Sunday, 27 December 2015

5 Reasons You Should Start A Blog in 2016

With a new year almost around the corner I’ve been thinking about all the good things that 2015 has brought with it for my online space and it lead me to thinking about why everyone should have a place for their creativity and uniqueness to shine. Here are my reasons why I think 2016 should be the year you start your blog (if you’re not already part of this cool club).

It’s a place for your creativity and uniqueness to shine. Well I kinda gave away this point in the intro but having your own blog or website might be the one and only place you ever have to be fully in creative control and your wonderful personality shine through. Even those of us who work in creative fields often spend our time bringing other people’s dreams to reality – products, businesses, services – but your blog can be 100% about what you and only you care about.

It’ll push you to learn. I think one of the biggest things I’ve missed since leaving my studying days behind me is the constant stream of new information entering my brain. Blogging in lots of ways has brought new skills to my fingertips and while sometimes it’s highly frustrating trying to figure out coding and editing and photographing on your own its also highly rewarding.

It will increase your confidence. When I published my first blog post I was so nervous about putting my words out onto the internet where the whole world could see them. But slowly over time I started to feel more comfortable about having a voice and putting it out for people to read. When a few months ago I had an idea that maybe I should film a video for my site it only took me a few moments to decide that it was a good idea. Just like that my confidence had grown without me really realising it!

It shows you have passion. If you are looking for a job in a certain area or dreaming of working one day in a different field, a blog is the perfect way to show you have passion. Employers love people who are passionate about what they do and blogging really is a hobby fuelled by this.

You never know where the future will take you. Opportunities on the internet are abound for people who want to go out and grab them. Now I'm not saying you should start a blog because you want to get internet famous but, if you do want to create wonderful beautiful things for other people you should absolutely start a blog as you may amass a few fans along the way! As long as what you are doing is with authenticity blogging is a great way to reach out to an audience and build your community up.

So, if you have always thought about taking the plunge online and starting your own space please, make 2016 the year you do. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love Santa To Gift Me

I was one of those kids who believed in Santa for a really long time. Sometimes one of the downsides of being a third child is that people can just forget to tell you things that were relevant to their other two children. Like oh, Francesca's ten years old and still believes in Santa, right maybe it's time we addressed that issue. Anyway, the point of that little tangent is that today's Top Ten Tuesday is one my ten year old self (pre-Santa is not real discovery) would love because it involves asking Santa for books! So Santa, if you are reading (there's still a part of me that belieeeeves) here is what I woudn't mind you leaving under my tree on Christmas morning - obviousy not all because I am not greedy but The Broke and the Bookish said choose ten, so ya know....

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell :: I have a habit of buying books for other people that I want to read because I love to share the love. I bought this for my Dad and now Im like dammit I really wanna borrow that.

Anything by Rainbow Rowell :: Because even though I have only read Landline I already know I love her writing.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Illustrated version :: It's so pretty! I still don't own a copy of the first HP book as I think I borrowed it from a friend to read so what better edition to have than a beautifully illustrated one?!

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelley :: This is the best historical fiction series ever and I need to finish it!

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray :: Oh boy I cannot wait to read this sequal to The Diviners and if I found it under the tree might just do a tiny squeal of delight.

A Collective Magazine subscription :: I dont read magazines much any more as I get my fashion and beauty fix from the many babes in the blogosphere but Collective magazine are so awesomely inspiring focusing on young entrepreneurs and how to live your dreams.

A pretty notebook :: I am all about using pretty planners in the New Year and as of yet haven't found one for 2016. Hint, hint.

A surprise :: I love books but I also like suprise books!

The Glam Guide by Fleur de Force :: I love getting books that are both useful in substance but also really pretty! Having read Sally Hughes' Pretty Honest last year I've kind of caught the beauty bug and Fleur is one of my favourite and most trusted Youtubers!

Emma by Jane Austen :: I've been meaning to get around to reading some more Jane Austen since I read Pride and Prejudice almost two years ago now. I love the cloth bound covers that her books come in and Emma is a story I already know and not just to the Clueless adaptation.

What books are you hoping Santa brings to you this year?

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Rating **** 325 pages. Published January 13 2015 by Riverhead Books

I feel like I've been winning a little bit with my book selections lately and The Girl on the Train is one that did not disappoint. I have been hearing so much about this book for ages that when I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago I wondered if it could really live up to the hype. Touted as the next Gone Girl, I wasn't sure but I really couldn't put this book down.

Every morning on her work commute Rachel passes a house with a perfectly happy couple outside. Their seemingly perfect life reminds her of all that she used to have and Rachel goes about giving them names and inventing a perfect backstory each day she passes on the train. But when Rachel witnesses something shocking she inserts herself into the couples lives with dire consequences.

Rachel has problems. As an alcoholic she pretends to take the train to work each day so that she doesn't have to tell her flatmate that she was recently let go from her job. Despite her lying and I guess somewhat morally ambiguous ways I really liked the character of Rachel. She's a total mess but I liked that she was battling her own demons but yet trying to do the right thing when she interferes with her perfect strangers lives.

Narrated by Rachel, the novel unfolds through her eyes as she tries to piece what she can remember of her own whereabouts at the time of the incident she whitnesses. As a blackout drunk she's not the most reliable of narrators and thus The Girl on the Train is a fantastic mystery since even Rachel has no idea what she has been involved in.

Although a lot of people have compared this to Gone Girl the writing doesn't quite have the same depth but that doesn't take anything away from what The Girl on the Train is; a fantastically hard to put down book that had me drawn in until the very end.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Christmas Tag

The tree is up, the Buble is on and almost all of my Christmas shopping is done and yet can you believe that we are half way through December and I haven't yet mentioned the word Christmas in a post on this blog yet? In a bid to bring some festive cheer to these parts I give you the Christmas tag (Michael Buble songs optional while reading this post).

What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
Festiveness in general is what I love about Christmas to the point that most of the time I enjoy the lead up to Christmas almost more than the day itself. I love putting up the tree and decorating it. I love playing the Buble in the office when its quiet, Christmas films and snacks, oh the snacks!

What is your favourite Christmas film?
I would probably choose to watch Love Actually over anything else if I could only pick one. I love that it has lots of little story lines and Bill Nighy is hilarious. I also love watching Christmas specials like Father Ted and the Vicar of Dibly which are always on at Christmas.

Real or fake tree?
I like the idea of a real tree and for my whole childhood we always always had a real tree. However living in Australia now I don't think a real tree would survive and I dont like the idea of bringing whatever spiders are living them into my house (okay I dont think that Huntsman or Redbacks live in Christmas trees but whatever!)

Giving presents or receiving them?
Both, I will never pass up the opportunity to get a present lets be honest. But, the older I get the more I dislike this idea of like going crazy with consumerism at Christmas. I love giving and receiving presents that are thoughtful and will be used or utilised in some way as opposed to just giving gifts for the sake of it.

Do you open presents on Christmas morning or evening?
Morning, there is no way that I can wait till evening! We are actually having an early present opening this year as i'll be travelling on Chrismas Eve so we will celebrate before hand too.

What tops your tree?
We actually don't have a tree topper this year so there is just a silver bauble near the top. I might buy one if I see a pretty star or angel in the shops.

As a child what was the one thing you always asked for but never received?
I actually can't remember asking or being disappointed at Christmas ever but I do remember one year my Dad doing the Christmas shopping and well lets just say it was interesting. But hey the man only has daughters so it can't have been easy. One of my sisters now gives him suggestions.

Handmade Christmas cards or bought?
If I do them at all they are usually bought!

What is your favourite Christmas food?
My mums Christmas cake is so delicious. I usually hate Christmas cake but this one is a delicious fruit cake and she usually makes it with whisky icing which is amazing! I am also a fan of shortbread biscuits and any type of Christmas dessert.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?
Before I moved to Australia I loved going to the NZ Ballet every year before Christmas as they do a Christmas performance that is always amazing (this year it's A Christmas Carole) and as soon as we move home I'll be doing that again! This year me and my boyfriend bought ourselves a shared present of an experience rather than buying gifts for each other and I think it's a great idea to continue this as a tradition.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Perfume. The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

From the very first opening line of Perfume, the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind I knew I was in for an experience with this novel. "In eighteenth century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages." Such begins the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille,an orphan who is gifted with an astonishing power of scent and a dangerous ambition.

Books like this fascinate me as despite the fact that I loathed Jean-Baptiste for being a horrible, disgusting little man and this novel is nothing if not macabre I also thoroughly enjoyed it.It's richly descriptive and beautifully written and yet the whole time I would have loved nothing more than to see Jean-Baptiste be destroyed for his wickedness.

There's a great sense of otherworldliness and fantasy to this novel that although everything is set in a historical setting it reads like someone looking in from afar in a dreamy kind of way. Maybe it's the haze of scents that surround this book but it was not at all what I was expecting and that's exactly why I enjoyed how horribly enjoyable this story was.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2015

It's now that time of year to start pulling out the big guns and whittling down our best of lists to just ten great reads for The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. From now till the end of the year I will live in fear of reading a fantastic book that I can no longer add to my best of 2015 list. Without further ado here are my favourite books I read in 2015, of which there are actually only 8 'cos I wanted to keep it to the best of the best:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr :: Everything about this book is so beautiful from it's iridescent cover to the fantastic prose inside I felt a little pang of sadness at having to finish this novel and I highly recommend.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor :: I was really not expecting to enjoy this book that much considering how often Im like 'fantasy isn't really my jam.' Well how times have changed, since like a month ago, I feel like this book has given me a whole new perspective on both YA and fantasy genres.

The Diviners by Libba Bray :: Okay I really didn't want to rank these books in any particular order since my love for them is all fairly similar but The Diviners is my clear winner for the BEST book I read in 2015. I just freaking loved every minute of it, from its wonderfully lovable characters to the exciting plot and historically awesome time period (1920s New York sounds like a fabulous idea). Even just thinking about this book makes me want to give it a little hug in appreciation. Weird I know.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes :: Ahhh this book made my cry so bad. I loved how touching this book was and Jojo Moyes does a fantastic job of creating a wonderful story that feels so authentic. After falling for You Before Me, I am so pleased that I loved this book just as much.

You by Caroline Kepnes :: This book came out of no-where for me. I've never read anything like it and was suprisingly enjoying spending time with the main character Joe who it turns out is a major psychopath. Although this made me question my own sanity I thoroughly recommend for a different take on the thriller genre.

The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zavin :: I love books, as you all know but I also love books that talk about loving books and this one in particular really warmed my heart. AJ is a grumpy bookstore owner who has taken to drinking a lot since his wife died and I just loved this story of how his plans to ruin his own life is interrupted by an unexpected parcel on his doorstep.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell :: I think the main love for this book stems not only from Rainbow's writing (and also that name, I can't get over it!) but this is possibly the first book I've ever read that actually represents a couple going through some REAL SHIT people. I loved that this was a romantic story about two people figuring out their love for one another and choosing to be together without any of the usual fate/lightening bolt/surge of electricity bullshit that is often in romantic novels (and which sometimes I do like but ya know, just not in every novel please).

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins :: This book was kinda perfect reading for me. A twisty thriller that had me hooked from start to finish and an easy non-demanding writing style made it a really quick read.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #13

Today I'm bringing you a fairly gloomy looking beside table stack filled with dark emotional covers that are actually in stark contrast to the way I feel about these books. I've actually read all but Viper Wine so far, so book reviews will be coming up soon but just know that my last few book selections have been good, real good!

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre :: Im so excited to finally get around to reading this book after seeing its snazzy cover months ago. Currently I have made it thirty pages in and honestly I can't really gather my thoughts thus far except for the fact that this book is written in a way that gives a nod to an old fashioned writing style which usually isn't my favourite to read even though I love historical fiction books. Hopefully things pick up soon!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins :: This book is sooo good and definitely lived up to the expectations. Although similar in some ways to Gone Girl I did think the writing was a lot more simplistic and didn't really have the character depth to compete but regardless this is a really great read.

Perfume, the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind :: Well this was a very unexpected read and one that I didn't expect to be quite so macabre or quite so funny. It's books like this that make me question the appropriateness of my sense of humour as I often found myself laughing and then reprimanding myself for doing so.

Full reviews will be up soon of these but in the meantime, let me know what you've been enjoying reading recently.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite New-To-Me Authors in 2015

It's Top Ten Tuesday time again with The Broke and the Bookish! This post I was really excited to put together as this year I've discovered so many new-to-me authors that make me want to tell everyone! Let the countdown begin:

Liane Moriarty :: Having read What Alice Forgot, The Husbands' Secret and Big Little Lies all this year, Liane Moriarty is my most-read new author by far. I just love her easy way of writing but also that her books often tackle bigger issues surrounding parenting and marriage that don't get too serious.

Jojo Moyes :: The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You are such beautiful books that I can't wait to read more from this author.

John Green :: So, I was a little late to the John Green party, only just reading Paper Towns a few months ago but John Green's writing is so great and he really is the best as coining great metaphors.

Sophie Kinsellar :: Reading Finding Audrey has made me want to read more from Sophie Kinsellar as I actually thought that this book was both hilarious and quite touching too.

Laini Taylor :: Daughter of Smoke and Bone is everything.

Anthony Doerr :: I can't get over how beautiful Anothony Doerr's writing is. It's pure craft and reading All the Light We Cannot See had me mesmerized at the power and beauty of his words.

Ben Elton :: I love discovering authors who can write successfully in different genres. I loved reading Ben Elton's Time And Time Again for the mix of action and historical elements but Chart Throb was equally entertaining for it's satirical humour.

Eliza Gordon ::  Because Must Love Otters was about the cutest book I read this year and sometimes that's all I feel like.

Rainbow Rowell :: I can't believe I only discovered Rainbow Rowell this year but I've already got Fan Girl on my bookcase and Attachments and Eleanor and Park are on my must read list. So. Much. Love.

Libba Bray :: Finally I think I can say that Libba Bray gets a virtual fist pump from me for being my favourite self discovery this year. The Diviners was AMAZING and I need to just hurry up and get going with Lair of Dreams because this book has made my year.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter Of Smoke and Bone, 418 pages. Published September 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ****

Remember how I've often said that I'm not that big of a fan of YA books. And, that I don't really do fantasy novels? Yuh. I take it all back. When I picked up Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor I don't really know what I was expecting. Mainly I just wanted to see what all the hype was about. What I wasn't expecting was to be completely blown away by the awesomeness of this novel. Because that's what this book has in spades.

I can't really fault this book (okay, maybe one little thing that I was like errrr, yeah nah but I'll get to that in a minute) because it had a little bit of everything that makes me think fantasy might be a genre for me after all. There's magic - it's about angels and demons (well kinda) a little bit of romance, it's funny and the main character Karou is a blue haired tattooed art student that had me loving her in about two minutes.

Overall this book was just a really fun and entertaining read that still had me emotionally invested in Karou's life. Plus I loved how weird it is. There's weird stuff going on with wishes and teeth and resurrections of spirits. Not to mention the fact that this book is set in Prague which had me all heart eye-emojid for the cities beautiful descriptions. The tiny thing I didn't like was the romance in this book was a tad insta-love for my liking but even then that had an explanation so I can deal with characters dropping the L bomb mere weeks after meeting each other.

Anyway, if like me you've always thought of yourself as not a fan of fantasy novels then I would definitely recommend giving Daughter of Smoke and Bone a go. It's soooo good and I can't wait to read the next installment.

Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone or have I convinced you to pick it up?


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Easy Eyeshadow

It's been a while since I've shared any of my favourite beauty or skincare bits and pieces on this blog so I thought today it was time to dedicate a post to my most recent love. And, while they are hardly new these tiny pots of coloured goodness are transforming my love for eyeshadow.

Whether wonderfully mousse-like in texture like the Max Factor Colour Tattoo or the creme Maybelline Colour Tattoo pots I have a steadily growing collection of colours from pink, gold and taupe to a browny bronze shade. The best thing about these little pots is that they are great for a quick dash of colour across the eye and super easy to blend out if you are short on time in the morning. The even better thing is how great they are at being a base for eyeshadow colours packed on top.

I have been loving using all four colour pots in conjunction with my Naked original palette and love the way really deepen the colours of my eyeshadow as well as creating an extra look that's slightly different than if I were to just use the naked palette.

The only downside is there shortened shelf-life of six months. As they are creme and mousse textures (although they dry down to a powder like finish) these pots will inevitably dry up and can't be kept as long as most other powders. For now I think I have covered all the colours I use on a regular basis but the fact that they can only last a certain amount of time has been spurring me on to get as much use out of them as possible.

Are you a fan of the Colour Tattoo pots? They've been the best thing I've added to my beauty stash all year!

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier | Book Review

The Virgin Blue, 320 pages. Published June 2003 by Plume
Rating **** 1/2

Tracy Chevalier is a breaker of hearts. This isn't the first novel of hers that I've read and felt so much sadness for the characters in her novel. The Virgin Blue is her debut novel which for some reason has taken me years to finally pick up, but it was well worth it. This story is split between two women who share an ancestral history - Isabelle du Moulin and Ella Turner. Separated by four hundred years of history but connected by the colour blue - a colour which brings pain and heartbreak to Isabelle's family and which haunts the dreams of Ella as she tries to make a life for herself in France as an expat American who is finding adjusting to life with her husband in a small French village difficult.

To me Tracy Chevalier is the master storyteller of not only historical fiction but small stories that have a powerful and emotive pull bigger than their pages. Isabelle's domestic life in rocked by religious unease in their tiny village, their family fearful of persecution while Ella also feels the discomfort of being a talking point in her new town, especially when she strikes up a friendship with the Librarian who is both handsome and single (and who I couldn't help but picture as a Serge Gainsborough lookalike, sorry not sorry). Ella and Isabelle's lives are further mirrored in that within their own families neither woman is sure of where to turn towards as their marriages strain against these outside forces.

Tracy Chevalier has a way of capturing the messiness of people's lives both past and present, yet presenting their stories in a way that makes me empathise with Isabelle and Ella where perhaps other authors would fail. The Virgin Blue is a stunning book that reveals that a little bit of heartbreak is sometimes necessary in order to find something beautiful.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

One of the main reasons I even started my blog and subsequently Youtube channel (you can subscriber here If you fancy, go on go on go on) is so that I can share my favourite books with people I don't know on the internet. No, I jest but really it is so I can share my love for what I think are great reads. But, every now and then it's kinda fun to get to know the things that are a tad disappointing, which is why I thought the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag would be a good laugh to film.

All in all I don't think any of the books I mention are bad books, they just didn't appeal to me in one way or another. Let me know what some of your unpopular opinions are that other bookish folk don't seem to share in below!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson, 432 pages. Published April 9, 2015 by Penguin UK
Rating: ***

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson is a chick-lit meets mystery novel that doesn't give much away about it's two female protagonists. Although overall I liked this book, it was kind of funny read as for me things didn't really pick up until the second half. I spent half of the book being vaguely interested and amused at Kate and Annie, two characters who are both harbouring secrets - Annie about her heartbreaking past and Kate who has run away to escape her problems.

Kate's country surroundings and Annie's city life were nicely offset by one-anothers stories but overall I found the characters all to be a little bit same-y and this was probably the main reason I didn't fall for this novel. Although this was an easy and enjoyable read there wasn't much that had me really hooked on the story to start off with but finally in the second half things shifted gear and I found I actually really wanted to discover Kate and Annie's secrets. I have to say I actually didn't pick the ending at all and it was a pleasant surprise to be blind-sided by what I thought might be a pretty average end to an enjoyable book.

If you're looking for a fun and easy holiday read you might enjoy picking this up but overall this book was simply okay.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Crime and Thriller Fiction Recommendations

You guys know I love me some crime fiction so today I'm sharing my favourites and where to start if you want to dip a toe into the genre! Most of these books have been mentioned around these parts before so if you fancy reading the book reviews or recommendations from the same authors I've posted the links down below, enjoy!

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
The Girl in the Spiders Web by David Lagercrantz
Authors to Note: Dennis Lehane
You by Caroline Kepnes
The Son by Jo Nesbo


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

If you've read my blog for a while you will have maybe noticed I'm not usually one for meme's but, the Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday posts have really gotten me thinking. Today, I give you my top (almost ten, I think there's only eight) quotes from books I've read lately! I hope these give you a little insight into the feels of the books I've taken them from!

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it's going with my girlfriend - but I don't give a shit, man, because you're you.”
Paper Towns

“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?”
All the Light We Cannot See

“Well, I suppose one ought not to employ a magician and then complain that he does not behave like other people.”
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

“Ha, no, that it’s always the wrong people who have the guilty conscience. Those who are really responsible for suffering in the world couldn’t care less. It’s the ones fighting for good who are consumed by remorse.”
The Girl in the Spiders’ Web

“Let's not forget The Things They Do To Make Themselves Happy That Actually Make Them Miserable. This is an infinite list. It includes - shopping, watching TV, taking the better job, getting the bigger house, writing a semi-autobiographical novel, educating their young, making their skin look mildly less old and harboring a vague desire to believe there might be a meaning to it all.”
The Humans

“Your mother and I do not approve of drinking. Have you not heard of the Eighteenth Amendment?”

“Prohibition? I drink to its health whenever I can.”
The Diviners 

"When I hear women talking about how their wedding is going to be/was the best day of their life, I can't help but think, 'You just haven't taken enough MDMA in a field at 3am, love."

How to Be a Woman

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Beauty Game Changers

It's only in the last couple of years that I've really started to get into the nitty gritty side of beauty. I'd always been about the instant results when it came to makeup, the pretty eyeshadows or adding a punchy lipstick to my collection but more recently it's the unsung heroes in my beauty stash that have been making the biggest different. Here are my top beauty game changers and why I love them so:

Eyelash curlers :: I, like many people, had heard people harp on about how much of a difference curling your eyelashes makes to open up your peepers but never jumped on board this bandwagon. While I didn't shell out major dosh for a pair of Shu Umeura's even my little drugstore pair make such a big difference. Who knew your mascara was only doing half the job?

Toners :: The often forgotten about and murky watered step that is the toner has made such a big difference to my skin! This is where I truly think drugstore and supermarket brand just don't cut the mustard and investing in something a little more pricey is the way to go. My two favourites are REN Clarifying Toner ($30 from Mecca Cosmetica) for making a big difference in my spotty adult skin and Clarins Brightening Toner for perking up and exfoliating my complexion. If, like me you're still looking for a way to get monthly breakouts under control I highly recommend picking up a bottle of the REN Clarifying Toner!

Primers :: Being an oily/combo/what the fuck is my skin up to type of girl primers have always been my makeup best friend, but it's the oil free soaking-that-stuff-up kind that has really put primers into game-changer territory. If you're not of the same skin type as me worry not as there is a primer out there to meet every want and need, (I'm particularly fond of the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer and the Laura Mercier Oil Free Primer for keeping my face shine free, while the Laura Mercier Radiant Primer brings a seriously luscious amount of glow.)

What are your favourite beauty game-changing products?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

5 Books I'd Recommend To Everybody

Whenever I'm asked for book recommendations I usually do my best to figure out what type of reader the person asking is. Whether they like big books or small books, funny books or sad ones, serious or whimsical. But there are some books that are just so good I'd recommend them to anyone and everyone. Here are my picks of the books everyone can enjoy:

Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones :: I read this one hot summer spent lying in the backyard of my Dad's house with his snuffly boxer dog by my side. Why do I remember exactly what I was doing when I read this book? Because all of the emotions, that's why. This book is at times beautiful, shocking and sad and was one of the most unexpected things I read that summer. I highly highly recommend you read it. It's references to Great Expectations also made me want to delve into this classic book and also made me realise the transportive power that reading does to us.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack :: I've just made a mental note to re-read this as soon as I can because it's such a wonderful book that it makes me want to pick it up and hug it just a little bit. *ahem, I digress.* At times funny and sad, The Book Thief is a book that will forever remind me of the goodness of family and of never losing hope.

Harry Potter by J K Rowling :: Did you know there are people in this world who haven't read Harry Potter? Did you know there are people in this world who consider themselves to be avid readers and haven't read Harry Potter? Did you know there are many members of my immediate family who still FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, haven't read Harry Potter? Can you all guess, what you're all getting for Christmas this year? Seriously though is there anything better than a book that combines defeating evil with the importance of friendships like Harry Potter does? Read it, all of it. You won't regret it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee :: There's a reason this is prescribed in English reading classes across the world and that's because this is one of the best modern classics ever written. I was never made to read this book at School, I simply fell in love with it on my own and it's become simultaneously my favourite book ever and the book I read when I don't know what to read.

Gone Girly by Gillian Flynn :: Do you know what I love about books like Gone Girl? When people raved about this no-one thought about whether they liked thriller fiction or not they just knew that everyone was talking about it and they had to read it. This is the type of book that once you read it all you want to do is force everyone around you to do the same.

So, there you have it, my picks on books I think everyone should read (and love, obviously). What book would you recommend to every type of reader?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

When I saw Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell at my library I did second guess whether I should pick it up or not. At 1006 pages it's the longest book I've ever read and actually finished *pats self on back*. You all know that magical fiction is my thing and combined with a historical fiction it's like my two favourite genres have gotten together to throw a party. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell did not disappoint, but it wasn't entirely what I was expecting either.

Set over a twenty year period, (hence the length!) the book centres around the last two magicians in England - Mr Norrell who believes magic should be studied and learned from books and aims to make English magic respectable once more and Jonathan Strange whose powers are revealed to him by a dirty looking vagabond hiding under a hedge.

The best part of this book for me was the relationship between Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I quite enjoyed their differences of personality and found Jonathan Strange to be quite the humorous character. Rather than this book being focused on one major event the novel stretches out over two decades which does make the plot feel like more of a meander than a fast paced adventure, the latter being what I would usually expect.

I definitely think that for fans of fantasy and magical fiction this might be a polarising read. I almost enjoyed it more for its prose which reads a bit like a classical novel probably more than the actual magic, which I know will be off-putting for some. Overly though I found Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell a really enjoyable book but it's somewhat unnecessary length stopped it from being brilliant.

Monday, 2 November 2015

October Wrap Up | Books

With October now done and dusted I thought I'd take you through a quick run down of all the books I've been reading during the past month. This month I did a bit of a cheat and included books from September too, as reading an 1006 page book didn't leave much room for many more titles. In this video there were quite a few hits, a few misses and a sudden realisation at how bad my rising inflection has become since moving to Australia.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Books On My Want To Read List #3

Originally I was planning on writing a TBR list of books I wanted to read by then of 2015, but when I started racking up double the amount of books than weeks left in the year it seemed more like a wishlist than what I would actually get through. Whether or not I can get through the nine books already on my bookshelf plus these by the end of the year remains to be seen, but here are some reads that I would love to get to by the end of 2015.

Jackaby by William Ritter :: This book pretty much combines all of my favourite things! Mystery, suspense, a historical setting and a detective of the paranormal (which prior to reading The Diviners this year I probably wouldn't have thought paranormal was my jam). Also that cover needs to get in my bookshelf.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater :: I first heard of this book from Peruse Project's magical books recommendation videos. I've really been enjoying reading magical fiction and this book's themes of death, love and magic seem like the perfect mix of drama and excitement.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz :: A funny and touching coming of age story about two teenage boys who begin an unlikely friendship with one another. I kind of love books like this whose small stories involve only a handful of people, but often these books have the biggest hearts.

The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth :: When I heard this book is basically a retelling of Beauty and the Beast my inner six year old gave a little squeal of delight. I know this isn't the first book to take inspiration from this story but it will be a first for me to read! The Beast's Garden's setting of Nazi Germany also adds an interesting historical fiction note to this fairytale retelling.

What books are on your want to read list for the rest of 2015?

Thursday, 29 October 2015

October Fashion & Beauty Favourites

Spring blossoms, a return to warmer weather and terrible hay fever have all made a reappearance during October but im not complaining as a change of season has also brought with it some new favourites to both my wardrobe and makeup bag. Here is what I've been loving in October:

The Perfect Striped Dress :: Do you ever find that sometimes that most basic clothing pieces are the hardest to get right. I can't remember the number of times I've bought a striped dress which just doesn't quite hit the mark. Being five foot two it's pretty easy for things to be too long or not fit the way a garment was intended, but this stripey number from Dorothy Perkins is so perfect. It is figure hugging but I've been loving wearing it with a denim jacket and my white converse shoes for an easy but put-together casual look.

Button Up Denim A-Line Skirts :: I love it when trends are actually wearable and super flattering for practically every body type. A Line skirts are my go-to for the best shape for my body type (read: thighs) and it's one of the only elements of the 70s trend that I think is going to stick around for a while. This button up number is from Dotti and I'm seriously considering getting it in black as well.

REN Clarifying Toner :: Remember my mini-MECCA beauty hall and how I said I'd do a review of said products sometime.... This product has ignited my love for toners. Having only really used supermarket jobs which don't actually do much, switching to a 'proper' toner has had a significant effect on my skin. Oily and spot prone girls might be interested in giving this a try as it's one of the only products that has quite noticeably helped clear up my scars and helps prevent pimples from being as bad as they could be.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer :: Another MECCA product I bought last month and have been loving. I bought the tiny sized 8.95ml bottle because this stuff is eye wateringly expensive and I wasn't sure it was worth the hype. Fortunately its bloody brilliant especially for preventing oil from ruining your makeup, something I constantly struggle with. The other upside? A tiny tiny amount goes a loooong way. Since the bottle I bought has a mini pump to go with its mini size, I squeeze out a tiny tiny blob, so tiny it's hardly worth calling a blob and it covers my entire face. Amazing, brilliant and may just bite the bullet and buy a big size when my tiny bottle eventually runs out.

Rimmel Kate Moss Matte Lipstick No.30 :: I've been on the hunt for a purple lipstick for a while now but wasn't sure if I was brave enough to go full purple. This baby is a berry shaded purple which is a tad brighter than what I would usually wear in autumn. It's probably not the most spring appropriate shade but it's just so pretty I think it works all year around. Rimmel matte lipsticks have become my go to since they're just so cheap and the formula rivals that of many high end brands.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Book Adaptations I Enjoyed Better On The Screen

Inspired by a question I answered when filming my Unpopular Opinions video* - Which movie did you prefer to the book? - I thought I would pick a few of my top movie over book scenarios, a controversial topic I know!

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh :: It pains me to say this as Trainspotting is one of my favourite movies ever but the book is dark, man, real dark and even as someone who loves black comedies I found reading about Scottish smackheads a bit more than I could handle. Also deciphering the Scottish accent it's written in made it that much more difficult to get into.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin :: Sorry, sorry, sorry. Blasphemous I know, but as a massive fan of the television series I really found that I understood GoT's many plotlines that much easier when I was able to put a face to the names. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed Martin's writing and obvs he gets all the credit in making this series what it is but I needed some serious flow chart action to stop me from being confused all the damn time.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne :: A great book that I probably would have enjoyed more if it went without the hyped "it's middle-grade fiction but suitable for adults too." (Although in that case I probably wouldn't have read it). The book is a fantastic middle grade book but I felt it wasn't deep enough and didn't work as an adult fiction book because it's not meant to! Lets call this a case of having too high expectations. I enjoyed the film more.

No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy :: As a massive Cormac McCarthy fan it actually pains me to add this one to the list but I made the rookie mistake of seeing the movie and then reading the book. McCarthy's book works so well as a screenplay they basically tore off the front and back covers and used it verbatim. It makes for a brilliant film but pretty much ruins the reading experience. Always, always read a McCarthy book first!

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo :: One of my all time favourite musicals both on the stage and in film (although sometimes I forget how weird it is watching a film when people are singing everything all the time) I absolutely hands down adore the thematic version of Les Miserables. Honestly I found the reading experiencing a tad miserable myself as I'm not the best person at persevering with classical fiction and this one is a long wade through convoluted waters.

Tell me, what books did you think were made better as movies?

*Coming to a blog post near you very soon!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Reasons to Read: Literary Fiction

Ahhh literary fiction. I won't lie, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the genre. On the one hand I think it's great to push yourself to read great literature, philosophical ideas and broaden our minds and vocabulary through literature. On the other hand sometimes I have to be in the mood to push myself to read books that have difficult prose! Today's post, however is a celebration of all the reasons to read this genre:

Oh the words! :: Literary fiction is usually the genre that inspires me the most to broaden my vocab but more than that just enjoy the beauty of fantastic writing. A lot of literary books I enjoy more for they way they are written rather than necessarily their plots or characters.

They make ya think :: Sure it's lovely to read my favourite genres, I'll always have time for crime fiction, historical novels and chick-lit that entertains and delights but thinking deeply about social, political or human nature is important. One of the joys of reading is discovering more about not only ourselves but broadening our perspectives.

They can be challenging :: I know the pain of struggling through a book that's perhaps too far out of our comfort zones but sometimes the only way to get better and improve at tackling difficult books is to practice. This doesn't mean you have to dive right in with Ulysees (personally I don't think I'll even be tackling James Joyce) but some of my favourite reads have been ones I've persevered with.

A new perspective :; Some of my favourite books in literary fiction are written by from the perspective of characters who don't have mainstream lives or opinions. I think this genre is a fantastic one for broadening minds and perspectives on subjects perhaps we've never considered before. Take Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides for example which tells the story of a hermaphrodite boy who spends his childhood raised as a female before discovering his true sexuality.

Is literary fiction a genre you enjoy reading too?

My Favourites: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, The Book Theif by Markus Zusak, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Girl In The Spiders' Web by David Lagercravtz

Lisbeth Salander is back! Not only that, but she's still the same badass butt kickin' bitch she always was. In The Girl In The Spider's Web, Salander and Mikael Blomkvist's paths cross again when a renown Swedish scientist Professor Balder seeks publicity for his story and protection for his Artificial Intelligence technology. Assisting Balder not only means putting themselves in danger from  those who wish to destroy Balder's technology but also people from Salander's past.

I have to say I had pretty high hopes for this book. The Millenium trilogy is one of my favourite series and Lisbeth Salander is one of the best morally ambiguous characters I've ever come across. The Girl in the Spider's Web got off to a slow start for me. It took a good few chapters to set up the story of Balder which involved Blomkvist and the magazine editors at Millenium but all the while I couldn't help but wait impatiently for Salander to come into the story. I was so relieved to find the same angst-ridden superhacker that we left in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest had returned under the writing of David Lagercrantz.

Although I missed Blomkvist and Salander working closely together in this book - there was barely a scene where they were actually face to face - Lagercrantz has drawn on Salander's back story and draws out characters from her past who now want to destroy her. Salanders family situation is explained in greater detail leaving us with a better impression and adding to our knowledge of how she grew to be the damaged woman she is today. Although the plot of this book held less interest for me than that of other Millenium books, it's Blomkvist and Salander's relationship that had me hanging on. I only hope this gets developed further into the next book.

Rating: ****

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #12

Two of my favourite genres are gracing the bedside table books this month and I couldn't be happier about it. Take a look at my October reading list:

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz :: My beloved Millenium trilogy has been continued and my thoughts halfway through reading this book are: it's just as awesome as it's predecessors. Lisbeth Salander and Mikhael Blomkvist are back in another twisty adventure and honestly I can barely register when reading that this isn't a Stieg Larsson novel. (To be fair I finished the last book about eighteen months ago and my memory can be a little rusty at times so take that with a grain of salt.) It has taken a few chapters for me to really get into the plot as Lisbeth is fairly absent in the beginning but now that I'm halfway through I really really want to find out what happens.

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier :: Despite Chevalier being one of my favourite historical fiction authors I'd never picked up one of her most well known novels. I really like the premise of this book which connects a woman with the secrets of her ancestral past in a tiny French village. I've always found family secrets and ancestry to be a bit fascinating, mainly because every family seems to have them.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke :: Okay so you know I love me some historical set fiction as well as magical realism. So when I find a book that combines both of these elements it makes me go all heart-eyed emoji. Actually, the main reason this book caught my eye is I remember seeing the ads for the BBC series of the same name and thinking ooooh that looks gooood. At 1006 pages it's probably going to be the longest book I've ever read if I do indeed finish it. Expect a review in about six months time!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Unfinished Bookseries

I can be a bit slow to jump on the bandwagon of a bookseries. Most of the time I like to see if the hype is really worth it before delving into reading them as it's kind of a pet peeve of mine when series gets a bit stale part-way through. Here are the current series that I have unfinished business with and my thoughts so far on whether I will continue:

The Millennium Trilogy series :: I never had much time to make up my mind about whether I would continue to read this series (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as not long after I heard a fourth book was being published I also heard that the reviews were pretty favourable. I have just finished reading The Girl In The Spider's Web and loved it so much that I really can't wait to continue reading more books! It's a shame I'll have such a long wait.

The Tea Rose :: This historical fiction trilogy is one I started a few years ago and I truly ADORE it. I have the final book in the series to go - there's the Tea Rose, the Wild Rose and the Winter Rose. What I love about this series is that although the books are related to one another and involve the same characters, each book has a focus on a different female lead. I think this is brilliant as the story's are diverse but I really enjoy reading about my favourite characters while getting to know ones who were more on the fringes of previous books. These books are a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster so I've given myself plenty of breathing space between reading books one, two and three. I'm itching to pick up the final book though!

Cormoran Strike series :: You probably know by now that these novels, written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith are one of my favourite crime novel series. I love that each book is a standalone novel in itself, yet each story builds on the character development and storyline of the past. With each book I feel like Galbraith finds her feet more and more in the crime genre and the relationship between Private Investigator Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robyn is one of my favourites since it's more mentor-based than romantic.

The Diviners series :: I was pretty much delighted to find out that The Diviners by Libba Bray was not a one-off book like I had originally thought and already has a sequel. It's one of the most entertaining Young Adult books I've ever read and surprisingly from a genre I never thought I would be interested in (paranormal). Lair of Dreams continues on the story of Evie O'Neill, a diviner who can "read" objects by touching them. I love the 1920s setting of New York city and the eccentric cast of characters in this series are what makes these books so great!

What book series have you still to finish?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

New Release Books | October 2015

It's a new month which means new books are droppin'. This month some of my most loved authors are releasing novels which makes me pretty happy. As usual all of my favourite genre's are covered with a little historical fiction, crime and thriller novels making the cut. Ooh there's even some YA in there too:

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly :: As a big fan of Donnelly's Tea Rose series (which I'm still to finish, they're just so emotionally exhausting I need a break in between!) I'm really intrigued to read her Young Adult novels. This is actually a historically set novel, so I'm not exactly branching out of my comfort zone there but baby steps people, baby steps. Set in the gilded age of New York (which is around the turn of the 19th century for all of you who didn't have to Wikipedia that....) Josephine Montfort lives a life of comfort thanks to her old money family. But when her father dies, Jo's rosy outlook on life does too and there may be more to his death than first expected.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith :: Yussss, book number three by Ms Harry Potter herself is finally dropping this month and to be honest who cares what the plot is 'cause we all know I'm going to run out and buy it regardless of whether anything exciting happens. Fortunately Galbraith has thought up a plot and it sounds like a goodie. When Robin Ellacott, assistant to private detective Cormoran Strike opens a package destined for her boss, she's shocked to find a severed limb inside. Cormoran less so, but the list of people who aren't happy with him - and might take to severing legs in rage - is long enough. With the police being their usual useless selves, Cormoran and Robin set out to solve the case.

The Lake House by Kate Morton :: When Sadie Sparrow takes a hiatus from her job with the metropolitan police, she takes refuge at her grandfathers country house. But the house holds mysteries of its own that Sadie feels compelled to solve. While this sounds a little bit par-for-the-course for a Kate Morton novel I really enjoy the way she interweaves the stories of the past into the present time.

What books are you most looking forward to being released this month?


Thursday, 8 October 2015

A New Book Haul | Crime, Thriller & Historical Fiction

Something a little different for today's post in video form. My latest book haul featuring a few crime, thriller and historical fiction books. I hope you enjoy watching!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Recent Reads:Candace Bushnell & Marian Keyes

Last month when I went perusing the aisles of my local library I really fancied some lighthearted reads that wouldn't take too much brainpower or emotion to get through. Thus two novels from authors who are well known for their wit and whimsy made their way home with me. Seeing as both books turned out to have very similar plots I thought I'd pop them into one quick review. Also, I may have forgotten to actually photograph them both together but isn't that Marian Keyes cover just so prettttty?

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes :: Stella Sweeney is an ordinary mother, wife and beautician working in Dublin when two rather dramatic events put her life on a different course forever. One, a pranged car driven by a man in a Range Rover and Two, a terrible illness that leaves Stella only able to blink to communicate with her family and doctor for a year. When an opportunity for success and stardom comes Stella's way she finally has the chance to make something great for her life.

Marian Keyes for a long time was one of my favourite authors. I pretty much binge read her entire back catalogue of novels and for the past couple of years have forgotten to pick up her newer books. I can say for certain that the Woman Who Stole My Life is a classic Marian Keyes novel. It's funny and light-hearted and full of great characters and testing situations.Sounds good right?

The only problem is that when it comes to making those major life decisions Stella doesn't really deliver. I was a little disappointed at the lack of character development especially when the books whole premise is whether Stella will reach for her dreams. In reality a lot of other characters make decisions for her and by the end of the novel when this was still happening it was actually pretty disappointing.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell :: Pandy PJ Wallis is the author behind the bestselling book series turned movie franchise Monica. But when Monica's star finally overshadows her own PJ decides it's about time to kill off the beloved character once and for all.

I'll be honest and say I have really 'meh' feelings about this book. Candace Bushnell's characters (like PJ Wallis) are the elite variety and while there's something fun to read about the lives of the rich and famous I also felt PJ wasn't a very memorable character.

There's something about Bushnell's books that have just never hit the right note with me - yes they are snarky and fun but I guess that's why I often come away feeling like none of the characters have really grown on me much. Again the character development in this novel was pretty lacklustre as PJ didn't really grow or change throughout the book.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Looking Forward To Spring

This is probably going to end up being one of those 'like duh' posts because honestly, who doesn't like the warmer months of Spring and Summer? Spring has to be my favourite season in Australia though as the deliciously comfortable temperatures make basking in the outdoors a lot more enjoyable than when the oppressive heat of summer hits later on. Here is what I'm most looking forward to over the next few months:
  • Longer Evenings :: Even though we don't get daylight savings here in WA (seriously people!!) I can't wait for the evenings to slowly start drawing out and weekday evenings can be spent outside without fear of mosquitos biting my ankles at 5.30.
  • Reading Outside :: Finally being able to sit outside in the fresh air without a blanket or fear of being rained on is my favourite way to enjoy reading this season.
  • Barbeque Dinners :: Is there anything better than barbequeing EVERYTHING you can find in the refrigerator for dinner? Well it's a good thing I'm such a fan too as our kitchen renovations are about to take place in a few weeks which means the barbie will be our main source of cooking. Bring on the sausages I say!
  • Bike Rides and Beach Days :: Spring is the best season for being active outdoors without dying of heat exhaustion. (If you can't already tell I still don't think I've properly acclimatised to the height of summer in WA. 35 degree days are not my jam!) Likewise beach trips when the sand isn't at thermo-nuclear levels makes it that much more enjoyable.
  • Movie Nights :: There are quite a few movie nights held in beautiful locations - think parks and wineries - around my town and I'm fully looking forward to taking advantage of them once the weather perks up.
  • All The Summer Clothes :: I've already ditched the tights and am ready to embrace light layers, short hemlines and getting my (fake) tan on.
  • Wildflowers :: Although you're not allowed to pick them, wildflower season is my favourite in WA as everything bursts into life before having the sun suck it out of them in Summer. Right now our Mulberry tree is in full bloom, our plum tree is blossoming and out in the countryside all the grasslands are starting to transform into places of beauty. Hayfever tablets can't even make me dislike this season!
What are you most looking forward to this season?

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A Mini MECCA Beauty Haul

I've had a wishlist as long as my arm at Australian high-end beauty store MECCA for quite a while now and have only recently been able to indulge in a couple of items. I've been waiting patiently for some of my skincare to get used up so that I can replace them with more expensive items. Mostly because I think my combination skin type means that supermarket and drugstore skincare just ain't going to cut it. I'm quite looking for to seeing how much difference higher-end products can make. Here's what I've picked up recently:

REN Clarifying Toner :: I've decided to pull out the big guns when buying skincare and this toner has been on my wishlist for so so long. REN have such a great reputation in the beauty blogging community and I'm certainly hoping this can improve the breakouts that have been occuring around my jawline over the last couple of weeks. This particular toner is supposed to be great for oily/combo and blemish prone skin which is just what I need!

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara :: Ridiculous names aside this too is a holy grail mascara for a lot of bloggers. My beloved Max Factor Masterpiece Transform Mascara is pretty near to being dryed out and I really fancied giving something a little more high-end a try. The wand is fairly fat and fluffy and since I usually prefer a small skinny wand this may take a wee bit of getting used to.

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer :: The main thing that interests me with this primer is it's oil soaking properties. At $70 for a medium and something around $120 for a normal sized bottle this stuff does not come cheap. Hence why I've only shelled out for a teeny weeny bottle of the stuff ($25) as I don't want to regret splurging on something I'm not sure will work wonders. One the one hand I'm looking forward to experiencing the awesome-ness of this product on the other hand the thought of spending that much money on a primer makes me wince!

So I've made a tiny dent in the wishlist. What high-end skincare or makeup do you love?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Chat: Paper Towns by John Green

Two book reviews in the same month on two Young Adult fiction books? I know, look at me all branching outta my comfort zones. I've actually been itching to read Paper Towns if only because they make these things into movies so darn quickly that I was afraid I would be forced to watch it on a plane somewhere and it would spoil it for me. Rather than doing a traditional book review I thought we should just sit down, grab a cuppa and have a wee chat about my first foray into the YA land of John Green.

So what's it all about then?

Quentin Jacobsen has grown up living next to Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl so awe-inspiring she's always referred to in her full name. She's cooler than cool and despite once being friends Q and Margo (I'll shorten her name for ease) no longer have much to do with one another. That is until Margo climbs through Q's bedroom window dressed as a ninja and takes Q on an all night adventure. Which sounds fun, and is, until Margo doesn't turn up for School the next day and Q makes it his mission to find her.

What's good about it?

I loved John Green's writing. He's very smart, witty, funny and his use of metaphor is pretty great i.e Margo's whole spiel about paper towns being full of paper people really stuck in my mind. Paper Towns is my first John Green novel so I have to say I haven't been able to compare it to any others but I have heard they get a little formulaic. Also I kind of like that Margo was this amazing girl who everyone wanted to be friends with but no one really knew. The longer Q searches for her the more he realises that no-one really knew Margo at all. There's also a fair bit of 'coming of age' stuff, friendships, relationships and accepting other people as they are that I quite enjoyed and thought was done well and non-cheesy.

What's not so great?

Even though I've never read a John Green novel the 'special snowflake' character is alive and well in Margo Roth Spiegelman. Fortunately for me I had the image of Cara Delevigne in my head the whole way through this book so it was pretty well pulled off. But, I didn't really buy into why Margo left in such a mysterious fashion anyway.

Should I read the book or see the movie?

I'm always going to recommend reading the book but moreso in this case as Cara D as Margo Roth Spiegelman really does it a great service in making her seem like the badass John Green portrays her to be.

Monday, 28 September 2015

A Travel Bucket List

Travel is probably one of the things I most look forward to every year. I know that there's no chance I'll be able to see every country that I desire but for now these are the places on my definitive must-see list:

Greece :: Sun, sailing and the prospect of eating Greek food and a Medeterranean diet all day every day while on holiday is just something I can't resist.

Costa Rica :: This amazing country is rich in diverse wildlife and the thought of ziplining through the jungle is pretty high up on my want-to-do list.

Japan :: Up until a few months ago travelling to Japan wasn't really on my radar. But, it's the combination of a fascinating cultural past and an amazing technologically advanced cities that really appeals to me. Also, snow monkeys are pretty high on the agenda too as is Japanese make-up hauling.

Germany :: Who doesn't want to enjoy drinking beer in one of the most efficient countries in the world?

Spain :: Having already travelled through the north of Spain I really want my next trip to take in the provinces in the south.

Scotland :: I have a deep love of all things Scottish probably thanks to my families Scotch heritage. Top of my must do's is a visit to Edinburgh and to enjoy watching the Edinburgh tattoo!

Yellowstone :: On our trip to Botswana two years ago I met a man who had travelled through 26 countries in the world and his favourite place was Yellowstone National Park. That's really saying something and as a fan of wildlife of all shapes and sizes, coupled with the beautiful landscapes Yellowstone has plenty of appeal.

Vanuatu :: I've never been to any of the Pacific islands yet so this trip will probably be one to do when we move back to New Zealand. The scenery coupled with what are supposedly the nicest people in the pacific is pretty hard to top.

Regardless of whether I actually make it to any of these places, just thinking about taking off to farflung parts of the world makes me feel instantly happy. What places are on your travel bucket list?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #11

Things have been a little bit quiet around these parts this last month because, ironically I have been taking some time out to read rather than spending time online. But now that I've had a mini break I'm really looking forward to getting back into the habit of regular postings. I also have a little something exciting coming up in the next few weeks which may or may not be in video form....

Now, here's my current bedside table stack that I've been loving lately:

Paper Towns by John Green. I've finally read my first John Green book, motivated by the fact that I didn't want to see the movie without having read the book first. Regardless of not seeing the movie I couldn't get Cara Delevingne's face out of my head as the main character Margo.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell. Perhaps it was because I had a bad cold last month or the warmer weather coming in but I really wanted to read easy, funny books this month. Killing Monica follows the story of PJ Wallis, whose book character has become more famous than it's author. PJ sets out to destroy Monica once and for all.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes. It's been so long since I've read anything from this author who used to be a firm favourite of mine. After a rare disease leaves Stella Sweeney hospitalised for a year her published memoirs give her a shot at true stardom. With an ex-husband going off the rails, a teenage son more interested in yoga than rebellion the path to success will be anything but easy for Stella.

What have you been reading this month?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Book Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Things have been a little quiet around these parts, more so than usual, because to be honest I've been spending quite a bit of time reading and just enjoying time away from the laptop. But, all this time out has left me with a few reviews to write and I thought I'd start with my most recently enjoyed book. A while ago I made a resolve to reach for more Young Adult fiction and the next time I wandered through my library I picked up Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. Kinsella being a predominantly adult and chick-lit writer, had me intrigued to read a book of hers aimed at a younger audience.

Finding Audrey centres around the life of Audrey and her eccentric family. A recent incident at Audrey's high school has left her with severe social anxiety, an inability to leave the house and a penchant for wearing sunglasses during the daytime. Throw in a mother who spends too much time turning to the Daily Mail for answers on how to raise her family, a brother obsessed with video games and a father who doesn't quite know what is going on and you've got yourself a scenario for a whole bunch of crazy family dynamics. Audrey has been making steady but slow progress with her shrink Dr Sarah but it's an introduction to her brothers friend Linus that sparks something alive in Audrey.

This book was filled with lovable and relateable characters despite their charms and quirks. Kinsella's characters slowly revealed themselves to be quite a caring and close-knit bunch in the end and I really enjoyed that she allowed those deeper characteristics to be revealed. Although the book addresses mental health issues it's light tone and Kinsella's charming writing style make it a very easily digested read without treating Audrey's illness as something trivial or easily fixed. I did wonder if the Linus-Audrey first-love story would turn out to be a 'love cures all' scenario but it was their friendship which gave Audrey something to focus on while her family were all trying to deal with her illness in their own way.

I thought the character development in this book was pretty spot on actually. As not only were the family trying to deal with Audrey's illness but I enjoyed that Kinsella explored how Audrey's illness was really taken on by the whole family. It's a serious top but this charming and funny book shows sometimes a light hand can go a long way to giving a story serious impact.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

An Updated Beauty Wishlist

Spring is here which means as well as lighter mornings, blue skies and barbecues being on the horizon so too is the need to shake off my winter routines and embrace lighter, dewier makeup and delicious smelling skincare products. I've updated my current beauty wishlist for the things I'm lusting over most for the coming Spring/Summer months!

Origins Original Skin Re-texturising Mask and Re-newing Serum: I'm often on the lookout for skincare aimed at mid-twenties skin and this clay mask and serum are screaming out to me for their smoothing and calming properties are right up my street.

Glasshouse Candle No4 Les Baies: Oooh la la, everything about this candle makes me a little bit giddy. From the lux geometric packaging to the promise of wild berry scent I think this will be my favourite scent for warming summer days.

St Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan: Spring is on the horizon which means bare legs are also making a comeback. Gradual tanners are much more appealing to me these days than the orange-sheet staining options of years gone past, and are such an easy lazy girls way of topping up an existing tan.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: It's not often that a high end mascara makes me take notice but the skinny wand plus often raved about formula of this Too Faced offering have certainly caught my eye.

Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Foundation: Lately I've been finding that my sheer foundations just aren't cutting it whenever my skin has a breakout session so rather I'm looking to add a preventative measure into my base.

REN Clarifying Toner: Toners are still a rather mysterious skincare step for me but REN have such a good reputation for skincare that works that I can't wait to add this clarifying lotion to my nightly routine.

NARS Lipstick in Niagara: Despite my attempts at swatching every peachy pink lipstick I can find in the pharmacy, it's a hard colour to nail at a cheap price. I love the corally-peach tones of this NARS number and so far I've never met a NARS product I didn't like.

Monday, 7 September 2015

September New Release Faves

September is delivering some of the most waited for books of the year. Take a look at what I'm looking forward to dropping this month.

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Rutter. Why I've still not managed to pick up the first book in this series is completely beyond me and I better get a move on before I've got even more catching up to do. Set in 1892 private detective Jackaby returns to investigate the supernatural, this time as an unidentified beast starts attacking innocent people.

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent. Metzger's Menagerie travelling carnival is full of wondrous and grotesque creatures on exhibition for the world to marvel over. When Delilah Marlow visits she discovers a creature within herself and is captured to perform night after night in towns across the country.

After You (Me Before You #2) by Jojo Moyes. Lou returns in this sequel to the wonderful novel Me Before You and I for one cannot wait to read this follow up novel but is there life after Will Traynor for Lou?

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium #4) by David Lagercrantz, Stieg Larsson. Is it just me or is September the month of hotly anticipated sequels. I've actually already bought a copy of the fourth book in the series and cannot wait to follow along with Lisbeth and Mikael Blomkvist.

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray. I'm going to sneakily place this in my September pile as it wasn't released until the end of August and I totally forgot to talk about it, which is insane considering how much I've been looking forward to reading this sequel! Evie O'Neill and her divining friends return to fight the paranormal and this time Evie has become a media darling. But, not everyone is accepting of the Diviners abilities putting Evie and her friends in danger once again.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Humans by Matt Haig

You know those movies you watch because they leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy and picking you up from a down mood, well Matt Haig's The Human's is a definitely a feel-good book in much the same way. It's delightfully quirky, witty and laugh-out-loud chuckly throughout so if you're feeling a bit blue this could be just the book to lighten your mood.

Professor Andrew Martin of the University of Cambridge has just solved one of the most complex and important mathematical problems in the history of the universe. But when the following day, he is found wandering the motorway in the nude it's apparent that he's not quite right. That's because he's not. Extra terrestrial non-Earthen aliens have discovered his mathematical breakthrough and plan to put a stop to it being published. When a lifeform takes the place of Professor Andrew he does so as an outsider to Earth who views Humans with the utmost disgust and loathing.

It's truly hilarious. Matt Haig has managed to sum up all that is quirky, horrible and downright silly about the human race quite aptly from the point of view of an alien invader. "Magazines are very popular despite no human ever feeling better for having read them. Indeed their chief purpose is to generate an inferiority in the reader that consequently leads to them needing to buy something, which they do, and then feel even worse..."

But he also manages to sum up all that is great and beautiful and wonderful about us too. "Sentimentality is another human flaw. A distortion. Another twisted by-product of love, serving no rational purpose. And yet, there was a force behind it as authentic as any other." 

To love and to laugh and create and be moved is to be human in the best possible way and The Humans is surely a book to be read when you're feeling a wee bit down about the world as it will make you feel immediately better.


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

It's not usual that a romance novel catches my eye but The Fortune Hunter being a historically set novel as well really piqued my interest and I'm really glad I took a chance on it. Set in 1875, the Empress of Austria Sisi visits England on a hunting trip. Exceptionally beautiful, witty and smart, Sisi has everything a woman of her position could ever ask for, except happiness. When Captain Bay Middleton is piloted to the Empress during the hunting season, Sisi sees in him the passion and charm lacking in her own marriage, and despite Bay's engagment to his devoted fiance Charlotte, the attraction is more than mutual.

Despite this definitely being a love story and a love triangle at that between Sisi, the dashing Bay and his sweet and young bride to be Charlotte, I really felt invested in the story due to my love for the characters. I have to say I really liked both Charlotte and Bay straight from the beginning as Charlotte's love for the new art of photography set her apart from other young women of her age. She actually reminded me a little bit of Elizabeth Bennett, except not quite as headstrong, for her refusal to care what others think of her quirks. Charlotte's fortune, gifted to her when her mother passed away, has set her up for a life of comfort, which also means she doesn't have to marry for money.
When she meets the dashing young Captain, Charlotte is warned against his cadish nature, which soon emerges when the Empress becomes quite taken with him.

Throughtout the novel the standout element to me was the characters of Sisi, Bay and Charlotte. I loved seeing Charlotte develop into a woman who was prepared to fight for what she wanted and the historical element of a woman's role in marriage - especially if she holds the riches - was really fascinating to read about. Fans of historical fiction or just straight up romance novels are probably going to enjoy this a lot. There was a lot of 'will they won't they' going on between Charlotte and Bay but by the end of the novel Charlotte's transformation into knowing what she wanted left me even more satisfied than any romantic ending.
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