Monday, 31 December 2018

The Gown by Jennifer Robson - Book Review

Jennifer Robson is one of my favourite authors. Not only is she simply a kind human, she also writes novels with which I always fall in love.

Her newest release, The Gown, moves between post-WWII England and present-day Toronto. After her grandmother passes away, Heather discovers a set of hand-stitched flowers that look strikingly like those on Queen Elizabeth II's wedding dress. She takes an opportunity to fly to England and discover a secret history her grandmother had hidden from their family.

Woven through Heather's journey, the reader learns about her grandmother, Ann Hughes, and Ann's close friend Miriam Dassin, a French émigrée who escaped the Nazis and came to find work in London after the war. These two women forge a deep friendship as they work on embroidering the royal wedding gown.

Though I have loved Jennifer Robson's previous books, The Gown is refreshingly different because the central storyline does not focus on a romance. And while, The Gown will absolutely appeal to those interested in the royal wedding, this is not a story about the royal family. This is, instead, a story about the women behind the scenes.

As the royal family sought to bring light to a country still emerging from the darkness of war, what was life like for the women working tirelessly behind them? This is a book about their friendships, their hardships, and their hope for the future during a time when hope was likely hard to find.

Ann, Miriam, and Heather are all characters who will warm your heart, and if you've read Goodnight From London, there are a few familiar faces you will meet again! And for the romance lovers, don't worry, there is still a touch of romance in this novel. 💗

There is so much truth and history in The Gown that I was regularly Googling post-war designers and dresses. I personally love it when books make me feel like looking things up. I love historical fiction for that very reason. I always believe that reading is a gateway to learning and to empathy for other people and other places. To that end, The Gown marries fiction and reality beautifully.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of The Gown from Harper Collins Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Quiet by Susan Cain

At a teaching conference a few months ago, I was in the initial phases of formulating the questions and challenges I wanted to take on this year. I knew I wanted my focus to be somehow connected to oral communication.  As a second language teacher, I spend a good part of my day encouraging people to speak. To take risks. To make mistakes in front of their peers. For my students, I recognize that this is not easy and it is not for everyone. So, how do we do it anyways?

One of the other participants told me I'd probably be interested in reading Quiet by Susan Cain. This book describes what life is like for introverts and how we can harness the power of those who aren't often the loudest speakers in the room.

I consider myself a velocireader, so I'm always happy to take on new book recommendations. I immediately borrowed a copy from a co-worker and started reading.

Quiet really has me asking myself what speaking fluidly means and has shifted my perspective. Speaking slowly doesn't mean that a student is not speaking fluidly. Additionally, the medium is not always the message. If the message is thoughtful, there is room in second-language education to acknowledge this, even if it is "easier" to evaluate errors that are right and wrong. And my students who are fluent and don't speak extensively in class are still fluent. As I enter report card season, this is something I am keeping in my mind much more than I ever have before.

Another interesting point is that the rise of social media and the Internet has given introverts a "voice", especially with writing. My question is, "How can I transfer this to oral communication?" Flipgrid is a start.

Being mindful of seating was something else that I had never thought of before. Don't seat quiet students in "high-traffic or high-interaction" areas. It will increase anxiety, decrease concentration, and they won't actually speak more.

And finally, never underestimate the power of empathy. I'd like to find more opportunities to check in with my introverted students before presentations. To encourage them. To tell them that I also get nervous, but it does get easier with time. I loved reading how we should teach our students the importance of rehearsal and practice. This is a concept I've been hammering home with my students more recently, and it's validating to read that I'm on the right track with this one.

I'd definitely say that Quiet is a must-read for second-language teachers. It certainly gave me quite a bit to think about!


Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Ten Of My Favourite Books From 2018

"Top Ten" lists are hard. Best means something different to everyone. I read nearly 100 books this year. Some were published in 2018, some not. I don't read a lot of contemporary YA, and I steer clear of horror and anything about American politics. I love historical fiction, romance, and inspiring essays. If you think you're reading tastes align with mine, here, in no particular order, are ten excellent books I read this year!

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - I can't adequately describe how fantastic this book is. It will make you laugh and cry and you will not be disappointed you picked it up.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang - A gender-swapped Pretty Woman that will make you swoon! Read my review here.

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah - I picked this one up as part of #theunreadshelfproject2018, and I'm so glad I did. The story of the two sisters in this novel is not one I will soon forget.

Down Shift by K. Bromberg - I think this is the best romance I read this year! K. Bromberg's books are always steamy and a ton of fun.

The Bird and The Sword by Amy Harmon - I'm cheating because this is a duology and I loved them both. Fantasy mixed with romance. I think I may have even enjoyed the second book (The Queen and the Cure) more than the first!

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle - The essays in this book are so honest and relatable. It's hard not to love them.

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - This is the prequel to Anne of Green Gables you didn't know you wanted but will be so glad you read. Here's my review.

Bibliophile by Jane Mount - I love books about books, and the art inside Bibliophile is exceptional, plus it will add about 100 books to your TBR!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (illustrated edition) by J. K. Rowling - Sebastian and I read this aloud together, and I love how much he loves it!

The Gown by Jennifer Robson - Set in post-war England as embroiderers prepare for Princess Elizabeth's wedding, this is a story about friendship, family, and determination.

You can see what I loved in 2017 here.


Monday, 17 December 2018

5 Wonderful Authors I Discovered in 2018

I read a lot of authors for the first time this year. #theunreadshelfproject2018 really had me pulling out books from my shelves that have been there for a long while. Plus, working with publishers also introduces me to many new authors.

This year, five of my favourite new-to-me authors all live in the romance genre, so if you love love as much as I do, you will not be disappointed by these writers.

Jasmine Guillory
Author of The Wedding Date and The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory writes diverse characters who get happy endings. The Wedding Date is especially adorable!

Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient is one of my top books of the year. I cannot wait to see what Helen Hoang writes next!

Amy Harmon
Amy Harmon's The Bird and the Sword duology had been sitting on my bookshelf unread since last Christmas, at least. I read them both over the summer and really loved them. The fantasy-romance gave me great Sarah J Maas vibes. She has a good number of other books out that I hope to read next year!

Lynda Aicher
Lynda Aicher writes steamy contemporary romance. I particularly loved After Hours which is the first in her series, The Boardroom.

Stefanie London
I found a few of her books in my local free little library, so imagine my delight when I actually bumped into her in person at a Valentine's Day trivia night months later! You can read my interview with Stefanie here. So far, I've read Mr. Dangerously Sexy, and Unmasked is on my TBR as is a French version of Hard Deal called Irrésistible Proposition.

You can see my 5 "new" authors from 2017 here.

Did you discover anyone great this year? Tell me who!


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

New Erotica For Feminists - Book Review

I am so excited about this one! I discovered New Erotica For Feminists on Instagram recently, and I immediately reached out to Penguin Random House Canada to see if they would send me a review copy of this excellent book. 

If you love romance, comedy, and feminism, this is 100% the perfect book for you. New Erotica For Feminists is a collection of short "erotic" stories where all women get their happy ending - equality.

To give you a flavour, here are a few of my favourites:

When I read this one out loud to my husband his reaction was, "That sounds like the perfect date, actually."

I also especially loved the rewrites to the stories of Adam and Eve and Romeo and Juliet. New Erotica For Feminists is a small, little book, but it packs a big punch and sends an important message: civil rights are sexy.

I hope you pick this one up when you see it out and about. It would make the perfect stocking stuffer!


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 19 November 2018

GMorning, GNight by Lin-Manuel Miranda - Book Review

While I haven't yet been able to see a Hamilton production (gasp!), I still have so much love for Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter. Social media can be a catalyst for emotions of negativity and not enough-ness. Thankfully, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Twitter account is a bight light in what sometimes feels like dark noise.

Awhile ago, he started beginning and ending his day on Twitter with little pep talks. Phrased for us, but written also for himself, these short bursts of encouragement will fill your cup as you take on, or recover from, whatever life brings you. (Side note - Lin-Manuel Miranda was an English teacher once upon a time, so to all of the educators in the house, I'm sure he feels us!)

Now you can get many of these inspiring tweets all in one place with GMorning, GNight! little pep talks for me & you. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and illustrated by Jonny Sun (who is Canadian! 👏👏), this little book is charming and heartwarming, and your heart will be so happy you've picked it up.

No matter how you spend your day, whether it's in an office, or home with your little ones, or in a classroom, GMorning, GNight will be a meaningful and calming addition to your morning and evening routines. I know it has felt that way to me.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory - Book Review

This spring, I gushed over The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. It is such a fresh and fun romance, and I immediately fell in love with the characters. Carlos is one of those characters. We meet him in a "best friend" role in The Wedding Date, and he now has his own story in The Proposal.

In The Proposal, the action of the story begins right in the first scene. Nikole is on the receiving end of a very surprising, very public, and very unwanted marriage proposal. Fortunately, Carlos is nearby to help her save face, and also turns out to be the perfect rebound!

Those who are familiar with The Wedding Date will experience Jasmine Guillory's same bubbly writing in The Proposal. I loved the genuine build up between Carlos and Nikole; however, my favourite thing about Jasmine Guillory's books is the diversity. Her novels feature characters who are black, latino, asian, LGBTQ etc. She writes representation well, and that alone is an excellent reason to try out her novels.

The Proposal wasn't the best romance I've read this year (the conflict/miscommunication used in the always-temporary-breakup-scene was pretty cheesy, even for me), but it was funny, uplifting, silly, and sweet which is really all I need my romances to be. The Proposal is available now wherever books are sold; however, I'd say it's one to pick up at the library if you can :)


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of The Proposal from Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Bibliophile by Jane Mount

Bibliophile by Jane Mount may just very well be the most beautiful book on my bookshelves.

If you're not familiar with Jane Mount, she is the creator of the Ideal Bookshelf. She paints extraordinary bookstacks and book covers that allow us to admire our beloved books in a new ways and challenge us to try out titles that we may not have otherwise noticed. I ordered the Paris Ideal Bookshelf for myself this week. She even makes custom bookshelf prints, so you can have your own personalized ideal bookshelf!

Bibliophile - An Illustrated Miscellany is Jane Mount's latest book, and it is such a gem. This beautifully illustrated book is full of bookish trivia, quizzes, and people, along with the most interesting bookstores and libraries from around the world. Throughout the book you will also find her signature bookshelves with some of the most popular and compelling titles for every genre imaginable. Every single page in Bibliophile is overflowing with colourful literary information and images.


I love that this book is judgement-free about what people enjoy reading, and I've been savouring Bibliophile, working my way through it slowly. Bibliophile is a fountain of joyful bookish information, literary facts, and recommendations. Any book lover will be truly enchanted by this wonderful collection.

But be warned - reading this book will cause both your TBR and your bucket list to multiply tenfold. If you're okay with that, I'm giving away a copy on Instagram this week. Enter over here.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of Bibliophile courtesy of Raincoast Books. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - Book Review

There is a chapter in Anne of Green Gables where Anne Shirley and Marilla Cuthbert are chatting about Gilbert Blythe and his father, John.

"What a nice-looking-fellow he is," said Marilla absently. "I saw him in church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He looks a lot like his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau."
Anne looked up with swift interest.
"Oh, Marilla -- and what happened?"
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery

Marilla of Green Gables is Sarah McCoy's answer to that question. What did happen with Marilla and John? What was Marilla like as a young girl? What was Matthew like as a young man? How was the stage set for Anne to be such a perfect fit into their family?

Prequels are interesting. It's a little strange to read a book when you, essentially, already know the ending. I know Marilla and John Blythe do not have a happily ever after together at the end of this book, yet, I cheered for them anyways.

Despite my wishful and romantic thinking, Sarah McCoy takes us on another journey with Marilla Cuthbert. Yes, we learn the answer to Anne's question above, but we also learn that Marilla had many other gifts to share during a time of significant political unrest and that her strength of charachter helped others in profound ways during her time before Anne.

It was so lovely to be back in the world of Avonlea. Marilla of Green Gables has the carefreeness of the Anne stories we all know and love along with the emotional weight of them. I did not expect that this book would make me cry actual, real tears, but that's exactly what happened. Twice. Sarah McCoy does a wonderful job of capturing the voices of our beloved characters without endeavouring to copy L.M. Montgomery's writing style.

If you love Anne of Green Gables, your heart will be so happy you picked up this book. It is the story you didn't know you were waiting for, but will be so delighted you found.

Marilla of Green Gables is out October 23rd, 2018. Look for it wherever books are sold!


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of Marilla of Green Gables for review purposes courtesy of Harper Collins Canada and William Morrow. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 24 September 2018

The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Pregnancy Without Losing Your Mind

Last fall, I was published in the anthology The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Life With Boys (edited by Tiffany and Lyndee from the blog #LifeWithBoys.) I wrote a funny story about the time my son asked me what a vagina looks like. When Tiffany and Lyndee were seeking submissions for a pregnancy anthology, I knew I had a story to tell here as well, albeit on a very different note.

The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Pregnancy Without Losing Your Mind is not your typical pregnancy book. There are stories in here that do talk about crazy pregnancy symptoms and there are some pieces of advice; however, more importantly, this book purposefully highlights just how unique and different each pregnancy actually is. More often than not, if you get pregnant, there will be a "thing" you have to deal with. And your thing, may not be the same as your other pregnant friends.

In this book, you will read the stories of 35 mamas (and one papa) about their "things." The good, the bad, the ugly, the hilarious, the hard, and the ultimately joyful "things" we went through while bringing little babies into this world.

My story is one of the more serious ones. It's about what pregnancy can feel like after multiple miscarriages. I've written about my story in bits and pieces, but this is the first time I've put my whole journey in one place. I cried multiple times writing and editing this piece, and while I will always love the vagina story, this one is much closer to my heart.

The Unofficial Guide to Surviving Pregnancy Without Losing Your Mind will hopefully make readers laugh and smile and understand that while we each experience pregnancy in different ways, we are all in this together.

You can purchase a copy for yourself (or for any upcoming baby showers you need to attend!) on Amazon. It's available on and

Thank you always for your ongoing support, and I sincerely hope that whoever finds this book in their hands feels just how much all of the authors are cheering them on.


Monday, 17 September 2018

My Favourite Books With a 500+ Page Count

Even thought it's been a million degrees this September, so it doesn't feel like fall quite yet, one thing I love about autumn is curling up with books the size of beasts. I think I prefer big books over shorter books anytime of the year, but something about cooler temps makes holding a huge book feel even cozier.

I love getting completely lost in a story and going on a long journey with the characters. I want to be completely captivated in their world. I cheer them on and cry with them and never let them go. It's also why I probably love reading books in series so much as well.

Here are nine of my favourite books with a page count cresting 500 or more (and two others I have on my TBR!)

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - If there is one book from my required high school reading that I will always remember, it is this one. Owen Meany is one of my favourite literary characters of all time. He will make you laugh, and cry, and question what you believe about fate.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - The paths of a German boy and a blind French girl collide during WWII. This is a side of World War II historical fiction that is not often told, and I loved it so much. All the Light We Cannot See is a powerful novel about the innate goodness inside of people.

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - The Heart's Invisible Furies follows the life of Cyril Avery. I love the structure of this book; you meet Cyril during his outrageous birth story and again every seven years. Set in Ireland when homosexuality was still illegal, Cyril is often at the mercy of fortune and coincidence throughout his life. A compelling read and tale of Ireland from the 1940s to today.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - A young, poor girl is sold into a high-end geisha house in Japan. She transforms into one of the most popular geisha of her time and reveals a world of full illusion and power struggles. A fascinating read, and the movie is also very well done.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton - This is definitely my favourite Kate Morton novel. Two women, generations apart, try to solve the same haunting family mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a sweeping tale across two continents. I also love the special book of fairy tales which gives this novel a story within a story feeling.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - An untraditional love story with a romantic time travelling librarian. This novel is a testament to the power of never-ending love.

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman - A collection of Neil Gaiman's non-fiction work. While it was trickier for me to connect with some of his pieces on older science fiction works, I absolutely love his essays on libraries and reading life.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - If you follow me on Instagram, it's no secret that I love Sarah J. Maas. She is the author of two fantasy series, and I adore them both. Of all of the books I've read from her, A Court of Mist and Fury is my favourite. She is no stranger to BIG books and fantastic world-building. Her upcoming release, Kingdom of Ash, is clocking in with a page count of 992!!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I sincerely have never been able to answer the question, "What is your favourite Harry Potter book?" because I really find them all enjoyable. Though, one of my top picks is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire because I love the tournament in the book. Which Harry Potter novel is your favourite??

On my TBR:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - I feel like I am the last book blogger left who hasn't at least tried the Outlander series. I suspect I will love it and am determined to read it this winter!

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas - I don't know much about this one, but it came in a subscription box of mine earlier this year, and I love books about books!

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz - This is an Agatha Christie inspired crime novel I also received in a subscription box. There is a story written within this story, so that sounds interesting!

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielweski - My sister gifted this book to me last Christmas, and apparently it's a terrifying and strange story told in basically every format you can think of. Some of the pages are regular text, sometimes it's a play, sometimes it's footnotes, etc. I have no idea what to think of this one!

What are some of your favourite door-stopper books?

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting - Book Review

The Good Luck Charm is a new, delightfully fun romance from Helena Hunting.

Ethan broke up with Lilah, his best friend and high school sweetheart, just as his hockey career was taking off. Convinced it was the best for both of them, he ended things, and terribly at that. Eight years later, his hockey game is not what it used to be, and Ethan is traded back to his hometown. However; he's never forgotten Lilah and how amazing they were together. Ethan wants Lilah back in his life. But is it real? Or is it just to help his game? And once his game improves, is he just going to leave again?

Told in alternating points of view between Lilah and Ethan, The Good Luck Charm brings together first loves and second chances. Early on while reading this book I wrote a note to myself that said, "Ethan needs to grovel more." I did not want Lilah to give up on her dreams just because Ethan was back in town. Even Lilah worries about this because she at one point says, "I fear my heart remembers loving him more than it remembers how he broke it."

In the end, I really enjoyed how their story came together, and I devoured this book in less than two days. It is a quick, funny, sexy read that will leave you wishing you were Ethan's good luck charm 😉!

I love that the tagline on Helena Hunting's website is "stories to get in bed with" because that is exactly how I would describe this novel. This was my first book by Helena Hunting, and my first sports romance, but it certainly won't be my last.

The Good Luck Charm is out now and available wherever books are sold!


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of The Good Luck Charm courtesy of Hachette Book Group Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Building My Empire with Pipsticks+Workman

September means many things: cozy scarfs, pumpkin spice lattes, and, of course, new school supplies. My son begins Grade 1 next week, and we recently went shopping for his school supplies. He's still pretty little, but I think he had fun picking out the new markers and pencil crayons he's bringing to his class.

As a teacher, I also love fresh school supplies in the fall. Even if I always feel a bit nervous and frazzled about the upcoming school year, it's amazing how something small like a new notepad can make you feel like an organized rockstar! Thomas Allen & Son sent me a gorgeous set from the Pipsticks + Workman gift line, and the timing is perfect!

Pipsticks and Workman collaborated to create the funnest planners, notekeepers, and sticker books in three different themes:

1. "for the Daring...." This set is fun and bright, with energetic designs - perfect for the list-keeper.
2. "for the Dreamer..." This set is colourful and inspirational - perfect for the creative spirit.
3. "for the Driven...." This set features a more pastel colour theme and fun motivation - perfect for the goal-tracker.

When the Driven set arrived at my doorstep, I immediately felt that excited, butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling we all loved when we were back to school shopping.

The planners are designed encourage creativity, goal-setting, and fun! I still use a physical planner every year. The calendar app on my phone is perfect for checking my availability when I'm out and about, but I still find that there is a lot of power in keeping a physical planner. Not only for my family's scheduled "things" but also for making my to-do lists each day, and this planner definitely has enough space for that!

Here are a few of the characteristics in the BUILDING MY EMPIRE planner that I love most:

  • The horizontal spread - I personally prefer this to vertical ones.
  • The YAY circle each day is a place for you to give yourself a sticker if you meet your goal that day. I use it for exercise. 💪
  • The weekly quiz question - A throwback to those magazine quizzes we used to do!
  • The addtional mini weekly calendar at the bottom of each spread - This week I used it to plan out my social media posts, and I also think it is a great space for meal planning or a gratitude journal.
  • It begins now! - This planner runs from Aug 2018 - Dec 2019 so you can use it right away!
  • The monthly "CURRENTLY" page - I love this page! Each month you write down what you're currently watching, reading, planning, etc. I think these pages will be so fun to reread at the end of the year.
  • The stickers - 6 full pages of stickers are included that will take you through all of the different seasons and holidays.

While I will keep my planner at home, this GREAT THINGS INSIDE notekeeper is coming to work with me right away. I just posted on Instagram that I have a weakness for beautiful notepads and journals, and this one is no exception. It's a nice size (5 x 7), hardcover, and comes with two pages of stickers, so you can reward yourself when you finish something from your list 😍. What makes the Driven notekeeper unique is that the pages are all colourful grids which are perfect for list-making and goal-tracking. As you can see below, mine is already getting broken in with my massive back to work to-do list for the next reward stickers yet! lol

Last, but certainly not least, is the THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT sticker book. I used to collect stickers in albums when I was younger, and it's so exciting to have another whole book of stickers just for me (and not my six-year-old!) The sticker book comes with 20 pages of stickers and a handful of postcards. I use cards like these whenever I see a co-worker could use a little note, just to brighten their day :)

The whole Pipsticks+Workman line allows you to be organized like a grown-up, but tap into your creative energy and feel like a kid again at the same time. Adulting is hard enough; we absolutely deserve to have some fun while we do it! And if you'd like to get ideas and see how others are using their planners, you can do a quick #pipsticksplanners search on Instagram!

To check out the whole Pipsticks+Workman gift line of planners, notekeepers, and stickerbooks, and peek inside each, you can visit their website.

Each item is sold separately from Amazon (and shipping is free!)

For the Driven


For the Dreamer


For the Daring



Disclaimer - I was sent these items courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Passionflix - Netflix for Romance Novels

Passionflix is a film company/streaming service that is bringing your favourite romance novels to life on the big screen! Founded by Tosca Musk, Passionflix creates original movies based on best-selling romance novels. The movies are then available on their website to stream exactly as you would any Netflix movie or series.

So far, Passionflix has filmed four movies, one "quickie", and one series. I've seen three of the movies and the quickie and loved them all. They are so much fun to watch on your own and especially fun to watch with your girlfriends.

I'd also say that the movies are totally a blast to watch whether you've read the book or not. I had read Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre, so it was exciting to see that book come to to life on my screen; however, I hadn't read Afterburn/Aftershock by Silvia Day or The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken, and my girlfriends and I had so much fun watching these movies together anyways.

Passionflix just released their first original series for the book Driven by K. Bromberg. I have read this steamy novel, and I am super excited about seeing Colton and Rylee's story unfold. Here's the trailer!

In addition to their original content, Passionflix offers a curated library of romance-themed films. While all of the original Passionflix content is available to viewers worldwide, unfortunately, this library is only available to viewers in the US.

The cost is $5.99 US/month.

Since I live in Canada and only have access to the original content, here is what I do to make it worthwhile. When I know I want to watch one of the Passionflix movies, I sign up and pay $5.99. Then, the next day, I cancel/pause my account. It's super easy to do on their website. I still have access for 30 days to watch my movie(s). Then, when a new movie is available I want to watch, I activate my account again. Again, this is easy to do online. I figure paying $6 for a movie is really reasonable. It's like a throwback to renting movies! Anyways, this is how I make it work for me, so I can still see their great movies but don't commit to paying each month when there is nothing new for me to watch.

Passionflix also just announced that it is now available on AppleTV which will make watching it on my tv beaucoup easier than hooking up my laptop.

To explore their current content, see what books to movies are coming soon, and watch trailers for free, visit the Passionflix website. I hope something fun catches your eye!


PS - This is not a sponsored post. I just love Passionflix and hope you will too!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

An Interview with Romance Author Stefanie London

Here's a book blogging secret. Free books from publishers are great, but my favourite part of blogging is meeting authors. Each and every time I chat with one, I feel like I'm talking to a celebrity.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Stefanie London at a romance-themed trivia night hosted by Harlequin, and we recently met up again for coffee. It was so much fun chatting about books with her, and I can't wait to read more of her novels.

Stefanie and I talked about her current projects, the influence of the #metoo movement on romance novels, and more. I hope you enjoy our interview!

1. You're currently working on your Bad Bachelor series. Can you tell us about this trilogy and the inspiration behind it?

Bad Bachelors is a sexy contemporary romance series about an app that allows the women of New York to rate their dates. Think of it as Yelp (or Goodreads!) for men. Obviously this kind of idea causes a world of trouble, and each book focuses on a hero who's caught up in the drama caused by the app. The three heroines are also best friends. The series is funny and sexy, but it also takes a look at the effects of social media and how we treat one another online. I wanted to create a series where I could explore the affects of technology, not only on modern dating but also on how we behave as a society. It's a subject I find endlessly fascinating, and since technology and apps (like Tinder, Bumble etc) are such a huge part of dating, I thought it would be fun to incorporate that element into this series.

2. How do you select the names of your characters?

Baby name websites! Which means Facebook thinks I'm pregnant and it continues to show me ads for baby things. I have a very "intuitive" way of picking names, in that I read through lists and when one jumps out at me I know that's it.

3. One of my favourite "literary" places to visit is the real Inn Boonsboro that was the inspiration for Nora Roberts' Inn Boonsboro trilogy. Do you have a favourite "literary" travel destination?

I love reading about fantasy or made-up worlds. There's something about fictional kingdoms and historically-inspired worlds that always captures my attention. I love details that writers provide and the way they create something from nothing. They might not always be the kind of place where I'd want to live, but I do enjoy falling into a good book to "visit" a new and exciting fictional world. One that springs to mind is the Kingdom of Ravka from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo which is inspired by Tsarist Russia from the 1800s.

4. How has the #Metoo movement changed romance writing?

For me, the main change is that the things I did intuitively before are now done with much more mindfulness and consideration. My books have always featured two people engaging in consensual sex as part of a loving relationship, even if it starts out as something purely physical. When I write now, however, I consciously include enthusiastic consent as part of my sex scenes. I also think a lot more about the power dynamic between the hero and the heroine, especially if I'm writing a workplace romance which is a trope I continue to love, though I now approach it differently. It's important for me to show the heroines in my novels making an active, informed decision to have sex with the hero and expressing their consent throughout the course of the scene, not just at the beginning. And consent is sexy! It doesn't take away from the heat or the strength of the hero to have the characters checking in with one another.

I'm noticing that readers are focusing on this element of romance novels more, as are publishers. This is a great development, and I hope we continue to see writers representing healthy sexual relationships and healthy attitudes toward sex in their novels.

5. For someone who is new to your books, where should they start?

I actually have a page dedicated to this exact question on my website right here! The Bad Bachelor series is something very close to my heart and it definitely represents what I love to read and write (i.e. funny and sexy stories with a hint of the real-world peeking through.) If you're looking for a purely escapist read that will be sure to have you giggling, try my romantic comedy Trouble Next Door. If you prefer your reads with a little more steam, Unmasked is a book I adore with all my heart.

6. What have you been reading lately? Any favourites you can share?

I just finished Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning, which is an urban fantasy set in Dublin with lots of fae lore and dark magic. So much fun! I'm looking forward to working my way through this series. I also LOVE a good zombie book, and FEED by Mira Grant hit the spot when I read it earlier this year.

In terms of some romance recommendations, my top picks so far for 2018 include two Harlequin Presents books: Son of Scandal by Dani Collins and The Virgin's Shock Baby by Heidi Rice. They have everything I love about the Presents line (high glamour and old-school romance tropes.) I also loved Forbidden Pleasure by Taryn Leigh Taylor (I was lucky enough to read an advance copy) which is out next month with Harlequin's sexy Dare line.

Thanks so much, Stefanie!

For more from Stefanie London, be sure to check out her website and follow along with her on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, or join her Facebook reading group.