“The Jane Austen Book Club” Romance Book Review

Five women and one man create a Jane Austen book club where they pour over her works. During the six months it takes to read all of Austen’s books, each of the club members faces challenges and excitement in their day-to-day lives. Marriages are put to the test, love affairs take flight, and love happens. In this book, Karen Joy Fowler takes her readers into the world of these six people and shows the ups and downs of modern relationships.

Okay. Here’s my honest opinion: I couldn’t stand this book. giphy

The book was written like an old maid was at the typewriter with some dusty parchment and typing with one finger at a time. It was as if Fowler was trying to imitate Jane Austen’s timeless narration style and completely failed in her attempt to do so.

I get it: the women of the book club are in their 30’s to 60’s and that type of writing voice is what Fowler was trying for. Someone seasoned and wise…But, quite frankly, the tone just annoyed me until no end. It was condescending, old, and outdated. Like moldy, yellowed lace from a wooden trunk in a dusty attic. Ick.

And what was with her using the words “we” and “us” all the time? None of the six people were our narrators. None of them. Instead of reading a hard copy, I listened to the audio version of the book, so when Fowler used “we” and “us,” I had to look up who, exactly, was narrating the story. Turns out, it was just her narrator’s voice.

It made me feel like one of those men in that old children’s book, “Six Foolish Fishermen.”

Essentially, the six fishermen count everyone at the end of the day to make sure everyone is safe. Well, each time they count and re-count, they forget to count themselves, so they assume there are only five people there instead of six, and therefore: someone must have drowned.

That feeling of annoyance and foolishness at the fact that they forget to count themselves is exactly how I felt every time Fowler used the words “us” or “we.” As I read, I kept thinking to myself, “Who is ‘us’ or ‘we?'” and “Am I forgetting someone in the book club?”

In addition to this poor choice of writing style, the story itself was severely lacking. Since there were six people to follow, I found it difficult to invest in any of the characters. None of them were developed properly and each was more and more dislikable as the story went on.

The question I now ask myself is this: how was this a New York Times bestseller?

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“The Glittering Court” Young Adult Book Review

A countess of Osfrid is torn between duty and destiny when she is presented with an opportunity to escape for the wild and untamed land called Adoria. Stealing the identity of one of her servants in order to flee from an arranged marriage, Adelaide joins the Glittering Court.

The Glittering Court is where young women of impoverished backgrounds come to transform into ladies who are eager for wealthy marriages in Adoria. Adelaide, having grown up as a countess, struggles to hide her identity from her new friends, Tamsin and Mira.

The only one who knows her true identity is Cedric Thorn, son of the owner of the Glittering Court. Things get complicated when both Cedric and Adelaide acknowledge thepexels-photo-235909 forbidden love growing between them, and a powerful governor wants Adelaide for his own. In this young adult tale of love and identity, Adelaide and Cedric fight against all odds to be together.

“The Glittering Court” is a fantastic start to a trilogy about all three of the girls we come to know and love: Adelaide, Tamsin, and Mira. The first book, “The Glittering Court” focuses entirely on Adelaide’s journey as she leaves the familiarity and comforts of high society to pretending she is an impoverished girl and working hard to get by in a world that thinks nothing of her.

The book is by Richelle Mead, author of “The Vampire Academy,” and her writing skills show in this fantasy book. She takes the reader to a new world where women are considered inferior to men and do not have a say in their own destiny. Mead creates a sense of desperation and need to escape in not only her main character, Adelaide, but the reader as well.

heart-2945406_960_720Imagine being one of the descendants of a man who helped found Osfrid, getting a strong title from being a descendant of that man, but then being unable to act alone with that title. That title brings in suitors with wealth and ability to make change in Osfrid and in Adoria. That title also brings powerlessness to Adelaide. With everyone watching her every move, Adelaide is unable to become an independent woman with her own thoughts and opinions. This is the power struggle that Adelaide faces on a regular basis. It is a juxtaposition to have such power while being completely powerless to change her own destiny until the opportunity of “The Glittering Court” presents itself.

Toward the end of the book, the writing purposefully becomes vague when referencing Tamsin and Mira’s fates. The ending relies wholly upon the reader turning to the second and third books in this trilogy to find out more specifics about characters being introduced last second in “The Glittering Court.” For this reason, the argument can be made that this book is an excellent start to the trilogy, but it is not a well-written stand alone book.

That being said, if you’re into young adult fiction series, I strongly recommend picking up a copy for yourself. The writing talent that Richelle Mead shows in the first of the trilogy is exemplary and gripping.

I fully intend to read the other two books. Keep a look out for my reviews for those books as well!

 

 

 

An Apartment of One’s Own

My mom is a pretty smart lady. Throughout my life, she has offered guidance, support, and wisdom. One of the best pieces of advice she has ever given me was to make sure that I got a place of my own before settling down.

As Ben and I get closer and closer to the day when we actually move in together (and I get more and more excited), I can’t help but feel glad that I decided to live alone this past year. Most of my adult life had been spent splitting rent with roommates up until I got my current apartment, because it’s way cheaper to split rent with someone than to live by yourself.

Taking my mom’s advice, I decided to get a place of my own this past year. And it certainly has had its benefits! Check out the list below:

  1. You have a place to yourself. All of that space is all yours. You get to do with it what you will and can decorate it however you choose! No one will tell you where to put that odd piece of art you love.
  2. No more dirty dishes that aren’t yours. I’ve lived with messy roommates and I’ve lived with neat freaks. Both are not fun to live with. But there is something majorly irritating when you look in the sink to find a mountain high pile of dishes (that are not yours) waiting for you after work.giphy.gif
  3. You are responsible for the well-being of your home. No longer can you blame your roommate for the utter chaos of your home. If you’ve got dirty laundry lying on your living room floor, that’s your dirty laundry. If the trash hasn’t been taken out in weeks, that’s your trash to take care of. Living by yourself makes you take responsibility for your own actions.
  4. No worries about who did or did not pay their rent. I have lived in a 3 bedroom apartment with 5 other roommates before. Whenever we got a notice of “past due payment” from our landlord, it was crazy trying to figure out who did or did not pay their portion of the rent. Save yourself the stress of that situation and live by yourself as soon as possible.
  5. Peace and quiet. When I get home there are no roommates waiting to talk to me about their day or ask me for advice. There is just complete and total silence, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.

What are your thoughts on living alone?

27 Things I’ve Learned in 27 Years

This weekend something special happened… I turned 27!

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And to celebrate that, I decided to come up with a list of 27 things I have learned over the past 27 years of my existence.

  1. Life is hard. I learned this lesson earlier in life than I would have liked, but my teenage years were certainly an eye-opener to how difficult life can be. I like to think that life’s hardships have made me a stronger person.
  2. A positive attitude changes everything. Because life is so hard, it’s important to face your challenges head on with a smile on your face. We only get one life. Let’s live it up!
  3. If you want something, go get it. You’re not going to be handed your dreams on a silver platter. You need to be willing to crawl through the mud and go get it yourself.
  4. Live below your means. When I first got out of college and lived by myself for the first time, I got a trash dump of a place for just $550 per month. At that time, I could have afforded a more expensive place for myself, but I chose to live below my means so I could work hard on paying off my student loans.
  5. Friends will come and go. Life happens and people grow apart. We change, we develop, we grow. If a friendship ends up fading away because of that, then that’s okay.
  6. Be with someone who is willing to protect you, provide for you, and profess his love for you. These things may be simple, but they are important and should not be overlooked when looking for a partner.
  7. If you are the smartest person in the room, get out. There is always someone smarter. Go find those smarter people and make conversation.
  8. Your opinion is not the only one that matters. Listen to other people’s opinions and take them into consideration.
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  9. Buy timeless pieces of clothing. Have a few little black dresses, some pencil skirts, dress pants, and solid color tops to ensure that you look styled but not tacky. Don’t go with the immediate trends when it comes to fashion.
  10. Make family a priority. I try to call my mom, dad, and brother regularly. Usually I call them during my lunch break at work and chat with them for about 20 minutes. It’s super important to make sure your family is a priority. They’ll be there for you when things get rough!
  11. Get a hobby. Whatever that hobby may be for you, just make sure you have something you’re doing outside of your day job.
  12. Be kind to yourself. If you were as harsh to your friends as you are harsh to yourself, would that be acceptable? Treat yourself with love and compassion.
  13. You can walk away. Bullies and abusers are not just in grade school. They will appear in all walks of life. But remember no matter what, you don’t have to sit there and take it. You can simply walk away from the harmful situation.
  14. Respect yourself. Never lower your standards for someone else.
  15. Forgive but never forget. 
  16. Don’t be afraid of change. Picking your life up, moving to a new city, and making new friends can be scary. But I promise you, change is good! Change happens, so embrace it.
  17. Not everyone is going to like you. To this day, I have trouble accepting this. I try really hard to be a pleasant person to everyone, but at the end of the day there will be some people that just don’t like you. Try to brush it off as best you can.
  18. Learn to love yourself. Accept your flaws and move forward with your life. If you’re unhappy with who you are as a person, then change. At the end of the day, you need to love the person looking back at you in your mirror.
  19. Make your health a priority. If you love yourself, then make sure to take good care giphy-downsized.gifof yourself. Workout, eat right, and be healthy!
  20. Take care of your skin. Wash your face, put sunscreen/moisturizer on, and stay in the shade!
  21. Do not procrastinate. Seriously.
  22. Volunteer. Try to get outside of yourself and do something for others. I volunteer for Girls on the Run of the Triangle and help out with their marketing efforts. If you’re not sure what to do to volunteer, check this out.
  23. Do not act in anger. If you have an argument with someone, it’s totally okay to say, “Look. I’m really upset right now and I just need an hour to process. Give me an hour and then we can talk.” Then go for a quick walk, meditate, or just do something that will calm your mind. Never say something you will regret or do anything in anger.
  24. Listen to podcasts to and from work. I like to listen to The Dave Ramsey Show and Amy Porterfield.
  25. Read the news. I look at different sources to try and get as much information as possible. When I don’t have time, I have The Skimm come straight to my inbox.
  26. Make a monthly budget and stick to it! You’ll save so much money.
  27. Learn how to take a compliment. Smile, say thank you, and let the compliment happen.

What are some things you have learned over the years?

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

All week I’ve had the song “Getting to Know You” stuck in my head from “The King and I.” In honor of that wonderful song, I decided to whip up a list of ten things you might not know about me.

  1. I used to hate to run, but now I love it.
  2. When I go on runs, I mainly listen to movie soundtracks. They make me feel like an epic superhero and keep me charged through the end of the workout.
  3. I get way too attached to fictional characters in books, movies and TV shows.
  4. I am easily startled so please don’t sneak up on me!
  5. I love doing things by myself. I enjoy hanging out with other people, but there’s something nice about taking yourself to a restaurant or just spending the evening alone. Solitude is wonderful.
  6. I used to work for a pet store in college. Never again! I love animals, but having dogs bark in my ears all day long is not my dream job.
  7. Every morning, I try to wake up with a heart full of gratitude. I do this by listing at least 3 things I’m thankful for.
  8. I want to be a young adult and romance writer. I take a little time every day to work toward this goal.
  9. I used to weigh about 200 pounds in college. I’ve lost around 40 pounds and am still working toward my goal weight.
  10. I take great pride in my home and my domestic skills. I love knitting, cooking, and baking in particular. Sewing is something I’ve always had a fondness for, so my parents got me a sewing machine for Christmas. I’m super excited to try it out!

What are some things other people might not know about you? Leave a comment below!

How I Relax After a Long Day

It’s Monday today and Mondays always hit me pretty hard. I get up at the crack of dawn, squeeze in some morning Pilates before quickly getting ready and making my way to work.

The first thing I do after work is run. I blast some epic movie tunes (Two Steps from Hell is what gets me moving), and hit the outdoors. Now that the sun sets around 5:30 pm, I only have time for about 2-3 miles. In the spring and summer, I usually get about 5-6 miles in after work.pexels-photo-247477.jpg

If it’s raining or the weather is just not good, I take myself to the YMCA and lift some weights after doing the elliptical for 20 minutes. Regardless, it’s important that I get a workout right after work to release some of that work stress and tension.

After working up a decent sweat, I go home to take a shower with the lights off. There’s something about being in a steaming hot shower with the lights dim that is just super relaxing to me.

Once I’m all dried off, I lather on some lotion and put on some comfy pajamas. Being in work clothes all day can tense the body up. Wearing familiar and comfortable clothing will help it relax.

When I’m winding down for bed, I always like to read a chapter or two of a book and listen to soothing music. Keep in mind, when I read right before I go to bed, it’s usually pexels-photo-92323.jpga self help book that can help sooth me, not a mystery/action/suspense filled novel where every chapter ends in a surprise. Books like that keep me on my toes and are usually best for reading earlier in the evening.

Lastly, I meditate right before I fall asleep. During meditation, I like to reflect and take deep breaths as I set my intentions for the next day. I don’t like to think about anything heavy or dark. I just like to keep it positive and light during my evening meditation.

How do you relax after a long day?

How I Became a Runner

I hate running. I’ve always hated running. And I have always known that I will forever hate running. Until the day I started to love running.

Growing up, running had always been a horrible, terrible thing the gym teachers made us do every day. The grouchy old men and women would shout at us, “Don’t cut corners!” and “Run faster!” Then they’d finish it off with some push ups and sit ups on the concrete (have you done that before? It’s the worst). Thus, running became more of a punishmenthealthy-person-woman-sport.jpg and a way for me to feel like I wasn’t good at anything.

What’s even worse is that the winning kids of those mile runs liked to do “victory laps” where they would pass by the last place losers (AKA myself and a few other kids) all while looking smug about the whole thing. And after the last kid finally finished running, we all had to go to our next class sweaty, disgusting and exhausted.

It was awful.

With each passing year, and each teacher yelling the same things over and over again (“Is that all you got?” “Stop going so slow – kick it into high gear!”), I felt more and more hatred toward this stupid sport. All I wanted to do was be left alone, but adults kept yelling at me (and the other poor souls who were never good at running either) that I wasn’t doing good enough with smug peers looking at me like I was inferior.

Okay, yeah. An eleven minute mile is nothing to brag about, but that was my eleven minute mile.

For years this pent up rage toward running built up inside of me, until whenever I thought about jogging, a feel of loathing would bubble up and I’d walk away from the whole thing.

But then I stopped for moment and though to myself, “If I hate it this much, maybe I should actually try to do it.”

I was out of school. No one was yelling at me to run faster. I could just…run. In peace. By myself.

So I did.

And every day I hated it at first. It was so boring! Who actually liked to run?

Until I started to hate it a little less. I discovered that running was easier outdoors than on a treadmill..

And then I started to be okay with it. I went outside and ran gorgeous trails in the forest by myself. No one was telling me what to do or how to run. I just ran

And then I started to like it.

And then, this Christmas, when I received tons of winter running gear from my family, I knew that I loved it.

What’s your exercise of choice?

New Year Resolutions

It’s that time of year again! Everyone’s gearing up for the new year and getting ready to tackle their goals.

For 2018, theses are mine:

  1. Run one race per month – I’m a strong believer in giving back and running races is a perfect way to do just that while staying fit! I started doing this back in August of 2017 and only skipped December since I didn’t have the proper winter running gear. Now that my family has beefed up my winter running wardrobe with some awesome Christmas gifts, I’m back in action and ready to do some good for the community by running.
  2. Run a 10K – I’ve already done a 5K before, and I want to push myself even further this year! I’m signing up for the Florence Forth 10K happening March 3rd, 2018.running-573762_1280
  3. Run a Half Marathon – Once I finish my 10K in March, I’ll be looking for something new to sink my teeth into. Running a half marathon sounds pretty good to me! So I’ll be looking to accomplish that 3 months after I finish the Florence Forth 10K. There’s a half marathon happening in June that I’m really looking forward to. Sign me up!
  4. Blog twice a week – I’ve been slacking on this goal. Sometimes life gets in the way and writing takes a back seat, but this year I’d like to make my blog a priority. So every day during my lunch break at work, I’ll be breaking out my laptop and working on my blog posts.
  5. Write a novel – I really want to finish my first book by the end of 2018. My dream is to become a writer, so it’s time to make that dream a reality. I’m going to dedicate at least one hour per evening to my writing my very first novel.

What are your goals for 2018? How do you plan on getting there? Let me know in the comment section below.

DIY: Spray Paint Striped Canvas Art

So I’ve been getting super excited about moving in with Ben and, after talking it through, we’ve decided that our theme colors for our new place will be blush, navy, and gold.IMG_0684

Since I don’t have much artwork up on my walls, I figured I’d start decorating my place with these theme colors in mind so we can start deciding what we like and don’t like.

I knew exactly where I wanted to start for decorations: spray paint striped canvas art. I’ve seen other people do it, and I wanted to try my hand at it.

I drove to the store and picked up some navy and gold spray paint and got to work. After picking out a nice large canvas from the thrift store for only four bucks, I wiped it down and sprayed over it with gold paint.

I waited a few hours for the paint to dry before placing painter’s tape down over it. I IMG_0716.jpgmeasured out the space between the tape to make it as straight and neat as possible.

Then, I sprayed over it with the navy spray paint I had gotten. Note: the spray paint will get everywhere if you’re not careful. IfIMG_0717.jpg you’re doing this outside, be aware of the wind so it does not get all over you.

After I had sprayed it with the navy spray paint, it needed to dry for a few more hours. I strongly recommend watching Netflix or doing some errands during this part because you will be tempted to rip the tape right off just to see how it turned out.

Finally, after waiting for a while, the paint was dry and I was able to peel back the tape to reveal…

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This beautiful finished painting! I was very enthusiastic when I showed Ben (I asked him, “Do you like it?” at least 5 times in an hour), and he was very happy with the finished product.

Let me know if you try this project!

 

Moving in Together

It’s happening: Ben and I are moving in together! After being together for a little over two years, we’ve decided that when he graduates from Kenan-Flagler Business School (May 2018), we’re going to take the leap and move in together.pexels-photo-269155.jpeg

This was not a lightly made decision. Ben knew for a while that he was going to ask me to officially move in with him, and I made it perfectly clear that it’s something I wanted. It’s something we have been discussing for a while now, especially as we move onto the next chapter in our lives.

Since we’ve decided to move in together, I’ve been spamming my Pinterest boards with DIY ideas, incorporating both his style and mine, and taking a look at apartments. I’ve also been looking for advice to make the transition from living a single life to living together smooth.

Here are a few tidbits of advice that have stuck with me:

  1. Live by Yourself
    This piece of advice was given to me by my mom. In order to have some sense of independence before taking a huge leap of living with your significant other, it’s really important to live by yourself for a period of time. Which is why, as soon as I could afford it, I decided to get an apartment for myself.
  2. Decide Why You’re Moving in With Each Other
    Yes. You are going to save money. Yes. It will be convenient no longer having to drive to each other’s places. No, these are not the reasons you should move in together.
  3. Discuss Finances
    Who’s paying for what? Are you joining your finances or keeping them separate? Do either of you have debt? These are important questions to answer before you move in together.
  4. Know Where You Stand in Your Relationship
    If you’re looking to move in just to settle for less than marriage (when that’s something you want), then you’re moving in for the wrong reason. It’s important that the two of you are clear on where you are in your relationship, your views on marriage, and have a timeline for when you want those things to happen.
  5. Respect One Another’s Space
    Normal people need time alone. It’s important to think about how you’re going to respect each others’ space when you move in together. Ben and I are looking for spacious apartments that will have 2 bedrooms so we can get our much needed alone time.

What advice do you have for couples moving in together?