The Cafe by the Sea – Jenny Colgan – REVIEW


Lately I’ve been having such a hard time finding my reading “groove”. I read a variety of different genres and sometimes, deciding what I’m in the mood for is easier said than done. I’ve started quite a few books over the past couple of weeks, only to abandon them because they just didn’t feel right. I’ve picked up countless library holds, and then brought them back not fully read. I definitely have favorite genres though, and there’s a certain style of fiction that I find absolutely comforting, which generally speaking, seems to always get me out of a reading rut!

I’m talking the light hearted, vaguely romantic, “chick-lit” type of fiction. Ideally set somewhere in the UK because I’m an unashamed Anglophile who has a serious longing for a place she’s never even been (don’t we all?). I read a lot of different genres and there was admittedly a point in time where I felt ashamed to admit that I enjoyed anything that would classify as chick-lit but really, I think it’s stupid that we should feel any ounce of shame for what we enjoy reading! I’ve come to embrace what I like and I feel much better for it. 🙂 When I find that nothing I try to read is really working for me, a little escapism from reality through chick-lit seems to always do the trick. Thankfully, I picked up The Cafe by the Sea, by Jenny Colgan from the library on Thursday because it has totally turned my reading mood around.

I’ve read one other Jenny Colgan book before (The Book Shop on the Corner), and now I have to say, that I want to read them all! Her writing is so enjoyable and it was so easy to devour this book, just like the last one. I actually had to force myself to go to bed the first night because I wanted to stay up all night reading. Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that kind of pull with a book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up — and she hasn’t looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious… and hopeleslly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she’s suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers — all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework — and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking — and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.

But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes — and work out exactly where her future lies…

There may be spoilers beyond this point!

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Elementary My Dear Watson: Lucy Liu, Gender Roles, and Power Suits.

I really don’t know shit about fashion. I won’t pretend that I do. I basically live in lounge wear, and though I wish I could step out of my (literal) comfort zone, I feel intimated and overwhelmed whenever I consider trying (but nonetheless, I am trying. I bought a necklace at the thrift store the other day, which, if you knew me at all, you’d know what a big deal that was!), but that doesn’t stop me from scanning through Instagram appreciating other people’s fashion sense. The same goes for Television.

We know I watch a lot of TV, and expert or not, there’s plenty to both love and loathe when it comes to television wardrobes. I (mostly) enjoyed watching Sex and the City, but oh goodness, I feel like I was the only one to hate Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits!! Who walks around in a tutu?! On my past blog, I wrote an ode to the fashion of Frasier character Daphne Moon, and recently on this blog, I wrote about Roz Doyle. All of these characters, presented a more or less typical femininity when it comes to what we expect from television. Different styles, yes, but these characters all portray strong females.

Wardrobes are a very mindful choice. They’re put together to give a certain vibe for a character, or to reflect different emotions. Sometimes wardrobe is used to reflect or foreshadow (for example, how Meredith Grey wears Derek’s ferry boat scrub cap following his death). The idea that we shouldn’t judge others on their appearance goes totally out the window when it comes to TV because we not only can’t help it, but we have to. Television has to portray to us an entire world, and unlike a book, there aren’t unlimited pages for character development and background stories. How a character dresses can help to tell us more about them.

I’ve always adored Lucy Liu’s wardrobe as Joan Watson on Elementary. From the very beginning it has been perfection. She pretty much lives in clothing that goes beyond my comfort zone, but which is still absolutely my style if I didn’t have said comfort zone. Even when an ensemble might have been a bit out there, it worked. Watson is strong and confident enough that she could likely make anything work. As the show has progressed, we have seen an evolution in her clothing choices. As Joan has gone from sober companion, to Sherlock’s partner and fellow consulting detective, she has largely dropped the more flowy, distinctly feminine outfits in favor of suits that many might consider more masculine. Yet, that’s just the thing: I’d argue that in the suits Watson has been opting for in past seasons, as well as this current one, she’s even more feminine, because through wardrobe choices, she is challenging the idea of what is femininity. 

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Dealing With Chronic Migraines: What Helps

I have struggled with headaches and migraines for years now. Really, when I try to think back, it’s hard to recall a time when I didn’t experience them. I remember enduring headaches when I was young, many of which might have been migraines, but I simply didn’t know how to identify them. I’ve never had a doctor officially diagnose me as someone who suffers from migraines. I once had a doctor offer me medications that I knew wouldn’t work for me personally, but beyond that I’ve had many doctors discount my experiences and the pain of living with chronic migraines. “It’s because you’re a woman.” … “You need to lay off the caffeine.” … “Try getting more sleep.” …  “Oh you’d know if it was a migraine!”  – These were some of the responses I’ve gotten from doctors over the years. But that was generally where the conversation ended.

Migraines run in my family. I really don’t need a doctor to tell me whether or not I’m actually suffering from them because at this point, I know. Rather, I needed a doctor who would listen to me and help me find ways to manage them. That hasn’t happened, and between that and other issues I’ve dealt with in recent years, I’m currently without a doctor. Finding a doctor that not only, is accepting new patients and my insurance is one thing. Finding a doctor who will listen to me is a whole different story. So in all honesty, I’ve taken a break from that search because it was really starting to drain me after a few bad experiences. It’s actually an issue I’d like to explore more, because I KNOW that I’m not alone, but more on that in the future.

Now that I’ve given a bit of context, let me get into the whole point of writing this post. I’ve been meaning to do so for awhile, but ironically, as I sit here on day three of a migraine, I decided to just sit down and do it. Over the years, I’ve found myself suffering with more frequent migraines than in the past. Over the course of dealing with them, I have tried so many different things to try and combat them. Many, many, things that did not help, but there were some things that did, and I’ve wanted to share them with you. Of course, migraines are a tricky jerk. What might help one person, might do nothing for someone else. Also, it’s important to remember that I’m not a doctor or a medical expert, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Now, the key thing I want to mention before I share these things is that while these are all in my tool box for enduring a migraine, none of these (with a few small exceptions) are really geared toward stopping them fully. I wish I could give you that solution – I really do.

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84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff – REVIEW


As a lover of books and an anglophile, I was immediately drawn to this book when I first came across it while browsing Book Depository. I ordered it, waited weeks for it to arrive, and then shelved it where it sat forgotten for about a year. The other day I was rummaging through my shelves trying to find something I “put in a safe place”, and met 84 Charing Cross Road again. It’s a teeny little thing so it’s no wonder that it go lost on a bottom shelf. Whoops.

The edition I have is actually two books in one. It includes 84 Charing Cross Road and the sequel The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. The first is a collection of letters between the author, Helene Hanff of New York City, and a small bookstore in London called Marks & Co. Her correspondence begins when she is in search of a specific book and grows from there. The sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is in diary format and chronicles Helene’s experience when she finally makes it to London to visit. I honestly didn’t realize that I was getting two books in one when I purchased, I just liked this cover best (one of my favorite parts about ordering from Book Depository is all the lovely covers we don’t get here in The States)!

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The Cantina Chronicles: Star Chart

With Friday being International Beer Day, it seemed fitting to sit down and enjoy a cold beer!! Especially after a long hard day spent working outside in our garden that included moving a giant Viburnum to a new spot and doing some much-needed weeding, a cold beer is honestly the perfect reward! For this International Beer Day, I opted for War Horse Brewing Company’s Star Chart to pair with my fish and chips dinner. This brew comes from War Horse Brewing Company located in the Finger Lakes region in Geneva, NY. A surprising product to hail from a region known primarily for its wines.

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Hope Never Dies – Andrew Shaffer – REVIEW

Politics right now in this country are complicated and draining. We don’t dive into it much, but it doesn’t mean we’re not distressed. So when I heard about this book, I felt like it was just what the doctor ordered!


Hope Never Dies, written by New York Times best-selling author Andrew Shaffer was released in early July. As soon as I heard about it on Twitter, I quickly reserved it from our local library (Seriously go support your local libraries, folks!!) Shaffer has also authored parody works including Catsby: A Parody (a feline riff on the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby), Fifty Shames of Earl Grey (a parody on Fifty Shades of Grey) in addition to other humor works such as the yuletide-themed It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like F*ck This and the amusingly-titled How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attack.

Published by Quirk Books, Hope Never Dies is about 300 pages worth of mystery intrigue in what seems to be the first in a possible series of Obama/Biden fiction. Classified as a Mystery/Thriller fiction, this book isn’t just your run of the mill Sherlock Holmes-inspired mystery! The premise really says it all:

Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted—the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

If you were to combine elements of any Sherlock Holmes mystery, pepper in antics seen in many comedy films such as The Hangover, and of course sprinkle in elements of our beloved political bromance – you’d get this book. Is it cheesy at times? Oh YES! But in these chaotic times isn’t that something we kind of all need?

CAUTION: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!

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July 2018 Monthly Favorites

For me, the end of July signals a significant change. August means school will be back in session, and that Fall is right around the corner. I love Fall – it’s my favorite season. But that change always has me feeling a bit regretful for what I might not have accomplished during the warmer months. This summer has been incredibly HOT. So I’ve spent a lot more time inside than out, and I’ve tried to make the most of that, but there will always be moments of reflection as Summer puts on its final show and I wonder what I could have done differently, or accomplished…you know, had it not been oppressively hot out…

I feel like I have a LOT of favorites this month. Some months there’s only a couple of things, while others I find myself with a lengthy list and that’s what happened this month. There’s a bit of everything so lets just jump into it.

My new desk lamp – I picked up this new desk lamp from TaoTronics and it is incredible!!! I struggle from frequent headaches and migraines and it can be difficult to find a balance between needing light to work, and finding the lighting to abrasive and painful (you should see how dim the brightness is on my phone!). This lamp has about ninety bazillion different settings that allow you to adjust it to whatever suits you, or what you might need for a particular project. It goes beyond brightness levels (of which there are TWELVE), and also has didn’t temperatures of lighting as well. Some are the super bright blue toned LED that can be expected of modern lighting, and others are more yellow toned, which is what my eyeballs seem to prefer. I also love the design because that too is adjustable and I have it set up to be right above my computer. Further, the light is non-flickering!! For my head that means so much because flickering and/or flashing light is a huge trigger for me! Oh and there’s a USB port on the light so you can charge a device off it as well. For $30, I really don’t think you can go wrong!

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