Magazine Career Must Reads

Journalism careers are always a topic of interest. From the big screen world of The Devil Wears Prada, the retelling of great investigative journalism such as All the President’s Men and, more recently, Spotlight, TV documentaries taking you inside Tatler’s offices and the phone hacking scandal hitting front pages, journalists inspire stories as much as they actually write them.

I’ve wanted to work as a journalist since my Year 5 teacher mentioned the idea to me aged 9, and I’ve wanted to work in magazines since my first work placement at Horse magazine aged 14. But even when you are on a placement it’s hard to get a sense of what it is really like to work there, and films like The Devil Wears Prada are more drama and nonsense than anything remotely real.

P1030771 (2)P1030776 (2)

But I have discovered the best way to delve into magazine offices, learn about publishing history and hear stories about the greatest parties with the biggest names is through memoirs by magazine editors. These books are almost impossible to track down. All three I have here I discovered pretty much by accident. I’m still on the search for more, and I promise to report back if/when I find them…

*Mama Mia, by Mia Freedman: Mia became editor of Australian Cosmopolitan at just 24. Her memoir documents her rise to the editor’s chair, her highs and lows as editor and her departure from the world of magazines alongside an intimate glimpse into her personal life. My aunt gave me this book for my birthday, and I became completely absorbed by it. Mia is witty and honest, and gives us a very real look into what it is like to work in magazines. We see the glamorous side of her career but she doesn’t allow it to overwhelm the book and she isn’t a name-dropper, you learn more about her co-workers than the celebs. I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in magazines.

*A Diary of The Lady, by Rachel Johnson: This couldn’t be funnier even if it tried. Rachel Johnson’s memoir of her time as editor of The Lady takes on the form of a diary, with almost daily entries documenting the havoc at Lady HQ. I particularly loved this one because I have done placements at The Lady (they are always looking for workies!), so I was familiar with the offices, the setting and many of the characters. She includes hilarious email chains trying to secure cover girls and columnists, past covers (including the one her beloved dog, Coco, “guest-edited”) and daily updates on her in-tray (in which she always laments the lack of chocolate). We don’t see much into her personal life, but I don’t think the book misses this. She is so funny and engaging, you just want to hear about each fast-paced and nutty new day at The Lady.

*The Vogue Factor, by Kirstie Clements:  Kirstie Clements was editor in chief of Vogue Australia for thirteen years when she was unceremoniously fired in 2012, and this is where the book begins. She then goes back to tell all on her career at Vogue, from answering the phones to the editor’s chair. You don’t see as much into the magazine offices in this book as you do with the other two. I felt it was all famous names, luxury travel and big parties, but that wasn’t balanced up with what it is like to produce Vogue every month. Having said that, she has some great anecdotes. I loved the chapters about Karl Largerfeld as guest editor, and when she managed to shoot and interview the royal couple of Denmark (the princess being an Aussie). It doesn’t quite have the lightness of touch of the other two and takes itself a little too seriously at times, but if fashion journalism is more your thing, this is definitely one to read.

If you guys know of any more memoirs like these, then please, please share – I’m desperate to get my hands on them!

A Few Favourites: January

So there it is, the first month of 2016 done and dusted. We began the year setting off fireworks at midnight, comparing New Year’s resolutions, taking down the Christmas decorations (sob) and heading back to work.

Despite threats of a serious case of January blues setting in, it’s actually been a fun and busy month. Temperatures have dropped, we’re thanking the high heavens for the car’s seat warmers and even awoke one Sunday morning to a dusting of snow. Tiarnan and I were lucky enough to escape on a spa break, and having massages, chilling in the Jacuzzi and generally being waited on was more than enough to banish any post-Christmas sadness.

So onwards and upwards to February – the month of all things lurve. I plan on spending it under a duvet waiting for winter to pass…

IMG_1799

*Turtlenecks: I have always had two clothing obsessions: white lace and stripes. After banning myself from buying anything stripey (because it really did get that out of control), I seem to have developed a new love… Turtlenecks. They are everywhere at the moment, and with good reason. There’s just nothing warmer! And somehow they manage to keep you feeling toasty while still looking good. I do enjoy a good blanket scarf, but they can leave my hair looking somewhat mad professor-ish. With the turtleneck, you don’t even need a scarf. All hail the turtleneck!

*Kindle: Ah, my Kindle. I’ve had it for over two years and we have a bit of an on-off relationship if I’m honest. It always comes out for summer holidays, but most of the time I just want to hold an actual book. But a combination of countless train journeys and getting back into Game of Thrones (hello enormous books) has made the two of us best friends. I can take it everywhere without even noticing I have it and any book I want to read is only a tap away.

Picture6

*Back to basics make-up: After all the glitter and excitement of festive make-up, I thought I’d be sad to see it go. As it happens, I’ve gone completely the other way. Heavy on skincare, light on make-up has been the way of January. For a polished but minimal look I’ve been absolutely loving my Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. The shades are mainly matte, but still beautifully creamy and so easy to blend. I’ve also been loving my Dermalogica skin smoothing cream, it feels like such a skin treat after a long day!

*The Mae Deli: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to explore London more, and this has to be my favourite January find. I wrote all about it here so I won’t bang on, but it’s such a friendly, welcoming place and everything is super healthy and so delicious. Deliciously Ella has generally been on it this month with her new book as well, and I’m excited to get recipe testing in February!

*The fit life: This month has been all about counteracting the festive indulgences. I’ve been hitting the gym and really enjoying it for the first time in a while. I also took on the 30 day squat challenge and I’ve absolutely loved it, I would highly recommend doing a 30 day challenge to feel great about yourself! Tiarnan and I have been creating healthy dinners together each evening and visiting juice bars to decide on our favourite (I’ll report back on that…) It’s very typical to be all about fitness in January, so let’s hope it continues.

Little Luxuries to Get Through Winter

Let’s start with a bit of honesty. Winter is a bloody miserable time.

We fantasise about hot chocolates, log fires, building snowmen and fresh days with clear blue skies. Sometimes this is the reality. But there’s also the flip side – forgetting your umbrella, freezing on station platforms and a severe vitamin D deficiency. And on top of that, we’re punishing ourselves with New Year’s resolutions rather than hibernating as we should be. We’ve just had ‘Blue Monday’, and I don’t blame us for feeling a bit down.

So to cheer everything up, I’ve come up with a list of little luxuries we need to get through winter. They’re nothing too crazy, just small things to make life that bit more comfortable. Because after all, it is winter and we deserve a treat.

P1030719 (3).JPG

*An enormous scarf: And by enormous, I really do mean enormous. I mean so big it could double up as a picnic blanket. I bought one last year when the cold in Newcastle just got too much and I haven’t looked back. They’re great as a scarf (obviously), but are also the best thing to travel with as they double up as a pillow or a blanket. This Christmas, I even snuck some presents home underneath it! I’ve currently got my eye on this one from Zara.

*Gorgeous knitwear: Spend that little bit more on your knitwear and you won’t regret it. Jumpers are my all time favourite thing (and I have far too many of them), but if you’re savvy and buy good quality ones, they will last for years. Topshop is my favourite place to buy knitwear, they have so many cool designs and aren’t astronomically priced. Top tip: try to avoid buying knitwear online, always test the quality before buying.

P1030718 (2)P1030715 (2)

*Luxurious handcream: Everything drys up in winter. Chapped lips and dry hands are, in my opinion, the absolute worst. Treat yourself to a lovely handcream and keep it on your bedside table or in your handbag so you actually remember to use it. The Soap & Glory handcreams are my all-time favourites, they sink in super quickly, are the perfect portable size and aren’t too pricey (yippee!). Cowshed is another gorgeous brand if you’re looking for something a little special.

*Scented candles: Nothing makes a home cosier than a scented candle. I have a million favourites, but The White Company candles are some of the very best. There’s a huge range of scents, from fruity to spicey to herbal to floral and you can buy everything from cute little tealights to enormous pillar candles. These medium size pillar candles are my favourite, they look gorgeous and smell incredible.

*A new cookbook: Winter is the perfect time for taste testing new recipes – we need delicious food for miserable evenings. Deliciously Ella Every Day landed on my doorstep last week, and I haven’t been so excited by a cookbook in a long time. It focuses on super healthy food that is quick to make with ingredients that are easy to track down and basic equipment. Whether you are mastering a veggie paella or a chocolate fudge cake, nothing warms the soul like food does.

A January Reading List

Got a New Year’s resolution to read more? Yeah, me too.

Reading is such a funny thing. It is so wonderful when you actually get round to doing it, but most of the time there is something else to occupy your attention. Today I’m offering up some inspiration to hopefully get your nose in a book this month and kick start those resolutions!

P1030607 (5)P1030608 (2)

*For city inspiration: Eat Like a Londoner, Tania Ballantine. This is a book to dip in and out of rather than read cover to cover, but if you live in London or are planning a trip (or just want to admire from afar!) you need to get your mitts on this. It suggests the perfect place for every occasion, whether you are popping out for after work drinks or planning a full blown birthday surprise. You will never be stuck for ideas again! Be warned though, you’ll be left with a ‘to visit’ list as long as your arm.

*For a thrill: I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh. If you struggle to pick up a book, choose one that won’t let you put it down. This book is as good as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but it (undeservedly) hasn’t received the same hype. The book starts with a horrible accident in which a little boy gets hit by a car on a rainy night. It then switches into Jenna Gray’s narrative as she escapes to the Welsh coast to start afresh after the accident, but it all too quickly starts to catch up with her… This book is so addictive and, just a heads up, it has the best twist I have ever come across (and I’ve read a lot of these books).

*For a health kick: Deliciously Ella, Ella Woodward. Everyone has heard of Deliciously Ella at this point. She has a blog (that I occasionally read) and an app (that I haven’t downloaded) but it’s her book that I love. Not only is it filled with inspiring recipes (some I’ve tried, most I haven’t if I’m being honest) but it is packed full of nutritional information which is so interesting and, most importantly, not preachy at all. She’s bringing out her second book this month, Deliciously Ella Every Day, and I can’t wait to get hold of it!

*For a classic: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll. If your resolution stipulates reading more classics, start with something short and fun. I love this book because of how inventive it is, and you should always remember that most of these classics (particularly the Victorian ones) are loved because they are great stories. Don’t get bogged down by what everything means, just enjoy the characters and the plot lines, because they are what make these novels wonderful.

2016 Goals

Yes, this blog post is a little late. But I figured that these goals are meant to apply for the entire year, so the fact we’re 10 days deep shouldn’t really matter.

I usually make resolutions, but then I also usually completely forget about them by spring. I can’t remember what 2015’s were but I’m guessing they were a similar selection to this year’s because, let’s be honest, they always follow a theme…

P1030603 (2)

*Get moving: I’m pretty good when it comes to exercise (though I certainly couldn’t claim saint-like status around Christmas), but it does tend to come in fits and starts. For the last few years my exercise has only consisted of hitting the gym, but this year I really want to include more variety in my regime so I don’t get bored. I’ve started with the 30 day squat challenge (which was a killer to begin with) and taken up yoga, and I’m planning on running outside more and attending a few more exercise classes alongside my usual gym sessions. It’s so important to mix things up a bit to maintain interest, so hopefully 2016 will be the best year for exercise yet.

*Get reading: When I finished my English Literature degree last summer, I felt so exhausted I couldn’t bear to look at another book again. Thankfully, I’m over that now but so far I’ve stuck to easy reading and it has completely lost my interest. This year, I want to always have a book on the go, and read some of the classics that I’ve managed to miss so far. This includes 1984, The Catcher in the Rye and Dickens (but I’m saving the massive tomes for a summer holiday). I want to keep things fun though so I’ll mix in some lighter reading, I’m currently making my way through the third Game of Thrones. 

*Get drinking: … water, of course. This is an ongoing thing for me and doesn’t need much explanation. I often forget to drink anything, and can go the entire day without a drop. This is very bad and absolutely must stop. I’m going to get a glass now…

*Get exploring: This is by far my favourite one. I’m so lucky to be back in London, and now is really the time to take full advantage of it. Tiarnan and I have promised one another that every month we will try something or somewhere new, and we’re already planning our adventures. While we wait for winter to pass we are scouting out cosy cafes for the best flat white, but come summer we’ll be exploring the parks and seeking the best alfresco dining spot. I’m sure our adventures will be documented right here, so watch this space!

Favourite Reads: Rebecca

When I first started this blog, I was sure that the reading part of it would be huge. Reading has always been such a massive part of my life but, for some reason, other content has been inspiring me more. Today I’m going to start putting that right!

As I suggested in my How to Spend December post, Christmas is the perfect time to revisit an old favourite. For most bookworms like me, choosing an all-time favourite is no easy feat. For me though, it’s easy. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is my favourite book.

P1030152 (2)

P1030154 (2)

I actually first read Rebecca six years ago while I was spending Christmas in Devon. It was lying around the cottage so I picked it up, and I’ve never looked back! So I thought this was the perfect time of year to talk about it, as it always brings back memories of a cosy, family Christmas in Devon.

When I read a book, I like for there to be a good story. A few twists, some memorable characters and an incredible setting are key. Rebecca has all of those elements, which is why I love it so much. There’s a fast-paced plot with an air of mystery about the elusive first wife, Rebecca, and some brilliant characters: the charming Max de Winter, the mousey second Mrs de Winter, the ghoulish Mrs Danvers and, of course, Rebecca.

The story is narrated by the second Mrs de Winter, whose name we never discover (which we could discuss for hours in an English seminar, but I’ll spare you that…!) While working as a lady’s companion she meets a handsome widower, Max de Winter, who proposes to her out of the blue and whisks her off into a new life. But when they return to his country estate, Manderley (thought to be set in Cornwall), Max is a changed man. The memory of his first wife, Rebecca, starts to haunt everything the second Mrs de Winter does as she struggles to discover who Rebecca was, and what happened to her…

It’s just brilliant. If you’ve got some time over Christmas or are planning on making a new year’s resolution to read more, start with this one. An easy romp of a read that will get you thinking, what more could you ask for?!

Book Reviews: Young Adult Fiction

IMG_0887

Now, before I start this book review (or in fact any book reviews), I have a confession to make. I am a book snob. It’s what spending three years doing an English Literature degree does to you.

I used to be a real snob, and would only read classics. I got over that once I went to uni, but still completely avoided the ‘Young Adult’ section of any book shop that I went into. I don’t care what other people choose to read, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pick any YA up and take it seriously. I read so much of it as a young teenager that I simply felt too old for it.

I then finished my degree. The one thing that an English Literature degree does is completely exhaust you of reading. The summer began, the time that I usually read as many books as I can squeeze in, and I just couldn’t read anymore. So I went on a hunt for an ‘easy’ read and this finally pushed me towards to YA section.

My first stop was Amy Alward’s ‘The Potion Diaries’. To be honest, I was attracted by the cover (it’s just so pretty!) This was an unusual choice for me because not only was it YA, but it’s also fantasy. The story follows a young alchemist called Samantha Kemi, who joins the kingdom’s Wilde Hunt to find a cure for the princess, who has poisoned herself with a love potion.

It’s a fun read and the tale bounds along, keeping up a high pace but it’s nothing major. I found the characters to be a bit flat and there’s no real sense of time – they just jump from one expedition to the next. However, it was exactly what I was looking for. While the conclusion isn’t exactly surprising (three guesses for how the love interest part of the plot turns out…) it’s an easy read and the story line bursts with imagination. I really enjoyed the magical parts of the plot and the fact it was focused on alchemists – I don’t usually read books like it so that made it really fun and a bit different.

IMG_0889

Next up, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Another YA of course, but this one is more realistic and takes place in a school. It follows the love of Violet and Finch, who meet on top of the school’s bell tower as they both consider taking their own lives. As the front cover says, it’s ‘the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die’.

This book was amazing. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so strongly about a book, and felt really sad when I finished it (that’s when you can tell it was great!) While I thought Violet was a bit of a drip, Finch’s character really made this book for me. He was such a well written character and I could really imagine interacting with him in real life.

I’ve seen really mixed reactions to this book, as it deals with mental illness which is always a tricky and emotionally charged subject. I can see other people’s points that Finch is defined by bipolar, suggesting that he is his illness which is a terrible way to consider people that actually suffer from it. I tried not to get too caught up in this though and just enjoyed the book and Finch for what they were.

So there was my experimentation with YA this summer. I really enjoyed both but I can’t decide what to read next… I know that The Fault in Our Stars is the really obvious choice, and I’ve never watched the film but I’m not really one for super sad books. Once I’ve made up my mind, I will keep you posted!

Hello!!

Hello! Welcome to my new blog. It seems that the whole world is setting up a blog these days so having been a long time admirer of the blogging world, I thought it was about time I did my own.

My name is Sarah and I am a recent graduate of Newcastle University, launched into the real world to fend for myself. I have just got a job at The Field magazine as Editorial Assistant (a miracle that I thank my lucky stars for daily). Magazines, as you may or may not know, is a tough old industry to break into, so in the age old situation of “beggars can’t be choosers”, my job is part-time. While I’m having a great time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, after just one week I’ve discovered that Tuesdays and Fridays are a bit dull. OK, perhaps not the Fridays (when are Fridays ever dull?), but definitely Tuesdays.

It turned out that a boring Tuesday was exactly what I needed to finally kick start me into writing the blog that I’ve been umming and ahhing about for well over a year.

So – here it is! Expect ramblings about books (I love books), food (I also love food!) and a bit of beauty and fashion if I ever feel that my photography skills are up for that challenge. I also plan to talk all things magazines to pass on what I’m learning, my ongoing struggle with running (the thing that I really do love but remembering that can be freaking hard at times) and whatever else takes my fancy!

Hope you enjoy! Lots of love, Sarah x