Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Read The North

In celebration of Canada's 150th birthday this week, I've rounded up a list of my favourite Canadian authors and books for a little focus on Canadian literature.

Jennifer Robson - I've gushed about Jennifer Robson here and here already. She's the author of Somewhere in France, After the War is Over, Moonlight Over Paris, and, most recently, Goodnight From London.
Perfect #canlit read for: anyone who enjoys a love story woven into their historical fiction.

Alan Doyle - Former frontman of the band Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle has also penned two memoirs. Where I Belong is his first, and A Newfoundlander in Canada is due out this October.
Perfect #canlit read for: fans of Great Big Sea or anyone who's ever visited the east coast.

Lawrence Hill - The Book of Negroes is one of my all time favourite historical fiction novels. The Illegal is also sitting on my TBR pile.
Perfect #canlit read for: lovers of historical fiction (The Illegal focuses on a refugee story, so that may be a little less "historical" and a little more "current" fiction.)

Emily St. John Mandel - Station Eleven is a phenomenal novel. The opening scene is set in Toronto and just makes the rest of the story feel just that much more eery. What would happen if a virus wiped out 99% of the Earth's population? What would that look like in Canada and the U.S.?
Perfect #canlit read forfans of dystopian literature like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but slightly less dark. 

Nathalie Prézeau - Prézeau has 3 different books of planned urban strolls you can take throughout the city of Toronto. Her most recent one focuses on public art in the city.
Perfect #canlit read for: travellers or anyone in the greater Toronto area.

Bunmi Laditan - Author of bestselling The Honest Toddler, Laditan has a new book out this year called Confession of a Domestic Failure. It's her first novel. I read it this spring and laughed out loud so much throughout!
Perfect #canlit read for: any mama who's ever felt even just a little bit overwhelmed by it all.

Lori Lansens - Whenever I pick up a Lori Lansens book, I always know I'm going to read a storyline I've never read before. Her recent publication, The Mountain Story, is my favourite of hers, but I also really enjoyed The Girls.
Perfect #canlit read for: someone who loves novels with fascinating characters.

Roméo Dellaire - My favourite form of non-fiction is memoir, and Roméo Dellaire's Shake Hands With The Devil offers a terrifying account of the Rawandan Genocide. It's not a hopeful read by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly learned a lot reading this one, and it is very well-written.
Perfect #canlit read for: anyone interested in history/current events around the world.

Margaret Atwood - I only have a few Margaret Atwood books under my belt, but they are always fascinating. I'm currently rereading The Handmaid's Tale. I read it 20 years ago in high school, and it is so interesting to read again so many years later.
Perfect #canlit read for: those who love dystopian fiction with a focus on the role of women, or fans of Neil Gaiman.

Lucy Maude Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables was the book that made me fall in love with books. I also like to think of this series as some of the original YA out there.
Perfect #canlit read for: YA fans. This one has it all - a misfit protagonist, an enemies to lovers romance, and BFFs.

Kenneth Oppel - Kenneth Oppel is another author I haven't yet read a ton of, but I did read The Nest last year, and it scared the crap out of me. And it's a middle grade novel. Your kids may enjoy this one! I know my students loved it.
Perfect #canlit read for: if you loved Coraline by Neil Gaiman, you'll probably enjoy The Nest.

There are a few Canadian authors that are still on my to be read pile. In particular, I'm interested in reading The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Still Missing by Chevy Stevens.


PS - This is totally separate, but I'm running a little giveaway on Instagram for anyone interested!

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Bookworm Box - April 2017 Review

The Bookworm Box is the amazing brainchild of author Colleen Hoover. It is run nearly exclusively by volunteers, and they donate 100% of their profits to charity.

Each box includes a minimum of two books signed by the authors. I've noticed they are usually romance novels, and this month I received Tapping the Billionaire by Max Monroe and Emerge by S.E. Hall. In addition to the two books, The Bookworm Box always includes a bit of swag. In my box was a Bookworm Box pen, magnet, and tea towel, along a few bookmarks from other authors.

Most of the books included are donated by the authors and so there may be many different versions of The Bookworm Box in a given month, depending on their supply of books.

Sometimes they even include a third book with the intention for you "pay it forward" and donate the third book to a friend or library in need.

Cost - $39.99 + shipping

To date The Bookworm Box has donated nearly one million dollars to different charities and organizations.

This April alone, The Bookworm Box was able to donate $10,000 to each of the following charities:
1. Good to Go Mobile Soup Kitchen
2. Read Alliance (early tutoring for at risk students)
3. Design Outreach (a group of engineers who designed a durable water pump handle for water wells in third world countries)

Unfortunately for me international shipping is pretty steep (because books are heavy y'all), but if you live in the continental US this is an awesome way to give back while treating yourself to some good reads at the same time!


Monday, 22 May 2017

Slow Burn Cowboy - Book Review + Giveaway

Everyone needs a fun summer romance novel to keep in their pocket for road trips or late nights on back decks, and Slow Burn Cowboy by Maisey Yates is a good one to try.

Here's a synopsis:

After his grandfather passes away, Finn Donnelly is determined to keep the ranch running by himself. However, his grandfather has left the ranch in equal share to Finn along with his three estranged brothers. Finn's brothers descend upon the ranch to claim their share of the inheritance and property.

Meanwhile, Finn is completely in love with his best friend, Lane Jensen. He and Lane have been friends for over a decade, and he has been attracted to her from the beginning; however, as his friend's younger sister, he's always thought of her as off limits. But as the stress of his family frustrations gets to him, Finn is tired of hiding his attraction to Lane, especially when he thinks she may feel it too.

I thought that Slow Burn Cowboy was a super fun read. I loved Finn and Lane so much. When I read romance novels, I really prefer it when the lead male character isn't a jerk who gets all reformed by the end. It's just a nicer feeling when he is genuinely a good guy with some other conflict going on as part of his story, and I felt like Finn fell into this group nicely. Lane has her own complicated history, but she has a really supportive, strong group of friends in Copper Ridge to help her along.

I've been wanting to read a Maisey Yates novel for a little while now. I've seen her name around in many places, and was excited for the opportunity to try one of her books. She did not disappoint! I found her writing overall to be clever and witty and then sweet and super sexy in all the right places. I would absolutely read more from this author.

Slow Burn Cowboy is part of a 10 book series called The Copper Ridge series. It can be read as a standalone (that's what I did), but at the same time, the novel also gives you some background on other characters from books earlier in the series and begins to setup the stories for the characters that will be in the remaining books (who I predict will be Finn's three brothers!).

You can connect with Maisey Yates on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Before you leave, be sure to enter below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer - I received a copy of Slow Burn Cowboy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To hear what other bloggers had to say about this book, you can also check out the full book tour here.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The View From The Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman - Book Review

Neil Gaiman is one of those names in the bookish world that's nearly impossible to ignore. I had heard of him for ages, and last year I finally read two of his novels. Neverwhere was our summer book club selection, and then I read Coraline with my Grade 8 students as part of our school book club. Neverwhere I devoured and loved and can't wait to reread sometime soon. Coraline, on the other hand, actually terrified me (my students completely loved it, however).

And so began my entry into the genre of fantasy. Since reading Neverwhere less than a year ago, I have read no fewer than 10 books that fall solidly into the genre of science fiction or fantasy. And a handful of others that weave magic into their stories. It is these books that have taught me that who we are as readers at 20 or even 30 are not who we are going to be as readers our whole lives. Like anything, our reading life ebbs and flows in directions we may never have anticipated. And surprises await us if we are open to them.

In his introduction to The View From The Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman talks about his exit from journalism to write fiction. He says "...I wanted the freedom to make things up. I did not want to be nailed to the truth; or to be more accurate, I wanted to be able to tell the truth without ever needing to worry about the facts."

I love these novels. The ones that build the breathtaking worlds that our brains know can't possibly be real but in which our hearts feel their truth. It is this feeling that has connected me with Neil Gaiman, and what peaked my interest in his recent non-fiction collection. How do these storytellers see our actual world and how does that influence them when building their own?

The View From The Cheap Seats is selected non-fiction work of Neil Gaiman. It's a collection of speeches, essays, book forwards, and introductions. In a manner that is playful, insightful, serious, witty, and wise, Neil Gaiman discusses a variety of subjects that are meaningful to him. He shares his thoughts about literacy, libraries, various authors and books, America, mythology, ghosts, genre, and more.

I've been savouring each of the pieces included in this collection, reading them slowly to spend time with each of the ideas presented. It's long (522 pages) but deliciously so. Readers, writers, parents, and educators will be drawn into Gaiman's non-fiction work and find ideas and anecdotes that will reaffirm their love of language.

The View From The Cheap Seats is available for purchase on Amazon or HarperCollins. You can also connect with Neil Gaiman on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, tumblr, along with his website or his blog.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

So Many Book Birthdays!

It is seriously a banner day for book publishing. There are 4 blockbuster books out today!

If you follow me on Instagram, the past few months have basically been a love letter to this series by Sarah J. Maas. Well, not entirely, but since January I have read A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury each twice. I'm currently reading A Court of Wings and Ruin half holding my breath the whole time because I'm so terrified for the characters. If you need to get lost in an amazing book series, I highly recommend this one.

I fangirl over all of Jennifer Robson's books, and Goodnight From London was no exception. I was grateful to have been gifted an early copy of this book to read, and I've been recommending it to all of my friends. If you love historical fiction with a little bit of romance and a strong heroine, check this one out. You can find my full review of Goodnight From London here.

3. Confessions of a Domestic Failure
If you're familiar with The Honest Toddler or her viral Facebook page, then you know that Bunmi Laditan writes in a way that connects with moms hard. Confessions of a Domestic Failure is Laditan's first novel about a new mom who's trying to be perfect, ends up a hot mess, and loves her children fiercely along the way. I was so excited to win a copy of this via Goodreads and will be starting it as soon as I'm finished with ACOWAR.

4. Into The Water
Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, has her next book out today as well. Into the Water is about a series of strange deaths along a river. Secrets, small towns, and even witchcraft are all woven together in this literary suspense novel.

Which of these would you read first?

Monday, 1 May 2017

Sebastian: 5 Years Old and 20 Questions

Every year, Rob and I do a little interview with Sebastian. Here's the 5-year-old edition!

1. What is your favorite color? pink (for the third year in a row!)
2. What is your favorite toy? Shopkins
3. What is your favorite fruit? strawberries
4. What is your favorite tv show? Shopkins
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? hamburgers
6. What is your favorite outfit? footies
7. What is your favorite game? I Spy books
8. What is your favorite snack? watermelon 
9. What is your favorite animal? cheetah
10. What is your favorite song? Chirp theme song
11. What is your favorite book? I Spy books (also third year running)
12. Who is your best friend? Mommy and Daddy
13. What is your favorite cereal? Rice Krispies 
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play golf
15. What is your favorite drink? water
16. What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Mommy 
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? waffles
19. What do you want for dinner? cereal like Vavo sometimes does (Vavo is one of his grandmothers)
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? helping Daddy do his work

And here are his answers from his 4th birthday and 3rd birthday.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Worth the Wait

Before I was pregnant with Sebastian, I had two miscarriages. One of them was particularly difficult. I remember thinking when I was pregnant with Sebastian that there was no way I would really be able to fully love this child. I remember thinking that he was our backup baby. That the baby I loss in my first miscarriage was my "real child".

Remembering these thoughts haunts me. I know they were a product of the grief I was feeling for those babies that were never to be, and I carry guilt when I think of how I used to feel about being pregnant with Sebastian. Because now when I look at Sebastian as he turns five years old, I know in the depths of my heart and soul that he was the child I was meant to have.  

I do still wonder about those other babies. I remember them and send warmth and love their way, wherever they are now. I ask myself sometimes what they would have been like. Were they boys or girls? Would they have been better sleepers at night? Would they have loved Pokemon, and Shopkins, and I Spy books with Sebastian's passion? How would I be different if I hadn't had that year of loss in my life? Would I have still struggled with postpartum depression

When these questions come and threaten to spiral in me, all it takes is one of Sebastian's smiles, hugs, or laughs and I know that he was entirely worth the wait. Worth the pain. Worth the tears. And I know that my fears of being unable to love him fully were unfounded. 

Now I feel that we are so blessed to be his parents. If I hadn't experienced those two losses, Sebastian wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have gotten to be his mom. He would have never known the joys of life, and we would have never known the joy of him and who he is and the gifts he has to offer.

It's hard to feel thankful for loss, but for the path that lead me to him, I will be eternally grateful.