Friday, September 1, 2017

book review: The Girls

The GirlsThe Girls by Emma Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were parts of this story I really liked… things I could identify with. 14-year-old Evie was totally desperate for acceptance, to find a place she fit in. The perspective on her younger self from her older point of view was interesting, and being in my 30s there are a few things I would like to teach my past self. The internal narrative was well done here, describing all the tortures young girls put themselves through, trying so hard to figure out their place in the world. How is she supposed to act? Does she exist only as a reflection of those around her? What is attraction? Desire? Love?

But there were parts that fell very much flat. Her time with the cult felt forced and unrelatable. At first, I could see how Evie was drawn to Suzanne and her self-confidence, but the experimentation with drugs and sex were glossed over. If a young teen is so obsessed with relationships and her place at “the ranch” why weren’t these aspects analyzed a little more? Suzanne was the only one of “the girls” with any depth – the rest, including the cult leader, were like background noise to the inner workings of a self-centered narrator. Maybe my lack of familiarity with Charles Manson and the murders this story is based on is at fault here, but regardless, a book should tell its own story.

The rest of Evie’s life was underwhelming. There was no closure… life during and after boarding school are presented as an afterthought. It’s noted that her name is mentioned in some accounts, enough that her present-day visitors are aware of her involvement, but interactions with police and journalists are left assumed. As a whole, the present-day exchange could have been much more fulfilling. Evie didn’t grow or change, and her adult self still craves attention and sees how easy (or even rewarding) it is to please the boys.

Despite a three-star review, I would still recommend this to someone that enjoys historical fiction – for a one-person take on a cult atmosphere.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

book review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed how the pieces came together gradually... over time. We didn't get dumped right into the plot, it really felt like the story unfolded around Rachel, the (drunk) girl on the train as we discover things along with her. I liked the fact that this is told from the POV of three different women, and that despite being very different, they have something in common.

Another book where you have to be careful to read the date headings... much, if not all of Megan's side of the story is told months behind where Rachel and Anna are, with good reason of course.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

book review: Fates and Furies

Fates and FuriesFates and Furies by Lauren Groff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I first finished, I felt like I wanted to cry. Not for any of the typical reasons, like not wanting to leave the characters behind, or even a powerful emotional conclusion. I was angry. I've been taken for a ride.

Part 1: Fates is Lotto's version of events, his life story and point of view through he and Mathilde's marriage. For all the raves touting the author's "stunning prose" I was mostly bored, and sometimes annoyed with him. All but one of his plays were uninteresting. There are only so many ways to describe someone who's born rich and through either sheer luck or charisma (questionable, given the multiple descriptions of his acne) manages to stay well taken care of despite his lack of knowledge in how the world works. We get it, she loved him in spite of his privilege and obliviousness. It says a lot when the most compelling thing about the guy is his need for constant adoration.

Part 2: Furies is Mathilde's side of the story. When I first started reading her voice I rejoiced! Maybe this book would save itself from exaggerated self-awareness. She was actually interesting in her own telling - Mathilde had a brain and a history you (Lotto) never knew! She wasn't likeable... neither of them were really, but she didn't have to be. She was sharp, with more under the surface and behind the scenes than you'd ever expect. Then things went wrong again. The timeline in the second half jumped around so badly! I can handle a flashback or two dozen flashbacks if they make sense, but Furies gave no warning and had no sense of order. In the end, this couple did few things right, which is probably realistic, but made this novel hard to embrace as a whole.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

probiotics + cranberry

I've never really been good at remembering vitamins... even prenatals! I've been trying to take better care of my health this year though, and a multivitamin and extra vitamin D have made it into the morning routine more than half the time - it's a start!

The timing of this review post worked out well... we just got back from vacation. If you're anything like me, vacations wreak havoc on the digestive system. I started taking these a week beforehand, and I didn't have any issues on the trip. The women's probiotic at 6 billion CFU plus cranberry for digestive health goes down easy in a daily capsule. **Results may vary from person to person. These products cannot be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.

"25FREESHIP" gets you 25% off on all products at

Monday, January 30, 2017

this is a post about tampons

I tried Lola tampons, and told some friends that I'd let them know how I liked them, so... here we go!


First of all, shipping was free! The packaging is great, just what you'd want for a subscription box of tampons: a plain brown box. The individual boxes themselves are plain white, with the word Lola on the side. That's it. No hot pink nonsense or pictures of women playing volleyball or whatever.

The Goods:

So, these are tampons. Not a whole lot to observe here, but there are some differences to point out between Lola and other major brands.

1. Lola tampons are 100% cotton. They feel like... cotton. Soft, and also a little fuzzy, with no "coating" them. In the interest of full disclosure, here's what's in Tampax:

2. They're a little wider. Not longer thankfully, but bigger around. Enough that I noticed, but not uncomfortably so.

3. Plastic applicators. I personally prefer them to cardboard, but they're not exactly environmentally friendly here, so worth a mention. Also, they are pocket-friendly kind that you pull up to a click and then use as normal.

The Nitty Gritty:

1. When it's full, it's FULL. These are not the "braided" strings that provide a little backup. I don't know if it's just getting used to something new, or bad timing on my part, but it was a good thing I wore a pantyliner on my heaviest day. (UPDATE: this was totally just me getting used to them. No issues since.)

2. The lack of a coating (the "thin fabric around the absorbent core" on other tampons) does affect insertion and removal, but I didn't find it to be uncomfortable.

3. Absorbency seems to be on par with the major brands. I ordered 4 regular, 10 super, and 4 super+ in each box.

I wanted to try these because after having two kids, my periods are unpredictable... some months it's what I'd call "normal," and sometimes it's a mess and I'm an unprepared teenager all over again... so it's great to be able to customize each box to whatever you need. You get 18 to work with and each month can be a different mix if you want!

UPDATE: The absolute BEST part is that after three months my cramps are basically GONE. I wouldn't have believed that organic cotton would make that big of a difference, but I experienced it for myself! I still feel a little crampy, but nothing like the freaking giving-birth-contractions I used to get. I seriously couldn’t be happier!

Get $5 off your order when you use my sign up code spanza1 at New customers get 2 boxes for the price of 1, or 3 boxes for the price of 2.