Booklist – What I Read in July

The last time I posted my monthly reading I was 7 books behind schedule on my Goodreads challenge to read 50 books this year. I am happy to report I shaved that down a little bit and I am now only 4 books behind schedule. I’m doing it, Peter! (Shout out to anyone who gets my Hook reference.)

With that, I read A LOT this month. Summer is always great for reading because I find myself on the beach or on long train rides a lot more often than I do in any other season. Ready to know what I read? Here we go.

38447 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I gave in to cultural pressure and read The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time. After hearing some *gossip* about the TV show I was expecting gratuitous violence. What I got was an intelligent, disturbing read that unfolds with such elegance and poise in its language that I had a hard time putting it down. In a future that seems nearer than ever, I followed Offred in a world where women fill specific, often biological roles, and have no choice over their existence. Powerful. Jarring. I get it now.




The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

I must have been in a post-apocalyptic mood because right after Handmaid’s I went right into Megan Hunter’s stunning novella about a couple and their newborn surviving the destruction of London. The story is tight, never revealing anything without its emotional impact on the main character and you, the reader. This reminded me of a feminine spin on The Road. 



41laq7WUsZL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb 

I took myself out of fiction for a breather with The Jaws Log, suggested to me by my Jaws-obsessed boyfriend. I was happily surprised to find I couldn’t put this book down! Written by one of the screenwriters of the film, this book shares all the behind the scenes details of the making of this movie. It is, absolutely, an incredible book to read if you have any interest in movie-making at all.




Woman Code by Alisa Vitti

An influencer I follow on Instagram suggested this book to her followers and once I looked it up it sounded exactly like what I needed. I know the cover can be intimidating: FERTILITY?! SEX DRIVE?! But honestly, it is an amazing book all about syncing your life to your cycle– how to eat, workout etc. all so you live in harmony with your body instead of against it. I am obsessed and continue to go back to it for reference every day. Can’t wait to use it more!


41ybG235TcL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Last week when my little brother was staying over he looked at my boyfriend’s bookcase and pointed to this to say, “One of my favorites.” So I picked it out for my next read. It’s fiction but reads very much like a guide to life, meditation, and believing in your own greatness and the greater energy of the world (whether that’s God to you or something else). It’s a lovely tale and I can see myself reading it again when I need a boost spiritually.


41x8eLYN-kL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_ Dare Me by Megan Abbott 

I read a review of Megan Abbott’s newest book Give Me Your Hand  in New York Mag last month and I knew I had to read her other books immediately. I am writing a Western that focuses around a girl of about 15. I have a hard time balancing some pretty adult themes with her age. Abbott does this seamlessly. So I picked up Dare Me first and I was BLOWN away by the craft and energy of this book. I just found a new author that I LOVE!


There it is! My books from July. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you have suggestions for August. I am planning lots of beach time!


My Rent the Runway Unlimited Review

This is a review I am doing on my own. I DID not receive anything from RTR to write this review. 

Me in a Cinq a Sept piece from RTR.


After considering it for OVER a year, I finally decided to take a stab at doing Rent The Runway Unlimited to see if it was a) worth the money and if it would b) make my life easier.

The short answer to both is: YES!

Listen, it’s a pretty expensive subscription ($159 a month) which is why I delayed signing up for over a year. I don’t even have a gym membership so to dedicate my money and energy to something, it has to be pretty impressive. Since I am always honest on here: I finally pulled the trigger one night after having a couple of drinks. I had been on the site earlier in the day helping a friend pick out dresses for a wedding and I saw that they were having a first month for $99 sale (they still have this btw!) so I pulled up the app on my phone and committed. I was riding the subway.

Definitely not the best time to make a big money choice, but that’s how it happened. 🙂 As soon as I signed up I was able to pick my first four items and start my magical journey through RTR Unlimited.

Me in a Cynthia Rowley Sweatshirt from RTR


If you’re unfamiliar with Rent The Runway or Rent The Runway Unlimited, here’s how it works.

Rent The Runway Reserve – This is how RTR got started and is what most people are familiar with. Most shoppers use it for important events when they want to up their game, but not break the bank. Shoppers select their dress from a literal OCEAN of dresses, go through detailed sizing notes and order. (With reserve you’re allowed to pick the same dress in a size up or down for a small, additional fee to guarantee fit.) The dress comes, the shopper can hang on to it for 4 or 8 days and return it. Most rentals fall around $100 per rental. This is how I was introduced to RTR, renting dresses for a wedding or two, and New Year’s Eve.

Rent the Runway Unlimited – Unlimited is a slightly different beast. These shoppers pay a monthly subscription fee ($159/mo as I mentioned) and have “unlimited” access to RTR’s giant selection of clothes including jeans, slacks, blazers and dresses. Shoppers get 4 at a time and can keep them for as long as they want, returning and getting new whenever. Most Unlimited users use it for work clothes as well as those special events and trendy pieces. Shipping, dry cleaning, and insurance are included always.

Me in a Derek Lam Romper from RTR


Now that you understand how Unlimited works, I’ll share a little bit with my experience so far over the past month and a half.

I have enjoyed it so much it almost makes me feel guilty I didn’t sign up previously. Seriously! I also feel like I am SAVING money this summer because with 3 weddings and various fancy work events, I would have had to use RTR Reserve a number of times, or buy dresses that end up hanging in my closet for months before being worn again.

I have used RTR Unlimited primarily for work. I cannot even begin to tell you how good it feels to pull out a brand new dress for work 2, 3, 4 times a week. I get endless compliments and I always feel really professional and put together for probably the first time in my life. And I’m 30! The clothes are from incredible brands and of incredible quality and are updated constantly so nothing I’ve received has been overused, ratty, or outdated. When I’m at work I finally feel like I’m dressing “for the job I want” and I feel fabulous at events.

What I’m saying is: RTR is a huge confidence boost. I have always loved clothes but I hate shopping, this relieves a lot of that stress. I had always heard that the right clothes can change how you feel and your outlook on life (blah blah blah) but oh my god, I am really a believer now.

Me in a Tory Burch Skirt from RTR


While I haven’t run into too many problems with RTR so far (by the way their customer service is great) I have heard of a few out there. For instance, I live in New York City, where Rent the Runway is headquartered so I get my stuff lightning fast and I also have the option of doing any last minute swapping at the store in Manhattan. For women living further away in other states, I’ve heard that the shipments can drag and it feels like you aren’t really getting your money’s worth. So beware if you are not in New York!

There are a lot of articles out there about Unlimited Hacks, like this one from Cosmo, but I’ve found that by doing it the traditional way (get 4 items, return 4 items, repeat) I am a much saner person. I only have to remember one shipment at a time instead of multiple and since they do come to me fast, I don’t ever feel cheated.

That said, my two favorite “tricks” are kind of obvious but I still feel like I should share:

  1. Heart shit like crazy.  I am constantly going through the New Arrivals page and liking stuff. I also go through different lists they’ve put together, regardless of what I have coming up. By having a massive pool of hearts, there is always something I like available to throw in for my next order. I think obsessing over a couple pieces and waiting for them to become available would drive me insane.
  2. Read the reviews! I know some of you are rolling your eyes like “DUH” but in the beginning I didn’t take the time to do this. I got a couple items that didn’t fit right and all of them could have been corrected if I had read the “size up” and “size down” notes. They really do help.


Ok! That’s it. My honest Rent the Runway Unlimited review. There are a lot of other reviews out there and I definitely recommend you read them. Some women are pickier than me or more impatient than me–which is totally fine! But if you think you’re a little bit more high strung than I am with your clothes, I’d read those reviews too. Just to be safe.




How to Eat Healthy While Traveling for Work


No shade to Women’s Running, but… I was so excited for last month’s cover story: “How to Eat Healthy While Traveling”. I really needed some new tips. Of course, I was disappointed to find that the article was one page and super generic. Stuff like: drink water, eat almonds. Definitely tricks that work in a pinch but if you’re someone who travels A LOT for work, you can’t sustain yourself off of almonds and water alone. And when you’re traveling with Celiac’s disease like I am, it can be even harder.

I often find myself in airports with incredibly few options (MIA I am looking at you and the one Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand) and I’ve come up with a REALISTIC guide to eating well when you find yourself in airport terminals all the time.

Photo by Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash


This one is a no-brainer and when I say snacks I mean SNACKS. I read a lot of posts where the author recommends you make your own salad or meals in Tupperware and bring them on board. That sounds lovely if you’re traveling on a vacation or to a house with a place to wash your dishes. But when you’re traveling for work, you are often running straight from the tarmac to a meeting. It’s stressful enough to waltz into an important meeting with your luggage, but add on an entire tote bag full of dirty tupperware? No thanks. Also my bag is usually full of documents, folders, and my laptop, which doesn’t leave much room for meals.

Instead I pack snacks that are DIVERSE and I know won’t upset my stomach. The worst thing is trying a new granola bar and then 30 minutes later fighting bloat in a cab on the way to a meeting. The worst. Always go for real ingredients and different flavor profiles. The different flavors is CLUTCH for me because I know that if I bring only fruit based bars, I am going to feel sick eating just fruit all day. Here’s a sample of what I usually pack for a typical work trip, it’s enough to cover all of my flights as I usually have no time for myself to go grocery shopping anywhere I go:

RX Bars, an Apple, Beef Jerky, Trail Mix (w/o chocolate, ok), Clif Bars, G-Free Crackers, PB packet.



The dreaded airport meal. Even the airports where I fair pretty well (JFK) it’s still not something I look forward to.

1. In airports with few options or when you are crunched for time, the best item to look for is a salad. But do your best to find a place that actually knows how to make a salad. Do not go to the Sam Adam’s Brewhouse and ask for a salad, I promise you it will be heavy and kind of gross. Instead look for small cafe’s or even the tiny Grab N Go stations. I know the salads are pre-made but most Grab N Go’s tout a commitment to vegan or organic produce so you know you’re getting pretty decent goods.

2. And while yes, I am trying to eat healthy while traveling for work, I do my best to avoid eating some usually good proteins in airports (fish, steak etc.) because of how they are prepared (though one time I did get airport sushi)… but if I need the protein I pick chicken. It’s lean and easy to tell if it’s cooked right. You don’t have to guess much with chicken.

3. that annoying person who asks for dressing on the side and side salad substitutions for fries. It seems like you’re making a big deal but you’re not. If you’re nervous about it, you can ask your server upfront if they make substitutions or changes. It’s polite and your server will be prepared to help you and you’ll be prepared to order.



Part of eating healthy while traveling for work for me is keeping my gut happy. I love gum and I love seltzer but oh my god… the BLOAT isn’t worth it. It took me forever to realize the connection between these vices and my painfully bloated tummy on a flight. High altitude can already cause bloating, don’t help it out by adding bubbles. Opt for flat water (and a ton of it!) and mints. I know they aren’t sugarfree, but honestly a little sugar is better than being so painfully blown up that you can’t eat dinner later or sit through a meeting properly.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash



Unless you have a dairy allergy, yogurt is an amazing friend. If you have a hotel mini-fridge grab extras at the hotel market (most of them have these now) and toss some in there for breakfasts and late night snacks. And if you can find yogurt at the airport — YASS! The key to eating healthy while traveling for work is making sure you are full but also getting the same key nutrients you would on a regular day. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and also contains natural probiotics that keep your digestive system on track while you travel. Gut health = your health.

Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash


Bananas have a ton of fiber and you can find them at almost any Starbucks. Did you notice that there are Starbucks literally everywhere? I hate their coffee so I am often the girl who has a banana and water and who says “No” to “Anything else?” but I am okay with that. In a rush at the airport, hotel, meeting space, whatever, I can grab a banana and know that it will help me make it to my next meal. Bonus points if you packed the PB packet like I told you to.

Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash


There are so many variables when it comes to dining out while traveling for work and sometimes the worst culprit is yourself when you’re alone. I’ll be honest and say that I have had a lot of burgers and fries in bed, (the days are long and I like burgers.) But 98% of the time I aim to keep my dinners as clean as possible. This is because dinners are typically the only time I am at rest, sitting down, and have a higher price point (meaning a better selection) on food. If I know I am going to be struggling at the airport, and during lunch in between meetings, I rely on my dinners to be the staples of my day. I think about what key vitamins and nutrients I missed and try to plug them in. If I haven’t had a leafy green all day, I’ll make sure I get a giant salad. If I haven’t had any protein, I’ll aim to get a nice piece of salmon. It isn’t ideal, and you shouldn’t typically eat a big meal before bed, but for surviving on the road, this is necessary.


The last thing I’ll say is this: do your best to maintain any and all routines while traveling for work. If you typically work out in the morning at home, work out in the morning at the hotel. If you have tea before bed while reading a book, have tea and read even just a couple of pages before bed in the hotel. I always pack face masks because I like to do them after flying. It also just makes me feel more at home. Keeping yourself as calm and happy as possible will keep your stress levels down and you much healthier.

Let me know if you have any of your own tips and if any of these were brand new to you! I am always looking to create content that is actually NEW and helpful, instead of regurgitating what you’ve already read.

What I Read in June, Booklist

According to Goodreads, I’m 7 books behind schedule for my Reading Challenge. I wanted to get through 50 books this year! While I feel pretty terrible about that I forget all the time I spend reading long form journalism, so I know my brain isn’t totally atrophying. I guess this means I will just have to spend LOTS of time on the beach with lots of books this summer to catch-up. Send me any suggestions you have… I am always looking.

BTW, you can follow my reading on Goodreads by adding me HERE.

anobr.PNG Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson

A beautifully woven story about girls becoming young women in 1970s Brooklyn. The story moves between the present and past with ease. At times I was frightened for the young women and at other times so in awe of their strength and bond of friendship. Totally enthralling and moving. And a good reminder to all writers out there that stories don’t need a beginning, middle, and end, they just need to be good stories.



Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam

I was apparently on a very intense New York City- in-summer kick without knowing it. Seriously, I picked up both these books and realized their connection only after I finished them. Bright Lines follows a Bangladeshi family through an intense year of change and secrets revealed. The most magnificent part of this story is how it handles gender fluidity and queerness in an intelligent and sensitive way. One of the best books I read this year. I couldn’t put it down.


sat  Sex and the City and Us by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

I once had the pleasure of taking a class with JKA years ago at Gotham Writers. This was just before her book Seinfeldia had hit the best sellers list. With that and my total OBSESSION with the cultural impact of Sex and the City (and my overall love of the show) this was a no brainer. I don’t buy many books anymore but I bought this one. And read it in THREE days. If you love cultural commentary and TV studies. Get thee to the bookshop.


answers The Answers by Catherine Lacey 

Well, I actually managed to get through a month only reading books by women! It wasn’t intentional but I am proud of that achievement. I picked this one up at the library based alone on the cover and intrigued by the idea of being hired as a girlfriend. The structure of this story alone hooked me as a writer, I don’t want to give it away, but there is a break in the middle of the book in POVs and it has been a most excellent lesson for me as I adventure on my own novel. If you like the melding of new age healing techniques mashed with science, give it a whirl.

Guest Post: Bravery & Finding the Power of Your Own Voice

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

I am always so grateful to be a place where people can share their stories of bravery and challenges overcome. This is why I write, this is why I maintain the blog, to get voices out there to each and everyone of you. This week Holly Zarcone tells us about the power of our own voices.


Inhale. Exhale. Scream.


That was the rudimentary thought process that I depended on that early morning. Laying abandoned in the middle of a suburban street, the chill of a summer night cut through the open wounds that now decorated my once smooth twenty year old legs and shoulder. The darkness closed in around me, just a few porch lights twinkling in my periphery. Exhausted and in shock I wondered if I would be found. The street was eerie quiet, a complete contrast to just two hours earlier. Both the sounds of the revelry and the guests whom had partaken in said revelry were now gone. The fear of headlights coming towards me flashed in my mind, followed shortly by the eviscerating reminder of the image of tail lights that had just left me. Not once did I see the crimson glow of a pause or even a second thought resulting in a touch to a brake pedal.

Inhale. Exhale. Scream.

I was terrified, but I was saved. The same power behind my lungs, vocal cords, and lips that had gotten me into trouble for years finally saved me. My entire life people were telling me to be quiet and not to speak so loudly. I often wonder that if I hadn’t been so scared would I have enjoyed those moments of screaming, my jaw practically unhinged and my voice echoing. I had done it. My people found me. My best friend carried me, bloody and broken, into the house. Parents were called, a quick dash to the ER was made.

People called me brave. Brave? I am not entirely sure that following basic survival instincts classifies you as brave. I wasn’t then and I still, years later, cannot commit myself to that idea. It was in those following months which were doused in heartbreak, depression, and physician prescribed opioids that I believe my courage truly formed. Courage formed under the influence of incantations of “It will be over soon.” , “It will get better.”, and “Stay strong.” It formed while my father had to hold me down so that my mother could scrub my wounds three times a day as I sobbed through the intake of sharp breaths and stabbing pain.

Inhale. Exhale. Scream.

There is a halo of fog that surrounds the period of time in my life immediately after my accident. There were police officers, insurance interviewers, and daily wound care. There were moments I was in so much pain that I would squeeze my eyes shut until I saw a white burning light. I would go over the facts of what I remembered from that night in my head. Constantly reliving the sequence of events that led directly up to the exact moment my body collided with asphalt. I could practically feel my grip on the plastic and metal as I had clung to the side of the car as he was behind the wheel.

I would make myself crazy trying to decide if it was my fault. I would wrestle with my own psyche, trying to see if there would ever be a way back to the safe space that had been. There was a time that it had been just us; two kids reunited and swaddled in mutual grief and nostalgia. We had never fought, we had never bickered, and it had never felt unsafe – Until it did. It is an odd thing to have such a break in a relationship, that it is cut off so clean while everything surrounding that break is in ruins. I remember thinking that it felt like I had been killed and ended up in a parallel universe where everything was the same, but not.

Eventually, the fog started to lift. I was taken off of the pain management medications entirely and my body healed. Everyone started to look at me like I should be going right back to the regularly scheduled programming. The interesting thing about being cooped up in recovery is that the entire time you want to escape, but when you finally get the all clear, it can actually be quite scary to take the next step. Just getting back to the basics of driving my car was a frightening task. I had to start over entirely; I moved out of my parents house and into a new place with a friend, I was hired into two new jobs, and I eventually opened up to the idea of dating again.

There are no words for the myriad of poor choices and changes that went on within that following year. It took ages for me to me to truly become comfortable with my body and the few scars that remained. I do think though that the most difficult task I encountered was finding the patience, trust, and desire to have something more than a superfluous relationship with someone…So I didn’t. Instead of seeking something with someone else, I looked inward and fell into a deep and fast romance with myself. For an entire year I took the focus off of finding someone else and travelled, worked, played, and genuinely enjoyed life. I made my own safe place…I grew a voice again. I spoke loudly.

There are moments in this life that will break you. You will feel like you cannot go on, and you will feel compelled to give in. Don’t. I implore you instead to assess your position, determine the imminent dangers. Make a decision; and be it bravery or be it basic survival instincts, please open your mouth and force the help you need to arrive. Create urgency, send out an SOS. Use everything you have in order to be saved. Use the entire power behind your lungs, vocal cords, and lips.

Inhale. Exhale. Scream.



Holly Nichole Zarcone lives on Long Island with her husband, three children, and enormous Saint Bernard. She enjoys going on adventures on land, in the sea, and through pages. She is a freelance writer and blogger. Most recently she self published her first children’s book, Cookies For Dinner, which you can find for purchase on
Amazon. You can contact her at

Instagram: @mrs.HollyNichole
Facebook: @HollyNicholeZarcone
Twitter: @MrsHollyNichole