Treasured In… November 2020

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t done a ‘favourites’ post for a while – I’ve been trying to reevaluate my relationship with feeling the need to buy new things to show and talk about in these posts but I think the format I’ve built for myself works quite well and with ongoing lockdown announcements and all the other stuff going on in a pandemic world, I think we can all use a post about nice things that make us happy! Especially with the festive season right around the corner!

  • purchase

Just talked about not feeling the need to buy new things and first category is my favourite purchase; I see the irony! I haven’t actually really bought anything for myself recently, but I’ve been doing all my Christmas shopping online as everything’s closed at the moment and I’ve made an effort not to use Amazon and to shop small and I’ve bought so many cute bits from Etsy! I’m not going to link anything specific for obvious reasons, but being able to search for literally everything, specify my price range and that I want to shop in the UK has been great. So far delivery has been mixed but I think it’s COVID making everything slower. And the one Amazon order I did make one of the items isn’t going to arrive until December 23rd, so it’s definitely not that much more convenient than shopping from independent creatives!

  • social media

A slightly strange category, but with applying for jobs in marketing and digital media, I’ve been thinking a lot more professionally about social media in preparation for potential interviews – I’ve been looking at view to subscriber averages on YouTube, trying to understand Instagram’s new layout prioritising shopping and forever pretending I’m young enough to use tiktok like I get how the app works. There are so many hashtags that I don’t get! I’d love to start making tiktoks but I’m a little overwhelmed with where to start… I mostly watch Harry Potter cosplayers and I’m loving just spectating too.

  • music

I drew the conclusion earlier this year that I’m not as into music as I thought I was, but as I’ve been needing sounds to distract me from my overthinking brain, I’ve been watching a lot more YouTube and listening to way more music!

I’m really enjoying working to instrumental music (I can’t concentrate when there are lyrics, I get distracted) so I’ve been listening to a pianist called Ludivico Einaudi who I loved when I was 16 but his album Islands is beautiful and you’d recognise some of the songs from TV adverts! I’ve also loved listening to the Avengers: Endgame soundtrack and a playlist called Cinematic Chillout.

And I’ve found a love for acoustic music as well? Hearing the raw instruments and stripped back vocals chills me out at the moment so my favourite playlist is Easy Acoustic, but I also love Calming Instrumental Covers and I’m looking forward to listening to Autumn Acoustic too.

  • YouTube video

I feel like I’ve been a broken record about how I’m behind on watching YouTube videos and have been for about five years now – I’m currently up to just over 200 videos on my watch later playlist and the videos are from about six weeks ago, but I only really watch YouTube when my partner is away with work because when he’s home I want to make the most of him.

So I don’t have specific videos, because they would be from months ago, but I’m really loving The Anna Edit‘s videos even though I’m 100% a different class to her and don’t have the money to and wouldn’t spend as much as she does on high end skin care, fashion or anything, but I just love how chatty and friendly she is. I’ve always said, I subscribe to channels based on the people, not the content.

The other channel I’ve loved for so long now is Fabulous Hannah – the same principle of liking the person not the content, but I also love the content. Hannah and I would get on so well – she has my same sarcastic, self deprecating humour, we’re kind of at similar points in life, and watching her videos just feels like I’m having a one way video call catch up with a friend and that’s the kind of cosy vibes I love on YouTube.

  • books

I finally finished The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas! I had eight months of an amazing reading habit that has now completely gone out the window, but I managed to finish the one book I had started. I liked it – I was apprehensive of the ending because I’ve seen the film, but I thought it really captured the perspective of a 9 year old boy. Apparently it’s a controversial book, but I thought it was interesting to express the naïvity of children in Germany, though I’m not sure how historically accurate it is.

I’m yet to start another book, but I definitely need to get back into the habit because I miss it.

  • snacks

I may have built up an unjustified anxiety about eating, but recently I’ve started getting my appetite back and with Christmas treats and the Great British Bake Off as inspiration for the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed a few treats.

Cadbury Snow Balls are my favourite seasonal treat (though a special shout out to creme eggs), I’ve been very much enjoying Victoria sponge cupcakes and malted milk biscuits were all my anxious stomach could handle for a while.

I’m definitely a sweet snack kind of girl.

  • TV/film/streaming/stuff to watch

Speaking off The Great British Bake Off… it’s the only thing I’ve been religiously watching every week since it all began. Lottie was my favourite, I very nearly stopped watching when she went out, I think Dave was robbed in that final but the whole series was the light relief we needed amongst a new tier system and a second lockdown.

I’ve not really watched anything else to be honest – with catching up on 200 YouTube videos and Bake Off on a Tuesday night, I’ve not made time for anything else. I did start rewatching Harry Potter and a few Marvel movies of an afternoon though, which has been nice.

  • wedding planning update

We paid the first half of the venue deposit! There’s been a lot of back and forth since we viewed the venue in July, but with the pandemic they agreed to let us pay half the deposit and the other half in January, so the ball really is rolling! My plan before the New Year is to make a detailed list of everything that needs doing and when I need to start thinking about it over the next two years so I keep up with planning and we save enough money for the right times.

I think with all the new lockdown rules, it hasn’t really sunk in yet – part of my mind wonders if the pandemic will effect us by the end of 2022, but I have to stay optimistic and hope for the best!


I wasn’t sure about writing this post, because it all feels incredibly self indulgent, but talking about nice things that make us happy is what we all need at the moment. Do we need to share them all on the internet? Probably not, but I’m part of a generation that has an issue with oversharing online so here we are.

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… September

2020, lifestyle

Hello!

Oh how my favourite month has come and gone and I feel like I missed it! The last six months have gone so ridiculously fast that I feel like I haven’t been able to keep up but another month has passed and it’s time for another instalment of my supposedly ‘original’ take on what is essentially a favourites post.

As we edge ever close to Autumn, cosy knits and hot chocolate season, my birthday has been and gone and the end of the year is drawing to a close. It’s been a busy month with trips to see family, a couple of socially distanced bowling trips and a ring on my finger to match the engagement my fiancé and I decided on in January.

So these are some of the things I treasured in September!


  • purchase

I’ve got two favourites from this month and they’re both clothes! I bought myself a new hoodie from Primark that I’ve been living in because it’s so soft and cosy and I treated myself to some new Snag tights with some birthday money! I definitely need to stop ‘treating myself’ to new things in October but for now, I’ll snuggle down in my new hoodie and comfy tights.

  • recipe

I’ve been making a roasted tomato and bay orzo dish from The Green Roasting Tin book and it’s taken me a few attempts to figure it out (it takes about twice as long to cook than the recipe suggests!) but now that I’ve got it it’s delicious! I’d never heard of orzo before making this dish but it’s like tiny rice shaped pasta and cooked in the vegetable stock makes it so flavourful and delicious. Although it negates the ‘vegan’ nature of the dish, it goes perfectly with garlic bread and a little parmesan!

  • song

The longer the pandemic goes on, the more I crave nostalgic music I already know all the words too! I’ve done a few long drives this month and I’ve listened to the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (if you haven’t seen it, it’s a beautiful film where Matt Damon plays a sassy horse), Starstruck (a Disney Channel Original Movie that I’m worried to rewatch in case it’s not as amazing as I remember) and I’ve curated my own playlist of songs I enjoy singing at the top of my lungs in the car (apologies to any other drivers who may have witnessed this).

  • YouTube video

As ever, I don’t watch YouTube frequently enough to keep up with my subscription feed so I’m still watching videos from months ago but I loved this SFX/beauty make-up video from Mykie (Glam and Gore) making the most wonderfully extra face mask.

This video of Hannah Witton teaching herself a dance routine to a song she loves made me think that I need to find some choreography dance lessons on YouTube because I miss dancing so much.

And this video from kickthePJ about moving house really stuck with me – I can’t say for why, but it’s beautifully sentimental, a lovely montage of memories and a little bit different for PJ but I’m always in awe of how incredibly creative his content is; massive inspiration!

  • books I’ve read

I knew this would happen but I didn’t think it would take this long – 8 months of reading 4-6 books a month and September was the month I didn’t finish anything. As I write this, I’m halfway through ‘The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne and considering I’ve seen the film and I’m aware of how it ends, it’s surprisingly not as heavy as I thought it would be.

I’m hoping to power through the last 100 pages before the end of the month and get back into it but I’ve definitely fallen off track for my little personal goal of 52 books in a year (my goodreads goal is 12 but when I hit that in March I did wonder if I could maintain one book a week!) but in my defence, these past few weeks I’ve really understood when people say they’ve been ill with their mental health because I’ve never experienced anything like it. My routine (if I ever had one), completely fell out the window and my sacred evening routine (shoutout to my 9pm bedtime crew) was replaced with not sleeping before 2am and wasting most of the morning in bed.

I’m hoping to crack down and get back into it, not just because I love reading but because I need to make the effort for the sake of my own mental health. Any tips are more than welcome!

  • snack

Other than a craving for Malted Milk biscuits, the best snack I’ve had this month is actually something I’ve baked myself! My mum used to bake these amazing cookies with smarties on and I’ve made a couple of batches this month and they’ve been amazing – the recipe makes about 12 (or about 6 big cookies) and when they’re fresh out the oven oh boy I could eat the whole batch. I’m salivating thinking about them.

They’re super easy – I’ve not done a recipe post for a really long time, would you like to see one?

  • something to watch

With my fiancé being away at work and having a friend stay for a couple of weeks until she can move into her new flat (all COVID safe, I promise) I’ve been watching more Netflix and Disney+ than usual! We watched the new Millie Bobby Brown film ‘Enola Holmes’ which I thought was surprisingly heartwarming, a very interesting 4th-wall narrative and a mildly disappointing ending but a pleasant watch all the same.

I finally got round to watching Frozen 2 – I’m not a massive Frozen fan, so I wasn’t obsessed with it (Tangled is a better film, don’t @ me) but it was fine, I guess? ‘Into The Unknown’ is a bop but wow ‘Show Yourself’ is underrated!! Definitely need to give the soundtrack a listen but it was nice to have a bit of context for my sister’s Anna cosplay (follow her tiktok, it’s adorable).

Otherwise, we’re now rewatching a bunch of Disney classics – I’ve been fancying watching Treasure Planet for a while and last night we watched Mulan and Mulan 2 and had a wonderful time!

  • wedding planning update!

Not much to update on the wedding front! We’ve negotiated a quote with the venue and we’re just figuring out our finances to pay the deposit and book the venue! Then it’s booking the registrar and hunting for a photographer/videographer – if you have any recommendations for someone in the Rutland/South Lincolnshire region, please let me know!


I still can’t believe how fast this year is going – I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, my impending dissertation deadline (less than a month now!) or if this is just adult life now but I’m sure I’ll soon be baffled by how quickly October has gone in my ‘Treasured In…’ post next month!

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

Sophie xx

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the best books I’ve read this year (so far)

2020, books

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t written a book blog post in ages and I’m feeling incredibly invested in what I’m reading at the moment so I thought I’d channel that energy here! That might be the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written.

I feel like I may have said this a million times before but some brief context; I was the kid that would sneak out of bed and stay up reading, fell out of love with it as I had to study books I didn’t like and decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to get back into it with the help of reading challenges on the ‘goodreads‘ app – made it to 9 of last year’s target of 12 and as I didn’t meet the target I set the same one-a-month target for 2020.

I’ve currently read 34 books.

So I thought I’d write a shortlist of those 34 books of the ones I’ve absolutely adored! I write mini reviews on my Instagram if you want to see what I’m reading and my ongoing thoughts but I thought I’d collate my favourites for anyone who’s in a reading rut and wants some inspiration, wants to try something new or just fancies reading something book-ish!

Mild disclaimer: I will link to all these books on Amazon however if you have a local independent bookstore or retailer I highly support seeing if they have it or ordering through them, especially in the current covid economic climate!


I love ‘fantasy realism’ as a genre, where there’s an element of fantasy but it’s so well integrated into ‘normal’ human life that it almost doesn’t feel like fantasy. So when there’s a service where someone can see their future with a person, generally a romantic relationship, the gossip, reality TV ‘realness’ of it all is just the recipe for the perfect book.

Interesting and realistic characters are something that really grabs me and is a huge factor as to why I rated all of these books at 5 stars, but the concept in The Future for Curious People is so much fun and the ending is wonderful.

I asked for this book for Christmas the year it came out and it’s taken me two years to read it. I decided to read it on a long train journey to Birmingham to meet my mum to go to a wedding fair and whilst I was very excited about the wedding fair, boy o boy all I wanted to do was get back to the book. The whole mystery, teenage drama aspect mixed with a painfully relatable depiction of mental health (and helped me understand symptoms I don’t suffer with) meant I finished this book in one day – absolutely devoured the first half on the way there and nearly finished it on the way back; I had to drive home and finish the last 60 pages before I picked up my boyfriend from work because I was so absorbed.

John Green books are a bit hit and miss for me – I loved The Fault In Our Stars like every other 20-something (though I’ve never watched the film because I don’t think it’ll be as good) but I never massively enjoyed his other books. The style is a little pretentious – all of his characters are into niche poetry and philosophy and take themselves a little bit too seriously, but I think once I accepted that it’s just how John Green characters are and I loved so many other aspects of this book more than those parts annoyed me. I still gave it 5 stars.

I avoided buying this for ages because it was everywhere and everyone was reading it and I’m that kind of hipster. But inevitably I picked it up and it was Worth! The! Hype!

Another story about mental health and the ending really gets you but the two differing perspectives on similar mental illnesses and how the characters are so opposite but so puzzle piece perfect is just magical and the kind of character writing I can only aspire to.

This book actually has a John Green feel in it’s somewhat self-important characters but it was wonderful and I devoured it in just a couple of days. Definitely worth the hype!

  • Love, Rosie (Cecelia Ahern) (originally ‘Where Rainbows End’)

I picked up the film edition of this book mostly because of Lily Collins and Sam Claflin on the cover but avoided reading it because wow it is a chunky read. But surprisingly quick to get through once you realise it’s all told in letters – from childhood to old age the main character Rosie progresses through life, love and loss with letters, emails, texts, passing notes and other forms of communication that I’ve forgotten about but it’s such an interesting narrative that never explicitly says ‘2 years later’ or ‘three months later’ but as a reader, you know that time has passed. It’s just brilliant.

I’m not sure how the original title of ‘Where Rainbows End’ really suits the book, maybe because I’ve only ever known it as ‘Love, Rosie’ I couldn’t see the connection but that is the original novel’s title so if you are struggling to find it, check ‘Where Rainbow’s End’!

I fully intended for this to be one of the only books I bought this year as a new release… then I hit my goodreads goal in three months and needed some more books to read… Regardless, I’ve been buzzing about this sequel ever since I read ‘Eve of Man‘ in approximately two days last year. I love the concept, I love the characters, I love the world building and how painfully believable a world that derelict is and the sequel didn’t disappoint.

If I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t think it was as good as the original, but not in a bad way – I still adored it – I just felt that it was a bit like ‘The Two Towers’ in Lord of the Rings; it’s there to move the story along in a trilogy so it has to be there but it’s not the most exciting part.

Eve gets a little bit bratty, everyone gets a little bit melodramatic, I loved the inclusion of the third perspective in the different chapters and the twist at the end was so obvious I saw it coming from a mile away but still made me double take for a second (I thought she might be a time lord, if you’ve read it, you know!). Eagerly anticipating the last novel in the trilogy!

I really rated the Fletcher writers this year! This is Carrie’s first fiction novel and having struggled to read it twice before and realising this time that if I’d have read just one more chapter I’d have been hooked till the end always makes me laugh.

Another wonderful version of fantastical realism that takes you by surprise a little bit (lifting written words from a birds wings and putting them in a notebook did make me question the writing just a little bit until I remembered… fantasy). The love story that just wasn’t meant to be, I thought the characters were going to be much more ‘idyllic’ like early Disney Princess-esque where everyone is swept off their feet and everything’s too perfect but it wasn’t like that at all. It was lovely and as the story moves more into the modern day I could feel my heart being given in pieces to each character.

I can’t wait to read more of Carrie’s novels this year – I read When The Curtain Falls last year and I think I’ve got All That She Can See on my shelf to read at some point!

This book I picked up dirt cheap in a 3 for £5 sale at The Works – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted it because the whole premise of the book is based on a massive lie and I hate when characters make things difficult for themselves by not communicating openly. But it didn’t actually annoy me at all – there was a couple of really cringey moments but all round it was a sweet, heart warming book about the spontaneity of social media, the importance of family and not taking those you meet at face value.

Another one in the sale from the Works but much more sci-fi/fantasy – a meteor crash in a small town in the US (obviously, it could only be the US!) disguises an alien spaceship landing and two unidentified creatures are saved from the wreck. Another heartwarming story about family beyond blood relations and accepting people for all their quirks. Looking forward to the sequel!

One of my newer books and probably my first adult crime novel though it had very YA vibes. A 19 year old girl tries to navigate life as a college drop-out refusing to live with her mother at home following a car accident in which her friend died and she survived, but with a severe case of amnesia she remembers nothing from before she started high school, including her dad’s death. With many twists and turns and wondering if you can trust the narrative of the protagonist herself, so many things unfold about the true reason behind the crash and the real reason David died.

Genuinely amazing story – I’ve never read a book where I felt like I couldn’t quite trust the person telling the story and it was so interesting! I have another book by Jeff Abbott on my shelf but it’s the second in the series so I’m going to buy the prequel when I’ve read through all the other books on my shelf.

A book that was huge when I was in school but I read so slowly that I never got round to it. Seeing it recommended over and over again in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, when I saw the whole series on offer in the Works (it’s such a good place for books!) I knew I had to pick it up.

Learning about the privilege of my race through fiction was always going to be the way to help me best understand – I’ve never been able to apply so much of what I’m reading to real life and feel like I’m really learning from it. It was so eye opening and heartbreaking in equal measure and I can’t wait to read the other books I picked up to continue my education on racial inequality.

Couldn’t recommend this book more highly if you find non-fiction difficult to get into but want to educate yourself – amazing characters, so eye opening, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.


Did I plan for there to be 10 books in my highlight of 2020 so far? Absolutely not but I do find it incredibly satisfying.

I’m currently reading the third book in the Noughts and Crosses series ‘Checkmate’ by Malorie Blackman so if you want to see my thoughts on that when I finish it hop on over to my Instagram!

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… July

2020, books, fashion, lifestyle, wedding

Hello!

Another month has passed, though I’m not entirely sure how because I’m pretty sure it was May yesterday but time has passed me by! More stuff has happened, I’ve bought things, reads things, watched things and I’m going to share it all!

Let’s jump right in, because otherwise another month will come and go without me noticing!


purchase:

Having had a couple of ‘no spend’ months, this isn’t a category I’ve included so far but I actually let myself by some things this month so I wanted to share. I wrote a whole blog post about the books I bought/acquired this month – I’d run out of physical books I hadn’t read in our house since we moved last year so I definitely made up for it at the beginning of the month. I’ve now had to stop letting myself by books because I’m never going to read them all at this rate!

Then there’s two items of clothing that I adore this month – what I’m calling my Explorer Shorts from Primark, they’re a khaki green stretchy denim short that give me Lara Croft vibes but they’re elasticated; big fan!

And then I picked up a lovely navy cardigan from M&Co in the sale that is super cosy, I’m almost disappointed when it’s really warm because I can’t wear it.

blog post:

Someone I went to school with shared this article about Lockdown Weight Gain and I found it really interesting reading about the emotional impact of weight gain, particularly in a pandemic that is encouraging discussion about the impact of lockdown on mental health (though I’m not sure how much is being done?).

recipe:

I’m not big on trying new things at the moment – eating food that I’m familiar with and recipes I already know how to do has been the only cooking I’ve really done, but last week I made brownies for the first time in years and it was so good.

I definitely undercooked it, but it means I’ve got a super gooey fudgey brownie so I wasn’t gutted about it. Whilst putting a whole pound of brown sugar into a bowl was something that made me consider not making brownie anymore, it’s really good and the recipe I used was the one my mum gave me when I moved to uni so I can’t link it but I could make a blog post about it if there’s interest?

music:

I’m about two months behind on watching my YouTube subscriptions, but I watched Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones from McFly, Olly Murrs, Niall Horan and James Arthur covering Shine a Light, an older McFly song, and I was blown away by how amazing the cover was. I’m a pretty big McFly fan, hence why I’m subscribed to Tom’s YouTube channel, but I’ve never paid too much attention to the other three artists, though I know most of their ‘super popular’ songs. I’m obsessed with Niall’s voice and I need to listen to his most recent album.

Seeing how musicians are adapting to not being able to continue working as usual and making the most of remotely collaborating is very exciting.

YouTube video:

As I mentioned, I’m about two months behind on watching YouTube videos but my favourite video this month was from Mykie / Glam and Gore doing Halloween costume hacks from a 5 minute craft video considering my boyfriend is currently going through a phase of watching 5 minute crafts in secret (to the degree that he was watching them after I’d fallen asleep one night and I woke up at 6am to strange voices in our bedroom because he’d fallen asleep with them on). Either way! The video Mykie made was really fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

books I’ve read:

Where She Went (Gayle Forman) – after re-reading ‘if I stay’, ‘where she went’ was a pleasant enough unnecessary sequel. The first half was a whiney young man who couldn’t communicate his feelings and had an unhealthy relationship with medication and substances, then it actually starts to explore the relationship between the two main characters from the first book and the heart and poetic nature of the narrative returned.

The Memory Cage (Ruth Eatham) – I downloaded this book for free from Amazon with Prime Reading on my Kindle because I ran out of physical books and it was definitely meant for a more middle grade audience, but it was a nice heartfelt story about adoption, family and loss. I actually really enjoyed reading on my kindle so I’m definitely going to buy more books on there in the future.

Masha Regina (Vadim Leventhal) – I picked up this book for 50p and I was really excited about getting such a bargain, but it turned out to be 50p for a reason. There just wasn’t much of a story at all. I wrote a full review on instagram, but I wouldn’t recommend – the review is potentially more entertaining than the book.

Currently reading: Blame (Jeff Abbott) – I don’t often read crime and whilst this book was in the grown up fiction second, it feels very YA to me because it’s about a girl in college and I think that’s part of the reason I’m enjoying it more than I expected. When you’re reading a book you expect to be able to trust everything the protagonist experiences to be true, but the more that I read the more I’m not sure who is trustworthy and it’s really interesting. Keep an eye on my instagram for a full review when I finish it!

snack:

When visiting my boyfriend’s family earlier this month, we went to Tescos for a meal deal and spotted these ‘French style’ Madeleine cakes and whilst we were in Paris last year, we became obsessed with these cakes called ‘Quatre Quart’ (or something) and we think we’ve found it! We think it’s the same cake! So we’ve eaten a disproportionate amount of them (they’re so good).

tv / film / streaming / something to watch:

As with eating food I already know how to cook, I’m not really in the mood for watching anything new and not knowing how it’s going to play with my emoTIoNs but whilst we were on a little holiday at the beginning of the month we watched quite a bit of Escape to the Country and now I’m thinking about property a lot and I want to watch more trashy daytime TV.

wedding planning update:

We viewed a venue! The only placed we’ve viewed and I’m obsessed, it’s beautiful, it’s got everything we want, amazing accommodation and we could really see ourselves getting married there. The quote we received after the viewing was much higher than we thought it would be but for the venue that we love so much, we think we’re going to do some negotiations and work more to pay for it. There’s actually some wedding progress! Over two years in advance maybe a little premature but there’s still actual progress!


July has been mad and August is set to be much quieter, but who knows at this point!

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

Sophie xx

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49 new books | a little book inspiration

2020, books

Hello!

Over this last week I’ve picked up a bag of books from my mum’s house, bought a new haul of books from my favourite indie bookstore High Peak in Derbyshire and picked up a few more new books in charity shops and on my holiday… So I have a big haul of new books!

For context, when I moved into our little one bed house last year, I brought a selection of the books I was most excited to read thinking it would last me a while – my goal was to read one book a year and at that rate I wouldn’t be done till 2022 ish. Then I read four books a month and quickly ran out of books I hadn’t read in the house!

Before I moved out of my mum’s house, I packed all my books into carrier bags so I could pick up one at a time when I needed more to read. It just happened to time with going on holiday and visiting my favourite place.

So I thought what I’d do today is list all the unread books I now have on my shelves – if you have a similar taste to me (have a look at my goodreads to get a feel for what I like!) and you’re feeling a bit stuck with what to read, I’m sure something on this list will grab you!

There’s a mix of fiction – YA, a couple of middle grade, a couple of ‘grown up’ books with genres from fantasy, chick lit, coming of age and crime – a few non-fiction and a couple of reference books so a real mish mash! Obviously I’ve not read any of these yet so if they’re rubbish, I can only apologise in advance!

From High Peak book store:

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
  2. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  3. See Through Me – Kevin Brooks
  4. In At The Deep End – Kate Davies
  5. The City Always Wins – Omar Robert Hamilton
  6. Rosie Coloured Glasses – Brianna Wolfson
  7. Raising Fire – James Bennett
  8. Tarnished City – Vic James (sequel to Gilded Cage)
  9. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  10. The Inaugural Meeting of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club – Sophie Green
  11. Ace of Spiders – Stefan Mohamed (sequel to Bitter Sixteen)
  12. Blame – Jeff Abbott
  13. I Know You – Annabel Kantaria
  14. Goldilocks and the Water Bears – Louisa Preston
  15. The Princess and the Suffragette – Holly Webb
  16. The Wellbeing Journal – in aid of Mind
  17. Computer Coding for Kids – Carol Vorderman
  18. Masha Regina – Vadim Levental
  19. Scrabble Dictionary

WHSmith:

20. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
21. A Nearly Normal Family – M. T. Edvardsson

Home Haul:

22. Die For Me – Amy Plum
23. Jacoby’s Game – Alison Prince
24. All That She Can See – Carrie Hope Fletcher
25. The Oversight – Charlie Fletcher
26. Twilight Robbery – Frances Hardinge
27. The Last Minute – Jeff Abbott
28. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
29. Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo
30. Mirrorscape – Mike Wilks
31. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
32. The Wave Runners – Kai Meyer
33. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher
34. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher
35. Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
36. The Dragon’s Eye – Dugald A. Steer
37. The Time of the Reaper – Andrew Butcher
38. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
39. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
40. Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse (Book 3) – Rick Riordan (Book 1 – The Lightning Thief / Book 2 – Sea of Monsters)
41. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labrynth (Book 4) – Rick Riordan

Charity shop finds:

42. Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds – Gwenda Bond
43. Container Gardens: Practical advice on choosing, planting and caring for container plants – Aura Garden Guides
44. Year In Your Garden – Geoff Hamilton

Oops I fell into The Works and the Set Was Only £8:

45. Noughts + Crosses – Malorie Blackman
46. Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman
47. Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
48. Double Cross – Malorie Blackman
49. The Green Roasting Tin – Rukmini Iyer (£7 when it’s RRP is £16.99… I couldn’t help it but I can’t find it on The Work’s website, but it’s only £9 on Amazon!)

Although I’ve linked predominantly to mainstream sites like Waterstones, Amazon and W.H.Smith, if you can support your local independent bookstores please do because they’re precious places, often with wonderful hardworking staff and beautiful decor and need all the support they can get!

If a name, author and link doesn’t grab you (which I totally understand, I just thought this blog post would be long enough without adding descriptions of all the books!), I post a review of everything I read on my Instagram so follow the link below if you want to hear my thoughts on what I’ve read so far this year!

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

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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December Goals 2019

2019, goals

Hello!

How mad is it that this is my last monthly goals post of the year? 12 of 12, 100%, The Closing Chapter of 2019.

The goals have been a mixed bag this year, but that’s a self analysis saved for my personal notes and/or a different post, let’s get onto the goals I’m setting myself for the home stretch of the year (and the decade but that’s a lot of pressure so not going to focus too much on it).

  1. Maintain sensible spending – for a solid 70% of November, I was doing really well with my spending – I wasn’t buying lunch at uni, I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need, no treats, nothing but paying for the park and ride to get to uni, food and bills essentially and the end of November hasn’t gone as well but I can definitely be a bit more careful next month, making allowances for Christmas.
  2. Masters semester 1 home stretch! I’m so close to finishing my first semester of my masters – I don’t have any results yet so I have no idea of my progress so far but I’m nearly there and I think it’s going moderately well so just have to maintain momentum.
  3. Start ideas for new writing project – I’ve been throwing an idea around in my head for a while and I want to get it down on virtual paper. I’ve been working on the same writing project for about two years and I’m starting to feel like I’m rehashing the same ideas without writing any of the other bits over and over again and I need something new to get excited about.
  4. Finish reading challenge – my November goal was to catch up but I was so flat out exhausted that reading was just too much. But hopefully I’ll have a bit of downtime in December and I really want to accomplish this goal this year, I’m really focused so fingers crossed for this one.
  5. Chill out – have evenings off! If I can make this work then my fourth goal will be much easier! I need to stop working before like 9pm – when I was at home and even in my third year at uni I had a really good routine where I would do all my work between about 9am and 5pm then in the evenings I could play video games guilt free and I’d like to get back to this kind of routine.

There’s nothing particularly adventurous or specific about these goals and they’re pretty similar to my goals for the last few months but I don’t see the point in ‘doing something a bit different’ when the things I need to focus on haven’t really changed. The point of these goals are to be functional, not interesting. I use them to push myself sometimes but at the moment? I’ve just found out I’ve got an infected wisdom tooth, I’ve got all my deadlines for my first semester of my masters due in about two weeks and I’m still trying to manage my retail job on top of that.

It’s getting there – 2019 has been… interesting, but let’s just say I’m excited for the fresh start that 2020 will bring.

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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