Book Review: Changeling (Philippa Gregory)

Oh, Changeling.

Before I dig deep into the emotions I felt towards the end of this book (and I have a LOT of emotions), let me give you a quick summary. Mind you, it’s written by the highly-acclaimed (and one of my favourite historical fiction authors) Philippa Gregory so I was a tad bit biased in my expectations.

First Impression: The cover is pretty. It’s purplish and showcases two people, a girl and a boy, and is sort of plain, but gives you a good sense of the setting and time period. The fact that Isolde is standing in the foreground and holding the torch makes it seem as if she is the main character, which is what I had assumed until reading the book. Luca, who stands behind her, is whom the story generally follows so that was a bit misleading. Overall though, it looked intriguing and full of delicious medieval secrets.

Summary: It’s 1453 in Italy, a medieval and religious period in history. Luca Vero is a bright, seventeen-year old boy who you’re introduced to at the beginning of the novel. He’s said to be handsome and exceptionally gifted – so much so that the village he was born in accused him of being a “changeling”…someone who has been touched by magic and witchcraft. Moreover, he’s cast out to prison by the religious order he was in because he attempted to use new science (math etc.) to understand superstitious beliefs. However, Luca is taken in by a secret religious sect, the Order of the Dragon, which aims to use his gifts to investigate and wipe out the evils in Europe. So, Luca travels around the country with his companions, on assignments commissioned to him by the Pope.

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Book Review: I’ve Got Your Number (Sophie Kinsella)

So, let me just start by saying that I’m a HUGE fan of Sophie Kinsella. Who wouldn’t be? I love her candid writing style and the way you absolutely fall in love with the characters. I feel like in some dimension, Becky Bloomwood (her heroine from the Shopaholic series) and I are besties. And after reading I’ve Got Your Number, Kinsella’s got me feeling the same way about Poppy.

What’s it about? The story revolves around a charming, yet somewhat self-conscious girl named Poppy Wyatt. Although self-accomplished as a physiotherapist (and in love with what she does), Poppy tends to feel rather unworthy in regards to her well-known, university professor fiancé Magnus (this name does two things to me – make me cringe and think of a pompous, big-bellied man with a curled mustache and monocle, or it makes me crave Magnum ice cream..hmm). Magnus is what you would call “love on paper”. He’s got all the credentials, the air of a sophisticated gentleman, wealth, and family. Poppy is totally in love with the idea of him – how could you not love being engaged to someone so perfect? But of course, in pure Kinsella fashion, a whirlwind twist knocks on Poppy’s door. Everything dear to her in this picture-perfect life is suddenly put in grave danger when she (accidentally) loses her engagement ring at a pre-wedding event! Horrible, right? It gets worse. She also loses her cellphone! Imagine losing something extremely precious to you (like if one of the girls in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants lost the pants or if Hermione in Harry Potter lost the Time-Turner) and then losing the one thing that could be traced back to you with helpful information. Nothing seems to be going right for Poor Poppy.

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Author: Emily Giffin

The first-ever author highlight – so exciting! There are countless authors that I’m in love with and would kill (not literally) to interview, but for this first ever attempt, Emily seemed like my girl.

The world has changed. No more letters by owl (poor Pigwidgeon), it’s all about Facebook, texting, and Skype. And while I won’t burst into a debate about the charm of letters versus the accessibility of emails, let’s just say that advanced technology has made connecting with our favourite authors a whole lot easier. When discussing which author was easy to contact and kept in touch with their fans on a regular basis, a lot of names came up. But one of my favs has got to be Emily. From giveaways to pictures, Tweeting, and playing trivia with fans, she has got the whole communicate-with-your-readers thing down.

So, I emailed her lovely assistant Kate and am able to give you some interesting info on Emily Giffin. If you weren’t a fan before, I seriously hope you will be now! ….in real life and on Facebook 😉

Name: Emily Fisk Giffin

Background Info:

Born March 20th; one of three siblings

Graduated from Wake Forest University, and then from University of Virginia School of Law (She’s a lawyer!)

Worked in litigation until she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and moved to London

Is married with three kids; twin boys (Edward and George) and a daughter (Harriet) — such royal names!

Lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is a NY Times bestselling author

Age: a very young 40

Books Written: Something Borrowed (made into movie), Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter

Upcoming Book: Where We Belong (read a preview here)

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all you amazing moms out there! And for everyone else, it’s time to start thinking of that ingenious gift you’re going to give Mom this year. Not all mothers are into books (they live such busy lives after all), but for those who are, there are tons of creative literature-related ideas out there that will trump the good ol’ breakfast-in-bed and the always-reliable flowers. And even if your Mom isn’t an avid reader, you can always find a book or two related to something she does like. Here are some of our ideas for Mother’s Day:

For the Reader

Bookstore gift card (every reader’s favourite)

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

For the Writer

A brand new Journal (nothing gets creative juices flowing like a fresh book with crisp pages just waiting to be written on)

Inner Truth Parent Journal (A creative notebook with funny quotes and on the quirks of parenthood.)

For the Chef

In My Mother’s Kitchen by Trish Magwood

Weeknights with Giada by Giada De Laurentiis

Williams-Sonoma Baking Book (a must have!)

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New Releases – May

New books smell like love. At least, that’s my opinion (and hopefully you agree!). The month has just begun (kind of…) and there have been a bunch of awesome releases and even more to look forward to. Here are some that I’m dying to get my hands on:

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie (a young woman returns home after being lost to find that life has moved on – intriguing!)

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Bringing Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (a sequel to Wolf Hall and great historical fiction)

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (part of the Mortal Instruments series)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (sequel to Divergent and a HUGE fan favourite)

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The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts (part of the Inn Trilogy)

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (sequel to Delirium – read it, loved it!)

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The 50 Book Pledge

A lot of times, readers find that they have mental lists of novels to read, yet time and memory escapes them. When you see an interesting book, but somehow forget about it in the mess of thoughts you have, it’s super frustrating. Many of us make new year’s resolutions to read a certain amount of books, or collections by a particular author, or just really wish to expand our literary horizons. Luckily, the brilliant minds at HarperCollins Canada have created the 50 Book Pledge.

This pledge is for everyone and anyone (brave enough to take it!) to read 50 books over the span of 365 days. Why not 52, one for each week? Well…life gets in the way and two weeks of grace could come in handy, plus 50 sounds like a nice round number. But seriously. How awesome is the idea? With this pledge, you have a goal and a destination. You can’t end the year thinking, “Gosh, I wish I’d read more…been more worldly.” Nope. The pledge will guarantee that you explore a few worlds, meet a few new people, and escape to a few mental vacations!

It’s simple. No deadlines – start at any time. You don’t have to sign any waivers and there are no punishments for falling behind. The idea of reading even a couple more books a year than you generally do is worth it, right? So join us! Browse Chapters for new releases and recommendations, check out your local library, or the newspaper to find something you like (We personally recommend Savvy Reader to get you started). Start off with a bang! Read something wonderful.

Now, we know that keeping a list of all those books can be a hassle. But you also don’t want to forget the ones you’ve read, for the sake of looking back at your accomplishments and seeing how your year played out. Want our advice on how to keep track of your adventures?

Start a Pinterest board! It’s super easy and incredibly visual. We find that pinning all the books you’ve read helps you recall story lines and characters, simply by looking at the cover. It’s also a great way for you to share your pledge with friends and let others get ideas on what to read next.

So now you’re set. Find that perfect place, settle down, and crack open the spine of a fresh book (or click on the cover of an e-book!). It’ll be worth it, we promise and as always, happy reading!

P.S. Here are some great suggestions to get you started! 

Divergent by Veronica Roth (a dystopian series – highly recommended for The Hunger Games fans!)

Room by Emma Donoghue (a Canadian achievement! Room is unique and thrilling – not your everyday novel)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (another dystopian series – The Hunger Games fans will love it)

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (your modern day Lord of the Rings, highly detailed and epic – check out the show as well!)

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (big favourite – totally intense and psychologically gripping)

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (for the historical fiction fan! Ms. Gregory is an artist with her words)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James (racy, romantic, and definitely for young adults and up – also a current bestseller)

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (a romantic, sweet, typical Sparks-esque story)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (for the classic mystery lover)

Eragon by Christopher Paolini (an adventure excellent for kids or just about anyone really)

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (for the Non-Fiction lover – a 60-yr old novelist recalls her experiences in life)