Love on the Brain – Ali Hazelwood – 5 STAR REVIEW

2022, books, review

Hello!

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

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In 4 Weeks I’ll Be A Wife!!

2022, lifestyle, wedding

Hello!

If we flash back to January 2020, before we knew what social distancing was and knew what it was like to spend months away from our families, my boyfriend and I picked a wedding date in what was potentially the most anticlimactic (but most us) engagement ever and this moment felt a million years away.

Even now, I don’t think it’s properly settled into my brain that I’m going to be married and have a husband in just under a month. I’ll be the one wearing the gorgeous white dress, we’ll have said our vows and signed the paperwork! How mad is that??

With four weeks to go, all the planning is done, but there’s still a fair bit to do in terms of centre pieces, favours, name place cards, crafting signs and letterboxes, making sure everyone’s on the same page with where they need to be and when etc. It really is exciting and although it sounds worse than I intend it to, I’ll be so glad when the day comes so I won’t have to do anything else!

The main thing on my mind at the moment is the more exciting aspect of marrying my best friend – our wedding day is our seven year anniversary and I honestly can’t believe that 1) it’s been seven whole years we’ve been together and 2) it’s only been seven years, when I feel like I don’t really remember a time when he wasn’t there and we didn’t experience life together. I’m excited to read my vows to him (I’m really pleased with what I’ve written), I’m excited for our first dance and I can’t wait to see him in his suit and spend all day being sappy and no one rolling eyes at us!

I love our venue, I love the choices we’ve made in decor and clothing, I love the people we’ve chosen to be part of our day and although I’m still a little overwhelmed by how much there still is to do, I’m trying to focus on the part where I’m excited.

The pros of suddenly being unemployed mean I have plenty of time to get everything done (whilst the cons mean my mental health has taken a nose dive and I often don’t have the motivation to do anything… it’s a fun game). Even just glancing at my list of what still needs doing it’s predominantly really specific questions for our coordinator, lots of logistical organisation, and crafting, but I do have a habit of making my to do lists really detailed so even though it’s currently a very long list, it’s all actually very achievable.

Whilst he was at work the other day, my fiancé was given a work phone (he’s been banging on about wanting an iPhone for weeks, so it’s nice that he’s been able to scratch that itch, not that the hyper fixation has worn off!) and he was very proud to show me when he got home that he only set up one contact – he’d added me in with his surname and it was actually quite shocking, I didn’t recognise that it was me! The name thing still freaks me out a bit – it will definitely take some getting used to, but I’ve got the rest of my life to do that!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

October Goals

2022, goals

Hiya,

Well, September didn’t go to plan, at all. At first I thought I was putting off blogging because I was busy and tired, then I realised I was also burnt out, then the country went into National Mourning as the Queen died and my partner had to go into London and miss my birthday to be part of the team broadcasting the events around the funeral, then everything changed at work and I found it incredibly overwhelming, but just as I was getting to grips with it I got wiped out with a cold and had to take time off work, then when I forced myself to work from home on the last day of the week to try and catch up ahead of the following week, and I got fired.

I’m really trying not to follow up ‘I got fired’ with some sort of justification that doesn’t make me sound like the problem, because good people don’t get fired right? But I’ll be battling that one for a while I think.

So I haven’t blogged for a while. My September Goals didn’t really go to plan, I wasn’t expecting to set the October Goals I have but this is where I am. Let’s just get right to it.

  • update CV, cover letter and apply for some jobs

It’s all out of date so needs a revamp, more urgently than anticipated.

  • set up film camera and start taking photos again!

I need to start making time for hobbies that are offline – off my phone or my laptop or my Xbox. I love photography, I’m not very good at it but I can only get better by practising and there’s something beautiful about only having one chance to take a photo.

  • finish planning the wedding!

This is the last full calendar month before I get married. In just a few weeks I will be a wife. That’s still a very surreal thought. I’m so excited to marry my best friend but I am so excited to not be planning this day anymore.

  • writing challenge – 30,000 words

I was literally just thinking about how I was going to post-pone this goal to after the wedding because there was no way I was going to be able to do a full time job and plan a wedding, but then I didn’t have a full time job anymore so might as well throw myself into a writing challenge right?

I don’t have a specific project in mind for this challenge, it’s very much going to be writing whatever I feel like as a form of therapy. And I think that’s okay.

  • monthly goals

– Read 3 books (I haven’t finished a book in two months now, burnout is hitting me hard)
– Date night (we haven’t had a chance to do what my partner planned for my birthday since he got back from the funeral so at least we’ll have a lot more time now)
– Craft project (I have lots to do for the wedding, maybe this will be the first month this year I finish a project)

And that’s it! Normally I have a lot more rambling to do in these posts but as of writing I’m only four days post getting fired so I’m not on top form. But I’ll be making self-deprecating jokes about not having a job for the foreseeable.

For life moments beyond my control is part of the reason I have these goals – as a probably-autistic person, I struggle without routine and I’m not good at sudden change (particularly when it’s not my choice), so at least I have a few things to focus on here.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

September Goals 2022

2022, goals

Hello!

I love September.

Is it the childish part of me that loves the month my birthday is in? Probably. Is it the nerdy part of me that always looked forward to going back to school? Probably. Is it the maybe-autistic part of me that craved routine and structure that school and education gave me so this time of year will forever be associated with new pencil cases, a new timetable and a new start? Almost certainly.

But a culmination of all of that means that I love this time of year – it’s cooling off, my jackets and cardigans start to get some use again and we’re creeping towards Doc Martin season, I love it.

This year, things are very different – I’m two months away from getting married and starting to feel the wedding planning stress that everyone talks about, for the first time probably ever I haven’t been counting down the days till my birthday and it’s snuck up on me and my mental health is pretty shaky right now. I’m in the process of changing over to a new medication and honestly, I’m kind of terrified of how it will effect me with so much other stuff going on, but I have the support of my wonderful family and friends and some surprisingly nice doctors so I’m letting myself trust them (because if I trust my gut, then my gut is full of anxiety and it’s not very reliable).

My August goals were very mixed – I only achieved one goal fully and that was to choreograph a tiktok which I did in approximately thirty minutes. The rest were kind of half finished and in progress with fitness goals, wedding prep and a writing challenge that I absolutely wasn’t prepared for.

I didn’t even finish my reading goal! It’s been a long, stressful month.

But a new month is a fresh start, I have new goals and I’m working on being more forgiving with myself. The key part being ‘working on’.

M Y S E P T E M B E R G O A L S

Start a new morning routine
I’ve been using this weight loss programme called noom (which was a massive waste of money, but that’s for another time) and one of the psychological tricks it’s taught me is ‘habit bundling’, which is taking a habit you already have a training yourself to associate another one with it.

So I want to make time for stretching more (because although I’m not a dancer in any way, shape or form, I still want to work on my flexibility for my ballet classes) and actually doing some body skincare and moisturising my skin every day, so I’m bundling those with brushing my teeth and taking 20 minutes in the morning to do something that’s for me and off a screen! As I’m writing this it’s September 2nd and I’m 2 for 2, so a strong start!

Wardrobe update
I had a go at the 333 challenge last year some time (33 items of clothing in 3 month rotations) and 33 items just isn’t achievable, I don’t think, but I really loved having a seasonal wardrobe and I’ve found it’s been great for making me wear more of what I already have and feeling like I get a ‘new’ set of clothes every few months.

Hopefully we’ve seen the last of these horrible heatwaves, so I’m going to be going through my most summery items, donating the ones I haven’t reached for, packing away the pieces I’ve loved and getting out the warm cosies!

Research ‘producer’ role and find out more about working in TV/Film
Do I see myself working in TV or film in the future? Realistically, no, but that is where the hierarchy of job roles within video media was forged so I want to learn more about it. The thing with working for a start-up is that I’ve been given the role of ‘Media Production Executive’ and the founding member of the media team, but I think having more of a TV like structure could be beneficial for us and I want to figure out more about what the role entails and what I could go on to next in my career, as right now I’m pretty clueless.

Wedding tasks
My wedding is approximately two months away and wow the stress is hitting me really hard at the moment. Here’s the list of things I need to sort this month:

  • confirm bridesmaid’s dresses
  • confirm plans with venders and suppliers
  • go for a dress fitting and schedule alterations
  • buy guest favours
  • write ‘personalised promises’ (non-religious vows)
  • book manicure/pedicure

Alongside appointments for a make-up trial, a florist check in, a fashion show with my bridesmaids trying on options, getting our matching wedding converse embroidered (I know), getting our guest book, sorting my partners shirt, shoes and ties, booking the ushers suits, sorting their shirt, shoes and ties, having a trial manicure, a hair trial, meeting with the coordinator at the venue (twice) and lots of crafting bits and bobs for centre pieces, order of the day signs and a photo board!

I think this explains why I’m stressed.

And my monthly goals that I aim for every month are to read three books, have a date night and do a craft project (which I’ve not successfully completed once this year, but I can dream!).

It’s getting manic and I’m very much looking forward to our mini-moon in Dorset by the sea in November, but for now I’m riding the wave!

And still trying to get used to the concept of calling my silly boy my ‘husband’ and having a different surname!

Lots of big things happening, but it’s exciting too and I’m trying to savour it all.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

What I Read In August

2022, books

Hello!

This blog post could be an incredibly short one because I only managed to read one book this month – I had a lovely weekend with my mum at the end of July where I finished Five Feet Apart, Heartstopper Volume 3 and Heartstopper Volume 4, then starting Stormbreaker – the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz – finishing that relatively quickly ready to move straight on to Point Blank…

Then I spent most of the month in severe burnout so my two prime reading times – audiobooks on my drive to and from work and in bed before I go to sleep – were lost. If I listened to my book while driving it made me dangerously tired, so I had to listen to music instead then in the evenings, I would fall asleep almost scarily quickly the second I got into bed – I wouldn’t have made it through a page.

So Point Blank hasn’t been started, I’ve not finished listening to Daughter of Burning City by Amanda Foody and the amazing start I made in the last weekend of July did not follow through to August.

And you know what… that’s fine.

I think the danger with places like BookTok and Bookstagram is that the popular creators are the kind that can read a 300 page book in just a couple of hours and listen to audiobooks on three times speed (I can’t even fathom being able to listen to it that fast) so their reading goals are, like, 200 books a year and that seems a million miles away from my goal of 36 (which according to Storygraph, I’m still two books ahead of my target!).

I don’t know why I thought blogging about my reading once a month or setting up a bookstagram would make me read faster, because it absolutely doesn’t do that – I love writing reviews, sharing what I’m reading and seeing other people’s posts, but I’m really glad I haven’t starting forcing myself to read faster in order to keep up with the pace that I see others reading.

There’s a fine line between reading for enjoyment and reading to play the numbers game or post about it online, but I’m glad I’ve been able to focus on enjoying reading more than anything else.

So the one book I did finish this month was Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz. Although I’ve owned a box set of the first six books probably since the film came out in 2006 (when I was approximately 10 years old… I’m 26 next month) I’ve never read them and the only thing I had to go on was the film.

The writing style was definitely middle grade / YA, which makes sense with the protagonist being 14 years old, but it was a lovely narrative that well balanced the experience of being a teenage spy and a little bit of a sarcastic know-it-all, but set in the early 2000s so no iPhones or XBoxes! It was very easy to read whilst still being engaging and actually quite funny, which is an all round win from me.

Although I’m 16 years late to making the comparison, the film adaptation was actually very close to the book – it’s a very accurate page to screen transfer but as with every book-to-film, there was just more in the book that made it more exciting. There’s a whole scene where Alex has to swim blind in this underground cave thing to find out what’s going on in the lab with the Stormbreaker production and that would have been so tense on film, but perhaps a little much to watch a teenager nearly drown.

Considering how much I enjoyed reading Stormbreaker, I definitely had (and have) the enthusiasm to launch straight into Point Blank, the second of the six books I own and the now fourteen book series, but the amount of sleep I require to function disagrees.

I’m slowly getting my mojo back and I’m pretty sure I hit my breaking point earlier this week, so hopefully it’s all up from here and maybe I’ll actually get back to reading more consistently! Rather than reading 4-6 books in a month then only reading one, if that.

But that’s the thing about reading as a hobby – it’s not about how much you feel you ‘should’ be reading or the titles you think you ‘should’ be reading – it’s about reading what makes you happy, when you have time for it.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

trying to survive burnout

2022, mental health

Hello,

This past couple of weeks have been a bit of a challenge – the commute to work is feeling harder for some reason, I’ve had lots of evening and weekend plans and it’s been hard to sleep well with these heat waves, which has all added up to feeling like I’m running on empty and wow burnout is exhausting.

But do I have time to rest and recover? Not really – even if I have a weekend with no plans, I’ve got lots of wedding stuff to be doing or errands to run or my mental health takes such a nose dive that I can’t bring myself to get out of bed. Both are pretty inconvenient honestly.

Although I have basically no energy all the time, there are a few things that I’m doing to try and make day to day easier so I thought I’d make the most of being burnt out and get some #content out of it.

  • I choose my outfit for work the night before

I usually do this anyway, but it makes such a difference when getting out of bed is so hard that I can just get dressed without thinking, pack my lunch, get in the car and go. The perks of the warm weather is that generally I just wear a dress and I don’t need a jacket of anything.

If I’m planning on going to the gym and I know I’ll look for any excuse not to go, sometimes I’ll wear my gym wear to work because we don’t have a dress code, it’s very comfortable and I feel like I can’t not go to the gym, because it would be a waste of wearing the clothes to not exercise.

  • plan easy dinners that don’t take too much work

The thought of cooking when you’re burnt out and there’s a heatwave? It’s not the one, in any way.

But I’m also super tight with money and trying to eat healthily, so I’m not ordering takeout every time I can’t be arsed to cook.

Here are three of my favourite easy options:

👉 Microwave rice and frozen vegetables – make the most of your microwave and your freezer – you can get frozen veg that takes two and a half minutes in the microwave, another two minutes for some rice, bish bash bosh! You can add some seasoning or some sauce, have it plain if you really don’t have the energy – easy peasy.

👉 Sausage, mash and peas – sausages in the oven for half an hour – easy. Microwave mash – easy. Microwave frozen peas – easy. If you’re feeling it, you can make some gravy. Low effort, really filling and there’s still some greens on your plate!

👉 Batchelor’s Cheese and Broccoli pasta – basically, I like anything I can cook in the microwave. All you’ve got to do is add water, milk and butter and you have a decent meal – it’s not the healthiest, but it’s not the worst and it’s filling so you won’t feel like you need to fill up on snacks.

  • at work, I write down the most urgent tasks on a post it note to make sure they get done

Being productive when you have nothing to give is so hard but I’m huge for planning out my day and assigning time blocks to all my tasks so if I’m behind or feel really overwhelmed, I’ll look at what I need to do and evaluate what needs to be done before I leave for the day. Prioritising that means I know that it’ll be less stressful for my future work days and being able to tick something off is such a good feeling when you don’t feel like you’ve achieved anything. Then even if you get nothing else done, you’ve done the most important thing and the other tasks will get done when you’re (hopefully) in a better mindset.

Being burnt out is so hard to navigate, especially with how it feels like every headline is piling bad news up to the sky and the thought of giving yourself some time to recover feels impossible. But it will pass and things will feel easier again – be gentle and kind to yourself.

Maybe one day I’ll take my own advice.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

life’s too short to think it’s too late

2022

Hello!

This morning (as I write this), I went for an appointment to be fitted for my first pair of pointe shoes as an adult dancer. I have not been fitted for pointe shoes since I was probably about 10, but I thought if I’m going to put my body through dancing en pointe, I’m definitely going to make sure I’m getting the right support I need for my now-creakier joints!

It was a lovely experience – I went to ‘A Dancer’s World’ in Northampton and there was absolutely no judgement that I’m a plus size lady in her mid twenties who clearly isn’t a professional dancer, they spent plenty of time helping me try lots of shoes and explaining why the ones I ended up getting were the best ones for me.

And they even had lots of options of leotards for me to try! Online, I have found one brand that stock leotards in my size and since I bought one back in the Spring, they’ve stopped doing my size, but having four to choose from felt so amazing (though trying them on in a 30 degree heatwave wasn’t quite so amazing 😂).

Although I’m not a professional dancer and buying this point shoes isn’t for the sake of training or taking exams or anything like that, I’m actually excited to starting dancing in them, getting stronger and pushing myself to improve at something I love!

Over the last month or two whilst I’ve been thinking about this investment, I’ve wondered if there was any point (ba dum tsh) – I’m not training to be a dancer, I’m not even very good at ballet; why would I spend so much money not just on the shoes but the extra class and the time commitment when there won’t be much of a reward in the long term?

Because life is too short not to do things you love! I’m never going to be a prima ballerina and realistically, there’s a huge chance that I’m not really ready for pointe yet, but I’ve been back at dance for a year now and I want to push myself! Is it any different to trying something new at the gym?

I feel like as we get older, trying new things becomes harder not just because of the time, the money and the availability, but because of the social stigma associated with it.

Want to try a new sport? Well there’s a beginner class every other Thursday or England trials are in October. Want to try a new hobby? There’s a children’s sewing class, or a knitting group with mostly elderly ladies who don’t really like change and will look at you like you just stepped on a kitten for even daring to show up to their group.

I can’t think of anymore examples, but I’ve found it’s really difficult to try new things as an adult! But life’s too short to say ‘I’m too old for that’ – if you want to try something, isn’t it better to have tried and looked a bit silly than not tried and always wondered what it was like?

Maybe I’m projecting my own insecurities and no one actually thinks this, but it’s definitely a mental barrier I’ve had to overcome – pushing myself to be a better dancer, doesn’t have to be ‘for’ anything, it can just be to be a better dancer! To get fitter and stronger and to relax in a way that I enjoy.

It’s never too late to try something new, and life’s too short to feel too old!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

August Goals 2022

2022, fitness, goals

Hello!

Is there anything more satisfying than a new month starting on a Monday?

Almost certainly, but it definitely made me happy, that’s for sure!

Last months goals were a bit hit and miss, but it felt productive so even though I didn’t hit all my goals, I definitely made significant progress and that’s what matters in the long run!

This month is a really busy one, with lots of trips to sort wedding stuff, see family and friends, meals out etc, balanced with my dance classes being off for the summer so I thought now would be a good time to try a few sessions with a personal trainer, work is getting busier, and my mental health isn’t at it’s best at the moment… it’s all a bit manic, but thinking ahead and long term is definitely only making it worse so I’m trying to take each day as it comes and listen to my body more to try and stay in tune with what will serve me best. I’m not very good at it but the only way to get better is to practice.

My goals for this month either completely reflect how busy I’m going to be, or pile on even more with no in between, so let’s just get into it.

Choreograph a dance
I know this sounds totally ridiculous and random, but ever time I listen to the song ‘Fresh’ by Artist Vs Poet I want to dance to it, so I thought it would be fun while I don’t have classes this month to choreograph something to the chorus and put it on somewhere like TikTok. Am I a brilliant dancer? Absolutely not. Am I a brilliant choreographer? No, I find it really difficult. But I love dancing and I love the song so I’m going to spend an afternoon letting the dance I feel every time I listen to the song come out!

Fitness Goals
This one is multifaceted!

  • Have a session with a PT
  • Work on strength for pointe work
  • And stretch to try and get my splits again

Shock horror, two of them are dance related. For someone who was discouraged from applying for dance school when I was a teenager, I bang on about it a lot.

The personal trainer is to kind of compensate for not having dance classes, plus I’ve had my gym membership with work for five months and whilst I’m much more confident about going and have made it part of my routine, I have no idea what I’m doing. I had a consultation with a PT the other day who really reiterated how she likes to teach about what muscles each exercise works and why it’s beneficial and I’m really excited for my first session next week.

The pointe work thing – I’m buying my first pair of pointe shoes in eight years this month and I want to try going on pointe again, but I know I need to work on my balance, my calf strength and my stamina first, so these are some of my gym goals for the month.

And the splits… Now that I’ve been back dancing multiple times a week for a year, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my flexibility but I’ve never consistently had my splits, so now’s the time to work on it!

Wedding Goals
Another multifaceted one!

  • Shop for bridal gifts
  • Determine final ceremony and reception plans
  • Buy guest book (or equivalent)

The bridal gifts I have in hand – my bridesmaids are all under 12, so I’ve got them little personalised make up bags, a personalised compact mirror and I want to get them a nice lip gloss (or something make-up-y!) and some jewellery to go with their dresses (which I haven’t got yet because they are small and there’s a risk they might grow!). I’m on track with this so this will be a nice easy one.

Can you tell the other two points have come straight from a ‘step by step guide to plan your wedding’ list?! But both are also in hand!

Also this month I’m hoping my dress will come in (eeeee!), I’ve got a trial for an application tan to make me look ever so slightly less transparent, we’ve got our appointment with the council to ‘give notice’, I need to research the bridesmaids dresses, then next month I have a make-up trial, a flower consultation, a nail trial, a hair consultation and probably a bunch of other stuff to do! It’s busy, but exciting (though I am also looking forward to not having to plan anymore).

40,000 word writing challenge
I meant what I said about making my life difficult for myself.

I’ve mentioned it time and time again (sorry) but I love creative writing, but I’m really bad at making time for it, so doing these challenges gives me the chance to actually do some writing and ensures I make time to do it!

I’ve picked a few word prompts to inspire me for a few short stories and I’ve already written about 3000 words of one that I’m really enjoying so although finding the time to write can be challenging, I am enjoying it.

Every Month Goals

  • Read three books
  • Save money (done on payday, go me!)
  • Date night!
  • Craft project

And that’s it!

‘That’s it’ – like it’s not about 10 goals pretending to be 5.

But time management and lists have always been my thing and the best I can do is try, so here’s to trying!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

What I Read in July

2022, books

Hello!

I have absolutely adored reading this month – other than the disgusting record-breaking heatwave in the middle of the month, I have very much enjoyed taking some time outside with my book, whether it’s on my lunch break, after work or in the evening.

For the first time since I discovered Audible, I have finished more paperback books than audiobooks this month and I’ve really enjoyed being able to get properly stuck in to a book and getting so engrossed that you accidentally turn the page before you’ve actually finished reading it (or is that just me?).

I’ve read six books this month and they were:

King of Fools, Amanda Foody – 4 stars

This is the one I accidentally read out of order because I didn’t double check it, but actually having listened to the third instalment in the trilogy, it felt almost like listening to a prequel where you know how it ends but how they get to that point feels like a million miles away and I ended up with an hour left in the book with lots of major plot points still to come to fruition!

The whole Ace of Shades series was actually brilliant and when I’m off my book buying ban next year I might buy the physical editions because I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The Mismatch, Sara Jafari – 5 stars

I honestly can’t explain how much I loved this book – I loved the insight of a British born Iranian girl and her inner conflict as a non-practicing Muslim and living in a culture that doesn’t understand how she was raised, trying to figure out how her feelings for a white rugby player align with her family’s values. Alongside the juxtaposition of her mother’s story from when she was the same age living in Iran, meeting her husband, getting married, moving to England and the similarities and differences between herself and her daughter.

One of the easiest 5 star ratings I’ve given.

Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse, Alex Kingston – 2 stars

I was so excited to read a story about a character written by the actress who played that character, but at the end of the day – it was a book written by an actress, not a writer. The whole thing was a bit too over the top, the story was really slow and dull for the first part with a dual narrative of River Song in prison writing her book and the book she’s writing about detective Melody Malone, but then River ends up in her own story and that bit is never really explained. It probably would have made an interesting one-off Doctor Who special but it was a slog to read. I was really disappointed.

Five Feet Apart, Rachel Lippincott – 5 stars

Did I initially buy this book because the cover was pretty and I saw the trailer for the film with Cole Sprouse? Absolutely. Do I have any regrets? Not one. I immediately felt connected to the major characters – Stella and Will – because they felt so authentic; teenagers with a terrible disease that have had to come to terms with their own mortality, living in a hospital and always being cautious that those around them could give them the infection that kills them. It was heartfelt and heartbreaking in equal measure and I cannot wait to watch the film now to see if it lives up to the beautiful writing of the book.

Heartstopper Volume 3, Alice Oseman – 5 stars

I. Am. Obsessed. With. This. Series. I still don’t know if I’m converted to graphic novels but I adore Nick and Charlie, I loved this story, I want to wrap myself up in this universe and protect these boys at all costs. Their trip to Paris was adorable, I love how wholesome they are and how open they are about how communication is hard – they’re both teenagers who have questions about everything, but are figuring out the balance between not making themselves feel stupid, not being a burden to anyone and wanting to be loved.

I wish there was more and I absolutely cannot wait till the next season is released on Netflix.

Heartstopper Volume 4, Alice Oseman – 5 stars

These chapters were definitely the heaviest of the story so far, with a lot of focus on mental health and the place of a partner within that difficult balance. Whilst it braced these more serious topics, it did it with these wonderful comedic moments, the same wholesome, adorable relationship and learning the communicate with each other without unnecessary arguments. Honestly I would rate this series with all the stars in the sky, there are no words to explain how happy my heart feels. I’m going to rewatch the Netflix show.

So overall, a very successful reading month!

I’m currently listening to Daughter of a Burning City, by Amanda Foody which definitely isn’t as engaging as the Ace of Shades series and is feeling very long and slow, and then I have a new method of picking my next paperback read…

I started a tbr jar! I had a lovely afternoon typing everything up, cutting all the titles out and folding them up into a jar but now I can just pick what I want next out of there! I’m not being super strict on whether I have to read what I choose because that’s just going to make reading feel like a chore, but what I’ve settled on for my next read is the Stormbreaker series by Anthony Horowitz – if I don’t like the first one I won’t read the rest, but because they’re middle-grade/YA I’ll probably get through them quite quickly which will be nice!

August is the month I’m also doing another writing challenge so my reading might suffer, but hopefully I’ll be able to manage the two!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

learning to do things badly

2022, lifestyle

Hello!

The first words I went to type on this post is ‘I love trying new things’, but I paused to allow myself to recognise that this is a lie I’ve told myself because I think it’s something I wish is true.

But it’s absolutely not.

What I love is finding new things I’m good at. If I’m not good at it, I find it really hard to be patient enough to put in the time and practice to become good at it and I’m becoming ever more aware of how impatient I am as a person and I really want to work on it.

Time management, on the other hand, is something I’ve become quite good at – over years of making to do lists, expecting too much from myself and beating myself up for not being ‘more productive’ I’ve found a much better balance of appreciating how long thing’s actually take and assigning tasks accordingly (especially around spending 10 hours a day in work or travelling there and back, there’s not a lot of time for much else!).

But what I want to do now is allow myself to spend time doing something that isn’t ‘productive’ and I’m not good at and being okay with it. I love the idea of doing some painting or drawing and just allowing myself to be creative with shapes and colours but I know I’ll very quickly get frustrated when I can’t produce the image that’s in my head.

And that’s what I need to work on – getting better at going with the flow and enjoying the process rather than worrying about the result. Or, on the other hand, giving myself the time to learn something – I see all these amazing crochet tiktoks of ‘basic’ crafts people make and I’m like how the heck did you do that because I just can’t wrap my head around it. But if I gave myself the time to go slow, practice and get better then soon I’ll be able to make all the adorable crochet animal projects I like! Or crochet clothes, I’ve seen so many cute cardigans and pretty outfits that people have crocheted for themselves.

Even with my Cricut machine – I find the learning process intimidating so I end up not using it at all, but I have lots of ideas of things I’d like to make and whether I need to find a course on YouTube or go to a workshop at Hobbycraft, I want to make the effort to use it! Because my partner very generously bought me one for my birthday and I’ve definitely not given it the time or attention it deserves.

And to be honest, I think giving myself this space to do things I’m ‘bad’ at, learning the patience to practice and conquering that overwhelming feeling will be skills that are beneficial to me outside of crafting hobbies.

Some things I’d like to start with are:

  • art / painting
  • crochet
  • using my Cricut
  • playing the piano
  • sewing

Basically any material craft, but also music.

It’s a work in progress, but progress is all we can try to do.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx