Saturday, 20 May 2017

Nasty Women


A day after Donald Trump called Hilary Clinton a "nasty woman" and every man, woman and child showed up on Twitter because guess what, we'd all  rather be "nasty" and carefree 😎; the people at 404 Ink (an independent publisher in the UK) got a kickstarter going, so put out a book written by women, on what it's like to be a woman in the 21st century. Months later and voila, here it is - Nasty Women, a collection of essays, interviews and accounts by fearless women who are unapologetically themselves.

Despite its claims, this book of course does not and cannot account for every woman's experience in the 21st century and maybe it shouldn't have claimed to do so. All these women are British, many of them are based in Scotland which is worth bearing in mind. That said, the book is representative of so many women' experiences, that i'd honestly never even thought about, read about, seen much of or experienced. Even as a woman with my own experiences, this book was a window into so many more and my preconceptions and ignorance was definitely checked in the reading of this book. There are essays about race, visibility, class, culture, politics, family, religion, disabilities, contraception, the workplace - and many  if not all the essays, are juggling with multiple of these ideas. I personally couldn't read the essays back to back because I had to mull over some of essays and the styles of writing were so different - some with a typical essay structure, others more poetic.

The "nasty" woman to me is the woman who isn't "simple", can't be put in a box. She's free spirited, a free thinker. I went through a thing where I wasn't being treated fairly and in speaking up about it, I was labelled "difficult". I actually really beat myself up about it because I normally don't want to be perceived as being unpleasant. And that's just the thing, we've been conditioned to be "nice" all the time. Speaking up or challenging or questioning things or not smiling or not being a sized  aren't what nice girls do. Because we've been so conditioned to feel this way, these labels "nasty","difficult" are used to silence us because apparently the worse thing that can happen to a woman is being called "nasty". Like the glorious day on Twitter :') this book reclaims the "nasty woman" label just by presenting intelligent, opinionated, female voices.

8/10
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Monday, 15 May 2017

What's On Your Bookshelf? with Laura from Two Paper Girls. We chat Booktube, Fantasy + Graphic Novels !


Halo all. I'm back doing another one of these chats, this time with Laura. Laura is one half on Two Paper Girls, a Booktube channel set up by herself and best friend Amy. I first heard about their channel through the grapevine at university two years ago and I've been watching ever since!

It's a channel I go to for recommendations because unlike quite a few Booktube channels, this one doesn't really have a niche. Laura and Amy read pretty widely which is quite nice because what I read next, depends on how I'm feeling and there's something for everyone on the channel. So before we talked about books, I was pretty excited Laura even agreed to do this chat so ya know, I had to get all my low-key fan girl questions about her channel out of the way first! 

What made you decide to start Two Paper Girls?
“Amy and I have been best friends since primary school and we’ve always liked reading so we sort of inspired each other to start. I'd started watching a lot of YouTube and discovered Booktube. We both thought it looked fun and thought, why not make our own?. And because my dad and brother had the equipment, we just thought we’d try it one day. We both really liked it and it sort of stuck!"

And what type of videos do you like to film?
"Challenge videos are so much fun to film! Like, we did this blindfold challenge and it was such a laugh. They don't seem to get as many hits but we always have a laugh filming them."

You're both at uni and running a YouTube channel, do you find it hard to balance the two?
“We've sort of got into a rhythm with it so it's not too bad no. We film once every two weeks and plan which four videos to film. It can take a while but it’s not so bad. It helps that there are two of us because we take turn with editing which actually, is what takes a while. Uploading can take hours." 

Now I don't have a YouTube channel but I remember Zoe Sugg or Alfie saying once it can take 2-3 to edit a video so, much respect.

Would you say you read a lot?
"I think it depends on "a lot". There are booktubers that read way more than I do and some people read a lot less. I read maybe 4 books a month but it depends with uni work and all the reading I have to do for my course." FYI Laura studies under grad English (a course I nearly chose :') ).

What are you reading at the moment?
Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence "I'm doing a DH Lawrence module for my course and it's [Lady Chatterley's Lover] nowhere near as scandalous as its reputation! I guess it was at the time but it's basically just about an affair."

We did get chatting about DH Lawrence whose books, if you didn't know, had a reputation I believe for writing what was considered to be 'unconventional' at the time given that he explored themes such as female sexuality. "He used the ‘c’ word and wrote about sex and violence a lot! But he’s definitely not an author of erotica, but his characters are in touch with their sexuality." I'm actually not the biggest fan of classics bar Shakespeare (I know, gross overgeneralising) but I can never really connect with the characters or settle into the style. But after Laura talked about Sons and Lovers, I was intrigued and slipped it onto my TBR. 

"It's about a family in a mining town in Nottingham. We first follow the character of Gertrude Morel when she marries below her social class for passion but her husband is actually quite violent and temperamental. She has 4 children and becomes very attached to the two eldest sons. The perspective then shifts to her second son, Paul Morel, as he tries to find love despite his overprotective mother and difficult upbringing. It’s a great classic because the characters feel very human and real. Even though they’re not all likeable, and do some terrible things, you understand their motivation and it’s a really engaging read!"

Was there a time in your life you'd say you started reading?
“Probably when I was about 9 and I started reading all the Animal Ark series. And then I found the Harry Potter series which also means a lot to me.  I probably started reading them when the 6th book came out, and it was the first time I was fully part of a fandom.”

Guys, wasn’t the animal section at your primary school library πŸ”₯ ? It can't just be me?! Also! I too remember the first time being fully fledged into a fandom :') It was Twilight and I feel like now, we’re all just embarrassed by our collective overreaction to the books and the film and Taylor Lautner , but the series itself was good, come on. And while I too, loved loved loved Harry Potter, I haven’t liked any fantasy since and I’ve tried.

So what would you say someone should read to ease themselves into the fantasy genre?

"Well The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss has magic school elements so if you liked Harry Potter, it’s a bit like that in that sense. But it's quite high-epic fantasy though and that can be quite hard, maybe a better recommendation for those interested in the genre is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas! I also really liked Peter Pan by J.M Barrie– the story itself of course has is fantasy by it’s actually quite dark and I really enjoyed it.

Then there’s The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – don’t watch the film, the film was awful and they changed so much! But the books are really good. I love The Lord of the Rings and the films too but again,  that’s more epic fantasy.”

I also want to talk about a genre that not enough people talk about on Book tube but, I’d seen pop up on this channel in hauls … comic books! I don’t talk about them enough but I’m a comic book fan. The art is often beautiful but so different for each comic, the plot lines an be sharp and witty in a way that just can’t be found in novels. They also don’t take that long to read ! “And the weirdest things can happen in comic books that can’t really happen in books. You can just do the wackiest things and have really over the top humour - like in Rat Queens or Giant Days. And this kind of thing works so well in comics but not necessarily in anything else.” YesπŸ’—

We got into talking about how comic books really push the boundaries, and portray genres in a way that is so different to other mediums of literature. I read mainly Marvel and DC but even within those, are so many genres and it’s a different type of creativity all together. And even if you don’t like superheros, know that there are now comics about crime, horror, biographical, historical, mental health – it’s not all Spiderman.

Current Comic Books on Laura's Shelf:   
Spider Gwen Volume 1, Watchmen - "both on the TBR!"

Volume 2 of Giant Days “It’s about a university set in England and it’s just nice to read about university students, you don’t see that very often. It’s also quite funny.”

Rat Queens –“It’s so much fun! It’s diverse, feisty and has a really strong portrayal of female friendships.”

Rapid [ish] Fire Round

Who are your Instaread author/s?
“Anything by John Green for sure. … Ian McKewan though he’s more more of an Instabuy writer for me. I think I read Atonment back in sixth form and loved it, so now I  just buy everything he brings out, but haven’t read them yet. His latest one is a modern Shakespeare retelling and it looks really good so I think I’ll read that soon. J.K Rowling maybe, though The Casual Vacancy wasn’t that great ... And VE Schawb – again it’s more Instabuy with her. I keep hearing people talk about her books on YouTube and keep buying them!

What do you plan on reading next?
"The Penguin by Tom Michellanother animal book! I’ll start it after all my coursework’s out of the way. It should be fun and light reading."

Best book of the year so far?
I have LOVED A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – it’s a beauty and the beast retelling with sexy faeries! It’s got a really interesting plot and I’ve heard great things about the rest of the series! Also I finished This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab which was awesome! A really dark book full of monsters that are created through violent human acts and an unlikely friendship which, refreshingly, doesn’t turn into a romance! And I'll add On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher – It’s whimsical, magical and I did cry at the end."

Thank youuu Laura for this chat, was the dream :')  Make sure to check out Two Paper Girls and subscribe! 


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Friday, 12 May 2017

TV Review: 13 Reasons Why




The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is based on Jay Asher's YA book and is about Hannah Baker; a teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 audio recordings; one for each person she believes was the reason she ended her life. The tapes are passed to each person and we find them with Clay, who comes back from school one day to find them at his doorstep. Hannah was the new girl at her high school and as the episodes progress, we learn more about her school experience and we sort of see through her eyes, how she feels she was wronged by these people. She was a victim of slut shaming, bullying, public humiliation, witnessing a rape, being raped, and being majorly let down by her "friends". The whole show is portrayed through a string of flashbacks as Clay follows Hannah's trail to find out what was really happening to her at school, why he has a tape and why she dies. Unsurprisingly her suicide, and these tapes really badly affect those she sends them to.


The acting itself that phenomenal and on that front, the show has a very afternoon Lifetime TV feel. I give props to show for giving us such a diverse cast full of new talent. That said, perhaps the show didn't really require strong performances because the very nature of the script, is so emotionally draining, that it naturally distracts from the often mediocre cast. Dylan Minnette however who plays Clay, carries the show through for the most part, giving a compelling performance as a student who is uncovering these dark experiences his close friend had, his possible contribution to her death, while clearly struggling with his own mental health . The latter isn't really brought to the forefront of the plot but I think is integral in forming and understanding his character and so, I felt required a lot more of a nuanced performance, which he executed very well.

What the show also handles well, is its depiction of  bullying, slut shaming, the difficulty in finding loyal friends and, the debilitating effect that these experiences can have on someone. These were clearly well researched and deftly handled. It doesn't take away from the fact though that the show makes a spectacle of suicide.

The premise itself; leaving essentially elaborate, very creative suicide notes to every person who you believe is the reason you're ending your life, is problematic and best, sadistic at worst. But given Hannah's state of mind I can understand or at least reason with it. Though a flawed character, Hannah really grew on me as the season progressed. And yet we're not given any space to mourn her death or really digest what how tragic this suicide because from episode 1, we the audience are on "trail" to find out why Hannah kills herself and "who" is to blame. Each episode, the tapes reach different individuals and though some (others didn't 'deserve' a tape) wronged her, all are battling their own issues. The show dabbles almost in being a psychological thriller as it becomes about how each tape pushes each "receiver", further over the edge.

Every episode we get closer to who is really to blame and in doing so, the  show completely ignores the most obvious answer, that Hannah is ultimately responsible for her own death. While others contributed to her depression, it is Hannah who takes her life. And the final episode does entertain this line of reasoning, but it is ultimately cast aside and we leave the season with the conclusion that responsibility for Hannah's death lies squarely on the shoulders of these teenagers. The overall message becomes - treat people with compassionate (fair enough), if you so much as even slip up and they kill themselves, it'll be your fault.


Everyone, particularly Clay, leaves the season almost "at peace" and coming to terms with his said responsibility for her death. Which as a show, is so irresponsible given its target audience, are young people struggling with mental health problems. As if to say that you can somehow if you 're depressed and if other people have contributed to the way you feel or look at yourself, you can avenge yourself by taking your own life. In Hannah still essentially "living" through these tapes, there is something to be gained from taking your life.



I'm trying not to leave spoilers but there is one scene I have to talk about: Hannah's suicide. We witness the entire process: picking the weapon, the actual suicide, her final thoughts, watching her die and her parents finding her body. These scenes were shot so cinematically, so detailed and were so visceral in a way that made them so so unnecessarily graphic.  Producers claim that they made this show to help people with depression and those who've considered suicide. And yet these are the very people, who shouldn't be watching this show. "Research shows that exposure to another person's suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide."

I'll admit the show makes for addictive viewing but not for the right reasons. And I'm not happy. Yes because so many people are watching the show, we're having and engaging in conversations about mental health, perhaps far more than we were before. But there are TV shows (few though they exist) such as The Fosters that deal with issues such as rape, bullying, teenage identity, depression and so on, far better in a way that inspires hope.

5/10
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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Missing University



I haven't been at uni this year because of the year abroad and while this has been an incredible opportunity and if you get the chance you should totes do it ... I've struggled. I've just noticed my mental health has properly plummeted over the last year, which got me thinking about firstly how important community is (cringe but ya know, true). There's something about being plugged into uni life, even when it felt like it was sweeping me away, it was still a healthy distraction. It also got me thinking about  all the things I bitterly miss about uni life and everything I took for granted ! The novelty I imagine will wear off after week 3 but anywho:

1. the campus - it's so beaut and was a big factor in me choosing my university. I don't have photos but take my word for it. We have swans and lakes and benches and lots of trees - it is very nice.

2. learning - only now realising how bloody fantastic my course is! So many cool modules, great lectures (I actually enjoyed most of my lectures and sometimes, even, left feel inspired ?! and grateful I even got in to such a great uni. okay this bracket is very long) and all those course friends you don't talk to outside of the lecture hall - i miss them too :') And not to sound like an eager beaver but I love learning, having work to do all the time and concrete goals to reach. This year, I've sort of felt like an aimless wanderer with not a lot of purpose ... I don't feel like I'm doing anything. You don't realise how great that lack of sleep mixed with caffeine and course anxiety is, until it's gone :') (Jokes)

3. societies. I take for granted how many societies we have. I've been wanting to go to Lego Soc since Freshers but keep putting it off because I can't find a friend to go with - I know, lame. ... Maybe Lego Soc is lame. But it dawned on me that I could leave university and never meet another grown ass person who likes Lego when meanwhile, there is a room filled with Lego lovers somewhere on campus.

4. having people around you all the time. being so geographically close to your friends. πŸ’—And all the chats I had with my 2 flatmates till 2am. And also after university, when else in life are you ever going to have such a large network of people around you? Even if you're not making life long pals, when else in your life are you going to have access to that many people around you?! I'd say my uni is a really friendly one too - maybe i'm just thinking that because I've been gone a year and can't remember. But in general if you want to talk to someone, you don't have to look so far.



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Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Weekend Edit

Haaalo once again.  This weekend has been a fun one because, I've had stuff to do! I went on a walk, it was my friend's 25th partay and, I'm heading out to a shoe museum in a couple of hours. I'm also thinking I'm going to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 tomorrow. If you didn't know, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 is my all time fave MCU film so I have been WAITING for this one. I also have recommendations for you that I've been proper loving. Like, I've been so excited to write this post because I've accumulated some goood stuff.

Listening

Mostly Lit Podcast
Like, every episode ever. Before the only time I listened to Mostly Lit was when I was going to bed. In fact I did that with every podcast except Back Row Films and Kermode and Mayo .. until now?! I've stopped watching TV/films while I eat, instead choosing to catch up on podcasts and not be infront of a screen all day. And that's when I listened to Mostly Lit properly for the first time and oh my goodness. Mostly Lit is a podcast with three black 20 somethings from London. They discuss the intersection of literature and politics and popular culture and I love listening to them! The level of conversation is . I'm not the most articulate person and I normally need a lot of words to get my point across (hence why I like blogging because I can take time to edit stuff I say).These three are incredibly articulate and intelligent and reflective and all round woke group of young people. The episodes I re-listened to were Black Boys Don't Read and The God's Must Be Crazy - so start here.

Melanin Millenials - 
The hosts, Imrie and Satia are two black women from London who dissect popular culture, history , race, politics and, also talk about what it means to be a millenial in the UK today. Again, the podcast gives you thought provoking conversation while being so funny at the same time. I hate writing down that something is "funny", it's such a lazy, watered down adjective but I legit  choked on my dinner about 3 nights ago listening to an episode, because I was laughing so much. Their banter, all the shade the throw around at everyone, I think you just feel part of the convo too, ya know? Well if you don't go and listen. There are so many I hadn't listened to, so I've been catching up and I keep getting excited about competitions and events I can sign up to, only to find that they've already happened lol.

Anna Faris is Unqualified. ep 68 Sharon Stone
FYI. Anna Faris is an actress, she starred in The House Bunny, she's done alot of voicework, she's in one of my favourite rom-coms , she's in a show called Mom. She's like the most earnest, unintentionally funny person and, a great podcast host.

On this podcast she has a celebrity and they chit chat a bit, they play these scenario games and then she has a few callers, who ask her and the celebrity for advice to their real life problems. They genuinely try to give good advice but oh my word, this episode with Sharon Stone is one of the most memorable. Sharon Stone gave the most incredible advice. There were two callers and she was like analysing them and asking them questions and pulling out these possibly deep rooted issues that noone had even considered. She is a fountain of wisdom and I'm not exaggerating Sharon Stone talks like a therapist and it took everyone on the panel and I'm sure many listeners like myself by surprise.   Wowzers.

Crash On My Couch 
Now that I'm listening to podcasts in the day, I needed a podcast I could fall asleep to. And Crash On My Couch is that podcast - in the best way possible. It's Arden Rose and Will Darbyshire from YouTube and authoring and all the other cool stuff they do. And its meant to be a podcast about navigating your 20's? I think it's more just random conversations with a some caller quetsions at the end, if I'm being honest, but that makes for good listening. So far they've talked about nude perfomance art, bad dates, Pixar conspiracy theories ... you get the gist. They're such a sweet duo and they both have really theraputic voices. It's like listening in on a quirky couple's convo on the bus. That's actually exactly what it is.

Reading 
I've ofcourse been reading blog posts but nothing that's really caught my attention. I have however been really enjoying Nettle & Blackberry as a blog in it's entirety. It's a lifestyle blog and I like that she gives little snippets into her life and what's going on - they're my favourite types of blogs to read. I've mentioned both of these before and won't stop !, Sarah's blog Sciwitch is good for those sorts of posts as is Becloumar.

Watching 

Whether it be her blog posts or YouTube videos, I think I've mentioned Cruelty Free Becky in every one of these Weekend Edits and this post is no exception. Her most recent video is on 'Spring Trends done Sustainably' and I recommend you watch it. This channel has taught me that there are many ways of being cruelty free and being environment conscious. And that it's not that hard to make small changes.

Gabes and Anna
What a couple. They're doing this 3 part series about their decision to abstain from sex before getting married. So far they have a video on the why and how behind this decision. For people who maybe don't understand really why some Christians choose to abstain. It's really a faith filled decision and never because we think sex is "bad" and "virginity" whatever that is, is "good". In the same way that society judges especially women who choose to have sex, people can also be a bit judgy when you choose not to, because many think your decision not to, is in itself, a judgement on someone else. Anyway this is a good series because I think they lay out they "why" very clearly and non judgmentally - because it isn't :) . I've made my point I think.

Chelsea Handler Season 2
I think I said this last time, I can't remember but I love the political turn that this show has taken. She has politicians on every week and she now has celebrities who are actively engaged in politics and they discuss and dissect anything that's happened that week. She had Tracee Ellis Ross, Rosario Dawson and Aisha Tyler this Friday.

I've also really been enjoying Neighbours (Australian soap opera in case you didn't know) and I'm giving them a shout out because, it's been consistently solid for about 2 months. Leo and Amy finally get together after about a year, only to find out they're related?! Are Piper and Tyler growing further apart?! And Paige is having a baby with a priest! But she's also moved back in with Mark so I'm think something is going to happen there?! I'm also thinking you don't watch Neighbours and have no idea what I'm talking about. That's okay.

Enjoy your weekend,  it's another long one wohooo! xo




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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson






“Why do we want to kill all the broken people? ... I don’t do what I do because I have to, because I’ve been trained to. I do what I do because I’m broken too. You cannot defend condemned people without being broken.”- Bryan Stevenson

The author, Bryan Stevenson is an African American lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, to defend those within marginalised groups, who often can't get legal representation. to defend those who are marginalised and so often can't get legal representation. He talks mainly about an early case of his - one Walter McMillan, an African American man wrongly convicted and put on death row for the murder of a white woman.

Walter's story is the one we follow for the most part as Stevenson tries to investigate, interviewing "witnesses", to get Walter off death row. Stevenson uses this case, along with others,  to unravel and analyse the American justice system which, is robustly set up against and, to fail marginalised groups while completely disregarding the issues and systems in place that drive them to prison in the first place. And then when they get there, they're denied basic human rights.

Going into this, I knew the justice system was messed up. Like, we all kind of know that right? We've seen Reggie Yates documentaries, we've seen Making a Murderer (well I personally haven't but haven' I couldn't get into it but a bunch of y'all have) and especially in the UK and the States;  I understood we have an unspoken "lock them up and throw away the key" policy, particularly if you're of colour or poor - the justice system has no time for you. But even then, after reading this book, I realise that what I thought I knew - the actual details - were very hazy.

Well, Just Mercy was uncomfortably informative. He intertwines the details of these cases with research and statistics which reveal this really horrifying and confronting picture of our justice systems and where they're heading. He talks about abuse towards women, men and even children  - facts of which were shocking as in, there are many children as young as 13 being held in adult prisons where they become subject to abuse that pushes them to suicide. He talks about how statistically more likely you are to find yourself in prison if you're poor, black or just don't have the ability articulate yourself to the authorities, because of a lack of education.  People being encouraged (often forced) to take plea deals, the treatment of the mentally ill in prison, mass incarceration, lawyers in it for the money, officers under pressure to solve cases in limited time - the list goes on. And while I felt like I had to really concentrate when reading this because all these details form the bigger picture, I knew I hadn't even scratched the surface regarding the scale of the problem.

Just Mercy is a heavy read. A lot of it was so hard to swallow and I did have to go back and re-read chunks of it because I needed the space and time to digest it. And yet it is written in such a compelling, engaging and compassionate way. I think we often think of prisoners as these faceless people, without any humanity. Intellectually, I know it's not the case but when I think of prisoners, I think everyone's there because they're despicable people who broke the law and deserve it. It's a really embarrassing, lazy and dangerous way to think about people which is why, it was so powerful to humanise everyone he talks about. Stevenson provides background into their situations, talks about their family and loved ones and maybe most importantly tells us their names.

Reading this book made me really angry. I do read a lot (especially recently) that has made me angry but this was the kind of anger I couldn't shake off. It had an affect on me in a way I can't quite describe but when I finished, I couldn't read anything else. After going on this journey with everyone we meet in the book and then having to leave them behind - but now knowing and understanding the scale of the problem and, that there are so many more is hard. And I'm so thankful that I know now. I'll also add that the selflessness of Bryan Stevenson, his initiative, and others like it who work tirelessly and give so much of themselves for those who don't have a voice is inspiring and; it says that there is hope and just by being aware we can do more.

Someone on Goodreads said "this is a book for anyone interested in and/or concerned about the American system of justice." Yes it is but it honestly has so much more to say about our own humanity, how we understand and treat people and our understanding of justice and mercy. Such an important read and I urge you to pick it up.




5/5
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon + a few of my favourite quotes

"Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.



Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.



The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?"

I'm going to keep this review short; I'm just here to make you aware of Nicola Yoon (who also wrote Everything, Everything πŸ’›πŸ’–) anddd, her latest book!

The Sun is Also a Star is set in one day and is about Natasha, a Jamaican teen living in the States with her family and Daniel, a Korean American. The two meet by accident - Daniel would probably say it was fate - on a day that is pretty important for the both of them. He's up for an interview for a place at Yale that he essentially doesn't want but has been coerced into by his parents. Meanwhile Natasha is seeking legal counsel after finding out her family are being deported to Jamaica. As I said, they meet my accident and due to spoilery reasons I won't go into, end up spending the day together. He believes this is the closest he's ever felt to love at first sight and tries to make her fall in love with him and shes a naysayer who doesn't believe in love. It's very conversation heavy basically because Nicola Yoon gives them a day o seriously get to know each other and, for us to get to know them and care about them. But it's not as stale as it sounds! There are so many other themes intertwined into this story and the fabric of their conversations:  family, science, history, identity, betrayal and race. I still can't believe everything that happens, happens in a day because she manages to give each theme enough space and impact while delivering this really raw, real, 3 dimensional, slow burning romance. Oh and did I mention? All set in a day.

The dialogue. It was just so rich and smart and complex yet subtle and reflective and at times funny, at times heavy going, all at once! It was all of these things!

Natasha and Daniel are these really well drawn, flawed and fully human characters and I think even if you don't "like" them, you'll be routing for them till the very last page. I also really appreciated Nicola Yoon's handling of race and how the way others see us, can affect our own sense of personal identity. It was never the agenda of the story either, it's just deftly woven into their respective stories - in the same way their reflections and experiences and the way they see the world would be, were they real life teenagers of colour.  There's a lot of show, not tell which takes craft.

5/5

As I'm sure it's pretty clear from this post, I was also in awe of Nicola Yoon's writing. So, I'm going to leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book but ya know, totes read the book yourself too. 

"Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.” 


“Growing up and seeing your parents' flaws is like losing your religion. I don't believe in God anymore. I don't believe in my father either.” 


“We're kindling amid lightning strikes, a lit match and dry wood, fire danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.” 


"I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us.” 


“If people who were actually born here had to prove they were worthy enough to live in America, this would be a much less populated country.” 


“love is just chemicals and coincidence.” 


“For most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith. Even if you've heard stories of safety, opportunity, and prosperity, it's still a leap to remove yourself from your own language, people, and country. Your own history. What if the stories weren't true? What if you couldn't adapt? What if you weren't wanted in the new country?” 


“I am really not a girl to fall in love with. For one thing, I don’t like temporary, nonprovable things, and romantic love is both temporary and nonprovable.” 


“I guess I'm more interested in why people feel they have to believe in God. Why can't it just be science? Science is wondrous. The night sky? Amazing. The inside of a human cell? Incredible. Something that tells us we're born bad and that people use to justify all their petty prejudices and awfulness? I dunno. I guess I believe in science. Science is enough.”
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Friday, 21 April 2017

Anna and the French Kiss Trilogy. Worth the Hype?


Every Spring/Summer, I see this series pop up all over the blogs and Booktube - it's like the YA Summer read. Since I recently just finished Isla and the Forever After - the final instalment in Stephanie Perkins' popular trilogy - I'm going to tell you if it's worth adding this to your Spring TBR.

So in theory, Stephanie Perkins has a really good concept going on here. really good idea. It's set in the fictional 'School of America in Paris (SOAP)' and each book centres on characters from a similar/connected friendship group over (I think), a period of 4 years.

Anna and the French Kiss
This book is based on Anna, a student at SOAP who is struggling with school and living in another country, learning French and keeping up with her own hobbies mainly, her film blog. I have to say this all sounds awfully familiar. Anywho, along the way she falls for Etienne St Clair - who is not single.

Anna and the French  Kiss is gooey and sweet and charming. For all its  drama and the flashy backdrop of Paris, it is also down to earth. It's not just fluff but goes subtly beneath the surface and explores other relationships outside the romantic ones. It's the perfect quick, light and uplifting summer read.  Unfortunately I felt like they all just got worse from here on out.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

The blurb:
"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion ... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. When Cricket - a gifted inventor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

*QUEUE EYE ROLL* Lola and the Boy Next Door felt like a a middle aged woman, trying to write teenagers and the "qualms" that they might go through. The characters were so contrived and had every stereotype possible thrown at them.  None of them felt real or authentic this story just pissed me off. 

Isla and the Happily Ever After
The book was a vast improvement from its predecessor.
I really enjoyed the way Perkins dealt with growing up and that awkward transition period you go through in your final year at school.

The book also features a main character writing a comic book which ended up being surprisingly moving.

Isla's best friend Kurt has high functioning autism and though I know very little about autism, it felt realistic. People with autism in both film and literature are often portrayed as being either sociopaths or geniuses and on top of that they're rarely humanised. While Kurt wasn't the book's subject, Perkins still spends time developing and fleshing him out as a character. I could tell she'd researched this, and all the little details such s his repetitiveness, inability to lie, his honesty, made me come away from this book, feeling like I'd learnt even more about autism.

The actual flesh of the book however, left very little to be desired. When reading Isla and the Happily Ever After, you could tell the author is trying to finish the series with a bang. Featuring a romance that takes the reader all across Europe, playing heavily on the "what do I do with my life once I leave school" theme and, bringing back all the old characters. But this wasn't done smoothly. The romance itself was completely cliched - shy girl falls for popular boy and popular boy actually likes her back but guess what, he has issues. And it just felt like all these teen drama tropes were being thrown at the story.

The dialogues were dry, fell flat and I found myself skipping through chunks of the book just to get to the end.

And! the book CONSTANTLY and I mean constantly brings up and Anna and St Clair from the first book. It's as if the book knows it isn't bringing much to the table so it tries to distract the reader by reminding them of better characters. All that did was made me wish I was reading Anna and the French Kiss instead.

In summary, just read the first one. 
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Monday, 17 April 2017

A Few (of the many) Underrated Rom-Coms



I was listening to Back Row Podcasts when I heard Mike (presenter) use "rom-com" as an adjective, to describe like all bad films. Sigh. Disappointed. Romance and Rom com films have a reputation for being nothing but fluff. No depth, no message and basic film, linear film making. This just isn't true! There is an art form to romance films and comedies and they aren't given as much credit around award season and It's the bad ones and I'll admit, there are many, that give the good ones a bad rep. When Harry Met Sally isn't the last good romance film so here is a little list of some of the many great underrated romance films. And in fact, I might make this a series on the blog because there are that many.


Her
This isn't a rom-com but I don't talk about this film enough andd it's one of my favourites of all time. It's a "romantic science fiction drama" directed by Spike Jonze about Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely and depressed man who works for a business that has professional writers compose personal letters on behalf of people who don't want to write them. His life is pretty mundane until he buys a talking operating system with artificial intelligence. He forms a relationship with his - Samantha and over time, she develops and adapts and the two begin to fall in love.

This film to put it simply, is smart. It poses questions about our relationship with technology using what seems like an extreme example, but keeping this really heavy and emotional love story at the centre. It's incredible. 

About Time
When he's 21, Tim's (Domhnall Gleeson) dad (Bill Nighy) shares a family secret  with him. The men of his family have a special gift: the ability to travel in time but, they can only travel to places and times they've been before. Tim decides, to use it to improve his love life.

The film is by no means perfect, the storytelling perhaps has a few holes and its not intellectually challenging but the characters are so endearing. It's comfortable and funny and quaint and dreamy and, a film you get completely lost in. 

Sleeping with Other People
Is, first of all a female directed rom-com (wohooo) and, a fantastic film at that so definitely worth your support. It's about Lainey (Alison Brie) who in 2002 is insecure and awkward 20 something who's been rejected time and time again. She crosses paths with Jake (Jason Sudeikis) who is in a similar situation and the two lose their virginity to each other. The two cross paths again twelve years later and both have relationship issues. So, despite being attracted to each other, they decide to keep their relationship strictly platonic.

I know what you're thinking but it doesn't (quite) follow the typical rom-com trajectory. There are a lot more sub-plots at play and at the centre of them all is their friendship which is just so beautiful and raw and awkward and real. It's of course really funny but underneath it has this really strong emotional pull. Jason Sudeikis is definitely at his best in this smart, honest and super underrated film !

Midnight in Paris
This is Woody Allen film which follows Gil (Owen Wilson) a screenwriter, who takes a trip to Paris with his superficial/materialistic fiancee (Rachel McAdams). There he, takes walks at midnight which transport him into Paris in the 20s. Through all the people he meets: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker and many more - he's forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship and career.

Firstly, this film is so dreamy, like visually. I mean the colour palette is very creamy with lots of pastels and bright colours but it's like hazy at night. I don't know what I'm saying, just watch it. It's quaint but made me laugh out loud at times and I just loved the time travel and meeting all these literary greats. SO FUN.

Love, Rosie
An adaptation of Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern which Ihaven't read but now won't be reading because the film is a firm feelgood favourite of mine.

We meet the protagonist Rosie, at her 18th birthday party where she's drunk and Alex, her long time best friend kisses her. He realises in that moment that he's got feelings for her but the next day she regrets getting so drunk and just wishes the night never happened. This story is essentially about their friendship. (Another friendship film :') ) We see them grow up together and go through major life events and it's just a really beautiful story okay. Oh and Sam Claflin πŸ’—

What's Your Number?
Ally (Anna Faris) comes across a magazine article which says that women who've slept with 20 or more people can't find a husband. She gets into a state of panic after she realises she's on number 19 and so decides the next guy she sleeps with has to be "the one". Aaand that's all I can say I think without ruining plot.

Anna Faris really carries this film. She's a very intuitive actress, something that's really showcased when she improvs and her comic timing is πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ. It's charming, feel good, has a really good message at the end and I think I had a little cry when it was over, just because I didn't want to leave the characters. Oh and if Captain America convinced you Chris Evans has no charisma or screen presence? This'll change your mind. 


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Saturday, 15 April 2017

What's on your Bookshelf? with Katie from Katie L Clark. We talk Hygge, Marie Kondo + Audiobooks


I'm back with the second chat in the series, this time with Katie who blogs at Katie L Clark: a lifestyle blog about minimalism, vegetarianism and living a zero-waste lifestyle! Besides being super put together and an environment conscious human being, you'll also learn from her bio that she's currently doing a Law Masters and belt in karate?!

Again, this was such a fun chat because a. we talked about books (and there's always fun to be had on that front), I learnt a lot and we also ventured onto other topics!

From blog design to blog posts to her actually lifestyle, I'm going to be bold and say I think minimalism is at the forefront of Katie's blog. But first of all, I did have to ask because I thought they were the same. What's the difference between minimalism and zero waste? 

“So I started zero-waste as a reduction of plastics. Minimalism is about the reduction of "stuff" and zero-waste is about a reduction of rubbish basically. It's about buying things in the most sustainable way possible so you produce the least amount of waste! So I've switched to bamboo brushes rather than plastic, you can get reusable bags, use stainless steel lunch boxes and water bottles rather than plastic... just trying to send the least amount to landfill possible.”

Does minimalism play into your book reading/collecting/buying habits. Or maybe books that sum up your collection?

*Enter beaut hardback books*  

"Yes it does, I try not to have too much stuff so I'll tend to have 5 books per semester. And then I give them away before buying new ones". This is really healthy. That way, you don't end up being a book hoarder and I think you'd put more thought into your choices. And I think it can be done in different ways. I for one have a Kindle and a personal monthly limit on how much books I purchase.

Now, I thought, that Katie's current collection is quite reflective of her lifestyle! As you may have noticed, two of the books are on hygge and if you'd read her blog before the whole hygge phenomena, you'd be with me when I say that Katie's blog was hygge before we all knew about hygge even was;  which by the way i learnt from this chat, is correctly pronounced "hugga" and not "hiig". She just has that vibe about her, I don't know. Anyway, you know I had to ask because I find this subject fascinating. That sentence looked v sarcastic, but I'm being serious. Isn't it interesting that hygge is a word none of us can define but we all have a grasp on its meaning?!



"This is more of a lifestyle book that you can dip and out of, at least that's how I use it. Its got recipes, chapters on clothing ... it works quite well as a nice coffee table book! (I agree I mean, look at the cover :') ) ... I tend to use recipes from Pinterest but if there's something special you want to do, say for a dinner party or friends, this is the one."

Hygge: The Danish Art of Hapiness by Marie Tourell SΓΈderberg 
“This is the far more word heavy book on hygge. The other one is ore of a coffee table book whereas this one has more information.”
Speaking of Denmark another book Katie is currently reading is The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell which she explained to me is “basically a woman who is happy with her life and wants to stay where she is and then one day her husband gets a job in Denmark and they have to move there. So she agrees to the move for a year to see whether or not she likes it. She's quite sceptical of Denmark [and I guess its reputation as the happiest country in the world] so each month, she documents how it's going - living in the "happiest country in the world". It’s a bit of a culture shock for her."

This is classic example of how we mustn't judge a book by the number of appearances on Instagram. You see I've seen this book all over Instagram and thought it was a book about how great Denmark was or something I don't know. But I imagine not many books like this exist so it'd be really interesting to see someone break down the wall. Also, isn't it kind of surprising that someone could have a culture shock living in Denmark?! I think we forget, or at least I do, that the different European countries have a really different cultures.

We also talked about another wildly successful book:  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Now, I for the life of me couldn't understand why this book was so popular. Like, seriously, y'all didn't know a tidy space is a tidy mind? A clean home is a happy home? I'll stop there. But just know I did not hop on this band wagon, at all. Well in Katie's most recent blog post, it's clear that she too is a super tidy person who hates mess. So while it didn't surprise me that she'd be interested in a book like this, it surprised me that she'd buy and read it. That is, until she explained the whole ethos of the book. "I'm already a tidy person but the book keeps me on track with being minimalism and keeps me focused." The book actually instructs on how we keep tidy, decluttering and making it a part of our lifestyle. You can be tidy and still be a hoarder so I definitely understand it's appeal now.

Another fun fact I learnt, "It's been translated from Japanese so you might find some of the language is a bit weird. For instance she [Marie Kondo] personifies objects a lot in the book, things like socks. So it's a bit weird at times. Some people didn't like it for this reason,  some expressions get a bit lost in translation."

A book that was a bit more controversial was its follow up book Spark Joy though Katie says, that's the better book. "It's actually quite similar to The Life Changing Magic but it's more of an improvement. If anything I'd buy this one instead. It's just more structured and it's got more pictures and diagrams to help you on your way."

I looked into the controversy surrounding this book a bit later, after our chat. Basically, some people argue that whether or not cleaning methods or certain objects "spark joy" doesn't take into account large families, and  some argue that we all have things in our lives that don't spark joy but are necessary. I don't know where I stand on this, I'd have to read to it to say. But I suspect this may have something to do with the translation misunderstanding we were talking about earlier. By all means, its good knowing about this before. I like being able to challenge a book as I read it too. 

So! If there's one book on your shelf/in your collection you'd recommend straight away, what would it be?
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

"This is more of a lifestyle book that you can dip and out of, at least that's how I use it. Its got recipes, chapters on clothing ... it works quite well as a nice coffee table book! (I agree I mean, look at the cover :') ) ... I tend to use recipes from Pinterest but if there's something special you want to do, say for a dinner party or friends, this is the one."

If you were on a desert island and you could only take 2 books, what would they be and why?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

I've tried to read Sherlock Holmes in the past and gave up. I didn't find the style the easiest to get into and, I prefer just watching Benedict Cumberbatch n my TV. But this version is giving me alllll kinds of new inspo. “ Crime books are the books out of fiction I gravitate towards ... I love books by John Grishame.”


Katie reads quite a few classics and another favourite of hers is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde of which she has 3 copies.


"I also recently got into audiobooks and a book I'd recommend is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. When I listen to audiobooks, I prefer non-fiction ones. I love walking around learning as I’m going, so Sapiens was a great start… I can learn about everything whilst just walking to and from campus every day!

For more from Katie, check out her blog. Here are some posts I personally enjoyed: The Importance of Minimalism - which whether you call yourself a minimalist or not we can all take notes from!, Dear Lady on the Bus and Turning 21.

Until next time ✌
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Friday, 14 April 2017

The Weekend Edit: Spring, Cellulite + Riverdale



Listen
Humble by Kendrick Lamar, can we talk. I know this is old news but aside from this being a banging tune; isn't it great that we have artists like Kendrick talking about how as a society, we're shifting away from authenticity and instead of just stopping at the commentary, countering it by showing authenticity?! I for one have worked really really hard to accept and go so far as love my cellulite - it's a daily choice and struggle ngl but meant I appreciated it more when I saw in this case, the oh so radical image of a woman with no make-up and stretch marks. Sadly, it's still so rare but that's why we thank God everyday for Kendrick amma right?

Speaking of summer, the album of the summer - I'm convinced - is Zara Larsson's So Good which really is so good. Current favourite is Sundown feat Wizkid.

Read
I found new beauty blogs from a post with recommendations on Jasmine's blog: Sophie's Makeup + Barely There Beauty - go peruse!

Another blog I've been reading thoroughly is Sciwitch. The header says, Sciwitch - the honest blog and, it is the epitome of the type of blogs i love reading - as in every single word and not I'm not just there for the aesthetics. I don't know how else to say it other than, her voice is just so honest and gives snapshots into her life and her thoughts. It's like she writes with no inhibitions and her writing is bold and strong and vulnerable and, it's just how I dream of writing.

I do still like my fair share of blogs of aesthetically pleasing posts. LOOK at this dress! So beautiful. So spring. Sigh.

I also discovered Career Contessa last month! It's a blog for the working woman and I believe has contributors from all over the world. It's better I've found to have different contributors because you get different voices and legit advice and not just dreamy unhelpful advice which is so rampant on blogs. I read this post on 4 ways productive people make the most of their day off, more than once.

Watch
RIVERDALE
Again I just discovered this and I am obsessed. It strikes a really good balance between the teen drama genre and crime/thriller one.

Lucy Moon is also making videos every day this month and its glorious. At the moment I'm really appreciating creators who keep it stripped back and there isn't a whole load of production. It's really about the content and being that there's a new video every day, I love being able to see and follow the creative journey of this channel.

Happy Easter Weekend !
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Friday, 24 March 2017

Winter Rewind: films + TV I watched this season



Film:
Criminal

Fences
-  Really moving story telling  thanks to chilling performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis . The film is really Troy's (Washington) story and I felt we weren't given the space to mourn Rose's (Davis) losses, which I suppose was deliberate. I really enjoyed it but I couldn't get over the fact that it wasn't cinematic - at all. You could tell this was a play as in, the entire film is pretty much set in a backyard, there are so many monologues and the camera actually moves in the same way we see the camera sort of circulating the cameras in one of the National Theatre Live screenings.

Sleeping with Other People
- An underrated rom-com and Alison Brie at her best.

Collateral Beauty

The Danish Girl 

Demain Tout Commence

Logan 
- Logan is a sort of sci-fi/western hybrid and executes both sides of the genre so well ugh. I also loved that it used the comic books to move the plot along - nice touch. I can't even say i;s the best superhero film I've seen because it just didn't feel like that, at all. It was in it's own lane. Also, watching it made me realise how immune I've become to violent scenes in film I bloody love it - when it's done well. Overall a must see I reckon.

Moonlight 

Sleepless in Seattle
First time watching it and I have to say, a bit overrated. I just don't feel that connection when the love interests meet, at the end of the film.

La La Land
- I loved the film's ending actually and thought it was the most appropriate. If Mia and Sebastian had fallen in love, Sebastian wouldn't have  opened his jazz bar. Not that I think you necessarily have to make sacrifices like this but it's a an interesting spin on the typical romance narrative we see in films and musicals. It was by no means perfect and I did roll my eyes a bit at the whole white man trying to save jazz storyline. But I like that Damien Chazelle explores the sacrifice and passion one can have to make your dreams a reality. I 'm excited to see more from him.

TV:

A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Did not finish. This was so disappointingly underwhelming. Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf was not convincing, or scary, at all. All the word definitions work well in text, but break up the pace of the show on screen and, the tone was all off. I didn't really understand what the show was trying to be or who it was aimed at.

Chasing Cameron
- I started watching this when I had nothing to watch on Netflix and I was hooked. I was really surprised at how honest of a documentary this was. It's produced by the Cameron Dallas and the guys from MadCon I'm sue had input in how it all came together, and yet noone came out looking good in this. There are moments, some people have them more than others, where they come across as entitled, spoilt brats.  Fascinating. Go watch.

Blackish

The Fosters

The Mindy Project 

Suits

Iron Fist 
I have too many feelings about this so I'll do a whole post for next week.

My immediate to watch list this Spring is; Beauty and the Beast, Elle, Doctor Strange and GRACE AND FRANKIE which is on out on Netflix this TODAY!
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without makeup for 8 weeks




I love make-up as much as the next person. I love the feeling of putting it on, the more highlighter the better and, there is nothing quite like applying lipstick. I love that makeup can lift me slightly out of a bad mood and make me feel confident. I say all that to say that not wearing makeup for the past, now 8 weeks, was not even a choice. I was travelling back from England and I left my make-up bags at home. *le cry* I'd literally just purchased a brand new MAC concealer for £18 as in, I was really bummed.

Id say I'm pretty confident without make-up. Yes I love it, but I don't like wearing it everyday (That's just me. Some people do and that's great, others hate it and that's great too. Whether or not you like blusher isn't exactly a reflection into your soul). So I won't be seeing my Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation till at least the beginning of June and while that makes me legit sad, it's not rocking my world.
But after watching Ariel's video recent video on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's new book Dear Ijeawele, and hearing her thoughts on feminism + makeup, I was confronted with the possibility that I've become dependent on makeup. Now, I think this idea of "dependency" makes people feel uncomfortable because you might hear people saying for instance, women are "dependent" on makeup/clothes/surgery to feel good about themselves. And I think anyone who reguarly wears makeup can attest to the fact that the main reason we wear it is because we like it. And also, so what if you need foundation to pick you up and feel more confident? As Chimamanda Ngoz Adichie once said, "makeup is just makeup. It's how it makes you feel that counts."

I for instance love because of the way clothes I love and choose, make me feel confident + happy + good about myself. And If I wear clothes I don't like, I just don't feel as comfortable so it's quite important to me. It's of course not that deep for everyone and it's a case of just doing what you want. Thing is, I want to feel as great without makeup as I do with it on. On the days where I don't have it on (now everyday), it feels like I'm not making an effort. Or that I'm not being presentable. Those three/four days where I've got my bare face are my "down days"/"chilled out days"/"not going to change the world today days".

I'm not comfortable that because I wasn't raised like that and I miss the freedom and confidence I used to have with just my bare face. Somewhere down the track, I decided that I "needed" foundation. And I think that's because expectations society places on women. Ariel talks about how for instance in the work place, if you turn up to an interview without a scrap of makeup, people think you're not making an effort. I don't think I'm imagining things when I say, it sends out a message that you don't care about yourself, or the job. The same can be said for shaving your legs, wearing your natural hair (makes you statistically less likely to be employed), not wearing heals. The list goes on.

I didn't grow up believing I had to do any of this. My Mum is always put together as in super well dressed; and brought both myself and brother up to be the same. Not even in the sense of having the most expensive/stylish clothes but just to always be clean, presentable with the clothes I have and confident in who you are, what you can do and what you bring to the table. And if I look whack, she'll be the first to say it. But she never told me I had to wear makeup, or get a weave, or shave my legs. And up until university, even though I started wearing makeup before, I was perfectly happy.  I wear makeup, but I don't shave my legs in the winter, I've been wearing my natural hair for 2 years now, and I own one pair of heels. So there are times I feel I fall short of whatever is "expected" of me. 

Going make-up free has been good for me. Not only do I now pay far more attention to my skin, but (a bit like the first time I cut my hair), I've now had to source confidence from elsewhere.
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Monday, 20 March 2017

films I watched to pick me up this week


I've been feeling so unsure of myself recently, particularly this week. What am I doing after uni, why don't I have a life plan, am I eating okay, my French isn't as good as it should be, feeling insecure in my body, feeling insecure about this blog and blah blah blah. It's been not fun and emotionally uncomfortable. But, I think I'm coming out of it.  I've been recently reminded of God's complete love for me that is unconditional and secure! So I've been basking in it. Baskinggg. I also watched these carefully picked films, back to back - which really helped. All the characters have issues with insecurity which they thankfully overcome.

The Devil Wears Prada
This film is so good and I feel like not many people really caught that on until later? I mean Emily (Emily Blunt) is one of my favourite on-screen characters - ever. Anyway the film is of course about Andrea (Anne Hathaway)  who, basically feels very unsure of herself in this world of fashion. But she blossoms (having a psycho boss was arguably a catalyst) into this complete Girlboss with her life together and without even realising. Which, is like real life, right?! I mean we don't see when we're making progress, but we are!

The Princess Diaries
We've got a bit of an Anne Hathaway trend going on here. Princess Mia again doubts she'll be a great princess and to be honest, she should. The only reason she ends up being great is because it's a film and someone could write it that way. But the point is, being different is what makes her amazing.
On another note, isn't the plot of The Intern, again with Anne Hathaway? Is she okay?

Legally Blonde
You know what, this is wrong because Elle is already confident and sure of herself, from the beginning. But then other people's insecurity makes her doubt herself. Ugh. Anyway, she proves them wrong and stays true to herself in the end. All is well.

The Duff
In Bianca's case, there are just a tonne of bullies basically. The situation isn't right but it forces her to be more confident and by the end, she's a much more confident version of herself.
Side note - both the book and the film are great and on-par, but they're two completely different creatures. I'd recommend both.
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Friday, 17 March 2017

The Weekend Edit: a roundup of my favourites


Saturday mornings are my new favourite thing about my life. For the first time in a long time (and probably never again so making the most of it), I sleep in and wake up with nothing to do - glorious. Once in a while, I'm going to share everything I like reading, watching and listening to on my duvet Saturdays, while eating and semi-sleeping in ma bed. A bit of inspo for you, when catch a break too 

Listen
When I wake up, but I'm not fully awake, I love catching up on my podcasts.

Anna Farris is Unqualified: ep86 with Lauren Graham
I've rediscovered this podcast and the roleplay they did on this ep with Lauren Graham and Anna Farris being the needy obsessed fan was comedy gold.

Ctrl Alt Delete: ep66 with Imriel Morgan
Every chat on this podcast leaves me feeling more inspired.  This interview with Imriel really gives you a sense of the inspiration, passion and groundbreaking work behind The Shout Network. Mostly Lit is my go-to book podcast + I recently discovered Melanin Millennials and i just makes me so proud that we live in a world where this network exists! To give a platform for voices that haven't previously had a place in our mainstream media. 

Read
The first posts I read are often beaut outfit style posts. The posts on Sea of Shoes, are always beautifully curated and always with a good story behind the outfit. 

As someone who would like to travel a bit more but doesn't really lust after it in the same way it seems many millennials do, Harriet's post is refreshing and honest, in the sea 

C'est la vie Mon Cherie 
Spring is here! Well, spring sales are here and Liv's style is pretty close to mine. I feel like I'd wear anything she puts together. I love this outfit and in generally love perusing her site for outfit inspiration.

Top Ten Books on My Spring 2017 
Every month I buy 4 books. Rather than reading individual reviews, it's nicer to have a comprehensive list.

The Big Generational Divide? 
You all know I love a long juicy post mentally stimulating post. This one about the generational divide I think is an extension of a podcast episode Emma had a few weeks ago. This time round, Emma gives more insight into the relationship millennials have with the digital world and how, its becoming quite an empowering thing for a lot of young people. Good one to check out.

The True Cost
Where our clothes come from has been weighing heavily on me over the last few months. When you start to realise your shopping habits are feeding into an industry that exploits mainly women and children? Ew. I say read this, if you're not convinced.

What's on your bookshelf? with Nicola
Shameless plug. But I'm so proud of this post! It was such a good chat and there are more to come so read this in the meantime.


Watch
By the time I've finished going though my blog posts, I make myself some breakfst and retreat to my bed where I catch up on YouTube, check out stuff on Netflix ... Yes these mornings are like a 4 hour affair. 

Cornflakes No Sugar: SCENARIO #4 | "YOU BETTER RESPECT MY RELATIONSHIP"
A group of friends that just talk through what they'd do in different situations. This is the most recent video and as always, this friendship group come out with the funniest one liners. It's just makes for chilled, fun watching.

Patricia Bright: MY NEW HOUSE - EMPTY HOUSE TOUR
This is the first YouTube channel I ever watched and subscribed too so it's so great to see how far the channel and Patricia has come :')

And of course, IRON FIST IS OUT ON NETFLIX TODAY. I'm going to try and pace myself this time round. I'll try.

Happy Weekend! xo

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Friday, 10 March 2017

What's on your bookshelf? with Nicola from itsneecola. We talk Self Help, Spirituality + Khloe Kardashian



I’m prefacing this by saying that this is a brand-new series.  I sit down with people doing cool things and ask them what’s on their bookshelf and what they read. I don’t know if what you read is a reflection on your character …? But I’m nosy and the first thing I do when I go round someone’s house, is gravitate towards their bookshelves. So this is that, in blog post form. I know I’m not the only one who does this, so I hope this gives you reading inspo and/or just satisfies your curiosity – it definitely satisfies mine.

Like I said, I wouldn’t say what you read is a huge eye-opener into who you are to the core, but I do think some of our choices can be explained by maybe memories we hold onto, our character, what we’re passionate about etc etc etc. And at least that’s what I’d say looking at my own pile of books right now, and what I found to be the case with my friend Nicola from the blog, itsneecola. Our shelves are pretty different and I thought they would be; which just made the conversation so much more interesting. Because as someone who reads pretty often, you think you have and know about this whole world of literature and, all these books influencing you. And when you talk to someone else about what they read, you realise you haven’t even scratched the surface.


Nicola started as a beauty blogger but that’s since expanded to lifestyle and self-development. Her posts are informative, inspirational and encouraging and a must read It should then come as little surprise then when we were chatting about why she started reading, it was at a time “when my mental health wasn’t doing so great and I wanted to read something calm and relaxing to read before bed”. Her go to books of choice? The Number One's Ladies Detective Agency, of which her mum has all 17 and counting, and passes them down to her.

*Queue a little fangirl moment on my part*

This is possibly my favourite book series ever. And to be honest, I couldn’t quite believe I know another person (irl) who also loves these books! In case you have yet to hop onto this bandwagon, the series is set in Botswana and is about a Mma Ramostwe , 'a traditionally built woman' who runs the country’s first and only female run detective agency. “They just have really simple problems and like, logical solutions … I just find them so relaxing to read … "It also really made me want to go to Botswana”. I've never been to southern Africa, but I too can attest to this. The people, food, atmosphere and culture seeps through these books.

Speaking of worldliness and travelling, a while back I read a post by Nicola called Be Your Own Coach , about how not everyone can have access to a therapist but, how  you can still be your own self-help coach by making use of the many resources available to you, such as books. Nicola actually reads quite a lot of self-help and it’s definitely something we delved into.

Source

"A few years ago I was working with a network marketing company, whose ethos was about self-development and I think that’s how I started getting into it.” Before this chat I’d say I knew nothing about self-development books. I always thought they had a reputation of being quite out-there and not giving very tangible or helpful advice. But Nicola hasn’t "personally had any bad experiences or read any *bad* books". And one thing I did take away from our conversation is that there is sort of a scale when it comes to self-help books. Here are some books Nicola isolated:

Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian. Which we had a bit of a giggle about because it’s one of those books where, if you judged it by the cover or the fact that it’s by a Kardashian, you may not gravitate towards it. ... No shade. But it's actually been really well received. "It’s not really mystical self-help. It’s more of a case of, she went through shit, she got through shit and here's how she did it". And the book is divided into 3 sections, body, mind and heart – which is surprisingly quite practical considering I thought it was more of a biography.

How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“It was the first self-care book i read and it kick-started my interest in those sort of books ... I'd say it's a solid self-development book"

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
As always "the book is definitely better than the film, and you’ll get a lot more out of it practically, if you read the book first”.

The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron

“I'd recommend it for anyone considering a career in mental healthcare or counselling. Or actually for anyone and everyone who has been through/experienced or simply needs to learn more about mental health. It offers a very honest and real view.”

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

"It reads quite nicely but maybe it’s a bit more *hard core* self-help, because it’s about Taoism”

The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success by Andy McNab
“It is actually really good, but I don’t think it reads or flows quite as well. It’s also really long.”

We then had a bit of quick fire round: 
If there's one book on your shelves/in your collection, that you'd recommend straight away, what would it be?

“It depends on the person and the situation [they’re in] so I’ve got a couple”
What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

"I wouldn’t say I'm a religious person but I think I'm spiritual. And if there's things you want to know about God, the world, and you just want to sort out things out in your head, I’d recommend this one."

The Shack by Wm Paul Young
Nicola's passion for this book, legit makes me want to read it, like right now. "It is so intense. The main character just goes through some horrific things. But I think if you're going through stuff, this is the one. But yeah, it's very intense."

You're on a desert island and you can only take 2 books - what would they be and why?

“If I was stranded and about to die, I’d probably read The Shack - just as an inspirational one and to you know, know that everything would be alright in the end. Or maybe The Number One Ladies Detective Agency again? I’d want something relaxing and quite light. … Or maybe I'd burn an encyclopaedia to make a fire.” – Keeping it practical. Also, remember encyclopaedias?! What a throwback.

The Passion Flower Massacre by Nicola Morgan

“I'd say it was my first ever "favourite" book as a teenager and was my go-to recommendation to anyone for years and years!”

What’s next on your list to read?

This question opened an unexpected can of worms because Nicola has super organised TBR, on a Word Document, that is 5 pages long, and is ever impending and ever growing. #goals

Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon is one of them, which I thought was interesting given it’s been quite controversial. “This whole question of whether we can be feminists and love make up and care about our appearance - obviously, I think we can, but I want concrete answers”

“I’m also looking for books that give concrete answers on the relationship between religion and astrology. I want to know the thought process behind things like star signs and also whether religion and astrology are compatible? … I also want to read the Lord of the Rings books. I love the films but I’ve never read the book. Just in case I ever wanted to get a tattoo or something from Lord of the Rings, I’d want to really know my stuff.”

I learnt so much from this chat. Nicola's smart, self aware and; her recommendations, especially on self-help books, definitely broadened my horizons. You know, past Cheryl Strayed. 

Posts to check out on itsneecola:
Honestly
Invisible Illness



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