Month: February 2015

Product review: Monat Global Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive

(Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for testing purposes; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Monat Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive

What it is: Monat Global Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive, a natural oil blend designed to nourish the scalp and alleviate hair thinning and damage while adding body and shine, without the harmful effects of synthetic ingredients like silicone. Also suitable for use on the skin. $99/1-fl. oz. through the Monat website.

Ingredients: Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Seed Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Adansonia Digitata Oil, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Caryocar Brasiliense Fruit Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil.

What it does: If you had told me a few years ago that I would one day slather natural oils on my skin and in my hair, I would have laughed at you. But now what sounds like a hippie concept (and an invitation to greasy strands and breakouts) is actually my go-to choice for keeping my skin and hair healthy. Natural oil blends add moisture and repair damage without harmful, animal-tested or animal-sourced synthetics, and many oil blends–like this one–are multi-purpose, suitable for use on the hair, skin and nails.

This oil has a very faint natural scent and absorbs quickly, and I like the glass dropper/pump combo style of the bottle. (I find this is the easiest way to use oils on the scalp without making a mess.) A little goes a long way, especially on the hair. This is great as a pre-shampoo scalp treatment, and if you had thicker hair, you could also use it on the ends post-shower to protect them from heat damage and add silkiness. I think that with steady use you would definitely see stronger hair; I can see a small change but I’ve also only been using it a couple of times a week, on the days I shampoo. Massaged into the cuticles, it softens and strengthens, and it’s also nice on dry, rough patches on the hands and feet.

As much as I love this product, though, I can’t bring myself to justify the price. It’s way too far out of my budget range, especially with the husband back in school. Unfortunately that makes it a no-buy for me.

Find Monat on social media: @MONATOfficial on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Do you have any natural oil products that you can’t live without? Any natural products that you once thought you’d never embrace? Tell me about them!

 

Book review: ‘The Martian’, by Andy Weir

(Disclosure: I received a copy of this title from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

The Martian, by Andy Weir

The Martian, by Andy Weir (paperback, 369 pages). 2.5 out of five stars.

I think that some books can be just okay, or even kind of good, but not truly “great” unless you’re a hardcore fan of their given genre. The Martian was definitely one such book–it was pretty decent, but unless you’re a hardcore “real science” sci-fi fan, you’re probably going to struggle with the text.

It’s not that the book is draggy, or dull, or that the main character is unlikable. Quite the opposite, in fact! I picked this up based on a recommendation from a friend, even though it didn’t really catch my eye as being my “type” of book, and I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed it. The plotting and pacing was great, there was plenty of humor sprinkled throughout, and you’re really never sure if Mark will make it back to earth or not.

So why only 2.5 stars? Because as good as the story was, the heavy focus on Mark’s scientific endeavors started to wear on me. I ended up skimming through the last 100 pages or so because my eyes were starting to glaze over. Sci-fi is one of those genres that can be tricky if you’re not a dedicated fan, and I personally don’t get into “real science sci-fi” quite so much as hypothetical sci-fi (think Fringe). This book reads like a literal manual of How To Escape Mars in 364 Easy Steps (or something like that). If you love this particular branch of sci-fi, then you’ll be thrilled, but for myself it started to feel a little tedious.

Overall, it’s great for hardcore genre fans, and a good “borrow” title for the rest of us.

Ten questions about books with Erin and Katrin!

What’s more fun than blogging about books? Blogging in tandem with other book lovers! Today I’m linking up with my friends Erin and Katrin to answer ten questions about books. Go check out their blogs, these are two of my favorite ladies in the blogosphere and I hope you’ll like their blogs as much as I do!

1. Name a book that made you feel happy:

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M. Bill Bryson’s books make me laugh, which makes me happy.

K. All the Adrian Mole diaries by Sue Townsend. Those books are so hilarious that they make my smile every single time I read them. Which is why I read them quite often–and I am not planning to stop.

E. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I love Douglas Adams pure British humor meets space opera. The whole series is fantastic.

2. Name a book that made you cry:

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M. I cried over one of the character deaths in The Knife of Never Letting Go. If you’ve read it you’ll probably guess which one. (No spoilers here.)

K. The most recent one was All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I don’t want to spoil anything because if you have not read it yet then you clearly should. But it is definitely one of those books that touches your heart in a way that makes you smile and cry.

E. The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks. I loved The Fourth Realm Trilogy and recommend everyone read it, so I won’t give away why this made me cry…but it did.

3. Name a book that made you adventurous:

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M. I suppose reading the Nancy Drew novels gave me a sense of adventure as a kid. I thought it’d be awesome to sleuth around like she did. As an adult, Bill Bryson’s books have made me want to travel, even if it’s only through my own backyard.

K. When I was a teenager I read a book by a person who traveled around the world to find the perfect place to live. And at some point she lived on Christmas Island for a while. The description of that island impressed me so much that I decided that I have to travel there someday. I want to see the famous crab migration. The crime novels Arnaldur Indriðason make me want to travel to Iceland as soon as possible. Such a fascinating country.

E. Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. I am going back a few years here, but as a child I used to love this book and probably read it about 15 times. I imagined running off to live on a boat and have adventures. (Looking back I should have done that, maybe there is still time!)

4. Name a book that scared you:

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M. The Ruins, by Scott Smith. You won’t look at plants the same way afterward.

K. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer because the truth about the meat/dairy/egg industry is scary and horrifying.

E. The Stand by Stephen King, I don’t trust humans not to mess around with biological warfare. After all recent events have shown that some countries see the Geneva Conventions as vague guidelines.  (Additional shout out to 1984.)

5. What book did you dislike at first, but really loved by the time you were done with it?  

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M. I really struggled to get into A Game of Thrones–I thought it was tedious and long-winded. But by the end I’d totally changed my mind and loved it.

K. I am thinking about this questions for days and I cannot really come up with an answer. I don’t think that ever happened to me. There are books that I had to start reading a couple of times before I finished them. But that was mostly because I did not really get into the books at first, not because I really disliked them. One recent book was Eleanor & Park. I think I started reading it 4 times before I really started to feel the book. And after the first 40 pages or so I absolutely loved it and could not stop reading.

E. Several years ago I picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, read the first chapter, and put it down. Then about two years ago I got it again and basically binge read the trilogy! I have no idea why I wasn’t hooked the first time..

6. What fantasy land do you most want to visit?  

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M. I wouldn’t mind spending an evening at the Night Circus.

K. Hogwarts. I always wanted to fly on a broom and learn how to do magic.

E. Jasper Fforde’s literary world. If you have not read Fforde’s book pick up The Eyre Affair and Shades of Grey now. Actually, after writing this I am inspired to give them a reread!

7. What character do you identify with most?  

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M. I’ve thought about this one all weekend and can’t come up with a really good answer. I suppose I slightly identify with Eliza Braun from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences–she’s a bit out of place and a little too feisty for her own good. Though I’m sure she’s much braver than I am!

K. I don’t really identify with any character. If I have to name one I would say Luna Lovegood. Her mother died when she was young, she behaves strange, she speaks up for others, she likes books, she is artistic, has some odd beliefs, she is brave, a nonconformist, she is bluntly honest, she does not care what other people think of her and she wore a dress made of rainbows. And she wants to find a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.

E. I kinda hate saying Lisbeth Salander, but it’s true. Bad childhood, I wear a lot of black, did boxing for a couple years, have several tattoos and more than a passing interest in technology. If only I could have her photographic memory!

8. Who is your secret literary crush?  

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M. Aragorn, though that’s not much of a secret!

K. Tim from the TKKG books (my childhood literary crush) and Inspector Erik Winter from the Åke Edwardson crime novels. Oh, and Bob the street cat.

E. Lord Vetenari from the Discworld series. What girl doesn’t love a morally ambiguous genius?

9. Who is your favorite fictional villain? 

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M. I don’t know if he’s really a villain, aside from his family associations, but I love Tyrion Lannister. Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t!

K. Patrick Bateman. He disgusts and fascinates me at the same time. I have a  slight obsession with serial killers. Give me a book about serial killers and I’ll read it. Which is why I also like Hannibal Lecter.

E. Napoleon from Animal Farm.  How can you not love an evil pig written by George Orwell and based on Stalin. It’s genius.

10. What is the geekiest thing you have ever done for your love of books?  

M. I don’t think I’ve done anything truly geeky yet. Though the husband and I have agreed that if we get a pure black girl cat, we have to name her Guenhwyvar after Drizzt Do’Urden’s magical panther.

K. A midnight Harry Potter release–including staying up all night and finishing the book in a couple of hours. Going to a book flea market and coming home with bags full of books. Going to the movies to watch all the Lord Of The Rings films in one night.

E. I have a tattoo of a turtle that partially represents The Great A’Tuin from the Discworld series.

Top Ten Tuesday: top ten bookish problems I have

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re talking bookish problems, and boy, do I have plenty. Because this is a very serious topic (other book lovers will understand) I’ve enlisted the aid of Ryan Gosling to explain it all. Take it away, Ryan!

1. I stay up way past my bedtime reading. I know I’ll be sorry later. But I do it anyway.

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2. I buy new books to read even though I already have a staggering TBR list. I need them all.

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3. I jump into new books before finishing the ones I’m currently reading. I can’t help myself.

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4. I get emotionally attached to the characters in book that I’m reading and once the book ends, I fall into a state of semi-depression that they’re gone.

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5. I become rather hermit-ish when I’ve got a new book to read. What can I say, when it comes down to the choice between reading and a social life, reading wins every time. Sometimes I’m forced to go out and be social and it’s such a drag.

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6. I get personally offended when people say they don’t like reading.

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7. I’m often disappointed by the mega-popular books that everyone else seems to like. They almost never live up to the hype. Especially when people say that something is “the best book ever” and it turns out to be really…mediocre. I always wonder what I’m missing.

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8. It’s hard to talk to new people if they’re not also obsessed with books. Though if they are = insta-friend.

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9. There’s never enough time to read. Never.

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10. That age-old dilemma: keep reading? Or stop and fix food? Or…starve a little longer? Pizza isn’t always at hand. Sometimes cereal has to do.

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Any bookish problems that you suffer from? (Or are you quite happily plagued?) Or maybe you don’t have problems with reading per se, but issues with certain books or certain genres? Tell me in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: things I love/hate about romance novels

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re discussing our favorite things (and biggest pet peeves) in the world of romance novels! I don’t actually read romance as a genre per se, but I have read a lot of YA and other genres in which romances feature prominently in the plot, and there are definitely some things I love and hate about the romance in those books. So here you go:

1. I HATE insta-love. I think this is going to be a common complaint this week. YA seems to be the worst offender for this one. I get having a spark or being instantly attracted to someone, but love takes time to grow…even if you’re 16 and trapped in a dystopian novel. (Or perhaps especially in that situation.)

2. I LOVE the slow burn that takes forever to build. The first thing that leaps to mind is actually not a book, but a TV show: Fringe. I know some people hate waiting forever for two people to get together, but I love seeing how a relationship slowly progresses. And it makes it all the sweeter when they finally admit their feelings to each other. See also: Brooks and Braun from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I’m sure a lot of people are peeved to go through multiple books and still not see these two hook up, but I like that things are moving slowly. I think it would be out of character for Eliza to rush falling in love.

3. I HATE one-sided love triangles. You know the kind I mean: where it’s really really stinkin’ obvious who will win the heroine’s heart. Biggest example that leaps to mind: Gale/Peeta/Katniss in The Hunger Games. (And I do love those books, I really do. But come on. You know Peeta is going to win in the end!*)

4. I really HATE cheesy sex scenes. I mean, c’mon, if it’s going to be in there, make it good. I stumbled over all the really cringe-worthy scenes in the last Outlander tome. It felt like the author was getting bored and didn’t know what she was writing.

5. I HATE, HATE, HATE controlling boyfriends in books. Why is this considered sexy? The worst one I read was Hush, Hush (see the full review here). I just don’t get it. Someone who is controlling or physically threatening to you is not a good pick for a mate.

6. That said, I do LOVE me some bad-boy boyfriends. Think about Damon from The Vampire Diaries. He’s basically an asshole. But he’s hilarious about it. And when the chips are down, he quits joking around and gets serious. Also, I like that he’s protective of Elena without being a controlling jerk. There’s a fine line there.

7. I HATE characters that are considered desirable solely based on looks. Sure, being attractive in a physical sense is going to catch someone’s eye, but when that’s all the MC thinks about…even after several chapters or several books? Does this person not have a personality? Or do you just not care about it because you’re too focused on their body? I just can’t fall in love with someone based solely on their looks–I need that person to be smart, funny, etc.–so it’s hard for me to buy into a romance and get emotionally invested in it if all I know about the love interest is that they have really great hair.

8. I HATE it when characters change as soon as they fall in love. I think you do change a little bit for the person you’re with (as in, you pick up your socks off the floor and don’t tell dirty jokes in public), but characters–especially slightly villainous characters–who suddenly become mushy and soft once they’re in love drive me nuts. That person I liked so much to begin with is now gone.

9. I HATE heroines that constantly need to be rescued by their love interests. Why can’t they be evenly matched? Why can’t she save herself once in a while? Helpless girls drive me nuts.

10. I LOVE love. I can’t help it! I love love. I love shipping characters. I love cheering for them to overcome their struggles and be stronger on the other end. Books without are fine, but I do love seeing characters meet, fall in love, and develop as they go. I may love villains and dark mysteries, but the softer side of me loves a sweet, sappy ending, too.

What are your biggest love/hate points for romance novels? What are some of the best romance novels you’ve read, or novels in other genres that featured really great love stories? Leave me a comment and let me know! (And if you did TTT this week, leave me a link so I can check it out!)

*Apologies to anyone living under a rock for the past several years for whom this revelation was a spoiler. Sorry.

Top Ten Tuesday: top ten classic books I can’t believe I haven’t read yet

Top Ten Tuesday

I wouldn’t say I avoid classics, but I definitely wouldn’t count myself as “well-read” in this genre, either. Here are ten classics that, somehow or another, I have not yet managed to read (but definitely plan to in the future):

1. Emma, by Jane Austen–I loved the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow, so I figure it’s high time to read the book!

2. The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde–currently reading this on my Kindle.

3. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace–I feel like this is sort of a “modern classic”. I’ve just always been put off by the sheer size of it.

4.-5. The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells–I think this entry is especially bad, since I devoured The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky (which feature Wells as the protagonist).

6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger–I feel like this is one of those classic coming-of-age novels that everyone is supposed to read as an angsty teen. I never did so.

7. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–my husband actually just had to write a paper on Thoreau, so maybe now is a good time to pick this one up?

8. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller–I use the phrase all the time, so I should probably read the book.

9. The Thousand and One Arabian Nights–I tried to start this when I was younger and never finished it. I’d like to pick it up again–maybe one of the beautifully bound hardcover editions from Barnes & Noble?

10. Grimm’s Fairy Tales–I read part of this last year. This is another classic that I think I’d like to purchase in a beautiful hardbound edition.