Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Connected Underneath - Book Review

"Madena, upstate New York. Like any other small town, everybody keeps an eye on everybody else's business without recognizing the secrets that connect them. The wheelchair-bound Celeste conjures up lives from what she sees and thinks she sees while peering through binoculars from her kitchen fan vent. Fifteen-year old Persephone trades sex for tattoo sessions that get her high and help her forget her girlfriend doesn't love her. Theo was the high-school bad boy who couldn't have the respectable girl he adored from afar, but now, sitting behind the counter of the last video store in town, worries wretchedly about the restless daughter he never understood. Natalie, trying to grasp the last shreds of respectability, would do anything to forget the baby she gave up long ago, including betray her husband and son.

Celeste, longing to connect, combines truth with fantasy, intervenes and interferes, finally understanding that things have gone terribly wrong and that she stands at the heart of he disaster."

Connected Underneath, by Linda Legters, is not a book I would have normally picked up on my own; however, I was pleasantly surprised while reading it. It a strangely fascinating story.

In the beginning, wheelchair-bound Celeste, makes assumptions about her neighbours and the lives they live. It's not that crazy. We all make these kinds of speculations about others everyday. In Connected Underneath, Celeste think about acting on hers. And when we make snap judgements and comments based on the small amount of other's lives that we observe, those comments may have far reaching consequences.

This short novel is very much about connections. That burning desire, or really, need for everyone to be deeply connected to someone else. And when those connections may not exist as we thought they did, it can shift us in profound ways.

"...we all came to realize - our search isn't for family, exactly, but for connection, connections that will keep us, so we won't drown, won't fly off, something that will connect us underneath." - Connected Underneath

Celeste is desperate for a connection to the outside world, and those she sees are either seeking connections in their own lives or grasping at connections that are about to slip away.

Legters' writing in Connected Underneath is so thoughtful, and the storyline weaved seamlessly in and out through the different characters. It is a quick read that will leave you thinking!

You can connect with the author on her website. Connected Underneath is available here at Amazon and here at Chapters.


Disclaimer – I received a copy of Connected Underneath 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 Connected Underneath, here is the full book tour. Enjoy!

Friday, 3 June 2016

He Will Be My Ruin - Book Review

"My wrists burn.

Hours of trying to break free of the rope that binds my hands behind my back have left them raw, the rough cord scrubbing away my skin and cutting into my flesh. I'm sure I'll have unsightly scars.

Not that it will matter when I'm dead."

Death. Sex. Money. Power. That is how I would describe the major themes in K.A. Tucker's new book, He Will Be My Ruin.

Celine Gonzalez's death is labelled suicide. When her friend, Maggie, arrives to clean out her apartment and take care of her estate, a few things strike her as strange. Celine's cell phone is missing, there's cash hidden in secret boxes, and Maggie also discovers diaries that hold secrets no one could imagine. Maggie becomes more and more convinced that suicide just doesn't make sense.

But if it wasn't suicide what happened? Who was involved? Was it Grady, the dark haired superindentant with a sexy English accent? Jace Everett, the wealthy hedge fund manager with whom Celine may have been having an affair? Or someone else? Or was Celine just so overwhelmed with everything going on in her life that it was suicide?

Lisa Gardner, author of Alone, called this book "A smart, sexy thriller", and l completely agree. I devoured this book over the long weekend in May. The characters were all unique and interesting, and plot seriously kept me guessing until the very end.

The book is written primarily from Maggie's perspective, with a few of Celine's diary entries in between which is very effective because sometimes Celine tells the reader bits of information that Maggie doesn't yet know, adding to the suspense.

He Will Be My Ruin is perfect for readers who loved Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Girl on the Train. If you're in the mood for a good thriller, I highly recommend this book!

As an added bonus, I simply love finding new Canadian authors to read and support. This was my first K. A. Tucker book, and it won't be my last. Connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can purchase He Will Be My Ruin here from Amazon and here from Chapters.


PS - For more of a teaser of what you can find in He Will Be My Ruin, watch the book trailer below.

Disclaimer – I received a copy of He Will Be My Ruin from 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 He Will Be My Ruin, here is the full book tour. Enjoy!

Monday, 30 May 2016

Cozy Reader Club Box Review - May 2016

Outdoor reading weather has arrived, so when my Cozy Reader Club box arrived I took it outside and unboxed it on our back deck.

Cozy Reader Club is a monthly subscription box aimed at providing women with everything they need to relax when they are able to steal away a few moments to themselves. Each box will include a newly released hardcover book, a gourmet beverage, handcrafted treats, and handmade items from local vendors.

The cost is $64.95/month (+ shipping for international orders). You can used the code READCOZY to get $5 off your first box.

Here's what was in the May box.

Book - Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld ($28) - A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice! "This version of the Bennet family - and Mr. Darcy - is one that you have and haven't met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help - and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray." This sounds like such a great summer read. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Stoneware Travel Mug from the Etsy Shop Sarah Welch Pottery ($34). This travel mug includes a silicone lid and sleeve and holds 24oz.

Herkimer Coffee ($9) 8oz of whole bean coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, but this is always good to have on hand. Or I know lots of people at work that would enjoy it!

Cocomels in Sea Salt ($4.99) Caramel and sea salt? Be still my heart. This combination is my all time favourite, so these caramels won't last long in our house. Plus they are made with coconut milk, so they are dairy free.

Mug Cozy from the Etsy shop YarnLovin ($10.95) This is pretty adorable and quite appropriate with a heart mug appliqué on it!

I'm pleased with the contents of this month's Cozy Reader Club. I love finding out about new vendors and Etsy stores. Also, the fact that a hardcover book is included adds an extra touch of receiving something special. The value for all of the items included is nearly $87, so that's pretty good for the cost of the box. This is a pricier box compared to other book subscription boxes, so it's not for everyone, but I really think that this box is like two boxes in one. You get a fantastic book, plus a number of other lifestyle items.

Visit the Cozy Reader Club website to order one, and remember to use the code READCOZY for $5 off.


Disclaimer - Cozy Reader Club was kind enough to send me a box for review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Rebel Sisters - Book Review + Giveaway

My favourite genre of books is historical fiction, and Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna is exactly the reason why. While it is a novel, Rebel Sisters tells the very true and real story of the Gifford family, specifically three of the Gifford sisters: Muriel, Grace, and Nellie. Set in Ireland between 1901 and 1916, we follow the sisters as they come of age, each in their own, unique way.

During this time, there were four major conflicts happening simultaneously. Ireland was dealing with women’s suffrage, the industrial movement, the nationalist movement, and World War One. Muriel, Grace, and Nellie all became involved in these conflicts themselves and through the men with whom they fell in love. 

I learned so much about Ireland’s history and especially their fight for independence while reading this book. The Giffords are a real family, and their tragic stories are still recounted in Ireland today. Rebel Sisters offers insight into the private lives of some of the key leaders of the rebellion. 2016 is especially significant as the year of publication for this book because it marks the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rising

I was a little unsure why the author was spending so much time early on giving a detailed history of each of the three sisters, but as I started googling more about Irish independence while I was reading, I learned that these women actually existed. I do wish she had captured the intensity and excitement of the time period a little better, but overall the fact that these events, and places, and people were real, had me so invested in learning their stories. 

Rebel Sisters is also a great book for fans of Downton Abbey. There are elements from the love story of Sybil and Branson here, and we learn about the ideologies for which Branson is always so passionate.

If you're interested in learning more about Ireland and its history, absolutely pick up this book.

Thanks to Marita Conlon-McKenna, TLC Book Tours, and Transworld Publishers, I have a copy of Rebel Sisters to giveaway. It's open worldwide, so woot woot! See the Rafflecopter widget below.


Disclaimer – I received a copy of Rebel Sisters from 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 Rebel Sisters, here is the full book tourEnjoy!

Monday, 23 May 2016

We Brought Him Home

We brought him home.

I remember walking out of the hospital. My husband lifted our son into the car. I remember the short drive home. We opened the car door, gingerly lifting his car seat out. I remember we shut the door and then walked towards our house. The storm door opened and then the wooden door after that. We walked inside and slowly placed the carseat with our son still in it on the floor beside the couch.

We brought him home.

I remember the sun shining brightly in through our bay windows. It was spring. The perfect time for new babies.

I remember his newborn smell. That subtle, yet intoxicating and delicious smell that new babies carry with them. I remember our cat coming to investigate. She could smell it too.

I remember the smell of the hospital was gone. That smell of sick and medicine. I had been nesting for weeks and our house felt so clean and fresh.

Everyone was quiet.

We brought him home.

I remember holding him. The weight of him felt so wonderful. He fit perfectly in my arms. I remember thinking that this small little baby was about to add so much life to our home.

I remember the feeling of his terrycloth sleeper. It was yellow and had little animals on it. He was quiet and sleeping. I remember taking him upstairs and bringing him to his room for the very first time. I remember placing him on his diaper pad. The sound of the buckle that snapped him in place because we were still very cautious as new parents. It was probably the only time we ever used that buckle.

We stared at him. Silently hoping and praying that he'd be happy here with us.

We brought him home.

I remember his skin was so smooth. His newborn hair was so soft. Everything smelled light and clean.  Everything was still. It was a happy stillness. A beautiful calm.

I remember he nursed easily, and I thought so far we were doing okay.

I remember it felt like we were moving in slow motion. Everyone else in the world, everyone else outside our home, was going about their lives. We were taking everything slowly. Every step was careful. Each one calculated. We had no idea what we were doing, and we wanted to get it right.

We brought him home.

I remember sitting gently on our couch, still store from the delivery. I remember hearing the click of the kettle as my mom boiled water for us and made us tea. Just a little bit sweet with some milk. Tea always settles my nerves. Even if they are happy nerves.

We brought him home.

And I remember knowing things would never be the same.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Getting Organized with StickerKid

The organizational side of parenting is not small. Babies tear through their clothing sizes at lightening speed, and toddlers are forever dropping their toys and snack containers wherever they happen to roam. We're in the daycare stage, so we also label every piece of clothing that our son wears, lest it get forgotten or dropped somewhere.

Enter StickerKid. StickerKid is a children's label company that makes adorable labels for kids' clothing, toys, shoes, waterbottles, or any other belongings that come along with having little ones.

StickerKid labels are water resistant, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, fridge/freezer friendly, and washer/dryer safe. They will also hold up to sun and sand. These labels are built to last.

I like using the large circle ones for boots and shoes.

And the iron-on labels were easy to use and are very soft.

There are so many cute designs, fonts, and colours to choose from when creating your labels, and I feel like their prices are comparable to other companies that offer similar products. There are even a variety of stickers for allergy awareness that I imagine could be quite useful for any child with a food allergy.

Sebastian got pretty excited when he saw all the stickers with his name on them, so he decided that he needed to label his most prized possessions, his I Spy books.

So, check out StickerKid if you are looking for help getting organized and keeping track of your children's stuff. Seb is heading to JK in the fall, so we're getting our Monica Geller on and labelling everything to keep it from getting lost!


Disclaimer - I was sent some labels from StickerKid for review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 16 May 2016

My Favourite Maternity Photos

One of my favourite things I did while I was pregnant was take a pregnancy photo shoot. I love these pictures because they remind me that while my body is currently not (and probably never will be) the same as it was pre-baby, the result is so worth it.

I was our baby's home.

I was his safe place.

There is just no other way to get a little baby here other than growing him inside ourselves. These are more than just baby bump pictures. They are images of strength and love.


All photos via Life Photography.