Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Book Review: Duplicity by Fin C Gray


England, 2003. Tom McIntyre is a worried man. Debts are pillng up, his career is in a free-fall, and his family life is under strain. Only his wife, Allison, remains unswerving in her support. Close to rock bottom, he clinches the deal of a lifetime before tragedy strikes , putting everything Tom values at risk.

In the aftermath, a toxic mix of grief, substance abuse and blame lead to different paths for the family. Duplicity is a story of lost innocence, unwitting deals with darker forces. and fragile family bonds. Can grief, love, lies and hate be reconciled? And can Tom repair his fractured family and release himself from the pact he has made? What fate does he deserve?

Disclaimer: this review might contain spoilers. The book was sent to me by the author in collaboration with Booktasters.

Duplicity: "the state of being double"

I am almost at a loss for words when it comes to this book.  The blurb does not prepare you for what is to follow in the actual book. I was stunned right from the first sentence of the prologue. It was intense and gripping and I knew right away, I was going to have to finish this book come hell or high water. You are not immediately aware of what is happening, but once the penny drops, so does your heart. The book is narrated by the main character Tom and his son, Daniel, in two perspectives: then and now. Right away I found Tom's character very unlikeable. He had a harsh manner about him and seemed to, more often than not, only be concerned with himself. Gray's writing is not the style that I am use to ,but I found the straight forward style perfectly suited to the story.

The story features other characters such as Tom's wife and children as well as some colleagues and it was really interesting to see how these characters developed  throughout the story. The most compelling of them all is definitely Tom's son, Daniel. Now there is a damaged character if I have ever come across one. After an event in his childhood that he feels too ashamed to share and the loss off two very important people in his life, Daniel sees no other option than to make others feel the same pain.

When a series of events catapults Tom's life into disaster, he seems to think the universe has it out for him. He loses control of his sobriety, his children and perhaps even his sanity. It becomes very clear that Tom does not get along very well with one of his children and completely ignores the other. I'm really trying not to give too much away, but I have so much that I want to say.

Throughout the chapters, you slowly start to uncover what actually happens in the prologue and, let me tell you, I was completely astounded. I had my suspicions initially, but nothing could  have prepared me for the journey to the end. This book will force you out of your comfort zone. It discusses topics such as religion, sexuality, death and substance abuse so be warned. I felt a great sadness while reading the last few chapters of the book because I could not imagine having to make sacrifices like those. There were alot of shocking moments as well. A few times I had to take a break from reading just to process, but the end gave me hope. Hope that one is never so completely lost that he/she can never be found again.

No doubt this book will stay will me for the longest time and I will recommend it to anyone who will listen. My rating for this book is a solid 5/5 . Have you had a 5 star read lately? I would love to hear from you. 


Monday, August 29, 2022

BEAUTY: Avon Anew Ultimate Day Firming Cream SPF25

Once I turned 30 my interest in anti-aging skincare grew leaps and bounds. I've been using this firming day cream from Avon for a few months now and I am in awe of the results. I wanted to wait to do a proper review and I am glad I did. I love the texture so much. As soon as I apply it, it absorbs quickly leaving my skin feeling moisturized and not greasy.

This day cream contains Protinol. This is clinically proven to restore both types of collagen in healthy skin. It also helps with mimicking the perfect collagen equilibrium found in baby skin. That little bit of information was enough to win me over for good. I am not even exaggerating when I say my skin looks smooth and supple throughout the whole day.

Protinol is a gentle alternative to retinol although they both rank equally high when it comes to anti-aging effectiveness. I am not sure when I will introduce retinol into my skincare regime so I'm especially thankful to have gotten my hands on this product. Protinol is a game changer for me because I have never seen my skin react this way to any other ingredient. It's safe to say that this will be one of those products that I keep purchasing. 

I should mention that you might want to think about keeping it away from your eyes. I made the mistake of applying it to my whole face, eyes included, and I ended up a little teary eyed for a while. However, I am not sure if this will be the case with everyone. This month the 50ml day cream is retailing for R329 and, believe me, it is worth every cent. It is definitely one of those beauty products I plan to keep in my skincare routine for a while to come. 

Have you started using anti-aging products yet? What are some of your must have products? I would love to hear from you!

P.S you can shop Avon products using this link to my online store here


Saturday, August 20, 2022

LIFE: Purpose

I often wonder about my place in the world. My purpose. Growing up I genuinely thought I would do something in writing. I always had my nose in a book. I loved making lists, making up my own stories and even dreamt about what my life would be like as an author. People gifted me with books and stationary and no one would frown if I ignored everyone at a family gathering to get better acquainted with a book. It seemed to be an unspoken fact in my family that writing  (or something in the field ) would be my path.

Fast forward a few years and I went to university. I got into my first choice, but I was ill prepared. Yes, as much as books exposed my to another world, I was completely out of my depth. Nothing could have been prepared me for the sinking feeling I had in my first semester. I had trouble adjusting to the classes, my peers and the course. I decided to do a BA general degree  which was my first mistake. I had no direction. Do not get me wrong, BA general is an admirable choice, but for someone who thrived on routine, this was not the best choice. Why didn't I just do a degree in journalism you ask? Frankly, in the back of my mind, I figured this degree would expose me more to the "media'' side of things. Needless to say, university did not go as planned and I dropped out. I had my son around that same time and eventually got a job in finance. Motherhood was a dream, but I hated my job with a passion. There was absolutely no room for creativity and my brain felt stifled. For six years, I dreaded getting up in the morning. For six years my creative side wilted away. I could not deal with it anymore.

Along with Covid 19 came some much needed clarity. With life hanging in the balance, there was no time to be unhappy. Life was for living! Please note, this is not me trying to encourage you to leave your job without a solid plan. I was lucky enough to have the luxury of making that choice and I had wonderful support from my family. As it stands, I have no idea where this new journey will lead me, but I do know one thing: I am going to write as much as I can. I am going to write about life and love and everything in between. Chances are I will probably end up writing some horrible stuff and develop some sort of writer's block or imposter syndrome ,but that wont stop me. 

It's too late to turn back now!


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Book review : The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I spent the first half of the year reading morbid, nightmare inducing thrillers. So when I saw that #bookstagram and #booktok were raving about "The Love Hypothesis, I figured it would be a great time to jump into a different genre. 

I will say that I normally get really bored with love stories because I actually crave the drama of a thriller, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The book follows main characters Olive and Adam as they navigate the interesting and very competitive world of STEM. 

Let's get into the synopsis 

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships-but her best friend does, and that's what got het into the situation. Convincing Ahn that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than  hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor- and well known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford's reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a bog science conference goes haywire, putting Olive's career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding...six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Without giving too much away, I want to start by saying I really enjoyed the way the book was written. There was an easy and uncomplicated feel to the entire book which made for a lovely read. Apart from really liking both main characters, I found Olive really relatable. As a young woman, she was navigating feelings such as despair, loneliness and even inferiority and as a reader I was eager to see how she would deal with them. I did not immediately like Adam. His character was moody and unapproachable initially and,  he had a hardness about him that was such a stark contrast to Olive. I was sure  that the fake dating  would not last very long. Needless to say, as the book progresses, he proves me wrong. He shows kindness and vulnerability that is both surprising and endearing. Throw in some steamy scenes, adorable inside jokes and a scandal that blew up a friendship and you have yourself a winner.

As I have already said, this is not the genre I would reach for normally, but I'm glad I did. Apart from being an effortless read, I appreciated the way the world of science was portrayed. Basically, it was not difficult to form a picture in my head. As much as you hear about fake dating scenarios, the storyline did not feel cheesy or predictable. I looked forward to every encounter between Olive and Adam. 

The Love Hypothesis is definitely a book I would recommend to everyone. It was unexpectedly delightful.

Have you read it? What are your thoughts on the book? What are you currently reading? 


Monday, May 16, 2022

LIFE : Keep it moving


2021 has been a difficult year. And difficult is so much of an understatement. But, while it might seem easier, therapeutic even, to complain about the year that damn near brought me to my knees, I’ll take a rain check for now.  What I will say however is that 2021 was one big (albeit painful) lesson. One realization that was particularly hard to digest was the fact that most of the time; I am my own worst enemy.  I discovered that I am the only one holding myself back from living the life that I want to live. Yes, that was a bitter pill to swallow but; it was also a necessary one.

However this post is not about my tumultuous 2021 but, rather why I am looking forward to the 2022 . I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions because I normally fall back into my old habits so easily and then I end up feeling even worse for failing at my resolutions. The only thing I want to focus on this year is radiating and attracting positive energy. There have been a lot of times last year where I have made excuses and let myself down. I have also been too focused on other people’s opinions of me and what other people had been accomplishing. I’ve decided that this year I am only going to put in the work and trust the process. We are all on our own timelines and while it might be bittersweet, learning to clap when others win is essential to one’s peace. I look forward to my journey, my process this year. Not just the end result.

I also get to plan my dream wedding this year which I am ecstatic about. I have heard a ton of horror stories about the stress of planning a wedding and what it can do to a relationship but, I am confident that my fiancé and I can both remain sane while doing this.

Then there is my little blog. Up to now it has been more of an escape to me: a hobby that’s become my therapy.  And while it will always be that, I would love to do more look posts as well as work with a few of my favourite brands. And who knows where that could lead. I feel like I should have my site redone first though. It just doesn’t fit my personality or aesthetic anymore.

Lastly, but most importantly, my gorgeous son is happy and healthy. As someone who has been battling with depression for the longest time I cannot express the wonders it does to my soul knowing that I am able to take care of and provide for my son. I’ve been a single mom for most of the kid’s life and that sh*t is hard. There are no office hours and often you receive unsolicited advice and comments from people who do not even have dogs (let alone children). My son brings so much delight and love into my life that every single struggle is worth it. It gives me such purpose.

Ok enough with the sentimental stories. My point is, even with 2021 being one big uncomfortable roller-coaster ride; there is always something to look forward to. There is always hope. And while there is hope, there is always something to be thankful for. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

BEAUTY: #7days7faces - Bronzed Up

Make up has always been my safe space. There is nothing I don't love about it. So needless to say when the time came for @Foyin's #7days7faces I was ecstatic to take part. It's not a new concept, but up to now something has been holding me back from participating. That something was performance anxiety. On the previous occasions I have seen the most amazing work, not only from Foyin, but also from everyone taking part. To be frank, I was worried I would suck.

Nevertheless, I decided that this would be the time I finally participate. I was beyond excited. With my skin moisturized and my make up brushes washed, I planned my look for the first challenge: BRONZED UP. I wanted to do something that I would not do on a normal day. I wanted the look to be fun and creative. So I armed  myself with tons of cream and powder bronzer and, much to my son's amusement, this is what I came up with. 

The sad part is that I got really sick and couldn't participate in the other challenges. There were a few that I was rather eager to interpret , but I got to live vicariously through the other participants. The internet can be a cruel place but this concept, the whole idea, was the exact opposite. It felt like a celebration of sorts, It goes without saying, sick or not sick, I will be going the extra mile to participate in the next one. Please enjoy some pictures from the only challenge I managed. For me,  out of 1 out of 7 was good enough. 

I would love to participate in a few more make up challenges this year. Are there any challenges you participate in without hesitation? I would love to here from you.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

LIFE: Boundaries


Why am I always tired? As an adult, this is a  question I frequently ask myself. No amount of sleep or self care can take the feeling away. Am I doing something wrong? I have been struggling to feel at least somewhat human over the last two years. I feel like the pandemic has taken everything from me, but I have personally been facing a bigger pandemic: I have no boundaries.

As a mom, being a caretaker comes naturally, but I feel my issue goes back even further than that. As the oldest sibling, I was always making sure my brother was taken care of. This is just what older siblings do. As soon as said sibling grows up or can take care of themselves, you kind of just latch onto someone new to take care of. My problem is that I don't stop. If I don't take care of somebody, I need to take care of something. In other words, doing nothing really doesn't sit well with me. I am not sure how many of you can relate, but I feel really guilty whenever I find  myself with nothing to do or simply just resting. This has been coming back to bite me in the ass lately. Like I said, I am always tired.

The last few weeks I have really been trying to be a little more selfish in terms of how I allocate my time, and how much of it I spend taking care of myself. Something needs to change drastically. I will probably always feel the urge to take care of the people I love no matter how old they are, but I need to dial it back a bit before my cup runs empty.

How I am going to do this? I am not sure. So I hope you were not expecting some sort of resolution in this post. I just needed to admit, out loud and on paper, that I lack boundaries. I am aware of that now. The next few weeks I going to actively look for ways to pour back into myself. Whatever that looks like.


Book Review: Duplicity by Fin C Gray

  England, 2003. Tom McIntyre is a worried man. Debts are pillng up, his career is in a free-fall, and his family life is under strain. Only...