Recent Reads: The Book of Joe (Book #7 of 2013)


When I read my first Jonathan Tropper novel, This is Where I Leave You, I was in love. It was the first time in a long time that both a book and it’s author made an impression on me. I read plenty of enjoyable books, but it’s rare to find an author whose works I consistently enjoy (for the record, I also love John Green and Emily Giffin). There was a potential there for me, and, after reading The Book of Joe, my 3rd Tropper novel (I’m not reading in order of publication, just as a heads up), I can honestly say I am in love with Tropper’s writing.

The Book of Joe was just excellent. I found it hard to explain while reading it, so I’ll attempt a brief summary. Joe Goffman grew up in the town of Bush Falls, Connecticut. Before he turned 13, his mother killed herself by jumping off the cliff at the falls. From that moment on, he has felt supremely disconnected from his father and brother. A series of unfortunate and frustrating events occur during his senior year in high school which cause him to leave Bush Falls, estranging himself from his family and his past. He writes a book about his experiences (deeming it fiction, but everyone in Bush Falls knows better) that becomes a best seller and a hit movie. He quickly becomes a household name, but the people of his hometown are less than thrilled with it. Joe is fine with never returning to Bush Falls (as are the townspeople) again if given the chance, but his father suffers a stroke, and it leads him back home, where he isn’t exactly welcome.

I loved this book. I laughed, I cried. And that seems to be the going theme with Tropper’s novels. Of the three books I’ve read, there are a lot of similar themes…coming of age, self-discovery, death, family, love. I never feel like I’m reading the same book, though. And, while it may seem easy enough to gather what will happen and predict the events, Tropper always seems to keep you surprised and wanting more.

I highly recommend this novel. I highly recommend all three of the books I’ve read, and hopefully the other three I have yet to read.


The Weekend

A quick, crazy weekend. Pizza at Tommy’s with some boys. Work. A new iPhone 5! A MYO 6 pack filled with crazy yum beers. Cheesesteaks.
Crying while finishing my latest read. Coffee, bagels, omelets. The Oscars (the everlasting, forever-long Oscars).


Me with the iPhone 5! I got a white phone, I wanted that color when I originally got my 4. I didn’t need a reason to love the iPhone anymore than I already did, but this beautiful piece of technology did it for me.
A PBR in a frosty glass with my fried Sicilian pizza.
Burrito Deluxe from La Tolteca. So damn good.
My picks for the 6 pack.
Brad and I made a list of things we want to do to help make our lives better. A lot of health and money related goals.
Leopard print nails…I followed this tutorial from CutePolish, and it’s so easy and amazing.
A little bubbly for viewing the Oscars.
A Monday morning bagel, coffee, and Bon Iver. Took the day off (thank God, the Oscars were on until midnight).

I had a nice little weekend. I hope you did too! 


On the To-Do List

I’m currently on book 7 of my challenge…and according to Goodreads, I’m a book behind schedule. No surprise there, considering my little fallback. The plus side is, I have a bunch of books stocked up to read. At least I’m not having a hard time finding things to read. It’s finishing them that’s posing the problem! My to-read list is long, with varying subject matters. Here are 4 of the books I have for the future:


Feed by MT Anderson – Young Adult/Sci-Fi-esque
Your Voice in my Head by Emma Forrest – Memoir
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Romance
20 Something 20 Everything by Christine Hassler – Self-Help

Read any of these? Any good? Any suggestions for the future?


A slice of my life, via the iPhone.

Just some photos of little things in my life, taken with Instagram (@mikeylynn) and Afterglow.


Sleepy pup #1 (Cali).
Snowy trees on a winter morning.
My mom bought me this mirror, which showcases my favorite animal doing my favorite thing…perfect!
Lucky Brand yellow skinnies I bought for $10 and my Minnetonka mocs.
I go nuts for donuts.
Mix ginger beer with white wine, and you have yourself a “Cork Soaker”…according to Cork restaurant anyway.
Hannah: Hapless Hunter Green. Love this color, but the whole Deborah Lippmann GIRLS collection is awesome.
Sleepy pup #2 (Artie).
Several of my Amazon purchases…there are more coming too. I HAVE A PROBLEM. God, I love books.
I am obsessed with this mug I got from Dunkin’ Donuts.


Recent Reads: Beautiful Creatures (Book #6 of 2013)


Beautiful Creatures, which was co-written by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, is how I chose to hop back on the saddle after this little debacle.
It is book 6/52 and it took me over 10 days to read it. It’s not that it wasn’t good. I found myself a bit busier and more preoccupied. But I also found myself reading a book that is nearly 600 pages after my first real snag in the challenge. That’s a great way to pick back up, eh?

Beautiful Creatures caught my attention because a movie was just released based on the best-selling book. It is the first of a series of 4 books.
I had seen the trailer and commercials and was slightly amused, but after the “Oscar Wao incident” I think I needed something Young Adult, a little fantastical and possibly simple to read. Obviously, I didn’t think about the page count. The reason it’s so damn long is probably because every possible detail is written down, which is both great and exhausting at the same time.

The story is narrated by Ethan Wate, a 16 year old boy who’s mother recently passed away and who simply cannot wait to escape the small-minded small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. His father has become a shut-in since the passing of his mother (car accident) so he is mainly raised by a grandmotherly figure named Amma. When the book starts, Ethan tells us about a recurring dream he has been having in which he is trying the save a girl whose face he can never see. He’s overwhelmed by the reality of these dreams, but keeps them to himself so as to not come across as crazy. But then Lena Duchannes arrives in town, a relative of the shut-in Macon Ravenwood who lives on a manor everyone deems haunted, and everything changes. She is different than the Georgia Peach types that hold court over his high school. And more than they’ll ever know.If you’ve seen the trailer for the movie, then you know that Lena is a Caster, basically a witch, along with the rest of her family. This is all well and good, but she is not yet 16, so she has yet to gain control over her powers. And, the worst part, a curse has been placed on the women of the Duchannes family tree, in which they have no choice whether they will be claimed into the Light or Dark on their 16th birthday. What follows is a mystery to discover what will happen to Lena on her birthday and whether or not a relationship with the mortal Ethan will work out. And of course, tons of other stuff happens, because the book is forever long.

After I read the book, I was ready to see the movie (I went on Sunday) and was shocked at how completely different it was from the book. I know it’s hard to keep a 500+ page book completely intact when translating to the screen. I also know that some things just don’t translate the same. But there were SO MANY CHANGES. Unnecessary ones, too, in my opinion. If you’ve read the book and seen the movie (or are going to see the movie and have already read the book), you should check out this list of 14 things they changed.
In my opinion, it’s one thing to omit some unimportant details, but to change things? So weird.

Anyway, the book was entertaining. The day I finished reading them, the entire series (The Caster Chronicles, as they are known) was on sale on Kindle for 2.99 a piece. I obviously bought the remaining 3 and I do plan on reading them. But I’m going to take a breather for a while.

If you like the paranormal and a good teen romance, I would recommend this book. Considering how long it is, it obviously doesn’t skimp on the details. And there’s a lot more to learn, I suppose, as the books continue. It’s definitely not a favorite, but I don’t regret reading it.


A Sweet Weekend

I have been having a lovely long weekend over here. Today is the third and final day (Presidents’ Day), but it has been wonderful.
Thanks to tax refund season, I’m a bit financially stable at the moment. A BIT. I’m struggling to not want to spend money all the time, but I’m making up for lost time, treating Brad to lunch at Canteen 900, going to the movies with Dana, and buying my friend Catie a couple of tiny birthday presents. And, well, of course, treating myself. The most important thing to me, of course, is saving some and having a nice cushion for a while, so I don’t have to struggle as much paycheck to paycheck. There are still bills to be taken care of, absolutely. So I’m being smart, whilst also being a little goofy and buying books and DVDs I’ve been wanting for a while…


We kicked off Friday with a happy hour at Bar Louie in the casino. I had a couple of Blue Moons and a lot of laughs.
I got my first haircut since May on Saturday morning. I feel like a new woman! I just love shorter hair.
I treated Brad to lunch at the super delicious Canteen 900. I could eat there everyday, seriously. We both enjoyed salted caramel lattes.
Brad looked super handsome, as usual, on our anni-valentines-versary date on Saturday.
A toast to 3(ish) years. Cork Bar and Restaurant has great cocktails. He had The Bond and I had a Blushing Lady champagne cocktail.
A cutie stuffed dog as part of my gift.
Sunday fuel = Toasted Almond coffee and my everything bagel with cream cheese
WE DID IT AGAIN! This time we saw Beautiful Creatures. But we still had our Icees.

Seriously, it’s been an excellent and relaxing weekend. Our anniversary date was lovely. Amazing food at a restaurant I’ve never been to before now. Champagne cocktails. Cuddles all night. And, yes, some Netflix. That’s just how we do. I’m so happy to spend my days with Brad, with all the cool people in my life, and to just enjoy life as it comes. There are a lot of changes that need to be made, but I’m happy.
Why not?


Dinner Last Night: Valentine’s Edition


I had an excellent Valentine’s Day! Did you?
I decided to make London Broil for my family, a step up from the usual tacos and soups (like I mentioned yesterday) and we enjoyed it with wine, my green bean recipe, and a fresh tossed salad! Oh, and of course some red wine!
Brad came to join us and it’s always so excellent to have him around my parents and my sister. I love how well he fits in, and I loved that we all sat at the table (we have a tendency to park in front of the television with our meals and not really talk) enjoying food and company.

I am so blessed that I have a great family, a sister I can call my best friend, caring and funny parents…and I am so glad I have Brad and that he fits in with us and vice versa (I feel very comfortable around his family). I bought everyone a little present (some Orla Kiely note cards for mom, tea for sister, and my dad’s favorite gums and cinnamon candies) and treated everyone to a great meal. (Brad deserves the credit for the perfectly cooked meat…not sure if I could’ve done it on my own…I’ll have to do it next time!)

Are you ready for the weekend?
I so am. Last week was so long, this one definitely made up for it. It’s already Friday and I have a 3 day weekend thanks to President’s Day.
I plan on getting a haircut, enjoying an anniversary/Valentine’s dinner with Brad, and sleeping in as long as I can without wasting the day.

Have a great weekend, folks!


Happy Valentine’s Day!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday and I don’t believe it’s an important holiday either. Anything that makes people feel bad for being alone is silly…however, I think it should be reserved for all kinds of love. Besides, who doesn’t love pink and red and hearts and vintage cards and chocolates and sweet treats? I am beyond blessed and lucky that I have Brad in my life, but no matter what, I’d celebrate the love in my life (family/friends/etc.) , no matter what form it took.

Tonight, I am cooking a dinner for my family. I got my tax refund and, since I have a little extra cash, I plan on getting some steak and green beans and potatoes and salad and making a really big meal (with wine to drink, of course). I cook dinner every Thursday that I can, but I don’t want to just make tacos or pasta like usual. I am blessed with all the love in my life, and I appreciate it as much and as often as I can, but today especially I want to put forth that little extra effort.

I hope you enjoy your day, whether you are spending it with your partner, your parents, your best friend, your puppy, or your favorite movie and some wine. That’s what it’s all about.

Photo Source


An Ode to Lena Dunham


I first fell for Lena Dunham back in 2011. This isn’t me being like “I SAW HER FIRST” because it is nothing like that at all.
I heard about Lena Dunham through my nearly lifelong crush/idol Natalie Portman, who had commented on Lena’s film Tiny Furniture in a very positive way. My interests were piqued immediately. And as I read more and more Entertainment Weekly I began hearing more and more about this up and coming writer/director/address and the support and accolades she was receiving  from so many people, including one of my favorites (and eventually Exec Producer of Girls) Judd Apatow, I just kept searching for the movie (small town, small movie, no go), which didn’t come out until maybe the end of 2011/2012 on Netflix and eventually DVD.

But really, the moment I knew I loved her was when I read a certain tweet she had posted that still sticks with me and makes me laugh.


I admired the honesty and humor in this post. And, considering I’m a girl with a vagina, I could totally relate.
This was something out-of-the-norm for me to witness on the internet. Do my friends and I talk openly about things like this? We absolutely do. But to have someone out there reppin’ that aspect of female life was so admirable. I was excited for the things to come…and obviously it was worth the wait.

There’s been a lot of crap out there about Lena Dunham and about Girls. The nepotism (everyone is related to someone famous, blah blah), the awkward and frank sexuality and…GASP…Lena’s naked boobs on a regular basis.
None of that matters to me.

For one, having “famous” parents might get you started in life…but it won’t keep something going.
Critics and audiences alike adore the show for a variety of reasons. It’s humor, it’s honesty, how raw it is.
It (and she) deserved the Golden Globes it got…I was so happy!

I also happen to love every awkward bit of sex and relationship situations that happen on the show. THIS IS LIFE. It’s not candlelight hazy. Sex isn’t always this romantic and beautiful thing. And even if it feels like it, it certainly doesn’t look that way on the outside.
If I was watching the show and I wasn’t personally relating to it, I was able to remember a relevant story from one of my friends’ life.

And, briefly on the topic of Lena’s nudity…I don’t care at all about it. In fact, I admire her for it. I admire how comfortable she is with her body. I admire that she doesn’t feel the need to wear makeup all the time just because she’s on a High-Def camera. She is beautiful and real and beautifully real and that’s what the world needs: to stop comparing ourselves to glamour girls, as well as impossible relationship situations and perfect friendships.

What I’ve taken out of Girls is how selfish I can be, how we all can be, how entitled we often feel.
It’s made me reflect on life, on my flaws, and contemplate and appreciate them.

When I was in junior high, I was obsessed with Friends. I thought that, when I grew up, I was going to have an awesome apartment with my best friend and that I had this wonderful group of people to drink coffee with and share my life with.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that this is highly unrealistic.

I couldn’t be happier to have Lena Dunham in this world, making her mark.
She’s a year older than me and she is sharing the word about what it’s like to be unemployed, to try and maintain relationships in such a digital/social media heavy age, to be completely self-involved as people come and go out of our lives. Love, sex, friendship, the rest of our lives.She talks about things that I’m experiencing and I couldn’t be more thankful.


When a Challenge is Challenging

I decided to do my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge on a whim. It was the beginning of the year and a lot of people were tossing around challenges (one of my favorite bloggers is doing  365 photos, one for each day, of her home, some others are taking a photo a week of their children or loved ones) and I wanted to partake in a way that I thought would be fun for me. I already do my Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenges, so I went with one of my great loves, reading.

52 books might seem like a lot to some, a lot less to others. For me, it made sense. A book a week.
I knew there would be bigger books that would require more time. I also knew that, when I really enjoy a book, I can clear it fairly fast.
And I knew, though there are many books I want to read, it might be hard to figure out what to read next/obtain the books I want (thank God for the library!). But I kind of forgot about the part where I maybe don’t really like a book. Or I can’t get into it at all.

I am not the type to give up. There are books I’ve read and promptly forgotten because they were fluff or didn’t make much of an impression, like your favorite guilty pleasure TV shows or silly movies that make you smile for a while. But what happens when a book is actually difficult for you to read? When it’s just not jiving in your brain and all you can think about is reading a different book?

This just happened to me. I added The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to my list after my trip to Boston. Barry and Shani have a great selection of books on an excellently organized bookshelf…


…and I was told I could borrow a few things. The book stood out to me for two reasons. 1. I had heard good things about Junot Diaz’ s recent book, This is How You Lose Her and 2. It won a Pulitzer. Must be good then, right?

I shouldn’t say it wasn’t good. It just wasn’t for me. I tried. I really did. 
The story is unique, both in premise and in presentation, the way it hops back and forth in time. There’s also a sort of mystical, spiritual aspect thrown in. I just didn’t care about the characters. And, I feel silly saying this, but the mixture of Spanish in the book made it harder. I’m ashamed to say I only took very little EspaƱol with me when I left high school. So I had a hard time understanding with my language block.

So what to do? I didn’t want to give up. I hate doing that. I wanted to know what happened.
But then all these other books I have that seemed more appealing were calling me. And then I had to admit that maybe I should just stop.
I know that a challenge is supposed to be just that…a challenge. But actually, giving up means I have to make up for that break in time.
I’m trying.

Before, I was sure I’d complete this challenge. Now, I’m not. But it’s only one month in, there’s still plenty of time, and it’s good to remember that it can’t always be easy. You do it anyway, because you love it.

Check out my Goodreads account for progress updates and a full list of books I’ve read and want to read!


This Weekend


Last week was…bad. It just wasn’t my time. Work had me on edge, my Buick stalled on me again (I’m not going to be driving it for a while, methinks), I left my wallet in the office on Saturday night…it seemed like everything I hoped would happen meant that the opposite would occur. I gave up hoping. Which is stupid, but I haven’t had such a negative week in so long. I forgot what it’s like when pretty much everything that can go wrong will go wrong. And I kept waiting for the silver lining…it came, eventually. Brad made it home safe, the work week ended (with the prospect of a better one this time around, and a three day weekend come Friday evening), Valentine’s Day and my tax refund are mere days away! I’m looking forward to this week, and I’m going to keep my chin up because, despite how I felt last week, I made it!

Photos from the Weekend:
I came home Friday night to find this on the kitchen table. My mom made my week/life by giving me a little Amazon GC, which is one of the best gifts I could ever receive. Now I just need to figure out which books I want to buy with it!
Nemo was in town on Friday, and it hit right when I was coming home from work. My post-work duty is letting Artie out, and there aren’t many things cuter than his fluffy butt prancing around in the snow.
I don’t care, I love it. This song came on Sirius Saturday morning on the way to work and made me feel tons better.
Dana and I went to see Warm Bodies and we got our usual Blue Raspberry ICEEs.
Brad finally home on Saturday! Of course he had to play Dark Souls immediately while I read and relaxed with Cali. Brad is back from Vegas, but he got really sick while he was there. Sinuses, coughing, all the icky stuff. I’m playing nurse while he heals!
Cute Valentine’s cookies.

Here’s to a happy Monday and an excellent week in general!!

(Apologies for the blurry pics in the middle there)


The Exception


Okay, so I don’t have a lot of money. I scrimp and save so I can buy food and gas for my clunky car and pay my bills.
And yes, it is super important to save money and be smart. But I also believe that you should treat yourself…and for me, it comes in the form of nail polish. In the last three days alone, I’ve gotten these 6 nail polishes. And I love every single one.
And OPI has a new collection that just hit the stores on Wednesday.
So I’ll be getting more. When I have money again, whenever that is.


These polishes have been on my lust list for a while now. China Glaze’s It’s a Trap-eze is from the recent Cirque du Soleil collection and it’s pretty much the only polish you can’t find from it. I ended up finding it on Amazon and spent less money on the polish and shipping than I would’ve if I had found it in stores (about 5 bucks as opposed to $6-8). I’m wearing it right now and it’s just wonderful.
I also fell for the awesome blue of Essie’s Butler Please within the last week, found it at Rite Aid (they have an awesome selection and they almost always have all the good colors in stock), and bought it immediately.

And then there’s the Deborah Lippmann GIRLS collection that I just spoke about the other day…


When I wrote this post, I went ahead and ordered this collection. As a massive fan of both GIRLS and nail polish, it would’ve been seriously silly not to! The colors are gorgeous and classic. And the packaging…seriously, stop, you’re amazing.
So, I know I have to keep it together and be smart, but these things make me smile.
It’s been a rough week, and it’s the small things like my growing nail polish collection that has helped me get through.

Well…that and Pinot Grigio.

Happy weekend, folks!




I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been enjoying in the last week or so, in every possible category I could think of.
This might become a regular thing.

Bagels with a whole lot of cream cheese.
The Naked Grape’s Pinot Grigio…especially if I want to get nappy.
Entertainment Weekly’s article on Lena Dunham. I would’ve been completely content if the whole issue had been about her.
The latest episode of Girls, “It’s a Shame About Ray”, was the best episode of the season so far.
Local Natives’ new album, Hummingbird. Dreamy and lovely and perfect.
Deborah Lippmann’s nail polish collection designed for Girls (I swear I didn’t plan on this being Girls-centric. It just happened).


Photos from the Weekend


This picture was taken last Sunday, but we drank this coffee on Saturday. It was my first time drinking an entire cup of black coffee…not sure if that will become a regular occurrence, but it was worth a shot. They use this coffee to make Troegs Java Head.
A cloudy morning drive.
Shiraz for the man, Chardonnay for the lady.
Sunday morning breakfast of hazelnut coffee and an everything bagel with cream cheese.
Finally went ahead to spray and protect my lovely Minnetonka moccasins, a Christmas present from my parents.
My sister’s amazing chicken wing dip for the Super Bowl.

How was your weekend? Mine was so strange. Just in general, weird and unlike the usual weekends I have. Maybe it’s because it was the first time in weeks that I’ve actually had nothing planned. Friday started weird, with my car stalling on my way to work. I was obviously late. Then we were super-swamped with people. I was planning on getting some blood work done on Saturday (and have to fast from food and water for 12 hours) but decided against it so I could enjoy a little date night with Brad. Well, we went to a nice little restaurant not far from Brad’s house and each enjoyed some pasta and a glass of wine. I was automatically stuffed and tired. So I fell asleep at 10:30 PM.
We know how to party on a Friday night.

Now he’s away for the week, and even though I don’t see him 3 of those days anyways, I’m still a bit bummed.
I am hoping to tidy up my room. I already did some laundry. But, let’s be honest…I’m lazy.

Here’s to a great week!


January Photo a Day Challenge Completed!

Another Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day challenge is done! Which means another month has come and gone.
Today it’s Friday and it’s February.
Month #2 of the 2013.

Here’s the photos!



1. Today, I went through photos, read, blogged, and made a list of things I want to do.
2. A cute mug from Target and a polish from the Modern Family Nicole by OPI collection were my something new that day.
3. A cute heart necklace I’ve had for years.
4. The view from here was Brad drinking beer from a huge tube. He asked for the largest beer he could get…and he got it.
5. Lots of movement on stage at The Push show.
6. My pink patent leather Docs are one of the best things that have ever been mine.
7. A blurry photo down the street.
8. Something beginning with a T, we still had the tree up at this point.
9. A cute Sprout bookmark keeping my place in my paper book.
10. Usually still awake at one o’ clock am.
11. Water from the shower.
12. There’s always fun surprises in the Canteen 900 building.
13. A not-so-perfect circle of Clementine pieces.
14. This Watch Children sign is Something Yellow.
15. An ordinary moment at work.
16. My favorite combo at the Chinese place, Chicken/String Beans and Pork Fried Rice, two things that taste so good.
17. Ready to get better, back when I was sick.
18. Pretty tree shadows.
19. A delicious and filling burger in Boston.
20. The fun, kitschy interior of The Friendly Toast was something I saw in Boston.
21. Watch TV shows, cuddle in PJs, read and surf the net are things I do.
22. No corner on this big yellow fan.
23. Everything electric in one place.
24. Stripes on my weekly mani.
25. A snowy landscape on my drive home from work.
26. Brad, Cali, and I cuddling together on a Friday night.
27. The sun shining over Troegs Brewing Company.
28. Dashing through the snow on the way to work Monday morning.
29. My pile of books and my 2013 challenge list continues to grow.
30. Looking down at the reflection of trees in a rippling puddle.

And finally…myself, not wanting to leave my bed!


It’s Friday! Laying in bed is something I plan on doing the next couple of days. I have a whole weekend to rest and relax. Brad is heading to Las Vegas for the week very early Sunday morning until next Saturday, the 9th, so I’ll be spending a good 24 hours with him before he leaves.

Have fun with whatever you do!

Happy weekend everyone!!