Friday, April 28, 2017

What I've Read Lately

Being a new mom is hard. Your needs get put on the back burner so you can keep your new tiny human alive and happy. When my son was first born in August, I practically stopped reading. It's not that I didn't have the time, as newborns nurse and sleep a lot, I just didn't feel like reading. My favourite time to read is before bed when I can curl up in my bed with my book. I've done that since I was a little girl, and it's my favourite way to relax. Our son was sleeping in our room up until March when we moved, so I didn't really have that opportunity because once he went to bed, I wouldn't go in the room until I went to bed myself. Sure, I could read on the couch (and I do), but it's not the same.

Now that he's in his own room and I have my room back, I've been reading much more and I love it. I've written a few review posts lately, but I also wanted to write about the other books I've been reading.

We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk - I've written about my love of Kelks books before, and this one was no exception. I literally laughed out loud and woke my sleeping son up at one point. It was really funny, but also really sweet and thought-provoking. Liv and Adam decide to take a break from their relationship, but eventually consider possibly making the break permanent. I loved getting to read from both Liv and Adam's point of view, and I was really happy with the ending.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir - I actually won this one back in August before it came out, but received it after my son was born. I started it back in October, but didn't finish until the other day, which is not because it wasn't good. I loved An Ember in the Ashes, and I loved this one, too. Laia, Elias, and Helene are fantastic characters and their stories have evolved so well in this book. I'm already excited for book 3.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - Picoult is one of my favourite authors and this did not disappoint. This was hard to read at first because a newborn dies in it, which as a new mother, that's definitely my biggest fear. It was a great read, and one that's very important these days. It tackles racism and will make you question your own views. I think this should be required reading in school because of the quality discussions it can inspire.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens - Stevens is another of my favourite authors and again, this did not disappoint. I actually read this in 3 days or something, which is a feat these days. Stevens' books always mess with my head and leave me feeling a little creeped out. She takes every day instances and makes them terrifying. In this book, Lindsey and her daughter escaped an abusive marriage, but eleven years later, he's out of jail and Lindsey feels like he's stalking her. Creepy, right? This is something that could happen, which makes it all the more scary.

I may not have read a lot lately, but I've been reading some great books. My goal this year is 25 books because I'll be returning to work in August (which is breaking my heart), so I'm not sure how much reading I'll do once I have to also balance that. I need to prioritize reading, though, as it's very important to my mental well-being. So far I'm at 10 books, so maybe I can surpass my goal. I'll be happy as long as I keep reading good books!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley
The hardest reviews to write are the ones where you absolutely loved the book because I never feel like I can do it justice. I loved this book and this series. It's honestly fantastic. This is the third book in a series of what is set to be seven books. You can read my review for the second book, The Storm Sister, here, which I also loved.
The general premise of these books is that there are six sisters who were adopted as babies by Pa Salt. Pa Salt has sadly died and has left each sister a clue to where they were adopted from and their heritage. The clues involve a letter from Pa Salt, and a set of coordinates leading them somewhere in the world. The Seven Sisters followed Maia and her roots to Brazil. The Storm Sister followed Ally to her roots in Norway, and The Shadow Sister follows Star to a bookshop in London.
Star is a great character and one I felt like I related to. She's very quiet and happy with the simple pleasures in life; reading, gardening, and hanging out with her sister, CeCe. CeCe is very headstrong and tends to lead Star. Star begins to feel a bit overwhelmed by CeCe and decides to find out about her heritage, which leads to a little bookshop in London. The bookshop introduces us to a cast of fun characters, such as quirky Orlando, and sweet Rory. Star ends up taking a job in the shop, which then leads to her becoming a sort of babysitter for young Rory at their dilapidated old home in the country.
One of the things I love about this series is that while you get the present day story about the sister, you also get the past story about the sisters relative. In this case, we also get to follow Flora MacNichol who is a strong woman living in a society that doesn't exactly celebrate headstrong women. We know Flora is somehow related to Star, and the connection is slowly revealed throughout the two stories. I love getting to read both stories and I've never found switching between the two stories/time periods to be confusing.
There is something for everyone in these books; romance, history, family relationships, and of course, a little intrigue. Riley always sets the scenes so beautifully, too. I could picture myself roaming and exploring with Flora, and hanging out in the bookshop with Star.
I don't feel like you necessarily have to read each book in the series because Riley sets them up with enough details that you aren't lost, but I do recommend reading them because they're so good. This was definitely a 5 star read for me!
A copy of this book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda was one of those books that left me wondering if you can ever really truly know someone.

Leah Stevens has lost everything. She's lost her job and her credibility, but she found the one person she never thought she'd see again; her former roommate Emmy Grey. The women relocate to a small town where no one knows them and they try to begin again. Leah soon lands a job as a high school teacher. A woman who looks like Leah turns up dead and Emmy has gone missing. No one can find Emmy, but Leah is becoming convinced that she is somehow connected to the murder. Since no one knows the women, people begin to suspect that there never really was an Emmy and that Leah knows more than she's letting on.

This book really hooked me and kept me guessing. It played games with my mind and left me wondering if there was actually an Emmy Grey. Leah is an unreliable protagonist, which definitely added to the mystery. I wasn't sure what to think about Leah. I found it hard to be sympathetic towards her, even though she really didn't deserve the things that happened to her. She was very frustrating at times because she seemed very selfish. How do you live with someone twice and know absolutely nothing about them?

With Emmy missing, Leah is faced with confronting her past, especially as someone in town seems to be digging it up. Leah suspects one of her students, Theo, is messing with her but isn't sure why. This particular storyline kind of creeped me out because it made me realize how easy it is for people to dig up information about us online these days. Theo had no trouble looking into Leah's past with a simple Internet search, which is kind of disturbing if you stop and think about it. What are we putting out there? Mind you, Leah was a journalist so it'd be easy to find her stories, but it kind of reiterates that the Internet is forever and to be careful with what you put out there.

The book has lots of little details and things that really make the story come full circle. I loved not knowing whether or not Emmy was real. I spent most of the book thinking that Leah was also Emmy. I won't tell you whether or not I was right, because where's the fun in that? I ended up giving this book a 3.5 out of 5 because I enjoyed the mystery and it left me wanting to know more.

Megan Miranda is the author of the bestselling All the Missing Girls, which I haven't read, but which has been added to my TBR for sure! The Perfect Stranger is on sale now and is the perfect book to curl up with on these spring nights that are still chilly.

A copy of this book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada, but as always, opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham

Hi everyone! It's been a while. My son is now 7 months old, which is absolutely crazy. Time flies even faster when you become a parent!

Today I've got a review of Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham, which was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada. As always, opinions are my own.

I was initially drawn to this book because a.) it's by a Canadian author and b.) it takes place (partially) in Nova Scotia. I think I've mentioned it before, but I love Nova Scotia. I've only been there twice, but it completely stole my heart both times. I was also drawn to this story because it's based on actual events. In 1755, the Acadians of Grand Pré, Nova Scotia were expelled from their land by British soldiers. They were forced onto ships and sent away to various parts of Canada and the US. Promises to Keep tells the story of Amélie Belliveau and her Acadian family and their expulsion. Amélie and her family are loaded onto two separate boats and sent off to sea.

Amélie is a strong willed, spirited girl who falls in love with someone she shouldn't - a soldier for the British, however, Connor is not the soldier he appears to be. He is not as loyal as the British think he is. Amélie lives with her mom, dad, two sisters, and two brothers. She also has a close relationship with some members of the Mi'kmaq tribe who live in the forest nearby.

I liked Amélie because she was tough. She didn't just sit back and let the awful expulsion happen without consequence. She was perhaps a little too headstrong, but I liked her fearlessness. She was the sister and daughter her family needed her to be. I liked Connor for the same reasons. He was definitely not afraid of the British and had no trouble trying to undermine their mission.

I did feel like the connection between Amélie and Connor was a little instantaneous, but it felt and read genuine. I loved that it was written in dual perspective, because I was able to read how both were feeling and it made the whole experience that much more emotional.

I also really enjoyed the character of Me'tekw. He only has a couple of chapters, but they are so significant integral to the whole story. His story begins as a prequel and just leaves you wanting to know where his story ends.

I gave this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars because I really enjoyed it and it was a quick read. If you're looking for a great historical fiction based on actual events then definitely pick this up. Pick it up if you're looking to read beautiful descriptions about Nova Scotia. Graham made me remember why I love the province so much and reminded me that I need to get back there immediately.

I've never been to Grand Pré (it poured rain the day we were going to go), but we did go to a lookout spot that overlooks the general area of where Grand Pré is. Fun story, our car died at the top of the lookout point.

Isn't it pretty? Go and buy Promises to Keep so you can read about these beautiful views. It's on sale today!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Quick Update

I'm not sure if anyone will actually read this, but thought I'd do a quick update.

I'm still alive. I gave birth to my son on August 23rd, so everything has been about him lately. I've been in the new mommy fog, wherein all that matters is keeping my tiny human alive, fed, and happy. The fog is beginning to lift, so I'm hoping to become more active again in the new year. I've only managed to read 1.75 books since he was born, but we've gotten into an evening routine so I'm hoping to start reading more. Honestly, some days I'm too tired to focus on reading so watching TV is just easier. I've never watched so much TV in my entire life. I think my brain cells are slowly dying.

Parenthood is unreal, and I wouldn't change my new life for anything; it just takes some adjustment and unfortunately, some things need to be placed on the back burner. Like daily showers.

Just wanted to update for anyone wondering if I was still alive. I do have 4 review books coming my way soon from a publisher that are coming out in April and May, so I better get back into the swing of things soon.

I'm also hoping to do the end of year survey since I enjoy doing that every year, but we'll see.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay
Have you ever heard of vaudeville? I hadn't before I read this book. Vaudeville was a variety show program that was popular in the late 1800s to the 1930s. Acts ranged from singing and dancing, to impersonations, to even acts with animals. It was a pretty big form of live entertainment back then, and one I think sounds very cool.

From Goodreads:
In 1919, the Turner sisters and their parents are barely scraping by. Their father is a low-paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, and the family is always one paycheck away from eviction. When their father’s hand is crushed and he can no longer work, their irrepressible mother decides that the vaudeville stage is their best—and only—chance for survival.

Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated.

My thoughts:
I loved reading about vaudeville and the different people that were involved with it. There were so many different characters involved in each show, and they really made the story interesting. While this may seem like a sweet story about sisters performing an act, there was a lot of serious talk about the issues that were prevalent in that time period. Racism was a huge issue (and still is), and I enjoyed reading about how the girls tackled it. They put themselves into a few dangerous situations in order to do what was right, no matter the potential consequences to themselves.

I loved each of the sisters for different reasons. They were all different, and you really got to see them grow and flourish throughout the story. Gert was headstrong and tough, Winnie was smart and determined, Kit was young and fun, and Nell was recently widowed and reserved. The story alternated between the perspectives of Gert, Winnie, and Kit, but I wish there had been chapters from Nell's perspective.

I did find it a little slow at times, but the slow parts didn't last long and the story was quick to pick u again. My final rating is 3.5 stars. It was entertaining to read, and filled with lots of different and quirky characters. If you're looking for a fun historical novel, definitely pick this one up.

A copy of this book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The hardest thing as a book blogger/reviewer is writing a review for a book you absolutely loved. If I didn't like a book, I can usually find a few reasons why and BAM, there you go. For a book I loved, I just want to write, 'THIS WAS AWESOME. READ IT,' but I don't think that's really effective.

The book that I absolutely loved and am therefore having a hard time reviewing, is One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I picked up After I Do by Reid earlier this year, and completely fell in love. Why did no one tell me to read her books earlier? When the lovely people at Simon and Schuster Canada contacted me and asked if I'd like an early copy of One True Loves, I immediately said YESPLEASEGIMMETHANKYOU. Or, you know, 'yes, please! Thank you!' like an actual polite human. I devoured this book in two sittings, staying up way too late one Sunday night.

The quick synopsis for this book is Emma marries her high school sweetheart, Jessie. They spend their days traveling and living their lives far away from their hometown. On their first wedding anniversary, Jessie disappears in a helicopter accident over the Pacific. Emma moves home to grieve and try to start over, where she is reacquainted with an old friend named Sam. Sam used to work in her parent's bookshop. They fall in love, get engaged, and then Jessie is found alive. Emma clearly has a choice to make. Does she choose Sam, her new love who offers her the quiet life she's discovered she really loves, or does she choose Jessie, who offers her the crazy, travel-filled life she once had?

I loved both Sam and Jessie for different reasons, however I did lean towards one of them more than the other. I won't say who, because that's who she ultimately picked and I was very happy with the end of this book. They both offered her a completely different lifestyle, and part of her choice was choosing which version of Emma she wanted to be. It wasn't just about choosing the right guy. She had to choose the right Emma. I loved trying to figure out who she was going to pick and see her settle into her future. There was a lot of growth for Emma, and it all felt very genuine.

One of my favourite chapters in this book was the chapter dealing with Emma's grief. It was so raw, and yet so beautifully written. I completely felt Emma's pain and anguish. That chapter didn't follow the format of the rest of the book, but I thought it worked really well. The rest of the book is written in Before and After, so you really get a sense of Emma, Sam, and Jessie.

No one writes about love and loss like Taylor Jenkins Reid. I've now read all of her books, and I've loved every one of them. She has a way with words that leaves you nodding along. I'm married, and many of her books deal with marriage in some sense, so I can always relate to the characters. I think you could definitely enjoy these books even if you aren't married. There is something to take away from each book, no matter your season of life. Her books always leave you wondering what you'd do in the situation she poses, and I find myself incredibly grateful for all I have.

One True Loves is on sale today, so please do yourself a favour and go out and buy it and then buy her entire back list. You won't be sorry.