Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cozy Bookish Sundays from July: A Reading Vlog

Every Sunday I TRY to dedicate the day to my books - catch up on 'me' time (which means Book Time) after usually a crazy week. 
July was a BAD reading month for me. 
None of the books I read overly impressed me which put me into a reading slump. I was also focusing more on dating and social life than book - bad bad Jade. 
So this is a very chatty video about not only books but the world of dating through the Tinder dating app etc etc.


My Links:

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Review | Under the Sun by Lottie Moggach

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Thank you to Pan Macmillan (South Africa) for sending me a Picador Proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Anna moved to Spain to build a life for her and her artist boyfriend, Michael. She invested every penny to her name into a beautiful Finca for them and redecorated it to be their ideal home. Michael appeared to contribute nothing. 
Straight from the start her character is constantly belittled and made inferior to all those around her. While her friends and family believe she is living the dream is Spain, the reality is that her relationship is over. When he leaves with little more than a note goodbye, Anna is left alone to pick up the pieces. During a huge financial crisis, she rents out their Finca to a local business called Simón and shacks up in a tiny apartment in Marea where a bunch of expats have decided to call home. She runs a bar and carries out an affair with an older man in an attempt to boost her shattered confidence. 

Anna almost instantly regrets renting the Finca to Simón as strange things start to happen. A young African man arrives to collect the keys from her and it transpires that Simón could be letting a group of illegal immigrants stay there. 
When a body washes up onto the sandy shore, Anna is sure Simón has something to do with it... but how can she prove it?
Trapped in Spain, Anna will do anything to escape and get home but she's not really certain where 'Home' is anymore.  


I found Anna's character really weak and to be honest, stupid. The way she handles money related things is absolutely ridiculous and arrogant. The only time I found her remotely enjoyable is before her boyfriend abandons her and they are hosting a dinner party for some friends, Kurt and Farah. 
Farah is talking to Anna's boyfriend and Anna overhears her say, 'I'm just not sure what she brings to the table...' and Anna explodes at them from behind the wall, 'I bought the fucking table!' 
That was brilliant! I didn't connect with her on any level though.

Overall this book wasn't what I expected it to be. It wasn't a thriller or a love story or even both weaved together - I struggled to decide how to classify this novel at all really. 
Not a lot actually happens... it wasn't intense or gripping. Things seemed to build up and then just fall flat like a wave that just doesn't form properly.

No automatic alt text available.Under The Sun did something priceless for me though - it reminded me of the beauty in Spain, the small things that I had once loved in a place that became my nightmare. I have been bitter about Spain since I threw what I could into my suitcase and ran away from the life I'd tried to build for myself there after being betrayed by my best friend and lover, who cheated on me with over 8 women. 

This book had me feeling nostalgic under my winter blankets for warm summery days in Spain. The spilling glasses of Cava, thick legs of jamon screwed to wooden stands, paella on the beach, plates of sardines, lobster bisque, the language. It was a lovely reminder of a place I called home for a year and will never return to.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

June Bookish Sundays: Vlog

June cannot be over soon enough. What a tester for my personal strength... 

I'd been so excited about this month what with moving into my new flat in Cape Town that I've signed a long lease on - but WOW this month was devastating. 
My home town burnt to the ground, my flat flooded during the biggest storm in 30 years in the Western Cape, my relationship came to an abrupt end... I was man down with a winter cold..... good things did happen though.... I was contacted by a handful of publishers and companies wanting to work with me via Instagram. Click here for my book related Instagram page and here for my foodie page. 

I have high hopes that July is going to be a better month.. it has to be.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Eulogy | Chapter One | Simple Pleasures

If you haven't yet read the prologue, please click the following link before continuing on with the story: 

The Eulogy: Prologue

Chapter One

Simple Pleasures

A gentle whistle sounds from somewhere beyond the warmth and comfort of the bed-sheets. It stirs me from my dream and I couldn’t be more thankful. I’ve been having the same one on a nightly basis for the last month now. A dream inside of a dream. My hand ventures up to my head. No stitches. 
I try not to think about it too much, wanting nothing more than to push the dream from my mind. It makes me anxious. It makes me scared of my husband. My husband - the kindest and most gentle creature I have ever known. He’s got another side to him, like everyone does… but I’ll elaborate on that later. For now, all you need to know is that he’s a maths teacher to a class of children an age I can barely tolerate. A son, a brother, an uncle. Around children and his family his eyes light up, the softness in him is unmissable. He wants children. It's more than a want, it’s an ache. I on the other hand, do not. 
I don’t really know what I want. I didn’t even particularly know if I wanted to marry him in the beginning, but he has made the past seven years absolute bliss.  

The sheets smell like home and I can’t help but give a delicious stretch of my limbs before curling myself deeper into the scent of my husband. He has this oaky twang to him that I find irresistible.

His pillow is empty, but the indent from where his head had been just minutes before makes me smile. 

I hear him pottering around in the kitchen downstairs. A teaspoon stirring sugar into our coffee, the clattering of saucers as he balances the mugs in them. The failed attempts of trying to be silent as he pads back up the staircase. The faint whiff of banana’s, freshly peeled and sliced into perfect circles, plopped into a bowl of Bulgarian yoghurt. Toast. Toasted once and then again for no more than ten seconds - the perfect golden brown. Peanut butter melted on top. Breakfast in bed. 

He places the varnished wooden tray down in front of me with a sleepy grin. He hasn’t shaved for a few days, it makes him look rugged and unkempt. I can already feel a tingling in my groin. 
“Good morning,” he whispers, planting his soft lush lips onto mine and tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.  

“Hi,” I mumble my first words of the day through a croaky throat. 

There's a box of soft pink Kleenex tissues on the bedside table and I reach out for one. Alex beats me to it, grabbing the tissue and handing it over to me dutifully.
“How are you feeling?” he questions as the back of his hand meets my sticky forehead. I'm sick. Probably the flu. Alex has been trying to get me to get a prescription for the past three days now. Pills fix everything for him. If I mutter even a word about a headache out comes his medical bag. He has a pill for everything. 

He's only trying to help but the constant pampering is getting under my skin. 

“Better,” I lie, wishing him away. He sees straight through me, knowing me all too well.
“I’ll take the day off work again, we’ll take you to Doctor Shaw and once he’s prescribed you something I’ll take you out for some frozen yoghurt, OK?” It isn't really a question. 

Frozen yoghurt sounds nice. Soothing for my throat and filled with probiotics which my body will need with all the antibiotics Alex is planning to force down my throat. The place we go to is the only place that has chunks of fruits in the yoghurt too. It’s delectable. I’ll go for the mixed berry flavour as always, my favourite. Alex prefers the English Toffee, which is way too sweet for me.

We have barely anything in common. No tastes, no family views - sweet bugger all actually. In fact, we’re such complete polar opposites that for our honeymoon I’d wanted to go snowboarding in Alaska, bundling up in a thick snood and panda bear onsie while Alex on the other hand had secretly planned a sailing trip to the Maldives. He’d been so thrilled by his surprise when it was finally revealed that I couldn’t bare to tell him hot, tropical climates turned me into an absolute bitch. It was the heat and sweat, men in skin tight speedo’s that make it impossible not to size up their package while at the same time making you want to burst out laughing. Tiny bronzed women strutting around on the shore in Brazilian bikinis with their tits out, making married mens eyes wander and the wives green with envy. I’d look down at my floral one piece and notice how the beautician had missed an entire patch  of hair when she’d been doing my wax. Then I’d notice my wobbly thighs and stretch marks and grimace with embarrassment. I won’t even go into what I saw when I turned around in the mirror and saw a dozen little pimples shining from my bottom. How were these women so perfect? I stuck the Maldives out though and Alex even coaxed me into a bikini in the end. It had been a surprise wedding present. Gucci, no less. It gave me a marvellous tan in places I’d never thought of showing off in public before. 

I stuck with Alex way before the marriage and the Maldives and way after that too because I knew how lucky I was. How lucky I am.

Alex isn’t like any of the other guys his age. He isn’t a thing like the riffraff you’d find down in the pub. Alex knows what he wants in life. He’s simple, easy and comfortable. 
I do love him, I married him for Christ sake.  We’re just different - and what’s that saying? Opposites attract. That’s what we are. Opposites. We ‘complete’ each other. 
I like to think I’m the one keeping us young and fruitful while Alex is the one that reminds me of my age without needing words to say it. He reminded me by proposing, by his constant hints towards starting a family, by buying a house. We’re new home owners. 28 Cherrywood Avenue. That’s our address. I never thought I’d have one of those, an address. When I was younger, in my twenties, I bought one way tickets, slept in airports with the tickets slapped to my jacket so the security guards wouldn’t disturb me. I rented the cheapest bungalows I could find in places most tourists had never even heard of. I tolerated the sound of roosters at 3am, howled with the mangy wild dogs who made caves their home, I ate food not even the locals would trust. As a means of regular income I’d busk on the side of the street and teach yoga on a hill overlooking the ocean.
That all changed when I moved to London. I remember it clear as day - wandering through this stone archway up to a dusty street side accommodation for tourists. It was mainly guys there, which I liked. I’d always been more fond of male company, they were more fun and accepting than a group of women. Women had always intimidated me - perhaps that was why I enjoyed watching them wobble unsteadily and pull agonised faces when they attended my yoga classes. That’s probably not very nice - Alex actually pointed that out to me once. He has this way of softening me up.

Anyway, so I was pretty popular from the moment I walked through that entrance. There were about six guys that I knew without a shadow of a doubt wanted to sleep with me. Some wanted more but relationships weren’t really my thing. I moved around too much to make attachments with people. 

I fooled around with a few Canadian tourists for a while until two friends, Adrian and Dane, who had this seemingly unbreakable friendship, both started to develop feelings for me. It was a game at first, seeing how far they’d go to have me. Adrian was pretty nerdy, but more good looking than Dane. He had this dark olive skin and jet black hair, eyes that were ready to see so much more than the rest of him was. Dane on the other hand was chubbier. He had a lot of chest hair. I liked to run my hands through it and get lost in the forest which was his body. A lot of girls don’t really find that attractive, but I do. 

Adrian was some sort of a scientist, working in labs and wearing those ginormous goggles and white coat while Dane had his own business. Dane wore a lot of button-up shirts and polished shoes. Adrian’s hair was always too long in front of his eyes and freshly washed while Dane’s was never without a handful of gel and pushed back into that typical European look. 

I realised pretty soon that I was fucking up a really good friendship by sleeping with them both. They both had these incredibly good hearts but the jealousy over one woman, me, made them turn on each other. They turned on each other slowly at first but then all at once everything fell apart. I was forced to choose, one or the other. I couldn’t. I wasn't ready for commitment. I was going to miss the lavish dinners Dane took me out on, the expensive taste of bubbly champagne on my tongue and the deep meaningful conversations about things I’d never even thought about before. I’d miss learning the most fascinating things from Adrian too, the soft touch of his silky hands on my skin as though it was the first time he’d ever felt a woman. I felt cherished and adored by them both for such different reasons. Dane couldn’t look at me the way Adrian did and Adrian couldn’t spoil me the way Dane did. 

There’s no such thing as the perfect man - that’s why it’s so hard to choose. You find one that seems to have so many incredible qualities but then another appears with a few more that you’ve been looking for. 

As humans we aren’t supposed to mate for life. It’s not in our nature like it is with penguins. A male penguin will search an entire beach for the perfect pebble and when he’s found it he’ll go over to the female penguin and hand it to her like a man would with an engagement ring. If she accepts the pebble, if it’s round enough and big enough for her like the perfect diamond to us women, they will mate for life. Just the thought of it makes me sick. I wish it was that simple for us humans. Or do I? Regardless of if we have that rock or not, we rarely ever mate for life. Sex is just sex and urges happen. I learnt that the hard way when I was nine. My parents had a messy divorce. Both of them had slept around - I’d caught them both buggering around with other people red handed. Therapists told me that’s where my fear of commitment originates. I used to disagree. I’d say I was just more well tuned to human life than the other idiots. The therapists didn’t like that. 

Why is it that therapists are so adamant that you have ‘commitment issues’ or a ‘phobia’ of some kind? They want to force you into believing you have this ‘problem’ but is it really a problem to not want to be tied down? 
Humans. Are. Not. Mean. To. Mate. For. Life. 
Even Adrian, the scientist, knew that.  I used to think it was the therapists and married people who were wrong - not me. That never really changed, but I guess in the end you just have to go along with the hand you’re dealt - and after Adrian and Dane, Alex stumbled into my life. He was the hand that changed everything for me. He was my royal flush.

It was the night that everything exploded between Adrian and Dane. Adrian and I were out at a bar, although he was never really a big drinker I always tried to get him tipsy. That gentle giggle and slight silliness that would slip out of him after a vodka or two always lit me up. 

We were playing a game of pool. Every time one of us sank one of our balls we had to take a shot together - it was cruel on our livers but hilarious at the time. By the end of the game the juke box was playing that Ellie Goulding song from 50 Shades of Grey (don’t ask me why I know that,) and Adrian sort of tripped over his feet to get to me and planted a sloppy kiss right on my lips in between telling me he loved me. I blame the lyrics. 

Kissing wasn’t supposed to happen in public. Neither of us were very affectionate people around crowds - that’s one of the reasons he suited me so much. Of course Dane had to walk in through the pub door with chipped blue paint, right at that moment.

Dane locked eyes on us instantly as his heavy footsteps crunched the fallen splinters of wood beneath his feet. I knew the second I heard the jingle of the pub doors bell that something wasn’t right. 

Adrian in his pissed state had one hand pawing desperately at my breast and his tequila stained mouth was all over my neck. I’d drawn him in for one sneaky kiss, completely out of character for me. Groping me in front of so many people seemed to be an insane turn on - until Dane showed up. 

It must have been a territory thing, but suddenly both men turned into snarling hooligans, turning the pub upside down as they battled it out. 
The bar manager broke the fight up pretty quickly, especially when Dane started turning on me. 

I can’t blame him, though. I know I wasn’t the worlds most considerate lady, in fact I doubt I was a lady at all. All I really cared about was a good shag and a bed to sleep in. Oh yeah, don’t forget the free meal too. I had no time for love and romance. I was in my prime and reveling in it. 

In my defense, I had warned them both that I wasn’t looking for anything serious and I was seeing other people. Their eyes had twinkled and shone like adoring Madonna fans when I’d said that. It’s funny how quick things can change. 
Dane strode up to me and tugged the pool cue out of my hand, throwing it to the concrete floor with more force than he’d ever given when throwing me onto the bed. His eyes were alight with fury as his meaty hands grasped my wrists and demanded to know who I wanted. Him or Adrian. There was so much love and anger in his eyes as he dealt me his ultimatum.

A fist hurtled past my peripheral vision and connected with Dane’s face. I definitely heard something crack, the splitting of bone beneath instantly bruised skin. I thought it had been Adrian at first, but that was stupid because Adrian had never thrown a punch in his life. Neither had Alex actually, but I didn’t know that then.

Alex, at the time the pubs manager, sailed into my life in a fit of rage, trying to protect me from two brawling men that fateful Saturday evening. I never told him why they were fighting although it was pretty obvious as they were dragged out by the bouncers and screaming a string of insulting names my way. From ‘cunt,’ to ‘slut,’ to a whole bunch of other words I hadn’t even known was in their vocabulary. Alex never asked why they were fighting over me either, he just knew he had to have me - and have me he did. 

Maybe it was the shock that jolted me into reality - of breaking apart a ‘bromance’ that was once so strong. Looking into the eyes of a truly broken man that would rather hurt me than have me be happy with someone else - whatever happened that night, it made me never look at another man again. 

I won’t say it was easy. It wasn’t. A leopard can’t just change their spots, but she can change. I knew I’d always have all of those spots to haunt me in my older days but I also knew it was time to calm down.

Looking around our gorgeous little bedroom, a bedroom in a house we now own together as husband and wife, sends the most intense shiver up my spine. A good shiver. A shiver that says, ‘how did I get here?’ 
If I look back onto my life seven years ago I’d never for one moment think I’d be lying here today. Breakfast in bed, a doting husband willing to take the day off work to drive me to the doctor and pump my body with what it needs to get better. Never. 
I never for one second thought I’d look down at the plate of food in front of me, smell the freshly toasted bread and overwhelming peanut butter and suddenly dash to the bathroom to throw up. Never. 

The smell - potent, intoxicating. 

The toast, although seemingly perfected, now smelt burnt. The peanut butter was too nutty, it churned my stomach. The banana too fresh, too strong. The combination makes my head pound as blood rushes to my head dipped into the toilet bowl. Veins rise, looking about to burst from my temple.

I'm throwing up yet there is nothing in my stomach to throw up. 
I am definitely sick. 

Alex barges into the bathroom even though I’d managed to slam the door shut as I buckled to my knees in front of the porcelain toilet.

“Liz, are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” he asks me seriously as he holds my hair back and pats a damp cloth against the nape of my neck.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel | Book Review

"Sometimes it’s a revelation, even to me, how much more comfortable I am with cruelty than with kindness."

I received a copy of this book from Jonathan Ball Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

Amy Engel's writing is delectable - the story is extremely unsettling and makes you uncomfortable as you read but the writing and haunting plot creates an unputdownable masterpiece. 
Her work is like a culinary creation - something you shouldn't enjoy such as a cricket taco or a tarantula burger from Manchester's new Brazilian inspired restaurant, Favela, featuring a creepy crawly buffet menu. 
This book is just that. 
It's dirty and twisted, it's creepy and dark... crawling in disturbing secrets and it's by far the most unique tale I have ever come across. 

A murder mystery to the core with an underlying hint of romance that softens the edges of this fascinating 'who-dunnit' novel. 

How a book with such a stunning cover can conceal such a horrific, harrowing story is beyond me. 

The Roanoke Girls is about Lane, a young girl whose mother commits suicide.
Now parentless, Lane moves to Kansas to live with her mysterious grandparents and cousin, Allegra. 
Lane barely knows anything about her family besides that her mother had once run away from them and had vowed to never return. 
The wealthy Roanoke family is renowned for their array of beautiful young women, Lane and Allegra being no exception. 
However, there are dark, shocking secrets hidden behind the walls of The Roanoke house which lead Lane to flee from Kansas just as her mother once had. 
Many years later, Lane, a drifter with little to show in life, is lured back to the Roanoke's after receiving a phone call from her grandfather. Her cousin, Allegra, is missing... and she needs to help.

I loved the set of characters in this book from the doting grandfather to the introverted grandmother. The sexy tease Allegra and the strong-willed, empty hearted lost-cause, Lane. The hideous house-keeper Sharon, who lacks any form of culinary skills and the eerie groundsman, Charlie. 

It is a compelling book rich with stories of small-town life as it weaves effortlessly between the past and present tense. 

Although there is an excruciatingly grotesque element to this book, it is not graphic which makes it easier to stomach. It is mild and I am grateful for the mercifully subtle delivery (you'll understand why once you discover the twist which is revealed very early on).

It's the kind of book you feel awkward explaining to others and even giving it a high rating makes you feel like there could be something wrong with you. But I was so invested in this story! The only downfall I found was the ending. It is so easy to become engrossed with this story but the ending fell flat for me. I figured out who the murderer was pretty soon but even so, it would have been more riveting if delivered differently. Everything just fell together and slotted into place too quickly like the ending was rushed. I also felt the descriptions of certain body parts (boobs and butts....) could have been handled better.

Along with a number of my friends, I tore through this book and came to the conclusion that it hooks and reels you in - we were just the poor helpless fish that took the bait - and it was great.

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