Top 8 Books – 2018

 

Bird Box by Josh Malerman“Something is out there… Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster? Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey–a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside–and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?”

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne“Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing. 3) Joshua Templeman. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman sit across from each other every day… and they hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. HATE. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight approach to his job and refusal to smile. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and desire to be liked. Now they’re up for the same promotion and Lucy, usually a determined people-pleaser, has had enough: it’s time to take him down. But as the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, it’s clear that the real battle has only just begun…”

A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin“Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must… and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.”

Beartown by Fredrik Backman“In a large Swedish forest Beartown hides a dark secret… Cut-off from everywhere else it experiences the kind of isolation that tears people apart. And each year more and more of the town is swallowed by the forest. Then the town is offered a bright new future. But it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who’ll risk the future to see justice done. Who will speak up? Could you stand by and stay silent? Or would you risk everything for justice? Which side would you be on?”

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta“Following the sudden disappearance of thousands of citizens, Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to bring a sense of hope to his traumatised community, but his family has fallen apart in the wake of disaster. Kevin’s wife has joined a homegrown cult, and his son is a disciple of the prophet Holy Wayne. Only Jill, Kevin’s daughter, remains, and she’s no longer the sweet student she once was.”

Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman“Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough; Mark a handsome investment banker with a bright future. They seem to have it all, until Mark loses his job and cracks start to appear in their perfect life. But they’re determined to make it work. They book their dream honeymoon and trust that things will work out – after all, they have each other. On the tropical island of Bora Bora Mark takes Erin scuba diving. Mark is with her – she knows he’ll keep her safe. Everything will be fine. Until they find something in the water. Erin and Mark decide to keep their discovery a secret — after all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events… which will endanger everything they hold dear.”

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town – and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost…”

Misery by Stephen King“Misery Chastain is dead. Paul Sheldon has just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery has made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wants to get on to some real writing. That’s when the car accident happens, and he wakes up in pain in a strange bed. But it isn’t hospital. Annie Wilkes has pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs. The good news is that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news is that she has long been Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she finds out what Paul had done to Misery, she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like it at all. Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he’s writing to stay alive.”

#ReadYourFaceOff TBR – January

 

The general goal for a #ReadYourFaceOff readathon is to get through as much reading as you can in a 24-hour window of time. It’s a fun (and short) readathon that was created by Riley from RMFickFack. This round will run from 9am on Saturday 12th January to 9am on Sunday 13th January in your time zone. My focus for this round is to catch up on a couple of my January TBR books, because I spent this week working on a buddy read with Michael. Good luck to everyone participating in this round!

December Empties

 

Dove Go Fresh Deodorant in Pear & Aloe Vera – Two deodorant empties in a row, that must be some kind of record. As I said last month, I tend to not include deodorants unless I think they’re something worth mentioning and this is another winner from Dove. This has a delightfully fresh and summery scent and as an added bonus on top of that it does a really good job as a deodorant in general.

Longvitalite Collagen Firming & Moisturising Silk Sheet Mask – I have a bunch of these in my cupboard because they’re a really easy go-to hydrating sheet mask that work well with my sensitive skin. I still prefer the Garnier masks to these, but they are an easy mask to slap on my face on a Sunday morning if I’m feeling like I need a bit of a hydration boost.

Pantene Pro V 3 Minute Miracle – I recently repurchased a few of my old-school hair favourites (Kerastase Bain Satin and Terax Crema), and remembered how much I loved using these little miracle workers in conjunction with those products. It does a wonderful job of smoothing fly-aways and noticeably enhances the shine of my hair. I love this product, and I’m glad to have reintroduced it into my hair care routine.

[sample] Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment – I wasn’t a huge fan of this treatment because it seemed to leave a bit of an oily residue on my skin. Sadly, this didn’t have enough of an impact for me to consider purchasing a full size.

January TBR

 

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey“A hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode… A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before. But that’s not all Gemma’s trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim’s past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths…”

People Like Us by Dana Mele“Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple. The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make… not something that happened.”

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater“Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him. Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour. Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?”

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid“Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the `80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.”

2019 Bucket List

 

2018 was a big year for me. Moving interstate was probably one of the biggest life challenges I have faced to date but it was definitely a worthwhile experience. I think 2019 is going to be mainly about establishing myself in Adelaide, branching out a bit more and trying new things.

Here is what is on my bucket list for the new year –

Get a new job
The end of February will mark one year of living in Adelaide, and unfortunately that is as long as my current employer will allow me to work remotely. I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given to continue to work from another state because I know exceptions were made for me which is amazing and I am so thankful. That being said, the time has come for me to find something here in Adelaide so I am officially on the hunt for the right opportunity.

Go on a holiday
It’s been over a year since Sebastian and I went on a holiday, so one of my goals for this year is for us to go away somewhere together. It doesn’t have to be a big trip or anything overseas (he has a lot of international travel coming up for work), even just a weekend away up the coast somewhere would be nice.

Return to Perth for a visit
A dear friend of mine is getting married in Perth in April so I’m hoping to return for a visit around that time. Ideally I would like to take an extended break and go down south to spend some time with my family as well, but this will all be dependent on my job situation.

Read 52 Books & Watch 52 Movies
My reading goal for 2019 is to read 52 books. Normally I aim for around 50, but I beat that challenge by quite a bit in 2019 and I think a book a week is a reasonable goal for me. I’ve been trying to watch more movies lately too, so I’ve tacked on a 52 movie challenge as well.

Finish writing my novella
One of my favourite ways to spend my free time is writing, but this has fallen by the wayside recently. I have two works in progress at the moment that I am excited about and I’m looking forward to spending time working on them both and spending more time interacting with my writing community.

Explore and get to know Adelaide
Because I’ve been working from home for most of the year, and because Sebastian is originally from Adelaide and is so familiar with the city, I haven’t done a lot of driving or exploring by myself. I think a key to me feeling more at home here is getting more familiar with my surroundings, so I hope to work on that a bit more this year.