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reading

spring favorites 2018

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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 😉

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
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winter favorites 2018

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If you’re a regular reader here, you know that I’ve been reading a whole lot lately. The best book I’ve read so far is Julie Buntin’s Marlena, and it’s hard to imagine anything that will top it. Set in mid-90’s Michigan, it’s the story of a girl who tries to figure out what really happened to her friend. A bit of a trope lately, but the story really stuck with me, and Buntin’s writing is incredible.

Another book discovery, the Libby app is my new favorite thing. Similar to Scribd and Hoopla, Libby is affiliated with libraries, and I find it easier to navigate than Overdrive. You can check out audiobooks or eBooks, and send books to your Kindle or read them in the app (so even if you don’t own an eReader, you can still check out eBooks from the library.) Another way to save tons of money while shoveling through the never-ending TBR list!

This is definitely a different… subject than I typically share here, but I try to be pretty sex-positive, and over the holidays I discovered Unbound. They’re a sex toy eCommerce site that’s super tech- and femme-focused, and they have a quarterly box subscription. In addition to sexual health and wellness products and toys, they also have really fun feminist t-shirts, tote bags, and more.

DESSA’S NEW RECORD IS OUT!! Writer, rapper, and general badass, Chime is my album of the year and my favorite of hers to date. It explores feminism and gender, and even her experience in neuroscience experiments in trying to force herself out of love. (That part is worth exploring on its own.)

I’m a little bit late to podcasts, honestly. I liked My Favorite Murder for awhile, I like And That’s Why We Drink a lot, but I never got around to listening to My Brother, My Brother and Me until boyfriend showed me the TV show. The McElroy brothers are super funny, and two of them host my new favorite YouTube discovery, Monster Factory.

What are you into this chilly winter?

March 6, 2018
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february 2018 book club

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february book reviews

I’ve been reading more 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.)

Some books are provided by the publisher through NetGalley or as physical advanced reading copies in exchange for an honest review.

Coming Clean: When this book was published in 2013, I heard the author give an interview on NPR. When I found it on Prime Reading, I was excited to finally read it, but… this book was hard to listen to. I knew it would be. It’s well-written, and the narrator is fine, but it’s one I can’t read at my normal speed because it’s very close to home.

Limited Edition (Ideal Standard): I read this titled Limited Edition on NetGalley, but it’s on Amazon as Ideal Standard – I assume the story is still the same. It’s about Claire, a 30-something who is neurotic about getting older alone… which would have felt very close to home a year ago. It’s a comic, which I’m getting into more and more, and I liked the story but did find it a little hard to follow sometimes. The font used for the text can be a little hard to read occasionally, and the limited colors (while really stunning) don’t lend a lot of help in keeping track of the story, but I thought it was a fun read. If you’re nearing 30 and want to get into comics or graphic novels, give this one a read.

Welcome to Night Vale (Book 1): For a long time I’ve wanted to get into the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, but it’s a little overwhelming to navigate. Do you have to start at the beginning? (Turns out, no.) One of our prompts, a book with a purple spine, proved a lot more difficult to fill than expected, so I was pretty pumped to find this book. I listened to the audiobook – it’s narrated by the voice of the podcast, so it’s a really good way to jump into this fictional desert town. The book was long and the beginning was a little slow to weave the two main characters together, but it was a really fun listen for long drives to Michigan!

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

Eleanor & Park: Another one that has long languished on the TBR list, I decided to use this as a palette cleanser this month. It was… fine? I liked that it did throw a little bit of a twist on the typical high school romance story, but overall Rainbow Rowell’s books have been extremely hit or miss for me, and this is another that just didn’t land.

The Reminders: I’ve long loved Val Emmich – his Little Daggers album is still one of my most often played albums. I had looked forward to this book for awhile and got it when it came out, but didn’t get around to it until now. The story is very unique – told from the alternating perspectives of a young girl and a 30-something Hollywood actor – and I hung on it throughout.

The Hate U Give: I read this book over the course of a day and a half – I just couldn’t put it down. It was very well-written with characters you care about, actions that upset you, and I just found the story very affecting. There’s nothing else to say – this is one of the rare books that is deserving of all of its hype.

Hunger: I wanted and expected to love this book, but honestly, I didn’t at all. It felt unfinished and rushed – a friend described it as feeling like a first draft, and I agree. At one point I actually screamed out loud “sis, go to therapy.”

Blackout: Drinking memoirs are my book of choice, and this was good, but not as much of a standout as Drinking: A Love Story. I liked that it was different because so much of her story is actually absent and she had to recover it along the way, and there’s a whole chunk of my life that I’d have to hunt answers down in a similar way.

the witch doesn’t burn in this one: the witch doesn’t burn in this one is really excellent prose and poetry. The poems here inspire readers to fight the patriarchy and demand more than what women have been given in the past. It’s a quick read with excellent structure and formatting, and I liked it a lot more than the princess saves herself in this one.

Go: Very meh. I liked the message but it was a confusing read – maybe things were lost in translation but there wasn’t enough background for some of the Japanese or Korean terms used – Kindle First is a new find for me, and I can’t wait for the new month to try another book. Go fulfilled a prompt in our challenge I was struggling with, so I grabbed that for February. Liked the mystery of the girl. So much fighting.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

She Regrets Nothing: I did a full review of this book, but if you liked Gossip Girl but wish it was a little more grown up, this is the one to pick up.

The Assistants: This was my biggest disappointment of the month. It was nowhere near as good as I had hoped. I liked the story, and it was a fine chick lit read, but didn’t live up to the hype for me at all.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson: I love John Green, and this was a quick and fine book, but the end didn’t give me a whole lot of resolution. I’m also finding that I’m not the biggest David Leviathan fan – I’ve tried to read two other books he’s co-written and haven’t been able to.

What were you reading this month?

March 1, 2018
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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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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.

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

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.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

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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