Book Reviews: January 2015

burial rites review, annihilation review, the martian review, andy weir, hannah kent

I kind of dedicated January to the books that I really wanted to read in 2014, but didn’t get around to. Thankfully, these hyped-up books didn’t disappoint. Also, can we take a second to admire how awesome all of these covers are? Ok, now let’s get into it!

Burial-Rites I’ve wanted to read this book since it was released in 2013. The plot sounded very interesting and I’d only read/heard positive reviews. It’s the story of a woman named Agnes who is charged with murder and was one of the last people to be beheaded in Iceland. It’s based on true events and you can tell that the Author really did her research. I thought that Agnes’s story is so fascinating because it demonstrates how much other people’s perceptions of you can really affect you.

Bit by bit, Agnes reveals what truly happened on the night of the murders and it’s a sad and lonely tale. I thought the writing was beautiful- descriptive, but also sparse when it needed to be. The author does a great job of evoking the bleak setting in Iceland. I’ve never really thought about visiting Iceland before, but this book made me want to do so. I really felt for Agnes and the ending tugged at my heart. If you like historical fiction, I’d highly recommend this book, and I also think the setting makes it a great winter read.

Annihilation Sci-fi isn’t a genre that I usually pick up, but this book kept popping up on my radar and I was curious. In Annihilation, there’s a mysterious part of the country called Area X. The story is told from the perspective of a biologist who’s part of the 12th expedition sent to explore Area X. The previous expeditions haven’t gone so well and you can probably guess that this one doesn’t end well either. I’m zipping my lips now, because the less you know about this one, the better.

My favorite part of this was definitely the writing. It was wonderfully strange and perfect at creating a weird, unsettled feeling. This book is the first in a trilogy and I do think I’ll read the remaining books at some point. I thought Annihilation was different in a good way. If you’re like me and you don’t read a lot of sci-fi, I’d be really curious to know your thoughts if you’ve read this book.

The-Martian Yes, I did read two sci-fi books this month! It was nearly three, but I’m still waiting for my library hold on Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This was another popular book in 2014 and I wanted to read it before the movie came out later this year.

The main character, Mark, is part of a US space mission to Mars. After only a few days on the planet, the astronauts experience a terrible storm (way more serious than Juno). Mark is wounded during the storm and the rest of the team believes he’s dead, so they evacuate. Welp, turns out he isn’t dead! Throughout the book, Mark has to figure out how to stay alive on Mars.

Mark is a definitely a wise guy- he’s constantly cracking jokes. A lot of the book consists of entries from his log, which makes the story very personable. I didn’t really know it was humorous, so that was a fun surprise. I’d call this very accessible sci-fi. It was pretty easy to digest and it was fun to follow along with the twists and turns. I think this will translate really well as a movie, although I picture Chris Pratt in the role of Mark, rather than Matt Damon.

The parts that didn’t hold my attention as much were the science bits. Occasionally, Mark would go into a detailed description of a scientific process and I’d be like, “Ehhhh…” I wasn’t bored per se, just not as interested as I was in the more personal aspects. However, if you don’t really read science fiction but you want to try, I think this would be a good book to pick. Overall, I thought it was very engaging and entertaining.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe: Lessons Learned

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I know what you’re thinking… we’re well into winter now. However, I never did a wrap-up about my fall capsule wardrobe experience and I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging. For a few reasons, I decided not to do an official winter capsule wardrobe. I am still wearing most of the pieces from my fall capsule though and I’ve pulled a few other clothing items that I already had in my closet. I’m really glad I tried doing a capsule wardrobe and it taught me a few things:

I can live on a pared-down closet. Like many people, I have way too many clothes. I have items that I barely wear, yet I still feel like I need them. One of my fears when I started is that I would get bored immediately, that didn’t happen. I mean, by the end of December, I was ready to switch things up a bit, but I think switching out one or two pieces would have satisfied that.

– I don’t have to shop constantly. I was so bad at this in college. I was either ordering something online or blowing lots of money at the mall (yikes). I thought it would be difficult not to shop while I was doing my capsule, but honestly, I was a bit tired of shopping. At the beginning, I was so gung-ho about getting everything ready for my capsule that I kind of shopped myself out (my sister can confirm this). By the time I was done shopping for the capsule, I was ready to take a break.

– I have an even better idea of what I really like. There were a couple pieces I included in the capsule because I thought I should, but I barely wore them (I’m talking about the white shirt and the blazer). I’m not saying these pieces aren’t useful, but they weren’t the ones I reached for. Instead, I wore some of the items constantly, namely my Madewell sweatshirt and my black sneakers. This experience has taught me to stick with clothes that I really love, not just items that I think should be a part of my wardrobe.

– I need to pay more attention to shoes. Since I’ve started to gravitate towards simple, understated outfits, I’ve realized that shoes can really make or break an outfit. I need more shoes like my sneakers: comfortable, classic with a bit of twist, and versatile. I don’t need a lot of shoes, but the few I have should be awesome. Also, now that it’s winter, I should probably get a pair of weather-appropriate boots…

– It pays to think about how well each item fits into your closet. I spent so much time planning out my fall capsule- thinking about the colors and textures and versatility. And you know what? It paid off. Getting dressed in the morning was easier because I had a set number of clothes to choose from and most things mixed very well together. You know that rule about picturing three different outfits before you buy a new item of clothing? I think it’s a really useful thing to consider. There are still some duds in my closet that I need to get rid of, but now that I have a base of items that I love, I really want to think about how any new piece of clothing will fit in.

Well, I suppose that concludes things for my fall capsule wardrobe series! I hope you enjoyed following along with this process and that you found it interesting. If you have any questions or if you want to tell me about your capsule wardrobe experiences, please do so in the comments below!

(image via)

Borrowed from the Boys

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Most of these clothes look like they could have come from my little brothers’ closet, but I don’t mind because this outfit was so darn comfortable. Last year I fully embraced sneakers and now I wear my black pair on the regular. I also finally tracked down a plain black beanie. It was a little bit harder to find than you’d think! Most of the ones I saw had some sort of phrase on them or were surprisingly overpriced.

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When I’m wearing a more masculine look like this one, I like to add some feminine touches for balance. I got a curling wand over the holiday break and I’ve been having fun playing around with it. It makes it so easy to curl my hair, which is great for someone as lazy as I am.

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It was another quiet weekend for me. I’ve been spending most of my weekends in this month in an attempt to save money. Sometimes it sucks a little, but I don’t mind too much because my introvert self is happiest when I have an extended amount of alone time. Plus, if I really do want to work on my resolution of getting my finances in order, I had to cut back. Instead of going out, I picked up some knitting, worked on a video for my youtube channel, and sat down to write a letter. Let me know if you did anything fun this weekend and I’ll live vicariously through you!

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Outfit Details: Old Navy plaid shirtAmerican Eagle hi-rise jeggings, black sneakers c/o Aeropostale, ribbed beanie c/o Boohoo | Lips- NARS Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte | photos- my sister

L-O-V-E

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To fall in love, do this. That’s the name of a New York Times article that’s been making the rounds for the past couple of weeks. I first heard about the article on Hallie’s blog. It’s so interesting! The basic idea is that a psychologist performed a study where he discovered that he could cause two strangers to fall in love by having them answer a set of 36 personal questions.

The questions are broken up into 3 sets and the questions become more personal/intimate as you progress. Once you’re done answering the questions, you’re supposed to stare into the other person’s eyes for a period of four minutes. Answering these questions and maintaining eye contact creates an accelerated form of intimacy between the two people and a few of the couples in the study did, in fact, fall in love and get married.

Hallie answered a few of these questions on her blog and left an open call at the end of her post, so I thought it would be fun to answer a few of the questions too. I picked nine of the questions- three from each set. Hopefully you’ll get to know me a little better through these answers. Who knows? We might just fall in love…

Would you like to be famous? In what way? When I was younger, I thought it would be awesome to be famous. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Beyoncé for a day? Now that I’m older and have realized that I’m definitely an introvert, I know there’s no way I could handle being famous. I value my privacy too much. Of course, I do have this little old blog where I share personal tidbits with total strangers… (Side note: Someone once asked me how I’m able to share personal stuff online and I couldn’t explain it very well at the time. I think it boils down to the fact that it’s much easier for me to write about my feelings and share them at a distance, than talk it over in person with someone).

Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? No, not really. I’ve been in the “real world” for years now but telephone calls at work still make me a tiny bit nervous. I don’t think you can hear it in my voice, but when the phone rings I’m like, “Why are you calling me? Don’t you have email??”

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? I’m pretty sure I’d pick the mind. I recently watched The Theory of Everything and it was rather inspiring. Stephen Hawking was limited by his body in so many ways, but he was still able to do incredible things with his mind.

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? Here’s what I’d ask the crystal ball: Will I fall in love? Will I ever figure “it” out? Where will my siblings and I be in 20 years?

What do you value most in a friendship? Someone who I can just be myself with. When I hang out with my closest friends, I don’t have to be “on” and I don’t have to worry about friendship politics. We can just be.

If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why? Yikes, I’d change a bunch of things. I know that I’m not living my life to the fullest right now (probably not even up to 50%), so I’d stop settling in many aspects of my life and just do what I wanna do.

If you were going to become a close friend with your partner readers, please share what would be important for him or her to know. Give me donuts and we’ll be friends forever. Beyoncé is everything. I do not eat cheese- you must be able to wrap your head around this (You don’t even know how many friendships I’ve lost over this. Just kidding).

When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? Hmmm, I can’t quite remember. Possibly when I found out my little brother had been in a car accident. The last time I cried by myself was last weekend when I watched 12 Years a Slave (that movie wrecked me).

Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why? I’d like to say my books, but in reality I’d probably try and grab all of the major electronics- computer, iPhone, camera.

If you read that article, I’d love to know what you think about the concept. Also, if you decide to write a post about this, link back here and to Hallie’s post so we can read your answers! (If you need to know how to fall out of love, read this humorous New Yorker post).