Week in the Life: Tuesday, November 10

This week, I am documenting my life in a series of “Week in the Life” posts. I hope everyone enjoys this little peek into my day-to-day! Read all about Monday here.

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My alarm woke me up at 4:45 a.m. today, and it was the most unwelcome. I snoozed for 5 minutes, then got up, got dressed, and took Dutch on his first morning walk. After giving him a treat, I headed down to the gym for a workout. I did a fun 2.3-mile loop on the spin bike and then 15ish minutes of strength training.

Once back in my apartment, I fed Dutch, took a shower, did my hair and makeup, got dressed, packed my lunch, and took Dutch on his second morning walk.

By 7:05, I was commuting to work and got there right around 7:30. (My work hours recently changed, so now I work 7:30-5:00 Mondays-Thursdays and 8:00-11:30 on Fridays. I love it!)

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My morning at the office was fairly straightforward. I planned a full day of writing (9 articles in total was my goal). I wrote 2.5 articles before I had to stop to attend a company-wide meeting about our health insurance renewal. Luckily, that meeting only lasted five minutes since nothing had changed. Hooray! I am on a tight schedule this month, and don’t really have time for interruptions to my day.

After the meeting, I got right back to writing and finished 2.5 more articles before lunchtime. (I didn’t edit any of the articles, just wrote them and moved on to the next! I’ll go back and edit them later. But that’s why I can write them so quickly!)

At 11:15, I left work to go home and take Dutch on his afternoon walk. I get an hour lunch break, and only live 15-20 minutes from work. So, I’m able to spend 20-30 minutes with him in the afternoons, which is great. I love this time of day! It was also supremely nice out (82 degrees – laugh all you want), so we enjoyed the sunshine longer than usual.

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When I got back to work, I heated up my lunch (Santa Fe Chicken leftovers with brown rice), which I scarfed down while editing a coworker’s pages. Then, it was back to writing for me! I was incredibly focused this afternoon, so I got all my writing done by 3:15. At that point, I took a break to go downstairs and bask in the sunshine.

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The rest of my day was spent editing. I edited a coworker’s pages and then started reading through the articles I had written earlier and editing them. Since I wrote the articles so quickly, I was worried that they were terrible, but they weren’t too awful! They could use some work, but I’m not concerned with perfection here. And sometimes, I get really great feedback and editing suggestions from my coworkers, which is helpful for allowing me to see a sentence I have been struggling with in a new light.

I left work at 5 and thanks to much better traffic patterns, I got home right around 5:30. Roomie was already outside with Dutch, so I took him off her hands (while giving her my bags to take up to the apartment) and the Dutchers and I went on a nice long walk around the complex. I got the mail and found two bills for me (boo) and the sweetest card from San (YAY!). Her card completely brightened my day!

Back at home, I fed Dutch and then took a relaxing bubble bath. I read a chapter of The Martian while doing so. All the science-y stuff in this book is going over my head, but I love the voice of the novel so much. I’ll be able to devote more time to reading this weekend and I can’t wait!


After my bubble bath, Roomie had dinner prepared (lightened-up beef stroganoff), which we ate while watching part of last night’s episode of The Voice. Then, she cleaned up the kitchen (I offered to clean since she cooked, but she insisted) while I started on my NaNoWriMo writing for the day.

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It took me less than an hour to get my writing done, which I consider a huge, huge win. I wrote 1,680 words, so I’m slowly closing in on the 20k mark of total words written! Whee!

It was a little after 8 p.m. when I finished, so I took Dutch on his second nighttime walk and then ate a bowl of ice cream while finishing up this post. Afterwards, I went through my nighttime routine and read in bed for a little while before turning in for the night at 9:30.

Do you snooze your alarm or get up right when it goes off? What’s one good thing that happened to you yesterday?

Week in the Life: Monday, November 9

This week, I am documenting my life in a series of “Week in the Life” posts. I hope everyone enjoys this little peek into my day-to-day!


I woke up a little before 6 a.m. and from there, it was a rush to get ready and out the door. I took Dutch for his first morning walk, fed him, took a shower and did my hair and makeup, got dressed, packed my lunch, and then took Dutch on his second morning walk (yes, he gets two walks in a one-hour period in the mornings. And both are necessary, if you know what I mean!)

It was a little after 7:15 when I left for work, which means I’ll probably be a bit late this morning. Oh, well. Mondays are hard.


Once at work, I put away my lunch and drank my breakfast shake while I prepared myself for a morning of writing. I wanted to finish up monthly content for a client, and then spend the rest of the day editing.

Mid-morning, after I finished my writing task for the day, I made myself a small bowl of oatmeal and then started on the editing work I needed to get done. Lots of pages to edit, especially as I arranged a proofing trade with a coworker in the midst of my writing task earlier.


At 11:15, I left work and went home and took Dutch on a walk. This used to be my mom’s job when I lived with her, since her work was so close to our apartment. And now it’s mine! It’s annoying to have to leave work every day, but I do like getting away from my desk and getting some sunshine and exercise during lunch.

After our walk, I put the ingredients for Skinnytaste’s Santa Fe Chicken in the Crock-Pot and snuggled with Dutch for a little bit before driving back to work.


Back at work, I heated up my lunch in the breakroom. Today, I had Lean Cuisine taquitos, string cheese, corn, and a Trader Joe’s treat. I read some blogs while eating my lunch, and then jumped right back into the editing task I needed to complete.

Around 3 p.m., I finished editing and started working on monthly content for another client. This client is a little bit different from my other ones, as I write blog-style articles rather than SEO-style website content. It’s fun, but also a little bit challenging.

I got sidetracked with chit-chat with my coworkers, so I only ended up writing one article before it was time to go home.

I left work at 5, and got caught in terrible, terrible traffic. The kind of traffic that makes you want to cry and question if you’ll ever see home again. I ended up taking a detour to get gas because I was running low and didn’t want to have to stop before work or during my lunch break tomorrow, but this ended up being a bad decision because the traffic on that route was nearly at a standstill.

It was a little after 6 when I finally got home and I nearly wanted to kiss the pavement. Ha!


Once home, I took Dutch on his first nighttime walk and then put my things away, put on comfy clothes, took off my makeup, fed Dutch, and started finishing up dinner. Since I made a Crock-Pot meal, it only entailed shredding chicken and making rice. Hooray!

My roommate and I ate dinner while watching a couple episodes of The Tonight Show, and then we cleaned up the kitchen.


By then, it was around 7, so I took Dutch on his second nighttime walk (and prayed he wouldn’t need a third… yes, sometimes he needs THREE!), and then ensconced myself in my room to finish writing this blog post and to write my daily word count for NaNoWriMo.

Around 8:45, I finished up my writing (1,700 words today!) and then did my nighttime routine of brushing my teeth, washing my face, and taking my allergy meds. Then, I finished writing this blog post.

I read for a little bit (just started The Martian!) but I was way too tired to focus on the words, so it was lights out by 9:30 pm.

Thoughts on today: It was a good day, where I felt like I got a lot accomplished. I was productive at work, actually made dinner (it was my first time cooking for Roomie, too!), and met my word count goal for NaNoWriMo. This writing challenge is so intense, and it would feel so good to take a night off from it, but I am so motivated to complete this challenge. I was more tired than usual, but hoping an early night means waking up feeling more rested tomorrow!

What are you currently reading? What time do you normally wake up on the weekdays?

Five for Friday (v. 46)

1) This weekend is moving weekend for my mom and stepdad! They are moving into a new, one-bedroom apartment that’s not very far away from where they’re living now. (Only now my mom will be within walking distance of her favorite running path, which is pretty cool.) I’m having some feels about the change because I realized this would be the first place she’s lived without me, and that feels weird. Our lives have been so closely connected, so intertwined, that it’s strange for us to be living somewhat separate lives now. The good news is, her new place is still only about 20 minutes away from me, so I’ll still get to see her as much as I want/need.

2) Today is Day 6 of NaNoWriMo and I am sitting pretty at 8,345 words. Whee! I actually failed to meet my writing goal on Monday (I only wrote 450 words), so I’ve spent the past three days trying to catch myself up. I think I forgot how time-consuming this crazy project is. Writing 1,700 words a day is no joke and typically takes me 1-2 hours to complete. It means I’m spending the majority of my evenings camped out in my room, typing away furiously. This is after a full day of work, where I write for a living. Oy vey. But I am truly enjoying the process, having a ton of fun with my story, and I’m committed to finishing.

3) Next week, I’m going to document my life in a set of daily blog posts called “Week in the Life.” I did this last year around the same time, and I really enjoyed the process, so I’m doing it again this year. Sure, my life isn’t very exciting and not everyone will want to read these posts, but I like writing them and looking back on what I was doing during some random week in the year. I’ll be publishing the first post, detailing what I did on Monday, on Tuesday, so be on the lookout for that!

4) It’s been so hot in Florida, and I’m over it. I don’t necessarily want cold weather, but maybe some lows in the 60s? I know, I know. This sounds silly, but folks, we’re still seeing 90-degree days here. It’s quite ridiculous. I’m praying for a cold front!

5) Weekend plans? Not too much! I’m helping my mom and stepdad move into their new place, need to do some deep cleaning at my apartment, and I have a goal of writing 6,000 words of my novel. Hopefully, it’s a relaxing weekend!

What’s the weather like where you are? Any fun weekend plans?

Monthly Reads // October

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October felt like an incredibly slow reading month, but I ended up finishing 5 books. For me, that’s a low month of reading, but all things considered, it was a pretty solid reading month. It’s been hard lately to focus on books so I’ve opted for a lot of easy romances, which don’t require much brainpower and I’m always rewarded with a happy ending.

So, let’s jump into my reviews!

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book published by an author from Africa): Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4 stars)
I’m so glad I finally read this book, and it’s all thanks to the Book Riot reading challenge. I hadn’t even heard of this novel before I started listening to the Book Riot podcast, but they raved about her writing and this book especially. So I went in with high expectations and I’m happy that all of my expectations were completely met. My only complaint, if I had to give one, was the length of the novel as it’s almost 500 pages long. It took me two weeks to finish, and I read pretty fast, so just be warned that this is a novel you are going to have to devote some time to. But I loved the characters and the plot, and it was such an interesting look into race and culture. This novel had an impact on me and I feel changed after reading it.

TLC Book Tours Read: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (2 stars)
I reviewed this on my blog earlier this month and you can read my review here.

Others (read for fun!)

The Secret King by C.J. Miller (4 stars)
A fun Harlequin romance! This involved royalty, made-up countries, arranged marriages, a murder plot, and a sweet romance. I loved every cheesy minute I had with this novel.

To the Brink by Cindy Gerard (4 stars)
I’m rereading The Bodyguards series by Cindy Gerard because I love it so much. This story is one of my favorites. It’s a fast-paced romantic thriller that involves a kickass heroine who made me smile the whole way through this book. The characters are vulnerable and heart-breaking, and the plot keeps you on your toes from beginning to end. Love this author!

My One and Only by Kristan Higgins (3 stars)
This was probably not my favorite novel of Higgins, but it was sweet and lighthearted and romantic. I wasn’t a huge fan of the love story in this book, and the fact that their issues were never fully resolved bugs me. (I hate the “love conquers all!” concept because it’s so unrealistic.) But hey, I don’t read romance novels for realism – I read them for the escape they provide. And escape is exactly what this novel gave me.


# of books read: 5
# of pages read: 1,903
quickest read: The Secret King (3 days)
longest read: Americanah (14 days)
diverse: 1
formats: ebooks (3), physical books (2)

What was the best book you read in October?

Monthly Goals // November

October passed in a blur. It’s not a month I would particularly ever care to relive. It’s a month that holds pain, grief, and heartbreak. The weeks have passed in a daze. It still doesn’t feel real – I still can’t believe I honestly and truly lost my grandma. There’s this part of me that still thinks I’ll see her cooking in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, laughing and puttering around, making sure all her kids are happy.

I’ve tried to hold on to normal life as much as I can. I carved pumpkins with my roommate, dressed up for Halloween at my work, and even went on a date. I haven’t cried nearly as much as I think I should and sometimes don’t think I’m fully processing this loss. But how do you even begin to process a loss this huge?

I don’t know the answer. I’m just trying to keep moving forward. That’s what Grandma would want.

Obviously, my monthly goals weren’t on my mind last month. I’m still not sure I’m in the goal-setting mood, but I did want to make some goals because November is here and I want to make the most of this month.

November will be a good month. It’s my birthday month, it’s Dutch’s fourth Running of the Wiener’s race, and I’m going to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time. (Let’s not discuss the fact that I’ve never been when I live an hour away, mmkay?)

November is also Thanksgiving, the first one without grandma. I’m hoping it will be a good day, but I also know it will be a hard one. Grandma was the heartbeat of our family and a piece of all our hearts will be missing.

But let’s talk goals, shall we?

Win NaNoWriMo 2015 | That’s right – I’m doing it! I’ve already aced Day 1, so now I just have to keep on truckin’. Before November started, I had written 10,000 words of my current work-in-progress, so I’m hoping to hit 60,000 by the time the month is over. It’ll give me a solid base, though it certainly won’t complete my novel. But 90% of the way there is farther than I’ve ever been.

Exercise 4 times a week | I like having an exercise goal to shoot for because it keeps me motivated. What can I say? I’m just not at the point where I exercise for the hell of it. If I make it a goal, I’m much more committed.

Drink 32 ounces of water per day | Nope, it’s not nearly enough, but I won’t tell you how many ounces of water I’ve been drinking lately.

Make some doctor’s appointments | For starters, I need a dental cleaning and to get blood work done. I hate making doctor’s appointments, but it’s gotta get done.

Get a tattoo for my birthday | I have wanted to get a tattoo for years and I think age 28 is the perfect time to finally make this a reality.

What’s one thing you’re looking forward to in November?


Five for Friday (v. 45)

1) It’s Halloween weekend! I’ll be the first to admit: I have very little love for this holiday. We didn’t really celebrate it when I was a kid. (I dressed up and went trick-or-treating as a young child, but stopped after age 11.) But my office likes to go all out for Halloween (we do a cubicle decorating and Halloween costume contest!), so I try to get in the spooky spirit. I will be dressing up today (look for my reveal on Instagram!) annnd… that’s about it. Ha. No Halloween parties and since I live in an apartment, no passing out candy for cute trick-or-treaters. Fine by me!

2) Do you find it easy to abandon a book you’re not really enjoying? I usually have a difficult time, especially if it’s a book that’s gotten good reviews from everyone I know. I just had this happen with Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I thought I would love it, but I was having a hard time getting into the story and when I went an entire day without reading it at all (I can’t remember the last time I went a full day without reading!), I knew it was time to just give it up and move on to something I would enjoy more. Now I’m reading a fun romance novel by Kristan Higgans – hooray!

3) Apparently, Dutch can only last a few months between vet visits. This is the fun of having a senior dog, I suppose! Early Tuesday morning, he got very, very sick. Throwing up, diarrhea, panting, shivering, lethargy – the whole nine yards. Even though he’s been in and out of the vet this year, he hasn’t been sick like that. It was terrifying, especially because I had to deal with it all on my own. (Like I said last week, this adulting thing is for the birds.) I considered taking him to an emergency vet, but he calmed down enough to sleep a little bit, so I decided to wait for my vet’s office to open. At the vet, they ran some tests and he was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. Poor dude! He was given meds and within 24 hours, was back to his normal self. So very grateful! Tuesday was such a scary day for me. Being a pet owner can be such a roller coaster, sometimes.

4) I’m slowly starting to get back to my exercise groove. Motivating myself to exercise used to be easier than it has been in the past few months. But the only way to get back into the habit is to do it, so I’m doing it. And it’s especially nice that my apartment gym is totally empty in the morning (I go at 5am), so I have the entire space to myself. I’m hoping to get into more of a routine with my workouts, but for now, just getting myself to the gym and  sweating it out for 30 minutes a few times a week is enough.

5) I don’t have much going on this weekend. Tonight, my mom is coming over for pizza and a movie. Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with a friend to write and then taking it easy for the rest of the day (chores and errands will have to get done, but other than that, nada to do). And Sunday will be a day full of football and family. Happy weekend!

Do you have trouble abandoning books? What are your plans for this weekend?

Change, Triggers, and Finding My Way

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have struggled with my recent move. I knew it would be a tough transition for me, but I just didn’t know how tough it would be. I felt as if I prepared myself as much as I could; from other moves (and especially from my move to college when I was 18), I knew I would struggle. But you can’t know how much you will struggle, how hard it will be, how intense the feelings will feel, until you are in it. Until you are living through the anxiety and the fear.

This change was hard. It was so hard.

And when you’re 27 years old and have just moved out on your own for the first time, and crying because you miss your mom and you miss your old environment and everything feels so new and different and strange?

It’s hard to give yourself grace.

It’s hard to not feel as if you’ve failed at life somehow.

It didn’t help that my roommate was doing juuuuust fine with the move. She was bubbly and happy and so excited to live with a roommate after a year of living on her own. She’s one of those people who thrives wherever they are. College? Not a problem. New city where she know nobody? No biggie, she easily finds her social groove. She’s four years younger than me, and the fact that she handles change wayyyyy better than I ever will is a little demoralizing.

During the first few days after the move, it was hard not to spiral down into an existential crisis. I got lost in the “How Will I…” game. How will I ever be able to live on my own if living with a roommate – someone I dearly love! – is such a hard change? How will I ever be able to handle moving in with a partner, if the time ever comes for that? From there, it morphed to worrying about something happening to Dutch or my mom, my lifelines during this time. It’s a scary slippery slope when the mind turns on you like that. I was reminded of my first few weeks of living on campus in college and how much I struggled with the transition. I thought, with this move, I would handle the change better because I was older and wiser and good god, 27 years old, time to stop living with mommy! And yet… here I was… nearly 10 years later and still struggling.

Oh, the mind. It’s a scary place to be when you’re in the trenches.

What was most helpful for me during this time was talking it out and indulging in self-care habits.

I talked it out with friends, I called my mom daily just to talk, and I even let my roommate in on my struggles. I was nervous to do so because I thought she might think I was lame for struggling. But she offered me grace when I couldn’t give myself it. She offered me peace when my mind was in chaos. And she offered me the light bulb moment I needed when she told me that change is my trigger. For her, change isn’t a trigger, but for me, it is.

It was as if I could finally allow myself the grace and compassion I needed. It’s a trigger. It’s not a personality flaw. It’s not me being a baby. It’s just my trigger. For me, big change such as this causes huge issues with my anxiety. It causes something that I can generally control on a day-to-day basis to rear its ugly head and overwhelm me with feelings. I could finally say to myself, “This is your anxiety talking. You will be okay. You will make it through. You just have to sit here for a while and be sad and cry a bunch and wait for the tide to pass.”

This too shall pass. It’s cliche, but I want that tattooed on my body because it’s so hard to remember that when you’re in the gauntlet of emotion and hardship. This too shall pass.

You will get through it. Life will be different – not bad different, not good different, just different. You will survive. You will thrive. This too shall pass.

Also, self-care. I’m a big proponent of self-care because I’ve seen the magic it has worked in my own life. Without self-care habits, I’m not sure I would understand myself as well as I do. My self-care habits after the move included daily bubble baths, reading light and fluffy romance novels, indulging in all the TV I needed, and allowing myself junk food. I’ll admit, some of these habits aren’t the most healthy, but it’s what kept me sane during the few weeks of turmoil. I needed them to find my way out of the gauntlet. Self-care habits, get you some.

I wish I was more accepting of change, but I’m not. As a highly sensitive person, I place high value on comfortable environments. And with such a huge shake-up to my living situation, it overwhelmed my senses and opened me up to anxiety and panic attacks. But it’s been seven weeks since the move, and home is starting to feel like home. I’m happy here. I feel joy when I step inside my apartment. I’m comfortable with this little life I’m building for myself in Tampa.

I know more change is on the horizon. It’s already happened with losing one of the most important people in my life. I’ll lose more important people. I’ll switch jobs (hopefully not anytime soon, though). I’ll maybe even find a partner to build a home with. It’s all going to be hard. As long as I acknowledge that it’s okay that it’s difficult for me and that I allow myself the grace to adjust to the change, I think I’ll be just fine.

How do you feel about change? 

Reviewing the Third Quarter of the Year


Hello, friends! I hope everyone had a splendid weekend; mine was filled with fall festivities. I carved a pumpkin, watched the Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time ever (!), and watched football. We’ve had nice weather here in Florida lately, but I’m still wearing shorts and flip-flops, so anytime the weather wants to dip 10-15 degrees cooler, I am A-OK with that.

Today, I wanted to take the time to review the third quarter of 2015. I’ve done it for the past two quarters and I think it’s something I definitely want to continue. I love to reflect on my life, to discuss the high points and low points, and to set goals, so a personal quarterly review is right up my alley.

What went well in Q3?

  • My mom married Robert in a simple ceremony by the water in Downtown St. Petersburg.
  • I had a fun girl’s night out with two friends where we went to a local comedy club to see Joe Machi do his stand-up routine.
  • I took a break from blogging and social media for a whole month, which completely refreshed me.
  • I moved to a beautiful new apartment in Tampa with my best friend. Our apartment is so lovely and brings me so much joy.
  • My nephew turned seven and we celebrated with a fun-filled afternoon at an arcade center.
  • Dutch stayed healthy for an entire quarter (worth noting because in Q1, he pinched a nerve in his back and in Q2, he dealt with a UTI for a month). Very grateful for a healthy pup!
  • I started writing fiction again and meeting up with a writing friend once a week to spend a few hours on our novels.

What was challenging about Q3?

  • I experienced intense, nearly debilitating anxiety in relation to my move. Big change like a move is a trigger for my anxiety, so I was in the trenches in the few weeks.
  • I made zero progress on my healthy living goals. I haven’t been exercising, barely drinking water, and I’m eating way too many sweets. It’s frustrating.
  • I wanted to be better at managing my money, but I’m still spending more than I should and saving very little.

If I could do Q3 over again, what would I do better?

  • I would make time for exercise and not let little excuses get in the way of my health.
  • I would have been kinder to myself when I was in the transitional period, and not have been such a bully about having a tough time with the move.
  • I would have reached out to friends more and made more social plans.

What did I want to accomplish in Q3?

  • I wanted to move to South Tampa, which I did.
  • I wanted to start therapy, which I did not.
  • I wanted to lose 15 lbs, which I did not. (I also didn’t gain any weight, so silver lining? Meh.)
  • I wanted to take a break from social media and blogging, which I did.
  • I wanted to write more fiction, which I did.

What do I want to accomplish in Q4?

  • I want to get a tattoo (there are murmurings about the ladies in my family to get tattoos commemorating my grandma).
  • I want to participate in The Holiday Council 2015 and invest the time in the homework.
  • I want to bake my first-ever pie to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.
  • I want to win NaNoWriMo 2015.
  • I want to consistently exercise 3-4 times a week and consistently drink 32 oz of water per day.

What would make Q4 a successful quarter for me?

  • Losing weight – my goal would be to lose 7 lbs to get me under a certain number that has been plaguing me for this whole year.
  • Spending money wisely during Christmas – my family tends to go all out, so I want this Christmas to be a frugal one with an emphasis placed on time together rather than tons of presents.
  • Investing the time in my writing – I don’t want to be lazy about NaNoWriMo, but to be truly dedicated to completing this challenge.

What’s one thing – big or small! – you accomplished in Q3? What would you like to accomplish in Q4?

Five for Friday (v. 45)

1) I seem to go in spurts with my Friday posts. Sometimes, I want to keep it simple with a TGIF update and other times, I want to write longer-form lists about what’s going on in my world. Right now, I’m feeling more of the latter. It’s probably because when I go through a difficult time, all I want to do is write about it. Writing is my safe place, it’s where I can get all my thoughts and feelings down in one place. So this is what I do. I write. I’ll just keep writing until I can make sense of things.

2) I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will not finish the Book Riot reading challenge. I only have five categories left to complete, but they are five categories I really wasn’t looking forward to completing, and I never want reading to become a chore. I’m on the fence about this reading challenge because I’m glad it made me read some books I’ve been meaning to read (Americanah and The Outsiders come quickly to mind), but I also slogged through books I only finished to mark a category complete (like The Pearl that Broke its Shell and Olive Kitteridge). I’m not upset about not finishing the challenge because, frankly, I’m excited to get back to my TBR list and reading the books I’ve been looking forward to reading. Bottom line: reading should be fun! And for some people, reading challenges are fun, and for others, they are not. Do what feels good for you!

3) I cooked twice this week! I’m very proud about that because cooking hasn’t been my thing lately. (It really never has been. Cooking is a necessary evil for me.) On Monday, I made turkey meatloaf and had the leftovers for lunch this week. Then, on Tuesday, I baked Italian chicken (easiest recipe ever: marinate chicken in Italian dressing overnight, then bake it!). I’m trying to eat at home more (weekends are a mess, so I’m trying to focus on weekdays), which means cooking more. Sigh, this adulthood stuff is for the birds.

4) New shows I’ve tried: Scream Queens (not for me, gave me terrible anxiety!), Life in Pieces (I love this show mostly because Colin Hanks gives me heart-eyes, but it’s pretty funny, too), and The Grinder (not as funny as I was hoping, but I adore Rob Lowe so much). Other shows I’m taping but haven’t gotten around to watching: Code Black and Quantico.

5) This weekend is going to be a busy one, but I’m glad for it because last weekend held a bit too much alone time. Alone time is wonderful, but too much of it just leads me feeling lethargic and lonely. Introverts crave social interaction, too! Anyway, today, Roomie and I are having a fun day together where we’ll carve pumpkins, make pizzas, and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas (I’ve never seen it!). I haven’t had solid girl time with my Roomie for weeks, so this day is much needed. On Saturday, I’ll catch up chores and errands, and spend some time with my mom (it’ll be her first time seeing the apartment, now that we’re all moved in and unpacked!) And Sunday will be filled with the usual – football and family. Happy weekend!

Do you like reading challenges? What are your plans for this weekend?

Book Review: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls COVERPretty Girls is an intense thriller about two sisters who are on the hunt for answers to their questions.

Years ago, Claire and Lydia’s oldest sister Julia disappeared from her college dorm, never to be heard from again. It was a tragedy that tore their family apart and nowadays, Claire and Lydia aren’t even speaking to one another. Lydia is a struggling single mother dating an ex-con. Claire is a trophy wife married to a millionaire, and leading a charmed existence. But everything changes when Claire’s husband is brutally murdered right in front of her.

After his death, Claire begins to encounter questions – from the police, the FBI, herself. Such as: how is their sister’s disappearance connected with her husband’s murder? In order to get some answers to their questions, Claire and Lydia form a wary truce and begin their own investigation.

It’s hard for me to give a positive review of this novel, and I want to be honest with how I felt about it. This was one of the most gruesome and graphic novels I’ve read. I don’t typically enjoy books that have such vivid depictions of torture, murder, and rape. Throughout the novel, I found myself reading passages with a sick look on my face. To me, this is not entertainment. This is not why I read.

Was the writing itself good? Yes. Would I have enjoyed the book more with less gruesome violence? Abso-fricken-lutely. The book had a fast-paced (if not entirely believable) plot and well-rounded characters that were interesting and frustrating and engaging. I just wish the author had toned down the violence because it was hard to focus on the plot with so many gory details.

I do want to mention that my views seem to be the minority, as I’ve read many glowing reviews of this novel. I think this book was simply a trigger for me, and I read it at a time when my emotions were very tender. If you’ve loved novels by Gillian Flynn and other such writers, I think you would enjoy this one (just be warned, it’s a bit more gory than Flynn’s novels). It’s a crazy psychological thriller with a lot of different twists and turns.

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

You can connect with Karin Slaughter on her website and Facebook. Her book is available to buy from Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble

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I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

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Do you have any trigger warnings when it comes to novels? If you’ve read this book, what are your thoughts?