spring favorites 2018

Posted in Living by

SPRING IS HERE!!! Along with it, I have some new favorite things. Let’s jump right in, because I have a lot ot say this time!

Netgalley: I love to read – surprise! Reading on my Kindle has really ramped up my reading rate lately, and Netgalley is part of why. It’s a platform for publishers to issue galleys and advanced reading copies to readers and reviewers, then collects feedback to send back to the authors and publishers. You don’t even have to be a blogger to sign up – if you regularly post reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, you’re just as likely to land books for review. It’s a really great way to save money on your reading habit and discover new authors and books. If you’re interested in some of the titles they have, I denote Netgalley books in my book club posts. I’ve requested more than one based on the cover or title and had them turn out to be among the best of the year!

Gregory Workman backpack: It’s been a long time since I was a backpack wearer – even in college, I didn’t use them often. Now that I’m using public transit more (which is a good thing!) but the tote-style bag I had been using doesn’t cut it. It’s so much weight on one arm, so I started looking around for a better backpack. I found this Gregory Workman on sale at Sierra Trading Post, and I’ve really been liking it! The quality is good, there’s a built-in laptop case, and there’s not an overwhelming number of pockets in the name of hyper-organization. This purchase may also mark my cross over into official adulthood – there was a “cuter” bag on the website I considered, but this one seemed better quality and more functional. Huh.

Quip: I’ve never had an electric toothbrush – it just hasn’t seemed worth the hassle, especially when I’m still living off stockpiled toothbrushes (thanks coupons!) Boyfriend splurged on a Quip membership a few months ago, and I get the hype now. The toothbrushes have built-in timers so you know exactly how long to brush each quadrant of your mouth, and the toothpaste is really good. The toothbrushes look really nice on the sink top too (I have the gold metal one, of course.) It also comes with a travel case for easy transport and each refill includes a mini travel tube of toothpaste, too.

No. 7 Stay Perfect Foundation: I fell in love with Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra-Long Wear foundation a few years ago, but man, it is¬†pricey. Nothing else compares to it, though (not even the Fenty foundation that everyone loves. I find it to be really drying and that it doesn’t look very smooth on my face.) Last weekend I decided to do a half-hearted Google search for some dupes, and there were one or two reviews of this, so I picked it up at Target. (I forgot how frustrating it is to try to get a good skin color match from the drugstore.) This is probably the best drugstore foundation I’ve ever used. The texture is great (not drying even without moisturizer,) great coverage, and a little goes a long way. It also has SPF which is a big win for me. The shade I got is a touch too light, but I’ve been mixing it with Lancome’s Skin Feels Good foundation (super creamy and light, also with SPF) and it’s a good match until my summer skin kicks in ūüėČ

Jervis Cottonbelly’s Twitter:¬†I’ve talked intermittently about liking wrestling before, but it’s largely something I’m “in the closet” about. (I even wrote an essay about that for a zine full of smart and funny girl wrestling fans!) One of my favorite wrestlers, Jervis Cottonbelly, is an excellent Twitter follow if you’re into wrestling or not. He’s very motivational, optimistic – and, even better, talks openly about his mental health struggles. Every morning, he posts some affirmations for the day – something I need, for sure.

What are your favorite things this month?

May 8, 2018

april book club 2018

Posted in Living by

I didn’t read¬†quite as much this month, and I’m not sure why. (Maybe it has something to do with the Golden State Killer being arrested and being legally required to read every released article and interview? I’m not sure.)

As always, * indicates that I received a review copy through NetGalley, and ** denotes books I received for review from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions!

The Last Cruise*: I really liked this book a lot, but the end made me super¬†mad. Which is a good thing! Feeling things about books is kind of the point, right?¬†The Last Cruise chronicles the experiences of three different groups aboard a vintage ship taking – you guessed it – its last cruise. This would be a good poolside book if you’re into suspense and drama, but I might not suggest taking it on a boat.

From the Corner of the Oval*: THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. I couldn’t put it down and found myself wanting more and more! Beck Dorey-Stein was one of President Barack Obama’s stenographers, and this chronicles her White House career, from getting hired via craigslist to traveling internationally on Air Force One to¬†deciding that her government days are over. Her writing is incredible, engaging, and I can’t recommend pre-ordering this highly enough. If you’re feeling like you’re making all the wrong choices in your relationships, friendships, career, or in general, there’s going to be something in this book that resonates with you.

The Gutsy Girl Handbook*: A follow-up to Kate White’s 1996 book, I really liked this a lot. I’ve been focusing a lot on my career this year, and the worksheets and advice in this handbook are really helping me shift my mindset, generate big ideas, and not be afraid of intimidating people with those ideas.

Men Explain Things to Me: I really wanted to like this essay collection, and I think I would have if I hadn’t had specific expectations for it. It took me months to finish (I started it back in January or February) expecting it to be funny, or at least have aspects of humor. Instead, it’s more heavily focused on institutional sexism, sexual assault, and crime. It is a good read, but it wasn’t what I had expected.

My Oxford Year**: Not a book I would typically see myself picking up, but Julia Whelan is my favorite audiobook narrator. When I saw that she was publishing a book, I was super excited. This one was a good read – it’s a love story about a girl who doesn’t want a love story – my biggest complaint was basically just that I wish they focused more on the political position she was helping with in America while studying abroad – but it’s an excellent read if you like chick lits or romance.

Emergency Contact: Mary HK Choi did a great interview with the New York Times last month, and I found it to be funny and clever. Emergency Contact was equally great РI absolutely loved the story, I loved the way it was told, and I loved how Penny comes out of her shell and allows herself to have friends and really grow outside herself.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: I was about 63% through this book the night that GSK was taken into custody. Naturally, I woke up the next morning, scrambled around to get the audiobook from Scribd, and finished listening with 30 minutes to go before the press conference. Incredibly researched, incredibly written, and incredibly tragic – both the story of the victims, as well as Michelle, who never got to see her good work be rewarded.

Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better*: It was National Poetry Month and I didn’t read as much poetry as I should have, but this was my favorite collection by far. Kuhn’s writing reads like a combination of Amanda Lovelace and Rupi Kaur – gorgeous and light imagery, but with heartache, trauma, and optimism. If you like poetry, I definitely recommend this.

DROPKICKromance**: I really wanted to love this book. It includes so many things I love – poetry! Wrestling! An author from Michigan! – but it ultimately fell really short of my expectations. Author Cyrus Parker is married to Amanda Lovelace, and their relationship is #goals, as the youths say, but his writing style is almost an exact replica of Lovelace’s. I think¬†I would have enjoyed it a lot better if the style had been a little more unique. He writes a lot about a shitty relationship, then falling in love again, which I also relate to a lot and enjoyed – I just wish it was a little separate from his wife.

This Is Where it Ends: This had been on my Goodreads “to read” list for awhile, so by the time I saw it on my library’s Libby system, I’d sort of forgotten what it was about. It’s a pocket story of the 54 minutes of a school shooting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if author¬†Marieke Nijkamp had been involved in a similar situation. She writes with such clarity and experience, you really feel like you’re in the quiet halls with the students as the perspectives shift. It’s an incredibly affecting book that should be read

You’re Never Weird on the Internet: Boyfriend had this on his Audible account, so when I couldn’t find anything on Libby, I started listening to this one day. It was interesting to listen to – Felicia had a super interesting upbringing and was homeschooled, and even went to the University of Texas on a full ride for violin performance. I liked hearing her talk about her internet life – in a lot of ways, I relate, since I’ve been online since grade 4 and some of the most important relationships in my life were forged on the internet.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions: This was a quick, easy read that I really enjoyed. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about feminism and gender lately (thanks Dessa, and trying to read more diverse, “harder” books. This letter to her best friend who had asked her for advice on raising her child a feminist is as funny as it is insightful.

April 30, 2018

7 companies hiring work from home employees this month: april 2018

Posted in Career by

We’ve finally strung together multiple sunny days here in Chicago, so I’m still pretty cautious, but I think I feel safe enough to say that spring is here. Something about the summer has always made it seem like it’s time for new beginnings – and maybe for you, that means a new job. Here are seven current opportunities – many of them don’t even require prior remote experience!

Fan Happiness Associate at Gametime: Gametime is a mobile ticketing platform, and they’re currently hiring in certain states. Preference is given to those with previous remote experience, or in a tech or live entertainment setting, but don’t let that stop you from applying! If you enjoy providing excellent quality customer service and solving problems (often time-sensitive), this could be the gig for you.

Customer Support Associate at CareMessage: This company is a nonprofit that helps make healthcare more accessible to underserved or rural communities. As a CSA, you’ll help customers find answers, troubleshoot issues in the software, and work with the engineering team to implement user requests. They also have a clear 1/3/6 month plan for new employees, which helps to eliminate some of the stress and imposter syndrome associated with starting a new position. Knowing what the company expects from you helps a lot!

Beauty Writer at Elite Daily/Bustle: This one screams¬†for beauty bloggers or Sephora VIBs to apply. I love mindlessly browsing Bustle, and I’ve found some great beauty suggestions here – if you’re always getting your friends hooked on new beauty items, this is the writing job for you. Bonus if you have a background in commerce writing (if you’re a blogger who uses affiliate links, that’s probably you!)

Support Team Manager at Trello: I’ve long loved Trello, and their company culture sounds just as great as the product. Apply for this position to manage the support team, develop strategies to improve customer retention and acquisition, and manage daily operations, among other tasks.

Customer Success Manager at monday.com: If you’re in the PST/MST time zone and have excellent self-management skills, this customer-facing role with Saturday hours could be a great way to launch a remote career.

Lead Editor, Home Office at The Wirecutter: If you love home office tech gear and writing about it, this could be your “in” to work with the New York Times. They’re looking for an editor to manage and assign projects freelance staff, project manage content, and interact with the community. Sounds pretty cool for my gear-loving¬†nerd head!

Customer Success Specialist at TaxJar: I’ve been learning a lot lately about taxes, and that’s all due to TaxJar. If you have a retail background, some remote work experience, and¬†very patient, this could be a great option for you to build your¬†support resume!

One of my favorite resources for freelance gigs is¬†AND CO‚Äôs The Gig List. Every week they send an email with ten freelance opportunities ‚Äď while they aren‚Äôt all remote options, many of them are (and they always find really cool options and companies!)

If you‚Äôre looking for freelance writing jobs,¬†check out this post with tons of websites that pay for your submissions¬†‚Äď or¬†check out Contena, where you can search hundreds of new, legitimate writing and editing jobs every day.

April 27, 2018

monthly roundup no. 8, april 2018

Posted in Living by

The end of April has to mean that this long slog of winter and cold weather has to be on it’s way out. Right? RIGHT?!?! As we ease into yet another weekend that’s too cold to leave the house, here’s some reading from the past month.

Confession: I like wrestling. It’s goofy, it’s funny, it’s storytelling – and wrestlers are real, complex people. Jervis Cottonbelly, my favorite indie wrestler, is often vocal and open about his history with depression and anxiety. Earlier this month, his suicidal ideation led to a hospitalization. His blog post,¬†On Sweetness and Suicide, is a great read for insight into not only what the hospitalization process is like, but also how it feels to have these thoughts you don’t want.

I’ve used Evernote for quite a few years, and I really like this post on how their CEO uses it and stays organized. The idea of assigning a theme for each workday is something I started doing recently, and it’s really helped my productivity to be able to think (and tell co-workers) when something isn’t on the docket for that day.

It’s little secret that¬†Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is my favorite book, and it tripped me out thinking about the hundreds of different lives we could have depending on the choices we make. Turns out this is an actual physics concept, and I’ve been reading a lot about the multiverse and many-worlds theories of quantum physics. Just some casual reading for your Friday.¬†

6 Apps That Will Streamline Your Investments Starting Now:¬†I’m really focusing on getting my finances in order this year, and that includes setting up an investment or 401k account. I’m relying on breakdowns and reviews like this from blogs I trust to help cut out some services to help put me on the right track while I research the best option for me.¬†

My Boston BFF and I are¬†OB-SESSED with these money diaries. They really hearken back to when I first started getting into blogging and almost exclusively read personal finance blogs. Man Repeller has them too – the comments on theirs are often much less toxic or judgey – they definitely make me feel behind on my savings for where I am in my life now, but tracking my spending as though it’s a diary is making it a lot easier to to consistently track. (Today is day 23 – consistency!)

For the last several years, I’ve been feeling the crush of what it’s like to be an only child. This post from The Everygirl puts many of my concerns together – specifically the first and last points. My built-in support system is very limited, and I think a lot about what will happen if my parents die (and now that my mom is sick, I feel a lot of the responsibility on that,) but that kind of freedom can also be a real blessing.

I don’t know why this is sponsored content from Taco Bell, but we’ll go with it. The Muse posted an article with scientifically-backed tips on creativity, and I will admit that I wish it was a little more informational – I don’t need any more encouragement to grab a beer – but it’s a nice reminder sometimes that you could be too “into” your ideas and need to take a step back into your daily tasks, or even reset with a nap or shower.

I’ve really been enjoying the Girlboss blog lately (and the new layout took some getting used to, but now I’m really into it. I hope it was built by women.) They recently featured an article about guitar badass Sister Rosetta Tharpe – she was a killer on electric guitar and probably the first rock ‘n¬†roll woman. She gets overlooked far too often, so do yourself a favor and read their great primer on her.

April 27, 2018

march book club 2018

Posted in Entertainment by

march 2018 book reviews

I’ve been reading more than ever the past few months. My boyfriend got me a Kindlelast 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.)

*Denotes that the publisher provided an ARC for review and honest feedback.

Note to Self: I¬†really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. Great cover and I love the different media – between photos, essays, and poems, it seemed right up my alley. I wasn’t sure who the author was, but he makes it clear in the first couple of pages that I should – whoops, sorry about your ego. I did like the photos a lot and recommend reading on a color device or physical copy to really appreciate them if you do decide to read it. There was some pretty blatant John Green plagiarism going on, though, so I wasn’t a fan of that either.

When Breath Becomes Air: When my mom was in the initial stages of getting tested for a cancer recurrence, I picked up this book because it’s been so highly recommended and I knew the author died of cancer. I didn’t love the narrator so it was hard to really get into, but it’s a rare book that I would re-read physically after trying to listen to the audiobook.

Final Draft*:¬†I really liked the slow unwind of this plot – the main character’s growth happens slowly over the book, which I really enjoyed. There’s not one impetus for change, there are several, and it’s believable that each change would affect Laila the way it does. The main character is a writer, and I also liked that there were parts of her stories woven in.

Other than that, I felt like the plot was a little bit confused. About two-thirds through the book, it felt like the plot changed, which seemed a little strange for me. It was also a little slow for me in the beginning, so it was hard to get into, but overall pretty good.

The Showrunner*: This was a really fun chick lit read that will be a perfect beach read. Focusing on three women who are producing an up-and-coming hit TV show, the drama between them, and what lengths they’ll go to to come out on top, there’s a twist toward the end of the book that I didn’t see coming. I liked the format of the book – entries from one of the character’s journals keeps the story moving along between scenes – and it will be great for summer vacations or road trips.

Good Clean Fun: I’m arguably not the target audience for this book, but I’ll listen to Nick Offerman say or read anything. This actually was a great memoir about the people he’s become close with because of woodworking, and I recommend it if you’re a¬†Parks and Rec fan or if you’re into Wilco, as Jeff Tweedy performs some songs Nick wrote to accompany the book. And of course I suggest the audiobook for this one – there’s no voice more calming than Nick Offerman!

I’m Just a Person: Another book I picked up in the aftermath of finding out my mom has cancer. I love Tig Notaro, and I remembered the Fresh Air interview she did a few years ago talking about her now-famous set at Largo shortly after her diagnosis. I finally listened to that set while reading the book, and it’s so interesting how the delivery changes all the meaning. Listening to¬†Live, the album released after the show,¬†she sounds affable, not scared, and very funny. In the book, you hear her trepidation and fear, and they should definitely be read/listened to together.

August and Everything After*: This was a fun, easy read – a good palette cleanser between the more fact-based non-fiction I’ve been reading. The main character, Quinn, joins a band on drums, shows an aptitude for sound engineering, and stands up for herself when a boy tries to use her. YA could use more protagonists like her.

Choose Your Own Misery: Dating: This was a funny book that lets you assume different dating personas and swipe on through the book – it was really funny. First I answered as though I normally would in the scenarios, but I read through it a few more times trying to just make the dates and relationships as funny and ridiculous as possible, and the authors definitely rewarded that stance! This would be a really funny gift for any serial singles, or anyone trying to navigate the weird world of dating apps for the first time.

A Taxonomy of Love: Told through narrative, letters, emails, and chat logs, it’s a sweet love and coming-of-age story. It’s a little different from other YA romances – there’s a death and disability woven into the love story – and I liked seeing the main character come into his own, connect with his father, and get redemption after a misunderstanding lasting several years.

We Should All Be Feminists: One of my goals this year was to read more books by women, particularly women of color, and more books about feminism. This is actually taken from a TEDx talk¬†Adichie gave, and brings up some great points. Being called a feminist shouldn’t be a bad thing – and we should all stand up and be proud to be feminist and demand equality.

Murder, Lies and Cover-Ups*: For the “book about conspiracy theories” prompt, I was struggling until I saw this pop up in NetGalley. I was pretty pumped – five celebrity deaths and a study into the conspiracy theories behind them. It was… not what I expected. My first major problem was that the author says that Elvis was discovered by Sam Phillips at Sun Records – not true. Sam had repeatedly rebuffed Elvis and finally the receptionist Marion Keisker passed along a 45 that Elvis had recorded on his own… but I digress from this lesson in Powerful Women in the Memphis Music Scene. For four of the celebrities, the author does present some conspiracy theories – then he closes the book with Michael Jackson, which he doesn’t posit any conspiracies or murder theories for – he basically says that addiction killed him, which is true. (He also, oddly, includes part of a Conrad Murray interview where he talks about holding Michael Jackson’s penis. It’s an odd thing to include, and feels very unnecessary.) I don’t really recommend this.

Mother, Can You Not?: I’m listening to a lot more audiobooks with my new role at work, and I’m finding that pithy comedy or memoirs are the best to listen to. This book is based on the CrazyJewishMom Twitter account, and it’s voiced by the real life mother/daughter duo. I can’t relate, but it’s hilariously funny.

sMOTHERed*: I’ll do a longer review on this in a few months but I LOVED it. It was great to read in conjunction with Mother, Can You Not? because those two women would have a lot of things in common.

Everybody’s Got Something: With my mom’s recent cancer diagnosis, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening to books by survivors. I’ve always admired Robin Roberts, and her memoir reinforces that for me. Not only is it reassuring to hear about her medical journey, she also discusses losing her mom and the hospice process they went through with her – very similar to what we went through with my grandma. It’s a nice reminder that you’re never really alone.

Hot Mess*: Reading this has been interesting. It might have just been me, but I was taken on a real journey about Benji – he went from sounding like the dream, to the reader¬†being very skeptical of him – or maybe it’s just that I’m pretty trained to look for addict behavior (thanks, Dr. Drew.) I did think it was a pretty good book, if a few pages too long.

What are you reading this month?

April 2, 2018