Book Review: London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

Synopsis: 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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Teaser Tuesday (LBTM)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Should Be Reading. Share the title and author, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences (or more).

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!!!

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

“What you leave behind says as much about you as what you bring along.” 

“Welcome to London, kid. Any excuse to end up in a pub.”

“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.” 

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In My Mailbox (LBTM)

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One of my good friends is constantly gushing about one particular book. She uses the novel in a lot of her bookstagram photos, and mentions it all the time on her blog. Soon I began seeing the cover all over instagram when other bloggers finished reading the book themselves. Apparently there was something amazing about this debut novel and, needless to say I was curious… Particularly as the book is written by a Canadian and set in London, England where I was living at the time.

Shortly after I returned home from having lived overseas for two years, my friend told me about a giveaway the author was doing and that I should enter. As by this time I was obsessed about getting my hands on this book but not yet able to afford actually buying it (London is expensive, y’all!) of course I entered. I don’t know how it was possible but, luck would have it, I won!

Truth be told, I have actually had this book for a while now. I read it and typed up the review, but somehow did not post anything. I was rather busy with moving home, job hunting, and then getting ready to move again to a new country, so I somehow failed in this regard. However, this week is entirely devoted to the novel with teasers, a review, and a special event I hosted over the summer related to this novel.

What is the book you may ask?

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None other than “London Belongs to Me” by Jacquelyn Middleton. If you want to know more about it, be sure to check back on my blog later this week.  Her sequel novel “London Can You Wait?” is coming out next month, so you better get reading!

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Book Review: Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Synopsis: Katie’s father is a Republican, Drew’s mother is a Democrat, and both are running for President. Their sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t get a long, but when the teenagers are thrown together on a talk show sparks fly of a different kind. With the entire nation watching and taking sides in their parents’ fight, the two teens wonder how anyone can fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate…

Continue reading “Book Review: Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted”

Teaser Tuesday (RGBB)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Should Be Reading. Share the title and author, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences (or more).

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!!!

Red Girl Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I’ve seen other kids go through it all at school. So often, it’s the same thing. Person X likes Person Y. and what do you know, it turns out that Person Y likes Person X back. It’s a cery nice thing. It’s the way life should be. But then once all the other letters of the alphabet find out about it, they stick their noses into things… Whatever the case, whatever the reasons, relationships that might otherwise have lasted wind up foundering when all the other letters of the alphabet get involved.

“You know what they say the sign of an intelligent person is? It’s the ability to hold two seemingly conflicting thoughts in your mind at once.”

Book Review: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

How_to_Say_I_Love_You_Out_Loud_for_sitejpgSynopsis: When Jordyn’s brother joins her at her school she’s determined not to let anyone know they’re related. He is different, autistic, and Jordyn craves a bit of normal in her life. But by trying to keep her secret, Jordyn ends up pushing away her closest friends and her crush… and no matter how hard she tries, Jordyn can’t forget the kiss they shared over the summer.

Continue reading “Book Review: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo”