Event Recap | Digital Detox at Penguin Random House Canada


What better way to kick off the New Year than by taking a break from our digital devices and opting to curl up with a good book instead? I unfortunately didn’t take part in Penguin Random House Canada’s #DigitalDetox challenge in January (tip: if you want to detox with books, don’t read on your iPad), but I thought this event would be a great way to relax, treat myself to some time away from the screen, and pick up some yummy, healthy recipes to boot!

The event featured samples from Cook. Nourish. Glow., including a delicious cocktail: cardamom, rose and pink grapefruit gin fizz. Some of the food, including the olive and rosemary chickpea flatbread and millet-sesame croquettes with tamari dipping sauce, were a bit dry for my taste, but I really enjoyed the salmon balls with crunchy white sauce. Amelia was there as well, and she spoke to us about her book and about cooking healthy, delicious meals.


The event also featured various tables with products and activities that promote health and relaxation, and the stop that immediately caught my eye was the Butter Me Body mini-spa station. Staff were on-hand to demonstrate some sugar scrubs and hand lotions, that were made from all-natural, Canadian-sourced ingredients. I selected the mango-scented products, which smelled delicious, and I loved how soft they made my skin feel without leaving any greasy residue.


I also really liked the drawer organizing station inspired by Marie Kondo’s book Spark Joy. A floorplaysocks sign quipped that “Happiness is a tidy sock drawer.” My drawers are currently overflowing with hastily crumpled items, so I still have to try out these techniques and let you know if they do indeed cause happiness.


As an aside, the swag bag we received included a copy of Life-Changing Magic, a journal inspired by Kondo’s book, and it’s my current favourite thing. The journal provides space to record whatever has sparked joy in your life in a particular day, and it has three sections per day, so one journal can last you up to three years. I love the act of taking note of the little joys each day, and I love knowing that, on days when things aren’t quite going my way, I can just look back on these entries and remind myself of all I can be grateful for in my life.


The colouring station is another highlight from the event. I now want a copy of that Cats in Paris one, as well as this Paris Street Style colouring book I unfortunately didn’t get in the shot. Other highlights for book lovers and TV buffs include colouring books for Game of Thrones and Outlander


I also happened upon a group learning gentle stretching techniques based on the “Essentrics” workouts Miranda Esmonde-White developed and wrote about in her book Aging Backwards.


Finally, there was a whiteboard where we could post questions for an upcoming Twitter chat with Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things. If you’re a fan, join in on February 5 at 7 pm EST!


It was great checking out the stations and meeting up with fellow book bloggers. The swag bag handed out at the end of the event was full of treats, including a sample of the Butter Me Body scrub, the journal I mentioned earlier, a signed copy of Cook. Nourish. Glow. and, another personal favourite, a coupon for a free cup of tea at David’s Tea. I also really love the quote on the Cheryl Strayed Post-It pad: “Be brave enough to break your own heart.” And I can’t wait to try out some of Amelia Freer’s other recipes.

Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada, for a wonderful detox event!

Event Recap | Random House Canada Spring 2015 Blogger Preview


I was thrilled to receive the invitation from Random House Canada for their Spring 2015 blogger preview. I haven’t attended a blogger event in a while, and I was looking forward to seeing some fellow book bloggers and learning all about the titles to look forward to this Spring.

photo 2-1It wouldn’t be a blogger event without some treats, and true to form, Random House Canada treated us to pizza, pop and bowls of jelly beans. We were also given some book catalogue pages in a folder, which were very handy when it came to noting down titles I wanted to read (most of them!) and I’m sure they’ll come in handy as well when it comes time to write the reviews for my blog. I especially love the Penguin Random House tote that declared “Changing the world, one book at a time.” Great for carrying books home after the event, but also an awesome saying overall, for book lovers.

The Random House team took us through some of the exciting titles in their Spring 2015 catalogue. Below are some of my personal highlights:

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan


I absolutely loved Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, and I was thrilled to discover there will be a sequel out this June. I was fortunate enough to grab an ARC from the blogger preview, which I devoured in less than a week. Watch for my glowing review this June, and definitely check this book out for yourself!

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume


Judy Blume always takes me back to childhood. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is one of my favourite books of all time. So I squee’d in delight at the news of a new novel by her, coming this June. In the Unlikely Event is about three generations of families, friends and strangers whose lives are affected by a series of passenger plane crashes in Elizabeth, NJ in the 1950s. ARCs for this title are not available (understandably so!), but Random House Canada generously provided us with copies of Blume’s earlier novel Summer Sisters. Read my review here.

Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding


A private investigator’s life is turned upside down when she is sexually assaulted on the job, in Joy Fielding’s 25th thriller Someone is Watching. It’s described as a fast-paced, intense psychological thriller reminiscent of Rear Window meets The Silent Wife, and indeed this one’s a page turner. Quite a few too many subplots, in my opinion, but it’s a great way to spend a weekend. Watch for my review later this month.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro


I’m a huge Kazuo Ishiguro fan, so I was thrilled to see he’d written a new novel. The Buried Giant follows the tale of elderly couple Axl and Beatrice whose set off to find their son, across lands where a mist has removed the memories of all who live there. It’s a story about the power of remembering, and the consequences of memories we may regret recovering. A tale with the air of an Arthurian legend, The Buried Giant enchanted me without quite transporting me as much as I’d hoped, but it’s still definitely a must read for Ishiguro fans. On sale now; watch for my review later this month.

Boo by Neil Smith


According to one Random House staffer, if Lord of the Flies and The Lovely Bones had a baby, it would be Neil Smith’s Boo. When 13 year old Boo Dalrymple is killed, he finds himself in “Town,” an afterlife exclusively for thirteen year olds. As he adjusts to his afterlife, another boy from his hometown, Johnny, appears, also killed by the same school shooter. I’m fascinated by the character of Boo, and by Smith’s depiction of the afterlife. The mention of a school shooter adds a dark touch to what appears to be a pretty awesome version of heaven, and I can’t wait to see how it all ties together.

Free Days with George by Colin Campbell


Free Days with George is touted as a heartwarming true story about a rescue dog who helps his new owner rediscover love and happiness, Marley and Me meets Tuesdays with Morrie and The Art of Racing in the Rain. A fellow blogger asked the question I immediately thought but was too afraid to ask, and fellow dog lovers can relax: the dog does not die. Instead, George the Newfoundland Landseer learns how to surf! I’m really excited about this one, and am keeping my fingers crossed for a book launch event where the dog will be here in Toronto. On-sale this May.

A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install


On Deborah Install’s charming A Robot in the Garden, a Random House staffer said, “Everything good in the world is in this book.” She said it had a Pixar vibe, and a blogger quipped, “It’s like if Up and Wall-E had a baby.” Indeed there’s a very whimsical feel to this novel, about a 34 year old man who finds a robot in his garden and embarks on a trip around the world to find out where it came from and return it home. On-sale this August.

Deceptions (Cainsville Series #3) by Kelley Armstrong


I loved the first book in Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville Series, and while I have yet to check out the second, I am also eagerly awaiting the continuation of the series with Book 3 this August. Heads up to the many Kelley Armstrong fans out there, as well keep an eye out for new YA standalone novel The Masked Truth, coming this October.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella


Finally, I loved Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, and am eagerly anticipating her first YA novel Finding Audrey, about a fourteen year old girl with anxiety disorder who finds connection with her brother’s gaming teammate.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs


While Random House Canada didn’t specifically cover this title in the preview, they included some copies of it on the cart of books after the event, which they invited us bloggers to help ourselves to some of the titles. I saw this and immediately dove for a copy, because my sister had been fangirling about it for months, and I knew she really, really wanted to read it. So on behalf of my sister, thank you, Random House Canada! This will be on sale in May; watch for my review closer to publication date.

Even More to Come…

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As if that weren’t enough bookish goodness, Random House Canada also presented a sneak preview of their Fall 2015 titles. I’m personally super geekily excited about the new Margaret Atwood novel The Heart Goes Last!


Thanks to Random House Canada for the invitation to this event!