Friday, March 28, 2014

Book review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

I'm not sure I should write a review on this book. I try to only write reviews on books I recommend or that were just weird enough that you might see it and wonder is that any good? and I can tell you whether it was or not (like Candy Girl). I didn't loove Code Name Verity, and it isn't in that second category either. 

But I think, if you like historical fiction a lot, and if you like books with strong ladies leading, this might be up your alley.

Code Name Verity tells the story of two women swept up into WWII. In a time when everyone was serving their country, these two friends found ways to serve that used their unique talents in positions that were typically given to men.

I was pretty bored the first half of the book, to be honest. But about a third of the way in, or maybe even halfway through, it hits you with a twist -- and that twist was pretty great. It kept me reading for the rest of the book.

What got me through the first half is how real and strong and beautiful and wonderful the characters are. Maddie and Queenie are amazing female characters because they are strong in a kick-ass kind of way, but also in a very real way where you get to see their struggles and fears. They're not just kick-ass, they're vulnerable too. They also have a super strong relationship that is not based on talking about boys or romance -- there is very little (if any?) romance in this book. Code Name Verity is a wonderful depiction of to female friends and their challenges and victories in the awful circumstance of a world war.

There are other characters, too, and I loved them, too. I love Queenie's brother, Jamie, and her whole family. The way these girls entwine in each others lives and how you get to know them as they get to know each other (if that makes sense) was a really life-like portrayal of new friendship becoming best friendship, and I loved that aspect too.

So. Since I was bored for a good portion of this book, I'm not sure I can recommend it without reservation. But there was definitely a lot to love in this book, too.

Have any of you read Code Name Verity? What did you think?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Birthday weekend!

Hi friends!

I turned 25 last weekend! Wooooo! I'm old! I decided to visit home over my birthday, and had a great weekend!

Saturday morning I ran a 10k. I wasn't going for a PR as I'd just done a long run the day before for marathon training, but I made it in 1:04:02 , which is only about a minute and a half slower than my PR for this distance. So I'll take it!
(In other running news, the fact that I was able to run this so fast-for-me makes me think I'm doing something wrong with my long runs -- walking too much or taking it too easy. Going to work on eating more so maybe I'll have more energy to run them better. Any tips from seasoned pros?)
Later that day I saw Divergent with my bff from high school, Meleah, and her bro and husband and my sister and her bf. Got all that? I was a dummy and didn't take any pics with Anna, my sister, but Meleah's husband took a bunch of pictures of me and Meleah when we weren't ready yet. (14 in all!) I think they show our relationship pretty well!

I told Meleah I have more pictures with her than any of my friends because she always remembers to take a picture! Unfortunately, all the recent ones pretty much look just like this -- haha. Very posed and on purpose. So I kind of love the extra ones Ricardo took!
At home, my mom made me a cake! Anna decorated it. Isn't it lovely? (The candles are in an A shape.)
Other highlights from the weekend include spending time with this little furry face and my other pets and getting to see one of my bffs from college, Layne, and her girlfriend for lunch. :) It made for a couple really happy days!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes on Instagram and Twitter! They made me smile all day long :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trip to Denver!



I'm really behind on blogging, huh?

But I want to tell you about my trip to see Pat! Let's pretend it wasn't already three weeks ago...

Before Pat moved to Denver for his 12-week internship, I bugged him about me being able to visit. They'd told him he could be working up to 80 hours a week, though, so he knew he'd be really busy. He'd say, You can come visit, but I might not have time to see you.

Well then.

But then one of my coworkers found a good deal on flights between Kansas City and Denver. And I couldn't find the good deal myself but it put the idea in Pat's head and then we bought my tickets and then I was off to see Pat!

It was a quick trip -- I got in Friday night and was supposed to leave Monday morning. But it was soo great to visit him and see where he's living and his life for the past many weeks.

Enough talk. Here's some pictures! We went hiking both days I was there, so all my pics are from that. :)

It was a wonderful trip, and I'm so glad I got to go!

Have any of you been to Denver before? Any tips for the next time I'm out there? We didn't venture into the city much (or at all) -- maybe next trip!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book review: How to Be a Woman

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

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

Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?

Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women's lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it's about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.

This was one of the books I got through my local library's Blind Date with a Book program last month. Funny, I don't think it quite worked out -- I was hoping to pick up something I'd never otherwise pick up, but apparently I already wanted to read this one as it was on my Goodreads to-read list! Still, it may have taken me months to get there without the Blind Date.


My first thought is that this book is not for the faint of heart / squeamish. Which you wouldn't think gong in. Moran chronicles her rise to feminism through detailing her personal history -- stories which include starting her period and figuring out what to call her genitals in conversation. The first couple chapters are pretty blunt, I guess. So know that going in.

Also, there's a graphic chapter about abortion. So, you can just skip that, too. I wish I had been warned.

ALL THAT BEING SAID: Moran has a great way of taking Feminism with a capital F and making it seem normal. (Which I personally think it is, or should be.) My generation has been known to have a negative image of Feminism -- angry women who hate men and are out to get them. Basically.

But Moran has simpler ways of looking at feminism and women's rights. One piece, which I loved, is if something feels funny, ask yourself -- are the men doing this? (whatever this is -- shaving, feeling compelled to expose lots of skin, etc. etc.) If the dudes don't feel compelled to do whatever it is and the ladies do, that's a pretty great sign something shady is going down.

All in all, I think this was a great way to contextualize some of the daily battles still left for women. If you can make it through the initial chapters about periods and anatomy, and if you skip the abortion chapter, it's a pretty good read.

Have any of you read How to Be a Woman? What did you think?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sometimes I'm anxious

A lot of my family has issues with anxiety. Lately it's been hitting me more than ever. (Maybe has to do with Pat being gone + busy work life + busy school life + bad dentist visits + job searching? MAYbe?) Here's what it looks like for me.

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
I procrastinate. I fall into an internet wormhole and don't look back until I'm so deep I can't see the sun anymore. I waste much of my day on websites that don't mean anything to me and things that don't matter and then panic when I have not done the Things That Need To Be Done.

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
I eat because I know it will make me feel better, even if later it will make me feel worse.

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
I just try to tackle one thing. ONE THING that I'm anxious about. Whether it's done well or not (and usually, in this situation, I think it's not...), it's DONE and I can be done being anxious about it. Unless...

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
I worry about all the what ifs. What if I didn't get that part just right? What if they hate it? What if they read it wrong? What if they can tell I have SO MUCH ANXIETY about this and know I procrastinated 50 years before sending that email? What if they're pissed it took me so long? What if they send an angry email back?

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
it feels dizzying, exhausting, and I get sick to my stomach.

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
the room gets warmer and I can't breathe and I end up thinking I might have a panic attack, and once I think that, I'm practically guaranteed to have a panic attack so I rush outside or to the bathroom and try to breathe deeper, breathe slower, convince myself that breathing is easy and normal and I can do it.

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
I can pinpoint a source of that anxiety, know what's happening and why and just get it over with so that I can feel better.

Sometimes when I'm anxious...
I don't know what's making me anxious. There might not be a "why." It's just a big ball of dread in my stomach that I can't stop.


I think the biggest misconception about anxiety is that there's a cause you can pinpoint, one thing that you can do and get it over with and then the anxiety will go away. Honestly, that's the kind of anxiety I hope for when I start feeling anxious, because if it is that, I can fix it. But sometimes, you think it's that and then you send that email or have that conversation and you realize, nope, that wasn't it, and you're left looking for the cause still.

But I'm not sure there always is a cause. I think sometimes it's just everything. I get overstimulated and need to retreat. And maybe my anxiety is my overstimulation, maybe it's when I've had TOO MUCH and need to get away. But I can't always do that. That's life. So I'm learning to deal.

Do any of you suffer from anxiety? How do you deal?


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