Birchblogger Review: Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

The monthly subscription service for beauty products, Birchbox, partnered with Mindy Kaling on their August box as well as a social media campaign that concluded with a live twitter chat with Kaling. As part of this campaign, Birchbox sent out several copies of Mindy Kaling’s bestseller Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) to members of their Birchblogger network to review. I was one of the bloggers who received a copy, and the following is my take:


Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a fast-paced and pithy showcase of Mindy’s comedic talent, and the balance of frivolity with depth Kaling carefully curates showcases her craft. Reading more like an anthology of humorous anecdotes and hip-yet-provocative editorials than a chronological autobiography, Kaling’s book is always trendy and occasionally poignant. Furthermore, despite protestations to the contrary, Kaling subtly calls out sexism through critiques of the comparisons of female comedians, as well as through personal anecdotes about industry beauty standards. One example used is when she learned other actresses would be auditioning to play her in an unsuccessful television pilot, “[…] I could convincingly play Ben Affleck but not Mindy Kaling”.

Kaling’s writing is hilarious, and if familiar with her work on The Office and The Mindy Project it is impossible to read the book without hearing the cadence of Kaling’s own voice. (Rumor has it she narrated the official book on tape, and if the online customer reviews are to be trusted four out of five say it’s amazing). Scattered between anecdotes of growing up as, “a child who wore cardigans”, and strong opinions on the importance of male chest hair, fans of Kaling’s work will also be excited to get a quick peek behind the curtain in the writer’s room of The Office and Saturday Night Live (one of which turned out better for Kaling than the other).

Despite the frequent and blasé name-dropping of Kaling’s contemporaries such as Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, B.J. Novak and her “frenemy” Rainn Wilson, Kaling comes across as instantly relatable. Kaling shares many of her personal struggles with weight, body image, rejection, hot-headedness, and romance—not to mention romantic comedies—in a way that is genuine and normalizing. Oh yeah, and truly funny.

It is interesting to note that Kaling thanks B.J. Novak in her acknowledgments for his feedback, including his recommendation that she work on not “sounding racist” in her book. While the thank you is humorous, there are a few moments in the book where jokes about race flirt with the border between provocative and tasteless. However, there are many more that land flawlessly.

From the first page Kaling is endearing, and comes across as someone who would make a really great best friend. Not a seminal read by any means, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a fast, effective compilation of the inner musings of Mindy Kaling. The book is entertaining for everyone, and a treat for her fans. Kaling shines through her unique mixture of drama, genuineness, and comedic timing, easily winning the hearts of her readers. After all, there is something delightfully charming in her willingness to confidently state, “I’m kind of a mess”.




P.S. If anyone is considering signing up for a Birchbox subscription, click here for a referral.

Review: Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story

Greetings book lovers:

Below is a review of Jim Butcher’s latest novel, Ghost Story. There are spoilers from the previous novel in the series so if you have not read Changes and you are planning on it, you might want to skip this review.


After over a year of waiting Jim Butcher’s thirteenth Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story, was released on Tuesday, July 26th.  The book was originally slated to be released in April of 2011 but the author felt that the book was not ready at that time. The question is, was the wait worth it for fans?

                The last book ended, not in a cliff-hanger as Butcher points out in his forward, but with the death of our protagonist, Harry Dresden, Wizard. That’s right. Harry saves his daughter, is finally about to make it with the woman of his and the reader’s dreams, and then he gets shot and tumbles into the icy waters of Lake Michigan. That’s a bummer. In the wait between novels, a short story following Karrin Murphy, the above mentioned lady love, was published as a teaser in the Dresden-themed collection,Side Jobs. The story was set directly after Dresden’s death, and followed Murphy’s shock and coping. Fans were moved. More depressing “Harry’s dead” wailing was expected. When Ghost Story finally debuted, that’s not quite what readers got.

                Butcher’s Ghost Story begins directly (we assume) after Dresden’s death. Rather than weeping and gnashing of teeth, the story sticks one-sidedly to Dresden’s perspective. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise. After some reflecting on what death is or isn’t, the loophole we are all expecting makes its way into the plot and Harry’s shade is sent back to Chicago in order to solve his own murder after making some new acquaintances on the way.

                What ensues for the next one hundred pages is a whole lot of action, and not a whole lot of plot. Harry gets used to being all ghostified, he learns about the big evils currently decimating (that’s funny, read the book) Chicago, fights or doesn’t fight a lot of spectral figures, finds a personal Obi-Wan type, can’t use his magic, and slowly catches up with the familiar cast of characters. I have to admit, for as long as I’d waited for this book to come out, at first I wasn’t that into it.

                After the first hundred or so pages, the plot began to pick up. Dresden started doing his detective thing, and gathered, as only Dresden can, a seemingly insurmountable list of problems and people to save complicated even farther by sunrise and, oh yeah, not being able to touch the mortal world. In other words, the book gets back to what made the series an international best-seller in the first place: Dresden has a lot of problems and solves them with bravado, mystical aid, and a lot of sass.

                The rest of the novel was almost completely satisfying. Characters grew, as did Dresden’s perception of them, problems were resolved, and there was plenty of firepower and biting wit. My main complaint while reading was the complete absence of Winter Knight obligation in the book. The previous few novels had built up all of this drama, in a moment of despair Dresden finally signed the deal with the dark fae in order to save his offspring, and then Butcher just ignores this for the entire novel? That’s awfully convenient for Dresden, and awfully annoying for me. I will say nothing about the end of this book, except that my complaint is no longer valid. 

So, yes, the wait was worth it for me, even if I feel a little bad for saying that I’m much more excited for the next novel.




Four stars out of five



DivaCup: One Year Review

Those of you who have been reading my blog faithfully know that I have many loves–one of which is the body and all of its fascinating processes, including the menstrual cycle.

It has now been a little over a year since I first made the switch from tampons to reusable menstrual cup so I thought I’d give you an update on how well the DivaCup has held up to its promises.

In my original post I talked about initial awkwardness but overall positive feeling involving the Divacup, but how do I feel 15 months later?

The DivaCup website promised me this:

1–Not a tampon–This sounds silly, but it is definitely true. As convenient as tampons are for swimming, doing sports, not feeling like you are walking around in a diaper, they also have their down sides. Tampons dry you out inside, can cause Toxic Stress Syndrome, have an annoying string that tends to get in the way at the most innoportune times, and can chafe, rub, or sit uncomfortably. The DivaCup does not.

2–“The DivaCup is the most clean and convenient method of feminine hygiene protection” I have not tried other brands of menstrual cups, but I will say that this statement is completely true when compared with pads and tampons. All it takes is a simple pull and dump, and the blood is gone. A rinse if at home or a wipe if in a public restroom prepares the cup to be reinserted. I’ve never spilled the contents or dropped the menstrual cup.

3–“The DivaCup can be worn for up to 12 hours before emptying, washing and reinserting for use for another 12 hours.” This is completely true. I’ve never had an over-full cup. There was one day when I had so many activities and no break that I ended up wearing it for over 17 hours. That was about as much as I would want to push the capacity on my heaviest day, but depending on your flow you could probably go for less or more. Not that you would necessarily want to. The main point I am trying to make is that you don’t need to worry about changing every couple of hours, checking your watch and scouting for a bathroom.

4–“The DivaCup’s expert, proprietary, patent-pending features make it comfortable and assures ease of use and reliability.”  Once I figured out how to insert it properly, I never had another worry. I cannot feel it inside of me. I thought I couldn’t feel tampons–I was wrong. Compared to the DivaCup, wearing tampons is painful. The DivaCup is silicone–latex-free, plastic-free, BPA-free, so you won’t have an allergic reaction, and it won’t soak up your natural vaginal fluids leaving you dry and uncomfortable. Some women report that if they have a relatively low cervix the DivaCup’s stem can poke them, but the stem can be trimmed to the base and this is no longer a problem. I have done cardio, yoga, gone swimming, done dancing with lifts and kicks, even ridden a bicycle with the DivaCup in without feeling any discomfort.

I am one hundred percent satisfied with my purchase, and I will never go back.

There was a day when I wasn’t expecting my period and I didn’t have my DivaCup with me. I had to purchase a tampon, and the experience was so uncomfortable when compared with the DivaCup that I was shocked I had ever loved tampons. 

Some final thoughts:

1–The DivaCup has already paid for itself in full with the savings I have made not purchasing tampons this year.

2–Other than a very slight discoloration, the DivaCup is in the exact same shape it was when I first purchase it. The website recommends purchasing a new DivaCup every year but most women state on their blogs and youtube channels that they use theirs for 3-5 years before replacing them.

3–I recommend the punch-down fold for insertion.

4–I do not have leakage, and it only takes a second or two to insert or remove now that I’ve been using it for a while. I do not even wear panty liners.

5–Ever since using the DivaCup, my debilitating cramps have almost completely disappeared. When I get even the faintest hint, I take some Motherwort. Separate post to follow on the past-one-year Motherwort review.

6–I take the time to examine my flow, checking color, consistency, and amount so I can mark patterns and predict how long I have left by consistency. I think its really cool. You can do so as well. Or you can dump the blood and never think about it again. It is up to you.

In conclusion, I will say that the DivaCup is not only one of the most cost-effective purchases I have made over the last year, but also one of my favorites.

If you are a menstruating woman I highly recommend this purchase.



DivaCup: The Review

Many people asked for a follow up once I had the chance to use the Divacup and the following post is my response.

If the intricacies of the female cycle and body disturb, disgust, perturb, or bore you then skip this post.

To review: I bought this

a while ago. My reasons for purchasing this device are in a previous blog entry so scroll down.

So let’s start with the negative points first:

1–if you’re squeamish and don’t like to touch yourself (THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT!) then this isn’t for you

2–The first insertion was really weird

3–The first time taking it out was a little awkward

4–It has to be washed (but I don’t really think that’s a bad deal)

Now on to the positive:

1–NO SPILLAGE my entire period, something I somehow never manage to avoid with tampons (especially overnight!)

2–No odor

3–I got to measure my flow and actually see what menstrual blood looks like, it was really cool in a geeky way

4–No mess in taking out

5–Not very bad cramps (compared to usual)

6–easy to clean

7–the divawash was really soft and it smelled good

8–Once in correctly I could not feel it at all, and I was able to exercise without worry

9–No irksome tail (string) hanging out all over the place

The first insertion was a little strange and didn’t quite work. The second time worked like a charm and I had no problems after that. I did discover that the punch fold worked best for me.

I watched several youtube videos before using the cup and they really helped.

HOWEVER a few of the videos suggested that I re-fold the cup while pulling it out and I strongly advise you not to. It caused discomfort on the first pull. Instead, I found that just rocking it back and forth gently and quickly eased the cup out.

I am 100% satisfied with this product and I intend to keep using it forever. If I keep it in my purse I won’t run the risk of running out, and I won’t have to do the awkward under-the-bathroom-stall tampon shuffle anymore.

Finally this entire process has really interested me in the body, natural healthcare, and in mapping menstrual cycles. I just think it is so cool and I want to learn more!

If this has grossed you out…

grow up.