Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno - YA Book Recommendation

Last summer I reviewed 99 Days by Katie Cotugno and I really enjoyed it! If I like a book by an author I always make sure to check out other books that they have written. Top Ten has been on my Amazon wishlist for months and I finally purchased it when I was looking for a quick and fun read.

Summary:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does.

But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.

Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top ten list: this time, counting down the top ten moments of their friendship.

Review:

If you want a book that will take you back to high school, this is it. I hated 98% of my high school experience but I do really enjoy YA books. This book was so relatable because it explored friendship, first loves, breakups, tense family dynamics, and mental and physical health.

I really enjoyed the perspective from both Ryan and Gabby. Their characters were developed really well throughout the book. The timeline was a bit hard to follow because it kept jumping back and forth from the past and present. But overall it was cool to read about how their friendship developed and changed over the years and it made me miss my high school friends.

What I loved most about this book though was Gabby. I loved her introvertedness and how awkward she always felt. I loved when she explains her anxiety and her fears. I loved her sisters and her family. And I really loved reading about how she finally overcame her fears.

I did not enjoy the ending of the book. It feels unfinished and I still have so many questions. I enjoy having everything tied up in a neat little bow and that didn’t happen this time. I was also left thinking about my own high school experience which is never the most fun thing to think about.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’m a quick reader so if I like a book I can fly through it in one sitting. This book took me a couple of weeks to finish. I’d read a couple chapters each night before bed but honestly I wasn’t super invested in the book itself. I still give it 3 stars because the characters were so well developed and I did enjoy the plot. I think Katie wrote about some tough topics that are important to read about and understand.

There’s just something about high school that makes everyone a little mushy on the inside. Whether you enjoyed it or hated it, there are still so many memories associated with that time period of your life. For me, I had a best friend turned boyfriend who I dated for the first two years of high school. We had been friends for years before that so he just felt like such an important piece of my life at the time. He was nothing like Ryan from this book though and it was a blessing in disguise when he broke up with me. But still, the memory of my ex-friend/boyfriend is one of the main things that ruins my high school memories.

I’m already finished with my next book so hopefully I’ll have another book review up soon! Have you read any good books lately?

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My Acne Journey Over the Last 15 Years

Acne Journey; How to get rid of acne; acne diet; clear skin diet; teenage acne; best acne products

Last month I was hit with a major breakout all over my neck, chin, and face. I haven’t had a major breakout in over a year but have lived with severe acne since I was about 10 years old. I’m 25 now and not sure if I’ll ever have truly clear skin.

For years I let myself be defined by my acne. I didn’t want anyone to look at me during a breakout. I didn’t want my picture taken and I really just wanted to be alone. For me, having acne was like a prison sentence with no end date because I felt trapped in my skin that didn’t look like everyone else’s.

This is one of the things I never thought I would be sharing on the internet but this current breakout threw me and made me really grateful for how much my skin has changed in the past couple of years. While I was reminiscing on my acne journey I thought it would be important to share my acne story because I know there are other people out there who share my struggle.

Have you ever had a severe acne breakout? I’m talking volcanic pimples that seem to go all the way down into your core? The kind that make your face hurt when you aren’t even touching them? Well, that was my life for many years.

I first started breaking out when I was 10. I clearly remember this time in my life because it was right around then when I needed to change friend groups because my old “friends” started to bully me over my acne. Since my birthday is in October I was always one of the oldest kids in my grade and my body started changing way before my peers. I’m pretty sure I was the first kid in my grade to get acne and at the time I felt so self conscious and confused about what was happening to my face.

Middle school was the lowest of the low for me. I was bullied constantly and desperately wanted to disappear. I call this phase of my acne a “mountain range” because I had cystic acne. My face was red and bumpy always and I had zero self esteem because of it. Middle schoolers are ruthless and it was a really hard time for me.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up but my mom tried anything and everything to help me clear my skin. I had the nicest skincare products of anyone I knew. I remember one Saturday where my mom took me to the skincare counter at Macy’s. I cried when the skincare consult started talking about my skin because I was mortified. I left that day with a Clinque starter kit that helped me manage the redness.

High school was a series of ups and downs. I started to discover makeup which helped me cover up my acne scars and current breakouts. My skin was still covered in pimples but the makeup gave me the tiniest bit of confidence which helped carry me threw to graduation. High school bullies were endless but I was able to mostly ignore them.

In college my face was always covered in acne but it wasn’t as bad. I was always trying new things to clear my skin like avoiding dairy and eating lots of leafy greens. College is also the time in my life where I developed my go-to skincare routine.

When I was 22 and graduated from college my skin really started to clear up. I attribute a lot of that to starting a new job. I had worked in “fast food” for six years which usually made me sweaty and greasy. My post-grad job got me away from the restaurant lifestyle and I had way less day-to-day stress.

So here we are at age 25. I still have breakouts but they usually aren’t severe. That’s why my last breakout freaked me out so much. I was worried that my acne was going to be terrible again. Murad has been my go-to for acne products for years so I ordered their starter kit right away and my acne cleared up in less than a week.

Acne is hard. It’s different for everyone and can be incredibly frustrating. However, my acne journey made me a stronger person. It taught me that what’s on the inside counts way more than what’s on the outside. I believe that a lot of people have judged me during my life because of my acne and that is their loss.

My acne journey doesn’t define me. Your’s doesn’t define you either.

Do you also struggle with acne? Or know someone who has?

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Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash

Five on Friday #7

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!! I am so ready for this weekend! This past week has been a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve been fighting a losing battle with a headache that wants to turn into a migraine. This weekend I plan on getting some much needed sleep!

  1. I’m going into this weekend with no real plans. Maybe I’ll clean the house and go grocery shopping? But I don’t really have anything else lined up to do which is the best feeling!
  2. I’ve been reading a couple chapters every night from Top Ten by Katie Cotugno. I loved reading 99 Days over the summer so I was excited to read another book by her! So far I don’t love it as much as I loved 99 Days but I do think it’s really cute and fluffy.
  3. Speaking of high school, we cleaned out my parent’s basement last weekend and now I am the proud owner of two boxes full of high school memories. High School Hayley was really annoying and I’m happy to have left her in the past.
  4. One year ago we were moving into our first house! It’s crazy how fast time has gone! I never thought I’d find somewhere that made me feel more at home than my parent’s house where I grew up. But the moment I walked into our house I felt relaxed and knew that we were meant to be there. One year later and I am still so in love with our cozy cape cod!
  5. I’ve been thinking about work-life balance this past week. I was talking to my group of study abroad friends about how much vacation time is standard in their countries. My workplace is pretty flexible when it comes to time off, working from home, and sick days but I still feel pressure to work as much as possible. The thought of being able to take a two week vacation seems crazy to me now! Honestly, I have had so many thoughts running through my head this past week that I need to figure out how to sort through.

How was your week? Do you have any plans this weekend?

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Photo by Daniela on Unsplash

 

6 Things I Wish I Could Tell My High School Best Friend

6 Things I Wish I Could Tell High School Best Friend

Happy Monday!

I had a dream last night about my old high school best friends. Our group of friends fell apart my junior year and by the time we were seniors we barely talked at all. But at one point that group of girls meant everything to me.

In my dream, we were in my friend’s basement where we spent so many nights at. It felt so familiar. The strange thing was that my friend wanted nothing to do with me. I tried to talk to her but she kept walking away.

In real life this friend deleted me on Facebook and has avoided me in public when I know for a fact that she saw me. I made a list of the six things I wish I could tell her but know that I never will.

  1. I still think of you often and hope that you are well.
  2. I have no bad feelings towards you. In fact, I don’t even remember why we aren’t friends anymore. I think we just grew apart but I’m sorry if I did anything to hurt you.
  3. Our friendship meant so much to me. I’m glad I had you in my life even though it was only for a few years.
  4. I’m proud of you. From what I can see, it looks like you are living your best life. I used to know all your goals and aspirations and even though things have changed, it still looks like you have lived out your dreams.
  5. It really hurts that you deleted me on Facebook. I know it doesn’t matter but I feel like you just erased me from your life.
  6. I’m still here if you ever need to talk to anyone.

Friendships can be tricky and the older I get the more I realize this. I don’t think I’ll ever have a group of friends like my middle/high school group of girls. Things weren’t always perfect but I knew that they always had my back. So much time has passed that I don’t remember why we are no longer friends and the truth is that I don’t really care.

I do have two girls from elementary school that I am still friends with. Our friendship has stood the test of time and even though we are hundreds of miles apart I know we will be friends for the rest of our lives.

Are you still in contact with your high school friends?

Thanks so much for reading!

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My Migraine Story

 

Chronic Migraines, Chronic Headaches, My Migraine Story, Migraine Treatments

Hey, hey.

It’s me, back with one of the most personal posts I have ever shared on the internet.

It’s no secret that I have been living with daily headaches and chronic migraines. I have often shared my struggles with balancing life and work with the constant pain. I still don’t have any answers and I may never receive them but I thought I’d share my story because I know that I am not the only one struggling.

I can remember having headaches as a pre-teen but they never lasted that long. My junior year in high school was when my headaches started to become a routine problem but I was able to take an ibprofen and be fine to go about my day.

My mom, sister, and I got into a car accident that same year. My head went through the passenger side window and I still can’t remember the accident. I have a brief memory of waking up in the ambulance but I mostly just remember waking up at the hospital.

After the car accident, I continued to have headaches but they started to get a little stronger. I also started to get migraines that made me sick to my stomach. Senior year was when they became an almost constant problem. My eyesight started getting blurry and it was painful to wake up in the morning. My brain felt like it was pressing up against my skull at all times.

College was when I started to see a neurologist. My headaches had become constant and I was getting migraines a couple of times per month. I was living in the noisy dorms and trying to balance 5 classes, a part-time job, and a minimal social life. It was not how I imagined college to be. For the first time, I was prescribed something for the pain. We discovered early on that I have a bad reaction to most of the commonly used medicines for headache pain. My stomach could not seem to handle it.

I went to London and hoped for the best. My headaches followed me and I spent more time then I want to admit in bed with the blankets covering my eyes. I had to say no to experiences with my friends and missed many of our lunch time adventures. I vowed to make a change when I got home. I didn’t want to keep missing out on things due to my headaches.

Not much changed when I got home and I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment where my headaches started to rule over me. I needed to take ibprofen three times a day in order to function. My head hurt the worst in the morning when I first woke up and at night when I was trying to sleep. The pain would wake me up from a deep sleep. I started to become dependent on ibprofen because it was the only thing that made me feel normal, if only for a few hours.

Now I understand that my constant intake of ibprofen actually began to cause rebound headaches. My body became dependent on it and it made my headaches even worse. I actually felt like I couldn’t function without it. But what was I to do? I was a full time student and almost full time employee at a job where I couldn’t just call off work if I didn’t feel well. It was a never ending cycle.

I graduated in April 2016 and began looking for a full time job in my field. I spent a lot of time in bed in between working and applying for jobs. I was exhausted and didn’t take care of myself. I stopped taking the preventative medicine that my doctor had given to me because it wasn’t working and I felt hopeless.

Fast forward to me accepting my current position and being thrown into a field that I I knew very little about. I thought that college had prepared me for a corporate job but I was very wrong and very out of my element. I was depressed and sick. I started seeing my neurologist again and we discussed the lifestyle changes that I would need to make in order to start feeling better.

It’s been a year and a half and very little progress has been made. I have a headache every single day and am almost constantly nauseous. I struggled a lot in the beginning of my career because the pain made me feel really self conscious and I didn’t want my new co-workers to know my problems. But now they know and understand that sometimes I need to sit in my corner quietly and just work. I try to miss as few days as possible at work but my boss is very understanding if I need to take a break.

So, that’s where I am at. Many years and no answers. I should mention that my mom and grandma both have these headaches so the doctors know that it is genetic. I am also consulting a neurologist when taking medications. It is very important to speak to a medical professional when taking any sort of medication.

I am trying to stay hopeful that my neurologist will find something to help me. At my last visit we discussed trying physical and massage therapy.  I start physical therapy this week and am super hopeful that it will help! And now you know that if I ever go a long time without blogging it is most likely due to having a bad headache week.

Let me know if you have any recommendations! I might write a post on all my tips and tricks for dealing with headaches or migraines.

Thanks so much for reading!

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

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Get to Know Me!

Hey guys! This is just a little introduction post because I just realized that I never really wrote one…. Oops.

hayley

1. Well, I will be 21 in October! I am looking forward to a low key gathering with some of my close friends. We are planning to go out somewhere but I know that I’m not the type to go too crazy. I have honestly been waiting for my 21st birthday before I start drinking. I know it’s not that big of a deal but I am a complete rule follower. I would feel so bad if I broke the law and drank before it’s legal. Plus, I have heard that alcohol doesn’t even taste good. Apparently you have to acquire the taste which seems like too much work!

2. I am a junior in college this fall. I am little ahead but I will still graduate spring 2016. My major is Electronic Business Marketing with minors in General and International Business. I am completely in love with the Business World and know that I have picked the right career path for me!

3. My favorite color is purple. I’m all purple everything.

4. When I was younger I wanted to be a writer. I would write a ton of cute, cheesy books that I would insist that every member of my family should read. It was great. I eventually moved on but now I use my blog to fulfill my love of writing.

5. I’m trying to quit drinking pop. It is way harder than I thought that it would be. Any suggestions?

Senior performance of the National Anthem

Senior performance of the National Anthem

Best Friends!

Best Friends!

6. I was in the high school marching band. I loved marching! I met many great friends and made awesome memories that will last me the rest of my life. I am a proud band geek! It was nice that I always had a place where I felt at home. I could go to the band room when I was having a bad day and be around people who cared about me.  I miss band but will always carry the experiences and memories with me.

Meet Lucy :)

Meet Lucy 🙂

7. I love my cat! Her name is Lucy and she is so cute and cuddly. My mom adopted Lucy for me during my junior year of high school as a present right after Christmas. Lucy had been at the pound for over 45 days which means that she was about to be put down. I walked in and she stuck her paws through the cage. I instantly fell in love with her and we have been inseparable since!

One of my senior pictures with my flute

One of my senior pictures with my flute

8. All through high school I was planning on being a Music Performance major in college. I play the flute and I used to practice 3-5 hours a day along with lessons, classes, rehearsals, and ensembles. I love music and I am passionate about playing. However, I have stage fright and have a hard time playing in front of people. So being a Music Performance major would be really difficult. My sophomore year I played a Mozart piece for Solo and Ensemble that I spent over a year preparing! Music will always be an important part of my life but I’m glad that I decided to major in Business.

Well, thanks for reading! I am looking forward to getting to know all of you too!