February Feats – What I’ve been reading #2

I know, I know I’m a day late posting this and I’m sorry. There was a death in the family recently, which resulted in Mum having to leave for Malaysia earlier than expected. So I spent Wednesday in a car driving her up to Auckland and then driving back. Today I feel absolutely shattered and I’m ready to crawl into a hole and stay there for a while because I don’t have the energy to deal with life. But life has to go on!

I felt it was necessary to spend as much time with Mum as possible, seeing as there was only 24 hours left with her and with me leaving for London, it would be a couple of years before I saw her again. I was a quivering mess before we even took her up to Auckland but being reminded of the many ways I can keep in touch and the thought of her and Dad spending Christmas with me in the UK next year made me feel a lot better.

So, little life update aside, I hope you’re all doing wonderfully! Seriously, where has the week gone? Feels like only yesterday I was writing up my first ‘What I’ve been reading’ list and posting it.

Anyways, here we go folks, week two of what I’ve been reading…

  • ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green

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To be honest, I bought this book because it was everywhere. In book reviews, book recommendations, hell, even my kindle was recommending it to me. So I thought to myself, I should buy this book because the gods want me to, not because I had any interest in what it was about. In some way, it was like I was being subliminally peer pressured.

The book is based around Aza, a 16-year-old girl who I suppose is a bit troubled. She’s under pressure from her family and friends to be a good daughter, a good friend, and an all-round good person. The death of a prominent billionaire and a reward worth hundreds of thousands of dollars takes Aza and her best friend, Daisy on a wee adventure where they look to solve the mystery of the billionaire’s death. I think this sums up the book.

I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and I wasn’t really engaged in the story but because I had invested time and effort in reading the book, I hit the ‘Buy book’ button when the sample was over (this seems to be a terrible habit I have btw). I think I must’ve paid about $15NZD for the book… which is the most I’ve ever spent on a book on my Kindle. I continued to read it but I wasn’t fully engaged in the story. I wasn’t invested in the characters (and I usually am way too involved with them and have to remind myself that they’re not real people) and I found myself getting annoyed with them way too often. I know I’m probably gonna get a lot of “wtf” for this but I still don’t understand the turtles all the way down reference. I read the explanation about three times and still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I might have to go back and read the explanation again and see if we’re fourth time lucky.

I think if you’re a die-hard John Green fan then you’d probably enjoy the book. The only book that Green has written that I’ve actually enjoyed was ‘Paper Towns’. I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I did the book but yeah, hands down, fave John Green book. I’ve read ‘The Fault in our Stars’ a couple of years ago and I think I’m about a chapter away from finishing and I just never picked it up to complete it. I don’t know why. I like the idea for the story and the movie brought tears in my eyes but I remember thinking to myself that this could’ve been written better (I know I’m being a critical cow but it’s just my opinion and I’m not saying I’m the one to write it better!). I downloaded a sample of ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I think I read it a few months ago but I was still debating on whether or not to buy it because I’d be spending about $15NZD on it and I wasn’t sure if I actually enjoyed it. I might go back and reread the sample again.

So there you go, my honest thoughts on ‘Turtles All the Way Down’. I’d score this book 5 out of 10.

  • ‘The Missing Ones’ by Patricia Gibney

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This book was recommended to me by Amazon and I thought heck, it’s a crime thriller; it has murder, serious harm, mystery, a strong female lead who’s falling to pieces, gore, history, broken minds and it’s set in Ireland so I’d be silly not to sample it.

I read the sample in about ten minutes and didn’t hesitate to click the ‘Buy book’ button. It took me about a day and a half to finish reading the entire book. It’s one of those ‘But I have to know who did it!’ books and I just couldn’t put it down.

The book is the first of the Detective Lottie Parker series. There are two more after this and yes I’ve read them all. The fourth one is scheduled for release on 22 March and yes I’ve preordered it. The story opens with a dead woman found in a church. The woman seems to have no history and no friends and Detective Parker is already hitting brick walls with no clues and no leads. When the death of a man is reported soon after, the deaths seem to be linked but Detective Parker can’t seem to work out how… and that’s where the excitement begins.

It’s probably not the best description of what the story is about but it’s a mystery. If you google it, you’d probably get a better description… and hopefully no spoilers. If you’re a sucker for a good crime/mystery/thriller with a twist to die for, then look no further. Gibney has definitely outdone herself with her debut novel. Also, I think I spent about $2 NZD on this book? Incredible. I’d score it 10 out of 10.

  • ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ by Stephen King

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I’m gonna put it out there – I’ve never been a fan of Stephen King’s writing. I’ve been a fan of his book ideas, the movies and reimagining’s and the synopsis of his books but I find it difficult to get through his writing. I’m still trying to work out why because I’m a fan of horror books and his book ideas are just marvellous so naturally you’d think I’d be his biggest fan.

When I saw this book in Whitcoulls, there was this feeling inside me that felt like I just had to have this book and read it. So I took a photo of it, rushed home and bought it.

The book is made up of 20 short stories, all with a different type of ‘scary’ theme. There’s monsters, ghosts and even psychological fears – the ones you don’t really think about. Before each story starts, King provides us with a commentary on how he came up with the idea behind the story. Normally I don’t care much for these blurbs but I found the ones King wrote to be fairly interesting.

Typical of short stories, there’s always going to be the ones that you love and the ones that you hate and just really want to skip but feel compelled to finish. My favourites in the collection are ‘Bad Little Kid’ and ‘A Death’. I think I enjoyed this book more than his novels because there was something to suit different tastes. With a novel, if you don’t enjoy the premise or the writing, you’re kind of just stuck with it. Overall, I’d score this book an 8 out of 10.

I really enjoy writing this list. I find that I’m more aware of what I’m reading and my feelings towards the content of what I’m reading and that’s because I know I’m going to be writing about them for this series.

Oh oh I’ve also been listening to an audiobook! Only reason I’m doing that is because I want to reread the Harry Potter series and I’ve ran out of enjoyable podcasts to listen to while I’m doing some mindless data entry at work so voila, solution! I’ve actually been enjoying it and the book is narrated by Stephen Fry and boy is he amazing. I get my audiobooks from Audible, just in case you’re wondering. No, this is not an ad lol. They offer a free one-month trial so if you’ve always been interested in trying out audiobooks, definitely take advantage of this opportunity!

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this. Until next weeks list!

What have you been reading lately? I’d also love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks!

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #1

Welcome, welcome, welcome to my very first weekly spread that’s part of my February self-love series!

BOOKS. Books. books. I friggin’ love books. If I could spend the rest of my life doing one thing, I can confidently say that reading would be my pick. As long as I get an unlimited supply of books that is. And for free. I’ve got a list of books that are absolute classics to me and I’d recommend them to the world but I think I’ll save the ultimate book list for another post.

I haven’t been reading as much as I used to or as much as I’d like to. I used to always have my head buried in my kindle, even when I’m walking. My favourite Disney princess is Belle because she embodies compassion and intelligence and the library that’s gifted to her by the Beast is one that I dream I’ll have in the future.

Anyways, you get my drift. Reading is one of my passions and I’m planning on doing more of it in February. I think it’s definitely one of those self-love things you can do because reading fuels the imagination and transports you to a different world. It’s so comforting to be able to sit in a cosy corner, with a cup of tea and just read. To others, your surrounding is just silence but to you as a reader, your surroundings are vivid, loud and busy – and they’re all fuelled by the power of words.

I’m a HUGE fan of crime/thrillers/mystery. I think it’s because I have this weird fascination with the broken mind, the abnormal and the “why” behind why people do the things they do. I also like the idea of being an investigator/detective/psychologist but I don’t know if I’m passionate enough to follow those career paths. I’m sharing this because you’ll soon find a theme in the genre of books that I read.

So if you find reading a comforting activity and are looking for book recommendations, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading lately:

  • ‘The Secrets She Keeps’ by Michael Robotham

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This was the last book I read and I tell you, it was so gripping I couldn’t put the damn thing down. It took me two days to read, probably could’ve been one if I didn’t have life and responsibilities to tend to.

The book is about two women, Agatha and Meghan, who live really different lives; Agatha works in a supermarket stocking shelves and Meghan is a stay-at-home mum who lives a seemingly lavish lifestyle consisting of mummy lunches and yoga. However, they both share one thing: they’re expecting babies around the same time. Something happens and their paths cross and an unlikely friendship form but they both have secrets that threatens to expose itself after a life-changing event occurs.

Wow that description sounded dramatic (lol) but I tell you it’s a really good book. If you’re into high suspense that keeps you on your toes and an unexpected turn of events, definitely check it out. I particularly enjoyed the way Robotham crafted the two women and the way they express themselves. I found them so believable and could actually picture them in my mind. Definitely a 10 out of 10.

  • ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ by Mark Manson

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This one is a bit different from the last book I read. I actually read this one over the Christmas break but I wanted to bring it up because I did enjoy it and it’s little nuggets.

I guess this is a self-help book without being preachy, if that makes sense. I’ve never actually read self-help books so I can’t really compare them but I enjoyed this book because it was kind of relatable. What I enjoyed the most about the book is the way Manson uses real people, like musicians, as examples and you learn a lot about the success and failures (that inadvertently turns into success) of others. He also uses humour and he tells it like it is which I love. I found myself laughing quite a bit because of how he describes situations. The book is also filled with quotable quotes and one of my favourites is “The path to happiness is a path full of shitheaps and shame”. Oh! And another favourite is “The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important”.

My father asked me once to explain Generation Y because he just doesn’t get them. I told him to read this book to unlock the secrets to why Generation Y’ers think, breathe and live the way they do. So yeah, I guess that’s another way I would describe this book. I didn’t think it inspired me to want to get out there and make significant changes in my life but it did make for a light-hearted, eye opening and somewhat educational read. I’d score this book a 9 out of 10.

  • ‘Uncommon Type: Some Stories’ by Tom Hanks

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I love Tom Hanks. Hands down I’d say he’s one of my favourite actors. So when I was in Whitcoulls one day and saw that he’d written a book, I knew I just HAD to read it, even if it was a how-to on soiling your underpants.

The book is a collection of seventeen short stories and they’re all linked in some way by a typewriter. Not the same typewriter, but just a typewriter. The stories cover different genres and characters from all walks of life; from children, to adults, to immigrants, and there’s bound to be a loveable character for everyone. There are photos of different typewriters in all the stories as well which I really liked because I love typewriters! One day, when I’m settled and have a permanent-ish home, I’d really like to own one.

All-in-all, I did enjoy the book but like many collection of short stories, I favoured some more than others and I don’t have a particular favourite. I thought that Hanks’ writing style is somewhat typical of him – adaptable and comical. I must admit though, I just read the whole book in his tone of voice with a slight Southern drab. This could be interpreted as a good or a bad thing but for me, I like giving characters a voice. If they’re from Scotland, I like hearing them speak in the Scottish accent in my head. Is that weird? Maybe it is but its kind of hard to imagine these characters if they all just sounded like Tom Hanks. If you are a fan of listening to the characters in Tom Hanks’ voice, you should check out the audio book because he actually narrates it!

So there you have it; a list of three books that I’ve read. I know this post is pretty darn long but it felt appropriate to give you a bit of a background on my passion for reading and the types of books that I enjoy reading.

Thank you so much for sticking around if you made it this far! I hope this wasn’t too difficult a read and that you’ll check out at least one of these books!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Watch out for next weeks book list!

Listen while you work

I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I need to get shit done at work, I listen to podcasts. I never understood the whole rage with podcasts; I used to think they were like audible books which I’ve tried once and just couldn’t concentrate so decided not to do it again. Plus, nothing beats the satisfaction of reading the words and holding an actual book… or e-book.

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My last manager listened to podcasts whenever she worked and I thought it was very fascinating. One day I decided to give it a go and surprisingly, I found it quite enjoyable. I know what you’re thinking; how the hell do you concentrate on your work if you’re listening to someone talk in your ear? To be honest, I have no idea! But it works! It’s less distracting than listening to music as well because with music, I always find myself tapping my feet and humming along and creating music video scenarios in my head (I know you do it too!). And if I don’t listen to anything I get sucked into the hustle and bustle of everyday conversations going on around me and I’d rather not listen in on other people’s convos. It makes me really uncomfortable. I’ve never been good at multitasking but surprisingly, I’m really good at listening to the podcast AND doing work.

I thought I’d share with you my top five favourite podcasts. So if you’re a podcast-listener-worker like me and are looking for some new recommendations, or if you’re a podcast virgin looking to pop that cherry, you’ve come to the right place.

On your marks, set, GO…

Casefile 

This is my absolute favourite podcast. I listen to it while cooking, cleaning, commuting and well, working. Each week, the podcast covers well-known murders and what I like the most about it is the fact that they go into great detail; from the background of the murderers, to their crimes right through to their death or sentencing. I’m a fan of murder mysteries and crime and like watching documentaries and tv shows on murders (my Netflix recommendations list is looking pretty damn gory) so that’s why I enjoy this podcast. It may not be the podcast for everyone, just because it can be quite grisly, but if you enjoy a good history lesson on well-known murders, I highly recommend it.

Success Insider 

This was one of the first podcasts I listened to and I actually quite enjoy it. It’s part of SUCCESS magazine and is hosted by Shelby Skrhak and Josh Ellis. Each week, they discuss the latest trends in personal empowerment and career development and give you lots of tips and tricks on how to be more productive and move up that career ladder. I think what I like most about this podcast is the conversations the two hosts have. Usually I find podcasts like these to be kind of stale with lots of really pretentious music but for a ‘self-help’ podcast, I’ve really enjoyed this one. Plus, each episode is nice and short too.

The Inquiry

If you’ve got an interest in current affairs without wanting to spend too much time on it, I highly recommend this podcast by the BBC World Service. They cover topical issues and ask the hard-hitting questions, and best of all, they do it in half an hour or less. When it comes to world issues or politics, I’m not going to lie I like getting the facts and I don’t like listening to long, overly drawn commentary and opinion. I just want an intro to the issue and if I’m really interested, I would go and do some research. This one is great for getting the who, what, when, where and how.

TEDTalks

I have a funny feeling that everyone who listens to podcasts will have TEDTalks on their subscribed list. TEDTalks have made such a name of themselves and what I love about listening to it is it’s inspiring (and short!) and covers a range of topics from business, technology, world issues to emotions, relationships, mental health and creativity. So if you feel like listening to something motivating, check it out because I guarantee you’ll find a topic of interest and learn and thing or two.

BTW, the hyperlink will take you to their website where you can also access videos. I listen to podcasts on the Apple Podcast app.  

Myths and Legends

I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to fairy tales, legends, folklores and myths. There’s so many out there and I can’t keep up with them. What I love about this podcast is that I get to be transported to a different era with host Jason Weiser covering what the legend/myth/folklore is about and its origins. It’s so fascinating and is a great one to listen to when you’re stuck in the office doing mundane things and just want to be transported to a different world.

Yes I’m a fantasist and can easily transport myself to a different world but sometimes, you need a little help and that’s where this podcast comes in. Also, if you’re a history buff like me, you get a bit of a history lesson too which makes it extra awesome!

So here’s my top five list. Some other recommendations I’d love to share are:

Have you got a favourite podcast that you think I should check out? Please comment below and share because I’m always on the hunt for new podcasts to listen to!

A tale as old as time…

At 7.00pm on Wednesday 29 March 2017, I went to the cinema and watched the advanced screening of Beauty and the Beast. Where do I begin?

Let’s begin from the beginning. Like a typical 90s kid, Beauty and the Beast is hands down my favourite Disney cartoon. The music, the moral of the story, the longing to be just like Belle and my god, that library. I watch the Disney cartoon at least once a year and it just never gets old. It’s beautiful, it’s terrifying and it just takes me back to my carefree childhood.

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Photo credit: ohmy.disney on Pinterest

When I heard they were making a movie, I’m not going to lie: I was terrified and very, very skeptical. Even though I’m a fan of Emma Watson, when you’re recreating a classic Disney cartoon, it can either be incredible, average or well, ridiculous. I didn’t want my childhood to be ruined because the director had a vision that was way off from mine.

For those of you who don’t know what Beauty and the Beast is about (god forbid!), quick summary: Arrogant prince is transformed into a Beast by a disguised enchantress. Everyone in his household is transformed into inanimate objects. To break the spell, the Beast must learn to love another and earn their love. Belle, a small town bibliophile, takes the place of her father as the Beast’s prisoner because he picked a rose from his garden. During her stay, she grows closer to the Beast and they fall for one another. Oh and he gifts her an incredible library. Her father is mocked by the villagers for asking for their help to save Belle and narcissistic Gaston sends him to a madhouse. Belle, witnessing this through an enchanted mirror, is freed by the Beast to save her father. She shows the villagers the Beast through the mirror to prove that he’s real and her father isn’t mad. Everyone freaks and they go to the castle to kill the Beast. They’re attacked by the inanimate objects. Gaston tries to kill Beast. Beast gets shot and Gaston falls to his death. Beast is dying and the last petal on the enchanted rose falls before Belle tells Beast she loves him. Belle somehow manages to break the spell anyways and then everyone turns back to human and they live happily ever after. The end*.

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Photo credit: lolalambchops on Pinterest

Fast-forward to Wednesday and well, I had to refrain myself from singing out loud to all the known tunes and weeping tears of joy. When it came to the scene of Beast vs Gaston, I lost all self control. I was in tears. I couldn’t stop crying and you know when you go to the movies and it’s a sad scene so a few drops of tears dribble down and then you wipe them away and it’s okay again?

Well this wasn’t that situation. I cried and cried and cried. I felt like I was crying of a broken heart andthen Belle breaks the spell and everyone becomes human, I cried tears of complete and utter joy. So much joy. I can’t even begin. Even more joyous was realizing whom the different actors were that acted as the ‘live’ inanimate objects like Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Pots. Freaking lost my mind when they turned into human. I left the cinema with panda eyes and mascara on the side of my face.

So how do I think Bill Condon did in recreating a childhood classic? He did a pretty good job. There were some added scenes that didn’t quite follow the original but they worked pretty well. You can also really sense the studio-created backdrops for some of the scenes but it’s not tragic that you’d hate it. Well, I didn’t anyways.

Condon also did pretty well with the casting. All the actors fitted their characters very well and it was great seeing the on-screen veterans like Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor and the ravishing Emma Thompson.

Would I watch it again? Yes, yes I would. My birthday is in 4 days. I think I might just go to the movies and watch it again.

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*It’s not the best synopsis but if you want to read more, I’m sure my uncle Google will give you a more detailed plot outline. Also, there’s always the option to watch the movie… wink wink