How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

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Book reviews are some of my favorite posts to read and write. I love finding new books to add to my reading list based on the suggestions of other people. This is actually my first book review of 2020 even though I have read a few other books. The whole time I was reading How to Stop Time by Matt Haig I was thinking that I would without a doubt give this book 5 stars if I did a review.

Summary:

Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school history teacher. And on his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher at his school who seems fascinated by him. But Tom has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

Unfortunately for Tom, the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time tells a love story across the ages—and for the ages—about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. It is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

Review:

I originally bought the Kindle version of How to Stop Time in December but didn’t start reading it until March. I bought it during a Kindle sale and then forgot about it and I’m sad it took me this long to read it! Once I started I could not put it down. I needed to figure out how it was going to end.

I loved the different periods of time that were featured in this book. I feel like the author did a lot of research but I’m not an expert so some things may have been historically inaccurate. However, Tom meets so many figures from history that we all know about and it’s really interesting to see how his character develops over the centuries with the different roles he has to play in order to fit in.

One moment in this book really stood out to me though. In Tom’s first life he falls in love with a woman named Rose. I don’t want to spoil it but this is the time of the plague in Europe. This setting feels very similar to what we are currently going through with this pandemic. The thought of these similar situations has weighed heavily on my heart and my mind.

Favorite Quotes:

“Whenever I see someone reading a book, especially if it is someone I don’t expect, I feel civilisation has become a little safer.”

“People you love never die. That is what Omai had said, all those years ago. And he was right. They don’t die. Not completely. They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you. You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough, they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars could guide ships in unfamiliar waters.”

“This is so often the way with life. You spend so much time waiting for something – a person, a feeling, a piece of information – that you can’t quite absorb it when it is in front of you. The hole is so used to being a hole it doesn’t know how to close itself.”

“And yet we had done what so often happened in the proud history of geographic discovery. We had found paradise. And then we had set it on fire.”

“Everything in life is uncertain. That is how you know you are existing in the world, the uncertainty. Of course, this is why we sometimes want to return to the past, because we know it, or think we do. It’s a song we’ve heard.”

My Rating: 5 Stars

I loved this book! Every page, every life, every story had so much meaning. I feel like I learned a lot about life and how to make the most out of bad situations which is incredibly important right now. How to Stop Time has been added to my top 10 books of all time that I’ve read. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to re-reading it again this week.

Have you read any good books lately? I think I’ll be reading a lot more now that I can’t leave my house.

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My #1 International Travel Essential – TEP Wireless Review

#1 Travel Essential - TEP Wireless Review , travel hotspot

Traveling has always been one of my favorite things to do. I love planning out itineraries of what to do each day and exploring all there is to see in each new place. I read the guide books and scour Pinterest and blogs for tips, tricks, and must see locations. I make a list of the food and drinks I need to try, the history behind each monument, and most importantly, I map out walking tours.

In October my husband took me to Paris and Rome for an early 25th birthday celebration. I had been to Paris before so I knew where to take Brett for his first visit. Rome was a different story. Rome had been #1 on my bucketlist for the last couple of years but I had no prior knowledge about how to get around the city.

I was doing my usual pre-trip research when I stumbled upon TEP Wireless, a portable “pocket” WiFi device. I was intrigued and dug into reviews and technical information to see what it was all about. My cell phone carrier can provide internet for international use. However, it’s incredibly expensive so I never buy the plan for trips. TEP Wireless seemed like the perfect solution!

You rent a “Teppy” device for the duration of your trip (days, weeks, or months) and you receive a unique password that you enter in when trying to join the network on your device. It’s super easy to use! The only downside if that you have to activate each day of internet access but it only takes a couple of clicks and the wifi is back up and running. The instructions explain everything!

The Teppy has 8+ hours of constant use on a single charge and works in over 100 countries. We rented the external charger which really came in handy on some of our longer days. Brett and I both used the wifi for our phones and never ran out of battery when we also had the external charger handy. The device is super small and easy to fit in a pocket or purse.

A couple of weeks before the trip I booked our Teppy device with a pre-paid return envelope. About two days before we left the Teppy arrived in a cute little package and was ready to go to Europe with us. When we knew our travel plans were changing from just Rome to Rome and Paris I hopped online to chat with one of the TEP Wireless customer service representatives. They were able to re-assure me that the device would work in Paris and Rome for no extra charge!

I was really glad to have TEP Wireless in both Paris and Rome. We never lost coverage and found it super easy to use! We look forward to renting with TEP Wireless for our next big trip!

By the way, I paid for my TEP Wireless rental with my own money. They do not know that I am doing this review but I thought it might be helpful for all of my fellow travel enthusiasts!

Have you heard of TEP Wireless before? Have you tried anything similar?

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Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

 

Book Review: Meet Cute by Various YA Authors

Meet Cute YA Authors Book Review

I began reading Meet Cute before I published my New Year, New Reading list post. Brett got me this book for Christmas and I was so excited to start reading it! Some of my favorite YA authors are featured including Nicola Yoon, Huntley Fitzpatrick, and Katie Cotugno. I fell in love with the writing styles of many of the other authors and have already added some of their books to my TBR list. I can’t wait to read more!

Summary:

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. Meet Cute is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
 
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
 
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Review:

First things first, the format of this book is incredible! I was skeptical of the short story format but really fell in love with being able to read a whole story in under 30 minutes. It was a perfect before bed read because I’m one of those people who have a hard time just reading one chapter. I tend to stay up way too late reading at night if I’m really into a book. The short stories allowed me to read one or two a night and then go to bed happy. 

I don’t want to give away too much about the book by reviewing each and every story. However, I can say that there wasn’t one story in this book that I disliked. Each one was unique and the endings left much to the imagination yet I was disappointed at all. I love when books have clear endings that leave everything tied up in a neat little bow. Even though many of these stores did not have clear endings I still loved them! 

I also love that these stories feature more than just your traditional boy-girl love story. Emery Lord’s story about two girls meeting in an airport was one of my absolute favorites! It was so cute and charming!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Let’s be honest, I’ll probably only ever write reviews for books I love because I can never seem to force myself to finish reading a book that I don’t enjoy. I’ll keep trying but in my opinion life’s too short to read a bad book.

Seeing each author’s writing style and unique take on first impressions was such a cool experience. It fueled my love for my favorite authors and helped me find new authors to add to my favorites list. 

Have you read any amazing books lately? How do you feel about short stories? 

Until next time! Thanks for reading!

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The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Book Review - The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Hi friends!

A couple of weeks ago I read The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith. I had read the first two chapters online and really wanted to know what ended up happening to Eden. I knew this would be different than the other books I have been reading recently.

I will start off my saying that I didn’t completely love this book. It was tough to read at times but the message is so important. After reading this I feel compelled to have others read it too. It may not end up being your favorite book but it might give you perspective and understanding of what other’s are feeling.

Here’s the description:

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

If you have been through high school you can probably relate to Eden in some ways. High school is about finding yourself and Eden lost her way for a reason that was completely out of her control.

The book follows Eden through her high school career and gets darker as time goes on. I was mad at her for not telling her mom right after it happened and it hurt watching their mother-daughter relationship falter as the years went on. I wanted her family to understand how she was feeling so badly but completely understand why she felt that she couldn’t say anything.

The Way I Used To Be was a powerful book with a strong female lead. I actually hurt for Eden and it opened up my eyes to how people feel in her situation. It may not be based on a true story but it shows the victim’s perspective after being raped.

Have you read any insightful books that changed your way of thinking?

Thanks for reading!

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99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days Katie Cotugno Book Review Summer Reading List

Happy September, friends!

This summer has been full of reading for me! I just can’t seem to get enough of the fun “beach reads” even though I haven’t actually gone to the beach to read them. 😉 I am a fast reader but I have been amazed at how quickly I have been getting through books lately.

99 Days by Katie Cotugno was a quick and easy read that I couldn’t get enough of! I found myself relating so well to Molly even though (thankfully) my life has been much less dramatic than hers.

Molly Barlow just graduated from her high school boarding school in Arizona. Before she can head off to college in Boston she must spend 99 days back at home. The home she ran away from when her mom wrote a book detailing her love life.

I don’t want to give too much away but I spent pretty much the whole book hating Molly’s mom for her decision to publish the book. Of course, Molly should have made better decisions in the first place but moms are supposed to help and guide you. Not write every single detail of your most embarrassing moments for the whole world to read. Plus, high schoolers don’t make the best decisions. Mistakes help people learn and Molly should have been able to leave her mistake behind.

Anyway, I will get off my high horse and continue on with the book. Here’s the details according to Katie:

Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything. She has every right to hate me, of course: I broke Patrick Donnelly’s heart the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe wouldn’t quit till he got me to come to this party, and I’m surprised to find I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

Gabe is so sweet to Molly throughout the book and for a second he is the only one who will talk to her. I really liked his character. I thought he was funny, charming, and so down to earth. I never really understood what Molly saw in Patrick.

In my opinion, cheating is very wrong. Judging people when you don’t know the whole story is also wrong. And as Ross Geller from Friends said, “We were on a break!”

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Break ups can be messy and confusing. Maybe they weren’t really broken up? Who knows? Point is, people shouldn’t have been so judgmental. Molly should not have been shunned and driven out of her hometown.

This book was addictive. I immediately ordered the sequel, 9 Days and 9 Nightsfrom Amazon and impatiently waited for it to be delivered. I even scoured the internet looking for free chapters while I waited. And let me tell you, 9 Days and Nights did not disappoint!

Have you read any amazing books lately?

Thanks for reading!

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“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” Play Review

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Hello again! I decided to write a review of a play that I saw a couple of weeks ago in London! I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts in case any of you might be interested in seeing it too. Let me know what you think about it! I went with my friend Hannah that I met at the Harry Potter Studio tour.

On Wednesday February 11th, Hannah and I set off after class to go to see “The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-time” at the Gielgud Theatre. Hannah had asked me on Sunday if I wanted to see it with her and without knowing what it was about I said “Yes!” I’m trying really hard to get in the habit of saying yes every time someone asks me to do something with them!

I briefly looked it up on Wikipedia on Sunday before we bought the tickets but didn’t really put too much thought into it. I was excited to see a show in London and Hannah had read the book and said that it was good so I believed her.

The Gielgud Theatre London

The Theatre itself was stunning and full of history. We arrived about an hour and a half early to pick up our tickets and then just wandered around the area near the theatre. Gielgud Theatre is right by Piccadilly Circus so we had a lot to see before the show. We grabbed a bubble tea and walked through China Town admiring the lights and buildings.

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The show started promptly at 7:30 and I was surprised with the setup of the stage. The stage had hundreds of lights that blinked different colors throughout the show. It was really modern and unique compared to other plays I have seen.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” is based on the book by Mark Haddon. After seeing the day I really want to read the book, it was that good! The main character’s name is a 15 year old boy named Christopher John Francis Boone who has a knack for numbers and memorizing details. You can tell from the beginning of the book that Christopher is a brilliant boy.

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In the beginning of the play Christopher finds his neighbor’s dog murdered in her garden. He is determined to find the culprit. I don’t want to give too much about the story away but you will learn about Christopher’s life and past and really get attached to his character. His condition is not stated in the play but after some research I learned that he most likely had Asperger syndrome.

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The whole play was so well-written and portrayed. I had goose bumps throughout and the ending really made my heart happy. I felt like I experienced all of the emotions and moments with Christopher, which is how a play should leave you feeling, in my opinion.

Overall, I would recommend this play to anyone in London and suggest that you also read the book by Mark Haddon like I’m going to do. It was a really well acted show and I am so glad that Hannah and I were able to experience it together!

Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts on “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Have you read the book or seen the play? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Book Review – 13 Little Blue Envelopes

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A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the internet for Study Aboard blogs. I have pinned the blog Crossing Off #73 many times but I had never stumbled upon her review of this book. After reading the review I immediately went to Amazon where I ordered this book and the three others pictured below (I also bought a Butter London nail polish that’s not pictured).

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“Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and directions to buy a plane ticket. Envelope 2 contains directions to a specific London flat. The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist. Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/bloke-about-town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous-though utterly romantic-results. Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.”

I fell in love with the World that the author, Maureen Johnson, created. In 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Ginny travels to London, Scotland, France, Greece, Denmark, and Amsterdam. The cities are described in such detail that I actually felt like I was there with Ginny. I got caught up by the story and couldn’t put the book down until the very end. Now I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope.

Basically, this book tells the story of a seventeen year old girl, Ginny, who is following the wishes of her recently deceased aunt. She travels all over Europe following the same path that her aunt took after leaving New York. Ginny begins to understand her aunt better and starts to let go of the anger about not knowing her aunt was sick and dying.

Reading this made me even more excited for my European adventure. I can’t wait to explore Harrods’s, travel to nearby countries, visit museums and galleries, and just become familiar with new places. I feel so much about traveling to London alone after reading this book. Even though it’s not a true story, I still find strength in knowing that others have made the same journey that I’m about to go on.

I seriously recommend reading this book even if you aren’t planning on traveling anytime soon. I think that any young adult can relate to the lessons and issues in this book. It is all about finding yourself and figuring out exactly who you are and what you want. I read this whole book in less than four days because it was just so good!

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have read this book!