Thursday, 27 September 2012

5 Books for a Break Up

I've read too many books.

In my head, Elizabeth gets her Mr Darcy and she keeps him, Cathy and Heathcliff are together in the afterlife, and Harry and Ginny DO grow up to have kids named after their lost loved ones.

But just as books can set you up for heartbreak, they can also save you from it.  Here are my top picks for the end of the affair.

1. Breakfast at Tiffanys

Nobody does composure as stylishly as Audrey Hepburn.  Now I know that the book came first but to be fair, you say "Breakfast at Tiffanys" and you automatically think of the film.  The cat.  Audrey in that black dress smoking a cigarette on one of those long, tapered cigarette holders.  And there isn't a better attitude to have at a time like this than the one Holly Golightly has when she tells Paul she simply cannot read bad news until she's got her lipstick on.  Here here!


Perfect for any disenfranchised princess or disillusioned dame, Truman Capote's novel of the same name is a novel about unrequited love, freedom, style, and happy endings not always involving the guy and the girl getting together to make mushy faces at one another.  If you love the writing of J.D. Salinger (which I do), then you will love Capote's pithy, brilliant prose.  Plus, it doesn't hurt a smidge that when you're bonding with gorgeous skateboarders over a mutual love of Salinger at the bookshop where you work, you can pick up a Capote and recommend he tries that next.

I do love a man who reads.

2. Adorkable (Or any other suitably fluffy YA novel NOT featuring Vampires or the Supernatural)

Sometimes a trip back to blissful, self-centred teenagerdom is just what the doctor ordered.  Light and fluffy, this book is the perfect night-or-two read with minimal deep thinking about philosophy required.  The moral?  Either, the lonely are never truly alone or, ALL HAIL THE INTERWEBZ. Either way, I enjoyed the book despite its inane focus on the "lingo" of teens today and the self-serving celebration of hipsters.  Jeane, while so unbelievably obnoxious for the first 100 pages, redeems herself with having actual substance, while Michael Lee leaves you with the hope that maybe there really is a boy out there who will accept you despite your nasty fashion choices and propensity for sulking.  Then again, he is a fictional character created by a woman...


Also a celebration of blogging!  Hooray!

3. It's Called A Breakup Because It's Broken

From the author who brought you He's Just Not That Into You (and his wife) comes this smart girl's break up user manual.  Tempted to mentally flagellate yourself by committing humiliating acts of lost love?  Read this book first!  The authors have included hilarious anecdotes about people far far crazier than you, and their positive take on life is totally infectious.  I found myself laughing out loud... ON THE TRAIN!

Thanks to Yvonne for the recommendation!

4. Puberty Blues

Nothing puts a girl off men like dirty, scruffy surfer boys demanding Chiko Rolls and expecting you to pay off your Friendship Ring in the back of a station wagon.

Source, plus a pretty accurate list of why the show is awesome.
Seriously though, now that you don't have a boyfriend to a) hog your time and b) judge you for watching this sort of show, you can go nuts and enjoy the heart-warming transition from average book to awesome TV show.  In fact, even if you do have a fella, watch it.

5. The Perks of Being A Wallflower

This one comes quite some time after the fact, but I know a lot of people who are going through break ups right now, and I thought it was really important to finally finish this post.  I just finished this book last night after being prompted to read it by the trailer for the film.  Observe:

If you liked Catcher in the Rye or We Need to Talk about Kevin, you will love this story.  Be warned, however!  While this book will make you happy, it will also make you very very sad at times.

I think most of all, though, the book captures those essential moments in life where you know who you are and what you want.

We are infinite, in other words.

So believe in love, because that's important.  But also believe in yourself, and believe in having great friends, and good standards, and goals, and idols, and surround yourself with the things that make you happy.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Diary of An Honours Student and WINNER of Bookish Charm Giveaway

Losing Track of Time and Falling Behind

I'm not a huge fan of the fact that the keep calm slogan is turning up absolutely everywhere, but sometimes the moment calls for one of these.  Particularly when the poster speaks the truth.

There are something like five weeks left until my thesis is due.  (At least I HOPE it is five weeks!!!)  I have done three drafts of my story and one and a half of my theoretical exegesis.  I am slowly, day by day making progress...

Okay... so maybe I am watching Gilmore Girls every single day in the background but the word count goes up!  And how much fun is it to watch this:

I just want to put it on a loop and watch again and again....

All that aside, I wouldn't say that I am actually behind.  At the moment my goal is to write 1000 words a day on either project or a combination of the two, but I let myself off the hook if I only manage to write say... 400 words of text that feels like it belongs to part of a breakthrough.  Deadlines, while scary, are also useful.  I think of my deadlines like having a lid on a crate full of helium balloons.  If you want to deliver the balloons in tact, the lid is necessary.  

If you're currently doing your thesis too, or you're thinking about it, you'll know that this part of the year is the most exhilarating, stressful, tiring, intelligence-affirming emotional rollercoaster to date.  Yep, that's right, it's worse than cramming for final year exams.

First of all, there are really no guidelines.  Your supervisor can look over your work but they can't edit it for you.  They can't tell you what to write.  They can suggest what you study but not influence what you get out of it.  And they don't set the topic... at this point, you may be thinking "What on earth did I pick THAT topic for?"  And the answer is irrelevant... because too bad, your thesis is due in five weeks, sucker.  

Second of all, the weather is changing.  Some days it's beautiful and the hint of summer is in the air.  You think to yourself "Self, you've been working hard lately, why don't you take your copy of Pride and Prejudice to the park and read under a shady tree????"  (which does sound like a marvellous idea, doesn't it?)  So you do, or your go shopping, or you watch a movie or take a nap... and the next thing you know it's week 9.  Or at least you think it's week 9, because you don't have classes so you've lost track of time.  The only time that makes sense to you is November 2nd.  D-Day.

Third, things are starting to make sense.   You're writing things and they're sounding pretty professional.  You use words like heretofore.  You don't know if you're using them correctly but you're using them.  And you feel awesome.  The next day you sit down and try to recreate that feeling but all you can think about is junk food, or taking a shower, or going for a walk... (if this happens to you, don't stress, it WILL happen again, so long as you get the butt to desk chair ratio right.  Put in the hard hours, because you really don't have time to bum around waiting for the thesis muse to show up.)

If you are falling behind, it's time to suck it up.  Chair and desk?  Meet bum.  You guys should get to know each other because you're going to be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks.  Get some chill music, lots of Low GI snacks like fruits and nuts, a bottle of water and get settled.

And remember, this may not be fun, but this is the culmination of something you are passionate about and YOU WILL KICK BUTT IF YOU CHOOSE TO!

A final note of congratulations to the winners of my Bookish Charm giveaway!

The 'Write' Pendant has been won by Jade Carver of  Jade Goes with Everything

The 'I solemnly Swear I am Up To No Good' pendant goes to WrenGirl1991 of Wren's Nest 


The 'She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain' pendant goes to Kristen Bee.

Please use the contact me form to send me your postal address and I will get the prizes to you as soon as possible!  Thanks to everyone who entered.

Much love from the stressed out Thesis Writer!

Friday, 14 September 2012

How to Survive A Spending Ban

Every student knows that sometimes the wanting outruns the means.  At those times, it is advisable to put yourself on a bit of a spending ban.  Spending bans, while in the long time can help you save for BIG items like holidays, homes, cars and Christmas, can be depressing as anything while you're actually in the middle of one.  They can also be quite difficult to stick to if you are enforcing it on yourself.

If you've never been on a spending ban before, the 'rules' are:

* You set yourself a goal: either, you won't buy non essential items for a set amount of time, or you won't buy non essential items until you have reached a saving goal.
* Essential items include: food, rent, bills, personal hygiene items, school textbooks  but NOT make up, accessories, clothes, books etc.

I've put myself on a spending ban for the time being, as I've left one of my jobs in order to finish Honours.  (I'm still working one day a week at the bookshop, so I'm not a cliched starving arts student. I also still live with my parents.  Yay Mum and Dad!)  Lately, it's been far too easy to just swipe my savings card whenever I want something... and I don't know about you but something about how easy it all is diminishes how much I appreciate the item.  That's not to say that I don't love my stuff because I do, but I think you know what I mean.  Anyway, here are some ideas for how I will 'survive' the spending ban.

6 Ways to Save Money Without Depriving Yourself! 

1. "Shop the Stash"

This is a term that a lot of beauty bloggers use.  Shopping the stash means gathering together all your half used products and using one of them up instead of going out and buying more.  Want to wear red lipstick?  You own four, you don't need another one!  The added bonus of this idea is that it will clear up a lot of space in your cupboards... just don't forget, reduce, re-use, recycle!

2. Set up a Rewards System.

Can you work out what non essential item you spend most of your money on?  For me, obviously it's books.  I have devised a system whereby, instead of buying a new book every time I see one by an author I love or just one with a pretty cover or an enticing blurb, I have to read the other books I've bought first.  After all, I really wanted to read those books when I chose them, so why should another book get to jump the queue?

In the rewards system, for every ten books I finish from my to be read pile (and this does NOT include library books!) I am entitled to a new book.  I'm hoping that by the time I've read ten, however, I actually don't DESPERATELY need the one I was resisting any more anyway!

3. Make Lists

Okay, so Christmas is still four months away, but if you're anything like me, when you sit down at the end of November and try to write your wish list you have a bit of trouble remembering anything you want because it was either too long ago, or because you got in the habit of buying everything you wanted.  No wonder you always get socks and soap!

Every time you see something you think you might like, write it down.  If you decide you don't want it or you find something you love even more (this is good for things like perfume), then you just cross it off the list.  By the time Christmas comes around, voila, you have the perfect list.  Plus, you'll end up with much less clutter to add to your stash!

4. Home Cooked Meals

Guess what?  Most things that you cook can be frozen!  Instead of buying your lunch every day, why not freeze any leftovers that are hanging around after dinner and defrost them when you're hungry.  Perfect for taking to work, as a lot of places will have microwaves, or saving for after uni. (But if you're in class from 9 til 5 and don't have access to a microwave, by all means have a sausage roll.)  On the same wavelength, dig out that old travel mug and try brewing your own coffee at home for the first cup of the day.  After all, what's the point of having an expensive coffee machine if you're always going to cafes?

5. Confide in a Buddy

Is there one person you tend to go shopping with a lot?  Well, guess what... you've probably cultivated a psychological habit of spending money when you're with them.  If your shopping buddy doesn't know that you're not supposed to be spending money then the cycle is going to continue.  Tell your buddy that you are not able to shop for anything other than essential items.  This means that they can a) not invite you shopping and instead get you to do other fun free things like picnics, bike rides and dvd nights and b) be the voice of reason that asks "Do you really want to swipe your Debit Card?"

6. Host a Clothes Swap party

I can't take credit for this fabulous idea, as I got it from a magazine, but I have to have to have to have one and soon!  Give your friends plenty of notice so that they can give their cupboards a good clean out.  Then, invite everyone over, beg and borrow as many of those clothing racks on wheels as you can find, and try to have one for every guest to hang their clothes on.  Every person who brings clothes is issued "coupons" for the number of items they brought.  They can trade these coupons for clothing from other people's racks for free. If any guest wants to pick more items then they have coupons for, they can negotiate a price with the owner of the garment.

Optional: Cupcakes, Champagne and a fashion show where every girl demonstrates what they have bought to the rest of the group.  Take lots of photos.

There are lots of ways to have fun without spending tonnes of money.  In fact, I think that this experience, while hard, is an important one to have.  Give it a go.  Your bank balance will thank you, at the very least.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Australian Writing Review: Puberty Blues

By Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette
ISBN 9781742759289 (TV tie in edition)

You may more recently be aware of Kathy Lette as the author of The Boy who Fell to Earth but in 1979, she and co-author Gabrielle Carey brought out a book which was to capture the essential essence of what it was like to be a beach-combing teenager.

The book has touched the hearts of many Australians, and the new edition includes quotes from Kylie Minogue and Germaine Greer.  For the last few weeks, thousands of viewers have tuned in to channel ten to watch the television series adaptation, and have fallen in and out of love with Debbie and Sue and their whacky families.

Imagine my surprise then to discover that the book is totally different.  For a start, Debbie and Sue seem totally indoctrinated into the Greenhills mindset, and are completely blasé about drug taking and under-age sex.  At times they seem just as uneducated as the rest of the characters, and without the bad behaviour of the parents to offset this frankly frightening world of peer pressure, the book takes the reader to a depressing, yet compelling place.  I read the book in a sort of wide eyed fugue, comparing the world I was reading about to the one in which I lived, and breathing heavy sighs of relief.  The narration style is clunky and lacking in energy, peppered with confusing sexual slang occasionally explained by footnotes.  Mostly it follows Debbie's point of view, but will sometimes inexplicably switch to Sue's. Supporting characters are two dimensional and walk in and out of the plot interchangably, and sometimes counter-chronologically.

I expected this book to touch my heart and speak to the teenager still residing within me, comforting her.  Instead it made me thankful for the upbringing that I had.  The only blessing was its brevity.

Raw, humorous and honest?  More like crude, awkward and badly behaved.

Two out of five surfboards.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Diary of an Honours Student Week Five and Six

First of all... oh my gosh, week six is over.

Spring has sprung, but wouldn't it be better for all of us students if it hadn't?  The sun has come out, and I have begun to frolic like a little lamb far too often for my own liking.  The end is in sight and yet it's far too easy to just assume future-Emily will worry about that nasty thesis thing.  (And Future Emily, right before she becomes Past Emily, frequently does worry, except then she goes and makes herself endless cups of tea and all is well, except of course the thesis!)  The beginning of this week was actually remarkable UN Springlike however, with a mini cyclone style storm ripping through and preventing me from doing my laundry, and seeing as I spent so much time on the left side of my bed watching television under a blanket, perhaps it would be unfair to blame the weather!

When we last left off, I'd submitted a full second draft of my short story to one of my supervisors. Today, I must do the same with the completed first draft of the theory side of my work.  In the process of writing it, I've discovered that I actually have a more full grasp of what I am talking about, and the number of AHA! moments is comforting.  I am still, however, woefully under the word count in this portion and dismally over in the fiction!  Alas, I am giving away where my loyalties are a bit there, aren't I!  But, I printed the beast off and secured it all in order with a bull dog clip, and doesn't it look just lovely!

It's all aboard the hard work train from here though! (And apparently the terrible metaphor carriage is the only one with seats left...)  I am envisioning myself getting First Class Honours, being offered a job at a major publishing house (Oh, Ms Rambling Elimy, here's a great idea, why don't you have this job in our newly set up Perth Office??? Don't mind if I do!) and being congratulated by... oh I don't know, perhaps Channing Tatum?  Sounds excellent.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Review: Losing It by Julia Lawrinson

Those of you who have read my reviews before will know that Julia Lawrinson is one of my all time favourite YA writers.  Not only does she appear to have a stylistic and emotional range which is triple that of the normal person, but I can honestly say that once upon a time, Skating the Edge changed my life.

It won't come as a surprise then if I tell you that her latest book, Losing It, only took me two days to read, nor that I rudely requested it from the library even though someone else was already reading it.  Oops.  What can I say, if you've had it longer than a week you're just not keen enough!

Losing It seems to have an almost American Pie like premise.  Four friends make a vow to lose their virginity before Leavers (which you Eastern States readers might know as schoolies' week) and plan to compare notes on their various liaisons when they get there.  Unsurprisingly, the initial pledge is somewhat motivated by vodka, as all the best worst decisions are.  Each girl has her own personal barriers to achieving this goal, and the story is told in five parts; one from the point of view of each girl, and one final segment which centres on all of them.  Zoe, the pushy and outgoing, boy-crazy one, sets her sights on her lab partner Matty when it seems apparent that a) he's a shy and nice guy so obviously he would jump at the opportunity to... well, jump Zoe and b) that resident school hot ticket Adam Lenello isn't going to disengage from tonguing the popular girls anytime soon.  Abby, a conservative shy-girl with a whole lot of emotional and religious baggage also finds herself gunning for Matty.  After a family incident, she runs away and meets him at the park; realising that talking to him makes her feel better, Abby decides that she'd like to do a little more than talk, but soon discovers it doesn't make her feel any better.  Mala, strangely not uber-religious but still bound to house arrest by strict Greek parents actually does have a thing for Matty and engineers a devious plot to get him.  It goes horribly wrong, with hilarious results.  In the final section, Matty meets the beautiful Bree at a popular kids' party and they decide to get out of there. But Bree (who funnily enough is similar in both characterisation and naming as the Bee/Bridget character from Ann Brashares' The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants) has a serious impediment to getting the deed done, despite the pact being her idea in the first place.  You'll have to read it to find out what though, because I won't be the one to spoil it for you.

Now either the book is superbly plotted or I am psychic, but I found myself thinking as I read the first section (Zoe's) "Gee, wouldn't it be funny if all four of the girls hooked up with Matty!"  The fact that the idea was ingeniously sown into my impressionable brain is testament to Lawrinson's knack for dramatic foreshadowing.  My one gripe is that the ending seems somewhat rushed.  Okay, so all the girls have documented their first times or lack of them, and they meet at leavers to share, but what about the other stuff?  How do Matty and Mala get to be together after what happened with her parents and grandmother?  Does Bree come to terms with her secret?  Does Abby forgive her horrible brother and make peace with his new child-bride?  And will Zoe ever stop being such a heinous bitch?  (Can you tell I liked her least?)  The final chapter races for some sort of happy ending which while soft and fuzzy, is less than realistic.

Losing It is populated with familiar people, from the Scotch College boys who refuse to acknowledge a world outside of PLC girls to couples getting frisky in cars at Bold Park.  It is a heartily enjoyable book, slightly less dark than Skating the Edge and Bye, Beautiful but honest and thought provoking all the same.

I give this book four out of five backpacks full of prophylactics, and recommend it for ages 15 and up (maybe a mature 13 and up) and for the young at heart.