“Someday, Someday Maybe” Book Review and December Selection!

Virtual Book ClubGreat news! We made a facebook group for the Virtual Book Club. We are going to be doing some discussion over there regarding the monthly book and other books that we happen to be reading, too. It’s currently a closed group, but if you are interested in joining, let me know and I will be happy to add you.


Hey guys! I can’t believe November went by so fast. I feel like I just finished writing my response to The Graveyard Book but here we are. We picked something light to read, since as the holiday season gears up, time somehow becomes more scarce. Someday, Someday Maybe (affiliate link) definitely was light. I finished out in about five or six hours, which was nice.

The book is written in the first person. Through the eyes of our heroine, Franny, we get a glimpse of what it may have been like to be a struggling actress in New York city in 1995. The author, Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) has a lot of personal experience to draw on, I’m sure.

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A really cute thing in the book were these little pages from Franny’s day planner. Some weeks were meticulous and full; others were dust and tumbleweeds. It reminded me of my own planner. Another cute thing was the use of the answering machine. I totally remember the days before I had a cell phone and the only way to get important information was to hunt someone down or leave them a message. Sometimes I think it would be really freeing to only check my phone messages (and email) once or twice a day instead of constantly.

Franny has a lot of self-doubt, something that doesn’t come in handy for an actress, I’m sure. We all have self-doubt, but we don’t all work in industries where the goal is to stand out or face total failure. As a result of these insecure feelings, she makes a bunch of questionable life choices. She picks the sleazy agent over the friendly agent, she picks the superficial and pretentious dude over the nice guy, etc. She tries to derive her strength from others instead of from herself. Her strongest moment of personal growth comes when she turns down a job that (after lots and lots—too much—hemming and hawing) she decides compromises her values. I guess that was the point of the book! Pull your strength from within instead of trying to attach yourself to others that seem successful.

There were a few points in the book that I found pretty meta, particularly the conversation between Dan and Franny about love triangles as a tired trope. I think it was the author’s way of winking at us readers, “yeah, love triangles are a bit tired but still cute and compelling, so I’m using one anyway.” Franny was a little annoying, but I saw some of myself in her immature, rambling inner monologues. We can’t all be perfect. ;)

Actually, Lauren Graham came out with another book this week, Talking As Fast as I Can, which is about herself. It would be interesting to read it and compare her stories of breaking out as an actress to the fictionalized version in Someday, Someday Maybe.


Our final book of 2016 will be A Man Called Ove. It’s supposed to be a “feel-good” story and my coworker compared it to the movie Up, which I haven’t seen but everyone seems to like. Lately I have been getting into all things Scandinavian so I’m looking forward to reading this (a movie adaptation is coming out, too).

As always, hop over to Libby’s blog to read her take on our monthly book (spoiler alert: she didn’t like it)! And again, let me know if you want to join our facebook group!

30 Days of Quickwrites (Typecrafters Challenge)

Hey guys! I know I have mentioned it before but in addition to my normal job and writing in this here blog (some months more frequently than others), I have a little baby side business called Typecrafters.

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My mom actually got the ball rolling on this several years ago and I have taken it over nowadays. I do a little light graphic design (like business cards) under this moniker, but my main focus is on formatting books for print or for kindle.

Typecrafters InstagramThe reason I’m bringing it up now is that last week I started a “30 Days of Quickwrites” challenge over on the Typecrafters Instagram. Writing can be hard work and I’d love to build a community where authors support each other and help them get over blocks.

I’ve really dealt with writers’ block (even in relation to this blog) in the past, and sometimes just having a little nudge helps get the thoughts flowing. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer” in a creative capacity, I have found that writing is so important to success in life. The ability to communicate clearly helps in work and relationships. Too often I just post tweets and some weeks, the longest thing I write is an email for work. When working on a longer piece or a complicated idea (like a book club response, for example), I have actually found more dimensions to my thoughts and opinions as I get it all out.

I have all 30 days already planned out. Some of the prompts will be topical personal reactions, some of them are fiction (admit it, you’ve always wanted to try out fiction) and one of them is even poetry.

If you’re into writing and you want to brainstorm some ideas, take a stab at a few (or all!) of the writing prompts. You don’t have to show anyone and you don’t have to post them anywhere, but I encourage you to write about two pages per prompt.

Let me know how it goes!

“The Graveyard Book” Review and November Selection!

Hey pals! Coming at you one week late with the October virtual book club review.

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What a fitting book to read on Halloween. I really had fun reading Neil Gaiman’s spooky The Graveyard Book, the kind of fun I had when I read Ready Player One earlier this year. I suppose that tells you what kinds of books I can really get sucked into—young adult adventures with a dash of alternative reality. I mean, I do read all kinds of books: I purposefully force myself to read a wide variety of genres, but this is the kind I quickly devour.

Not sure why I put off cracking The Graveyard Book since I knew from the inside flap description that I was going to like it. The story follows a young boy from toddlerhood to adulthood (older-teen-hood?) as he grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts. His family is murdered when he is a baby (no spoiler there; that is the opening scene) and he toddles to a graveyard where two old ghosts by the last name Owens decide to raise him. They name him Nobody, and he goes by Bod for short. While growing, Bod learns life lessons not unlike a normal boy would learn, but just in a different way.

The Graveyard Book

Bod’s other guardian is a man named Silas. Silas is a mysterious person whose true nature is revealed bit by bit until the climax of the book. Something I liked about this book was that instead of spending a lot of time providing background information, details, and nitty gritty on things like, “What makes ghosts and ghouls different? What is the layout of the graveyard? What kind of trees are there?” (Think Harry Potter, and the encyclopedic fictional knowledge the reader comes away with) the reader is just dropped down into the story and things (concepts, creatures) just are. And it doesn’t detract from the story, in fact it makes things move along much more quickly, hoping the reader doesn’t get distracted by not knowing specifics on something.

Yes, the book takes place in a graveyard, and the majority of supporting characters are ghosts, but I wouldn’t call it a scary book. There are a few creepy (maybe even scary) parts, but each chapter is pretty short. I don’t know how 10 year old Staci would have reacted, but Younger Me read some books with some scary parts and I turned out just fine. Knowing that it was loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book adds a fun element to the reading experience as well. I haven’t read The Jungle Book but I saw the Disney animated movie (I know, not nearly the same thing), but I was able to draw at least one connection to the movie—Bod’s caper with the ghouls definitely reminds me of when Mowgli gets kidnapped by King Louie and the apes.

I read Stardust, by the same author (aaaages ago, before the movie came out) and zoomed through it. I guess it’s a safe bet that I’d like other Neil Gaiman books, so I will definitely have to see what else my local library has.

somedaycoverThis month, another shift of gears. Our book club seems to be jumping around from genre to genre each month, and that is one of my favorite things about it, I think.

Thanks to a circumstance of “right place, right time” (the book was on sale for $1.99 at the time) we chose Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. You might know Lauren Graham better as Lorelai on Gilmore Girls! I was looking for something lighter since Unknown Americans was really heavy and The Graveyard Book was kind of creepy, and November has the potential to be a busy month, and the book literally fell into my lap inbox  via a BookBub daily email. Oh, and don’t forget… the new Gilmore Girls episodes come to Netflix on Black Friday!

At Home: Entryway

It’s been a while since I shared much of my home, so I thought I’d catch you guys up on what things are like around here. First up, the entryway.

Currently

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There isn’t much to the entryway, but I like how, despite its small size, it’s better than opening up the front door straight into the living room. Our shoe organizer provides a small shelf to drop keys and mail, and the picture (an antique painted by a great-relative) gives the area a little “something special.”

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I may trade the picture for a mirror if I find one that can withstand being next to a slammed door day in and day out (our door closes very heavily).

I love this STÄLL IKEA shoe organizer. It holds a surprising number of shoes for its narrow size. Those Swedish geniuses!! We store shoes in three compartments and use the upper right compartment for doggie stuff (leash, harness, dog tee shirt), as well as the mail key and other assorted keys (padlock and bike keys, etc). I love the way its slim profile doesn’t block the light from the sidelight window.

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Plans

Right now we have a can light with a brass ring around it, but I’d like to updgrade that to something more special. I’m also on the fence about painting the back of the front door. Per HOA, we can’t paint the exterior, but I’m wondering about adding a little color to the living room this way. I’m just not sure what to do about all the trim along the doorjamb and the sidelight window. Suggestions?

A Long Weekend in Phoenix

As I mentioned on Wednesday, my sister and I took a Labor Day vacay to Phoenix. Why Phoenix? Why not? While super hot and not totally glamorous, it is the sixth largest city in the U.S. and is totally drivable from San Diego.

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There is something about the beauty of the desert that makes a drive like this relaxing. A long and straight highway lets driver and passenger focus on the scenery in a way that’s a bit more difficult on a windy mountainous road. Everyone should drive through the desert once in their life, whether it’s to see saguaro cactus like we did, or to see the painted desert closer to the north part of Arizona and New Mexico.

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We stayed at a really cute Airbnb that did nothing but exacerbate my dreams of owning a home with a casita out back to host my own out of towners. The decoration was feminine and cute while still managing to be desert-y. Small touches like a pastel colored Mexican blanket and drinking glasses with a desert motif helped remind us where we were.

The first evening we got there, we headed to the Desert Botanical Garden, but balked at the price ($22!) since we only had a few moments left of daylight. There were a bunch of kids arriving with flashlights and headlamps for a night guided tour—how fun! If I were visiting for longer, I’d definitely carve out a half-day to see the whole garden. The following day we ate our way through the city. We started with donuts and coffee, moved on to lunch with my old coworker and friend and then did a bit of thrift store and antique shopping.

The heat was surprisingly draining. We spent a disproportionate amount of time just recuperating in our air-conditioned airbnb. This makes sense though—while we were out and about I was struck by how empty the streets were. One of the main design things I noticed about Phoenix is that keeping the sun (and thereby the heat) out of homes, restaurants, etc was of paramount importance—even more important than making the outside of places terribly attractive. However, I did see it done in some unique and beautiful ways, particularly in the Coronado Historic neighborhood where we stayed.

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On the way to Phoenix, I noticed a road sign that pointed out Native American petroglyphs. On the way back, I insisted on going to see them, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was fairly out of way way, 11 miles off the freeway, but I think it was worth it. Seeing artwork created by ancient people, thousands of years ago, really left me speechless. The desert is such a hostile and inhospitable place, it is mind-boggling to think of humans roaming the area in such a primitive time.

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Before the trip, my co-worker and Arizona native told me that while making the drive we had to stop outside of Gila Bend and get one of Dateland’s famous date shakes. I’d never really heard of a date shake before but I was diligent to take her up on the recommendation. The date shakes were so delicious, Steph and I were sure to get them again on the way back to California!

Sometimes getting away for even just a couple of days can be really refreshing for a couple of reasons. Checking out a new city can be so energizing—but getting home to familiar settings and routines can be comforting in a way.

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Where is your go-to escape for a three day weekend?

“Why Not Me?” Book Review and October Selection!

Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? has got to be one of the best books our little virtual book club could have picked for September. We were coming off a pretty heavy book in August and we were trying to ease from summer to fall. At the beginning of the month my sister and I took a short girls’ trip to Phoenix which is about five hours from San Diego. I signed up for Audible, cashed in one of the two free books offered, and we listened to Mindy the whole way there.

I downloaded the book at home and streamed it to my car using my Kindle Fire and bluetooth connection. 

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Mindy’s style was just like having another gal pal in the car with us. I loved the insider peek on Hollywood hair and makeup and even hearing about some of the more mundane parts of her dating life, like an “are we or aren’t we” saga with a long distance guy (okay, it wasn’t totally mundane—he was an aid to President Obama). I read Mindy’s first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me a couple of years ago (and lent it out—if you are reading this and you have my book, give it back!) …I was happy that her second book retained the same chipper writing style and that there were lots of new things for her to say, despite the books being released relatively close together.

The final part of her book where she tackles being a role model for women of color and women with a non-Hollywood body type was encouraging to me and pushed me to work harder to achieve my goals. In the past, she famously said that she didn’t want the responsibility to speak for minorities in Hollywood, but the last chapter made me feel that she is coming around to her undeniable role. One theme that has persisted through both of her works is that if you want to achieve something, you must work at it tirelessly. It will not be handed to you. If Mindy didn’t have her characteristic drive, she would be your funny friend at work, not a writer-producer-star of her own TV show. I’ve read a few inspirational female books lately including #GIRLBOSS, but this Mindy, using humor, comes across as more authentic which owes a lot to Mindy’s writing style and, well, her narration since I was listening to an audiobook.

Serindipitous timing—Why Not Me was released as a paperback just yesterday! I really do recommend it.


51taoalah7l-_sx334_bo1204203200_For October, something a little creepier. We’re going to be reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. According to the first half of the wikipedia article (I didn’t want to go too far and read spoilers) the book is about a boy who is raised by graveyard inhabitants. It was compared to The Jungle Book in which a boy is raised by jungle animals. I think this is going to be great! I enjoyed Stardust (another Gaiman book) when I read it about 7 years ago, so I know I’ll like his writing style.

As always, you can check out Libby and Stephanie’s responses to Why Not Me at their respective blogs! And don’t forget to join in the conversation in the comments or on your own blog if you decide you’d like to read along with us.

This post contains amazon affiliate links. 

Happy Autumn! 

Good afternoon!

Yesterday was my birthday which signals the end of summer and beginning of fall! Naturally, I had to go to Starbucks this morning and get my birthday drink—first pumpkin spice latte of the season! The beginning of the school year is always crazy which explains my lack of posting in September. After a crazy day at work I just need to unplug at home. I’ve been trying to get 10,000 steps a day on my Fitbit so that keeps me active.

This weekend I am heading out to go camping! It’s the first of two camping trips I have planned with friends for this fall. I normally only go for one night, but this is set up for two nights. Roughing it for 48 hours? We’ll see how that goes over!

Libby was the first person in my feed to “describe yourself in three characters” on her Instagram. I thought long and hard and picked my three! I posted this pic on Instagram but thought I’d elaborate here in my fun Friday post.

Liz Lemon is my spirit animal. Hands down. I am not #foreveralone but aside from her love life aspect I see myself in her a lot—the frantic personality, sarcastic sense of humor, and the struggle to “have it all.” Peyton was my high school idol. Her taste in music and fashion were impossibly cool and my pinnacle aspiration. Her attempt to put on a brave face and cover her insecurities really spoke to me in high school and that part of me is still inside (even though I’ve made strides in being more confident and assertive). I was stumped on my third personality representation and fought hard when Doug suggested Lorelai for me. Yes, she’s immature and indecisive at times (let’s face it, so am I) but she’s also stubborn and driven and made her small-business dream a reality. Honorable mention goes to the sarcastic guy with the boring job, Chandler Bing, who got edged out by Lorelai (because he is kind of redundant when Liz Lemon was my #1).

Have you picked your three characters that represent you yet?