“From Shetland, With Love” by Erin Green | Book Review

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Synopsis: After the loss of her beloved grandfather, 28-year-old Jemima Button is unexpectedly handed the keys to his allotment plot. She doesn’t share his enthusiasm for gardening but can’t follow through when the time comes to give it up. Now she has five chickens and a garden to care for, and her amateur mistakes are catching unsolicited criticism.

After ages of being a name on a waiting list, 42-year-old Melissa Robins finally has an allotment plot to call her own. She dives right in, eager to be creative and take her mind off her husband who is working away from home. When loneliness pushes her into a close friendship with a fellow allotmenter, tongues start wagging, and her reputation takes a nosedive.

Despite her age, 80-year-old Dorothy “Dottie” Nesbit maintains a three-days-a-week dusting routine at Lerwick Manor, a job that dates back to her parents. She also grows prize-winning delphiniums and serves as secretary on the allotment association committee. Becase of her unofficial title as local matriarch, her eyes and ears are everywhere, and she is not afraid to get involved and give an opinion.

These three women lead very different lives, but now find themselves neighbors at the Lerwick Manor Allotment Association. Together they will face the barrage of drama that is a typical day at the allotment plot. Will they weather the storm, or is one of them on her way out?

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I started this book at a sluggish pace thanks to pages of drawn out description. For example, the section that describes Jemima Button’s first visit as plot owner to the Lerwick Manor Allotment Association: she enters the gate, notices the more unique gardens while following the figure eight pathway, & arrives at her destination six pages later. The detail about her grandparents’ front door is lovely, how after generations of memories it now decorates the plot which is passing from Thomas Quinn to his granddaughter. Some of the description adds to the story, but there could’ve been more editing to remove the pages of tedium, especially in the first half of the book.

Initially Melissa’s point-of-view interested me the most because I liked her personality, but by the end I found her attitude off-putting. I know gossip is an ugly thing, but she could’ve handled herself better. When you choose to spend time alone with a handsome, single man while your husband’s away for work, don’t be shocked when your small, tight-knit community starts to talk. To balance things out, I did appreciate her genuine care for Jemima as they became friends. Dottie is likeable but experiences very little development. She’s more of a bridge between characters and storylines. I enjoyed the Sassy Dottie moments; they added some spice to her character. Her POV lands in the middle which leaves Jemima, my favorite. I found her personal journey relatable, and her potential romance is what truly kept me invested in the book. The pace of her story picked up too quickly in the final chapters, but I like where people, places, and things ended up so I’m not too upset about it.

I now want chickens and an allotment plot, specifically on Shetland, so I think Erin Green did her job. However, I’m lowering my rating because of lengthy descriptions and slow pace, giving “From Shetland With Love” three stars. Don’t expect fireworks-level excitement because this book is exactly what the cover sets it up to be, a slice of life story centered around allotment plot owners and their day-to-day issues. If you like to sit outside in the sunshine and read to unwind, this might be the book for you; if you enjoy gardening, even better!

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Fun Fact: Thomas Quinn named his chickens Tonight, Madras, Korma, Roast, and Nugget (or possibly Kiev); all of them are affectionately known as “his ladies.” As a tribute, Jemima named her duck Crispy. I felt you should know all that because it tickled me throughout the entire book.

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⚠️ Content Warnings

Alcohol & Drugs

Mentions of alcohol & drinking – Pages 3, 12, 34, 57, 85, 90, 93, 94, 105, 106, 107, 121, 244, 245, 247, 264, 290, 325, 326, 327, 328, 331, 336, 337, 338, 339, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 349, 350, 351, 356, 359, 358, 360, 361, 368, 369, 376, 377, & 378

Mentions of drugs & smoking – Pages 106, 109, 121, 159, 223, 245, 290, 298, & 360

Grammar & Spelling

Page 22 – “Gazelle on heat” instead of “Gazelle in heat”

Page 57 – “ . . . ask Levi” instead of “ . . . asks Levi”

Page 62 – “ . . . there is defies logic” instead of “ . . . there defies logic”

Page 85 – Smoother those in gravy” instead of “Smother those in gravy”

Page 129 – “I found large two pumpkins” instead of “I found two large pumpkins”

Page 184 – “Dotty” instead of “Dottie,” not sure if this was intentional or not

Language

A$$ or Ar$e – Pages 71, 125, 201, 327, 331, & 353

Balls Up or Ballsing it up – Pages 54 & 57 

Bastards – Page 335

Bloody or Bloody H*ll- Pages 11, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 54, 59, 64, 68, 69, 72, 73, 116, 117, 118, 137, 161, 170, 171, 177, 187, 195, 196, 206, 216, 229, 255, 260, 261, 289, 293, 300, 322, 331, 335, 345, 355, 364, & 365

Bugger(s) or Buggered off – Pages 11, 51, 54, 55, 72, 85, 91, 182, 183, 205, 217, 274, 289, 299, 306, 307, 323, 327, 328, & 360

Cheeky Sod – Page 194

Chr*st – Page 364

D*mn, D*mn it, or D*mned – Pages 22, 59, 80, 157, 197, 256, 309, & 375

For F*ck’s Sake – Page 355

Git – Pages 181 & 337

H*ll – Pages 29, 59, 67, 72, 172, 195, 247, 261, 273, 280, & 364

Go to H*ll – Page 241

Haven’t a Hope in H*ll – Page 194

What, Where, or Who the H*ll – Pages 94, 101, 104, 117, 125, 167, 202, 204, 218, 224, 264, 270, 286, 304, 315, 320, 335, 347, & 354

L*rd Knows – Page 250

My G*d – Page 70

Piss-Taking – Page 195

Pissing Me Off – Page 54

Pull His Finger Out – Page 203

Shagathon – Page 241

Shagging – Page 237

Sh*t – Pages 37 & 47

Sh*te – Page 61

Sh*tty – Page 61

Sodding – Pages 22, 73, 121, 169, 172, 206, 212, 241, 242, 243, 335, 344, & 365

Taking the Piss – Page 5

Tits up – Page 180

Tiny as or Tinier than a newborn’s winky – Pages 33 & 301

Sensual/Sexual Moments

*DISCLAIMER: In order to be thorough, there are moments that will be spoiled in this section of my review.

SPOILERS INCOMING

Page 104 – Melissa feels attraction to Levi, a man who is not her husband

Page 169 – It’s implied that Melissa doesn’t want to mention Levi’s name to her husband

Pages 171 to 173 – Melissa hugs Levi & cries on his shoulder after a tense FaceTime conversation with her husband

Pages 190 to 195 – Melissa spends the day with Levi alone, having conflicting thoughts about her marriage. Aside from being alone together in a car on a day-long roadtrip, nothing inappropriate happens.

Page 206 – Melissa & Mungo are tangled up on the floor of The Veggie Rack covered in Jemima’s pumkin chutney which has exploded. Dottie walks in on them & assumes something else is happening. Melissa humorously describes the scene as looking like a “kinky sex session with a fetish for orange lube.”

Page 231 – Jemima describes Ned’s strong jawline & cleft chin as sexy, feeling nervous flutters as he’s buttoning up a coat she’s borrowing from him

Pages 236 to 238 – Jemima lets Melissa know the allotmenters are gossiping about her & Levi’s possible affair, & the latter exclaims “You wanted to be the one to blow the story wide open, and then you can confirm that we’re shagging like rabbits in the potting shed!”

Pages 240 to 241 – Melissa contemplates the affair rumours flying around & the silly idea that she’s “conducting a full-blown knocking shop.” She glances around her small potting shed & remarks “ . . . there’s hardly enough room to stash a folded deckchair, let alone perform some sordid affair or energetic sexual gymnastics! There’s a sodding window, for God’s sake! Someone must think I’m a right exhibitionist if this is my place of choice for frolicking.”

Page 241 – While conversing with Jemima, Melissa exclaims “Seriously, don’t you? Don’t you believe me and Levi are arranging sordid shagathons in here . . . me propped up on the rickety workbench over there and him squashed in between the sodding window and my new paraffin heaters!” Jemima humourously responds “I can just imagine it, though I suggest you focus a little more on comfort and ambience: a few candles and a swathe of rich fabric might enhance the boudoir effect for both of you.”

Page 242 – Levi tells Melissa the allotmenters are gossiping about Jemima & Ned possibly sleeping together

Pages 245 to 247 – While in The Cabbage Patch, Melissa takes the opportunity to tell off the allotmenters who are present, setting the record straight that she & Levi have never kissed or slept together.

Pages 262 to 264 – Melissa scolds Levi for not backing up her outburst in The Cabbage Patch, exclaiming “We aren’t a couple. We’re not having an affair or getting jiggy in my potting shed!” Levi criticies her husband’s disinterest in her needs & wants & implies he wants more in their relationship.

Page 335 – Dottie describes Natalia as “a real-life stunner exuding sex appeal and class”

Pages 344 to 347 – Levi and Melissa have a serious conversation in front of people at the festival before slipping away to a private corner and kissing. The chapter ends suggestively with both agreeing to meet back at Levi’s place.

Pages 348 to 349 – Melissa’s husband Hamish shows up at the festival to surprise her. While helping him look for his wife, Dottie spots Levi and Melissa gleefully leaving the manor together. Hamish doesn’t mention seeing them, but it’s implied that he did.

Page 351 – Jemima walks in on Natalia sitting on Ned’s desk and describes her skimpy attire.

Pages 356 to 358 – Dottie warns Melissa about Hamish being at the festival, and she goes straight home, kissing and making up with him.

Pages 366 to 367 – Jemima and Ned share their first kiss in the Lerwick Manor garden during the sweetest, most romantic moment in the whole book.

Page 378 – Jemima and Ned kiss again.

Trigger Warnings

Anxiety – Jemima’s struggles with anxiety are mentioned throughout the book. The worst & most described panic attack takes place on pages 353 to 355.

Infertility & Death/Loss – Jemima is dealing with the recent loss of her grandfather Thomas. There are also mentions of how she coped when her mother died of cancer.  There is a brief mention of Ned’s parents struggling to have a child as well as their untimely deaths from cancer. On pages 306 to 310, Dottie and Melissa find Bill who has died while sitting on his allotment plot bench; his body is removed from the property by an undertaker.

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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I Had the Holiday Blues | Belated Blogmas 2020

Another year, another failed Blogmas. I like to be consistent. 😂 This year my excuse isn’t work because I had less shifts than I’ve ever had in December thanks to 20% capacity in malls. My excuse this year is . . . um . . . well, I’m not actually sure what it is. Lack of motivation? I was excited for the holiday season back in October, but something inside me fizzled as the days went by. I didn’t put up my family’s nativity scene or watch my favorite Christmas movie The Nativity Story. In fact, I barely watched any holiday movies. I did listen to a fair amount of festive music, but that was about it. If you’re feeling left out in the cold over here on my lifestyle blog, I didn’t do Vlogmas for my YouTube channel either. I desperately wanted, nay, needed to be in the Christmas spirit this year, but I just couldn’t muster up the energy to celebrate. Despite an undercurrent of sadness draining my energy, I still managed to have a lovely day at home with family on the 25th. I watched The Santa Clause & played Crash Team Racing with my brother, cooked a repeat of Thanksgiving with my mom, & watched the Lakers game with my dad & brother. The Lakers beat the Mavericks! 💜💛 We ended the festivities with a fire, popcorn, & Wonder Woman 1984. I didn’t like it as much as the first movie, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Highly recommend! After that my brother & I watched Friends until midnight, the official end of Christmas. I guess all of that is a good metaphor for 2020, feeling down but making the best of the situation. In the words of Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane, “From now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow so have yourself a merry little Christmas now.” 💚 🎄 ❤

H A P P Y   H A N U K K A H  🕎  M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S  🎄  H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R  🎉 

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Support the Irish Arts

As I was writing this blog post, the Gilmore Girls episode currently playing on my iPad, season 3 episode 7, referenced Riverdance. That is the best possible sign that today is a great day to support the Irish arts! Former Riverdance dancer Kincaid Stringer & his mother Shannon Kincaid, a painter, have teamed up for a great cause. They’re selling seven of Shannon’s paintings through Indiegogo for a COVID-19 relief fund; all proceeds will support Irish actors, artists, backstage workers & crews, clubs, concerts, cultural & event spaces, dancers, dance schools, festivals, musicians, performers, singers, theaters, & writers. I grew up dancing & singing so the arts are very important to me. Riverdance is the reason I asked my mom to sign me up for dance classes at the age of four so the Irish arts are also very important to me. Let’s not forget my Irish ancestors! 🇮🇪 The arts have done a lot for us in quarantine so it’s only right that we give back. You can choose to only donate money or receive a painting or two or seven in exchange for your donation. If it’s not already obvious, I’m buying “The Dancer.” Can’t wait to have a gorgeous Irish dancing queen above my bed! 👑 Please consider setting aside $25, or more, to support a great cause & get a piece of Ireland for your home. 💚🤍🧡

*NOTE: The Indiegogo campaign ends on September 17th, & the paintings will ship in November. Because of COVID-19, please consider that shipping could be delayed.

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Irish people’s love of dancing has been well documented throughout their written history. In fact, one of the earliest references to dancing details a visit between the Mayor of Waterford and Mayor of Baltimore in 1413. The modern Irish dancing of today is no longer merely a processional combination of singing and dancing as an act of celebrating, but a sport that produces athletes that are physically strong, as well as creative and artistic. What was once a tradition specific to Ireland (as well as England, Scotland, and some parts of America) caught like wildfire in 1994 with the debut of Riverdance. The theatrical show consisting mainly of traditional Irish music and dance took the world by storm and has been a global phenomenon ever since. Now, twenty-five years later, the Irish dancing community consists of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world today. Teachers from around the world have committed themselves to spreading their love and passion for Ireland’s traditional form of expression. Regardless of how far a dancer progresses competitively or professionally, being an Irish dancer is something that is inextricably bound to their identity forevermore. In this piece entitled “The Dancer,” you feel the excitement, the confidence, and the artistry that comes from expressing a centuries-old tradition that has touched the hearts of many.  – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland and Scotland combined have a rich culture within the performing arts, which has resulted in a thriving gig scene. Musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries in order to create new and fresh work that is often steeped in tradition. Many are staunch believers that musical traditions must be preserved as they always have been – the “play it like my father used to” kind of sentimentality. Yet, every generation brings a new wave of talent that feels that this attitude discourages progress and evolution. This debate between tradition and innovation is a tale as old as time. Still, many feel it is possible to honour your origins while also exploring and adapting to the future; they are not mutually exclusive. Irish music legend, Míchéal Ó Súilleabháinn, believed that traditions are never frozen, but rather are fluid. He believed that the idea of authenticity originating from a pure source located in antiquity was bogus! This painting is for the new wave of artists and musicians who are creating some of the most incredible new-age folk / Trad music in the world. Project Smok, Beoga, Talisk, Ímar and the like are leading the way for the future of Irish music. – Kincaid & Shannon

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  – George Bernard Shaw

Ériu is the goddess of sovereignty and the mythological mother of Ireland. She is often interpreted as the modern-day personification of Ireland. Along with her two sisters, Banba and Fódhla, Ériu was a part of a triumvirate of goddesses. Before their final defeat, each goddess requested that the island be named for her. This was granted to all of them, but Ériu became the chief name in use. The old Irish name Ériu evolved into Éire in modern Irish and depending on the case is spelled Éireann or Éirinn. This is how we finally arrived with the English name for the country, Erin. The painting has been imbued with symbols to depict all that Ériu embodied within pre-Christian Irish culture. Ériu represents the sacred feminine, as illustrated in the column capitals, or the decorative element at the top of a column, that represent the three phases of a woman’s life cycle – the maid, mother and crone. The stars behind her and the lunala around her neck evoke her role as a lunar goddess. Her hair bleeds into the trees, depicting her connection to the earth and its bounty. She holds this bounty in her hand as a glass of mead, which was served at the feast of Goibhniu, and offered immortality to those that drank it. Around her head is a ring of knot work encasing the land, which is topped by the stone of divisions from the hill of Uisneach, the symbolic and sacred centre of the island in Irish mythology. Ériu’s bones are said to have been laid to rest on this hill and serves as a gateway between the Underworld and the world above. – Kincaid & Shannon

There is much more to an Irish pub than just having a drink. In Ireland, pubs are central to the way of life. Similar to a church, they represent a pillar of Irish social life and community. A place where pints, comfort food, live music, and sport can be always be found; somewhere you can meet friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers, in an inviting atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that recreations of Irish pubs can be found in any city around the world. O’Connor’s was opened as a pub in Galway in 1942 by Thomas O’Connor, and is currently operated by third generation O’Connors. Every inch of it decorated in eclectic memorabilia, the pub has become famous for its hospitality and world-class live music. So much so that Ed Sheeran used it as the location of his music video “Galway Girl” in 2017 featuring actress Saoirse Ronan, furthering the pub’s world-wide recognition. – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland has a rich tradition of various festivals taking place throughout each year. The Rose of Tralee was first held in 1959 and has since been held every August in Tralee, County Kerry, to select a young woman to be crowned the Rose. Cities all over the world host their own selection balls to determine who will represent them in Ireland. The festival bills itself as a celebration of the “aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility, and Irish heritage” of modern young women. Bursting with music and dancing, this festival celebrates the very best of Irish culture and the future of Irish relations worldwide. The winner and their family become a part of a global network, showcasing how Irish culture is thriving amongst the Irish Diaspora. They say, “Once a Rose, always a Rose.” – Kincaid & Shannon

A session is a casual gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music, usually taking place in a pub, but has also been known to take place on street corners or even in someone’s kitchen. Irish “trad” music has garnered a deep appreciation, not just in Ireland, but also around the world. It’s important to note that a session is more than just a casual jam between musicians – the focus is on the instrumental tunes found within the Irish tradition – reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slip jigs, and the like. Whether it be in a pub or someone’s home, sessions are times of brilliant music and ever-flowing drink that have a certain habit of continuing late into the night, if not into the wee hours of the morning! – Kincaid & Shannon

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

These are just two quotes from one of the biggest literary personalities in Ireland’s history, Oscar Wilde. A literary treasure, Wilde was a hugely popular playwright and poet in the late 1800s. Besides well-known works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lady Windermere’s Fan, his biting wit and flamboyant style gained him notoriety as well. As a people, the Irish are known for their good sense of humour, which has bolstered them during periods of great hardship throughout history. Wilde embodied this intrinsically Irish trait to the very end. Even as he faced death, he was cracking jokes and reportedly said, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” A collection of art in support of Irish culture would be incomplete without paying homage to Oscar Wilde. – Kincaid & Shannon

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAx8IE3PTk&feature=youtu.be

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Quarter Life Crisis

As of November 5th, I am 26 years old. Year 25 was NOT a walk in the park for me. I have really struggled with energy & motivation & purpose this past year. I am so passionate about what I do online, but being defeated time after time after time is so deflating. My Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube follower counts barely go up from month to month. I stay up late editing videos & writing blog posts, but it feels like no one cares when I make my work public. I worked for weeks & hours on my Tarzan video for the Disney+ Dream Job contest. I was so incredibly proud of what I produced, & yet I didn’t get one of the five spots to watch 30 Disney movies in 30 days for $1,000. Instead of breaking down barriers, I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall that isn’t going to budge. Is year 26 going to be better, or do I have to accept that I’m not meant to do this any longer?!?

How do I turn this into a positive? One step at a time. I may not have won a check for a Disney+ marathon, but I’m going to do it anyway. Starting November 12, I will be watching a Disney show & movie every day for 30 days. Don’t worry! You can follow along on here, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube. Just use my links listed below to make sure you’re following me with notifications turned ON. 🍋 This is called turning lemons into lemonade. 🍹 I’m also trying to step outside my comfort zone & interact with people I follow on social media. Scary! 😱

🌻 Go enjoy your Saturday readers! 💛 Hopefully it’s cold & feels like the holiday season wherever you are because California is still HOT. 🥵 🙄 😂

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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2018 Reading Wrap-Up

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For once, I completed my reading goal with time to spare & exceeded it by two. I set my goal at 55 and completed 57 books. Yay! 🎉 Now for the semi-disappointing news: I didn’t complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I could beat myself up, but reading is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Not all of the 2018 challenges matched up with what I wanted to read last year, and that is okay.

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📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read

📖 A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste

📖 As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

📖 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

📖 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

📚 A Book in Translation

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book You Can Read in a Day

📖 Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

📖 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

📖 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Scream All Night by Derek Milman

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Athur Conan Doyle

📖 The Little Android by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 Pages

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

📚 A Book by a Favorite Author

📖 The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie Bookseller

📖 Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

*Note: This category doesn’t (necessarily) count. Even though Hiddensee is on an IndieBound list, I didn’t read it because of their recommendation.

📚 A Banned Book

📖 N/A 

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative Nonfiction

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your Own

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch)

📖 The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel (Mexican)

*Note: The definition of “ethnicity” is different depending on who you ask so I relied solely on where an author was born. I didn’t include British authors because of my own family’s roots, but perhaps that was just overthinking on my part.

I also read:

📖 A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet

📖 Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts

📖 Cress by Marissa Meyer

📖 Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 Fairest by Marissa Meyer

📖 Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 In The Woods by Tana French

📖 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

📖 Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

📖 Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett

📖 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

📖 The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

📖 The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

📖 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

📖 The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

📖 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

📖 Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

📖 We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

📖 Winter by Marissa Meyer

📖 Written on the Wind by Judith Pella

Total: 9(ish) Challenges & 57 Books

⬇️  Here are all of my 2018 reading-related links  ⬇️

2017 Wrap-Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vKpIwxNQxM&t=2s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HGW-XvQ6N0&t=9s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo45XqUaUFo

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyEZ9gzZb8c&t=288s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHZs4Lxxr30&t=714s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUz0HJjwdUg&t=1s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMmn3r4M4_Y&t=5s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BthNgFtCHOM&t=3s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyvAdtvthT8&t=14s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORnYN7RZZDo&t=4s

📚 Stay tuned for my 2019 reading plans! 📚  

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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• Previous Post: Aquaman Review

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I’m a Terrible Blogger

Six months without a word. Boy do I have a real gift for consistent blogging! 😂 I have a couple of good reasons so bear with me while I make excuses. Number one, I had a two-month work project. Adulting at its finest! Number two, I’ve been going through a creative slump. I can only maintain two blogs & a YouTube channel for so long before I need a break from one or more outlets.

As you can tell from the photo above, I have moved on from the spookiest month of the year because CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE!!🎄 My Christmas playlist has been on since yesterday, and I just drank my first peppermint mocha frappuccino of the season. I am feeling very merry and bright, although my feelings are subject to change after work tonight. 🙄 I let you down in 2018 as a blogger, but I’m going to try and make it up to you during the holiday season. I’m still in retail (UGH) so stay tuned for a roller coaster of emotions. Can’t wait! 🤪

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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C O L L A G E :

2012. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2433396/. Accessed 2 November 2018. ( Top )

2005. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/winter-break-according-to-the-office. Accessed 2 November 2018. (Bottom)

Dry Brush Kit | Minamul

I tried dry brushing for the first time last year, and the following is my review posted on amazon.com:

⚠ Disclaimer: Minamul contacted me to review their product, and I chose to do so because I was genuinely interested. This is an unpaid & honest review.

📝 Note: I have yet to use the konjac sponge therefore I have no thoughts regarding that product.

Information – There is a helpful chart that demonstrates what directions to brush in; it also has instructions for using the konjac sponge. Other than that, there is no information on what each brush is for or the benefits of dry brushing. I had to do outside research to fill in those gaps. It would be beneficial for the company and convenient for the customers if that information was provided in the bundle.

Brushes – I have sensitive skin, and the brushes, surprisingly, did not cause any irritation. With even pressure, you should feel a tingling sensation, not pain.

Side Effect – Not long into the process, I developed a painful breakout on my legs, specifically my thighs, which forced me to stop dry brushing below the waist. Because this product is meant to clean out the body, I don’t fault the company in any way. I just want future customers to be aware.

Results – After each dry brushing session, my skin felt softer and rejuvenated, and my mood was calm and relaxed. Even though the breakout on my legs was painful, it proved that the dry brushes work efficiently to clean out the body. It’s difficult to define the results because most of what is expected to happen is internal, not external. However, what I experienced is enough to know that these products are effective.

My main issue with this product has to do with the lack of educational information. Also, I am less likely to make another purchase from Minamul because I don’t need the entire bundle again, just some of the individual products. However, I assume that over time they will expand their product line so I will definitely be checking for updates. Overall, I think this bundle is great quality and perfect for first-time dry brushers.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Contact me for a 20% off coupon code! 😎👍 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

M i n a m u l   •   L i n k s

➡ A m a z o n

➡ F a c e b o o k

➡ I n s t a g r a m

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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New Name, Same Blog

My eagle-eyed followers might’ve noticed a big change on my blog, but allow me to make an official announcement for those who missed it. I started this blog in the midst of my poet phase of life, but it’s been awhile since I transitioned to lifestyle content. I’ve wanted to change the name for years but hesitated due to the cost. Last week I decided to take the plunge & couldn’t be happier with my decision. This blog has officially changed from laurenmichelepoetry.wordpress.com to laurenmichelelifestyle.com. Thank you so much for faithfully following my blog! I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for my little corner of the internet.

• 🎨 • My art blog also has a new name ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ laurenmicheleartblog.com • 🎨 •

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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• Previous Post: When It Rains, It Pours

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When It Rains, It Pours

It has been a rough few days in my household. After my cheerful blog post on Tuesday, things went downhill. My mom got really sick & went to Urgent Care which turned into an emergency room visit. She used to be a nurse so sickness rarely affects her unbelievable threshold for discomfort & illness. I knew the pain was serious when she sought treatment from a doctor. Approximately fourteen hours later, all tests had come back negative, and my very tired parents were back home. I was worried sick about what the illness might be, but nothing major appears to be wrong. My mom is strong & healthy, and I have no doubt she’s going to make a speedy recovery. I swear she is a living, breathing superwoman. The day she got sick, she bought groceries & dinner despite the pain. After everything was unloaded from the car, she said the following to me: “Here’s the food. Please fill this container with dish soap. I’m going to Urgent Care. I’ll be back.” If you think that sounds nonchalant, you are correct. She might as well have said “I’m going to the nail salon. I’ll be back.” I want to be her when I grow up! 💪🏻

In the midst of being concerned for my mom, I received a distressing email early Wednesday morning from YouTube. According to their new standards, I am no longer eligible for their YouTube Partner Program. This means I lose out on making money from my videos as well as helpful features such as creating my own thumbnails & scheduling upload times. I wouldn’t still be a YouTuber if money was my main motivation, but what little I do make helps me to continue creating content. It is so motivating to watch my monthly income increase month by month thanks to increased viewership & support. Right now the news feels like a punch to the gut, but I refuse to let this stop me. I am here to stay for as long as I feel inspired to make videos. If you want to support my channel, thank you from the bottom of my heart! <3

The cherry on top of this emotionally draining week is a bit more humorous. Thanks to the amount of clothing I have jammed into my teeny tiny closet, the right pole flange (look it up) broke. I had to remove one of my hanging shelf organizers on the other side of the closet, no easy task when you’re angry & tired, and make space for some of the clothes about to fall to the floor. Just what I needed to cheer me up! 🙄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Mad Dash

I need you to sit down & settle in for part two of my blog post from yesterday. About 15 minutes after it was published, my phone rang. Thanks to caller i.d., I knew it was one of the managers from my retail job. Forgetting that my phone was charging, I grabbed it only to have it ripped from my hands. While the ringing continued, I frantically searched my room on hands & knees. I finally found it on my bed (hold your laughter), but the ringing had already been replaced by a voicemail. I will now take you back to about one hour earlier. While eating dinner, my mom implied that I had to work that evening. I replied that she was thinking of my closing shift on Friday. I was 100% sure that I had two days off before my two weekend shifts so I didn’t even bother to check my schedule, which is something I do religiously. Fast forward to my manager’s voicemail. I was 15 minutes late for my closing shift, and she was wondering if I was ok & still coming in to work. In an outright panic, I called the store to let her know I would be there as soon as I could to replace a fellow associate who couldn’t stay much longer. Feeling like a horrible person, I got ready as fast as humanly possible, which is no easy task when you’re shaking like a leaf and clumsy. It would’ve been  much easier if I hadn’t had a ton of coconut oil in my hair. I didn’t want to look like a greasy mess at work so I had to wash my hair, two shampoos required. I put on as little makeup as I was comfortable with and braided my hair, all of which looked as effortless as it actually was. A hoodie, jeans, and boots completed the look, and I was out the door. I received the call around 5:15 and made it to work right before 6. For the first hour my body was shaking uncontrollably, but I eventually settled down. It wasn’t the restful night I had planned, but everything turned out ok in the end. On the bright side, I am free as a bird today. Go ahead & laugh now. I am.

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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