How to: Begin journaling

I can in no way describe myself as an expert on the topic as I just began journaling quite recently but I thought I would write this post, talking about the things that helped me start and the things that continue to help.

I think that the most important thing is to just start. Creativity is not something that you can learn but the more creative things you do, the easier it will become to think creatively. The most difficult thing to do is begin, once you start creativity will flow naturally. Another notable point is as long as you’re doing something, it is enough. It doesn’t have to be picture perfect, it is for you.

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With that being said, the worst thing you can do is force yourself to be creative. It is always good to push yourself so that you are constantly stimulating your creative brain but if you’re really not feeling it, leave it and come back when you feel more ready. Remember that journaling is meant to be a release, a way to relax and get in touch with how you’re feeling. It should be your time to sit and reflect and let your mind wander, it should never feel forced and it should never feel like work. I always enjoy journaling in my pajamas with a cup of tea.

All you need is an actual journal and whatever stationery you have around your house. Circling back to the first point, just start, you don’t need any fancy equipment to begin. Some of the things I use are: scraps of paper, old magazines, crayons from when I was a kid, newspapers and some random pens I have since forever.

Find inspiration from everything around you. Stop and look around, inspiration can be drawn from everything around you, including people. Your immediate surroundings are good enough – your bedroom, the view from your window, the people you live with, the people walking by, your morning cup of coffee, a leaf blowing in the wind. Literally anything can be a source of inspiration so become more observant of the things around you. One of the best things about journaling is that it encourages observation and appreciation of everything you see.

One of the things I find most difficult is being original because the minute you go onto instagram or pinterest there are thousands of pictures of the most stunning journal entries and its so easy to copy them, I am guilty of this. It will still always look a bit different because you’re doing it and so it will have a bit of you in it but still, the most effective journal entries are ones that you do yourself, from scratch. If you’re just starting out, looking at pictures online and then using them as inspiration can be a huge help but after the first few times try not looking at anything at all and doing your own thing, you’ll be surprised by the beautiful entries you’re capable of creating!

Find people online who inspire you. They should be people who spark something inside of you. People whose posts make you want to pull out your journal and disappear into it for a while. Here are some of my favourites (on instagram): noor_unnahar ; ohareeba ; overalladventures

I still don’t feel confident in my writing abilities and I’m sure many newbies don’t, so I would suggest that in the beginning find pieces of writing that you love and copy those down in your journal until a time that you are ready to write for yourself. I’m still copying down my favorite pieces of writing because I feel like other people’s words always best describe my own feelings.

There are many different types of journaling so research them all and find one that you think you will enjoy the most. I think my journal is a very creative and free one. I don’t have any structure to it and there aren’t any rules, I just enter whatever I’m feeling that day. You may be better suited to a more structured type of journal like a bullet journal, everyone is different.

Lastly, journaling is all about you so do whatever you want with it. You can be wild and free and fearless and boundless. There are zero limits. You can be the person you truly are between the pages of your journal even if, maybe especially if you’re not yet ready to show that person to the world.

I really hope that this has been helpful. If there is anything you’d like to know please drop me a comment below or send me a message or email through my instagramthebookishnerd Also follow me there to see pictures of my new journal entries amongst other bookish pictures!

If you’re feel okay to share your journal entries please do tag me in your pictures or send them to me, I would love to see them and become inspired. Until next time…

xx

tbn

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The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis:

”It has been twenty-four years since a young Helena spent a magical holiday in Cyprus, where she fell in love for the first time. When the now crumbling house, ‘Pandora’, is left to her by her godfather, she returns to spend the summer there with her family.

Yet as soon as Helena arrives at Pandora, she knows that its idyllic beauty masks a web of secrets that she has kept from William, her husband, and Alex, her son. At the difficult age of thirteen, Alex is torn between protecting his beloved mother, and growing up. And equally desperate to learn the truth about his real father. . .

When, by chance, Helena meets her childhood sweetheart, a chain of events is set in motion that threatens to make her past and present collide. Both Helena and Alex know that life will never be the same, once Pandora’s secrets have been revealed.”

My thoughts:

This book is the perfect summer read. As it is currently summer and summer holidays for many of us in South Africa, this is the perfect book to pick up or take away with you on your beach holiday. I rated it 5/5 stars, here’s why:

The first thing that really stood out to me was how beautifully described everything was. One of the best things about reading is that books can transport you to a whole new world and so books that have such intricate and lovely descriptive detail are only more enjoyable to read.

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The book in general is written very well and the introduction was done expertly. It was gripping and excellently written which instantly pulled me into its pages. From reading the introductory pages I was hooked and each time I picked the book up I was transported to a world in Cyprus. The author took me to Greece with the characters and that was the best thing.

The world around me would instantly melt away and suddenly I was there, with the characters, who I became very attached to. Their drama was my drama, I felt the happiness and the pain, the love and the loss, the excitement and the memories. It all became a part of me.

The characters were astounding and very real. I loved them and hated them and I never wanted to leave them. I learnt something from all of them and most importantly they made me very happy.

I fell in love with Cyprus through this book and promptly added it to my bucket list. I could see the landscape through the vivid descriptions even though I have never even seen pictures of Cyprus before. It also really made me want to go on a summer holiday and I loved it because for a little while each day whilst I was reading it, I was on a summer holiday in Cyprus.

The plot was really good and it sucked me in more than I expected it to. There was also an incredible plot twist that had my jaw drop from its hinges and that was completely un-guessable, which is obviously the best kind of twists!

I feel like this book is a classic novel in the sense that it was a story full of drama and ups and downs. A story more than anything, just a classic story. There was nothing too crazy or too difficult to process. It was easy to digest and an absolute pleasure to read. It was enjoyable with the right amount of lightheartedness and seriousness. It was also funny and interesting. Simply put – a great read.

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Let me know your thoughts on The Olive Tree if you’ve read it and tell me if you’ve visited Cyprus and if not do you want to?

xx

tbn

*A huge thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for sending me a copy to review. I am forever grateful.

Reading motivation for kids

Ever since I could read I wanted to. As a kid I loved reading and that love only grew as I got older. However, the other day I realised that not all kids enjoy reading, in fact lots of kids consider it boring and think of it as a chore. I had some ideas on what I think might help motivate children who don’t particularly like reading to read.

These tips might be useful to parents, caregivers or teachers.

Before I begin I would like to mention that I am no professional and all of the content in this post are my thoughts and opinions. If I do contradict any specific scientific proofs please let me know so that it may be corrected.

I think that the key is to make kids want to read, it should never feel like work or a chore. It should be something to look forward to.  Essentially, make a child fall in love with reading. Here are some of the ideas you can use:

1. Create a reading treasure box

Fill a box with small things that children like. For example, little sweets, chocolate coins, stickers, stationary, small toys, key rings etc. Once they have reached their reading goal for the day or perhaps the week, they get to choose something from the box. The box should be something exciting and something that they look forward to. This will create a form of motivation for them and they will want to read. It gives them something to work towards.

2. Make reading exciting

Get a child interested in a book by reading the beginning pages of the book out loud. Make it exciting by doing all of the voices and expressions, create suspense and tension with your voice and then suddenly, STOP, just before an intriguing bit. Get them on the edge of their seats before stopping abruptly. This should spark a chil’s curiosity and they’ll want to know what happens. You then tell them that they have to read themselves to find out. Sometimes children just need a little help to bring their imaginations to life. Staring at the words on the pages trying to be excited by it can be very intimidating and thus become boring. By doing all the voices, a child will become gripped by the book and natural curiosity will make him want to find out what happens next.

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3. Use visuals

This somewhat stems from the previous point – children sometimes need a little help to spark their imagination. Show them pictures related to the book or little drawings of the characters or even book trailers from YouTube. These might spark their interest and get them into the book or get them to fall in love with the characters. Another interesting thing to do which can also be really fun is: read them a description of a character or a few characters from the book and ask them to draw what they think the character looks like from the description, in this way children may realise that their imaginations are one of the best places to hang out and that they can in fact create anything with it. Also seeing their own drawings of the characters may cause them to want to know what the characters get up to and how they end up.

4. Use audio books

Audio books serve the same purpose as doing the voices out loud. It creates an interest for the book in the child without the child having to read the words. Again, switch it off just before a main event or a crazy twist and the child has to read on to find out what happens.

5. Choose the right book

As J.K.Rowling said: “If you don’t like reading you haven’t found the right book.” I think that many children don’t enjoy reading because they are forced to read books about things that they have no interest in. If you’ve already tried getting a child to read various different children’s classics like Harry Potter and he still shows no interest in reading, ask him what he would like to read or pick a book relating to something he is interested in. The point is to get them reading, no matter what it is. You can even try a different form of reading so instead of novels, maybe graphic novels, highly illustrated books, magazines or comic books.

6. Make fun reading snacks

These don’t have to be very elaborate, just little snacks that children enjoy. For example, apple slices, dried fruit, gummies, biscuits, almonds e.t.c I once saw a picture somewhere of a packet of gummy worms labelled ‘bookworms’ to enjoy whilst reading and I thought that was really cute. Something like that gives children something to look forward to during reading time and may make them want to read more because of it.

7. Free time once the goal is reached

Children generally love time to themselves to do whatever they like. Promising 5-10 minutes of free time if they reach the reading goal will excite them and give them a goal to work towards. The idea is that in the process of reaching that goal, they fall in love with what they’re reading without even realising it.

8. Find out why reading is the enemy

Many children don’t enjoy reading because of some underlying cause. It might be that they find reading difficult or because they can’t seem to make sense of the words or it’s a book that they hate. Whatever it is there is usually a reason behind their dislike for reading. Find out what it is and fix it.

Book suggestions

As I said before, the key is to find a book that the child will like and be interested in. These are some suggestions of popular and wonderful children’s books which I have read and loved that may be a hit although it’s not guaranteed.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dhal 

Matilda by Roald Dhal 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dhal 

The BFG by Roald Dhal 

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol 

The Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (realeasing in South Africa in November 2017)

The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton

The island/castle of adventure by Enid Blyton

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

A little princes by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

Anything by Dr. Suess

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

*All of the above titles except Nevermoor are available at Exclusive Books, Readers Warehouse and Takealot.com (Nevermoor will be available in South Africa next month in all leading bookstores)

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I hope that this post was helpful. Please do leave me a comment below telling me if it was. I’d love to know. You can pop me a comment or an email through my instagram page too.

xx

tbn

*This post is in not sponsored by Exclusive Books, Readers Warehouse or Takelot.com 

Truth or Dare by Nonn Pratt

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis:

This book does not actually have a synopsis. The cover is really cool though, it has two sides that both have the title on but they’re upside down. The book is actually written in two parts and you have to physically turn the book upside down to read the second part. It is very intriguing and makes up for there not being a synopsis (I’m not sure that I’ve explained it very well though, the pictures should help make sense of this.)

My thoughts:

This book is very different in a really good way and the list I wrote whilst I was reading it raves on for pages about its good things however, there were some things about it that I did not quite like which is why I gave it 4/5 stars.

The writing style was really great and very unique which I liked but I also disliked, in the beginning I found it a bit difficult to read and I had to constantly re-read sentences and paragraphs to grasp what they were saying although the more I read it, the easier it became.

The book and story itself is very interesting and as I mentioned before, the cover is so intriguing that I really wanted to read the book and it did not disappoint in that regard. It is quite gripping from the cover itself before you even begin to actually read it.

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I loved that the book deals with important issues and that it was not all fluff. I also really like that it is current and very relatable to a Young Adults because of its references to the internet and YouTube etc. It also made reference to important issues that are very common in today’s time, for example cyber bullying and xenophobia. I like that. I think its important for YA books to have more than just fluffiness in them.

I found that the book as a whole was completely original and not at all cliché. It gave a very unique and completely different look at high school life which I enjoyed. The one thing about it that I did find cliché was Sef’s character. A lot of the time, to me, he seemed very cliché in the sense that he was portrayed as an overly confident teenager who is hiding deep inner pain and animosity which causes him to be mean and distant but its all okay because he’s actually soft, sweet and riddled with pain inside. I feel like that is something I have read so many times before and I wish that he was portrayed differently because the entire book is fresh and original.

It is a really fun and easy to read book, it is quite charming as well but at the same time it’s very serious and real. It is also very sweet and it made my heart race a couple of times.

In the beginning it was difficult to read and I did not consider it a page-turner but as I read on it became very addictive. I really could not put it down in the end, my eyes were glued to the page!

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One of the main characters comes from an Indian background which I found notable because it’s not something we see very often in YA books and I enjoyed the diversity. The book made very subtle references to race which I liked because it was not obvious and overdone but well incorporated. It was basically just written excellently.

The plot is beautiful, the pace is great, its original and it made me think SO much.

It is one of those books where the ending just leaves you totally stunned and just sitting there staring at the wall thinking WOW! And those are the kind of books that always have an impact on me which is mainly why I loved the book. There are things about it that bugged me but in the end it was beautiful and I would still recommend it 100% because past all of those things it is an incredible book.

When I first began reading this book it didn’t seem good. It was a little bit immature, I didn’t like the main character and I found the whole ‘dare’ concept a little bit silly to be honest. I couldn’t seem to get into the book, it just felt not right somehow however, by the time I got to the end I had a long list of amazing things to be said about it and my perspective changed completely. So even though it has its flaws, I enjoyed it very much in spite of them all.

I would recommend you pick it up and give it a read. I would love to know what you think if you do,  please leave me a comment below or come on over and chat to me on instagram @thebookishnerd

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xx

tbn

P.S Many thanks to PanMacmillan South Africa for the review copy. It’s always an honour!

 

Jozi’s books and blogs festival 2017

I attended the Jozi’s books and blogs festival(jozisbbf) for the second time this year and it was wonderful!

The line up of authors and guests was extensive and exciting. The program was great and the entire event was extremely organized.

The place was buzzing with energy and I loved how bright, colorful and inviting everything was. The hosts were highly effective in terms of assisting to find the correct rooms and were very helpful not to mention kind.

Due to a bit of unfortunate timing (on my side) I only managed to attend one panel and one workshop both of which were interesting, inspiring, organized, educational and really fun.

The panel was called Young Adult Novels and was in the teen part of the programme. There was meant to be five authors but unfortunately, one of them did not make it. The panel was chaired by Rafiq Jajbhay  and the authors were Joanne McGregor author of Hushed, Fiona Snyckers author of the Trinity series, Layla Khan author of That Nerd and Ayesha Desai author of Jasmine in the Wind. I had previously not read any of the books by these authors but at the end of the panel they were all promptly added to my (very long) tbr.

I absolutely loved the panel. The questions were well thought out and each one led to an interesting discussion. It was such an interactive panel and I really liked that too. I found that getting to know the people behind the books makes reading a much better experience because now I understand a bit more about the thought processes and the writing processes behind books and it makes reading, for me, more enjoyable. The panel had an amazing, relaxed atmosphere which made it very comfortable and as I said I loved how interactive it was-the audience was asked questions constantly and kept engaged through the entire discussion. The authors were such lovely people and they were so funny and absolutely brilliant. It was an honour to be there, to be able to hear them speak and I left feeling happy and inspired.

The workshop I attended was a teen writing workshop with Ameera Patel who is both an actress and an author,  she wrote the book called Outside the lines. The workshop was a huge learning opportunity and I still cannot believe how much I learnt in such a short time and without even realising it. Ameera was vibrant, energetic and a great teacher. The workshop was also very interactive and it pushed me right out of my comfort zone. I am a bona fide introvert and I find it quite difficult to speak out in front of strangers and during the workshop I had to speak up, loudly. I had to read the things I wrote in front of a room full of people I didn’t know and I did it. It was an exhilarating experience, something new, and I loved every minute of it because it helped me realise that doing something, however small, out of my comfort zone is one of the best ways to learn.

In addition to that I felt motivated, inspired and ready to write anything when I walked out the door.

Another feature at the event that I really enjoyed was the photo exhibition held by the Roshni photo club. I like that a different form of art, that is besides the written word, was showcased. I do also take an interest in photography and I enjoyed the exhibition very much.

Overall I think that the jozisbbf 2017 was an enormous success and an incredible achievement in the way of literature, reading and blogging within our community. I enjoyed myself immensely and I am really looking forward to the festival next year.

I only bought one book off the list at the festival, Jasmine in the wind by Ayesha Desai and I thought it was stunning. I plan on getting my hands on all of the others soon so stay tuned for full reviews!

xx

tbn

 

Windfall by Jennifer. E. Smith

*This book was sent to me by PanMacmillan South Africa in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis: 

“Alice has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for the last three years. On his eighteenth birthday she buys him a lottery ticket, and to their astonishment he wins the jackpot. The two of them are suddenly thrown together with the world at their feet. And when Teddy finally decides how to spend his money, who better to go on that adventure with him than Alice?

But money can’t buy love, and Alice and Teddy are about to find out more about themselves and each other than they ever could have imagined.”

My thoughts:

The good things about this book are plentiful but there definitely were some things about it I didn’t like. That is why I gave it a 3half/5 stars.

Before I even talk about the book, I have to mention the cover. It is absolutely stunning and I would want to read it based on the cover alone.

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The first half of the book was incredible. A real page-turner, original, funny, interesting and well written. It got my heart racing a couple of times (all. of. the. feels.) which every contemporary should do (in my opinion).

The characters were lovely and very well-developed through the book. I found that they had real depth and interesting as well as very intriguing pasts.

The book was written very nicely and everything was beautifully described. I found myself marvelling at the imagery on every page. Really just wonderful pictures were created in my mind.

I found the second part of the book, more specifically towards the end a little bit less enjoyable and interesting and a lot more cliché. For me, the pace was too slow and I really just wanted to get to the end.

It was all sunshine and rainbows and very predictable. I did not like how everything Teddy thought about in the end, was this huge, brilliant, generous idea. It was a tad bit overdone which, to me, made it unbelievable.

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It did deal a lot with loss and I loved that because it really taught me about grief and pain and truly helped me to understand more about that. It also deals with the concept of money and how money is not the most important thing which I really liked. When YA books are deeper, more real and deal with things that make them more than just fluffy they are, in my opinion, automatically more enjoyable

Overall despite the few things I did not quite enjoy about the book I would still recommend. I thought it was good enough to read to the very last page. The pros outweigh the cons and the things I did not quite take to, are things that other people may not notice at all. It is the kind of book that causes a feeling of warmth and happiness inside.

xx

tbn

P.S Shout out to PanMacmillan South Africa for sending me a review copy of this book. It is always an honour!

 

How to: Bake a Harry Potter birthday cake!

I’m not sure it’s possible to outgrow Harry Potter and so for my elder sister’s birthday a few days ago, I baked her a Harry Potter birthday catke. More specifically, I recreated the cake Hagrid gave Harry on his eleventh birthday.

I am somewhat of an amateur baker and I thought it would be cool to do a blog post with the recipe and instructions on how to decorate it, especially because it was very easy to make.

I took a basic vanilla sponge cake recipe and I added a little bit of cocoa to make it chocalat-ey. I used whipped cream instead of icing because it’s lighter and not as rich-which is preferred in my house. So, let’s get started!

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Bake the cakes & make the topping!

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1/2 a cup of cooking oil
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line two 22cm cake tins with parchment paper.
  3. Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Then set aside.
  4. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water and vanilla essence into a large mixing bowl. Beat at a medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat until it is well incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Add the egg whites to the mixture and fold them in. Be gentle but thorough.
  7. Stir in the cocoa powder.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the two tins, knock them gently on a hard surface  to release air bubbles and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
  9. Once the cakes are removed from the oven allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, prepare the topping!

Ingredients 

  • large tub of whipped cream
  • pink/peach food colouring
  • green food coloring

Method 

  1. Divide the cream between two bowls, in the ratio 3:1
  2. Add pink/peach food coloring to the larger portion and green food coloring to the smaller portion. Mix until the desired colour is achieved.IMG_8194

Decorate the cakes!

  1. Ensure that the cakes have cooled completely. Then sandwich them together using a thin layer of cream.
  2. Next, cover the entire cake with the pink cream. Remember that this is Hagrid’s cake, he probably sat on it at some point, so… we’re not going for perfect. It is supposed to be a little rough around the edges.
  3. Using either a toothpick or a skewer draw a jagged line down the centre of the cake(use the pictures as a guide). Be light at first and once you’re sure it’s how you want it to look, dig a little deeper so that the cake shows through.
  4. Use the toothpick/skewer again, this time to lightly outline the words (HAPPEE BIRTHDAE [NAME OF PERSON]) 
  5. Attach a small round tipped nozzle to the end of a piping bag and fill it with the green cream, pipe over the letters you traced out and again, this is Hagrid, so be a little messy, it will look more authentic if it’s a little jagged! 

And that’s it! It seems really long but I promise you it’s the easiest thing to make and it tastes amazing. Also, it’s a great photo prop if you’re a bookstagrammer!

I would love to see how it turns out if you re-create it so please tag me in your pictures on instagram- @thebookishnerd

xx                                                                         tbn