Monday, March 12, 2018

Spectacular Spectacular!

Or My Monkey Mind and Moulin Rouge!...

Growing up, I was an incredibly hyperactive child. I have very vivid memories of the myriad of ways my mother attempted to quell my constant movement and motor mouth. The quiet game, in case you're unfamiliar, was a competition to see who could go the longest without making a peep (my big sister always won). I remember being tasked with trying to go from one commercial break of the Cosby Show to another while sitting in the same position, and failing miserably (I liked to sit like Mork from Ork, on my head). I was always in motion, and never shut up...while my big sister always appeared to be contemplating the universe and reading.

I don't know whether my hyperactive body slowed down because I packed on the pounds, or whether I packed on the pounds because my hyperactive body slowed down...but for one reason or another, between childhood and now, my body in constant motion has stopped. For those who know me in real life, you know my ability to talk your ear off didn't...but I've lost the inability to sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time. While I'm trying to remind my body that deep down it loves to move, that isn't the subject of this blog post. 

The part of this hyperactive person that never slowed down, just like my mouth, is my monkey mind.

For those unfamiliar with it, monkey mind is a Buddhist term meaning a restless, indecisive, uncontrollable, inconstant and confused mind. And mine is bouncing around from one thing to another at lightning speed constantly. It is one of the reasons I have so much trouble sleeping. The confused part I would never fess up to, but my brain is always going a mile a minute, and filled with a stream of chaotic tap-dancing. I spent ages trying to find a way to describe what it felt like to have a truly hyper crazy brain until I re-watched Moulin Rouge about a year ago. 

If you've never watched the movie Moulin Rouge, you're missing quite the experience. The 2001 film by Baz Luhrmann was a huge hit. I fell in love with it on my first viewing...purchased the DVD, both music CDs, and listened to the movie's version of Lady Marmalade WAY more than I'd like to admit. 

The film is vivid and chaotic, with crazy musical numbers and beautiful costume design. I watched it last night with my daughter and her two best-friends who are visiting from out of town for Spring Break, since neither had seen it before, and one remarked that she felt she was being assaulted by it instead of viewing it! It's a little out there...

But when I watched it a year ago with my son, while my husband was deployed, I told my beloved oldest child that one of the musical numbers was a perfect expression of what was going on in my brain at all times. The background noise of music lyrics and random ideas that is can-canning around while I'm trying to sleep...cook...write this blog post...concentrate on anything, really. 

I would try to set the scene for y'all...but as an illustration, it probably works better without any background. The musical number is called Spectacular, Spectacular...

I used to say that I had a song and dance man tapping around with jazz hands in my head, but I think this illustrates it a bit better. My brain is always on overdrive. I constantly have a song playing in there...usually something old and obscure, although I did go on a walk with my husband recently with the song Dance Off by Macklemore floating around on repeat. I have ideas of a million projects bubbling up. Old memories of the good and bad variety playing on a movie screen in the background. And then we have the worrier and critic sitting front and center, analyzing everything I do or say...everything I DON'T do or say...everything it thinks I SHOULD do or say, etc. That's the worst. 

I honestly think that part of the reason why I am constantly looking at my phone is the boredom that comes from having a pretty hyper brain. My phone habits go something like this: hop over to Instagram and peruse, then pop over to my Bible app and read a passage, then check my bank balance, then check the weather, then hop over to Twitter to angrily see what people are complaining about today, then pop over to Pinterest to look at house inspiration and recipes, then back over to Instagram, then oooh maybe I have an email, then let's see what's going on over at Facebook, then back over to Instagram, then a selfie to my girls on Snapchat, etc. It's a means of distracting the monkey mind. 

Right now my inner worrier and critic spends most of it's time fretting over my lack of a job, and over the blog you are currently reading. Well, that and my body...and my face. LOL But mostly where I'm going with the blog and my future. I'm pretty sure I put too much pressure on myself internally, and I overanalyze until it ends up paralyzing me to movement. It's a thing. 

But monkey mind is really and truly a huge part of my life. And mine looks a lot like the Moulin Rouge. Most of the time I don't mind it a whole lot. I'm pretty good at coming up with ideas for things. It came in handy when coming up with creative projects at my last job. But it isn't great when it comes to following through with those ideas necessarily, although that wasn't an issue in a professional context. When I'm the only person relying on that follow through though, I'm not as great at it. 

I'm sure I'd benefit from yoga and meditation, especially when that inner critic gets to be a little too overbearing. I've done meditation in the past, and do it sporadically at present...mainly when I'm suffering from an epic dance number interrupting my chance at even a modicum of sleep. Oh, and I also pray when it all gets to be a little too much.

But then a part of me thinks that I have the brain of a creative genius. I may not be using it to it's full capacity, but surely people like Mozart and...I don't know...J.K. Rowling, have mad monkey mind. That just like me they have/had technicolor brains filled with a veritable symphony of chaotic images and thoughts. The difference is that they were better at harnessing that restless, constantly shifting stream of inspiring can-cannery, and turn it into liquid gold. I, on the other hand, have cried myself to sleep one night because of a monkey mind meltdown that went something like this: when looking at my face after washing it before bed I started ruminating too much over my old acne scars, which led to thoughts of how I didn't take good care of myself for too many years, which led to a total meltdown about what I'm doing with my life and whether staying at home with my kids was a worthy use of 18 years of MY life and whether they felt that they got any benefit from it (yes, I texted and asked both of them mid meltdown), and how it sucks that I don't have the degrees to pursue a job I'm intelligent enough for, and what on earth do I want to do with my life anyway, and why does my number of followers on Instagram go up and down the same amount EVERY DAMN DAY to where it ends up being pretty much the same thing, and why don't they all like me, I mean seriously, what is it about a photo of a book that could make them unfollow me after following me to begin with, and is it possible to make money off a blog because Lord knows I spend a shit load of time doing blog related stuff, and my LORD my husband would love to retire eventually and me having a job would help, and why don't I have any friends in Virginia, and why after spending too many hours perusing the internet do I find myself wanting a Louis Vuitton purse when I hate purses with logos on them, and what do I even WANT in life, and aren't you supposed to have goals, I really need some goals, and I need to get some more of those hormone patches because I am truly turning into an old crone and I know that I have a lot of hair but it's still coming out in bunches in the shower and I'm SO sick of getting ZITS!?!?!

All to the tune of Night Fever by the Bee Gees and Somebody's Baby by Jackson Browne, which are two of my default can can songs. They are like screensaver songs for me. OH, and while that meltdown is happening and songs are playing, I'm also compiling my grocery list and seeing Instagram flat lays in my head. Flat lays in pretty hues of the blush pink, mint green and robin's egg blue variety. And hot damn it's almost Easter, so you can add some flowers and birds chirping to that picture too.

So, Spectacular Spectacular. Watch that YouTube clip and get a glimpse of what my brain feels like. And know that it's possible to look pretty chilled out and sit on the couch too much, and yet still have major hyperactive monkey mind going on underneath the hood.

Hopefully I haven't scared you off...and you'll feel for your ADHD having kid or cousin/nephew, if you didn't already! I'd love to know if there are any other monkey mind sufferers out there. If so, please leave a comment below! OH, and let me know if you loved Moulin Rouge, or felt assaulted by it! 😜

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Secret to Southern Charm Book Review

I have written time and time again on the blog about how much I love the south, so I will keep it brief and try not to bore you with oodles and oodles of gush. The recap would be that, although born in Oregon, I moved to Louisiana at 15, and am in love with pretty much all things Southern (yes, I can think of bad things also but I prefer to think of the good...). The South has snared my heart, and although there's a huge section of the Southern United States that I haven't yet visited, we'll just label me a Southern Living subscription holding fan.

When a blogging friend reached out and asked if I, a) liked Southern fiction, b) didn't mind chick lit/beachy reads, and c) would like to read her friend's book that would be coming out in April...I jumped all over it! And when said book arrived signed by the author, I swooned in true southern-belle style. 😂 (I'm trying to paint a picture for y'all...) I truly haven't got used to signed books...and still lose my shit over them.

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey is the second installment of the Peachtree Bluff Series, and has a release date of April 3rd, 2018. I hadn't read the first in the series, but it didn't keep me from following the story...although I purchased it as soon as I finished this one. I also asked the author if she's working on a book 3, and thank the heavens above, she is.

The book begins with Sloane hiding away in the room that belongs to her at her mother's house in Peachtree Bluff, succumbing to grief after finding out that her military husband is missing in action during a deployment. Her two little boys are being looked after by her mother Ansley, and her two sisters Caroline and Emerson. After hiding away in there for a month, re-reading love letters and watching home movies, she's finally talked into returning to her life for the sake of her boys and the love of her family.

Ansley has her hands full with all three grown kids at home for the summer, and care-taking for both her grandchildren and her aging mother who moved in. She loves nothing more than being there to help her family, which is the most important thing to her, even if it's put a kink in both the time spent at her design firm and her love life. She's told her old beau that she can't see him anymore, that her hands are full with her kids...but there's more to it than that. Although her girls think of her as being the most vanilla woman around, she's keeping a secret from her past that she's convinced could destroy her present.

The novel is told from both Ansley and Sloane's point of view, and through their day to day living and memories of days past, we're left wondering what their futures will look like. Will Sloane be able to move on in her life? Will she ever get closure, and will people stop thinking she's delusional for believing her husband is still alive? Will Ansley decide her happiness is just as important as her children's? And are there communities out there as lovely in real life as Peachtree Bluff????

I absolutely adored this book. I have to be honest with you, when it starts off with a deployment missing in action situation, as a military wife, I braced myself for one of two things. Either it wouldn't feel realistic to me, as I've found a lot of fictionalized military life to be so far away from my real world experiences that it's turned me off what might've been a great story. Or it would hit so close to home and real world military wife worries that I wouldn't be able to read it. To me, the story was closer to real world but mixed so beautifully in a story of family and love that it made it readable. I'm pretty sure every military wife has wondered if they'd be able to tell if something had happened to their husband while they were deployed. Would you wake up in the middle of the night and just know? I felt like the depiction of military life and deployment living was really accurate, down to the hidden credit card bill from buying your children thing to make up for their daddy being gone. I can SO relate.

Along with the military story line, I loved everything about Peachtree Bluff, and this family. They are not all perfect, and holy cow have the girls underestimated the life their mother has lived! But the town reminds me of a southern Stars Hollow (of Gilmore Girls fame)...a place that seems so perfect, it can only live in fiction. The minor characters were wonderful and fully fleshed out, the setting painted with vivid colors, and Lord if I could have my last birthday be like the Grammy's!!

This book is definitely sweet tea and sunshine wrapped up in binding, with a pretty lady in her swimsuit on the cover. Once again I'd say that I'm probably gravitating towards the more lighthearted books at the moment because I'm yearning for summer, and my mind isn't in the right place for thrillers and suspense. But I read this book cover to cover in one sitting, staying up WAY past my bedtime in the process, and immediately gushing on twitter (at like 3 am) that I LOVED it. I think you'll definitely enjoy it if you're a fan of Southern books and settings, beachy reads, and books that cover family dynamics and mother/daughter relationships.

A huge thanks again to Kristy Woodson Harvey for sending me The Secret to Southern Charm! I can't wait to read Slightly South of Simple...even if it means reading the books out of order. I need more Ansley and her daughters.

I hope everyone is doing well this week! I am a little off my game, so not as many Instagram posts and I didn't film the videos I intended to. My sweet Bella dog is having issues with her back legs, so we're doing the whole pain meds until x-rays can be done thing. That combined with some family members having health issues, and not being close to home, has made for a slightly melancholy Christina. I've eaten more points than I should have. I haven't moved my body enough, or done the self-care that I should have. Really the only thing I've kept up with is my Bible reading. I attach this to the end of my blog post to say that enough is enough, and I'm publicly stating I'm ending this funk now. Next week is Spring Break and I'll have my daughter and two of her best friends here...which should be a blast! So, no more depressed me. That being said, please send some oomph, prayers and positive thoughts our direction if you could...because I can use all the help I can get!!
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Monday, March 5, 2018

Fave Spring & Easter Decor

Today, in my neck of the woods, it is absolutely beautiful outside. The sky is that particular shade of blue that invites you to venture out and take photos...or in my case, stare longingly outside because it's still right around freezing and my slippers and blanket are too welcoming to give up. Meanwhile, at my old stomping ground in North Dakota, they are gearing up for a massive blizzard that is expected to dump huge amounts of snow and force everyone to hunker down for a bit until everything can be cleared away and life can resume it's normal pace. In other words, it's the beginning of March...and I am ready for Spring.

I want pastel, bubble-gum colored flowers popping out of the dirt. Scarves to be stashed away, and the winter parka replaced by the cute jacket in a fun color. For once, I'm okay with holiday decor showing up in the shops WAY early because it means fun pastel colors that speak to my inner girly-girl.

So, I thought it would be fun to create one of my Etsy shopping lists...and this time devote it to Spring Decor, with a dash of Easter thrown in for good measure! I love shopping on Etsy, and finding unique items for my house, and to buy as gifts for the people I love. If you haven't seen my other shopping guides you can find them here. Hopefully you'll see something you like in the mix!

 Round Bamboo crossbody purse on Etsy

Okay, I know the title says Decor, and I'm starting out with a purse...but cut me some slack. One of the hottest trends for this spring is bamboo/wicker/basket style purses. Trust me on this, I spend a LOT of time perusing the Instagram stories of the ladies who are starting these trends, and they won't shut up about them. will find these suckers cropping up in all of the shops for Spring, and I actually think they are pretty cute...well, except for that GIGANTIC round one from that ONE shop that is SO HUGE I don't know how anyone can take the listing seriously. But this one that I found at StArmandsDesigns for $50 would look amazing with various outfits in the warmer weather. Dressed up with a cute spring/summer maxi, dressed down with some white shorts/jeans and a cute top...I'm telling ya, you will be seeing these things everywhere as it starts warming up. Plus, I'm always looking for an excuse to buy a new purse. 

 Bunny Wreath on Etsy

Call me old fashioned, but I like a good wreath. And spring is the perfect time to brighten up your front porch with something perky and cute...hence my first of two selections, the Bunny Wreath! I actually picked a slightly different bunny wreath first, and by the time I went to put this post together they were all sold the entire shop was sold out of every style of wreath (and they were GORGEOUS!). All this does is bolster my confidence in picking things out for y'all! LOL Anyway, I think these little green bunnies with customizable bows are adorable, and they can be found at EverBloomingOriginal for $59

 Farmhouse Spring Placemats

There is an ongoing feud in my house between my husband and me/my daughter, and it centers around tablecloths. My husband loves them, and has bought the exact same white with tonal stripes tablecloth probably 5 times in the past 5 years...and we keep trying in vain to replace it with cute placemats. My stance is that tablecloths are too old-fashioned (and not in a good way) and look WAY dated and tired (at least in my house)...whereas a gorgeous table set with a glorious array of placemats that change with the season and occasion are the way to go! I'm currently losing the fight. But, if I weren't, I would have these adorably simple and understated burlap placemats with a cute little bunny on the side gracing my table in the lead-up to Easter. You can find these at HunnyBooCreations for $16+, and I have to tell you...that shop has quite a few designs that I would gladly purchase, including one with pastel peeps and another with a cute bunny from the back with a little white fuzzy tail

 Life is a Beautiful Ride Chalk Print

I think this beautiful chalk print from ChalkBoss for $17+ screams Springtime! As someone who plays with fonts and graphics online regularly, I'm a complete sucker for beautiful typography. And I'm envious of the folks who can create writing that looks beautiful with their hands and not the click of their fingers...not to mention artistic folks who can take chalk and draw a gorgeous bicycle filled with spring blooms. This print would add a dash of spring to any space in your house, and buying prints off Etsy is a very economical way to switch up your decor...especially if you're someone like me who changes their mind and decides they want to go with a different style at the blink of an eye.

 Tulip Wreath

Hopefully this, my second wreath on the shopping list, will still be available after I hit it looks like they're selling like hotcakes...but tulips are my favorite flower and I've been coveting these gorgeous tulip wreaths on Etsy for YEARS! The shop, ElegantWreaths, has tons of tulip wreaths to choose from and thousands of amazing reviews, so if this one (that goes for $85+ and can be customized) is sold out, hop on over here and check out the rest. I think these wreaths look so classy, and would make such a grand statement on the right front porch. I am absolutely smitten. 

 Shower fizzies on Etsy

Okay, I'm breaking my decor rule again, and this time for some Shower Fizzies from Lizush for $18+.  First off, if these don't look like Spring to you, I don't know what does. But Spring is a time for treating ourselves for surviving another winter of dry and gray skin (there's a reason Glotion was trending this winter), and I'm still a firm believer in Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance rule of having a little stash of indulgences to pull out every once in awhile and treat yourself with. (everybody had that book, right??) I, for one, haven't taken a relaxing back since I moved away from Germany and my huge corner spa I haven't been able to indulge in the bath bomb craze like everyone else. Enter shower fizzies, the ultimate solution! These are bath bombs for the shower...little essential oil aromatherapy fizzies to set in your shower...something that will turn the ordinary into the zen like. Count me in!! 

 Bunny Plates

Ahhh, adorable hand-decorated dessert sized bunny plates. I'm honestly not sure what else I need to say, as to me these pretty much speak for themselves. They would look perfect on top of those burlap placemats on a table WITHOUT a tablecloth! (y'all are going to have to leave a comment whether you're with me or my husband on this one) The plates are $25 at MaldenMercantile and if bunnies aren't your thing, they even have spring chicks! So cute in that minimalist style that part of me loves (what can I say, I'm very Gemini). 

Floral Paper Plates

And if handwashing fancy dessert plates is not your thing, let me introduce you to these gorgeous floral PAPER plates from ShopCelebrationLane for $5.50. I've actually purchased pretty paper plates off Amazon before also for a comparable price, but there's something about shopping on Etsy that I enjoy, and I don't think I've found this particular style on there before. (but don't get me wrong...I'm still an Amazon girl) Paper plates CAN look classy, and these are the perfect style for book clubs, coffee with your girlfriend, baby showers, or when you want to make your lunch look special. Beautiful paper plates need to have a stash of these suckers just because. (I think my husband tossed my stash when we moved. Note to self, replenish stash.)

 Hipster Bunny Towel on Etsy

It's kind-of funny that I'm including a holiday themed towel on my list because this weekend I pared down on my holiday bath towels...but these are kitchen it's different. I know a lot of people go ga-ga over Rae Dunn items, of which I have none, and these towels have a font "inspired" by the Rae Dunn items...but I just thought they were cute. Bunnies wearing cute glasses in kitchen towel form are a fun way to Easter-up your house. You can find these hipsters at FarmhouseVinylCo for $12

 Easter Bunny on Etsy

Normally I wouldn't put an item made in Italy on a holiday/season themed list because I'm not sure whether it would arrive on time, but this bunny is too cute not to include. TramaiCeramics has this little guy for sale at $24.24 and he makes my heart sing, as cheesy as that feels to type. He is just SO freakin' CUTE!! I want him sitting on my desk, or on my mantle, or sitting on my end table...hanging out with his buddies in a field of fake Easter grass on a seasonal basis, or watching me type blog posts year round. I just love him. The more I stare at him while typing, the more I want to give him a Ferdinand or Bernard. I'm stopping now....

Since I've included Easter decor on the shopping list, I would never want to forget that for most people Easter is about more than chocolate and bunnies. While throw pillows are a great way to change up your house for Spring, and this pillow cover is beautiful, it is also a reminder of what Easter truly means to a lot of us. You can find it at LivingwithAmanda for $28+

 Bloom Pillow

OOH, and since at the time of writing this (March 5th) LivingwithAmanda is having a buy 2 get 15% off sale, I thought I'd include this beautiful Bloom Where You Are Planted Spring Pillow cover for $31.99! It is SURE to brighten up your house, especially next to a pretty pink flower and gorgeous white linens like in their gorgeous photo!! Absolutely stunning. 

I hope you've enjoyed my Spring & Easter Decor List because I had a blast perusing one of my favorite shopping sites, using y'all as an excuse! March is the perfect time to spruce up your environment with some bright and shiny to push out the gray dreariness of winter. 

OOH, and I'm dying to know if you are pro tablecloth or are on my side...I promise I'll still love you no matter what. (I'm still married to the guy buying all those white tablecloths...)
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Friday, March 2, 2018

Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt with In60Learning

 Hatshepsut The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt by In60Learning Review on Tomes and Tequila

I was contacted recently by the co-creator of what sounded like a pretty cool publishing company with a very intriguing "product" that I thought might be of interest to y'all, so I jumped on the chance to give it a review.

In60Learning has basically realized that none of us have a lot of time to devote to reading giant biographies on historical figures, or to brush up on the things that we didn't pay attention to in history class (or was that just me??) so they made books and audiobooks that can be read in 60 minutes. Their current selection is mainly historical in subject, but I've been told that science and technology are on the way.

I think the idea behind it is great, I like to think of myself as a life-long learner, and I actually didn't pay any attention to history in school, which is really funny since I live in a house full of Historians. I've always enjoyed reading biographies, and you know how much I love nonfiction. I basically suffer from wanting to know too much, and having too little time to consume all of what I yearn to learn. So to read up on Charlemagne or Marilyn Monroe in an hour, and come out of it feeling like I actually learned something...and not like I read a fluff piece...really appeals to me. I think it would be great for the extremely busy, commuters, parents of little ones, or people who just can't focus through a gigantic tome of a history book. (and while I'm thinking of it, why do they seem to make those sorts of books SO damn BIG?!?)

I was sent a link to all of the In60Learning books available on Amazon, and told to take my pick. I chose a biography titled Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt because I knew who it was, but didn't REALLY know the background and thought I'd enjoy spending an hour in Ancient Egypt. While I was there, I did notice that most of their books can be read free if you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, which I actually AM (shhh, don't tell my husband) so I will probably read a few more, which is getting ahead of myself and telling you a little about how this review is going to go but...I thought it was an important fact to point out.

So tonight, after dinner was done, and while my husband watched a re-run of The Andy Griffith Show and my son fiddled on his computer, I spent an hour reading about Hatshepsut.

First off, there weren't any weird formatting issues or odd misspelling problems/punctuation flub-ups that are sometimes found on smaller books, or if so they were meager enough to not be of note. I mean nothing disparaging to self-publishers or small publishing companies, but I have read one too many kindleunlimited book that had so many mistakes I stopped keeping track. I know I'm not the only one to see them, and I have read authors stories of just how hard it is to format books for self-publishing, so I really do feel for them. But it's common enough of a problem that I wanted to make note of the fact that this book was formatted and put together wonderfully.

And secondly, I thought the book was very well written. It had the heft of a true historical biography. It wasn't filled with fluff, or dumbed down in any way. It was laid out in a manner that made sense, felt well-researched, and I'm pretty sure I learned something...which is rare in an hour of my reading time!

I found it incredibly intriguing how her successor Thutmose III basically erased her from history, chiseling her name off of things and destroying what she'd built during her reign. Or how he'd moved her body from the burial chamber she'd built for herself...the one that included lewd graffiti! I also enjoyed reading how she started the merging of male and female when speaking of Pharaohs, and how that continued well after her reign.

Basically, the fact that I managed to retain enough info to write that paragraph without looking back at the book means that reading it was a success! I just might be able to answer a trivia question or two if given the chance!!

All joking aside, I really did enjoy reading Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt, and I do think the whole idea behind these books is pretty dang cool. If you're short on time, or just don't have the patience to devote to big ole history books but want to build on your knowledge base, these just might be the ticket.

So, if you're interested in In60Learning, and find the idea of learning in bite-sized chunks appealing, you can visit this link to sign up for their Learning List. The Learning List will allow you to receive updates on new releases, promos, and contribute ideas for upcoming work! Feel free to click right here and get more info.

And now I'm really curious how many people read nonfiction historical biographies in their spare time. If you do, please leave a comment below because inquiring minds (meaning me) want to know!!

 Tomes and Tequila on FB

OOH, and before I go...I'm starting a Virtual Book Club! The book we'll be reading for March is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I'll be tossing a few things out about the book during the month, and then I'll be doing a Live FB chat on the 29th of March at 9 pm EST to discuss the book with EVERYONE! I hope you'll stop by and join in the fun!! I also have an incredibly cool surprise lined up for April so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Power of Prayer

Or How I Asked God for a Sign and He Sent Me the Pope...

First off, before I even get into this post, I'd like to say that even if you're not a Christian, I hope you'll read this. By most people's accounts, I'm not what you'd call a great Christian example, and am probably not "qualified" to write a whole lot on the subject of Christianity. I don't go to church every Sunday. My mother was raised in a beat-your-children Catholic household, and had zero interest in doing anything that her parents she told my sister and me that we could figure out what we wanted to do when we were adults. This resulted in a ME who is still, at 42 yo, trying to find a church that feels like home. But although CHURCH wasn't a big part-of my life as a kid, prayer always was. 

For as long as I can remember, I have always prayed. I have very early memories, ones that I know come before the age of 5, of praying with my older sister before bed at night. I believe that my mother told my sister that she was supposed to say them with me, and at some point said sister decided she was done reciting things with my pipsqueak self, because the prayer I said all the way through high school went something like this: 
God I love you very much, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, plus Mommy, Daddy, Sissy and Me, and Charlie, Shady, Springfield, Garfield, Bupo, Killroy, etc....
This prayer tells you a few of things. One is that I clearly got mixed up on the classic bedtime prayer, and made it something completely my own. Then we have the fact that we owned a lot of animals, and named them after very 80's things because I added every pet we ever owned in the lineup after my family. The above are two cats, one dog, and a few birds...but the list went on a lot farther, I just didn't want to bore all of you! And last we have the knowledge that I came up with this extremely early in my life because I have zero recollection of ever referring to my older sister as "Sissy"...and yet I called her that in my prayers until I was married.

As a child I wholeheartedly believed in prayer, and that stayed with me into adulthood. Even when I haven't attended a church regularly, I have always read the Bible and prayed. I taught my children how to pray, although they initially said the prayers that they learned in the British schools they attended as little ones. I have had some incredibly devout friends over the years, and inevitably we would have a conversation that went something like this: insert defensive Christina "Just because I didn't grow up going to church every Sunday doesn't mean I'm not a Christian and I don't believe in God. I read the Bible. I pray. And anytime I have ever prayed and prayed, and asked God to help me out with something, it's worked out." Normally this would end with said friend telling me to chill out.

I write all of this now to say that I'm a bit flummoxed by the hatred towards prayer at the moment. Now, I'm not talking about politicians not working on a problem and simply praying a problem away. And I'm not about to start talking politics on this blog because that is SO not my thing. I'm talking about venom being thrown at someone who says they will pray for a person who is going through an issue or a crisis.

For example, Director Kevin Smith recently had a massive heart attack and Chris Pratt wrote on Twitter how big of a fan he was, and how he would be praying for Kevin because he believes in the healing power of prayer. You would think that he'd just outed himself as chester the molester for all the abuse that was hurled at him. The comments went from vile to things like Doctors and Nurses heal, prayer doesn't, etc...or just plain outrage.

Of course Doctors and Nurses heal, but Chris Pratt is neither of those, and what can he do for Kevin Smith?? I mean, you can send a card or something else...but what could praying for someone possibly hurt? And why would it be a bad thing? What you're effectively doing...even if you remove God from the putting out good energy and sending love to another person. If you keep God in there, you're asking for help from a higher power. Would I want no Doctor and just some guy to pray over my broken and bloody body in an accident? But would I want everyone to pray for me while a trained Doctor was working on me in the event of said accident? Heck yeah! Because I believe that there is something to it.

I'm sure that part of my faith in prayer is because I feel like I've seen examples of God answering them before. Now, he may not answer them the way you think they should be answered...but in my experience, he is in fact listening. I thought I'd share with you the biggest and most personal example of this in my life.

A little over ten years ago, I was in a very bad place emotionally and about as low as a person could get. I'm not going to go into the details, but believe me when I say that it was rough and I don't even like thinking about it a whole lot. I was at a fork in the road, and was fretting over a decision that I'd made...and incredibly unsure over whether it was the right one. All of this coincided with a last hoorah trip to Rome with family before we moved back to the States from Europe.

After arriving in Rome, and dropping our things off at our hotel, we immediately headed towards the Vatican to show our visiting family a few places with the expectation of returning the next day for the full tour. My husband's brother and his wife are Catholic, and decided to walk in a small chapel outside St. Peter's Basilica to pray. I immediately felt the urge to go inside and do the same. So I walked into this dark and reverent space, and quietly moved to a spot in the back pew away from everyone else, and I prayed. Surrounded by people praying in many different languages, from all over the world, I prayed like I'd never prayed before. I told God that I didn't know what to do...that I needed help...that I was lost...and I needed a sign. I begged for a sign that I'd made the right decision, that everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be okay. Then I wiped the tears from my eyes, and left the building.

The next day my husband and I were given one of the most glorious gifts you can ever give parents...the gift of sleeping in. Our visiting family had taken the kids to the Vatican museum, and we were meeting them for lunch. We woke up and got ready at a leisurely pace, and then left to meander out way to our meeting spot. We remarked on how quiet Rome appeared...hardly any traffic or people walking around. It was bordering on eerie. And then as we got closer to the Vatican we could hear something...the sound of someone we started walking a bit faster. And that's when we stumbled on the Pope. That's right...the Pope was speaking in front of St. Peter's Basilica...and the place was FILLED with people!! And we had NO IDEA this was happening. Right as we walked up, and I pulled my video camera out, he started speaking in English...and he blessed everyone who was there, and their families. It was impossible, regardless of your faith, not to feel the love when standing there among all of those believers. It was palpable. We stood there basically filled with shock and awe.

Why yes, that is the Pope behind me...
And that's when I realized that I'd been given my sign...about the biggest sign that God could possibly give out...The Pope. He knew I needed something large for me to see it, and know that it was from him...and you can't get much bigger than that. Not to mention the feeling of standing there in the middle of that many people praying simultaneously. St. Peter's square holds 141,000 people. That's a lot of people praying...and anyone who has stood with that many people praying at the same time would tell you that it is a tangible thing you can physically matter your faith.

The funny aside to the story is that the very Catholic family that was visiting never got to see the Pope. They were in the uncrowded museums with our children, completely unaware of what was going on outside...and so angry afterwards that they wouldn't even watch my video footage! Ahhh...back in the day before we all had cell phones to text and say "Get out here, you're missing the Pope!!".

So...flawed Christian that I am...I believe in prayer. If you don't, that's okay...but it's not hurting anyone for ME to pray. And if I hear that something is going on in your life...a health issue, a problem with your child, someone in your family is sick, etc...and I care for you, chances are you WILL be in my prayers. Because sometimes there's nothing else I can do. And if there is a God (which I believe there is), then maybe praying will help...and if me and all the other believers are wrong, then did it really hurt to have us thinking about you, sending our love, and hoping that things will get better for you?? Because for nonbelievers it's just semantics right? Is there really a difference between thinking to yourself "wow, I feel bad that suchandsuch's husband was just diagnosed with cancer. I hope they're okay." and "God, please watch over suchandsuch. Her husband was just diagnosed with cancer. Please let her feel your love, and let your healing touch reach her husband."??

I'd also like to remind everyone, because I think people forget at times, that a lot of people believe and practice prayer...not just Christians. Eastern religions use meditation as a form of prayer. We all know Muslims pray. But even followers of the Pagan or Wiccan faiths use prayer. There may be different words for it, and a slightly different way of going about it, but it's still prayer folks.

 Dawn Welburn - Reawaken Through Touch FB Page
A healing prayer written by my big sis

As for me...Catholic or not...when you ask for a sign and are given the continue to pray. You pray your booty off. Because from where I'm sitting, God was right. I made the right decision, and everything DID work out. It doesn't always work out the way you think it's going to, but it usually does.

So maybe cut us pray-ers a little slack. I'd say the majority of us are just asking for a little extra help to go along with the love and whatever other action we're using in any given situation. I think this is on my mind more right now because I have a few family members and friends that I love dearly that are going through medical issues, and all I can do at the moment is pray. Pray that they will be healed. Pray that they will have strength as they go through their ordeal. Pray for their family members as they fret and caretake. Pray for the Doctors that treat them. Pray for Peace if things don't go the way that we want them to. Because sometimes that's all you can do. And I pray that God will ease my worried mind at that realization.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Match Made in Manhattan Book Review

 Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer on Tomes and Tequila

I have another Booksparks book review for y'all! Huge thanks to them for sending me another lovely white box filled with pink squiggly paper confetti goodness and a book to perk me up from the dreary winter doldrums I've been drowning in. (Perhaps I shouldn't drink wine before I write blog posts because that was quite a dramatic sentence??)

I found this latest book to be entertaining for a myriad of reasons. The biggest one being that the website is talked about a LOT in my house, as my husband is of the mind that a certain child of mine should be searching for his wife on there right now. Personally, I have not dated since the early 90's, and that was as a I can't even fathom what it would be like to try and find a prospective partner in 2018, as a full grown adult. It seems like it gets harder and harder to meet new people in person, and outside work, it can be a struggle to find people you talk to enough to make a connection with. In comes Internet Dating to bridge that gap!

And in comes Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer*, a book all about a woman's quest to find the right man on

Alison has had two fairly long and serious relationships, and travels in a circle of close friends who all went to school together. After she breaks up with her boyfriend, she finds herself lonely and looking for a relationship with someone who she hasn't known for years. So she decides to enter the world of, makes a profile and sets out to find love online. What comes next is a hilarious mix of odd dates with strange men, fun times with her friends, and angst over when is the right time to get intimate with a new man.

This quote was made purely to show my daughter's guy friends that all chicks dig guys in Henleys.
I really enjoyed this, and thought it was a fun book to read. Her pants speech, when she tells men that she's enjoying her date with them, but they aren't getting in her pants tonight, was a nice and clever twist...and I thought it was hilarious that all of her friends made jokes about it...and it was something she was known for. Alison's little eccentricities were what made this a fun book, and not a parody. The fact that she stayed friends with everyone she dated, bar one, was also something I found fresh. This wasn't a book full of man-bashing or anything, just a lady trying to find the right guy. It was full of heartwarming stories, and the cast of characters were intriguing and memorable.

As someone who has been married for eons, it was great to spend a little time in the life of a woman on her quest to find "the one". It was a quick read, and a perfect book to spend time with while the weather has been all gray and rainy. It would also be a good beach read...something fun and perky to peruse while drinking a beverage with an umbrella sticking out of it. Humorous and clever chick-lit made to entertain.

So big thanks again to Booksparks for sending Match Made in Manhattan to me! I have been suffering from the winter blues, and this was the right book at the right time.
 *my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Curating Your Best Life

Or my list of Bs...

As I've mentioned previously on the blog, I'm very much trying to live my life with intention, and not be as reactive as I've been before. I've always taken things as they've come, and been very spontaneous and fly by the seat of your pants...rarely with a plan or agenda. So for me, using a planner...setting goals...writing out action plans...all of that is new. I've tried various schemes in the past, but none of it stuck or made much of an impact. But it's hard to conquer the world, become a badass, or make any real changes, if all you're doing is putting out fires and reacting to the things that are coming at you. 

I've joked that this blog and my new YouTube channel is, at the moment, me throwing a bunch of disjointed things out into the world and hoping some of it sticks. But I sat down the other night with paper and pen, hoping to find some clarity, and decided that for me it really is about curating your best life. It's what I'm attempting to do. And all of the pieces I'm writing, the videos I'm filming, and the pictures I'm putting on Instagram, are all centered on things I'd decided I wanted to focus on in my attempt to do just that. But without laying the master plan out for anyone to see, it might not be apparent to anyone else. So, this is the beginning post of me laying out that plan for you to see. I hope it will make some sense, and that it sounds like a journey you might want to go on with me. 

Laying in bed one night I was thinking about my life, my priorities, and what was important to me. The things I wanted to focus on. Things I wanted to work on. Areas that were central to who I am and where I'm going. (This explains a lot about why I have trouble sleeping, yes??) And I wanted to name them, write them out, really put pen to paper and start making a plan for once, to ensure that I'm nurturing the areas that are vital to the new and improved me...and not wasting time on things that are irrelevant. But I also wanted to have an easy way to remember them. 

Hence the Bs. A grand cheesy-sounding master scheme planned out by yours truly.

All of the areas that I wanted to focus on. All of the things that were important to me, that I needed to work on a daily basis, could be categorized by words that start with the letter B! How incredibly clever of me!! Maybe I could remember them this way?? 

So I made a page in my bullet journal for each category, and when I moved into my Filofax I moved the lists over there. At the top of the page I wrote in big letters my B word, and then I listed all of the things I could think of to do that related to that word. I basically did a giant brain dump, and now when I'm planning out my days/weeks, I'm going to those lists and trying to grab items off of them to put into my baby routines to INTENTIONALLY put my energy into the areas that are important to me. 

Now the B words, or my specific words and the way I'm using any of this, may not work for you. But the idea behind it is pretty solid. Sometimes we have a disconnect between what we feel in our heart is a priority, and what we are physically doing on a day to day basis. We may say that friendships are a priority, but what are we doing regularly to tend to our most precious relationships?? Or we think that family is #1, but we are always putting work first. I know that I'm letting my self-help-book-reading-freak-flag-fly, but I truly believe that you can benefit from taking some time to at least think about...if not sit down with paper and pen and write out...what is important to you, and what you can do to nurture those areas. And then try your hardest to do some of those things. Because even a marginal effort is better than letting something be an afterthought. 

I figured I would share with you MY Bs, and it'll most definitely give you an inside glimpse into why my content looks like it does. These are a reflection of my priorities and things that are important to me, and also areas that I felt I needed to improve on. They are all a part of me trying to curate my best life (which I'd thought of using as the subheading for my blog actually...well Curating Your Best Life). 
  • BEAU
  • BODY
  • BASE
  • BLOG
Clearly you can see that I took a little artistic license in coming up with these categories, and I'll briefly explain my thoughts behind them...but I honestly could probably do a blog post each to really delve into the items I have written down and how I'm putting them into action on a day to day basis to make a difference in my life. And whether or not I feel that it's working. That is if even one of you reading finds this interesting!! 😉

Beliefs is where I've put everything centered around my spirit and faith. I'm trying to grow in this area, and make it a larger part of my life so my list includes things like reading the Bible every day, listening to sermons and Christian podcasts, keeping a prayer journal, a gratitude journal, exploring local churches, reading devotionals, spending time in quiet prayer and reflection, etc. This is one area where my list, and making a clear and conscious decision to intentionally work on adding these items into my life has really paid off. 

Beau is all about my relationship with my husband. This year we'll have our 25th anniversary, and I never want to take him for granted. I want to ensure that he knows he's loved and cared for. This incredibly cheesy list is full of date night ideas we will probably never use because we're too busy drinking beer and watching home improvement shows to leave the house. But I have reminders that his love language is not the same as mine, and I need to remember that unlike me he'd prefer I made the floor so clean you could eat off it, or I made sure there wasn't a single book outside of my bookshelf in the office instead of writing him a long love letter. 

My Brain list is probably the longest, as it's the one that reminds me that I love to learn new things and all of the myriad of ways in which I can do that. Of course books are on this list (and I believe you learn from fiction along with nonfiction). It also includes things like online language programs, podcasts, free online classes, museums, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, art galleries, museums, TED talks, lectures, listening to new music, webinars...the list goes on and on. I am also fascinated by researching that goes in here too. It's mainly a reminder that you don't have to be in school to learn new things. 

My Body list is all about exercise really. I've listed a bunch of different things I can do to try and get moving again, from dancing to walking the dog. This is also where Weight Watchers and healthy eating would go. And learning to love the body I'm currently in while I'm losing weight, which is tough for me. Plus things like routine doctors appointments, drinking enough water, vitamins, etc. If it has anything to do with treating my physical body better, it goes here. 

The Bonding list is where I keep ideas for nurturing my relationships with my two adult kids and my friends/family. Ideas like buying flowers for people and Christmas gifts for my daughter's roommates to being better about Skyping my sister and having one on one girl time with my daughter. I always want to make sure the people I love know that I love them, and I have some major improving I need to do on this one. I know I can be an absentminded friend and daughter at times so I'm brainstorming, and a major work in progress...

The Beauty list might seem at first glance to be a little vain, but trust me it's not. I haven't always been the best about self-care, so this list isn't so much "spend more money at Sephora" as it is things like remember to take your makeup off every night, keep lotion in your purse, maybe get your nails done with your daughter, etc. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence, I am really trying to love my girly self and delight in the simple pleasure of a regular beauty routine. But I need reminding, as it's not second nature for me. So there's a method and reason behind the skincare pics on Instagram, and makeup videos on YouTube. 

My Base list is probably the most boring because it's really a house cleaning list that I haven't quite sorted out yet. I can't figure out if I want to try and do some form of a FlyLady zone cleaning, or what...but I've never had a good routine for keeping my house clean. And I live with an over the top clean freak. This is another thing that is really more about the lack of routine, because we keep a pretty darn clean house...but it's a lot of sporadic entire days spent doing the uber-clean, and then days of not doing much of anything. I'd rather have it be spread out more evenly. But I haven't figured out how to do it yet...hence the list. 

And last is my Blog list...where I'm writing down all of the random ideas I have for posts and videos. I have a lot of junk floating around in my head, and I need to get it out and on paper. I'd like to get ahead on videos and posts so that I have less instances of not getting anything up due to being sick or the hubby being off work that day, etc. So this list is my brain dump for all things Tomes and Tequila, in an effort to become a bit less scatterbrained. 

Some new devotionals I purchased recently
I would say that most of my areas of focus are pretty universal. My beliefs might by different than yours...maybe yours involve more yoga and meditation...or you wouldn't call it beliefs necessarily, but it could be tweaked. Maybe you don't have a Beau (or Babe) at the moment, so that could look different than my 25 years married one does. Say you don't have a Blog...but it could be Business...or another word for Hobby, you get the idea. The point is to really hone in on what say a 10 out of 10 level marriage would look like, what are some actions you'd need to do to make that happen, do some brainstorming, and then try and incorporate them into your life. Or a 10 out of 10 spiritual life, etc. As I said in my post about picking a word for this year I am trying to find new ways to take ACTION in bringing about the positive changes I want to make in my life. 

I'm now thinking of a million other ways you could do this. Use, hobby, hottie or husband, home, etc. You could sit down and decide that you are on top of everything in your life except two Gs that you want to focus on this year...Guitars and Gardening...and write down all of the ways you could grow in those two things this year. Or don't be a cheesy-goofball like me, and actually use the words that REALLY apply regardless of what letter they start with. 😜

I hope that in sharing my crazy Bs I've given you a few tips to hone in on your priorities in life, or given you something to think about. My aim in writing posts like this is twofold. I hope that if there are others out there who struggle with some of the same issues I do, I can be of some help. But writing always helps me to focus on what's whirling around in my monkey-brain, and cements the idea a little firmer in my head. Plus it puts the intent out there in the world. My sister now knows I want to Skype her more!! LOL It gives me some accountability. 

So please, if you've read this long and rambling post and it's made an ounce of sense to you, leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How To Stop Time Book Review

 How To Stop Time by Matt Haig, review by Tomes and Tequila

Recently I was asked by a friend for a few book recommendations for her husband. I equal parts love and stress over blatantly recommending things, which is ironic and odd given that I write and review things all the time. It is all about that gnawing feeling in my gut that screams...what if they don't like it?!? Which I really have no control over, as everyone has different tastes, and I don't think you all expect to love the same things that I do ALL the time...but it's still something I stress over. ANYWAY, so when looking for a book for her husband, who enjoys historical fiction and things like 11.22.63, I stumbled upon How To Stop Time by Matt Haig*, and it intrigued me. So I recommended it to her, and then bought it for I could see if I was failing as a bibliophile by doing so.

And then, because I'm a fickle pickle and horrible book blogger, I promptly picked it up the day after it arrived, and read it post-haste instead of reading any of the 100 or so OTHER books sitting in my office waiting for me to give them a shot. For some reason I've found that if I tell myself I HAVE to read my books in a certain order, or try in any major way to prioritize by how things come into my possession, I will rebel and drag my feet to the point that it no longer becomes fun. I have to shop my shelves, and grab what looks good in the moment, or it feels like work to me. That's why I rarely do blog tours. 😏

But back to the book How to Stop Time!

Tom Hazard has a condition that causes him to age incredibly slowly. He was born in the 1500's, and after facing incredible hardship and the loss of loved ones, is scooped up by the Albatross Society and taught to live by certain rules in order to not be detected by normal humans aka "mayflies". He's depressed and lonely, and uncomfortable with the behavior of the Society Head...who reluctantly allows him to return to London and live as a history teacher. With the past bleeding into his present, will Tom figure out how to live again? And will the French teacher at his new school test the number one rule he lives not fall in love??

This was another fairly easy read for me, that I absolutely devoured in a day...just like She Regrets Nothing. And it's kind-of funny, I told my son while I was reading it that I saw this in my head as a movie. Rarely do I picture things being acted out when I'm reading them. I don't normally see characters or places as I'm going along. But with this book, I could SEE everything so clearly. I could perfectly visualize Tom walking down a street in London, and seeing the present day chip shops etc but also seeing what it was like in the past bleeding through and causing him to lose his breath. Being taken aback by realizing he's standing in front of the spot that was once his home, and is now a pet shop.

 How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, review by Tomes and Tequila

In the beginning of the book, Tom talks about how he's not like a vampire stuck perpetually in his youth. He is aging. He will die. He CAN die. He's not immortal. But the story is reminiscent, at least to me, of some of the better vampire fiction I've read in the past. Even more so, it reminded me of the television show New Amsterdam starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (of Game of Thrones fame), which only aired for 8 episodes but I LOVED. The whole idea of living for an extremely long amount of time, watching people come and go, places evolve, loves lost and the whole gamut of issues that would arise if you had lived for over 400 years...and knew you were going to live for about 900...are fascinating and this book merely touches on them, and with a flourish that is at times almost poetic.

I think my favorite sections of the book involved the people in the past that Tom interacted with, and then how he tried to weave some of his knowledge into the school lessons he was teaching. I'm a giant Shakespeare nerd, which you probably know if you've been reading the blog for a while, so the section in which he works for Shakespeare was wonderful. Was it historically accurate? I haven't the foggiest, and don't even care a whole was just entertaining to me! And having drinks with Fitzgerald?!? So lovely, and in my head Fitz was totally Hiddles. (If you haven't watched Midnight in Paris, you need to!!)

Yes, there is a bit of a love story...but it wasn't sappy or overwhelmingly emotional. I feel like the real love story here involved Tom and Life in general. The book really was all about Tom figuring out how he wanted to live all of these years that he's been given. Did he want to just go through the paces and saunter along in a fog? Or did he want to open himself up to new and exciting possibilities, and put himself out there again?

Like I said, a quick and enjoyable book. Science-Fiction with some historical aspects. I enjoyed the author's writing style, which has an almost poetic flourish. I am going to have to see what else he's written, so I can add them to my ever growing and willy-nilly stack of To-Reads!

Sorry I didn't get anything up on Friday or Monday. With it being a holiday weekend, I had my hands full with a husband off work and a daughter in town. Eventually I will get enough posts written in advance where that doesn't happen anymore! I'm thinking I'll be doing my review for Stories I'd Tell In Bars on YouTube, as it lends itself to pajamas and alcohol. And I also should have a February Favorites video up the first week of March. Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see either on here or on my YouTube channel! I'm open to suggestions.

 *my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

She Regrets Nothing Review

Super excited to be back bringing you some Booksparks reads, and extremely grateful to them for sending me boxes full of pink paper confetti and heart-shaped sunglasses, along with fun reads like this one for their Winter Reading Challenge! I don't know about y'all, but for me, dreary winter days are the best time to read things that take you out of your current environment and into something completely out of the life you live. She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop certainly fit the bill for me!

She Regrets Nothing is a Gossip Girl combined with All About Eve combined with Metropolitan novel, with a dash of Vogue and Gatsby thrown in for good measure. This is guilty pleasure reading, and there's nothing wrong with that! And as a lady who was always enthralled with New York City, I ate up every delectable tidbit of it.

Laila lives a modest existence in Grosse Pointe, Michigan as a dental hygienist who is dating the dentist at the practice where she works. During the funeral of her mother, three mysterious and oh-so glamorous people arrive who look as out of place as one possibly could in her neck of the woods. Liberty, Nora and Leo are cousins Laila never knew she had, from the mysterious wealthy family who cut her father off before she was born and he moved to the midwest. Turns out they didn't know about her either until recently.

Laila hits it off with Liberty, the eldest of the cousins and a former model turned literary agent, and within two years she's ditched the dentist husband and moved to New York City. Completely at the mercy of her cousin's extreme wealth, all while feeling she deserves that wealth too, Laila struggles to create a new identity for herself in the city. She has the right last name, yet no one knows her. She's pretty, yet not as pretty as her eldest cousin, and when coupled with her other cousin Nora's trashy fashion sense comes off more tramp than socialite.

 She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop, review by Tomes and Tequila

Liberty does everything she can to try and help out her cousin, giving her a job and trying to help her make friends. She believes her to be sweet and kind, and feels overjoyed to have a new family member in her life. But is Laila as nice as she thinks? Are her intentions really that good? And do any of them REALLY know this woman they've let into their lives??

I gobbled this book up, but I have also been known to put Gossip Girl on when I can't think of anything else to put on tv for background noise. The book is told from the viewpoint of various people, so you have a good idea of the mindset these folks are in. It doesn't take long to realize that some are more vain and vapid than others. Or that one might have a more nefarious goal than anyone else realizes. But the book hits a spot about 3/4 of the way in where I just went...NO, why did she DO THAT?!?!

I think my favorite character in the book was Liberty's best-friend Reece...who for whatever reason I kept picturing as Gabrielle Reece, the beautiful statuesque volleyball player. Why? I have no idea. I read Reece, and then couldn't get that image out of my head for the rest of the book...and I have no idea what the description of her actually was now except tall. She may have been described as an olive complected woman with long flowing black hair or something, and I still saw Gabrielle Reece. Clearly I have issues.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this one. A few of the characters felt a little like caricatures, and you have a good idea of where it's all going as you're reading...but none of that took away from the sheer pleasure of reading a book where a character might hop onto a plane to an island getaway with a rich old guy they just met. Or look down on someone for taking the subway to work. Or use a matchmaker to meet a suitable older fella with a loaded bank account. Fun stuff, I tell ya!

So huge thanks again to Booksparks and the author for sending me this book! It took me out of my February doldrums and into high society for a little bit, which I thoroughly needed.
 *my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information.