March 10, 2022

Inner Pondering & Page Turning

 It's been a while. 

Three years to be exact. 

When I started this blog, Simply Books, I wanted to create a space where I could unapologetically gush about books, my love of reading, words and more. Unfortunately, due to this thing called 'adulting', I got a little distracted.

I have still been reading, lots! In fact, I even started a digital magazine with a friend because we both love reading and realized that there was not any quality, relatable content out there that one could devour. This project unfortunately only produced one issue and it was really in part to my friend and creative partner. There were a few things wrong with this project:

  1. Don't get romantically involved with anyone. It ruins your mental state.
  2. Don't start heavy projects like launching a digital magazine when you have a FT job.
  3. Be ready to truly focus on the hobby/project even if you have said FT job.
  4. If you can't stand digital books, don't start a digital magazine - you have to believe in what you're doing.
  5. Don't overcommit yourself - you'll risk your friendship and your sanity.

Safe to say, I learned a lot during that "phase" as I now refer to it. 

Other than the digital magazine project, romantic hiccups, family drama and a few job changes, there's also been this pandemic. It has been a ride. But along the way, and throughout these past years, books have continued to provide me with an escape and comfort. I guess you could say that books are my drug of choice. Along with a healthy bottle of red. My name is Leila and I'm a bookaholic. 

I'm now living in Hamilton, ON and while I always had this plan in the back of my head, I certainly didn't think it would have happened like this. (During the lag of a global pandemic, loss of a job and family troubles) - but somehow it's all working out. (Thanks and a big shout out to the close friends that I have!) 

Coming back to this blog was a fluke. I rarely use my Gmail account and when I rewatched Julie & Julia one quiet Saturday afternoon it reminded me of my brief but fun blogging days behind Simply Books. I logged into my computer and there she was. My blog.

So here I am. Writing to everyone and no one at the same time. Reading books, living out of a suitcase (several actually) until I move into my new apartment at the end of March and while it's been a crazy period of time, my books have travelled with me and kept me company along the way. They always have if I'm being honest. No matter what was going on at home, at school or with friends or work, books and reading has allowed me to find belonging and purpose tucked between the pages. From fictional worlds to Oprah's book club selections, I have found my church, my therapy and my sanctuary in books. 

I'm glad to be typing this blog post while a stack of books sits in front of me. I'm glad that my enjoyment can be shared here on the world wide web and should someone come along and find this blog, perhaps we can share a line or two about our favourite books or a shared love of escapism. Until then, I will write this blog for me, myself and I... As long as I remember to keep posting.

May 25, 2018

Historical Fiction and Why I Love It

I remember grade ten history in high school and how boring it was. I don't think it was the teacher's fault or the actual history of Canada and its impact in WWI and WWII, but I do think that it was in the way that it was conveyed.

I also remember not doing too well in that class. This is something that shames me as I love history and actually can remember dates and places quite well.

When I picked up my first couple of historical fiction novels, (Jennifer Robson and Beatriz Williams are just a couple off the top of my head), they transported me. They took me into the pages and with their details and descriptions I too was placed in the setting alongside their main characters.

In my previous post mentioning Jennifer Robson, I wrote that her academic background lends to her attention to detail and I am not kidding. For me, I need the descriptions and the ideas behind objects, tickets, expenses and day-to-day life to really immerse me in the story.

Reading about characters set during WWI and WWII provide a romantic and sometimes harrowing tale for readers such as myself. I think these stories provide a small insight and turn, what I'm sure is notebooks full of research for the authors into 350 or so pages of pure delight and immersion for people like myself. 

When I found Kate Morton, she was the perfect Gothic / Victorian historical fiction writer that I needed. Her books are like a vortex that picks you from your seat and pulls you in as soon as you open the cover. I am excited for her next novel, The Clockmaker's Daughter.

Can you tell I love Kate Morton's books?
Stories set during the first and second world wars are of constant interest to me and unfortunately I can't narrow it down to one thing. Maybe it's the history itself, the lives of characters inspired by real life people or maybe against all the odds in the world, some people were able to move on and create lives for themselves.Whatever it is, these stories provide hope and inspiration that no matter the hardships, even a plucked flower has the chance to bloom again. 

Even though I love historical fiction, I also enjoy adult fiction, contemporary fiction and YA.

I can't narrow down my favourite historical fiction story, but I highly recommend Kate Morton, Beatriz Williams, Jojo Moyes, Jodi Piccoult (The Storyteller) or Danielle Steel (The Legacy) to get you going.

What is your favourite genre to read? 
Leave a comment below.

May 23, 2018

Jennifer Robson Author Talk Event & Review

This month I had a wonderful opportunity to see one of my favourite Canadian authors, Jennifer Robson at my local library.

Getting another chance to listen and chat with Jennifer was a real treat and to do so at my local library was an added bonus! We were called her "super fans" at the reading and had our picture shared in the library's e-newsletter.

My coworker and I (see image below), really enjoy Jennifer's books and we had previously met her at the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto a few years ago. 

Me (left), with Jennifer Robson (middle) and my coworker, Lorene at the Author Reads event.

Finding Jennifer Robson and her books was a desperate attempt on my part to keep my love for Downton Abbey alive after I binged on the show. I was searching high and low for any media - books, movies, tv shows, everything! Just to keep the love for WWI Britain and my anglophile love alight.
The book that started it all.

At a trip to Costco, (I love their book selection and prices), I found a copy of Jennifer Robson's Somewhere in France (The Great War #1). I quickly grabbed a copy and read it immediately. 

The book was everything that I was looking for! It combined the aristocratic British class and the Great War and the romance that I craved - the perfect post Downton Abbey crave filler.

This book launched my love for the historical fiction genre and now I'll find books that take place in WWI and WWII as instant must-reads. 

Some authors similar to Jennifer Robson that I enjoy are Pam Jenoff, Karen White, Santa Montefiore, Lucy Sanna and more! Check out Goodreads for full lists and suggestions - you won't be disappointed!

While at our library for the seasonal Author Talk event, Jennifer Robson touched on her recent book, Goodnight from London which was her first book that was set during WWII. 

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson

Goodnight from London centers around Ruby who is an American reporter sent to Europe to cover the stories of the war. Ruby finds love, loss and a strength inside herself that she didn't know she had.

Jennifer writes with amazing detail. Everything from the comfort of the train seat, to the rations provided each week and even down to understanding the currency at that time. Her attention to detail and academic background lend a hand in her writing and her words are transporting.

Whenever I read a Jennifer Robson novel I am immediately sucked into the pages and I feel like I am right there too. Not many authors can do that.

Jennifer Robson also touched on her next book release, The Gown: A Novel. 

As told by Jennifer, The Gown follows two women who are a part of the team who is creating Queen Elizabeth II wedding dress. What an awesome concept!

Jennifer actually went to London to the atelier who originally hosted the seamstresses who embroidered and sewed Queen Elizabeth II actual wedding dress and even created a beautiful motif, similar to the original motifs on Queen Elizabeth II wedding veil, just so she could gain an understanding of the time and effort that went into the hand embroidered masterpieces. Now that's dedication! 

The expected date of publication for The Gown: A Novel is January 8, 2019 and I am counting down the days!

My local library is hosting another Author Talk event in June 14 for Heather Tucker who will be speaking about her debut novel, The Clay Girl. I have never heard of this book, but after reading the synopsis, I'm excited to try it.

Images courtesy of and the Collingwood Public Library.

May 22, 2018

10 Books You Probably Haven't Read ... Yet

I'm known for my random book finds and off-beat title choices.

At work, the ladies are always interested in what I'm reading and always say that I find the books that no one has ever heard of. 

So here are ten books that you probably haven't heard of or read ... yet.

He Said / She Said was a recent find for me that I purchased via Book Outlet. This story was creepy and captivating and I couldn't put it down. Think of it like a HBO TV mini-series that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This story follows a couple post-dramatic past and how they reflect on the choices made on one harrowing night. Eclipses never sounded so chilling. 

Juliet by Anne Fortier is an all-time favourite re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Although I personally have never read Romeo and Juliet, this story has stayed at the top of my favourites list since high school. I used it during my grade 12 novel study and remember not being able to stop reading it. In fact, I read it twice that year. 

Basically Juliet is a distant relative from the original Juliet and how some secrets come out and falls in love with her Romeo (or something like that). Think Dan Brown meets Nora Roberts. You won't be disappointed. 

Kristin Gore's Sweet Jiminy was a random find for me at the local dollar store. I love the selection of books at the dollar stores and for less than $5, you can find some great, notable reads! Go check it out for yourself. 

Sweet Jiminy was a southern tale that left me wanting more. I remember reading this book and loving every page. It's a quick read that weighs more in depth, then in page numbers. 

Under the Jeweled Sky was a heart-wrenching book. While reading this book, have tissues on hand. There, you were warned. This book was another dollar store find for me and I read it in one night. The writing of Alison McQueen was rich and emotional. I HIGHLY recommend this story. 

Digging in the bargain bins at any major grocery store, department store or random hole-in-the-wall is no feat for me. I don't mind. Especially when I know I'll find some gems at the bottom. 

Modern Girls was just one of those many gems. I almost put this book down and I'm so glad that I didn't. A woman of Jewish heritage falls pregnant all the while trying to keep it a secret from her family and maintain her relationships and makes decisions that shape the rest of her life. This coming-of-age story shows a version of a mother-daughter relationship, (like all mother-daughter relationships) that was beautiful, complex and definitely makes you think about what you would do in that situation. I didn't like the choice that the main character made at the end, but I'll let you decide. 

The Bookseller. Where to begin? This book was awesome! It was quirky, witty and beautiful. Soon to be a motion picture (apparently), starring Julia Roberts, The Bookseller was a great find that I couldn't put down.
This story follows a woman who is stuck between a dream and a reality, but soon the two start to fuse together and in a weird trip / twist of events, the main character comes to realize that the smallest choices that we make have lasting effects. I so hope this book becomes a movie!

I love adult fiction that surrounds the topics of family and sibling and Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes is a perfect example of that. This witty, realistic story follows the Ford family and their vineyard. Dad wants to sell, mom wants a divorce and the kids can't agree on anything. This book was the perfect breezy summer read that easily played in my head as a movie. Do you do that too? Do you see books as movies in your head? I even think of celebrities that would portray the role. 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore was a quick grab for me before checking out at my local Indigo Chapters book store. I hummed and hawed but eventually purchased this book. It was a bit challenging to get into but I'm so glad that I did. This was a different read for me but the story was great. A bookstore clerk's customer commits suicide in the bookstore where she works. The story he leaves behind for her unravels secrets of her own story and brings to light some truths that she thought she had buried deep inside. Read it for yourself - you won't be disappointed. 

The first and definitely not the last book that I'll be reading from Gwendolyn Womack, The Fortune Teller was fast-paced, full of historical and wonderfully woven romantic stories and finished with a bang! Take this book on for size at your next book club or just to get you through the weekend. Womack expertly weaves past and present, taking you along for a ride of mystery, romance, murder and magic. I can't wait to read The Memory Painter by her next. It's currently sitting on my book stack by my couch. 

Last but not least, The Perfume Collector. This was an impulse buy, as are most of my book purchases at WalMart. They always have that 2 for $15 paperback deal and I always fall prey to it. I know. I'm weak.

The Perfume Collector was sad, beautiful and romantic. Katherine Tessaro's historical romance was rich in detail and intrigue at where the story would take me next. From Monaco to WWII Europe and every where in between, The Perfume Collector was a classic example that everyone has a story and that scent plays a powerful association with memory. 

These ten books, are books that I wouldn't have found if I hadn't allowed myself to step outside my comfort zone or if I hadn't dug a little deeper in the bargain bin. The finding of these ten unique stories brought me on different journeys and prevented me from entering a reading slump (this is a real disease that affects hundreds of readers every week). 

Give these titles a try. I promise you won't regret it.
Links and cover photos from 


Wow! Simply Books has been an idea that I wasn't sure that I wanted to pursue.
There - I said it.

If you're reading this, then a) thanks for reading this and b) this is my very first blog post for Simply Books.

Blogs and blogging have long been a favourite platform of mine and I'd be lying if I said I haven't attempted this before. 

But this time, I have a good feeling.

Simply Books was a blog name that came to me while I was pondering the idea of starting a blog. I wanted to keep it simple, try not to bite off more than I could chew and really use this as a platform for being creative and having a chance to write (or type rather). 

Books and reading are topics I know lots about, so naturally that would be a comfortable topic to blog about.

I read a lot, always have. The last few years since graduating college, I was stressed about finding a career in my field of study and to escape the pressures of being a post-grad, I fell back into the pages of my favourite pastime.  

While reading, like any hobby can be expensive. I pride myself on my book-bargain hunting abilities. With a favourite online site, like Book Outlet, I can hoard my books and not break the bank. You'll notice this if you follow me on Instagram.

These days, I have become immersed in the online book community. 
Who knew there was a plethora of Instagrammers, Book Tube video creators, blogs and more all dedicated to my shared passion of reading.

Personally, I have very few friends who read and I live in a age-diverse community, so to find (or cultivate) a social book club is difficult. Therefore my solution has been to create a blog where I can sound off for as long, or as little as I want about books, reading lists, authors and more on a medium that I am extremely comfortable with - computers.

I don't know where this blog will take me, but I'll keep reading and sharing my thoughts, putting them out into the cosmic internet void. Who knows what could happen?

If you'd like to join me too, scroll down to the bottom and sign up for email notifications for future blog posts.