Friday, January 18, 2019

Abbreviations #78 | The Autumn Bride, The Chase + One Day in December

It’s been a while since I’ve read a historical romance that tickled my fancy, so I’m glad that my friend Hannah of So Obsessed With recently reminded me that I still need to read the Chance Sisters series. With a premise and characters reminiscent of two of my all-time favorite historical romance series - the Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas and the Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn - it’s really not surprising that I adored The Autumn Bride. It does have a bit of a rough start, but that smooths out once it hits its stride. The entire premise revolves around a found family of female friends (try saying that three times fast!) who have called themselves the Chance family - two sisters Abigail and Jane, and their friends Damaris and Daisy. They’re down on their luck at the beginning, but find their fortune in befriending the elderly Lady Beatrice Davenham, whose servants have been taking advantage of her and leaving her neglected and bedridden. But things change when Lady Beatrice’s nephew returns from business overseas and finds these four strangers living in his house… Oh man, The Autumn Bride is a delight to read. I’ve seen some people comment that it read like a historical romantic comedy, and I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. The biggest draw of the novel is the four girls; their friendship and rapport is so delightful, as is their fierce love and protectiveness over one another. That’s not to say that I didn’t think the main plot was engaging (if a touch over the top and slightly lacking in the development of the main romance), or that I didn’t enjoy the other characters (particularly their adopted aunt), or that I didn’t get any of the feels as I read, because I did. It’s a really enjoyable tale, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series! 

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie | Series: Chance Sisters #1 | Publisher: Berkley Sensation | Publication Date: February 5, 2013 | Source: Bought the Kindle book

On the surface, Summer Di Laurentis and Colin Fitzgerald are complete opposites. She loves parties, shopping and isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with her life; Colin loves hockey, video games and wants to design them for a living. This doesn’t stop them from developing crushes on each other… though the fact that he’s friends with her old brother, his best friend has a crush on her and she just moved into their house might prove to be a deterrent. Oh, and there’s also the fact that Colin has made it clear he’s not interested, even though there are definite sparks between them… I’m so gosh darn happy that Elle Kennedy has decided to write a spin-off series inspired by the Off-Campus series (which I’m obsessed with). I loved the characters and the world in the first four books, so it’s no surprise that I also enjoyed The Chase. I enjoyed Summer and Colin as individuals (and I could definitely see myself being really good friends with Colin), and watching their relationship develop was a delightful experience (even though I also spent many pages wanting to smack them both upside the head). While it didn’t quite have the magic that the other four books have, I still thought it was fun, entertaining and downright swoony too.

The Chase by Elle Kennedy | Series: Briar U #1 | Publisher: Self-published | Publication Date: August 4, 2018 | Source: Purchased the Kindle book

I wanted to read One Day in December after seeing it pop up all over my social media feeds and after learning what the premise entailed. Laurie and a mysterious man lock eyes one night as she’s on a bus heading home from work and it is love interest at first sight, but they don’t get the chance to meet. It’s nearly a year later when their paths cross again… only bus boy, AKA Jack, is in a relationship with her best friend/roomie. As ten years go by, readers will follow Laurie and Jack through the ups and downs and complications that they encounter as their lives go on. I really wanted to love this novel, but I feel indifferent overall (though there are plenty of people who do love it!) Let me start by telling you the two things I did like: 1) Laurie, who felt like a real person that I might meet in real life with her narrative and 2) the shift in characters and relationships over the course of ten years. But outside of these aspects, the book was middling for me. The pacing felt disjointed, which I suppose is to be expected considering it covers a decade and jumps from event to event that occurs within the years. The tropes feel typical of a contemporary fiction story, which isn’t necessarily a “problem”, but it just meant that nothing felt too fresh or standout to me. The romance itself wasn’t one I was invested in (I was more interested in the friendship) which is something that really affected my overall feelings about the story. I genuinely am disappointed that I didn’t like this one more!

One Day in December by Josie Silver | Publisher: Broadway Books | Publication Date: October 16, 2018 | Source: Purchased the paperback

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Abbreviations #77 | Act Like It, Pretty Face + Making Up

There are just times (usually when I’m really stressed out or anxious in real life or if I’ve just read something particularly heavy) when I crave fun romance reads, and the London Celebrities series - Act Like It, Pretty Face and Making Up - really fit the bill when I was looking for new ones to read. The novels each revolve around a main couple who are involved in the performance industry in London in some form or fashion and each take on a different trope and all happen to be utterly delightful.

Interested in the fake dating trope? Act Like It has you covered! Lainie Graham and Richard Troy are set up in a fake relationship in order to improve public opinion of Richard’s rather quick temper and bad behavior. While things start off on a rather antagonistic note, maybe, just maybe, there’s a little something more there that might blossom into a true romance. Even though I got a little frustrated at times over the lack of communication (I can handle this in small doses and I understand it was all part of the plot, but man, it drove me up a wall a bit in this novel), overall, this was an adorable contemporary romance. Parker did a bang-up job building up the relationship between Richard and Lainie, and she also succeeded in making me very fond of Lainie’s firecracker personality in particular right from the start. I definitely felt all the warm fuzzies when I finished reading this novel, and it inspired me to immediately want to pick up the next.

Interested in the forbidden romance (May-December romance) trope? Pretty Face may be right up your alley! It certainly turned out that way for me. Pretty Face centers around Lily Lamprey, an actress typecast because of her looks and voice who wants to prove that she’s more than just a pretty face (yes, of course I went there), and Luc Savage, a well-known director determined to bring his vision of a production to life perfectly. When they first met, there are the obvious misconceptions and the constant antagonism brewing between them. But as they spend more time together, they start to realize that there’s more to the other person than meets the eye. But will they be willing to risk their reputations and careers for their budding romance? I’m aware I’ve made this story sound as dramatic as a gossip rag makes celebrity love stories seem, but I promise you that Pretty Face is a fun read. I really enjoyed it right from the start, and that’s for two specific reasons. First, I immediately latched on to both Lily and Luc as characters - Lily, a young ingenue whose star is on the rise and who knows what she wants for herself, and Luc, a grumpy yet good-hearted person who has a strong artistic vision for his production. And second, I also instantly was rooting for their romance to blossom. The appeal lies in the playfulness, the “will they/won’t they” vibes, the banter, the sweetness… basically, it was appealing on the whole. I devoured every single word, eagerly anticipating how it would all play out, and I was not disappointed. It was definitely a wonderful addition to this series!

Interested in the hate-to-love trope? Making Up will likely be the one for you! I read this on a whim one Saturday, and it was a delight. It centers around Beatrix Lane, an aerial performer who is unexpectedly promoted to star of her current production and has to deal with her insecurities from an emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship, and Leo Magasiva, a makeup artist who needs to find a way to repair his reputation after an accident occurs on a major film set. The two of them have always been rather antagonistic towards each other, but as they find themselves spending more time together because of their current circumstances, the two of them will start to realize that maybe love was just around the corner for them after all… Honestly, Making Up was just as enjoyable as the first two novels! I had already loved Trix in the last one (as she was a secondary character), so to be in her head and get to know her even better was a wonderful experience. And Leo was not at all difficult to fall in love with, snarky attitude and occasional mistaken assumptions aside. It was fun to watch these two go from all-out feud to full-on romance, as well as to see how all the other parts of the plot would play out. It left me feeling all warm and fuzzy (especially at the end!), and I’m so glad to report that this was a solid addition to the series.

I really enjoyed the first three London Celebrities novels. They’re exactly what I was craving when I picked them up: quick, fun contemporary romance reads with characters I could root for and lots of warm fuzzies at the end of every story. I would highly recommend checking these out (and if I haven’t convinced you, allow me to point you in the direction of my friend Hannah’s review since she convinced me), especially since the next novel The Austen Playbook is out in April of this year!

Act Like It / Pretty Face / Making Up by Lucy Parker | Series: London Celebrities #1-3
Publisher: Carina Press | Publication Dates: November 30, 2015 / February 20, 2017 / May 28, 2018
Source: Purchased the Kindle e-books

Monday, January 14, 2019

How I'm Staying Organized This 2019

The start of a new year always feels like a clean slate, a chance to start over, do more or be better. I do have some goals I'd like to achieve in 2019, and I definitely think that staying organized plays a large part in helping me stick to my plans! I thought it'd be fun to quickly share what tools I'll be using to stay on top of things in 2019, whether in my personal, bookish or online life. While I won't go into too many specifics here, if you're interested in learning more about anything, feel free to leave a comment or to reach out to me directly. 

Budget spreadsheet | My sister Mel deserves the credit for the spreadsheet you'll see a bit of in the screenshot above! She's always been the one with the interest in budgeting and creating something she could use to track her spending, and it's with her as my inspiration in mind that I've decided to utilize the budget sheet she was kind enough to share. There's a great overview that includes an overall look at my financial situation, as well as category breakdowns so that I can figure out what I'm spending most of my money on. For the first time ever, I'm eager to fill in this sheet! Is this a sign that I'm starting to be a proper adult?

TBR spreadsheet | While I appreciate it very detailed sheets to keep track of things (as you'll see in a moment), I actually decided it was in my best interest to keep my personal TBR version as simple as possible. The books are split up by categories in each tab, but otherwise, all sheets have the same basic data: title, author, series, publisher and, in the case of review titles, publication date. The first tab contains a numerical summary so that I can get a general idea of how many books I've got left.

Read in 2019 spreadsheet | I've been using Crini's spreadsheet for a couple of years now, as I enjoy the fact that I understand how it works and can customize it (for the most part) for my use. It helps me keep track of what I've read in a given year, provides a statistical overview as well as the option to track by tags, and also includes a space for what books I bought or received. I can't wait to see the finished spreadsheet at the end of 2019, especially to see if my stats have turned out how I'm hoping they will. (I'm personally using the 2018 version, but she's adding an updated 2019 one!)

Goodreads | I've been a Goodreads user for some time now, and it's still the option I gravitate towards when I want to organize my books. I keep track of what I've read in a year, what I need to review or purchase, or what I want to check out. In addition to my usual shelves, I've decided to track my challenges by creating specific shelves for that exact purpose!

Editorial Calendar | Inspired by Rachel from Hello, Chelly, I've maintained an online calendar on Google Drive in order to keep track of what I plan to post and what I've already posted in a given month. It helps me when I'm trying to figure out when I can post collaborations or blog tours, try to get ahead when I've got a bit more time on my hands and can also help me easily rearrange things.

Wunderlist | I've been using Wunderlist for a while now as well, and it's my preferred method for keeping track of my collaborations with Rachel. We keep joint lists for certain blog features we do together, and it's quite simple to update those lists, switch the entries around or add to them.

Happy Planner | I briefly used this type of planner for a while before I stopped, as the one I had (a Mini Happy Planner) wasn't working for my purposes any longer. Cut to around August of 2018, when Hannah from So Obsessed With got me intrigued enough to start using Happy Notes - and I was hooked again. It's taken a couple of months, but I've finally figured out how I want to combine a Classic Happy Planner layout with my Happy Notes layout into one planner (which they call Franken-planning). I use the Happy Planner monthly portion for personal tasks, events and lists, and I'm using the Happy Notes dot grid pages for tracking my bookish stuff. I'm really excited to have set it up already and can't wait to use it for the rest of the year!

How are you staying organized in 2019?


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