Show Us Your Books – September Edition


Happy Show Us Your Books Day! Given that I’ve been writing an average of 10,000 words a week for work lately, free time to actually read other people’s words has been scarce. Sometimes I really miss having a normal people job where you get to stop doing the thing after 8 hours! I need to get better at taking time out of the day to not work. But then again, I really enjoy fancy things like affording food, so it’s a delicate balance.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this month!


This Fight is Our Fight – Elizabeth Warren

Amazon * Goodreads

Before I get into my review, it should probably be noted that I totally own this bumper sticker:

So clearly I’m already totally Team Liz, but this book made me love her even more. I wanted the audio version since I really enjoyed her delivery of her last book, “A Fighting Chance”, but the regular e-book was all my library had so I jumped on it, since I live in the middle of nowhere and our “new arrivals” shelf often features books that came out like five years ago.

(Wearing your “Nevertheless, she persisted” t-shirt to read this book is optional but totally recommended.)

Pres…err, Senator Warren has such a great writing style in that she can explain complex topics in economics in a few pages so that they actually make sense. She discusses the horrors of student loan debt, why we should be investing in infrastructure and medical research, and how messed up it is that the average Wal-Mart supercenter costs tax payers a million dollars in funds for support like food stamps and Medicaid for its workers, despite the Waltons being one of the richest families in the universe. Unlike a lot of politicians who come from wealth and, you know, live in actual golden towers and such, Elizabeth draws from real life experiences, like how her mother was able to support their family on her wages working at Sears after her father fell ill and the family lost their usual income. And how she was able to put herself through college and eventually become a freakin’ senator because at that time, tuition was $50 a semester. And we’re not talking THAT long ago… just before the cost of living and the average income diverged so drastically.

No, this isn’t a page-turner of a thriller or laugh a minute type of read, but you’ll walk away SO much better informed. The next time you’re voting in a local election and there’s a proposal to increase taxes by X% to fund bridge repairs, you’ll know why it’s cheaper in the long run. When you hear politicians bring up Glass-Stegall repeal, you’ll actually understand the history of it. She’s excellent at explaining complex subjects in a way that they actually stick.


Normal Gets You Nowhere by Kelly Cutrone

Amazon * Goodreads

I listened to this as an audio book less than a month ago, but I have almost no memory of it. I also can’t remember if I read her first book, too, or just heard about it so much that I think I did, so either the writing is really forgettable or I’m getting very old, very quickly? (Is this the most helpful review ever?)


The Nocturnal Journal by Lee Crutchley

Goodreads * Amazon

I’m pretty sure I haven’t had a decent night of sleep since around 1987, so a journal designed to combat insomnia definitely caught my interest. (I’m finishing up this blog post at 3:45 a.m…)

First of all, the cover is awesome and it glows in the dark and the PR people included little glow in the dark stars when they mailed it to me, which made my inner ’90s teen very happy.



There are a few pages of regular text, but it’s mostly a guided journal/workbook to help you clear out the stuff that’s swimming around in your head and keeping you up at night. The exercises are a mix of fun and insightful.


It’s one of those books where you can just open at random and start there, or flip through until you find a page that speaks to you at the moment. There’s some list writing (like above), letter writing, drawing… a little bit of everything!

The publisher has offered to hook one of you guys up with a Nocturnal Journal of your own! Woohoo! (Giveaway is below!)

Head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out all of the other blogger book reviews for this month! And enter the giveaway for your own copy of Nocturnal Journal below! (Open to US 18+, ends 9/21/17)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

First Friday Favs of September!


Happy Friday! I’m finishing this post up at 3:30 a.m. in hopes of escaping for another day trip later this morning! (What’s sleep??)


1. I mentioned in my last Friday Favs post that I ordered some awesome stuff from Etsy. BEHOLD MY TREAURES!

These treasures from #etsy are easily the best $10 I’ve spent in years.

A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

2. Recently picked up this verde enchilada sauce at Target and have made enchiladas an embarrassing number of times since then because it’s so good. I tried one of the red ones, too, which was good but less remarkable. (Not sponsored, just delicious.)


3. Y’all know I’m still an Orlandoan at heart, so I’m definitely concerned that Hurricane Irma is headed towards The City Beautiful.

As usual, though, Twitter makes everything better:


…and my own addition:



4. I totally missed doing a Friday Favs post last week because I took a semi-spontaneous drive down to Eureka Springs again. I’ve been working SO MUCH lately; I just really needed a day to go walk around a cool town. I ended up doing a short trail that connects the Crescent Hotel (which I wrote about here when I did their ghost tour!) with Harmon Park (The trail getting there was short but nice, but I was an idiot and decided to just walk along the street to get back to the hotel – WORST IDEA. It was basically straight uphill for half a mile and I was pretty sure I was about to become the Crescent’s next ghost by the end.) and part of one of the trails at Lake Leatherwood.


A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

Plus the amazing butter flavored olive oil I picked up at the Fresh Harvest Tasting Room, which I toured on my last trip but was too poor to buy anything from at the time. Despite being super butter flavored, it’s actually vegan, which is pretty rad. I just got the little bottle that comes with a popcorn gift set, but I really should have bought the full-size bottle because I’ve already used A LOT.


5. Science just keeps getting cooler:


Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! If I can manage a quick getaway today, I’ll probably be working all weekend with breaks to finish my Show Us Your Books link-up post for next Tuesday.  Yay, books!


Friday blog linkup

Car Shopping with Confidence Using

One fancy car, please!


I need a Mustang, y’all.

Back when I was 15 and working in an ice cream shop for minimum wage, I carried a photo of a red Mustang convertible in my wallet to remind me why the long hours of scooping butter pecan were totally going to be worth it. When I was 17, I finally got a 1995 Mustang – white and not a convertible, but only a few years old and it totally had the pretty horsie on the wheel. SCORE.

Eventually I upgraded to a 2001, and then a silver 2004 Mustang convertible that I drove until a wintery day in early 2015 when a not at all fun black ice encounter happened and my beloved car was no more. I decided to just buy a car I could afford with the insurance payout, and man do I regret it because it’s a boring car with zero horsies on it and it doesn’t even have power windows.


As a freelance writer, I probably won’t be able to afford a sparkly brand new Mustang anytime soon, but I am hoping to find a great used one sometime in the near future. Which brings us to, who was kind enough to sponsor this post and thus edge me a little closer to that eventual purchase. Woohoo!


I love that the website has a price comparison tool that shows similar cars for sale in your area so you can see how the one you’re looking at compares to others with around the same mileage.


This is especially helpful if you’ve just moved somewhere new or haven’t shopped for a car in a while and aren’t familiar with how prices tend to run in your area. (I’m tempted to wait until I move back to Orlando to buy a new car because I’ve read that area has the lowest prices in the country!) You can also read reviews of that particular model year from other users and experts, and easily access safety and recall info.

I pulled up Mustangs in Orlando, too, just out of curiosity. The price comparison tool was able to show me that there was a car with about 20,000 fewer miles than the one I was looking at for about the same price!

The purple dot is the one I was looking at – $10k for a car with 98k miles. The grey dot selected towards the middle is the better deal I found with the comparison tool – $100 less for a car with only 77k miles! It’s a little outside of the search radius I set, so I probably wouldn’t have found it without using the comparison tool. Score!

They also have all kinds of useful info like repair estimates so you can know if a mechanic is quoting you a fair price or not. Being informed is so useful!

Have you guys shopped for a car lately? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

Thanks to for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own, ’cause that’s how I roll. Do you guys think I could talk them into a $10,000 sponsored post so I can get that cute silver Mustang above? Maybe? #WillBlogForFreeCars

Favorites on a Late August Friday


1. Days Off. Y’all, I never take days off unless I’m having one of those “too sick to lift my head” days. But for whatever reason, these past couple of weeks I just could not with adulting, so I just… didn’t. Instead I caught up on crazy things like laundry and grocery shopping and email and watching too much YouTube. I need to fit in a lot of extra writing over the next week to make up for it, but I think that actually resting for once was a good idea and I’m glad my weird freelance work life gives me the freedom to do that.


2. I bought some awesome things on Etsy this week which I’ll show you when they arrive (excited!), but I seriously need input on which of these two awesome shirts I should order next payday. I want both SO MUCH.

Warren tee * Nevertheless tee


3. News broke yesterday that the Amazon takeover of Whole Foods means prices will be dropping.


4. This tweet killed me. I am dead now.  😂😂😂


But here’s the thing… I added that to this post last week before totally slacking off and not ending up posting anything on Friday, and that majestic tweet has now been outdone by the best tweet in the history of ever:



5. I got this necklace on the Wish app for like $2 and it makes me happy. I never really wear necklaces, so I might make it into a keychain? But I do like the idea of having my city close to my heart. 


A Bonus: I didn’t think I got any eclipse photos, but… LOOK AT MY FOREHEAD!

Go forth and have an awesome weekend! I’m hoping to head down to Eureka Springs again to go wander around Lake Leatherwood and also buy some fancy olive oil.


Linking up!

Friday blog linkup

Show Us Your Books – August Edition


Happy “Show Us Your Books” link-up day! Okay, it was actually yesterday but I’ve been running behind on all he things. Better late than never?

Here’s what I’ve read lately!


Talking as Fast as I Can  – Lauren Graham

Goodreads * Amazon

I joined my library’s hold list for both the audiobook and regular book and was excited that the audio version became available first, since for some reason celeb memoirs always seem better that way. This was a fun listen. I had no idea about LG’s whole theater background (or really anything else non-Gilmore), and somehow hearing about how long someone struggled to make it is usually reassuring.

The latter part of the book includes her notes as she re-watches the show for the first time in pretty much forever. There’s nothing groundbreaking there, mostly like “Wow, my hair was weird”, but it’s fun. There’s a part of that where she discusses how much things have changed since those days (like when Lorelai insists to Emily that they do NOT need DSL because dial-up is just fine, thank you.) that kinda points out how much of a LA bubble she lives in, which was surprising. For instance, she talks about things like business cards and DVDs as if they’re relics from centuries ago, not things still commonly in use in most parts of the country/world. Still, she’s so likeable that it’s hard to fault her for it. Hearing how serendipitous the whole experience of making the new Netflix…thing? sequel series? What are we calling it? was got me right in the feels, too. Lorelai forever.

Sensation – Isabel Losada (Coming out in Sept 2017)

Amazon * Goodreads

Gotta be honest here – I’m pretty sure I requested this book based on the cover. I like sex and love and laughter and non-fiction! It didn’t end up being a good fit for me, though. There were so many close-minded comments, unintentionally offensive remarks, and inaccurate info in the first few chapters that I almost quit immediately, but I wanted to give the book a real chance. I assumed from the writing style that it was the author’s first book, but then she references previous works and the Netgalley description describes her as a bestselling author. My copy was clearly not through final edits yet, so I’d be curious to see how much more polished the final version is.

This is a tough one for me to review, and I’d probably skip writing one except that I’m like 98475 Netgalley reviews behind so I need to get better about reviewing everything I read to save my poor tanking percentage. There are parts where the author talks about workshops and conferences she attends and her experiences with them that are compelling and enjoyable to read, but then she’ll go off on multi-page musings or conversations with her friends about sex that feel more like what you’d find in a teenager’s diary than coming from a middle-aged woman. Amazon tells me this book is 276 pages… I feel like if you just edited most of that stuff out and brought it down to like 200 pages, it would have been significantly better.

The lengthy yet basic tangents would be way more tolerable if I wasn’t already frustrated by the super normative and kinda judgey outlook that keeps popping up. I don’t even think the author realizes she’s being totally inappropriate a lot of the time, but it’s glaringly obvious if you’re used to a more inclusive way of speaking. One example that I highlighted – after writing about a friend’s experience talking to her son about internet porn, the author says, “So if you have a son – you may want to have this conversation and not assume that, ‘my son wouldn’t watch stuff like that’. Yes – he would.” You know, because girls never watch porn. Zero need to have that kind of conversation with a daughter.   ([sic] on the grammar in that quote, btw. That was painful to type. Ah, the fun of unedited ARCs.)

TL;DR – Didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t really recommend it, even though I appreciate the author’s vulnerability discussing what’s clearly a really uncomfortable subject for her. Like… really uncomfortable. As in she writes her boyfriend a letter asking him to try a very mundane thing because she’s too afraid to just ask. Yeah. And I do applaud her for exploring her sexuality and becoming more knowledgeable rather than just continuing down an unfulfilling and narrow path in that area of her life.


Get Your Shit Together

Amazon * Goodreads

I actually got this from NetGalley several months ago, read 75%, and then got distracted by library books that my holds finally came through on. But then last month I was at the mall (those still exist!) and stopped in a cute store and saw this display:


Thanks for the reminder that I needed to finish the book and review it, universe! Of course, by that point I’d read like 4 other books and had totally forgotten most of what I’d read, so I started over.

A lot of the advice is obvious (“Break things up into manageable chunks!”) but I think that we often pick up this kind of book more for the motivation it provides than for brand new ideas. The only real implementable takeaway I picked up was timing how long tasks *actually* take so that you can be way more accurate planning out your schedule.  I was pretty on point with my estimations for how long some items on my to-do list would take, and SO FAR OFF on others.


Currently reading: I just started “This Fight is Our Fight“, which is Elizabeth Warren’s new book. I’m on the #Warren2020 train so hard. I do wish that my library would’ve had the audiobook available because I really liked her reading of her last book, but texty Warren is still excellent.


Head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what like a bazillion other bloggers have been reading! (Or almost 50. Close enough, math is hard.)