Friday, 19 January 2018

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter - Book Review

If Erin Brokovich and The Girl on the Train had a baby, it would be this book. Bonfire is the debut novel from actress Krysten Ritter. I have actually not followed Ritter's acting career closely; however, the premise of her novel sounded intriguing to me.

Here's a synopsis from Goodreads:

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

The premise of a small town scandal initially drew me into this book. I grew up in a small town about the same size as Barrens, Indiana and could easily imagine my own high school when Ritter described the cliques and dynamics of being in a place where absolutely everyone knows you. I enjoyed Ritter's writing, and the slow-burning suspense kept me engaged and turning the pages. The flashbacks to the past worked well to help build a picture of what could really be going on in Barrens today. I especially couldn't wait to find out what really happened to Kaycee.

The storyline with Optimal Plastics felt a little too similar to Erin Brokovich at times, especially in the beginning, so that was the only part of the story that left me a bit wanting.

Bonfire is a quick read and, overall, I'd say it's worth checking out if you're in the mood for a small town suspense novel and especially if you're a fan of the author, just to get a sense of her other now-not-so-hidden talent.


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

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Unread Shelf Project and My 2018 Reading Goals

While I did make it through a solid chunk of my 2017 reading goals, there were inevitable additions/distractions. Plus, I read the 1800 page A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. Twice.

I have 190 unread books in my house. 218 if you count e-books. And our house is not that big! Last year I started out with 150 unread books in the house. I read 30 of them (plus a whole host of others) and have somehow ended up with more books in the end!

To help me tackle this situation keep my husband from banning me from bookstores entirely, I've joined #theunreadshelfproject2018 on Instagram to help me meet my reading goals this year. Mainly, my hope is that there are less unread books in my house by December 31st.

The Unread Shelf Project 2018 is co-hosted by @theunreadshelf@katereadsbooks_,  and @calsreads.  There are weekly and monthly challenges to help you reacquaint yourself with your unread books and motivate you to actually read them! You can find out more about The Unread Shelf Project and the challenges by checking out the three co-hosts and by following the hashtag #theunreadshelfproject2018.

The first challenge was to count all of your unread books (see above πŸ™ˆ ). The second challenge was to feature an unread book each day for seven days over on Instagram. I've had fun with both of these challenges and look forward to seeing what comes up next.

What I love about the philosophy behind the Unread Shelf Project is that we aren't putting a full stop to buying or borrowing books for the year, but we are trying to be more mindful about our buying and borrowing right now. This way we can show our own books a little more love and probably discover some gems we didn't even know we had!

You can follow me along with my Unread Shelf Project here on Instagram @jennbairos.

In the meantime, I've put together a plan:

Books I already own by authors who have a last name that starts with F, G, H, or I

To give you another clue as to how many unread books I have hiding at home, this pile unread of F-I books is currently sitting at a ridiculous 40 titles. And then there are an additional 10 or so on my Goodreads TBR list. πŸ™ˆ πŸ™ˆ

This seems like kind of an obsessive way to tackle books, but I started working through the alphabet of my books a few years ago and one thing I like about reading my unread shelf in alphabetical chunks is that it is usually a manageable pile to start with. Then I can really go through which books I want to read and which ones I just need to unhaul into the free little library on our street. I always end up straying from my pile, so I keep relatively flexible about it all. I also usually alternate between reading a romance novel and then something that's not romance.


The Outlander series has been a reading goal of mine forever. It will happen this year!

2018 releases

  • Sarah J. Maas has four books being published this year. I can't wait to devour them all. I will also probably reread the Throne of Glass series next summer in anticipation of the final book being released in September!
  • Jennifer Robson has also been dropping hints on her social media pages that she has a new book coming out later this year. She's another auto-purchase author for me. She writes beautiful historical fiction with touches of romance. I love everything she's written.
  • The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross (review to come)
  • The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
  • Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake
  • The Other Mother by Carol Goodman (review to come)
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Holiday Books

I enjoy reading Christmas-themed books during the holidays. This past Christmas I was gifted a few, so I've already got these books ready to go for December!

Other books high on my TBR pile

A few friends and I just started a new book club as well. Our first official meeting is later this week, and we're discussing The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I just finished it, and it was so amazing! I look forward to seeing what gets picked next.

I read a lot of non-fiction last year, so this year I'm taking a bit of a non-fiction break. I have a couple shorter non-fiction books that I'll probably read, but I've really just been craving fiction to escape in lately. I'm setting my Goodreads Challenge at 100 books. We'll see what happens!!


Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 Reading Recap

In 2017 year I read all the things. All of them. It's like an addiction. I just can't stop. For the first time ever I read 100 books. I also read some novellas which was a new thing for me, and Sebastian and I started to read chapter books together.

If you track your reading on Goodreads, it puts together a cool infographic of your year in books, so this is what mine looks like for 2017! Also, if you want to follow along my reviews on Goodreads, you can check out my profile here.

A few interesting stats from my 100 books:
31 were published in 2017
26 were 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  reads for me
4 were rereads
17 were nonfiction
88 were by female authors
3 were novellas (+ 1 book collection of novellas)
9 were by Canadian authors
2 were books Seb and I read together













Stay tuned for my 2018 reading goals, and for more, here is my reading recap for 2016.


Sunday, 31 December 2017

Reader Favourites of 2017

Every year I like to see which were the most popular posts I put together. Here's the top ten list for 2017!

#9 and #8  - Book Review and Chapter 1 Excerpt for The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

As always, thank you for your continued support with my blog. I appreciate each and every one of you.


If you're interested, here are my top 10 posts for 2016, 2015, and 2014.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

10 Excellent Books I Read This Year

Tis the season for "Top 10" book posts, and it's. so. hard! I give you top five in different genres...or my top ten that weren't actually published in 2017....or here are a few I didn't get a chance to read yet but I know are's all just too much pressure!!!

So, I've played around with this list for weeks. Books have been added, removed, added back again, and combined so I can cheat and add more books.

Are these my top ten best, favourite, most fantastic books I read this year? I honestly don't know. Are these ten amazing books I read this year? Absolutely.

Here we go!

Beartown by Fredrick Backman - A powerful novel about how a horrific event in a small town changes a hockey team forever. It's a departure in genre from Backman's other work, but still an absolute winner.

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson - Jennifer Robson is one of my favourite authors. Her 2017 release was about a female journalist during WWII. You can read my full review here.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J. Maas - I'm including all three books because I read this whole trilogy this year and loved it. This trilogy of books begins as a beauty and the beast retelling but then ventures off with the very best world-building and the most swoon-worthy characters. Also, can I include Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series? I know that's super cheating, but they were also some of my favourite reads this year :)

Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me by Lorilee Craker - This is a charming true story that weaves together the author's passion for Anne of Green Gables, her own adoption story, and the adoption story of her daughter. You can read my full review here.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - This was a captivating story of life a glamours Hollywood actress and her seven husbands. The writing was so good, it almost felt like a true story!

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - A quick and powerful read about being and raising strong women.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan - A hilarious take on the outrageous expectations put on new moms. Laugh out loud funny!

A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle - Doyle's second memoir is full of stories from the early days of his band, Great Big Sea, as they toured throughout Canada. I'm a huge fan of his music, so this was a really amazing read for me. You can see my full review here.

Cuffed by K. Bromberg - I read a lot of romance, so I wanted to include one on this list. Cuffed was super sexy and had a plot line with substance, so it wasn't just a simple/fluffy read.

The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Life With Boys  - I know this is probably also cheating, since I'm one of the authors in this book, but I love this anthology with all my heart, and I think any mama will enjoy these stories from the trenches. Read more about this book here.

Did you read anything outstanding this year? Let me know!


Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Miss You by Kate Eberlen - Book Review

I'm squeezing one last book review in for 2017! Miss You is the debut novel from Kate Eberlen. It tells the story of Tess and Gus. They initially meet briefly when they are 18 years old and on holidays in Florence with friends and family. Then, over the next 16 years, their lives indirectly intersect many times.

At first glance, Tess and Gus are each in a tough spot. Gus is living in the shadow of his perfect older brother's death, and Tess is raising her 5 year old sister almost entirely on her own.

Will fate allow these start-crossed lovers to ever properly meet? And if they do, will they actually live happily ever after?

I've said this before, but I really enjoy stories that are told from dual points of view. That structure in a novel really keeps me interested.

There is much tragedy that befalls both Tess and Gus, and at times it was actually hard for my mama-heart to read. That being said, I just had to know how their story would come together. Wondering how their paths would cross next kept me engaged and reading.

If I had any critique at all, it is that I wanted more in the end. I wasn't finished with these characters. Maybe I just want a sequel??

I loved Kate Eberlen's clever and witty writing, and I look forward to reading more from this author. You can connect with Kate Eberlen on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

Anyone who loved the movies Serendipity or Sliding Doors will absolutely enjoy reading Miss You.


Disclaimer - I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 18 December 2017

5 Wonderful Authors I Discovered in 2017

One of my favourite things about reading and book blogging is discovering new authors. Sometimes they are debut authors, but more often than not I'm late to the party, and I'm just now learning about authors that have already published many great novels.

Here are five authors I discovered this year, a bit about them, what books I've read so far, and what I hope to read next.

K. Bromberg - K. Bromberg writes steamy contemporary romance novels. I discovered her when I picked up Sweet Cheeks at Turn the Page Bookstore (heaven for romance readers). I also just finished Cuffed, and I loved them both so much! Next, I'm planning on reading her Driven series.

Hazel Gaynor - Hazel Gaynor writes beautiful historical fiction. I discovered her when I reviewed The Cottingley Secret this summer. I loved this magical story, and I loved her writing. Next I'm planning on reading The Girl Who Came Home.

Sarah J. Maas - Sarah J. Maas writes teen (but it's really adult) fantasy. I read both her Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series this year. They were so much fun! Sarah J. Maas has four books being published next year, including the DC Icons Catwoman retelling. I can't wait to read them all!

Liv Constantine - Liv Constantine is a debut author (actually two authors, sisters Lynne and Valerie), and I discovered them when I reviewed their book The Last Mrs. Parrish. I loved this take on the domestic psychological triller genre. Plus, The Last Mrs. Parrish was just selected as Reese Witherspoon's latest book club pick! I don't know what they're planning next, but I would totally read another book by these two.

Maisey Yates - Maisey Yates writes funny and swoon-worthy romance. The ones I've read so far have all be set in small towns, which I love. This year I read and reviewed both Slow Burn Cowboy and Christmastime Cowboy. Currently sitting next to read on my bookshelf from her are Part Time Cowboy, The Prince's Pregnant Mistress, and The Last Di Sione Claims His Prize.

And while I didn't write a post about it, I'd say my favourite authors I discovered in 2016 were Sarah Addison Allen, Bella Andre, Sarah Morgan, Eleanor Brown, and Neil Gaiman.

Did you discover any new-to-you authors this year?