Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Recommendations for Romance Lovers

Need some romance recommendations? I'm here to help!

Last week I talked about why I love romance and how I hate it when people talk crap about a genre that brings so much pleasure to so many people. This week I thought I’d share some of my favourite romances with you. Hopefully you’ll find your next great read here and add a few more books to your TBR!

Young Adult Romance:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
The Boys of Summer by CJ Duggan
♥ Outer Banks Tennis Academy series (Game. Set. Match., Losing at Love) by Jennifer Iacopelli

New Adult Romance:

Off the Map series by Lia Riley

If Only… series by AJ Pine
I Do

In Focus series by Megan Erickson

Boomerang series by Noelle August

Just One Year by Gayle Foreman

Adult Romance:

Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy by Nora Roberts

Wild Aces trilogy by Chanel Cleeton

Castle Calder series by Brenda St John Brown

Kingston Ale House series by AJ Pine

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
A Place in the Sun by RS Grey
One True Loves and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Historical Romance:

Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole
Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the post that inspired this list, Why I Love Romance. I’d love to hear why you love romance!

Do you see any of your favourite romances on this list? What would you add to it?


Friday, August 18, 2017

RomCom Friday: Notting Hill

RomCom Friday is a new weekly feature here at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. I’ve always been a romantic comedy addict, and since I’m currently writing a romcom, I thought it would be fun to feature a favourite romantic comedy every week and talk about why I love it. Please note, there will be spoilers for each movie.

I started my RomCom Friday feature last week with what is probably my all-time favourite romantic comedy movie: Bridget Jones’s Diary. This week I’m featuring another top favourite: Notting Hill. In the next few weeks, you’ll likely notice I have a particular fondness for British movies and certain actors (whether British or not, but in this case, since I'm featuring two movies in a row with Hugh Grant, you can see there's going to be a pattern here!).

Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant encompasses so many aspects of what makes a romcom great: a fantastic cast (like with Bridget Jones’s Diary, you get a wonderfully eccentric and eclectic group of friends who you come to love and root for as much as the main characters), hilarious scenes and dialogue, a romance to root for, and countless quotable lines.

One of the things I love about Notting Hill is how it’s completely different from everything else Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant (two of my favourite actors, by the way) have done in their careers. The role of Anna Scott is an interesting choice Julia Roberts because the character is quite subdued and understated. I’m used to seeing Roberts in roles where she’s a lot more expressive and quirky. Anna is a bit jaded by Hollywood and wary of who she lets into her life. She’s used to dealing with fans, the paparazzi spreading rumours and taking unflattering pictures, and she’s been forced to try to remain to look young in order to keep her job. Her romances have been with fellow celebrities who know what the Hollywood lifestyle encompasses, so meeting and developing feelings for William really threw her for a loop.  

“And don't forget...I'm also just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” ~ Anna  

Hugh Grant as William Thacker, the bumbling, floppy-haired travel bookshop owner is just about the cutest thing ever. Grant tends to be cast as the insufferable jackass who says and does the wrong thing, offends at every turn, and yet still manages to somehow be charming. In Notting Hill, he’s purely charming.

“You are lovelier this morning than you have ever been.” ~ William

Not only are the roles different for Roberts and Grant, the movie itself is refreshingly different; the majority of celebrity-falls-for-normal-person movies and books I’ve encountered feature a famous guy and a ‘regular’ girl, so Notting Hill is a fun spin on that. I also like how they portray the passage of time (the scene where Grant walks down Portobello Road in Notting Hill with the seasons and people changing all around him while ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ plays is a clever way to show time passing, unlike a lot of other movies that just skip ahead and expect you to keep up) and that things weren’t easy or immediate for Anna and William.

Anna: “Can I stay for awhile?”William: “You can stay forever.”

For me, Notting Hill is a quintessential feel-good movie. It’s always made me run the gamut of emotions - even 18 years later (god, that makes me feel old!) I still giggle and get teary at all the same parts. I’d love to have a group of friends like William’s (I’d pass on a roommate like Spike, although you'd never be bored having him as a friend). This is one of those movies that seems to have an almost cult-like following, with people who will hear something like ‘whoopsidaisies’ or ‘love isn’t love without a violin-playing goat’ and know immediately not only what movie it’s from, but also the exact scene and what was happening.

Side note: there aren't many songs on it, but I love the Notting Hill soundtrack. To this day, I can't hear She by Elvis Costello, Ain't No Sunshine by Bill Withers, or When You Say Nothing At All by Ronan Keating without thinking of Notting Hill (and knowing exactly what scenes they're from).

Notting Hill Julia Roberts Hugh Grant Anna Scott William Thacker Romantic Comedy

Do you like Notting Hill? Who's your favourite character? Do you have a favourite quote? Have you been to Notting Hill? I've wanted to go since the first time I saw this movie and was so excited to finally venture there two years ago when I went to London, but we just didn't have time. Next time!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pity Party: Table of One

Last night, my friend JK got on a plane, passport and visa in hand, and flew to London. After spending a few days there, she’ll be on her way to Wales, then Scotland, and finally Ireland, where she’ll be living for the next two years. After living in London for two years (November 2014-November 2016) on a UK visa, she always knew that, visa permitting, she’d be going to Ireland next.

If you know me well, you’ll likely know Ireland is my #1 dream destination. I’ve always wanted to go, and have even attempted to plan several trips, but something always happens and they fall through. When JK asked me last year to go with her to Ireland, I was determined to make it happen. I could stay there legally for three months without a visa, and since I can work from anywhere, it would have been ideal. I started saving immediately and planning out the things I wanted to see and do. I imagined the sweet little cottage we would stay in, my dream accommodation ever since reading Nora Robert’s Jewels of the Sun and fell in love with Jude’s house in Ardmore, Ireland. But as time went on, I had to accept the ugly truth: I wouldn’t be going to Ireland with JK.

Why? Simply put (although there’s actually nothing simple about it), the last year and a half has been hell for my family. Without getting into too many details, I’ve had a lot to deal with, a lot of responsibilities that shouldn’t be mine, and because of that, every time I’d get ahead with my savings, I’d need to use the money for something else. Not only that, but there’s no way I could leave right now; I’d feel like I was abandoning my family in their time of need. Even if I was the type of person to say ‘It’s my life, and I can’t let anyone or anything hold me back’, I know I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy myself because I’d be worried about what was going on here.

Throw in the fact my career feels like it’s circling the drain, plus I’m stressed, overwhelmed, and overworked most of the time, and here I am throwing a fairly epic pity party. And I hate it. There’s no cake or balloons or entertainment, it’s just me inside my own head, alternately worrying and feeling sorry for myself. And feeling envious - there’s a lot of envy. I’m jealous of JK for getting to live my dream. I’m jealous she doesn’t have the responsibilities and commitments I have. I’m jealous her money is her own and she was able to save enough to go. I’m jealous of the countries she’ll see and the people she’ll meet and the experiences she’ll have while I’m stuck here, feeling like things will never change and having a hard time seeing any light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

There are other factors, too, known mostly as ‘the online comparison game’. Being online, we’re surrounded by people living fabulous lives (or at least seemingly fabulous - what you see online isn’t necessarily the whole story) and it’s hard not to be envious sometimes. I follow a lot of travel accounts on Instagram; at times I realize I’m a masochist, because seeing all those beautiful places I long to travel to makes me wistful and sometimes downright sad, depending on my mood. And yet I love looking at pictures of pretty places and getting ideas of places to go and things to do someday. Can you say 'bear for punishment'?

Another issue (there’s more?! you say) is seeing people gain massive amounts of followers, or sell thousands of books, or get sponsorships and other great opportunities while I feel stagnant in so many areas. I’ve read so many blog posts with flashy titles like ‘the must-do trick to quadrupling your Instagram following’ or ‘how I hit the bestseller list and made enough money to quit my job’ or ‘how I got eleventy billion page views in six months’ (okay, I made that one up, but you get the idea). I’ve tried many of the things people have suggested, always hopeful the newest idea will be THE ONE, and I sit and watch my nothing. Hardly anyone reads my blog, my Instagram follower number is stuck, and don’t even get me started on my book sales. It’s hard not to get frustrated and that frustration often leads to feeling sorry for myself.

Here’s the thing about all of this: I know I’m being ridiculous. I know this is small peanuts in the grand scheme of things. I also know I have so many things to be grateful for and a lot of people have it far worse than I do. But that’s the thing about self-pity: it’s not exactly a discerning emotion. It doesn’t care that you’re smart of self-aware or have better things to do with your time than wallow over things you can’t change. But then that’s part of it too - not being able to change things and feeling powerless and hopeless. It’s a vicious cycle.

So what do I do with all these overwhelming emotions? I guess the only thing to do is just keep on keeping on. Continue to work as hard as I can, save money, hope the situation with my family improves, and believe that someday I’ll get to Ireland and that everything else will sort itself out. I saw this quote yesterday while I was working on this blog post, and it really spoke to me:

“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.”

I’ve always been someone who believes everything happens for a reason. I have to believe this isn’t my time to go, for whatever reason. But I refuse to give up on my dream of going to Ireland. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to work hard, focus on the areas of my life I can change (like writing and publishing more books, which will likely lead to more book sales), remember I have plenty to be thankful for, and hope that when I finally do get to travel again, it’ll be amazing.

As for online stuff, despite my masochistic tendencies when it comes to following people living the high life, I do have some advice for others who get jealous of people online: It’s important to curate your Instagram/Twitter/Facebook feed. It’s one thing to feel occasionally wistful at something someone else has, but it’s a completely different story if someone else’s life makes you feel like shit about your own. If someone’s feed makes you feel like you’re not good enough or you find yourself making constant comparisons, hit the unfollow button. It’s there for a reason. People should inspire you, not bring you down.

There are times in everyone’s life where they want what they can’t have. Everyone occasionally wants more or wishes things were different. The trick is to focus more on what you do have. What you can accomplish. I talked recently about self-care and giving yourself permission to feel your feelings. You're allowed to feel down and you're also allowed to take some time for yourself (social media breaks are especially good if online stuff is a source of your issues). Work through your feelings, find the root of the problem, and figure out what you can do to make things better. And if you want to sit at my table of one and make it a table of two, maybe we can turn this pity party into a real party. My comments and email are always open, or feel free to tweet me if you need support or encouragement.

Do you ever get in funks where you feel sorry for yourself? What do you do to get over them?


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