Saturday, January 07, 2017

2016 in numbers...

Me reading in Trier, Germany - June 2016

While my blogging has gone down in the past years, there's been one constant: the numbers post :) So to continue my streak, here is the 7th edition!

Number of books read


The year before, I read 153 books with a goal of 180. Taking in account three weddings, travels and curling, I lowered my objective to 160 for 2016. I think I would've been close to my objective, even though everything turned out to be more intensive than I expected, but I forgot something really important: the Rio Olympics. And yes, it did affect my reading! LOL. I was updating my spreadsheet earlier this week and in had this huge gap in August - no books read between August 5 and 23! I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out what I did, if I forgot to log any books... and suddenly, the light went on: the Olympics! So lots of distractions in 2016 :)

Overall, I'm okay with 132 books read. A bit disappointed because it's the lowest number since I've started keeping track, but happy since it's over 100 books. As I mentioned above, lots of distractions this year and as a result, I felt I never really got into a good reading rhythm. There was always something around the corner to break any rhythm. Finally, a lack of excitement... My list of auto-buy authors seem to be down to its core and a few of those authors did not have any releases. In addition, with my lack of blogging, I've been out of the loop when it comes to new authors and book buzz. All combined, I felt this year was quite underwhelming and the eternal question "what to read next" did not go away.

I do have high hopes that 2017 will end the rut though!! I have a list of most anticipated books in the work that I'm excited to share - hopefully soon LOL. As for my reading goal, I'm keeping it at 160 books. What can I say, I'm an optimist :) With one wedding, one cruise and lots of curling planned for 2017, I still think 160 books is achievable. However, the most important in 2017 will be to have fun :)

Number of books bought

I was not very diligent this year, so my number for this section is not accurate. The best I could do was go back to my order history and tabulated those numbers. The break-down is as followed:

  • Bought print online: 18
  • Bought print in-store: 15-20*
  • Bought e-books: 12

For a grand total of...


Wow, how things have changed... I can't believe that I bought so little books this year. I might be off by 10 books, but even then,  kind of sad :( Guess that's life though, things change and my book buying habits definitively have. I think it can be in part attributed to bookstores also changing. There's definitively less promotions and the discounts online are not what they used to be. As a result, I stick to my auto-buy authors list and end up borrowing a lot and only buying books that I've really enjoyed to support the authors.

What did I read

Contemporary romance: 50
Young Adult: 25  (Contemporary: 19, Mystery: 3, Fantasy: 3)
Urban Fantasy: 12
New Adult (Contemporary): 11
Fantasy: 8
Romantic Suspense: 7
Historical romance (Regency): 6
Paranormal romance: 5
Mystery/Thriller/Cosy Mystery: 4
m/m: 3
Women's fiction: 1

And the trend continues! My favorite genre has always been contemporary romance and it remains so in 2016. The big surprise for me is the number of YA books I read... 25!? How did that happen? LOL. If I have to come up with an explanation for it, I think it's because the authors of contemporary YA have more freedom than romance authors. As a romance reader, I expect certain things from a romance book and the authors know it and have to adhere to it, thus inevitably creating some predictability. I'm not saying YA are not predictable, but there is less expectations/limitations. If a main character dies, there will be less outcry. If the H/H don't end up together, well they're young - who knows what will happen in the future and anyway, not sure they would have stayed together forever. With more freedom, YA authors can shake things up, be more original, try different things and styles... and I think that's what I was looking for in 2016, some refreshing reads to spur my reading.

At the same time, my hunt for new urban fantasy and fantasy series continue. I love series such as Kate Daniels, the Dresden Files and I'm always on the look-out for new ones. Also hoping to find more romantic suspense books featuring cops or FBI agents. Have a weakness for those :P

As for my historical romance reading, it's probably at its lowest ever. It's funny because most of the ones I read, I enjoy... but they're all from auto-buy authors. I haven't had the urge to pick up outside of that selection and I don't know what it's going to take to make me to.

For the other genres, the numbers are pretty consistent with last year.

Who published them

1. Penguin (all imprints): 27
1. Self-published: 27
3. Macmillan (all imprints): 13
4. Harlequin + Carina Press: 12
5. Harpercollins (all imprints): 10
6. Hachette (all imprints): 8
7. Simon & Schuster: 7
8. Kensington: 5
8. Sourcebooks: 5
10. Amazon: 3
10. DAW: 3
10. Scholastic: 3
13. Entangled:2
14. Bloomsbury: 1
14. Dreamspinner: 1
14. Hyperion: 1
14. Random House: 1
14. Samhain: 1
14. Sky Pony Press: 1
14. Other: 1

The numbers are pretty consistent with last year with Penguin and self-published way ahead. For self-published books, I think it's because self-published authors can release more books in a year than with regular publishers, so it skews that number :) Not that I'm complaining because I'm very selective when it comes to self-published authors and so, that means more books by authors I enjoy :)

I'm still very reluctant to step out from the traditional publishers. Partly because I know them - I know which imprints I like, which don't work for me. Also, in my mind - and I might be wrong, going through traditional publishers is a more rigorous process and they are more selective when they pick new authors.

When they were published

2016: 111 (84.1%)
2015; 12
2014: 1
2013: 1
2012: 1
2011: 2
2009: 2
2008: 2
2006: 1

I've alwaysbeen a very current reader and 2016 was no different. What helps is that I'm pretty much up-to-date on all my series, so I'm always waiting for the new installment to come out and as soon it does, I read it :) And books I don't get to right away fall off my radar, kind of like ... "out of sight, out of mind." At least this year, I did go back further than 2012! Mostly because I was looking up specific reads.

How much did I enjoy the books

A: 4    (1 A, 3 A-)
B: 69  (18 B+, 32 B, 19 B-)
C: 58  (17 C+, 31 C, 10 C-)
D: 1

Only 4 As books, same as last year.... Technically though, it's better than last year since I read less books. Know what I mean? In any case, this just contributes to the feeling of an underwhelming reading year.

I have a reputation for being a tough grader... but honestly, I think I'm not tough enough. I was filling my spreadsheet and in many instances, I had to lower the grade that I originally given. In addition, I feel like I'm not objective enough. I think I'm easier with authors that I like - have difficulty giving a harsher grade :( Is it only me?

Random numbers

  • I wrote 13 reviews in 2016. Given how sparingly I blogged, 13 is good :) After all, it's 4x more than in 2015 :P At least, thanks to Ames' 30 Days Blogging challenge, I have more than 16 posts :P
  • New-to-me authors: 36 - Another pretty consistent number. This is good, because it means I'm taking risks in my reading :)
  • Part of a series: 97 - Last year, I read 137 books part of a series... To put things in perspective, I read 132 books this year. So proportionally, I think this number is down from 2015... but I know why!! Because most YA books I read were stand-alones :) 

That's it for me :) No real surprise in 2016 except perhaps for the number of books bought ^_^; Otherwise, I've been pretty consistent over the years... which makes me wonder, is this post still relevant? Do you still find it interesting?

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!
May 2017 be awesome!
Full of great moments and good books :)

Yep, it's me... I'm alive LOL. How have you all been?

I haven't written anything since August and was resigned for this to be the end of my blog. I really thought that was it. I've kind of disconnected - still reading, but no longer blogging, thinking of blogging or blog-hopping. To tell you the truth, I haven't missed it that much ^_^; Life is just so busy - sometimes with fun stuff, but most of the time, with routine. Then, I was off during the holidays, had a bit of spare time and decided to check out everyone's recaps for 2016... and here I am again LOL. There's just something about reading everyone's recaps, best of lists and anticipated books for 2017 posts that stirs up my blogging muse and make me want to post. So that's what I'm going to do :)

I think in the past few years, I've forgotten that reading and blogging were for fun. I put a lot of pressure onto myself to read more and review. I also cared a lot about comments and numbers. I'm not saying that it's all going to change, that this is a new beginning... because I've said it all before. Obviously, I hope that some people are still/will read my blog :) However, I know my days of blogging 3-4x/week are gone... and that the posts will most probably be quite infrequent. So new attitude needed. No goals, no promises... let's just go with the flow :)

Let 2017 be a good year in every aspect :)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan

Disclaimer: I've received Sunset in Central Park as an eARC from Netgalley

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan
published by Harlequin (HQN Books) in August 2016
In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it's been right under your nose all along…

Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race…

Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: From Manhattan with Love, Book #2

The Story: After witnessing her parents' divorce and seeing how it transformed her mother, Frankie Cole doesn't believe in love. She's actually quite anti-love; not the best stance when you are co-owner of an event and concierge company whose bulk of business mainly have to do with weddings, engagement parties and bridal showers. So when Matt Walker - best friend's older brother and landlord - needs a floral designer to complete the landscape of a roof garden, Frankie jumps on the occasion to get away from all the romance for the summer.

Matt Walker has been in love with Frankie for years, but had to play it cool because he knows Frankie's views on love. However, Matt's patience has run out and he's decided that now is the time to make his move as they will be spending more time together for work.

My Opinion: I read the first book in the series, Sleepless in Manhattan, and liked it well enough to continue the series. The truth is the one I really want to read is Eva's book, but it's not coming till November. So for now, I went with Sunset in Central Park, figuring that it'd be fine since I usually like grumpy/prickly characters... but I was wrong ^_^; Now, I'm going to sound like the heroine scrooge because this will be the second book in a row that I review where I didn't like the heroine :(

Basically, Frankie has issues. One of them is her mother who, after the divorce, decided to boost her confidence by having sex with any willing male, even if it meant affairs with married men and coming onto Frankie's friends (notably Matt and Jake). Even now, she still hooks up with men younger than Frankie and is not shy about sharing details. In short, Frankie is mortified and has moved away from her hometown to escape a bad reputation and all the rumors. She likes New York City for its anonymity. She's also determined to be the complete opposite of her mother - stays away from men, tries to look unattractive and scoffs at romance. While I understood where the issues stem from and sympathized with Frankie, I have to admit I didn't like Frankie much. I just never connected with her and to a certain extent, found her annoying. Or actually, immature. She went out of her way to avoid/run away from things that bothered her - her mother and men. Her grumpiness was actually a front, an armor to keep people away. That's fine at first, but don't you eventually have to grow up and confront reality? How long can you keep running? All those panicky moments because she didn't know how to deal with Matt's attention and her attraction to him because she hadn't let herself feel like an adult. I don't know, I just felt Frankie should have been at a point where she should have worked out some of her issues already... and I wish she'd have gotten there on her own and not because of Matt's nudging. Later in the story, readers find out that there's more to Frankie's issues... but by that point, I didn't care anymore. And one last thing... glasses are bad disguise and don't make you look unattractive.

Aside from Frankie, I also had some issues with the storyline... First, I thought it was really unrealistic to have Frankie go to Puffin Island - their hometown - to attend a wedding with Matt. Those are like the two things she hates the most and I can't see her doing them unless it was unavoidable and it wasn't. I just didn't buy it. I also thought it was a bit tactless of Matt to ask her to do it knowing how she felt. Besides, the series is supposed to take place in New York City... My second niggle with them going to Puffin Island is... sometimes, cross-over between series are fun; unfortunately, they don't always work. Puffin Island was Ms Morgan's last trilogy before this one and frankly, I didn't read it all. It didn't hold my interest then and it didn't now either. Personally, I found it pointless to have them in this book ^_^; It would have been better to focus on Matt and Frankie or the current trilogy's characters instead of bringing back previous characters just for a peek. Finally, the secondary story with Matt's employee was meh. I felt it didn't add much to the romance other than show was a great guy Matt was.

Last but not least, I thought Matt was a great hero. Very patient and caring guy - perhaps a bit too much. I did think it was tactless for him to bring Frankie back to Puffin Island, but he did it to help her out. He's the perfect beta hero. I also enjoyed the friendships in this book a lot. Whether it was between the guys or the girls or the girls and guys :) And the sequel baiting did work because I still want to read Eva's book!

My Grade: C-. Perhaps I was in a bad mood when I read Sunset in Central Park, but this one just didn't work for me on many front. However, I know I'm going to be in the minority, so if you've enjoyed Ms Morgan's writing, don't let my review deter you :P

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

End of an era...

So I just found out tonight that Bleach is over. Bleach is one of the first manga I've ever read. I followed that series for years... and have about 40 volumes at home. Yes, I eventually lost interest or more accurately, didn't follow as obsessively as I used to... but to know that after 15 years, Bleach has come to an end... It truly feels like the end of an era.

I find that the end of a series is always emotional. You never want it to be over, you always want more of the characters you've come to love so much. The longer the series has gone on, the more heart-wrenching the end is... because in many instances, the mangaka is asked to wrap up the series due to loss of popularity/decrease in ratings and therefore, the ending is rushed and not exactly what the mangaka has envisioned :( This is exactly the case with Bleach. Lots of unanswered questions, sigh.

Oh well. We don't get a say :( Now that it's over, perhaps I'll go back and read the parts that I haven't. Even though I haven't been following the series as closely in the past few years, I'm going to miss Bleach, know that it's over... The plot might not have been as strong and stellar as from the beginning, but the art has :)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Olympic Games: Days 12-16

The Olympics are over T_T I'm happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I really enjoyed the games this time around. I think it's the fact that I was practically in the same time zone, so got to watch a lot of events live. Also, for many athletes, it wasn't their first game and therefore, I was familiar with a lot of them... so it just added a little something. There were so many good moments and good performances. I'm sad because it's over. Although I have to admit that by Sunday, I think I was ready for it to be over LOL.

My sister and I joke at every Olympic games about Canada being best at finishing 4th ^_^; Fourth place is always tough, but I think it's even tougher at the Olympic games because they come every 4 years... and Rio Olympics wasn't an exception. We probably had close to 10 4th place finish... and every one of them were heart-breaking. Especially the last night of athletics where we got 3 and all of them were personal/season best performances. Perhaps we care too much about medals? What really matters is the athletes doing the best they could and being happy with their own performances...

Some of my highlights:

1. Ryan Cochrane and Hilary Caldwell

This is somewhat bittersweet. For the past 8 years, Ryan Cochrane has been the pillar of Team Canada's swimming team. He's been the one to make it on the podium consistently at all the important events. He got bronze in Beijing and silver in London. This Olympics, he really wanted to make it on the podium in honor of his coach who passed away last year... but alas, it didn't happen. It's most probably his last Olympics and I'm so sad :( Hilary Caldwell had the same coach as Ryan and the same goal. She emerged in 2013 and has been quite consistent ever since. It was just really beautiful to see the two of them swim in memory of their coach.

2. Evan Dunfee

It sounds weird, but one of the most interesting event I got to watch this Olympics was the men's 50km walk. 50km walk!! And do you know how fast they walked that?! About 3h40m!! Crazy! LOL. The walk event actually caught my attention at last year's world championship, so I knew to look out for it at the Olympics. Anyway, Evan Dunfee... Wow. Evan came in 4th which is impressive in itself, but what amazed me even more was the man itself: his sportsmanship and his integrity. Halfway through the walk, everyone thought the Olympic champion was already determined and the rest of the field would be fighting for silver and bronze as world record holder, the Frenchman Yohann Diniz had taken over a 1.5 minute lead. However, he started having cramps and other issues and had to stop. When Evan who was leading the chase group took over, he actually pat Yohann on the back and encouraged him to continue. That was already an amazing gesture... but there's more. Two kilometers before the finish line, Evan was fighting for the bronze with Japanese walk racer Hirooki Arai. Evan passed Arai, but the Japanese came back. When he did, he bumped into Evan... disrupting Evan's rhythm. Don't know if you've ever seen it, but these walkers walk funny LOL. And when they've been doing it for more than 4 hours, they're into this rhythm... and once disrupted, it's really hard to get back into it. So Hirooki got bronze and Evan 4th place. However, the race officials decided to disqualify Hirooki for the bump... giving Evan the bronze. The Japanese athletics committee protested and Hirooki was re-instated and got back his bronze medal and Evan was bumped down. It was Evan's decision whether to lodge a protest or not and he decided against. After reviewing the tape, he thought the officials' decision was fair - that Hirooki didn't mean the bump... and also, he was happy and proud of his race and didn't want a medal that way. Seriously, how many athletes would have acted the way Evan did? and for that, he's earned my respect. I'll forever support him LOL. And look at him and Hirooki at the closing ceremony!!

3. Catharine Pendrel

In London, Catharine Pendrel was the favorite to win, but came in 9th. I don't know what was the expectations for Rio, but race didn't start well because she was involved in a crash. At one point, she was 15th and had to come back from behind to win bronze... She displayed such grit and determination and was simply awesome. Just too unfortunate that her fellow Canadian, Emily Batty, was 4th...

There were tons of other moments that were great for me and not just from team Canada... but it'd be too long to list them all :) Lots of high emotions and good performances. I'm already looking forward to Tokyo 2020!!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book Haul - Doing maths at the bookstore

It's crazy how things change so fast and sometimes, you don't even realize it. A few years ago, I used to go to the bookstore at least once a week. I might not have bought something every time, but I'd at least browse the aisles. Sometime, even sit and page through books! Nowadays, it's pretty much hit and run when I step in a bookstore. I know exactly what I want and after purchasing it, I'm out. And these trips are even rarer now that prices of books have increased. How things have changed...

There's been a promotion at Indigo: buy 40$ and get a 10$ card... I've been meaning to go to the bookstore, but I've been so involved in the Olympics I almost forgot! Finally remembered last night and checked out what I could buy LOL. Had a list and decided to hit the bookstore during my lunch break. One of the bookstores - the one near the curling club - had a few more books that I wanted in comparison to the one near my house, so that's where I went. I started gathering the books that it had and the other store didn't... and realize I should get all the books there! Why go to another bookstore? LOL. Funny how sometimes, you're so focused on certain things and can't look past it. So I started gathering the books and realized I could make three purchases of 40$! Yay! Except I was missing 2 books... and it was a challenge to decide what books to buy to fill that gap. Then, it was putting the right books together so I could be over 40$ with the smallest margin possible LOL.

Anyway, here are the books:

And I did really good putting the right books together, because I paid 40.61$, 39.63$ and 38.72$ respectively. (I had to reach 40$ before the Ireward discount of 10% :P) Yay me! and I hit the jackpot because some of the books are technically not out yet :)

So now, I have 3 10$ cards to use... Guess what I'm pre-ordering? :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I've become...

... a shoeaholic!!

I used to laugh at people who bought so many shoes and had closet full of them. I mean, how many shoes can you wear aat once? However, in the past few years, I've finally grown out of my running shoes... and started to accumulate quite a few pairs. Gotta have the right shoes with the right outfit for the right occasion!

So yesterday, I didn't put up my post because I finally fell asleep! I've been staying up really late in the past couple of weeks... but there was a warehouse sale for Toms shoes which my sister and I went. We spent about an hour there and I guess the heat and looking for shoes and the best deal finally tired me out :)

The prices were okay. We saved about 50% on each pair of shoes. Here is what we got:

The upper row are mine and the bottom row, my sister's. The shoes were divided by sizes, but dumped into boxes. As a result, you really had to go through the boxes to find shoes. Some models were a lot rarer than others. The flats went particularly fast and those black flats - I found them in a corner and there were the only pair I saw. My sister was also looking for flats. Unfortunately, did not find any in her size; however, she did see a lady holding a red/orange pair she liked. After stalking the FB page and learning that they were re-stocking everyday, we decided to go again today... but earlier than after work. I think the strategy worked, because here is our 2nd haul:

The two bottom pairs are mine, and the six others are my sister... LOL. She did find the red/orange flats! Those shoes were really her goal today and she was lucky she found any! Because besides the pair we bought, I didn't see any other... and she was actually lucky to get her hand on these, since at first, she only found the left foot! I didn't think we'd find the right foot, but I guess it was meant to be :) Then, she started finding the other pairs... and just couldn't choose LOL.

So yep, we're okay for shoes for a few years...