If you are looking for an easy read, this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a challenging read -wonderfully written but hard- that will take you completely into someone else’s life (also hard), then this is one for you. It’s less of a book and more of a reading experience, and an intense one at that.
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is bleakly beautiful. Eimear McBride take you right into the main character’s head from the start, surrounded by her thoughts, feelings and point of view. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to but suddenly, the words make sense as you get accustomed to the style. If you’re looking for description and happy endings, forget it. It’s more involved than that. Here is a new way to create a person and build the world they live in.
It’s not an easy read emotionally either. The narrative is fragmented and unfinished and raw. Abandonment, neglect, illness, sexual abuse and death all swirl together (I never said it was fun, I said it was good). Set in Ireland, the Irishness permeates the text and gives it a cultural anchor. McBride unfolds everything that living in a small Catholic community is, especially how where you come from affects who you are.
I don’t usually like books that critics like but this one seems to be the exception! It’s probably not one for the sun lounger but if you are looking for something different and are bored of cookie cutter characters and endings, get it. I’m looking forward to seeing what Eimear McBride does next…
I sat down to write about this book and started several times before I realized…this is a book that is so hard to write about without giving away CRUCIAL PLOT SPOILERS! So here goes: this is Rosemary’s story about her family and how messy and complicated families can be. Rosemary is an only child although she used to have a sister and a brother, both of whom have vanished and are not really mentioned by the rest of her family. Rosemary, on the other hand, thinks and talks about them a lot (but just to you).
One of the most genius things about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is the topsy-turvy narrative that takes you forward and back in time along with Rosemary’s memories, where her past has a stronger calling than the present. If Karen Joy Fowler had written this story in any other way, I don’t think it would have worked so well. This magical weaving of narrative cements Rosemary’s character and whisks the reader along perfectly. Fowler explores lots of themes in this brilliant story but I especially like how she writes about memory; how events that shape your life may or may not have played out in reality like you remember them, and how important that is.
And that’s it. That’s all I can say. Honest, you’ll have to read it for yourself (and you will thank me for not saying more).
I do admire Bryony Gordon’s balls for writing and publishing the memoir of her twenties, although I guess if you write about your life in a national newspaper for long enough you get anesthetized to other people reading/pointing and laughing/judging it. I wonder if you get to the point where you end up being in this circle of disaster because it makes for a good column?
Any-who, like Gordon, my twenties aren’t exactly what I imagined (I’d bet most people’s twenties aren’t – heck, I bet most people’s lives aren’t) and yes, maybe I have written some of it down but to let other people read it? No way! Mainly because it’s a bit boring…It does help that Gordon’s twenties were quite funny. Disastrous, yes but funny too. One night stand who wants to use a butter stick anyone? And that’s just in the first chapter.
In a nutshell, The Wrong Knickers – A Decade of Chaos is basically Bridget Jones with a successful career, more drugs and worse men. You might have thought Daniel Cleaver was a bit of a twat but he looks positively charming against some of the crackers Gordon ends up embroiled with, even if it is for a maximum of 6 hours. There are the crazy/stable friends, awful flats and wine. Lots of wine. However, underneath there is actually a sneaky love story. Yes, there’s coke and week long benders but Gordon gets her happy ending, like a bonkers 21st century fairy tale except it’s real life. So here’s hoping for the rest of us, whose twenties aren’t like those magical one you see on Instagram. It’ll be alright in the end.
Where Ms. Hirons goes I eventually, with Boots card in hand, follow. Her skincare advice is on another level and since following her cheat sheets my skin has improved dramatically – except this bit on my chin, but don’t look at that. That’s stress and hormones.
She mentioned Hydraluron Moisture Jelly by Indeed Labs on her Instagram feed a few weeks ago and, as my moisturiser had got to the scrape-your-finger-under-the-rim stage, I went and bought a pot of this to try instead.
Any product that comes in shiny futuristic packaging and doesn’t have a load of bad chemicals in it will end up on my shelf at some point. I want my skincare to look cutting edge but be full of nice, skin lovely natural things. This one does and is – first tick.
To get the product out, you press the top/big white button and the clear jelly oozes out of the hole in the middle. Bit gross looking, totally addictive if you like pressing buttons and seeing what happens, which I do – second tick.
It smells of clean. I don’t like anything too perfumed so for me, this is good. If I’m honest, I am used to moisturisers that are a little more creamy/oily as I have dehydrated skin and it just sucks up whatever you put on it. Hydraluron Jelly is more of a, well, gel which does soak in fast but my skin doesn’t feel tight or in need of a second coat. If I’m using less, it’ll last longer – third tick.
Overall, a great product to add into my routine so far. If you are looking for a new moisturiser that does what it says on the tin, then you can’t go far wrong with this one.
Buy yours here.
I’m always intrigued by writers who choose to write their main character from the point of view of the opposite sex. Case in point is this book by John Green (a man) whose main character, Hazel is most definitely a 13 year old girl. A girl with terminal cancer who meets a gorgeous boy at a cancer support group. This sounds awful but Green writes in such a matter of fact manner – intelligent, 13 year old girls tend to be quite matter of fact – that it just works.
Yes, The Fault in Our Stars is ‘technically’ a young adult novel, and it is about living with terminal cancer, which sounds about as depressing as you can get, but Green writes with such beautiful insight that it seems to be about anything but this. It’s about being alive and being in love. It’s about friendships and families and not letting anything, whether that’s an illness or whatever, define you.
You will definitely laugh and definitely cry and I urge you to read this before the film comes out and they Hollywood it into something it’s not. I really hope they don’t but you should read it, just in case.
Nothing makes me feel all nice and smooth as a body scrub. I love them. I don’t love the fact that they are full of silica and little plastic bits that float down the drain and block up the sea. So, I made one. Simple.
I’d been thinking about it for a bit but it seemed too much like messing about (soz environment and fishes) but then I read an easy scrub recipe in Psychologies Magazine and a day later, a lovely scrub recipe from The Scarlet plopped into my inbox. They are actually really easy to do and much cheaper than the scrubs I buy.
You will need: a bowl for mixing, sugar, olive oil. That’s it. You can add in essential oil (make sure you can use it on your skin) and honey if you like, but you don’t have to. I added in some Neal’s Yard Rose Beauty Balm because I love it and use it whenever I can.
Put 3 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl.
Pour in a glug of olive oil. A tablespoon is about enough.
Begin to mix.
Add in essential oils and honey if you are using them.
Mix together until they form a paste. You know, like a scrub looks.
Rub on. Shower off. Enjoy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months with no access to social media or magazines you will have heard of The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh – AKA ‘this summer’s blockbuster read’. Briefly, 40-something Jenn and husband Greg are enjoying their annual Mallorcan summer holiday until step daughter, Emma and boyfriend Nathan join them for a week and chaos ensues. Mainly because Jenn thinks it’s ok to shag her teenage stepdaughter’s boyfriend while he is having it off with a bendy yoga nymph he meets at the beach. Happy holidays.
This is a dysfunctional family at best: Jenn and Nathan are bonking in the holiday house and garden while EVERYONE ELSE IS STILL IN. (My main thought while reading; how does nobody hear them/see them/walk in on them?); Greg has a secret he only divulges to his daughter rather than his wife; Emma is spoilt and hates her step mum – but really, can you blame her?
I can’t ever remember reading a book where I did not like ANY of the characters. Nada. Not one. In fact, I actively disliked them all. Jenn is self obsessed, ridiculous and selfish. Greg is boring, damp and selfish. Emma is a one dimensional, typical teenage ‘step daughter’ and her boyfriend Nathan, enjoying his status as teenage love god/serial shagger is just gross. And selfish. But this vileness kept me reading. They were just so deplorable and horrible, you kind of wanted them all to have some comeuppance at the end, which Jenn sort of does but….well, I’ll let you figure it out for yourself. The ending is pretty good and leaves the reader with a semi satisfied feeling, imagining Jenn has royally stitched herself up.
While I didn’t warm to any of the characters, the thing I liked most about this book was how Helen describes Mallorca. You can almost taste the dust and feel the setting sun on your skin. She describes it beautifully and you can actually believe you are there, sitting next to these horrible people in a beach side cafe with half an ear on them whilst you enjoy the view, thanking your lucky stars you don’t actually know anyone like them.