Book Review: The Girls

The Girls by Emma Cline

You guys, I recently finished The Girls, and I have a lot of feelings about it.

If you haven’t read anything about it yet, The Girls is Emma Cline’s debut novel. There has been a lot of hype around it – Cline is 27 years old, published in the Paris Review and sold The Girls as part of a three book deal, for $2 million when she was 25. That’s TWO MILLION DOLLARS. AT 25 YEARS OF AGE. The film rights were also sold right before she sealed her book deal and people (the internet) just can’t stop talking about The Girls – and for good reason.

I found it a slow read to start with, reflecting the languid summer of the 1969 setting, but the writing was so beautifully crafted that I couldn’t help but stick with it. Cline perfectly captures the feeling of being on the outer, finally arriving in the inner circle and all not being what it seems – grass is always greener etc. There are touches of The Virgin Suicides, a hint of Sofia Coppola and you can see the film in your mind, overlaid with a sepia hue.

The novel pick up the pace about two thirds in, hurtling towards the inevitable climax. If you’re at all familiar with the Manson murders, you’ll know what’s coming. If you’re not familiar with Charles Manson et al, I suggest a skim of their Wikipedia entry before you read The Girls. It’s not 100% essential, but you’ll probably enjoy the novel a bit more if you know where it’s headed. Cline’s language and pacing does rely a little on the reader knowing what is coming, but like I said – you’ll enjoy it even if you can’t bring yourself to read up a little.

The novel perfectly captures the feeling of a languorous summer, passing by at a lonely pace. I found myself frustrated with Evie, the main character, but I think that’s part of what Cline is trying to do  – to transport the reader back to the uncertainty of teenage-hood, wanting nothing more than to be included, know her place in the world and connect with someone on a deeper level than the superficial interactions of everyday life. In this case, it manifests in Evie falling in with a crowd of girls (big surprise) who are lost and brainwashed by a Charles Manson stand in.

The more distance I’ve had from this novel (I finished it about ten days ago), the more I marvel at it. I haven’t stopped thinking about it and the moment in which Evie realised how very wrong things could have gone for her. It’s stuck with me in a way that books rarely do anymore – especially given my initial lukewarm reaction to it! I’m now recommending it left, right and centre.

What have you read lately? x

Two Relaxing Skincare Products

Relaxing Skincare Girl for Granted

There are times when a girl’s just gotta look after her skin. Similarly, there are times when only a mini facial at home will do – whether due to a dwindling bank account, zero time available or that can’t deal with another human being feeling. Often these circumstances arrive all at once and there’s nothing to do but bang on a face mask, look a creature from the black lagoon and take ten for yourself.

Enter these products. The Origins Original Skin Retexturising Mask with Rose Clay (also available here) is my favourite face mask at the moment. It has all the oil and gunk expunging abilities of my usual go to charcoal mask (also available here), but is gentler and doesn’t do that so tight I can’t move my face thing that charcoal masks often do. It also has amazing exfoliating beads that kind of burst when you remove the mask. I only use it every few weeks, but with the glory results it delivers, I really need to amp it up.

The second product that I reach for when I want to do a mini facial is the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater (also available here). I feel like facial mists are everywhere at the moment, but this one is worth the hype. The rose smell alone is super refreshing, and when I flew to New York in July I was spritzing all over the place (well, at least at the beginning and end of each flight). I also use it to set my make up from time to time, especially if I’m after a dewy finish and have used liquid products. At $17, it’s a little luxury that won’t break the bank.

That said, I’m always on the hunt for recommended skincare prods that won’t break the bank – are there any you’ve tried that I shouldn’t miss? x

PS. If you’re after more skincare recommendations, head this way for winter products, or here for summer.


What I’m Reading Vol. 1

What I'm Reading - Girl for Granted

Blog: From Roses // Book: The Girls, Emma Cline // Magazine: Collective Hub

My old reading habits have somewhat fallen away this year – a move, new job and a general lifestyle overhaul will do that to you. Recently I’ve been looking for that mental retreat and I’ve been making the effort to pick up more books and spend some time digging into the things that really interest me. I thought highlighting what I’ve been reading might be a nice ease into a new week.

Blog: From Roses

This super cute little blog came highly recommended by a friend. I’ve spent so much of this weekend digging into Rebecca’s archives and enjoying her take on beauty, blogging and life. She has a really balanced perspective on blogging and her imagery is so soft and gorgeous. Bookmark this one for an afternoon with a cup of tea!

Book: The Girls, Emma Cline

The Girls has had so much buzz around it, and I’m not sure if the hype has built it up too much. I’m really enjoying it and of course it is a beautifully written novel, but it’s maybe not as captivating as I hoped it would be. If you’re going to pick it up (and even though I’m so-so on it, the prose is so beautiful I would still recommend it), I also suggest skimming the Wikipedia entry on Charles Manson. I’ll leave you with that tease.

Magazine: Collective Hub

I’ve been reading Collective Hub magazine for a couple of years now. Everything about this magazine is motivating – from the articles themselves to the art direction and the story of how the mag came to be. While my magazine buying habit has been given up (a natural progression to digital media, I think), the Collective is the one magazine I buy religiously. Before the move to my current apartment, I regrettably threw out two year’s worth of the magazine – idiot. Buy it, read it, hold onto it forever.

Enjoy your week! x

sunday reading 210816

new york city // girl for granted

Hi! It’s been so long and I’m sorry for that. Life has gotten in the way – there’s been a lot going on the last few months, namely a new job, and new living arrangement and a rather spontaneous trip to New York! Don’t mind me, deciding to travel halfway around the world in two weeks time. NBD. (Of course I was dying inside as I tried to organise flights, accommodation, foreign currency, leave from my job, etc, etc).

To ease myself back into this whole blogging caper, here’s some reading for your Sunday:

1// Just finished reading Truly, Madly, Guilty, and The Singles Game, and onto what is probably the most anticipated book of the northern hemisphere’s summer – The Girls by Emma Cline. I’ll try to review Truly, Madly, Guilty and The Singles Game but so far, so good with The Girls!

2// Love reading how writers got their start in their careers – this one’s a goodie from a New York Times Style writer.

3// I replaced my much-loved white Converse this week. I did think about going for a pair of Stan Smith’s, but there’s something about how chunky they are that I don’t like on me, and I’m not sure how much longer the trend towards them will last. White canvas sneaks, however, are timeless.

4// Zoe Foster-Blake’s daily routine (!!)

5// Ok, so we’re halfway through the month but it’s never too late to start reading. Grace’s August reading list is the perfect place to start.

6// Classic Australian recipes for a taste of home, no matter where you are. For those of you who aren’t Australian, start with the lamingtons. Trust me.

7// I only I had a spare $6k lying around, I’d snap up this Dolce and Gabbana number, then spend another small fortune frolicking the Amalfi Coast while wearing it. Until I make my millions…

8// Let’s tour the townhouse of my dreams – all together now, and sigh.

9// A delicious looking miso and sweet potato soup to make this weekend.

10// And back where we started – a really insightful interview with Liane Moriarty, author of Truly, Madly, Guilty, Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret!

Hope you’re having a great weekend – what are you up to? x

Autumn Wardrobe Essentials


Country Road Star Knit // Country Road black Carpenter Skirt // Country Road Self-Stripe Shirt // Country Road Black Jeggings // Portmans Alice Skirt // Sportsgirl Bronte Peeptoe Bootie // Wittner Ralex Heels // Country Road singlets // Sheike Heatwave Knit Top

As the weather turns and the leaves brown, the mornings have become crisp and the air fresh. I usually love summer and the warm weather, but recently I’ve been excited for the change of season. Autumn is cozy layers, warm tea and freshly baked treats, dark berry colours, the smell of slow cooked stew pervading the house, and long afternoons curled up with a book or Netflix. Bring. It. On.

The dawn of Autumn is also an excuse to shop, and I’ve been doing just that – stocking up on versatile pieces to see me through the colder months. Resisting the temptation to buy has been difficult lately, with all the sales on at my favourite stores. These pieces are all great for layering, and work well together. My aesthetic is generally one of simple layers in neutral colours, and this Autumn’s buys are no exception. I’ve been enjoying bringing them out one by one, working these pieces amongst the clothes I already own. When shopping for anything, I always try to consider how the item will fit into my existing wardrobe. Of course, some things I’ll just love and have to have, no matter how frivolous. But for the most part, I only buy something if I can see how it fits into what I already own.

I’ve also nabbed a couple of basics while sales have been on – in particular, the above Country Road black jeggings (my fourth pair – they wear well, but I wear them multiple times a week for work), and the Country Road singlets, which are useful for layering and extra warmth. I’m hoping this cut will work under racerback tops – will let you know how I go!

Anything you’ve got your eye on for the changing seasons – be it Autumn or Spring? x

Three Easy Recipes

Confession time though: I used to be a terrible cook. Like, really really bad. Luckily, there was something about being forced to cook for myself that meant I had to get better, and do it quick. I now consider myself pretty handy in the kitchen, and cook most of my meals myself. I don’t eat out that often and actually prefer my own cooking a lot of the time. The secret to success in the kitchen? Confidence, and practice.

Throwing together healthy meals shouldn’t be too time consuming or ridiculously expensive. Spend some time in the kitchen, understand what flavours work together and try to hit your macros with each meal – protein, carbs and healthy fats. I am forever adding extra veg to whatever I’m cooking, both to stretch the recipe further and to make it healthier. I’m no nutritionist, but I’ve always abided by the philosophy of the more veg I can cram in, the better.

Over the last few years, I’ve gotten my cooking routine down. I usually spend a solid chunk of Sunday afternoon cooking for the week to come, and I always make sure I’ve got something in the freezer ready to go for those nights when I’m stuck at the office late or want to spend some extra time at the gym. It’s become a relaxing ritual for me, and a way to make sure my weekend was semi-productive, even if it mostly consisted of Netflix or a hangover. These three easy recipes have been tried and tested over the years, and are now my Sunday cook up go-tos. Bon appetit!

1// Jamie Oliver’s Beef Stew

Easy, filling and so delicious for autumn and winter. This works best when cooked slowly in the oven on a lower heat, but also works over the stove just gently simmering. Serve with cous cous and green beans.

2// Donna Hay’s Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Soup

Another great one for winter, this soup is relatively quick to pull together. Serve with crusty sour dough.

3// Silverbeet Frittata

I am a frittata fiend. It’s so simple yet so delicious. I also add grated zucchini to this one, just make sure you remove most of the moisture by squeezing the grated zucchini in paper towel. No one likes a watery frittata! This is a great base frittata recipe – the simplicity of eggs and cheese makes frittata a great vehicle for veggies and protein. Try pancetta, bacon or smoked salmon.

What are you go-to recipes – do you cook much? x


My Favourite Ted Talks

five favourite ted talks // girl for granted

Do you watch TED Talks? I have dabbled in them in the past, but recently I’ve gotten into them in a big way.

I’d been going through a bit of a funk due to being very run down after a busy, busy summer, falling out of my exercise routine, finding out I have to move out of my house (yes, moving AGAIN), and a few other things besides. After having a fat whinge over the phone to my mum, she sent me a link to a TED Talk that I’d heard about but had never seen: Amy Cuddy’s talk on how body language shapes who we are. I then went on a TED Talk binge, mostly listening to talks from successful, influential and interesting women as a way to pep me up and motivate myself out of a lull. For this post, I’ve rounded up my favourites.

1// Amy Cuddy, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

This talk could not have come my way at a more appropriate time. I’ve always subscribed to the motto of ‘fake it till you make i’t, but Amy Cuddy takes it one step further to ‘fake it till you become it.’ There’s some really interesting insights in how the way we subconsciously behave influences our perceptions of both ourselves and others. I’ve got her book on my ‘to read’ pile.

2// Shonda Rhimes, My Year of Saying Yes to Everything

I loved this one so much that I went out and bought Shonda’s book. I’m a massive fan of all things Shondaland – so that’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, previously, Private Practice. This talk and Shonda’s book are both call outs to saying yes to the things that scare us. It doesn’t hurt that they sound and read just like a Meredith Grey or Olivia Pope monologue.

3// Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Elusive Creative Genius

I remember reading Eat, Pray, Love as an older teenager and just not getting what all the fuss was about. Some lady went to Italy and ate, India and prayed, and Bali and found love – big deal.  Looking back, I was just too young for Elizabeth Gilbert’s story to mean anything to me, and now it’s become a cliche. However, with her follow up novel, The Signature of All Things, Gilbert proved that she did indeed have creative and writing chops. Now, her manifesto on creativity, Big Love, is a much adored bestseller. This talk is a really interesting take on how everyone is creative, and how to access latent creativity. I really think she’s onto something.

Do you have a favourite TED Talk? I’m on the lookout for recommendations! x

On Taking a Break

As I sat down to write this post, I got really nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I’m not really sure why that is. To be totally honest, I’m writing this from my bed at 1.30 on a Sunday afternoon, on the first real autumn day we’ve had. My room is a mess, I’m still wearing my pyjamas (and trust me, they are not the matching perfect blogger set), I just ate peanut butter on toast in bed, and I’m pretty sure I’m still wearing eyeliner from last night that just did. not. budge. Damn you Stila, and your long wear eyeliner. There’s no #goals to be looking at here.

Now that you’ve got that pretty mental image, there’s some blogging related stuff I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s time we had a chat about it. This blog has always filled a gap for me, been a place to be creative, practice writing, get personal and belong to an awesome community. But at the same time, blogging in the way I do it is weird – just flat out peculiar. You make a decision to let the world into your life and your mind, to judge your tastes and style and your thoughts. Even though I think about this blog through the lens of the Girl for Granted character, at the end of the day it’s still me who writes and makes the decisions and has the thoughts that go out there. It’s terrifying, but also bloody exciting. I love it, and I’m scared of it but we have to do the things that scare us, right?

Somewhere along the way though, my love for blogging evaporated. The hate didn’t grow, but the love evaporated and left behind a fog of ambivalence that grew and grew into a massive cloud, and the length of time since I’d written and the ensuing pressure to blog eventually overtook what I really enjoy about this whole blogging thing. Girl for Granted fell by the wayside. The excuses were always that I was busy, and it was summer and who wants to be cooped up inside in front of a computer? And I couldn’t take a million photos in public to Instagram because who wants to be that girl? (A more legit excuse was that when you work in front of a computer all day, the last thing you want to do when you come home is sit in front of another screen – something I really do struggle with when it comes to blogging).

(Oh and now it’s raining and my bed sits under a broken window so I am getting wet. Again, #goals.)

Let me be clear here that the pressure for me to blog has only ever come from me. Sure, some of my friends would ask why I hadn’t posted in a while, but the question has always been accompanied with a compliment on how much they enjoyed reading what I was putting together. And those questions and compliments always come from people that I never thought would read what I write, or even notice I was doing it. But I think what they don’t realise is how time consuming blogging is. This is not me complaining about that time commitment for one second. I fully understand that choosing to blog is choosing to spend time in that way. However, running a blog is so much more than jotting down some thoughts, finding a pretty photo and hitting publish – at least, in the way I want to do it. When I do something, I go all in. It’s just who I am. Go hard or go home; if you’re going to do something then do it properly; half-done is not done; the harder you work, the luckier you get. These are all things I tell myself on a regular basis, this has always been my approach to life. But it’s not actually the best approach to a hobby, especially a hobby that you LOVE.

I guess the essence of this post is that I took a break because I was blogging for the wrong reasons. When asked to give advice, “successful” bloggers always say not to do it for the wrong reasons – blog because you love it, because it lets you get creative, because you love to write or photograph or draw or whatever the hell creative pursuit you showcase on your blog. Don’t do it because you think you should, or because of the potential to make money or the audience numbers. There’s no quicker way to fall out of love with blogging than that. Don’t go into it thinking you’ll create a business. Let your hobby become your business, by all means. But don’t let the rest of the shit (analytics, social media, criticism) that comes with blogging let you forget why you’re here in the first place. For me, that means writing, being part of a community of incredible women who motivate, inspire (I hate that word), and support each other, and showcasing what I can do beyond my 9-5 business led job in a creative environment. Does that make sense? I also have some thoughts on the insecurities of being a blogger, but I think that’s a separate post.

From here on in, I’m going to blog more because I genuinely do love it. The time away from it has reinvigorated me; allowed me to realise that I’m not here for any grand delusions of making millions of dollars and becoming famous. Fuck that. I’m blogging because I want to, and because if you don’t care or don’t want to hear what I have to say, you won’t read – which is fine, by the way. Also the song I’m listening to is building to a climax so my typing and writing is getting more and more furious hence my lack of commas in this sentence.

So take this as my pledge to only do this blogging thing because I genuinely enjoy it. If opportunities come along as a result, great. If not, so be it. I’m going to make more time for it because I LOVE it, I love the satisfaction of owning and creating something and I’ve missed blogging. But right now, I think should probably get out of bed and maybe put on some real clothes. Those right there are #goals, my friends.

*Image: Mikkel Tjellesen for Elle Decoration Denmark.

sunday reading, 011115

Spring has definitely hit in Sydney. The jacarandas are blossoming, the scent of jasmine fills the air at night, and the days are seemingly longer than even before. I’m even ok with the spring storms. However, the change of seasons means that all I want to do it go shopping. Oh boy do I want new stuff. Do you ever get the feeling that everything you own is just wrong? Perhaps it’s just the change in seasons, or maybe it’s a getting older thing, but all of my clothes feel wrong – outdated, ill fitting, not in line with my tastes anymore. I want to replace everything but as I’m getting older I’m really starting to appreciate quality. I’m happy to pay for quality too, but I definitely have champagne taste on a beer budget. I’m not necessarily talking designer, but rather really well cut pieces in quality fabrics. Hot tips, please.

Some reading for your perusal…

1// A new to me blog (but apparently its rather large? I don’t know) – Isaac Likes.

2// Made this this Greek Chicken Stew a couple of weeks ago – so delish.

3// A couple of weekends ago I saw The Intern. If like me, you loved it, check out Nancy Meyer’s Pinterest board for the film. Repinning everything now.

4// I recently finished reading Crazy Rich Asians and loved it. I’d seen it in so many bookstores and  knew that it was a best seller, but didn’t pick it up a few weeks ago. I was unexpectedly sucked in and even read the sequel.

5// Live alone, want to live alone, or spend lots of time alone? Read this, relate, and lol.

6// I’ve been thinking about the Cecilie Copenhagen O Neck Shirt for months now, and I think I’m finally ready to take the plunge. But now, which colour?

7// More than a little obsessed with the new Adele tune. Surely I’m not the only person who was partly hoping she would sing ‘Is it me you’re looking for?’ after the first ‘Hello’??

8// With birthday parties rolling on, Spring Racing in full swing and Christmas parties right around the corner, it seemed only sensible to invest in a new party dress. This C/meo Collective red number (on sale!) should see me right through.

9// The Draper James store has firmly cemented Nashville’s position on my wanderlust list. That blue and white colour palette, Southern homestead style, and the fact that the brand is owned and run by Reese Witherspoon doesn’t hurt.

10// I’ve made a big effort to start working out more regularly. I’ve always been pretty consistent with exercise but now I’m making it a habit. Problem is, I’m running out of decent pump up playlists. Any suggestions?

Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday. x

Five of the Best: Beach Reads

best beach reads // girl for granted

I’ve always had a complex about reading what you’re “supposed” to read. Ie, huge literary tomes, the classics, major lit prize winners etc etc etc. These are all well and good, and in many cases, excellent reads. But sometimes, I just can’t deal with them. All too often, I’ve tried to read the prizewinners and the critically acclaimed and battled in a big way. Not because these novels aren’t well written or engaging, but because they’re just too much. Of course there are times when I want to stretch myself, challenge my opinions and engage in a world different to my own. However, I find that reading is the best kind of escape and I don’t always want it to feel like work. This year, I’ve stopped stopping myself from reading what I really want to – sometimes you just need to indulge yourself and lose some time in someone’s fictional romantic escapades, ala Bridget Jones.

I’ve long had a soft spot for chick lit, but always wanted to hide it. No more though! For the uninitiated, chick lit is essentially a romantic comedy in novel form. Pure, fluffy, escapism, also known as beach reads. I’ve certainly read my share of chick lit/beach reads over the years, and consider myself something of an expert in the matter. A lot of novels in this genre are forgettable, and easily replaced by the next one to come along. The good ones though, stick with you. These are five of the best beach reads that I’ve returned to, or have shared with friends or just generally enjoyed too much not to share.

1// The Younger Man, by Zoe Foster-Blake.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a massive girl crush on Zoe Foster-Blake. Her novels are funny, smart, easy to read and the absolute antithesis to the snotty literary fiction I usually push my way through. Start anywhere with her novels, but The Younger Man is my favourite for it’s sassy protagonist, fun trio of best friends and delightful eponymous younger man.

2// Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes.

Do not read this unless you are happy to cry. I finished this one on a sunny winter’s day last year. I just happened to be sitting in the law school courtyard between classes, and I totally lost it. Had I been alone, there would have been ugly crying. I had to go home and sort myself out before returning for class. Embarrassing, but true. While it’s chick lit, it will also make you think and question your thoughts around some pointy social and legal issues. For bonus points, read it before the film adaptation comes out, and follow up with the recenty release sequel, After You.

3// The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.

This is basically the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton – except she’s American and it’s super cute. Take it and enjoy it for what it is, preferably when you’ve got nowhere to be and nothing but a day stretched out in front of you.

4// Cents and Sensibility, by Maggie Alderson.

I’ve returned to this gem a few times, I’ll admit. I think this was one of the first Maggie Alderson novels I read, and still my favourite of the bunch. When a novel starts on the French Riviera, you know you’re in for a good time. Plus the characters are great – stylish, big, and fun. The story isn’t too soppy or corny, but it’s just enough to leave you with a smile. If you’re part of a big family, or just wish you were, you’ll relate in so many ways.

5// The One That Got Away, by Bethany Chase

I read this recently off the back of a recommendation somewhere (can’t remember who or where, sadly). I had a night time bus trip down to Canberra and knew from past experience that sometimes the reading lights don’t work, so I loaded this one onto my iPad in lieu of taking a paper book, and started reading. Over the course of the return trip, I was sucked in a finished right as the bus pulled back into Sydney – the perfect ending to a weekend with my gals. There’s a ballsy girl boss architect, a hot former Olympian swimmer, a Texan setting, and so. much. tension. Enjoy.

I’m always on the look out for new books, especially coming into summer. Hit me up with your favourite beach reads! x