Exploring the Bloomingdale Neighborhood of Washington, DC

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Happy Wednesday! If you were following along on my Instagram this past weekend, you may have noticed that I ventured over to the Bloomingdale neighborhood of DC to check out their farmer’s market (it’s open seasonally from 9-1) and try the highly recommended Big Bear Cafe. The verdict? I loved both, and everyone local needs to scoot on over there soon if they haven’t already!

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My Sunday was pretty much wide open when I woke up (aside from having plans to head home and see my family–including my new baby cousin–in the afternoon). I sometimes struggle when I don’t have concrete plans set out for the weekend. As much as I cherish my alone time, I sometimes feel “behind” or just boring when I don’t have things lined up to do. However, Sunday was a perfect example of how relaxing it can be to just have a free day to explore someplace new. After using my free birthday spin credit at Zengo Cycle (woohoo!), I decided to Uber Pool on over to Bloomingdale to catch the last half hour of their farmer’s market. Not gonna lie, I was largely tempted because of the adorable photos I’d seen of it on Instagram over the past several weeks!

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The farmer’s market was small and a little Gilmore Girls-like, with a singer, a few different stands, and tons of photo-worthy fruit. I was starving from my workout and had heard great things about Big Bear Cafe, so I decided I’d see what the fuss  was all about. I ordered a breakfast sandwich with delicious runny eggs (perfection!) and an iced coffee, and sat outside and people-watched. Part of my wished I had a book with me, but it was also super calming to just sit at my table and pretend I was at a little cafe in Europe (I was texting pictures of the leafy outdoor space to my mom and sister, and they immediately were jealous!).

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Other than this mini adventure, I honestly hadn’t spent much time in Bloomingdale before, so I’m glad I decided to pop on over. My roommate and I had actually looked at one apartment unit in the area, but I don’t know if we would’ve loved the location in the long run (busy street far away from public transportation). So while I remain biased toward Dupont/Logan Circle in terms of where I’d rather live full time, I absolutely love that DC has so many fun, unique neighborhoods (each with their own strong fan base!).

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Next up, I NEED to finally check out the Red Hen in Bloomingdale. It’s an adorable Italian restaurant with hard-to-snag reservations, and I keep only finding openings at times that don’t work super well for me…however, their pasta looks amazing, so I’ll have to make it a priority soon!

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Finding and Working Part-Time Jobs

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I have had a LOT of jobs over the past several years. A LOT. When I add up all of my post-grad internships, part-time/freelance gigs, and full-time positions, I’ve had (and this is not including internships in grad school) 13 jobs in four different states since finishing undergrad–sorry x 100000 to my poor accountant (dad) for making these past several years an absolute nightmare tax-wise!

How this crazy situation happened…

To clarify, most of these jobs were part-time (I firmly believe in staying in a full-time job at least one year if possible and also believe that one should never choose to leave a full-time position without having something else full-time lined up. As tempting as it may be to peace out of a bad job situation and move home–if that’s even an option available to you–this isn’t the most sustainable decision in the long-run for many reasons!). However, because I did switch industries (I went from PR/magazine journalism to K-12 education to higher ed), I do have plenty of experience starting over in new full-time work settings, which could potentially be a post for down the road!

Growing up, I had a couple of part-time jobs here and there in high school. I worked as a day camp counselor one summer and then at a local bakery the summer before I started college. (Taking home free bread and pastries every day was a dangerous but wonderful perk! I found that job by going door to door to several businesses with my resume until one of them told me I could work there.).

In college, I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to focus on extracurricular activities that were meaningful to me and relevant to my passions. However, during my second year in New York, it came time to search for a part-time job again, this time in a huge city with (thankfully) tons of work opportunities available at any given moment. During my last six-ish months in the city, I worked at a college counseling firm (something I wanted to do prior to beginning my master’s program in higher education). For the first couple of months, the company could only really afford to have me come in three days a week, so I decided to piece together a couple of other things in order to give myself full-time hours and pay, and I’m so glad I did. I spent two other week days working for a former magazine internship supervisor (she was so fun and energetic, and it was great to do something in another industry I love), and at night, I checked students in to media-related night classes a few times a week–this literally just involved sitting outside the classroom and signing people in and setting up A/V equipment. This was actually the perfect setup because once everyone went to class, I could do my own work while sitting at the check-in table, and I managed to work on several of my grad school application essays during this time!

I also really enjoyed the fact that no two days in a row were the same, since I was hopping between tasks and offices rather than sitting at the same desk for the same amount of time each day. While the hours were a little more nontraditional (the evening job would go from about 7 to 10 pm), I still had weekends totally free and got to enjoy having a little bit of daytime flexibility without running from place to place. *As an important caveat, I was fortunate that I could piece together these part-time jobs and still get by due to being under 26 and having parents with health insurance. I really wouldn’t be able to ever make the same arrangement work now without paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket (another thing that’s been drilled into me–don’t ever skimp on health insurance and think you’ll be ok without it, even for a couple of months!).

So, you want a part-time job but don’t know where to look…

I’ve found many of my part-time jobs on Craigslist, including my current one at a gym in my neighborhood in DC and my previous one at an accessories store in Georgetown. In NYC, I found the two part-time jobs through word of mouth and via Media Bistro, a popular website with journalism job postings. I also freelanced a bit, writing pieces for a moving/organization company in the city. In Philadelphia, I worked as a restaurant hostess at a popular tavern-like (and dog-themed!) spot near campus for about a month during the time between graduation and moving back to DC to start my full-time position. I found that job by literally just calling dozens of restaurants in the area and asking them if they needed summer help until a couple of them told me to come in for an interview. Now that I’ve worked at a bunch of different places, I thought I’d share some reflections on part-time work.

What I like: 

It’s super social! If you’re working at a front desk or as a hostess, you’ll be talking to people all the time–coworkers, customers, etc. Working with fun and interesting people makes the time fly, and it’s a great way to get to know new people in your city.

The perks! By working at the front desk of a gym, I not only get paid but now get a free membership there, which is amazing (I didn’t even realize that was one of the benefits when I took the job). I have another friend who works at a yoga studio in NYC in exchange for free classes and loves the arrangement and know other people who work at boutique fitness studios and get similar benefits.

Learning a new skill. It’s definitely comforting to have a “back up” skill that you can use no matter where you go or what happens in your life. Even trying something just for a summer gets you ahead a little bit.

Having multiple sources of income. Obviously the main reason to get a job! It’s definitely nice to have a couple of different paychecks come in each month. It doesn’t need to be glamorous…is my gym job a side hustle? No. But is it a great supplement to my full-time work? For now, yes!

Challenges: 

It can be difficult to find part-time work that’s relevant to your long-term goals. Since I love writing and design, my freelance work with Houzz has been a great way to build my resume in those areas, but I can’t say the same about every position I’ve done.

Finding the time. My schedule can get crazy during the week, so I don’t have time for unlimited shifts and don’t want to overschedule myself. And I maintain that your part-time work shouldn’t deplete your energy at your full-time job. Also, I really value balance and try to find shifts that are manageable and fit in with both my full-time work obligations and personal life. Since I usually see friends Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights, I try to keep those evenings open but don’t have as much issue with working on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.

Finding a local place to work. The worst thing is to find a great part-time job and then realize you’ll spend $10 a day getting there. Look for somewhere within walking distance or otherwise super convenient, and you’ll thank yourself later!

 

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What’s In My Work Bag + Tuckernuck Tote Review

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Happy Friday! It’s been rare to have a full week in the office this summer due to travel, some work from home days, and time off, so this week was a bit of a change. Tonight I’m having a few friends over for wine and cheese on the roof and can’t wait–I actually had asked for a nicer cheeseboard for my birthday, which I’ll be breaking in…my old one was a little small, and I seriously set up little cheese plates all the time when I entertain. I love how easy it is to grab ingredients from Trader Joe’s and put together a fun little appetizer.

Earlier this week, I talked a bit about the Tuckernuck bag that I snagged on sale last weekend (the exact color I purchased appears to be sold out) and I’ve been using it for work this week. Since I walk about 20 minutes to and from my office each day, comfort is key for me when it comes to selecting a tote. I honestly should just use a backpack and sometimes do when I’m carrying a laptop, but generally I prefer having something more professional-looking with me to bring to meetings. I’ve used various Longchamp bags on and off during most of my working years, but I love how the Tuckernuck tote is a bit sleeker and maintains a sturdier shape. My only complaint is that the arm straps are pretty short, so while I can wear the bag over my shoulder, it sometimes feels a bit heavier than it is due to the length.

I don’t think the contents of my tote are too original, but I love taking a sneak peek into people’s purses (remember when bloggers would do “what’s in my bag” posts all the time?!), so I thought I would share what’s in mine.

Makeup bag: In the summer (but generally year-round since I often have events immediately post-work), I always keep my makeup bag with me. I get too sweaty walking to the office to really be able to put makeup on before I leave the house, so I always apply it quickly when I arrive. I use a little Lilly Pulitzer case that I’ve had since college, and it holds everything perfectly.

Practical beauty products: I also keep a mini hairbrush in my bag, along with a pouch that holds things like bandaids, hand sanitizer, and Neosporin. Such is life as a clumsy person/someone who is always getting blisters!

Glasses: I rarely wear my glasses but definitely need them for seeing far away, like when viewing a PowerPoint or reading off a whiteboard. I always feel better knowing they’re with me, even if I don’t use them most days. I also try to keep a pair of sunglasses in my work bag but don’t always have them with me.

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A book: I often have a book with me, whether I know I’ll have some time to kill before a post-work commitment or just need to return it to the library (there’s one right near my office). Again, I like to be prepared–and I hate wasting time, so I like to have something to do if I think I’ll be waiting somewhere! I just ordered this thriller and am excited to start it, but first I need to finish The Alice Network, which I finally picked up the other night after being on the library waitlist for ages!

My lunch: I try to bring my lunch to work as often as possible, and I love throwing in a fun seltzer flavor, too. I tried Spindrift a few years ago but have only really gotten into it within the past few months–this all natural lemonade iced tea flavor (5 calories and zero grams of sugar!) is my current favorite. I’m horrible at making sure I drink enough water during the day, so I also keep my S’Well bottle on my desk as an extra reminder.

Umbrella: Essential, especially during DC summers. I don’t understand the point of those umbrellas that are huge but don’t fit into a tote bag. Thankfully mine is super lightweight and easy to carry, so I’m always prepared for the unexpected weather-wise!

Reusable bag: My friend Molly gifted me one of these a few years ago, and it’s so helpful–since DC has a bag tax, I like being able to avoid it–and be green!–when possible. This bag is so light that you won’t mind carrying it with you, and you’ll be super thankful to have it on hand for a last minute grocery run. It is also super sturdy and can hold a ton!

Business cards: I usually just keep these in my wallet, but the Tuckernuck bag has a great zip pouch, and I’ve stashed some in there–along with a pen–as well.

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Summer Steals to Scoop Up Now

I love when summer items go on sale before the absolute end of the season and you still have time to enjoy them before the weather gets cooler. I mentioned on Instagram the other week how I snagged some amazing pairs of Jack Rogers sandals on sale, and I’m glad that I’ll actually get a chance to wear them in the coming weeks!

I was doing some browsing the other day and noticed that a ton of other cute summer items are on majorly marked down at the moment, so I thought I’d do a big roundup here…

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Basket bag: I feel silly for taking so long to pull the trigger on one of these, but I wanted whatever I got to be cheap (except not, like, falling apart, clearly poorly made cheap, of course!) and it was hard to find something that wasn’t overpriced but also wasn’t going to break after one wear. I didn’t even want to spend more than $40 or so because I have so many other adorable straw purses that I don’t use enough. Needless to say, I was setting myself up to have a pretty limited search! Then, finally, I came across this option marked down to $25 on Amazon Prime and knew I had to scoop it up. I haven’t seen it in person yet (it’s supposed to arrive later today, woo!), but hopefully it will look just as cute as it does in the pictures.

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Jack Rogers: Speaking of Jacks, there are still tons of styles on sale! The Lord & Taylor options that I posted about on Instagram the other week are all gone, unfortunately, but other stores have their own markdowns and you can still snag some pretty good deals! I love the raffia on this pair, and there are plenty of sizes available (I hate when you find a great deal and then realize that the only sizes in stock are 5.5s!).

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Hat Attack Straw Tote: The “it” tote of summer 2018 is marked down on Shopbop, and I’d be tempted to order it if I didn’t have so many bags already! The macrame look is so fun and different–it reminds me of the vintage-y accessories in Mamma Mia 2 😉

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North Face Backpack: Not so much a seasonal find, but an amazing deal for all the students out there! I used a black North Face backpack in grad school and still bring it on long trips or even to work when I’m carrying a ton of stuff. Sometimes you just have to go with the practical option!

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Straw hat: White Elephant Designs has several straw hats with fun sayings on sale, as well as some totes and other accessories. I have their “out of office” tote, which I ordered around this time last year, and it’s GIGANTIC–perfect for a beach day or picnic!

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City Weekends

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How was your weekend? Mine was jam-packed–I managed to shop the Tuckernuck and Salt and Sundry sales, grab dinner with a friend and her boyfriend in Georgetown, log a few hours at my part-time gym job (something I started a few weeks ago), have dinner with my family at home (which turned into me and my sister rummaging through all of my old papers/cards from elementary and middle school…hilarious!), take a SoulCycle Soul Survivor class (a birthday present–I turned 27 on Wednesday!), visit the Wharf for the first time, and read this book, which was adorable (full review to come in this month’s reading roundup!)–whew! I also managed to take several 1-2 hour naps…weekend afternoon naps are the best!

If you haven’t been down to the Wharf, you need to go. It’s a lot like the Georgetown waterfront but much more popular at the moment. There are some chains like Shake Shack and Dolcezza that are also in other parts of DC, but there are plenty of unique restaurants and bars (I loved the Brighton, which is owned by the same people who developed the Brixton, American Ice Company, etc). It’s also the perfect place for blog/IG shoots thanks to the colorful mural above! I don’t know what took me so long to get there (although it is kind of out of the way), and I’m glad I finally made the trek over.

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A few people asked me about the Tuckernuck and Salt and Sundry sales when I posted about them on Instagram. Tuckernuck had a big 30 percent off sale in store, and they’re still offering 25 percent off online. There are tons of great items left, so definitely place an order soon if there’s something you like! I picked up this poppy-colored Alexa bag in store and am planning on using it for work. It got amazing reviews, is super spacious, and is just such a fun shade–plus, with a 30 percent discount off of $53 (marked down from $175 originally), it was an amazing deal. Even the sales associate ringing me up commented on how popular the bag is among Tuckernuck employees! While there were people buying and trying on tons of items, I tried to limit myself and only picked up the bag and this scarf, which has gotten rave reviews among fellow blogger friends. I love how festive the orange is for early fall!

Salt and Sundry, one of my favorite shops in DC (which is dangerously nearby on 14th Street), had its own little summer sale as part of a greater neighborhood wide event, DC Dog Days. Everything in-store was 20 percent off, and they also had a little table of goodies marked down even further. I grabbed a couple of items including this Boy Smells candle–I’d been wanting to try one by the brand for ages. I’ve already used it two nights in a row and love the scent.

How was your weekend? I hope you had a great one!

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July Reads

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Happy early August–it’s time for July’s book roundup! I have no idea how I read a whopping 14 books this month, but that means there are plenty to share here–and the even better news is that I really enjoyed most of them! I think that since I had less time spent at home due to a busy month of fun, work, and travel, I was more productive with the downtime I did have…who knows. Anyway, here we go…

Educated: Everyone has been recommending Educated over the past few months, and for good reason. I was enthralled by Tara’s story of her life growing up in a big Morman family in rural Idaho, being “home-schooled” (basically teaching herself how to write and do math, since her parents provided no real instruction), and miraculously making her way to college and beyond. The book does raise a lot of difficult concepts and has extremely uncomfortable moments (abuse by a sibling being one), and in some ways, I almost forgot it wasn’t a work of fiction because parts of it just seem so unbelievable–but in good ways, too. I think part of this is due to the fact that Tara’s life story truly is remarkable, but it’s also a reflection of her talent as a storyteller. Tara manages to accomplish things would already be outstanding for the most prepared student (studying at Cambridge and Harvard alike!), but knowing she had to guide and motivate herself each step of the way makes her story all the more fascinating. If you enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy and are looking for something along the same lines or just want to learn more about a different subset of America, this is a must-read.

Crazy Rich Asians: I had been meaning to read this book forever and even own a hard copy, but somehow I kept prioritizing other novels and forgetting about it (#bookwormproblems). However, when I learned a few weeks ago that there would be a movie based on the book coming out later this summer, I knew I needed to hurry up and start it! The book follows young New York professor Rachel Chu on her journey to Singapore with her wealthy, fellow professor boyfriend, Nick–only Rachel doesn’t really know anything about Nick’s family background–or his money–until she is thrust into his extravagant culture and celebrations. Family secrets and controversies are plentiful throughout the book, and while it’s somewhat of a longer read, it will keep you interested the entire time. I actually started listening to it on audiobook when I was in the car going from North Carolina to Florida, and I enjoyed the storyline and narrator so much that I kept listening to segments on my walks to and from work. I can’t normally focus well when it comes to audiobooks and podcasts, but the book captured my attention right away and the narrator does a really good job switching from one character to another which made it easy to follow along–there are a ton of different characters in this book, and it switches from one person’s point of view to another fairly quickly. I did end up turning to my hard copy to finish the last few chapters of the book–I was getting impatient to finish it and realized I could read a lot quicker than I could listen–and now I’m excited to start books two and three sometime soon.

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Eleanor Olephant is Completely Fine: This book was a little stranger than I could have imagined based on the ending alone, but it was sweet nonetheless. Eleanor Olephant is socially awkward (but thinks everyone else has problems interacting, not her!) and struggling to find her way in life at age 31. She befriends an IT worker in her office and their friendship blossoms, and Eleanor’s life begins to develop more meaning as she stretches outside her comfort zone. Overall, the book was a funny, easy read, though the ending was not what I expected from this type of book–it was a little more thriller-esque than I was prepared for and left me surprised!

Tell Me Lies: I’m obsessed with this book–it may be my favorite of the year, and I don’t know if my writeup can even do it justice! The story centers around two main characters, Lucy and Stephen, and is told from each of their perspectives. Lucy, a girl from Long Islans, meets Stephen during her freshman year of college in California, and the two begin a tumultuous, powerful romantic relationship that starts and stops many times over the years. Stephen is your typical self-obsessed player, though we learn that his issues run even deeper than he may let on. Despite his many flaws, Lucy can’t let go of him and struggles both emotionally and physically during her time in college as she wrestles with her relationship and personal issues from her past. Overall, it reminded me a bit of The Light We Lost in that it was partly chick lit and partly a thought-provoking, nostalgia-inducing read. It’s the type of book that I’d want to write about college–and all of the author’s details are so realistic to me; it’s clear that she also went to a small liberal arts school. I honestly think about the book all the time, even weeks later (during my walks to work!), and just need a friend to pick it up so that we can discuss it!

Sisters First: When I say that I would recommend this book to a friend regardless of his or her political affiliation, I mean it–even though I’m liberal, I loved reading about the Bush twins. The story isn’t all that political–rather, it explores the twins’ close sisterly bond and is peppered with funny, heartwarming stories about their immediate family and the Bush and Welch relatives. I smiled, I teared up a bit, and generally I couldn’t get enough! It was a great way to see who Jenna and Barbara are as people, and I really liked how they owned up to some of their mistakes, shared life lessons learned, and demonstrated that there’s a time and a place to take oneself too seriously, but it isn’t necessary to do so all of the time. Now I can only hope that Malia and Sasha will write something similar one day. 😉

The Kiss Quotient: This book was a little weirder than I thought…it very graphic and not as “innocent” as I imagined, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be about a woman with Asperger’s who hires someone to teach her about sex and relationships. Just be forewarned before you pick it up if you’d rather skip over those types of details–otherwise, it’s a cute and funny read! It’s gotten great reviews and is a pretty quick one to read in a day or so!

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Marriage Vacation: I wasn’t as obsessed with this one as I thought I might be, given that I love Younger (if you didn’t know, Younger is centered around a NYC publishing house, and this book is supposed to be the one that (main character) Liza’s client Pauline is publishing in the show, so it was fun that it was turned into a real-life title! Also, related: the TV show Younger was based on a book by the same name, which I read a few years ago and loved!). Despite not being as glued to this book as I thought I would be, it’s still a fun summer read that explores one woman’s “marriage vacation” as she takes time to live in Thailand and find herself before returning to her husband and kids in NYC (the whole thing is supposed to be a “fictional” adaption of Pauline’s own marriage vacation from her husband in the show, Charles). I loved being able to learn more about the snippets of the book that were mentioned on the show–but even if you’ve never watched and are just in the mood for some good chick lit, you’ll enjoy this one.

The Financial Diet: I’d had this book on hand for a few months and had been meaning to start it for ages…oops! Luckily, it’s a very quick read that is designed to help 20-something women with money. I always think it’s interesting when the people writing these types of books have made major financial mistakes themselves, and Chelsea Fagan did a great job sharing her own struggles and lessons learned rather than coming off as judgmental (the worst!). While a lot of the information was not new to me, I love a good, practical self-help book (this one included recipes, tips on managing money in a relationship, and more).

Playing with Matches: I could NOT wait for this book to come out, as I’ve been following the author, Hannah Orenstein, on Twitter for ages (she’s hilarious! It also turns out that she’s a high school friend of one of my good friends from college, small world), and knew that whatever she wrote would be right up my alley. Playing with Matches was basically a rom-com in a novel and I loved every page of it. Recent college grad Sasha, who is dealing with various relationship challenges of her own, is working as a professional matchmaker in New York City (just as Hannah did) and learning what it takes to succeed in the biz. This book made me nostalgic for living in NYC in my early 20’s, and Hannah hit the nail on the head when it came to creating a likable narrator–there was nothing annoying about Sasha! This is the perfect summer pool or beach read for anyone who’s used dating apps, is curious about what matchmaking entails, or just loves chick lit.

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The Rules Do Not Apply: Ariel Levy’s memoir is moving, inspirational, and addictive as she explores love, loss, and misfortune. Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that Ariel has been through the ringer–her relationship, pregnancy, and stability all fall apart at the same time upon returning from a trip overseas. I had been wanting to read this book for awhile, and while it’s full of difficult moments, it’s a powerful and engaging read.

Bachelor Nation: In college, my friends and I would watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette in someone’s apartment and take turns bringing various unhealthy snacks and gossiping about which Ashley would be sent home that night (there were always like 8 Ashleys in any given season…and actually, true story: one of my friends’ families ended up going to Ashley H’s wedding in Maine after she left the show). While my Bachelor-watching hasn’t really continued post-college, I was still excited to see that there was a book out exploring all aspects of the show–how it came about, its initial challenges and failures, the scandals, how the audition process works, what it’s really like behind the scenes, and more (why didn’t I think of this as a sociology senior thesis?!). The author didn’t leave out a single aspect, and fans (or just fair-weather fans) of The Bachelor and its spinoffs will be intrigued by this super fun nonfiction book.

The Girl Before: Thriller fans, take note of this one–so creepy! The Girl Before alternates back and forth between two protagonists who lived in the same home a few years apart. It’s clear that something strange happened/is happening in the house, but who is causing the disruption is a mystery. I was actually surprised with how this book played out, which made it a good read–normally storylines are a little more predictable to me, and this one kept me guessing and freaked out for most of the book.

Pretty Baby: I read The Good Girl by Mary Kubica last year and had been meaning to pick up Pretty Baby for ages. It was your typical modern day thriller filled with distrust, loss, and secrets, and I was glued to the plot right away (a middle-aged woman spots a teenager and her baby at the train station, welcomes them into her home, and then begins to wonder if there’s something the teenager is hiding about her past). The woman and her family seem fairly normal until you realize that they have issues of their own, which also come to light.

The Perfect Stranger: I started this one right after The Girl Before and Pretty Baby because I was on a mini thriller kick (I liked this one best!). Leah, a former journalist who has moved to rural Pennsylvania to work as a teacher, is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when a coworker of hers is accused of murder and her roommate goes missing. Quickly, she wonders who she can and can’t trust–what are her students hiding from her, is the detective working on her case as earnest as he comes across, and was her roommate abducted or is she running away from something? Meanwhile, Leah is hiding a scandal of her own from her past, and we’re left waiting to find out what exactly happened that prompted her to leave Boston. This one kept me up late into the night and gave me chills in the way that a good thriller should!

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