Sisters – film review

Sisters is the hilarious new comedy from Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Two sisters struggling to move on in their adult lives come home to Mom and Dad’s to clear out their childhood rooms in preparation for the sale of the house. While reminiscing, they decide to throw one last epic high-school style party with all their old friends. Cue the shenanigans.

Trailer (via youtube)

Ok, I have to admit I didn’t think this movie was going to be all that great. I went to the theatre with my Mother and oldest niece (14) to see something else but tickets were sold out and this was the only other film playing at the right time.

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It. Is. Hilarious. I freaking loved this movie. I almost had to leave the theatre because I was seriously worried I would pee my pants from laughter.

Now, it was also completely INAPPROPRIATE for a  14 year old girl. I was worried about that but the theatre said it was rated 14A. Um, no. After seeing the movie, I definitely feel it was Rated R and now I can see that is what the trailer was rated as well….. So my sister might be a bit mad but thankfully that will fall on “Nana’s” shoulders, not mine. Phew.

But seriously, I highly recommend that you go and watch this movie. Both my Mum and I agreed that it was the most we had laughed in a theatre in a very long time.

The part with the music box, between Maura and her beau …. good lord. You can’t get funnier than that.

There were two things that really stood out to me in this film.

John Cena’s part actually should have been expanded. He does have his tough guy-bouncer moment but it was very comedically done. Not bad since this is a comedy but I think the film could have afforded for him to be a bit more … well more, in that moment.

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I also would have loved to see him and Kate (played by Tina Fey) develop a relationship. I thought he was going to help her rescue Hayley; it would have been cute to see them together in the “post-script”, and would have been in keeping with Kate’s personality. Sure, she learns a little more responsibility, but no one changes overnight. He might not have been the best parental role model, but that wasn’t really the moral of the story.

Secondly, and as I said to my Mother as we walked out of the theatre, “I didn’t take you and Dad selling the house that badly”. If you don’t know, I am highly resistant to change, and didn’t exactly handle it well. In fact, when they sold my childhood home I stopped speaking to them for a bit and it took several years before I was completely over it.

Because I am.

Over it.

Totally.

As I was saying … Sisters is cute. It’s funny. It is even romantic. And it reminded me that I’m all grown up when the sexiest point in the movie was James repairing the ceiling he fell through for Maura, while the party rages on around them.

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xx

 

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Tomorrowland – film review

Tomorrowland (2014) is a futuristic movie about a second dimension that is inter-layed over Earth. The people who live there are the brightest and most optimistic from our planet, and are selected by highly advanced robots mandated to seek them out.

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From imdb:

Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

Trailer

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Tomorrowland’s magic stems from the enthusiasm of the young teenage protagonist and the wonder of the technology of the future. It was inspiring to see such a clean city full of life, to witness the jetpacks and trackless sky-trains and space travel.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see very much of that. In “present day”, the city of Tomorrowland is collapsing and seems nearly empty except for robots and security personnel. The residents of Tomorrowland know that our world is collapsing and despair and depression seem the dominant attitudes among them. Many of the former wonder-kid inventors have been expelled from the city, including the character played by George Clooney.

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What I didn’t like about this movie is that it didn’t live up to the fabulous potential of such an imaginative idea. The writing was sub-par and sort of unravelled half way through. It felt like someone got lazy, like they came up with a great idea and then didn’t have the motivation to see it through.

It is established that Tomorrowland will continue on unimpeded even though our world is ending, but everyone seems to have left it anyway. There are a few robots here and there and the city’s ruler and his minions. That’s it. Most of the city is in a state of disrepair. There is never any explanation given except for “they built something they shouldn’t have”.

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Athena: “They built something they shouldn’t have. And I think you can fix it”.

But that isn’t entirely true. And even if it is, their world isn’t being destroyed by this invention, ours is.

In many ways, Tomorrowland feels like the technological version of Neverland. You don’t have to grow up there. Emotionally, “creationally”, or even physically. I wish that the wonders of that world – what surely drew in audiences from the trailer, especially adults – had been explored further.

Unfortunately, between the lazy producing and writing, the movie fell far from expectations. It is supremely disappointing to see a fairly original idea fall flat, especially from a powerhouse like Disney.

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xx

A Feast for Crows – a review

This is the fourth book in mega-franchise Song of Ice and Fire … aka Game of Thrones.

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Blurb:

It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears… With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist–or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.

But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces–some familiar, others only just appearing–are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.

It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes…and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests–but only a few are the survivors.

—                           —                           —

NB: This review will contain spoilers from books 1-3.

Firstly, can I just say that I understand why everyone wants to be Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms? This is a pretty fabulous hometown, I would want it too.

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A Feast for Crows marks a departure from the previous books in this series in a number of ways. Firstly, you don’t see the perspectives of all the key players in the Game of Thrones. Only half of the characters will have their stories told. The other half have their stories told in the subsequent novel, A Dance of Dragons. As such, the novels take place simultaneously, whereas the series was previously told chronologically.

I do not like this new style. After finishing Crows and (at the point) getting about halfway through Dragons, I certainly feel that the pace of the story is much slower. And in an intricate and highly detailed story, it can be difficult to go back and think to yourself while reading Dragons, ‘ok, this happens when blankedy-blank happens in Crows’.

There are a few websites out there run by what I can only assume to be dedicated superfans, who have stitched the timeline of the two books together for other readers. If you are willing to read Crows and Dragons simultaneously, these sites outline the sequence of chapters from the books to give you a chronological timeline.

I thought about using this to read the books (I’d been forewarned) but I worried it would be too much of the world, and I wouldn’t make it through. I have to have a good break between books of a least a few months, or I find that I can’t get through the second novel.

So with that having been said, here are my thoughts on A Feast for Crows!

 

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Petyr Baelish aka ‘Littlefinger’   I found Petyr be less fun and a whole heck of a lot creepier than he was in the previous books. He comes across as a real ‘come get candy out of the back of my van, little girl” kind of guy. I definitely like his portrayal better in the show, where he is deliciously creepy but in Crows, he has an “ick-                                                                                        factor”.

 

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Jaime Lannister aka ‘Kingslayer’     Jaime is much more clever, serious and responsible in this one. He reads less as a spoiled (though talented) courtier of the most powerful noble family in Westeros and more as a ‘man’. It is too bad that he and Ned Stark were enemies … if they had of spent a lot of time with each other, I think that each would have improved the other.

I foresee Jaime becoming more of a heavy hitter as the series continues and think he and Cersei will be less of a dynamic duo. (okay, very minor spoiler in this sentence) I really loved that Jaime tried his best to keep his promise to Catelynn Stark and to protect Sansa. It will be fun to see if they ever cross paths, or if he finds out that Arya is still alive.

 

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Cersei Lannister aka ‘The Queen’   Cersei. Ugh. She was deliciously evil in the previous books and starts out that way in Crows. As much as she is the antagonist, there were things you had to admire in her and at times I even pitied her in the past. Not so much now. I wonder if Cersei is losing her grip on reality since Joff’s death. She is certainly a worse ruler and cannot keep up with the changing hands of power in King’s Landing. The Kingdom is on the brink of collapse  and for once it has nothing to do with usurpers to the throne.

Cersei is nowhere near as clever as she thinks she is and is so terrified of losing another child, that she acts blindly. Pride goeth before a downfall and that is most certainly going to be the case for her. She has received fantastic advice from Jaime and her Uncle but doesn’t trust them, just as she had no respect and grace in receiving Tyrion’s assistance during Stannis’ invasion. I’m going to foretell her demise in the forthcoming sixth book.

 

Game-of-Thrones-game-of-thrones-21613125-500-281Samwell Tarley                                     I think that Sam should get the “most improved character” reward. His story-line went from mainly whining about how cowardly he was and ‘just leave me here to die’ melodrama to interesting and exciting. His plot has finally divested from The Watch and the reader gets to see more mysticism entering the series in The Citadel. This hasn’t shown up yet on the show; it will be interesting to see the new sets and meet new characters when it does.

 

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Brienne of Tarth

Brienne’s journey was pretty boring until the very end of the book when things got serious right quick.

Her’s is one of the stories I am most looking forward to exploring in the future. She meets Lady Stoneheart. If you don’t understand who this as you read the books, google it. Very important, but too spoilery to post here.

 

sansaSansa Stark aka ‘Alayne’

Sansa is just beginning to make her transition from young, feeble-minded girl to confident woman. She isn’t playing the Game of Thrones yet, as portrayed on television, but she is heading in that direction.

I enjoyed A Feast for Crows but not nearly as much as I enjoyed A Storm of Swords. Then again, how could you top a book that contained both the Red and the Purple Weddings?!

A lot of new, seemingly unimportant characters are introduced in this one, from The Prophet, and The Captain of the Guards to The Reaver, The Iron Captain, The Drowned Man and the Queenmaker. While I’m sure they will contribute to the breadth of the story later on, as I was reading, it felt like filler. It was difficult to keep track of everyone and I missed the heavyhitters who were saved for Dragons, like Dany.

If, like me, you struggle a bit with this book, give into the internet and do some quick googling. Especially if you have seen the HBO series or are unafraid of spoilers. At this point, you probably won’t find too many major spoilers because you are almost up to date and it really increases the experience by having all these random bits explained … like the real identity of Lady Stoneheart. The tower of the hand website was my favourite information guide.

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xx

The Undomestic Goddess – a review

Sophie Kinsella is my favourite contemporary British author. She’s writes humourous chick lit, and let me tell you, it is hard to find funny adult books!

My favourite aspects of her novels is their lightheartedness and silliness, and that they are such quick reads. You can breeze through one in an evening, or pick it up and continue from where you left off three weeks ago, no backtracking required.

Here are the deets:

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Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

—                          —                               —

I envy Samantha. She walks out of her old life and mindlessly, accidentally finds a fabulous new one. And yes it is quite a mess at first. She has to work really hard to learn new skills and smooth over seemingly impossible situations but she does so with grace and never doubts her ability to overcome new challenges.

I constantly doubt myself and certainly don’t seem to have the fire that Samantha feels inside, even at her lowest point.

The number of times I’ve wanted to just walk out of my life, get on a train and make a fresh start somewhere else… ! I feel like I get the chance to live a little vicariously through Sam.

I admire her ability to turn a fresh start into a really positive life, building a network of new friends and family around her and you can see where her life is heading at the end of the book. It takes great confidence to turn your back on something you have been working towards for your entire life when you realize that it isn’t what you really want, and to re-invent yourself. Particularly when everyone from that old life tells you that you’re crazy.

Highly recommend this one for a light read.

* * * * *

xx

Holiday Laughs

Cherise Sinclair is one of my favourite bdsm authors. Not just because she is a great writer but because she also goes above and beyond with little treats for her readers.

Like this gem over at Herding Cats blog today   http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com/2015/12/afth2015-with-cherise-sinclair.html#disqus_thread

Hilarious whether you’re familiar with her books or not.

North Pole: Open for Christmas – film review

Open for Christmas is the 2015 sequel to last year’s Christmas movie, North Pole. It stars Lori Laughlin (Aunt Becky from Full House) and the adorable Bailee Madison.

A successful businesswoman, Mackenzie, inherits her beloved aunt’s inn, and chooses to restore the hotel to its original grandeur only to sell it right before Christmas. Unbeknownst to Mackenzie, she receives some unexpected help from a team of elves headed by the cheerful Clementine, who help Mackenzie rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

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This is such a cute and entertaining Christmas movie! I really loved it and am so thankful I recorded it on television. I liked it much better than the first movie.

First-off, way better Santa. Why do producers keeps casting homeless looking Santas??? Santa is Santa people. It works for a reason. Don’t mess with my Santa.

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Secondly, Clementine’s positivity and laughter are just infectious. She raises my spirits and I really hope they make another movie in this series for next Christmas. I think Bailee Madison (who plays Clementine) and Candace Cameron Bure would make a great pairing.

Open for Christmas has a more unique plot than most Christmas movies have so I won’t ruin it by discussing in depth here. I loved the idea of the red ribbon game throughout the inn and the reminder to slow down and enjoy every moment.

It is important year round but especially this time of year, when we are so frantic, it can be easy to lose track of the real meaning behind the season.

I definitely recommend tuning into this film!

* * * * *

xx

Capture Me – a review

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A new dark romance series from the New York Times bestselling author of Twist Me

She fears him from the first moment she sees him.

Yulia Tzakova is no stranger to dangerous men. She grew up with them. She survived them. But when she meets Lucas Kent, she knows the hard ex-soldier may be the most dangerous of them all.

One night—that’s all it should be. A chance to make up for a failed assignment and get information on Kent’s arms dealer boss. When his plane goes down, it should be the end.

Instead, it’s just the beginning.

He wants her from the first moment he sees her.

Lucas Kent has always liked leggy blondes, and Yulia Tzakova is as beautiful as they come. The Russian interpreter might’ve tried to seduce his boss, but she ends up in Lucas’s bed—and he has every intention of seeing her there again.

Then his plane goes down, and he learns the truth.

She betrayed him.

Now she will pay.

NOTE: Capture Me is book 1 of 4 about Lucas & Yulia from the Twist Metrilogy. It’s not necessary to have read that trilogy to enjoy Capture Me, but the book does contain major spoilers for books 2 and 3 of Twist Me.

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Capture Me by Anna Zaires is the first book in a spin-off quartet from the Twist Me series previously reviewed on Mackenzie’s Mountain. Capture Me features fan favourite Lucas with Yulia, the Ukrainian woman who betrayed Esguerra and co, causing their plane to crash.

Capture me is the first in another set of dark romance novels. And I think it is a key example of how great Anna’s writing is. Because I really don’t think that I should have liked this book. But I loved it.

Capture Me is relatively short compared to books I usually read, which is normally a turn-off. There is very little interaction between Julia and Lucas for the first half of the book, because the author is setting up the circumstances that led to Yulia’s betrayal and the behind-the-scenes machinations, following the plane crash, that the reader missed in the previous series. Also something that I usually dislike in a romance.

And yet, I couldn’t stop reading.

Zaires’ writing is compelling, with just enough action to keep things moving quickly but not so much that it seems over-the-top. She really understands her characters and has them react in realistic ways. I can easily place myself into the position of Yulia or Nora because my reactions would follow the same paths as their own.

I am super excited for the follow-up, Bind Me which is due to be released in early February.

* * * * *

xx

Exquisite Redemption Release Blitz

I am lucky enough to be helping to promote Exquisite Redemption,  in exchange for the arc I received earlier for review. This release is being hosted by Once Upon An Alpha.

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Now, on to the good stuff!

In my wild, reckless past Carlos ‘Beach’ Rodriguez would have been my ideal man. He’s handsome, experienced, rich, kind, and in complete control of his destiny. Unfortunately he’s also a criminal, the President of an outlaw motorcycle club, and I’ve sworn off bad boys in my efforts to live my dream of being normal. It would be so much easier to resist him if he hadn’t saved my life more than once and didn’t treat me like his queen.

Gorgeous, smart, and deadly, Sarah is my ideal woman, even if she is almost young enough to be my daughter. On the surface she’s one of the toughest females I’ve ever met, but underneath all that hard beauty and menace lies an incredibly tender heart that’s been damaged in the past. Winning her love is gonna be a challenge, but I’m determined to have her as my old lady and I’ll do whatever I have to in order to make that happen. That would be a hell of a lot easier to do if people weren’t trying to kill us all the time.

**Author’s note- This is part ONE of TWO for Beach and Sarah’s story and ends on a Happy For Now. Book TWO of Beach and Sarah’s story will be available February 4th, 2016.**

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25840161-exquisite-redemption

Amazon US: bit.ly/exquisiteredemptionus

 

 

About the Author:

With over forty published books, Ann is Queen of the Castle to her husband and three sons in the mountains of West Virginia. In her past lives she’s been an Import Broker, a Communications Specialist, a US Navy Civilian Contractor, a Bartender/Waitress, and an actor at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

She also spent a summer touring with the Grateful Dead-though she will deny to her children that it ever. From a young Ann has had a love affair with books would read everything she could get her hands on. As Ann grew older, and her hormones kicked in, she discovered bodice ripping Fabio-esque romance novels. They were great at first, but she soon grew tired of the endless stories with a big wonderful emotional buildup to really short and crappy sex. Never a big fan of purple prose, throbbing spears of fleshy pleasure and wet honey pots make her giggle, she sought out books that gave the sex scenes in the story just as much detail and plot as everything else-without using cringe worthy euphemisms. This led her to the wonderful world of Erotic Romance, and she’s never looked back.

Now Ann spends her days trying to tune out cartoons playing in the background to get into her ‘sexy space’ and has accepted that her Muse has a severe case of ADD.

Website: http://www.annmayburn.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RomanceAuthorAnnMayburn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnMayburn

The Globe 100

Well the Globe and Mail published their list of the best 100 books of 2015 this week. One of the things I really like is that they have the covers of all the books on their page which helps jog your memory if you aren’t sure whether a title is familiar. You can also search by genre or collection.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t recognize many of the books on their list. It’s amazing how far behind I’ve fallen after being out of the book industry for a year.

Nevertheless, I am going to try out a few of the recommendations posted. The good news is that these are the types of books that should all be available from my local library! Free is good.

I just picked these two up:

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Blurb:

A heartfelt and wondrous debut, by a supremely gifted and exciting new voice in fiction.

Will has never been to the outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their little world comprises only the rooms in their home, each named for various exotic locales and filled with Will’s art projects. Soon the confines of his world close in on Will.

Despite his mother’s protestations, Will ventures outside clad in a protective helmet and braces himself for danger. He eventually meets and befriends Jonah, a quiet boy who introduces Will to skateboarding. Will welcomes his new world with enthusiasm, his fears fading and his body hardening with each new bump, scrape, and fall. But life quickly gets complicated. When a local boy goes missing, Will and Jonah want to uncover what happened. They embark on an extraordinary adventure that pulls Will far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers.

If I Fall, if I Die is a remarkable debut full of dazzling prose, unforgettable characters, and a poignant and heartfelt depiction of coming of age.

 

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Blurb:

Spanning thirty years and three continents, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigan family, and her four children.

Ardeevin, County Clare, Ireland. 1980. When her oldest brother Dan announces he will enter the priesthood, young Hanna watches her mother howl in agony and retreat to her room. In the years that follow, the Madigan children leave one by one: Dan for the frenzy of New York under the shadow of AIDS; Constance for a hospital in Limerick, where petty antics follow simple tragedy; Emmet for the backlands of Mali, where he learns the fragility of love and order; and Hanna for modern-day Dublin and the trials of her own motherhood. When Christmas Day reunites the children under one roof, each confronts the terrible weight of family ties and the journey that brought them home. The Green Road is a major work of fiction about the battles we wage for family, faith, and love.

Sending everyone good-book wishes!

xx

On Strike for Christmas (film review)

On Strike for Christmas is a tv movie that airs often on the W network this time of year. Starring Daphnie Zuniga, David Sutcliffe, and Julia Duffy, it was released in 2010.

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Essentially, a group of neighbourhood women band together and go on strike for Christmas to show their families how much work it is to put together the magical holiday experience. They are attempting to gather a little empathy for the time and energy spent doing things for loved ones and encourage said family members to keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas: to give thanks for what you have, and give of yourself unto others.

A lot of tv movies are pretty blah. Not something to hold my attention certainly, but a nice bit of companionship/distraction to play in the background while doing something else, whether that is writing, decorating, cleaning, baking, etc. However, On Strike for Christmas is hilarious.

I was laughing out loud. I LOVE the boys’ baking scene in particular. This movie is genuinely funny and actually has a pretty heartfelt message.

In particular, the women’s realizations that maybe it isn’t such a black and white situation. Sometimes others don’t help in the way we want, maybe they don’t do things how we would, but it doesn’t matter. If someone serves with a gentle and giving heart, appreciate their efforts in the spirit with which they were given.

I’m probably not who anyone would describe as a feminist, but in my own way, I am. I firmly believe that women should just be true to themselves and follow their hearts. As I tell my teenage niece, just “do you”. If you are a career woman, girl take on the world. And if that means being a stay at home mom, then change the world through your kids, by teaching them to be shining stars and empowering them to follow their own hearts too.

In terms of the “holiday effort” referenced in On Strike for Christmas, most of the time we ladies could do a lot less at the holidays and our guys and children would still be perfectly happy. There is something in me that drives the need for perfection, as if I am failing otherwise and the holidays are ruined. We as women, put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure that everything is perfect. But it’s not really the external demands of others causing this pressure, it’s in us. Maybe we learn that as young’ins, but it definitely is something that burns hot and hateful in me, and most of the other women I know as well.

If the tree isn’t perfectly decorated and fluffed, I doubt my Dad would notice. My uncles won’t care if I make both regular and sweet mashed potatoes. If I don’t perfectly pipe chocolate name-cards for the dining table, my family probably won’t boycott the next holiday I host.

So kick back with loved ones and enjoy a great movie. Try not to let the little things tear you down with holiday stress. Because life is short and it really doesn’t matter. If it isnt something you are going to think about on your deathbed in eighty years, it doesn’t matter now. Let it go and relax!

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xx