Friday, July 19, 2019

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams: A Delightful Fairytale for the Modern Age

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
Published: June 13th, 2019 (August 8th in North America) Publisher: Avon Genre: Romantic comedy # of pages: 368
My rating: 5 stars Acquired this book via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration. All opinions are my own. Goodreads Buy now: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Amazon UK || Chapters/Indigo What if you almost missed the love of your life?
Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.
Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.
One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper: To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?
So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.


Do you ever pick up a book at what feels like the exact right time? By that I mean the story and characters resonate with you and where you’re at in your life, it feels like it’s riddled with messages that are for you, and it just feels like you were meant to read this book? That’s what Our Stop felt like for me. I was on Goodreads one day and happened to see a friend was reading it and had got an eARC from Netgalley. I checked Netgalley, surprised to find it still available, requested it without much expectation, and was ecstatic when I was approved. And then I started reading and I had that rare and wonderful feeling of ‘Ohh, okay. This book was meant for me.’ Talk of things happening for a reason, being meant to be, and mentions of the Law of Attraction will always catch my attention, and when they’re paired with a story that’s witty, thought-provoking, romantic, and engaging, it’s a clear winner for me. This book was different from a lot of the British romcoms/chick lit I’ve read. Most of the ones I’ve read can be described as sweet and light, with little to no swearing, no sex, and while they may tackle some heavier real-life topics, they tend to remain mostly fluffy (which is in no way a bad thing - I’m here for the fluff!). But Our Stop was the opposite of the books I’m used to and what I expected this book to be. The characters were smart, modern, and complex, and not only dealt with real issues but talked about them too. Among other things, this book touched on topics like feminism, consent, grief, how men and ‘masculinity’ are perceived, and the female characters talked about things you rarely see talked about, like periods, body hair, and honest discussions about sex. Every time I came to those sections, I would just stop and think ‘Wow. Yes. This is what I want to see more of in books.’

Our Stop was a charming, delightful, hopeful read. It was witty, honest, emotional, and so romantic. By the time I finished reading, I had a big dopey smile on my face and tears in my eyes. It was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. I look forward to reading more from Laura Jane Williams!


Have you read Our Stop? What's the last book that pleasantly surprised you?

Friday, July 12, 2019

9 of my Favourite Books From the First Half of 2019


2019 has been a strange reading year for me so far. I've had more DNFs in the last six months than I think I've had in the last few years put together. I don't know what's happening - whether I'm becoming a pickier reader or just not choosing the right books. When I sat down and went over the books I read in the first half of 2019, I was pleased to see there were a lot of excellent books among the DNFs and meh books. So here are 9 of my favourite books from the first half of 2019.


  

Happy New You by Brenda St John Brown, Cassie-Ann L Miller, Ceri Grenelle, Elizabeth Lynx, Jami Albright, Julia Wolf, Laura Lee, Marika Ray, Mya Martin, Nikky Kaye, Sylvie Stewart Published: January 8th, 2019 by the authors Contemporary romance/romantic comedy This was one of my first reads of 2019, and it was a great way to start a new year! Allison is a bit of a hot mess, but she’s determined to start the year off right, so she creates a list of resolutions with the help of her friend Mateo. This friends-to-lovers romance is hilarious, sexy, and heartwarming. The characters are complex, and the story is about overcoming obstacles, stepping outside your comfort zone, and smashing other people's expectations. The fact it was written by eleven romcom authors (including one of my top favourite romcom authors, Brenda St John Brown) still blows my mind. Hold Me Today by Maria Luis Published: January 17th, 2019 by Alkmini Books Contemporary romance After having the investment money for her salon stolen, Mina turns to her best friend’s older brother, a super hot Greek god of a man named Nick, who Mina has known since childhood. In exchange for helping with the repairs on her salon, Nick needs Mina to pretend to be his girlfriend in order to get the paparazzi off his back after a disastrous stint on a reality dating show. This book has a combination of popular tropes like best friend’s brother, friends to lovers, and fake dating. It’s a slow burn romance and Nick and Mina’s chemistry is HOT. It was fun watching them fall for each other, and I loved Mina's growth throughout the story. The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane Published: January 30th, 2018 Contemporary young adult Seeing the word ‘Ireland’ in a book’s synopsis is my personal catnip. When Clementine wakes up in a hospital in Ireland with no memory of who she is or why she's there, all she knows is what she’s told: she is the lone survivor of a plane crash. Unable to deal with her complete lack of memories, plus the pressure of knowing the Irish press is out to get her story and that her dad is on his way from America, she makes up a story about who she is and why she’s there, and gets a cute Irish guy to help her leave the hospital. This story has such fantastic main and side characters, and I became completely invested in their stories. Clementine absolutely broke my heart at times, but I enjoyed watching her figure out who she wanted to be since she couldn’t remember who she was before.

  
At the Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham Published: April 2nd, 2019 by Simon & Schuster Canadian historical fiction At the Mountain’s Edge is set in the late 1800s during the Klondike Gold Rush. It alternates points of view between Liza, a girl whose father uproots his family to take them on the search for gold, and Ben, a member of the North-West Mounted Police, tasked with keeping order in the frozen landscapes of the Yukon. I knew next to nothing about the Gold Rush before reading this book, and it was fascinating (and heartbreaking) to learn what people went through for the promise of riches. Graham’s ability to weave real history with fictional characters is incredible. I felt like I was right there with Liza and Ben, slogging through the frozen landscapes of the Yukon, fighting for survival. Liza and Ben truly came alive for me, and I rooted for them, ached for them, cried for them, and cheered for them throughout the story. The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea by Jaimie Admans Published: April 3rd, 2019 by HQ Digital Contemporary women’s fiction/romantic comedy When the gorgeous man Ness sees from time to time on the morning train drops his phone, Ness experiences a real-life Cinderella moment. She makes it her mission to return the man's phone to him, and in the process write a story that could get her the promotion she’s been wanting. Tracking him down leads her to the picturesque seaside village of Pearlholme, where the mystery man is restoring a vintage carousel. Jaimie Admans’ books never fail to entertain. They’re always funny, but this one had me laughing til I cried. It was also adorable and swoony, and I loved the characters and how different the story felt from the norm. My Life in Shambles by Karina Halle Published: April 10th, 2019 by Karina Halle Contemporary romance Remember how I said any mention of Ireland was my personal catnip? Well that, plus the stunning cover, is what drew me to My Life in Shambles. Valerie makes a New Year’s resolution to say yes to new adventures, which leads her to Ireland with her sisters, and also leads her to talking to the hot, broody guy who catches her eye one night at a bar. What’s supposed to be a one-night stand turns into more when Padraig asks Valerie to accompany him home to Shambles and pretend to be his fiancee to give his dying father some peace of mind. This book dealt with so many real issues, from family troubles to weight-related issues to disabilities. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and inspiring and it made me laugh, cry, and swoon.


  

Irresistible by Melanie Harlow Published: February 25th, 2019 by Melanie Harlow Contemporary romance
Frannie has had a crush on Mack for ages, but she doesn't think he sees her as anything more than a co-worker and occasional babysitter for his three daughters. Mack definitely sees Frannie as more, but after his wife abandoned him and their girls, he's barely keeping it together, and being with Frannie would create a whole new set of problems...except he just can't seem to stay away from her. Irresistible has several fun tropes all in one: sexy single dad, older man, and an aspect of the forbidden because Mack works for Frannie’s parents. I loved Mack and Frannie separately and together; I thought the portrayal of Mack’s single parenthood was honest in its messiness and struggles, and Frannie’s desire for independence and to be seen as an adult by her parents and also by Mack really resonated with me. This book had the perfect balance of humour, sexiness, and feels.
Roomies by Christina Lauren Published: December 5th, 2017 by Gallery Books Contemporary romance/romantic comedy This was my first Christina Lauren book! I see their books all the time on bookstagram (and everywhere else), and I decided it was finally time to give them a shot. Roomies was a good place to start because I loved it. Set in New York City, this is a marriage of convenience story about Holland, who becomes obsessed with a street musician, who ends of being an Irishman living in the States illegally. He also happens to be perfect for Holland’s uncle’s Broadway musical, but he needs to be a legal resident of the US first...hence the marriage of convenience. This book was funny and sexy, and I loved the musical aspect as well as the fantastic side characters.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert Published: June 4th, 2019 by Riverhead Historical fiction/women’s fiction Set mostly in 1940s New York City, City of Girls follows the (mis)adventures of Vivian, a restless young woman who’s sent to the city to live with her eccentric theatre-owning aunt. Vivian went from a sheltered life to one of independence, unabashed promiscuity, alcohol, excess, and glamour. In many ways, this book was an unapologetic look at sex and sexuality, and despite being set 70+ years ago, there were so many parallels to today and how women - especially women who own their sensuality and sexuality - are often seen. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I know Vivian will stay with me for a long time.

There you have it - 9 of my favourite books from the first half of 2019! See any favourites? Have any of these on your TBR? What were some of your favourites from the first half of the year?



*Disclaimer: Links in this blog post lead to Amazon.com and are affiliate links. I make a small amount of money from each sale made through one of my links, which goes into maintaining this blog. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The #myblueskydays Instagram Hashtag Challenge and Giveaway



“She said she always felt better on blue sky days. Like nothing could be too bad when the sky was blue and there was so much beauty in the world.”
~Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry
Today marks 25 years since my dad’s death from leukemia. He was three months shy of his 50th birthday, and I was only 10. As you can imagine, it was a devastating loss for my family, and it changed our lives completely. Jump ahead about ten years to when I wrote what would end up being my debut novel, Blue Sky Days. The story was a way to honour my dad and give a character I came to love the happily ever after my dad didn’t get.
For years, I’ve wanted to do a photo challenge inspired by Blue Sky Days. The time has finally come, and I’m SO excited to bring you the #myblueskydays hashtag. The idea is to post pictures of your blue sky days; you can be literal and post pics of blue skies and nature, or you can use the term in the meaning associated with the book: anything that brings you joy. Happy days spent with loved ones, quiet moments, big events, a good book, a cup of coffee, a beloved pet, a favourite travel destination - anything goes as long as it’s something that makes you happy. My hope with this hashtag is to create a community of people who appreciate beauty, find magic in the everyday, and want to spread love and kindness.



THE GIVEAWAY:
*Use the hashtag on as many of your posts as you like between now and July 31st. Pics don’t have to be new, but they must be posted between today and July 31st to count for the giveaway. Two random winners will be chosen from all entries at the end of July and will each get a $10 gift card of their choice. If there’s enough interest in the hashtag I’ll make the giveaway a monthly thing. Feel free to use the hashtag whether you follow me or not. I completely understand not every feed is for every person, and I won’t take it personally if you choose not to follow me. BUT if you want to be eligible for the prize, you must be following me.

*Bonus entry #1: Share my main challenge post on Instagram in your stories or mention the challenge and tag me

*Bonus entry #2: If you post a picture of my book Blue Sky Days, you’ll get 1354 bonus points. Just kidding! Kind of. No, but really, if you happen to take a picture of Blue Sky Days (on your phone, e-reader, or tablet - the book is currently only available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook) you’ll get an extra entry, along with my eternal gratitude. I’m an indie author with limited connections, so every single sale and every time someone mentions or posts about my book(s) to someone else means the world to me and helps more than you can imagine.


*Note: The challenge itself will be taking place on Instagram, but feel free to use the hashtag on other social media platforms as well and I'll be sure to keep an eye on it and like your posts!

That's it! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or better yet, leave a comment on my original Instagram post. You can also DM me on Instagram. Let's have a summer (or winter if you're in the southern hemisphere) full of blue sky days!





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