What I Read: January 2014

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Instead of doing this every other month, I’ve decided to do these mini book review posts monthly. I think it will be better because you’ll get recommendations more often and it will be easier for me to remember the details of each book. January was a bit of a strange reading month for me because I started six books, but only finished four. More on that later!


About- Set in a futuristic London, it’s about a girl with clairvoyant abilities whose very existence is considered a crime.

Why I picked it– After Divergent, I was on a major YA dystopian novel kick.

Grade B I like this book, but I think it could have been better executed. The premise is interesting, but the author spends so much time explaining certain aspects of this world she’s created. Everything has it’s own term and it’s a lot to keep track of. Sometimes I was so bogged down by jargon and information- I just wanted to get back to the plot. That said, the author is pretty young and perhaps by the next book she will have refined her writing style a bit. This is supposed to be the first of a seven-book series, so I probably will pick up the next one if/when it comes out.


About- Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and attempting to settle back into civilian life.

Why I picked it– We had a little poll of favorite books read in 2013 at my workplace and this book won, so I knew I had to check it out.

Grade A+ If you follow along with these book posts, you’ll know that I don’t often read nonfiction. However, I heard such good things about this book that I had to read it. It’s great, really and truly great. It’s also heartbreaking and eyeopening. The soldiers who are the subjects of this book suffer from severe psychological trauma and have a lot of difficulty adjusting to life after war. In many cases, the author talked to both the soldiers and their family/friends and described the experience of the returning soldiers from those different perspectives. It’s stories about people’s lives, which is why I didn’t mind so much that it was nonfiction. Ugh, this book is so good and also depressing, so if that’s your thing, this book is for you.


About- I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the main character has to deal with death, as well as attempt to save her city from civil war.

Why I picked it– I read Divergent in December, so Insurgent was up next.

Grade B Hmmm, I didn’t like this one as much as Divergent. I found the main character, Tris, more annoying in this installment. Maybe the first book was more interesting because it introduced all of these new ideas, and the second book plateaus a bit. I’m still interested to see how the series ends and I’ve just started the final book, Allegiant.


About- An ex-military man leads a quiet life until one night when he bumps into a young girl who’s running away from something that terrifies her.

Why I picked it– The publisher sent me a free copy and it sounded interesting, so I downloaded it and started reading.

Grade A- I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and thrilling read- the action starts almost immediately and doesn’t really stop until the end. As you find out more information about the girl he runs into, you may think you know where it’s headed, but there was a twist in the last third of the book that totally surprised me. This book made me think of the movie, Taken. I think Liam Neeson could totally play the main character of this novel.

I mentioned above that there are two books that I started this month that but haven’t finished yet. This is unusual for me because typically I only read one book at a time. I like to be fully immersed in one story before I move on to the next one. One of the books I haven’t finished is White Girls by Hilton Als. I’m reading this for book club and I’ve found his writing style really difficult to get into. I’ve read about fifty pages so far, but I’m drawn to reading other books that I find much more interesting.

The other book I haven’t finished yet is The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. I’ve never been a huge fan of audiobooks, but I decided to give them another try this month. I downloaded the audiobook version of this title and started listening to it, but I still don’t like it. I’m not sure whether it’s the narrator’s voice or the pacing, but I’d just prefer to read it on my own. Now I’m waiting for the ebook version to become available at the library and then I think I’m going to start this one over. So far I have nothing against the story, it was just the format that I didn’t like!

Tell me: Do you usually read one book or several books at a time? How do you feel about audiobooks?

Disclaimer: Runner was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions about the book.

Beauty Fave: Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm

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Today I wanted to share one of my new favorite beauty buys, Revlon’s ColorBurst Matte Balm in Standout. I think these have been out for a couple of months now, but I just discovered them in December when I was home in California. I spotted the display in the beauty aisle during one of my many trips to Target (I certainly took advantage while I was home- I went five times in one week!).

I’d been meaning to try the Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain, but instead I grabbed this new matte balm. Since my lips are big, I think that anything that’s too glossy can be a bit much on me. I gravitate towards lip products with a matte finish and I usually I don’t go for anything shimmery or glittery.

love this matte balm. First of all, it’s easy to apply and I can get great color with just a few swipes. It doesn’t dry out my lips and there’s just a hint of minty tingle when it’s first applied, which I like. I’ve found that it lasts about 2-3 hours on me and it fades nicely. If you prefer a glossier finish, you could also try their new ColorBurst Lacquer Balm.

Tell me: Have you tried any of Revlon’s lip balms?

Black & Gold

all black, monotone, tall black boots, all black outfit, new york all black outfit

Thank you all for your well wishes in Friday’s post. I’m happy to say that I’m finally starting to feel better. After a week of feeling generally crummy, I knew I was on the upswing when I regained the desire to paint my nails!

I had a pretty low-key weekend, mostly involving sleep, reading and drinking lots of tea in bed. I received a free galley of a book called Runner by Patrick Lee and I finished it over the weekend. It was a pretty fun read- action-packed and full of twists. Next on my list is Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy. After that I must get my hands on a copy of The Goldfinch. I’ve been dying to read it and everyone says it’s amazing. I’m thinking of doing a book post later this week, so look out for that!

On Saturday evening I went to Rouge et Blanc for my friend’s birthday dinner. Their menu blends French and Vietnamese cuisine and the food I ordered was pretty tasty. A friend and I split the Hanoi Fried Chicken, which was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and which paired really well with the spicy pickles that it was served on top of.

Sunday morning I woke up and tidied up my room a bit. I also whipped up a batch of banana bread muffins and finally tackled a pile of magazines that I’d been putting off. In the evening the roomie and I settled in to watch the Grammys. Beyonce and Jay-Z, will you please adopt me?

all black, monotone, tall black boots, all black outfit, new york all black outfit

I’m loving the gold cap toe on these boots. I needed a new part of tall boots and at first I thought the metallic toes would be a bit much for everyday wear, but consider me converted. They’re the perfect little detail to keep this all black outfit from being boring. I wanted to play off the gold on my feet and layer on more gold accessories, including the adorable hashtag necklace that Alex gave me for Christmas. That necklace is way too cute and so blogger appropriate. In fact, Alex coined a new term for it- #bloggerbling.

gold necklaces, hashtage necklace, arrow necklace, forever 21 necklace, c. wonder necklace

Outfit Details: Sweater- Joe Fresh // Jeans– American Eagle // Delicate Hashtag Necklace– C. Wonder (gift from Alex) // Arrow Necklace- Forever 21 // Blue Suede Shoes Metallic Toe-Cap Boot c/o Aeropostale // iPhone case- Madewell // Lips- Mirenesse Glossy Kiss in #2 Flirty Kiss // photos- Delayed Missives