MJFANGIRL.COM – My Guest Post

I recently did a guest post for my long-time friend from New York, Isha. I talked about my experience meeting Michael Jackson in 2002.

MJFanGirl Blog is a really cool little corner of the internet that is well thought out and full of very cool information about Michael Jackson’s career. What sets it apart is not the fact that its not full of saturated adoration and tangents about how beautiful MJ is (which let’s be honest, we all think he was, lol, but not the point) its the kind of blog that allow us to learn more about the small details of his career that a casual fan probably wouldn’t know about.

 

Go ahead and read my post. 🙂

http://www.mjfangirl.com

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

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

 

Book Tag –

tag

 

You know you’ve made it in the blogging world when someone thinks to tag you in one of their posts! .. Okay, maybe I haven’t made it and maybe no one sends me as many ARCs as the next blogger nor do I get lots of stuff for free, but I do love a cute little tag from one of my beautiful blogging counterparts.

So, Lys from over at The Mad Reader has tagged me in her post and so here I go… completing this tag using only Chelsea Handler gifs to convey my feelings.

 

Pick a book that started off bitter but got better

The Girls by Emma Cline. I read a lot of snarky and bad reviews about this book but I was determined to give it a go. It was slow to start. It was unnecessarily flowery and some of the metaphors really just made me want to punch myself in the groin.

But overall, as the book progressed and the plot unraveled and the character’s developed, I enjoyed it more and more and was able to look past the flowery descriptiveness.

l46CeDRLolYb0zqzm

Pick a book that made you smile beyond compare

Funny that I chose Chelsea Handler gifs to convey this post because all of her books make me laugh and smile. It’s rare that I laugh out loud at a book– but her books are absolutely hilarious. Some chapters I have had to screen shot and pass on to friends so that they too, can share in the hilarity. Chelsea is dry-humoured and funny, that is probably the best thing about her. So, for this one, I choose her second book, Chelsea, Chelsea Bang Bang – Chelsea Handler 

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Pick a book set in a foreign country

One of my favourite ever books — Girl At War by Sara Novic. This book is set in the Yugoslavia during the 1990s war between Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. It was a beautifully written book that describes this area of the world for exactly what it was before the war and what has taken so long to build back. For me, its slightly personal given my Croatian heritage.

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

 

Pick a book in which a mysterious or shady character was first introduced

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh.

Hilarious, fucked-up, twisted, psychopathic, brilliant. From the beginning of this book, Lucy Brennan the MC is a total sociopath and she only unravels quickly as the plot begins to develop. As with most Irvine Welsh books, the plot is crazy but its so incredibly good! And FYI, the book has absolutely nothing to do with the sex lives of siamese twins (everyone always raises an eyebrow at me when I mention this book).

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Pick a book that was grainy and the plot barely developed

Ugh. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This book took me an entire year to read. It was so slow, so shit, so not what all the Goodreads reviews promised me. I understand that this is an incredible controversial view to have — but it was just such a misrepresentation of fans in general.

Close second to this was My Favourite Manson Girl — I turned the pages and kept waiting for the exciting, amazing and spectacularly unique story to unravel and then I got to the last page and was like, oh? that’s it? right. And then I went back to Goodreads (on both accounts) to see that maybe I’d read the reviews wrong or got the books confused — but no, apparently these two books are front runners of YA.

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Pick a character(s) that was full of life and made you smile

As much as she was really irritating in some essences of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes — I would have to say that Louisa Clark was full of life and made me smile especially in the sequel, After You. She could sometimes be over the top and embarrassing, but she had a beautiful heart and a lot of things that could have really kept her kicking a rock about and I always look for that kind of positivity and warmth in people in my own real life.

 

Pick a book that had some juicy secrets

I really can’t think of a book where a character or plot held a secret… Maybe I’ll give an honorable mention to Attachments by Rainbow Rowell — I disliked this book but mostly I think I dislike anything this author has to offer (no offence, its just that her books seem so vapid and simplified for me) but in terms of secrets, this book was full of them, mostly some creeper dude going through two people’s emails and reading everything about them like a peeping tom staring through a window every night — but just like, the technology version of invading someone’s privacy to that degree (and then the MC falls in love with him and is okay with all of this!?)

stupid

 

Pick a book that had a vast, big universe / setting

Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

I love this book, I love this book, I love this book! The alternate universe of this book is spectacular and descriptive unlike the unnecessary way that The Girls was written — I have such a brilliant imagery of the universe of where this story takes place! There is nothing snarky to say about this book imo. It was perfect.

 

Pick a book in which a character was portrayed as a hunk

Pretty much any novel where a male is involved, they’re a hunk. Its a bit boring. What about the guy who’s maybe not iron man, but who is kind, generous and loyal AF?! Honestly, its unrealistic for the school dork to be good at listening, good at being a supportive boyfriend and be incredibly hot — not to mention smart enough to be a Dr or a computer hacker.

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Pass on the tag

I tag Sophie, Hollie and Jenny

After You – Jojo Moyes (Book Review)

Jojo moyes

I couldn’t figure out how on earth Jojo Moyes could possibly follow the story of Louisa Clark and the tragic romance with Will Traynor. I thought that it would be one of those attempts at squeezing as much out of a done-and-dusted story as possible, trying to continue the ride on the success of Me Before You

Yep, now I’m just being a bitch.

Jojo Moyes

But honestly, I couldn’t see how this was going to work.

But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. I actually had to go back and re-rate Me Before You, because upon reflection, I realised how clever the novel truly was and despite a few of Louisa’s annoying quirks, I actually thought it was a beautifully written, emotive novel.

So Jojo Moyes brings us back to Louisa Clark around a year after everything that transpired with Will. She is struggling with her grief and is just going through the motions of life. She feels as though she hasn’t quite kept up with her promise to Will. She’s traveled, she’s lived abroad and been to all the tourist attractions that were on her list, but still feels a void.

“I loved a man who had opened up a world to me but hadn’t loved me enough to stay in it.” 

She ends back in England, living in London and living a mundane life.

After a chance encounter, Louisa meets Sam, the attending paramedic who has just lost his wife and is surprised by a visitor who she could have never expected on her doorstep.

This book is a book about dealing with grief more than much else and for this reason I found it to be incredibly emotional and even at times upsetting, as certain elements seemed to hit me, personally.

“I think people get bored of grief,” said Natasha. “It’s like you’re allowed some unspoken allotted time — six months, maybe — and then they get faintly irritated that you’re not ‘better’. It’s like you’re being self-indulgent hanging on to your unhappiness” 

Jojo Moyes

Honestly? I think Jojo Moyes is a genius with this one. It is so succinct.

I think this is my favourite quote from the book. It is so accurate in life. People give up on you if you can’t shake your sadness within the quota of time that they have privately allotted for you. They stop asking, they take a step back and they are so afraid of being polluted by your grief that they disappear from your life until you have recovered.

Louisa was far less annoying in this novel and her parents weren’t as bad, but her Mum is still a basket-case. There was also an impressive character development of Camilla Traynor that I was pleased to see as she was painted as an evil, sterile bitch in Me Before You.

I read 78% of this book in bed last night because I couldn’t put it down. I would probably venture to say that I liked it more than Me Before You! Crazy, right?

There was only one quote that made me laugh/cringe;

“I wanted to resist him, but I couldn’t. I was giddy, diverted, sleepless. I got cystitis and didn’t care”

Jojo Moyes

Ummm… I was sure she was referring to the fact that she had so much sex that she developed cystitis. Let me tell you something, as a chronic cystitis/UTI sufferer, anyone who develops an infection to a degree of cystitis is definitely going to care. That shit is no joke and if you are too careless with it, you’ll end up with a nasty kidney infection like that of what I am actually trying to get through.

Very odd sentence, indeed!

Besides that, I feel like Jojo Moyes did a truly fantastic job with this novel conveying the stages of grief and how there’s no true coffee-cup, over-night solution or recovery.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review

Audrey

 

Finding AudreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Audrey 14 years-old and suffers some unnamed anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. She wears sunglasses because she can’t bear anybody to see her eyes.

Her mother is bat-shit insane and her Dad couldn’t be less interested in the family if he tried. Her brother is obsessed with video games and her younger brother fills a couple of pages here and there with his cute-and-tantrum-y antics.

This is a book about a girl who is going through the motions of mental health issues and trying hard to beat it. I chose to read it because I have been looking to find fictional novels that can accurately document a person(s) fight with mental health that doesn’t necessarily have to have a happy ending.

This is Sophie Kinsella’s first Young Adult novel and I felt like it was an easy read and I wanted to keep going to see how it would all unfold.

But honestly — I’m surprised with how fast it became a romance novel (but I’m not surprised that it was a romance novel, the blurb pretty much made this clear). Audrey meets Linus, a friend of her older brothers. Linus has a ‘crazy’ grandmother therefore he is able to be compassionate to Audrey’s ‘crazy’ ways.

It moved really fast. Audrey went from having anxiety attacks each time a new person would walk in the door — to pashing Linus in her den, where she spent time in the dark trying to relax. It seemed that she went from not being able at him, to sitting in his lap and going for it in a matter of a few pages.

That to me, kind of cheapened the idea of her mental health issue.

However, what this book did justice was bits and pieces of how people respond to their own mental health. When Audrey started to feel good, she took herself off her medication — something of a vicious cycle for anyone who has had to be medicated for their mental health. Set backs; this is a realistic part of having mental health issues — you feel wonderful and then you don’t. When you’re up, you’re very up and you feel like nothing can bring you down.

Until it does.

All this happened to Audrey which was an accurate depiction of mental health illness

My issue with this book was that while Audrey spent a lot of time in therapy, the only time she made progress with her anxieties was when she realised a boy was interested in her. All of her challenges in stepping back in to the real world were because she felt as though he was her strength. Considering that Audrey is just fourteen and her boyfriend is fifteen, this is unrealistic and irritating — it’s nice to have a romance, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how just that alone forced her in to getting better and just how quickly the slip would be if something were to go wrong.

did love this book and maybe I was overthinking it, but I am a little bit tired of YA novels where the cute boy saves the day. How about an ending where Audrey gets better because Audrey pushes herself rather than finding the strength in someone else to push her?

Audrey was definitely a loveable character and this book was cute and fluffy just like all of the Sophie Kinsella books that I have previously read.

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