Personal: 4 Things on My Mind

Here are some things that have been on my mind recently.

1. YouTube
I haven’t fallen into any YouTube watching traps for a long while, but one that I recommend you watch is Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney.

2. Audiobooks
I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks since I got into them a couple of months ago. I’ve listened to:

  • The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – This was a page-turner (of the audio kind!). I hadn’t read a mystery novel in a long while, and this ended up being a good pick.
  • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark – This is a fascinating read about the current and future state of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs – While disturbing at times, this was an excellent read. I know it’s been made into a movie, so I’ll have to add it to my “watch” list.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – While difficult to follow at first because of the many characters, the story is interesting, and I didn’t want it to end.
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – I’m extremely enjoying this series. Why did I wait so long to read these books?
  • I’ve also listened to these audiobooks, and I’m currently listening to Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child (Book 4).

3. Academic life
It is pretty wild to see my book (co-authored with a friend/colleague) listed on Amazon. The book will be published in December, so this won’t be the first or last time I’m talking about it.

4. Netflix
Last night while I was ironing, I watched Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial comedy show on Netflix. I laughed a lot! I could relate to just about every joke she told. If you’re a woman in your 30s, I am sure you would enjoy it.

The Friday Five: Books I’ve Read

Well, I shouldn’t quite say I’ve “read” these books. I’ve actually listened to most of them in the form of audiobook. With all the driving I’ve done lately, the audiobooks have been a wonderful way to pass the time. I’m pretty much hooked, and now I listen while I walk, too.

1. The Story of a New Name (Book 2) by Elena Ferrante

I read Book 1 of this series many months ago, but I could not find the time to pick up Book 2. When I set out on one of my road trips, I started listening to it, and I could barely stop. It was wonderful. The book is engaging, interesting, and well-developed. It’s easy to connect with the characters. I’m definitely eager to get started on Book 3.

2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi

I remember when I heard of this book via Joanna Goddard (Cup of Jo) a couple of years ago. I had wanted to read it since then, but I never did. It was one of the first audiobooks I downloaded. It’s a great read. True. Sad. Beautiful.

3. Wallflower at the Orgy by Nora Ephron

I’ve always liked reading Nora Ephron’s books. They’re a combination of funny, interesting, light, and serious. This book of short stories entertained.

4. Hungry for Love by Maya Sacher

This fits in the chick-lit category of books. It was easy to be engaged with the story line of a woman who has fallen in love with a man while her husband is in a coma. It’s a good summer beach read.

5. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I opted for this chick-lit book because it came up in one of my library searches, and I was drawn to the cover. It’s an easy read about a couple going through a troubling time. The story isn’t highly original – individuals working too hard, trying to make their relationship work – but I liked how the dialogue evolved in the chapters, and it was overall a good read. I’d say it’s another easy summer read.

p.s. Did you know that June is audiobook month? A little something I learned at the Waterloo Public Library (where I’ve been getting my audiobooks).

Book: Cast: Art and Objects

Have I mentioned how much I love receiving books in the mail? Well, I do. As a child and young teen, I was definitely not a bookworm. Books were my sister’s territory, not mine. As I neared adulthood, however, I became more interested in reading, and when I started university, I basically couldn’t stop. I read all sorts of books these days (slowly, though, I assure you), and I’m still one of those people who actually buys books. Softcover, hardcover, new, used, I’ll take ’em.

Recently, I was sent over a copy of the gorgeous book Cast: Art and Objects by Jen Townsend and Renée Zettle-Sterling to review. This book takes us through a historical journey of made objects. We learn about the process – historical and current – of making ceramic, metal, and glass objects. The photos are beautiful throughout, and the explanations carry through from objects – household and decorative – to art to jewelry.


I know I haven’t officially started gift guides yet, but if you’re looking to buy something for an artist, historian, or designer, give Cast some consideration!

Thanks to Sarah M. and Smith Publicity for sending this book my way. All opinions and photos are my own.

Books: Vacation Reads

My blog posts have been scattered this week because it’s back-to-school season, and, well, that means a pretty lively time of year for me! I’m taking a pause from the Friday Five to share with you my recent reading list. This post has been in draft form for a couple of weeks now, so it feels great to finally be able to press publish!

During the academic year, I barely have a chance to read books for pleasure. I know I could/should make time, but the fact is that I don’t. Between my academic day job and my MBA student life, I read a lot as it is, and when I want to relax, I don’t generally reach for a book.

Vacation, though, is a completely different story!

When I’m in Florida lounging around the pool and beach for days and days, I love losing myself in books. I love going to the local library (yes, I have a library card in Florida, too!) and browsing the “what’s new” shelves. And on my recent trip, I managed to read quite a few books. Here’s a brief recap of what I’ve read…in the order that I read them. Do let me know if you’ve read any of them, too, please!

1. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins wrote The Girl on the Train which was a real page-turner. Into the Water was the same. I couldn’t put it down. It was an easy read, and it went by quickly.

2. The White City by Karolina Ramqvist

Truth be told – I picked up this book because of its white cover and its title. When I read the blurb on the inside flap, I learned that the book is a bestseller in Sweden and the winner of the Per Olav Enquist Literary Prize. This is Karolina Ramqvist’s first English novel. Again, it was a quick read, and I read it within one short sitting (lying by the pool!). I felt like it was a lengthier short story than a fully developed novel. The story moved along quickly.

3. Touch by Courtney Maum

I picked up this book after reading the cover jacket’s summary. It got me hooked with ideas of trend forecasting, tech, and relationships. It was another easy read that I got through quickly. I liked following the story of a trend forecaster who contemplates tech vs. touch in an ever changing high-tech world.

4. Swimming Lessons by Clare Fuller

This book was another one that kept my attention throughout. I wanted to know how the characters developed and interacted, and how the story evolved. The story flips between past and present, which I liked.

5. The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion was the author of the Rosie Project – a book that I quite liked, so I happily grabbed this book off the library shelf. I don’t know if it was because I was tired or uninterested, but it took me a bit to get into this story. Maybe it also was because the other books had some element of mystery to them, and this one was a love story. Once I got through the first 50 pages or so, it was easy going. It wasn’t a page-turner like some of the other books, but it maintained my curiosity about the evolution of the romance.

6. Awkward Age by Francesca Segal

I thought this book was okay. It seemed liked it could be easily made into a made-for-TV movie. It’s about family relationships, tricky family dynamics, and teenager drama.

7. Celine by Peter Heller

This was an amusing read. Part-detective story, part-family drama. Not a must-read in my opinion, but it entertained me.

8. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve read every book by Sophie Kinsella (as well as all the books she’s written under her real name – Madeleine Wickham). I continue to be drawn to them even though I didn’t really like the last couple of stories. The characters are sort of all the same and the story lines are fairly predictable. That said, I read this recent release, and enjoyed this light read. Sophie Kinsella books area always good for beach-side reading!

9. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

It was fun to discover that this book was written by a Torontonian. It’s a who-dunnit, what-happened kind of book so I was happy to flip each page to learn more about the mystery and drama involved in one family’s life. I could see this being turned into a movie, too.

10. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

So many of the books that I read over my vacation were mysteries of some sort. These books really make me want to keep reading to see how my own predictions come true (or don’t). At the start, there were several characters to get to know, but once I kept track of the action, I enjoyed learning about the characters’ personalities, their interactions, their friendships, and, of course, to see how the drama unfolded.

11. How to Be a Grown-Up

This book was written by the authors of the Nanny Diaries. The tone, pace, writing, and setting is very similar between the two books. The story line, however, is different. In How to Be a Grown-Up, the main character is a 40-something mom learning how to navigate a work environment run by millennials. She succeeds, of course, which makes for a happy ending. Predictable, but entertaining.

12. Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Of the books in the list up until this point, Lola was by far my favourite. I picked it up because Lola is the name of my friend’s dog (Hi K! Hi Lola!). Yes, it’s true. This book is certainly not about a dog – although there is a dog named Valentine in the book. The story follows Lola – the leader of a drug cartel – and the drama, chaos, mystery, and tension surrounding the drug world. The character development and story line were different from anything else I read, which caught and kept my attention throughout.

13. I Found You by Lisa Jewell

After Lola, I wanted to read a mystery rather than a romance novel, so I opted for I Found You. The story was progressing in the way that I thought it was, but as I read each chapter, more of the story unfolded, and there were surprises along the way. I really enjoyed this one.

14. The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

I ended my vacation reading with The Gypsy Moth Summer and I was pleasantly surprised. I loved this book, in fact. Like other books in this list, I enjoyed the development and interaction of the characters.

And that’s it, I think. What have you been reading? Any recommendations?

Have a great weekend, everyone!


























Marketplace: Favourite Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

Between my own nephews and nieces and all of my friends’ babies, I have bought so many baby gifts over the last decade or so. Like many areas of my life, I approach baby gift buying quite simply. When the babies started coming, I thought carefully about what my favourite items were, and then I basically resorted to buying them in bulk. Honestly. Today I’m sharing with you some of my signature baby gift items; they seem to be well-received by babies and parents alike.

Jellycat stuffed animals are the softest, and the faces are super sweet. I tend to buy a lamb or a bunny, but lately I’ve picked up the giraffe, and I just love it. There are so many good chewing options for babies…ribbons, tails, arms…awesome! I’ve got my eye on the unicorn and owl, too. I do tend to stay away from the bear…it’s just a bit too classic for my taste.


Jellycat bashful bunny

I always buy books for babies and kids. Reading is one of the single most important things that people can do for and with kids, in my opinion, and I do my part to encourage it! My all-time favourite book for babies/toddlers/kids is Each Peach Pear Plum. This was my favourite book as a young kid, and it gives the reader so much to look at and learn!


Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg

I also buy just about any Dr. Seuss book, but Green Eggs and Ham remains my all-time favourite.

For one-year olds, I often buy One by Kathryn Otoshi. It’s a beautiful book with sweet, simple watercolour artwork.


One by Kathryn Otoshi

Now that my friends’ babies are turning two, I’ve started buying Two by Kathryn Otoshi in bulk. Why ruin a good thing, right? 9780972394666_IL_2_dfc8f

Two by Kathryn Otoshi

I also find Press Here by Herve Tullet to be an exceptionally fun book and any kid that I have given it to seems to have really enjoyed it (two others in the collection are Mix it Up! and Let’s Play). For Christmas, I sent my nephews and niece a bunch of Laura Ljungkivst’s Follow the Line books, and they seem to have liked them quite a bit. I’m also always on the lookout for Barbapapa books (in French, English, or Italian) for my nephews and niece; I love the creativity of these stories.

Do you have signature gifts for babies, toddlers, kids, or others? Do tell!


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