Thursday, 18 April 2019

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick - Book Review and Giveaway



I'll never be able to think of this book without thinking of spraining my ankle. While I did try to take a picture of this gorgeous book about a library in an actual library, things didn't work out as planned (you can read the embarrassing story here). However, I did end up spontaneously being all matchy matchy with this book at a coffee shop, so I suppose the lesson here is not to over-plan life.

This is not exactly unconnected to some of the themes in The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick. Librarian Martha Storm spends her life creating colour-coordinated lists and being the "go to" person for any task needing completion in her small town. From completing laundry for her neighbours to repairing decorations to volunteering at the library, Martha has dedicated her life to helping others.

One day, the discovery of an old book of fairy tales knocks her off her current course. There is a dedication in this book that indicates her beloved grandmother may not have died when Martha was told she did. Is Zelda still alive now? What other family secrets are in hiding? As Martha dives into this mystery, she discovers hidden truths about her past that may change her future.

Initially, I did not like Martha. She is a doormat in the extreme when we meet her, and I was annoyed that so many people around her were taking advantage of her desire to be helpful. The first half of this book will definitely have you evaluating how often you say, "No." in your own life. However, I grew to enjoy Martha's character more by the end. She goes through a necessary journey in this novel and comes out better for it. And the bookseller she meets, Owen, is quite charming :)

Ultimately, The Library of Lost and Found is about our personal connection to books and how stories bring us together. I have a soft spot for book about books, and this one fits that genre nicely.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I'm giving one copy of The Library of Lost and Found away over on Instagram this weekend. Check it out here!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book from TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Books for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 29 March 2019

The Savior by J. R. Ward


Waiting for this has been MURHDER…

The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward is a staple in romancelandia. Broody, sexy vampires who protect their loved ones at all cost. It's hard not to get swept up in this series.



The Savior is next instalment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Murhder has a dark and tragic history with the BDB. When he meets a scientist struggling with her own tragedy, will they together find salvation?

Check out The Savior trailer below for more about Murhder's story:




The Savior is available for preorder wherever books are sold. You can shop directly on the Simon and Schuster website here.

And that's not all!!

J. R. Ward has created a newsletter called The Caldwell Courier Journal where she will share brand new content for the Black Dagger Brotherhood each month. Read on below for an example of what you can expect and sign up for the newsletter here

Who better to ask for honest, snarky relationship advice than Vishous?

Ask At Your Own Risk.


Dear Vishous, Agony Aunt Column
(with help from Mary)

Dear Vishous,

First of all, thank you for doing this.  I need another perspective.  I am a 27 year old woman, about fifteen months out of a five year relationship.  I started dating a guy about two months ago.  I’ll call him “Evan.”  We met on Match.com.  We both workout.  We like a good time out at the clubs and the bars.  We’re both Sox fans.  He’s funny and he’s been good about keeping in touch when he travels frequently for work.  

My problem is this.  He told me he was twenty-eight.  A week or so ago, when we were playing pool at our local, he told me to snag his wallet and pay for the next round at the bar.  While I was getting money out, I saw his driver’s license.  It said he’s thirty-six and the address listed was in a different area of the city than he told me he lives in. I got the drinks and put his wallet back in his pocket, and tried not to think about it.

But I can’t shake the idea he lied, and it’s causing me to obsess about things that are probably no big deal.  Like, he only comes to stay at my place.  I’ve never been to his apartment, and when I asked about this, he said he has two roommates who get on his nerves and he prefers the break he gets when he sleeps at my apartment.  And I’ve introduced him to my friends, but he’s never offered to do the same.  At first, I was psyched because my ex never wanted to hang with my people.  But now?  I guess I’m uneasy and looking for shadows everywhere.  

I don’t care how old he is, and I know that some times folks on Match fudge their age to make them more attractive.  And maybe it’s just an old license.  I don’t want to ruin a good thing by looking like I’m second guessing him about stuff that only appears iffy and for which there is a reasonable explanation.

Please advise,

On The Fence In Beantown

#################

Vishous:  Here’s what you need to do.  Go to your local Stahp ‘n Shahp and get some Sweet Baby Ray’s  BBQ.  Then get a good knife.  After you slice his b*lls off, marinate them and then pan fry ‘em.  Serve them to him hot and spicy and-

Mary:  Okaaaaaaay.  Let’s just all take a deep breath here.

V:  I know, because the BBQ sauce smells great, right?

Mary:  Ah, no.  It’s because we should not settle this type of conflict through bodily harm.

V:  Whatever, that lying sack of sh*t with the fake Match profile doesn’t deserve a set of nuts.  S’all I’m sayin’.

Mary:  I think we’ve heard your point of view loud and clear.  And now, I’d like to offer a more nuanced opinion.  On The Fence, it’s clear that there are some reasons to be concerned about this guy.  One of the things that I tell people in my practice is to always trust your instincts.  As much as you want to believe the best-

V:  Fine.  No BBQ sauce, then.  Just slice, dice and toss ‘em in the pan.  He doesn’t deserve Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Mary:  ................

V:  What.  Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that.

Mary:  I’ve never actually said this before to someone, but why don’t you light up a cigarette and take a few deep drags.

V:  I thought you’d never ask.

Mary:  Anyway, On The Fence, my suggestion is that you have a frank, face-to-face conversation with “Evan.”  Share your concerns calmly and succinctly.  See what his answers are.  Based on how he responds, you should be able to tell a lot.  Is he listening to you and taking you seriously?  Is he offering to have you stay over at his place?  Or is he defensive and turning everything back on you-

V:  And his Red Sox card is revoked.  He has to root for the Yankees now.

Mary:  -in a way that makes you uncomfortable?  At the end of the day, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who’s as honest as you are and treats you the way you’re treating them.

V:  I have to agree with Mary on this one.  Even though you’re a human, being with a lying sack of sh*t is whack.  

Mary:  Remember, your physical safety comes first, and fast on its heels is your emotional health.  Please do not sacrifice your happiness just because you are hoping that “Evan” is the one- 

V:  I think you’re going to find out he’s got a wife and kids and he’s playing you.  Which brings us back to my solution to the problem-

Mary: -and let us know how it goes, please.  Best of luck!

V:  F**k him!  Go get a real man- and that skillet.


The Savior is available April 2nd, and you can sign up for The Caldwell Courier Journal here.
xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me these materials and a copy of The Savior to enjoy! All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Friday, 22 March 2019

HealthTea Book Crate March 2019 - Unboxing


Ever since Novel Editions closed down over a year ago, I've been hunting for a book box that featured excellent new releases and high-quality products. I've tested quite a few, and I've finally found one that is perfect for me!

HealthTea Book Crate is a bi-monthly subscription box that always features recently released fiction (often hardcover and signed by the author), tea, and other luxury bookish/self-care items.

My husband gifted me a six-month subscription (3 boxes) for Christmas, and I enjoyed their enchanted forest holiday box so much! I unboxed it on Instagram here.

The March 2019 box is themed mindfulness, and I love it just as much!


Included:
* The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (hardcover with a signed book plate, plus #diversereads for the win!)
* Morning Harmony loose leaf tea by Leaf & Twig
* Happy Floral Notebook Set by Seedlings (set of 3 notebooks with a plantable belly band)
* Fluttery Mix Pencil Terrarium by June and December (set of 5)
* Breath Deeply Essential Oil Towelettes by Happy Spritz (set of 4)
* Ways To Be More Mindful art print by HealthTea Book Crate

If you're interested in learning more, visit their Subscription page for the various pricing and gift options. Their next box is in May, and it's their one-year anniversary box, so it's sure to be wonderful!

The whimsical packaging details, and the luxurious items selected make HealthTea Book Crate such a treat to open. While the cost of shipping to Canada is (understandably) high, this was the perfect gift, and I'm hopeful Rob renews my subscription for Mother's Day đź’–.

xo
Jenn

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

California Girls by Susan Mallery - Book Review





If you're looking for a fun, light, heartwarming read, Califorina Girls by Susan Mallery is the perfect fit. It's the story of three sisters who get dumped in the same week....

Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation... While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.

Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.

Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancĂ© sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I quite enjoyed Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery a few years ago, so I was excited to bring California Girls on vacation this week, and I was not disappointed. All three storylines with Ali, Zennie, and Finola moved quickly and were fun to get lost in for a few days. Daniel is super dreamy and the chapters with him and Ali were my favourite. Susan Mallery writes novels that are perfect for readers to love their romances not too spicy, and I love the way she writes the banter between the characters.

The only character I didn't like in this story was the mother. I suspect she was supposed to be unsupportive and over-the-top, but I just couldn't believe that she was so insensitive towards her daughters after their breakups. Maybe I just have a great mom and other moms are actually like this? I don't know. That was the one part that kind of pulled me out of the story now and then. That being said, I still really had fun with California Girls, and would absolutely recommend it!

Bonus - I'm giving a way a copy this week over on Instagram!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Literary Matchmaking With My Parents

I'm a big fan of Anne Bogel and the podcast What Should I Read Next?. My friend, Sara, and I even did a little literary matchmaking for each other here and here.

I thought it would be fun to try this with my parents as well.



My Mom
Books I have loved:
1. The Immigrants by Howard Fast
2. A Nurse's Story by Tilda Shalof
3. For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston

A Book I Didn't Like:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Currently Reading:
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

My mom likes happy endings. She wants a "feel good" story that isn't going to break her heart to pieces. She also likes books that tell someone's story, especially strong women. My mom prefers novels that are set within the last century. She likes historical fiction, but not too far back.

For my mom, I recommend:
1. Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen
2. Love and Ruin, Paula McLain
3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Bonus suggestions: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and Where I Belong by Alan Doyle


My Dad
My three favorite books:
1)  Aztec by Gary Jennings
2)  The Memory Illusion by Dr. Julia Shaw. It sheds a whole new light on how well we think our memories are.
3)  Foundation trilogy by Issac Assimov

A Book I Disliked:
Camino Island by John Grisham. This started out as a page turner but after the first chapter, it turned into something completely different with a very lame ending.  Definitely a waste of time and money.

Currently Reading:
I'm halfway through the first book of Sapiens. I'm enjoying it but it is not something you can spend more than 1 hr at a time on it.

My dad reads both fiction and non-fiction. He likes books that offer glimpses into different cultures and eras, and he likes learning what makes people tick. He loves a compelling story and doesn't want to be bored.

For my dad, I recommend:
1. Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
2. Station Eleven by Emily St. Jean Mandel
3. Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese

Bonus Suggestions: Midnight Light by Dave Bidini, and if he was feeling really brave, Red Leopard Black Wolf by Marlon James.

Happy reading!
xo
Jenn

Monday, 11 February 2019

On Boards by Lisa Dawn Bolton - My New Favourite Cookbook



The kitchen is not my favourite room in the house. In fact, it scares me. I can cook *just* enough to feel that I put together quasi-healthy meals for my family, but I am not a confident chef by any means.

When I discovered On Boards by Lisa Dawn Bolton, I immediately knew this cookbook would be perfect for me. I related to her entirely on page one when she described, "following the recipe to the letter, closing the oven door, and just praying it works." That is exactly how I feel in the kitchen. Her alternative is a cookbook with very little actually cooking. Sign me up!

On Boards is a collection of 50 different meals to serve on a charcuterie board. Her hope is to share ideas for us to plan gorgeous meals that you can prepare in advance for your family or your guests. You can say goodbye to living in the kitchen when your friends are over or stressing about timing for each part of the meal!


Over the past month, I've made four of the boards in this book (Vegan Vibes - pictured above, Eggs & Soldiers Brunch Board - pictured below, Something Sweet, and Date Night In.) Each board comes with a list of "components" (rather than ingredients) and an image to give you inspiration when arranging your own.



Creating these boards has been wicked easy and so much fun. Chop, arrange, snap an photo for Instagram, and serve! I've been inspired to purchase foods I might not have otherwise picked up on my own. One example is the burrata cheese that was a huge hit with our guests recently. No one around the table had even heard of this delicious, fresh-tasting cheese beforehand.

I can also attest that these boards are kid-friendly. There are some boards especially for playdates and littles, but so far my six-year-old has devoured each board I've put in front of him.

I can't recommend this cookbook highly enough. Anyone, no matter your confidence level dans la cuisine, will love it.

On Boards is available anywhere books are sold. For further inspiration, follow @lisadawnbolton on Instagram!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a complementary copy of On Boards to review. It is getting a lot of love in our house!

Monday, 4 February 2019

17 Non-Fiction Books on my TBR

I'm a huge fiction lover. The past few years, I've read 100 books a year and over 80% of them have been fiction. I love getting lost in stories and escaping real life.

This year, I'm again focusing quite a bit on my unread shelf (which has some non-fiction in it), while I'm completing two different reading challenges:

1. #theunreadshelfproject2019
2. The Toronto Library 2019 Reading Challenge

As I planned out how to meet these challenges, work through my unread books, and tackle a few others I've heard are excellent, I *think* these are going to be 17 non-fiction books I read this year.


Books I own already

We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I've read three other books by this author, and they've all been excellent. I'm looking forward to this one as well. Her words are alway so powerful.

Midnight Light, Dave Bidini - I saw Dave Bidini speak in the fall, and though Midnight Light is not a book I would ever pick up on my own, he was such a compelling speaker that I am looking forward to reading this book about his time in Yellowknife.

I'd Rather Be Reading, Anne Bogel - I'm probably the only blogger left that hasn't read Anne Bogel's newest book which is essentially a love letter to readers everywhere.

The Orchid and the Dandelion, W. Thomas Bryce - Both the teacher and the parent in me are intrigued in this book about why some children succeed and how all children can thrive.

Daring Greatly, Brené Brown - This will be my first Brené Brown book, I am pretty certain I will love every word.

There Are No Grown Ups, Pamela Drukerman - I often feel like I'm too young to be an adult. I suspect this book will show me I'm not alone!

Expecting Sunshine, Alexis Marie Chute - A friend gifted me this book last year after knowing the struggle we went through with pregnancy loss before Sebastian was born. I don't expect it will be an easy read, but I always say that the more we can tell our stories if we are able, the less we all feel alone.

Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill - A book about reading your unread books!

Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis - The more I think about Rachel Hollis, the more skeptical I feel. I was totally drinking the Girl, Wash Your Face juice when her first book came out, but there are a few things I've reflected on that make me wary about some of her messages moving forward. We'll see how this one goes...

Final Report, Rick Mercer - I love Rick Mercer, and I can't wait to read this collection of some of his best rants. And I know my parents want me to read it soon, so they can get their hands on my copy!

I'll Be There For You, Kelsey Miller - Any other Friends fans in the house? This book is a behind the scenes look at the iconic show.

Well-Read Black Girl, Glory Edim - I've been seeing this book all over Instagram lately. It's a collection of essays by black women writers on the importance of literature.

On Boards, Lisa Dawn Bolton - Can I count a cookbook? I'm doing it anyways. I'm reading though this book right now, and, even as a non-chef, I love every page.


Books I'll Get From The Library

Adulthood is a Myth, Sarah Anderson - This graphic novel looks super relatable.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou - One of the topics for the Toronto Library Reading Challenge is to read a book recommended by a librarian. I told my friend I liked memoirs, and this was at the top of her list.

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown - This book about the about the American rowing team that stunned everyone in the 1936 Olympics is supposed to be extraordinary.

Seven Fallen Feathers, Tanya Talaga - Another challenge from the Toronto Library is to read a book from their Read Indigenous list. I'm thinking of reading this one about residential schools.


What non-fiction books are you hoping to read this year?
xo
Jenn

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