This month, I had the opportunity to go on Global News and share my most anticipated books of 2020 for National Reading Month, along with tips to help children and teens pick up a book. One of my passions as an educator is to inspire children to read for both meaning and enjoyment. With that said, here are my 5 tips to get back into reading - and stay committed...as well as some new releases and books to look forward to.
1. Always have a book on you.
Whether its an eRead, an audio book, or a tangible copy in your vehicle. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media sites as you hunker down and partake in social distancing, you can be reading to help pass the time. I've recently adopted audiobooks when I'm cooking or walking, and I find it makes the more mundane parts of your day quite enjoyable.
2. Set an attainable reading goal.
Read one book a month, or read for 15 minutes a day. The average 300 page book takes approximately 5 hours to finish. With fifteen minutes set aside in the morning while you have your coffee or in the evening before bed (which will actually help you sleep better), you can easily finish a book in about 20 days.
3. Quit Early
If you’re not completely invested in a book by the 1/4 mark, abandon it. Life is too short to settle for mediocre books
4. Swap TV Time
During this isolation period, I know it's so easy to resort to watching hours upon hours of TV...flying through series after series...but borrow 30 - 60 mins of this time and devote it to reading a book. I've always found that it takes me about 50 pages, or 30 minutes, to really be invested in a story. It's like starting a TV show and watching 5 minutes... you've barley been introduced to the characters. Take the time, and I promise you, it will be so much easier to swap your TV time to read. On average, people watch between 3-5 hours of TV per day, so don’t say you don’t have time to read! Reduce your screen time by 30 minutes a day and try reading instead. We want to model the importance of reading to our kids.
5. Have your next book ready!
Its great to jump right into your next book. There are so many awesome instagram accounts dedicated to sharing new and noteworthy books. I always know which book (or in my case...books) I'll be reading next. With so many amazing companies providing free listening and reading experiences during this self-isolation, you have many to choose from! I've been recommending libro.fm for listening, and scribd for e-books!
Upcoming and Noteworthy Books by Canadian Authors:
1. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
This is the third book from the duo that brought you The Wife Between Us and Anonymous Girl. This story is written in the same vein, however I found myself less invested in this story. You know the old saying 'if it seems too good to be true, it probably is?' I wrestled with this and the main characters lack of common sense throughout the whole story - and as the reader I was powerless to shake some sense into her. What I did love, and found truly unique, was the addition of her stats book, and the statistics that mark each chapter. The narration shifts between multiple characters point of view, and the present/past, so you get glimpses into what happened. It took me until the 3/4 mark to really piece together what was going on, and I was totally satisfied by the ending. It's an entertaining read...and with that ending, I'm rounding up my 3 stars to 4. These women sure know how to amp up the suspense.
OMG is all I have to say. I was asked to participate in a blog tour surrounding the newest book from Margot Hunt, and my immediate answer was YES!
First off, I only came across Hunt's work last year, when I picked up For Better and Worse. My book club loves psychological thrillers, so we ended up selecting it as one of our book club's monthly picks. I love any type of thriller/mystery that sparks discussion, especially from a morality/ethics standpoint. After reading this, I went straight to the library to pick up her other novel, Best Friends Forever. It was twisty and engaging...exactly what I needed to get out of a reading slump.
And now...she finally has a new book out on November 26.
Introducing The Last Affair...and I have an excerpt for you to read! (scroll down).
Margot Hunt is a critically acclaimed author of psychological suspense. Her work has been praised by Publisher's Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.
Gwen Landon—poster woman for perfect wife, mother, and suburban bliss—is found brutally
bludgeoned to death behind her Floridian McMansion. Beautiful and beloved by her community, Gwen makes an unlikely victim. But just a scratch below the surface of her perfectly curated world reveals one far more sinister. When looking back over the six months leading up to her death, the question of, “who would do this?” quickly shifts to, “who wouldn’t?” Commercially successful food blogger and mother of three, Nora Holliday never imagined she would have the nerve, let alone time, to get involved an affair. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she does whatever it takes to keep it all together. But when Nora runs into Gwen Landon's husband at a hotel in Orlando, his easy kindness and warmth proves too tempting to resist. As their affair spirals dangerously out of control, it seems things can’t get more complicated—until Gwen turns up dead.
If you've read anything by Clare Macintosh (I See You, Let You Go, Let Me Lie), you immediately associate her writing with the mystery and thriller genre. I have loved all three of these books and highly recommend them. Her books are captivating page-turning, and stay-up-all-night kind of reads. After the End was a surprisingly emotional read, that explores love, marriage, and commitment. This is the perfect Book Club choice, because this book encourages discussion from an ethics/morality standpoint, the challenges of marriage, and how each person encounters and deals with grief. I LOVED how this book is written in two parts. I found the first half depressing, and actually took a break before starting the second part, probably due to the fact that I recently had a child, and the content really hit home for me. The second part however, gets all the stars, and it is so uniquely written, with an incredible take on the Robert Frost poem 'The Road Not Taken'. One defining moment, and the path you choose to take... Highly recommend this one!
Educator, book connoisseur, life-long-learner, and new Mom!
At my baby shower we played ‘Daddy Knows Best’, where the Mom-To-Be guesses Dad’s answers. One of the questions was, “How prepared do you think mom is from 1-10?” I guessed he’d say 2, and he graciously stated 8. Did I feel prepared? Not in the slightest. I’d only just started reading parenting books and I was already 32 weeks along. I didn’t have a nursery set up, I wasn't up-to-date on the trendiest baby brands (bugaboo what?), and we had finally scheduled a prenatal class. The best part was…I was ok with this. People gave me the concerned look, but I’d approached this pregnancy with a calm attitude, and hoped to continue that into the first year of parenting. When people had recommended parenting books, the titles often made me wince, hence why I’d been combing over materials to find the best life-saving books for new moms. Since our little one arrived, and motherhood has been full of mole hills and mountains, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favourite parenting books that have helped me and given me hope for the unexpected future.
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
As an educator, I’ve always promised myself that I would never become one of those ‘Helicopter Moms’. There’s a huge difference between being a supportive and encouraging parent, and smothering your child. As a primary teacher, I often cringe when I watch the way some parents hover over their children, controlling every action, displaying overly protective tendencies, and enabling certain behaviors. When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew it was the perfect first parenting book to read. If you’re looking for advice on how to be “an easy, calm authority” with your kids, and raising children that “are – by design – toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace,” then this one is for you.
How To Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute by KJ Dell’Antonia
This book is awesome! This book isn’t about doing more, but rather approaching parenting differently, so that you’re able to raise a family full of joy. It’s all about small shifts! Moving away from stressful and chaotic mornings, improving chores, how to handle scree time, and the dreaded homework hour: all topics that each new mom needs (especially me!)
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster.
This book was highly recommended to me by multiple friends. Written by an economist, Emily Oster shares about conventional pregnancy rules and wisdom, and which ones are unwarranted or bogus. Full of hard facts and practical advice, this book explores the big discussion topics amongst new moms, such as caffeine (I had black tea throughout my pregnancy - I could not give up London Fog's), drinking wine, and eating for two. It’s also organized by each of the trimesters, as well as a section on labor and delivery, so you won’t feel overwhelmed diving into this one at any point in your pregnancy.
The Yes Brain: How To Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in your Child.
If you’re like me, you’re looking to raise children that approach life with “openness and curiosity.” This book shares insightful information to help raise children who take chances, explore, and aren’t afraid of making mistakes.
Breathe Mama Breathe: 5-MinuteMindfulness for Busy Moms by Shonda Moralis
Who doesn’t need 5 minutes of mindfulness daily? This book is easy to read, and packed full of simple, straightforward practices that you can squeeze into your day. With short chapters that help you connect more with yourself, your family, and the world. A great book to introduce you to emotional self-regulation, and boy will you need this after the sleepless lights!
If you have any great parenting books to share, please comment below!
This summer was jam packed with amazing new releases by coveted authors and debut writers. I've compiled a list of my favourite reads from the summer for your enjoyment, summed up in three words . I'm one book away from my Goodreads reading challenge, and hoping this last read will make it onto this list. Stay tuned! (Descriptions from Goodreads)
for the ya (young adult) admirers
Mystery, Investigative, Murder
There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
for the family drama and shocker ending buffs
Secrets, Lies, and Revenge
Single mother Lee has the daily routine down to a science: shower in six minutes. Cut food into perfect squares. Never leave her on-the-spectrum son Mason in someone else’s care. She’ll do anything--anything—to keep his carefully constructed world from falling apart. Do anything to keep him safe.
But when her best friend Grace convinces her she needs a small break from motherhood to recharge her batteries, Lee gives in to a weekend trip. Surely a long weekend away from home won’t hurt?
Noah, Mason’s handsome, bright, charismatic tutor—the first man in ages Lee’s even noticed—is more than happy to stay with him.
Forty-eight hours later, someone is dead.
But not all is as it seems. Noah may be more than who he claims to be. Grace has a secret—one that will destroy Lee. Lee has secrets of her own that she will do anything to keep hidden.
As the dominoes begin to fall and the past comes to light, perhaps it's no mystery someone is gone after all…
Because You're Mine is a breathtaking novel of domestic drama and suspense.
Mystery, Cult, Secrets
You thought they were just staying for the weekend. They looked harmless enough – with only two suitcases and a cat in a wicker box. But soon things turn very, very dark. It happens slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly. Now you and your sister must find a way to survive…
Forgiveness, Loyalty and Tragedy
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.
Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.
Adversity, Culpability, and Sorrow
How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?
In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.
A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?
“A stunning debut about parents, children and the unwavering hope of a better life, even when all hope seems lost" (Washington Post), Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It’s “a quick-paced murder mystery that plumbs the power and perils of community” (O Magazine) as it carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a “miracle submarine” patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion. Recommended by Erin Morgenstern, Jean Kwok, Jennifer Weiner, Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and more-- Miracle Creek is a brave, moving debut from an unforgettable new voice.
For the psychological thriller devotee's
Serial killer, Procedural, Terrifying
In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.
After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.
But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.
Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter's crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.
And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window...
Psychological, Maniac, Serial Killer
Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.
We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.
For the action-packed reader
Vibrant, Terrifying and Ghastly
Lily Bushwold thought she’d found the antidote to endless foster care and group homes: a teaching job in Cochabamba, Bolivia. As soon as she could steal enough cash for the plane, she was on it.
When the gig falls through and Lily stays in Bolivia, she finds bonding with other broke, rudderless girls at the local hostel isn’t the life she wants either. Tired of hustling and already world-weary, crazy love finds her in the form she least expected: Omar, a savvy, handsome local man who’d abandoned his life as a hunter in Ayachero—a remote jungle village—to try his hand at city life.
When Omar learns that a jaguar has killed his four-year-old nephew in Ayachero, he gives Lily a choice: Stay alone in the unforgiving city, or travel to the last in a string of ever-more-isolated river towns in the jungles of Bolivia. Thirty-foot anaconda? Puppy-sized spiders? Vengeful shamans with unspeakable powers? Love-struck Lily is oblivious. She follows Omar to this ruthless new world of lawless poachers, bullheaded missionaries, and desperate indigenous tribes driven to the brink of extinction. To survive, Lily must navigate the jungle--its wonders as well as its terrors—using only her wits and resilience.
For the romantics
Lost love and Loyalty
Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.
On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.
Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.
The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.
Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.
If you're like me, I'm always looking for ways to improve the commute to work, cooking, cleaning, etc.
They've literally changed my life. Who knew cooking for an hour would fly by, and that I wouldn't mind cleaning the kitchen after? I've been alternating between podcasts and audio books (I use Audible) because there don't seem to be enough high-quality true-crime podcasts out there that actually solve the crime in the end. I personally don't want to invest hours upon hours of a season where there is no resolution. I need everything wrapped and tied up with a bow. I'm all about the true crime podcasts, or anything with mystery, however I'm not opposed to other genres. Here are my favourites from the past couple of years. I'll be adding to this list as I find more and more.
1. bear brook
Bear Brook is by far my favourite podcast from this year. It has everything you want from a true crime story: mystery, a cold case, and new technologies that helped solve this gruesome crime. Personally, I don't like investing in true crime podcasts that don't wrap everything up with a perfect bow...because I need to know!
The podcast that wrangled me into this world of episodic digital documentaries. I loved the story of Adnan Syed, but more importantly, because Sarah Koenig hosts it. She is superb at showing both sides of the case, without appearing biased.
3. up and vanished: season 1
Photographing books, one day at a time.