Monday, 11 December 2017

Blind Side by Jennie Ensor - Book Review

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? 

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time. 

But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her. 

Then London is attacked... 

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears. 

(Goodreads)



I connected well with the initial themes of this book. An obsessive ex-lover. Characters with suspicious motives. Family drama. There are also many political tones as Georgie navigates her new relationship with Nikolai because of his own history. As an ex-Russian solider, he is not innocent and can people ever really change?

I especially found Julian's character quite interesting, and I was most engaged with the chapters told from his perspective. This is where the most tension is created in the novel. I also learned a lot about the conflict between Russia and Chechnya which was an area of history I didn't fully understand before.

The one challenge I had with Blind Side is that I found it difficult to empathize with Georgie because of some of the decisions she made. At times, she came across as not very thoughtful.

Given the global conversation about immigration, this is a very timely novel. I can see how readers who especially like political thrillers will enjoy this debut.

Blind Side is available for purchase from Amazon. You can also connect with the author, Jennie Ensor, on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a copy of Blind Side courtesy of the author. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 4 December 2017

11 Christmas Books to Read in December

Last year I really got into seasonal reading, so I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite Christmas novels. Many of these I've read and loved while others are on my TBR pile, but they will each be sure to get you into the holiday spirit!




Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak - A family is quarantined together over Christmas. Secrets are revealed. Drama and hilarity ensue.

The Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - A couple separated by war in 1914 write letters to each other. How will fate treat them as the war comes to an end?

Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates - A second-chance holiday romance set in a small town winery at Christmas. Read my full review here.

The Christmas Bridge by Elyse Douglas - A young widow travels to NYC near Christmas. She wonders about meeting up with a lover from 20 years ago, but a chance encounter changes everything. Read my full review here.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman - A poignant novella about the broken relationship between a father and his son.



Miracle on 5th Avenue, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, and Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan - Sarah Morgan is my favourite Christmas romance author. Her books are the perfect amount of sexy and sweet. I couldn't just pick one of her books, so I'm including all three! See my review of Miracle on 5th Avenue here.

Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan - A young woman coming out of a disastrous marriage travels to London, Paris, and NYC to find her feet again and discover what's next for her in life...and in love.

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig - Sebastian and I are currently reading this together.  A humorous and heartfelt tale about the original story of Santa. Perfect for fans of Roald Dahl.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson - I grew up reading this short novel with my mom, and it is hilarious! Imagine "Children Gone Wild" mixed with organizing a Christmas pageant. A very fun read!

xo
Jenn

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Paris Secret by Karen Swan - Book Review

I judged this book entirely by its title. I have a weakness for all things French, and love books set in France. Other than a Paris setting, I knew nothing about The Paris Secret before beginning it.


I loved the concept of a secret apartment that hadn't been entered in 75 years. What mysteries would it hold? How would they matter today?

The Paris Secret was inspired by the true story of a Paris apartment that remained untouched and unknown for 70 years. It was rediscovered in 2013 full of art and artifacts frozen in time.
In Karen Swan's fictionalized account of this event, high-flying Fine Art Agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to asses these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and just who has concealed them for so long.
Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding? (via Goodreads)



This was the perfect novel to escape with for an afternoon while enjoying a glass of red wine. Flora was an excellent no-nonsense character who had to navigate the intense family drama surrounding the apartment she was brought in to inventory. It was easy to be on her side throughout the novel.

This was my first novel by Karen Swan, and I truly loved her writing. She blended the elements of history, art, mystery, French culture, and even romance, into one interesting story.

The Paris Secret is available on Amazon or wherever books are sold. You can connect with Karen Swan on Facebook and Twitter.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 20 November 2017

Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates - Book Review + Giveaway

A couple of years ago, I started adding romance novels into the mix of what I read. When Christmas came around, my mom told me how my late grandmother loved Christmas romance novels. Apparently she would read them all year long. I learned about this after my grandmother passed away, but I'm so glad to have found out when I did. Now whenever I pick up a holiday romance, it makes me think of my grandmother and how much fun it would have been to chat with her about these books together.

I prefer to save my seasonal reads for November and December, and to kick of my own personal holiday reading season, I read Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates.




Chistmastime Cowboy
 is my second Maisey Yates novel and the tenth novel in the Copper Ridge Series. Don't worry about diving into this series ten books deep though! Each one is a standalone and there is enough backstory provided to help the reader along.

Christmastime Cowboy is about Sabrina Leighton and Liam Donnelly:

Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery's new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair? 

Thirteen years ago, Liam's boss at the winery offered him a bribe—leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn't good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he's back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together… (via Goodreads)



I thought the setting of the winery and the tasting room was perfect for a contemporary Christmas romance, and I loved both Sabrina and Liam as characters. They were great together; however, my favourite scene from the book came near the end when Sabrina and Liam have their inevitable breakup/will-they-wont-they moment. Liam's younger brother, Alex, gives him a lecture and an earful that was just perfect!

I previously read Slow Burn Cowboy and one thing I love about this author is that she keeps her novels fresh and fun, sweet and sexy. This is the perfect novel to read with a glass of wine beside the fireplace or Christmas tree this winter, and then pass along to a girlfriend so you can gush about sexy cowboys together!

I'm giving a paperback copy of Christmastime Cowboy over on Instagram this week! Head over @jennbairos to check it out.

Christmastime Cowboy is available for purchase on Amazon.com or wherever books are sold. You can connect with Maisey Yates for more on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel courtesy of TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Books. All thoughts and opinions are true and entirely my own.

Monday, 13 November 2017

My 6 Favourite Instagram Accounts

The most used app on my phone is probably Instagram. I love sharing photos and I get so much inspiration from others. Here are my 6 favourite accounts!

Emily McDowell Studio
Emily McDowell's tell it like it is products are the best!


I follow a lot of bookish Instagram accounts. This one is my favourite.



The Blonde Bookworm
Another account to follow for bookish inspiration and great reads.



Hot Dudes Reading
This account is basically just secret snaps of hot guys reading. Probably the yummiest account I follow ;)



Notes 2 My Selfie
Notes 2 My Selfie never fails to make me laugh. A real life perspective on the struggle of adulting. It's so good.


Obvious State
I love anything French-inspired. This account combines my love for books with my passion for French culture all in one.



Do you have any favourite Instagram accounts that I should know about? Leave me their link! You can find me @jennbairos.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 30 October 2017

My Favourite October 2017 Releases

October was a banner month for book releases! Not only was it my own personal publishing debut, The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Life With Boys was released during the same month as some of my other favourites for the year.


A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle - Alan Doyle (frontman from Great Big Sea) is back with a second memoir about his first experiences off the island of Newfoundland as he travelled in the early days of Great Big Sea. You can see my full review here.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine - An engaging thriller about a girl who manipulates to get the life she's always dreamed of...with a twist. Check out my review here and read chapter one here.

The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Life With Boys by Various Authors - 35 mom bloggers have gotten together to each tell you a hilarious and/or heartwarming story about being a boy mom. You can read more about it here. Plus I'm one of the contributors!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling (Illustrated Edition) - I love these illustrated editions of the Harry Potter series. The art and beauty in these books are second to none. Jim Kay's art is such a gift to the Harry Potter world.

Brooding YA Hero by Broody McHottiepants (Carrie DiRisio) - This is a satire novel that lovingly pokes fun at the young adult hero in the very best way. A hilarious look at the YA tropes that we equally cringe at and love.

The Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - Earlier this year I read my first Hazel Gaynor novel, The Cottingley Secret, and loved it. I have a soft spot for historical fiction, Paris, and romance, so a book with all three is bound to make it to my TBR pile.



Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak - An eclectic family is stuck in quarantine over Christmas. Tensions rises and secrets are revealed. This is on my TBR list for December!

Everything is Awful by Matt Bellassai - I love Matt Bellassai's "To Be Honest" video series, so I can't wait to read his book. I'm sure it will be just as hilarious!

xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Little Red Canoe - October 2017 Review

Little Red Canoe is a new Canadian children's book subscription box designed to "create reading adventures to engage kids and get them excited about spending time outside."

Sebastian just joined Beaver Scouts, and I thought that, continuing along that theme, he may really love the Little Red Canoe box and the inspiration it has to offer.

He was so excited to receive this box, most especially because the box itself was so decorated!!



Little Red Canoe has three age groups to choose from for their subscription boxes: 0-2 (Happy Wanderers), 3-5 (Little Explorers), and 6-8 (Young Adventurers). Here is what was included in his Little Explorers box:

* a copy of "In the Red Canoe" by Leslie Davidson (illustrated by Laura Bifano)
* an "In the Red Canoe" bookmark
* a note from the author
* a letter from the illustrator
* a Colour-Me nature postcard
* five twig pencil crayons (sustainably crafted) in a canvas bag
* a children's book quote card
* a "So Many Books So Little Time" postcard
* PLUS an additional surprise (just for fun!)  - Sebastian's surprise was a notebook.


My five-year-old LOVED the pencil crayons and colouring postcard. I couldn't even take any pictures before he got down quickly to work. "Read me the book while I colour, Mommy!"


The boxes are personalized to the children receiving them, and the hardcover books are such a special touch to this book box. 

A new book box theme is released for each age group every two months. The cost is $29.99 for one box. Then there is a 10% discount for 3 months, and a 15% discount when you subscribe for 6 months. Shipping is extra. 

I'm sure I got more out of the author and illustrator letters than my little guy did, but overall the value is pretty close to the cost of the box. If you have a little one that loves being outside, Little Red Canoe is the perfect gift!

Visit their website to see their November and December themes! They are currently offering a 10% Halloween discount on all orders placed before October 31st.



xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - We received a complementary Little Red Canoe box for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are true and entirely my own.

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