Seeking Saturday's Read #1

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Today I want to introduce you all to a segment that will come round, once a week, on this blog: 

The Saturday Read 

Here I simply present a tangential piece of writing, accompanied by an image of my Saturday: breakfast and read. It's where I showcase to you all what made the cut, food wise, and what takes up my attention for the weekend.

Every saturday morning I make a point to get up an hour and a half before the chaos hits and drag my lazy ass to the gym. By the time I've put on the sports gear and popped out the door, the mood is a little down; I'm grumpy, the eyes are droopy and the mind is less than active at the dawn of a new day. Cue the endorphins. 

Exercised!Jess is another tale to tell; she's inspired, a lost Romantic returned to nature and brimming with a desire to do more. So she does. 

In that half an hour before the household arises the only light source coming through is from the kitchen window, sneaking closer and closer inside. It's like a stasis of yin and yang; the corners of the room creep in darkness but the centre is emboldened by natural light. The zen vibe, and the I-love-myself attitude is at a peak and I'm telling myself "Here come those abs!". So it's only natural that the motivation to eat a bit better is running high. It ran high today--but the (green) food was woefully (notice the sarcasm) absent. No fear. I had some of that almond butter tucked away and the failsafe banana came out. 

Morning is also the perfect time for me to catch up on some reading. Right now that lucky book is Magisterium: The Iron Trial cowritten by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. This book is out on September the 9th and the masses are tittering with a fifty-fifty of apprehension and excitement. I know what y'all are all thinking: Harry Potter or no Harry Potter? I won't join that controversy, yet, because I'm not far enough into the deep end to say much. It is middle grade fiction. Here's a clue: I don't read from that under that tree. But it's Clare--I make exceptions for Clare. Let's just hope she gets there. 

So what are you reading this Saturday? 

Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to be approved by the publisher for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks. 

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Thursday, 28 August 2014

UK edition entitled: The Witch of Salt and Storm 
Publication Date: September 4th 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers / Orchard Books
Preorder: Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Booktopia 
Goodreads summary: A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

The Raven Cycle #2: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

I loved the book. I didn't think I would, but I did. Ronan is the central point of the novel. Did I care for Ronan? No. But did I enjoy is? Surprisingly yes.

The Pre-bed Routine

Monday, 25 August 2014

Contrary to the amount of books that I read, my preferred unwinding routine is essentially "book free". Scandalous, I know. I like pictures before bed! 

In reality, this blog is unreflective of the amount of magazines I read, each month alone. From memory, I'm on a subscription of four monthly, and one weekly, magazine(s). That's a total of eight additional reads added to my load. With recreational reading, alongside the much resented analytical readings done for school, it doesn't leave me with much time to tackle the mounds of editorials. And yet, I just can't give them up. 

Could this be due to a raging desire to be in the know? Or perhaps I've accrued a hoarding tendency over the years. That I will never truly know. But what I do know for certain is that the magazine offers a different joy in itself. It's conversational; it speaks to my soul. And for a person with a burdening desire to shop all the damn time, it's a perfect enabling tool. That's right, I enjoy torturing myself, flipping those crisp pages through to the Spring Lip Colours and mentally adding the same damn shade of pink into a need category. 

But reading is reading, and time is limited. So when do I fit all this in? For years I struggled to find the solution. I'm a quick reader, by nature--all the details are read, back to front, just at a record speed--so it truly is only a matter of when. Honestly, I could drop everything and get a full magazine done and dusted in under half an hour. But where is the pleasure in that? The art of magazine reading lies at it's visceral experience. You have to allow yourself to be pulled in and absorbed. 

But that, like most things, requires a mood. For me, it's lethargy. I need to be lethargic otherwise I risk an overthinking, analytical mind (which is unideal). So, before bed, right before I pass out, I like to crank out the magazine and give it a peruse. By then, reading a book becomes fruitless (I want to see and understand each detail and if I'm on the verge of knocking out then what's the point?).

The magazine becomes a protagonist in the depths of the night. Suddenly I'm all for a sarcastic piece of criticism, or a persuasive piece on the merits of the high heel. The judging Jess has retired for the day, and she's ready for her version of the contemporary. 

(Pictured above: Russh magazine / The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream / The Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream / Miss Cherie Dior Blooming Bouquet / Bio Oil) 

The Naturals #1: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional
teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie. What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length. Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

Criminal Minds, catered for your YA demographic.

Liebster Award

Friday, 22 August 2014

This is a post that, quite frankly, I never expected to find myself writing. I am completely elated to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Erin over at The Hardcover Lover (who is beyond sweet!). Thank you so, so much Erin! I'm so incredibly thankful for this
nomination and am eternally grateful, especially to those who have popped by and given my little corner of the internet a peruse.

Alongside the nomination, I myself get to nominate 11 other wondrous blogs that I enjoy passing my time reading. And you, dear reader, get to know a little bit more about me, as I answer 11 lovely questions from Erin.

The rules accompanying this award are as following:
  • You must answer all the questions outlined for you
  • Mention and link back to the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers
  • Create 11 questions for them to answer
  • Comment and inform them of their nomination, along with a link to your very own post for further information
Now let's get onto the fun bit, shall we. 

My answers to Erin's questions:

1. Why did you decide to start blogging? 
If you didn't already know, I predominantly started off as a reviewer on Goodreads. And that in itself has a story--one with YA dystopias, a need to voice an opinion and a lovely thesis. Essentially, I have the memory of a goldfish, but needed to mark down the details of the books that I read--a notebook, if you will. First they started off on paper and then expanded out onto little sentences on Goodreads. Here's where the opinion comes in. I have a lot of it. And pretty soon those little sentences expanded into paragraphs that slowly reached 1000 words, 2000 words and then 3000 words. It was getting out of hand, my knack and love for analysing started expanding, and pretty soon they were full blown essays. And I wanted to do something with them.

Would you laugh at me if I told you that My Reading Dress came off a whim to do something greater whilst I was juicing some kale (& trying not to think about having to drink it). Well it did (don't judge). I've always had the idea in my mind but put it off, time and time again. And I honestly have no idea why. I love to write and I love to read. It equates, you know. The point is I wanted to create a base where I could muse, not just about books which I greatly adore, but also about the fact that I've curated a unstable amount of knowledge on cosmetics and have a great passion for passing the hours shopping. I wanted to share that with...someone, and in essence, I wanted to share it with you. So I took the plunge, procrastinated away, and pop! My Reading Dress came to life, outside the existence it had in my mind (plus, I didn't want to finish that thesis!) 

2. Are there any books set in your hometown? If so, what one(s)? 
I live in Australia. The great land of the outcasted (I kid, but we're not exactly "Set your YA here, it's a hotspot"). I'm sure there are some amazing books out there, and perhaps I've even read some of them, but quite honestly, as of right now, nothing comes to mind. Actually, I retract that (which is silly, because in reality I could have pressed the backspace button) because I do believe that The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer is set in Australia (but please don't quote me, I've been terrible and have yet to get to this book!) 

3. Who are some of your auto buy authors? 
I would say Maggie Stiefvater because I am in absolute love with The Raven Cycle, but that would be a lie. Because I've yet to read The Scorpio Races or The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (mostly because I'm not up for horses, nor am I a fan of the werewolf). Oscar Wilde however is an auto buy, except I've got everything he has written and, well, you can answer the rest for yourself (give him a chance if you haven't!) Cassandra Clare, because her banter is unlike any other and if she can carry that through with her other works then she's got me as a fan for a long while. And also Deborah Harkness, Michelle Hodkin and Laura Anderson (but perhaps they don't count as they've only each released "one series"). 

4. What are your favourite series? 
The Raven Cycle. Hands down, no doubt about it. It's yet to be completed, but that just goes to show how enthralled I am by it. I am in love with lyrical prose and as fair as YA titles go, Stiefvater is the queen. 

Mara Dyer has also stolen a piece of my heart. Not by any means due to overcomplicated writing, because in actual fact it's lovely and simple but with a nice balance of metaphors. In fact, it's because it makes me think. I love to formulate and find an answer, and Mara Dyer allows me to hone in with this. Plus the banter is so incredibly real that I've lost all consciousness for faults and have fallen deeply in love (Noah Shaw doesn't hold me back either). 

Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy has also tucked itself deep into my heart. It is an adult fantasy, if you must, but it won me over. While I predominantly either read classics, or obviously YA, I do often dabble in adult and I am absolutely mesmerised by this series. It's a hefty one and be forewarned, there is an intricately crafted world, a bunch of genetic information, and a lovely lesson in history (all of which win me over. Watch this space for a blog post about why soon!) 

And lastly, but certainly not lesser by any means, is Laura Anderson's The Boleyn Trilogy. I love historical anythings, and the period of the Plantagenets and Tudors are the ones that I particularly favour. As an alternate historical piece, Anderson won me over immediately. The beautiful authentic tone she adapts has made me a lifelong fan! 

5. Do you like fantasy or dystopia better? 
This is hilariously funny. If you didn't know and mostly because I've yet to link this blog to it (because time, my friend), I'm on Youtube (shocker, yes ha!). The point is, I've done a little complaining about dystopias as of recent. I'm going to be annoyingly vague and mention the thesis that I spent this year writing, hint to you that it had something to do with the latter of this question, and tell you that it's made me iffy about the genre. It's conventionalism that has turned me off the dystopia. Don't get me wrong, there are some that I love out there, but nothing as of late has impressed me. Fantasy, on the other hand, is a must for me. I adore it as the scope to do something different is much wider. Thus, it's harder to fall into conventions and is why Fantasy get's the tick! 

6. Have you ever written a book?
No, indeed I have not. I'll be honest, my talent lies in dissecting. Cutting things to pieces and breaking things down. Certainly not building things up. I know my conventions, literary techniques and whatnots but I'm not keen on crafting them into a piece. I can but I prefer not to, simply because it doesn't give me the same satisfaction as breaking things down. Hilariously though, a friend and I have joked about writing a YA title, someday down the track (maybe in forty years haha). 

7. What are some of your favourite book blogs? 

8. What is your favourite book you had to read for school? 
If I was cheating, I would say Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. However, I actually had loved that book way before, and by lovely chance I had a class where it was the main piece analysed. If I had to pick a book that I wouldn't have read, at that moment in time, it would have to be George Orwell's 1984. It was eight grade, I was 13. Which, looking back, was way to soon to be understanding the concepts of totalitarianism and a bleak projection of the future and it's resonating themes, but I had a brilliant teacher whose lessons have stuck with me, right up till now. 

9. What are you currently reading? 
It's a hard one, this. On my Goodreads I've got four books marked. I'm fickle. The first has yet to be touched in 6 months (and I feel terrible but in about two months, when I have some time, I'll be straight back onto it) and it is Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. The second book is Joelle Charbonneau's The Testing, which is a dystopia that I've lost interest in, but am determined not to DNF. The third is an ARC copy of the Doctor Who companion tale called The Crawling Terror. And the fourth (of which is the only one I'm honestly currently reading) is The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I've finished and am now just combing through, making sure that the quotes I adored are marked and clarifying some issues before I begin a review. It's a ball of conflict, that one. 

10. Are there any books that you just know you won't read even though everyone tells you that they are great? 
Indeed there are. I can't read books that feature animals as prominent features (it's a personal preference), and thus Stiefvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls will never touch my hands (again, because in all honesty, I read the first one), despite how much I adore her writing. I don't read werewolves, simple as that. 

I also steer clear of Jennifer L. Armentrout's The Lux Series (again, I've read the first), purely because I like my writing to be a certain way and this just doesn't suffice (for me, at least). That being said, I've got plenty of friends who adore her series and sometimes, I just wish I could get the hype too! 

11. What is your favourite thing about the book blog community? Why? 
Definitely the interactions. I'm a curious person by nature, and love to pry on what other people are reading, enjoying or not enjoying. I also love discussing opinions and learning and understanding another perspective apart from my own and I love how the book blog community offers that. Plus, everyone is just so incredibly kind and supportive! 

Below are the fabulous bloggers that I am nominating for the Liebster Award: 
Maddison @The Girly Geek
Karin @Schakarin
Ashleigh @The YA Kitten

Here are my questions to all you lovely bloggers!: 

1. Do you fall for the "pretty cover", and if so, which has been your favourite? 
2. What is a hyped book that you've read, but just not agreed on? 
3. Do you have a fictional love interest "type"?
4. Do you have a guilty pleasure read? If so, then care to share? 
5. Are you a one track mind reader or do you like to balance a large amount of books on your "currently reading"
6. Who is your favourite authors(s)
7. What is your favourite genre under the YA delineation? 
8. What are some of your most hated YA tropes, and most loved? (think insta!love, love triangle, TSTL protagonists) 
9. Do you have a favourite book(s) read, so far, this year? 
10. Why did you decide to join the blogging community and what do you love most about it? 
11. Do you have any quirky reading habits? 

Ps. A usual review will be coming up tonight! 

Bloodlines #2: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives. Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist. But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie,
and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

✰Actual Rating: 4.5✰

Journey into the Green: That time I reduced Spinach to mush

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

I’m back with another tragic story of my battle against the greens. 

Thing is, I’m in this constant battle where I want to digest the greens, but want to do them quickly. When I was chatting away with a friend she mentioned that perhaps the reason lay in the fact that I, quote, have “sensitive tastebuds” (I filtered out those vulgarities. Super classy, yes). 

It dawned on me, that glorious reason. Why had it not crossed my mind before? Sensitive tastebuds were the elusive diagnosis that I have been searching for all my life. I’m touchy about the odd taste of greens and by some hilarious twist of fate, they’re all I eat (haha, laugh all you want. I’ve got a one way ticket on the irony train). 

Point is, I like to blend, juice and pretty much do whatever the heck I can to squash those particles into smaller and smaller atoms (is that logical science? Because, don’t quote me. I only took junior science, and even then, I slept through class like the model student that I am). We’ve established that kale and I don’t exist on the same wavelength. It’s why we’ve reduce our painful meetings into a once a month occurrence—enough time to forget our distaste, and enough time to cool off the hate. 

Therefore, in the meantime, I pass my hours with spinach. As the “other” super food (think Vitamins K, A, B6, E, C, B, magnesium, iron, protein— the likes really), I like to think that it’s doing something good to my insides. It also helps that this green leaf encapsulates a milder, less offensive taste. I’m still on the fence though; somedays it'll taste as bland as water but on others, it’s as though I’ve swallowed a whole fish.  

But here’s the key to the perfect formula for all those who share the same unfortunate self diagnosis as me: do it in small, and humble, quantities. If you think you’re feeling adventurous one day, and can take a boat, then think again. Build yourself up, handful by handful.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, kids. You and I could both do well to remember that!  

All Souls Trilogy #2: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Monday, 18 August 2014

Goodreads Summary: Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian
Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...

Bloodlines #1: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Goodreads Summary: Blood doesn't lie...
Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa
Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning.

Whilst Vampire Academy and I fell out of love in the second half, this has reinstated my interest in the series. If that doesn't say anything about a spinoff, then I don't know what does. 

Laying Flat Edition #1: Pretty in Pink

Flat-lays, they’re a favourite for bloggers. A series of objects set against a non-offensive background, strategically scattered in a manner than screams, perfectly poised: “Even my mess is the epitome of grace!”. It’s a contrived activity, but it’s undeniably fun. 

I can’t speak for all, but I love formulating flat-lays. It’s soothing, and terribly satisfying. And definitely, most definitely, toxically addictive. Why? Because for once, you can procure perfection. Only you know of the tribulations that come with agglomerating objects that share the same damn shade of pink. Others however do not equate the effort to being present in this process of achieving of aesthetic ideal. The image simply looks as it is; an impersonal, frivolously natural composition. 

But its a trick, as most things are. And here, I offer you mine. A first edition to a series of colours to come. You could play the Caulfield card right here and call it phoney, but lets be honest here: what isn’t anymore? Thank you internet. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2: Days of Blood and Starlight

Friday, 15 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world.
Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. In this stunning sequel to the
highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life. While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope. But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Where does one begin with this novel? This is truly one of those rare cases where the sequel supersedes the first. I’m still groveling to comprehend the mere ability that Taylor has to craft and meld such a fluidly compiled and succinct world.

The Raven Cycle #1: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Goodreads summary: It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted
friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

An Ode to the Avo

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

I kid you. I would never subject you guys to my horrendously shocking poetry (take cue schooling system. Must you really beg me to write you poems?) 

Today, we're talking all about the humble avocado. In the case of the avo, I think the phrase “beauty is found on the inside” is highly applicable. In comparison to other fruits, this baby doesn’t have much going for it in the look department, but open it up, and it’s a green euphoria inside (that is, if you get your avos open in time. Note to self: when it’s mouldy from the inside, you know something’s not on). Not only is it luscious, but the presence of all those health benefits just makes the whole experience much more rewarding. 

Everyone who thinks they know something about anything will tell you that the avocado is high in the good fat. And those who want to show off a little more (case in point: me) will say something like “It’s a good source of fibre, vitamins K, C, B6, collate and potassium”. To be honest, I’m not some nutritionist. I’m reading those letters and all that runs through my mind is right…the good stuff”.
And that’s all there is too it. The Avo = the good stuff (if only mathematics was that easy).

Now, I’ll be honest with you. I was never too keen on the avocado. Shocker, I know, coming from the person dedicating an entire post to the fruit. To a little girl, being told that you had to eat something that was (quite frankly, tasteless), slimy, green and resembled a mush-like substance, the avocado didn’t seem like she was getting the good end of the bargain. So the mother, bless her, would pop a spoon of sugar in a half, swirl it up, and make her eat it. And for once, it didn’t taste so bad. Just sweetness. 

In essence, the health benefits were most probably cancelled out, but little Jess wasn’t one to complain. I had no quarrels about sugar. It was the early naughts guys, we weren’t bombarded by hoards of instagram photos preaching the juice detox. 

One day, I miraculously grew up, and my first big girl step? Eat the avo, bar the sugar. It was a validation thing, and I’d been inducted into the adult club. Slowly I trained my tastebuds to accept the avo mush. I’ve tried all the combos out there, but for me, simplicity is best. 

A little sea salt (the pink kind, it’s a colour preference), a little squeeze of lemon juice and a crack of pepper. It’s simple really. From there on the little avo shines through, may that be as guacamole, on a rice cracker, or simply on it’s own. 

How do you like your avo?  

Between #1: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back. 
Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Let’s play a game—a game of shots. Raise you’re glasses, ladies and gents, every time you see a name drop.

Audrey Hepburn, Faust, Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Heathcliff, Zane Grey, Sergio Leone.

Spare us uneducated plebeians.
We’d be drunk off our rockers by the end of this book. 

The Boleyn Trilogy #1: The Boleyn King by Laura Anderson

Monday, 11 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency yet anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the
Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people: his older sister Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William's mother, Anne Boleyn. Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. Then, when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors. One among them will pay the price for a king's desire, as a shocking twist of fate changes England's fortunes forever.

Alternate history, what an interesting sub-genre. In terms of quality, this is one of the best I've read, thus far. Go on, you want to know about it. 

If you kale, do you smoothie or do you juice?

Sunday, 10 August 2014

It's a controversial question, known for all it's ridiculously good arguments, credited to both sides: to juice or blend. It's one that I've personally asked myself, time and time again. Back when I was prevalent on instagram (prevalent being a euphemism for a slight obsession) I was caught in between the battle. You see, instagram is the kingdom of the healthy lifestyle; it's where you head to assert your status as a health nut. I won't lie, I was guilty of acai bowl-grams and my chia seed pudding breakfasts', but I wasn't some guru. But, on my search for self-gratification and breakfast inspiration, often I came across posts with essays attached, preaching the ways of the health gods. 

"Why you can eat 99 bananas: A informal, and most probably unbacked by science, essay on potassium and the human body"

"10 reasons for why juicing makes one fat (subjectively ignorant of others, being the disclaimer)"

"Why I can survive on a simple meal of hummus, made not of the good stuff (full fat beans were absent, I tell you), and measly carrot sticks"

I got caught up in the hype. It was as easy as being swept away by the mid-afternoon current of the sea. Left and right, girls were telling me that they ate trees for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and trees alone (don't get me wrong, but you need some form of fat, and some form of protein). And for some time, I believed them.

Juicing and blending has a big presence on instagram; they are the two things that are the most aesthetically pleasing, being easy to compile into serene shots, as well as being the easiest method of bragging to the world that you've achieved your daily goal of being healthy. However, everyone and their mother has an opinion over which triumphs over the other. 

I started off with blending; there was no method in that, I just had the blender first. I didn't care for all that superstition and unsubstantiated scientific knowledge that was spewing out about the loss nutrients of juice and the bloating aftereffects of the smoothie. It was fine and dandy and I was blissfully happy getting inspiration from complete strangers who praised the souls of these vegetables and assured me with their meaningless words, emphasising that they tasted a divine sanctuary. Most things taste divine when they're there in little quantities (I'm looking at you, spinach). Too much and I'm a goner. 

When kale blew up and everyone converted to the holy church of curly greens, I succumbed and headed off with the crowd. Don't do that, kids. Stick with what you know, and do it well. Kale's got potassium and vitamin G, H, S and whatever the other damn letters are but it makes me cry tears. Subjective, yes, but I kid you not on my gag-factor. 

The first time kale entered my mouth, it was through the form of a lovely blended concoction. Take it from someone who has blended and juiced that beast: stick to the latter. It makes the taste distinctively duller (but not even that's a feat). Perhaps my aversion stems from the fact that I blended first. 

Either way, I juice the kale just once a month now; just in time for my mind to trick my sensitive little tastebuds into thinking that the enemy may just be a friend in disguise. But they're not buying it, and perhaps neither am I. 

The Grisha #3: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Goodreads summary: The capital has fallen. 

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-greatmagical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

In all honesty, my R & R review is a jumbled mess on GR, purely because it's been edited on four separate occasions, each time with the rating lowering. Click here for the review with spoilers and a lovely long rant.

✰Actual Rating: 3.15✰

The Heirs of Watson Island #1: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Friday, 8 August 2014

Publication Date: October 28th 2014
Preorder: Book Depository.
Goodreads summary: Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a
new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

Alright, I’ll admit it—I kind of liked this. In terms of a new YA to jump into, this was compelling enough. Was it because of the protagonist? Hell to the no. Yet, this book defied the odds, reeled me in, and let's be honest here. Look at the damn gorgeous cover. Quintessentially Southern, and absolutely gorgeous. 

Letting go of the Caffeine

Thursday, 7 August 2014

About a year ago I made the conscious decision to forgo the caffeine. And I’ve never been happier. 

The Grisha #2: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads summary: Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces
gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

I wanted so desperately to give this 5 stars, I really did, There however is one hindrance to this-- Mal. My utmost annoyance that transpired throughout the entire book was aimed primarily at Mal. He just destroyed this for me.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may
or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why, oh why, did I ever put reading this off? Normally I diverge from high fantasy tales-- I like an element of realism in the stories that I read. I also feel that, at times there can be a real stigma to fantasy tales, in the sense that they are poorly written and the worlds are not built up to scratch. I must admit, more than often I have shared the above sentiments and thus have since been put off by the genre. This book however has changed it all for me.

The Breakfast Diaries #1: Fig Edition

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Here’s a little photo diary to get you motivated. Images I intended for instagram, before I fell out of love with social media. These were my favourite summer combinations. It was fig season. 

 Chobani Greek Yogurt / An overripe banana / A handful of blueberries / One fig 

The Grisha #1: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads summary: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha.
Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

All Souls Trilogy #1: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Monday, 4 August 2014

Goodreads summary: Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld
stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Honestly, I still don’t know how I feel about this book. I’m literally split. The first 50% nestled me into a deep sleep. The subsequent 50% had me writhing for more. Oh adult fiction, what can I say? I wouldn’t say this is for everyone, in fact there are a few elements I loved, but contrastingly there were some real cringe-worthy components. 

It’s honestly so odd to be reading supernatural/paranormal fiction demographically targeted at adults—definitely a breath of fresh air. Let’s talk bad first and end on a sweet note, shall we?

Splintered #2: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Goodreads summary: Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

✰Actual Rating: 3.8✰

Don’t curse me. I know. The rule is half and wholes but, here’s the thing: 

 I’m having an inner conflict. I call it, Morpheus V. the Rest. 

Let’s disclaimer this, once and for all. The story remains achingly intriguing. The love triangle? Not so much. It’s fun and games for the winning side and all, but let me tell you what’s out there, behind the glamoured fence of happiness. A fucking realm of broken dreams, that’s what is.