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!

This Book Changed My Life Forever. No, Seriously.

Review: Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing & Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

As most women do, I struggle with a truly horrible habit: I am constantly saying “sorry”. I say “I’m sorry” and apologize for EVERYTHING. I apologize for almost bumping into someone in Target, for asking a family member for something I need, and even for what I perceive as inconveniencing anyone at all, even in the most minor of ways. My ex-boyfriend constantly told me to stop apologizing because I have nothing to be sorry for. And the thing is: I know this! But as women, we feel this need to over apologize for everything. I am constantly working on stopping this habit but it has been ingrained in me since childhood.

One day I saw a Facebook ad for a new book that was coming out called Girl, Stop Apologizing and I immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my (then) boyfriend telling him, “Wow, this looks like a book written for me!” I looked up the synopsis and decided that I needed to read it ASAP. The day the book was released, I went to my favorite Target location and purchased it immediately. I did not know much about the author Rachel Hollis so I did a quick Google search and realized she also wrote the New York Times Bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face. I saw that several of my sorority sisters and friends had read this so I looked into her further and saw how much she has helped women with her honesty, relatability, and tangible advice for living your best life as your truest self.

I started Girl, Stop Apologizing as the second book in my “12 Books in 2019” goal I had set for myself and was instantly captivated by what she had to say. Rachel discusses her successes and failures in building her career and personal life and gives true step-by-step advice on how to achieve your goals. She laid the book out in three easy-to-read parts titled “Excuses to Let Go Of”, “Behaviors to Adopt”, and “Skills to Acquire”. In each section, she includes a chapter for each excuse to let go of, behavior, and skill needed to stop apologizing for who you are and to start pursuing your dreams.

Of all the topics that she covered, the one that struck me the most was the idea of habits. She discusses a set of five daily habits she has called the “5 to Thrive”. These include drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, moving your body for 30 minutes, waking up an hour early to use the time for yourself, giving up one category of food to prove that you can, and writing down five things you are grateful for. As simple as these things are, they are tasks that have to be done with intentionality. On her social media platforms, she was promoting a challenge called “The Last 90 Days” where from October 1st through the end of the year, you complete every one of the 5 to Thrive items every single day. The idea is to start the new year off as your best self, rather than waiting until January 1st to start an unrealistic goal after recovering from the holidays. If you can change your habits, you can change your life.

I was skeptical but I was looking for a life change of some sort. My life was going ok. On the surface it was great: I’m living in a house with two incredible friends, I have the job I set out for and I’m learning every day, and I have an amazing family. But over a year of unresolved grief from the traumatic loss of my mother and childhood hardship, coupled with a severe lack of self-care was causing me to feel stuck and like I was not able to enjoy my life as much as I should be able to.

I found a therapist that I love who challenged and encouraged me to take small steps towards my health and wellness. When I read about the Last 90 Days Challenge, I knew this was EXACTLY what I needed. I’m currently writing this post on October 26th which means I’m not even a third of the way through the challenge but I can already tell you that it is truly and utterly life-changing. Yes, it sucks to wake up early, to make it a priority to workout even when I don’t want to, and it’s super inconvenient to have to run the bathroom all day long because HELLO, drinking that much water means that’s what happens. But I have never felt better in my entire life.

I know what you’re thinking: “You mean to tell me those little things changed you after only 26 days?” Yes, they did. And I’m not even a third of the way done with this. The power of this challenge is in the habits. Doing these little things every day is what got me to prioritize my health, my mental state, and my overall well-being. I start my day early, but with gratitude. During my one hour every day I list 5 specific things I’m grateful for, do some goal setting journaling, plan my day, meditate, and read a non-fiction personal development book. Then I get ready for work and start my day coming from a place of taking care of myself. I drink water ALL DAY LONG and I get in a great 30-minute workout after work. I am happier than I’ve been in so long and probably ever. There is such power in taking care of yourself intentionally and doing things that make you feel good. I am better able to show up for my life and others when I take care of myself and pour into my wellness. Whatever form this takes for you, I hope you find a daily routine or ritual that fulfills you every day with gratitude, self-care, and intentionality and you will start to see all the beautiful things in your life to appreciate fully.

This book is great for all women, honestly, but especially if there is something that you dream about in your life but you just don’t know where to begin. Personal development is something that everyone should strive for but sometimes books on the topic are more abstract or concept based and don’t always tell you exactly what methods to use to grow. Rachel Hollis give true tangible tools to use in your every day life and teaches her readers to create a road map to achieve big, audacious dreams using exactly what they have right now with who they are and their own tenacity.

Have you read Girl, Stop Apologizing? If so, what did you take away from it and what are some of your big dreams and goals? If not, do you plan to read it? I also did end up reading Girl, Wash Your Face. Let me know if you would like me to cover that as well!

And don’t forget: Your existence is to be celebrated. Don’t you ever apologize for it.

About the Author

My name is Lea and I am a 29-year-old living in northern California with a lifelong love for books. In college I majored in English literature & sociology with a minor in gender studies. But even with this liberal arts background, I somehow ended up in an unexpected career in the electrical construction industry working with some pretty incredible people. I have been wanting some sort of a creative outlet to help myself heal from some pretty tough life experiences and I have truly missed writing; so here we are! My hope is that my writings will help someone else who has experienced trauma or hardship to feel less alone. Our traumas do not define us, but the lessons they teach us help us to grow. My mom unexpectedly and suddenly passed away on Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. I also had some major unresolved childhood difficulties that have affected me into adulthood resulting in complex PTSD and anxiety. But even through all this, I have found true happiness in gratitude, learning to care for myself, and being excited about the future despite life’s adversities. This is by no means an easy journey, I must admit. But I was able to begin my healing process through reading, therapy, and reaching out. Asking for and seeking help is not admitting weakness; it is showing immense strength and resilience.

Life Meets Literature is where you can find book reviews, recommendations, and how those books have shaped me and helped to heal me. I will be writing about fiction, non-fiction, and even audiobooks. There will be some personal posts mixed in when they are relevant. I also wanted to write about what you want to read about! If there is a book that you want to know more about or a topic you want my perspective on, reach out to me on Instagram or via e-mail. I want to write content that you want to read!

Instagram: @LifeMeetsLiterature

E-mail: LifeMeetsLiterature@gmail.com

Some quick facts about me:

Favorite book – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Favorite genre – dystopian novels

Degree – BA in Sociology & English Literature with a minor & concentration in Gender Studies from the University of the Pacific 

Favorite Bookstore I’ve discovered so far – Copperfield’s Books in downtown Petaluma