The Testaments x Margaret Atwood
10/20/2019

The Testaments x Margaret Atwood



So I am a bit behind on the bandwagon but I only just read The Handmaid's Tale x Margaret Atwood this year. I know. What the heck. To be fair, I did start it and for whatever, unprecedented reason I shelved it and then revisited it in the week or so before its sequel was unleashed upon the world. And I am obsessed with the TV show now too. Anyway, getting ahead of myself here.

I avoided reading The Handmaid's Tale for a long time. Why? I think I was scared to. And not in a, I will have nightmares for days kind of sense. More the, this is going to seemingly remind me of real life and in an unnerving kind of way. Which it does. For a book that was first released in 1985, it was incredibly foretelling. Is Margaret Atwood psychic? Perhaps. What's interesting to note as well is that anything in The Handmaid's Tale, whether it be the book or TV series is based on something that has happened in reality. Yep. 

Anyway, today we are here to talk about The Testaments*, one of the co-winners of this year's Booker Prize. Which excites me because Margaret Atwood is brilliant and I have loved everything of hers that I have read thus far-my backlist is long! The follow-up to The Handmaid's Tale set about to answer the questions of what happened to Offred and whether Gilead still exists. What that version of the world is like today. The book is split into three plotlines; Aunt Lydia (yes, she is back people), Daisy and Agnes. Daisy was smuggled out of Gilead as a baby and now lives in Toronto. Agnes is growing up inside Gilead. 

I don't really want to expand upon the plotline beyond what I have already said because it will spoil things considerably for anyone who hasn't read it yet and I know how lame that is as a reader. What I will say though is this is a really satisfying read, the threads are all well-developed and presented. They all somewhat intertwine as well but *insert zipped lips emoji here*. 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Testaments. It was an incredibly satisfying read and as a newfound fan of The Handmaid's Tale, it further cemented why that book is one of my all-time favourites now. Even if I am late to the party. It's fast paced, suspenseful, and unputdownable. No really, I had many a late night reading this and I don't regret a single second of it.

The Testament's is available now from bookstores far and wide. Let's hope we women never lose the luxury of reading, as is the case in Gilead. Okay, maybe THAT is one nightmare I have had before. 


-Have you read The Testaments? What did you think of it?

*Review Copy

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Five Things: October
10/19/2019

Five Things: October



Hello and Happy October! As per usual I am over here marvelling the passage of time, don't ever consider turning that in to a drinking game future Sophie, if you are reading. This week actually ended up being rather busy somehow-lotta spontaneous hangs and the rest so I am only just blogging now, on a Saturday night. It was that or the rugby and come on, you know what I'd rather be doing. So five things for October. We have some stationery, socks, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Patti and politics. Enjoy!

The Politician (Netflix): Where Ryan Murphy leads-theatrics and potential musical theatre numbers follow. And Jessica Lange, always Jessica Lange. Murphy's latest series, a Netflix exclusive focuses on a student body presidential election. Starring Ben Platt as Payton, the ambitious, extremely driven teen with Harvard and eventually the White House in his sights.  Lucy Boynton is also fantastic as Astrid Sloan, Payton's rival presidential candidate. The Politician also deals with topical issues for teenagers and young adults alike but never in a way that feels insensitive. As this is a Ryan Murphy show it brings the drama and hilarity in equal measure. I loved it. The costuming also didn't disappoint either. Where else will we see Gwyneth Paltrow in what can only be described as the kaftan to end all kaftans? 

Olivia Purvis x Papier: One of my favourite pen-pals and blogging ladies Olivia, has only gone and collaborated with stationery gems Papier on her own exclusive collection. Cue me internally squealing with delight. Liv loves her stationery so I KNEW it was going to be a golden combination. There's pastel pinks, burnt oranges, gingham, Liv's signature doodles. It is dreamy I tell ya. So if you are in need of some beautiful notecards, notebooks or a dishy new diary for 2019, head here

Patti Smith Newness: It's not really a secret to anyone that I lovelovelove Patti Smith's writing. Just like it's no secret to anyone I love Phoebe Waller-Bridge but I am getting ahead of myself. Patti has recently dropped two new books** full of her beautiful prose and imagery. Our shelves and minds are in for a treat. First up, we have Year of the Monkey. A rumination on 2016. She writes of stories and dreams. Recurring motifs. Facts melding with fiction. It is an exquisite slip of a book that will hypnotise you. She has also released Just Kids in an absolutely beautiful, illustrated format. Perfect for coffee tables or luxuriating over with said beverage in bed on Sunday mornings. The latter which I have been doing. I know some of you will balk at the mention of the festive season but both would make perfect gifts. 

BCFNZ x Glassons: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Glassons have bought their designer collaborations back for a good cause. With a help from some of their friends like Twenty Seven Names and Shaaanxo to name a couple, they have released a range of scarves and socks. All proceeds go to the New Zealand Breast Cancer foundation and they are all super cute. My pick are these socks x Twenty Seven Names.

Fleabag & The Messy Woman: Could I go an entire post without mentioning PWB in some capacity? Probs not. Not even sorry about it. Madeleine perfectly articulates what it is about Fleabag and the messy woman that just makes them so endearing. As does Jia Tolentino in her essay about self-optimisation from Trick Mirror. Give Maddy's post a read here


**Both these books were kindly sent to me for review by Bloomsbury but all thoughts and admiration for Patti Smith's word magic are my own.
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September Wrap Up
10/07/2019

September Wrap Up



September vanished with a flourish and while I realise we are now nearly a week into October, for my own sense of re-establishing some semblance of a blog routine, I am back with September's roundup for you all. You know the drill-things loved, good bits from the month and what I read. Enjoy! 

Five Things Loved

Neo Tarot: This was a gift from my friend Steph for my birthday in August and I love it. I've never had my cards read before and I hadn't ever used tarot cards until she got me a set. While I don't consider myself an expert by any means, I love the ritualistic act of drawing cards for the week. I do this every Sunday afternoon and then go through the guide attached to the deck and decipher their meanings+how it may fit into my life. It's a part of my routine I really enjoy and I love how these ones come with a focus on self-care as well. 

Maybelline Lash Serum: I've been to Chemist Warehouse a couple of times recently and this was one of the products that came home with me. To be quite honest, I was skeptical about it and whether or not it'd actually work but it seems to have had some effect. Granted, I already have quite thick eyelashes, they definitely seem to appear lengthened and fuller. I'd definitely buy this again as it's a lot cheaper than some of the other lash serums on the market, always a bonus. 

The Goldfinch (film): First things first, reviews are worth ignoring sometimes. Such as in the case of this film. The Goldfinch, adapted from Donna Tartt's Pulitzer winning epic, is wonderful. Unfortunately I missed the first 15-20 minutes of the movie but what I did see was amazing. Given the filmmakers had the task of cramming 700 odd pages into two and a half hours, they managed to condense it enough without leaving crucial plot points and details out. Oh and speaking of details, this film is so nuanced and finely tuned. It perfectly encapsulates how you'd envision a Donna Tartt palette or aesthetic if you will, to appear on screen. Well worth the watch-it seems to have had a limited release in New Zealand but definitely go see it if you can.

Spring: My favourite season of all seasons. Flowers in bloom, the coldness in the air is beginning to dissipate and the daylight sticks around for longer. Oh and cherry blossoms-I nearly pulled over on the side of a country road to take pictures of some recently. In rush-hour traffic, well for that stretch of road-so naturally I reconsidered. Anyway, I love Spring. It's the best. End of discussion.

School of Rock-The Musical: Auckland was home to this show during September. Based on the film of the same name and brought to life with music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, it's a fun, electric show. All the kids in this show play their own instruments as well as being triple threats and I was incredibly impressed by their talent. Not to mention, childhood Sophie could never. I think this iteration has gone back to Australia so to my pals across the ditch, go give it a watch. 


Five Good Things

Market Trips: When I've managed to wake up early enough on a Saturday I've been going to one of the local morning markets. Fresh produce, plants, baked goods, crystals, homewares and a continual bustle of people. Also, a great way to get cheap fruit+veg and flowers. You may have noticed orchid stems making their way into my photos a bit recently, this is where I am getting them from.

'Steptember': During the month of September, my department at work did a 'Steptember' challenge, aka the one where I become deeply invested and buy a Fitbit. The latter, something I swore I'd never do. Anyway, it was surprisingly a lot of fun, I rediscovered my love of walking. In the end I finished fifth and my highest steps day was around the 15, 000 mark so I was quite chuffed. Now to maintain that walking...

Late nights reading: Can this be classed as a good thing? Maybe not but any time spent reading=a good time. Lately it seems I like the witching hour when everything is quiet and still. Also, the brilliant books I have had the pleasure of reading lately are totally to blame. How dare they be so unputdownable. Ahem, Margaret Atwood and Jia Tolentino, I am looking at you.

New Lana: I have already written about this here but all month, Norman Fcking Rockwell has been what I keep coming back to. I love it. Not exaggerating when I say it will probably be one of those albums I repeatedly play for years. 

Soap for Society: This month, the lovely Lucy's initiative, inspired by Sali Hughes (one of my beauty industry loves) came back to Wellington, as well as Auckland and Christchurch. Soap for Society shines the light on hygiene poverty and gets us all to reach into our beauty cabinets and give generously to those in need. I organised collection boxes at a couple of my current+former workplaces and among friends+family gathered donations. If you are reading, thank you all so much for your generosity. It wasn't until I hit the aisles of Chemist Warehouse, arguably one of the cheaper locations for beauty+sanitary bits 'n pieces, that it hit home just how much these things cost when added up. Things I am sure many of us take for granted; like hand soap, or the lipstick we nonchalantly toss in our bags. If you ever get a chance to support drives like these, I strongly urge you to do so. 

Books Read

Motherhood x Sheila Heti: What a book. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did but Motherhood was such a breath of fresh air. The novel, autofiction perhaps (?) unfolds as a stream of consciousness. To have a child, to not have a child. How these feelings women feel are interpreted by society. What this says about us as women. While this book doesn't neatly answer the question of whether or not to mother, maybe that is the whole point. How can one neatly answer that question? 

Diary of a Miu Miu Salesgirl x Jennifer Wong: One of the first poetry volumes published by 'bitter melon poetry', a small press founded by Nina Mingya Powles. I really enjoyed this collection and it was beautifully designed and presented. 

The Handmaid's Tale+The Testaments* x Margaret Atwood: Ah, praised be. Under His eye. I've been in a Handmaid's spell all September, more on this very soon. In short, I have loved both these books and The Handmaid's Tale television adaptation for Hulu. So good.

Trick Mirror x Jia Tolentino: I am still in the midst of finishing up this brilliant collection of essays but I wanted to jump on here and say it is wonderful. Evocative. Powerful. Poignant. Go get a copy and thank me later.



*Review Copy

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Five Things: September
9/22/2019

Five Things: September



Better late than never, or something? Somehow September is almost gonezo. Which is crazy. That being said, there is a lotta good new launches and reads around that demand to be shared. The rest will probably end up in my next wrap-up post...

YourShelf Podcast: Ok so I am a biased, long-distance friend but my pal Jay goes from strength to strength with his venture YourShelf. And I am proud as punch, long distance now that he has launched his brand new, bookish podcast. The first episode features Florence Welch & Rebecca Lucy Taylor of Self Esteem. It is brilliant and well worth the listen. I feel like decent book podcasts are hard to come by but this one is a gem. 

Margaret Atwood x The Gentlewoman: In case you have been living under a rock, The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale was released earlier in the month. More on all that soon. Well, The Gentlewoman, legends of the brilliant profile interviews that are a staple of their magazine interviewed Margaret Atwood. For their birthday issue no less. Anyway, it makes for brilliant, brilliant reading so settle in and have a peruse here

Norman Rockwell x Lana Del Rey: Blessed be the music gods and goddesses. I feel like 2019 has been spoiling us like crazy for new music. Not a bad thing and Lana's latest album is fantastic. Norman Fckn Rockwell feels like an evolution from Lust for Life and I am 100% here for it. I feel like all of Lana's albums are really distinctive and standalone yet still envelop themselves in the themes and lyricism we know and love her for; Americana, Literature, pop culture, love, sex. Standout tracks for me are: Happiness Is A Butterfly, Norman Fcking Rockwell, Venice Bitch, How To Disappear and The Next Best American Record. 

Flower Beauty: On a trip to Chemist Warehouse recently I finally had a chance to check out Flower Beauty, brainchild of Drew Barrymore. Cruelty free, luxurious makeup at an affordable price point? Yes please. I've been using and loving the Flower Pots blush and one of the pencil liners but I am keen to try more. 

Caroline Calloway: I feel like everybody has been talking about this profile and I have a lot of thoughts on it which I am slowly sifting through. There's something about Caroline Calloway that is dare I say it, admirable and extremely clever. She uses Instagram to tell stories and entice and she does it well. Heck, she even got a book deal out of it back in the day when that kind of thing was incredibly unusual. Whenever I see orchid stems now I think of her. And Matisse silhouettes. But anyway, read that essay and digest. 

-What has been on your radar this September?
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July + August Wrap Up
9/08/2019

July + August Wrap Up



Somehow we are now in Spring as I write this and both July and August have magically slipped away. Though to be far, both July and August were rather busy times with a lot going on. Seriously, I talked through a list of all the 'stuff' that happened recently and I had to pause and be like, well yeah that is a lot. No wonder I am perpetually tired. Anyway, as is standard, here's a lil' wrap up of things I loved, the good bits of the last few months and a selection of what I read during July in August. Enjoy!

Three Things Loved

-Legally Blonde: The Musical: The local theatre company in my town put this show on in July and it was so so so good. I mean, Legally Blonde is one of my alltime favourite, feel-good films and the musical brings the same energy and fabulousness. Go see it or listen to the cast recording at the very least if you get the opportunity to.

-Lover x Taylor Swift: I bet you thought Taylor Swift's name would never grace this blog again. She lost me with the Reputation era but Lover got me back. It reminds me of classic Taylor Swift but with more optimism. I suck at writing about music sorry but I dunno, I just really like this album. 

-Derry Girls Season 2, on Netflix: I don't think I have written about Derry Girls around these parts before but I LOVE it. A brilliant, well-written, hilarious and heartwarming show set during the Troubles. Read this article. It articulates it better than I ever could. 



Five Good Things

-I got published(!!): So I was sitting on this for a while but I am so excited and smitten to be in the latest issue of Counter Journal. Bonnie and Zack invited me to write about saving the bookstores of Aotearoa for their Sustainability issue. I don't think I can get across into words how cool it was to casually flick through the magazine upon opening it and be like "Oh hey, those are my words-I did that." And I know it's probably uncool to be like I am proud of myself but you know what, I am. If you want to grab the issue to support local print+read all the awesome stories and see Bonnie's amazing design skills, head here

-From Southend to Auckland: At the end of July+beginning of August we had some family friends visit New Zealand from the UK for the first time and it was the best. I had such an amazing time with them, playing tour guide for Auckland, which of course included mandatory Duck Island on a rather chilly day because, well why not. We also went to Wellington together and then my Mum ventured with them to Rotorua for a few days. Honestly, best two weeks and it was such a treat having you ladies here, if you are reading. Come back soon-I miss you, the Whittakers will always be plentiful xx. 

-Birthday Week: August saw my birthday come and go for another year. 'Twas lovely and tbh one of the best birthdays I've had in a while. It started, pre-birthday with High Tea at Hotel De Brett. Absolutely delish if you are in Auckland, and the gin cocktails are divine. Then my birthday day was spent with our friends from England, having lunch+berry cider at Good George in Mission Bay, followed by divine cake from The Caker. And then the festivities carried on as I had a belated pasta lunch with a friend of mine. So good company, food and drink+cake. Not complaining. 

-Heather's at Academy: In Auckland we have a lil' underground cinema called Academy and they play mainly nicher films as well as classics and the odd smattering of mainstream films. Anyway, they recently had a screening of Heathers, the Winona Ryder classic. High school, dark comedy and a clique to rival the Plastics. So good. "Dear diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count."  If you haven't seen it, it's well worth the watch. 

-Positive Reflection: Aka the one where I use my diary a lot more, write gratitude lists and I dunno, generally feel more optimistic. That's not to say I don't have moments when I feel more Negative Nancy than anything else but idk, lately I have just been more grateful? Maybe it's because of some of the random, unexpected life events that have happened in my life+the lives of my nearest and dearest recently. I mean, I am always overanalytical but anyway. Long story short, positive reflection is good guys!



Read in July and August

-Three Women* x Lisa Taddeo: I really want to read this again at some point because since publishing my review, I've read some interesting critiques and analysis of this book. Anyway, if you want to read my review after I finished an ARC I was sent prior to the book's release, head here

-The Great Gatsby x F Scott Fitzgerald, reread: Myself + a friend decided to read Penguin Classics, which has kinda halted since this as an aside. Anyway, this was a re-read for me as I read this around the time the Baz Luhrmann adaptation was released. I loved it. Don't get me wrong, I kinda strongly despise the characters in this book and think many of them are just absolutely shitty humans but I could wax lyrical about this for a while so I will stop. It's an easy and fascinating read. 

-Fleabag: The Script: In an effort to soothe my heartbroken soul at not seeing this gift performed live *weeps*, I ordered the script to read so I could at least enjoy its brilliance that way. I feel like the play is maybe a smidgen darker than the TV show but it is so clever and wonderful and I love Phoebe Waller-Bridge forever for writing this play and show. 

-Tatai Whetu: Seven Maori Women Poets in Translation: Another gem from Seraph Press, I grabbed this whilst I was in Wellington at the beginning of August from Unity Books. Poetry in English and also printed alongside it in Te Reo. Mirrored languages, mirrored texts. Beautiful, beautiful writing. In all honesty, it's one of my favourite volumes of New Zealand poetry that I've read in 2019. 

-How To Be Famous* x Caitlin Moran: The sequel to Caitlin's bestselling, soon to be film, How To Be Famous. This time Johanna is in London, living her best life as a music journalist for magazines. Or she thought it was her best life. This is Johanna Morrigan so of course there is wisdom but also mess-ups, humour and a touch of sadness. Though this novel isn't dark and dreary. In fact, it is really hilarious and great if you want something that is easy to immerse yourself in. 

*Review Copy

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