Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens | Book Review [SPOILER FREE]


The Marsh Girl is spoken about throughout the town of Barkley Cove. Living alone in the shack at her swap since the age of 10, Kya has become somewhat of a urban legend to the local townsfolk. Only boating to the town when in need of gas, food, or supplies from Jumpin', people just don't understand her. She's lonely but doesn't know how to blend in with other people, instead choosing to fill her days by collecting feathers, insects, and anything related to her swap. When Tate, a fisherman's boy, takes an interest in her and says he'll help her learn to read, their relationship takes on a life of it's own. But college is looming for him, and Chase the local athlete is all too willing to take his place. Cut to the future, Kya now a 23-year-old woman, and Chase, the once promising star of the town, is found dead at the bottom of the old fire tower. Was he pushed, or was this a tragic accident? Was that dreaded Marsh Girl involved?

That sounds as though this book is built around the romances, but it really isn't. This is a coming of age story in circumstances that most of us couldn't even fathom. Kya is a glorious character and it's truly a beautiful thing to watch her grow into her own throughout the novel. The characters are all quite well rounded. My main issue which lowered this from a 5 star book, was the utter lack of content during the first 150+ pages. Though we were getting to know Kya and getting a glimpse into her family life, it was rather.. boring. I hate to say that as I did really like this book in the end, but it just dragged for me. Some paragraphs really weren't needed, and the constant reciting of poetry from Kya was a little.. jarring, it took me out of the story. 

Saying that, I would recommend this if you enjoy general fiction. The things I liked about Where The Crawdads Sing far outnumbered the negatives. I enjoyed the characters, I especially like that you could see the heart of each of the side characters through the eyes of Kya, which is a rarity. Usually you only get a good view on a character when you read a passage through their POV, but this was wonderfully written. I liked the growth of Kya intellectually yet she stays rather foreign to human interactions, which was both believable and interesting. I liked the time the story is set in - the late 60's to the early 70's. Because of this we see times change for this nowhere little town, such as whites and blacks starting to interact, women slowly getting more freedom in the town, corporations looking to upscale the place. I found it interesting.

Speaking of interesting, through Kya's eyes we as readers get to learn so much about the creatures that reside in the swap. The author Delia Owen is a wildlife scientist so her knowledge is endless, which really did add a lovely touch to the story. 

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It was the epitome of a slow burn but by the time I finished, I was really glad to have read it. There was parts that were corny, but also parts that made me smile. The love, mystery, and survival of the story all took a backseat to the growth of Kya and I'm honoured to of read her story. She took a place in my heart.

Rating: ★★★★

Inside Birchbox | September


Following my newfound trend of discussing what turns up each month in my Birchbox subscription, here's September!

Brand: Dr. Lipp
Product: Original Nipple Balm for Lips
Full-sized details: 15ml, $14.50
Sample size received: 3ml
Having constant dry lips, I'm never unappreciative of a good lip product. I've been hearing (and reading) many great things about nipple balms over the years, but being a cheapskate, I have yet to try one. This is a great opportunity, and I think this is a giant perk of having Birchbox.

Brand: Davines MOMO
Product: Moisturizing Shampoo + Conditioner - For Dry or Dehydrated Hair
Full-sized details: Shampoo: 150ml, $29.00 and Conditioner: 250ml, $33.00
Sample size received: Shampoo: 75ml and Conditioner: 12ml
This is a great little sample of the shampoo and as someone who has yet found a non-herbal essence brand that I've liked, I enjoy receiving these deluxe samples.

Brand: The Beauty Drop
Product: Lighting Crew Highlighting Cream
Full-sized details: 0.34oz, $12.00
Sample sized received: Unclear
This has a beautiful look but doesn't entirely have the effect that I want when applied. I'd forever sway toward the Mac Strobe Cream first.

Brand: HUM Nutrition
Product: Daily Cleanse® Supplements
Full sized details: 60 capsules, $25.00
Sample sized received: 6 pills - 3 days worth
I never know how to feel about sample sizes of vitamins or supplements. There are never enough for me to feel effects, so they seem pointless. But it is nice to get to try new brands. Eh.

Brand: Snow Fox

Product: Herbal Youth Collagen Boosting Mask
Full-sized details: 5 sheet masks, $45.00
Sample sized received: 1 sheet mask
Sheet masks are fun to receive as it feels like a little pamper. I tried this one the night I received my Birchbox and looking past the horrid smell, it made my skin feels plump and moisturised. Would I spend $45 on them? No.

Brand: Nothing Serious
Product: Major Moisture Gentle Cream Cleanser
Full-sized details: 4 oz, $26.00
Sample sized received: 
Skincare products are my favourite things to receive and I love a new cleanser as I haven't yet found one that's made my 'best of the best' list. This would easily last me the month, so that's always a perk. 

If you have yet to read my August post click HERE.

Mocha Mascarpone Cake | RECIPE


This is my husbands go-to cake recipe that always goes down well at parties. If you like a non-overly sweet cake that has some serious chocolate game, look no further. I'm trying a new layout for this recipe, so let me know in the comments what you think of it!




  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1+1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp instant espresso powder, dissolved in 3/4 cup of hot water


  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (1+1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1+1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F/Gas Mark 3. 

Generously butter two 9 inch cake pans with a depth of at least 2 inches; dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

Sift cups cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Using another bowl and an electric mixer, beat your butter until it's smooth. Add in brown sugar and beat again until well blended - about 2 minutes.

Add eggs into your wet mix, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. 

Incorporate your flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk between each turn. Beat between turns just until blended. 

Gradually add your hot espresso, beating just until smooth. 

Divide batter between both prepared pans, smoothing out the tops with a rubber spatula. 

Bake cakes in the centre of the oven for roughly 40 minutes - until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes. Then run a small knife around the sides of each pan to loosen cake. Invert onto cooling racks removing cakes from the pans, and removing the parchment. Cool completely.

F R O S T I N G 



  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1+1/3 cups sugar


  • 1+1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 16 ounces of mascarpone cheese (usually 2 containers of 8 ounces)

Sift together your cocoa powder into a large bowl; add espresso powder.

Bring 1 cup of of the heavy cream to a boil. Slowly pour the cream over your cocoa mixture, whisking until cocoa is completely dissolved. 

Add 1/2 cup of cream and your sugar; stir until the sugar dissolved.

Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. 

Once chilled thoroughly, add your mascarpone. Using your hand miser, beat on a low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and forms medium-firm peaks when lifted - about 2 minutes. (do not over-beat your mixture as it will curdle)


Place one cake layer, top side up, on a platter. Spoon 1+3/4 cups of frosting in dollops over the top of the cake. Using a spatula spread the frosting to the edges.

Top with second cake layer, top side up, pressing to adhere.

Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top and the sides of the cake. Chill for 10 minutes.

Use the remainder of your frosting to either decorate or top up the outside of your cake.


And ta-da, you have a yummy cake! What's your favourite dessert?

August + N.E.W.T.s Book Wrap-Up [Career : Healer]


N.E.W.T.s are officially over! This is the first year I've taken part in the Magical Readathon - otherwise known as a readathon that speaks to all the Harry Potter fans. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm referencing, check out the host's video HERE. Everything that you could possibly need is in her information box. The students of 2019 have already sat their exams, but if you're interested, I'm sure there will be a 2020 edition! We're talking Wizarding career booklets, a letter from Professor Minerva McGonagall, and so many prompts. The students of 2019 have already sat their exams, but if you're interested, I'm sure there will be a 2020 edition! I chose the career path of a carer, so here were the necessary studies I had to complete.

E in Herbology

A. Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audio book (if not - green cover)

E. Read a book between 350-390 pages

E in Charms 

A. Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

E. Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or a book under 150 pages)

E in Defence Against the Dark Arts 

A. Read a book that's black under the dust jacket

E. Gilderoy's memory charm - (grab a pen!) first book you remembered just now from your TBR

E in Potions 

A. Pollyjuice potion: read your friend's favourite book

E. House ingredient: read a book with a cover in your Hogwarts house colour

E in Transfiguration 

A. Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation

E. Read a book that's not a first in the series

So, yup, you counted right. I had to read a total of  10 books to successfully pass my N.E.W.T.s. Not at all daunting! Here are the books I read for each grade, and mini wrap-ups to go alongside them.

Subject: Herbology
Grade: A
Prompt: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audio book (if not - green cover).
An Anonymous Girl 
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

“We all have reasons for our judgements, even if those reasons are so deeply buried we don’t recognise them ourselves.”

Following a duel narrative of two women whose lives couldn't be more different, this domestic thriller covers the most basic of plots disguised by an interesting premise; When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Sounds interesting, right? Having already read the authors best-selling debut novel The Wife Between Us, I had high hopes for this. But sadly the longer the story went on, the more basic it got. This isn't a groundbreaking thriller nor is it in anyway surprising. Not once did I feel surprise at a reveal in the story, it only got more predictable. I did still rate it a solid 3 stars, because the first half held my interest. If you enjoy thrillers, I'd say give it a read anyway. It definitely isn't the worst I've read. But if thrillers aren't usually your jam and you're trying to get into the genre, this wouldn't be a great starting point.
Rating: ★★★

Subject: Herbology
Grade: E
Prompt: Read a book between 350-390 pages
Three Wishes 
by Liane Moriarty

“Baths, she thought, were just like her relationships, all "ooh, ah" in the beginning and then suddenly, without warning, she had to get out, out, out!” 

The Kettle sisters - Gemma, Lyn and Cat - have always been inseparable, which makes sense given the fact that they're triplets. This year they're turning thirty-three. What's defining their year? Divorce, pregnancy, the beginning of a relationship, a raging toddler, career woes, and an overall loss at what to do with their lives. Smashing.

This is the definition of a chic-lit novel but having read a good few of Liane's books prior to this, I still went in with high hopes. Sadly, it kinda fell flat. The story was well written and though unrealistic at times, enjoyable. My problem was with how insufferable our main three women were. They were selfish, whiny, and I honestly couldn't care less what happened to them. I expected more from the author who brought us Big Little Lies.
Rating: ★★★

Subject: Charms
Grade: A
Prompt: Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover.
The Goldfinch 
by Donna Tartt

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

When an explosion in a museum kills his mother, 13-year-old Theo finds himself still standing, concussed, with the notorious painting The Goldfinch in his bag. Worth millions and mourned for by the art world, the teenager doesn't know how to go about returning it. In this book by the author of The Secret History, we follow Theo as he becomes a man and the trails that goes hand-in-hand with ageing.

This is one hefty book, with an even heftier story. The writing was beautiful, I devoured Donna Tartt's way of describing near about everything. Which is good, as she does describe literally everything that Theo comes into contact with. I vastly preferred the first third of this 500+ page novel, as the last portion dragged at times. Though I think that's to be expected. The characters were written wonderfully and I found myself truly caring for Theo - even when he was being a complete dumbass. If you enjoy literary fiction that's been made to be all pretty in the writing, then pick this up. If over writing bothers you, run like hell.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Charms
Grade: E
Prompt: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or a book under 150 pages).
Chi's Sweet Home Vol. 2 
by Kanata Konami

When Chi is found wandering the world with no place to go, he gets taken in to live with the Yamada's. In this second volume of the story, Chi has gotten comfortable with his new family so curiosity and making his own opinion ne heard now comes naturally to him. How naughty can a little kitten be?

This is the first manga series I've read, and it is adorable. Who doesn't love illustrated cats getting up to no good?
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Defence Against the Dark Arts
Grade: A
Prompt: Read a book that's black under the dust jacket.
by Neil Gaiman

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Like any young girl, Coraline is a curious child. She loves to spend her days exploring the garden of her home, finding new adventures to occupy her mind. When a door that 'leads to nowhere'  in her house suddenly opens, she gets sucked into a world of terror that may keep her from ever returning home.

I just don't think I like Neil Gaiman's style of writing. I know, the controversy! This book was okay, not great, not terrible.. just, okay. I didn't get swept up into the world, the illustrations didn't keep me interested, and the characters didn't hold my interest. What author can you just not get into?
Rating: ★★★

Subject: Defence Against the Dark Arts
Grade: E
Prompt: Gilderoy's memory charm - (grab a pen!) first book you remembered just now from your TBR.
A Man Called Ove 
by Fredrik Backman

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”

Ove has a routine that help define his days. He wakes up, makes coffee - real coffee, not the hipster type people drink nowadays, goes on his morning neighbourhood check, goes to work, comes home, eats a dinner of meat and potatoes, goes to bed. It's a routine that works. But when he suddenly becomes unemployed, everything is thrown into shambles. He wants to die. But when a new strange family moves in on the street and continuously gets in his way, his story takes an unexpected path.

I enjoy Fredrik Backman's writing, and this was no exception. I loved this book, it made me laugh, cry, and do everything in between. It was a literary roller coaster of emotions. Ove was a loveable ass, and his story was one that touched my heart. The only downside I couldn't look past was the repeated fat shaming that grew frustrating and stopped this from being a 5 star read.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Potions
Grade: A
Prompt: Pollyjuice potion: read your friend's favourite book.
A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet 
by Becky Chambers

“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.” 

The Wayfarer is a tunnelling ship made up of an array of species, all of which add something vital to this crew. We have the tough but loveable captain, the sweet-natured pilot, the respectful navigator, the quirky engineers, the foul-tempered algaeist, and the heart of the ship. When Rosemarie comes on board as their new book keeper, things begin to change. She's human and is hiding a secret that has impacted the galaxy.

We all have books on our TBR that we know we're going to enjoy, yet we're reluctant to pick them up as they become too..  familiar. This is one of my husband @BilliamSWN's favourite books. He sold it to me as a more varied version of Firefly, which instantly sold it, of course. And I loved it. It was exactly what I expected, which could've easily made it boring but instead made it feel homely.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Potions
Grade: E
Prompt: House ingredient: read a book with a cover in your Hogwarts house colour
The Help 
by Kathryn Stockett

“I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.” 

After sitting on my TBR for way too long, I finally picked up this modern classic. Set in the 1960's in Mississippi, society girl Skeeter decides to put together a book interviewing all the black women living in the town who have spent their lives raising and serving the white women.

I didn't know what to expect going into this as I haven't seen the movie, but I absolutely adored it. I loved the characters, and I so badly wanted to know most of them in real life. Despite it being written in multiple POV's, I never felt disappointed when jumping from character to character - a rarity for me. I'd most definitely recommend you giving this a go.
Rating: ★★★★★

Subject: Transfiguration
Grade: A
Prompt: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation
Every Heart A Doorway 
by Seanan McGuire

“You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. Moving into a school for children like her, who have returned, she tries to adjust to the 'normal' world again. But when students start dying, her and her group of friends have to try and figure it out.

This is the first novella in the 'Wayward Children' series written by a woman who writes literal marmite. Everyone either loves or loathes her style, my husband being on the latter end of this. Check out his... heated.. review HERE. I on the other hand enjoyed this short, wacky, but weirdly readable book.
Rating: ★★★★ (3.5)

Subject: Transfiguration
Grade: E
Prompt: Read a book that's not a first in the series
Down Among The Sticks And Bones
by Seanan McGuire

“Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.”

Set before the events in Every Heart A Doorway, we follow twin sisters Jack and Jill as they go through their personal doorway into the moors.Choosing to follow their 'true' selves, Jack finds herself working for a doctor who seeks to conquer death, while Jill becomes a princess to The Master. A mysterious man who dines on thick red liquid and nothing else.

I 100% would've put off picking up this sequel if it didn't revolve around the only character I truly liked from book one. However, I'm indecisive on how I felt about it. Though it gave us as readers an opportunity to jump straight into the world without the introduction to a bazillion characters, it somehow still felt slow. It didn't give me the eerie True Blood style of world I wanted.
Rating: ★★★★ (3.5)

To go alongside my N.E.W.Ts I somehow managed to pick up another four books. Yay for insomnia! In the spirit of the readathon I chose to give Harry Potter another try in audiobook form. (Guess I'm going to have to give my Goodreads bio a refresh!) Brace yourself for an unpopular opinion, I didn't wholeheartedly love it. Keep reading to probably hate me a little more.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
by J. K. Rowling 

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Harry Potter finds out he's a wizard. It's a good time for all.

Though I liked this, I didn't necessarily love it. I think a huge factor in this is that it very closely resembled the movie, which I've seen a fair few times. It made it a little.. boring to me. It was too familiar and as I haven't yet found the Hogwarts world to be comforting. I will say that the narrator did an excellent job, if you excuse the whiny Hermione voice that ought to be illegal.
Rating: ★★★★

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J. K. Rowling

“When in doubt, go to the library.” 

Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts. Once again, things go tits-up.

I had similar emotions toward this book as I did with the first. It was familiar and because of that, a little.. 'haven't I read this before?' and slow paced. I will continue with the series, as I'm already more interested in some of the characters. I didn't know that Ginnie had a personality! But I haven't yet hopped onto the Hogwarts Express fangirl train.
Rating: ★★★★

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” 

Written though a collection of letters to God, Celie is an underprivileged black woman who has spent her childhood being raped and abused by her father. Now a married woman (though force) to Mr_____, she talks about her new found friendship with renowned singer Shug.

For it's time, this is a beautifully written book covering the topic of feminism, race, and what it was like to be a woman of the past. However, after I finished, I just can't put my finger on the purpose of the story. Celie undoubtedly grows into herself throughout the book, but I don't think that benefits any of the others characters very much. Unlike say, The Help, I didn't feel connected to The Color Purple. I didn't ache for the characters, and in all honesty, the constant 'button' talk felt quite.. out of place.
Rating: ★★★

Into The Water
by Paula Hawkins

“She felt it when she woke, not a presence but an absence.” 

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Having read The Girl On The Train and disliking it, I wasn't too sure what to expect with this. It was exactly as I expected, a B-type thriller that I wouldn't necessarily recommend but not one that I loathe. It was just.. okay.

Rating: ★★★ (2.5)

And there we have it! I don't think I'll be taking part in any readathon's during the month of September, so I'm looking forward to reading whatever I want. How was your reading in August? Find a new favourite book? Let me know!

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