Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Review: Girl Online

I'm going to write this review as honestly as possible, I do admit that I love Zoella on YouTube and I also love her blog. But I won't let that cloud my decision when writing this review.

So basically the story begins with a socially inept teenage girl called Penny. She's 15,  has a blog that's growing in popularity. To be totally honest I found the first couple of chapters very childish and the cringe-worthy scenes kind of irritated me and so did her total naivety. I felt like she was very doe eyed and that bothered me a bit, because I'm all for a really strong main character.

I also I felt that I was a bit outgrown for the slapstick humour, it didn't make me laugh. So for the first couple of chapters I was mildly disappointed, because I really wanted to like this book and it was letting me down a bit.

I was getting the distinct impression that I had definitely outgrown the novel, having no doubt that my twelve or thirteen self would have enjoyed it a lot more.

However as the story continued I found myself becoming more engrossed in the story, and as her relationship with Noah progressed I found myself liking Penny more and I liked Noah as well. I found some of her friendship issues very tedious however and I think they would be more helpful aimed at a younger crowd.

On the plus side as I came to the end of the book I couldn't but it down and I really wanted to keep reading, I felt like I could see Zoe developing as an author as the book progressed. The only problem was that as that happened the book ended, which was mildly disappointing.

On the plus side I really liked how she made her main character have anxiety issues (I feel like such a sadist saying that like - yay! she's fucked up) however I felt like her response to it was very Bambi like and it irritated me. I am a self confessed cynic when it comes to those topics -oh, the jaded teenagers of the world *sigh*.

Overall I would give the book a solid 3.8 stars as I can't ignore the issues I had with the beginning. I am however looking forward to the second book (it's currently still in discussion - I think!) as I feel like her writing will only develop.
For a debut novel with the amount of pressure Sugg had on her she did very well.

Zoe Sugg, Author

Sunday, November 9, 2014

October Favourites

So I decided to do something new and let you in on a secret I'm a makeup/beauty lover, (if you couldn't tell by my Zoella post) so here we go

Makeup and skincare...
Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara
Okay so I loooove this mascara, I did as soon as I put it on. It was like BOOM instant eyelashes. I have funny little blonde eyelashes that are the bane of my existence (my brother however has long dark lashes. Where's the justice in the world?? ) But I really noticed a difference with this mascara and very little clumping and also and very little application for a big result. My only criticism is that at the end of a school day there might be faint black marks, and be warned DO NOT rub your eyes at end of the day... if you do serious panda eyes.
Also if you want to buy this product at Mecca they're selling out fast and not restocking till after Christmas (don't ask me why) so hurry! 

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap (Extra Mild)
I started using this facial soap because half my face was getting really dry skin and it was getting really bad so I went to the Clinique counter at Myers and the most lovely lady talked to me about my awful skin and set me up with their three step system. Now I had tried this before and I will talk about that below, and it's wasn't great because I had been matched wrong. But this new stuff was great really gentle and didn't react with my super sensitive skin. It really helped with my dry skin also didn't cause my oily areas to get too oily.

I've been really loving this foundation, I love that you can build it up and it can last the whole day. I really love the coverage, but you need a blusher and a bronzer as it can take all the colour out of your face, so make sure you have those before you purchase. I find that this blends really easily and the clay based formula controls oil. I really love the dewy (but not sweaty-dewy) look it gives. And best of all I don't break out! like I did with the Wake Me Up Foundation... So I'm really happy with this and foundation and compared to the Wake Me Up it looks like you are only getting a small amount but with this a little bit goes a Long way.

Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner in Blackest Black

So this is the second liquid eyeliner I have brought ,the first was crap, and this one was actually pretty (no shit... it's on my favourites). I was using this to practise my cat eye flicks... which I am crap at. I found the pen on this really good and the shape of the nib excellent for lining my inner corner. My problems arose with the lasting power, as by the end of the day my eyeliner had faded dramatically and also I found it ran out quite quickly that could have been from overuse on account of mistakes. But the good thing about the lack of staying power is that when I made a mistake and I made a lot... it was really easy to fix with a cotton bud and I didn't have to remove my entire eye in order to fix a tiny line nor did I get black everywhere.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette 

I actually got this Palette a while ago. I was standing at the Too Faced counter trying to decide between the Natural Eyes and the Chocolate Bar... it was a close call especially when the chocolate palette smelled so Devine  ...mmmmmmmm... but then that silly rational side of my brain reasoned that all the colours I would use on the Chocolate Bar Palette is already on the Natural Eyes and is cheaper. So Natural Eyes won out and I'm really glad it did, because I have been LOVING it so much. The pigmentation is really good and the colours blend really easily. I also love the little instructions that come with it. I think this palette would be great for people just starting with makeup, but it could be considered pricey depending on your budget. My only issue is that I have very oily eyelids so if I don't use a primer I can get lines from the eyeshadow gathering in my creases, but this probably doesn't apply to everyone.

Moving on to books:

Rosemary Beach Series by Abbi Glines

I stumbled on this series late one night and when talking about how AMAZING it was to my friend ( a fellow lover of the fluffy romance novels) I learned that it was one of her favourites too... and she consequently lent me the whole series (as you do), well she lent me all the books that have come out yet.
As the weather heats up for me I find myself relaxing more and doing a lot more reading, what with the school year coming to an end and it makes a perfect procrastination tactic. If you love a light hearted fluffy novel then I would recommend this series to you the first being (Fallen Too Far). It's such a great series and is like four little miniseries in one big one. Each pairing has at least two books to themselves which is really nice, and by the time I finished their miniseries I was always itching to get to the next book.
Even for those of you in the northern hemisphere (I'll be joining you in two weeks), as the months get colder, snuggle up to the fire with this (inexpensive on kindle) series and start reading something that will make you laugh.
Although, I do warn to now, if you have anything pressing in the next week after you begin put it off and read some FanFiction or something instead ;)

And now moving on to TV Series

Aim High

I first watched Aim High ages ago, but then forgot about it as time went by. The episodes are very short (10 minutes) and you could watch in the entire first season in under an hour, but the whole thing is great. It's light and funny and slightly distirbing. Basically Jackson Rathbone plays Nick Green, who is a junior government operative (assassin) who goes to high school and has the typical teenage struggles. It's just really, REALLY funny. Best of all: you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.

Really, who can say no to that face? *sigh* (he's married in real life)

So that's it for my October Favourites I hope you found this useful and helpful... hopefully next time I will get this up before we start the next month.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cameron Russell: Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model

I love this video... I love this video SOO much...

I love it because when I first watched it, I was at a very impressionable stage in my life. A time when every time I looked in the mirror I picked at what I saw. I picked about what I saw so much that I hated everything that I saw. When I looked at other people I picked them apart. I judged myself on   them and I rated myself. I had the world set out in two groups of people. People that were better than me and people that I saw myself on par with.

It was an incredibly twisted way of viewing the world, and I would feel guilty while I was doing it. I kept telling myself that I didn't want to be this superficial person. That I looks didn't matter. And they don't. Personality matters so much more.

Except, even though I knew that. It didn't stop me from wanting what I saw in other people. It didn't stop the crushing jealousy I felt (and still feel), when I see someone pulling off an outfit that I love and that I could NEVER pull off, and never will because of my body type and shape.

I thought that world was unfair, I felt like the victim and my own mind and way of perception was the bully.

I used to wonder if everyone felt like this... and I guess to a certain extent at some points in peoples lives they do.

When I saw this video, I felt inspired. I felt empowered. I looked in the mirror and tried to see the whole picture and not pick at imperfections.

It taught me a lot about how to view myself, and spoke about a topic that I am very passionate about.

I'm not saying that I'm always happy when I step on the scales now. Not even close. But this video, and ones like it meant that sometimes when I look in the mirror I smile.

And even though that's not a lot. It is still more than before

Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Defense of the Fluffy Romance Novels

Okay, I think this may turn into a series of blog posts. There are many things I need to address in my writings to defend the "fluffy romance." I myself am an avid reader of fluffy romance novels. I have read more than I care to count and I want no longer to be one of those people who shamefully hang their heads when asked what they read.

Why is it that so many people say that Pride and Prejudice is their favourite book? I'll tell you why, be cause it is an acceptable response (it is also quite a good book). It's a response that people won't scoff at. Sure you can love any contemporary indie novel that you like, but if you happen to enjoy a light funny romance book, then you're shallow and have no taste? I'm sorry but that's bullshit.

So I'm going to address some of the main arguments that people have against romance novels.

The first thing I want to talk about is when people say that romance books are predictable. OF BLOODY COURSE they are predictable. Life is predicable. I am a person and I can guess at how life will work out in certain situations. People are confusing predictable with realistic of the situation. Also they always say they can tell what's going to happen with the plot and how they are going to end up together, the whole point of a romance novel is that they end up together... just saying.

Now, I want to move on to the polar opposite: that romance books are completely unrealistic, that this doesn't happen to anyone in normal life. Again, you are reading fiction. If you dislike situations that arn't about to occur in real life then don't read fictional novels. These are romance novels and their target audiences are people who enjoy romance and love the utter impossibility and confidence that this type of love can exist... even if only in an authors imagination.

There are millions of types of books out there and just a moment ago (literally just a moment ago) my friend asked me what her favourite books were and I said Spellbound, (by Cara Lynn Shultz, REALLY good teenage romance book) and she said no, "that looks lame" I know for a fact that she loved that book, that we fangirled over that book for weeks... but she can't even post it on Facebook that she likes it because it's lame and everyone is posting "adult books."

Screw that for a joke, I strongly dislike those literary snobs who judge people on what novels they read, well at least they read! Unlike so many my age.....


So really got on a rant there, anyway I'll post more in defense of the fluffy romance later, have a nice week,
M xx

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Youtube Culture

I really got into youtube about a year and a half ago. I started with Jenna Marbles and then moved on to Zoella, and then to the rest of her friends affectionately named "The British Invasion."
At first I just watched the main channel beauty videos, but as these internet sensations rose to stardom their videos became less and less about what they started out about and more into the relationships and collabs with their friends.
Let me set this straight: I am not complaining.
I love these youtubers, they make me happy when I'm sad and they make my day so much lighter. However I feel that lately I've been relying on their "perfect lives" a bit too much. The viewers seem to forget that these people are human and that when you watch their daily vlogs that you are only seeing 10 MINUTES OF THEIR DAY.
That's ten minutes! that's nothing, I spend more than ten minutes in the shower and that is all you are seeing of their day. Yet during these vlogs you feel like you get to know them, they have conversations with you and you get to know parts of their personalities, and to you it can feel like you would be such good friends. There are probably five million other people who feel they would be best friends with the entire british invasion.
We see ten minutes of their day and feel like we know them so well, but if I were to walk up to them and say hello. They would have no idea I even exist.... doesn't that seem weird to you?
I've never been one to have serious celebrity crushes. It's just so weird that I feel like I know sooo much about them (in reality I don't) and that they don't have any idea who I am or what my life is like.
It feels weird that I can spend an entire day watching their lives and not doing anything with mine... it's kind of sad actually.
I realise for a lot of people that these videos are an escape, they are for me too. It's just that while they are fun and while they make you happy, people need to realise that they only show a very limited amount of themselves. They don't have videos where they bitch about other YouTubers, you don't see their faults.
It is not possible for a person to have NO FAULTS. There is not group of friends in the world where no one is annoyed by ANYTHING another person does.
So while YouTube does offer a utopian get-a-way I think it's important to realise that their lives are not our lives, and that the life you watch them have is basically them having a good time with friends who they love and friends who they play games with. Once you take away the fans and the videos and the fact that they all have amazingly white teeth. Then they are all just human.
And guess what?
So are you.

I do not own this image (as if that wasn't obvious)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Girl with a Pearl Earring

So today I want to write this blog entry in two parts, the first is a review of the book, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and the second on the movie they made of the book.

So part one:
When I was in year eight, my english teacher came up to me during a period called Wider Reading (basically a lesson spent getting books suggested to us and then choosing a book and reading for the rest of the lesson). My teacher approached me and took me to the senior fiction and pulled out a stack of books for me to read. One of them was Girl with a Pearl Earring, sadly I made the unfortunate decision to read the book Possession by A. S. Byatt first, not a great decision on my part as this book put me off all books of that nature. I gave up after about 300 pages on snail paced supposed romance. I then made an even worse by my choosing Wuthering Heights as my next book (one of the most depressing novels I have ever in my life attempted to read) and soon gave up after about 200 pages.

Sadly, I never decided to read Girl with a Pearl Earring that year, but perhaps it was a good thing because I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it the same way if I had read when I was fourteen.

When I picked up this book again from my school library I was looking for something "literary," I felt like something that would challenge me a little, but still something I would enjoy. So I chose that book, and surprising I really enjoyed it.

The story line was gentle, it was nice book, yet it was full of anticipation. Griet, the main character was very interesting and I found myself staring at the painting on the front cover and wondering if I could see the Griet, whose mind I had read in her eyes. I found that I could, this book gave me a new appreciation for a painting which I had always liked, but now find that I love.

The relationship between her and Vermeer was tenuous and filled with fleeting glances. There's a lot of forbidden love but mixed into a real life situation which adds finality to the book. I can't explain my love for this book without giving away a heap of spoilers, but it's safe to say that this is one of my favourites.

Part two:
The movie... *sigh,* I wasn't expecting much when I started this movie and after watching the trailer I had set my expectations even lower, with hope that it would somewhat impress me. But when you skip the first half of the book and cut out major characters? that's where I draw the line.

This movie wanted so badly to get to the "real" plot line that it skipped over the build up. It didn't give any insight into Griet's personality and if you had never read the book, you wouldn't understand the way she thinks at all. The plot line focused so much on the romance, that it brought the movie down.

I had wondered how they were going to make a movie of a book where the main character is so internalised and they did not do it well. As much as I loved Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers I feel like she didn't quite pull off the depth this character had, the depth the painting has. She lacked those emotions and values that are so integral to Griet and only focussed on how ladies at the time would have acted in regard to men, rather than how Griet acted.

The only highlight of the movie was Colin Firth as Vermeer, although I have to admit that I am biased when it comes to Colin Firth (be still my beating heart), but while he almost seemed too young for the role, he did seem to capture some of his character's sardonic nature and intense feelings.

Overall I wouldn't recommend the movie, especially if you have read the book, it only leads to disappointment and bafflement at the spoiled plot. Plus the skipped a significant part of the ending.

If you would like the Goodreads link to the book click here

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Work Experience and a Small Portion of My Growth as a Person

For most of my life I wanted to be a vet (except for those brief years as a very young child where my aim in life was to be a zoo keeper by day and rock star by night.) and when I say wanted to be a vet, I was serious; I had all my VCE subjects planned out by year five and what uni courses I was going to take and what my ATAR needed to be (99.2, whew, I aimed high.)  So it was kind of inconvenient when at the beginning of year nine, I finally admitted to myself that maybe I didn’t want to be a vet anymore.
You have no idea how much this decision annoyed me; I mean I had my entire life planned out. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and what my path was to get there in doing it. The most annoying aspect of all of it was that up until that moment I had never had to worry about my future (I strongly believed that 99.2 was highly achievable)and now I had no idea.

Naturally after that I went through a range of different options, some of which included: soldier, army doctor, army psychologist, medical researcher(I wanted to cure cancer for a while there), doctor, national geographic journalist, author, writer, CEO of a large corporation, Prime Minister of Australia, engineer mechanic.

Then I looked back on all these things I wanted to be and I realised that they all (all the ones I really considered anyway) involved helping people. And that, my friends, was my Eureka* moment. That was the moment when I realised that what I wanted to do was help things, whether it be people or animals, or the environment. All I wanted was to have someone somewhere have a better life because of something I did or something that I helped to do. Then came a new list of things I wanted to do, I wanted to be teacher in the Taliban, UN lobbyist, Aid worker, Humanitarian, reporter on topics surround third world countries, I wanted to fight alongside Malala for the right to an education everywhere and for everyone.
 So, this was great, I knew what I wanted to do, I was so passionate about it(still am) and yet… I had no idea how to get there. There are, surprisingly, no courses in universities called “helping people,” trust me I know.

So then flash forward to the first information session about work experience and at first I was excited, I would go to charity and I would ask questions and I would find out exactly what I needed to do. Until I started researching and quickly discovered that their didn’t seem to be a single charity organisation in Australia that offered work experience. This was, to say the least, a disappointment. All that hope, all those emotions came crashing back down and I started my spiral:
Then it happened, my mum’s best friend, or my godmother was over at my house and talking about how her, very lovely niece, was doing an internship at World Vision Australia, and BOOM I was in… well it didn't exactly happen that fast there was some texts, paper work and emails that had to be sorted but for the sake of this story I’m going to edit those bits out.

So, skip ahead a few months and DOUBLE BOOM first day of work experience, to say I was excited was an understatement. My first day of work experience was actually the last day of a national tour that my world vision contact/supervisor/person-who-got-me-the-position-and-who-I-was-going-to-stalk-for-a-week, ( I know what you’re thinking, that was waaaay too many hyphens, let’s just call her Jas)was running.
 It was a training session for VGenners on child labour, and the #FreeTo campaign. I suggest you look it up, it’s pretty awesome. Anyway it was pretty intense and my brain almost went into information overload mode, long story short did you know that there are 168 million child labourers in the world, and that the G20 conference can do something to change that? I didn't. And our ability to influence and make real change in the world kind of blew my mind, late I would realise that many things would blow my mind that week.)

The second day was my first day in the office and Jas was away, (she’d just been traveling and working for ages, I think she deserved a break) so I was assigned to Ian, a funny guy that seems to know the entire office by name (something I admire, since I forget people’s names as soon as they introduce themselves to me, thank god all the desks at World Vision have the person’s name on them!) then after going to Devotions, which Ian ran and was really good. I met a bunch of really welcoming people and shook a lot of hands and then was whisked away on tour of the office. Which after being shown around I realised that not getting lost was futile. So I stalked Ian for the day, well I’m sure there’s a better word for it then that but I can’t think of it. I learned a lot and the mind blow moment came when Ian was sorting through some paper work and he said it was so a Refugee in Malaysia could come to Australia… that what he was doing was affecting real people in real situations.

Day three and Jas was back so I spent the morning typing out post-it-notes, before being locked out of my computer and unable to get back in since Jas was at a meeting. So after about ten minutes of waiting and sitting trying to look busy, I was back to stalking Ian and it was pretty fun trying to convince the entire of World Vision to go to the movies with free movie vouchers that expired that night, hence my friends and I went to see Jersey Boys (surprisingly good if you're interested).

Work the next day was good, I typed out posters for the morning on an iPad and by the last poster I could type without looking. A major achievement in life I think, that afternoon I went off to a school to do a sim, short for simulation. Where Soreti and Kate and I were going to pretend to be slave owners and force a year eight class to make match boxes... they had no idea and were terrified... it was fantastic.

So flash forward to now, it's my last day at World Vision and I've had the best time and I kind of don't want to leave. There's something in the atmosphere here, and everyone cares so much and is so passionate and it's so refreshing to be away from a classroom full of people who shrug their shoulders and say "Oh well, that's sad. But what can you do?" 

Well, now I know the answer, there's a whole hell of a lot you can do, join the 40 Hour Famine, find a local VGen group. We can do so much and we can make a difference, and dispite what people think here is SO much behind the scenes work that goes on. There are thousands of people everyday working against injustice and even though I've just had a small taste of what it's like I think I'm going to keep coming back for seconds... and thirds... and fourths... and fifths... and just more. 

*Reference to John Green’s fabulous novel An Abundance of Katherines, just for those of you who might have picked up on it, I will write a review of it and add it to my blog at a later date.