2018 Reading Challenge, Book 39 – Hunger

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And here begins my legit love affair with the writing that is Roxane Gay’s.

I bought all 3 books I have on my list for the year pretty much all at the same time, because I was prepared to commit to them all. You know when you know you’re going to mesh well with a writer?

This was me with Roxane Gay.

And I was not disappointed.

From the opening few pages I knew we were going to get on well.

The thing about really good writing is that you can relate to it even though it’s not your story.

This was that for me.

The way that Gay talks about her relationship with food and her body was painstakingly candid and honest. It was almost painful to read at times. Gay has an incredible style of writing that kind of picks you apart and then ours you back together again because there is a string of hope within it.

Hunger talks about body image and eating disorders candidly. And shows it for all the complexity that it is. It comes in waves, there are always going to be external factors that contribute. And people are always going to judge no matter what.

The thing that I really appreciated about this book is that Gay intentionally didn’t try to frame this like it was a tale to becoming thin or that she was sorry she was fat and was writing this book as a way to repent that. She wrote her story.  She wrote about why she turned to food and how the results in that decision affect her day to day. It’s her truth in a world that maybe doesn’t want to accept that truth.

It’s brutal at time. Gay doesn’t shy away from the circumstances in her life that made her who she is today. You can see quite clearly as you through the pages that the circumstances Gay has found herself in aren’t ideal, she unapologetic in that that, and in some ways that adds to the fact that this is not an easy read.

The psychology behind it all is kind of fascinating and gives some kind of insight into the the way that people deal with trauma. I could probably go deeper with that one, but I won’t.

Like I said earlier, a good writer makes you relate to them even it’s not close to your story. This is what this is. There were parts that hit so close to home for me. This book is not an easy read because of how it is written. Gay is an incredible writer.

I cannot recommend this book enough.

4/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 38 – Why Not Me?

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This is a book that I had actually planned to read this year. Go me! It’s also a book by someone who I really love.

Mindy Kaling.

I loved her first book. As a writer she felt so relatable and funny. This book followed in some way.

Mostly.

There was a section towards the end that felt like it went on a bit in a book that otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed.

It was funny.

I legit laughed out loud in public a couple of times. It caught me off guard. Which was bizarre because I know Kaling is a funny woman. And can write funny. But there I was, surprised that there was laughter bubbling out of my mouth while I was on the tube.

The thing I took away from this book, and her first, is that Kaling knows what she wants and she will work her ass off to get it.

It was an inspiring read as a result. Seeing all the work that she puts in on a day to day basis just to get shit done.

It also drops some real truth bombs. Like Kaling’s approach to body image and the clusterfuck that always is. How hard/weird is is to make and keep friends as an adult, I always love it when she talks about her relationship with BJ Novak because the way they support each other is beautiful. I loved how she aired out her flaws, she’s a bad loser and competitive af. It felt honest.

Her writing style feels conversational. You kind of feel like you’re getting to know her over the course of the book. I thought this was better than her first, probably because it just covered her life from a later point. I blazed through it as a result. It felt like a catch up with a friend.

I really loved the final chapter of this book. It felt like a rally cry on some level.

Because ‘why not me?’

(I would recommend this book. Kaling is great as a creator and it will actually make you laugh out loud at pints. There’s a lot of good stuff in it and she has some funny tales to tell.)

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Vengeful

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Buckle in, we’ve hit a run of book reviews. I mentioned last month that I had at least 11 to do. It’s creeping closer to 12 now. Maybe 13. The point is I have a lot to do. They’ll start this week and then I’ll get some chill and break them up a bit.

But let’s get to the first one shall we?

Let me begin by saying that I am so damn glad that I didn’t have to wait 5 years for this book.

Vicious changed my damn life (maybe slightly hyperbolic, but also true) and I was so happy to get back to Eli and Victor and the anti-hero world they existed in. So happy.

And this book also introduced me to the beauty that was Marcella. I loved her, in the way that you can only love an anti-hero. She wasn’t worst than Eli, but she was a different kind of bad. A more logical kind of bad at the end of it all, the one that I feel I might have been if the universe dealt me the same hand as her.

I loved how unapologetic she was and how her final thoughts manifested themselves in her ability. When it came to into fruition as she confronted her husband and all of his friends I was both horrified by how much pain she inflicted on them all.

She was the perfect antagonist to Eli and also Victor. She was deliciously sexy and smart. Her whole background really helped in terms of her actions and I loved how it turned her into such a show woman.

Let’s get to my faves shall I?

Eli and Victor. I am very attached to Victor. Don’t get me wrong he’s kind of awful, but of the two? Less awful. Having said that, he was awful in this one. There was a lot of senseless murder on his part. Was it justified? Possible. Was it necessary? Again, possible in the context. But it was savage as hell. And also dangerous for my other faves. Mitch and Sydney.

I remain always stressed about Mitch because his luck, or lack thereof, is talked about a fair bit, and also he’s human.

I stressed about Sydney because she was still clinging to a piece of her past that she really shouldn’t have. I loved watching her powers grow but also that came with an element of fear, because the stronger she got the more likely it became that she could achieve her goal and bring her sister back from the damn ashes.

Back to Victor, but linked to Sydney. I liked seeing how his resurrection affected him and his ability. Quietly at first and then it really ramped. How his power and the life that he chose really isolated from him from the family that he accidentally created. It was heartbreaking. I loved how Schwab made the two co-exist. You could feel for Victor whilst also completely disagreeing with him and his methods. But ultimately he kind of the one that you root for.

Which brings me onto Eli.

Now, it’s not that I hated Eli come the end of Vicious, but let’s be real he played God and was ruthless because of it. He was a dick and of the two, he was the worst.

So colour me surprised when a bitch caught feelings about Eli.

I was always intrigued by what would have led Eli to be the way that he is. There were hints about it Vicious from Victor’s perspective, but this fleshed it out. Listen it’s still very much ‘cool story, still murder’, but the fact is Schwab created characters that live and breathe in grey areas.

Eli has spent the past 5 years in a version of hell and was then expected to help the system.On their terms. But then because he is Eli he has a trick up his sleeve. One that always leads him back to Victor.

Their reunion was bittersweet. Just their whole relationship as it stands is bittersweet. Come the ending where you see what could have been you’re just reminded of how fragile the ego is. Especially at the age that they were at.

If you can’t tell by now, I really enjoyed this book. I loved this book. It arced so beautifully and had so many nuances to it that I haven’t even touched on.

I said that I couldn’t have done the 5 year wait between books, but I could have because Schwab creates narratives in this world that may not end neatly but end properly. I felt very satisfied by this ending.

4/5 stars

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Totally Should’ve Book Tag

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Oh look, it’s a book tag. I’ve done one of these for a hot minute, so it was about time that one made  an appearance. I saw this one here and now it is here.

Let’s do this shall we?

1. Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

To be honest, as much as sometimes I would love a sequel, I wouldn’t want one if it couldn’t keep up to par with the original. I don’t think I’m hugely into the idea of a full novel, I’d like a short story just to check in with some characters. Like how are Dimple and Rishi doing? Or Griffin? There are a lot of those like that.

2. Totally should’ve had a spin off series

Where the fuck is my Marauders’ era series? I crave this more than anything in this damn world. No joke. And I feel bad because JK Rowling is so giving sometimes with her work and I feel like I’m being greedy. But also, seriously how did that map come into existence and what is the magic behind it? How did Lily and James fall in love? How much of a dick was James really? At what point did Wormtail turn a little evil? How was he friends with the other three? How did they deal with Lupin being a werewolf? How the hell did Sirius have the power to become an animagus? Did James feels left out by this lack of ability to become a canine?

See, I have a lot of questions.

3. An author who totally should write more books

Erin. Morgernstern. Although, I hear she has something new in the works which I am (im)patiently for.

4. A character who totally should’ve ended up with someone else

I don’t think Maia should have ended up with someone else, I do however believe that she should have got her version of a happy ending. Killing Jordan didn’t really add all that much to me.

5. Totally should’ve ended differently

Okay, there are maybe other factors that feed into this decision the main one being that sitting in a universe for month and doing nothing else is a lot (binge reading is just as draining as binge watching it would seem), but War Storm’s ending just did not do it for me. Also there are so many others, I have an issue with endings, but that one springs to mind first.

6. Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

Give me a Red Queen franchise tbh. I’d watch the hell out of that.

7. Totally should’ve had a TV show

Where is my The Night Circus production? Oh also, I wanna have a slow burn Villains series. Give me Victor and Eli battling it out on a screen.

8. Totally should’ve had only one point of view

I actually can’t think of one to be honest…? I’m really greedy and I love to have perspectives as long as they work and from the top of my head I can’t think of one that I didn’t think worked.

9. Totally should’ve had a cover change

See, I don’t really require a cover change all that much. The only thing that I require is that they remain consistent across a whole series. It really annoys me when this doesn’t happen. My Red Queen series is all confusing because I have a Collector’s Edition of the first book, which is fine, but also they’re different and on some level it annoys me, even though it is my own doing. I love consistency. As long as I get that, it’s fine.

10. Totally should’ve kept the original covers

Like I said, I really don’t care as long as they match. If you’re getting rid of the initial covers but not reissuing the old ones I’m gonna have issues.

11. Totally should’ve stopped at book one

Maybe The Rosie Project. It’s not that I didn’t like the second one because I mostly did, but I didn’t think the first book really required it at the end of the day.

And there we have another book tag done, and now I go on to a little review onslaught. I mean, you all saw that one coming right?

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Final 2018 Update

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Did I not just do one of these? Has it really been two months since the last one? Is this year really having the audacity to move this quickly. This is the last one of these for 2018 and that just kind of feels ridiculous. This year just started. How is it all downhill towards Christmas now?

Anyway, now that I have slowly come to terms with the fact that this is in fact actually happening I guess I should just get on with the update now shouldn’t I? Oh also, yes there have been some culls. This is a shorter update than the ones before:

1) Learn how to fuck with eyeshadow

So the festive season is coming and I feel like my treat to myself is playing with eyeshadow and really perfecting at least one look, because that is literally all my face is anyway. I have but one make up look, but the lipstick changes so it looks different. Just once I want the difference to be the eyeshadow. So now my free time shall be spent watching tutorials. Oh and also I gotta buy myself an eyeshadow palette, which is where the problem lies for me…

2) Learn how to do a full pull up

Honestly this remains just a case of me putting it to the test as to whether I can actually do this because I feel like I probably could. I’ve done enough groundwork that could kind of lead to me achieving just one of them, which is all I need. So that’s my final task, and to be honest the most important in order for me to classify this as a success.

3) Read 70 books

Hey, we are in November and I am in the final 10. There have been many times when I thought it would be impossible. The reading list for the year has morphed into something that I very much did not expect, but I think I’m gonna get there. I’m kind of worried as to what I’m going to try and achieve next year with this one…

4) Lift heavier

I can lift heavier than I used to overall, I can’t deny that. The thing about this one in the context that I lift weights in is that it’s choreographed and the choreography changes every of couple of months. I could go super heavy by the end of the last release. This current one though, I’ve not gone about 15kg. One, it physically feels like I can’t, my legs are tight these days and one of my wrists prohibits heavy lifting for some moves and two, this release doesn’t allow you to go super heavy without potentially risking form. It’s so many reps per move/track. So overall, yes I can lift almost double what I could at the start of the year, I’m just not doing that right now.

5) Eat more fruit and veg

I mostly hit my 5 a day these days. There are days when it’s really bad and days when it’s great. The balance in favour of good days is slowly swinging around, but all my fave fruits are out of season now and so there will be a bit of a scramble, but I’ll get it back.

6) Finish the damn book

This year started with this goal being in regards to a different Thing I was trying to write (I mentioned this last month at some point, I was talking about notebooks) but I’m not there yet with the ability to write it and so I’m on a different Thing that I am trying to finish this very month. There will be more on how it’s going later, but for the most part I think I can get this one done. I could end 2018 with a somewhat coherent first draft.

7) Write for half an hour a day

I’m gonna make this habit. I swear I will. I’ll get there eventually. This month has made me more aware of the need to than ever before.

8) Get my Peak score to 800

Here’s the thing, I lost that streak of mine in March and I got bitter. I’ve not opened the damn app for weeks now. But 900 is still an aim of mine. I don’t think I’m gonna get it this year. But I’m gonna try. Again.

9) Meditate more

I am still so bad at this and ironically it’s upsetting me and so I’m treating these final two months as a project. It’s 10 minutes of my day. When I did it for a month I felt so much better for it. This self care thing needs to level up a little bit, just because my anxiety is low right now doesn’t mean that it won’t be a little bitch and come back all guns blazing. I need that calm that came with regular meditation.

10) Save, save, save

I currently have two separate savings accounts open, both of which have money in. I’m also working on trying to close my overdraft fully. That won’t happen this year, but it’s closer to happening now than it was at the beginning of the year. This has no end point really, it’s ongoing, so I’m going to remove it from any kind of list. It’s just a given now.

And there have it. The final (I’m sorry what now?) check in of 2018. There will be final round up of this particular set of goals because for some there will be a final two month push, but that will come next year…

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Glossier – A Year On

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If you can even believe (said in the tone of JVN always) I have been using Glossier products for a year now.

The die hard obsession that I initially harboured has cooled down a little and I no longer feel super compelled to buy every new thing they release, and has simmered to a constant appreciation instead.

Because I stand by the fact that these product have changed my damn skin’s life.

My skin was slowly becoming a bigger and bigger oil slick and had just somehow became worse that it was when I was a teenager and it needed to catch a break.

Glossier did that.

And my skin is slowly clawing its way back to having never been better.

And when I say crawl I really do mean crawl.

Not only did I need a skin care routine that would deal with all the oiliness (seriously I have combo skin, but it was just always oily) I also needed one that would tackle the hyperpigmentation my face so loves to cling on to.

Over the course of the past year this skincare routing (along with a couple of skincare supplements here and there) have tackled them both.

Especially the oiliness. My face by mid morning no longer looks shiny. My makeup if I don’t set it (which I did a couple of times last month as some kind of test) actually has some staying power and doesn’t just fall off my face into oblivion. In that regard I am no longer low key bothered by the skin of my face.

The hyperpigmentation is the slowest crawl of them all. I did some serious damage over the years. I remain a spot picker, however I am better at not picking, which means for the most part the only thing I’m expecting a consistent skincare routine to do for me is gently fad away old scars (I say this, I for a spot on my forehead recently that was just so juicy I was picking it before I even knew what I doing and thus a new scar appeared). And it’s working.

The thing that I credit the most for this development was the introduction of Solution to my routine. It’s been a game changer in all ways. Since using it and getting through the initial month adaptation (my skin always needs a lot of adjustment, I don’t make a call until a month in) my skin has really been thriving. The texture is so much smoother, there’s been an even further reduction in my old friend shininess. And the marks are leaving. Most of the more recent ones are almost faded completely, but those older ones are stubborn.

I keep getting compliments about my skin because it does look so much better and clearer. And to be honest, hearing that sometimes is useful as when you look at your own face everyday it can be difficult to see change. Also, I don’t know if it’s related to the products or just consistency, but I get far fewer breakouts than I used to . They are usually hormonal when they do happen (that’s a lie, they definitely are, they happen every month like clockwork). The lack of excessive breakouts does also contribute to the lack of opportunity to create new marks.

So the skincare stuff I’m a fan of still. They have done great things to my skin and ave crossed off another thing that I no longer need to feel self conscious about. Oh and I love that I have a sunscreen that doesn’t take ages to rub in and still leaving me looking a little grey.

The makeup stuff I’ve kind of let fall to the wayside. I haven’t even looked at the skin tint for months, if at all this year and the concealer just doesn’t really fit in with my make up routing anymore and it comes up a little dark. I will say that I bought the Lash Stick and while I don’t think it’s gonna reinvent mascara as we know it, it is a good daytime alternative because my ride or die mascara is A LOT for when I’m just trying to be chill.

I still haven’t made a decision about any of the serums and at this point I might leave it because I’ve got one that is working just fine, but they have a spot stick yet to launch in the UK that I really wanna try because even though I don’t have huge breakouts anymore they do still happen and I’m gonna try anything that’s gonna potentially minimise the amount of opportunity I have to pick my face.

And so there we are. A year on the Glossier train and I remain a happy passenger excited to see what else they may bring.

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Frank Body

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Now I’ve been feeling the need to make some small changes to my skincare routine so that I can really get my skin back to living as good a life as possible.

I’ve mentioned this a lot before, it’s mostly on point at the point since Glossier came into my life (which I’ll bang on about tomorrow) however there are some areas that need to be tweaked.

For one I don’t properly exfoliate as much as I should. I also need to use a more detoxifying mask than whatever one I currently have in circulation.

These things have now been phased into my life as of w/c October 1st (thank you calendar for aligning like that). As well as a few other products because as happened last year when Glossier was introduced into my life, this year I discovered Frank Body. So the increase in baby pink packaging in my life has also doubled.

I came across them because I was reading an article about body scrubs and I’m always looking for new ones to try as my current one is sugar based and tbh I prefer something a little coarser.

The Frank Body one uses coffee. It’s not secret that I love coffee. So guess what happened?

I own a ton of Frank Body stuff now. In that fashion here comes a review of them now that I’m a month into using them.

Firstly, I love the packaging. It’s so tongue in cheek and honestly it just makes me happy. Onto the products themselves.

Glow Mask – This mask is interesting. One, you rinse it with cold water. Two you only leave it on for 5 minutes. It also goes on quite sheer and so it kind of makes you wonder whether it actually works. The day after I used it I got told twice that my skin looked like it was glowing. Glowing, not shiny, which has been (and kind of continues to be) an issue for my t-zone specifically. It’s so quick and easy to use and it works. I use this on Thursday nights to give it a bit of a mid-week pick me up.

Anti-Drama Face Mask – This is my detoxifying mask. I use it on Sundays for an end of week refresh (the Sunday night face ritual is sacred). This is a 15 minute jobby and I like it. I enjoy a clay mask and this one isn’t too much of a nightmare to remove which always a plus and it does leave my skin feeling smoother and a little calmer. It’s just what I need at the end of a week.

Creamy Face Scrub  – Okay, so here we hit some products that actually have coffee in them. This face scrub is my proper exfoliation of the week. I do it on Wednesday nights because that’s typically when I box in the evening and so the sweat is real and I just need a bit of a deeper clean. The thing about this is that it’s also a bit of a mini mask as you have to leave it on for 3 minutes after rubbing it in, which is fine in the grand scheme of things. That does take some getting used to. The coffee is coarse enough that it feels like you’re getting a good scrub on but it doesn’t feel abrasive and once it’s washed away my skin feels all smooth and shit (and my moisturiser goes on like a dream).

Original Espresso Scrub – I love the colour of the packaging and the message on the front. Also, this shit is messy. So messy, there is really no way for it to not be messy. It feels a little weird to a part of my brain to be using coffee grounds all over my arms and legs (primarily) but you can get over it. You also need to leave this on for a bit after its been rubbed in which is fine. Beyond the mess it is actually really ice to apply and there is something very satisfying about rinsing it off. It leaves my skin feeling so damn smooth. (I also have a peppermint one that I’ve not opened yet but I’m intrigued by it as it’s supposed to be good on post workout muscles.)

Lip Scrub – I really needed a new one of these that I was inclined to actually use. I like this one. A lot.  It has a great consistency to it and really get in there in terms of buff away all that dead stuff.

Lip Balm  –  Which leads me nicely to this one. I like this product. Mostly. It’s really thick, to the point where until it had been in my hand for a couple of minutes I could not get anything out. It has a hint of a coffee taste to it which I love and funnily enough it is the perfect companion to the lip scrub.

Body Cream – And here we have the final product I own (because when I commit to a brand, I commit hard). This is maybe my least favourite product just because it’s not my type of moisturiser. It smells really sweet and it is on the thicker side which I like, but also if you use even a smidge too much you are just rubbing it in for about a decade. I’m unlikely to purchase this again.

I’ve pretty much covered almost all the bases in what Frank Body have to offer. Most of them have been aces. The only thing really left for me to monitor is how long they last for to see just how cost effective they turn out to be. Overall through, I’m a very happy camper, as is my skin.

Also, this is totally not sponsored,  it’s just a referral link I have if you want to try out any products, which if you hadn’t guessed I would totally recommend, right here and also get a cheeky little discount.

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