You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott (Book Review)

Megan Abbott is a Goodreads fan-favourite so I picked up this book on a whim between another book that I’d been struggling with.

Megan Abbott

Devon is a teenaged Olympic Gymnastics hopeful. Her parents are heavily involved with a very tight-knight group of gymnastics community, but no other gymnast is as as talented as prodigy, Devon and Kate and Eric Knox have stopped at nothing to help pave her way to success.

The gymnastics community is rocked when the young, good looking boyfriend of an assistant coach meets a violent and mysterious death and suddenly Kate and Eric Knox are finding out things about each other, their friends and their children that they are shocked to learn.

Honestly, I didn’t even know what this book was about when I started to read – I actually thought it was going to be a young adult novel but I was wrong. It was a beautifully written mystery thriller that was from the perspective of Kate Knox, Devon’s mother. I wasn’t sure that I could keep track of the large circle of characters at first and it did take me some time to figure them all out — most become periphery characters and the main ones become quite clear very quickly.

You Will Know Me was a great little surprise and my introduction to Megan Abbott as an author. I have heard a lot of buzz around her work and have generally tried to keep low expectations when it comes to hype — but I feel like her writing style was fantastic and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. Even if I had all but figured out what was going on before it unraveled, I was still able to enjoy the wrap-up of the mystery.

This is a very short review, but there was really nothing bad that I had to say about it.

I would recommend this book to anyone except for maybe my friend, Belinda because her line of work would just leave her picking at plot holes that might not be obvious to anyone else reading 😉

Let it be known that I have since purchased three other Megan Abbott books.

Under Rose Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose Tainted Skies is a unfiltered look at a life consumed by the rigours of mental health issues.

Norah has OCD and agoraphobia. This book chronicles her daily struggles and turmoils of dealing with invisible medical issues.

This book resonated with me for two main reasons:

This is not an overly-dramatic, tragedy-on-top-of-tragedy style novel.

Mental health issues aren’t always caused by a specific trauma or event that you can connect right back to the first time you encounter anxiety (not saying it doesn’t, but its not even nearly always the case). I hate to read books where 62 thousand awful things have happened to the main character that has led them to the point where they’re dealing with issues only when the author can be bothered delving in to them.

In Under Rose Tainted Skies, Norah’s initial mental health issues were not brought on by some kind of tragedy. Even during the small positive moments that run through her subconscious, she is ruled by her illnesses. They never fleet far from the story and are written so acutely and finely that I found myself crying within the first few pages. I have never read myself so accurately before.

“I stand at the top of the stairs, close my eyes and try to make my mind go blank.

Don’t go back. Don’t go back. You don’t need to go back.”

and then,

I march back to my room, push the book in to its rightful position and then hate myself.”

I have written, in great detail, what my brain goes through on a very, very tough day — but maybe the passage written above is probably jus the tl;dr version.

It is very hard to find some kind of ‘entertainment’ medium that I find relatable to what I’m going through so when I come across it, I take hold and clutch it close to my chest and treasure it. Maybe it’s the whole misery-loves-company thing or maybe its the relief of finally being understood — either way, Under Rose Tainted Skies hits that chord with perfect precision. Louise Gornall is genius.

And, I’m not talking like, one of those flimsy Apple Fake Geniuses either…

the other main reason I loved Under Rose Tainted Skies so much;

Norah, the character of this book is not saved by a boy/man. 

I read one book about agoraphobia and anxiety recently (I won’t mention titles, you can read it and work it out if you like) and I wrote what I felt like, was a very kind review when I actually wanted to convey sheer irritation.

Boys cannot solve our fucking world of mental health illness. If anything, they generally bumble for the right thing to say and end up making it worse – much less, teenage boys. In the other book I read a boy came along and pretty much resolved the main character’s entire worldly issues including the deeper issue (the mother) as a subplot.

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The boy that comes in to Norah’s life doesn’t serve as her saviour. He serves as her friend; someone to speak to, someone to inspire her to take very tiny baby steps toward recovery. Luke is awkward, Luke says a couple of stupid things and he even does a couple of stupid things — but at least it’s realistic and Norah doesn’t suddenly seem to shed her OCD or agoraphobia the second she sets her sights on him.

Even touching hands with Luke for the first time proves to be traumatic and true to someone who suffers all of the issues that encumber Norah.

Impressively, Luke isn’t a means to an end of Norah’s mental health issues, he is helpful in terms of showing her that she is still worthy of being loved and proves to her that not everybody is going to label her or judge her for what she is going through.

I think what I loved the best about this story is that perhaps recovery is possible for some; but usually not for everyone and this story holds true to that. Norah does not magically get better. There is no skipping to the future to see her running outdoors with Luke to fly a kite or some shit, but the reader is left with a tiny grain of hope that the main character is taking all the positive steps forward to get along with life and cope with her illnesses the very best that she can.

This is what we all hope to be able to do when we feel debilitated by our very, very bad days — to just be able to cope.

Under Rose Tainted Skies is going to get a five out of five for me. Louise Gornall is my new hero.

View all my reviews

Amy Schumer – Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

Amy Schumer – I wasn’t even sure how I felt about her before I read this book. In truth, my most instant thought association was her appearance on Lena Dunham’s stupid podcast or whatever it is. In that podcast, Lena Dunham talked shit out of her asshole again and made offensive, self-serving comment about an NFL player that didn’t make googly eyes at her and went on to ascribe her own feelings of sexism upon him – when he, an innocent party, had no idea that he’d even done anything wrong.

Anyway, that aside, I felt like Amy Schumer has been a little hypocritical in the past.

That being said, haven’t we all? We’re human, we’ve all got our short-falls, and Amy Schumer is not an exception; so if something she has said in present, conflicts with something she said off-the-cuff a zillion years ago, is it really fair to judge her solely upon that?

No.

So I bought the book from my trusty, fun friends over at K-Mart (Goodness me, I love Kmart). I decided to give it a go.

amy

I was not sorry. 

Amy Schumer opens the book stating that if one is to look for advice, they will not find it stuck inside the pages of her book.

I felt like she was selling herself short dramatically; especially when I read things like this;

“There are a lot of firsts like this in life, little flashpoints here and there when you’re unknowingly becoming a woman. And it’s not the cliched shit, like when you have your first kiss or drive your first care. You become a woman for the first time when you stand up for yourself when they get your order wrong at dinner, or when you realise your parents are full of shit.

You become a woman the first time you get fitted for a bra and realise you’ve been wearing a very wrong size your whole fucking life. You become a woman the first time you fart in front of a boyfriend. The first time a heart breaks. The first time you break someone else’s heart.

Throughout this book, Amy made me both laugh and cry. She talked about her childhood, her lessons in trust, her relationship issues – coming from abuse and breaking the pattern of behaviours that can be too hard to shake.

Amy shared excerpts from her diary with footnotes (and one or two that, I am not shitting you, I laughed so hard I could breathe and had to call my best friend and share it with her so that she could hear me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe) which show that she too, had a dramatic teenage and young-adult life just the same as any other girl reading the book.

Her self-deprecating humour really appeals to me because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how I joke about life too. Her funny-yet-tragically sad chapters about her father’s batter with MS made me cry and also laugh.

Over-all, I feel like on paper she’s incredibly witty, smart and just like me, she is an introvert and basically that makes me like her.

In all seriousness, I judged unfairly. I loved this book and I read it very quickly.

And after this book I watched some stand up, she is brutal — but hilarious. I have a newfound respect for her. I might even go to see her stand up over Christmas! Who knows!

Candle – Guy Sebastian Single – Review

guy Guy Sebastian’s new single, Candle dropped on September 9.

Following successful singles from the Madness album such as Mama Ain’t Proud, Like A Drum and Come Home With Me, Candle has taken on a totally different feel, contrasting from the foot-tapping beat from the previous, to a rockier and much edgier feel.

Still, in the same vain of other hits, Sebastian’s incredible, soulful vocals contain that catchiness that has kept him commercially successful.

The lyrics may be simple but the message of the song is clear and refreshing; ‘All I want is my woman’.

Step off girls, no-one can hold a candle to his wife!

Full disclosure: I have been a huge Guy Sebastian fan since he won Idol in 2003 and it has been a complete joy to watch him evolve and grow up from a talented kid from Adelaide to an amazing musician whose vocals are pretty much out of this world.

Candle is a radio-friendly track with tempo and vocal changes throughout that show off his stunning pipes and musical capabilities.

It is an easy sing-along that could potentially become the annoying ear-worm that you can’t help but to sing under your breath all day long.

I’m no expert, but I would take a guess and say that we will hear this song in heavy rotation over the next few weeks and probably well in to springtime.

Very excited to hear Guy Sebastian’s next album after being such a huge fan of Madness.

To buy/listen to Candle;
Apple Music
GooglePlay
Spotify

And here is a photo of Guy Sebastian and I from 10 years ago, just … because. Testing out our gangsta (duck) faces or something, if I recall; just like old homies from across the way.

guy

Naked Truth Chocolate Range – Review

Naked Truth Chocolate and confectionary is one of my favourite indulgences.

I discovered the range about two years ago at Coles supermarket and often make the trip to get nothing more than a chocolate bar (or six). I rate this product above Cadbury chocolate, Lindt chocolate and many other of the world famous brands.

naked

The range is pretty broad with chocolate combinations that can seem like straight up madness.

White chocolate with raspberry and balsamic
Spice chai latte with milk chocolate
Coffee beans and popping candy milk chocolate
Puffed quinoa, almonds and blueberry milk chocolate
Fig, toasted almond and coconut milk chocolate
Espresso kick dark chocolate
Lime chilli dark chocolate
Lemon coconut cream pie white chocolate
Raspberry cheesecake bar
Salted caramel milk chocolate
Jam doughnut milk chocolate
Salted flakes dark chocolate
Goji berry and toasted dark chocolate
Almond butter brownie milk chocolate
Fig and macadamia milk chocolate

Aside from these so-crazy-it-just-might-work chocolate combinations, Naked Truth also make a whole bunch of different lollies that take on their own spin just like the chocolates.

chocoalmonds

I’m not really in to sweets like lollies myself, but I have a packet of the salted caramel banana milkshakes — because I’m a total nut for anything that has a salted caramel flavour.

My personal favourites are the salted caramel milk chocolate bar – it is sweet and has the perfect hit of salt. I don’t know about you, but when something is advertised as salted caramel, I want to be able to taste that beautiful complement of flavours. The Naked Truth salted caramel milk chocolate finds that perfect balance between the sweet and savoury. Unfortunately for me, I can’t stop at just one small portion, I have to basically eat the entire bar and then some!

I am also a big fan of the raspberry cheesecake bar and the jam doughnut bar (I actually don’t think this is still for sale, bugger!) and the white chocolate, raspberry balsamic is out of this world.

Also, I figure almonds are a good source of energy and good fats right? Right, so Naked Truth’s range of cocoa dusted scorched almonds are sure to be a huge hit with me when I open them up later on!

 

In terms of chocolate and how much I love the stuff, I would give this product a great recommendation. If you can get to Coles, buy some immediately! 🙂

Check out the website of The Naked Truth to see all of their beautiful products.

naked

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall-Kelly [REVIEW]

lilac girls

I read a really important book this week: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and I recommend it to anyone who has the will to learn about history and to become engulfed by some purely wonderful reading.

Three girls from three different lifestyles from three different countries cross paths during the rigours of World War II.

From Goodreads:

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten

Review:

I could not put this book down – I read 350 pages of it in one Sunday afternoon sitting (it did help that I have been sick and almost bed-ridden). I am a sucker for a good historical fiction any day of the week, but Martha Hall Kelly smashed this one right out of the park.

This book was written beautifully and from the perspective of all three women throughout important and poignant stages of their lives. As I read this book, I began to realise, without knowing too much, that this story was built on true events and actual people. I began to read some, research some and so on … I was so excited to realise that socialite, Caroline Ferriday was a real person!

I felt so connected to each character and so entranced by each of their stories and felt the heart break of both Caroline and especially Kasia. I had to keep turning the pages to see what would happen next, as well as cross referencing the actual historical version of events.

Martha Hall Kelly wrote the horrors of what the Nazi’s had subjected the Lilac Girls to, how the healthy young body’s were defiled and violated. She added colour and tone to facts and events that took place at Ravensbrück concentration camp as well as the Neuremberg Trials where Herta Oberheuser met her fate for the crimes that she had committed against humanity.

The portrayal of Caroline Ferriday was beautiful and easily imaginable. At first her chapters felt a bit dry, but as her plight began to unravel, I fell in love with her heart – the way she used her social standing for her cause and her unrelenting loyalty to those who were in need. I learned the most about Caroline Ferriday while researching for myself and saw that who she really was, is very accurate to how the author of Lilac Girls portrayed her.

lilac girls

The real Caroline Ferriday with the real Lilac Girls

I feel like this book was so cleverly put together and have an immense respect for the commitment and research that Martha Hall Kelly put in to make this book as beautiful and as brilliant as it is. Not only did I become engrossed in the story, but I also learned things about World War II that I didn’t know without it feeling like an overwhelming block of wordy information.

Over all, this has got to be one of the best books I have ever read. I was so grateful to receive an advanced readers copy from the legends over at Penguin Random House Australia – probably my most favourite book that I’ve received since beginning this blog. I don’t generally give books 5 stars, but I’ve been incredibly lucky to have read what have been two consecutive five star books.

I am going to recommend this book to everyone starting right here! Thank you Martha Hall Kelly for bringing the story of Caroline Ferriday and the Lilac Girls to light — another important story of devastation, bravery and heroism from the past that really needs to have more of a spotlight.

Girl In Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow: Book Review

You can check over my reading history – you’ll see that it’s rare that I give anything a 5 star rating.

I don’t give things five star ratings in most cases because I am a no-shit, hard-to-please bitch.

I have so many things to say about this book and I’m not gonna lie to you, they’re mostly good and they’re real things and maybe it’s going to be personal, so if that’s gonna make you uncomfortable, stop reading now.

To quote the words of the only woman that I would ever truly turn officially gay for, Mariah Carey; Thank God, I found you I was lost without you. My feelings for Girl in Pieces are that real.

pieces

Kathleen Glasgow is amazing. She is amazing for a whole bunch of reasons, but I think we should celebrate the most important reason and it is this; she was brave enough to write something so raw and what would be so personally challenging and probably emotionally exhausting.

Girl In Pieces was about a young girl, not even an adult, who by circumstances, finds herself in situations that no person should have to endure; her coping strategies are self-harm which is where the book begins, 17 year old Charlie’s stay in a mental health facility, trying to deal cope with all of her issues and struggles.

This book reads like the mind of anyone going through a mental health illness and I have read similar books of the same nature that are written in the same way — it is pretty much an accuracy of dealing with mental health issues – it’s how the mind works; fleeting thoughts, repetitive feelings, anger, sadness, upset, calmness; rinse, wash, repeat.

I have read a few previous reviews for Girl in Pieces that angered me; I’m not looking to disrespect anyone, but all I’m saying is don’t do the book a disservice by rating it low because you don’t ‘connect’ with it. You’re not ‘connecting’ and you’re pulling it apart and saying that it’s too much bad stuff, because you haven’t dealt with real, debilitating and serious mental health issues because if you have/did, you would understand, that as Glasgow put it to me over twitter (yes, I know, I was a little fangirly about that) ‘some girls do not have an easy life.’

It’s true.

Girl in Pieces was realistic and an accurate portrayal of someone who is struggling with and who has struggled with mental health illness and still requires help after the hospital stay is over, after the doctors have concluded that you are no longer a threat to yourself. Girl in Pieces is about how sometimes we think we are going so well but can’t see the tiny bits of backsliding that are slowly but surely happening. This book is about the process of recovery – about how it isn’t and will never be perfect and that a cure is not within the realm of possibility.

Thank God for this book.

pieces

It brings truth and comfort to those who suffer mental health illness.

I have been on the search recently for fictional books that will accurately describe mental health issues and I have read a few that I didn’t bother reviewing based on how disappointed I was. Mental health isn’t a journey whereby the person is only sick until someone comes along and saves them and carries them off in to the fairytale sunset.

Whatever struggles encumber you, you will endure probably for a long time — it is just that with constant care and recovery, your coping skills become better and you live on the hope that all the things that you see in others will become a part of your life too; calmness, joy, happiness, laughter and a rational sadness that won’t spiral out of control.

As if it couldn’t get any better, I came across this quote and almost cried with relief;

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Charlie. Not one thing. Can’t you see that?”
But that’s a lie, isn’t it? Because there are so many things wrong with me, obviously and actually. What I want Mikey to say is: There are so many things wrong with you and it doesn’t matter.”

Fuck. Yes.

Sometimes this is the only reaction I want. For someone not to disregard flaws or fears or imperfections; to address them but to accept them unconditionally anyway. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is wrong; it’s truth, it’s not okay to pretend they’re not there to avoid discomfort.

This book had a realistic ending; not a fairytale ending.

And the personal authors note at the end of the book sealed the deal. Kathleen Glasgow was honest about her own experiences and offers hope and advice to those who are struggling.

Girl in Pieces is a hard read, its a dark read and it probably isn’t the book for some; it could even present as a trigger to someone going through something; but if you have mental health illness and you want to feel like you’ve been understood and fairly represented in terms of thoughts and feelings; I recommend this book to you. Maybe it won’t speak to you the way it spoke to me, but I hope that it will.

Five friggin’ stars.

My Secret Life Inside Scientology – Jenna Miscavige Hill

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing EscapeBeyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR THIS IS JUICY AS SHIT.

scientology

…. Actually not really. See what I did there? I totally excited you for a moment and you thought you were going to read something that would shatter everything you know and thought about scientology right here in this review right?

Wrong.

And that’s kind of how I felt about this book. Got me all excited to read things that I didn’t already know about scientology and how exposing this would be– and don’t get me wrong, there were things that I read in this book that made me furious and confused and frustrated — but never shocked.

I feel a little bit bad saying negative things about someone’s biography because you’re basically bitching about their experience. What you’re saying is, “your life experience is boring, make it more interesting!” so I’m not going to do that. This book is not boring by any means, but given the title, I think I expected to be shocked.

The thing is, what we as a collective community already know about Scientology is this;
L Ron Hubbard is a fraud.
Scientology is a giant pyramid scheme whereby the people at the top are the only ones seeing the money.
Celebrities buy in to Scientology because they have entirely way too much money and didn’t spend enough time at school discerning shit from clay.
Tom Cruise is an idiot.
L Ron Hubbard reckons that some Xenu from the planet he made up in one of his books is going to come back and help them all out.
They don’t believe in psychiatry (I know this because Tom Cruise said so, lol).

The rest of it seems far less ridiculous in comparison.

Jenna Miscavige is the neice of Dave Miscavige who had the job of taking over when L Ron Hubbard died. This book is the account of her moving with her family to become a part of the secretive “Sea Org”. Jenna and her brother were split from their parents from a young age and were forced to do manual labor as part of their contribution to the sea org and in most ways become responsible for themselves.

Children were give adult jobs and responsibilities and no real compassion was afforded to them from the higher up members.

This was probably the most alarming part of the book for me — children forced to grow up like little robots without all the things that children require to become well-adjusted adults. Given that Jenna and I are the same age, I was especially angry and frustrated reading how atypical her upbringing was from mine.

The clear and most evident thing from this book is how the church of scientology play divide and conquer among people who are not complying to their every whim and rule. The self esteems of those who didn’t follow the rules were entirely eroded until they had no choice but to ‘recognise’ the error of their own ways.

Given that I have grown up from my late teens and in to my adulthood as a mostly practicing Christian, I find it strange that this church is so secretive. If something is so wonderful and so good, why are the members so unwilling to speak loudly and proudly about the church? I don’t necessarily like get-in-your-face-preaching Christians, but I am not ashamed of my faith nor have I ever been unopen to critisism where it is due.

Jenna Miscavige was an incredibly strong-minded individual who had to be such in order to endure and accept the treatment that she was given within the church. She was equally lucky to meet someone within the confines of the divisive walls of the church who was able to see it for the fraud that it was.

I admired her will and her ability to stand up to those in charge in times of turmoil and solitude.

If you are looking for explosive stories, this probably isn’t the book for it, but if you are looking to read about whole the secretive sea org functions and are interested in learning about the church, then it’s a good read.

I liked it, but I felt at times it was a little tedious — as I said though, this is someone’s experience and it’s not really my right to critique that.

And lastly, can we revisit that scientologists think psychiatry and medicine is not a real thing? And that they know better? That they know that more than what we do when it comes to mental health? (And by we, I mean scientists who dedicate decades to their work on helping those live with mental health illness?)

scientology

Also, Tom Cruise is a dick.

Make-up Purse – My Daily Wear as per request

makeup

Make-up, Make-up, Make-up — it’s my other favourite thing to buy when I am not spending all my money on books. Buying clothes send me over the edge with self-esteem issues and so I just focus on letting my actual face say more than my unfashionable attire ever could.

But, I’ve been asked a few times what kind of make-up I wear. And they say like, oh my gosh, Jess, you are so lucky to be blessed with the genetic lottery that most parents could only dream of. No but honestly, I’ve had about four people ask me about my make-up. While I could probably just send the four of them a mass email, I figured I’d share some of my favourite make up products right here.

Also, it should be noted that my “make-up purse” is not so much of a purse as it is an entire bathroom vanity with used make-up wipes, products, earrings, hair pins / clips and combs strewn about messily — you know, a typical female boudoir. And it should also be noted that I am by no means a specialist of the make-up world. I have had no formal make-up lessons. I learn the very little techniques that I know from a couple of friends who are make-up artists.

This is a product post only (and I am not getting paid or endorsed by any brand, FYI).

So, I work in a day job that requires me to be in a first-point-of-contact type role so it’s probably better if I don’t scare the masses off by coming in to work without troweling my face on in the morning… so my daily look is something like this;

make-up

Yeah, that’s right. I totally made myself in to a GIF. I waited years for this to happen to me. Only, I didn’t really consider that I would be having to do the work myself; I figured it’d be at the hands of some kind of offensive comment I’d made in private to a BFF that would turn viral when she turns her back on me and shares it with a friend– who then shares it with two more friends and then that friend of the friends of my BFF post it online and then- oh, I think I made the point. I had to make the GIF myself.

I chose this gif over a photo because the video is what prompted the first two people to ask me about my make up and the one I got most compliments on. (You can see the video here)

I spend the most time making sure my eyes are perfect. Liquid eyeliner is my bestfriend. I’ve never been able to achieve the full “flick” that I want to, but I feel like I don’t need to figure that out unless I’m going to some rockabilly party (let’s be honest, this is never going to happen, I don’t know any rockabilly people that might invite me to one). My other favourite staple make-up piece is red friggin’ lipstick.

I used to be sooooo self-conscious about wearing red lipstick for all its smudging and bullshit, but I since discovered long-last/shine lipstick that is the key to making it work. (This sounds like an infomercial now: “I used to hate going out in public for fear of people noticing that I had taken a shit in my pants, ever since I got this adult diapers, I can shit my pants allll day long and nobody has to know!”) But more about that later.

The Products:

Face Moisturiser: I use this because I have particularly dry skin at times. I don’t have a preference of which one to use, but I am a big fan of Soap & Glory moisturisers for dry skin. I put this on my t-zone first just so that my BB cream doesn’t flake off during the day. Nobody likes that look…

BB Cream / Foundation 

I used to always say that if the product is cheap, I won’t put it near my skin. But that doesn’t explain why when I wear anything from MAC as a foundation, I wind up looking like an oompa loompa under natural light — or why my pores smell MAC foundation and break out at the mere intention of using it. I won’t touch anything from Maybelline, Revlon, etc — I went through a (misguided) phase where I thought using Napoleon’s foundation stick was okay (it was not) or that liquid foundation from Benefit was okay (again, it was not, looked orange, every time). So, one day while buying some products in the Chanel Emporium, I was given a sample of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra Light Skin Perfecting Make-Up (Beige Rose for anyone interested). In Australian dollars, I believe its around the $80-90 mark.

make-up

It’s beautiful. You can wear it incredibly lightly or you slap it on with a trowel if it pleases you and it wears all day.

However, since it’s too beautiful and expensive to wear every day, I decided to try out this BB cream phase everyone is carrying on about. I just took the plunge and bought a NYX BB cream on a whim one day and it cost me around $18.95 — and huzzah! It is great! It gives me light or heavy coverage, depending on how awful my skin looks for that day.

Best of all? Neither of these make me look like a giant mud face who hasn’t taken a bath in a week. Even if I haven’t taken a bath in a week.

make-up

Blush: 

I hate bronzer. Bronzer is the devil. It makes mud faces look even more muddier (IMO) and when people don’t use it properly, they just look like they’re in the middle of contouring their face to look like one of the Kardashians. I am ALL about the blush! I love having cute rosey cheeks.

I wear a blush by Chanel – Blush Horizon de Chanel. I only need a tiny bit and over a year I’ve barely made a dent in it. It also comes with an awesome compact mirror so I can check my fine self out all day long to make sure I don’t have a stalk of broccoli caught in my teeth or something. I also have a nice blush from The Body Shop too, but I think my Chanel one has superceded it.

chanel_blushhorizon001

Eyes:

My eyes are important. I reckon if your eyes look great, it can change the whole look of your face. Like, I feel like my face looks dirty when I have clean eyes. So the eye products should be like a friggin’ whole post on its own.

Primer: MAC paint. I know I gave MAC a bit of a gentle jibing (dragging) above, but honestly, I like most of their products, its just that their Mascara and Foundation has been a let down for me in the past. Before MAC became the international sensation that it is now, I had heard about it from an American friend that was living in Australia. She had me go and pick up some products for her on a particular occasion. I remember at 21, balking at the price. Shortly after, I returned home from a trip to the U.S.A and while I was killing time in duty-free, I stumbled upon a MAC store and found that the products in Australia was up to two times more even after the currency conversion. I picked a whole bunch of different things — mascara, pigments, paints, eye shadows and so forth — the miracle I found was actually the paint.

make-up

Honestly, it’s been more than 10 years since I discovered this product and I still have found nothing that works quite like it. People have recommended a primer by Urban Decay, but since I don’t live anywhere near a Sephora or anywhere else that retails UD, I am sticking with what I know best. Mac Paint can be used sparingly. A little bit goes a very, very long way. I have bought it three times in 10 years and wear it on an almost-daily basis. It glides on (I am so uncultured, I use my fingers) easily and it allows your make-up to remain crease-free all day. Once I actually went to bed without taking my eye-make up off (lol, let’s not lie here, I’ve done this more than once) and when I woke up, my eye make-up was still perfect. The colour that I use is Blank Canvas (not pictured) which is a neutral base colour.

Shadow-wise, I’m a bit boring. Gone are the days where I used to get around wearing bright-ass colours (my favourite was green). I now use a copper pigment made by MAC. Yep, can’t beat the MAC pigments. I have been wearing them again for over 10 years and again, a little tiny bit goes a very long way and perhaps when used with MAC Paint it is the reason why it lasts so long without disturbance.

make-up

Also, on a trip to Sydney earlier in the year, I did make a stop to Sephora with my friend and I needed to buy a couple of different eyeshadows. I tried out a few things (it’s weird that in Sephora no one helps you apply make-up, that instead they point in the general direction of the applicators and tell you how to go with it — umm, thanks for your lack of help, this really makes me want to buy something…. or maybe I wasn’t hot or young enough to get the right service? Don’t they know that a person in their 30s has way more money to spend than the teenager with her gaggle of girlfriends? Who knows!) and came away with the Kat Von D Shade & Light Palette

This Palette is highly pigmented and has been a great add-on to my daily make-up. If I feel like doing things a bit more special, I use one of the darker colours at the 3rd quarter of my eyelids and then use a brighter colour in my eyelid crease and blend it all together and it is really quite easy to apply. I’m not an expert, so I figure if I can handle it and not look much like a clown, anyone can. My favourite colour in this palette to use is the very bottom left colour.

make-up

Eyeliner – I don’t have a specific one that I use — I feel like I can’t go wrong using any kind of liquid eyeliner. I am using the NYX fat marker at the moment and I go between that and a Loreal one I picked up on special. I also use a pencil for my water line on the bottom. With liquid liner, I like them in pen form and the brush has to be soft or else I’ll look like a child colouring their eyes in with a crayon.

make-up

Benefit Roller Lashes

I used to use Benefit cosmetics in my early adult years but it just appears like a teenage girl brand and I guess I strayed away from it purely for that reason — I’m ready to be proven wrong of course if anyone can recommend anything, but I don’t know how I feel about this one, to be honest. It works nicely and does give my eyelashes a nice lift, but it has the potential to get very gluggy if you don’t apply it with just the right amount. I bought this cos it was a cheap alternative to the Chanel one that I use and friggin’ adore. It does it’s job I suppose but I don’t think its anything that special. I also received a sample of this from Sephora, I think that’s the only reason why I bought it. I think next time I will try a mascara from NARS.

benefit roller lash

Chanel Rouge – Double Intensite Ultra Wear Lip 

This is amazing. I love this lipstick so much. It fetches for around $50 but I don’t care. I own three of them and I love them so much! Like the MAC Paint, I’ve gone to bed with this on and woken up with it entirely undisturbed. I have to use some lip conditioner or a make-up wipe for oil-y skin to get this off and that’s just the way I want it. It’s a double ended lip gloss with a shine finish that doesn’t feel tacky once it dries.

I am a big fan of reds, so I have three different shades of red in this. The range isn’t incredible, I wish they’d release more (bright pinks, nude pinks, etc) and I hope they never retire it. I put this on before work and its still there when I get home and you don’t have to worry about it smudging over the course of the day cos it doesn’t happen. The only thing that will cause this lipstick to wear, is anything oil-y. I don’t have to worry about that cos I rarely eat oil-y foods during the day (I wait til I’m alone to shove bs food in my pie-hole). 🙂

chanel double intensity

 

I want to give an honorable mention to two other products–

Chanel no 5 Perfume –– my boyfriend bought this for me a few Christmas’ ago and it is my favourite fragrance. I wear it in special occasions now because I am running low.
Chanel no 5 Hair Mist – The. Best. Thing. Ever. It’s essentially perfume for your hair. It’s a love or hate fragrance. I love it. I want to walk around sniffing my own scalp all day ….

Use all these products and you can look like a giant n00b like me 😀

make-up

Upon scrolling up, I realise this mostly reads like an advert for Chanel… but its not, its just my taste for make-up so far. So, there you have it — it turned out to be a more involved post than I earlier expected… now I must dash.

 

Dane Cobain on Indie Authors & Why it’s a tough gig

indie

Hi, folks!

My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m an indie author, poet and musician from the UK. I’m here today to talk about indie authors, money, and how the two of them rarely come together. The truth is, it’s almost (almost, but not quite!) impossible for an indie author to make any money from their work, and I think that’s a shame.

And the problem isn’t really down to the readers – after all, there are a lot of keen readers out there who are buying, sharing and supporting the work of indie authors. The problem is with the process itself – you see, it’s not easy to release a book. You might think that the hard work ends after you’ve spent a couple of years planning and writing the damn thing, but that’s not true at all.

For a book to be ready to go to market, you need to work with a professional editor to make sure that your manuscript is perfectly polished, and you also need to find a good cover designer to make the book stand out. Both of these require a cash investment, unless you’re lucky and you’re able to cut a deal with someone. But you can’t cut corners and edit your own work – even if you’re an editor yourself. You need that level of objectivity, and you need to get a second pair of eyes to look at it.

Cover designs also cost a little extra because you need to cover the usage rights for the images. And then once that’s done, you have to think about the cost of ISBNs etc., as well as some of the other little bits and bobs that are associated with publishing costs.

And then there are marketing costs – for example, if you send your books out to bloggers, you need to cover the basic cost of the book and then the postage, which all adds up. If you run competitions then you need to worry about the prizes. Even paying for web hosting and a domain name can add up, over time.

Oh, you make a little money back, of course. You earn a percentage back from each sale, and you can sell physical copies at events for a profit. I’d estimate that I make somewhere in the region of £30-50 per month in profit from royalties and sales, but I spend around £50-75 on sales and marketing.

And it’s not just me, either – I’m friends with literally dozens (if not hundreds!) of authors, and I only know one or two who are able to support themselves through their writing alone. Even then, they’re supplementing the income that they make from book sales with freelance writing work and other consultancy services.

The fact is, unless you already have a huge social media following – YouTubers, I’m looking at you – then you’re always going to struggle to sell enough books to make a living from it. And unfortunately, new publishers are starting to focus on marketing potential rather than on the ability of the author when they sign new people to the books (no pun intended).

It’s capitalism in action, and it’s just the way that the world works, but it does make it more difficult for indie authors. As for myself, I work from 9-5:30 at a marketing agency, and work from 6:30 until midnight most evenings, as well as 14-16 hours a day at the weekend, if I’ve got nothing planned.

It’s hard work being an author, and it’s often financially unrewarding. But we don’t write for the money. We write because we’re compelled to write. That’s just how it is.

But it’s okay, because you can do your bit – buy a book from an indie author. The royalties will almost give them enough money to buy half a pint of beer, and you’ll get a book out of it, too!

You can check out Dane’s social media and website by clicking on the following links:

Dane Cobain – Website
@DaneCobain
Facebook Page