March Reading Wrap Up

2023, books


This month has been a very mixed reading month – as of today (March 25th) I’ve finished five books and I’ve had easy five stars and reluctant three stars, a book that took me over two weeks to finish and books that I finished in less than 48 hours.

The first book I finished was the audiobook of The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang and just like every other book in The Kiss Quotient series, I absolutely adored it. I feel like I’ve said ‘autism representation’ about three million times but it’s just so good – each of the three books in the series shows autism in a different way and shows love interests that have different experiences with ASD. The Heart Principle felt even more perfect for me because the heroine doesn’t realise she’s autistic until she’s in her mid-to-late twenties, not realising the reason she finds everything so difficult is because her brain isn’t like everyone else in her family. Watching her figure out how to make adaptations for herself as well as realising that there was a reason she found everything so hard hit so close to home. I really want to pick up a physical copy of the whole trilogy but particularly this book – it’s definitely made it onto my list of all time favourite books

And I wish I could say the second book I finished this month had the same reaction, but The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake was a 3 star read that seriously lingered on the border of 2 stars. The characters I thought were wonderful, I really liked not only how they were shown as individuals but how their relationships with each other developed, even though six characters made it a little difficult to follow (especially when they’re sometimes referred to by surname and I really couldn’t commit them all to memory). This book took me eleven days to read because I was waiting for a plot to appear – for my first book over 500 pages to read this year, it was a real slog and even now, I don’t think there really was a plot line until the last two or three chapters. Everything was only explained on a surface level from what they were being taught in classes, what they were learning from the archives and even their magic abilities felt like they were being glossed over. Then the ending wasn’t even an ending – I was genuinely shocked the it ended so abruptly and that literally no conclusions were drawn; I wouldn’t even call it a cliffhanger, because a cliffhanger implies a rounded off plot with a little detail that lures you into the next book, but The Atlas Six didn’t have this and I had to reread the last chapter just to try and understand how they could call that an ending and why so many people have been singing this book’s praises.

Reluctantly (and only because I already owned it), I went straight on to The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake, which took me even longer (and over a fortnight) to finish. My unexplained affection for the characters did carry over to this sequel – I thought Tristan actually saw some really interesting character development and the portrayal of Callum was surprisingly sweet. Having established a major plot point at the end of the first book, there was a great opening for the characters to band together to work solidly with one aim. But, again, it was glossed over and the one thing they all ‘swore to do’ in the first one, they didn’t even achieve in the second one! With more context to the peripheral characters, Paradox was loosely held together with a plot but only just. I found with this sequel, I couldn’t read more than 30 or 40 pages without falling asleep – on the day I finished it, I was determined to finish the last 50 pages I had to read so I could read something more enjoyable, but it sent me to sleep twice (and I really didn’t need two naps). But because I am somewhat attached to the characters and similarly to Six, Paradox just stops rather than having an ending, I will probably be reading the last of the trilogy whenever it comes out, but I will be gritting my teeth while I do it.

Following this, I wanted something easy to read that I knew I would enjoy, so I picked hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick from our wedding library (the set of books our wedding guests gave us that are a collection of our favourite people’s favourite books). I remember reading this book when I was a teenager but I remembered nothing about it and I know I donated my copy, so I was intrigued to try and find out why. It’s probably because it’s a novel that’s written like below average fanfiction, but for that reason I kind of loved it? It was ridiculous and the protagonists were insane and the whole thing was mental, but it was easy to read and so far fetched that it was almost laughable. I gave it 3 stars because it’s not a well written book in any way, shape or form, but it makes me feel like I’m back in my Twilight era and I’m here for that kind of nostalgia. I’ve picked up the next three books on my kindle and I’m glad I have them as an easy read that I can dip in and out of in the midst of working on my physical tbr. Which leads me to…

The next book was the next title to come out of my tbr jar (wonderfully chosen by my husband in this tiktok) – The Innocent’s Story by Nicky Singer was the book that I always named as my favourite when I was a teenager – I remember writing a review to enter a competition for the Costa Book Awards when I was maybe still in primary school? This book has been on my all-time favourites list for a long time and I had it in my tbr jar so I could reread it and still see if that was the case! I was pleasantly surprised that I think I enjoyed it even more reading it as an adult than I did as a kid – it’s a YA fantasy (maybe?) about a 13 year old girl who is caught up in a suicide bomb explosion that kills her and her sister. She ends up floating around as a ball of mist – a para-spirit – who can sit in people’s brains and listen in on what they’re thinking and doing without having any impact. She ends up in the head of the young man who pulled the trigger and is the reason she’s dead. Despite being told from a teenager’s perspective, the narrative is so mature (perhaps because it was written in 2005) and makes you think about religion, the concept of a higher power, the basics of good vs bad, morality; so many interesting topics. I wish more people knew about this book – at 217 pages it’s a really quick, easy read and genuinely really interesting. Rereading it firmly cemented it’s place on my favourites list!

With a few days of the month to go, I envision that I will probably finish This Is How You Lose The Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohta (it’s only 208 pages) and make a start on The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (which I’m mildly apprehensive of as it’s my second attempt at reading it).

Despite spending so long reading the Atlas series, it’s been a really good reading month, I think because I threw myself into new books head first after finishing The Atlas Paradox just to read something that didn’t send me to sleep!

According to Storygraph, having finished 16 books this year means I’m 6 books ahead of my reading goal and with a few weekends away planned (my husband travels for work and I’m essentially hitchhiking!), I imagine April will be much the same! With our honey moon (a two week trip to Kos, Greece) booked for May, it’s looking like I might be hitting my reading goal early! At this rate I’ll have met my goal of 42 books by August I reckon but the important thing for me is not to put any pressure on myself – any reading is a good amount of reading!

Thank you for listening to me ramble about books again!

Sophie xx

the nostalgia of seeing my favourite band (for the 9th time…)

2023, music


If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, it may come as no surprise that my favourite band is All Time Low and it has been for a very long time.

I first saw them at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge in 2012 – at only 15 years old, going to see a band with my friends was a military operation and we took hundreds of pictures getting ready in the school toilets and weighing up who had free minutes so we could spend the whole time on the phone from two separate cars. It was an absolute blast and I remember deliberately losing my voice so I could put off doing a performance for my drama exam the following day!

Cambridge Corn Exchange, 2012 – this was as good a picture as I could get in 2012

This began a tradition of seeing my favourite band every year, as I then went to see them in Nottingham the following year where my friend and I played a wonderful game of ‘Spot the Dad’ while we were waiting in the crowd (unfortunately I have no evidence of this one, though I probably have pictures on a hard drive somewhere!).

The third time was a trip to Birmingham in 2014, where we somehow managed to borrow the school mini bus to get a group of us there. I also met the bassist from the Vamps and I was an absolute loser about it. There is probably a picture floating around somewhere but god knows it doesn’t need to see the light of day!

Birmingham 2014

If I thought going to Cambridge was a military operation, getting a group of six teenagers to London Wembley Arena for ‘One Night in London’ (which was filmed and became Straight To DVD II) in 2015 required even more organisation! Getting us all out of school (lol) and on a train, navigating the underground to queue for approximately three hours ahead of the doors opening was nothing short of a miracle! I’ve still not watched the DVD because for some reason having been there makes it feel weird to watch.

Then I went to uni and going to a gig was a fantastic way to meet up with friends I didn’t see very often – first year was full of concerts and in 2016 I saw my favourite band for the 5th time at the O2 in London, which was made extra special because they were supported by another band I love, Against The Current.

London Apollo 2017

The 2017 trip to see All Time Low was a bittersweet one – it was very exciting because they announced a London date, which I bought tickets to go see with my sibling, then they announced a whole tour with a date in Southampton (where I went to uni) which felt like a silly opportunity to turn down, so I saw them in London on the Friday and in Southampton on the Monday. In the middle of all this, my nanny passed away so it was a difficult weekend, but actually going to a concert and thinking about something else for a while was almost certainly what I needed.

London Apollo 2017 – I adore this photo and I’m pretty sure I used it in my final university project too!
Southampton Guildhall 2017

In 2018 I had tickets but there’d been some pretty heavy snow and it was at Alexandra Palace which is a notoriously horrible venue to get to, so I made the very reluctant and sad decision not to go, which broke my streak of seeing them every year but it was probably for the best because I don’t think they did any UK performances in 2019 and we all know what happened in 2020 so it was a streak that was going to end anyway!

London O2 Academy Brixton 2021

Getting back to seeing All Time Low in 2021 felt extra special because it was the first time I’d got to see them with my now-husband – I’ve slowly been converting him into a dedicated All Time Low fan and being able to go to Brixton in 2021 was extra special with him there. I love the O2 Academy in Brixton because they have a tier of unreserved seating and for my old-lady-achy back, it’s lovely to be able to sit down until the main event starts!

And that brings us up to 2023 – another event at London Wembley Arena as we went to see what was essentially an album release party as it’s on the same day as their latest album release ‘Tell Me I’m Alive’. I’m writing this before we leave and I’m so excited to see my favourite boys again. A lot has happened since the first time I saw them in 2012! But to have their music as the one constant thing I can always come back to is something I’ll always be grateful for.

London Wembley Arena 2023

[ post-concert update ]

I wish I had better words to describe how much of a wonderful experience seeing this band is for me – I danced more than I’ve ever danced before without a care for what anyone else around me though. My husband treated me to more merch than he needed to because he is the kindest (and I’m very easily excitable).

We had fantastic seats, which was great for saving my achy back for the main event – especially as there were three support acts and there was approximately three hours between us getting into the venue and All Time Low starting their set!

Games We Play opened their set with a song we know and like, but the opening line is ‘you should get a fucking job’ and as a painfully unemployed person, it hit a bit close to home but in a way that makes you grimace and giggle at the same time. Lauran Hibbard was interesting for sure, I preferred her between-song banter to her songs but she did sing Sk8r Boi so that was fun. Set It Off were the perfect final opener before the main event and have such an amazing stage presence. Major plus points for the lead singer playing a saxophone solo, that made my nerdy I-was-in-the-school-jazz-band heart very happy.

London Wembley Arena 2023

The new album is so heartfelt and so much fun to listen to (I think we managed to listen to it three times all the way through on the drive to Wembley?), the set list actually popped off and made me seriously reconsider which song is my absolute favourite (ultimately, Time Bomb, but Sleepwalking, Somewhere In Neverland and Monsters definitely make top 5).

Here’s to the 10th All Time Low concert, hopefully in 2024!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

I really SHOULD have read these books…

2023, books


As someone who spent their entire childhood staying up past my bedtime to read and an adult who’s been steadily back in their reading habit for approximately three years, there are many classics, core fantasy series and bookstagram highlights that I haven’t read (yet). So as somewhere between a motivator and a guilt trip for myself, I thought I’d list some of the books that I already own that I really should have read by now.

1984 – George Orwell

My dad gave me a beautiful copy of this book as one of his favourite books and I just find the concept of reading Orwell too intimidating. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of classics – my A Level English Literature classes were mostly just me getting angry at wilty female characters (I’m looking at you, Bryony from Atonement) or getting confused by flamboyant writing that took me three attempts to understand (Jane Eyre… I don’t think I even finished it).

But I have the audiobook downloaded on Audible and maybe one day I’ll bring myself to read it… Any brilliant reviews to entice me are more than welcome.

His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman

Considering we had a reading from The Amber Spyglass at our wedding, we really should have read this series. I remember watching and loving ‘The Golden Compass’ film when I was a kid, but I think I was confused by the fact that the book had a different name and I got the impression from somewhere that it was a difficult read.

But after the wedding we did buy the most beautiful set of the trilogy so I really should prioritise them! Maybe that’s a series to take on the honeymoon…

The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkein

Although I have watched and enjoyed all of the film adaptations of these books, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a hardcore LOTR fan. But then I took myself on a solo cinema date to see the film ‘Tolkein’ about the authors life and it is honestly one of my favourite films and totally inspired me as a writer. So I should really do the man the honour of reading his books, shouldn’t I?

The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

I’ve seen so many people talking about and reviewing this online that it really should have been more a priority, but the concept even now still doesn’t really strike me. Living with someone, sharing a bed with them but never meeting them? It just sounds ridiculous but I am susceptible to hype and it’s got to be this popular for a reason, right? I have it, I just need to read it!

Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I could extend this to any Taylor Jenkins Reid book to be honest. Daisy Jones has been on my ‘want to read’ ever since I saw YouTuber Hannah Witton do a review of it literally years ago. I picked up a copy when my husband and I went away for our anniversary in 2021 (he wasn’t even my husband then 😱) and I just haven’t got to it yet. The incentive I’ve given myself for this though is that I’m not letting myself watch the show until I’ve read the book and considering Sam Claflin is in the show (and I think Sam Claflin is brilliant), it’s a pretty good incentive.

It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is a powerhouse, isn’t she? I swear she’s releasing 3-5 books a year and I can’t comprehend how anyone can write that much that quickly. I’ve never read a single one of her books, mostly because I couldn’t suppress the hipster in me that said ‘well everyone likes her so you have to be different’. That and the fact that none of her books have particularly appealed to me (except Verity, but I haven’t got my hands on a copy yet). But one of my friends gave me a copy at my wedding last year as one of her favourite books from 2022 and I trust this friend’s book opinions so it’ll happen this year! For sure. (Please hold me to that).

The Mortal Instruments series – Cassandra Clare

Considering I was on top of the major fantasy series when I was a teenager – Harry Potter, Percy Jackson (ish), The Hunger Games, Twilight etc – the fact I never made it passed book 1 of the Shadowhunters saga is actually kind of surprising. I picked up a copy of the entire Mortal Instruments series for a tenner on Facebook marketplace well over a year ago now but I just haven’t got to it. That might be another option for the honeymoon – I could probably get through the whole series in two weeks by the pool in a Greek hotel, right?

There are so many more classics I haven’t read that I’m not interested in – even the beauty of the Penguin clothbound classics doesn’t draw me in to reading stories that take more brain power than I have to comprehend. I like easy reading books – a simple writing style with a witty, sarcastic main character who could probably do with believing in themselves a bit more but the self-deprecation is relatable.

Too niche?

I’m all for reading books that bring you joy – I read to relax and trying to understand more complex literature is a lot of work for my little probably-autistic brain, so contemporary romance and light fantasy are my go to, but I should probably try and push myself every now and then.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

books to try if you want to get into reading (in every genre)

2023, books


For a lot of people who want to read more or haven’t finished a book since GCSE English, the intimidating bit is knowing where to start! There are millions of books with millions of stories and how are you meant to know what you like and whether they’re any good or if they’re worth the money?

My first recommendation would to be to spend some time in charity shops or shops like The Works that do fantastic discounts and deals like 3 books for £6 and you can find some great popular titles as well as a bunch of books you will never have heard of, there really is something for everyone!

But if you’d like some more specific recommendations of books that are easy to read, aren’t too long (or intimidating!) and get a glowing review from me, I’ve collated a list of 10 books that I thoroughly enjoyed, a small synopsis and the genres they’re in – enjoy!

Blame – Jeff Abbott (mystery, thriller)

Jane was in a car accident with her best friend. David lost his life and Jane lost three years of her memory, unable to recall or understand why she and David had been driving on that road together and the events of the night he died. When a piece of evidence is found that suggests it wasn’t an accident at all, Jane can’t rest until she understands what happened to her that night and unveil the secrets around David’s death.

A fantastically gripping mystery that has you figuring out everything that happened along with the narrative – it’s a really interesting exploration into narrative as you wonder whether you can trust Jane’s perspective of it all. Highly engaging, incredibly clever and a very satisfying read.

The Shelf – Helly Acton (contemporary, feminism, romance)

Amy thinks her boyfriend is surprising her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination. She thinks he might finally be about to propose, but when he drops her off at a TV studio and she finds herself on a new reality TV show call ‘The Shelf’, to be publicly broken up with in the name of entertainment, Amy barely knows what to do with herself. Committed to something she never signed up to, Amy finds unlikely friendship in the other five newly-single women and they flip off the patriarchy whilst being set to ridiculous tasks to make them ‘more datable’.

I hated the concept when I initially heard about ‘The Shelf’, but when I saw raving reviews and got it cheap in The Works, I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely devoured this book – it’s heartwarming, funny and badass all in one. Written in a very easy style, I thoroughly recommend this as an easy step in contemporary romance.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (dystopian, science fiction)

When James Halliday passes away, he reveals that his fortune, the rights to his game company and all his property and possessions will go to whoever can find the Easter Egg in his VR game The OASIS. Five years later and billions of online users have a life on the OASIS – people can work, go to school and spend most of their life and money on the game and Wade is no different. He’s the first one to solve the first clue to find the Easter Egg, becoming famous overnight. But some want control of the OASIS, and they’ll do whatever they can to get it.

I only read Ready Player One last month and honestly, I can see why it’s become such a classic in the decade since it’s release. Written in an engaging but easy to understand style (as some sci-fi can be very intimidating!), the universe of the dystopian future and the OASIS is incredibly vivid and offers an intriguing insight to the value of integrity in a world where people will do anything for food tokens.

On The Other Side – Carrie Hope Fletcher (contemporary, magical realism)

Evie Snow has lived a long life and she is content. But when she finds herself in the body of her past self at 27, in front of the door of her first apartment, she can’t get in. She must lighten her soul enough to break through and she knows immediately she must share the three secrets she kept closest to her and how they made her into who she was when she died.

If fantasy feels a bit much to start off with, the magical realism in this book is so well integrated that I sometimes forgot about the ‘magical’ element and was totally drawn in by the ‘realism’! With a cast of really sweet characters, ‘On The Other Side’ is a lovely tale about the things we do for those we love, living with regrets and following our dreams. It sounds a bit wishy washy but it really isn’t – it’s truly lovely and writing about it has made me want to reread it, which I hope speaks volumes!

Ace of Shades: The Shadow Game – Amanda Foody (YA, fantasy)

Enne has never been to the City of Sin, but when her mother goes missing, she’ll do whatever she must to find her. With her only lead being the name of a young man called Levi Glaisyer, she immediately becomes very lost with no inclination of where to start looking for the only family she has. Thrust into the world of street lords, gambling and con artists, Enne is a long way from home, but learns that the only way to make it in the City of Sin is to play.

I would argue that the fantasy in The Shadow Game series is so well written that it feels like magical realism – the blood talent’s described sound so tangible they could be real. Honestly, Enne is a little bit annoying at first but Levi is a wonderfully flawed character and how both of them grow over the course of the trilogy is just majestic. I listened to the whole series as audiobooks and I highly recommend this format, the narration is superb.

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang (contemporary, romance, disability)

Stella is autistic and very happy in her life as an econometrician – numbers make sense, people don’t. So when her mother pushes her to start dating, the only solution she can think of is that she needs a teacher – so she hires an escort. Michael is a principled man that can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer – together, he teaches her everything on her lesson list on how to be a good girlfriend. But there’s only so much logic that can be applied to love.

I actually think this series should be compulsory reading to gain a better understanding of autism (especially the third book, ‘The Heart Principle’, where the protagonist is diagnosed as an adult). It’s a beautifully written dual-narrative contemporary romance and if you’re wanting to try something more mature than YA romance, the mature scenes in Helen Hoang’s literature are as spicy as they get. The whole series is so easy to devour and also offers an incredible insight to Vietnamese culture and migrating to the US!

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson (YA, mystery, thriller)

Pippa is an incredibly bright student who sees potential in the closed case of the murder of Andie Bell – so she decides for her Sixth Form project, she’s going to do some digging. Meeting with the Singh family and hinting that their son did not murder Andie stirs a lot of questions and Pippa finds herself uncovering secrets that someone desperately wants to stay hidden.

I fully believed I wasn’t a mystery/thriller kind of girl… then I read AGGGTM. There are no words for how the narrative draws you in, desperately trying to figure out the case along with Pip and becoming evermore surprised at the lengths people will go to keep a secret. The definition of un-put-down-able!

The Mismatch – Sara Jafari (new adult, contemporary, romance)

Soraya has just graduated university and has no idea what she wants to do next. She never would have thought her future would involve someone like Magnus – her opposite in every way. An English girl with Iranian heritage, Soraya struggles to walk the line between her two cultures, feeling like she isn’t ‘enough’ of either of them. Her mother, Neda, felt much the same when she was her daughter’s age. Growing up fiercely intelligent in Iran, where being a woman in university was still very new, she faced her own hardships with her husband, leaving Iran and her place in her cultures. But neither could have expected the one who fits them perfectly.

A beautifully written, inter-generational family story told from both Soraya and Neda’s perspectives in two different time frames. The parallels between Neda’s life as a student in Iran and Soraya’s as a graduate in England were poignant, important and insightful as well as being told by very sweet, relatable narrators. I’ve not seen nearly enough people talking about this book and I think it’s wholly underrated.

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman (graphic novel, YA, LGBTQ+, romance)

When Charlie’s form changes to a vertical structure, putting boys from all year groups into the same classes, he meets Nick Nelson – a rugby lad from Year 11 who subverts every stereotype Charlie makes about him. As the boy who was inadvertently outed in Year 9, the bullying has mostly stopped for Charlie in Year 10. But together, Nick and Charlie help each other learn that there’s no one better you can be than yourself. Whoever that may be.

I was so unsure about graphic novels before I read Heartstopper but I’d seen so much hype (and I wanted to watch the Netflix show) that I had to see what all the fuss was about! Although initially I found it difficult to engage with the characters in a format that’s so much faster to read than prose, but Nick and Charlie are so easy to love. It’s the kind of story you can’t help but squeal and ‘aw’ out loud to. A truly beautiful YA romance with the sweetest character’s trying to navigate being themselves in a world of cut-throat teenagers.

Geekerella: Once Upon A Con – Ashley Poston (YA, contemporary, romance)

Elle adores classic sci-fi series ‘Starfield’, especially considering how much her parents loved it before she lost them. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a reboot movie, she knows she has to enter. With savings from her job at a food truck and finding an old costume that was her mom’s in the attic, Elle just has to figure out how to get past her step sisters, her step mother and all the odds to win that ticket to the cosplay ball at ‘Starfield’ convention ExcelsiCon. Darien has been cast as Prince Carmindor – the courageous lead of the ‘Starfield’ franchise. But the fans have written him off before they’ve even seen the film – just another celebrity pretty boy. If only they knew how he used to live for conventions. World’s apart, Elle and Darien have no idea who they’re talking to on their alias social profiles, but their world’s collide in more ways than one.

This series is so slept on! For all the nerds and the fangirls immersed in fan fiction, fan theories and almost compulsive engagement with whatever fandom floats your boat, ‘Geekerella’ takes what we know of a fairy tale story and puts a nerdy spin on it. With wonderful dual-perspective storytelling from two incredible protagonists, Geekerella is a fantastic story of friendship, team work and the best parts of being a nerd in the 21st century. Wholeheartedly recommend, the series only gets better (Bookish and the Beast is my favourite).

So there are 10 book recommendations for if you don’t know where to start with reading! Granted, there’s not as much genre variety as I’d thought there’d be if I’m honest (I just love romance!), but I think there’s a fantastic selection here that are all very easy to read and cover a variety of topics.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

February Reading Wrap Up!

2023, books


Another month has passed and it’s time to wrap up everything I’ve read this month! It’s been a month of chunkier reads, getting back into audiobooks and making a lot more time for reading (let’s not talk about how much less sleep I’m getting).

I’ve also spent a month consistently making book related videos on TikTok! I’ve been making weekly reading wrap ups, talking about some of my reading habits and just chatting about books! I’ve done a couple of hauls, I’ve made a vlog and I’m really enjoying making creative videos and talking about something I love!

In February I’ve read three paperback books and an audiobook and they were all longer ones for me – the physical books were all over 350 pages and the audiobook was 10 hours exactly so it wasn’t the seven books I read in January but there were some interesting ones and there wasn’t any middle grade so they weren’t as easy as finishing the Alex Rider series as I did at the beginning of the year.

So here’s a brief review of everything I read this month!

One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston

This was a pick from my TBR jar and regardless of the book, it’s always satisfying making progress on my jar! One Last Stop was a bit intimidating – it’s literally a very large book, it’s tall and it’s chunky and it was physically hard to hold, which made me a little resentful of reading it if I’m honest. I didn’t really vibe with many of the characters and even towards the end I was having to remind myself which name corresponded with which character.

But when it came to rating it, I couldn’t help but rate it 4 stars – something about the way my chest ached and the adrenalin I felt at the end of the book just made it a 4 star read. I feel like I need to read it again when I’m in a better headspace to see if I connect to the characters more but even now I feel like I found August really annoying so still a bit confused about One Last Stop, despite the 4 star rating.

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) – Helen Hoang

My first audiobook of the year and I’m so glad I’ve come back to The Kiss Quotient series by Helen Hoang. Although each book can be read as a standalone, going through the series and getting the extra references and feeling I know the characters better was such an added bonus. Reading another story with fantastic autism representation that wasn’t a carbon copy of the autism representation in the first book was really insightful.

Kai and Esme were super sweet, I loved the insight into being a Vietnamese woman in the US and everything she achieves over the summer, the progress Kai makes in learning about himself and the epilogue was so cute. I loved every second; the communication was there, the spicy scenes were red hot and the audio narrators were incredible. A full 5 stars with no hesitation.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

This one was my husband’s choice from the books we were gifted for our wedding and I was enthralled from the off – the concept was so original, the characters were so unique and diverse, and the plot was high paced and engaging from the first page to the last. Considering my favourite genre is contemporary romance, dystopian sci-fi was a bit daunting but it was clever without being elitist and alienating. Definitely added to a mental list of all time favourite books!

Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline

Going straight on to the sequel I was a bit apprehensive – the first book ended so fantastically, it definitely didn’t need a sequel but I was intrigued as to what the sequel could possibly be about.

The first half was honestly dull – protagonist Wade was so pathetic and self-pitying, it took over 50% of the book for a plot to really emerge but even then, I just couldn’t bring myself to root for Wade. There was an interesting new character that didn’t get explored enough and then the epilogue felt so awkward and rushed and big things were reduced to one sentence.

Don’t get me wrong, I still gave it 4 stars because the universe is so well created, the quest for the Seven Shards was just as clever as the original Easter Egg quest, the research and detail that went into finding each shard was amazing and the supporting characters were wonderful, it just wasn’t the 5 star material, especially in comparison to the original.

Currently Reading

As I write this, there’s still four days left of the month so I may be able to squeeze in another finished book but knowing how much I have left in each of the books I’m reading I don’t think I’ll manage that by the end of the month on Tuesday!

I’ve just started reading The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake from my physical tbr and it’s the longest book I’ve read this year at over 550 pages so I don’t think I’ll be able to finish that in four days! I’m still very much in the early stages, not even 10% through and just meeting the initial characters so I’ve not read enough to give an opinion yet but I’m enjoying what I have read!

And I’m nearly 60% through The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang, the third instalment in the Kiss Quotient series with about 4 hours to go. I might be able to squeeze it in, especially with how much I’m enjoying it but I’m not putting the pressure on myself to finish it by the end of the month. It’s another fantastic look at another person with autism who is completely different from the other two autistic characters in the series to far. It’s given such an incredible and emotional insight into a family who don’t ‘believe’ in autism and feel like they know someone better than they know themselves. My heart is breaking for Anna but I love how Quan is so thoughtful and considerate of her and I’m so excited to listen to the rest of this one. Maybe I will finish it by Tuesday!

Between my book instagram and my tiktok I’ve been thinking about books a lot. I’ve read something every single day this year and I’m still really enjoying it, maybe I’ve finally found a niche after eight years of blogging and making content!!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

everything about my wedding!

2023, wedding


It’s now been over three months since I got married and I’ve been thinking about doing a big post talking about everything that went into it, so now I’m finally doing it!

I set up a ‘joint’ Instagram account (that my husband never uses) when we got engaged to document the process of planning our wedding. Now I plan to use it for more general couple things – being soppy about him, if we can ever buy a house I want to document that, our life together etc. But just to conclude the wedding, I’ve spent the last week and a half making a bunch of posts about different aspects of the wedding so I thought I’d expand on them here!

Here’s everything you could possibly want to know about our wedding!


Our venue was absolutely stunning, there’s a reason I didn’t feel the need to see any others after we saw it.

One of my favourite things about it wasn’t actually the suite where our wedding took place, but a suite in the main hotel called the Windsor Suite which is essentially a massive apartment with a kitchen, three bedrooms (one ensuite, one family bathroom) and a massive living room area – the night before our wedding we had all of Lucas’s family, my entire bridal party and his best man in there for dinner and drinks. The morning of they brought breakfast to the suite (so I didn’t cross paths with Lucas by accident!) and there was plenty of space for us all to get ready without feeling smothered by the photographer or videographer so they really could be flies on the wall. It was an incredible space and I feel very lucky to have been able to use it.


My favourite thing about my flowers is that they look exactly the same to this day – in a beautiful vase in our living room with the cake topper popping out the top!


I’m considering ways in which I can have my dress adapted to be more subtle so I can wear it again, but I honestly can’t describe the way that I felt like a proper princess – the hair, the veil, the dress; it was everything.


Considering they’re arguably the biggest symbol of marriage, they were one of the easiest things to sort and I can honestly say my wedding ring is the most comfortable piece of jewellery I own.


Magical. It was all just magical.


I couldn’t fit all the crafts into one post, so here is part 2!

Although stressful at the time, spending time making all of these things with my husband was an experience I will truly treasure. As well as making me learn skills I have already used since – my Cricut and I will go a long way together!


Again, an aspect of the day that was often forgotten in my mind – definitely the shortest part of the day ringing in at about 30 minutes, but everything from our fabulous registrars, our wonderful witnesses and the readings and songs – perfect. I can’t describe it any other way.


I wish I could eat it all over again.

THE MEDIA SUPPLIERS (I can’t think of a nicer way to word it lol)

And that’s everything I can think of! We got engaged two years and ten months before we got married. Luckily we never had to postpone because of COVID because we picked a date so far in advance. But we went through our own array of issues with our venue changing hands and being passed through several wedding coordinators, being told we couldn’t have fireworks then we could but we couldn’t afford it, then I lost my job and everything felt very bleak.

But everything came together perfectly, it was the best day of my life and I felt like I was on cloud 9 (pretty much) all day long. I wish I could do it all over again!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

how I track my reading

2023, books


As someone who loves planning, tracking and statistics, it will come as no surprise that I have plenty of ways of keeping track of what I’m reading, how many books I’m reading and the amount of books I have.

It’s definitely not a necessity – when I was at school I went from one book to the next with no concept of how many books I read in a year or what I ratings I gave them (other than library lessons in English where I didn’t read quickly enough to get the same merits as my friends, not that I’m bitter). But Goodreads didn’t exist back then and I had no idea about communities like bookstagram (booktok was but a distant dream!).

It’s not a key part of my reading and absolutely nothing to do with why I love reading so much, but like when you’ve watched a cool TV show or seen an amazing film, having a community and a place to share a hobby you love just enhances the experience. The journalling aspect of my book tracking isn’t shared with anyone and isn’t online in any way, but like a literary scrapbook it’s nice to look back on the books I’ve read in years gone by.

So, my go-to method of book tracking is…

Storygraph – an app and website alternative to goodreads that isn’t owned by Amazon and provides much more in depth statistics and data around your reading habits. Including many of the same features – setting a reading goal, adding books to a ‘want to read’ shelf and writing reviews – but Storygraph also gives additional options such as adding half and quarter ratings to books, fantastic pie charts and graphs about what genres you read, the pages you’ve read, the pace, the format, the authors you keep coming back to and your average ratings! Seeing my annual statistics is one of my favourite parts of the New Year period.

I also love that you can track how far you are through a book – it’s how I know that I’m currently 92% through ‘The Bride Test’ by Helen Hoang and I’m listening to that one as an audio book, so I can track the minutes I’ve listened to as well as the pages of physical books!

I also find Storygraph is the best place to make note of books I want to read that I don’t own yet – whether I’ve seen it on BookTube, Bookstagram, BookTok or just from a browse in Waterstones, I can add these books to my ‘want to read’ section and as and when I get to a point where I can buy myself a new book (or I have a new audible credit), I have a list of titles I already know I’m interested in.

When I finish a book, Storygraph is the first part of my routine in documenting it so I can see my annual total increase and write my little review.

Alongside Storygraph, I have a book Journal – for my birthday my sibling gave me the Book Tok journal which I started using in January (I have a review on my tiktok, and there’s a follow up video!) – this is the main place I can write down everything I’m reading, my reviews and how I rated the book. I also have a segment in my bullet journal where I am also tracking how much I’m reading, what I’m reading, the genres, an alphabet challenge (trying to read a book for every letter of the alphabet!), a reading log, a book of the year flow chart and a page celebrating my 5 star reads.

Most of it is a repetition of the data I put in on Storygraph, but I like documenting it with paper and coloured pen in a different visual format too.

It’s all absolutely unnecessary, but I enjoy it and honestly, I don’t do enough things just because I enjoy them!

The other thing I’ve started just in 2023, is using a spreadsheet tracker – I had a look at the few trackers I could find online, but a lot of them were for creators who make a living from making content about books and integrated a content planner and places to track ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), which I don’t need, so instead I designed this.

Why do I need to repeat all this data again? I don’t know! But I like the idea of being able to make my own graphs at the end of the year and more accurately tracking my pages (Storygraph doesn’t always have them exactly right) and knowing how many books I’m reading from my backlist and tbr jar. Which leads to…

My book spreadsheet. This makes my heart happy just looking at it.

Here I have a list of all the unread books on my shelf (TBR Reads), the books we received as wedding gifts that I haven’t read (Wedding Library) and the new books I’ve bought. Once I’ve read a book, I move it over to the ‘READ IN 2023’ section and update the numbers on the right which details the total number of unread books I had as of January 1st, how many new books I’ve bought, how many backlist I’ve read and the consequent remaining number of books I have that I haven’t read (please don’t judge me).

Having all of this information in one spreadsheet that’s completely customisable and in pretty colours brings me joy.

I also have a bookstagram account where I have my reading goal tally and my current reads listed in my bio and an app called Bookshelf where I can see every physical book I own. This has been particularly useful as my memory has got worse to remind myself whether I’ve already bought the pretty book I saw in a shop.

I lose track of whether it’s familiar because I saw someone talking about it online or because I already have it and I don’t know whether I should be concerned about that considering I am only 26.

Writing it all out like this has really shown me that the ways I track my reading are very repetitive and not very streamlined at all, but in my head they all serve slightly different purposes. Though even if they didn’t, sitting with my journal of an evening is a lovely way to spend five minutes documenting what I’ve read, being part of an online community is an amazing way to share what I love and my spreadsheet brings me joy – what other reason do I need!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

3 fantastic romances that deserve more recognition

2023, books


Contemporary romance is one of my favourite genres – I love a conversational, easy to read writing style, I love the huge variety of nuanced characters and I love stories about love! Sweet gestures, heartfelt confessions and the occasional saucy moment.

I think it’s one of the most popular genres on bookstagram and booktok – most of the books I see being massively hyped online and on the featured tables in book shops are contemporary romance books and I’m absolutely with them. They’re definitely some of my fastest reads and they’re the ones I get most enthusiastic about – I was listening to an audiobook on my way back from the gym (yes, that was a minor flex that I did actually go to the gym) and the lovers in the book I’m currently listening to overcame a huge hurdle and I literally exclaimed out loud how excited I was.

But there are lots of amazing romance books that I don’t see people talking about so I wanted to shout about three books that I adored and rated five stars. These books cover some varied topics – being a mixed raced girl in the 21st century, turning fairy tales into modern stories of a bunch of nerds going to a fan convention and an incredible insight to selective mutism and being deaf.

The Mismatch – Sara Jafari

I picked this up on a whim and I cannot explain how much I want everyone else in the world to read it – it’s a dual perspective family story told from the point of view of a mother and a daughter, but each when they were teenagers. Seeing the mothers perspective growing up in an Asian Muslim culture and the decisions she makes about her identity, her education and her relationship, in comparison to her daughters perspective as a fresh graduate, figuring out her religion’s place in her British upbringing and whether she can tell her parents she might be getting to know a white English boy.

The Mismatch is not only a great romance story, but such a wonderful insight into growing up in one culture and figuring out how to blend it with a new one as well as growing up in a culture that’s nothing like the one your parents want you to honour. Just writing about it here has made me want to reread it! Honestly a truly heartwarming and hugely insightful story.

Geekerella / Once Upon A Con – Ashley Poston

Honestly, it’s the third book in the Once Upon A Con series ‘Bookish and the Beast’ which is my favourite but the whole series is fantastic and I gave ‘Geekerella’ five stars as well.

The whole series centres around a Star Trek/Star Wars-esque TV show with spin-off novels and a rebooted movie franchise and a nerdy con to bring all the fans together and celebrate it. Each novel focuses on a different set of characters in relation to the actors in the movies and whilst they can be read individually, the references and nuances are so much better when they’re read in order (hence why I read them 3, 1, 2, then 3 again to truly appreciate it).

I love stories about nerds and with protagonists who care about this franchise so much and their fangirl-y adoration translates so well to the page (and the audiobooks – the narrators are all perfect). They make my little fangirling, fanfiction writing teenage self feel seen and the nostalgia is real.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I saw this book recommended in one random YouTube video maybe five years ago and immediately added it to my tbr – the only thing I really knew about it is that it was about a deaf character and was really insightful about being someone who can’t hear in an audio world.

What I didn’t anticipate was that the lead protagonist has selective mutism (another condition I didn’t know much about) and anxiety and she’s inadvertently paired up with a hard of hearing boy because she knows a little bit of sign language and their story of trying to figure each other out whilst figuring out each others languages and being teenagers is a recipe for a very sweet YA romance novel.

All three of these novels were easy five star reads from me and writing about them has made me want to reread them all!

Let me know if you decide to read any of them or if you have already read them I would love to hear your thoughts!!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

January Reading Wrap Up!

2023, books


Somehow, January feels like it’s gone incredibly quickly and incredibly slow simultaneously – three weeks in, I couldn’t believe it had only been three weeks and now we’re approaching February and I’m not sure how we’re already one month down.

It’s been a very challenging month with my partner getting into a road accident on an electric scooter (yes, he’s been called stupid on a variety of occasions by the people who love him most) and after spending six hours in A&E, getting 7 stitches for a laceration in his eyebrow, getting a sling for a fractured elbow and being given a tuna mayo sandwich at 2am to help with the nausea of missing dinner and not eating for 12 hours, we were home and I had the responsibility of looking after my one armed husband who could only just manage to get dressed on his own and was stubborn enough to try everything without asking for help.

So this month has been a lot of watching TV (we’ve been binging Taskmaster on All4), doing a surprisingly complex Harry Potter puzzle (I’ve included a picture both for reference and because I’m unjustifiably proud), making things with my Cricut and cuddling the sad boy while he watched YouTube and I read!

Having finished 2022 by reading 7 books in December, I was hyped and motivated to bring that energy into 2023, as well as being desperate to finish the Alex Rider series because whilst I knew if I didn’t read it all in one hit I would forget certain details and characters, I was also so ready to read something else.

So far I’ve finished five books this month and I’m hoping to finish my current read by the 31st on Tuesday, so I’m really proud of the start I’ve made! Here are the books I managed to finish in January.

Russian Roulette (Alex Rider #10) – Anthony Horowitz

The first Alex Rider book that isn’t about Alex Rider – following the upbringing of Yassen Gregorovich, the assassin who worked with John Rider (Alex’s Dad) and is employed to kill Alex on a variety of occasions. It was actually a really lovely story of an anti-hero who never really wanted to be an assassin but life never really gave him a chance. Even as an assassin in the previous books, he’d been somewhat endearing and principled so finding out about his life as a teenager in Russia was lovely – a solid 4 star read to start the year.

Enna Burning – Shannon Hale

For context – at our wedding, for gifts we asked our guests to bring a copy of their favourite book so we could have a little snapshot library of all our favourite people from this specific moment in time. This included my cousins kids (aged 9 months and 2 years), my godmothers kids (6, 10 and 11) and all of our family and friend. I’ve decided that I want to read one book from the wedding library each month this year and Enna Burning was my first choice! A gift from my oldest friend.

I was a bit disappointed to only give it 3 stars, but I think this is entirely down to the fact that it’s the second book in the Books of Bayern series and unlike the Alex Rider books (which granted are aimed at middle grade readers, so perhaps are assumed to not remember things as well?), the narrative assumes you’ve read the first book and understand the magic system and the key words and the pre-existing relationships. With not having that context, I didn’t feel the connection between the main character and the love interest at all and it took me a long time to understand the friendship between Enna and the first book’s protagonist, Isi. However, the climax and resolution at the end of the book was actually very powerful and poignant. I’ve added the original book, The Goose Girl, to my tbr and will definitely re-read Enna Burning when I have the full context and anticipate it’ll get a higher rating then!

Never Say Die (Alex Rider #11) – Anthony Horowitz

And with the wedding library read done for the month, I was determined to finish the last three Alex Rider books before February!

This book is the one that was never really meant to exist – originally the series was going to end with book six, then another trilogy came out, then the interim story in Russian Roulette was meant to be the end. I’m not sure if it’s a mix of me getting fatigued with this character or knowing that this series has been on going for over two decades, but I can’t figure out if this was a genuine love project where Horowitz had more of Alex’s story to tell, or is it a money grab from a successful series that will inevitably continue to profit.

Either way, I’d committed so I wasn’t stopping now.

Never Say Die was the first book in this series since the first book to only get three stars – it felt very slow paced and really dragged in places and I kept getting bored and having to take a break. The mission itself was very ambitious and the fact that MI6 didn’t really believe what Alex was investigating and he had to do it himself with no gadgets, no back-up and limited resources was impressive, but it took so long to get to the end game. And the title is really cliche.

Secret Weapon (Alex Rider #12 – Short Story Collection) – Anthony Horowitz

If it weren’t for these seven short stories, I’d have really struggled with finishing the series – I planned to read one at a time, but ended up reading the whole thing in three days (this is fast for me). It was nice to revisit some of the earlier missions and fill in some of the gaps between previous novels. I was particularly a fan of ‘Tea with Smithers’. The perfect break between the full length stories – another four stars.

Nightshade (Alex Rider #13) – Anthony Horowitz

I finally made it to the last novel (so far, but I’ll get to that)! Nightshade had been set up to be the most deadly enemy that Alex has ever faced and everything that was missing in ‘Never Say Die’ was back for Nightshade – the pacing was fantastic, the stakes were constantly high and although some of it was a bit predictable (which I’ll allow, because the target audience is 8-12 year olds according to the shelf labels in Waterstones), it actually introduced yet more incredibly interesting and nuanced characters that I really hope continue to feature in future novels.

Which there will almost certainly be, because in the last line of this book it’s practically confirmed that there will be another sequel – Nightshade was released in 2020 and I’m reliably informed that the next book is due for release this year, but there’s no confirmed information yet. Will I buy it and read it? Absolutely – Nightshade was my first five star review of the year and I’m a completionist, so I’ve got to make sure I’ve read everything. Currently, I feel like it’s all being dragged out a bit but that might be because I’ve just read thirteen books in the series and I need a bit of space from it.

And I’m currently 58% through Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon – I finally got to pick another title from my tbr jar (which I set up in Summer ’22, then picked Alex Rider and have only just finished it!). This was on my list of 23 books I want to read in 2023 which rounds off a very good start to my reading year; finishing a long series, starting the wedding library and ticking off one of the books from my 23 list!

I’m still really excited about reading this year and at this rate I’ll hit my goal by the summer, but maintaining this reading speed feels incredibly optimistic so I’ll just play it by ear!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

4 craft project I’ve made recently!

2023, crafting


The start of 2023 has been a unique one, that’s for sure – I’m still unemployed, so it’s my first year in a while that I’m not getting back into the swing of work and just a couple of weeks into the year, my husband managed to have an accident on an electric scooter going 15 mph (which doesn’t sound fast, but resulted in seven stitches in his eyebrow, a fractured elbow and a lot of bruises and swelling!).

So it’s been a much slower start to the year – I’m back in therapy and I’ve just started working with a career coach so I have no doubt that I’m giving myself the right tools to get back into the workplace in the best frame of mind. As well as making the most of the time I have at home at the moment to work on lots of crafty projects and doing some offline activities -reading, learning to play the piano again and completing a 1000 piece puzzle! I’m putting a picture in because it was incredibly satisfying.

Figuring out where all the frame pieces went is way harder than it looked!

But having really got into using my Cricut at the end of last year, I’ve already made a start on some exciting new projects this year! Having shared the exciting potential with friends and family, two of these projects were requests from other people and two were personal projects. They’re all really easy, as I’m definitely still a beginner, so if I can do them anyone can!

1 – Kitchen Jar Labels

My first request came from my mum, who wanted labels for the jars in her new kitchen – she sent me a photo of the jars, I asked a few questions about the kind of font she wanted and colours and together we came up with the following.

The photo doesn’t show it very well but there are two layers of vinyl – a white drop shadow with a royal blue offset on top. They’re not perfectly aligned as it was my first time trying using vinyl this way (and I had a slight mishap with the vinyl cutting that missed the top of the ‘C’ in ‘Coffee’) but I’m so pleased with how these turned out and I think they’re going to look amazing when they’re put on the jars!

I’ll probably post a picture on my Instagram next time I visit my mum and transfer the stickers to their new homes!

2 – A Lunchbox Decor

My friend uses a tin ammunition box as a lunch box, mostly because it’s funny but also conveniently practical and hardy. He messaged me around the new year asking if I could make labels for his box that said ‘L.U.N.C.H’ in a stencil font with an acronym underneath and I’m absolutely thrilled with how these turned out.

I just bought myself some new fine point blades on Amazon because mine was so blunt and I was totally invigorated by how easy these were to make now that I was working with a sharp blade! I’m so pleased with how these came out and I think they really suit the vibe – the font goes really well with the army green and they genuinely look like they’ve been spray painted on!

And considering I completely eyeballed the placement I’m honestly thrilled with how it turned out and so was my friend!

3 – A Mood Board of my 2023 Goals

I made one of these in 2021 and I really loved it – I had it on the wall in my office and I loved having a nice selection of pictures that were all aesthetic and pretty and reminded me of the things I was working towards and I was passionate about. It was the year I went back to dance classes and started my bookstagram account and I included a bunch of nice Pinterest photos from my favourite franchises – some Doctor Who, some Spider-Man some space stuff, it brought me great joy.

The beginning of 2022 was a bit chaotic so I never got round to making another one, but this year I was determined! With my newfound Cricut skills I was so read to make it pretty and artsy.

Honestly? I prefer the design of my 2021 board, but I like the little titles and I got to use some pretty patterned paper that I’ve had saved for ages so I like the general vibe, I just think it would look better if it had more pictures and less gaps. The patterned paper hurts my eyes a little bit but I’m glad I tried something new and I’ve learnt for next time

(note: I did not tear up an innocent book just to use in this project – it was a well read book that had been water damaged so I’m using it to the best of my crafty abilities)

4 – A Galaxy Rocket Jacket

I used some vouchers I’d built up through my many Hobbycraft purchases to buy my first sheets of Infusible Ink, which is essentially a step up from Iron-On Vinyl as it actually bonds with the fabric rather than sitting on top of it (if that makes any sense at all).

It won’t surprise anyone who knows me that I got the galaxy infusible ink, because I’m a basic white girl with a space aesthetic and I’m not ashamed.

I chose to add a little rocket to my denim jacket because my husband and I, at one point, were considering merging our names when we got married and becoming ‘Rockett’ – we decided against the idea but have still kept it as a little thing for us. It also goes well with my space aesthetic.

So now I have a galaxy rocket jacket!

It’s a little bit faded and hasn’t transferred very evenly, but I think it looks kind of retro and worn in and I love it!

I’m seriously considering doing a bigger space themed piece on the back with some stars in a silver glitter iron on vinyl I have, but I’m definitely not going to rush into it.

I’m over the moon (lol) with how this came out and can’t wait to customise literally all of my clothes now.

So considering we’re only three weeks into the year, I’m pretty pleased with everything I’ve made so far! I’m seriously tempted to open a little Etsy store for custom items, but I don’t think I’m good enough at it yet. For now I’m going to stick with my own practice projects and making things for my friends!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx