summer books

summer books 2016What I should be doing in the morning before work: going for a walk while it’s cool(ish) and the humidity isn’t completely stifling yet. 

What I am doing in the morning before work: sipping a homemade café au lait and reading under the shade of an oak tree on the back patio. 

It’s summer! Let’s read outside! 

I actually started to make my summer reading list yesterday…after consulting PopSugar’s list of best 2016 summer books…and now I have 9 books on hold at the London Library and 2 currently downloaded on my iPad. 

I’m not a huge fan of classics and just can’t read anything too serious in the summer. Serious is best for winter; as you may recall, the snowy months earlier this year were dedicated to WW2 historical fiction with heavy themes. Summer is for sand and sun and smootching and sangria. 

(this would also be great in my life, but for now, is just captured in book form) 

Here’s what I have on hold:


A couple of authors I read regularly: Elin Hilderbrand (summer staple), Allison Winn Scotch (see below as well, Theory of Opposites is one of my favourite books), Jen Lancaster is hilarious (haven’t read Jen before; start at the beginning with Bitter is the New Black), and Emily Giffin (how can you not?); and a few new-to-me authors. 

I’m anywhere between first and 90th on the hold list so these should keep me happy right through September. 

Not ready to wait 3 months on the hold list? These are a few of my favourite summer books that should be easy to find in a used book store or on library shelves and are perfect beach reads: 

old favourites

Looking for something a little more serious? What about Me Before You and then bawl watching the film in theatres? Or read The Light Between Oceans before the movie comes out in September. 


What’s in your beach bag? 


books & babes


Oh hi again book lovers! Are you on vacation? Headed out somewhere fun? Enjoying some downtime on the patio on Sunday mornings? Becky, Brie, and I hope you can add a few of these to your ever growing reading list. 

Allison - July

Allison: Oh. So it seems I didn’t get up to a lot of reading in the past few months. I definitely thought I read more but I guess getting ready to move, packing, vacation, baseball season, and moving sort of got in the way. But, I have a shady back patio and a comfy chair and new library card and I am ready for weekends indulging in great books. 

Favourite: If you know me – or have been reading this blog for a while – you know I am horrible at picking 1 favourite. Especially with three books I really liked and one I liked but a smidge less; I feel bad for the one. Ok, big girl pants. I adore historical war fiction so it is no surprise I devoured and loved All the Light We Cannot See, Somewhere in France, and After the War is Over. Want to read Jennifer Robson? Read the books in order; they follow the same characters. Remember Mia was good but it has been compared to Gone Girl (um, no, it was nothing like it) so, I went in thinking I wouldn’t love it because I LOATHED the sociopathic thriller that was Gone Girl. Remember Mia was better than expected but not as great as the others. 

Looking forward to: Jennifer Robson’s third book, Moonlight Over Paris, and a whole slew of summer books I have on hold at the library. 

Becky July

Becky: I admit that June was a slow reading month for me. I took my very first DNF of the year with The Book Thief. I usually love WWII era books, but I after two attempts, I just was not loving this one. The Little Paris Bookshop was a book club pick and while it piqued my curiosity, it wasn’t a page turner and seemed to take forever to get through. Then we hit The Royal We, from Brie’s online book club, followed by Me Before You and page turning thriller and suddenly my to-be-read pile was disappearing quickly. 

Favourite: It’s a definite tie between The Royal We and Me Before You. I adored both stories intensely. I guess you can say I’m a hopeless romantic with a soft spot for a good love story. However, I love a good thriller just as much and both The Farm and Remember Mia had me frantically turning pages to find out the truths of both stories. 

Looking forward to: I’m really looking forward to giving the much talked about The Nest a read while I’m relaxing on a mountain beach with my family in the next week. I think I’ll be taking a trip to the used bookstore later today to see if I can find a copy of After You and then hitting up Chapters for any last minute summer.

Brie July

Brie: As I was going through my read books in Goodreads, it quickly dawned on me that I’ve read a ton of books since we last met up. While I’m never one to turn down talking about a book (or books), I thought it best if I focused on the books I loved the most.

Favourite: I can’t really pick a favourite out of my favourites, since all 4 of these books were so incredibly different, yet I enjoyed all of them immensely. The Nightingale left me an emotionally wreck during and post reading of it, but it was worth the heartache and all the tears. That book touched my heart, my soul, and I can’t imagine ever forgetting about it. Like Allison, I adore historical war fiction, and The Nightingale has now claimed the number one spot for me in this genre. The Love that Split My World is a YA novel and was so completely unexpected. A little bit of magic, spiritualism, time-travel, psychology and folklore, not to mention a serious nod to fans of Friday Night Lights, I really enjoyed this book (full review here). Me Before You was a re-read for me, and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, the second time around. Now I just need to muster up the courage to get through the movie (cue all the tears). And lastly, The Thirteenth Tale. This book also touched my soul, but in a completely different way than The Nightingale. It’s a gothic, historical fiction novel, and I think it’s the most beautifully written book I have ever read.

Looking forward to: Finally reading the sequel to Me Before You, After You. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson, because it sounds awesome and the movie is coming out staring Jason Bateman (love him) and I have this thing where I try really hard to read the book before I see the movie. Plus, I scored a hardcopy for $3 at Chapters the other week.

What have you been reading lately? 

Are you a seasonal reader and just love a book with themes of sun, sand, starry skies, and short shorts? I’m sharing my favourite summer reads and the 3 new books at the top of my summer reading list next Wednesday. 


books & babes

bookswerelovingOne of the most interesting things about comparing book notes between friends is how much one person can enjoy a novel and someone else was bored with it. Such was the case with The Attachments. Brie read it first and really loved it; Becky won a copy from Brie, I saw the recommendation, we both read it in the last few months. Becky also really liked it and I couldn’t read it fast enough….so that it would be over. Was it bad? No. I thought after being gutted by The Invisible Bridge I needed something light and undramatic; but the painfully predictable ending made me roll my eyes one too many times. 

So, what have we been reading in the past few months? 

Allison April Allison: The last two months can be referred to as “the nine weeks I devoured completely heartbreaking yet fabulous books with one exception”. Looking back I didn’t think I read 6 books, taking a break after the heartbreak of The Invisible Bridge and another break for the first two weeks of vacation (mostly because I was more enamored by US Netflix than not wanting to read…I actually brought three books on vacay and juuuust managed to finish Inside the O’Briens before Brie’s Book Club), but obviously I did, and I really loved most of them. I was in a bit of an historical fiction phase, could you tell?

Favourite: It was easy to pick a favourite in my February round-up because I didn’t love most of the books I read at the beginning of the year. This time? So hard. I really LOVED 4/6, one was pretty good (Inside the O’Briens), and one was ok but painfully predictable (The Attachments). I dove right into The Light Between Oceans mid-February on the recommendation of…just about everyone I know. I think I read it in three days and stayed up till 2am on Monday/Tuesday morning to finish it because I had to know how it ended. Next I slowly but consistently read The Invisible Bridge. Wow. Seriously heart-wrenching, it tells the story of a young Hungarian Jewish architecture student whose life and understanding of the world around him is altered by WW2; at its core though, it’s a beautiful love story. The Nightingale? Excellent! I just finished When Breath Becomes Air; again, heartbreaking but beautifully written. I hear there’s a long wait list at libraries for this memoir so I would recommend you read Dr. Kalanithi’s essays in Stanford Medicine and The New Yorker.

Looking Forward To: I’ve finally cracked open The Art of Fielding; I adore baseball and figured it was about time I read this baseball classic. I just (as in, while I am writing this draft on Monday afternoon) got the notification that All The Light We Cannot See, which is also very highly recommended by my book-loving peeps, is ready to pick up at the library.

Keep track of what I’m reading on Goodreads. 


Becky April Becky: It seems like some kind of record that I managed to finish seven whole books over the last two months. The Girl in the Spider’s Web was the longest read and the biggest drag, I didn’t think I would make it through anything else. Suddenly my to-read pile on the bedside has dwindled and it’s time to make a trip to the bookstore. It was a struggle to choose a favourite because aside from One Day (my book club pick for March) and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, they were all great reads.

Favourite: In the runnings for first place were Inside the O’Briens (the first A Slice of Brie Book Club pick), Eleanor & Park (my #booknerdsofRD book club pick for April) & Attachments, which I won from a giveaway from Brie. All three were books that I struggled to put down and finished in record time. Ultimately, Attachments won, followed closely by Eleanor & Park. Turns out, I’m a big fan of Rainbow Rowell. 

Looking Forward To: There are two books on my pile that I can’t wait to dig into, The Royal We, and Bird Box (Brie’s runner-up last month). I have heard nothing but good things about The Royal We but am so intrigued with Bird Box since I’m darkly into creepy things. I’m just not sure if I’m prepared for the weird dreams that are sure to accompany such a book. 

Keep track of what Becky is reading on Goodreads. 


Brie April

Brie: Since the last time we met to talk books, I’ve read a whopping ten books! I’m pretty sure this is a new record for me. Granted, one was a novella, and a few were audiobooks, but I’ve been doing really well at fitting in reading into my life. I’ve even managed to read a few books that have been on my own bookshelves for much too long, so I’m pretty happy about that.  I read a few duds though (Into the Abyss, The Best Laid Plans, and The Thief of Broken Toys), but the rest I really enjoyed.

Favourite: I read quite a few good books this time around, but they were all so different. I think the two that stick out to me the most (yes, it’s a tie, and it’s a fair one since they are both by the same author and companions to one another), is The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom. These two books had me hooked from the beginning and I found myself reading late into the night for both of them. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, and while my favourite era has always been WW2, the times of the slave trade and the Underground Railroad is fascinating and intense, and I believe, an utterly important time to read about.

Looking Forward To: Re-reading The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami for my Calgary book club. I first read this book over ten years ago, and while I remember loving it, I don’t actually remember anything about it, so a re-read is definitely in order. I’m also looking forward to reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (just picked up a copy at the thrift store), and Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt, the next installment in my online book club! 

Keep track of what Brie is reading on Goodreads.



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

books & babes


You remember Becky and Brie, right? Ok good. Today kicks off the first of our bi-monthly (as in every two months…so strange a word can mean twice a month or every two months) series re-capping what we’re reading, our favourite of the lot, and which one(s) we’re looking forward to. In the summer we’ll add beach reads and before Christmas, picks for gifts. 

Allison: I was doing really well at finishing a book a week until last week; I was tired, cranky, and honestly preferred an episode (or three) of Nashville on Netflix to reading. Or maybe cracking open my first Hemmingway novel was intimidating. Either way, Ernest is still on the nightstand and I have a sinus infection which is making focusing on reading really, really hard.


Favourite: Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life, Kelsey Miller. I loved it. I’ve been following Kelsey’s Refinery 29 column, The Anti-Diet Project, for a few years now and her book was even better (I can not say the same for Field Guide, also a biography by a columnist, I did not like the writing style at all).

I’m in year 20-something of a long-standing, seemingly never ending, feud with my body. It loves dairy and carbs and I hate it. It loves to hold on to pounds and I hate it. It’s refreshing to read something so honest that wasn’t “solved” with a can-do attitude, extra time in the gym, and carrot sticks for lunch. While that works for some people (go you! no, honestly, that’s awesome if it’s your thing), it’s not me. I do not have a can-do attitude about anything and having the lowest of low self-esteems I detest the gym. There’s a chapter about mindlessness (or the positive, mindfulness) and how Kelsey filled every second of her day with distractions (internet, podcasts, music, tv, reading) as to not have to be alone with her thoughts. That was terrifying and eye-opening. That’s what I do. I fill up every second of my day: iTunes or a DVD series while I work, more music while I prep dinner, TV or Netflix in the evening, and if I can’t sleep, more music. Silence was (IS) my enemy, and honestly, even though I’m aware of it, I’m not ready to turn off the noise/distractions just yet. 

Looking forward to: In a twist of fate every book on my to-read list is currently available at the library. With all the rave reviews I’m thinking The Light Between Oceans. My list includes: The Paris Affair, The War That Saved My Life (thanks Brie), The Invisible Bridge, The Nightingale, and All the Light We Cannot See. Maybe try Hemmingway again? I’m just going to cry myself through February and March, aren’t I? Gotta get the serious ones out of the way now because I refuse to read heavy material on vacation and I’m headed to Florida at the end of March. 

Becky: I’ve never really kept track of how fast (or slow) I read and how many books I read in a year. This year I decided that I would aim to read at least one book a month. So far I’ve already finished four and am well on my way to completing a fifth by the end of the month. Becky February

Favourite: It’s so hard choosing a favourite. It’s a toss up between both Gillian Flynn books and Yes Please. I think I will choose Yes Please this month. While the essays about her early career days weren’t as interesting (or funny) to me, the personal essays really touched me. The first 100 pages were the best, and this passage has really stayed with me since reading, “When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say, “Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.” Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would about one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.” 

Looking Forward To: I just started reading Can I Say, the memoir of Travis Barker, which I’m really excited to get into being a big Blink 182 and Travis Barker fan. I have a thing for biographies and memoirs. Side note: one time, I saw Travis and his kids in the lobby of a hotel room before a show in Edmonton. We’re basically best friends now. 

Brie: January started out really strong for me on the reading front, and I read some great books. February hasn’t been as kind to me. I chalk it up to my mom visiting so my husband and I got a few extra date nights which means less time to read in the evenings. Or maybe my last few book choices just weren’t as engaging? Here’s hoping for a better end to the month!Brie February

Favourite: Can I pick two? It was so hard to choose as I read two amazing books in January, but they were both from completely different genres . If I have to pick, then I’m going with The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. This is a heartbreaking and beautiful story about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who’ve suffered several miscarriages and a stillbirth. When a baby shows up in a rowboat, the couple makes decisions that will impact their lives and those around them, more than they ever could have imagined.  A truly captivating story, and one that will stick with you for a long, long time once that last page is turned.  Keep a box of tissues nearby!

Looking forward to: The hardest part for me, as an avid reader, is deciding what book to read next. My TBR (to-be-read) pile is always growing, and even when I think I have an idea of what I want my next book to be, there’s always a new one being added to the list! A few I’m hoping to tackle in the next month: Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben, The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom, and The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. Too many books, too little time, amiright?


What are you reading? See you in 2 months with another re-cap.

haaaave you met becky & brie?

I’ve (we’ve) been hinting at a new series for a few weeks…and it’s coming…next week. One week today. Get ready for…

(drum roll please)


Back in January, at the beginning of hibernation mode, I reached out to avid reader/blog friend Becky, she invited Brie, and now as a happy trio we’re eager to share what we’ve been reading and highlight the book we have especially loved over the past few months. 

You know me but if these names are new to you, let me introduce you to:

Becky, a working mom to an adorable toddler (side note: Liam and I share a love for bears), is a coffee addict with a love for fitness – leading a healthy lifestyle through yoga, running, Crossfit, obstacle racing and healthy eating – and her community – discovering the best local things to eat, see, and do. And Brie, a book lover, coffee drinker, toddler wrangler, and blogger – where she talks about weekend adventures, her fitness journey, motherhood, bookish love, and everything in between.


We’ll see you next Wednesday with what we’ve been reading and loving in January & February. 


ps: related to my not-so-secret secret talent of finding good deals; if you’re looking to save a few dollars at Starbucks and love flavoured lattes (like I do), get a drip coffee with pumps of flavoured syrup and save up for that free beverage.