• A Few Quick Words about Quite a Few Books πŸ™‚

    Hi there!!! I’m surprised to find this thing still on. Hehe. September is always, always, always a busy month and this one was no exception as we adjusted to school starting and new routines and work stuff. I haven’t been reading at anywhere near my usual pace, but I’m happy and enjoying the books I’m reading so no complaints!!! I’m also filling my non-reading time with the things I enjoy, so it is all good. Linking up today with Steph and Jana for Show us Your Books on this, the 6th anniversary link up!!! They have a giveaway going on today too!!

    Book in the leaves showcasing the 6th anniversary of the Show us Your Books link up!

    Here are some of the books I’ve read lately:


    The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their LivesThe Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Stixrud
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I absolutely loved this book and I am so glad I followed along with Everyday Reading’s book club chat about it all month. This made me think SO MUCH about parenting and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. If you have children or work with children (potentially as a teacher), there is a lot to chew on in this book.

    The Pull of the StarsThe Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book absolutely blew me away. The story takes place over the course of only several days in the maternity/flu ward at a hospital in Dublin, Ireland in 1918. Our main character and protagonist, Nurse Julia Power, cares for several expectant mothers and babies in one cramped ward of the hospital while also meeting two other women who affect her future life in absolutely profound ways.
    This writing is phenomenal – I couldn’t believe how well I could picture the hospital room and the patients and all of it. I loved unpeeling the layers of the characters and not knowing how everything would end. In many ways, it felt like this took place over a longer period of time but the way it was told was so unique and such a snapshot of a very specific location during that pandemic.

    It is a book that pulled at my heart-strings and I will not soon forget it. It was also super interesting to read about a pandemic DURING another pandemic. Trigger warning: stillbirth, war PTSD

    The Midnight LibraryThe Midnight Library by Matt Haig
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I follow Matt Haig on Instagram, so I’d seen him talking about this book, and my interest was definitely piqued. I was delighted to receive a digital advanced copy from Viking and Edelweiss. I picked this book up one Saturday evening and could barely put it down until I finished it within 24 hours.

    The premise of this book reminds me a smidge of Oona out of Order and maybe even a little smidge of Dark Matter, though it is less scientific than that book I also loved. The book does require you to suspend belief a little bit because Nora dies & spends the majority of the book between life and death in a place called The Midnight Library. At this point, she is able to revisit some of her life regrets and relive those lives and learn more about herself and her family and friends and choices.

    Overall, this was extremely fascinating as a concept, very well-written and compulsively readable. Touches a lot on mental health, which is not unexpected from Matt Haig.

    Arc received from Edelweiss and Viking Books in exchange for an honest review

    Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and YouStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This book was excellent and I will absolutely be introducing it to my children in the coming years and listening again. It felt very digestible and was even funny at times, as only Jason Reynolds can pull off with this subject matter. Very, very well done.

    The Watsons/SanditonThe Watsons/Sanditon by Jane Austen
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I highly enjoyed this audiobook but it was very strange for it to end partway through, even though I knew that would be the case. Cannot wait to watch the show now!

    The Simple Wild (Wild, #1)The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I’d been meaning to read this book since it came out but my Canadian bookstagram friends finally talked about it enough that I knew I had to get to it sooner rather than later. I’m happy to say that I now CANNOT WAIT to start the second in the series, WILD AT HEART, ASAP! I enjoyed Calla’s journey to meet and spend time with her father and all that she discovered about herself along the way.

    Of course, I would be remiss without mentioning the adorable romance in this book as well as the events that caused me to tear up a bit. Jonah was highly entertaining and easy to adore. As was Agnes and Diana and Simon and so many other characters. This book was well-written and I really and truly appreciated it when I finished.

    One More for Christmas: A NovelOne More for Christmas: A Novel by Sarah Morgan
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I’ve enjoyed many of Sarah Morgan’s other books and this cover drew me right in. Her Christmas books are some of my favourite. This one drew me right in and I chuckled instantly at how the first few chapters unfolded. I was delighted with the Scotland setting like her previous Christmas book I’d enjoyed and the entire premise was fun but also emotional and captivating. Overall, I’d highly recommend this Christmas read if you like some family drama that moves towards a resolution, sweet romance with adorable characters, and a fun holiday setting in the Scottish highlands. I want everyone I know who loves this genre to add this to their list and I will be purchasing a copy for a few friends for Christmas.

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


    When No One is WatchingWhen No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I have to admit it took me quite a while to get into this book. I did ultimately really enjoy it though, especially in the second half. After finishing, I do realize now that the first half was necessary to set up a LOT of the end story but the pace of this book threw me off a little bit.

    Several of the characters in this book were easy to feel for. I did spend some time wondering who exactly to trust. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough in about the last 15%, so that tells you something! Other than that, I wouldn’t call this a TRUE thriller though the ending absolutely did have that WOW factor. This book also went in a direction I was not expecting in regard to racism and gentrification and capitalism. Wow. My eyes were opened to a few scenarios/situations there despite this actual book being fiction – I am certain it was based in fact.

    I did end up listening to maybe 50% of this on audio and that was excellently well done too. Thank you so much to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    You Had Me at HolaYou Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This audiobook was very well narrated and I really flew right through it, very keen to find out what happened to these delightful characters. Their chemistry was perfect, and the entire plot was unique and fun. If you are looking for a fresh and different own voices romance, this would be a great one to pick up.

    The Twelve Dates of ChristmasThe Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    3.5 stars. This book made me laugh a lot and I really did enjoy it a lot. It was a cute and cozy Christmas read with adorable characters. I just wanted a little bit of a longer ending, but maybe a sequel someday?!

    A Princess for ChristmasA Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    3.5 stars – this book was absolutely adorable and fluffy and if you like Hallmark Christmas movies and their cheesiness and predictability, this book is totally for you. The characters were lovely, the setting was ideal, and of course, the ending is soooo cute. πŸ™‚

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

    Jar of HeartsJar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book did a huge number on me. I binge listened to it one day and at times felt completely blown away and at other times felt absolutely sick to my stomach. It is NOT a book for those who are weak in the stomach. LOL. This is an unputdownable thriller with a ton of twists and turns and I definitely recommend.

    Currently Reading:

    Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas, A Discovery of Witches, and Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts. πŸ™‚

    What have you been reading lately?!?

  • All the Books I’ve Been Reading (And Not Reading) Lately

    Today is an exciting day! My children went back to school this morning for the first time since March 13!! They were beyond excited and I am happy for them. We have had low case numbers of Covid-19 in our Atlantic provinces all summer and though things could change at any time, I am happy they are back where they feel happy and a new routine is in place.

    I’ve gotten a bit of my reading mojo back but it comes in waves. I am just finding other things to occupy my time and part of it is due to summer time and being actually allowed to socialize in small groups – part of it is getting the kiddos ready for school and all that comes with that and part of it is just being absorbed still by the news and everything else out there to consume. Ah well, it will all work out!! πŸ™‚

    Linking up with Steph & Jana today to channel some of my nervous excitement into book reviews!! Happy September Show us Your Books link up!

    Books I Read Lately and Loved:

    Hurry HomeHurry Home by Roz Nay
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book grabbed my attention instantly and I had difficulty deciding which characters to trust throughout the book. The story was so well told with alternating chapters and although I think I had a niggling sense of how it might play out, I didn’t quite see it going the way it did – especially right at the end. Quite a thrilling book to read and hard to put down!! I enjoyed the audiobook narration as well.

    You’ll notice my review is specifically vague – I think this one is best to go into without knowing too much, but I will say that it falls more on the “family drama” thriller end than the crime thriller type of story. Highly recommend.

    The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the HorseThe Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    The message and illustrations in this short book are absolutely magnificent. Would make a perfect coffee-table book or a gift for a friend who needs just a little bit of love.

    In a HolidazeIn a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was an utter Christmassy delight from start to finish. I love the unique Groundhog-day like premise of reliving the same Christmas vacation but I was also relieved when it eventually settled into one timeline (sometimes it is easy to get attached to certain plot points and not want them to disappear!!!)
    I loved the inclusion of such a fun close-knit group of family friends in this book. The characters were endearing and fun and all so different. It wasn’t hard to picture myself sitting in the living room with them all celebrating Christmas. Their Christmas traditions sounded so fun and it was also interesting to consider the idea of breaking tradition a bit and changing things up. The ROMANCE in this book was also adorable and swoony and SO GOOD. No complaints at all.
    This will be the go-to Christmas romance of the year this year for good reason! Highly recommend it and it didn’t feel weird to read it on a hot summer day at all – despite it being set at Christmas, it doesn’t feel like a Hallmark Christmas movie (at least not to me).

    Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

    Anxious PeopleAnxious People by Fredrik Backman
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I started this book slowly and put it down and picked it up many times for about a month until something clicked and I flew through the latter half in a day without being able to think of much else. The premise of this book takes a little while to get used to – there are a lot of characters, and it isn’t entirely clear where the plot is going but boy does it ever come full circle and pack a punch at the end. Backman’s writing is unlike anything I have experienced and there were so many moments when this book brought me to tears, made me nod my head in solidarity, or just gaze in awe at the description of something so universal. He has an uncanny gift of writing about human emotion in a way that is so relatable even if the character is nothing like oneself. Here, he tackles themes of mental health (anxiety, obviously, and depression, and grief as well). His writing reflects upon marriage, parenthood, and career choices. There are several pivotal events that tie the seemingly random characters together in unforeseen ways. There are moments of abundant kindness and concern for one’s fellow humans.

    There were plenty of humorous moments too and at one point I couldn’t stop laughing about something that was happening and had to try to explain it to my children because they were so curious (of course, they didn’t think it was quite as funny, but they smiled).

    Each of these characters lodged themselves firmly into my heart and I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It might not be for everyone and there were moments in the beginning when I was unsure myself how much I’d love it, but overall, I cannot wait to read it again and underline a bunch of amazing phrases.

    Thank you to Atria for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I won’t soon forget this novel.

    Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Sign me up to spend more time with the Baylor family now and forever. Ahhh this book was good.
    The entire series continues to blow me away with its unique storylines. It took me a few chapters to catch back up in my head with what was going on with the Baylors but not too long overall.

    Catalina is such a strong, confident female character who has stepped into immense power and handled it incredibly. I really adore her and her leadership and family values. Dare I say in some ways I like her better than Nevada? Not actually, maybe, but tied potentially?

    The actual plot of this book was also very cool (and complicated) and I really enjoyed the science behind what was happening in the Pit and all of the drama about that. It certainly made it hard to put the book down.

    Of course, I enjoyed the love story and final conclusion as well and CANNOT WAIT to read the next book in this series after a bit of a cliffhanger epilogue!!!! AHHH need it now.

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

    Other Books I Enjoyed

    Thick as ThievesThick as Thieves by Sandra Brown
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This book kept me flipping the pages quickly and I did find the plot interesting. It was fast-paced, but the characters overall just fell a little bit flat for me. I did find a few of the plot twists interesting and unexpected though!! If you’ve enjoyed Sandra Brown’s other books, I’m sure this one will hold your interest like it did mine.

    Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the gifted copy!!

    Woman on the EdgeWoman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Wow! This book certainly kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. At one point I did have an inkling of what might be going on but then my brain took me in a different direction and I was so unsure if I was right! I love it when a book makes me feel that way. I won’t say too much about the plot of this, but this is a bit of a domestic thriller and it passed the time quite nicely!

    Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was really good! At first, I wasn’t sure if I was loving it, because witches and those who aim to kill them didn’t feel like my thing, but eventually the characters REALLY grew on me. I still wouldn’t say this is my absolute preferred world of magic compared to other fantasy series I loved more, but the plot was interesting, the ending was VERY interesting, and I look forward to reading the second book in the series. The audiobook narration was very well done.

    And that’s about it! Currently reading The Self Driven Child and The Tourist Attraction on audio and When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. Also reading The Secret Garden to the kids – both of whom COULD NOT BE more obsessed with the Land of Stories series if you’re looking for some long middle grade books to keep your young bookworms entertained. πŸ™‚

  • 10 Awesome Series that I’d Love to See on Netflix Someday (Top Ten Tuesday)

    It’s been years since I linked up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday but I happened upon this topic and couldn’t resist!!! This is one of my favourite topics to talk about with book-loving friends so I had to put together a list of beloved series that I’d love to see adapted for Netflix (or another streaming service) someday!

    1. Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series – I love these books and I think they would be so fun to watch on screen – British accents, hate-to-love, and sooo much fun.

    2. Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series – this wacky family of brothers and one sister would make EXCEPTIONAL TV – I’d love to see the setting, in particular.

    3. Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series – you know how much I love this series. It is basically my favourite of all time, really. The film adaptation of the first book is SO not good but I think it would adapt better to TV with better producers.

    4. Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series – This series is abundantly fun and has some novellas too so there could be a lot of storylines to enjoy.

    5. Nancy Campbell Allen’s Steampunk Romance series – these steampunk fairytale books are unlike anything I’ve ever read and would be exceptional for teens – so unique and would be incredible to see on a screen

    6. Juno Rushdan’s Final Hour series – I can just picture the cliffhangers that would happen at the end of some episodes if this ever became a TV series. I think it would be a bit like Homeland.

    7. Noelle Adams’ Pemberley House series – these novellas are modern retellings of Jane Austen’s books and I would LOVE to see these characters in a short mini-series. Give me all the modern Austen, please.

    8. Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series – Another series that I absolutely adore – it would be delightful to watch Stoker and Veronica banter on screen and the historical mystery element of this series would be fascinating for sure.

    9. Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks series – gosh, I cannot stop talking about my love for this middle-grade series that is reminiscent of Little Women but set in modern times (and very much its own). I am constantly on the hunt for wholesome TV for my children and a series like this would fit the bill perfectly.

    10. Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series – these books could easily appeal to men and women (a bit more than their covers suggest) on TV with all of the war-fighting and magic. So fun. I love a good urban fantasy.

  • Has Your Reading Concentration Gone Down Lately too?

    Happy August, everyone!! I’ve had moments lately when I cannot get ENOUGH of reading and other times when I can’t focus on a book for longer than 3 minutes ever. This almost always happens to me in the summer and this summer is probably just a little bit more like that, but what can ya do?! I’ve still read some great books lately and hoping to finish a few more this week while we are camping!! πŸ™‚

    Linking up today (as always) with Steph & Jana for Show us Your books. I won’t get to reading anyone’s posts or replying to comments until at least Thursday when I’m back in the land of the internet but looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been reading lately!

    Books I Couldn’t Put Down

    28 Summers28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
    When I first found out what this book was mainly about, I wasn’t sure about it…but it was SO easy to read and sink into and really just the perfect kind of slightly scandalous, nostalgic, time-after-time summer read that really hits the spot. The ending hit me hard. The snippets of each of the 28 years were some of my favourite things ever. Thankful to my mom for getting this from the library and polishing it off in 24 hours so I could have it too πŸ˜‰

    The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
    This book was being touted as a book that Harry Potter lovers would love, so any time I see that I get to that book ASAP. This book was unlike any I’ve read and the closest thing I could think of with it was the Fantastic Beasts movies with the Creedence storyline. This is middle-grade fantasy and I couldn’t get enough of it on audio. The voices were fantastic, the plot and story were great, and it flew by. If that’s a genre you like, I definitely recommend this one. Can’t wait to share it with my kids in a few years because there’s plenty of underlying messages to unpack here.

    A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
    WOW!!! After feeling very neutral about A Court of Thorns and Roses and totally blown away by A Court of Mist and Fury, I am happy to report that I REALLY loved this book too. So good. I did this half audio/half reading the e-book and it was very, very hard to put down – especially near the end. I love these characters so much and it has been a long time since I’ve been so invested in characters. I am hard put to decide between this book and its predecessor for my favourite in this series, but there was a lot to love about this one and I felt a bit more emotional at times.

    I can’t wait for the next book to come in January and I’ll be reading the novella within the month here too. ALL the love for this series. Also, is it just me or is EVERYONE reading these books right now? So much love for this series but it is well deserved, in my opinion.

    Always Only You (Bergman Brothers, #2)Always Only You by Chloe Liese
    This lovely, romantic, funny, sweet book hooked me in RIGHT away and was absolutely adorable. I’d forgotten how much I like sports romances when they are done well. It was also impossible not to root for Frankie, who was so determined and independent. It is always beyond refreshing to read about a mature and gentlemanly male lead in a romance novel, especially one who is single but drives a Honda Odyssey in order to be able to drive other people around when need be πŸ˜‰

    This book was an #ownvoices read as the author is on the autism spectrum just like Frankie and the acknowledgments section was fascinating and heartfelt to read. Frankie also has rheumatoid arthritis and the approach taken to that aspect of her character felt very real and well done, in my opinion.

    I can’t wait to go back and read the first book in this series (they stand alone no problem but the first couple seems LOVELY too) and the next one next year!!! It’s always a joy to find a new series like this to love.

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

    A Few Other Books That I Enjoyed

    Harbor MeHarbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
    This short book was excellent on audio and I really liked all of the characters. Jacqueline Woodson’s writing is just soooo good. This book is pure YA gold.

    City SpiesCity Spies by James Ponti
    When my almost 9-year-old raved about this book, I knew I needed to read it too. The audiobook was excellent and this was a fast-paced, interesting story. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series as it comes out.

    The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and PowerThe Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole
    This book opened my eyes 100% more than I was expecting. Most of the books about race I’ve been reading in the last few months have centered on events in the States, but this one was almost exclusively about the current prevalence of systemic racism in Canada. I was introduced to a few terms I was unfamiliar with, such as carding. My eyes were opened to a myriad of unbelievably devastating events regarding police and persons of color in Canada, some of which I did hear about at the time, others, not at all. I was particularly humbled to realize that I am absolutely one of the people who has always felt that the police are there to keep us safe and I have now realized that there are plenty of people out there who do NOT feel that way at all.

    Books like this challenge the narrow-minded view I’ve always had due to my white privilege and I really want to continue working on broadening my perspective and learning more about how to foster change in my own country.

    The Honest Enneagram: Know Your Type, Own Your Challenges, Embrace Your GrowthThe Honest Enneagram: Know Your Type, Own Your Challenges, Embrace Your Growth by Sarajane Case
    I read half and listened to half of this book and the audiobook was very well narrated. I do think there is some benefit to seeing some of the diagrams in the e-book/printed book but they are still well described in the audiobook.

    I found this interesting overall and can “think” of people who might be examples of certain types. I enjoy her H.O.N.E.S.T philosophy and gentleness when talking about the strengths and weaknesses of each type. I think I might have gotten a bit more out of this overall if I was more familiar with my own type and the Enneagram in general because it isn’t a true overview, but that’s my fault and not the book’s fault. It certainly gave me a lot to think about and explore some of the types a bit more as I discover mine. I look forward to following the author on social media and learning more about this interesting personality typing.

    Thank you to Andrew McMeels Publishing, Netgalley, and Edelweiss for the e-arc and the ALC! πŸ™‚

    I’m currently reading Anxious People, Fredrik Backman’s new book that comes out Sept 8 (it is SO good), and listening to the 5th in Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James’ series.

    What are you reading? What do you hope to read soon? Have a great rest of the summer!!

  • Fun Ways to Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday

    I first read (some of ) the Harry Potter books aloud to my children (mostly my older daughter) in the fall of 2018. She was/is completely obsessed now but we haven’t read past the 4th book yet. Last summer, since we weren’t doing TOO many exciting things, I decided it would be fun to take a whole day to do nothing but celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday at the end of July. We celebrated on July 30, 2019 (a day early – my fault, oops!), but this year we’re going to do some of these activities today, which is July 31- Harry’s 40th birthday!!

    I’ve included a few pictures from our celebration last year as well as some other ideas we’ll be doing this year, in case you want any ideas for foods that might be fun for a similar celebration πŸ™‚

    Us celebrating Harry Potter's birthday in July 2019 wearing our fancy t-shirts :)

    1) Make t-shirts or Golden Snitch necklaces. If you aren’t crafty, you can buy these things too! We made these t-shirts last year with fabric paint and they turned out great!

    2) Make chocolate frogs (I use THIS frog mold)

    3) Drink Butterbeer (either non-alcoholic or alcoholic though I’ll let you guess which kind I prefer, hehe). Here’s a great recipe!

    4) Do the online Harry Potter escape room OR this at-home escape room if you have time to plan ahead. I have planned and prepped for the AT HOME Escape room to do tomorrow as a fun pick me up and I know my kids are going to be beyond excited.

    5) Get sorted into your Hogwarts house! There is a quiz on Pottermore and also one here that you don’t need an account to take. I’m a Hufflepuff, which took me a while to be OK with but I am proud now. πŸ˜‰ My children are also Hufflepuffs lol.

    6) Do some Harry Potter yoga! My kids love this one. We also want to try this one but I need to do it myself first to make sure there aren’t any spoilers. πŸ™‚

    7) Read a Harry Potter book, listen to an audiobook, or watch one of the movies! We just started Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone again for -the umpteenth time, but this will be my 6 year old’s first true experience with the book so it’s pretty exciting πŸ™‚

    8) Eat some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, or Sherbet Lemons! Last year, I also made Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, Golden Snitch Energy Balls, Gillyweed (Kale chips), and Pumpkin Juice. It was a lot of treats πŸ˜‰

    9) Play Quidditch! This is probably a better activity for a celebration not during Covid-restriction time, but I did this once with my friends in University and honestly, we had a BLAST. I should do a whole post about this some time if I can find the pictures.

    10) Play a Harry Potter game like this one (we love it) or do a Harry Potter lego set OR listen to one of the soundtracks πŸ™‚

    Hope you all have a great weekend, and a wonderful August! July flew by (I have no idea where the time went!), but August is my birthday month so I can’t wait!

  • Books I’ve Read and Enjoyed Lately

    It feels like it has been a long time since a Show us Your Books linkup! When I went to look, I realized that it had in fact been 5 weeks (due to the timing of the weeks) πŸ™‚ How is everyone’s summer going? I have been reading up a storm after a bit of a COVID-19 lull there for a few months. I have read some fantastic books lately and I’m excited to share them!! Check out Steph & Jana’s blogs for more bookish posts! I’m on vacation with my family this week at cottages a few hours away so I won’t get to read all the other posts till later in the week.

    This is an image of a collage of books that Heather has read in the past month.

    I’ve been reading a lot lately so I included a TL;DR at the bottom πŸ˜‰

    The SwitchThe Switch by Beth O’Leary
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    The Switch was one of my most anticipated books of 2020, so much so that I debated buying it from the UK to get it a few months early until my friend bought it for me & it arrived in the mail!! The premise of this book sounded fantastic, and it was. Leena and her grandmother (and her mother) have both had a rough year after Leena’s only beloved sister lost her battle with cancer. Leena has a panic attack at work one day and is told to take 2 months of paid vacation. She goes down to visit her grandmother in a quaint English (adorable) town called Hamleigh and ultimately convinces her grandmother to swap places for 2 months.
    This book is told in two perspectives, and I loved them both. I am a total sucker for small-town characters, and the ones in this book were fantastic. I loved Leena’s friends in London too whom her grandmother Eileen spends time with. There were really just so many lovely characters to root for and love in this book.
    In many ways, this reminds me of the movie The Holiday, but with one of the house swap people being 79, there were some different layers to the plot, including a lot of no-nonsense life wisdom.
    I loved this book so much and in a completely different way than I loved her debut, The Flatshare. Can’t wait for it to be out in North America in August.

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

    The Remarkable Journey of Coyote SunriseThe Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    A few people recommended this book and I was quite intrigued by the cover so I requested it on audio and when it became available, I started it immediately. This book sucked me in immediately and I fell in LOVE with Coyote and her many fun friends on a road trip. This book was both parts absolutely hilarious and absolutely heartbreaking and so well done for a middle-grade book about grief. Cannot recommend it enough – plus, road trip books are always fun in the summer!!

    Inside Out & Back AgainInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This was a quick but powerful read. I tried to read it to my older daughter and she got completely lost in the language, so we will try again in the future. I personally loved the verse it was told in and the story itself.

    Excellent if you are looking to immerse yourself in what is presumably a completely different cultural experience than many of us born and raised in North America.

    Dear Emmie BlueDear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I went into this book knowing very little about it, and then I flew through the first 50% in one sitting from 8-11 pm one night. I woke up and promptly finished it. This book took me completely by surprise and caused me to tear up, sob, laugh, grimace, and cheer on the inside all at once. Emmie Blue is a character who absolutely steals your heart and you want everything to work out for her against all odds.
    Throughout this story, you find out about Emmie and Lucas, who have the MOST serendipitous meeting you could ever imagine at age 16. Emmie experienced a devastating situation one night and wrote a message attached to a red balloon that she let go of. Lucas, who had just moved to France from London and was desperately angsty and homesick, finds her balloon and emails her and they become best friends. Throughout the years of their friendship, it grows and changes and is ultimately put to the test when Lucas gets engaged. There’s another important character in this scenario too – Lucas’ older half-brother Eliot.
    Emmie has unbelievably loveable friends and a landlady who unfolds as a main character throughout the book as well. This story will tug at your heartstrings and be difficult to put down. It has been months since I’ve read a book that made me as emotional as this one did. I absolutely loved it.

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

    Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the BeastBeauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really, really enjoyed reading this book aloud to my children although I do feel that parts of it may have gone over their head language-wise. No worries, they can always re-read it in the future πŸ™‚ The language in this book is beautifully lyrical, the story is familiar but different, and the characters are endearing. Fantastic if you are a fan of Beauty & the Beast in any format.

    The Heir Affair (Royal We, #2)The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    After I absolutely adored The Royal We, I was delighted to find out that there was a sequel coming out. I loved this book nearly as much in very different ways. I can’t necessarily say that it is more serious, although maybe parts of it are (there are some BIG serious events in the first book though, let’s be honest)…the characters do feel a bit more grown-up though. I loooooved Eleanor in this book and how her relationship with Bex evolves. I LOVED all of the royal history and a few major events that happen around lineage and inheritance. Of course, it was a joy to read more about Nick and Bex and Freddie and all of their friends. I really enjoyed the way certain topics were handled in this book, and I loved the ending.

    Thank you so much to Grand Central Publishing for the finished copy in exchange for an honest review. If you loved The Royal We, I definitely believe you will adore this book too.

    Paradise CoveParadise Cove by Jenny Holiday
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I might have enjoyed this one even a smidge more. Jenny Holiday’s books are some of my favourite contemporary romances. I love the small-town setting, all of the side characters, and the personal and emotional plotlines she weaves effortlessly into her stories.
    Nora and Jake were adorable and SO much fun to read about. Moonflower Bay seems like an adorable and fun place to live and absolutely reminds me of Stars Hollow, as is referenced once in this book. There are some sad/triggering moments in this book but I found those plotlines were handled really well. Cannot WAIT for the third book in this series next summer.

    Thank you to Netgalley and Forever for the e-ARC and the finished paperback in exchange for an honest review.

    Today Tonight TomorrowToday Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Like it says in the blurb, this book reminded me a LOT of a cross between The Hating Game and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Rowan Roth (aka Artoo as a cute R2D2 reference) and Neil McNair have pushed each other throughout high school to better one another and be the best in their classes. On the last day of school, the senior class traditionally plays a game called Howl which is a bit like assassin and Rowan and Neil end up pairing up. Of course, once they are stuck together, they get to know things about each other they hadn’t known at all in the 4 years they competed against each other and they don’t hate what they learn about each other.

    This is pure fun YA and if you’re a fan of that genre, this one should definitely be on your radar. It moves quickly and is quirky and fun and nostalgic. The fact that Rowan loves romance novels and is writing one of her own is just icing on the cake πŸ™‚

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review from Simon & Schuster Canada and Netgalley

    The Girl with the Louding VoiceThe Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi DarΓ©
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It took me a little while to get used to this book, but once I got to “know” Adunni, I realized she was one of the easiest characters to root for EVER. She was so young and had so much growing up to do SO quickly that it was heartbreaking, but also SO inspiring. The dialect in this novel is one of the best parts even though it takes a bit to adjust to it. In many ways, this was a hard book to read, but it’s a story that needed to be told. (Enjoyed the audiobook)

    Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #2)Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I definitely enjoyed this book somewhat more than the first in this series, but it still lacked a little something for me personally. Overall, I really, really liked the characters but I didn’t feel as emotionally connected to them as I have in other similar-genre books. Still, the ending was adorable, Nick was a total sweetheart, and I did laugh out loud once or twice mostly due to a hilariously immature secondary character πŸ˜‰ True to its premise, this book absolutely reads just like a cheesy rom-com so it definitely fits that bill!!
    Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    The Henna ArtistThe Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It took me a little while to familiarize myself with these characters, but I was pretty soon completely hooked on this story. I was profoundly moved by Lakshmi’s tenacity as a single-ish woman in 1950s Jaipur who encounters numerous roadblocks on her journey but never stops standing up for herself. All of the supporting characters are totally endearing too. This was a time period and part of the world that I knew very little about, and I enjoyed learning more about it through this fantastic fictional tale.
    BONUS: I was able to join in a book club Zoom call with the author and she is lovely!!! Her tale of writing this book and its sequels (!!!!!) was incredible to hear first hand.
    I listened to this on audiobook but I had to look up a lot of the spellings just so I knew myself. The audio narration was extremely well done.

    The DilemmaThe Dilemma by B.A. Paris
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    WOW!! This book was nearly impossible to put down. I could not flip the pages fast enough. I went into it expecting a similar genre to B.A. Paris’ other books – i.e. a bit of a psychological thriller, and this one was more along the lines of family secrets/drama. It reminded me a bit of Liane Moriarty’s books. There was a lot to unpack here, and everything happened over a short period of time with reference to past events and time periods. I adored this family, felt very emotional about everything that happened, and felt that this book was exactly what I needed (i.e. an escape that held my attention SO completely). PERFECT summer beach read that is not fluffy or filler – deals with some very serious things.

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

    The Stars From Me to YouThe Stars From Me to You by Nicole Bea
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book grabbed my attention immediately because I love stories about twins and I was heartbroken when one twin (Rion) was in a coma at the beginning of this story. I was intrigued by his twin Bellamie’s ability to communicate with him while he is in limbo. This was an excellent middle grade read about sexuality, identity, mental health, and family.

    Thank you to Nevermore Press & the author for the finished copy in exchange for an honest review!

    The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project, #1)The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I really enjoyed this fun office romance with good characters, an intriguing plot that I didn’t see coming, and great chemistry. Samiah and Daniel were too much fun and their workplace sounds like a dream!! I can’t wait to read the next couple of books in this series (I hope!!) Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for granting my wish for an ARC!!

    Love LetteringLove Lettering by Kate Clayborn
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Overall, I really really liked this book. I’d been seeing it everywhere and hearing about it for months, and it wasn’t quite what I expected but I was quite happy with how it played out. There was a surprise element at the end that I have to admit I did NOT anticipate in the least, so that was interesting. This book was well written, unique (I LOVED all the games about seeing letters in NYC) and definitely made me want to visit New York and look at all the signs and sights and art.
    I also really like Meg and Reid together and the way they met again. Loved Reid’s family and Meg’s character development throughout the story. ESPECIALLY loved the ending, obviously.

    Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters, #2)Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    After enjoying Get a Life, Chloe Brown earlier this year, I was antsy to read about her sister Dani in this second book in the series. I have to admit that I liked this book even more than Chloe’s. Dani was such a likable character, and I *loved* her and Zaf together and their story. This is a classic “fake relationship starts to feel like more” type of story but it was handled a bit differently than many other books and I was impressed with the depth of these characters’ development and how their pasts affected their present and future lives and relationships. I also really enjoyed the supporting characters, including Zaf’s family and Dani’s best friend and sisters.
    A perfect summer contemporary romance, in my humble opinion!!
    Thank you to Avon and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I also read the 2nd book in Sarah J Maas’ Court series (A Court of Mist and Fury), The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Adventures with Waffles with my kiddos, and a few other books not worth mentioning. LOVING the Court series!!

    I read Me and White Supremacy and White Fragility too – I recommend both of these but I still need more. Any other recommendations?!

    TL;DR: I highly recommend The Switch (it’s listen now on Netgalley audiobooks!!!), Dear Emmie Blue, The Henna Artist, The Girl with the Louding Voice, and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. I also loved Paradise Cove and The Heir Affair but you’d have to read the first in those series first πŸ™‚

    Currently Reading: City Spies on audio for Molly & A Court of Wings and Ruin. I’ll probably try to read a book on the beach this week too! πŸ™‚ What are you reading?!

  • June 2020 Book Reviews

    Just like that, I blinked and it’s already time for the Show us Your Books link up. I’m still having a precarious relationship with books because I no longer have my usual 90 min transit commute to work nor does my brain always have the capacity for audiobooks after listening to adorable children chatter all day. This is just the reality these days. πŸ™‚

    Here’s what I’ve been reading lately. A couple of hits and a few “misses”. Linking up with Steph and Jana!!!

    The Last Letter from JulietThe Last Letter from Juliet by Melanie Hudson
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This audiobook was extremely well done. The story itself was definitely captivating and I truly enjoyed the dual perspectives, which is typically the case for me with historical fiction. I had some issues with some of the content but I did really enjoy the characters.

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

    Experimental Marine Biology (Chemistry Lessons, #5)Experimental Marine Biology by Susannah Nix
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I have enjoyed all of the books in Susannah Nix’s Chemistry Lessons series, but I think the 4th was still my favourite of them all. That being said, this book was adorable and sweet and fun. The characters were a blast and I enjoy series in which you get to “catch up” with past characters from the earlier books. This would make a good summer read especially if you enjoy female characters working towards STEAM careers and standing up for what they believe in.

    Thank you to the author for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review πŸ™‚

    I Was Told It Would Get EasierI Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved this book and devoured it in less than 24 hours when nothing else was really sticking, so I appreciated t\that boost to my reading life immensely. Abbi Waxman has such a humorous tone to her writing, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading the paradox between a mom and a daughter’s reactions to the same situation in this book. In my opinion, this use of the two points of view worked so well and allowed us to experience the feelings of both main characters.
    Overall, this story was sweet, hopeful, and heartwarming, and exactly what I hope for in this genre.
    Emily and Jessica’s relationship seemed so realistic and although I don’t have a teenager yet, I’m close to it and this was eye-opening to me despite it being fiction.
    I highly recommend this fun book as a lovely summer read!!

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

    Oona Out of OrderOona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I went into this book not entirely knowing what to expect, but I absolutely loved it. What an interesting concept and so well done! At times, I wanted a little bit more, that is, I wanted to follow almost EVERY year of Oona’s out-of-order life, but I was blown away by a few of the surprises that popped up, and I was rooting for future Oona throughout the book. I would never want to live my life this way, but I loved thinking outside the box while listening to this!!

    What I Like About YouWhat I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    When I’m in a reading slump or just too tired to get into whatever good book I’m reading, I have always been able to get into a good YA novel and this one fits the bill wonderfully. This reminded me quite a bit of Tell Me Three Things, which I also loved. Halle and her brother Oliver were fantastic characters, and I adored their sibling relationship. I loved their grandfather, and though I didn’t support some of the decisions they made (lol! so YA of me!), I enjoyed the resolution of this book and found it SO FUN to be immersed in the high school life of a book blogger. πŸ™‚ If you also turn to these types of YA books in busy times, this one is worth a try!

    Someday in ParisSomeday in Paris by Olivia Lara
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I wanted to like this book just a little bit more. The concept was very appealing and it started off really strong and I had a hard time putting it down. Then, rather quickly, I was left with a bit of a sour taste and I just didn’t quite get past that. Overall, while I did want to read to the end to find out how these damaged people all worked out their complicates lives, I found the premise just a little bit too coincidental and the flow a bit off and far-fetched.

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

    So You Want to Talk About RaceSo You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    I absolutely flew through this audiobook and found it absolutely eye-opening, clear, and helpful in knowing how to navigate difficult conversations about race moving forward. Oluo’s advice is spot-on and she describes exact situations that I’m sure many of us have been in, and what that situation felt like for her or her brother or friends. At times deeply personal and at other times over-arching in terms of discussions of affirmative action and politics, I found this so compelling and cannot recommend it enough if you’re looking for a place to start when it comes to standing with the Black Lives Matter movement that none of us should be ignoring.

    The Vanishing HalfThe Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was absolutely fantastic. It took me a little while to get into, just because it provides perspectives from various characters at various times in their lives, but by the end, I was flipping pages really quickly and wanting to know more. I was beyond impressed with Brit Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers but I think I enjoyed the content, the characters, and the writing even more in this book. This falls firmly in the category of fiction – there is not really a mystery element to it, but there is some family drama and prevalence of themes of race, privilege, opportunity, identity, family, and growing up. It is so worth the read.

    Thank you to Riverhead Books and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is out now and making huge waves in its first week of release!!

    Until the End (Final Hour #3)Until the End by Juno Rushdan
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    It did not take me long to fly through this fast-paced book and I read the second half more-or-less in a single sitting. These books certainly keep you on the edge of your seat and this one was no exception. I enjoyed the romantic storyline a bit more in the first and second novels in this series, but I think I enjoyed the suspense storyline a bit more in this one, especially at one point when my jaw nearly dropped with a twist I did not anticipate in the least. Castle and Kit were fun together and the whole group is so intelligent and courageous and the entire reading experience certainly takes me out of my current reality and into a whole new world in some ways. LOL.

    I enjoyed the inclusion of several new characters and I am quite excited to see what direction this series will go in (I had somehow assumed/been informed that it was a trilogy but this left the story open to continue, in my opinion). Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Vanishing Girls (Detective Josie Quinn, #1)Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book sucked me right in and I loved Josie’s pluck when it came to her job. The mystery itself did not go where I expected it to, and it came to quite an intense and unexpected conclusion (in my opinion) which left me reeling a little bit. If you enjoy police procedurals at all, this series is going to be on my radar moving forward and I intend to read the second just as soon as the library will re-open and give it to me.

    I’ve also read a bunch of Penderwicks books to my kids (we’re on book 4 of 5 now and we have ADORED this series. If you have children in your life, consider sharing these with them). I re-read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on audio (time EXTREMELY well spent!!!) and I’m almost done The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (So far, really good!) and Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. I’m also listening to The Henna Artist. I’m trying to find a bit of my groove again after a lot of days when I just couldn’t even pick up a book due to mental fatigue. Haha.

  • My new “normal” (What’s New link-up)

    Here in Nova Scotia, we’ve been physical distancing/social distancing/self-isolating/sheltering in place since March 16. It blows my mind that we’ve been at this “new normal” for almost 2 months now. I cannot tell you where those days have gone. If I thought I was at all busy in the months and days before all of this, I feel 100x busier now. I’m not out of the house more than I was then. I have way more time to spend with my beautiful children and technically more time to spend “improving”/”cleaning” my home and all of that. My BRAIN is busy though. I’m still restless. I feel like I have almost no time alone.

    For a while there, we seemed to find a pretty good groove. I think we were really optimistic for a bit. The girls pulled out a bunch of the toys they hadn’t played with for years. We had tons of workbooks to work on, tried a bunch of new online educational sites, went on tons of family bike rides, and balanced working from home with parenting, etc. THEN at-home school started, and my job changed significantly. Trying to teach two children (in French immersion) at home on computers is beyond challenging. We have yet to finish all of the “assigned” work for any of the weeks, which isn’t a big deal at all because they are just suggestions. We went through about 3-4 REALLY busy, tiring, difficult weeks in which I blinked and the day was over, but I couldn’t remember what I’d even done. I could never really keep my eyes open well past 8 pm, but I forced myself to stay up and have some alone time til 9:30-10 pm. I stopped wanting to video chat with anyone. I was just TOO tired, too overwhelmed, and it was all just a bit too much.

    Now we are back to figuring things out a little more. My work is returning to a new normal in one aspect and I’m getting used to one of the other aspects that was BRAND NEW to me a few weeks ago. Brian’s work has leveled out a bit instead of being super stressful every single day. We’ve had a couple of sunny days. There is hope on the horizon that we might see our families soonish not just from their driveway. Maybe. I hope? I am dying to cuddle with my baby nephew again – maybe by the time he turns 1 in August? We also had to cancel our trip out west because my brother postponed his wedding to next summer. This was the hugest blow yet even though we anticipated it. We haven’t seen him in 2 1/2 years and it feels really devastating after we’d been looking forward to it for 18 months. The girls are feeling that big-time.

    Anyway, that’s all that’s really new here. Canada and Nova Scotia, in particular, have handled all of this well, in my opinion. I am proud of my province. I am proud of the kindness people have shown to each other in the wake of the unthinkable tragedies that have occurred during Covid-19 times (see here and here if you haven’t heard on the news where you live). Here are a few fun pictures from our last few months:

    So, what’s new with you? Linking up with my amazing KRISTEN belatedly for her What’s New link up!!!

  • Short Book Reviews for May

    I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I have no idea where the last month went. Haha. I’ve been trying to read, really, I have…but my brain often drifts off elsewhere. Anyone else? Luckily, I have managed to engage myself in a few really wonderful books lately and I’ll share some thoughts on them below! Linking up today with my beloved hosts, Steph and Jana, for Show us Your books day!! This time around, I plan to be a bit better about seeing everyone else’s posts in the link up!

    The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
    Oh wow this book was SO good. I knew it was going to be good – it is so highly rated and I have NO idea how I can even call myself a bookworm without having read it earlier. LOL. Luckily Kristen offered to buddy-listen to it with me this month and that gave me the major push to just read the amazing book already.

    I loved these strong female characters and their strength. I loved the funny bits. I loved that the story was about writing. The ending was ultimately quite hopeful.

    The audiobook of this book was SO WONDERFUL. I highly recommend going that route although I did read approximately 1/3 of it via e-book alternately too and the words on the page are obviously just as fantastic.

    Can’t wait to watch the movie which I hear is also fabulous!!!

    The Bright Side of Going DarkThe Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book started off a little bit slow for me, but by the end I did definitely really enjoy it. I think I might have preferred Amy Byler from last summer a TEENY bit more but this one will probably be more relatable and popular overall.

    I really found parts of this book extremely endearing, heartwarming, sarcastic at times, and funny too. The characters were fun and the dual perspectives really kept my interest.

    Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    View all my reviews The Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Meredith mentioned this book on the Currently Reading podcast in early 2019 and I couldn’t find it at any nearby libraries/stores so I ordered it on ebay and then it sat on my shelf for about a year. LOL. We’ve been flying through the family read-alouds lately and this one popped out at me. WE ALL LOVED IT (well, my husband didn’t, but meh!). This is an adorable fairy tale story that is kind of perfectly suited to my girls’ ages and is a really short read. The plot and characters are heartwarming, and I actually felt a strong desire to pick it up and finish it myself after my kids went to bed. hehe.

    HIGHLY recommend if you enjoy sweet fairytales with a feminist twist.

    The Jane Austen SocietyThe Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    When I first came across this title on Netgalley, I was of course drawn to it instantly. I adore Austen and even really enjoy adaptations/retellings/anything related to her work. This book sounded a bit like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but set in a town where Austen once lived. PERFECT!! This book was absolutely lovely. There was such a unique cast of characters, all with different backgrounds (both happy and sad). It took me a little while to get into this because you meet the characters one by one and it isn’t immediately obvious why you are reading about their lives but around the halfway point the book really clicks and it is impossible not to root for these characters and their goal of preserving Jane Austen artifacts in a house that she once lived in.

    There are little thoughts and nuances about all of Austen’s works scattered throughout the book – of course some of the characters are big fans of P&P and others prefer Emma, which is entertaining. None of them seem to love Mansfield Park, which I could relate to myself. The characters grow together and support each other and the ending was absolutely perfect in many ways.

    I highly recommend this if you are a fan of multiple perspective historical fiction (this book takes place around the end of WWII so it isn’t the classic WWII type of story though there is a lot of talk of rationing and events of the war). If you are an Austenite, you can’t miss this one.

    Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!! When I finished this, I was delighted to find out that the author is Canadian! An excellent debut novel by her and hope there is more to come!

    All the Devils Are Here (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #16)All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Dare I say that this is the best book Louise Penny has written yet? I know, I know, I say that every time. This one was next-level amazing though. Set almost entirely in Paris, this was a definite change to not have glimpses of Quebec and Three Pines but fortunately the plot and character development here made me forget momentarily about my beloved Three Pines characters. This book was quite a page-turner too, and I could NOT put it down which was exactly what my quarantine reading life needed.

    If you are a fan of this series, be on the lookout for this book’s release in September. If you haven’t read it yet, start with Still Life!!!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Edelweiss and Minotaur for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!!!

    UntamedUntamed by Glennon Doyle
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I will admit that I really loved parts of this, and found other parts a bit repetitive. Overall though, it’s impossible not to find her very authentic and inspiring and the audiobook read by the author was quite well done.

    View all my reviews The Poisonwood BibleThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book was exceptional in so many ways. It was also long and not my typical favourite genre (long family saga) BUT the characters did worm their way into my heart and I was fully invested in their story by the end of it. It was heartbreaking at times, funny at times, devastating, hopeful, and fascinating. It felt uncomfortable at times but that was the point. What an epic tale of this American family in the Congo. Read the hardback and alternated with the audiobook which was excellently narrated.

    Always a BridesmaidAlways a Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I think I’ll settle on 3.5 stars for this. These characters and this town are definitely super fun and it didn’t take me long at all to pick up with them from the first book in this series (Also, after the way this one ended, I am super excited to read the third too). I really enjoyed Violet and Ford and this is exactly what I seek in a contemporary romance, so no complaints here.

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

    An Heiress to Remember (The Gilded Age Girls Club, #3)An Heiress to Remember by Maya Rodale
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This series is a ton of fun and I really liked this addition to it. The narrator is wonderful and I read the e-book alongside it.
    Beatrice and Dalton and their past and reunion in such a unique situation – so enticing and fun. Still really adoring this NYC setting for historical romances too. Really loved how Beatrice grew and of course it was impossible to not love Wes Dalton.

    Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!!

    That’s about it! I also read the other books in the Gilded Age Girls Club, listened to Harry Potter narrated by Stephen Fry (SO good), and read a few other books with the kids. Currently reading Someday in Paris and Vanishing Girls (finally, Steph!) and reading The Penderwicks with the family (SO good).

    What have you been reading lately?! Got any good recommendations? πŸ™‚

  • Book Recommendations During Quarantine

    I’ve been thinking about writing this post for weeks, but my own reading life has taken a bit of a dive off the deep end since we’ve been staying at home more. You’d think I’d have *more* time to read, but I feel like I actually have less because the days are very busy and the evenings are tiring. I’ve lost my 90 minute (total) commute 4 days a week which I always devoted to reading, too. I’m slowly turning a bit of a corner though, I think, and I still want to share some books I’ve read over the past few years that might really hold your attention during these tough days!!!

    In no particular order, here are some book recommendations for quarantine times, mostly light-hearted or very captivating:

    The Garden of Small BeginningsThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
    I loved this book that really resonates well in the springtime and might inspire you to start or continue your own gardening hobby!

    Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & YouGmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
    This short book is such a fantastic read to take in over a period of time. I’d say we could all use a little pep talk these days, right?!

    Book Scavenger (Book Scavenger, #1)Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
    This plot is the EXACT kind of adventure you might need to follow along with while you can’t leave your house. It is a perfect read-aloud book if you have middle grade (or slightly older, even teenage) children. It’s on our TBR as a read-aloud book this year.

    The FlatshareThe Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
    This adorable British book is so fun because the two main characters don’t meet until VERY late in the book even though they technically share an apartment (flat). Talk about perfect physical distancing! πŸ˜‰ This book falls into one of my favourite genres: not-too-fluffy women’s fiction. Cannot wait to read this author’s second book <a href=https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45134200-the-switch which came out in the UK already and comes out in the US/Canada in June!

    The Accidental Beauty QueenThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
    This book is ideal for fun summer reading. If you are a big Harry Potter or Jane Austen fan like me (and this book’s main character), even better! This is a bit like Ms. Congeniality meets…The Parent Trap? But for adults? Super fun.

    Happiness for BeginnersHappiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
    Haha, for a minute I bet you thought I was sharing a list of books without including this one on it…but I’m not!! Gotcha!! πŸ™‚ This is one of my favourite books of all time, it is perfect to read around this time of year because it is set in the spring/summer but I’d also recommend it not because it might make you appreciate aspects of your day that you aren’t otherwise. It is also a *bit* of a precursor to her new book coming out this summer!!

    Every Last Breath (Final Hour #1)Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
    If you are looking for a fast paced suspense with a hint of romance, don’t look any further! This is on Hoopla too so it’s easy to access during these days when the libraries are closed!

    The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

    I adored this book and I hope to re-read it soon. It’s a charming read about a bookstore owner and the events that take place over decades of his life. Bonus – there are tons of book recommendations IN this book!! πŸ™‚

    What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

    I’ve thought of this book countless times since reading it almost 5 years ago. I also can’t stop recommending it πŸ™‚

    The Bookish Life of Nina HillThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
    I read this entire book, pretty much, with a smile plastered on my face. Nina is such a fun character – she lives for books, she is excellent at trivia, she is a good friend, but she is also rigid, organized, and likes her alone time. It’s easy to relate to her and respect her. It was fun to watch her grow and accept changes in her well-planned-out life throughout this book.