Friday, December 22, 2017

Australian Working Holiday Visa 417

This morning I woke up in a dorm room in Canggu, Bali, believing I was about to spend Christmas alone for the first time in my life. To be honest, if you have to spend the holidays alone, Indonesia is not a bad place to be! Even with it being the rainy season here and the last week it has rained continuously, it has been the most soul reviving trip. I needed it. There's plenty you can do here while it's raining.

Attend the Canggu Jewelry Class

I have fallen head over heels for Silversmithing over the past few days in Bali. I think I've found something I'd really like to pursue in between writing novels!!
For one lesson (3 hours) it's 600,000 IDR including the materials and 5 grams of silver. You pay extra for stones and any more silver you use. The trainers are amazing, so helpful and talented.
I did two classes and wish I could have done more but I ran out of time.
The two rings you see above I made!! Had a lot of help of course and it's going to take years to become good at it but wow... it's so fascinating and fun!! It's really tough too!!! Requires a fair bit of muscle, a good eye for detail and a lot of creativity!

Attend an Authentic Balinese Cooking Class

Periuk Bali Balinese Cooking Class was a fantastic day out in Ubud!!! I made 11 Balinese dishes which I got to eat afterwards with the other travelers attending the class. The teachers are again absolutely wonderful people, really helpful and informative. They give you heaps of information not only on cooking but also teach you loads about the Balinese culture. We visited a local market, sampled divine foods and got to look out at the rice fields and learn more about how they work! 

Enjoy a Bintang or a juice overlooking the incredible Tegallalang Rice Terraces

This is something I literally HAD to do before leaving Bali... and you can see why with that view. I mean.... WOW.
This was taken at the Lumbung Sari Warung restaurant. I had hoped to get there and enjoy a nice glass of wine or a cocktail while looking out at the view but unfortunately the only alcoholic beverage served is Bintang (the pricing of which is extortionate!!! Expect to pay almost 40,000 IDR for a small beer...). I sipped on an avocado juice which was more like a chocolate milkshake to be honest.

You can walk through the fields if you want to but I didn't due to the rain. There's heaps of markets around so bring some spare cash if you want to do any shopping... and don't forget to barter!!!!

Taste traditional Luwak Coffee (the most expensive coffee in the world and made with poo!)

Guess what guys.... it tastes like normal coffee!! Haha. It is said to have a lower amount of caffeine in it though which means it is healthier. You also sample a massive amount of tea here which is really interesting and get a full tour of the making of Luwak coffee. You even get to see the animals it comes from.

Swing way up high above the rice paddies

This picture is priceless... but the swing itself, situated right by the Luwak coffee tasting, is pretty pricey!! It's 200,000 IDR for the super swing as seen in the photograph above. You get 15 swings.... but there's no denying it... it's beautiful. Was it worth it??? Yes. Every penny.


I've been waiting out my Working Holiday Visa in Bali for the past week. I applied for it 30 days ago in Tim Horton's, Canada. It said the application process can take between 16 - 32 days so I figured I got unlucky due to the festive season. There's been a big backlog over December. There was nothing I could do but wait it out and just as I'd finally accepted that I was going to be spending Christmas alone in Bali, I woke up this morning with a lovely email notifying me that I've been granted the visa!!!

Although I'm British and hold a British passport, I have lived in South Africa for most of my life and hold a South African passport too. I also lived in Spain for a year within the last five years and this information all had to be in my application form. I think that extra information made my visa application take longer. 

Being in South Africa, a medical examination had to be done to ensure I was free of tuberculosis. That in itself was an experience and a half!!! South Africa, I am sorry to say, is useless. 
One week after applying for my visa, I was asked to provide health clearance and they only accept certain doctors / hospitals to provide this evidence. I was in Cape Town at the time and the doctors there only had availability for me in over a week... that would have slowed down my visa even more so I called every other acceptable hospital I could and eventually found a slot in Durban. As I'd never been to Durban and had always wanted to, I jumped at the chance. Flights were craaaaazy expensive though so my boyfriend and I embarked on a roadtrip to Durban. From Knysna in the Garden Route it should have taken us just over 13 hours....... but...... I'll admit it..... I'm terrible at directions. I got us HORRIBLY lost in an African township and we had to sleep there on a dirt-road in our car overnight. We eventually found our way out of the township though and made it to Durban safely where I had my medical done, then enjoyed Durban!!! We cycled along the promenade, skinny dipped in the ocean and gorged on curry.

On the way back to Knysna we had a pit stop in one of my favorite parts of South Africa, Jeffrey's Bay. We squeezed in a surf in lovely warm water and then headed back home.

I applied for my visa online and had no help from anyone which made things slightly more stressful. The hospital never let me know that they had cleared me of TB and sent off my medicals to the Australian government and there's this button on the Australian Immi website when you've logged in that says, Information Provided. You're supposed to click it when all the info you've been asked for is in. I didn't click mine for days and was really upset with the hospital for not letting me know that my forms were already submitted. BUT.... when I called the Australian high commission to find out if this would slow down the process they said no. They told me you don't really have to click the information provided button... but like I said, South Africa is a bit useless at times so I'd click it anyway. Just a heads up! 

Anyway... thereafter I heard NOTHING from the Aussie government for weeks. I was really stressing out, wondering if I'd done the application correctly, started stressing that I'd missed something or hadn't provided evidence of something they needed. I started googling other peoples horror stories about their visa taking up to two months which petrified me!!
The only time I heard from them again was when my visa was granted, this morning!!! It was exactly a month after my application, so it was a long wait... but it's going to be worth it! 

So, my dear readers, tomorrow I am heading off to beautiful Australia for the first time ever to meet my incredible, sexy boyfriend's family and friends... and start my new life in Brisbane!!!! 

I am insanely excited for this new start. 

In the past when I left home to move to Spain to be with Simon and work on the yachts and even when I moved to Cape Town to be with Lyndon, I'd cried. Leaving had been hard. It's not easy leaving behind everything you know. Your family, friends and pets. But when I hopped on a plane to start this move to Australia, there wasn't one tear shed. I was overcome with this sense of calm... it just felt like I was doing the right thing. I feel like I am on the right path... like I am right where I am supposed to be.

There's this Irish proverb that goes, 'Your feet will take you where your heart is.' 
I am pretty sure I'm on my way there....

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thriller Recommendations for Newbies

Hi Bookies!

I LOVE thrillers - so while we're in the spooky month of Halloween, I thought I'd recommend 5 thrillers all for very different reasons. 
From a book in the genre that is probably the most well-known and therefore a great place to start (it was my very first thriller read!!) to a book recommended for those of you who are more comfortable with the sci-fi / fantasy genre... there's a book for everyone here:

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meaning of Semicolon Tattoo

My body is my canvas.... and yesterday I added to my personal, walking art collection.
I am my own gallery of meanings.

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A rather handsome tattooist named Baden graciously offered me a bottle of wine while he got to work with Fleetwood Mac oozing from the speakers in the background last night.

I got 3 new tats - and it was a struggle to force myself not to get more once we'd got started!

These are the ones I did get though:

The Semicolon Tattoo
Meaning: A semicolon is a powerful tattoo for those of us who have ever battled with mental health... whether it be depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or addiction. 
A semicolon, simply put, means you could have stopped but you chose to carry on. 
It is an inspiring symbolic representation of your strength for not giving up.

The viking symbol for creating your own reality (thumb tattoo)
Meaning: You could interpret this tattoo however you like, really. For me, it is a tattoo for writers. I am a writer... and as a writer we create our own worlds / realities for our novels all the time. It is a representation of my passion for writing and immersing myself into it.

Thigh Quote Tattoo for Women 

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Meaning: I find thigh quote tattoos, if done daintily, stunning on women. Find a quote that means something to you or reminds you of someone you have love or lost. 
This tattoo on my thigh isn't for anyone else but me, though.
It says:

"She is at a place in her life where peace is her priority and negativity cannot exist."

I love it. 

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The top of the thigh tattoo had some pretty painful moments when Baden was busy but the tattoo that hurt the most this time around was DEFINITELY the semicolon on my finger. It was right on that joint! The smallest tattoo of them all yet the most painful!

The things we do to ourselves :)

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Night Terrors, Sleep Walking, Hormone Imbalance and Changing Your Life

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I've started to get night terrors again.

In the past, I've always had someone next to me to grab me by the shoulders, calm me down and soothe me back to sleep. Now, I have no one. It was my very first experience of dealing with it alone. On Monday night I fell asleep early, around 8pm. I curled into bed with my hot water bottle by my feet and was grateful that a hard day was coming to an end. I'd resigned from my job... tears had been shed. I'd made the big decision to leave Cape Town where I had tried so hard to build a life for myself. A huge part of me felt (feels) like a failure. So needless to say, I was exhausted, falling into a quick, dreamless slumber. Then, suddenly, I shot up in bed... heart hammering out of my chest, gasping for breath. I was literally terrified. Even today, I can't quite figure out what I was doing but I think I thought there was something in the bed with me. I started throwing the blankets around, looking for 'something.' When I couldn't find it I chucked the bedding completely off the bed, ran across the flat to the lights, near blinded myself as I smacked the switch and charged back to my bed where I continued to search for whatever it was I was searching for. Then I saw my hot water bottle and I think that's the moment I really woke up - even though I remember the entire freak out, I was asleep. It was a bit like sleep walking, I suppose. I stared dumbly at the water bottle and asked myself, 'What are you looking for, Jade?' and I couldn't answer the question. Perturbed and confused I slowed my breathing, checked the time (11pm) before meandering across my flat. I let the room fall into darkness again, feeling my way around the coffee table and set-up tripod, allowing myself to sink back into my minimalist mattress on the floor and float back off to sleep.

I've realized my night terrors only ever resurface when there is an overwhelming amount of turmoil in my life. Even when I sleep, my mind cannot shut down and ease the panic. A clear sign that things in my life need to change... and change, they are.

The last week or two have been a whirlwind: 
From finally being comfortable being single and alone (actually rather enjoying it, too!). 
To hearing my ex tell me he's miserable without me and wanting to try again. 
To me (silly, silly me) agreeing to give it another shot. 
To experiencing severe symptoms of a hormone imbalance (fatigue, depression, acne, mood swings / irritability, night sweats and poor sleep patterns, weight gain, anxiety) due to negligence with my contraceptive pill which inevitably turned me not only into a walking pimple but also a complete psychotic wreck that completely mucked things up with aforementioned ex who has now turned into the ex.... again. To me having an absolute breakdown and running home to my family in Knysna for a few days where I re-cooperated. 
To breaking down again when I had to come back to Cape Town and face reality. 
To returning to work where I sat my boss down and announced my resignation. 
To breaking down AGAIN because although I am lonely and unhappy in Cape Town, my job (and my flat) are the two things I really love about it here. 
To realizing that gone are the days of flower deliveries for me when a man rang the bell at work clutching a bouquet of Proteas meant for someone else. 
To finally seeing that right now, for me, it is best to be alone as scary as that is... because I need to mend a very broken heart right now. So no more boys. None. Not one. For as long as it takes. I won't become a bitter crazy cat lady, cynical of love and stinking of stale wine... my heart IS open. It's the one amazing thing I have discovered about myself recently. I am ready to fall in love, to trust and to be happy... I wasn't before. Before, I was still too scared. Now, my heart truly is open.
This leads me to the final TO in this paragraph......... 
To deciding to take a year off work now that I have absolutely nothing to lose and nothing to stay for.   

It is time to regather myself. Pick up the pieces of my battered heart, dust off my passport and collect some more stamps for its pages.

Image may contain: 1 person, close-upIt is also time to fill the pages of my latest novel. So in this year off I am flying to Bali once I figure out the best way to deal with the visa situation... and I am going to write the first draft of my new book. By the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, I will be sending my thriller novel to agents for consideration and I believe something good is going to come from all of this. I believe in my writing. I believe in this leap of faith. I have to, because if I don't, I'm going into things with the wrong mindset. I don't want to think things like, 'what if by the end of this year of writing a book it doesn't get picked up by an agent!?' I want to believe that it will. I have faith in it. And you know what?? I may not be making money in this year of not working while I focus on my writing and healing my heart / soul, but I am making the TIME to do something I truly want to do while I have the opportunity and the means to do it. So I am proud of myself. I am ready. 

Otherwise, I just had to purchase a new inhaler as my chest has been getting tighter and tighter with all of this building anxiety. It's funny, but as dramatic as it sounds, this heartbreak is making it hard to breathe... to be. So one day my hope is that breathing will be effortless again. One day, I will be OK.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Life Update

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Why Not?

It's funny... no... it's SCARY just how much your life can change in such a short amount of time.
At the beginning of this month when Lyndon wanted to meet up, I was nervous about what he was going to say. He made me the happiest girl in the world by telling me he's miserable without me and he wanted to try again. We had 6 days after that... 6 days of pure bliss.. Of cuddles, kisses, adventures with penguins, nights in with nandos and red wine, laughing throughout games on his Xbox. I was so happy. I fell more in love than ever before. Things just felt right. Then, me being me, I went and cocked it all up.

The horrible thing is that I really don't believe that it was my fault. I've got a major hormone imbalance right now. Some of the big symptoms are irritability / mood swings, night sweats, acne, fatigue (I mean, on our first weekend back together I was too tired to join him at his friends birthday BBQ), and depression.
It was Sunday... we were at a wine farm finishing off the most wonderful day together in which he even surprised me with the cutest little beaded penguin (it really is the small things...). I brought something up that was bothering me. I only ever intended to talk... to work through it with good communication... but this fight erupted. The result of our combined stubbornness and my crazy hormone imbalance. I hate my body for making me lose the one thing I was so serious about it life... but it's done now. Never again. Unless it's happened to you, you'll never understand the feeling of the person you love pushing you away when you try to hug them.
I cannot subject myself to that amount of heartache again. He doesn't want me anymore. He's had enough.

It's finally made me realise that in the future if I do ever want a happy, lasting relationship I need to make some serious changes. I have such a temper and I know how irrational I can be. I am excruciatingly stubborn and yes, I do drink too much.
I really need to work on myself now... not on a relationship that already failed once.
You should never go back to finding happiness where you already lost it.

I have a lot of work to do on myself, so that is going to be my focus. I am not happy in Cape Town. I don't know anyone. I'm lonely. I'm stuck in almost 2 hours traffic every day...

Once again I moved somewhere for a guy, like I did with Spain for Simon. I will not allow myself to make that mistake again. That said, it is time for me to do something for myself. Put 'me' before everyone else for once. So today, as daunting as it is, I'm resigning from my job. Next month I'm flying to Bali to start my new chapter... or better put, my new book. Literally and figuratively.

I am petrified, but when you have nothing left to lose you need to ask yourself the question... Why Not?
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Monday, August 28, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep 2017

Who is taking part in NaNoWriMo this year!?

Are you a planner or a panster!? 

In this video I discuss my NaNoWriMo prep for 2017: Outlining my novel, doing chapter summaries, using The Flashlight Method and more!

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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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Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Eulogy: Introduction

I'm writing a thriller. Dabbling in a new genre. There's no doubt I still have some romance stories bottled up somewhere deep inside of me - but for now... I'm finding the creepiness and suspense of the thriller genre so enthralling I had to try it out for myself. 

I'd love your thoughts on my intro... if it receives a good response, I may even post the first chapter ;)

Happy reading, book lovers.


The Eulogy

Written by Jade Wright


A gypsy adorned in scarves and intricate jewellery sat across a cloth covered table from me. Streams of golden light shone onto our faces from a tiny cracked window in the corner of the caravan. Children's laughter echoed hauntingly from the world outside. Food sizzled on a grill, making my mouth water. As my subconscious senses picked up on all of my surroundings, one question alone was screaming in my mind. Who am I?

The faint smell of cedar-wood floated through the caravan in wisps of smoke. Dangling rose quartz, strung up druzy stones and wind chimes blew in the wind. The musical sound of the clanking copper tickled my ears playfully. 
“My vision’s hazy,” the gypsy said, squinting into her crystal ball.

“This is ridiculous! You’re nothing but a money making scam!” I flooded with rage. Snatching up the ball, I peered into its hopeless swirls. This was my last hope, it had to work.

Just as I was about to hurl the ball furiously across the room, a mans face shone right out of it, looking directly at me. It shocked me so much that the ball slipped from my grasp and clattered noisily to the floor. It split his face in two.
At first I didn’t recognise him. His handsome jawline and dark features, his deep set eyes that instantly chilled me to the bone. The soft splatter of freckles across his Roman nose and his gorgeous lashes any woman would be envious of. 
It was hard to tell with features like his if he was good or bad - the contrast of the two was like an art. A masterpiece. 

You know him… a voice whispered from somewhere deep inside of myself, making me look harder at his face.
That weary look in his eyes, the crooked smirk and deep dimple wedged into his left cheek. The cleft chin and chipped front tooth that made his plump lower lip jut out to one side. 
Who are you? I tried to cry out to him but no words came out of my mouth.
The gypsy was rising from her seat, folding up the deep red table cloth and telling me the time was up. 
“No, I need to know what happened to me! Please?” My voice shattered around me. 
“I cannot help you if you cannot help yourself.” 

She began blowing out countless flickering flames dancing on candle wicks. 
“I don’t know what you mean!”
“Who is the man in the crystal ball, Liz!?” 
“Liz. Is that my name?” 
“I’ve already said too much. Who is the man in the crystal ball!?”  

Her voice echoed through my eardrums with magnificent force, dizzying me. As she started to repeat the question, I realised she was going into some sort of trance. Her body was vibrating to the energy around us. The candles she’d blown out caught alight again as if by magic inside of her portable home.
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about!”

Shaking, I reached out and touched her ice cold hand, trying to free her from the ritualistic dance. 
Static shot through my body as our skin touched. 

Everything went black. All I could smell was smoke.
Sifting through the darkness to find the gypsy, her worn face appeared so fast in the blinding light that I gasped in fright. I tried ripping my hands away, but she had them tightly in hers. 
“He’s your husband, Liz.”

A falling sensation, as if I were spiralling downwards. Plummeting. This was it. I was looking down, watching myself hurtling towards earth and screaming helplessly through the black abyss. Soon, I would meet my death.


Thrashing violently awake in a cold sweat, my hand found the stitches on the side of my head. They had unraveled in my sleep. The wound was now oozing blood. There was no way I could go to the doctor, it wasn’t safe. I knew that, but I didn’t know why. I’d have to wait it out in the motel room for a couple of days. 
As a nurse, I knew more than enough about dressing a wound and short term memory loss after a concussion - and that was exactly what I had. A concussion.
How it had happened was the part that I couldn’t put back together. It was all starting to come back to me in small, uneven chunks. Finding out what was real and what was not was the problem. Am I a nurse? Is my name really Liz? 

Dressing the deep cut across my temple seemed to be second nature to me. Like riding a bicycle. I just knew what to do. I’d done it a thousand times before. 
The sound of ‘Liz’ seemed right, too.  

I twisted the bands around my ring finger as if by habit. They were beautiful, with diamonds encrusting every inch of white gold around the sides and one ginormous rock set in the middle. I had a husband. Where was he? 

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

May Reading Wrap-Up

May was a crazy month for me with the preparations for moving into my new flat on June 1st, adjusting to a new job at an art gallery in the city, turning 26 on the 15th May, abstaining from all things wheat and gluten and a (brace yourself!) pregnancy scare.

Books Read: 5

Favorite Read: Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
My Rating: 3/5
Verdict: Suspenseful, Plot-driven thriller.
Abducted at 16, Lily spends 8 years locked away in a cabin as a physically and emotionally abused sex slave to a very sick man. Throughout those 8 years, her kidnapper impregnates her, giving her a daughter she names Sky. After 8 long years, he finally slips up when he forgets to lock the cabin before he leaves. Lily seizes her chance and escapes with Sky, returning home to her family... but things have changed. In the years she's been gone, her family has fallen apart and Lily discovers the heartbreaking death of one of her relatives and a betrayal so shocking it almost tips her over the edge. Lily needs to adjust to life back with her family and introduce the world to her daughter who has only ever known life in the cabin... she also needs to make sure her kidnapper is sentenced to spend the rest of his life rotting behind bars. But will it be that simple? 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
My Rating: 4/5Verdict: A mysterious, eerie who-dunnit that had something missing....
A river running through the town in which this book is set has a history of claiming the lives of women. An investigation into the death of the latest victim, a single mother, is put into place. Was it a murder, a suicide or an accident? Are the deaths of all of these women somehow connected?
The victims estranged sister comes back to town to look after her 15-year old niece, now parentless... but she has a troubled past and never wanted to return to this small town at all. 

Image result for losing hope by colleen hoover

Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover
My Rating: 4/5
Verdict: A character driven, emotional rollercoaster
This is the companion novel to Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. It is told from Dean Holder's perspective - following his journey of dealing with his twin sisters suicide and finding Hope, his childhood friend who was abducted 13 years ago.

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Too Late by Colleen Hoover
My Rating: 5/5Verdict: Masterfully crafted, addictive, gripping, dark and explicit.
In 'Too Late' our main character is Sloan, a college student forced to stay in a toxic relationship with the biggest drug dealer on campus, Asa, in order to give her special-needs brother the best life possible. 

When Carter shows up in their drug-ridden, abusive and unhealthy lives, both befriending Asa for mysterious reasons and having an immediate attraction towards Sloan, everything is put into danger including the safety of everyone’s lives.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My Rating: 4/5Verdict: Unusual, Mythical YA Fantasy that almost lost me as it was very slow-paced for first 200 pages
In the unusual story of 'Strange the Dreamer' we have two MC's, an orphaned junior librarian called Lazlo Strange and the Muse of Nightmares Godspawn, Sarai. Lazlo has always been fascinated by the long lost city of Weep and has dedicated his years researching it's history - so when the opportunity arises for him to find out what really happened to this place, he has to seize his chance before losing his dream forever.

*Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!*

May Bookish Sundays: VLOGS

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