Friday, June 26, 2015

Link Love: Friday Faves

Happy Friday, everyone! It's been a hell of a week, especially for those of us on college campuses where school for the Summer Quarter has started once again (No, I'm not taking classes, but now there's all of these pedestrians to contend with that weren't there before...). 

At least it's the weekend, now, and while I may not be able to go camping with my family like I might have wished, at least the Pre-Launch Party for the company I'm interning for is this upcoming Sunday. Wish me luck! 

Out of Print has plenty of awesome new releases for summer tee shirt season... and they're now selling plus-size, as well! 

I've found myself rewatching the Emma Approved web series for a little bit of confidence inspiration, and stumbled upon this article from last year, about why it didn't do as well as Pemberley Digital's much-lauded previous success, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. What do you think?

I have a NEED for books on my legs!

And an adorable street library somewhere in the Greek neighborhood!

Epic Reads just released an informative and inspiring history of YA books, that has me wanting to revisit some of the old favorites featured in it.

Ugh, what a sucky title. I was fully prepared to disparage Bustle's choices with this "Book Club Picks for Millenials (Yes, We Read)" nonsense... until I saw how great they were. And, of course, Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series should always be praised.

This interview with Queen of Everything S. J. Maas was published back in February, but I hadn't gotten around to really reading it until this past week! (Warning, contains spoilers for all published works thus far in the Throne of Glass series!)

And there's always time for one of my favorite passages from Sylvia Plath, especially in comic-book form.


  • What I'm listening to: When I'm at the gym, it's a two-song playlist of Life of Dillon's "Dreams" and ZZ Ward's "Put the Gun Down" for a full 20 minutes on the elliptical. 
  • What I've been snacking on: GoPicnic is basically a grown up Lunchables, my favorite being complete with spreadable cheese, crackers, salami, trail mix and chocolate cookie bites. And yes, there's an activity on the inside of the box. 
  • What I've been obsessing over: The Seattle startup I'm managing social media for, Tiviti, is basically like a Build-a-Bear for body lotion, and right now, there's little I love more than slathering on some of our Peach Vanilla flavor. (Got a teenage girl who'd be interested in coming to the Pre-Launch Party? RSVP here!) 

What good reads have you seen on the feeds this week? What are your plans for such a lovely summer weekend? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Planner Progress and a Mid-Year Checkin : Planner-ed Out Perfect, Part Three

The last time you heard me expostulating on all the reasons why owning a journal is vital to my life, was back in August, when I had whittled down the selection process to exactly which kind of journal I was going to be investing in for the coming year

Dissatisfaction with my first foray, resulted in the purchase of a Whitney English Day Designer the following December, and I've been giddy ever since.

(The last time you heard me talking about journals in general, was only a little while ago, when Finals Week had so finely riddle my brain capacity with holes like Swiss cheese that I found myself tumbling headfirst down the rabbit hole of the YouTube planner enthusiast community, instead of actually studying.)

I thought that since about half a year has past since I've had the planner, and therefore, I've had plenty of time to give it some use and figure out the ways I like to use it.

And unexpected water bottle explosions inside my backpack aside, it's held up super well!

That's right, my old Camelback flooded my backpack!
But it's still kicking. :) 


There's a lot to be crazy about in the Day Designer. I don't know how I ever got along with just a weekly-spread planner, because the page-a-day layout is where it's at. No pesky to-do lists on my phone for me! I've got it all in one place, and plenty of room for adding in other things I'm thinking about. 
What I mean by "Quarter at a Glance."
I just fit everything important onto one page!
Thankfully, the Day Designer has a handy pocket in the front.

Two things I've started doing that I didn't think about before, was tracking my blog upload dates on the monthly calendar, and tracking my meals. 

Beforehand, I just used a separate journal to figure out upload dates and blog posts for the month, but I would always end up forgetting it, and it wasn't laid out in a way that I could easily switch things around depending on the business of my schedule. I noticed that I wasn't utilizing my monthly spread for much of anything - because I like to be able to see my whole Quarter-At-A-Glance for that sort of thing - so I've just started keeping my update schedule there! It's made a world of difference in helping me decide what post to upload when, and seeing it all in one place has made it a lot easier to visualize what kinds of things I'm uploading each week. 

Tracking meals wasn't really a thing for me, until I saw YouTube user MaeBad using her Day Designer as a Fitness Journal. It's super effective, because it allows you to see at what times of day you're eating (about every three or four hours), and what kinds of stuff you're being tempted to eat at, say, 11pm (peanut butter and oreos). Now, I just scribble in a sort of meal plan in the mornings, and revise it throughout the day as needed. 

But yeah, the Day Designer is still the best thing ever, no matter how many YouTubers I watch exalting the holy grail of the Erin Condren planner. I'm a Whitney English groupie for life. 

Besides, you can always still use fun stickers and washi tape in your Day Designer, too!
(Don't be mean; it's not for you, it's for me. And I happen to like a lot of color. And tiny animals.)

... AND YET...

So, yeah, I'm in love. You'd think that I'd be happy and confident in my choice and that I'd never have to worry about picking out a new planner ever again, so long as Day Designers were still around? Unfortunately not. It's by no means a worry that they'll somehow fade away... it's that they're evolving.

That's right. A couple of days ago, just in time for this post, Whitney English and the rest of the Day Designer team made the grand announcement that they were entering into a new partnership with Blue Sky Planners, to release a special line for Target.

That's right! Now the planners that I love and cherish and have changed my life are now not just as adorable and functional as they have always been... but they're available at much cheaper prices and in twice as many cute styles and sizes.

DARN. IT. I guess that makes this to be continued...

What planner do you use? What did you think of Whitney's big announcement? Should I buy a Target  version of the Day Designer, or stick with my trusty Daily format? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: Belzhar (aka, WHAT.)

How could something so promising resolve itself so poorly? How can a narrative completely dismantle itself after the 80% mark? Who the hell edited this? Answers to these questions - and more! - I'd really like to have explained.... and here's why! 

Belzhar is the first young adult novel written by NYT Bestselling author Meg Wolitzer, who also wrote The Interestings. 

This novel follows the story of a girl named Jam - as in, Jamaica - Gallahue, who is sent to a boarding school for emotionally fragile teenagers in order to recover from the trauma of losing her boyfriend. There, she becomes a part of a five-person Special Topics in English class, which is said to be a transformative experience for the few students who are able to take part... only to realize shortly thereafter that it's because of the magical journals they're assigned to fill, which transport those writing in them to revisit the time just before their tragedy.

Boarding School? English Classes? Magical journals?! You'll notice a sharp disparity between the venom of my opener, and the sheer awesome that was that blurb. My sister certainly did, on our weekly tea date two weeks ago, after I opened the conversation with, "I just finished the worst book ever," and then proceeded to launch into a half an hour of lauding minutae of approximately 80% of the plot. As I paused to draw breath, she stopped me. "It sounds like you actually liked it!"

Oh, I did. I sat quietly on the floor of my room during a jam-packed Finals Week with one of my best friends sitting four feet away, studying dutifully at her desk, for a little over three hours. Well, strike that: I sat quietly for about two hours and forty minutes, until the silence was broken with a quick and disbelieving, "WHAT."

Let me make it perfectly clear: I was head-over-heels for this book. I am a firm believer in using journals as a therapeutic means of overcoming trauma, as well as Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, which is central to the plot of the novel. The entire thing was one great, big, beautiful allegory for confronting the difficulties of your past by writing it out, and I was ready to start a religion on this thing. I was ready for a full week of allied posts, like how to start your own journal, and my own personal reflections on my lifetime of journaling. I was ready to GO.

And then it FELL APART so damn quickly I felt like it was a narrative device. You can honestly stake the exact point in the novel where I checked out, the shift in interest altering so violently I thunked my head against the wall behind me in sheer, unconscious frustration. The climax of this story so fully altered all of the beautiful plot it had been doing such a fantastic job constructing in the first 4/5ths of the novel, I almost DNF'd. Not a joke.

I'm going to try  and describe the ultimate point of meltdown as abstractly as I can, but hopefully those of you who have also suffered through the last bit of this novel will understand.

Here's the thing: you have a purportedly contemporary novel, with fantasy elements. Those fantasy elements are explored in the first person narration, and corroborated by other similar characters to agree with your narrator. It's a solid means of constructing weird stuff - like magical transportation journals - into an otherwise normal plot. That is, of course, until you do something that makes the narrator - the first-person narrator, primary point of contact for everything that happens in the novel - UNRELIABLE.

This shatters any believability that the fantasy element actually exists, because if the only person we know who can give us a complete description of the element is a crazy person (even if the existence of the element is agreed upon by others) there's no reason we have to believe them. This un-believability didn't just take me out of the narrative, it ripped me out backwards and threw me against the wall. I read the same page six times, trying to understand, because clearly, there was something wrong with my comprehension ability if something that was just so great wasn't making sense anymore.

But no, it wasn't me. It was the book. And I'm glad I read it... but I'm even more glad that I finished it, because for a little bit there at the end, I didn't think I'd manage.

Final Verdict: Really, I think everyone should read the first 80% of this book, because it's honestly awesome. Then just feel free to close it, and never read past your bookmark.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer 2015: What I'm Up To!

Every once in a while, it's easy to get wrapped up in all the news and demands of BookWorld, without taking the time to really appreciate what's going on in the RealWorld. So, just to give y'all a little insight into my daily doings, here's my plans for #Summer2K15! 

Itty bitty living space, but meh.
Harry Potter dealt with worse. 
Summer is here, and the time is right, for dancing in the streets! Or, reading books in the comfort of your new room. 

That's right: new digs. I've taken over my Big's room in Seattle, now that she's moved on to San Fran for an internship! My younger sister took a job in Yellowstone for the entire summer, so yes, I technically could have dealt my mother's heart a far worse blow than I did, but I'm a much higher percentage hermit crab than my sister, and this is a big deal for me.

I've also got both a job with UW's Student Calling program, as well as a social media internship with a Seattle bath and body startup company, named Tiviti. Beyond that, though, I'm still working with UW's Panhellenic Board, which means gearing up for the 2015 Formal Fall Recruitment season! It's going to be a busy next couple of weeks... just the way I love it. 

I'm also reading a ton of books, duh. I'm still behind on my 2015 Goodreads Challenge... but not for long! Like I mentioned in my Resolution Check-In, I'm trying to work more classics into my reader diet, but I'll still make plenty of room for the rest of my favorite genres, too. I've averaged about 25 titles within the past couple of years for summer, and I'm trying to step up my game, so buckle up for some quality content in the next couple of months. 

Selfie at the Gum Wall during Finals!
(Big that I was with, not pictured.)
And I'm trying to be more adventurous, and independent. That basically translates into trying at least a few new things a week! (Like, this week, it was riding in an Uber, and going to the gym, both by myself! I know, I know... baby steps). Some of the things I'm really looking forward to, are exploring Seattle more, partaking in some of the local summer festivities, and just making new opportunities for myself to feel comfortable and at home in my environment. 

Finally, I'm trying to edit my book. That's right, remember that novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo this past November? (No? Read my progress here --> here --> here!). I'm taking the first looks at it I've had since then... and who knows what'll happen after that, but at the very least, I'm hoping to have a semi-finished novel on my hands by the time September rolls around! 

Well, that's what I'm up to, for now. Sorry for the lack of review posts recently, but don't worry... we've got one coming up tomorrow morning! 

What have you been up to, so far this summer? Got any big plans, or adventures in store? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

You Can Rent EBooks from the Library and It's Changing My Life

Let's get one thing straight: one of the only reason that this Resolution isn't killing me slowly, is the fact that I can get books for free from my local library... and, as I figured out about two months into this especially awful form of self-denial, I can get them in ebook format, too.

That's right... it's called Overdrive, and its a special program for libraries that enables patrons to rent ebooks remotely, through their Amazon account, and have it downloaded directly into their preferred Internet-connected platform, including your web browser (for those of you more used to reading fanfiction, lol. Just kidding).

Here's just a handful of the perks of such a great service:

  • You can rent them remotely, ie, comfortably from your desk in Seattle. Like, I can be laying in bed with no makeup on and yoga pants on a Wednesday morning, or dead-tired after a long day of running around on a Thursday night, and I'm easily able to pick up a couple of new titles in either case. 
  • You can get access to new, in-demand fiction quicker than in-person. Because it's in an ebook format, and the online platform still isn't as popular as checking out books in-person, there's a greater chance of you snagging that hot new title. 
  • And if you can't manage to be the first to snag it? No one will judge you for the fact that you've just placed twelve different holds on various titles (which, as it turns out, is pretty necessary). 
  • They've got audiobooks on file for download, as well, which is super convenient if you've got an iPhone or an Android phone, with their accompanying app! Need knew listening material before you go on a run? Download it instantly! 

That doesn't mean that there aren't any drawbacks, however...

  • There are still a limited amount of copies to be checked out at any one time, in terms of what's available in the ebook pool for everyone's enjoyment... which are usually all the titles you want to read. Most of the new stuff, you have to pick up just as soon as its made available, or you have to place a hold (which is how the aforementioned "12 of them" comes in handy). 
  • There's also a more restrained amount of books that are actually available for checkout, because they can't make the full catalog available for readers, but, like the library stock itself, keep things pretty carefully curated. A lot of classic titles are up for grabs, but the newer stuff... you may have to wait a little while. 

But really, that's it. That's all the drawbacks.

It is, for the most part, an incredibly useful service, and I've already used it several times, with both Katie Cotugno's 99 Days, as well as a couple of titles that'll be popping up on the blog in the near future (and one that I really can't wait to hear more opinions on... you'll see what I mean).

(PS. Somewhat belatedly, I realize this honestly sounds like an endorsement. It is - in the means that I effing love this program - but judging from the fact that this is available for free to literally everyone, I don't think I'm enjoying anything from it that anyone else isn't also able to get... so it's not. Get it?)

Does your library have Overdrive, or a similar kind of service? Do you use a different kind of rental service, like Oyster, for your ebook reading? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

2015 Resolution Check-In: I Haven't Broken, but that Doesn't Mean I Don't Want To

So, by now you've all heard about my daringly difficult choice in New Year's Resolution for 2015... and since we're already over halfway through the year, I thought it was the perfect time for a bit of a check-in, don't ya think?

Well, then let's get the obvious out of the way first: I hate it. It sucks seeing so many new and pretty books coming through the year, from the books everyone got over Holiday Break back in January, to all of these "Best Beach Reads 2015" lists we're seeing now, and all I want to do is tear every title I see out of the computer screen and read it myself. I've been dying to read everything from Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train and other hot-novels-of-the-moment, to random books haphazardly piled in stacks outside of the local thrift stores boasting a $2 price tag.

My friends have had to put up with a lot of tweets from me much like the above.
Damnit, TWaTD, why are you so pretty???
But even $2 per book qualifies as spending money, and I've decided not to do that this year (like an IDIOT).

That being said, I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that I've been so good about saving money so far this year. I don't even want to know how much I spend on books on a normal annual basis, but I know that the amount of money I've been spending on things like my rent for my Summer digs, or a gym membership for the next couple of months, probably doesn't even come close to the stacks I've racked up for the stacks on my shelves at home.

It's also allowing me to take a good, hard look at some of my typical reading habits. For instance, the inspiration for the Resolution came partially as a result of categorizing my bookshelves - like I do every Winter Break... or whenever I feel like it - and I realized that I had over 250 titles I had never even attempted. Most of these were "classics," or "things I bought mainly because my Mom told me to and then let sit on my shelf."

The thing is, I love saying I'm well-read... but physically possessing a novel is not the same as mental comprehension. Instead of dusting off these tomes for perusal, I usually rely on a steady stream of YA and contemporary fiction from the library, my Kindle, or whatever publishers send my way, to occupy my time. I still read a lot of that, of course, but the Resolution has made me a lot more conscious of where I'm dedicating my time, reading-wise, and I'm hoping the downtime of summer will give me more of an opportunity to explore the books I already have on my shelf more in-depth.

And, of course, I've become great pals with my local library once again. Even though I live in Seattle now, it's always a good feeling to go back to my home base every once in a while, and pick up the titles I've reserved. I'm thinking about getting a Seattle Public Library pass, though, just to keep things a little more local... and, of course, give me an excuse to do a little more exploring in this big ol' beautiful city.

One of my absolute favorite things, and the one that keeps all of my reading material in one place!
One of the best things about Tacoma Public Libraries, though, is their Overdrive platform, which allows for me to check out titles directly onto my Kindle or iPhone... perfect for indulging in those YA and contemp. novels I just can't wait for, or listening to audiobooks while I'm on the elliptical at the gym. This program is definitely something I couldn't have gotten this far in my Resolution without... if only because I'm a massive Kindle junkie, known for purchasing multiple titles at a time in an hour-long bend (just ask my Little). Now I can keep up with my self-indulging ebook ways, but for free!

How about y'all? How are your 2015 Resolutions holding up? Have you ever found yourself in a similarly bookish position? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: 99 Days

99 Days
It's one thing to have a character make a bad decision that sets in motion the string of events that leads the plot of the novel. It's another thing to have a character who leads the narration through deliberately antagonistic choices. And it's quite another to have a lead like this... 

99 Days, by Katie Cotugno, tells the story of Molly, who returns after a year hiding away at boarding school, to find that the reverberations of one bad decision are still being felt throughout her sleepy home town. From her ex-boyfriend Patrick - the boy she cheated on - to his older brother, Gabe - the boy she cheated on him with - it seems like everywhere she turns, there's yet another reminder of the past she tried so hard to leave behind. However, it seems like Gabe might just be willing to take the chance to make things right. Can one summer really change everything?

The premise intrigued me. Going into it, I was kind of rationalizing with myself, this is going to be a book about redemption, and this is how Molly turns things around. Everyone loves a good comeback story, right?

It all comes down to whether you can effectively make the actions of the character - no matter how bad they were - understandable to the reader. In that case, 99 Days is a success, because it does a good job at weaving the complexities of the relationships Molly has with both Gabe and Patrick, as well as their sister, Julia, and her own mother, into an organic environment that could have lead to the jaw-droppingly awful environment she lives in.

However, that still didn't make it good enough. It wasn't just that Molly made one bad decision... there were things she did as a character that made me grind my teeth and flinch. Bad, Molly! I have a seriously hard time thinking anyone could think a character like this was realistic, because I've never met anyone who makes this level of terrible decisions in my life.

The writing style was fairly general for YA contemporary. so that wasn't much of a redeeming factor. The characters were fairly well flushed-out, but then again, that was kind of one of the problems, wasn't it?

And final nail in the coffin, the ending was also a little too ambiguous for my taste, and it ended in such a way that I didn't feel like any of the characters were either redeemed or had learned anything. But hey, at least I finished it, right?

Final Verdict: This study in moral relativity wasn't exactly a great read, but from a technical standpoint, it was fairly well-written, aside from the lackluster ending. Maybe pass on this one, and find yourself a better summer read in Dessen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Third Time's the Charm: My Junior Year in Books

I've done it once, I've done it twice, and now I've done it once again: I've gotten through another year of college! 

And while the thought of my quick advance towards Senior Year and Adult Life thereafter basically makes me want to keel over and die right now (not like this intense heat we've been getting here in Seattle hasn't already been giving me ideas), I find myself looking forward to enjoying my last year with my girls in Sigma Kappa, completing my stint on Panhellenic, as well as my general collegiate experience... and finally doing all of the stuff I've been afraid to do up to this point because I was worried about literally everything else.

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, it's time to reflect on the past year in pages, and talk about some of my absolute favorites.

Best Voice: The Intern's Handbook, Shane Kuhn
I read this all the way back in September, and I'm still recommending it to people. I don't know, spies are kind of something I've always loved, and it's weird how Kingsman: The Secret Service came out so soon after this book did, because I think they'd find fans in very similar audiences.

Best Story: Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
Still left reeling from this one. I'm torn between wanting to immediately pick up another one of Palahniuk's works, and wanting to retain some shreds of my sanity. Still, the story was awesome.

Best Style: The Keep, Jennifer Egan
Literally could wax poetic for days about how much of a girl crush I have on Jennifer Egan. A Visit from the Goon Squad was my Best Style choice from my Freshman Year - I didn't even realize it until I was going to add the link in to this post) and nothing has changed since... I'm still crazy about Egan's versatile, dynamic prose.

Best Cover: Wildwood, Colin Meloy
Oh come on. It's so cute! I love the hand-drawn detailing and the cozy, forest-y feel. If only I could overcome my significant aversion to Portland, maybe I'd buy this in a print or something.

Best Reread: The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
I reread this book my Freshman year, in order to get out of the anxiety block that had already hit me like a ton of bricks come that Winter Quarter, and I reread it again this past Winter, as well, as a sentimental send-off, for my final College Fashion article (it's crazy to think that all came to an end only SIX MONTHS ago!). There will always be plenty of room in my heart for this timeless novel. I am a proud resident of Dictionopolis.

Most Hype: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
This book had a cover that grabbed your attention and a debut that grabbed headlines, but overall I found it to be a little mediocre, though with an intriguing concept. Meh.

Best Nonfiction: The Heroine's Bookshelf, Erin Blakemore
Still in love with the inspiration taken from some of my favorite fearless females in fiction (haha, I love alliteration!). I can't wait to visit some of the characters mentioned in this book on their home turf for the first time.

Best Assigned Material: Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, Faiza Guene
You'll be getting a review on this one soon enough, I promise, because I had an awesome time reading this quick coming-of-age read, set in the city of Paris (it was for that History of Europe class I was telling you all about). What a character, and what a voice. I had not expected this one to come out of such an intense lecture class!

Best New Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Oh my God, I may talk a big game about all of the classics and contemporary NYT bestsellers I read on a yearly basic, but Lord knows my safe zone is always going to be girly YA fluffers. I freaking love Sarah's witty, sarcastic, and unique heroines, as well as all of the shenanigans they find themselves wandering into. If only high school was this sweet.

Best Old Author: Meg Cabot
If Sarah Strohmeyer can make you smile and lift you up like a handful of pretty pink balloons, then Meg Cabot's the house from Up. I was in a funk earlier this year, so what did I do? I went to the library and checked out the entire Airhead series. I love Meg.

Best Overall: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
There hasn't been a conversation about books I've had in the past year where I haven't aggressively tried to insert this book. Not only is it impeccably crafted, but the conversations that arise from goading people into discussing this novel are some of the most interesting ones you can have while in a crowded vehicle on the way to a Retreat. Trust me.

(Looking for rundowns of my Sophomore or Freshman years? Click here, and here, respectively!) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Finals Week: My Strange Obsessions

Every Finals Week, it's something.

Apps like Trivia Crack, 2048, and Yik Yak all swept our college campus as Finals Week fixations. Last quarter, I watched every single blind audition for The Voice from every single season... and I don't even like The Voice. It's like our minds are so desperate for any outlet that's NOT STUDYING that they immediately orient themselves around whatever's at hand.

Okay, so it's not all that bad: all the way back in freshman Winter Quarter, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries started out as a Finals Week obsession of mine, with 100 episodes in about 4 days. So did watching every seaon of The Guild. But this time? Boy, a textbook case of falling down the rabbit hole. Funnily enough, I had actually been pegging soy candles to be what was going to take me under this week. Alas, not even close...

This quarter's obsession started out innocuously enough: I discovered that one of my favorite YouTubers, Elle Fowler, also runs a pretty planner Instagram in her spare time. That simple trip across social media platforms, sharply spiraled downwards, into hours upon hours discovering the recesses of the YouTube planner obsessives community.

Elle's video that started the spiral... Planner 101. Was there any way I could have resisted?
It's a classic addictive pattern: I was already susceptible to all of the things I've gotten addicted to, planners just make me an especially easy target. This year, I ended up springing for a $60, online-orders-only Whitney English Day Designer, just so I would be given the opportunity to micromanage my own schedule to my heart's content.

But lately, it's been looking a little bare... because I'm so wrapped up in Finals prep - and because the hectic amount of things going on have made this both one of the best and worst Quarters of my life - there are entire stretches of pages left blank. That's been weighing on my conscience. But now, even though my own life isn't in order, I can log on to YouTube, and watch entire 35-minute-long videos of Southern suburban moms decking out their Erin Condrens with overpriced gel pens and specialty Etsy sticker prints...

However, as I found myself attempting to rationalize spending $30 worth of cutesy Korean stickers and foreign specialty washi tape on Amazon as a totally viable lifestyle choice, I realized change was necessary.

Now, after the fog has lifted, look what's become of my oh-so carefully curated Etsy "Favorites" section: top to bottom with adorable, twee, hipster stickers... for three straight pages.

Not saying they aren't cute, and not saying that's I'm not still going to buy at least a couple of them after this is all over... because, let's face it, my planner is a little bare, and anything that brings me closer to Mabel from Gravity Falls brings me one step closer to God.

But HOLY GUACAMOLE, guys, that was a close one. Here's to hoping I make it through the rest of Finals Week in one piece... but at least, if not, I'll be able to stick myself back together with washi tape.

My last one's this Wednesday, so wish me luck. For those of you still on the grind, like me, here's what's been circulating in my sorority as motivation for the past week. Happy Finals!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Fight Club

It's like a car accident... an absolutely horrific, brutal reminder of your own mortal state, but there's no way you could think of looking away. Here's why this iconic novel made its way onto my TBR for 2015.

Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk, follows the story of a generic worker bee narrator, as he falls under the sway of Tyler Durden, a charismatic and damaged young man with a plan for the future, and a new kind of club, holding secret boxing matches in the basements of bars. This direct violence gives way to greater machinations of destruction, spiraling outwards until it effects way more than just some beat-up guys after work. Soon, our narrator is forced to confront the question, who is Tyler Durden, anyways? 

This prose was fantastic... I'm such a sucker for the stream of consciousness style, and this is probably one of the best examples I could draw from what I've read in recent years of it being really well-done. And the characterizations of every player in it was incredibly unique, too. I don't know if I've ever seen that many incredibly flawed, damaged and dangerous people gathered into one motley crew of a cast before.

To be honest, the first thing I did after I finished it was text my Dad, which just kind of seemed like the appropriate thing to do. Like, everyone's got to read Fight Club at some point? There are a couple of girls in my sorority, particularly my friend Taylor, who've been hounding me to read this guy's work basically since we found out we both like reading... isn't this some kind of social touchstone or something, regardless of age, gender, etc.?

The problem was, there were parts of it that were a little too gendered-out for me to fully appreciate the work as a whole. A part of those texts to my Dad, simply as a knee-jerk reaction to turning the last page of the paperback, was "This is why idiot suburban emo boys threaten to blow up their high schools." For the most part, it came off of as a big round of chest-beating, caveman chanting, which, yes, I get was a part of its satirical bent. Chances are, if something's being blown out of proportion, it's satire, but that didn't make it any less uncomfortable. I just couldn't take the testosterone... and you'd think that people who wanted anarchy so badly would have stopped making up so many damn rules.

It's definitely a novel of juxtapositions. There's all this despicable violence and grime and grit to it, so that you know you should turn away, but that's also what makes it so enthralling and un-put-down-able. Its violent take down of "special snowflake" ideology is brutally anti-individualistic, but almost every Tumblr kid I can think of has read, and loved, it, too. There's a fierce struggle in both the novel and its audience, brilliantly assimilated into the characterizations of its two male leads (*wink wink, nudge nudge*). So it's really no surprise that I'm so torn.

Final Verdict: At the very least, Fight Club should be required reading, because of its impeccable craftsmanship. Any additional ideas about its ideology you formulate yourself, you can go over with your therapist.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that I'd Like to See Turned Into a Movie / TV Show

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

From Lisa Genova's Still Alice to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, this year has been a veritable cornucopia of amazing books, turned into acclaimed movies (ignore the fact that those are both examples of books I love, but movies that I have still not managed to see). I was totally AMPED to see what today's "Top Ten Tuesday" topic was, because it gave me plenty of time to imagine what other works we might one day see headed to the big screen, if only in my dreams.

1. Throne of Glass, S.J. Maas - To tell you the truth, this is both the first book I thought of when approached with the topic, as well as the toughest one to adapt on this list. However, I hope I see it on a lot of other bloggers' lists as well... the world deserves this epic novel as a kick-ass, diverse, and enthralling fantasy blockbuster, if just so we can get more people to read it.

2 and 3. Sarah Strohmeyer's novels, Smart Girls Get What They Want and How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True - Trust me: these would make the perfect good-girl ABC Family original movie... I'm a connoisseur of that kind of bright, cheery chick flick that could lay waste to an afternoon. They'd be like Disney Channel Original Movies' smart-alecky older sisters.


4. The Eyre Affair series, Jasper Fforde - This series of novels was basically already made for the Dr. Who crowd, with a distinctly literary twist, which would make it the perfect quirky, nerdy, and incredibly British BBC comedy series.

5. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley - Yes, I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW it's already been made into movies galore... but that's one of the reasons it needs to be done again, just RIGHT this time, dammit! Frankenstein's monster isn't some schlocky horror villain or shlumping goon... he's a shadowed spectre, an eloquent and verbosely observational outsider, who deserves a moody, noir, gritty suspense thriller with a period-accurate sensibility, preferably directed by Andrea Arnold (2011's Wuthering Heights adaptation, the one with Kaya Scoledario).

6. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell - Thankfully, and with much hype, the rights to a movie adaptation of this novel are already in the works (Dreamworks bought them early last year), but that doesn't mean I don't want it now! But mostly, I want a time-period-accurate coming-of-age story, kind of like Perks of Being a Wallflower, but for the '80s. It's going to be so awesome, because Rowell's writing the screenplay.

7. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath - I know there was a version of this from the '70s or something, and the life of its author is something fairly ingrained in cultural consciousness by now, but this book has always been one of my favorites, because it made me feel like someone else knew what I was going through. I want something that would transcribe the mental state of depression and anxiety as effortlessly and completely to film, like it did in its novel format. Just like the novel and film Still Alice did for Alzheimer's disease!

8. The Nancy Drew series, Carolyn Keene - I watch the 2007 version frequently - it's one of the few purchases of movies I've ever made from iTunes - and I've seen every episode of the short-termed '70s telvesion show, but seriously? I want a do-over. A super retro, punchy-colored, meta-referencing Nancy Drew-palooza.

9. The Intern's Handbook, Shane Kuhn - I thought about how kick-ass a movie adaptation of this one would be, even as I was reading it... just imagine: a Kingsmen: the Secret Service-type stylized action spy blockbuster!

10. Most Important One: The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

My younger sister and I were talking about this about two weeks ago, about how, when someone had asked me if I was excited about the Mr. Holmes movie, I had hoped they were talking about Dr. H. H. Holmes. Dubbed "America's First Serial Killer," this one man's shadow extended across the grounds of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893, and is presumed to have taken the lives of over 200 people, in his murderous, maze-like hotel.

Apparently, Leo DiCaprio already owns the rights to this - which, admittedly, he'd probably do a good job with - but my sister and I already have our own ideas as to what this movie would have to include... namely, the poster being a lone footprint, burned with acid into a steel door (if y'all have read this book, you know what I mean). It would be a creepy, dark, manipulative thriller, where the real terror wouldn't be just from the atrocities committed, but how the outside world, with the bustle of the World's Far, would be rendered completely oblivious to it all.

What's Your Top Ten?