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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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

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.
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!
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!
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.
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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Book Review- “The Woman who Stole My Life” by Marian Keyes

The Women who stole my life by Marian Keyes

Back in the early aughts, at the beginning of the Bridget Jones inspired “Chick Lit” era, I discovered Irish novelist Marian Keyes and a decade long love affair began. Keyes books are geared to females, yes, but her sharp humour, slapstick comedy and moving emotional situations truly set her apart from her contemporaries. Over the last 15 years, her novels have explored death, addiction, marital strife, poverty, mental illness and many other topics that her readers can relate to.
I could not have been more thrilled when I was approached to review her new novel “The Woman who Stole my Life” (on sale now) on the blog. I may have jumped up and down, but I will neither confirm nor deny. In my house, life stops when Marian has a new book! This time I fully played the pregnancy card to stay in bed and read all weekend!
Stella Sweeney is an average wife and mother- working, raising two teenagers and supporting her husband in his career endeavors. One day, tragedy strikes and her entire family is affected by terrifying event. Suddenly, Stella’s life is totally different and her world falls apart even as she experiences success on a scale she never imagined.
It is hard to give you a summary of the book without giving too much away, but the crux is that things in life over which you have no control can change everything in an instant and what that can mean to those around you.
I will be honest- this is not my favourite novel by Keyes. It was kind of downer and was pretty dark without as much of her usual humour to offset the hard subject matter.  In most of her novels, there are characters that you are meant to think of as the villain of the piece, and this novel did have that individual (no spoilers)  but many characters in this book were completely unsympathetic and some (like Stella’s teenage son, Jeffery) are downright unlikable. Ugh… he was so terrible.
Although I had many issues with the book, it was engrossing. Keyes has an almost uncanny ability to really bring you inside the mind and heart of her protagonists and the reader begins to feel like they actually know the character. Stella is an honest and flawed character and I found myself rooting for her throughout the story.
Marian Keyes is very active and hilarious on Twitter- I urge you to follow her! Also, follow Penguin  Canada for information about upcoming releases!
*** While I was provided this book for review purposes, all opinions are my own.


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Book Review and Giveaway- Then and Always by Dani Atkins

atkins_thenandalways_pb[1]A tragedy the summer she was 18 changed Rachel’s life forever. She cut herself off from everything and sunk deep down into the grief of her memories.  Five years later, an accident knocks her unconscious and when she awakens, she is surrounded by family and friends, people she has know her entire life…. yet everything is different. Her father no longer has cancer, the boyfriend she had run away from all those years ago is apparently her fiance and a friend long dead appears to be alive and well.  As Rachel tries to reconcile the last five years as she knew it with her new reality, she tries to understand her place in the world and her relationships with the people in it.

“Then and Always” is the perfect book for lovers of the film “Sliding Doors”; a book that asks the question “what if?”  A novel in the style of Emily Giffen, this book was a fun read from start to finish. The ending left me thinking and processing for a while, and I was ultimately very satisfied by this book!

This would be the perfect book to curl up with on a rainy day or to read on the beach!!

One reader will win a copy of ” Now and Always”! Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below! (Canada Only)




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Book Review- The Dolphin Way by Shimi Kang M.D



The Dolphin Way by Shimi Kang, M.D

I have a problem with the concept of “Tiger Mom” and it is a very personal one: I saw how damaging the overbearing, helicopter parenting style can be first hand during my years at an all girls private school. The school that I attended was noted for academic excellence and while the school itself was a nurturing and supportive environment (I say this with all honestly),  I saw a lot of girls deal with a huge amount of pressure. Some of these students were of Chinese decent (the “stereotypical” tiger cubs) and others weren’t. I also saw students with supportive and loving families who chose on their own to strive for perfection. I saw this extreme pressure, either from the outside or the inside result in serious sports injuries, chronic depression, cutting, bulimia and anorexia.

The book The Dolphin Way proposes an alternative parenting style to the “Tiger Mom”. Dr. Kang proposes that the animal, which best  represents the ideals parents should hope for in their children- Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration, is the Dolphin. She posits that these skills will set children up for success and balance in their lives. She believes that “Tiger Parents” and their dictatorial parenting style is actually detrimental to the child as they are often rigid, uncreative and EXHAUSTED. They have no balance in their lives, their mental and physical health have been compromised and they fail to thrive because they have no ability to rebound from setbacks. Dr Kang stresses that thinking and resilience are the most important skills that children need – “millennials” show a sense of entitlement that can cause trouble in the workplace as they lack innovation and social skills. Children need to be able to think on their feet and have a healthy relationship with the world around them- this creates empathy and the ability to meet challenges head on.

This book really opened my eyes to the idea that balance in parenting is as important as balance in life. Dr Kang uses evidence based research to make her points about the importance of being an authoritative parent. Much of the advise that she imparts seems like common sense, but I had so many moments where I began to nod my head SUPER vigorously.

My only real issue with this book is also one of the best things about it, if you can wrap your head around that. Dr Kang’s theory is supported by a lot of research and evidence, which is incredibly reassuring but also makes the book a little bit repetitive at times.

I feel like this book has made me understand much better the kind of parent that I want to be and I know that it will very dog-eared from all my referencing as my son grows up.

For more information, visit Dr.Kang’s website and follow her on Twitter


**This book was provided for review by Penguin Canda. All opinions are mine**

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Book Review: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell

Image c/o Penguin Canada

Falcio Val Mond is one of the last of the Greatcoats, a special band of men and women who served as magistrates for the King. When the King is killed, the Greatcoats are shunned and treated as traitors by the powerful Dukes who have taken control of the country, after killing the Monarch. Falcio and his friends Krest and Brasti eek out a living as mercenary bodyguards to the caravans that crisscross the country roads.  The three of them begin working for a mysterious noblewomen and end up in a distant city in the midst of Blood Week, nine days when murder is not only tolerated but encouraged. Falico becomes the unwitting protector of a young girl who’s entire family has been slaughtered and that is when things really start to get interesting for the trio.

Traitor’s Blade is not the usual type of book I gravitate to, but when Penguin sent out a call to review it, I was intrigued as it sounded like it might appeal to the rabid Game of Thrones fan in me. This book eludes a specific genre; It is a quest tale in a fictional world that bears little resemblance to our own, so it could be considered fantasy, but it also has mystery and a lot of thrills.

The first person narration allows the reader to truly understand the mind of Falcio; his emotions and intentions. He is not the perfect fairy tale hero. He is flawed, damaged and makes numerous mistakes throughout the book.  On the surface, he is not even the most likeable character, but he gains the readers’ trust, sympathy and  support through his desire to uphold the morals of the Greatcoats in a very immoral world.  Like Tyrion, on the TV version of Game of Thrones, he is funny and uses humour to help himself deal with difficult situations.

The language in the novel is very rich and the imagined world is incredibly well-developed and detailed. This detail also extends to the many fight scenes, which are truly amazing in their texture and complexity; almost cinematic. I found these parts of the novel completely fascinating.

The tale takes many twists and turns as the Greatcoats engage in cat and mouse games with the corrupt Dukes and Duchesses and I was truly surprised by several of the red herrings along the way and there was only one reveal that I felt coming a mile away (it was still a great moment in the story regardless.) I honestly could not turn the pages fast enough, especially as I got close to the en.

This is the first book in a series and I will certainly be reading the future adventures of Falcio and his crew. I can’t believe that I have to wait to see what happens next!!!!

Available now from Amazon, Amazon Canada and Chapters Indigo

and follow @PenguinCanada and @decastell  for more Traitor’s Blade fun!!!

Happy reading!!!!


** Disclaimer- I was given a copy of this book for reviewing purposes from Penguin Canada. All opinions are my own.

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