Recommended Reads For The Modern Gal Monday, Aug 16 2010 

There is absolutely nothing that beats the luxurious experience of reading a good book. A book can offer escapism, knowledge, fantasy and fun. It can save you from a bad mood or monotonous day in one articulately written sentence. It can also give you access to thoughts and ideas that you have never touched on before, and at times things that not only teach you but can make you a better person.

Now, I’m not going to go on to tell you to read Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Emily Brontës Wuthering Heights (though both true gems and are classics for a reason!) I am here to recommend a few books that I believe most young women should read – for different reasons.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (NZD$24.99 from Fishpond)

This is a hilarious, fluffy read for the “in-between” girls out there that are no longer teens, but not yet saddled with a mortgage/husband/2.5 kiddies etc. The heroine, the incorrigible Emma Corrigan, is a bubbly, early twenties girl with aspirations of a perfect life. There’s one problem – she tells little white lies to everyone she knows. To her boyfriend (he thinks she is several sizes smaller than she actually is), to her parents (she killed their goldfish, but replaced it before they cottoned on!), to her colleagues (never admits that it’s her that keeps breaking the photocopier) and so on and so forth. This is a fabulously funny book, adorably romantic but also highlights the failings of our society on the up and coming generation. The fact Emma can’t admit the small flaws to herself and the people around her, that she needs to skew things to make herself feel more of a success, is something I see in people every day. This is a good rainy day read, not too heavy, but I think has a good message to it.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists by Neil Strauss (NZD$39.99 from Fishpond)

Now, you may be wondering why the hell I would recommend this kind of book to women. Basically, knowledge is power, right ladies?

I heard about this particular book during a conversation with a male friend. He told me about Neil Strauss, a nerdy writer who couldn’t find love and so took it upon himself to meet the Masters of Seduction around the world. This book tells the story of how he became a part of this bizarre secret society, who he met and what he learned. (There are other books by Strauss that are more dating self-help types, but I think this one gives the better picture.)

Basically, this book goes through how a society of men have developed ways to manipulate women into sleeping with them. Ugly, boring, nervous, creepy, skinny, fat, sleazy, shy – no matter what the drawback of the male, these Masters of Seduction were able to show these ill-equipped men how to bed hot ladies that normally wouldn’t notice them. I read this book with utter fascination – was it possible for women to be manipulated this way? Certainly tricks and lines, gestures and clothing couldn’t get us to fall for someone totally not our type – right?! Well, as I read, I got that sinking gut feeling. Though not all of the tricks would work on all of us, there was real merit in what he was saying. I am glad I read this book – purely so I now know what to look out for! Ladies, beware.

The Game by Neil Strauss

He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (NZD$23.99 from Fishpond)

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t heard of this book already. It was a phenomenon a few years back, even made it onto Oprah! There has also been a movie made about it, and many a female discussion revolving around it’s teachings.

Basically, this book goes on the list because I know too many gals that haven’t read it when they really should have. This is a must read. A dating bible if you will. It’s not heavy, it’s not all about loving ones inner self. It’s a friendly prod to say – Girl, you are great, but if that guy isn’t asking you out? He DOESN’T WANT YOU! A little bit harsh, perhaps. But sometimes we need a bit of a slap in the face. I know too many girls who justify not getting a text from “that guy” for weeks, because maybe he lost his phone, or maybe he’s really busy, or or… You get the point. This book is brilliant. Makes you laugh, makes you cringe with self realisation, makes you open your eyes to the realities of dating. If he doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you. If he only calls you at 3am for a drunken stopover after town, he just wants to f#%& you. Plain and simple. You’d think we could figure all of this out on our own, but sadly, when you mix emotions in with a woman’s thought processes, everything goes a bit whack. Hence, why all ladies should read this book!

Seriously!

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

So there you have it… One book that is light and fluffy, one that depicts the inner workings of seriously screwed up men, and one that guides us poor ladies into the dating light (if you will).

Enjoy! More to come…

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Evermore by Alyson Noel Monday, Jan 4 2010 

I love books. All kinds of books – which is why I also find myself reading the odd bit of young adult fiction. I went out the other day and spotted a book called Evermore by Alyson Noel, an author I had never heard of before. Reading the back, it seemed a little Twilight-wannabe, but I thought “Oh, I’ll give it a go.”

So I bought the first book (in a series of three, so far) and took it on holiday with me. I wasn’t expecting too much, but I really enjoyed it, and as soon as I could I ordered the next two on MightyApe.

Evermore is about a sixteen year old girl called Ever Bloom, who is the sole survivor of a horrific car accident that killed both of her parents and her little sister, Riley. Ever goes from a blonde, cheerleader type with a great life to a guilt-ridden, baggy-clothing wearing freak that lives with her rich but detached Aunt. Oh, and did I mention that since the crash where she sustained a massive head injury, she’s been psychic? 

She hears every single persons thoughts, more so on touch. She sits in school with her hood up over her head and her iPod on full blast, trying to drown out the nastiness of high school, the pain, the personal agonies. She cannot switch off her ability, sometimes finding the world too much to handle. Her two best (and only) friends, are Haven and Miles. Haven is a goth-emo-punk wannabe that just wants to be loved, and Miles is a fun, over the top gay guy. The three of them are the schools “losers”, but Ever doesn’t care. Her life is over, in her mind, as she holds herself responsible for the crash and wont forgive herself. The highlight of her day is that her dead sister Riley still visits her, still being as annoying as always, but will not inform Ever of where their parents are. Life continues on like this for a while…

Then one day, along comes Damen. Gorgeous, sexy, confident, worldly. Every female (and Miles!) jumps up and down for joy at the sight of this newcomer, except for Ever. Oh yes, she can’t help but drool over him too, but there is more to Damen than everyone else see’s. When Damen is around, when he touches her, the psychic voices fade away to nothing. He pulls flowers out of thin air, moves faster than should be humanly possible. Every little thing is noted by Ever, and even though she is suspicious of him, she falls very quickly in love.

Then things start to get dangerous, dark. People start to die, a woman from Damons past (Drina) turns up and steals away Haven, and Ever hits rock bottom and turns to alcohol to dull the pain of her life.

This book is for teens, yes, but it’s not soft and fluffy. It’s not an easy love story, and it’s not your typical Vamp page-turner either. It’s well written, you really feel for Ever and everything she has to go through, and the twists and turns are ones you would never guess. The characters aren’t perfect, but that makes it easier to relate to them. It’s a modern take on supernatural love, with mention of iPhones, The TV show Friends and MP3 players. 

If you have a teen queen (or king!) that loved Twilight, L.J. Smiths books or anything similar – then buy this series. If you are like me and find merit in just reading good books, no matter what the target audience is, then here’s the books for you! 🙂

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Shop Till Your Broadband Drops Wednesday, Nov 11 2009 

One of the most expensive pass-times that I happen to indulge in on a regular basis (Okay okay, daily) is online shopping. Sometimes I browse for something specific (A book, DVD or perfume) or just stumble across an impulse buy. 

During both my glee and fiscal regret that has accompanied this habit, my friends and family have piped up saying they didn’t know how to find Online Shopping Sites. I was flabbergasted. In this day and age, I thought everybody knew! So I thought, why not blog about my most frequented sites?

Drumroollll….

1) Trademe – http://www.trademe.co.nz – Okay, so even if you were living under a rock for most of your life, you would have heard of Trademe. But it’s a goodie, so it goes straight on my list. Trademe is where members can both sell and buy items, used and new, in online auctions. Some retailers have a Trademe “Shop Profile” where they sell their stock online, but mostly it’s individuals selling of unwanted gifts, clothing, cars and more. If you can think it, it’s probably for sale on this site.

2) FishPond – http://www.fishpond.co.nz – New Zealand’s biggest online bookstore, Fishpond sells books (New, but there are some second hand options) for very competitive prices. Amazing selection, including CD’s and DVD’s now, sourced directly from the distributors and sent to your door. Plus, if you spend NZD$50.00 or more you get free shipping… and to sweeten the deal, every now and then Fishpond sends you NZD$10.00 coupons via email. 

3) 1-Day – http://www.1-day.co.nz – 1-Day is a site that has three items for sale every single day. At noon, the three items get updated with three new options and so on. The items can be anything, from clothing to gadgets, but I find that there tends to be items for men approximately 60% of the time, which sucks for the ladies. Addictive, one of the easiest sites to impulse buy on. 

4) 3deals – http://www.3deals.co.nz – This is another site that works exactly the same way as 1-Day – Three items updated every day at noon. There is a point of difference though – The items seem to be for women about 60% of the time. (Guess life really does equal out at the end of the day, huh?) This site is the best for make-up deals and cookware.

5) Dealaday – http://www.dealaday.co.nz – This site is similar to the previous two in the sense that it updates every day with it’s daily deal, but the difference being it only ever has one item on special and the fact it updates at 10 AM rather than noon. It tends to feature mainly gadgets and tech stuff, as well as an awful lot for kids/babies. Great deals though. 

6) Off The Back – http://www.offtheback.co.nz – This is a site much like 1-Day and 3deals that updates every day with three main items that are on special. It sometimes has the most amazing products, but at other times falls short. The items chosen tend to be either quite expensive (Despite discount) or a bit cheap and tacky. But there are also a few good gems that turn up on this site. The products that tend to show up the most are gadgets, camera equipment and computer extras. 

7) I Want That – http://www.iwantthat.co.nz – This is an online store that has a lot of unique products. Everything from funny coasters to gun shaped vases; this store has it. Lot’s of specials, but it’s quality goods so not exactly cheap. Great for gift buying. 

8 ) OO – http://www.oo.com.au – This is an Australian online shopping website that delivers to New Zealand, and it has some really funky items. Everything from fitness gear, kitchen appliances, electronics and wine. Not cheap, but there are some really good specials and some things that are extremely hard to find anywhere else. Worth a look, definitely. 

9) Sella – http://www.sella.co.nz – A cheap mans Trademe. It’s not as good, but it runs the same way and has done the trick in the past when I haven’t been able to find an item on Trademe. Sella is ok… Not great. Just ok. 

10) Zillion – http://www.zillion.co.nz – See above for my Sella description. Exactly the same deal. Can’t beat Trademe, I’m afraid. 

11) The Warehouse – http://www.thewarehouse.co.nz – We all know the Big Red Shed, but did you know you can purchase things on their website now? Not everything is available to buy this way yet, but more and more gets added each week. Things like DVD’s, CD’s and jewellery are items you can purchase online, at the same discounted prices you get in store.

12) Ed Hardy – http://www.edhardy.co.nz – Anyone who knows me knows that I love Ed Hardy designs. The online store has the full in-store range available, including specials.

13) Amazon – http://www.amazon.com – Okay, so this is a U.S. store but it really is terrific. It sells almost everything but its the most famous for it’s massive assortment of books. Great range – amazing even – but despite super cheap prices you get massively stung on the international shipping. (So yeah, great for Americans!)

14) Paper Plus – http://www.paperplusbooks.co.nz – If you don’t feel like going into a Paper Plus store, then go to their site to find a great read. It’s not the cheapest, but it has the most information about the books, along with recommendations and picks for book clubs. Just great when you feel like a good book but have no idea where to start.

15) Glassons – http://www.glassons.co.nz – It’s not a groundbreaking site, but it has the usual good Glassons staples. Quality, fairly cheap clothing without having to mingle with obnoxious teens in overly lit malls. 

16) 599 – http://www.599fashion.com – Another American site, but one I really like. It sells a massive load of tops, along with a smaller selection of dresses, skirts and belts. And here is the great news. Everything is USD$5.99. Okay so not so cheap when you convert it, but not half bad either. The clothes are super cute and funky, good quality too. The shipping’s a bit “Ouch” but it’s made up for by the cheap products. 

17) Zazzle – http://www.zazzle.co.nz – A site that sells good quality t-shirts with any design you could possibly conceive on it – plus you can design your own. Kind of pricey, but as I said, the quality is what counts here. Great selection.

18) Mr Vintage – http://www.mrvintage.co.nz – A world famous site in New Zealand! This site sells t-shirts and hoodies with every kind of Kiwiana theme you can imagine. NZ brands, quotes, pop culture – you name it. Great deals daily, plus great gifts for overseas loved ones. Just a funky site for anyone who is proud to be a Kiwi.

19) Mighty Ape – http://www.mightyape.co.nz – Another good online store to buy books, DVD’s, CD’s and computer stuff. Really good savings, and it has a great range and sometimes products you just can’t get elsewhere. Every day the site gets better – more information, more products. LOVE IT!

20) Crazy Sales – http://www.crazysales.co.nz – This is one of those sites that sells everything. Well, almost anyway. Kids toys, fitness gear, musical instruments, beauty products and even rugs. I could go on, but you get the drift. It’s a mish-mash of glorious oddities, has a great selection of gift ideas as well as useful day-to-day items. Great deals, although it’s not the $2 shop! (Hmm, that’d be a great online store!)

21) EziBuy – http://www.ezibuy.co.nz – This is a great online store that has a massive selection of clothing – from the basics to a few surprisingly beautiful pieces. Shoes, lingerie, dresses, tops, jackets, swimwear… It’s not fashion chic, but hey, work it with one designer piece (Maybe a Guess bag? Mmmm…) and no one will ever know. Or care.

22) Supre – http://www.supre.com.au – Supre stores are littered around New Zealand, so you might not really see the point in shopping online and paying shipping from Australia. But I’m not inclined to see it that way. Supre has some super cute and funky clothes (If you steer away from the slut-wear and 80’s reject fluro items) and it’s nice to be able to browse through them all without a million angry teenage girls pushing past you as they viciously chew gum and sing along (badly) to the Britney Spears song playing waaaaayyyyy too loud on the speaker system. So yes, I prefer Supre from the relative safety of my laptop. Plus, although the shipping to New Zealand is about NZD$17.50, the clothing isn’t expensive so it’s totally worth it. 

23) Foodtown/Woolworths – http://www.foodtown.co.nz or http://www.woolworths.co.nz – Okay, so not the most exciting kind of shopping. But nothing beats getting to pick all the items that you want and having it brought right to your door. There is a set delivery fee which isn’t too bad, and you can get same day delivery. Brilliant. And totally lazy… But ahhh, I sure don’t miss those supermarket crowds!

24) Foodrunner – http://www.foodrunner.co.nz – Okay, while I’m on the lazy food bent, here is a site where you key in your location and it tells you which restaurants are available to you in your area. From there you can pick your food (Thai, Pizza, Italian etc) and pay online with a delivery fee of about NZD$12.50 (Steep, but remember, the idea here is pure laziness) and they bring it to your door. Brilliant when you’re working late, it’s raining and you don’t want to go out or if you’re sick. 

25) Apple – http://www.apple.com/nz – Apple products are a thing of beauty. I will blog about my love for the Mac later on, but the NZ Apple site is great for purchasing anything to sate your Apple needs. This site just makes me happy. 😀

26) Ezydeal – http://www.ezydeal.co.nz – Much like 1Day and 3Deals, it has three amazing specials every day. It seems to have a really good mix of make-up, gifts, gadgets and toys for kids. Really impressed with the prices too! My only issue with it is that it only runs Monday to Friday, so weekends are out for shopping!

27) SnatchADeal – http://www.snatchadeal.co.nz – Once again, this site offers three deals every day (11AM to 11AM the following day) and has a phenomenal choice of items. What’s more, if they have anything left over from previous days there is a section where you can still purchase those items! Wonderful idea, great site with exceptional prices.
Alrighty then! That’s my overzealous list of my fave online shopping sites! Hopefully I haven’t lead anyone down the road to financial ruin!