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Showing posts from 2014

Year in Review

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2014 is coming to a close, another year that seems to have gone by way too fast.  What can we do but enjoy each and every day as it comes?

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Last year my reading was pretty eclectic, this year feels less so.  When I look at the numbers I see that 1/3 of the books I read were Chick Lit and 1/4 of the books I read were Canadian.  The rest is pretty eclectic but this year certainly did feel pretty chick lit heavy, mostly because I read only that genre during the summer and a big chunk of Christmas chick lit in November and December.

Popular Posts My most popular posts this year were:

Top Ten Books of 2014
Wait For It: The Legen-dary Story of How I Met Your Mother by Jesse McLean
Deathbed Dimes by Naomi Elana Zener
Prada and Prejudice by Katie Oliver
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The Guestbook by Holly Martin
How to Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake
Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia
All The Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
Stats Canada: Satire on a National Scale by @stats_canada
Ki…

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging Resolutions

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week is all about resolutions, since it is the start of a New Year.  In my life, I'm not much of a resolution person but for blogging, it's a good fit because I started my blog at a new year.  Last year, my resolution was to use more social media and I definitely using by myTwitter and Instagram accounts much more.  And it's fitting now that I've completed five years of blogging that I make a full list of resolutions for the new year!
1. More CanLit - one of my goals with this blog was to read more CanLit and year by year I have been reading more.  Which is a good thing.  But this year, I really want to go for it.  I'm hoping that it will be a large focus of my blog.
2. More Diverse Books - this year was a big one in the book world with the We Need Diverse Books discussion.  And I've always been "ok" with diversity in my reading, but this year, in an important year and when I reso…

Best of 2014: Screen Edition

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Even though I spend a lot of my time reading, I also spend a good amount of time watching movies and TV. So in the spirit of year-end lists, I thought I’d share my favourite non-bookish entertainment of 2014.
Television

Happy Valley (BBC and Netflix) - I just finished watching this one after discovering that it was #1 on many “Best of” lists from Britain this year.  It is a fascinating crime show, set over 6 hour-long episodes, that involves a kidnapping plot and the effects the drug-trade can have in small towns.

The Wrong Mans (BBC and Hulu) - A comedy/drama about two bumbling guys who unwittingly find themselves caught up in an international conspiracy.  It may sound like it’s already been done, but trust me, this is it done right.  Best when binge-watched.
Black-ish (ABC) - One of three shows I actually sit down to watch each week when it airs, this one surpassed my expectations.  What I like about it is, while race is a central premise, it doesn’t focus solely on that.  And the epi…

"The Charm Bracelet" by Melissa Hill

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Every charm bracelet tells a story and this is especially true for Holly O’Neill.  Years ago she was mysteriously sent one with just one charm attached and over the years she has received more charms, coming at her most challenging times.  It’s almost as though the person who is sending them knows exactly what she needs.
When Holly finds a lost charm bracelet, knowing how much hers means to her, she knows that she must reunite it with its owner.  But the only way she can find the owner is by using each charm as a clue.  Soon, her search has her heading all over New York City at Christmas time.  And as Holly gets closer and closer to the owner, it also leads her toward something she will never expect. 
The Charm Bracelet, by Melissa Hill, is a lovely festive read about the magic of Christmas.  You can just picture the lights and the snow falling all around Holly as she puts her faith in the romance of the season.
I’ve probably mentioned it before but if you’re a fan of romantic reads, …

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books of 2014

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Choosing my top ten books of 2014 was pretty easy, I just searched out which books I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads.  I'm pretty tight when it comes to giving out the full 5 stars, so it means I absolutely loved these books.

1. The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown 2. One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin 3. The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter 4. One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin 5. A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby 6. Mansfield Lark by Katie Oliver 7. Prada and Prejudice by Katie Oliver 8. Landing Gear by Kate Pullinger 9. The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley 10. Radiance of Tomorrow of Ishmael Beah
Did any of these books make your top ten this year?  What books would you choose for your list?

"Meet Me Under the Mistletoe" by Abby Clements

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Laurie and Rachel were inseparable growing up but as they became adults their lives took two very different paths.  Laurie is a dedicated career-girl, living and working in London, with very little time for much else.  Rachel is living in a beautiful cottage in Yorkshire, spending her days caring for her family, though she worries that her marriage may be in trouble.
When Rachel’s mother-in-law falls ill, the family has to head to London for her treatment.  And when Laurie makes a major mistake at work, she decides that it is probably best she get away from it all for a bit.  They come up with a plan to swap houses in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  But as we all know, life doesn’t always go as planned.  Will their relationships be able to survive the holidays and most importantly, will they make it home in time for Christmas?
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is the first novel by chick-lit writer Abby Clements, who has since written three more novels.  Told in alternating chapters bet…

"Make My Wish Come True" by Fiona Harper

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Juliet has always strived to be the perfect mother and that especially goes at Christmastime.  Homemade baked goods for the teachers, a nicely decorated house, and a festive feast for family and friends, she does it all.  But since her marriage broke down two years ago, Christmas has become much more difficult for her.  So this year she is turning to her sister Gemma for help.
Gemma, the favourite daughter, the free-spirit, the one with the glamourous job, the one who avoids responsibility, isn’t looking forward to another Christmas at home.  So when she visits her sister before the holiday, she announces that she is jetting off to the Caribbean for some alone time.
When Juliet realizes that her sister is abandoning her once again, she snaps.  And there is only one way that Gemma can fix this.  She offers to swap Christmases - she’ll stay home with the kids and Juliet can head off for some fun in the sun.  
Throw in a hunky next-door neighbour and a sexy Italian also on vacation and …

"Hitting the Right Note" by Rhonda Bowen

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JJ Isaacs has always dreamed of becoming a star and now, as she goes out on tour as a back-up singer for R&B superstar Deacon Hill, her dream just might come true.  Deacon sees JJ’s potential, and so does Rayshawn, JJ’s manager and producer - and secret boyfriend.  But the more success she finds on stage, the harder it becomes for her to stay true to her faith.
While JJ is on tour, her sister-in-law Sheree is struggling through a difficult pregnancy back in Toronto.  But she knows that she can count on doctor Simon Massri to take good care of Sheree.  What JJ doesn’t expect is that she’ll soon find Simon taking care of her.  As JJ struggles to deal with her feelings for Simon, her flailing faith, and her impending stardom, she finds herself having to make a tough decision - love or career?
Hitting the Right Note is Rhonda Bowen’s fourth novel and it is a lovely, Christian novel that will transcend the religious genre and strike the right chord with readers of all walks of life.
Th…

"Difficult Husbands" by Mary de Laszlo

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Three women, three very difficult marriages.  Lorna is newly divorced, her ex-husband Stephen having run off to be with a woman half his age.  Gloria is married to alcoholic Adrian, whose drinking is driving their adult son away.  And Rosalind is married to Ivan, a man who would rather rescue teenage girls and bed their social workers in the process.  Three women in their forties who all married older men.  Three women who are starting to regret their choice in men.
When Lorna inherits a grand, but crumbling, estate in Sussex from her godfather, the women hatch a plan.  Ditch their husbands at Ravenscourt House for a few days at Christmas, so the girls and their children can have a stress-free holiday for once.  But things never seem to go as planned.
Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo is a touching Christmas novel that looks at just how much a woman can stand when it comes to "for better or for worse."
Sigh.
I wanted to like this novel, I really did.  I loved the premise …

"Miracle on Regent Street" by Ali Harris

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Evie Taylor works in the stockroom of a family-run, London department store.  You would think that this would lead to a glamorous life but for Evie, it is quite the opposite.  Even though she has been in London for the last two years, her neighbours think she’s new and her manager at work doesn’t know her name.  But she loves her job working in the beautiful old building, in a place of days gone by.
One day Evie overhears a conversation and learns that if the store can’t turn things around by December 26th, then it will be sold to a big chain.  That gives the store only three weeks, it would definitely need a Christmas miracle to pull it off.  And so Evie comes up with a secret plan to transform the store and bring back the glory it once had.
Miracle on Regent Street, by Ali Harris, is a fun novel that captures the spirit and magic of Christmas.  Following a young girl in a big city who gets swept up in the miracle of the season, the book is perfect for anyone looking for a sweet, fes…

Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Book Releases

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
I love this time of year, seeing everyone's lists of books being released in the coming year, going through publisher catalogues, making my own lists, and getting excited about upcoming releases.  This is my time of year for planning and it is so much fun.  For some reason this year, I haven't found too many resources for upcoming books, especially CanLit.  Hopefully that will change today.  But here are ten books I'm really looking forward to:
1. China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan 2. Funny Girl - Nick Hornby 3. The Royal We - Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan 4. The Vintage Girl’s Guide to Love and Romance - Kirsty Greenwood 5. Always the Bridesmaid - Lindsay Kelk 6. An untitled book from Kunal Nayyar 7. Why Not Me - Mindy Kaling 8. Marrying Mr. Darcy series - Katie Oliver 9. Hungry Ghosts - Peggy Blair 10. The Year of Taking Chances - Lucy Diamond
What books are you looking forward to in 2015?

Two Holiday Novellas from Lucy Diamond

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Evie is looking forward to a romantic and stress-free Christmas with her boyfriend Ed at their little beach café in Cornwall.  Everything is shaping up for it to be the perfect day for the new couple.  
That is until Ed’s wayward brother shows up unannounced and ready to stay a while.  Then Evie’s best friend finds herself needing to escape the spotlight so she arrives as well.  And since Evie won’t be home for Christmas, her parents decide to surprise her by showing up.  All of a sudden, Evie and Ed are putting up four extra people in their two bedroom flat above the café.

Tempers flare and disasters occur and very quickly Evie finds herself trying to do whatever she can to salvage her perfect Christmas in Christmas at the Beach Café.

After the hectic Christmas Evie and Ed had last year, they are looking forward to giving a romantic Christmas another go.  All they want are lazy days spent in the flat, just the two of them.
But Evie’s sister Ruth has had the heartbreak of a lifetime …

Month In Review

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If there was one major theme in my reading this month, it's Christmas!  I read quite a lot of festive Chick Lit and absolutely enjoyed it.  It definitely got me in a wintery mood, now I just need the snow to start falling!

Here is what I read in November, with Goodreads ratings:

One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin *****
The Great Christmas Knit-off by Alexandra Brown *****
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill ****
Christmas at the Beach Café by Lucy Diamond ****
Christmas Gifts at the Beach Café by Lucy Diamond ****
A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale ****
The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver ****
Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café by Rebecca Raisin****
Pastoral by André Alexis ****
Waiting For the Man by Arjun Basu ***

Challenges
Canadian Book Challenge (3), Diversity in Books (2), TBR Pile (0), Classics Club (0)

What I'm Looking Forward to in December
December is always a month of odds and ends for me reading wise.  Books I bought that I…

"The Great Christmas Knit-Off" by Alexandra Brown

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After being left at the altar, Sybil threw herself into knitting to cope with her heartbreak.  Her house is full of knitted goodies but other than that, her life is a mess.  And she may just be responsible for a major mix-up at work.  What Sybil needs is to get away for a little bit.  
Just a few weeks before Christmas, she sets off for the charming village of Tindledale, where her best friend Cher lives.  And it is there that she discovers the delightful Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, a store dedicated to knitting and needlecraft.  But Hettie, the store’s owner, is struggling and her nephew is doing everything he can to put her in a home and close down the shop.
When Hettie gives Sybil an opportunity to display her beautifully hand-knitted Christmas jumpers in the shop, the community responds in a positive manner.  And the ladies soon realize that together, they may just be able to save Hettie’s store.  All it will take is a bit of community spirit and a whole lot of yarn.
The Great…

"Family Furnishings" by Alice Munro

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I have a terrible confession to make.  I, Shan, lover of Canadian literature and really all things Canadian, have never read anything by Alice Munro.  That’s right, celebrated writer of stories that scream Canada, our first winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Alice Munro.  But I can proudly say that I am now able to change that statement.
Family Furnishings is the newest collection of short stories by Munro, twenty-four stories selected from the last two decades.  It is a companion volume to her previous Selected Stories (1964-1994.) At 640 pages, this is a book you will treasure and devour slowly.  Most short story collections you can read straight through, this is one you will spend a lot of valuable time with.
I’m a big fan of CanLit that takes you inside the treasury of quaint small-towns we have.  Munro situates most of her stories here, presenting a uniquely Canadian way of life.  Her writing is flawless and beautiful.  I was blown away by how consistent her stories are, e…

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week we are talking about Winter TBR's.  And I wanted to share all of the Christmas books I had on my TBR list this year.  In the past I've never really read many Christmas novels but last year we went on away to ski country for the winter holidays and I took a few Christmas chick-lit books with me.  The whole scene was perfect and I enjoyed the books so much so I thought this year I would read more.  And they are definitely getting me into the holiday spirit.  So here is my list (with links to the reviews I have already posted):
1.  A Proper Family Christmas - Chrissie Manby 2.  How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas - Fiona Gibson 3.  Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café - Rebecca Raisin 4.  Difficult Husbands - Mary de Laszlo 5.  One Hundred Christmas Proposals - Holly Martin 6.  Hello From the Gillespies - Monica McInnerney 7.  The Great Christmas Knit-Off - Alexandra Brown 8.  A Christmas to Remember - Jenn…

"One Hundred Christmas Proposals" by Holly Martin

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The last time we saw Harry and Suzie, he had set out on the mission to find the perfect proposal for Suzie, organizing one hundred proposals taking place around the world.  Suzie thought it was all just for their business, Perfect Proposals, but Harry was serious about marrying Suzie.  When we left them, they had just gotten engaged.
Now Harry and Suzie are back with a bigger task - organizing one hundred proposals in the month of December alone.  Add to this the task of planning their first Christmas together as a couple and a surprise visit from the parents, and they quickly find themselves wondering if their relationship can make it through the holidays in tact.
One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin is the delightful holiday novella to follow-up the incredible One Hundred Proposals.  Fans of the first book will be very excited to see what Harry and Suzie are getting up to following Harry’s incredible proposal.
I was so excited when I heard about this novella.  The first b…

"A Christmas to Remember" by Jenny Hale

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Carrie Blake loves her job.  As a nanny, she spends all day nurturing and playing with children.  But they are other people’s children.  In her thirties, she’s starting to feel the pain of not being able to share these wonderful moments with her own family.  She is about to take on one more job for the Christmas holiday and then her mission will be to find a new career and a love life.
Single-dad Adam Fletcher is handsome and successful, but he is always working.  And his children are missing out because of it.  Even though his children are with him for the holidays, work comes first, and so he hires a highly recommended nanny to care for the children.
When Carrie arrives at the Fletcher household, she is dismayed at what she sees. Polite, adorable children, who need more than what money can buy.  And so she sets out on a mission to make Adam see that it’s time for him to put his family first.  But what she doesn’t expect to happen is to find herself falling not just for the children…

"Pastoral" by André Alexis

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Father Christopher Pennant has been sent to his very first parish, the sleepy little town of Barrow, Ontario.  A town that has more sheep than people, it looks to be a great place to start out.  But for some people, Barrow isn’t as idyllic as it seems.  Elizabeth Denny is a young woman whose fiancé can’t choose between the sweet woman he is engaged to and the more worldly Jane.  Elizabeth turns to Father Pennant for advice, but he is dealing with a crisis of faith when he witnesses three miracles of nature, including a mayor who walks on water.  
Pastoral, by André Alexis, is a beautiful and simple novel that looks at the simplicity of rural life through a fresh lens.  Based on Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral, it is a definite stand out from the pack.  
This is a wonderful book to read, a book of simplicity yet with so much underneath, just like the town itself.  Alexis said that he wrote this as an ode to Lambton Country in Ontario, where he lived after immigrating to Canada…

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I Can't Wait to Get

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week is all about sequels, and since we're coming up on a new year I've got a list of books I can't wait to get.  But few of them are sequels.  There are definitely 5 books (actually 6, two are from the same series) that I'm absolutely looking forward to.
1. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan - the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, the book is about a woman who is about to marry Asia's most eligible bachelor.  I love reading about the incredible social circle these people travel in.
2. Marrying Mr. Darcy series by Katie Oliver - this is the follow up to the Dating Mr. Darcy series.  This one includes And the Bride Wore Prada and Love, Lies, and Louboutins.

3. A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby - the sequel to A Proper Family Holiday.  I loved the Benson family can't wait to see how things go with the introduction of a long-lost family member.
4. The Hungry Ghosts by Peggy Blair - the I…

"The Little Christmas Kitchen" by Jenny Oliver

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When sisters Ella and Maddy were young, their parents divorced and the girls were split up.  Ella grew up in London with their father and Maddy in Greece with their mother.  Over the years, the family grew apart, with the girls becoming two very different people.  But this Christmas, the family is going to be thrown back together.
When Ella finds out that her husband is cheating on her, she makes a quick escape to the only place she can think of, her mothers taverna in Greece.  Maddy is dreaming of a white Christmas and jets off to London to take a singing gig, but that leads her right into the path of her father.  It may seem like the sisters have done a life swap but it becomes much, much more.  As the girls each find themselves cooking up a storm in the others kitchen for Christmas, they find themselves coming to terms with the past.  And they both realize that the only thing missing this Christmas is each other.
The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver is a delightful novel ab…

"Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café" by Rebecca Raisin

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The snow is falling in Ashford, Connecticut, the Christmas holidays are here, and the wedding of the year is just around the corner!  Lily, owner of the Gingerbread Café, is planning the day of her dreams, a Christmas Eve wedding to her incredible fiancé Damon.
Everything is falling right into place….until her mother-in-law arrives.  Lily can’t figure out why but for some reason, Olivia doesn’t seem to want this wedding to take place.  Already stressed out from planning for the big day and dealing with the bustling festive activity at her café, this is definitely something she doesn’t need.  Will Lily make it down the aisle with her sanity in tact?
Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café is the deliciously festive third book in Rebecca Raisin’s Gingerbread Café series.  Set in a small village, this book is chock full of loveable characters, funny moments, and sweet treats.
I didn’t realize when I picked up this book that it is part of a series (I seem to be doing that a lot lately.)…