She Regrets Nothing review

Posted in Entertainment by
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I first heard about She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop months ago when Taylor Jenkins Reid tweeted about it, and immediately I fell in love with that gorgeous cover. Since Jenkins Reid is my favorite author, I was quick to add this to my TBR list without any further information. The book synopsis, for those not as quick to sign on to a novel:

In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.

 – Goodreads Synopsis for She Regrets Nothing

For me, the best part of the book was the character development woven throughout the book – there’s not a lot of it, because part of the story is how unlikable and shallow these people are. But the main character, Laila, starts out as sympathetic – she doesn’t start with the life she should have had, and you really love to hate her. After her mom dies and she moves to New York City to join the rest of her family, living with her spoiled brat cousin Nora, she starts to get engrained with high society and things take a turn as she gets deeper and deeper. Think sex, lies, and cell phone pictures.

There’s a twist toward the end of the story that I never saw coming (and I pride myself on predicting these things.) It did seem like it was just a touch too long – the first 2/3rds could have been combined a bit – but I did really like the ending and how things turn out.

This Gossip Girl-esque family drama is a really nice late winter read – get snowed in, fluff up the pillows, and spend the weekend in NYC with the Lawrences. Andrea Dunlop‘s voice is the perfect timbre for these characters, but at the same time, if those types of characters don’t speak to you… steer clear of this one.

What are your favorite snowy day reads?

February 7, 2018
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january 2018 book club

Posted in Entertainment by

books i read in january 2018

I’ve been reading more books than ever the past few months. My boyfriend got me a Kindle last fall, and turns out that has been the key to unlocking voracious reading.

Dani and I also created our own reading challenge this year: 51 categories to prompt us to pick up books we wouldn’t typically read (or books that have languished in TBR-land for too long.) Here’s what I read this month, including what you should pick up and what you should DEFINITELY let lay!

Marlena: This debut from Julie Buntin had been on my TBR since last May, and during our Brooklyn trip, two girlfriends were reading and raving about it. It’s easy to understand why – set in two timelines, it’s the story of a woman trying to unravel what might have really happened to her teenage best friend many years before. It’s really engaging and I struggled to put it down – it’s my favorite book of the year, and I can’t recommend it enough.

A Bad Idea I’m About to Do: Chris Gethard has long been one of my favorite comedians – his HBO special from last year, Career Suicide, is dark and funny, and I look forward to his TV show every week more than any other. I finally got around to reading this and it was just as hilarious – and the way he waxes poetic about a colonic made me want to get one, for the first time in my life.

What Made Maddy Run: At the risk of using a trope, I found this story breathtaking. I first heard about Madison Holleran in Kate Fagan’s 2015 Split Image piece on ESPN.com. When I saw that she was writing a full-length book about it, I knew I’d have to read it. It’s heartbreaking that Maddy didn’t feel like she had a way out, but it’s a feeling that’s way too familiar, and her story in particular shows that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

Heist Society Series, Book 1 and Book 2: These were fast, fun reads. Dani had suggested I read them a while ago, and they fit two prompts for our challenge. Nothing super remarkable about them, but nice palette cleansers between heavier, meatier books. (The first book is on Prime reading, too, which is nice if you’re a Kindle user!)

The Spectacular Now: Oh boy. I don’t have anything nice to say about this at all. I used this to fill my “a book that’s been on your to be read list for too long,” and had actually looked forward to it. No one should read this book. I actually found it to be really harmful and problematic. There’s absolutely nothing redeeming about it. The (male) main character is a 16-year-old womanizing alcoholic, which they don’t mention in any of the marketing for the book. I only finished it because I felt like I had to – I was just waiting for something to make it better, and it never came. It’s up there with the James Franco mess that, upon finishing, I had to get out of my house immediately.

the princess saves herself in this one: I thought this book was just okay. There were some great poems, but more weak than strong.

Violet & Claire: This was for our “book you’ve read before” prompt. Of all the books I’ve read, I’m not sure why I picked this one. It’s obviously not meant for a 31-year-old to read, but I guess I just wanted to relive my grade 6 book choices. It’s just really trite and about as unrealistic as you can get, which is probably the point, but a high schooler getting a movie deal? Not in a million years.

What have you been reading this chilly January? Leave your book recs below!

January 31, 2018
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monthly roundup no. 5: august 2017

Posted in Living by

It’s August. Are we serious?! How did this happen? I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.

Meanwhile, Dani has been planning our autumn hygge for months. Frankly, I find it rude… but I’m a little ready for some PSL in my life. And those Michigan autumn leaves. Yes, please.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle – dealing with some mental health stuff, trying to date (it’s awful, and I’m not going to do it again), and planning out the next few months of almost non-stop travel saw me needing some serious down time. Things that landed in my queue this month mostly revolve around travel, tech, mental health, and pizza… like that’s any surprise.

Strategies for Coping With Anxiety: Full disclosure: little self-promotion here, but I wouldn’t share it if I didn’t think it was relevant. I started working with If Me, an app that helps people share their stories with trusted allies, contributing to their blog. This was a very popular post on my own blog, so I thought it might be useful to share even more tips.

The Best Places for Females to Travel Solo: It turns out I had a whole pile of extra overtime to use up, so I’ve been thinking for the last two weeks about how I can use it up and where I can travel. Pile that on top of having recently read What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman, and once again, travel is the only thing on my brain. I’ve really wanted to go on a solo trip for a long time, but I do worry about safety. I tucked this article away to consult in the future!

The Mighty Ducks Filming Locations: This might not be useful to anyone but me, but I booked a trip to Minneapolis in a few months, and you can bet I’ll be hitting up as many locations on this list as are still standing.

I Got Ghosted On by a Woman I Was Into. Do I Have to Move On?: I saw a dude, and I really liked him! A lot! And then we made plans to meet up, and he dipped out. So for a few days, naturally, I wallowed and read articles like this. But this did help me determine that he needed to be called out

Dress Code: A few weeks ago, I went to a meetup of Chicago-based bloggers. One girl was wearing bracelets she designed which have codes engraved in that unlock coding lessons online. I love the concept, and I want one badly – maybe as a reward for myself when I finally do go off to dev school.

Feels Like the Weekend: One of my Nashville buddies moved out to LA to act (he’s amazing!) and he’s in this Funny or Die sketch. It’s funny and almost too real… especially the family political views thing.

Quit Your Job And Live Abroad: 8 Places So Cheap You Might Not Need To Work: I’m not necessarily itching to dive into that ex-pat life just yet, but if there’s a place cheap enough to live without working, it’s probably a pretty inexpensive place to visit as well!

August 25, 2017
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doing Chicago: true crime tour with Vimbly

Posted in Travel by
I received a free tour from Vimbly for this review, but all opinions are my own.

Vimbly review

Vimbly is the fastest way to book thousands of activities, classes & date ideas – their website displays available activities and times, and allows you to book tickets directly on the website. It’s easy to share a link with someone else to plan out an activity. There’s even a “Bucket List” feature that lets you bookmark things you might be interested in checking out later!

The coolest thing about Vimbly is that it’s sort of a one-stop-shop for tourists and residents alike. They have the traditional sightseeing tours, but they also have things like jiu jitsu and dance classes, pizza and dessert making lessons, and escape rooms.

Vimbly also features free events – I’m heading to this brewery tour at Lake Effect Brewing Company with a girlfriend tomorrow, and I would never have thought to look out for that before!

In case you do book something with Vimbly that you don’t love, their Handshake guarantee means that they’ll issue you a refund if you’re dissatisfied. How’s that for customer service?

For this tour, Dani and I opted for the True Crime and Serial Killer tour. Given that we went on a haunted history tour in June, this should not be a surprise.


This tour was even more fun. The scene was set as soon as we arrived – the bus was playing spooky music and the tour guide, Eric, leaned in as though I was giving him the password to get into a speakeasy.

The first spot we went was Washington Square Park, which was one of John Wayne Gacy’s hunting grounds. Eric also told us that the park used to be called Bughouse Square because a psychiatric hospital used to be nearby, and they used to be called bughouses.

Another really cool thing about booking tours in your own city with Vimbly is that you learn about other cool events in your city. At Washington Square Park, we saw flyers for the Newberry Book Festival. Neither of us had heard of it before and you can bet that we skipped on over to it a few weeks later.

From there, he continued to talk about other Chicago serial killers as well as Gacy. He and Jeffrey Dahmer used to be regulars at L&L Tavern, which is a bar that Dani and I visited after seeing My Favorite Murder live for that reason. We started heading over to the Logan Square Office Max, which is an area I know pretty well.

Eric told us about the Ripper Crew, which I’d never heard of. I definitely had no idea they happened in an area I’m so familiar with.

From there we headed back toward Lincoln Park and drove past the site where the Sausage King of Chicago killed his wife before driving over to the Congress Hotel. We’d been there on the first tour as well, so it’s definitely a known spot to visit if you’re a crime enthusiast in Chicago!

I definitely recommend using Vimbly in your own city, or for checking out things to do on your next vacation!

August 11, 2017
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how to use basecamp to organize your blog

Posted in Blogging by

Basecamp is a project management software, and using something like this isn’t just a good way to organize your blog or business. It’s also a good tool to have on your resume – especially if you want to transition to a remote career. Many companies use this to organize projects and tasks within the organization, and you can make it work for your own business as well. Here’s how I’m using it for the Desi Does empire!

basecamp

The first screen displays your “Teams” as well as your “Projects.” I use two different teams – one for Desi Does Pizza ideas, since it’s less structured than my business here. I use the second one to manage communication or plan out any ideas I might have for guest posts or social media help. The “My Stuff” section of Basecamp lets you easily see your outstanding assignments, quick links to your most used parts of Basecamp, tasks that are due, and things you’ve recently worked on.

how to use basecamp to organize your blog

You can sync Google Drive files or even create a doc directly on Basecamp. I love this because I can just note down any post ideas or start to draft a post.

My favorite part is the option to create project templates, so every month I can easily duplicate my content calendar project.

In this project, I have my schedule of what’s getting posted when, and in the Docs & Files section, I upload the related assets to each blog post. I do this in case I’m out and about and want to be able to easily retrieve any photos if I want to put together a quick social media post.

The best part of Basecamp for business, in my opinion, is the To-dos section. In this section, I have a To-Do card for each day that a blog post will be published. On that card, I break down the process: writing a post, editing a post, taking and editing photos, etc. It may seem basic and obvious, but if you like checking things off, it’s a really great feature.

Checking off and seeing what I’ve already done and what’s still coming up makes it super easy to follow a process and not feel overwhelmed. Here’s a deeper look at the card for last week’s Best Self Co. giveaway post (which is still open for another week!)

Basecamp’s flexibility makes it perfect no matter how big your blog or business is. You could even set it up for your daily tasks or freelance writing. It might seem like a lot of setup, but investing time into setting up templates for your routines can be a huge timesaver in the long run. It might even save you from forgetting simple marketing tasks that you should do weekly!

How do you organize your processes? Do you use a project management tool like Basecamp?

August 9, 2017
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