LLRC Half-Marathon Training Schedule

My Top 10 Books for 2013

Wow, it seems the only time I blog anymore is to do my yearly top books list!  The good news is that this year I have 10 titles on the list. It was a fantastic year for books, yes?  And I love the variety here.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


When I heard the premise of the book I was very afraid, but in Atkinson’s deft hands I was completely swept away and quickly lost all doubt. Loved this book!

Joyland by Stephen King


I hadn’t read Stephen King in years, and I don’t know what made me pick this up, especially since it was only released in print. But I adored this atmospheric, spooky, sweet funhouse read.

Eleanor & Park by  Rainbow Rowell


A captivating story of first love that had me hooked from the first page.

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon


This weighty book about parenting exceptional children is intimidating, but I tackled it one chapter at a time, weaving lighter fare in between.  Incredibly well-researched, this important book is a must-read for parents.

Update: Nathan Maharaj  from Kobo eloquently explains why this is his pick for best of 2013 here.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


If you have anyone left on your shopping list, get them this enchanting little book. And for the young readers, pick up Gaiman’s Fortunately, The Milk (my eight-year-old adored it).

Cataract City by Craig Davidson


This stark, gritty novel about a blue-collar town  is not for the faint of heart, but it was my favorite of the Giller nominees this year. I want to read more from this author.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


This book surprised me! It’s charming and delightful and left me with a big silly smile on my face.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone


This is a totally engrossing (and scary) account of a company that’s a force to be reckoned with.  A must-read, especially for those of us in the book biz.

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff


I read most of my books digitally, but I had to own the gorgeous print edition of this title. I knew it was composed  entirely in verse, and to be honest I put off reading it. But once I sat down and cracked it open I didn’t close it until I was finished. And then I wanted to go right back to the beginning and read it again.  Absolutely lovely.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden


A few words to describe The Orenda: well-researched, balanced, nuanced, visceral.  This  is a stunning novel that every Canadian should read. And it’s my pick for Canada Reads!

Happy holidays, everyone. May 2014 be filled with nearly as many excellent books as 2013.

Week One Done!

I survived week 1!  I really paced myself last night, so I wasn’t dying today (the first day this week I didn’t have to roll out of bed). Tonight was our benchmark. One of the things I love about CrossFit is that it is very much about measuring. We did the workout you see below for time (I’m the Julie on the bottom right—not bad, yes?). Then we’ll do it again in week 4 and see how much we’ve improved. As someone who is very goal-oriented, this really appeals to me. I’m going for 13 minutes by the end of the month.


And now for my reward–a big juicy burger and a cold beer! It’s going to taste good.

A New Start

Welcome to my new space! Posterous shutting down was just the kick in the ass I needed to start fresh. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted with any regularity and I miss it. But I’m a bit bored with talking books all the time, so I’m going to mix it up more, starting with my new project….CrossFit!

Those of you who know me IRL probably think I’m joking.  My usual nightly routine involves the couch, a glass of wine (or three)  and a good book (okay, sometimes reality tv instead of the book). But since I’ve turned 40 and I’ve decided I don’t want to die anytime soon, I’ve accepted the necessity of exercise.  Plus I’m sick of my husband being in such better shape than I am. He’s been doing CrossFit for years, and just got his trainer certificate. He’s been raving about our local “box” (CrossFit has its own secret language; for example, the place where you work out is a “box” not a gym) and gently but persistently urging me to give it a shot. So when he emailed me a link for bootcamp a couple of weeks ago I decided to make him really happy and I signed up before I could change my mind.

Bootcamp is pretty crazy (in a good way). It’s a month of 45-minute sessions every weeknight. Though the sessions are short, they are intense.  They get harder each night, and you do a great variety of workouts, combining cardio and strength training. I’m going to document my bootcamp here.

Day 1 – you want me to do what?

The first night they had me doing push ups. I hadn’t done a push up in 20 years. It was pathetic. I mean, seriously pathetic. And it really made me realize I needed to be there.  I gamely did my push ups and squats and tried not to think about how sore everything would be the next day.

Day 2 – in which I try not to barf in front of everyone

The second night we did our “warm up” (what they call a warm up is what I would have considered a great exercise routine).  Then we did the real workout—five reps of 80 skips, 20 squats, and 10 assisted pull ups. For time (that means we are competing). I’m pretty competitive, so I really went at it. We all managed to finish in under 13 minutes, which was awesome. But I came so very, very close to barfing all over the floor.

Day 3 – I can barely move my arms

Everything hurts.  I strongly consider playing hooky. But Sean urges me to just pace myself and  not worry about everyone else.  Tonight’s workout is push ups (hell, again!) knee lifts and superman lifts. This time we are counting the number of reps we can do in 20 minutes, and I don’t pay attention to anyone else. I do just fine and don’t feel like barfing at all.

So, that’s the first three days. It’s really hard work, but I’m feeling good and I’m  proud of myself.  I like the gym—CrossFit gyms or “boxes” are not like regular gyms. They are very industrial, with wide open space, and not a mirror in the place. It is completely unpretentious and I really like that. There are only three other women in my bootcamp group and they are great. My trainer, Julie, is awesome. She even manages to scold me about watching my abs in an encouraging way!  I’m doing this thing.  Will update again soon!julie-crossfit

My Top Books of 2012

Before I started to write this, I was thinking it wasn’t the best year for books for me. But then I came up with a terrific list of five in about five seconds, so there you have it. It was a great year in reading!

So, in no particular order…..

1. Wild  by Cheryl Strayed  

 I love adventure memoirs and this one has so much heart. Mesmerizing.

2. NW by Zadie Smith 

I found it uneven (the sole male narrator was particularly undeveloped) but the authenticity of the female voices blew me away. Plus, very few books make me want to go back to the beginning and start reading again.

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

This one is on so many lists, I don’t have much to add. This is the book I told everyone to take on vacation this year.

4. The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll 

I just finished this last night! This is Andrew Westoll’s account of the months he spent as a volunteer at a sanctuary for chimps retired from biomedical research. The book is heartbreaking, but also fascinating and inspiring. Check out this video to learn more and then buy the book! http://www.andrewwestoll.com/

5. The Blondes by Emily Schultz 

One of the most original books I’ve read in a while! Smart satire at its finest. Can’t wait to chat about this one with The Vicious Circle in January.

Now, you tell me—what did I miss?


Best Books of 2011

I don’t know if these are the “best” books of 2011 but they are my favourites. I was going to do a list of five, but I couldn’t cut one. So six it is!

1. The Sisters Brothers  by Patrick DeWitt             

This Ain’t Your Mother’s Book Club is doing this in January, and I hope they love it as much as I did. It’s Cormac McCarthy-ish, but with more humour.

2. Blue Nights by Joan Didion

This book is unflinchingly honest and gut-wrenching. I pretty much read it in one sitting. Then I hugged my kids tight.

3. The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

This isn’t for everyone, but I just loved it. Brilliant writing, gritty, nasty goodness, this is.

4. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This is one of the best bios I’ve ever read. You don’t need to be a tech freak for this to be a completely compelling read  You can also read it for the business insight from a true visionary.

5. Natural Order by Brian Francis

This is a beautiful book that I will never forget. And if you’re the mother of a little boy as I am, it’s particularly resonant.

6. The Antagonist by Lynn Coady

This is another book I read it just a couple of sittings (I can’t say that about many books these days). Witty, funny, fierce coming-of-age story.

So there’s my list. Now tell me yours!


Back in the Saddle Again

Well, where do I begin? What a long absence. I now have not one but two languishing blogs (my mom blog hasn’t been updated in a year).

I have excuses–a lot has been going on! Back in July I left RH for romance headquarters. I’m having a blast. We have a terrific, large digital team that doesn’t have can’t in its vocabulary. I love that. I’m also working on the Carina Press acquisition team, which I adore. I’ve been reading at least one submission per week for CP, which is digging into my reading time (but in a good way).

I have done a little outside reading lately. Here a few of my recent faves:

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

I’m a big Cormac McCarthy fan, and this is reminiscent of Blood Meridian with a funny twist: a sensitive cowboy! Very witty and fresh.  And don’t you love the cover?

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady 

I devoured this in two sittings. Both funny and sad, it’s a sensitive, engrossing epistolary coming-of-age story with a thought-provoking examination of how people are judged on appearances—and how they adjust their behavior based on this judgment (lots of food for thought for this mother of two).

I’m currently reading Steve Jobs (halfway through) and Amy Lavender Harris’ Imagining Toronto for the Vicious Circle book club. Loving both, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

And what have you been up to? Is there anyone still reading this blog? Bueller?



Before I Go to Sleep


Happy belated Canada Day, everyone.  I had a lovely long weekend full of swimming pools, ice cream, mojitos and, of course, reading. I found myself a perfect summer read in S.J. Watson’s delicious debut,  Before I Go to Sleep. 

Christine wakes up every morning in a strange bed with a strange man.  Every day, that man, her husband Ben it turns out, explains she had an accident two decades earlier that destroyed her ability to retain memories.  Not knowing anything about herself for certain—whether she has borne children, if she was happily married—Christine starts a journal to try to piece together her identity. As her entries grow, she begins to formulate the truth, and has to decide if she can trust the man upon whom she is so dependent.

A high-concept thriller, Before I Go to Sleep is everything I want in a summer read: well written, page-turning, suspenseful and intelligent.  Think Memento meets Eternal  Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  And speaking of movies, Ridley Scott has already acquired the film rights.  

Now I need some summer reads from you—what are you taking to the beach these days?


I am blessed to belong to not one but two fabulous book clubs. They couldn’t be more different—one is  comprised of very bookish industry folk, and the other of old friends whose conversations often devolve to topics I can’t repeat here (actually, that is starting to happen in the bookish club too as we get to know each other better!) But they are both absolutely wonderful, and those meetings are the highlights of my month.

So, I resolve to start doing regular book club recaps here, starting this month.  The Vicious Circle is meeting at my place in a couple of weeks to talk about Jamie Zeppa’s wonderful Every Time We Say Goodbye. I really adored it, and I’m anxious to see what my vicious cohorts have to say.

Next month, This Ain’t Your Mother’s Book Club also meets at my place, and we’re going to talk Alice Munro in honour of her 80th birthday on July 10th. I agonized over which collection to assign, and in the end I went with The Love of a Good Woman because it’s the home of my favourite Munro story, “My Mother’s Dream.”  This collection has some of the best ambivalent mother stories, which are nice and controversial for a book club of mums!

For recaps of previous meetings, Kerry’s Vicious Circle summaries are always fantastic. You can read the most recent one here. Alice recaps the TAYMBC meetings over at her fabulous kid/YA column Shelf Candy.  Check out her latest post here.


Not Fallen Off the Face of the Earth, Really

Two months since I’ve blogged! Where to start? I have excuses for being absent so long. I started a new position in November, and I’m working in eBooks now.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  It’s all very busy and exciting and challenging, and that’s good. Very good. But, for the first time in a long time I’m coming home at the end of the day and I’m pretty spent.  I’ve been trying to use every spare moment to spend quality time with the kids, and I don’t have much left after that. I’ve managed to read a little, but nothing like I was reading this time last year.


The best thing I’ve read so far this year is Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad.  It was on many best of 2010 lists, and for good reason.  It’s smart and alive, and a breath of fresh air. Egan is a fantastic storyteller (even the narrative written in PowerPoint works!). Highly recommend.

I’m also really happy with this year’s New Face of Fiction  titles. I’ve finished all three now, and they are terrific. My favourite is Jamie Zeppa’s Everytime We Say Goodbye. It actually made me cry (in a good way) and a book hasn’t moved me so much in a very long time.  It’s on sale on March 8. You’re in for a treat!

What books are rocking your worlds these days?