Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bring it, 2012!

Here we are at the end of the year, and I'm glad to note that I've actually achieved one of my goals this year. I signed up for a 100-book challenge and I actually even surpassed it! Yay!

This is also the year in which I started reading romance novels. Everything was new to me, it was fabulous! I can't believe how many brilliant and breathtaking stories I've fallen in love with, not to mention the heroes and heroines that are so beloved and dear to my heart. I have so many favorites, I cannot even begin to choose but I'll be back with my top moments/characters soon.

This year, I got a bit braver and actually managed to share a review on a very well-known website (Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean), which inspired me to write more. One of my goals actually this year is to be able to write more reviews. I find my shelves on Goodreads to be helpful, but I do want to actually sit down and describe how each book has made me feel.

Carrie and I also got to meet Tessa Dare, along with Sylvia Day, Zoe Archer, and Suzanne Forster, during a book signing. It's in my top three of my most magical moments for 2011, to be sure.  Everyone was so amazing and welcoming, and as I sat there listening to these ladies speak, I just tried to absorb the whole experience. Wish I'd have found my voice early on, but alas, I was too starstruck, hahaha. What can I say? I'm a Tessa Dare fangirl for always. ;)

The wonderful and brilliant Tessa Dare.

C and I learned a lot of the behind-the-scenes and  work that goes on beyond the writings.

I'm so glad I discovered the world of romance and that I was able to share my obsessionenthusiasm for the books. Here I am now with so many friends to share the love with. <3 Hopefully I can continue reading these amazing and heartfelt romance stories, but I would also love to pick up books from other genres. I want to go back to reading fiction, young adult, and some of my non-fiction books as well. Oh, and I vow to at least finish one epic series (like GoT!)  :D

I hope 2012 will bring more joy and more fulfillment! Cheers, everyone! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Fun: Tessa Dare Goodness

ONCE UPON A WINTER'S NIGHT comes out tomorrow. Check your e-book devices though, because I already got mine on my Nook Color tonight. :D So excited to read about Violet's story. Go download the story now! This Spindle Cove novella is on sale for $0.99 for a limited time.

Some wallflowers bloom at night...

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her
voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating
down her door.
Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes
into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good
looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and
speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.
Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.
She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a
smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure,
passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

In other Tessa Dare news, the cover for Minerva (oooh, look who got the name right this time! LOL) and Colin's book, A WEEK TO BE WICKED, is up on her website and on Goodreads. This book won't be released till March 2012, but if you're like me, you've probably read the teaser a million times and literally can't wait to read about their adventure. This is gonna be goooood. :D

Ugh. Just. Look at that cover. LOOK AT THAT HOT AND SEXY COVER! Whew. Excuse me for a moment while I fan myself. Can't wait. Cannot wait for this book to come out already!! :D

Of course, I'm missing the spectacles (just like I was missing Susanna's gloves in the ANTS cover) but what can you do?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Ramblings and Lists; Must have lists!

I know the blog looks a bit ... well, empty, but we promise we've been reading. And we will be posting more musings and reviews. Personally, it's been hard for me to review books lately because either I'd read a spectacular read and I'll be left speechless in my corner, looking goofy and making the Good Book Noise (as I've heard Sarah Wendell call it). Sometimes, I'd start off with the first book in the series and I just find myself wanting to finish an entire series before I'm able to sit down to formulate coherent thoughts because the series just blew me away. Really, these authors make it so damn hard to move on without first having to devour the series they've created. (Thank God for that!)  Then, when I'm not reading, I'm spending an inordinate amount of time just picking the next read.

IT'S HARD, OKAY? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who goes through this. What do you do? As a reader, after reading a very strong, very emotionally satisfying read, where do you go? Which book do you pick up next? I've been paralyzed more times than I can count. :P For me, I've done different things. Sometimes when I find a trope or theme that I like, I end up seeking books with similar tropes or themes. Other times, I go completely the other route. If I read a historical, then I'd pick a contemporary next. If my last read was full of angst and tears, I'd deliberately seek out something light and fun. It always vary what I do though. 

Which brings me to this. I know I'm not able to sit down and review each of the books I've been reading, no matter how much I want to. (It takes me hours to create one review; I'm such a newbie when it comes to reviewing and I'm still figuring out how to create one. Just bear with me.) The least I can do is type up my monthly reads and the grades I've given (1-5 star rating). I'll start with September since that's when we started the blog. :)

Some favorite reads from these two months:

  1.  A Night To Surrender (Bram and Susanna. Oh, my heart. I can spend days gushing about this book and the characters that inhabit the story. My heart is just so full of love whenever I revisit Spindle Cove. With Tessa Dare's exceptional writing, this wonderfully complex and oh-so-lovable cast of characters come alive. This story is funny, as in laugh-out-loud funny (from the very beginning, I was already chuckling to myself.) and it is such a delightful read. This story is very emotionally satisfying, and while the tone is light, it's got such depth and resonance. It's just really inevitable for me to fall in love with Bram and to root for Susanna all the way (battle of the sexes this is, but I couldn't help but agree with both characters, what with their fierce determination to protect what is important to them, and their ultimate motivation to care for those they've come to love and deem as family. It was a treat to watch them radiant with joy when they were proven right and to see them not lose the boldness and courage they had when they were proven wrong. And even now as I think about it, it wasn't really all about who was right or wrong, but more about the sensible choices they were required to make and the consequences they had to face after having made their decisions. Yes, it is Bram and Susanna's story (so awesome!) but I couldn't help it, I fell in love with the other characters as well, with their mysterious background and personalities. You'll definitely want to uncover more of their stories (Colin and Minerva's won't come out till 2012! Gah.) Spindle Cover is such a warm and inviting place you can't help but want to go back for more. :D 
  2. Guilty Pleasures and And Then He Kissed Me (At first I thought LLG is a new author for me, but when I checked on my GR, turns out I've already read one of hers, but it wasn't the beginning of the series. I checked my library and I've already purchased more of her books so apparently, all that was needed was for me to actually pick her books as my next reads. And let me tell you, it was awesome! Her writing is fabulous, and her stories range from light and fun to angsty and dramatic. I always find myself falling in love AND in love with her characters, both the heroes and the heroines, because of their depth of character and the transformation that happens to the both of them within the story. These two books happen to deal with unrequited romance, with courtship and all the romance that entails. It also features fabulous heroines who are strong, smart and loving, and heroes who realize their worth and shower them with love and affection. I loved her writing so much that I actually read five of the six books of hers I've read within only four days! Hee. So much love for Laura Lee Guhrke.  
  3. Claiming the Courtesan (I've purchased three AC already but Claiming the Courtesan is the first one I've read. This is kind of different from what I'm used to reading. For sure, the story is intense, emotional, and it really makes the reader take a look at the characters as a whole, as real human beings who carry hurt and pride and scars and hope ... people who stumble, make poor choices -- certainly flawed, but definitely not past hope. If only they could learn to overcome their past and open themselves up to love ....
  4. The Marriage Bed and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (The Marriage Bed is by LLG and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage is by JA but it's a tie because these two books deal with a broken marriage, betrayal, second chances and forgiveness. Mac and Isabella have been separated for six years and Viola and John have been separated for nine. Different circumstances led both couples to their unhappy state of marriage. Honestly at times, I couldn't decide on which side I was on, if I agreed with the hero's actions, or the heroine's choices. Again, personally speaking, it pushed my boundaries (with regards to actions and emotions) and it made me see things from a different perspective, clearly redefining my thoughts of what can be acceptable and understandable for me. Not easy reads but definitely worth it.
  5. The Duke, Lord of Fire and Devil Takes a Bride (GF's Knight Miscellany introduced me to wonderful characters that now have a special place in my heart. I've only gotten to number five of the series, and while I did fell in love with these three stories (I like Jas and Billy too), Lord of Ice was a big miss for me. It took me a while to finish Damien's story, and it was a bit disappointing for me to feel that way, since I loved Bel's story and also Lucien's story. I still want to pick up the sixth and seventh because I'm anxious to learn the fates of Jack and Alec.


Nora RobertsInner Harbor
Chesapeake bay Saga #3
4 starsContemporary
Nora RobertsChesapeake Blue
Chesapeake Bay Saga #4
4 starsContemporary
Gaelen FoleyThe Duke
Knight Miscellany #1
5 starsHistorical
Gaelen FoleyLord of Fire
Knight Miscellany #2
5 starsHistorical
Karina BlissHere Comes the Groom
Harlequin Super Romance
4 starsContemporary
Gaelen FoleyLord of Ice
Knight Miscellany #3
3 starsHistorical
Anna CampbellClaiming the Courtesan5 starsHistorical


Eileen DreyerBarely A Lady
Drake's Rakes #1
4 starsHistorical
Kathryn StockettThe Help5 starsFiction
Lynne GrahamThe Marriage Betrayal
Harlequin Presents: The Volakis Vow #1
3 starsContemporary
Eileen DreyerAlways a Temptress
Drake's Rakes #3
4 starsHistorical
Sharon KendrickToo Proud To Be Bought
Harlequin Presents
4 starsContemporary
Tessa DareA Night To Surrender
Spindle Cove #1
5 starsHistorical
Tessa DareLegend of the Werestag
5 starsHistorical
Gaelen FoleyLord of Desire
Knight Miscellany #4
4 starsHistorical
Gaelen FoleyDevil Takes a Bride
Knight Miscellany #5
5 starsHistorical
Jennifer AshleyThe Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Highland Pleasures #1
5 starsHistorical
Jennifer AshleyLady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage
Highland Pleasures #2
5 starsHistorical
Jennifer AshleyThe Many Sins of Lord Cameron
Highland Pleasures #3
4 starsHistorical
Laura Lee GuhrkeGuilty Pleasures
Guilty #1
5 starsHistorical
Mandy KirkbyA Victorian Flower Dictionary4 starsNon-Fiction
Laura Lee GuhrkeHis Every Kiss
Guilty #2
4 starsHistorical
Laura Lee GuhrkeThe Marriage Bed
Guilty #3
5 starsHistorical
Laura Lee GuhrkeAnd Then He Kissed Me
Girl-Bachelors #1
5 starsHistorical
Laura Lee GuhrkeShe's No Princess
Guilty #4
4 starsHistorical

(I see October has been a super good month. Hello, Bram and Harry and Mac! Billy, Devil, Anthony, Justin, Ian, John! Then there's Susanna, Daphne, Emma and Lizzie, Viola, Isabella, and Verity!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

REVIEW: Here Comes The Groom by Karina Bliss


If Jocelyn Swann weren't so furious, she'd probably laugh. Her best friend, Dan Jansen, has launched a campaign worthy of his Special Forces training to arrange their wedding, from music and minister to flowers and food. What part of no does he not understand?

Their marriage "agreement" was a tipsy scrawl on the back of a coaster…three years ago! It's not a question of love. Of course she loves Dan. She's loved him all her life. If only she could get him to slow down a minute and listen—to be the friend she needs right now—she could convince him that marriage would ruin everything.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What we want to see...

The subject of our heroes and the images of them has come up (again) in conversation with my Partner-in-Crime, D. And yes, I know our conversations are very deep and meaningful. That they are. Every single time. Always.

And to expand on that topic, I have a little surprise...

This handsome devil is supposedly Lucien Knight (Lord of Fire). Does the image fit?

As we read and delve into his story and his character comes alive in our minds, is the man depicted in the picture what we imagine?

If you haven't read the book, here's a couple passages on his description:

"Shadows scupted his sharp profile as he watched the crowded ballroom from the dim, high balcony; in the oscillating glow of the draft-buffeted wall candle, he seemed to flicker in and out of materiality like some tall, elegant phantom. Its shifting radiance glimmered over his raven-black hair and caught the Machiavellian glint of cunning in his quicksilver-colored eyes."

"Leaning idly against a bookcase by the window, he was reading a slim, leather-bound volume, the morning sunlight gleaming on his jet-black hair, which was slicked back [...] still damp from his morning ablutions. [...] This morning he was dressed with the casual elegance of a country lord at his leisure. [...] With his head bent over the open book, he did not look up at her arrival. She was momentarily distracted by the way he held the book in his hands, his fingertips subtly caressing the kid-leather binding. He had princely hands; they were large and manly, full of strength, yet ineffably elegant."

Now, looking at the picture, doesn't it seem a bit off? Not what you imagined? Or maybe it's exactly what you imagined. It's all subjective, really. To each their own.

In my opinion, there's something missing. His hair isn't right. His smirk is wrong. His build is just off. And just... I don't know, I pictured a more relaxed man. And maybe someone that has an air of mystery to him. I can hardly imagine the guy in the picture as Lucien Knight.

Or maybe it is because when I looked at the man in the picture, he reminded me of David Boreanez.

Maybe just a little bit? And then I wondered whether David Boreanaz would make a good Lucien Knight. And no, that won't do at all. But then again, Boreanaz played Angel in BtVS and AtS. And that opens a new can of beans! Angel does have some qualities that I can see in Knight and vice versa. Perhaps, maybe so Angel just needs to stop brooding the way he does... Knight does it better. Hahaha! Wow. This is starting to confuse me!

And back to the point, it's like that time when I thought that Sebastian from Devil in Winter had black hair until I looked under that cover flap and...

And he's blonde (not that there is anything wrong with that). But he's Blond! Was there a description of him being blonde? I can't remember ever reading it, or maybe I just overlooked that part and imagined him the way I thought he would look like.

Anyway, I am super happy that when reading Lord of Fire for the first time, I didn't have a cover to deter my imagination from, well, imagining. What I saw in my mind will forever be what Lucien Knight looks like to me.

Thanks to the authors for writing about these dream worthy heroes. It's amazing how words can allow our minds to run wild.

(*Sorry. Crappy cell phone pics are crappy)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Random Question

So .... I'm trying to figure out which of the books I've read already, has a scene in which someone, the main bad guy or one of their hired men, goes after the heroine and threatens her by trying to run her over with a carriage or a horse or something to that effect? I guess to be even more specific, I was thinking of a scene in which the heroine was I think trying to purchase something, and there was a hat involved, or was it books? I thought it was Madeline Hunter or an Anne Mallory?

What I'm Reading Right Now

Ugh. My TBR pile is super high, it's already hundreds and hundreds of books. I've not been able to do a good job of picking which books to read too, and even though I didn't have this problem before, now I'm having trouble sticking to just one book. I used to be a one-book-woman but now, looking at my library, I'm five, six chapters in for about three books. I really need to sort this out. I find that when there's something I really have to do, really want to do, I tell people about my plans. As many people around me, as many people who can keep me in check in case I don't follow through. Hahaha. I guess I'll be doing it here too. I'll be listing which books I'll be targeting to finish in a week, and see if I can stick to it. We'll see. :P



Friday, September 16, 2011

REVIEW: Never a Gentleman by Eileen Dreyer

Miss Grace Fairchild is under no illusions about her charms. Painfully plain, she is a soldier's daughter who has spent her life being useful, not learning the treacherous ways of the ton. She may have been caught in a scandal with society's favorite rogue, but how can she marry him when it means losing herself?
Diccan Hilliard doesn't know which of his enemies drugged him and dumped him in Grace's bed, but he does know the outcome. He and Grace must marry. To his surprise, a wild, heady passion flares between them. Yet Diccan is trapped in a deadly game of intrigue Grace knows nothing about. Will his lies destroy Grace just as he realizes how desperately he needs her? And how can he hope for a future with her, when an old enemy has set his murderous sights on them both?

He hides his true colors while she hides her true self. That statement alone would have gotten me to read this book right away, but as it was, back in April or something, I kept hearing about this book with many readers either abhorring "that scene" and hating the book completely, or admiring the book because of it ... I didn't want to be spoiled so I went ahead and downloaded this and read straightaway. I was so very curious to see what everyone was talking about, and I was really interested to discover also what kind of reaction it would warrant from me. And oh, my. What an experience it was.

ADDENDUM: I shared this book with someone just the other day, and I wanted to share a passage with her so I opened up the book. Somehow it just grew and grew and before we knew it, I was reading the book to her! It was my first time reading a novel out loud, and it was an awesome experience pretending to be my own version of an audiobook, but it was even more awesome to hear her gasps or sighs and other reactions. The best thing that I got from this? It's that I appreciate even more the quality of writing of Ms. Dreyer. Such a treat to read not just how a compelling love story unfolds, but to be drawn irresistibly in a different world and different time because of her stunning depiction of each character and the affecting descriptions of the world they inhibit. I found myself pausing quite a lot, even re-reading lines or whole passages, because I was so amazed at how engaged I was. It's so good to be immersed in each exact detail, to be given so much fascinating insight on Grace and Diccan's life. Soooo much love. Love, love, love!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

REVIEW: Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley


Award-winning author Gaelen Foley has created a pair of enthralling twins for Lord of Fire, a Regency romance that blazes with passion. Lord Lucien Knight gave his honor for his country -- baiting traps with sins of passion and politics in the shadow war against Napoleon. Now that peace has been declared, the master spy turns his talents to vetting possible brides for his twin, testing their worthiness to wed his icily honorable war hero brother, Lord Damien. 
In the course of that duty he learns of Alice Montague. Miss Montague is said to be young, pretty, clever, good with children, and of impeccable character. She sounds perfect for his twin. Why, then, does Lucien lure Alice to his estate, compel her to promise to remain in what she knows to be a fortress of sin, and then begin a skilled campaign of seduction? Can it be that the Lord of Fire himself now burns with the fire of love?

I love the way Gaelen Foley writes. To me, she's one of the best writers out there. I know I'm only on her second book, but regardless. Her words invoke a whole new world and I find myself irrevocably drawn into it. My senses are forever engaged, and I can not only picture the setting, but I feel like I'm engaged in it. The world building is excellent, with history intertwining superbly with personal backgrounds. The plot is tight, the characters are complex and multi-dimensional. I get tickled everytime I meet her characters as they are presented and thrilled to see them challenged as they struggle and grow. Awesome storylines and lovable characters. :D


On to the post!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

REVIEW: The Duke by Gaelen Foley


Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London's most provocative courtesan - the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city's titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk's invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society - until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love...

Because Carrie recommended it to me.  Click here to read her review. :)

REVIEW: Capelli's Captive Virgin by Sarah Morgan

Capelli's Captive Virgin (Harlequin Presents)

Lindsay has turned down ruthless Sicilian Alessio Capelli once before, but he's determined she won't do it again—he will use her and discard her! Circumstance has provided him with the ideal opportunity: Lindsay has been forced to step into her missing sister's shoes and work for him.

This time Alessio will be the one in control. He relishes the thought of having a virgin in his bed, and he'll do everything to keep her captive—until he's ready to dismiss her….

Friday, September 9, 2011

REVIEW: Silk by Alessandro Baricco


The year is 1861. Hervé Joncour is a French merchant of silkworms, who combs the known world for their gemlike eggs. Then circumstances compel him to travel farther, beyond the edge of the known, to a country legendary for the quality of its silk and its hostility to foreigners: Japan.

There Joncour meets a woman. They do not touch; they do not even speak. And he cannot read the note she sends him until he has returned to his own country. But in the moment he does, Joncour is possessed.

REVIEW: A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans

Laura Foster is a hopeless romantic. Her friends know it, her parents know it - even Laura acknowledges she lives either with her head in the clouds or buried in a romance novel. It's proved harmless enough, even if it hasn't delivered her a real-life dashing hero yet. But when her latest relationship ends in a disaster that costs her friendships, her job, and nearly her sanity, Laura swears off men and hopeless romantic fantasies for good.

With her life in tatters around her, Laura agrees to go on vacation with her parents. After a few days of visiting craft shops and touring the stately homes of England, Laura is ready to tear her hair out. And then, while visiting grand Chartley Hall, she crosses paths with Nick, the sexy, rugged estate manager. She finds she shares more than a sense of humor with him - in fact, she starts to think she could fall for him. But is Nick all he seems? Or has Laura got it wrong again? Will she open her heart only to have it broken again?

As a hopeless romantic myself, I could not help but be mesmerized by Ms. Harriet Evans' book covers. In fact, another friend bought her book also because of the pretty. We just had to have it. I eventually managed to tear my eyes from the covers, and with titles and little summaries like these, who can resist what hopes to be a good read, yeah? This is a long post, and spoilers of course, so beware.

REVIEW: Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

Did I finally find myself a favorite? Does he trump all others? Is he a hero of heroes? That'll be a resounding yesyesyes!

Just who is this superawesomemegaepicdelicious hero??? Well, he can be found in the following story...

Author: Gaelen Foley
Genre: Historical/Romance/Action/Drama/Suspense
Standalone|Series: Book#2 of the Knight Miscellany series
Rated: R for sexual content
Summary: Gaelen Foley has created a pair of enthralling twins for Lord of Fire, a Regency romance that blazes with passion. Lord Lucien Knight gave his honor for his country -- baiting traps with sins of passion and politics in the shadow war against Napoleon. Now that peace has been declared, the master spy turns his talents to vetting possible brides for his twin, testing their worthiness to wed his icily honorable war hero brother, Lord Damien. In the course of that duty he learns of Alice Montague. Miss Montague is said to be young, pretty, clever, good with children, and of impeccable character. She sounds perfect for his twin. Why, then, does Lucien lure Alice to his estate, compel her to promise to remain in what she knows to be a fortress of sin, and then begin a skilled campaign of seduction? Can it be that the Lord of Fire himself now burns with the fire of love?
(summary source: goodreads)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

REVIEW: The Duke by Gaelen Foley

Excited to post a review for a book that I feel is a must read.

And that book that MUST be read is...

Title: The Duke
Author: Gaelen Foley
Genre: Historical/Romance/Drama/Suspense
Standalone|Series: Book#1 of the Knight Miscellany series
Rated: R to NC-17 for sexual content
Summary: Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London's most provocative courtesan - the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city's titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk's invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society - until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love...
(summary source: goodreads)


MIXing it up.

Music plays a huge part in my life, as I would imagine it would for many people as well. Music naturally enhances everything it touches ... it lifts us up, inspires us, stirs emotions that we may or may not even want to surface. It goes straight for the heart.

Most of the time when reading my romance novels, a song or two would pop up and I'd connect it to a moment, a character, or the couple. I don't think I've ever felt as driven to create a soundtrack than for Pippin and Dash, Elizabeth Boyle's star-crossed lovers in Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress. Ah, Pippin and Dash. Oh, my heart.

Lady Philippa Knowles and Captain Thomas Dashwell's love story spans years, decades even. They first meet in  This Rake of Mine, the second book in the Bachelor Chronicles, when Pippin was merely a schoolgirl. We only get fragments of their story in each installment, and it's not till we get to the fifth book, their book, that we see how their romance truly developed and how their love for each other has evolved. Kudos to Ms. Boyle's storytelling magic that while reading the other books (which I love very much too!) I very much was anticipating Pippin and Dash's story and was really eager for the next installment. By the time I got to the end of the fourth book, their narrative had left me euphoric and miserable and curious and hopeful and worried and enchanted .... I really, really just wanted to get my hands on the book so I can find out what choices they made and where those life-altering decisions had led them to. ;)

Happy Ending by Mika. That is the one song that kept replaying in my head, from the moment I picked up their book. Don't be fooled by the title and the music. The lyrics. Oh, gosh. My heart is breaking again. I really liked how Pippin and Dash's story is not your typical formulaic romance. I don't want to give too much away and mention specifics, but when you do decide to read this book, I would really recommend that you start from the beginning (read There's Something About Emmaline too! Because it's so much fun!) to get the full effect. It's part of the genius of their plight as a couple. But anyway, Happy Ending is just one of the many songs that came to mind, and certainly, this is not where I would end my mix. I think you'll know what I mean when you read it.

I wonder though, how many readers automatically attach a song(s) to a character they love, a memorable moment, an unforgettable story? Does it easily come to you? Do you like creating fanmixes? :D

(Look, an aside! Hehe. I found out about this series via twitter (ab contest - srsly.). I saw the cover for Lord Langley Is Back In Town and my interest was piqued by this gorgeous cover. Heh. Found out it's the latest (last?) in the series and I only had a few days till the book would come out, so I took it upon myself to start from Book One and finish by the time Lord Langley comes back (and hey, mission accomplished!:D) I'm so glad I did. I got to read about this wonderful group of family and friends, all delightful, smart, and very endearing mischief-makers. Heee.) You guys, go and buy the books and start reading now!

"Yes, Dash?" 
"How did we get here?" 
"Aboard this ship?" she teased. "Nate ordered the sails raised and then --" 
"Very funny," he said, cutting her off. "You know what I mean. Here. To this place." 
"Oh, this place," she said, her face growing solemn. "I've wondered that as well, and all I can think of is that we are like our stars." 
"How so?" 
"You and I are the two outer stars, and the one between us is everything that keeps us apart." 
He set his lips together and gazed out at the waves. "Like this ocean," he offered." 

Monday, September 5, 2011

REVIEW: Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean

Here we go. Posting my first review. I wanted to put this review here as well, even though I've posted it already on my Goodreads account. I even managed to get up the courage to send it to SBTB for their RITA Reader Challenge Review, and fortunately, my review got posted! (I'm still gushing over the fact that Ms. MacLean herself commented on the review, hee!!) :D

Up until a few days ago, I was twenty six years old. Every time I were to answer the age question though, twenty eight would come out. I couldn't figure out why. I didn't want to be older than I really am but maybe it was just the age I felt I was at the moment? Callie though, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, well, she's twenty eight years old -- a spinster, what else? I guess you could place me in that category as well. I think it's me being able to identify with the heroine of this book, it's me being able to empathize with her situation that made this book most especially dear to me. I was there with her all the way, and I'm so glad she got her Happily Ever After with Gabriel. :)


Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried --- and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss --- to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston --- charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all --- the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love ...

Onto the review.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Prelude of things to come.

Hello, hello. I suppose C is right and an introduction is a great way to start this blog, so here I am, sitting in front of the screen, trying to piece together relevant threads from my life to share with all of you.

Nine. I was nine years old when I first came to know the meaning of obsession. Well, I suppose obsession is not really the right word (I know it's overused and misused by many) ... passion. That's what I felt. Someone in class brought in the Sweet Valley Kids books and it somehow got passed down to me. I don't know how it happened (my memory, it's very poor, sadly) but somehow between studying in school and climbing trees and playing with dirt (I have my boy cousins to thank for that; I didn't have any girl friends growing up, not really, not till I was old enough :P) I ended up spending all my free time reading the series. I remember saving what little allowance I have and dragging my parents by the hand so they can take me to the bookstore. I needed my fix. I wanted it all. Reading became my preoccupation. Forget sports, forget everything else ... I just wanted to read.

Devour the written word, I did. I have very poor eyesight because I didn't listen to my parents and I ignored common sense ... I did stupid things like make sure to sit at the back of the school bus so that I could hold up a book and use the light from the car behind us. Couldn't even wait to get home to read, that's how it was. Eventually, I moved on and read Twins! Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine. Anne Rice. I read the classics (thanks to my mother, who made sure I was never without) and fell in love with A Little Princess, Little Women. I tried to read Austen, Eliot, and Hawthorne too (but it didn't register until re-reads when I got older). I grew older still, and though my taste in books changed, my love for it did not.

Hours. Spent hours walking up and down the aisle to pick the perfect read. I'd take book recommendations from people. I'd see something on television I like (we had these dubbed cartoons in the Philippines, and there was nothing to do but fall in love with them) so I would go and find stories like Pollyanna, The Secret Garden, Heidi, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and A Little Princess. This is actually something I do to this day. When I see something I like, I immediately find a book that would correspond to it, anything related to enhance my knowledge or my appreciation.

My parents. They were avid readers too. I would find old books, complete with the yellowed pages and that old book smell ... books that my father would give my mother when he was still courting her. Books with special meanings. Books with messages written especially for her. Books. Books. Books.

I got a Nook Color this January. My bookshelf is overflowing (I buy books. I want to own them. I seldom did borrow a book, I always bought my own.) so my brothers decided that an e-reader is in order. Good timing too. Because as much as I would have loved to devote my time to read, college years were spent reading text books and working. Now that that chapter of my life is over, I thought I could read more, so I signed up for a 100 book challenge. My stars aligned and I was able to follow through.

This is where my romance reading comes in. It pains me to not be able to recall what my first romance novel is, or when I first read it, or where I got it. The simple answer is I don't know. I read my share of young adult romance series then. I probably picked up a Danielle Steel or two before. I was reading a lot of chick lits at one point. Are not most (if not all) of those stories romances too? I never did venture to the actual romance section of a bookstore though. At the time, I had my preconceived notions about romance novels. Because I didn't understand then. I didn't know what it was about, not really.

Thankfully, I was able to discover the romance genre through my nook. There were plenty of titles to choose from. They were cheap (a lot cheaper than other novels!). The covers were pretty. The book descriptions made me smile. In short, everything about it made me happy. What's a girl to do, right?

So I experimented with my reading list. I bought known authors. Harlequin titles. I looked up all the Top 100 romance lists and polls, I searched online for websites that would have great romance recommendations. I reveled in my quest to find the best reads. I told everyone about my latest finds, and before I knew it, romance novels took over my reading life.

Well. That is a very long story, huh? That's something you should know about me too. I, Diana, ramble. Ramble and rant and even worse, my stories (IRL, all right?!) don't make sense most of the time because I usually start from the middle, then go back to the beginning, then jump to the end (I also have a lot of asides, which you can tell already, with the number of parentheses used in this post alone). Coffee lover. Seriously, I live for coffee. I forget a lot. But I also remember the most random and peculiar things. I have a quaint sense of humor. I love sunsets and the moon and stars. Music is love. I'm paranoid (usually has to do with the forgetfulness, so I overcompensate. That, and I'm a girl scout through and through.). I'm pretty patient, and I am very trusting. You screw with me though, and there'll be hell to pay. I'm a dork. I'm loud. I'm quiet. I don't like yellow. I love outdoor activities, nature trips, and I love pushing myself despite (because of?) the fact that I am afraid of so many things, like heights. I'd still do it though, because I love the rush (zip line, white water rafting, paragliding, horseback riding, hiking). I loooove to travel. I'm no good with phones (I'm so sorry; it's not you, it's me). I'm a hopeless romantic, a dreamer, and trying hard to be an optimist. I think I have a chance there. If I could ask God, I'd ask him why our lives can't come with our own soundtrack. Anglophile, right here. I love taking pictures. I enjoy art (oh, hi there, C!). I'm the only girl. My mind is constantly at work (hello, daydreams!) so there is never a quiet time in my head. I am passionate. I am attentive. I love to laugh. I listen. I love Harry Potter (the series. Ron Weasley is my King). I break out in sweats when I know I'm about to break a rule (which is not often, mind). Good girl all around, but with a mischievous side that likes to play every now and then.

I do love my historicals. I find it easier to slip into their world and fall in love with a time gone by (so easy to get nostalgic about the past, no?). I read some contemporary romances too, but I find it difficult sometimes to engage and fall in love, so the stories have to be really special to me. I think I've read a couple paranormal, a few romantic suspense, but I know that I have bought more than a few from different genres because I want to try it all out.

I fall in love easily. Alpha males preferred, though I do love me all kinds of heroes as long as they show me they love me the heroine. Words are charming and romantic and pleasant to hear, but actions are even more commendable. Heroines that are made of win are the ones who never give up, the ones who fight for what they believe, and for their love, and those who never sacrifice who they are for what they want to become.

I guess ... that is it for now. More to come, on this blog. More rants and rambles and reviews.

Cheers! ;)

First for everything...

Been trying to figure out my next post. And then I had an epiphany! I was like, dude, just start from the beginning!

Actually, before I get to the beginning, I should probably introduce myself first. Here goes: My name is Carrie. I have a bagillion nicknames, from Dot to Cupcake (no kidding, but there's only one person, so far, that can call me that!) to Carebear to... Well, you get the picture.

I'm incredibly shy, but only up until the point of meeting a person. I'm verrry easygoing, which is why, I think, I get along with just about everybody. Basically, if you're nice to me, I'll be your bestfriend.

I do have walls though. I hate talking about myself. I guard my heart well. But I also wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm cheesy. I'm laid back. I love wearing sweaters and yoga pants--just give me the weather for it! I contradict myself. I get cold super easily. I like being alone, but I hate feeling lonely (who doesn't?). I love to people watch. I'm told that I'm oblivious, especially by my Partner-In-Crime, D, AKA Diana. D is what I call her in my head. (PERHAPS SHE WILL INTRODUCE HERSELF SOON? *wink wink*) I love secondary colors: purple, green and orange. You can always catch me doodling on scraps of paper. To get away from the horrors of real life, I escape in whatever world books can offer me. Or I make up my own stories and write and write until I forget. I like post-its and highlighters and paperclips and stapling things. My grammar sucks and I'm comma happy. You have been warned!

What else is there? I'm 27, and single (am I a spinster yet?). I have two peek-a-pom dogs, named Chirippa and Pichu. I'll choose chocolate over vanilla. Mangoes and watermelons are the best. And I take my tea with honey.

This is getting tl;dr, isn't it? Anyway, all that stuff doesn't really say anything about me. And you probably aren't interested LOL

So, let's get to the beginning...

Who remembers their first romance novel? I do! I remember just how I obtained it. I remember who I was with when I got it. I remember opening the book and flipping to the first page. I remember feeling both very grown up and like a kid in a candy store all at once. I remember when I finished, and feeling like I had a new friend.

The novel: Zoya, by Danielle Steele. Zoya is a story that was beautifully crafted with detailed history, memorable characters and an epic love story. A classic. So glad that it was my first. Zoya was the perfect novel to introduce me into the world of romance.

I'm not going to post a review, that's not what this post is about XD This post is about beginnings. And, for me, it began in high school, when I went with one of my best friends to the library. And we found the romance section! It was awkward. It was embarrassing. It was awesome. I remember how we stuffed our backpacks full of Silhouettes and Harlequins and whatever else that caught our eye. It was absolutely thrilling. One of my best memories. Ever.

And that was where it all began. :)

As life continued, I found myself drifting away from the romance section and towards the suspense section. And after that, the memoirs section. Then back to the suspense and the thrillers.

And then--And then D pulled me back into the wonderful world of romance with her new found enthusiasm for it. Here. In this romantical world. Now. Everything is beautiful.

It seems now that I'm older (and hopefully a bit more experienced), I feel like reading romance is quite different for me than it was a decade ago. Not that the stories changed. They still generally run under the same formula. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I respect the stories more. I see things under a different light, in a new perspective. I'm applying and relating. I'm learning a great deal about people and how they interact. There's just something about romance novels that are special.

I feel like I've come full circle, but made it into a different circle that's more bright and colorful. I guess to sum it all up, I'm glad to find myself back in the romance section. ;)

♥ c

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do I dare to keep this up?

It's officially Friday. It's 12:07 a.m. to be exact. And I'm in bed, staring at my computer screen and willing myself to put pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keypad to get something down. Something that is not anything. Something relevant. And just... what is relevant? Forgive me, I'm babbling. I tend to do that. And besides, it's been a long day. Where was I? Something about something. Yes.

This, here, is a blog. About books. About books I've read and or wish to read. And sometimes about books that NEED to be read, because, you know, sometimes reading a certain book at a given time becomes a necessity.

Like today, which is now yesterday, but whatever! Today was one of those days when I absolutely had to finish a book that was so good I ached whenever I put it down. I seriously felt like I would simply die if I left it unfinished for another day.

I was sitting in class, listening to a chemistry lecture about solutions, reactions and equations that would determine half-life. And every now and then I would happen to look at my tab, my dear sweet tab, innocently displaying lecture slides. But my tab also held something deliciously tempting, a romance novel (ebook) that I had started reading the previous night. And I was hungry to finish it.

I did finish it. I read it every chance I got when I had downtime. No regrets.

I just had to read those words. Many of the words were not only sweet, but filling. They were words of passion, of heartbreak, of love. They were words that filled me with hope--all things good. And some bad things as well, which only made it more gratifying, and just more of everything, really. This feeling I had of being full of feelings from reading is what I would like to try to express, and to share these stories. Why?

Doesn't everybody need something that just might put a smile on their face, something that might make them feel good, something that they could get lost in and escape into a different world? Because. Just. Because. Why not?

Why not live part of our lives getting to know characters that may or may not be like us? Why not travel to a place we may or may not have seen before? Or why not travel to a time not of our own? Why not fall for heroes and heroines? Why not grieve with them? Why not share in their joy of happiness? Why not?

Am I being relevant yet? Am I even making sense? It's too late. It's early.

It's Friday.

I promised a friend. I promised myself. This blog will be kept. I will keep it up. When we're here, let's share the love in romance novels and the love of romance novels. It'll be fun!

♥ c

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New to blogging. Well, sort of.

I have been doing a lot of reading this year. Always, always enthralled by the new worlds I enter ... truly captivated by new characters I have come to love (even dislike -- I don't know if I've encountered one I actually hate) ... mesmerized by the easy of flow of words and slayed by momentous occasions and actions. I have discovered a new genre for me to love, and I have devoted most of the year in reading romance fiction.

I love it. I love reading romance. It makes me happy. HAPPY. It's the guarantee of a happy ending. I get to the end of the story and I am sitting there, grinning, sometimes shedding a happy tear or two, my heart swelling with so much love it seems impossible that a person is able to contain it all in. It leaves me with the happy feeling that despite everything, there are at least two people who have found each other and you are left with no doubt in your mind that they will survive it, they will be able to bear all, because of the Power of Love. Because of hope. All romances are the same. 

Even greater than my love for the happy endings, it is the journey that the Hero and Heroine must weather to get to that most coveted Happily Ever After that makes it truly all worth it for me. Each person is different, with their most basic needs and their most heartfelt desires ... each person with their own revelations to make and new wonders to discover. To have two souls meet, whether by chance or by choice, and be able to follow circumstances that lead to the ever so changing emotions, feelings of confusion and doubt and apprehensions until clarity sets in and the world changes because of a simple understanding; the dawning of love, because they choose to share the love. All romances are different.

I'm certain I won't make sense half the time. That the words will just come out as jumbled and disorganized as any/all of my ramblings tend to be. Sometimes my words will not be enough. Sometimes I'll even have to borrow someone else's words to convey what I feel.  I know I'm no writer, but I'll try my best to express what is in my heart anyway. And if you've reached this part of the blog, thank you. For sticking.