How to be Happy – Book Review

How to be Happy by Eva Woods

How to be Happy - Book Review

If there was one book that I have read in the past year that I believe should be made into a movie, then this is it! So much so that I recommended this book to my mum, who then recommended this book to my aunt and now I am recommending it to you.

How to be happy by Eva Woods tells the story of Annie. Annie is not in a good place – she doesn’t like her job, her mother is in hospital and after a run of awful life events she generally feels quite down trodden and, well, sad. And then along comes Polly – a riot of colour and bursting with fun, laughter and joy. Polly is everything Annie is not.

Annie is in no mood to make friends but Polly is persistent and forces herself into Annie’s life with the aim of helping Annie find happiness in just one hundred days. Polly shows Annie that life is too short to be miserable and slowly but surely, Annie starts to believe her. What Annie doesn’t realise is that Polly needs her, just as much as she needs Polly.

Without revealing any major plot spoilers, this book is a bittersweet tale of friendship, life and love. It’s called ‘How to be Happy’ yet it is also very poignant and reminds us to live our best lives. As Polly would say, “Life isn’t about avoiding the storm; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

#GIRLBOSS – Book Review

I’m about a year too late to the party, but having recently watched the Netflix series I felt inspired to read the book itself. I am of course talking about #GIRLBOSS.

#GIRLBOSS book review
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You probably already know by now, but #GIRLBOSS is written by Sophia Amoruso, founder of multi-million dollar fashion empire Nasty Gal, and is a bit of a rags to riches kind of story. Sophia tells her tale in this book which is part autobiography, part motivational speech.

I didn’t know much about Amoruso or her Nasty Gal empire before I watched the tv series, but I felt that the book was kind of like getting a pep talk from your sassy, savvy (and very rich) friend. I enjoyed the first half of the book and it made me feel inspired and wanting to get up and go do something extraordinary but unfortunately my interest dwindled towards the end of the book… there’s only so many times you can read “I am the CEO of a $100-million-plus business” and not grow jaded.

This is not a self-help book in the sense that it will give you insider info to help you run your own empire, but it will give you a bit of a pep talk to go out there and get shit done.

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol”

“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission”

“Focus on the positive things in your life and you’ll be shocked at how many more positive things start happening. But before you start to think you just got lucky, remember that it’s magic, and you made it yourself”

“When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility. Failure is your invention”

“It’s cool to be kind. It’s cool to be weird. It’s cool to be honest and to be secure with yourself. Cool is the girl at a party who strikes up a conversation with you when she notices you don’t seem to know many people there”

“Clothing is ultimately the suit of armor in which we battle the world”

Have you read #GIRLBOSS? What motivational books would you recommend? Feel free to comment below!

Sunlounger 2 – Book Review

Although I don’t read as much as I used to, I usually like to find a bit of time to chill out with a good book while on holiday. My latest read was Sunlounger 2 – a collection of short stories “from some of the hottest names in women’s fiction”. As the title suggests, the book features many sun-drenched, wanderlust-inducing stories ideal for getting lost in whilst lounging on a beach.

Sunlounger 2 - book review
Background via unsplash

While adventure and romance are the main themes of this book, I did find that it started to become quite predictable. The following plotline could sum up half of the stories in the book: heartbroken girl travels overseas to get over her ex, girl meets sexy foreign stranger, stranger woos girl with either food or by becoming her personal tour guide, girl and sexy stranger fall in love and live happily ever after. So I would say this book is best enjoyed in small chunks rather than devouring it in a couple of days.

That said, there were a couple of stories I found quite creepy and disturbing, kind of the antithesis of a happy summer tale. And a couple of the stories were also heartbreaking and sad but still beautifully written.

Not every tale was to my taste and there were a few that I found a bit rushed or pointless. Of course this is all subjective but I have decided to highlight a few of the more memorable stories in my very own…

* drumroll *


Funniest Story: Summer Secrets and Surprises By Molly Hopkins (Destination:Corfu)
– I genuinely LOL’ed on my sunlounger.

Biggest Tearjerker: Dreams of Pushkar By Alexandra Potter (Destination: India)
– Although The First Last Dive By Ruth Saberton comes a close second.

Most Inspiring: A Blood Lily from Moses By Roisin Meaney (Destination: Africa)
– Quitting my job and moving to Africa to live with the giraffes now ‘kay bye!

My Heart Wants More: How to have your Best Summer Ever! By Lisa Dickenson (Destination: Australia)
– I could be besties with the main characters in this one, reminded me of being a teenager.

The Ideal Short Story: The Party Boat By Jo Carnegie (Destination: Croatia)
– Perfect length, felt complete.

Most Unique: We Found Love By Ilana Fox (Destination: The Future)
– Set between 2014 London and 2075 Havana. Really thought provoking especially as I live just outside London and was reading this while in Cuba.

My Verdict
Sunlounger 2 is great if you wish to discover more authors so I will be checking out some new books for my kindle in the near future!

You can find me on Bloglovin or Twitter — say hello! 🙂

Cafe Tropicana – Book Review

Cafe Tropicana By Belinda Jones

I’ve mentioned it before but I am a big fan of Belinda Jones‘s novels, mainly because the protagonists are easy for me to identify with and the books are always set in exciting, exotic locations around the world. The most recent one I read was called Cafe Tropicana – about a recently heartbroken woman named Ava who decides to pursue her dream of running her own coffee shop. After a few hiccups at home in England, she ends up in Costa Rica where her estranged and wealthy father basically buys her a coffee shop to run, the only trouble is she has some fierce competition in the form of Santiago – a man so perfect he’s like the son her father never had.

Costa Rica is somewhere that sits highly on my travel bucket list and Cafe Tropicana fuelled my wanderlust even further. I did find this book to be fairly predictable but only because I could identify with our heroine Ava’s personality…

*** spoiler alert ***

Cafe Tropicana Book Review

I mean, given the choice between confident action man Ryan and his ziplines and quad bikes or dark and brooding Santiago and his fireflies and sea turtles, I know who would make me swoon!

Despite predicting the outcome of this curious love triangle, it left me wanting more and I would love it if Belinda wrote a sequel about Ava and her best friend Ollie’s Costa Rican vacation!

You can find Belinda on twitter @belindatravels and you can also find little old me right here too @quirkylilplanet

Update: Since this review was written I’ve had my own adventure in Costa Rica which you can read on this blog!

Coffee image via unsplash

14 fabulous films to ignite the wanderlust within


I’ve previously talked about books and movies inspiring people to get out there and see the world, so I thought I would share some of my favourites. So in no particular order, here goes…

1. Lost in Translation – Japan

It may come as no surprise that someone who writes a lot about the Land of the Rising Sun would choose this film. Some call it a beautiful and touching story of loneliness and friendship, others would argue that this movie is just plain dull (err… Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Tokyo – what’s not to like?!). I would encourage anyone with an interest in Japan to watch it and it may even inspire you to have your own ‘Lost in Translation’ moment like I did!

Make like Scar-Jo on the Shibuya crossing

2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – India

Another movie I have written about before, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is similar to Lost in Translation in that it tells a story of friendship and people who are thrown out of their comfort zone – namely a bunch of retirees who didn’t expect to be spending their golden years in chaotic India. I haven’t yet been to India but it’s on my list and I’m looking forward to watching the sequel to this film.

3. The Beach – Thailand

The Beach is one that sparked a whole generation of backpackers to grab their passports and fly to Thailand to discover their own secret beach paradise. Based on the book by Alex Garland, I have to say that in my opinion, Hollywood pretty much butchered it. There are quite a few differences between the movie and the book (I much prefer the book) but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the film and all that lush scenery.

4. Eat, Pray, Love – Italy, India, Indonesia

Another film adaptation of a book, this is the story of a woman named Elizabeth Gilbert and her journey of self-discovery after a divorce. She travels to Italy to eat, India to pray and Bali to, well, I’ll let you find out. This time round I enjoyed the film much more than the book as it was a lot more condensed and not as intense on self-talk, plus all those shots of Bali made me want to go there even more than I did before.

5. Hector and the search for happiness – China, Africa, USA

This movie, rather than being about “finding yourself” is about finding what makes people happy. Hector is a psychiatrist who jets off to China to do just that. This is a bit of an odd choice to include on this list because while it inspires travel and being happy, quite a few dark things happen to Hector on his journeys which could quite easily have the opposite effect!

6. The Inbetweeners 2 – Australia

Perhaps another odd choice if you are familiar with The Inbetweeners tv show (the British one, not the travesty that is the American version). While I didn’t find the first movie as funny as I had expected, I loved the sequel! Sure, cringeworthy things happen all the way through, but I bet it has inspired even more students than ever to head off on an adventure Down Under.

7. The Hangover – Las Vegas, USA

The Hangover is probably a grown-up version of The Inbetweeners – lads getting carried away and all that! I love any movie set in Vegas but the first Hangover movie is definitely the best. It’s far fetched but you’d be disappointed if it wasn’t over the top in this city of excess.

Viva Las Vegas!

8. Sex and the City 2 – Abu Dhabi, UAE / Marrakech, Morocco

And now for the girls getaway… Sex and the City 2 – I’ve written about before in my girl’s guide to Marrakech, although the movie is based in Abu Dhabi, it was actually filmed in Marrakech. Definitely one to make you crave your own glamourous and exotic journey to the Middle East when you watch Carrie and pals living it up in that swish hotel.

9. Tomb Raider – Cambodia

As someone who played (and completed!) the first few Tomb Raider games on the PlayStation 1, Lara Croft was a bit of a teenage hero of mine – a strong female character going on adventures around the world to find hidden treasures, and then returning to that fabulous mansion with swimming pool and butler – jealous! Tomb Raider sees Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) running around Angkor Wat in Cambodia – a place that looks so mysterious and beautiful (despite the tourists) that I imagine photographs don’t do it justice.

10. Just Go With It – Hawaii

Starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston – the plot of this movie seems a little strange and silly – Sandler’s character convinces his assistant (Aniston) to pretend to be his ex-wife in order to cover up a lie he told his girlfriend?! Far fetched, yes, but I say – just go with it! The lead actresses in this movie gave me serious hair and body envy but most of all I was jealous of the laid-back holiday vibes and Hawaiian sunshine – why haven’t I been to Hawaii yet?!

11. Blended – South Africa

Another Adam Sandler movie, but this time with Drew Barrymore as leading lady, where they find that one bad blind date leads them to holidaying together with their respective children at a family resort in Africa. They have lots of fun on safari, riding quad bikes and other shenanigans, that I even felt a pang of end-of-holiday blues (as you do) when it was the last night of their vacation!

12. Mamma Mia – Skopelos, Greece

Mamma Mia did for Greece what The Beach did for Thailand. With a soundtrack of ABBA songs, Mamma Mia is set against a backdrop of the blue skies and white-washed buildings of Skopelos Island. Even if ABBA isn’t your thing, you can’t deny that scenery looks stunning.

Agios Ioannis Chapel

13. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Iceland/Greenland

Walter is a daydreamer. He fantasizes about these exciting scenarios and amazing adventures, yet his life is pretty humdrum – until his job is threatened and he decides to embark on an adventure to track down a missing negative from a mysterious photographer. Filmed in Iceland (but set in Iceland and Greenland) this movie inspires us to live life to its fullest.

14. Up – Venezuela

Last but not least, no movie list is complete without an animated offering. One of my favourites, this film is sad and touching but also funny and uplifting – quite literally when the lead character, an old man named Carl Frederickson, ties thousands of balloons to his house to lift it up and away on a journey to Paradise Falls, South America (a fictitious place inspired by Angel Falls in Venezuela). A place he and his late wife had always dreamed of going but never quite got there. Perhaps one of the most iconic and memorable quotes from this film is ‘Adventure is out there’ and I couldn’t think of a more apt way to end this post!

What are your favourite movies to inspire wanderlust?