three mini bookish blog posts

2023, books, review


Today I’d planned to write a my May reading wrap up, but I’ve only finished one more book since I got back from my holiday and I did a full review of everything I read while I was away last week… I thought that might be a bit dull.

I had a couple of ideas for what to write about this week but none of them were quite right to be a full post so here are three mini bookish blog posts!

Simultaneously eye-reading and ear-reading

On a spontaneously trip into town with my husband (he wanted a new XBox controller, I convinced him to buy me breakfast and let me look in The Works and Waterstones) I picked up a copy of the final book in the Scholomance series, ‘The Golden Enclaves’ by Naomi Novik. The entire reason I read this series was because I saw this book in the half price hardback sale in Waterstones in January and it’s still in the new hardback section five months later, after I finished listening to book 1 and reading book 2.

But I’d already listened to more than half of book 3 by the time I bought it, which begs the question – why did I buy it?

Well, one – it’s absolutely stunning, I mean look at it.

And two – I don’t know if it is because I was listening whilst doing a lot of travelling, but I’ve found it particularly hard to focus on and engage with so I wanted to try reading it with my eyes whilst listening to it with my ears (why does that sound like a children’s nursery rhyme?).

It turns out, double reading (as I have just this moment decided to call it) is an incredible relaxing, immersive experience. So much so that I could actually listen at more than 1x speed (don’t judge my tiny little brain pls)! I’ve spent the rest of this week trying to get ahead on all my tasks so I can sit and finish this off before the end of the month.

checking in on my 23 books for 2023

When I wrote this blog post about the books I want to read this year, it was absolutely for the sake of having something to post – it has a nice ring to it, I could make a nice graphic and make a tiktok video out of it. But because I (mostly) choose what I’m reading by picking bits of paper out of my tbr jar, the likelihood that I’ll pick these 23 out of the 320+ that are in there is slim to none… but here’s a check in anyway!

Though, defying those slim odds, I have read 3 of the 23 and I’m about to start a 4th tonight! ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon and ‘The Atlas Six’ by Olivie Blake have both come out of the tbr jar and I defied the jar in taking ‘God’s Behaving Badly’ on holiday with me. I also picked ‘Things We Never Got Over’ out of the jar pre-honeymoon but I didn’t quite get to it so I’m starting that this evening and I’m excited for some contemporary romance after some quite intense YA fantasy.

I’ve just had the idea that maybe next year I’ll do an Alphabet tbr for 2024, but god knows how many books will be in my jar by then! I’ve managed to read 32 books so far this year, which is the most I’ve ever read in this amount of time and almost as much as I read in the entirety of 2022 so who knows! I have a mental goal in mind of where I want to be by the end of the year but I don’t want to jinx it by sharing it.

These Twisted Bonds – Lexi Ryan review

The one book I’ve finished since we got back from Greece! I really enjoyed the first book in the duology – ‘These Hollow Vows’ – to the extent that I opted for buying the ebook of this sequel than reading one of the dozen other books I had downloaded on my Kindle because I just wanted to know how it was all resolved!

I ended up rating it 3 stars – one less than the first. Whilst the magic system, the world building and the heritage of the faerie world was engaging and well thought out, the characters lost all personality and became stereotypes of from any YA fantasy romance – the ‘Chosen One with all the power who exists to serve as a love interest for two men’, the ‘Evil Queen’, the ‘Betrayed Stubborn Man-Child Who Won’t Let The Girl Who’s Moved On Go’, the ‘Prince who is her true love and just wants what’s best for his people and will sacrifice all joy in his life for it’… you get what I mean.

It had a nice ending and the plot was really good, I just got so fed up of the characters.

So I’ve just realised why I enjoyed writing these mini posts so much – because it feels like an Instagram caption 😂

Which probably suggests my Instagram captions are too long but I love writing them too much to shorten them!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

everything I read on my honeymoon

2023, books, review


I’ve just got back from a lovely two weeks in Kos, Greece with my husband and it was basically everything we wanted – we went on a couple of excursions, there was a Pokemon Go pokestop right outside the hotel for all of our Pokemon Go needs and we spent a lot of time doing nothing in the sunshine.

Before we left I made a particularly ambitious tbr – I took 6 physical books with me (and considering in ‘normal’ life I usually read 1-2 a week it was very optimistic) as well as downloading 12 books on my Kindle and having access to the dozen (plus) titles I’ve used my Audible credits on.

So I definitely wasn’t going to run out of reading material!

My original plan was to alternate reading a physical book with reading a book on my Kindle, but while we were out there I decided to prioritise the physical books because otherwise taking them all the way out there and back without reading them felt very wasteful.

But let’s start at the beginning – I finished the paperback book I was reading (The Last Graduate, the second book in the Scholomance series by Naomi Novik) on the last day of April and on Monday May 1st (love a month that starts on a Monday), I decided rather than start a new physical book I would use my Kindle to finish off the hush, hush series so that if I did finish before I got on the plane, I wouldn’t be carrying around a physical book that I’d already read!

So I managed to finish Crescendo, the second in the series, in the airport hotel the night before – first book of the month finished on the 2nd before we even left the country. But in the aim of finishing the series, my first reads of the holiday were books 3 and 4…

Silence and Finale – Becca Fitzpatrick ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / ⭐️

I find giving plot synopsis’ of sequels a bit awkward because I don’t want to spoil the beginning of the series for anyone who hasn’t read it, but the premise is stereotypical YA fantasy romance with fallen angels, the descendants of fallen angels and humans (called Nephilim) and the ‘complex’ balance of the two races amongst humanity. The general vibe is questionably written fanfiction, very much of the Twi-Hard era of 2009.

I thought Silence was surprisingly clever – exploring the premise of an unreliable narrator and seeing many of the characters from a new perspective, but Finale was awful – the main character had no personality, everything was predictable and stereotypical and I spent so much of the last half of the book rolling my eyes I was so glad when it was over.

Would I recommend the series? If you want quality fantasy literature – no. If you were a Twilight fan when the movies first came out and want to feel nostalgic for questionable writing and ridiculous romance, sure go ahead – it’s easy to read and won’t make you feel any real emotions other than nostalgia, no need to prep the tissues.

Then it was time for the physical books!

It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Lily and Ryle meet by chance when needing some air in a random rooftop in Boston – finding the freedom of being able to be completely and utterly honest with no consequences, they’re surprisingly attached to each other but don’t expect to meet again.
  • Six months later when Lily has started her life as an entrepreneur and hires Alyssa on a whim, it takes approximately 4 hours for her to realise she’s hired Ryle’s sister and suddenly the proximity makes him harder to resist.
  • But when a chance encounter with an unfinished love from her childhood reappears in Atlas, Lily finds herself looking at her past and seeing some of the ugliest parts mirror into her present.

(I thought three bullet points would be a nice easy way to do a plot summary, did it work?)

For my first ever Colleen Hoover book, I fell in love. I thought Lily was a beautifully authentic narrator, Atlas and Ryle were both incredibly cleverly portrayed and I loved seeing the character development in Lily’s mom. I can’t talk about characters without mentioning my favourites – Alyssa and Marshall. Alyssa being so unapologetically honest was a fantastic representation of what a friend should be – prepared to say what you need to hear even if it’s not what you want and is mature enough to remain level headed in a dispute that could easily resort to picking sides (though I don’t know if her very brief mention of struggling to conceive felt a little like box ticking). I have a big soft spot in my heart for Marshall almost exclusively for the moments that he checked Lily felt safe and made sure she wasn’t alone with anyone she didn’t want to be. The only reason I didn’t give it a full 5 stars is because some of the subject matter is heavy and I won’t rush to reread it for that reason. However…

It Starts With Us – Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(see above for not providing summaries of sequels)

In a note from the author before the story begins, Hoover states that this story is meant to be the lighter of the two and whilst I agree it’s not as heavy as the first book, it’s definitely not an easy, fluffy romance. But that’s actually what I liked about it – I loved the authenticity of the narrative style and the characters remained beautifully raw.

I loved the development into a dual perspective story, I absolutely adored Atlas’s secondary storyline (assuming we’re counting the romance as the primary storyline) and I just love, love, loved reading it. The perfect holiday read – I laughed, I gasped, I grumbled and my heart swelled with joy. Absolutely adored the whole experience and if I didn’t have an unread physical tbr that is 327 books strong, I would reread it right now.

The next book I was actually too embarrassed to read by the pool…

Horrible Histories: Groovy Greeks – Terry Deary

Summary: a children’s history book about ancient Greece.

Context: We named our wedding tables after HH books and used the physical books as centre pieces, so I thought it would be thematic and mildly funny to read each book in a relevant location. So I took Groovy Greeks to Greece.

Now, for a nearly 30 year old history book aimed at middle grade (maybe younger) children, I actually had a nice time. I could barely keep track of all the Greek names but the information within the books wasn’t anything I’d read in any other book on mythology, rather than just being blocks of information it was broken up with comics, doodles and information presented in different ways – such as a story told as if it were a dramatic diary entry.

I feel like rating non-fiction doesn’t make much sense, but if I were to rate it I would have given it 3 stars – middle ground, easy read, I had a nice time, will probably never open the book again, y’know?

God’s Behaving Badly – Marie Phillips ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • People have forgotten about the God’s of Ancient Greece, but they actually live in a small, grimy town house in London, doing what they need to do to keep the world going whilst no one remembers their names.
  • They’re losing their powers, and whilst Athena tries to communicate why, the other gods just assume they’re getting old and await for a time they might feel up to their full strength again.
  • But Aphrodite is pulling string for her own entertainment – Apollo has opened himself up to be played with and Artemis is determined to fix it before the consequences turn dire.

A Greek God themed book in Greece? Yes, that is the entire reason I took it with us.

I bought this one for my husband as a birthday present somewhere between 1 and 3 years ago (honestly, I can’t remember) but he really enjoyed it and suggested I read it too. Generally I found it enjoyable – the narrative style was easy to read but the characters were a bit emotionally detached so I found it hard to connect and there were some really unsavoury mentions of rape and sexual assault that made me very uncomfortable. I believe it’s written to be a comedy book with a tongue in cheek, sarcastic edge (the kind of thing that the author might say ‘you’re taking it too seriously, you don’t need to get offended’) but it just didn’t sit right with me.

However the last 30% ish where, arguably, most of the plot happens, was actually quite good and I got quite stuck in. Another one I won’t be rushing to reread but don’t regret reading.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

  • Park has curated a bearable high school experience – he’s made himself invisible and he knows how to ride the wave and get by.
  • Eleanor is the new girl – she’s moved back in with her mom, siblings and the step-dad she doesn’t get on with and she can’t help but stand out with her make-do clothes and her bright red curly hair.
  • The only empty spot on the bus on Eleanor’s first day is next to Park.

When I first set up my tbr jar, I counted books like Eleanor and Park as unread because it’s been so long since I read them that I wanted to reread them and see if I still felt the same. I first read this book in 2015 on a trip to Ecuador – I was 18, lonely, undiagnosed autistic and desperate for love, I devoured the story and it has sat in a special place in my heart ever since.

Now I am 26, married to a boy I’ve been with for seven and a half years and I know what love really feels like.

Eleanor and Park is two kids that are obsessed with each other and know nothing about each other.

I don’t know if it’s adult cynicism or if I was really desperate to vicariously feel loved when I was a teenager, but it just felt two kids who were unhealthily obsessed with each other and were so enthralled by the attention they were getting from each other that they completely overlook the fact they don’t know anything about each other.

The best part was Park’s parents – they had a wonderful relationship and although they got frustrated at Park for some oddly specific things, they generally had a wonderful relationship and were really supportive of their son. So an average 3 stars, which is the equivalent of losing a star every four years compared to my first reading eight years ago 😂

These Hollow Vows – Lexi Ryan

  • Abriella does what she needs to do survive and provide the best life she can for her sister – she steals the money for the contract her witchy aunt and all the growing conditions she adds, but somehow Jas still makes her laugh and a neighbouring mage’s apprentice Sebastian to keep an eye on them.
  • But then her aunt sells her sister to the land of Faerie – the land that stole their mother from them and she’d been warn against her entire life. And she’ll do anything to get Jas back.
  • Learning more about the Court of the Sun and the Court of Shadows than she ever thought she would, making alliances she never could have predicted and finding out more about herself than she knew she could, Brie has a lot to learn about the world of faerie before she decides her place in it.

This took the nostalgia of reading fantasy I got from hush, hush and actually wrote a good story. Sure, it was still a little melodramatic but of course it is, it’s YA! They’ve always got big emotions they can’t comprehend and make rash decisions without communicating properly.

But the world building was truly fantastic, the characters were okay and they were actually quite diverse. I had a genuinely lovely time and considering I finished it the day before we went home and I had an abundance of other books on my kindle to read, I still opted to spend money I don’t have on the ebook so I could read it immediately.

And that was 8! There were 12 Kindle books I didn’t get round to and my entire Audible library, but I’m really pleased with the amount I read and we had the loveliest holiday.

So I’m currently reading These Twisted Bonds, I will be reading Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score next and I’m constantly looking for places we could go on our next holiday so I can dedicate that much time to reading again!

Thank you for reading about my reading!

Sophie xx

I finally read a Colleen Hoover book | It Ends With Us/It Starts With Us Review

2023, books, review


Realistically, it’s been about three years since I first properly started to get involved in watching book related content online – BookTok made me impulse buy way more books than I’d been previously buying and bookstagram was a lovely way for me to combine my love of reading with my love of writing and expressing my opinions with words.

All that to say, I’ve been aware of Colleen Hoover’s work for a very long time – I saw ‘It Ends With Us’ everywhere and then I’d see shelves and shelves of her books and wonder how she could possibly write and release so many books so quickly. But I didn’t rush to pick any of them up – I don’t know if it was the unconscious hipster within me that didn’t want to love what everyone else loved (despite adoring many, many booktok famous stories…) or if I genuinely didn’t want to read the books. Now, in writing this, that I’m thinking about it, I think it might be that I think her cover designs are below average and didn’t appeal to me in the slightest (it’s definitely that one).

But when I found myself in possession of my first ever CoHo book after my wedding (instead of a gift registry we asked our guests for a copy of their favourite books and my darling friend from uni couldn’t pick an all time favourite, so picked a 2022 favourite) I decided that our honeymoon was the time to read ‘It Ends With Us’. I picked up the sequel ‘It Starts With Us’ in the Waterstones half price hardback sale in January so I bought that along too!

And I am so grateful that I did.

I’m grateful to my friend to giving me my first CoHo book, I’m grateful to past me who thought it would be a good holiday book and I’m grateful to Waterstones for having a sale that incentivised me to buy the sequel because I am obsessed.

I’d seen controversy around ‘It Ends With Us’ about how it ‘trivialises’ domestic violence so I went into it with an open mind – personally, I don’t understand the controversy. I found the presentation raw and harrowing in a way that I haven’t seen anywhere before. I felt emotionally connected to the characters from the beginning – to Lily’s honest authenticity, to Ryle’s professional dedication, to Alyssa’s somewhat whimsical, carefree approach to life against all odds, and to the flashbacks of the most thoughtful boy who faced so much more than he ever should have to.

It was weighty – covering heavy topics in what I felt to be a very realistic way (though I am privileged to be in a position where I can’t fully understand) and beautifully balancing it with moments that made me laugh out loud, moments of beautiful character development (shoutout to Lily’s mum) and moments of adoring romance.

The pacing was fantastic and every time I started to think I knew where the story was going, it would take a turn I couldn’t predict – I don’t want to spoil anything, but the chapter before the epilogue really took me by surprise.

I gave ‘It Ends With Us’ 4 stars in the end – not because I didn’t very much enjoy it, but because it was very heavy and it’s not one that I will rush to reread; I need to make sure I’m in the right headspace to experience a story like that again.

‘It Starts With Us’ on the other hand was a very easy 5 stars – full marks, it deserves the hype, give it all of the awards.

Picking up right where the first book left off, ‘It Starts With Us’ claims to be a lighter, more romantic book and whilst in part I agree, there were parts that made me feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest.

I can’t explain much of why I loved it so much without spoiling the first book (though at this point, I might be the last person on the planet who hasn’t read it), but the way Hoover approached navigating parenthood with split custody, parents with addiction who control the narrative to paint themselves as the victim and being a young teenage boy in the 2020s was beautiful. It would have been so easy to take the main characters and make everything easy, but that’s not what the world is like – no one can drop everything when they think they’ve found love, we have jobs and responsibilities and bills and we care what people think despite knowing that we shouldn’t.

I loved ‘It Starts With Us’ with my entire heart – it made me laugh (literally, out loud), it made me swoon, it made me angry (my husband can vouch, I was grumbling into my book by the pool) and it felt so real, I feel like I’ve been sitting with the characters in the days since I started reading their stories. They felt so authentic to me.

Each book took me less than 36 hours to read – maybe it’s because I’m on holiday and I’m relaxed and I have no other plans, but I haven’t devoured a story like that in a while. The narrative style felt like reading a letter from a friend and I adored it.

Now, what I need to find out is whether Colleen Hoover’s other books have similar vibes, or if they’re all completely different. I’ve had ‘Verity’ on my want to read shelf for a while because I think it sounds interesting, but I need to know if I need to drop everything else and commit to reading her entire collection.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

what I read in April ’23

2023, books, review


My consistency with reading is one of the things I’m most proud of this year so far – I’ve been really trying to spend less time on my phone in the evenings so I’ve read more in four months than I’ve ever read before. Then this snowballs into enjoying reading even more and spending even more time doing it!

As I’m writing this, I finished three books this month but I’m close to finishing my current paperback and my current audiobook so it might be on five by the end of the month! It’s been a really varied month featuring my first 2 star rating of the year, so buckle in!

A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) – Naomi Novik (audio) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Honestly, I only used a credit on this book because I saw the third in the trilogy in Waterstones and thought it was pretty.

Galadriel (El) is a 17 year old junior at potentially the most dangerous high school in the world – filled with thousands of wizards, only a handful of which will graduate, the students have to navigate being hunted and attacked by the variety of creatures desperate to break into the school whilst navigating a teacher-less education system and working to build the energy they need to cast the magic they’ll use to make it out of graduation alive. Orion Lake has taken it upon himself to be the school superhero – destroying as much of the malificaria as he can and saving hundreds of lives, much to the dismay of the seniors approaching a graduation hall full of the hungriest monsters the school has ever seen. Somehow catching his attention and finding herself in a position of potentially making the alliances she needs to get out of the school alive, El needs to figure out Orion Lake and stop needing to be saved by him, before she let’s the dark magic take over.

The first half was a struggle – I found the protagonist, El, quite irritating and the narrator used such a snotty accent (and her American accent when reading other characters was patchy at best). But as I tuned in to El as a character, realising she wasn’t trying to be a hero but played more of an anti-hero role (as well as going through some more humanising character development), I found myself wanting to listen to the rest of the book in every spare opportunity.

The world building is fantastic, incredibly immersive without taking that narrative stance of ‘assuming the reader already understands and making them play catch up’ attitude that I find difficult to comprehend. The peripheral character’s are really sweet and the last few chapters found that perfect balance of feeling conclusive and like they had an ending, whilst leaving a little trail of a cliffhanger to make you want to read the next book. I was very lucky to find a physical copy of the sequel ‘The Last Graduate’ on a trip to Oxford Waterstones where my husband felt guilty that he was buying three books so bought me the one I really wanted.

The Giver of Stars – JoJo Moyes (paperback) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m not normally one for historical fiction – give me fantasy, contemporary or dystopian any day – but as someone who loves learning about history, and has an unhealthy obsession with Bridgerton, I know I need to try more!

Set in 1930s America, ‘The Giver of Stars’ started very slowly – perhaps reflecting to mundanity of the life our protagonist has found herself in. Alice has moved from her home in England to a small town in Kentucky with the man she somewhat spontaneously married – trying to figure out her life as a wife in a country she knows nothing about with townspeople that think they already know her, Alice inadvertently signs herself up for the controversial Packhorse Library – taking books to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them in the rural mountains around their town. In trying to navigate her role as a wife, facing backlash for her part in in the library and finding friendships where her husband’s father doesn’t approve, Alice grows up fast and learns that the expectations set upon her might not align with the life she wants.

Although it dragged a bit at the beginning, the last 50% of the story was actually quite intense! With several major plot events that kept me hooked, I was squeezing in an extra chapter whenever I could. In the end, it was a beautiful tale of female friendships, the power of literature and the heart of real love that I actually think I will return to reread at some point.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon (paperback) ⭐️⭐️

Oooh do I have opinions on this one!

I read this one because it was my partner’s choice for our wedding library book club (context: for our wedding, we asked our guests to gift us a copy of their favourite book so we have a library of our favourite people’s favourite books, in an endeavour to read them all, we take it in turns to pick one a month and I call it a book club to make it sound more exciting than it is) and I was mildly apprehensive – I read ‘The Curious Incident’ for English at school and I didn’t enjoy it, so reading it again as an adult who is waiting to be diagnosed with autism, I was intrigued to see how my opinion of the book that is famed for it’s autistic protagonist may change as my understanding of ASD has developed.

Well, it turns out I still hated it.

But halfway through I decided to research the author’s relationship with ASD – whether he had it himself or knew someone with it. I found an article from his website where he proudly states that he doesn’t know anything about the disorder and didn’t do any research before writing Christopher how he did, saying ‘imagination always trumps research’ – cue, my blood starting to boil.

I realised at this point that I didn’t like Christopher not because he’s autistic, but because he is a presentation of everything that an ignorant neurotypical person finds inconvenient about their stereotypical perception of autism. Arguably, Christopher is not autistic – Christopher is a neurotypical assumption. How can anyone give themselves the illusion that they can write a first person narrative of a character they clearly intended to be autistic without doing any research?

It got 2 stars because it’s not technically badly written (badly researched, but I save my 1 star rating for very special occasions), but I would like to set it on fire.

Currently reading:

The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) – Naomi Novik (paperback) – 60%

Following ‘A Deadly Education’, El has officially made it to her senior year, next step: getting back out into the world alive.

If I write any more of a summary of this one, I will inadvertently spoil the first one so I’ll leave it there for now but I’m actually enjoying ‘The Last Graduate’ even more than ‘A Deadly Education’ – it picks up right where the first one left off, so I’m glad I’m reading them in quick succession otherwise I’d have forgotten so many of the key details and there’s no reminders or recontextualising. I’ve used an audible credit so I can leap straight into the conclusion when I finish this one but so far, I’m thoroughly enjoying it and incredibly intrigued about what the subject of the third instalment could be.

Icebreaker – Hannah Grace (audio) – 69%

Anastasia is a college figure skater hoping to qualify for the Olympics. Nate is a college ice hockey player who has been offered a place on a pro team once he graduates. When a revenge prank goes too far and the teams have to share a rink for the duration of the semester, Anastasia’s neatly detailed planner is derailed and she’s not happy. But Nate wants to make the transition to sharing the rink as smooth as possible, and the fact that he thinks Anastasia is gorgeous is just a bonus.

This is one of the spiciest books I’ve ever read – listening to it in the car makes me wonder how much is too much because if anyone else could hear what I was listening to, I would get some incredibly funny looks!

The main characters are incredibly sweet, the presentation of trauma is incredibly raw and authentic and the smut scenes are something else (interpret that how you will). I’m definitely going to finish this at the weekend as I’ve got a couple of long drives but I have had a fantastic time reading this, despite how inappropriate it’s felt at times 😂

The only other book I have on the go is the sequel to ‘hush, hush’ by Becca Fitzpatrick on my kindle, but what I’ve learnt about myself this month is that I can manage one eye reading book and one ear reading book at a time, so when I finish ‘The Last Graduate’ I’m going to read the rest of the ‘hush, hush’ series and honestly, that sounds like a fantastic way to start my holiday!

I imagine May’s wrap up will be quite a bit longer, as I’m flying off to Greece for two weeks for my honeymoon and I cannot wait to have some time in the sun with a stack of books!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Love on the Brain – Ali Hazelwood – 5 STAR REVIEW

2022, books, review


It’s a miracle – I’ve just finished reading an actual book for the first time in three months!

I’ve been in a slump and I knew a guaranteed win would be the way to get back into it – I absolutely adored The Love Hypothesis, Ali Hazelwood’s debut novel and hugely popular book on TikTok (that originally started as Star Wars fanfiction, I love that fact!). I loved that it had such a fantastic narrative for women in STEM, I loved the insight into the life of a pHD scientist in America and the romance storyline was just fantastic, I gobbled it up.

Not to mention the spicy scenes. But I know my mum reads my posts so I won’t go into too much detail on that front.

I’ve been on a book buying ban for the whole year so far. Don’t get me wrong, I have caused books to be bought (thank you fiancé and parents ❤️) but when I got a book voucher for my birthday I was very excited to use it and knew immediately that I was going to buy Love on the Brain, even though I knew literally nothing about it.

Neuroscientist Bee has had a pretty turbulent first 28 years of her life – from losing her parents as a toddler, to being sent all over Europe and North America to live with a variety of family members with her twin Reike, to settling in the US for college, meeting and breaking up with fiancé Tim after he slept with her best friend Annie and she gave up on a fantastic career opportunity to get away from them and work with sleazy, sexist boss Travis at the National Institute for Health.

When she’s chosen to lead a fantastic new project at NASA called BLINK, working on developing helmets for astronauts that use neural stimulation to aid concentration she’s beyond thrilled – she sees her career blossoming in glittering lights… Until she finds out she will actually be co-leading the project with Dr Levi Ward, who’d made it glaringly obvious when their pHD placements overlapped that he didn’t like her, and she’s dreading working with him again.

(I hope that doesn’t spoil anything!)

Bee has such a fun narrative – she was so realistic and her side comments had me consistently laughing out loud, aptly described by my fiancé as ‘an evil giggle’. She was instantly likeable and the way she was written made the neuroscience and STEM aspects of the plot so accessible – no, I don’t know what all the big words mean and the chapter titles were a bunch of jumbly letters (I think they were parts of the brain?), but I didn’t need to. Whenever any work related jargon would appear in the dialogue, it was written brilliantly enough to be totally comprehendible.

And don’t get me started on Levi – he’s every romance booktooker’s new fictional boyfriend; tall, gorgeous, physically fit and has a wonderful, wonderful way with words, I know I won’t be able to get him off my mind for a while. I literally told my fiancé he should read Love on the Brain to get tips from Levi (in the most loving way possible, of course).

Not only were the protagonists wonderful, but the ongoing plot was delicious and the twist at the end??? The last 50 odd pages were an absolutely whirlwind and very, very much took my by surprise. I was wholeheartedly enthralled from beginning to end, which only took me six days (which considering I’ve been in a reading slump for three months, is nothing short of overwhelming evidence that this book is bloody brilliant).

I honestly have no criticisms about Love on the Brain – I adored the characters, the plot was fun, exciting and then very dramatic and honestly I learned a lot about Marie Curie, which is always a bonus to learn something new!

A very, very enthusiastic 5 star review from me ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang | Book Review

2022, books, review


Today I’d planned to do my April Reading Wrap Up post, but I’ve really struggled with this reading slump and I’ve only just finished my only audiobook listen of the month (my paperback has been a real slow read before bed!) so I thought I’d turn this months post into a book review because I have a lot of thoughts.

I’d seen people talking about ‘The Kiss Quotient’ by Helen Hoang all over TikTok – I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact I think my favourite genre is contemporary romance and my TikTok algorithm absolutely reflects that. But it wasn’t till a browse round Waterstones last weekend where I actually read the description of ‘The Kiss Quotient’ that it jumped right to the top of my tbr and my waiting Audible credit was used immediately.

A contemporary romance about an autistic girl who hires an escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Since being put on a waiting list for an autism assessment 18 months ago, I’ve learnt so much about it from #actuallyautistic content creators (shoutout @PaigeLayle and @rubyofmyeye) and I was so intrigued as to how to this autistic character was written, especially as the description used the term ‘Aspergers’ which has been somewhat shunned by the autistic community as a diagnosis that categorises autistic people into those that are ‘economically useful’ and those that aren’t.

Reassuringly, the term Aspergers is only used once by the protagonist’s parents, which kind of fits the narrative that she knows it’s an outdated term but they still see it as the ‘better’ form of autism, though it’s never addressed.

From the very beginning, I found main character Stella to be an accurate representation of someone who is aware of her autism but desperately wants to make sure no one else is aware of her autism. She keeps her head down, focuses on her primary special interest which is her work as an econometrician and does what she can to keep her parents and her colleagues happy. But after a comment from her mother about ‘being ready for grandchildren’ and another from her colleague about ‘needing to practice sex’, she spirals a little and ends up booking a night with a meticulously researched escort named Michael.

After proposing that he become her sex teacher, Michael has to seriously reconsider his ‘no repeat client’ rules, because he is taken by Stella in a way he absolutely can’t comprehend.

The first half, maybe two thirds of the book are some of the spiciest I’ve ever read – if you like your romance with *spice* then look no further because this book is steamy and seductive as much as it is sweet and poignant. Ever other chapter is incredibly detailed bedroom scenes which make listening to it on my way to and from work a tiny bit awkward.

But in between the detailed sex lessons, Stella and Michael are falling for each other hard and fast, whilst assuming that their ‘major character flaws’ mean the other could never be feeling the same way. Stella knows she is paying Michael for his service – he’s slept with hundreds of other women so she must just be another client to him. And to Michael, he knows that Stella is paying him so she can learn to be ‘better’ for someone else, so he assumes that their financial, educational and situational difference mean she could never see him as he see’s her.

Basically, both are incredibly insecure and are defining the phrase ‘to assume makes an ass of you and me’ because by god they cannot stop assuming they’re not good enough for each other.

But it’s written in the sweetest and most romantic way – each of them making the most of the moments, immersing themselves in the practice relationship while they have each other.

The last part of the book, where there is markably less sex but the character arcs tumble at great speed towards their conclusion, everything we love about Stella and Michael comes to light – it’s incredibly sweet, the narrative effortlessly switches between each character’s perspective and as I entered the last 45 minutes of the audiobook with so much left to happen, it was one of the most fantastically paced books I’ve read in a while.

I adored The Kiss Quotient – Stella’s representation of autism was spot on and I loved her full circle journey from ‘I am more than my autism’ to ‘My autism is a part of me and that’s not a fault’, her social encounters with Michael’s family, the scene in the nightclub and with her work colleagues were so wonderfully written between the spoken dialogue and the internal monologue. Michael’s story was so sweet and I loved that he was a little bit in love with Stella from the very beginning, rather than the enemies-to-lovers I was anticipating.

Fast paced and slow burn simultaneously, a fantastic representation of autism without leaning on societal expectations of stereotypes and incredibly written from the sexiest to the sweetest moments.

The Kiss Quotient gets a full 5/5 from me! And in writing this blog post, I found that there are two more books in the series focusing on other characters which I will absolutely be using my next Audible credits for!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

A Day Out In Oxford

2022, lifestyle, review


This weekend has been a lovely mix of a lovely date afternoon and evening with my fiancé and then him leaving for work and having the whole day to myself to do very little. The ideal weekend with some moderately social plans and a day to recover – perfect!

I thought I’d do a little wrap up of the day I spent with my partner on Saturday because we went to a few places and it was a lovely afternoon!

We booked tickets to see comedian Ed Gamble at the Oxford Playhouse months and months ago – long enough ago that we had to keep reminding each other of the date because amongst all the other life things, it could have very easily gotten lost in our inboxes. But it didn’t!

As every good Saturday should, we started with a lie in (and nine and a half hours sleep, glorious!). We then had a very relaxed morning and lunch at home before setting off for Oxford. It sounds silly, but I get really nervous about parking and public transport and getting to the right place at the right time, so going to a Park and Ride that I’d never been to before to get on a bus I’d not used to go to a venue I didn’t know was quite a lot for my anxious little brain but it was actually incredibly easy, which was a huge relief.

As soon as we got off the bus in Oxford City Centre, I spotted a ginormous Waterstones and even though I’m on a book buying ban this year (four months without breaking so far!), that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to look at the five story book shop. We had a good old mooch in the Teen section (because growing out of YA is a myth) and then went up to the general fiction where I promptly starting making a list of the romance novels I wanted to read and will probably download on Audible whilst my lovely fiancé Lucas found the graphic novel and general ‘nerd’ section, promptly finding an Overwatch and a Doctor Who book that fell into the tote bag I suggested he buy to carry his new books.

Next, in taking a slow wonder through a very busy Oxford, we found ‘The HMV Shop’, which is a very Oxford way of naming an HMV but we move. They had loads of fun t-shirts and I accidentally bought a beautiful Hogwarts shirt that I will proudly wear to work next week as well as a Stranger Things notebook with lights in it (reduced from £14.99 to £3.99, probably because the lights were pretty disappointing) and a pretty Legend of Zelda poster for my nerdy boy because I’m a very lovely fiancé (and it was £3 and would look lovely on our living room wall).

From there we went into West Gate to peruse our options for dinner – the comedy show was due to start at 7.30pm so we knew we needed to eat sooner rather than later. I’ve been talking about taking Lucas to The Breakfast Club ever since an impromptu lunch with my masters girls back in pre-covid 2020 and now was the perfect opportunity! And it was absolutely dead in there because Google reckoned it closed at 5 when it didn’t and a rather large hen party went in which was rather off putting (but they were in a separate room and we could barely hear the singing).

Honestly though, The Breakfast Club let me down – I remember being blown away by the food two years ago but for the price, it was mediocre at best and the customer service was shocking. I’m all for colleagues being friends and having a natter but when they’re doing it at the till that is less than 2 feet from our table, shouting across the restaurant to each other and leaving us without giving us the bill for longer than we’d spent eating the underwhelming food, it leads to a pretty rubbish experience. And then putting the ‘optional’ service charge on the bill without asking? Bit much. Not going to be returning there in a hurry/ever!

Mediocre dinner aside, we were still really early for the show, but we took a slow walk to the Oxford Playhouse where my partner was shouldered in the elbow by a tweenager who promptly let the entire street know he thought he was a ‘wanker’ and we laughed at how the little silly tween boy thought he looked ‘hard’.

With the Oxford Playhouse being right in the city centre, we arrived approximately an hour before the show started, but so did lots of other people so we took a seat, debated getting drinks and decided they were too expensive before being some of the first ones sat in the theatre and playing a silly colour matching game on Lucas’s phone as the theatre filled up, the volume became a bit much and I very seriously thought I might have an anxiety attack. But silly colour matching game kept me occupied until the support act came on.

Chloe Petts was absolutely fantastic – I got a little too in my head about the whole thing and was mildly concerned I’d be the weirdo in the crowd that didn’t laugh throughout the whole show, but Chloe had the most wonderful stage presence and don’t you worry reader, I laughed the night away. Chloe’s parting words were ‘don’t be pussy, follow me on twitter and Instagram’ and I did, what can I say.

Then the man himself Mr Ed Gamble – what we didn’t realise when booking these tickets is that this show would be the last night of the first leg of the tour and with that in mind, Ed had no fucks left to give. He was absolutely brilliant and I haven’t laughed so hard for so long in a very long time.

I realised about half way through that every time I laughed I kept slapping Lucas’s thigh and I did wonder at what point I would actually bruise him. If that’s not a summary of the night I’m not sure what could be.

The whole set was fantastic – the whole journey home we kept reminding each other of some of the punchlines and giggling and now we want to go to all the comedy gigs. A perfect first comedy show for us, thank you Mr Gamble sir.

Now the end of the night is the boring bit right? Wait for the bus, see a whole plethora of Oxford students and young people preparing for their nights out as we were heading home, get in the car, beep beep down the M40 and basically straight into bed, right? Well, pretty much but there was one mildly entertaining thing that happened and I’m pretty sure it won’t be as funny in writing but I want to share it anyway.

We realised about three quarter’s of the way through the show that not having a drink and laughing the night away was not a fantastic combination, so we went to a little Tesco, witnessed someone buying far too many onions for 10pm on a Saturday night (like, 10+ onions), bought ourselves a couple of painfully boring non-alcoholic drinks and waddled on back to the bus stop opposite a Wetherspoons (entertainment enough, really).

We got on the bus with a bunch of lovely people who were getting off before us and let us have the two remaining seats and settled in for the journey back to the park and ride. Only to realise the next stop, was right outside the Tesco’s we’d just bought our drinks from and we’d walked all the way to the next bus stop.

Thank you for reading!

Sophie xx

7 mini blog posts – Fitness, Life, Reading, Wedding and a Film Review!

2022, career, fitness, lifestyle, review


I’m feeling a bit in-between with my blog at the moment – I want to write but I’m quite stressed and I don’t have the creative energy to think of original ideas to write about. In the last 24 hours I’ve developed a rather disgusting cold (that thankfully isn’t covid!) and I’m very bunged up and my brain feels like cotton wool, which is absolutely not helping!

So I thought today I’d write a few mini blog posts of ideas I had that aren’t long enough to make a whole post. There’s a mix of mini life updates, random thoughts and even a film review, I hope you enjoy!

One – Making Progress With Exercise

I think if you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you’ll know I’m quite good at getting over excited about something when I start it and then not really following through. And to go with that – I started Couch to 5k this week… for the third time! Have I ever finished the nine-week running program before? No, but will I try again? Absolutely!

But what I wanted to say is that pairing running with having been doing three dance classes a week for nearly eight months now, I’m finally starting to see an improvement in my fitness. I’m very particular about monitoring my statistics on my FitBit and the section for ‘Cardio Fitness’ has always been rated as ‘Poor’ for me, but in the last few days I’ve actually got into the ‘Fair’ category and although I’m not losing a ton of weight and both my dance classes and runs absolutely exhaust me, I can feel a difference! And that progress is more motivating than anything else.

Two – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

My partner and I booked a random week off a couple of months ago, just to be able to spend some time together and actually take a break from work, because we were both exhausted. When we realised it tied in with the release of the new Fantastic Beasts film, we decided to treat ourselves and drive up to the Showcase Cinema near my mum’s house because they have the fancy pants comfy recliner seats and now I’m a cinema snob.

The film itself at surface level was fun – the music was incredible, there were some really funny moments and the magic will always be a place of home for me, despite all the controversy around the Wizarding World, I can’t help but feel comforted by it.

As proper nerds, there were a lot of points we made as we came out of the film that made it no more than a 6/10 (for me at least). Personally, I feel like the whole trilogy wasn’t really thought through and the intention of the plot got lost along the way, but I want to keep this a spoiler free review so I won’t go into it too much.

The one non-spoiler thing that really stood out to me is that a couple of the accents were really patchy? Jude Law, as an English actor, sounded both American and Irish in parts and appeared to struggle to maintain his English accent and the charms professor, we had no idea whether she was a Hogwarts teacher or an Ilvermorny teacher because her accent consistently switched. A little distracting. But still a 6 out of 10 film.

Three – The wedding is coming together!

Part of the reason we came up to the Showcase near my mum’s is that it’s also near our wedding venue and we had an appointment with the woman who’s helping us organise the day and I had a consultation with a hair stylist.

I had been using our week off to spend some time on some of the more tedious admin tasks around the wedding and I was just getting to the point where it was feeling a bit stressful and overwhelming, but our meeting went really well and we got a little tour of the part of the venue that’s being renovated so I feel much more calm about it all now!

It’s all coming together and is slowly starting to feel much more real.

Four – I did a dance show

I spent my entire childhood going to more and more dance classes – starting with ballet, then trying acro, starting tap and modern, adding hip hop – basically going to as many classes as I could and doing a big show at the local theatre every two years.

Never did I think at 25 I’d be doing it again but I donned my sparkly waistcoat for a tap duet and a jingly jangly ballet costume and performed for the first time since dancing at a cheerleading competition at uni.

It’s a funny one, because I don’t feel like it’s me in those photos – it’s not new information that I’m very insecure about my weight and I don’t feel like I look like me, but outside of seeing the photos and videos, I loved being back on stage and I feel very lucky to have found such a wonderful dance company to do it with.

Five – Work feels stressful in a good way

Despite having this week off (having desperately needed it!), work actually feels stressfully rewarding at the moment.

The department I work in has grown and changed exponentially in the six months I’ve been with the company and just a couple of weeks ago we did a massive content overhaul and started working to a new content plan and don’t get me wrong, it’s been incredibly busy, but it’s given us more structure to work with and I’ve somewhat been given the responsibility of making it sustainable and it’s getting there!

I’m learning a lot of organisational and management skills, which is nothing like the marketing job I thought I’d signed up for but I think I like the more ‘producer’ side of my role. I never thought I was the right person to work in media, but it turns out I’m actually not too bad at it!

What makes a huge impact is that I have the most amazing colleagues – I adore the people I work with and I feel like we work so well together as a team, the media production team are going to do big things this year and at surface level I will appear to be very stressed about it, but having had a week off to reflect I’m so proud of what our little media team has achieved.

Six – I’ve hit my reading peak already this year

I mentioned it briefly in my April Goals, but I’m basically not reading at the moment – I managed to listen to one audiobook in March (it was a bloody good one though) and in April so far I’ve not listened to or read a single word.

With my audiobooks, I feel like I’ve not got the brain space to listen to a story when I’m driving and to read a physical book before I go to sleep? Not a chance – I get into bed and I’m asleep within about 10 minutes!

I’m not sure what the solution is, I imagine I just have to ride the wave and get back to it when I feel ready, but I do miss it! When the weather gets better I can’t wait to get the sun loungers out and sit in the garden with a book.

Seven Why is it so hard to find plus sized active wear

This has always bothered me, but particularly recently – my ballet friend and I decided we want to go back to wearing tights and leotards to class (because why not?) and although I still have a bunch of leotards from when I was a teenager at dance (because I’m sentimental af), I’m not quite the same size I was then!

But finding leotards that go to bigger sizes are ridiculous! I’m lucky if the Large is bigger than a 14 and there’s no such thing as a plus sized leotard that’s not lycra and shiny – I want the pretty leotards too!

It’s not just the lack of availability that bothers me, it’s the teenage girls who did as many dance classes as I did being told that they’re ‘Large’ because they’re bigger than a 10. God forbid being tall! Or having broad shoulders! Let’s not even talk about boobs. The industry is so discriminative and sure, they want professional dancers to be a certain size, whatever – no random girl on the internet is going to change that – but there’s so much more to dance than being a professional ballerina.

But it’s not just dance wear – even just fitness clothes are difficult to find if you’re plus sized! It baffles me that we have to have different sections for ‘plus sized’ and ‘petite’ and ‘tall’ when surely it would be better if everyone had access to exactly the same options but available in all sizes, with a petite, regular and tall option.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks it but it is just another way to make people feel bad about themselves, isn’t it? Because there’s no way that anyone who shops in the ‘plus sized’ section should be allowed to feel happy with how they look?

Why are we gatekeeping exercise? I go to three dance classes a week and getting clothes to exercise in has been a nightmare, and I’m lucky enough to be a size that is sometimes catered for in the main range.

Maybe I’ve just not found the right places to shop, but the whole thing is incredibly frustrating!

Not quite the note I wanted to end on, but there’s a few thoughts I’ve had recently!

Of course, in the process of not being able to think of one complete blog post, I’ve written one three times the length I normally would! But like I said at the beginning, I love writing and I very much enjoy writing on my little blog!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Van Gogh Alive: The Experience, London [review]

2021, review


At the beginning of the week, I took my partner for a surprise trip to London – after seeing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, we had another day of experiences and exploring to make the most of!

On our second day, I’d booked tickets for the Van Gogh Alive Experience in Kensington Gardens – I’m not particularly into art, I find it hard to engage with pictures and words and my neurodivergent brain doesn’t see any of the deeper meaning; at face value, I can appreciate a talented artist but I don’t need to spend ages looking at it.

So seeing how interactive and immersive this exhibit was, I was very excited to go (and to get some lovely pictures for Instagram). Plus that one episode of Doctor Who with Vincent Van Gogh in has given both my partner and I a really soft spot for him.

From start to finish it was fantastic – I bought a Starry Night face mask which I’ve very much enjoyed wearing, then we stood at the entrance watching a video of a robot using AI to recreate Van Gogh’s paintings which was very clever.

The next part of the exhibit was an area with pictures and descriptions of some of his most famous artworks, where he was at in his life and how they reflected his personal journey. This part I found a little confusing, as the whole point is that art is meant to be subjective so surely the perspective of one person who wrote the copy for this part of the exhibit can’t definitively decide the ‘meaning’ of the piece? But otherwise, once most people had cleared, it was lovely to just wonder round and learn more about his life (and more than what they teach you in school).

From there, there’s a recreation of the bedroom captured in several of his paintings which looks significantly more plain than the artwork. But that lead to a corridor to the main event…

A huge open space with big blocks with projections all over, in different sizes, all showing slightly different things, even projections on the floor. Here is where the real experience is – the sequence loops with five different pieces of music matched with five different artistic movements in his life. There was meant to be a smell with different bass notes and top notes or something but personally I didn’t smell anything… cool concept though!

We arrived just at the end of the last cycle, but we took a seat on the floor, socially distanced from other groups sat on the benches provided or on the floor around us and we watched this beautiful expression of a tortured man’s talents. With a few captions to give context and teach more about the artist, different artworks moved and appeared in time with the music. If all art exhibits were like this I’d probably be more interested in art!

It was such a unique way to not just learn about and appreciate art but to feel almost part of it; to be truly immersed in a story from 150 years ago. The projections felt almost 3D – all the brush strokes and colours felt alive somehow and it was a beautiful way to appreciate the vision of someone who’s no longer around to share it.

After the sequence finished, we went to a little sunflower room (which in all honesty was really dark and a little anticlimactic) and out into the gift shop (if I’d had £35 I’d have bought a paint by numbers I swear). Then we were back out to the Prince Albert memorial and the heart of London!

Personally, I think the tickets were a little expensive for what the exhibit actually is and how long we spent in there, but the exhibition is partnered with a number of mental health charities and it made me engage with art in a way I never have before, so i don’t regret spending the money!

I wholeheartedly recommend this exhibit – it moved me in a way I’ve never been moved by art and I really hope more exhibitions like this about other artists pop up because I’d love to experience them in the same way.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, London Palladium [review]

2021, review, theatre


On Monday, I surprised my partner with a trip to London – we spent the afternoon browsing shops (spending too much money in Forbidden Planet), getting absolutely drenched in a random thunderstorm and ended the evening with a trip to what accidentally became the opening night for the West End show Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.

When I booked the tickets, it was anticipated that June 21st would be when everything opened up again and theatres were generally reopening on July 1st… then it all got pushed back, so July 12th – the night of the tickets I’d booked – was opening night! The theatre was at half capacity (but full volume), all refreshments were ordered and served to the seats and my partner and I with our silly long legs (at 5’10” and 6’7″) could spread out a little without feeling squashed by other people – personally I prefer the socially distanced theatre experience but that’s not the point.

Joseph is my fiancé and I’s joint favourite musical (my personal favourite is Les Misérables) and we’ve been talking about going for ages, so I saw a great deal on TodayTix and decided to go for it! And with a stellar cast like Alexandra Burke as the Narrator and Jason Donovan (the original Joseph!) as The Pharoah, it was one I wasn’t prepared to miss!

From the opening notes I was (literally) jumping up and down in my seat – live music and being in a real theatre felt like such a luxury after such a long time away and being able to bring my partner to our first West End show together was incredibly exciting.

The whole atmosphere of the show was one of fun – Alexandra Burke’s Narrator had lots of funny little side lines and comments and she carried the role fantastically. When she first appeared in all black with glittery shoes I was a bit dubious – the show is one of the brightest there is, with ‘Technicolour’ literally being in the title! – but having her costume as such a stark contract meant she was always easy to spy on stage and… what can I say, the shoes were glittery!

For a show that is so brilliantly random – with pop songs, country songs, an Elvis tribute, a Parisian ballad and a Jamaican steel drum number – it’s one that would feel pretentious if taken too seriously, but the whole production understood that Joseph is a wonderfully ridiculous musical and they leant into it, with the children stepping into key roles such as Potiphar, the Cook and the Butler was a really sweet touch and really funny, they all had such wonderful comedic timing.

And musical timing! The dance sequences in this show were actually so good, my marketing brain thought about putting them on tiktok because they were relatively simple but looked really effective when everyone was doing them so in sync. However, I have to shoutout the tap dance break in the middle of ‘One More Angel’ because they did tap dancing! I’m a sucker for tap and seeing it used in a commercial musical alongside lots of different styles was amazing (can someone get me a pair of tap sandals please?).

I also have to mention the Can Can sequence in Those Canaan Days – I won’t spoil it, but yes, I mean the Can Can sequence in Those Canaan Days.

To go with fantastic dance sequences, the set design was incredibly clever – from using lights to make the stage look like sand, the centre circles that raised in parts above the stage and dropped below the stage too, camels that were moved by pedal bikes and, the true highlight; the set for Pharoah’s scenes.

Jason Donovan, the man himself, is carried onto stage on a wonderful throne – the stage is lit in gold, there’s pillars of an Egyptian temple on the back wall of the stage, the centre circle is fully raised and statues of Anubis (the dog man) and Ra (the hawk man) are mid stage left and right (with electric guitars that slide in and out from side of stage and rotating heads with puppet mouths that sing along as backing to the Pharoah) and best of all… A Vegas esque sign that read something along the lines of ‘Welcome to Fabulous Egypt’ – flashing lights and all! The whole thing was so over the top in the most brilliantly tongue in cheek way and it was fantastic.

What more can I say? I need to give a special mention to the 10 amazing children that performed on opening night – I always have a weakness for children singing (the performance in the Nativity movie always makes me well up), children singing harmonies always blows me away but the girls in Close Every Door were just fantastic, as was Jac Yarrow as Joseph – he has such a perfectly pure tone and the passion he put in to the end of the song was just magical, I got goosebumps.

The whole experience was fantastic – to be in a theatre after 16 months of COVID-19 restrictions feeling safe and welcomed, in a show where the cast was having just as much fun as the audience and to only pay £6 for a programme?! All round, it was a fantastic evening. I can’t wait to spend as much time as possible at the theatre this year – the atmosphere of live musical performance is just second to none.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx