The Women’s Prize for Fiction winners, ranked (24-11)

There are so many book awards out there, and they all have different characters. By this, I mean that there are some whose winners I generally find aren’t to my personal taste (the Booker), there are some whose winners are a real mixed bag (the Pulitzer), and there are some whose winners I, with only a few exceptions, absolutely love (the Women’s Prize). The Women’s Prize was formerly known as the Orange Prize, the Bailey’s Prize and, as the current name would suggest, it is awarded to a woman (for the best original full-length novel published in English in the UK).

I’ve read all of the 24 Women’s Prize winners and at least 20 other shortlisted titles, and there’s only one I can pick out as being a book I really didn’t enjoy (hint: it only made the Women’s Prize shortlist, but it did win the Booker a few years ago). Most of the winners I’ve liked, really liked, or absolutely loved, but there were some I loved more than others. In anticipation for the 25th award being announced next week, I’ve ranked all the winners and split it up into two posts. Catch my top 10 on the day of the prize announcement next Wednesday, and here are my choices for 24 to 11 (but even these books on the “bottom” half of the list are still well worth a read!).

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What I read in quarantine

At the start of the pandemic I couldn’t read at all. I sat listlessly on the couch, unable to do anything but scroll endlessly through twitter. I was afraid to see what horrible news would come out next, more afraid to miss any of it. As time went on, I ventured back into the world of books, at first slowly and then voraciously. The world of fiction let me retreat, while the world of nonfiction offered some semblance of control through education. Now, as I finally get the chance to reemerge into the world after two weeks of self-quarantine (after returning from Southeast Asia to the United States), three months of self-isolation (like hell I was racing out to crowded bars or beaches), and another two weeks of self-quarantine (after moving to Ireland—right, that also happened recently), and in that time I’ve read 29 books. Here are my favourites of the books that got me through it.

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500 days of twenties

I’ve got this great app called Countdown Star on my phone that I love. You input an event and it how many days there are until the date (or from the date, if you’re counting up from the day of your birth or whatever past occasion you want to celebrate or remember). 19 days until Steve and I go to Japan. 59 until we go to Tasmania to hike the Overland Track, 11 days since we got engaged (oh yes, did I not mention? …more on that next week), 10,457 days since I was born, and so on. And today it is exactly 500 days until I turn 30. Because I’m me and I love a good list, of course that called for one. A short-term bucket list of sorts, 30 things I want to do between now and 500 days from now, when I leave my twenties and join the world of thirty, flirty, and thriving.

I won’t share the whole list as some things are quite personal, but here are some of the items I plan to check off:

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My mid-year check-in

You know me, I love to make a good list. I make New Year resolutions less because of a “new year, new me” mindset (I think you can make positive changes in your life any time of year!) but more because it’s an excuse to bust out my bullet journal and my google sheets and make a bunch of lists. I also love to take stock, of favourite things and experiences, successes and failures, and everything else. So of course I love a mid-year check-in as well. My resolutions this year were to reconnect with some of the things and people I love, rather than specific plans or goals, but I have a few hard stats for this halfway point:

Books read: 29
Kilometres run: 531
Blogs posted: 27
Movies watched: 14
Gigs attended: 7
Trails hiked: 9

And here are some things that can’t be quantified:

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Favourite face: my makeup essentials

(and now for something a bit more lighthearted than my last post)

When I was packing to move from the United States to New Zealand, I left a lot of my makeup behind, hoping that my sister or mom would get some use out of it. When I moved from New Zealand to Australia, I got rid of more makeup, admitting to myself that the five-year-old lipstick I had worn twice but kept telling myself I was totally going to wear again was doing nothing more than taking up space and weighing down my already too-heavy luggage.

Arriving in Australia, I had an idea. I put all of my makeup into one box, and as I used it I replaced it in another box. At the end of my year here, I’ll know exactly which cosmetics I never reach for, and which are worth carrying on to my next country. Six months in, half of the first box is still untouched.

I’ve also put myself more or less on a makeup “no-buy.” Makeup in Australia is ridiculously pricey, and again, I realised that I already had more than I need. Following makeup artists and enthusiasts on instagram and youtube can make it easy to fall into the trap of consumerism, thinking that every new release is a must-have. But really, it’s much better to “shop your stash” and make use of the items you already have rather than blowing money and creating waste. Since getting here, I’ve only purchased an inexpensive foundation (The Ordinary’s serum foundation) and a brown eyeliner.

(I have bought a decent amount of skincare, to be fair)

These two things have not only helped me cut down on my spending and consumption, but have also showed me what my makeup favourites are as they’re the ones I reach for again and again. Here’s my top pick in every category:

Primer: Hourglass Veil Mineral

I never understood the point of primer until I used this one. It feels super silky and smooth and creates the perfect base, especially paired with my favourite foundation (see below). I don’t use primer every day because I’m lazy, but when I really want my makeup to stay put, this is definitely my go-to. Also it has SPF 15, which isn’t that much but everyday SPF is important so it’s still something that adds an extra plus to this primer.

Foundation: Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick

I always had the idea that stick foundation was for super heavy coverage, and this one can definitely do that. However, when an associate at Sephora recommended it to me, she offered to do an application to show me how lightly it could be applied. She used a super light touch and a lot of blending, and when I saw how my skintone looked perfectly even but the foundation felt like nothing on my face I was hooked. Plus it does have that double-duty option for heavier coverage so it’s a versatile pick if you’re trying to cut down each type of product.

Concealer: Sephora Collection Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer

I have darrrrrk undereye circles and this concealer does the job with little effort and minimal creasing. It’s comparable to the Nars Radient Creamy Concealer except much more affordable, which is great because I can buy multiple shades to account for different skin tones in different seasons. On good skin days I can even use it to spot conceal in place of all-over foundation.

Eyeshadow: Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette 

While MR is a favourite of beauty gurus and their dramatic glam looks, you might not think that the palette would be perfect for every day. However, with a mix of shimmery champagne and pink hues, some lovely matte beiges and taupes, and a few burgundies and oranges to add spice to neutral looks, it’s not only a great choice for multi-shadow looks, but almost any of the colours can be lightly washed over your whole eyelid for a quick one-swipe-and-done style.

Eyeliner: Clinique High Impact Custom Black Kajal

Like many girls, my first makeup products were leftovers from my mom, generally items she didn’t want from Clinique’s gift with purchase bags. When I got older, she let me in on a secret, that there’s a website that shows which department stores have the GWP and exactly what’s in it at any given time. Anyway, this eyeliner is one I got in a GWP bag and I love it. It’s the perfect consistency to go on easily for both subtle and dramatic looks, it stays in place, and it doesn’t require a sharpener.

Mascara: Makeup Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara

I don’t actually wear mascara often anymore because it’s a pain to get off, but when I do it’s usually this one. Perfect for a bold look, it’s the next best thing to falsies, and it doesn’t clump or smudge. Tip: get the travel size. Not only is it for some reason better than the full size in my opinion, but it’s also half the price (12USD vs 24USD) for more than half the product (0.16oz vs 0.23oz). Plus you might actually have a chance to finish it within six months, which is how often you’re really meant to replace your mascara.

Brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade

There’s a reason drag queens love ABH. Dipbrow does. not. budge. It definitely has some growing pains because it’s so pigmented that even if you think you’re using way too little you’re probably using way too much, but once you get the hang of it it’s so easy to draw and/or define your brows. If I do no other makeup on my face, I always do my brows because even just filling them in a little bit, which only takes a few seconds, makes such a difference to my face.

Blush: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

I never used to wear blush until I saw this tutorial a couple of years ago and now it’s one of my favourite ways to warm up my face and give my makeup a soft, romantic look. This blush was Sephora’s birthday gift item a few years ago and I love how it is not sparkly. It’s long-lasting and when it does fade, it does so naturally rather than getting patchy. Unfortunately I dropped mine and haven’t replaced it (due to my no-buy thing) so I don’t use it as much at the moment, but I do love it.

Bronzer: Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer

I know that everyone knows about this one because Kim K famously uses it, but it really is that good. I usually use it sparingly as a contour, but obviously it can also be used for its original purpose of bronzing. To make it pull triple duty, it’s also great for lightening my toiletries bag when I’m travelling and don’t want to bring a full eyeshadow pallet; the warm, medium brown colour is perfect for a single-shade eyelid look when applied a bit heavier with a fluffy brush.

Highligher: Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfecter Pressed Highlighter 

Speaking of “famous” makeup items, the Becca highlighter in Champagne Pop is pretty much known as THE highlighter to get that blinding insta-worthy shine, but with a (significantly) lighter touch it offers a lovely, subtler shimmer as well. It’s definitely glittery, but the glitter is so finely milled and not chunky that it blends really well. And for a night out when you want to really glam it up? Obviously it’s perfect for turning yourself into the ultimate glow queen.

Setting Spray: NYX Dewy Finish

I used to use a matte setting spray and it made my face look so dry. I got rid of it when I left New Zealand and never looked back. This one doesn’t really make my face look “dewy” per se, but it keeps my foundation in place without making my skin feel tight or look dry, so that’s good enough. I always use it before I put on mascara because it does make the mascara run a little bit, but other than that it’s a good product for days I really want my makeup to last.

Lip: Nars Satin/Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

I could rave about these lip pencils for days. Another product I discovered thanks to the Sephora birthday gift, they’re creamy, soft, go on so smoothly, and last for a surprisingly long time for a non-liquid lip product. Rikugien from the satin line is a perfect everyday nude pink, and I love to amp up an evening look with the velvet matte Cruella. The one downside is that they have a bad habit of opening in my purse, but the good definitely outweighs the annoyance of lipstick marks on the lining of my bags.

Bonus: Makeup Remover: innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Water 

In the past (and, uh, in the present) I’ve definitely been guilty of going to bed with my makeup on. I know it’s so bad for your skin but I did say I’m lazy. This makeup remover/cleanser is the best I’ve found for balancing effectiveness and easiness with not feeling like you’ve scrubbed your face with disinfectant. And it smells nice, too.

2018… 75% loaded

I have no idea where September went, but somehow it’s the first week of October, and that means the year is three-quarters over. Because I am a to-do list-making, bujo-obsessive, I’m already taking stock of the year. I can barely handle to even think of current affairs at the moment, but I am glad to look back and forward at my own year. Here’s a brief list of things I’ve done:

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