Friday Favs on a Monday

Happy Monday, Internet Friends!

I somehow have four jobs now (?!), so I’ve practically disappeared from the blog and social media these past few weeks! I’ll figure it out eventually, right? I was supposed to have Friday off and was planning to do my usual Friday Favs, but I wound up doing a thousand things (including work), so I figured Monday is better late than never!

Here area few recent favorites, and I’ll try to catch you up on everything else soon!

 

1. Back in August,聽 found a new place offering trail rides in Branson and went out to review it for my blog.I mentioned to them that I might be interested in part time work if something ever came up. Well, that happened a couple of weeks ago, so now I actually get paid to ride through beautiful terrain on awesome horses a few times a week.

 

Not a bad gig.

 

2. Fall stuff is everywhere and I am here for it.

The return of Target birds!

\

Cute bottles at Michael’s. I need to go back and get the black cat one!

 

3.

 

Sticking with the fall theme, Chewy sent my cats a 6-pack of Solid Gold Triple Layer Mousse and Shreds with Real Salmon & Pumpkin Wet Cat Food to review for their Chewy Influencer program. Tennyson is my pickiest eater and he LOVED this stuff, so he ended up getting most of them to himself. Each little cup has three layers so your cat gets a variety of flavors and textures in their meal.

 

 

4. I’ve started reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I don’t like the play format as much as the original books (I miss being able to get inside the characters’ heads), but it is nice to be back in that world!

 

I’m going to cut the list short at just 4 things for today.聽See you again on Friday with a less late Favs post!

Friday Favs – September

Happy Friday, friends!

.I’ve been SO busy with my new job this week that I haven’t had much time for anything else, but I’m excited about all of the fall stuff that’s showing up in stores!

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately!

 

 

1. I finally gave in and started playing the Hogwarts Mystery game last week, and of course I’m totally addicted. I am, of course, a Ravenclaw.

 

Nerd.

If you do play, be sure to connect the game to your Facebook profile. I’d been playing about a week and finally looked up tips online and saw that the game apparently has a huge tendency to randomly reset, so when you open it to continue your game, it instead acts like you’re starting a brand new game. I’m SO glad I read the tip, because I’d just connected my account on Monday morning, and when I opened it again a few hours later, it opened to the character creation screen. I would have been so sad to lose an entire week of progress!

Do any of you guys play? Any fellow Ravenclaws in the house?

 

 

2. Speaking of HP, Pottery Barn has a whole new Harry Potter-themed collection, and I need so many of the items in my life ASAP.

 

 

Glow in the dark Marauder’s Map pillow? YES PLEASE.

Of course, Pottery Barn gonna Pottery Barn, so everything is super expensive (as in $30 for a pillowcase). And then you get gems like this:

 

Hello, please admire my $200 beanbag chair.聽

(If you scroll down, you learn it’s $139 if you just want the slipcover, $239 if you want the beanbag insert inside. I’m pretty sure you could just buy some nice gold fabric and a regular beanbag chair and make your own for like $50 at the most.)

 

3. PUMPKIN SPICE IS HERE.

I tried to make my first PSL of the season pic more interesting with a rad robot background, but I’m still pretty basic. Oh well.

 

4. Allow me to present the best image I encountered on the internets this week:

 

Apologies for not knowing the original source.

 

5. I don’t have a #5 yet and I need to get ready for work, so shoutout in advance to the huge amount of sleep I plan to do when I finally get a day off!

Hope your weekend is lovely!

 

Friday blog linkup

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Friday Favs – The Busiest Week!

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been such a busy week here! I missed posting last Friday because I had a job interview. After an 8 year break from the hospitality industry, I’m working front desk part time again! I’m still writing, but the rollercoaster of freelance income has been so stressful lately that I realized that getting a “normal person job” a couple of days a week would save me SO much financial worry. Today is my third day of training, so still a lot to learn. A lot of it is the same no matter where you work, it’s mostly a matter of learning a new computer system and that particular hotel’s way of doing things. Having an income I can count on and plan around is going to be such a nice change!

If you missed it, I posted last week about my visit to Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, MO. I’d love for you to check out the post!

 

 

1. As you probably know if you read my Friday posts, I started taking English riding lessons last November. I still love it (although I haven’t had the time or money for them this summer, which I’ve been kinda ok with since it has been a million degrees), but oh man do I miss riding Western sometimes! I’ve been craving a good trail ride so I freaked out when I found Pot A Gold Stables on Instagram a few weeks ago. They’re brand new to the Branson area (opened just a few months ago) and I’ll be writing a whole post about them soon, but there’s no way I could do a weekly favorites post without mentioning the nicest part of my week! The scenery was gorgeous, the horses were great, we saw tons of deer, and just getting to go on a relaxing trail ride instead of working my bootie off in lessons was such a nice break! Big thumbs up! I’d love to go back for one of their sunset rides sometime – if the ride was that pretty in the middle of the afternoon, can you imagine golden hour light and sunset views? It must be beautiful! (As I’ll also mention when I do my full post, they did hook me up with a complimentary ride in exchange for spreading the word, but including them in this post is entirely just because I had such a great time!)

 

2. I usually buy gallon jugs of spring water since I go through it so quickly, but it looks a little weird to lug a big jug around with you. I found this cute water bottle at Dollar Tree last week, which yes, means it was $1! It holds quite a bit of water – more than a standard water bottle but not quite a liter, I think. Love having a better option than just re-using my single use plastic bottles!

 

3. Can we take a moment to appreciate how great Captain Kitten is at modeling the products we get to review for the Chewy Influencer program?

That tongue! He knows what happens when he’s done modeling: time to sample the food for reviews!

This month, Chewy was kind enough to send us a variety pack of the Science Diet Adult Savory Entree wet cat food. The description says the food is minced, but it’s really more of a super moist, nice quality pate. Our variety pack had three flavors: Turkey, Chicken, and Turkey & Liver. As usual, most of the cats were down for anything, but Tennyson – the pickiest of eaters – wan’t into the turkey flavor. (Turkey & Liver was gobbled up, but plain turkey just wasn’t his thing. Cats are weird.)

 

I’ve worked with Hills a few times outside of the Chewy review program, and I’m always so impressed by them. They make high quality food that my cats love, and they give back to animal shelters. Gotta love that! This particular food is made in the USA from natural ingredients, and enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for a healthy kitty. It’s also designed to support their metabolism and maintain a healthy weight. Chewy also sells 24-packs of the individual flavors that are included, so I’d suggest starting with a 12 can variety pack to see what your cats like the most, and then if one flavor is a clear winner, you can order multi-packs of just that one, and if they like all three equally you can stick with variety packs to keep their dinner routine interesting.

 

 

4. I stopped by Bath & Body Works last week to redeem one of the free mini product coupons they send out every few months, and freaked out over how cute all of their new Halloween stuff is! The temptation to buy everything with a black cat on it (and every fall-scented candle they had) was huge, but I held off for now. There’s now way I’m making it through the season without at least picking up a cute Halloween themed hand sanitizer, though.

 

 

5. Speaking of Halloween… HALLOWEEN OREOS ARE BACK. The limited edition flavors they’ve been coming out with are fine, but these are the real MVP. The package claims they taste the same as regular Oreos, but I think we all know that’s a lie. These are the best! Now please excuse me while I go eat 20 packages of these before they go away again.

 

That’s it for this week! I’m still adjusting to having a whole new work schedule and trying to fit my freelance writing and blog stuff and like, remembering to feed myself around it. Seriously looking forward to having a few days off the beginning of next week! (And now that I don’t need to write 99 hours a day, I can actually take the occasional day OFF from everything! That’s super exciting for someone who is used to going months without a totally work-free day.) Hope your weekend is fantastic!

 

Friday blog linkup

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Fantastic Caverns

 

A fun fact that most people don’t know: Missouri is FULL of caves. Over 6,000 of them, to be more specific. Only 16 offer tours, and one of those, Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, Missouri, offers a ride-through tour on a tram.

Fantastic Caverns is America’s only ride-through cave. This is a BIG deal – there are only a handful of ride-through caves in the entire world! I love exploring caves but most require visitors to be in pretty good shape physically, since you’re likely to be stooping down to fit through low passages, climbing stairs and inclines, and generally on your feet for around an hour. The pathways are sometimes narrow, low, and inclined in order to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible, but this makes them inaccessible to a lot of people – those with mobility disabilities, elderly visitors, small children who can’t walk through on their own, etc. So while I totally understand why not every cave can offer a more accessible tour, it’s awesome that there’s at least one cave that pretty much anyone can visit comfortably!

As you guys might have noticed, I always try to include as much info as possible to help travelers with disabilities or other special circumstances plan their trips, since I know that can be hard to find. If you have any questions that I don’t cover, feel free to reach out in the comments or email! (And yes, the trams have ramps so they’re wheelchair accessible! You may want to check with them if you have a chair that’s especially wide or tall, though.) I just learned while browsing their Facebook that the tour is even dog-friendly, so this is also a perfect choice for anyone with a service dog or even just a well-behaved furry traveling companion!

As you might remember from my summer posts, this spring and summer have been SO HOT, so I started looking around for local attractions that doubled as a great place to cool off. The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau was kind enough to send me a press pass that allowed me to visit Fantastic Caverns so I could report back to you guys with some honest feedback and tips for visiting.

 

 

Getting To Fantastic Caverns:

Ignore what Siri is telling you to do. She doesn’t know your life. Follow the signs instead. (Basically, if GPS tries to send you on a weird loop to the west of town, ignore that and either take Kansas Expressway up past the fairgrounds or use I-44 exit 77. ALL of the Fantastic Caverns signs say exit 77, so of course my phone yelled at me when I didn’t take exit 75 like it wanted me to.) Just be prepared for the fact that you’re going to feel like you’re heading out into the middle of nowhere and driving a few miles down farm roads. Caves don’t really keep visitor convenience in mind when they’re forming.聽馃槀

 

馃幎聽I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes…聽馃幎

 

Fantastic Caverns Tours:

The cave is open almost every day of the year (closed Thanksgiving and December 24th & 25th) from 8 a.m. until around dusk (so 4 p.m. in the winter and 8 p.m. in the summer) and tours go out about every 20-30 minutes, so you can arrive whenever you’d like and you probably won’t have much of a wait before your tour departs. I had about 15 minutes, which gave me time to use the restroom, browse the gift shop, and check out some of the educational material in the waiting area. (They have some really cool books that you can flip through!) There’s also a vending machine with bottled soda, tea, lemonade, and water available at really reasonable prices (as in $1 – $1.50). In fact, all of the gift shop prices seemed really reasonable. They had baseball caps for $5, and lots of cool gemstones for around $1-2 each.

 

These agate pieces were $1.50. They also had turquoise and rose quartz (among others) for 99 cents.

 

When tour time rolls around, everyone boards a tram that holds around 30 people. Here’s a peek at what those look like:

 

The tour guide is also your driver, so sitting towards the front can make it easier to hear, but the cave acoustics are pretty good so I don’t think sitting towards the back will affect the ability to hear what’s being said much, if at all. I sat at the front of the large part of the tram, and I did notice a bit of a fuel smell up there. (The trams are powered by clean-burning propane in an attempt to preserve the cave as much as possible.)

The tour travels a path carved out by an ancient river and makes a loop that goes about half a mile into the cave and then back out in a sort of horseshoe shape. The lower part of the cave system, which is much larger and contains creatures like cave crayfish and tri-colored bats, is not visited during the tour.

 

A Bit of Fantastic Caverns History:

Although the cave was discovered in 1862 by a farmer and his dog, it wasn’t explored until 1867 when twelve women answered an ad seeking people to investigate the cave. Can we pause and acknowledge how badass those women were? Can you imagine going into a big dark cave with only candlelight and NO idea what you might find in there? The women wrote their names on the cave walls, and those were eventually traced over to preserve them. You’ll see them on the tour!

 

The caverns served as a speakeasy during prohibition, and in the 50s it became a popular concert hall due to the awesome acoustics. The room pictured below is known as the Auditorium, and was the site of countless concerts.

 

 

The jeep-driven tours began in 1961, and have been going strong ever since. I visited once on a school trip in the late 80s or early 90s, but didn’t remember much from that visit , so I was excited to see what was waiting below ground.

 

The Tour!

The cave tour takes approximately one hour and is a fantastic introduction to caves. I thought they did a great job of teaching about caves – how different formations grow, the history, etc – without overwhelming visitors with too much info.

One amusing note:聽 You’re welcome to take as many photos as you like, and the guide mentioned that flash photos are allowed. I tried that in one spot, but I should’ve known better! If you’ve ever tried to take a flash photo in a super humid place, you already know what happened.

Majestic, isn’t it?聽馃槀

Here’s almost the same photo without the flash:

 

The lighting in the cave is designed to illuminate the cool formations (In 2017 they replaced their incandescent bulbs with LEDs for environmental reasons), so you’re likely to get pretty good photos without the flash, especially when the tram is stopped, which is often. However, the mix of dark cave and lighted formations probably isn’t going to result in phenomenal photos if you’re using your phone or a basic point-and-shoot camera. The pics in this post were taken with my dinosaur of an iPhone 5s. I didn’t get any amazing shots, but overall the quality was pretty decent given that I was photographing things that were usually 20+ feet away in weird light. Also on that note, if you don’t know, caves are wet. Don’t bring in a camera that you’re not ok with an occasional large drop of water falling on.

Take a look at those formations above and then consider this: they grow at an average rate of one cubic inch per 100 years. And those guys above? They’re pretty big. For scale:

Tour guide near formations for scale.聽

There is one formation that they know the exact age of! Back in 1941, this concrete cylinder was added to the cave. (We were told why, but I’ve completely forgotten.) Since it reaches through the roof of the cave and allows water in, formations started to grow around it. Sorry for the bad photo, but again, caves aren’t awesome lighting for pics! But the little formations that reach out from the pole are now 3/4 inch long. After 77 years. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the huge ones in other photos!

 

 

Here’s one more to give you the scope of how old some of these cave formations are:

 

The smaller stalactites seem unremarkable until you think about how it took them almost a millennia to get THAT big. It was also fascinating to learn that we were 90-120 feet below ground! It never felt like we were descending much, but the entrance to the cave is set into a hill, so you’re a good 30-ish feet? (I’m estimating) underground from the beginning.

 

Although you’re WAY underground, the cave is high and wide enough in most places that I doubt anyone would experience claustrophobia. You do go under a few low ceilings where taller people need to watch their heads, but there are no tight, enclosed spaces on the tour. (Passages can often be cramped on walk-through tours, so again, this is a great option for those worried about doing a cave tour for that reason.)

 

 

While we’re talking about possible worries, there is one brief part where the tour guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. There’s so much ambient light now that the only places you can truly experience total darkness with ZERO light is deep within a cave or way down in the ocean. The darkness is maybe 10-15 seconds? There were some small children in our group and they seemed to handle it well (The guide had them count down 3…2…1… to the lights going out, which I think helps), but if you’re traveling with kids you know them best – if they’re hardcore afraid of the dark, just keep this in mind. There are also brief demonstrations of what exploring by candlelight would have looked like, but otherwise the tour has plenty of lighting.

(I’m trying co cover all of the bases for anxious adventurers, but if I’ve left anything out feel free to ask!)

 

 

It’s about 60 degrees inside Fantastic Caverns year-round, so keep that in mind when planning your visit! It’s a perfect way to cool off a bit on a super hot summer day. I wore jeans and a 3/4-sleeve top and was perfectly comfortable. I almost brought a jacket since I worried I’d be cold, but it never felt chilly in there – just pleasantly cool.聽 (Maybe the lack of wind helps?)

This was one of my favorite spots. It’s called the Breakdown Room, because the ceiling has fallen in several times. It looks pretty sound now- look at that super sturdy column holding things up on the left!聽馃槀

 

 

Souvenir photos of your tour group are taken inside the cave, and are available at the end of the tour for $12. (I believe they were 5×7’s in a cardboard folder-style frame.) Afterwards, you’re free to wander the visitor’s center, and there’s even a 1/2 mile trail down to a spring that I really wish I’d had time to check out! (There was a huge storm rolling in around the time my tour ended, so I was hoping to make the hour drive home before it hit. I totally failed at that!)

 

 

As you’re leaving, there are again signs to point you back towards I-44 and Kansas Expressway, which I appreciated since you really are kind of in the middle of nowhere. There’s also a really nice park called Ritter Springs Park just down the road. I stopped for a few minutes and found that there’s some great playground equipment and what looked like a gorgeous trail that I sadly didn’t have time to explore due to the aforementioned impending storm.

A little extra info: Tickets are聽$24 for adults, $17 for children, and kids under 5 are free. This is a little higher than most other local caves I’m familiar with (Talking Rocks in Branson West is $19 for adults, Onyx Cave in Arkansas is $8, and Cosmic Cavern in Arkansas is $16), but the perk of getting to ride through is worth the extra cost, if you ask me, especially if it means your whole travel group gets to do something together vs. some family members or friends having to sit it out.

Fantastic Caverns is just a few minutes from Dickerson Park Zoo, which I wrote about a little over a year ago (that post is here!) so if you’re visiting Springfield, the two would be a perfect combination for a day of educational fun!

Check out the Fantastic Caverns Website for more history and updated info on hours, visit their Facebook page for lots of great info and videos, and of course, Instagram for pretty pictures.

Feel free to ask me any questions that I missed answering down in the comments I’m planning to write about some other caves in the Ozarks soon, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, just ask!

Show Us Your Books – August Edition

 

Happy Show Us Your Books Link-up Day! Spoiler alert: I didn’t *love* anything I read this month. And I get really wordy in my reviews. (But that’s nothing new.) Here we go!

 

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Goodreads * Amazon

Um, you guys? I read this back in June but forgot to include it in last month’s SUBY post because I completely forgot I read it. I re-opened it in mid-July and couldn’t figure out why my Kindle showed I was at the end. Didn’t I just read the first couple of chapters and then get distracted by something else? Nope.

This is one of those psychological thrillers where I figured out the twist REALLY early on, but then convinced myself that I had to be wrong. This does get bonus points for having a really good red herring, but overall it was just ok. The ending was a little too unbelievable to be satisfying. I reviewed “Behind Closed Doors” by the sane author back in August of 2016 (wow it doesn’t seem like that long ago!) and I think I enjoyed that one more. Not sure I’ll pick up a third one by this author, though.

(Complimentary e-book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Decluttering At the Speed of Life

Goodreads * Amazon

Clutter is something I’ve been dealing with in a major way lately. If you didn’t know, I’m living in my mom’s house while she’s in a nursing home, but a lot of factors have prevented me from ever really “nesting” here, mostly that she wants to move back home as soon as she’s strong enough to, and that I want to move back to Florida as soon as I can afford to. The main problem is that my mom has SO MUCH STUFF everywhere that there’s not really room for *my* stuff, too, so the house pretty much always looks cluttered. (For instance, since every dresser and closet is packed full of her stuff, I’ve picked up little plastic bins at the dollar store that I’ve organized socks, underwear, t-shirts, etc. into.)

I’ve also realized in the past year or so that unless an item either makes my life easier or is really useful, I’m probably not going to get that much joy out of it. Cute decorative thing? Meh. Extra phone charger that I can just leave in the car so I can keep my main one at home? SO WORTH IT.

So hey! A book on dealing with clutter!

This book strives to make decluttering really simple by establishing basic boundaries and practices. For example, if you have a sock drawer, you’re limited to the number of socks that will fit in that drawer. Seems obvious, but how many of us have tons of “homeless” objects because we have more than will fit into their designated space? Her methods remove most of the emotion from decluttering. Rather than “does this pair of socks bring joy to my heart?”, it’s more, “Okay, my sock drawer holds 20 pairs of socks, so which 20 do I use most often or like the most?”

You know how there are a lot of Self Help books that don’t really have revolutionary new ideas, but they still motivate you to change by whacking you over the head with basic things you already know (at least on some level) until they sink in? That’s where this book falls. It’s hard not to read a page about cleaning out your pantry without wanting to go check for expired food that might be lurking in yours.

I do wish they had included checklists in each section. Most chapters follow the structure of following a de-cluttering process in a specific room or area of your home. While the steps of the process are firmly stuck in your head by the end of the book, it would have been useful to have something to glance at as you worked on that room when you get overwhelmed and need a nudge in the right direction.

I did love the quote, “There’s a difference between something being useful and actually using something.” I also liked when she addressed people who may be dealing with physical limitations (from mobility disabilities to anxiety that makes things like decluttering super hard) with “Do what you can, whenever you can, as often as you can.” I can sometimes only handle 5 minutes at a time without getting overwhelmed and exhausted, but if I do those five minutes as often as possible, real progress happens.

I think that with this kind of book, it’s all about finding the one that offers a method that really speaks to聽you. If other decluttering books haven’t worked for you, this one is worth picking up – it might be the one that finally hits home. I liked it well enough, but it wasn’t one that resonated strongly with me.

(Complimentary review copy via NetGalley)

 

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Goodreads * Amazon

So.. this book. The cover and title caught my eye on NetGalley and it sounded kind of interesting, but I’ve been trying to only request books I REALLY want to read so I passed on it. But then I saw a couple of people highly recommend it online, so I went back like a month later and downloaded it. I am so sorry about how long this review is going to be, but….arrrrgh.

This is one of those instances where judging by how the author writes, I’m supposed to know who she is? But starting out, I have zero clue. I eventually deduce that she’s a lifestyle blogger, but… dude. I’ve been in this blogging thing since 1999, so I’ve seen more “famous” bloggers come and go than I can even begin to count, and bloggers with followers in the bazillions are a dime a dozen now. Given the “you probably think this and that about me” tone, I’m guessing the intended audience is mostly her blog readers, not the public at large?

I looked this up on Amazon to get the link for this post fairly early on in reading it, and noticed that 94% of its almost 3,000 reviews are 5 stars. Am I the only one that gets a little suspicious about that kind of thing? I mean, even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (which is obviously the best one in the series) only has 76% five star ratings. I later learned that the author promised to reply to anyone who left a review and sent her a screenshot of it, so out of 300k Instagram followers, it totally makes sense that 1% were happy to type up some lavish praise in exchange for a message from someone they like following. (I read through a LOT of reviews to try to figure out what the hype was. I do find it amusing that most of the two and three star ones said it was either too religious or not religious enough.)

Overall, I was pretty “meh” on the book. The topics are kind of all over the place, it often feels more like a memoir than a self-improvement book (and a lot of her personal life stories seem pointless and mundane), and while the author seems to try to be relatable by sharing her “flaws” and referring to readers as “girl” and “sister” (?), she’s just… not. At one point she describes getting Bell’s palsy, which temporarily paralyzes part of her face, while on vacation in Paris. She literally says, “I’ve never felt sorrier for myself than in that moment” to describe when she was getting her photo taken in front of the Eiffel Tower because she had to wear sunglasses and couldn’t smile normally. I don’t know about y’all, but the most “poor me” moments of my life have totally been on multi-country European vacations, too.聽 (I learned from reading reviews that her husband used to be a Disney exec, so… they’re doing pretty okay in the dollars department. I feel like authors in that category often don’t understand how impractical their life advice might seem to other 99% of the population, and how we might be less impressed by your successes knowing how many huge advantages you had that helped you achieve them.)

I think that the main problem with books written by bloggers or YouTubers is that they have so many people who comment on everything they post saying how brilliant and perfect and inspirational they are that they begin to, at least on some level, truly believe it. Most people with even a moderate following can Instagram a picture of their morning coffee and get a hundred, “OMG I want to be you, you’re so perfect.” comments. Most chapters felt like she just wasn’t qualified to be offering advice on the topic she was covering. (The chapter on diversity is cringe-worthy, and the chapter on fitness is horrifying. She refers to losing weight as, “literally the easiest thing in the world.” Did you guys know that you just need to burn more calories than you consume? That’s it!)

She writes about how raw it feels to share with the book’s readers about things like the way she allowed herself to be treated in her first relationship (before the guy magically became awesome overnight and she wound up marrying him?), but the unhealthy relationship that it’s so embarrassing to write about? Sounds like almost any 19-year old’s first relationship. Of course you did stupid things to try to make sure he liked you – you were a teenager who had never been on a date! So many of the stories in the book are along those lines – completely un-noteworthy. Things you’d probably tell your best friend about when they happened, but not at all the kind of thing you’d still be talking about years later.

Overall? I think this would have been much better off as a memoir with a bit of “inspiration” mixed in than an attempt at giving advice. A good self improvement or motivational book is about the reader, while this is 95% about the author and 5% “You can, too!” Since the writing is clearly aimed at people who are already fans of hers, I think it would have been just as successful in sales if it was written as a memoir and could have avoided the “let me tell you how to live despite having zero qualification to do so” thing. Also might be better if she’d picked a side on it being a religious book or not, since as I mentioned above she seemed to annoy people on both sides by trying to straddle that line.

Again, sorry for the novel of a review, but the inflated ratings make me want to put a truly honest review out there to balance things out a tiny bit. I read a bunch of 1-3 star reviews that were like, “I saw that this was a bestseller and got amazing reviews so I bought it… am I the only person that doesn’t understand the hype?” I’m not trying to be harsh or look down on anyone who DID love it and got inspiration from it. That’s awesome. I just want to save others who get a few chapters in and start thinking, “This isn’t great. What am I missing? Everyone else seems to love it, it must get way better.” from wasting precious dollars and reading hours. I didn’t hate it, and some chapters were interesting to read, but it’s not the masterpiece that reviews seem to imply.

 

A note unrelated to the actual book: I will *never* request a title from this publisher again, because someone thought it was a great idea to put notes about the ARC being copyrighted material in the middle of the text on EVERY SINGLE PAGE. Advance copies generally have a note about it being an uncorrected proof and not quoting the text without checking the final copy at the very beginning of the book, but I’ve never seen one have anything after that, let alone on literally every page. To make it worse, something got messed up in the formatting so instead of “DO NOT DUPLICATE”, in the middle of a random sentence you’d have the word NOT (which often made me think the author was being sarcastic) and then in the middle of the next line, “DO DUPLICATE”. It’s impossible to get into a book when you’re trying to read a sentence and you get yelled at by caps lock words on LITERALLY EVERY PAGE.

 

 

Before now, my biggest pet peeve for ARCs was when the publisher didn’t at least give it a perfunctory run through Grammarly or something before releasing it into the world to thousands of reviewers, but this was so, so much worse. Imagine going to the screening of a movie and someone’s phone blaring the original Nokia ringtone every two minutes. At first you’re like “Wow, that’s annoying, but surely they’ll fix it soon?” but then no. Every two minutes. It rings during the quiet, sad moment. It rings during the hero’s dramatic monologue. You seriously consider just walking out of the theater after 20 minutes (or in my case, after 5% of the book), but you want to at least try to see what happens. Still, you can only put like 70% of your energy, at best, on trying to concentrate on the plot, because the other 30% of your brain is busy plotting ways to kill the idiot with the phone set to super loud ringer.

And it’s not like this is a new Harry Potter book or something. I’ve seen a couple of people mention it online, but it’s not a book with big hype. Chill, publisher dudes. Nobody was considering duplicating it. Judging by other ARC reviews I saw on NetGalley, they just annoyed the hell out of reviewers (and probably caused a TON of people to give up on trying to read it) for no reason. Uggggh.
(end rant)

(Complimentary review copy via NetGalley)

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Goodreads * Amazon

 

The recent movie adaptation made me want to re-read this, so I got the ebook from my library. I know we read it in 4th grade, and I may have re-read it sometime after that, but I had zero memory of what happens. Like, ZERO. And it was nothing at all like I expected, but still a fun re-read as an adult. I can’t help but wonder how much of it I understood as an 8 or 9-year old? I know it made a big impact at the time because it was so different from any other books I’d read, and even now when sci-fi and fantasy are way more prevalent, it stands out as unique. It wasn’t as amazing as I remember it being, but if you, too, haven’t read it in a few decades, it’s a fun way to pass an afternoon. (And I’d be curious if you have the same, “Wait, did I understand any of this as a kid?” reaction, too!)

 

That’s it for me this month! Head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!