Horrorstor: A Novel

Horrorstor: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

With Halloween on this week, I thought I’d share a cool new book I have my eye on!

Horrorstor: A Novel by Grady Hendrix is pitched as a traditional horror story set in a contemporary furniture chain store in Ohio that’s obviously a fictitious parallel of everyone’s favourite furniture store, Ikea. Besides the book’s premise, what really grabbed me was the way the book was designed, to look just like an Ikea catalogue right down to the font arrangement and ‘Orsk furniture store’ product adverts placed between chapters. Also, it reminded me of The Ball Room, a short horror story by China Mieville, Emma Bircham and Max Schaefer about the strange and terrifying going-ons in a the bright, cheerful ball room play area in a big flatpack furniture chain store, similar to  – guess which store? The Ball Room was incredibly well written and, along with Reports of Certain Events in London, was my favourite story in Mieville’s short story collection, Looking for Jake.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote from Kirkus Reviews about Horrorstor: “A treat for fans of The Evil Dead or Zombieland, complete with affordable solutions for better living.”

If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what else will.

How to Worry Less About Money

How to Worry Less About Money, John Armstrong, finances, poverty, savings, pear, School of Life, Toolkit for Life

It’s almost the end of October and the end of The Everygirl 30-Day Challenge to budget and save for the holidays!

On the whole, I’ve been pretty good about sticking to this challenge. I’ve been good about putting money away in my savings account and not making any unnecessary buys. There were a couple of times when I’ve been like, “Ooh, maybe I’ll just buy this $5 strawberry tart for a dessert…” and my boyfriend was like, “Aren’t you supposed to say no to unnecessary treats this month?” And I was like, “Aah! Noo! Why did you remind me?”

But as it turns out, in the long term, I’ve been really glad I didn’t buy those treats. They really were unnecessary and I really was better off without them. I think that one of my favourite things when I finally grew up and was in charge of my own spending money was the fact that I could treat myself as often as I like without my mum saying no to me. The only problem was that perhaps I was treating myself a little too much and needed to reign myself in…

As part of October Budget Saving Month, I also took the time to peruse through John Armstrong’s How to Worry Less About Money, which is a part of a six-book collection entitled the Toolkit For Life. I bought this while I was taking a couple of courses at the School of Life pop-up in Perth – other books in the collection include How to Stay Sane, How to Change the World, How to Think More About Sex, How to Find Fulfilling Work and How to Thrive in the Digital Age. I can’t wait to read them, especially How to Change the World and How to Find Fulfilling Work, but in the meantime, I thought that seeing as October was budget month, I decided to start off with How to Worry Less About Money.

How to Worry Less About Money is a great little book – only about 148 pages long and easy to read. The writer, John Armstrong, is very honest about his own money worries and has some great insights to impart to help us create a better mindset about our finances. Here are some of the key phrases and findings that really stayed with me after reading this book: READ MORE

Chic Writer: Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir in Tweed

Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre and Che Guevera

Simone de Beauvoir in a scarf, French, fashion

Simone de Beavoir, Sartre on the beach

Simone de Beauvoir laughing

Today I wanted to start a new series called The Chic Writer. Just for the fun of it, this series will feature a well-known chic writer in each installment plus a little bit about what we love about them. Naturally, being chic and stylish isn’t the end all and be all about being a writer – rather, it’s their ability to write funny, delightful, memorable and truth-piercing pieces! – but for this series, we’re also celebrating writers for their originality, their style, their personality and that It-ness about them that makes their persons just as exciting as the stories they write.

The first writer to feature is none other than Simone de Beauvoir. Who better to start off the Chic Writer series? READ MORE

A Reason for Being: Chapter Two

Point of Negation, A reason for being, death to stock photos

Chapter Two

Iris.

I knew who Meredith Schoxaneur was; who in Berninski didn’t? Meredith was one of the first to befriend me in my junior year of high school when I’d moved to Berninski with my sister, our first time away from our parents. Meredith’s big smile and easy friendliness had been a boon to me in those first few months when I’d struggled through the loneliness of getting used to a new town and a new school with new faces, struggling to come to terms with myself and my identity.

In spite of this, we had not been close friends, though we had been in the same year, attended the same parties, and hung out at the same after-school spots. Once or twice, we’d cut school together or shared a cigarette at the back of the gym or in the girls’ restroom. Once, we’d bought alcohol, using the fake ID Meredith had somehow gotten her hands on. But we had not been close. For who could be close friends with Meredith?

Meredith hopped from crowd to crowd like an effervescent, slightly-ADHD butterfly, switching cliques as often as a ballerina switched toe shoes, attracting friends by the dozen, but never keeping them for long. I eventually found my own niche, gathering my assortment of kooky misfits together – Shawna, the quiet, studious girl with a surprisingly dry sense of humour; Nick, the lanky, quiet rebel who skulked at the back of classrooms and was always more interested in cars and engines than sports; Jenna, who was beautiful and rich, but too bossy for the other kids to stomach much of her; and Peter, Jenna’s long-term childhood sweetheart.

I’d lost touch with Meredith after graduation. A year later, I’d heard her uncle, her only family, had died, and I tried calling her, only to find she’d left town for good. The news had sent a pang through me. I remembered all those times I’d thought I should pick up the phone and give Meredith a call, but never had. I wish I could have been there for her, had been able to give her a hug and say, “I’m so sorry this has happened to you. Is there anything I can possibly do for you right now? Just let me know, and I’ll do whatever I can to make you feel better.” I remembered how she had been there for me in the beginning of junior year, introducing me to all her friends, helping me fit into my new school in a way that I never would have been able to if it hadn’t been for her. Me, a complete stranger to her.

I wish I had been able to let her know that she could call on me if she ever needed a friend. READ MORE

Recipe: Sunday Power Salad

Sunday Power Lunch, mushrooms, tofu, brown rice, quinoa, spinach, avocado, Greek yogurt, lemon

When I started making this salad on Sunday, I just wanted a combination of really healthy, good foods on my plate and ended up with this striking combo! I wasn’t sure what to call it at first but eventually decided on ‘Sunday Power Salad’ because it’s so chock-full of all the good stuff of a balanced diet – greens, protein, grains and even a dash of dairy in the form of Greek yogurt. I use the yogurt as a healthy substitute for sour cream for the spinach along with a squeeze of lemon.

I’ve been meaning to add tofu to my ingredients list for a long time as a source of yummy protein but the supermarkets I go to rarely   stock any decent looking tofu. I finally popped into a local oriental store and found these bags of pre-cooked brown tofu in the freezer section – perfect for a lazy girl like me who doesn’t want to go to the added trouble of pressing and cooking her own tofu! READ MORE

Inspiration: “Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams.”

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, Henry David Thoreau, inspiration, motivation, inspo, Monday, dreams, life

Week in Training (October 20th to 26th)

lemon, water, detox, cleansing, fitness

This week marks Week 15 of the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and the third week in her second guide! I’m also ensuring I keep hydrated during my workouts with a bottle of lemon-infused water!

Week 15 is pretty similar to Weeks 14 and 13 in that she still keeps the reps relatively low (mostly reps of 15 except for a few moves) and instead incorporates weights in many of her moves. I’m still able to do the circuit moves plus at least 1-2 repeats before my seven minutes is up each time, but with the weights added, I can definitely feel my muscles working to keep up! As usual, each of the three sessions tackles a different part of the body – Monday is legs, Wednesday arms and Friday abs. My legs were definitely super sore after Monday – the legs workout is always a real muscle burner! READ MORE

Hydration and Detox with Lemon Water

lemon, water, detox, Tupperware, hydration, fitness

I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with ways to use up our bumper crop of lemons in the backyard. And one of my favourite usage of lemons? Lemon water! READ MORE

Inspiration: Creative Portfolios Online at Behance

Behance Laure de SagazanBehance Lauren de Sagazan READ MORE

A Reason for Being: Chapter One

Point of Negation, A reason for being, death to stock photos

This is an old story I finished a couple of years back and shopped around to various literary agents but never managed to gain much interest in it. However, the other day, I happened upon it, sat down and read a bit of it and found that I kind of still liked it. It might do with a bit of cleaning up and some stronger wording, which I might get around to in the future; however, it was still something I quite liked. I still remember much of the old magic that touched me while I was writing it and while I’m working on some other new stories now, I thought I’d turn this old story into a serial fiction on my blog for the time being. I aim to add a new chapter each week so keep checking back if you read this and find you like it!

I’ve hovered between a few different names for this story and at this point I’m just calling it A Reason for Being. It’s somewhat of a cross between urban fantasy and paranormal romance and tells the story from two points of view: a somewhat restless, highly energetic, lonely girl named Meredith caught in a troubled romance with a magician, and an old friend of hers, Iris, who has secrets of her own to hide. Meredith is the main protagonist of the story and her story is told in third person with Iris occasionally popping up in the first person. But enough of this. I won’t give away much more, but let you read on…

A Reason for Being

Chapter One

 Meredith was having a bad day even before she sensed the magic behind her.

She had been working on repairs at Ivan’s Café, which was one of half a dozen minuscule shops and restaurants on Shoestring Lane hard hit by yesterday’s summer storm. The storm had appeared literally out of the blue, splintering rooftops and ripping up signs and trees. There were those who thought it must be an ill wind conjured by a magician, but InterPara and the magi scholars at Berninski University were quick to discredit any such ideas. The insurance companies breathed a sigh of relief at this. Magical disaster policies were notoriously messy beasts, with a high risk for catastrophically huge payouts. As Bern Waldorf of Waldorf Mutual Insurance once declared, “Give me a nice, simple natural disaster any day.”

Ordinarily, Meredith would have been in her element on a day like this. The weather was clear and bright after the storm, the sun shining down strong as she moved like a miniature whirlwind herself, clearing debris, re-potting plants and re-sculpting the brick wall which lined the courtyard out the back of Ivan’s Café. It was hard, dirt-in-nails manual labour, the kind of work Meredith liked best because she could pour her relentless energy into the doing of it. The café staff, most of whom she had known since high school, came out often for a cigarette and a chat while a mix of blues and reggae played on the radio out back.

By afternoon, however, the music had given way to a talk station out of deference to the old Russian regulars who sat in their personal corner of the courtyard, drinking strong black tea and chain-smoking cigarettes while playing chess.

And that was when it all began. READ MORE