5 Things: birthdays, mugs, sunsets, lotions and Olympic Gold!

The 5 things that brought me joy this week:


My brand new mug! I got it at Indigo, and I’m very excited about it! It’s keeping the other mug that I have that says “I read past my bedtime,” company.


It is one of my best friend’s birthday today! Shan is 29 today. And the exciting thing is that her birthday falls on our girl’s weekend trip to Niagara! It’s gonna be good!


It has been incredibly hot over the last couple of weeks here in Toronto, and for me it’s so hot that it makes me not want to do anything. The evenings, however, especially by the lake, cool down considerably, and that’s when I start feeling awake and energized. This picture is from one night this week walking by the lake with Doug. Also how gorgeous of a view to have in your backyard essentially, am I  right?


This is my new favourite body lotion. It’s actually the lotion that they use at The Westin in Ottawa, and I loved it so much I bought a couple of bottles at the gift shop. It’s so light and smooth and yet so hydrating (especially in this crazy heat that Toronto is currently having). Definitely one of my new favourite things!

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Penny Oleksiak has now won 4 medals for Canada at the Rio Games. 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze. Also, she’s only 16. What a champ!

As ever my 5 Things is inspired by Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere. Make sure you check it out!


Review Tuesday: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This book was recommended to me by a couple of people, and so I decided to give it a go. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is a Heather’s Pick here in Canada (which means something only if you’re Canadian), and is critically acclaimed. The author herself is surrounded by mystery. Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym. No one knows who she is, and she doesn’t do in-person interviews.

my brilliant friend coverFrom Goodreads:

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

I’m going to be one of the few people on the planet who says this about this book, but I did not like it, and I will not be reading the others in this series. I started reading this book with high expectations and hopes because so many people I know loved it. But by the time I was halfway through I just wanted it to end. I found Elena (the character) to be obsessed with her “best friend” Lila in a completely unhealthy way. She had no sense of self outside of Lila, no identity, no thoughts. Everything revolved around Lila. Lila was essentially a jerk as a kid – she’s mean to everyone, and considers herself always right. These two compete against each other about everything. I just didn’t feel like their friendship was healthy at all. It was toxic. They brought out the worst in each other and it was completely fuelled by jealously.

Most of the other characters were cookie cut outs of each other. It was hard to keep all of the girls and boys who were Elena and Lila’s age separate in my head because they were just so damn similar.

The only thing that stood out to me as interesting in this book was how commonplace violence was. Husbands beat their wives and children. Mothers beat their children. Children beat up other children. Young men beat up other young men. Young men also grab women off the street and have their way with them. And everyone considered this normal. That was just how it was. The author describes this kind of violence in a very casual way. And I think that because it seemed so casual that it struck a chord with me. However, like I said, this is the only thing that I found interesting about this book.

I know that my opinion of this book is in the minority. So if you’ve read this book what did you like about it? And if you’re in the minority like me what about it did you not like?

Review Tuesday: The Calamity Janes Series by Sherryl Woods

Calamity Janes 1I bought The Calamity Janes series by Sherryl Woods at Word on the Street back in September. Harlequin had a massive sale going on at their book and I think that I got these three books for like $5. You definitely can’t beat that.

The books are about 5 best friends who grew up together in their small little town and all (minus one) moved away, however they have all kept in touch. Now though it’s their high school reunion and all of them are coming back to town.

Book 1 Do You Take this Rebel is about Cassie. Cassie has a 10 year old son, and a 10 year old secret. The father of her child doesn’t know that he’s a father, and of course when he does find out sparks fly – both the bad and the good.

Book 2 Courting the Enemy is about Karen. Karen is a rancher her ranch is on the verge of bankruptcy. There is someone willing to buy the ranch however, and even though she has no desire to sell, the buyer is creating all sort of hot and bothersome problems for her.

Book 3 To Catch a Thief is aC. janes 2bout Gina. Gina is a phenomenal chief, but apparently not the best All Pagesjudge of character. Now, she has a problem with a lawyer who thinks that she’s a thief. However, that might be the least of their problems.

Book 4 The Calamity Janes is about Emma. Emma is a lawyer who after an incredibly bad experience with the media completely distrusts journalists. Too bad that she needs a particular one to help her sway the public in a murder trial that she’s defending.

Book 5 Wrangling the Redhead is about Lauren. Lauren is a famous movie star and doesn’t want to be anymore. So to figure out what to do next she works on a ranch helping with the horses. Her and the head wrangler however but heads, but instead of just yelling at each other all of c. janes 3that passion turns into something else.

The books were a fun read. I definitely liked some more than the others, but all of them were very good. It was also nice to have a series that was about best friends. The books all start off at the same place (the high school reunion) and go from there, so it’s fun to see each of the women start at the same place and end up in different places. A nice and cute series and well worth the read.



Review Tuesday: Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch is book two in the Gentleman Bastard series. The series was recommended to me by a friend of mine because I was looking for a new fantasy series to get into. Book one is called The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I simply loved it. I flew through it. The characters were incredibly real, the dialogue and banter quick witted and sharp, and the schemes that the characters get up to are audacious, hilarious, and ballsy. You want these characters to succeed with every breath you take, and you become absolutely livid with some other characters and you want those characters to be tortured in the deepest pits of hell because a quick death is far more then they deserve.

Good book = strong emotions in the reader.

I was really excited for Red Seas Under Red Skies because The Lies of Locke Lamora was just so good.

Here is a description of it from Goodreads: Red Seas Under Red Skies

“After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can’t rest for long — and are soon back to what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves.

This time, however, they have targeted the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the most exclusive and heavily guarded gambling house in the world. lts nine floors attract the wealthiest clientele — and to rise to the top, one must impress with good credit, amusing behavior… and excruciatingly impeccable play. For there is one cardinal rule, enforced by Requin, the house’s cold-
blooded master: it is death to cheat at any game at the Sinspire.

Brazenly undeterred, Locke and Jean have orchestrated an elaborate plan to lie, trick, and swindle their way up the nine floors… straight to Requin’s teeming vault. Under the cloak of false identities, they meticulously make their climb — until they are closer to the spoils than ever.

But someone in Tal Verrar has uncovered the duo’s secret. Someone from their past who has every intention of making the impudent criminals pay for their sins. Now it will take every ounce of cunning to save their mercenary souls. And even that may not be enough…”

The book starts out where the first one ended. And you see Locke and Jean trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and somehow put them together after what happened in book one. The plot jogs along quite nicely until about 200-300 pages in or so where it takes a sharp left turn and all of a sudden we’re on the high seas with pirates.

I really felt like the author wanted to write about pirates, and about how much he knew about ships, and so for 300 pages the plot essentially gets high jacked by this desire and suffers for it. What then appeared to be the main plot of the book for the first couple hundred pages gets regulated to a sub plot, and the new main plot just isn’t as good. Then at the end the person who had been pulling the strings acts in such a manner that is completely out of his character that justice being done to him isn’t nearly as satisfactory as it should have been.

Overall a meh kind of read for me. Good because Locke and Jean are awesome characters, and bad because the plot was just all over the place.

I will be reading book three, which is called, The Republic of Thieves because book one was so good, and book two was alright. I’m really hoping that book three is more like the first one otherwise I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed all over again.