Treasured In: March

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

It’s that time of month where I’m baffled about how we’ve got to this time of month and it’s nearly the next month, with a bonus helping of oh my god we’re a quarter of the way through the year already and it doesn’t even feel like 2020 ever ended.

But taking the time to think and write about the things I liked in the last month makes me feel a bit brighter and it’s nice to talk about happy things so here are the things I Treasured In March!

Purchase Other than putting the deposit down on a new rental house and having to get new glasses (which look the same but I can actually see out of them now), I actually haven’t bought a lot this month. I bought a box set of one of my new favourite book series ‘The Selection’ by Kiera Cass (which I’ll get to later) and I got some wool trackies from Asda that are glorious for working from home, but otherwise, I’ve actually been good at not spending this month and that is oddly satisfying.

Song – I’ve actually been listening to a lot of music this month, but nothing particularly new? I’ve made a few new discoveries and some new music has come out.

I’ve been watching a lot of Lottie Mednick on Twitch and she is currently designing an Avatar: The Last Airbender themed island in Animal Crossing New Horizon and she had Avatar music on in the background on one of her streams so… I started listening to Avatar music and ‘Kai’s Theme and Agne Kai‘ is a banger – if you’re a fan of soundtrack music, it’s fantastic and I can’t wait to listen to it whilst driving down a motorway in the summer.

All Time Low just released a new song called ‘Once in a Lifetime‘ and I’m obviously going to have it on loop for at least the next two months, it’s so catchy and I love it.

I’ve also been listening to the Georgia remix of ‘Hate Myself‘ by dodie, I just found ‘90s Kids‘ by Jax on tiktok and ‘weapon‘ and ‘that won’t save us‘ by Against The Current are also catchy af.

YouTube video – I’ve caught up on my watch later playlist! I give it approximately a week before it’s at 30 videos again but some of my favourites from the last month have been;

Books I’ve read

As I write this I’m reading my sixth book of the month, so March has been really good for reading but like I said earlier I bought ‘The Selection’ series having gotten the first book in a blind book gift my sister bought me from Etsy and demolishing it in the most ‘guilty pleasure’ way.

My first read was ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and it was a beautiful little book about one night with a stranger in a beautiful city and reckless teenage abandon – it was lovely and I definitely need to watch the film now.

Then I read ‘The Elite’, ‘The One’, ‘The Heir’ and ‘The Crown’ by Kiera Cass to complete ‘The Selection’ series in about three weeks (very fast for me) – I don’t know how I can describe it because it wasn’t good, the fact the main character is called America Singer and she’s a musician irritated me from the off but the dystopian story with an old royalty feel (I’d just finished watching Bridgerton as well) all wrapped up in what is essentially a reality TV competition for the Prince’s hand in marriage and I gobbled it up. The third book in the series ended very abruptly and I did not enjoy the sequels about America’s daughter, Eadlyn, anywhere near as much but I still read the whole series in less than a month so I must have at least somewhat enjoyed it.

And I’m currently reading ‘In at The Deep End’ by Kate Davies and so far it’s a solid 3/5 – there’s a lot of sex in it, which usually I wouldn’t read as it’s not my thing, but the way the narrative voice is written just makes it all feel so normal? It’s not trying to be scandalous or seductive – it’s just a girl with real hormones and real feelings figuring out herself and her sexuality and a lot of it is really sweet. I’ve got about 50 pages left which I think I’ll finish tonight (on the last day of the month which is really satisfying!!) so if you want to see my full review it should be on my bookstagram sophiesreading in the next few days!

Something to watch

I think it was end of February that I watched Bridgerton but my viewing habits have been pretty standard this month – I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos (as detailed above!), I watched Wandavision on Disney+ and I’ve watched the first two episodes of ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ which is brilliant so far.

My fiancé and I finished watching ‘Avatar: The Legend of Korra’ which was brilliant and I’m so excited about the announcement of a continuation of the universe. But we’re looking for a new series to binge – we’ve finished Korra, Falcon and Winter Soldier is weekly episodes, so whilst we figure out what show we want to watch next we’ve started a Marvel marathon – so far we’ve watched Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 (we’re watching in timeline order not release order!) and I’m thoroughly enjoying that actually!

Wedding planning update

I feel like I’ve mentioned this approximately three thousand times, but I’ve broken down everything we (I) need to plan for the wedding and put it into monthly tasks, this month was researching wedding insurance and booking the photographer and videographer and I did all of the things! We’re going to buy the wedding insurance once we’ve moved (because we’ve got to space out the funds!), the photographer and videographer are officially booked and we’ve booked a photobooth as well which is really exciting! It’s all starting to feel a little more real now.

A new habit

I wasn’t sure how else to categorise it but I definitely couldn’t not mention it – I’ve started using Duolingo to learn Italian! I have always want to be better at languages but I’ve always struggled, so I thought I’d give it a go and I love how it’s laid out and I actually feel like I’m doing quite well! I’m not having a fluent conversation anytime soon but I can tell you that the insects are in the sugar and I don’t question why duolingo has come up with this sentence (i insetti sono nel zucchero! I think?).


As the world starts to reopen again, we’re packing to move into a new house and everything feels new and different, it’s definitely a little daunting and scary. I don’t really like change, but I’m excited about the new house and the new chapter it will bring.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

read at your speed – comparison is the thief of joy

2021, books
Hello! Growing up, reading as a hobby was never cool – using the library was weird, reading in your own time was ‘nerdy’ and don’t get me started on fangirling over books. I was definitely the geek growing up but so were all my friends, so I actually had the opposite problem… I’m a slow reader (or at least, I was always led to believe I was!) – my friends would read a book every couple of days and I would take weeks just to finish one. No one ever made a comment about it but it always made me feel silly for not being able to read as quickly. Fast forward to today with kindles and goodreads and bookstagrams and I’m feeling the pressure to read faster from a different place – I can generally get through a book in a week, depending on the length of the book and how much I’m enjoying it, so my goal for the year is 25 books which is the equivalent of two books a month with one bonus, or roughly two books a week. Of the people I follow on Instagram and book groups I’m in on Facebook, some people have already read 50 books this year and have goodreads challenges of 200 books and that is baffling to me. I’ve read 10 books this year and I’m 5 books ahead of schedule for my goodreads goal but suddenly 10 feels like nothing compared to people who’ve read basically a book every single day. But I was surprised that it didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t reading fast enough – it inspired me to make more time to read my books at my own pace! I don’t have the time or energy to read a book every two days – I’m not someone who enjoys reading in the morning or on my lunch break (because I would never want to stop to go back to work!) and whilst I would love to spend my whole evening reading, I also like spending time with my fiancé! So I manage to read for a couple of hours a night before bed and in the past couple of nights I’ve read about 100 pages which is a lot for me! Ironically I’m not enjoying this book as much as the last couple of books I’ve read but it’s somewhat addictive and I can’t figure out how or why. It’s so easy to compare yourself and your progress to other people, whether it’s life goals, careers, holidays or even reading but here is your sign from the universe – you are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment. Reading, in particular, is meant to be a relaxing thing that is done for joy! Take your time to enjoy reading as a fun activity, whether you read 10 pages or 100 – it’s not about numbers. It’s about the way your eyes start to burn a little bit because you’re desperate to just finish one more chapter, it’s about the way you tell all your friends and family about the character drama because you’re so excited about it and the way we feel everything our protagonist feels. I’ve properly fallen back in love with reading and stories over the last couple of years – I love statistics and numbers, I love setting my goodreads goals and reading as many books as I can but it’s not about numbers; I love the stories and the amazing characters and getting lost in the words. Reading isn’t a race – read at your speed! Comparing the amount of books you’ve read is like a squirrel and fish comparing how many trees they climbed – climb your tree however you like! Was that analogy too weird?

Thank you for reading!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Treasured In… January

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

Will I ever stop being baffled by the passing of time? Absolutely not – how is it February next week?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like 2021 hasn’t really start and we’re just living in a strange extenuation of 2020 – most New Years feel fresh and new somehow but this year definitely hasn’t.

But there’s been plenty of new experiences – I’ve nearly finished my first month of work as a full time marketing and communications assistant, we’ve had our first proper snow whilst we’ve been living in Buckinghamshire and my fiancé just turned 25 which feels far too grown up.

I love doing this little series to talk about things I’ve enjoyed this month so here are the things I enjoyed in January 2021!

  • Purchase

I’ve not bought a lot this month because saving for a wedding is a lot but there are two things I bought that I absolutely adore.

I bought myself a label maker from Amazon and I had no need for it, but I have thoroughly enjoyed labelling things. I’ve not used it for anything functional or important yet but one day I will and it’ll be so satisfying. So far my plans are to use it for scrapbooking and in my bullet journal predominantly and I love the aesthetic of it.

The second favourite purchase wasn’t actually for me – as I said, my fiancé turned 25 this month so I bought him birthday presents. I’m someone who likes buying things with function, so I decided that this year I’m doing presents that are ‘something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’. The thing I wanted to share was these jogging bottoms from 2tall.com with a 40 inch inside leg… 40! My boy is 6’7″ – he is a tall bean, so finding him trousers that cover his ankles and his bum is a mission.

  • Recipe

I’m not cooking many new things right now because full time work is exhausting and I don’t have the energy right now, but I did try this slow cooker chicken casserole and it was really good! The fact I could just chuck everything in and leave it for 7-8 hours and it made my house smell amazing while I was at work and that was very enjoyable.

If you have any slow cooker recommendations please send them my way because I’m obsessed with it and it’s perfect now that I’m working full time.

  • YouTube video

I’m slowly but surely getting through my watch later playlist, so here are some of my favourite videos I watched this month.

My Dad Died | The Michalaks (to clarify: not my favourite because Stef’s Dad died, it was just a really good video)

What Is Autism? | DSM-5 ASD Diagnostic Criteria

insecurity mashup 2 – dodie clark (Lauren Aquilina, Orla Gartland and Tessa Violet)

Something we want to tell you! | Amazing Phil and Dan Howell

I have a secret… | Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

  • What I’m watching

My one-track mind finds it difficult to watch anything that isn’t YouTube while I know that I still have videos on my watch later, but my fiancé and I have been watching Avatar: The Legend of Korra and I love it! So far I think I prefer Avatar: The Legend of Aang, but it’s interesting to see how much the story universe has developed. We’re only on season 2 so we’ve still got a fair bit more to watch!

  • Books I’ve read

I’ve started my 2021 reading with a bang so I’m just going to go straight into it!

Worlds Away From You (Charlotte Mednick) – this is a book my friend from uni self-published last year and it was lovely to read! It was a very modern YA book with lots of character traits I empathise with and it felt like a Disney Channel Original movie – thoroughly enjoyed! 4/5

Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds (Gwenda Bond) – I wasn’t sure about reading a book based on the TV show and how it would add to the general story but wow I was blown away. It felt like it properly developed the story universe of Stranger Things and I’d love to see it made into a screen adaptation. I picked this book up in a charity shop for £2 and my fiancé picked up another book in the series in the Works so I’m adding that to be tbr list too! 5/5

A Quiet Kind of Thunder (Sara Barnard) – This book has been on my tbr for so long – someone I follow on my bookstagram account (@sophiesreading, if you’re interested!) was selling her copy for only £3.50 to cover postage, so this is the only book I’ve bought this year (which I’m proud of!). I don’t think I’ve felt such a real world impact from a book before – I loved reading about selective mutism and deafness, I loved how the narrative easily changed from speech, sign language and written words so effortlessly and it made me actually want to learn sign language! It was a lovely story, it was nice and gentle and didn’t break my heart. It was worth the wait – full 5/5.

And I’m currently reading See Through Me (Kevin Brooks) which I’ve had on my unread shelf for literally years and though the concept sounds very scifi and cool, I’m only about 60 pages from the end and nothing’s really happened? The reviews on goodreads are generally average so I don’t have a lot of hope for it, but I’m not the kind who can just stop reading a book so my full review will go on my bookstagram account when I’ve finished it.

Although time feels a bit funny, January has actually been pretty good! I’m still getting used to working 9-5 at home in a pandemic and I’m exhausted but I actually feel really good and like my work more than I thought I would. I don’t have a lot of energy, but I’m getting there – feeling mildly hopeful for this year!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

My 5 Star 2020 Reads!

2021, books

Hello!

The end of year content isn’t over yet! Whilst lots of people are posting achievements, Spotify wrapped, beauty favourites and how far they ran on Strava (tires me out just thinking about it), I thought I’d share all the books I rated 5 stars in 2020!

I read a total of 39 books (I finished warm bodies about 4am on January 1st and Goodreads hadn’t reset yet, so I’m counting it) out of my goal of 12 and there was a huge variety. Some books I didn’t rate at all because I was so vastly indifferent to them, some books that made me stop reading for three months (looking at you Noughts and Crosses series…) and some books that immediately made me want to write my own stories and get excited about creating. Let’s jump right in!

  • The Future for Curious People, Gregory Sherl

I picked this one up from High Peak Bookstore (available on bookshop.org during the pandemic!) which is a massive discount book shop near where I used to go on family holidays. The concept of being able to glimpse into your own potential future with someone and how it could change is so interesting, it would definitely be incredibly tempting but dangerously addictive.

I love storylines with seemingly unrelated characters that all come together at the end and it was all very sweet, as well as being a relatively short easy read! Very cosy.

  • Turtles All The Way Down, John Green

This is the only book this year I managed to read in a day! I had a long train ride to Birmingham and back to my first wedding fair of my engagement and whilst that should have been the highlight of my day (and don’t get me wrong, it was amazing), this book just took my peak interest.

I generally find John Green a little hit and miss and that’s why I put off ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ for so long but there was no way I was going to not finish this in a day. It absolutely gripped me, there was an element of murder mystery and the way that he writes about OCD and mental illness is just beautiful. I don’t know how he writes from the perspective of teenage girls so well but it’s one of the most immersive stories I read in 2020. Absolutely adored it, but perhaps one not to read if you’re a bit funny about germs or hand gel in a pandemic…

  • All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven

Another one about mental health with a duel perspective, but ‘All The Bright Places’ lived up to all the expectations I’d seen about it. It was beautiful and real and heartbreaking in equal measure. It felt quite similar to a John Green story in that respect and sometimes I muddle up this book and ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ in my head. ‘All The Bright Places’ is definitely a read with a very sad ending, but the message of hope throughout is just stunning.

  • Love, Rosie, Cecelia Ahern

I think this is the most cleverly written book I read this year – to tell a story exclusively through written communication, texts, letters and emails, with no external narrative or third person perspective was so clever. I loved the way the story consistently progressed and the character’s got older almost effortlessly. It was a long book but the only way it felt long was how heavy and awkward the paperback was to hold. I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls shortly after I read ‘Love, Rosie’ and I can definitely see that Cecelia Ahern has taken a very similar concept but, I think, made it much more accessible. ‘One Day’ was lovely, but felt a little formal in places. ‘Love, Rosie’ was so wonderful and I really need to watch the film.

  • The Eve Illusion, Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

The ‘Eve of Man’ trilogy (or, will be trilogy) firmly placed itself as my favourite book series ever (sorry ‘Harry Potter’, but JK isn’t that great). I think ‘The Eve Illusion’ was the only book I pre-ordered this year and I was obsessed. The last page has stuck with me more than I can comprehend but I can’t say why without massively spoiling it…

This trilogy has the vibes of being as successful as ‘The Hunger Games’ or maybe even ‘Harry Potter’, I just adore it, I want to be in the movie but I’m 100% the wrong age. This is the book that made me want to create and work on my own novel.

  • On The Other Side, Carrie Hope Fletcher

I’ve tried reading this book twice before and never made it past the same point, I know now that ironically if I’d read one more chapter I’d have been hooked right through to the end.

love how Carrie writes – so whimsical and magical but so raw and real simultaneously. I now want to work my way through her entire back catalogue of novels and I’ve got ‘All That She Can See’ on my list for this year and I’m waiting for the paperback of ‘In The Time We Lost’ to be released.

‘On The Other Side’ is a fantastic interpretation of life after death and gives a wonderful insight into a woman’s life who is almost too perfect – too kind, too talented, too loving, but still I couldn’t stop reading her story. It’s a lovely read, a wonderful cosy tale of family, sacrifice and a little bit of magic.

  • Love at First Like, Hannah Orenstein

I picked up this book in a 3 for £5 deal at The Works thinking it would be the kind of cringey chick lit that I hate, but the story being about social media peaked my marketing interest. But then it wasn’t cringey at all, it wasn’t as completely orientated around lies as I’d thought it would be (bad communication and not being honest really grinds my gears). I love stories and characters that feel real and aren’t beyond the realm of realism and the cast of this story were just wonderful and the ending was so sweet and fun. Made me excited for my own wedding, if I’m honest!

  • Our Child of the Stars, Stephen Cox

The second of the 3 for £5 books (I’ve used this deal from the Works far too many times) and a very different story – an alien ship crash lands in a small American town and a Nurse takes care of the little alien boy who just lost his mum. I know I just said I like realistic stories and characters, but my favourites within that are fantasy/sci-fi stories that are so well integrated they could be real, or a story universe so well established that I feel I could live there.

This tale of finding family, protecting what’s right and taking control of your own power is so much fun and I’m really excited for the sequel which I think it being released this year.

(also the author followed me back on Twitter when I posted my review, so thanks Stephen Cox)

  • If I Stay, Gayle Forman

My only re-read of 2020 because I wanted to read the sequel ‘Where She Went’ but it had been so long since I read the original and boy I love ‘If I Stay’.

Teenage romance just gets me, even though as a 24 year old I have a much more cynical view of ‘love’ and I often think they’re children they don’t know enough about life to really love each other but we’ve all been there, whether it was a first relationship or an imaginary relationship with a boyband (definitely not speaking from experience…).

When tragedy hits teenage romance the supernatural kicks in and the female protagonist I can’t remember the name of (oops?) is essentially a ghost and can hear everything going on around her. It was an incredibly well written take on the impact of tragedy and the persistence of young love. ‘Where She Went’ was also good and I’m pretty sure I ranked it at 4 Stars, but it just didn’t quite hit the same as ‘If I Stay’. That’s another film I need to watch I think!

  • Blame, Jeff Abbot

This is another one from the discount warehouse that I took a chance on because it was discounted. I never thought I was that into murder mystery or crime book but wow it turns out I am. Although in the adult section (not in a naughty way), I’d definitely consider it to be a YA novel as the protagonist is in her first year of college and I think that’s part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much, because I’m only a little bit older than that (let’s not think about how much older please).

Not only a crime novel, but a protagonist with amnesia who can’t remember why she was in a car accident that killed her neighbour’s son – with backlash from her mother who wants her in a mental institution, ‘friends’ who know more than they say and a murderer who wants to stay hidden, the story is an immense revelation of a girl who just wants her memory back. I loved Blame and can’t wait to read the other book from Jeff Abbot that is on my tbr!

  • Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman

I know I said the ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series inadvertently stopped me reading for three months, but I mean the other three books following the first one. I loved ‘Noughts and Crosses’ (hence the 5 star review) but the rest of the series was awful and because of who I am as a person I put too much faith in giving the other three books a chance only to be disappointed by whiny characters that are all melodramatic and annoying and don’t communicate properly.

‘Noughts and Crosses’, though, was an incredibly interesting take on if racism was reversed – if white people were considered the minority and treated unfairly due to their skin colour. The story follows Sephy and Callum as they grow up together, falling in love despite their differences and Sephy’s superior position in society. The ending is beautifully tragic, it made me think so deeply about the systemic racism in our society and the internalised racism that I’ve grown up with in a position of white privilege.  I have a couple of other books about racism that I bought around the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and they’re definitely on my tbr for 2021.

  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson

I thought this would be my last book of the year and I picked it out despite my system (read alphabetically by author’s surname because I hate making decisions and choices) because I’d been struggling so much with reading and needed something I was excited about. And boy o was that the right decision – another crime murder mystery book I didn’t think I’d enjoy but make it YA about an aspiring journalist doing an EPQ and applying for Cambridge University then I get (good) flashbacks to my school days and can get behind someone who’s really enthusiastic about school.

But the murder mystery itself was so clever – I didn’t predict the end until it was happening and the conclusion and bravery of protagonist Pip was exhilarating. I read the last 100 pages on Christmas night because every chapter was just another cliffhanger. I’m trying to keep myself on a book buying ban until I’d read all the ones I’ve got, but ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’ is right up there on the list of books I would like to read immediately.

  • Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion

I really didn’t think I’d finish this in 2020, but 4am on New Years Day before the Goodreads app challenge has reset counts, right?

A friend recommended and leant me her copy of ‘Warm Bodies’ and having seen and enjoyed the film, I was ready for a good zombie story. I remember the internal narrative of protagonist R compared to the characters limited speech and movement being incredibly interesting from a storytelling perspective and it was only enhanced in the book. Knowing the ending meant I could spot his changes and developments more easily, but it still made it so rewarding to see him as a character noticing and being very self-aware.

In some ways it gave me kind of ‘Twilight’ vibes but in a much better way. The characters aren’t very ‘romantic’, per say, but their relationship is sweet. A really good book to tie off the year with, for sure.

If you like reading my thoughts and words on books, I’ve just set up a new book instagram account called @sophiesreading where I’m really enjoying posting and finding new people to follow.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Treasured In… August

2020, books, lifestyle

Hello!

Another month has rolled around and I’m trying really hard not to comment on how fast the month has gone but also, pretty sure it’s still April and summer’s just around the corner?

But alas! August has been an interesting month – I’m definitely getting more stuck in to my dissertation research as the deadline for that looms ever nearer, I’ve been trying some new things with my time management to work with my fluctuating mental health and I had a couple of splurges too so here’s a little roundup of the things I enjoyed in August.


  • purchase

I may or may not have had a sad spending trip to Hobbycraft earlier this month… I needed one last colour embroidery thread for my latest cross stitch project and I found a book on meditative crocheting and I picked myself up some crochet needles last month and I loved the idea that it came with breathing and meditative exercises to follow along with in the book. Perhaps a tad pretentious but I’m excited to give it a go next month!

I also picked up a couple of cross stitch kits that I’m working on intermittently and I just find it so much fun – if you want a new hobby that isn’t particularly skilful but is offline and you get a pretty picture at the end of it, I thoroughly recommend cross stitching!

  • recipe

I’ve been experimenting more with the ‘orange lid’ spicy seasonings in my cupboard this month and whilst I’m the worst at handling spicy food, cooking up a bunch of vegetables, mixing it with some rice and using turmeric, smoked paprika and a little cumin with a bit of garlic puree is so yummy! It’s so simple but makes the meal so much more tasty and I’m trying to acquire new seasonings every time I go to the supermarket – am I brave enough to try chilli flakes? Probably not, but I’m going to try some new recipes from The Green Roasting Tin book this month so maybe I’ll find something new there!

  • song

The only thing my boyfriend and I have been singing at each other is the tune to ‘Savage Love’ by Jason Derulo because we’re late to the tiktok trend… It’s just too catchy!

I’ve also just discovered Kings and Queens by Ava Maria but the chorus is the only bit I like so I’m mostly listening to covers on tiktok… I also ‘discovered’ tiktok this month, I can’t stop.

  • YouTube video

With my boyfriend going back to work and having the house to myself, I have watched a lot  of YouTube this month! Nothing jumped out at me immediately but from scrolling through my history, I picked out my top three.

This video from Carrie Hope Fletcher and Oliver Ormson was very fun and picked out some of my favourite Disney songs.

I’m not a huge  fan of Dodie anymore but this arrangement of two songs was beautiful and the video is very clever and creative.

And this video from Jessica Kellgren-Fozard was very fun and I love the dynamic she has with her wife – they’re both hilarious and adorable together.

I still have over 300 videos left in my watch later, so who knows how long it’ll take me to watch videos that aren’t a couple of months old…

  • books I’ve read

I’ve been reading loads this month so here’s a quick run down (with links to my reviews on Instagram)

I only finished Checkmate last night so a few words – I was so impressed with Noughts and Crosses and the rest of the series has been such a disappointment. The beginning of Checkmate gave me hope because it was set a bit further down the line and I thought it had a different main character but it was just a new character and all the things that annoyed me about Knife Edge annoyed me about Check Mate too.

I’m about to start the fourth book in the series, Double Cross, because I bought the series and the painfully optimistic part of my brain keeps hoping that it will get better, but I don’t have a lot of hope. I definitely won’t be buying the fifth book that came out semi-recently.

  • snack

I have two very contrasting snacks for this month and I’ll start with the boring one first.

Tins of sliced peaches – I don’t know why I had these as a kid, but I recently rediscovered them and keeping them in the fridge on a hot day is glorious and relatively healthy because it’s fruit so I can enjoy it guilt free. If you gave me a normal peach would I like it? I don’t know, I’ve never tried one and I’m not very good at trying new things but tinned peaches? Gimme more!

And the second thing is a small Victoria sponge cake with Harry Potter house themed crests as decoration on the top. My partner and I went on a cake run to Asda because something popped up on Facebook memories and we decided we needed cake to celebrate… and then I ate the whole thing. Then I got another one in our weekly shop.

I’m going to stop myself buying them now but a £4 Hufflepuff themed Victoria sponge has brought me much joy this month!

  • TV/film/streaming thing

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube this month so I wasn’t sure whether I’d have anything to write about, then my boyfriend and I binged the entire of Umbrella Academy season 2 on Netflix in a day and it was glorious. 100% on par with how brilliant the first season, amazing character development, same incredible sense of humour and generally so much fun and such a huge twist of an ending! Already eagerly anticipating season 3.

  • wedding planning update

It’s mostly been a month of waiting on the wedding front – we sent an inquiry to the venue we like to discuss the quote we were given but I haven’t heard back. Though I did spend an afternoon reading about how the heck a registrar works and how to arrange a civil ceremony so I’m all prepared to ‘give notice’ within 12 months of our wedding date and then just waiting for the venue to confirm before I ‘book’ (if that’s the right word?) for the registrar to perform the ceremony. It all feels a little more real now!


I’m sure September will absolutely fly by but with a couple of trips, my birthday and drawing closer to the end of my masters it’s looking to be an exciting month.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

the best books I’ve read this year (so far)

2020, books

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t written a book blog post in ages and I’m feeling incredibly invested in what I’m reading at the moment so I thought I’d channel that energy here! That might be the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written.

I feel like I may have said this a million times before but some brief context; I was the kid that would sneak out of bed and stay up reading, fell out of love with it as I had to study books I didn’t like and decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to get back into it with the help of reading challenges on the ‘goodreads‘ app – made it to 9 of last year’s target of 12 and as I didn’t meet the target I set the same one-a-month target for 2020.

I’ve currently read 34 books.

So I thought I’d write a shortlist of those 34 books of the ones I’ve absolutely adored! I write mini reviews on my Instagram if you want to see what I’m reading and my ongoing thoughts but I thought I’d collate my favourites for anyone who’s in a reading rut and wants some inspiration, wants to try something new or just fancies reading something book-ish!

Mild disclaimer: I will link to all these books on Amazon however if you have a local independent bookstore or retailer I highly support seeing if they have it or ordering through them, especially in the current covid economic climate!


I love ‘fantasy realism’ as a genre, where there’s an element of fantasy but it’s so well integrated into ‘normal’ human life that it almost doesn’t feel like fantasy. So when there’s a service where someone can see their future with a person, generally a romantic relationship, the gossip, reality TV ‘realness’ of it all is just the recipe for the perfect book.

Interesting and realistic characters are something that really grabs me and is a huge factor as to why I rated all of these books at 5 stars, but the concept in The Future for Curious People is so much fun and the ending is wonderful.

I asked for this book for Christmas the year it came out and it’s taken me two years to read it. I decided to read it on a long train journey to Birmingham to meet my mum to go to a wedding fair and whilst I was very excited about the wedding fair, boy o boy all I wanted to do was get back to the book. The whole mystery, teenage drama aspect mixed with a painfully relatable depiction of mental health (and helped me understand symptoms I don’t suffer with) meant I finished this book in one day – absolutely devoured the first half on the way there and nearly finished it on the way back; I had to drive home and finish the last 60 pages before I picked up my boyfriend from work because I was so absorbed.

John Green books are a bit hit and miss for me – I loved The Fault In Our Stars like every other 20-something (though I’ve never watched the film because I don’t think it’ll be as good) but I never massively enjoyed his other books. The style is a little pretentious – all of his characters are into niche poetry and philosophy and take themselves a little bit too seriously, but I think once I accepted that it’s just how John Green characters are and I loved so many other aspects of this book more than those parts annoyed me. I still gave it 5 stars.

I avoided buying this for ages because it was everywhere and everyone was reading it and I’m that kind of hipster. But inevitably I picked it up and it was Worth! The! Hype!

Another story about mental health and the ending really gets you but the two differing perspectives on similar mental illnesses and how the characters are so opposite but so puzzle piece perfect is just magical and the kind of character writing I can only aspire to.

This book actually has a John Green feel in it’s somewhat self-important characters but it was wonderful and I devoured it in just a couple of days. Definitely worth the hype!

  • Love, Rosie (Cecelia Ahern) (originally ‘Where Rainbows End’)

I picked up the film edition of this book mostly because of Lily Collins and Sam Claflin on the cover but avoided reading it because wow it is a chunky read. But surprisingly quick to get through once you realise it’s all told in letters – from childhood to old age the main character Rosie progresses through life, love and loss with letters, emails, texts, passing notes and other forms of communication that I’ve forgotten about but it’s such an interesting narrative that never explicitly says ‘2 years later’ or ‘three months later’ but as a reader, you know that time has passed. It’s just brilliant.

I’m not sure how the original title of ‘Where Rainbows End’ really suits the book, maybe because I’ve only ever known it as ‘Love, Rosie’ I couldn’t see the connection but that is the original novel’s title so if you are struggling to find it, check ‘Where Rainbow’s End’!

I fully intended for this to be one of the only books I bought this year as a new release… then I hit my goodreads goal in three months and needed some more books to read… Regardless, I’ve been buzzing about this sequel ever since I read ‘Eve of Man‘ in approximately two days last year. I love the concept, I love the characters, I love the world building and how painfully believable a world that derelict is and the sequel didn’t disappoint.

If I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t think it was as good as the original, but not in a bad way – I still adored it – I just felt that it was a bit like ‘The Two Towers’ in Lord of the Rings; it’s there to move the story along in a trilogy so it has to be there but it’s not the most exciting part.

Eve gets a little bit bratty, everyone gets a little bit melodramatic, I loved the inclusion of the third perspective in the different chapters and the twist at the end was so obvious I saw it coming from a mile away but still made me double take for a second (I thought she might be a time lord, if you’ve read it, you know!). Eagerly anticipating the last novel in the trilogy!

I really rated the Fletcher writers this year! This is Carrie’s first fiction novel and having struggled to read it twice before and realising this time that if I’d have read just one more chapter I’d have been hooked till the end always makes me laugh.

Another wonderful version of fantastical realism that takes you by surprise a little bit (lifting written words from a birds wings and putting them in a notebook did make me question the writing just a little bit until I remembered… fantasy). The love story that just wasn’t meant to be, I thought the characters were going to be much more ‘idyllic’ like early Disney Princess-esque where everyone is swept off their feet and everything’s too perfect but it wasn’t like that at all. It was lovely and as the story moves more into the modern day I could feel my heart being given in pieces to each character.

I can’t wait to read more of Carrie’s novels this year – I read When The Curtain Falls last year and I think I’ve got All That She Can See on my shelf to read at some point!

This book I picked up dirt cheap in a 3 for £5 sale at The Works – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted it because the whole premise of the book is based on a massive lie and I hate when characters make things difficult for themselves by not communicating openly. But it didn’t actually annoy me at all – there was a couple of really cringey moments but all round it was a sweet, heart warming book about the spontaneity of social media, the importance of family and not taking those you meet at face value.

Another one in the sale from the Works but much more sci-fi/fantasy – a meteor crash in a small town in the US (obviously, it could only be the US!) disguises an alien spaceship landing and two unidentified creatures are saved from the wreck. Another heartwarming story about family beyond blood relations and accepting people for all their quirks. Looking forward to the sequel!

One of my newer books and probably my first adult crime novel though it had very YA vibes. A 19 year old girl tries to navigate life as a college drop-out refusing to live with her mother at home following a car accident in which her friend died and she survived, but with a severe case of amnesia she remembers nothing from before she started high school, including her dad’s death. With many twists and turns and wondering if you can trust the narrative of the protagonist herself, so many things unfold about the true reason behind the crash and the real reason David died.

Genuinely amazing story – I’ve never read a book where I felt like I couldn’t quite trust the person telling the story and it was so interesting! I have another book by Jeff Abbott on my shelf but it’s the second in the series so I’m going to buy the prequel when I’ve read through all the other books on my shelf.

A book that was huge when I was in school but I read so slowly that I never got round to it. Seeing it recommended over and over again in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, when I saw the whole series on offer in the Works (it’s such a good place for books!) I knew I had to pick it up.

Learning about the privilege of my race through fiction was always going to be the way to help me best understand – I’ve never been able to apply so much of what I’m reading to real life and feel like I’m really learning from it. It was so eye opening and heartbreaking in equal measure and I can’t wait to read the other books I picked up to continue my education on racial inequality.

Couldn’t recommend this book more highly if you find non-fiction difficult to get into but want to educate yourself – amazing characters, so eye opening, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.


Did I plan for there to be 10 books in my highlight of 2020 so far? Absolutely not but I do find it incredibly satisfying.

I’m currently reading the third book in the Noughts and Crosses series ‘Checkmate’ by Malorie Blackman so if you want to see my thoughts on that when I finish it hop on over to my Instagram!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Treasured In… July

2020, books, fashion, lifestyle, wedding

Hello!

Another month has passed, though I’m not entirely sure how because I’m pretty sure it was May yesterday but time has passed me by! More stuff has happened, I’ve bought things, reads things, watched things and I’m going to share it all!

Let’s jump right in, because otherwise another month will come and go without me noticing!


purchase:

Having had a couple of ‘no spend’ months, this isn’t a category I’ve included so far but I actually let myself by some things this month so I wanted to share. I wrote a whole blog post about the books I bought/acquired this month – I’d run out of physical books I hadn’t read in our house since we moved last year so I definitely made up for it at the beginning of the month. I’ve now had to stop letting myself by books because I’m never going to read them all at this rate!

Then there’s two items of clothing that I adore this month – what I’m calling my Explorer Shorts from Primark, they’re a khaki green stretchy denim short that give me Lara Croft vibes but they’re elasticated; big fan!

And then I picked up a lovely navy cardigan from M&Co in the sale that is super cosy, I’m almost disappointed when it’s really warm because I can’t wear it.

blog post:

Someone I went to school with shared this article about Lockdown Weight Gain and I found it really interesting reading about the emotional impact of weight gain, particularly in a pandemic that is encouraging discussion about the impact of lockdown on mental health (though I’m not sure how much is being done?).

recipe:

I’m not big on trying new things at the moment – eating food that I’m familiar with and recipes I already know how to do has been the only cooking I’ve really done, but last week I made brownies for the first time in years and it was so good.

I definitely undercooked it, but it means I’ve got a super gooey fudgey brownie so I wasn’t gutted about it. Whilst putting a whole pound of brown sugar into a bowl was something that made me consider not making brownie anymore, it’s really good and the recipe I used was the one my mum gave me when I moved to uni so I can’t link it but I could make a blog post about it if there’s interest?

music:

I’m about two months behind on watching my YouTube subscriptions, but I watched Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones from McFly, Olly Murrs, Niall Horan and James Arthur covering Shine a Light, an older McFly song, and I was blown away by how amazing the cover was. I’m a pretty big McFly fan, hence why I’m subscribed to Tom’s YouTube channel, but I’ve never paid too much attention to the other three artists, though I know most of their ‘super popular’ songs. I’m obsessed with Niall’s voice and I need to listen to his most recent album.

Seeing how musicians are adapting to not being able to continue working as usual and making the most of remotely collaborating is very exciting.

YouTube video:

As I mentioned, I’m about two months behind on watching YouTube videos but my favourite video this month was from Mykie / Glam and Gore doing Halloween costume hacks from a 5 minute craft video considering my boyfriend is currently going through a phase of watching 5 minute crafts in secret (to the degree that he was watching them after I’d fallen asleep one night and I woke up at 6am to strange voices in our bedroom because he’d fallen asleep with them on). Either way! The video Mykie made was really fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

books I’ve read:

Where She Went (Gayle Forman) – after re-reading ‘if I stay’, ‘where she went’ was a pleasant enough unnecessary sequel. The first half was a whiney young man who couldn’t communicate his feelings and had an unhealthy relationship with medication and substances, then it actually starts to explore the relationship between the two main characters from the first book and the heart and poetic nature of the narrative returned.

The Memory Cage (Ruth Eatham) – I downloaded this book for free from Amazon with Prime Reading on my Kindle because I ran out of physical books and it was definitely meant for a more middle grade audience, but it was a nice heartfelt story about adoption, family and loss. I actually really enjoyed reading on my kindle so I’m definitely going to buy more books on there in the future.

Masha Regina (Vadim Leventhal) – I picked up this book for 50p and I was really excited about getting such a bargain, but it turned out to be 50p for a reason. There just wasn’t much of a story at all. I wrote a full review on instagram, but I wouldn’t recommend – the review is potentially more entertaining than the book.

Currently reading: Blame (Jeff Abbott) – I don’t often read crime and whilst this book was in the grown up fiction second, it feels very YA to me because it’s about a girl in college and I think that’s part of the reason I’m enjoying it more than I expected. When you’re reading a book you expect to be able to trust everything the protagonist experiences to be true, but the more that I read the more I’m not sure who is trustworthy and it’s really interesting. Keep an eye on my instagram for a full review when I finish it!

snack:

When visiting my boyfriend’s family earlier this month, we went to Tescos for a meal deal and spotted these ‘French style’ Madeleine cakes and whilst we were in Paris last year, we became obsessed with these cakes called ‘Quatre Quart’ (or something) and we think we’ve found it! We think it’s the same cake! So we’ve eaten a disproportionate amount of them (they’re so good).

tv / film / streaming / something to watch:

As with eating food I already know how to cook, I’m not really in the mood for watching anything new and not knowing how it’s going to play with my emoTIoNs but whilst we were on a little holiday at the beginning of the month we watched quite a bit of Escape to the Country and now I’m thinking about property a lot and I want to watch more trashy daytime TV.

wedding planning update:

We viewed a venue! The only placed we’ve viewed and I’m obsessed, it’s beautiful, it’s got everything we want, amazing accommodation and we could really see ourselves getting married there. The quote we received after the viewing was much higher than we thought it would be but for the venue that we love so much, we think we’re going to do some negotiations and work more to pay for it. There’s actually some wedding progress! Over two years in advance maybe a little premature but there’s still actual progress!


July has been mad and August is set to be much quieter, but who knows at this point!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

49 new books | a little book inspiration

2020, books

Hello!

Over this last week I’ve picked up a bag of books from my mum’s house, bought a new haul of books from my favourite indie bookstore High Peak in Derbyshire and picked up a few more new books in charity shops and on my holiday… So I have a big haul of new books!

For context, when I moved into our little one bed house last year, I brought a selection of the books I was most excited to read thinking it would last me a while – my goal was to read one book a year and at that rate I wouldn’t be done till 2022 ish. Then I read four books a month and quickly ran out of books I hadn’t read in the house!

Before I moved out of my mum’s house, I packed all my books into carrier bags so I could pick up one at a time when I needed more to read. It just happened to time with going on holiday and visiting my favourite place.

So I thought what I’d do today is list all the unread books I now have on my shelves – if you have a similar taste to me (have a look at my goodreads to get a feel for what I like!) and you’re feeling a bit stuck with what to read, I’m sure something on this list will grab you!

There’s a mix of fiction – YA, a couple of middle grade, a couple of ‘grown up’ books with genres from fantasy, chick lit, coming of age and crime – a few non-fiction and a couple of reference books so a real mish mash! Obviously I’ve not read any of these yet so if they’re rubbish, I can only apologise in advance!

From High Peak book store:

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
  2. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  3. See Through Me – Kevin Brooks
  4. In At The Deep End – Kate Davies
  5. The City Always Wins – Omar Robert Hamilton
  6. Rosie Coloured Glasses – Brianna Wolfson
  7. Raising Fire – James Bennett
  8. Tarnished City – Vic James (sequel to Gilded Cage)
  9. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  10. The Inaugural Meeting of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club – Sophie Green
  11. Ace of Spiders – Stefan Mohamed (sequel to Bitter Sixteen)
  12. Blame – Jeff Abbott
  13. I Know You – Annabel Kantaria
  14. Goldilocks and the Water Bears – Louisa Preston
  15. The Princess and the Suffragette – Holly Webb
  16. The Wellbeing Journal – in aid of Mind
  17. Computer Coding for Kids – Carol Vorderman
  18. Masha Regina – Vadim Levental
  19. Scrabble Dictionary

WHSmith:

20. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
21. A Nearly Normal Family – M. T. Edvardsson

Home Haul:

22. Die For Me – Amy Plum
23. Jacoby’s Game – Alison Prince
24. All That She Can See – Carrie Hope Fletcher
25. The Oversight – Charlie Fletcher
26. Twilight Robbery – Frances Hardinge
27. The Last Minute – Jeff Abbott
28. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
29. Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo
30. Mirrorscape – Mike Wilks
31. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
32. The Wave Runners – Kai Meyer
33. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher
34. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher
35. Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
36. The Dragon’s Eye – Dugald A. Steer
37. The Time of the Reaper – Andrew Butcher
38. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
39. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
40. Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse (Book 3) – Rick Riordan (Book 1 – The Lightning Thief / Book 2 – Sea of Monsters)
41. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labrynth (Book 4) – Rick Riordan

Charity shop finds:

42. Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds – Gwenda Bond
43. Container Gardens: Practical advice on choosing, planting and caring for container plants – Aura Garden Guides
44. Year In Your Garden – Geoff Hamilton

Oops I fell into The Works and the Set Was Only £8:

45. Noughts + Crosses – Malorie Blackman
46. Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman
47. Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
48. Double Cross – Malorie Blackman
49. The Green Roasting Tin – Rukmini Iyer (£7 when it’s RRP is £16.99… I couldn’t help it but I can’t find it on The Work’s website, but it’s only £9 on Amazon!)

Although I’ve linked predominantly to mainstream sites like Waterstones, Amazon and W.H.Smith, if you can support your local independent bookstores please do because they’re precious places, often with wonderful hardworking staff and beautiful decor and need all the support they can get!

If a name, author and link doesn’t grab you (which I totally understand, I just thought this blog post would be long enough without adding descriptions of all the books!), I post a review of everything I read on my Instagram so follow the link below if you want to hear my thoughts on what I’ve read so far this year!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Treasured In… June

2020, books, film

Hello!

I was so excited about June because it started on a Monday and now it’s… gone? I feel like there’s only so many posts I can count how many full months of lockdown we’ve had but June marks three complete months (plus a couple of weeks) under lockdown restrictions. It just feels so mad to think about – especially having reviewed my yearly goals and thinking about how that version of me had absolutely no idea what was coming… It gets a bit much to think about sometimes!

Regardless, the month is drawing to a close to here are the things I’ve been loving this month.


blog post:

With the rapid changes in the weather, lockdown effecting my mental health and trying to make some progress on my masters dissertation, making the effort to find new blogs to read and engage with wasn’t a priority.

I was super excited to read a post from Hannah Gale announcing her second pregnancy, but it wasn’t long after that she decided to step back from the internet and her Instagram has been closed, her blog deactivated and nothing left behind. I’m genuinely gutted to see such a wonderfully genuine creator feel bullied off their platform and hope that Hannah finds happiness in whatever comes next for her.

recipe:

With the weather getting hotter and inclination to put any effort into cooking getting less and less, my partner and I are doing everything we can to cook good food in as little time as possible.

We intended to make a bruschetta inspired pasta bake with plum tomatoes, red onion, pesto, garlic and cheese but opened our jar of pesto to see… it wasn’t okay. So instead we mixed it all together with half a tub of garlic and herb cream cheese and a generous handful of grated cheddar and mozzarella and accidentally created the most amazing pasta bake? 

The cream cheese mixed with the grated cheese made the most lovely sauce, the cream cheese mixed with the tomatoes to give it an almost passata taste, it had vegetables in it, we didn’t need to ‘bake’ it like a normal pasta bake, we just served it up with some garlic bread and it was glorious. It’s now a weekly staple and I’m hungry just thinking about it!

online course:

With working on an essay for uni, although I really wanted to start learning how to use a software called Unity to make vide games, I just didn’t have the brain space to read academic literature for an essay as well as try to teach myself complicated game mechanics. I managed to watch a few beginner videos on the Unity YouTube page but no major progress here this month.

song:

Not a new song as much as a new playlist – my boyfriend and I are driving up to see my family at the beginning of July and then driving on for a ‘social bubble’ getaway with my dad so we made our perfect road trip playlist.

We’re saving the first full listen for the journey in July but I am pumped about it, not only because it’s all our favourite tunes but because I miss driving so much and cannot wait for a road trip.

youtube video:

My boyfriend and I have very different tastes in YouTube and where in ‘normal’ life he works away about half the week, I normally keep quite on top of my ‘watch later’ playlist. But he’s been home for 15 weeks and my playlist is up to over 350 videos from the best part of two months ago, so I’m not up to date at all.

However this video from RawBeautyKristi announcing her pregnancy after 15 years of trying was absolutely heartwarming and I’m welling up just thinking about it – Kristi’s one of those creators that I’ve known about but haven’t subscribed to but I watched this and couldn’t not. So excited to see her journey through this progress and 100% recommend the video if you need to see some pure happiness or maybe have a little cry.

loved this acoustic version of my favourite song from All Time Low’s newest album Wake Up Sunshine – I suppose this technically counts as music but it’s on YouTube not Spotify so here it is.

And a little bit of self promo – June 23rd marks one year since I shaved my head and I’ve been filming a One Second Everyday video which I’ve now shared! I’ve been planning this video for a while and I’m really pleased with how it came out so if you’ve got 5 minutes and want to give it a watch, I’d really appreciate it!

books:

I genuinely thought June might be the month where I only read one book but now I’m on my fourth book so back on track!

Carry On (Rainbow Rowell) – this book is essentially the fanfiction/fake Harry Potter story described in ‘Fangirl’ (my favourite book of all time) but I was really disappointed in it. The first 200 pages were so slow that I actively avoided reading it, then the plot started to get good and it was really high paced and interested, then a romance plot came out of nowhere and felt really out of character for the characters as they’d been throughout the rest of the book. The ending felt really inconclusive with so many loose ends not tied up and I just felt really dissatisfied finishing it. It’s one for the donate pile unfortunately!

The Man Who Didn’t Call (Rosie Walsh) – I was pleasantly surprised by this book – I picked up 3 for £5 in The Works the week before lockdown hit and I thought it would be a light bit of chick lit to break up the high fantasy and sci-fi books I have. I thought it would be all about some asshole man and girl power or it would be a mystery where he was chronically ill or had a family and kids but wow the twist was one I did not see coming and it was just lovely. It had a very David Nicholls ‘One Day’ feel in it’s English romance style and I genuinely enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.

Love At First Like (Hannah Orenstein) – book 2 in the 3 for £5 and another one that I thought would be super cringey chick lit about someone who cares about social media and winds herself up in lies and breaking peoples hearts. It wasn’t anywhere near as cringey as I thought it would be, it was so much more heartfelt and the characters felt so real. The ending was the sweetest and it was so interesting to read a book so up to date on social media, interesting to think about re-reading it in a few years and whether it will feel so modern then!

Currently reading: Our Child of the Stars (Stephen Cox) – and the trilogy of 3 for £5 comes to it’s conclusion! Again one that I didn’t expect at all – I thought it would be about a couple who couldn’t have kids adopting a little boy and navigating life as a new family of three, but wow I miss the quotes on the back that described it as a sci-fi book. There’s aliens, there’s secrets, there’s conspiracies, but it has the heart and soul of family too – I’m about 70% through and hope to finish it before the end of the month so keep an eye on my Instagram for a full review!

snack:

I’ve really been trying not to snack as much at the moment to the degree that we don’t really have that much in the house!

I had a craving for microwave smores (two chocolate digestives with a marshmallow in the middle in the microwave for 10 seconds, it’s glorious) but then I needed comfort food and the digestives and marshmallows were finished.

In less ‘comfort’ food and more ‘trying to be healthy’ I bought a melon mix from Asda on one of our weekly shops and that was so nice! I want to try buying a honeydew melon and preparing it myself but so far it’s got as far as buying a melon then ignoring it in the fridge for a week and reluctantly throwing it away because I feel guilty I’ve wasted it. I’ll let you know if I make any melon progress in July!

tv/film/streaming thing:

Other than nearly finishing Kim Possible on Disney+, the only other thing I’ve watched this month is the live action Dora the Explorer movie and much like all the books I read – I was so surprised by it.

I thought it might be trying to make Dora a ‘grown up’ character and take itself to seriously but the film opens with a take on recreating the title sequence from the kids TV show and the whole thing is like a massive meta joke and it was actually really good? I’ve kind of not been able to stop thinking about it – it was super fun, surprisingly funny and Boots the Monkey was the best character.

wedding planning update:

I emailed the venue! The venue got back to me and they’re reopening in July so we’re just trying to arrange a time to go and visit to see it and then potentially booking it, which feels mad to be doing over two years in advance and it makes me feel a bit nervous that suddenly it’s all very real, but also really exciting!


This turned out to be longer than I expected but a post full of things I’ve enjoyed this month is a pretty good one to accidentally ramble about!

July is looking like it’s going to be much busier – my boyfriend is going back to work, restrictions are easing in the UK and personally I’m scared of a second wave, but trying to take each day as it comes and get used to live going back to ‘normal’ a bit more.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

2020 Goals – Mid Year Check In

2020, books, career, goals, student

Hello!

I’m big on goal setting – ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ / Yearly goals, monthly mini goals blog posts, weekly and daily to do lists are just goals of what I want to achieve in the short term – I like pushing myself to make progress! Does it always work? No, but at least I’m trying!

In my 2020 Goals post I never could have guessed that six months into the year I’d have spent more time isolated in my own house than out in ‘the real world’ but luckily my goals are adaptable and hopefully as the year goes on I’ll be able to make progress.

In a very stereotypically ‘Sophie’ way, I have two sides to my goals – the first side where I have three categories – Professional, Personal and Home – each with three goals, and the other side that’s more ‘bucket list’ style just a list of 9 things I’d like to do this year.  So let’s jump right in!

PROFESSIONAL:

  • Finish my masters at Oxford Brookes – in my original post I said “I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters” because it was back in the happy days when we could give people hugs. I was given the option to postpone starting my dissertation unit and pick it up again in September to finish in May next year, but my media project doesn’t require any of the facilities at uni so I’m muddling through at home.
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October – this deadline was based on finishing my dissertation in September and now that my deadline has been pushed back to the end of October, I’m now aiming for November if not the end of the year. I’m very nervous about getting a job and with how unexpected 2020 has shaped up to be so far, I don’t want to put any additional pressure on myself.
  • Learn website design – I’ve done a couple of short coding courses but whilst I’m now doing a completely self taught dissertation with not a whole lot of brain capacity, so I’ve mentally parked this for after diss, then I’ll start working on making my site look better!

PERSONAL:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save – with pushing back getting full time work and a literal pandemic, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to start this any time soon. But I have been working on spending less in my current account and making my money last longer so I guess, inadvertently, it’s kind of related?
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography – at the beginning of lockdown I finished my first roll of film and haven’t been able to go anywhere to get it developed so I don’t know if it’s any good… But I love my film camera and cannot wait to use it more when life gets back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is).
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week – when my boyfriend worked away a lot, I made an effort to eat veggie when he wasn’t home. Now that we’ve been together for over 14 weeks, slowly we’ve been cutting down how much meat we eat mostly from a cost perspective, but I’ve now got him to a point where he prefers quesadillas without meat so progress is being made!

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please) – that’s the plan!
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon – yeah, nah – we had great plans to go on a Spanish beach holiday which have now been halted, Centre Parcs probably won’t happen this year and MCM ComicCon has been cancelled until 2021… so no travelling this year.
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account – as with the job and the savings goals, I think this is unlikely, but in hindsight I think it was quite unrealistic amount anyway. But when I set these goals we hadn’t decided a wedding date so now I’m definitely thinking about saving for a wedding more than saving for a house.

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books – smashed it, currently reading book 26 and absolutely adoring it!
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November) – first three writing challenges were particularly successful, I’m excited about July’s challenge and I’ve actually been working on my old notes for redrafting the book I started 8 years ago so maybe I’ll actually have a full draft to work with by the end of the year!
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan – so far I haven’t really had anything to add, other than the wedding and ‘kids?’ with a big question mark, it’s hard to make career goals when you have absolutely no idea what you really want to do with your life…
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go – amongst a three month tooth infection and getting my anti-depressants moved to a local pharmacy, I actually did both of these! I thought the dentist was meant to be a 6-monthly thing but I was told to wait a year so feeling very grown up about this goal!
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal – the word ‘pandemic’ is feeling repetitive now, but after gaining a significant amount of weight and being closer to my ‘heaviest weight’ than my end of year goal, it’s really disheartening. But I’m really trying to work on my diet, I’m going to pick up Couch to 5K again next month and my boyfriend has decided he wants to tone up to cosplay Spider-Man next year so I might be able to convince him to do some workouts together!
  • Get another tattoo! – financially, I don’t think this is going to be an option this year, but I know what I want if I do get one!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts – this is something I would generally do on my commute to uni, now that I don’t have a commute to uni I actually prefer the quiet of my own home. But who knows how this might change as the year goes on.
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy – tick tick tick!
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket – I did this! The first stage is done, but as I don’t have anywhere in this house where I can lay out the blanket properly flat because 1) my house is small 2) the blanket is big, I’ve decided that I’ll work on it again when I am somewhere that I can actually lay it out and see it in it’s full glory!

So overall, I think most of my goals are either on track or have been pushed back slightly by the pandemic, but I feel like I set reasonable and achievable goals that I’m now freshly invigorated to keep working on them!  (or just curl up back in bed and carry on reading…)

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram