Sunday, 31 May 2015

Book Series I'll Never Finish

I do love a good series but there are a couple I've started that I just won't ever get around to finishing. Here are four series that I'm sorry to say I won't be finding out the endings to:

A Song of Ice and Fire. I started off reading the books after watching a couple of series of Game of Thrones but two books into the series I just couldn't go any further. While I do think watching and reading the series at the same time is a little pointless I just found the sheer complexity of characters and scope of the tale a little hard to remember through the books. I needed some type of flow chart to keep track of all the characters and if I'm honest the television series is so much easier. Plus theres John Snow in the flesh so, ya know, it's kind of a no brainer.

Tomorrow When The War Began. This is a fantastic series for young adults and while I read and loved the first three (or four?) books in the series about fifteen years ago and always had the intention of reading the entire series, each book got progressivly worse in my opinion. For those who don't know the series is based around a group of young Australians who head out into a remote area camping and when they return to their hometown find it has been invaded by a European military regime. I loved the first few books as the characters faced survival in the bush, fighting the enemy and trying to save the ones they loved who have been taken prisoner by the invading army. I think this is the type of series that was intended to have three or four books and then as it grew in popularity was extended, as in each novel the story got more and more far fetched. At one point the characters are saved by the Australian army and taken in refuge to New Zealand but then are taken back to Australia to help fight the enemy, which is just all kinds of ridiculousness. I thoroughly recommend reading books 1-3 though if you are after an adventurous read with brilliant characters.

Outlander. Another series that I abandoned as I found each book to be more and more unbelievable. I really enjoyed the story of wartime nurse Claire Randall who accidentally time travels two hundred years into the past and finds herself as an unwanted English visitor in uprising Scotland. I feel like books 1-3 had a point, although Diana Gabaldon does revel in telling each and every detail of her characters which can get tedious. I actually can't believe this series is still being written as I gave up half way through the fourth book as I just thought there wasn't much of an end goal in reading anymore and it felt pretty repetitive!

The Bronze Horseman. I loved this wartime romance book but part of me really wanted the love story to end happily in the Bronze Horseman and I was pretty disappointed when there were two more books in the series to complete Tatiana and Alexander's story. I felt like their connection having survived an epic separation during the Russian winters was enough exploring of the two characters. For me it was a perfect read and would have been nicely summed up with the ending of this book, I'm not sure what more their characters have to give to a new storyline or if the second and third books will be a rehashing of the same emotions but under slightly different circumstances.

The Given Day. This book by Dennis Lehane is actually one of my favourites to read which is why I'm not sure if I want to ruin my love for the character of Danny Coghlain by reading the next two in the series. Part of me doesn't want a character I love to be put through the ringer again so I'm still debating whether to continue reading or just pretend that he lives happily ever after in the first book. For those who haven't read, The Given Day is a historical fiction novel set in Boston after the first world war. Danny the son of a police chief goes undercover to infiltrate a workers union but soon finds he believes in their cause. It's a fantastic stand alone novel even if like me you are not sure about reading the entire series!

What series have you abandoned part way through? If you have any thoughts on series that are must reads I'd love to know too!

Monday, 25 May 2015

YA Fiction: The Diviners by Libba Bray

One of my goals for this year has been to push myself to read from a wider variety of genres, so when I stumbled across the beautiful cover of The Diviners by Libba Bray, a Young Adult and Paranormal novel I thought I would give it a try.

18 year old Evie O'Neill is packed off to New York city to live with her eccentric Uncle Will, curator of a museum dedicated to all things creepy, occult and mysterious. When a murder with occult associations leads the police to Uncle Will for help, Evie is determined to be involved. With unusual Diving powers herself (the very ones that helped her expulsion from Ohio after a party-trick gone wrong) Evie's secret will lead her into the path of danger more than she realises.

From the opening pages, I loved everything about this book. The bustling New York setting with its 1920s speakeasies and flapper showgirls was vividly brought to life. Good-times girl Evie quickly falls in with an eclectic group of friends, from Theta the stage-dancing Ziegfried girl, Henry a witty-as-they-come piano player and straight-laced Mabel, all of the characters were so richly real and likable. Evie herself has to be one of the best things about this book. I felt that Libba captured her fun-loving spirit so well especially with all of her cute and oh-so 20s sayings, yet throughout the book Evie's deeper feelings of loss for her brother who was killed in the war, and fear for her friends and Uncle as they investigate further occult killings, showed a real depth to her character.

The Diviners is one of the most enjoyable books I've read and perfectly merged a gripping story line with lovable and relatable characters. At 550 pages I absolutely flew through this book, right until the very end where I was reluctant to read the final pages and leave behind the characters and setting of 1920s New York. Luckily for me this is only Book 1 of a 3 book series (I think). With the ending and the case of the 'pentacle killer' solved there are many more elements that remain mysterious and I can't wait to read the next books so that I can join Evie on more adventures into the occult.


Sunday, 24 May 2015

New Authors On My Reading List

Eliza Gordon. It was originally the quirky title and cute cover of 'Must Love Otters' that caught my attention on Goodreads and after reading the blurbs of this book and 'Neurotica,' I now have two e-books at the very top of my want to read list. Gordon writes contemporary romance novels and her twenty-something-year-old heroines trying to figure out their lives/jobs/relationships is definitely something I can relate to. I do much prefer romance books that promise to be funny rather than overly sweet and the descriptions alone for both of these novels sound great.

In 'Must Love Otters' Hollie Porter is a disillusioned 25-year-old with a shitty job and a boyfriend who's wrong for her. When Holly hits her breaking point on a 911 shift she cashes in a spa certificate from her Dad to a couples retreat, except this time she's going solo. With dreams of finding her beloved otters in the wild Holly instead goes from one misadventure to the next.

Neurotica sounds equally as entertaining. Jayne Dandy, Star Wars lover, obituary writer and rubber ducky fan is an intimacy phobe. When her therapist suggests writing erotica as a form of exposure Jayne begins writing a naughty novel. Unexpectedly laid off at work Jayne publishes her book -under a pseudonym - to earn extra cash. Meanwhile her best friend and owner of food truck Luke Piewalkers (ha genius) hires Jayne to help in the kitchen. Now Jayne is fighting to keep her writing a secret as well as growing chemistry between her and Luke.

Jan Moran is an author I follow on Twitter and her novel 'Scent of Triumph' had me at the beautiful cover. A historical romance that combines passion and perfume from Paris to Los Angeles, this novel sounds like a beautiful and epic tale. After escaping Poland with the threat of war on their doorstep French perfumer Danielle Bretancourt searches for her family across Europe. With what remains of her family intact Danielle flees to Los Angeles to make a new life for herself. From working lowly jobs to becoming perfumer and fashion designer to the Hollywood elite Danielle's rags to riches story is one of a determined and gritty woman who dreams of success.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Six Month-On Review: Moreish Organic Skincare

I read a lot of beauty blogs and product recommendations before I shell out my cash for most products, but one thing I often wonder is if months after the initial love-at-first-use has passed, are those once raved about products still in use? I noticed my Moreish Organic Skincare review has been quite popular this last month so I thought it was time to give you an update on whether I'm still using it or not. And, I think I'll do a six monthly update on all reviews featured on this blog for beauty/skincare just so in the long term you can see whether I'm still smitten with a certain product.

Six months later I'm still using and loving the products I purchased from the Moreish Organic Skincare range. In fact I'm halfway through my second bottle of the cream cleanser and it's still giving me a lovely clean, non-tight non-greasy feeling to my freshly washed skin. Ditto I am still using and am pretty much in love with the clay mask. I'm definitely not as disciplined in using it as I was when I first bought it but using this mask is still a part of my ongoing skincare regime. It's still doing the job helping to clear my skin and I've noticed a difference when I forget to do it regularly. I'm only halfway through using the first tube I bought but will be repurchasing when it runs out.

The final product in my review was the exfoliator. While it's still a product I use regularly I've decided that when I get to the end of the tube I won't be repurchasing only because I'm looking at introducing some chemical exfoliators and toners into my skincare and don't see much of a need for repurchasing a manual exfoliant. That being said I am still enjoying using it and it still leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth after use.

I hope you find these reviewed reviews helpful. I think products can sometimes be brilliant when first introduced to your regime but can lose their magic over a longer period. All in all I still recommend Moreish Organic Skincare as an affordable organic option that gives good results!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Magazine Bookshelf

This months bookshelf roundup is dedicated to my most favourite magazines. These are the titles that still manage to charm me despite competition from the online blogging world.

NZ Fashion Quarterly. While the likes of Vogue and Elle are great for swooning over amazing editorials and beyond-budget clothing, NZ Fashion Quarterly is a much more attainable fashion magazine. I love it for featuring the best of New Zealand and Australian fashion labels as well as the occasional edit of more budget pieces. I love flicking through this mag and discovering gorgeous pieces of clothing that are both affordable and accessable. Too bad I've never seen this on the shelves in Australia as I really miss my seasonal fix.

Frankie. Quirky and cool this adorable Aussie magazine is perfect for people who like to get crafty or just enjoy the witty and hilarious writing of its articles. From serious articles on topics like anxiety and depression to laugh out loud funny reviews of the best cake mix to buy, reading Frankie never fails to make me smile.

Renegade Collective. A new magazine which I only discovered last year and haven't seen restocked every month in the newsagents, much to my annoyance. With everything from in-depth interviews with such varying famous people as Helen Clark and Ryan Gosling to totally instagramable quotes (smart move Collective, smart move) reading Renegade Collective feels like a breath of fresh air.

Womens' Health. Well, never did I ever think I would be the type of person to get into a fitness mag, but Womens' Heath has a totally approachable, friendly and non judgy way of motivating you to be your very best. I particularly love how much good information is stuffed inside of every issue, with recipe ideas, new workouts and fashion for fitness girls there's a little bit of goodness in every month!

Stylist. I read every new copy on my iPad and every month I think 'how is a magazine this awesome FREE??' With it's mix of political, feminist, fashion and celebrity interviews Stylist is the perfect mag for the modern girl which is why I love it.

Let me know what your favourite magazines are!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Reasons Paper Books Will Always Win My Heart

A little while ago I summed up all the reasons that e-books were earning a place in my (digital) bookshelf but paper copies will always be my one true love. Sure they are heavier, more expensive and cumbersome than their digital counterparts but I truly think paper will always have its place. Here are six reasons that paper books will always be my favourite form of media:

A Love For Beautiful Covers. I feel like people who love vinyl over CDs understand the love for beautifully designed covers. They add to the story inside, provoking emotions and the atmosphere that lies beneath their casing. Plus, who among us doesn't have a life goal of all of their favourite books dressed up at their finest? Which leads me onto...

So Many #Bookshelf Goals. I've always wanted to have a room in my house dedicated to solely books, preferably filled with big squishy chairs and a roaring fire when I can get all snuggly and read.

Perusing Bookshops Is Better Than Online. Sure, it's lovely to be able to peruse the shelves of online book retailers at 11pm in your pajamas but is there anything better than walking into an actual bookshop filled with actual books? I love that online books are very easy to find and buy but when I don't know what I'm in the mood for, searching the aisles of a bookshop is the best way to find out.

It's All In The Sensory Experience. The weight and feel of a book in your hands, it's shiny sparkling cover and the whoosh of air in every page turn all add to the experience. Extra points go to books that are so well loved their pages are yellowed with age and they still have that musty bookshop smell.

Discovering Cute Little Notes. I'm not one to write in any of my books but my Dad has a really cute habit of writing his name and year he purchases each book in the inner cover which always makes me smile a little whenever I borrow a copy and see the inscription.

Dreaming of Holding My Own Book. Any person that dreams of writing their own book probably imagines the feelings of holding the paper copy in their hands.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Reasons to Read: Crime and Thriller Fiction

Years ago crime fiction was not a genre I ever saw myself getting into. But then along came a little book series called The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and it really had me hooked. Here are my favourite reasons for reading Crime fiction. (FYI many of the books I mention can also come under the Thriller and Mystery genres too).

It's Thrilling But Not Scary. For readers (like me) who can't stand horror or having the wits scared out of them crime fiction is a mellow option. I love getting absorbed in the mystery elements of crime novels and often like to be scared just a little without thinking that an axe murderer or worse a Stephen King character is going to get me.

It's Realistic. While I've never been a big fan of the Jack Reacher novels (not enough mystery as to whether he will survive/solve the case, everything wrapped up in a nice little bow) True Crime especially is very much centred in the real world. I would thoroughly recommend books by Dennis Lehane that are dark, gritty and have you guessing whether the main characters will solve the case and make it out alive.

It's Plot Plus Characters. There are so many great crime novels that are action-packed and fast paced due to the plot line but have added emotional depth due to the character development. Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series of books are a great example of this - an alcoholic and emotionally damaged detective who is brilliantly good at his job.

Twisty Endings. I do love nothing more than a good psychological thriller that gets inside your head. If you love twists, surprises and never being able to accurately guess the ending of a novel then this genre is definitely for you.

My favourites: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane, The Leopard and The Son by Jo Nesbo, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith.

So, if you have never been a fan of the genre I hope my reasons for loving crime and thriller novels might sway you to pick up a copy.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Creepy Thriller: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

It's not often you get to read a Thriller from the point of view of the stalker so for that reason alone I was enthralled with You by Caroline Kepnes from the very beginning. Joe works at a bookstore in New York and when Genevieve Beck walks into his shop he knows that their future is destined to be together. He knows because Joe is stalking Beck and knows everything about her. But their relationship is no plain sailing. There are people who will need to be taken care of before Beck's full attention can be with Joe and once they are gone Beck will have no-one else to turn to.

The first time we meet Joe he is stalking Beck by watching her through the windows of her New York apartment. It's rather unsettling to be along for the ride with Joe, as he stalks his prey and plots how to make Beck fall for him. But he brings us in, he makes us feel comfortable and shares all his messed up thoughts and feelings that there were times when I felt like I  was the unstable psychopath for spending so much time in his head.

What I loved about this book is that is was entirely unexpected. Beck has secrets too and throughout the course of the book she almost seems as messed up as Joe. I had no idea which direction this book was going to go in, it seemed as though Beck and Joe would live happily ever after at times.    Captivating, creepy and even at times explicit, You is an addictive psychological thriller where passion and obsession tangle and nobody is who they first seem.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #7

This month's bedside table stack is a mash up of genres which is just the way I like it. I'm excited to get reading this month as there are three books which have been on my 'want to read' list since last year that I've picked up.

You by Caroline Kepnes. I'm already half way through this book and it's altogether a different kind of thriller than I've ever read before. Joe is a charming and funny bookstore worker who is winning the heart of Genevieve Beck. From the first day they meet in the bookstore where he works Beck is smitten with a man who seems custom made for her. Except that Joe is made for Beck, he knows everything about her and when her world starts to fall apart, Joe is the only one she can turn to.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C Morais. I saw the film of the same name a couple of months ago and it was charmingly funny and made me drool. Hassan and his family move from India to a small French village and open a family Indian restaurant. There presence in the town is not welcomed by everyone especially their neighbour, Madame Mallory, owner of a Michelin starred expensive restaurant. I hope that the book captures all that I loved about the film and even more.

The Diviners (Book 1) by Libba Bray. I first stumbled upon this book when searching the Allen & Unwin website and the beautiful cover caught my eye. Evie O'Neill has been shipped off to New York to live with her eccentric uncle, a curator of occult objects and folklore. Evie is thrilled, after all 1920s New York is bustling with jazz bars, speakeasies and flapper girls. But when a string of occult-based murders are committed, Uncle Will is called in to help. But Evie has a secret, a mysterious power that could help catch the killer or put her in dangers way.

The Lion's Mouth by Anne Holt. You know I love me some Scandinavian crime fiction. (See here for more). When the Norwegian Prime Minister is found shot dead less than six months after taking office, was it politically motivated or a revenge killing? The crime shakes Norway to its core. Hanne Wilhelmsen it called in to deal with the sensitive case, but the truth of the crime is far more shocking and she must deal with the case before a private tragedy turns into public outrage.

Let me know if you have read any of the titles above, or what you're reading at the moment!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Set against the brutal Icelandic landscape, Burial Rights is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, a woman condemned to die for her part in the brutal murders of two men in 1829. While awaiting her execution, Agnes is sent to live with District Officer Jon Honsson and his family. Shunned by all who meet her and distrusted by the family Agnes' only ally is a young assistant Reverend, named Toti who hopes to save Agnes' soul before her death.

Hannah Kent's writing is so vivid I could feel the Icelandic chill on my body as I read and the hurt in Agnes' heart as she sought to be understood before her death. Even before I knew whether Agnes was guilty of the crimes she was accused of, I couldn't help but feel emapthy for her as she revealed her sad childhood to the Reverend.

Kent has created an oddly likeable woman in Agnes. Narrated in part through her voice, Agnes' mix of suffering and strength made her wholy real and relatable. Although she comes to the Jonsson's household a stranger who is both unfriendly and distrusting she is a fighter, hardworking and helpful, but one that has always been an outsider. Unhappy with harbouring a 'murderess' in their house it is the eldest daughter Steiner who befriends Agnes. And slowly, it is not the Reverend but the family of Officer Jonsson who become her confidants.

The landscape is as much a character in this story, a harsh and unforgiving climate much like Agnes faces against the local villagers who judge and fear her. As Agnes seeks for understanding from Toti and the Jonsson family every day is a battle of survival not just against the executioners axe but against the oncoming winter too. Agnes' story is of a woman fighting for her place in the world, but as winter draws in there is only hope left to hold onto.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

5 Books For Lovers Of 'Vikings'

In the wait for the return of Game of Thrones to our television sets Vikings has become one of my favourite series. Whether you watch it for the awesome fight scenes or just fancy watching for the buff-dudes with man-buns (not gunna lie that's half the appeal) there's a lot to love about this series. But the more I watch the more I wanted to discover about this fascinating ancient culture. From woman warriors to fascinating Gods and adventures of bloodlust, here are five books featuring Vikings stories you may want to check out.

Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone. The story of an extraordinary woman Gudrid who recounts the exploration and discovery of the North Atlantic and North America. It is a world where the Old-Norse Gods are still called upon even as Christianity starts to gain favour. Gudrid recounts her story in richly haunting and atmospheric tones.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwall (Book #1 in The Saxon Stories/The Warrior Chronicles series) During the ninth century kingdom after English kingdom fell to the ruthless Danish invaders. Now the fate of England sits in one man's hands, the last remaining King. An epic adventure told from the eyes of a young warrior who straddles two worlds.

Blood Eye by Giles Kristian (Book #1 in the Raven series). Osric lives a simple life, apprentice to a mute carpenter who took him in when he no-where else to go. When Norsemen appear from across the sea and burn his village to the ground, Osric finds himself prisoner to these warriors. Their Cheif Sigurd believes Osric's fate is now interwoven with their own and he is taken in and renamed 'The Raven.' Osric is a natural warrior, but the Norse life is a brutal one where a young man must become a killer to survive.

Odinn's Child by Tim Severen. (Book #1 in the Viking series). Thorgils Leiffson is brought up on the shores of Greenland by a woman named Gudrug. Having inherited his mother's ability of second sight, Thorgils is also an intelligent and fast learning child whose mentors teach him the ancient ways and warn him of the invasion of Christ into their land of the 'Old Gods.' On the quest for adventure and wanderlust of his favoured god Odinn, Thorgil enters into a land of danger and discovery.

The Whale Road by Robert Low. Orm Rurikson becomes the newest unlikely member of the Fjord Elk, a warrior viking ship whose band of brothers ride the whale road in search of loot and plunder. Hired as relic hunters the 'Oathsworn' brothers are sent in search of a sword believed to have killed Christ. A tresure hunt that will lead them into deep and treacherous water.

Are you a Vikings fan?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

May New Release Books

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult. I do love when an author well known for one genre switches sides. This YA novel mixes romance with magic and is pretty much the cutest sounding storyline ever. Sixteen year old Delilah is united with her literal prince Oliver, taken from the pages of a fairy tale. But the only way he can survive in the real world is to take the place of a real boy.

Luckiest Girl Around by Jessica Knoll. After a shocking public humiliation at her private school Ani Fa Nelli has reinvented herself with a fabulous job, expensive clothing and a gorgeous fiance. But her buried past threatens to surface and destroy everything she has worked so hard to become. Exploring the unbearable pressure to "have it all", Ani's big secret has the capacity to destory her or it might just set her free.

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry. You all know by now my love for historical novels and I think the turn-of-the-(last)-century has to take the cake for my favourite time period to read about. This novel takes us to New York where the lives of four strangers become intertwined. Sylvian Threadgill, finds an abandoned baby amongst the privies he is cleaning out. As an orphan himself Sylvian is determined to find who the baby belongs to. Meanwhile Odile and Belle Church were raised amongst the Church of Marvels, a Coney Island slideshow. When the church burns to the ground killing their mother and sending Belle running, Odile is alone and desperate to find her sister. The fourth stranger, a Alphie awakens in a lunatic asylum, convinced her inprisonment is part of her mother-in-law's plans to destroy her. As there lives become connected, the characters stories, lies and secrets start to unfold.

Girl at War by Sara Novic. In the summer of 1991, ten year old Ana Juric is a carefree child running the streets of Croatia's captial Zagreb without a care in the world. But as civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, Ana's childhood is lost to sniper fire and guerilla warfare. A daring escape to America becomes her only chance of survival. Ten years on and Ana is now in college in New York. Her war-torn past is kept a secret from friends and everyone now close to her. Haunted by her past, Ana decides to rreturn to Croatia to search for the ghosts she has lost.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Five Reasons E-Books Have Won (Some Of) My Heart

We bought a kindle for the first time two years ago. I used it a grand total of once before it was lost on our last holiday (fortunately it was used all the time by the boyfriend so it was a good use of money). It's not until now that we don't have one, I've been thinking about how handy they really are. Typical huh? Here are five reasons I will be repurchasing and actually using a new e-reader.

Cheap Books. I don't know about where you live but in Australia books are actually pretty expensive. I'm always happy to shell out money for my favourites books, ditto for stunning covers, but it's nice to be able to spend less than ten dollars on a novel if you are not sure you are going to enjoy it.

Reading Lesser-Known Authors. This is the main reason for me wanting a new e-reader. Since starting this blog I've discovered quite a few little-known authors (in the grand scheme of things) who only have ebooks available. I always have my iPad to read on but it's truly a horrible reading experience and I never ever finish anything on it. I'm excited to be able to introduce new authors into my bookshelf, if only electronically.

Travel. Yep, I've said it before, I'm that noob who packs three paperbacks in her luggage to take on holiday. (My biggest book travel mistake is swapping The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for The Alchemist with a backpacker - hated it, want my TGWTDT back!) In comparison e-books are tiny, lighter and leave more more room for important things such as snacks in my carry on.

That Handy Percentage Sign. I actually think I forced myself to read more because I love knowing how much of the book I have left to read and it makes me weirdly competitive with myself. Sad but true.

The Handy Dandy Dictionary. I am way too lazy to look up an actual online dictionary so usually I just sumise what I think they mean. E-readers on the other hand have the amazing ability to tell you! No more demystifying confusing words and potentially embaressing myself by trying to use them in the wrong context. Win, win!

Are you an e-reader user or do you prefer paper copies?


Sunday, 3 May 2015

April in Review on Sundays and Ink

Obligitory quote about the past month going waaay to fast, coming at you in April just flew by didn't it? Here are a few things I have been loving this month:

Great reads. I got through quite a few good books during April from a varying number of genres. Take a look at reviews from The Son by Jo Nesbo - a thrilling Norwegian crime novel, The Painted Sky - a gripping Australian drama, and The Husband's Secret - another Aussie family drama.

Camera lust. April seemed to be the month of sales, and I dabbled with the idea of buying a brand new DSLR. I had my eye on an entry-level Canon 1200D when the camera salesman, helpful as he was pointed me in the direction of the Olympus E-PL5. I had seen some very lucky bloggers get these for free (ugh so jealous) and rave about them but never took much notice beyond that until one was taken off the shelf for me. These bad boys are amazing. Light as a feather and about half the size of what I was originally gunning for. The only downside? Their $700ish pricetag. Guess I'll be saving those pennies a little longer.

Baking Healthy Treats. Ever since reading I Quit Sugar at the start of the year I have been cutting down on my daily sugar intake. Madeline Shaw's amazing healthy and delicious recipes have helped to keep my sanity whenever I feel like a sweet fix. I particularly love her chocolate and orange raw balls recipe as it requires no cooking!

It's Autumn! I think moving to Australia has given me a new appreciation for seasons. Autumn lasts for about two weeks (and I think we are in it now hooray!) going from balmy summer nights to cool and crisp winter days. The leaves are finally starting to turn which means a few of my favourite things can happen: Berry coloured lipstick, burning candles and snuggling with a blanket and a good book, plus hot chocolates, warm desserts and backyard bonfires that don't set your grass on fire, get an honourable mention.

Dreaming of Bali. We finally booked our tickets for Bali next month for a friends wedding. It's never been a destination I've thought about going to, despite it's proximity to where we live. I guess too many Aussie bogans have kind of ruined the holiday/peacefulness vibe and places like Kuta seem a bit too touristy and drunk for my liking. Fortunately Bali has a lot to offer and we are spending the week in Ubud! I'm so excited as we are staying in a resort and I've never had a luxurious kind of holiday before. Bring on the spa slippers and poolside cocktails.
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