Let’s Party! LuLaRoe-style

Ok, so after a couple weeks of shopping and thoroughly obsessing about my comfortable and cute new clothes, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up to host an online LuLaRoe popup.

Yeah, I know.

First of all, you should know that I’m not selling anything, or signing up to sell anything. My friend and fellow YA author Jessica Love is a LuLaRoe consultant (one of many I know, it turns out!), and so I signed up to host an online pop-up with her. Picture the 1970s/1980s Tupperware parties, only this time it’s cute clothes, and instead of having you over to my house, we’re hanging out on Facebook! No pressure to buy, like when you’d show up to eat brownies at someone’s house and feel like a jerk if you left empty handed. You’ll be at home in your jammies, and no one will know if you dip in, browse, and dip out.

Ok, now here’s how the whole thing will work:

Step 1: Join the Facebook Group

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GROUP!

There will be a temporary Facebook Group set up just for this virtual pop-up, meaning you can join to check out this sale and then you’re done! No annoying news feed clutter after, unless you get seriously obsessed and start joining other groups. Not a Facebook user? Good news! Jessica uses an app called Shop the Roe, so it’s possible, once the party goes live, to just click on that link (I’ll share it across my social media) and shop entirely through that, bypassing Facebook entirely. BUT if you’re in the Facebook group, you’ll have the chance to win cool stuff like discounts and free items.

Step 2: Shop when the sale goes live!

Shopping will start on Monday, April 10th at 8:30pm EST, and will remain available until Tuesday, April 11th at 8:30pm EST. All you have to do is scroll through, and if you see something you like, click “Claim.” When you’re finished, click “Done Shopping,” and enter your payment and shipping, and your stuff will be en route to you!

Seriously, that’s it! Two steps! Ok, surely there’s more, right? Nope, but if you’re curious or just a person who thrives on information in new situations (hi, it’s me), here’s some stuff I learned when I started this obsession …

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GROUP!

Meet Your Girl Gang
All the LuLaRoe pieces are named after girls, and yes, people do refer to them as if they’re real people. Yes, it’s kind of weird. Also, LuLaRoe people love puns. #HowIRoe #RoeWithMe #RoeMyEyes

If you want it, grab it!
The consultant usually only has one thing in a particular pattern/size, so if you see something you like in your size, snag it! There’s not an endless supply … or even really a supply. Everything the consultant has will be shown, so there’s no secret back room stash.

With LLR, Sizing Matters … and Doesn’t
Here is a comprehensive size chart for all the items LuLaRoe sells. Most women will fit into a couple of sizes of each item, depending on how they want things to fit. You can go up a size if you want to belt something or tie it up. You can go down if you want something a little more fitted. Most everything is stretchy and forgiving. I also find this chart handy for determining if an item runs true-to-size or if you should go up/down. Basically all the tops are designed so they can be paired with leggings, meaning they’re going to cover your butt.

Full Disclosure: I’m 5’4 and normally 125lbs with a 34B chest … although that’s all gone to hell now that I’m pregnant. Anyway, I mention that to say that as a giant pregnant lady I’m wearing all my normal sizes in LuLaRoe, and they are:
Azure: Small (I may fit an XS like, six months after I have this kid, but who wants to rush that?)
Carly: XS (These run big. They recommend going down 1-2 sizes. The only thing keeping me out of an XXS is the pregnancy boobs … if you’re not rocking a big rack, you can go all the way down)
Perfect Tee: XXS … I could do an XS, but I like my tops to be a little more fitted
Classic Tee: XXS (same as above)
Monroe / Lindsey: Small (really little/slight ladies can fit the Bianca, the kid’s kimono, in a 3, which is cheaper!)
Irma: XXS (these are very long and loose through the torso, so definitely size down)
Randy: I don’t have one, since these aren’t bump friendly, but I like a looser fit so I’ll probably go Small on these

Dresses and Madison skirts are a no for me with the giant belly, but I definitely can’t wait to give them a whirl after I have this kid. Unfortunately, that means I’ve got no insight into how they fit. But there’s tons of info online if you’re curious (and I’m guessing I’ll be a small in Madison just like I am in Azure). This blog post from rock, STYLE, teach was hugely helpful when I was trying to figure out sizes.

Leggings
Leggings come in two sizes: One Size (OS) or Tall and Curvy (TC). You wouldn’t think it would work, but it does. My OS leggings fit up over my 3rd trimester belly comfortably. They’ve got a nice wide waistband that’s not constricting (these are not compression leggings, fyi) that is very forgiving. The patterns range anywhere from sedate to Mrs. Frizzle, so be prepared. Solids are famously in short supply, and don’t even try to find black leggings. In LuLaRoe Land, those are referred to as “unicorns,” and yes, you can feel free to eye roll.

Pregnant? Nursing? Body in Transition?
The worst thing about postpartum life, for me, was finding clothes that fit. I felt like my body was a different size every day, I wanted nothing to do with maternity clothes, and then of course there was breastfeeding. I so wish I’d had this stuff back then (when I was buying a new pair of cheap jeans every couple of weeks), but I have it for my second go ’round! Everything I own will transition right from pregnancy into postpartum life. And even better? While I’m maybe possibly (seriously, we’ll see) getting my body back over the course of the next year, I won’t have to worry about keeping a collection of clothes in various sizes. I can wear all this stuff that whole time, and I’ll be comfortable and cute to boot!

Ok, so now what?

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GROUP!

If you’re at all interested, just click the link and join the Facebook group, that way you won’t miss when the sale goes live (and you’ll be able to win cool stuff!). Again, there’s no pressure, and I’ve joined plenty of sales and not bought a thing. You do not have to feel weird about that. If you have any questions, ask ’em below in the comments for email me. Anyone can join the group, you can invite others to join, you don’t have to know me or read my books!

Happy shopping, LuLaLovelies! (Oh god, I’m one of them now, aren’t I….)

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

And I’m back! Time for another edition of What’s Making Me Happy This Week. It’s been a good one, so here we go!

I don’t have gestational diabetes!

After getting the news that I failed my 1-hour glucose test, I was feeling pretty low. First of all, it meant I’d have to take the dreaded 3-hour glucose test (fast after midnight, arrive at your doctor’s office, get a blood draw, then drink a bottle of glucose syrup in under 5 minutes, then get your blood drawn every hour for 3 hours). It also meant I might actually have gestational diabetes, which would mean cutting out basically all my favorite pregnant lady foods (milkshakes, cookies, doughnuts, and all manner of carbs). The test itself was both easier than I thought (I was so hungry/thirsty from the fast that I downed that bottle of fruit punch syrup no  problem) and worse (because I was dehydrated from the fast, my veins were not super cooperative and it took 6 needle sticks and some digging around to get 4 blood draws). But today I got the news that I passed! And celebrated with a trip to Dunkin’ Doughnuts.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

During my three hours of sitting in my midwife’s office, I burned through Sarah Dessen’s newest book. Getting that galley felt like finding a unicorn, and reading it definitely didn’t disappoint. I think Once and for All joins Along for the Ride and The Truth About Forever on my list of favorite Dessen books. I just loved Ambrose and all the wedding planning stuff, and a plot point I won’t spoil for you because the way it unfolds is just beautiful and wonderful and heartbreaking. If you haven’t preordered it yet, GET ON IT ALREADY!

Shiny New Idea!

My current writing notebook from ban.do and my ride or die Sharpie pen

I told myself I was going to take some time off between turning in the revision on book 5 and starting book 6. But then I was struck with a shiny new idea, and it just kept itching at my brain. I haven’t actually sat down at the computer yet, but I’ve been outlining and drafting scenes in a notebook. I love those heady early days of a new idea. It reminds me of the excitement and optimism when you start dating someone new, and I hope I can ride this for as long as possible (and maybe even get some semblance of a draft before this baby comes?).

 

Before I go, remember how last week I told you I fell down a LuLaRoe rabbit hole? Because yeah, I was tuning into a couple live Facebook sales while fiddling with this shiny new idea and ended up winning two pairs of leggings and also scoring an Azure skirt on big time sale. Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and host a one-time online pop-up with awesome fellow YA author Jessica Love on April 10th! So if you’re at all interested in checking out LuLaRoe, comment below, and I’ll be sure to poke you when we get closer to the sale! I’ll definitely do a more in-depth blog post on how it works (because I was totally mystified when I first started checking it out), but the long and short is you can pop in and just look, so it’s totally no pressure!

Scored this awesome 70s-ish skirt (for less than $35, it was on big time sale!) and can’t wait to rock it all summer!

 

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

I love podcasts. They’re my fave for when I’m in the car, or when I’m out on a run (which, let’s be honest, hasn’t happened since before I was pregnant … but I’ll be back to it soonish!). And one of my favorite, never-miss podcasts is NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s hosted by Linda Holmes, who is so smart and funny and damn good at moderating a panel full of people with OPINIONS. Pop Culture Happy Hour ends every episode with “and now it’s time for our favorite segment of this week and every week, What’s Making Us Happy This Week,” and then they go around the table sharing their recommendation for, well, you get the idea.

And because we can all use a little happiness in our lives these days, I’ve decided to steal the idea and share with you some things that are making me happy.

I turned in the revision on my 5th YA novel!

I sound like a broken record, but someday (I SWEAR) we will announce this beast and I’ll be able to tell you all about it. In the meantime, just know it’s a lil bit different from what I normally write, but still contemp. It’s with a new editor whom I absolutely adore. And it’s an idea I first started playing around with in 2013. Oh, and I’ve been sitting on this secret for A YEAR, which is killing me because I suck at secret keeping.

I went down a Lularoe rabbit hole

I have enough Facebook friends who spend their time crowing over their “butter-soft” leggings that I had to see what this is all about. Because you know me and loungewear are besties, right? I joined a local Lularoe group, checked out a couple sales, but was hesitant to actually buy because HELLO I’M GREAT WITH CHILD I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THOSE THINGS FIT RIGHT NOW! But then I won a contest in the Lula group I’m in, a fringed kimono called a “Monroe.” So off I went to the consultant’s home for one of her pop-up shops to pick it out.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lularoe, it’s basically uber-comfortable clothes in patterns ranging from sedate to funky to elderly art teacher (sorry … it’s true). You can only buy the stuff from “consultants,” making it a lot like Tupperware or Pampered Chef. Only the perk of Lularoe is that it’s possible to only ever shop the online pop-up sales, making it the anti-social Tupperware, and that is totally my speed.

Anyway, off I went to the pop-up shop, held by a woman I do not know (at her home!), and no one I knew was in attendance. Basically I earned 1,000 introvert points and don’t have to leave my house for a month (these are the lengths I’ll go to when you offer me a free $50 clothing item, guys). And because I felt like a jerk walking in, taking my free piece, and peacing out, I shopped. And ended up going home with a skirt and a top, both of which will be perfectly comfy and postpartum/breastfeeding-friendly for the summer.

I didn’t buy leggings, which are basically the Lularoe gospel, because I keep seeing stories pop up online about how lately they’ve been ripping very quickly (apparently you’re also supposed to wash them separately, inside out, and hang to dry, and mama ain’t got time for that kind of laundry maintenance … my whites barely get their own cycle around here). But the quality of the stuff I bought feels good.

FullSizeRender

The kimono I won (and though I NEVER would have bought that for myself, I kinda love it), the shirt reminded me of Jane Fonda-era workout videos, and the skirt is just damn comfy.

Anyway, it’s possible for Lularoe to become a cult or an addiction (seriously, spend 5 minutes reading blog posts about it and you’ll refuse any beverages you’re offered at subsequent Lula parties), but for someone with a transitioning body for the next, oh, 6 months, I’m down for a little kool-aid drinking in exchange for some comfy, kooky clothes. I’m thinking of partnering up with a consultant to host an online party (this would not make me a consultant, because I absolutely do not have the fortitude for that business). So if you’d be interested in hopping into a Facebook group and browsing silly leggings and cute dresses, lemme know in the comments!

I love Instagram Stories

Hello, my name is Lauren, and I’m addicted to Instagram Stories. Am I particularly “good” at it? Not really. I definitely don’t know my angles, as evidenced by the fact that I often look like I’ve just been thrown from a moving car in my stories. And I’m sure most of what I have to say is 90% ridiculous. But if you love Insta Stories or simply want to watch me be stupid on the internet, I highly recommend following me. I’m also a big Insta-story watcher. Busy Phillips is one of my favorite celebs, and Morgan Matson is great bookish follow (I always feel like a big-time slacker watching her stories … she’s such a hard worker!).

And that’s it for this week! I’m still mostly off Twitter (I pop in now and again, but it’s only on my desktop computer these days), so if you want to keep up, check Instagram! And head on down to the comments to tell me what’s making you happy this week, so we can spread the joy around!

Little Brother Wishlist

We’re about three-ish months away from baby boy #2. I know, can you believe it? This one has gone a lot faster than the first (although I’ll be honest, 3 months still feels like an eternity). We’ve got the nursery partially set up (I say partially, because half of my office crap is still in there), I unpacked all the newborn clothes from their storage bin and washed them. There’s really not that much to do, because I saved EVERYTHING from our first go-’round. We still have the crib, the mamaRoo, the Rock ‘n Play, the blankets and the burp cloths. We’ve got our stroller and infant carseat and the infant bathtub. We really don’t need anything.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not lusting after some cute baby stuff. So here’s my baby #2 wishlist.

little-brotherwishlist

Solly Baby Swaddle Set

I’ve still got my Solly wrap (and our hand-me-down Ergo) from the first time, but I’d love to get one of these swaddle sets. They’re so light, which will be perfect for the Georgia summer (Freddie was born in October, so his blankets tend to be warmer). I’m eyeing the Succulent/Stripe set.

Chicco Lullago Portable Bassinet

As new parents, our biggest hurdle the first time around was infant sleep. I distinctly remember sitting up all night that first night at home, terrified to put him down in his crib lest he flip himself over onto his face like some kind of wunderkind Russian gymnast and suffocate. I think we missed the window on getting him to sleep on his back in those early weeks, and as a result he would only snooze on me or in his mamaRoo. I’d like to avoid that this time around, and I’m thinking this portable bassinet would be perfect for him to sleep by our bed. And the sky color is so pretty!

Basically all the Aden + Anais stuff

One thing we didn’t keep were all the awesome AA bibs we had (mostly because Freddie thoroughly destroyed them), so I want to get all new ones. I love the burpy bibs in the early days, and the snap bibs after that. I also love their hooded bath towels and all their super cute summer rompers. And I’d like to get lil brother his own set of the silky soft blankets. They’re amazing when kiddos are little, because you can spread them out anywhere for a portable play area (they’re HUGE). They’re good nursing covers, good stroller covers, nice and light so they don’t get hot, and just generally fantastic utility blankets. At two and a half, Freddie loves his (he calls them his “snuggle blankets”), so they’re definitely not getting handed down. Basically adan + anais can take ALL MY MONEY.

Joovy Caboose

One thing we don’t have is a double stroller. I don’t think we’ll need a full-size one, because Freddie really likes to walk places, so I have my eye on the Joovy Caboose, a lightweight sit-and-stand stroller. I saw one in the airport recently, and watching the parents fold it up in one quick flick was awesome. I think it’ll be great for times when I take both kiddos out at once and need Freddie to be wrangled, or things like family trips to the zoo or the aquarium. Love that blue color!

The nice thing about it is that I don’t *need* any of this stuff, they’re all just mostly *wants.* There’s not much of a sense of urgency this time, or the need to pour giant amounts of money into the baby-industrial complex. But that doesn’t mean I won’t treat myself (er, the baby … I mean treat the baby).

Twitter Hiatus: Accomplished

I did it! I said I was going to stay off Twitter for the month of February, and I did! The first few days were a little rough, and I constantly kept tapping the spot where the app was on my phone out of habit (and opening my tip calculator instead). I’d say there was basically no downside to leaving, other than it took me a few hours to find out that Bill Paxton died. It was also kind of a bummer to miss out on the Oscar tweets, but I ended up working on my revision instead of tweeting, so it worked out. In fact, that was the point: spend less time scrolling, spend more time in my life.

And boy did I.

I set a goal to read four books in February, after being in a serious reading slump in January. And without Twitter? I read 10. I set a goal of finishing my massive revision on my next book, and while I didn’t *quite* get there, after a kickass phone call with my editor today to discuss the ending, I’ll have it done in a week. I spent a lot of time in the unseasonably warm (even for Georgia) weather, playing with my kid and laying in the grass and doing some champion porch sitting.

So, the question is … am I going to go back? I’m not sure. I felt so much more relaxed this month. I definitely felt my blood pressure drop. I slept really well without the Twitter before bed, Twitter right after I wake up habit. I missed catching up with friends, but I think ultimately the pros outweighed the cons. So I think after I check in on my notifications, I’m going to disappear again. I’ve got some news that I’ll get to share soon, and once that hits, I’ll pop back in. We’ll see what happens from there.

In the meantime, enjoy my February reading list. I sure did!

How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore … totally unexpected. Picture mean girls, but dark

The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson … a really sweet, fun Dessen-y type contemporary

Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki … Sorry, sometimes a mom’s gotta mom. If you’re facing potty training, I highly recommend this one

Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm … sigh, they just don’t publish fluffy contemporaries like this anymore. And it’s a damn shame, because this was FUN

The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu … good lord that was some gorgeous writing

All Fall Down by Ally Carter … a great start to a new series full of spies and hijinx

We Are Ok by Nina LaCour … is there anything I could say about this gorgeous and heartbreaking novel that hasn’t already been said?

Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez … another one that was just all about the writing that I really dug

The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern … one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Finished it in one day. Lovely story, great characters, and a perfect romance

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan … reread this one because I needed a fun comfort read. Just as fantastic the second time around!

A much-needed break

Hi guys! How’s everybody doing?

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Are you done screaming yet?

Yeah, it’s been a rough few weeks. On top of the world news and he whose name I shall not speak, I’ve also had 4 weeks of my 2 year old in a body cast followed by almost 2 weeks where he couldn’t walk. Then my grandmother died, so the 2 year old and I had to solo road trip down to Florida for the funeral (thankfully that was actually a fairly painless trip … turns out my kiddo loves hotels!). Oh, and I’m way behind on a project that’s due … well … today. But I just can’t focus, and it’s partly the world out there, and it’s partly my own fault. I need to find a balance.

So in that spirit, I’ve decided to take a Twitter hiatus for the month of February. I’ve been heartened by seeing the activism present there, and it’s been great for mobilizing, but the fact of the matter is it’s too much for me right now. I’m 5 months pregnant, and I’m starting to feel the stress of the news cycle in a physical way. I’m also parenting a toddler, and I’ve caught myself way too many times helping to set up brio trains or lego towers with my phone in my hand, constantly scrolling and feeling the acid rising in my throat. So for the next 28 days, I’m going to take a break from it. I’m going to get my news by making a once daily visit to NPR.org and my weekly listen to the Slate Political Gabfest. I’ll be doing Dahlia Adler’s Author Life Month on Instagram (follow me at laurenmorrill) and probably taking silly videos of my dinner and my kid on Instagram stories. But otherwise, I’m tuning out for a bit.

No seriously, I am. I’m about to change my Twitter password to something random, which I will write down and hide in the back of my desk. Then I’m going to delete the app off my phone. No more Twitter first thing when I wake up. No more Twitter last thing before I go to bed. A real, actual hiatus.

And hopefully with some time off, I’ll be able to find my own version of good again. I know that sounds selfish, but the road is long, and I can’t burn out now. And I especially can’t burn out when I’ve got two little guys counting on me. I’m hoping to use my extra free time to get back to writing and read some books (seriously, all I’ve read lately is The Handmaid’s Tale, which is excellent, but not exactly heartwarming). I want to take more walks outside (February is basically the start of spring where I live, so it’s lovely to be out and about). I’ll share what’s making me happy on Instagram stories, and I may even pop in here from time to time. But otherwise I’ll be focusing a little more on the home front.

And if you’re looking for permission or encouragement to take a breather, let this be one. There is a hell of a lot of resistance to be done outside of Twitter, and sometimes it’s ok to find out about the news a few hours later (and actually it can mean skipping a lot of the alarmist insta-reactions and getting the actual, factual stuff). As the great Jerry Springer used to say at the end of his show, “Take care of yourselves, and each other.”

My 2016 Year in Reading

I don’t blog much anymore (that’s actually one of my 2017 resolutions, because with the year we’re about to have, I feel like I have more to say than what can be conveyed in a tweet), but my year in reading post is stalwart. I had a pretty good year, though I fell just shy of my 100 books goal (I actually thought I was about to meet it with the book I’m reading now, but then realized I’d miscounted … oops!). So without further adieu, here’s my faves:

The Great Harry Potter Reread
I’d read the first 4 books a couple times, but this year I decided to do a complete series reread for the first time ever. And holy wow did those books hold up. I actually enjoyed the 7th book more the second time around than I did the first (it seemed like they wandered in the woods less than I remembered?). My favorite is a tie between The Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
It’s a hard book to read, but one I think we all need to as we move into 2017. Of course, I didn’t know what would be coming when I read it back in February (oh, you sweet summer child…).

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
This was such a Lauren book … snark, humor, and amazing chemistry in the romance. I looooved Jack, the book boyfriend. I’m really looking forward to what Jenn Bennett does next.

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas
This is one that had sat on my shelf for a long time before I finally picked it up. And damn, is it good. I’d put this right up there with Perks of Being a Wallflower for instant classic, and yet so many YA fans I know haven’t read it. It has a really interesting format, and the voice is really fantastic. Highly recommend for YA readers looking for a deep cut.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Another book that had been on my shelf for a while, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. I’ve loved all Leila’s books, and this one is right up there (I also reread my favorite of hers, This Song Will Save Your Life this year). I was truly surprised by the plot, which is something that doesn’t happen to me a lot, what with all the YA I read. Leila Sales stays on my auto-buy list.

Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
Speaking of Leila Sales, this is her middle grade book that came out this year. Middle grade is not normally my thing, but like I said, Leila = auto-buy. And man, I was not disappointed. It’s a great twist on time travel that I devoured in one sitting (I stayed up late to finish!). I’m pretty sure this would have been 5th grade Lauren’s very favorite book.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Elana K. Johnston
This was a one-sitting read for me. It’s heavy, but it a way that you don’t see often, and I think it does a lot of good work to combat rape culture. There are some amazing characters in this one, and if you missed it, go back and pick it up.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
I read 3 JoJo Moyes books this year, but this one was by far my favorite. The characters felt so vibrant and real, and I think it did a really good job exploring the realities of poverty. The romance was also very sweet.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Pride & Prejudice retelling for anyone who ever wanted Elizabeth and Darcy to bone. ‘Nuff said.

The Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally
I’m pretty sure this was my favorite book I read this year. I read it as a galley, and when it came out I made sure to get a hard cover. You hear “If you love Sarah Dessen, you’ll love …” all the time, but this book really means it. It’s got a really interesting POV that you never see in YA, but here it absolutely works. I’m already looking forward to my reread.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I read several adult books this year (gasp!), and enjoyed a lot of them. I’ve heard really mixed reviews on this one, but it really worked for me. Despite being a story about rich white people problems, it never felt cynical. It was funny and heartfelt, and I loved the characters.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Savenaz Tash
Another 100% Lauren book. If you love John Hughes movies and classic rom coms, this book is absolutely for you, whether you’re into comics or fandom or not. It just made me so happy, which is really what I need from books these days.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Another one that sat on my shelf, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. Even more glad that I picked it up just as the sequel was coming out, because Crooked Kingdom was just as good, if not better. It’s like Ocean’s 11 meets Gangs of New York … but with magic. How’s that for a pitch? Seriously, believe the hype and just read this. I”m not even a fantasy person and I loved it.

The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas
Speaking of hype, this has got to be one of the most-hyped books of 2017. Which can be a dangerous position to be in, particularly for a debut. Well, I got an ARC of it, and I gotta say, it 100% lived up to the hype. In fact, I’d say it exceeded my sky-high expectations. The characters are so vivid and amazing (I seriously loved her father), and it’s the perfect example of why #ownvoices is important. I truly don’t think any tourist writer could write even one tenth of this level of realism and create such wonderful, full-realized characters.

Party of One by Dave Holmes (audio)
My favorite audiobook genre is “Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Celebrity,” and this was far and away my favorite of these. Maybe because it hit my nostalgia button, maybe because Dave Holmes is hilarious and a damn fantastic writer, maybe it was his own great reading. Whatever it was, I was all in. This one joins Amy Poehler’s Yes Please as an audio book I’ll listen to again.

And there you have it! My favorite reads of 2016. Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn will probably hop on this list, too, but I haven’t finished it yet.

So spill in the comments … what were your favorite reads of 2016?

A Merry Broken Christmas

If you’ve been following along on Twitter, you know that these past 2 weeks have been pretty, well, challenging. My sweet little full-of-energy two year old broke his leg at the trampoline park. And not just any break, but a spiral fracture of his femur. When the ER doctor put the x-ray up, I gasped, that’s how clear it was. And the only way to immobilize a broken femur in a toddler is to put him in a spica cast. If you, like me, had no idea what a spica cast is, behold

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Yup, that’s chest down, both legs, with a bar in the middle. And he had to go under anesthesia to have it put on. And stay the night in the hospital. It was a pretty insane weekend, and it only got a little easier once we got home.

For the past two weeks, my husband and I have basically been on parenting duty 24/7. He sleeps in the guest bed, and one of us has to sleep with him to make sure he doesn’t try to fling himself out. He also wakes frequently when he wants to turn over and needs to be soothed back to sleep. He also needs to be entertained from his toddler bed stationed in the living room, because of course a two year old isn’t meant to be immobilized on his back for 4 minutes, much less 4 weeks. It’s exhausting and frustrating and very, very sad.

Not to mention that it means Christmas is basically cancelled at our house. We were planning to go to my mom’s house to celebrate, but obviously we can’t make the 5 hour drive. We don’t have the energy to cook any kind of Christmas dinner (though I did manage to sneak in a batch of peanut blossoms last night, because dammit if I can go without my favorite Christmas cookie). Oh, and to cap off the Christmas is Cursed 2k16fest, while in the hospital with Freddie we forgot to water our tree. It died, of course, and now we have to take it down probably tomorrow before it engulfs us all in a happy holiday inferno.

I know it could all be worse*, but it still blows pretty hard. The good news is we found out on Wednesday that we’re getting the cast off a couple days early. January 4th is liberation day, and oh what a sweet day it’ll be! I can’t wait to see my sweet little guy running and dancing again. I can’t wait to get back to our normal lives.

I can’t wait to never EVER go to a trampoline park again.

*Pro tip: the only person who is allowed to say “it could be worse,” is the person going through the thing. You should never EVER say it to a person who is knee-deep in their own shit.

Gilmore Girls Reboot, or, It’s All Just A Little Bit of History Repeating

Despite visiting family for Thanksgiving, I managed to spend my Friday hiding away, huddled over my phone watching all six hours of the Gilmore Girls reboot. From the moment Winter started, with the ghostly callbacks to old episodes, I knew that as a fan, I was in for a treat. I started my Friday morning off sobbing, and I finished off the day gasping.

So those last four words … honestly, I wasn’t a fan who’d obsessed much over them. I never tried to figure out what they were, and even as I was watching, I wasn’t thinking much about what was coming. So when Rory outed with them? Yeah, I was pretty shocked. And for about five minutes, I was straight up livid. How could that be IT? That’s all we get? But after just a little bit of thinking, I realized that the ending wasn’t at all ambiguous. Amy Sherman Palladino laid it all out for us; all we had to do was put it together.

Ok, ready for spoilers? SPOILERS! AVERT YOUR EYES TO THE SPOILERS!

The theme of the entire reboot was “full circle.” In Winter, when Lorelai and Emily have their fight at the funeral and Emily throws her daughter out, Lorelai says to her, “Full freaking circle.” And that theme continues, with a mini Lorelai-Rory rift (mirroring the 6th season), a Luke and Lorelai rift (mirroring the 7th season). In Fall, when Lorelai approaches Emily about expanding the Dragonfly, Emily’s words are an exact echo of Richard’s in the pilot. “You need money.” A statement, not a question. Even a new arrangement is born, with Nantucket visits a condition of the money (thought Lorelai definitely came out in the plus column on this one).

So how does this relate back to the four words?

Going full on full circle, ASP has set up Logan as Rory’s Christopher, while Jess is her Luke. That longing look Jess shot Rory through the window? That was 100% Luke watching Lorelai from behind the diner counter. And Logan with his elaborate Life and Death Brigade stunts? Reminds me of Christopher opening that Paris restaurant or setting up the drive-in on the side of the barn. Sweet and thoughtful and fun, but things he can only give his love because he’s got mad cash. And Rory visiting her father to grill him about his parenting (which, can we talk about how odd that scene was? I swear, it was like Rory and Christopher weren’t actually in the same room when they filmed it …) was all about her trying to figure out if she can Lorelai it if Logan still marries that Odette woman (ugh with Rory being ok with being the side piece for so long).

So I think if we want to fill in the future for Rory, Logan’s going to pop in and out of her life. He’ll be charming, and he’ll throw money at problems. He and Rory may even have some on-again off-again fun. But he’ll never quite be what she needs him to be. Meanwhile, Jess will remain around, steadfast and waiting, until Rory’s finally ready to be with him. He’ll be to her (and her kid) was Luke was to Lorelai and Rory, and eventually they’ll get together and read beat poets and listen to punk together forever (though hopefully it won’t take them as long as Lorelai and Luke).

Am I happy about that? Yeah. We got the best of both worlds. We got to see Logan and Rory’s incredible chemistry (which no matter what team you are, you absolutely cannot deny), plus we got to see Logan climb out of bed wearing nothing but boxer shorts. And I’ve always been a Jess fan, even though I think teenage Jess was a rotten punk who treated Rory like dirt (what can I say? I love a bad boy with good hair). He definitely redeemed himself, and continues to show that he knows how to support Rory when she really needs it (getting her to realize she needs to go back to Yale, helping her see what story she really needs to write).

Did I think the reboot was perfect? No. The casual racism of the Berta storyline was one giant cringe, as was the “can’t we borrow some gays?” The body shaming at the pool was just plain gross, and completely beneath Rory and Lorelai. And Lane’s scenes were utterly weightless. ASP totally screwed Lane in the original series (literally), and she did nothing to cut her a break this time around. I wanted to see more of that vibrant, creative, fierce woman who stood by Rory’s side (even when she frankly didn’t deserve it). I loved Paris, but I hated that she had a meltdown over not-even-actual Chad Michael Murray. Where was “this great man was not brought down by my vagina?” Paris? Though I did love seeing her block the bathroom door with her spike heel. Oh, and the musical went on 5ever, and was clearly evidence of what happens when ASP doesn’t have to edit. Also, what in the ever loving my god was going on with Luke’s hair? And I could have lived without a Francie cameo.

But as a fan, I still loved it. I loved catching up with friends (I thought Dean got redeemed big time in the reboot, after being written into the personality of a dirty sweat sock by season 5). I’ve always been a sucker for the Life and Death Brigade, so again, while that scene went on for a little too long, I was still all in for it. I loved everything they did with Richard’s death. I straight up sobbed at his funeral, seeing that Chuck Berry record next to the casket. I loved Rory returning to his study to write, which I know would have made him endlessly happy. I also loved Emily giving no fucks and taking no bullshit (setting aside that awful Berta storyline). Her scene at the DAR interview (when she’s wearing that incredible blue suit? YAS!) was one of the best moments of the reboot.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write Gilmore Girls: The Next Generation fanfic.

First Trimester Redux

If you’re some kind of Twitter Sherlock, it’s possible you’ve figured out what my big news is by now. At least 50% of my tweets (at least before the election, ugh) were about being tired, going to bed early, or eating candy and baked goods and Mexican food. If you’ve seen me in the last month or so, you might even have noticed that my clothes don’t fit and I have no fucks to give about that fact. But for every tweet you saw, there were about ten more I didn’t share because YOU DON’T TELL BEFORE THE END OF THE FIRST TRIMESTER WHAT ARE YOU A MONSTER WHO WANTS TO CURSE YOUR UNBORN CHILD?

So here’s where I’ve been, lo these last 8 weeks…

4 Weeks

Holy crap, I’m pregnant. And in Boston for the Boston Teen Author Festival. Where I’d planned to drink cocktails and sip wine with sassy writer folk. Thank you to Emery Lord and Zoraida Cordova for barely batting an eye when I ordered a cranberry and soda with lime at the bar. And Victoria Schwab, you cannot know how desperately I coveted your Moscow Mule.

5 Weeks

Trying to put it out of my mind. Mostly feeling nothing. After an early miscarriage last time around, I’m trying to focus on getting past this week. I become insanely superstitious, because when everything is out of your hands you try to grasp for the illusion of control. There are lots of wishes on eyelashes and stepping over sidewalk cracks. I am 90% useless when it comes to basically everything else.

6 Weeks

Oh, hi, I’m tired. This is about the time when I started getting into bed around 8:30pm every night (which quickly pushed back to 7:30). I’m also starting to get a little queasy, but am otherwise ok. But I totally spilled the beans to Jackson Pearce, because I’m not a good secret keeper, and I needed to tell someone!

7 Weeks

Nausea. All the nausea. All the time nausea. I do a lot of deep breathing, drinking of ginger ale, chewing of peppermint gum, and otherwise slamming food into my face because surprisingly, the thing that most quells the nausea is eating. I might have to name this child Taco, because that’s basically all I want to eat. I think my body is 70% queso at this point.

8 Weeks

Still nauseous, still eating everything all the time. Food is now serious business. When I get home from a run to a Wendy’s drive-thru and discover my cheeseburger is not plain (as I ordered it), but in fact has everything on it, I throw it across the living room. It is not my finest hour. (In my defense, it was still in the wrapper, so I didn’t make a giant mess). Also got to see the little bugger on an ultrasound and confirm everything is as it should be. I cry tears of joy. The family is told. Plans begin.

9 Weeks

Halloween. I bought 5 bags of candy. I had 4 trick or treaters. I consider this an epic win. While in Kentucky for the Kentucky Book Fair, I went to Whole Foods, filled up a bag from the cookie bar, went back to my hotel, got into my jammies, climbed into bed, and watched Grey’s Anatomy and ate cookies until I fell asleep. At 8:30pm.

10 Weeks

The election happened. I stayed up later than I have since I found out I was pregnant, only to discover the unthinkable happened. I cried myself to sleep (hard), and spent the rest of the week feeling like garbage, inside and out, wondering what kind of world my children (because now there would be two of them) would inherit.

11 Weeks

Nausea is starting to subside, but with that comes the maternity pants. MATERNITY. PANTS. Things happen a lot earlier with the second kid, that’s for sure. I’m pretty sure everyone who sees me suspects something, but I can’t be bothered to care. I’m still so salty about the election that I’ll fight anyone who dares say anything to me. Also, I cry at everything. EVERYTHING. Every story about the election, every sappy commercial, most stories on NPR. I cannot get through Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of It’s Quiet Uptown without full on weeping. I even cried over the showcase showdown on The Price is Right because it just seemed so nice for that lady that she might get to go to Sicily! (She hadn’t even won yet, they’d only just ANNOUNCED the showcase showdown when the tears sprang to my eyes).

12 Weeks

The end of the first trimester, which feels like a marathon (of course, the marathon is only just beginning, and with birth at the end, it’s more like one of those marathons where you finish and crap yourself while hobbling over the finish line wondering why you did this to yourself). I’m now able to stay up past 8pm. But, as I suspected over the last 8 weeks, nothing good is really happening after 8pm.

So there it is. Eight weeks worth of ridiculous moments that I wanted to share with you, but couldn’t, because like I mentioned, superstition took hold of me. The first trimester went a lot faster this time, but I was also a lot more nervous during it, thanks to the aforementioned miscarriage. This morning I was practically holding my breath while I waited for the midwife to locate the heartbeat, but there it was, pounding away. It made me think about John Green’s post-election video, and his meditation on hope. Because in times like these, it’s really all we have. Well, that and the fight. You bet your ass I’ll be doing the fight, no matter how tired or big I get, I won’t stop fighting. Because I’m now responsible for two people in this world, and I’ll try my damnedest to make it a good one for them and for everyone else.

This is definitely not the kind of sentiment I imagined myself sharing when it came to spilling the news. I, like most everyone else I know, thought I’d be talking about how my new kid would never know about this thing called the glass ceiling. I thought this new kid would show up to a world that wasn’t perfect, but was at least trying every day to be better. Instead we have this. And so I fight.

By the way, We Need Diverse Books is receiving matching donations up to $1000 today, thanks to Justina Ireland. I gave, because what else can I do at this point but try to make books better for kids who really need them. Go donate today, ok?