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!
Descriptions from Goodreads.
For Mystery & Thriller fans:
The Disappearing by Lori Roy
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
For Fans of Chick Lit:
When Life Gives You Lululemons
For Fans of Fiction, Feel-Good, and Romance:
How To Walk Away by Katherine
For Fans of Fiction & Sports:
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
For Fans of Psychological Thrillers:
Her Pretty Face
For Fans of Young Adult & Retellings:
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
“When you don't know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else.” I adored this book, both deep and complex, I smiled through the entirety. It’s rare that I give a book 5 stars, especially when it’s not a psychological thriller, but I loved the message of this book: We are not our circumstances. What a great feel-good novel about overcoming adversities. “I know better than to look backward. I know how to try, and how to fail, and how to try again. I know how to live from the inside out. I know to savor every snuggle, every morning swim, every tickle, every meal, every warm bath, every moment when somebody makes you laugh. More than anything, I know that you just have to choose to make the best of things. You get one life, and it only goes forward. And there really are all kinds of happy endings”.
“We don’t fix everything, but we sure do make things better. That’s really become my whole guiding philosophy. I would never tell you that the life you wanted couldn’t have been exactly as great as you planned. But you have to live the life you have. You have to find inspiration in the struggle, and pull joy out of hardship. That’s what we try to do – counterbalance the suffering with laughter, fuzzy blankets, hugs, sing-alongs, sunny-day picnics, chocolate chip cookies, and wildflowers. Because that’s all we can do: carry the sorrow when we have to, and absolutely savor the joy we can.” For fans of 'Me Before You'.
He did it again! An atmospheric thriller that keeps you guessing until the very last page. This one includes all of my favourites: Unreliable narrator, family secrets, red herrings, gothic undertones and a complex plot, filled with psychological suspense. This is the perfect summer read!
The Last Time I Lied is one of those stay up all night and read no matter how early you have to get up in the morning for work. I was lost in the pages of this haunting story that spans generations. As we learned from Final Girls, Forests + Riley Sager = a terrifying experience.
Releases in July.
Thank you @duttonbooks and @riley.sager.
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.
Yet it's immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.
And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.
Photographing books, one day at a time.