The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Publisher : e-penguin
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Francesca Spinelli's life changes course when she has to move from her all-girls school to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys school that has just opened its doors to a handful of girls. The majority of her best friends have all gone off to another school together leaving Francesca to start again with a group of 'misfits'. However, things get worse when Francesca's mum doesn't get out of bed one morning. In fact, she doesn't get out of bed for most of Frankie's first year at her new school - the school she was so desperate for Frankie to attend. Over the course of this year, Frankie experiences truths about love, loss and friendship like never before. 

I LOVED THIS BOOK! I've been trying to get hold of a copy for quite a while now because I wanted to read it before The Piper's Son so since about 2011 - actually I just checked Goodreads and I read The Piper's Son at exactly the same time of year - spooky. Maybe I get Australian cravings in April? I have been watching a lot of Home and Away recently. Anyway, I put it to the back of my mind a little bit. However, the other day on this post on YA Highwy, Leila listed it as one of their re-reads, which prompted me to check Amazon again and low and behold it's now on Kindle. Hurrah! 

I think I was always going to love this book because like Frankie I moved school in year twelve (which I believe is the equivalent of Australian year eleven). Also, like Frankie, my new school was an all-boys school that accepted a handful of girls. So much of what Melina Marchetta writes about the general school day seemed scarily familiar. Unlike Frankie, my bestest friends moved to this school with me too, however we also managed to make friends with a group similar to the gang in the book. This quote sums everything up perfectly:

"I love this school. I love how uncomplicated it is and the fact that we come from almost two hundred suburbs so we have to work hard at finding something to hold us together. There's not a common culture or social group. There's a whole lot of individuality where it doesn't matter that we're not all going to be heart surgeons and it doesn't matter whether you sing in a choir, or play a piano accordion, or lose dismally at Rugby League or are victorious in basketball. I remember a poem we're studying. I think it's Bruce Dawe. About constants in a world of variables. That's what this place is, I guess."

Melina Marchetta knows how to weave a powerful story. As in life, nothing is ever simple or easily fixed in her characters' lives. A myriad of emotions are intertwined in every scene meaning there's no 'goodies' and 'baddies', no one way to feel about the situation. Her stories just feel so real with a dusting of something extra that makes them sparkle. Frankie's life is falling to pieces because of her mother's depression but she has to keep moving forward, for the sake of her little brother, for the sake of her father. She puts so much effort into just getting through the day that she doesn't have time to pretend to be anything she's not anymore and because of this little things occur that might not have beforehand. Then those little things grow and turn into huge things like suddenly finding she has a group of more than friends - people who would go above and beyond for her. Or suddenly realising she's fallen in love. Or understanding that her dad is who he is and she wouldn't change him for the world. This is life. 

The threads of truth that run through Saving Francesca takes it to the next level - suddenly it's not just another teen book. I'm not a crier but the combination of this, the youthful vibrance of the characters, plus my own nostalgia (and the fact that I still can't stop thinking of Beasts of the Southern Wild) meant I shed a few tears at the end. Frankie is such a bright character and her voice will stay with me for a long time. In my head, I have a small collection of books I want to pass onto my cousin when  she's old enough and Saving Francesca has now joined the list. 

LinkedIn Woes

Thursday, April 25, 2013

So, as I've said previously, I am job hunting at the moment. It has only been three years since I graduated but so much has changed in terms of online presence that I have had to seriously reconsider how I approach finding a job, which brings me to LinkedIn.

I had a LinkedIn profile of sorts whilst in my final year but got rid of it maybe a year or so ago because I didn't use it. However, yesterday I came across some advice on a Guardian Careers Q&A that said:

Are you on LinkedIn, Sophia? If it isn't already, please do make sure you have an up to date profile which reflects your professional experience. We are hearing more and more that employers are discounting applicants who don't have active profiles.

Apart from the initial shock at seeing my name (it was not in response to me), I was a little concerned after seeing this. So, all night I weighed up the pros and cons of LinkedIn. Ok, it's great that there are job listings, networks to join and so on but I also read it is expected of you to add a photo now. A commenter on another site said not having a photo on LinkedIn is like looking at pictureless real estate listings - you automatically assume something is wrong. Fair enough, I guess, this not going to lead to unconscious discrimination by some recruiters? I'm sure there aren't many out there who will actively avoid candidates who of a certain race or age or gender - if you're qualified, you're qualified, right? But what if you've sent your CV to a recruiter and they like what they see on paper, so they check your LinkedIn profile, come across your photo, and in the back of their mind they go 'hmm, not sure they'll fit in actually' and decide to pass without meeting you. 

I'm really not sure what to do. Will the odd chance of successfully securing a job outweigh the possibility that the above scenario might occur? 

Make Like Betty And Grab A Gimlet

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's Mad Men Wednesday and judging by the titles of the posts/tweets I have been avoiding, it seems like we're on for a good one tonight. At first, I was a little jealous of our cousins across the pond what with getting Game of Thrones, Mad Men and The Good Wife all in one night. However, I have learnt to appreciate having my favourite shows spread out across the week. Anyway, there's not much time for any more words today as I am trying to revamp my CV before Mad Men. Here are my favourite adverts of late:

Cancer Research Race For Life 2013 - Defiant (Mother)

This is a really powerful advert and makes me even more motivated to raise as much money as possible this year.

Netflix - You Know What We Do (agency unknown)

Catchy song - memorable advert. Whenever it comes on I want to sign up to Netflix again but will hold out until it grows after last year's poor offering.

Heineken - Champions League Final (Wieden + Kennedy)

Again, the music makes the advert. Even though the final is here in London, I'm not terribly bothered this year. 

Hooked by Liz Fichera

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Publisher: MIRA Ink
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 3/5

Fred Oday spends most of her free time hitting balls at the driving range whilst waiting for her dad to finish his shift at the golf club. Fred's generally quiet life is disrupted when the coach for the school golf team discovers her talent and offers her a place on the team. Fred has to weigh up whether taking the spot is a good idea because: firstly, she has to take the place of an existing team member; secondly, the team is comprised of the rich, white boys who either ignore her or show outright hostility towards her and the other Native American students. Ryan Berenger is one of these boys. However, Ryan has his own issues to deal with - he just cannot seem to please anybody, from his best friends, to his parents, and then the new girl on the golf team. Over the course of a semester, Fred and Ryan both learn that you cannot judge a book by its cover. 

I bought this book because just after my first ever golf lesson, I was listening to a +Clear Eyes, Full Shelves podcast and Hooked was mentioned - perfect timing. When I read the synopsis, I thought it sounded like an interesting read because I can't say I've ever heard of a YA book with golf as the featured sport. We've had girls fighting to get onto football and ice hockey teams (Dairy Queen, Catching Jordan, Bittersweet) but never golf. Also, it's interesting to note that all of these sporting girls in male dominated sports have, what are generally considered, masculine or unisex names (D.J, Jordan, Hudson, Fred). Anyway, I really enjoyed Hooked. It's a quiet story with simple but universal themes - don't judge, do what you love, be kind to one another. 

I don't know very much about Native American culture but I loved the imagery and the poems and blessings that peppered Fred's side of the story. As a result, her voice came across as quite lyrical. The end scene in particular was very moving and I could picture it clearly. Fred was different (in a good way) to other sporty, teen protagonists. She was quiet but determined and she didn't whine even when the others treated her terribly. Her love for her family and heritage was evident in all of her actions. On the other hand, Ryan was a little more cliched but his true character shone through in the final act. To be honest, this is really Fred's novel - Ryan provided a peek into the not so perfect world of the rich folk on the other side of town but most of us could have imagined this without his voice. However, I wasn't as against a dual narrative in this story as I was with Eleanor & Park. 

I'm glad I read this and I will certainly read another book by Liz Fichera - hopefully it has a less embarrassing cover! 

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Friday, April 19, 2013

Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4/5

Zoe has done something terrible. Something awful. The weight of the terrible, awful thing has become too much to bear for poor, fifteen year old Zoe, so she pours her heart and soul out in letters to somebody. This somebody has also done something awfully terrible - perhaps even worse than Zoe. This somebody is on death row. Over the course of a few months, Zoe confesses everything to the prisoner in an attempt to gain closure, to begin to contemplate moving on from a time in her life filled with love and heartbreak.

Ketchup Clouds is a special book (Emma, if you ever come across this, thanks for such a great birthday present!) The story and the characters are all a little bit familiar but there's a certain spark to this book that makes you realise 'oh, that's why it won the Waterstones Children's Prize'. Obviously, the concept helps distinguish this teen novel from all the others - I can only think of one other book that I've read with a death row inmate (Take Me There by Carolee Dean) and certainly not another British one. 

I liked that the three central characters were relatively normal. Nobody was glittering and shining, nobody was 'unattainable' (yes, Max was supposed to be the best looking boy in the school but only in the context of teenage girls at secondary school). They were just ordinary people, I could think of many of my old schoolmates who were like these characters. They all sounded and acted like teenagers, which is always a good thing in a teen book. 

I also liked that the family were dealing with regular problems and nothing was tied up in a bow at the end. Dot was an amazing supporting character. There were quite a number of characters but it didn't seem overwhelming, in fact, it just helped enforce the realism. 

Zoe's guilt was palpable throughout and kudos to Annabel Pitcher because it took me quite a while to vaguely figure out what she might have done. When all is finally revealed, you just want to give Zoe a big hug. 

Overall, Ketchup Clouds was an interesting take on a tried and tested formula, mainly what could have been another tedious love triangle - perhaps it is time to give the love triangle/quadrangle a rest? Anyway, this book reminded me, in tone, a little of The Sky is Everywhere and that, my friends, is not a bad thing at all. 

How about a Manhattan?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's that time of the week again - Mad Men Wednesday. So, another bout of adverts? Yes? Ok, well in the spirit of Mad Men we will start with the drinks:

Southern Comfort - Whatever's Comfortable (Wieden & Kennedy NY)

Such a great advert for my favourite tipple. It's an old advert (think it premiered last year) but it has returned to our screens just in time for summer. 

Also see Stella Artois - Quest (Mother). I love their adverts. They're always so classy. Very European.

Pepsi - Beyonce Mirrors (180 LA)

Beyonce and I might have had a falling out this year due to her "leaked" track and her comments on feminism but she's making it up to me with this advert. This is the Beyonce I love- the world class performer with a catchy but not too try-hard song. Fingers crossed her live show is more like this advert than that track.

Sony Xperia Z - Sound, Vision, Colour and Detail (McCann London)

This advert has been out for a while but I always stop to watch it. It's visually stunning and is elevated by the use the David Bowie snippet. 

RTW - Favourite Poem

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic: April is National Poetry Month! Share your favorite poem(s) or poet.

I know I said I wouldn't do these anymore but I just had to for this week. Over the weekend, the papers published the order of service for Baroness Thatcher's funeral today and included the Wordsworth poem in full (Ode: On Intimations of Immortality). It got me thinking about poems that had stuck with me and then this RTW came up so, here it goes:

Night Mail by W H Auden

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
 Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
 Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
 The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
 Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
 The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
 Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
 Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
 Snorting noisily as she passes
 Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

 Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
 Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
 Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
 They slumber on with paws across.
 In the farm she passes no one wakes,
 But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

 Dawn freshens, the climb is done.
 Down towards Glasgow she descends
 Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes,
 Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
 Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
 All Scotland waits for her:
 In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs
 Men long for news.

 Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
 Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
 Receipted bills and invitations
 To inspect new stock or visit relations,
 And applications for situations
 And timid lovers' declarations
 And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
 News circumstantial, news financial,
 Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
 Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
 Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
 Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
 Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
 Notes from overseas to Hebrides
 Written on paper of every hue,
 The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
 The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
 The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
 Clever, stupid, short and long,
 The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

 Thousands are still asleep
 Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
 Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's:
 Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
 Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
 They continue their dreams,
 And shall wake soon and long for letters,
 And none will hear the postman's knock
 Without a quickening of the heart,
 For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?


I don't really read poetry anymore so when I think of my favourite poems, I often go back to those I learnt as a child. I remember learning Night Mail with my tutor when I was about nine or ten (it was just before the 11+ if I was with my tutor) and we made the sounds of the train and such like to catch the rhythm. Other poems I remember:

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll - I think I encountered this poem in almost every year of my schooling. Quite rightly. 

Break, Break, Break by Alfred Lord Tennyson - It's terrible considering the meaning behind the poem but...I can't help but laugh every time I read / hear this poem because I will always remember my teacher's overly dramatic reading that had us in stitches at the back of the class. 

On the Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan - I think I learnt this before Night Mail. We knew it by heart and it never failed to make us laugh.

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

Friday, April 12, 2013

Publisher: Tinder Press
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4/5

It's 1976. Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta he is popping out to get a paper, as he does every morning. However, Robert does not return. With the help of her grown up children, scattered near and far, Gretta sets about piecing together the mystery of Robert's disappearance and a host of family secrets are forced into the open. 

Wow. I loved this novel. This is my first Maggie O'Farrell and there's no denying that she's a gifted storyteller. It just goes to show, the simplest idea can make for the best story when handled properly. Oftentimes, a book has a brilliant, original premise but then it goes off the rails somewhere near the middle (like The Age of Miracles) but this seemingly common plot was given a new lease of life by Maggie O'Farrell. I actually wanted someone to read it to me (preferably in an Irish accent) and I usually dislike audiobooks (mainly because I associate them with going to sleep). 

First of all, the characters were so very vivid and vibrant and whole. I think I once heard that one of the differences between Pixar films and other animated films was that the Pixar characters had a sense of weight to them, which added to the realness (please correct me if I just made that up). Anyway, the characters in Instructions for a Heatwave had weight - they were alive. Even the children and the characters who were not actually present. Gretta might be one of my favourite characters in a long time - partly because she reminded me of my own grandmother who's name is very similar. I truly felt for Monica too - such a complex character but I think many eldest daughter's will relate to her. 

Secondly, the setting: the heatwave of 1976. As Maggie O'Farrell mentions in the notes at the end of the book, the heatwave is part of our nation's collective memory. My mum always talks about how they gave out ice lollies during her exams. You could feel the heaviness, the closeness, the irritability caused by this drought and Robert's disappearance. 

Again, as with Eleanor & Park, there was the theme of identity - first generation/ second generation issues. Gretta's thoughts about the treatment of the Irish in England made me think of my grandparents' stories. They frequently speak of the signs back then proclaiming "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish". Then Gretta's anger at the way her entitled children have grown up, not knowing the kind of prejudice she experienced but complaining nonetheless. Yes, they got teased at school but it wasn't quite the same. This whole internal argument on pages 258 - 259 definitely required pause for thought. 

I could go on for ages about this novel but I really couldn't do it justice. I would just be saying 'I loved this...I loved that' for pages so I will stop here and suggest you get a copy for your summer holidays. 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Publisher: Orion
Format: Nook book
Rating: 3/5

The year is 1986. Eleanor is the new girl. Park is just managing to fly under the radar. At least until Eleanor decides to sit next to him on the school bus. Over the course of a school year, against all odds, Eleanor and Park become friends and fall in love over a shared appreciation of music and comic books.

It took a while to get into this book but in the end I appreciated Rainbow Rowell tackling some big issues wrapped up in a story about finding love in the bleakest of times. First of all: inter-racial relationships. I cannot think of many books that I have read featuring inter-racial couples. Diversity in YA in general isn't that great but that's a HUGE topic that I shall leave to the professionals. 

Rainbow Rowell managed to subtly open a dialogue about what defines us. Park is American with Korean and Irish heritage. Despite living a fairly 'normal' American life, he spends a lot of time pondering his Korean side - perhaps because he is closer to his mother. The scene where he admitted to not feeling 'sexy' because there aren't many Asian crossover, male heartthrobs was heartbreaking but there was a thread of truth. I can totally see where he is coming from as I think most people who cannot see themselves reflected in the media have this feeling at least once in a while. Park's questioning of why Eleanor found him attractive was depressing but then again didn't he have a right to know why? There was an interesting debate the other day on Celebitchy after something Viola Davis said along with continued interest in Michael Fassbender's inter-racial relationships- the ladies were debating how big a difference there is between preference and fetish (Read if here. For what it's worth, I agree with Kaiser). I kept thinking about this debate whilst reading Eleanor & Park- their relationship, Park's parents' relationships. Perhaps Rainbow Rowell wanted to challenge us in this area? Eleanor never really mentioned her Danish heritage, except at Christmas when confronted with her step-father and his demand for an American Christmas dinner with pumpkin pie. It made me think, what pushes us over the edge and makes us pull out our inner heritage? 

Rainbow Rowell also sensitively handled Eleanor's horrible family situation without turning it into an after-school special type story. Her construction of Eleanor's world was more along the lines of 'this is how it is- what can you do?' This added to the poignancy that underpinned the story. 

None of the characters were particularly likeable- except for perhaps Park's mother, Mindy- and a few were unnescessary. For example, Cal and Kim - I didn't get that part of the story. It seemed to be more filler than anything else, which was a shame. Also, I'm usually a big fan of dual narration but I didn't like it here. I would've liked to hear just one story and have it go into more detail - probably Eleanor's first and then perhaps a sequel, a year on, with Park. He'd definitely have more to explore internally and externally after meeting Eleanor, making his character a lot more three-dimensional. 

However, Eleanor & Park was an interesting read. It was a little bit more than your run of the mill, YA love story because it was more about friendship amidst adversity. All you need is that one person to send you a half smile and BOOM - day made. 

Where's My Old Fashioned?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I've always been a little bit obsessed with adverts. I remember at primary school, my friend and I would spend ages reciting our favourite ad's and coming up with our own. Perhaps I am pursuing the wrong career path...Anyway, in honour of tonight's UK premiere of Mad Men season six, here are a few that have stuck in my head this month: 

Ambrosia - Pudding (JWT)

I can't even eat any kind of Ambrosia (Alpro fake custard for me) but I just love the feel of this advert: everybody coming together; the voice over; the way the voiceover says "pud-ding" because that's how we say it in our house; oh and most importantly, for me, the music (kudos to whoever chose it/commissioned it/ composed it). So sweet. It's a very warm advert, perfect for this weather (although it's warming up!!). It reminds me of last year's Rice Krisipies advert that ran through the summer of rain. Speaking of...

Kellogg's Rice Krispies - Days Out (Leo Burnett London)

Aw, it's just too cute, isn't it? Again, it's the music that does it for me. However, their best advert of recent times was definitely the Snap, Crackle, Pop retro sounding one (funnily enough it says the music was composed by the composer of The Triplets of Belleville, a soundtrack I will always associate with So You Think You Can Dance). 

EDF - Together We Are Beautiful (AMV BBDO)

Finally, for now, this one. I didn't like the little character the first time round (its name is Zingy, apparently) and nobody is feeling like being friends with the energy companies right now but I had a chuckle when this came on. Mainly because I LOVE this song. It reminds me of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie and my attempt to turn the conservatory into a roller disco-sans roller skates. 


Completely unrelated, if you love fashion, I implore you to visit GFY and view this year's "One Fugging Moment"- it had me in stitches and I could not get the song One Shining Moment out of my head. Fug Madness really cheered me up this month- and I started actually watching the basketball too!

Beat's On Repeat, Beating On Me

Monday, April 8, 2013

I've had two songs on repeat recently. The first is by Ariana Grande of Victorious and other tween television shows (I think). I'm not much of a Victorious fan- or any of the newer Nick/Disney shows for that matter. They seem to lack the subtle nuances of the shows I watched growing up. Everything's so loud and sometimes the humour is a little too mean spirited for my liking but that's for another day. Anyway, Ariana's latest track is a bit of a departure from her Nickelodeon style. All weekend, we have been saying she sounds a lot like a young Mariah Carey in the beginning. The sound is very 90's, which I love and there's a nice little rappy bit from Mac Miller to add to the Ariana-all-grown-up sound. 

The second song is by Sevyn Streeter. I remember seeing the video on 106 & Park at some point but didn't pay much attention. However, Ariana's song reminded me a little of this one in terms of the 90's, R&B, fun fair sound (what was it about fun fairs in videos back then? Remember that Jordan Knight song?!). Further investigation reveals both songs were produced by Harmony Samuels so that makes sense. 

I have also been trying to listen to some Pharrell tracks in honour of his birthday last week. How is that man 40 years old?! He hasn't aged at all. Here's one of my favourites (the break, with that bassline, halfway through, is perfection).


What are you listening to at the moment?

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Friday, April 5, 2013

Publisher: W H Allen
Format: Hardback
Rating: 5/5

I'm not really sure where to start...This book was so very enlightening and inspiring. It was just what I needed to read during this time in my life.

There's no denying it, being a woman in the workplace is difficult (even more so when you add race into the equation. There's nothing quite like going for an interview and seeing your interviewer's face falter before plastering on the fake smile when they realise the candidate, who on paper seems white or Asian at a push, is in fact black. But that's a story for another day). However, with the likes of Beyonce and Taylor Swift squirming and back peddling with talk of 'extreme feminism' and what not, I think Lean In is a must read for everyone to get an idea of what women are battling with on a daily basis. This book is helpful for anyone at any stage in their career. The standout points for me:

Career jungle gym rather than career ladder
This notion really resonates with the modern working world where the idea of a job for life is no longer the norm. Although, from personal experience, it appears that some people haven't quite moved with the times. Even though I graduated two and a half years ago, during my current job search I am classed as wanting to 'change careers' when in actuality I am just trying to do what I have always wanted to do. How can a twenty four year old be changing careers? I've only just started! Which leads me to the next standout point..

18 month plan + life goals

Sheryl Sandberg advises you need to figure out what to do whilst striving for your lifetime goals, which needn't be career orientated at all. You might want to travel the world, have a family, or even write a musical (ahem). I would love to hammer this point home to our sixth formers because here in the UK (perhaps depending on which type of school you went to) you are supposed to go to university with a pretty clear idea of what career you intend on pursuing in the end. So, at eighteen, you start a degree in medicine or law or dentistry, rather than exploring various disciplines before getting down to business at graduate school. I have always been opposed to this pressure placed on young adults to make such important, complex decisions at such a young age, and I vaguely remember giving a passionate speech about it during my GCSE English oral exam. At the end of the day, the system leaves you feeling like a failure in your twenties when you realise that, actually, you do not want to be a lawyer or a marketing assistant or whatever your degree was in, and by jove they make it damn hard for you to change.

So, I appreciate that Sheryl Sandberg brought it home that you need to have short and long term goals. I like to think of the whole shebang like the London underground during rush hour: you squeeze into a bursting carriage (someone might make a space for you or even help you on if you're lucky) regardless of where the tube is actually heading because you know you need to keep moving. You can change in two or three stops and get onto another line- no biggie. You can even go back to the start. Either way, you'll eventually get to your destination.

The nature of mentors
This was really interesting. I am guilty of doing what Sheryl Sandberg says many young people have  done to her. For some reason, we feel like we need a mentor, therefore we need to hunt one down and fire a million (vague) questions at them. However, Sheryl Sandberg says a 'mentor' will pick their 'mentee' without needing to add such labels. A senior figure will naturally gravitate towards someone who they see has potential - not the other way around. This really hit home for me. So, I look forward to the day when I finally get a job somewhere (!) and someone sees it fit to take an interest in me and my career, 

Obviously, there's so much more packed into this little book but these points really struck a chord with me. One more thing I will say is something Sheryl Sandberg touched on towards the end: even broaching the topic of gender at work can be a minefield in the legal/HR sense. Whilst reading Lean In,  I asked a family member (who works in a male dominated, finance environment) if there were any women on the desk these days. He said yes, one. I repeated what Sheryl Sandberg said about senior men helping out junior women. He said no way Jose, that's a tribunal case waiting to happen. Now, I have absolutely no idea how this can be solved but as Sheryl Sandberg says, it is an issue that really has to be solves as it is a huge stumbling block for the advancement of women. What is going to happen to that one woman on the desk? There are no other women there to guide her and all the men are (perhaps quite rightly) scared of a sexual harassment case. 

Overall, as you can see, I found this book extremely helpful. It's not a recipe book for success or anything ( I would be dubious of anybody who offered such a work) but there are some useful tips and tools and, most importantly, an inside look at what is really going on in the workplace. 

Endless Summer (The Boys Next Door) by Jennifer Echols

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 4/5

Summer loving, or what? This was a cracking two-in-one read - perfect for battling away the winter blues. Although, now I want it to be sunny even more. I probably shouldn't be reading Instructions for a Heatwave then, should I? 

Lori and Bill McGillicuddy (what a brilliant surname) spend their summers working and wakeboarding with their next door neighbours, and besties, the Vader brothers. In the first book, Lori is about to turn sixteen and decides it is high time she sheds her tomboy image and embraces her femininity. Also, she wants to impress Sean Vader - the middle brother who manages to get away with being a bit of a prat thanks to his looks and charm. However, flaunting her new found girlishness is not enough to get Sean's attention as he has eyes for another. Lori enlists the help of best friend and youngest Vader, Adam, to help her make Sean jealous. Needless to say things get more than a little complicated - oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive! Lori ends up having to truly examine her feelings and the reliability of her memory when it comes to the Vaders. The second book is of a similar vein but certain roles are reversed. 

I've seen these books around and I'm definitely a Jennifer Echols fan but I've never gotten around to purchasing them. However, I came across a post on love triangles on +Clear Eyes, Full Shelves and decided to give it a go. I'm so glad I did because I really, really enjoyed the characters in this book. I actually laughed out loud many times, particularly during the first one (and whenever a character did an '...or what' exclamation. That is so something you do as a teenager. Well, we did anyway). The banter between the friends and siblings is full of life and extremely authentic. Lori is so funny and her voice sounds like a real sixteen year old. I thought the boys were all written very well too. Jennifer Echols wasn't scared to make them brattish and unlikeable at times- Edward Cullen they were not. The first book is definitely stronger than the second plot wise but the characters and the setting more than make up for that shortcoming. 

If you're looking for a fun, hilarious but sweet summer novel (perhaps a lighthearted alternative to The Summer I Turned Pretty) and haven't entered Lori McGillicuddy's world yet, I think you should go and get a copy. In the meantime, I'm going to get The Ex Games - a setting more appropriate for our current weather. 

Snow in April? Are you having a laugh?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The weather is STILL awful over here despite us having lost an hour last weekend signalling that we are well and truly in springtime. Obviously, this is causing a bit of a problem in the old fashion department. I haven't updated my wardrobe for a while because technically, it's not winter but on the other hand I can't exactly slip on the old Michael Kors flats to run around in the snow/sleet/whatever it is that's flying around out there right this minute. 

So without further ado, here's a list of what I would like versus what I should get to cope with this odd weather. 

1. Chinese Laundry     2. Jenni Kayne

I love these d'orsay flats...

1. Isabel Marant   2. Isabel Marant     3. All Saints     4. Zara
But most likely need a sturdy ankle boot

Springtime is all about the Breton stripes and a lightweight trench for when it cools down in the evening...
1. J Crew   2. Anthropologie

...but I still need a coat like this. 

Canada Goose

Finally, we should all be thinking about Pimms o'clock...

...but would probably benefit from these.

Ridiculous, no? Come on sunshine, pay us Britons a visit for a few days and cheer us up. Goodness knows we need it.