I grew up on a farm in the middle of Canada's breadbasket. Under the canopy of crisp blue prairie skies I read books. Lots and lots of books. Occasionally, I picked up a pen and paper or tapped out a few meagre pages of a story on a keyboard and dreamed of becoming a writer when I grew up. One day the inevitable happened and I knew without question the time was right. What to write was never the issue - romance and the gut wrenching journey towards forever.
Highlights have been the slightly cooler temperatures. It was a hot summer, which was wonderful, but cooler is always a relief come September. It’s also been a month of great books, of digging in flowerbeds, and getting out and about.
Highlight fo the Month:
Hearing Jennifer Podemski tell her story as part of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum‘s Solistice Speaker Series was the highlight of my month. She spoke her truth about being an Indigenous person trying to find her way in the entertainment industry. Listening to how she is working to create more opportunities and breakdown stereotypes was incredibly inspiring.
Her latest project is Little Bird and you can stream it on Crave.
Bezhig Little Bird was adopted into a Jewish family at the age of five, being stripped of her identity and becoming Esther Rosenblum. Now in her 20s, Bezhig longs for the family she lost and to fill in the missing pieces. Her quest lands her in the Canadian prairies where she discovers that she was one of the generation of children forcibly apprehended by the Canadian government through a policy, later coined the 60s Scoop.
Remembering the children. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day) is Saturday, September 30, 2023. You can find out more about the impact of residential schools, the children who never came home and survivors from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
For those of you who want the opposite of last week’s book recommendation. Follow the Swallow Home by Annette Bower falls solidly in the gentle romance genre.
Published: 2023 Soulmate Publishing
Categories: Contemporary Romance / Small Town Romance / Gentle Romance
At a crossroads, Keanna Dixon packs her car and hits the road. She stops in the small town of Regina Beach, where she pitches her tent after deciding to stay awhile. At twenty-five she’s ready to put down roots and this little town may be the perfect place to do it.
Keith Campbell, at thirty, is happy with his independent life. Computers are his playground, racquetball his sport, and his thoughts are not concerned about love or family. But with the unexpected responsibility of caring for his five-year-old deaf nephew, he finds himself on a ranch, because of a pony.
Keith knows all about apps and blogs, and he hopes his research will assist him in showing Keanna that he is her home.
The story revolves around Gerry, a young boy who has lost his hearing and who is grieving the loss of his father. When his mother is called back into service and sent overseas, his Uncle Keith steps in to look after him. He meets Keanna, who has experience within the deaf and hard of hearing community, when his nephew starts to feel overwhelmed and she offers to help them adjust to new circumstances.
The main characters, Keanna, Keith and Gerry are well developed and you really get to know who they are. Keanna and Keith have different approaches to solving challenges. But they listen to each other and they find a way to work together. The quaint resort town of Regina Beach is the perfect setting and a lovely look at life in a rural Saskatchewan. You are introduced to many examples of this as Keanna and Keith get to know each other.
Follow the Swallow Home fits perfectly into the gentle romance genre. You find tenderness in the timely arrival of a little teddy bear that gives Keanna someone to talk to as she searches for connection within the small town. You find it in sticky notes Keith places around their rooms to help his little nephew. You find it the baking of cakes, and the offering of apples to horses, and in all the little things this community does to take care of each other. It’s what you find within the pages of an Annette Bower book. Gentle stories about real people connecting with each other and their surroundings. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
It’s the first day of fall! Who’s happy to see the season change? I’m definitely looking forward to slightly cooler temperatures.
I haven’t read many thrillers lately. But I was offered this ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press and because I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump I decided to mix it up.
*This isn’t my usual book recommendation. This is definitely a thriller/mystery. It involves an investigation into a teenager’s murder. So, if that’s not your thing…
Published: October 31, 2023 by St. Martin’s Press
Categories: Thriller / Suspense / Mystery
One girl murdered…another one missing…and a medical examiner desperate to uncover the truth in When I’m Dead, the latest Black Harbor mystery by acclaimed author Hannah Morrissey.
On a bone-chilling October night, Medical Examiner Rowan Winthorp investigates the death of her daughter’s best friend. Hours later, the tragedy hits even closer to home when she makes a devastating discovery—her daughter, Chloe, is gone. But, not without a trace.
A morbid mosaic of clues forces Rowan and her husband to question how deeply they really knew their daughter. As they work closely to peel back the layers of this case, they begin to unearth disturbing details about Chloe and her secret transgressions…details that threaten to tear them apart.
Amidst the noise of navigating her newfound grief and reconciling the sins of her past, an undeniable fact rings true for Rowan: karma has finally come to collect.
I was immediately absorbed by this atmospheric page turner. Holy Moley. Black Harbor reminds me of Gotham City. It has that kind of vibe. The story is told from three points of view: Rowan who’s the medical examiner; Axel, a homicide detective and Rowan’s husband; and Libby, the awkward teenager who lives next door.
The night of the high school play, a teenage girl is found murdered. Rowan and Axel are called to the scene only to find the victim is their daughter’s best friend. Things escalate when they realize their daughter is also missing. What follows is a desperate search along a twisted path for their daughter as well as answers to unexpected revelations that come to light.
This book never lets up. Rowan and Axel are thrown into crisis mode and become unreliable narrators of sorts. That’s where Libby comes in. You never know what’s up with her but her perspective gives you a different take on the action and gives you a break from the turmoil enveloping Rowan and Axel.
Overall, it’s a gripping thriller with lots of dark twists and turns. The setting sets the tone. The well done characterizations bring the drama. It’s the perfect book to read come October 31st. Definitely check it out if it’s your jam.
Until next time…
What is it about fall that makes you want to read something a little more atmospheric?
Quick little check in today. Time has gotten away from this week. I’m trying to get some kind of fall routine going.
I wanted to share some of my inspiration for my hero, Ridge Bennett. A landscaper with a heart of gold and a troubled past who’s looking to reconnect with his teenage daughter. The hero and heroine in this book are forty years old and have been around the block, so to speak. Both of them are starting over from very different places. It’s been fun finding a middle ground where they can be together.
I’ve actually been in a reading slump lately and I can’t seem to find my way out of it. I don’t think it’s so much the books as it is my ability to concentrate. That’s because the writing is going well and when that happens I don’t really have room in my head for anyone else’s story but mine. Which is a could thing. That’s part of my process. I’ll likely switch from reading romance to something entirely different. Until then I did watch some movie adaptions of romance books in August.
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. I LOVED this book, which means, you guessed it, I did not love the movie. I liked the movie. But compared to the book, it’s just okay. Of course, there was no way to bring all the book had to the screen but they tried. It’s a nice, easy watch. You can find it on Netflix. But definitely pick up a Katherine Center book if you haven’t already. She’s my new auto buy author.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston. Another very popular book. I knew Amazon Prime was making the movie so I decided to read the book first. Confession: I didn’t finish it. Not because it wasn’t a great book but because it’s very much got a new adult feel to it and that’s just not my jam. But I enjoyed the movie version. Definitely check it out, if you’re interested.
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. So…another new adult story. I didn’t bother trying to read the book this time. Also, I remember when it came out in 2011, some had problems with the nature of the main characters’ relationship.Travis was a real jerk and Abby kept forgiving his bad behaviour. I’ve read that the movie version makes significant changes that improve their relationship’s dynamic. I have to say, it worked. I really enjoyed it. Out of the three movies I’ve listed, it’s my favourite when I expected the opposite. Both the main actors did a great job. It was funny. Sometimes, cringingly. But it had some serious moments too. I would recommend it. Amazon Prime.
Here’s to romance book movie adaptions! We need more of them while we wait impatiently for Bridgerton Season 3.
Until next time…
What’s everyone else been watching? I need recommendations!
August is winding up, which is giving me have all the end of summer feels. But it’s not pumpkin spice season yet. Don’t get me wrong, I love autumn. But I’m not ready to embrace all the wonders autumn brings. So, here’s hoping for a lovely September.
Not included is a photo of the best ice cream cone I’ve had in a long, long time. It was Raspberry Macaroon (Vegan) in a waffle cone from Village Cream in Calgary. Oh my word. Delicious.
I spent a few days in Calgary visiting my sister and her family. We packed a lot of goodness into our visit. From a visit to a delightful boutique romance bookstore, Slow Burn Books, to a Fibre Arts Exhibit, Entwined and Entangled, at the Leighton Art Centre, We dined at Merchants in the Marda Loop area. My nephews are fifteen and twelve and they have a family tradition of playing a simple but lively card game called Anomia when they go out for dinner. No one looked at their phone once. Of course, we fit in a game of Scrabble.
We went the theatre to watch the Barbie movie. it was as awesome as everyone is saying! Highly recommend. We watched Red, White and Royal Blue based on the popular romance novel by Casey McQuiston. (Amazon Prime). Loved it. Recommend. We watched Fisk (Netflix). So funny! Definitely check it out and see if it might appeal.
Harvest is in full swing, kids are getting ready to go back to school. It’s the time of cooler evenings and backyard fires. Tan lines will begin to fade and the leaves will start to turn. Until then, I’ll be soaking up the last month of summer. Going to the pool, golfing, eating all the market garden produce, and praying the frost holds off for a few more weeks.
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.
She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.
Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.
Look, if you’re looking for pure entertainment and escapism, this is the book for you. The action starts on page one and doesn’t let up until the last page. Also be warned, it ends on a cliffhanger. There will be five books in this series with the next one coming out in November this year. Thank goodness!
I loved it. I wish I could erase it from my memory and have the chance to read it again for the first time. I’ll probably read it again anyway. And I don’t do that often. There’s just something about this damn book. I don’t read young adult or new adult at all anymore. I avoid books written in first person point of view. (I’ve got to narrow things down somehow. There’s a lot of books out there.) This book is both those things. Like I said, I read it because of the hype.
But I love Violet. She’s smart and kind. She doesn’t blindly follow the rules. She doesn’t break them without cause either. Xaden. He’s ruthless. But he’s fair. And he’ll do anything to protect the people entrusted to his care, which is the sexiest thing ever. Also, anyone who knows me well, knows my favourite trope is enemies to lovers. Check. Violet and Xaden don’t like each other, they don’t trust each other. For very good reasons. But their chemistry is off the charts.
The dragons. There’s nothing kind or gentle about them. Their loyal to each other first. The place second. Their rider third. If the rider manages to earn it. If they don’t, they die. But there are a lot of ways to die in this book. Too many to count. Just like the tagline states: Ride…or die. It’s got strong Hunger Games and Divergent vibes. So, if you don’t enjoy that kind of thing…well, this might not be the book for you. But if you want to take a chance and have a summer fling with a book you might not normally read, this would be the book to pick. If you can find it. It’s selling out all over the place. Highly recommend!
It was time. Helen Carpenter knew that. Thirty-two and divorced for a year, Helen knew it was time—past time—to pull herself together. She needed to do something wild and adventurous and completely out of character. Which is why she signed up for a wilderness survival course in Wyoming.
Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen Carpenter’s well-behaved life: three weeks in a remote mountain range where she will survive a summer blizzard, a group of sorority girls, rutting season for the elk, and more than one infuriating man. Yet, despite the hardships and the indignities, the mountains bring their own wisdom to Helen’s life, somehow teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for yourself. How being scared can make you brave. How the things you hold on to become the story of your life. And, maybe most of all, how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you even have a hope of being found.
I loved The Bodyguard by Katherine Center. Read my review here. I noticed that they were making one of her early books, Happiness for Beginners, into a Netflix movie and I wanted to read it before I watched it. There is so much to love about this book. The characters, both main and secondary. Oh my gosh, Duncan, the younger brother! The setting. Hello wilderness camping, which I would never do. The healing and the humour. It tugs at the heartstrings and makes you laugh in equal measure. And the older heroine, younger hero is one of my favourite tropes. I’m guessing there are very few us who haven’t felt like we’ve been figuratively lost in the wilderness. Or who’ve found ourselves feeling one step behind or feeling out of step while everyone is marching forward. It’s sweet and funny, but it’s the depth of story that makes it a winner. Highly recommend.
There is something about looking at summer night skies that makes me prone to wondering and wanting to read science fiction! I remember back to camping when our children were young and staying a regional campground out in the middle of nowhere beside a small lake with very little light pollution. The sky at night was stunning. So much happening up there, which always make a person wonder…
Published: February, 2022
Categories: Romance / Action/Adventure / Science Fiction / Space Opera
Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and bitter adversary. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.
There’s just one catch: with so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.
But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. Because this time, her heart is on the line.
If you loved the show Firefly, definitely dating myself here, you’ll love Hunt the Stars. This story is the kind of enemies to lovers story I love. They’re on opposite sides but mutual respect is present in any and all types of communication. Being enemies doesn’t mean the two main characters have to be antagonistic towards each other all the time. I mean, it can! And those stories are great too. But when they respect each other’s abilities and put the job first and actually act like adults to get the job done, then that’s my catnip. My other catnip is badass heroines who are kind and nurturing. They know how to win a fight and then some, but they’re good at other things too. You don’t have to chip away forty layers of pent up hostility to find out they have a heart.
And then there was the world building. It pulled me right in and gave me a complete picture of what the world looked like for this story. So many much needed details about how everything functions. I could picture it perfectly.
There’s plenty of action/adventure, lots of steamy romance, and centers around another of my other favourite tropes – close proximity. It’s clever and it’s entertaining and I definitely recommend it.