Brooklyn in Love by Amy Thomas

About the Book: 


From the author of Paris, My Sweet comes the story of a modern woman embracing love, motherhood, and all the courses life has to offer. 

On an island where finding love can be just as hard as finding a dinner reservation on a Friday night, Amy Thomas never imagined a family would fit into her lifestyle. So when Amy finds herself turning forty, moving to Brooklyn, and making way for a baby with a new man in her life, she realizes that starting over may be her biggest opportunity yet.

 

But how do you balance staying out all night dancing with staying up all night soothing a baby? Can a lifelong city girl trade in spontaneity for domesticity? Set amid the backdrop of Brooklyn and Manhattan’s foodie scenes, Amy sets out to make her second act even sweeter than the first. 
Praise for Brooklyn in Love
“Amy Thomas’s heartfelt tale of a modern woman embracing marriage and motherhood is a New York City fairy tale, complete with dazzling romance, delicious food, and the perfect happy ending: Brooklyn ever after.” – Ann Mah, author of Mastering the Art of French Eating and The Lost Vintage
“I became infatuated with Brooklyn in Love. I inhaled the pages on sidewalks and subways…savored every word as if it held all the answers to my life. And in a way, it did.” – Alyssa Shelasky, author of Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen
“The relatable and honest storytelling that made Paris, My Sweet so endearing returns for this delightful journey of self-understanding and joy through the lens of love and food.” – Lindsey Tramuta, journalist and author of The New Paris
“Brooklyn In Love is a story of love, soul-searching and delicious moments, memories (and addresses!) all wrapped into an enchanting and mouth-watering part deux for our favorite sweet freak Amy Thomas.” – Kristen Beddard, author of Bonjour Kale
“Made me homesick for New York — and very hungry. Once again, Thomas has followed her heart – and her sweet tooth – toward a new life.” – Elizabeth Bard, New York Times bestselling author of Lunch in Paris and Dinner Chez Moi
About the Author: 


Amy Thomas is a New York–based writer who, for two lucky years, got to call Paris home. In addition to working as a copywriter in advertising, she writes about food, travel, design, and fashion for various publications such as the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Town & Country, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is slightly obsessed with sweets.

My Review: 

When I requested this on NetGalley, I was taken in by the title. Brooklyn in Love. It seemed quirky to me, different. I enjoy memoirs, as they are a way of getting to know someone through their writing and experiences in life. I was curious to see the links between the words food family and finding yourself, and just a look at the cover of this book (also very cute, quirky and original) I finished the book in a matter of hours. I was that absorbed in the writing. 
As a person who is not from the USA, or New York but has been there, I could identify with the busy bustle of Manhattan. This was something I immediately loved when visiting New York City. I’m a city girl at heart, but enjoyed accompanying Amy on her retelling of her journey in this book. I have never been to Brooklyn, and have only seen it on TV, in films or travel shows. 
This book wasn’t just any “stroll around the local neighborhood,” though. It’s a culinary treat. I could smell and practically taste the cakes, pastries and treats and different dishes Amy ate in her daily life in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Paris. I have a Geography degree and adore traveling. The book was also a travel log for me. I’ve been to Paris, and loved it. Amy effortlessly captures the essence of what Paris and New York are. From the chic and homely eateries to the world-famous sights, I really felt as if I were there. 
Apart from all this, there’s a deeper, more personal side to this book. I enjoyed seeing the more intimate parts of Amy’s life, love, loss joy worry. I identified greatly with the happiness found at being in a relationship, at the difficulty finding housing and making a life for yourself in the big city (multiple times, no less) with the pull and rush of being back somewhere you love and where you really feel at home. 
This memoir made me ask questions: what is happiness really? Is “home where the heart is?” I found Amy to be a very strong and resilient person throughout, and was rooting for her. I rejoiced and identified with her passion for Sex and the City and her boxset of the series (a passion I share for mine). It was a perfect personal detail given that much of the story took place in New York. 
By the end of this book, I was sorry it had ended. I felt I really wanted to go to New York again and to see the city and also Brooklyn for myself as it certainly seems like an interesting melting pot of an area. In answer to the questions I had, I think, really “home” is where you want it to be, where feels best for you. 5 stars to this beautiful memoir! It made me feel hope, loss happiness and so many other emotions. For me, that’s the best type of memoir there is. Brooklyn in Love is truly powerful. 
Thanks to Amy Thomas and Sourcebooks for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. It was a real pleasure to review this and to be a part of the blog tour. I’m looking forward to reading Paris, My Sweet, a Year in the City of Light next!


Katherine’s Book Universe

Guest Post from Amy Thomas:

My journey as a writer

 

Writing is something I’ve always done (I still have my 8-year-old poetry journals!), but I don’t think it was until my early twenties that I thought to seriously make something of it. By then, I was working as a copywriter in advertising so I was definitely on track. But then I started becoming more and more curious about editorial writing. While building my career in advertising, I started taking some writing assignments on the side. Simple things like store and café reviews for Citysearch.com (remember that??) and writing articles for a friend of friend’s startup magazine. 

 

I essentially just kept working my way “up.” I took writing classes and joined writing groups so I understood better how to pitch stories to magazines and newspapers. I pitched lots and lots and was rejected all the time. But sometimes I got the assignment. Sometimes that led to repeat assignments, and sometimes it led to developing relationships with editors, which is always a good thing. 

 

I think a big turning point for me was in 2008 when I pitched an article to the New York Times Travel section. The idea? Taking the city’s then-new public bike system, the Velibs, on a tour of all the city’s best chocolatiers (pretty irresistible, right?). The piece, Le Tour du Chocolat, became one of the paper’s Top 10 Travel stories of the year and led to many subsequent assignments. 

 

Then, just the next year, I ended up moving to Paris. I was still working as an advertising copywriter but living abroad gave me new opportunities to pitch more unique and exotic articles, which I did as often as possible. 

 

Throughout all of this, I was also working on a book proposal. It was initially meant to be a guide to New York’s best sweets, but with my change of location, it became a bigger story. Over the course of a year, the idea evolved and eventually became Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate).

 

With the publication of Brooklyn In Love, and still the occasional freelance article, I feel like I’ve achieved my goal to be an established writer. There’s always more to write, better assignments to land, but I think that’s one of the great things about being a writer: you can always keep going. There will always be ideas, destinations and debates to explore. Now that I have a husband and child, my time is more limited, but I’m excited for the journey of being a writer to continue.

 
 
Buy Brooklyn in Love here! 
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2DEjVhf
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2DdU0MB
Book Depository: http://bit.ly/2FJ1fgZ
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2D95Asf

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan  tells the story of Delilah Blackthorn . She doesn’t really have a very fulfilling job and in fact gets fired from it. Her brother JP is very close to her and she looks after him when he breaks both wrists. JP is the brain behind a scheme to help Delilah ‘s friend Becky who has just given birth to a premature baby. He set up a website for the haberdashery shop that is in their family and asks people to knit a woollen hat for the baby. 

Multiple people end up responding to the request and Becky and her boyfriend are delighted. 

Delilah and JP have had a difficult past because their parents did not have a lot of money. Even when Delilah does not have the job that she was working at the beginning of the story JP hope to see the positive side of life. I was really taken by their aunt Mags, as well as Delilah herself and JP. Having been a premature baby myself, I really felt for Becky . After a brief period of feeling a little sorry for myself, Delilah is back on track and fighting to get her life back.
The book is not the first one that I have read by Poppy Dolan. I have also read The Bluebell Bunting Society.

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is a wonderful story of fighting for what really matters to you and is a great feel good story with some funny parts and romance within the plot.

 Thanks to Poppy Dolan and Canelo publishers for my ARC. 

Blog Tour: The Joy Plan – How I Took 30 Days to Stop Worrying Quit Complaining and Find Ridiculous Happiness by Kaia Roman

Today, I’m celebrating the Day of Joy in conjunction with the publication of the book The Joy Plan by Kaia Roman! Read on for ways to bring joy into your life today, and every day, and enter for a chance to win a Joy Book Basket. Many blogs are participating in the Day of Joy, and mine is just one of them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Kaia Roman is the author of the new book, The Joy Plan (Sourcebooks, July 2017). She teaches Mindfulness to elementary school students in Santa Cruz, California and is a blogger for minbodygreen and other sites. She writes about how she went from joyless and anxious to grateful and optimistic so she can remember how she did it if she forgets. For everyday joy and mindfulness tips, sign up for Kaia’s newsletter at TheJoyPlan.com. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Joy Plan is an interesting take on how you can better confront and tackle head-on, the problems, worries and challenges you have in life. This is the first book I read by Kaia Roman. The Joy Plan has a fun title that made me request it from the publisher out of curiosity. I have a thing for books based on, or influenced by, people’s personal experiences. This book is told in an approachable style that informs, teaches and opens your eyes to what Kaia experienced and what readers can too if they make some changes to their lives. Through combining personal experience with tips and tricks, Kaia writes in a way that means, whether you read this in one sitting or dip in and out of it, you will take away something important.

Thanks to Kaia Roman and her publisher for my eARC copy of this book via Netgalley.

Q&A
These are the questions I asked Kaia, and what she answered:

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

As Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you’re longing to read and you haven’t found it yet, then you must write it.” That’s why I wrote The Joy Plan—because I needed to read it.
I mean, I’ve read a lot of self-help books and blogs that told me WHAT to do. They told me to “relax,” “think positive,” “stay calm,” “meditate,” “don’t worry, be happy”—and it all sounded good in theory. But I still didn’t know HOW. HOW do I actually do that???
So in The Joy Plan, I address the HOW.
For example, I go into the specifics of how I switch from a negative thought to a positive one, explaining the science behind this process. Because even though this may seem simple enough, I know I for one need step-by-step instructions and a thorough explanation.
Today, The Joy Plan sits on my nightstand and is a daily practice for me. I still have anxiety—there are days when I hide under all the covers and pillows I can find. I still worry, I still complain sometimes, but I know how to catch myself now, and how to turn my thoughts, words, and actions in the other direction.

Where did the inspiration for the book’s title come from? It is unique.
I wasn’t planning to write a book. It was only meant to be a blog post. But it kept going and going and was simply too long. Thus, The Joy Plan was born. I didn’t know what to call it, so I asked my daughter Kira, who was 9 years old at the time, for her advice.

“What’s the book about?”

“It’s about how I made a plan to find joy for 30 days and what I did during that month and the things that happened afterward. Plus a bunch of science and stuff,” I answered.

“So you made a plan to find joy…why don’t you call it The Joy Plan?” she said. (Kira is a marketing genius.)

What brings joy to your life?

I could say my children, my husband, my friends, my work, and that would all be true. But mostly, I am so grateful that I’ve finally figured out how to tap into my joy no matter who is around me or what is going on in my life. Having a regular mindfulness practice has really helped. I now know that my experience of life isn’t about the problems or triumphs I’m experiencing on the outside, it’s about the interpretation of it all that I’m experiencing on the inside.

If there were one thing you could suggest to people that would help them be happier in life, what would it be?

I think gratitude is the fastest, easiest lifeline to joy you can grab on to. I start every day with a short gratitude meditation. This sets the tone for my whole day. Throughout the day, I consciously look for things to appreciate and be grateful for. Thoughts of gratitude release dopamine in the brain, which feels good and lowers stress. The more frequently you train your brain to focus on what you’re grateful for, the more easily your thoughts will gravitate toward optimism And since your thoughts inform your words and actions, and your actions contribute to your experience of life, gratitude can quickly change your reality.

What do you most enjoy doing when you are not writing?

I love to be in nature. These days, because I’m living in Santa Cruz, California, my favorite place to be is in the redwood forest. I spend so much time connected to technology—my phone, computer, one sort of screen or another—that when the work is done, I like to completely unplug and go deep in the woods.

How do you cope with writer’s block?

Funny enough, I find my creative juices flow much more freely when I’m experiencing some kind of struggle in my life. I’m not alone in this—many famous artists and creatives faced hardships or struggled with depression. Not that I’d trade my happy life for creative output. I just wait it out, knowing the inspiration will come again, and hoping that I’ll have a pad of paper or a keyboard nearby when it does.

I have never written a self-help book, so what advice would you give me on where to begin and any tips for the writing process of a book in this genre?
Writers I admire like Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Lamott talk about planting your butt in the seat and writing, every day, no matter what. Whether it’s good or bad, whether anyone else ever sees it or not, just keep writing. Write what you know, write from the heart, and back it up with research. Like anything else, good writing comes from practice, regardless of the genre.

Does listening to music while you write help you? If so, what type of music?

Actually I need relative quiet when I’m writing. The noise in my head is so loud that it can’t compete with music. I love music, but just not when I’m writing. But at all other times, bluegrass is my favorite.

Where do you most like to write?

My husband teases me that I would be happiest in a dark cave or isolated tower where I can write, undisturbed, for days on end. And he’s pretty right. When I write, I close the curtains in my office, and go into a world of my own, ideally with as little outside input as possible.

I want to close this special post for the Day of Joy with some tips from Kaia herself on how to find joy in your life.

5 Tips to Finding Joy in Your Life, and How to Start Today!

A few years ago, my business crashed and my self-esteem hit an all-time low. Although there are far worse fates than the failure of a business, it felt like the last straw in a long string of failures in my life that all pointed to my inability to do anything right.
As I sunk into depression, my friend Niko suggested that if I focused on making joy my top priority for one month, my entire life would turn around. With no job, no plan, and no other ideas, I decided to give it a try.
For 30 days, I went after joy from all angles—from the scientific to the spiritual, and everything in between. I tried every tool and trick that was recommended in every self-help book I could get my hands on. It was remarkable to see what worked and what didn’t.
And yes, Niko was right. After 30 days, I had experienced enough changes in my life that I was able to not only continue my Joy Plan, but to write a book about the extraordinary events that took place in the six months that followed (The Joy Plan, Sourcebooks, available here).
The Joy Plan has become a way of life for me now, and the discoveries I made during my experiment are now my everyday practices. The good news is, you don’t need to take 30 days or make major changes in your life to do these things—they are simple enough that you can start today!
1. Embrace Mindfulness
Today, I teach a research-based Mindfulness curriculum to elementary school children. Because I’m a total science geek, to me, mindfulness is all about physiology. It’s about doing whatever it takes to bring your attention to the present moment, into your body, and out of your chattering mind. And it’s been shown to have multiple health and brain benefits.

2. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
I start each day with 10-15 minutes of gratitude, either by writing in my gratitude notebook or simply reciting in my mind what I’m grateful for. This helps me get into the right headspace for whatever the day will bring. It is impossible for our brains to be in a state of appreciation and fear simultaneously, so I do my best to appreciate like crazy as often as possible.

3. Practice Acts of Kindness
Being kind to others feels good. In fact, it releases dopamine in the brain. It helps take our attention off of our own troubles, and also creates a feeling of interconnectedness. I try to do something kind every day, whether that’s as small as smiling to everyone I see or a big as making a donation to my favorite charity.

4. Focus on Solutions Rather than Problems
It took me some time to break the ingrained habit I had of frequently complaining, but making this shift has had a huge effect on my mental state. Instead of complaining now, whenever there’s something I’m unhappy about, I use my urge to complain as a springboard to create something new—to focus on a solution rather than a problem.

5. When in Doubt, Laugh
Laughter really is the best medicine, but the truth is, I’m a pretty serious person. I like scientific research, philosophical discussions, and big ideas. So I have to make an effort to create more laughter in my life. I make it a goal to laugh (by myself or with others) at least a few times a day, and I use whatever means necessary! (Smiling works too : )

Unfortunately, joy doesn’t come easily for everyone. But with practice and repetition, joy is a habit that anyone can cultivate. As we shift our mental habits, we change our experience of life.

Great advice and tips, Kaia!

I have one last surprise. Enter this giveaway and a Joy Book Basket could be yours! Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

Click here to win a Joy Basket!

You can help  spread joy today by posting a photo of whatever brings you joy to Instagram and/ or Facebook using #thejoyplan and #dayofjoy.

Review: Garnier  Antiageing Day Cream 35+

We all worry about our skin ageing and do what we can to protect it. I have been using Garnier’s Sleeping Cream which is an anti-ageing moisturiser. 
I needed a daytime moisturiser, and wanted to try this.


 It is formulated for people aged 35+ and in the few days that I have been using it so far I have noticed that the texture is very soft and absorbs really quickly. It also has a nice fresh smell and does not block my pores either, I would definitely recommend it, either as your first Antiageing cream or if you just want to try a different cream. I compared creams first and decided that this was the one for me as a preventative measure against  skin aging although I do look after my skin well and have a good skincare routine. At €4,50 it is a good price too. 

Verdict: 10 out of 10.

Sunday with a Sassy Shopaholic: new bag! Massive Makeup Revolution and Freedom Makeup London online Haul! 

This week, I got a cute bag from my mum.


I also got my first ever order from the TAM Beauty website. For those of you who don’t know, this is the new home of Makeup Revolution, Freedom Makeup London and I Heart Makeup as well as a few other brands I have not tried yet. 

 I bought Freedom Animal Print  Highlighter in Meow, which is the lightest shade in the range. 


the Iconic Collection palette 


which is a limited edition 144-shade eyeshadow set. 

The Amazing Eyeshadow Set in Celestial, which has 5 shades: 

 Pink Diamonds Mini Brush Set 


and the 9 Piece Brush Set. 


As I wrote on this blog before, I have had a long search for a good quality, affordable brush set. I already have the Mini Pro Go Set from Makeup Revolution, but wanted a full size set by them . Luckily, a while ago, their 9 Piece Brush Set was on sale in the offers section of the website for £10, half the price it is usually (£20). In fact, all of the items that I ordered except the highlighter were on sale. The Pink Diamonds brush set was £2.50 reduced from £5, as was the Amazing Eyeshadow Set. The Iconic Collection Palette was also £10. All in all, I saved £30 on the original price that I would have paid had the sale not been on – what a bargain! I am so glad I ordered them because the eyeshadow palette, eyeshadow set and Pink Diamond Brush set were not stocked in my local drustore, and the 9- piece brush set was much more expensive there than on the TAM Beauty website. The Freedom highlighters were sold out in every single shade, and I am still waiting for an email from the drugstore to say that they are back in stock. I had the Iconic Collection Set and the 9 Piece Brush Set on my Christmas and birthday list, but when I saw that they were half price online I thought I’d treat myself to them. Nothing like a ( very early) Christmas and birthday present, seeing that my birthday is in December. 

First impressions are that I like the products. The brushes are really soft just like the Pro Go ones, and there is an amazing selection of colours in the large palette. There was a lot of  cardboard packaging and cellophane  wrapping and the parcel was huge overall. I am glad I was able to take advantage of the offers. I’ll blog about the products and swatch then when I have a chance to try them properly. 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend! 

Review: Narcisco Rodriguez For Her EDT 

This perfume has peach, patchouli musk and rose notes. I could automatically smell the rose and the peach, but on me the other notes were more subtle. I have never tried this perfume before, but decided to try it because I was given a sample during one of my beauty product sprees . It is a very light perfume and I think it could be worn either day or night. Now that I have had the chance to try it, I think I will definitely be putting it on my list of perfumes to buy! I absolutely love all of the ingredients in the perfume, and it is also good that the musk is not too strong.
Verdict: 10/10

Cheap &  Chic Review: Tai & Jon Rosa Mosqueta (Rose Hip) Hand Cream

The cream comes in a cute and pretty compact 50ml pot which is the perfect size for traveling or keeping in your bag. 

The lid twists on and off and fits securely so you need not worry about the packaging splitting or product leaking out. This is fortunate for me because I don’t have much strength in my hands and fingers. For  a budget drugstore hand cream that costs just €1, this has a surprisingly rich texture and an intense smell of roses that is not at all overpowering. It is absorbed into the skin very quickly and does not leave a greasy residue. 


The cream makes my hands, which can get very dry, feel really soft and nourished, and the scent lasts well. A good budget all-round alternative to  hand creams from  more expensive brands like The Berkeley Square Cosmetics Co or Crabtree and Evelyn, both of which I have tried and will review. 

If you don’t like roses, the cream is also available in Argan Oil and Red Fruits fragrances. 
Verdict: 8/10

Review: Kiko Milano Gloss Lipstick in #803- Flamingo Pink


This was one of the lip products I had wanted to try for awhile, and which I bought during my first online haul. The packaging is minimalistic, as is always the case with Kiko. It has the texture of a lipstick and the look of a gloss. The SPF 15 was why I bought it.

 The colour looks brighter off than on, but has a great feel and great shine.

It is nonsticky. A nice subtle shade that feels comfortable on, but I was expecting a brighter colour. 

Sunday with a sassy shopaholic: Cien Makeup is back! (aka new Cien products) 

I was excited when Thursday came around, as I knew Lidl Cien Makeup would be in my nearest Lidl again. This is about the third time, and the second time I bought something. I was especially looking for the lipsticks and read up about popular shades and swatches on other blogs beforehand. 
I decided I wanted a pale pink lip pencil and also a lipstick. I ended up coming back with two jumbo lip pencils in shade 03 Love Letter, two Lipsticks in 40 Frappuccino and 41 Bordeaux Love a kohl pencil in Brown and a lipgloss in 30 Nude Lips. 6 products for €11.94 is not bad. I also discovered a Nyx store, but I hope to go there another day. I discovered Nyx products a few weeks ago and need to check out their range in more detail to see which products I am going to buy. I have heard great things about Nyx makeup!