November 2022 Theatre Recommendation

This Sunday is Grey Cup. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the CFL (Canadian Football League), that means this weekend is the final game of the season. Now normally I don’t care about the sports. Sorry, not sorry. But my city is hosting this year, which means there are all kinds of events happening. None of which I’m attending, by the way. But it’s fun to absorb the atmosphere from enough degrees of separation.

However, Globe Theatre is back and this year’s first reproduction is paying homage to football in Saskatchewan.Yes, ’tis the season for theatre going. That I can get excited about. Last Sunday was our first time back and the Globe is putting on #34 by Munish Sharma which highlight’s the incredible, groundbreaking career of George Reed. Reed was a running back who played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 13 seasons from 1963 to 1975. So, if you’re here to watch the Grey Cup, you might like to buy a ticket to the show.

I found it interesting. I really loved the last fifteen minutes of the show. There was deeper level of depth there that I felt was maybe missing from the rest of the production. Although, that is probably because of my lack of interest in the game of football. I still found it very entertaining and I learned some things about the early days of the CFL and what life was like for the players. I came away with even more reasons to love George Reed, like his support of Special Olympics Saskatchewan.

Me and my Momma! Who knit the sweater she is wearing, which in my unbiased opinion is a piece of art!

Until next time…

What’s everyone else out and about doing? Or are you keeping close to home?

October 2022 Book Recommendation

This is the book I picked for October because, you know, Halloween. And it has vampires and werewolves and soulless humans (?) and the typical mortal kind. And they’ve found a way to co-exist in Victorian England. Mostly.

Soulless by Gail Carriger a combination of urban fantasy, victorian, romance, steampunk and mystery. I’ve never read anything like it. I enjoyed it. Alexia Tarabotti is an outspoken, sarcastic delight. She may have no soul but she’d got character in spades. Though I have to admit I had to do some backtracking. That doesn’t necessarily bother me, especially if it’s a genre I don’t regularly read. And there was a lot going on in this story. And a lot of characters. And layered world building to sort through. It’s not for everyone but if you’re curious definitely give it a try.

Here’s a sneak peek at a book I’m writing which may or may not have a ghostly character.

Until next time…

What’s everyone else reading? Anything spooky?

September Book Recommendation

It’s been an interesting week. Canada is a Commonwealth country, and the Queen’s death has taken over news cycles, not just here, but around the world. Here in Canada, Monday has been declared a federal holiday by the Prime Minister, which means federal employees get the day off. Otherwise, individual provinces are responsible for statutory holidays for other workers. In Saskatchewan, Monday has been proclaimed September 19 as a Day of Mourning but otherwise it is off to work.

I guess now makes it a good time to have read a regency romance about a widow and a Marquess? How’s that for an awkward segue? To Have and to Loathe by Martha Waters is a delightfully witty read. Waters style reminds me of Emily Henry’s books. I have a bit of a nitpick though. I feel like the title is a bit of a mislead. These two do not loathe each other. I’m not sure they even dislike each other that much. They disagree and they bicker and it’s highly amusing but that’s not the same thing. As a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, still worth the read for the dialogue alone. Just don’t expect any actual loathing. sigh. Also, not sure what that says about me…

Until next time…

Are you planning to watch the Queen’s funeral on Monday? I think I’ll pass. But I totally get why you might want to witness history.

August Book Recommendation

Well…it’s the middle of August. One sprained ankle and one bout of Covid later, I’m feeling almost myself again. On the bright side, the flowers are blooming, farmers’ markets are full of fresh produce, and the evenings are getting shorter. Perfect for sitting around the fire pit.

If you’re a fan of the Bachelorette, this book is for you. Even if you, like me, have never watch a single episode you might want to give it a chance. I’m not generally a fan of rom-coms. Or first person-point-of-view. But I really enjoyed this book.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London is full of heart with an intriguing cast of characters. If I’m being brutally honest, I can’t say as I ‘fell’ for any of the men, but I did fall for Bea Schumacher, a plus-size fashion blogger. I’ll pick up almost any book featuring a true plus-size heroine. Especially one who knows her own mind and who isn’t trying to lose weight. Hopefully, that trope is gone for good! Bea’s relationships with the men are messy, inspirational and vulnerable, and the author does an excellent job of debunking harmful and hurtful stereotypes.

Until next time…

Give me all your plus-size heroine/hero book recommendations, please!

July Book Recommendation

What’s summer without book recommendations? And I love recommending books. And I have no hesitation whatsoever about recommending Book Lovers by Emily Henry. Because I loved it!

Have you ever watched a Hallmark romance movie and wondered what happened to the cold-hearted, ambitious girlfriend ditched by her billionaire boyfriend after he fell in love the small town baker? Well, wonder no longer. Meet Nora Stephens. Her best heroine yet.

Books Lovers is full of Henry’s dry wit and way with dialogue. Oh my gosh, the witty repartee is so engaging. And funny. But so well done it doesn’t overtake or detract from the messy and complicated issues at the heart of a story that will tug at your heartstrings. There might not be a Christmas tree farmer in sight but there’s a book store in need of rescuing. And a hero you’ll fall in love with, just like the heroine.

Until next time…

Have you read any of Emily Henry’s other books? Do you have a book recommendation? Are you one of those who’s watching the Christmas in July movies on the Hallmark channel?

Book Talk Friday: Two Great Reads

I read some great books in April. Two of those came in the form of ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) from Netgalley and I loved them both! Every Summer After by Carley Fortune and When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee.

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Published: Penguin Random House (May 10, 2022)

Categories: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance / Canadian Author / Canadian Setting /

The Blurb:

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.
 
They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past. 

My Thoughts:

Every Summer After is Carley Fortune’s debut novel. It starts with the present then takes us back to summers in Barry’s Bay, Ontario. It’s no secret that I LOVE a Canadian setting, and there’s nothing better than summer in Canada. On Persephone Fraser’s first day at the lake, she meets the boy next door, Sam Florek.

Best friends and summer neighbours, Persephone and Sam lead separate lives during the school year. But during the summers they are inseparable, spending days an idyllic summer bubble. Until the reality of college and adulting sets in and decisions are made that can’t be undone. Twelve years later they meet again.

Whether you still dream of your first love, or have moved on and left it in the past, this book will speak to you. All the looks back will resonate. You’ll fall in love with Persephone and Sam and Barry’s Bay. I wish I could read it again for the first time. Highly recommend!

Bonus Book: When It all Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee

When It All Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee

Published: Montlake (Amazon Publishing) (June 21, 2022)

Categories: Contemporary Romance / Romance / Single Dad / Family Romance /

The Blurb:

A bittersweet romance about the power of love in the face of heartbreak and loss.

Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

My Thoughts:

This is my first time reading Catherine Bybee and it definitely won’t be my last. The first book in the D’Angelo series, When It All Falls Apart takes place in Little Italy in San Diego. There is enough heart, family and Italian food in this book to satisfy everyone. There is the relationship with Brooke and Luca, of course. But’s it’s also about what happens when relationships with parents are not only hard but heartbreaking. There is no such thing as the perfect family. It’s also true that family leaves scars that are hard to heal.

I loved the dialogue. I loved the setting. Who can resist a loud Italian family? But I also appreciated the honest look at what happens when it all falls apart. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one in the series. Definitely recommend.

Until next time…

Who else is looking forward to summer? I’d love some summer reading suggestions! Bonus points if they have a Canadian setting.

Book Talk Friday: Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

I love talking about books, but I especially love talking about books and authors who are favourites of mine. Sarah MacLean is an auto buy author for me and Bombshell is her newest release.

Bombshell: Hell’s Belles, Book 1 by Sara MacLean

Published: Harper Collins, August 24, 2021

Length: 400 pages

Categories: Romance / Historical Romance / Victorian Romance /

The Blurb:

After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss. 

Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk.

My Thoughts:

Who can resist a book in which a group of women are intent on setting right some of the wrongs committed against other women. Enter Sesily Talbot, who, along with three of her friends, spend their nights making sure the worst of the very privileged men of their acquaintance pay for their crimes. Sesily doesn’t care about her less than pristine reputation. Then again, she doesn’t have to, she’s rich in her own right. But she’s very much attracted to a man, who cares about his own. With good reason. He can’t afford for others to know too much about him. Or his past. That doesn’t stop Caleb from admiring, and very much wanting, Sesily Talbot, who also makes him want to yank his hair out one strand at a time.

What can I say? This is a bombshell of a book! Well developed characters, plenty of heat, beautiful writing, creative world building, as always. MacLean pulls back the curtain of privilege and aristocracy to show us the dark side of an age where the patriarchy reigned and infuses it with light, laughter, and bar brawls. Sesily is a force to be reckoned with and Caleb is the perfect foil to aid her in her schemes and desires.

Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop host Fated Mates, a fantastic romance novel podcast. Their latest episode talks about the top ten books that got them through 2021. Give it a listen and add some great books to your to-be-read pile.

I’ll be back next week with a list of my favourite books from 2021.

Until then…

What favourite reads got you through the mess and chaos of 2021?

Book Talk Friday: The Golden Couple

More thoughts on books. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Published: St. Martin’s Press

Available: March 8, 2022

Length: 320 pages

Categories: Fiction / Psychological Thriller / Domestic Suspense / Suspense

The Blurb:

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal–she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault–and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

My Thoughts:

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a domestic suspense story but I really enjoyed The Wife Between Us and I couldn’t wait for all the twists and turns this writing duo was sure to provide. I wasn’t disappointed. The story revolves around a marriage in trouble and an unconventional therapist. Few things are what they seem and a teetering tower of lies holds it all together.

Avery Chambers, a discredited therapist, promises to fix a client’s problem in ten sessions. Then the Bishops hire her to fix their marriage. She begins to change her mind once she gets to know them. They say all the right things but they have no interest in telling the truth. They reveal just enough of it to cover up the things they don’t want to be discovered. And Avery has other threats and problems to worry about. Somehow it all comes together in the end in with a bang.

This story makes very compelling reading. I couldn’t put it down.

Writing duos always fascinate me. I’m not sure how they do it. My approach is all over the place and I can’t imagine coherently explaining my thoughts well enough to co-author anything. Apparently, that wasn’t the problem for an interesting writing pairing about to release a book next Tuesday.

I’ll be reading this book. I won’t be able to resist the hype. The combination of Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton is to fascinating to resist and premise for State of Terror is very tempting.

Until next time…

I find domestic suspense, which often revolves around unreliable narrators and what is true and what is not, interesting reading. Having said that, I haven’t read one in awhile. What are your thoughts? I would love some Canadian author and Canadian setting recommendations.

Book Talk Friday: Hana Khan Carries On

Where I talk about books I’ve read and enjoyed. Especially if they’re written by a Canadian and set in Canada. This week I’m sharing my thoughts on Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin.

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Published: HarperAvenue 04/06/2021

Length: 368 pages

Categories: Fiction / Contemporary Romance / RomCom / Canadian Author / Canadian Canadian

The Blurb:

From the author of Ayesha at Last comes a sparkling new rom-com for fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” set in two competing halal restaurants

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. If you loved You’ve Got Mail, you’ll find many familiar parallels in this book. I loved the main characters, Hana and Aydin. Both passionate about their chosen paths, both equally invested in succeeding. There’s also plenty of colourful secondary characters to love too. All set in a vibrant neighbourhood in Toronto that comes alive because of the people trying to maintain and protect a sense of community.

There are plenty of rom-com moments that made me smile and gave me all the feels. But there are other moments. Ones that bring attention to the despicable acts of hatred and Islamophobia that continue to happen across this country. How Jalaluddin weaves together a story full of resilience, hope, and the power of love (all kinds) is the real magic of this book.

Uzma Jalaluddin is fast becoming a favourite author of mine. I’ve shared my thoughts on Ayesha at Last in this Book Talk post.

The other good news is that Hana Khan Carries On is being adapted into film by Mindy Kaling and Amazon Studios.

Jalaluddin is also contributing columnist the Toronto Star and her column is called Samosas and Maple Syrup.

Until next time…

Who loved Who’s Got Mail? Is Megan Ryan and Tom Hanks on of your favourite rom-com pairings? If not, who is?

Book Talk Friday: The Christie Affair

Heading into the weekend and sharing thoughts on books I’ve read. This week it’s The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont. I was lucky enough to receive a ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) from Netgalley for review.

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Published: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: 02/01/2022

Length: 320 Pages

Catagories: Fiction / Women’s Fiction / Mystery / Agatha Christie Disappearance / Inspired by True Events

The Blurb:

n 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.

I’m no Hercule Poirot.

I’m her husband’s mistress.

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

My Thoughts:

I’m probably one of the only people who hadn’t realized Agatha Christie infamously disappeared early on in her career or that no one knows what happened during those eleven days. This book details one of many possibilities. While the title suggests it’s about the Christies, but it’s really a fictional account of Archie Christie’s mistress, Nan O’Dea, her involvement with the Christie family, and is an intriguing take on might have happened.

There are definitely many unexpected twists and turns in this book that spans Nan’s life from young girl, her life during the 1st World War, until she becomes involved with Archie Christie. It’s an interesting look at life pre and post WWI and the insecurities women faced during that uncertain time. I admired Nan, even though I didn’t much like her. The same goes for Agatha Christie’s character. I definitely wasn’t a fan of her husband.

But, though the concept was entertaining, I couldn’t get past the narrative style which often led to confusion. It was the first person narrative intrusion in scenes that Nan could know nothing of that put me off and pulled me out of the story. Having said that, what bugs one reader will entertain another. This book will definitely be worth checking out when it becomes available in early 2022.

Until next time…

Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Did you, unlike me, know she’d infamously gone missing? Maybe you’re a mystery bluff? What are some of your favourites?