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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to be read
8/31/2019

to be read



Hello! Long time, no write. Whoops. So....strange how that seems to happen yet I feel like I write all the time but somehow this poor lil' corner of the interwebs gets a bit neglected. And I feel guilty about it. So naturally it makes sense to be writing now, at almost midnight. Logic is fabulous. Anyway anyway, today I thought I'd do something a bit different and talk about books I am hoping to read soon. Aka the "tbr"/to be read pile!  There's a mix of new books, a classic I am yet to read, some Booker prize candidates and more...

The Truants x Kate Weinberg: This recommendation comes straight from the lovely Chloe at Unity Books Auckland. Side note: Chloe has the best recommendations so go in and ask her for bookish suggestions if you are in the city. Anyway, here we have a campus novel, this time set in Norwich and it gives off Donna Tartt vibes but in a dare I say it, more accessible way. I'm only about a third of the way through it but it's a book you can easily immerse yourself in and I feel like I will be lauding it as the perfect beach read in a couple month's time. 

Trick Mirror x Jia Tolentino: One of my most highly anticipated essay volumes of the year, bought to my attention by Madeleine and what feels like everyone whose reading recommendations I trust online. Jia Tolentino's writing is a highlight of reading the New Yorker-which admittedly I don't read enough but anyway.  From the little snippets and interviews I have been reading to tide me over until it arrives in New Zealand, I am sure it's gonna deliver the goods.

Ghost Wall x Sarah Moss: This is Time Out's next Lit Read and was a contender for the Women's fiction prize this year. A book I have been meaning to read for a while so this seems like the perfect occasion. I have been told it's one you can read in one sitting so maybe I need to set aside some quiet evening with wine and this for escapement. I will keep you posted...

The Bell Jar x Sylvia Plath: A classic that somehow I have never read, despite reading a fair bit of Plath's writings now. Well I say somehow,  there is something daunting about this book to me for whatever reason but more on that some other time. I've already read a book about this book, I know, so meta *ahem* and while it feels wrong to say I am looking forward to reading it-that's the truth of the matter.

Ducks, Newburyport x Lucy Ellmann: Another awards longlist contender, this time for the Man Booker Prize. And it is mighty, clocking in at 1020 pages. I will let this review from Jay do the rest of the talking for you. 

Animals x Emma Jane Unsworth: One of the NZIFF highlights which sadly I missed but in the interim, there is this gem of a book. I say it's a gem in a somewhat prophetic way but hey, Caitlin Moran loves it and that's enough for me. 

Year of the Monkey x Patti Smith: Ah Patti Smith, her writing is the tonic and I am so so looking forward to this new volume which is being released very soon. And underlining. And reading and re-reading. I love Patti Smith a lot, can you tell?

-What is on your 'to be read' pile?

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Three Women x Lisa Taddeo
7/22/2019

Three Women x Lisa Taddeo



A book this detail driven demands to be read. To be thrust into the hands of women. To be discussed. To be dissected. To be contemplated. After immersing myself in an advance copy of Three Women* x Lisa Taddeo, I am ready to talk about it. 

My copy of this book is adorned with smudges. The covers are worn and frayed. Post-it notes are nestled in its pages and it barely left my side for a good week or so. A cover this decadent can only hint at the indulgent and lustrous text about to unfold. Blessed be the fruit; the desire of love, and sex and passion. 

Three Women unfolds in a novelistic fashion as Lisa Taddeo interviews Lina, Maggie and Sloane over an eight year period. It never feels unreal but the way in which each narrative unfurls around one another shows just how interwoven lust and desire are in our lives. We have Maggie, a now twenty-something who was infatuated by her high school teacher-until life unravels and she comes to terms with what he did to her, Lina-a woman lost in a loveless marriage and Sloane-a woman whose sexuality serves as a prop for her husband to manipulate.

These are all tales of women and it is through their dialogue that we see snapshots of ourselves. The women in our lives. The women of the #metoo era. Women we may never meet.

We see the power of lust and desire. Like the succulent cornucopia of fruit that Taddeo writes of in her introduction; "plump figs, small but glorious strawberries, glistening cherries, wine grapes."

Taddeo expertly creates a nonfiction, journalistic snapshot of desire and lust as we know them today. This is a book that is decadent and evocative. It unfolds like an evening spent luxuriating over a glass of wine. You will feel like 'the crystals under skin'. Electric. Fired up.

Three Women is a dazzling, unforgettable read and Taddeo has created a masterpiece-akin to a still-life, much like the decadent bowl of fruit on her book's cover. Irresistible. Unputdownable. 

*Review copy



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Five Things: July
7/15/2019

Five Things: July




Hey hi, 'tis July! What even is this sorcery. The passage of time (obviously) but seriously, how the flip does it end up being July so quickly!? Marvels aside, today I have five things to wax lyrical on; from poetry to essays, films to listens and even a lil' beauty spot. Have a nosy...

NZIFF is here: Aka the one where I miss being a student, if only so I could study and sneak off to films in between lectures and tutorials. I digress, NZIFF is back for 2019 and it is quite the lineup. I am only gonna be making it to this but I wish I was able to see more. I recommend you check out Maddy's post of films to watch this festival season. 

This essay x Florence Welch: "I tend to look back on that time with a mix of nostalgia and terror. There's a part of me that's in awe of that girl, her total disregard for self-preservation, how she could run at the world headfirst, eyes closed, with no care for the consequences." Florence Welch wrote an essay for British Vogue and first and foremost, can she write more essays please!? This is brilliant. She perfectly encapsulates the feelings and worries of adult life but at the same time the brilliance of I guess finding calm in the chaos. Read it.

The one with Fleabag: Aka Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Yes, I am still talking about Fleabag+PWB. Sorry, not sorry. Anyway, she is back on Elizabeth Day's How To Fail podcast and it is brilliant. I laughed out loud at my desk in the office #noshame. Loved it. Going to listen to it again. 

The Green Room: One of my pals Steph has set up this awesome, holistic skincare experience in the Hawkes Bay and it looks like a treat. Steph has over 14 years experience and is super clued up on all things skincare. Seriously, she is my personal Google sometimes (sorry, Steph). Anyway, she offers two facial experiences; intuitive skin sculpting and intuitive skin clearing. She uses Tribeca Skin Tonics in her studio which I've heard are amazing. So if you're in the Hawkes Bay, go check it out. I'm quietly envious of y'all getting to experience Steph's magic! 

Luminescent x Nina Powles:  I read this a couple of months ago and loved it. It was in the middle of a work day and I needed a moment of quiet+solitude and escapism and these chapbooks delivered. I particularly loved Sunflowers, about Katherine Mansfield and Her+The Flames about Phyllis Porter, a ballet dancer struck by tragedy. The whole collection is beautiful. You can have a read of two of the Katherine Mansfield poems here


-I hope y'all are having good July's so far! I will be back soon(ish)-I hope, with a book review.
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June Wrap Up
6/30/2019

June Wrap Up



Y'know the drill here, the month is nearly over so it's time to do my lil' curation. I apologise for the blog silence this month and I am hoping to remedy that, despite July looking a bit bu-sy. Points for trying or something? Anyway, here are the things loved, good and read from June. Enjoy!

Five Things I Loved:

* Kitchen Table Sessions- For someone who loves theatre so much, I make it to a dismal amount of shows but my friend Lucie was stage-managing/slaying for this show and I wanted to go along to support her+her friends so I did. And it was awesome. Hosted by Kate Barnes, each night featured different guests who all gathered to banter all things food, tell stories, drink some beverages and share their favourite foods+recipes with us. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention-there was food. We had regular food intermissions. It was AMAZING. And live performances from Lips who are the geniuses behind the Daffodils soundtrack. It was a treat and I *think* they are going to be hosting these again so if you can, I highly recommend you head along. 'Tis a good time. 

* Fleabag-Yes I am ridiculously late to this bandwagon but I am here. I get it now. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius and Fleabag is hilarious, relatable, tear-jerkingly funny yet also incredibly poignant. Can you tell I love it quite a bit? I also feel incredibly *seen* by the character of Fleabag to be quite honest. Please watch it if you haven't yet seen it. I haven't laughed this hard at a TV show in a long time. Side note: Olivia Colman is a national treasure. 

* Drunk Elephant 'Out of Office' Set-While I have no plans to jetset soon *sad face* I am so glad I picked this lil' trio up because two of the products I've tried are new staples for me. Firstly, Lippe Balm. It is the business. My lips usually go to pieces in Winter (thx seasonal change) but this seems to be putting an end to that. I like how it's nourishing, without feeling like you are wearing a ton of lip balm. It's doing its job but without being obnoxious like a big rainbow jumper demanding to be noticed. Secondly, D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops. I am obsessed. I need the full size in my life please and thanks. As well as being a serum, these give your complexion a touch of the sunkissed glow. In a subtle, yes I have been on a tropical holiday but not gone overboard on the tan, way. 

* Katherine Mansfield Letters and Journals-One of my secondhand bookstore finds from this month and it is a delight. Ali Smith reignited my interest in all things Mansfield with her latest novel Spring, as did the emergence of a certain Mansfield-themed garden that has cropped up in the Hamilton Gardens. Weird segway, anyway. Mansfield's diary entries and letters are so beautifully written and decadent gems of insight into the woman herself. I love how sassy she is too. 

* Derry Girls-I feel like this sat on my Netflix watchlist for way too long but never fear, for I have seen all of Season 1 and a couple of Season 2 episodes. It follows Erin, a teenaged girl in Ireland during the troubles+her host of eclectic friends and family. It's hilarious and so well-written. I'm not sure if it's semi-autobiographical but it felt that way. If that makes sense. Anyway, it's good. Watch it.


Five Good Things

* I wrote, a lot: I'm actually really freakin' proud of this because the motivation for writing has been a bit hit and miss of late. This month though I decided I'd do as many 'pitches' to publications as I could do. I think I ended up doing three or four which probably doesn't sound like heaps but nonetheless I am proud of myself for knuckling down and getting on with some writing that extends beyond journaling and writing for myself. So yay me! I'm hoping to carry it on over the next few months too so wish me luck.

* Drink Eat Neo: One of my friends had a birthday earlier in the month so we went for a late lunch to this gem tucked away in Auckland CBD. We had their cheese board+non-alcoholic mojitos. The perks of work weeks (I mean...). Anyway, it was a good time, and it was delish and it is a beautifully designed space. I highly recommend you give it a visit if you're in Auckland. I will definitely be going back sometime soon. 

* New Music: So a few of my faves dropped new music this month; Benee, Vampire Weekend and the Jonas Brothers. All different. All brilliant. Also, not exactly 'new' music but High As Hope, one of my favourite albums had its first birthday recently and Melodrama x Lorde turned 2 this month. Good month for music, June.

* Book Club: I don't always make it to book club but when I do 'tis a good time. This month we discussed Spring x Ali Smith, which I have reviewed already here. Ali Smith seems to generate polarising discussion so it made for really well-rounded, interesting banter. I am not gonna lie, some opinions ruffled my feathers a tad....such is the case of being a biased fangirl. But yeah, book clubs are great. I love 'em. 

* Flowers, just because: Proteas are around and about at this time of year and I wanted one. I wanted a stem and didn't want to wait for someone to get me flowers which tbh, would probably be a long wait (ha). Anyway, I feel like buying flowers for oneself is one of those things I have turned into an insecurity....I dunno, my mind works in interesting ways. And you know what-why should it be something to feel weird about? Buy yourself the flowers-don't wait for an excuse.


Books Read in June

*Normal People x Sally Rooney: I wanted a comfort read, a book which I love and will forever love. A book where I can find gleamings of familiarity within its pages, beauty within Rooney's words. Just as wonderful a second time around.

*Too Much & Not The Mood x Durga Chew-Bose: Another re-read and a book which is now messy with my random scribblings and underlinings. Clearly I have picked this book up on a whim more than once as lines of black and blue and pink and turquoise scatter its pages. There's something really mesmerising and enticing to Durga's prose. 

*How To Fail x Elizabeth Day: The tonic in book form, read my thoughts here. And then go listen to the podcast. I recommend Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Dolly Alderton's episodes in particular.

*Brown Girls In Bright Red Lipstick x Courtney Sina Meredith: One of Tayi Tibble's favourite books. I loved this thin slip of a book and wish it was more widely available+discussed because I think women in particular need to get ahold of it. 

*The Casual Perfect x Lavinia Greenlaw: Another secondhand bookstore find. I love Lavinia Greenlaw's poetry a lot and I did like this volume a lot too. Night Photograph is still my favourite but this one is up there as well.

-And then I also re-read Harry Potter #3 and some more poetry volumes. So not a lot of reading happened in June (whoops).

-What did you love during June?



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