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

Advertisement

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang | Book Review

2022, books, review

Hello!

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

February Reading Wrap-Up

2022, books

Hello!

Another month has flown by and I’m so glad for it – the mornings are lighter, the evenings are lighter, but it’s still cold enough to wear cosy sweaters, thick tights and boots. I can’t lie, I’m mostly excited for pay day – January was long and that money disappeared very quickly, so I’m glad February is a short month!

I read 4 books this month so I’m roughly keeping up with the one I week I started in January. I would have squeezed in another audiobook but I tested positive for covid last weekend so I’ve been working from home so I haven’t been driving into the office and have lost 10 hours of driving time (great for my car mileage, less great for my book listening time). Could I have spent that time at home listening to a book? Yes, but I spent most of it sleeping and I have no regrets.

The first book I finished was Grand Theft Astro by Scott Meyers – I picked this one from the Audible Plus catalogue because it sounded fun, then I let my partner choose my next listen and I’m pretty sure he picked this one because of the pun on the video game Grand Theft Auto. But unfortunately there’s a reason this one is in the Audible Plus free catalogue and doesn’t appear on on Storygraph or Goodreads or anything – it was terrible. The narrator sounded bored out of her skull and I know it’s Sci-Fi but sometimes the techy descriptions went on for so long. The intricacies of a telekinetic wooly jumper and how it’s being used to commit intergalactic crime were incredibly dull. The issue with an emotionless character devoid of personality is it gives me nothing to care about – I didn’t care that she was sick, I didn’t care that they couldn’t find a cure, I didn’t care about anything. This one was a slog and I’m glad I got it out the way early in the month. 1 star.

Next, I finished Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher, the sequel to Billy and Me that I read in January. I described the first one as an average easy-read contemporary romance and the sequel was much the same but with significantly less romance and a painfully predictable ending. It’s been less than a month and I can barely remember what happened, but I know for certain that I’d rather have read a story about strong independent business owner Sophie and the relationship she had with her mother following the passing of her father and the blending of her family with a new one. The romance was the least interesting bit and I really don’t think Sophie and Billy should have stayed together. I don’t know if it’s worthy of 2 stars, but I really don’t think it deserves 3 stars. Will probably donate the series to the charity shop!

Meanwhile, I was listening to Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody on Audible – I think this was another one on Audible Plus and I’ve seen lots of people on tiktok talking about it so I made the most of it whilst it didn’t cost me any extra! YA Fantasy seems to be the genre for me because I lapped it up like a teenage girl – a fantastically built universe with interesting, different but utterly believable magical elements and authentic characters makes for a fantastic story. As soon as my next Audible credit came in, I downloaded the sequel and when I’m back at work I will be jumping straight in on my commute. A 5 star read that I’m very excited to read the second and third instalment of.

And my fourth and final read of the month is Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron – another one that has been all over tiktok. The concept sounded interesting but I can’t quite get over the overt sexism and how ridiculous it all is. Sophia as a protagonist was incredibly annoying, her relationship with Constance came out of nowhere and makes no sense. It’s the side of YA that I feel I’m too old for – the mentality that a teenager knows everything and will change the world and the naïvety to believe they can. Unrelated to the story, the book was bound in a way that made it very difficult to bend the pages and one of the pages ripped which was incredibly upsetting. Not worth the hype and felt too much like box ticking for me. 2 stars.

It’s been a month of extremes, with star ratings at both ends of the scale but I’m still feeling really excited about reading – I’ve managed month 2 of my year of book buying ban and although there’s no way I’ll finish everything on my tbr by the end of the year, I like that I’m making a dent.

Thank for you for reading,

Sophie xx

every book I read in 2021

2022, books

Hello!

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

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

(add me here)

Without further ado – my 2021 reads:

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

So my favourite books of the year were:

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

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

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

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Treasured In… January

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

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

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

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

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

  • Purchase

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

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

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

  • Recipe

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

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

  • YouTube video

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

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

What Is Autism? | DSM-5 ASD Diagnostic Criteria

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

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

I have a secret… | Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

  • What I’m watching

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

  • Books I’ve read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie xx

YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram