BOOK REVIEW: Flirting with Fifty by Jane Porter

Book Review

Title: Flirting with Fifty
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: Berkley
Released: May 24, 2022
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0593438381
Stars: 4.5

It has been a while since I have read a Berkeley title by New York Times Bestselling Author Jane Porter, and I am thrilled that she has this new book, Flirting with Fifty, out now, with a follow-up called Flirting with the Beast coming in November.

I do not read many romance novels because I have not been fortunate in love and gave up hope of finding my soulmate long ago. As someone flirting with sixty, I am cynical and jaded after being hurt by men too many times. I prefer spending time with friends, attending concerts, writing visceral poetry, reading literature, and watching dark, fantasy, supernatural or period dramas on TV. I am independent, self-reliant and comfortable with being single rather than dating from the truly cringe-inducing shallow pool of uninteresting men in my age group where I live.

As a result, although I have never been married, I can relate to Porter‘s heroine in this book. Paige Newsome is a professor of math and statistics at UC Berkeley and a divorced mother of three grown daughters, each of whom lives in various parts of the US. Her best friend, Elizabeth, is always there for her, her career is fulfilling, and she has interests outside of work. Her life is full. Paige doesn’t think anything is missing in her life. Then she’s coerced into a co-teaching assignment for a semester that includes an exciting field trip to Tanzania. The other teacher is a charismatic, celebrity professor whom she had a one-night stand with thirty years earlier when she was an insecure, inexperienced student.

I had a one-night stand almost twenty years ago in Ireland that unravelled me with its unexpected, exciting perfection. If that Black Irish, early 2000s, Johnny Depp-reminiscent social worker ever found his way in front of me again, I would feel like forty-nine-year-old divorcée Paige does when she realizes that the well-known Princeton tenured professor of biology (who has a show on the Discovery channel) she will be teaching with is her long lost one-night stand from Paris.

Jack King is everything a woman like me wants in a romantic interest: intelligent, interesting, successful, confident, handsome, and comfortable in his skin. And I won’t forget to mention his Aussie accent. That kind of man would make most women’s hearts skip a beat. And I love that he “believes value comes from accomplishments and not acquisitions.” However, at fifty-five, not even perfect guys come without baggage. Jack’s career demands a lot of travel; his twenty-eight-year-old son, Oliver, is his heart, and he never remarried after his wife died of ovarian cancer. He also never committed to his longtime, on-again, off-again lover and colleague, Camille. So could he possibly commit to Paige?

What I love about Porter’s writing is that she writes so authentically for her audience and makes storytelling appear effortless. Her characters are richly and carefully developed personalities with flaws that we understand and relate to. When Paige and Jack talk about their children, the meaning of parenthood for each is evident. All of Paige’s insecurities about her body and sex are mine. Porter knows her settings and characters intimately, and readers can sense her love for them. Most of all, I love that Jane’s stories make me dream again about abandoned possibilities for later-life love. I know I have to leave Kingston for it to be possible, and Porter almost makes me believe I can do it and that true love could lurk around the next corner. Like Paige, I ask myself, “Why couldn’t she try different things without obsessing about the negatives or the future?” And could I make new friends at this stage of life who would not only have time for me but have my back? We will never know the answers to such questions if we don’t take a risk.

Sometimes we long “to be greedy and want more. More adventure. More fun. More change. More new, fresh, interesting.” And we won’t get it if we don’t start by doing something different. However, being genuinely tired, disappointed, and exhausted by life does stand in the way of risk-taking in the future. Fortunately, there is safety in living vicariously through Jane Porter‘s thoughtful, romantic books.

Be That Girl: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life & Embrace Freedom by Tina O’Connor

Be-That-Girl

Book Review
Title: Be That Girl: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life & Embrace Freedom
Author:  Tina O’Connor
Publisher: Be That Books
Released: October 28, 2012
Pages: 208
ISBN-10: 0987915460
ISBN-13: 978-0987915467
Stars:  4.0

Be That Girl: Ignite Your Passion, Organize Your Life & Embrace Freedom is described by its author, Tina O’Connor, as “a go-to guide filled with tools to help women create more joyous, free and happy lifestyles.” If you’ve always wanted to be ‘That Girl’, the one who appears to have everything going for her, the one who’s super organized, successful, looks great, eats healthy, feels fantastic and is basically all-around happy with her life and you want to know how to be her, Tina believes that by reading her book and doing the exercises she suggests that you’ll be empowered enough to become ‘That Girl’. While I think that may be a little over optimistic, her proposals are chock full of good ideas and a lot of common sense.

I’m a fairly organized woman who is very happy with her career but I figure I can always use a few more tips on how to be successful, amazing and unforgettable. I like the glossy cover of Tina’s hardcover second edition that bears an image of a woman’s feet, adorned in pink flip flops hanging over Pink sling back Christian Louboutin shoesthe edge of a pink convertible. While it says, “I’m carefree and comfortable”, if she was wearing pink Christian Louboutins it would definitely translate to I’m successful, amazing and unforgettable…don’t you wish you were me!

Some women are going to read the 19 chapters in Be That Girl and think the author has a serious case of OCD, but her enthusiasm and practicality is infectious and by the time I’d finished Chapter 2: Planet Do It!, I was taking notes and planning how I’m going to manifest what I want in my life in terms of relationships, travel, career, money, self, and things and actually started thinking about a Five Year Plan which is something I’ve never done before because I strive to be a live-in-the-moment girl.

Illustrated with some black and white photos and highlighted by no-nonsense title names, Be That Girl, has four lined, blank pages in the back of the book on which you can take notes, but if you do all of the suggested exercises, you’re going to need more space to write so keep a notebook and pen with you.

We all know that a positive attitude is the key to unlocking a joyful life. In this book you’ll start by acknowledging that you have the power to become the person you want to be and by making a plan and sticking to it, you’ll be well on your way. Tina also teaches us about the principles of Feng Shui and “how this Chinese method of organizing your home is the key to finding success and fulfillment in the rest of your life.” She is so convincing that as soon as I finished Chapter 3: The Home of Your Dreams and Chapter 4: Clearing the Clutter, I rearranged my guest room which is the wealth corner of my home and placed red objects (including a Chinese dragon) in the left corner of the room. I had every intention of de-cluttering and Feng Shui-ing the rest of my apartment but to be perfectly honest, it still hasn’t happened so I might just have to re-read that chapter again to motivate myself further.

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house and making it hygienic and clutter-free is a must as is going green and doing our part to shrink our carbon footprint on the earth.

O’Connor fluctuates between offering sensible ideas for ways in which to clean up our act physically as well as mentally. I enjoyed how she welcomes readers into her life through her own personal examples and felt as if I knew her quite well when I was finished reading the book.  You get the sense that she’d be a great cheerleader coach from chapters like Do It, Do It, Do It! – as in don’t procrastinate Time Is On Your Side (Yes It Is!) – which offers time management solutions to reduce stress and increase productivity Accentuate The Positive, and Fake It ‘Til You Make It. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that last phrase since I finished reading the book!

This is surely an ambitious book project as she also talks about dressing for success, walking the walk – literally, by doing yoga and practicing the art of strutting the power of touch (as in sex, ladies, so don’t ever forget that human contact is essential as is being comfortable with yourself as a sexual being), and taking on the world by being confident in the art of conversation, communication and negotiation. She reminds us that we don’t need to do it all alone and that asking for help sometimes is essential. And of course, we are what we eat, so we’d better start making healthier dietary choices, take Resveratrol, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and consider homeopathic alternatives to traditional medicine.

Tina, who has a great sense of humour, calls herself “an expert on everyday changes that bring life-altering happiness and contentment to women around the world.”  She and her husband own a chain of wine & spirits stores, have three young daughters, and Tina is planning a series of “Be That” titles for the future.

If you read this book quickly, and you certainly can, you’ll be a bit overwhelmed by the end of it from thinking about all the ways in which you still have to change your life for the better, but if you break down one chapter at a time and just take baby steps towards achieving those goals, you will feel better about yourself, there’s no doubt about it.

I’ve read a LOT of self-help books so this book didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know, but it was a wonderful reminder, and it certainly compartmentalized all the areas of our lives as women into neat and tidy chapters that are easily accessible and could undoubtedly aid us in becoming ‘That Girl’.

www.bethatgirlnow.com