Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket) in Decembe 2013
Down, Boy

Anna Moder has just witnessed a shooting, seen her car pulverized, and rescued a wounded stranger only to discover he's really a werewolf. And by her recent standards, things are actually looking up. Lycanthropes don't faze Anna. Doctoring a wolf pack outside Grundy, Alaska, is the closest thing to home life she's known in years. But hitching a ride to Anchorage with long-absent pack member Caleb Graham that's a risk. Part of her itches to whack his nose with a newspaper. The rest is trying unsuccessfully to keep her own paws off every delicious inch of him.

The problem is, Caleb employs his lupine tracking abilities as a not quite-legal bounty hunter, and Anna is suspicious of both him and his profession. On the run from her past, with old problems closing in, she'd like to stay far, far away from anybody with connections to the law. Caleb, however, seems determined to keep her close. Are his intentions noble, or is he working a more predatory angle?

Anna's been dreaming of returning to a semi-normal life, but now she's experiencing a strange new urge... to join Caleb in running with the wolves.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Naked Werewolf, Book #3

The Story: The blurb is actually quite accurate. Before Anna Moder had to go underground to escape her abusive and controlling husband, she was a doctor in Nashville. She escaped to Alaska and held menial jobs to stay under the radar. The only respite she had was the couple of years she spent in Grundy being the doctor to a werewolf pack before being on the move again.

After a 12-hour shift at the grocery store, the last thing Anna expected is to be the witness of a shooting. Even though she hasn't been practicing, the doctor in her cannot leave the victim behind. However, she did not expect him to be a werewolf and the only member of the Grundy pack that she has not met, Caleb Graham. To thank her, Caleb agrees to drive her to Anchorage... but with a few detours for his job as a bounty hunter.

Soon, Anna and Caleb find themselves in a comfortable relationship. However, Caleb has been keeping a secret from Anna... one that she might not forgive him when she finds out.

My Opinion: When an author has two series, do you ever wonder why one works for you and not the other? That's the case with me and Ms Harper's series, especially given that both are light paranormal. I'm a huge fan of her Jane Jameson series; however, the Naked Werewolf series hasn't work as well for me. Of course, it's hard to be sure since I've only read the first book, How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf. That's why after enjoying her latest book, A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curves, so much, I decided to give How to Run with a Naked Werewolf a chance... Alas, it didn't change my mind.

I really, really wanted to enjoy How to Run with a Naked Werewolf, because I like Ms Harper's breezy writing style and sense of humor. Unfortunately, while those elements were present, the rest of the book fell flat for me. My main issue was pretty much the romance. I didn't feel the chemistry between Anna and Caleb. I think part of it was because Anna had so much baggage and there were too many secrets between them, but also because they settled in a relationship, a routine so fast. Almost the whole story, they were together, but we didn't get to witness many of their interactions. Some discussions, banters during their drive would have been fun and would have given us some insight. The fact that the whole book was told from Anna's POV did not help. In this case, I think it would have been interesting and helped the romance along if we've known what Caleb was thinking. I actually suspect the book would have been more engaging from his POV. He knew something that Anna didn't and I would have liked to know what Caleb saw in Anna - it would have had more impact than what we got... as Caleb was a hunky werewolf and that was pretty much it. Caleb's character felt very one-dimensional in comparison to Anna who had an interesting back story. As a whole though, the two of them were okay characters.

As for the storyline, well it was pretty much Anna and Caleb driving to Anchorage, catch some bad guys and fall in love. I think Ms Harper wanted to focus on the H/H; however, only having Anna's POV was a bit detrimental. As for the stops they did to catch the bad guys, it was a bit too episodic. I guess what I mean is that in the storyline wasn't balanced enough between the two. It didn't help that some elements were a bit too predictable. Seriously, why do exes always have to make an appearance? Especially when the H/H have been rid of them for years? I did enjoy the part of the story where Anna and Caleb were in Grundy with the pack though. That part was fun :) Finally, I think How to Run with a Naked Werewolf would have profited having good secondary characters to support Anna and Caleb.

My Grade: C-. Seems like I'll be sticking to Ms Harper's vampires and witches in the future ^_^;

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

Hope Flames by Jaci Burton
published by Berkley in January 2014
Thirty-two and finally setting up her veterinary practice in the town she once called home, Emma Burnett is on her own and loving it. Independent and driven, she's not letting any man get in the way of her dreams. Not again.

That's fine with Luke McCormack. Divorced and hardly lacking in female company when he needs it, he's devoted to the only faithful companion in his life--his police dog. Still, there's something about Emma he can't shake.

When a series of local break-ins leaves Emma vulnerable, she seeks help from the first man to spark her desire in years. And now they're giving each other something they thought they'd lost forever...hope
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Hope, Book #1

The Story: When Emma Burnett was in college, she met a man and put aside her dreams... never imagining that she was embarking in an abusive relationship. However, she was strong enough to get out and put her life back together. At thirty-two, Emma is now realizing her dreams of setting up her own veterinary practice in her hometown of Hope. For the past few years, Emma's focus has been on her studies, her work and had no time for a man. And she's not looking for one, especially not when her booming business is keeping her so busy. If only she didn't find Luke McCormack so attractive...

Luke McCormack comes from a rancher family, but decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. He's currently working for Hope police department with his K9 dog, Boomer, while waiting for an opportunity in a bigger city. He's been burned once by marriage and is therefore determined to keep his interactions with women restricted to sex, ideally one-night stands... that is until he meets Emma.

Neither is looking for a relationship, but they are both attracted to each other. What to do?

My Opinion: I'm going to start this review by stating right away that it was me and not the book. Just keep that in mind.

In the past few years, I feel that Ms Burton has really made a name for herself in contemporary romance, especially with her Play by Play series. Hope Flames is pretty much what you would expect from Ms Burton: nice characters and development, good writing and some steamy scenes :) The problem is I found Hope Flames to be boring ^_^; There was nothing refreshing or different in Hope Flames to set it apart from all the other contemporary romances out there, especially not the romance storyline. Once again, it was about two characters not looking for a relationship, who had sex and somehow embarked in a fling which became more and eventually ended with "I love you." Sounds familiar? Even the addition of cute pets couldn't chase away the feeling of deja-vu and ennui :(

To Ms Burton's credit, she did try to inject a bit of content to the book by adding a series of break-ins. The problem is that she never really developed this part of the story. They happened and Luke as a cop had to work on it, but that's pretty much it. The arrest of the perp was totally anti-climatic. As for Emma's ex suddenly coming back in the picture, to me, it was superfluous. It was just too convenient a way to create conflict in the romance and I really wasn't impressed with Emma's attitude afterwards.

Seriously, have I not known Hope Flames was written by Ms Burton and the start of a new series, I would have sworn it was part of Ms Shalvis' Animal Magnetism series. The characters, the pets and the small town feel were exactly the same... While both authors are good, one such series is enough in my opinion. I think it's time that Berkley and authors shake things up and take some risk instead of playing it safe.

My Grade: C. There was nothing wrong Hope Flames. I'm sure that it will be a comfort read for some. For me though, it was just one more contemporary romance following a pattern I've grown tired of ^_^;;

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: The Last Guy She Should Call by Joss Wood

The Last Guy She Should Call by Joss Wood
published by Harlequin (Harlequin KISS) in January 2014
She'd got his number…luckily!

For savvy antiques dealer Rowan Dunn life is good— until a passport error gets her deported back to South Africa! Stranded at the airport, Rowan can remember only two phone numbers, —her parents' (definitely not an option!) and her best friend's brother's. As much as she hates it, Rowan knows she has no choice. It's time to call Seb Hollis and ask for help…

Seb is even sexier than Rowan remembers —and just as infuriating! He's always pushed her buttons, but at least now she knows how to push them back. Maybe it's time to start sleeping with the enemy— even though Rowan's sure there won't be a whole lot of sleeping going on…!
Genre: Category romance, Contemporary
Series: None

The Story: Rowan Dunn comes from a family of academics and while her parents and brother are reserved, she feels a lot, is very emotional. As such, Rowan never felt like she belonged and as soon as she had the chance, i.e. right after high school, she left to travel the world. She hasn't been back home in nine years and have no plans to... that is until she gets deported back to South Africa due to a visa transgression. Back on South Africa soil with no money and a dead cell phone, Rowan has no choice than to call for back-up and the only two numbers she remembers are her parents and her best friend's home. Except her best friend is out of town and it's now the brother who lives there.

Seb Hollis grew up with Rowan and to him, it was like having another pesky little sister. He never understood why she antagonized her parents so much. It's true they didn't understand her, but they were there for her unlike his mother who abandoned her family to travel the world. When he gets Rowan's phone call asking him to lend her money for a plane ticket to London, Seb refuses. The only plane ticket he'll buy her is to Cape Town where he intends to keep her till her parents return from their trip.

Rowan and Seb had always pushed each other's buttons and that hasn't changed. What neither expected though is the other to look so much better and be sexier. Suddenly, there's another kind of tension between them, one that can lead only to one thing...

My Opinion: I didn't use to be a very big category romance reader and that's mainly due to the length of the books. However, that changed in the past few years, since category romance became one of my source for contemporary romance, but also because I discovered the SuperRomance line which suits me more than Blaze and Presents. When Harlequin announced their new line, KISS, with its cute and colorful covers, I was excited... but we all know how it turned out ^_^; One good thing though that came out of this is that I discovered Ms Wood :) In 2013, I read her three contributions to the KISS line and really enjoyed them all... which entitled her my pick for "Best new-to-me author" and put her on my auto-buy authors list :)

I have to say, even if Ms Wood hadn't been on my auto-buy authors list, I would probably have picked up The Last Guy She Should Call based on the blurb :) I'm a fan of the "falling in love with my best friend's sibling" theme, because it often means a shared childhood and funny anecdotes... and it was definitively the case in The Last Guy She Should Call. What made the story even more interesting is that Rowan and Seb hadn't seen each other in nine years, so upon meeting again, they had to adjust to the adult version and deal with their attraction... and I thought they handled that situation very well and with maturity. I really liked that feeling of familiarity, but at the same time, newness - seeing each other in a different light, it all contributed to a sizzling chemistry between Rowan and Seb :)

I also enjoyed the characters very much. I understand Rowan's need for independence and admire what she's made of herself. I would never have the guts to leave everything behind and travel the world as she did. I would love to, but wouldn't be able to. Her baggage was quite interesting as well, not being understood by her family. Also needing more emotionally, than what they could give her. What I liked is that although she tried to build walls to protect herself, she wasn't able to and she still wants this close relationship with her parents. What I mean is she didn't become jaded and cynical... As for Seb, he was a yummy hero :) Things came naturally for him, so he didn't really understand Rowan, but he made an effort. He also had some mother issues, being abandoned by her... and that's what has prevented him from opening himself. That mother issue was a bit too convenient for the story, i.e. Rowan and his mother both travel the world, but in the end, I think he handled it well. Also, I don't think Rowan needs to travel that much... what she needs most is to be loved and Seb does.

While I enjoyed the characters and their romance, I felt like we didn't see much of the story. I would have loved to see more interactions between Seb and Rowan, more concrete scenes such as Rowan bartending, the night she accompanied Seb to a function, the dinner with her parents. Instead, everything was mentioned. It seems to me Ms Wood focused too much on the internal conflicts and as a result, the story felt very passive... and that's why the grade for The Last Guy She Should Call wasn't higher.

And something I was wondering while reading The Last Guy She Should Call, although it's not specifically aimed at Ms Wood... Is it possible to have an academic family whose members are not cold and reserved?

My Grade: B+. In a very short time, Ms Wood has become one of my favorite category romance authors. Her books and writing style just work for me :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hauling Sunday CXXIV

Hey everyone :)

How are you doing? Hope everything is well for everyone :) Me, I feel good which is great and so far, I've managed curling, blogging and reading! Really a great start to 2014 :P Although I have to admit, I have no idea how long I'm going to be able to maintain it ^_^; Especially when you add in the sport watching (tennis and curling) and with the Olympics coming up... However, I'm optimistic :) The only thing I wish I could do better was blog-hopping and commenting. Will have to figure out a schedule for it. What  about you, how's 2014 for you so far?

So this week, I bought some books :) Yay! Indigo/Chapters had a good coupon: Buy 1 and get 50% off the 2nd book... which really, is the same as the "buy 3, get the 4th free" promo. I hope there are going to be some good promotions throughout the year because with the Canadian dollar weakening, books are going to get expensive. Already, I don't save as much on Book Depository... and Berkley has started rising its price on some releases, sigh, and I'm sure they won't be the only one. This year's book-buying is going to be interesting...

This week, I bought some books that I've already read, but wanted to own: The Grendel Affair, How to Run with a Naked Werewolf and The Spider.  When the Rogue Returns was a score, since the book is coming out this Tuesday. Finally, one of my favorite authors, Laura Florand, also had a self-published book out, The Chocolate Temptation, and I snagged it up :)

Any new precious on your shelves?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz

River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz
published by Putnam in January 2014
It’s been thirteen years since Lucy Sheridan was in Summer River. The last time she visited her aunt Sara there, as a teenager, she’d been sent home suddenly after being dragged out of a wild party—by the guy she had a crush on, just to make it more embarrassing. Obviously Mason Fletcher—only a few years older but somehow a lot more of a grown-up—was the overprotective type who thought he had to come to her rescue.

Now, returning after her aunt’s fatal car accident, Lucy is learning there was more to the story than she realized at the time. Mason had saved her from a very nasty crime that night—and soon afterward, Tristan, the cold-blooded rich kid who’d targeted her, disappeared mysteriously, his body never found.

A lot has changed in thirteen years. Lucy now works for a private investigation firm as a forensic genealogist, while Mason has quit the police force to run a successful security firm with his brother—though he still knows his way around a wrench when he fills in at his uncle’s local hardware store. Even Summer River has changed, from a sleepy farm town into a trendy upscale spot in California’s wine country. But Mason is still a protector at heart, a serious (and seriously attractive) man. And when he and Lucy make a shocking discovery inside Sara’s house, and some of Tristan’s old friends start acting suspicious, Mason’s quietly fierce instincts kick into gear. He saved Lucy once, and he’ll save her again. But this time, she insists on playing a role in her own rescue . . .
Genre: Contemporary romance, Romantic suspense
Series: N/A

The Story: The blurb for River Road is pretty accurate, so I'm just going  to add a few details. Lucy Sheridan was 16 years old the last time she visited her aunt, Sarah, and was bailed out by then 19 years old Mason Fletcher. It seems the golden boy, Tristan Brinker, was into drugging and raping young girls and Lucy was his intended next victim. However, a week after the party, Tristan mysteriously disappeared.

Now, Lucy is back in Summer River to clean and ready her aunt's house before putting it on the market... but in truth, she's suspicious about the car accident, because Sarah knew River Road very well and was not the only one to die. Mary Colfax, Sarah's business partner and probably more, also died in that accident and Lucy is suspicious because of the timing. Mary detained a controlling block of shares in Colfax Inc. Colfax Inc. is a hedge fund business that was started by Mary's brother, Warner Colfax, and Tristan Brinker's father. After Tristan's disappearance, Warner bought out Brinker's father and Colfax Inc. is now solely owned by family... A family divided into two camps because of the possibility of a major merger/acquisition that would bring in millions to its shareholders: Warner who wants to keep a legacy even though he's more interested in his new wine business and all the rest of the Colfax family. Mary would have had the deciding vote due to her shares... and now Lucy is as she's inherited them through Sarah. As soon as she arrives to Summer River, Lucy starts being courted by all sides, but she won't do anything before she finds out the truth... Especially since her suspicions are only reinforced with the gruesome discovery in Sarah's house .

My Opinion: A few years ago, I posted an inquiry about a romance novel I read as a teen and wished to re-read, but for which I couldn't remember the author or the title ^_^; Thanks to blogland, the online book community and Kris, I was able to identify the book as Deep Waters by Ms Krentz... and its re-read spurred me on a Jayne Ann Krentz' binge :) Anyway, all this to say that I'm a pretty big fan of what I term as Ms Krentz' "classic/old school books", i.e. the contemporary romance stand-alones she used to write before she started taking a paranormal turn and linked her contemporary books with the other ones she wrote under her other pseudonyms into a really big series. That's why River Road caught my attention, because its blurb was reminiscent of old school JAK... and that's pretty much what I got :)

While I was looking forward to River Road because of the old school JAK factor, I was also a bit wary, afraid that the story would be too predictable. Every author has a writing/story pattern and Ms Krentz is no exception. However, I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting twists in the story. These twists weren't major, but they were enough to mix things up and change the direction of the plot. Reading the prologue, I really thought River Road would be about Tristan's murder and Mason, the main suspect, but it wasn't. That was nice and somewhat refreshing :) The rest of the suspense was quite good. A bit familiar if you have read The Golden Chance, because it does revolve around the Colfax controlling share; however, Ms Krentz added a lot of other elements to it and she was able to tie it all up together.

In my opinion, the romance wasn't as good as the suspense. Oh, it works because you can feel that Lucy and Mason do share a bond. It's simply that the romance wasn't, well, romantic ^_^; I don't know the extent of Lucy and Mason's acquaintance when they were younger, but it seemed they knew each other well enough. Their attraction never went beyond an unspoken crush, but even then, they were aware of each other. Thirteen years later, their relationship just picks up from where it left off. They are still aware of each other, but this time around, they have to deal with some subtle sexual tension. They haven't seen each other ever since that night Mason bailed Lucy out of the party, but they've had updates of each other through their aunt and uncle. For me, the romance between Lucy and Mason was believable, especially since both expressed their feelings quite well. However, their romance was pretty factual and a bit dry ^_^; Unfortunate because I actually liked Mason and Lucy's characters. I liked that they had reached a time in their life when they were content and were competent. They were two mature characters, even with their baggage... Then again, now that I think about it, perhaps their romance was a reflection of themselves LOL. They took the mature and logical way dealing with it.

As usual, I did have some quibbles with the book. There were some details that I feel Ms Krentz didn't expand enough. I guess it's the way the story was written, there were things she didn't have to explain... but it would have been nice if she did, instead of having the readers take it at face value. For example, it was mentioned a couple of times that Tristan seemed to fear or be threatened by Lucy's aunt, Sarah. It would have been nice to have a concrete example. It also wouldn't have hurt if Ms Krentz had expanded on Mason and Lucy's bond. It went quite deep if at 19 years old, Mason was ready to kill Brinker to protect Lucy. What kind of feelings, relationship could spur such dedication?

My Grade: B. Overall, I quite enjoyed River Road for what it was, a straight contemporary romance book with a healthy dose of suspense. The fact that it felt like a classic JAK book was a bonus :) I do wonder if Ms Krentz plans to write about Lucy's two best friends and perhaps Mason's brother... Having the books connected without it being a series, series - I would like that :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

TBR Challenge 2014: Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry

Yay, made it! Yep, I decided to give the TBR Challenge another go this year :) Hopefully, it's a good sign that I managed to have this review up in time :) Perhaps it will set the tone. Especially since in my opinion, the January entry is always the hardest because it just creeps on you ^_^; You simply don't think about the challenge because it won't be until the next year and by then, everyone is busy writing recap posts of the previous year. The next thing you know, you only have a few days left to read and review a TBR book! Luckily, the theme for January is "We love short shorts!"

This time around, I did follow the monthly theme and picked up a category romance. I knew I had a few by Ms Mayberry that I've never read and thought this would be the perfect occasion to pull one out. So my TBR read is Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry. I'm pretty sure I bought this when it came out... I think that's when the blogging buzz for Ms Mayberry began to be persistent. The truth though is back then, I still wasn't convinced by Ms Mayberry's writing and as I never was a huge fan of the Blaze line, in the TBR pile Her Secret Fling went. Should I be kicking my behind over it? Let's find out :)

Her Secret Fling by Sarah Mayberry
published by Harlequin (Harlequin Blaze) in January 2010
Jake Stevens--star reporter and celebrated literary genius--is a snake. How else to explain the way he turns Poppy Birmingham's hero worship into loathing with a single conversation? So what if she's got a lot to learn about journalism? Aren't they coworkers now? On the same team? Jake can take his attitude and... Then during a job-related road trip, their relationship goes from antagonistic to hedonistic in no time flat. And suddenly Poppy can't think of anything more delicious than having a secret fling with Jake. But with all this intensity, can she really keep it no-strings-attached?
Genre: Category romance, Contemporary
Series: None

The Story: Her career as a world-class competitive swimmer over due to a shoulder injury, Poppy Birmingham is looking for a new start. When she gets the offer to join the Herald's sport section as a columnist, she accepts because it will open doors to a new world for her, but also because she'll have the opportunity to work with Jake Stevens - a star reporter and her favorite author. Unfortunately, working with her idol isn't turning out as she imagined, especially since Jake doesn't think she should be at the Herald, having no journalism experience. However, Poppy is determined to prove him wrong and show him that she's a lot more than a jock.

As time goes, Jake has to admit that he was wrong. While it's true Poppy doesn't have the experience, she is working hard and her columns are not as bad as he thought they'd be. Then, because of a strike at the airport, Jake and Poppy are stuck driving back home together from a work trip. As they get to know each other, one thing leads to another... and soon, they embark on a secret fling. Their sexual chemistry is off the chart, but as time goes by and they settle into each other's routine, can this remain simply sex?

My Opinion: It's funny because when I picked up Her Secret Fling on last Friday, I was a bit panicked because the TBR challenge had crept up on me (see opening paragraph :P) and with a busy week-end ahead, time was tight... and then, I proceeded to read Her Secret Fling in one sitting. Yeah... LOL. Anyway, this review is going to be pretty much like the book: short and sweet, because as it turned out,  Her Secret Fling was a pretty typical Mayberry category romance, i.e. solid story with interesting characters :)

Let's start with the characters. I actually quite liked Poppy as an heroine. I liked that she took the job of columnist because it opened her to new possibilities. As a star athlete, it would have been so easy for Poppy to fall back on the familiar - becoming a coach, taking an endorsement, etc. Nothing wrong if she would have done so, especially if that's where her heart was... but to change completely of field, it showed Poppy wanted something else and had gumption. Also, she never expected her famous status to carry her. From the get go, Poppy intended to work hard and give it her all which was admirable. It was also good that she was able to stand up for herself against Jake, someone she actually admired. I have to admit, given her swimming and elite athlete background, I expected Poppy to be a bit more confident, self-assured. It actually would have been interesting if Ms Mayberry had shown us more of that side of Poppy as I think it would have made this book stand out a bit more. Then again, starting a new job in a new field, I guess it was enough for Poppy to feel out of the water... literally. The one thing that annoyed me about the character was in the beginning of Her Secret Fling when she starts her job at the Herald and immediately picks up on Jake's cold shoulder behavior. I thought she was being a bit too sensitive and susceptible. Of course, immediately, her feelings are justified ^_^;, but still... I think Ms Mayberry should have been a little more subtle and should have stretched that part of the book a little. As for Jake's character, he was more of an enigma throughout the book. He did get some development, but it was in the latter part of the book and at that point, it felt a bit too late... or too convenient to tie up the romance. However, his background story was actually pretty interesting and I liked how in the end, he started writing again, even if it wasn't a novel. Between, I don't think Jake was wrong feeling the way he was about Poppy getting the job at the Herald. It happens every day, unqualified people getting a job over qualified ones because of status or connection... and at least, Jake was honest and manly enough to admit he was wrong, which I appreciate.

So I liked the characters and enjoyed their romance, or at least, the part where they fell into a routine/relationship. I do think the shift between the "I dislike you" and "let's tear our clothes off" phases happened a bit too rapidly and abruptly. I know Poppy admired Jake and he found her attractive, but the shift would have been more believable if there's been more chemistry, more tension between Poppy and Jake. As much as I enjoyed Poppy and Jake's relationship, I am disappointed that the conflict boiled down to lack of communication and an ultimatum. It seems to be the norm for over half of the contemporary romances nowadays and looks like it was no different 4 years ago ^_^; However, that is more of a personal feeling than a weakness in the writing or storyline.

My Grade: B. All in all, Her Secret Fling was a quick and enjoyable read with good characters... but I'm not going to kick myself for not reading it earlier :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bitten TV Series: First Impressions

I wasn't going to write a post about Bitten or at least, not yet... not just after one episode. However, I got an email from Brie this morning asking me if I was going to watch the show... Ever since the first press release for Bitten, I knew I was going to give the tv series a try because I love the novel and the book series by Ms Armstrong... And I know I'm not the only one :) So might as well discuss the adaptation all together, right?

Apparently, Bitten premieres tonight in the States on the Syfy channel... but it being a Canadian production, seems like Canada will be getting advance viewing as Bitten's first episode was shown on Saturday on the Space channel :) After watching the episode, here are my first impressions... but please keep in mind that 1) I'm a huge fan of the book, the series and Ms Armstrong (although it's been a while since I last re-read Bitten) and 2) I'm not an avid tv series/movie watcher. This means I can be biased in some aspects and totally ignorant in others ^_^; Anyway, here we go...

Overall, I think the first episode was good. It was mainly about introducing the characters and setting up the story and world building and I think they were successful in both aspects. In addition, the pacing was good and the episode, well balanced. It wasn't about just the characters or the world building, but really both and they even started the storyline about the mutt. I also quite enjoyed how viewers got to meet most of the supporting cast - quick, but efficient.

The feel of the series is also quite good in my opinion. I liked the opening credit, I think it fit the mood the series is trying to convey and is not too revealing of what's to come. Also, I don't know if it was intentional - probably not LOL - but I thought it fit with the covers of the Canadian edition of the books. The location/scenery so far seems to be pretty spot-on, especially Stonehaven :) And while Bitten is a Canadian production and I'm quite happy about it, I wouldn't be able to tell at first glance. What I mean is that Bitten doesn't feel like a low-budget tv series or differently from any other American productions - which is a good thing :) The only thing I would like the production to improve is the werewolf special effect. It's not bad, but there's something about it... I like that the werewolves are the right colors, but they could look a bit more real feel like they belong in the scenes more.

I know, I know, all of the above is good and well, but it's not what matters most right? What you really want to know is the cast right? One of the main draws to Bitten is the actress who plays Elena, Laura Vandervoort, because she portrayed Supergirl in Smallville... and I think she can definitively carry the series on her shoulders. So far, she's doing a good job as Elena. The only complaint I can see people coming up with - and it'd be the readers - is that she's a bit too feminine. Elena doesn't care about make-up, fashion and would never be caught wearing high heels! However, I think that Laura Vandervoort's portrayal of Elena right now is good and her femininity works. I mean, Bitten's cast is predominantly male given the world that Ms Armstrong created... so playing up Elena's femininity is a good visual contrast in the tv series and I think it really drives home the point that she's the only female werewolf and what it means to be surrounded by all those males. As for the rest of the cast, they had pretty limited screen time, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I've seen so far - especially Michael Xavier as Logan, Joel Keller as Peter and Greg Bryk as Jeremy (even though he is not Asian). Yes, of course, Logan and Peter had very small roles in the novel, so their casting wasn't very crucial, but still, it's nice they fit. Furthermore, it seems to me one of the important changes that they've decided to make was not to kill off Logan's character (he's credited for the 13 episodes at IMDB), which means his role was expanded. Hopefully, it's going to keep the essence of the book and Logan will be Elena's good friend and confident which is the way it is shaping up. And so far, I like what I see of Logan and Elena :)

Greyston Holt and Paul Greene

While I'm happy with most of the actors and actresses chosen, there are two miscasts in my opinion. The first and critical one is Greyston Holt as Clayton. Clayton was always going to be the most difficult character of Bitten to cast... and unfortunately, the casting is a questionable choice for me. Clay is supposed to be traffic-stopping-gorgeous, almost angel-like, with a sandpaper personality LOL. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Greyston Holt isn't handsome enough. Even with that classroom full of girls looking subjugated, I didn't buy it ^_^; In fact, he looks too brutish to be Clay... although the moodiness is there. Personally, I would have swapped Greyston Holt and Paul Greene who plays Philip (Elena's boyfriend) roles. Then again, this is only the first episode and Elena and Clay barely had any interaction, so it's a bit early to tell... who knows, they might have incredible chemistry and that would make his casting all right. Oh and for those who wonder, Clay unfortunately doesn't have his accent in the tv series :( Guess it would have been too hard to explain? Or just too hard for the actor to maintain?... The other flagrant miscast is Paulino Nunes as Antonio. Mr Nunes is just not big enough, doesn't have the immovable presence that Antonio is supposed to have. Antonio might not have a big role, but a miscast is a miscast...

My one big complaint from what I've seen of Bitten so far is the amount of sex/nudity. I was actually concerned about this from the beginning, ever since I read "An erotically charged thriller, Bitten..." in the press release. Erotically charged thriller, really?! And seems like my concern was not for naught :( I know that Bitten not being shown on a mainstream channel, it allows the production to push the limits, I know that sex sells and attracts viewers and most of you probably think I'm a prude... but I just don't want the series to be overtaken by those scenes. Personally, the way the show started and how Elena and Philip were introduced, I could have done without. Then again, I'm probably going to be in the minority...

My verdict? I'm a purist when it comes to tv/movie adaptations. I want them to be as faithful as possible and I take the fact that I didn't spend the first episode of Bitten rolling my eyes, fuming or screaming at the screen as a good sign LOL. In all seriousness, the first episode showed promise and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. So far, the changes done to the story have really been minimal and I hope it continues that way. I mean, if they keep to the original storyline as much as possible, combined with good acting, I don't see why Bitten wouldn't be the next big TV hit :) The biggest question mark for me is going to be Greyston Holt as Clayton... guess we're going to find out soon.

What about you? Any plan of watching it? And if you did already, what did you think?


Extra: My book review of Bitten

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Review: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

Only fitting that the first review of 2014 is the first book I've read in 2014, don't you think? I didn't end 2013 with a bang as I wished, but so far, 2014 is already shaping up like a good year :) I guess it was lucky for me that December 31 was a Tuesday which means I had new releases for the new year. Of course, I hope I haven't jinxed myself just now ^_^;

Curious to know what was my first read of 2014 and what did I think of it? Well read on :)

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
published by Berkley (Ace) in December 2013
We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us…

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: SPI Files, Book #1

The Story: Makenna Fraser comes from a family of Seers. As such, she is able to see through veils, wards, shields, glamours and/or spells and therefore detect any paranormal beings in disguise. That's why she was recruited from her job at a seedy tabloid by the SPI - Supernatural Protection & Investigation -  an organization that battles supernaturals who would harm humans and/or expose them to the general public. And that is exactly what the latest threat against the SPI intends to do by releasing a pair of monsters in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Of course, it would be the kind of carnivorous monsters almost indestructible and whose favorite meat is human. And catching them won't be an easy task as the SPI's adversary has invented a cloaking device that renders the being wearing it visibly and audibly undetectable. As such, Mac's ability is needed and she finds herself on the front line, a fact that does not please her partner Ian Byrne because Mac is untrained.

With the clock ticking, can Mac really lead the SPI to the creatures or is she in over her head?

My Opinion: When people ask me what is my favorite genre, I always reply contemporary romance. In truth though, urban fantasy is a very, very close second. I always find myself looking for new urban fantasy series to get into and in my perpetual quest, I stumbled across The Grendel Affair :) I remember reading Ms Shearin's first book to her Raine Benares series, Magic Lost, Trouble Found. While it didn't hook me in, the story did have potential. So I was hoping that The Grendel Affair being an urban fantasy novel, it would work better for me... and it did :)

Whether a new urban fantasy series work for me or not usually depends on two elements: the characters and the world building. LOL, I know, not very original, but what can I say, they really are  the basis ^_^; In The Grendel Affair, I thought that Ms Shearin did a good job with both. I liked the world building because it was straightforward: supernaturals of all kinds exist and live in relative secrecy. Some are friendly with humans, some don't care and others are really bad news. The SPI is a world-wide company with offices in different locations and whose goal is to fight the bad supernaturals and keep the general public ignorant. And Mac being a Seer is an asset, even if she's untrained and therefore vulnerable. By keeping it simple, Ms Shearin made it easy to follow, avoided the dreaded information dump and kept her options for the future of the series open, all of which work in the best interest of The Grendel Affair :)

I also very much enjoyed the heroine of the book, Mac. First, it was refreshing not to have a kick-ass heroine LOL. Also, Mac was not as cynical and sarcastic as them, but still managed to be funny which is something I really liked about her and made reading the book in her POV enjoyed. In a way, Mac was more down-to-earth and grounded than most heroines, probably because she's normal. I mean, I haven't seen many urban fantasy heroines worry about their health insurance and 401k! The only ability that makes her different so far is that she is a Seer and unfortunately for her, it doesn't come with super strength or faster reflexes. Instead, she has to rely on her mind, her investigative skills honed when she was a reporter. What I also liked about Mac was her eagerness in her work and the desire to protect herself. She's conscious that her new job is dangerous and that she's untrained, but she wants to remedy the situation and that's definitively a point in her favor :) I have to say though, I would have liked a bit more background on Mac. It's fine to keep the world building to a minimum, but I think it's important to develop the protagonist as much as possible. Even if Mac is a pretty uncomplicated character - no dark past, no big secret (at least so far) - getting to know her is important and so information such as her age and family situation would have been welcomed. The other characters in The Grendel Affair  that made up Mac's entourage were varied - a human, a werewolf, an elf, a vampire and a dragon to name a few - and all came from her work. None of them were fully fleshed, but given they were all new co-workers to Mac and the story is told from her POV, it made sense. There are some few interesting interactions going on and I'm looking forward to get to know them better as Mac does :)

Finally, the last important element of an urban fantasy series is the story/plot. Two things to consider here: the plot of the book itself and the overall storyline of the series. For both, I feel Ms Shearin did not pull it off as well as she did for the world building and the characters. The plot for The Grendel Affair was actually quite interesting with a good mix of investigation and action. However, it lacked a bit of complexity and mystery, all because the villain played his hand too early by revealing his plan. Also, the identity of the villain was too easily discovered in my opinion and then, taken in stride... so it takes away a bit of the punch. Also, throughout the story, there was a big build-up for the confrontation between the grendels and the SPI. However, it ended up being a bit anti-climatic and just a bit too easily taken care of. These are small details, but their impact on the story is huge and it's unfortunate because it takes away from the story. As for the overall storyline, it is not completely defined yet which is not a bad thing for me. I'd actually be happy if the SPI Files series was exactly just as its name says, files - i.e. each book would be a separate case with no big overall storyline. Anyway, as I said, there is still no overall storyline yet, but it seems to me there is going to be one and my problem with it is similarly to her villain, Ms Shearin seemed to have played her hand too early. With the big villain of The Grendel Affair and the bad guy from Ian's (Mac's partner) past escaping, it seems obvious they will be back in the future ^_^; Of course, I don't know what their role will be and Ms Shearin might have some twists up her sleeve... but sometimes, it's better to have a bit of mystery going on.

Oh and for those who wondered, there is no romance in The Grendel Affair except for a kiss at the end and I'm not 100% sure where it will lead. I guess there is some mystery LOL.

My Grade: Solid B. The Grendel Affair had a few flaws, but overall, it was a good start to the series and I'm pretty sure I will be picking up the next installment :)

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Bookish Recap of 2013

And here we are, my last retrospective post of 2013. Ames and I take a look at how the past year was, reading-wise and book-wise. Which books measured up to our expectations? Which series is still going strong? Which authors did we read most? Which ones impressed us? To find out, head over to Breezing Through or simply click here :)

To complete the post, a few more pictures of authors :P Recognize them?


Monday, January 06, 2014

Best and Favorite Reads of 2013

And I continue my retrospective of 2013 with the 'Best and Favorite Reads' post :) Once again, Ames and I teamed up for this post. It's just more fun when there's a bit of discussion going on :P You can find our lists of Best and Favorite Reads for 2013 over at Breezing Through or by simply clicking here. Curious? Well what are you waiting for? :P

I don't want to give away my picks by posting the covers in this post, but a post without pictures is a bit sad. Especially the Best and Favorite Reads post :) So here are some pictures of authors who have written some of my favorite books in 2013. Recognize them? :P

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 in numbers...

In the Happy New Year 2014 post, I said there wouldn't be a numbesr post for 2013... Well I lied LOL. Although it wasn't intentional. At the time, I really thought there wouldn't be one because my spreadsheet was months outdated! However, as other bloggers's numbers posts started popping up, I got curious... I wanted to know what my numbers were! And so on New Year, I spent the whole afternoon updating my spreadsheet ^_^;

I tried my best and these numbers are as accurate as they could be, given the retroactive updating of my spreadsheet... So here we go, my numbers post!

Number of books read


Once again, my goal for the year was 205 books... However, it became quickly evident to me that I wouldn't achieve it. Starting off the year in Germany just set up the tone for the rest of the year. I don't seem to get much reading done while I'm away from home... whether I'm on a trip or at the hospital LOL. Anyway, I just couldn't seem to get into a reading rhythm this year... Whenever I'd start one, it'd either get disrupted by me going away or a reading slump :(

In the end, I only managed 146. In December, when I realized that I was close to 150, I tried for it... but LOL, holidays and reading slump ^_^; 146 is really the lowest number I've had in years. Although in actuality, I read more than that since whenever I'm in a reading slump, I re-read... However, I don't count re-reads in my tally. Then again, I never count re-reads, so that's the same in previous years. Okay, I'm getting lost. Just to say that I wished I've read more than 146 books, but given the really busy year I've had, I'll take it.

The good news for 2014 is that I can only do better... right? :P Also this year, I've decided not to pressure myself too much and so lowered my reading goal to 175. I've already have 2 books under my belt, so... so far so good :)

Number of books bought


Wow, this number is getting better and better as years go! LOL. Compared to last year, it's -31 less books bought!! Coincidentally, it's the same decrease as in 2012 :) However, I really doubt I can go lower than that!

This year, I've pretty much stuck to my auto-buy authors list when it came to purchasing books. I've pre-ordered pretty much everything online and as such, there were very few impulse buys. It didn't help that I rarely went to the bookstores and also rarely browsed the aisles :( It's kind of sad, but I guess that's how my book buying habit has evolved :( Here is my break-down:

Bought print online = 51
Bought print in-store = 29
Bought e-books = 15

A few years ago, I would never have thought I'd be buying more books online than in-store. One of the reasons these two numbers have swapped is Book Depository. When I pre-order books there, I save almost 2$ per paperback. Such a deal!! As a result, I now pre-order all the books from my auto-buy authors list.  As for e-books, well it's still my last option... unless the books are self-published. That's because buying e-books is not cheaper than buying print. Given the pricing, then I'd rather have something I can hold than not.

Speaking of  pricing, guess how much I saved this year? Drumroll please... 343.31$ Another awesome number! It's less than last year, but then, I also bought less, so it makes sense to me :) I've kept the habit of buying hardcovers and trade-sizes online and now, have added paperback pre-orders at Book Depository. Almost all the books I've bought in-store was done so during a promotion and e-books, with a coupon. Those are some habits I plan on continuing :P

Finally, out of those 95 books, I read 73! That's 76.8% of books bought read which is another good number in my opinion and quite similar to last year's :)

What did I read?

Contemporary = 37
Category romance = 22 (Contemporary = 22)
Urban Fantasy = 21
YA = 17 (Contemporary = 8, Fantasy = 3, Paranormal = 1, Sci-Fi = 2, Steampunk = 1,  UF = 2)
Historical = 14 (Regency = 14)
Romantic Suspense = 11
Paranormal romance = 8
Mystery/Thriller/Cosy Mystery = 4
New Adult = 4 (Contemporary = 4)
Fiction = 2
Chick-lit/Women's Fiction = 2
Fantasy romance = 1
Erotica = 1
m/m = 1
Steampunk = 1

Contemporary romance came on top again this year... No surprise given it is my favorite genre :) I might complain about contemporary romance market being over-saturated by small town romance books, but at the end of the day, I do pick them up LOL. However, I do think my complaint is the reason why my number of category romance books is up. I find the setting for contemporary category romance, especially the Harlequin KISS and SuperRomance lines to be interesting and refreshing. Most of them take place overseas or in big cities and that's really an appeal for me.

Urban Fantasy, YA, RS and Paranormal romance numbers have been pretty constant. I think it's because I'm quite specific as to what I want to read in those genres and there's not that many books that fit my criteria ^_^; For example, I prefer to read YA novels that do not feature high school life; cops, PI and FBI agents as main characters in RS instead of military men/women, etc. Also, always on the look-out for UF series, so please feel free to make any suggestions! If it wasn't for the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, my UF number would be way down - say 7 books down LOL.

One genre whose number exhibited the most change is Historical romance and that number is way down in 2013, from 33 to 14. One of the reasons is because I prefer regency historical romance... and well they're all quite similar one to another, author to another ^_^; I don't think the genre is dead, but I think it could use some new ideas, settings, etc.

What does 2014 has in store for me? I have no idea. I'm quite sure Contemporary romance will remain number one LOL. And unless I get hook on a new series with quite a backlist, I think that UF will take a hit. One genre that will probably increase is New Adult, simply because there are so much of it being published... What are your predictions?

Who published them?

1. Penguin (Berkley, NAL, ROC, Putnam, etc.) = 38
2. Harlequin (HQN Books, Mira, SuperRomance, KISS, Mills & Boon, etc.) = 29
3. Harpercollins Publisher (Avon, Avon Impulse, etc.) = 14
4. Simon & Schuster = 10
5. Hachette (Grand Central Publishing, Headline, etc.) = 9
5. Self-published = 9
7.DAW = 8
8. Hyperion/Scholastic/Bloomsbury = 7
9. Kensington,  Random House Publishing = 6
10. E-Publishers (Samhain, Entangled) = 4
11. Macmillan (St. Martin's Press, etc.) = 3
12. Sourcebooks = 2
13. Subterranean Press = 1

As usual, top publishers are Penguin and Harlequin. Really not surprising since most books I read are from Berkley and New American Library. Harlequin is my source of category romance, so right there, it's 22 books! Wait, only 7 books from HQN Books and Mira?! Oh no, wait, there's one from LoveSwept and another from Entangled... Still, only 9 from HQN Books and Mira?! I used to love Mira books, but the current trend is not really to my taste :(

I'm one of those readers that do take into consideration the publishers when I pick up a book, but then this year... well I've pretty much been reading according my auto-buy author list and so I've followed more the authors than the publishers. Might as well since I feel most publishers have been stagnant in 2013 in their publishing.

Have to say, two publishers I'd like to see publish more interesting books/romance are Grand Central Publishing and Macmillan. Ever since Ms Rose switched publisher, Grand Central Publishing has kind of lost me as a reader. They do publish a lot of RS which is good, but it's almost all military men... and their contemporary romances, well it's quite similar to everyone else. As for St. Martin's Press, they have great covers... but story-wise... not impressed.

When were they published?

2013 = 116 (79.5%)
2012 = 13
2011 = 7
2010 = 7
2009 = 2
2006 = 1

As usual, I'm pretty current on my reading :) On one hand, I'm surprised I haven't read anything published before 2005... and on the other hand, well I know I do have a prejudiced for romance books before 2000 ^_^; I feel like 2000 marks a shift in romance novels writing... and I'm just so used to the style after 2000. I doubt the trend will change in 2014.

How did I enjoy the books?

A = 7 (A+ = 0, A = 0, A- = 7)
B = 82 (B+ = 20, B = 34, B- = 28)
C = 51 (C+ = 17, C = 19, C- = 15)
D = 3
DNF = 2
No Grade = 1

I am very stingy with As. I don't know why, but I have difficulty giving them out... and even when I do, well it seems like it's mostly A-s ^_^; I guess I need to be less stringent.

As for the rest, well as you can see, the bulk is in the B and C ranges. I do enjoy almost all of the books I read to a certain degree :) However, I have to say this year, I was probably a bit tougher. For example, if it was between a B+ and a B, I would go with a B; between a C and a C-, it'd be a C-... I feel this is indicative of how 2013 felt like to me... Everything was just so predictable, authors going through the motion, etc. Hopefully, 2014 will be different.

The no grade book is Darkest Powers Bonus Pack 1 by Ms Armstrong which is a collection of novellas she's written for the Darkest Powers series. Because most of these novellas were very short, I just didn't want to assign a grade.

Did I share my thoughts with you?

Full reviews = 38
Week-End's Minis = 5
Mini-reviews from Monthly Reads posts = 23

That gives me a grand total of 66 reviews. 20 of them being for books I've read in 2012. This is half of what I reviewed in 2012, but given the blogging year I've had... I'll take it! I hope to do better in 2013 - shouldn't be that hard ^_^; - and starting from a clean slate will take off a lot of the pressure to "catch up."

Random Numbers

New-to-me Authors = 32

For a girl who supposedly stuck to her auto-buy author list for her book purchases, I did read quite a good amount of new authors LOL. That's mainly due to reading so many category romance, especially with the new Harlequin KISS line - had to pick out new authors.

Books part of a series = 107

This number is quite consistent with last year's % and once again, is not surprising. That's how the publishing industry works nowadays. A lot of the books that were not part of a series were the category romance, some of the YA and all the fiction and chick-lit books LOL. As usual, I wouldn't mind for more stand-alone books, but I'm not holding my breath over it :P


And voila, my numbers post! Lots of work involved, but always a fun post to read :) What do you think? Good numbers? I think so. Obviously, there's room for improvement for some of them... but at the end of the day, I'm just glad to see I'm consistent-ish LOL. Seriously though, I can't believe 2013 is over... Then again, starting fresh with 2014 is not bad either :)

Friday, January 03, 2014

My Life According to Books I Read in 2013

It's Friday, yay!! And today, I played hooky from work ^_^; While it's not as cold as what Ames has lived through the last couple of days, it's still plenty cold for me: -20⁰C (-4F) and -29⁰C (-20F) with windchill. Brrrr. So yes, if I have the option, I will stay home and warm :)

The past couple of years, I've enjoyed wrapping up the year with this meme. It's just a fun exercise of wittiness LOL. I can't remember who started it off, but among my blogger friends, Christine from The Happily Ever After... is the one who has been perpetuating it :) You can read her 2013 edition as well as all the details for the meme here :P

Ready for my answers? LOL.

Describe yourself:
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

How do you feel:
Brazen by Kelley Armstrong

Describe where you currently live:
Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Your favorite form of transportation:
Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong

Your best friend is:
Revenge of the Girl with a Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

You and your friends are:
Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery

What's the weather like:
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

What is life to you:
Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Favorite time of day:
Darkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry

Your fear:
Double Crossed by Ally Carter

What is the best advice you have to give:
Beware of the Boss by Leah Ashton

Thought for the day:
Can't Stop Believing by Jodi Thomas

How I would like to die:
Kiss of Venom by Jennifer Estep

My soul's present condition:
Wrecked by Shiloh Walker

My family is:
Always on my Mind by Jill Shalvis

My previous editions...

My Life According to Books I Read in 2011
My Life According to Books I Read in 2012


I hope you guys enjoyed the meme and hope to read your edition!!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

New Releases - January 2014!

Hi everyone!

Quick post to let you know that Ames and I have our New Releases post for January up over at Breezing Through :) Check out how we're going to start the year!

 By the way, be a dear and let us know if we missed any good books!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!!!

I wish you all an awesome and fun year to come 
 may 2014 be filled with love, joy, health and good books!

Hi everyone! How are you doing? I hope you're having a great holiday! Mine has been pretty good so far :) After the year we've had, my sister and I wanted to finish the year with some cheer and so were really in the mood for the holidays :) We haven't had a tree for 12 years, but this year, we got one as you can see in the above picture :P We also went all out on the gifts :P My favorites came from my sister...

I can't believe the last time I blogged was in November!! Time goes by so fast, it's unbelievable! I wanted to a lot of times, but nothing would come to mind. My blogging muse was still missing in action and in addition, I got into a reading slump. December is never a good reading month for me :( Also, with everything happening this year, I've been soooo behind on my reviews, monthly recaps and so on... I figured I should wait till the New Year and start with a clean slate :) And that's what I'm going to do. Unfortunately, that means a lot of good books I read last year, I won't be reviewing... but seriously, there's just no way to catch up. I think I made it till around May ^_^; Also, I've fallen behind on my excel spreadsheet and that means there'll be no "2013 in numbers..." post :( However, there will be a "Favorite Reads of 2013" post, so that's something :) I'm sad about giving up 6 months of blogging, but at the same time, it's a pressure off my shoulders and I think starting anew will make blogging fun again :) I thought of changing the background of the blog to reflect the new start, but in the end, I really like this background :P

As a result, my resolution this year for blogging is just to enjoy it and start commenting again :P

What about me? Well I'm still recovering I guess. It's been almost two months since the surgery and lately, well I've been feeling some twinges and twitches again... Makes me a bit nervous from time to time, but otherwise, I'm okay. Just learning to live with it. The good news is that I can now curl! Woohoo!! Starting again this Sunday, just can't wait LOL. Although not curling wasn't a bad thing... because while I was recovering, I picked up a new hobby... crochet! I never thought I'd like it, but it's kind of addicting :) My sister wanted to make an infinity scarf and I've been thinking of buying one for myself as well... but making one sounded more cool! And it's actually quite fun LOL. While I picked up crocheting, my sister chose knitting :P That's how she made my broom cover :P Want to see some of my handiwork?

It's really addicting! Once you start, you don't want to stop... However, there are just so many scarves I can make!

Looking back on 2013, it wasn't a bad year per se. Of course, the bad stuff tends to jump to mind such as my aunt's funeral and the appendicitis. However, there were also a lot of good things that happened such as the Punta Cana trip, my second cousin's wedding, Ames' visit, seeing Oliver twice in a year, etc.! I guess what I should say was that 2013 was a very, very busy year with many events disrupting my schedule and routine and in turn, affecting my reading and blogging. LOL, see my priorities here? :P So for 2014, I'm hoping for a healthy and peaceful year... for me and everyone :) And so far, so good because the only plan I have is to eventually re-do my closet... yes, my closet :P Let see if I can fit more books in there!

Once again, Happy New Year! May we all have an awesome 2014!