The overwhelming theme of my week is “overbooked.”  I am overbooked in almost every possible way right now and not in a good way, like “I’ve been asked out by so many gorgeous guys, I can’t find enough days in the week to accommodate them.”  And not, “I have so many book signings and appearances on talk shows like Ellen and The View and the requests keep coming faster than I can book my first class flights.”  Those kinds of overbookings, I would cherish! 

Work – My day job is so busy right now that I had to have a meeting with my boss regarding my backlog and how long it would take me to get to it.  I am confident enough to state publicly that anyone who has ever worked with me in my trademark paralegal capacity knows that I am always on top of things.  I work very efficiently and am consistently one step ahead.  Lately, however, assignments have been coming at me faster than I can get to them.  The attorneys with whom I work usually do not require things on an urgent basis and so I have been trying to deal with stuff on a priority basis but even stuff that is not “time-sensitive” cannot sit unfinished indefinitely. A little backlog is actually a good thing because on slow days, I always have something to do.  I cannot remember my last “slow day.”  Currently, I have emails that I reviewed, determined as low priority and marked as “un-read” to be dealt with at a later date crowding my email inbox and causing that annoying “Your mailbox is almost full” warning.  We also assumed responsibility for a new client a few months ago and I have twenty boxes of files to go through and this is on top of my long list of deadlines and work that is generated from clients and attorneys on a daily basis.  I’m doing the best I can, but there were a few times over the past week when I wanted to run to the bathroom and cry. I haven’t done that since I was in my early twenties and a newbie at juggling so many assignments at a time.   My workload is officially “overbooked.”

Plans – I’m a social person and I love to make plans with my friends for evenings and weekends.  At the same time, I require a certain amount of downtime and don’t like to go out every single night.  I couldn’t afford to anyway.  Most importantly, I’m a writer if I’m ever going to make a dent in my fourth novel, continue to promote A State of Jane and Just Friends with Benefits and work on launch plans for Blogger Girl, I need to make the time when I am not working as a trademark paralegal.  Because of this, I often book my plans in advance.  At this time, I can’t really afford to be spontaneous since for the next three weeks, I already have plans booked for several times a week. In that same vain, my friends and I are suckers for all of those deals offered by such vendors as Amazon Local, Blackboard Eats, Thrillest, Bloomspot etc.  I currently have three unused deals that will expire in the next couple of months, along with several more that my friends purchased.  I’m not complaining about having a fun life, don’t get me wrong.  But damn, it’s exhausting sometimes and I wish some of my friends weren’t so cool – it would be so much easier to ditch them if they were lame!  (On a somewhat related note, to those friends who I owe emails, Jenny, Elke, I mean you, I’m sorry!  I’ll get to it.  At some point.)  My social life is seriously overbooked and I just don’t have enough time for all of those gorgeous guys who are asking me out on dates.

Books – I remember when I bought one, maybe two, books at a time and was able to read them immediately.  Those days are long gone!  I have so many friends who are talented authors and I want to support them by buying, reading and reviewing their books.  I’m not friends with Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Helen Fielding or Lauren Weisberger but I can’t resist buying their books when they come out.  And then there are the sales.  As if $2.99 wasn’t cheap enough, I subscribe to both Book Bub and Ereader News Daily and barely a day goes by when I am not compelled to purchase a discounted book.  I mean, when a book that sounds good is only 99 cents or even free, how can I not buy it?  I have 49 unread books on my Kindle.  49 books!!  How does that happen?  I think I might need an intervention.  So, yeah, my TBR pile is so overbooked, it might bury me!

What about you?  Are you overbooked like me?  Feel free to share.  Unless you are overbooked with dates with gorgeous men.  That, you can keep to yourself! Show off… 

Reviews – opposing opinions

I just finished a book I only read because the members of my book club voted for it in a poll.  I had no desire to read it, based partly on some assumptions of what the book was about, but based mostly on some bad reviews on Amazon.  As a result, the book didn’t get my vote but I begrudgingly declared it the winner. 

Guess what?  I loved the book – Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. 

Since I read the book quickly and enthusiastically, I decided to go back and read  the bad reviews on which I based my premature assumption that I would hate it. 

Many reviewers complained that the book lacked a plot line.  I completely disagree.  The story is about three women who, approaching 30 years old, think they are supposed to accomplish something major by that milestone, i.e. marriage and kids.  In the course of a year, they come to discover what they really need is to be true to themselves and mindful of their own needs and desires, regardless of their age.  Was the plot what one would consider ‘high-concept?  No, but in my opinion, it didn’t matter because it captured and maintained my interest and I was fully invested in the characters. 

A few reviewers expressed a lack of relatability with the characters.  Again, I do not share this opinion.  Of the three main characters, I found myself relating to two of them.  One had difficulty letting go, jumping in and taking risks because she was often self-conscious and let fear get in her way.  I don’t know many people who haven’t been paralyzed by fear at some point in their lives.  I know I have.  The other seemed to have so many blessings, yet she wasn’t really happy and felt trapped. It is sometimes difficult to admit to others, and sometimes to ourselves, that what is perfect on paper isn’t right for us – I have been there as well.  (I did not find anything relatable about the third character, a Brazilian drop-dead gorgeous sex goddess who used her sex appeal to get whatever she wanted and whined whenever her friends got attention from men.  She was extremely conceited and it bothered me that her ability to be a good friend seemed to be dependent on being able to one-up the other characters.  I really didn’t see much of a character arc there and her story-line was definitely my least favorite.)   

Some reviewers complained that the book lacked depth.  With all due respect to those people, the book cover, an image of a stiletto sandal, is highly indicative of the light/fun nature of the story, as is the title.  If the reviewer was looking for a deep, thought-provoking novel, he/she should not have chosen that book in the first place. When I read a thriller, I expect to be frightened.  When I read a mystery, I expect suspense.  When I read an Oprah pick, I expect to be deeply touched.  And when I read a book with an image of a designer shoe on the cover, I expect to unwind and be entertained.  Chasing Harry Winston served that purpose for me.  I suppose it could have delved deeper into the psyches of the main characters, but I’m not certain it would have made me enjoy the read any more/less.     

Finally, some reviewers complained that the structure of the book was choppy and confusing.  At no point did I ever feel lost or feel the need to go backwards.  (Although I did read one of the sex scenes more than once – it was evocative without being graphic and I liked it!)  

My only complaint about the book was that a major story-line was concluded through a character telling the reader what happened in a flash-back. I would have much rather seen it play-out and I definitely felt gypped. 

Despite my premature assumptions, I really enjoyed Chasing Harry Winston and am happy it was chosen for my book club.  I like books that are full of action and dialogue as opposed to paragraphs of description and narrative so this was an ideal read for me and the story had me completely engaged. Not once during the read did I find myself bogged down in too much detail or skipping paragraphs.  And while, as mentioned above, the plot was not high-concept, I was never bored. Despite a mixed bag of reviews, that’s what makes a good book for me. 

What makes a good book for you?