book recommendations from insta-stories

So if you follow me on Instagram or more importantly my insta-stories you will know that I put the call out for any book recommendations as I am heading away on a winter holiday soon and needed something to read, well I was very lucky to get lots of replies and a wide range of options, plus most of them I had not read BONUS! And I was also asked by many of you to pass on the list so here it is, I will also add some of the great books I have read recently to give back some of the book love. None of these are reviews it is simply just a list, and hopefully everyone finds something good to read!

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter was not only recommended to me through insta-stories but it seems to be the read of the moment, I actually tried to pick this up yesterday but everywhere was out so I am hoping they will have it at the airport.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, this is the same author who wrote Girl on the Train, which I loved! Have not watched the movie as I have not heard a single good review but the book was good and I am definitely going to be reading Into the Water.

The Muse by Jessie Burton, I know nothing about this book but will be looking it up.

Edie by Camilla Way again I know nothing but its on the list after being recommended but a few of you.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.

Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani.

Crazy Rich Asians and the other books by Kevin Kwan – I had a quick look at these in the bookstore and they sound like a good light read.

The Shack by William P Young, this is also a movie that I have not seen.

Paper Princess by Erin Watt.

The Pact by Karina Halle.

The Shipping News by Annie Prolux.

Some recommended authors in general were Colleen Hoover who writes romance but not super romancy R.S Grey who writes romatic comedies.

Some of the books I have read and some which were also recommended are:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, this is also the mini TV series (I haven’t seen it but heard good things…from people who weren’t paid to say so), I have also since just purchase Truly Madly Guilty to read. I LOVED Big Little Lies, could not put it down.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls loved this book! Its a memoir and a very good one!

Trafficked by Sophie Hayes this is a truly shocking true story which I could not put down.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult loved this book and has a good twist as all of Jodis books do.

Flawed and then the follow up Perfect by Cecilia Ahern, these are classed as young adult books but I loved them, a little bit like the Hunger Game series.

I have just today finished Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn who also wrote Gone Girl, I loved both of these books, a little dark and disturbing but so gripping! If you like that kind of read then I highly recommend them, I still have Dark Places to read.

There are also some non-fiction books I was recommended and also some I have read which are:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, this is a great book and one which I go back to a lot! Highly Recommend everyone giving it a read!

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, I loved this book, a really good read for everyone!

Mindset by Dr. Carol S Dweck, I have not read this and Hillbilly Energy by J D Vance.

Thanks so much to every single person who took the time to reply to me and pass on their book recommendations, if you have any others you would like to recommend I would love to hear them so please comment below, thanks!








Book Review – Anything is Possible, Cosentino

The latest book I have read was something a little out of the ordinary for me, it was a memoir by Australian Magician, Illusionist & Escape Artist Cosentino called Anything is Possible and I LOVED it! It is the kind of book that I feel anyone would enjoy, young or old.

The memoir not only tells the story of how Cosentino triumphed over the struggles he had at school, and how the discovery of a single book changed his life in every way and forever. But also includes all sorts of inside information on how certain tricks work, beautiful pictures and diagrams, positive quotes & even small biographies on some of his greatest inspirations.

Apart from knowing he was a magician and seeing him on TV I did not know much about Cosentino before reading this book and I remember seeing him here in Auckland on Queen Street at some point doing some filming, his signature look is one you cannot miss! But now after reading his book I not only have more of an interest in his magic & illusions but I also have such a huge admiration for all that he does, his talent, his perseverance & triumph over self doubt to get him where he is today.

His latest tour the Twisted Reality sold out across Australia & New Zealand, so if he performs live here in NZ again I will be buying a ticket straight away!

If you are looking for something a little different to read for either yourself or as a gift this is the book, especially great for anyone with even just the slightest interest in magic but seriously a book for everyone, magic or not. You can read more about the book & buy it here.

A truly inspiring read! LOVED it!


Modern Terrarium Studio – a little book review

I LOVE plants & I LOVE books so when the very lovely Megan George from The Zen Succulent got in touch with me to see if I would like to be one of the very first lucky ones to receive a copy of her brand new book called Modern Terrarium Studio,  I guess you could say I was a little chuffed…..okay a LOT and when I sat down and had a read I was even more chuffed to see what a fantastic book it was, the ideas & pictures are just beautiful and the clear and straightforward step by step instructions for making your own terrariums are perfect for anyone from beginner to expert.

the modern terrarium

If you are looking for a beautiful book that not only looks good on your coffee table or bookshelf but can actually help you to create your own terrariums and look after them as well, then this is the book for you. I am very inspired to try at least a few of the projects in the book, so stay tuned for my upcoming creations.

For anyone wanting to purchase the book in New Zealand you can do so here and you can check out and follow The Zen Succulent on Instagram here

And here is a little sneak peek of some of the beautiful pictures from the book and an idea of some of the projects included. I am so making those structural brass planters that is for sure! and I have already had a request from my girls to have a “dinosaur just like that!” for their room.

Modern Terrarium Studio - Cascading Rock Collection beauty image

Modern Terrarium Studio - Dino Menagerie beauty image II

Modern Terrarium Studio - Structural Brass Planters beauty image

* this book was gifted to me but all thoughts and opinions are my own – this book ROCKS! and I would have happily gone out and bought it myself!

my top 5 interior inspiration books

When I manage to find a moment (haha what’s that?) I love to sit down and read or browse through interior books. It’s fair to say that interior books are my vice, I LOVE them! I have some that I look through over and over again, always finding new inspiration and to me there is something so much more relaxing & real about books than browsing the likes of Pinterest or just the internet in general.

I love some of my books so much I thought I would share my top 5 (well technically 6) interior inspiration books with you. I have included a link to where you can buy these books in NZ (where possible) otherwise the books can all be purchased through the authors site or sites such as Amazon.

Rooms to Love & NZ Interior Style - by Leeann Yare & Larnie Nicholson
Rooms to Love & NZ Interior Style – by Leeann Yare & photography by Larnie Nicholson

Rooms to Love & New Zealand Interior Style by Leeann Yare & photography by Larnie Nicholson

– these books feature so many beautiful NZ homes, lots of colour inspiration and home styling ideas that suit every taste. Leeann also owns one of my most favourite gift & homewares shops Collected. I love to look through these books on a Sunday morning with a hot coffee and sneaky piece of dark chocolate!


Creative Family Home by Ashlyn Gibson & photography by Rachel Whiting
Creative Family Home by Ashlyn Gibson & photography by Rachel Whiting

Creative Family Home by Ashlyn Gibson & photography by Rachel Whiting

– this book is filled with many unique and imaginative ideas for the busy family home. You see lots of homes with toys displayed creatively in almost every room rather than hidden away which is always refreshing. In each home you can see that kids live there and it looks great. I love to read through this book with a herbal tea and a mandarin or 2 from the tree. You can purchase this book in NZ here.


Adore by Loni Parker
Adore by Loni Parker

Adore by Loni Parker

– I just love this book filled with light and bright homes, the book is divided up into sections by room. Most of the homes are Australian I believe and the book is by the lovely Loni Parker who has the fantastic Adore Home magazine that you can read online for free and then special edition print issues that come out during the year. I love to enjoy this book sitting out in the sunshine with a cool glass of lemon water and maybe a sweet or 2!


Maker Spaces by Emily Quinton
Maker Spaces by Emily Quinton & photography by Helen Cathcart

Maker Spaces by Emily Quinton & photography by Helen Cathcart

–  This book is by Emily Quinton who I have followed on Instagram for a long time now and has a lovely blog Makelight. This book takes you through the creative interiors of makers and designers homes and studios, I love how interesting and colourful these homes are and all are so different from what you see anywhere else. The perfect book to read with a cup of gumboot tea and some Jelly Tip chocolate!


Design Bloggers at Home by Ellie Tennant & photography by Rachel Whiting
Design Bloggers at Home by Ellie Tennant & photography by Rachel Whiting

Design Bloggers at Home by Ellie Tennant & photography by Rachel Whiting

– I have to say this would have to be one of my favourite books due to that fact that it takes you through design bloggers homes and they share not only design tips but blogging tips too. The first home featured belongs to one of my favourite bloggers and the other homes are just all fantastic and so different from each other. I have read through this book so many times and still I find something new each time. I love to sit down with a glass of sauvignon blanc and some cheese & crackers for this one. You can see more of Ellie Tennants writing on her blog here.

I highly recommend all of these books and you may even find some of them are available at your local library. Do you have any favourite interior books? I would love to hear what they are.



the new easy – DONNA HAY

I am sure if you were to ask any of my friends and family they will tell you that I am a big Donna Hay fan, I have one of her recipe books that I refer to all of the time either using the same recipes over and over or trying new things or even putting my own spin on them (read missed something in the shopping so substitute with something else) and the best thing I find is that she always gives you short cuts and does not expect you to make pastry from scratch (but by all means do if you have the time and know how) so when I heard there was a new Donna Hay book coming out I could not wait to get my hands on it…..and then I did and I was not disappointed.


First without even reading any of the the recipes the photos and styling are just amazing, everything looks so delicious yet elegant and simple without being over the top or complicated and the recipes themselves are the same AND there are these cool little stickers at the back to mark the recipes you want to try, I have used them like little tabs folding them over the page so that they stick out and make the recipes even easier to find….genius! (Donna Hay not me)

The first recipe I tried was perfect for a weekend lunch and easy enough to get the kids involved too, we made the spicy pork sausage rolls (I made a non spicy version for my girls) and with only 8 ingredients they were super simple and delicious, we ate them with apple sauce (a current favourite here) These will definitely be made again and again!

Donna Hay spicy sausage rolls

Next recipe was the Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownie – I mean really how could I not make it? The recipe was SUPER easy, I used some real quality New Zealand ingredients such as Whittakers dark chocolate, Lewis Road Creamery butter and The Dollop Kitchens caramel sauce (again not expected to make your own) and the result was delicious and very popular with my  husband and also my colleagues at work who are never too shy to try (read demolish) home baking.

Donna Hay Salted Caramel Brownie


The other recipe I tried was the Crispy Cauliflower Pasta and WOW! This would have to be one of the best tasting pasta dishes I have eaten and even my kids ate the lot, just 10 simple ingredients (that includes the salt, pepper and parmesan) and so easy, I ate mine without the pasta but with salad instead and it was insanely delicious, so delicious in fact that I had to stop myself from eating the serving I had waiting for my husband when he got home and so good for you too.

Donna Hay Cauliflower Pasta


So in summing up, it would be fair to say that I am now even more convinced that Donna Hay is still my go to! Her books are just so good, her recipes so straightforward and easy to follow and most importantly they are delicious! This book is split into weekday and weekend meals as well as salads and side dishes, baking and desserts, keeping all of the really simple stuff for the weeknights and then there are also some really cool “Re-Style” options for certain recipes taking a simple weekday dinner and showing you how to make a little more special for a dinner party or  weekend meal more simple for a picnic – I mean really she thinks of everything!


The New Easy by Donna Hay – released October 2014 – published by Harper Collins – RRP of $54.99