought it was a good thing when Kelley Armstrong announced the change in narrator. I thought it would keep the series fresh by giving it a new perspective (note that I didn't mind when Ms Armstrong switched from Elena to Paige either - I know there were some grumbles but I liked Paige!).

I read somewhere that there wouldn't be much focus on the existing characters, so I was actually prepared for a brand-new Otherworld book - and was surprised that there was so much Lucas and Paige :-)

Also, the set-up felt a bit too complicated to me as well. Too much explanation and backstory in the beginning, I thought. I was reading the first few chapters and was getting confused - not sure if it was just me? Maybe it ties in with what you said about her world being rather complex and her having to explain how the Cabal / Council / etc all works.

Nath: Although Hope was a "new" narrator, she and Karl have both appeared in the novella and No Humans Involved. So they are not "new" characters and you can't expect the series to take a new direction. I'm actually not sure if I want the series to take a new direction...

As for being confused, I think you’re not the only one. Ms Armstrong world-building is very complex and there are a lot of supernatural beings who don’t all interact with each other. So every time, we re-visited what was told to us in previous books and we’re introduced new stuff. I guess what I mean is that it’s hard for Ms Armstrong to make her world all cohesive and give all the information to the readers in one shot and that’s why there’s so much confusion. It’s unfortunate about the confusion though because I really enjoy her world and I wouldn’t want it to be different.

Li: What did you think of the solution to the mystery? Because I really didn't like it. I thought it was a disappointing ending because it felt as though it came out of nowhere. I mean, you would only have perhaps guessed it if you had read the previous book in the series (and I can't remember which one it is now), and for new readers, it would probably be a huh? Which is a shame, because IMO, this was a new narrator and so potentially a book that someone new to the series could start with.

Nath: I don’t agree with you. We can't forget that this is a series with recurring characters that play more or less big roles in each books. All the books have been connected to each other so far, no matter how subtly (and personally, I like it that way) and they build up on each other. I don’t think that any were meant to be stand-alone book. I know some series do where books stand-alone, like the FBI SCU series by Kay Hooper and Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder or the War Chronicles trilogy by Elizabeth Vaughan (for Snyder and Vaughan, their next trilogy will be set in the same world, but with different/new main characters)… but not the Women of the Otherworld. It’s just how the books were written and so, I don’t think that even with a new narrator, what you were hoping will happen… unless the author wants the series to take a whole new direction. Of course, I could be wrong.

As for the plot, I thought it was a bit weak and the premises, not very interesting ^_^; I skimmed through it and what I read didn’t make me go back and read what happened. I remember reading somewhere that Ms Armstrong thought that she needed a second narrator in addition to Hope because she didn’t think that Hope could support a whole novel. If that was the case, then I’d rather she chose someone who could… because the end result is that I felt that Personal Demon was too divided. There was too much distinction between Hope and Karl’s relationship storyline and the plot involving the Cabals, which means that the transition and flow of this book was only so-so. As a result, I enjoyed Hope and Karl’s relationship and it’s resolution, but not so the Cabal plot.

In the end, what's good about the Cabal storyline is that it's really shaking things up for the future... for all the Cabal organization and Lucas and for sure, there’ll be repercussion on the supernatural council. Lucas is seriously going to have to watch his back now… All this could be a really interesting lead-up for Savannah’s book, if she ever gets to be a narrator.

Li: What you say about the events in this book shaking things up for the future - totally agree. It makes life a lot more interesting for Lucas and Paige.

The other thing - and I can't remember if you've read Exit Strategy - but this felt a bit like that book in terms of err... chillingness. Is that a word? There were a lot of murders in this one. Definitely scarier than No Humans Involved - wouldn't recommend it as a bedtime book!

Nath: As for the chilling factor, well the series has always been a "violent" with a lot of deaths. I guess they've just become a bit more. By the way, this series is shelved under Horror in my bookstore, so I was prepared, LOL :)

So what grade would you give it? I think I'm giving it a B for Hope and Karl, B- overall.

Li: B- for me too, mainly because I thought the plot was too complicated and the ending came out of nowhere for me – a bit of a disappointment after No Humans Involved!

Nath: You know what? I kind of wonder if this book was a bit weak because she was busy writing her new YA trilogy - Darkest Powers - coming out this summer. Well, I guess it doesn't matter much since I’m really looking forward for it - a young necromancer coming into powers, and the next installment of Women of the Otherworld - Living with the Dead which comes out in November 2008. If we're lucky, Living with the Dead will offer us freshness and definitively the new perspective you were looking for in Personal Demon, as this time, the narrator is going to be a human... I can't wait to see how Robyn Peltier is going to handle being projected into the otherworld :P

Li: Yes, agree – despite not enjoying this one as much as I hoped I would, I’m still looking forward to her next!

Nath: For more information, here is the author's website. Also, take a look at the sidebar, as the polls series no.3 is all about this series, the Women of the Otherworld!

Thursday, March 20

Review: Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Finally, a review! Again, I'm sorry it’s been so quiet for the past few weeks. However, we’re back! For our return, I have Jennie from Jennie's B[ook]log who has agreed to buddy review with me one of the most anticipated book of 2008… Tada: Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder!!

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
published by Mira/HQN in March 2008 (Tradesize paperback)

Yelena's new role as Soulfinder has made the Sitian Council uneasy. Worried that her new powers will corrupt her, the Council debates her fate. Yelena, though is trying to keep Sitia and Ixia from going to war. In the middle of political wrangling, Yelena receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by Ferde, the Soulstealer who murdered eleven girls and has escaped from prison with Cahil Ixia’s help. Cahil believes if he joins with the new Daviian Clan, he will have enough support to regain the Ixian throne. Testing the limit of her skills, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop Ferde and the Daviian Clan from siphoning enough power to unleash a Fire Warper on the world. That would be worst than war between the northern and southern lands. Especially since, of all the powers Yelena possesses, she couldn't set fire to a candle wick if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.

Genre: fantasy
Series: Study trilogy, Book #3

Nath: So now, onto the review. What did you think of the book, Jennie?

Jennie: I really enjoyed Fire Study, though I was a little disappointed compared to how much I loved the first two in the series.

Nath: I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one feeling that way. I think that Fire Study was a good book, but it did fall short a bit compared to Poison Study and Magic Study. However, I think that being disappointed was a bit inevitable. I mean, we had more than a year and a half to build up the hype and anticipation for this book.

Jennie: Fire Study picks up right where Magic Study ends, and Snyder does not spend much time reminding us what has happened previously. And since I read Magic Study when it first came out (17 long months ago), I spent at least the first half of Fire Study feeling a bit lost as I tried to remember everything that was going on. I definitely recommend this series to be read all together, in order.

Nath: Personally, I don’t have a problem with that particular aspect. I mean, after all, it’s no fault of Ms Snyder if the publishing of her book was pushed back. I think that Ms Snyder put back enough background from the previous books. Too much and she wouldn’t have time to expand on the story.

Jennie: I guess that's true—I think my problem was that I couldn't remember what her being a Soulfinder was all about, which is pretty integral to the plot. By the time I was really into the book, though, I liked it for the same reasons I liked the first two: the great action and thoughtful world-building.

Nath: I agree. I have to say that the action and the world-building are really Ms Snyder forte.

Jennie: Yelena is really strong, but not invincible -- she spends a lot of time in FS doubting herself and her abilities, wondering if she too could be seduced by power and be tempted into using her magic for selfish reasons. We learn what Yelena's powers as a Soulfinder are, and why some dead people go to the shadow world, the fire, or the sky. Sort of like Heaven and Hell, but a little more interesting. I liked it.

Nath: See, that’s what annoyed me a little. Yelena doubting herself and in turn, pushing Valek away. I mean, didn’t we go through this (the doubting and fear of her magic) in Magic Study? I mean, sure, the lure is bigger and stronger in this book, as Yelena understands her powers better… but after all, if she was going to be tempted by magic, it would already have happened in my opinion. I thought all her confusion about her magic took too much of the book.

Jennie: See, I can't remember Magic Study so well (maybe I should have reread it before this one!), so maybe the doubting herself did happen there too.

***SPOILER**** highlight to read I will say that Yelena's intention to martyr herself at the end drove me nuts—because you know she's going to be able to find a way out of the problem but she refuses to hope for it.

My other complaint is that Moon Man annoyed the hell out of me. He annoys Yelena too (he is her very mystical Story Weaver, whose job it is to guide her magical journey, though he will only give her advice in riddles), but I sort of cringed every time he came on the scene. I understand the importance of Yelena discovering her magical abilities on her own, but I didn't really see the point of him as a character. Besides to annoy me.

Nath: LOL, he didn’t annoy me as much. True, he’s playing a much bigger role in the book and I was surprised at how much presence he was given. I thought he was a good anchor till Yelena and him got into an argument and there was this sort of distance between them. That’s what bothered me… the conflict. So much is happening in this book already, you don’t need more conflict between the characters… but I think that he was kind of necessary. Without him, Yelena would have probably died a couple of times ^_^;

Let me add a few more complaints. Valek. Nope, I wasn’t annoyed with him. I simply wished there’ve been more of him. He does appear quite late in the book, but I have to admit that the author handled his presence quite well… Like, she didn’t overdo it with his character, but I still wished we’d had more of him. He was great and I just love him to pieces… and strangely enough, he does provide some comedic relief. LOL, like that scene where he appears at the inn… too funny. Another thing is his immunity to magic… is it magic itself?

Jennie: Agree, could have had more Valek. Love Valek. :D And Yelena does hypothesize at the very end of the book about why Valek is immune to magic. I don't have the book with me, or I'd look it up. But I think it's the last conversation they have in the book.

Nath: Yes, the author does allude to it. However, I’d like a straight answer instead of hypothesis :P Another complaint… Not enough of Janco and Ari. They were definitively under-used in this book. Also, I thought that Ms Snyder was setting up for some interesting pairing: Janco & Irys, Ari & Marreen or the Zitora Cowan, the 4th Magician. However, not a mention in this 3rd book. Of course, they were quite busy, but still.

Finally, last complaint… the ending was left a bit too open for me. We have Yelena and Valek’s conclusion, but what about everyone else? I guess Ms Snyder will tie it all up for us in her next book. At least, I hope.

Now, onto what I liked about this book besides the world-building and action. Leif and Yelena’s relationship. Weren’t they sweet, LOL? Their relation has grown so much since the last book, I was glad… like real brother and sister. I really enjoyed seeing them together.

Jennie: They do act just like a real brother and sister! Loving and fighting at the same time. :)

Nath: Also, the plot. I think the plot was very good in this one, excellent and well-thought. I mean, I never saw it coming and I don’t know if many did. As for the villain, I can’t believe how disillusioned s/he was. I mean, did s/he really think s/he was different? That her/his purposes were righteous. Please. Anyway, I think it was a strong plot and it did give a nice final touch to the trilogy.

Jennie: Yes, I really liked the way the story finished up. Very exciting. I was surprised by the villain too. Though afterwards I realized that it made perfect sense.

Do you think there are going to be more Yelena books? There were a couple of hanging plotlines at the end that seemed to leave things open for further sequels. Okay, I've just been to Snyder's website and she has announced a book about Opal, the glassmaker introduced in this book. I'm glad -- I like the world, but I think I'm ready for a new narrator.

Here's the link for the info on the next book:

Nath: You were too quick for me. So it’s official? Next narrator will be Opal? I did think it was going to be her, given the clues… Character introduced in Magic Study and the title, Storm Glass. I hope that we’ll see a bit of Yelena and Valek in the next book, just to tie up everything. I’m happy that Ms Snyder is continuing this series. I mean, it’d be a waste to discard this great world… also, I think she left too much openings… such as Cahil. However, I’m not sure how I feel with Opal… Hopefully, when the book will take place, she’ll be a couple of years older. I just went to the link you gave and Ms Snyder has an excerpt up :) Opal is indeed older and I'm sold for this book. Can't wait to read it.

Jennie: There's sure to be more story on Cahil. Also lots of possibilities with the Commander that could be really interesting.

Nath: I don’t want Cahil ^_^;

Jennie: I think Fire Study gets a 7 from me. Good read. :)

Nath: Hmmm, I’m torn. I’m giving it a B+, although disappointing compared to the first two books, Fire Study is still very good.

Wednesday, March 19

Follow-up: Polls series no. 2

All right!! We're back... well at least I am LOL :) So sorry for the long delay! I wish I could promise it won't happen again, but I can't. But finally, here I am with the follow-up post.

The results have been up and you've been able to see it on the sidebar, so I'll skip the graphs :P

Originally, this post about the Hero and his physical attributes was going to be a rant. The whole idea started from the Dark-Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this series very much... at least, in the beginning. However, one thing annoyed the hell out of me and it was that all of her heroes were very similar in looks... almost as if they call came from the same mold. Sure the eyes and hair color changed, but they were all very tall (more than 6 feet) with long hair (sometimes too long *shudder*) and had Artemis' tattoo. I can't remember if they had chest hair or not, but all I know is that after a number of books, it just becomes annoying and tedious. Also, it seems to me that there's been a trend in romance novels about long hair and height... I don't know if it's because there's a lot more of paranormal books and so the heroes have to appear alpha and all, but there's been a lot of heroes with height of >6 feet. So I've started wondering if these characteristics were the authors' ideals or they were actually trying to please their readers... problem is those are not my preferences... and so I started wondering if others share my preferences or it was only me. So that's why I made this poll. Thank you to everyone who has voted!

So here are the results...

Hair: 24 votes total

Long - 3 votes = 12%
Short - 10 votes = 41%
Either way - 11 votes = 45%

So it seems that for most readers, either way - short or long - is fine with them... and to an extent, it is with me too because time period does play a role in the length of the hair. For example, Ames likes her contemporary heroes to have short hair and long in historicals so they can have queues. For others, like Chantal, it's about feel and look. She likes long hair because she can run her hands through it and short hair, because it looks good... and that's the thing. To me, I think that short hair makes a man look more clean-cut and better. I have to agree with Bridget who said that most men cannot pull the look with long hair. Especially if their hair is past shoulder-length. Most don't seem to take care of their long hair and it just looks dirty and careless. LOL, not everyone with long hair has a stylist like Hugh Jackman in the picture above... and I'll venture that many think like me since those who chose preferred short hair over long hair.

Chest: 25 votes total

Chest hair - 8 votes = 32%
Smooth chest - 17 votes = 68%

Wow, I think this is the poll which outcome has surprised me most. I've already mentionned somewhere that I preferred smooth chest and I thought that it was my "Asian" side. Asian men are less hairy - actually, my dad has no chest hair at all and only 1 on his legs ( how unfair is that?)... and so for me, chest hair is just eek ^_^; So I thought it was a culture thing... now I know better. I've always found it strange how the male models on book covers have smooth chests, but the heroes are always described with chest hair... Do authors put chest hair because it's more close to reality, since most heroes are caucassian, while the book covers catter to our preference?

Also, I have to ask... LOL, Ames chose smooth chest, because she said that guys with hairy chests usually have hairy bums... is it true? LOL :P Also, does it bother you to think that a man has to shave or wax in order to get his smooth chest?

Facial Hair... : 25 votes total

... is sexy - 6 votes = 24%
... is a no-no - 19 votes = 76%

This result didn't come as a surprise. I think it has to do with the current trend and era. In the 21th century, we go for things with clean lines, modern and edgy and same goes for men and heroes too. I say a century or two ago, it was probably the opposite :) However, we all seem to find the stubble/5 o'clock shadow sexy :P Probably because it adds an air of nonchalence? Goatees also seem to be an exception and I think it's because there isn't that much facial hair involved LOL :P

Height: 24 votes total

>6 feet 5 - 1 vote = 4%
Between 6 feet and 6 feet 5 - 14 votes = 58%
At least taller than me - 9 votes = 37%

I think this was the trickiest of the poll, because it depends on our own height. I'm only 5'2"... therefore, I find >6'5" way too tall for me and really dislike it. On the other hand, someone over 6'5" is probably perfect for Bridget who is 6'1". My main issue is that lately, heroes in romance novels just seem taller and taller. Seriously, how many men do you encounter that are over 6 feet? Not that many... so it's even rarer to meet men over 6'5"... I don't know if it's because there are a lot of paranormals out there and so, authors can explain their tall physics easily. However, for me, it's just too much. Especially when the heroines are short... Best example would be Danger and Alexion in Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Danger is tiny and Alexion is well over 6 feet. It's just odd... I'm not saying that I don't like men over 6 feet or that I wouldn't fall in love because of their height. However, I prefer them just a couple of inch taller than me :P Chantal thinks that the ideal height should be the top of herhead reaching his shoulders. To me, as long as I don't get my neck stiff just looking up into his eyes, I'm fine LOL :P

Enhancement: 24 votes total

Scar - 7 votes = 29%
Tattoo - 7 votes = 29%
Piercing - 1 vote = 4%
All of the above - 6 votes = 25%
None of the above - 3 votes = 12%

Pretty self-explanatory right? Scars and tattoos are hot LOL :P I like scars... especially if they're small and in the face. I guess it adds characters and a certain toughness. Tattoos are pretty, and I agree with Bridget once again, as long as the hero is not totally covered with them. I think that no one really appreciates piercings because it's a bit juvenile no? and I'm not talking about ear piercings or somewhere naughty.

So what are your thoughts? Are you surprised at any of the results?

Saturday, March 8

We'll be back on schedule soon...

Hello everyone!

Just a quick post to let you know what's happening. Chantal has been extremely busy lately and does not have time to blog. Ames and I are both on a trip in the States. This is the first time since last Wednesday that I had access to a computer with internet.

I wanted to write a post before leaving, but I ended up leaving in a hurry, so my apologies. Everything will go back to normal on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the meantime, if you have ideas for polls, please let me know. If anyone has read Thigh High by Christina Dodds and would be interested to buddy review it with me, let me know too :)

See you all very soon :)

Tuesday, March 4

Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop

Today’s review is a buddy review with Kris from the Reading Spot :) So I’d like to thank her very much for accepting to buddy review Tangled Webs with me.

Thanks Kris :)

Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop
published by Roc in March 2008 (Hardcover)

The invitation was signed Jaenelle Angelline, she who had been both Witch and Queen.

It summons her family to an entertainment she has specially prepared. Surreal SaDiablo, the former courtesan and assassin, is the first to arrive. But as she and her escort enter the house, the door disappears. Surreal finds herself trapped in a nightmare created by the tangled webs of Black Widow witches...a nightmare where the monsters are all too real, and if she uses Craft to defend herself, she risks being sealed in the house forever.But Jaenelle did not send the invitation.Now, Jaenelle and her family must rescue Surreal and the others inside without becoming trapped themselves—and they also must discover who created such an evil place, and why. Because there is one thing they all know about this house: no matter who planned it as a way to kill members of the SaDiablo family, only one of the Blood could have created the trap…
Genre: fantasy
Series: The Realm of the Blood series

Nath: First off, I think that the back blurb is a bit too mysterious and misleading… When I first read the synopsis, I thought this book was going to feature Surreal as the main character, but it doesn’t. The main storyline is about Jarvis Jenkell, an author, who thought he was a landen (a human without magic), but discovers that he is actually Blood. Because “the power flows in his veins,” Jarvis starts having disillusions of grandeur and thinks that the Blood should consider him as their peer, although he doesn’t have actual magic. So he writes his own story in a new series of books where the hero discovers that he is Blood. The problem is that Jarvis doesn’t know much about the Blood, all his knowledge being second-hand and stuff that he has heard… and so, the Blood are now laughing at the antics in the books instead of enjoying the storyline or recognizing that Jarvis is modeling the hero after himself.

Vexed that the SaDiablo family has ignored him and that the Blood are laughing at him, he creates a spooky house with the help of three Black Widows and intend to trap Daemon, Surreal and Lucivar in it. However, only Surreal and her escort, Rainier, along with some kids, fall in the trap…

So now, what did we think of it?

Kris: I liked it. Not as much as the trilogy, but it was a nice story.

Nath: I agree with you, Kris. I enjoyed it and thout it was fun to catch up with the characters and all. However, I think that Dreams of Flesh was closure enough for the series/trilogy… and so Tangled Webs is a bit superfluous, especially since it doesn't add much to the series.

Kris: I agree with everything you said the story to me was almost like a really long novella. Most stories in anthologies are stories that are nice to visit but do not usually add anything to the series (i.e. In Death novellas). This felt like one of those. It was nice to visit but nothing extra was really revealed to add to the storyline. I was not as interested with what was going on inside the spooky house as outside the spooky house. I did have quite a few giggles watching the relationships between the characters and control for dominance.

Nath: Same with me. What I liked most about this book was seeing the characters again. I think that Ms Bishop handled that part very well. I had many laugh-out-loud moments and it was just fun :) However, the whole other plotline, i.e. Surreal and Rainier trapped in the spooky house and Daemon having to deal with the villain, that part was just meh.

One fact that I didn’t find realistic though was Lucivar forgetting that he’d be “summoned” by Jaenelle. Sure it was necessary to keep him outside of the house; however, to have him just forget it? Especially since his wife contributed so much to Jaenelle’s spooky house, I thought that it wasn’t in character with him. Also, the whole conflict between Lucivar, Daemon and Saetan where Lucivar feels he’s excluded because he doesn’t enjoy reading and he’s worried that the same will happen to his son in the future, I thought it was a bit forced. As if the author didn’t know what to write to make the book a bit longer, a bit fuller and so she thought up of the conflict.

I also found the whole dominance a bit overdone and overboard.

Kris: I liked the dominance, the ultimate Alpha male. But I think I like it because it is a fantasy and another world. On this world if a man behaved like that I would have issues. I like Alphas but there is a point with me where it is just too much.
I did love the scene with Lucivar and Marian when she became so dominant. And when he was talking with Saetan and asked him how this woman who had a lower jewel than him could make him cringe.

That whole reading thing was kind of out of the blue, but I was okay with it. I could see how it could feel forced.

Nath: So what is your final about this book? I’m giving it a B. Although I found the book superfluous, I really enjoyed revisiting the characters.

Kris: We are pretty much in total agreement about this as well as the grade, I would give it a B as well. It was well written, but like you said superfluous.

Nath: By the way, for those who are interested and are fans of this series, the author plans to write another book in the Realm of the Blood and this time, with new characters we’ve never seen. I have to say, I’m happy that her next book is going to contain new characters, because I don’t think that any future books using the present cast of characters can compare in intensity and storyline with the trilogy. All the characters have settled down, gone on with their lives and Daemon and Jaenelle got their HEA ending. However, I wonder if she should even continue with the Realm of the Blood. After all, the Black Jewels trilogy was intended to be a trilogy. The whole battle is over… I personally don’t want to see all of Jaenelle and Daemon work being destroyed in the future just so a new set of heroes can come and save the day… So perhaps the only option remaining would be to set the book in another kingdom?

PS - I know, I own you guys the Follow-Up Post about the polls. It's coming.