How dreamy is this Hampton's themed dinner party we threw on Saturday night, to celebrate 2 years of book club, and Booksparks 'The Dinner List' by Rebecca Serle. As a Booksparks ambassador, I loved the idea of throwing a dinner party in celebration of FRC 2018 (Fall Reading Challenge). The lovely Mariah Millie joined for her first book club, and it was a full house. 10 Vancouver women with one thing in common - amazing, unputdownable, page-turning books. Mariah captures the best candid photos, and this dinner was no exception. The Dinner List discussion included what 5 people, dead or living, you would invite to a dinner party. The top selections included Sara and Erin Foster (comic relief), Tom Hardy (for obvious reasons), Mindy Kaling (mother, author, comedian, and actress!), Oprah (it would be rude not to), Jesus Christ (has the answers to all my questions), and Chrissy Teigen (because hello...have you seen her twitter account?). The girls loved the book, leaving most with tears at the end. Who would you invite if you had the opportunity? Synopsis of The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle below.
“People in relationships are either flowers or gardeners. Two flowers shouldn't partner; they need someone to support them, to help them grow. ..... There are flowers and gardeners. Flowers bloom; gardeners tend. Two flowers, no tending everything dies.”
"“I had to dim my light. It was not an easy thing to be married to a celebrity. But it's also not an easy thing to be married to darkness. Eventually I dimmed so far I extinguished”"
Synopsis from Goodreads:
We’ve been waiting for an hour. That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.
At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends within her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day,and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.
It is super rare for me to give a psychological thriller 4.5 stars, but this one was incredible, and I devoured it in one sitting. This one is a one-more-chapter-will-be-late-for-work, stay-up-all night experience. Electrifying, heart-stopping, and it gave me all the chills! You really ask yourself the whole time, "What would I do if this was my child?" This super twisty thriller had all my boxes ticked - terrifying child character, secrets, lies, and suspense. I really hope this one graces the big screen. I did not see the ending coming, and thoroughly enjoyed the different POV's. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read this one!
Description from Goodreads:
When Clara's boyfriend, Luke, disappears, everyone believes that he's left her, but Clara thinks she knows the truth. Recent evidence suggests that Luke had a stalker, and Clara worries that he's been kidnapped. Then Luke's older sister, Emma, who vanished twenty years ago, suddenly reappears.
Emma wants to help Clara with her search for Luke, but she refuses to talk about what happened--even though it nearly destroyed her family when she vanished. And the deeper Clara digs into Luke's mysterious disappearance, the more convinced she is that the two incidents are connected.
You know 'those' books...the ones that stay with you long after the last page. The ones that shocked you, forced you to re-read sections, played with your mind, and made you question everything you read and interpreted as fact? Those...are my favourite books! It's hard to find stand-out plot lines like this, with unreliable narrators, but I've compiled a list of my favourites, and look forward to reading your comments. If I've missed one of your favourites, let me know!
1. sometimes i lie by alice feeney
2. the lies we told by camilla way
3. behind her eyes by sarah pinborough
4. the thirteenth tale by diane setterfield
All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.
The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.
5. dangerous girls by abigail haas
6. every single secret by emily carpenter
“A true psychological thriller that will leave you breathless.” —Wendy Walker, bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten andEmma in the Night
Emotionally guarded Daphne Amos always believed she’d found a kindred spirit in her fiancé, Heath. Both very private people, they’ve kept their pasts hidden from the world, and each other, until Heath’s escalating nightmares begin to put an undeniable strain on their relationship. Determined to give their impending marriage the best chance of succeeding, Heath insists that Daphne join him on a seven-day retreat with Dr. Matthew Cerny, a psychologist celebrated for getting to the root of repressed memories. Daphne reluctantly agrees—even though the past is the last place she wants to go.
The retreat’s isolated and forbidding location increases her unease, as do the doctor’s rules: they must relinquish their keys and phones, they’ll be monitored at all hours by hidden cameras, and they’re never to socialize with the other guests.
One sleepless night, Daphne decides to leave her room…and only then does she realize that the institute is not at all what it seems—and that whatever’s crying out from Heath’s past isn’t meant to be heard. It’s meant to be silenced.
7. pretty girls by karin slaughter
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.
8. gone girl by gillian flynn
9. we were liars by e. lockhart
10. the good daughter by karin slaughter
A couple years ago I read He Will Be My Ruin by KA Tucker, and I was blown away by the complexity of the plot. I was just getting back into reading, so naturally I veered toward psychological thrillers that packed a punch. I read a lot of books, and oftentimes I find myself desperately trying to remember details of a book or characters names when discussing them with a friend, however this book stayed with me long after the final page. When I received an Advanced Reader Copy in the mail this month, compliments of Simon & Schuster, I was so excited to see KA Tucker's name as the author, however the description was the polar opposite of the thriller genre I had attached to her name. I put off reading it, as I'm not one to read about nature, romance, and slow-moving family dramas. Finally, as August approached, I tackled this large book, and was pleasantly surprised. This book is full of heart, and has a shocking 4.5 rating on Goodreads (which is rare!). The characters are relatable, the conflicting emotions grab you, and I promise that you will fall in love with the relationships in this story. Get ready to be transported to rural Alaska, on an emotional journey that will pull at your heart strings, and have you rooting for this unlikely relationship till the bitter end.
Description from Goodreads:
Calla Fletcher wasn't even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.
She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.
Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.
Almost Famous, meets Nashville & A Star Is Born.
Daisy Jones & The Six has quickly become one of my favourite books this year. It’s chronicles the life of a rock and roll band in the 70’s, and the events that led to their tragic break-up. Told from alternating views, and recounting their experiences through interviews, you’re quickly pulled into the ups and downs of life on the road, music tours, partying, drugs, and the music that defined the 70’s. It was immediately picked up for film rights with Reese Witherspoon, so you know it’s going to be good. It really reminded me of Almost Famous, with Kate Hudson, where a boy was given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine, about an up-and-coming rock band. You literally feel like you’re accompanying the group on the tour. My favourite character, hands-down, was Camilla. In telling my friend this, I read one of the quotes describing her – “You know, people think of Camila as following Billy everywhere, taking care of Billy all the time, but it wasn’t like that. She was a force to be reckoned with. She got what she wanted. Almost all the time. She was persuasive and kind of pushy – although, you never really realized you were being pushed. But she was opinionated and knew how to get her way”…and my friend said, but that’s you! (maybe that’s why I liked her so much J). This one was emotionally charged, raw, honest, and filled with spectacular characters. So uniquely different from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but equally enjoyable.
My favourite quotes:
Daisy: “There’s just as much to hate about you as there is to like about you. And that’s annoying.”
Camila: “It’s not my place to say what happened that day. All I will say is that you show up for your friends on their hardest days. And you hold their hand through the roughest parts. Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.”
Thank you @booksparks for sending me this ARC. It’s a definite collector!
If you're anything like me, you jump at the chance to shop at Costco, solely to browse the book aisle and stock up on your next reads. My husband always complains that if I didn't come along, our grocery bill would be a lot cheaper. I like to remind him that my vegan diet plus my book purchases is still a lot cheaper than buying meat ;).
I received a message earlier this week from a fellow book-lover on Instagram, asking if I've shared any blog posts with the best Costco finds, or if I only post them in my story. I hadn't thought of including a monthly Costco blog post, but it appears that many of my friends shop exclusively for books there.
So here is my top ten list of books that are currently at Costco.
1. The Death of Mrs. Westaway
2. Believe Me
3. Her Pretty Face
4. Sharp Objects
5. Three Days Missing
6. The Last Mrs. Parrish
7. When Life Gives You Lululemons
9. The Silent Wife
10. The Girl Before
Last summer I read The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle and fell in love with her writing style, reminiscent of Lifetime movies that are surprisingly good. Three Days Missing is her newest book, which is part of the July line-up for Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge 2018 (#SRC2018). I really enjoyed the premise of this book about a child who goes missing on a school overnight field trip, and two mothers' lives that collide as they search for the missing boy. Lots of twists and turns, suspicious characters, and a plot that didn't run dry. I love books that hook you from the first page, and Belle has a way of reeling you in with her strong female characters and exposition. Her novels include all the necessities of a successful thriller: rising action. crises, and a powerful resolution. The perfect summer read!
I love summer reading! So many extra sunny hours in the day to lounge around, read, and catch up on the TBR pile that is becoming as tall as me. I also think summer is the best time to get back into reading, if you've been in a slump or a longer hiatus. I often find that it takes me about 50 pages to invest in a story, and during the summer I love sitting on my patio after dinner, with the last few remaining hours of sun, to dive into a new book. I've complied a list of my favourite summer reading books, with psychological thrillers, mythology, and chick lit.
1. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
2. How To Walk Away by Catherine Center
Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment. In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.
*Photo pictured above
3. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
4. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
5. Circe by Madeline Miller
6. The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon
I really enjoyed Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. Sometimes I go into a book without reading the synopsis, and this is one of those examples. With a quick glimpse at the back reviews by B.A. Paris, Riley Sager and Amy Engel (all favorites’), I had a feeling this was a psychological thriller, but had no expectations going into it. I really loved the premise and found it unexpected and unique. I don’t want to say too much in fear of giving away the mystery at the heart of the novel…which is what is ‘in the water?’ I will say that it took me about 100 pages to feel really invested in this story, but the build-up and character development is important to the narrative. As many of you know, I absolutely love morality tales, and this one is the perfect mix of bad decisions and thought-provoking scenarios. The perfect summer/beach read.
Robyn Harding has quickly become one of my favourite authors...and she's from Vancouver! I read The Party last year, and the Advanced Reader Copy of Her Pretty Face in March. This new book releases on July 10th and is on my list of Most Anticipated Summer Reads, and is part of the 2018 Summer Reading Challenge with BookSparks. Her books are suspenseful, shocking and raw, grabbing the reader from the first page and not letting go until the shocking conclusion. Her Pretty Face explores reinvention, grief, and retribution, leaving you wondering if people can truly change. She has also written four works of humorous women’s fiction, a YA novel, and a comedic memoir with an environmental focus. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband, two kids, and a seven-pound, toothless dog named Ozzie. With my very first Q&A, thank you Robyn for participating!
A few questions about writing:
1) What is your writing process like?
When I start a novel, I create a loose outline. I was a screenwriter for several years and it taught me a lot about structure. I find that writing toward the next major plot point keeps me from getting lost or overwhelmed by the story. I also create character profiles before I start writing, giving them a backstory that may or may not make it into the book. Knowing the characters inside and out, really helps inform their behaviors and actions.
2) What advice do you have for writers?
Write, write, write. I recently saw David Sedaris speak, and he said he wrote for seven years before he showed anyone his work. It took him that long to be good enough! The other advice I’d offer is to enjoy writing for writing’s sake. I’m incredibly grateful to be published, but once writing becomes a business, it’s a different experience.
3) What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I love how supportive authors are of one another! I’ve made so many incredible connections to authors all over the world, mostly through social media or e-mail. I recently had dinner with Lisa Genova here in Vancouver and she inspired me to dream big and to go for it! I have regular lunches with YA writer Eileen Cook who is very smart about the business side of writing and gives great advice. And fellow thriller writers Roz Nay and Chevy Stevens have offered great insight into the genre. All these women are also hilarious!
4) I loved Her Pretty Face. What did you edit out of this book?
Thank you so much! I did a HUGE edit after the first draft. Originally, I had a documentary filmmaker following the women around, and it was he who revealed which of the women had the murderous past. My editor felt that this storyline distracted from the meat of the story, and I had to agree. It was a big re-write but it was worth it.
5) If Her Pretty Face graced the big screen, who do you see cast in the main leads? (Frances and Kate)
I’d like to see Amy Adams as Frances and Charlize Theron as Kate!
Some book-ish questions:
6) What is the first book that made you cry?
7) How has the bookstagram community impacted you?
I love the bookstagrammers I have connected with (including you)! It is such a fun and supportive environment. Every day, I learn about new books and see amazing photos. And I am in awe of how fast you all read!
8) An upcoming release you're most looking forward to?
I am so behind! I still need to read last summer’s new releases. But I’ve seen a lot of buzz about “Baby Teeth”. It sounds original and creepy-good!
Photographing books, one day at a time.