It's all made up

It's all made up

For lovers of beauty, books and making rad crafts.

Book review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I like Cheryl Strayed’s writing. I can see how it may not be everyone’s taste, but it works for me.

I finally got around to reading Wild since I wanted to get through it before the movie came out. As expected, I really enjoyed it.

The book is non-fiction, and there’s no denying Strayed has not had an easy life: an abusive/absent father, a mother taken by cancer and an early divorce. It’s understandable that anyone would be left reeling from this. That doesn’t make the bad, self destructive decisions she makes (her ion experimentation, promiscuity and embarking on a massive hike extremely underprepared) any easier to read. 

But to her credit she sticks with her Pacific Crest Hike. Journey books are especially satisfying to read, and I loved how Strayed ended this (a bit like a shortened version of the Six Feet Under finale, aka best show ending EVER). There were a few tears.

I’ve also read Strayed Tiny Beautiful Things which in hindsight now wish I’d read after Wild. You’d have a more clear picture of the history she frequently references in Tiny by going in this order. They’re both good books in their own right so this is just a random musing.

I’m glad Strayed has found her footing later in adulthood. It seems like she deserves it.

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Book Review: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE BY NEIL GAIMAN

I get a huge amount of satisfaction when a Want to Read Wednesday gets checked off the list.

Once again, here is the plot points on The Ocean at the End of the Lane from Amazon:

Neil Gaiman’s intent was simple: to write a short story. What he ended up with instead was The Ocean at the of the Lane—his first adult novel since Anansi Boys came out in 2005, and a narrative so thoughtful and thrilling that it’s as difficult to stop reading as it was for Gaiman to stop writing. Forty years ago, our narrator, who was then a seven-year-old boy, unwittingly discovered a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. What happens next is an imaginative romp through otherwordly adventure that could only come from Gaiman’s magical mind. Childhood innocence is tested and transcended as we see what getting between ancient, mystic forces can cost, as well as what can be gained from the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating tale that is equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky.

It was spooky! I was spooked for sure. 

This was an easy read, it clocks in at less than 150 pages and the plot goes along at a good clip. Plus there’s the aforementioned spookiness to keep you on your toes. 

I liked it. I’d recommend it if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and just go along for the ride. Gaiman doesn’t hold back.

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Everyday I’m hustling…on camera

I’ve recently started a role where I can wear leggings/stretchy clothing to work. No I haven’t become a yoga instructor (although that would be pretty rad), I am in fact living the modern dream of working from home.

Among my new found intolerance of restrictive clothing, I’ve also had a self taught crash course in on screen appearance due to the magic that is video calling. Video chats are awesome because they remind you how many flyways you have multiple times a day. As if this wasn’t enough, my new work laptop has a retina screen, which, dear God…pore fest*.

After a month, I’ve learned a few things. “Dewy” skin does not translate well at all on screen, and facing into direct light is your most flattering option by a long shot (light behind you in an “anonymous witness” style is second best, light from the side, like a window, is the worst).

My daily routine is much less time consuming than when I used to work in an office, but is still far from the makeup free existence you might imagine for someone who doesn’t leave the house. I rub in a tinted moisturiser/BB cream with my fingers, followed by bronzer and a tiny bit of setting powder. Otherwise it’s just a bit of smudged eyeliner (no mascara…too much) and tinted lip balm and I’m done. 

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This batch of goodies has been my go-to set. MAC Studio Moisture Tint is more matte than my beloved Garnier BB Cream so it’s been getting some use. I’ve also been loving the Maybelline Master Smokey pencils, particularly the brown one. They’re quick to apply and less harsh on than just an eyeliner.

All this may seem excessive/vain, but, like going to the hairdresser, if you’re going to be looking at yourself a lot throughout the day, there’s no need to feel unattractive every time you do.

*I now have a bit of sympathy for the actors who were freaking out 10 years ago when HD screens came in. I feel for you sistas.

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Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Ohhh The Rosie Project – so much hype! That might be part of the reason I was largely underwhelmed. The other reasons involve a predictable plot (she’s “utterly unsuitable”…there’s no way they’ll end up together right?) and a general lack of characters to relate to. If you want to read the plot, click here.

Don is asperger’s syndrome methodical, Rosie seemed immature for her 29 (or around there, I can’t be bothered to look it up) years and read very much like a woman written by a guy. Dons friends are fine (if a little odd) and that’s about it.

If it was marketed a different way, this could have been chick lit. It felt like watching a cliched romantic drama (like P.S. I Love You, which yes I know it was a book first). I can’t handle romantic dramas. I also got the feeling that Simsion was trying to toughen it up, adding a bit of swearing and debate about sex. Oooooh. Edgy.

I hear there’s a sequel coming out. I won’t be getting in line. One Day by David Nicholls or anything by Jonathan Tropper would be a much better alternative. Sorry Rosie.

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Beauty Review: Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster

This is one of those products you wonder why no one thought of sooner. Turn your regular moisturizer into a tanning version. Genius!

I’ve used this twice now and I have yet to get the dosage right. I think they say to use 2-3 drops (or maybe it’s 3-4) into your moisturizer, which on my medium toned skin doesn’t make much of a difference. Still, I guess that’s the beauty of this: it’s easily customisable. I’ll persevere.

Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

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Another one to add to the “Why is this a classic?” list.

The Old Man felt like something you’d read in high school, then analyze to death, inserting imagined plot subtext in the all the lagging points of the written one.

Sure sure I’m being harsh and probably missed a lot of metaphors, but if a book is going to require heavy dissection to enjoy, it’s just not going to be my bag. For better or worse, I take most things at face value*.

I’d like to wrap up with a part of my favourite review on Goodreads:

Just throw the fucking fish back in. Fuck.”

*I don’t read many mysteries, but I should. I almost never see it coming.

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My love/hate relationship with Shellac

Here is my Shellac mani at week two of my recent holiday- this is why it’s brilliant. Such shine! No chips!

Shortly after this the edges at the bottom started peeling away in a manner I could no longer ignore (they were catching in my hair) so I started to pick it off. Therefore for the last week of the trip I had gross chipped red polish and semi destroyed nails. In fact I’ll have semi destroyed nails for a while. As the Italians would say: no buono.

I’ve had Shellac before so i really should have known better, but I guess the moral of the story is make sure you can either get to a place to have it removed before the situation is dire (most likely around the two week mark), bring acetone with you (probably not the best for traveling) or just suck it up and go bare nailed or use regular polish.

The upside to this is my shellac pedi has held up beautifully, so that was a winner of a decision.

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Book review: My Brillian Friend by Elena Ferrante

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I finished My Brilliant Friend a few weeks ago, and am still a bit up in the air how I feel about it. I read it because I was going to Italy and I like to read books set in places I’m traveling to. Like a literary Lonely Planet.

The Goodreads description:

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.

I don’t know if I’d agree with the “masterfully plotted page turner” bit there. I would have called this book a slow burn - the kind you grow more affectionate for as you go. With Brilliant Friend this happens because of the vast cast of characters which you watch grow up as the novel progresses.

That said, this isn’t exactly Captain Corelli’s Mandolin* The narrator, Elene, is usually quite annoying (I’m not sure I’d want to have dinner with her, and that’s usually a good test). Her friend Lila isn’t much better. 

When I finished this I thought I’d go on to read the second in the trilogy but now I’m not so sure. I do want to find out what happens next, but I also don’t want another 300 pages of Elene. So we’ll see.

*Another character driven book which is done much better. Louis De Bernieres has a way of making you, I don’t know, care.

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This morning, with her, having coffee.
- Johnny Cash, when asked for his definition of paradise in Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire.
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