September Wrap-Up

bookish, Writing

It’s finally fall everyone! Which means I am spending all my spare time inside drinking tea and wrapping up my yearly reading challenge! we’re starting October at 38 out of 50 books so without further ado, here’s what I thought of the books I read last month!

1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple:


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I’m a little late to the party on this one because everyone else read this book back in 2016, but I wasn’t really reading at that point in life okay!? Anyway, When I went to see “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood…” (great film) a few months back, they showed the trailer (yes, I do show up to movies early for the trailers) for the movie adaptation starring Cate Blanchett and the book was once again placed at the front of my mind. I picked up the audiobook at my local library and finished it within a couple of days. It was good. It was enjoyable and interesting but there was something about Bernadette that bugged me. Even though she is a redeeming character, and finds herself by the end of the book, I am still a huge advocate for the fact that having a mental illness does not mean you can do whatever you want and hurt the people you love, which Bernadette did and received a shockingly large amount of forgiveness on her family’s part. Looking past the character flaws, I really enjoyed the artifact/document compilation style, as well as the narration of her daughter. Overall I gave it 3/5 stars and I do intend to see the movie.

2. The Mermaid Chair By Sue Monk Kidd:


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OH BOY. I don’t even know where to start on this one. It was the last of my summer reads and as far as southern island imagery goes it’s great…but that’s also where any greatness in this book ends. Maybe it was just because I had high expectations from “The Secret Life of Bees,” or maybe it was because I’ve never been married, but I thought all the characters in this book were childish, and selfish. Jesse is a 40 year old woman who has for some reason never bothered to realize she’s her own person? So she needs to sleep with a monk? For like independence or something? Also, her mom clearly needs serious medical help but Jesse’s just like “no she’s fine,” causing her mom to sever off ANOTHER finger. I was rolling my eyes, through the whole book. I don’t recommend it, unless you need reassurance that you shouldn’t cheat on your spouse…2/5 stars.

3. Carry On By Rainbow Rowell:


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I read the book this series is based off of, “Fangirl,” probably back in the year 2014. It’s a YA romance, and that’s why, even though it’s been on my shelf for awhile, I still hadn’t read Carry On. I knew it was going to be a slow burn YA and I thought I had grown out of it by now. I am here today to say…I have not…at all. I started it on a Friday and finished it 2 days later because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Rainbow Rowell has such a strong writing style when it comes to keeping you turning the pages. It is perfectly paced and the romance is definitely cheesy but not to the point, that it covers all other story lines in the book. The characters were lovable but also flawed, and representing of all groups. It is an LGBTQ+ themed book which gives it even greater merit in the current world climate. This book was just so fun. I haven’t read anything this quickly since middle school, and I was reminded of just how much I like sitting on the couch for twelve hours straight hanging out with book characters, plus it was a great palette cleanser after reading so much true crime lately. 5/5 stars.

4. Wayward Son By Rainbow Rowell:


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Good thing I didn’t read “Carry On” 4 years ago when it came out because I was able to pick up the sequel that just came out last month right when I finished the first one. I read this one in two days too. I loved this one for all the reasons that I liked the first one but also because it represented real relationships very well. Communication is hard and the fact that Rowell uses that difficulty to contribute to her story lines is entertaining and once again keeps you turning the page. I just want these boys to figure out their feelings and be happy! Hopefully it won’t take another 4 years to get a third book. 5/5 stars.

There they are! All female authors in the month of September, so that’s cool. Check back Saturday for my October TBR!

My Go-To Coffee Orders (at every place in Billings)

Non-fiction, Writing

I’m a coffee person. I went from being a person who drank absolutely no caffeine, to being a person who needs it to survive, over the course of about a year. Naturally, with Billings, Montana being the small town that it is, I have had the opportunity to try many a latte from the few coffee places available. I always find other people’s coffee orders interesting so I had the idea to write about mine for my blog. This idea developed into a full fledged quest for coffee throughout the city. Resulting in 12 coffees, 2 teas, 2 wraps, 1 fritatta, 1 Italian soda, and 3 caffeine crash naps. This is a blog post about that quest.

I would like to start with explaining that this blog post excludes 2 coffee shops that are in Billings due to opposing political beliefs, and my long standing refusal to fund businesses that project hate towards others. With that said it’s time to meet…

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From left to right: Skyler, Maisy, and myself

“The Coffee Crusaders” (Trademark Maisy Jam 2018). I enlisted my sister Maisy (@maisyxjam on Insta) and our honorary sister Skyler (@frances_brauneis on Insta) to join in on my caffeine hijinks. With our team assembled, we were off to the ever-changing, but somehow always a staple…

MAZEVO COFFEE:

The name has changed like 3 times now but Mazevo is probably the most popular of  Billings’ local coffee shops. They have really excellent seasonal specials as well as a good bagel selection. My go-to order here is the Graham Cracker Latte. This is also where we acquired the Italian soda: ordered by Skyler who then decided she didn’t want it, so I drank it instead. Maisy drank most of the latte.

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Mazevo Graham Cracker Latte

 

STARBUCKS: 

I probably go to Starbucks the most, simply because I’m a fan of the drive thru. I actually have a couple staples here but usually I go with a coffee frappuccino. Maisy got a green tea here as well.

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Coffee Frappuccino

 

MOUNTAIN MUDD:

Another longstanding Billings fave; Mountain Mudd is a kiosk only coffee shop. They have a really yummy white chocolate latte but they are also VERY expensive. Maybe because they add sprinkles?

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The less aesthetically pleasing, White Chocolate Latte

 

CITY BREW:

Unpopular Montana opinion here, but I don’t love City Brew’s coffee so I always get strawberry smoothies here. They taste like Candy. Maisy and I also got hungry at this point and got some City Brew wraps as well.

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Smoothie and Sun-dried Tomato Wrap.

 

ROCK CREEK COFFEE:

Our first Downtown location, Rock Creek has been around since I was a baby. Their menu intimidates me so I always just get a vanilla latte. This vanilla latte in particular was made by a guy I matched with on Tinder awhile ago and never messaged. It was delicious. Good job Tinder boy.

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Maisy demonstrates how to put the straw in if the coffee is too full.

EBON COFFEE:

Ebon is the only coffee shop that has peppermint lattes on their menu year round and for that I love them. Also they have really good waffles on the weekend as well as an A+ interior decorator.

 

ANNEX COFFEE:

This is actually my favorite coffee shop to work in and also our scheduled last stop. I always get the lavender rosemary latte here which is amazing. Skyler got a fritatta here and we also took a small break since Maisy was near caffeine overdose level.

 

BLACK DOG COFFEE:

I’d never been here before today but it’s one of Maisy’s favorites so we decided to add it to the list. At this point in the day there was no way I could drink another coffee so I got a juicebox but I will definitely be going back to try their coffee. I also couldn’t not get doughnuts on National Doughnut Day so I got some powdered sugar ones that I could have eaten a million of. Skyler got a muffin and Maisy got another tea and an everything bagel “To soak up the coffee” in her stomach.

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This concluded our coffee adventure and we all promptly went home to take naps (except me who has to post this blog post). Let me know what your favorite kind of coffee is and also let me know if there’s anything else we should try out around the city. Thanks for reading this week and I’ll see you on Monday! (and before anyone asks…yes we did all have to poop afterwards.)

-A

13 Reasons Why: Season 2 Review

Non-fiction, Writing

WARNING: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE 1ST AND 2ND SEASON OF 13 REASONS WHY. IT ALSO CONTAINS DISCUSSION OF THE SENSITIVE TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THE SHOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

13 Reasons Why is Netflix’s original series that came out last year and released their second season about a week ago.

The first season was based on the book of the same title by Jay Asher and tells the story of Hannah, a girl who kills herself and leaves behind 13 tapes, each one for a different person at her school, that chronicle the events leading to her suicide.

Due to my fragile mental state, I usually refrain from watching shows that deal with suicide, but my mom had gotten me the book 5 years earlier and I had loved it. I enjoyed the first season and thought it stayed very true to the book. However the first season ended where the book ended so I was curious to see where they would go with the second season.

The first thing I will give the show credit for is it’s “bingeability” I finished the whole season in about 5 days. The show definitely keeps you engrossed and on the edge. This isn’t necessarily always for the best though. Throughout the season, the characters are faced with disaster after disaster and even when things are looking up it only lasts for about half an episode before everything once again comes crashing down. It gives the show an over all feeling of hopelessness which is not ideal for a show based around suicide.

Speaking of the shows themes, much like season one, the show faced a lot of backlash for it’s graphic depictions of rape and suicide as well as the way people deal with it. A lot of viewers say the show depicts suicide as a way that’s offensive to those that have suffered suicide attempts. Here’s my take on it: the show focuses on one story of one person. The show never claims that this is typical of all suicidal people or that all people with these experiences behave this way. The fact that the show even uses something that is so often tiptoed around as a main theme is something to be commended over the logistics of how Hannah comes to kill herself and leave the tapes. As a survivor of a suicide attempt I don’t find it offensive at all and I appreciate the shows boldness with this and other topics. The show also provides a very large selection of resources for people struggling with these topics.

The best part about this season by far was Jessica Davis’s recovery from her rape. The compassion her friends show her and how she works towards owning her experience and getting professional help is very refreshing throughout the shitshow everyone else is enduring. This, as well as Sky’s example of the person who deals with suicidal thoughts in a healthy way by going to a mental facility, brings the high-strung, emotionally charged show down to a more comfortable level.

Which brings me to the thing that annoyed me the most about this season. While every character is dealing with their mental illnesses and their problems, not once is anyone ever concerned about Clay’s vivid hallucinations. He spend half the show talking to a dead girl but somehow he’s just helping everyone else? Hallucinations are a very real symptom of mental illness and it’s annoying to see a show that’s trying so hard to shine a light on these symptoms, just brush this one under the rug.

It’s pretty obvious at the end of this season that Netflix is shooting for a third, and while the second season was engrossing it seems to me the show has completed what it was meant to do. The creation of problems at the end seemed unnecessary and it seemed like the show was just fishing for a problem that could be considered bigger than Hannah’s suicide.

Overall, the second season was well written and engrossing with all the actors once again giving incredible performances. While not as good as the first season the second season holds strong on its own. Can the third?