That’s My Plan

“It’s too intimidating,” Lincoln said. “The future.”

“So you’re done with the future?”

“I’m tightening my focus. I can handle the near future. Tonight, for example, I’m going to read for pleasure. Tomorrow I’m going to have a beer with lunch. On Saturday I’m going to play D&D. And Sunday, I might go see a movie. That’s my plan.”

“That isn’t a plan,” Eve said.

“It is. It’s my plan. And I feel really good about it.”

“Those aren’t things you plan. You don’t plan to read or to have a beer with lunch. Those are things you do when you have a moment between planned events. Those are incidentals.”

Not for me, that’s my plan.”

– Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

When I read this, I had to pause a moment. I always felt I had to think about the Big Picture and making plans for it, feeling stressed because I don’t have a strategy or even a direction. People asking about my job, where I’m going to live, if I am in a relationship. Their making me feel like a failure because I don’t have a life-long career, leave my belongings at my parents’ house while I travel rather than having my own home, and never even having been in love instead of being married with children.

I’m a bit like Lincoln. Interested in various things, taking various university courses, going to this city and that, working anywhere because you have to rather than somewhere you want to… And no idea whatsoever what I want to do with the rest of my life despite the fact I’m thirty and everyone thinks I should be living the whole “white picket fence” scenario. Do I want a career, a husband, and maybe kids? Sure. Someday. But the school, career, meet-date-marriage path isn’t the one I was on; I was en route the school, travel, who-the-heck-knows-what’ll-happen-when path. Despite reaching MY #lifegoal (moving to Ireland *yAy!*) I felt unfulfilled and floundering because it wasn’t what everyone told me I should want. And then came Lincoln…

He was floundering, but only because everyone kept pushing him to DO before he even knew what he wanted. He paused, took time to think about what he needed to be happy, and then when it came his way he grabbed it. Everything from getting a haircut and buying a coat he admired to getting an apartment and finding a job, he didn’t worry. He just waited until the time was right for him.

I didn’t realize that perhaps the little things I do are also a plan. That staying in to read a book instead of going shopping with friends, writing a book instead of going to a party, taking going-no-where jobs in order to have travel money rather than focusing on a career, waiting for Mr Perfect instead dating a bunch of Mr Right Nows, all of it –big or small– is okay. I can plan as much or as little as I want, because every decision, every choice, is me making a move toward what I want for my life. It doesn’t have to be monumental, making a plan needn’t have be-all-end-all proportions, whatever I do just has to be what I want for me.

Later Eve says: “What if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.”

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Teaser Tuesday (ARR)

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

“It’s not like I fell out of love with you. I’m just not the same person that I was when I fell in love with you.”

“I know people change. I thought we were going to change together. I thought that’s what it meant to be in love.”

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Book Review: Beth and the Bachelor by Susan Mallery

51L4yszr9eL.SX316.SY316Synopsis: Matchmaking friends send Beth Davis on a date with millionaire bachelor Todd Graham. Not exactly Cinderella material, Beth is a widowed, nearly-forty suburban mom. Being auctioned off for charity to someone twice his usual dating range (and closer to his own age), Todd was not happy about his date until he met Beth. He’s fascinated by her and wants to see her again, but Beth doesn’t trust he will eventually promise forever.

Cover: The original cover from the 90s isn’t all that fabulous, but the 2015 edition’s artwork is much improved and more in keeping to Susan Mallery’s other novels. The newer cover has a great sense of space and colour, as well as show an cute couple frolicking in a field… which I don’t actually recall ever happening, but still looks adorable.

Format: The ebook I have has some serious issues– every form of punctuation other than periods are boxes. Quotation marks, apostrophes, dashes, commas… You name it and it’s a square. Needless to say, this made it difficult to get lost in the story.

Plot: I quite enjoyed the general storyline of a recently widowed mother meeting love unexpectedly. I always like a love story where the man is a millionaire and yet down-to-earth and daddy-material. However much I liked the plot and assume Beth does what she does to get the storyline from point A to C, I would have rather some of those middle scenes been written differently so the MC was a little less *readerfacepalm*

Romance: Todd becomes book-boyfriend material. He starts off a little questionable, but soon transforms into a reformed player who owns his own business and is completely ready to commit to a family. He often puts Beth and her kids before everything else, and was very understanding of Beth’s foibles. Had Beth been more consistent of character, I might have considered these two a OTP.

Character Development: Beth annoyed me to no end. She was just so wishy-washy and had a hair-trigger temper, that I couldn’t quite like her. Beth could never make up her mind, and was constantly starting pointless arguments (some entirely avoidable had she only been willing to actually listen). Then when given advice by her best friend –repeatedly—within seconds she would realize she was in the wrong. While some of Beth’s fears were valid, one in particular was ridiculous. Beth’s two boyfriends were fabulous husband-material types, yet she was actually complaining about not having to date a bunch of jerks. Her love interest had the patience of a saint, because I would have long since left that relationship.

Quote: We can love a lot of people at the same time. It doesn’t mean we’re disloyal, it means that we’re living up to our potential as human beings. The capacity to love and feel compassion is one of the things that makes us special.

Verdict: I am sorry to say I was a bit disappointed by this book. I absolutely adore Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series, and was expecting this to be on par with her other works. However, as this book is written about ten years prior I can only assume the author was still learning her craft. If you want to read a book by Susan Mallery, skip this one.

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Review: His Christmas Bride to Be by Abigail Gordon

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Setting: This book takes place in the United Kingdom… something I was not entirely certain of until towards the end as I did not recognize the town’s name and the country was not given. However words like boot for a vehicle’s trunk space and London, plus returning to the UK gave the clues needed to locate where the story was taking place.

Writing Style: I am sorry to say this novel was rather repetitive. Most of the book was spent saying the same few bits over and over again with very little new information to add.

Character Development: There was no emotional connection for me as this story lacked depth. Despite both characters overcoming their issues, I could not bring myself to care about them as it all felt entirely flat.

Romance: This had the potential to be a soulful story, but I found myself wanting the two MCs to get together not from anticipation but so that the book would finally end. I found the relationship to be realistic enough, but weird (illogical maybe?).

Personal Thoughts: I have discovered that about half of the books I read that are written by British authors are purely plot driven rather than character driven. My personal preference is to emotionally connect with the characters rather than just have a bunch of action take place, so I know my thoughts on this story are relative to that.

Verdict: This book was really not worth reading as it lacked emotion, was redundant, and nothing to make you believe in the love the characters supposedly found.

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New Year Resolution

I am a terrible human being.

All right, I’m just a terrible blogger. I used to post practically every day when I first began this blog eight years ago when I was in college, but then life happened. I let everything else going on interfere with something I used to really enjoy doing, thinking it took time I didn’t have… but if you love something you make time.

I could blame my lack of writing on the fact I’ve travelled to seven different countries during the past four years… but my ereader and laptop were usually right there along with me. I could have kept up my blogging if I really wanted to as it wasn’t like I wasn’t reading books after all. I just rather spent time meeting new people, going to new places, and just reading to relax.

I know this isn’t the first time I’ve said I will post more and then didn’t. Aside from the fact I’d rather actually read than merely write about reading, it was kind of like my blog no longer fit who I was or how my life was going. It felt awkward and time consuming trying to be the blogger I used to be. What I have only just realized is that my blog can evolve with me and doesn’t have to be exactly as before. In fact, maybe it’s better if it isn’t the same, as book blogging has come a long way since then.

So here is my plan. I am creating a schedule for all the things I want to do; everything from bookblogging and bookstagramming to dance classes and language lessons to writing and editing to my boring day job. If I have a schedule I can see it will be far easier to stick to my goals rather than winging it every morning and deciding to just stay in bed all day.

The plan for my bookblog is to write weekly posts, but I may start with once a month plus whatever I can. I would like to ease myself back into the way of things rather than expecting so much of myself that I get overwhelmed and give up.

So here’s hoping you’ll see at least twelve book reviews for the year 2018. Wish me luck!

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Book Review: London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

LBtMSynopsis: Alex is an outsider —a geeky fangirl—with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar yet never visited: London. After a devastating betrayal she heads to England for a new start in a place she feels like she’ll belong. Except there is no way to escape the demons of her past, the broken relationships, the panic attacks, and a jealous rival determined to destroy her new life. Alex begins to question everything from her life-long dream to her new friends to whether London is where she truly belongs.

Setting: There is no doubt this novel is set primarily in London. This jolly ol’ city is so big that, despite living there for two years, I did not see some of the things Alex does or explored all the same streets. At times I was able to picture what Alex is seeing perfectly based on the description and because I had been there myself.

Writing Style: It would be hard to set a story in London without Britishisms popping out, but anything a non-Brit may not know is clearly explained so the reader can understand what is being talked about. My only difficulty is when someone would be talking the next paragraph starts with an action beat and that same person would continue talking. This structure is confusing as normally a new paragraph is a new speaker. I had a reread a few conversations to figure out who was saying what.

POV: This novel is written in third person, so we get more than one perspective on what is happening. However, this sometimes happens in the middle of a scene that started with the main character, goes to someone else, and then back again.

Plot: To escape a less than satisfactory life, Alex moves to London in attempt to follow her dreams. If this hadn’t been so similar to my own experience a little over two years ago when I travelled for the first time in my life to England, I’d think it a bit improbable. While there are some “too good to be true moments” –particularly in comparison to my own tri–  it is the ending we all want for Alex.

Character Development: Some other reviews called Alex weak because she has panic attacks from anxiety. I will admit a couple of times I was giving a mental “Really?!”, but I found Alex to be quite realistic. Despite how brave I am alone in my room with a book, had I been in the same situations I would likely react in a similar manner. I don’t have an anxiety disorder nor am I prone to panic attacks, but I saw a lot of myself in Alex and completely identified with her experience… I have endured pretty similar situations as she does during my two years of living in London.

Romance: Let’s just say I would snap Mark up in a second, as I’m a sucker for Irishmen. Add in a bit of Harry, mix well, and you’ve got the perfect man! Both these men are great boyfriends with very different relationships. Alex’s relationship with Mark started slow and kept stalling because of Alex’s insecurity, Mark’s workaholic ways, and both having an inability to step up. However they finally overcome the obstacles to be adorable. All I can say is that I need to get a job in theatre if that’s where guys like these are hanging out!

Quote: “Maybe the best inspirational quote is actually your own.”

Verdict: There are some flaws in the writing, but what debut novel doesn’t have some? Overall this is a great book! Alex is a strong female character despite her imperfections, the boys are delish, and the story is real. I identified strongly with Alex after having travelled myself, but anyone who hasn’t travelled can know what it’s like to move overseas just by reading this novel. I am really looking forward to Jacquelyn’s next book!

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Tea for Two

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If there is one thing that is stereotypically British, it is drinking tea. Perhaps a holdover from the regency era in which ‘taking tea’ was all the rage or perhaps it’s just a local custom, but either way it is true. The British drink tea. All. The. Time.

I had never been fond of tea myself, but everywhere I went I was offered tea. I cannot stand Earl Grey and Red Rose or other frequently proffered flavours, so that is still problematic when on a visit. Yet I can now partake in tea as I quite enjoy chai and mint and other such flavours.

It got to be that every time I travelled to a new town I would find a quant little shop in which to have afternoon tea. I cannot say I cared for my experience in Greenwich, but I  had a lovely time in Bath and Cardiff, very much enjoying my scones with clotted cream and jam. You cannot live in the United Kingdom and never take afternoon tea or you haven’t fully experienced what it is to be British!

IMG_20170715_225531_306When I returned home I could not find clotted cream for the life of me, but that did not mean I couldn’t have a proper tea. As a welcome home and going away party all in one, I threw myself a tea party that was entirely London themed. I invited a few of my girls over and we followed the Ascot dress code with skirts and fascinators.  It was a lovely afternoon!

I guess the weather wanted to make it an even more authentic experience as it eventually started raining! Thankfully our treats were mostly gone and we quickly moved our event indoors to watch British movies. Of course I had taken the possibility of inclement weather into consideration and had readied the living room as a back-up location should the back garden get rained out. Inside, the decor could not be complete without some British-themed books and movies and other tchotchke on display.

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My friend Marie had brought with her a book we both own, and of course we had to do a wee photoshoot  with it to later share with the author of the novel… and that book was none other than Jacuelyn Middleton’s “London Belongs to Me”.

I won’t say too much about it, as my review will be posting tomorrow. It is definitely worth the read and the sequel “London Can You Wait?” will be hitting the shelves next month!

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