Category Archives: Light Pulp

A Review: bareMinerals skincare!

Photo Source: Fashion Jackson

I admit it: I am a beauty and skincare JUNKIE! Beauty and skincare products are one of my favorite ways to spend money; I’d much rather buy new products than clothes or…well, anything. If you’ve been a blog reader of mine for awhile, you know I’m also a bargain hunter.

However, over the last two years I’ve been trying to test more luxury, pricier items when I can – because I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s worth it. To me, this is different than buying an expensive, designer purse or shoes, because it’s not about a name, but it’s about the quality of the ingredients and what it does for your skin, or perhaps your confidence.

I should go ahead and mention that this post is NOT sponsored. If bareMinerals would like to sponsor me, you know where to reach me 🙂

But anyway, it took me a really long time to even try bareMinerals makeup – remember when they first came out with the infomercials? I have always loved makeup, and I love the look of makeup. I’m never going for a “natural” look – because I have blemishes and redness that needs to be covered. Because of that, I thought any sort of “natural”, “mineral” makeup wasn’t for me.

And some of it is not. However, once bareMinerals started increasing their makeup line to include liquid foundations, concealers, and even bold lip colors, I started paying more attention. So, two Christmases ago, I asked for a bareMinerals starter kit – and I got it! It was a little makeup bag that had the primer, the signature bareMinerals mineral veil and the powder foundation, with their signature brush for applying.

I absolutely loved it. It offers full coverage and it makes my skin look so smooth without feeling heavy. Because I am an Ulta Platinum Rewards member, I can earn points (which equals money) on anything I buy at Ulta. So, I always keep an eye out for any sales on bareMinerals or any of their “kits”. Because of this, I’ve tried their eyeshadows, liquid lipsticks, lipglosses, bronzer, and blush, and have loved ALL of it.

So, when I saw they were offering skincare – I jumped on it! I was actually able to purchase a sampler kit using my Ulta Reward dollars (plus, it was on sale), and I later bought a second kit at TJ Maxx for just $10. If you’re a TJ Maxx regular, they often have the bareMinerals’ starter kits (for the makeup).

So, let’s get into the skincare! The kit I bought from Ulta is called “Glow to Go” ($52), which includes travel sizes of the Pure Plush Gentle Deep Cleansing Foam, SkinLongevity Vital Power Infusion Serum, Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Serum, Bare Haven Essential Moisturizing Soft Cream, and a sample of the SkinLongevity Vital Power Eye Gel Cream.

The kit I bought from TJ Maxx had the Pure Plush Gentle Deep Cleansing Foam, Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil, and Clay Chameleon Transforming Purifying Cleanser. I believe it was a holiday package they put together, and I just couldn’t pass it up!

I have been using these products for a few weeks now, and I’m excited to report my findings.

Pure Plush Gentle Deep Cleansing Foam

Here’s the description from Ulta: Enliven your skin every time you cleanse with a burst of plush, cushiony lather. This creamy formula facial cleanser refreshes your skin, lifting away makeup and impurities, while the crisp, scent of grapefruit* invigorates your senses. Infused with elderflower and rosemary extracts, plus mineral-rich sea salts, this daily cleanser leaves skin feeling exceptionally pure, freshly revitalized and comfortably smooth. *Naturally derived fragrance

It’s what’s inside that counts:

  • Mineral-rich sea salts: Cultivated from the waters off the coast of Brittany, these sea salts, rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium, help purify and refine the skin.
  • Elderflower: Known as the herablist’s cosmetic tree, this small, white flower has been used for centuries to beautify the complexion and soften the skin.
  • Rosemary: A fragrant herb known to help cleanse and soften the skin.

This was the first product I tried. First I will say, they are NOT lying about that grapefruit scent and it smells so good! I have used this a few different ways: in the morning right when I wakeup, at night to take off all my makeup, in the shower using my Clarisonic Mia, and just at the skin using warm water and my fingertips. It is creamy, and it has a thicker texture (think: Neutrogena’s deep clean cream cleanser).

Don’t be fooled by their mention of sea salts – this is not a scrub or an exfoliator. It does, however, leave the skin feeling smooth. Plus, a little bit of the cleanser (about a dime-size) is all you need. This is my favorite of the three cleansers! It’s $22 for a 4-ounce bottle at Ulta and is rated 4.5/5 stars.

I’m only using Ulta for this review because you can earn free points for shopping there, AND the sellers on Amazon looked shady.

Clay Chameleon Transforming Purifying Cleanser

Description from Ulta: Transform your cleansing ritual with this beautifully innovative clay-to-cream facial cleanser that combines the benefits of purifying Brazilian red clay and mineral-rich sea salts with the soft comfort of a cream. Enriched with papaya and bamboo extracts, the formula works to gently remove impurities and help detoxify, to leave your skin feeling pure, soft and supple. This skin-enlivening formula is infused with the scent of bergamot and mandarin* to help uplift the senses each time you cleanse. *Naturally derived fragrance

It’s what’s inside that counts:

  • Mineral-rich sea salts: Cultivated from the waters off the coast of Brittany, these sea salts, rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium, help purify and refine the skin.
  • Brazilian red clay: This naturally vibrant red clay helps to purify and improve skin’s clarity.
  • Papaya: Recognized as a good source of skin-loving vitamins and minerals.
  • Bamboo: Known for its strength, elegance and amazing resilience.

 

This cleanser is red from the red clay, and it has a texture of a detoxifying mask (almost identical to the Active Charcoal Mask from Origins). Once you put the cleanser on your face, add a little water, and start cleaning, it turns into a white, milky lather. I have been using this one mostly in the mornings, but I’ve heard other beauty bloggers say it’s good to use on weekends to detox the skin.

This cleanser is also $22 for a 4-ounce bottle from Ulta, and it has a 4.5/5 star rating.

Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil

Desription from Ulta: Immerse your skin in this ultra-lightweight facial cleansing oil for a comforting cleansing experience. Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil glides on to your dry face to effectively – yet gently – dissolve makeup and impurities. Just add a little water and this sensationally elegant oil transforms into a weightless, milky emulsion that easily rinses away. Infused with the uplifting scent of Lavender and Tangerine,* this nurturing blend features borage, sunflower, bilberry and cucumber oils, plus mineral-rich sea salts to leave your skin feeling silky soft and smooth. *Naturally derived fragrance

It’s what’s inside that counts:

  • Mineral-rich sea salts: Cultivated from the waters off the coast of Brittany, these sea salts, rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium, help purify and refine the skin.
  • Bilberry: Grown in Europe and handpicked in the wild underbrush, the oil of Bilberry is valued for its skin soothing properties.
  • Borage: The oil derived from the seeds of the bright, purple flower is known to soothe and nourish the skin.
  • Sunflower: Significant to Native Americans as a source for nutritional, medicinal and ceremonial practices, the emollient oil contains skin-loving vitamins and omega 9 to help nourish skin.
  • Cucumber: The lightweight oil from the cucumber fruit helps nourish and hydrate skin while encouraging resilience.

I have never tried an oil cleanser before, so I don’t really have anything to compare this to. However, I will say that this is light, and not greasy. I have used it to remove my makeup and also just as a cleanser when I’m not wearing makeup. Either way, it’s really gentle on the skin and leaves it soft. I have only used it with my fingers, but am tempted to put the oil on a cleansing mitt or a cotton pad.

This is $30 for a 6-ounce bottle at Ulta, and it has a 4.5/5-star rating.

Bare Haven Essential Moisturizing Soft Cream

Description from Ulta: Embrace your skin in silky-soft, lusciously nourishing moisture. Powered by Intuitive Mineral Moisture Technology, Bare Haven Essential Moisturizing Soft Cream replenishes essential moisture to normal to dry skin, reviving overall resilience and suppleness and infusing an extraordinarily super-smooth feel. This comforting soft cream moisturizer effortlessly blends into skin to help enhance a natural, healthy-looking glow. Plus, a blend of peptides, ceramides and amino acids to help soften rough texture, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The subtle notes of Bergamot and Eucalyptus* add to the sensory experience to gently enliven and awaken your senses. *Naturally derived fragrance.

It’s what’s inside that counts:

  • Intuitive Mineral Moisture Technology: All of bareMinerals moisturizers are infused with Intuitive Mineral Moisture Technology to help replenish your skin’s moisture reserves and diminish rough texture, dryness and visible signs of aging.
  • St. John’s Wort: A bright yellow flower named for St. John the Baptist, shown to help defend against signs of damage and dry, dehydrated skin.

I have been using this in place of my usual moisturizer and this stuff makes me feel like I’m at a spa. It smells so fresh and it’s light in texture… I love it! I will mention that I do not have dry or oily skin – pretty much in the middle. This provides the perfect start to my skincare routine (after I wash my face, of course). I also realized that I haven’t mentioned…bareMinerals does not test on animals, and many of their products are vegan.

This is $35 for a 1.7-ounce jar (a little goes a long way) at Ulta, and it has a 4.5/5-star rating.

Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Serum

Description from Ulta: An innovative serum that contends with the early signs of aging and renews your skin’s natural luminosity. Clinically shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Benefits:

  • Dermatologist tested. Non-comedogenic.
  • Mineral manganese
  • Vitamin C
  • Chai hu extract
  • Target the early signs of aging
  • Renew radiance
  • Combat the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

This has a nice scent to it, and it’s light. I’ve never used anti-aging serums, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’m going to keep using it, and see if I notice changes. I do like the texture, and it makes my skin feel smooth. Also, the bottle says to use 3-4 pumps, but I get by with 2 (always saving when possible!).

This is $55 for a 1-ounce bottle at Ulta.

SkinLongevity Vital Power Infusion Serum

Description from Ulta: This dynamic, first of its kind infusion is designed to revive and help maintain your skin’s most vibrant look of health, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. With bareMinerals patented Long Life Herb Extract at its core, this formula helps to promote skin’s vitality, replenishing it with moisture and reawakening the look of youth. Skin is left feeling empowered, renewed and fortified, with enhanced resilience and a glowingly healthy look.

  • EMPOWER. Unleash your skin’s vitality and radiant luminosity.
  • REPLENISH. Nourish your skin with essential minerals and hydration to reveal softer, more supple skin.
  • RENEW. Diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin texture to promote a youthful look.
  • FORTIFY. Give your skin the resilience to help defend itself against future signs of aging for a healthier looking complexion.

It’s what’s inside that counts:

  • Long Life Herb: Legendary herb shown to help defend against signs of aging. Specially cultivated from the vitamin- and mineral-rich herb grown on Okinawa, known as “the island of long life”.
  • California Poppy: A bright and brilliant flower native to California known for its resilience and ability to thrive in harsh conditions.
  • Lempuyang ginger: A root traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicines and Indonesian Jamu herbal medicine.
  • Skinmimetic Technology: Inspired by the properties of youthful skin, bareMinerals combined Long Life Herb, California Poppy and Lempuyang ginger extracts to create bareMinerals SkinMimetic Technology – a leading edge complex is designed to help protect your skin against visible signs of aging and damage, to promote your most radiantly youthful appearance.

Ugh, I feel really bad for saying this, but this is probably the first real anti-aging product I’ve used. I am really lucky to have young-looking skin, even despite all of my sun exposure over the years. Except for eye creams and products that simply have an anti-aging element, I’ve never really sought out an anti-aging product. I have been using this in the morning (it is recommended to use it at night, too, I just haven’t gotten there yet) and it’s very light, which I love. It also makes my skin feel smooth!

You just need 1-2 pumps to cover your face and neck. This is $38 for a 1-ounce bottle at Ulta, and has a 4.5/5-star rating.

SkinLongevity Vital Power Eye Gel Cream

Description from Ulta: bareMinerals SkinLongevity Vital Power Eye Gel Cream is powered by the patented benefits of mineral-rich Long Life Herb to support vitality and replenish moisture around the eye area for a more youthful look. With added antioxidant benefits of California poppy plus lempuyang ginger help protect against the damages from environmental stressors, and help brighten the appearance of skin. Experience smoother, stronger and more radiant-looking skin. Results you can see and feel in as little as 14 days.

The sample I got was pretty small – I got two uses out of it – so I don’t want to talk too much on this, but I will say this was a soft, light cream. Some eye creams I’ve used are heavy and almost pull on my skin. Not this! I definitely want to try the larger size so I can see how it works over time.

This is $32 for a .5-ounce jar at Ulta – a little goes a long way!

This may seem like a lot, but bareMinerals has SO many other skincare products that I want to try. Here are a few that I’m watching (far sales, free gifts with purchase, double-point days, etc.):

  • Smart Combination Smoothing Lightweight Emulsion ($35, 1.7oz)
  • Blemish Remedy Acne Treatment GelĂ©e Cleanser ($20, 4.2oz)
  • Pure Transformation Night Treatment ($60, 0.15oz)
  • Skinsorials Mix. Exfoliate. Smooth. Add-To-Cleanser Skin Polishing Grains ($22, .88oz)
  • Skinsorials Dirty Detox Skin Glowing & Refining Mud Mask ($35, 2.4oz)
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BBC: ‘The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore’.

It’s not even 11am and I’m only the struggle bus for the day – issues at the office, and y’all KNOW how little tolerance I have for that #WhyDontIWorkForMyself

Anyway, I’ve got another book to share with you from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore” by Kim Fu. Here is the description from Amazon.com:

From the award-winning author of For Today I Am a Boy, a gripping and deeply felt novel about a group of young girls at a remote camp—and the night that changes everything and will shape their lives for decades to come

A group of young girls descend on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets, and camp songs by the fire. Filled with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore traces these five girls—Nita, Andee, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan—through and beyond this fateful trip. We see them through successes and failures, loving relationships and heartbreaks; we see what it means to find, and define, oneself, and the ways in which the same experience is refracted through different people. In diamond-sharp prose, Kim Fu gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves—and the pasts we can’t escape.

Apparently I’m just going to read books about getting lost in the wild among hungry animals and questionable plants… but really, I was pretty excited to add this one to my list, and I sadly have to admit that I was disappointed.

Part of me thinks I just didn’t connect with the characters enough, and it was very much a book about characters and less about them getting stranded at camp (although this is about half of the book).

The portions about them surviving camp were nearly horrifying, which I liked. So, I enjoyed the parts about survival, but not so much the backstory of the characters.

For that reason, I don’t feel comfortable recommending this book! It wasn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t my jam.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli.

And just in case you’re wondering, I finished out yesterday with 8,091 steps – almost 3x what I had last Monday!

Comparing cosmetic primers, III.

My journey may never be complete!

Yep, I am still on a mission to try as many beauty products as possible in order to find the perfect batch! Over the last few months, I’ve tried four new primers, along with an eyelash primer, and I’m here to report my findings.

Balance Me Instant Lift Primer

I got a sample of this primer in my Birchbox! Here’s the description from Birchbox.com: We have our fair share of things we wouldn’t mind getting rid of (pesky neighbors, traffic delays—to name a few), but helping our pores disappear would be at the top of our skincare wish list. This formula uses hard-working ingredients like hyaluronic acid and acacia gum to tighten and blur enlarged pores and smooth and refine your skin’s surface for a glowy complexion.

This one has a thick texture, so it’s good if you have larger pores. Because of its texture, I really felt like I was doing something good for my skin while wearing this. It’s white in color, but rubs in easily.

I’ve seen this primer range in price from $12-$45, so search around if you want to try it!

Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer

I got this as a sample, too, either from Sephora or Birchbox… but I loved it! Honestly, all of the Smashbox primers I’ve tried have been a success, but this one has a little bit of a sheen to it, which I love for summer. Here’s the description from Smashbox.com: This moisturizing face primer gives you an instant golden-hour glow. It has a satin-smooth formula that illuminates, perfects & enhances radiance while hydrating for better makeup application.

Price for this one is around $35 – but it looks like you can buy various sizes on Amazon, including a sample for $7.

MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ 

I bought this after seeing my favorite makeup artist (ahem, Jaclyn Hill) spritz some on her Beauty Blender before applying foundation. I have been using it ever since and am LOVING it. I use this in addition to a cream primer directly on the skin. Here’s the description from Ulta.com:

The holy grail of hydrating mists! M·A·C Prep + Prime Fix+ gives an instant boost of hydration while delivering a soft sheen to refresh and set makeup. The lightweight, prolonging formula is packed with vitamins and minerals, infused with a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber to gently moisturize, soothe and enhance your complexion. Pair with your favorite products in near-endless ways – to sheer out foundation, intensify the color payoff of eyeshadows and highlighters or simply to extend the wear of makeup.

Ummm… since I bought the travel size (1 ounce for $12), I did not know it came in different scents – it comes in original herbal, creamy coconut, romantic rose, and calming lavender. I will most-definitely be getting the romantic rose! This is my first time trying a spray primer, and I think it’s perfect for use on a beauty sponge (nothing beats the cosmetic wedge, if you ask me). This one is $26 for 3.4 ounces.

Laura Geller Spackle Hydrating Primer

This is the second primer from Laura Geller that I’ve tried and I like this one better than the Champagne one I reviewed last time. This one really is hydrating and I would almost say you could use it and skip your moisturizer, but I feel like that’s just not right to say. Here’s the description from LauraGeller.com:

Introducing Spackle Hydrating, a multi-tasking marvel that not only perfects, but also hydrates skin with moisturizing ingredients for normal to dry skin. This vitamin-rich formula moisturizes and soothes skin while priming it for make-up application. Formulated with natural, soothing and hydrating ingredients such as Aloe Vera Gel and Cupuaçu Seed Butter.

Laura Geller Fortifying Lash Eyelash Primer

This came as a sample in my Birchbox, and having used the Laura Geller mascara, I was excited to try this. I don’t think I’ve ever used an eyelash primer before so I can’t compare it, but I’d say you can’t really go wrong with adding an extra layer of color to your lashes. Here’s the description from Birchbox.com:

You prep your skin before foundation and apply a base coat before nail polish, so it only makes sense to get your lashes ready for mascara too. A swipe of this primer strengthens and lengthens your fringe and helps prevent clumps. The black tinted formula blends in seamlessly underneath your mascara (read: no white streaks in sight), and even wears great alone on low-maintenance mornings. Lashes look longer, more defined, and dramatic for eyes that do all the talking.

This is $22 – I’ve only seen it in black.

What primers are you guys using? I think so far, the Smashbox Radiance and the Bare Minerals original primer are my favorites, on top of the MAC Fix.

BBC: ‘The Queen of Hearts’.

Another day, another book to read! On Saturday, I went out to lunch with a friend (we had vegan Chinese food) and we went to see Cecile Richards on her book tour. I got home around 5pm, and had one thing on my to-do list: read a book.

This book was due back at the library on Sunday, and it was non-renewable, so I really had no choice but to sit down and read it! So, I made myself a mug of hot chocolate (it was 40 degrees outside), got my electric blanket, and curled up in my reading chair… and basically read this book entirely – I had about 80 pages to finish up Sunday morning.

The book is “The Queen of Hearts” by Kimmery Martin, and before I go any further, here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Southern Living, Elite Daily, and Writer’s Digest 

A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years. 

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

…Sounds juicy, right?! True to form, I’m not entirely sure how this book got on my list, but it did, and I kept thinking to myself that it would probably be like “Grey’s Anatomy” in book form. And then I heard someone on a podcast refer to it that way, and then randomly, I saw on Kimmery Martin’s Twitter profile, that SHE referred to it that way, too!

One thing I really enjoyed about this was how visual it was – this book would translate well as a movie.

Although parts of the “medical descriptions” made me a bit squimish, I enjoyed the twist that came with the characters being doctors. There were also several layers to the mystery that slowly unfolds, and I appreciated the constant surprises – it was a page-turner, for sure.

I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves a bit of romance (especially among doctors), and those who love a modern mystery.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore” by Kim Fu.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out my Etsy Shop – I have been adding all sorts of new styles for spring and summer!

BBC: ‘The Glass Castle’.

Hellooooo! I’m happy to report that I’m back on the giant sleeping pills and those seem to be working for the time-being. I am still very much into reading as my form of escape, but am slowly getting back into some of my favorite creative endeavors. My blog course at UT is back in session, I made some new jewelry for my Etsy shop, and I’m taking the weekend to get into some new adventures.

But, I’m amped about the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. I know I’m about 7 years late to the game on this one, but here is the description from Amazon.com:

The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

That last line is so true; there were times I just sat with my jaw wide open while reading this book. It’s sometimes difficult to believe it’s a true story. This is a pull-yourself-up tale for an entire family, and they do so in very interesting ways.

I remain amazed at how much Jeannette Walls remembered from her childhood – mainly because I assume trauma would block most of it out. There are graphic details about hunger, the disgusting things they ended up eating, and their incredibly poor living conditions. I can’t say, “I can’t imagine” because Walls described it so well, I could see it vividly in my mind.

This book is so well-written, and the story so layered… there were SO many lines I wrote down in my trusty notebook:

  • I didn’t have the answers to these questions, but what I did know was that I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire.
  • We’d rolled down the windows, and maps and art paper and cigarette ashes were whipping around our heads.
  • Every night for the first few weeks, lying on my cardboard mattress and listening to the sound of rainwater dripping into the kitchen, I dreamed of the desert and the sun and the big house in Phoenix with the palm tree in the front and the orange trees and oleanders in the back.
  • I stirred it as hard as I could and kept stirring even after I knew the paint was ruined, because I also knew that we’d never get more, and instead of a freshly painted yellow house, or even a dingy gray one, we now had a weird-looking half-finished patch job – one that announced to the world that the people inside the house wanted to fix it up but lacked the gumption to get the work done.
  • But a newspaper reporter, instead of holing up isolation, was in touch with the rest of the world. What the reporter wrote influenced what people thought about and talked about the next day; he knew what was really going on. I decided I wanted to be one of the people who knew what was really going on.
  • “And I’ll build the Glass Castle, I swear it. We’ll all live in it together. It’ll be a hell of a lot better than any apartment you’ll find in New York City, I can guaran-goddam-tee that.”

I loved this book. So, now I need to see the movie!

…I’m too late to see it in the theatres, so I may have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

But yes, I’m recommending this to anyone who needs some inspiration right now, to anyone who loves true stories, and to anyone who can relate to a tough childhood.

The next book we’ll be reading is “The Queen of Hearts” by Kimmery Martin.

Listening: ‘Ctrl’ by SZA.

Photo from Rolling Stone magazine.

Morning! I am still very much dealing with stress and grief, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve entered whatever stage messes with my sleep. I’ve been having nightmares nearly every night, and even on the weekends, I can’t seem to get on a sleep schedule that leaves me feeling rested.

But still, I am working to comfort myself by looking to things that have comforted me in the past. One thing that has always helped me is music, so I have been scouring the shelves of my local library’s CD collection and checking out whatever looks good.

A few months ago, I bought a few songs on iTunes from SZA, and decided to get her entire album, “Ctrl” at the library so I could feel it out before buying.

“Ctrl” is SZA’s debut album and it was released in the summer of 2017. It’s mostly R&B, but definitely has hints of soul. I would venture to say she’s got a bit of an Amy Winehouse sound (that is so difficult for me to admit, if you have ANY idea how much I love Ms. Winehouse), and she’s not afraid to come out and say whatever is on her mind.

After releasing many singles from the album, including “Broken Clocks”, “The Weekend”, and “Drew Barrymore”, “Ctrl” went Platinum as of March 2018 – hitting more than 1 million sales.

Last year, SZA was nominated for 5 Grammy awards, but walked away empty-handed. According to an interview she did with GQ magazine (read it here), SZA was “mad as hell” she lost, especially the Best New Artist award, which was (wrongfully) given to Alessia Cara.

But of course, she didn’t create the album to succeed at the Grammy’s, and this is precisely why Grammy Awards don’t matter – everyone loves mediocrity… don’t even get me started.

Even after listening to the album, “Broken Clocks” remains to be one of my favorite tracks, but I also love “Normal Girl”. “The Weekend” is one I’d love to dance to in my stiletto class, and I do like the very first song, “Supermodel”.

I ain’t had a smoke break
In about two days don’t break
Been about three years since I dated you
Why you still talking ’bout me like we together?
I moved on for the better
You moved on to whoever

-SZA, Broken Clocks

SZA has a very unique voice and style, and I’m excited to see what else we hear from her (there is a rumor that she will be collaborating with Missy Elliott).

On another note, I do want to throw something out into the universe that I have been grappling with for some time now, and that’s telling people “no.” I don’t mean telling people “no” in the sense of making plans that I’m too busy to have or taking on too much work, I mean telling people no because I am really just not interested in a relationship with that person.

For whatever reason, I keep getting confronted (often in front of other people) by the same person about spending time together and I feel like I have tried everything – explaining how I felt offended by things that happened between us, blocking phone numbers, posting things on Instagram about rude things they’ve said to me, ignoring them to their face, skirting invitations to hangout… I am at a loss here.

I don’t want to be mean, but I am also not trying to force friendships. I truly feel like I have nothing in common with this person, and I do not want to go to lunch, or discuss books, or even talk. I am just not interested.

Why am I struggling with this? Because I feel like everyone else loves this person and, well, I do not. I’m not going to get into reasons why, but I just cannot shake the anxiety that comes from this situation. Has anyone else dealt with something like this?

Either way, I’ll figure it out.

I’ve got another book to review this week and I think you guys are going to love it – see you then!

BBC: ‘Better Than Before’.

You know, for this being Blanche’s Book Club, I realized I don’t really talk much about my reader friend, Miss Blanche!

For background, Blanche is my rescue kitty, and she just recently turned 5! As a Calico, she is very sassy – and she’s equipped with all of her claws (very sharp) and large teeth. She is quick to attack upon hearing “no.”

At times, our relationship has struggled. Whether she’s waking me up at night or ruining all of my belongings, we’ve fought. Over the holidays, Blanche was pretty sick. She had to go to the vet a few times, eat prescription food, and she had to take lots of medicine (guess who had to give it to her?!).

It was a really rough time. When she doesn’t feel good, I don’t feel good, and I often stayed up during the night petting her and trying to make her comfortable enough to sleep in hopes that rest would help her recovery.

She has been feeling better for almost a month now, and I’m hoping we don’t have anymore episodes of illness. Blanche has been suffering from stress – likely because I have been stressed, so we are both working through it.

I have been making an effort to play with Blanche more, and I’m trying to keep my compulsive cleaning to a minimum. Cats like to feel in control of their environment, and when things change, they get nervous.

But over this past month of her good health, she happily sits beside me as I’m reading – sometimes we sit outside on the patio. The other night, I was on the couch reading, and she was in one of her favorite spots, laying inside of a leather tray that’s sitting on my ottoman. I left to go see a movie, and when I returned three hours later, she was still in the same spot having slept the entire time!

Here’s to hoping I don’t jinx her streak of good health! Anyway, let’s get into the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

The author of the blockbuster New York Times best sellers The Happiness Project and Happier at Home tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Gretchen Rubin’s answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives. So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?

Better Than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow listeners to understand their habits – and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better Than Before explains the (sometimes counterintuitive) core principles of habit formation.

Along the way Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions – oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore:

  • Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do?
  • Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit no matter how hard I try. Why?
  • How quickly can I change a habit?
  • What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit?
  • How can I help someone else change a habit?
  • Why can I keep habits that benefit others but can’t make habits that are just for me?

Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits – even before they’ve finished the book.

This is the third book from Rubin that I’ve read. I absolutely LOVED “The Happiness Project” and half-loved its sequel, “Happier at Home”. I was a little skeptical when I picked this one up, but of course I figured, why not?

In short, this one is good, and it’s pretty interesting. Rubin makes it clear that the same habits don’t work for everyone, and that’s just something we have to understand. I think lots of people do things because other people do – whether it’s a certain diet or workout, perhaps trying to get up earlier or go to bed at a certain time. But just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.

What matters is to be moving in the right direction.

-Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before

So, this book has a lot of information to help you figure out what works for you. Are you a morning or a night person? A starter or a finisher? A spender or a saver?

Although I don’t really think I have any bad habits (at least, none that I can think of), I know there’s better habits I’d like to pick up.

Toward the end of the book, I was starting to get a little annoyed because I just feel like there’s so much pressure for us to be going somewhere all the time or reaching goals or never resting, and sometimes I want to just BE, and I’m an adult and I do what I want. But even Rubin acknowledges this, as she lets herself drink diet soda and has a habit of chewing on plastic coffee stirrers. Hmm.

This is definitely an insightful book, so if you’re looking to change a few habits or pickup some new ones, this may be the book for you!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.

I hope you all have a great weekend and a fun Easter! See you next week 🙂

Just Saw It: ‘Ready Player One’.

Photo from BBC.

I’m writing this at 10:15 pm on Wednesday night, after getting home from seeing the first showing of “Ready Player One”, Steven Spielberg’s creation based off Earnest Cline’s best-selling novel.

This was just the movie I needed to see.

I read the book last June, and I loved it. The funny thing is, it fell into my lap at a time when I was searching for an escape… sort of like right now. Since closing the book last summer, I’ve been counting down the months and the days for this movie to hit the big screen.

All book lovers know that when a great book hits the theatres, it’s a gamble. The story might be completely changed, the characters may not be how you imagined, and in general, the movie just won’t do the book justice.

But when the trailer for “Ready Player One” hit the internet a few months ago, two things caught my attention: the main character, Wade, was exactly how I’d imagined him, and his raggedy life within the stacks was built just how I saw it in my mind. Success.

Before I go any further, let me give you the run-down. “Ready Player One” is the story of Wade, a teenager living in Ohio during the year 2045. It’s a time when most of the population is so fed up with life, they seek refuge in a video game called The Oasis.

Everything happens inside The Oasis – work, school, nightclubs, and well, fighting demons. In 2040, the creator of The Oasis, James Halliday, died. And he left his legacy to the first player to find all three hidden keys that unlock a golden egg.

The best parts of The Oasis? You can be whoever you want, do whatever you want, and no one has advantages over anyone else. There are no rules, and anyone can win.

I won’t go into too many details, but the movie is a little bit different from the book. However, it’s only in the ways that needed to be embellished for film’s sake – the kind of things people want to see, even if they didn’t read the book. There’s a little more love and a little more real life scenes than in the book, but it was seamless. Naturally, the movie capitalized on all of Cline’s 80’s references (and added several), but it was very fun.

There were so many great lines in the book that I noted in my book review, but none of my favorites made it into the movie. However, there were several lines worth noting:

  • People come to the Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.
  • Like many of you, I only came here to escape, but I found something much bigger than just myself.

Truthfully, this movie has it all – the drive to fit in, family trials, loss, love, heartbreak, and friendship. It’s half-VR, half-IRL… and it’s eerily meta. Bravo, Mr. Cline.

I’ve already seen reviews giving Spielberg too much credit for the world Cline created – I’ll keep saying it, you’ve got to read this book. I have also seen a few comparisons to “Willy Wonka”, and sure, that’s loosely an argument to be made. But Charlie Bucket does not make for a Wade or Parzival.

As soon as the credits rolled, I noticed I’d been grinning for the entire 2+ hours, and immediately had to send a text telling someone just how good it was. This is one for the books.

BBC: ‘Into the Wild’.

So…who watched the premier of the “Roseanne” revival? Heh, ME!!!! I was overly excited for it, and well, I’m looking forward to seeing what the remainder of the season has to offer. I also whipped up some vegan sloppy joes with rosemary red potatoes, and it was pretty delicious.

I am continuing to roll right on down my reading list and I’m really excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you! It’s “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless’s short life. Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless’s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naivetĂ©, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding–and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer’s stoytelling blaze through every page.

I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure just how this book wound up on my reading list. But, as you may have come to realize, when a book becomes available on my reserve list, I drive straight to the library, walk straight to the reserve shelf, check out said book, and I often start reading it without even looking at the cover or anything else.

One Sunday night, I laid into bed and cracked this book open, reading by just a small book light hoping to fall asleep. Well… I actually read almost the entire book and before I realized it, it was 1 am and I had to force myself to close my eyes.

This book HAUNTED me. I am not quite sure what about it gave me the chills, but I think it’s because this entire story is just so far beyond me. I have no dreams of living off of nature or purposefully abandoning myself into the coldest wild. In fact, that sounds like my biggest nightmare.

A few things about this story really struck me. For starters, he really didn’t do much prepping before he crossed the country by way of hitchhiking, and during his travels, he really had an impact on the people he met.

I was also absolutely amazed by his ability to remember things; details that helped him survive as long as he did. And, I won’t give anything away, but he didn’t die in stupidity. This guy was smart – and he lived a lot longer than I think most people would have.

Krakauer’s writing – at times reporting – was incredible to read. So much so, I added some of his other books to my reading list. There is a movie based off this book, but I’m not sure I am ready to watch it. The book shook me so much, I don’t know if I could see it… you know?

I’m recommending this book for adventure lovers and anyone who enjoys true stories. The next book I’ll be reading is “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin.

Tonight, I’m heading out to see the premier of “Ready Player One” – a movie based on a book I read last summer. I have been counting down the days for this movie to come out! I hope it’s fantastic and I’ll have a review of it tomorrow!

Podcasts I’ve been listening to, Part IX.

I can’t believe it’s come to a “Part 9” of my podcast recommendations – but here we are. Dream big, folks!

It’s been an entire year since I posted about podcasts and that’s simply because I haven’t been devouring them quite like I used to. Since then, I’ve gotten my own office, with a door, which means I spend more time working in silence, sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I’m simply listening to new episodes from the podcasts I’ve recommended over the years.

I’ve slowly been finding new podcasts to listen to, and well, that’s why I’m writing today – just in case you’ve been looking for some good content to feed your brain. Here goes…

Making Obama

If you’re missing the kindness, wisdom, and poise from our former President (le sigh), this one’s for you. Created by the same people at WBEZ Chicago who brought us “Making Oprah”, this is “Making Obama” and it documents his story from his application to law school. Here’s the description from NPR:

Former President Barack Obama — along with key advisers, mentors, and rivals — tells the story of his climb from Chicago to the national stage. Season One of Making told the story of how Oprah built a media empire. Now, the story of how Chicago shaped the country’s first African-American president.

Right now there are only six episodes (I’m currently on episode 5), and that might be all we get – “Making Oprah” was only 3 parts, with a few bonus episodes. But nonetheless, each episode is around 1-hour, and is so interesting. Start listening to episodes here.

OC Men

I just started listening to this one after I finished watching season 1 of “The OC” for the first time (read my review here). So, I’m only one episode in, but this is pretty comical. Here’s the podcast’s description:

A podcast following the journey of three jerks watching the mid-2000’s show The O.C. Super-fan JT tries to explain the show to his dumb friends, Russell and Jamie, who know nothing about it.

These guys go pretty deep – some of them are studying film, so they really discuss the actors, the body language, and even camera angles. But of course, they’re still talking about “The OC”, and it’s one episode at a time. From the looks of it, they have one podcast episode per “OC” episode, and it looks like they’re all posted, so you can binge away. Start listening to episodes here.

Drawl

I had “Drawl” on my list of podcasts to listen to for months and am finally getting caught up – I’m so glad, because it’s wonderful! Before I go any further, here’s the description:

Drawl is a weekly podcast about Southern poets by Southern poets. Follow along as we feature poetry performances, conversations with poets, and lots of laughs in between. Hosted by Desireé Dallagiacomo and Donney Rose also known as Donney Rose & Desireé Dallagiacomo. Come thru.

I met Donney and Desiree when I was dabbling into the Baton Rouge poetry scene – and these two are so inspiring. They are both amazing poets and they also do an incredible job working with Baton Rouge youth, helping them to use their voices in positive ways. The podcast features a new guest each episode, and it’s making me want to pick up my poetry pen again! Listen to episodes of “Drawl” here.

Straight Up With Stassi

I love, love, LOVE “Vanderpump Rules” and I’ve had my ups and downs with how I feel about Stassi. She’s fashionable and fun, but is she someone I’d go to for political advice? Maybe not. But, this is a fun podcast, and she’s real about everything she discusses, which I love. You can’t fault her for being true to herself, plus, she features fun guests, friends and family. Here’s the scoop:

Love her or hate her, but you can’t ignore the sassy, quick-witted Stassi Schroeder, star of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules.” Never one to hold back on any topic, Stassi is here with a weekly podcast, “Straight Up with Stassi’, a biting and hilarious look at the world and everyone in it, according to the Queen Bee herself.

Listen to episodes here.

BBC: ‘The Rainbow Comes and Goes’.

Hello! It’s Friday and I’m just rolling right on through my reading list. Usually, I use my library reserve list to choose the order in which I read books (when it comes time to pick up, that’s the book I read next), but given my recent loss, I saw this book was on the shelf and decided to go ahead and read it.

I’m talking about “The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss” by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt.

Last year, when the accompanying documentary came out (“Nothing Left Unsaid“), I watched it immediately – I also wrote a review on it. I have always admired Anderson Cooper, have watched him for years on CNN, and saw him in-person with Andy Cohen last year.

Before I go any further, here is the official description of the book from Amazon.com:

A touching and intimate correspondence between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, offering timeless wisdom and a revealing glimpse into their lives

Though Anderson Cooper has always considered himself close to his mother, his intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS affords him little time to spend with her. After she suffers a brief but serious illness at the age of ninety-one, they resolve to change their relationship by beginning a year-long conversation unlike any they had ever had before. The result is a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other.

Both a son’s love letter to his mother and an unconventional mom’s life lessons for her grown son, The Rainbow Comes and Goes offers a rare window into their close relationship and fascinating life stories, including their tragedies and triumphs. In these often humorous and moving exchanges, they share their most private thoughts and the hard-earned truths they’ve learned along the way. In their words their distinctive personalities shine through—Anderson’s journalistic outlook on the world is a sharp contrast to his mother’s idealism and unwavering optimism.

An appealing memoir with inspirational advice, The Rainbow Comes and Goes is a beautiful and affectionate celebration of the universal bond between a parent and a child, and a thoughtful reflection on life, reminding us of the precious insight that remains to be shared, no matter our age.

The documentary and the book are obviously based on the same collection of information, but the book is the collection of emails between Cooper and Vanderbilt, which was really interesting.

It’s funny to me how much we don’t know about our families, or even our parents – or maybe it’s just me. But even someone as famous as Gloria Vanderbilt had a bit of a mysterious past to her son. Here are some quotes I took note of during my reading:

  • “I know now that it’s never too late to change the relationship you have with someone important in your life… all it takes is a willingness to be honest and to shed your old skin, to let go of the long-standing assumptions and slights you still cling to.”
  • “I’ve often thought of loss as a kind of language. Once learned, it’s never forgotten.”
  • “I no longer imagine a diamond at my secret core. Instead, I see shimmering flashes of moonlight on the calm of a midnight sea.”

One topic they didn’t discuss in-depth was the suicide of Anderson’s brother, which Vanderbilt was witness to. It’s talked about extensively in the documentary.

All in all, it was a great read, and inspiring – get to know people you care about! I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves memoirs, and of course, fans of Anderson Cooper and/or Gloria Vanderbilt.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer.

I hope you all have a great weekend – I have another batch of blogs planned for next week! I think it’s safe to say, I am slowly getting my creativity back. Talk soon!

Watching: ‘The OC’, Season One.

Unfolding the drama that is ‘The OC’, season 1.

That’s right, I have NEVER watched a single episode of “The OC” – until now. Of course, I’d heard it was a good show, but it premiered in 2003, when I was strictly watching “Laguna Beach”.

After discovering that my library has NO copies of “The OC” on DVD, I asked for season 1 for Christmas, got it (thanks, mom!), and starting watching it pretty much immediately. Before I dive into my thoughts, here’s the official description from Amazon.com:

When Ryan Atwood, a tough, guarded, fiercely intelligent 16-year-old plunges headlong into the wealthy, privileged community of Newport Beach, he soon discovers that the ruling families of Orange County are every bit as territorial as the tough crowd with which he ran on the streets of Chino. For Sandy Cohen, the idealistic public defender who takes Ryan in; his wife Kirsten, the linchpin of O.C. society; their awkward adolescent son, Seth; and the beautiful troubled girl next door, Marissa Copper – Ryan’s presence will forever change their lives.

Ok, let’s get into this! And yes, there’s about to be loads of spoilers, because I’m assuming I’m the only person who hadn’t seen this show (I’m always late to the game). The season starts with us meeting Ryan in an interesting way – he’s attempting to steal a car with his brother, they mess it up and end up with the cops.

I was shocked – this is what all the hooplah was about? Some loser trying to steal cars? Ugh. But of course, Sandy Cohen, that public defender with a heart of gold, comes to Ryan’s rescue and offers to take him in (duh, there’s room in the pool house) temporarily.

Of course, a kid like Ryan isn’t immediately going to straighten up at the sight of Spanish-tiled roofs and granite countertops, so his presence in the neighborhood does not go unnoticed. He’s new, rough-around-the-edges, and he can’t seem to go anywhere without punching someone.

But alas, he catches the eyes of the girl next door, Marissa (Mischa Barton), and we’re given the romantic side of all the drama. Of course, Marissa’s not without her problems – cut to her drinking an endless bottle of room-temperature vodka.

As the season goes on (there are 27 episodes in season one), drama unfolds with all of the characters, including Marissa and her family, and the Cohens’ extended family members. Each episode ends on a cliffhanger, which explains why I watched a majority of it within a week, and then kept putting off the final three episodes because I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

Honestly, I didn’t grow up watching shows like this. I wasn’t allowed to watch “90210”, and have only seen a few episodes of “Dawson’s Creek”. “The OC” falls in-line with shows like this, the teen-soap type.

It’s good; not too cheesy, and I like the characters. The one that really won me over was Seth (Adam Brody), who is Sandy’s son, and he quickly befriends Ryan upon arrival. Seth is a nerd and despite his family’s name, he hasn’t been able to make many friends or get a girlfriend, well, ever. But once Ryan shows up and throws Seth into the cool scene, Seth is getting all the attention and I got a big kick watching his personality unfold.

For the record, I wanted so badly for Seth to end up with Anna, and was sad to see her go back to Philly. Summer is funny, but her character got stale for me.

Before I forget, let’s discuss Teresa, Ryan’s ex from Chino. I am not a big fan of her, and when she wound up pregnant in the second-to-last episode of the season I was about to scream! She toys with the idea of getting an abortion, but says she just HAS to have this baby (No, girl, you don’t! Your body, your choice!) because, cable TV.

So, the season ends with us not knowing exactly WHO the father is (cue Maury) and Ryan heading back with her to Chino to help her out. NNAAAAOOOOOO! Obviously, I haven’t watched season two yet (please, no spoilers), but I do not think she will end up having the baby and getting a paternity test. I am mostly thinking she will have a miscarriage and/or her and Ryan will get into a fight, sending him back to Orange County at the start of season two. We’ll see.

Probably my favorite two things about this show are 1. the nostalgia, and 2. the theme song. “The OC” is packed with things of my teenage life – silver flip phones, all things Hollister, and the stereotypical California lifestyle. Having said that, the show seemed rather low-budget to me now, but I’m sure if I’d have watched it in 2003, I would have thought it was very glamorous.

And then there’s the theme song, which is highly important (the theme to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is another favorite) and I would be lying if I said I didn’t belt out “CALI-FOR-NNIIIAAAAAAA” every single episode I watched. The soundtrack was also key, and brought me back to lots of bands I listened to in college.

So, there you have it! I haven’t started season two yet, but I promise you, I will! I’d love to hear if you watched this show, and why you liked it, or didn’t like it. In the meantime… “Californiiiiaaaaaaa, here we cooommme!”

BBC: ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’.

Happy Monday! No, really, I am actually feeling good about this week. Last week, I felt so unmotivated and exhausted; I refuse to blame it on Daylight Savings, but something was definitely off.

But now I’ve had a good weekend, got some rest, had some fun, and I have been reading a TON, so I’ve got so many books from Blanche’s Book Club to review! I have also been thinking a lot about this book club. I know a few of you who are following along and/or using the club as a way to keep up with book recommendations (which is awesome, thank you), but it’s a non-committal club, so I haven’t been offering much else.

Should I? I have always wondered if I should offer book club questions or in-depth reader’s guides, or even recipes that go with the books? If there’s a desire for it, I’ll be happy to beef things up. If there was a sign up + email newsletter, would that be of interest? Just feeling things out here – so if you’re a fan of Blanche’s Book Club, let me know what you’d like to see here.

Anywho, let’s get to my latest read: “There’s Someone Inside Your House” by Stephanie Perkins. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.

Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.
 
Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down. 

Before I get too deep into this, I’ll say that I’m not one for scary stuff. It’s not entirely logical because I do like crime… I loved “CSI”, “Dexter”, and “Killing Fields”, and I devoured the coroner’s reports on Derrick Todd Lee.

But I don’t do scary movies. At all. I can’t even watch the previews on TV. When I was in high school, I loved them. That was during the time of “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, and I saw them all.

Once I moved out on my own, however, things were different. Scary movies weren’t so funny and I realized hey, actually some of this maybe could happen. And now I have timers on my lamps and never leave home without pepper spray.

All of that to say… I’m not entirely sure how this book ended up on my list, but I figured if I’m looking for a distraction, it may as well be murder. And this book DELIVERED.

To my delight, this book was very 90’s horror, and it’s high school setting had me feeling vibes from “The Faculty” SO HARD. Very “We don’t need no education…” – even though this book has absolutely nothing to do with the teachers being alien hosts.

I read this book quickly, but it stuck with me for days. The description of the killer was haunting, enough so to make me a tad frightened any time I entered my apartment at the end of the day. This is a goodie, y’all.

I’m recommending this to horror movie lovers, and anyone who loves a thrill and misses the 90’s. If you’re a seasonal reader, this would be a good one to read in the fall, around Halloween.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is, “The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss” by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt.

BBC: ‘Hate List’.

I almost didn’t want to post anything today – I know you all are probably sick of reading my book reviews, but I have been reading so much lately! I think I’m using books as a bit of an escape from life, stress, grieving, etc… so I’m just going to go with it.

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown. Before I get into this ANY further, here is the official description from Amazon.com:

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

I was reading this book thinking, “Wow, this is so timely…” and then I saw it was published in 2010 and realized probably any book written about a mass shooting has been considered “timely” since Columbine.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into politics here, but it did break my heart just a little to realize that, yes, school shootings are so common now that they’re becoming topics in YA novels. Amirite?

I took note of some of my favorite lines from the book:

  • “Bruter’s name was the first of hundreds on the now infamous ‘Hate List’, a red spiral notebook confiscated from Nick Levil’s home just hours after the shooting.”
  • “And then there was the noise. It wasn’t so much a noise in my ears as it was in my brain. It sounded like the whole world was shutting down on me.”
  • “I wanted her to smile, and I wondered if she smiled when she got home and held her kids or if she just came home and sat back in her recliner with a vodka and drank until she couldn’t hear gunshots.”
  • “After your classmates get blown away pretty much everything else in the world – even your father bailing on your family – seems pretty trivial.”

This book did a good job of showing the other side of mass shootings – what happens to the people that knew and loved the person with the gun? It’s not something that is usually covered in the media, but is addressed locally; a funeral often has to be held for the accused as well.

The book also addresses mental health and how we (as humans) digest the things people say to us, such as, were those actual signs? Jokes? Could I have done something to prevent this from happening?

And finally, this story seemed so real; the characters, the school, the high school struggle – I couldn’t help but be completely submerged into this world. A truly fantastic read.

I’m recommending this one to YA novel lovers, and to anyone who enjoys human interest stories.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “There’s Someone Inside Your House” by Stephanie Perkins.

In other news, I DO have other ideas for blog posts in my mind, but like I said, I’ve simply been trying to just take it easy on myself and do anything that doesn’t feel awful. I had tickets to go to a hockey game last night, but when it came time to get into my car and go, I couldn’t do it. I was worried it would remind me too much of my dad and I’d just end up sitting there crying.

I have started going through some of the things willed to me by my dad and am documenting it on my Instagram account @OrangeJulius7 if you’d like to follow along – it’s part of a bigger project I will eventually reveal.

Happy Friday-eve!

BBC: ‘The Other Side of Everything’.

Howdy! Did anyone else stay up watching The Oscars last night? I did, and I’m not entirely sure why – I never am good at keeping up with the movies that are nominated. I did enjoy when the celebs visited the moviegoers across the street, though.

I also took a much-needed 3-hour nap yesterday, so when midnight rolled around, I still wasn’t really that tired. This all results in me not wanting to be at work today (shocker), wearing the first thing I could find in my closet, and no makeup. Wamp!

I can’t really explain why, but I’ve been reading SO much lately. It might be offering me a bit of an escape, so I’m just going to take it for now. The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is a murder mystery: “The Other Side of Everything” by Lauren Doyle Owens.

This book is pretty new (published January 23, 2018) – I always get excited for new books, because I get most of mine from the library (this one included). It is also Owens’ debut novel. Here’s the description of the book from Amazon.com:

Laura Lippman meets Megan Abbott in this suspenseful literary debut about three generations of neighbors whose lives intersect in the aftermath of a crime.

Bernard White is a curmudgeonly widower who has lived in Seven Springs, Florida for decades and has kept to himself since his wife passed. When his neighbor is murdered, he emerges from his solitude to reconnect with his fellow octogenarians. These connections become a literal lifeline as a second, and then a third, elderly woman is murdered, and “the originals” as they call themselves, realize that they are being targeted.

Amy Unger is an artist and cancer survivor whose emotional recovery has not been as successful as her physical one. After the woman next door is murdered, she begins to paint imagined scenes from the murder in an effort to cope with her own loss. But when her paintings prove to be too realistic, her neighbors grow suspicious, and she soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the police.

And then there’s Maddie Lowe, a teenage waitress whose mother recently abandoned the family. As Maddie struggles to keep her family together and maintain the appearance of normal teenage life, she finds herself drawn to the man the police say is the killer.

As they navigate their increasingly dangerous and tumultuous worlds, Bernard, Amy, and Maddie begin to uncover the connections between them, and the past and present, in a novel that ultimately proves the power of tragedy to spark renewal.

Although a majority of this book focuses on older characters, there’s one teenage character and I loved reading the chapters that focused on her. The entire book was creepy, very descriptive (which I love), and it felt very much like a true story. There were even a few political digs that made me think this was written in its entirely within the past few years.

I’m recommending this book to true crime lovers and mystery readers! The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown.