Saturday, 28 March 2020

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Has your reading life changed in the past few weeks? Mine hasn't shifted too much yet, but I am looking for books that are a complete distraction from my real life. I recently picked up The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton. I haven't read a thriller in awhile, and this book did a good job at keeping me from checking the news every 15 minutes!

Here's the premise: Juliette and Nate had a short, but intense relationship that ended about seven months ago. Nate wanted space. Juliette, determined to eventually win Nate back, plays by his rules. She stays away. However, Juliette has a plan. During this time she is remaking herself. She loves Nate, will do whatever it takes to prove to him that they are meant to be, and will not let anyone stand in her way.

Told from Juliette's perspective, The Perfect Girlfriend is eerie to read. Juliette is a compelling protagonist, and the twists in this book were engaging, and I could not have predicted the chilling ending and resolution.

As an aside, Juliette is a flight attendant and Nate is a pilot, and I found it really interesting to learn the inner workings of flight crew.

If The Perfect Girlfriend is sitting on your unread shelf or if you can get an e-copy from your local library, definitely pick it up soon!


Disclaimer - Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending me a complementary copy of The Perfect Girlfriend to review.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

27 Tweets To Make You Smile While We Weather The Coronavirus Storm

Covid-19 is all kinds of awful and has changed our entire world. The silver lining, should we be open to seeing one, is that there has been some Twitter gold during this crazy time. We are united in a battle protecting the health of every person on this planet, and heaven knows we could all use an extra smile these days.  Enjoy ๐Ÿ’—

1. These are exclusively the type of tweets I want to see in my feed.

2. #truth

3. It sounds so fancy when you put it that way!

4. The connections we maintain with others will help get us through.

5. There is goodness in this world and it sounds a lot like Celine Dion.

6. We can do hard things while we are #alonetogether

7. Don't forget :)

8. It was a different time....

9. It's a mystery.

10. The teacher in me laughed so hard at this.

11. Le Coach by Soprano is my students' favourite song. I love his remix to protect against coronavirus.

12. For all of the educators. We got this.

13. Also, no pressure but...

14. Though seriously, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. It's okay to simply survive the day.

15. Yes :) Let's try this!

16. The Office makes for perfect binge-watching during self-isolation.

17. Same.

18. #sorrynotsorry

19. Too bad they can't answer us back.

20. Sorry to my cat....

21. Dogs are always so joyful!

22. I feel attacked.

23. These all sound like the perfect escape right now.

24. Can someone please write this book?

25. The whole world just feels so weird right now.

26. A wise reminder.

27. I live for this day.


PS - If you need ideas to do with your little at home these days, check out my post about how to keep everyone entertained while school is closed.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Ideas to Keep Everyone Entertained at Home During COVID-19

My March Break began by taking a school group for 10 days to Belgium, France, and England, and it has ended with my whole family in self-isolation for two weeks. And we can expect to still be social distancing after that.

You won't find any colour-coded schedules here, but we need some semblance of organization during this chaotic time.

Here's what I've come up with to help our family navigate our new home life for the next little while.

* Rob did quite a bit of grocery shopping before I got home. He stocked our fridge and freezer, filled the car with gas, and ensured we had a good amount of cash on hand.

* We change out of our pjs, open the curtains, and do our regular morning routine each day. We're not hunkering down for a month of Sundays here. We need to get up and get moving as much as we can.

* We move our body. We're self-isolating right now, so we can't even really go for a walk or head to the park.
Here are some great videos online:

* Tackle that thing you need to do. I'm going to sort and organize our digital photos and video clips from 2019. I give myself 30 mins/day to work on this task. I did all of our previous years last summer, so I have a system in place already. Here's the post about how I got it all done! We also need to do our taxes....le sigh.

I'd like to add that it is 100% okay if you don't tackle the thing you need to do. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and no one needs the pressure to write the next epic novel.

* Keep Sebastian busy. It's inevitable that we'll be getting more screen time than usual around here, but here is a list of the activities I'm hoping will also keep our 7-year-old occupied for the next month!

  • Lego - He's currently working on the Hogwarts Castle
  • Puzzles - I recently purchased this Super Mario one.
  • Snap Circuits - Snap Circuits are a huge hit in our house and are good for hours of fun. We also have the Arcade version.
  • Crafts - Sebastian loves bead design kits that you iron, he has a wooden boat kit to build, and we just bought this Disgusting Science kit.
  • Baking - I've been trying to do this a little more myself lately, so we'll try out some new recipes this month. Weelicious is my to do website.
  • Activity books - Seb loves Sticker Mosaics, Extreme Dot to Dots, or anything with math activities.
  • Board games - Some of our favourite board games we've found at Value Village to save $. We found a few old school Harry Potter trivia and Harry Potter Clue games that we play regularly. We also love UNO, Jenga, and Ticket to Ride. Robot Turtles is an excellent board game that teaches young children coding principles.
  • Family Read Aloud - We are currently reading the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Next on our list is Dog Diaries by James Patterson.
  • Silent Reading - 20 minutes a day. Our 7-year-old loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Captain Underpants, and Dogman.
  • Facetime his friends (and grandparents). I know he misses his buddies, and they always have a hilariously fun time when they can Facetime each other.
  • Family Movie Nights
  • Video Games - Sebastian has a Nintendo Switch, and he has a certain amount of time he's allowed to play each day.
  • Virtual Visits to our favourite attractions - Ripley's Aquarium has live events daily, take a virtual ride at Canada's Wonderland.

A few other fun things to try

- Live music online! Many musicians are going live with mini concerts on Facebook and Instagram. Two of my favourites are from Alan Doyle (daily at 5pm EST) and Sean McCann (daily at noon EST).

- What's your little's Hogwarts house? We did the test for Rob and Sebastian, and they are both Ravenclaws!

- Order in your meal. Uber Eats is offering free delivery for local restaurants who have or are arranging take out options. This is a great way to support your local community while at home.

- Josh Gad (aka Olaf) is reading storybooks on Twitter and Instagram each night. A perfect 10 minute distraction for your children at bedtime, or you can catch them later the next day.


- Online learning. Many educational websites are offering free access to their content while schools are closed.

A few I love are:
  • Scholastic (20 days of mini lessons and activities for kids divided by grade level)
  • Brain Pop (Excellent, short, animated videos on a variety of topics. We use them at school all the time!)
  • Kahoot (My students' fav.)
  • Get Epic (35 000 free digital books for children)
  • Duolingo (for language learning - it's always free)
  • Mo Willems is hosting free art tutorials at 1pm everyday. How fun?!

Finally, let's try to enjoy the slower pace. Read a book. Do a face mask. Paint your nails. Nap if you can (maybe that's just my jet lag speaking). Whatever treat you give yourself when you have extra time, do that thing.

Rob and I are both expected to work remotely, and Sebastian's school will start online learning next week, so adding that to the mix will be a new bridge to cross and a new routine to find. It won't be perfect, and we're bound to get irritable, but we'll take it day by day.

I hope you are all able to get what you need during this uncertain season. Resting is important to keep your body healthy and everyone sane. Remember that we will not be able to achieve our normal productivity because we are not living in a normal world with our normal resources. So, I also hope you can show yourself grace. When you don't make the same meals you used to, or when your littles get more screen time than ever before, give yourself grace. You're doing the best you can.

You have made it through hard days before, and you will make it through this.

We all will.


PS - I also put together 27 Tweets that made me smile during the COVID-19 world.

Monday, 2 March 2020

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

True readers know that sometimes you pick a book up at exactly the right moment for your reading life. This is how I felt when I started The Upside of Falling by Alex Light. I had recently read a few rather strange novels, and I have been far too caught up in global current events. I needed a distraction. Something to warm my heart, occupy my head, and whisk me away.

Enter The Upside of Falling.

The Upside of Falling is told in dual perspectives between Becca and Brett. An awkward moment in English class leads to an agreement between Becca and Brett to create a fake relationship between them. They weren't friends beforehand, but they realize that a fake relationship is mutually beneficial. Brett gets his Dad off his back for not having a girlfriend and Becca saves face in front of classmates who are convinced she doesn't understand true love.

Becca and Brett realize they have more in common than they might have initially thought, and that, while their relationship as school may be fake, their growing connection is 100% real.

I thought The Upside of Falling was completely adorable. The high school fake romance trope was exactly what I needed to read this weekend. Brett and Becca are endlessly likeable, and their chemistry is so super sweet. I especially loved that this book showed a popular teen boy having real emotions and real tears as he worked through challenges in his life. Becca is a bookworm which makes her easy to connect with, and underneath the story of Becca and Brett is a love letter to escapist literature and the power of stories to help us when we need them.

The Upside of Falling is out now and available from your favourite bookseller.


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