1980 Project: December & January Update

As previously posted, I am hoping to donate at least $1,980 this year before I turn 40. I want to highlight a few of the charities I’ve supported along the way.

December – $195.66

  • Support Abby’s Hope
    The niece of one of my closest friends is fighting a stage four glioblastoma and her family needs support while they support her.
  • Stem from Dance
    I heard about this from Isabella Boylston’s Instagram for Giving Tuesday. Selfishly, I donated in order to receive a personalized Christmas card from one of my favorite ballerinas. But it’s a good cause nonetheless.
  • Bothell UMC
    I attended this church on Christmas Eve with my family. I know the UMC is going through some issues right now, but this was, hands down, THE MOST inclusive congregation I’ve ever been a part of. The pastor was engaging right from the jump about everyone of different sexualities, genders, races, economic status not only being welcome there, but BELONGING there. They also were raising money for a charity for high school students experiencing homelessness, but I can’t remember what it’s called right now. Top notch church!

January – $138.27 (so far)

I also plan to donate to earthquake relief in Puerto Rico, who cannot seem to catch a break, but will need to wait for my second paycheck of the month.

The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

33393989._SY475_Turns out, when you’re the driver, you don’t get a lot of time to read on vacation. However, I had plenty of time to finish up the second half of this novel on my flight home this morning. It really was the perfect holiday read, even if it’s set in the summer.

Ren (short for Serendipity) is a property seeker, visiting Ireland with her assistant Kiki (seriously!) to find the perfect retirement location for a client. She and Kiki stay at an inn across from Tara (from Breakfast at Darcy’s) and meet men during their first ten minutes there. It’s all very Hallmark Christmas movie (minus the Christmas – can you tell what I’ve been watching for the last two months?!).

There’s also a bit of Irish folklore and a mystery house in the mix, but I was much more interested in the romance. There are, of course, tragic backstories on both sides, but neither of them quite as tragic as the characters make them out to be. The ending was a little too Hallmark for me, but my flight was landing, so I was happy all the same. Score another win for Ms. McNamara!

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

47956293._SY475_I get a daily email, Bookperk, from Harper Collins that lists out discounts (from free to $2.99 usually) on ebooks for that day only. I picked this one because it looked like a Hallmark movie in book form (and it was free!), and I was basically right. It’s the perfect book to devour while waiting for a flight to your Christmas holiday plans (especially if that flight is first delayed by weather and then delayed because the captain hadn’t arrived yet!).

Isobel is an Australian travel writer whose landed in London for the week before Christmas for a quick holiday. She’s literally bowled over by a handsome man in the first two hours and then runs into him again the next day during a last minute work assignment. He’s an up-and-coming actor, who is getting famous, but not paparazzi mobbing him at an ice rink famous. At least, that’s not really one of their problems.

In fact, it’s just a fun story about two people falling in love at Christmas in London (so you know, ALL of my favorite things!) and the real misunderstanding doesn’t come until about 83% of the way through book (I love how Kindle keeps track of where you are). But not to worry, that misunderstanding lasts about ten minutes before all is forgiven, and it’s Christmas. I had basically figured out the ending, but not how they got there, so it was lovely. It was also nice to read some Aussie Chick Lit, even if the whole thing is set in London, so I think I’ll be reading this author again in the new year.

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage by Ali McNamara

I recently found a gift card to Barnes and Noble as I was cleaning up around here. Given my new infatuation with ebooks, I discovered that they have a Nook app for iPhone (but not for Mac, which is a little annoying), so I quickly set about buying a few books I’ve had my eye on, but the library doesn’t own.

29429793._SY475_This was such a great palate cleanser from the last few books I’ve read. I’ve forgotten how much I LOVE Ali McNamara books! I still hope there’s another in the From Notting Hill… series, I’m loving her standalone novels as well. I started reading this while getting a pedicure this afternoon and basically couldn’t put it down until I’d finished!

Set in a seaside British town, Grace takes us through a few flashbacks to show us how she got to where she is in 2016. She’s about 10 years old than I am, so I’m familiar with her cultural reference points, even if they aren’t my own. In 1986, when she’s 15 years old, she happens upon a typewriter that can vaguely predict the future. Much like your horoscope, it’s right more than it’s wrong in hindsight, but it helps propel Grace to do things she wouldn’t do otherwise, which ultimately guides her life the way it’s “meant” to be.

She’s got dueling love interests, but like the Hallmark Christmas movies playing on repeat, it’s pretty obvious from the get-go who she should be with. I don’t always agree the choices she makes or the conclusions she reaches from her typewriter interactions, but she’s not usually deliberately dumb. And as a person who is staring 40 in the face, it’s nice to see someone my own age get her “happy ever after” without too much whinging about getting old or if it’s too late.

I Heart Hollywood by Lindsay Kelk

11053942It was a little difficult to jump back into Angela Clark’s world after spending so much time in WWII with Maggie Hope, but luckily, the second book in this series was a quick read. While the world has obviously changed a great deal since the Maggie Hope days, it was kinda funny to think about how much the world has changed in the 10 years since this book came out. No iPhones to start (which would have made things even more complicated), but she is futzing with a Blackberry and leaving voice mails.

Angela gets an assignment that takes her to LA to interview the top movie star in the world, even though she has literally no experience. Her BFF Jenny tags along and they stay at the LA version of the hotel where Angela stayed in the last book. (They also drop in that there are versions of this hotel all over the world, so yeah, there’s more books to come in this series!) Angela is already freaking out about her boyfriend hooking up with a groupie when she’s in LA (for a SINGLE WEEK, I might add) and not so much that she has no idea what she’s doing (or that her work visa hangs in the balance). Luckily, her interview subject is keen to keep her employed, though not for the reason she thinks.

I remember now why I needed a break from this series (though I’m sure I’ll go back from time to time). Our heroine spends more time drunk without being an alcoholic than basically anyone I’ve ever met and makes the wrong choice at basically every turn. It does get a little crazy with paparazzi and TMZ and such as any novel featuring celebrities is wont to do, but most of the issues could be avoided if she stopped drinking eleventy million drinks every night and focused on her job for more than two seconds. And while I’m happy for where Jenny ends up, the constant focus on labels of dresses is tiresome. We get it, you own a Marc Jacobs bag, next please.

Things end in a good place for Angela, so I don’t feel bad taking another break from her terrible decision-making. For a writer, she’s not very good at using her words.