Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas is knocking at the door!

I bet most of you have heard of the motto "Winter is coming" from Game of Thrones right? Well forget that. This week, in Montreal, winter has arrived LOL. And with such a bang that it's here to stay ^_^;

So, how have everyone been? I bet everyone is busy, especially with the holidays coming up. I know I was! I started a review last Friday, but didn't have time to finish it. I was hoping to complete it this week, but just no time! In addition of curling, I had appointments to physio and family doctor (just regular check-up). I was supposed to have a work thing today and it was stressing me big time, but at the last minute, it got cancelled. Yay! Because this week-end is definitively not slowing down. We're having a Christmas Cafe Cheer tonight at the curling club, an in-house tournament tomorrow and Sunday, I'm hosting our annual gift exchange. Tired yet? LOL. Oh and the snowstorm we had this week definitively didn't help.

Anyway, I just wanted to share some Christmas spirit with you all :) We put up the tree last week-end and my sister has been in a baking mood. We were able to squeeze in writing some Christmas cards - still not done though, but at least, the ones outside of Canada are written. Hopefully, I'll mail them tonight. Also, tonight is pot luck, so I made some panna cotta. I'll post an image of the final result :) This week-end, I'm going to try to make green tea panna cotta with black sesame brittle. We'll see how it works out ;)

So hopefully, after this week-end, I'll be to finish my review. Want to take a guess at which book it is? And what about you? Are you in a Christmas mood? :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Radio silence...

Hi everyone!

Yes, I'm alive... I really have no excuse for not blogging other than I lost my blogging mojo ^_^; And quite frankly, I don't know if it's back. I don't even know if I miss blogging. That's kind of sad :( I miss the people, that's for sure. I miss discussions about books... but the pressure of putting up posts, of coming up with ideas, of hoping for comments. Not really. At the same time, I'm not ready to close the blog and call it quit. I guess we'll have to see where this goes.

So, what have I been up to? Well in my defense, back in September, I was really busy. After the shopping trip, I went to the States again at the end of the month. We had a family celebration - 70th wedding anniversary/95th birthday. Pretty awesome isn't it? It was a great week-end... Gorgeous weather, happy event and family. I haven't realized how much I missed that side of the family. Oh, and I totally made up my lack of shopping loot LOL.

Not long after we came back from Boston, I received some bad news from Hilcia. Her husband, John, was gravely ill. I love my blogger friends :) I've met quite a few of you while traveling :) However, aside from Ames, Hils is probably the blogger friend I know best because I've visited her quite a few times and stayed with her on those occasions. And every time, John opened his arms wide and welcomed us. He was an awesome man. So when we got the news, my sister and I wanted to see him and we made the drive on the Canadian Thanksgiving week-end. And I'm soooo happy we did it when we did, I'm so happy we got the chance to see John one last time before the disease took him away T_T

After we came back, well curling started up for me. Once again, I'm playing in three leagues this year. The difference though is that I play on Mondays instead of Sundays... and well that takes a toll on my sleep ^_^; The beginning of the season was kind of rough, but I think we started getting it together on all three of my teams and are now starting to play better and get some wins :) The only set-back was last week-end. There was a special tournament among the curling clubs in Montreal. My debutante team (5 years and under) entered it together and well, I got injured ^_^; Slipped, fell and landed on my shoulder. Got lucky that I didn't hurt myself too badly... However, I did injure my rotator cuff. Went to physio last week and have another appointment this week. It's still sore, but at least, hurt less... Seriously, from now on, I'll have to mark off November on my calendar. Something always seems to happen in November. Sigh.

Aside from curling, I've been crocheting a bit. I made a scarf for myself :) I hope to do a hat and
handwarmers that will match that scarf. There's another twisted cowl on my project list - I'm actually excited to start that one!! And my dad has just expressed interested in an infinity scarf in the past week. That's cool because it's right on time for Christmas!! So my sister and I will team up... My sister is going to knit the infinity scarf and I'll crochet a matching hat... Anyone has pattern suggestions? LOL. We went out and bought the yarn this afternoon. Hopefully, we'll be done in time. Speaking of Christmas, parties have already started! Our annual gift exchange is in two weeks... I'm hosting. And then, V decided to spoil us this year and we're having a Turducken on the 23rd :) Yum yum. Can't wait for the holiday season!!

And last, but not least, I have been reading :) Actually, my reading is going really well this year. I'm on track to hit my target this year which is 175 books. I've read some really good books too... so I'm hoping my blogging muse comes back so I can share with you all my thoughts :)

That's it from me for now :) Hopefully, more to come very soon!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September's shopping sprees

Hi everyone!

How are you doing? Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth like that ^_^; It wasn't my intention, but you know how it happens :(

It all started with a girls' shopping trip :) My sister and I have been planning to go to the States for some shopping for a while. Actually, we were supposed to go last year around Canada's Thanksgiving with Ames, but then, I got appendicitis. Consequently, the trip was postponed. We found out that some of my friends were interested. We didn't make it during the summer, so finally, set the date for September. Initially, we were 4... then 5, then 6 and finally, 7 :) Can you imagine how much damage 7 girls can do during a week-end's shopping spree? And boy, was it intense!! Two outlet malls (Merrimack and Wrentham), 1 regular mall, Walmart, Target, DSW, Bed Bath and Beyond, Barnes and Noble, Costco and Trader's Joe... all in 3 days!! Many of us needed a new pair of feet at the end of it all LOL.


We chose NH because there was no sale tax comparatively to 15% here in Quebec province. We also went to MA for one of the outlet mall and seriously, it was worth it all. The shopping, but also the fun we had!! Because we were 7 and none of us owned a van, we went in two cars... but we were prepared. Had GPS, paper routes from Google maps and walkie talkies. Those walkies came in soooo handy! Not only to communicate between cars, but also when we split up. It sounds a bit extreme to be walking around with walkie talkies, but when you can't use your cell phones...

In the end, I was the one who bought the least. I think part of it though is I was too busy taking pictures and videos. Still, my loot was not bad. Also, it helped some of my friends that went crazy LOL.

Not bad right? In addition to that, I have a top from DNKY... but it's all wrinkly right now ^_^; Seriously, it took me a week to recover from that week-end away :) But I would do it again in a heart beat :)

Not too long ago, we got news that one of the bookstores in downtown Montreal, Chapters, was closing on October 4th. While it saddened me a lot, it was kind of predictable. First, there's only really one bookstore chain of books in Canada and that's Chapters/Indigo... and in downtown Montreal, there's a Chapters and an Indigo on the same street, 3 blocks apart ^_^; With the way the industry is going, I think it is a good decision. Still sad though. Anyway, a few years ago, one of their other bookstores closed and there wasn't any sale of any kind... So I didn't expect Chapters to have a closing sale... but boy, was I wrong. It was 50% off on everything in store!! It started last Monday, but crap, I only found out on Wednesday! Still, Wednesday was enough to make enough damage LOL.

The first picture was actually what I bought on Wednesday night - in 20 minutes. And because I only had 20 minutes to browse on Wednesday, I told myself I had to go back on Thursday... Just in case I missed anything. Really, I didn't need to go back. I don't need more books... but 50% off!!! It NEVER happens. Never! Just couldn't help myself ^_^;

So there you have it. My shopping sprees for September... If that was all I spent money on, I'd be lucky... but nope. Curling season is coming up and open house is next week-end. And September is far from over. My poor wallet. Can you hear it moan and whimper? LOL.

What about you? How is September treating you?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Slipped Through the Cracks Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

A review, yay! LOL, I'm looking forward to a time when I won't be celebrating every time I put up a review anymore ^_^; Hopefully, that time will come soon :)

As you can see from the title of the post, I'm trying a new feature. I realized that because of my blogging blues, I didn't review a lot of books from my favorite series and authors, books that I really wanted to review. So I'm going to try to play catch up a little bit. I'm still trying to think up of a fun format, so it's different from my usual reviews... if you have any suggestion, feel free! For now though, here's what I came up with :)

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
published by Berkley (Ace) in July 2013
Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, Book #6

If you didn't know yet...

... panacea is a herbal mixture produced by European shapeshifters that can reduce chances of loupism          at birth and reverse midtransformation in 1/3 of teenagers, thus saving Pack children.

... the Pack is offered panacea if Curran is willing to arbitrate a dispute between three European packs. Basically, Desandra is the daughter of a powerful Alpha who used her as a pawn and married her to two different men of different packs. She is currently pregnant with twins from different fathers - her husband and ex-husband. Desandra's father has once promised a profitable mountain pass to his first grandchild, but now wants to renegade on the deal. Curran's job is to protect Desandra's life and witness the birth of the firstborn. Things get interesting and complicated when one of the babies appear to be more than just a wolf shapeshifter.

... knowing it's a trap, Curran and Kate still agree to go because 1) they need the panacea and 2) ever since the events of Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds, Kate has tipped her hand and thus, revealed her true identity to some. As such, it wouldn't hurt to take a leave of absence from Atlanta for a while. Going with them are 11 other shapeshifters and Saiman who is providing transportation.

... the person Kate wanted to avoid most by leaving Atlanta was Hugh. Of course, that won't be happening as he turns out to be their host.

... and conflict arises between the Beast Lord and his Consort as both are being courted: Curran by the daughter of an Alaskan pack Alpha and Kate, Hugh.

My Two Cents...

When I picked up Magic Rises, I really had high expectations. First, because the series has been going strong for me ever since Magic Strikes and second, the two-year gap between Magic Slays and Magic Rises. And while I did enjoy Magic Rises a lot... it wasn't the wowzer I wanted it to be :(

I thought the setting and premise of the book were really interesting, especially since it promised everything I enjoy in this series: good storyline, lots of action and politics with the bonus of seeing more of the world Ms Andrews has created. I really liked the idea of getting away from Atlanta as it added a wave of freshness to the series. It was also fun to see how Curran and Kate handled themselves, knowing they were walking in a trap... Hugh being their host was such a good twist too! LOL. Not only because it was ironic since he was the person Kate wanted to avoid, but it showed that no matter how prepared you are, you can't be ready for everything :) His presence also offered some balance in the storyline in the sense that it turned out not to be only a shapeshifter matter, but involved Kate more in the storyline. The political aspect of Magic Rises was also really well-executed. I always find the Pack's politics interesting because it's quite unique. To me, it has a different kind of intricacy because the shapeshifter world Ms Andrews has created involves more savagery. So to see this on a larger scale was interesting :) The whole mythology aspect of the story also worked for me. It just fit and added a layer of complexity to the storyline :) Oh and as usual, the action was top-notched :)

Few things that worked, but didn't  at the same time for me. Overall, I thought the pacing of Magic Rises was good... but in the last third of the book, it got a bit uneven. Personally, I thought the reprieve Curran and Kate got was a bit weird. I know it served a purpose, several actually, but the transitioning was off and that part of the story simply seemed to not fit and be a bit illogical. I mean, Kate disappears and the only person going after her is Curran? And when she shows up with Curran,  nobody seems to have been concerned? Also, the final scene for me was rushed. I don't know if there was another way out, but everything escalated too fast. By the way, what happened to the other packs? Did they all die? Finally, there was Chris, the new, utlra-intriguing character that Kate has taken under her wing. I liked that in Magic Rises, there were some casualties and ones that we, as fans of the series, feel deeply. It's never easy when it happens and I understand that we don't want those losses to be for nothing... but it was too convenient to have Chris save the day. Again, was there another option?

While I had some issues, most of them were minor and I could have ignored them easily. What really knocked down my enjoyment of Magic Rises though was the whole conflict between Curran and Kate involving Lorelei. Curran justifies it, but to me, it doesn't fly. I really hated that part of the storyline because I felt it was sooo unnecessary. Although I admit it did fit Curran's high-handedness - to take on the problem on his own without consulting Kate - the resulting behavior was annoying and I really despised it. To me, it was a blatant display of lack of trust :( Also, Kate has been working so hard to fit, to be Pack and he undermined everything. Sure, the shapeshipfters were all close friends to Kate, but still unacceptable with me. Apparently, Mr. Andrews is going to write Curran's POV of this Lorelei episode and all I feel is meh. I think the worst as well was that Kate couldn't have a showdown with Lorelei and be vindicated.

Final Say... B. All in all, I did enjoy Magic Rises; however, the expectations were soooo high  ^_^; Add in the relationship issue between Curran and Kate, and I feel Magic Rises fell a bit flat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's in a name?

All right... Still not a review, but this is a post I've been meaning to write for a while. The subject? Authors' names and pen names. But first, a little disclaimer: I didn't do any thorough research or anything. This is a feeling/opinion I've had for a while and wanted to voice. Just wondered if it was just me who had this feeling or if it was shared.

Who here checks the copyright page of their books and the name next to "Copyright @"? I don't systematically do it, but from time to time, I'll stumble across it... and it's always fun to find out the true name of authors :) It's also surprisingly easy when you think about it!

Just for fun, try to guess who are the following authors: Linda Howington, Loretta Chekani, Susan Macias Redmond, Julie Koca, Jodi Koumalats, P.F. Besley, Cheryl Griffin and Katherine Smith.

It's no secret that many authors choose to go with a pen name and there are many reasons to do so. On top of my head, there's privacy... but also clearly, marketing. Making your name sound more American/generic, choosing a pen name to fit a genre specifically, hiding your gender... Also, how many authors we've heard of who write multiple fiction genres or sub-genres and therefore need different pen names: Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, J.R. Ward and Jessica Bird, Sylvia Day and S.J. Day and Livia Dare. Or authors who need a start fresh?

For whatever reasons the authors do it, it's valid and all very interesting :) And I bet a lot of thoughts go into it choosing a pen name... So what's my issue? Why am I writing this post? Well... Is it me or recently, there's been a lot of similar names popping up? It's as if new authors are purposely choosing pen names that are similar to established authors to confuse the readers :( I'll see posts on blogs and forums and be like: "Oh, I didn't know this author had a new book out" and turns out I read the author's names too quickly. I'm sure that for some authors, they want to use as close as their real name as possible... so I'm not ranting at all the Jennifers or Susans since I know they are popular names. But in some case, I wonder. For example, this morning, I came across Holly Kinsella. Of course, it reminded me of Sophie Kinsella. Was that the purpose? If you had the chance to choose your pen name, wouldn't you try to pick something as unique as possible? It's already hard to keep titles and covers straight, but now, authors' names too?! And it seems more prominent because of all the self-publishing going on...

Perhaps I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but it's something I noticed lately and it's been on my mind. So I thought I'd share and see what were your thoughts :) Agree, disagree, no opinion? How do you feel about that?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Slowly, but surely, I'm getting back in :) I have a buddy review up over at Breezing Through with Rowena :) Speaking of buddy reviews, I'm going to try to update my sidebar and Goodreads as frequently as possible... If you see any books you'd be interested to discuss, you know where to find me! I'm in to buddy review any books :) Anyway, back on the subject. The buddy review is for Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson and you can click here to find it :)

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
published by Simon & Schuster in May 2014
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping?
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Series: None

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Busy week-end!

Hi everyone!

Wassup? As usual, I had plans to blog... but you know what happens to plans :) Out the window, most of the time ^_^: I knew I had a busy week-end, which is why I took Friday and Monday off... but it turned out a lot busier than I expected. Anyway, since I don't have any reviews, I thought I'd share some pictures :)

Saturday was the annual BBQ. You know which one I'm taking about :) Before one can BBQ though, one must buy food, drinks and stuff. And that's how I spent my Friday. I kid you not, I was grocery shopping the whole day on Friday... and I wasn't even in charge of the meat! Had some bad luck, but eventually pulled it off :)

As usual, we had lots of food and lots of leftovers :) But I prefer that than running out of something. The weather was also perfect for a BBQ and we had lots of fun! One tiny little issue was wasps. I noticed last week that we had a lot of wasps under the awning... After inspection, turns out that we had a hidden nest! Not a bit one, but nobody wants to mess with wasps. Especially after what happened to our mayor :( Last month, our mayor died after being attacked by wasps after she had stepped on their nest! So that's why instead of being on the patio, we were in the yard. It was good though since we were in the shade and there was a lot more space! :) I think that's where we'll be from now on... Unless it rains.

In case you're wondering about the wasps, we called an exterminator on Monday. We had a nest in the attic when I was in high school... It started poking holes in the walls and was coming in my parents' room. Back then, my dad took care of it, but got stung several times... So my sister and I called the exterminator because we were not taking any chance. Hopefully, it's all taken care of now... The only issue is that it's a hidden nest, so they couldn't remove it. We'll keep an eye on it for now.

On Sunday, a friend organized a pontoon boat party. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be on a boat because of my vertigo, but it turned out to be a lot of fun! It was a very long day though because we were at Mont Tremblant and that's 1.5 hour drive... and had to be there for 10am. We had the boat from 11am to 3pm and the weather was gorgeous. Really looking forward to the next time :)

One of our friends has recently bought a selfie stick and she had the chance to test it out :)

 I'd say it was a success ;)

So really, on Monday, I was pooped and so happy I had the day off!! And now, hopefully, back to blogging :)

How was your week-end?