books i’m loving

Regular friends of the blog will know I’ve been meh about reading this year. I wasn’t pumped about books coming out and what I was reading early in the year wasn’t great. Until recently. (I enjoyed a few WW1/2 historical fiction novels, but I think most of you aren’t fans of historical fiction, so I’ll keep those thoughts to myself). 

I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Swear on This Life back-to-back in the last week, both of which were amazing! 


Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (synopsis)

I have read all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novels in the last year; they’re easy reads, a bit emotional, some kind of love story, predictable at times but well written and enjoyable. I was number 1 on the holds list at two library branches so I could get my hands on this book as soon as it came out. It did not disappoint and rose to be my favourite TJR book.

The character of Evelyn is complex: lovable yet hateable, vulnerable but also a total bitch. The set-up and how the book was written was probably the best part. While the husbands themselves don’t matter (in the long run), the story line is laid out as you would imagine it to be the memoir Monique is writing about Evelyn: chronologically, following monumental moments in Evelyn’s life while married to each of her seven husbands. Full of old hollywood glam with a sprinkling of love, lust, and betrayal, it is the perfect beach read. 

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino (synopsis)

Even though this hasn’t been out a full year I feel like it’s been on my to-read list for months and months and months. I found out about it when living in London and was crushed the local library didn’t have it. After I moved back to Guelph and eventually grew my library card collection by adding the county library to my pack, I found Swear on This Life. Again, after what seemed like waiting for-ev-er, a digital copy was added to my e-bookshelf and I dug in. 

You know when you’ve been waiting and waiting and what you were waiting for isn’t as great as the expectation you’ve built up? Yah? Not the case here. With breaks for breakfast with a friend and some Jays baseball, I devoured this book in one day (a half day?) sitting in the shady patch of my balcony.

Similar to 7 Husbands, it is written bouncing between present day and chapters from J’s book. Following the story of Jax and Emerson aka Jase and Emeline is heart-wrenching and adorable and then sad again. As kids, they had a real rough life but it’s a classic “look how far we’ve come” tale and you can’t help fall in love with the pair. And kind of hate Trevor. 


have you read either? thoughts? what book are you looking forward to reading next? 
you can follow along with everything I’m reading over on goodreads.


best in books: allison’s recommendations

Did you love Megan’s recommendations? Have you read any? Gifting any? Adding any to your library holds list? 

(ps: I only have 6 books on my holds list which, I think, is a 5 month low)

I originally aimed for 52 books in 52 weeks. It wasn’t really happening so I revised my goal to 26, which I passed a few months ago. I revised it again to a comfortable 40 books in 52 weeks and am currently at 44 with one book and three e-books checked out (Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter trilogy; re-reading the first 2 before starting Winter Storms. Aka: my plans this weekend as it snows…again…). So 48 books in 52 weeks is pretty great, I’d say. 

Without further ado, my favourites from this year to inspire your last minute purchases or holiday reads.


The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer: I read this back in March and it has stayed with all year. Coincidentally, looking back, I read 4 of these 5 books in succession in March and April this year. The Invisible Bridge is a hunker down and get invested kind of book; it’s long with a serious story line. It is worth it. It is an absolutely beautiful story of love and friendship, raw and honest. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: Keeping with my love of historical fiction, I followed up The Invisible Bridge with The Nightingale. Again, a story of perseverance and courage with a strong female lead. 

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: Unless you’re my sister (the book hater) or living under a rock you’ve likely read this or seen the movie (how was it? I have it on hold at the libs). Quite simply, a great book. Who did you side with: Tom or Isabel? 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: I know, I know, you’ve probably already read this or seen the movie, as well. In comparison to all other Jojo Moyes books I’ve read, this is by far the best. Great story, interesting/controversial perspective, dreamy English countryside. I watched the movie earlier this week, also great (managed to hold off balling my eyes out till the very end, go me!). 

Big Girl by Kelsey Miller: everyone needs a biography on their list. If you’ve ever struggled with self-esteem issues, negative thoughts associated with weight, anxiety, family problems, this is the one for you. I started reading Kelsey’s articles on Refinery 29 and was excited when her book came out. Very well written. Loved it. 

Honourable mentions:
– The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman
– The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman
– When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
– All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
– The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
– When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel
– It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
– Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Reid Jenkins

And some Canadian content:
Because this list is really just a love letter to historical fiction, try Jennifer Robson.


Obviously, I’m a kid book connoisseur. Or not. But I do have favourites and I think it would be sweet to gift an original and a Christmas version as a gift set for the littlest readers in your life. 

You can stay up-to-date with everything I’m reading on goodreads

Are you gifting books this year? Which ones? And what are you looking forward to reading while snuggled up on Christmas holiday? 

best in books: megan’s recommendations

I’d like to introduce you to a very special friend, my pookie bear, Megan. Megan and I became instant best work buds while working at the University of Guelph way, way back in 2011/12 before she left me to return to PEI. 

An avid reader, I asked Megan to share some of her favourite 2016 reads to inspire last minute Christmas gifts…or to add another book to your library holds list. She’ll tell you a bit about her reading goal for this year and tell you about her favourite books of the year as well as her fave books to gift her cutie-pie nephew, because we agree that books are the perfect gift for wee kiddos. 

I’ve been engaging in a little reading challenge this year. My goal was to read 50 books in 52 weeks (a book a week plus a two-week vacation). I am a few books behind, but I think I’m going to make it. (ps: you can follow Megan’s book challenge and book ratings on Goodreads)

The rules of my challenge were simple – I wouldn’t re-read any books this year (I have a nasty habit of re-reading books I love and never reading anything new), I would read anything that was recommended (although this shifted a bit as I now have over 200 on the list – I’ve been able to be a bit choosy), and I would finish everything I started. I’ve accepted recommendations from friends, colleagues, librarians, strangers – and I’ve added some titles from lists and blogs.

One of the things that I think is really great about this challenge is that I’m reading everyone’s favourite books. I’ve had a few “meh” books, but nothing awful and many incredible. So here are a few of my faves.


The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – You know how sometimes books just reach from the pages to grab you and captivate you? Yeah, this book is that. I don’t even know how to describe the plot. Kind of mystery, lots of heartbreak, really well developed characters. My one beef about the book is that the language is a little bit flowery. Normally this would annoy me in a book, but I just loved this story so much. There is a line in the book that I think sums it up so well: “Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” You need to read this book (but you can skip his other books – not even close to as good as this one!)

The Graveyard Book b Neil Gaiman – Honestly, I picked this one up because I love Neil Gaiman, no other reason. Seriously, read anything Neil Gaiman has written (graphic novels especially) and be entertained. But I picked this book because it’s just so cute and clever. It’s a YA book about a kid that lives in a graveyard with ghosts. A super quick, easy read that reinforces that Neil Gaiman can do absolutely everything.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – OMG this is a good read. It’s about an intersex man named Cal (initially called Callie). The first half of the book is about Cal’s grandparents migrating to the US and the second half of the book is about Cal’s life, as he comes to terms with his gender identity. It’s a great read, a bit wordy, but overall I really like Eugenides’ mixed narrative style and use of humour and irony. There are a lot of parallels with Greek mythology in this book, which was fun to explore. And I’m so fascinated with gender identity – this book really inspired me to do more reading and research about intersex that I never would have done on my own.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – I know, I know. Everyone in the world has read this book. Well, except me. I do agree with the million people that recommended it though. It’s a must read, if you haven’t already.

And finally, for some Canadian content:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – This book kind of came out of nowhere for me. As much as I say I have an open mind about books, I was not looking forward to this one. Basically, it follows the story of a few groups of people after a flu pandemic kills most of the population. It’s really understated; nothing flowery or fancy, just a really well-told story that connects a few groups of people and events over a span of 20 years. I love this quote: “No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed up as bears or peppers for Halloween.”
…doesn’t that sound peaceful?

Honourable mentions:
– Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
– She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
– The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom
– I’ll Give you the Sun – Jandy Nelson
– Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden (anything by Joseph Boyden is wonderful)
– Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein
– The House at Riverton – Kate Morton
– Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
– The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – All kids love this book. It’s like crack for kids. I don’t know why, but I’ve never met a kid that didn’t adore this book. My nephew had a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake for his first birthday and omg it was cute.

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton – Sandra Boynton is a baby whisperer, I think. Babies love her books. The Going to Bed Book is one of my favourites (although I really don’t understand why they would take a bath BEFORE exercise), right up there with Little Pookie and But Not the Hippopotamus.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – The cutest book ever. Because apparently, crayons have feelings too. But don’t worry, there is a sequel and the crayons come home.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt – I’m not sure if kids actually like these books, but I think they are hilarious. My nephew is a bit too little for them now, but I can’t wait to start reading Scaredy Squirrel’s 100% safe non-adventures with him.

I hope you find something for you or a loved one from this list. 

Tomorrow some DIYs and Thursday I’ll share my favourite for adults and kids. 

Thinking about doing a half-marathon with pretty much no experience? Megan will be back on the blog in January with some training, tips, and thoughts about running. 

books & babes


Hello again book lovers! Becky, Brie, and I are back for the last books & babes of the year. If you’re snuggling in to full on hibernation mode, like I am, there are lots of great reads to add to your holds list at the library. 


Allison: 12 books in 2 months? Whoa. I’ve been adverse to reading lately (hello all the made-for-tv holiday movies!) so I was a bit surprised to see the tally at 12. The good news, for me, is that I didn’t dislike anything I’ve read recently. Some were just ok but unlike the summer, none were bad. You can follow along with everything I’m reading and what’s on my list on Goodreads. (**Edited: apparently I can’t count, I read 10 books in 2 months. Sigh.**)

Favourites: surprise, surprise; I can’t pick just one favourite. I had written a sentence stating that It Ends With Us was my favourite (and it was REALLY good) but I also loved The Velvet Hours. You know how much I adore historical fiction. The Velvet Hours is based on the real life story of coutesan Marthe de Florian who deserted her Paris apartment in World War Two and its contents discovered, completely untouched for decades, in 2010. This is a fascinating story, easy to follow, and very captivating. I didn’t like how abruptly it ended but after some research I understand why. It Ends With Us: I didn’t love how young the main character was but other than that, I really enjoyed the story line that featured a strong-willed female lead.

Looking forward to: the third book in Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter series: Winter Storms. This is last book in the series (the first two, which came out in 2014 and 2015, were great) and I’m equally looking forward to reading about how the Quinn family’s story ends and sad there won’t be another one next year. With my overwhelming adoration of made-for-tv Christmas movies I’m not-so-secretly hoping the trio of novels is made into a trio of movies. If you’re looking for something light-hearted and seasonally appropriate I would recommend Hilderbrand’s Winter Street Trilogy.


Becky: I think the last couple months were a reading record for me. I read eight, almost nine, books since we last caught up two months ago. My grand total for the year is sitting at 32! I’ve read some pretty great books but some were just meh, like The Girls and Miss Peregrine’s. What is it about over-hyped books being totally mediocre? 

Favourites: It’s so hard to choose my favourite but I’m going to have to say Forever, Interrupted. I think Taylor Jenkins Reid has become my new favourite author. However, you should know by now that I can’t say no to a good memoir written by a strong female which is why I also really loved both Amy Schumer’s and Bif Naked’s memoirs. I’m just on the last few pages of Bif’s book but knew I’d love it to the end based on her recent book tour where she read some passages with such animation. I’m reading the book with her voice in my head which makes it even more fantastic.

Looking Forward To: I was thrilled when I found both Forever, Interrupted and another TJR book, After I Do at the used bookstore. I’ve heard After I Do is even better than Forever, Interrupted and I can’t wait to devour it. I also can’t wait to get my hands on Anna Kendrick’s new book Scrappy Little Nobody and Lauren Graham’s book, Talking As Fast As I Can, because it’s Gilmore Girls month!


Brie: I’ve read a good chunk of books in the last two months – 10 to be exact, but barely a handful stand out as really great reads. Such is the life of a reader though! Thankfully, the books I loved, I really, really loved.

Favourites: When we last caught up, I mentioned I had just started One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and you guys, what an amazing book! I pretty much recommend it to everyone I talk to (and I even made my mom read it while she was visiting), so if you haven’t yet, this is one bandwagon you need to hop on ASAP. Immediately after One True Loves, I read After I Do by the same author and while it’s completely different, I loved it too. Now I’m on a mission to read the rest of her books. Happiness for Beginners was my most recent read and it’s now competing with One True Loves for my favourite book of the year. Another feel-good, easy read, but deeper than your average chick-lit. And if you’re in the mood for a twisted, psychological mystery, then All is Not Forgotten is a great read, but fair warning that the content is pretty graphic.

Looking Forward To: My reading has slowed down considerably the past few weeks, most likely because my energy is pretty low as I prepare for baby to make its debut in just over a month. I’ve made it my mission to try and finish off the year with light, easy, Christmas themed reads. I never read seasonal books, but I felt it was time, and after Allison recommended the Winter Street trilogy by Elin Hilderbrand, I put them all on hold at the library. I’m halfway through the first book and it’s exactly what I was hoping to read to round out the year. 

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

books & babes

bookswerelovingHello again book lovers! I can’t decide if I love summer reading or winter reading best; sitting under a tree in the yard/park or snuggled under blankets on the couch? What’s your favourite?

Anyway, Becky, Brie, and I are back to chat favourites. 


Allison: I knew I had been reading a lot over the past few months – 1 part I put 10+ books on hold at the library on the same day and multiples have come in at the same time and 1 part it’s so beautiful in the backyard and all I want to do is sit outside and read after work – but didn’t know how many until I opened Goodreads ahead of this post. 13. Whoa. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the historical fiction and books with flashbacks were my favourite. As you know, I’m a seasonal reader and read a few chick lit/beach reads this summer and most were underwhelming. While I typically love some beachy escapism I’ve been impressed by deep, historical fiction so much that light and fluffy with super predictable endings have seemed boring.

Favourites: I think my favourite was The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. It was the perfect mix of protagonist needing to escape her life (hello current third life crisis), chick lit’esque flirting, a dual story line with a strong female in the early 20th century, and lots of mention of brunch and cake. Runner up was When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel; historical fiction (duh) and I loved the story and totally calling the ending (and crying anyway).

Looking Forward To: I just started In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch. Her last book, Theory of Opposites, is one of my all time favourites and I anxiously count down the minutes to 5pm so I can keep reading.


Becky: I feel like I have read so many amazing books since we last chatted. I loved the summer days that enabled me to breeze through some light, easy reads. I definitely didn’t get the hype over the summer hit The Nest and didn’t feel as enlightened as expected by the copy of the Szen Zone I was sent. I’m excited to move on to some of the darker books I was holding onto until the cooler weather. What is it about the seasons and the books we choose? I didn’t even realize that I was reading different books during different seasons. 

Favourites: Hands down was One True Loves from Brie’s online book club. The writing was of the best I’ve read for ‘chick lit’ but it was the story that was truly captivating. I loved reading Emma’s love stories and how she came to make the hardest decision of her life. I’m really just a sucker for a good love story and this one (or should I say these ones) were truly captivating. Runners up were The Light Between Oceans, The Luckiest Girl Alive and My Fight/Your Fight. As much as I love a good girly novel, I also love a good biography and knowing nothing about Rousey’s background, I was enthralled with her story of becoming the first woman in the UFC.

Looking Forward To: Perhaps finally digging into Bird Box! I’ll also be choosing and reading my first book club pick next month! This has weighed on me since I joined this book club earlier in the year and I’m really nervous to make a pick, so hopefully it will be a good one. Any suggestions? 


Brie: I had such a slow reading month in August, that I wasn’t sure I had any books worthy of talking about this time, but turns out I read a good chunk of books since the last time we met, and the majority of them I really enjoyed! Unfortunately, one of the books I said I was looking forward to reading last time, The Family Fang, was a total flop for me. You win some, you lose some. 

Favourites: My favourite book of the bunch is The Royal We. I read this right after we last chatted and it still stands out as one of my most favourite reads of the summer. My close seconds would be Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, Never Knowing, The Girl You Left Behind, and the companion novella to it, Honeymoon in Paris. All completely different books, but all great in their own right. If you love historical fiction, I cannot recommend enough, The Girl You Left Behind. Most of the World War books I read are about the German occupation during WW2, but this one was about the German occupation in WW1, which I honestly don’t think I’ve really read about. 

Looking Forward To: I just started reading One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which is next month’s book club pick and I was hooked from the first sentence! It’s one of those books where I want to savour every page and read without interruptions, and I’m already anxious to get back to it. I have another one of Reid’s books that I picked up in the bargain section, After I Do, and I think I might dive into that one right afterwards. All the Light We Cannot See is also on my radar as it’s my real-life book club pick for next week, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood for a heavy book right now. We shall see!

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?