Moods, Rhythms, Prose…

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Again all of these images are collected over on my Pinterest and Tumblr and what not. I’ve also featured one of my favourite instagram accounts @gabimulder which you should for sure check out. As well as beautiful summer scenes, she shoots some wistful feminine portraits too. 

Embrace that messy head and scribble your art on life. Tongue tied you may be but I will give you the ink to honour that explosive gift for written truths. Cursive and print, legible and cluttered. Give me the letters, the words, that common language that wraps itself around my daily deeds and string them together anew with mastery and imagination. Give me all you have in your heart, write me your desires, your secrets, your emotions. Let me in, write me a window, write me a passage through those whirlwind thoughts. I’m here for you, for all that you can design and create for me. I’m hungry for your foreign lines and lofty scripts. Give me verse and prose, novels, just a simple phrase. Give me the puzzle, that is you, prettily packaged on pages of type. Give me the grit and the horror of the world that surrounds us, on the back of a supermarket receipt. A poem on a napkin, the corner tarnished, used to wipe up your brew. Give me the racing action dancing in your eyes through the coffee shop window. Give me myself remastered by your divulging fingers. That elevation of observation you master so well. Give me spills of soul and the jagged, dragged out pain of your denial. Give me rhyme or bland simplicity but just give and give and give, despite that self doubt. I’ll smooth out the crinkles in that bunched up wad of a masterpiece and frame it for the world to see. What you have? It matters. So stop where you have to and write with the tools you grab, be flighty and blunt and dismissive of all that gets in your way.

My little mini mix here is a compilation of some of my favourite lyrics. It’s a bit mish mashy and I just grabbed at the ones that popped into my head first so I definitely left out some of my favourites but nevertheless I hope you enjoy!

Light and Love, N x

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Recent Reads: A Court of Thorns and Roses

All of the sorry’s for not uploading for last week or so. I have been slacking I’ll admit and there are no real excuses except that the weather here has been a blessing and I’ve had my lazy arse on the beach every evening after work, soaking up every last beam, book in hand. And there, my friends, we have the second reason, the book series I just finished. It’s been a while since a series got that under my skin. I was wishing away my hours at work just to get back to its pages. And the culprit? A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Be warned there are a few little spoilers ahead!

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Picture taken from Pinterest – My crappy Kindle is not nearly as photogenic.

I’ll get right down to it and say that the first element that snared me in was the writing style. Before I began, I got the impression that it would be a light hearted, young adult paranormal romance book. And I don’t mean that in a negative light at all, many of my favourite books are of a similar genre and they’re the books I rely on most to really transport me somewhere. But whereas there were elements of the expected, this was different from the get go. Much like Stiefvater (Shiver trilogy, The Raven Cycle) never underestimates her audience and gives us “big” words and lengthy description, Maas too has catered to the hungry. There is no difficult language per say but the way she strings together sentences and plays out her narrative is pretty spectacular. There is intention behind it, a determination to paint the most spectacular of images in the readers head, to really give life to the characters, most importantly Feyre. And there lies my next compliment, the characters.

Always of most importance to me with any novel are darn good characters. Especially if it’s the character narrating the story. I have to like them, or at least find them intriguing to really get into the stories rhythm. Feyre is a gem, likeable but difficult. Ferocious and head strong and all the admirable things a young woman could be. Her development throughout the three books is so satisfying and honestly? I miss her. She has a courageous backstory, a self deprecating attitude that blossoms as she persists and takes on all of these insane challenges. She does everything for love, loyalty, despite the way others treat her. You fall in love with her in those opening pages as she faces the wood alone, crossbow in hand and takes on a wolf she suspects to be something even far more terrifying just to feed a family devoid of gratitude. It’s beautiful how Maas uses the imagery of painting to represent her story, her emotions. The dream that painting is, the subjects and moments in her life worth the time of creating a piece, how the darkness post Amarantha blocks her creativity but the calm and security of Velaris and the dreamers cracks open that defensiveness, the fear until she’s willing to think of painting again. You can’t help but want all of the happiness for Feyre which makes all those brutal tasks she takes on all the more tense.

The other characters we meet in her story are equally as tangible, all unique and carefully crafted. Identity is so solid in each new interaction and the villains are pretty gnarly too. I love it when I can really hate a villain, when they’re so terribly vile you really feel that animosity. Like they’ve threatened you personally. And Amanthara does that job very aptly. The dark beings like the Attor and Naga are equally as haunting in the brutal way Maas portrays them. I like darkness very much, nightmares and horror, and these books are saturated in it.

Then there are the unexpected villains, in the second book for example when one of the good guys from the first does a switch and goes from being a beloved hero to a bit of a sorry excuse for a man. There is room for much sympathy toward Tamlin but because Feyre is our conduit to this world, because you experience her so completely, it’s hard to have an unbiased view. Though Lucien’s involvement in Feyre’s depression always hurt me more, Tamlin was always a little bland in my view but Lucien was a cracker and I needed him to stay good.

But lets just take a hot (literally) minute to discuss Rhysand.  In his introduction in the first book he has that love hate situation about him. He’s charming and seductive and so opposite to Tamlin and even though he’s presented as a threat there’s something in his description that you can’t quite help feeling endeared by and then in the second book I found myself looking forward to his involvement. So cheeky and lighthearted whilst the rest of the plot was so dark and twisted. And then of course his whole backstory and his family back at Valeris. He’s that classic tortured soul, misunderstood by the world and harbouring a heart of gold. He’s divine.

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Settings are also so crucial throughout, so much imagery goes into casting a whole host of fantastic scene’s. The Night Court becomes something so magical when you’ve been led to believe its a nightmare. Cassian and Azriel and Mor and Amren are all such delights, my little dreamers. It’s always intriguing when the characters have a darkness and a light to them. When they’re a little bit screwy. It makes them relatable, despite the whole magic thing. And each of them already possess their own whole little worlds inside the mammoth plot that I would kill for a spin off series, prior to the current day, that goes into detail about how they all met and all of the shenanigans they got up to. That unit of characters really made the series for me.

I, of course, have to gush about all the magical stuff. I love me a deeply intricate fantasy world and Maas delivered in this series. Prythian is a beast of a world, a place that you yearn to hear more tales of, especially in the third book when you’re introduced to the other Courts and their High Lords. And all of the creatures that inhabit the place, not just Fae (always a favourite with me) but some original species too, like the Illyrians and Shadowsingers.

Finally I just wanted to give a massive shout out to the social issues Mass interweaves throughout the three books. Yes the whole class element is nifty but also the idea’s surrounding gender and sexuality. Though I wouldn’t personally categorise this series as Young adult, due to all those naughty scenes and the violence and torture and all that good stuff, it’s positive to know that younger readers are being exposed to all types of representation. Mor’s little confession to Feyre in the third novel, about her attraction to women and her lost love whom no one knows of, had my feels all in a tangle. I need another addition to the series if only to see Morrigan happy. And then, of course, all of the badass women, including Amarantha and especially lovely, brave, Feyre. The feminism is oozing out of the pages in this one.

I’m so sorry that this turned into one heck of a ramble. I really need to get a grip on how I want to present the whole book element to this page. But if you’re a fantasy fan, a lover of a well developed world and carefully constructed scenes, if you’re love of a novel is held quite detrimentally in the hands of its characters then this series will not disappoint. Go read it and if you have already lets gush about it together in the comments!

Oh, and be sure to follow me on Goodreads! – Check it for more specific reviews on each book.

Happy energy, always, N x

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Inspiration…

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I’m such a visual person and I’m constantly making these daft little moodboards, I lot of it has to do with me living on a backpackers budget and having limited space for clothes. I love style but have to do what I can with a handful of pieces. This is my way of indulging in that side of my interests. I’ve included a wee mixtape too. There are a lotta old tunes on it, I’m not much into listening to new releases right now but instead I’m taking comfort in the familiar tracks I can belt out in the shower. Maybe you’ll find a few gems in there anyways or maybe rediscover an old favourite.

P.s. The new MGMT album though. Still not fully convinced but there are some refreshing as hell, interesting, sounds in there. Not that I’d expect anything less. Opinions? Anything I should be listening too?

All the love, N x

Bookish Bits: John Green

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I simultaneously love and hate ‘Turtles all the Way Down” It’s a masterpiece built up of poetic language and intricately created characters. It’s also my new favourite Green book and thus I forgive him for the extended absence. For a minute there was a worry that his words wouldn’t imbed themselves quite so deeply as they had done during my lonely, self discovering, teen years but I needn’t have worried because the soul he’s so evidently woven through passages of unfaltering craftsmanship could appease the readership of any age. There is a philosophical tone throughout that wriggles in the brain as Green presents us with common Greeny themes: Growth, identity, relationships. There was no slow building, no half there chapters or quick fix sentences to bring down the tone of the words, every thing was carefully structured. And this is why I hate it.

I write often, I have to write often, it’s how I deal with a whole host of rubbish catapulting through my head. But nothing I write matches the brilliance of this. And it’s this book that hits my creative self the hardest because it’s always the characters that I give my devotion too. Building them through mood boards and poems, quotes and photographs and art and cities. Every person I write will have a whole background, pages in my scribble notebook dedicated to different elements that make up a personality. But Holmesy is just so solidly presented, such a relatable dialogue, that I lost myself so purely in the narrative of the novel.

‘”I was so good at being a kid, and so terrible at being whatever I was now.”‘ TATWD

Before, I’d marvelled at the mystery surrounding the women in Green’s books. My favourite novel of his has always been Paper Town’s and I’ve read everything he’s written. Margo was this marvellous enigma that I intended to be when I was fifteen and reading the book for the first time. It was when my longing for escape truly started. I re read it so often but never wore it out. I loved that ‘unfulfilling’ ending everyone got so hung up on, actually I thought it was perfect. A long road trip, a long journey and then? A mundane destination. Brilliant. In a lot of my earlier journal entries you can tell in the try hard quirk of my writing that I was trying to become this figure of unattainment and attraction, just like Alaska and Margo. I was encouraging myself to be poetry without really taking into consideration that the narrators were male teens, a perspective I was always going to be detached from. There was this brutality to the female figures, one that reminded me of the boys in The Virgin Suicides, peeping in on the lives of these girls and creating their identities for them based on the fragile grasp they held on their own identity, based on that awkward stage when puberty hits and everyone’s giving into that new urge, driven by the idea of sex and the new appeal of their once completely neutral peers.

“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” PT

So Turtles impressed me more in that the narrative is female. And not only female but a teen female suffering at the expense of her mental health. There were passages that broke me, where I had to step back and just breathe for a minute. As difficult as The Fault in Our Stars often became to read and as distraught as Looking for Alaska may have made me, the hurt reading this novel was on a new scale. When Holmesy battles with herself and asks to be free of her torment? That was troubling. If you’ve ever lived as the victim, at the hands of yourself, whatever category of illness that might be, then the punch is there in these raw lines. It’s such an important topic to explore, especially in young adult fiction.

“You just, like, hate yourself? You hate being yourself?”
“There’s no self to hate. It’s like, when I look into myself, there’s no actual me—just a bunch of thoughts and behaviors and circumstances. And a lot of them just don’t feel like they’re mine. They’re not things I want to think or do or whatever. And when I do look for the, like, Real Me, I never find it. It’s like those nesting dolls, you know? The ones that are hollow, and then when you open them up, there’s a smaller doll inside, and you keep opening hollow dolls until eventually you get to the smallest one, and it’s solid all the way through. But with me, I don’t think there is one that is solid. They just keep getting smaller.” TATWD

I’m not sure, however, what it says about Green, that all of his female characters seem to be suffering. Perhaps that’s the analyse-everything-in-the-book-and-tear-it-apart mentality I developed studying literature but it’s still on my mind writing this a week after finishing the book and I feel like maybe I might want to look into it a little more closely. Or maybe just the representation of females in young adult fiction in general.

Regardless there is power in the writing here, there is power in expressing the many faces of teen mental health, and there is power in taking six years to make sure you perfectly do your creative pursuits justice. Kudos to Green and his new modern classic, ay?

Let me know your own opinions on the book! I know I read heaps of differing perspectives on goodreads and I’m always keen to hear new opinions.

What should I read next?

All the love and blissful vibes, N x

 

Nifty Nooks: Welly Round up…

In the end I lived in Wellington for around four months and in those months, me being me, I obviously spent a considerable amount of my time, and my funds, in cafes. I just dig coffee…hard.

Anyways I thought I’d support some of my favourite little spaces in one post to give them the recognition they deserve. Wether it was a quick drop in and drink, a place to zone into my latest read or the just right vibe to get my creative juices flowing, here they are:

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Southern Cross:

Where: 39 Abel Smith St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011 (Just off of Cuba Street).

The Beans: Havana

The Usual: A large soy flat white with an extra shot of espresso (they come in a joyous hug mug, oh the comfort!) and Smoothie bowl.

Vibe: A long stay type venue. The inside and courtyard seating are pretty large so even on the most bustling of days a seat is pretty easy to nab and the staff never make you feel like you need to move on. There are also a few choice spots to shield your screen from prying eyes, sheltered booths and cute little garden corners, great for getting stuck into some writing.

Memory: Sitting in the courtyard on a vacant morning in a little beam of sunshine reading a book and sipping my coffee. It was so peaceful and I felt so calm.

 

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Innocent/No Strings:

Where: 161b Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

The Beans: When I left Welly they were just starting to serve filter coffee, using Havana Beans.

The Usual: The Cocoa juice (Number 5 maybe?) and a raw snickers bar (though the above picture avoids my addiction and features an equally as yummy acai bowl.

Vibe: A grab and go. There is a window bench but it’s such a small space that it makes sense to take away. The guys who work there are simply the friendliest people going though so you will probably stand around for a wee while chatting all things yummy. I used to grab my favourites on the way to a cafe that didn’t sell vegan friendly foods (usually Starbucks for the pretty speedy internet).

Memory: The day pictured. Sitting in Glover park in the sunshine and getting chatting with a couple slack lining guys from Belgium. It was one of those moments when I felt fully connected to life.

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Hangar:

Where: 119 Dixon St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

The Beans: Flight (praised be my favourite coffee!)

The Usual: A cold brew. They cold brew. Man I want one right now.

Vibe: Always packed on the time I visited, though that was usually on a weekend when everyone wanted brunch. The space is clean and modern, a stellar hipster retreat. They have an open kitchen, white walls, hanging bulbs and a wall dedicated to original skateboard deck designs. It’s quirky and invigorating, a great creative space.

Memory: A hungover brunch date with one of my closest friends Lee. Me being quiet because I’d damaged myself with too much rum but also feeling all of the love for the passionate ramblings of my company. It was one of those times when you really feel every single sip of your brew.

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Tuatua:

Where: Boatshed 4, Frank Kitts Park, Wellington 5032, New Zealand

Beans: I’m not 100% but I remember they were fair trade and organic

Regular: A soy chai (Not coffee *gasp*)

Vibe: Blissful. This was the first cafe I ventured to in Wellington. The staff were quirky artsy student types and I got chatting to them about veganism. Somehow we got onto the subject of my love for chai but inability to order a vegan friendly one anywhere, turns out their recipe was vegan and so it became a regular thing on those winter days when I was finding my feet. You can boat watch, people watch and journal. The whole energy around the little shed is continually inspiring. It’s one of the few places I’ve been able to sit without anything but my coffee and just be.

Memory: The first day in Wellington, feeling completely alone but honing in on that little seed of euphoria budding inside. I felt so completely alone that it went from fear to liberation right at one of those tables overlooking the water.

So there we have some of my fave nooks in Welly. There are a couple more I’d love to mention however, that I can’t seem to track down images for.

The best coffee I had in Wellington: Milk Crate, a soy flat white. I only went like three times toward the end of my stay because I’d always been to intimidated to go in but it was a mighty fine cup of joe each and every time.

Other nifty spots: Midnight Espresso, if only for the soul of Cuba Street it holds within its walls. Raglan Roast but the little shed one on Abel Smith St., not the new one on Dixon. And of course my beloved Fidel’s which has it’s own review Here.

All the love and blissful vibes, N x

Bookish Bits…

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‘The Alchemist” Paulo Coelho:

Has anyone not heard of this novel? A renowned author and a renowned tale, for good reason too. It’s a short work but a powerful one. When I reached out for recommendations a lot of friends pointed me in the direction of this (proper pretentious traveller folk, eh?). Almost all of them were surprised I’d never read it. It’s such a spiritually invigorated tale. Full of fictional glamour but with the real driving force of spiritual awakening. There are passages that are just plain beautiful and concepts like the ‘Soul of the World’ that evoke a giddiness in you as you read. The narrative is deeply philosophical and the central protagonist a very ‘every man’ type bro so it’s easy to see why so many people have resonated with a book that had the potential to be pretty heavy.

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“The Miniaturist”: Jessie Burton

It’s been a long time coming, this one and I’m happy I managed to pick it up and devour it before the TV adaptation made it’s way onto the screen. Historic Fiction was never a genre I’d favour but in a mad fluster at the airport I snagged it off the shelf. I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t eat or focus on anything outside of its pages. The world ensnared me so wonderfully that I got that detached sadness when I reached the end. There were tears and tantrums from me along the way and a rich love for the characters. Even the ones I felt didn’t deserve my fondness. What a beautiful little world she created and the character arc for Nelly such a ride. A solid ferocious woman.

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‘The Fortune Teller’ Gwendolyn Womack

This is more of a classic ‘me’ read. A dip into fantasy and adventure. The central protagonist is a bad ass, intellectual young woman, in a successful role as a curator for auctions. She has that classic mysterious past which unfolds itself throughout the storyline. First with the discovery of a letter, addressed to her, from the dead father of a client, a man she never met. Along with an ancient manuscript, hidden from other treasures in his room of ancient collectables, her past and present start to come into clarity. There’s a love story in there too but it’s a minimal booster to the major plot line. There’s mysticism and pure old fashioned storytelling to this. I’m almost finished Womack’s debut novel ‘The Memory Painter’ too so I’ll let ya’ll know how that one goes (Spoiler: I’m already in love).

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As always I would love to hear any recommendations so pop them in the comments. I’m really enjoying writing these book posts and hope you enjoy reading them! I’m back out in New Zealand now, finding my feet so travel posts will be on there way soon.

                                                In All the love, N x

 

Books for a youer you

Hello there lovely folks,

January has hit once more and with it come unmanageable, unrealistic resolutions and this overwhelming sense that we have to change or start anew. We don’t. You can quite easily go on as normal and ignore the whole cliche New year, New you vibe. In this post I’m focusing more on the self love, self realisation topic. I scoured by bookshelves for titles that made me feel empowered or had me reaching within and embracing or enhancing, the already pretty splendid, me. There are no diet guides here or cringe self help books but instead, three diverse types of literature, each with a little something to inspire you, as an individual, this year.

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Cut out the Bullsh*t

Sarah Knight ‘You do You’

It’s all in the title really. The perfect New Years read to give you a bit of a self worth reminder, especially after a season that’s all about giving and socailising. Knight has a bit of a reputation already and though this is the first of her books that I’ve read I’ve seen quotes and references to her earlier two publications all over social media. She’s a no fuss chick with wit and charm that never falters throughout the whole book. I’m not an avid reader of the self help variety so I went into this one a little apprehensive. But the content was honest and the author isn’t unrelatable and detached like a lot of others in the genre. The section on reclaiming the word selfish (pg. 62) was one I was particularly on board with. I read it a few times because it resonated so well:

‘Why spend time you don’t have, with people you don’t like, doing things you don’t want to do?’ Yes gal! ‘You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.’ That’s one hell of a New Years goal.

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Dig Your Wild Side

Nikita Gill ‘Wild Embers’

My next pick is a poetry book by one of my most beloved modern poets, Nikita Gill. The pieces in this collection are rich in feminine mystery, empowerment and self love. Her poems embrace myth and magic and the wild woman is ever-present throughout. Gill rewrites fairytales in which the female characters are not done justice, she gives them a purpose and personality more admirable to the modern woman. Like Knight, her work is everywhere online and I scouted her out after falling head over heels for one of her shorter works ‘Wolf and Woman’. I went from wanting to be a woman in a Gill poem to feeling like I was one by the end of the book. It’s the most fitting choice for a January read, to encourage your own faith in your gender and identity. All of the love for this one.

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Choose Your own Journey

Carolyne Faulkner ‘The Signs’

And last but not least is an astrology book. I know this is a bit of a controversial one but it’s a topic I’ve always found captivating. If the new year isn’t a time to dig deeper into your own identity and your own possibilities then when is, hey? ‘The Signs’ isn’t some mediocre horoscope book either. It’s a guide to reading deeper into your stars. In the first chapter it introduces you to your birth chart, breaking up each element so it’s easier to digest. All of the jargon and complexities come out when you start looking this deeply into astrology but Faulkner is ace at taking it back a step and making it easier to decipher and fun to dig into. She isn’t a rigid believer that everything is dead on either, instead she encourages you to partner your stars with your intuition to make your own decisions about what is presented to you.

‘The map will provide the clues to help you find your personal treasure chest, but you have to navigate your own journey and take responsibility for your own decisions.’ pg. 9.

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So these are my top picks for January, the books I’d recommend most. If you have any of your own please link them below, I’m putting together my 2018 ‘To Read’ list and I’m open to pretty much anything.

What do we think, should I keep on posting book reviews here? I’m having a little experiment with content to try and cover more of what I’m passionate about. It would be great to know which are your favourite type of posts on the blog.

All the love and groovy vibes, N x