top 10 in my tbr

2019, books

Hello!

I’ve blogged before about how reading was such a big part of my childhood and I’m really hoping to rekindle that love this year. I’ve set a goodreads goal of 12 books this year and I’m on track at the moment!

I’ve got a list in my bullet journal of some of the books on my shelf that I haven’t yet read (though I have just found another chunk of books that I have since added to my shelf!) and I thought I would have a little ramble about the books I’m most excited to read!

Genre isn’t something that normally sells me on books – I like fantasy adventure, I like romantic chick lit, I love dystopian fiction, I like magic and interesting characters and open discussions about taboos like mental health and disabilities amongst other traits that make characters a little bit different.

There are other books that I want to read but at the moment I’m not letting myself buy anything until I’ve read everything I’ve already got, so these are my top 10 books that I’m most excited to read from my ‘to be read’ list!

The book based on the cover and blurb alone seems like one of those Lord of the Rings-esque historical fantasy books and I used to be super into those. A lot of my books were bought from this discount warehouse my family used to go to on holiday when I was a teenager and I’m catching up on the books I bought then. This is one of them – I’m still intrigued by the concept even now I’m in my 20s.

On the other end of the scale, concepts of a human future where something drastic has changed is an interesting thing to explore in fiction – the Hunted explores a world where humanity has sacrificed fertility and children are a commodity (I think?) and I don’t know much more about it than that. I’m not sure how Shearer is going to explain how humans got to this stage so I’m really interested to see how thought out this book is.

The blurb seems like a stereotypical ‘boy meets wildly different girl and somehow they make it work’ but the main reasons I want to read this book are 1) it’s super hyped and I want to see if it’s worth all the positive reviews and 2) the cover is pretty. Mostly 2.

I wanted to write ‘I’m a huge fan of John Green’ and I am – I love the content he makes on YouTube and I still haven’t watched the fault in our stars movie because I loved the book and I didn’t know if it would translate well on film but I haven’t read any of his other books and I ‘looking for alaska’ is one of the only books I’ve never finished. Unless you count the books I was meant to read for my english literature a level. I know that when TATWD came out it got a lot of glowing reviews for its characterisation of mental health and I’m genuinely excited to read the book for that reason.

‘Fangirl’ stands as one of my favourite books of all time – ‘Carry On’ is the spin off, full length version of the fanfiction written by the main character. I want to reread ‘Fangirl’ before I read ‘Carry On’ but if they ever make a film of the book, I want to be in it. Just wanted to get that in writing.

Another one purely for the hype except I’m literally a decade late to the party – it’s a book I bought cheap and I want to see if I like or if I’m going to donate it to the charity shop but it’s another one with an interesting concept!

More hype/film adaptation hype. Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are in the film and I silently watched bits of the film over someone’s shoulder on a plane once and I liked the look of it. The main thing putting me off is the fact it’s a chunky book and I’m a fairly slow reader, but the picture of Lily Collins on the front is a good selling point.

The sequel to ‘if I stay’ which I think had a film adaptation that looked pretty rubbish, but I actually enjoyed the book a lot about seven years ago when I read it. I want to read both books in succession and remind myself what I liked about it. I always found it funny that by calling the sequel ‘where she went’ suggests an answer to the title of the first book ‘if I stay’ and that still makes me laugh.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise this was a sequel until I was finding the Amazon link but this one was a cheap buy with a pretty cover. ‘Be With Me’ seems like one of those easy read YA-chick-lit-esque books that I’d take on holiday or read after finishing a heavier book. Maybe I need to invest in the original!

Do I read most books because of hype and film adaptations? Potentially but I know very little about this book, but I love a sob story and ‘dying girl’ seems like a character that fulfils this desire.

Some of these books are really new, some of these books are a bit older but I’m really excited to read all of them – there’s only four books left on my reading goal for the year but I’m not limiting myself to only 12, if I want to start book 13 you can be sure I’m going to!

I’m currently reading Wilde Women by Louise Pentland and I’m thoroughly enjoying it – this series of books is really comforting and I whole heartedly recommend them if you enjoy watching family vlogs on YouTube because it’s like reading a cosy family vlog, I love it.

What books do you enjoy reading? Are there anything you think I’m missing out on? Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my list!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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training to write a book

2019, books, goals, writing

Hello!

For four of the seven months of this year so far, I’ve set myself ‘writing challengers’ of writing a certain amount of words in so many days. It started at 20k, then 25k, 30k, 35k and in August I’m aiming to write 40,000 words.

All of this is my way of training myself to write an increasing amount of words per day to work up to the 50,000 words in 30 days that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – an online community aiming to write a novel in a month!).

My history with creative writing started all the way back in October 2008 when I was on a family holiday and I found a loose tile at the bottom of the swimming pool and I was inspired to write my own story inspired by the characters in BBC’s Merlin (what a throwback) so my journey with fanfiction began.

From there, I was writing every single night sat in front of the TV with my family – whether it be a notebook, my laptop or my iPad I was always writing from 2008 all the way through to 2015 really when I left for uni. In 2011 I gave my first attempt at NaNoWriMo but only made it to the 15/16k mark – in 2012 I won NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of my novel that one day I’ve vowed to publish and I’ve told my best friend Katy she can play the lead female character when it gets made into a film too so I’ve got to keep that promise.

Then I went to uni. And I spent evenings with friends rather than alone watching TV and writing fanfiction and developing my own novel – at various points over my degree I tried to get back into it but I just didn’t have the time or the motivation to properly invest myself in writing again.

And then came the year after I graduated where I couldn’t get a job to start my career and I’m back in my childhood bedroom but I’m 22 and my long term boyfriend is with me.

Either way, I had much more time to dedicate to writing! I tried NaNoWriMo again in 2018 but it really is a challenge, however it gave me the drive to rediscover what I loved about creative writing and get back into it – thus the monthly challenges training for WriMo begin!

The challenges have been a mixed bag so far – the first one went really well, the other one was a complete failure, the third one started well but I fell behind a little a caught up in the early days of the following month. The most recent challenge I didn’t really start writing until about a week in and somehow I pulled it back and finished a whopping 35,000 words in July ready to jump straight into 40,000 words in August!

What I’ve found in the last three months works really well is using fanfiction and writing prompts just to get myself writing anything – having 30 prompts to write short little excerpts with characters I’m already familiar with and haven’t had to design has really got me in the right mindset and excited about delving into my own characters again in November where I’m hoping to finish draft 2 of my original winning novel seven years down the line!

In June I used Carrie Hope Fletcher’s May, Myself and I words as prompts, in July I used Hannah Witton’s Dear June and for August my darling, hilarious boyfriend has written 31 prompts for me to follow. I’m genuinely surprised that they were so thoughtful – I’ve got a good boy that will endorse my little writing challenges and I don’t know about you, but I think I have the best boyfriend (he’s my favourite team mate).

That’s a little summary of how I’ve been training for NaNoWriMo this year – creative writing has been my biggest outlet since I was 12 years old. In my worst moments, I take my feelings and vent them out in fiction and it just make everything feel much less isolating – especially back in the days where I shared my fanfiction and I got so much positive feedback from pieces that were written from the heart and that’s always been how I write. For my blog, for my creative writing – I want everything I write to sound genuine and conversational and I think I’ve done that fairly successfully.

There’s still three months until NaNoWriMo begins but I’m already excited!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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what I’ve read so far this year

2019, books

Hello!

When I sat down to write this blog post I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about – I love blogging so much, so usually I can just sit at my computer and find something to ramble passionately about but today? Nothing. I’d spent all day doing uni work for my PG Cert course and nothing was coming to mind.

I even Googled ‘blog post ideas’ seeing if that would spark anything but advice to anyone thinking about starting a blog – don’t Google blog post ideas. They’re never that good and definitely not original.

So I started scrolling through instagram – my feed is a creative hub of friends and other creators and browsing through posts, it wasn’t till I thought about my own posts that I actually decided what I wanted to write about (how vain is that?).

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (or 2019 Goals, however you want to word it) was to read one book every month and I’ve already finished my book for June so I’m feeling genuinely really pleased with myself that I’ve managed to integrate reading back into my nightly routine.

Today, I’m going to do a little run down of all the books I’ve read so far this year. If you like this post and want me to do another round up at the end of the year, do let me know!

In chronological order, let’s go!

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I set myself the challenge this year of reading 12 books – one a month. I used to be the kid that snuck out of bed to keep reading and studying English at school destroyed any previous love for reading but I'm determined to get it back! ✨ My first book of the year was @louisepentland's Wilde About The Girl – I read the first in the series when I went to Louise and Carrie Fletcher's book event last summer (I know I should have read it before) and absolutely fell in love with Robin Wilde – she's sassy and funny but she's flawed, she thought she needed a man to love her and sometimes she wore her pyjamas for the school run but she was so real. I'm not the target audience for this series but I bloody loved it and somehow I loved Wilde About The Girl even more. It was raw and emotional and laugh out loud funny, there were twists and turns and love and friendship and it was all round a feel good book. It was so easy to read, difficult to put down and the perfect holiday book – I thoroughly recommend it, even if you don't think a book about a mum in her late twenties is for you, Robin will wiggle her way into your heart. Can't wait for book 3 💜 ✨ I think I want to do a little review like this after each book I finish – I never thought I'd finish my first book of the month only halfway through but I'm thoroughly enjoying reading before bed, 2019 is going to be such a good year. Up next – when the curtain falls by @carriehopefletcher 🎭 ✨ #bookreview #book #bookstagram #reader #readagram #wildeaboutthegirl #wildelikeme #robinwilde #louisepentland #writer #blogger #lifestyleblogger #shinyhappybloggers #smallblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #thatsdarling #creative #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #pa #freelancelife

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Wilde About The Girl – Louise Pentland

My second attempt at finishing this novel – I read the first in the series in the run up to meeting the author at a book event last summer and I fell in love. ‘Wilde Like Me’ was the reason I wanted to get back into reading this year and on the second attempt of ‘Wilde About The Girl’ I was on a roll!

I’ve never really been into chick lit – I love fantasy and magic and space and adventure, but there was something beautifully mundane about Robin Wilde’s story. I commented at the time that it was like reading a vlog in someone’s life and it was cosy and lovely. Genuinely I’d recommend it to everyone – an emotional but beautiful read!

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book 02 : when the curtain falls (@carriehopefletcher) 🎭🔫✨ It took me a bit longer to get into 'when the curtain falls', then I was 200 pages in and realised this wasn't early chapters set up. Then I read the last 70 pages in one night (which is a big deal for me) and everything cascaded into a defeating crescendo of a finale and I'm lying in bed nearly in tears over these characters I didn't realise I'd fallen in love with. Combining my love of theatre, magic and writing 'when the curtain falls' has decided that I /need/ to catch up on the rest of Carrie's books and I really want to publish one of my own. Next up – 'eleanor oliphant is completely fine' (gail honeyman) ✨ . #book #bookstagram #whenthecurtainfalls #carriehopefletcher #book2of12 #reading #writing #fiction #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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When The Curtain Falls – Carrie Hope Fletcher

At the same book event as I met Louise, Carrie was also promoting this beautiful novel. I’ve tried one of Carrie’s books before and enjoyed it but just couldn’t get into it enough to finish it.

At the beginning, I felt similarly about When The Curtain Falls – with a history in performance and musical theatre, I was invested in the story but it wasn’t until 200 pages in that I couldn’t put it down. It was as I was nearing the end of the book that I realised ‘this isn’t the set up anymore, this is it!’ and I read the final 100 or so pages in one night.

Utterly thrilling, a beautiful telling of romance and love and unsuspecting characters. Again, would whole heartedly recommend.

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book 03 : Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine (gail honeyman) 🎸🖥️🐈 Eleanor and I have had a rocky relationship – at the beginning, I thought she was a bit pretentious, I didn't think she was trying to be funny when people said she was funny and she needed to re-evaluate her relationship with strangers, but then I met Raymond and I slowly learnt more about Eleanor's story. This is one of the most cleverly written books I've read in a very long time and I'd LOVE to go for a coffee with Miss Honeyman and have a very in-depth conversation about the intricacies of Eleanor Oliphant. At its heart, it's an incredibly sad story but it's insightful, heart warming and so utterly, utterly real – I genuinely think everyone should read this book, stick with it… You start to empathise with her eventually ✨ 🥰 next up : we all looked up – tommy wallach ✨ #book #bookstagram #reading #eleanoroliphant #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Oh Eleanor, we had a difficult relationship. All the things I’d seen people say about how the book was hilarious and gripping from page 1, I didn’t get. It took me over a month to finish this because I found Eleanor arrogant, rude and uninteresting as a character.

Then the story developed, the introduction to one key character kept me hooked and by the end I wanted to protect Eleanor with every fibre of my being – she’s an incredibly complex character that I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to understand.

If you’re struggling with Eleanor’s story, I highly recommend pushing through to the end because you’ll be rooting for this girl I promise.

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book 04 : we all looked up (tommy wallach) 🌌💖🔫 Sped through this wonderful coming of age novel at first because I wanted to keep up with my monthly goal but then because I was hooked on these four Mish mashed broken characters – 'we all looked up' is full of teenage angst, existential realism and a freedom of not caring anymore. I've not read a book that made me feel so alive in such a long time and boy-o do I want to work on a film adaptation! Don't be put off by YA – when it's the end of the world, we all look up 🌆 ✨ next up : hold on – alan gibbons 🌌 #book #bookstagram #reading #wealllookedup #tommywallach #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative

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We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach

An existential story about four teenagers at the end of the world? Yes please.

A lot of my books are YA and young YA at that – I bought them when my family used to go on holiday in Derbyshire and there was the most incredible bookshop where I could buy 10+ books for £30-£40 and it was my heaven. I picked up hundreds of books most of which went unread because I simply never would have had time to read that much.

When I moved back from uni I sorted through all my books and donated about two-thirds to charity, most of which had never been read but the ones I did keep I really wanted to read.

And that’s where ‘We All Looked Up’ slots in! It’s a very interesting narrative told from four different perspectives about what the potential end of the universe can do to all sides of society. I don’t want to spoil it in any way, but it’s a really humbling read that really nails the key aspects of humanity.

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book 05 : hold on – alan gibbons 😢🐂🥰 this short little novel (novella?) was not a challenging read, but I don't think I enjoyed it – it's about a boy who commits suicide and his friend's journey to figuring out why and coming to terms with everyone who played a part in it. I don't know if it's maybe because I'm not feeling my best mentally at the moment but I don't think I like the representation of mental health in this story, but perhaps that might be because that's how mental health is still presented in society and I don't like that. I don't regret reading 'hold on' but it's one to go to the charity shop I think 🤷 ✨ next up : one seriously messed up week in the otherwise mundane and uneventful life of (sam taylor) Jack Samsonite – tom clempson 😢 #books #bookstagram #holdon #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarenessweek #alangibbon #reading #bookclub #pageturner #writer #blogger #huji #photography #shinyhappybloggers

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Hold On – Alan Gibbon

The first book of the year I haven’t really rated – ‘Hold On’ is about a boy who has committed suicide and his friend’s attempt to figure out what went wrong. Told from the modern day perspective of his friend and diary entries leading up to the end of his life, it’s a very mixed tale about who’s to blame.

As someone who has suffered with mental health problems, I found it very hard to empathise and very difficult to read about so many characters who had such a trivial and incorrect understanding of how depression can manifest. I came to the conclusion that I think that was the point – I think it’s meant to be an uncomfortable read. But I didn’t enjoy it, because parts of it didn’t feel intentional, they just felt naive.

I’ll be donating my copy, that’s all I’ll say.

And last but not least!

One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor Jack Samsonite – Tom Clempson

The one that hasn’t even made it to my instagram yet! This book (I’m not writing out that title again) is another very YA one about 16 year old ‘Jack’ navigating GCSEs, girls, friends, not friends and a couple much more sinister (but not too dark, it’s still YA) topics.

I feel like there’s not too much I can say without completely spoiling the book. It’s not really comparable to ‘Wilde About The Girl’ in any way but the sort of mundanity of it all is similar. There’s a few melodramatic teenage bits but as a 22 year old reader it’s about a teenager getting worked up about teenage things and it’s almost refreshing to be able to complete separate myself from all that knowing I no longer than categorise myself with teenagers.

A fun read, a solid 4/5.

And that’s what I’m reading this year – I always post little reviews on my Instagram so if you want to keep up with what I’m reading either follow me there or add me on goodreads! Sometimes I forget to update my page count for a few days but my most up to date reads are all on there!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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