Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Faves

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love the spirit of the season, the kindness, the smiles. I love celebrating the birth of Christ, and I love giving and receiving presents. I love the decorations, the food, the family, the music, the movies. Basically I'm one of those people who are like, "I love everyone" except it's "I love everything Christmas!"

Here are some of my faves:

I could listen to Christmas music on repeat, though there are some songs that are kinda annoying (Twelve Days of Christmas, anyone?). My faves are the classics: Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, etc. But I especially- and this will come as no surprise- love Michael Buble's Christmas albums. He's the perfect mix of modern and classic, and I love his voice.

I can't pick just one favorite Christmas movie, there are too many. But one I love which is probably a bit underappreciated is CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. The movie is funny and cute and silly and I love the love story. Check it out if you've never seen it.

A new thing for me this year is Hallmark Christmas movies. I know a lot of people have been on this bandwagon forever, but I haven't jumped on until this year and it all started because I heard that one of my fave swoon-worthy actors was in a 2015 Hallmark movie called CROWN FOR CHRISTMAS. After watching that (and rolling my eyes yet crying at the same time), I decided to give some others a try. I only got to watch a few, but I'll definitely be giving Hallmark movies a go every year from now on.

I don't read a lot of Christmas books either, although I did give a couple a try. But I have to go with my all-time fave, THE GRINCH, of course. And I have a special place in my heart for THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, and SMALL ONE.

What are some of your Christmas favorites?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Read: The Chemist and The Forbidden Orchid

You'd think around the holidays that I would have more time to read. 


Christmas is in less than a week and I don't feel prepared at all. Actually, I'm almost there, it's just- it's been so busy that I haven't had the chance to just laze around and enjoy the season. Hopefully I'll be there by this weekend. Or, as lazy as an adult with four children who's also having company over for Christmas can be.

Anyway, so I only read two books these past couple of weeks. THE CHEMIST by Stephenie Meyer and THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID by Sharon Biggs Waller.

So, THE CHEMIST. Honestly, it took me about a hundred pages to get into this book. If it weren't for the fact that it's Stephenie Meyer and her books have yet to disappoint me, AND the fact that someone had recommended this to me and said they couldn't put it down, I probably would have quit in the first couple of chapters. I mean, it took twenty pages until there was even dialogue! 

Some people might not mind this, but I love dialogue and I really felt the lack. Besides, isn't it a rule that you shouldn't have more than what, three pages without dialogue, or something like that? She's Stephenie Meyer and she can obviously break the rules, but still. For me, there was WAY TOO MUCH detail, especially at the beginning, and not enough action. Once I did get into the book, though, I really enjoyed it. The MC was an interesting mix of clinical and cold yet still human- her character arc was excellent. And I felt the love story only added to the book- in fact it was my favorite part- rather than taking away from the plot. I especially loved the banter between the three of them. (See what I mean about dialogue?) Anyway, definitely a book to check out if you're a Meyer fan, just be prepared for the slow start.

Probably one of my fave books of 2015 was Sharon Biggs Waller's A MAD, WICKED FOLLY. So I eagerly picked up THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID. I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, but it's really more of a four and a half. (I rate up, because I'm nice like that.) I loved the book and only had two tiny complaints. One, the blurb of the book tells us that the MC is going to travel to China with her father. So I waited and waited for this to happen but it didn't happen until about 180 pages in. I really wanted this to happen sooner, with a little less lead-up. And two, the love story was SO AWESOME in parts, but then it got forgotten at times. There were times when she could've played it up but she didn't. 

Otherwise, it was a solid book that I loved and I still count Sharon Biggs Waller as one of my fave historical YA authors. 

What about you? Do you like dialogue? Does it take away from the book when there isn't much?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Reads

I rounded out the end of November with the last of a trilogy and two romances.

Myra McEntire's INFINITYGLASS is the third of the trilogy and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure I'd like the brand new POV's (each book has two different POVs) but I ended up really liking Dune and Hallie. I also thought she ended the trilogy really well. The ending seemed to happen quickly, but I think that's what happens when you've been into multiple books with the same story and suddenly it's over and you're all...

Anyway, it's a great trilogy and very voicey.

Then I read SOMETHING IN THE HEIR by Jenny Gardiner. I had really high hopes for this one because the premise is super cute. Unfortunately, I was less than impressed with the writing and some of the scenarios were so ridiculous it was hard for me to believe them. Plus the MC had a serious case of modesty to the point where the LI is constantly telling her how great she is. *eye roll* I finished to the end though and there were some cute and swoony moments.

Last, I read A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt. I didn't realize this was only novella length when I bought it for my Kobo, but the story was really cute. Kinda reminded me of The Holiday (that Christmas movie with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) at first but it takes it's own turn. It was a fun Christmas read, and I promptly watched The Holiday as soon as I was done!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday Sale!!!

It's Black Friday so that means... SALES!!!

I'm part of the lovely group over at Austen Variations and we're having a huge sale of many of our Jane Austen related books. A lot of PRIDE & PREJUDICE variations, and my very own SWAY (a contemporary PERSUASION retelling in case you didn't know) is on sale for $0.99, which is a screamin' deal if you ask me. Check it out at the link above, or you can just go straight to Amazon if you want to pick up SWAY. It's also on sale at Amazon Canada, and other ebook retailers like B&N, and I'm trying to get the price reduced on Amazon UK for all you Brits out there, so stay tuned.

Hope you're having a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend if you're American, or just a great weekend if you hail from elsewhere in the world! Much love!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Reads: A Whole Lot

I took a little blog break because I went to Hawaii! But now I'm back with a few books I read in the last month.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull which is the second book in the series. This book started off stronger than book 1 for me, and I enjoyed it. I am, however, debating whether to pick up the rest of the series. The books are good, I just don't love them. But I feel this intense guilt if I don't finish the whole series because I'm wacky like that.

Ashes by Sophie H. Morgan. I "know" Sophie online because she's a fellow Samhain author and I was psyched to finally read this book. It was awesome! A page-turner, with a kick-A female MC and a swoony love interest. It blends a lot of genres which could've turned out disastrous but totally worked for the story. I can't wait to read another book by Sophie.

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond is a story set in World War II about girls who work as spies for the Allies. I loved the different characters and loved the twists in the book. It could've used a little romance for my taste, but otherwise an excellent read.

Wedding Bands by Ev Bishop is a second chance romance story that I really enjoyed. Like most romances, you know they're going to get together eventually, but it's fun reading about the journey. There was also a little twist at the end which I didn't anticipate. I participated on a panel with Ev Bishop at a con over the summer and she was lovely.

I also did a couple of rereads: Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire. I've had the third in the trilogy (Infinityglass) sitting on my shelf since last Christmas, but it's been so long that I needed to reread to remember the story. I think I enjoyed these two books more this time than I did the first time. I love time travel, and the voice is so spot on in both books, though they're from two different POVs. So far Infinityglass is living up to my expectations.

So it's been a good reading month. What have you read lately?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Loves: HAMILTON

I know I'm behind on this. HAMILTON is yesterday's news.

Blame my Canadian-ness. Or the fact that I don't make it to Broadway often... or like ever (*sobs*).

But I've been around, I've heard things. Yeah, I know stuff.

Like how popular HAMILTON is. I mean, you'd have to live under a rock not to know about it. I've listened to bits and pieces on YouTube. I saw the performance on the Tony's. But I finally have the entire soundtrack and I've now become another one on the long list of HAMILTON fans. I would LOVE to see this show. So bad. Unfortunately, I'm not planning any trips to NYC anytime soon, and HAMILTON probably won't be a touring musical to Canada for awhile. Here's hoping it comes here soon.

I guess it gives me a lot of time to learn all the lyrics, though. It's so much more fun watching a musical when you know all the words then when you're not even familiar with the songs (I'm looking at you, WICKED). So, I'm not throwing away my shot at learning every single word. (See what I did there?) And tonight I get to watch the PBS special!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Reads: Two JAFF, a YA, and an NA

Have you ever loved an author... like everything they say on social media is hilarious, or you think if you knew them in real life you'd be besties, or maybe you saw them at a conference or signing and thought they were so interesting? And I mean this in a totally non-stalkerish/non-crazy way, I swear.

Anyway, so then you read one of their books thinking you'd LOVE it? Then you just... don't.

Total bummer. So yeah, that's how I kinda felt about FABLEHAVEN by Brandon Mull.

My daughter read and LOVED the FABLEHAVEN sereis like crazy, so she insisted on coming with me to 2015's WHEN WORDS COLLIDE because Brandon Mull would be there. I hadn't read anything by him, but we went to all his panels and he was such a dynamic speaker. Seriously. If you have a chance to hear him in public- GO! Anyway, I finally gave the first FABLEHAVEN book a try a couple of weeks ago and... I liked it. I did. But I wanted to love it so bad, like Harry Potter type love, and I just didn't. I've since started book two- so obviously I liked it enough to want to read on in the series. But it got me thinking about the book and why I didn't connect with it like I wanted to.

Honestly, I think the main thing is I'm not into "creature" kinds of books. I've read other fantasy-ish novels that have had a lot of magical creatures or magical items in them, and they're just not my kind of thing. I like magical people, not regular people who run into magical stuff. And FABLEHAVEN is all about a magical preserve. The other thing was it lacked the humor of Harry Potter. There was this one really funny part which I loved (the whole cow-milking scene), but I wanted more funny, especially since it's MG. Anyway, I did enjoy the book. I loved the difference between the brave but sometimes foolish Seth, and the more responsible Kendra who finds her courage in the end. The world-building too was stellar. Already with book 2, I've found the plot to be more fast-paced, which is a bonus. So we'll see how this one goes. I know with HP, I didn't really LOVE them until PRISONER OF AZKABAN, so I'm giving FABLEHAVEN a chance.

The next book I read was MR. DARCY BROKE MY HEART by Beth Patillo. I'm just going to say I gave the book 3 stars and leave it at that. I've read amazing JAFF books, and this one didn't measure up like I wanted it to.

Then I read MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs. SWOON! This book was everything I wanted it to be. I wanted a sexy and fun romance, and this was it. I can't wait to read book 2 in the series.

Lastly, I read another JAFF book, LETTER FROM RAMSGATE by Suzan Lauder. I got this as an advanced copy and loved every minute of it. It felt like reading Jane Austen herself, as if I was reading one of her rewrites of PRIDE & PREJUDICE. The changes made in this book were so clever, and so well done, that I could really see it. Definitely one of the best P&P variations I've ever read.

What did you read this week?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Great Bookmark Saga of 2016

Who knew bookmarks could be such a pain?

Thus begins the Great Bookmark Saga of 2016. Also known as, A Disaster of Epic Proportions.

I wanted some bookmarks for SWAY. Samhain was kind enough to send me rack cards before SWAY came out and I have a few left, but they're out of date, plus I wanted something bookmark size. So I decided to design my own using Canva. I'd already designed something on Canva so obviously I was an expert and it seemed like a good idea.

It pretty much took me an entire day just to make my design. Once I did, it was pretty, I loved it, and I thought, all I have to do is upload it to Vistaprint and Bam! I've got bookmarks.


First, I'd heard that you can save money by uploading two designs on the rack card template and then you can cut them yourself and voila! Two for the price of one bookmarks. This did not work for me. So I tried to fit my design into Vistaprint's bookmark template. Also did not work. I redesigned my bookmarks on Canva multiple times in different sizes in an attempt to fit them into the template. NOPE. And keep in mind, this wasn't just a, click once to resize. Because I'm on basic Canva, I had to design over again FROM THE BEGINNING. EACH TIME.

After all this, I finally decided to use a different printing company. I uploaded my design and it was easy... TOO easy. But I ignored this and ordered a hundred bookmarks. At this point, it was like 2 am, but I could not fall asleep. I kept stressing about these bookmarks. What if I hadn't gotten the design within the bleed lines? What if words were cut off? What if they ended up blurry? Then I'd be wasting my money, PLUS a trip to the US where I had to pick them up (they don't ship to Canada). In order to get some sleep that night, I cancelled the order.

I just didn't feel good about ordering through this second printer, so I went back to Vistaprint and asked them to fit my design into their template. Waited a day. They couldn't do it.

Forget online printing companies, I would go local. So I went into Staples (a Canadian office supply store) and asked if they printed bookmarks and if they would print my design, how much, etc. They said yes- bring in the design on a USB. I did, the next day. The lady, the same one I'd already talked to, couldn't open the file. So she said for me to change the format and come back. So I did. AGAIN. I put my design into every format I could think of and went BACK into Staples. Same lady. Still couldn't open the file. She basically stared at me like I was some kind of idiot, but I'm sorry lady- those files opened on my computer at home! Anyway, suck-it Staples, I'll go somewhere else. After calling around and leaving multiple messages with small printing companies, I decided to try online again.

Can I make a side note here and say, if only Vistaprint had a bookmark template! They have rack card and business card templates, but with bookmarks, you have to upload your design. Otherwise, I would have redesigned right on Vistaprint. But I couldn't do that, so this time, I uploaded my design and asked them to recreate it for me. A day later, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles... THEY DID! I had to make a minor change and wait another day, but finally, I had a working design that I could actually order on Vistaprint. So I did. They told me I would get them in a few weeks, in time for a book signing event I had planned for the beginning of October.

I waited. I checked the mail. I waited some more. I checked some more. NOTHING. Finally, a few days before my event (and here is where I screwed up... I should've done this a week earlier) I went into the tracking info on Vistaprint, which led me to UPS, which led me to this extensive list of all the places these bookmarks had travelled to. Apparently, they didn't have the right address, they contacted the receiver (me, and NO THEY DID NOT), got an address, delivered. They were rejected by the receiver (BECAUSE IT WASN'T ME), mailed them back to Ontario, went to three different cities in Ontario, and were currently in limbo when I checked. I called UPS.

Long story short, UPS doesn't deliver to PO boxes, and sent my bookmarks back to Vistaprint.

First of all, WHY DIDN'T UPS CALL/EMAIL ME??? I would've given them my street address. I have no clue WHO they kept contacting.

Second of all, if Vistaprint always uses UPS, and UPS never delivers to PO  boxes, WHY ARE YOU ALLOWED TO ENTER A PO BOX INTO THE ADDRESS LINE? When I called Vistaprint, they didn't even know UPS doesn't deliver to PO boxes!

What. The. Fudge.

Anyway (not really anyway, but I'm mostly over it, so anyway), Vistaprint said they would resend and I would get them October 6th... six days AFTER my bookstore event. Great. Thanks for that.

I didn't actually get them until today. If you want to see what they look like, and my reaction to opening them, you can go here.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Loves: Gilmore Girls!

My sister often told me how much she loves Gilmore Girls, how she's watched the entire series at least ten times. Then there's the fans on Twitter, who tweet about it constantly, despite the fact the show ended years ago. Probably because of the revival coming up. Anyway, I finally decided to give it a try.

The first episode was good, but I wasn't immediately sold. It took me... a whole TWO episodes to get completely hooked. I don't know what it is about the show that hooked me so soon, but I'm guessing it's probably a mix of the witty and fast-paced dialogue, and the flawed yet likeable characters. At first I was awed by both Lorelei and Rory (please can I be them?!), but now that I've gotten to know them, they drive me cray-cray. Lorelei especially. She has these epic mom moments and I really envy her relationship with her daughter at times- it helps me be a bit more aware of my own relationships with my daughters (and son). Of course, Lorelei is also self-absorbed most of the time and there are so many moments when I'm mentally screaming at her to just shut up already. Rory I liked from the start, until the whole end of season four thing with Dean, and now I just want her to smarten up. But what makes the show great is despite these things, I still want them to get their happy endings, or happy for right now's. I want the same for Luke, Lane, Dean, Jess, Emily and Richard, even Kirk.
These characters are so compelling, it's hard not to be completely hooked on their lives and want to know what crazy thing they'll do next.

I'm in the middle of season five right now, so I still have a ways to go until the end. Hopefully I'll be done before the new episodes air next month. But for now, pardon my many Gilmore Girls tweets- this is all new to me and I'm loving it. I'm so glad I gave this show a shot.

What about you? Have you watched Gilmore Girls and did you like it?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Reads: 4 YA

Soooo, I've felt lately like I've been in a bit of a book slump. Actually, I feel like I've been in a life slump, but that's a post for another day (or maybe just for inside my brain).

Here's what I've read lately:

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

This was one of those books that people LOVE but I just... didn't. It never captured me, I didn't feel like very much went actually happened, and I never connected to the characters. It did have a few really great moments though.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

So I said book slump, but maybe not because THIS BOOK. It was HILARIOUS. Just so so so very well done. I loved it, I want it to be a movie, I want it to be real. Hey, if Reign is a show, they could make this a movie. Just saying. Seriously loved this book- one of my fave YA historicals ever.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

This book was pretty great. A good sequel with a twist I thought I saw coming but it twisted in a different direction. I really enjoyed it, totally into this series, and I'm interested to see where Sabaa Tahir takes the next book (final book?).

Chasing Memories by Tia Silverthorne Bach

This book was a light paranormal read, a genre I feel I haven't read in awhile. There were some really fun moments, and it also had a twist I didn't see coming. It's the first of a series (or maybe trilogy?) so it ended on a cliffhanger which left me unsatisfied. I think I've lost patience for cliffhangers.

So maybe I haven't been in a book slump after all. Or it could be the fact that I started a book after Chasing Memories and couldn't get past page 50 (nope, couldn't do it) and now I'm reading something where I love the author but I haven't gotten into it yet. Please, I want to get into it so bad! Or maybe my life slump is bleeding over into my reading and tainting everything.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday Reads: A Hodgepodge

Alas, my reading has slowed down a bit lately. I have to keep telling myself it's not a race- I don't have a reading deadline (not counting library due dates). Sometimes I feel this insane urge to hurry and I don't know why.

Anyway, here's what I read:


 This was a Pride & Prejudice retelling which takes place in the South after WWII. There were so many things I loved about this book- the setting, Elizabeth's backstory, the twist on Colonel Fitzwilliam, the change around Bingley and Jane... Some of the characters were developed so fully that it really brought them to life, more than the original. My only pet peeve was that because of this- some of the other characters were kind of left in the dust. P&P has a huge cast so obviously you can't fully realize everyone, but I felt some were started and then left behind and I would've like a little more there. Otherwise, excellent read.

FLIRTING IN ITALIAN by Lauren Henderson

So, this is the kind of book where I'm dying to talk to somebody who has read it. I have a lot of opinions, most which I will bottle up until I can talk to someone about it (lol). There were some really fun things about this book, and I automatically love an Italian setting. However. My biggest pet peeve was that it ended on a cliffhanger- so obviously there are sequels, but this was a YA contemp romance and having no end to the plot really drove me bananas.


I loved like crazy Stacey Lee's first book UNDER A PAINTED SKY so naturally I picked up OtM. It didn't disappoint. Stacey Lee is easily one of my fave historical YA authors. She writes beautiful stories with the kind of characters you want to be besties with. OtM isn't only about Mercy's survival of the earthquake, but also about her journey to be seen and heard as a person, a woman, as being just as good as anyone else despite the way the world saw her. I have no gift for eloquent reviews, just read the book because it is excellent.