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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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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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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A Court of Frost and Starlight – Sarah J. Maas – REVIEW


I know, this book came out months ago – so to some it might seem unnecessary to review it. However, I don’t always get to books right when they come out. There’s just not enough time for me to do that with all the books that I find myself interested in. Further, I just started this series last month – from the beginning. Since I’m now here reviewing A Court of Frost and Starlight – the fourth installment in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I suppose its safe to say that I’ve enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the benefit of reading a series well after its come out (and received loads of hype and fans…), is that you can immediately proceed to the next book. Like binge watching a series. Only now it means that I have to wait like everyone else for the next installment… boo, hiss.

It also feels somewhat odd to review the fourth part of a series, having not shared my thoughts on the first three, but I still felt compelled to do it. I’ve been meaning to start incorporating more book reviews, and I didn’t feel like waiting until I was done with this series. That just felt silly. The first book pulled me in and opened my eyes enough to have me immediately seeking out the second. The second filled me with so many feelings – anger, intrigue, fear, … to name a few. The third book absolutely wrecked me at so many moments, but in a bizarrely rewarding way. I feel like that sounds awfully weird, but I can’t think of a better way of putting it?? I picked up the fourth book yesterday from the library and made reading it a priority.

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Monthly Favorites – June 2018

Monthly Favorites! I know, they’re not the most inventive posts around, but even after all these years, I still enjoy watching and reading them. I enjoy knowing what others have been geeking out about – what they may have discovered. So we’re going to be bringing monthly favorites to the blog! They’ll be a collection of both of our favorites, and we hope that you’ll share yours in the comments!

At risk of sounding utterly cliche, it’s crazy to me that here we are, at the end of June! Where is the summer going?? Right now, in WNY, we’re experiencing a bit of a heat wave so I’ve been embracing the artificially cooled oasis that is my home. Conveniently, for the most part, I’m essentially an indoor cat, so I’m not missing out too much! 🙂 With it being so hot out, we’ve both been enjoying a lot of television, movies, and books. Okay, I suppose that isn’t much different than any other time of year, but our favorites this month seems to be predominantly entertainment.


Books


A Court of Mist and Fury – I’ve mentioned this book before, but I’m now nearly done with it (will likely finish it today) and OMG I am fully committed to this story and the series as a whole! It is just SO GOOD!!! It’s such a good book – intense, even humorous at points, steamy as hell and just all around a highly enjoyable read! PS – if you haven’t read it yet, Amazon currently has the hard cover for $6!!

 


The Cuckoos Calling – Missy is currently reading the first book in the Cormoran Strike series from Robert Galbraith (A.K.A. JK Rowling) because I repeatedly harassed her to, and she finally gave in. Apparently its a winner (go figure…) because she’s liking it enough to include it in her favorites. It has elements that remind her of BBC Sherlock, and in general shes a mystery lover, so I don’t know what took her so long!

Video Games


Kingdom Hearts – Missy recently got a PS4 after spending years in the XBOX world and has since then, re-emerged herself into one of her favorite games from years ago: Kingdom Hearts. She beat the game on her old PS2, but is finding it even more enjoyable on the PS4, and is preparing herself for the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts 3. The premise of fighting the evil Heartless feels fairly relevant in our current climate…perhaps too much so.

The Sims 4 SeasonsWe recently published our review of the new expansion pack and while yes, we gave it a lower review than you might expect from two Sims fans, we still have a lot of love for the game (the low score was primarily for glitches, not in regard to our like or dislike of the game itself). We’ve both been playing here and there since our review went up and I’ve gotta say that I really enjoy what seasons adds to the game!

Movies


Guardians of The Galaxy – I’ll admit that I don’t watch very many movies. I think its my attention span (or lack thereof), but I find myself more drawn to television than movies most of the time. However, there’s always a TON of movies that I want to see and I finally sat down to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. I liked it a lot more than I expected to!! Groot is just frigging adorable, and we both enjoyed the music throughout the film.

Television


The Office – Another suggestion from the elder sister: Missy is working her way through watching The Office for the very first time. This show is full of so many hilarious and often ridiculous moments how can you not like it??

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – I needed a new series to watch after finishing The Office (though I’d admit, I was tempted to just start right over again), so I started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I can say that I like it enough to include it in a favorites, and that it has been an entertaining watch, but I will admit that I don’t see it being a classic for me. It’s definitely funny though, and I’m enjoying all the different actors who have guest started so far (I’m still in season 1). I’m still looking for a good sitcom to watch though so if you’ve got any suggestions, please let me know!!

Noms


Chameleon Cold Brew – I’ve been drinking Chameleon Cold Brew for months now. I started drinking cold brew after reading that it is far more stomach friendly than traditional coffee. I have many issues when it comes to my digestive system and I had been having issues getting along with my morning coffee for awhile. Trying cold brew has been LIFE CHANGING!! I’ve tried making my own but it just didn’t compare to the Chameleon Cold Brew concentrate. It’s not bitter (though I’ll admit that I’ve gotten a bad batch on occasion), and I love how easy it is to make an iced coffee every morning. The Mocha version is excellent but often sold out, so I typically stick to the basic black. I just wish it was easier to find because there’s only two stores that I know of that carry it anymore near me and one is an hour away!

Crunchwrap Surpremes – Missy feels like she’s rediscovered Taco Bell, and honestly can’t remember the last time she had Taco Bell before recently, but she’s given in to the cliche gamer stereotype by falling hard for crunchwrap supremes. For someone who is indecisive, they’re the perfect presentation – soft taco and hard taco all in one. Nacho cheese… lettuce. The whole works. All packaged as the neatest taco comfort food there is. It’s good that the nearest Taco Bell is a bit of a drive or they’d likely be a far more frequent indulgence.

Beauty

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden – I sometimes go through ruts where I don’t touch my makeup at all. Sometimes I just feel lazy, uninspired or too crappy health wise to play around much. Lately though, I’ve been enjoying playing with some color on my eyes again and this primer potion from Urban Decay has been AWESOME for that. Their Primer Potion is an OG product for me. It was one of the very first “high end” beauty products that I remember purchasing and I love it now just as I did so many years ago. I’ve tried other brands but honestly, none compare to Urban Decay. Right now I’m using their tinted primer potion in Eden which is great because not only does it provide a base for keeping shadows in place, but it also evens out the color of my eyelids giving a great starting color to apply my shadows on. This stuff seriously works wonders at keeping shadow on my greasy eyelids – even in this heat! I have nothing bad to say about this little magic product!

Sunday Seven – June 17, 2018

It’s been a minute since I’ve done the first Sunday Seven of the series, and I felt like perhaps it was time to share another. I feel like I’ve got a lot to talk about which is the point of this series – generally, it’s all the stuff I don’t feel merits its own individual post, but which I want to talk about nonetheless. 🙂

Alternative Buffalo – I’ll start this off with radio. Ever since I cancelled the Sirius subscription for my car, I’ve been listening to the radio a lot more. My favorite station, is and always will be the Canadian Edge (102.5 out of Toronto). Since I live in WNY, I’m lucky in that I can catch their signal (usually – I WISH I could listen in my house too). They play a perfect blend of new and older tunes and their on-air personalities are just great. However, since the station doesn’t always come in so clear, I’ve also been listening to Alternative Buffalo which is a decent second choice. My biggest complaint is that they don’t play enough older alternative (I’m mainly talking 90s and early 2000s). But either way, I’ve actually really been enjoying listening to the radio again – honestly, it’s the first time in a long while that I’ve done so and it’s a good way for me to actually discover some new music!

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The Surface Breaks: A Re-imagining of The Little Mermaid by Louise O’Neill REVIEW

I’ve always been a fan of The Little Mermaid. It was my favorite Disney tale growing up. Even when I was young though, there were details, and themes within the story that I took issue with or criticized, even if only in my mind. When I first heard about The Surface Breaks (thank you Bookstagram!), which is a re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, I was instantly intrigued and knew that I had to get my hands on this book by Louise O’Neill. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the simplest of tasks being that the book has only been released in the UK so far (can someone explain to me how this all works??), but eventually I got myself a copy and all was right (or at least better) with the world.

The book seeks to tell a different story based on the original story written by Hans Christian Andersen, challenging the themes that both Andersen and Disney wove into their versions of the story. The idea is to tell the story of The Little Mermaid through a more feminist lens. I would say that O’Neill certainly succeeded in this endeavor.

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