Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book Review - "And the Good News Is..." by Dana Perino (#40 - 2015)

And the Good News Is... by Dana Perino

Dana Perino is a Fox News contributor and was White House Press Secretary in George W. Bush's administration.  As you all know, I love reading memoirs/autobiographies/biographies and this one was a good, quick read.  We are about the same age so that was an added bonus for me.  She talks about her childhood in Wyoming and Colorado and her unlikely journey towards working in the White House.  What I really liked was her honesty, her straightforward talk and she gives some pretty solid career advice.  Overall, I'd recommend this one!  Here's one of my favorite takeaways from the book:

*note:  I'm so not on track to get my goal of 50 books read this year, the move threw me off.  I'm probably only going to get to 42 or 43.  Oh well...

Monday, November 2, 2015

What I Bought - August, September, October 2015

With the chaos of the move, I've not been doing my usual "What I Bought" posts for the past three months.  It really hasn't been necessary either, because I haven't bought one thing for myself.  Nada.
Endless Plume wall art (it looks like a pretty zero)

We've had so much to do with the house and not just small stuff, but big, expensive stuff.  So as much as my inner child wants to buy, buy, buy, it's just not going to happen. Priorities.  Being an adult is a bummer sometimes.  What do you want for your birthday and Christmas Jenny?  A new roof!  Sigh.  The good news about all of this moving stuff is that I have decluttered like a fiend.  I mean it got hardcore.  I have shredded and thrown away bags and bags papers that are no longer needed. I donated about a third of our kitchen items and half of our books.  I figured if we had forgotten about it/haven't needed it in the 4 years it was in storage, then it really wasn't necessary so off it went.  A little more on this process in a book review later. For the first time in my life there are lots of empty drawers and empty spaces. I don't feel the need to fill those spaces with "stuff".  Now we do need a few things for the house (heart set on this console, these nightstands, this coffee table, side tables and we need a few bookcases) but there's no hurry, no sense of urgency. You can keep track of my ongoing wish list for the house on this Pinterest board. Never fear, I had to buy a few things yesterday so I will have a post for November ;)  Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review - "The Underwriting" by Michelle Miller (#39 - 2015)

The Underwriting by Michelle Miller

Strange book, not in a bad way, more in a does-this-stuff-really-happen? way.  It's about a group of bankers who have been recruited to do a 14 billion dollar IPO for a hugely popular app. It's a dating app (much like Tinder) that has over 500 million users.  The characters involved are interesting (to say the least and also I'm being nice) and the stakes are high for each of them that this IPO needs to be successful.  A murder happens and the aftermath may just destroy them all.  The book is being touted as a thrilling/humorous satire.  Satire? Yes.  Humorous/thrilling?  Nope.  And then it ends in sort of a cliffhanger/set up for the next part coming in 2016 (eye roll).  Bottom line, is it worth reading? Sure, it's a solid story and I read the whole thing in a day, but be aware there will be a sequel and the author is a bit heavy handed in her point of view (which was a bit of a turn off for me).

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review - "Porch Lights" by Dorothea Benton Frank (#38 - 2015)

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank

I always enjoy a Dorothea Benton Frank novel. She's the best at capturing the spirit of the SC lowcountry.  This story focuses on Jackie, a returning vet and nurse, whose husband (a NYC firefighter) who was killed while on the job.  She and her young son head down to her Mom's house on Sullivan's Island to get away and regroup.  Her still-married-but-living-separately parents are a hoot, the handsome doctor next door and his dogs help her son out mentally, the cast of characters is strong.  Is the story predictable?  Sure.  Is it a fun, easy read?  You betcha!  So for mindless, beachy, fluffy reading, pick this one up!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book Review - "The Art of Crash Landing" by Melissa DeCarlo (#37 - 2015)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. I only accept copies of books for review that look like something I would normally buy or check out at library.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo

Oh man, I really enjoyed this book, a great end-of-Summer read!  It's the story of Mattie, thirty years old, broke, nowhere to go and pregnant.  She's afraid she's turning into her mother, a broken, alcoholic who always seemed to make the worst choices.  When Mattie turns up at her former Stepfather's trailer, she finds out that her Maternal Grandmother has passed away and the lawyers have been trying to get in touch with her since she's the only living relative.  Thinking there's an inheritance to be had she hops in her ancient car and drives from Florida to a tiny town in Oklahoma.  Once she arrives, that's when things get interesting.  Told over the span of a week (except at the end when there's a bit of a fast forward), the mystery of her Mother's never talked about past unravels and Mattie learns more about her family and herself in the process.  There are some fantastic characters along the way and you will have a love/hate relationship with Mattie (she's delightfully frustrating at times).  The story is funny, heartbreaking and just well told.  A satisfying first novel from Ms. DeCarlo, I'm looking forward to more from her.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review - "Going Off Script" by Giuliana Rancic (#36 - 2015)

Picked this one up on a whim secondhand on Amazon (I love stalking secondhand books there).  This was a big bowl of okay.  It was great learning more about her background and how she got to where she is, but she tried to be funny/witty and just came off as spoiled and out of touch.  I couldn't really yuk it up with her as she was "complaining" about her baby nurse doing too much (seriously? Shut up!).  I like Giuliana, but after reading this, I kind of liked her less.  I'm not sure what her intention was with this book, but I think it was misguided.  Bottom line, if you like Giuliana and/or want to know more about her background go ahead and pick this one up.  If you are just wanting to read a good memoir (by anyone), then skip this one.

Also by Giuliana Rancic: "I Do, Now What?" Review

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review - "The Book of Joan" by Melissa Rivers (#35 - 2015)

I (luckily) stumbled upon a copy of this at my local secondhand bookstore.  It was on my "to read" list so I snapped it up.  I'm glad I did, I read it in a day.  It's a collection of essays covering different topics and times in their lives.  So many good Joan stories and insights from her daughter Melissa.  Sometimes Melissa tries to be "Joan" with jokes and shtick, which got a bit annoying, but I'll forgive her.  Overall it's a fabulous read for any Joan fan and a touching tribute to her mother.  And I've said it before, I miss Joan every single day.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

What I Bought - July 2015

So late on this post, but I have a good excuse, we are moving!  Moving back to our house we left almost 6 years ago (so much for that "temporary" move).  So this month is going to kick my butt, I'll try and share as much of the move and house stuff here and on Instagram (@spryonthewall) as possible.  Stay tuned!  As for last month's purchases, I did take advantage of Nordstrom's yearly sale (with mixed results).  Here's what I dragged home only to pack up ;)
4. Birkenstock Metallic Madrid sandals - $29.99 (I got a green color that is no longer available)
5. Open Front Cashmere Cardigan - $99.90 (yearly sale item - now $158)
6. Gap Skinny Crop Cargo pants - $11 (on mega sale in store)
7. Zella "Live In" leggings - $33.90 (yearly sale item - now $52)
8. Yummie by Heather Thompson shaping briefs - $12.90 (yearly sale item - now $18)

Total = $241.69
- $99.90 (returned cardigan*)
Total Out of Pocket = $141.79

*Okay, the cardigan was a total bust for my body type, I'm carrying some extra pounds and it just made me look really round.  I wish it had looked better because it's darn near perfect (not too heavy, good quality fabric).  Also note, the Marc Jacobs nail polish took 3 coats to properly build a streak-free color. however it did wear well.  The Yummie briefs are a bust, the top rolls down and bunches up - oh well.

Go forth and shop responsibly!
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review - "Leave Your Mark" by Aliza Licht (#34 - 2015)

I've heard great things about this book, so I decided to pick it up.  First of all, let me say that I wished I had had a book like this when I was first starting my career, it would have been so helpful.  Now that I'm in my 40's, most of this stuff I had to learn the (sometimes) hard way.  So if you are in college or just starting out in your career, then pick this up ASAP!  She does a great job of helping to navigate some of the situations and people you will likely encounter in your 9-to-5.  I did want her to dig a little deeper into networking and resumes, but I think that's just me.  She did a great job of covering how you need to think and really be selective about what you share on social media (and how you share it), always remembering that the Internet is forever and anyone can see it.  Overall she did a great job of touching on subjects that will certainly help anyone out as they get their footing in the working world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review - "Diary of a Mad Diva" by Joan Rivers (#33 - 2015)

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers

Joan. Joan. Joan. I swear I miss you every single day.  I miss your biting wit, I miss your honesty, I miss that you never apologized for your comedy.  That being said, this was my least favorite of her books, but still had lots of lol's.  As the title indicates, it's written in diary form with entries for almost every day of the year.  And if you take any of what she writes seriously then you need to lighten up, it's all for laughs.  And Joan always delivers the laughs.  As for her other books, I highly recommend Enter Talking and Still Talking, not for the laughs, but for her very honest, very thoughtful memoirs illustrating just how strong and yes, brave she was.  I love her and I hate she left us so suddenly.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review - "The Master of Us All: Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World" by Mary Blume (#32 - 2015)

Cristobal Balenciaga was very mysterious, very private, and not many people knew him well.  In fact most customers (even the famous ones) never even met him.  But his impact on fashion is far reaching and profound.  He was arguably the best Couturier to ever live, his precision and attention to detail second to none.  The title of the book "The Master of Us All" was how Christian Dior referred to Balenciaga.  Ms. Blume did her research and spoke with people who knew and worked with him.  One woman, in particular shed a lot of light on the man and his work, his top vendeuse, and the first person he hired when he opened his Paris house, Florette Chelot.  She worked for him for over thirty years until he abruptly closed the house in 1968.

Balenciaga passed away in 1972 thinking his name would go with him.  However his heirs continued using the name and selling it, eventually being bought by Kering (formerly PPR).  Alexander Wang is the current head designer, and by diving into the archives and doing his research, has stuck very close to the aesthetic of Cristobal Balenciaga's heyday (in my opinion).  Which I love. So if you want to know more about Balenciaga or are just interested in fashion history, then pick this book up.  It's 100% worth it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review - "The Death of Captain America" by Ed Brubaker (#31 - 2015)

The Death of Captain America by Ed Brubaker, etc.

This is a huge book (sequel to this and this), lots of stuff happening with the death of Steve Rogers and the aftermath, including who eventually takes on the roll of Captain America (I'm not going to give any spoilers away).  I loved this so much, lots of action, lots of side stories.  If you are a Cap fan then you must pick this up. Look, comic books aren't for everyone, but this series (as well as Planet Hulk which was outstanding) are worth a read. Give them a try!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Kids Consignment Sale Tips

Only part of my first purge for consignment almost 2 years ago.

If you have kids then I'm sure you've probably heard of these really big consignment sales that happen a couple of times a year for kids clothes, toys, gear and maternity items? Most areas have them, usually in the early Spring and Fall (check online or in the paper for locations). The sales are usually held by local churches or even independent organizations. If you’ve never been to one and want to know more or even if you have been to one but found it so overwhelming (that's what happened to me my first time) that you just didn’t know what to do, never fear. I’m here to give you some tips and insight into what I’ve learned by going to and consigning in these sales. I’ll start first with how to shop them:

Part of this past Fall's purge to go to consignment.

First of all you will need to have a game plan. For me this means taking stock of what my girl has and what she needs for the coming season. I usually pull all the clothes out of her closet/drawers for the coming season and start to make a list of what we have that will work. Then that leads to a list of what we will need. Be really aware of what the needs are and will be. For example, I know my girl hates wearing jeans and other woven pants, I mean HATES. As much as I would love her to wear them, it’s worthless for me to even buy them because she flat out refuses to put and keep them on. So I know that I need to find knit leggings and other knit bottoms that can be paired with comfy knit tunics and tops.

Okay, you have your list and are ready to head inside to start shopping. I usually hit the clothes first, then the shoes, then the toys and lastly the décor/gear. I find that I can get the most bang for my buck with the clothes and shoes than the toys or décor/gear. Go to the racks and start going through the clothes (these are usually grouped by size and gender). What I found the most helpful is to act like a fashion editor and just start pulling any clothes from the racks that you like and catch your eye – don’t dwell too much, just start pulling. This will usually mean you have a large stack of clothes in your hands by the time you finish in your size range, but that’s a good thing. Take your stack off to the side (these places usually have some sort of place where you can sit down on the floor, etc) and then the real editing can begin. Go through what you’ve pulled, be objective and ruthless. Make sure there are no stains, pulls or rips. A big issue I’ve had is buying an outfit (as a set), getting home and the top and bottom are two different sizes – so check all items in a set for correct sizing! Start assembling outfits from separates so you know you’ve got outfits and not just a bunch of random pieces. Once you have your outfits you can then fill in with any tops or bottoms that can work with the other tops and bottoms you already have at home or have found at the sale.

Now if you want to consign (which means making some moola to help cover your purchases), most of these sales have their rules and guidelines for what you can and can’t consign so make sure you read those really carefully! It’s generally a good idea to consign and/or volunteer to help set up/tear down the sale because you can usually go to some sort of pre-sale before the sale is open to the public (some do and some don't offer that option so again, read all the fine print). If that is an option, I highly recommend doing that if you have the time, because you have access to all the great stuff before the general public does. You also may have the opportunity to meet and chat with the mom of one of the guys in Lady Antebellum (which happened to me last Spring – she could not have been nicer) or other interesting people you may not usually meet. I try to consign stuff with every sale because I can declutter and make a little extra cash at the same time. Usually I either make more than I spend at the sale or break even, so that’s a good thing! Each sale has a different percentage you can earn with consigning so make sure you read that information too. I personally like to consign with my local church’s sale because I like that their percentage goes to their mission/outreach programs and I just really like the way they handle the sale.

So that's my quick kids consigning guidelines.  So have any of you consigned/shopped these sort of sales?  If so feel free to share any additional tips.  And please let me know if you have any further questions.  Happy hunting!

What I Bought - June 2015

I'm a little late with this post, but we were at the beach last week (lovely), now back to reality!

1. Kate Spade Cobble Hill Devin - $278 (I have this smaller version in orange that I adore, so I wanted to get a larger, neutral version. Currently the most functional bag I own!)
2. Kate Spade Daycation cosmetic bag - $59 (I have a 10+ year old version of this that is on it's last leg, it's so functional)
3. It's a 10 leave-in product - $11.95 - my never ending quest to find frizz fighting products that work, it's decent, but pricey.
4. Skechers Two Step slip-on sneaker - $25 (on clearance at Marshalls) These are for work and only to be worn in the manufacturing facility, they might be a little ugly, but they are super comfortable!
5. Chaus khaki pants (not shown) - $30 at Marshalls - again, for work only as part of my "uniform".  Exact but in green here

Total = $403.95
- $332.05 Kate Spade gift card
Total Out of Pocket = $71.90

Side note - this bag is on mega sale and it's taken all my strength to not buy.  But good grief I've got a lot of bags, but it's so pretty, but I don't need anymore bags, but I love it.  My internal battle continues ;)

Go forth and shop responsibly!
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review - "Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible" by Tim Gunn (#30 - 2015)

I love reading anything about the history of fashion/apparel/textiles, so this was right up my alley.  Tim covers various articles of clothing and footwear with their history and how these items evolved to where they are today.  I knew some of the history (especially denim) but some other things were fascinating (like the suit).  Now, as much as I love Tim, it does get a little boring in places because this is a sort of history book.  But if you ever wanted to know the reason we wear what we wear, or how some articles of clothing came to be, then I recommend this book for sure.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review - "The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard" by Kiera Cass (#29 - 2015)

After finishing all three books in The Selection series, I checked this out of the library, mostly out of curiosity.  The first part is from Prince Maxon's perspective starting one week before the Selection begins and ending on the first day of the competition.  And the second part is from Aspen's perspective as a guard inside the palace walls.  Needless to say, it was a super quick read and a nice supplement to the series.  I think, technically, it's supposed to be read before The One, but I read it after and it was fine.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review - "The One" by Kiera Cass (#28 - 2015)

The One by Kiera Cass

Book #3 in The Selection series (reviews for book 1 here and book 2 here).  This is the book that winds up the selection and America's time in it.  Who is Prince Maxon going to choose?  I think you can guess, but it's not an easy journey.  A lot of things happen along the way, some big secrets are revealed.  I'm going to be honest, America was working my nerves in this book (I wanted to shake her during some parts, but I think that's more my age than a story flaw - any thoughts if  you have read it would be welcome).  Needless to say it's a quick read with a somewhat satisfying ending.  I'm currently reading The Prince & The Guard, which are two novellas that tell Maxon and Aspen's stories.  As you can tell, I'm all about this little series at the moment (it's taking my mind of pressing issues that are swirling around me at the moment).  That being said, I'm holding off of the next evolution in the series The Heir (*spoiler alert* which tells the story of Maxon and America's daughter and her selection process) because it just came out and apparently it's book 1 of 2.  I'll wait until book 2 comes out and then I can get a full story.  Overall, I would recommend this series for light reading (perfect between heavier reads).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Review - "Family Pictures" by Jane Green (#27 - 2015)

Family Pictures by Jane Green

This may be one of my favorite Jane Green books I've read.  Sylvie and Maggie are two women in their 40's living on opposite coasts.  Both have husbands that travel too much, the kids are about to leave the nest and both are feeling that "next-phase-of-life" insecurity.  Sylvie's daughter Eve travels to NYC to visit colleges, meets Maggie's daughter, they become fast friends and that's when the similarities of their lives start a chain of events that change everything.  This is a page turner. Sure it's a bit predictable at times, and the ending is a bit too perfect, but it's still a great Summer read!

Monday, June 1, 2015

What I Bought - May 2015

1. Kate Spade draped cotton tee - $49 (from surprise sale, not available online anymore)
2. Kate Spade Highland Place medium Maria - $159 (from surprise sale, this size no longer online, but smaller size available here)
3. Zumba Crop It Capri pants - $31.50 - I'm glad I only paid less than $7 out of pocket for these, they are extremely uncomfortable, the seam on the side rubbed the back of my knee almost raw. Boo!
5.  Under Armour Hulk tee - $34.99

Total = $378.48
- $286 Kate Spade gift card from my winnings
- $25 Zumba gift card from FabFitFun box
- $30 Under Armour gift card from outlet purchase
Total Out of Pocket = $37.48

Go forth and shop responsibly!
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review - "The Elite" by Kiera Cass (#26 - 2015)

The Elite by Kiera Cass

This is book #2 in The Selection series (see my review for book 1 here).  This picks up where the last book left off, America is one of the six remaining ladies in "competition" for Prince Maxon's hand in marriage.  In this book you learn more about palace life and how things may not be as wonderful as they may seem.  It's a darker book, you start to see how the country is run, the dynamic of the King, Queen and Prince Maxon as well as a bit of the history of how the royal family came into power.  Also, America is still trying to figure out the Maxon or Aspen question/love triangle (I'm not as into this part). Yes, this is a fluffy read, but I like how the story is getting deeper and am very interested in how this all may play out.  I'm totally into this series, I've got book 3 on hold at the library.  Can't wait to dig in and report back...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review - "The Selection" by Kiera Cass (#25 - 2015)

The Selection by Kiera Cass

I can't for the life of me remember where I saw this book recommended online (a blog or Instagram perhaps? I wish I could remember so I could give a shout out).  I decided to pick up the book at the library and I'm glad I did.  It's a Young Adult  Teen book (don't look at me like that) so it's a super easy read.  Obviously, I'm not their target demo, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Set in the future in a country that was once the United States, where there is a monarchy and a strict caste system.  When the Prince comes of age to marry, there is a nationwide lottery/selection for all girls of eligible age that will live at the palace and "compete" for the chance to be his Princess.  The story centers around a girl named America from one of the lower castes, who under pressure from her mother, enters the selection.  Of course she's one of the 32 girls chosen (duh) and the book chronicles the narrowing down of girls to 6 (of which America is one, duh).  I didn't realize it's a series, so now I'm hooked and have to read the next 3 books.  It's like The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. This should not appeal to me, but at this time of year, I need mindless entertainment.  I need books that I can pick up and put down, are entertaining and don't take forever to read.  This series will fit the bill for me this Summer.  In fact I'm getting ready to head out to the library to pick up book 2!  It's like I'm 41 going on 14 and I love it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review - "The Death Class: A True Story About Life" by Erika Hayasaki (#24 - 2015)

Norma Bowe is a former nurse who teaches a course on death at a college in New Jersey.  This class is so popular that it has a three year waiting list.  What about this class and this professor draws so much interest?  The author followed Norma around for four years, taking the class, talking to students, etc.  It's a fascinating book.  This book really isn't about the class itself so much as about the stories of Norma and a few students, how the class brings them together and helps them face their issues.  The stories are tough to read, hard to imagine and inspiring in how some people rise above their backgrounds to try and really make a difference in the lives of others.  It's really about choosing to really live a fulfilling and meaningful life.  It's a quick read, a good read and I recommend it!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review - "I'll Drink to That" by Betty Halbreich (#23 - 2015)

I'll Drink to That by Betty Halbreich

Eighty-Six year old Betty Halbreich has been running Bergdorf Goodman's personal shopping services department for over 40 years.  This book is a collection of stories from her life.  First of all I should say that I'm extremely envious of her job, sounds like my dream, and her stories about her work there were interesting.  The TV and movie costume people and her involvement was the most fascinating.  But (there's always a "but"), I really did not like this book.  I found it repetitive and I found her "aw shucks" lack of self awareness as to her extremely privileged background, and how it got her where she is, grating.  She tries to be down to earth, but when you are raised with/marry into that much money, you just aren't (such as the declaration that she's never had a resume!).  Sure she works hard, but she's basically looking after people who are like she was before she divorced and started working.  That being said, I always find people's stories interesting and this wasn't a complete waste of time.  I would recommend it to anyone interested in retail or fashion history.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review - "The Everyday Supermodel" by Molly Sims (#22 - 2015)

Molly is refreshingly open, honest and specific with her tips and tricks to help you look, eat, work-out, and feel better.  She's included recipes, lists, step-by-step instructions, etc.  Seriously, everything from eating, wardrobe refreshing, makeup tips, pep talks, reviews of what beauty treatments she's used and liked, this book is chock full of information.  I appreciated her straight talk and her honesty about how much it takes to look like she does (of course it's her job so who can blame her).  It's like having a best friend who is in the "know" and then shares it all with you.  I was impressed, motivated and I will be referring to it a lot.  I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review - "The Cheap Chica's Guide to Style" by Lilliana Vazquez (#21 - 2015)

One of the most comprehensive, informative style books out there.  This is not a picture heavy book, it's more about the information.  Not that all the information was brand new or groundbreaking, but it was assembled and put together in a very user friendly way.  So much so I bought a copy (after reading the one I checked out at the library).  Great budget friendly information with tips and tricks to make your money go further.  Sometimes she seems a bit out of touch (like preaching the "cheap" thing and then mentioning her multiple Celine bags and Louboutin shoes) but I'll forgive her, I get what she's saying - quality over quantity - however purchasing multiple high-end bags and shoes are just not a reality for us regular folk.  Trust me, I'm over 40 and have been down the designer/high end bag and shoe road in my 20's-early 30's, it's fun and great and all but (with the exception of two bags and two pairs of shoes) I would not buy that stuff again, I would invest or put the money aside. And she does preach that.  Overall, this is a solid addition to any style guide collection.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

What I Bought - April 2015

1. Old Navy The Boyfriend cuffed denim shorts - $17.46 (w/promo code)
2. Old Navy cinched-cuff linen blend pants - $12.25 (w/promo code) - these are great!
3. Old Navy striped linen-blend tunic - $17.46 (w/promo code)

Total = $47.17

Go forth and shop responsibly!
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book Review - "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins (#20 - 2015)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I was in line at the library for a while for this one.  First of all the comparisons to Gone Girl are a bit exaggerated, in my opinion.  The story revolves around Rachel, a woman who is divorced, struggling with alcoholism who, while riding to and from work every day on the train, has to pass her old home where her ex-husband and his new wife and baby girl now live.  Adding to that, a few houses down are a couple who Rachel sees a lot from the train (it stops in back of the house every day for a signal, how convenient).  Rachel has been "creating" a sort of story in her head about them. Anyway, one day the woman goes missing and Rachel, who thinks she has seen something, is pulled into the ensuing chaos surrounding her disappearance.  The premise of the story is good, it's interesting, the execution was clunky.  Rachel's endless blackouts were tedious and the ex-husband and his wife were so flat for me, that it ruined the whole premise of this book.  Everybody seems to just gush about this book so I guess I'm in the minority because I couldn't wait for the darn thing to end.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Review - "Harper's Bazaar Great Style" by Jenny Levin (#19 - 2015)

I picked this up at the library out of curiosity (I'm on a style book kick right now).  This one was published in 2007, so it's a bit dated.  It's a decent book, but it's not one of the better ones out there.  Breaks down the basics, what your core wardrobe pieces should be.  Overall, I would skip this one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review - "I Don't Know What You Know Me From" by Judy Greer (#18 - 2015)

You've seen Judy Greer in a lot of things, trust me, you have.  She's an extremely prolific actress who, in my opinion, has the best of both worlds.  She gets consistent work, yet remains under the radar, so she's not recognized like crazy in public.  I've been a fan of hers for a while, so I was eager to read the book.  I loved it, it's a bunch of essays about her life.  Growing up, going to college, Hollywood and relationships.  The chapter about her only Oscars experience was so great, it was so real and she was so honest about how awful it was (her dress fell apart, she couldn't find anyone she knew, etc), you just wanted to give her a hug.  It's also really refreshing to hear someone in Hollywood talk about how hard it is to juggle everything, she's not wealthy so she doesn't have a full time assistant, etc.  She's a girl who makes a good living as an actress, yet doesn't have this team of people running her house, etc behind the scenes.  She's way more like "us" than those ladies you see on the covers of all the magazines.  After reading it you really do want her to be your best friend.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Review - "365 Style" by Nicky Hilton (#17 - 2015)

365 Style by Nicky Hilton

So I was watching the episode of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" when Kyle's niece, Nicky Hilton, had a book signing at Kyle's store.  I was all "OMG, I need to see if the library has this book so I can see what it's like!" So I did. And they did. And I read it.  And I was pleasantly surprised.  I was expecting a lot of eye rolls and advice that doesn't even apply to me (there was some of that) but mostly it was a decent style book.  The premise is her "formula" for creating a wardrobe that will work for you.  Basically, every season, think of 3 occasions that you regularly dress for, then choose 6 staple items of clothing and 5 essential accessories that work for your occasions.  These will be the core of your wardrobe for each season and then you can build from there.  It makes sense, though it gets a bit confusing at times.  Her underlying theme was to figure out what works for you and what you feel comfortable in, your signature style.  My only real complaint about the book was that there were not enough pictures, and the pictures that were in the book were small and not really great quality.  Would like to have seen a better balance of words and images.  Overall, it's a solid style book, not one of my favorites, but certainly not a bad one.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review - "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon (#16 - 2015)

Super fast read because it's a lot of graphics/illustrations and less than 200 pages long.  Mr. Kleon's message is basically that creativity is for everyone and can be found everywhere.  He gives some good advice to tap into your creativity (basically just do it, just start creating, don't worry about it being good or bad).  All of the advice given is solid and inspiring.  Is it groundbreaking?  No.  Is it worth your time (especially if you are in a creative rut/drought)?  Absolutely.  Anything that can help jump start your creativity is worth trying.  So if you are looking to tap into your creative side, pick this up! 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review - "Landline" by Rainbow Rowell (#15 - 2015)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

You know I love a Rainbow Rowell book, so I was super excited when I finally got this book at the library (I was on the list for a while).  The story is about Georgie McCool who is a successful sitcom writer, whose marriage seems to be in trouble.  She works all the time and has a huge opportunity with her writing partner Seth (whom she's known and worked with since college) to create their very own network show. But they have to do this in a short amount of time, over Christmas vacation, which means she'll have to bail on the trip to Omaha to visit her husband Neal's family.  Neal is upset and they part ways on uncertain terms.  Georgie can't bear to go home to an empty house, so she decides to stay at her mom's crazy house.  Since her cell phone's battery is about shot, she has to use her old, yellow, rotary phone in her childhood room.  And that's where she finds she can communicate with the Neal of the past.  Yes, it's weird.  No, it doesn't make a lot of sense and you sort of feel like you are in the middle of Georgie's nervous breakdown.  Of all of her books, this was my least favorite and that's mostly because I didn't like one of the characters.  I mean Georgie seems to be brilliant but she can't figure out how to just take care of little things and that frustrated me to no end.  The issues with the cell phones being constantly dead. Really?  Just go and buy a new damn phone!  I never really understood what the issues were (other than Georgie's working long hours), but this is something that people deal with all the time.  The story just fell flat with me.  I would pick up Eleanor & Park or Fangirl before this one.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review - "Captain America Vol. 2: Red Menace Ultimate Collection" by Ed Brubaker and others (#14 - 2015)

Picks up where Captain America Vol. 1 left off (duh).  An action packed continuation of the Captain America story, Crossbones being a jerk as well as more back story about Bucky.  A quick bridge over to the next compilation (which I'm dying to read).  Obviously if you like Cap or are interested in more about Cap, Bucky, Crossbones, etc. pick this one up!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I Bought - March 2015

Well, I totally lucked out this month when I won a $2500 gift card to Kate Spade from Lucky magazine!  I entered back in September, I think it was.  Ever since they started those contests years ago, I've entered every single giveaway, every single month. I've won a few things here and there over that time, but this is by far the biggest and the best!  So the moral is enter contests, you can win!  This came at a great time because I was in desperate need of new sandals and was just starting to look around for options (my shoe situation in general is pretty bad).  Plus, I always like a new bag for the new season (I had my eye on this one pre-gift card win).  Anyway, here's what I got:

1.  Cobble Hill Luxe Ella - $568 (gorgeous bag in person)
3.  Cobble Hill Lacey - $198
4.  Attitude sandals - $198 
5.  Brittany sandals - $198 (so comfortable)

Total = $1,320 (all covered with gift card)
Total Out of Pocket = $0

I also picked up this totally awesome tray and these salt and pepper shakers.

Go forth and shop responsibly!
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review - "Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work" by Tim Gunn (#13 - 2015)

Who doesn't love Tim Gunn and his no nonsense style of telling it like it is?  This was a great, quick read outlining his "rules" for making it work in your life, career, relationships, etc.  It's a well written book, he tells lots of stories about his experiences in the fashion industry and doesn't back down from calling out even the biggest names for bad/bizarre behavior.  I appreciated his honesty, his openness and his overall tone.  It's a great book to pick up for a fun read and to remind yourself that kindness and hard work goes a long way! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review - "Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success Online and Off" by Michelle Phan (#12 - 2015)

Yet another spur-of-the-moment grab at the second hand bookstore.  I've never heard of Michelle Phan (so old, so out of the loop).  I breezed through it, not because of lack of good information, but mostly because I am not the target age for this book and the information in it.  It would be an awesome book for High School/college girls (graduation gift alert).  The advice she gives is solid, her story is inspiring, but I was hoping for a little more beauty coverage (considering she's a beauty Internet sensation/guru).  Besides beauty, hair and nails, she touches on style, getting a job, and other career advice.  I would have loved this book when I was in my teens/early 20s!  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review - "Swapping Lives" by Jane Green (#11 - 2015)

Swapping Lives by Jane Green

Very typical Jane Green book (nothing heavy with lots of British-isms).  This story centers on the lives of Amber and Vicky, two women in their mid-30's living an ocean away from each other, each wondering if life can be more fulfilling.  Vicky lives in London and is an editor at the very posh, Poise magazine.  She's very successful, single and lives in a flat with her cat Eartha.  She always thinks how wonderful it must be to be married with children, how if she only had a husband and children, then life would be perfect.  Amber is a housewife in Connecticut, married to a successful man who works on Wall Street, they have two young children and live in one of the most lavish homes in their town.  But Amber is getting tired of keeping up with the Jones's and feels she's forgotten who she really "is" (or at least who she used to be before being married with children).

Vicky voices her dreams of a perfect husband and children life wishes and Poise's Editor-In-Chief decides that it would make a great story for the magazine.  So they run a contest where women who live Vicky's ideal life can write in why they want to swap lives with Vicky.  After sorting through the candidates, they decide on Amber.  So they switch lives and discover that the grass isn't always greener and nothing is perfect.  Duh.  Anyway, it was a fun read, good for any upcoming beach trips.  Just don't think about it too hard!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review - "True Love" by Jennifer Lopez (#10 - 2015)

True Love by Jennifer Lopez

I'll preface this review by saying that I'm a Jennifer Lopez fan, just love her.  So I was interested in this book to begin with (by the way, the book itself is gorgeous).  That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how "real" she got in this book about her issues with self-esteem and being able to just love herself, the journey to her realization that she is "enough".  This book was super easy to read, I was done in under 4 hours flat.  Lots of glamorous J.Lo pictures, lots of soul searching, stories and candid takes on her relationships.  I like how she walks the reader through her revelations and the work that went into it.  Now is this stuff groundbreaking?  No.  Is it useful? Sure.  I think you can learn something from anyone's journey (it's why I love reading autobiographies and biographies).  That being said, I'm not sure a non-J.Lo fan would like it, because it's a whole lot of J.Lo.  If you are a J.Lo fan then I would certainly pick this one up!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review - "Captain America, Vol 1: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection" by Ed Brubaker and others (#9 - 2015)

I guess I'm becoming a bit of a comic book person.  After loving Planet Hulk, and loving the Winter Soldier movie, I decided to pick this compilation up.  I'm glad I did.  First of all it's not like the movie, sure there's Cap, Bucky/Winter Soldier, Falcon, and Nick Fury, however the rest of cast is different than the movie (for example Red Skull is still alive at the beginning).  The basic premise of Cap finding out about this top secret Russian assassin is there, his feelings about it are still there, it's just presented in a different way.  The Winter Soldier is such an upsetting character, he's a victim, a person who has been turned into a weapon.  It's easy to follow, has lots of action and is a snap to read.  If you are intrigued by the Cap/Winter Soldier storyline then for sure pick this up.  Of course this means I'm going to have to get the other volumes, etc.  I'm interested in what happens next!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review - "I Do, Now What?" by Giuliana and Bill Rancic (#8 - 2015)

Another one picked up on a whim at the library, I liked their reality show, so I thought this might be a quick, fun read.  It was quick, but so blah.  I ended up skimming the last 3/4 of it.  I guess maybe couples that are just married (or engaged) might get more out of it that I did (I've been married for over a decade).  The advice seemed a bit basic/common sense for me at this point.  Two things jumped out at me though, Giuliana told a story about a past, famous boyfriend that did her wrong, well it was obviously about Jerry O'Connell (and Rebecca Romijn), that was interesting.  And the second thing was that Giuliana seems to have some food issues (freaking out about gaining weight during her fertility treatments and even before when the Dr. instructed her to gain weight and she bristled at that), it just struck me as so odd, especially seeing how this was written over 4 years ago and how she seems to have gotten even skinnier since then.  But what do I know?  Overall I would give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

PS Giuliana has a new book coming out next month, and you know I'm going to have to read that one!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Review - "Crazy Busy Beautiful" by Carmindy (#7 - 2015)

Picked this one up on a whim at the second hand bookstore.  I like Carmindy so I was hoping for some great tips.  I was disappointed, really basic stuff here, nothing that you can't get reading magazines and/or blogs, or just from experience.  And it's not a typical makeup book, it's just bullet points with tips and each chapter is a different part of the face.  No pictures, just illustrations.  I would skip this one.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What I Bought - February 2015

1. Soma sleepshirt - $26.65 (on special)
2. Soma sleepshirt - $26.65 (on special)
3. RapidLash - $27.49
5. Soma sleepshirt (pattern not available online) - $26.66 (on special)
6. Thrifted shorts (not pictured) - $12.99

Total  = $170.44
- $60 Soma gift card won over on Jackie's blog (thanks!)

Total spent out of pocket - $110.44

These Soma sleepshirts are so great!  I never, ever thought I would wear Teva sandals, but I just fell in love with these. They are backordered until the middle of March so we'll see if I still think they are awesome once they are on my feet!

Go forth and shop responsibly!
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers over at Franish!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review - "The Glitter Plan" by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor (#6 - 2015)

A breezy read about how Pam & Gela started the phenomenon that was Juicy Couture in the early '00's.  Part entrepreneurial guide, part biography and part history of Juicy Couture, it was really a fascinating look into how these two ladies created a global powerhouse brand by really just trusting their guts and filling a niche.  I was particularly intrigued about how/why they left the company after they sold it and their thoughts about where Juicy is now (at Kohl's), as well as their new line Pam & Gela.  I'm no entrepreneur by any means, but I love reading about how people build companies/brands, it's fascinating!  This book may be a bit oversimplified, but I still loved it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review - "A Hundred Summers" by Beatriz Williams (#5 - 2015)

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

In 1931 two socialites (friends since they were children, but really don't have that much in common) go and watch a college football game.  Lily, the main character, meets Nick who played in the game and it was love at first sight.  Nick is Jewish and Lily's family absolutely insists they end the relationship.  Budgie, her friend (or is it frenemy) comes in and out of the story, throwing in wrenches here and there.  Look, here's the bottom line, I detested this book.  There, I said it.  I can't believe it's gotten such good reviews on Amazon (which is part of the reason I hunted it down at the library).  None of the characters are likable, the author uses the word "limbs" to the point where I wanted to throw the book against the wall.  I kept reading because I kept thinking it would get better - spoiler alert - it never does.  Add to that a deeply unsatisfying ending and I would recommend you skip this one!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spring 2015 Trend - White

Lots of white on the Spring runways, head-to-toe, in most cases. This trend goes hand-in-hand with tomorrow's trend as well!

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