Monday, 17 September 2018

My Favourite Books With a 500+ Page Count

Even thought it's been a million degrees this September, so it doesn't feel like fall quite yet, one thing I love about autumn is curling up with books the size of beasts. I think I prefer big books over shorter books anytime of the year, but something about cooler temps makes holding a huge book feel even cozier.

I love getting completely lost in a story and going on a long journey with the characters. I want to be completely captivated in their world. I cheer them on and cry with them and never let them go. It's also why I probably love reading books in series so much as well.

Here are nine of my favourite books with a page count cresting 500 or more (and two others I have on my TBR!)

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - If there is one book from my required high school reading that I will always remember, it is this one. Owen Meany is one of my favourite literary characters of all time. He will make you laugh, and cry, and question what you believe about fate.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - The paths of a German boy and a blind French girl collide during WWII. This is a side of World War II historical fiction that is not often told, and I loved it so much. All the Light We Cannot See is a powerful novel about the innate goodness inside of people.

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - The Heart's Invisible Furies follows the life of Cyril Avery. I love the structure of this book; you meet Cyril during his outrageous birth story and again every seven years. Set in Ireland when homosexuality was still illegal, Cyril is often at the mercy of fortune and coincidence throughout his life. A compelling read and tale of Ireland from the 1940s to today.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - A young, poor girl is sold into a high-end geisha house in Japan. She transforms into one of the most popular geisha of her time and reveals a world of full illusion and power struggles. A fascinating read, and the movie is also very well done.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton - This is definitely my favourite Kate Morton novel. Two women, generations apart, try to solve the same haunting family mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a sweeping tale across two continents. I also love the special book of fairy tales which gives this novel a story within a story feeling.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - An untraditional love story with a romantic time travelling librarian. This novel is a testament to the power of never-ending love.

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman - A collection of Neil Gaiman's non-fiction work. While it was trickier for me to connect with some of his pieces on older science fiction works, I absolutely love his essays on libraries and reading life.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - If you follow me on Instagram, it's no secret that I love Sarah J. Maas. She is the author of two fantasy series, and I adore them both. Of all of the books I've read from her, A Court of Mist and Fury is my favourite. She is no stranger to BIG books and fantastic world-building. Her upcoming release, Kingdom of Ash, is clocking in with a page count of 992!!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I sincerely have never been able to answer the question, "What is your favourite Harry Potter book?" because I really find them all enjoyable. Though, one of my top picks is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire because I love the tournament in the book. Which Harry Potter novel is your favourite??

On my TBR:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - I feel like I am the last book blogger left who hasn't at least tried the Outlander series. I suspect I will love it and am determined to read it this winter!

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas - I don't know much about this one, but it came in a subscription box of mine earlier this year, and I love books about books!

What are some of your favourite door-stopper books?

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Brain Quest Canada Giveaway!

Do you remember the Brain Quest card decks? I absolutely had these when I was younger and loved them. Now, there are even more products in the Brain Quest line. We had the Pre-K Workbook a few years ago, and it was the perfect level for Sebastian before he started kindergarten.

This month, Brain Quest is releasing its newly revised Brain Quest Canada card set (5th edition). If you're not familiar with the Brain Quest card sets, each package includes two decks of cards with trivia questions and answers. The decks are attached to prevent cards from going missing, and the quality of the cards is high so they can endure frequent use from little fingers.

The new and updated edition of Brain Quest Canada is for Grades 5 and up and covers every aspect of Canadian history and culture in 1,000 questions and answers through seven categories: Notable Canadians, Geography, Arts, Science, Pre-1867, Post-1867, and This 'n' That. Brain Quest Canada is curriculum-based and teacher-approved. You can test your knowledge on everything Canadian, from the Indigenous Peoples to Sidney Crosby, as well as Sasquatch, Horseshoe Falls, the Great Lakes, caribou and grizzlies, Mounties, and the Canadian Shield. It's all about Canada, it's all about learning, and it's all about fun!

Sebastian has been in love with his Weird But True Canada book from National Geographic and was excited to play around with these Brain Quest Canada cards, even if the questions are a few grades above his level. I suppose that means we just need to pick up the Grade 1 set next for him :)

Brain Quest Canada would make an excellent addition to any home or classroom back to school shopping list. I'm taking my set to use at school with my students this week!

Thanks to Thomas Allen & Son, I have one set of this brand new, revised Brain Quest Canada to give away! Please enter through the Rafflecopter below.

Giveaway ends on Monday, September 10th at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Disclaimer - I was sent a complementary set of Brain Quest Canada cards for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting - Book Review

The Good Luck Charm is a new, delightfully fun romance from Helena Hunting.

Ethan broke up with Lilah, his best friend and high school sweetheart, just as his hockey career was taking off. Convinced it was the best for both of them, he ended things, and terribly at that. Eight years later, his hockey game is not what it used to be, and Ethan is traded back to his hometown. However; he's never forgotten Lilah and how amazing they were together. Ethan wants Lilah back in his life. But is it real? Or is it just to help his game? And once his game improves, is he just going to leave again?

Told in alternating points of view between Lilah and Ethan, The Good Luck Charm brings together first loves and second chances. Early on while reading this book I wrote a note to myself that said, "Ethan needs to grovel more." I did not want Lilah to give up on her dreams just because Ethan was back in town. Even Lilah worries about this because she at one point says, "I fear my heart remembers loving him more than it remembers how he broke it."

In the end, I really enjoyed how their story came together, and I devoured this book in less than two days. It is a quick, funny, sexy read that will leave you wishing you were Ethan's good luck charm 😉!

I love that the tagline on Helena Hunting's website is "stories to get in bed with" because that is exactly how I would describe this novel. This was my first book by Helena Hunting, and my first sports romance, but it certainly won't be my last.

The Good Luck Charm is out now and available wherever books are sold!


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of The Good Luck Charm courtesy of Hachette Book Group Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Building My Empire with Pipsticks+Workman

September means many things: cozy scarfs, pumpkin spice lattes, and, of course, new school supplies. My son begins Grade 1 next week, and we recently went shopping for his school supplies. He's still pretty little, but I think he had fun picking out the new markers and pencil crayons he's bringing to his class.

As a teacher, I also love fresh school supplies in the fall. Even if I always feel a bit nervous and frazzled about the upcoming school year, it's amazing how something small like a new notepad can make you feel like an organized rockstar! Thomas Allen & Son sent me a gorgeous set from the Pipsticks + Workman gift line, and the timing is perfect!

Pipsticks and Workman collaborated to create the funnest planners, notekeepers, and sticker books in three different themes:

1. "for the Daring...." This set is fun and bright, with energetic designs - perfect for the list-keeper.
2. "for the Dreamer..." This set is colourful and inspirational - perfect for the creative spirit.
3. "for the Driven...." This set features a more pastel colour theme and fun motivation - perfect for the goal-tracker.

When the Driven set arrived at my doorstep, I immediately felt that excited, butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling we all loved when we were back to school shopping.

The planners are designed encourage creativity, goal-setting, and fun! I still use a physical planner every year. The calendar app on my phone is perfect for checking my availability when I'm out and about, but I still find that there is a lot of power in keeping a physical planner. Not only for my family's scheduled "things" but also for making my to-do lists each day, and this planner definitely has enough space for that!

Here are a few of the characteristics in the BUILDING MY EMPIRE planner that I love most:

  • The horizontal spread - I personally prefer this to vertical ones.
  • The YAY circle each day is a place for you to give yourself a sticker if you meet your goal that day. I use it for exercise. 💪
  • The weekly quiz question - A throwback to those magazine quizzes we used to do!
  • The addtional mini weekly calendar at the bottom of each spread - This week I used it to plan out my social media posts, and I also think it is a great space for meal planning or a gratitude journal.
  • It begins now! - This planner runs from Aug 2018 - Dec 2019 so you can use it right away!
  • The monthly "CURRENTLY" page - I love this page! Each month you write down what you're currently watching, reading, planning, etc. I think these pages will be so fun to reread at the end of the year.
  • The stickers - 6 full pages of stickers are included that will take you through all of the different seasons and holidays.

While I will keep my planner at home, this GREAT THINGS INSIDE notekeeper is coming to work with me right away. I just posted on Instagram that I have a weakness for beautiful notepads and journals, and this one is no exception. It's a nice size (5 x 7), hardcover, and comes with two pages of stickers, so you can reward yourself when you finish something from your list 😍. What makes the Driven notekeeper unique is that the pages are all colourful grids which are perfect for list-making and goal-tracking. As you can see below, mine is already getting broken in with my massive back to work to-do list for the next reward stickers yet! lol

Last, but certainly not least, is the THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT sticker book. I used to collect stickers in albums when I was younger, and it's so exciting to have another whole book of stickers just for me (and not my six-year-old!) The sticker book comes with 20 pages of stickers and a handful of postcards. I use cards like these whenever I see a co-worker could use a little note, just to brighten their day :)

The whole Pipsticks+Workman line allows you to be organized like a grown-up, but tap into your creative energy and feel like a kid again at the same time. Adulting is hard enough; we absolutely deserve to have some fun while we do it! And if you'd like to get ideas and see how others are using their planners, you can do a quick #pipsticksplanners search on Instagram!

To check out the whole Pipsticks+Workman gift line of planners, notekeepers, and stickerbooks, and peek inside each, you can visit their website.

Each item is sold separately from Amazon (and shipping is free!)

For the Driven


For the Dreamer


For the Daring



Disclaimer - I was sent these items courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Passionflix - Netflix for Romance Novels

Passionflix is a film company/streaming service that is bringing your favourite romance novels to life on the big screen! Founded by Tosca Musk, Passionflix creates original movies based on best-selling romance novels. The movies are then available on their website to stream exactly as you would any Netflix movie or series.

So far, Passionflix has filmed four movies, one "quickie", and one series. I've seen three of the movies and the quickie and loved them all. They are so much fun to watch on your own and especially fun to watch with your girlfriends.

I'd also say that the movies are totally a blast to watch whether you've read the book or not. I had read Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre, so it was exciting to see that book come to to life on my screen; however, I hadn't read Afterburn/Aftershock by Silvia Day or The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken, and my girlfriends and I had so much fun watching these movies together anyways.

Passionflix just released their first original series for the book Driven by K. Bromberg. I have read this steamy novel, and I am super excited about seeing Colton and Rylee's story unfold. Here's the trailer!

In addition to their original content, Passionflix offers a curated library of romance-themed films. While all of the original Passionflix content is available to viewers worldwide, unfortunately, this library is only available to viewers in the US.

The cost is $5.99 US/month.

Since I live in Canada and only have access to the original content, here is what I do to make it worthwhile. When I know I want to watch one of the Passionflix movies, I sign up and pay $5.99. Then, the next day, I cancel/pause my account. It's super easy to do on their website. I still have access for 30 days to watch my movie(s). Then, when a new movie is available I want to watch, I activate my account again. Again, this is easy to do online. I figure paying $6 for a movie is really reasonable. It's like a throwback to renting movies! Anyways, this is how I make it work for me, so I can still see their great movies but don't commit to paying each month when there is nothing new for me to watch.

Passionflix also just announced that it is now available on AppleTV which will make watching it on my tv beaucoup easier than hooking up my laptop.

To explore their current content, see what books to movies are coming soon, and watch trailers for free, visit the Passionflix website. I hope something fun catches your eye!


PS - This is not a sponsored post. I just love Passionflix and hope you will too!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman - Book Review

Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman tells the story of secrets in suburbia. Frances Bloom is a stay at home mom who is in charge of the neighbourhood school carpool. One day, she accidentally walks in on her neighbour, Anne Porter, in an extremely compromising situation. It turns out, Anne has been having an affair with a younger man. When this secret comes to light, it is the catalyst for a number of other neighbourhood secrets to be revealed.

Abbi Waxman is a great writer. She is witty and thoughtful. The nuances and descriptions of suburban life in this book are all too relatable.

"People did weird shit, usually for boring reasons...."
Other People's Houses, Abbi Waxman

If you aren't bothered by "other people's" (see what I did there 😉) high drama, you may really like this book. Parts of it are funny, parts of serious, and it really teaches us not to judge others from the snippets we see out our front door.

What kept me from fully enjoying this book is that the overall storyline actually bummed me out. Maybe it's just me, because this is the fourth book I've read this summer that had infidelity in it, but I definitely needed to cleanse my reading palate with something entirely fun and uplifting afterwards. This book was truly one of those books that was just not for me, at least not for me right now.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of Other People's Houses from Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Book Box Love Review - August 2018

I love learning about new Canadian businesses, especially if they are related to reading! I recently discovered Book Box Love, a new Canadian book subscription box.

Book Box Love has one simple goal - to upgrade your reading experience! Each box features a new Canadian release and exclusive bookish gifts and treats from Canadian businesses.

Cost: $60 for a single box or $48/month for a monthly subscription
*Both prices include shipping :)

This month, the theme is Modern Magic. I love that the items came individually wrapped. It felt like a box of gifts arrived at my door. Let's see what was inside!

Signed copy of Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky
It's always a treat to received a signed book! It definitely adds something "extra" to the overall box. Book Box Love does not guarantee a signed book each month, but it's a nice perk that they are looking for opportunities to do this when they can. Included is also a card with an author note.

I hadn't heard of Radiant Shimmering Light before, but when I took a peek at the synopsis on Goodreads, I am pretty sure I'm going to enjoy this book about female friendships. And I discovered a new Canadian author!

My Kind of Texts bookmark from Queenie's Cards
This bookmark is super cute!

Exclusively made mala bracelet from EVB Jewelry

This bracelet is made of beads in chakra colours and black lava. It's the only item in the box that isn't exactly my style, but it matches the theme of the box and the book well.

Unicorn Notepad from I'll Know It When I See It 

I was pleasantly surprised at how big this notepad is! At 5 x 7 inches, it is much larger in size than other notepads I've received in other subscription boxes in the past. Additionally, the 100-page notepad rotates through 5 beautifully coloured pages. Bye bye boring, plain, white to-do lists!

Wild Strawberry Tea from DAVIDsTEA (25g)
This tea can be served hot or cold. I need to start incorporating more decaf tea options into my tea habits, so I'm looking forward to trying this one out. The tea also came with 3 filters.

Considering Book Box Love includes the cost of shipping in their prices, it is definitely a fair value for $60 but there is solid value in their monthly $48 subscription.

You can sign up on the Book Box Love website. If this box is any indication, I think there are some lovely things coming our way this fall from Book Box Love!


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