Read/Watch/Listen: May 2019

Y’all. I survived the spring. It’s officially summer vacation 😎 (Of course, “summer vacation” to me means working one job instead of two, but still.) I’m also officially 31, which for some reason feels a lot older than 30. Case in point: when I go to a show now, my ears ring for 2-3 days afterwards 😳 Do I just give in and become THAT person with ear plugs? Do cool ones exist so the 17-year-old version of myself isn’t totally mortified? #halp

Read

Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell

YA fiction makes me the happiest these days. It’s so much more swoon-worthy than new adult fiction. It also makes me nostalgic because I met MPR when I was 18, so I automatically see bits of our story in all books and movies that center around teens and young 20-somethings. But I digress. I’m a sucker for a coming-of-age story. I love to cheer characters on and applaud their personal growth. I love to imagine where the characters go and what they do after the last sentence of the last chapter on the last page. Rainbow Rowell is good at ending stories in a way that doesn’t tie everything up in a perfect bow, but gives you confidence that all the characters are going to be okay. Fun fact: Rainbow Rowell wrote this book as a passion project during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). So if you’ve ever thought about giving it a shot – I say GO FOR IT!

This “review” was vague, but I give it 4/5 ⭐️ A great college nerd love story that also tackles some heavy family issues. (Disclaimer: I also probably loved this book because the dad works at an advertising agency.)

Watch

Dead to Me on Netflix

MPR and I blew through this first season in one week. Maybe 10 days, tops. Christina Applegate is AMAZING in this dark comedy/suspense about the murder of her husband. And let’s not forget Linda Cardellini, who was the girl we all HATED in Boy Meets World, but then won my heart in Freaks and Geeks. (Side note: If you have not seen Freaks and Geeks, add this to your list pronto.) It was just renewed for season 2, so dive in without worry of being left on an unfinished cliffhanger.

Aladdin

Yup, we went to see the new Aladdin on opening weekend. And it was MAGICAL ✨ Disney did a fantastic job of bringing this classic animated film to life. It stayed true to the original story, yet added some 2019 #feminism upgrades that felt natural – including a new song for Jasmine. And Will Smith did an excellent job with the role of Genie, who had some very big shoes to fill, to say the least. Go see it in the theaters – it’s worth it 🍿

Free Throw

Listen

Young Culture

We went to a very small show at the new Amos’ Southend for Seaway, Free Throw, Heart Attack Man and Young Culture. This was one of those rare shows that I went into with no knowledge of any of the bands (MPR randomly bought tickets) and while it was a good time, Young Culture was my absolute favorite. And NOT just because they’re from Albany, NY! (Which of course we bonded over.) Pop-punk bops at their finest. Give them a stream. (Also, Heart Attack Man has some serious 90s grunge vibes, so if that’s your scene, give them a listen.)

Songs that Saved My Life

Also late to the party on this one (guess that’s the new normal when you hit 30), but Hopeless Records put out a compilation cover album (think: Punk Goes Pop) to benefit mental health awareness and suicide prevention. And that album is good in and of itself, but there’s also a Spotify playlist by them with around 80 songs that I’m guessing is added to by their staff. The description is: “These are the songs that saved our lives and we will be adding more each and every day! Tweet or post yours with the hashtag #SongsThatSavedMyLife.” SOLID playlist. The next time you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, throw this on. Lots of good throwbacks in there, as well as current songs. 🤘

Side note: I’ve also been feeling Neck Deep lately 🌸

Read/Watch/Listen: April 2019

January–April 2019 felt a lot like treading water. Between planning the PRSA Charlotte Symposium, teaching at UNC Charlotte, preparing for my APR Panel Presentation, volunteering with the Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center, showing up for my husband at his Isles Meet-ups and meeting client expectations at my day job, my life has been full and vibrant, but now I’m very much looking forward to taking a step back this summer. (And hopefully spending a lot more quality time with my Kindle – preferably poolside.)

Here’s what I’ve got to show for myself in March/April.

Read

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Yikes. I gave this one 2/5 ⭐️ But it’s nothing against the author – I think this genre (modern romance) is just not my cup of tea! ☕️ I saw this book all over my Instagram feed and it was even endorsed by Reese Witherspoon’s book club, but to me, it was predictable and boring, the dialogue didn’t feel natural, and the main characters were painfully immature. But, like I said, it was all over Instagram, so maybe it’s just me 🤷🏻‍♀️

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

I have mixed feelings about this book – just as many people have mixed feelings about Rachel Hollis. I just discovered her this past fall when I read her first book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and absolutely loved it. So when I saw she was releasing a second book, I preordered it immediately. Overall, this was a quick read and a good pep talk. BUT, I felt like it was rushed to capitalize on the success of her first book because it didn’t share a ton of new content and half of it felt like a response to all of the criticism she’s gotten over the past year. Some sections of the book felt forced, like she was simply regurgitating #feminism commentary from social media.

This sounds like a negative review, but after finishing this book, I immediately went out and took a giant step towards my biggest goal that’s been hanging out in the back of my mind since I was 15, so that should tell you something. 3/5 ⭐️

Watch

Catastrophe on Prime Video

The fourth season of Catastrophe recently came out on Amazon and MPR and I blew through it. This is one of the only shows that makes me straight up cackle every episode. I don’t really know how to describe it other than two terrible people who found each other, got married and had kids. Since I find them hilarious, maybe I am also a terrible person, but goodness is this a great stress reliever.

Workin’ Moms on Netflix

I am not yet a mom, so I can’t fully appreciate or relate to this show, yet I still find it very funny. Also somewhat depressing. But still funny. Apparently this is a Canadian show that is already in its third season, but is just now being gifted to us Americans on Netflix. So it’s a good investment in characters and storylines since you know you’ll be able to follow them for at least a few seasons. P.S. Why is it that every show has a woman who works at a PR agency? I feel very seen 👀

Listen

I would first like to share that MPR surprised me with a Spotify Premium family plan, and I feel like the fanciest lady in all the land. Perhaps we’re the last people on planet Earth to use the free Spotify subscription with ads, but this is coming from a girl who keeps the 6-CD changer in her car stacked, so I guess somewhere along the way I stopped keeping up with music technology 📻

“Adornment” by Grayscale

I’m late to the party on this pop-punk gem. We saw them on tour with State Champs in March and when they took the stage I instantly fell in love. Sometimes going into a show with zero knowledge of the opening bands is the greatest treat. I’m now a big Grayscale fan and am hoping that since “Adornment” came out in 2017, they’ll be gracing us with a new album this year.

“Midnight” by Set It Off

Another band where I must have been living under a rock to not acknowledge; however, I firmly believe that certain bands and albums come into your life at specific times for a reason, so I won’t question the music universe. We’ll be seeing Set It Off on tour with Emarosa this summer, and these two pop-heavy bands are going to make the best lineup ever. I can’t compare their newest album to any of their previous albums, but Midnight reminds me of new Fall Out Boy and pumps me up on my way to work.

Bar Down Breakdown Podcast

Disclaimer: MPR started a music/hockey podcast with his buddy Devin – BUT – it really is fantastic. They’re 15 episodes in and have landed some amazing interviews, including Nic Newsham from Gastby’s American Dream, Shane Told from Silverstein and Nick Ghanbarian from Bayside. Check it out if you love alternative music, hockey, or both! 🏒🎧

What are you reading/watching/listening to these days?

Read/Watch/Listen: March 2019

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

Read

I’ll admit it. My 2019 is off to a very slow start when it comes to reading. To be honest, I’ve been slow since last fall when I ramped up my work on the APR and started my second job as an adjunct lecturer. My weekends are now filled with grading and lesson planning and I have a whole new appreciation for teachers!

However, I did manage to read Fight or Flight by Samantha Young, which I received as a Christmas gift. Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars. It was light and entertaining and it held my attention, but I started to get sick of how self-absorbed the main character was. I also didn’t really find myself rooting for this couple to get together in the end. They’re both pretty insufferable. I think I may be a little old school when it comes to modern romance 🤷🏻‍♀️

Watch

I am more than fashionably late to the party, but Schitt’s Creek is the best Netflix discovery of ours in a long time. It stars Eugene Levy and his son and daughter in real life (as David and Twyla), but Catherine O’Hara makes the whole show. I crack up at her one-liners every single episode. This is a great show to throw on when you’re looking to unwind after work or if you need a laugh right before bed. 10/10 would recommend.

Listen

Call me an elder millennial, but I still prefer to buy physical CDs and keep the changer in my car stacked for my commute. However, I was starting to get into a new music slump after overplaying all of the great releases from this past summer. But THEN, “Peach Club” by Emarosa arrived and this 80s pop emo album has given me new life. These fantastic emo lyrics, ex. “I Want to Die With You” are set to 80s pop beats and melodies that will make you forget what sadness even feels like. Stream it now.

We have a few shows coming up in March so I’m hoping to pick up some more new music for my rotation! Any suggestions?

P.S. Buy the cute shirt above from my friends on Etsy.

The Best Things I Read/Watched/Listened to: March/April 2018

The Year of Less

Work took over my life these past two months. I missed a lot of lunch breaks, I had a lot of extracurriculars eating up my evenings, and we’ve had some pretty packed weekends. I also had a ‘vacation hangover’ that made it really hard to get back into our routine – I guess that’s what people mean when they say they need a vacation from their vacation. So I’m definitely behind on my reading. (And I had a bit of a backslide into my social media use.) But it’s a new month! And a fresh slate. So I’m getting back on track.

Here’s what I’ve been up to these past two months:

READ:

The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

This was like a southern version of Girls in White Dresses. I had a tough time getting into this book at first because I couldn’t relate to any of the characters – they were all very young, and not at all motivated outside of their romantic relationships. But there was a ton of character development and by the end I was cheering them on. A great story about female friendship.

The Assistants by Camille Perri

This was a light, fun read! Who can’t relate to working in a male-dominated office and fantasizing about the day your student loans are paid off? Sure, a little unrealistic, but what fun is a book without a happy ending?

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

I can’t resist a minimalism story. In this memoir, personal finance blogger Cait Flanders details her year-long shopping ban. For one year, she did not allow herself to buy anything outside of groceries, toiletries, and other necessities. A huge takeaway for me was that she learned the most important question she needs to ask herself before making a purchase is: “Who are you buying this for: the person you are, or the person you want to be?”  I don’t know about you, but this is so much more effective than, “Does this spark joy?”

Here’s another good quote to ponder over a glass of wine tonight:

“I had always been stuck in the cycle of wanting more, buying more, and then needing more money. The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide you want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.”

WATCH:

Alone Together on Freeform

This might be the most underrated show on television as I haven’t heard anything about it, but it’s HILARIOUS. It highlights all of the painful, cringe-worthy stereotypes of millennials and each episode had me cracking up, especially Esther.

 

LISTEN:

The new Slaves album, “Beautiful Death”

Jonny Craig is back! This was by far the best album I’ve heard from him, maybe since his solo record he released during my senior year of college.

The new State Champs single, “Dead and Gone”

I have a feeling their new album is going to be the soundtrack to my summer. I especially love the lines: “I need to get UPSTATE again, I need to get my head on straight again.”

SaveSave

The best things I read/watched/listened to: February 2018

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

I have a love/hate relationship with Goodreads. It helps me find and save books I want to read, but the reviews are always so negative! For example, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close has terrible reviews, but I’m so glad that I went ahead and read it anyway, because it quickly became one of my favorites.

I don’t have any “friends” on Goodreads, I mostly just look up books and add them to my “to read” shelf, but if you have an account and want to sync up, here’s my profile!

February was a short month, but I managed to fit in a lot! Here are my recommendations from the past month.

Read:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This is a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice – not just a Pride & Prejudice-esque storyline, but literally all of the same characters, but set in modern times. At first I thought that messing with Jane Austen was a little sacrilegious, but this book is so lovely. Apparently there’s a whole series called  The Austen Project, and Emma is next on my list.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

SWOON. Rom-coms are my favorite genre of everything, and this book did not disappoint. The main characters are journalists, of course, (why are leading ladies of rom-coms always working at newspapers or magazines?) and it’s set in 1999 when the newsroom first got email. However, the story follows the IT guy who reads all of their emails. It sounds a little creepy, but this was a quick read and delivered my happily ever after. I was thoroughly satisfied (and warm & fuzzy).

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I was really excited for this book because it’s a YA novel about teens in the 80s who make mix tapes for each other and fall in love on the bus. I mean, could a novel be more perfect? However, it didn’t have a satisfying enough ending for me. Maybe the author is setting it up for a sequel?

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

This book is the perfect depiction of modern girls in their 20s. It follows a group of college friends from graduation through their 30th birthdays, and maybe it’s because all of my friends and I are turning 30 this year, but this book really resonated with me. I saw so much of myself and my friends in all of these characters. (And it made me miss them dearly.)

Watch:

Ingrid Goes West

This movie gave me the heebie-jeebies. It’s like Single White Female for the Instagram era, where Aubrey Plaza plays a girl who becomes a little too obsessed with an influencer. After watching this movie, I immediately made my Instagram account private and deleted all of my followers who I didn’t know in real life. Not that I’m an influencer in ANY sense of the word, but it makes you think twice about what you post online. It’s available on Hulu and is a great satire of the social media world we now live in.

When We First Met

This Netflix original movie starring Adam DeVine (from Workaholics and Pitch Perfect) had all the makings of a classic rom-com. It explores the concept of who we’re “meant to be” with through time travel. What do you expect? I loved it. (Duh.)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

This Amazon original series definitely deserves all of the awards it has won. Rachel Brosnahan is a treasure who perfectly plays a 1950s housewife in NYC who decides to become a stand-up comic after her husband leaves her (and their two kids) for his secretary. It dragged a little in the middle, but it survived the Amazon curse of getting cancelled after one season (RIP Z and Good Girls Revolt), as they’re starting to film season two this month. Also, I’m going to need her entire wardrobe. Can some fashion house create a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel line?

Listen:

Chase Atlantic

I have this new guilty pleasure called Chase Atlantic. It’s an Australian alternative/indie band that also has a saxophone player and some naughty lyrics. Listening to their EPs felt like the first time I heard Say Anything back in high school. They describe themselves as “dark alternative pop punctuated by rock and R&B.” I don’t know why I love it so much, but I got really excited when I saw they were playing Warped Tour this year. (Can you believe I plan on going to my first and last Warped Tour at age 30?)

What’s on your list for March?

The best things I read/watched/listened to: January 2018

I Married Adventure Kate Spade

ICYMI, my 2018 resolution is to do more things that make me forget to check my phone. My goal is to replace the time wasted scrolling through social media with better-quality content that feeds my soul, ex. books, music, and movies. I detailed my strategies and how it’s going so far in this article I wrote for CharlotteFive.

I would say the biggest contributor to my success has been the Amazon Kindle I picked up over the holidays. It was on sale, plus I applied a gift card I got with credit card points, so we purchased it for just $14. (Best Christmas present ever.) I got the basic model (which is all you need!) and it’s small enough to fit in my purse, so I take it with me wherever I go. And now, when I have some free time, I find myself reaching for my Kindle instead of my cell phone.

To keep my motivation up, I started a new notebook for 2018 where I keep track of everything I read, watch, and listen to. Here are some of the best ones from January:

Read:

The Selection by Keira Cass

This YA book is a cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor and I devoured it in four days! Highly recommend if you like stories about young love and imagining what the world will be like hundreds of years from now.

Younger by Pamela Redmond Satran

This is the book the TV Land series starring Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster is based on. This was a fun, breezy read, although I like the TV show 10x better. The only character I liked more in the book was Josh (I’m #TeamCharles).

(And yes, if you can’t tell, I love love stories. If the book doesn’t make me swoon, I don’t want it.)

Watch:

Good Girls Revolt on Amazon Prime

MPR and I binged this show over Christmas break. It’s about gender equality and sexual discrimination in newsrooms in the late 1960s, and how the female characters’ fight to be journalists spills over into their personal lives. I fell in love with all of the characters (especially Jane Hollander) and am incredibly sad that this terrific show was canceled after just one season. WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO ME AMAZON?!

Lady Bird

I highly recommend this movie for ladies who were in high school in the early 2000s. I saw so much of my high school experience in this movie, right down to the ridiculous boys the main character dated. I’ve been in love with Saoirse Ronan ever since I saw her in Brooklyn, but she’s somehow even more believable in Lady Bird. Watch it now.

Listen:

After Laughter by Paramore

I never followed Paramore over the years outside of their singles, but this album had me bopping all the way through. I love the 80s influence and how their sound has matured over the years.

Mania by Fall Out Boy

Oh my. This is the best album I’ve heard from Fall Out Boy since From Under the Cork Tree. Be still my teenage heart. They still have the best lyrics in the pop-punk world. (FIGHT ME.)

Any recommendations for February? Drop them in the comments below!

Personal Branding Lessons from Boss Bitch

Boss Bitch by Nicole Lapin

Boss Bitch in the Queen City 👑

If you’re a loyal reader of my blog, you know I’m a huge fan of Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin, a personal finance book. So I was stoked when I got an advance copy of her new career book, Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career. I love Lapin’s sassy tone and her ability to explain complicated topics simply and conversationally.

Her new book is divided into three sections: Being the Boss of You, Being the Boss at Work, and Being the Boss of your Own Business. I was tempted to start and end with section two, as I’m already on my way into my career and honestly have no interest in being an entrepreneur, but I’m glad I didn’t because I learned an important lesson in personal branding.

Continue reading