16 Dec 2015

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

We're halfway through December which means Christmas Day is less than 10 days away! I've still not made any progress on figuring out how this year went so fast. But anyway, it wouldn't be right if I let the holiday season pass without making a post about it. Although it's not technically 'last minute' yet, we're nearing panic time when it comes to holiday gifts. If you're like me and like to give the people you care about something more personal that an iTunes gift card, hopefully this post will help you out if you still have presents to get.


1. Dream Team Jade Mountain gift from T2 - If the person you're buying for is a tea drinker, you can't go wrong with one of T2's gifts. There are so many different types of tea and beautiful teaware to choose from that you'll definitely leave the store feeling like you've been successful. 

2. Yankee Candles - Everyone who has even somewhat of an interest in candles probably has a Yankee candle. Arguably, you can never have enough. I recommend giving a seasonally appropriate candle so they can burn it right away. My favourite for autumn/winter is Macintosh Spice and my favourite for spring/summer is Vanilla Lime. And of course, there's always their holiday collection!

3. 2016 Monthly Wall Calendar: Inspire from Kikki K - I've been buying Kikki K's Inspire calendars for myself for several years and I think they make a wonderful gift. Calendars are incredibly useful, and this one provides little pieces of inspiring wisdom and positivity every month.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Illustrated Edition by JK Rowling & Illustrated by Jim Kay - Everyone has gone nuts over this edition of Harry Potter (including me). It's the perfect way to relive the story or give it to someone to experience it for the first time. And with Harry Potter being as loved as it is, I think it'll be hard to go wrong with this one.

5. Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford - I think we're all well aware of the adult colouring boom that was this year, and Johanna Basford is definitely one of the top illustrators out there. All of her books are great for sitting down and relaxing.

That's it from me today! I hope you've gathered some inspiration and that you're having a great holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

xx

30 Nov 2015

Monthly Playlist: November 2015 & Taking a Break?

It's the last day of November, a month that has gone much too fast but also not fast enough because I can't wait to get excited for Christmas. This month has been quite uneventful in terms of music in my life, but I've still tried my best to put together a little something that's worth listening to. It's my usual mix of Western music and K-Pop. I've really been loving f(x)'s album '4 Walls', so there's a couple of songs off that on here, and I highly recommend you check out the whole thing! Enjoy and keep reading for a little housekeeping (or rather, blogkeeping) below.


1. Cliff's Edge - Hayley Kiyoko // 2. Something In The Way You Move - Ellie Goulding // 3.Take It To Reality (feat. SAFIA) - Alison Wonderland // 4. Kamikaze -  // 5. 4 Walls - f(x) // 6. Lightsaber - EXO  // 7. Papi - f(x) // 8. 으르렁 Growl (Stage Version) [Studio Version] - EXO


Now that you have something nice to listen to, on to the more serious stuff. I've decided to take a little break from blogging for just a little while. Shock-horror, I know. Finals have unfortunately seemed to suck all the creativity from my body (as they usually do) and, as you might have noticed, I've not come up with any great ideas or been really motivated to write recently. I'll definitely still be around to post little tidbits (for example, I fully intend on posting my December favourites playlist and a 2015 one as well), but I've decided to take the pressure off myself for a little bit longer until I get my inspiration back again, which hopefully won't take long!

So, I hope you've enjoyed this post, and I'll be back soon, I promise!!

xx

23 Nov 2015

Learning Languages!


YES! Uni is officially over for the year and I'm back from finals hell! I was definitely away for longer than I wanted to be, so I'm gonna ease myself back into it with a post that is incredibly relevant to both my recent finals experience and my life in general.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a Japanese major at university and have been studying it since I started high school. It's been almost eight whole years since then, so I think I know a thing or two about studying foreign languages, especially considering Japanese is one of the most difficult for native English speakers to learn. On top of this I've also started teaching myself Korean and have dabbled a little in French. I only know the alphabet and some basic words, but everyone needs to start from somewhere.

Language learning has slowly become something that I'm very passionate about and I believe that everyone should give learning a second language a shot. Here's why:

You learn more about other cultures!
One of the things you are bound to learn in your studies is that language and culture are interdependent. They both have a very strong influence over each other, so much so that you can't fully understand one without the other. This can stretch from simple words for things and concepts that you've not experienced before to entirely different forms of speech for specific contexts. Learning about cultures other than your own is never a bad thing, and I think that in a global society like ours it's becoming more and more important.

You learn more about your own language!
Learning a second language means your constantly comparing and contrasting it to your first. Learning Japanese has made me really aware of the rules of English that come so naturally to me, such as the subject-verb-object structure. You can become even more aware of the little things you never considered without even realising, which is bound to be helpful in some way!

You learn not to take things for granted!
You'll quite quickly come to understand that fluency is something that's extremely difficult to obtain. Knowing that understanding another language, let alone expressing your own ideas in one, is so hard allows you to be sympathetic to people who are also learning other languages. I know I've seen way too many people ridiculed for not being fluent in English when it's not their mother tongue, and I think everyone should make an effort to understand that not being fluent in a specific language is not an indication of intelligence or ability. It's easier to become more understanding when you've had first hand experience.

You can communicate with more people and understand more things!
This goes without saying and has obvious benefits, but it's also really rewarding! Every time I watch or read something in Japanese and understand it I feel proud of my efforts and it definitely feels worth it. For this reason, I'd recommend choosing the language of a culture that you're interested in, because then it becomes a lot easier to continue putting in hard work and reaping the rewards.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope you'll consider taking a prod at another language if you haven't already! 

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time.

xx

2 Nov 2015

Monthly Playlist: October 2015

Hello and welcome to the typical mess that is my taste in music! I'm currently struggling through the stress of final uni assignments and exams, so I've not really had time to put much together or listen to a lot of new music. BUT I should be back to having free time soon! Meanwhile, enjoy this xx

1. On My Mind - Ellie Goulding // 2. The Trouble With Us - Marcus Marr & Chet Faker // 3. Can't Sleep Love - Pentatonix // 4. Same Old Love - Selena Gomez // 5. Levels - Nick Jonas // 6. Machine - EXO-K  // 7. Time Slip - Red Velvet // 8. Roll Deep (feat. Jung Il Hoon) - HyunA // 9. Transformer - EXO


xx

23 Oct 2015

Favourites Friday #7

I've not done a Favourites Friday in over two months (sorry), which has basically given me enough time to have a complete taste refresh, let alone for a few new things to slip their way onto my list. My favourites posts seem to be pretty big hits, so I thought I'd compile another while whilst having a little break from crazy assessment time at uni. Enjoy!


1 - EXO's discography (Korean versions, clockwise from top left): Mama, Overdose, XOXO (Repackage) and Love Me Right - Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm pretty into K-Pop and that doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon. I'd been listening to some of the "hits" of the genre for a few years, but I'd never delved into one particular groups discography... until EXO.  A lot of their songs are upbeat and exciting, plus their choreography is great and they all seem like very sweet and talented guys. Very easy to love.

2 - OPI Nail Lacquer in Big Apple Red - With summer approaching (faster than I'd like), it's also time to start painting my toenails again. I love nothing more than a good, classic red pedicure. It's classy and it makes me feel like my feet aren't weird and gross. I need an endless supply of red nail polish, I'm telling you.

3 - The Amazing Book Is Not On Fire by Dan Howell & Phil Lester - I've not really read any books by YouTubers before this one, but I had to make an exception for Dan and Phil. And I'm glad I did, because I loved it. They're not trying to tell their entire life stories or make a profound statement, they're simply sharing the things that they like and think that their readers will like too. It made me laugh out loud multiple times, and anything that does that earns a permanent place in my heart.

4 - Swing Shift Dress in Red Petals from Jay Jays - I wasn't expecting much when I walked into my local Jay Jays store, but oh boy did this beauty catch my eye. The shape is flattering, it has a floral print, and it's black, white and red - all of my favourite things. Plus it's super light, making it perfect for the unbearable heat of summer.

5 - Casmir Sandals in Nude Scratched from Rubi Shoes - Yes, for once I branched out and bought shoes that aren't black. These sandals have such a simple design with gold hardware and I knew that I had to own them from the second I saw them. I have a feeling I'll be wearing them around a lot. Unfortunately, they're no longer available on the website, but maybe if you cross your fingers...

6 - EXO Next Door - This one obviously fits in with my first favourite, but you don't have to like that one to enjoy this! EXO Next Door is a short Korean drama starring none other than the boys from EXO themselves, and is about a single, somewhat awkward girl that discovers that they've moved in next door to her. You don't have to love EXO, K-Pop, or K-Dramas to like this. It's so sweet and funny and pleasantly surprising. Plus the episodes are really short, so chances are you'll fly through it and then wish there was more.

That's it for another Friday! I hope you liked this set of favourites and you'll check some of them out!

xx

17 Oct 2015

Essential Products for Hair Straightening


Having naturally very curly hair (and unfortunately having resented it for most of my life), I've straightened my hair thousands of times. Doing so is really not great for your locks. It makes them dry and dead if you don't make the necessary preparations, which I learnt the hard way.

Over time, I've managed to restore my hair to a reasonable state. Here are some of the things I use to keep my hair nice while maintaining my apparent addiction to heat styling.

Shampoo and conditioner for damaged hair - Using a specific type of shampoo/conditioner that was tailored to my needs significantly improved my hair. The effects gradually stop having such a strong effect as your strands get used to it, but even then I still use it to maintain my hair and prevent any more damage. If your hair is still in need of some repair, switch up the brand for a bit or try out a hair mask. I use: Toni & Guy Cleanse Shampoo and Nourish Conditioner for Damaged Hair

Leave-in conditioner - This serves a similar purpose to using regular conditioner, but I find having something else to help and protect my hair while it's dry is really helpful. A lot of leave-in conditioners are also marketed to help avoid and mend split ends, which is really helpful as straightening makes them appear a lot faster and more frequently. You also only need a really small amount, so one bottle lasts you ages! I use: Bed Head by TIGI Ego Boost Split End Mender/Leave-In Conditioner

Heat defence spray - Heat defence is a MUST! It's the most important step in preventing gross, dry hair when straightening. I spritz some through my hair before blowdrying and then again before straightening. If you don't use anything else on this list, make sure to at least pick up some of this stuff! I use: Lee Stafford ArganOil Miracle Heat Defence Spray

Dry shampoo - This is probably the least essential item for hair straightening specifically, but I still rely on it pretty heavily. I the oiliness of my hair is a lot more noticeable and comes about faster when it's straightened. Instead of finding the time and effort to wash my hair more frequently, I use dry shampoo to make it last for just a day longer. It can also help with volume, as my straightened hair gets a lot flatter than my curly hair as well. I use: Batiste Dry Shampoo in Blush

I hope that this post has been helpful to some of you! I'm unfortunately staring finals in the face over the next few weeks, so posting may become a little less frequent, but they'll more than likely come and go faster than I'm prepared for as it is. Till next time!

xx

9 Oct 2015

Fantastic Female YouTubers

I've been a pretty regular fan of YouTubers for quite a few years now. Throughout that time, I've noticed that the majority of popular personalities on YouTube have been male, and I've made an effort to watch and support more female content creators. There are some truly amazing women on YouTube that all deserve more recognition. If you're looking for a place to start, I've made a little list of just four lovely ladies whose videos I've been watching for some time. While none of them are particularly 'underground' so to speak, they're all wonderful and create some awesome things. Enjoy!

Sanne / booksandquills


Sanne is a booktuber (who also makes a variety of other videos) who hails from the Netherlands and now resides in London. I've been watching her videos for years (my need for books will never be fully satisfied, it seems) and I truly trust her recommendations. I always enjoy watching her book hauls and getting ideas of what to read next. I also really enjoyed the above video about being a literary translator. As someone who speaks more than one language, it really interested me and made me consider all the challenges a translator has to go through. If you're a book person and haven't checked out Sanne's channel, then I highly recommend you do it. Right now.

Lex / tyrannosauruslexxx


Lex is another YouTuber I've been watching for quite a while. She has a great sense of humour and strikes me as a woman who isn't afraid to talk about and stand up for the things she believes in, something that I think is truly admirable. I was extremely happy when she made her video "Let's Talk PERIODS"(with Sanne, no less), because I think it's something that should be talked more about. Thank you, Lex, for popping that mysterious bubble surrounding periods and just discussing it anyway, as we should all be doing.

Ingrid / TheGridMonster


You probably know Ingrid from her main channel (which is lovely), but I think her second channel deserves more attention. She does a series called #5MFU (5 Minutes For Us) where she talks about a particular topic for around 5 minutes. It's a goldmine. She's covered sex ed, periods, and even poop. I thought Ingrid was pretty inspiring in the first place, but my discovery of this channel has just cemented how intelligent and wonderful she is.

Lucy / meowitslucy


Lucy's most frequent uploads are her "168 Hours" videos, in which she captures a week of her life - the ups and downs, the ordinary and exciting. All of her videos are beautifully shot and edited, and watching them makes me yearn for picnics in parks and meet-ups with friends. All of her other videos are also amazing and informative, and she also has a lovely voice. Perfect for when you're feeling inspired and getting the creative juices flowing.

I hope you check out the wonderful ladies I've talked about here! Let me know if you liked them, and feel absolutely free to leave any of your favourite female YouTubers in the comments below!

xx

1 Oct 2015

Monthly Playlist: September 2015

I've had quite a strange and wonderful musical month. I managed to get myself more enthusiastic about K-Pop that I already was (which was completely unnecessary, but we can't go back now). I think a lot of people view K-Pop as something foreign that can be really strange sometimes (that last point is definitely true), but if you actually take time to appreciate it, it can be pretty amazing. The videos are colourful and aesthetically pleasing, the choreography is excellent, and, most importantly, the songs are catchy enough to put on repeat for days on end and dance alone in your bedroom. Not understanding the lyrics to something shouldn't be a drawback. And while I know that K-Pop is manufactured and isn't the most highly regarded genre of music, it's nice to just enjoy something for the sake of having fun.

So, if you've not listened to any K-Pop before, the songs on this mix are pretty great ones. I always put them at the end of my mixes for those that aren't interested, but try sticking around for the ride. Maybe you'll like it!


1. Haunting - Halsey // 2. BITE - Troye Sivan // 3. Lies - CHVRCHES // 4. Hold Me Down - Halsey // 5. 90s Music - Kimbra // 6. Lion Heart - Girls' Generation  // 7. Holler - Girls' Generation TTS // 8. Heart Attack - AOA // 9. Dumb Dumb - Red Velvet // 10. Love Me Right - EXO


xx

27 Sep 2015

A Few Favourite Fonts

I love a good well-made design of any sort, and when it comes to type, fonts can make or break the finished product. As someone who's spent a bit of time over the years making cards, posters and the like and has so far failed to make a decent font of her own, I've experimented with a load of different ones, and I've finally curated a nice little list of favourites that I keep coming back to. You might even recognise some of them from my previous posts. The links to all these fonts are below. I hope they please some of you type lovers out there.


Always in My Heart // Code Light // Fancy Me // Eyes Wide Open // Honey Script // Mayonaise

I hope you liked this little collection. If you have any favourite fonts that you've found, be sure to leave them in the comments! You can never have too many.

xx

21 Sep 2015

Thought for Nought: Online Identities

Finding your own identity is a somewhat strange and unique process. There's a lot of mistakes, a lot of try-before-you-buy type experiences, and a lot of awkward, cringe-worthy memories. We all go through it: the process of piecing ourselves together. It's like an epic quest, setting out to search for previously undiscovered segments of ourselves that could be hidden anywhere. It's a perpetual journey. There are an infinite amount of pieces, but it gets easier. You lay out the foundations and build the walls until it comes to picking out window-dressing and little pieces for decoration, building a comfortable home for your soul to live in. You have the freedom to change it, too. To make renovations, tear down sections and erect new ones.

With all this work in building our identities and finally, after so many turbulent years, becoming comfortable with who we are, you'd think that we should have no problem displaying them. Of course there's going to be dark attics and dank basements, things that no one, not even you, really wants to see. But as for the rest of it, the places you are happy to inhabit inside your mind, there should be no shame in them, right? My experiences, and I'm sure many others', have told me otherwise.

Turns out there's a marked difference between being happy with yourself and being happy displaying yourself. We constantly make representations of ourselves that change in different contexts. Who we are with our grandparents is different to how we act around our closest friends. And I find that the same rule applies to our identities online, possibly even more strictly.

The Internet is filled with wonderful people, YouTubers and bloggers and artists and writers alike. They're all complex human beings, just like you, sitting in front of a computer, dealing with the hum-drum of everyday life. They all like a plethora of things, have innumerable interests and talents. So why do so many of us feel like we're stuck with just the one section of ourselves?

Society loves genres - categories that we can put things into and tie them up all neat and tidy. But people don't fit into genres. You can't take someone and pin them down to a precise description. You can never know everything there is to know about a person. They are vaster than oceans. The same goes for how we represent ourselves online. Besides blogs and channels that are specifically devoted to one particular topic, there are a lot of cases where people use the Internet as a platform to just be themselves. I like to think that this is what I use this blog for. And yet there is a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying "Lauren, you don't really write this kind of thing on your blog. It doesn't really fit. Maybe you should put it somewhere else."

Well, little voice, I'm not going to. I enjoy writing. It's a little part of me. And just because it doesn't quite mould with whatever this image of myself is that I've created here doesn't mean I shouldn't express it. Both genres and people are subject to change, after all. 

I say, push the boundaries. Raise your glasses to beauty gurus that share their love for video games, book bloggers that are passionate about food and sketch comedians that love a good rant. Just for one day, don't be scared of not getting views because you've not posted your typical kind of content, or dividing people with something new. Take a little time to make something that you really, truly love, and share it. Make yourself happy. It's much better than trying to shut yourself in a box.

*

Yes, you've probably noticed that this is part of a new series. I've been thinking about posting a different kind of writing for a while, and what better way to start off than by writing about just that. I hope to be a writer of some kind in the future, so why would I not do it?

Thought for Nought is going to be a series of informal and possibly funny babble about topics that I find interesting, and hopefully you will too. See you next time!

xx

15 Sep 2015

Japan Flashback! Part 5: Gion Corner, Instant Ramen and Going Home

Hello and welcome to the fifth and final part of my Japan Flashback! (Sad, I know). If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here:

1234

Day 9 (Evening): Gion Corner & Train Drama

After a lot of walking and temple-visiting, we finished off our day in Kyoto by going to Gion Corner - a popular theatre that puts on performances of things like traditional flower arranging, puppetry, tea ceremonies, dance and comedy. It was a lovely way to end a long day, finally getting to see some of the things I'd read about in action.


Unfortunately though, it wasn't quite the end of the day. Japanese trains are renowned for their punctuality, but sometimes, accidents happen. The train that we were supposed to be taking back to Osaka was cancelled and we had to brave the crowds of rushing business people. We spent almost an hour on the very quiet subway instead, which ended up being quite peaceful. It wasn't an altogether pleasant series of events, but it turned out to be a nice memory.

Day 10: Instant Ramen Museum & Saying Goodbye

Our final day in Japan was finally upon us, and so too was the highly anticipated trip to The Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda. Leave it to Japan to build a whole museum about cup noodles.


It wasn't just a exhibition on the history of ramen and how it's made and packaged. We also got to make our own cup noodle to take home and save for later. We were of course limited by what we would be allowed to take through customs, but it was fun to design our cups and see them filled and sealed. And they were a great thing to have on hand after arriving back home completely exhausted.

We found some lunch, made our way back to the hotel to collect our luggage, and were off on the express train to Kansai International Airport. I was so tired that I didn't even notice that the whole thing is built on its own artificial island.


While we were waiting, I did one last exciting thing - had my first Starbucks experience. Yes, 17-year-old me had never been to Starbucks. 17-year-old me didn't even like coffee (oh, how things have changed). I ended up getting a Double Choc Chip Mocha, which I'm fairly sure we've not had in Australia, and it was pretty damn good. I also probably definitely needed the caffeine.

So, finally, after many hours on planes and not much sleep, we made it back into Sydney. I slept for 16 straight hours once I got home. I'm not exaggerating.

Japan was such a great experience and I miss it all the time. It was my first time being immersed in another country's culture, and I think that's a beautiful feeling. I'm definitely going back again sometime, especially now that my Japanese has improved by a lot.

I hope you enjoyed my little series! I'll hopefully be able to do more travel posts at some point in the future. Feel free to share your favourite place I went, or some of the places you've been in the comments! 

xx

9 Sep 2015

Wishlist Wednesday: Spring Is Coming!

Writing out and posting wish-lists is a bit of a strange thing to me because I constantly try to be content with what I already have in life. But on the other hand, I love looking though other people's wish-lists, favourites and hauls. I guess I really am a sucker for nice things. So, think of this less as a "list of things that I really want desperately", and more of a "list of things that I don't happen to own but think are great and want to share with you (and also wouldn't mind owning at some point in the future)". I would've run with that, but "Wishlist Wednesday" is a bit more to the point.

In the southern hemisphere, it's starting to warm up. The bugs are coming out, the sun is starting to shine, and the hay fever has started to annoy. Hay fever and insects aside, I love spring (as I'm sure I've said before). It's the time of year when I love wearing swishy skirts and tell myself to embrace actually wearing light colours instead of just admiring them. Spring is of course also great for reading in the sun, and it's slightly more acceptable to parade around in a flower crown.

Without further ado, below is a collection of things that I think are lovely, and also happen to be very bright and spring-themed.



I hope you liked these few little things and that you're now excited for spring! And if you don't live on the southern part of the globe and are preparing for autumn instead, I'm sorry. But at least your holidays are seasonally appropriate.

See you next time, when I'll probably be doing Tutorial Tuesdays or something because I apparently can't let day-of-the-week series go.

xx

6 Sep 2015

How To Be More Organised



Something that I take pride in is how organised I am. I can count on one hand all the times I've forgotten to take something to uni, not been up to date on readings or lectures or not known what was expected of me. Organisation does take effort - you can't just will planners and lists into existence (not yet, anyway). I recently sat down and made a note of my organisational habits that I think help me the most so that they can hopefully help you out, too!

Make time to plan - One of the things that I do is sit down at the start of each semester of uni and write down everything I will need to do over the following few months. This includes making a list of all my readings in a place I can easily find it, noting down all the dates of my assessments and making folders for all my resources for each unit. This can be a tedious and time consuming process, but I know that it will help me further down the line, so taking some time to get it out of the way is definitely worth it. If you're not a uni student, you can do a similar thing at the beginning of the school term, or even at the beginning of every month, if you so desire.

Keep your calendar up to date - I make regular use of the calendar on my Mac because it's so easy to scroll through and you can put any number of events on any given day. As I said above, I put all my assessment due dates and times in my calendar at the start of semester, but new things inevitably crop up after doing this. Make an effort to add in anything new as soon as you can after finding out about it, so it's still fresh in your memory - whether it be a new piece of work or a social event. That way, flipping forward a few weeks should give you a realistic idea about your workload and how to go about getting things done and when.

Make constant to-do lists - I keep two different checklists running all the time (digitally, so I never run out of paper). One of them contains all the upcoming things I have to get done, while the other serves as a daily list. I jot down things as simple as washing my hair, just so I know I've not missed out on anything and I have an idea of how much I have to do that day. I even include things like the book I'm reading or show I'm watching, which sounds a little crazy, but it serves as a reminder to take some time out and do the things that I like.

Try a day planner - Whenever my life gets a little messy and stressful, I take to writing out daily planners. The night before, I write out the times of the day and the things I want to get done, allocating blocks of time to each thing as I go. You don't have to include everything, but I find that pinpointing a specific time to do something helps me to buckle down and start doing it. Sticking with daily planners can sometimes feel a bit strict and become stressful in themselves, so remember to just do what you feel comfortable with!

Be flexible - Sometimes you add too many things to your to-do list to get done in one day, or you feel too tired or ill to continue and you just want to go to bed. Don't be too hard on yourself when this does happen. That's just life! The longer you keep up the organisation, the less things you'll have left till the last minute, so pushing a few items into the next day shouldn't be an issue. Also remember to take some time out or reward yourself when you get through a big day. Being organised doesn't mean constantly being busy trying to shuffle things into order, it's mostly just about a clear state of mind and knowing you're on top of things.

I hope that you found these few tips helpful in some way. Feel free to let me know in the comments!

xx

1 Sep 2015

Monthly Playlist: August 2015

Happy September! Winter is basically over now (not that it ever even really started properly. Thanks Australia.), and it's the season of hay fever and the infamous Green Day meme. Despite the itchy noses and irritated eyes, I love spring. Blooming flowers and sunny days really lift my mood.

Musically, this past month I feel like I've gone back to my indie/alternative trends (it's a genre that I've been having a constant love affair with for many years), and I think I've put together a nice collection to phase out the cold months and get excited about life for spring.

If you caught my most recent Favourites Friday post, you'll already know that I've been loving iamamiwhoami and CHVRCHES, but a lot of new amazing things have already come out since then! FKA Twigs' third EP M3LL155X was finally released (I love all of the songs on it, by the way), and Halsey's debut album BADLANDS only just came out a couple of days ago, and I've already listened to it multiple times and fallen in love with it.

And, of course, there's a little bit of catchy K-Pop at the end of this mix, because I just can't help myself.

I hope you like this playlist! Stay tuned for more in the future!

1. Ripple - iamamiwhoami // 2. Bodyache - Purity Ring // 3. Gasoline - Halsey // 4. We Sink - CHVRCHES // 5. Tap Your Glass - iamamiwhoami // 6. Castle - Hasley // 7. Figure 8 - FKA Twigs // 8. Leave A Trace - CHVRCHES // 9. Tête-À-Tête - Walk the Moon // 10. Sapokanikan - Joanna Newsom // 11. 행복 Happiness - Red Velvet // 12. You Think - Girl's Generation

LISTEN ON 8TRACKS

LAST MONTH'S PLAYLIST

xx

25 Aug 2015

Japan Flashback! Part 4: Temple Visits in Kyoto

Welcome to the penultimate part of my Japan Flashback series! If you missed them, check out parts one, two and three!

Day 9: Temple Explorations and Lots of Walking

Although we were staying in Osaka, Kyoto was just a train ride away, so we went on a little day trip. Kyoto is the old capital of Japan and is famous for it's abundance of temples. Although we obviously didn't get to see very many of them, the ones we did visit were beautiful, and the weather was perfect, too.

Kinkakuji (金閣寺)

Kinkakuji, literally meaning "Temple of the Golden Pavilion" (you can see why) was our first stop after having some lunch at a particularly Western-style restaurant. The water was so still and the pavilion itself was one of the shiniest things I've ever seen. 


There was so much nature around, everything was surrounded by green trees and was very calm and quiet. We stopped at the gift shops on the way through, where I bought a pretty little fan (because it was awfully humid), and we got ice-cream as we were leaving.

Then we were back on another bus to our next stop.

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺)

Kiyomizu temple (or the "pure water temple") is located halfway up Otowa Mountain, so it was a pretty intense walk. The road on the way up is lined with shops the whole way, so while we were all out of breath by the time we got there, it wasn't as unpleasant as it could have been.

Obviously the advantage of being halfway up a mountain is that the view is absolutely incredible. You can see pretty much the whole of Kyoto from up there. The sun was starting to set as we arrived, which cast everything in a soft orange glow. I'm fairly sure it was the most beautiful thing I saw on the whole trip.


The temple was unfortunately under construction when we visited, but there was still plenty to do. The grounds are little like a bush-walk. The paths are all nestled into the trees with small sculptures and gardens dotted along the sides. We stayed late enough to watch the sunset, which is without a doubt the best sunset I've seen in my entire life to date.
-

And there we have it! Make sure to come back next time to catch the final part of my Japan adventures.

Hope you enjoyed!

xx

20 Aug 2015

Some Healthy Tips


Somewhere over the past few weeks, I've found the motivation to be healthier deep within me (and I mean deep). My appetite was a complete mess and I just felt a bit "bleugh" most of the time, and I got sick of it.

I've actually really enjoyed being healthier thus far. And when I say 'healthier' I don't mean just physically - mental health plays a huge role in our overall wellbeing and is just as important. If you're wondering how you can make some little, easy changes and ultimately feel better, check out the list below!

1. Don't buy what you don't want to eat: There is nothing worse than the temptation of a packet of choc chip cookies sitting in the pantry. You know you probably shouldn't eat them, but they're just so good. If you want to avoid certain foods that you know you have a major weakness for, make an effort to leave them on the supermarket shelves. It's a lot easier to go without something if you don't have immediate access to it.

2. Try to eat more naturally: One of the things that motivated me to start being healthier was thinking about how many artificial ingredients are in so many of the foods we eat. I'm not saying avoid them at all costs all the time, but there's a certain piece of mind that comes with eating natural things that you know were grown from mother earth. My recent decision to convert back to vegetarianism has really helped me in this, because it's given me twice the reason to stay away from a lot of processed foods.

3. Do some exercise...sometimes: I hate exercise. I really wish I didn't, and I can see why people like it, but it's never going to be something I look forward to. That being said, I still feel really satisfied and happy whenever I do a quick workout. Just stick to doing what you feel comfortable with. Something is better than nothing, and doing some yoga, while it's probably not as good as going hardcore at the gym, is better than just lying there.

4. Don't be hard on yourself: I'm a big supporter of setting yourself schedules and sticking to routines, but I've also had to teach myself to let things go. Sometimes you might have a sore ankle or a cough, and sometimes life just gets hectic and stressful. Make peace with the fact that life sometimes gets in the way. Let yourself have a break and recover instead of getting mad at yourself for not going for a run. Your overall wellbeing is the most important thing.

5. Allow yourself an occasional treat: Sweets and all those things that we love so much are made for special occasions, so when you have reason to, eat some cake! If you've had a really tough day, grab a chocolate bar! If you did really well on that assignment you worked really hard on, snack on some crisps! A healthy lifestyle shouldn't be something you begrudgingly stick to because you feel obligated. It shouldn't make you miserable. Let yourself have some fun every once in a while. A little slice of pie isn't going to bring the world crashing down.

I hope you found some inspiration while reading this (if that's what you were looking for)! Feel free to leave some of your own tips in the comments.

xx

14 Aug 2015

Favourites Friday #6

Yep, it's that time again. I make one of these favourites posts whenever I feel like I'm excited about enough things to do so: which can be every couple of weeks or every couple of months, depending on what life's been like. 

Semester recently started and uni has been picking up speed rather quickly, to the point I've already felt majorly stressed out two and a half weeks in (which is just a fantastic sign, isn't it?). It felt like the perfect time for me to find some time out and revisit some of the things that have made me happiest over the past few weeks and, of course, write them all down for you.

I hope you like it!


1 - Frankie Magazine issue 67: This absolutely beautiful issue came out about two weeks ago (so there's still plenty of time to pick up a copy, don't worry), and I had to take a moment after my first flick through. The cover art is gorgeous, the poster it comes with is all kinds of pastel wonderful, and it comes with one of two available art cards: the one that I got depicting a bespectacled lady holding a dog, which is just me all over. It's not only aesthetically pleasing as heck, but it holds up to its usual Frankie standard of great writing that will make you laugh and learn. What's not to love?

2 - Sunny days: Winter is still technically hanging around, but we've been having some slightly warmer weather recently. I'm always a sucker for winter, but every single year, without fail, I'm reminded how much I love early spring. I always feel happier and more motivated once the sun comes out. I wish the entire year could just be early spring.

3 - CHVRCHES' album 'The Bones of What You Believe': I've known of CHVRCHES for a while, but I'd never actually listened to them before a week or so ago (I genuinely have no idea why). This album is the perfect mix of upbeat and relaxing for it to be amazing at all times. If you've not listened to them before, please go and do it now. (Their new stuff is really good so far as well).

4 - Sephora Collection Classic Line 24HR Felt Eyeliner: Prior to buying this, I'd been using the same drying out liquid liner pen on and off for years, so arguably anything is gonna trump that. But this liner is an improvement on anything I've used before. The nib is quite sturdy so it's not going to drag all over your eye, and I've so far not even noticed a smudge after wearing it out all day. It took a bit for me to get used to using it, but now that I am, I don't think it's ever going to fail me.

5 - Strawberries: Bit of a random one, but since I've been starting to eat healthier, strawbs have been my constant companion. I crave fruit quite a lot, but I definitely crave strawberries the most. And their pretty much always available, so I'll probably be stocking up A LOT.

6 - iamamiwhoami's album 'Blue': Another electronic album, but this one is much more chill. It's also magical. I can't even describe the feeling of awe I felt when I first listened to it. Some songs have an FKA Twigs vibe, others feel slightly more like slow alternative pop (is that a thing? It is now), but all of them are brilliant and worth a listen.

That's all for this round. Let me know if you like any of these things, and feel free to tell me what you've been loving!

xx

7 Aug 2015

Fruity Phone Case Design + Free Wallpapers!

Today is finally the day that I share something that I've been keeping under my belt for a few weeks now: I've opened a RedBubble account!

I was looking around for a potential new phone case a couple of months ago, and I couldn't find the one that I had in mind. There were of course a lot of really beautiful cases that I would be happy to own, but sometimes I just get stuck on an idea. So, just as they say, sometimes the best way to do it is to do it yourself.

The concept I had in mind was on inspired by the Joanna Newsom song 'Peach, Plum, Pear'. With Joanna Newsom being as underground as she is (I feel like a complete prick typing that, but there is truth there), there wasn't really anything available. So I sat down with my watercolours and banged something out. With my scanner and the help of Photoshop, I worked it into a pattern.


I made some cute tablet, phone and desktop wallpapers (that you can download below) with it to experiment, and I really like how they turned out! I always think that if you keep going back to look at something you've made, you can be confident about doing a good job.


I decided on RedBubble for my designs because it's convenient (they make all the products themselves) and their items are really good quality. I have phone cases from RedBubble and they've never even so much as scratched, so you can be sure you're getting your money's worth. They also print works onto a bunch of other products like tote bags and notebooks if things like that take your fancy.

I really enjoyed the process of making these little things, and I'll surely be making more in the future, so keep checking back!

You can take a look at the phone case above here and download the wallpapers for free at these links:


xx

2 Aug 2015

Monthly Playlist: July 2015

July was a good month; I had a birthday, I spent a reasonable amount of time on trains, and I was on break from uni, so I got to chill out and find some new music (one of my favourite things).

One thing that features pretty heavily on this playlist is Walk the Moon's album Talking Is Hard, which I fell in love with this month. 'Down In The Dumps' and 'Avalanche' are probably my favourites, but I love and listen to all of them.

I've also reverted back to 8tracks (sorry Spotify, I still love you), because some of my absolute favourites of recent times haven't been on Spotify. I guess that's what you get for listening to Asian pop all the time.

I hope you enjoy this playlist, and feel free to leave some of the songs you've been loving recently in the comments!


1. Gimme Gimme Luv - Tomomi Itano // 2. In The Stars - Icona Pop // 3. PARTY - Girls' Generation // 4. Avalanche - Walk the Moon // 5. Shake It - SISTAR // 6. Galaxy Supernova - Girls' Generation // 7. Down In The Dumps - Walk the Moon // 8. Closer - Tegan and Sara // 9. Bad Habit - The Kooks // 10. Go Slow - Tei Shi // 11. River - Ibeyi

LISTEN ON 8TRACKS

LAST MONTH'S PLAYLIST

xx

28 Jul 2015

Japan Flashback! Part 3: Hiroshima

It's time to continue the recount of my adventures in Japan! If you missed the first parts, go and have a look at Part 1 and Part 2!

Day 6: Travelling & Okonomiyaki

Most of our sixth day was spent on a shinkansen (bullet train), which was such a welcome relief as I was still feeling ill and my ankles had started to swell from the excessive amount of walking we'd done. We bought eki-bens (station lunches) before we left, and we all had a pretty chill time. I actually managed to have a nap somewhere along the way. Either that or I just passed out, I'm not sure.

In Hiroshima we were actually staying in a proper hotel with proper beds and individual bathrooms, which were definitely luxuries we'd taken for granted prior to staying in the hostel in Tokyo. We also had a TV in the room, so after arriving and been given time to rest, we tried to make sense of some of the Japanese television. It ended up being quite funny to just make up our own stories as we watched.

As it got dark, we went for a walk to the shopping district and had an explore. We also went to one to the fabled photo-booths, the effects of which are as scary as you've heard.

To end the day, we were all instructed to find Okonomiyaki places for dinner as we were going to a class to learn how to cook it the next morning. Okonomiyaki is basically a savoury thin pancake piled with cabbage and other toppings and fried. They are literally the size of a dinner plate and are so filling that I only managed to finish half of one.

Day 7: Cooking and Miyajima (宮島)

The next morning I slept in a little (whoops, a comfy bed will do that to you), and didn't have time for breakfast. But if there was any day to skip it, it was this day, because our first item on the agenda was our Okonomiyaki cooking class.

It was quite fun to try getting your pancake as perfect as possible and watching everybody else's attempts around you at the same time. We all sat down to eat our creations when we were done, and despite not having eaten, I STILL couldn't finish it. Seriously if you ever embark on eating okonomiyaki, make sure you take enough mouths to feed.

Progress shot!

After our strange sort-of-brunch, we got on our bus to get the ferry to Miyajima (宮島). Miyajima (also known as Itsukushima) literally translates as 'shrine island', and it's absolutely beautiful. You've probably seen a stack of photos of it around the place (yes, it's the one with the floating gate), and I can say that if you've ever thought of visiting, it's well worth it.

The tide was out during our visit, but the seaweed-covered banks were still beautiful, and we actually got to walk out and under the shrine gate, so it was probably better that it wasn't flooded with water. The view of the hills surrounding us were also absolutely gorgeous.


It was another day of walking, but it felt worth it (despite the perpetual sinus headache I remember having at this point). We walked all around the shrines, temples, shores and little shops, ate ice-cream and hung out with some of the famous deer.

After getting back to the hotel, we (and by we I mostly mean my history teacher who was accompanying us) made the last minute decision to go to a nearby baseball game. Baseball is a pretty big deal in Japan, so it was an interesting atmosphere to be in. I'm not a big sports person, so this was just about the first sporting match I'd ever been to in my life. As far as firsts go, baseball with your friends isn't bad at all.

Day 8: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Leaving for Osaka

Day 8 was a day that I will remember for as long as I live because it was such a impacting experience. We caught the streetcar to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and the first thing we saw was the A-Bomb dome. They had signs posted around it giving historical background, which was a good place to start before actually entering the Peace Memorial Museum.

I took a few photos inside the museum, but I've decided not to share them here. The museum really drove home the devastation, suffering and loss of life that was experienced after the dropping of the bomb and many years afterward. I think it's really something you have to experience as a whole yourself.

Afterwards we walked around to the memorial itself and to where some school children were gathered on a visit, speaking and learning about the history of Hiroshima and it's bid for world peace. It was a strange thing, to see the destruction that was caused by humanity alongside the good-heartedness of these people that live with this history. It really makes you hope that we can progress and make the world a truly better place.


Straight after visiting the Peace Memorial Park, we were off on another shinkansen to Osaka!

Hiroshima is my personal favourite city that I visited in Japan. It has such a rich history and a sense of openness and calm that was refreshing after the overwhelming mass that was Tokyo. Visiting Miyajima also definitely played a part. I've made it a goal to return at some point in my life.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter of my adventures! See you next time!

xx

24 Jul 2015

Favourites Friday #5

Welcome to another edition of it being Friday and me liking things. A few things have been happening since I lasted posted one of these - semester ended which means I've been on holiday for a month, and during that month I also had a birthday. I've been pretty happy and relaxed and have felt like I've been able to sit down and enjoy things. So here are the things that I have been loving:


1. Long Knitted Cardigans - It's winter down under, and I'm not a fan of freezing, so I've been digging into my pile of knits. I recently bought a long black knitted cardi from Bonds (that's unfortunately sold out), which I love. The above one is from ASOS, which I would love to own as well.

2. Books Kinokuniya Sydney - I've raved and raved about this frickin' book store a thousand times, and I'm gonna do it again because I've been there quite a bit recently. Every time I go I just don't want to leave. I actually think I could just curl up in a corner and live there. They house all my literature, comic and Japanese book needs. I'll be loving it till I'm dead.

3. Gold studs, of all kinds - I'm not a big flashy earring person, so naturally I own 5000 pairs of studs, especially now that I have more than one piercing in each ear. Gold has slowly become my favourite metal over the years. I just think it looks classy (and goes really well with black, the colour I wear the most, naturally). I get most of my studs from Lovisa because they're cheap and have some really nice designs to mix and match, but the above pairs are from ASOS and are similar to ones that I own.

4 - Parks & Recreation - Okay, so here is the part where I admit that this is the first time I've watched Parks & Rec (late again, I know). Parks & Rec is part of the Holy Trinity of shows that Michael Schur has worked on (the other two being The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which are both incredible), so it's about time I saw it. It's so so funny, I've been laughing out loud a huge amount. I'm only up to the end of season 2, but I have a feeling that it won't take me long to finish the series.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - For those of you that don't know, Skyward Sword is a game for the Wii that was released in 2011. I've recently finished it for the second time, and I'm still in awe of how beautiful it is. I love the Zelda series, but Skyward Sword is such a magical experience. It's one of the longest games in the series, so it takes some dedication, but it's also pretty addictive and will probably have you playing it for 6 hours a day, even the second time around.

6. Sephora Pomegranate Face Mask - I went to Sephora for the first time the other week as it only opened in Sydey recently, and I've been quite impressed. I have really terrible skin that breaks out constantly, but the morning after I used this mask, it looked calmer and brighter. I was actually kind of happy with it for once. So naturally I went back and bought more. I need a whole stash.

7. Walk the Moon's album Talking Is Hard - I think we've all heard (and jammed hard to) 'Shut Up and Dance', and with good reason because it's a really good song. I went and listened to the whole album and was not disappointed - every other song on it is just as good, some are maybe even possibly better. It's great listening for almost every situation.

I hope you've enjoyed reading my favourites and check out some of the things I've mentioned!

Till next time,

xx

20 Jul 2015

I Turned Twenty!: Some Lessons Learned & Advice


I did it! I made it though my teenage years. Barely.

I struggled with the idea of entering my twenties for a while because that little '1' at the beginning of my age had become a part of who I was, and all of a sudden it was stripped from me. I guess I find that scary, watching things that are out of your control change. But, after some reflection (everyones favourite activity, I know), I've now come to peace with it.

I came to the conclusion that there's no real reason that I would want to cling to my teens. I knew from before I turned thirteen that this particular period of my life was going to be hard, and parts of it definitely were. I've dealt with anxiety, depression, bullying, high school, university, my first job, several crushes (failed ones, at that) and a broken heart to boot. But these things were difficult because they mattered. I guess that what my teenage years taught me is that shit happens, and all you can do is learn from it. So here is some of the wisdom that I have gained:

Treat others as you would want to be treated - Seems simple enough, but sometimes it gets away from you. I've had some moments that I am definitely not proud of, but I think that after making those mistakes, I've not repeated them since. Practice being empathetic. Sometimes it doesn't come naturally, but it's rewarding, trying to make the world a somewhat less negative place.

Do (some of) the things that scare you - Being someone with social anxiety disorder, a lot of things scare me. One of the biggest of these fears that I've had to face is starting university. New place, new people, new experiences that I wasn't sure how to approach. It was essentially my absolute nightmare. But within a couple of months of just getting down and dealing with it one step at a time, I really started enjoying it. Now I'm not saying go and try skydiving because you're scared of heights, but taking on the things that scare you feels really good. Always remember to be proud of yourself for even the tiniest steps forward. It'll make it easier to deal with things in the future.

You're not obligated to put up with other people's crap - Throughout high school (and also beforehand) I was the type of person that thought just because I was friends with someone I had to be there for them no matter what. A lot of the time, if your relationship with someone is healthy and they care about you as much as you care about them, it's the right thing to do. But there are some people who will take advantage of you and keep you around until you inconvenience them. It's sad, but it's true. You're not bound by some code or contract. If someone is making you feel bad or isn't treating you with the respect you deserve, you don't have to stick around. There are other things for you to spend your energy on.

It's okay to be a little 'late' - I'm definitely a 'late bloomer', a phrase that I do not agree with for a number of reasons but that I continue to use for convenience's sake. If you're not comfortable, there should be no reason for you to feel like you have to do something because everyone else is, whether that's having your first kiss, having your first drink, being in your first relationship or any of the other 'milestones' that have inexplicably been deemed important for us by some strange adolescent powers that be. You should just chill out and do things when you're ready, and screw anyone that says otherwise. You'll probably end up with less cringe-worthy memories in the end, too.

I guess my final piece of advice would be to not be afraid to make mistakes, but as someone who is definitely afraid to do just that, I don't feel like I can pass that on. You're going to make mistakes whether you're scared to or not - the just happen. But hopefully one day you'll look back, just as I am, and see all the things you learned from them. Mistakes aren't so bad in hindsight. 

For those of you that are still kicking through your teens, good luck to you. I hope you take something from this post. And to those of you that have emerged from those murky waters, I look forward to joining you in trying to figure out what the hell we're doing all over again.

(Pictures above are from birthday found on my Instagram).

xx

7 Jul 2015

Reading Wrap-Up: January-June 2015


Most of you probably know that I read quite a lot, whether it be for uni or leisure. I also like talking and reading about books; I've become somewhat addicted to book hauls and reviews over the years, because I apparently need more books to add to the hundreds I already own. As I'm quite interested in other people's reading wrap-ups, I thought I'd do one of my own. Maybe it'll become a regular thing.

Six months is quite a long time to leave between them, but I go through different periods of reading a lot because I feel quite relaxed, only reading things for uni, or not really reading that much at all because I'm stressed out and I don't feel like I have time. I think that only doing wrap-ups a couple of times during the year allows me to collect a decent amount of diverse books in my read pile, so these posts actually seem worthwhile.

In this wrap-up I've written a list of all the books I've read (including comics and the like) over the past six months, and my rating. I feel like I'm quite generous with ratings, and give them out based on what I'm into at the time and how much I enjoyed not only the story and writing, but the values of the books I read, considering I have to keep these in mind for class as well. Two and a half is the lowest score I've given, and I gave one five. I'd say that I wouldn't really recommend anything with three or lower, three and a half is "good", four is "great", four and a half is "amazing please read" and five is "as close to perfect as anything is gonna get".

I've also picked my top five favourite books from the list to write a little something about. Hopefully it'll inspire some of you to read them!

Books I've Read:

Dancing on Coral - Glenda Adams ★★½
Tirra Lirra by the River - Jessica Anderson ★★★
The Dreamers - Jack Davis (play) ★★★
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides ★★★★
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn ★★★½
Manhattan Dreaming - Anita Heiss ★★½
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling ★★★½
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil - Derek Landy ★★★★
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer - Derek Landy ★★★★
Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked - Derek Landy ★★★½
The Maleficent Seven - Derek Landy ★★★★
Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men - Derek Landy ★★★★
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light - Derek Landy ★★★★★
Skulduggery Pleasant: Armageddon Outta Here - Derek Landy ★★★★
How To Be A Woman - Caitlin Moran ★★★★½
Are Men Obsolete? The Munk Debate on Gender ★★½
Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins ★★★★
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath ★★★½
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick ★★★½
Coonardoo - Katharine Susannah Prichard ★★★
Insurgent - Veronica Roth ★★★★
Allegiant - Veronica Roth ★★★★
Tales from Outer Suburbia - Shaun Tan ★★★★½
Saga Vol. 1 - Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples ★★★★
Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick - Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky ★★★★
Sex Criminals Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop - Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky ★★★★
The Wicked + the Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act - Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson ★★★★½
美少女戦士セーラームーン完全版1- 武内直子 (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Complete Edition #1 - Naoko Takeuchi) ★★★½

My Top 5:

5 - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

The first thing I have to say about this book is "don't knock it till you've tried it". I know that quite a few bookish sorts have read and really enjoyed Stephanie Perkins' novels, but, as with all things aimed at a relatively young female audience, its probably not regarded super highly in all circles (unfortunately). Even I have a tiny voice in my head that says "are you seriously going to read this when you could be reading Jane Eyre/Emma/To Kill A Mockingbird/other highly acclaimed classic?" Yes. Yes I am.

I'm a pretty big fan of romantic mush, especially when it's well-written and believable and the characters are likeable. And that's exactly what this book is. It's just an easy read that will make you feel all fluffy inside. You may also pick up a few words in French as a bonus.

4 - The Wicked + the Divine Vol 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson

I've read more comics over the first part of this year than I have during the entirety of the rest of my life. I'm obviously not a comic expert, but I've dipped my toe, and I plan to keep on immersing myself. I'd heard of The Wicked + the Divine through Image Comics (who also publish Sex Criminals), and because it is written by the same wonderful people that put together 2013's Young Avengers, which I read and enjoyed.

It's about a group of gods that get sent to Earth as young people and are treated like celebrities, and the drama that follows. I've been getting a lot more into Greek mythology and such, so the idea of gods in a modern age is pretty damn appealing. McKelvie's art style is also really beautiful, so just flipping through it is a pleasant experience. I've gone out and bought the second volume now which I'm super excited to read!

3 - How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

This book is really a feminist staple. It should just be required reading, really. Moran covers so much in this book: sexism, puberty, motherhood, abortion and relationships to name a few, in such a funny yet genuine way. You'll feel like you've learnt a lot by the time you've finished. Give it to your family, your friends, strangers in a book store, just go nuts. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

2 - Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

This is one that I had to read for class, and it was the best book on the set list by far. Shaun Tan has quite the following, and it's so easy to understand why. Tales from Outer Suburbia is just that, a collection of short, illustrated stories set in the Australian suburbs. Some of Tan's illustrations are so beautiful and his stories so touching that I actually audibly gasped upon turning some of the pages.

It's by no means a very long or difficult read, but I devoured this in one sitting. There's no doubt I'm gonna purchase all of his other books at some point.

1 - Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy

Seven years after the first book was released, the SP series has been wrapped up. I only started reading it in 2013, but I've now read all the books twice (in the space of a year, no less), and this series has become hard for me to say goodbye to. BUT I can say with confidence that Derek Landy ended it in the most perfect way possible.

The series took a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes a happy ending seemed extremely unlikely (nigh on impossible), but he did it. I was so happy after finishing this book that I had to make an effort to calm myself down. It's one of the very few books I've read over my life that I can say I wouldn't change a thing about. So, if you've not yet read the Skulduggery Pleasant series, I urge you to do so. And now that I've finished it, maybe I'll stop blabbing on about it once every couple of months. Maybe.

*

So that was my reading wrap-up for the first half of 2015! I will of course keep reading throughout the rest of the year, and maybe I'll do another one of these. Let me know if you enjoyed it, and tell me your opinions on any of the books I've listed or your own favourite books so far this year!

xx