every book I read in 2021

2022, books

Hello!

There’s every chance this blog post could get very long very quickly so I’ll keep it as brief as I can – here is a rundown of every book I finished in 2021, my star rating and a few words (though let’s be real, I’ll probably get carried away).

Just to give you an idea if you might be interested in similar books to me, here is the data on the moods of books I read in 2021, the pace and the genres, all in beautifully colour coded graphs courtesy of StoryGraph (the fantastic alternative to GoodReads that isn’t owned by Amazon).

(add me here)

Without further ado – my 2021 reads:

  1. Worlds Away From You (Charlotte Mednick) – 4 stars
    A self published novel by a friend actually, but a lovely gentle YA romance to start the year with and a very proud moment to see a friend publish an actual book!
  2. Suspicious Minds: Stranger Things Novel #1 (Gwenda Bond) – 5 stars
    I picked this book up almost exclusively because it was £2 in a charity shop but boy oh boy if you’re a fan of Stranger Things, this is a fantastic expansion of the universe which I’ve thought about rereading at least once a month since I finished it in January.
  3. A Quiet Kind of Thunder (Sara Barnard) – 5 stars
    Been on my tbr for a long time, I was very intrigued to read a story about a girl with selective mutism and a deaf boy and I’ve not been so moved by fiction in a very long time. I really need to learn sign language because the power of communication is just huge.
  4. See Through Me (Kevin Brooks) – 1 star
    Really disappointing – a massively out-there, sci-fi concept that doesn’t come to anything – there was no story, no plot, nothing happened and it was a slog to read.
  5. The Time of the Reaper (Andrew Butcher) – 3 stars
    A book about a pandemic during my country’s third national lockdown? Not great timing. But also below average storytelling about a group of very bland teenagers in an apocalyptic pandemic. This one quickly went in the charity shop pile.
  6. The Selection #1 (Kiera Cass) – 4 stars
    A ‘blind date with a book’ gift my sibling got me for Christmas that I wasn’t sure about – Royal romances have never really appealed to me before but wow I dove in head first. Somehow I didn’t love the characters but I immediately ordered the box set simultaneously? The concept and the male protagonists were so interesting, I will probably reread the first three books in this series at some point in 2022.
  7. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn with David Levithan) – 5 stars
    I really loved this book but it’s been overshadowed in my memory as ‘the book I read whilst I waited for my The Selection box set to arrive’. I loved how whistfully Nick and Norah’s story was told over one night and I still really need to watch the film because the source material had a lot of potential.
  8. The Elite – Selection #2 (Kiera Cass) – 4 stars
    Just obsessed with this series. Protagonist America Singer (yes, that’s actually what the main character is called and yes, she’s a musician… you can practically hear me rolling my eyes) becomes more bearable in this one and there’s much more of a sense of purpose and community. Adored it.
  9. The One – Selection #3 (Kiera Cass) – 5 stars
    And the conclusion? Wow, just top notch. America and Maxon’s story is emotionally and dramatically told and I think it was at this point that I was describing the series as ‘reality TV in a book’ – it’s trashy in the best way and I adored it. Now I desperately want to reread it.
  10. The Heir – Selection #4 (Kiera Cass) – 2 stars
    The duology that follows was much more disappointing – America and Maxon’s daughter (who’s name I can’t even remember) is significantly less interesting. Plus the characterisation of King Maxon and Queen America all grown up is nothing like who they were described to be in the original trilogy. I think 2 stars is generous to be honest.
  11. The Crown – Selection #5 (Kiera Cass) – 3 stars
    Although I have no recollection as to why, apparently the second part of this storyline picked up and earned an extra star. I remember the climax being surprisingly refreshing but then rushing into a very abrupt ending. If the box set didn’t look so pretty together I would absolutely only keep the first three.
  12. In At The Deep End (Kate Davies) – 3 stars
    After falling so deeply in love with The Selection, anything I read afterwards was going to struggle, but In At The Deep End was an interesting saphic story about someone just figuring out their relationship and seeing emotional abuse from the inside. However it was quite slow paced and felt a bit repetitive towards the end.
  13. It’s Now or Never (Carole Matthews) – 4 stars
    A really lovely contemporary story about twins approaching 40 deciding to do something about their lives. A little strange in that it was told from three narrative perspectives – one told in first person, the other two in third – and it was a bit annoying to follow. But otherwise, I’m excited to read more from Carole Matthews.
  14. Ketchup Clouds (Annabel Pitcher) – 3.5 stars
    This book I picked up in a charity shop because it had the most beautiful pattern sprayed on the edges. The story itself had potential, but the protagonist was written quite inconsistently and I can’t remember the main event of the book, so not that memorable in hindsight.
  15. Lore (Alexandra Bracken) – 4 stars
    Adored this one – any story about Greek mythology I’m all over. My only slight thing with this one is that there are a lot of names from the mythology that the reader is just expected to know, especially when some characters are referred to by many titles, so it got a little confusing, but I can’t wait to reread this one with more clarity.
  16. A Nearly Normal Family (M. T. Edvardsson) – 2.75 stars
    Potentially my most disappointing read of the year – really slow paced, really anticlimactic and really repetitive where basically the same story is told from three perspectives. The father character was an absolute wet wipe, the daughter was actually really interesting but her segment was really short and the mother didn’t really have a character, it was like she was just a vessel to conclude the plot. Very odd.
  17. Flawed (Cecelia Ahern) – 2 stars
    I don’t know how to describe this book because I hated the protagonist – I thought she was whiny and entitled and painfully irritating, but I somehow became so attached to the book that I immediately ordered the sequel and deliberately chose a short book to read in the interim so I could start reading it quickly. Still haven’t figured that one out.
  18. The Mayflower Project: Remnants #1 (Katherine Applegate) – 1 star
    One of those books that I kept from my childhood because it sounded interesting, but actually it was awfully written, the characters were so weird and apparently it’s one of those series that has about a million books, but they’re out of print and really hard to find. Not that I think I’m missing much.
  19. Perfect – Flawed #2 (Cecelia Ahern) – 3.5 stars
    The sequel to Flawed picked up a bit judging by my rating, but I really have very little recollection of what happened other than the dystopian ‘Hunger Games’ revolution thing. Mixed reviews for Cecelia Ahern.
  20. Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie) – 3 stars
    I felt weird rating this one because it’s such a classic, but it was further from the Disney film than I thought it would be, but interesting none the less to read the source material.
  21. Adrenaline – Sam Capra #1 (Jeff Abbott) – 3.5 stars
    I’ve had the sequel to this book for years so was glad to buy the prequel and actually get to reading it in 2021! Sam Capra as a character was superbly written and wonderfully emotional and I was fascinated to read the kind of mindless-action-adventure story that my mum loves watching in films and I found it far more engaging!
  22. The Last Minute – Sam Capra #2 (Jeff Abbott) – 4 stars
    I don’t remember enough about this series to differentiate the first and second book, but I remember the second one taking me ages to read and I have no recollection as to why I ranked it higher. My greatest apologies.
  23. The 39 Steps (John Buchan) – 1.25 stars
    A classic I picked up because my dad and I watched a film adaptation once. Was incredibly difficult to read, I could barely keep track of what was happening and I had absolutely zero emotional connection to any of the characters and consequently couldn’t have cared less.
  24. The Shelf (Helly Acton) – 4.5 stars
    At this point, I really needed something to pick me up get me excited about reading again and ‘The Shelf’ was exactly the one – the same kind of ‘reality TV’ easy viewing as The Selection but in a contemporary rather than a dystopian style. I adored it, I devoured it, it was so much fun and I loved it so much – feel good, girl power sassiness!
  25. The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow (Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch) – 2 stars
    My first ever audiobook… and I kind of hated it. The narrator of the Texan character was incredibly evening and even the English character had a snooty, know-it-all tone. The story was poorly written and the plot was frankly boring. No intention of reading the sequel this year.
  26. Beach Reach (Emily Henry) – 5 stars
    My second audio book was the polar opposite and one of my favourite books of the year – a book about writers gradually falling in love? It was like it was written for me. This was the book that really solidified that I really enjoy romance as a genre, when I’d never considered it to be one of my primary favourites before.
  27. MumLife (Louise Pentland) – 4 stars
    My one and only non-fiction read of the year. I only listened to this one because I used to be a big fan of Louise Pentland so I’ve read all of her books an even though I’m absolutely not the target market for this one as I’m not a mum and I’m not really anywhere close to being there yet. But it was an insightful listen.
  28. Tarzan of the Apes (Edgar Rice Burroughs) – 2 stars
    Comparing this classic literature to the Disney movie was incredibly interesting – the book is way more savage but the ending was much sweeter I think. It took me a bit longer to read because I’m not very good at understanding older English and I don’t really enjoy reading it. Will probably opt for watching the film next time.
  29. The Cove (L. J. Ross) – 4.5 stars
    Although the protagonist was a little irritating, this story was really fun to listen to and it was a perfect blend of crime/murder mystery and romance. It was the kind of audiobook that got me excited to get in the car and drive so I could listen to it again.
  30. Good Girl, Bad Blood – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2 (Holly Jackson) – 4.75 stars
    I loved ‘A Good Girls Guide to Murder’ and I was so excited for the sequel – the way Pip’s story developed and the direction the story went was amazing and I was all over it. I was glad I’d already got the third in the trilogy so I could read it straight away…
  31. As Good As Dead – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3 (Holly Jackson) – 2 stars
    Then came the most disappointing book I read this year. Pip’s character was completely different and I know a big part of that was because of what she experienced at the end of the previous book, but it was just too extreme, it went way too far and it stressed me out reading it. So I’m going to pretend it’s a duology and ‘As Good As Dead’ doesn’t exist.
  32. Red, White & Royal Blue (Casey McQuiston) – 5 stars
    With the end of the year and everyone talking about their favourite book of the year, this is the one that always sprung to mind. Listening to this audio book was the most engaging reading experience I’ve ever had – I gasped, I laughed, I felt everything and I actually said it out loud, to myself in my car. It was beautiful, it was funny and it was so romantic. It’s worth every bit of hype and I thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook because the narrators are perfect and I don’t think I’d have had the same experience in reading it in my own voice. 6 stars. 7 stars. All the stars.
  33. The Switch (Beth O’Leary) – 4.5 stars
    One of my most highly anticipated books of the year – everyone was going off about the Flatshare but the concept of the Switch sounded fantastic to me. And it was – the characters were wonderful, it was so realistic, I could have stepped right into the story. Lovely reading experience.
  34. Every Other Weekend (Abigail Johnson) – 4.5 stars
    I’m so much more detached from YA than I used to be but occasionally I dip back in and I always have a good time. This was a really sweet stories about broken families and finding solace where you can. It was so heartwarming to see a story about teenagers handling difficult situations and growing and learning to be better. Another top notch audiobook from Audible’s plus selection.
  35. In The Time We Lost (Carrie Hope Fletcher) – 2 stars
    I love Carrie Hope Fletcher and I’ve read two of her other books and adored them so I was excited to use one of my Audible credits on her latest work, but I actually hated it. The protagonist was insufferably stubborn, the groundhog day concept is so unoriginal and the narrator was overacting so much.
  36. The Source (Sarah Sultoon) – 3.5 stars
    I love a dual narrative story so a story that was dual perspective, set in two different time periods and describes a journalistic investigation into the events of the past narrative was so clever. There was a lot of names and characters to follow which was a bit complicated, but otherwise it was very well written and fantastically performed.
  37. Bookish and the Beast – Once Upon a Con #3 (Ashley Poston) – 5 stars
    I own the physical version of ‘Geekerella’ so I didn’t want to listen to it, but another in the series would be fine right? Oh my goodness I fell in love – I loved Vance’s character, Rosie was so organically brilliant and it was just so sweet, I’m obsessed – nerdy fangirl contemporary is my new favourite genre.
  38. Geekerella – Once Upon a Con #1 (Ashley Poston) – 5 stars
    So of course I had to go back to the beginning of the series – which all made significantly more sense now that I had more context. Nerdy fangirl contemporary – new favourite genre.
  39. The Princess and the Fangirl – Once Upon a Con #2 (Ashley Poston) – 4.5 stars
    I still loved this one, but I just didn’t quite connect to the characters in the same way as I did in the first and the third.
  40. Bookish and the Beast (again)
    I truly believed the ‘Once Upon a Con’ series didn’t need to be read in order. They don’t really but it made so much more sense the second time round. I had to finish the trilogy properly after listening to the first two, right?
  41. The Plus One Pact (Portia MacIntosh) – 1 star
    This is where the Audible Plus catalogue let me down – I thought it would be a nice easy listening romance, but it was badly written, really unrealistic characters and so cringey. I’m too stubborn to not finish a book, but I’m so glad this one was short.
  42. Sunrise on the Coast (Lilac Mills) – 3.75 stars
    This one took me a while to finish because I spent the last 12 weeks of the year absolutely exhausted and reading before bed either didn’t happen or I only managed 10 pages at a time. This was the nice easy reading romance I was hoping for though – a relatively light story of a girl making a life for herself after being a carer for her mother, falling in love with the island of Tenerife and, inadvertently, one of it’s inhabitants.
  43. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman) – 4 stars
    It took me a while to jump on the hype of this book that been at the top of the Sunday Times Best Sellers list for months and months, but it was so worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a group of elderly people living in a residential home, let alone read a book about a group of elderly people solving crimes in weekly meetings – it was funny and every bit an interesting murder mystery in equal measure. Very enjoyable.
  44. When Harry Met Harry (Sydney Smith) – 4 stars
    This had so much of the vibes of ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’, but that might be because it’s a gay love story set predominantly in the US, but it was brilliant regardless. It was funny, it was heartwarming and the actors were fantastic. I wanted to turn this one into a film or a Netflix series and when a story inspires me to create something I know it’s really good.
  45. A Perfect Paris Christmas (Mandy Baggot) – 3 stars
    I bought this book at the end of 2020 and have been saving it as my Christmas read ever since. It was lovely – a wonderful description of Paris that made me want to hop on a plane immediately. A somewhat predictable but still romantic love story that took some characters that could have been really stereotypical and absolutely weren’t, which was really refreshing. Nice, easy festive reading.

So my favourite books of the year were:

  • The Selection
  • Beach Read
  • Red, White and Royal Blue
  • Bookish and the Beast

I refuse to pick a favourite any further than this because Red, White and Royal Blue is so good but after finishing Bookish and the Beast for the second time (my only reread of the year) I planned an entire sequel novel (hit me up Ashley Poston) so they both had their impact on me in their own ways and it’s my blog post so I can choose what I want lol.

If you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth 3000 word blog post, congratulations and thank you! I hope you found some books that you’d like to try!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Red, White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston | Book Review

2021, books

Hello!

Since I started my Audible subscription last month, I have used my monthly credits to listen to books I haven’t had the chance to buy yet (and it feels like I’m getting free books, which feels good!).

So when my credit came in at the end of September, I was browsing through my wish list on Storygraph to decide what I was going to use my credit on and as soon as I got to ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, I knew that was my pick for the month.

I don’t know I’ve seen a book as hyped as I have seen RW&RB – on tiktok, Instagram, booktube, I don’t think I’ve seen a review less than 5 stars. A royal LGBTQ+ love story is a recipe for the perfect book right?

Yes, yes it is. I finished listening to this book in just two weeks (considering it was nearly a 12 hour listen and I only listen to audiobooks when I’m driving) and I was obsessed from the off.

The voice actor for Alex’s character was perfect – the charming First Son of the United States was the perfect mix of hardworking, ambitious politician and 22 year old college student just trying to figure himself out while journalists writes articles speculating every aspect of his life.

Then there’s Henry. This precious, posh British Prince who’s grown up being told about his obligations and duty, knowing that a core part of who he is doesn’t fit the ‘duty’ he is meant to serve. Behind all the bravado of being the Prince of England, he’s a giant nerd who loves Star Wars, the gay history of the British Isles and his dog David.

Even the secondary characters – the White House Trio, the super six, Zara, Amy, Cash, Shan – they were all such realistic characters. They felt real – if I didn’t know the unfortunate truth of the 2016 US Election and the names of the British Royal family, they all felt so human from just a few words on a page (or words coming out of my car speakers) that they felt real. The language was so authentic and didn’t sound forced, particularly the dialogue. The multi-medium storytelling with pros, texts, emails was so immersive and I’ll never get over the narration repeating ‘HRH Prince Dickhead Poop Emoji’ over and over again during the text message scenes.

I can’t put into words how much I adored this story – I have not laughed, gasped and commented out loud on a story as much as I did with Red, White and Royal Blue in a very long time, if ever. The sarcastic dialogue between Alex and his sister June, the authenticity of the President’s staff every time they tell Alex how fucking difficult he makes things and the honest conversations about being a Mexican kid raised in America and elevated to being America’s Most Eligible Bachelor.

It was honest and heartwarming and made me squeal like a fangirl – I’ve not finished a book and immediately wanted to read it again before, but after finishing the audiobook I went a bought a paperback copy almost immediately (and Casey McQuiston’s next book ‘One Last Stop’) and there’s a very real chance that I will read Red, White and Royal Blue again before working through the other two hundred books on my ‘to be read’ shelf.

Red, White and Royal Blue has made it on to my list of all time favourite books and I need somebody to fangirl over it with me please.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

my book rating system

2021, books

Hello!

I’ve just finished my thirtieth book of the year (Good Girl, Bad Blood – Holly Jackson, fabulous read) and I feel like I’ve really figured out my own rating system so I thought I’d write it all down because my memory isn’t great and I like to have everything written down.

So let’s start at the top:

5 stars – the perfect book; one that is easy to read, characters I love and care about and a story that I want to reread over and over again. It’s a slim difference between 4 and 5 stars but a book that I know I could come back to and love it as much the second or third time as much as the first. The perfect ‘Sophie’ book – 5 stars.

4 stars – a fantastic book, wonderful narrative, interesting storyline, an enjoyable reading experience that I probably got through quite quickly. There’s probably nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t love it enough to find it re-readable. A 4 star book is still an entirely positive experience – there was no negatives to the reading experience; no annoying characters, no huge plot holes, just not one that I’m rushing to read again.

3 stars – not a badly written book, not a brilliantly written book. Maybe it took a lot of concentration to get through it, maybe there were characters that really needed to learn how to communicate better (one of my biggest bug bears). I kind of feel connected to the character but I’m not entirely sure why and I probably resent it, especially if there’s one character I like or care about and the others are annoying.

2 stars – there’s nothing wrong with the quality of writing, it just wasn’t for me. I probably didn’t enjoy the reading experience but I’m too optimistic to ever not finish a book. Sometimes it’s the characters, sometimes it’s a boring plot, sometimes it’s whiny, melodramatic characters making their lives difficult for no necessary reason. Technically not a bad book, but absolutely not for me (this includes most classics).

1 star – badly written, plot holes, annoying characters, probably reads like bad fanfiction. I still won’t give up on the book because I can’t help but hope it’ll get better than a 1 star rating, but at best I can hope it’s short. I feel like one star is relatively self explanatory.

On StoryGraph, there’s .25, .5 and .75 ratings, I don’t have specific criteria for those, that one’s more of a gut instinct. Not that there’s a huge impact of rating a book, it’s not like it ‘matters’ in the scheme of things but it’s a good way of giving the extra points before a whole extra star, y’know?

Having some sort of system makes me feel like the ratings make me sense, rather than randomly assigning numbers and then accidentally rating a book I kind of enjoyed and a book I really didn’t both at 3 stars because I was only comparing it to the book I just finished.

Is it a Virgo thing or is it a neurodivergent thing? Who knows, but I like it. And I’m obsessed with reading and stories right now, so I like having a system to rate them all by.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Treasured in… September 2021

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

Another month, another list of things that brought me joy. This month has flown by and I’m hoping October will feel like it lasts a little bit longer, but for now we’re in the last few days of a month that was full of birthdays, adventures and a lot of stress.

It’s been busy with trips, lots of driving and lots of good food but I can’t wait for it to get colder, to get all my jumpers out and sit with blankets and candles in the evening. Bring on the cold!

But first, here’s the things I loved in September.

What I bought

I’ve definitely been a bit contactless-happy this month, but my favourite purchase has been this NaNoWriMo shirt in a size that’s almost certainly too big but has brought me immense joy. It took three weeks to arrive and I spent far too much on import charges to get it sent over from America but it brought me joy and that’s the most important thing right? Right?

I also bought many accessories and materials for my new Cricut which my wonderful fiancé got for my birthday, lots of Hobbycraft supplies and probably too many books but is there really such a thing as ‘too many books’? (the answer is no)

What I cooked

We had many good HelloFresh meals this month, but I actually want to talk about a restaurant my fiancé took me too – it’s somewhere we hadn’t been before, but apparently it’s the highest rated restaurant in our down! It was a lovely Italian restaurant that apparently was very authentically Italian (the boy who spent 5 weeks in Rome reassured me of that whilst pronouncing everything with a questionable Italian accent). It was wonderful, not only the food but the effort he went to in finding somewhere new for us to go.

Then, when I was visiting my parents at the weekend to celebrate my mum’s birthday, we went to a lovely pub in a tiny village near my home town and had the most incredible roast dinner. I barely thought about eating until the next day I was so full, but it was the most wonderful meal.

I’ve been very lucky to be treated to many meals this month, I feel like my birthday has lasted all month long and I’ve been very spoilt.

What I snacked on

A family friend sent me these cakes in the post from Simply Cake Co and I made 12 slices of cake last much longer than I anticipated. Especially, considering I could have eaten all of the salted caramel brownie in one sitting it was delicious. I’ve always been a bit dubious of cake delivery services but they were fresh, lasted really well and were incredibly delicious.

What I sang along to

I’ve listened to Audiobooks more than I have music, but this song is a bop.

(the video is weird and I don’t get it though)

What I watched

I’m still on the medical show hype, so when my fiancé is home we watch Grey’s Anatomy (or Battle Bots), when I’m home alone I watch The Resident on Disney+ but the biggest hype of this month without a shadow of a doubt was Sex Education series 3.

The characters are perfect in every way – they’re flawed, they’re trying, they’re so gosh darn realistic but also so sweet, the storyline was hilarious, the cinematography was beautiful and I’m so intrigued as to what series 4 will look like.

All I can say is, the scene with the cat was scarring. If you know, you know.

What I read

This is the bit I’ve been looking forward to.

When I first got Audible, I wanted to rant and rave about it straight away but I made myself wait till I was more familiar with the app and how much use I actually got out of it.

Three and a half books in a month later, I’m still very much on the Audible hype train – I love listening to books when I’m driving, I love having the extra capacity to engage with more stories and read in a brand new way and explore books I never would have read before with the plus catalogue.

So here’s what I listened to:

The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow – Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch – 2 stars
I was so intrigued about Zoe Sugg’s latest attempt at fiction and I was so disappointed. It read so childishly, but with a few swear words thrown in because it’s about teenagers, but the murder didn’t feel like it was really resolved and (my biggest issue) – there was no ending. There was nothing conclusive about the ending, it was just a big old pause to make the reader buy the sequel. I don’t mind a cliffhanger, but at least give the book some sort of conclusion, some sort of ending, not just drop it and pick it up in the next one.

And out of principal, I absolutely won’t be buying the next one.

Beach Read – Emily Henry – 5 stars
A book about writers living in their own romance story? Yes please. Beach Read is in line to be one of my favourite books of the year – January Andrews (despite having a really dumb name) is a wonderful narrator – she’s self aware, brilliantly sarcastic and witty, but human and flawed and sad and excited so realistic. I loved her, Augustus Everett was a total sweetheart and I loved getting to know him beyond the stereotype January thought he was in college.

Fantastically narrated, thoroughly recommend.

MumLife – Louise Pentland – 4 stars
My first (and probably last) non-fiction read of the year, this read like one long, monologue podcast from Louise and it was wonderful. Heart warming, heart breaking and hilarious in equal measure. I feel like I learnt so much about myself, even though I’m not a mother yet, I learnt so much that I’d like to carry forward if I’m ever lucky enough to have my own children.

The only paper book I managed to finish this month was Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs – 2 stars – it took me nearly a month to finish reading this one. I’m not a fan of classics or books written a long time ago, not my style, it made it harder to read because I had to concentrate more and after a one chapter (sometimes not even that) I’d be exhausted and fall asleep within minutes. But I finished it – it was nothing like the Disney movie and the ending literally finishing with an asterisk that said ‘read more about Tarzan in the next book’.

It wasn’t written badly, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it and will be donating my copy to the charity shop.

And I’m currently reading Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson and listening to The Cove by LJ Ross and thoroughly enjoying both.

It’s been a long month, but I’m ready for another one for sure!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Treasured in: July 2021

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

The time has come to once again wrap up the month with a list of things I’ve enjoyed or have made me happy! Is this a glorified favourites post? Absolutely, but I’d be lying about who I really am if I didn’t come up with pretentious names for things!

(I’m knackered and I’m losing it a bit, can you tell?)

Without further ado – the things I treasured in July:

What I Bought

I really struggled to think of something I bought in July (except books, I can’t stop buying books…) but I actually jumped on the Glossier hype a little bit – I’d seen the Anna Edit talking about the beauty bag which was marketed as the bag that fit everything in it. It has pockets, it actually holds all my make-up (like all of it, I don’t have a lot) and I’m really pleased with it.

And that order came with a free sample of their perfume ‘You’ – I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Glossier perfume but I wasn’t going to spent £45 on something I hadn’t even smelled. But then I got the free sample and I literally couldn’t stop thinking about it. I can’t describe it, but it smells grown up without smelling floral or fake – it just smells really good and it’s probably the most I’ve spent on a beauty product ever but I don’t regret a single penny. It’s actually amazing.

What I Cooked

Last month I mentioned that I’d just got my first box of HelloFresh meals and I can’t lie, I continue to be moderately obsessed – we’re on our third or fourth box now and the meals are just brilliant and I love not having to think too hard about what we’re eating, buying the ingredients or finding recipes – the recipe cards are really easy to follow, the food is always good and then I just chuck everything in the dishwasher and it’s all ready for the next day.

Some of my personal favourites are the mushroom risotto, chicken korma style curry and cheesy oven baked risotto.

What I Ate

I’m really craving cake at the moment and Sainsburys do these wonderful little Victoria Sponge cupcakes and they’re delicious. That’s all I have to say.

What I listened to

I’m still listening to Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’. This is the one I probably listened to the most:

What I Watched Online

I’ve not watched much YouTube this month either, but here are a selection from my history that I enjoyed:

What I Watched on TV

This month, I could have watched Loki on Disney+ with my partner once he returned from a long work trip to Italy.

What we did was start watching Pokémon Journeys on Netflix because sure it’s a kids TV show but it’s only 20 minutes long, it’s easy to watch and it’s not emotionally taxing so it’s perfect to watch with dinner and it makes my nerdy Pokémon boi very happy when we confidently shout the wrong Pokémon in the ‘who’s that Pokémon’ section.

It’s the little things.

What I Read

I have absolutely adored reading this month. I’ve finished three books and I reckon I’ll finish my current read before August too! I’ve read:

  • Remnants: The Mayflower Project, K. A. Applegate a book from my teenage years that I couldn’t remember much about, so I kept it to reread to figure out if it was worth pursuing and reading the 14 sequels (I’m not exaggerating). It was an okay concept but it was all a bit disjointed and I didn’t love it so it’s going to the charity shop.
  • Perfect, Cecelia Ahern – I didn’t love Flawed, but it had such a non-ending that I had to buy the sequel to find out what happened. It was a very stereotypical political riot Hunger Games Mockingjay ‘I’m the girl that’s different that can save the world’ YA that was 3 stars at best? It all felt very holocaust but not done very respectfully, it was weird.
  • Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie – I don’t have many classics on my shelf because I prefer the modern style of writing, but Peter Pan is my favourite Disney movie and it was short so one step closer to my GoodReads goal for the year. Wow the book is quite different to the film! Peter is a cocky little so and so, the Lost Boys are all murderers and I kid you not, there was a line about fairy orgies.

And I’m currently reading ‘Adrenaline’ by Jeff Abbott – I’ve had the sequel book on my shelf, ‘The Last Minute’, for literally years so last payday I bought a couple of prequels I was needing. It’s a 500 page book about spies and espionage and it’s not YA! I’ve read one Jeff Abbott book before and I really enjoyed it and I’m approximately 83% through and this one is brilliant too. I’ll be posting the review on my bookstagram when I’ve finished reading it.

Bonus shoutout for StoryGraph – it’s an alternative reading tracking app to goodreads and it does everything that goodreads does as well as more interesting statistics on what you’re reading (including genre, pages and pace which consequently gives you better recommendations) and it’s not affiliated with Amazon, so win win all round!

What I Planned for the Wedding!

This month was a sort of catch up month – I finally got wedding insurance, I spoke to the flower lady who makes silk flowers and I’ve got a consultation with her next month and I even found a sash and some Bride Squad pins on Facebook Marketplace for free so thought that would be a good one to pick up!

It still doesn’t quite feel real yet – I feel like I’m too calm about it but also there’s so much to do and it’s going to cost so much money, but I’m focusing on the short term for the moment, tackling my to do list one task at a time.


Every month I think these posts might be a bit too old school but then I write them and every month I feel positive and excited about the month ahead! Especially with what I’m reading. My bookshelves are looking really pretty and my database is looking really… unbalanced, so hopefully lots of reading in the sunshine in August!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

highlights from my tbr

2021, books

Hello!

Just because of who I am as a person, when I was unpacking my books I wrote them all down in an Excel and begun my own little database and now I have an official tbr list (to be read).

59.5% of the books I own haven’t been read (138/232) – which isn’t too bad? I thought it would be much nearer 70%! Though this doesn’t stop me from buying new books (however hard I try!), it means I’m not short of books to read.

I thought it would be nice to take you through some of the books I’m most excited to read from my book shelf – I’m not going to be reading 138 books by the end of the year, but I’m going to read as much as I can!

So if you like an easy read, a rom com, a fantasy story, a mystery, a YA story of any genre or a little bit of anything really, here are some books I’m excited about reading!

  • All That She Can See – Carry Hope Fletcher

I’ve read several of Carrie’s books and they’re always filled with a fantastical sense of wonder – I acquired this one from a pile of books that was being donated in my childhood home and I don’t really know anything about it, but I imagine it’ll be wonderful.

  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green

I’ve heard incredible things about this book in regards to capturing the teenage experience growing up with the internet and the impact it has on mental health (as far as I’m aware!), I’m intrigued to find out what Hank’s writing style is like but it has to be good to have such an incredible reaction!

  • Good Girl, Bad Blood – Holly Jackson

I devoured ‘A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder’ last year and I’m so excited about the sequel – I know there’s a third book out now and I can’t wait to dive back into this series. I never thought I’d really be into crime novels but the way the protagonist is written as a teenage girl who cares about school and getting into uni but isn’t a ‘traditional’ nerd made her such a believable narrator to read. And the plot twists were brilliant!

  • Five Feet Apart – Rachael Lippincott

Did I buy this book exclusively because I want to watch the film with Cole Sprouse? Yeah, to be honest. I think he’s cute, so I want to read the book with him in mind and then watch the film to compare. There’s something about a YA medical love story that just gets me!

  • The Switch – Beth O’Leary

I saw a lot of people talking about ‘The Flatshare’ and the concept didn’t grab me tbh (though the hype around the book still convinced me to pick it up!) but The Switch sounds brilliant – a young woman living in a busy city looking to slow down and her nan looking for some adventure swapping houses for a bit? Sounds brilliant, I can’t wait!

  • Gods Behaving Badly – Marie Phillips

If I didn’t mention it enough in writing about ‘Lore’ by Alexandra Bracken on my bookstagram, I love Greek mythology and retellings of it. My sibling sent me a tiktok of someone recommending this book as a kind Friends meets the Gods and I love reading interpretations of the mythology. I think if I only read one genre for the rest of my life it would be interpretations of Greek mythology.

  • Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan

And along the same lines… I’ve read the first one and seen the films but I never got into them properly when I was in school so when I saw the series for £10 in the Works, I bought it for my partner to give to me for Christmas and I’m yet to read them. But I will get there!

  • The Princess and the Suffragette – Holly Webb

This book I picked up from the children’s section last time I went to my favourite book store High Peak and it just intrigued me. I love when people cleverly bring conversations that many would deem ‘controversial’ to children and make it accessible. Plus it’s incredibly pretty!

The Princess and the Suffragette: Amazon.co.uk: Webb, Holly: Books

And with that, I’m going to have an early night so I can finish my current book and get onto a new one as soon as possible!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

reading in every room – my favourite parts of my new house

2021, books, interior homeware

Hello!

It’s been almost a month since we moved into our new (rental) house and I’m just about happy that we’ve unpacked basically everything – there’s a few bits of furniture we want to upgrade in the long term but we intend to be here for a long time so we’re not rushing.

There are so many aspects of this house I love – corners that were selling points, ways I’ve decorated that I’m really pleased with and satisfying storage solutions making the most of the space we have, so I thought I’d take some pictures and share them here as a nice capsule memory of when we moved into this house.

My office

The entire point of getting a three bed house for us was so that I could use one of the spare rooms as an office – for the first three months of my job, I often attended video meetings with my fiancé playing video games in the background because I had to set up my work desk in the living room because there was nowhere else to go but now he’s not even on the same floor as me!

My office is in the littlest third bedroom and it’s not a lot of space but I’m really pleased with how much I’ve managed to squeeze in without it feeling too cramped. It always takes living in a space to really figure out what works best and I’m still figuring a few things out, but I’m so excited for when I don’t have to work from home anymore and this can be my craft room.

The library

Technically bedroom 2; the spare bedroom; our uni friend Nick has been referring to it as ‘his bedroom’ since we told him where we were moving, but I call it The Library. This is where all my books are currently living – the plan for this room is to get an IKEA Hemnes Day Bed so it can also be a bedroom when needed, but predominantly it’s going to be my reading nook and line the walls with as many bookcases as humanly possible (thank you mum and dad for donating the furniture).

It’s very much a work in progress at the moment – books are all still in boxes and shelves are empty, but I think I’ll do a whole post about it when this room is finished – I want to make it really cosy in here – some fairy lights, my Harry Potter themed prints, as many story themed things as possible, all the cushions for the day bed, I’m so excited to develop this room.

Kitchen window

This might sound a little ridiculous, but our old house was closed in on three sides – we only had two windows in the entire house; one in the living room and one in the bedroom. Our kitchen was tucked away at the back of the house and there was no windows at all…

Our new kitchen has TWO windows!

I love this deep window and I’m so excited to dress this window sill with as many plants and greenery as my fiancé will allow me to buy!

The garden

please ignore my pots of dead daffodils…

WE HAVE A GARDEN!! I never thought I’d like astroturf, but it’s surprisingly soft and doesn’t need any maintenance which suits me just fine! The garden is 100% a work in progress – I’ve started my gardening for the summer, but I want to get a garden shelf to do my potting at and we’re looking at getting some garden chairs and a lounger because I want to have a summer reading spot (I meant it when I said I was planning a reading nook for every room!).

We’ve even got outside plugs so I’ve got hopes for a garden of fairy lights in the summer and icicles on the front of the house for Christmas (I’m not sure how enthusiastic my fiancé will be…). Hopefully the pandemic will allow us to have a bit more of a relaxed summer because we’re planning a house warming BBQ in July and it would be nice to have actual people there.

Oh summer, how it feels a million miles away in both weather and human company.

The extension

Now, let me tell you the extension is the biggest reason we wanted this house – the living room is great, decent size, I like the way we’ve laid it out but having the extension on it completely opens up the room – the extra floor space, the sky lights (which sound simply magical when it rains) and the tri-fold doors. The light in this East facing room in the morning is just glorious.

Right now, we have a sofa bed under my photo wall (which survived the move from the old house!) but the long term plan is to replace this with a couple of arm chairs so I can… (guess what)… have another reading nook! I guess I’ve got all four seasons covered – Spring/Autumn in the extension, maybe with the back doors open if it’s warm enough, Summer on the deck and Winter in the library!

With it’s under floor heating (that we still can’t figure out), the natural light from all the windows and my sentimental af photo wall, it’s no wonder this is my favourite part of the house and I can’t wait to experience it in every season.

There’s still a fair bit of work to be done till it really feels like home, but the more we explore the area and start putting our own touches on the place the more I feel like this is where we’re going to settle.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Treasured In… April

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

Another month, another round of favourites – things I bought, watched and eaten that have made me happy in the last month the share a bit of positivity on the internet!

But we all know I like categories and lists so I couldn’t just manage a list of nice things – gotta give it some structure!

Purchase

I mean, I moved into a new rental house so I didn’t buy it per say but I paid a deposit on it and spent probably more money than I should have on new things for said house… but it’s pretty, it’s got a nice garden and it’s got more than two windows! The kitchen and living room are in separate rooms and I can work from home without my boyfriend playing video games in the background! So that is top of the list.

But also shops re-opened and I accidentally bought 5 new books but I spent less than £20 which is pretty good value!

Recipe / Food

Sometimes the food you love is the old favourites – my comfort food is either a jacket potato drowning in butter and cheese or pasta drowning in butter and cheese (I’m sensing a theme and it’s carbs as a vessel for butter and cheese…) and both of these have been great this month for comfort food and easy food whilst we’ve been unpacking.

But then we really treated ourselves this weekend by buying a small leg of lamb and cooking it in the slow cooker and wow it might have been the most expensive piece of meat I’ve ever bought but it was incredible. Not going to become a common purchase by any means but it was delicious.

YouTube video

I’ve not watched loads of YouTube this month, but here are some of my faves!

Books

I actually haven’t read a single book this month – the first weekend in April was the Easter bank holidays so I spent all of it packing, the following weekend we moved and my books have all been in boxes since then.

I looked out a few to tide me over until I get proper storage for my books, but I decided I was going to read ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge, but turns out that’s a bit heavy when you’re anxiety is sky high about moving house!

So I thought I’d share the books I bought on my first trip into our new home town since the shops opened:

In a 3 for £5 deal from The Works:

The Start of Us, Hannah Emery
The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary
It’s Now or Never, Carole Matthews

And in a buy one get one half price deal from Waterstones,

Good Girl, Bad Blood, Holly Jackson
Lore, Alexandra Bracken

Did I need 5 more books when I’ve just admitted I haven’t read anything in April? Probably not but books bring me joy and I’ll make up for it in May I’m sure.

Something to watch

Other than continuing my Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon with my boyfriend (and thoroughly enjoying it), I’ve not watched too much this month because I’ve been trying to do a writing challenge so listening to music instead, but in the past couple of weeks I’ve spent about three days absolutely binging ‘The Good Doctor’ on Sky Go (thank you to my wonderful friend Beth for sharing her login with me!) and I absolutely love it.

Learning so much about autism and watching how it’s represented on the show is fascinating – autism is a spectrum, so it presents differently in every autistic person, but seeing how it manifests and how the other characters treat Dr Murphy is really clever.

And it turns out I really like medical dramas – I’ve been watching clips of House, Greys Anatomy and Chicago Med on Facebook and I’m definitely watching House after I finish The Good Doctor.


As the country starts to open up again, lockdown 3 draws to a close and Spring crawls into Summer, everything is starting to feel brighter and like there is a life beyond covid. I’m hesitant to let myself get too excited about it all, because we said the same last year and look where we are now, but I’m definitely making the most of nicer weather.

Things are still a bit scary, but they’re looking in the right direction I think!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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

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