ISBN-13: 9781477807323
Publication Date: August 2013
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: Trade Paperback, 265 pgs
Source: Personal Library

I love Anne Stuart's books, no matter if they are historical romance, Regencies, paranormal or romantic suspense. I always find myself getting hooked to the worlds she created; and most often the characterizations intrigued me, be it a feisty heroine or a dark, tortured hero. 

Never Kiss a Rake is her latest historical and it is the first book of the Scandal at the House of Russell series. This series feature three Russell sisters and how their life took a turn after the death of their father, who was a shipping magnate. 

Bryony Russell, the eldest daughter in the family, decided to infiltrate the house of his father's business partner in disguise as a housekeeper. After seeing the cryptic note her father had left, she wants to find out if Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn, is innocent or guilty of her father's death. She has every reasons for this investigation, after all Adrian Bruton seems not to be affected from her father's so-called fraud as he continues to live quite an enjoyable life. 

Truth be told, the charming rake isn't at all happy with his marriage life. His beautiful wife knew about his secret past and she uses this to trap him in a hate-filled marriage. To spite his wife, he hires Bryony as their new housekeeper for his wife despises anything that is ugly. She couldn't stand the sight of Bryony as Bryony bears some smallpox scars on a side of her face. 

Bryony, on the other end, doesn't care what anyone thinks of her other than finding the truth. And once she has gathers the evidence she'd move on and say goodbye to the Bruton's household. 

However, the longer Bryony stays in the household the more she finds herself attracted to the irresistible, charming rake for she notices beneath his wicked charms, there is a hidden depth of character which he doesn't show to the world. Whether it is a pretence or not, Bryony is determined to unravel the truth until a murder in the household shook her world and soon she would be the ultimate target of all. 

Reading Never Kiss a Rake was an enjoyable experience to me, as Anne Stuart has once again captivated me with her interesting characters and an adventure filled plot. However, as much as I enjoyed the exchanges and the chemistry between the protagonists, the story didn't wow me like some of her other books, especially her Ice series which leave me with a lot of anticipation. Don't get me wrong, I do like the writing of this book but I just got the tiny bit of feeling that Anne Stuart might have written such story before and therefore the feeling wasn't as great as compared to reading her earlier books the first time. On top of that, I felt that the conclusion was a bit rushed. 

That said, I still look forward to reading the other installments of this series. Never Trust a Pirate is the next title of the series and I'm hoping that it'd give me some surprises, and not to mention a sizzling romance with a pirate hero to boot. 

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10 Dec 2013

It was our second last day of the tour and we were feeling saddened considering that our vacation was going to end soon; plus we had enjoyed other tour members' company after all these days (there was a total of 30 members if I could recall correctly.) 

The view from our hotel room. 

Our first stop was Gyeongbuk Palace. Such a majestic architectural and I knew many Korean dramas were filmed here. 

Enough said about Gyeongbuk Palace. Pictures are solid proof and powerful than words (or maybe I'm just speechless on its beauty!) 

 City of Seoul.

Lotte World was our next destination; this is an indoor and outdoor theme park I Seoul and it was our second visit. We didn't get to explore all of the attractions on our first trip so I was glad we had this opportunity to explore those attractions we had had missed this time round. 

Yep, we sat those and it was so much fun! Had a bird's eye view of the indoor theme park.

A view from the "hot air" balloon.

12 Dec 2013

It was our last day and needless to say, we already missed this wonderful tour and we weren't even out of Seoul yet! 

Our last day of the itinerary included a stop at Korean Huganbao Showroom, where they introduced the fruit of Hovenia Dulcis. Commonly known as the Japanese Raisin Tree, it was the medicinal concoction which is believed to be helpful with detoxification of our livers. We also visited a shop where they sell Korean cosmetics and a local provision shop where they sell various local snacks  and souvenirs as well. We didn't take any pictures on these places as they are commercials. 

Below picture was taken outside an eatery place where we had our lunch. It was snowing and it was the first snow experience we had upon arriving Seoul. It was a pity that we had to depart that same day! 

So this WW post marks the end of our vacation. We had had a wonderful time and looking at these pictures left me with pleasant memories of Seoul and Hokkaido. I hope we'd have the opportunity to visit these places, again. 

Finally, I'd like to thank you for following these posts (places) with me; I hope you'd enjoyed them all! 

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9 Dec 2013

So we bid farewell to Hokkaido and transferred to Chitose Airport for our flight to Incheon, Korea. Our journey began with a trip to a drive pass of Presidential Blue House.

Managed to take a picture of Incheon International Airport before our coach left for the city tour. 

Presidential Blue House. Of course we were not permitted to enter but still it was a beautiful place to visit. 

Fountain in front of the Presidential Blue House.

The tour also brought us to a Ginseng showroom where they show us the introduction and history of Ginseng and as well as their various products. We didn't take any pictures there as it was commercial. Following in the evening, we proceeded to a theatre to watch "Action Hero Drawng Show". We understood that this show was winner of Korea 2012 Best Non-verbal performance and was performed by four talented artists. What they did was they drew as they danced to the music or even performed stunts while they were drawing, either solo or in group and it was highly entertaining! 

The performance was the last attraction of the day but we didn't end it there. While the rest of our tour group checked back to the hotel and called it a night, we went to Dongdaemun Market (one of the largest shopping districts in Seoul) to shop. It was about 15 - 20 minutes walk from our hotel but it seemed like a long walk due to the cold. Brr... 

(To be continued...)
Here is a list of book(s) I read in 2014. They are sorted in alphabetical order by the authors' last name.

Alphabet House by Jussi Alder-Olsen
What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault

Recipe for Love by Dyann Love Barr
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake 
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton
Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton
Like This, For Ever by Sharon Bolton
Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Three Souls by Janie Chang
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Super Red Riding Hood by Claudia Davila
Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Secret Place by Tana French
The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
The Concubine's Secret by Kate Furnivall

Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves

Wolf by Mo Hayder
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

You by Caroline Kepnes
Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline
Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

After Her by Joyce Maynard
Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Breakwater Bay by Shelley Noble

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

Still Life by Louise Penny
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Help for the Haunted by John Searles
I'll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin
Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart

Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

  • ISBN-13: 9781250012579
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 2013
Format: Paperback, 336 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Park Sheridan first met Eleanor while in the bus. He didn't deliberately seek her out; she just caught his attention with her bright red hair and there wasn't any empty seats aside from his. As usual, he is reading his comics and since no one occupies the seat next to his except his books, she naturally fill in the seat. 

Park doesn't want to take notice of her initially, after all he finds her a little weird with her odd dress style and not to mention the bright red colour of her hair. It is hard to miss her; plus she is new in school and all that. 

Park considers an outcast in other students' eyes; it might be due to his half Korean heritage so he somewhat feels for Eleanor when others ignore her or say mean things about her. Park always keep a low profile and try not to show his curiosity towards her, but when he noticed that she is reading his comics on his lap as the days go, things began to change from there. Slowly their silence leads to bits of conversations and before they know it Park and Eleanor find themselves develop feelings for each other. 

However, life isn't going easy for them as Eleanor comes from a broken family; her dad left them and worst of all, her stepdad treat her mother and her four other siblings badly. On the other end, though Park's family are loving people, he and Eleanor realised that they come from two different worlds but despite everything, they wouldn't want to deny their love for each other, no matter how other people see it, including their families.

Set in the 80s, Eleanor & Park is a poignant, bittersweet love story between two teenagers who find courage in love and the obstacles (issues like race, bullies in school and child abuse) they face and ultimately how everything changes their life because of it. Told in alternating segments between Eleanor and Park, this allows readers to know their inner feelings and the struggles they face. I have to say reading this book brings me both joy and sadness; author Rainbow Rowell has done a great job in describing the two teenagers' emotions in a way that touches your heart and makes you want to be young in love, again. I especially loved the ending, because it is simply beautiful and makes you think that obstacles could be overcome if one continues to be brave and not giving up hope. I wish I could be more eloquent in describing this book but you may have heard this many times - you only know what's best when you read it yourself. 

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Our sixth day on tour (our last day for the Hokkaido trip) - I think many of us had more or less accustomed to the cold weather by then (really?) but nevertheless 5oC was still c-o-l-d. 

We took a cable to Mt Tengu (at Otaru). 

A bird's eye view of Otaru City. Simply breathtaking! 

Next, we visited Kitachi Glass Gallery, which is reputed for its antique lamps and hand-blown glassware. 

Otaru Music Box Museum was our next stop and you could see various beautiful crafted music boxes here. 

Don't these sushi look real?! 

There were also many souvenirs shops along the streets. My husband bought an umbrella which looks like a samurai sword, ha. 

(To be continued...)