April 2024: Round Up

My Favourite Trope Series: Reunited or Second Chance at Love

I want to share a bit more about one of my favourites: Reunited or Second Chance at Love

What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves…

March 2024: Round Up

Goodbye, March! Hello middle of April. You were full of busy days, both warm and cool, just like you’d expect from March. A gradual warming cooled by a big bout of snow. That’s okay, we’ve had a couple of very dry years and this winter didn’t change that. We need the moisture. That said, I’m sure glad it won’t be sticking around. But enough about the weather…

I’ve been keeping my New Year’s goal of always having flowers in the house. And of course we dyed eggs for Easter. Like I mentioned, we had a big dump of snow. I got a new baby. Another snake plant. I also repotted some plants. And March as been full of cozy lounge wear, including this sweatpant and sweatshirt combo from Hernest, a Canadian ethical and sustainable clothing company.

A good friend put together a delicious Anne of Green Gables themed lunch. It was a delectable mix of different dishes and, of course, there was raspberry cordial. My friend found recipes from Lucy Maud Montgomery online. Apparently Lucy Maud loved cooking and was very talented in the kitchen, much like my friend.

Until next time…

What is everyone most looking forward to in April?

February 2024 – Round Up

February is over. Hello, March. I have to say, I’m not sorry we are looking at January and February in the rearview mirror. It feels like a milestone and I have no idea how to explain the relief of welcoming longer days and shorter nights.

February was a mix of trying to get out, celebrating Valentine’s Day, and doing a little crafting. We have watched a lot of cooking shows. We’re new fans of Chopped, which we’ve never watched before now. I’m definitely in a reading slump, but I think that has to do with my ability to focus. As a library user, luckily I can just return books if they don’t immediately draw me in.

I did manage to read Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon which I’ll review next week.

I started listening to Mistletoe Murders, Book 1 by Ken Cuperus and Narrated by Cobie Smulders and others on Audible. It’s excellent but I have had zero time to put headphones in and listen to anything.

My goal for 2024 was to always have flowers in the house and so far I’ve managed to keep it. So, win.

I haven’t done much fiction writing. I’ve been busy applying for funding to help support our daughter. But I cleaned up my office. For some reasons book titles have been running through my head this last month. I had thought the working title work my book was Just About Perfect but 8 Jasper Street has taken over. I love the simplicity of it.

Here’s to March days which sometimes cling to winter while others melt like spring.

Until next time…

June 2023: Some Romance Book Recommendations by Saskatchewan Romance Writers

I’m putting together this post as I listen to Mary Balogh‘s interview on the Fated Mates podcast. I highly recommend listening to it. Mary is so well spoken, so talented, and very passionate about the romance genre. She’s also a friend and a fellow member of my writing group. So, needless to say, this post is taking forever to write because I’m distracted by listening to one of my favourite writers, Sarah MacLean, talk writing with Mary.

Mary Balogh Regency Romance

Annette Bower Contemporary Romance

Donna Gartshore Love Inspired Romance

Jana Richards Contemporary Romance

Ryshia Kennie Romantic Suspense

Until next time…

Happy reading! I’m always looking for book recommendations, so feel free to share yours!

Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve ordered the turkey from a local grocer. I shopped for the rest of the food on ten percent Tuesday. By accident, but still. I’m feeling very organized. It feels like forever since I’ve hosted a holiday meal and I’m very excited about the whole business of setting out a feast.

My Go To Roast Turkey Recipe:

This cookbook, Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step, is over twenty years old. So, I guess you could say it’s vintage. The photos are certainly dated. But the recipes are still awesome. And you get basic step by step visual instructions. It’s one of my favourite cookbooks.

It’s true that in Canada British explorer Martin Frobisher held a thanksgiving feast in Newfoundland 1578 with salted beef and mushy peas so thankful was he for being alive after a failed attempt to discover the Northwest Passage, but Indigenous peoples have held fall harvest celebrations for thousands of years before the first settlers arrived. And no doubt they were tastier too.

Our big dinner is tomorrow, so I’ll be stuffing a turkey and mashing potatoes. There will be carrots and salad and buns. And linens on the dining room table. There will be cranberry sauce and dessert.There will be stories, old and new, told as we sit shoulder to shoulder at the table. If necessary, I’ll steer the talk away from politics. We’ll be together and we’ll hold the ones not able to make it in our hearts.

From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

Until next time…

Turkey? Ham? Roast cauliflower? What’s your go to fancy feast dinner?

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.

How Is It The End of June Already?

Is anyone else panicking at the thought of summer flying by too fast? I know I am. I also know that’s a sign I’m not living in the moment or being mindful. But there’s just so much stuff happening and I want to make sure I pack it all in, you know?Which means June has been busier than I’d like or would normally plan for.

That’s because we made the big decision to fill in our underground pool. A pool that had SO MANY great memories. But it wasn’t getting as much use as it once did and it needed major repairs. It was quite the process. And.. now it’s a giant garden. Our first tempt at growing vegetables on this scale. Things are sprouting…

Will do an update in July.

I’m determined to get out golfing more this year. Any other golfers out there? love being outside, I love walking, I love spending time with my husband. I enjoy the game. I’m bad at it. But I’m working at being okay with that. To that end, I don’t keep score. I take mulligans. A LOT of mulligans. And I quit when I’m not having fun anymore.

June is also National Indigenous History Month

If you’re wondering how to celebrate, or looking for a way to connect and learn, The McKenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan) is currently hosting a stunning exhibition: Radical Stitch. Showcasing work from 48 artists, it is one of the most significant exhibitions of Indigenous beading in North America.

Radical Stitch Exhibition

It was a incredible experience and I highly recommend checking it out. So many distinct styles (floral, geometric, abstract, and others) that showcase the importance of beading to Indigenous peoples. But also how deeply personal, labour intensive, and complex the art of beading is.

“So to be a bead artist in this moment in time, it’s a radical act as Indigenous people and coming from cultures where colonial governments attempted to halt this practice, because in so many ways it was our strength. Radical Stitch recognizes it’s a radical act.”

Cathy Mattes, guest curator of the exhibit

My Top Favourite Reads by Indigenous Writers:

Until next time…

I’d love to know what you did in June? Have any big projects on the go? Are you trying something new?

*The top photo was taken on Mother’s Day at the McKenzie Art Gallery. FYI: Currently the first Sunday of every month are reserved for visitors who require increased safety protocols because of COVID-19.

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.

Appetizers and 80s Movies

We like to keep things interesting. So, this spring and summer season, we decided Friday nights will dinner (in the form of appetizers) followed by an 80s movie.

We started with Flashdance. And a charcuterie board. Yummy!

Believe it or not, this 80s girl had never watched Flashdance. But like every other 80s girl, I owned a version of the grey iconic oversized, falling-off-the-shoulder sweatshirt. You know the one.

Spoiler Alerts Head.

So the plot.

This movie is an 80s era Cinderella tale. Parentless, eighteen year old Alex lives on her own, works two jobs, and dreams of being a prima ballerina. She has no formal training but she’s incredibly talented and dances at night as an exotic dancer at a bar/nightclub. When she’s not dancing, she working her day job as a welder. She also rides her bike all over Pittsburgh. Of course, she falls for her divorced boss, who’s also somewhat young, and very handsome. And successful. Most of the non-dancing scenes follow their budding relationship.

Does it stand the test of time?

The music is awesome. The cinematography is fantastic. The dancing is fabulous. Kind of like a music video. Because, hello, 80s. Other than that, it’s what happens when a man tries to write a romance headlining a strong female character. We end up with a teenager sleeping with her boss. Said boss also secures her the coveted dance audition behind her back. Takes his ex-wife to a function instead of her. But don’t worry it didn’t mean anything, please don’t be mad at me. Here, look, we’ll have more sex and everything will be okay.

Warning; Also includes racial slurs and exploitation of women.

This whole idea of watching retro movies, besides loving the 80s, was inspired by one of my favourite podcasts.

I Hate It But I Love It

Hateful optimists and loving pessimists Kat Angus and Jocelyn Geddie break down movies and TV shows that they totally despise… but also really adore at the same time.

Warning: If you don’t care for swear words this is not the podcast for you! But it’s also funny, smart, and talks about pop culture in a way that’s brilliant and appealing.

Until next time…

Any favourite, and easy, appetizer suggestions? Movie recommendations? I’d love to hear them!