Big Little Lies HBO TV Series – Review Without Pity

Big Little Lies is an book-to-TV adaptation made for the HBO network which in Australia is exclusive only to Foxtel or Apple iTunes. If you haven’t read the book or watched the TV show, you should probably read this review of the book first.

I would like to start this review by saying that on a whole I enjoyed this TV series. I binge-watched it on my day off work a week ago and I enjoyed it after I got through the first episode where Nicole Kidman has noisy/violent/weird sex with Alexander Skarsgaard. It is also important to note that I enjoy watching Real Housewives of Sydney and I have been known to dabble in an episode of the Kardashians or other such spin offs.

In addition, I think Game of Thrones is boring, so… my recommendation should really come to you with a grain of salt or little-to-zero trust.

Disclaimer aside; I would like to say that the casting was strange.

I can’t really take Reese Witherspoon all that seriously since I’ve seen her bend and snap and act like a giant bimbo in the movie about her chihauha and pink clothes blond hair and law, or whatever it was. Or that one movie where Selma Hyak and her brother Ryan Phillipe got it on. She was cast as Madeline, the most highly strung of the three mothers. In the book Madeline comes across as about as old as Nicole Kidman — a bit of a wise mother-bear who takes Jane under her wing. She is slightly annoying at times, but is overall a very likeable.

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Reese Witherspoon as Madeline made me want to shove a fork in my eye. How’s that for irony!? (C’mon, you have to be able to see what I did there). She was rude, obnoxious, reactive, spoiled, selfish and had absolutely no self-awareness. She played a comical version of the serious Madeline from the book — a little annoying.

Aaaaand Nicole Kidman — choose an accent and stick to it, woman — you’re either pretending to be American or you’re Australian. She plays the role of Celeste. Celeste is painted out to be a young and effortlessly beautiful woman. I’m not saying that Nicole Kidman is not beautiful, because she is… in that same kind of way that Tilda Swinton is. Her husband Perry is played by Alexander Skarsgaard who’s last performance I can remember was in True Blood where I saw his naked arse more times than I’ve seen my own. So, you have two very fair people having very very pasty white, violent, weird, loud, is-she-in-pain-is-she-enjoying-this sex.

Together their scenes caused so much glare that I picked up new radio signals.

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Weird match. Oh, and also, she played a cougar.

Shailene Woodley played Jane and I have nothing snarky to say about that, she was probably a perfect pick.

The guy that played Madeline’s husband was a guy who I have only ever seen playing obnoxious comical characters in Will Ferral movies, so there is that.

The show itself was very good and while it may not have been minute-by-minute accurate to the book, it was still quite enjoyable. Madeline’s daughter Chloe was played by a cute little girl who had a lot of attitude. The character was precocious and I would probably take an instant dislike to her if she existed in real life.

Ziggy, Jane’s daughter was adorable and he played his role very, very well.

The opening credits of the show are weird and comical with all the women dressed up as different versions of Audrey Hepburns — it seemed like it was the opening for a satire show.

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My biggest annoyance was the way it ended. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending was completely rewritten. A revelation occurred that changed the way the truth came out. The way it was written in the book made much, much more sense than the way it played out on the show. I believe if you have watched the show for the first time and aren’t paying complete and utter full attention, you won’t pick up the realisation that registers with one of the characters and for me that was the entire crux of the book.

What I think was the best thing about the entire TV show is actually the sound track. To download/buy/stream, the soundtrack comprises of about 12 mediocre songs, when if you search a couple of articles that last all the songs by order of episode, you can put together a very, very cool sound track.

That’s what I did!

I still recommend this show — but I recommend the book first. I’m not the sort of person that cant disassociate one from the other, but I feel like if you read the book you can get the broader picture of the story but still enjoy them both.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

Big Little Lies placed #1 on the New York Times best seller list.

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I have to admit, that I am not the kind of person that takes notice of hype — I think I have mentioned before, I am kind of a hype-avoider as a general rule.

However, Big Little Lies interested me based on the title alone. When I read the blurb, I thought it would be an easy read that would interest me based on the stupidity of school mums– that competitive nature of women who all seem to judge each others choices. As a childless woman in her 30s, I always marvel at how ridiculous and unrealistic that world seems to be (however, I have been assured that it is very, very much a ‘thing’).

Big Little Lies is about the blooming friendship between three women who are lead very different lives but who come together by chance and sheer luck of where their children go to school. Jane is new to town and is mistaken instantly as a nanny by one of the working mothers. Madeline is the comical breath of fresh air — the kind of mother bear who will look out for others and who really takes pride in stopping at nothing to defend those that she aligns herself with. Celeste is portrayed as a trophy wife who is the mother of twin boys with a husband that is enviable to those around her.

The story unfolds after Jane’s son is accused of hurting another child — the ramifications of the accusation and the defence of Jane’s son divide the parents at the school, escalating to an untimely murder.

Each chapter shares a different view of each of the three mother’s lives — unraveling their secrets and lies right up until the death of a parent who is not identified.

The book is written in chapter form with experts of police interviews with all of the mothers and father’s present at the time the death took place. Everyone’s interpretation of the event varies from comical to ridiculous, magnifying the kinds of stereotypes of judgmental mothers that exist in the day-to-day politics of the school Mum0sphere.

loved this book.

I couldn’t get enough of it. It did take me a little while to get through but I was so happy with the ending — it wrapped up nicely without feeling like another ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Imagine my surprise when I realise that there is a Big Little Lies HBO series on Foxtel that has brought this book to life?!

If you want to know how the two compare, brace yourself for my ‘Big Little Lies without pity’ post at the end of the week. It will be part of my book vs movie/tv show blogs once a week (or as often as time allows).

Did you read this book? How did you feel about it?

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.

Retail Counter Bitches, Calm Down!

I am going on a mini holiday next week that to be honest, I am very ready for.

We are going to Queensland to catch some sun and some water and probably to drown our sorrows and no doubt give myself the world’s worst bladder infection that I’ll be crying about for weeks to come – but the state of my bladder is another story for another day.

hate shopping. I am in that phase where my clothes are a tiny bit too tight and nothing feels like it looks good on me. Ordinarily, I’m not overly self-conscious, but I am about to turn 33 in less than a week’s time and I am starting to feel a bit … yech.

I think it’s important for me to establish a few things;

retailI do not look my age. Not to be confused with I don’t think I look my age. I don’t. I am around 4’8ft tall. I act young and I look young as evidenced by every second customer who seems shocked when I tell them that I’m well introduced to my thirties.

I may be short, but I am a curvy little somethin’ somethin’. Even when I was at my thinnest, I had wide hips, a bubble butt and boobs. And to be honest, I don’t detest those things.

In saying all of that, finding clothes at the moment feels incredibly difficult and every shopping endeavour turns in to a saga where I feel ugly, huge and overweight. I am only a size 14 in the leg/butt area which to my understanding is a u.s size 12. I also have a small waist which makes getting paints, shorts or skirts a little annoying (a lot annoying).

I am not fat nor am I unfit for my health situation – I work out with a trainer almost every single week and then a couple times a week on my own accord. I squat like f… I have worked hard to turn my ass flab in to a well-toned, well-rounded behind that would make Kim K’s fake arse look ridiculous. I’m pretty proud of it, tbh.

However, I don’t have that A-type body. I’m not between the age of 16-21. I am not tall, lean or so fresh-faced with the aroma of fruit-scented lipgloss following me around that for some odd reason store-clerks seem to gravitate toward.

Today I was looking for some skirts, shorts or some cute t-shirts/tops to take away with me that would last me all summer. I also wanted to head to the MAC store so I could buy some lipstick, primer and perhaps a couple of other things. For this reason, I went completely bare-faced without make up so that the store-clerk wouldn’t have to clean make up off my face to try something for me.

I know, I know — what was I thinking? For your reference, this is who I am — curves and all:

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This is my trying on a pencil skirt which somehow ended up looking like a pair of tights but anyway, that’s another story.

I make my first stop at the MAC store. I won’t name which one it is, because I’m not an asshole like that — but basically looking like the above, I walked right up to the counter and requested the primer that I needed. (Bare Canvas, Mac Paint). Without a word, the girl, staring through me with her blank expression walked over to the drawer, pulled the stock out and went to head over to the counter to ring it up.

She then thought to ask (and last thought), “Is there anything else?”

“Yes please, I am just wanting to look at some matte lipsticks.” she walks me over to the lipstick counter and asked me what colour. I offer that I have a large collection of heaps of different shades of red. Like red red. She starts pulling out random browns and nudes — I was a bit confused, so I took them commented that they were nice but I was looking for a red. She shows me one, super red. I say that I like it, I decide to take it.

A young girl less than half my age walks up to the counter and I almost got left on my own without my items being rung up so that she could run and test make up on her. I asked her more questions like, how long does the lipstick last? I have been used to very good, long lasting lipstick. The whole time this girl stared over me like she was better than me, like she couldn’t believe she had to be subjected to such dumb questions.

“Depends on the person who’s wearing it….”

I almost rolled my eyes. Like, settle down, you’re working in retail for probably less than $20 per hour, you touch people’s disgusting faces all day long and probably, going by your need to only stretch yourself to teenagers, don’t sell much product. You hardly have the right to make me feel like I’m a nothing girl.

And actually? The lasting of a lipstick doesn’t depend on the person who’s wearing it. It depends on quality and how often someone smacks their lips, touch or lick their lips.

I wanted to try liquid eyeline, I wanted to buy a new blending brush. I wanted to try a new pigment — but given her urgency to ring me up and move me along, I left feeling both transparent and awful about myself.

My next stop was a store called Cotton On — I am not going to lie, the clothes here aren’t incredible quality. They are made specifically for skinny girls but I am able to buy some tank tops and stuff — their jeans go up to a size 14 and no larger which is laughable considering their idea of a size 14 is probably more of a 12. I have a big butt and wide hips, those jeans can barely make it past my friggin’ knees — so I should have known I was setting myself up.

I am not kidding, I roamed that store for a better half of 45 minutes. I tried on more than 15 things. I tried to persevere because usually if I don’t fit the first two things, I have a tantrum, a cry about my stupid body and promptly leave in a bad mood. While I roamed that store, I watched dozens of young girls get asked if assistance was needed in the change rooms, even looking for clothes on the racks … not a single time did anyone ask me if I needed assistance, even when I struggled to carry all the clothes back to the racks (um, I’m doing your job for you, you could at least help).

I found four things out of about 15 which I guess counts as a win, but not before I started to feel a lot of self loathe.

(This is why I spend money on make up and less on clothes, at least I can make my face better…..).

Finally after paying the vapid staff member who spoke only to tell me the price, I left for the surf store.

Ahhh hallelujah. A store clerk that wasn’t a total twerp.

She came up to me as I entered; can she help? I was honest. “I have tried on about 52 things next door, I was given pretty shitty service at MAC, my self-esteem is a bit on the low side right now, I am just looking for some stuff I can take on a break that I could also wear through summer; some skirts, dresses — shorts as long as they don’t make me resemble a Russian weight lifter…..”

She was the best. She started pulling things from racks, took me to the change room, was incredibly nice about it if it didn’t fit or didn’t look good — eventually I spent almost $200…

And that’s the fucking difference in customer service. Honestly, I wanted to go home to bed and cry after my experience at Cotton On. I felt deflated and disgusting and then the sweetness and helpfulness of one person who recognised that I was pretty close to feeling like tears went out of her way, probably beyond the means of her job title to throw clothes at me and humour me each time I turned them down.

As a result of her service, I spent a fair bit of money that I wouldn’t normally spend on clothes.

Because she didn’t look through me, she didn’t write me off as someone who had couldn’t afford clothes (seriously, do I look like a hobo? Don’t answer that…).

My friend who is in her 40s and I often have this conversation — why store clerks continually look through older people especially in the cosmetics industry. Doesn’t it make more sense that we are the ones who actually have the will and the finances to spend big? Doesn’t it make better sense that someone my age has the actual need for make up rather than a 15 yr old who wants to wear foundation 3 shades too dark for her skin and trowel on layers upon layers of cheap Priceline make up? Sorry, but most MAC Cosmetics in Australia is not cheap. It’s on the price-y side and a teenager would have to save their pocket money for a few weeks to buy one or two things…. Maybe have a better idea of who can reasonably spend more money.

I will probably avoid MAC Cosmetics counters and stores in the future and instead, will just buy it online — that way I can get my products without feeling awful about myself in the meantime.

But like, get off your high horse, you work in retail – if you don’t want to deliver good customer service, don’t be there. Don’t make someone else feel bad just because you are on your feet all day long with your face caked looking like a snap chat filter because its a requisite of your job. You don’t know what someone else is going through in their daily life, you don’t know what words or what actions are going to send them away feeling like a piece of shit.

Just calm down, you may have made me feel shit today, but you are not better than me for any of those reasons.

Anyone would think this is how I turned up today.

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Thanks to the lovely lady in Ozmosis for making me feel better.

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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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September Book Haul & Wizard of Oz Creeper

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Oh, September, I promised I wouldn’t buy anymore books while you were visiting…

But oh well, I lied.

September

Really though, I have no reason to purchase anymore books for as at least the month of October and November … unless they’re at a bargain price…

I’m not the kind of person who reads to a schedule. A lot of book bloggers have their month mapped out in terms of what they plan on reading — but that’s not me, I’m not the ordered and organised type. My blog schedule is a mess, I don’t stick to my own plans, my social media is always in shambles — quite frankly, I’m surprised I can put my pants on the right way round in the morning.

And yet, somehow I manage to.

For that, I think we can all be thankful.

For the past few months I’ve been actively reading two books at a time – ask me a year ago and this would have been unheard of! Mixing characters and plots, sounds so… dirty. And yet, there is a method to my madness.

I use an e-Reader (Kindle, actually) when I read in bed at night so as not to keep company awake (my dog hates it when I leave the lamp on, she can’t sleep) and my vision in dim-light becomes even more impaired (and really, have you ever tried to wear your glasses laying down? Its actually not even an option, ridiculous!) and in the harsh light of day (hisssss!), I read my hardcopy book so as not to annoy anyone or destroy my vision.

I’ll tell you what, though, I bought “When The Moon Is Low” by Nadia Hashimi despite the fact that I’ve already read it (it is a beautiful story regarding Afghani refugees)… but all of these books here cost me well under $100.

So, fact about me; I am a really big fan of anything Wizard of Oz related. I mean, I liked the movie as a kid, but as an adult I’ve really appreciated the simplicity of it. We recently watched it and my boyfriend made fun of how ‘stupid’ it was and I had to point out that 1939 was a much different time – the Wizard of Oz was considered incredible for its time as was Judy Garland. I pointed out that he’s been ruined by movies full of blood, guts, sex and debauchery. Aside from that, I also love any other sub-stories that have been spun from the Wizard of Oz alternate universe.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire is my #1 favourite book. It was one of the first books that allowed me to understand that awful feeling of book grief that many people complain about.

So… imagine how I felt today when I had a quick browse through a local bargain bookshop and saw these three books for FIVE DOLLARS EACH.

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september

While I said that I don’t read to a monthly / September schedule or a pre-determined TBR list, I will probably read these three books next (maybe with something in between each, I am a glutton for everything that I love, I need to learn to pace myself).

I really, really hope that these will be wonderful books. I have read mixed reviews over at Goodreads, but those reviewers also tried to tell me that Irvine Welsh’s, Sex Lives of Siamese Twins was bad and that John Green’s Looking for Alaska was ah-may-zah-hing, so heh, I know not to trust most of them.

So I’ve read three books already this September and right now I’m in the middle of reading the Amy Schumer biography, Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. On paper she’s witty, intelligent and interesting – but I find her sometimes to be quite hypocritical in terms of her feminist views and practical approaches to certain issues. However, thankfully that’s not currently distracting from the book. On the kindle, I am reading The Time Travellers Wife finally after it has been recommended to me for years.

While I was on my bargain book shop, I also picked up this coffee table book for my Mum. She loves these comics and she doesn’t use the internet as much as she used to, so I figured a hardcopy version might give her a laugh or two.

September

After all that, I suppose more than posting about my book haul for September, I really probably just wanted to talk about how much I love Wizard of Oz alternate universe-based books/media.

Fun fact: I went through a stage where I was so obsessed with the Wicked Soundtrack, I made my fantasy Broadway actor cast for it in my head every day as I drove to work and of course I’d be the leading role of Elphaba and would choose the beautiful Fiyero to be played by the one and only Rent / Law & Order / The Flash broadway sensation, Jesse L Martin, and we’d sing the entire soundtrack together over and over and over — and ultimately fall in love on set and fly away on a broomstick together… and I’d stay home raising our children while he went back to the Central City precinct to help catch more Meta Humans with The Flash (yes, reality and Oz universe collided, made love and then took a giant dump here, I honestly don’t make a lot of sense of the fantasy either…).

September

Jesse L Martin

What I am basically saying, is that I sang the soundtrack to an audience of no one on a daily basis as I readied myself for work, drove to work, drove home from work and ultimately cried tears of, my life is so very, very small.

jkjkjkjk.

Sort of.

So yeah, there’s my September book haul that got kind of weird toward the end.

#sorrynotsorry.

What you got on the cards for September, baby?

September

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.