Review: Replica

Replica by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought the idea of two different points-of-view of the same events would be an interesting spin, particularly because the book is about clones or ‘replicas’. I also liked the way there were effectively two books in one. Perhaps a bit gimmicky, but fun and also very beautifully formatted. I chose to read each of the stories in their entirety. First Lyra’s story and then Gemma’s. While I do agree with some of the other reviews of this book, in that the characters don’t seem completely fleshed out and the dual stories were repetitive at times, I still enjoyed reading it. I think I just wanted to know more about what was going on, what was going to happen, what’s next for the characters… the end was very abrupt.

I found the character of Lyra a little robotic at times, but I guess that was how Oliver portrayed her as institutionalised and so strictly controlled in the institute. She did break out of this flatness a few times, but she still seemed a little too unaware of her situation in light of what was being discovered and discussed around her. Gemma was a little more interesting but I found it a little confusing that on the one hand, she allowed herself to be so controlled and sheltered by her parents, not to mention cowed by her peers and a little paranoid of the world in general and then on the other she was incredibly spontaneous and risk-taking. It was a little hard to believe that someone could change so much in such a short period of time.

I think my main issue with this book was that it took a while to get where it was going and then just stopped. There were little hints and clues along the way that something interesting was developing for each of the protagonists, but it didn’t seem to go deep enough, in either point of view. I’m hoping that as this is part one of a series, things will develop a little more and get a little more resolved as the plot goes on. My fingers are crossed for good things as in general I like Lauren Oliver’s books and would like this one to live up to her other work.

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Genre map!



Genre Map, source: Book Country


I was looking around on the internet for some information on Young Adult readers today when I came across this great, interactive genre map on Book Country. As you roll over certain parts of the map, labels pop up to show you different genres of books. There is a fiction area, a non-fiction area and an area specific to Young Adult literature. All of the countries on the map are shaped to suit their genre and when you click on a particular country, it takes you to a page showing you books that fit within that genre. Rolling over those books gives you a short synopsis of the text and clicking on them takes you to the publisher pages for the text. The book lists are by no means exhaustive and some countries don’t have any books listed at all as yet, but the idea is fun. Who doesn’t love a good map in their novel?

Mini Review: Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found ‘Girl in Pieces’ such a powerful, eye-opening story and I’m so glad that Kathleen Glasgow decided to write it. I think it’s so important for us to hear more of these kinds of voices, to become more aware and develop a greater understanding of mental illness. Beautifully written, with real, gritty characters, ‘Girl in Pieces’ tells the story of main protagonist Charlotte Davis. Charlotte or Charlie is a young girl whose life seems to be breaking apart. As each heartbreaking, terrible thing happens to her, she seems to get a little bit smaller and feel a little bit more insignificant. It seems inevitable that nothing will change for her, but through her art and the kindness of friends Charlie is able to start putting herself back together.

Mini Review: Black, by Fleur Ferris


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love, love, loved this book! The protagonist in this story, Black Marshall and everyone else in town think she is somehow cursed. So far three of her friends have died in seemingly tragic “accidents”. After the new guy in town, who invites her to prom, ends up in hospital after another accident, Black begins to wonder if what they’re saying is true… or is there something more sinister going on? Are the accidents somehow related to an event from her parent’s past? The secrets and strange goings on that follow, along with Black’s sleuthing make this a fast-paced, twisty, turning thriller that you could easily read in a day… like I did. 🙂

Introducing… Art Club!

Just recently a good friend of mine Abby launched her very own after school art school for primary and high school students in the Bendigo area – Art Club. She asked if I might help to design some branding for her social media and various marketing bits and pieces.

We discussed a clean, simple design incorporating art elements and a bold, complementary palette of a deep blue and a clear gold.

Art Club Branding


Keep Safe Quilts

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to work with the lovely Jackie Gillies (IG @jackiegillies) on a new logo and quilt label design for her charity organisation Keep Safe Quilts.

KeepSafe Quilts donates handmade quilts and cushions to women and children in refuges and safe houses who are escaping domestic violence. To find out more about how you can get involved, please visit or on Instagram at @keepsafequilts.

Keep Safe Quilts Logos

The stacked and horizontal logos for Keep Safe Quilts.

The logo incorporated an illustration of the Tic Tac Toe quilt block, designed by Alyce Blyth (IG: @blossomheartquilts) which was the inspiration for the original #quiltblockstohealviolence project on Instagram. In order to make the logo more versatile, Jackie requested both a stacked and horizontal version, as well as a beautiful, bright palette of colours, combined with different shades of grey.

Keep Safe Quilts, colour palette

Keep Safe Quilts, colour palette.

Melanie & Andrew – who loves weddings?

Me! Me! I do, I do! I haven’t had the chance to go to a wedding for a while, but I really do love them. I’ve been hoping for a while now that one of my many cousins, who are now all in their twenties {and almost thirties} will take the plunge, but sadly… not as yet. While I love going along as a guest, I also love the excitement and fun of organising and choosing all the bits and pieces that go into making up the big day.

In the past year, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of helping put together some of those bits and pieces for some lovely couples and I’m about to show you some of them now. These are a few things I put together for an old work colleague and friend Melanie and her husband Andrew.

I had lots of fun with this project as I was given only the very briefest of briefs and a lot of latitude. Melanie told me that they didn’t really have a specific theme for their day, just that she really liked a certain pretty, duck egg blue colour… hello Tiffany and liked the idea of making a feature of the typeface on her invitations.

Wedding Invitiations & collateral

Wedding invitation, RSVPostcard and a gift registry card…

What we ended up with was an invitation, an RSVPostcard and a business card sized gift registry card in two shades of blue and white. I used one of my old faithful serif fonts, Adobe’s Garamond Pro in a few different weights and styles and all together as a suite, they looked very effective. Below is a larger copy of the gift registry card artwork which was my particular favourite, in part due to the gorgeous poem Melanie gave me to work from.

gift registry

Business card sized – gift registry

Liberty Financial – spring carnival… gangsters!

I designed one of my favourite invitation pieces when I worked as a graphic designer with the Liberty Financial marketing team. It was a custom invitation for guests to the Liberty Financial marquee at the Melbourne Cup several years ago. The theme was gangster chic and I think these very much looked the part…

Liberty Financial - Bespoke Invitation

Liberty Financial – Bespoke invitation – I’m sure they went off with a bang!

About the Design
These invitations were designed to look like a gangster or “zoot suit” so that the shirt collar folded down over the jacket lapels and the tie acted as a latch to close the front. They were entirely designed in black and white, with the exception of the Liberty logo tie pin. I used a font called “Niteclub” to tie-in with the theme. This was the first time I’d created a form cut piece of art which was to be printed on quite a large scale, so it involved a lot of measuring, folding comps and checking and re-checking of trim lines!

swap round-up {part 2}

Quite a while ago, I took part in a lovely mini quilt swap, the #WinningLoveMiniSwap, run by Miranda (IG: @ihavepurplehair). The post date for this was in January and I was lucky enough to be a part of #TeamLoveConquersAll, a sentiment close to my heart. This world needs all the love it can get, not to mention a little more tolerance, understanding, and respect, for and by all of us.

For this swap, I was allocated the lovely Jackie Gillies (IG: @jackiegillies) to make for which for me was a little intimidating as Jackie makes beautiful quilts and is very well known in the IG quilty community. Most particularly Jackie is known for her #quiltblockstohealviolence project over on Instagram and as the founder of Keep Safe Quilts.

Jackie noted in her swap application that she loved saturated colours and modern, clean lines (just like me) so I decided to make her a rainbow/low volume mini using little windmill blocks.

swap package

Here is the mini-quilt I sent off to Jackie… with a few extras!

And here is a close-up of the label…

mini label

The cutest mini-quilt label…


why I just can’t be Rupunzel…

Towards the end of 2014, my daughter asked me if I could grow my hair long so I could look just like her. This was very sweet and believe me when I say that she knows how to tug at my heart strings, of course, I’d love to look just like her. It’s flattering and lovely when your children want to emulate you, whether in act or appearance.

Well, maybe this Rupunzel. | source

Well, maybe this short-haired Rupunzel. | source

Around the same time, I was also having doubts about how my appearance and age would affect my future job prospects as a teacher. I know that sounds a bit silly, but sometimes I find myself listening to those niggling voices of doubt a little too much. You know the ones… they tell you that you’re doing something wrong or that you made the wrong decision. They seem to amplify every negative comment that comes your way, so you begin to doubt yourself. You forget all about what motivated you to make the decision in the first place. I was thinking, maybe I should look more conservative, more like all of the teachers I see at school. Is my look too creative? Too different? I didn’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons and have it affect what future employers thought of me. In retrospect, I know my marks, academic merit, mentor and lecturer references and basically how well I do my job are much more important, but self-doubt can be all-consuming sometimes.

Anyway… I’d also had about enough of my pixie cut at that stage and so I told my daughter, yes and I proceeded to grow my hair out.

I went through all of those annoying stages of bobs and mullets and teeny, tiny ponytails. My hair was blonde, so I dyed it back to it’s natural light brown. Later I got bored with that and added some blonde foils, then later still, dyed it back to brown again. I had trims, I avoided heated styling tools, I used vegan, cruelty-free, sulphate-free, Australian made shampoos and bought deliciously scented leave-in treatments. I fawned over Pinterest images of long, flowing hair and previously unattainable styles like braids, topknots and chignons. I admired the lovely, long locks of my uni friends, and commented and questioned my online connections for tips on growing out my hair, until just over a year later I finally managed the shoulder length mane that my daughter loves.

Taken from Nov 7, 2014 through Feb 22, 2016

Taken from Nov 7, 2014 top-left, through to Feb 22, 2016 bottom-right.

Now… fast track to today and just like that, I’ve decided to chop it all off yet again. Why, you ask? Well, here are a few reasons:

  1. I don’t like my hair touching my face – long hair is always in your face, making you hot, inconveniently sticking to your lipgloss/lip balm, blowing in your eyes and just generally making you feel uncomfortable (I live in a windy place people).
  2. I don’t like the daily battle of my hair-covered bathroom floor – whenever my hair is long, so much of the stuff ends up in the shower drain, all over you when you shampoo/condition your hair, on the floor when you comb it out, stuck in your brush/comb and on your hands when you apply any product, yuck!
  3. Referring back to (1), once my hair tends to get to a certain length, I tend to wear it up – a lot. I don’t wear it down much because of (1) and because I’m trying not to use heated styling tools too much, to avoid damaging it.
  4. It takes a long time to blow dry or straighten using heated styling tools – who has the time (or the upper arm strength) to bother styling long hair. I’m usually quite fussy with my hair and I like to style it properly, not just wash and go. I have that in-between hair that is not quite curly and not quite straight which looks awful if I leave it to dry naturally. To quote Fleur Delacour from Harry Potter fame, “Don’t look at me Bill, I’m hideous!”
  5. The longer your hair, the more expensive it seems to be to have it cut/coloured/treated/styled by your stylist. This is fine for those of you who are working, but I’m a uni student at the moment and I don’t have a lot of extra funds to spend on my locks right now. Edited: it seems most hairdressers don’t discriminate based on length. I was recently quoted the same amount for a trim/colour/style for my pixie-length hair as I’ve paid for my shoulder-length do. Also, because shorter hair needs trimming more often, it turns out my pixie might be more a more expensive option.
  6. When you wear your long hair out it tends to get dirty, or at least, feel dirty, more quickly. This is something I hate as it means I have to wash it more frequently, which also means I don’t get “mileage” from my laboured styling prowess – see (4)!
  7. Shorter hair just feels more me. Edited: ok, this is until I get that massive ponytail envy.

Perhaps this is a little too much to write about something as superficial as a haircut, but personal appearance does play a very large part in what other people think of you. It’s also the persona you want to project to the world. Your appearance is the first thing people notice about you and whether they are willing to admit it, or not, they do make judgements about you based on what they see. Writing about this topic gives me the opportunity to express my thoughts about my appearance. It also allows me to try to better understand why I feel conflicted about the image I want to project versus the image that makes me most comfortable and happy as a person.

In all seriousness, life is too short to always be compromising on the things that make you happy. Sometimes you should be allowed to tell those inner voices to shut up and just try something new. It’s a very liberating thing to do, perhaps because most people are too scared of change to try it. I embrace change when it’s for positive reasons. I also don’t mind being a little different to everyone else. Besides, it always grows back. Trust me, I think at last count I’ve had my hair cut short five or six times now, starting back when I was ten. This will be pixie number seven.

Let’s see if this time around I can push through the doubts and the negative comments and stick with what makes me happy. Edited: nope! Look out Rupunzel.