August 2019 Book Release List

 
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It’s the last month of summer holidays, which means it’s high time to squeeze in all of the books you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to. Whether you’re on a beach, on your couch, or lounging on a patio, there’s no better past time than getting lost in a great story. August is ushering in a list of fantastic novels from incredible authors like Ruth Ware, Jia Tolentino, and Katherine Center. Whether you want romance, mystery or advice on navigating social media, there’s a book here that’s perfect for you.


1. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (Penguin Random House Canada)

Synopsis: New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino tackles internet culture, political divide, and women’s rights in her upcoming book of essays Trick Mirror. With her signature wit, intellect, and almost unbelievably gift for storytelling, Tolentino recounts her experiences studying at the University of Virginia, trying ecstasy for the first time, and participating in a reality television show in Puerto Rico. This books is perfect for disillusioned millennials who find themselves mindlessly scrolling through social media and hoping for another Fyre Festival.

Pub Date: August 6th

Read my full review here.

2. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (St. Martin’s Press)

Synopsis: Following up on the success of last novel How To Walk Away, Katherine Center is back with another uplifting story about love, perseverance and poise. Texas firefighter Cassie Hanwell’s life is upended when she has to move to Boston to care for her ailing mother. Facing hazing from her new male colleagues, Cassie isn’t sure she’ll be able to endure much longer on the new job. But a kind rookie and support from unexpected places may just be enough to keep her going. Things You Save in a Fire is a story about vulnerability, redemption, and the strength of the female spirit. It’s a perfect, feel-good novel to end your summer with.

Pub Date: August 13th

3. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (Simons & Schuster)

Synopsis: The Queen of Suspense has returned with what I believe to be her best novel yet. Set at a mysterious, atmospheric and very remote house in the Scottish highlands, The Turn of the Key follows a young woman named Rowan who takes on a job nannying for a technology-obsessed family. It turns out the fantastic pay and living perks may not actually be worth enduring the series of terrifying and ultimately deadly events that unfold over the course of her employment. Ware pays homage to Henry James classic horror novella The Turn of the Screw in her highly anticipated fifth novel.

Pub Date: August 27th

Read my full review here.

4. What You Did by Claire McGowan (Thomas & Mercer)

Synopsis: When Ali invites five of her closest university friends for a twenty-year reunion she thinks everything will be perfect. She’s finally got the perfect life - a great career, strong relationship, and lovely family - and is excited to show it off to her friends. But a shocking accusation against Ali’s husband leaves her questioning her allegiance, and struggling to choose between the friends she loves dearl and the husband she has built a life with.

Pub Date: August 1st




5. A Fire Sparkling by Julianne Maclean (Lake Union Publishing)

Synopsis: This multi-generational war saga explores the lives of a grandmother and granddaughter who, decades apart, under tumultuous relationships and learn dramatic life lessons. When Gillian discovers a photo of her grandmother in the arms of a Nazi officer, she becomes obsessed with unraveling the truth. Flipping between present day and 1939 England, A Fire Sparkling is about learning from the past and forging a life in the future, and ultimately surviving challenging times.

Pub Date: August 1st



6. Lost You by Haylen Beck (Crown Publishing)

Synopsis: Three years ago Libby’s husband left, leaving her to raise their infant son while struggling to start a writing career. Now, with a novel finally published, Libby feels like she may have things under control. The only problem is that she can’t stop looking over her shoulder, haunted by an event that took place when her son was born. Her lingering fears are proven valid when Ethan disappears from a remote resort, turning up later with a woman who claims to be his real mother. The two “mothers” face off in the ultimate fight: for the son they both claim is their own.

Pub Date: August 6th


7. The Perfect Son by Lauren North (Berkley)

Synopsis: After the death of her husband, the only thing holding Tess together is her son, Jamie. The morning after Jamie’s eighth birthday, Tess wakes up in the hospital certain of several things: she’s been stabbed, her son is missing, and her brother-in-law and grief therapist are involved. The only problem is that no one in the hospital will listen to her. It seems like the only way to find her son is to piece together the time between her husband’s death and Jamie’s disappearance.

Pub Date: August 13th



8. Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood (St. Martin’s Press)

Synopsis: It’s 1969, and Ginny Richardson’s heart has been shredded by her husband’s decision to send their daughter Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, to a special school called Willowridge. Two years later a series of articles surface exposing Willowridge for the horrific place it is, and Ginny decides she has to bring her daughter home. The events that unfold turn Ginny into more than just a desperate mother - now she’s a fugitive as well. Keeping Lucy is a story about a mother’s love, regret and redemption, and the sacred bond between mother and daughter.

Pub Date: August 6th

9. The Whisper Man by Alex North (Celadon Books)

Synopsis: A father and son are caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer in this riveting, terrifying thriller. After the death of his wife, Tom Kennedy moves his son to a small town in hopes of speeding up the healing process. What he doesn’t realize is that the town’s dark past - which includes the abduction and murder of five resident two decades earlier and the recent disappearance of a young boy - may be an impediment to moving on. Detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis take on the case, and find themselves face to face with the monster that haunted their town years ago.

Pub Date: August 20th


10. The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz (Dutton)

Synopsis: Ellie de Florent-Stinson is celebrating her 40th birthday wish an all-out party in Palm Springs. She had a thriving career, a large, loving family and a solid relationship with her husband. Her past, including one particularly eventful Sweet Sixteen party, is locked away…or at least so it seems. As her old and new friends, beloved family, and even some ex-husbands group together for her big night, it seems like the skeletons in Ellie’s closet may be about to break out into the light.

Pub Date: August 6th

7 Campus Novels To Read Before Returning To School

 
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There may still be a month of summer holidays left, but I’d imagine many of my readers are preparing to return to school in the fall. Whether you’re starting your freshman year of university or entering your last year of graduate studies, the beginning of the school year always feels like a time of anticipation and possibility. I’ve always thought college campuses were incredibly atmospheric, and that the inter-student dynamics make them the perfect setting for mysterious, creative novels.

In the spirit of returning to school I’ve made a list of my favourite campus novels. These books will either make you excited to return to school, or nostalgic for the days when you had to pack up your bags and move back to campus. Some of them might even make you think differently about the campuses you’ve lived and studied on.


 Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber, 2018)

In her Man Booker-nominated sophomore novel, Irish novelist Sally Rooney follows two Trinity College students as they navigate their relationship against a back drop of class difference, social pressure and rapidly evolving technology. Marianne and Connell are, as the novel’s title suggests, two normal people who become wrapped up in the world of education and enlightenment around them and have to fight to preserve the friendship they’ve cultivated over the years. Read my full review of Normal People here.

  

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (Random House, 2019)

In her lyrical, poetic sophomore sci-fi novel, Karen Thompson Walker takes us to the campus of a California university just as the school year is beginning. A bizarre illness, which causes its sufferers to fall into a sleep from which they can’t be woken, is spreading across campus, leaving students, previously basking in the haze of newfound freedom, terrified and frustrated. In her ethereal prose, Thompson Walker perfectly captures the anticipation and magic of starting a new life in a new place with new people. Read my full review of The Dreamers here.


Bunny by Mona Awad (Viking, 2019)

In this terrifyingly hilarious take on female friendship, author Mona Award transports readers to the campus of Warren University, an elite East Coast school with one of the best MFA programs in America. Samantha Heather Mackey, a writer entering her last year of graduate studies, has been at odds with the girls in her program – a group of bubbly, bizarre women who refer to one another as “Bunny” – since starting school. After finding herself inevitably wrapped up in their strange rituals, Samantha comes to realize just how problematic their behaviour really is. Read my full review of Bunny here. 


The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Knopf, 1992) 

Pullitzer Prize-winning author Donna Tartt brings a college campus to life in her mythology-infused novel about a group of classic’s students who become wrapped up in a series of dangerous events that eventually lead to murder. Looking back on his past, narrator Richard Papen examines the circumstances that led to his involvement in the crime. The Secret History offers a close look at class difference on university campuses, and at the kind of ritualistic, cult-like behaviour that can arise when a group of young people feels incredibly passionate about a subject.

  

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra (ECW Press, 2018)

Universities, while undoubtedly places of higher learning and enlightenment, can also be cesspools for bad behaviour. In her passionate, riveting novel The Red Word, Sarah Henstra shines a light on the difficulties women face on college campuses. When a young woman moves into a house full of feminists and women’s studies majors, she doesn’t realizes that she’s about to be dragged into the middle of a war between her new housemates and the fraternity in which her boyfriend is deeply involved. The Red Word’s vivid characters and climactic ending will stay with you for weeks after you’ve finished reading. Read my full review of The Red Word here.

  

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer (Riverhead, 2018)

A freshman in college, Greer Kadetsky is starstruck when she meets professor Faith Frank, a pillar of the women’s movement for decades. When Faith invites Greer to work with her, Greer finds herself pulled away from her relationship with her boyfriend and all of the things she’s always thought she wanted. The Female Persuasion is a story about a young woman’s desire to be admired, and the complex relationship between womanhood and ambition.

 

Black Star by Maureen Medved (Anvil Press, 2018)

A philosopher and professor on the brink of publishing a second book and securing tenure, Del Hanks is overwhelmed by fear, social isolation and apprehension about aging. She finds herself incredibly jealous of a young faculty member named Helene who has just published her first book to widespread acclaim. Black Star follows Del as her mental state declines, exploring the female experience in academia and the all-encompassing desire for power of a woman who came from almost nothing.

Travel Destinations For Book Lovers


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Warm weather always sparks my wanderlust, leaving me daydreaming about booking trips to all the places I’ve never been. I’ve been lucky to be able to do quite a lot of exploring so far in my life, having spent a semester living abroad in Denmark during my undergraduate degree. But since I’ve started investing my time and energy into reading and writing about reading I’ve realized just how much books ignite my travel bug.

Of course I can’t simply book a trip to every single place I read about. I definitely don’t have the time or money to do that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream. Last week I posted on my Bookstagram page asking my followers what their favourite book-related travel destinations were, and from their responses and some of my own experiences I compiled this list of 15 Travel Destinations for Book Lovers. So if you’ve got a combination of the book bug and travel bug, this literary tourism list is definitely for you. Let’s dive in!


Edinburgh, Scotland

What makes it so literary?

Beautiful Edinburgh was the first city to ever earn the UNESCO City of Literature designation in 2004. With its picturesque cobblestone streets and majestic castle-on-a-hill, its easy to see why Edinburgh has inspired to many writers and storytellers over the years.

Bookish attractions

Every summer authors, publishers and readers flock to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Attendees can network with key industry players, attend interesting panel discussions, and browse through thousands of titles published by companies from around the world. Visitors to Edinburgh can also take in the sights of Edinburgh University, home of a renowned creative writing program. The city is also home to several historic book stores.

Fun bookish fact

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Edinburgh.

What to read before you travel to Scotland:

  • The Outlander series by Diana Galbadon

  • How The Scots Invented The Modern World by Arthur L. Herman

Dublin, Ireland

What makes it so literary?

Also named a UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin, Ireland is a thriving centre for literary arts. The home of famed writers like George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, Dublin continues to foster written creativity through its universities. Trinity College, Dublin is home to the Oscar Wilde Centre.

Bookish attractions

The Dublin Writers Museum and the National Print Museum are two of Dublin’s must-see bookish attractions. Bookish pubs and bars are also a great way to experience Irish culture and have fun at the same time. The city even has a Dublin Literary Pub Crawl where attendees can learn about famed authors favourite drinking spots. Trinity College’s library, Trinity’s Long Room, is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and is also a must-visit for book lovers. Book festivals like the Mountains to the Sea Festival and the Dublin Book Festival also draw in readers from around the world.

Fun bookish fact

Sally Rooney, one of 2019’s most popular writers, studied at Trinity College Dublin, and both of her books have been set in the city.

What to read before traveling to Ireland:

Havana, Cuba

What makes it so literary?

The beautiful, tropical city of Havana, Cuba has a deep-rooted literary history. Cuba is one of the most literate countries on earth because of a campaign implemented by Fidel Castro. Havana has been home to famous writers and journalists like Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn.

Bookish attractions

Grab a drink in Ernest Hemingway’s favourite bar El Floridita or wander through the aisles of the bookstores in Havana’s beautiful historic quarter. Take a day trip out to Hemingway’s home, which has been beautifully preserved as a museum, or ride in a vintage car along the coast to soak in some of the sights and sounds that inspired his writing. If you’re looking to get away from cold weather, plan a trip to Cuba during February and attend the Havana International Book Fair, Cuba’s biggest cultural event. You can read about my experiences at the book fair HERE.

Fun bookish fact

Cuba’s literacy rate is estimated to be as high as 97%.

What to read before traveling to Cuba

  • Next Year In Havana and When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

  • This Is Cuba by David Ariosto.

Oxford, England

What makes it so literary?

Oxford University is the pinnacle of higher education, and has also been home to some of the greatest writers of all time. Philip Pullman, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical worlds were all inspired by and created at Oxford, making this beautiful city one of the world’s greatest literary hotspots.

Bookish attractions

See Tolkien’s alma mater by strolling around Exeter College, or see where he taught English at Merton College. His home, where he wrote The Hobbit, is also still standing and is a frequent tourist destination. Stop for a pint at The Eagle and Child Pub, a favourite haunt of “The Inklings”, a group of writers including Tolien and Lewis. If you’re a fan of His Dark Materials, you’ll want to stop by the university’s Botanical Garden, where you can see the bench Lyra and will promise to meet on in their parallel universes.

Fun bookish fact

Scenes from the Harry Potter movie series were filmed at Oxford University, which looks quite a lot like Hogwarts. You can even take a Harry Potter themed tour through the campus.

What to read before traveling to Oxford

  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

  • Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Bath, England

What makes it so literary?

As the home of our lady and literary saviour Jane Austen, Bath comes by it’s bookish tourism honestly. The beautiful Roman town serves as the setting for her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and also boasts some of the most beautiful architecture, history and scenery in England. Bath also has connections to Frankenstein author and horror-genre creator Mary Shelley, as well as to Charles Dickens.

Bookish attractions

Stop by Dicken’s former home at 35 St. James Square before strolling over to Royal Crescent, one of the most beautiful streets in Bath that’s featured in Austen’s novels. Visit Bath Old Books, a lovely antiquarian bookstore before heading over to the Jane Austen Centre where you can learn incredible facts about her life and work. Finally take a jaunt over to Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights or Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath for a little more shopping.

Fun bookish fact

Jane Austen is so central to Bath’s history and culture that the city even holds a festival in her honour featuring full-on reenactments.

What to read before traveling to Bath

  • Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen,

Iowa City, USA

What makes it so literary?

Iowa City is home to the Iowa Writers Workshop, arguably the most highly regarded school for writers in the world. Alumni of the program include Flannery O’Connor, Elin Hilderbrand, John Irving, and many, many others.

Bookish attractions

Visit the famous green and white writer’s workshop house right along the Iowa River before heading to Prairie Lights, the city’s beloved bookstore that frequently hosts author readings and literary society events. Take a stroll down the Literary Walk along Iowa Avenue and see the bronze plates filled with quotes from various authors and then head to the Iowa Writer’s Library. The city hosts a book festival every year, so if you plan your trip wisely you might be able to stop in and meet some authors and publishers. Just outside of the city in Coralville you can visit the Iowa River Landing Sculpture Walk, a collection of 8 literary themed sculptures.

Fun bookish fact

Like many other cities in this list, Iowa City has the designation of UNESCO City of Literature.

What to read before traveling to Iowa

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (who happens to be from Savannah, Georgia, one of the other literary cities named on this list!)


Portland, Oregon

What makes it so literary?

Oregonians love reading. Portland’s library system is the second most used in the country, falling just behind New York’s. The beautiful West Coast city was also home to Ramona and Beezus writer Beverly Cleary and poet William Stafford. Oregon is also the setting for well-known Ken Kesey novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion.

Bookish attractions

Spend a few hours wandering through Powell’s Books or plan your trip during the Portland Book Festival. Visit statues of Beverly Cleary’s characters at the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden or walk through downtown and read quotes from famous authors inscribed in the ground. See the giant book mural painted on the Portland State University parking garage. End your day with a drink at Tugboat Brewery, a small, book-filled pub.

Fun bookish fact

Portland is home to Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world.

What to read before traveling to Portland

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey

  • Dies The Fire by S.M. Stirling

  • Girl by Blake Nelson

Helsingor, Denmark

What makes it so literary?

Just up the coast from Copenhagen, Helsingor is home to Kronborg Castle, famously depicted in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Denmark has been home to some of literature’s greatest figures, and strolling through Helsingor’s beautiful little streets is a magical, inspiring experience.

Bookish attractions

Walk around the property of Kronborg Castle and even take a photo with a recreation of the setting of the famous “To Be Or Not To Be” scene. You can also take a tour of the inside of the 16th century castle. From Helsingor it’s also easy to hop on a train to Copenhagen and pay homage to Hans Christian Andersen by visiting the Little Mermaid statue or stopping by the statue in his honour in the King’s Garden.

Fun bookish fact

In Hamlet the name Helsingor is translated in Elsinore for English readers.

What to read before traveling to Denmark

  • The Little Book of Hygge and the Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

  • How To Be Danish by Patrick Kingsley

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

  • Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson

  • The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Santiago, Chile

What makes it so literary?

Chile is home to some of the world’s most renowned poets, and its capital city is home to many literary cafes, bookstores and literary monuments. Other well-known Chilean authors include Isabel Allende and Alejandro Zambra.

Bookish attractions

Santiago is known for its literary cafes, where tourists and locals can enjoy a unique blend of culture and recreation. Grab a coffee and sit down to read at Balmaceda or Bustamante. Visit La Chascona, Neruda’s home in Santiago’s Bellavista District now preserved as a museum, or head to Cerro San Lucia park to see the elaborate mural dedicated to Mistral.

Fun bookish fact

Chile is often referred to as “The Land of Poets” because two of the country’s poets, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for their work.

What to read before traveling to Santiago

  • Travels in a Thin Country by Sara Wheeler

  • By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano

  • Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

  • The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

Hay-On-Wye, Wales

What makes it so literary?

Hay-On-Wye is literally called “The Town of Books” because of its numerous bookstores and its famous annual literary festival. The town even has some truly magical outdoor book shops for tourists to stroll through as they explore.

Bookish attractions

Browse through the bookshelves of Hay-On-Wye’s famous Murder & Mayhem bookstore, or plan your trip to coincide with the town’s incredibly popular book festival. Visit Hay Castle’s Honesty Bookshop, where you’ll find two giant walls lined with books selling for under one pound. Spend an afternoon browsing and lounging in the beautiful plant filled splendor of Richard Booth’s Bookshop.

Fun bookish fact

Hay-On-Wye has well under 2,000 permanent residents, but has more than two dozen book shops, many of the home to antique books and historical texts.

What to read before traveling to Wales

  • The Seeing Stone by Arthur Crossley-Holland

  • Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

  • How Green Way My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Savannah, Georgia

What makes it so literary?

Savannah is the setting of one of my all-time favourite books, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. The book, which tells the true story of a criminal trial, launched the beautiful coastal city into the tourist spotlight. With its picturesque streets, parks and town squares and beautiful waterfront promenade, Savannah is the ultimate inspiration for a writer.

Bookish attractions

Take a tour of beautiful and haunting Bonaventure Cemetery and stroll through the trees hung with Spanish moss. Visit the headstones of “Moon River” songwriter Johnny Mercer and then drive out to the beautiful beaches of Tybee Island. Stop by the house that serves as the setting of Midnight and then wander through ethereally beautiful Forsyth Park. Visit lovely bookstores like The Book Lady Bookstore and E Shaver Bookseller.

Fun bookish fact

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil broke all previous New York Times bestseller records by spending 216 weeks on the list.

What to read before traveling to Savannah

  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

  • Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

Buenos Aires, Argentina

What makes it so literary?

Buenos Aires has a plethora of bookshops and literary themed events. The beautiful South American city is also the hometown of literary icons like Jorge Luis Borges and Victoria Ocampo.

Bookish attractions

Visited some of Buenos Aires bookshops like El Ateneo Grand Splendid or English-only bookshop Walrus. Book a trip during Ferio del Libro, one of Latin America’s largest book fairs. Visited Biblioteca Nacional, where Jorge Luis Borges was once director. Stroll down the famous Avenida Corrientes and peer inside various independently owned bookstores and cafes.

Fun bookish fact

In 2015 The Guardian reported that Buenos Aires had more bookshops per capita than any other city in the world.

What to read before traveling to Buenos Aires

  • The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

  • Ficciones and Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

St. Petersburg, Russia

What makes it so literary?

Home to literary greats like Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, beautiful and majestic St. Petersburg is one of the centres of the literary world. The city has worked hard to preserve literary hotspots and create monuments and museums to honour its late writing heroes.

Bookish attractions

Kick off your Russian adventure with a trip to the memorial apartment and museum for Alexander Pushkin. The museum is settled in the lower floor of a mansion where Pushkin lived with his family from 1836 on, and where he worked on some of his greatest pieces. He even died in the building. Next wander through Literatorskie Mostki, a beautiful cemetery where many famous Russian writers, scientists and intellectuals have been laid to rest. Stop in at Cafe Brodyachaya Sobaka (Stray Dog), a centre of St. Petersburg cultural and literary life in the Silver Age. It reopened in 2001.

Fun bookish fact

One of St. Petersburg’s more unusual monuments is a large limestone sculpture of a nose, called Mayor Kovalev’s Nose. The monument was created based on the story Nose by Nikolay Gogol.

What to read before traveling to St. Petersburg

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  • Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Stockholm, Sweden

What makes it so literary?

Stockholm has been home to the creators of some of the world’s most iconic characters. Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstockings and a variety of other fairytale characters, lived in the city for years. Sweden is also the setting of the quintessential Nordic Noir novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and all of its successors.

Bookish attractions

Take a tour of Junibacken, a museum and play park on Stockholm’s central island dedicated to Astred Lindgren. This is the perfect spot to stop as a family - for kids it will be like walking into a fairytale. You can also visit Lindgren’s former apartment, now turned into a museum. If you’re looking for something a little darker, book a Stieg Larsson tour and see what Nordic Noir is all about. End your trip with a visit to the Stockholm Public Library, a beautiful spot for both literature and architecture lovers alike.

Fun bookish fact

In recent years international interest in Swedish novels has increased dramatically. Between 2002 and 2015, the number of foreign language translations increased by more than 50%, from 500 to 800.

What to read before traveling to Stockholm:

  • The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Melbourne, Australia

What makes it so literary?

The capital of Victoria is the epicentre of Australian literature. The home of many notable authors and essayists, and the location of a variety of writing programs and centres, Melbourne is a beautiful travel destination for book lovers everywhere.

Bookish attractions

The State Library of Victoria is one of the oldest free libraries in the world, and is Australia’s oldest library. The beautiful, ornate building is the first stop any book tourist should make when traveling to Melbourne. The library is home to the Wheeler Centre for Books, which hosts an annual book/writers festival that draws hundreds of tourists. Library lovers can also check out the Melbourne Athenaeum Library, the oldest subscription library in Victoria. Bookstores like Reader’s Feast and Collected Works are also must-see spots in the city. End your day with a trip to The Drunken Poet, an Irish pub dedicated to - you guessed it - poetry.

Fun bookish fact

The town of Clunes, also in Victoria, became the first Southern Hemisphere city to earn the designation of “International Booktown.”

What to read before traveling to Melbourne

  • Monkey Grip by Helen Garner

  • On The Beach by Nevil Schute

Concord, Massachusetts

What makes it so literary?

In the 19th century, a rich literary culture developed in Concord, mostly based around poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s residence in the area. His entourage included Little Women author Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.

Bookish attractions

Visit The Orchard House, the home where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in the 1800s, or walk through the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, which has been preserved as a museum. Walk through beautiful and haunting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where the entire Alcott family is buried, as well as Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau. Finish your stay will trips to the Concord Bookshop, a lovely independent bookstore, and the Concord Free Public Library. And if you’re looking for a place to stay, the Hawthorne Inn is built on land integral to literary history.

Fun bookish fact

Many Sleepy Hollow Cemetery visitors have been known to leave notes, poems, and other written works on Henry David Thoreau’s grave, weighed down by stones or flowers or branches.

What to read before traveling to Concord

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

  • Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Prague, Czech Republic

What makes it so literary?

Aside from its breathtaking beauty, medieval feels and incredible architecture, Prague has also been home to some of the greatest literary minds in history. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek and Milan Kundera are just a few of the renowned writers to have called Prague home.

Bookish attractions

If you want to hit all of Prague’s numerous literary hotspots, book a 2-hour walking tour of book and writing-related destinations. Visit the whimsical statue honouring Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis in Prague’s beautiful and historic Jewish Quarter. Wander through the Old Town Square, home to the world’s oldest functioning clock, and then stop for a refreshment at the Golden Tiger Pub, a favourite haunt of Closely Watched Trains author Bohumil Hrabal.

Fun bookish fact

While still sitting as President of the United States, Bill Clinton made a stop at Golden Tiger Pub to pay homage to some of the Czech Republic’s biggest literary names.

What to read before traveling to Prague

  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  • The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera



Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

What makes it so literary?

Arguably one of the greatest Canadian characters of all time, Anne of Green Gables is a product of Canada’s beautiful East Coast. Cavendish, Prince Edward Island inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write a character that captured the imaginations of so many young Canadians. The beautiful beaches and lovely historic architecture on the island make it the perfect place for a writing retreat or a book-filled holiday.

Bookish attractions

Visit the Green Gables historic site in Cavendish and take a tour around Anne’s beautiful rural home. You won’t be far from PEI’s capital city of Charlottetown, so take the chance to stroll through the beautiful town and visit independent bookstores like Bookmark or take a trip to one of the province’s lovely red sand beaches.

Fun bookish fact

Montgomery began writing Anne of Green Gables in 1905, and after publication tourists began flooding to Canada’s smallest province, eventually leading to the creation of Prince Edward Island National Park.

What to read before traveling to Prince Edward Island:

  • Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

The Best Books For Summer 2019

 
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I’ve never been a fan of the term “beach read”, partially because I think it gets used a little flippantly at times and partially because I’ve never really been that much of a beach person. That being said, I do believe that some books are better suited for summer reading than others, and this year I’ve decided to put together a list of my top recommendations for the hot months. Though the books on this list are all unique and original, what they all have in common is that their gripping, well written, and highly entertaining. Let’s get right into it!

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

A violent event on summer night shapes the lives of two families living next door to each other. Their youngest children, previously best friends, are torn apart, and spent the next decade of their lives slowly finding their way back to one another. This beautiful novel about family, friendship and forgiveness is the perfect summer read, and Mary Beth Keane’s lovely writing will draw you in and keep you turning pages at lightspeed. Read my full review HERE and buy your own copy HERE.

The New Me by Halle Butler

A cynical 30-year-old woman can’t quite get her life together, but when a potential job opening comes up she finds herself completely obsessed with the “new life” the position could offer her. The only problem is that she’s spending so much time focusing on the future that she may be ruining her chances in the present. This hilarious and critical office novel is the perfect thing to read during some time off from work over the summer. Read my full review HERE and buy your own copy HERE.

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

It’s not a summer reading list without a gripping psychological thriller, and the author of Three Days Missing is back to deliver on that front. Beth has been planning to flee her abusive husband for a year, and now the day has come and she’s fully equipped with a new identity and plans to move to a new city. Hundreds of miles away Jeffrey returns home from work to find his wife Sabine missing, with all signs pointing to foul play. The police officer on the case refuses to give up, and what unfolds is a riveting story filled with suspense and carefully created character. Buy your own copy HERE.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Devastated by a recent break up, a 38-year-old Ph.D. candidate takes an offer to house sit on Venice Beach for the summer. As her mental and emotional states declined she becomes wrapped up in a mysterious romance with a guy who may or may not be a merman. Melissa Broder’s hilarious and highly unique perspective of femininity in the modern age will draw you in and make you reconsider your view of the modern world. The Pisces is a new take on the classic summer romance novel. Read my full review HERE and buy your own copy HERE.

This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps

Beloved actress Busy Philipps (known for her roles in Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks and ER) shares stories of her childhood and the path that led her to fame. With heartbreaking honesty, keen analytical thought, and a sharp sense of humour, Philipps explores what it’s like to be a woman in the spotlight, and her personal stories will draw you in and keep you wanting more. Read my full review HERE and buy your own copy HERE.


The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The author of All The Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger is back with another page-turning thriller. A young woman spends her summer working in a small coastal vacation town, but finds her life turned upside down when new evidence proves her best friends’ death a year earlier may not have been a suicide after all. Matters are complicated by the fact that she works for her best friends’ family - one of the wealthiest families in town. Miranda’s mastery of the mystery genre and the beach-side setting make this book a slam dunk for summer reading. Buy your own copy HERE.

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

The hilarious women behind hit true crime podcast My Favorite Murder have finally obeyed their fans’ command and written a joint memoir. Tag along as K&G tell stories about their experiences with addiction, failed romance, and mental illness, all with their signature dark humour and blunt honesty. This non-fiction story will entertain beach readers, road trippers, and staycationers alike. Buy your own copy HERE.

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Acclaimed essayist and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott shares stories of what happens when you check off all of the boxes in life’s to-do list only to find that you may need to completely rewrite the list. This essay collection contains incredibly insight on working life, finding happiness and opening oneself up to life’s possibilities. I Miss You When I Blink is just the right combination of uplifting, interesting and affecting to make it the perfect book for summer. Buy your own copy HERE.

Roar by Cecelia Ahern

In her new short story collection, Cecelia Ahern, author of Where Rainbows End, explores female life from a variety of vantage points. One woman is tortured by sinister bite marks appearing on her skin, another is swallowed up by the floor during a mortifying presentation, and yet another tries to return and exchange her husband like an ill-fitting piece of clothing. Each story has the strength to stand alone, but together they have the power to remind readers just how incredibly women really are. Buy your own copy HERE!

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Romance meets 1960s rock & roll in this oral-history-style novel from the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Singer Daisy Jones joins forces with renowned band The Six to write and record one best-selling album. But her time with the band will change her - and her new co-creators - forever. Reid explores difficult topics like mental illness and addiction, but ultimately Daisy Jones & The Six is a fun, freeing story that will make you want to turn on some music and dance. Read my full review HERE and buy your own copy HERE!

What To Read In June


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I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through 2019! It’s been such a great year for the literary industry so far and there’s no sign that things are going to slow down anytime soon. So many incredible books are hitting shelves this month, and, in hopes of making your reading choices a bit easier, I’ve compiled a list of the most exciting new releases to read in June. These books are perfect for outdoor summer reading and holiday relaxing, and there’s something for everyone in this exciting list, whether it’s Nordic Noir, romantic comedy, family drama, or something in between!

Now let’s dive right in to the titles hitting shelves in June…


I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

Pub date: June 4th

Synopsis: After the sudden death of their parents, the MacAllister children return to the summer camp where they spent their childhoods. The four sisters and one brother haven’t returned to Camp Macaw since a tragic and mysterious accident two decades earlier. Before they can decide what to do with a multi-million dollar property, the siblings have to deal with a shocking clause in their father’s’ will that forces them to finally face their pasts. I’ll Never Tell is a meticulously crafted family drama that’s already been compared to Liane Moriarty’s suspenseful work.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Pub date: June 4th

Synopsis: Described as a “modern day Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love,” Ayesha At Last follows Ayesha Shamsi’s life with her boisterous Muslim family. After setting aside her dreams of being a poet to work as a teacher so she can repay debts to her wealthy uncle, Ayesha meets a smart and handsome but conservative and judgment man named Khalid. When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Ayesha’s younger cousin, Ayesha must confront her feelings and grapple with her understanding of the world.

Publisher: Berkley

Your Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Pub date: June 4th

Synopsis: The author of Find You In The Dark follows up on his hit novel with a new thriller, this time about a young filmmaker named Blanche who has spent her life trying to distance herself from her father, a now-dead cult leader and murderer. When her mother dies mysteriously, Blanche returns home and realizes there is more to the death than police are letting on. She begins to wonder if her father’s cult has found a new life and if they are coming after her next.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Pub Date: June 4th

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love is back with this 1940s New York City love story. Aging Vivian Morris looks back on her youth and remembers her life after being kicked out of Vasser College and sent to live in Manhattan with her Aunt Peg, the owner of the quirky Lily Playhouse. At Lily, Vivian is introduced to a series of interesting and peculiar people. But when a personal mistake results in professional Scandal, Vivian’s life is turned upside down in ways she won’t fully comprehends for years to come.

Publisher: Riverhead Books

The Summer We Lost Her by Tish Cohen

Pub date: June 4th

Synopsis: A summer at the lakehouse seems like the perfect cure for an ailing marriage between a driven lawyer and an Olympic equestrian. Matt and Elise Sorensen, and their daughter Gracie, are in the Adirondacks preparing to sell their lakefront property, and have agreed to use the time to reconnect. But a disquietly attractive neighbour, the resurfacing of painful memories, and Gracie’s sudden disappearance thrown Matt and Elise into the worst situation of their lives.

Publisher: Gallery Books

The Bobcat by Katherine Forbes Riley

Pub date: June 5th

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a sexual assault, a young art student named Laurelie transfers from her busy city university to a small college in rural Vermont. She only feels truly comfortable when she takes walks through the woods with a young child she babysits. One day they pair come upon an injured pregnant bobcat, and shortly afterwards meet a hiker who has been following the wildcat for hundreds of miles. Laurelie finds herself mirrored in the injured animal, while the hiker finds himself drawn in to Laurelie’s healing the same way he’s been drawn into the bobcats’.

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora

Pub date: June 11th

Synopsis: Abby Graven never accomplished the things she wanted in life - her burgeoning art career felt flat and she now lives in small-town Michigan obsessing over her childhood best friend Elise’s Hollywood fame. When the pair are reunited at a high school reunion, Abby is shocked to find that Elise still considers her a friend. Their lives become intricately intertwined when Abby follows Elise to Los Angeles in pursuit of success, friendship and maybe something a bit more nefarious. The Paper Wasp is about a women determined to fulfill her destiny.

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

One Minute Later by Susan Lewis

Pub date: June 11th

Synopsis: Vivienne Shager’s life is going in the right direction. She’s got a great job, wonderful friends, and a beautiful apartment. But when she has a heart attack on her 27th birthday she is forced to rewind and return to her childhood home in a small seaside town. Someone in her family has been keeping a secret for thirty years, and now that it directly affects her life, Vivienne is determined to bring it out into the light.

Publisher: HarperCollins

The Girl Without Skin by Mads Peter Nordbo

Pub date: June 11th

Synopsis: Nordic noir meets viking history in this creepy, twisting mystery novel by Danish author Mads Peter Nordbo. When a mummified viking corpse is discovered in Greenland, journalist Matthew Cave is sent out to cover the story. But when he arrives the at the scene he discovers the mummy is gone and it’s armed police guard has been murdered is a way that eerily echoes the details of a series of unsolved murders years before. Matthew finds help solving the case form a young Greenlandic woman who, at the age of 14, was charged with killing her father in the same shocking manner.

Publisher: Text Publishing

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Pub date: June 11th

Synopsis: New York City cop Barry Sutton investigates a bizarre phenomenon dubbed False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious affliction by which sufferers are driven mad with memories of a life they never lived. Neuroscientist Helena Smith has spent her life working to create a technology that allows people to preserve and relive memories. They’ll have to work together to battle the syndrome as it begins to rip apart the fabric of human societies in this highly original science-fiction page-turner.

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Pub date: June 11th

Synopsis: Jennifer Weiner explores two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they try to find their place in a rapidly evolving world while also staying true to themselves. Jo and Bethie Kaufman grow and change with America, enduring tragedy, trauma and more throughout the time of Woodstock, the Vietnam War and women’s liberation. It’s a timely depiction of femininity in the almost-modern world and a demonstration that no two people are the same - even those so closely related.

Publisher: Atria Books

The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

Pub date: June 11th

Synopsis: After the death of her first husband Alice wasn’t sure she’d ever be truly happy again. But now, married to Nathan and mother to two children, Alice finally feels at peace. Her best friend Beth is her confidante, and when Nathan begins acting strangely, Alice turns to her for advice. But what Alice doesn’t realize is that Beth may not be exactly who she seems.

Publisher: Minotaur Books

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Pub date: June 18th

Synopsis: Acclaimed and bestselling author Megan Miranda follows up on past hit novels like All The Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger with this twisty turny story about an East Coast vacation town. Avery Greer runs a cottage rental business for a wealthy family in Littleport, Maine. Her life is turned upside down when her best friend - and the family’s youngest daughter - dies mysteriously. Avery grapples with her loss and finds herself drawn into the complicated investigation.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

Pub date: June 18th

Synopsis: Doctors Miles and Grace Markell seem like the perfect power couple. They run a wellness retreat in the Mayan Riviera and help spouses deal with marital struggles. But when Miles goes missing during a retreat session, everyone becomes a suspect. The couples are trapped at the retreat because of an impending hurricane, and as suspicions and fears run high, things are sure to get out of hand quickly. Fans of Shari Lapena and Agatha Christie will love this tropical page-turner.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada

I Know You by Annabel Kantaria

Pub date: June 21st

Synopsis: Having just moved from Sunny California to London, England soon-to-be mother Taylor Watson finds herself feeling lonely and isolated with her husband often traveling for work. She finally starts making friends when she joins a book club and walking group. But problems arise when Taylor learns her new friends have secrets and that their very public social media exploits have been attracting dangerous attention. I Know You will make readers reconsider how well they know the people around them.

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Pub date: June 25th

Synopsis: For nearly a year Beth Murphy has been planning to escape from her abusive husband. She’s got a new name, new identity, and plans to flee to a new city. A few hundred miles away a man returns home from work to discover that his wife, Sabine, is missing with signs pointing to foul play. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find her. Nothing in the gripping thriller is certain except that someone is lying. Fans of Shari Lapena, Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins will devour this new novel from the author of Three Days Missing.

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada, Park Row

After The End by Clare Mackintosh

Pub date: June 25th

Synopsis: The bestselling author of I Let You Go, Let Me Lie and I See You is back with a heart-wrenching family drama. Max and Pip are the strongest couple anyone knows, but when their son gets sick they find themselves in disagreement about what the doctors are advising them to do - they each want a different future for their son. But what if they could have both? In similar style to Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, After The End is an exploration of love, loss and recovery.

Publisher: Sphere

The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate

Pub date: June 25th

Synopsis: In 18th century Venice two orphans become friends at the Hospital of the Incurables. Violetta and Mino dream of escaping, but when Violetta’s voice is noticed by the resident Maestro and she is chosen for the Incurable’s world famous coro, she must sign an oath to never sing outside it’s church doors again. After a declaration of love falls flat, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family while Violetta begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife. Eventually they find each other once again in a shocking confrontation.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

11 Bookish Podcasts To Listen To


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As a writer, I find the best way to learn and develop in my craft is to actively soak up as much information as I can get from other writers around me. It’s part of the reason I started my How Writers Write segment - to quite literally learn and share tips and tricks for staying focused, finding inspiration, and self-motivation. There’s so much to be learned from reading other people’s work and figuring out why they choose to use the words they use or how they came up with a brilliant story idea. 

I’ve talked in the past about my love of podcasts. I think they are such a fantastic education tool. In half an hour or an hour you can learn about any topic imaginable, and you can do it while simultaneously cleaning, cooking, excising or commuting to work. Every single day I listen to podcasts, and have actually taken up running because of the peaceful alone time if offers me for listening to my podcasts. When I first starting listening, I was mostly tuning in to shows about true crime, current affairs, or Canadian news. More recently I’ve started actively seeking out podcasts about health and wellness, and, more importantly, reading and writing. Over the past month I’ve been compiling a list of my favourite book and author-related podcast episodes, and thought I’d share them on my blog for anyone interested in listening. 

It’s fascinating to hear writers talking about their inspiration for novels, and listen to their thoughts on praise and criticism they’ve received. It’s also invaluable to learn about the places they work and how they make money from writing. And, finally, I find it quite uplifting and inspirational to hear from people who’ve succeeded and worked hard in a notoriously challenging industry, especially when the things they’re writing fall outside of the norms of popular fiction. 

I’m definitely going to keep you guys updated with my current favourite episodes, so stayed tuned for more of these posts to come in the future. Now without further ado, here are my current top bookish podcast recommendations: 



The Best Podcasts About Books

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1. This American Life, Episode 664 - The Room Of Requirement.

In one of the best episodes from this incredibly famous podcast, Ira Glass and the TAL team share stories about the magic of libraries. It’s all about the unexpected things that can happen when you step into a building meant for sharing thousands of books, and how libraries can be places of reunion, remembrance and love. 

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2. Meet The Writers, Episode 24 - Lauren Groff.

The incredible Lauren Groff, author of bestselling novel Fates & Furies and short story collection Florida, talks about her political views, her experience living in the Southern United States, and how story ideas come to her. She explains her mothering methods and her desire to maintain a life as an individual even with a husband and two kids. 

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3. New Yorker Radio Hour, Naomi Klein interviewed by Jia Tolentino.

New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino (who also happens to be one of my all time favourite writers and a soon-to-be-published author) talks to Canadian bestselling author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein. Known for her books The Shock Doctrine and The Take, Klein currently serves as the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. What’s so exciting to me about this podcast episode is being able to listen to a pair of incredibly articulate, introspective and analytical women talk about things they are genuinely passionate and educated about.

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4. I Have To Ask with Isaac Chotiner - Ottessa Moshfegh.

It’s no secret to anyone who’s read my blog that I love Ottessa Moshfegh’s work. I love it’s originality and unflinching depictions of human physicality and emotion. More than that, I love the way Moshfegh can take something grotesque and off-putting and turn it into a captivating story. In this interview with Isaac Chotiner, Moshfegh explains how she became a Man Booker-shortlisted novelist, her thoughts on people’s criticism of her female characters, and her take on the politicization of art in modern society. She’s eloquent and charming and thoughtful, and hearing her speak about her work makes it all the more interesting. You can read my reviews of Moshfegh’s most recent novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation HERE and her short story collection Homesick For Another World HERE.

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5. Armchair Expert - Live from Chicago with Gillian Flynn.

Crime fiction Queen Gillian Flynn shares her thoughts on feminism, inspiration and meeting David Fincher in this hilarious live interview with Dax Sheppard. It’s fascinating to hear so much humour and brightness from a woman known for her incredibly dark and frightening novels, and it’s very motivating to learn about her years spent writing for Entertainment Weekly and trade magazines before finally breaking into the literary world. 

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6. Fully Booked by Kirkus Reviews - Jessica Knoll.

New York Time bestselling author Jessica Knoll, known for her intricate, character-driven novels The Luckiest Girl Alive and The Perfect Sister, dives into a deep conversation about feminism, reality television, editing and writing from an unfamiliar perspective. I loved this podcast because Jessica Knoll, despite all of her success and all of the attention she’s garnered for her novels and essays, just seems so down to earth, relatable and nice.

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7. The B&N Podcast - Stephanie Land

Stephanie Land, author of this year’s bestselling memoir Maid, joins Miwa Messar to talk about her experiences of being a single mother living in poverty, and how she went from working as a house cleaner to penning a wildly popular book. Land shares her thoughts on society’s misperceptions about poor families, and how she made time to work on her writing despite having endless duties as a mother and full-time employee.

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8. The Penguin Podcast - Jo Nesbo with Konnie Huq 

Sensational Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo joins Konnie Huq to discuss his world famous detective character Harry Hole and the latest installation in his bestselling series. Nesbo shares his experiences balancing a career as a renowned author and the lead singer in a chart-topping band, and talks about his favourite coffee shop and why he decided to bring Hole out of retirement.

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9. Guardian Books Podcast - Nina Stibbe and the price of an expert bookseller.

Nina Stibbe talks to The Guardian about her book Reasons to be Cheerful and shares her perspective on finding humour in unlikely situations and being labelled a “funny woman.” Stibbe also talks to Sian Cain about her knack for writing dialogue and explains her thoughts on a petition from U.K. staff of Waterstones asking to be paid a living wage, exploring the important role booksellers play within the company.

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10. Writers & Company - Susan Orlean on loving libraries - and burning books.

CBC journalist and radio personality Eleanor Wachtel gets deep with Susan Orlean, author of true-crime-meets-history book The Library Book. The book, which in many ways is a love letter to libraries, explores the history of libraries and the tragic burning of the Los Angeles Central Library in the 1980s. Orlean pays tribute to the intelligence and dedication of librarians, and investigates the still unsolved mystery of who lit the library on fire. 

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11. The Next Chapter - Amy Stuart: On the life of a writer and the inspiration behind her stories.

CBC Books journalist and radio personality Shelagh Rogers talks to Amy Stuart, author of Still Water, about how to follow up after a successful debut and where to find inspiration for a novel. If you don’t listen to Shelagh Rogers regularly I can fairly confidently say that you are missing out. She is one of the most insightful and articulate interviewers in the game, and she has a magical way of helping authors open up. 

What To Read In May


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I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like 2019 is flying by. It’s already the fifth month of the year and somehow I have yet to catch up on my “to be read” list. Unfortunately it still hasn’t warmed up on Canada’s East Coast, but I’m hoping that May will bring warm weather and opportunities for outdoor reading and relaxing. I’ve curated a list of some of the most exciting stories hitting shelves in the coming month, and paid particular attention to books with spring themes and settings.

As usual I’ll give a small disclaimer saying these aren’t all of the books coming out in May, they’re just the ones that caught my attention. If I’ve skipped over a book that you are excited about please leave a comment below and tell me why you’re looking forward to reading it!

Ok, now let’s get started.


Books Coming Out In May 2019


The Night Before by Wendy Walker

Premise: When a woman named Laura disappears after a night out with a man she met on the internet her sisters going into over-drive trying to find her. What makes the situation even more complicated is the fact that Laura has been known to make terrible romantic choices in the past, and has only recently moved in with her sister after a terrible and mysterious break up that she refuses to talk about. You can read my full review of The Night Before here.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 14

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Premise: A small South Carolina town is in uproar after Annie Taft disappears only days before her highly anticipated wedding. Unsure if she got cold feet or if something more nefarious has happened, Annie’s friends and family suddenly have to grapple with the idea that they may not know her – or themselves – as well as they thought.

Release Date: May 7

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Premise: Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is desperate for a better life when she comes across a luxury retreat in New York’s Hudson Valley. The retreat boasts personal villas, organic meals and personal trainers, and offers to give money to those who visit, the only catch being that guests must disconnect from their outside lives for nine months and become incubators for babies that will then be given away. When Jane agrees to become a “host” at the retreat, she has no idea how desperate she will become to leave.

Release Date: May 7

Publisher: Random House/DoubleDay Canada

 

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Premise: In the follow up to her bestselling romance novel The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang introduces readers to Khai Diep, an autistic man whose mother has taken him home to Vietnam to find him a suitable wife. Esme, a mixed-race woman living in Ho Chi Minh City, jumps at the chance to leave Vietnam and go to America, even if it means getting married. But as Esme gets to know Khai she realizes her emotions may not be so straight forward and begins to understand the complexities of caring for someone who doesn’t show emotion in the most common ways.

Release Date: May 7

Publisher: Berkley Publishing


Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Premise: Beginning in 1973, Ask Again, Yes follows the story of two NYPD rookie cops named Francis and Brian. Though not particularly close on the job, they end up living together outside of the city, and what goes on behind closed doors in their homes sets the stage for a stunning event to come. Francis’s daughter Kate and Brian’s son Peter, born six months apart, begin a friendship and eventually romance that is threatened when a violent event transpires during their eighth grade year. One family moves away and the children are forbidden to have further contact, but eventually Kate and Peter find their way back to one another.

Release Date: May 28

Publisher: Scriber

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Premise:  The beloved hosts of true-crime-comedy podcast My Favorite Murder share never-before-heard stories about their experiences with addiction, depression, eating disorders and more, all with their signature irreverence and humour. In this highly anticipated joint memoir, the duo offer their thoughts on how to stay safe in a society plagued by violence against women and how to shake the constant desire to be likable and nice.

Release Date: May 28

Publisher: Forge Books

Mindfulness & It’s Discontents by David Forbes

Premise: Researcher David Forbes presents his theory that the Buddhist concept of “mindfulness” has been completed severed from its historical and cultural meaning, and co-opted by capitalist society to turn a profit. He explores the history and benefits of mindful practices, and lays out how he believes they have been twisted in modern society.

Publisher: Fernwood Publishing

Release Date: May 1

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Premise: After a bout of food poisoning takes out most of the guests are her sisters’ wedding, Olive decides to take advantage of the all expenses paid Hawaiian honeymoon her sister and brother-in-law can no longer attend. The only catch is that Olive has to bring Ethan, the best man and her sworn enemy, along as her pretend husband. What unfolds is a hilarious and bright story about overcoming differences and taking advantage of life’s challenges.

Publisher:  Gallery Books

Release Date: May 14

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Premise: This sweeping historical drama tells the story of a privileged American family over three generations. In 1935, Kitty and Ogden Milton are the perfect family - they have money, beautiful children and have found happiness. But when tragedy strikes, the couple moves to an island in Maine to recuperate. Decades later Kitty’s granddaughter grapples with the reality that she may not be able to afford to keep the house, and begins to educate herself on her family history.

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 7



The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

Premise: Following up on the success of her novel The Last Ms. Parrish, Liv Constantine brings readers a shocking story about high-society murder. Dr. Kate English has it all; she’s the heiress to a fortune and has a beautiful family. But when her mother is found murdered in her home Kate’s life is thrown into limbo. Things get increasingly worse when she begins getting threatening messages from someone claiming to be her mothers’ killer. Kate enlists the help of an old friend who just might be able to solve the case.

Publisher: Harper

Release Date: May 7

Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds

Premise: Television actor Adam, desperate to escape the small screen, decides to audition for a role in an acclaimed Spanish directors’ new film. Despite the changes he’s making in his life, Adam can never quite overcome his obsession with image and perception. What he doesn’t know is that he has become a central fixture in the life of a newly divorced woman named Kristin who, despite being far away, want nothing more than to be important to Adam as well.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Release Date: May 14 

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

Premise: Since the tragic death of her daughter more than a year ago, Jane has lived by relying heavily on antidepressants. Her grief and reliance on medication slowly drive her to believe that her family can’t be trusted. She begins to wonder if her younger daughter knows more than she’s letting on and if her husband is keeping secrets. The Favorite Daughter is a story about the complicated relationships between husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and the haziness of a life full of grief.

Publisher: HQ Digital, Graydon House

Release Date: May 21

How Not To Die Alone by Richard Roper

Premise: Andrews job is fairly bleak: he is responsible for tracking down next-of-kin for people who’ve died alone. But he has a loving family to go home to at night after a hard day… or at least that’s what he’s told his coworkers. Andrew has been living behind a lie for a long time, and when a new employee named Peggy starts at the office, he realizes that he’s going to have to choose between coming clean and starting to live his life in reality, or holding on to the comforting lie he’s been living.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Release Date: May 28

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Premise: Two young, cash-strapped Dubliners agree to share a flat under strange circumstances. Tiffy, a nurse, will have the flat at night while Leon, who works nights, while crash at the flat during the day. The pair have yet to meet, but become intricately connected by their shared living arrangement. Intimidating ex-partners and overwhelming work lives lay the foundation for a lovely and uplifting relationship.

Publisher: Quercus, Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 28

What To Read In April: New Releases


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Spring is just around the corner, and coinciding with its arrival is a long list of incredibly exciting new releases. April has the strongest lineup of books so far in 2019, and I can’t wait for all of you to get your hands on them. There’s something for everyone in this list: mystery, thrills, beautiful writing and more. I personally can’t wait until it’s warm enough to take one of these great reads outside and soak up the sun while I get absorbed in the story.

Let’s not waste anymore time and dive right into the list of books being released in April!

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Premise: Set in 1980s Brisbane, Australia, Boy Swallows Universe tells the story of a young boy with a supremely complicated but highly entertaining life. Eli Bell’s brother is mute, his mother is in prison, his stepfather is a heroin dealer and his babysitter is a potential murderer. And as if all that isn’t enough, he’s also about to fall in love while planning to break into a prison. Boy Swallows Universe is a heartfelt and at times hilarious coming-of-age-meets-crime story with a compelling central character. And I mean come on, just look how fun that cover art is.

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Publisher: HarperCollins

The Last by Hanna Jameson

Premise: When nuclear warfare breaks out around the world, a group of survivors find themselves trapped in a remote hotel in Switzerland, unable to travel or contact their loved ones. The bad situation becomes worse when the body of a young girl is found in the hotel’s water tank, making everyone suspicious of those around them. Narrated by a historian who has taken it upon himself to document the events unfolding, The Last has been described as a mixture of Agatha Christie and Stephen King, and is sure to please fans of thrillers, mysteries and apocalyptic fiction.

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Atria Books

Read my full review here.

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Walherr

Premise: Set in Victorian England, The Lost History of Dreams tells the story of Robert, a former historian turned post-mortem photographer, who is tasked with transporting the body of his deceased cousin, famed poet Hugh de Bonne, to the chapel for his funeral. Complicating matters is the fact that de Bonne’s niece won’t open the historic chapel unless Robert agrees to record the story of de Bonne’s romance with his wife, Ada. This gothic novel is about love, loss and what drives people to study death.

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Atria Books

 

 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Premise: In a small Virginia town an immigrant family operates a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. When the chamber explodes during a dive and kills several people, a mother is charged with murder for allegedly rigging the device. Miracle Creek is a literary courtroom drama and mystery novel about disability, motherhood, immigration and family.

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux


Magical Realism For Non-Believers by Anika Fajardo

Premise: A twenty-one year old Minnesotan sets off for Colombia to reconnect with her roots, and her absent father. Anika Fajardo traces the history of her parents broken marriage in the 1970s to her own trip to her homeland in 1995, spinning a compelling and moving story about familial love, overcoming decades of separation and learning the value of home. Magical Realism for Non-Believers is a beautiful memoir.

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Publisher: University if Minnesota Pres

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Premise: A new mother is convinced that during her recent stay in the hospital someone tried to kidnap her twins and replace them with indescribable creatures. Her friends and family worry she is experiencing exhaustion or postpartum psychosis, but she is steadfast in her belief. Weeks later her children disappear, only to be found with something indescribably different about them. Little Darlings is a dark fairytale and thriller about motherhood.

Release Date: April 30, 2019

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Social Misconduct by S.J. Maher

Premise: Candace Walker is thrilled when she lands her dream job at a tech startup in New York City. But things go awry when she realizes someone has hacked the new phone she’s been given for work. Suddenly the centre of a frightening smear campaign, Candace takes refuse at her sister’s house and begins to investigate who might be behind the cyber attack. Social Misconduct is a fast-paced and highly entertaining expose on what happens when social media is used the wrong way.

Release Date: April 30, 2019

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

The Best Bookish Birthday Presents


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We all have an aggressive book lover in our lives. That person who would rather be curled up on a couch with a book than doing anything else. They’re always obsessed over one fictional character or another and droning on about which books you should be reading and how fantastic the public library system is. They can be insufferable at times. Oh wait, I’m describing myself.

Whether the person I’ve described above is your brother, sister, mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend, or anything in between, it’s a safe bet that you’re planning to get them a book for their birthday. In fact, it’s likely that they’ve spent a decent amount of time convincing you that books aren’t a lame birthday gift, but rather the BEST birthday gift. So how do you buy a book for the person who’s read all of the books? Well, luckily I’m here to help.

My first advice is this: ask them which book they want. As a book lover, I’m painfully aware of how expensive a habit reading can be. There’s always one book on my radar that I’m dying to read but simply can’t afford to buy. It would be my dream come true to have someone ask which book I’d like as a gift. For anyone currently wondering I’ve actually got my eye on Normal People by Sally Rooney and Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee at the moment…No pressure.

My second piece of advice is this: Instead of getting them another book (because let’s face it, their book shelf will probably keel over under the weight) why not get them a book-related gift? Something to help them along with their reading goals. Here are a few suggestions.

A reading light.



I have spent many nights wide awake in bed reading by the light of my cell phone so I don’t keep my boyfriend awake by turning on an overhead light. It’s so frustrating to try to keep my phone lit while also trying to turn pages. Life would be a lot easier with a light like this one from Amazon.

Here is an example of an affordable reading light:

 

A Bookish Mug



It seems to be a theme that book lovers are also coffee and tea fanatics. What could possibly go together better than a good book and a warm beverage? Give your bookish friend or family member a reading-themed mug to drink their coffee out of! These examples are cute and affordable.

You can also check out these lovely insulated book tumblers from Kate Spade. They’re cute, environmentally friendly, and very useful!

Here are two options for cute literary mugs:

 

A Book Blanket



Now that your reader has a light a mug, all that’s left to up the coziness factor is a soft book blanket! Here are a couple examples of literary blankets that are sure to warm their heart (and body).

Here are some book blanket options:

Reading Socks



My collection of fuzzy socks is likely one of the biggest in the world. I hate having cold feet, and living in Canada during the winter usually means the risk of cold feet is very high. You can buy good reading socks at Chapters, Indigo, Coles, Etsy, or these lovely “F*** Off I’m Reading” ones from Amazon.

Here are some reading socks to check out!

 

Creative Book Ends



If your bookish friend/family member is anything like me, it’s safe to assume their book shelves can get a little crazy at times. Help them get organized with these fun book ends. Not only will their shelves been easier to navigate, but they’ll look nicer as well!

Check out these London, England themed bookends to inspire organization and wanderlust":

 

A Tote Bag



It’s a well-known fact that bookish people are always carrying tote bags. How else will we lug all of our books to and from the library and to all of the coffee shops we so often haunt? This Kate Spade tote bag will be a handy addition to your book lover’s arsenal.

This Kate Spade tote is one of my personal favourites. It’s fashionable and useful and perfect for taking to work or going to get groceries.:

 

A Desktop Organizer



Organizational units are perfect for anyone who struggles to keep their desktop clean. Sleek and stylish units like this one from Amazon are a great way to store books, notes, and files in creative way. They take up minimal space and clear room for other desktop necessities (like mugs of coffee).

This organizer by Jerry & Maggie is perfect for storage and decoration:

 

Candles



There’s nothing better than curling up on the couch with a good book and the calming light and smell of nice candles. Grab a four-piece set of colorfully decorated candles online and your book-loving friend will be thanking you for days.

This set of four colorful candles will bring light, warmth and coziness to your readers’ favourite corner:

 

A Literary-Themed Wall Print



These beautiful tapestries double as wall art and conversation starters. They’re the perfect apartment decor for someone who loves literature, and they come in a variety of styles that can be tailored to the reading preferences of the person you’re buying for.

This wall hanging is perfect for a reading nook or bedroom:

 

A Bookish Throw Pillow



While we’re on the theme of apartment decor, why not help a book-lover spice up their reading nook with a lovely and comfy throw pillow? “Go Away I’m Reading” and “Coffee & A Good Book” cases will bring joy to readers everywhere.

Here are two lovely options for throw pillows with literary themes. They’re cute, funny, and cozy:

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. I make a small commission off of sales made through these links, which I use to keep my blog up to date. Thank you and happy reading!

March Releases


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Welcome back to my monthly book release update! January and February were great months for new releases. Novels like The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker and Looker by Laura Sims hit shelves to rave reviews and high sales. March is gearing up to look like a really special literary month, and I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a group of new releases since starting this blog in 2017. Below you’ll find a list of fiction and non-fiction books filled with romance, action, beautiful prose, and exciting plots.


Books Coming Out In March


Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Synopsis: A famous band finally reveals the truth behind its infamous split in the 1970s in this riveting novel from the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Filled with sex, drugs, rock & roll, Daisy Jones is a story about fame, fortune, and conflict between two incredibly talented singers and songwriters.

Release Date: March 5th, 2019

Publisher: Penguin Random House, Doubleday Canada, Ballantine Books

Review: https://www.olivialavery.com/bookreviews/2019/2/20/book-review-daisy-jones-amp-the-six-by-taylor-jenkins-reid

Purchase Link:

 

House On Fire by Bonnie Kistler

Synopsis: A family-meets-courthouse drama about a blended family torn apart by a tragic accident. Kip has a great life ahead of him - an incredible summer internship lined up and a scholarship to Duke University accepted. But when he gets charged with impaired driving in an accident that left his step-sister dead, his life, and the lives of his family members, are turned upside down. Fans of Jodi Picoult and William Landay will love House On Fire.

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada, Atria Books

Purchase Link:

 

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Synopsis: Following in the epic foreign drama vein of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Island Of Sea Women tells the story of two childhood friends on the Korean Island of Jeju. Spanning decades starting in the 1930s, The Island Of Sea Women follows the girls as they join their community’s diving collective and as they grow up and begin to realize how different they are. The novel deals with difficult topics like colonialism, economic imbalance, and gender relations, and is sure to spark the interest of anyone passionate about history.

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

Purchase Link:

 

Our Man Down In Havana by Christopher Hull

Synopsis: Christopher Hull investigates the true story behind Graham Greene’s famous spy novel Our Man In Havana in this new non-fiction book. A combination of biography, history and political commentary, Our Man Down In Havana delves into the life of a writer and former MI6 agent, and explores the society of the country that inspired him.

Release Date: March 5, 2019.

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Purchase link:

 

Run Away by Harlan Coben

Synopsis: One of the world’s most popular thriller writers returns with a gripping story about a missing girl who suddenly resurfaces, wrapping her loved ones up in a desperate hunt to find out more about the frightening world she has become involved in. Coben’s past novels have Play Dead and Don’t Let Go have been fan favourites, and Run Away is sure to please as well.

Release Date: March 21, 2019.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Purchase Link:

The Havana International Book Fair 2019


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It’s official: I’ve attended my first ever book festival. The verdict? It was everything I hoped it would be.

Two weeks ago I flew to Havana, Cuba to check out the Havana International Book Fair (Feria internacional del libro de la Habana) - the country’s single biggest cultural event. Books and reading are incredibly important in Cuban culture, and the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. You can read more about the historical factors that have influenced Cuban literacy in my previous post HERE. The result is a country with a deeply instilled appreciation for authors, poets, publishers, and storytelling.

I should state at this point that this trip was not sponsored or paid for by anyone other than me. I bought my own plane tickets and paid for my own accommodation and food (to read about the cost of the trip click here). I went of my own accord and because I very much wanted the chance to see Havana and explore its beautiful architecture and vibrant life. The book fair was my main motivation for going, but I also got the chance to do other sightseeing and traveling.


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Havana International Book Fair Background

The Havana book fair was started in 1982 as a government-sanctioned event to promote books and literacy. It continued bi-annually for many years until 2000, when the fair became an annual event. Each year the fair starts in February in Havana’s 18th-century historic fortress Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana and stays for several days before traveling across the country, ending in the city of Santiago de Cuba in March. Publishers, writers, and tourists from all over the world attend the event. You can check out the fair’s Facebook page HERE.

Each year the fair has a guest country of honour. Last year the honoured guest was Canada, and this year it was Algeria. Algeria attended the fair with a group of 30 delegates including authors, editors and publishers, and a catalog of hundreds of books. The country also took the chance to display artwork, film and music depicting Algerian history and culture. Algeria’s culture minister Azzedine Mihoubi, who was present at the fair, called the event a bridge bringing Cuba and Algeria together. The fair offered presentations on Algerian literature and the protection of Algerian authors.

The 2019 Havana International Book Fair also celebrated Cuban writer Eduardo Heras León, winner of the 2014 National Prize For Literature. He founded the Centro de Formación Literaria Onelio Jorge Cardoso , an institution that teaches writing and literary techniques to young Cubans. Other featured guests and writers included jouranlist Walter Martínez, Lasana M. Sekou, Arnold August, and many more.

The fair has of course changed over the years, and one of the visible differences is how much attention is given to digital publishing and media. Whole sections of the fortress were dedicated to digital publishing, and it was incredibly interested to see how the digital world is permeating a country known for its lack of internet access. Some of the events open for attendance included “Digital Storytelling and Transmedia Reading” and “Cuban literary content on the web” and presentations from publishers on their digital products.





A Day At The Fair

I attended the fair on Friday, February 8th, 2018. Since the fortress where it’s held is across a body of water from where my boyfriend and I were staying in Old Havana, the first problem we faced was figuring out how to get there. We had been hoping to take a ferry and then walk the rest of the way, but due to an unforeseen pothole vs. ankle injury my boyfriend had sustained the night before, we ended up taking a cab. It was about 15 CUC (Cuban tourist currency equivalent to the American dollar) to get to the fair and back again. Before we had even driven through the entrance of the fortress we could already tell the venue was packed. Our driver let us out at the base of the fortress, and we could immediately see the venue was packed. We wandered through the long, winding road that takes you up to the fortress and saw dozens of food tents and carnival rides for kids. Hundreds of people were milling around this area eating and chatting. There was definitely a buzz of excitement.

Once we’d passed the entrance area we bought tickets - we paid 5 CUC, although we realized once we arrived that the booths at the fair don’t normally take the tourist currency. Luckily a very nice woman allowed us to pay with our tourist money, and I’m convinced it was because I probably looked like I was going to cry if I couldn’t go inside the festival.

The fortress is a bit maze-like, with beautiful cobblestone paths lined by tall stone walls. In each of the stone walls were dozens of little doorways that led to the little chambers where publishers had set up their displays. At the top of each doorway was a list of the publishers inside that specific chamber, as well as the country they were representing. There were publishers from Peru, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Australia, Spain, and so many other places, and each had a well-sized display of books and catalogs. There were university publishers, YA publishers, children’s publishers and everything else in between.

Once we wound our way through the paths, we came out into an open courtyard space where there were more food tents and signing stations set up. Long lines of people waiting in the blistering heat to meet authors and purchase copies of books from the tents, all with the beautiful backdrop of Old Havana visible across the harbour.

The most interesting thing about the book fair for me was seeing so many books in foreign languages. There were many English-accessible books to buy and look at, but the majority of the items available for purchase were in Spanish. Being at the fair offered me the incredibly unique chance to see what kinds of books I’ve missed out on because I’m limited to reading in only one language. There were so many books about Cuban history that I could never find in Canada, and so many foreign publisher’s I’d never heard of back home. Even though language can be a road block when it comes to reading about foreign cultures and histories, I found it comforting to see just how special books and literature are in other places in the world.

What To Know If You Plan On Attending The Fair

At this point I’d like to share a few key things I wish I’d known before attending. Things went very smoothly during my stay in Havana and on the day of the festival, but there are a couple things I think travelers should be aware of:

  1. Preparing in advance. I had a few problems identifying things I wanted to see, hear and do while at the fair because, once I arrived in Cuba, I had very limited access to the internet. I also found it quite difficult to find a schedule and itinerary online before I arrived in Cuba, so in a lot of ways I felt like I was going in blind. If I were to go again - and for anyone considering going in future years - take full advantage of the fair’s Facebook page (linked above), the government website and Cuban news outlets’ pieces leading up to the fair to identify key dates and times and activities you’d like to do.

  2. CUC vs. CUP currency. Most tourists in Cuba use CUC currency, but since the fair is a cultural event that attracts many Cubans, CUP is the only currency they’ll accept. I got VERY lucky in finding someone who took pity on me and allowed me to pay with CUC. If you’re traveling to Cuba and plan on attending this event, make sure you have at least a little bit of CUP. This was the only time having CUC was a problem for me as a traveler.

  3. Transportation. Plan to take a taxi to get to and from the fair. Since it’s across a body of water, there is no way to walk there, and taking the ferry can take as much as an hour and requires a lot of walking (which is, of course, an option for some people). You can barter with taxi drivers about the cost, but I would set aside at least 20 CUC to be safe. Also, plan on walking a lot at the fair. The fortress is big and there’s a lot of uneven ground (i.e. cobblestones and gravel) and you’ll need to wear comfortable shoes.

  4. Language. If you’re an English speaker, don’t plan on going to this fair and understanding everything that’s going on. The Q&A’s and readings, as well as many of the presentations, are in Spanish. Does this mean they’re completely inaccessible to you? Not at all. My favourite part of the experience was that it was so different from what I’d find in North America, and it was still very possible to interact with people and feel engaged with the event.

  5. Weather. As a proud Canadian, my default setting during the months between October and April is COLD. It was unbelievably nice to be in such a warm climate for a few days while I stayed in Cuba, but if you’re planning to attend the fair be warned: it’s a very open setting and there isn’t a lot of shade. Make sure you have a hat, sunglasses, and a lot of sunscreen!

10 Books To Read If You're Feeling Romantic


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Valentines Day is at once the nicest and most terrible of holidays. It’s lovely to see people expressing their love for others and sharing special moments, but also unbelievably irritating to see social media feeds filled with cutesy PDA photos and posts. I usually try to avoid my phone as much as possible on V-Day because I just can’t stand the overwhelming influx of romantic captions and snapshots.

If you’re like me, you’re probably looking for something to distract you from social media on the most romantic day of the year. Whether you’re married, single, in a relationship, or somewhere in between, there’s definitely a book for your situation, and I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of great romantic reads for the season of love.

This post requires a little disclaimer for anyone hoping to find only pleasant books about love, because that isn’t really what this is all about. The books in this list, while definitely thematically about love, attempt to show love from a range of angles — the good, the bad, the ugly and the confusing. They aren’t all happy-go-lucky reads that will leave you feeling giddy, but my hope is that they will make you think critically about how love is portrayed in the media and in writing.

Now let’s dive in…


Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

What romance section would be complete without a story about an extramarital affair? Sally Rooney’s debut novel is just the story to fill that void, revolving around a 21-year-old aspiring writer who becomes romantically involved with a B-list actor while also grappling with an endometriosis diagnosis. It’s an eye-opening story about youth, naïveté, and the repercussions of one persons’ actions.

Publisher: Hogarth

Read my full review here.

 

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

A young woman in New York City turns up to her birthday dinner to find Audrey Hepburn, her deceased father, a former university professor, her best friend and her ex-fiance sitting at the table waiting for her. The group of people make up a list she wrote years before when asked who she would invite to dinner if she could invite anyone in the world. Over the course of the evening she, with the help of her companions, explore what went wrong to cause her engagement to fall apart, and she learns to accept what has happened in her life to bring her to where she is.

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Read my full review here.

 

On Chesil Beach By Ian McIwan

This Booker Prize-nominated novella explores the more cringe-worthy side of romance and the awkwardness that can unfold between two people who are unversed in intimacy. Young and newly married couple Edward and Florence are spending their honeymoon on the Dorset shore and, despite being deeply in love, their drastically different backgrounds make physical closeness challenging. As they prepare to consummate their relationship, things start to get lost in translation.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape

 

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

Well know actors and real-life married couple Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation fame) and Megan Mullally (of Will & Grace fame) share the story of their romance in their joint memoir The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. You’ll learn about their love for puzzles and audiobooks, their obsession with dogs, and the complicated realities of maintaining a relationship amidst the craziness of fame and the demanding work schedules of acting. This book is uplifting, entertaining and very cute.

Publisher: Dutton Books.

Read my full review here. 

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne are from the same rural village in Ireland, and despite the differences between them, when they are offered places at a university in Dublin they discover they have an unshakable connection. Over the following few years their relationship is challenged by their drastically different economic standing, the politics at Trinity College, and Marianne’s string of increasingly bad boyfriends. A story about love, friendship, and division, Normal People is a great novel for lovers of modern romance.

Publisher: Faber & Faber

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hollywood darlings, fleeting marriages, dramatic deaths and whirlwind romance — The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo really has it all. In a story that spans decades and continents, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the story of actress Evelyn Hugo who, over the course of an illustrious film career, burns through seven marriages while keeping the story of her real love a secret from the public. Read my full review here.

Publisher: Atria Books

Read my full review here.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It wouldn’t be a list of love stories if I didn’t include this Austen classic. Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest love stories ever told, centering around Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman in 19th century England undergoing a profound personal transformation as she falls in love with a wealthy and emotionally cloistered man named Mr. Darcy. Dealing with superficiality, wealth divide, and the role of nobility, Pride and Prejudice is not only the ultimate romantic tale, but also one of literatures’ true shining stars.

Publisher: Modern Library


 

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

As if love isn’t already complicated enough, imagine having a husband who could up and vanish without any notice and not return for months. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a masterpiece of a novel, telling the story of two people who, despite being deeply in love, struggle to have a life together because of a rare disorder that causes one of them to jump around in time. It’s a story about two people who, under the most abnormal of circumstances, simply want to have a normal life. It was also made into a great movie starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams.

Publisher: Zola Books


 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

With one of the most famous opening lines in literature, Rebecca is probably one of the greatest love-meets-psychological-thriller stories of all time. A young woman working woman is in Monte Carlo when she is swept off her feet by dashing widower Maxim de Winter. She accepts his rushed marriage proposal and returns with him to Manderley, the massive country estate where he lives with his daughter from his first marriage. Despite initially feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, odd events soon make the young heroine wonder if some evil forces are at work attempting to force her out of Manderley, and even begins to question if the spirit of Maxim’s dead wife Rebecca are responsible.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

 

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

What happens when love is lost - when the people who make up your world are suddenly gone? Acclaimed journalist and writer Joan Didion reflects on these questions in her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, which details the year after the sudden death of her husband and prolonged illness and eventual death of her daughter. Despite being heavily focused on loss, The Year of Magical Thinking is inarguably a book about love, and perhaps about love in its most vulnerable form. Didion is a beautiful writer and gives voice to the grief so many people feel when they lose a loved one.

Publisher: Knopf

What To Read In February

 
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January was an exciting month for book releases, with instant hits like The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker and Looker by Laura Sims pleasing readers around the world. February is set to be just as interesting. A long list of thrillers, memoirs, and literary fiction novels are set to hit shelfs in the upcoming month, and here are my top recommendations for which ones you should check out:

Disclaimer: I have added purchase links for these books on Amazon through my affiliate account. If you click through and make an order, I will make a small commission. This income helps me to run my site and keep it up to date.


The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

Synopsis: A woman returns home from a weekend getaway to find a strange man has moved into her house. Desperate to get back to her normal life, she becomes obsessed with getting him out. As the days drag on and he continues to inhabit her space, she begins to wonder if the strange events unfolding before her are related to the death of her sister many years before.

Read my full review of The Stranger Inside here.

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Release Date: February 5th

Purchase link:


Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Synopsis: Charlotte’s life is turned upside down when her best friend Harriet’s child goes missing under her supervision. Despite hating Charlotte for her role in the disappearance, Harriet realizes that she may not be able to reunite with her child without her former best friends’ help.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Release Date: February 5th

Purchase Link:


Remember Me? by D.E. White

Synopsis: Fifteen years after leaving her hometown in Wales, detective Ava Cole returns to make peace with the event that caused her to flee in the first place: the mysterious death of her best friend Ellen. Reuniting with a group of friends from her youth, Ava realizes those around her may know more about Ellen’s death than they’ve been letting on. What Ava started receiving strange messages and threats she has to accept that she hasn’t really left her past behind at all.

Publisher: HQ Digital

Release Date: February 6th

Purchase Link:


The Unwinding Of The Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

Synopsis: Born blind in Vietnam, Julie Yip-Williams barely survived childhood. Against the odds she and her family escape the political upheaval of the 1970s and fled to America, where Julie met a surgeon who partially restored her vision. Years later she graduated from Harvard Law School and began a miraculous career, only to find out at age 37 she had terminal cancer. A mother of two daughters, Williams recounts the horrors of being young and sick, and considers her life through a lens she never imagined having to look through. The Unwinding Of The Miracle is a memoir that sharply contrasts life and death, and explores the unpredictability of the world we live in.

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: February 5th

Purchase Link:


The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cumming

Synopsis: When bestselling author Kit Carradine is approached by MI6 to complete a straightforward task for his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, he immediately takes on the job. But when Kit finds himself on the tail of Lara Bartok, leader of a violent revolutionary society, he realizes he may be in over his head. Packed with action, adventure and unlikely friendship, The Moroccan Girl is a refreshing take on the spy novel.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 12th

Purchase Link:


The Birds That Stay by Ann Lambert

Synopsis: A reclusive elderly woman is found dead in her home in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. Chief Inspector Romeo Leduc takes on the case and immediately suspects a biker gang in the area is involved. When Marie, one of the murdered woman’s’ neighbours, comes forward with surprising information, the case is linked to a terrible crime that took place in 1970s Montreal and then to one even further back during the Second World War. The Bird That Stay is the first novel is what promises to be a gripping crime series from author Ann Lambert.

Publisher: Second Story Press

Release Date: February 19th

Purchase Link:


The Happiness Project by Pippa James

Synopsis: When 41-year-old Alison’s beloved mother in law passes away, her perfectly planned life is turned upside down. Along with two friends, Alison creates a Happiness Project that will keep her mother in law’s spirit alive and force her to step outside of her comfort zone and meticulous preparation. A funny, charming and quirky novel about love, loss and second chances.

Publisher: Bookouture

Release Date: February 12th

Purchase Link:

Books Being Made Into Movies In 2019


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I’m a sucker for a good film adaptation. To me there’s nothing more exciting than seeing one of my favourite books played out on the big – or small – screen. I remember the intense anticipation I had as I watched the trailers for Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train, and that same feeling has returned this year as excitement begins to mount for major adaptations. Some of my favourite books are being adapted for the screen this year, so I thought I’d share a list so you can start planning when you’ll need to hit the theatre. And for anyone feeling the emptiness of waiting for Big Little Lies and Game of Thrones to return to television, I’ve also included a bonus upcoming television series at the bottom!


Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Premise: Eccentric Seattle mom and former architect Bernadette Branch goes missing before a planned family trip to Antarctica. Desperate to discern the whereabouts of her mother, teenager Bee Branch begins collecting Bernadette’s correspondences from the preceding months and patching together a timeline. What unfolds is the story of a brilliantly intelligent and larger-than-life woman. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: March 22 2019 (USA)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig

Director: Richard Linklater


Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

Premise: The true story of a real-life serial killer who terrorized Chicago as the city prepared for the 1893 World Fair. As H.H. Holmes constructs a grisly castle to hide his crimes, the fair’s designers are working tirelessly to create an event the world won’t be able to forget.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio

Director: Martin Scorsese


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Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Premise: In a deep investigative dive, reporter John Carreyrou uncovers the truth behind one of Silicon Valley’s most promising biotech startups. The story that unravels through his investigation is one of fraud, lies, and secrets, and reveals the true nature of a young female CEO who promised to revolutionize blood testing. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Abi Beaux

Director: Adam McKay


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Premise: Don Tillman has meticulously planned every day of his life, right down to the meals he eats and the route he takes to get to work. His socially awkward behaviour and inability to connect with woman have resulted in a concern that he will never find a good partner. In a bid to find a girlfriend, Don creates a survey to eliminate imperfect matches. Just as he thinks his scientific process is starting to work, in walks Rosie, a strange woman who want to use his expertise in genetics to help her find her real father. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: May 10, 2019

Starring: Ryan Reynolds (rumoured).

Director: Ben Taylor


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The Woman In The Window by AJ Finn

Premise: An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York becomes obsessed with her new neighbours and through her spying accidentally witnesses an event not meant to be seen. She quickly becomes wrapped up in a terrible crime and finds herself wondering if she’s losing her sanity. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: October 4, 2019

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore

Director: Joe Wright


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Premise: In 1860s Massachusetts, the March sisters endure illness, poverty, life-changing romance, and familial discord all through the love they have for one another. Based on the literary classic, this will be the eighth adaptation of Alcott’s 1868 novel.

Release Date: December 25, 2019

Starring: Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, James Norton, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep

Director: Greta Gerwig


It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

Premise: Based on award-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s memoir, It’s What I Do follows her frightening and inspiring adventures through warzones, across continents, and through the hardships women face when choosing between love and work.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence.

Director: Steven Spielberg.


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The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Premise: A mommy’s group in New York City are bonded by a horrific crime. During a night out one of their children goes missing, and it’s possible one of them is involved in the kidnapping. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Kerry Washington.

Director: A director hasn’t been definitively announced, but producer Amy Pascal (Spiderman and James Bond), is attached to the project. Kerry Washington is also set to produce.


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Premise: A boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As he grows up he becomes involved in a series of increasingly bizarre activities, including art forgery.

Release Date: October 11, 2019

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort

Director: John Crowley


Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann

Premise: When a series of murders wrack the wealthy community of Oklahoma’s Osage people in the 1920s, the FBI takes on its first real investigation. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced, but filming is scheduled to start in spring 2019.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro (rumoured).

Director: Martin Scorsese


TELEVISION: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Premise: Two sisters vie to be star of a reality television series about female entrepreneurs. When one sister ends up dead, every member of the cast is scrutinized for their possible involvement. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Unannounced.

Director: A director hasn’t been announced, but the series is set to be produced by Bruna Papandrea, who worked on Big Little Lies. Papandrea is also attached to the film adaptation of Knoll’s first novel, The Luckiest Girl Alive.


If you want to read these books before they hit the screen, here are Amazon links to buy them.

Disclaimer: If you purchase through these links I will make a small profit as part of an agreement with Amazon. These purchases help me to keep the content of my website the best it can be.

Writers To Watch Out For In 2019


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It’s January; the month of getting excited about things that will slowly lose their allure over the course of the year. Diets, fitness regimes and online shopping bans will fall to the wayside for more than one individual, but if there’s one thing to be – and stay – excited for, it’s the long list of incredible books being released over the next twelve months.

At the beginning of each month I’ll be posting a list of the most exciting books coming out over the next four weeks. You can read my January edition here. Since I often get access to advance copies and digital review copies of upcoming books, my goal is to keep my readers up to date on what’s being released and whether or not they should care. Today’s post follows in the same vein, but rather than focusing on exciting new releases, I want to turn everyone’s attention to some of the most promising writers we should be watching for in 2019.

These writers (who all happen to be women) are so unbelievably talented and inspiring, and their work has really connected with me in the past. They all have upcoming books, and their works cover a range of genres and topics, meaning there’s something for everyone in this list.  

1.       Jia Tolentino. By the age of 27, Jia Tolentino had already earned an MFA, been a deputy editor at Jezebel, and landed a staff writing job at The New Yorker. Her ability to turn complex thoughts into clear words is unparalleled, and she has forged a place for herself as the voice of a generation (although from her Twitter she seems like too laid back of a person to ever think of herself that way). Her writings have covered topics like the Me Too movement and on-campus politics, and she is, in my opinion, one of the best book reviewers out there. Her first book, a collection of essays called Trick Mirror, will hit shelves in August.  

2.       Kate Winkler Dawson. How could I write an author round-up without including true crime queen Kate Winkler Dawson? Her first book Death In The Air explored the Great London Smog and the crimes of a notorious serial killer. In a 2018 interview she told me her second book, American Sherlock, is in the works and will cover the career of one of America’s first forensic scientists.

3.       Laura Sims. An accomplished poet and now promising author, Laura Sims is forging quite the name for herself in the literary world. Her first novel Looker, a character study of a woman losing her mind called, sparked a battle between publishing companies, and reviews have been incredibly positive so far. Sims has beautiful style, a unique voice, and the ability to really get under her readers’ skin.

4.       Karen Thompson Walker. After the success of her first sci-fi-meets-coming-of-age novel The Age Of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker is back in 2018 with a second natural disaster story. Her sophomore novel, called The Dreamers, tells the story of a small college town overrun by a mysterious illness that causes its sufferers to fall into a deep sleep and experience life-altering dreams. Walker’s writing is through provoking and contemplative in a way I’ve never encountered before.

5.       Harriet Alida Lye. It’s no secret Harriet Alida Lye was one of my favorite authors of 2018. Her debut novel The Honey Farm made my “Best Books of 2018” list and gave me a serious reading hangover. Lye announced via Twitter she is in the process of writing her second book, this time a memoir called Natural Killer about her experiences dealing with leukemia as a kid. Her beautiful literary style and unique voice are sure to make this book an incredible read.

6.       Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. The hilarious duo behind the hit podcast My Favorite Murder sent fans into a tizzy in 2018 when they announced they’d written a book. The two women, who have dealt with anxiety, eating disorders, severe health problems and addiction, say the book is a memoir-style backgrounder on their lives and the experiences which led them to become obsessed with true crime.

7.       Sally Rooney. Already a Man Booker nominee before the age of 30, Irish-born Sally Rooney is set to continue making waves in 2019. After an essay on her experience as a competitive debater attractive significant literary attention, Rooney released her debut novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. The book was an instant success, and has led to Rooney being described as the first great millennial writer and an author for the digital age. Her second book, Normal People, hits shelves in Canada later this spring. Young, talented, and unfailingly original, Sally Rooney is definitely someone to look out for.

Thank you for reading this post! Comment below with some of your favourite authors so I can check out their work. I always love hearing from readers and adding more books to my to-be-read list!