monthly roundup no. 6: february 2018

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Here we are in February and what will hopefully be the last month of winter. I’m ready to sit outside, cooking in the 80 degree Chicago humidity next to Lake Michigan – I’m fully over these sub-zero temperatures and back-and-forth snow and ice. One good thing about the weather is that I’ve been cooped inside reading more than ever – as likely evidenced by the increased book club posts every month – but I’m still keeping up with some of the news on the world wide web. Here are some things that caught my eye in Feburary!

Here’s What It’s Like At The Headquarters Of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings: These kids are absolutely incredible. No secret that I hate guns and am pretty passionate and loud about that fact, but these students are really creating change.

We need new ways of treating depression: I’m a person who will always be on an SSRI and have been in therapy off and on (therapy is cool and everyone should do it!!) But I’m also whiny about my meds and bad at remembering to take them. I often think about external causes of depression – this article explores the “grief exception” specifically. I’m an introvert at heart and wouldn’t really like being told that being more social would “fix” my depression, but it is interesting to think about.

Hunger Continues After the Fall: Danielle Lazarin’s short story collection came out in February and while I wait for it to come available in the library. Electric Literature featured Appetite, a selection from the book. My newest favorite author, Julie Buntin, recommends this story and writes an intro to set the scene.

Dessa’s Brain: My favorite rapper and author is back at it again with a new record this month. Her alma mater did this excellent in-depth piece on her which explores the contrast in her personality, how she went from being a philosophy major to a rapper, and her rallying call to other asthmatics in the audience. It also talks a bit about her experience with neurofeedback and how that impacted writing the new record.To celebrate the new record, she also did a livestream that I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in music production at Dessa: The Making of Chime.

ZBody Fitness: A co-worker friend introduced me to Zoe’s programs a year or so ago, and I’ve enjoyed watching her YouTube series. They’re great videos to pop on when you’re on the treadmill and the elliptical, and I recently got her Build a Better Booty at Home guide – this at-home workout is no joke!!

A Style Guide for Writing About the Rich: Satire, I suppose, but barely. This infuriated me on first read because it really made me wonder why things like what Elon Musk eats for breakfast becomes so much more newsworthy than a normal person.

Foolproof ways to stay calm while watching the Olympics: A little something to tuck away and review every two years. Like a normal person, I live for the Olympics… but more than once I’ve found myself jumping up and down on the couch shouting hockey advice, or swaying along with the curling stone.

February 23, 2018
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She Regrets Nothing review

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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

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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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winter favorites 2017

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winter 2017 favorites

Winter is categorically the worst, but as always, there are some good things to find in it. Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying the last few weeks!

I’ve wanted to take a development class for awhile, so I recently signed up for Skillcrush’s Front End Dev blueprint. Class hasn’t started yet, but I’ve poked around a little bit to check out what the dashboard and interface are like, and I really like how it seems to be structured and laid out.

It’s no secret at all that I love The Hold Steady – if you don’t know that, you’re probably new here. Last month they put out their first new tracks since 2014, and I was so happy hearing them that I cried in my car so hard that my eyes were all puffy and ugly when I walked into my grandparent’s house. When my mom asked me what was wrong, all I said was “new Hold Steady,” and she understood. “Entitlement Crew” is particularly great, and the album artwork is really fun.

Last year I got very into spoken word poetry, particularly Button Poetry videos. During a binge, Olivia Gatwood’s “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” came on, and I fell so in love with it and her that I ordered her book New American Best Friend right away. It includes some poems you can find easily online, but some new ones as well, and they’re all gems.

happy endings

I missed out on Happy Endings in its first run, but The Mindy Project made me an Adam Pally stan, so boyfriend popped this show on one night. It’s hilarious, and it takes place in Chicago – another big bonus. If you need something to fill the Mindy Project or Parks and Rec-sized hole in your heart, give this a try. 

My now-boyfriend told me about Sleep With Me a little over a year ago, pre-dating status, and I’ve tried it off and on since then. If you ever struggle with falling asleep, or have racing thoughts before bed, pop on one of these episodes and let Scooter soothe you to sleep.

Amazon’s new Amazon Prime Samples program is super cool. For $2-$4, you can order smaller quantities of things you’ve wanted to try – mostly food and beauty products. Then that money is applied to a future purchase in the same category – it’s a little like a buy one get one free deal, and I’ve totally stocked my protein cabinet from them!

 

2048

Yes, I 100% took a screenshot for proof.

Another discovery that I’m late on: 2048. Have you guys played this?! I missed out on it when it was first super popular a few years ago, but now I’m super obsessed. I’ve beaten the classic game once, and on my iPhone, I constantly have a round of City 2048 going.

I’ll finish out with a blog. A friend of a Twitter friend, Tina, runs a book blog called TBR Etc. that I’ve been super into. I’ve picked up some great recommendations from her already, and I look forward to finding even more. If you’re a book nerd, check her out for some serious book goalspiration!

What are you loving this chilly winter?

December 14, 2017
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monthly roundup no. 5: august 2017

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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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