Between The Lines Book Selections

I have gotten a few requests to know what the Between the Lines books are for the rest of the year.  You are in luck!  We have compiled our final list for the year and are here to share it with you.  I know, you are so excited about this.  I am so happy that we finally got our full list together for the rest of the year.

Between the Lines Remaining Book Selections

So, without further adu, here are the Between the Lines books for the rest of the year:

Between the Lines books for June and July 2015

June  //  The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.  Link up on June 16th.

July  //  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  Link up on July 21st.

Between the Lines books for August through October

August  //  Paper Towns by John Green.  Link up on August 18th.

September  //  Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova.  Link up on September 15th.

October  //  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  Link up on October 20th.

Between the Lines books for November and December

November  //  A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.  Link up on November 17th.

December  //  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  Link up on December 15th.

We are still debating about what book to read in December, so that is why there are 2 options.  I think we are leaning toward The Nightingale, but don’t take my word on that yet.

If you are needing some new books to read, check out my book reviews.  And join us for Between the Lines next month.

Facebook – The Beast Has Died

Do you remember where you were when Facebook first started gaining traction?

I remember exactly where I was when Facebook started.  You had to be in college and have a .edu email address.  You also had to wait for other schools to get Facebook added.  It wasn’t a big pool like it is today.  You couldn’t message people until later on and you couldn’t post pictures in bulk either.  It also was called thefacebook.com back then.  Social network, anyone?

The year was 2004.  It seemed like Facebook was the best thing since sliced bread.  Then, it got so big that the people at Facebook decided to make changes.  Lots of changes…and frequently.

Facebook - the beast has died

I happen to not really care for Facebook anymore.  Yes, I have it for my blog, but I haven’t posted anything blog related in a while.  I also mostly stalk people that I am friends with.  I don’t usually post things onto Facebook.

And here is why:
  1. They change things constantly.  I understand that you want to change things, but I don’t get why you have to fix things as often as they do.  Maybe because they want to stay ahead of the curve?  Maybe.  But it is a bit annoying and rough.
  2. The ads are a little freaky to me.  If you search for something on Google, it will show up in Facebook.
  3. The shared content tells you about related content.  This also seems weird to me.  I get that they know what you click on (how do they do that?) and then if you read the article, it will list the related stories below.  But how do they get the related content?  So strange.
For the blogs, here is why I don’t like Facebook anymore:
  1. They make it nearly impossible to get your blog reach higher.  The algorithm they use is way too confusing to figure out.
  2. They don’t care how many followers you have.  It’s more about your engagement from your fans.  This is great, but it’s so hard to get your engagement rank higher if you aren’t being seen by all your fans.
  3. It’s too complicated to understand your reach and how they come up with that number.
  4. It’s annoying to have to go between my personal Facebook page and my blog fan page.

I just wish Facebook would go back to what they were good at – coming up with the “social media” era and leave the complicated stuff behind.

I do love that we now have social media websites because of Facebook, but I hate that it has become such a complicated burden to figure out.  It would be so much easier if it was the way it was in 2004.

Would you like for Facebook to go away?

The Great Debate: Blogger vs. WordPress

One of the main questions people get asked when it comes to blogging is what platform you use.  The debate between Blogger and WordPress seems to go back as far as blogging itself.  And sometimes there are those diehards on both sides that will never switch no matter how many cool features you can throw at them.  And then sometimes, there are people like me who switch to WordPress after being on Blogger for a while.

Do you have questions about which blogging platform is for you?  Here is a great breakdown of Blogger and WordPress for you.

To help us clear some of the air and talk about the benefits of Blogger, is Helene.  I will be talking about the benefits of WordPress.  So let’s get started!

Here is why I love WordPress and wish I started on this platform first:

You own your content and you get to manage a website.

Yes, Blogger is free and hosted by Google.  But, I actually love that I get to manage my site.  I am in control of the hosting services (A Small Orange is amazing).  I learned what a cPanel is and I have actually gotten to play with things in it – like the function.php file when my site decided to not work when I messed up something on it.  Super fun.

The designs are mobile responsive

I know that you can get a mobile responsive site on Blogger, but it’s not automatic.  With Genesis, you can easily scroll through my blog on any device and it will look the same.  No scrolling side to side to read my blog on your phone.  You are welcome.

The plugins

This might be considered a perk of WordPress, but these plugins are completely fantastic.  They can speed up your site, help you with social media scheduling, secure your site from people trying to hack it, to recipe cards, to optimizing everything…the list goes on and on.  The plugins that I use are all intentional to help my blog run faster.

The ease of changing up your menu and sidebar

To switch up my menu (at the top of my blog), I can actually do a bunch of different things up there.  I can add any category or page to the menu and I could switch things around.  I can also move my header over and put the 2nd menu up higher.  The sidebar is just as easy to move things around.  Nothing is ever stuck in place and I feel like I can change things around or add things as needed.

Google Analytics

I use WordPress stats, but I also have a plugin for Google Analytics.  This is linked straight to my account and makes it so easy to see how my blog is performing.  I don’t have to log into GA separately to see those real time stats.  I love that it’s a plugin and directly in my dashboard.  It’s awesome to have that flexibility.

Next up we have Helene talking about the benefits of Blogger!

I’ve been blogging for almost three years now at Helene in Between. Sometimes I feel like I have the hang of things, other times I wonder what the heck I’m doing. I feel pretty confident in my blogging skills, but there’s always been one thing up for debate: Blogger vs. WordPress.

I’m a Blogger girl. I always have been. When I first started it was a “Duh” decision. It felt like the most advanced, cheapest, and easiest to use platform out there. Now, parts of that statement is true, but WordPress has become a huge competitor.

Despite all of WordPress’ bells and whistles, here’s why I still believe Blogger is best:

It’s easy to understand

As far as a blogging platform goes, Blogger is very straightforward. You can immediately jump in and understand how to post, edit, and import pictures and how to gain followers.

Design

Designing in Blogger is more simple than WordPress. Of course, it’s nice to have a blog designer but when you’re just starting out, you can adjust the website to your liking.

Google

Blogger is owned by Google and Google is basically God. Am I right?

Stats

Your blog’s statistics are simple and clear. You can see easily how you got traffic.

Comments
Blogger offers a comment feature that links directly to your blog. While WordPress does the same, you have to enter in your information each time, or you have to use a service like Disqus.
Free
Blogger is completely free, while you have to pay to use WordPress. It’s $100 a year to own your site on WordPress.
Google Adsense
You can easily plug into Google Adsense and make money from your blog.
I think bottom line, in my case, Blogger is easier.  So the ease of use means that I do miss out on some of the benefits.

Which platform would you choose?

The Pros and Cons of Clothing Subscription Boxes

I feel like everywhere I look, there are new subscription boxes popping up.  Am I the only one?  This is especially true with the clothing subscription boxes…so many new ones and I wondered what were the differences between them all?

Well, I am here to help you figure that out!

I am only going to be discussing clothing subscription boxes, because those are the ones that I am members of.  

What are the differences between the clothing subscription boxes?  This post is such a lifesaver to help us understand the pros and cons in an easy to understand way.

Stitch Fix

This was the first fashion subscription box that I tried.  I think they are one of the best companies out there, and here is why:

Pros

  1. They offer a wide range of sizes.
  2. They really consider your feedback.
  3. They pay attention to what you pin on Pinterest.  I have a whole board dedicated to Stitch Fix clothes.  I know that not everything I pinned will come in one of my boxes, but they do get a great sense of your style from what you pin on Pinterest.
  4. You get a 25% off discount if you buy the entire box.  I have only done this once, but it does make a difference.
  5. You don’t have to get them monthly, if you don’t want to.  I get my every 2 months.
  6. You have the same stylist, meaning that they get to know you and listen to your feedback each time.
  7. The $20 styling fee comes out of your final bill for what you choose to keep, so you should always keep something.
  8. The boxes include 5 items in each box, including one accessory.
  9. Your stylist writes you a personalized note about what is in each box and how she thinks it should be styled.
  10. Their customer service is fantastic.  I had a stain on a shirt, and they sent me a new one.  No questions asked.  I did return the stained one, however.

Cons

  1. They do try to stay within your budget, but sometimes things are more expensive than they would be in a store.
  2. There is a $20 stylist fee for each box.

Le Tote

This was the second type of box that I tried.  I heard great things about it, so why not give it a go?  It’s different than Stitch Fix because you can get as many boxes as they can send you in a month.  You pay a monthly fee for your boxes and can purchase the pieces by simply keeping the pieces you love.  You don’t have to go through a “Check Out” process.

Pros

  1. You get as many boxes as you want in a month.
  2. You can keep and wear the clothes as long as you want.  This is basically like renting the clothes and keeping what you like.
  3. In your profile, you are able to put your Pinterest board URL (I use the same one that I do for Stitch Fix) so that your stylist can get your personal style.
  4. You get at least one item from the ones that you “like” on their website in each box.  The stylist will pick out other things that she thinks you will enjoy.
  5. My boxes include 5 items in them.
  6. You can suspend your totes if it becomes a bit overwhelming.

Cons

  1. You have to pay a monthly fee on top of the price of the items you want to keep.  I pay $49/month for my totes.
  2. There is no discount if you want to keep everything.
  3. Their sizes aren’t as generous as Stitch Fix.  In other words, they don’t have bigger sizes that I currently need.
  4. The stylists do listen to what you have to say, but I feel like the clothes aren’t always the best fits for me.  They definitely make you come out of your comfort zone.
  5. The boxes seem to be more hit or miss than Stitch Fix.

Daily Look

This subscription box is the newest that I have started trying.  I have only gotten one of these boxes so far, so I am definitely not an expert.  But I do think it’s a good combo between Stitch Fix and Le Tote.  It’s closely related to Stitch Fix.

Pros

  1. You get to choose your favorites that they add to your box.
  2. They had a free 3 months of styling fees promotion that I scooped up.  After my 3 months, I will be paying $20/month if I choose to continue with them.
  3. You get about 7 items per box, including at least one accessory.
  4. You can schedule your boxes to be as frequent or spaced out as you would like.

Cons

  1. These clothes are more contemporary and trendy than what I typically like.
  2. When I got my first box, it was more winter things than the season (I ordered my first one in April).  There should have been more spring pieces.
If I rated them, it would go as follows:
  1. Stitch Fix – I have gotten the most boxes from Stitch Fix and I love them.  I really feel like they try to give you clothes that you will love.  And if you don’t love something, they take that feedback and remember.  They also know what you have kept from past boxes and style new clothes for those items as well.
  2. Daily Look – I haven’t gotten a ton of these, but I like that I get 7 items in each box.  I also got a really fun looking purse last time, which I liked but I didn’t end up keeping it.  It just wasn’t for me, but they tried.
  3. Le Tote – This one is last for me because I am paying $50/month for it.  I just don’t think it’s really worth that price for the types of clothes I have gotten.  I have a new one coming soon, but I will probably cancel it soon, because $50/month is a lot of money to spend on a subscription box.
Which subscription box service is your favorite?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This month’s Between the Lines book is one I hadn’t heard of until Anne suggested it.  I loved this book.  There is something so great about a book that is written so well, but that sort of has a hint of mystery and intrigue to it.

Between The Lines Book Club

Like I said before, this book was fun.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but it was so awesome to read a book from only the perspective of emails and letters.  That was so different and interesting, which I loved.

Where'd You Go Bernadette Book Club Selection

1.  How are Audrey Griffin and Bernadette Fox more alike than they realize?

I think both women are insanely bored and not confident in themselves any longer.  I think they both needed doses of reality about their perfect lives and how wonderful everything was.  Audrey got this when she got reports about Kyle’s drug addictions at the hotel.  Bernadette got her dose of reality when things started to fall apart.  I think finding out Manjula was stealing their credit card information.

2.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively.  Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?

I do think that women do tend to lose a sense of themselves once they become mothers or are married for a while.  It’s not the best thing for them, but sometimes they become so identified in being a wife and/or mother that they forget about themselves.  You are a woman first and foremost, so don’t forget that!

I don’t know if I would say that you disappear into those roles, but I do think that you can become lost in them.  That they become your only identity.

3.  Bernadette often behaves as if she is an outsider. Do you think she is? If so, do you think her feelings of being an outsider are self-imposed, or is she truly different from the other members of her community?

I think that Bernadette is an outsider of her own doing.  She became a recluse after her architect days were over.  She sort of became manic, thinking that buying an awful house that was falling apart would be good for her family up in Seattle.  I do think she is different than other people in the community, but I don’t think that she’s truly different.  I think most of it was done of her own accord.

4.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told from the point of view of a daughter trying to find her missing mother. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Bee’s perspective? What light does it shed on the bond between Bernadette and Bee?

I loved that the book was in Bee’s perspective.  I think that the author chose to do it that way because, most of the time, younger children don’t lie.  They are trustworthy and are telling the truth about everything.  Bee’s rebuttals of what happened during certain events – like Audrey getting her foot run over by the car – is her telling the truth about what actually happened.  I could trust Bee’s account of things because she was the one that had nothing to lose.


June’s book for Between the Lines is:

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Here are June’s questions:

1. When Cecilia finds the letter addressed to her from her husband, “To be opened only in the event of my death,” she is tormented by the ethics of opening it. Do you agree with her ultimate decision? What would you have done?
2. Tess has suffered her whole life from crippling social anxiety. How has this made everyday situations a challenge for her? Why has she never confronted her problem? Why doesn’t she tell anyone about it?
3. Grief is a major theme in the novel, and many of the characters have suffered as a result of their losses. How do each of the characters cope with their grief? In what ways have their lives have been irrevocably altered as a result of their grieving?
4. Consider the notion of betrayal in this book. Which characters have betrayed someone they love? Are their acts of betrayal premeditated, or are they unplanned decisions that become regrettable actions?
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When You Are Forced Into A Big Group

I am the type of person who has a few close, wonderful friends.  I’m not someone who does well in large groups because I don’t like a lot of attention.  I feel that sometimes, in large groups of girls, I get overshadowed by someone with a larger than life personality.  Trust me, I’m OK with that.  I really am.

One thing that I have learned and pretty much accepted in my 31 years on this Earth is who I am.  I am not someone who will raise their voice to be heard.  I am not someone who will go out of their way to be the center of attention.  I actually hate having all eyes on me.  I am not someone who demands the attention of others to make themselves feel better about their lives.  That’s just not who I am.

And I often feel that because that’s not who I am, I get lost or forgotten about.  Ok, forgotten is a strong word.  I wasn’t forgotten, but I was definitely overshadowed.

What happens when you are forced into a big group, but your personality doesn't like that?

I recently went to Orlando for a Bachelorette party.  And as fun and exhausting as it was, it taught me something.  I don’t do well with big groups.  Somehow I always felt like an outsider looking in; someone overshadowed by someone with a bigger personality.

Let me explain.

The bride to be is my oldest friends.  We have been through so much together, and it was an honor to be at her Bachelorette party.  It was great to catch up with her and her sisters and to spend time together.  I loved that aspect of it.  But, there were 9 of us total.  9 girls sharing 2 hotels rooms.

I knew going into the weekend that there would be a lot of girls there.  And I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be hanging out with the bride the entire time (we all stayed together, but there were small groups that broke off here and there).  And I knew of the bigger than life personalities that come with the bride’s friends.

What I didn’t expect was how alone I felt in some of those moments.  It wasn’t all the time, but it was there.  And it was all consuming, almost suffocating.  I can’t even really process what happened to make me feel that way.  Is this going to always happen when I am in a big group of people?  Was it my hormones just going crazy?  Was I missing Jeremy so much that I began to feel alone?

How can you feel so alone in the most magical place on Earth?  I was in my happy place – Harry Potter, Diagon Alley – so how could I feel like this?  Because there were 9 of us and someone wasn’t going to be paired up with someone else.  Because with an odd number someone is always alone and left out.