Monday, 25 July 2016

4 Podcasts You'll Love (from someone who never thought they'd love podcasts)

I honestly never thought I'd be interested in podcasts. I didn't think they'd be able to hold my attention, and I had no idea when I'd have time to listen to them anyways. Yet, in the past year I've discovered four podcasts that I sincerely love and enjoy.

1. Serial (Season 1)


The podcast that began the trend (at least for me) of really getting into onto a podcast. From the very first episode Rob and I were hooked, and we binge-listened (is that a term?) to the whole thing in a few weeks. Serial is hosted by Sarah Koenig. It unfolds a true murder story over the course of the season and discusses whether the convicted, Adnan Syed, is truly guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend. Sarah shares conversations she has with Adnan and the evidence both for and against his guilt. This podcast is so gripping! Rob and I often listened to it in bed together before we fell asleep.


2. What Should I Read Next?


My friend Sara tagged me in this podcaster's Instagram feed not too long ago, and it is my new favourite! Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) hosts different guests each week. She has them share their favourite books, a book they hate, and what they're currently reading. After some great bookish discussion, Anne makes recommendations to her guest based on what they've talked about. If you love learning about new books, hearing strong opinions about books (without spoilers), and want to be inspired to read more, check out this podcast. I've been listening to it while I run, and I swear it makes my workouts just fly by because I am so interested in the conversations I'm hearing.

3. Room in the Trees




I have loved and followed the artist and author Sabrina Ward Harrison for nearly 15 years. I was first introduced to her with her book Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself. She is dedicated to living a full, authentic life, and I have always connected with her work. She has a new podcast with Trent Reynolds where they discuss life as a creative person. I've also listened to this podcast while going for a run, and it is a great one to listen to in the mornings (maybe on your commute to work if possible) when you're setting your intentions for the day.

4. Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids



This podcast will make you cringe, laugh, cry, and remember every single awkward thing you did when you were younger. The premise is pretty simple. People read their diaries, journals, and letters from when they were younger. If you enjoy the podcast, you'll also want to check out the documentary on Netflix called Mortified Nation. It's a video version. They sometimes have live events as well, so I'm really hoping to check one of those out next time it's in Toronto.

I never thought I'd really be interested in podcasts at all, and now I don't want them to end! I think next I'm going to check out One Bad Mother. It's about the "thrills and embarrassments of motherhood" while striving for "less judgement and more laughing."

xo
Jenn

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Run the World - Book Review



About the book
From elite marathoner and Olympic hopeful Becky Wade comes the story of her year-long exploration of diverse global running communities from England to Ethiopia—9 countries, 72 host families, and over 3,500 miles of running—investigating unique cultural approaches to the sport and revealing the secrets to the success of runners all over the world.

Fresh off a successful collegiate running career—with multiple NCAA All-American honors and two Olympic Trials qualifying marks to her name—Becky Wade was no stranger to international competition. But after years spent safely sticking to the training methods she knew, Becky was curious about how her counterparts in other countries approached the sport to which she’d dedicated over half of her life. So in 2012, as a recipient of the Watson Fellowship, she packed four pairs of running shoes, cleared her schedule for the year, and took off on a journey to infiltrate diverse running communities around the world. What she encountered far exceeded her expectations and changed her outlook into the sport she loved.

Over the next twelve months—visiting 9 countries with unique and storied running histories, logging over 3,500 miles running over trails, tracks, sidewalks, and dirt roads—Becky explored the varied approaches of runners across the globe. Whether riding shotgun around the streets of London with Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt, climbing for an hour at daybreak to the top of Ethiopia’s Mount Entoto just to start her daily run, or getting lost jogging through the bustling streets of Tokyo, Becky’s unexpected adventures, keen insights, and landscape descriptions take the reader into the heartbeat of distance running around the world. Upon her return to the United States, she incorporated elements of the training styles she’d sampled into her own program, and her competitive career skyrocketed. When she made her marathon debut in 2013, winning the race in a blazing 2:30, she became the third-fastest woman marathoner under the age of 25 in U.S. history, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials and landing a professional sponsorship from Asics.

From the feel-based approach to running that she learned from the Kenyans, to the grueling uphill workouts she adopted from the Swiss, to the injury-recovery methods she learned from the Japanese, Becky shares the secrets to success from runners and coaches around the world. The story of one athlete’s fascinating journey, Run the World is also a call to change the way we approach the world’s most natural and inclusive sport.

My thoughts
I am a relatively novice runner, and I still very much enjoyed reading about running culture around the world (plus it motivated me to lace up my own sneakers a bit more this month). It was so interesting to learn the practises and deeply rooted running traditions from different countries.

Wade clearly describes the different running events she attended and makes you feel like you are actually there. For example, when she describes watching the marathon in the 2012 London Olympics, even though I was just reading about it, I could feel the anticipation building around the event.

Food is so connected to the sport of running and to building community and friendships, so each chapter finishes with a recipe native to one of the countries she was visiting. At the very end of the book, Becky Wade also shares with us her pre-race playlist to get her ready to run.

For anyone with even the smallest interest in both short or long-distance running, you will enjoy Wade's easy to read adventures and discoveries within her book. I learned so much, not only about running, but about different cultures within our global village. I also look forward to keeping an eye out for Becky Wade at future Olympic events!

Run the World is available for purchase here from Amazon and here from Chapters.

xo
Jenn





Connect with Becky on Instagram and Twitter.


Disclaimer – I received a copy of Run the World courtesy of the author, Harper Collins, and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To check out what other bloggers had to say about Run the World here is the full book tour. Enjoy!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

4 Guilt-Free Pleasures

I'm a firm believer in self-care, so today I'm sharing four of my favourite ways to indulge.

1. Evy's Tree

Evy's Tree sells beautiful, wearable to work, cardigans and hoodies. Yes, hoodies. I own 5. Their tagline is "Everyday luxury. Everyday life." and that exactly describes their amazing products. They are perfect for throwing on when running around with kids, or I can very easily dress them up and wear them to work. They are unique, comfortable, and on high-rotation in my closet.



I also have and love The Kristina in Sage and just ordered The Nicole in Raven.

2. Bella Grace Magazine


Bella Grace is my most recent self-care discovery. It is a women's magazine published quarterly that encourages us to live authentically and with purpose. Each issue contains beautiful photography, heartfelt stories, interactive lists, and spaces where you can even write directly on the pages. From their website:

"We believe: 
an ordinary life can be extraordinary,
there is beauty in imperfection,
and that magic can be found in the everyday.

...Embrace imperfection. Celebrate your messy life. Shine a spotlight on small, everyday moments - they are special, they are yours."




3. Ste. Anne's Spa

Once a year I go to Ste. Anne's Spa with a few close co-workers. We've started a tradition where, as soon as we are finished with all of our meetings at school we have a day booked here to decompress. If you live in or near Toronto, or are ever visiting, it is worth it. They have overnight accommodations, but I recommend a day-spa package.  You get a spa credit, lunch, afternoon tea, and full use of the grounds. Basically you spend all day in a bathrobe feeling like you're in heaven. Another tip - you can bring your own wine for lunch. They will keep it chilled for you, serve when you're ready, and don't charge a corkage fee.




4. Bookworm Boutique

There isn't much I don't love from this online store. I have this mug and this pillow (which Sebastian tries constantly to claim as his own, and I keep having to bring it back to our bedroom). I need a new iPhone case, so one of these may be in my future soon. I loathe international shipping charges, so follow @bookwormboutique on Instagram to find out when they have free worldwide shipping. Plus, their IG feed in general is basically #bookstagramgoals.



So that's it! Those are four pleasures about which I feel zero guilt. Happy summer, friends!
xo
Jenn

Monday, 11 July 2016

Interview with Melissa Amster from Chick Lit Central

One of my favourite blogs that I've discovered recently is Chick Lit Central. It's dedicated to book reviews, author interviews, and tons of giveaways (open worldwide) for chick lit books and other women's fiction. Today I'm interviewing Melissa Amster, one of the main voices behind Chick Lit Central. Welcome, Melissa!
1. What was your inspiration to start blogging?
I wanted to connect with other chick lit readers and saw some amazing blogs that were doing interviews with authors. I liked that possibility and took off from there.
2. If you were stranded on an island, what 3 books would you bring with you?
That's like asking which of my kids I'd bring. I know She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb would definitely be in the pile. I love so many books and never take the time to re-read them because there are so many others out there to explore. But I would love to revisit She's Come Undone at some point down the road. I'd also want to bring two books I haven't read yet but have been meaning to check out. Probably big books if I were going to need to stay busy for a while. So maybe The Goldfinch would be one of them, since people have been recommending it a lot. Perhaps Hamilton: The Revolution since I'm obsessed with this musical and could just look at the pictures all day and then learn the lyrics to all the songs in the meantime.
3. What's your favourite chick flick?
Legally Blonde, When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Where the Heart is, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (I think they should revisit these characters in 2017.) The list could go on forever!
4.Being a mother is so busy! Where do you find time to read?
I work out in the morning before the kids get up and read during that time. Also while eating breakfast and on my lunch breaks most of the week. Shabbat is a great time to read since all electronics go off and the kids are big enough to keep each other entertained.
5. Have you ever written a novel? Or do you think you have one inside you?
No. I've written some short stories, including Babysitters Club fan fiction, over at my personal blog. I have a lot of novels inside of me but can't think of how to word them on paper (or screen, in this case).
6. What is your favourite book (fiction or non-fiction) about motherhood?
I don't read much non-fiction about motherhood. Fiction-wise, I loved Say Never by Janis Thomas. While the main character was actually an aunt, she got to see what motherhood was like when she had to take care of her niece and nephew for a week. It was hilarious and also heartfelt. The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel also looks at motherhood from a different angle, but very powerful nonetheless. In any case, there are a lot of great novels about motherhood out there, as it is a prevalent topic in chick lit and women's fiction these days.


Melissa Amster lives in Maryland (DC Metro area) with her husband, two sons and daughter. When she's not reading and interviewing authors, she works for a Jewish non-profit. In her spare time (what's that?!?), she likes to watch her favourite shows on TV, bake challah and desserts, and host meals and other gatherings. Check out her personal blog and follow her on Twitter. Then visit Chick Lit Central on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Fatal Affair - Book Review + Giveaway



Next up on our sexy summer read series is the romantic suspense novel, Fatal Affair.

Fatal Affair is the first book in the Fatal Series by Marie Force. In the first book of the series, we meet Samanatha Holland and Nick Cappuano. Sam is a detective sergeant with the Washington DC Metro Police and Nick Cappuano is the friend and chief of staff of Senator John O'Connor who was found murdered in his home. Sam and Nick are required to work together to find out who murdered the Senator and why.

This is only made more complicated because six years earlier Sam and Nick had a memorable one-night stand, and they discover during this investigation that they are clearly still attracted to each other.

The storyline of Fatal Affair begins immediately on the first page, capturing the reader's attention and interest right away. I felt that the story was easy to follow, and I loved the witty banter between Nick and Sam. I would have actually liked a bit more tension between Nick and Sam to keep their relationship interesting. I'm a fan of the will-they-wont-they-but-we-know-they-totally-will-eventually plot line. Maybe that's something that will come later in the series!

Overall I enjoyed reading Fatal Affair. It's the perfect book to read in bed with a glass of red wine after you've finished watching an episode of Scandal or House of Cards.



Since Fatal Affair is the first book in the series, it also includes the bonus novella, One Night With You, which describes how Nick and Sam first met six years earlier and what happened the night they spent together.

Fans of J. D. Robb's In Death books will love trying out the Fatal Series. I know I will pass my copy along to my sister because I'm certain she'll really enjoy it.

While Fatal Affair is the first book in a series, it can absolutely be read as a standalone. If you're already familiar with the Fatal Series, you can preorder book 10, Fatal Identity, which comes out on July 26th. Then be sure to check out Marie Force's preorder promotion for the opportunity to win additional prizes!

You can connected with the author, Marie Force, on Facebook, Twitter, or her webpage. Fatal Affair is available for purchase here from Amazon and here from Chapters.

xo
Jenn

GIVEAWAY!


Marie Force has partnered with TLC Book tours to giveaway a complete print set of all nine books in the Fatal Series to one lucky winner! (Open to US and Canadian residents.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer – I received a copy of Fatal Affair from the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To check out what other bloggers had to say about Fatal Affair and read a few excerpts, here is the full book tour. Enjoy!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Four Ways Sebastian Is Most Like Us

Sebastian may be only 4, but this little guy is FULL of personality. He is not an exact copy of either Rob or I, but there are some characteristics he has that have clearly come from one, or both, of us.



1. He is very tall for his age. Sebastian was born weighing in at 10.5 pounds and 57 centimetres long (via natural birth thankyouverymuch), and he has maintained that long height and stature ever since. The very first thing I remember after delivering Sebastian was hearing my OBGYN say, "Where were you hiding this baby?" Now, at just over 4 years old, Sebastian is about 3 feet 7 inches tall. He is confused for an older kid all of the time, which can be frustrating because people expect him to do certain things or talk a certain way when he is still not even in school yet. I am 6 feet tall, and my mom says that it was the same for me when I was Sebastian's age. My dad is over 6 feet tall, so this is a trait that clearly runs in our family.



2. He has stunning, deep, brown eyes.  Sebastian's eyes are inherited very much from Rob's side of the family. Both Rob and his mother have striking, brown eyes, and Sebastian has these as well. I like to think they pull you in in the very best way, but they also make him an expert at "puppy dog eyes".



3. He is very observant. Sebastian notices everything. Rob is excellent at this as well. Last summer, when Sebastian was just barely 3, he remembered the exact bench on which my brother-in-law left his keys in the San Diego Botanical Gardens after we all got back to the car and realized we had lost the car keys. Not one of the 4 adults had any idea where they were. Sebastian overheard us talking about the keys and remembered exactly where they were on a bench "near the bubbles". This personality trait is also apparent whenever he's in a new group. My mom swears that Rob and Seb are similar this way. They enjoy meeting new people, and neither of them are particularly shy, but in a group setting with new people, they are the ones taking everything in more than vying for anyone's attention.



4. He believes that books are the very best. To say that Sebastian loves books would be a massive understatement. You can't go very far in our house without bumping into a pile of books or finding a bookshelf full of our favourite reads. When given the choice between a new toy and a new book, Sebastian will almost always choose a new book. We visit the library multiple times a week and somehow still have books we return late because they get lost in the sheer volume of books in our house. I also love reading and collecting books, and I wish on every word that Sebastian always loves to read as much as he does now. He sees me regularly with my latest book in hand, and we talk together about the stories we like to read. His favourites right now are Curious George, Franklin, any of the 5 Minute Fairy Tales books, and most especially I Spy or Look and Find books.


xo
Jenn

P.S. You still have a few days left to enter the Sleepless in Manhattan book giveaway!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Sleepless in Manhattan - Book Review + Author Interview and Giveaway

Summer reading season is here! I have a number of sexy summer reads lined up for the blog over the next couple of months, and today we are starting with the fun contemporary romance Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan. Sleepless in Manhattan is the first book in a new romantic trilogy set in NYC.


Paige has been in love Jack Romano, her brother's best friend, since she was 17. When she was a teenager, she thought he felt the same way but was humiliatingly shot down when she tried to act on her feelings. Years later, Paige is living in New York City with her two best friends, Eva and Frankie. Jake is also living in NYC, still best friends with Paige's brother, and is the city's hottest millionaire bachelor. After Paige loses her job, she is forced to accept Jake's help to start her own business. As they work together on a project, old feelings resurface and sparks fly, even though Jake makes it clear he is not interested in a serious relationship.

This is my first Sarah Morgan novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The story moved along well and had a few twists I hadn't predicted. Mostly though, I couldn't get enough of Paige and Jack. They were just so perfect together! I loved their background stories, their little arguments, and their sexual tension. Their whole story was deliciously fun, and the setting of the sparkling night lights in New York City is fitting for any romance story. I kept picturing this book as a real romantic comedy film while I was reading it. Whether you're headed to a vacation in a big city, a weekend at the beach, or just doing some lounging by a pool, Sleepless in Manhattan is an excellent guilty pleasure to bring along.


INTERVIEW WITH SARAH MORGAN


1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve loved writing since I was 8, but I didn’t consider it as a career. Even when I eventually submitted and was published, I didn’t think it would be something I would do full time. For quite a few years writing was something I did in my spare time alongside another job, as it is for so many people. I do feel very, very lucky to be able to do this full time! I make a living by telling stories and that is truly my Dream Job.

2. Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas come from everywhere - from something I’ve read, or something I’ve heard (if I meet a couple I will ALWAYS ask how they met). Sometimes ideas appear from nowhere and that is the magic of writing. It is so exciting when that happens and all you want to do is rush and write the book immediately! Creating characters is fun and gives endless scope for variety. People ask me whether I’m running out of plots but there are as many plots as there are people, so the answer is no.

3. If you were stuck on a deserted island which three books would you want with you?
I love reading and have many favorite authors, but right at the top would be anything by Nora Roberts, Sarah Addison Allen, and Jill Shalvis. I also enjoy historical fiction and love Georgette Heyer, Lisa Kleypas and Nicola Cornick.

4. Where do you like to write?
For years I wrote wherever I could find space, but now I'm lucky enough to have a beautiful office in the garden. It's secluded, shaded by apple trees, and my only visitors are squirrels, birds and bees. It's very peaceful, and I appreciate having protected writing space. I can stick my notes all over the wall and I don't have to move them. Readers can see pictures of my office on any of my social media pages.


You can connect with Sarah Morgan on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

Sleepless in Manhattan is available for purchase here from Amazon and here from Chapters.


GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Sarah Morgan and TLC Book tours, I have one print copy of Sleepless in Manhattan to giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


PS - It's not an official book trailer, but I found this fun fan-made Sleepless in Manhattan book trailer on Youtube. Enjoy!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer – I received a copy of Sleepless in Manhattan from the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. To check out what other bloggers had to say about Sleepless in Manhattan, here is the full book tour. Enjoy!

ShareThis