30 First Dates

Book: 30 First Dates by Stacey Wiedower 

Synopsis: Erin Crawford is a relationship blogger with a bucket list and a vendetta. After years of horrible luck in relationships, she decides to start a blog called "30 First Dates." Her mission: go out with 30 men before her 30th birthday, all to find a non-jerk in 30 dates or less. As she blogs about her sometimes humorous and sometimes laughably bad dates, she crosses off her bucket list of 30 things she wants to do before she turns 30—and kills two birds with one stone by completing the items on her dates! In fourteen months she skydives, skinnydips, crashes a wedding, travels to multiple cities and lives way outside her comfort zone. The only question is, as her birthday approaches and her list grows smaller, will Erin be able to find love? Or is she destined to be a first-date-only kind of girl? [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

The thing about reading chick lits is you open yourself up to a certain predictability in terms of the story-telling process. It's popcorn romance on paper that happens to be just as comforting as a night in with Netflix. But then you kind of realise that after going through the library of RomComs on Netflix, there's certainly a big difference between an ABC/Hallmark movie as compared to the classics that we all secretly still own and collected on DVDs. The stories are cliche, but it all goes back to the story-telling, the characters and the lessons learned in between.

I wish I could rate this book with as much stars like the reviews on Amazon, but 30 First Dates is simply a mediocre attempt at trying to be romantic, witty and empowering. In the first five pages, you've pretty much solved that entire plot, and it was quite an accomplishment that I actually finished it. It did have some moments of sudden insights, but overall if I needed a reminder from life, I would reach for other books. 

On a more personal note, it scares me so much that the life I imagined by 30 is no where close to what I plotted it out to be a decade ago. In fact everything during that college conversation in the bench never came true. Perhaps it was flawed from the beginning, given I was planning a life with my then boyfriend whom I thought was perfect for me because he checked out perfectly on my list. Looking back on it now, everything was just one big illusion that I set myself up to believe my life was moving towards a direction with a future plotted out highly dependent on external factors to make me happy. 

There's something about turning 30 that I can't seem to properly grasp, or at the very least I am trying to let it go. It is definitely a milestone, much like turning 18 or 21, but to be driven mad by society's definition of what 30 has to be is something I am working on. Sometimes it is difficult to wake up in your late twenties only to realise that you haven't figured anything out, even worse if you realise you haven't actually lived. So yes, I am working on that and just reminding myself that sometimes my life doesn't have to be the perfect time line. 

Book Quotes: 

"Why did thirty feel like this precipice—this craggy, critical ledge with a 10,000 foot drop and no safety net?"

"Were those things Ben talked about—house, mortgage, kids—the net? Were they the answer? Those things she hadn't known she wanted, at least not consciously, now felt like some giant secret the rest of the world had failed to let her in on. A great big cosmic joke on her."

"Nope, it was growing pains—that was all. Thirty was the new twenty. She just hadn't grown up yet."

"If you want to do something different, do it. This is the time of life to figure stuff out. Obviously you've figured that out or you wouldn't be writing the blog. So you've already taken some chances. Take another one."

"She was a different story. She felt like she'd been running on the same track for years and suddenly realised it was the wrong track."

"You're young, you're smart, you have every single opportunity in the world out there waiting for you to grab it. You aren't tied down to a mortgage or a husband or even a job anymore. And so you don't have any of those things. So what? You still have time to create yourself, to figure out what you love to do. A lot of people recreate themselves over and over again. If you don't experience new and different things, how can you even begin to know what is right for you?"

"I only wish I had that kind of fire about something more important than my own fumbling inadequacy at committing to a profession or holding down a relationship."

"She'd wanted to change her life, and now it seemed her life was changing her."

"Honestly, the more perfect somebody's life looks, the more complicated it probably is."

"How will you know if it's the right move?"

"Love just wasn't something to be experimented with."

"I've learned you can't always will life into the shapes you want it to fit into. I've learned that things you think you want might not be right for you, and things that look like mistakes might take you exactly where you're supposed to be. I've learned you don't have to get it all right on the first try (unless you're skydiving). I've learned not to judge other people, because you're every bit as screwed up as they are. I've learned what failure feels like, and I've learned to look at failure as opportunity and opportunity as success."

Book Rating: 2/5

Reading Map:

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Change The Way You See Yourself by Cramer and Wasiak


The Story of Us

Book: The Story of Us by Dani Atkins 

Synposis: Emma Marshall can't wait to marry her childhood sweetheart, Richard. But then a tragic accident changes everything, and introduces a stranger, Jack, into her life. Gorgeous and mysterious, Jack is like no-one Emma has met before. But Richard is the man she loves... Two different men. Two different destinies. How will Emma end her story? [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

I had downloaded this book on my Kindle several months ago and started reading it, then stopped for reasons I cannot quite remember but I would probably assume it was because I got busy or was it because I moved back? Nevertheless I found myself on a train back to Milan from Pisa with about two and a half hours left of travel and having just finished my last book I decided to scan through my library and came across this book that was left behind. Well, I restarted it and then I couldn't really stop.

There was something with the way the author would write these breaks in between, something like a flash forward but you're not quite sure how far along into the future it is. Just when you think you had the story figured out, a "page break" (that's what I will call it since I'm not quire sure what the technical term is) would happen and you'll be sucked right back in the story out of sheer curiosity- what will happen next?

I think that's what I enjoyed most about this book, those flash forward page breaks would give an air of suspense hanging over you and it urged you to keep on reading to uncovering the story little by little. I also enjoyed how the author touched on very delicate life struggles without being too overbearing or patronising. I think it was very important that she was able to balance it because if it wasn't written with much care, the book could've easily been very tacky but she was able to pull it off with much ease.

Book Quotes:

"We cried for a long time, clinging together but saying nothing, because sometimes the pain is just too great for words to be of use, and the only thing you can do is hold on tightly to someone you love, until it stops trying to rip your heart out through your chest."

"Take time to heal... All will be well, but it takes time."

"Then you will have to speak fast, because I hear the union is only giving you an hour for lunch."

"For a man who made his living using words, he certainly knew when they weren't required. I really liked that."

"Now that man needs subtitles. I have no idea what he just said. Was he even speaking English?"

"I spent longer trying to invent this ridiculous excuse to call you than I do outlining the plot of an entire thriller."

"Richard isn't a bad man. He's a good man that did a bad thing."

"Home is where the person you love lives."

Book Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Map:

Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

You're The One I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

The Notebook (Movie) who wouldn't love to see RyGos and McAdams?! <3>


The Rosie Project

Book: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Synopsis: The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. 

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you. [via Amazon]

Book Notes: 

Here's the thing about this book: The premise is quite obvious. Dorky, square, science nerd falls for the last woman he would ever expect. It really doesn't get as complicated as that. But why, you wonder, is this book on Bill Gates' Summer Recommendations? Well maybe aside from the fact it might have hit close to home... 

Simply put, the characters were very well-constructed. They felt tangible and real. Very human. And I think thats what makes this book stand out a lot, that despite the cliches, the author was able to create characters that are very rich that as a reader you were just drawn into them like a moth to a flame.

It's a perfect, light hearted book that has a ton of laugh out loud moments. And boy-meets-girl story aside, its a beautiful book to remind you that getting out of your comfort zone ultimately leads to the most rewarding things in your life.

Book Rating: 4.8/5

Reading Map: 


Flat-Out Celeste

Book: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park 

Synopsis: For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation. 

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe. 
Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him. 
Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love. 

Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love. [via Amazon]

Book Notes: I guess this is one of those better late than never posts. Routine has always eluded me, but I am trying to be more habit forming this year. As with any resolution, January seems to be the ultimate highlight of the latest version of ourselves. Well, while we're working on version 2.8, lets see how far I get along once again. 

I still remember reading this third instalment curled up getting a foot massage with my friends and I was trying so hard not to burst out laughing in this very serene spa in the province. I was however, smiling wide toothed, which made them curious as a cat as to what was getting me all giddy.

In true Jessica Park fashion, she managed to weave a beautiful story together that triggered heart felt emotions and attachments for the reader. I really enjoyed how her characters are troubled, yet optimistic. Real but with a strong heart. 

The Amazon synopsis says that you can pretty much jump into the series, but I would highly recommend reading the first two books, so you can fully understand and love Celeste. She is really very interesting, and I think its very important that you must learn to love her in the other books prior to this one to fully grasp her very complex personality. 

Oh and despite Celeste being the protagonist of this book, Matt and Julie are back as well! And I cannot stress enough that reading the first two books would really make this third instalment the icing on the cake!

Book Quotes: 

"My expectations are not high." "Then the odds of your being disappointed just dropped astronomically."

"It was devastating. And it was devastating that she even cared, because her value system was not one that contemplated a woman's happiness being dependent on the presence of a fairy tale love life."

"Never trust an atom. They make up everything."

"in terms of dating, if males are drawn to me for my appearance, they are soon discouraged by my other qualities. Eccentricities, of which I know I have many, do not hold universal sexual and romantic lure. I understand that."

"Why's it called Pinocchio's? Are they all liars?" She smiled. "No. The owners want to be real boys." "Maybe that's just what they told you." He winked. "But you can't trust them because they're lying."

"Love is complicated, that life is complicated. There are hard paths we go down, but there can be determination to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. We make choices."

"That's the thing about music. You get to make it mean whatever you need it to mean."

"Wandering leads one to the church of alpine sheep."

"You tolerated all of my craziness. You made me happy."

"Come to the nerd side. We have Pi."

"Dear Algebra, Stop asking us to find X. She's not coming back."

"I am embarrassed because things that are easy for other people are challenging for me."

"There are battles, some greater than others. But they are worth getting through."

"We can only fix ourselves." He braked at a red light and turned to her. "I was just there to support you while you did that."

"when one is so deeply engaged in joy, all else ceases to exist. Joy, she decided, wins out over everything."

"Oh look! You already packed!" "God, I'm so smart," he muttered.

"I see. Do you have a hangover? Why do they call it a hangover? What is one hanging over?"

"Celeste, you are who you are. Don't be ashamed of yourself. At all. Surround yourself with people who cheer you on. That's all."

"What is perceived as normal. That makes it other people's failings. Deficits. Not yours. Who the hell sets the standards, huh? who gets to say how we are supposed to be? Or who we are supposed to be? And how dare anyone make you feel inadequate for being who you are. It's not okay. It pisses me off."

"Don't stop me from having a Helvetica good time."

"Sometimes you need someone else to believe in you, to carry you, until you can do that yourself."

"You are more capable of being loved than you understand."

"Sometimes you have to make a mess." "And then you clean up."

"Live the life you've dreamed."

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

Book Rating: 5/5

Reading Map:

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park


2015 Book List

1. Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern
2. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
3. One Night @ the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat
4. One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin
6. The Heir by Kiera Cass
7. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
8. How to Fall In Love by Cecilia Ahern
9. You're The One I Want by Giovanna Fletcher
10. Sealed With A Kiss by Rachel Lucas
11. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
12. The Story of Us by Dani Atkins
13. The Martian by Andy Weir
14. 30 First Dates: A Romantic Comedy by Stacey Weidower
15. Silver Lining Playbook by Matthew Quick
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated Copy by J.K. Rowling

Back to Top