A Chick Lit Weekend

June 22, 2015 at 10:48 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sometimes a girl just feels the need to read some check-lit.  I read two novels this week that I think fit the bill – one more Anne Tyler – esque and the other a little more Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

Title: A Scattered Life

A_Scattered_Life_CoverAuthor: Karen McQuestion

Genre: Women’s Fiction

A Scattered Life embraces the art of telling a story from three different women’s viewpoints.  When done well, this is a nice way to allow things to unfold like an onion but still maintain a linear storyline.  McQuestion does it well.  Time your reading to finish the book right before bed so you can sleep after, because you’ll feel like you’ve lived three lives all at once when you turn the last page; it won’t exhaust you, it’s just nice to immediately fall into a slumber after living so much.  McQuestion writes for young adults as well, and I’m looking forward to see what she has to offer when she crosses genres.

Title: Vanity Fare

18880674Author: Megan Caldwell

Genre: ChickLit

Book references, pastries, coffee… umm, yeah that’s right up my alley.  Except there’s definitely a romance novel chronology to the book that distracted me from my book envy, pastry drooling, and coffee binging.  (Ironic, I know, as I am the author of The Bookshop Hotel and the characters totally tried to get romancey on me while I put them to paper.)  All in all, good stuff.  It’s something I will definitely recommend to lit-snobs who need a break from heavy reading and chronic romance readers who are looking for something less pornographic that will gently encourage them to dip into the classics.

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Jane Austen Themes Soothe My Heart

June 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

mr-darcy-broke-my-heartTitle: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

Author: Beth Pattillo

Genre: Fiction/ Chick-Lit

Publisher: Guideposts

Length: 268 pages

This book is adorable.  There’s a lot of reviews on Amazon regarding it that I don’t understand because it seems people went into it expecting far more quality literature references and less cheesy romance – but I specifically picked it up because my brain hurt and I wanted to not think.  If you want to shut yourself off from life for two or three hours, this book is perfect.

Claire is invited to read her sister’s paper at a Austen fan club in Oxford.  Once she gets there, however, she finds herself infatuated with a fellow seminar member like a silly school girl.  Claire embraces a teen girl mentality for a brief few days away from home – appropriate for her character since she never really got to be a silly teen because her parents died in an accident and she had to raise her kid sister.

If you were a silly teen once, however, the idea that a grown woman would be so ridiculous is a little irritating.  Of course, there’s plenty of Jane Austen interludes to distract you from that irritation, and Pattillo’s version of what First Impressions might have been is fun.

This is not the best Jane Austen spin off or tie in. Follies Past by far takes the cake on the genre.  But it’s good fun, light-hearted, and makes for a great right before bed or bubble bath read.


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In Response to Book Riot – A Bella Swan Post

February 21, 2014 at 8:04 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

Kristen Stewart, actress, as Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga movies

Kristen Stewart, actress, as Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga movies

Many moons ago, I posted this.

Today, I read this.

Of course, I have something to say about it all… of course.

So here it goes:

Of course we envy Bella’s apathy.  Of course we wish we could float through life allowing everyone else to make decisions for us.  Of course.  Why? Because it’s simple.  It’s easy.  You are not responsible for your actions if you’re merely a reactor, if you function by being completely nonfunctional – always being taken care of.

Ruminate on that thought.  Embrace it.  Now revisit Bella’s story…

What if Edward had become an abusive drunk? What if her friends were not so nice or trustworthy?  What if all these fabulous adventures she just allowed to happen to her throughout the series, what if all this apathy, had come back to bite her in the butt?  Being a helpless twat doesn’t sound so awesome anymore, does it?

Ultimately, we like Bella Swan because everything worked out for her.  Her personality and choices are acceptable because there is a happy ending.  Put the same traits on someone with a not-so-happy ending and we’d blame them, shake our finger at her blatant disregard for taking care of herself and heeding wise council.

I appreciate this Book Rioter’s post about changing thoughts and opinions on a character.  I appreciate that she identifies with Bella Swan, that she envies her in some ways.  That’s her right and the beauty of books – everyone gets a little something – take what you like and leave the rest.

brokenBut me as a teenager, I think, would have found Bella just as repulsive a character as I found when I read it as a married adult.  Mainly because she was disobedient, a poor student, and was relying on the love of her life to scoop her up.  All things that a teenager probably *wants* to do, but as a teenager (more so than as an adult), I did not allow this line of thinking in myself because I saw time and time again in others how self-destructive it could be  when life spun out into the wrong direction.

I was blessed enough to actually marry the boy I loved in high school – a lot of people I knew did – but I wasn’t counting on this.  There is nothing wrong with being in love.  There is no shame in the desire of your heart to ultimately be a wife and mother.  I don’t knock that one bit.  But please, please, prepare for another scenario.

Be the best student you can be.  Train for something – learn a trade.  Be capable of paying your own bills and keeping a roof over your own head.  That is something that I didn’t get from Bella Swan, not in the slightest, not one bit.  Bella Swan expected her fantastical boy to sweep her off her feet and had no secondary plans.  This, ladies and gents, disturbs me, no matter how much I, too, may envy her apathy at times.

You don’t have to be a control freak to take control of your life and your future; and you don’t have to be apathetic to fall into the desires of your heart.


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Things I Learned in a Weekend…

February 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

… But will take longer to undo.

CommittedThis is a Part Two post to my review of Committed as well as a response to Codependent No More.

Saying “I am not in control of that” is not the same as being helpless.

Counting is not productive.

Trying harder sometimes doesn’t offer results, but rather drives you a little nuts.


codependent_no_moreI am allowed to have contradicting feelings as long as I am honest about both and do not bury the less favorable/ moral one.  A feeling is not a decision.  But bottling feelings and under-reacting to things that hurt your feelings can turn into a very foolish and very public behavioral issue similar to a train wreck or a volcano that kills an entire village.

“What am I to conclude when my grandmother says that the happiest decision of her life was giving up everything for her husband and children but then says – in the very next breath – that she doesn’t want me making the same choice? I’m not really sure how to reconcile this, except to believe that somehow both these statements are true and authentic, even as they seem to utterly contradict on another. I believe that a woman who has lived as long as my grandmother should be allowed some contradictions and mysteries. Like most of us, this woman contains multitudes. Besides, when it comes to the subject of women and marriage, easy conclusions are difficult to come by, and enigmas litter the road in every direction.” – from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed.

I can’t control other peoples’ thoughts and feelings.  Nor, if I’m to be honest do I want to.  What I decide for them takes away from me making healthy decisions for myself.

Other people making a decision I do not like is not a slight on me as a human.  I am still in tact.  I can say my piece in peace without expecting them to bend to my will.  In fact, I want to enjoy the freedom of talking out my feelings knowing that it does not change the outcome of life.  My words won’t make or break the world and the people in it.  I am not that powerful.  I don’t want to be that powerful.  I want other people to feel comfortable making their decisions based on what they need.  Would I like for them to consider my feelings when they choose to follow that decision? Yes.  Do I want my feelings to be the basis of their decision? No.  God, no.

What I want and what I need are allowed to be out of sync sometimes, as long as I take time to process my wants and needs in a calm manner without panic – without drama – and without superfluous descriptions.  As a writer I am apt to take a small situation and find the epic, extraordinary, or devastation in it.  As a survivor I take big things that may actually be epic, extraordinary, or devastating, and belittle them – act as though they are nothing.  (Someone dies, I roll with the punches.  Someone says something irritating, I come out swinging.  It doesn’t make sense.  It has been a long running joke among many of my friends that I’m the girl you need at a funeral.  I’m the girl you need in a physical crisis, on the battlefield even.  Put me in a room of people having a good time, and suddenly I’m twitchy.)

These are things I used to know, and for various reasons, I have lost sight of.  These are things that I need to remind myself daily, if not hourly.

So my newest truth above all – there is no shame in reading self-help books and memoirs by people who have a very different world view from yourself.  There is no shame in believing that, “this woman should not be condemned or judged for wanting what she wants.”  In fact that’s a very beautiful belief.

Finding balance is the hard part.  When does what you want step on what someone else wants and needs?  When does what you want need to be suppressed and when does it warrant being spoken?  My understanding of this balance is erratic at best.

Making a very open attempt to find this balance has been interesting too (I say this as though I’m well seasoned at the effort that I’ve been making for a whole of four days).  I am diving into all this for myself.  Go back a few blog posts and you may notice my sanity attempting to escape me.  Yet, it hasn’t just begun to calm me, it’s helped me stop and smell the roses.

Roses that, though not real physical red petals and thorny stems, are more present than I supposed.

Roses like: I actually get more done when I am busy acting instead of busy reacting.  Roses like: when I attempt to be as direct as I once was my husband attempts to woo me like he once did.  This is nice.  I’ll take that rose.  Yet, I am not being direct so that he will woo me, I am being direct because I need to be, the wooing is just a happy accident.  And, for once, wanting to be wooed doesn’t sound like an act of selfishness – it sounds like an act of being feminine.  Yes, I’ll admit that typing those words were difficult, that in that admission I nearly panicked.

I don’t have all the answers.  In fact, I have pretty much no answers.  The only answer that I do have is that I hope to be less self-destructive this year than last year.  I hope to be more open, but less vulnerable.

This year, I plan to internalize something that’s been hanging in my own Grandmother’s kitchen my whole life…

God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.

Be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet.  And, I’m not done reading this book!

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