The Bachelorette: Bios and Predictions

 

(FRONT) MILTON, BRYCE, JEDIDIAH, JACK, FRED, IGGY, RACHEL LINDSAY, KYLE, JAMEY, MICHAEL, LEE, KENNY, BLAKE E.; (MIDDLE) MATTHEW, BRYAN, PETER, JOSIAH, DEAN, GRANT, KENNETH, BLAKE K., ERIC, ROBERT;
(BACK) JONATHAN, WILL, ADAM, DEMARIO, ALEX, MOHIT, LUCAS, ANTHONY, BRADY
Photo courtesy of abc.com

The Bachelorette is back y’all! Nick Viall may have given us a lackluster season of The Bachelor, but his season gave us great girls – including Rachel Lindsay. Aside from being a smart and funny attorney from Dallas, she is also the first African-American lead on the show. I am not going to pat ABC on the back for this because the show has been on 34 seasons and the fact that it has taken this long to have a lead that isn’t white is ridiculous. Rachel is an amazing choice for The Bachelorette and I am extremely excited to watch her on the show.

First off, Rachel is 32 and she obviously stated that she wanted a mature man because the low end of these men are 26-27 all the way up to 37. It is so nice to see a cast that isn’t filled with a bunch of 23 and 24-year-olds. Rachel also has a high-powered career as an attorney and the guys also seem to have some pretty impressive jobs. It isn’t 15 personal trainers “bro-ing” it out (no offensive to personal trainers). Rachel has standards, that is clear and I don’t think she is going to take any shit.

On to the men!

Adam

Adam, 27

Adam is a real-estate agent from Dallas. Interesting that he is from the same city as Rachel. He has the face of a real-estate agent – very white teeth. Red flag #1: his three favorite movies are Transformers, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Wolf on Wall Street. I mean who doesn’t love Micheal Bay action, Will Smith tugging at the heart-strings, and Leo DiCaprio with hookers and yachts? He does say a typical night for him includes late night tacos, to which I say “same.” He said his favorite actor is Jennifer Lawerence, ok cool. But his reasoning is that she is “every girl’s goal.” Ummm….excuse me? I love JLaw but my goal isn’t to be her. And the crowning achievement – the most romantic gift he received? A threesome. Boy, bye.

Prediction: Mid-pack. He’s attractive so he’ll slide through for a bit but I don’t think he has a lot in common with Rachel.

Alex.jpgAlex, 28

Alex is an Information Systems Supervisor who apparently appreciates volume in his hair. He says his 3 worst attributes are that he is unapologetic, unemotional, and selfish. Sounds like a great guy to date. He has eaten a live salamander and his favorite artist is The Rock. Is The Rock an artist? He has given a girlfriend a car once and says he treats his S.O. like a queen.

Prediction: Top 5. I don’t think Alex and Rachel have the same life goals but he is one of the more attractive guys in the bunch so I think he will make it pretty far. Physical attraction is a big factor.

Anthony2

Anthony, 26

Anthony is a software manager from Chicago. Rachel already dated a (former) software salesman, and we saw how that turned out. Anthony is smart. He is a Fulbright scholar and has traveled to Indonesia and the Ivory Coast. His favorite movies include Moonlight. He is looking for someone intelligent and funny.

Prediction: Top 3. Anthony is smart and driven, he seems to share the same values as Rachel. If he can stand out in the beginning, I think he has a real shot to go far this season.

Blake E.

Blake E., 31

Blake is “an aspiring drummer” from California. I don’t know if you should be an “aspiring” anything at 31, I really hope he has a real job. The most outrageous thing he has done is get engaged to a crazy girl. He also has weird tattoos. He also doesn’t think “parking ticket people” have souls.

Prediction: Goes home night 1. Ok maybe he makes it to week 2. But not much longer. I don’t see much for Rachel to go off of here.

Blake K.jpg

Blake K., 29

Blake is a Marine Vet. He also loves The Rock and Chipotle. His ideal woman is long? I don’t know what that means. He likes roses, go figure.

Prediction: Goes home night 1. Sorry Blake.

Brady.jpgBrady, 29

Brady is a male model from Miami. I guess he missed out on JoJo’s season, he looks like he’d be best friends with Robby. He hates Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore and he wishes he could be Channing Tatum.

Prediction: Mid-pack. There is no way in hell that Rachel is I picking him but I believe he will have a story arc to get him on Bachelor in Paradise to go after some Bachelor alums.

Bryan

Bryan, 37

Bryan is a chiropractor and he is at the older end of the spectrum of Rachel’s suitors. Bryan listed 7 attributes when asked what his best 3 attributes were, so he can’t count or is very egotistical. He loves sports and would be Bill Gates for a day if he could.

Prediction: Week 2 or 3. I think he’ll skate by but I don’t see anything super unique or interesting about him.

Bryce

Bryce, 30

I can’t with this guy. First of all, he has spock ears. Second, of all, he says things like “outrageous is realtive.” He is a firefighter but also caught a girl’s hair on fire during sex.

Prediction: Goes home night one. This guy is ridiculous.

Dean.jpg

Dean, 26

Dean is a startup recruiter who also has an upper lip tattoo. He believes marriage is an institutionalized sham but said that when he gets married it will be forever. So that is a bit confusing. He also says he wants to pursue a woman because nothing good comes easy. Dean also had the cringeworthy “going black and not going back” comment on After the Final Rose.

Prediction: Top 4. I think Dean is going to stir up some trouble. He is attractive and charming with some “interesting” opinions. I think he will be polarizing but Rachel will like him. I think he is a major player this season.

DeMario.jpg

DeMario, 30

DeMario is an Executive Recruiter from California. He is a self-proclaimed party-starter who loves Prince. He wants a lion named Denzel one day. The most romantic gift he has given were tickets to a Jay Z and Beyonce concert. He loves being a big brother and references Malcolm X.

Prediction: Winner. Just based on bios, he takes it for me. He is super attractive, funny, charismatic and intelligent. I think he and Rachel are going to hit it off and I could see them getting engaged.

Eric.jpg

Eric, 29

We have to have at least one personal trainer and Eric is it. He likes Tony Robbins and says he is the life of the party. He wants to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (someone studied Rachel’s dates with Nick). His favorite drink is Green Drink?

Prediction: Top 6. Eric seems quirky and fun, so I can see Rachel connecting with him but I don’t see her ending up with a personal trainer.

Fred.jpg

Fred, 27

Fred is an Executive Assistant. He dresses like Carlton Banks. He also went to summer camp with Rachel, she was his counselor and he had a crush on her. He has two masters degrees that he achieved simultaneously. He says he sometimes gets excited at work, which is weird. And his biggest dating fear is his card getting declined.

Prediction: Week 3. I think Rachel will give him a chance but ultimatley I think she is going to think it is weird that she used to look after him at summer camp and I don’t think she will be able to move past it.

Grant.jpg

Grant, 29

Grant is an emergency room doctor. He once pooped in a Coke bottle, so there’s that. He also sang Ice Ice Baby at a Bar Mitzvah.

Prediction: Week 2. His humor will get him through first cuts but he doesn’t have a lot else going for him.

Iggy.jpg

Iggy, 30

His name is Iggy. But he is kind of adorable. His a Consulting Firm CEO. He is passionate, loyal and witty – which are his best and worst attributes? His favorite magazine is The Harvard Business Review, but is that really a magazine?

Prediction: Mid Pack. I think Iggy will be a loveable personality who gets along with the guys and will be seen again in Paradise. (Think Vinny)

Jack Stone.jpg

Jack Stone, 32

Jack Stone sounds like the name of the main character in a romance novel about an oil baron who is rough around the edges but has a heart of stone. Jack Stone also seems to be staring at me through the computer screen and I’m kind of scared. He is also an attorney from Dallas, go figure.

Prediction: Mid-pack. I feel like he has a story that we will see but I don’t think he will be a major player.

Jamey.jpg

Jamey, 32

Jamey has a tattoo on his shoulder that is being removed, I want to know that story. He also is a fan of Elon Musk. He doesn’t have female friends and says his ideal girl is a model. Gross.

Prediction: Mid-pack. I feel like we have our villain so he has to stick around to cause drama. I hope Rachel ends up throwing him out.

Jedidiah.jpg

Jedidiah, 35

Contrary to his name, Jedidiah is not Amish, he is an ER doctor. All of his former dogs were at least 1/2 wolf which is a little scary. Also, the producers missed a great opportunity to label him a “wolf-enthusiast.” He had sex on a glacier and built his parent’s 5,000 square foot log cabin in Montana.

Prediction: Goes home the first night. Sorry Jedidiah, I don’t think Rachel is into wolves.

Jonathan

Jonathan, 31

Jonathan is the tickle monster. I know the producers labeled him this but it still creeps me out. He has been divorced, so that could be a great story. He likes Elvis Presley, Britany Spears and Flo Rida – nice eclectic mix.

Prediction: Week 2. Just because I know she doesn’t get rid of a lot of them night one so he might be a hold over.

Josiah.jpg

Josiah, 28

Josiah is also an attorney, makes me curious if Rachel wants to marry another attorney? He lists his height as an attribute which I find strange. He is athletic and likes to be the center of attention. But he doesn’t like to dance.

Prediction: Middle of the pack. Josiah seems to be a pretty cool guy and this sounds crazy but I don’t think Rachel will pick a guy that doesn’t dance. She loves to dance!

Diggy.jpg

Diggy, 31

Diggy is a senior investment analyst. He also goes by Diggy. He likes to drink and go to “low key” bars. He also lists The Devil Wears Prada as one of his favorite movies. He did say that he faked sleep so he didn’t have to look for his one night stand’s missing brother.

Prediction: Top 4. I think Diggy is going to do well, I think he will get along with Rachel well.

Kenny.jpg

Kenny, 35

Kenny is a professional wrestler. He has a daughter and loves The Rock. The most romantic gift he has given is an Edible Arrangements….no comment. His favorite book is The New Jim Crow, great choice.

Prediction: Top 6. I like Kenny and I think he will be a fan favorite. I think Rachel will like him but ultimately friendzone him but I like his chances for The Bachelor or Paradise.

Kyle.jpg

Kyle, 26

Kyle is a Marketing Consultant (whoo Marketing!). Kyle doesn’t trust people, he has disdain for corrupt authority and can be blunt and outspoken. So I feel like he may fight someone. He doesn’t eat gluten but he doesn’t know what it is. He is a butt guy.

Prediction: Week 3. Long enough to piss off the other guys in the house and then exit.

Lee.jpg

Lee, 30

I need Lee to calm his hair down. Also, Lee is a singer/songwriter. Every season has one. He loves Matthew McConaughey and Scarface.

Prediction: Goes home night one. I’m over the singer/songwriter on the show to get gigs. At least James Taylor was kind of charming. I don’t think Rachel has any time for that.

Lucas.jpg

Lucas, 30

Lucas’s occupation is “waboom.” Ok great. He is an uncle to a cat and has an ant farm. He had a threesome at a wedding. His perfect woman is a combination of Disney princesses and Jessica Rabbit.

Prediction: Week 3. I really want him to go night one but I think the producers will keep him around for a bit for content.

Matt.jpg

Matt, 32

Matt is a Construction Sales Rep. He looks up to his parents, and would be Matt Lauer for a day if he could be. He coaches kids basketball and his worst date was a Tinder date.

Prediction: Top 4. Matt is hot, kind and intelligent. I think he will go far.

Michael.jpg

Michael, 26

Michael is a former professional basketball player. He has a scripture tattoo and would love to have lunch with former President Obama. He is confident and doesn’t need to be the center of attention.

Prediction: Final 2. Michael seems like the total package, I think he and Rachel will hit it off.

Milton.jpg

Milton, 31

Milton is a Hotel Recreation Supervisor, I imagine him running Jazzercize classes at a Sandals resort. He has a bottom lip tattoo and wants to be “discovered.” He doesn’t want to be seen as weak so he is hesitant to be romantic.

Prediction: Week 4. An “Is he here for the right reasons?” storyline and he’s out.

Mohit.jpgMohit, 26

Mohit is a product manager who also loves Elon Musk. He likes to dance, and he likes country and hip hop music (so original). He successfully referenced Seinfeld but also mentioned Tabasco sauce in the bedroom.

Prediction: Week 3. I bet he is pretty forgettable.

Peter.jpg

Peter, 31

Peter is a business owner. I also think that Peter probably looks better in person, this picture isn’t the best. He doesn’t like heights so he’ll probably have to bungee jump for a date. He used to be a model. He has completed three Iron Mans.

Prediction: Mid-Pack. I think he will get a ticket to Paradise.

 

Rob.jpg

Rob, 30

Rob is a law student, I’m interested in if he switched careers or if he’s been in school the whole time. He has traveled a lot and says he is driven, empathetic, and worldly. He wants a woman that will pursue him, wrong show buddy.

Prediction: Week 4. Seems like an interesting guy, but I don’t think he will ultimately connect with Rachel.

will.jpg

Will, 28

Will has traveled a lot and seems very smart. He likes Will Smith and The Shawshank Redemption. He won’t be anyone’s second choice and he can be shy at first in a relationship.

Prediction: Week 3. I like Will but I think his shyness might cause him to be overlooked, there are a lot of big personalities this season.

 

Mother’s Day Without Mom

We should’ve been at brunch today. I would’ve sent my mother flowers, bought her a card and gift and worn a dress to make her happy. That’s would should have happened today. 

Instead, I visited the cemetery with a vase a Cala Lillies and talked to the black granite. I listened to the last voicemail she ever left me and cried. 

She should be here. That is a fact. But, she’s not. I’m devastated, angry and heartbroken. However, today I am choosing gratitude over anguish. I’m so thankful that I had that 25 amazing years with her as my mother. I’m thankful for everything she taught me and the love she had for me. I’m going to tell you why she was such an amazing mother.

I was born a month early. A routine check up showed that my mother had toximia and had to deliver me via c-section. I spent ten days in the hospital, my mom walked from the hotel (insurance wouldn’t let her stay in the hospital) to the hospital every few hours to feed me until she could take me home.

When I was four, I decided that I didn’t want to wait until Christmas to open my gifts so I tore them open a week early. She bought me all new presents. I was spoiled, I know. 

Before I was old enough for an alarm clock she would walk in my room and sing my name to wake me up, always willing to give me 5 more minutes.

I begged for a brother or sister for years, not understanding that she couldn’t have any more children. She invited my best friend on every vacation so I would have someone to play with, usually paying her way.

I would sit in her room next to her vanity and watch her do her hair and make up. I closed my eyes and held my breath as she sprayed her hairspray. I never wanted to be far from her.

She indulged my obsession with horses. She took me to the Kentucky Horse Park, Equine Affaire, the Kentucky Oaks, BreyerFest, and Horse Camp. Then she volunteered with me at a horse rescue for a whole summer before buying me a horse, as well as two more.

She volunteered for school parties and field trips, even though she had chronic pain. She supported me through ballet, Girl Scouts, tap dance, volleyball, drama, and 4H. She also allowed me to quit all of these things when my interests veered to new territory.

She let me pick to go to college in Texas, no matter how much she didn’t want to lose me. When I asked her to come visit, she flew down. When I didn’t want her to leave, she conveniently missed her flight. When I called in tears and said I wanted to come home, she bought me a ticket on the next flight out.

We talked every single day. We weren’t just mother and daughter, we were best friends. We talked about everything from politics to reality TV to gossip to our dreams and fears. 

She taught me to believe in myself and to always choose kindness. I wouldn’t be who I am without her.

I’m so sad that she isn’t here with me. But I am so thankful for to her for giving me the world. 

Happy Mother’s Day to My Mother. I hope you’re having a mimosa in heaven. 

Kentucky Derby 143: Top Picks

KYDerby143

It is (almost) every Kentuckian’s favorite time of year once agian, it’s Derby week! In three days, twenty of the best three-year-old colts will battle it out in the most famous horse race in the world. Of course there is the fashion and the drinks and everyone faking their way through “My Old Kentucky Home,” but it all comes down to the most exciting two minutes in sports. This year feels a lot more of a wide open race compared to the past two years, a lot of handicappers are poised for an upset. I’m going to give you my top picks for the big race, but I don’t have the best track record so do with this info what you will.

Top Pick

15 – McCraken

McCraken
Courtesy of the Bloodhorse

My top pick to win the roses is McCraken. This Ghostzapper colt won all of his juvenile starts at Churchill Downs. He then returned this year to take the Sam F. Davis Stakes before a layoff due to injury. He came off the layoff and ran 3rd in the Blue Grass Stakes, his only defeat. His sire, Ghostzapper won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, so he has the pedigree to win the race. He also has an ideal running style for the Kentucky Derby, he can come off the pace. He won’t lead the pack but he isn’t going to be too far back to make a move. He is trained by Ian Wilkes who also trained Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. Brian Hernandez Jr. will be riding McCraken, he had the choice between him and Girvin and he chose McCraken. The sticking point for me on this horse is his experience at Churchill Downs. He excels at this track, he’s never lost on it and has plenty of experience on it. Many trainers think the track can be tricky, so if you have a horse that does well on it, you are ahead of the game. Ian and Brian are also very familiar with Churchill. They both consistantly train and ride there during every meet. And it is important to note that Brian picked him over Girvin, who is the leading points earner going into the Derby, he has faith in this horse. McCraken’s only loss was after a layoff, he still hit the board and Ian said he wasn’t 100% that day but he is now, and his works prove it.

17-Irish War Cry

Irish War Cry.jpg
Courtesy of TDN

I’m kind of in love with Irish War Cry. He is absolutley gorgeous and I am a huge fan of trainer Graham Motion. He is out of classic winner and two-time horse of the year Curlin, so he should do well at this distance. He has a lot of experience for his age. He has won three stakes, two of them graded, from five starts. He has been tested agianst his competition. He has beat Gunnevera and Classic Empire, two powerhouses in this field. He lost the Fountain of Youth but bounced back nicely in the Wood Memorial. Motion has an interesting work schedule for him, but says he got the “perfect work” he is looking for going into the race. I think he is maturing very well and I think he’ll put in a new performance. Even if he doesn’t pull out a win, I think we will see big things from him this year.

14-Classic Empire

Classic Empire
Courtesy of the Bloodhorse

 

This colt can’t be ignored. Classic Empire is the 4-1 Morning Line favorite, and if this year shakes out like 2016 or 2015 – he will be the next Derby winner. He was the juvenile champion last year with wins the Breeders’ Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. You know who else took home juvenile champion honors? American Pharoah and Nyquist. He shares the same sire as Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, PioneeroftheNile. He is owned by industry staple John Oxley and he is trained by Mark Casse with Julien Leparoux aboard. He began 2017  by dissapointing in the Fountain of Youth stakes, but it was discovered that he was injured. He returned in the Arkansas Derby and won impressively. Who else came out of the Arkansas Derby to win the Kentucky Derby? American Pharoah. He also has a win over the Churchill surface. See why he is the favorite? There is just one problem. His attitude. Classic Empire acts his age and it isn’t a good thing. He is known for prerace antics and has dropped his jockey. He also has refused to work in the mornings on occasion. The crowds can get him amped up, and unfortunatley he is about to face the biggest and wildest crowd in racing. If he can overcome his jitters, he should take this race no problem.

Honorable mention to Girvin, the points leader. This colt has won the Risen Star and Louisana Derby. He lost his jockey to McCraken but he picks up the pro, Mike Smith. But he is suffering from a quarter crack. His trainer insists he is all good, but any issue this close to Derby is cause for concern. And honorable mention to Always Dreaming. He is running for the famed Todd Pletcher who always fills the KY Derby field with an arsenal of horses, but he only has one Derby win. This colt ran an impressive Florida Derby, the fastest time since Alydar in 1978. He is 3 for 3 this year but the Florida Derby was his first race in stakes company so I am hesistant due to lack of experience.

Good Luck and Pick a Winner!

26: A Reflection

Every week I write a to-do list with four categories: Work, Personal, Self, and Goals. Under the “Self” column I have written “start writing my blog again” for about a month now. I don’t know what I was waiting for, a sign, the month to begin – I don’t know. But hey, it’s my twenty-sixth birthday so why not? Well to be exact, while writing this, it is three hours shy of my birthday – just petty details.

When I think about my birthday, I like most people, have plenty of memories. For my fifth birthday, I remember being in the backseat of my parents’ car as they drove me to the house of a dog breeder and I picked out my American Eskimo puppy, Max (it was the 90’s, adopt don’t shop wasn’t a thing  yet, I have an adopted dog now).

 

max
Max (right) and Riley (left)
I remember my ninth birthday at the now defunct Laser Web with my best friends from elementary school, Courtney and Ryan. Or even my eleventh birthday, I invited a boy I liked to my party, he gave me an informational book on horses (sadly we did not get married and have 3 kids). On my sixteenth birthday, I recieved my beloved Ford F-150 which in a way – defined me in high school.

 

truck
Me recieving my truck (excuse the photo, it was 2007)
I remember going to the Granville (U of L’s goto dive bar) at midnight and my friend and equestrian teammate Becca bought me my first shot, a red-headed slut on my twenty-first birthday. Birthdays are full of memories, who you spent them with, what you did, what you recieved for gifts. They also symbolize the end of a chapter in your life. As I’ve grown older, I reflect on each year (does this mean I’m an adult now? Ew).

Chapter twenty-five comes to an end in three short hours. What will I remember? Well I took a job with my dream company. I quit the first full-time job I got out of college. I took a leap of faith. I moved out of my parents house. I got a lease on an apartment. I have a rent bill, an electric bill, and a water bill. I challenged myself in ways I never thought possible. My heart broke when my leap of faith left me flat on my face. I dealt with failure. I perservered. My world literally fell apart when I unexpectdly lost the most important person in my entire life, my mom.

I entered 2017 pretty battered and beaten. I’m still battered and beaten, but I haven’t given up. I didn’t know if I could pick myself up, but I did. I went to the gym and trained for a 5k. I volunteered at one of my favorite places on earth, The Kentucky Horse Park. I adopted an amazing dog, who I named Atticus. I got another job, something completely brand new, but my input is valued and my confidence is growing.

 

Atticus
Atticus (Follow him on Instagram: @atticusthespotteddoggo)
Turning twenty-six means more than the fact that I could be considered “in my late twenties.” It means more than knowing that I better have my own healthcare (thank god I do). My mother will never know me at twenty-six. She knew me over the past twenty-five years, every twist and change in my personality and growth. She was with me every step of the way. Turning twenty-six feels like climbing Mt. Everest completely alone. You are technically an adult when you turn eighteen, but for the first time, I feel like I’m on my own.

 

5
My mom and I at the 2010 World Equestrian Games

Whatever I go through this year, whatever changes in my life is all me. Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible support system of friends and of course my father but my mom and I were a team and now I’m the one left standing. I’m lucky though, she left me with a good head on my shoulders and a stuborness that won’t allow me to give up.

I have no idea what year twenty-six is going to bring me but I’m going to do things that scare me, live a life that makes me happy, and not take a single day for granted.

 

 

 

Book Review: Welcome Thieves by Scott Beaudoin

 

welcome-thieves-260

After veering way off-track from the Litsy A to Z challenge, I returned to my year-long task with this collection of short stories. Beaudoin is best known for his YA novels, and this is his first venture in adult literature. I honestly used to hate short stories because I never felt like I got enough, I always wanted more plot and more from the characters. I’ve grown to appreciate short stories for their concise snapshots of a character and situation, and I want to read more short stories.

Beaudoin’s collection is funny, dark and very thought provoking. These stories follow mostly young people in what seems to be the present or the near future, there are some references to technology that is a bit more advanced than what we currently have. His characters make questionable (at best) decisions but he makes them unique and endearing so you can’t help but root for them. He brings these great slices of life with really odd and unique characters, usually with bad attitudes but are also hilarious.

It’s hard to be more descriptive without giving storylines away, but please read this book if you like short stories, you’ll enjoy it.

-Lauren

Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

hillbillyelegy

I spent January 20, aka Inauguration Day, reading this book in hopes it would help me understand how the United States got here. I don’t get into politics really at all on this blog but I’m not ashamed of my views. I am terrified of this administration and I’m already appalled at their actions. During the campaign, I thought that there was no way that Donald Trump would get elected, so I was in shock when he did. I want to try and understand the people who voted for him, the biggest group is the white lower to middle class, which is what this book said it would explore.

I commend Vance’s storytelling, he introduces us to his family and the larger than life character of his maternal grandmother. I enjoyed reading about his childhood and understanding how he got to where he is today. J.D. has graduated from Yale Law School and is a successful lawyer and now author. He lives with his wife in San Francisco. Vance is from Middletown Ohio which is not very far from where I grew up in Cincinnati. He talks about poverty, domestic abuse, drug abuse and alcoholism. He attempts to weave in some social science studies here and there but I don’t think it was frequent enough to achieve what he wanted.

At the book’s core, Vance seemed to preach that he came from poverty but he made it, so everyone else can too. I agree that he overcame so much; poverty, absent father, drug addict mother, poor school system etc. but he also had privileges that he doesn’t acknowledge. He had some great family members who supported him and took him in at important moments in his life. Vance often references “welfare queens” but never explains his judgments.

I liked exploring Vance’s story and I commend him for all that he has overcome but I didn’t think his social commentary had enough facts to back him up and I disagreed with his judgments.

-Lauren

Book Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

thegrownup

Per usual, I’m super behind on book reviews. January was a fantastic month for reading, I was able get through 8 books this month! Unfortunately, unemployment does help free up reading time, but hey, silver linings. In my January Book of the Month box, there was a bonus book, The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. This is a super short novella by the author of the insanely crazy hit, Gone Girl. I absolutely love Flynn’s writing style and narrative voice so I was very excited to read this.

This story follows an unnamed narrator, a young woman who is a con artist. She also is a sex worker, of sorts, it’s hard to explain. I do have to say, this has one of the funniest first lines that I have ever read. But, be warned, it is very NSFW. The narrator is a fortune teller (think cheaper Miss Cleo) and she gets caught up with a woman who is determined that her house or her stepson is cursed. The narrator sees the potential of a big payday and begins to travel to the house when she starts to see odd things happening and she has to decide what she believes.

True to Flynn form, there is a great twist to this story that will keep you guessing. She brilliantly sucks you into a funny and spooky story in only 60ish pages. If you need a quick read, I recommend this!

-Lauren

Book Review: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

yearofmagicalthinking

This review is going to be emotional and probably a bit difficult to write, but it is important. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I lost my mother on December 31, 2016. Her death was unexpected and sudden and has left me with debilitating grief. I turn to books for everything in my life, so I tried to find comfort in them during this time. I asked the wonderful Litsy community for recommendations of books dealing with grief and this is the book that was recommended the most.

This was my first time reading Joan Didion, but I knew she is absolutely legendary in the literary world. The Year of Magical Thinking is a memoir chronically her husband’s sudden death. During the time of her husband’s death, her daughter Quintana was in a coma. This book details her grief of these events.

Didion can make the most simple sentence sound poetic and lyrical. Her description of grief really resonated with me, it was so raw and real. At times it was intensely painful to read, seeing my feelings put into words. But I also couldn’t put it down, I finally felt understood. Everyone around you offers thoughts and prayers when going through a loss but you feel that no one really understands the pain that you are feeling.

Didion described the feeling of shock, helplessness, anger and guilt that plagued me in the hours, days and weeks following my mom’s death. This book is gorgeous and heartbreaking. I feel like I’ve barely begun my grieving process, but this book made me feel understood and most importantly not alone. If you’ve ever gone through a loss or know someone who has, I wholly reccomend this book.

-Lauren

The Bachelor Recap Episode 3: As Long As Nick Loves Me

thebachelorepisode3

I’m sure you all were left in suspense after last week’s episode. Nick slept with Liz at Jade and Tanner’s wedding (in case you forgot) and kept avoiding discussing it with Liz until she finally confronted him. He handled it the way that any mature adult would, he rolled his eyes and ultimately sent her home. But he realizes that he is going to have to come clean about his prior relations to the ladies because Christen already knows and she will obviously tell everyone. So what will the girls do? Cry? Riot?

None of the above. The girls are impressed at his honesty and line up to pat him on the back for this behavior. And why not? I mean it’s one less girl to compete with. Except Corinne is not happy that someone has slept with Nick who was on the show and she hasn’t yet. Her first order of business at the cocktail party is to change that. She ditches her dress for a classic “I’m naked under here” trench coat and snags a can of Reddi-Whip. She leads Nick to the privacy of the driveway and insists that he lick whipped cream off of her boob. Jasmine walks by a few times before Nick puts in an end to the free show, and Corinne is devasted. So devastated that she sleeps through the rose ceremony. We say goodbye to three blondes that you won’t remember during the ceremony.

The next group date card reads “Everybody!” which is, of course, a Backstreet Boys reference. The boys crash the mansion to everyone’s delight, except for Corinne who is apparently too young to remember them. They get to learn a dance along with Nick to perform with the Backstreet Boys at their show that night. Corinne apparently sucks at “planned dancing” so she is pouting. The overachievers are Jasmine (who is an NBA dancer) and Danielle L. Danielle wins the challenge and gets to slow dance with Nick on stage.

At the after party, Corinne tries to explain her insecurities to Nick before mauling him. She also reveals that she has a nanny to the girls, without Raquel who would cut her cucumbers and make cheese pasta? Danielle gets the rose, looking very Andi Dorfman-esque.

The one-on-one date goes to Vanessa, and they get to go on a plane ride that mimics the feeling of being in space. Sounds awesome, except it involves a plane going up and down very quickly and poor Vanessa gets nauseous. But Nick is super sweet while she is throwing up and even kisses her after. It must be true love. He even cries at dinner so Vanessa is squarely in the lead here. Of course, she got the rose.

The second group date takes place at a high-school track with some well-known track and field Olympians. It’s a Nickathalon (get it?) and the girls must compete to get time with Nick in a hot tub. Astrid really needs a new sports bra and Rachel is kicking ass. Astrid wins, kinda but  Rachel gets the rose. Meanwhile, Dominique realizes that she isn’t getting any attention and is pretty peeved. She confronts Nick, and he agrees that he hasn’t noticed her and sends her home.

In lieu of a cocktail party, Nick elects to have a pool party, so the girls grab their lotion and bikinis and get to work. Corinne obviously has a plan, and it involves a bouncy castle. She lures him in there and basically dry humps him, and all the girls can see. The girls are pissed. Raven confronts Nick and drops the nanny bomb. Vanessa seconds Raven’s objection and clarifies that she is juding Nick, not Corinne. We leave the episode with the tension between Nick and the ladies, looks like he is going to have to make a decision about Corinne real soon.

-Lauren

Book Review: The Most Dangerous Place On Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

themostdangerousplaceonearth

My second January Book of the Month selection was The Most Dangerous Place On Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson. I am a bit of a sucker for teenage drama, and this book is centered around a cyberbullying incident. Cyberbullying has become such a huge part of adolescence but I haven’t seen the jump from real life to the literary world quite yet. I was excited to read a book that really shows what current children and teenagers need to deal with in this new age of technology.

The story begins with a class of kids in the eighth-grade in a very affluent California town. Cally Broderick is the main focus, a pretty and popular girl who is blowing off her homework and trying to attract attention from the most popular boy in school, Ryan Harbinger. We are also introduced to Cally’s best friend, Abigail Cress, who is described as the stereotypical mean girl. Finally, we meet Tristan Bloch who is billed as the classic outcast. He doesn’t dress like the other kids, he spends his time with the school counselor, and his mom is very overbearing.  He tries to connect with Cally, but in her naive desire to fit in, she shares his heartfelt note with Abigail and Ryan which leads to cyber bullying. The cyber bullying eventually ends in Tristan tragically taking his own life.

After eighth-grade, we jump to the Junior year of this class of kids. Each chapter switches POV between different students and their brand new English teacher, Molly Nicoll. We meet a lot more of the students in the class then we did in the eighth-grade chapter. We see how Tristan’s death affects each of them. Cally now goes by Calista and has become a hippie-beach kid. Abigail is in a relationship with one of her teachers and has Ivy League dreams. We also meet drug addict Damon Flintov, drug dealer Nick Brickston, dancer Emma Fleed, stressed out Dave Chu, and quiet Elisebeth Avarine.

These chapters are cut with Molly Nicoll intensely trying to connect with these students, bordering on and then falling into inappropriate territory. All of these personal stories lead up to a party gone out of control and a car accident which affects five of the students. This is really the climax of the story. We check back in on Cally and some classmates in her senior year but nothing big really happens.

I felt like this story had a lot of good components. I liked the shifting POV and interconnecting story. But a lot of things just didn’t come together for me. I would’ve liked a mirror of characters in the eighth-grade chapter and the junior chapter. I felt like a lot of characters were introduced that I didn’t quite care about because I didn’t know them before their stories. There were also a lot of stereotypes that didn’t work for me, bad boys – Damon, Ryan, and Nick, and Dave Chu the Asian kid who has huge expectations on his shoulders. I also don’t know why the Senior year chapter was included, I don’t see a lot of reasoning for that. And I wanted more consequences after the car crash, the person who deals with it most is Emma Fleed, a character we aren’t invested in.

The story is intriguing and fast moving, but I feel like it could have been so much more.

-Lauren