What I read- Autumn 2017

What I read- Autumn 2017

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys (via Netgally- available  January 9th 2018 in the US and Canada. Available now in the UK)- Traveling from England to Australia in 1939, the inhabitants of a large passenger ship become enmeshed in each others lives, affecting everyone in different ways. I loved this book as I felt it really brought to life the spirit and drama of the era and let me tell you, there is a twist that cannot be missed! Fantastic historical read.

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs – Camille has become paralyzed by fear since her husbands tragic death while on vacation years before. When she discovers that her sick father wishes to return to French town he grew up in, she must find the courage to travel again. Once in France, shocking discoveries about her father’s family and the appearance of an intriguing man force her to embrace life again.  This book was another super delightful read conjuring up the era of the Second World War, with a sweet love story mixed in. Perfect beach read for this winter!

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker– Looking in detail at the lives of five victims of a still unknown serial killer that terrorized Long Island in the early 2000’s. Exhaustively researched, the victims are brought to life as women, daughters and mothers and how Craigslist and the inaction of police were both instrumental in the deaths of these marginalized people.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey – In this book, the author explores how ghost stories are shaped by the history of the places that are said to be haunted. Looking at famous (and not so famous) hauntings across America, the reader gets a strong sense of how we look at our past as reflected by the stories we tell .

The Break By Marian Keyes– Amy’s husband Hugh wants a six month break from marriage but he makes it very clear that he is not leaving her. He takes off to Asia leaving her totally confused and devastated. Then she decides that if he gets a break from marriage, then so does she!  I have read every one of Marian Keyes’ novels and this is probably one of my favourites. I laughed so hard and cried almost as hard. For me, that makes it a newer perfect fun read.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella (advance copy via Netgalley- available February 13th 2018)- Sylvie and Dan have been together for years, with a nice home and adorable twin daughters. Life is nice… but a little boring. They decide to shake things up by creating special surprises for each other. This decision will lead to shocking revelations about their marriage and family that neither could have anticipated. This book is classic Kinsella, the author of the Shopaholic series. Another perfect vacation read.

 

 

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My Holiday Wishlist

This year, I have been using Pinterest to make my Christmas wishlist (follow me on Pinterest here) for my husband. Sometimes I think I just do it to annoy him!
As usual, it is a mix of pipe dream pieces (hello Gucci bag!?) and more practical (or at least reasonable) items. Here’s whats in my 2017 list!
My holiday Wishlist 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Eyeshadow Pallet-/ Gucci Bag/Skin Verona Sleep Shirt/Origin by Dan Brown/Le Labo Candle/Jenny Bird Hoops/ Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick

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Holiday 2017- Portable North Pole

My kids are already going nuts for Christmas and it is still over a month away! The twins and their big brother are so excited for Santa to come it is basically the only topic of conversation with the short people in my house. I was thrilled when I heard about the app Portable North Pole. This ingenious website created personalized videos from Santa to the little ones in your life so they can hear from the big man himself if they are on the naughty or nice list!! My eldest son was so so enthralled but the message he received- we watched it three times in a row! This year, Portable North Pole has also published a book “24 Sleeps Until Santa” which is available across Canada, including  Indigo and Amazon.  In the book, Santa Claus helps impatient children pass the days until Christmas with a game!  Each night, he hides the key to his magical world in the illustrations. The reader must find the key on each page, hidden among the magical elves and animals as they prepare for Santa’s busiest night of the year! It is beautifully illustrated, fun and exciting for the kids and last but certainly no least 5% of the proceeds go to local hospitals!!! My kids love this book and we will probably read it every night until Christmas. The three of them take turns pointing out the hidden keys on each page.    

I want you to win  a copy of “Twenty-Four Sleeps Until Santa” to read with you little elves !!!!

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    ** thank you so much to Portable North Pole for providing me with a book for my little ones and a book to give away to my readers. As always, all opinions are my own. SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave

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What I read- Summer 2017

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The Girls by Emma Cline– This book would have been my holy grail as a teenager. I was obsessed with true crime (still am) and this novel about a young girl entangled with a Manson Family- like cult before a horrific series of murders are committed is incredible. The writer absolutely NAILED the voice of a 14 year old girl, so much so that it actually made me feel uncomfortable. Teenage girls brains are terrifying. Highly recommend.

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo– The story of two very different sisters traveling on a doomed ship during the First World War.  This novel is based on the author’s great grandfather’s stories about surviving the sinking of the Lusitania.

The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman–  In order to work on their respective novels,  Clare and her husband move out of the city to serve as caretakers at a historical house in the Hudson Valley. Soon Claire realizes that something strange is happening in the house- the sound of babies crying, a sense of a dark presence, an evil which seems to be focused on her. This writers “northern gothic” novels are some of my favourites but this one didn’t engage me as much as her earlier books.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston– I loved this book. I read almost all of it on a solo 3 hour plane ride. Basically, think Cinderella if she was a cosplay nerd and prince charming was a teen movie heartthrob. Throw in some science fiction homages and you have one of the sweetest and endearing YA novels I have read in a long time.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn– This was recently a pick on the Reece Witherspoon Book Club so I guess its only a matter of time before this becomes a movie. The narrative alternates between the story of a women drafter to be a spy with The Alice Network during World War One in France and a pregnant college girl who runs away to France to look for her cousin who went missing during World War 2. I loved this book and cannot wait for more books by the author.

Fallen by Lauren Kate– Think Twilight but instead of vampires you have.. angels… Ya. I am sure you are asking yourself why I read this. It wasn’t as badly written as the Twilight books, but I suggest you skip it and just see the movie (if you are so inclined) and I NEVER suggest seeing the movie instead of reading the book.

Kiss me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt– The fourth book in a series about the inhabitants of Willoughby close. Sweet cosy read about two people finding love.

What did you read over the summer? I am always looking for recommendations!

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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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