29 March 2017

Recently Read and Book Haul | March

The run-down on what I've been reading lately

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Macmillian Children's Books, 12 Jan 2017

This is my most recent read, and oh my gosh, it's so good. I read Beautiful Broken Things by the same author last month, so it's no surprise that this book was wonderful. I did, however, enjoy A Quiet Kind of Thunder just a bit more. As I've said in various places on social media, this book is exactly what I like about young adult fiction. I love books that I can binge read across a day or two, that almost feel like an addiction. As you can probably tell by the cover, this book is centred around romance, but here it's the most adorable, slow-going, realistic and complex mix.

This book follows a girl called Steffi who is a selective mute, and a boy called Rhys who's deaf. I've never read anything about deaf people or selective mutism, so this was eye-opening to the struggles those people can have, but it shouldn't and doesn't define them. They meet in obvious circumstances, because they both 'speak' sign language, but their process of getting to know each other and maintaining a friendship is really unique, and difficult at times. This is some of the best, if not the best, romance I've read in YA - lots of squealing and putting the book down for a moment kind of thing (as pathetic as that sounds it's the truth)... This is definitely on my 'favourite books of 2017' list.

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse*
Hachette, 9 March 2017

It's Sophia's last week in Tokyo before she has to move back to the US. She's lived in Tokyo with her mum for a while, and it's become her home... where her friends are, and the boy she used to have a crush on. As he comes back into the picture just before Sophia's due to leave the country, she has to make those last seven days count. I think the thing that made this book special was the setting - I absolutely fell in love with Tokyo reading this. I've never had a desire to visit the city, but this was like a love letter to Tokyo, as Sophia and the boy, Jamie, stay up the whole night and explore the city.

I had the feeling of being transported to Tokyo, and in that way, I really felt wrapped up in this book - it took me a mere day and a half to read it too. I always think that if I read a book in a day, there's something really good about it. While I did think the romance aspect of it wasn't as special as A Quiet Kind of Thunder, I enjoyed Sophia's adventures with her friends and Jamie rather than their actual relationship. That ending was a good one though, and I finished this one with absolutely no regrets ignoring the rest of life to read it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas*
Walker Books, 1 March 2017

This seems to have slightly different release dates for various countries, but I'm pretty sure it's out now for most people. I'm sure you've seen this book everywhere at the moment - but in case you haven't - it's definitely one to watch. It's about a girl called Starr who is caught up in two different worlds... the poor neighbourhood where she lives, and her posh high school in the suburbs. She witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil, by a police officer. Sound familiar? This story is very reminiscent of events you've seen in the media, and is in fact inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Expect... "People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice." This book is about what prejudice looks like in the 21st century, and how the fight for justice can be a huge struggle. I found this book to be very, very moving and just incredibly important. Not only is this book important and inspiring, it's also very accessible because it's YA - that means more young people will pick up this book. If there's one book you're going to read soon, make it this one because of the subject matter.

And I picked up a couple more books...

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Penguin, 1 Feb 2017

This is a book I've walked past a few times in bookshops and always liked the sound of it, but would never buy it. Sophie, always the enabler, kind of said I should get it so I did. This was actually the only book I bought this month, which is some kind of record or achievement (...wait, I just remembered there's something on it's way to me in the post). Anyway, while reading the blurb, the bit that intrigued me was "Ingrid writes letters to her husband Gil about their life together. But instead of giving them to him, she hides each in the thousands of books Gil has collected." So, yes please, I would quite like to read this book.

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
twenty7, 1 October 2016

I've just started reading this one, so I don't know a great deal about it, but from my understanding it's a bit like Bridget Jones, but maybe even better. Of course the difference is that Sofia's Muslim. After she breaks up with her boyfriend, she sets off to write a book about the Muslim dating scene and her experiences. When there's a quote from Mhairi McFarlane, you just have to go for it, don't you? I actually picked this one up from the library on a whim, so maybe hiring books out has hit a resurgence.

Are you interested in reading any of these books? Let me know!


*Sent for review


20 March 2017

Workwear Lookbook

For those of us who opt for sneakers most days...

My idea of workwear essentially equates to pretty blouses, my favourite pair of jeans, a standard pair of black trousers and the all important pair of not-too-high pointed boots. I've recently upped my professional clothing game (which is pretty hilarious considering it's still casual af) but I thought I'd put together a little lookbook for the gals who hate dressing up and will go for sneakers over anything else most days.

(Floral Blouse from Glassons, Cream Blouse from Topshop, Gingham Top from Mirrou)

I have a few blouses that I reach for when I want to dress up slightly, but still maintain my aesthetic, because there's nothing worse than wearing something you're not comfortable in. If there's one thing in life I hate, it's overdressing. Whether it's this cream-coloured, star patterned, button-up shirt from Topshop, my gingham cold shoulder number, or black and white striped top with flared sleeves, I'm still staying true to me.

I don't know about you, but I've been loving tops with cute cut outs and special detail. If there's one trend I can get behind, it's most definitely anything flared or ruffled. Take me back to the 70s... and with a nice pair of jeans I do think patterned tops can look really cute and still presentable.

(Top from Mirrou)

Exhibit A, B, and C...

If there's one thing my wardrobe was lacking, it was 'work pants'. Excuse me if I give a small shudder here, because it's not something I really 'do'. Upon investigation, there actually are a number of cute, and still relaxed-looking pants, on offer if you look at places like ASOS. I've opted for a pair of pin striped pants with a split detail at the ankle (not that you can see - you're welcome for my extremely professional photography).

I think a nice white blouse or crisp t-shirt goes nicely with these pants, as I wouldn't wear these with any of the above tops because of pattern overload. I also have a pair of plain black ones, but I really do think that jeans are A OK as long as you're not chucking on a slobby looking jumper... Wow, look at me giving all this fashion advice! Truly inspirational.

(Pants from Glassons)

And I've saved my new boots for last - what a joy they are to look at. They're extremely simple, and just what I was after. I don't know if it's the case for everyone, but I find it really quite hard to dig out a pair that fit all my needs - not too high, not too detailed, won't cost me an arm and a leg... but these Urban Outfitter Vagabond boots are actually a dream come true, so far. Not to mention I got them on sale. They look pretty narrow so I was skeptical about the fit, but they are perfect and are really comfortable. They're definitely going to come in handy for upcoming autumn & winter.

(Boots from Urban Outfitters)

I've left some of my favourite similar items below (or above linked items where I can) for your own browsing:

What do you wear in a more professional environment? I'd love to know - I could use all the help I can get.


16 March 2017

Around The Web | #2

The one where I get a bit link happy...

I say 'around the web', but most of these mentions are YouTube videos which I've thoroughly enjoyed watching. Aside from YouTubers, there are a few other rad things sprinkled in here. This series is essentially everything I've been loving lately in link form, so let's get started.

Liv Purvis' 'Inside The Wardrobe Of' series
I have been reading What Olivia Did for a few years, and her YouTube videos that have graced my screen recently are fab too. She has introduced a new series called 'Inside The Wardrobe Of' where she sits down and has a casual chat with a very stylish gal. Liv herself has a style that dreams are made of, so these vids are a very welcome addition to my subscription box. So far, she has had Charlotte Jacklin of Betty Magazine and Emma Gannon, author, blogger, podcaster... (the list is endless). What I like about this series is she brings on very 'normal' and relatable women who aren't necessarily high fashion goddesses, but know what they like and how to dress themselves.

Oh My! Moon Cup Chats with Lucy and Hannah
I have a guilty pleasure, and it's watching people try menstrual cups. No, don't click off - it's not as creepy as it sounds. I've mentioned it on the last instalment of this series, but Hannah Witton does a wonderful series on YouTube called The Hormone Diaries, and as part of that, she recently tried a menstrual cup and reported back whether it was worth the fuss or not. Similarly, Lucy Wood (who is an all-round lovely gal who makes great videos) made a video titled 'The Mooncup Diaries', so I'm sure you can imagine the fun things that go on. I genuinely love watching videos about periods, there's just something about them...

'Feminism Is Not a Trend' by Viva
I recently wrote a news story along the lines of this one from Viva Magazine (which is a New Zealand online publication if you didn't know). I personally find this article very interesting and there is definitely two sides to this topic, so if you're intrigued by the title do go over and have a squizz. It's something I think about quite often, as there's always that one business who's jumping on the bandwagon of feminism and earning money from it. Let me know your thoughts...

Blossoms in The Live Lounge
This is such a random one, however I've been kind of obsessed with the British band Blossoms lately, and their cover of 'In Da Club' is pretty fab. I can see why some people sort of hate it, but in my mind it's so unexpected that it's good.. Plus, if it's 50 cent mashed up with George Michael's 'Careless Whisper', I'm all ears. Definitely check out Blossoms if you've never heard of them - their debut album that came out recently is all kinds of cool.

Rosianna Halse Rojas x Backburner
Sit down with a hot cup of tea, and maybe a couple of biscuits, because Rosianna's Backburner series on YouTube is long but amazing. She essentially explores the link between food and mental health, which I think is fascinating. She cooks from the same book for a month and along the way ends up tracking her mental health and energy levels. There's something poignant, thoughtful and relaxing about them. She's done two so far which can be found here, and here. Rosianna makes super interesting and thoughtful videos so I urge you to check her channel out.


12 March 2017

Beauty Radar: On My Wishlist

On today's forecast: face masks, fresh skincare & sparkly things

If there's one thing I love, it's a good scrub. Goodness is a brand that has been popping up everywhere in the New Zealand beauty scene, but I'm yet to try a single product. I would go for one of their moisturisers or this Every Week Face Scrub which claims to offer exfoliation minus the harsh part. Since I'm talking about skincare, another product I'd love to try is the new Double Cleanse from Pixi; a collaboration between the brand and Caroline Hirons, practically a God in the skincare world.

A mask I've been meaning to pop in my basket for the longest time (or simply since it came out) is the Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask from the do-no-wrong brand The Body Shop. Similarly, the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask is currently on my radar. Not new, but something I've heard a good few people rave about over the years. My skin has a tendency to be both dry and oily, so when it's parched I'd love to have this at hand.

Something a little sparkly and very exciting - the Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadows from Stila. I tend to stick to powder eyeshadows, but these look like a dream come true, especially since they're meant to be easy to apply yet not lacking on punch and pigment. While we're in the makeup realm, the Mary Lou Luminizer Highlighting Powder from TheBalm is one of those products that's been on my wishlist for ages. I've been severely lacking in the highlighting department lately, so I think it's about time I hit the buy button on this one. Lastly, Zoeva has a range of eyeshadow palettes that I've been lusting over - especially the Caramel Melange Eyeshadow Palette which by the looks of it has all the warm toned shades I love and could ever need.

What's on your beauty radar right now, new release or otherwise?



8 March 2017

Books: International Women's Day

Books that look into feminism, gender and women

To recognise International Women's Day, I thought I'd put together a post about books that touch on the topics of women, feminism, gender and more. From my book recommendations, to books I want to get around to reading, here is my one stop shop for everything book and women combined.


Girl Up by Laura Bates
A feminist saviour for teens, Girl Up explores a variety of themes very relevant to young people in modern society. Laura Bates is a fantastic writer to go to if you have never read anything about feminism before, because as I always say, her writing is accessible and this book in particular is targeted to a younger audience. It serves as general advice for teens, while incorporating wider world issues into the mix. I would also really recommend Everyday Sexism by the same author because that is the one book that definitely made me want to speak up about women's issues.

Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole
While this book can be a little academic at times, I still found it to be a nice mix of scholarship with personal experience. The ideas the author presented in this book about gender were really fascinating to me because I hadn't thought about those ideas before. It reinforces that gender is largely socially constructed and explores the argument between structure and agency (if gender acts are a choice or part of societal influence). What she discussed really made me think about how much we all perform our identities day to day, and that it's important to ponder the contrast of structure/agency, or what's been socially constructed and what we choose.

Asking For It By Louise O'Neill
This was both a harrowing and important read that explored rape culture and victim blaming. I have to say that this read wasn't particularly enjoyable but it's one I'm really glad I read. It's such a realistic and intense look at how deeply victim blaming can effect someone, and how a community can turn against one girl. I've read a few books like this, but this one definitely sticks out in my mind as being the most heartbreaking, yet so real. Everyone should read this.

To Read:

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
This has been sitting on my shelves for far too long and I think it's about time I got to it. After reading Louise O'Neill's book Asking For It, it opened me up to her writing and her as a person. This book is rather different because it's a science fiction dystopian, but looks at the way girls in society are seen to only exist to please men. You could look at it like an exaggeration of the real world, but with some themes that certainly run true in society.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
I know that it is extremely important to read diversely and to place importance on intersectional feminism. Having studied intersectional feminism for a Uni paper, it definitely opened up a whole new world of feminism. Swing Time looks to be something that will open my eyes more to the combination of race and gender. In the summary this book is described as a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by things and how we can survive them.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
This is up there on my to-read list at the moment since finishing Roxane Gay's book Difficult Women*. As I've mentioned on my blog before, this was quite a popular book a couple years ago and I'm excited to see what it's like. As Roxane's other book was unexpected, I don't really know what to expect from this one. The essays she writes are described as funny yet insightful, and touch on themes such as being a woman of colour, popular culture, books, gender, sex, news media, social media and politics.

How to Win at Feminism by Reductress*
This is a very different book to the rest mentioned here - it's described on the front cover as 'The Definitive Guide to Having it All-and Then Some!'. If you know anything about this book, then you know it's a definite parody/satire on the typical women's magazine, for example you can 'learn how to battle the patriarchy while maintaining a dependable moisturising routine'. I believe it's largely about how women's magazines can very much be hypocritical. It's interesting to think about the dynamic between being girly and liking makeup and so on, mixed with being a feminist (of course you can do/be both). I have flicked through this a bit and have got the general vibe of it, but am yet to read it properly!

Do any of these books interest you? Please also recommend me some more books like these to read!


*Review Copy

4 March 2017

Downsizing My Makeup Collection

It's Time For a Big Ol' Clean Up

If there's ever an appropriate time to mention the saying 'practice what you preach', it would be when it comes to getting rid of makeup - I'm not that good at it, but I'll happily sing from the rooftops about keeping things minimal. I've been trying a little bit more lately to downsize my beauty stash, and here's what I've found...

Toss and Repeat

Get rid of old products you've had lying around for years. Who knew makeup had expiry dates, right? I'm guilty of completely ignoring those dates (and until recently just not knowing they existed). I think powders can stick around a little longer, but liquid products like concealer and foundation, and equally dried up mascaras and eyeliners need to be binned after a certain amount of time. I'm no expert, but I'm now going by a year for foundations and seeking out a new mascara every few months. It can be hard replacing products when they're expensive (exhibit A: Nars Sheer Glow Foundation), but if you use them enough, it should be worth it. Products that have left my stash recently, but I still like are: Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation (I've had it for years), L'Oreal Paris Superliner Superstar Eyeliner* (It was my go-to a while ago but it's drying up), Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara (okay, I haven't quite replaced this just yet, but it's due to be)...

Sitting Pretty

I'm talking about all those products you've had sitting in your collection for ages, but have barely touched. I hate to break it to you, but that third brown eyeshadow you have probably isn't going to get used now if you've had it for a while. Think of it as ripping off a plaster - just chuck out products you know you're never going to use. I'm personally so guilty of this, but recently I took everything out from my makeup stash that I didn't use on an everyday or weekly basis. Products I have that have been sitting pretty for months/years that just aren't for me: Revlon Sculpt + Highlight Contour Kit (too dark and too orange for me), L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation* (the lightest shade is too dark for me & I've had it for a while), Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Spot Concealer (a hyped product that isn't for me).


One makeup category I just have far too much of is lipstick. My beauty draw for everyday makeup was overflowing with countless pretty pinks and dark vampy shades, so I only left behind the lipsticks that are easiest to use on an everyday basis, and ones that have the best formulas. If you're saving that red lipstick for a rainy day, but actually hardly ever use it, it's best to chuck it or keep it in other storage away from your every day makeup. Lipsticks that are nice and I'll use at some stage but didn't make the cut: Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in 45 Possessed Plum, Karen Murrell Lipstick in Orchid Bloom, and many more...

Testing 1, 2, 3

If you have a larger collection or are a bit beauty obsessed, I think one of the best things you can do is remember to trial products that you've been meaning to. That means keeping things in your every day makeup pile that you want to try out, but only a small selection of things at a time so you can actually give them all a fair go. This is definitely something I'm bringing across to my decluttering process - using new products and combining them with my absolute holy grails. New products that I'm testing at the moment/want to use more are: Max Factor Limited Edition Masterpiece Nude Palette in 03 Rose Nudes*, Elf Long Lasting Lustrous Eyeshadow in Gala, MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Dionysus, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in London.

I still have a way to go in the decluttering (like chucking out that oddly shaped nose contouring brush that I'm literally never, ever going to use...), but at least I've made a start.

Is downsizing your makeup collection important to you?


*PR Sample

1 March 2017

Recently Read | February

Despite it being my last month off before I go back to Uni, somehow I only read four books, but I guess it's the quality of books you read - not the quantity. Out of the four books I'm going to review, I really enjoyed two but didn't like the other two as much. There's a little bit of everything here - a magical fantasy, Nick Hornby, a YA about female friendship, and a girl with an intriguing talent...

Beautiful Broken Things

Author: Sara Barnard
Published by: Macmillan Children's Books
Release date: 20 July 2016


I finished this book within a couple of days, and when that happens (it's rare) it's a pretty good indication of how much I liked something. Beautiful Broken Things, in a nutshell, perfectly shows the complexities of friendship - especially female friendship, which can be severely lacking from YA - being overshadowed by romantic relationships. The author focuses on something as simple as friendship, but deals with it so well. I loved how this book was entirely about the relationship between three girls and not necessarily your standard YA romance (even if romance is a by-product of the story - it wasn't in this case). It's also safe to say the cover of this book is stunning. This story gripped me from the beginning and I am so excited to read more from Sara Barnard - I'm going to be reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder in March, hopefully!


Author: Cecelia Ahern
Published by: Harper Collins
Release date: 1 December 2016


While Lyrebird* wasn't a favourite read, parts of it were captivating and interesting - if the premise intrigues you it may be worth picking it up. Essentially this story follows a documentary crew who stumble upon a young woman living alone in an old cottage in the Irish wilderness. She's not an ordinary girl though - she possesses an odd talent or gift that captivates the documentary crew - they instantly want to make her their next subject, but with fame comes consequences.

I thought this book was a nice idea, but I'm not entirely convinced about everything. I quite liked learning about the woman (Laura's) family history and how she came to be. There were some sweet touches that made this feel like a cosy read, but at the same time we're thrust into this world of a talent show - it's a look into how something pure and real can be ruined by commercialism. I found this element most interesting, however the aspect that bothered me was the romance, as it didn't feel entirely genuine. Overall there was an inkling of something there that I liked, but I'm quite indifferent to it in the end.

A Long Way Down

Author: Nick Hornby
Published by: Riverhead Books
Release date: 2 May 2006


I had high expectations for Nick Hornby, however I ended up not liking A Long Way Down at all really. Don't get me wrong, the premise of this story seemed like a good one, but the end result didn't wow me in the slightest. It's about a group of very different people who end up meeting just before they intend to take their lives by jumping off a building called 'Toppers House' - which is a very popular suicide location in London. This book is very important, but unfortunately it just wasn't very enjoyable for me. The writing style was meant to be light and funny despite the hard subject matter, but in reality it just annoyed me, and one of the characters really annoyed me as well. I'm really starting to sound like negative Nancy here, but if I could summarise this in one word it would be 'meh'. Harsh stuff.


Author: Stephanie Garber
Published by: Hachette
Release date: 31 January 2017


Moving swiftly on to a book that I enjoyed immensely - in fact it is definitely my favourite book of 2016 so far (even though it's only February). I finished Caraval* in one day which is not an easy feat for me. I couldn't put this book down and it definitely left me in a bit of a reading slump afterwards because of how good it was. So what is this book actually about? It's about two sisters who end up at Caraval - a strange, magical world which has Alice in Wonderland vibes mixed with The Hunger Games. The Caraval leader kidnaps one of the sisters and what ensues is a journey full of magic, betrayal, and twists and turns. I loved how utterly easy this was to read, how the pacing didn't slump at any moment, and I loved the world the author invented - unique, imaginative and interesting. Some of the turning points in the story were unexpected to me and it made it such a fun, absorbing book to read. I highly recommend you pick this up, even if you're not a fan of fantasy or YA because it's genuinely just perfection in book form.

Are you going to read any of these books? Let me know!


*Review Copy

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