Top 5 Books I Read This Past Winter!

Winter is one of my FAVOURITE times to read! I know there are a lot of Canadians – or Albertans, at least – who really hate the winter, but I think that it’s the perfect season for reading. We live out on an acreage and during the summer there’s always LOTS of work to be done outside. While it’s nice to sit back with a book, there’s probably at least 5 things that need to be done so I always feel guilty spending my free time reading in the summer. But in the winter, the world is frozen and there’s only so much I can do inside, so why not relax with a book?

I read some great books over the last three months and it was so hard to pick just 5 that were my favourites, but here they are!


Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson

Oh this was such a fun book! Miss Pettigrew was a great character and I fell in love with her immediately. I might not have read this book so soon had I not seen the movie was airing on TV, but I’m glad that I finally got to it. It’s definitely a book that reinforced why I’m reading more classics – they’re not all dull and boring books written by old white dudes, but they can be fun and inspiring and make a person want to find more gems just like this one.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

My second Agatha Christie book and far from my last. I read my first Agatha Christie in the fall and fell in love with her writing style and had to try out this standalone book that I’ve only read adaptations of. This book was dark and mysterious and everything that I wanted it to be. I love books that take place on islands, especially mysteries where someone (or lots of someones) disappears – and with this book, the ending was a whole lot of whaaaat?!?! By now I think I’ve read 3 or 4 Agatha Christie books and I love her writing so much. This is a great book to start with if you haven’t read any of her books!

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

This is a book that I had had my eye on for such a long time, partly because of the name of the book (I mean, I love kitchens) and also because of the author’s name, which grabbed me the first time I saw it. I’m so happy I finally picked up this little volume from the library because it was such a heartfelt and sad read – actually, two reads in one since it also included a story called Midnight Shadow which was just as good as Kitchen. I highly recommend this if you want to get into reading more translations.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Normally when I read books that have been really hyped up, I have a tendency to not like them. However, I connected with this book so much and absolutely adored it! Being someone who also suffers from anxiety, I completely understood Eleanor – or at least, I thought I did because Honeyman weaves such a great story that there are reasons for why Eleanor is how she is and through this story of friendship and stepping outside of your comfort zone, we get to know – and fall in love with – Eleanor Oliphant. Such a great read!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This is the only book on this list that I read at the end of 2017. It was my very first Daphne du Maurier book and I’m so glad that I finally dove into it! I had only heard of this book through other forms of entertainment – in movies, or TV, or in other books – but it’s one that I knew I wanted to read eventually. Towards the end of last year I decided to just buy a copy and it felt like the perfect winter read – and it totally was! I loved this story of “the new wife” heading to Manderley and feeling like she can’t compare to the old wife, Rebecca. This story was extremely well written, creepy, atmospheric, and it made me completely fall in love with du Maurier’s writing that I now have 5 or 6 of her other books on my shelf to read.

What were some of your favourite winter reads? Have you read any that were on my list? What were your thoughts? Do you have any books you wish you had gotten to this past winter? 


[Book Talk] Things To Do When It’s Raining by Marisa Stapley

Book Details:

Format: eARC & Paperback
Source: Publisher & Purchased (& Won!)
Read: March 2018


Two families, three generations and a lie that almost destroys them. Is their love strong enough to heal old wounds?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge of the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lilly and George. Their childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love–a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak and started a life for herself in New York City. After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline with their past unraveling around her. A lifetime of secrets stands in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Harlequin and Graydon House Books for sending me an eARC of this book for review! I also purchased a copy AND then won a signed copy in a contest, so I guess I’m set!

This was my first Marissa Stapley book and I thought it was very good! It wasn’t quite what I was expecting – I think what I wanted was something a bit lighter, something with a bit more resolution, and something that would stick with me a bit more.

The first thing I will say is that I loved how this book was laid out – the different parts with the raindrops on the pages were so beautiful, and I loved the inclusion of Virginia’s ideas of things to do at the inn when it rains. I also really loved the setting – I will always enjoy books that take place at inns or by water. I read this book in the winter, but it would be a great book to read in the middle of summer by a lake.

I enjoyed the characters in the beginning but started to feel frustrated by them. This story is a perfect example of something that would be resolved if people would just talk to one another. Actually, when I finished reading, I couldn’t help but think of lyrics from a song by The National that go “you said we’ll only die of lonely secrets” because that seemed to be how everything was going – no one really talked to each other, so nothing was really resolved.

I’m fairly certain that most people will love this book, but it just wasn’t a book for me. I had a hard time really connecting with any of the characters, mainly because they drove me nuts for most of the book. Not only that, but everyone had their own story and with no one talking to one another, it just made for a very frustrating read.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I won a signed copy of this book, but I also received a signed copy of Stapley’s debut book, Mating For Life. This book might not have been what I was expecting and probably not my favourite of the genre, but I still enjoyed Stapley’s writing and plan to read her debut book soon.

[Bookish Discussion] Reality Check: No One Cares! And Other Thoughts on Blogging.

Back when I started really getting into book blogging, way back in 2011, I starting making these arbitrary rules for myself:


There were many other “rules” that I felt I had to follow and I had it in my head that if I didn’t follow these rules, people would be disappointed in me.


If I said I was going to read a certain 5 specific books in the month and didn’t get to any of them, people would be disappointed.

If I posted a TBR for the first two months of the year and then stopped, people would be disappointed.

If I didn’t finish a book by the end of the month, people would be disappointed.

If I said I was going to participate in x number of read-alongs or read-a-thons in a month and didn’t participate in them all in a timely manner, people would be disappointed.

If I took a week or a month or more off of blogging, people would be disappointed.

Needless to say, I had it in my head that I would be failing people if I didn’t follow through with certain things. I would be failing my readers.

This extended into the way I posted. Back when I was having my first child, I scheduled my blog like a lunatic, because if I didn’t post every other day, people would forget about me, people would be disappointed, I would be letting down my blog. I mean, heaven forbid things change when I had children! Even after having kids, I couldn’t let a week go by without posting.

Not post three times a week like clockwork? People would be disappointed!

But news flash: NO ONE CARES.

I know this sounds crass, but let me explain. I’ve seen people comment that they’re going on vacation and won’t be able to post for a week, or apologize that they weren’t able to post a video on their regularly scheduled day. I still find myself slipping back into this idea that I am SO IMPORTANT and that if, say, I had posted every Wednesday, that people would be upset — or that people would even notice — if I posted on the following Monday.

But do you know what I am slowly learning? That I am NOT so important. Even now, I feel like I’m letting myself down by saying this because aren’t we all important people? I mean, yes, it’s amazing that we are all alive and living and breathing and that we even exist in this world and that this world exists and can you believe I grew two human babies inside of me and HOW AMAZING IS ALL OF THIS!?

And while that is amazing and we might all be unique and important in our own way, unless you have maybe millions of followers or are a major celebrity, people aren’t going to notice or care if you don’t have a scheduled post for a certain day. Of course, they probably will notice if you decide to just take a month off of social media and blogging without telling anyone, but if you say you’re going to read these 10 books next month but decide to watch Netflix instead? NO ONE IS GOING TO CARE.

Does that sound crass to say that? What I’m trying to say is that for me, I had this over-inflated sense of importance that maybe people will notice in real life, like if I wasn’t answering the phone, or if my kid didn’t show up for school for a week. But when it comes to reading and blogging, the only person I’m really disappointing is myself.

And should I even be disappointed? NO!

Back before I started blogging, I didn’t read all the time. I would pick up a big book and read it, maybe taking a week or a month, not reading anything else, and that was okay. I wasn’t thinking about content and what I was going to post for the month if I only read one book, because back then all that mattered was that I was fitting reading into my life. The number of books didn’t matter, the type of books didn’t matter, I didn’t feel the need to track anything, tell anyone what I was reading, and I didn’t feel this obligation to wrap everything up in a bow to show everyone at the end of the month.

(Of course, if you do do that, that’s all up to you – what I’m saying is that you should do certain things because you want to do them and like to do them, but not be disappointed if you can’t.)

I mean, yes, it’s fun to blog, but it’s still a hobby. It’s something I started for myself and should continue to do for myself. Some days the only views my blog gets are from me, other days I might get 100+ views. Same thing with my BookTube channel – if no one watches a video, or if I get 2 views, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.

But you know what? I’m not. If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it. I blog and make videos just because I love books. Because I realized that while it was fun to read a book prior to blogging, it was even more fun to bring my love of reading to the internet because other people loved reading, too. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a pile of readers in my life to talk to about books, so it was such an amazing thing to find people who were similar to me, who enjoyed reading and talking about books as much as I did. Blogging isn’t a job – no one is keeping track of how much I post in one week, how many book reviews I post in a row, how many books I read in a month, or how many books I don’t talk about. The only one who’s paying any attention to this is me. That’s all!

I guess what I want to say in this discussion is that there are no hard and fast rules to reading and blogging.

  • Read whatever you want! Do you want to read classics for the whole month? Fluffy romance the next month? Science fiction the next? Do it! No one cares if your reading is all over the place, if you’re not sticking to just one genre.
  • Read whenever you want! Do you want to watch Netflix for the whole month and graze over the same book for the month, maybe not even finishing it? Do it! NO ONE CARES!
  • Rate books or don’t rate books! I find myself finishing a book and hemming and hawing over what kind of rating I should give it. But who cares? It should just matter that I finished a book and enjoyed it without having to tack on a rating.
  • Use Goodreads or don’t use Goodreads! Do you know what I did before I discovered Goodreads? I still read! There are other ways to track books if you like to track, and if you don’t want to track your books, YOU DON’T HAVE TO! Because … say it with me … no one cares!

I think what I’m ultimately saying is that I think we all go through a time where we have an overinflated idea of how important we are in the reading world, when it almost feels like someone is forcing us to finish books, do certain posts, have a certain format or schedule, when in the grand scheme of it all, it’s really just us forcing these rules upon ourselves.

So, some new “rules” I’d like to follow:

  1. Read whatever I’m in the mood for. No one cares if I read different genres or books meant for different age groups.
  2. Quit following the hype because it rarely ends up being something I like.
  3. If I don’t know how to rate a book, maybe just don’t rate it! It’s okay to just talk about what I liked and disliked about a book without giving it any stars.
  4. Post when I want to, take a break when I want to – I may be important and needed in my real life, but if I don’t post for a week, no one is going to notice.
  5. Don’t review everything I read, or feel the need to review everything I read – sometimes a blurb is enough, and sometimes I shouldn’t even have to write anything on my blog. Sometimes just to say “it was a good book” or “I hated that book” should be enough.
  6. Have fun with reading! Join read-alongs and read-a-thons, make friends with people who are lax in their reading style and who read the same books I enjoy, but also don’t feel like I have to read the same as what they read. Our different reading styles is what makes us all unique.
  7. Don’t make reading a competition. Ultimately I’m just in competition with myself, but it’s okay to have a day where I don’t read, or a week where I don’t read, or to not finish a book by the end of a month or year.
  8. Don’t worry where books come from. Yeah, other book bloggers and BookTubers make book ownership look amazing but I already have lots of books. It’s okay if a book is a tattered used copy, a brand new copy, or a library copy. Shouldn’t the point just be reading?

Now, obviously I don’t mean that no one cares about anyone, but the message I want to pass on with this post is that it’s okay to cut yourself a break when it comes to blogging and reading. It’s okay to do something for you without feeling like you need to justify to your readers why you’re doing so. It’s okay to let go of any guilt you feel when it comes to blogging because, in the end, we all do this because we love books and that’s what matters.

Do you have any set of rules you follow for blogging, reading, or BookTubing? Have you gotten harder on yourself as you’ve blogged more, or used Goodreads more? Have you eased up on yourself for certain rules you might have had in the past?