Book Reviews · England · goodreads · In Theaters

Snap Review: Belle – The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne

Title: Belle – The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice

My rating: 3/5


The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was sent to live with her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. Growing up in his lavish estate, Dido was raised as a sister and companion to her white cousin, Elizabeth. When a joint portrait of the girls, commissioned by Mansfield, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to see a black woman and white woman depicted as equals. Inspired by the painting, Belle vividly brings to life this extraordinary woman caught between two worlds, and illuminates the great civil rights question of her age: the fight to end slavery.

Continue reading “Snap Review: Belle – The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne”

England · monday muse · To Be Read

Monday Muse (6) – Shakespeare’s Principal Plays


A friend of mine from book club and I are taking an English Literature course next Spring!!! After my experience this semester, we though a higher upper-level course would be more beneficial for mature discussions and learning so we have decided to go with (drumroll please)…..


I feel that it is pretty safe to say most of us have experienced Romeo and Juliet (at a bare minimum) when learning about Shakespeare. However, I honestly have not delved into much other than that. Of course I’ve heard of the other titles that are referenced frequently and/or adaptations have been made, and that is where I’ve stopped. Plays aren’t my go-to genre of reads, and that’s why I feel I need to take this course. Additionally, Shakespeare’s works have been launch points for present-day writers. It would be great to dissect the origin of some plots.

Here is what I’m guessing we are going to read (I’ll post the syllabus when I receive it!):

  • The Taming of The Shrew
  • Hamlet
  • Macbeth
  • Henry V
  • The Tempest

A double-win is that some of these will count for my Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge 🙂 It will be great to taking someone I know (especially since we are in similar times of life and can potentially relate to different experiences moreso than traditional undergraduate students). I’m still on the fence of whether I want the class to count for credit or if I’m only auditing. The syllabus will determine that – it’s a class of 30 and if there are group projects I’ll be doing the work for them anyway so might as well get credit! Wish me luck!

Any advice for reading through Shakespeare?

England · To Be Read

TBR Tuesday

tbr royal

Title: The Royal We

Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Why it’s in my pile:

Recently, the story of Will and Kate has been fascinating to me. I was young when Princess Diana passed away and haven’t followed the family until Will and Kate’s wedding and then when they had their two beautiful children. On Pinterest, a few of my friends have boards dedicated to Kate. I didn’t know where the fascination was coming from because I didn’t know their story. One night, I watched on Netflix William and Kate and finally understood. It really is a fairy tale romantic story! Not to say that this romance novel is an exact tale of Will and Kate but it is quite a resemblance!


“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

Book Reviews · England

Book Review: After You by Jojo Moyes


Title: After You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Published: 2015

Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction/Chick Lit

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating:  3/5


“How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .”

After falling in love with Will Traynor and Louisa Clark, I was not sure how I was going to adjust to this story fresh off of Dignitas. The story picks up 2 years after his death and Lou is a mess, rightfully so. Lou still has reservations about herself and what she is capable of, and without Will, she feels that she has lost the drive to be and do more. Although, yes this is a sequel, I felt that this story could survive on its own as there were numerous flashbacks and memories from the past of both Will and Lou that we who read Me Before You had previously known – which was a great reminder for sure, and an excellent way to keep the stories in line. I felt that this go around had what I was expecting – a blast from the past (in an odd way), the struggle to move on and have peace with ones lost, and finding yourself when all hope was lost. So I was not surprised by a majority of the narrative which was a bit of a letdown though the storytelling was on point and painted a picture of Lou’s life and that of those around her.

There potentially could be a third installment of this series as Lou resolves some of her hesitations and heads in a different direction, an adventure of sorts. However, I do not believe one is needed. I appreciated the end of Me Before You because it did leave me wondering but allowed me to come up with my own rendition of Lou’s future. The same with the ending of After You, I feel that there is some resolve but also room for us as readers to dream of what comes next for Lou – a life we couldn’t exactly pinpoint in the first novel but still anticipating what is to come.

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible”

Read After You  if you like the themes of:

  • Family
  • Love
  • Moving On
  • Teenage Angst
England · Life Updates · Places & Spaces

Tea, Please!










Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cup of tea (or you coffee drinkers out there – a cup of coffee) and a book? I have been an inhabitant of coffeeshops and cafes ranging from Panera to Starbucks to independent shops all over the country. It is also something about the atmosphere and collection of folks who come to get work done, write the next chapter in their book, catch up with a friend or two, read the paper, or just relax amidst a hectic week. Sometimes, getting to those locations takes initial planning – travel time, bag that fits all the supplies, and looking socially acceptable outside your house. This weekend, I wanted that same feeling in those shops and cafes in my own home – a little challenging without other people around, I know. Challenge accepted, nonetheless.

First thing is first, where? Well, given that I don’t use my kitchen table to eat on, I thought I would start there! I cleared off the placemats and set up shop with my laptop, iPad, journals, books, pens, and sticky notes. I have never been a traditional ‘desk’ person and find surfaces/places that can serve multiple tasks – even though I spend hours in Office Depot planning my dream office… While I was cleaning the other day, I found a lapdesk that will work perfectly when I am working while watching tv from the couch OR on the balcony in my Adirondack chair. A nice surface to write in my new novel-writing journal or typing into my laptop without my legs burning from the heat.

Next up, ambiance. Because it is the start of fall, candles are a necessity! Pumpkin, caramel, and crisp apple scents fill the air as well as the soft glow of the candlelight across the walls and table. I’m considering baking some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins or bread to add the bakery scents….and a light snack! Music can make or break the flow of one’s goals of being in a coffeeshop environment. Ever since I re-watch You’ve Got Mail for the hundreth time, I have been in a 90s pop music kind of mood – bringing me back to my childhood, a time filled with high energy and innocence and little stress – perfect for getting work done. Some of the highlights from my Pandora playlist are as follows:

  • Dreams – The Cranberries
  • Everything you want – Vertical Horizon
  • Crash into me – Dave Matthews Band
  • Tearing up my heart – N*Sync

Finally, nutrients and energy! The main motivation for frequenting the cafes! When it comes to tea, I have the usuals that are never missing from my home stash: Ginger peach, Mango, and English Breakfast – all from The Republic of Tea. Hot or cold, doesn’t matter, I’ll enjoy them either way. I made a fresh pitcher of English Breakfast sweet iced tea in the morning that will last me a couple of days. I had this idea when I first moved in to my place that I would have a tea station. It is at a good start with the tea set, Keurig, serving platter, and a rustic feel, though in the future I would like to make it more like a coffee/tea bar buffet server. Last but not least, a good, hearty grilled cheese sandwich with tomato slices did the trick – it’s not a broccoli cheddar soup with a Caesar salad but still wonderfully delicious!

tea please2








With all the set-up listed above, I can confidently say I have utilized this mock-coffeeshop corner of my home to knock out 3 blog posts and plan out my reading list for the rest of the year. Successful outing at home for sure!

How do you create that workflow energy in your home?

England · Jane Austen · Life Updates

What’s New!

So life has been quite chaotic lately, with back to school goings on as well as last minute vacations whilst the summer season is winding down. I have been immersed quite a bit in Downton Abbey and longing for the time I am able to visit London once again. Just like in oh so many novels I have read, I feel a connection between the characters and a part of their lives. I am finishing up the latest season until the final season premieres in January – with any luck I’ll finish within this week and be back to reading in no time. Having that hiatus from reading has grown my longing for the enjoyment of imagining the characters in my mind instead of what the screenplay writers create for us in a visual. With the season changing to a crisp fall, I am looking forward to one of my favorite times of year – pumpkin spice latte season which has been rumored to be released on August 25th (expect a post from me around that time 😉 )

While I await that day, I’d love to introduce to you all the newest member of my little family. Please welcome, Lizzy.


Lizzy was found by one of my colleagues in their garage! She is a sweet little kitten who quickly won me over. I was not looking to adopt at the time being, but I saw an opportunity to provide a good home and I couldn’t resist. Having been a full year since I’ve moved to the MidWest, timing I gather worked out that it was time for a change and more responsibility. Now, let me say that Lizzy is the first living thing I have taken care of ever! Besides looking after my niece and nephew once in awhile, Lizzy is the first I’ve been committed to. You should’ve seen me driving her back to my house for the first time – I was a nervous wreck. It made me imagine what it will be like when I drive my future children home for the first time – wanting to be gentle and take every precaution possible because there is precious cargo in the back seat.

So far, so good with Lizzy. As an aside, being the Incessant Bookworm than I am, of course I had to assign a literary name to my new feline friend. Of course Lizzy Bennet popped into my mind – having an independence yet family-oriented personality. Also, I wanted to utilize that name in some way 🙂 Fingers crossed that we will be good for each other! She’s been a hit with some friends who have stopped by already, supporting her friendly demeanor.

Any advice for adopting a kitten?