Recommended Reading: Defending Jacob

Although trashy romances tend to be my first choice when I have a chance to read, I do like to change it up and challenge my brain every once in a while with a good mystery or thriller. One of my most recent must-read finds?

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Defending Jacob by William Landay came recommended by a friend who is a fellow avid reader.

Without revealing too much of the plot, the book revolves around an assistant district attorney whose fourteen-year-old son is accused of the murder of his classmate. It follows the family as they deal with the social isolation, emotional stress, and financial drain involved in building a defense case against a murder charge. The twists and turns throughout left me constantly reeling and the shocking end left me with a “book hangover” for several days. This legal thriller is definitely a great read, as it gives you a different view of the legal system than your usual crime novel and in the end leaves you questioning your own gut instincts.

A bonus for me is that this book takes place outside of Boston, so I enjoyed reading about areas and places that I was familiar with! Also, there must be a trend in the books I’m reading since like another recent favorite, Before I Go to Sleep, there is a movie in the works for this book as well!

Have you read Defending Jacob? Or have any other legal thrillers to recommend?

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Grown-up Jungle Juice

As a recent college grad, I have many fond (or…not so fond) memories of jungle juice served at parties. The great thing about these mixes is they were cheap and could keep a large crowd happy. The downside? They never tasted good, usually because they were too sweet.

Now that I’ve moved past my college days, I didn’t think I’d have a need for jungle juice any longer. However, certain holidays and events, such as New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl, can require serving a number of people. The problem is, this can get very expensive, very quickly.

Luckily, a friend passed along a delicious recipe that can be made for as many guests as you need. It tastes similar to a “Coronarita”, but is much simpler and the ingredients are not all that expensive.

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The recipe?
For every 6 coronas, add 1 cup of tequila and 1 can of limeade concentrate.
And that’s it!

To give you an idea of how much to make — my friend made this for 15 people for New Year’s Eve with 42 coronas, and had plenty leftover the next day!

Do you have a go-to punch recipes for when you entertain?

Used Books are Good Books

My love of reading is far from unknown, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this habit of mine can be quite expensive which does not bode well for my budget. One of my favorite ways to avoid the costs of reading is to borrow e-books from my local library, but that isn’t the only way to read great books without paying a hefty price!

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Used books are a great way to enjoy reading within your budget. I’ll admit, when I first thought about buying used books, I was skeptical. In my mind, a “used book” meant dirty, worn or ripped. And yes, in some cases that is the truth. But I’ve found lots of used books that are in almost perfect condition, and I paid less than half the original price for them!

Luckily for me, there is a large used bookstore less than a half hour from me. Whenever I go, I spend anywhere from $20-40, but that will get me a dozen books or more! The store I go to has a wide variety of books, including lots of new and popular titles and even some DVDS. It’s definitely worth the time and investment to check out a local used bookstore if you’re an avid reader like me!

I can’t guarantee that there’s a quality used bookshop near you, but I know of lots of small ones in my area alone, so it’s definitely worth a look!

Have you purchased used books? What’s your favorite shop to find them?

Different Degrees of Business Casual

Between my two college internships and my current job, I’ve been exposed to many different degrees of the “business casual” dress code. The one thing I’ve definitively learned is that business casual can mean completely different things depending on what company you’re discussing.

So how do you dress appropriately for your first days at a new job? I have some tips that have helped me in the past:

1. Scope out what employees are wearing when you go on-site for an interview. This will help you get an idea of what is expected.
2. If you receive an employee manual before you start, be sure to check there. Most companies explicitly state what their expected dress code is right in the manual.
3. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, especially when you are making a first impression!

My current company is fairly strict with their dresscode, but I’ve quickly learned that I don’t have to stick to drab outfits with no personality. You can still stand out and express yourself, as long as you keep the boundaries in mind!

What do I wear to work most days? Well thanks to the fun site Polyvore, I’ve come up with a few options to show you!

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– I like to mix a neutral with a fun print or color to make the outfit pop a little.
– Jewelry or scarves are a good way to change up an otherwise plain outfit.
– Heels are definitely ok to wear to the office, but nothing too
high. I’d say about 3 inches max!
– Keep an eye on how things fall when you’re wearing them. You don’t want your shirt to be too revealing if you lean forward or your skirt to hike up when you sit down.
– Layers are great for the office…it seems like the temperature is always either too hot or too cold in my cube!

Have any workwear advice to share? What’s your interpretation of “business casual”?

The Value of Reviews

As I become more and more aware of my limited budget, I’ve learned the value of comparison shopping. Whether you look for the same item across multiple sites or stores find the best price or compare similar products to decide which to buy, it’s always a good idea to shop around. You never know where you’re going to find a better deal!

Besides prices, it’s also important to look at what others are saying about the product. Almost every site today has the option for customers to leave reviews on individual products. Taking the opinions of fellow shoppers can easily help you make a smarter purchasing decision.

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Reviews, however, should be taken with a grain of salt. I generally read a range of reviews, from one-star to five-stars. Doing so will give you a clearer idea of what the potential perks and issues of a product are.

Getting the full picture is especially important when making a big purchase, such as furniture. When you’re looking at all of the different options and styles, be sure to know what it is you’re really looking for.

For example, if you’re buying a futon, you’ll want to know how firm or soft the mattress is, whether the mechanism for moving it from couch to bed is easy to use and how difficult it is to assemble. Being aware of everything you need to know to make an informed decision about which product best suits your own needs.

To sum up: Take advantage of the input of your fellow consumers, but be sure to keep your personal style and needs in mind!