Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Review | Under the Sun by Lottie Moggach

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Thank you to Pan Macmillan (South Africa) for sending me a Picador Proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Anna moved to Spain to build a life for her and her artist boyfriend, Michael. She invested every penny to her name into a beautiful Finca for them and redecorated it to be their ideal home. Michael appeared to contribute nothing. 
Straight from the start her character is constantly belittled and made inferior to all those around her. While her friends and family believe she is living the dream is Spain, the reality is that her relationship is over. When he leaves with little more than a note goodbye, Anna is left alone to pick up the pieces. During a huge financial crisis, she rents out their Finca to a local business called Simón and shacks up in a tiny apartment in Marea where a bunch of expats have decided to call home. She runs a bar and carries out an affair with an older man in an attempt to boost her shattered confidence. 

Anna almost instantly regrets renting the Finca to Simón as strange things start to happen. A young African man arrives to collect the keys from her and it transpires that Simón could be letting a group of illegal immigrants stay there. 
When a body washes up onto the sandy shore, Anna is sure Simón has something to do with it... but how can she prove it?
Trapped in Spain, Anna will do anything to escape and get home but she's not really certain where 'Home' is anymore.  

*

I found Anna's character really weak and to be honest, stupid. The way she handles money related things is absolutely ridiculous and arrogant. The only time I found her remotely enjoyable is before her boyfriend abandons her and they are hosting a dinner party for some friends, Kurt and Farah. 
Farah is talking to Anna's boyfriend and Anna overhears her say, 'I'm just not sure what she brings to the table...' and Anna explodes at them from behind the wall, 'I bought the fucking table!' 
That was brilliant! I didn't connect with her on any level though.

Overall this book wasn't what I expected it to be. It wasn't a thriller or a love story or even both weaved together - I struggled to decide how to classify this novel at all really. 
Not a lot actually happens... it wasn't intense or gripping. Things seemed to build up and then just fall flat like a wave that just doesn't form properly.

No automatic alt text available.Under The Sun did something priceless for me though - it reminded me of the beauty in Spain, the small things that I had once loved in a place that became my nightmare. I have been bitter about Spain since I threw what I could into my suitcase and ran away from the life I'd tried to build for myself there after being betrayed by my best friend and lover, who cheated on me with over 8 women. 

This book had me feeling nostalgic under my winter blankets for warm summery days in Spain. The spilling glasses of Cava, thick legs of jamon screwed to wooden stands, paella on the beach, plates of sardines, lobster bisque, the language. It was a lovely reminder of a place I called home for a year and will never return to.





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Monday, June 26, 2017

June Bookish Sundays: Vlog

June cannot be over soon enough. What a tester for my personal strength... 

I'd been so excited about this month what with moving into my new flat in Cape Town that I've signed a long lease on - but WOW this month was devastating. 
My home town burnt to the ground, my flat flooded during the biggest storm in 30 years in the Western Cape, my relationship came to an abrupt end... I was man down with a winter cold..... good things did happen though.... I was contacted by a handful of publishers and companies wanting to work with me via Instagram. Click here for my book related Instagram page and here for my foodie page. 

I have high hopes that July is going to be a better month.. it has to be.



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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Eulogy | Chapter One | Simple Pleasures

If you haven't yet read the prologue, please click the following link before continuing on with the story: 

The Eulogy: Prologue



Chapter One

Simple Pleasures


A gentle whistle sounds from somewhere beyond the warmth and comfort of the bed-sheets. It stirs me from my dream and I couldn’t be more thankful. I’ve been having the same one on a nightly basis for the last month now. A dream inside of a dream. My hand ventures up to my head. No stitches. 
I try not to think about it too much, wanting nothing more than to push the dream from my mind. It makes me anxious. It makes me scared of my husband. My husband - the kindest and most gentle creature I have ever known. He’s got another side to him, like everyone does… but I’ll elaborate on that later. For now, all you need to know is that he’s a maths teacher to a class of children an age I can barely tolerate. A son, a brother, an uncle. Around children and his family his eyes light up, the softness in him is unmissable. He wants children. It's more than a want, it’s an ache. I on the other hand, do not. 
I don’t really know what I want. I didn’t even particularly know if I wanted to marry him in the beginning, but he has made the past seven years absolute bliss.  


The sheets smell like home and I can’t help but give a delicious stretch of my limbs before curling myself deeper into the scent of my husband. He has this oaky twang to him that I find irresistible.

His pillow is empty, but the indent from where his head had been just minutes before makes me smile. 

I hear him pottering around in the kitchen downstairs. A teaspoon stirring sugar into our coffee, the clattering of saucers as he balances the mugs in them. The failed attempts of trying to be silent as he pads back up the staircase. The faint whiff of banana’s, freshly peeled and sliced into perfect circles, plopped into a bowl of Bulgarian yoghurt. Toast. Toasted once and then again for no more than ten seconds - the perfect golden brown. Peanut butter melted on top. Breakfast in bed. 



He places the varnished wooden tray down in front of me with a sleepy grin. He hasn’t shaved for a few days, it makes him look rugged and unkempt. I can already feel a tingling in my groin. 
“Good morning,” he whispers, planting his soft lush lips onto mine and tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.  

“Hi,” I mumble my first words of the day through a croaky throat. 

There's a box of soft pink Kleenex tissues on the bedside table and I reach out for one. Alex beats me to it, grabbing the tissue and handing it over to me dutifully.
“How are you feeling?” he questions as the back of his hand meets my sticky forehead. I'm sick. Probably the flu. Alex has been trying to get me to get a prescription for the past three days now. Pills fix everything for him. If I mutter even a word about a headache out comes his medical bag. He has a pill for everything. 


He's only trying to help but the constant pampering is getting under my skin. 

“Better,” I lie, wishing him away. He sees straight through me, knowing me all too well.
“I’ll take the day off work again, we’ll take you to Doctor Shaw and once he’s prescribed you something I’ll take you out for some frozen yoghurt, OK?” It isn't really a question. 




Frozen yoghurt sounds nice. Soothing for my throat and filled with probiotics which my body will need with all the antibiotics Alex is planning to force down my throat. The place we go to is the only place that has chunks of fruits in the yoghurt too. It’s delectable. I’ll go for the mixed berry flavour as always, my favourite. Alex prefers the English Toffee, which is way too sweet for me.


We have barely anything in common. No tastes, no family views - sweet bugger all actually. In fact, we’re such complete polar opposites that for our honeymoon I’d wanted to go snowboarding in Alaska, bundling up in a thick snood and panda bear onsie while Alex on the other hand had secretly planned a sailing trip to the Maldives. He’d been so thrilled by his surprise when it was finally revealed that I couldn’t bare to tell him hot, tropical climates turned me into an absolute bitch. It was the heat and sweat, men in skin tight speedo’s that make it impossible not to size up their package while at the same time making you want to burst out laughing. Tiny bronzed women strutting around on the shore in Brazilian bikinis with their tits out, making married mens eyes wander and the wives green with envy. I’d look down at my floral one piece and notice how the beautician had missed an entire patch  of hair when she’d been doing my wax. Then I’d notice my wobbly thighs and stretch marks and grimace with embarrassment. I won’t even go into what I saw when I turned around in the mirror and saw a dozen little pimples shining from my bottom. How were these women so perfect? I stuck the Maldives out though and Alex even coaxed me into a bikini in the end. It had been a surprise wedding present. Gucci, no less. It gave me a marvellous tan in places I’d never thought of showing off in public before. 

I stuck with Alex way before the marriage and the Maldives and way after that too because I knew how lucky I was. How lucky I am.




Alex isn’t like any of the other guys his age. He isn’t a thing like the riffraff you’d find down in the pub. Alex knows what he wants in life. He’s simple, easy and comfortable. 
I do love him, I married him for Christ sake.  We’re just different - and what’s that saying? Opposites attract. That’s what we are. Opposites. We ‘complete’ each other. 
I like to think I’m the one keeping us young and fruitful while Alex is the one that reminds me of my age without needing words to say it. He reminded me by proposing, by his constant hints towards starting a family, by buying a house. We’re new home owners. 28 Cherrywood Avenue. That’s our address. I never thought I’d have one of those, an address. When I was younger, in my twenties, I bought one way tickets, slept in airports with the tickets slapped to my jacket so the security guards wouldn’t disturb me. I rented the cheapest bungalows I could find in places most tourists had never even heard of. I tolerated the sound of roosters at 3am, howled with the mangy wild dogs who made caves their home, I ate food not even the locals would trust. As a means of regular income I’d busk on the side of the street and teach yoga on a hill overlooking the ocean.
That all changed when I moved to London. I remember it clear as day - wandering through this stone archway up to a dusty street side accommodation for tourists. It was mainly guys there, which I liked. I’d always been more fond of male company, they were more fun and accepting than a group of women. Women had always intimidated me - perhaps that was why I enjoyed watching them wobble unsteadily and pull agonised faces when they attended my yoga classes. That’s probably not very nice - Alex actually pointed that out to me once. He has this way of softening me up.



Anyway, so I was pretty popular from the moment I walked through that entrance. There were about six guys that I knew without a shadow of a doubt wanted to sleep with me. Some wanted more but relationships weren’t really my thing. I moved around too much to make attachments with people. 

I fooled around with a few Canadian tourists for a while until two friends, Adrian and Dane, who had this seemingly unbreakable friendship, both started to develop feelings for me. It was a game at first, seeing how far they’d go to have me. Adrian was pretty nerdy, but more good looking than Dane. He had this dark olive skin and jet black hair, eyes that were ready to see so much more than the rest of him was. Dane on the other hand was chubbier. He had a lot of chest hair. I liked to run my hands through it and get lost in the forest which was his body. A lot of girls don’t really find that attractive, but I do. 

Adrian was some sort of a scientist, working in labs and wearing those ginormous goggles and white coat while Dane had his own business. Dane wore a lot of button-up shirts and polished shoes. Adrian’s hair was always too long in front of his eyes and freshly washed while Dane’s was never without a handful of gel and pushed back into that typical European look. 

I realised pretty soon that I was fucking up a really good friendship by sleeping with them both. They both had these incredibly good hearts but the jealousy over one woman, me, made them turn on each other. They turned on each other slowly at first but then all at once everything fell apart. I was forced to choose, one or the other. I couldn’t. I wasn't ready for commitment. I was going to miss the lavish dinners Dane took me out on, the expensive taste of bubbly champagne on my tongue and the deep meaningful conversations about things I’d never even thought about before. I’d miss learning the most fascinating things from Adrian too, the soft touch of his silky hands on my skin as though it was the first time he’d ever felt a woman. I felt cherished and adored by them both for such different reasons. Dane couldn’t look at me the way Adrian did and Adrian couldn’t spoil me the way Dane did. 

There’s no such thing as the perfect man - that’s why it’s so hard to choose. You find one that seems to have so many incredible qualities but then another appears with a few more that you’ve been looking for. 




As humans we aren’t supposed to mate for life. It’s not in our nature like it is with penguins. A male penguin will search an entire beach for the perfect pebble and when he’s found it he’ll go over to the female penguin and hand it to her like a man would with an engagement ring. If she accepts the pebble, if it’s round enough and big enough for her like the perfect diamond to us women, they will mate for life. Just the thought of it makes me sick. I wish it was that simple for us humans. Or do I? Regardless of if we have that rock or not, we rarely ever mate for life. Sex is just sex and urges happen. I learnt that the hard way when I was nine. My parents had a messy divorce. Both of them had slept around - I’d caught them both buggering around with other people red handed. Therapists told me that’s where my fear of commitment originates. I used to disagree. I’d say I was just more well tuned to human life than the other idiots. The therapists didn’t like that. 




Why is it that therapists are so adamant that you have ‘commitment issues’ or a ‘phobia’ of some kind? They want to force you into believing you have this ‘problem’ but is it really a problem to not want to be tied down? 
Humans. Are. Not. Mean. To. Mate. For. Life. 
Even Adrian, the scientist, knew that.  I used to think it was the therapists and married people who were wrong - not me. That never really changed, but I guess in the end you just have to go along with the hand you’re dealt - and after Adrian and Dane, Alex stumbled into my life. He was the hand that changed everything for me. He was my royal flush.


It was the night that everything exploded between Adrian and Dane. Adrian and I were out at a bar, although he was never really a big drinker I always tried to get him tipsy. That gentle giggle and slight silliness that would slip out of him after a vodka or two always lit me up. 

We were playing a game of pool. Every time one of us sank one of our balls we had to take a shot together - it was cruel on our livers but hilarious at the time. By the end of the game the juke box was playing that Ellie Goulding song from 50 Shades of Grey (don’t ask me why I know that,) and Adrian sort of tripped over his feet to get to me and planted a sloppy kiss right on my lips in between telling me he loved me. I blame the lyrics. 

Kissing wasn’t supposed to happen in public. Neither of us were very affectionate people around crowds - that’s one of the reasons he suited me so much. Of course Dane had to walk in through the pub door with chipped blue paint, right at that moment.

Dane locked eyes on us instantly as his heavy footsteps crunched the fallen splinters of wood beneath his feet. I knew the second I heard the jingle of the pub doors bell that something wasn’t right. 

Adrian in his pissed state had one hand pawing desperately at my breast and his tequila stained mouth was all over my neck. I’d drawn him in for one sneaky kiss, completely out of character for me. Groping me in front of so many people seemed to be an insane turn on - until Dane showed up. 




It must have been a territory thing, but suddenly both men turned into snarling hooligans, turning the pub upside down as they battled it out. 
The bar manager broke the fight up pretty quickly, especially when Dane started turning on me. 


I can’t blame him, though. I know I wasn’t the worlds most considerate lady, in fact I doubt I was a lady at all. All I really cared about was a good shag and a bed to sleep in. Oh yeah, don’t forget the free meal too. I had no time for love and romance. I was in my prime and reveling in it. 

In my defense, I had warned them both that I wasn’t looking for anything serious and I was seeing other people. Their eyes had twinkled and shone like adoring Madonna fans when I’d said that. It’s funny how quick things can change. 
Dane strode up to me and tugged the pool cue out of my hand, throwing it to the concrete floor with more force than he’d ever given when throwing me onto the bed. His eyes were alight with fury as his meaty hands grasped my wrists and demanded to know who I wanted. Him or Adrian. There was so much love and anger in his eyes as he dealt me his ultimatum.



A fist hurtled past my peripheral vision and connected with Dane’s face. I definitely heard something crack, the splitting of bone beneath instantly bruised skin. I thought it had been Adrian at first, but that was stupid because Adrian had never thrown a punch in his life. Neither had Alex actually, but I didn’t know that then.

Alex, at the time the pubs manager, sailed into my life in a fit of rage, trying to protect me from two brawling men that fateful Saturday evening. I never told him why they were fighting although it was pretty obvious as they were dragged out by the bouncers and screaming a string of insulting names my way. From ‘cunt,’ to ‘slut,’ to a whole bunch of other words I hadn’t even known was in their vocabulary. Alex never asked why they were fighting over me either, he just knew he had to have me - and have me he did. 


Maybe it was the shock that jolted me into reality - of breaking apart a ‘bromance’ that was once so strong. Looking into the eyes of a truly broken man that would rather hurt me than have me be happy with someone else - whatever happened that night, it made me never look at another man again. 

I won’t say it was easy. It wasn’t. A leopard can’t just change their spots, but she can change. I knew I’d always have all of those spots to haunt me in my older days but I also knew it was time to calm down.


Looking around our gorgeous little bedroom, a bedroom in a house we now own together as husband and wife, sends the most intense shiver up my spine. A good shiver. A shiver that says, ‘how did I get here?’ 
If I look back onto my life seven years ago I’d never for one moment think I’d be lying here today. Breakfast in bed, a doting husband willing to take the day off work to drive me to the doctor and pump my body with what it needs to get better. Never. 
I never for one second thought I’d look down at the plate of food in front of me, smell the freshly toasted bread and overwhelming peanut butter and suddenly dash to the bathroom to throw up. Never. 

The smell - potent, intoxicating. 

The toast, although seemingly perfected, now smelt burnt. The peanut butter was too nutty, it churned my stomach. The banana too fresh, too strong. The combination makes my head pound as blood rushes to my head dipped into the toilet bowl. Veins rise, looking about to burst from my temple.

I'm throwing up yet there is nothing in my stomach to throw up. 
I am definitely sick. 


Alex barges into the bathroom even though I’d managed to slam the door shut as I buckled to my knees in front of the porcelain toilet.


“Liz, are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” he asks me seriously as he holds my hair back and pats a damp cloth against the nape of my neck.


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Monday, June 19, 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel | Book Review

"Sometimes it’s a revelation, even to me, how much more comfortable I am with cruelty than with kindness."

I received a copy of this book from Jonathan Ball Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

Amy Engel's writing is delectable - the story is extremely unsettling and makes you uncomfortable as you read but the writing and haunting plot creates an unputdownable masterpiece. 
Her work is like a culinary creation - something you shouldn't enjoy such as a cricket taco or a tarantula burger from Manchester's new Brazilian inspired restaurant, Favela, featuring a creepy crawly buffet menu. 
This book is just that. 
It's dirty and twisted, it's creepy and dark... crawling in disturbing secrets and it's by far the most unique tale I have ever come across. 

A murder mystery to the core with an underlying hint of romance that softens the edges of this fascinating 'who-dunnit' novel. 




How a book with such a stunning cover can conceal such a horrific, harrowing story is beyond me. 

The Roanoke Girls is about Lane, a young girl whose mother commits suicide.
Now parentless, Lane moves to Kansas to live with her mysterious grandparents and cousin, Allegra. 
Lane barely knows anything about her family besides that her mother had once run away from them and had vowed to never return. 
The wealthy Roanoke family is renowned for their array of beautiful young women, Lane and Allegra being no exception. 
However, there are dark, shocking secrets hidden behind the walls of The Roanoke house which lead Lane to flee from Kansas just as her mother once had. 
Many years later, Lane, a drifter with little to show in life, is lured back to the Roanoke's after receiving a phone call from her grandfather. Her cousin, Allegra, is missing... and she needs to help.



I loved the set of characters in this book from the doting grandfather to the introverted grandmother. The sexy tease Allegra and the strong-willed, empty hearted lost-cause, Lane. The hideous house-keeper Sharon, who lacks any form of culinary skills and the eerie groundsman, Charlie. 

It is a compelling book rich with stories of small-town life as it weaves effortlessly between the past and present tense. 

Although there is an excruciatingly grotesque element to this book, it is not graphic which makes it easier to stomach. It is mild and I am grateful for the mercifully subtle delivery (you'll understand why once you discover the twist which is revealed very early on).

It's the kind of book you feel awkward explaining to others and even giving it a high rating makes you feel like there could be something wrong with you. But I was so invested in this story! The only downfall I found was the ending. It is so easy to become engrossed with this story but the ending fell flat for me. I figured out who the murderer was pretty soon but even so, it would have been more riveting if delivered differently. Everything just fell together and slotted into place too quickly like the ending was rushed. I also felt the descriptions of certain body parts (boobs and butts....) could have been handled better.

Along with a number of my friends, I tore through this book and came to the conclusion that it hooks and reels you in - we were just the poor helpless fish that took the bait - and it was great.



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Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Eulogy: Introduction

I'm writing a thriller. Dabbling in a new genre. There's no doubt I still have some romance stories bottled up somewhere deep inside of me - but for now... I'm finding the creepiness and suspense of the thriller genre so enthralling I had to try it out for myself. 

I'd love your thoughts on my intro... if it receives a good response, I may even post the first chapter ;)

Happy reading, book lovers.

*







The Eulogy

Written by Jade Wright




Introduction

A gypsy adorned in scarves and intricate jewellery sat across a cloth covered table from me. Streams of golden light shone onto our faces from a tiny cracked window in the corner of the caravan. Children's laughter echoed hauntingly from the world outside. Food sizzled on a grill, making my mouth water. As my subconscious senses picked up on all of my surroundings, one question alone was screaming in my mind. Who am I?


The faint smell of cedar-wood floated through the caravan in wisps of smoke. Dangling rose quartz, strung up druzy stones and wind chimes blew in the wind. The musical sound of the clanking copper tickled my ears playfully. 
“My vision’s hazy,” the gypsy said, squinting into her crystal ball.

“This is ridiculous! You’re nothing but a money making scam!” I flooded with rage. Snatching up the ball, I peered into its hopeless swirls. This was my last hope, it had to work.

Just as I was about to hurl the ball furiously across the room, a mans face shone right out of it, looking directly at me. It shocked me so much that the ball slipped from my grasp and clattered noisily to the floor. It split his face in two.
At first I didn’t recognise him. His handsome jawline and dark features, his deep set eyes that instantly chilled me to the bone. The soft splatter of freckles across his Roman nose and his gorgeous lashes any woman would be envious of. 
It was hard to tell with features like his if he was good or bad - the contrast of the two was like an art. A masterpiece. 

You know him… a voice whispered from somewhere deep inside of myself, making me look harder at his face.
That weary look in his eyes, the crooked smirk and deep dimple wedged into his left cheek. The cleft chin and chipped front tooth that made his plump lower lip jut out to one side. 
Who are you? I tried to cry out to him but no words came out of my mouth.
The gypsy was rising from her seat, folding up the deep red table cloth and telling me the time was up. 
“No, I need to know what happened to me! Please?” My voice shattered around me. 
“I cannot help you if you cannot help yourself.” 

She began blowing out countless flickering flames dancing on candle wicks. 
“I don’t know what you mean!”
“Who is the man in the crystal ball, Liz!?” 
“Liz. Is that my name?” 
“I’ve already said too much. Who is the man in the crystal ball!?”  

Her voice echoed through my eardrums with magnificent force, dizzying me. As she started to repeat the question, I realised she was going into some sort of trance. Her body was vibrating to the energy around us. The candles she’d blown out caught alight again as if by magic inside of her portable home.
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about!”

Shaking, I reached out and touched her ice cold hand, trying to free her from the ritualistic dance. 
Static shot through my body as our skin touched. 

Everything went black. All I could smell was smoke.
Sifting through the darkness to find the gypsy, her worn face appeared so fast in the blinding light that I gasped in fright. I tried ripping my hands away, but she had them tightly in hers. 
“He’s your husband, Liz.”

A falling sensation, as if I were spiralling downwards. Plummeting. This was it. I was looking down, watching myself hurtling towards earth and screaming helplessly through the black abyss. Soon, I would meet my death.

*

Thrashing violently awake in a cold sweat, my hand found the stitches on the side of my head. They had unraveled in my sleep. The wound was now oozing blood. There was no way I could go to the doctor, it wasn’t safe. I knew that, but I didn’t know why. I’d have to wait it out in the motel room for a couple of days. 
As a nurse, I knew more than enough about dressing a wound and short term memory loss after a concussion - and that was exactly what I had. A concussion.
How it had happened was the part that I couldn’t put back together. It was all starting to come back to me in small, uneven chunks. Finding out what was real and what was not was the problem. Am I a nurse? Is my name really Liz? 

Dressing the deep cut across my temple seemed to be second nature to me. Like riding a bicycle. I just knew what to do. I’d done it a thousand times before. 
The sound of ‘Liz’ seemed right, too.  

I twisted the bands around my ring finger as if by habit. They were beautiful, with diamonds encrusting every inch of white gold around the sides and one ginormous rock set in the middle. I had a husband. Where was he? 

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

May Reading Wrap-Up


May was a crazy month for me with the preparations for moving into my new flat on June 1st, adjusting to a new job at an art gallery in the city, turning 26 on the 15th May, abstaining from all things wheat and gluten and a (brace yourself!) pregnancy scare.



Books Read: 5

Favorite Read: Too Late by Colleen Hoover







Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
My Rating: 3/5
Verdict: Suspenseful, Plot-driven thriller.
Abducted at 16, Lily spends 8 years locked away in a cabin as a physically and emotionally abused sex slave to a very sick man. Throughout those 8 years, her kidnapper impregnates her, giving her a daughter she names Sky. After 8 long years, he finally slips up when he forgets to lock the cabin before he leaves. Lily seizes her chance and escapes with Sky, returning home to her family... but things have changed. In the years she's been gone, her family has fallen apart and Lily discovers the heartbreaking death of one of her relatives and a betrayal so shocking it almost tips her over the edge. Lily needs to adjust to life back with her family and introduce the world to her daughter who has only ever known life in the cabin... she also needs to make sure her kidnapper is sentenced to spend the rest of his life rotting behind bars. But will it be that simple? 









Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
My Rating: 4/5Verdict: A mysterious, eerie who-dunnit that had something missing....
A river running through the town in which this book is set has a history of claiming the lives of women. An investigation into the death of the latest victim, a single mother, is put into place. Was it a murder, a suicide or an accident? Are the deaths of all of these women somehow connected?
The victims estranged sister comes back to town to look after her 15-year old niece, now parentless... but she has a troubled past and never wanted to return to this small town at all. 






Image result for losing hope by colleen hoover



Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover
My Rating: 4/5
Verdict: A character driven, emotional rollercoaster
This is the companion novel to Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. It is told from Dean Holder's perspective - following his journey of dealing with his twin sisters suicide and finding Hope, his childhood friend who was abducted 13 years ago.











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Too Late by Colleen Hoover
My Rating: 5/5Verdict: Masterfully crafted, addictive, gripping, dark and explicit.
In 'Too Late' our main character is Sloan, a college student forced to stay in a toxic relationship with the biggest drug dealer on campus, Asa, in order to give her special-needs brother the best life possible. 

When Carter shows up in their drug-ridden, abusive and unhealthy lives, both befriending Asa for mysterious reasons and having an immediate attraction towards Sloan, everything is put into danger including the safety of everyone’s lives.






Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My Rating: 4/5Verdict: Unusual, Mythical YA Fantasy that almost lost me as it was very slow-paced for first 200 pages
In the unusual story of 'Strange the Dreamer' we have two MC's, an orphaned junior librarian called Lazlo Strange and the Muse of Nightmares Godspawn, Sarai. Lazlo has always been fascinated by the long lost city of Weep and has dedicated his years researching it's history - so when the opportunity arises for him to find out what really happened to this place, he has to seize his chance before losing his dream forever.

*Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!*







May Bookish Sundays: VLOGS









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Friday, June 2, 2017

I Did It!


Yesterday was a monumental day in my little life. 

I moved into my new flat!!!





This isn't like any of my previous flats though. 
For one, HELLO, that view?! WOW. 
Secondly, it was unfurnished. 

I have been doing some SERIOUS adulting lately with regards to growing the f#2k up.

I moved to Cape Town, got an amazing job at an incredible art gallery - got a studio apartment in a secure complex ACROSS THE ROAD for the ocean, with a huge balcony boasting an incredible view of the ocean AND table mountain!!!

Instead of spending the rest of my measly savings from the yachts on traveling to my next destination (right now, it's a toss up between SO many places... so let me ask you, where would YOU go if you could travel to anywhere in the world right now???), I bought a mattress, a fridge, a WASHING MACHINE (yeah... I know, right!?), a sofa, a bookshelf (my books now have a home and are not stacked on the floor anymore! #Winning), a kettle, glasses, a coffee table, kitchen utensils... the list goes on - like seriously, it actually never freakings ends. Every single day I have to make a note of something else I forgot to buy. 
Moving into an unfurnished apartment should come with an instruction manual.  

But for the most part, I did it... and I am so proud of what I have created for myself: 


My little safe haven. 
My sanctuary. 

I'm all bunged up with a major winter cold right now, wrapped up in my new rose-gold K-Way down-jacket at work (it is so warm, well worth the investment!)... but even so, last night in between overdosing on MedLemon and half dying under my faux fur winter blanket - I bundled up and watched the sunset on my balcony with a celebratory glass (or 3...) or Rose. 








I couldn't have asked for a better sunset for my first night in my new flat. 
I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of people to help me move and set up home... including my friend Matt who I bribed to come over and help me put up my curtains and snap the above pictures :D hehe

Life is far from perfect. 
I am still in my probation period at work but I am hoping and praying I get to keep this job because I love it so much and it is in an industry I adore.
My mother is a wreck and needs to go to rehab but they turned her away until she gets hospitalized. Basically, she needs to detox before they will allow her into the rehabilitation center with the other patients, or something like that. I don't know. I don't actually care. I have written her completely out of my life until she fixes herself. I'm tired of it. 
I have some SERIOUSLY manipulative family members... the Wright's are a bit (OK, a lot...) of a fuck-up really. I know every family has their downfalls but I really feel like ours got dealt the worst hand. 
I am STILL struggling to deal with what Simon put me through in Spain and just how much he has tried to hurt me since being back in South Africa - ie deciding to date and bring the first girl he ever fucked behind my back to South Africa on MY holiday (to my knowledge there were 8, but knowing him, there's probably more and I cannot wait to hear that he has developed an STD or worse from his disgusting antics).

ANYWAY -

there's more. But why dwell on the negative when something so truly wonderful has finally happened in my life. 

Yes I have been dealt a shitty hand in life - but I am proud of myself with the things I have accomplished, regardless. 




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Sunday, April 30, 2017

All I Want Is a Keyring

I'm lying on my bed in a grey concert t-shirt, ripped denim shorts (with an extremely unfortunate hole in the rear...). Barefoot with chipped nail polish. I am the definition of flawless, no? *inset sarcasm here*
I'm looking around the room with its mandarin glow and dark wooden wicker cabinets. The fridge is gurgling away, there's a pigeon cooing right outside my window and the sound of a dog barking somewhere in the distance. It's such a tranquil place and I can't believe it's all coming to an end so quickly. 

Two months has flown by. I took a three month lease on this apartment when I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. Somehow, I landed a job at one of the best art galleries in the world. Things all seemed to fall right into place for me when I first got here. I gave myself the time limit of three months to make things work. If they didn't, I had no choice but to return to the yachts and earn some Euros. My mission was simple: Find a good job, a flat... create a life here. Luckily, the job is going swimmingly.. but my lease expires in a month and then I will be homeless. Again. Shit. 
As much as I would love to stay in the place I am currently in, it's far too expensive. So I have been scouring the internet in search of a new place to call home. 
I fell in love with one tiny studio apartment in a complex nestled in the heart of the city. It had a little balcony and a view of the wondrous Table Mountain. Sadly, I couldn't take it. The one thing about living in the city is that most of the places don't offer secure parking. That meant that I would have to park on the streets which for South Africa in general just isn't a good idea.... it just wasn't a safe option for a single female walking home at night after work. I persevered and had flat options spilling out of my head - it was overwhelming looking at all of these places but there was nothing that seemed quite right.

The area that I am in now is out of the city. I live in Table View which is a stunning area close to the beach and far quieter too - the commute is just over an hour to get to work every morning but I really don't mind it. I've been listening to audiobooks while stuck in the traffic and it is a fantastic way to read more books each month. So - tomorrow, I am viewing a little studio apartment in a complex with secure parking ACROSS THE ROAD from the beach... it has a balcony overlooking the ocean and you can even see Table Mountain in the distance. I'm trying not to get my hopes up for it but I'm not going to lie, I have already been trolling Pinterest since 5am this morning looking at ways to decorate it. 

I know it sounds so silly - but I really just want a key ring. 

My whole life I have traveled the world, never really settling anywhere. It has never appealed to me. I've always been so free-spirited and have never wanted commitments or to be tied down. I don't know - maybe this change is due to my progression into my late twenties next month... I'm not sure what it is, but SOMETHING has me wanting to lay down some roots for once. 
I WANT to have a set of keys in the palm of my hand with a keyring on it. My keyring. I have never needed one before because my address was constantly changing. I guess the yearning for a keyring might sound a bit pathetic to you - but to me, it's symbolic. To me, that keyring will mean so much more than just a tacky piece of plastic. It will be SO special. I want the right keyring too. Something specific. Something.... 'me.'

I might not be able to afford the most amazing place... I might be paying off someone else's mortgage and bond.... but I have to start somewhere. 

I have a good feeling I am going to be taking this place I see tomorrow. Everything about it, from the pictures I have studied intensely over the last few days, screams ME.


I also know it is going to take time to set it up the way that I want it to be. It isn't going to be perfectly decorated within the first week of moving in. It's going to take time. I need to save money and slowly get it to where I want it to be. I mean, the place is completely unfurnished so in the beginning I am literally going to be focusing on the essentials: a mattress, bedding, a fridge, a washing machine (I NEVER thought I'd hear myself say that I need to buy myself a washing machine... I mean.... WHAT???), kitchen utensils. The list is actually endless! Thank God the stove is fitted in the kitchen already. One less thing to worry about. 
It is going to be a major work in progress and it will probably take months before I get it to where I want it to be. 

I do regret not using my savings from the yachts more wisely - saving it away to decorate this flat would have been SO handy right now... but we live and we learn, right? 

Winter is coming. I can just picture it in my head, cozied up in my new apartment on a shaggy rug, sipping a cup of tea and staring out at the waves.. writing my novels, reading books, filming my Youtube videos...  It will be the first place in my entire life that really feels like it is MINE because I will have my own furniture for the very first time. I will own things!!! I have never owned things like that before. Quite sad for someone in their late twenties, no? But my priorities were different then. Things have changed... and I am embracing everything that life is throwing my way. 
The place I am writing this from has never really felt like home. No where has really ever quite felt like 'home' because these places were always other peoples. It was their stuff. 
I am so excited to finally feel like I have a home. I feel like this is a monumental moment in my life because I was the person that never wanted a home. Everyone thought I was weird... globe trotting, sporadic, always on the move. I never really cared what people thought, I just thought they had different priorities to me. While they were studying to get degrees, saving to buy a house and getting married, popping out a family... I was wheeling my suitcase around airports, learning new cultures in South East Asia, trying new foods in dodgy markets in the streets of London, dying from sea sickness on a passage from Italy to Spain, exploring mountains in Switzerland and white-water rafting through Austria. I am not saying that I don't want to travel again. OF COUSE I do. I think once the travel bug bites, it never quite goes away. But I have seen a lot of the world already, more than most... and I will never regret that. I so so blessed to have been able to SEE the world that so many often only dream about... and I will continue to travel. I want to go snowboarding in Canada, devote myself to selfless service in India and experience a hot air balloon festival in Turkey.... and I will do those things. Eventually. Right now though, I want make a home and a life for myself. Here. In Cape Town. 
My mindset has altered so much recently.... not only do I want a home.... but I'm even considering one day having a family of my own. Babies have never appealed to me. I love children, don't get me wrong.. I'm good with children. But I never wanted them myself. But now??? I'm thinking about it. I'm not quite 'there' yet.... I am still very uncertain as to whether the life I lead (still writing and traveling...) would ever be a good fit for a child.... I will admit it, I am selfish. I like doing what I want, when I want... and if I have a child, they will come first. It won't be 'my life' anymore. And that scares me. That scares me a lot. 
But.... I'm opening up to the idea of having my own family one day. 
One thing that has never changed is that I know ONE DAY when I can afford a place that is pet friendly, I'll get my Collie Dog. I have wanted one for years and have always spoken about it. I will have a collie dog and a cat - and perhaps a fish... one day. Perhaps I can even get a fish in my new flat from June. Maybe that's a good place to start. A fish.... and a cactus. 
Name suggestions for my future scaley friend welcome in the comments below.    





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Friday, April 21, 2017

November 9 by Colleen Hoover | Book Review

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4/5 Stars for November 9!


A love story about a writer and his unexpected muse... it sounds cliche, no? Believe me when I say this book is far from that!!!

Our main character is Fallon, a once up and coming actress who got 30% of her body burnt in a fire, instantly bringing her acting career to an end.  On the anniversary of the day of the fire, she meets Ben, an aspiring writer. Their spark is instant and undeniable but their time together is short as she is just about to move across the country to New York to try and pursue acting again. 
Their crazy whirlwind romance ends with them promising to meet up every year on the day they met to see where their lives are - and this inspires Ben's debut novel. As Fallon begins to read snippets of the book she starts to wonder if Ben is being honest about how he knows her and if some of the horrific parts of his novel are fabricated or the heart-crushing truth...... 

This book is sectioned off in the years that follow, based on the day that they met, November 9th. 

Confession. I am a full-blown Colleen Hoover addict. She is a drug. Like cocaine... but this is CoHo.... and I should really be in rehab right now but I just can't stop devouring her books!

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You need to be a certain type of person to enjoy Colleen Hoover's writing. You need to be brave... really brave... and strong, because her books really will tear you apart. You also need to be sexual (if 50 Shades was too much for you then don't even go near her books... BUT... you should... because they are fan-bloody-tastic!). You also need to be open-minded. You need to have a certain sense of humor... almost dry humor. Sadistic humor. 

FYI: Read Ugly Love before you read November 9. Some of the characters from Ugly Love are IN November 9 which was such a stunning surprise!!! Really enjoyable if you're a die hard CoHo fan like myself...




At the start of this book I was thinking to myself, hmm this seems an awful lot like 'One Day' by David Nichols.... two people meeting up once a year on the same day and seeing where their lives are at etc etc... then it actually REFERENCES One Day as well... Now, One Day is my all time favorite book... and although they are very similar in some ways, they are entirely different in others.  
This is an absolute gem of a novel, brimming with unforgettably earth-shattering quotes and a love truly like no other (as cliche as that may sound... trust me). 

Once again, Colleen Hoover had me whimpering and sobbing in a corner - not ready to face the world for a while. Her books are SO full of love and angst - it's the most incredible combination and she pulls it off every single time. 
The plot twists were jaw-dropping and left me curled up in a devastated heap under my blankets. 
This book will also change your perspective on instalove (which lets face it, we all pretty much despise in books!!). ONLY Colleen Hoover has the ability to do that. 

Image may contain: one or more people, guitar and indoorFallon as the main character..... Okay, I love how you get her growing confidence throughout the novel and it IS wonderful to have an MC that isn't some beautiful girl ... she's scarred. Literally... and with someone with a skin problem like myself, it added so much more depth to the story. It inspired me. My condition is nothing like hers, having 30% of your body burnt from a fire... It makes me feel blessed to have such minimal problems in comparison, but this book really gave ME confidence somehow too. The love interest Ben makes Fallon feel beautiful, even more beautiful than before the fire... and that is so stunning.... when she gets to the stage where she OWNS her scars... I just love it. SO inspiring.  
There were things I didn't like about her character though... I felt like she was far too dramatic, riddled in jealousy... there were just a few things that I wasn't entirely happy about. I also found a fair bit of this novel to be far too cheesy, cringe-worthy and dramatic...
I listened to this book on Audible. You know... I keep SAYING this about CoHo's audiobooks.... something is just off with them. This one for instance, the female narrator spoke in slow motion. It was ridiculous. It just sounds SO computerized and weird... but besides that, I loved the story.
One other thing I actually found really enjoyable about this book was that Fallon's job is as a narrator for audiobooks and the love interest, Ben, is an aspiring writer who starts working on his debut novel which is all about his unique and heartbreaking relationship with Fallon. Ben as the love interest - the majority of CoHo addicts adore him. I'm torn. He's cheeky - which is good - but perhaps a little too cheeky and sexual.... SOMETIMES I feel like Colleen Hoover's books and characters can get a bit carried away sexually. Her sex scenes are PHENOMENAL and for the most part, elegantly done... but sometimes toning it down just a tad would do wonders.

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Overall, I loved it. I love all of her books. I love Colleen Hoover in general and I think her books and my books should just go off and have little bestselling JACO (Jade / Colleen) babies.