Our Italian Honeymoon Adventure

Well, I know that you guys wanted to know all about the honeymoon and to see some pictures, so yeah, I am going to post some of them here. Be warned, there are going to be a lot of pics here – which is unusual for us. My husband (eeeeep) and I don’t do the pictures and camera thing at all, but made the concerted effort to do so when we were out there.

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Now, Italy was an experience, let me tell you that. We had such a blast!

Alright, so we got married on a Saturday, and on Monday we drove up to Johannesburg to catch our flight to Dubai, and from Dubai to Rome. We were on those planes forever! Luckily there was a really great entertainment system on the planes, so I managed to watch some movies and what not. Arriving in Rome, my phone hit up the Wi-Fi and I had a super freaked out Natasha demanding to know where I was making my connecting flight, to find out that Brussels had been attacked that morning. It was really not nice, but explained the tightened security at the airport.

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Navigating a new, foreign country is pretty daunting when you do not have a working phone or the ability to belt it in Italian, but we managed to come right and organise a shuttle to our apartment. We arrived and the first thing that we thought was that we were in the ghetto and were going to be killed. Seriously. Back home, areas that have that much graffiti in them are super sketchy, the kind of places you avoid. We learned fast enough though that in Italy, but especially Rome, tagging things is sort of like a right of passage or something. There is graffiti everywhere.

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We ventured out that night and got a sim card, which automatically made us breathe easy because we could at least communicate. Walking around the neighbourhood was amazing. We pretty much can’t walk anywhere here at home, not even kidding. It was the most liberating feeling in the world to get up and walk out of the apartment whenever we wanted and it was safe to do so. Also, another thing to note is how clean it is out there. I was shocked. There were thousands of people, but no trash and junk lying around. Amazing. And such a police presence!
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We downloaded an app and we marked all the points we wanted to explore for each day on there, and took a bus from where we were staying to where we needed to be, and spent each and every day walking to all the different sites, seeing all that was around us. It was truly an amazing experience. Rome really is a lot smaller than you would think – once you are at any given site, the others are a stone’s throw away. One thing that did suck, however, was our currency exchange rate when we went over. Urgh. Thanks to our delightful fuckwit President Zuma, the exchange rate went up from R12.50 for €1.00 to R20.00 for €1.00. It was sheer lunacy, but we made it work and had tons of fun, though it did limit a lot of the things that we could do.

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Also, the pizza out there. Like oh my goodness. I am not usually a pizza fan because (I am saying it) there is usually too much cheese going on and a sloppy base. In Italy? Crunchy, wood fire pizza, minimal cheese and delicious toppings. You can taste everything! I must say though, the few pastas we did eat out there were really bland, which surprised me. Soda is also super expensive out there, and it is not refrigerated (just the little cans are). I was shocked, too, by how you can buy liquor (and not just beers, the hard liquor, too) anywhere. I mean it. Cafés, grocery stores, sweet shops, anywhere, they all had liquor. Like, everywhere.

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Let’s not forget to mention the architecture out in Italy, because that would be a crime. You know, pictures are all impressive and stuff, but it just doesn’t compare to seeing the actual buildings, statues, monuments, doors, etc. I was overwhelmed by how tiny I felt – the architecture, the age, it all drives home how ancient and amazing things are. I travelled thousands of kilometres to see this, and so have millions of other people, over so many years. It really is something to take in.
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From Rome we went to Florence, and man, I fell in love. While Rome might have been the more entertaining of the two purely because there is an inordinate amount of things to do, Florence is hands down the more beautiful. It is clean, the people are insanely friendly, it was cheaper there than Rome or Venice, and it, too, was small. Totally more my speed. We drank wine, ate pizza, explored every day, and I loved every moment of it. We did the tours, the photos, the walking… seriously, I walked through two pairs of shoes while I was out in Italy. I was so stoked to be able to walk anywhere at any time, so I took advantage of it like crazy. I have also always wanted to see the Duomo, and I was not even remotely disappointed. It was so beautiful and vast and impressive and… I don’t actually have words for it. WOW.

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Lastly, we moved on from Florence to Venice, and that was something I was interested in seeing. I remember my wedding photographer asking how long we would be in each of the places (she had gone to Italy before), and when we told her we were in Venice for three days, technically four because our flight was leaving so late, she sucked in her breath and said that even two is overkill for Venice. Now that I have been there, I can see what she meant. Venice is beautiful and magical and an experience, it really is, but Venice is also really small. We spent four days traipsing all over Venice and hiding out in the apartment when we just couldn’t anymore, and when we left on the last day, we were actually really looking forward to coming home. That is  how I knew we had a proper holiday – when you get to the end and you have had a great time and you are all good for exploring more, but you are also perfectly fine with going home, sleeping in your own bed, on your own pillow, not living out of a suitcase anymore or burning through ridiculous amounts of money. We were there.

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Anyway, there is just way too much to say on the adventure, too much for one post. The experience was overwhelming and awesome and heck, so much fun! I do not regret it, and would go again in a heartbeat!

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Gelato… you can’t go to Italy and not live off the stuff. It is GLORIOUS.

BUT there was one thing I missed so much while we were out there it was like a physical pain, and it was the first thing I purchased when we got off the plane back home, even though the airport is crazy expensive about it.

creme soda


Review: Fool Me Once – Harlan Coben

harlan coben fool me once cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: In the course of eight consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, millions of readers have discovered Harlan Coben’s page-turning thrillers, filled with his trademark edge-of-your-seat suspense and gut-wrenching emotion. In Fool Me Once, Coben once again outdoes himself.

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.  – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I don’t think I have ever read a Harlan Coben novel before. Crazy, right? I read a lot and I have never read any of his work. Well, here’s a start. I thought that Fool Me Once was alright, though not a great novel. It flowed well and it was a quick read, but it never really went anywhere, if that makes sense. It carried on meandering in the same circles, nothing really changing, nothing really being added to the story at all, lots of mystery and complaints about civilians using war analogies. The story is a little fantastical and gets a little too complicated for its own good at times, but unlike most novels like this, it ties up quite nicely at the end. The plot is pretty skinny though, complicated, but skinny. There are a lot of characters in here, and none of them are really likable, with the exception of Shane I reckon. I also liked the relationship between Maya and Eddie, it was quite a layered, deep one. The book was nothing really special, but I did enjoy the twist at the end of the book. It worked nicely. I think Maya’s parenting skills were incredibly questionable too – she always seems so distant, but loves her, but never considers her daughter in her big, crazy decisions. Does that sound like a good parent? Also, I didn’t really like her, which made it super difficult to actually care about her. I don’t have too much more to say about this book, when all is said and done. However, all things aside, I will certainly read more of Coben’s work.


April Blind Spot Review: Let The Right One In (2008)

let the right one in poster

“I’m twelve. But I’ve been twelve for a long time.”
– Eli

SYNOPSIS: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl. – via IMDB

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

GRADE 7So, after all this time, it has finally happened. I got off my butt and watched a movie that has been recommended to me about fifty million times without fail, one that I will always “get to” but never have. No more, folks, the time had come to rectify that! I must say, I enjoyed this movie. It was slow, dark, took its time going places, didn’t rush too much, and focused a lot on Oskar, and the strange relationship that builds between him and Eli. It’s actually disturbing, but handled so well. The movie is littered with a lot of really beautiful but desolate shots, but it fits with the movie and makes it really pretty to look at, and gives off such a lonely, cold feeling. The movie also handles violence in such an understated manner, which was weird, but totally worked for this. Oskar was a really sad kid, and the bullying he suffered was awful. To watch how the other boys were bullied into bullying Oskar, too, gives that a whole different angle. It was horrible to watch, but to see Oskar gain some hope and fight back was also endearing. The film is rather haunting, and takes a look at how people form connections, and how deeply those connections can run. I found almost all of the supporting characters to be really flat and bland though, meaning that the impact of the relationship between these kids cannot always be see. While I really enjoyed this movie, and will surely watch it again, I was not super in love with it. Maybe because it has been hyped up for so many years, I expected more. That being said, I really did like it, don’t get me wrong. It was captivating, mesmerising and haunting, and well worth finally having checked out. Next on my list is to read the book (at some point – I also have a huge to read list) and fill in missing parts of the story, and clarifying other things. 


Rapid Review: Deathgasm (2015)

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SYNOPSIS: Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives. – via IMDB

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Oh man, fixing the horns made me laugh xD

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GRADE 8It’s official. New Zealand is totally onto something over the last few years with their horror comedies. They are 3/3 now on them, after the wonderful Housebound, the hilarious What We Do In The Shadows, and now this. I first heard about Deathgasm from Ryan, but the minute I read about it, I knew it was something I had to see. Metalheads? Demons? A war? Now, I am sure that Dethgasm isn’t going to be for everybody, to be sure, but for those who love metal will get a kick out of this. It’s insane. It is silly. It is out there. It’s gory as hell. It really embraces the metal thing, but looks at it in such a funny manner, really. It never takes itself seriously and constantly has fun, yet spends some time exploring some deeper things. As a metalhead, there were spans of places where I cringed at the depictions, but I had a really good time with the movie. There is metal being played everywhere, and it is so perfect for the insane butchering that is going down on screen. There is so much blood and so much gore, so you get exactly what you are hoping for when going in for this. The movie also had a message, and I loved it! There was no fear of being a little different, and not fitting in. It also showed how people can get along, even when they are not from the same background or into the same things. These kids are all misfits, and it works every step of the way. The movie has tons of energy  and this is evident from the off. Deathgasm also knows exactly who the target audience is and goes for it, which is great. Like Metalocalypse, this is a movie for metal lovers that others, too, will hopefully enjoy. There are some flaws to the movie, no doubt, one being that it felt a little longer than was strictly necessary, and I had big issues with the stupid, useless love triangle that reared its ugly head in the film for nothing, as well as SPOILER Medina changing a lot about herself to be with Brodie, because, you know, who wants to be with someone who does not change for you, who is just themselves? I thought this was a really good directorial debut from Jason Lei Howden – very interested to see where he goes from here! Deathgasm is exactly what you signed up for – funny, bloody, disgusting, awkward, super energetic.


Some Wedding Photos

Alright, I know that a lot of you have asked for some pictures of our wedding recently, and while I am waiting for my official photos to come back from the photographer, she did send along some of the ones she is using (with the logos and stuff on it).

Thanks to everyone for you support and how sweet you have all been about everything, I highly appreciate it!

I think that our wedding went down smoothly – there was no drama on the day, no hiccups, no freakouts or fights or anything of the kind, which was awesome. We had an amazing photographer that was worth every cent – my husband and I had been talking ourselves into these photos for like… a year. No kidding. We are such awkward turkeys, and needed someone who could work around that and get natural, comfortable-looking shots. I think she did a fantastic job!

I was so fortunate to have my brother walk me down the aisle, truly, and to have our friends and family there was fantastic! The venue was amazing, the staff went out of their way to accommodate us, the bridal party was all gung-ho for all things wedding, the weather stayed clear (but sheesh, I pitied the guys in their three-piece suits – it was ridiculously humid) and everyone looked super great. It really was a wonderful day!

Okay, okay, let me stop there and just get on to what you are all here for! Here are a few shots, but just because you guys asked, otherwise they would never have been shared like this!

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By golly, we even danced!

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Review: The Singing Bone – Beth Hahn

the singing bone cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: A convicted killer’s imminent parole forces a woman to confront the nightmarish past she’s spent twenty years escaping.

1979: Seventeen-year-old Alice Pearson can’t wait to graduate from high school and escape the small town in upstate New York where she grew up. In the meantime, she and her three closest friends spend their time listening to Led Zeppelin, avoiding their dysfunctional families, and getting high in the nearby woods. Then they meet the enigmatic Jack Wyck, who lives in the rambling old farmhouse across the reservoir. Enticed by his quasi-mystical philosophy and the promise of a constant party, Alice and her friends join Mr. Wyck’s small group of devoted followers. But once in his thrall, their heady, freewheeling idyll takes an increasingly sinister turn, and Alice finds herself crossing psychological and moral boundaries that erode her hold on reality. When Mr. Wyck’s grand scheme goes wrong, culminating in a night of horrific murders, Alice’s already crumbling world falls into chaos, and she barely makes her way back to normal life.

Twenty years later, Alice has created a quiet life for herself as a professor of folklore, but an acclaimed filmmaker threatens to expose her secret past when he begins making a documentary about Jack Wyck’s crimes and the cult-like following that he continues to attract even from his prison cell. Jack Wyck has never forgiven Alice for testifying against him, and as he plots to overturn his conviction and regain his freedom, she is forced to confront the long suppressed memories of what happened to her in the farmhouse—and her complicity in the evil around her. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6Damn, that sucks! There is another cover that I wanted to use for this and it was so much more awesome than the one I did use. Meh, oh well. Anyway, back to the book. Obviously I picked this one up because I liked the title, and I am fascinated by cults. I thought that this might be an interesting read, but it was just alright – it had so much more potential than it ever actually realised. I am glad that I read it, though it was not nearly as good as I was hoping it would be. For one, it read and felt like it was heavily influenced by Charles Manson and his big, happy family. Even the events that happen. Taking that out, Jack Wyck’s character is constant throughout the novel, but you never actually learn about him, for one, and for two, he is never properly fleshed out, so you don’t really get why these kids flocked to him – only that you know cult leaders are charismatic, prey on the weak, and make them feel like they belong. We know that. However, that was never explored in too much detail concerning Wyck. The story itself is nothing new, and it was rather predictable at the best of times, which was rather disappointing. The division of the chapters was something that I enjoyed, flicking between the events of the past and what it happening in the present, which works quite nicely, but that also drags out the big, mysterious event from the past, and it stretches on so long that is rather grating eventually. I found the characters to be flat and one dimensional, literally just there to carry the story and no more. Because they were so bland, I did not relate to any of them, and I was not really overly concerned with the fates of any of them, so the book did not carry as much weight for me as it could have. I liked Stuart Malloy’s character, he was far better put together than any of the others (which was strange), as he actually had something to say, and he witnessed so much. As for Alice, she is our main protagonist and she annoyed me from the beginning, and I didn’t much like her then, never mind when she went around the bend. I really enjoyed the folklore aspect of the story, and think that it should have been used more. As for the conclusion of the book? I was not impressed. Not after all the reading, the threats, etc. I expected more (yes, my common complaint for the novel). Anyway, not a bad read, it was likable enough, it just never lived up to all the possibilities it could have, and brought absolutely nothing new to the table.


Rapid Review: Good Will Hunting (1997)

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“You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.”
– Sean Maguire

SYNOPSIS: A janitor at MIT, Will Hunting has a gift for math and chemistry that can take him light-years beyond his blue-collar roots, but he doesn’t realize his potential and can’t even imagine leaving his childhood Boston South End neighborhood, his construction job, or his best friend. To complicate matters, several strangers enter the equation: a brilliant math professor who discovers, even envies, Will’s gifts, an empathetic shrink who identifies with Will’s blue-collar roots, and a beautiful, gifted pre-med student who shows him, for the first time in his life, the possibility of love. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5This movie is one of those movies that is just really good, whether you are in the boat of it being overrated or not. Either way, it’s a good one. I adore Matt Damon and will watch him in anything (hence I made it through Elysium), and I think he is immensely talented. That was showcased once again in Good Will Hunting. The movie is one of those films that makes you laugh a lot, feel for the characters, and touches on some things that make you think (pretty much anything Sean Maguire said in this movie was something to think about). I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how insanely smart Will was, dissing college students yet being a janitor who is actually just too scared to reach further in his life. The humour in this movie is sharp, and gets me laughing every time, and Casey Affleck’s character was just adorable (what a chop). The story is really good, and moves along at a respectable pace, never getting boring, never getting so intricate that you lost what was going on. Robin Williams was something else in here, and I loved his character. This is one of my favourite roles of his. Sean Maguire was depressed, so flat, and yet he had so much knowledge to share, and was an integral part of Will realising there was nothing that he couldn’t do. He and Damon worked wonders together. The story is sweet and inspiring and has aged pretty well. I think Ben Affleck and Damon are very good writers, no matter how you feel about it. Minnie Driver is someone you don’t see in many films anymore, but she embodied Skylar very well, and I thought that Stellan Skarsgård’s Lambeau was a fantastic character to put Will’s gifts into perspective with, though I do feel his character was not used as consistently or as effectively as he could have been. Good Will Hunting is shot well and is engaging, and it just so worth the watch.


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