The Bookish Gift Guide '19

The Bookish Gift Guide '19

It's eleven days until Christmas! Work is starting to wind down, Summer/Winter are setting in, we get all nostalgic and we take time to be with our nearest and dearest. I know Christmas shopping can be stressful and books in particular can sometimes be a bit of a tricky thing to gift. My advice, find out what they have read and enjoyed this year-that is usually quite a good starting point. That or pick the brains of the lovely booksellers in your community. I have to give a shout out to Unity Books and Time Out here in Auckland because they are packed with friendly, well-read folk who know their stuff and are yet to recommend a dud, for myself or others. Today though, I will be doing the recommendations. I've tried to mix it up so there's a bit of all I love but also books I have read and gifted throughout the year. Many of these are books I have read during 2019 and enjoyed too. So if you want some reading recs, keep reading. Wow Sophie, so eloquent. Anyway...

Poetry: Validate Me x Charly Cox. One for the millennials, those who may be feeling a bit wary of the current state of the world (2019-what the heck) or just want a book that resonates. I particularly loved Charly's writing about her friendship with Elizabeth Day. So good. Other poetry volumes I rate for gifting; HeraTayiLavinia's brilliance.

Good Vibes: I guess I really mean books that are just a delight to read and immerse oneself in. The one book I think of time and again for this is Everything I Know About Love x Dolly Alderton. This is honestly such a beautiful book and Dolly is totally worthy of her modern-day Nora Ephron comparisons. 

The Cool Girl: Not the Amy Dunne level, props if you get that reference. For the babe in your life who maybe likes a book that is like a breath of fresh air. That evokes feelings of another time and place; beautiful imagery. A book that is thought-provoking as much as nostalgic. So first up we have I Used To Be Charming x Eve Babitz. One of my favourite discoveries of 2019 has been the work of Eve Babitz. This latest volume is a collation of her work for various publications as well as previously unpublished work. I describe her as the anti-Didion, but in a good way. Trick Mirror x Jia Tolentino. One of the New Yorker's brightest stars at present. She writes in a wonderful, nuanced way on everything from reality TV, to the decision to marry (or not), self preservation and more.

Royal Readers: Maybe they've immersed themselves in Season 3 of The Crown and demand more. Lady in Waiting* x Anne Glenconner is one of the best books I have read this year and one of the best royal-themed biographies. Lady Glenconner was part of Princess Margaret's inner circle and was married to Colin Tennant, aristocrat and the man responsible for turning Mustique into an idyllic getaway. She writes candidly and brilliantly, with humour and charm+fantastic insight into a life well lived. 

Love: That which is valued above all things. This year I read One Day x David Nicholls and loved it so I am really looking forward to reading his latest, Sweet Sorrow. If she loved One Day and maybe was a John Green fan once upon a time, this is bound to go down a treat. 

Music: A book I am sure is going to be on many a Christmas list is Me x Elton John. I don't have my copy here because one of my friends is borrowing it currently but I loved this book. So many brilliant stories and tales from a life that is anything but ordinary. John's co-writer did a fantastic job here. Another music book that would make a stunning Christmas gift, this exquisite illustrated edition of Just Kids* x Patti Smith. It is gorgeously presented in this larger format and is accompanied by images and illustrations from both Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. 

A Yourshelf Bundle: Kinda biased here as Jay is a good friend of mine but his specially curated book bundles are a treat to receive. They are carefully selected and he always includes editions that are beautiful and more often than not, one of a kind. 

Shop Local: You may see throughout this post I have linked to Time Out and Unity. Auckland is also home to some great secondhand bookstores and The Women's Bookshop on Ponsonby Rd. Remember to smile and thank them for their time-I can only imagine how stressful this time of year can be for booksellers!

-What books would you gift this Christmas?

*Review Copy

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The Summer TBR: Part One

The Summer TBR: Part One

Hey, hi! It's been a hot minute, has it not? I have no real explanation other than "life" but enough of that. Today I thought I'd share some new books to my shelves that will be going down a treat this Summer. Whether that be poolside, under a shady tree in the sun or maybe first thing in the morning, with the windows wide open and the breeze cascading through. Bliss. This is a two-parter because as you all well and truly know by now, I read a lot. There's short stories, essays and even a hot girl Summer accessory of choice. Keep reading...

Grand Union* x Zadie Smith: Ok, first and foremost-why did nobody tell me Zadie Smith and Jia Tolentino were in conversation in Melbourne this month? Not cool guys. FOMO and secondhand regrets aside, luckily for us Zadie has dropped her first short story collection. It's been a while since I read some Zadie fiction, having recently read her essays across various titles. I am really looking forward to reading and luxuriating in its pages over Summer.

I Used To Be Charming x Eve Babitz: Ah, Eve Babitz. How I love thee. This latest collection ties together more of her nonfiction work. There's essays about posing for that infamous Julian Wasser photo and the titular essay about the tragic accident that led to her retreat from the spotlight. And everything in between. Hollywood. Eve's muses. Her circle. Art. Life. I am saving this to read when I have finished some other nonfiction books I have on loan/my review pile but I will keep you posted.

Sport, Issue 47: The 'hot girl Summer' literary staple of 2019. Sport, a compilation of writing from some of New Zealand's brightest voices. This volume is guest edited and curated by Tayi Tibble. I have only read her fantastic opener, check that out here but I am looking forward to reading more of this volume. Especially Joy Holley's work but also Rebecca Hawkes and Freya Daly Sadgrove. Another I am saving for the Summer season. 

Little Weirds x Jenny Slate: I have to give thanks to Jay for recommending this to me and while I am most familiar with Jenny from her role as Mona Saperstein on Parks+Rec, I have to say this book has me really excited. I have only started this one today but it's lyrical and exquisite. Definitely don't pass it by.

Whose Story Is This* x Rebecca Solnit: I also love me some Solnit. Her essays never bore me and are always topical but with a sense of timelessness to them. I still think about an essay about Trump as the classic fairytale villain from her last essay volume quite often. So suffice to say I am really looking forward to getting into this soon as well.

-What are you looking forward to reading over Summer?

*Review Copy

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Five Things: November

Five Things: November

Hey, hi. It's November. WTAF. No really. Today in keeping with tradition and my excellent timeliness*, we have five things for November. Music, TV, Christmas, Literature. All that good stuff

The Crown, S3: Given I have been rather excitedly counting down to November 17th for a while now, this day could not be coming fast enough. Season Three of The Crown features a new cast, including godmother Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. The latter may be my favourite casting choice of late, okay-it is, it really is. If the trailer is anything to go by, S3 looks set to be fantastical and fascinating. Please excuse me while I go put some sparkling wine into the fridge and dust off my finest tiara. Okay, let's be real it's a flower crown. Leave me alone.

Lana and Elton: In one of my favourite unexpected pairings, these music legends met and bantered for Rolling Stone magazine. I know, quite literally hold me closer tiny dancer. the resulting discussion is brilliant. The love and admiration they have for one another is beautiful. Give it a read here

Severine: The lovely Terri-Jane, one of the brilliant ladies formerly of Oh Comely, set up this fabulous literary journal. it's an inspiring, creative hive of voices. Of books and poetry and stories. I am still so excited that three of my poems were published there. 'An Ode to Fleabag' is my personal favourite but I also have a poem in honour of Florence's album 'Lungs' and another inspired by the word 'Golden'. Check out the site in all its glory here

Phoebe Waller-Bridge-all day, every day: Anna Wintour only went and put PWB on the cover of December Vogue. Cue me being all heart eyed cat+twinkly star emoji**. Brilliant interview and editorial. Cannot wait to see it IRL. And secondly, the extensive Q&A The Guardian published over the weekend. When quizzed x Olivia Colman regarding alternative careers, Phoebe quipped she'd be Olivia's overbearing assistant. Same Phoebe, same. Read both, they demand your attention.

Happy Holidays (almost, not really): Ok, my fave time of the year is approaching. So I thought I'd share some links to festive bits I am loving. Just a lil' quick fire round for you. First up, this English Pear & Freesia cologne x Jo Malone London. Dreamy scent, dreamy navy and gold. Yes please. Next,    this cute reindeer decoration from Bed Bath N Table. Side note, they have stunning, inexpensive decorations. And last but by no means least, this cute festive tape for all your decorative+wrapping bits from Kikki K. I love it.

-What are you loving at the moment?

*deepest sarcasm
**used and abused for days

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The Kmart Haul

The Kmart Haul

Hello and welcome to a post which feels really, really old school. A haul. Kmart is one of those places where you walk in with one purchase in mind, or maybe more and then you somehow get swayed by their absolutely enticing, beautiful, affordable things. I am not the only one, there are whole Buzzfeed posts devoted to this. And if it's on Buzzfeed, it is obviously official. I am sure if you are from Australia and New Zealand, you will know the pull of Kmart. With the holiday season coming up, it's a great place to find things for DIY's, as you will see and also cheap and cheerful gift ideas. Anyway, here is what I have acquired from Kmart recently. Apologies not everything I have here is linked on the website...

Draw String Bags+Tassel Trim: I think Anko is like Kmart's own brand for a lot of their stationery bits and pieces. They have some very on trend, wallet friendly pieces. From memory these bags were only a couple of dollars. I got them to use to house some of the Advent Calendar bits. The tassel trim is also for the Advent Calendar, I want to use it to tie gifts up. It may not work but we shall see.

Protea Journal: Oh hey, another journal shock horror haha. All seriousness. I LOVE the protea themed things at Kmart. Just taketh my money okay. It may end up being a part of someone else's Christmas gift. We shall see but I had to include it.

Botanic Parcel Tags: I got these to use as labels/placeholders for the Advent Calendar days. There's 30 in this set so I will have a couple left over. I was feeling the natural/Scandi/minimalist vibe this year. I mean there will undoubtedly be glitter elements in here somewhere because I can't go totally minimalism on y'all but yeah. That was the vibe I felt this year.

Magnets: SO cute! And y'know, who doesn't need magnets for their fridge? I like the patterns on these ones. Again, another thing that may end up as a Christmas gift but I think they'd make such an adorable stocking stuffer. Not that I am biased or anything. Ahem...

Sticker Book: Since I got back into journalling in general, I have really got back on the sticker vibe. I mean, don't get me wrong. I have always been a sticker girl. Anyway, this book is super cute. There's gift labels, alphabet letters, motivational messages, bullet journal headers and the like. It's so versatile. I picked one of these up for a friend of mine as well because I thought she'd love them.

Protea Case: My current phone case of choice because in case you can't tell, I like proteas. I don't know what else to tell you. It's a phone case. It protects and decorates my phone. End of.

Foil Alphabet Stickers: So I got these for my Advent Calendar, the other side of the packet contains numbered stickers...*hopefully* I will have enough and while they aren't exactly what I wanted-they will do the job.

-What have you hauled from Kmart recently?

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October Wrap Up

October Wrap Up

Hello! and Happy November slash Sunday. I have a list of blog things I want to write, for once, I know. No really-i have even gone back to my circa 2013 thing of writing things by hand first. Anyway, I digress. Before we get into the swing of newness, it's time to reflect on last month. October was good-if not a tad messy at times. I guess the main takeaway there was, things happen outside our control and it is what it is. Anyway, October wrap up is below, after the ellipses...

Five Things Loved

Saltwater x Jessica Andrews: What a book. I very reluctantly returned this to the library after finishing it which probably says it all. I didn't want to give it back in other words. Saltwater is a dreamy debut. It's moving, complex and deeply examines and untwists the mother-daughter relationship. Not only that, but the way in which our histories and what happens to us growing up shapes us. It's done in a very lyrical, poetic way and I loved that about it. It also gave me Jacqueline Wilson vibes as well, in the best kind of way. Saltwater is definitely one of the best debuts I have read in a long time.

Moulin Rouge on Broadway: Have I magicked myself to New York? Ha, I WISH. So I loved and still love Moulin Rouge, the film. Anyway, when I heard it was a musical part of me was like "oh no". I needn't have worried, if the cast recording is anything to go by because oh my god it is good. No really. I have kinda obsessively been listening to it for most of October and even now. My favourite tracks are: Shut Up & Raise Your Glass, Nature Boy (it's so simple and pared back and ugh LOVE), Crazy Rolling, Elephant Love Medley. Royals x Lorde even makes an appearance in there too. It is a good time. 

Bullet Journalling: I used to do a loose-ish bullet journal maybe a year or so back and I decided to reinstate it because it works well for me. To put it really loosely, I am one of those people who likes to 'see' and plan on paper, not a screen. I have never been an iCal kind of person. I know, luddite-ish of me but eh. I am who I am. I use this journal from Kikki K's 'She Shines' collection and I love it. I use it to log what I read, blog post ideas, non-blog story ideas, track Christmas shopping and a myriad of other things. I don't take it too seriously, you won't see any of those beautiful illustrations and intricate lettering but I find it effective and it works well for me. 

Niaski: Props to Claire from Madame Fancy Pants for bringing Niaski to my attention. Nia is an illustrator based in Devon and she creates work of cats posing as her favourite artists, aptly inspired by her own cats. So basically this is my dream. Cats and artists and cat themed pun-names, I mean Salvador Catli anybody (see below). I grabbed some bits from Madame Fancy Pants in October, the calendars are sold out now I think eek so glad I acted quickly but you can still grab this pin which I also got. As you can imagine I am incredibly modest and don't point it out to anyone whenever it is worn. That is an official lie, Meowton John deserves to be seen. Anyway, if cats and artists are your jam like they are mine, get amongst. 

Trick Mirror x Jia Tolentino: This. Book. I tried and failed to do it justice at my book club so I will try again here. To paraphrase a conversation I had with someone else, Jia Tolentino has an unbelievably brilliant knack for combining ideas and references into an essay that perhaps we wouldn't typically think to place alongside one another. It never feels forced or too theoretical and dry, thank goodness. This is easily another of my favourite reads of 2019. I particularly loved the introductory essay, The 'I' in Internet but also her essays about women in literature, Internet scammers (Fyre Fest et al.), her musings on marriage; whether to pursue it or not. To be honest the whole book is brilliant. Well worth adding to your Christmas lists.

Five Good Things

American Idiot, the musical: So once upon a time, teenaged Sophie used to listen to and love American Idiot x Green Day. I had the CD and it was definitely on my iPod Mini (I know, SO retro lol). Anyway, when I heard the musical was coming to Auckland I was kinda uncertain about seeing it. It wasn't until I saw friends and peers online raving about it that my curiosity was amplified. Anyway long story short, it was AMAZING. Was it the best piece of theatre I've ever seen? Not necessarily but the whole experience and the way that album translates to a stage show is just....exquisite. It even made me a bit teary eyed at the magnificence. So good. 

GSD: Aka 'the one where Sophie gets shit done', admittedly with a little bit of help from my friends but anyway. I dunno, I don't really want to go into the finer details but I managed to knock out some pretty big things this month-some I'd been subconsciously avoiding, others I had just been meaning to do but hadn't felt confident enough to for whatever reason. And it felt. good. It's awesome seeing goals you have slowly but surely coming to fruition. 

Advent Calendar 2.0: You may remember I made an Advent Calendar last year for one of my friends. I enjoyed it so much that I knew it was going to be happening again. During October I more or less finalised the entire thing, I think I started working on it in March(!!). Anyway, I am so excited to put it together and show you the process+elements in the next month or so. I feel like I have upped the ante, but in a good way,

Dog Parks: Bit of a random inclusion, sure, but I have loved taking our family dog to some of Auckland's dog parks. Even if she does decide it's prime opportunity to go swimming. I mean, if she's enjoying herself I can't complain. Plus, I get to see all the dogs and that just makes my heart happy. Such a good time. Myself+the dog rate the Onehunga Bay Reserve in particular but the dog park at the Auckland Botanical Gardens is also worth a visit and is always very busy.

Reading in the Sun: Ok, so I am referring to one specific moment of this, over the long weekend. Summer finally felt like a 'legitimate' thing and not just an urban myth. I whipped out the round towel, some strawberries, water (sadly no bubbles in the fridge lol but anyway), and books. And I read. Did I get a bit sunburnt? Kinda, the perks of being pale+overly optimistic about UV Rays. It was bliss though and I am looking forward to doing more of it over the Summer months. 

Read in October

I read eight books (or thereabouts) during October but seeing as this post was already getting book heavy, I am going to endeavour to keep it short and sweet. 

Lost and Somewhere Else x Jenny Bornholdt: I need to start writing proper notes, in lieu of no longer putting reviews on Goodreads. Anyway, it's been a while since I read this but I remember thoroughly enjoying it. I've read a few volumes of poetry, some more cohesive than others, and proofread better. Anyway, generalised niggles aside-I had no qualms with this volume. I loved how it was also interspersed with imagery and it's definitely on my list of books I need to have on my shelves. You can read one of the poems here

Year of the Monkey* x Patti Smith: I've already written about this book around these parts but I had to include it again. It is a book of dreams and stories. Recollections, travels, black coffee (of course), photography. As I've said, I would read Patti Smith's grocery lists. I loved this thin slip of a book immensely.

The Rainbow Queen x Sali Hughes: A bit of a different one, the Queen's outfits, colour coordinated and charmingly presented alongside captions by Sale Hughes. As well as anecdotes about the Queen and other bits & pieces. It would be a good stocking stuffer for The Crown fans and fashion fans in general.  

-What did you love during October?

*Review Copy

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The Testaments x Margaret Atwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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