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Book Review: How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

Cat Marnell is a polarising character, by that I don’t mean your either love her or you hate her. I mean she changes your own mind about her several times in one paragraph. To give this context, Cat, is a drug addict. Her memoir How to Murder Your Life was written, we presume, under the influence so it’s raw, erratic and sometimes hard to read (she’s a fan of a !!!!!!!!!!!). On the flipside it’s this honesty and vulnerability that makes her so likeable.
Cat takes us through her very privileged upbringing, boarding school and then to the hallowed halls of Conde Nast where she was a beauty editor at Lucky magazine. So far, so good – but her parents are distant, damaged phycologists who put her on Adderall as a kid (to which she soon becomes addicted), at boarding school she’s high, has a failed relationship and traumatic abortion, and her years in New York are a crack-fest of mishaps, loneliness and tragedy.

As enviable as her life from the outside is, Cat is careful to let readers know the truth of it. On the surface she was a successful, rich woman with a glamorous job. But scratch the surface and she was conning shrinks into prescribing her drugs and slowly losing her mind.

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The author

The most interesting parts of the book are just how she continued to get away with such awful behavior and being strung out on drugs at work. In our book club, we briefly discussed whether her experience would have been the same as a WOC (we thought not). Her ‘best friend’ Marco is also a large part of the story, and without wanting to spoil it – he is the friend from HELL. A real Machiavellian character that makes you feel truly sorry for Marnell.

With cameos by Nev Shulman, Eva Chen and The Fat Jew, How to Murder Your Life is a glam and glossy look at Manhattan life. Cat’s drug addiction is a welcome antidote (a literary antidote, not that I’m saying it’s a good thing) to all the glitz.

I was definitely intrigued by Cat Marnell and did a lot of further reading, especially of her Vice column and New York Times interview. Although the subject matter is a little dark, Cat Marnell is funny, genuinely funny. And self-aware – she’s the first person to point out her privilege and her manipulation of people. What’s interesting is that she’s unapologetic about it.

Ladies Lit Squad highly recommends this book.
5 Skeptas out of five.

5 stars

Read about Ladies Lit Squad book club HERE

Ladies Lit Squad: How to Start a Book Club

A book club was always something I’d wanted to join, I’ve been talking about it for years… but like many things I talk about doing, I never actually did it. I love to read, and I must say, I do read a lot. I have so many friends who say “I never have any time to read” or “I haven’t read a book in ages”. Well, I have, but I have no one to talk with about the books I read. So one day last month, for some reason, I finally put my money where my mouth is and started a book club.

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I contacted my coolest girlfriends, did a survey to decide what to call ourselves. Our name Ladies Lit Squad is a play on the title of THIS Skepta song. Literature and Grime, a match made in heaven.

Then I asked around at a few hotels in central London to see if they would host us, The Hoxton in Shoreditch obliged. I created a Facebook group. Chose the book (How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell). Read the book. Paperchase kindly created some Ladies Lit Squad notebooks for our literary musings. And the rest is history.

If you’re a tuned-in lady in central London and you love a good book, and sisters coming together for a chat and a glass of fizz, then why not join us for the next one? Ladies Lit Squad is definitely not your average book club – we’re obviously all SUPAH cool, tuned-in gals. Our first meeting was very chi-chi but I have some great plans for the next one…

If you want to join email me at ladieslitsquad@outlook.com

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Tips for starting a book club

  • Choose a good name, we did float the idea of ‘Cliterature’ but thought it might potentially put off sponsors – also a bit embarrassing to say to your mum/boss.
  • Decide what your USP is? LLS is named after a grime song and our first book was about a crack-addled New York party girl. We’re fun!
  • What extras can you add to the group? I made a logo, stickers and got personalised notebooks so the girls felt a little bit spesh.
  • Give people enough time to read the book – and make notes as you read. I read the book really early on and then kind of forgot all the bits I wanted to remember.
  • Have fun! We talked about the book but also boys, work, life.
  • Bring together people from different groups – I invited colleagues, friends, ex-colleagues, Twitter friends and an internet friend I’d never met in person. The dynamic was great. 
  • Have a game plan. I need to hone this, but I did write some jumping off questions and make sure everyone knew the time and date. Basic but essential.

 

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Try these posts next: 

5 Books to Read on Your Holiday

You Need To Read… The Girls by Emma Cline

6 Inspiring Books to Load on to Your Kindle Before a RTW Trip

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Beauty From The Inside Out with Pukka Herbs

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a tea addict, I LIVE for tea. I mean, I’m from Yorkshire so that stuff practically flows through my veins, but I also love a herbal tea. In fact, some of my favourite travel destinations Istanbul and Marrakesh are based on the quality of their tea. I’ve been drinking Pukka tea for years as they do great infusions that don’t break the bank, so when they asked me if I’d like to try some of their new herbal supplements I was intrigued.

I definitely believe in the benefits of taking a health supplement, though there’s lots of conflicting medical advice. All I know is it can’t do any harm.

I tried the Tumeric Lifekind supplement a few weeks ago when I was feeling quite stressed and run-down. I’d normally get ill being so overworked and run-down but I think the supplement helped ward off illness.

The Glow supplement is also good – my skin was looking a little bit lacklustre – and now it looks very glowing. That might be the sun we’ve been having but I’m sure the supplements helped from the inside out.

Check out Pukka’s range of teas and supplements here.

*Collaborative post

New Flat Tour

I‘ve recently moved into a new flat and this was the first unfurnished flat I’ve ever moved into. It has its pros and cons, on the one hand it’s great because I don’t have to live with gross hand-me-down furniture, on the other hand it’s very expensive and time-consuming to buy all new stuff.

I’m coming at it from a two-tiered approach. Some things I’ve bought really cheap – like a £20 chest of drawers from IKEA that I’ll probably throw away at some point, and other things I’m investing more in (I’ve just ordered an armchair from Made.com, my first proper piece of grown up furniture).

I’m definitely more of an accessories girl – a great cushion or vase can make a room. So I’ve started moving in pictures and trinkets from my travels to make the flat homelier. It’s still pretty bare – but I’ve only been in the flat for two and a half months (3 weeks of which I was in Bali and 1 week I was in The US).

Anyway, here is what it looks like so far. I’ll keep updating as it evolves – and when my chair arrives.

Renting? Here’s how to make your flat look more stylish

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Some of my own ‘artwork’

Hand Rehab Diamond Dusted Handcream Review

If you’re anything like me, your hands will often go neglected. Hands are so important though, and when it comes to your beauty regime you shouldn’t leave your paws out. Hands are the first thing to give away your age. So I’ve made a mid-year resolution to take better care of my mitts and I’ve been trying this new cream by The Hero Project. I keep it by my desk as the tube is gorgeous and having it to hand (lol) helps remind me to moisturise.

The best thing about this is that it contains SPF to protect from harmful UV rays. After a couple of weeks of using it there’s a noticeable difference in the softness of my hands and the diamond dust in the cream is supposed to help strengthen nails – I’m no scientist but I have definitely experienced less breakage on the nail front so perhaps there’s something in it. Anyway the fragrance and texture are great, so I’ll be repurchasing this one.

The Hero Project Hand Rehab Diamond Dusted Hand & Nail Therapy with SPF20

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Diamond Whites Black Charcoal Toothpaste Review 

I’m a stickler for brushing my teeth and keeping them in good nick. I have a pretty goofy grin so they’re basically always on show – so they need to be white. Unfortunately I have bills to pay so professional whitening always seems too much on an investment.

That’s why I was happy to try out the new Diamond White Black Edition toothpaste (£9.99)* – a toothpaste containing activated charcoal that’s, yes, black in colour. Charcoal has been a beauty buzzword for a while now, and it has great detoxifying and purifying qualities – which helps to remove stains from teeth.

I’ve been using this for two weeks and have definitely noticed an improvement in the whiteness of my teeth. It’s great for removing tea stains (I drink a lot) and as an everyday toothpaste. Have your trued black toothpaste?

Diamond White Black Edition toothpaste (£9.99)*

*Gifted

GRLPWR Gang – The All-Female Creative Collective Empowering Girls

This is an interview I did for Dr. Martens, reproduced here. To read the original CLICK HERE.

GRL PWR Gang are a force to be reckoned with – individually and as a collective. Founded by Kirsti Hadley, GRL PWR Gang is made up of female creatives, artists, bloggers, designers and generally amazing women whose mission it is to provide a network for like-minded girls. They’re the ladies making ‘nice’ cool again.

We tasked some of the gang with styling our new DM’s Lite Rigal boot and caught up with founder Kirsti to hear more about GRLPWR.

Hi Kirsti, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I grew up in inner-city Birmingham and I had literally no clue what I wanted to do. I didn’t have any female mentors or role models – women to inspire me. It wasn’t until I was older, and I started working in clubs, that I would meet these really cool girls that were doing their own thing in music or the media and I knew then that I wanted to do something like that.

But I was a relatively late starter, I didn’t fully start my career until my late 20s. I wish I had someone to tell me then what I know now. I started my own agency with a roster of talent, and as time went on, I realised companies were asking for more and more girls specifically. So, I thought – yeah, females are the way to go.

What is the GRLPWR Gang?
It’s a group of girls helping girls. GRLPWR Gang is a collective of talented and creative women coming together because they have a passion for supporting women in the creative industries and female empowerment.

We collaborate on networking events and branded projects, hosting talks for young girls on body image, beauty, feminism, social media and career access. We’ll be offering mentoring events for females – giving them first hand insight on how to break into the creative industries.

Why did you start GRLPWR Gang?
I felt there was a gap in the market for a support network. Many of the members are freelancers and so it can feel isolating, working alone. This is a sisterhood of likeminded individuals there to help each other, and girls who want to enter the creative industries.

What does it take to become a GRLPWR Gang member?
Most of the collective are my friends who I said to ‘look I’ve got this great idea, do you wanna be a part of it?” and they were like “yeah”. So it’s quite organic, and not forced which is nice. It’s important that GRLPWR Gang is inclusive, not exclusive – so it’s open to anyone.

If you want to join then you should come to one of our events and meet us, or sometimes we meet inspiring girls and then keep an eye on them. Like, they’re on our radar. Mostly you just have to be kind, respectful, want to help girls and be able to think of new and creative ways to generate revenue.

What advice do you have for any girl wanting to pursue a career in the media or creative sector?
My biggest bit of advice is to just DO it. Don’t say you’re going to do it, don’t think about doing it, actually go out there and do it. The most important thing is to start that journey, and if you mess up, it doesn’t matter. It’s fine to be scared, but don’t let it stop you from doing anything, harness that fear and turn it into a positive. And if you, like me, are living outside of London, or don’t have any contacts then find your own GRLPWR Gang.

The internet and social media is amazing, because you can find your own network, no matter what you’re into. So go online and interact, find friends with similar interests on Instagram – it’s so good for meeting people you might otherwise not have the chance to.

Finally, what do you stand for?
Girls helping girls and promoting kindness.

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Portland Travel Guide

My trip to Portland was for work – I work for British shoe brand Dr. Martens – and we had our SS18 Global Conference there. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to have some spare town and explore the city of Portland while I was there. This was actually my first time in North America – it’s never appealed to me that much, as coming from England I assumed the cultures would be pretty similar and I like to be thrown into the unknown. But, doubts aside, I had a blast.

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The famous Portland sign


Portland is small but perfectly formed and there’s definitely some cool little places to shop, eat and drink as well as fun activities. Here’s what I got up to…

EAT

Harlow

A cool vegan eatery in hip Hawthorne for when you want something healthy and nutritious.

Halsteins

Classic American burgers and out-of-this-world service.

Ruby Jewel

An amazing selection of ice creams – plus, they do a dairy-free version too.

Grassa

Pasta and salads in a cool and trendy canteen-style building.

Sizzle Pie Pizza

Some truly amazing and HUGE pizzas. A must-visit.


Andina

Traditional Peruvian fare. Try the ceviche, the SENSATIONAL lamb and their Pisco sours. Oh, and the live music is great too.

Bamboo Sushi

Cheap and tasty sushi. Try their 7 kinds of roe.

DRINK

White Owl Social Club

An authentic dive bar with great beers and live music.

10 Barrel

The only place I found with a rooftop.

Sassy’s Strip Club

The most fun ever. Fully nude, fully fun. You’ll see a great mix of people in here and tattooed naked ladies. This was my favourite place in Portland.

STAY

Residence Inn

Huge, apartment-like rooms with dishwashers, dressing rooms and desks and a great outdoor area.

Ace Hotel

You know what’s up. Great bar too.

SHOP

Dr. Martens shop

This is biased as I work for them, but the staff are so friendly. Just go in and chat.

Powells book store

The biggest and best bookshop I’ve ever seen. Just huge.

 

DO

Hire a Nike Bike

They’re orange and Nike-branded. Much better than London’s Santander ones.

Go record hunting at Jackpot records

A cute and quirky record shop. Hit the dollar bin for some bargains.

Have you been to Portland? What are your tips?

Climbing Mount Batur in Ubud, Bali

Climbing Mt. Batur in Ubud was such a great experience; at the time I couldn’t be bothered (you have to set off around 2am) but once I got to the top it was so worth it. Myself, my housemate Sinead, my friend and fellow blogger Lulu and her boyfriend Will all climbed together. We paid around £20 each after a little bit of haggling, but I met someone who paid less (and many who paid more).

Mount Batur is a proper tourist trap, there are people bussed in in their hundreds. So you’ll be part of a big group ascending in the dark. We were assigned a guide, there’s one guide for about six people, and given torches. My torch didn’t actually work, and they didn’t replace it, so I was climbing in the dark… fun!

The climb up isn’t hard but it’s difficult because it’s pitch black and also the volcanic rock is quite loose – I definitely slipped a few times. Having a little group of us meant we kept morale up and we all got the giggles halfway up – I think it was the altitude.

Once we reached the summit around sunrise, it was all worth it. The climb took around 3 hours and by the end I was pretty exhausted. But the view is so amazing – you’re way, way above the clouds and the sunrise is spectacular.

After gazing at the sun… and resting… we went to see the geysers and craters and came across the world’s friendliest monkeys, they were literally crawling all over us. So cute.

The descent was definitely easier, but by this point it was pretty hot and we were just knackered. I slept in the bus the entire way home.

TIPS:
Wear proper footwear for heaven’s sake. I saw people wearing flip flops – terrible idea.
Take snacks – I got so hungry about, oh, 20 minutes in. The food they provide is so paltry and basic.
Take water. Obvs.
Take bananas for the monkeys if you want to play with them (and watch your hats/sunglasses, they’ll steal them).

 

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The view

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Above the clouds

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Gross photo of me feeding a monkey

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so high…

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This is a *great* photo of a monkey

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This is another pic of a monkey

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Monkey

What I Wore: Bali Edition

On holiday my style gets way more colourful and outlandish – in London I feel as though you get funny looks if you go brighter than navy. I’ll often be the most colourful person n the tube, wearing cobalt or red in a sea of grey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking neutrals, my work wardrobe is mainly black, white, nude and navy. And it works. But when you’re in vaycay mode anything goes and you can just have way more fun with fashion.

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Last time I went to Bali, my main lament was that I just didn’t bring enough bikinis, so this year I brought about 10… which may have been too many but whatever, I loved them all. I got one special (read: expensive) bikini from independent label Just Sauced, a few cheap sale styles for ASOS and some sporty bikinis from Topshop. H&M are also failproof for swimwear. My body shape doesn’t suit one pieces as my stomach is basically my least-fat body part, so why am I going to cover that up? But I do think a nice swimsuit looks super chic – my friend Emma had a lovely low-cut one.

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Temple outfit

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JUST SUACED Lula bikini

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Hunza G bikini

Ubud market in Bali is amazing for bargains, I picked up loads of lightweight colourful dresses for less than £2 each and some really beautiful patterned sarongs. The sarongs are especially useful and multitasking: as a dress, skirt, shawl, headscarf, handle on a broken bag, beach towel and… sarong. Also I’ve been using them to add colour to my home since I got back.

Anyway, check out what I wore in Bali – what’s your vaycay style?

WANT TO SHOP MY STYLE? CLICK HERE.

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Haggling in the market

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