Monday, 4 June 2018

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain - Book Review



I read and loved The Paris Wife by Paula McLain when it came out. I had never read anything by Ernest Hemingway, but his is an iconic name in the literature world, and the book is historical fiction set in one of my favourite cities. What's not to enjoy?

Fast forward a few years. I still haven't read any Hemingway, and yet I continue to be fascinated with his life and his wives.

In Love and Ruin, Paula McLain introduces us to Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway's third wife. A writer herself, she and Hemingway fell in love while chasing stories together around the globe.

Gellhorn published novels, novellas, essays, and was especially known for her work as a war correspondent. She was ambitious, independent, and courageous.

All of these qualities are illustrated within the novel, and it's not hard to see how Gellhorn and Hemingway were on a collision course even before their marriage began. It's not often I read a novel and look forward to the couple parting ways; however, Hemingway became so terrible to her, that I silently cheered every time she made a decision for herself and her career.

Love and Ruin is a novel that demands to be read slowly and encourages you to savour this slice of history you are learning at the same time. McLain is a gifted writer. I especially think that anyone else who is a writer (of any kind) will enjoy this book. Both of the protagonists are writers, and McLain shares many relatable descriptions of the experience during the writing process.

"Until a few months ago, it had been my general understanding that if you were a writer, you pummelled your own soul until some words trickled out of the dry streambed, enough to fill a saucer or a teaspoon or an eyedropper. And then you wept a little, or gnashed at your teeth, and somehow found the fortitude to get up the next day and do it again."
Love and Ruin, Paula McLain

Fans of The Paris Wife will surely enjoy reading another chapter from Hemingway's story. Love and Ruin is available now wherever books are sold.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 21 May 2018

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon - Book Review

I Was Anastasia is the latest release by Ariel Lawhon. This historical fiction novel reads like twin memoirs. One from the perspective Anastasia Romanov in 1917 and 1918 and another from the perspective of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the missing Russian duchess.



I knew nothing about the Romanovs before beginning this novel (Including in even which century this all happened! I had heard of the Romanvos but assumed this scandal/mystery was centuries old.) I also didn't know whether Anna really was Anastasia or not, which I think made this saga especially interesting for me to read. I won't tell you either, so you need to read the book to find out!

I love stories told with dual timelines and perspectives, and what makes this structure unique in I Was Anastasia is that while Anastasia's timeline moves forward in a traditional narrative, Anna's moved backwards Momento-style, and they two timelines meet at the end of the book in 1918. I will admit, the Momento/backwards timeline takes a bit of getting used to, but it's worth it, so keep going!

Ariel Lawhon writes beautifully and turns mountains of research into a gripping and fascinating historical tale. Even when I wasn't reading this book, I was thinking about it and carrying this puzzle with me. Was she really Anastasia? How was her survival possible?

Importantly, the Author's Note at the end is 100% part of the reading experience for this book, so be sure not to skip it.

I Was Anastasia reminded me of The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor. If you enjoyed the real-life mystery behind that story, you will probably really enjoy this one as well.

I Was Anastasia is available wherever books are sold. You can connect with Ariel Lawhon on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel from Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are true and entirely my own.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Sweet Reads Box - May 2018




The tagline for Sweet Reads Box is "me time. delivered." and their boxes are curated each month to include:
  • a bestselling novel
  • a delicious drink
  • a sweet treat
  • an item (or items!) connected to your novel 
  • a card explaining each item and why it was selected
Sweet Reads Box aims to provide you with everything you need to for some quality alone time with an excellent book.

The cost per box is $49.99 CAD + shipping, and there are discounts if you purchase 3 or 6 month subscriptions. At this point, they only ship within Canada.

Let's check out what was in the May box:



The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson

English Toffee from Sweetsmith Candy Co

Colombian Irish Cream Coffee from Kyoto Coffee

The Week From Hell Hand Lotion from Walton Wood Farm

Shoe Eraser from Fred and Friends 

Leather and Vanilla Soap from Perth Soap Company


Let's talk pros and cons, because I didn't enjoy this box as much as I did in February, unfortunately.

PROS
- I still love the focus on Canadian authors and Canadian vendors.
- I think this box would appeal to both men and women which is pretty unique in the book box world.
- The English toffee was delicious!!

CONS
- The value this month is not strong. My rough calculations came out to less than the cost of the box. This is probably because I gave no value to the hand lotion. There were three of the same lotion samples included, and I could get sample one-time use lotions many places for free so..... :(
- The scent of the soap is a little masculine for me. Rob likes though, so he's got a new soap now!
- This book is not one I'm interested in reading, but I recognize that's a personal choice.

If you want to give them a try, check out the Sweet Reads Box website. I think it could be a unique gift for the male book lovers in your life who have never tried a book box.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I was sent a complementary box for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are true and entirely my own.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Sebastian: 6 Years Old and 20 Questions



Every year, Rob and I do a little interview with Sebastian on his birthday. Here's the 6-year-old edition!

1. What is your favorite color? pink (for the fourth year in a row!)
2. What is your favorite toy? Scooby Doo toys
3. What is your favorite fruit? watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? Scooby Doo
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? tacos
6. What is your favorite outfit? footies (for the second year in a row)
7. What is your favorite game? Scooby Masks (half Scooby Doo half PJ Masks)
8. What is your favorite snack? gummies 
9. What is your favorite animal? cat
10. What is your favorite song? Scooby Doo songs
11. What is your favorite book? Scooby Doo books 
12. Who is your best friend? Mommy and Daddy (for the second year in a row)
13. What is your favorite cereal? red berries (Kellogg's Strawberry)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play
15. What is your favorite drink? milk
16. What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas (for the second year in a row)
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? stuffies 
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? cereal
19. What do you want for dinner? tacos
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? helping Daddy (for the second year in a row)

And here are his answers from his 5th birthday4th birthday, and 3rd birthday.

xo
Jenn 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory - Book Review

I'm so excited to share with you my latest romantic read. I recently finished The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, and it is such a delightful story!


In The Wedding Date, Alexa and Drew meet while they are briefly stuck together in a hotel elevator. Alexa agrees to be Drew's last minute date to his ex-girlfriend's wedding. They pretend to be a couple in front of Drew's friends and seemingly have a blast all weekend long. However, is it real? Or is it just part of the act they are putting on? As they continue to see each other casually via a long-distance relationship, Alexa and Drew begin to wonder, is this really casual? Or is it something more? And could they even make it work if they wanted to?

Alexa and Drew make an adorable couple. Their playful banter and secret feelings will have you rooting for these two to finally snap out of it, be honest with each other, and live happily ever after!

Plus, there is an Anne of Green Gables reference that is totally on point, which cemented, for me, how much fun this book is to read.

The other element that makes The Wedding Date a unique read is that Alexa is black and Drew is white, so they have to work though the dynamics that brings to their relationship, for Drew especially. I don't often gravitate towards diverse books, and I am clearly missing out because there is so much here that is relatable and relevant.

The Wedding Date is Jasmine Guillory's first novel and is available now, but I am already counting down the days until her next release in the fall, The Proposal!

You can connect with Jasmine Guillory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions and love of Anne of Green Gables references are entirely my own.

Monday, 30 April 2018

My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris - Book Review



Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the 80s? Well, buckle up for the grown up version! My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris is a new interactive romance novel that allows you to choose your hero and your fate. Will it be a Scotsman helping orphans? Or perhaps a brooding single father (who may or may not be a werewolf?).

Simply put, this book is funny and fun. I found I best enjoyed it by reading one of the stories between my other full-length novels. It's on purpose over-the-top and doesn't take itself too seriously at all, which I absolutely loved. To best get a feel of what you can expect, here's a short excerpt:

"The opportunity to mingle with the upper-crustiest of society's upper crust is supremely tempting. Indeed, with your humble background, you'd be a fool to turn down such a rare invitation to improve your standing in the company of your betters. And the presences of Sir Benedict....well, that certainly doesn't lessen your intrigue. 

Yet you cannot help but be intrigued by the Scotsman's offer. You've always had a tender heart for children, and something about his rugged altruism sparks a dangerous and recklessness in your chest. 

What will be next?

If you wish to rub elbows with the ton - and Sir Benedict's elbows in particular - hustle your bustle to page 159.
If you think doing good for poor kiddies is infinitely better than pretending you can hang with the elites of London (and you can't help your curiosity about what Mac's got under his kilt), hop on over to page 208.

- My Lady's Choosing, Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

My Lady's Choosing is also illustrated with some very swoon-worthy men (and women!). Any reader passionate about historical romance or classics such as Pride and Prejudice, has to try a few of the stories in this book. They will be certain to enjoy them!

My Lady's Choosing is available now wherever books are sold. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me this copy.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman - Book Review



Trigger warning - Women experiencing post-partum OCD should not read this book until they have received treatment.

The Other Mother is the latest novel from Carol Goodman. In this psychological thriller, we meet Daphne Marist a few months after she gives birth to her first child, Chloe. Daphne struggles with post-partum OCD and intrusive thoughts. To help her cope, she joins a post-partum support group where she meets and befriends Laurel Hobbes. Laurel is everything Daphne wishes she could be: outgoing, relaxed, wealthy, etc. As their friendship progresses, Daphne becomes less and less certain about who she really is and what will keep her baby safe. Daphne even assumes Laurel's identity to take a live-in job with her baby as she tries to escape her husband.

The Other Mother is a meticulously-plotted, twisty tale that will keep you fascinated from page one right to the very end. There are two narrators, both of whom are unreliable, creating a thrilling read. The reader will want to believe Daphne, but it is not easy. You're never quite sure what is true and what is not until the revelations at the end.

While I do not have experience with post-partum OCD, I did work through post-partum depression after my son was born, and I can relate to so many of the descriptions of new motherhood in this novel. I still remember the fatigue, guilt, and overwhelming unsureness that came with being a new mother who was struggling.

"I do resent Chloe - her constant crying, her tantrums, her demands. But that doesn't mean I don't lover her. Does it?"
The Other Mother, Carol Goodman

The Other Mother is available for purchase at HarperCollins, Amazon, or wherever books are sold near you.

You can connect with Carol Goodman on her website or on Facebook.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of The Other Mother courtesy of HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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