Life Lately



Gosh. It’s been ages since I’ve shown my shadow here on the blog. Well, I’m not going to apologize for the 2,357th time because I can’t seem to find my groove and saying sorry would only proved to be fruitless. I am still unable to find traction in this crazy life I seem to live now. But I think it’s enough that I do find it in me to pop in from time to time.

The Year That Never Happened

Needless to say, my 2017 ended with a weak ‘poof’. I didn’t meet my goal of 150 books. And I barely blogged in the latter half of the year. But despite all that, I’m still pretty happy that I read as much as I was able to. Granted, I’ve done a lot of re-reading old favourites but reading is reading. I would worry when I no longer feel the need to read, period. As such books are still my constant company. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, where I’m going. I always have a book or two within reach. I still visit the bookstore from time to time but because I’ve been so out of the loop, I don’t know what’s out and what’s good nowadays. Hopefully, I’ll be more aware this year.

Still Going

Health-wise, I’m on the latter end of my fitness goal. I have 15 lbs left to lose. I’m down 60 lbs since I started in May. I’m still going doing boot camp classes 4 times a day, 6 days a week. My goal this year is to run. I’ve started running for 20 minutes before and after my classes. I’m hoping to gain enough endurance to bump up my speed (currently at 5.0 on my treadmill). I am at my healthiest I’ve ever been and happiest with my body. I used to be so adverse to selfies, but one of the side effects of weight loss is I’ve gained self confidence. My gym helped me break out of my shell. I put myself out there; I help new members. I gained so many friends just by being a member of my gym. Honestly, it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. And I’ll forever be grateful.

2018 Read Blog Read Blog Read Blog

I’ve lessened my reading goal to 100 instead of 150. Besides the fact that I haven’t got room for more physical books, I’m going to be relying heavily on audio books this year. I’ll probably share my year in books sometime in the near future.

Thanks for sticking around.

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson: The Inspiration

This is a question writers get asked all the time. And some writers have really great, specific answers. Like: I was sitting on a bus and I saw a dog with a wooden leg and decided to write about wooden-legged, bus-riding dogs: their history and culture. But for a lot of writers, myself included, the inspiration for a novel, or indeed the inspiration to write in general, is a much more airy-fairy, metaphysical thing that’s hard to pin down.

My own novel, The Wolves of Winter, had a lot of different inspirations. I had the setting in mind: I wanted a snowy, post-apocalyptic Yukon. I wanted a father/daughter relationship that was prevalent (due to having a young daughter myself). And I wanted it to be part survival story, part coming of age story, part literary tale, part epic post-apocalyptic madness.

So why did I write what I did? Is it my passion for the outdoors? Is it the fact that I grew up on fantasy novels and love the blend of literary/fantasy or literary/science fiction? Is it my own family dynamics? Yes. Of course. The problem is, it’s all of those things. It’s everything that makes me who I am. From my memories to my passions, from the books I read to the movies I watch, from the myriad of people in my life to the myriad of personalities in my head. It’s everything.

So when an author tells you about that moment on the bus with the wooden-legged dog, I think she really is telling you the truth. BUT, I very much doubt it’s the whole truth. Maybe the dog was the spark that lit the fire, but the fire doesn’t burn without a giant pile of wood that’s already there. Books are like people, they’re messy things. They’re a bringing together of ideas and passions and wishes and fears. It’s why writing is so interesting. It’s why reading is so interesting. You never know what your readers are going to get out of your novel; you might not even know what you’re going to get out of it. While you thought you were writing a book about crippled dogs, in the end, you realize what actually inspired you to write was your deep-seeded fear of public transportation.

B  O  O  K    R  E  V  I  E  W  – 4 out of 5 Stars

The Wolves of Winter is a surprisingly fast read. I say that because, for all intents and purposes, it’s a book set in the post-apocalyptic Arctic where the environment enhances the feel of the desolation of the times. Whereas with other books in this genre tend to build a largesse narrative explaining the genesis of the world that they come to know, the bones of The Wolves of Winter is highly tangible; easily imaginable. I feel like we’re living in it now. The delicate global politics that only become even more so with the new American administration, it is indeed even more plausible now.

With the majority of the US population wiped out by a strain of Asian Flu, the McBrides fled to the remote Alaskan wilderness at first. But when the disease extended its reaches, they had very little choice but to flee even further up North. For years, it had only been Gwendolyn and what’s left of her family. They’d survived by hunting, foraging, and preserving their food for the bitter winter. Life was a cycle of monotonous humdrum until a fugitive named, Jax appeared in their midst. Suddenly, the quiet life of the town of McBrides – population 5 – had become far from boring.

Tyrell Johnson’s debut novel is a page-turner. There wasn’t a second when you’d lose interest in the goings on of Gwendolyn’s life. While she spent a lot of time immersed in her own self (for lack of company), her quiet introspective about the world and how it came to be pulled me that much deeper into the story.

There are a few aspects of the story that I wish was explored further, however. Ramsey, for one, had me speculating about his sexuality and his debilitating shyness when confronted with sex. Because he’s the only person not related to the McBride’s that’s close to Lynn’s age, it was only fitting that they’d be paired in all sense of the word. But any attempts at anything sexual with Lynn only led to tears and mortification. And yet, as soon as Jax entered the scene, Ramsey exuded attitudes attributable to jealousy.

There was also the appearance of white animals (foxes…crows) that I thought should’ve been better explained other than an adaptation to the new global climate of sorts. It felt like an afterthought that had no significance to the story at all. I also needed to read more about Jax’s abilities. I felt that it was one of this book’s strong points.

Regardless, I enjoyed this novel immensely. I’ve always loved reading post-apocalyptic novels, and Johnson’s debut hits all the right spots. It’s a page-flipper, a little desperate and sweet at times, but also violent. I especially loved Gwendolyn’s relationship with her father. They were close and was each other’s best friend. Lynn for her part is a strong character; stubborn and determined. Protective of those she loves. She is fearless and fierce and does what she can to adapt to a world that left her very little choice but to survive.

Overall, this was an outstanding debut. Vivid and bleak; exciting and tender at times.

Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018 | Simon & Schuster Canada | Amazon | Chapters Indigo | Book Depository |

[730]: Hardcover by Jamie K. Schmidt

by Jamie K. Schmidt
November 21st, 2017
Loveswept | Via Netgalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Such a decadent read! I’ve read this a number of times because it’s just one of those books that you wouldn’t be able to help yourself from visiting and revisiting. It was funny, at times romantic and sexy as hell. I had no expectations whatsoever when I requested this book from Loveswept. Man, what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. Easily one of my favourite erotic romance reads this year.

So we’ve got a couple of characters who had known each other since they were in high school. You can say they pretty much grew in the same affluent circle. But both veered in the opposite directions growing up. Dawn is a rebel through and through. Just like any teens, she rebelled against her family but not for the absence of a cause. She was made to become a black sheep when nothing ever pleased her father. She was not one to conform (even though she tried her hardest at first). Rory, on the other hand, lived to please his family. As such he became successful while Dawn struggled in her career.

Several years later, their paths meet again when Rory, now a billionaire was tasked to buy off the current tenants on the coastal and touristy town of Haven. Dawn did not make his job easy, but as these stories go, their reunion was ripe with sexual tension that neither could deny, let alone stop.

I love Dawn. She’s an independent woman who was dealt with some bad cards. But that didn’t stop her from living and pursuing what she wants out of life. Her store was struggling so when Rory made her an offer that a normal person couldn’t refuse, Dawn didn’t jump in head first. She’s upfront, candid, and she fights for herself. It would’ve been easy to lean on Rory (who was a billionaire, of all things) but she didn’t. She lived the life she wanted even though it almost cost her dearly.

This book is fire, y’all. It sizzles in the romance/sex department. Dawn and Rory’s chemistry was off the charts aided by a humorous banter and plenty of attraction on both sides. It almost made me cry, too. There’s a very touching note at the end about the author’s cat that almost did me in. Lol. Y’all, if you’re on a lookout for an outstanding romance reads, please consider this book. It was absolutely amazing!

[729]: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Words in Deep Blue
by Cath Crowley
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Stand Alone
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Dude. Aussie authors are awesome. I’ve been a fan of Cath Crowley when I read Graffiti Moon many moons ago. Ever since then, I’ve waited upon bated breath for each of her brilliant books. Sadly, I’ve only ever read one other book of hers (A Little Wanting Song) so I was freaking excited to learn that Words in Deep Blue was being released in North America as well. Man, she’s awesome. I’m convinced that she drinks in the same fountain of brilliance as my beloved Melina Marchetta. Sigh.

As a book lover, I can only recall one instance when I didn’t enjoy a book set in a bookstore. 99% of the time, romances that start and were cultivated in this consecrated ground is a huge draw. I suppose it’s like being in familiar space, mingling with the familiar crowds. But ultimately, it’s the characters prowling the aisles that draw us in. The deep thinkers, the romantics, and the lover of words make for an interesting cast.

Well, there wasn’t a shortage of such characters in Words in Deep Blue. Henry, for example, is a combination of a romantic (albeit, a little blind) and a lover of the written word. His family owns the bookstore that just so happens to have The Letter Library; a special shelf of books containing personal notes left by people looking to connect, reconnect or simply write letters to the void. Horrifyingly enough, the notes are written within the pages of the books.

One of these books contained a letter left for Henry by Rachel. A girl who has loved Henry from afar. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Because she moved away soon after she realized Henry either never got the message or ignored her completely. Fast forward to a few years and Rachel was not the same person. Dealing with the grief of losing her brother and losing track of what’s left of her family. In the meantime, Henry was also going through a tumult of changes in his life. His girlfriend unexpectedly broke up with him and his parents just announced that they’re selling the bookstore.

The thing about these Australian authors is that they’re able to tap into the emotions that would make their stories even more poignant, you know? I can’t figure out what it is, but for some reason, I’m always left raw by the time I flip to the last page. Regardless of whether or not it had an HEA. The same goes for this book. I vacillated between sadness, happiness, anger, and deep annoyance throughout the entire process.

It is, by all sense of the word, a book about grief and how to deal. In Rachel’s case, she simply stopped living the same  could be said of her mother. It’s like they forgot how to since the death of her brother. In Henry’s case, it’s the death of relationships. His and his parents. It took me a bit to forgive Henry for being so hung up on his ex when his ex clearly didn’t give a shit but Rachel’s reintroduction in his life slowly helped him somehow.

There are bits of poignant stories in the background as well. Through The Letter Library, we are introduced to people and their stories of heartbreaks, lost loves, and second chances. Truly, Cath Crowley belongs in the annals of prolific Aussie writers that crosses borders and oceans. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time and I will continue to look forward to her books in years to come.

[728]: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks
by Emily Barr
Publication Date: January 12th, 2017
Stand Alone
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

This book was repetitive af. But then again, that was the point. I suppose it only makes sense when you have a character who goes through a memory reset of sorts as soon as she falls asleep. And such is the state of Flora Banks’ life.

It’s odd, disconcerting, and sad as hell. I actually felt bad for Flora. It’s tough navigating through life without a memory of what happened the day before. So she writes these little reminders for herself. Also, with her memory as frail as it is, what kind of parents would leave her alone?! I mean, I get that they have another child that was in a perilous medical emergency but come on. Leaving her in the care of another teen is simply irresponsible. Especially when Flora ended up being alone for the duration of their being away due to some unforeseen events.

So her brain doesn’t have a great memory bank to begin with. Anything she does the day before she forgets. But when she kisses this boy, the memory stuck. What does our Flora do? She goes off on her own to find this boy (who, by the way was her bff’s boyfriend) in the Arctic, no less! The freaking ARCTIC, yo. As a mom, I was terrified for her. The lengths she went through to find this boy was just insanity. I also get that this lone memory of her kissing the boy was sort of an anchor she held on to, but grrrl. GRRRL. Seriously. Who does that?! I cannot with this girl.

Back to the repetitive nature of this book, it was really a great representation of her brain disorder. She’s like, Dory, ya know? So she reads this notebook of her life that her mom wrote for her every morning so she’ll remember who she is. But still. It got tiresome so fast that I started skimming as soon as she starts rehashing her life like a Groundhog Day that never ends. Flora also has this uncanny child-like voice. Since she hasn’t been able to hold a memory since she was 10 years old, her describing what went on between her and the boy left me feeling a little strange.

In the end, the book didn’t do it for me. I vacillated between horrification at her parents who left her alone, and strange wonder at a girl who was brave enough to go after the one thing that made her feel “normal” for once.

Waiting on Wednesday [15]: November Releases


I know we’re halfway to November already so this post might just be a bit late as all of the books on my list are already out in the wild. But as an effort to keep my consistency going again, I wanted to make sure to make this becomes a thing on the blog again.

So today, I have a few books that are on my wishlist. It’s so crazy how things have changed for me this year. Before, this list is what I typically call as, my “shopping list”. Meaning, I more than likely will go to the bookstore and pick up copies. But things are different for me now. Financially, I’m not able to spend hundreds of dollars a month on books. All I can do is hope that someone (and I really mean, my husband) will see this post and gift me books for Christmas or my Birthday. Lol. Crossing my fingers.

November 2nd, 2017

November 7th

November 14th


What are you waiting for this week?

[727]: Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Rich People Problems
by Kevin Kwan
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2017
Series: Crazy Rich Asians, #3
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The last book in this wildly audacious series is just as ridiculous as its predecessors – and I loved it!

We find the matriarch of the family in her apparent deathbed. So of course, every single of this ostentatious family is scrambling to find out to whom she would leave her fortune. Nick Young, having had a falling out with his grandmother since marrying Rachel, did not have any hopes in hell of getting the family estate. Not that he cared either way. All he wanted was to get back into her good graces before she dies. But all bets are off with the Youngs. Knives will be wielded, and tongues will be sharpened (even more lethal than usual). The rest of the family will do their best to keep the favourite grandson (Nick) from seeing, much less talk to the matriarch.

Meanwhile, Astrid, the ever private and also a favourite, is dealing with a nasty divorce from Michael. A scandal purported in the form of a sex tape will leave her stocks falling faster than a speeding G6. Who knew Michael would be a vindictive, bitter foe? He will stop at nothing until he ruins Astrid. Drama, drama, drama.

Expect the same frivolity from this family; ridiculousness abounds, with backstabbing as a sport. In short, it was AWESOME. 🙂 The perfect ending to this trilogy delivering a laugh-out-loud dysfunction and a smorgasbord of glitzy glamour. It was a guilty pleasure of a read that’s as wholesome as they come. It features great delicacies for foodies and high-brow fashions for name brand whores. I love that it didn’t veer away from its core values: that money speaks, and social castes are alive and well. There is also much to be said about what was more important above all things: preserving the rich history of what made the Youngs the imperious family that they are.

Looking forward to seeing these books in their film version. I bet it would be like Joy Luck Club only funnier and more dysfunctional. Haha.

Hoarders, Book Edition: Episode 209

Free Space by Sean Danker | Firebug by Lish McBride | God-Shaped Hole by Tiffany DiBartolo | Devil’s Cut by JR Ward | Seeing Red by Sandra Brown | Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff | Origin by Dan Brown


I can’t even remember the last time I did a Hoarders post! I haven’t been buying too many books, to be honest. It’s so bad that a few of these were from our summer trip in Toronto! The horror. I’ve only read a couple of these books – that’s how bad I’ve been at reading as well. Incidentally, both books were quintessential of the authors’ work. Seeing Red by Sandra Brown and Origin by Dan Brown (no relation. Ha). I did, however, request some books from Net Galley.

I reviewed The Trouble with Twelfth Grave on the blog already. Hard Cover will be up sometime this week (loveeee this book, btw). I read Wish You Were Mine but it’s so unremarkable that I probably would have to re-read it just so I can write a review.


Pucked Over was good. As well, both Vi Keeland’s books. Sorely disappointed with Penelope Ward’s Gemini. I think it might have been an early work, as I can tell it’s not in the same calibre as her newer novels. Needless to say, I’m not continuing with that series. Basic writing, flat characters, and often times, cheesy dialogues.


by Kelley Armstrong

I have about a quarter left to this book. I’ve managed to read a good chunk of it this weekend with a few starts and stops. It’s suspenseful af, to be honest. It’s very good, though. I think it’s the fact that I have no idea who the killer was makes it more sinister. As well, the setting adds to the scare factor. I can’t wait to finish it. Hopefully, tonight after I hit “publish”. 🙂



The Break
by Katherena Vermette

So I’ve been struggling with this one. I borrowed this copy from a friend of mine at the gym because she swore by it, and it’s a prized-winning literature. It’s set in our city but the story is tough to read at times. It’s so interesting to read about a place in which you have a familiarity. It’s easy enough to follow but the stories of the characters are hard to get through.


Well, I think I’ll bid farewell for now. I have a full schedule on the blog. (Trust. I can’t believe it either.) I wish you all a lovely week! 

[726]: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
by Darynda Jones
Publication Date: October 31st, 2017
Series: Charley Davidson, #12
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

My perennial favourite series is here!

If not for my being horrendously busy for the last few months, my impatience for this book’s release would’ve been tenfolds. Also, had I not gotten an email from the publicity cogwheels working on this book, I would’ve completely forgotten that this was coming. Thankfully, they reminded me that it was forthcoming along with a link to NetGalley so I can request it. I downloaded this puppy right away and spent a few hours marinating in Charley’s sick sense of humour and Reyes’ out of this world hotness. Sigh. Everything is right in the world again, dear readers. I’m also extra thankful that this book reminded me of what I’ve been missing all this time.

So, about the book…(slight spoiler…maybe?)

Well, at the end of the eleventh book, Charley had inadvertently sent her husband to the literal hell through the god glass (with his permission and insistence). What they thought would be a two-way trip to the hottest dimension turned out to be an extended stay. Thanks to Reyes’ three other personas, he got lost in the shuffle. What came back was nowhere near the Reyes that Charley knew. He was Rey’azikeen, Elle-Ryn-Ahleethia’s immortal enemy and lover extraordinaire. While Charley was trying to get Reyes back, Rey’azikeen was hell-bent on finding the one thing that Reyes was desperately trying to hide from his own self.

Sounds a bit confusing, if you think about it. But it really is not. All you need to care about is whether this instalment delivers in all aspects that matter. Was Charley still wickedly funny? Yes. Did Reyes make me salivate? Fuck, yes. Did the major plot line and the subplots make for an entertaining read as a whole? OMG YES. This is perhaps, the only series that I don’t mind remaining in status quo for the remainder of its life. It will never bore me because Ms Jones keep finding ways to keep the dialogues fresh and the storylines, fabulous. I hope the next one instalment is close. I can’t bear to wait another year. Honestly, these books are my crack. I need another hit, like right now.


Well, praise be Jesus! Look who came back from the dead! (Again).

How have you all been? I miss the shit out of every single one of you. 🙂 It’s been at least a couple of months of book-less and blog-less emptiness over here in my house, y’all. *sobs* On Friday night, I was all of a sudden overwhelmed with the need to start writing again. I managed to write 3 reviews that night and continued writing right through Sunday afternoon. In case you’re not aware, it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada so I have an extra day to actually schedule some stuff for you. I’m hoping to get back into commenting again during the week and see what you all have been up to. Gah. I’m missing so much, aren’t I?

I’ve been sick this week so I stayed home on Friday and decided to request a bunch of romance books on Net Galley. I read four in two days. Lol. I’ll have to share my thoughts on them in the near future.

The Beauty and Obese

So what have I been up to? Well, on my last update to you I mentioned that I was taking the time to get fit. I’m happy to say that I’ve reached my goal of a 50-lb weight loss in 4 months! I still have another 25 to go and since it’s the last few pounds that are usually the hardest to lose, I’m most likely going to work my ass off even harder than before. One of these days, I’ll have to share my before and after picture. The changes still boggle my mind.

For the better part of the summer, I clocked some insane amount of steps. My gym had a team steps challenge that I participated in. My daily goal went from 10K to 30K with a couple of days where I took 40-50K steps. I freaking walked everywhere – like a mad woman possessed! I’m happy to announce that my team won. I ended up with 1.17M steps during the 45 days of the challenge. I’m also happy that it’s over because between the four classes a day and the walking, I was exhausted for most of the summer.


I’ve also spent a lot of time rereading books. I honestly couldn’t start a new book during my time off. I went with the familiar or books that I’ve loved in the past. As pictured above, I reread a couple of Charley Davidson novels, Melina Marchetta’s latest, Sandra Brown’s Lethal, and The Hating Game. I reread a lot of romance novels as well.

The Downside

Because I haven’t been writing or reading, I think a couple of publishers have given up on me. They’ve sent me an email asking where my reviews are. Another downside? I went from being 25 books ahead of schedule to 12 behind. But I caught up soon enough. I neglected Goodreads so there were a few books that I’ve read before my break that I didn’t mark as ‘read’. I’m now a mere 2 books ahead of schedule. Lol.

Well, I think this is all for now. It’s gotten longer than expected. I just wanted to say hi and tell you all about my life so far. I also would like to send my love to all those affected by the devastating hurricanes, the massive earthquake in Mexico, and lastly, to the families of the victims of the Las Vegas terrorist attack.

I love you all.