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BookChick (Simcoe, ON Canada)
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Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining!, March 12 2015
This review is from: Heartbreak Hotel (Kindle Edition)
Russell "Buffy" Buffery is retired from the acting profession and is sick of living in London. He's simply getting too old for the hustle and the bustle, not to mention the lack of parking available! Salvation from the busy city comes in the form of a tired B&B located in the Welsh countryside, left to him in a dear old friend's will. The only problem? The B&B is desperately in need of repairs and he hasn't any money for them, nor does he have the bookings to provide the income.

At first he manages with the help of Voda, the woman who used to clean the house. Her boyfriend is in jail and she's at a loose end so she offers to not only clean the B&B but to assist in running it as well. Quickly Buffy finds that in order to be able to keep the B&B he needs new customers- and fast! He hatches an idea to run courses on cooking and car maintenance and gardening, all with the purpose of catering to the newly divorced whose former other halves attended to these things. While the courses do prove to be quite entertaining, each for their own reasons, they all seem to have mixed results, but an idea has been born and it's enough to keep Buffy afloat for the time being- or is it?

As various people who visit the B&B struggle to find their place in the world, Buffy finds that he is where he was meant to end up all along.

Heartbreak Hotel is the first book by Deborah Moggach that I have had the pleasure of reading, and I was pleasantly surprised! The motley crew of characters provided me with no end of entertainment, and the setting was picturesque and quite fun! It came at a perfect time for me- I was looking for a read that would be both relaxing and fun, and this is exactly what this book was! There were a lot of characters who we meet, some whose heads that we get inside, and some whose we don't, but they are all endearing in their own way, and if there was one that I didn't particularly care for, chances were good that we wouldn't be spending long with them anyways! Buffy, who ties the whole book together, is fun and hard not to love, and I enjoyed getting to know a few of his children, of whom there are many!

If I had a complaint it may be that there were a lot of characters introduced to us in one book, and as such we didn't get a chance to truly get attached to any of them. I also didn't like the fact that we get inside the heads of characters when we meet them, and once they are on their way to a happy ending they are presented to us in a very distant way. No longer are we privy to their thoughts and I wish that we would be!

Heartbreak Hotel was an entertaining read, perfect for enjoying on a relaxing day in the sunshine or at the beach. While I didn't feel strongly for any one character in the novel, I did enjoy meeting them all in passing, and the B&B setting was hugely fun! This being the first book by the author that I have read, I now know that I would like the opportunity to read more from her in the future!

FRiEQ® Waterproof Camera Float - Floating Camera Wrist Strap for Your Underwater Camera - Compatible with GoPro, Panasonic Lumix, Canon PowerShot D20, Marine Binoculars, Camcorders and Other Multiple Small Waterproof Devices (2-Pack)
FRiEQ® Waterproof Camera Float - Floating Camera Wrist Strap for Your Underwater Camera - Compatible with GoPro, Panasonic Lumix, Canon PowerShot D20, Marine Binoculars, Camcorders and Other Multiple Small Waterproof Devices (2-Pack)
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: CDN$ 36.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to keep an eye on your waterproof items, March 11 2015
This device is so simple, yet it makes so much sense to have one! While marketed as a product good for someone with a waterproof camera, it would also be great for someone who has a waterproof phone case such as this one: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00T2QSTW4 . That's what I'm using mine for!

The design is simple and makes sense, it fits comfortably on my wrist and it is covered with a soft material so it won't irritate your skin after a long period of time holding it. The package contains two flotation devices, so if you misplace one you have a backup, or you can use it with multiple devices! The strap is bright yellow, so much easier to see if you do drop your camera or waterproof phone case! I love that this allows you bring your camera or phone out on the lake or to the ocean without having to worry about dropping it! Dropping something in the water often equates losing it for good, so I plan to use this product often this summer! Please note that each strap is good for holding 7 oz each. Although I received this product for review this is my honest opinion.

FRiEQ® Floating Waterproof Cell Phone Carrying Cases for Apple iPhone 6, 5s, 5, Galaxy S5, S4 S3, HTC One, Galaxy Note 3, MP3 Player - IPX8 Certified to 100 Feet (Rainbow)
FRiEQ® Floating Waterproof Cell Phone Carrying Cases for Apple iPhone 6, 5s, 5, Galaxy S5, S4 S3, HTC One, Galaxy Note 3, MP3 Player - IPX8 Certified to 100 Feet (Rainbow)
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: CDN$ 33.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides peace of mind for a great price!, March 11 2015
Honestly I have to admit that these days it's not often that I'm without my phone. I use it as my primary source of contact for work, friends, and family so I rarely leave home without it! In the summer I'm frequently at the beach or on friend's boats as we live close to Lake Ontario and some beautiful beaches. FRiEQ sent me this product in exchange for my honest review and to be honest I'm not sure how I lived without it until now! Right now it's winter but come summer I will be getting my use out of it!!

I love how this case is pretty universal. It's roomy with plenty of room for any phone! My Galaxy S4 fit in there without a problem and with plenty of room to spare! No need to take your phone out of its case if you have it in one- my case and phone both easily fit inside. The phone fits into the pouch easily, and is sealed using two snaps at the top. The pouch also comes with a handy caribiner for in case you would like to snap it to a life jacket or belt loop. The pouch is certified waterproof up to 100 feet and if you do drop your phone into the water while it is in its case, it floats. For extra visibility you may want to consider purchasing the yellow waterproof floating strap that is also available from FRiEQ: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00SUY8DF2

While I love this pouch for the obvious reasons, such as protecting my phone at the beach or pool, I tried it out in the bathtub too since that's another place that I love to use my phone. Success! The touchscreen is easy to use, even through the plastic of the pouch, and the camera still takes clear shots. I tried texting and using my phone's apps, all with great success. I'm impressed that this product lives up to its claims and I'm sure that it will accompany me out many times this summer! A great price in return for worry-proof outings with your phone. Nobody wants to go out to the beach or pool and come home with a water damaged $700 phone to replace! Well worth the price in exchange for the peace of mind that it provides! This is also available in a black for those that would prefer it: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00T2PMJJY

FRiEQ® Floating Waterproof Cell Phone Carrying Cases for Apple iPhone 6, 5s, 5, Galaxy S5, S4 S3, HTC One, Galaxy Note 3, MP3 Player - IPX8 Certified to 100 Feet (Black)
FRiEQ® Floating Waterproof Cell Phone Carrying Cases for Apple iPhone 6, 5s, 5, Galaxy S5, S4 S3, HTC One, Galaxy Note 3, MP3 Player - IPX8 Certified to 100 Feet (Black)
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: CDN$ 33.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides peace of mind wherever you take it!, March 11 2015
Honestly I have to admit that these days it's not often that I'm without my phone. I use it as my primary source of contact for work, friends, and family so I rarely leave home without it! In the summer I'm frequently at the beach or on friend's boats as we live close to Lake Ontario and some beautiful beaches. FRiEQ sent me this product in exchange for my honest review and to be honest I'm not sure how I lived without it until now! Right now it's winter but come summer I will be getting my use out of it!!

I love how this case is pretty universal. It's roomy with plenty of room for any phone! My Galaxy S4 fit in there without a problem and with plenty of room to spare! No need to take your phone out of its case if you have it in one- my case and phone both easily fit inside. The phone fits into the pouch easily, and is sealed using two snaps at the top. The pouch also comes with a handy caribiner for in case you would like to snap it to a life jacket or belt loop. The pouch is certified waterproof up to 100 feet and if you do drop your phone into the water while it is in its case, it floats. For extra visibility you may want to consider purchasing the yellow waterproof floating strap that is also available from FRiEQ: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00SUY8DF2

While I love this pouch for the obvious reasons, such as protecting my phone at the beach or pool, I tried it out in the bathtub too since that's another place that I love to use my phone. Success! The touchscreen is easy to use, even through the plastic of the pouch, and the camera still takes clear shots. I tried texting and using my phone's apps, all with great success. I'm impressed that this product lives up to its claims and I'm sure that it will accompany me out many times this summer! A great price in return for worry-proof outings with your phone. Nobody wants to go out to the beach or pool and come home with a water damaged $700 phone to replace! Well worth the price in exchange for the peace of mind that it provides! This is also available in a funky multi-coloured option! http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00T2QSTW4

It Was Me All Along: A Memoir
It Was Me All Along: A Memoir
by Andie Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.98
40 used & new from CDN$ 1.82

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotional, raw, and uplifting novel! A must-read!!, Feb. 25 2015
Andie Mitchell's childhood was less than ideal. With an alcoholic, depressed father prone to rages, and a mother who carried the household on her back while working four jobs to pay the bills, food became Andie Mitchell's best friend, baby-sitter, and companion. Most of all, it helped her to deal with how hard things were at home and how alone she felt. Coming to terms with being "the fat girl" in high school, Andie seemed to progress into adulthood with minimal scars. She had boyfriends and best friends and a college acceptance.

However stepping on the scale when she was twenty led to the shocking realization that she weighed 268 pounds. Well on the way to morbid obesity and numerous health problems, Andie is forced into the realization that she needs to find a way to lose weight. What follows is her journey- raw and emotional and real. Andie is not someone who wishes to present herself as the perfect person, or as someone who dropped the weight effortlessly. She presents herself as someone flawed and human and wanting acceptance and love more than anything. This is her story- her story of finding beauty within herself, of overcoming a difficult childhood and an eating disorder, and of finding out that inside it was really her all along.

I truly can't convey to you simply using words how deeply It Was Me All Along touched me. I related to it on such an intensely personal level and I couldn't bear to put it down for long! I read at the gym, at work on my breaks, and at home. Not only is her writing exceptional (I would read anything that she's written, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, based on the beauty of her writing alone), but Andie's story is one that I saw myself in many, many times while reading the book. If you've ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw, if you have ever wondered how the whole sleeve of cookies disappeared in one sitting, if you have ever examined the excess flesh on your body and absolutely despised it, then Andie understands. If you'd rather read than exercise, then she gets it. I had a wonderful childhood, while Andie's was tumultuous, but I still found so many similarities between our thought patterns and bad habits. Perhaps the reason that I loved this book so much is because while I was reading it I kept thinking to myself "She really gets the pain of being overweight. She truly understands the struggle". Not only does she understand the plight of the overweight person so well, she manages to put things into words that have only been shadows of thoughts in my own mind.

Andie shares her journey towards weight loss with us in such an honest way, chronicling her ups and downs, her missteps and her triumphs. Through it all, and with a lot of hard work and trial and error, Andie seems to find a balance between being thin and being fat, being obsessed and not caring at all. While her story is far from preachy, I even found a few tips in there that I can easily apply to my own life when it comes to moderation and eating healthfully.

If you've ever been overweight, read this book. If you struggle with your relationship to food, read this book. If you've ever felt so alone that you think that no one could possibly understand how you feel, read this book. It Was Me All Along is one of my favourite books of the year so far and I won't stop recommending it until everyone I know has given it a chance.

No Title Available

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Product that Could Use Some Improvement, Feb. 21 2015
I receieved the Fitbit Charge as a gift (I requested one for Valentine's Day from my husband) and have been wearing it constantly for a week now! There are things that I love, and things that I don't. First of all, it is frustrating that it comes in two sizes, Small and Large, but it does not come in medium. I am not a small nor am I a large and I wish that there was a medium option. I found it frustrating trying to size it. I settled on purchasing a small but am regretting it. The clasp system is not very effective and it has fallen off several times in the past week. I work in a busy manufacturing environment and since the whole point of the FitBit is to track your daily activity it is frustrating that I feel like I have to watch it in order to ensure that it has not fallen off! For an item that is supposed to track daily activity you would think that it would be more secure, and especially for the $140 price tag! I also find that they cheaped out on the screen. Mine is already scratched and I have only had it for about a week.

There are some things that I love about the FitBit. I love that it tracks my daily activity, including stairs climbed and estimated calories burned, and I have found it to be fairly accurate so far. I find that the dashboard covers many areas, and it is nice to be able to track things like the amount of calories I have consumed, the number of glasses of water that I have drank, and how many pounds I have to go until I meet my weight loss goal. The FitBit tracks my sleep patterns and shows me when I was restless in the night as well as when I was the most active during the day.

I am enjoying this product for the most part but I do wish that it was thought out a little better. For a product that is supposed to be worn all day, every day, it is not very secure and if I lose it in the course of a day I will be very disappointed.

New Uses For Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay Novel)
New Uses For Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay Novel)
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another great addition to the "Black Dog Bay" series, Feb. 16 2015
Lila Alders, a home shopping network darling, is used to having money and enjoying all of the privileges that come with it. Her father always made sure to provide only the best for his girls and her husband was wealthy as well. Her carefully constructed world has come tumbling down around her, though. Her father has recently passed away leaving her pampered mother a widow, and Lila is going through a divorce. It's hard to go home, but even harder to go home when nothing seems to have gone right lately.

Lila does return to her home in Black Dog Bay because her mother seems unable to do the simplest things without assistance, and quite frankly Lila has no place else to go. Once arrived she finds herself reconnecting with an ex-boyfriend as well as a mysterious suitor from her past. However as she reunites with her first love she comes to find that what she wanted as a teenager is no longer what she wants as an adult. Struggling to open a vintage clothing store and hopefully save her childhood home from being sold, Lila Alders finally comes to terms with what it's like to stand on her own two feet and become the person that she was destined to be.

New Uses For Old Boyfriends was a fun read that I sailed through. I was done before I realized it! It is one in the series of books that takes place in Black Dog Bay but it can be read as a stand-alone if you wish. Since a few of the characters from the previous books do reappear you may want to read the earlier books first, though! Speaking about characters, this was where New Uses for Old Boyfriends excelled. The characters were fun and fleshed out in a way that made me want to be friends with them! I love Jenna in the Whinery as well as Summer and Hattie and it was great that they were such a presence in this book. Equally fun was meeting the men in Lila's life. The romantic scenes were full of chemistry!

This lighthearted romance was a fun read, and it concluded that perhaps you can go home again! The ending was not predictable at all, which I liked, but I did find it a bit abrupt and perhaps a little rushed. I did enjoy it, though, and I liked where the author left things for the most part. I'm looking forward to the next book set in Black Dog Bay- that little town has certainly won my heart! If you're looking for a stress-free read to use as a fun escape, New Uses for Old Boyfriends certainly fits the bill!

Walking on Trampolines
Walking on Trampolines
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down!, Feb. 14 2015
Tallulah de Longland is coping with more at home than a girl her age should have to when the glamorous and worldly Annabelle Andrews barges into her classroom and into her life. From that moment on Tallulah and Annabelle are inseparable. For some reason unknown to Tallulah, Annabelle has chosen her to be her best friend and when Annabelle makes up her mind about something, nothing will stand in her way.

Annabelle's parents are glamorous and eccentric artists, best known for their quirks and for the drama that always seems to follow one step behind them. Tallulah's dad is a plumber, his motto being that he "plumbs the depths of excellence". Tallulah's mom has struggled with crippling depression for all of Tallulah's life. When her mother is feeling well their house is full of baked goods and cheer, and when she is not feeling well her mother is a shell of herself. The two friends navigate the tricky waters of their home life together and somehow it just makes things easier to handle.

Everything changes when Josh enters on to the scene. Josh is a free-spirited surfer boy, practically ignored by his chain-smoking mother, who walks into the corner store one day when Tallulah happens to be there and suddenly she finds herself with a beautiful and attentive boyfriend. Annabelle is not about to be ignored, though, and Annabelle, Josh, and Tallulah find themselves making up a tight-knit threesome. When an unspeakable betrayal happens and breaks their group up for good, Tallulah finds herself with emotional scars that last well into adulthood and one day she is faced with a choice- does she continue to do what is expected of her, or should she do something that is quite possibly unforgivable?

Walking on Trampolines was nothing like I expected and everything that I hoped for. It was a compelling story about first friendships, first loves, and first betrayals. The story was set in Australia but the themes were universal and they carried themselves well across the pages. I was sucked in from the beginning. I loved the characters- each vibrant and unique- and I loved how the story changed and deepened from page to page. It was one of those stories that I found myself thinking about even when I wasn't reading. Not only did I want to know what happened next, but I wanted to get into the character's heads!

More than just a coming of age tale, Walking on Trampolines is a tender exploration of how the events from our childhood continue to shape our adulthood. It is a story that examines family dynamics and childhood friendships and first loves and how they shape who we are to become later in life. This book was sad and funny and larger-than-life and I won't hesitate to recommend it to absolutely everyone since I had such a hard time putting it down myself. I am already looking forward to this authors next book!

Three Amazing Things About You
Three Amazing Things About You
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another amazing Jill Mansell book!, Feb. 1 2015
Hallie is living with cystic fibrosis on a daily basis. Every day her ability to breathe diminishes and she doesn't know how she would get through without the love and support of her fantastic friends and her mother. Hallie manages to keep her attitude positive, despite her desperate need for a lung transplant if she wants to live much longer, but the fact that she has a crush on her doctor isn't really helping things. Especially as her best friend is completely oblivious and she keeps scheming to get the handsome doctor and his ex-girlfriend back together.

Tasha can't believe that she met her boyfriend while she was rummaging through a trash bin looking for her lost credit card, but she has. And he's perfect in every way with one exception- he is into extreme sports and he loves the thrill of adrenaline that comes with trying them all. Tasha is incredibly worried that one day Rory just won't return from whichever adventure he went on, and this worry plagues her day in and day out.

Flo really likes Zander, and Zander really likes Flo in return. The problem is his selfish, scary sister who will not be even slightly amused if she finds out that the two are seeing one another. There is no way that she will allow that to happen with her blessing but the two are in love, and love conquers all, right?

It's no secret that Jill Mansell is one of my favourite authors. Her new releases are one of the few things that I have to look forward to in dreary January! I always find that her new releases are filled with heart, and the happy endings (while entirely predictable) are the equivalent of soaking in a warm bath with a cup of tea and a new book to read. They are just that enjoyable!

I have yet to meet a Jill Mansell book that I haven't enjoyed and Three Amazing Things About You is no exception. There are three stories being told, and while at first they weren't intertwined in any way I had a guess that they soon would be. I was right, although they didn't come together in the way that I originally predicted! I like that Mansell threw me for a bit of a loop with how she chose to have things go. I'm sure that I was not the only one who thought that things would go one way when in fact they went another!

I loved all of the three main characters in this book, and I was equally satisfied with how each of their stories went. Hallie was a strong character despite her debilitating illness, and somehow she managed to never let her dire circumstances get her down. Flo was quirky and sure of herself, and I admired her strength. Tasha was a lot of fun as well and I wanted things to turn out well for her. She had a great supporting character as a best friend, and their parts of the story made it really fun to read.

I just can't complain about Three Things About You. What was there to complain about? There was a strong, intriguing plot, characters that I rooted for all along the way, and a conclusion that was satisfying without being too over the top. While parts of the story were most definitely sad, others were less so and the overall result was a story that was warm and heartfelt and thought-provoking. I read this one purely for my own pleasure, not for review, and I'm glad that I did.

Bad Will Hunting (Seven Exes series Book 2)
Bad Will Hunting (Seven Exes series Book 2)
Price: CDN$ 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excited for more!, Jan. 25 2015
Ashley can't believe how the producers of the show Ragged Royalty duped her. They made her miss her closest friend and cousins funeral under the guise that she would be on the show Stranded! in his honour, and when she finds out that she's been tricked and instead is being stranded on an island with her ex-boyfriend and a few of his other exes, she is furious and determined to get her revenge. Revenge comes in the form of Will Smith, a sexy attorney that she meets on the plane home, who tells Ashley that she should sue the producers of Ragged Royalty and make them pay.

When Ashley discovers that Will is a fraud, her anger is incensed even more and revenge remains foremost on her mind. She knows that she needs to find Will and make him pay for humiliating her in front of the Ragged Royalty producers and that she won't be able to rest until she does so. She also knows that in order to put this whole ordeal behind her she doesn't want to see anyone from the show ever again. That's why she is surprised when MC and Kent make it a point to start inviting her to their parties and gatherings, and she's even more surprised when they invite her to do a reading at their wedding. Why are these people even bothering with "Angry Ashley"? She's even more surprised when Sam, a fellow contestant on the show, starts spending time with her and helping her with her dream of starting her own hair braiding video business. Why would someone as nice as Sam want to spend time with someone like her?

Despite the new people and experiences that come into her life Ashley finds it impossible to move past her plans for revenge for those who have hurt her. With so much negativity in her life will Ashley be able to find happiness?

I have mixed feelings about Bad Will Hunting. On one hand, it was everything that I have come to expect from Heather Wardell. The writing was spot-on, as usual, and the plot was unique and it drew me in. I really enjoyed the fact that this is a sequel to Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many, one of my favourite books by this author. The cast of supporting characters were great, and I especially liked the development of Sam's character, someone who we did not get to know well in the previous book.

What I didn't like about Bad Will Hunting was Ashley. This is the tricky part for me. On one hand I know that Ashley being angry and unlikable was a key plot point, and the book would not have been the same without it. On the other hand I really, really did not like her. I understood that life has not been kind to her up to this point. Abandoned by her parents at a young age, raised by her cantankerous grandparents, losing her best friend and cousin suddenly- all of these things are bound to make a person miserable. But to me Ashley seemed to have given up on life. She refused to better herself in life because she was worried that she could fail, or that by bettering herself she would be opening herself up to being hurt in some way. I found her to be whiny and angry and fixated on revenge, and therefore she was not a very pleasant person to read about. I didn't root for her throughout the book because of her "woe is me" attitude, and I even thought that the sweet and patient Sam was far too good for someone like her. She just refused to try to make the best of her life for so much of the book.

What turned the story around for me was the ending. It was during the final quarter of the book that I came to like her, and I'm glad that I did because the conclusion saved the book for me. Ashley finally started becoming a likable person and I like how those changes in her personality changed the tone of the book.

Even though Bad Will Hunting is the sequel to Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many, it isn't necessary to read the one to enjoy the other, though that will certainly enhance your reading experience. I was especially excited at the end to read that there will be a sequel to the book that starts where this one leaves off, although this time the focus will be on the vivacious Summer. Despite the fact that Ashley was by far not my favourite person to read about, I can definitely recommend Bad Will Hunting. Heather's writing style and the fabulous conclusion will get you past the fact that Ashley is not the most sympathetic of characters for most of the book. My thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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