Treasured In… June

2020, books, film

Hello!

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

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


blog post:

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

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

recipe:

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

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

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

online course:

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

song:

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

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

youtube video:

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

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

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

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

books:

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

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

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

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

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

snack:

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

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

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

tv/film/streaming thing:

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

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

wedding planning update:

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


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

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

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

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals – Mid Year Check In

2020, books, career, goals, student

Hello!

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

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

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

PROFESSIONAL:

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

PERSONAL:

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

Home:

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

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

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

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

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

Sophie xx

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Treasured in… May

2020, books, creativity, film, lifestyle, student

Hello!

As we come to the end of our second full calendar month in lockdown, little posts like this full of things I enjoyed and want to share are more important than ever. Everywhere I look people are complaining about the government, singing the praises of the NHS and arguing about what are appropriate social distancing activities (though how anyone could defend packed beaches I really don’t know) so having this little list of happy things will be a nice little mood boost for me as well as you!

Here are my the things I treasured in May!


blog post:

I really made more of an effort to read more this month – I’ve been on the hunt for bloggers that don’t exclusively talk about beauty, fashion or other stereotypical ‘successful blogger’ categories. I really want to find people like me who don’t necessarily blog for income, writing about the ramblings trapped in their heads and talking about all their random hobbies without limiting themselves to a ‘niche’.

I’m still hunting, but these two blog posts from YouTube influencers I follow were topical and well written.

recipe:

I don’t think I’ve tried anything that particularly blew me away this month – I made this creamy chicken chorizo pasta bake which was nice but we’re not rushing to make it again. I’m still really enjoying the bacon and pea risotto that I linked last month, I’ve somewhat rediscovered a good jacket potato and we made a really nice lasagne but it all came out of jars so it wasn’t anything to do with my ability to cook!

Top tip for ‘homemade out of jars lasagne’ – use a Mac and Cheese sauce rather than a white sauce, it worked really well for us and is making me hungry just thinking about it!

online course:

Again, this month I didn’t find anything new – I had one last big assignment to finish off my semester 2 work for my masters and with lockdown and a generally not good course, my friend and I who were working together on it (group project, not cheating I promise!) spent more time teaching ourselves than knowing what we were doing.

So I learnt a lot about the Maya animation software, modelling environments, materials, different animation types and multi-camera set ups, but I didn’t find a course online to take myself.

Next month I’ll be starting all the self-teaching I have to do for my dissertation project so I’ll be rambling all about designing a video game, making a 2D animation and writing scripts for both!

music:

The only time I really listen to music is when I’m cooking – when I’m trying to write or work, it means I can’t concentrate and if I’m knitting or doing my cross stitch I use it as an excuse to catch up on YouTube videos (I’m 300 videos deep on my watch later…).

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been craving a bit of nostalgia so my partner has been finding playlists on Spotify along the lines of ‘year 6 disco’ and ‘the best of the 2000s’ and we’ve been listening to everything from S Club 7, Steps, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers to Bob The Builder’s ‘Big Fish Little Fish’. Thoroughly recommend a throwback disco if you need a little boost!

YouTube video:

Most of the YouTubers I’m subscribed to are vloggers, so watching vaguely ‘normal’ home life vlogging has been most of what I’m watching and it’s been nice to feel that little bit ‘normal’ by watching the creators I’ve been following for years just living their daily lives.

So I’m going to use this section this month to talk about one of my own videos – it’s currently unlisted on my channel because it’s for a uni assignment and I always feel funny about publishing my work while it’s still being marked (so it’s a fun little secret for my blog!). But this is the animation my friend Agata and I made for our assignment – the main character is animated from motion capture data and we built pretty much everything in the environment ourselves.

I’m so ridiculously proud of this little animation and I loved working on it with one of my best friends (even if we did the majority of the work in the three days before it was due…), so here is Life After Lockdown; a little topical comedy animation for our  assignment.

books I’ve read:

loved this book – this take on life after death and the way the characters have conflict without antagonising each other (except Evie’s mum, she was actually evil). It was one of those books that made you think about what life after death really is like – I genuinely think this is a pretty good idea and worth a read in these challenging times.

I read this because my boyfriend loves the Game Grumps and recommended it but it wasn’t for me – I didn’t find it funny but it felt like they were trying way too hard to be funny, the murder mystery was a bit too Scooby Doo for me, but it was entertaining enough.

This book is taking me actual weeks to get through – I like the writing style, but it feels almost non-fiction and there are so many characters that Pomerantz clearly expects the reader to remember who they are, how they were relevant and details about their life and career. It’s about a plane crash and it’s really depressing and long and there’s not much of a story yet and I’m about 75% through? I think the main thing putting me off is that on the back it declares that this back will become a classic but… it definitely hasn’t and I just can’t vibe with someone arrogant enough to assume their work deserves to become a classic. But I’m nearly done and a review will be on my Instagram when I do!

snack: 

I never thought I particularly liked minty chocolate – I can appreciate a few After Eights at Christmas and maybe a packet of softmints every now and then but not big on mint. I thought I’d prefer plain chocolate aero bubbles to the mint aero bubbles but my boyfriend opened my eyes and I have to stop myself buying them or I will eat the entire packet.

I also picked up a packet of Tesco’s own Salted Caramel Munch Bars thinking it would be an easy breakfast option – they’re really good but they’re so not good for you in any way that I’d be better off going back to a slice of toast in the mornings. But they’re really yummy and if you’re not really a breakfast person then something is better than nothing right?

visual entertainment: 

I’ve not watched any new TV this month but my mum, my sister, my boyfriend and I have started a remote film club using a 52 Week challenge book my mum picked up on Amazon – 52 challenges, divided by 4 people means 13 categories each. This month we watched Pulp Fiction, Eighth Grade, Dumbo (the live action one) and Top Gun and I’m really enjoying the excuse to watch all the ‘classic’ films I haven’t seen but should have as well as some newer films that I want to see.

Pulp Fiction was an interesting choice and having done a unit where one of my lecturers tried to teach us artsy-fartsy film theory (when he shouldn’t have been) it did make it more interesting to think about the decisions the director made, but then I thought about if a film makes you think about the decisions the director made and takes you out of being fully immersed, is it really a well made film? Either way! Eighth Grade was fun and a really accurate portrayal of life as a 13 year old, Dumbo was alright but I prefer the original (and Colin Farrell’s character was literally useless) and Top Gun was an action for the sake of action, ‘put it on in the background’ kind of film that really proved that Tom Cruise literally only plays one character in all his films.

Other than that I’ve watched a lot of Kim Possible on Disney+…

wedding planning update: Before lockdown, I attended a couple of wedding fairs and one of them was near my old hometown. There we spoke to a lady who was representing the most beautiful venue near a lake that my boyfriend and I are very sentimental about. It was beautiful, it’s a great location and it makes me feel a little bit emosh just thinking about it! We’re 90% sure it’s the venue we want to go with but we don’t have the deposit money yet. However, with two months of lockdown, people are re-planning weddings for years to come and our date of November 2022 is looking like it’s going to get infringed on quite quickly, so I want to contact the venue and at least get our foot in the door for our date so we don’t lose it. Otherwise, there’s nothing much more I can do in lockdown other than coming up with more and more ideas on Pinterest…

So I’ve not done any wedding planning this month but we have reached this decision, so there’s a bit of progress there!


On the one hand, I hope that the country is safe enough for some restrictions to be lifted in June so we can do more things, I can visit my family etc, but I really don’t want restrictions to be lifted early just because people are getting grumpy about not having their hair cut, so I’m apprehensive.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I’m cutting down my screentime

2020, books, creativity, lifestyle, mental health, writing

Hello!

I know that I don’t need to reiterate that quarantine is hard, we all know that, but one thing a lot of us have inadvertently spent a lot more time doing is looking at screens – from scrolling through Instagram, to working from home with a less regimented schedule, to Netflix to video games; so much of our entertainment is on screens.

Something I’m noticing more and more recently is that spending all day going from my phone to my laptop to the TV and back isn’t doing me any good – I don’t think it’s helping my sleep and I know I feel better when I’ve spent some time away.

I thought I’d collate a little list of the off-screen things I’m really enjoying at the moment so I can come back so it when I’m feeling a bit uninspired and maybe it’ll give you some ideas too!


  • cross stitch

I bought one of those little kits from Hobbycraft before everything closed and then ignored it for weeks. So when the weather picked up I sat outside with my cross stitch and it was lovely – I’ve been doing it on and off and I’ve nearly finished it now. It’s lovely to sit down and follow a pattern and make something creative – something that takes just enough brain power to keep you occupied but not enough brain power that it’s too hard. I’ve just bought a new kit from Etsy and I’m really excited about it.

  • knitting

I swear I have other creative hobbies that aren’t related to sewing. In my house I have one set of knitting needles and one ball of wool, but my mum sent me a pattern to make ‘ear savers’ which is essentially a headband to make face masks more comfortable for front line medical staff so I’m learning new stitches and hopefully I’ll actually be able to make something useful. Once you’ve nailed the new stitches it’s very therapeutic too!

  • making lists with coloured pens

Post-quarantine lists, things to do in quarantine, daily to do lists, weekly meal plans – everything is more exciting when you use coloured pens.

  • skincare

Spending even 5 minutes just to look after your skin and moisturise, maybe doing a face mask or a foot mask – it feels like a nice to make that time to treat yourself! Go all out and have a bath if you like, I have to wait for our new bath plug to arrive though and that’s a bit anticlimactic.

  • reading

I know I’ve been banging on about reading a lot this year but considering my goal for 2020 was 12 books and I just finished my 20th and I’m feeling more creatively driven by reading and writing than I’ve felt in an awfully long time, I’m justifiably excited about it. With the weather being typically British (unpredictable), reading is the perfect activity for sitting out in the garden catching some of that vitamin D or snuggled inside while the wind does its best to tear the trees down. So many of us have an ongoing ‘to be read’ pile and we might as well make the most of trying to cut it down a little whilst we’re encouraged to stay indoors.

  • gardening

I don’t necessarily mean landscaping your garden to make raised vegetable beds and only eating your own homegrown produce this summer! I mean making the most of the space you have (a windowsill, a balcony, any outside space) and growing something – there’s so many lovely indoor plants that can flourish at this time of year.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive – I bought a bag of soil, a small set of pots, a selection of flower seeds, some basic tools and gardening gloves in my weekly Asda shop for less than £20 and the joy of watching the seeds I planted turn into little shoots and flourishing is so satisfying and going out and watering them every day is incredibly therapeutic. I have to resist buying more every time I go shopping!

If you’re not sure where to start, I believe you can buy kitchen windowsill herb kits and grow the seasonings you use to cook! Our kitchen doesn’t have a window so I’ve opted for flowers this year but I definitely want to try tomatoes, peppers and courgettes next year!

  • journalling

If the world feels a bit big right now, I can’t express anything more therapeutic than getting all your feelings out on paper. It usually makes me feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest, sometimes it’s just a little bit so I can take a slightly bigger breath and sometimes I feel light as air but getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper is so healthy.

Then if you want you could even destroy the paper – I think I’m going to ceremoniously burn my journal when I’m finished with it. I can pretend it’s symbolic about a ‘chapter of my life ending’ but let’s be real; 1) a fire pit in the summer with friends is the best so might as well provide some kindling, 2) same applies to a BBQ, 3) there’s some parts of my life documented in that journal that I would really enjoy destroying and 4) it probably would be quite symbolic and provide a nice sense of closure.

The destroying isn’t the key part – it doesn’t even have to be on paper; you could make a private social media account that’s just for you, you could do it on the notes app on your phone or have a document on your computer. You can do it however you want in whatever medium you want, but I thoroughly recommend it.


If you’ve got any hobbies or activities that you’ve taken up during quarantine – whether to spend more time offline or to help your mental health – leave them in a comment below! We can make a big master post of ideas!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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2020 book releases I’m excited for

2020, books

Hello!

I’m back on my reading hype big time this year – last year my goal was to read 12 books and I managed 9, this year I set the same goal and I’m already onto my 11th book of the year (follow me on goodreads for full updates). That means I can justify pre-ordering more books right…?

It’s not like I have probably 100+ more books waiting to be read but that’s fine. I’m on track to read nearly 50 books this year so… take from that what you will.

There’s a few new releases that I’m really looking forward to this year, so I thought for anyone with similar reading tastes to me, I’d collate them all into one place – enjoy!

The Eve Illusion – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

I’ve been waiting for the announcement of this sequel ever since I read ‘Eve of Man’ last October – it was one of the only books I bought last year because I was in the transition of moving and didn’t have access to any of my other books. I devoured it in about three days – I love the style, I love the characters, I love the concept and I pre-ordered the sequel as soon as it was announced.

If you like YA adventure, dystopian, romance, Eve of Man is the book for you. Even if you don’t like any of those things, I recommend giving it a go because wow it blew me away. I am so excited for the sequel.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I read Matt Haig’s non-fiction book ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’ earlier this year and whilst I felt the whole thing was a bit disjointed and I don’t know if I really learnt anything, I liked his style and the way he thinks about life. The Midnight Library is a fiction book about a place between life and death, exploring the ‘what if’s’ and ‘what could have been’s’ and it’s not really like anything I’ve ever read before.

I don’t often ‘take a chance’ on books like this – I usually wait till I’ve seen some hype on instagram or stick with the authors who’s work I know I’m going to enjoy. I’m excited to see what Haig’s fiction style is like! And I pre-ordered this one on my kindle so I’m looking forward to using that again too.

The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow – Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

I’ve been following Zoe’s work for a very long time – I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘loyal fan’, but I have consistently enjoyed her content and products. The original Zoella Beauty moisturiser scent is to die for and I have read the first two Girl Online books (I posted a review on my YouTube channel that has a surprising number of views!) and I bought Cordially Invited the day it came out… that was a coincidence to be honest, but I’m kind of accidentally loyal to whatever she brings out.

However the fact she’s collaborating with another author and the way she’s spoken about writing this novel has really hit me where I love creative writing – the passion for the characters and the plot and the words just tumbling out of your fingers in a way that sometimes surprises you as you’re writing it. I can’t help but get behind a passion project like that.

I’m yet to pre-order it because in these coronavirus times, pre-ordering books is not a priority but I think I’m going to opt for getting this one on my kindle too. I’m not normally into crime but I am a sucker for YA so I’m looking forward to branching out my reading habits this year.

Other honourable mentions go to Carrie Hope Fletcher’s modern retelling of Ballet Shoes (which I believe is coming out this year?), Hank Green’s A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour (though I’m yet to read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing) and I believe Louise Pentland is currently writing too?

Maybe I only read books written by people who make YouTube videos, but that’s why I’m trying to branch out. We’ll get there! I have a lot of backlog in my personal library that I need to catch up on so I’m finding lots of new authors there.

If you’ve got any recommendations please do let me know! I’m seriously considering altering my YouTube/Instagram pages to become exclusively books because I’m so excited about talking about books at the moment. I keep my goodreads and Instagram up to date with what I’m reading if you’re interested and I’m posting a video at the weekend of all the books I’ve read so far this year so subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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November Goals ’19

2019, goals, lifestyle, organisation, writing

Hello!

How is it nearly the end of the year? My favourite month September went by in a FLASH and now it’s November and I feel like time is going by quicker than I can keep track of it! Not that I’m complaining – I’m getting better at handling the passing of time and I’m getting excited about the prospect of the future and a career again.

Rambles aside, it’s time for a new set of monthly goals – if nothing springs to mind I always refer back to my goals for the year that I set in January which helps me focus and make progress on my mid-term goals. Little top tip for you there! If you’d like a post about how I set goals then please do let me know, this is something I’d love to pursue but I feel like I haven’t achieved enough to warrant making this an aspect of my career.

I’m rambling again! Onto the goals…

One – be more productive with uni work
I don’t mean in the ‘getting more done’ sense, I mean working more consistently and achieving more in the long run if that makes sense. At the moment, I’m slowly trucking away and then I have to work just that little bit harder in the two or three days before an assignment is due to finish off. Even if I spread that work out over a week, I can work in shorter periods and get more done and work on more assignments at a time.

To implement this (another goal setting time – don’t just make goals, plan how to achieve them!) I think I need to start breaking my time down into more scheduled chunks. I’ve always been against this because I’ve taken the mindset that a task will take however long it takes but if I’m spending hours dragging my feet through one task, I’d probably be better off going and doing something else and coming back to it. SO if I set myself an hour of working on one assignment and then I’m going to spend an hour doing some reading for another unit and then an hour writing blog posts then I’ve at least made some progress in all three elements rather than taking all day to reach the point I wanted on a certain assignment.

Two – settle into my new job and the new routine
Getting a job has taken longer than I anticipated because I spent so long looking for jobs in the place where we were going to move and then we ended up moving somewhere else and then there was complications with my applications in the place we actually move to then there were complications with start dates but I’m finally due to start my new retail job next week.

I’ve made this one of my goals because my original intention was not to work in retail – I wanted an office job where I could refine my admin skills, but I just don’t really know where to look and the job I now have actually fits really well with where we live and where my boyfriend works so I just need to give myself permission to potentially enjoy it. I think I might be working in the homeware department so that’s always exciting!

Three – eat a bit more healthily and track my weight again
Now that we’ve moved and I’ve got a bit more control about what I’m eating (and I’ve rediscovered how much I love vegetables) I feel ready to start making small life changes to get back to the healthier lifestyle I had this time last year.

Being brutally hones, I’ve put on about seven pounds since my lowest weight of this year but you know what? That’s really not a massive setback and I can see lots of really obvious habits in my life that I can adapt so I’m looking forward to the challenge in a way.

Four – finish two books!
I made a good dent in catching up on my reading goal of 12 books for the year in September/October but fell off the wagon a bit with moving stress but I’d really like to be back on track by the beginning of December.

I’m currently reading ‘Our Stop’ by Laura Jane Williams and next I’ll be reading ‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F. E. Higgins.

Five – NaNoWriMo/write every day
And last but not least – another writing challenge! This is what I’ve been training for all year and I actually don’t feel prepared at all but as with the first week of any writing challenge I do, I’m excited – the key now it’s to maintain that momentum.

Although the goal is to hit 50,000 words, I’m not too fussed about the word count because I haven’t had the time to plan the novel redraft that I wanted to write, I’ve got a masters to get and a life to deal with but my focus is making writing a habit. I will be writing a combination of my original novel, a bit of fanfiction and some creative writing exercises just to get words on paper. I did consider including blog posts and any uni writing I have to do but I feel like that’s taking the mick a little bit!

My wrimo profile is sophiecountsclouds, if anyone wants to add me!

So those are my focuses for November! Writing these posts always motivates me – I love a new start and a new month just gives me a little boost and after how hectic October was, I needed that.

Bonus question – I started drafting a blog post during the week of a ‘day in the life of a masters student’ and I started feeling very insecure about whether this would actually be interesting to anyone? So let me know if you have any thoughts on that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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top 10 in my tbr

2019, books

Hello!

I’ve blogged before about how reading was such a big part of my childhood and I’m really hoping to rekindle that love this year. I’ve set a goodreads goal of 12 books this year and I’m on track at the moment!

I’ve got a list in my bullet journal of some of the books on my shelf that I haven’t yet read (though I have just found another chunk of books that I have since added to my shelf!) and I thought I would have a little ramble about the books I’m most excited to read!

Genre isn’t something that normally sells me on books – I like fantasy adventure, I like romantic chick lit, I love dystopian fiction, I like magic and interesting characters and open discussions about taboos like mental health and disabilities amongst other traits that make characters a little bit different.

There are other books that I want to read but at the moment I’m not letting myself buy anything until I’ve read everything I’ve already got, so these are my top 10 books that I’m most excited to read from my ‘to be read’ list!

The book based on the cover and blurb alone seems like one of those Lord of the Rings-esque historical fantasy books and I used to be super into those. A lot of my books were bought from this discount warehouse my family used to go to on holiday when I was a teenager and I’m catching up on the books I bought then. This is one of them – I’m still intrigued by the concept even now I’m in my 20s.

On the other end of the scale, concepts of a human future where something drastic has changed is an interesting thing to explore in fiction – the Hunted explores a world where humanity has sacrificed fertility and children are a commodity (I think?) and I don’t know much more about it than that. I’m not sure how Shearer is going to explain how humans got to this stage so I’m really interested to see how thought out this book is.

The blurb seems like a stereotypical ‘boy meets wildly different girl and somehow they make it work’ but the main reasons I want to read this book are 1) it’s super hyped and I want to see if it’s worth all the positive reviews and 2) the cover is pretty. Mostly 2.

I wanted to write ‘I’m a huge fan of John Green’ and I am – I love the content he makes on YouTube and I still haven’t watched the fault in our stars movie because I loved the book and I didn’t know if it would translate well on film but I haven’t read any of his other books and I ‘looking for alaska’ is one of the only books I’ve never finished. Unless you count the books I was meant to read for my english literature a level. I know that when TATWD came out it got a lot of glowing reviews for its characterisation of mental health and I’m genuinely excited to read the book for that reason.

‘Fangirl’ stands as one of my favourite books of all time – ‘Carry On’ is the spin off, full length version of the fanfiction written by the main character. I want to reread ‘Fangirl’ before I read ‘Carry On’ but if they ever make a film of the book, I want to be in it. Just wanted to get that in writing.

Another one purely for the hype except I’m literally a decade late to the party – it’s a book I bought cheap and I want to see if I like or if I’m going to donate it to the charity shop but it’s another one with an interesting concept!

More hype/film adaptation hype. Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are in the film and I silently watched bits of the film over someone’s shoulder on a plane once and I liked the look of it. The main thing putting me off is the fact it’s a chunky book and I’m a fairly slow reader, but the picture of Lily Collins on the front is a good selling point.

The sequel to ‘if I stay’ which I think had a film adaptation that looked pretty rubbish, but I actually enjoyed the book a lot about seven years ago when I read it. I want to read both books in succession and remind myself what I liked about it. I always found it funny that by calling the sequel ‘where she went’ suggests an answer to the title of the first book ‘if I stay’ and that still makes me laugh.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise this was a sequel until I was finding the Amazon link but this one was a cheap buy with a pretty cover. ‘Be With Me’ seems like one of those easy read YA-chick-lit-esque books that I’d take on holiday or read after finishing a heavier book. Maybe I need to invest in the original!

Do I read most books because of hype and film adaptations? Potentially but I know very little about this book, but I love a sob story and ‘dying girl’ seems like a character that fulfils this desire.

Some of these books are really new, some of these books are a bit older but I’m really excited to read all of them – there’s only four books left on my reading goal for the year but I’m not limiting myself to only 12, if I want to start book 13 you can be sure I’m going to!

I’m currently reading Wilde Women by Louise Pentland and I’m thoroughly enjoying it – this series of books is really comforting and I whole heartedly recommend them if you enjoy watching family vlogs on YouTube because it’s like reading a cosy family vlog, I love it.

What books do you enjoy reading? Are there anything you think I’m missing out on? Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my list!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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training to write a book

2019, books, goals, writing

Hello!

For four of the seven months of this year so far, I’ve set myself ‘writing challengers’ of writing a certain amount of words in so many days. It started at 20k, then 25k, 30k, 35k and in August I’m aiming to write 40,000 words.

All of this is my way of training myself to write an increasing amount of words per day to work up to the 50,000 words in 30 days that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – an online community aiming to write a novel in a month!).

My history with creative writing started all the way back in October 2008 when I was on a family holiday and I found a loose tile at the bottom of the swimming pool and I was inspired to write my own story inspired by the characters in BBC’s Merlin (what a throwback) so my journey with fanfiction began.

From there, I was writing every single night sat in front of the TV with my family – whether it be a notebook, my laptop or my iPad I was always writing from 2008 all the way through to 2015 really when I left for uni. In 2011 I gave my first attempt at NaNoWriMo but only made it to the 15/16k mark – in 2012 I won NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of my novel that one day I’ve vowed to publish and I’ve told my best friend Katy she can play the lead female character when it gets made into a film too so I’ve got to keep that promise.

Then I went to uni. And I spent evenings with friends rather than alone watching TV and writing fanfiction and developing my own novel – at various points over my degree I tried to get back into it but I just didn’t have the time or the motivation to properly invest myself in writing again.

And then came the year after I graduated where I couldn’t get a job to start my career and I’m back in my childhood bedroom but I’m 22 and my long term boyfriend is with me.

Either way, I had much more time to dedicate to writing! I tried NaNoWriMo again in 2018 but it really is a challenge, however it gave me the drive to rediscover what I loved about creative writing and get back into it – thus the monthly challenges training for WriMo begin!

The challenges have been a mixed bag so far – the first one went really well, the other one was a complete failure, the third one started well but I fell behind a little a caught up in the early days of the following month. The most recent challenge I didn’t really start writing until about a week in and somehow I pulled it back and finished a whopping 35,000 words in July ready to jump straight into 40,000 words in August!

What I’ve found in the last three months works really well is using fanfiction and writing prompts just to get myself writing anything – having 30 prompts to write short little excerpts with characters I’m already familiar with and haven’t had to design has really got me in the right mindset and excited about delving into my own characters again in November where I’m hoping to finish draft 2 of my original winning novel seven years down the line!

In June I used Carrie Hope Fletcher’s May, Myself and I words as prompts, in July I used Hannah Witton’s Dear June and for August my darling, hilarious boyfriend has written 31 prompts for me to follow. I’m genuinely surprised that they were so thoughtful – I’ve got a good boy that will endorse my little writing challenges and I don’t know about you, but I think I have the best boyfriend (he’s my favourite team mate).

That’s a little summary of how I’ve been training for NaNoWriMo this year – creative writing has been my biggest outlet since I was 12 years old. In my worst moments, I take my feelings and vent them out in fiction and it just make everything feel much less isolating – especially back in the days where I shared my fanfiction and I got so much positive feedback from pieces that were written from the heart and that’s always been how I write. For my blog, for my creative writing – I want everything I write to sound genuine and conversational and I think I’ve done that fairly successfully.

There’s still three months until NaNoWriMo begins but I’m already excited!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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2019 Goals – Mid Year Review

2019, goals

Hello!

love goal setting and the end of June is always somewhat momentous for me because I know it marks the halfway point to the year, so it’s the best time to check in on my goals, adapt if necessary and see how much progress I’m making!

Quick context – I have three categories that I set goals in (personal, career, creative) and each of those categories has three goals and then I tried something new this year in setting some ‘bucket list’ style goals.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I do love a ramble about goals and progress so tuck yourself in lads! Grab a cuppa and tell me all about your goals in the comments please!

Personal Goals:

1. work towards my weight goals – eat well, build workout routine

I feel like I mention it in every blog post, YouTube video and Instagram caption but I’ve been trying to lose weird basically forever now. Progress has been slow over the last three months or so but I’m trying to eat much more intuitively and I’ve been running three times a week (or thereabout) for nearly 10 weeks now and I feel like it’s the longest I’ve ever stuck to something and I’m really proud of myself!

2. prioritise tasks and make time for hobbies – stop caring about ‘productivity’ so much

I’ve been refining how I make my to do lists and generally I am finding ways to make the most of every day as much as I can. I definitely haven’t been making time for hobbies but I have been more efficient with my productivity. I still care about productivity much more than I want to, but with how the rest of the year is going to go I think the time for hobbies will come. But in a way writing blog posts and YouTube videos are my hobbies so I guess that counts?

3. self esteem, I need some

This was a way of wording ‘fix my mental health’ whilst being a bit kinder to myself about it. I’ve tried my best to get to know each other and build better habits and I’m much better at recognising the triggers of when I’m not doing so good. I’ve had a bunch of doctors appointments, I’m on anti-depressants now and I’m on a waiting list for computerised CBT, which I’m hesitant about but know it’ll probably be for the best. This is the most progress I’ve made with my mental health in the ten years I’ve been internally battling with myself so whilst I don’t really have any self-esteem yet, the whole process is a work in progress.

Career Goals:

1. build freelance career – make my own work, be my own boss, superhero woman (essentially)

I set this goal in the beginning of the year when I had freelance work and that fell through within a few weeks (which was horrible, ngl) so now this goal is just about working hard for me. How this year has gone so far hasn’t been to plan for me, but I’ve gotten over myself and made my situation work and I’ve earned enough many to make a big purchase recently so it’s going okay! I’m making it all work.

2. build my own media kit (save for a camera/refine my skills)

This one is something I know exactly what I want but I’ve justified that I’m not going to spend the money on something as big as a camera and lenses etc when I’m not certain I’m going to use them or they’re going to be a cost-effective purchase. If I spend the second half of the year glued to a camera, then I can justify it, if I don’t then I’m not going to spend that much money on a camera. All justified!

3. make a future plan with work goals, house/relationship aspirations etc

I’ve done this! Not set in stone kind of 5 year plan because that just doesn’t work for me but I have the framework in my bullet journal and that I add to a change and adapt occasionally. It’s all flexible because I think life is too unpredictable to really make a solid 5 year plan.

Creative Goals:

1. continue towards making the most genuine ‘me’ content on my blog and youtube channel

Actually really pleased with this one – I’m really happy with the attitude I have towards my blog and my channel at the moment and cutting myself some slack when I don’t upload exactly at the right time or anything. I feel more genuine than I’ve felt in a long time and I’m really happy with it.

2. write a book? finish something? write more than I did in 2018 (may be some freelance writing?)

I’ve been planning little writing challenges all through this year in the build up to writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo and it’s been going semi-decently! I’ve not always hit word counts but I’ve been writing consistently for the first time since before I went to uni. This month I’m hoping to write 35,000 words but I’m significantly behind and it’s day 6 so I’m hoping to get a couple of really good catch up days in before the month is out.

3. work on photography – need to solidify basic knowledge and then work with better equipment

I spent a lot of time at the beginning of this year teaching myself the basics of photography – what all the settings really mean, getting to know my camera, figuring out how the core skills of photography really work. It’s something I want to develop further with more experience when I go back to uni in September but for now I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.

10 ‘bucket list’ goals:

1. have a PT session

This one is centred around driving for me – I can’t walk to a gym locally and I’m moving soon so getting professional help with working out will come when either I can drive or I move. Another work in progress!

2. get another tattoo

Done! Got a series of tattoos to start my travel sleeve this week and I love them so much.

(photos)

3. read a book a month

I’m currently on 7 out of 12 books for the year! I haven’t read for a few weeks but because I was a little bit ahead it was a bit of pressure off and I’m going to get back to it soon, when I’ve fixed my sleeping pattern (lol).

4. do a grid drawing every month

For context – the premise of this is this is that I print off a line drawing, draw a 30 square grid over the top and colour in one square each day of the month. This is something I’m really enjoying – sometimes I find colouring books a bit daunting because I don’t know where to start or they’re so intricate but this one has been really good for my mental health and for my creativity.

5. listen to more music, use Spotify playlists

I’ve been writing my monthly mixtape posts for a few months now and I listen to my discover weekly playlist every week!

6. save for a canon 80d, 50mm lens and a 75-300mm lens

See previous photography goals – if I don’t do this one it’s a financial choice.

7. have a little trip away with my boyfriend every month

I wrote a blog post about how I’ve already broken this one for the year but finances and work have disrupted this one a little, but that’s alright – it was pretty ambitious anyway.

8. take my driving test + upgrade my car

I have taken my driving test once and failed but next one is booked and I feel so much better about it. And I bought a new car at the weekend! I’m genuinely so excited about it all, I can’t wait to see where my little H R Wheels and I will go in the latter half of this year.

9. improve my posture

A silly one, but one I’m trying to integrate into my day to day life.

10. find somewhere to live/get our own place

And following the brief mention of going back to uni, my boyfriend and I will be moving somewhere close to Oxford (probably Aylesbury because there doesn’t seem to property available anywhere else). We’ll be moving in the next couple of months!

And that’s a check in with all of my goals for 2019! I think checking in on goals like this is really important because if you’re on track and making progress it inspires you to keep going and if you feel like you’ve not made as much progress as you’d like it gives you the kick up the bum to focus!! Here’s to the home straight of 2019!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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what I’ve read so far this year

2019, books

Hello!

When I sat down to write this blog post I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about – I love blogging so much, so usually I can just sit at my computer and find something to ramble passionately about but today? Nothing. I’d spent all day doing uni work for my PG Cert course and nothing was coming to mind.

I even Googled ‘blog post ideas’ seeing if that would spark anything but advice to anyone thinking about starting a blog – don’t Google blog post ideas. They’re never that good and definitely not original.

So I started scrolling through instagram – my feed is a creative hub of friends and other creators and browsing through posts, it wasn’t till I thought about my own posts that I actually decided what I wanted to write about (how vain is that?).

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (or 2019 Goals, however you want to word it) was to read one book every month and I’ve already finished my book for June so I’m feeling genuinely really pleased with myself that I’ve managed to integrate reading back into my nightly routine.

Today, I’m going to do a little run down of all the books I’ve read so far this year. If you like this post and want me to do another round up at the end of the year, do let me know!

In chronological order, let’s go!

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I set myself the challenge this year of reading 12 books – one a month. I used to be the kid that snuck out of bed to keep reading and studying English at school destroyed any previous love for reading but I'm determined to get it back! ✨ My first book of the year was @louisepentland's Wilde About The Girl – I read the first in the series when I went to Louise and Carrie Fletcher's book event last summer (I know I should have read it before) and absolutely fell in love with Robin Wilde – she's sassy and funny but she's flawed, she thought she needed a man to love her and sometimes she wore her pyjamas for the school run but she was so real. I'm not the target audience for this series but I bloody loved it and somehow I loved Wilde About The Girl even more. It was raw and emotional and laugh out loud funny, there were twists and turns and love and friendship and it was all round a feel good book. It was so easy to read, difficult to put down and the perfect holiday book – I thoroughly recommend it, even if you don't think a book about a mum in her late twenties is for you, Robin will wiggle her way into your heart. Can't wait for book 3 💜 ✨ I think I want to do a little review like this after each book I finish – I never thought I'd finish my first book of the month only halfway through but I'm thoroughly enjoying reading before bed, 2019 is going to be such a good year. Up next – when the curtain falls by @carriehopefletcher 🎭 ✨ #bookreview #book #bookstagram #reader #readagram #wildeaboutthegirl #wildelikeme #robinwilde #louisepentland #writer #blogger #lifestyleblogger #shinyhappybloggers #smallblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #thatsdarling #creative #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #pa #freelancelife

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Wilde About The Girl – Louise Pentland

My second attempt at finishing this novel – I read the first in the series in the run up to meeting the author at a book event last summer and I fell in love. ‘Wilde Like Me’ was the reason I wanted to get back into reading this year and on the second attempt of ‘Wilde About The Girl’ I was on a roll!

I’ve never really been into chick lit – I love fantasy and magic and space and adventure, but there was something beautifully mundane about Robin Wilde’s story. I commented at the time that it was like reading a vlog in someone’s life and it was cosy and lovely. Genuinely I’d recommend it to everyone – an emotional but beautiful read!

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book 02 : when the curtain falls (@carriehopefletcher) 🎭🔫✨ It took me a bit longer to get into 'when the curtain falls', then I was 200 pages in and realised this wasn't early chapters set up. Then I read the last 70 pages in one night (which is a big deal for me) and everything cascaded into a defeating crescendo of a finale and I'm lying in bed nearly in tears over these characters I didn't realise I'd fallen in love with. Combining my love of theatre, magic and writing 'when the curtain falls' has decided that I /need/ to catch up on the rest of Carrie's books and I really want to publish one of my own. Next up – 'eleanor oliphant is completely fine' (gail honeyman) ✨ . #book #bookstagram #whenthecurtainfalls #carriehopefletcher #book2of12 #reading #writing #fiction #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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When The Curtain Falls – Carrie Hope Fletcher

At the same book event as I met Louise, Carrie was also promoting this beautiful novel. I’ve tried one of Carrie’s books before and enjoyed it but just couldn’t get into it enough to finish it.

At the beginning, I felt similarly about When The Curtain Falls – with a history in performance and musical theatre, I was invested in the story but it wasn’t until 200 pages in that I couldn’t put it down. It was as I was nearing the end of the book that I realised ‘this isn’t the set up anymore, this is it!’ and I read the final 100 or so pages in one night.

Utterly thrilling, a beautiful telling of romance and love and unsuspecting characters. Again, would whole heartedly recommend.

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book 03 : Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine (gail honeyman) 🎸🖥️🐈 Eleanor and I have had a rocky relationship – at the beginning, I thought she was a bit pretentious, I didn't think she was trying to be funny when people said she was funny and she needed to re-evaluate her relationship with strangers, but then I met Raymond and I slowly learnt more about Eleanor's story. This is one of the most cleverly written books I've read in a very long time and I'd LOVE to go for a coffee with Miss Honeyman and have a very in-depth conversation about the intricacies of Eleanor Oliphant. At its heart, it's an incredibly sad story but it's insightful, heart warming and so utterly, utterly real – I genuinely think everyone should read this book, stick with it… You start to empathise with her eventually ✨ 🥰 next up : we all looked up – tommy wallach ✨ #book #bookstagram #reading #eleanoroliphant #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Oh Eleanor, we had a difficult relationship. All the things I’d seen people say about how the book was hilarious and gripping from page 1, I didn’t get. It took me over a month to finish this because I found Eleanor arrogant, rude and uninteresting as a character.

Then the story developed, the introduction to one key character kept me hooked and by the end I wanted to protect Eleanor with every fibre of my being – she’s an incredibly complex character that I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to understand.

If you’re struggling with Eleanor’s story, I highly recommend pushing through to the end because you’ll be rooting for this girl I promise.

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book 04 : we all looked up (tommy wallach) 🌌💖🔫 Sped through this wonderful coming of age novel at first because I wanted to keep up with my monthly goal but then because I was hooked on these four Mish mashed broken characters – 'we all looked up' is full of teenage angst, existential realism and a freedom of not caring anymore. I've not read a book that made me feel so alive in such a long time and boy-o do I want to work on a film adaptation! Don't be put off by YA – when it's the end of the world, we all look up 🌆 ✨ next up : hold on – alan gibbons 🌌 #book #bookstagram #reading #wealllookedup #tommywallach #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative

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We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach

An existential story about four teenagers at the end of the world? Yes please.

A lot of my books are YA and young YA at that – I bought them when my family used to go on holiday in Derbyshire and there was the most incredible bookshop where I could buy 10+ books for £30-£40 and it was my heaven. I picked up hundreds of books most of which went unread because I simply never would have had time to read that much.

When I moved back from uni I sorted through all my books and donated about two-thirds to charity, most of which had never been read but the ones I did keep I really wanted to read.

And that’s where ‘We All Looked Up’ slots in! It’s a very interesting narrative told from four different perspectives about what the potential end of the universe can do to all sides of society. I don’t want to spoil it in any way, but it’s a really humbling read that really nails the key aspects of humanity.

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book 05 : hold on – alan gibbons 😢🐂🥰 this short little novel (novella?) was not a challenging read, but I don't think I enjoyed it – it's about a boy who commits suicide and his friend's journey to figuring out why and coming to terms with everyone who played a part in it. I don't know if it's maybe because I'm not feeling my best mentally at the moment but I don't think I like the representation of mental health in this story, but perhaps that might be because that's how mental health is still presented in society and I don't like that. I don't regret reading 'hold on' but it's one to go to the charity shop I think 🤷 ✨ next up : one seriously messed up week in the otherwise mundane and uneventful life of (sam taylor) Jack Samsonite – tom clempson 😢 #books #bookstagram #holdon #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarenessweek #alangibbon #reading #bookclub #pageturner #writer #blogger #huji #photography #shinyhappybloggers

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Hold On – Alan Gibbon

The first book of the year I haven’t really rated – ‘Hold On’ is about a boy who has committed suicide and his friend’s attempt to figure out what went wrong. Told from the modern day perspective of his friend and diary entries leading up to the end of his life, it’s a very mixed tale about who’s to blame.

As someone who has suffered with mental health problems, I found it very hard to empathise and very difficult to read about so many characters who had such a trivial and incorrect understanding of how depression can manifest. I came to the conclusion that I think that was the point – I think it’s meant to be an uncomfortable read. But I didn’t enjoy it, because parts of it didn’t feel intentional, they just felt naive.

I’ll be donating my copy, that’s all I’ll say.

And last but not least!

One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor Jack Samsonite – Tom Clempson

The one that hasn’t even made it to my instagram yet! This book (I’m not writing out that title again) is another very YA one about 16 year old ‘Jack’ navigating GCSEs, girls, friends, not friends and a couple much more sinister (but not too dark, it’s still YA) topics.

I feel like there’s not too much I can say without completely spoiling the book. It’s not really comparable to ‘Wilde About The Girl’ in any way but the sort of mundanity of it all is similar. There’s a few melodramatic teenage bits but as a 22 year old reader it’s about a teenager getting worked up about teenage things and it’s almost refreshing to be able to complete separate myself from all that knowing I no longer than categorise myself with teenagers.

A fun read, a solid 4/5.

And that’s what I’m reading this year – I always post little reviews on my Instagram so if you want to keep up with what I’m reading either follow me there or add me on goodreads! Sometimes I forget to update my page count for a few days but my most up to date reads are all on there!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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