Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Sunscreen Saviour for Winter and Summer Skin

Well I never really thought I'd be using this space to talk about my favourite sunscreen but then that's the nature of blogging isn't it and if I've been looking for something for a really long time I kinda want to tell people about it.

Looking after my skin to prevent the early signs of ageing has become something I've subconsciously been doing ever since I moved to Australia. I have to say though rather than the ageing factor it has been the skin risk that has me most worried. You'd be surprised and horrified by the number of young people diagnosed with skin caners here every year and it's no wonder consider our skies are rarely cloudy. With that in mind finding a sunscreen suitable for winter and summer that doesn't make me feel like a shiny grease ball has been pretty high on my priority list. I've been though quiet a few terrible ones that leave white traces, streaks and grease and don't gel well with makeup that I was beginning to get a little bit miffed with my search.

So, after hearing good things and recommendations about the skincare brand Natio I went on the hunt for their SPF 50 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen and have been a happy camper ever since. I have oily combination skin and it feels really light when applied after my skincare routine and before my other makeup products. Sometimes with sunscreen I find that applying a moisturiser before hand and a primer afterwards is far too much and results in too much build up on my skin and a horrible heavy feeling like my makeup is going to slide on the floor. With this I haven't had to switch one thing up and it's so lightweight. I used this on our holiday in Bali in June and since then have been slathering it on sunny winter days to keep the sun beams at bay.

If you're looking for a heavy duty sunscreen (it's SPF50 and UVA & UVB protective and water resistant for four hours) that doesn't mess up your makeup Natio might be the one to try. I've heard great things about this brand but am yet to try anything else makeup or skincare, but if you have let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #9

I have a very blue lineup of books on my bedside table at the minute and all of them have a slightly dramatic air to their front covers as well as their subject matter. Here's a look at the books I'll be reading and reviewing over the coming month:

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin. This is probably a little bit more romantic of a read than I tend to enjoy usually but as I'm a big fan of historical fiction I thought I would give it a shot. This follows the story of Sisi the Empress of Austria, who is the envy of every woman at Court but deeply unhappy married to her dutiful husband Franz Joseph.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I had this as part of one of my bedside table stacks just before Christmas last year but instead of reading it myself I decided it would make a great gift for my Dad so I opted to pick a copy up from the library instead. I had sneakily planned on reading it after giving it to him but never got the chance to anyways. I think if I love this book I might just buy a copy as the cover is the most beautiful thing in real life. Unfortunately mine has a horrible plastic cover to protect it so you can't see how pretty it looks in the photograph above.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I have read two of Liane Moriarty's books over the past six months so when a friend gave me this to read I wasn't expecting it to be greatly different from her other stories. It's not, but the story has still drawn me in and I'm quite looking forward to hopefully finishing it this weekend.

All the Little Pieces by Jilliane Hoffman. I was very kindly sent this book to review by the lovely peeps at Harper Collins Australia, and since thrillers and crime novels are kinda my jam at the moment I'm really looking forward to it. When multiple women start to disappear from Palm Beach County, Detective Bryan Nill might have a serial killer on his hands. But with no witnesses to any crimes he's got nothing to go on.

What are you reading this month?

Monday, 27 July 2015

5 Must Read Crime Fiction Authors

I'm a huge fan of crime fiction but I get that it might not be the most palatable type of fiction for every person. With that in mind I've put together a wee list of books that I think will appeal to everyone whether you're a usual fan of this genre or have never given it a go. These books are guaranteed to not quite give you nightmares.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. If you haven't yet read any of the Millennium books - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest then this is the perfect place to start. The main character Lisbeth is a sassy arse-kicking heroine who's also as smart as she is ballsy. I love that the plot for these books are really twisty and the characters are also explored in depth throughout the trilogy making it more than just a nice action plot line.

Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbo. Actually any books by Scandinavian crime writer Jo Nesbo are brilliant but the great thing about the Harry Hole series is they don't have to be read in chronological order as the backstory is always referred to throughout each book. Harry Hole is in typical crime fiction style a brilliant yet troubled detective who doesn't always play by the rules, but that's half the fun of following him through each case he is trying to solve.

Cormoran Strike by Robert Galbraith. J K Rowling writing crime fiction is literally one of the best things ever! I really enjoyed the first novel The Cuckoos Calling and her (his?!) writing has only gotten better, the plots more twisting and the clues harder to decipher with The Silkworm. Former British army soldier turned private detective Cormoran and his intelligent receptionist Robyn are two characters that I've absolutely adored seeing grow and progress throughout this series and I can't wait for the third book to drop later this year.

Gillian Flynn. I love Gillian Flynn's novels for being dark and creepy but more so because of what goes on inside the characters heads rather than blood, guts and gore. Gone Girl is one of the best mystery thriller novels I've ever read and I'm really intrigued to read Sharp Objects and Dark Places.

Dennis Lehane. One of my favourite authors ever from any genre is Dennis Lehane. His detective series of Detectives Kenzie and Gerrano are a great read for anyone who likes their crime fiction a little bit closer to reality. While these books won't have you sleeping with the light on they are pretty bleak in terms of desperate characters and lowlife crims who you just know are based on real people. I suggest reading something upbeat (see my Reasons to Read: Chick Lit post if you need some inspiration) but don't let that put you off as my god the twist and turns just keep coming and I never ever know how his books are going to end.

Are you a fan of crime fiction? Leave any suggestions for great authors from this genre in the comments!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Skincare Review: Manuka Doctor Brightening Oil and Skin Serum

I’ve been really enjoying introducing natural skincare into my regime more. It gives me the warm fuzzies to find brands that are both nasties free and more importantly actually work! While I’m not completely onboard the chemical free waggon for everything I am firmly in the ‘I’ll take my bets with the natural stuff where I can get it’ camp, a camp which clearly needs a far catchier title. On the lookout for a few serums and oils to add to the my regime I stumbled upon the brand Manuka Doctor in my local pharmacy.

I knew their Brightening Oil was a bit of a cult product thanks to beauty journalist Sali Hughes mentioning it as a holy grail product, but what really makes me double happy is this is also a New Zealand brand so my bathroom cabinets are supporting a whole lot of local goodness (my cleansing products are also by a Kiwi brand Moreish who are organic and just all together rather lovely). After grabbing the Brightening Oil to try I also spent approximately a good few minutes reading every package on the shelves and seeing what other skin woes I could fix. As an oily skinned gal anything that speaks to hiding my scarring or reducing pesky breakouts is pretty high on my priority list so a skin serum aimed at just doing just that was also whisked into my basket.

Let’s talk about the oil first as I don’t want to alarm you but if you’re looking for a natural ingredient-laden brightening oil then run don’t walk to pick this stuff up. Sometimes I worry when using more chemical products that there might be something nasty in there bleaching my skin to give it a glowing effect so the fact that this stuff is made with the help of our furry bee friends had me happy with the overnight result rather than alarmed. The first time I used it I woke the next morning to a visibly (to me) brighter face - something I could compare to the effects I’d last seen by using the Indeed Labs Pepta Bright which is also awesome.

Although the Manuka Doctor Brightening Oil says to use morning and night I don’t like adding extra oil to my face in the morning as it’s a bit too much for my skin but even using just in the evenings my skin has retained a certain glow that wasn’t there before.

The Manuka Doctor ApiClear Skin Serum has also been quite a hit. It is a little tacky on the skin after I apply it but is nothing that my moisturiser doesn’t fix. Similarly the results have been pretty awesome and I’ve noticed how much quicker some of my scarring around my chin has cleared up in weeks rather than months.

Now I should point out that since these products contain bee venom they are neither vegan friendly nor appropriate for anyone who has allergies to bee stings. If though, you’re completely down with our furry kneed friends and are looking for something a bit more natural to slather on your skin morning and night then it might be time to give Manuka Doctor a go.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Some Thoughts On Studying Journalism

It's been about seven years since I graduated from my degree (good Lord that seems like a long time, currently feeling like I should have my shit together a lot more) and since we've reached the halfway point of the year I thought a few pointers into studying might be helpful for anyone considering going into this field of work. Here are some things I learnt along the way and things to think about.

Firstly I studied a degree in Journalism but through a Technical Institute (or a polytechnic or TAFE depending where you're from). So, rather than attending a University my course was filled with students usually studying practical courses such as nursing, trades, photography etc. I can't tell you how many benefits there were to studying this way.

Firstly most of my tutors had been journalists themselves (it's the type of career where you can easily get burnt out by your forties!) Rather than being taught the 'theories' or 'ideas' of journalism we were being taught by people who had actually been there and done that rather than Professors who may have gone from Uni to a PhD then onto lecturing. Real world experience is priceless for learning from your teachers and I always felt like my teachers could answer practical questions like 'what happens if I'm asked to do something by my editor I'm not comfortable with?'

The course was also very practical. About half our course was made up of assignments and exams where we had to answer or research moral questions but the other half was made up of practical work. When I graduated I had two years experience working at a newspaper, three months of experience working at a radio station and had written about thirty stories that had been published.

The hustle is real guys, though. While I had friends that were being handed 1,200 word essays in their first year of Uni, my tutors walloped us with a 3,000 word essay straight off the bat. And, oh yeah they expect you to work hard, real hard. We had to have a minimum number of stories published in the press - television, radio or print, and were competing with actual journalists who were getting paid. Needless to say a journalism degree isn't for the slack! Oh yeah, and did I mention having to learn shorthand in order to get your shiny piece of paper? It's literally the worst subject I've ever studied in my life.

Now this might sound like I've just named the worst things about doing this degree (and I have) but it's also a course which can set you up for life with real skills, real connections and real world experience. As someone who was kind of over the academic side of secondary school a practical degree was right up my alley. The other thing I have found is it doesn't matter where you study. I was really worried that not going to University and choosing a TAFE to do my course wouldn't look great on my CV compared to someone who had chosen University. The thing is you can't compete with practical experience and after the first year of studying I already had a job (part time) in the industry.

Anyway, I hope this post gives you a little bit of insight into what to expect from studying a degree in Journalism, and also the benefits of not doing it through a University (another popular option is to study a University degree and then do a post-grad diploma in Journalism at a Technical Institute). I'd love to know your experiences of studying, if you chose an uncommon path to get your qualification?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

New Books You Should Know About This July

I'm always on the lookout for what new books are dropping each month and boy are there some good 'uns this July. I feel like this roundup has something for everyone, from a follow up to one of the most loved classics of all time to Young Adult fiction and even a non-fiction pick. Take a peek at what books I'm looking forward to reading in the near future:

Bradstreet Gate: A Novel by Robin Kirwin. When a novel is described as "A tour de force debut about a campus murder for readers of Donna Tartt, Meg Wolitzer, and Jeffrey Eugenides" you know I'm going to sit up and take notice. I've never read Wolitzer before but Jeffrey Eugenides is one of my favourite authors and Donna Tartt's Goldfinch is one of the best literary books I've read (and finished haha). When a classmate is found murdered on Harvard campus Georgia, Charlie and Alice find themselves dealing with an unknown future. 

Paperweight by Meg Haston. I have seen quite a few early reviews of this Young Adult book and it sounds like a moving and confronting read. Stevie is fighting a battle with herself. The only thing she has ever had control over is her eating disorder and now she has been shipped off to a health centre with strict regimes and 'inmates' she doesn't want to get to know. 

The French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas. I love reading beauty books that are filled with actual information rather than just pretty pictures (nothing wrong with that if you're looking for a pretty coffee table book though!) and Mathilde Thomas, founder of French skincare company Claudile shares her knowledge on why French women look so damn good. Forget expensive chemical treatments and quick fix solutions, Mathilde is all about good food changes to your life that will show results in your skin.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. Well this book needs no introduction and you've probably already been bombarded with several articles on people annoucing their shock and disbelief at Atticus Finch's character development but still, I'm excited to read it and continue the story of Jean Louise as an adult.

What books are you looking forward to dropping this month?

Monday, 20 July 2015

The Time Travelling Historical Adventure Novel That Had Me Hooked

A time-travelling, action adventure historical novel might sound like a lot to digest in one sitting, but Time and Time Again by Ben Elton had me hooked for so many reasons right from the very beginning. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of historical novels and being the history geek that I am I really enjoyed journeying back in time with this novel. It always intrigues me when a well known author from one genre crosses into another. For an author who is predominantly known for books which touch on popular culture and current social trends Ben Elton is a fantastic historical fiction (and I guess we should say adventure) writer.

Set in 2024 ex-soldier Hugh Stanton has been chosen by an elite and top secret organisation, whose origins lie with Sir Issac Newton, to travel back in time and prevent a major historical event from happening. If he can succeed, the years proceeding 1914 should change the course of history and the world from that moment forward. Stopping the Great War from happening will not only save millions of lives and prevent some of the strongest and smartest of Europe's men from going to war but also prevent a hundred years of bloodshed on Earth thereafter.

Hugh Stanton is chosen for the mission not only for his skills and expertise as a soldier, but after tragically losing his wife and children in a car accident two years prior, he has nothing else to live for. Throughout his mission Hugh must make many decisions whether to save lives or take them for the good of future humanity. The trouble is if Hugh completes his mission, no one will know just how the next one hundred years of civilisation will progress.

The character of Hugh Stanton was one that I really enjoyed throughout the novel. Despite losing his family and being prepared to live out the rest of his existence in misery instead Hugh tries to make the future at least a better place. In action and crime novels the character of the broken man, brought down by demons of some kind, always seems to be a little one dimensional whereas Hugh seemed much more complex as a person. He wasn't defined by his grief although it was something that he carried with him and there were times when he still had to wrestle with his feelings.

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy the world that Ben Elton has brought to life but it was the action packed plot that had me speeding through its pages. Elton manages to strike the right balance between story and action, plot and character development so that I never felt like this novel was too much - there was romance, history and adventure within its pages which all balanced perfectly and to top it all off the ending was entirely unexpected.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Making Goals: 30 Days to Awesomeness

I’m a serial quitter when it comes to some things. When I think of all the skills or new hobbies I’ve taken up and quit over the years its pretty obvious that stickability has not always been my strong suit. For the most part I have to say it doesn’t bother me much, I don’t have any regrets that team sports and musical pursuits were abandoned for party nights and sleep ins in my early twenties, but there are some things which I really wish I had mastered the habit of or just dedicated more time to.

Thirty day challenges aren’t anything new, but if the old saying practice makes perfect is right then dedicating a month to learning a new skill seems like a great way to finally tackle my ‘I wish I knew how to….list.’ Even if it is just ten or twenty minutes after work and on weekends here are some skills I’m always saying I wish I had spent time on:

Learning how to braid. I have approximately four hairstyles, straight, wavy, pony, and ballerina bun so thank god for lipstick offering some diversity in my facial region. I would love to learn how to braid – nothing extreme, maybe just a bit of fishtail or dutch braids to spice up my already mastered ponytails.

Writing. While I am dedicating time to writing I definitely have been slack on gaining any kind of momentum in getting lots of consecutive days where I sit down and write. Often it’s more like weeks apart and 30 days of having to get some words on a page sounds like excellent motivation.

Mastering the cat eye flick. This is one of the only areas of my makeup regime I feel I am completely pants at. The trouble is I never think to sit down and practice and it’s only when I’m rummaging around in my makeup drawer in a panic trying to shove as many products onto my face that I think of cracking out the liquid eyeliner. Yea, it’s a recipe for disaster and only results in bundles of black stained makeup remover pads. 

Learning French. Before I went to Europe in 2012 I signed up to a really awesome online French course and actually had a really fun time learning all the foods (how to order Nutella crepes mainly lets be honest.) There’s not been much reason for me to know French considering how far away from the continent we are but since I dream of returning I’d love to be able to brush up on my pastry ordering skills. 

Getting stretchy. I’ve been doing pilates for almost two years now and while I’ve definitely noticed how much stronger I’ve become I’m really not great at pushing myself to embrace the pain of stretching meaning I'm about as flexible as a metal pole. 30 days of stretching would not just be great for my workouts but its super relaxing too so I'm sure having the added napping benefits would be enough encouragement.

I’ve just realised there are five full months left for 2015 so perhaps August is time to start my thirty days to awesomeness. I’d love to know if you have ever completed any thirty day challenges or what you would love to learn in thirty days?


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Book Review: A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern

What happens when the person who looks for those who are missing disappears?

The disappearance of a childhood classmate sets Sandy Shortt on a path to find the missing. Whether it’s a lost sock, misplaced items or more seriously solving missing persons cases, Sandy can’t let go until she finds what is lost. Sandy spends her adult life looking for those people, whose loved ones want answers to. When Jack Ruttle asks for the help of Sandy to find his missing brother she offers him a glimmer of hope. Except that on the day Jack is due to meet Sandy, she’s nowhere to be found. Her car is parked near where they plan to meet and Jack can see his brother’s case file sitting in the window. What happens when the person who looks for those who are missing, disappears?

I have to hand it to Cecilia Ahern for coming up with fantastic story lines that don’t always involve a world that stays true to reality. In ‘A Place Called Here’ Sandy finds that she has disappeared, although she’s not entirely sure where she is. I really enjoyed reading about the world of lost things that Cecelia had created and learning more about the people who inhabited this space called ‘here’.

Sandy’s life of searching for those who are lost had caused her to become cut adrift from those she was once close to. Finding others who were cared for became more important, so when Sandy finds herself in a place where lost people go, she finally considered what it would mean to never see the people she had cut herself off from. Desperate to not be lost forever, Sandy with the help of some other lost souls, finally starts to consider the life she has run from and abandoned as being the only home she wants to go back to.

Cecelia Ahern’s easy writing style and unusual plot twist made this an enjoyable and quick holiday read for me. While I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite story from this author there were still enough emotional tugs to have me invested in the story and actually wanting Sandy to be found again.

Book Rating: ***

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The New Book Trend: Bloggers and Book Deals

It's hard to ignore the latest trend in the publishing industry. Every month there seems to be a new blogger or Youtuber getting a book deal and since both blogging and books are kind of my jam I thought I would take a minute or two to pen some thoughts on what can be a divisive topic. I say divisive as there seems to be just as many people thinking this shouldn't be happening and rolling their eyes in disgust or armies of super fans that will be opening their pockets no matter what products their idols put out.

Personally I don't think bloggers or Youtubers getting book deals is either a good or bad thing. I can definitely see the benefits to publishing houses who are looking at new markets and many internet stars have just as much influence - if not more - than some celebrities. But I would be lying if I didn't roll my eyes or feel just a wee bit like this new trend can feel less like projects of passion and more like a quick way for publishers to make a buck when more and more books are hitting the market.

I guess when it comes down to it my only concern is with the integrity behind such books. I don't think we can paint every person who gets a book deal through their blogging or video influences with the same brush. There are many beauty bloggers who have released books that are unique to their tastes and have obviously been filled with love and hard work within each page. As someone who likes to spend her time writing things on the internet I can only imagine how exciting it must feel to be offered a project of your own from a publishing house. Who in their mind would turn down such an opportunity?

I guess I just worry that too much of a good thing cheapens what some people have worked quite hard to achieve you know? It makes sense to me that people who spend their time blogging and writing every day would want to put their words into a physical form. But there's also a part of me that doesn't want this to be a quick way for publishers to make money before abandoning anything future bloggers or Youtubers put out that might be worthy of attention because it's brilliant not just because they are popular.

When it comes down to it, I think the reasons for why and how bloggers and youtubers are putting out books is much more important than the fact that they are publishing books. If these works are coming from a place of integrity, creativity and passion for their project I'm totally on board. Oh, just don't abandon the very thing that your readers or viewers helped you get that book deal with though.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

New Books I Can't Wait to Drop in 2015

There are some truly epic books about to drop over the next six months of 2015 including two from some of my favourite crime authors, a newly discovered amazing paranormal YA author and a sequal to one of the most loved modern classics ever.

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (The Diviners #2). I loved The Diviners so so much (read my review here) and cannot wait to continue on the story in this paranoral YA series. Evie O'Neill is a diviner, whose powers help her to see into people's lives simply by holding an object that belongs to them. Along with her Uncle Will, the curator of a museum dedicated to all things occult, and Evie's ecclectic group of friends, some of who have divining powers of their own, Evie's powers will once again be called upon. For those of you who enjoy books with magical or supernatural elements I would thoroughly recommend picking up this series. I'm not usually one to read paranormal or Young Adult books but The Diviners is an extremely enjoyable read and it's setting of New York City during the 1920s also adds a historical element into the mix.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. The followup novel to To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is probably this years most anticipated book and it's just been released. What makes me really excited about this release is that it was written around the same time as Mockingbird which makes me think it will have a strong and authentic connection to the original story. I'm so excited to continue discovering the story of Atticus and Scout Finch but expectations are extremely high for this one and I hope it does not disappoint.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith. JK Rowling's third book under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith is going to be published in October 2015. A mysterious package containing a severed leg is sent to private investigator Cormoran Strike's assistant Robin. Cormoran can think of at least four people who may want to bring him down and with a police force focusing on someone who Cormoran definitely thinks is not the suspect he must take matters into his own hands to solve the gruesome case.

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz (Millenium Trilogy #4). A fourth book in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is being released this year - I've heard August but don't quote me on that date - albeit with a different author at the helm. Apparently Stieg Larsson planned ten books in the series which is rather exciting to think one of my favourite trilogies could have so much more to deliver. As always it is a bit nerve wrecking to think whether a new author can capture the original novels tone and Lisbeth's character perfectly but I will be picking this book up as soon as it drops.

Are you looking forward to reading any of these books? Let me know which novels you are anticipating being released for the rest of 2015.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Best Books I've Read So Far For 2015

I can’t believe six months of the year have been and gone already. Reading-wise 2015 has been a pretty awesome year in terms of great books. Although I started off the year with a total fail and had to abandon the first book I was reading out of boredom since then I’ve read some ah-may-zing books that I think you should read too! You should know by now I’m a big fiction/historical/contemporary fan so most books fit under these categories but I have been making an effort to read from a wider variety of genres and have even discovered I like New Adult fiction, a genre that I had actually never heard of until last year. So if you’re stuck for something to read check out my favourite books so far for 2015.

The Diviners by Libba Bray. Oh Em Gee. This is one of the best books I’ve read pretty much ever. I loved the pace and excitement of the storyline and Evie O’Neill is the bees knees as a fun and lovable character. This book spans Paranormal and Young Adult two genres which I’ve never been much interested in but oh boy I just loved the mystery and slightly creepy elements in The Diviners. Fans of historical fiction like myself should probably make a move to pick up this book as it was the rich descriptions of 1920s New York and Evie’s totally cute teenage slang that I also fell in love with. The good news continues as the second book in this series is out later this year.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I was a little bit slow to the Rainbow Rowell party this year as I think this was one book people were gushing over in 2014, but the wait was ultimately worth it. Landline is a fiction novel that takes place after the sparks and the first inklings of love take over. In fact Georgie and her husband Neal have been married for years and now their relationship is in big trouble. When a work emergency sees Georgie having to stay in L.A over Christmas, Neal packs up their children and takes them to Omaha for the holiday. I loved how realistically the relationship between Neal and Georgie was portrayed. This book removes the rose tinted glasses and instead presents us with two not so perfect characters who have to decide whether to make it work or pull the plug. Also there’s a magic freaking telephone, so that’s pretty great too.

The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Well what a delightful little book this turned out to be. I had completely missed anyone talking about this book so my Dad gets extra points for gifting me this for Christmas! This was a really heartwarming and lovable book from start to finish which follows bookstore owner AJ Fikry through some pretty major life changes. Being set in a bookstore and filled with lots of book related references anyone who has a love of reading is pretty much going to adore this book.

Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon. If it’s laughs you are after and a sweet romantic storyline I can’t recommend this book enough. I was constantly chuckling to myself throughout this book which is narrated by the hilarious Holly Porter, a disillusioned twenty something who hates her job and has a seriously lacklustre relationship with her boyfriend. Holly’s unique and witty outlook on life is the single most enjoyable thing about this book and although the plot didn’t exactly blow me away, I really really freaking enjoyed this book and sometimes that’s all that matters.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. I had to include at least one historical novel and this book by Jojo Moyes really blew me away. Split between the present day and the first world war, this is the story two women, connected in time through a beautiful painting, must find their strengths to fight for what they love.

What books have you been loving so far this year?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Winter Mornings and Birthday Berry Crepes

Here in Australia we are officially one month into Winter and while the weather hasn't been too bad - the first day of Winter had me sitting in jeans and a tee outside in the backyard - oh boy are the mornings getting frosty. The other morning in a rush to leave for work I took some snaps of the pretty sun rays and fog creeping through the trees in the park across from our house. It was such a lovely sight to open my door to and it's made me want to start carrying my camera around a lot more so I can take more of these spontaneous pictures.

In other equally as exciting news (ha) I made some delicious homemade crepes - okay the recipe has like four ingredients so it's not like that's a brag or anything - as a nice way to celebrate my boyfriends birthday. He was quite content not to do anything on the actual day but even people who insist they don't want to do anything celebratory can be coerced into berry and nutella crepes made specially for them.

I think I need to crack this recipe out more often as they really only take two minutes to russle up and are a quicker and easier alternative to pancakes. A quick sprinkle of icing sugar over the top had them looking all professional-like and the good news is that we still have extra leftover mixture for a second round of easy dessert tonight. I have to say I was inspired by our stay in Bali where the resort chef's would whip up the softest crepes filled with fresh coconut shavings and lemon, that come summer I'll definitely be adding this fresh fruit version to my shopping list. Until then, nutella and strawberries make a pretty good second place.


Monday, 6 July 2015

5 Star Fiction: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

When war breaks out in France, Edouard Lefevre, a talented artist, leaves behind his French village and his much adored wife to join troops at the front line. Live is hard for his wife Sophie who misses her husbands presence and wishes him safe home to be with her. When German troops invade their town and force Sophie and her sister to use their restaurant to feed their troops, Sophie although brave can’t refuse. Sophie is surprised to find the Kommandant has taken an interest in talking to her and often admires the beautiful portrait Edouardpainted of his wife.

In the present day Liv Halston is still recovering from the loss of her much adored husband who died four years prior. A beautiful painting of a woman with lively red hair adorns their house, one of the last ties Liv feels to her husband, as the painting was a gift to celebrate their final anniversary together. But as the history of Liv’s painting is revealed her chance to finally move on from her husbands death both emotionally and financially will be put to the test.

JoJo Moyes has done it again. Her book The Girl You Left Behind had me hooked from the very beginning into an emotional and heartbreaking journey that spans the present and the past. Split between 1914 and the present day I loved the historical element that Moyes brought to this story and how the events of the past were still creating ripples into the future.

The Girl You Left Behind is a story of strength and survival of two women, decades apart who will risk losing everything for the ones they love. I adored this book and loved the way Moyes has tied a piece of artwork into joining two very different women across cities and history. This was a  beautifully written book that had me on the edge of my seat with both Sophie and Liv’s story and I kept hoping that both of them would get a happy ending.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Books, Birthdays and Lifestyle Blogging


It’s my birthday! Well kind of. One (ish, give or take a few days) year ago I wrote my very first blog post, a little roundup of all the new release books I was looking forward to reading (go check it out as most of them I have read and are actually, rather good.) which makes the end of June my first anniversary of blogging, woo! At the time I wasn’t even sure that I would even get to the one year mark but I’m so happy I have reached this mini milestone as blogging is something that has truly made me happy and given me a creative outlet that I never would have had otherwise. My blog isn’t something I really advertise to people I know but more of something to stumble upon if like minded people want to hang out in my neck of the interweb woods.

One year in I wanted to take stock of how far I have come and what plans I wanted to make for the following year. Although I am super happy with the content and layout (thank God for beautiful templates like Pipdig as my own fumbling attempts at design and code often had me want to punch my laptop square in the face on many occasions which would have only resulted in sore knuckles for meyet Sundays and Ink isn’t quite the blog I envisioned when I first started. Originally I had thought of being more of a book and lifestyle blog but along the way I’ve really given a lot of time and effort to getting back into books in a massive way and not much lifestyle content has made its way onto these pages.

So for the next year I am hoping to up the amount of beauty, lifestyle and foody-type posts to sit alongside my booky ones. I love the book blogging community and am really excited to be adding different elements into my blog as I first envisioned. I may even throw in some more personal Travel posts if I’m feeling super up to sharing photos of myself…hmmm, well see on that one, no bikini shots or anything.

Anyway I think the awesome thing about this change is that I still have a list as long as my arm of book, author and reading recommendations so if anything the changes in content should result in bigger, better and more badass stuff to read about! At the minute I have a billion thoughts on music, fashion and beauty that I really want to share but do rest assured my blog will still be filled to the brim with lots of books.

Apart from books what areas do you love reading about the blogs you follow?

Friday, 3 July 2015

An Awesome Holiday Read: Saving Grace by Jane Green

I'd never read anything from Jane Green before but with two new release books out this year alone I thought it was about time I tried this popular and much loved author. Saving Grace introduces us to Grace wife of formerly, one of the best writers in America, Tim Chapman. When the couple's personal assistant quits Grace is at a loss as to how to keep their hectic schedules and life afloat. In steps the wonderful Beth. She's professional, organised and immediately tends to every want and needs of Grace's household including her ill-tempered husband. If it all seems too good to be true, that's because it is. There's something more to Beth than meets the eye but will Grace discover what it is before this perfect stranger steals her life?

Saving Grace was an effortlessly enjoyable read. Green's writing sucked me into Grace's hectic life and I really enjoyed the speed at which I was hooked into knowing more about Grace, Beth and Tim's party of three was going to turn out. I really enjoyed the character development throughout Saving Grace as both Beth and Grace turned out to be quite different people from beginning to end. Grace was an instantly likeable character. As a wife and mother she was warm and I instantly wanted things to be great for her despite having to put up with a husband whose failing book sales and over inflated ego had turned him into an emotionally manipulative ass-hat most of the time. I also loved the way the character Beth played out. She turns up in the Chapman’s lives and makes herself instantly indispensable and yet I , like Grace, kept questioning whether she was really that nice and genuine or was it all a cleaver ruse for someone more sinister? 

The only thing I couldn't put my finger on was why Grace stayed with her miserable temper-tantrum husband for so long as despite being described as loving and caring at the beginning of their relationship, he had turned into quite a bully. I guess Green could have done a better job at showing the side of Tim Chapman that Grace loved so much as there were several times I was thinking Grace should leave her husband in the first fifty pages of the book and when she described Tim as being like his old affectionate self he wasn't even being that kind anyway.

What I loved about Saving Grace was the way Green never quite lets on which way Grace’s cards will tumble. Will she go back to her husband and restore her marriage? Is Beth who she thinks she is or is Grace the one who needs help? You might just have to read to find out.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Funniest Book I've Read All Year: Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon

You know those books that you start reading and just love everything about them and can't stop smiling at the characters and relating to pretty much everything about them? Yeah, Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon is one of those books. Hilarious and laugh out loud funny from beginning to end, Holly Porter is one of my favourite funny characters I've had the pleasure of hanging out with for an entire novel.

Speaking of Holly, at twenty five years old she hates her job working as a 911 operator, has a disappointingly unromantic relationship with her boyfriend and no friends to speak of. When her father buys a gift voucher for a romantic weekend at Revelation Cove, British Colombia, Holly ditches her boyfriend and work for a week of soul searching and potential new hookups. Holly goes from one disaster to the next watched on by the cute but annoying Concierge Ryan - a former NHL star with a bad knee who has been forced into an early retirement.

Holly was beyond relatable as a character and I couldn't help but recognise her attempts at soul searching and finding something she didn't know she was looking for as a common theme among my twenty something peers. Although her attempts results in a lot more nudity than the average person, Holly with her sarcastic wit and skeptical outlook on life was a fabulously funny narrator. Eliza Gordon's writing is pure gold and I can't wait to read more from her.

While the plot and storyline aren't exactly groundbreaking Holly's hilarious escapades which see her go from shitty down and outer to life of the party is the best thing about this book. If you are looking for a seriously funny read with a loveable main character and sweet romantic story Must Love Otters is a must read.

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