What I Read- March 2017

What I read in March 2017

 

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul– In this historical novel, one of the Romanov daughters of Russia fell in love with a soldier before the Russian Revolution. As the war intensified, these unlikely lovers struggle to stay together. This is a really touching book about the power of love, however I found many parts of it are soooo farfetched.
The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb (via Netgalley. Available June 6th) I have loved Wendy Webbs previous “Northern Gothic” novels and I was so excited that I was able to read the advance copy of Temperance Dare!
Eleanor becomes the new director of an artists retreat located in an old TB hospital and when her first group of writers arrive, suspicious things begin to happen. Slowly she realizes that all her guest have ties to the hospital and that something paranormal may have brought them all together. Such a good, tense and atmospheric read. If you like a good gothic story, I highly recommend this!
My (not so) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella- Katie wishes her life were as glamorous as the life she shares on Instagram. Her “perfect” job is ruined by her horrible boss Demeter, she lives in a hovel with weird roommates and dating isn’t really happening. When Demeter suddenly and cruel fires here, Katie returns home to her family to regroup and finds herself starting a new glamping business on their farm. But when Demeter arrives as a guest….. Sophie Kinsella is the queen of women’s fiction and this novel doesn’t disappoint. Katie is a hero you emp and laugh with. Loved this book.
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan  The intersecting stories of the women of the Chilbury village choir and how they navigate love, suspicion, grief and fear during WW2. Such a wonderful book- characters that were so well developed and real that you couldn’t help cheering for every single women.
Find Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt (via Netgalley. Available now) The second book in a frothy trilogy about three women living in the cottages of Willoughby Close.  Harriet moves into one of the little cottages after she discovers that not only is her husband having an affair, but he has also mortgaged away their home. Suddenly single and broke, Harriet sets about trying to create a new life with her children and figure out who she is on her own.
Have you read anything recently that I have to cozy up with???
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What I Read- February 2017

What I Read- February 2017

 

The Breakdown by B.A Paris (vis Netgalley. In stores June 20th 2017) – When Cass passed a a broken down car on a forested road in the middle of a driving rainstorm she never imagined that she might have prevented the murder of the driver. As the intense guild increases, she starts to question her own memories of that night and of every day since- she seems to be missing time.
Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry– After Nora finds her sister dead inside her rural country home, she cannot let it go. She is convinced that it has something to do with the vicious assault that her sister suffered years earlier.
The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell– In Toulouse, Louisiana folks get married young. Four friends negotiate young love and heartache.
Flapper by Joshua Zeitz– An historical account of the rise of the cultural and feminist revolution of the 1920’s that brought about the Flapper.
What did you read this month? I am always looking for new books!!!
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Review- Goop Clean Beauty

 

Goop Clean Beauty

I have been a subscriber of goop since the beginning because I love Gwyneth Paltrow’s clean, crisp clothing style. Honestly- her uniform post from several years ago is still a go-to for me. I am still a subscriber but over the years as goop has developed as a “lifestyle” brand, I have certainly stopped being an avid reader. The problem that I have is the same as a lot of other people- the site just SMACKS of privilege; almost everything featured is insanely expensive and it seems out of touch with the lives of most women (steaming ones vagina?? Really??? That cannot be healthy)

When I was sent Goop Clean Beauty by the publisher, Hachette Book Group Canada, I was willing to attempt to look at it without any preconceived notions. It was January and who doesn’t love a good lifestyle book to start the New Year with? I was certainly curious if the book would be accessible to the 99% who aren’t Hollywood royalty….

My first impression of the book was how clean (no pun intended) and stylish the layout design was. It was like your favourite Instagrammer who uses a lot of flat-lay pictures- perfect and styled within an inch of its life. I did have to chuckle a bit that kale leaves were prominently featured on the dedication page.

While the credit for the book goes to the staff of goop, GP “curated’ the book so naturally the introduction was penned by her. In it, she extols the virtues of natural self-preservation and aging gracefully while feeling as good as possible both inside and out. So far I am on board. She addresses all the negative products in so many beauty products and stresses how bad “toxins” are for the body (this feels a bit like an ad for goop by Juice Beauty)

GP has gotten a lot of flack by members of the medical community about her detox cleanses and she clearly wants to clarify her position here by stressing that her detox focuses on clean eating (i.e eating nothing fun at all) and not juice cleanses or fasts. Thea Baumann (the resident goop chef), provides 24 recipes for clean eating, many of which look pretty yummy (I am for sure trying  the Steamed Fish with Dashi and Soba Noodles and all the chopped salads). However…. there is a recipe for hot water and lemon.. Seriously?

A list of superfoods and antioxidants are included here which is hardly new territory but its nice to have all the info in one place if you are into that sort of thing (I am sort of on the fence, personally)

Of course Tracey Anderson also shows. I am as envious as anyone of GP’s figure but Tracey’s “method” is not super feasible for me as much as I wish it were. (working out for an hour a day would be amazing if I had that sort of time)

One thing that I was very interested in was the section addressing supplements and foods that help with hair, skin and nails. I took some of the advice and started talking a Biotin and have noticed a difference with my hair, especially. The beauty section is very blunt about how skin and haircare products work and that the real permanent changes and improvements come from what you put in your body rather than what you put on it. YES! This was probably my favourite section.

The the section that focuses on hair styles and makeup is a bit silly, especially in the era of YouTube tutorials. How to do a cat eye and a ponytail? Huh?

Another section that I was really interested in was about sleep- about how much you need, how to get the most out of sleep, the importance of naps for adults (HA- vindication! I LOVE naps) and how lack of sleep can affect your body. I am working on implementing some of the suggestions in an attempt to feel more rested.

All in all, this book is a beautiful hard covered version of the goop website and while there are certainly some good recipes and references, it doesn’t exactly break new ground.

Also one more thing- Is adrenal fatigue a real thing?

 

 

** I was provided this book for review by Hatchette Book Group Canada. All opinions are solely my own.

 

 

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Hell0 2017! Best Agendas for a new year

I am a list maker. An planner. My life doesn’t function without multiple and extensive to-do lists. Three kids and a full time job sometimes requires a fill on spreadsheet!!!
If you are hoping to be better organized this year, here are some fantastic (and cute) agendas to help you get there.
Best Agendas 2017

 

Simplified Planner– This is the perfect choice for the most dedicated organizer. This agenda has weekly spreads and full monthly views. There are four sections: schedule, to do, notes and dinner.
Design Love Co– This is such a chic planner! I love the design SO much. This task based organizer is perfect for list makers. There are many great extras like budgeting and spending charts as well as tear-out pages.
Smythson– This is the must luxe agenda on my list. Made of leather (of course) this 14 month organizer has a week-to-view layout with note pages.
momAgenda– This is an awesome choice for the multitasking mother as it is perfect for balancing multiple schedules (mom plus up to four kids) There are weekly and monthly views and the AMAZING “Essentials pamphlet” where you can store important information about the entire family in one place.
Kate Spade– This is a classic and elegant choice. This 17 month agenda has monthly and weekly spreads and lots of rooms for notes.
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What I Read- April 2016

 

The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti– This book hooked me SO fast! I was up until the wee hours reading it because I had to know what happened! So many twists, turns, red herrings… it was fantastic. Fans of The Luckiest Girl in The World, The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl will love this book! All hail the unreliable narrator!

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies
The Tea Panters Wife by Dinah Jefferies – I enjoyed this book about Jazz age Ceylon and the story of the tea planters lonely wife and the secrets and lies that pervade the beautiful plantation.
I thought the plot was somewhat far-fetched and was all wrapped up bit too quickly and neatly at the end of the book.
Tides of Honour by Gevevieve Graham
Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham – This is a very sweet and somewhat intense love story set against the back ground of WWI and the Halifax Explosion of 1916.
Lost Among the Living by Simone St James
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James– I love her books so much- they blend mystery, romance, historical fiction and the supernatural in a natural and totally engaging way. Her novels often look at the post WWI era and deal with the horrors of war. Always engrossing.
With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden
With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden– This historical romance has a pretty Christian slant to it, which isn’t really my thing but the medical aspects of the novel made up for that- the characters are working to cure Tuberculosis.
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In 1945 New York City, Gwen is left to care for her roommates baby when she abandons her. When the baby’s father returns from the war, she worries that she is going to lose the child she has come to think of as her own. Then they begin to fall in love….. yes… this book is that obvious but its a fun read.
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What I Read- March 2016

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (via Netgalley. Available April 19th)- A Modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (read full review here)

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The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg– I have been reading this series by Swedish crime writer Lackberg for the past five years (this is the ninth book!). Erika and Patrick are husband and wife crime solvers kept (oddly) busy in their little archipelago town. These books are pretty twisted and weird, as much Scandinavian crime fiction is. If you like Steig Larson and Henning Mankell, you will love this series.

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The Pursuit of Pearls by Jane Thynne (via NetGalley. Available May 3rd )- The next book in the Clara Vine series (see my review of the previous book here). As Germany creeps ever closer to inevitable war, Clara is tasked by her British handlers to delve ever deeper into the affairs and machinations of the Third Reich. This series continues to be top-notch historical fiction that brings pre-war Berlin somewhat frighteningly alive. It was not a good time, as in hindsight we all well know.

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The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel  -This book is the fourth in the Louise Rick series by Danish crime writer Blaedel. A women’s body turns up on a wooded area and it is discovered that she had apparently been dead for decades already! Detective Rick sets out to uncover the secret of her whereabouts in the intervening years. This book was creepy as heck and while this was the first book in the series I have read, I have already picked up the next one!

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Haunted Destiny by Heather Graham (via NetGalley. Available May 24th)- Heather Graham is one of my guilty pleasure authors. I almost always pick up her books when they come out (often in mass market paperback form- easily found in the drug and grocery store!) I enjoy the gothic vibe of her books and I love learning about the history (often supernatural related) of the cities the books take place in.

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Reviewed: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep and American Wife are two of my all-time favourite books so when I heard several years ago that Curtis Sittenfeld had been chosen by the Austen Project to write a reimagining of another of my favourite books, Pride and Prejudice I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when I was approved by Netgalley to read a galley copy of  Eligible before it is released on April 19th.

This is a story that you know, but this is no straight update for the 21st century.

Liz Bennet and her older sister Jane have been living grown up lives in New York for two decades when they are called back home to Cincinnati after there father suffers a health scare. Once back in their families crumbling mock Tudor home, they realize that their slightly dozy parents as well as their three younger sisters Mary, Kitty and Lydia are barely capable of taking care of themselves. Their mother is a shameless shopoholic and the younger sisters still live at home, don’t work and basically mooch off their parents, who as it turns out are financially tapped out. Mrs Bennet is desperate for one of her daughters to marry well so she can brag to her country club friends and pretend that their financial circumstances are not as dire as they are.

Enter Chip Bingley, a doctor who recently starred on Eligible, a “Bachelor” like reality TV show. He has just moved to town and introduces the Bennetts to his friend Darcy,  a Neurosurgeon (!) from California. And so it goes…..

I was not sure how I would wrap my head around a modern retelling of one of my favourite books but I really enjoyed this novel. I think I liked it so much because it was not so much a retelling as a reimagining. The characters that you love (and love to hate) are all present and accounted for but the story has been updated to a point where it seems believable in 2016- a straight retelling of this story would not really work in this day and age and Sittenfeld addresses that in an honest way. This novel  has sex (!), deals with gender and sexuality, race, politics… all the things that show up on our Facebook and Twitter feeds daily.

Is this book perfect? No. I don’t think that any book trying to reimagine a beloved classic could ever be perfect but the author has created a world that the reader cares about and roots for and relates to the characters and to me, that is just about the most important thing.

 

 

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Bookworm Monday- What I Read in February 2016

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You  by JoJo Moyes– If “Me Before You” broke your freakin’ heart, this book will mend it. It is a wonderful sequel.

 

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen– I read this because for some reason I can’t get enough of these historical romances even though the religious aspects annoy me somewhat.

Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr

Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr– This came up on my BookBub sales and it intrigues me. A fun chick lit read with a blogger/writer slant which appealed to me for obvious reasons.

The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne

The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne– This book is the third in a series about Clara Vine, a half German, half British spy working to take down Nazi Germany. This book is extremely well researched and 1938 Berlin really comes alive. Highly recommend!

 

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Bookworm Monday- What I Read

I am back to reading in a big way! Now that the babies go to bed at a reasonable time I can curl up with a good book and a glass of wine in the evening!
Here are some of the books that have made an impression on me the last few months!
Dumplin by Julie Murphy
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy– This YA book is blowing up all over the place due to its fun fabulous and curvy heroine. I loved this book.
Come Away With Me by Karma Brown
Come Away With Me by Karma Brown -OMG. This book broke my heart into a million pieces. A devastating read. You will need a box of tissues. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Girl with No Past by Kathryn Croft
The Girl with No Past by Kathryn Croft (via Netgalley)– Yet another book in the “unreliable narrator” genre made popular by Gone Girl. A good read.
The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Jule Klassen
The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen (via NetGalley)– This book is nominated for Best Romance of the Year 2015 by Goodreads but it is really a suspenseful historical novel at its best. I have since read many of Ms. Klassen’s other books and while they have a slightly religious bent that I don’t always get, I have enjoyed them all.
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Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham– I LOVED the Veronica Mars TV show and movie and I have gobbled up the two novels that follow the events of the film… waiting for more adventures with Veronica and her Neptune Scooby gang!
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Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – Mindy’s second book is as laugh out loud funny as her first and actually pretty inspiring. A perfect beach read!
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Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella – I have been reading this series for about 15 years and as silly and frivolous as Becky’s exploits are, I still look forward to and read each new book in the series.
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One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – No one does romance and heart shattering drama like Jojo. I loved this book so much. Another one to read with a box of tissue!
Hit the comments and let me know what I should read next?
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