Friday Favs – Nevertheless, April.


Happy Friday, friends! I’ve been super sick the past couple of days, so I’m just finishing this up on Friday evening. As soon as it’s posted, I’m going back to reading Harry Potter and resting!

Here are my highlights from this week:


1. Almost two months after I donated to Liz Warren’s re-election campaign (that’s a normal thing to do when you live like 1,500 miles from the state she’s senator for, right?), I finally got my bumper sticker in the mail!! SO EXCITED.

Speaking of which…



I actually gasped out loud when I was looking through the graphic tee section of my local Target and spotted this!!  I’d suggest checking your local store before buying online, because the ones I saw were varying degrees of what I think was supposed to be purposely distressed? (Mostly ragged collars). Target’s site currently only has XL and XXL, and they run big. (Wearing a medium in the photo and I’m usually L or XL in juniors sizes, which this is supposed to be.)

I didn’t end up buying this one from Target, because although I’d like to give them the feedback (aka money!) that carrying something so awesome is appreciated, I’ve seen several on Etsy that I REALLY love and would  like to support an independent artist even more.


3. I went down to Eureka Springs on Wednesday to enjoy the beautiful weather (it was in the mid 70s!). I did my usual wandering around downtown, but I think I’ve hit the point where I’ve been there so many times in the past couple of years that the novelty is wearing off. I need to see if I can find a new tour or something to do on my next trip! (I’ve written about the Downtown n Underground tour, which is such a fun way to learn the city’s history, and the Crescent Hotel ghost tour, which taught me so much about the hotel’s crazy history. I think the Basin Park Hotel has a ghost tour, too, so maybe that will be next? I wish there were more history tours!)

A few pics from this week’s trip:

Butter infused olive oil at Fresh Harvest tasting room in Eureka Springs

Fresh Harvest Tasting Room is almost always my first stop because I’m addicted to their amazing olive oils. They had almond and pumpkin seed oils, too, this time, but I only had enough $ budgeted for olive oil, so those are definitely on my list for next time!


One of the parking lots downtown is always lined with works by local artists. Loved the juxtaposition of these two, especially against the wooded backdrop!


Spotted in another parking lot.


This staircase is allllll over Instagram, but most people bump the saturation up to crazy levels.

There are tons of staircases downtown (each street is on a totally different elevation), I’d love to see at least one more become a work of art!

Amusing thing that comes with the staircases – addresses that look like they came straight from a Harry Potter book.


I made a friend! This is to illustrate the down side of the staircases; I had to just stand and wait for a few minutes until this guy got tired of sunbathing because he was blocking the way to Main Street. (I didn’t want to go all the way back up the stairs and down a different staircase, and trying to jump over him seemed like it might end in disaster!)


Just random downtown awesomeness.


4. My original plan was to go hike the 4 mile trail around Lake Leatherwood, but I ran into a few obstacles. First, my kitten knocked a space heater on my big toe right before I left the house, creating a huge bruise. Second, I’d planned to start by going counter-clockwise around the lake since I haven’t been that way before (I’ve done the first mile or so going the other direction), but it was flooded in several places and although my hiking shoes are water resistant, the water was deeper than just my feet so I didn’t want to get my socks and jeans soaked. (I almost face planted trying to use a log as a bridge, too, which sealed the deal on not going that direction!)


Started at the green, went down to where that red line ends before giving up on going that way, turned around and went back the other direction to reach the dam that runs across the top (according to the pic) of the lake.

A few pics that I instagrammed (Hover over the first one to get the arrows to appear): the 4th one is taken near the red dot and I’m pointing to the dam that was my destination. I’m not in great shape for this kind of thing, so I was pretty proud of myself for making it out there and back, which wound up being almost 4 miles!


A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

5. .0000000000000000000……………

^ One of my cats typed that for you guys while I was out of the room, so I’m just going to leave it.

But also, let’s finish the list with my favorite tweet this week:


Happy weekend!

Friday blog linkup



Friday Favs – Happy April

A super late in the day Friday post, but better late than never, right??


1) I use Padmapper and Hotpads to browse Orlando houses for rent, but this week I randomly decided to see what the most expensive rentals in Savannah, GA looked like, and I was not disappointed. (Looking at the most expensive Orlando rentals isn’t fun because they’re all boring McMansions.)

First, this feels like the most Savannah-y house to ever exist, and b) I need to live in it. (A mere $3,200 per month!)

Looooooook at those floors and that light and the fireplace! I need dis.



A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

Last week I had to cancel riding due to non-stop rain, but yesterday’s riding lesson was perfect. I wanted to work on really strengthening my position so we did a lunge line lesson where I did things like go over trot poles in jumping position with one hand behind my back to help my posture.


There’s nothing better than this.

After the lesson, I took Folklore out for a walk along the driveway to cool down and then let him graze for almost an hour. He was a happy horse!



3. I’ve been re-reading Harry Potter yet again, and it’s a struggle to not just do that all day every day.


4. Ruby summarizes my entire life.

5. I’ve mentioned that I’ve started working at a thrift shop on the weekends as a break from writing. I keep meaning to share photos of amusing items I come across, but today I found one so great that it MUST be shared. I pulled this out of a donation box like “Who would want an old dog trophy?”


…but then I saw the inscription.

Who WOULDN’T want this??


I’ve been considering sharing links to cool giveaways I’ve found around the ol’ internets lately. Is that a thing you guys would be into? One I came across this week: Win a trip to Santorini (ends 5/1)

The forecast is calling for an inch of SNOW tonight. Go home April, you are drunk. May you guys have an awesome (and frost-free) weekend!



Friday blog linkup


Friday Favs – Spring!


Y’all, we’ve finally made it through winter. We’ve already had a few days over 70 degrees, and the trees in my yard are starting to bloom. I AM READY.

It’s kinda ironic that I did a supersized post for my last Friday Favs, then missed two weeks. Oops! (I missed this month’s Show Us Your Books link-up, too! I’ve basically been the very worst blogger lately. I’ve actually been so busy that I’ve kinda been the worst everything. Working on it.)

Here’s what I’ve been digging lately!


1. SPRING IS HAPPENING! I mentioned it in the intro to this post, but warmer temperatures and budding trees make me SO HAPPY. I actually got a sunburn on the back of my neck while horseback riding last week, even though I was only out for an hour and it was like 70 degrees. That said, it was like 38 degrees when I got to the barn yesterday morning (more about that in a bit), so spring kinda needs to get it together.


2. This is kinda embarrassing, but a family friend gave me a fancy kitty litter box over a year ago and I immediately stuck it in the garage and forgot about it. Not really *forgot*, but just never got around to using. I finally brought it in last week and OMG YOU GUYS.

I’ve been using this for less than a week and it’s basically life-changing since I have multiple cats and spend like 452 hours a week cleaning litter boxes. The funky design means that all you have to do is roll it over so it’s upside down and then roll it the opposite direction, and all of the dirty litter winds up in that little slide-out tray with a handle that you can see on the right, while the clean litter goes back where it belongs. It takes like 30 seconds and then I can just dump the little tray. I looked them up on Amazon because I NEED another one, and found that the “large” size I have is about $32 (available here) but there’s also a “regular” sized one for under $20 here. My little cats are weird and two of them will happily use the one I have at the same time (PARTY IN THE LITTER BOX WOOT WOOT ) but I will probably get the regular-sized one for the other end of the house.

I’ve found that I do have to grab the litter scoop to get clumps that stick to the bottom, but that’s maybe twice a week. I can deal with that!



Literally me lately.

3. Spring is definitely the season when I HIKE ALL THE THINGS, so I decided to search the app store for something that would tell me how many miles I do over the next few months. I went with UnderArmour’s “Map My Hike” and I LOVE IT. I can glance at it while I’m walking to see how far I’ve gone, how long I’ve been on the trail, and how fast (aka how slow) I’m going. After I’m finished, I also get cool stats like changes in elevation and a satellite map of my path:



I hadn’t yet entered my height & weight so it could estimate calories when I took this screenshot, but this is what you see while you’re walking.


Fancy satellite map of where you’ve been.


I love that you can tell when I stopped to take photos (tiny downward spikes in pace) and when I paused at the lookout and observation tower. The grey line (elevation) sums up hiking in the Ozarks and why my pace is so slow!



4. I can sum up the main reasons I like the Sacred Mind & Body pain relief cream and balm I’ve been using in six
*No animal testing
*All natural ingredients

Cold weather makes me more achy than usual (probably because I spend so much time huddled beneath my electric blanket trying not to freeze to death?) but I never take pain medication and I’ve found that I have to be really careful if I do buy a pain relief cream because most say not to use them if you’re allergic to aspirin, which I am. (I could never figure out why I always felt icky after using a popular brand until I actually looked at the aspirin warning on the packaging and saw I was basically poisoning myself. Oops.)

I’ve been keeping the sample packets that the company sent me next to my bed and in my car, which comes in super handy for when post-riding or post-hiking owwies set in. I’m not sure if there’s much of a difference between the lotion and balm other than (obviously) the form its in, but I like both.


5. Totally random, but this seahorse shower curtain at Target makes me really happy. I know it’s intended for kids, but it might seriously be my next purchase.


A bonus that doesn’t really count as a favorite, but I wanted to throw in…

A local preschool scheduled a field trip to my barn, so I was asked to come help out. They had FIFTY small children that were divided between two days, but still, 25-ish tiny people is A LOT. We divided them into stations and rotated – ie one group did pony rides while another made a craft and another learned how to groom a pony. (I was mostly in charge of grooming, but ended up doing some pony rides, too.) It was really cool to give some kids their first horseback riding experience (I remember mine when I was three!), and some of them were hilarious. That said, the 90-ish minutes we had with them each day was MORE THAN ENOUGH THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

My last two lessons on Folklore have been 💩💩💩. We were doing SO WELL for awhile, but there are some new students so he’s been ridden a lot more than he’s used to and it’s making him grumpy. I feel ya, boo, but I also don’t want to spend half of my lesson fighting with you.

I asked if  could take him out on a not-quite trail ride today (just along the driveway and over in the yard – not far away but areas he doesn’t usually get to go in.) He perked up SO much and was instantly so engaged. Poor guy is bored of lesson stuff so I need to figure out how to make things fun for him!

I let him graze for a few minutes afterwards, and then as I was leading him back into his stall, I heard this huge THUNK of metal and felt him trip behind me. My instant thought was “OMG he’s going to fall and pin me against the wall. This is how I die.” but thankfully he stayed on his feet. After making sure he was okay I went to see if I could figure out what he tripped on.

My bazillion dollar super jumping horse got his foot stuck on the rail on the ground at the entrance to his stall and PULLED HIS OWN SHOE OFF.

Sometimes you just want to kick off your shoes as soon as you get home.

Jumping 3 foot fences? No prob! Stepping over the pole that he walks over every day of his life? RECIPE FOR DISASTER. You can’t tell from the pic since the shoe is blurry, but he even twisted it into a weird angle, so I’m REALLY thankful his hoof seems to be fine. Thankfully the farrier (horseshoer) is coming in Monday so he can get fixed up pretty quickly.

Never a boring day.

Have a great weekend, all! I’m mostly working but hopefully attending a fun event on Sunday and even more hopefully managing to fit in an actual day off next week!


Friday blog linkup


A Super-Sized Friday Favs


Happy Friday, friends! (And happy March!) I’ve missed posting the last two Fridays (more on that in a second), so this week’s list is double the size of my usual Friday Five! I had a couple of items ready to go last week but ran out of time to finish up, so I’ve started off with those and just kept adding on.

To start off, though, some super sad news: I missed posting two weeks ago because I lost my kitty Jasper on Valentine’s Day. He’s been with me since I lived in Orlando – I went to PetSmart thinking I might get a fish for company and saw him and his sister Cricket and just fell in love. That was right before Thanksgiving 2008 – I left the store empty-handed but after the holiday weekend I couldn’t stop thinking about them so I went back and adopted both. Jasper was always nervous about everything- not sure what happened to him as a baby – but over the years he went from “NO HUGS NOT EVER” to “I guess some hugs are ok sometimes”. I spent his final 12 hours cuddling him on the bathroom floor with him because he’d freak out anytime I tried to even move to stretch out a leg that had fallen asleep. (He’s always been TERRIFIED of other people so I felt better about letting him go quietly at home vs. scared out at a vet.)

A couple of fun Jasper facts:

*When I adopted him, his name was Freddy, but that didn’t suit him AT ALL. After trying on names to see what fit and consulting my friend Katie for input, his full name ended up being Freddy Jasper Jacob Dante Alberto Bandito Von Monkeypants. I usually just stuck with “Jasper” when we went to the vet or anything, though.

*His photo was once retweeted by Rachel Maddow.

*A few months after moving back to Missouri, I finally gave in and let him go out in the back yard with my other kitties. He was allowed short outings for a little over a year, but then he hit what I like to refer to as his Goth Phase and brought me two snakes and a bat within about a 10 day time span. I decided it was better for all of us if he went back to being an indoor kitty only after that.

*He also went through a weird phase where he liked to lie across the gap between my bookshelves:


This a) overlapped with the phase where wearing a coat made him feel safer, and b) was a bad match for his tendency to fall off of things while he slept.

It’s so weird not to have him around. I obviously wasn’t feeling very social media-y or like blogging for about a week after that, and then last week ended up being so busy that I just never found time to post.

All of THAT said, let’s catch up on what I have been digging lately!


Target Valentines clearance items


1. Behold my post-Valentine’s Target clearance finds! I was so excited that they had one of the felt cat envelopes left – I loved them when I first saw them but didn’t pick one up. 30 cents instead of $3 is fine by me!

I got two pairs of the pink bird socks. They were by the sock section under a sign that said 50% off, which should have made them $1.25, but when I scanned them on the price checking thing they came up as 40 cents, so I ran back and grabbed the second pair!

The wine glasses were originally $10, got ’em for a buck!

And you can never go wrong with Ghiradelhi squares! 30 cents instead of a dollar. Probably should have grabbed a few more!


2. Speaking of Target (and when are we not, TBH?), I picked up the Seventh Generation All Natural Cleaner while looking for something else in the cleaning aisle, and I AM IN LOVE. I’m super sensitive to fragrance and chemical-y cleaning smells, but this is the first thing I’ve found that has ZERO SMELL. Nothing, nada. Borderline life-changing if your house is constantly messed up by tiny fluffy battle kittens and you have allergies. I know it’s available at Target (link) – haven’t spotted it anywhere else yet!


3. I usually only go up to Springfield to grocery shop about once a month, but I’ve been TWICE this week because they got a new health food store that I am super excited about. It feels just like a Whole Foods without the pretentiousness (or a little like a Fresh Market), but the prices are pretty on par with a regular grocery store. I discovered a bunch of new things that I’m excited about, but the store itself deserved its own number!


4. Before I move on, let’s all giggle at the term “nut milk”.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…


I picked this up on my first trip to the new store and tried it while still in the parking lot, then almost ran back in to almost buy the chocolate one, too. (Didn’t want to deal with long lines and blah blah blah so I waited.)

These are SO GOOD. They feel like you’re having something indulgent but they’re not super sweet. The vanilla one is just cashew milk, almond milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.  (I ended up liking he vanilla more than the chocolate btw. There’s also a banana date flavor I want to try.) I was just listening to something on a podcast the other day about how much better it is to treat yourself to something with good fats (like this) vs. something sugary. These are just so freakin’ satisfying and way more filling than snacking on cookies or something, and you’re even picking up some nutrients. The only bad side is that they’re like $4.50 each which is a lot if you’re on a limited grocery budget like I am. (I mean, I still went back and bought 3 more yesterday…) But if you look at it as replacing one $6 Frappuccino or something, you’re coming out way better both financially and health-wise.


5. Also discovered Ambition Bars! They have about half as much caffeine as a can of Starbucks DoubleShot espresso, and they’re yummy. In addition to these two they have flavors like caramel latte, matcha, and chai. Keeping a few on hand for days when I really need an extra boost!


6. Okay, another Target thing, but this is so worth it! I found these earrings in the jewelry clearance yesterday:


Although the tag says 31 cents, they actually rang up as ELEVEN CENTS, and literally took about two minutes to fix.  I just twisted them a little to open the rings that held the pieces together, removed both middle sections, and then attached the bottom turquoise drop to the top one instead. Voila!



Sure, two isn’t quite as cute as three, but… ELEVEN CENTS.


7. JUMPS. I got to the barn yesterday (it was a busy day!) for my first lesson in an entire month and immediately spotted these:

We’ve been trotting over ground poles, so these tiny cross rails are a big step up, even though there’s only like a 4″ height difference. However, before tackling that yellow combo, my trainer pulled the higher rails off a pair of jumps and was about to take the flowers away from the bottom, but I was all “Noooo, I want the flowers!” so I got to keep them. (The flowers made it about a foot high instead of 7-ish inches. Still next to nothing for a horse whose back is as tall as my head, but let me tell y’all, every couple inches makes a surprising difference when you’re riding it!) (That sounds really dirty but I didn’t intend it to. Oops.)



If you remember my last post, I was super charmed by how cute Folklore was being charging at the trot poles and even giving little hops over some. That definitely amped up today! I could barely get him to trot at the beginning of our lesson – he was stuck at a plodding walk. Once he understood that we were doing something fun, though, he went  into supercharged mode!

We trotted at the first jump and as soon as he hopped over, I thought “Oh wow, I haven’t jumped in like 15 years at least” followed by “Oh crap, he is totally going to pick up a canter after that second one.” CALLED IT. After hopping the second jump, he immediately picked up speed (most horses prefer to run at jumps instead of trotting – just like if you were about to jump over something). Since I was prepared for it I got him slowed down after just a few steps, then cracked up and went at it again.

Second time around, HE WAS SO READY. He picked up his SUPER FAST trot going towards the first jump. My trainer says I literally yelled “HALF HALT” which is a kind of slow down/collecting moment you do before a jump to be sure you’re in control and set up correctly. Thankfully I also gave him the cues to do so in addition to just yelling it, so he slowed his roll a tiny bit before hopping the first fence, landing at a canter again, and thus taking us towards the second one pretty darn quickly. Popped over that one, but he was so into it that we made it halfway across the arena before I got him slowed down again.

The funny thing is that 1 foot jumps and cantering would be nothing to 20 year old me, but… I HAVE NEVER CANTERED ON THIS GINORMOUS HORSE BEFORE. I am still SO NEW to English riding that we’ve only walked and trotted, so we basically skipped ahead at least a month’s worth of lessons with no preparation. (To help this make sense for non-horsey people I googled trot vs. canter speeds – This is going to be off because my massive guy’s trot is faster than a normal horse’s canter, but for the sake of making it easy to understand, think around 10 mph for a trot and 15 mph for the fairly chill canter he was doing.)

I REALLY wish I’d gotten pics or video, but I was kinda busy trying not to die. I did find a gif that’s decently close – this is maybe 4″ taller than ours and we had two strides in between jumps instead of one, but close enough:


BTW I have no idea if my lesson tales are interesting at all to people who don’t ride, but I want to chronicle them anyway so I can look back and be like “LOLZ, we do 3 foot jumps without blinking now, can you believe 12 inches made me nervous?”

We also jumped THE LOG, which I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned here, but has been a running theme in messages to my horsey friends. This big log appeared in the arena one day and ever since I have been like “I WANT TO JUMP IT.”  We did a combo today where there was a ground pole, the log, and then another pole, and other than a tight turn approaching it, it’s the combo I was most comfortable with because Folk just treated it as a big pole instead of an actual exciting jump.


8. This is what happens when we get our review products for the Chewy Influencer program each month:

Here’s what we got for February:


I’ll talk about the wet food next week, but this week I wanted to share how much my cats are loving the Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care dry food. When I first opened the bag I thought they accidentally sent me dog food because the pieces are so much bigger than regular cat food. Then I realize that crunching those big bites is what helps clean their teeth.

I’ve occasionally found that my cats aren’t excited about “good for you” types of foods (aka ones with specific health benefits), but they LOVE this. (Except Tennyson, who turns his nose up at all dry food and dry treats.) I filled up a big ziplock bag to give them in about two weeks so I can spread the oral care benefits out a little bit. Although the info on the site doesn’t specify, I feel like this is something you could feed every other week or maybe even one week out of the month and still have great results with. It’s also made in the USA and includes antioxidants and vitamins for extra healthy meowers.


I don’t usually do non-favs, but I wanted to share a few things I am NOT digging this week to close off this extra long post!

1) My kitten Lin-Meow Purranda knocked my mascara into the toilet, so I was in desperate need of a new one. (No idea if water can get in with the cap closed, but SO not up for taking that chance!) I’ve had mixed luck with e.l.f. products, but I grabbed the Length & Volume  mascara because hi, it’s like $3. This turned out to be a definite MISS. The brush is this thick, stubby thing that comes out with a big glob on the end and just makes a mess of my lashes. I tried using it with the brush from an old tube (not the toilety one) and that helped but wasn’t worth the hassle. I replaced it this week with the e.l.f.  Lash Extending mascara, which is way better – gives me long, defined lashes, but doesn’t do much for thickness. I’d actually suggest their Mineral Infused mascara as the best one overall.

2) While in the Easter aisle at Target (I need to get out more), I spotted them:

Cadbury egg? COOKIE? OKAY!

Cue sad trombone music here; They kinda suck. There’s a bit of the creamy stuff inside, and the chocolate is fine, but there’s also a hard cookie piece that dominates the whole thing and kinda ruins it. And at like $3.50 for just eight cookies… huge disappointment. I could’ve got a 4-pack of the eggs for that!


3. Fast food really wants to kill us all. I don’t eat much meat, but every now and then my body is like “GIVE ME A CHEESEBURGER.” That happened yesterday, so I stopped by Steak n Shake and ordered a single cheeseburger. It was $3.29. I glanced up and saw that I can get a double cheeseburger WITH fries for $3.99. WHY are you encouraging me to get like 4x as much food for almost no extra money? Why is a single steakburger not like… two bucks? EXPLAIN YOURSELVES.


And finally, an “I want to try this…”

The new blonde espresso at Starbucks. Have you tried it? Do I need it in my life? I  espresso, but I am also very old and set in my ways. Hit me with your opinions, please!

Hope you guys all have a fantastic weekend!


Friday blog linkup




Show Us Your Books – February

Show Us Your Books link-up February book reviews


Before I get into this month’s book reviews, I wanted to pimp out a podcast I’ve been enjoying! In “By the Book”, the two hosts pick a different self help book every two weeks and live by its instructions. They’ve done the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Secret, and more. It’s fairly new, but fun if you have either read the books they discuss or like the concept of someone else reading them for you and reporting back.



Educated by Tara Westover

Goodreads * Amazon

This book, y’all. It’s the memoir of a woman who was raised in a crazy fundamentalist/survivalist family that didn’t allow their children to go to school, see doctors, or for a long time, even have birth certificates. At ten years old, she’s helping her father collect heavy scrap metal from the junk yard – SUPER SAFE. After watching her older brother study at home and get into college, she starts to toy with the idea, and eventually escapes to a totally unfamiliar world.

Skip the next couple italicized sentences if you don’t want a minor spoiler, but it’s so crazy I can’t NOT share. When Tara finally does go to college and takes an art history course,  she raises her hand to ask the professor a question – there’s a word in the caption of a painting they’re studying that she doesn’t know, and she’s curious what it means. When she asks, everyone thinks she’s making a really distasteful joke, but she was serious. The word? Holocaust. Her home schooling was so non-existent that she thought Europe was a country, and that FDR might be a kind of forklift? 

I read most of this in one night – it’s riveting. I’ve read a couple of books by people who grew up in cults or fundamentalist families before, but the kind of interesting thing with Tara’s is that although her family was Mormon, it was more her father than the church setting the insane guidelines they lived by. You know that moment when you’re growing up when you realize that your parents actually DON’T know everything, and they’re just normal humans? Imagine that times a million.

So much crazy shit happens that you kind of wonder how her entire family didn’t die along the way. Important note– there are several fairly graphic descriptions of injuries that various family members sustain either working in the junkyard or from auto accidents. If you’re squeamish, be prepared to skip a few paragraphs when something bad happens. With that note in mind, if you have any interest in unusual memoirs or crazy off the grid survivalists or the whole “super sheltered religious kid discovers the real world” type of books, definitely pick this one up!



A Little Piece of Light by Donna Hylton

Goodreads * Amazon

You know your life has been rough when being sentenced to 25 years in prison is one of the best things that has ever happened to you.

Yes, I read not one but TWO not-so-cheerful memoirs this month! The first half of this one was much tougher to read than Educated – the author endures pretty much every kind of abuse you can imagine from the time she’s a child until she’s arrested at 19 for kidnapping and second degree murder. The childhood of abuse takes up about the first 1/3 of the book, and so many awful things happen to her one after the next that I wasn’t sure I could keep reading it. The next 10% or so covers the crime that landed her a prison sentence, but after that, things (mostly) start looking up for her.

Like Orange is the New Black, this memoir offers an inside look at the justice system and a woman’s experience in prison, but unlike OITNB, the author is a woman of color from a completely non-privileged background. There’s a lot of focus on just why so many women ended up there – desperation. Many were in for killing their abusers, and almost all had suffered abuse.

According to NetGalley, this is being made into a movie with Rosario Dawson portraying the author, so this is your opportunity to be one of those people who sighs about how different things were in the book. (The book will be released in June.)

I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart

Goodreads * Amazon

This was exactly the book I needed last week/early this week when my stress level was super high. I haven’t read Mamrie’s first book yet, or really watched much of her YouTube (I’m mostly just familiar with her because I watched Grace Helbig back when she just did Daily Grace and no TV or movies or other things). The book is still enjoyable without being that familiar with her. Her stories are a lot of fun, and her writing is relateable even if her lifestyle isn’t. (I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t have the $ to drop on plane tickets to Spain for a Backstreet Boys cruise on a whim. Kinda fun to live vicariously, though.) This was a nice change of pace from the two depressing books above!

The only bummer was that my advance review copy didn’t have most of the photos that were supposed to punctuate the stories in the book; only about 10% had been added in, so I felt like I was missing out!

(I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley)


Head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers in the link-up have been reading lately!