The Charm Offensive: Finding Happily Ever After

Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Reality dating tv shows have just never really been my jam. So many of my friends and sorority sisters look forward to watching The Bachelor or the Bachelorette every Monday night, but I just never really got the appeal, to be honest. So, when I heard about the premise of The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. But it turned out to be my favorite book that I read in the month of August! And that is high praise, because I managed to read a total of 15 books in August, with five of them being 5 star reads for me! So, thank you to my friends at Atria Books for asking me to be a part of the blog tour as we celebrate the release of The Charm Offensive this Tuesday September 7th! I know you guys are going to fall in love with this one!

“Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So, it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.”

The Charm Offensive, Alison Cochrun (Atria Books)

This is hands down one of the best romances that I’ve read this year! I love everything about this novel. I love how much asexual representation was shown in the novel, and even learned about the different forms that asexuality can take.

What struck me most was the focus on mental health and neurodiversity. The characters felt real and I connected to them so quickly. Very often, we see mental health discussed in novels as almost an afterthought. But in The Charm Offensive, we really got to see up close how Charlie and Dev navigate the world and how their mental health issues affect their relationships with others, both in romantic and platonic relationships.

This book was so thoughtfully written with plenty of heart and humor. I cannot wait to see what Alison Cochrun writes next!

Click HERE to pre-order The Charm Offensive from a Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday September 7th!

The Roxy Letters: Oh My Goddess!

Review: The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

Thank you to the team at Simon & Schuster for sending me an advanced reader’s copy of Mary Pauline Lowry’s hilarious new novel, The Roxy Letters! I saw this book floating around Instagram a bit and I knew I had to read it. I received this book awhile ago but was waiting to read it because I had so may ARCs to get through that were being released before The Roxy Letters. I was SO happy when the time finally came for me to crack open this book! It came with some cute gifts, one that was pretty risqué that gave me a good laugh (DM me for photos!).

The Roxy Letters is structured as a series of letters from our main character Roxy, to her ex-boyfriend who has recently become her roommate in order for her to afford her mortgage. Roxy works at Whole Foods (the original location) in Austin, Texas for a terrible manager in the deli. She’s a sometimes-vegan who is trying to revive her own love life. When Roxy finds out that Lulu Lemon is moving in to take over the previous location of a local business, she decides to do something about it. Throughout the novel, Roxy finds herself in several unfortunate situations that she hilariously navigates through, taking hit after hit that life throws her way.

I loved Roxy’s wit and sense of humor. The format definitely took some getting used to. When I first started the book, I didn’t think a book full of letters could be that sustainable but I grew to love it! I found her daily struggles of being a twenty-something trying to make it and be independent to be so relatable. I think many young women will connect with Roxy. I recommend this book for young women especially, and it is definitely for the mature reader as there is some adult content. I really enjoyed reading this book; it comes out on April 7th. You can pre-order using the link below!

Pre-order The Roxy Letters below! Out April 7th!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Ten Days Gone: Can a Serial Killer be Stopped in Ten Days?

Review: Ten Days Gone by Beverly Long

Growing up, there was a lot of Law and Order playing on TV in our house. My mom loved that show, so I naturally watched a lot of it with her. But as a reader, I’ve actually never read a police procedural novel until now! Thank you to Mira Books for sending a copy of Ten Days Gone by Beverly Long for me to review! This is the first novel in the A.L. McKittridge series.

Ten Days Gone takes place in Baywood, Wisconsin and follows detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan as they attempt to solve a mysterious murder in their otherwise quiet town. Not only was a woman murdered, but were two other women: one ten days before and the other ten days before that. A.L. and Rena know that they have only ten days to find and stop the killer before he takes the life of another victim. But what is the connection between these three women? Why these women and why ten days apart? The bodies were left in such an odd way that they know there is something mysterious going on. A.L. and Rena navigate their own family issues in their personal lives as they try to stop this murderer from claiming the life of another innocent woman in Baywood.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel! There were times when I felt like it was a bit slow and even boring at times, so it took me a while to really get into it. But then certain details in the case would come up and I’d get invested again. The ending was not entirely predictable for me so I enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be reading the next novel in the A.L. McKittridge series when it comes out. I’m really interested to see more of the lives of A.L. and his partner Rena. Each of their stories took interesting turns that I’m now intrigued by.

I recommend this for any fans of police procedural novels, or for any lovers of Law and Order or CSI. This read like an episode of Law and Order for me and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. I think it was a good introduction into this genre for me. Once I got through some of the slower parts, it was a pretty fast read, which I love. Ten Days Gone is available now! Check out the link below to order your own copy!

Order Ten Days Now below!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

The Confetti Pact: A Clever Plan or a Disaster in the Making?

Review: The Confetti Pact by Michele Gorman writing as Lilly Bartlett

Thank you so much to UK author Michele Gorman for reaching out about reading her newest novella, The Confetti Pact! First of all, the cover art is absolutely adorable so I was interested right away. When I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read this one! I have been reading a lot of heavier books lately with dark subject matter so I was totally ready for something light and funny and this came at the perfect time! So, thank you so much Michele!

The Confetti Pact centers on lifestyle blogger Nelly, who was recently dumped by her fiancé. Not only is she heartbroken, she is also put in a tough spot because a magazine had contracted with her to cover her wedding in a big feature, but she has no fiancé. One day, she is introduced to Rafael, a coworker from the accounting department at her job whose visa is about to expire. She needs a fiancé, he needs to get married to stay in the UK: match made in heaven or a disastrous plan? Rafael is such a good actor playing along, that Nelly inevitable develops real feelings for him. As they try to keep secrets from everyone, the magazine is documenting their every move in the wedding planning process. Nelly is forced to grapple with her past, the current plan, and what lays ahead in her future.

This was such a refreshing book! I needed a light-hearted read and this totally delivered. Nelly’s inner monologue contained so many hilarious jokes, that I found myself laughing out loud along with the book. But while it was funny and upbeat, it did force the reader to analyze what type of partner is best for the narrator and who has her best interest at heart. Can a relationship of convenience really be the best idea in the long run? Or can a fresh perspective help you see what is really important in life? It also had me questioning how much time I spend on social media. Nelly is constantly on her phone and is so focused on finding and creating content for Instagram that she was constantly distracted when it came time to being with Rafael. It was a wonderful reminder to focus on being more present.

This novella is such a fun read, I recommend it to anyone that loves comedies or romance! I’m going to keep my eye out for the author’s other titles now because they are wonderful to read in between some darker, more serious books. I hope you check The Confetti Pact out! And from now until the end of February 2020, the pre-order price for the e-book is only $2.99! In March, it will go back up to $9.99 so pre-order now! Valentine’s Day is in a few days so this is the perfect month to read a great rom-com! Pre-Order using the link below!

Pre-Order The Confetti Pact below for only $2.99 before the price goes back up in March!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Infinity Son: What Makes You Family?

Review: Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

One of my major reading goals this year is to read books from genres that I typically stay away from. I have never really been interested in fantasy before so that is one genre I wanted to tackle somehow this year. The team over at HarperCollins & HarperTeen sent me a gifted copy of Adam Silvera’s newest book, Infinity Son! This is the first in the Infinity Cycle series and is Adam Silvera’s first fantasy novel! One of my best friends is a huge fan of Silvera and I had heard about his contemporary young adult fiction books so I was excited to dive into Infinity Son as my first step into the world of fantasy books!

Infinity Son takes place in New York and centers on the story of Emil and Brighton, brothers who have grown up in a world where celestials, specters, and magical powers are abundant. On the night of their eighteenth birthday, Brighton is filming a video for his successful YouTube channel when they witness an attack from a specter and Brighton is able to catch it on camera. Brighton has always desperately hoped that he would one day wake up with powers of his own, while Emil wanted nothing to do with this world. One day, that all changes when Emil discovers that he is more than merely human. The brothers find themselves in the middle of a war that spans multiple generations as they discover old secrets that change everything they thought about their own family.

One of the central themes to this book is that of family and brotherhood. In several interviews, Adam Silvera discusses some of his favorite fantasy books and shows. He says that what he loves about them is that they are not stories about witches, demon hunters, and wizards, they are stories about siblings who just happen to have powers or happen to be demon hunters. Infinity Son is action packed. Just when the story starts to settle and slow down a bit, something happens that shakes everything up and the action takes off like a shot again. At times, the action did feel a bit excessive but it did keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I loved the tension between the magical world and the ordinary struggles around family, loss, and brotherhood. Parts of the story felt so relatable, even in this completely fictional, magical world.

It was also interesting to see how this world shows up in an age of YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. It also delved a bit into politics and government when it discussed the rights of magical creatures and how that works into society at large. Another aspect I loved is that one of the main characters is a gay young man. It is so important for LGBTQ characters to be the protagonists of novels. LGBT youth need to see themselves represented in stories that they love.

Overall, I enjoyed this book as my first fantasy novel! Granted, my opinion is coming from someone who is not as familiar with this genre. I think fans of Adam Silvera’s or fantasy will love this. I also think it was a fun first jump into this world, so if you’re like me and are wanting to try out some fantasy, give this one a shot. This is also the first in a series so I am now excited for the sequel to come out! Thank you so much to HarperTeen and HarperCollins for gifting me this beautiful copy! Infinity Son is available now! You can order your copy using the link below!

Order Infinity Son and any of Adam Silvera’s other books here!

A Beginning at the End: Trauma & the Future

Review: A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

Thank you to the team at Mira Books, Harlequin, & HarperCollins for sending this gifted copy of Mike Chen’s newest book, A Beginning at the End. I constantly talk about how much I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels so this piqued my interested right away! I knew I’d be interested because the Golden Gate Bridge is featured on the cover. Not only is the book set in San Francisco, but the other is from there as well! This is so exciting! I’ve lived just a short drive away from San Francisco my entire life so I’ve spent a lot of time in that beautiful city seeing musicals, taking my dad to Giants games, and just spending the day there at Christmas time. So, I immediately felt a personal connection to this book!

A Beginning at the End takes place in San Francisco after “The End of the World”, which is what the characters call the flu pandemic that killed billions of people worldwide. The country went into a state of quarantine to protect the survivors. Once it was safe to come out of quarantine, everyone that was left experienced the country attempting to reset itself and find their new normal. The story follows the lives of four main characters: widowed Rob, his daughter Sunny, wedding planner Krista, and Moira, a former pop-star called “Mojo”. The book takes us through how they have been coping since the end of the world and how their stories all converge and interconnect.

One of the things that I loved most about this post-apocalyptic novel is that it focuses more on the emotional impact of the changing world rather than getting caught up in the details of the disaster. The world building is definitely there, but it centers more on how the characters are coping. It faces us with the question of how trauma affects our decision-making abilities. I relate to this idea so much. I know that the majority of the big decisions I make are affected by my past traumas and difficult experiences. I also particularly loved where Mike Chen decided to set his novel. I’ve spent so much time in San Francisco throughout my own life and could so clearly picture each of the locations he described. In one scene, two characters go to a bar right after a San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland A’s game and I clearly pictured it taking across the street from Oracle Park at Momo’s! I was JUST there with my boyfriend a few months ago. Even the surrounding cities described were so familiar to me, so I felt even more invested in the story. I even felt like the book had a satisfactory ending! That’s rare for a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel to achieve. But I felt like it answered just enough and still left it open enough to not feel too predictable.

I recommend this book for any fellow dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction fans. You’ll love this one if “end of the world” stories interest you! This was one of the more realistic ones I’ve encountered. It’s definitely entirely different from my personal favorite, The Handmaid’s Tale. But fans of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel will likely love this! I read that the author was inspired by the structure of Station Eleven while he was writing this! I started Station Eleven a while back but didn’t finish it so now I definitely want to go back and finish it! Overall, I loved A Beginning at the End!

If you want to read any of the above-mentioned books, shop them below!

Get Out of Your Own Way: How to Find Motivation to Reach for Your Best Life

Review: Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth & Fulfillment by Dave Hollis

When you’re stuck in a rut in your life, how do you find your way out? In my life, I’ve been battling the hardest things that I’ve ever had to face over the last two years. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I lost my mom very suddenly and traumatically over Thanksgiving weekend in 2017. The initial loss was unbearable and the aftermath of it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to navigate and grapple with. I was only 25 years old when my mom died (at age 52). She was perfectly healthy as far as we knew so getting a phone call at 1:48AM that paramedics were at my parents’ house trying to revive her was the most shocking and traumatizing experience I have ever been through. At 25, I was working at a great job, had graduated from my dream school with a BA, and had moved out on my own already. But there is so much ahead that I still need my mom around for. The thought of continuing life without her seemed too much to bear. Pairing that along with already existing anxiety and some PTSD (though I didn’t know it at the time) from childhood, I was overwhelmed to say the least. But I pushed through, I worked, I finished a certificate program going back to school part time, I served as an advisor for my sorority, I earned the promotion I had been hoping for at work, and began dating the man I have been in love with for years. But as amazing as all of this is, grief felt paralyzing, so I wasn’t dealing with it. One day, I decided that it was time to look for a therapist, and I’m so proud of myself for taking that big step. I learned to get to the root of my issues. It helped me to realize that I was not grieving or healing, I was just coping, soothing, and getting by the best that I could. But I started thinking, is this what my life will be like from now? In a perpetual state of crippling grief? Now that mom is gone, will I ever feel like I’m able to try to live a full life?

Around the same time, I was seeing that some of my sorority sisters and friends were reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I didn’t think much of it, but it seemed to become more and more popular as time went on. I looked up the author and started to see what she was all about. In the beginning of 2019 I set a goal: to read more. So, I set a small goal of reading 12 books that year. I figured I could handle one book per month. I started seeing ads for a new book to be released soon: Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. The title caught my eye because my (then) boyfriend was constantly telling me that I need to stop saying “I’m sorry” for everything. As a joke, I sent him a photo of the cover saying “Hey, this looks like a book I need to read!” Well, the day the book was released, I headed to my local Target and picked it up. I started reading it and was blown away. She simplified so many things that I found myself anxious about it my own life and they started to make sense. By the time, I finished the book, I knew it was something special and picked up Girl, Wash Your Face and was equally impressed. I started following Rachel on social media along with her husband Dave because I just craved more and more of that amazing motivation. They started to talk about their Last 90 Days challenge for the last three months of the year and I decided to try it out. If you’re curious about the whole challenge, check out my first blog post here where I talk all about it. The biggest thing I learned over that course of 90 days was the power of gratitude and that by creating great habits I can change my life. That challenge also inspired me to reach for one of my goals: launching a book blog.

Before I even started this blog, I knew that there was one Advanced Read Copy (ARC) that would be the dream to receive. Rachel’s husband, Dave Hollis, was coming out with his own book, similar to Girl, Wash Your Face, but geared towards those of us that need a little help finding motivation. I knew that it was difficult to receive ARCs from publishers and I figured that this one would be impossible to get because so many people are fans of Rachel and Dave’s but I started the blog. My Instagram following began to grow, more people started coming over to this site to read my blog posts, and I fell in love with the process. Once I picked up a decent number of followers, I decided that it was time to start learning how to request ARCs from publishers. I learned how to do it, and sent in a request to HarperCollins Leadership for Dave Hollis’s book: Get Out of Your Own Way. I didn’t hear anything back but I knew it was a long shot. I was just proud of myself for trying. Then one day, I received an e-mail from the publisher’s publicist saying that she sent the book and it was on its way. I was FLOORED. I had set a small but “big for me” goal and I had achieved it. I received the copy using the exact methods and teachings that Rachel and Dave talk about all the time. I did the work on myself, made a plan to achieve my dreams, and I made them happen. Opening that package from HarperCollins was such an incredible feeling. Not only had I applied what I had already learned from Rachel and Dave, but I knew I was about to gain even more wisdom by opening the pages of Dave’s book, which comes out on March 10, 2020.

Dave titled his book Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth and Fulfillment because as successful as he is, he is not motivated the same way that Rachel is. Rachel wakes up at 5:00AM every day ready to take on and conquer the world and do everything to make her dreams happen. She is naturally motivated individual with a growth-mindset. Dave, however, is not built that way. He has what he refers to as a “fixed-mindset”. He used to believe that personal development is for people that are broken and that there is something wrong with people who go to therapy. But from learning from his wife and deciding that he needed to reach for a better version of himself, he took a deep dive into personal development and learned so many tools to help him on his own journey of growth. His book is the toolkit that we all need to reach for more in our own lives, no matter what type of mindset we have. When things are hard, he teaches how to just “do it anyway”. He formats the book into twenty chapters. Like Rachel’s book Girl, Wash Your Face, each chapter of Dave’s book is titled with a lie or “limiting belief” that held him back. He used personal stories to demonstrate how each lie impacted him and how he overcame them. He ends each chapter with a list of three things that helped him, giving his readers the tangible, actionable advice they need to make positive changes in their own lives. The chapters that resonated the most with me were about shame, the compulsion to fix and care for others, worrying about what other people think, feeling lovable, and roles in relationships. But my biggest takeaway from his entire book came from the conclusion where he gives incredible advice about using leverage to go after what you want most in your life. As a bonus to the book, Dave even created a one-hour long e-course about “How to Find Your ‘Why’” that you get for free when you pre-order the book! And it also comes with the first thirty minutes of the book on audio! Click here or the link at the bottom of this post to pre-order!

Words cannot begin to express the value that Dave and Rachel’s teachings have added to my life, but I’ll try to delve in a bit! The most impactful thing that I learned from them is that I have the power to turn my life around. That, no matter how difficult life seems and no matter how impossible the traumas that I have experienced or will experience are, I have the power to continue on AND I can live a full and happy life, even after and during hard things. I did not believe it was possible to be happy after my mom died. I thought I would go on to live half of a life forever because how could I have anything more without her? But the power of a gratitude-practice every single morning changed that. I stopped feeling that life could never get better, because every single day I was writing down specific things that I’m grateful for and I realized that I am already living a good life. If I keep looking for things to be grateful for, I find them. Making them concrete and writing them on paper makes them that much more real for me and I stay in a place of gratitude for what I have and where I’m at, even when things are hard. I can honestly say that I am a happy person, and I didn’t think that could happen for me again. That’s not to say that I don’t have hard days. I miss my mom terribly every single day. There are moments when the memories of her are so crystal clear that it hurts to realize that they are only memories and I won’t have any new ones. But I am so grateful for the relationship that I had with my mom. I know that all she would want for me to is to continue on and reach for more in my life. She would want me to live the fullest life possible, and that is exactly what I have learned from Rachel and Dave. I learned that I am a powerful, resilient force that can get through anything and still live my best life, and I am forever grateful for the work that they do to empower others to find this for themselves.

I recommend this book for any lovers of personal development or anyone who is scared to dive into it or thinks that it’s overwhelming. I love nonfiction and personal development. I take notes while reading these types of books and took 17 (small journal sized) pages of notes of this book! If you’re feeling a bit stuck in a rut and don’t know how to motivate yourself to go after the life that you want, or don’t think you have the tools to reach for the best version of yourself, I highly encourage you to pick this one up and discover the power that you already have within yourself. This incredible book comes out on March 10, 2020. As Dave always says: Let’s GO!

Pre-Order Dave’s book using the link below! Then, head over to GetOutofYourOwnWayTheBook.com and scroll down to Step 2 to redeem the 30 minutes of audio and the free 1-hour e-course on “How to Find Your Why”!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Such a Fun Age: On Race, Class, and Self-Awareness

Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

First off, I want to thank the team at Putnam Books for sending me this gorgeous copy of Kiley Reid’s debut novel, Such a Fun Age. I was so surprised to receive the adorable package they sent which included crayons, a coloring page, and a mini box of Cheerios! It was the most adorable package and was perfectly fitting for this amazing novel!

Such a Fun Age centers on Emira Tucker, a black twenty-five-year-old babysitter for the wealthy, white Chamberlain family. Peter Chamberlain is a local news reporter while his wife Alix is a lifestyle blogger. They have two young daughters that Emira cares for. Emira wants to find a different job, as her twenty-sixth birthday looms over her so she is about to lose her health insurance. As much as she knows she needs something more, she has bonded with 2-year-old Briar Chamberlain. It is clear from their interactions that Alix is not in tune with what her oldest daughter Briar needs. One night, Alix calls Emira to come in to watch Briar while they deal with an incident at home. Emira takes her to the local high-end grocery store to keep the little girl occupied for a bit. While there, a white woman and a security guard approach them and begin to question Emira. In an explicit example of outright racism, the woman claims to be concerned for the young child’s well-being. Aa Emira explains the situation and defends herself, a young man is standing nearby filming the entire interaction on his cell phone. The only thing that eventually appeases the security guard is calling Peter Chamberlain to come down and speak to the security guard to vouch for Emira. The novel explores Emira’s relationship with the Chamberlain family, the effects and aftermath of the video, and Emira’s own journey through adulthood and independence.

I was absolutely blown away by this book. It was definitely a fun and entertaining read, but more importantly, it explores the often misguided actions and beliefs of well-intentioned white people who claim to be advocates of minorities. It beautifully demonstrated what can happen to those that lack self-awareness. While two white characters each claimed to have Emira’s best interest at heart, they were both doing the exact same thing to her. Instead of actually letting her speak for herself and listening to her, they made assumptions and projected their own issues surrounding race and class onto her. This phenomenon is all too common. It’s along the same lines of the tired old “I have a black friend so I can’t be racist” mentality. This novel does such an incredible job with the dual perspective that allows us into the minds of both Emira and Alix and their different social circles and how they collide. The novel explores the themes of race, class, self-awareness, microaggressions, privilege, nuanced power dynamics, motherhood, fetishization of minorities, and coming of age.

I really do recommend this novel for anyone, but particularly for those that struggle to understand privilege. It is also a very fun read and I found myself gasping several times as I read it. I was ecstatic to see that Reese Witherspoon also picked it up as her Book Club’s newest selection! This novel deserves all the praise it has been getting. I absolutely cannot wait to see what Kiley Reid writes next! I posted my Top Ten Books of 2019 on the morning of December 31st, but I finished Such a Fun Age that night and I need to amend it. This is in my top 3 books of 2019 and it was such a wonderful book to end the year on! It came out on December 31st so it’s on shelves now! You can order it below!

Order Such a Fun Age below!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

The Parrot’s Perch: Finding Resilience Through Gratitude

Review: The Parrot’s Perch by Karen Keilt

One of the best parts of what I do with this blog is being able to read incredible books that I might not otherwise have heard of. When I heard about the opportunity to participate in the Pop-Up Book Tour for Karen Keilt’s memoir The Parrot’s Perch, I looked up the summary and applied for it right away. The story sounded heartbreaking and important. A few weeks later, I received an e-mail saying that I was chosen to be on the tour! When the book arrived, I was struck by how gorgeous the cover is. I finished the book I was reading at the time as fast as I could so that I could start Karen’s book as soon as possible!

Karen’s life began in a family of privilege living in São Paulo, Brazil. Her family lived in a beautiful home, she rode horses, traveled, and lived an all-around privileged life. She met a man, fell in love, had a beautiful wedding, but not long after, the unthinkable happened. Karen and her new husband were abducted from their home in the middle of the night and thrown into a prison where they were tortured for 45 days without ever being given a reason why. Karen had always known that Brazil was corrupt but never thought it would come for her so violently and as traumatically as it did. The Parrot’s Perch is Karen Keilt’s horrifying, yet brave account of her experiences and what it took to come out of them and become the person that she is today.

After finishing the book two days ago, I was blown away. Karen is such an incredibly talented writer. The way that she is able to convey what happened to her and her thought processes through her experiences is so beautiful and brings you right into her story. There were so many times where I forgot that this is a memoir because it read like a novel. Then, when I would remember that this was her real life, my heart just broke for her. This is the mark of a truly exceptional writer. I cannot stress Karen’s bravery and courage enough. It is incredibly hard to write about traumas that we have experienced but Karen has done it with purpose. I’m sure that writing was also therapeutic and healing for her, but it is so amazing that she spoke out and helped to shed light on such a tragic and corrupt system & government. Her bravery will make it so that fewer people have to endure the pain and trauma that she did.

The Parrot’s Perch is a story of inner strength and perseverance. It explores themes of what it means to be and feel safe, post-traumatic stress disorder, violence, sexual assault & trauma, and toxic masculinity (if any of these difficult topics are triggering for you, read with caution and be gentle with yourself). It tells the story of a mother’s love and what a mother is willing to do and sacrifice for her child (in more ways than one).

Though I have never had do endure the atrocities that Karen was forced to face, I relate to her struggle with PTSD. Like Karen, while I was struggling, I had no idea that I was dealing with PTSD. It took a lot of therapy and personal development to understand it and begin to learn how to cope with it. I also had work to understand some of the decisions that my own mother made for myself and my sister. She made them for us, doing the absolute best that she knew how. I’ve also discovered how healing it can be to write about difficult experiences. This entire blog is a testament to that. Writing not only helps you to process life experiences, but by putting your writing out into the world, you make it possible for someone else to find it and be helped along the way.

I cannot recommend Karen’s book enough. It’s one of my top three books of the year. As difficult as some parts were to read, they were written so beautifully. It was an honor to read her work. I hope that by more people reading this incredible book, more can be done to protect the citizens of Brazil from traumas like Karen’s. She and her husband were not the only ones; thousands experienced the same. One of my favorite parts of the book is that Karen begins her acknowledgements with the definition of gratitude. I know I’ve already written about it extensively but gratitude truly has changed everything for me this year. Karen is another example of the life-changing power of gratitude. If someone who has endured what she has can turn their life completely around with gratitude, just imagine what it can do for you. I hope that you pick this one up and you get as much out of it as I did. Check it out Karen’s amazing memoir below!

And thank you again to Karen Keilt and the incredible teams at She Writes Press and BookSparks for selecting me to be a part of the Pop-Up Book Tour and for sending me this incredible book!

Check out and order Karen’s book below!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

A Christmas Adventure: Royal Holiday

Review: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. While this time of year is a difficult one for me since losing my mom, I find comfort in the holiday season and spending it with my family. I feel the most fulfilled when I’m surrounded by Christmas decorations, listening to Christmas music, and playing with my godchildren. Curling up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and a warm blanket next to the tree watching The Family Stone or Elf is my definition of the perfect cozy night around this time of year. As much as I’ve always been a book lover, I’ve never really been one to go for Christmas themed books for some reason. But now that I’ve really been trying to read more intentionally, I wanted to try some out this year!

I wandered down the book aisle at my local Target and saw a few different options. I saw one that everyone always recommends: Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. But the one that caught my eye the most was Jasmine Guillory’s newest novel, Royal Holiday. The gorgeous green cover was so festive and caught my eye instantly; I had to pick it up! Reading through the summary, I saw that it was actually a romance novel! Now, I love fiction so much but I NEVER go for romance novels. I don’t really know why, but they just have never really interested me much, but I decided to take a chance on this one. I’m so glad I did!

Royal Holiday is about a woman named Vivian, a middle-aged social worker from Oakland, CA. This piqued my interest because I live just over an hour away, so I immediately felt a connection to her story! Her daughter, Maddie, is a stylist and has been hired by the British Royal Family to style the duchess for the Christmas holiday. Since Vivian never takes time for herself, Maddie suggests that she join her! The story takes us along their trip to the gorgeous estate in northern England where the royal family stays for the holidays. There, Vivian is introduced the Queen’s Private Secretary, Malcolm Hudson. Their chemistry is real from the beginning, but their lives are an ocean apart. The novel takes us through their romance with the end of Vivian and Maddie’s trip looming over them.

My favorite part about the novel is that it brought back that feeling of winter vacation as a kid when you had no responsibilities and were able to escape reality and get lost in the magic of Christmas. It also showed readers how important it is to not only treat yourself from time to time, but to be able to let go a bit and be open to new experiences, no matter your age. It gave readers a portrait of a fun, respectful romance between two partners who learned how to communicate well in a healthy way. I think we all need more examples of that. Overall, this was a sweet, romantic story about a couple learning to overcome the challenge of time and distance. I recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of romance novels, Christmas themed books, or both. It’s also a great introduction into the world of romance novels because this was my first one! I’m open to others now that I’ve tried one out! It was a quick read, I finished it in under a week so it’s perfect even for those of you that have a busy holiday season. So, you can read a bit here and there between baking Christmas cookies and finishing your holiday shopping and wrapping! It was a fun, festive read that helped get me even more in the Christmas spirit.  

Shop the Christmas books & movies referenced in this post!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com