• Summer Reading at Its Finest (Show us Your Books Aug 2021)

    Happy August, friends!! I’ve mostly been devouring audiobooks in the last month while constantly walking my energetic puppy so you’ll find lots of those here today. Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show us Your Books!! Head to their posts to see what all of our book-loving friends are reading lately πŸ™‚

    Books I’d Highly Recommend:

    The Guy at The WeddingThe Guy at The Wedding by Katherine Center
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Well, this was easily the highlight of my week/month/year. πŸ™‚ For those who aren’t aware, this is a super short story about the first time Jake and Helen (from one of my favourite books, Happiness for Beginners), met. IT WAS SO GOOD AND EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED πŸ˜‰

    Write My Name Across the SkyWrite My Name Across the Sky by Barbara O’Neal
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved When We Believed in Mermaids and the cover of this new book by Barbara O’Neal instantly caught my eye!! Her writing is so captivating and I immensely enjoy her ability to tell a story. I devoured Write My Name Across the Sky and loved reading it. It’s hard to classify the genre of this book as anything other than straight contemporary fiction although there is a smidge of romance, a smidge of a historical storyline, and some suspenseful plot points. It is utterly and completely readable and I told my book bestie that I’d recommend this as an ideal vacation type of read because it absorbed my attention entirely and left me with a smile on my face — what more can you ask of a book!?

    I loved these characters, though one of them (intentionally) took a bit to warm up to – but Willow and Gloria in particular were so lovable. Music & comfort food & art are some of the themes throughout this book that really reflects on family & childhood and how that affects one’s life as an adult.

    Can’t recommend this one enough! Thank you to Lake Union & Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!!



    Everything is FigureoutableEverything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really believe in listening to inspirational books every once in a while just to remind me to focus on my life outside of my day job/being a mom/chasing a puppy and remember that there are other dreams to chase, if I want to. Marie’s approach in this book is excellent and I love her anecdotes about figuring out what most of us would call “impossible” situations. Definitely got me thinking about some things I still want to do with my life.

    Keeper of the Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #1)Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I think this series came recommended by Everyday Reading & her 11 year old daughter as a readalike series for fans of Harry Potter, which is my catnip when it comes to book recommendations. I got the first one from the library for my almost 10 year old daughter and then I basically didn’t see her for the next month or so while she devoured the entire series. Is that not a perfect recommendation? LOL.

    Anyway, I listened to this on audio with my younger daughter who is now 100% hooked as well and I will absolutely be continuing the series. It’s not *quite* Harry Potter for me, as the writing is just a smidge less magical/less polished, but I can still anticipate that this will be an excellent middle grade fantasy series.

    Project Hail MaryProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I’ll always remember The Martian as being one of my first audiobooks ever (aside from books on tape as a kiddo ;)) and the profound impact it had on my reading life is immeasurable, honestly. I loved that book so much. I enjoyed but didn’t LOVE Artemis, but I was still antsy to get to this new book by Andy Weir despite this not being my preferred book genre. I was grateful that my book bestie was up for a buddy read (listen, really) and it was great to be able to chat about the book while reading it. I also relied on my dad reading it to chat with him about it too. This book was really well done and I liked it a lot – almost as much as the Martian until the end. I do understand why it ended the way it did, especially with the way space time works, but I wanted a slightly more tidy resolution as the reader.

    Overall, the character of Rhyland Grace was excellently well written, the sciencey aspect of this book was NOT over my head too much which is saying a lot, and the writing is SO witty and funny and endearing. There was a lot to enjoy here!! I’ll definitely read anything he writes in the future.

    (Excellent audiobook narration too and I recommend that if science words aren’t 100% your thing ;))

    Yellow WifeYellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is a powerful story with fantastic characters, devastating situations, and so much emotion. I have yet to read The Kitchen House, but I think fans of that one would enjoy this – seems to be in a somewhat similar vein. The main character, Pheby, and her tenacity and drive to protect her loved ones no matter what, will stay with me for years to come.

    Decent Books if it sounds like your Genre of Choice

    InstamomInstamom by Chantel Guertin
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really liked this book!! Kit was a strong female character who was able to take her time figuring out who she wanted to be, and I appreciated the way this was written. As a mom, I appreciated the discussions around being a mom/choosing not to be a mom/wanting to be a mom and not being able to be one. I think this is something we all need to respect more about other women, and I think this book had some great points in that direction. I *really* loved Will and Addie, of course. It is always fun to read about a super-savvy 8 year old girl…right?!

    Overall, I’d recommend this book for fans of women’s fiction but after chatting with several friends about it, I’ve realized it might hit differently if you are a mom/not a mom etc. so just something to be aware of if that’s something you are sensitive about!

    Thank you so much to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    The Summer Sisters (Juniper Springs, #2)The Summer Sisters by Sara Richardson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It was fun to return to Juniper Springs and the Buchanan sisters (mostly just two of them). I absolutely loved a few of the plotlines in this book and a couple of others irked me a bit, but overall, this was a fun and light-hearted book that put a smile on my face…what more can you ask of a summer read?!

    Reads as a standalone but might be more enjoyable if you’ve read the first in this series first.

    Thank you to Forever for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    ArrangedArranged by Catherine McKenzie
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Arranged is such an interesting book! I really had no idea what it was about going into it since I was just following Kaley’s strong recommendation, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover some Anne of Green Gables love throughout (though it is not at all a retelling or anything). The plot of the book (swipe for synopsis if you’re curious) is unlike any I’ve read before: A modern arranged marriage service – will it work for someone who is just done being single? Is it worth the investment? Is marriage based on friendship as long-lasting and wonderful as those based on love? This is what Blythe & Co, an arranged marriage company, has built its premise around, and when Anne Blythe (lol) stumbles upon a business card, she is tempted by having someone find her a life partner instead of her trope of men that haven’t worked out.

    This book has a romance plotline, obviously, but there are also a lot of themes of self-discovery, knowing one’s worth, comparing one’s situation to others, and what that means for one’s happiness and future. It was an enjoyable read and I loved the ending though I’d also be able to read an epilogue or sequel about these characters πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

    Highly recommended for fans of women’s fiction!

    A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2)A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I made a bit of a reader faux pas and read this book before reading the first in the series OOPS but I still found myself able to follow along no problem. This was an entertaining, captivating story a la Stephanie Plum or Finlay Donovan and I enjoyed it immensely. All of the characters were great and I can’t WAIT for the next in the series. The background story of Sunshine’s past is all too intriguing and her role in her community will continue to entertain for years to come, I’m sure. Highly recommend for fans of light mystery with a past mystery to solve as well. Enjoyed the audio narration immensely πŸ™‚

    Thank you to Macmillan, Edelweiss, and Netgalley for the e-ARC and advanced listening copy in exchange for an honest review.

    Get LuckyGet Lucky by Katherine Center
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I’d been meaning to read this book for years having read most of Katherine Center’s other books, and I was able to get the audiobook on Hoopla and listen to it all in about a day. This was a unique story about two sisters and I liked the way the story was told – we know things change for them but we don’t know exactly why it happened over the course of a surrogacy. It raised some compilcated issues about their childhoods and how that shapes who you become and who you become close to. It was a good read – not my favourite of hers but better than I had expected!!

    A Killer in King's Cove (Lane Winslow #1)A Killer in King’s Cove by Iona Whishaw
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    One of my friends recommended this cozy historical mystery series and I am all here for it!! Definitely antsy to read the next ones. Lane Winslow is sure to be a character I can root for for years to come – gotta love a good independent and intelligent woman charting her own path in the years following the war.

    The Weight of a Thousand Oceans (The Forgotten Ones, Book One)The Weight of a Thousand Oceans by Jillian Webster
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I was delighted to receive an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

    It took me just a little bit to get my bearings in this book, mostly because my attention span is at least 50% decreased in these busy summer months when things seem to be go go going. However, once I hit about a third of the way through this book, I found it very hard to put down. I will say that I instantly clicked with the main character Maia and wanted to know how she would live her life – only a small glimpse of which we see in this first book of the Forgotten Ones trilogy. The book starts in New Zealand and is set to end up at the “Old Arctic Circle”, which is an intriguing enough setting to want to keep reading. There is quite a bit of sadness as we come to appreciate Maia’s unique life scenario but there are quite a few redeeming tender moments later on in the book. Overall, it’s hard to say too much about this without spoiling but if you do enjoy the launch of a series with a hint of magical realism AKA what exactly is going on here but not fantasy – I’d recommend checking out this series! I believe it is available on Kindle Unlimited as well. I will certainly be reading the second and third at some point.

    Only for You (Sapphire Springs, #2)Only for You by Barb Curtis
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    If you enjoy shows set in small towns with quirky characters who enjoy town committees, this book is fun. If you like long-time crushes that turn into relationships, this is a good one for that. There is a friends to lovers component and a fake relationship. There are a lot of made-me-chuckle moments. Tim and Emily are so adorable and they have great chemistry and feel like real people (except for the whole reality TV thing, though that was prime entertainment in itself). I can’t wait to read other books by this author and would highly recommend this cute summer read (which actually takes place in the winter/spring, lol.

    The Dating Playbook (The Boyfriend Project, #2)The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    3.5 but will round up πŸ™‚

    I liked this second book in The Boyfriend Project series about as much as the first. I think maybe I enjoyed the characters a little tiny bit more in this one and I do enjoy a good fake relationship so that was fun. I also felt a bit indirectly motivated to pursue more fitness and eat more vegetables thanks to Taylor and all of her health talk in the book πŸ˜‰

    There were a few intricate layers to this couple rather than them just being superficial, and I enjoyed that. Character development in my romance novels always increases my enjoyment πŸ™‚

    Not Necessarily Worth Your Time

    Paws and Prejudice (Hearts of Alaska #2)Paws and Prejudice by Alanna Martin
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I am not sure if I liked this or the first book in this series better. Both were fun fluffy contemporary romances with doggies and a funny Capulet vs Montague style small town rivalry/feud. Ultimately, this is not the first series I’d recommend in this genre, but I still liked the characters and the setting and the doggies. πŸ™‚

    Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Devil in Disguise (The Ravenels, #7)Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I liked this book overall, and the nods to characters in past books and series was fun. It just didn’t QUITE grab me and entice me the way some of her other Ravenels books have in the past. I will say that I absolutely adored the Scottish accent for Keir on the audiobook though – SO well done and fun to listen to.

    Currently reading The Silent Patient, Crown of Feathers and the second Keeper of the Lost Cities book!! Also working through a 21 day Gratitude book with Kristen πŸ™‚

    TL;DR: Many of these were really good but I definitely recommend Yellow Wife for fans of historical fiction, Project Hail Mary if you enjoy the occasional science fiction, and Keeper of the Lost Cities if you like middle grade. I also think Write My Name Across the Sky would make a perfect summer read if you still have room on your TBR and it’s out today!!!

    What are you reading these days?!

  • I love to read. Right now, I’m always too tired to read.

    Hi friends!! I tried SO hard to combat it this year, but my annual summer reading “slump” is upon me. I’m still reading almost every day (and lots of audiobooks on dog walks), but my brain just CANNOT focus on the words on the pages sometimes at the end of the day because MOM life with two sweet little kiddos and a puppy that doesn’t listen is #exhausting. lol. I love it, but it’s tiring! PLUS, we are allowed to socialize more and more, yay, and it’s sunny and hot and great beach weather…any Canadian will tell you, the summer is for the living and the other seasons are better for staying home and reading πŸ˜‰ Anyway…I still read and listened to some great books in the last month and I’m excited to share those today – linking up with Steph & Jana for July Show Us Your Books!!

    Books I LOVED:

    Come Away with MeCome Away with Me by Karma Brown
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This book absolutely tugged at my heartstrings from the first moment and left me blurrily wiping away tears as I drove to pick up my kids at school while finishing it. What an absolutely beautiful love story told amidst a wonderful vacation setting.

    There are a few content warnings for this book, one of which is in the synopsis, but feel free to DM me if you want to know. It’s a tricky one to review without any spoilers, but basically the plot centers around a young recently married couple full of love who are on their way to a Christmas party when they hit black ice and have a very tragic car accident. The story spirals from there as our main characters Tegan and Gabe Lawson cope with their grief and mental health. They decide to take a trip to three locations for experiences they had put in a wish jar many years ago. The descriptions of the trip amidst flashbacks to the couple falling in love was so good to read – it felt so immersive to travel alongside this couple and meet all the people they met, but emotions abound as well while reading.

    Karma Brown’s writing is absolutely incredible in this book and I highly recommend this story if you can handle an emotional ride. I had a tiny inkling somehow of where it might end up, but I wasn’t completely right and instead I was completely shocked and dumbfounded and WOW.

    Highly recommend the audiobook narration.

    People We Meet on VacationPeople We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This book absolutely absorbed all my attention in a way a book hadn’t in a while. This was a totally wonderful and well-written escapist read that was a blast to read. I absolutely LOVED this book. I loved Poppy and Alex, I loved their banter and their serious moments, I loved the way this story was told, and I loved their vacations. I loved their story, and I just want to be friends with them and trek along on their vacations from now on. Is that possible?? I’m still thinking about it a bit weeks after finishing it.

    If you’ve seen this one floating around Instagram with a positive review, then let me just add my vote to the box and say that the hype is real with this one. I *might* even go so far as to say I liked it more than Beach Read by this author that I loved last summer. It’ll definitely earn a coveted spot on my bookshelf as soon as I can get my hands on it!!

    The Secret Keeper of Jaipur (The Henna Artist, #2)The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    After immensely enjoying The Henna Artist last year, I was delighted to revisit these characters 12 years later with a focus on Malik, who was just a child in The Henna Artist. Lakshmi and Jay and Malik have moved, but Malik returns to Jaipur for an apprenticeship & witnesses a tragic event that he finds out afterwards could have been prevented. There is a bit of a mystery element to this plot, and Alka Joshi’s writing is impeccable as are her descriptions of life in 1969 Jaipur, India. I enjoyed the introduction of a new character, Nimmi, as well as some strong character development in Malik and many of the others as well. A well-crafted story and such a pleasure to have a zoom chat with the author this past weekend and hear more about her writing process and how this trilogy came to be!

    AutoboyographyAutoboyography by Christina Lauren
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was absolutely adorable and I listened to the whole entire thing in one day. My goodness I loved these characters and the way this story was told. Some of the religious stuff felt a bit AHHH to me, but very true for this area of the US and very interesting to view everything through that lens. Tanner and Sebastian were so adorable & despite not falling in love with most YA books the way I used to, these ones wormed their way into my heart :):)

    Books I’d Recommend if it’s your Genre:

    When Stars Are ScatteredWhen Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This touching graphic novel about a boy and his brother in a refugee camp was very well narrated, and I enjoyed the illustrations in the physical book as well. I passed this one on to my almost 10 year old to broaden her horizons a bit. I really enjoyed Omar and his tenacity and concern for his younger brother.

    How Sweet It IsHow Sweet It Is by Dylan Newton
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Things I loved about this adorable book:
    1) Drake Matthews’ job as an author was SO interesting and fun
    2) Their meet cute (SO CUTE)
    3) A great setting in a Victorian mansion (mostly)
    4) Some hilariously funny predicaments and scenarios our characters found themselves in
    5) A broody man male lead who had some grovelling to do at some point
    6) Pretty much everything πŸ˜‰

    This is a great contemporary romance involving a horror author and an event planner hired last-minute to put on an amazing book release event for him on Halloween. There are some great fall moments (but I’m still trying to enjoy my summer, here!) and I was beyond delighted to learn that there will be forthcoming books for the other two Matthews brothers! Yay!!!

    Thank you to Netgalley and Forever for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is out today!

    The HuntedThe Hunted by Roz Nay
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book blew me away. It was impossible for me to put down even though I was creeped out from the first few pages. It definitely makes for a perfect summer beach read. Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I instantly felt myself rooting for Stevie, who seemed a bit lost and in need of the reader’s attention. I liked a few of the other characters too, but as was likely intended, I really felt for her the most and didn’t want ANYTHING BAD TO HAPPEN TO HER. πŸ˜‰ I don’t want to say too much about how this book unfolds but I will say that it did NOT unfold the way I anticipated and I was impressed with both the character development and the chill I still felt when I turned off my kindle after reading. I can’t wait to watch this book succeed this summer.

    The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious, #4)The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It sure was fun to be back in a book with Stevie Bell and her friends. This time, they are solving a decades-old mystery at a summer camp in a very small town. Stevie’s inner dialogue with herself cracks me up, especially on audio, and I was quite impressed with how this murder mystery unfolded at the camp based on all the clues from many years ago. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be picking up anything written with these characters in the future!

    Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Postscript (P.S. I Love You, #2)Postscript by Cecelia Ahern
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It’s been years since I read (and watched!) P.S. I Love You, but I couldn’t resist this sequel when the publisher offered to send the paperback my way! Then I promptly didn’t read it for months. Haha. I actually ended up listening to most of this one, and the narration was excellent. I loved the turn this story took overall, and it was fun to revisit this family and Holly’s friends as well. If you’re a fan of the first book, I think this one would be well worth your time.

    (It’s also, like the first, pretty emotional, so keep that in mind – I was in the mood for an emotional read so it worked well for me that way…and it isn’t QUITE as gut-wrenchingly sad as P.S. I Love You but there is still a lot of sadness in some of the characters’ lives).

    Anne of ManhattanAnne of Manhattan by Brina Starler
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    If you are a purist AOGG fan, this book might not be for you. But if you’re the kind of reader who enjoyed Eligible as a variation on Pride & Prejudice, I’d put this one in the same vein as that retelling. This is Anne of Green Gables set in the Hamptons/Manhattan with Anne and Gilbert studying under the same supervisor while completing their Masters degrees in English literature. FUN TIMES! I really enjoyed this book despite one storyline that didn’t REALLY work for me and since they are one of my favourite literary couples of all time, I was delighted to imagine them in a different and more modern scenario πŸ™‚

    Malibu RisingMalibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book has been all over Goodreads/Blogs/Instagram lately for good reason. Taylor Jenkins Reid sure knows how to write. This was not my most favourite of hers, which is maybe One True Loves or After I Do or Evelyn Hugo, but I do believe I enjoyed this one a smidge more than Daisy and the Six and I LOVED this audiobook narrated by Julia Whelan. I know a few people had a hard time getting into this book, but I was hooked almost instantaneously and absolutely loved the Riva siblings. I loved the alternating timelines learning about June and Mick and then in the 80s when the Rivas were young adults hosting a crazy party each summer. Overally, I would not hesitate to recommend this one as well to anyone whose reading preferences I’m not in tune with because I think there’s a little something there for most of us in this book.

    The Lion's DenThe Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I read the first 25% of this book and then actually physically lost it in my home for 2 weeks before picking it up and finishing the rest of it in less than a day. It was definitely utterly compelling near the end and a suspenseful conclusion that I did not figure out. Absolutely ideal beach read, in my opinion, but not EXTREMELY memorable. I would recommend to someone who doesn’t read much and wants to take a book on vacation though!! Some great characters with glitz and wealth and a fun setting.

    Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    EntitledEntitled by Cookie Boyle
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It may come as a surprise to none of you that as an avid reader, I have read A LOT of books about book shops, book lovers, authors, bookstore owners, librarians… you name it. Those books are my sweet spot πŸ˜‰ However, I’d never read a book NARRATED by the book itself before until @CookieboyleAuthor offered to send me her book ENTITLED. This book (by a Canadian Author) was so fun to read. I was hooked pretty instantly and really enjoyed following the book on its journey through various owners and meeting a lot of “friends” (aka other books) along the way. If you can broaden your horizons a little and adapt to a book solely being told by an inanimate object, I’d recommend this one! It was heartwarming, funny, and so unique. The main character, the book The Serendipity of Snow, had such an interesting “personality” and so did all of the other books along the way. Such a cool way to tell this story!

    Thank you to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    City of the Lost (Rockton, #1)City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is a unique book that takes place in a remote setting with absolutely broken characters, but by the end, I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. I am certain I’ll continue with the Rockton series of police-procedural type books asap.

    Passed the Time but Maybe not Worth It

    Lost Immunity: A ThrillerLost Immunity: A Thriller by Daniel Kalla
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    While I read this book quite quickly and enjoyed it overall, especially the pertinence to our current-day vaccine discussions, I don’t know that it was a new favourite.

    Currently reading: Project Hail Mary on audio with Kristen (LOVING IT), The Weight of a Thousand Oceans, The Therapist, Instamom, and Five Little Indians. Hoping to finish these ones off soon! lol

    What are you reading? How’s your summer going????

  • Recent Book Reviews (Show us Your Books June 2021)

    It is absolutely amazing to me that lockdown can feel SO LONG but also just fly right by. The days themselves feel long, but they go by fast. It’s strange. Nova Scotia is starting to re-open just a little bit after 5 weeks of strict lockdown. My kids are back at school in person! It’s incredible. I got a lot of reading done this month on audio because I did about a million dog walks around the neighbourhood. As always, linking up with my lovely Steph & Jana (Happy belated bday to Jana who shares a birthday with my hubby) for Show Us Your Books. Excited to see what everyone else has been reading!!!

    Books I really Loved Lately:

    Second First ImpressionsSecond First Impressions by Sally Thorne
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    A few fun aspects to enjoy in this contemporary romance novel:

    1) Adorable characters: Ruthie and Teddy were delightful. Melanie, their friend, was awesome. The Parlonis, two residents of the retirement community where the novel is set, were unparelleld as humorous characters.
    2) The setting: a luxury retirement community with tortoises on the property! See my “tortoises” aka turtles pictured here
    3) Strong character development. I loved watching Ruthie and Teddy grow and change. These types of plotlines almost always work for me when they’re done well
    4) Great, snappy, funny writing. There were several LOL moments while reading and there’s just nothing better than that
    5) A satisfying ending. ❀

    You Will Remember MeYou Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This thriller was actually almost impossible to put down and itsΒ title and cover are SO fitting.

    If you are in the market for a book with characters in which you aren’t quite sure who to trust and some past history that is left pretty murky until the near-end of the book, this thriller will be right up your alley. It is well written, the characters are great (there are some I personally *liked* more than others, as was intended, haha), and the plot thickens quickly and rapidly.Β 

    A perfect summer thriller – I don’t want to say too much about this because the twists are best experienced on your own, but the ending was worth the ride, for sure.

    Thank you to the author and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the TalibanI Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    An eye opening and powerful book. I learned a lot about Pakistan and the Taliban. The audiobook was very well done. I admire people who feel as passionately about things in life as Malala does about education.

    The Light Through the LeavesThe Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book, much like Glendy Vanderah’s first book, was so unique. It took me a little while to catch on to the pace and I will admit the beginning hit me really hard in all the mom feels, but the end had me in tears. The writing is beautiful, the story weaves in a magnificent way, and I just don’t think I’ll ever find a type of story like this one to compare it to.

    The Soulmate EquationThe Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    4.5 stars

    This book was SO good and exactly what I love about Christina Lauren’s novels. The plotline was undeniably different and SO, so fun. River and Jess were fabulously wonderful characters. Juno is a little firecracker and one of the best 7 year olds I’ve ever read.

    The premise of this book is so interesting – a company that is able to test compatibility based on genetic correlations. The stats nerd in me loved all of this, implausible as it may be in actual reality. The twist or expected “conflict” was fun, there were a lot of super cute early relationship moments, and a lot of general fun from side characters.

    A perfect summer romance read!! Highly recommend.

    Books that Passed the Time Just Fine:

    Seven Perfect ThingsSeven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Catherine Ryan Hyde always manages to tug at the heartstrings, especially in this new book with 7 ADORABLE PUPPIES IN IT πŸ™‚

    I loved Abby & the way this story unfolded. It wasn’t a very easy read, but it was hard to put down and heartwarming at the end, as always.

    One Two ThreeOne Two Three by Laurie Frankel
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really, really enjoyed a lot of parts of this audiobook even if I found it just a smidge hard to follow at the beginning. Once I was clear on who everyone was in relation to everyone else, it was full speed ahead (thank you to the e-book too). This story about a town that was wronged 16 years ago and the profound effects of a chemical on a generation of young adults is told in a unique way, by three VERY different triplets.

    It’s hard to really describe exactly what this book is about, but the characters are everything and their stories and perspectives are heartwarming, fun, funny at times, heartbreaking at times, and so astute. A well-written story with just the kind of ending you’d hope to find at the end of this quirky story.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and Netgalley for both e-book and audiobook advancied copies of this book that publishes June 8.

    Hana Khan Carries OnHana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really enjoyed this novel, especially on audio, and meeting with the author on Zoom and hearing about her inspiration for it was really delightful too. Hana’s character was fun and I really enjoyed her family. I loved her podcast and her chit chats with Stanley P.

    All of the events that conspired with her family’s restaurant and new developments in the area and Aydin moved the storyline along quickly and I really, really liked the way this book wrapped up. πŸ™‚

    An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This is a closed-door mystery that I flew through in a day. I didn’t see the ending coming at all – especially the very VERY end. Wow. It’s not too twisty or turny but it was still a well-crafted mystery in a snowy atmosphere.

    The Secret BridesmaidThe Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    3.5 stars rounded up – this book had a lot of funny moments in it, and the way it was written was really creative: Sophie has such a cool job as a “stand in” bridesmaid who also acts as a wedding planner. I loved the way the story unfolded & it was truly fun to read.

    Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was extremely well done on audio but like most books in the sci-fi type genre, I got a little lost along the way LOL. This is 100% me and not the book, though I did have to get out the hardcover as well from the library to clarify a thing or two. Overall, a very well written and unique story and quite an audio experience if you enjoy YA sci-fi/dystopian with a romance storyline.

    Talk Bookish to MeTalk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I highly anticipated this book for month, but I hadn’t really read the synopsis. Second chance isn’t always my favourite trope, but I did enjoy the way this one went (their banter, the dog, the wedding setting, it was all really fun) until about 70% when something happened that made this book irretrievably not a favourite for me anymore. The last part felt completely distorted to me and while I expected the ending, I wasn’t cheering for it the way I often am in a HEA romance.

    I’ll still read anything this author writes next though! Just one plotline here didn’t work for me at all on a personal level.

    Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (Winner Bakes All, #1)Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Writing a review for this one is weird for me – there are parts of this book that were really enjoyable and really, REALLY funny. I did truly really like parts of it. There were other parts that just didn’t work for me at ALL though and the middle felt like a little bit of a slog.

    I did love a lot of the characters, and I loved all the talk of food YUM, but I think parts of this could have been edited out. I definitely enjoyed the ending and broader message implied.

    Thank you to Forever and Netgally for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I need to go back and read Boyfriend Material now.

    The Road TripThe Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This book has a second-chance now-and-then plotline that was easy to follow and I was quite invested in what happened in the past to lead to the present situation. There were a lot of funny lines and moments in this book and I laughed out loud several times as these very different 5 people end up squished into a Mini on a road trip to a wedding.

    I will say that several elements of this plot weren’t my favourite, and I didn’t absolutely adore the characters the way I did in her past books. There was a little bit too much unbridled drama and my favourite relationship in the book was the one that Addie had with her sister, Deb. Second-chance romance storylines don’t always work for me, nor does the instant-love trope, so I’m not surprised that I wasn’t in love with this book.Β 

    It still makes for a fun summer read, but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation.Β 

    Thank you to Berkley and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Currently reading: People We Meet on Vacation (LOVING IT, almost done), Lost Immunity, and The Lion’s Den.

  • All the Lockdown Reading I Haven’t Been Doing πŸ™‚ Show us Your Books May

    That’s right – we are back in a lockdown here in Nova Scotia similar to March 2020! No social contact with anyone aside from your own household. AHH. Online schooling. The only main difference is that we’re doing it with a puppy this year ;);)

    Anyway – I did binge a few books to distract myself, but there were quite a few I didn’t get to that I wanted to!! I’m linking up with Steph & Jana today for Show us Your Books!

    FABULOUS BOOKS YOU SHOULD GO PICK UP RIGHT AWAY:

    Just Last NightJust Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    4.5 – really loved this one

    I picked this book up and could barely think of anything else until I finished it. It was equal parts funny, emotional, heart breaking, cheering for the characters, and utterly compelling. I have loved Mhairi’s last two books immensely so I am delighted that this one was such a huge hit for me too. I love how she takes a character who needs just a little bit more self-confidence and transforms them throughout the book. I love how her characters are quirky, often have wonderful friend groups, and are so wonderfully British πŸ™‚

    This story follows Eve, Ed, Justin, and Susie – a foursome who met in high school & have been together through thick and thin for years and years. Without spoiling much, one night of tragedy changes all of their lives forever and some secrets come out in the aftermath that shift their little group for the rest of their lives. I loved our main protagonist, Eve (Evelyn), and everything she went through in the book. Mhairi’s writing is so addicting and you feel all of the feelings the characters are experiencing.

    I’d highly recommend this book that falls firmly into women’s fiction, but is not as light as you might expect. Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Content warnings: sudden death of a young person, domestic abuse, early dementia

    Letters Across the SeaLetters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I could not flip the pages in this book quickly enough & the story was captivating, authentic, beautiful, heart-wrenching, and so raw. It is incredible to be a Canadian learning about an event in Canadian history that I’d never heard of AT ALL and I appreciate this so much about Genevieve’s work. 

    In Letters Across the Sea, we meet two families & a myriad of friends living in Toronto during the depression prior to Canada’s involvement in WWII. Molly’s family (Protestant) lives across the street from Max & Hannah’s family (Jewish). There are undertones of Hitler’s venom entering Toronto & the families end up divided after a hateful public event, much to Max and Molly’s dismay (and Hannah’s as well). Fast forward several years and some of them are tangled up overseas in the war with devastating consequences. Molly becomes a journalist & tells incredible stories about veterans returning to Canada. The story is so captivating but also so painful because the reader begins to love and relate to these characters so much. I would recommend this book without a doubt to historical fiction fans. I absolutely loved it. 

    I’m a broken record because I said this after The Forgotten Home Child too, but I desperately need to go back and read this author’s backlist! ASAP!! Five stars from this proud Nova Scotian for a local author who writes amazing historical fiction. I’m lucky to have friends who have read her entire backlist and have steered me into my next read by Genevieve SOON!!! Thank you to S&S and Netgalley for an ARC of this book. My book club online is meeting with the author tonight! I’m so excited.

    Firekeeper's DaughterFirekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This book did not disappoint one little bit. It was nearly impossible to put down, it made me smile, made me tear up, and most of all, made me think and immerse myself in a life I’ll never have or know.  Angeline Boulley wrote this book over a decade, and the attention to detail and magnificent writing shines through on every page. Swipe to see a synopsis from @goodreads but here are a few things I absolutely loved about this book:  1) It spanned several genres, in my opinion. Technically this is classified as YA but there is also a mystery/thriller element as well as some romance and strong cultural and family components2) The characters are so easy to root for and want to watch succeed. Daunis is not a character I will forget anytime soon & I loved how fierce and determined she was in this book. 3) Despite this book being fiction, I learned so much about the Ojibwe tribe and some of their traditions and customs. It was utterly fascinating and woven into the story seamlessly. I half listened to/half read this book & highly recommend the narration for some of the terminology. 

    The Houseplant: A Short StoryThe Houseplant: A Short Story by Jeremy Ray
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This is a short read – I know it took me less than 30 minutes to read because I read it in the parking lot while my kids did a swimming lesson, but by the end of it I was choked up and had tears streaming down my face. I’ll leave you to interpret that as you will and keep in mind that my emotions are a biiiiit closer to the surface than usual, but to say this story moved me would be an understatement. Oftentimes, with short stories, I always feel like I want just a little bit more, but this story is perfect just the way it is. 

    I highly recommend picking up this story about George the fern and the family he goes home with from the store – it is a short story that packs a very big punch. Thank you so much to the author for reaching out & for this wonderful little story. 5 stars here & will re-read someday FOR SURE. It’s on Kindle Unlimited or available there to buy, too! I think you all need this short story in your life. 

    Thank you to the author for the ecopy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

    The Last Thing He Told MeThe Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    The Last Thing He Told Me is a twisty psychological drama similar in content to some of Lisa Jewell’s best books (in my humble opinion). It most involves domestic whtie-collar suspense and is not gory in the way some thrillers are, but it is captivating and it is impossible not to flip those pages very quickly. This book is about a relatively new wife, Hannah, whose husband Owen doesn’t come home at the end of the day. She has a precarious relationship with her 16 year old stepdaughter, who was single parented by her father for years and years before Hannah came into their lives. When the news begins to break about Owen’s company being investigated by the FBI, and several notes don’t quite add up, Hannah and her stepdaughter Bailey dig a little deeper over the course of just a few days to find out exactly what Owen might have been hiding.  I went into this book knowing nothing & I’d recommend you do the same, overall! It was such a great reading experience with a lot of really cool OH I GET THAT moments & I just loved the pace, the plot, and the ending. I bought it for my mom for Mother’s Day this past weekend πŸ™‚ This book will make a lot of recommended lists this summer and it will be WELL deserved. 

    One Last StopOne Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really, really, really profoundly enjoyed every single second of this book. It was not at all what I expected in the best possible way. The characters in this book were absolutely incredible; the plot is fast-moving, fascinating, and just SO cool, and overall I really just felt like this was unlike anything I’ve read in recent memory, if ever.

    August moves to NYC for another change in her post-secondary plans and meets a fantastic gang of random roommates (I can totally relate to this aspect because I had tons of random roommates in university and it was so fun). She meets a super fun girl on the subway one day who she is instantly drawn to – but Jane isn’t quite who August ends up expecting. I don’t want to say too much about the rest of the story because of spoilers, even though it is in the synopsis here…but there ends up being a bit of a race against time to enable this couple to end up together before it’s too late.

    There wasn’t a single second of this that I didn’t love (well, there was one, if we’re being honest, but it was all good). SUCH A GOOD BOOK!!

    Thank you to Edelweiss and SMP for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This one is out June 1!!


    AND A FEW OTHER BOOKS I ENJOYED LATELY:

    Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I listened to the majority of this and I’ll fully admit to complete confusion for the first 20% or so – not because I haven’t read the Grishaverse trilogy (I don’t think), but because there was a lot to pay attention to and I was listening on puppy walks where my attention was scattered every 10 seconds. After that though, this book totally grew on me! Will I go back to read the Shadow and Bone series? Not sure, but I’ll definitely read the second in this duology and watch the show!

    GreenlightsGreenlights by Matthew McConaughey
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This book started off pretty hilarious, and I enjoyed the narration and some of the stories A LOT, but it wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting based on friends’ reviews.

    I also read Infinite Country (it fell a bit flat), City Spies: Golden Gate with my 9 year old, and I re-read Cress on audio – making my way through all the Lunar Chronicles again! πŸ™‚ I’m reading Anne of Green Gables aloud to my girls for the first time and it is just as delightful as you’d imagine. I’m also currently reading and loving Sally Thorne’s newest book, Second First Impressions, as well as another book called The Secret Bridesmaid and Illuminae on audio.

    What are you reading? What should I be reading next? I have a million ARCs to get to as well as a bunch of library books out too but I want to hear what you’ve loved lately!!!

  • Good Reads from March 2021

    Happy spring, everyone!! This month has flown by – it feels like we were just doing a SUYB link up yesterday, haha. I read a lot of excellent books this month & I’m so excited to share them here today!! Hope you find a good one among these and I can’t wait to find new books to add to my list too!!! Hop on over to our amazing hosts’ posts Steph & Jana for all the other posts linked up today!

    BOOKS I ABSOLUTELY LOVED

    The Rose CodeThe Rose Code by Kate Quinn
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    The Rose Code follows three women (Osla, Mab, & Beth) and multiple lovely secondary characters as they meet through their work at Bletchley Park. The book is set alternately during WWII with these women contributing to the war effort in a unique and secretive way playing different roles in codebreaking at BP. The three are very different, but their friendship is fierce…for a while. As all WWII-based novels typically play out, this story was not without immense sadness, heartbreak, and passion, and it was extremely well written. It is not a short book but I could not believe how drawn to the story I was – I could not WAIT to find out what happened to all of these characters, especially as the plot built towards a very intense climax in the last few chapters. It read a little bit like a mystery/thriller at times as the reader attempted to put pieces of a puzzle together without all of the details (a bit like The Huntress that way too). Kate Quinn’s writing is phenomenal and so well suited to this tiny subset of a genre in historical fiction. This book had:

    -Strong, well developed female characters with feisty fortitude in their personalities
    -Excellent friendships with some betrayals and forgiveness
    -Great moments of love & romance
    -Suspense and page-turning plot points
    -Fictional events and characters based on real people (and several actual real people known as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip gasp!)

    I loved this book so much, particularly on audio – I think it’s my new favourite by this author.

    Thank you to Harper Audio & Netgalley for the ALC in exchange for an honest review.

    The Ex TalkThe Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I absolutely loved this book!! This book sees two people who don’t know/understand each other very well joining forces reluctantly to host their first public radio show pretending to be exes. It blends hate to love with a bit of a fake relationship/fake “second chance” type of romance and it is SO FUN. I previously enjoyed a YA novel by this author (Today, Tonight, Tomorrow, also set in the Seattle area) but I loved this delightful first adult rom-com of hers so much and would highly recommend it. This gave me some major The Hating Game vibes with a bit less hate ;). 

    This book broke me out of a bit of a slump and I found it very hard to put down. There were themes of loss, growing up, moving on from a long-term relationship, career changes, and growth, and there may have even been mention of a beanie baby or two πŸ˜‰ I learned a lot about the public radio industry & I enjoyed the diversity of characters in this novel as well. I laughed out loud more than once and teared up a bit too. It was wonderful. 

    Basically, if you like romcoms, this one should be on your immediate TBR – trust me.

    With the Fire on HighWith the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo was my second book by this author, and I loved it on audio. I also really enjoyed Clap When You Land, but the characters in this book will stay with me for a long time and I couldn’t help but root for Emoni as each chapter progressed. Emoni lives with her abuela and her toddler daughter while she is attending her senior year of high school. She has been passionately supported by her family and is an extremely hard worker but sometimes this just doesn’t feel like enough to obtain what she really wants out of her life: to become a chef. She is able to register in a chef course during her senior year and though it takes her a while to connect with the teacher, she does so eventually and excels at adding a bit of her own magic to delicious-sounding recipes. The only problem for Emoni is that the class is set to take a trip to Spain, and this costs a bit more than she can afford while she supports her grandmother and pays for her daughter’s expenses via her part-time job.

    Emoni’s fortitude in chasing after what she wants is admirable and I can think of many high school students who would not demonstrate this tenacity when faced with this lot in life. I couldn’t help but hope for the best for her as I listened to this delightful book and she is a character that will stay with me for years to come. Excellently crafted and so heartwarming. This is the kind of YA we need in the world.

    The Good SisterThe Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Excuse me while I go devour everything else Sally Hepworth has written – both this one and The Mother in Law were so hard to put down! This is excellent my kind of thriller – heavier on the domestic than the crime.

    On top of the quickly moving, intense, need-to-know plotline of this book, I also absolutely adored a few specific aspects of this book:

    -The vivid and precarious sister relationship depicted
    -One of the main “settings” being a library workplace and all of the profound library love expressed
    -A sweet little love story
    -Themes of growth, nostalgia, and standing up for who you are

    These aspects might seem weird in this type of thriller novel, but ahhh it all just fit together perfectly and this story was so good. 4.5 stars from me!

    Thank you to St Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Twice ShyTwice Shy by Sarah Hogle
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    4.5 stars Oh my goodness, this sweet little book wormed its way right into my heart and I devoured it happily in less than 24 hours including sleeping and working πŸ˜‰ Maybell and Wesley were such fun characters and the whole whimsical-stuck-in-one-place-getting-to-know-each-other concept worked so well. This book made me swoon, smile, tear up, and feel ultimately so lovey dovey. Sarah Hogle is turning into an author I can’t wait to read forever. I am sure many readers will feel “seen” in these pages as these two characters find themselves in each other and in an unlikely place.

    Highly recommend!! When can I go stay at Falling Stars Hotel?!

    Other Great books:

    Gutter ChildGutter Child by Jael Richardson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Gutter Child was unlike anything I’ve ever read – like others have said, the closest that comes to mind is likely The Handmaid’s Tale, which I haven’t read in almost 20 years. This was not an easy book to read, but it was compelling and hard to turn away from. It took me a little while to get the hang of the Gutter system described in this book – a Mainland where individuals are “free” and a gutter where the people attempt to get to the mainland and work off their debt, which sometimes takes years. I will admit that some of the overall allegory in this story maybe went a bit over my head but there were many elements that did not feel dystopian and a little bit too reflective of our current society, unfortunately. Elmina is just the kind of character I love to read about, and her tenacity in this book is breathtaking to read about. She learns some hard lessons about the reality of her life after she is shipped out of the gutter into an academy on the Mainland. She isn’t like the other gutter children in the academy because she was a part of a government social project and is one of the only remaining survivors of that unique group. Her life at the academy evolves into something she wasn’t expecting and where she ends up changes the course of her life and those around her immensely. I did find I wanted just a LITTLE bit more information at the end of this book so I am hopeful for a sequel…please!!! I’ll also note that I listened to the audiobook of this one and it was very well narrated.

    I cannot wait to chat with my fellow Canadian Book Enablers & the author in a couple of weeks and hear more about the inspiration for this gripping novel.

    LuckyLucky by Marissa Stapley
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really, REALLY enjoyed this book and read it in just a few sittings which HAS NOT been the case in my reading life lately. 
    Things I loved about Lucky:

    1) A strong, resilient character who you just absolutely have to root for even if she’s made some mistakes along the way 2) A quick-moving plot with a major plot element about a third of the way in that you just have to see resolved 3) Some very interesting characters and moments along the way 4) A satisfying ending.

    Lucky is a grifter – she was raised by a con artist father and has always wondered about her mother, whom she never met. THis book drifts back to Lucky’s mid childhood while simultaneously following Lucky being on the run from the law due to a swindling long time boyfriend she planned to escape the country with after pulling off a huge heist. We learn a lot about how Lucky came to be who she is and how she wants her life to look in the future. This fast-paced, character AND plot driven novel is going to be everywhere this summer. Finally…can we all just take 2 seconds to gush about this gorgeous book cover??? 

    Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was absolutely delightful from start to finish. Eve might be my favourite of the Brown sisters and I loved the setting and plotline of her book. This series is pure contemporary romance but I enjoy the neurodiverse characters that Talia Hibbert writes and her writing really makes you feel for the characters’ past experiences as they find themselves. Highly recommend this whole series. A bonus to this book was the fun playlist at the beginning of it!! πŸ™‚

    Heart on a Leash (Hearts of Alaska #1)Heart on a Leash by Alanna Martin
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    The Porters and the Lipins are meant to resemble a bit of that Montague and Capulet rivalry beloved by fans of Romeo and Juliet for years, but that is about where the similarities end here – sorry Shakespeare.

    This first-book-in-a-new-romance-series was too cute! The cover first caught my attention for obvious (adorable) reasons, but I also liked the characters a lot. I always find it fun when a character meets another and we, the reader, know who that person is but the character doesn’t know. That journey towards the oooh guess what’s going to happen is super fun πŸ˜‰ The small-town Alaskan setting was fun to read about, and Josh and Taylor had great chemistry on the pages. This was a quick and enjoyable read and I can’t wait to continue the series.

    Thank you so much to Berkley Publishers, Netgalley, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    The Final Revival of Opal & NevThe Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Wow! It is hard to believe that this is Dawnie Walton’s debut novel. This well written and compelling novel is told through interviews and it depicts a rich oral history of Opal Jewel and Nev Charles’ rise to fame through the very personal lens of their deceased drummer’s daughter, Sunny. This book was hard to put down! I received an e-ARC of the book from Simon & Schuster and Netgalley but didn’t finish it before it was released so I also listened to the latter half of it on full-cast audio which was excellent. I was so intrigued to find out exactly how one the events of one single night unfolded in the 1970s in which Sunny’s father, Jimmy, fell victim to racial violence and died at a Showcase in which Opal & Nev performed. When Sunny finds out a bit more about this, she is discouraged from sharing her allegations and the story continues to be very intriguing as a reunion tour kicks off. This book includes quite a bit of history of race in the 1970s (which unfortunately does not seem to have improved dramatically in the past 40 years). 

    I highly recommend reading this one – Opal Jewel is a character who will stay with readers for years to come, I’m sure. I enjoyed all of the side characters too & couldn’t help but root for Sunny in her ability to tell this story for the father she never knew. 

    (I realize I’m talking about these characters as if they are real people – that’s how this book felt to me!!) 

    ShippedShipped by Angie Hockman
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was utterly delightful and super cute. It was so fun to “escape” my current location and travel along on this cruise with Henley and Graeme & all the interesting guests. This book reminded me a lot of The Hating Game (but way less steamy) and I enjoyed the aspect of standing up for yourself and equal rights to women in the workplace, etc. etc. Definitely a cute and enjoyable contemporary romance πŸ™‚

    Passable but not overly Memorable

    Faking ItFaking It by Portia MacIntosh
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I flew through this book and laughed at it a lot. If you can suspend your belief that this situation would never actually work in real life, this might be a funny one to read if you need something light and fun πŸ™‚

    The basic premise of one twin sister “becoming” the other while she is away at jail has been done before in various ways, and parts of it felt a bit…ahhh what is going to happen here – but Ella was a great character and it was fun to see her shine a bit and change things up in her sister’s family.

    Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I also finished The Exiles, which was good, but I haven’t quite finished my review yet, and finished more Tilly & The Bookwanderers books with the kiddos. It’s been a busy but excellent reading month. What should I read next? Currently working on Genevieve Graham’s new release, Letters Across the Sea, which comes out in 2 weeks, and Six of Crows and the Firekeeper’s Daughter on audio. I also started Glendy Vanderah’s new book earlier this month but had to put it down for just a little bit (I know it will be great but needed a minute).

    TL;DR: I highly recommend The Rose Code, The Good Sister, Opal & Nev, and The Ex-Talk as well as With the Fire on High πŸ™‚ However, most of these were really good depending on your preferences!!

    What have you been reading??

  • A Few Quick Book Reviews for March 2021

    2021 has already been an awesome year for books for me!! I hope it’s been the same for you. There are so many excellent books I’m anticipating in the coming months too!! I’m linking up with Steph & Jana today to share the books I’ve read since the last Show Us Your Books link-up. I hope you find one here to add to your list!!!

    BOOKS I ABSOLUTELY LOVED

    Float PlanFloat Plan by Trish Doller
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I’d requested an ARC of Float Plan months ago and was sure I would really enjoy it, but I was actually blown away but just how MUCH I loved this book. For one thing, it was an ideal book to read during the pandemic because it was amazing to live vicariously through characters sailing through the Caribbean. However, these characters and the plot of this book were so heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and oh-so-loveable that I just couldn’t put this down and I enjoyed every single second of reading it. I laughed AND I cried and as soon as that ever happens to me while reading, the book becomes an immediate 5-star-contender.

    We know from the synopsis and the first page of the book that Anna recently lost her fiance to suicide and she is (and will be) affected by that for years to come. Her grief felt very real, and her decision to take their sailboat on the trip they’d planned together despite not being the strongest sailor was relatable and it became obvious that the reader was along for a fun and interesting tale. When Anna meets Keane after her first stop along the route, it is NOT difficult for the reader to fall head over heels for this hilariously sweet Irishman with an exceptional sense of humour who tells it how it is and challenges Anna in more ways than one.

    I really liked the way this story evolved, and all of the fun people these two characters had the pleasure of meeting on their travels. I live for stories with exceptional character development and that was the case in this book. If you like contemporary romance that is relatively low-angst but heavy on the emotions (such as some of Mhairi MacFarlane’s books, PS I Love You, and Evvie Drake Starts Over), I think you would enjoy this book as much as I did.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and St Martins Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    You Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation UnstoppableYou Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable by Jen Sincero
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I took this audiobook with me on a walk around the neighbourhood on a particularly challenging puppy/parenting day and it invigorated, inspired, and emboldened me. Excellent tips in this book. It is short, and a bit woo-woo at times, but there was a lot of practical advice that I can always benefit from. Did it change my life? No. Did it change my day/week? Yep, for sure.

    Accidentally EngagedAccidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
    My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

    I’ve seen SO many pictures this week of this book next to sourdoughΒ bread, and I’m happy to join the club! I could not resist picking up a loaf of sourdough to enjoy while I read this book. It was delicious!!! I also made french toast with it for my kids and they loved it too πŸ™‚Β 

    As for the book itself, I highly recommend it! Nadim and Reena were such fun characters and I enjoyed their fake engagement on a TV cooking show as well as all of the hilarity (and frustrations!) associated with their traditional Indian families. There were a lot of funny moments in the book and a lot of cute romantic moments too. Reena had wonderful friends, Nadim was sweet and adorable, and the recipes scattered throughout the book were mouth-watering. I now officially need to go back and read Amira’s book, The Chai Factor!!Β 

    Highly recommend it for fans of contemporary romance with multicultural (Southeast Asian) representation. Great #CanLit set in Toronto!!

    Finlay Donovan Is Killing ItFinlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was EXACTLY what I needed and reminded me why I love to read. It was just so fun – think of it maybe like a slightly more serious/grown-up version of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Finlay is barely (not at all, really) making ends meet as a newly single mom and her life feels like a disaster. She is discussing the advance for her newest book and what she believes she deserves for it and her conversation is overhead incorrectly and the eavesdropper assumes she is a hitman. She gets a note about someone to take out and when she decides to further investigate, she ends up with a bad man passed out in her minivan. The story all spirals from there. This book has tons of fun characters, a great not too gory/not too intense mystery storyline, and a quick-moving plot with a heroine you can’t help but root for. Definitely recommend!!!

    This Close to OkayThis Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I received this book from Grand Central Publishing as a gifted copy for review. This book was so so much better than I could have ever expected. I found the premise interesting and was very compelled to read it, but I expected it to be heavy and I needed to wait a little bit to get to it. I was right – this book does have a lot of very heavy and emotional subject matter but it also has a lot of joy and some very tender, INCREDIBLY written passages. I listened to the majority on audio and the narration was superb. I absolutely adored Tallie and “Emmett” and I couldn’t stop reading/listening until I saw how everything ended up. A teeeeeeny part of me longed for a different ending, which I won’t spoil, but I understand how realistic it was for the story to end the way it did. This book is absolutely deserving of the hype in my opinion and I can’t wait to go through and make note of some of the lines that really, really spoke to me.

    Trigger warnings: suicide, infertility, divorce/infidelity, deceit, death of family members

    BOOKS I WOULD DEFINITELY RECOMMEND

    How to Pronounce KnifeHow to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This was an excellent collection of short stories that were extremely unique and opened my eyes to some of the immigrant experience in (I’m assuming) Canada or at least North America. Knife IS a dumb word to learn how to pronounce in the English language, isn’t it?

    Some of these stories had a bit of humour, many were sad to read, and several just made me ponder a lot. I wished a few were longer, which always happens to me with short stories πŸ˜‰ I can absolutely see why this collection won the Giller Prize.

    The Four WindsThe Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I’ll admit it took me QUITE a while to get into this book, which I’ve heard was intentional, but after about 50% it did get very hard to put this down. My goodness was it ever sad and depressing though. Just something to keep in mind ;). I listened to about a third of it and Julia Whelan’s narration was exceptional, as usual. The Four Winds is set at a time of such bleak desperation in America that it was hard to read, but it was eye-opening too. My heart broke countless times for these characters. I enjoyed the growth, evolution of relationships, and development of the characters and this book was very well written (as I’ve come to always expect from Kristin Hannah) but the entire story just made me so, so sad too.

    Elsa and Loreda and Ant’s attitudes and adventures as they travel west to escape the dust bowl were so compelling to read about and I will not soon meet a character I admire as much as I did Elsa. She was the kind of mother I think we all hope to be but she was faced with difficulties I think we all hope we don’t have to be. The many characters along the side tugged at the heartstrings and my heart was in my throat many times near the end of this captivating story.

    Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    This Is My AmericaThis Is My America by Kim Johnson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I think I first heard of this book through the SUYB link up, so if you recommended it – thank you!! This storyline kept me completely hooked the entire time. I’ve had some issues with YA this year but this book was fast-paced and, unfortunately, these teenagers were not allowed to act like normal teenagers and even experience normal teenage problems due to the unjust and wrongful imprisonment of an innocent father. Overall, I highly recommend this captivating fictional story about Tracy Beaumont and how she stands up for what she believes is right and solves a very scary and intense murder mystery in the face of extreme racism.

    Sandcastle Beach (Matchmaker Bay #3)Sandcastle Beach by Jenny Holiday
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is the third and final book in the Matchmaker Bay series, and although I believe Paradise Cove is maybe my favourite of the three, this was a solid finish and a great story about “enemies” to lovers. I’d enjoyed both Maya and Law in the previous two books and was so excited to see where this story took them. A few things I loved in this book: all of the village elders did some seriously fun meddling, there was some fun Shakespeare moments, the talk of delicious pizza, grilled cheese, and Riesling was fun :), and the friendships in this little town are sweet and fun to read about. I’ve really enjoyed this series and will likely pick up anything Jenny Holiday writes next.

    Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Before the Ever AfterBefore the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was both eye-opening and absolutely heart-breaking. This book shares the progression and effects of CTE in football told from the point of view of the famous player’s son. I work in this area (slightly different but in neuropsychology) and have seen similar situations first hand so this hit me in all the feels.

    A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)A ​Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Goodness gracious this book was a long one, which wasn’t surprising, but it took me a while to sink right into the story. I admit I liked this much more than I expected knowing that it was about Nesta and Cassian (mainly). There was some serious action at the end that really concluded it in a way that leaves things open to the next book in the series, so that was great. I really, REALLY appreciated the character development in this book because I was not expecting to identify with/resonate with Nesta in any way. I enjoyed the storyline (no spoilers) with Rhysand and Feyre and their family life. The new characters introduced in this book were all wonderful and it was great to read about newfound, powerful friendships and developing both mental and physical strength as women who have been through a lot. I found parts of the romance to be WAY over the top and that took away from the story a bit for me but Sarah J Maas has publicly called this her steamiest book yet and she isn’t wrong about that (haha). Overall, I have immensely enjoyed this series, especially on a mix of audio and ebook and I am feeling quite tempted to get to her other books now (Crescent City will be next for sure).

    Quiet in Her BonesQuiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    For years now, a few of my friends have raved about Nalini Singh as an author but my first book by her was 2019’s thriller, A Madness of Sunshine, which was extremely good. Her books are set in New Zealand, which I love because it feels different, and I have family from there so it has always been interesting to me as a setting.

    In Quiet in her Bones, we meet Aarav and his father right away as they begin to piece together the night Aarav’s mother disappeared 10 years ago. Aarav himself was recently in an accident and is in and out of doctors’ offices for his mental and physical health and we don’t quite get all of the information about his life and history right away. There is a bit of a sense of an unreliable narrator in this book because there is so much about the night in question that just doesn’t add up to the reader, but this moved the story along in a way that just compelled me to find out what the heck actually happened that night and what else has been happening since then. I started to get a little inkling about the ending mid-way through the book but it still wasn’t quite what I expected and it could have gone any number of ways based on the way the plot thickened.

    There were a lot of cultural and domestic elements to this story as well and it was fleshed out in a way that really grasped me. I think fans of thrillers that aren’t too dark will enjoy this one a lot. And when you finish it, I’d love to talk about it more!!!

    NOT BAD, BUT NOT THE BEST:

    Happily Ever AftersHappily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This book started off exceptionally cute and unique. Tessa has a brother with disabilities and recently moved to a new city and is starting at a new private school for the arts. She is a romance writer but hasn’t shared her writing with anyone other than her best friend. She makes some fun friends pretty quickly, and develops a crush, of course (YA;)), but then she makes some decisions that I didn’t agree with and the middle of the book all felt very AHH TEENAGE ANGST to me (as it should, I’m not the intended audience). I did enjoy the ending and the diversity expressed in this book and there were a lot of sweet moments of friendship and character development but it fell just a tiny bit flat for me overall.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I also read Tilly and the Bookwanderers to the girls (WE LOVED IT SO MUCH), re-read Cinder on audio (just as good as I remembered, and I remembered very little so now about to head through the rest of the series again, yayy) , and a few dog books because #dogmommy. I also finished A Vow So Bold and Deadly, the third Cursebreakers book, and enjoyed it but need to refresh my memory on it before sharing a review because I binged it quite quickly (oops).

    TL;DR: I recommend almost all of these depending on your tastes!! Highly recommend This Close to Okay, Finlay Donovan, and Float Plan. I don’t think you can go too wrong with any of these books though!!

    What have you been reading lately? Care to share any thoughts on any of these ones?

  • Here Are The Books I’ve Enjoyed So Far in 2021

    Hi friends!! I forgot/ran out of time/didn’t get around to linking up with Steph & Jana last month for the first time in YEARS so here I am sharing a large chunk of books this month!! Head over to their blogs for the rest of the Show us Your Books link up posts!!!

    Here are a few books I REALLY loved lately:

    This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the WorkThis Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book is excellent for helping to explain a lot of the depth of anti-racism and the history of racism to older children. I haven’t read it with mine yet, but I intend to read it to them and discuss it.

    Share Your Stuff. I'll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next LevelShare Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    If you haven’t heard of the 10 Things to Tell You podcast or @laura.tremaine, you are absolutely missing out. Laura has talked for years about how to share your thoughts and stories in a way that builds a connection with others. Her voice is addictive and I’ve thought so much about SO many interesting things due to her prompts, blog posts, podcast episodes, and now through her just-released book SHARE YOUR STUFF. I’LL GO FIRST.

    I received an early copy of this exceptional book from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you, Zondervan), but I also got the audiobook from Audible because I love listening to Laura read to me. LOL. In this book, she shares a lot of personal moments that have shaped who she is and how she thinks about things. She really probes some important questions and shares how you can think deeper about parts of your past and your experiences that shape who you are and allow you to connect with others on a deeper level. Guys, this is a perfect book for our current times because these connections that we have with others are strained by physical distance and lockdown measures. I’m sure we are all feeling a bit of distance even from those we know very well.

    I absolutely loved this book and am delighted to be working through the companion journal and the Facebook group chat with Laura herself. These were preorder bonuses and they’ve been extended to the end of this week so I highly recommend checking them out if you plan to buy the book!! If you’re on the fence about whether a book like this is for you, I’d recommend dipping your toes in the 10 Things to Tell You podcast a bit. I am personally (and doubly because of my psychology background) an advocate for truly getting to know people, chatting, and digging deeper but I really think almost anyone could benefit from Laura’s book. PS: You should also go check out Laura’s Instagram celebrated her book release during the pandemic because her celebrations made me tear up!

    The Paris SecretThe Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    After a few of my book friends raved about this book, it moved close to the top of my list and I finally got around to reading it and LOVING it. This historical fiction with alternating timelines about a group of women during WWII & their descendants years later was sooo excellent. The resilient and powerful characters depicted in these pages will not leave my memory any time too soon. I swooned at times, felt choked up at times, and cheered in my head at other times. This is historical fiction at its best – that’s for sure!!! I definitely recommend this one especially for fans of The Gown & The Alice Network.

    There are a few excellent maneuvered twists in this book, so I don’t want to say TOO much about it.I enjoyed the narration of this audiobook immensely but I read half of it in print as well thanks to my library πŸ™‚

    On top of this book being such a great experience for me, it was an absolute joy to Zoom with the author shortly after finishing! She is a sweetheart and our group was so grateful she was willing to give us some of her time to answer questions about the book and her other books too. Thank you, Natasha!!

    Our Darkest NightOur Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I was antsy to get my hands on this much-anticipated book! I very much enjoyed several of her previous novels and I’m leaning into historical fiction in a big way lately. I absolutely loved this book!!! I listened to most of it on audio via LibroFM and was also so delighted and thankful to receive a paperback copy in the mail from a friend as part of a gift swap πŸ™‚

    This book follows two magnificent and resilient characters in Italy during World War II: Antonina, a young daughter of a Jewish doctor who is nudged into posing as a wife to Niccolo, a kind, Christian man who was training to be a priest and who is able to protect her by bringing her home to his family’s farm. Understandably, many difficulties lie ahead for these two characters and my heart wrenched at various parts of this story as events unfolded on the pages but amidst the pain and suffering, there is hope and joy to be found in this story as well. 

    “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

    100% recommend this title to anyone who loves historical fiction with a love story and hardships of war in the plotline.  The Italy setting was refreshing after so many WWII stories I’ve read set in France and England. The story in these pages is not one often told. The supporting characters, including Nico’s family, Stella, and Father Bernardi all wormed their way right into my heart. The narration of the novel on audio was also exceptionally performed and brought the Italian accents and phrases to life in my ears. 

    Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers, #3)Ever After Always by Chloe Liese
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This contemporary romance series is definitely one of the best I’ve read in years – the characters are interesting and diverse, the chemistry between the characters is well written and swoony, and I’m just a sucker for a series about a wonderful family πŸ™‚ This is the third in this series.

    Freya and Aiden are mentioned quite a bit in the first two books and we know they are having some difficulties in their marriage – this plot point is explored deeply in this book. Ever After Always was such a realistic glance at what marriage is, how it evolves over time, and how mental health and outside stressors can impact even those who want to commit to a happy marriage and love their spouse deeply. This book was beautiful, quotable, and funny at times too! I smiled a lot, enjoyed the minor escape it afforded me in the form of a trip to Hawaii in the book πŸ™‚ I absolutely appreciated the research that goes into these books – Aiden has a generalized anxiety disorder and the representation of his mental health was so real.

    I highly recommend this series, especially for fans of Talia Hibbert s Brown sisters books or anyone who enjoys quite a bit of depth in their contemporary romance books. πŸ™‚ thank you to @netgalley and the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is available in Kindle Unlimited…just FYI!!!

    The Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    When my friend Jenna put THE COLOR OF OUR SKY on my radar a couple of months ago, I knew I had to include this one in my reading life ASAP. Jenna has not yet steered me wrong in her recommendations πŸ˜‰ I’m pleased to report that I really, really, really enjoyed this captivating story that went back and forth in time a bit and held many surprises I didn’t anticipate.

    This story is equal parts heartbreaking, intense, breathtaking, and hopeful. The alternative perspectives drew me right in and I loved following both sides of this story that wrapped itself up so beautifully in the end. This story, taking place in India in the 1990s/early 2000s, acutely describes how pain and class differences tore members of a family apart after several fateful decisions. These decisions shifted several lives throughout many years. The book ultimately takes a look at how pain and suffering and loss can be carried throughout a lifetime. I loved Mukta’s strength, Tara’s regret and determination, and all of the supporting characters who all had important roles in the stories of these two women. The ending of this story was lovely. I alternated between the audiobook and the paperback of this book and the narration was excellently performed. 4.5 stars

    And some other good books I’d Recommend:

    An Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell, #6)An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It’s always a good day when I crack open a new segment in the adventures of Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. I absolutely adore these characters and this series is one of my favourites ever. The mystery and plot in this particular book was quite interesting and I am always a bit blown away by Deanna Raybourn’s creativity in keeping this adorable couple’s lives interesting and moving the story along in ways I could have never expected. I really enjoyed trying to figure out exactly what was going on with the Alpenwald crew and the story wrapped up in a way I was not anticipating, which is always delightfully fun as a reader. Ultimately, I will always read a new book in this series and there were a few absolutely swoony romantic moments in this book that also warmed my heart aside from the fun banter, witty characters, and fast-moving mystery plotline.

    Thank you to Berkely and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. If you haven’t read this series, you should! Start with A CURIOUS BEGINNING and know that each book gets better and better, in my humble opinion πŸ™‚

    How to Fail at FlirtingHow to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book started off excellently and did NOT peter off at all. 4.5 stars and one of the best contemporary romances I have read lately.

    The way that Jake and Naya met and hit it off was SO swoony & excellently executed. I absolutely adored Naya’s friends. I loved the “big conflict” of interest that arose and the way it was all resolved. Their banter was so fun to read, their chemistry was completely off the charts, and their backgrounds were interesting and fun and unique.

    Content warning: the deeper part of the story that related to past abuse in a relationship was handled quite well & I found the ending to be perfectly satisfying. Can’t wait to read more from this author.

    You Have a MatchYou Have a Match by Emma Lord
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really enjoyed Emma Lord’s first book and was eager to read this one as well. I’m happy to report that I liked this one EVEN MORE. It took me a little while to see where the book was going, but eventually, I was all in with these fun, cute, interesting teenage characters and their fascinating family history. There are some minor YA romance storylines but the most compelling part of this story was the key to how Savvy and Abby are full biological sisters who never knew of each other’s existence. The way it all pans out was emotional, jaw-dropping, and tense but impossible to put down. SO good.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and Wednesday Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I also read Ten Rules for Faking It, which was okay but not a favourite, as well as The Off-Limits Rule which started okay and fizzled right out. I binged Bridgerton on Netflix after Christmas and the only solution for a Bridgerton hangover was to start re-reading the books again so I got through the first one in one sitting πŸ˜‰

    Currently Reading: Quiet in her Bones by Nalini Singh (comes out in a couple of weeks), The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (had to take a tiny break but over halfway and loving it), and Tilly and the Bookwanderers with the kiddos. I’m also almost done A Vow so Bold and Deadly which is very goodso far.

  • The Best Books I Read in 2020

    Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and wishing you a very happy new year! Hoping that 2021 brings us some of the things that 2020 didn’t…and that some of the good that came out of 2020 carries into 2021 too.

    I set a Goodreads goal of 220 books this year in 2020 and I’m not quite there yet, but I still have 2 1/2 days left in the year to finish up! LOL. Despite not yet meeting that rather lofty goal, I read SO MANY excellent books this year and connecting with a lot of amazing book friends primarily on Instagram. I’m delighted to share that I was *almost* able to narrow down my top reads to 10 books (with a few honourable mentions and a series included), haha. Linking up with Steph & Jana and the Show us Your Books crew to share my top books today!!!

    (Oops. I wrote that paragraph, went to copy in my top 10 list and found a few I couldn’t leave off it so maybe there will be some extra honourable mentions LOL).

    1. LOVELY WAR by Julie Berry is THE BOOK this year that is likely to stay with me for years to come. It is the book that surprised me the most this year. It is one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to and it blew me away like a book hasn’t in years. As soon as I was finishing it, I texted Kristen to tell her this one will be close to Jane Austen’s books for a book I will love forever and always.
    2. THE PENDERWICKS by Jeanne Birdsall is maybe the best thing to come out of 2020 for our family, in some ways. We began this delightful series in…April? when we were super locked down to our home and these characters brought us so much infinite joy, some tears, and a lot of laughs. The second book was so exceptional that I actually sat and read ahead and finished it myself late one night instead of waiting to read it aloud to my kids. Yes, these are middle grade and not for everyone but fans of classics like Little Women should absolutely give these books a try.
    3. ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE by Louise Penny, the most recent Gamache book (# 16) did not disappoint me in the least. The fact that it was set in Paris was so fun for a little change, and we got to spend significant time reading about Gamache’s immediate family in a way unprecedented in other books. I couldn’t put this one down.
    4. ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman took me a little while to get into but by the end, I had laughed and cried and was absolutely entranced by his writing, just like I always am.
    5. THE FORGOTTEN HOME CHILD by Genevieve Graham this is a last-minute addition to this list of favourites because I can’t stop thinking about this incredible Canadian historical fiction novel.
    6. DEAR EMMIE BLUE by Lia Louis I went into this book with zero expectations and was sobbing 30 minutes into it. I can’t exactly explain the emotions I went through while reading this one but I absolutely loved it.
    7. A COURT OF MIST AND FURY & A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN by Sarah J. Maas were both infinitely better than A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES which I liked but did not love a few years ago. I am an undeniable fan of this series and her writing now and cannot wait to devour the new addition in the new year.
    8. BEACH READ by Emily Henry is another book that totally took me by surprise – I expected to love it but not as much as I did. It was deeper and more fleshed out than its title suggests.
    9. THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig I adored this book even though it was at times, desperately sad. It was also exceptionally well written!
    10. THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab the hype is pretty real for this book and I know a lot of people loved it as much as I did. I haven’t read anything as captivating as this one in a while.

    HONOURABLE MENTIONS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

    Just Mercy, An Ember in the Ashes, The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett, Where the Forest Meets the Stars, The Place on Dalhousie, Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow, Long Bright River, If I Never Met You, The House in the Cerulean Sea, The Jane Austen Society

    The Help, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse, Always Only You, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, The Henna Artist, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, The Vanishing Half

    This is a second collection of a collage of many books I loved reading in 2020.

    I also decided to give away one of these books on Instagram! Click to enter!!

    Do we share any of the same favourites from this year?! Let me know!!!

  • Walking in a Bookish Wonderland (Short Book Reviews for December)

    Hi book friends!! I’m here today for the last *real* Show us Your Books link-up for 2020! I’m so appreciative of Steph and Jana keeping this link-up running all year because talking about books and adding to my TBR has felt like one of those most normal things about 2020. Head over to their posts here and here to see everyone else’s posts today. They’re also doing a best of 2020 link up on December 29 this year and I’m going to try MY BEST to narrow it down to 10 books this year (I always fail at this but I’ve started planning ahead haha).

    My reading has been a total hodge-podge this year but particularly this month. Haha. I’m reading some shorter books because of my attention span, I’ve read a few books I wouldn’t normally ever seek out, and I feel like I haven’t read very MANY books at all because I’ve mostly sought out audiobooks. Anyway, here they are!

    Books that were Excellent:

    From the AshesFrom the Ashes by Jesse Thistle
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This memoir from Jesse Thistle was profoundly interesting, inspiring, heart-wrenching. moving, and WOW. His story is unlike any I’ve ever read. My online book club, The Canadian Book Enablers group, had the privilege of meeting Jesse on Zoom and hearing more about his experience since the book was published. It was so fascinating and made me truly feel like this is a book that needs to be in the hands of many.

    Home for the HolidaysHome for the Holidays by Sara Richardson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This little Christmas book was so sweet and heartwarming. I found myself instantly drawn into the lives of Rose (and her rich fiance’s family), Dahlia (and her role as a divorced mother to two sweet children), and Magnolia (who is just trying to find her way a bit with her husband and life). The idea of them all ending up at the Juniper Inn during a snowy Christmas season with their beloved but estranged aunt was fun and exciting. The secondary characters that were introduced were fun and intriguing. This book was predictable in all the ways I love – sometimes it’s just nice to read a cute family-focused-sister-based love story about the holidays when all the things you think and hope will happen DO happen. πŸ™‚ Zero complaints from this Christmas romance lover!! Highly recommend it if you enjoy Sarah Morgan’s Christmas books that focus a bit more on life than SUPER sappy love (though I enjoy those books too ;)). This one is pretty PG.

    Thank you to Netgalley and Forever for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #3)Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Ahhh it took me a little while to get into this new addition to the Nevermoor series but I think I just needed a moment to re-familiarize myself with the characters and the ending of Wundersmith. Some early chapters were focused around the holidays and that was SUPER fun (spoiler alert: The Deucalian is a fun place to be for Christmas…wow!!!). Once the Hollowpox concept was introduced, I really started to get into the book and was wondering how it would all pan out with Morrigan. It did wrap up a little tiny bit too quickly at the end for me AND left us hanging a little bit but we do know that this is going to be a lengthy series so I wasn’t too surprised by that. Parts of this book reminded me a bit of our current pandemic – lockdowns, trying to keep citizens safe, etc. It was a bit strange that it hit home that way, honestly! I enjoyed learning more about Nevermoor’s history and the previous Wundersmiths and if you can’t tell by this rambling review I just really love this series and will always enjoy reading it.
    (Half read, half-listened to this one – love the narrator)

    The Brilliant Life of Eudora HoneysettThe Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    4.5 stars – goodness gracious did I love the characters in this book. This reminds me of Eleanor Oliphant and A Man Called Ove and those types of books. Eudora and Rose and Stanley wormed their way right into my heart and won’t let go. If you adore books about seniors interacting with small children in any capacity, I would seek this one out but even that sentence does not do this story justice in any way.

    Eudora enjoying pizza for the first time? Loved it. Eudora’s unwavering care for her mother during the flashback parts of the book? Admirable. Stanley’s family? Fabulous. Rose’s fashion sense and dismay about becoming a big sister? Totally relatable. Read it!!!

    (Listened to most of this and enjoyed the narration immensely).

    Books that were Fine and Dandy

    Forever Wild (The Simple Wild, #2.5)Forever Wild by K.A. Tucker
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I adored this entire series and spending the holidays with Calla and Jonah and their families was a perfect way to end their story. There is a hint of future books to come for other characters though and SIGN ME UP FOR THAT PLEASE. I loved the storyline with Roy in this novella, it was lovely to have Agnes and Mabel around in this story and, of course, there were all the other lovely residents of Trappers Crossing to enjoy. All the warm fuzzies for this little love story conclusion.

    Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and ChangeKeep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I listened to this book basically in one sitting. It is very short but packs a powerful punch. I’m not necessarily the target audience for this one – it was focused a bit on moving on after divorce but I still found a lot of lines in it to be inspiring even just in the current climate we’re all in and accepting that things won’t be the way they used to be.

    New Puppy!: From New Puppy to Brilliant Family DogNew Puppy!: From New Puppy to Brilliant Family Dog by Beverley Courtney
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I read this book really quickly and highlighted half of it so that I can print it off and encourage my husband to help train our new puppy!! He thinks I’m taking this too seriously but I think NOW IS THE TIME to research how to do this. When I became a parent, I sought out a lot of advice and this is no different. I’d actually say this is a bit less intuitive so I want to do the best I can!!!

    So excited to read her other books and cement my plan for puppy training. πŸ™‚

    Stuck On YouStuck On You by Portia MacIntosh
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This is a perfect fluffy rom-com set around the holiday season. To me, Portia MacIntosh books are a less steamy and English version of Lauren Layne’s books. They always make me chuckle, I know what I’m getting, and the covers are gorgeous. Sadie and Damian were fun characters and I loved the way that Sadie’s family celebrates Christmas. Overall this book was a bit predictable but it didn’t stop my enjoyment during this season where my brain needed a little break. πŸ™‚

    Please Like Me [But Keep Away]Please Like Me [But Keep Away] by Mindy Kaling
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Lol

    This short little book really made me chuckle! I can relate to so much of what Mindy describes in this little story about social anxiety and wanting to spend time with people but not quite knowing how to find your people, etc. She also mentions her friendship with BJ Novak and I love that friendship so am always happy to read about it πŸ™‚ This took me about 20 minutes to read and there are a few others on KU written in short story format like this so I’ll seek them out too! All the Mindy, please. Are you a fan of hers?!

    Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #3)Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really liked the first book in this series, was a bit more lukewarm about the second, but I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this third installment in what seems to be a series that will continue. I LOVE when friends to lovers is done well, as it was in this book. I LOVED Noah and Alexis. I loved the Bromance book club boys in this book. The storyline about Alexis’ birth father and family was well done if not a *bit* unrealistic, potentially? Overall, this book held my attention better than many others I’ve read in recent months and was an enjoyable escape πŸ™‚ This series doesn’t HAVE to be read in order but might be better if it is.

    Nothing Special but Not too Bad

    Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Moose Springs, Alaska #2)Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    After enjoying the first in this series, I was antsy to get to this one too. Lana and Rick were adorable and it was fun to watch Lana navigate Moose Springs in all of her wonderful ways. It was a joy to read more about Zoey and Graeme from The Tourist Attraction, and of course there is a moose in this book too! (Or several, haha). I enjoyed these characters’ backstories and the role Rick’s nephew Diego played in the story as well. A fun Christmas read set right around the holidays with some laugh-out-loud cute moments πŸ™‚

    Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem (A Lady's Guide, #1)A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I had high expectations for this book and unfortunately, it fell just a tiny bit flat. I did enjoy the characters and the plot but I found the pace to be a little bit strange overall. I’ll wait to hear more about the continuation of the series before jumping into a future book.

    Thank you to Netgalley and Forever for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Currently reading: An Ember in the Ashes, Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First (arc) and some more puppy books!!! Any recommendations for more puppy books?! Lol. I’m also reading The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street aloud to my kiddos and it is SO GOOD.

    Hope everyone is having an excellent December and has a very very happy holiday season πŸ™‚

  • The one where I read all the fantastic books

    Hi there!! Happy November and happy week after the election to all of my American friends. WOW – what a week it has been. Unsurprisingly, all of this has been big news in Canada too and I got completely sucked into following the news more than usual last week. I did also do a bit of escapist reading and I have no regrets at all πŸ™‚

    Happily linking up with Steph & Jana today for Show us Your books November 2020! I’ve had some issues with my blog format and replying to comments in the last little bit and I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and figure it all out, but I will tomorrow on the Remembrance Day holiday. I will also comment on all the posts this time – I often start strong and forget to come back and follow up.

    My reading life has been great from an audiobook perspective lately, but I’ve read a few physical books and e-books too. Audiobooks just work to keep my brain incredibly engaged this year and I have zero complaints. At night, I still usually curl up with a book in print and I’ve been getting back into reading now that I’m taking public transit again but that was a slow go avoiding getting carsick for a bit there.

    Here are the books I’m happy to share short reviews for today:

    The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE is a book that will stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. I finished it yesterday after a whirlwind deep dive and obsession with it and I cannot stop thinking about it and all that it meant. If you’ve spent any time on Bookstagram this month, you’ve definitely seen this book appear and I fully believe the hype around it is for real.

    I have enjoyed one of Schwab’s other series immensely (A Darker Shade of Magic), but it took me a bit longer to familiarize myself with the world-building in that series. Addie LaRue was immediately entrancing, captivating, and oh-so-hard to put down. I alternated between reading and listening this beautiful book and I adored the narration as well (thank you, Julia Whelan).

    This book isn’t high fantasy – I’d call it more like magical realism with some fantasy elements. I loved Addie’s character, I empathized with her plight, I admired her tenacity, I envied her bravery, and I was continually drawn into her interesting and unique story. I can’t imagine living the life she did, but at the same time, I can’t believe how much time she had to see the many changes of the world. This book is set all over the world, but primarily in France and New York City as pictured here πŸ™‚

    I don’t want to say too much about the plot of this book because it is really best experienced firsthand but I implore you to pick this up and experience this lyrical and breathtaking story for yourself.

    Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock, #5)Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I adore this series, particularly on audio narrated by Kate Reading who is phenomenal. The romance lover in me especially loves Charlotte and Lord Ingram, of course, but all of the side characters are fun to read and the mystery in each book is always captivating and complex and stumps me. This book was no exception and I had to re-read several sections to piece together what exactly was happening with some of the new characters. Unsurprisingly, since the mysteries in these books have a very Sherlockian theme to them, this one took quite an unexpected twist (for me) near the end, and now I’m left dying for the next book in the series already. πŸ™‚

    I highly recommend this series and it is best read in order starting with A Study in Scarlet Women. The books feature a strong and fiercely independent woman with a wonderful circle of supporters and friends, a smidge of romance, and some excellent mysteries.

    (Loved doing this as a buddy read with Kristen)

    Goodbye Phone, Hello World: 65 Ways to Disconnect from Tech and Reconnect to JoyGoodbye Phone, Hello World: 65 Ways to Disconnect from Tech and Reconnect to Joy by Paul Greenberg
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This short book with excellent quotes and illustrations highlighted a few good phone habits I already have (for instance, no one in my family eats meals together in front of a screen AT ALL), but it also gave me so much food for thought about how much I need to maybe put down my phone for my own sanity and not just because of ignoring other people (which I try consciously not to do too, obviously).

    This was easily devoured in an afternoon and I’m still thinking about it a few weeks later so if this is a nudge you need, I recommend this book.

    Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Forever with You (Sapphire Springs #1)Forever with You by Barb Curtis
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I found it really easy to get into this book and I fell in love with the characters and their setting pretty quickly. The small-town feel and grandfathers-who-were-best-friends aspect was so fun and endearing. For a bit, I found it a bit difficult to believe how easily the second chance aspect of the romance came about but the story turned a bit into an ending that was easy to appreciate and root for entirely. πŸ™‚

    Looking forward to reading more from this lovely Canadian debut author in the future!! It seems that this will be a series and I CAN’T WAIT!! πŸ™‚

    Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Wild at Heart (Wild, #2)Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really, really liked The Simple Wild and 100% regret not reading it sooner, but I really really LOVED Wild at Heart. To be reunited with these characters was SO MUCH FUN. The new setting in Alaska was swoonworthy. I want to move there tomorrow and have my own pet goat and a husband who flies planes and a curmudgeonly neighbour and a bossy town-council woman and … well, actually I’m more of a city girl but the picture that was painted in this story was adventurous!!! There were a fair number of difficulties for Jonah and Calla to overcome here and I appreciated their road to better communication throughout the plot of this story. The character development felt more mature and real to me than in the first book and I can’t wait to flip open the novella on December 1 and be back with these characters I’d like to call friends πŸ™‚

    4.5/5 stars

    Instant KarmaInstant Karma by Marissa Meyer
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I HAVE loved some of Marissa Meyer’s other YA work (particularly Cinder and that whole series) but this fell a little bit flat for me overall. I did like the entire family of children who were named after Beatles songs, and I have a very soft spot in my heart for boy-and-girl twins for some reason, so that worked well for me too. The audiobook was well narrated. The book just felt a little bit too long and it didn’t feel like enough was happening to hold my interest for a 13-hour audiobook. Sometimes this happens to me with YA these days and it can be a lot more about me than the book itself.

    Thank you to Netgalley, Edelweiss, Macmillan Audio, and Feiwel & Friends for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Troubles in Paradise (Paradise, #3)Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This was an unputdownable conclusion to this trilogy. The funny thing about me with Elin Hilderbrand books is that I like them because I can’t put them down, but I don’t ABSOLUTELY love them. There is always an aspect of the character or the plots that I just can’t get behind. This book tied up a lot of loose ends, especially with the mystery aspect that started off at the beginning of the first book. A lot of the relationships also worked themselves out a bit and I appreciated that too haha. Overall, this series was a good brain break and fun to read but not a beloved favourite or anything like that. Anyone else share this opinion?

    Sister DearSister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This book is a thriller, but it doesn’t completely feel like it until near the end. However, I still really enjoyed the story and felt for Eleanor and her situation. I didn’t love all of the chargers but I did find the plot interesting and the charcuterie intriguing. After the halfway point I became quite invested in how it would all work out, so that was good. The ending took quite a wild turn that I did NOT see coming and was quite saddened by, but after chatting with the author with my Canadian book club on Zoom, she shared what would have happened years into the future and that was AWESOME.

    Enjoyed this one immensely on audio.

    A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    There were parts of this book that I really, really enjoyed, and parts that felt long and needed editing and were just a bit over my head or caused me to lose interest. Overall, I will continue with the series and I did appreciate some of the history and understood why it was necessary to the story. Loved the love story, for the most part. VERY interested in the actual history of Diana’s family and parents. Looking forward to watching it on TV sometime, too! Not sure I will continue the series immediately, but someday.

    I also re-read Things You Save in a Fire to finish off Erin’s challenge (LOVED it even more this time), read the 4th book in the Steampunk series by Nancy Campbell Allen, the last two books in the Oxford series by Lauren Layne, and a delightful Abigail Reynolds book. Currently reading a few too many to share, as usual, but MOSTLY reading Mistletoe & Mr. Right, Hollowpox, and A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Mayhem.

    What have you been reading lately?! Anything good that I need to squeeze in before 2020 is over???