Friday, February 28, 2014

Book review: Allegiant

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads! Because this book is a sequel, it will naturally contain some spoilers for the first two books (reviewed here and here). Reader beware!

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

I'm not sure this will be much of a book review -- I only have a few non-spoilery things to say. But I do want to post about it because I've been dying to talk to other people who have read it, so let me know if you have!!

There were a few things I loved about Allegiant. Through this book, you get to learn a lot more about Tris's family, especially her mom. I loved seeing Tris kind of realize that her mother was more than just a mom -- that she had a life outside of being a mother to Tris and Caleb. And that her mother had more to her than just Abnegation teachings. This part of the novel was just so honest and real to me.

I also loved the further development between Tobias and Tris, as well as between each of these characters and other friends, like Christina. Again, I thought Roth handled the relationships really truthfully -- not smoothing over hard things too easily and really letting the characters work through all that they've been through together.

That being said -- a LOT of fans are unhappy about the way the series ends. I think most of the unhappiness comes from one particular scene near the end (if you've read it, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). Personally, that scene is one of the few revelations I don't have a problem with. There was a lot in the plot of this book that I didn't like very much -- I felt like I'd been tricked sometimes. But I think when I was feeling that, that's what the characters were feeling, too. So maybe it's well done, and I just don't like it. Ha. There's a few more things I didn't like, so if you have read this one, let me know!!

Overall, I enjoyed the characters and their development, but I can't say I love where the series went in the third book. I still recommend the series -- it starts out incredible, and every reader I've talked to has reacted differently. It evokes strong reactions! So give it a try if you like dystopians. It's definitely worth a read!

All right, so who out there has read this one? What did you think? Be careful of spoilers in the comments -- I'll answer via email so we can talk without fear of spoilers!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why I'm just like Ryan from The Office

I found this fun little over survey at follow your arrow. :) Perfect for a day when you don't want to do anything, right? Let's pretend it's still the weekend and we're just hanging out.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
- Softball/baseball/basketball concession stand worker in high school
- Summer day camp counselor for ages 6-12 years old for three summers
- Advertising/social media editor for about nine months after I got my first degrees
- Temp! I was a temp for a company that manufactures medical devices for about four months after I graduated undergrad.

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
- Love Actually
- Up!
- You've Got Mail
- The Indiana Jones movies (mostly the first and third... I don't like the second much)

Four places I’ve lived:
- Jacksonville, New Jersey
- Springfield, Missouri
- Decatur, Illinois
- Lawrence, Kansas

Four TV shows I watch:
- Big Bang Theory
- Almost Human
- How I Met Your Mother
- Bones

Four places I have been (I chose some of my favorites:):
- The Lake District in England
- The Globe Theater in London
- Crater Lake in Oregon
- Loch Ness and the Highlands in Scotland

Four favorite foods:
- Pasta
- Broccoli
- Cheese
- Ice cream

Four places I’d rather be right now:
- On a beach somewhere lovely and warm
... that's all.

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
- Graduating! (again)
- Climbing Mt. St. Helen's
- Running some good races
- Getting a big kid job

Your turn! Answer one of these in the comments! Go!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Real talk: Weight management

I've been gaining weight.

I think it's a combination of marathon training (EAT ALL THE THINGS.) plus stress eating because of school and job searching PLUS my boyfriend is gone for 12 weeks and I'm sad eating.

So. I've been gaining weight. Or, more accurately, I gained some weight and I can't get it back off.

If you've been around for a while, you might know that I lost 20 pounds in the first year-ish that I had this blog. I wasn't quite where I wanted to be yet, but I maintained that until this winter. It's not about the number on the scale, exactly. That's there, too. But today my ring got stuck on my finger. And my pants aren't fitting like they should.

So I'm trying to go back on the wagon of paying attention to what I'm eating, because eating all the things is always my real trouble. I definitely exercise lots. Just need to eat better.

And I'm putting it here to hold myself accountable. I'm trying to use MyFitnessPal again. If we were friends on there once, we're probably not friends anymore because in a fit of frustration a while back I deleted all my friends... So if you'd like to add me, I'm aestrusz on MyFitnessPal.

More accountability is good, right?

Love from Kansas!

EDIT: I think this post came out more about the scale than I meant it too. When I think about marathon training and the changes I'm forcing on my body -- I EXPECTED the numbers to change. But I know that it's more than that since my clothes aren't fitting right and my rings are getting stuck on my fingers. It's more than just muscle or weight that I should gain during training. Just, FYI.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Did the girls in your school go CRAZY for the Spice Girls?

When I was in fourth-ish grade (don't remember quite for sure) the Spice Girls were everything. Our school talent show was bursting with girls performing dances to their songs or singing or lip synching and dancing. Everything was girl power and if you had the movie Spice World you were practically required to bring it to every sleepover so we could watch it four times in one night.

Girls also began hanging out in five-person clumps at recess. You each claimed one of the Spice Girls and you became that Spice Girl.

I was the last member recruited to my group, so I had no choice.

I became Posh Spice. Which would not have been my first choice. But at least I was a Spice Girl.

Now, many years later, Buzzfeed has finally given me the real answer.

I am Scary Spice. Hear me roar.

Have you guys taken the quiz? I've currently got openings for four Spice Girls to join my club. We'll hang out at recess, meet by the flag pole, and create synchronized dances to Spice Girls songs.

Who's in?? (Other Scary Spices need not apply.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Book review: Golden

Golden by Jessi Kirby

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

I've read both of Kirby's other books (reviewed here and here) and liked both of them. Kirby is great at characters and at giving you feelings. I've been hearing great things about Golden since it came out and finally read it on my second snow day last week!

Golden is a short book (277 pages) and a super quick read. I picked it up in the afternoon and finished it in the evening. The story is maybe a bit predictable, but I still had to keep reading. I got attached to the characters, just like in Kirby's other books, and had to know what would happen!

There are a lot of really well-written, beautiful passages in this book. The major theme is about figuring out who you are and fighting to become that person -- and even though the main character is a teenager, I think these are battles most people fight their whole lives. There's also some pretty bits about love. I intend to read it again and take down some of my favorite quotes, because I know there are a lot in here I loved.

Golden is a book that will make you think -- but not too hard. It's a great airplane book, a good book for a lazy weekend, and was a perfect snow day book.

Have any of you read Golden? What did you think?

Monday, February 10, 2014

My blind dates

So I went on a couple blind dates this weekend...

with books!

The Lawrence Public Library does this neat program around Valentine's Day where you can pick books based on these short descriptions. I LOVE this idea! I tend to get in ruts where I read lots of the same thing -- mostly young adult contemporary and fantasy fiction, and mostly books written with a female audience in mind. So I was super excited to get a new "date" outside of what I'd typically pick!

The first one, recommended by Jeni, was described as "Feminist, Hilarious, and Brash." I started it Friday, and having only read the preface and the first chapter, it's already proved to be all those things! (And maybe a little bit more crass than I expected...)

It turned out to be How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran!

I haven't started the second one yet, but it was picked by Sean and includes "Revenge, Class Warfare and Teleportation."

This one is The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester!

I've not included descriptions so, if you want, you can have a blind date with these books too! We'll both go in knowing very little about these books and see what we think!

Since posting on Twitter about my blind dates, I've heard from friends + family that their libraries have this program too! Isn't this so neat?

Would you ever go on a blind date with a book? I'm excited to keep reading these two!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Things I'm loving Friday [2.7.14]

Hey friends!

I have been in a bit of a negative mood, for reasons I may go into later (or that you may have noticed on Twitter). So I think it's a great time to focus on the positive, yes? Some of my favorite blogs post either things they're loving or things they're thankful for at the end of the week (here and here for examples!), so I thought that might be a good bad-mood buster this morning.

You guys. I started this book on Wednesday... and finished it Wednesday. It's only 277 pages, so it's a really quick read, but totally fun to get into and has some really beautiful language. I think I'll be re-reading at a slower pace.

I don't have cable in my bedroom. Pat took his nice TV with him to Denver, but I have an old one that can play tapes and DVDs. So, with my two snow days this week, I busted out my old VHS of Beauty and the Beast and Hercules. I still have a couple more, too.


I got to see this beautiful lady (who you might recognize from Orange is the New Black) speak on campus last night and she was wonderful. So funny and well spoken and crazy smart. So glad I got to hear her speak! Have any of you watched Orange is the New Black?
Image from Netflix via here

I would be even more on the struggle bus today if Kate and Tamara didn't talk me down. Thanks, guys.

What are you loving this week?


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