Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Started an Online Business; And You're Going to Love it

You guys I started an online business. Well I say I. Joe and I started a business. And I have been so freaking excited to share it with all of you and now it is all official and I finally can!

What if I told you there are cleaning products safe enough to be used in homes with children without fear and made without many of the chemicals that harm the environment?

What if I told you you could have amazing haircare, skincare, and cosmetic products with none of the guilt that comes from using something you know is awful for your body and the environment?

What if I told you you could get 2 servings of fruits and vegetables in a drink that doesn't taste like tomato puree, meal bars that don't taste like mud, and energy drinks that give you essential vitamins instead of liquid sugar?

All of this and so much more is what you have access to through our store (which you can find here!) And we are so, so very excited about it.

For obvious reasons I am going to be focusing a lot on the beauty product half of the business, because it is something that I just know really well, but I am just so super excited about all of it. I'm not going to go super in depth about any of the products in this post, I'll save that for future posts dedicated to one or two things, but I will say that I have yet to be disappointed in anything I have tried for myself. I'm already getting ready to place a rather huge order for myself because I ran out of my sample sizes for the cleanser, toner, and shampoo/conditioner. I hope you all know by now that I would never recommend anything on my blog that I do not genuinely believe in, so I do really hope you'll take some time to check out what we have to offer.

We are currently offering 10% off newly registered customers' first orders. You are free to shop the store without registering with us, but without registering we have no way to offer the discount. It only takes a minute and registering with us in no way obligates you to then buy something.

Registration also lets you shop affiliate stores, such as Target, Charming Charlie, Best Buy, etc, through our site. Which means you can online shop at the stores you already online shop at and support my attempt to pay off student loans at the same time. Win-win, right? (:

If you have any questions about the site or any of the products please feel free to email us at JKShoplines(dot)gmail(dot)com. And if you are interested in ordering anything please let us know you have registered so we can give you the discount before you purchase! We also plan to start offering a referral discount in the near future, so if you try something you love, tell someone about it!

I am really excited about this. I can't wait to start sharing some of my favorite products with you all!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Confessional: The Lies Behind Lifestyle Blogging

I want to start this post by saying I do not intend the title to be all encompassing. I am in no way suggesting that all lifestyle blogs or bloggers fall into this trend. It is simply an observation of my own personal experiences lately. This post is also probably gonna run a little long, but I hope you'll take the time to read it.

I feel like blogging, or at least the lifestyle genre of blogging, is so often centered around people who have their shit together who are trying to help others do the same thing. Posts about improving your eating habits, exercise schedule, time management, budgeting, style tips, etc are everywhere. People love reading this posts, so they tend to bring in some decent traffic, which is probably why so many bloggers have turned to writing them. And don't get me wrong, they are great. Who doesn't need some time management tips now and then? And getting to see how other people have worked through what you're dealing with is always comforting.

At the same time, however, I feel this trend has put bloggers into this weird authority position. Like blogging is for those select few who have figured it all out and are ready and willing to share their success secrets with everyone else. If you scroll through the most popular lifestyle blogs, they read like real life fairy tales. Perfect relationships complete with Instagram pics from rom-com style date nights. Always runway ready hair and makeup. Elegant recipes that they insist take less than an hour to prepare (lies, always lies) complete with food magazine worthy photos. Many blogs seem to have caught Facebook syndrome, where people only share the good, where everyone's life seems so much better than yours and nobody wants to admit otherwise. In short, lifestyle blogging has become very 2-dimensional. And I have to be honest, guys, that sucks.

The thing I love about blogging, and frankly about the internet as a whole, is that it gives anyone the opportunity to share their truths. It is the opportunity for everyday, real people to share what matters to them with people thousands of miles away. It gives all of us the chance to remember and remind each other that the magazines, the models, the fairy tale lives are all fake, and to be comforted in knowing we are not alone.. But more and more blogs are reading like Cosmo articles: all this could be yours if you x, y, z... It has made it really hard for me to engage with other bloggers lately, because I simply cannot relate to a lot of their blogs. They are too put together, too collected, too organized, or at least that is what they seem to want us all to believe. There was nothing for me to grab onto, nothing to make me have that "oh my gosh me too" moment that makes me fall in love with a blog. Instead I just felt lonely, like I was the only one struggling, like this was a community people like me are not really meant to be a part of. And I simply refuse to accept that.

The truth is I cannot help you get your shit together, because I am a certified hot mess. And I believe this subconsciously led me to stop blogging: I felt like I did not have anything worth sharing. I suck at time management and I have no work-life balance. I am not an authority on any of the things I felt like bloggers need to be an authority on. And that is just really frustrating to me, because that is never what my blog was supposed to be about in the first place. So here is the truth I would not share, the ugly, Instagram un-worthy part of my life.

  • I am currently working two jobs and making just enough for rent, food, and the occasional Steam sale splurge (I just bought Banished for $5; crazy day, whoa).
  • My anxiety is through the roof because I feel like all I ever do is work. I don't even work that many hours, but the schedule that comes with working two retail jobs is killing me.
  • I am terrified every single day that this, this weird, awful limbo, is going to be my life. That I will spend forever knowing exactly what I want to do and not being able to do it because I don't have the time, or I'm too stressed out to focus, or I just really, really need to freaking sleep. All I want is to be a writer and to build a community around my work and my content online. I have so many ideas. I want to start a Youtube channel, and a podcast, and I have so many big dreams for this blog. But I can barely keep up with the blog alone right now. And I know this is temporary. I know that I will find a way, because I won't be happy until I do. But damn the real world is scary.
  • I feel like I in general just make a really terrible adult. They say school is meant to prepare you for the real world and they are the biggest freaking liars. Seriously.
  • I often feel just generally un-important to the people around me. Always a treasured acquaintance, never a close friend. When I got to college I realized I had forgotten how to make friends and it is a skill I just never really got back.

I don't want to bore you with every detail, but the point is my life is messy. And I am willing to bet yours is too. I might not be able to help you fix everything, but I can let you know that you are not alone in the chaos. And that, to me, is the real beauty of online communities. That is why I started blogging and is what I want to contribute to. I don't want to portray this seemingly perfect lifestyle. I want to be a reminder that life is messy and amazing, and scary, and wonderful all at the same time. I want to build a real community of real people sharing and engaging in real conversations with each other. I want to make a difference, and I cannot do that by pretending I am anything other than the passionate, stubborn, anxiety ridden, determined human that I am.

I am thinking about making Sunday Confessional a weekly thing, a post dedicated to sharing the messier part of life that never makes it into the pictures. I would love for any other bloggers to join me. Leave the two-dimensional models and picturesque lives to the magazines. I am a happy and proud citizen of the internet, and I'll be damned if I let the plastic molds of mainstream media take it away from me. So as of today I'm taking it back, starting with my little corner of it here on my blog. Will you join me?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

(Sorry that I don't have a better picture! I borrowed this book from work as part of the bookseller loan program, and when we borrow books we have to leave the dust jackets at the store!)

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

It has been way too long since I sat down and plowed my way through a good fantasy novel. People were just raving about this book, so naturally I had to know what all the fuss was about. And you know what? I totally get it. I loved this book.

First of all I must just be super into narratives with alternating perspectives this summer. I guess I like it because it offers the same direct insight into characters' minds and personalities as a regular first person narration without being forced to narrowly focus on the experiences of a single character, so you can still offer multiple perspectives. That works particularly well in this novel, as the two focused on characters have very, very different experiences and perspectives to offer the reader. Laia is a slave girl who has spent her life fearing the empire and who has lost everything at the hands of a Mask, whereas Elias is the most promising up-and-coming Mask at the military academy. Talk about a difference in life experiences, am I right?

I also really loved Laia's character. She is a great example of a female character who is in an oppressive situation, but who still has agency and is still a well defined, well written character. So many writers get hella lazy when writing female characters when they are placing them in oppressive situations, and on the flip side many critics are quick to accuse writers of writing weak characters simply based on the situation the woman is put it. Laia is an excellent reminder that one does not need to be powerful within her world or society to be well written or strong. She is slave, but she is also so, so much more, and she still commands quite a bit of agency over her own life.

Honestly, the female characters are pretty fantastic across the board. Despite being heavily outnumbered by male characters, they range from slave girls to warriors to the steely commander of Blackwater. They all have their own strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and motives, you know, like real people do. It is pretty sad that in 2015 I have to get excited over a book that manages to offer three-dimensional female characters, but there it is, so A+ to Tahir for that. It's almost like having female writers makes a difference in how women are portrayed. Weird.

Overall, I think what I enjoyed most about the book was that the story went in a completely different direction from what I was expecting. I'm not saying there was a huge plot twist that blew my mind, it was nothing like that, but I did have a clear idea of where I thought the story was going and it just very nonchalantly did not. That doesn't happen very often, so I was pleasantly surprised by that. I don't want to say specifics because spoilers, but I was happy that the book did not take what seemed to me to be the obvious route.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a great new fantasy series to jump into. There are some hints throughout the book that something big is happening in the background, and I cannot wait to see where Laia's and Elias' stories take them next!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wishlist: Look Human

One of my favorite things to do when I get bored is to peruse through LookHuman.com. If you don't know, Look Human is an online apparel shop that specializes in all things internet culture. To be honest, most of their shirts are ripped off of viral Tumblr text posts, and there are some serious gray areas in the copyright there I'm sure, but it's the only place I know of where you can find so much fandom related gear all in one place! I don't do a whole lot of actual shopping at the moment because my bank account would cry, but when I become hugely successful and money is no object I'm going to buy pretty much the entire website.

Until then, I thought it would be fun to share a few things off my ever growing Look Human Wishlist! The list is far (far) longer  than just the few I'm sharing here, but these are some of my absolute favorites. If you like what you see and are interested in browsing for yourself, you can sign up for a Look Human account here! All it asks for is your email, and by using my referral link you'll get a $5 credit towards your first order!

I have to be honest; right now I pretty much want this tank top more than anything else in the world. I'm having Fairy Tail feelings this week.

Because Sailor Scouts have better things to do, okay?

Seriously, though. No one is safe.

If you want to get technical, I'm training to become Zero Suit Samus. Everytime I play Super Smash Bros I'm like damn. This could be me, but I'm playing. Step one: get in shape. Step two: kick boxing classes!

If you win, you live. If you lose, you die. You can only win if you fight.

Notice me, Levi Senpai.

Obviously I've been hanging around the fitspiration section quite a bit lately. What can I say? Nothing inspires me more than my favorite badass characters. 

They have so much more than the few I've shown you here. They have a whole array of Disney shirts and accessories to choose from, and a ton more that I could never fit into one post. I do have one t-shirt from them that says "Introverts Unite We're Here We're Uncomfortable And We Want To Go Home." Is there a better shirt in existence? I think not. If nothing else it is a fun way to pass the time, and I'm willing to bet you'd find at least one thing you desperately need right this very second (that Fairy Tail tank top oh my god).

Don't forget to sign up using my link to get your $5 credit! And let me know what fun things you find! They add new stuff all the time, so every visit is a new adventure.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Motivational Monday

Do you ever feel super insignificant and like nothing you do will ever really make a difference, because I do. When you are one person in a world of seven billion it can seem like everything is so big that nothing tiny little you could do would ever make an impact.

But here's the thing: what if everyone thought that way? What if every person in the world resigned themselves to being utterly insignificant and therefore never bothered trying to make a difference. Its like voting; so many people refuse to vote because they don't think their one vote will make a difference, but when tens of thousands of people have that same mentality, suddenly you have a pretty big voice missing from the equation, right?

Everything about society is made up. Seriously. Nothing about the way society functions is inherent. There is absolutely zero truth in the sentence "that's just the way things are." Things are the way they are because we decided to abide by those rules and boundaries. Society's only restrictions are what we put on it. That means if we want to change something, all it would take is people agreeing to change it. Easier said than done, sure. But it is so much better than sitting back and saying "that's just how it is." (Seriously I hate that phrase. Stop telling your children that. Its toxic and problematic and teaches kids that they are powerless against injustice; why would you want to tell your kid that? Just stop.)

It might be hard to make real, honest change in a world of seven billion people. But it is so much harder if you don't even bother to try. All the progress society has enjoyed has been because of determined, like-minded people coming together to make that change a reality. There is absolutely nothing stopping any of us from being one of them.

I leave you today with a video Hank Green posted to Vlogbrothers a few weeks ago. I think it sums up today's motivational thought pretty well. Go forth, future dead people, and change the world.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

One Year Blogiversary!

As of today I have officially been blogging here at Paperback Planes for one year and that is just really pretty exciting, don't you think?

I'm bummed because I don't really have anything big to do to celebrate this milestone. There are a lot of big plans I have for my blog that I had hoped to execute in time to unveil them today, but money happened and I just haven't been able to afford to do what needs to be done just yet. I am still planning on making them happen this summer, though! Instead of shooting for my one year mark, instead I plan to wait until I hit 200 followers on Bloglovin, which I really hope will happen in the near-ish future. If you wanna help me hit my next milestone pop on over to my Bloglovin page and hit that beautiful follow button at the top!

A lot has changed for me in the past year. I went from planning on going to Grad School for history to wanting nothing more than to be a writer and an online content creator, and I owe a lot of that self-discovery to this blog. What I used to consider a hobby has become the first step in some much larger dreams I have for my career and for my life in general. I have hopes of starting a Youtube channel and creating a podcast soon. I've started writing again; like really writing. More than anything in the world now I want to be a creator and a part of the amazing community that exists on the internet. When I think of how many fantastic friends I've made just on twitter, and when I watch videos by Grace Helbig, Markiplier, and the VlogBrothers, I know that what I really want to do is have community build up around my work as well. I want to be another awkward, nerdy introvert out in the world saying if I can do it so can you.

I don't want to ramble on and get all sentimental too long today. I'm planning on sharing more on the changes in my personal goals in a later post. But I do want to say right now that I have much bigger dreams for my little corner of the internet than I did when it started. I have some really big ideas just waiting for me to find the time and the money to implement them, and slowly but surely I am working towards making sure that happens. And I would never have come to the realization of how important the internet community is to me if it was not for this blog, and for all you beautiful people who spare a few minutes every now and then to read it. So thank you for that. I hope you'll stick around to see what I have planned; it is going to beautiful journey, friends.

Much love,


Friday, June 5, 2015

Cross Cultural Collaboration: Life in India as Told by Someone Who has Never Been There

The lovely Aria over at Girl In A Whimsical Land and I decided to do a post collab awhile back, and being the brilliant person that she is, she came up with a fabulous idea for it. You see, Aria is from India, whereas I live in the USA, so we thought it would be an interesting experiment to share what we think life is like in each other's countries. There is a second part to this collaboration coming up soon where we will both respond to each other's posts with what life is actually like in our respective countries.

For those of you coming from Aria's blog, I'm terribly sorry my post is up so much later. The time difference did not really occur to me, so I was not ready with mine when she posted hers. I'll do better with part 2!

As excited as I am, I am also a bit nervous, so please know I mean no offense if I get anything wrong (which I'm sure I will). The idea really was to show how stereotypes operate and to try to break some of those down, so please forgive me if I'm way off!

When I first started brainstorming for this I realized that there is a big difference between knowing cultural facts about a place and knowing what life in that place is like. I can spout off a few random facts about India or Indian history, but understanding what life is like for someone living in that country is just entirely different I think. Aria joked with me that her ideas about the US come exclusively from movies and television, but I haven't seen many movies based in India, let alone with Indian leads or that focus on Indian culture. Basically what I tried to do is imagine what I would be expecting if I were to hop on a plane and move to India tomorrow.

1. Summer All the Freaking Time

The first thing I would do if I was moving to India is sell all my winter clothes because I would not need those sweaters taking up suitcase space. I feel like to some extent this might depend on where exactly in India you live, but I'm pretty sure it is pretty warm on a regular basis across the board. I remember Aria telling me she's never seen snow before, so at the very least I could ditch my snow boots!

 2. Travel in Groups

As a woman, I do not think I'd be super ecstatic about going anywhere by myself, given all the horror stories that have been on the news in recent years. I do know that American news media likes to overplay rape stories from other countries because people like to point and say "look it could be so much worse you're so lucky" and pretend that we don't have a rape culture in this country (spoiler alert: yeah, we do), but nonetheless there has been some scary stuff going on, so I'd probably be dragging my boyfriend around like a body guard. 

3. Spicy Food

Okay I'm super embarrassed, but pretty much all I know about Indian food is that it includes a lot of curry. And I only know that because my Grandma has Alzheimer's and there are scientists that think something in curry might help fight Alzheimer's because India has next to no Alzheimer's patients in the entire country. Fun fact. I'm also pretty sure rice is involved a lot. Right? I'm pretty sure that's right.

I'm also pretty sure India has open markets as opposed to the giant supermarkets we have here. That would be pretty cool. I wish we had more of those here. I bet it really cuts down the prices on food, because you don't have to pay for all the middlemen and for shipping and everything like that. At the same time, I feel like they would be kinda stressful. I might have to sacrifice my first born for a bag of cherries, but at least I don't have five people yelling at me to buy their cherries. And haggling is the worst. I had to do it in Turkey. I'm not good at it.

4. Hella Crowded. 

I'm pretty sure that trying to get around the cities on a daily basis, like for work or school, would drive me up the wall, because there are just so many people! I would probably hide inside for days because my anxiety would not be able to deal with that. This would probably be another draw back to the open air markets, but then again Meijer can get pretty crazy too I guess.

5. Public Transportation for Days

This one I'm less sure about, but I thought I'd read that it is fairly easy to get around India on the cheap using public transportation. I don't know if that means buses, or trains, or what, but if that is true that would be a major plus for me because public transport in the US is basically nonexistent. I would love to be able to travel around the country pretty easily without the added stress of having to rent a car or something like that. Especially considering India has some of the most beautiful locations in the world to visit. My camera would run out of memory on a daily basis if I got the chance to travel around there.

6. Most Beautiful Traditional Dress in the Entire Freaking World

I do not know how prevalent traditional Indian dress is today, if most people still wear it or if it is a dying tradition like chopsticks in Japan, but oh my gosh saris are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I have honestly been known to just Google "Indian Weddings" because the pictures are absolutely gorgeous. With the wedding saris and the henna and the jewelry, oh my gosh nothing tops that. Google it an tell me you've seen something more beautiful than an Indian bride, just try it.

7. Zero Social Mobility

This is so where I'm gonna get in trouble if I'm wrong. Like I know this is still a thing, but I guess I don't know if it is still prevalent across the entire country? But at least in the more rural parts of the country I would assume, the caste system makes it impossible for people to really improve their social/class standing. If I remember correctly it links to the Hindu belief in reincarnation, so people believe that their social standing in this life is determine by their behavior in their past life, so if they are born impoverished they must stay impoverished as a punishment for poor behavior in their previous life, and by living a good life you can improve your standing in your next life. Right? That is one thing that is really frustrating. It is sad to me that your religion would say you deserve an impoverished life and you can do nothing to change that.

As a random, I also know that people in India usually have two names, a public name and a pet name that only their family and close friends use. Or at least I know that was an Indian tradition, but again I don't know if it is still prevalent. I read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, so that is what I'm going off of.

And there you have it! That is me imagining what life in India would be like. I hope I'm kinda close on most of it at least. I am super excited to pop over and read Aria's post (which you can find here!) and see what she thinks life is like on my side of the pond. I hope you'll come back and read both of our posts on what life is really like in our countries and to see how well we did!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What I'm Looking Forward To: June 2015

A new month means a whole new list of things coming up right around the corner to get excited about! The header picture is a tad misleading, because barring the most amazing surprise ever I will not be anywhere near any place with palm trees this month, but there are still a few things I am looking forward to about June 2015!

June 2, 2015: Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own. 

I do not even have to wait for this one, because the book released 2 days ago, but I am looking forward to snagging at copy from work to read after I finish The Death Code. I'm not normally one for romance-y dramas, but this one sounds pretty interesting, don't you think?

June 7, 2015: 1 Year Blogiversary!

That's right! My little corner of the internet's birthday is this Sunday! Exciting, right? I have some pretty big blog stuff planned that I was hoping to unveil that day, but I have unfortunately had to postpone them for money and time reasons. Hopefully those will come later this summer, and I will still have a special post for the occasion!

June 16, 2015: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life. 
But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.
And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.
Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future. 

Apparently June is a month of romance mysteries. I for some reason really enjoy stories that attempt to untangle the truth about past events. We Were Liars was my favorite book of last summer, I read and loved Vanishing Girls about a month ago, and this book just seems like the next logical step in this reading trend of mine.

June 28, 2015: Date Day in Grand Haven, MI

Mine and Joe's work schedules line up exactly never. We had to request specific days off just to get 2 full days off together over the entire course of the summer. And June 28 is one of those days! Weather pending, we are hoping to spend the day at Lake Michigan and enjoy a night out in downtown Grand Haven. In my 4+ years living in Grand Rapids, I have never once made it over to Grand Haven or Lake Michigan, so I am really excited to finally get to go!  As an added bonus, June 29 mark five and a half years for Joe and I, so our day out will be like a mini halfaversary vacation.

I do have to say, I'm pretty disappointed with this month's box office line up. There really is not a single movie coming out this month that I am particularly excited about. But on the plus side that means I can save the money on movie tickets to go see Pitch Perfect 2, which I have yet to see.

What are you looking forward to this month? Any fun kick-off-the-summer plans I can enjoy through you?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Motivational Monday

Fun fact: I had this quote on my wall for a year and never knew that Nietzche was the one who said it til I was working on this post.

I love this quote because it is a perfect reminder that no matter what you do in life people are going to criticize you. There will always be people who have nothing better to do than attempt to drag others down. But in order for anyone to even attempt to pull you down, they must already be below you, and there is absolutely no reason for you to allow them to drag you down with them.

Never let anyone clip your wings simply because they never found their own. The fact that they spend so much time focusing on and criticizing others probably has a lot to do with the reason they never learned to fly themselves; don't let them stop you from soaring. Be the majestic, badass dragon you were meant to be. Leave the angry, flightless chickens to fight among themselves.

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