Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

Like almost every other book I read, I watched this movie first. I thought that the movie was good, the actors played their roles really well, and the story was interesting. However, I felt that there was probably way more to this story than what they were portraying. Boy, was I right.

My aunt and I were talking about the movie and how we both wanted to read the book. She actually surprised me by sending a copy to me in the mail (special shout-out to Aunt Angie!).


I was surprised when I started reading that the book wasn’t set up like the movie. It didn’t start in the present with a major conflict that the main character was dealing with, it just started from the beginning of J.D.’s life.

It threw me off at first, but I liked it way better. Starting from the beginning really allowed us to see everything through J.D.’s eyes. We got all the background on his family in Kentucky, his Mamaw and Papaw’s move to Ohio and everything that led up to his childhood. It really helped to set the scene and give the reader the sense of hope for a better future by getting out of Kentucky.

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know that his grandparents getting out of Kentucky wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They never lost their “hillbilly” side and had very strong and aggressive personalities. It made his mothers life very difficult, which in turn made J.D.’s life difficult.

This sort of rut that they were stuck in is something that I think needs to be talked about more. I don’t think people realize it, but when you grow up in circumstances where you’re told this is all you’ll ever amount to and this is what you should expect from life, it’s really hard to get out of that. J.D.’s mom was smart and did well in school, but as he mentions ended up pregnant and divorced before she was even out of her teens. She was just a product of her environment and once she was caught up in it, she didn’t find her way out.

J.D. was on that path as well because he was also stuck in that environment. It wasn’t until he took control of his life and moved in permanently with his Mamaw that his life started to change for the better. Through a series of choices that he made, without any real goals, he became the exception to the rule. He made it to Yale. He made it out of poverty. He was able to improve his life and recognize that he wasn’t the norm for people who grew up the same way.

He also recognized that he didn’t do this on his own. He needed help and he needed people to help him figure out how to get that help. It was actually shocking to me as well when he realized that he could spend less going to Yale than he did going to a local college. It makes sense when you think about it, because there’s plenty of financial aid for people who need it when they go to college, and of course ivy-league schools have lots of money to give. It made really wonder how many people haven’t even tried because they didn’t think they could afford it. How many people were told that they couldn’t accomplish going to a better school because they would end up with too much debt?

Since I watched the movie first, I was shocked to find out that the entire conflict in the movie wasn’t even mentioned in the book. J.D. wasn’t interrupted during his dinner to find out his mother had overdosed and had to drive all night to make it to the hospital. He didn’t take her to a rehab where he had to pay with multiple credit cards. He didn’t catch her trying to use at a dirty motel.

There were mentions of similar situations, but nothing so dramatic as what they portrayed in the movie. It actually made the movie feel cheap and like a disservice to J.D. real, true story. They used his family’s problems to create a dramatic situation that took away from his accomplishment. They made it about Amy Adams, when it should’ve just been about how he got away from her.

It’s not often that I’m disappointed in movie adaptations, but this one is pretty bad in my opinion.

Everything he wrote about was real and interesting. It’s eye-opening and inspiring to see how someone from a totally different background can accomplish more than they ever thought was possible. It really does show that opportunity is out there, but it’s not as accessible as we think.

This was truly a great book and great story. I really hope that everyone who watched the movie takes the time to read the book.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If anyone else has read the After series, they’ll completely understand why I chose to read Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice next. Kind of crazy how one author’s words can inspire you so much that you feel the need to read other works they mentioned just so that you can understand their characters better, isn’t it?

I’m not super familiar to Jane Austen’s work to be honest. I remember reading Emma in high school, but it was for an assignment and for some reason anytime I’ve been assigned to read it I just don’t do well with retaining any of it. Probably some psychology we could get into there, but this isn’t the place for that.

I also did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I think that and the original novel really should be kept separate from each other. I don’t remember it that well, but as far as I’m concerned they tell very different stories.

When I started reading Pride and Prejudice, I have to say, I was really bored. The first half of the book was really uninteresting to me and honestly I was struggling to get through it without falling asleep. Darcy was a jerk, Elizabeth hated him.

When he confessed his feelings for her it felt really out of place. I understand that he had pride, so he felt that anyone would be honored to receive a proposal from him, but what really made him think she would accept? Maybe he thought she was mean to him because she liked him? It was just strange to me.

However, once she told him off and he wrote her the letter I did start to feel more connection to the story. They misunderstood each other and had to adjust their ways of thinking to come back together at the end. It was cool to see the ways that they both changed.

I did really enjoy the second half of the book. Seeing Darcy redeem himself with Elizabeth and the ways that he was willing to change the way he was and help her out behind the scenes because he loved her was actually kind of touching. Elizabeth ended up with Darcy because she respected him and because he respected her. I can definitely see why so many people love this story.

My grandmother apparently loved the adaptation with Colin Firth, so I may need to check that out eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it’s free on Comcast right now.

Bullet Journal – April 2020 Cover Page & Monthly Spread

Here we are again posting my cover page at the end of the month. Sorry guys! Things have been so strange with the pandemic and the state of the world right now.

To be completely honest, I’m finding it hard to find motivation to do anything. Working from home is definitely not something that I enjoy. Okay, so maybe it was fun for a week or two to not have to get dressed for work and to sit and drink tea all day long. Now it’s just sort of frustrating.

I used to be able to leave work at work. I would drive the 20 minutes it takes to get home and blast my music if I felt stressed about something, and then go home and enjoy my peaceful space.

Now it’s become a part of my space. I can’t really escape it. Even when I shut down for the day I’m still thinking about it. I’m thinking about if I put in enough work for the day. I’m thinking about what I can do tomorrow to be better. Even on the weekends I’m thinking about doing work just because I don’t have anything else to do and could really get a good start on some of the projects.

I’ve tried to do other things to keep myself busy during this time, but it’s really hard.

I tell myself I’m going to catch up on new Netflix series, read more, exercise more, eat healthier, improve my quality of life, etc. I will give myself some credit – I ordered a ton of painting supplies from Michael’s and have started getting back into making art. So far, that’s the one thing that’s helped me stay sane during this stay-at-home order.

I haven’t really done much else though. Plus my overthinking is getting the best of me and I’ve definitely pushed people away…not going to get into that today though.

So now that I’ve vented all my personal COVID-19 frustrations, lets get back to bullet journaling…

I decided to go with a Spring theme this month. I was inspired by the daffodils growing in my backyard. I guess the blooming of flowers after the cold winter is kind of a sign of hope for better, warmer days. I was obviously feeling a lot more positive at the beginning of the month.

I’ve really slacked on keeping up with my habits. I did get in some reading the last two days, so I’m happy that I’ll be able to fill in those little boxes. Really need to start making dinner more, but honestly it’s mostly that I have so many leftovers as a single person that I don’t really need to make more than 2 or 3 meals a week to keep myself fed.

Not really much else to share about this month. How’s everyone else coping?

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton

I’ve always been interested in mythology, but never really put a lot of time into reading the stories. I think in seventh grade we spent some time reading about mythology in my English class but I remember not doing well with it and that there were too many stories and names to remember.

I’ve taken up an interest in astrology lately, and I think the connection between the planets and the gods sort of sparked my interest in mythology again. As it turns out, if you’re interested in mythology there’s basically an unlimited amount of reading material out there for you. It’s a bit overwhelming to say the least.

While I was researching, I kept coming across recommendations to read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. In my opinion, it’s definitely a good resource for beginners. The book does a good job of explaining the myths and organizing them in a way that makes sense. It’s still a bit overwhelming and I still don’t have all the names straight, but I really enjoyed reading this.

The stories about Persephone and Hades really stuck out to me and I think if I continue to read into any mythology, it would need to have a strong focus on these two. I guess mythology is sort of all over the place so that everyone finds something they like or can relate to and dive deeper into that. If anyone has any good recommendations for further reading, I’d really appreciate it!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Okay, so I love love loved this show. Everything was so good – the acting, the plot, the relationships. Literally everything.

I was really surprised when I started reading the book because it actually takes place in Australia. I have to admit, I didn’t think that people from Australia would be as gossip-y as Americans, but I guess that’s kind of a dumb assumption to make. Everyone gossips and everyone lies sometimes.

There were a few other differences from the show – Madeline and Renata both had more kids, there was no Madeline affair, and as always there were way more details to the story.

The book was really good. I found myself picking it up just to read one or two chapters and not being able to put it down. Just one more, I kept telling myself.

When I read this there was a lot of talk about a second season of the show and how they would continue the story after the book ends, but I think there’s a lot that they could do with this next season. The characters are amazing on their own and I would honestly watch them just hanging out and gossiping about each other. I also think that there is a lot more to explore with Renata’s character and with Bonnie’s character. We didn’t get to see too much with them this past season and they’re both very interesting characters.

I loved it. It was sad, but good, while still being sad. I’m very excited to see what’s to come next season and to have these characters live on for a little while longer.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Full disclosure – I can never get through this movie. Literally, I’ve never watched it the whole way through without falling asleep. The good thing about this is that I had no idea what to expect from the book!

I did feel like this book dragged a bit until the end. I didn’t know what happened to Mr. Weasley at all, that was horrible. I felt so bad! Also, Umbridge is the worst. I thought I hated Lockhart, but she’s worse.

I did know that *SPOILER ALERT*

Sirius died. I felt so bad for Harry every time he thought about living with him and finally to be with someone who cared about him, knowing that he was going to die. It was horrible when it actually happened and there was so much action leading up to it. It was actually kind of hard to follow.

I did really like this one, it’ll probably never be my favorite, but it was still a good one.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so I didn’t remember this movie at all. Why did I think that Neville’s parent’s were dead? I must have just overlooked that in the movie, I actually can’t remember if they ever say whether they’re alive or not.

Anyway, WOW what a crazy book. Not remembering the movie well actually made me keep questioning what I thought happened, and I felt like maybe they changed things in the movie.

I’m not gonna lie, I kind of had to drag myself through the first half of the book. It felt very slow and I really loved the last one so I thought this one would be exciting, but once it got to the the Triwizard Tournament it really picked up and was really good.

It really makes you think that no one can be trusted. It could’ve been anyone who put Harry’s name into the goblet. I felt bad for Harry, that he didn’t know who had put him in this situation and that he was forced into it and people acted like he was just doing it for the fame.

The Voldemort scene was intense and some amazing writing. I was so sad about poor Cedric, the scene was devastating, especially after Harry had told him to take the goblet with him.

I really liked that Harry gave all the money he won to Fred and George, that was a nice little thing to end the story with.

I know what’s coming next and I’m so worried about how I’ll feel reading it. There was so much more in this book than what I remember from the movie, but that’s why I really love reading books that have inspired movies. Even if you know the gist of the story, it takes you so much deeper which is really fun.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Okay, okay…I know I said I really liked the first two…but this one is my favorite out of the three BY FAR. It was so so so so good.

I LOVED that Harry finally gets to learn more about his parents. It seriously made me so happy for him to find out how similar he is to his dad. It really makes you think about the times that you have with your parents and the common interests that you have and how heartbreaking it would be to not experience those things. I seriously loved it.

There was so much more to this book than what they had in the movie. I’ve actually been watching each movie after I finish the book to compare, which has been really fun to see and to compare it to how I’m imagining things in my mind. You also catch little details in the movie that you may have missed before because you just didn’t know about it before reading the book. I really like that.

I’m so sad that it’s taken me this long to read this series. I’ve really missed out, they’re so good.

I’m also sad because I’ve seen the movies and I know how things are going to end for some of the characters. Reading about how happy Harry is when he thinks he can go live with Sirius makes me feel so bad, knowing his fate. I hate that, but I’d actually rather be prepared for it than shocked and upset when it happens in the book.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Just like the first book, I thought that this one was very similar to the movie and I really enjoyed it. I like that these books so far have been so easy to read. I get that they’re “supposed” to be children’s books, but they’re great for adults also. You just want to keep reading, it’s hard to stop. I’ve actually been staying up really late just to keep reading.

Lockhart is seriously so annoying though. If I had to pick something that I didn’t like, it would be him. He’s the worst part of the book.

I like that we’re starting to see the relationships forming between Harry and Ginny, and Ron with Hermione. I’ve always heard people talk about how if you’ve only seen the movies you won’t understand why these couples end up together, but that the books do it way better. I feel like I’m starting to see that and I’m happy about it.

I also would’ve loved to see the death day party in the movie. I think that would’ve been fun, even though it maybe isn’t essential to the story.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so when I was realllyyyyy little I was gifted the first Harry Potter book. It took me over a year to finish it the first time and I definitely was too young to really pay attention and know what was going on. I got the book before the movies were made, so it really wasn’t this huge sensation to me yet and I never read the others.

As an adult, I’ve seen all of the movies and really love them. I know so many people who have read the books and adore them, so I figured it was finally time for me to get on board.

I seriously can’t believe that I’ve never really read these books before and I’m really excited to have them all finished.

Re-reading the first one was so good. It was a lot like the movie, I feel like they did a really good job adapting it. I seriously loved it so much, it was so easy to read. I finished this one super fast.

Usually I hate knowing what’s going to happen, but in this case I actually loved it because there were so many hints throughout the book and little things that foreshadow what’s to come. I love being able to pick up on that.

Anyway, it’s really good and I’m really late to the game. Better late than never though right?