What I Read in October

October has been an incredible month of reading for me. I flew through 3 books from my fall reading list and I am currently reading 3 more. I also devoured one of my MMD reading challenge picks. Here’s a look at what I’ve been reading…


Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Susannah Cahalan’s memoir was my pick for ‘a book I previously abandoned’ for the MMD Reading Challenge. I read this book back in 2010, but I only made it halfway through. The story of a 24-year-old New York Post reporter’s horrifying descent into madness frightened me. But this time around, Cahalan’s story hooked me; I could not stop reading and it didn’t scare me as much. With no recollection of what happened to her, Cahalan depends on video footage from the hospital, the journals her father kept, and interviews with her doctors to piece together that missing month of her life. Incredibly brave and brilliantly-executed, I am happy I gave it a second chance. The film adaptation starring Chloë Grace Moretz premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September.


These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

My librarian recommended this page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Gudenkauf and it’s my favourite from the author so far. Allison is the perfect daughter and student. But her perfect world comes crashing down when she is sent to prison for a shocking crime. Her younger sister, Brynn, shoulders the burden of what really happened that night, and faces the whispers in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. Told from five different points of view, Gudenkauf skillfully explores the crushing weight of secrets on those who keep them and the devastating consequences on all involved when secrets are revealed. A taut, thought-provoking, lyrical, moving thriller; I read it from cover to cover in 8 hours. I can’t stop thinking about it. This would make a great book club pick.


I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

This debut historical novel is inspired by the more than 200 women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. Newly married Rosetta Wakefield doesn’t want her husband, Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up anyway, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Strong-willed Rosetta decides that her place is by her husband’s side so she cuts off her hair, dresses in shirt and pants, and volunteers as a Union soldier. Told in Rosetta’s powerful voice, this story captured my heart from page one. I laughed, cried, and rooted for Rosetta. McCabe’s prose is absolutely stunning and I hung onto each and every word. Beautiful, lyrical, heart-wrenching, unforgettable, and thoroughly researched; it’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.


Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted by the sudden death of his mother when he was a teenager, her body found in the cellar on their family farm. The case shook the sleepy farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, and for years Jack stayed away from home. But when he receives news that his beloved Aunt Julia has been in a horrible accident, Jack and Sarah are forced to return to his hometown. Upon arriving in Penny Gate, they are greeted by the family Jack left behind twenty years ago.

Gudenkauf does a masterful job of capturing the nuances of small-town life. While everyone knows everyone else and their business, can you ever truly know everything? Gudenkauf really dials up the suspense and I found myself glancing over my shoulder as I read (I am not kidding). A well-written, creepy story of closely-guarded family secrets that kept me turning the pages. I read this in one sitting. A friendly warning: Cancel all plans before picking up this book.


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I spotted Lapena’s debut thriller on the staff picks’ table at Chapters Indigo and was immediately intrigued. Lapena considers the questions: How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even–yourself? Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a gorgeous home in upstate New York, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one summer night, the couple decides to leave their six-month-old daughter home alone while they attend a dinner party next door. When they arrive home, their daughter is gone. Detective Rasbach questions the couple over and over and knows that they are hiding something and he will stop at nothing until he uncovers the truth. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

Lapena explores issues of parenthood, postpartum depression, marital unfaithfulness, deception, and family secrets. While the story definitely held my attention, I found it a bit over the top and some of the characters were so unlikeable. I wish Detective Rasbach’s character was fleshed out a bit more and that there was more focus on the investigation side of things. I finished this in 8 hours.

Currently reading:

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

Told in the most stunning prose, Valente’s debut is the story of a St. Louis high school shooting and its aftermath. Valente paints a vivid portrait of how those left behind cope: the four survivors who must put together the yearbook while attempting to process what they’ve been through, their parents, the families of the deceased, investigators, and the town as a whole. A lyrical, heart-wrenching, timely, and necessary read. The writing is so beautiful it hurts. I’m reading this one very, very slowly.

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

I’ve been telling everyone about this book. Who knew the gut could be so fascinating? I am learning a ton and making notes. Enders does an incredible job of breaking down the science and I have a new-found respect for my gut. Smart, funny, and easy-to-digest. The accompanying illustrations are amazing. I’m currently reading a library copy, but I plan on buying my own copy. It’s that good. A must-read!

Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney

This memoir has been on my reading list for two years and I’m happy I finally picked it up. Moroney was married one month when her husband sexually assaulted and kidnapped two women. It is well-written and I am halfway through.

What have you been reading this month?

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


Happy Friday everyone. How was your week? Where is October going? I’ve been going on long walks along the trails in my neighbourhood to soak up all the fall foliage. I feel as though we didn’t have much of a fall in Toronto last year (I remember spotting ONE tree with orange leaves. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention!)

What are your plans for the weekend? As always, the links I loved this week for you to check out…

+ Must read: To the First Lady, With Love. Four authors wrote the most beautiful thank-you notes to Michelle Obama.

+ Stephanie Sterjovski’s stunning wedding day. The sweetest love story: “We chose each other every day since our first date and 8 years later we walked down the aisle to choose each other once more. Coming from different cultural backgrounds, we had our challenges along the way, but our newfound faith brought us closer and gave us strength to overcome them.”

+ Loving this post on cool book covers.

+ The Everygirl does the best career profiles. This one on Jocelyn Adams, the founder of Grandbaby Cakes is my favourite to date. “It is more important to me to preserve my brand’s authenticity for the long run than receive a fat check in the short run.”

+ I couldn’t stop laughing when this DIY costume popped up in my Instagram feed.

+ 12 toxic cosmetic ingredients to avoid.

+ Long read for your weekend: My report to the President. “As you walked Jill and me out into the Rose Garden almost exactly a year ago and I announced that I would not run for president, I said in my remarks that I had only one regret — that I wouldn’t be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it. I said it because I believe it’s possible.”

+ Good news! There’s a Babysitters Club podcast and it’s hosted by two 30-year-old guys.

+ Loved the latest episode of Garance’s Pardon my French podcast. How to Build a Brand Your Own Way: Grace Bonney & Anna Bond.

+ A former prisoner on voting for the first time in his life. “All I can say is I hope other former inmates get out and vote. The problem is, you have to believe to be able to vote, and most of us don’t. Some don’t believe in people at all; others don’t believe in the government because that’s what their lives have taught them. But I will vote. I don’t believe in all people, but I believe in the right people, and what they can do.”

+ Watch: Actors speak about playing the President in their respective films and TV shows.

+ Favourites on Instagram this week: Crash landing via @davekennedy_, NY, you always take my breath away via @ananewyork, Fresh air via @shutterbean,  Up, up, and away via @jamie.woolsey, Hello from Colorado and the first of many picture perfect views via @nataliebergen, The little plant that could via @laurenswells

Reading update:

I read I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe in two days. This is hands-down the best historical novel I’ve ever read. The story captured my heart from the very first page. I laughed, I cried, and I slowed down and savoured the stunning prose. This is definitely one of those books I’ll be reading over and over.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena left me breathless and I couldn’t go to bed before finishing it. I devoured this tightly woven thriller on Monday evening. So many twists.

I am reading and loving Shannon Moroney’s memoir Through the Glass. This one has been on my reading list since last year.

I started Anne Valente’s debut novel Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down last night and I can’t put it down. The stunning prose drew me in. Beautifully written, heartbreaking, timely, and important.

(Photo snapped on my walk through Mount Pleasant Cemetery this week.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love



Happy weekend, friends! I hope you had an amazing week. Here in Toronto, the leaves seemed to have changed overnight and my neighbourhood is exploding with yellow, orange, and red. We didn’t have much of a fall last year so I am taking it all in. Fall just might be my favourite season.

Got any fun weekend plans? It’s 66 degrees and sunny today so I plan on taking a walk along the trails and soaking up the vibrant fall colours while I can.

If you’re in the mood for some reading, here’s a roundup of my favourite links this week…

+ In case you missed it earlier this week: The video and full transcript of Michelle Obama’s powerful speech in New Hampshire.

+ Gael García Bernal: The border thriller ‘Desierto’ is what happens when xenophobic hate speech is accepted. I saw this film with a friend when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September and we are still talking about it.

+ Bookselling in the 21st Century: On the Difficulty of Recommending Books. “I swing between wanting to press my dearest books into strangers’ hands and wanting to hide. I may as well be handing over a piece of my psyche: here is something important to me, this helped me during a painful time, this made me cry. In opening a book I recommend a person opens a window onto who I am. If they dislike the view it feels like a rejection. I know it is not personal, I know that any interaction with a stranger has minimal effects on us both, and yet the fear lingers, similar to telling someone your real feelings.”

+ Hitting the trails and taking in the beautiful fall foliage is one of my favourite things to do in the fall. A guide to fall colours at Ontario Parks.

+ California Sunday Magazine dedicated its October issue to sound! I really enjoyed: Eating With Your Ears, Faking It, Hollywood Voice Lessons, Fish are Loud, and The Foghorn.

+ Can I get a Nose on This? How one chef deals with not being able to smell. Chef Adam Cole on what he would say to those in his profession who consider his inability to smell a disability: “I say Beethoven was deaf and he made beautiful music. I’m not comparing myself to Beethoven, but there are composers who can’t hear who can write music; there are blind artists who paint pictures. I guess it goes to show there’s a lot more intuition that goes into creating than just our perceived abilities. Technically it may be a disability, but it’s never kept me from doing anything I’ve wanted to.”

+ This bag has WiFi!?! On the wishlist.

+ I’ve been listening to NPR’s newest podcast How I Built This and it’s fascinating. I loved the episodes on Instagram and Vice Media.

+ I hate being on my phone all the time. “Recently, my fingertips have started to feel numb because I’m scrolling so often. Numb! That can’t be good. For me, the phone promotes habitually bad behavior, which, if I had to guess, stops mental expansion.”

+ Watch: The New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room get re-shelved with books in this time lapse.

+ Favourites on Instagram this week: Caved via @halfadams, Frost warning via @scotthwilson, Best Easter egg hunt ever via @iamsarahgrafferty, Desert vibes via @songofstyle, I like big books and I cannot lie via @rosielondoner

Fall reading update:

I flew through Susannah Cahalan’s memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness in two days. I am happy I gave this memoir another chance. Brave, inspiring, captivating, beautifully-told, and it didn’t scare me as much as it did when I first read it years ago. Highly recommend.

This week, I picked up These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf on the recommendation of one of my favourite librarians. I read it in 8 hours. Lyrical, moving, shocking, and unputdownable.

This weekend I’ll be cozying up with I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe.

(Photo snapped in my neighbourhood this week.)

Happy {Long} Weekend + Links I Love


Happy weekend! It’s Canadian Thanksgiving and I’m so grateful for an extra day to relax. It’s the perfect fall weekend here―sunshine, blue skies, and a slight chill in the air.

My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the hurricane. How are you spending the weekend? If you’re in the mood for some Internet browsing, here are my favourite links this week…

+ I shared my books memoir―my love of reading, book recommendations, and favourite reads over at The Gentlewomen Book Club. It was so much fun. Thanks Cassie! Connect with the Gentlewomen Book Club on Instagram.

+ My friend Vickie, a certified holistic nutritionist made these walnut lentil zucchini boats. I love how she includes the nutritional benefits at the end.

+ Reader’s Guide to This Fall’s Big Book Awards. Given the number of books I’ve read so far this year, I can’t believe I haven’t read any of the finalists yet! Have you read any?

+ I love getting The Daily Skimm in my inbox every morning. Scroll down for a phone interview with Vice President Joe Biden about Domestic Violence Awareness Act and his campus sexual assault awareness campaign, It’s On Us.

+ And Obama just signed a Bill of Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault. “The act ensures that survivors won’t have to pay for rape-kit testing and that they will be notified 60 days before their kit is set to be destroyed, among other things.”

+ ‘Homeland’ Cast, Crew Tour 9/11 Museum Ahead of Season 6 Premiere. I need to catch up on seasons 4 and 5 before January 15.

+ Sarah Jessica Parker and Ta-Nehisi Coates, on new literary paths. Sarah Jessica Parker: “I have always loved to read for the same reason I love to act,” she says, “which is that other people’s stories are more interesting to me than my own.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “It was very hard to write ‘Between the World and Me.’ I don’t mean the craft, although of course the craft is hard. I mean that it takes a toll on you emotionally. You need to go in another direction every once in a while. He chuckles. “‘Black Panther’ is where I go to play.”

+ 10 bitter foods to try today to improve digestion.

+ Child Brides Learn to Take Portraits of Each Other. So incredibly moving.

+ Hilary Clinton faces her toughest interviewer yet―11-year old Marley Dias. On the first book she ever saw herself in: “When I was young, I really identified with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, particularly the character of Jo. The book was written at a time when there weren’t as many options for women and girls as there are now. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to chart her own course. I remember reading that book and thinking, I want to be like that when I grew up.”

+ These eye-opening images of the U.S.-Mexico border. “Every year, an estimated 350 million people legally cross the border, with some 400,000 entering into the United States illegally.”

+ My favourites on Instagram this week: I feel like I could get some work done in a place like this via @annebogel, A taste of Fall seasoned with a dash of altitude via @erubes1, I do think this is Ontario’s prettiest season via @lisatant, Tonight’s dance partner via @iamsarahgrafferty

In case you missed it earlier this week, I shared the 5 books I can’t stop recommending AND my Fall 2016 reads. Happy fall reading!

Reading update:

I’m working my way through Michelle Obama: A Life. I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favourite reads of the year.

On Thursday, I started Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders. Who knew the gut could be so fascinating? Engaging, funny, and easy to digest. I am learning a lot and making notes. Everyone needs to read this book!

Last night, I picked up Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan and I can’t put it down. It’s my pick for “a book I previously abandoned” for the MMD Reading Challenge. I read it years ago but stopped halfway as it frightened me. I’m in a better place now to see it through till the end.

Fall 2016 Reads

It’s beginning to feel like fall here in Toronto with rainy days, crunchy leaves under foot, and all things apple and pumpkin. I’m looking forward to endless evenings of sipping on warm beverages and getting lost in a good book. This season’s list includes a handful of much-talked-about fall releases as well as books that have sat on my must-read list for far too long.

Here’s a look at the 15 books I can’t wait to read this fall…


Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton

With the U.S. elections fast approaching, I figured there’s no better time than now to read Clinton’s biography. I loved this review from Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times: “A subtle, finely calibrated work….Hard Choices is a statesmanlike document…with succinct and often shrewd appraisals of the complex web of political, economic and historical forces in play around the world, and the difficulties American leaders face in balancing strategic concerns with ‘core values.’

Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Rodham Clinton expected to return to the United States Senate. To her surprise, newly elected President Barack Obama asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. “Hard Choices is a richly detailed and compelling chronicle of Clinton’s role in the foreign initiatives and crises that defined the first term of the Obama administration…it teems with small, entertaining details about her interactions with foreign leaders (Los Angeles Times).

Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis. Along the way, they grappled with tough dilemmas, especially the decision to send Americans into harm’s way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. By the end of her tenure, Secretary Clinton had gained a truly global perspective on the major trends reshaping today’s landscape.


You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

I’ve never read anything by Abbott and I’m excited to dive into her latest thriller which The Boston Globe describes as “Mesmerizing and nerve-jangling…beautifully adept at capturing the intensity of feeling inherent in the flush of youth, the more-innocent aspects of growing up.”

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers–about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself–forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.


Internal Medicine: A Doctor’s Stories by Terrence Holt

I discovered my love of short stories last year and I’ve been keeping an eye out for engaging short story collections. I recently discovered Holt’s short story collection and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: In this “artful, unfailingly human, and understandable” (Boston Globe) account inspired by his own experiences becoming a doctor, Terrence Holt puts readers on the front lines of the harrowing crucible of a medical residency. A medical classic in the making, hailed by critics as capturing “the feelings of a young doctor’s three-year hospital residency . . . better than anything else I have ever read” (Susan Okie, Washington Post), Holt brings a writer’s touch and a doctor’s eye to nine unforgettable stories where the intricacies of modern medicine confront the mysteries of the human spirit. Internal Medicine captures the “stark moments of success and failure, pride and shame, courage and cowardice, self-reflection and obtuse blindness that mark the years of clinical training” (Jerome Groopman, New York Review of Books), portraying not only a doctor’s struggle with sickness and suffering but also the fears and frailties each of us—doctor and patient—bring to the bedside.


I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Mackintosh’s debut thriller I Let You Go is one of the books I’ve recommended the most this year. It’s so good, I read it twice. I re-read it this week and it kept me up way into the night. It was like I hadn’t read it earlier this summer! When I heard Mackintosh was working on a new thriller due out in November, I added it to my reading list right away.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that. Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make.


Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Back in the spring, I read and loved Inside the O’Briens and I can’t stop recommending it to everyone. Naturally, I now plan on making my way through all her books.

Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

In this powerful and poignant New York Times bestseller, Lisa Genova explores what can happen when we are forced to change our perception of everything around us. Left Neglected is an unforgettable story about finding abundance in the most difficult of circumstances, learning to pay attention to the details, and nourishing what truly matters.


Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming-of-age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?

Struggling to comprehend this cataclysmic event—and propelled by a sense of responsibility to the town, their parents, and their school—these four “lucky” survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost, and also, the memories forgotten in the shadow of violence. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.

Nick, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Matt and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.

A story of grief, community, and family, of the search for understanding and normalcy in the wake of devastating loss, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down explores profound questions about resiliency, memory, and recovery that brilliantly illuminate the deepest recesses of the human heart.


These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

When one of my favourite librarians told me he couldn’t put this one down, I added it to my list straight away.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.


Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

I recently came across Moyes’s newest book (due out on October 18th) and I immediately added it to my list. Because Jojo Moyes and short stories.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She’s never even been on a romantic weekend away—to anywhere—before. Traveling abroad isn’t really her thing. But when Nell’s boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone—including herself—wrong.  Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, Paris for One is vintage Moyes—as are the other stories that round out the collection.


Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: When Shannon Moroney married in October of 2005, she had no idea that her happy life as a newlywed was about to come crashing down around her. One month after her wedding, a police officer arrived at her door to tell her that her husband, Jason, had been arrested and charged in the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In the aftermath of these crimes, Shannon dealt with a heavy burden of grief, the stress and publicity of a major criminal investigation, and the painful stigma of guilt-by-association, all while attempting to understand what had made Jason turn to such violence.

In this intimate and gripping journey into prisons, courtrooms and the human heart, Shannon reveals the far-reaching impact of Jason’s crimes, the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders and the implicit dangers of a correctional system and a society that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, and victimhood over recovery.


The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Bennett’s debut novel is one of the most anticipated books of the fall. To top it all off, she’s been selected as one of The National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 honorees for 2016.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House: It begins with a secret.“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.


I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

When I asked one of my favourite librarians to recommend an engrossing historical fiction, he didn’t hesitate. I’ve never heard of his recommendation, but it sounds fascinating.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband, Jeremiah, to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. When Jeremiah leaves, Rosetta decides her true place is by his side, no matter what that means, and follows him into war.

Rich with historical details and inspired by the many women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is a courageous adventure, a woman’s search for meaning and individuality, and a poignant story of enduring love.


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I’m really into thrillers lately and I’ve heard nothing but praise for Lapena’s suspense debut. Also, 1180 people are on the library waiting list for this one so it must be good.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

where all light tends to go

Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

I’ve been meaning to pick up David Joy’s debut since it was first released in spring 2015.
Publishers Weekly raves, “Gripping . . . Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose establish Joy as a novelist worth watching.”

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually.  The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.


The Nix by Nathan Hill

I picked up Nathan Hill’s debut a couple of days ago to see if I wanted to read it this fall and it had me in stitches from the first page.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.

It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.


Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: For too long, the gut has been the body’s most ignored and least appreciated organ, but it turns out that it’s responsible for more than just dirty work: our gut is at the core of who we are. Gut, an international bestseller, gives the alimentary canal its long-overdue moment in the spotlight. With quirky charm, rising science star Giulia Enders explains the gut’s magic, answering questions like: Why does acid reflux happen? What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity and mood? Communication between the gut and the brain is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research―on par with stem-cell research. Our gut reactions, we learn, are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being. Enders’s beguiling manifesto will make you finally listen to those butterflies in your stomach: they’re trying to tell you something important.

What’s on your fall reading list? I’d love to hear.

5 Books I Can’t Stop Recommending

This year has been an amazing reading year for me. I always have two or three books on the go. I’m trying to read 100 books by the end of 2016; I’ve read 60 books so far. Lately, I’ve found myself recommending the same books over and over to friends and strangers who quickly become friends.

When asked for recommendations, here are the 5 books that I keep coming back to…

I Let You Go

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Mackintosh’s debut is so good, I read it twice. One woman’s world comes crashing down when her son is killed in a hit-and-run; another woman, Jenna Gray, tries to escape the memory of the accident by leaving her life behind. The story shuffles between Jenna trying to make a new life for herself on the Welsh coast and a pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of the hit-and-run. Every time I thought I had the story figured out, Mackintosh threw in another twist. Mackintosh’s British police training makes this one shockingly real. Tightly-woven, gorgeously written, brilliant, tense, pulse-quickening, and addictive. Now, I’m counting down the days till the North American release of her new thriller, I See You in November.

The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Schwalbe’s memoir has been on my reading list for ages and I finally read it back in the spring. When Mary Ann Schwalbe is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, she and her son Will spend many hours sitting in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. One day, over a cup of mocha, Will posed the question: “What are you reading?” and their two-person book club was born. They decide to read the same books and discuss them while Mary Ann waits for her chemo treatments. As a result, we learn just how important these books are to the bond between mother and son. I loved hearing about Mary Ann’s fascinating, full life and her determination to keep on living fully right up until the very end. A beautifully written, inspiring tribute to books and the way they connect us and an important reminder to live well. Bonus: Schwalbe included a list of all books, plays, poems, and stories discussed or mentioned in the memoir.

Inside the O'Briens cover

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Genova has written four novels; Inside the O’Briens is the first one I’ve read straight through. At first I thought it would be too scary and too real, but the story of the O’Brien family hooked me from the first page and immediately captured my heart. This beautiful family novel teaches us to keep living in the face of tragedy, never take our health for granted, show compassion, and be present for those around us. A believable, compassionate portrayal of what it’s like to be diagnosed with and live with Huntington’s disease and how it affects our loved ones. I came away from this book with a clear understanding of a disease I previously knew very little about. I read it in three days.

Food and the City

Food and the City by Ina Yalof

I’m a huge fan of food memoirs and Food and the City is in a class all its own. Yalof interviewed professional chefs, restaurant owners, line cooks, waiters, food vendors, and purveyors who call the city home. I loved getting a tour of New York’s vibrant food scene through the eyes of those who are the very heartbeat of the Big Apple. I loved hearing about how people came to New York, how they ended up in the food industry, and the trials they faced along the way. I especially enjoyed the section on crowd feeding. Packed with moving and inspiring stories and fascinating tidbits, it’s a true learning experience. By the end, I had a long list of New York City restaurants and bakeries to check out on my next visit!

Before the Fall

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

My Saturday plans took a backseat to finishing the newest thriller from the creator and writer of the hit TV series Fargo. On a foggy summer night, a New York-bound private jet carrying eleven passengers takes off from Martha’s Vineyard. Sixteen minutes later, the plane crashes into the ocean. Two passengers survive: a washed-up painter and a four-year-old boy. What follows is a twist-filled story of survival, the race to uncover the truth in the aftermath of the crash, the insatiable appetite of the public for information, and the lengths the news media will go to get the story. Hawley’s screenwriting prowess really shines through. A vivid, beautifully written, adrenaline rush of a read.

Which books would you highly recommend? I’d love to hear in comments!

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


Happy weekend, friends! How was your week? Can you believe it’s October?! It’s grey and rainy here so I plan on staying indoors and finally watching this documentary. Have you seen it?

Got any fun weekend plans? I hope you have an amazing one! As always, here’s a roundup of the links I loved this week…

+ Did you watch the debate on Monday night? I didn’t, but this recap made my laugh. 27 deep thoughts about the first Presidential Debate 2016.

+ President Obama sat down with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin for the ultimate exit interview.

+ I love Free People’s  Wellness Encyclopedia series. The latest post all about Cordyceps (which I’ve never heard of!) is fascinating.

+ Perfect fall breakfast: Oatmeal baked apples with maple brown butter and toasted hazelnuts!

+ I am a huge fan of podcasts, but I’m not sure how I feel about audiobooks. I tried listening to a few books on audio earlier this year, but I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I just wasn’t ready. I’m excited to give a couple of Anne’s recommendations a try: 15 audiobooks that enhance your reading experience.

+ Toronto food tour with The Kitchy Kitchen. Love love love it!

+ Vanity Fair sat down with actors and directors at the Toronto International Film Festival. Loved this interview with Naomi Watts on why she rides her bike everywhere in NYC. Watch all the interviews here.

+ After watching just one episode of Chef’s Table, the Netflix original documentary series, I’m obsessed!

+ Also, I recently watched and loved Miss You Already. Funny and heartbreaking. I highly recommend checking it out, but not before grabbing a box of tissues.

Reading update:

Last Saturday, all plans took a backseat to finishing Before the Fall. A twist-filled story about survival, uncovering the truth in the aftermath of tragedy, the public’s insatiable appetite for information, and the lengths the news media will go to get the story.

A few days ago, I picked up my final summer read Michelle Obama: A Life. Washington Post national staffer Peter Slevin paints a powerful portrait of FLOTUS Michelle Obama—chronicling her extraordinary journey from Chicago’s South Side to the White House. It’s riveting so far.

Summer 2016 Recap

This summer was indeed a memorable one. I shared my summer bucket list here on the blog back in May and I managed to accomplish most of what I hoped to. I participated in my third Relay For Life event, read almost all twenty books on my summer reading list, got to know the city even better with an urban scavenger hunt, attended a Toronto Blue Jays game, and ate lots and lots of gelato and ice cream.

It’s officially fall and it certainly feels like it (Today is 64 degrees), so I’m saying goodbye to summer with a roundup of my favourite summer memories…


A quick selfie with Winston Sih before sharing my cancer experience during the opening ceremonies. I was asked to be the survivor speaker at this year’s Toronto Relay For Life. It was simultaneously the most terrifying and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking and I got all emotional, but it was 150% worth it. From my speech: “To me, Relay is all about community. And being a part of this community has taught me that it’s okay to not be okay; it’s okay to be vulnerable.”


Kicking off my third Relay For Life by walking the Survivor Lap with my fellow survivors. The lovely event day volunteers handed out yellow roses to survivors at the starting line. It was incredibly moving.

Union Summer

I spent a lot of time at the Union Summer Market and discovered Toronto food vendors like Heirloom Toronto and Death in Venice Gelato Company.


The most amazing, melts-in-your-mouth Jerk Duck Confit sandwich from Heirloom Toronto Food Truck.


Beating the heat with Cold Brew Espresso & Nutella + Cookies gelato from Death in Venice Gelato Company. Because two scoops are always better than one!


Graffiti spotting on our urban scavenger hunt in Kensington-Chinatown. I know the area pretty well, but I discovered so many new-to-me spots! I’ve been meaning to do a scavenger hunt for years and I’m glad I can finally cross it off the bucket list!


Relaxing by the waterfront with Station Cold Brew’s Signature Cold Brew coffee and one of my favourite summer reads, Food and the City by Ina Yalof.


Cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Go Jays Go! It was my first game in eight years!


Celebrating the arrival of my business cards. I’m officially part of the team at Pom Health and Wellness!


I spent lots of time exploring the absolutely gorgeous Toronto Music Garden.


Checking out the Roxy Fitness event at Woodbine Beach. It was such a fun event and I’ll definitely be participating next year!


Scenes from the TIFF 16 red-carpet premiere of The Secret Scripture. Rooney Mara, Jack Reynor, Eric Bana and Vanessa Redgrave star in this adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s award-winning novel from Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan.

What’s your most memorable summer moment? I’d love to hear!

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


Happy Saturday everyone. I hope you had a good week. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have noticed it’s been a busy and exciting week complete with movie premieres and celebrity sightings (Gerard Butler, Justin Timberlake, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson!) The film fest ends tomorrow; I had the best time and met so many people. I’m pretty exhausted from all the running around so I plan on curling up on the couch with my latest read.

Got any exciting plans? If you’re looking to catch up on some reading, here’s a roundup of my favourite links this week…

+ An incredibly helpful post from Village Juicery on the anxiety-anemia connection. “While anemia is not generally the cause of mental health issues, many symptoms of anemia may present as mental health-like in nature, including chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, energy loss, chest palpitations, insomnia and/or restless sleep, and so on.”

+ Bookmarking: 10 underrated travel spots you should book a flight to asap.

+ What Nobody Told Me: The Thrills and Perils of My First Fashion Week. “Back on Day 1, I was eyes so bright and tail so bushy as I hurried to my first-ever runway show, Hellessy. By the time I arrived, five minutes before its 2 p.m. start time, I was sweating profusely from the hot, broken subway – a physiological state I’d scarcely shake for the next week – and from running several blocks to Pier 59 out of fear of being late.”

TIFF captures a moment in the Festival experience of filmmakers, talent, and programmers using an iPhone 7. Pretty stunning.

+ Amy Adams reflects on her character in Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama, Arrival. “Any time you get a character that is well developed and emotionally vulnerable and yet intellectual… it’s a real gift as an actress. Because, it a reflection of what women are to me. They’re not one thing. They’re not purely intellectually, they’re not purely vulnerable. They’re fully fleshed out human beings. And to see that reflected so beautifully was a pleasure.”

+ Soooo many celebrity sightings during TIFF 16. My favourites from the red carpet: Leo at the premiere of his doc The Turning Point, Scarlett Johansson at the premiere of Sing, Colin Firth’s surprise appearance at the premiere of his film Loving, Tom Ford at the premiere of his film Nocturnal Animals, Ryan Gosling at the premiere of La La Land, Matt Damon at the premiere of his film Manchester By the Sea, Justin Timberlake at the premiere of JT & The Tennessee Kids, Gerard Butler at the premiere of The Headhunter’s Calling.

+ Architecture that’s built to heal. This TED Talk landed in my inbox this week. Such an innovative and inspiring concept!

+ What happens when there’s only one public defender in town. “Every Wednesday, she makes an all-day trip to the infamous Angola prison to meet with clients. Every other night, she visits inmates at the local jail. Every weekend, she works.”

+ I’ll be whipping up this layered chocolate, banana, and date shake this weekend.

+ Fall movie release schedule. I highly recommend watching Desierto which I caught during last year’s TIFF. An edge-of-your-seat thriller for sure. I can’t wait for The Dressmaker, Deepwater Horizon, The Accountant, American Pastoral, Arrival, Elle, Shut In, Manchester By the Sea, and Patriots Day.

+ Instagram favourites this week: In the running community, there’s a saying that goes – if you can’t race, you cheer via @melsays, Mission to Mars: Complete via @lesspressed, Fastest way to fashion week via @ iamsarahgrafferty, After hiking ten miles across the lava field via @brightbazaar

Summer reading update:

+ Last Sunday night I started The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. The manager at my neighbourhood bookstore recommended it to me last year. I am so happy I finally picked it up. Soooo good!

+ Last night I started Noah Hawley’s new thriller Before The Fall. From the very first page, I was hooked. Vivid, dramatic, beautifully-written and perfectly paced; I am already halfway through. It’s like watching a movie you wish would go on forever.

(Photo snapped at the premiere of The Secret Scripture.)

Life at the moment


What I’m working on…

Getting back into my ballet routine. Back in May, I started getting terrible headaches, feeling dizzy (even while sitting), and incredibly exhausted even after sleeping for 8 hours. In June, I did a blood test which showed that my iron was extremely low (It was sitting at 8!) I took a two-month break from ballet and focused on getting my iron levels up. It was a difficult but necessary decision. I started taking heme iron supplements daily, incorporating iron-rich foods into my diet, making sure I was getting enough sleep at night, and drinking more water than I’ve ever drank before. It’s been a rocky road but I’m happy to report that I’ve got my energy back, I haven’t had a headache in months, and I’ve taken three ballet classes since mid-August!

Go-to snack foods…

G.H. Cretors Chicago Mix (Buttery caramel corn & aged cheddar cheese corn). A friend introduced me to it a couple of years ago and I fell in love! It’s the perfect solution for when you can’t decide whether you’re craving something sweet or salty (Or does that only happen to me?) I also love Brookside dark chocolate-covered goji and raspberry. Soooo good.

Favourite Juicery…

Village Juicery at Yonge and Eglinton. I’m a huge fan of their cold pressed juices. Be Calm (celery, pineapple, fennel, cucumber, and mint) is my go-to juice when I’m feeling dehydrated. It’s incredibly refreshing and a great source of iron, calcium, and magnesium. Yesterday, I was feeling a bit tired so I stopped in for a pick-me-up. The nutritionist recommended one of their plant milks, Be Happy. It’s packed with cashews, alkaline water, maple syrup, Himalayan pink salt, and cacao nibs. I’m not kidding; my spirits lifted after just one sip! I’m going nuts over this healthy, decadent treat.

What I’m watching…

I’ve been catching up on movie-watching. Over the past few months, I’ve watched Still Alice, While We’re Young, Me Before You (I bawled my eyes out), Finding Dory, London Has Fallen, and American Sniper. Lately, I’ve been in the mood for documentaries. A few on my watch-list: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Half the Sky, Taxi to the Dark Side, and Stories We Tell.

Currently reading…

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm, The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman from my summer reading list.

Must-have beauty products…

Vichy Cleansing Foam, NeoStrata Crystals and Activator, Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in Iris, Cover Girl Lashblast Mascara in Black-Brown.

Habits I want to break…

Checking Instagram first thing in the morning (It’s like an addiction). Also, consuming way too much sugar.

Habits I want to keep…

When I was dealing with low iron issues, I felt dehydrated most of the time and it forced me to start drinking lots of water. I’ve been drinking at least 7 glasses a day and hopefully I’ll keep it up! Also, before I do anything else in the mornings, I jot down all the things (big and small) I’m thankful for in my journal. This simple task has made a world of difference in the way my day unfolds. Gratitude is really so important!

What I’m going to miss the most about summer…

Food trucks, unwinding on rooftop patios, eating outdoors, reading in the park, walking everywhere, relaxing by the lake, eating scoops and scoops of ice cream, the breathtaking sunsets.

I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to lately. Feel free to share in the comments.