31 December 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Guess who spilt water all over their laptop today and had planned to post this hours and hours ago? Today hasn't been the best, but my laptop is *somewhat* alive, albeit with an 'e' button that is constantly pressed down. Tomorrow it'll be time to say goodbye to the laptop that took me through uni, and start afresh on the first day of the year with a new laptop. Although that's kinda satisfying, my lil bank balance is not prepared for this complete 'new year, new laptop' mentality. RIP. 

Anywho, let's get on to the last post of 2017. I've LOVED talking more about books on this blog this year, so it seemed right to end things with a bookish post. I've read a lot this year (so much so, that the books at the start of last year seem like a pretty distant memory), and doing this has reminded me of some pretty fab books I've read this year, so let's get cracking.

1.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This so deserves the number one spot on my list. I've written a whole post all about why I love it here, but let's just say that it's a beyond incredible debut novel. If you want to really learn more about racial issues in the States, or if you're interested in it (which we all should be), then this is a fab book to read. 

2.) Ruth Hall by Fanny Fern. This is hands down the best classic I've read all year. For something that was written in the mid-1800s this is incredibly progressive. We're talking way beyond the feminism of Mary Wollstonecraft and the such into a place in which a woman can be truly independent. Ruth Hall is a widowed mother of two who is cast aside both by her own family and her husband's. She works hard to support her children and herself, eventually forcing them all out of abject poverty, much to the chagrin of those who once abandoned her.

3.) I Was Here by Gayle Forman. Another YA book, I know, but I think they're some of the most revolutionary out there at the moment. I've spoken all about my anger at suicide support groups in a post here; this book opened my eyes to their existence. It tells the story of what happens after a teen kills herself to those left behind. Cody's best friend Meg kills herself, and the worst part for Cody is that she had no idea why, or that it would happen. It's touching and painful and something that reminds us that there's always someone to cling onto life for.

4.) Room by Emma Donoghue. The narrative of this book is like nothing I've ever read before. The story's told from the perspective of a five year old boy living in Room. He doesn't even know that there's a world outside of it. Once you get used to his speech and narrative style, everything begins to change, as the boy is forced to realise that there are other people in the world beside him and his Ma, and that there's a whole world outside of Room.

5.) Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. This has been sat on my bookshelf for years, but I could never bring myself to read it. Now that I have, I think it's absolutely fascinating. Gaarder takes us through an entire philosophical history, from the Greeks to *almost* modern day in a fictional form. I studied Philosophy (and Ethics) as one of my A-Levels, and this would have been so useful to read back then to get all this information in such a condensed and accessible form.

6.) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. As a rule, I don't read autobiographies, but this is a fictionalised version that I loved. Gilbert is divorced from her husband, and wants to do all the things she missed out on due to her marriage. First, she goes to Italy, eats delicious food and has a couple of steamy affairs. Then she goes to an Indian temple, learns to meditate and strips her life back to become more spiritual. Finally, she goes to Indonesia and puts the two together: body and soul to heal her mind. It's something that I think all women should read, especially if they're going through a rough patch.

7.) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. I've re-read the first five HP books this year, and it was a tough call as to which to include on this list, but the PoA was even better than I remembered it, and I was beyond emotional for about the last 100 pages. This is the book in which we get introduced to Sirius, where Lupin comes in, where the Dementors enter the series. I love it.

8.) Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell. This absolutely terrified me. I'm not someone that reads many horror stories, but this one was so well done, it genuinely creeped me out. It's all about a house filled with little Charlotte dolls that can move and whisper and persuade people to do bad things. They can kill and their eyes follow you around the room. I'm not sure I can think of anything more eerie and I really want to read the sequel Charlotte Says now.

9.) Alice and the Fly by James Rice. This is another book like nothing I've ever read before. It's written from the perspective of Greg, a schizophrenic with an overwhelming phobia of spiders. His school therapist encourages him to keep a journal, which is what we're reading. Everything starts to go downhill, and I completely had one of those gut-wrenching 'oh god, that isn't going to happen is it?!' moments as the novel progressed.

10.) Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. You know what I was saying earlier about YA fiction being the most revolutionary? This book portrays a genuinely accurate impression of what it's like to suffer from a mental illness. Throughout the novel, Henry wants to be with Grace. I was lured into his love for her, and so wanted them to 'get together'. Until Grace pointed out that he only wanted her on her good days. On the bad days he wanted her to be the Grace of the good days. He didn't want all of her. I was shook - finally a novel admits that mental health isn't reparable by love, and you need to love all of someone, mental illnesses included.

What were some of your favourite reads this year?

30 December 2017

2018 goals and a look back over 2017

2018 goals and a look back over 2017

2018 goals and a look back over 2017
I absolutely adore reading everyone's posts on what they're hoping to achieve in the next year, and I love writing my own too. This is honestly one of my favourite posts to write each year, and it's so helpful in reminding me of where I want to be heading, what I want to work on and so on. 

24 December 2017

It's okay to be sad at Christmas

It's okay to be sad at Christmas

I know I'm a little late with getting this post up, but I thought there might be others that need to read this today ya know? Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy - that word crops up in a ridiculous number of Christmas songs that we're bombarded with at this time of year. We're meant to feel a childlike amount of glee as we sit in our homes snuggled up by the fire and wait on the edge of our seats to open our presents in the morning surrounded by family. But that image doesn't match up with the reality of most of our Christmases, and its okay to feel upset that it doesn't.

19 December 2017

Setting up a mental health support network

Setting up a mental health support network

Suffering with mental health problems can be incredibly isolating. People often find it hard to understand what you're going through and turn away; you can often find yourself becoming more introverted; sometimes you end up pushing people away because it can seem easier. 

17 December 2017

Dealing with loss over the Christmas period

Dealing with loss over the Christmas period

There's nothing in the world worse than losing someone you love. It doesn't matter if they're a partner, a relative, a friend or even a pet: it hurts. And it doesn't stop hurting for a long time. Christmas is an incredibly tough time to deal with this as you gather around with those you love and it's a season all about joy.

16 December 2017

Korres Christmas Gift Sets 2017

Korres Christmas Gift Sets 2017

Korres Christmas Gift Sets 2017

Korres Christmas Gift Sets 2017

Korres have massively stepped up their Christmas gifting range this year. The packaging is stunning, the names pay homage to the traditional meaning of Christmas, and the goodies are all best sellers. I was beyond excited when Korres offered to send them to me to try, and I honestly wish I hadn't had to remove them from the packaging to take photos because they would have made perfect gifts. I've tried all of these scents before, and whilst I definitely didn't think I'd love them all (I'm looking at you Basil and Lemon), they are divine, and so varied that there's something for everyone in here.

14 December 2017

Doing Christmas on a tight budget

Doing Christmas on a tight budget
Christmas is a truly expensive time of year. Beneath all the joy and giving is money spent on presents, wrapping, cards, decorations, food and more. In yesterday's post I spoke all about feeling overwhelmed at this time of year, monetarily or otherwise. It's something that can really weigh you down, so today I'm chatting all about doing Christmas on a tight budget.

13 December 2017

Feeling overwhelmed this December

Feeling overwhelmed this December

This year December really has knocked the wind out of me. Usually December is my favourite month of the year; I love Christmastime, and everything that comes with it, but this year I've found that I've been struggling a bit.

10 December 2017

Giving back during the festive season

Giving back during the festive season
Christmas is a time for giving. Whether this comes from a religious viewpoint, a traditional one, a moral one or just a gut instinct, we all know that Christmas is about sharing and loving and being kind. Today I'm chatting about ways to give back this year, and I hope it inspires you to do a little something too, and spread joy to those around you.

9 December 2017

Affordable independent stores to shop at this Christmas

Affordable independent stores to shop at this Christmas

Affordable independent stores to shop at this Christmas

Affordable independent stores to shop at this Christmas

Affordable independent stores to shop at this Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time (IMO), and it's the perfect season to think about your actions a little bit more carefully. So many people do so much more giving at Christmas and I honestly love seeing it and doing it. One of the ways that I love giving back is to shop small. 

7 December 2017

Hosting Christmas for the first time - what do I need?

Hosting Christmas for the first time - what do I need?

Hosting Christmas is hella stressful, there's no way around it. But, when I did it for the first time last year I absolutely ADORED IT. Just some background info on this - I'm big into Christmas, so begrudging any level of effort involved really isn't my thang. 

6 December 2017

November favourites and life update

November favourites and life update

November favourites and life update

November favourites and life update

November favourites and life update
November absolutely whizzed by didn't it?! I've been putting of writing this for a few days because the start of December has been a little tough on my mental health. BUT, I'm feeling a lot more 'me' today and ready to actually get stuff done, ya know?

So, November, you treated me pretty well. I saw my favourite musician (a guy called Ron Pope just FYI) in the whole world play in a tiny gig in Manchester. There were probably only 100 people at the gig, so we were really up close and he was just as incredible live as he is on record. The dream. I also passed my three month review at my new(ish) job, and I feel so happy and relieved. 

Now on to the favourites. This month is a little short on them because I've not been trying out *too* much new stuff as Christmas approaches. 

First up is my only beauty piece, and it's the 'Crisp Morning Air' foaming hand wash from Bath and Body Works. This is pretty much the nicest thing I've ever smelt. According to the label, it smells of pine, juniper and pear. But for someone who hates the fake smell of pine - it just reminds me of public toilets ya know? - this must have a lot of the latter two in to overpower it. It also contains honey, so it's been super nourishing for my eczema-prone hands. 

I've been trying to improve my home with a few little touches over the past couple of months. I really started to think that everything was a little too bare, so naturally my first stop was B&M because my GOD there are some absolute homeware bargains in there. Our squirrel doorstop (similar here) has been perfect for Autumn decor and it has made my life ten times easier when I'm trying to wrestle my way past our bedroom door that naturally swings shut. I also picked up some extra candles, which I've chatted about in a lot of detail here because they are the perfect Bath and Body Works candle dupes. The spiced pomegranate cider one is such a perfect blend of winter spice scents and I've been burning it on my desk pretty much daily all month. 

My last product favourite is one that makes me feel hella elderly but it's genuinely fab. I picked up a lavender and white tea Pecksniff's linen spray from HomeSense (making it a genuine bargain at £3.99) at the end of October and it has revolutionised my life. You spray it on your bedding and towels after washing them before putting them away and it stops them from getting that musty airing cupboard or linen drawer odour. Lavender makes me feel super relaxed, so spraying this on my bedding is a really nice touch for when I put on fresh sheets, mmmm.

Finally, let's chat books and TV to round things off. I re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in November and it was just as good as I remembered it. There were so many little things that I'd missed when reading it as a kid and oh my god the ending made me sadder than it ever has done before. I've also been watching a buttload of 'Suits' this month. It's sassy and funny and I've had so many 'he/she did NOT just do that' moments. I love it.

I've also filmed my November favourites over on my Youtube channel if you fancy a peek:



What were your November favourites?

Follow me on Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Facebook

3 December 2017

3 bloggers whose content I've been loving this month

3 bloggers whose content I've been loving this month
I'm all about spreading the love, and that just gets even more intense in December. So lets kick start the (almost) beginning of the month with sharing the blog love. This month, all three ladies on my radar are women I haven't been following for very long, but who I keep going back to so that I can catch up on all their fab posts. 

1 December 2017

How to help a friend with an eating disorder *TW*

How to help a friend with an eating disorder

I've spent a long time deciding whether 'how to' really fits this post, because it's not some kind of guide or manual or step-by-step instruction. I considered 'ways to' or 'helping', but none of them really fit the idea I had in mind. Now that ramble is over, I'm going to say that obviously I'm not a medical professional, so take everything in this post with a pinch of salt and all that jazz.

29 November 2017

Weekly pamper routine for Winter months

Weekly pamper routine for Winter months

Weekly pamper routine for Winter months

Weekly pamper routine for Winter months

Weekly pamper routine for Winter months

Winter pretty much sucks for our skin. From wind chapping, to endless dry patches re-surfacing, our skin really battles through the next few months. So, I'm going to be upping my pamper routine to help out both with this and with the fact that winter months are a little tougher mental health-wise. It's such a key part of self-care for me; taking care of my body reminds me that I'm worth spending time on, and gives me some much-needed confidence boosts.

26 November 2017

Dealing with *that* Sunday night feeling

Dealing with *that* Sunday night feeling

We've all felt this at some point haven't we? The utter dread in the pit of your stomach when you realise that the weekend is coming to a close and Monday is starting again. It's horrible, and it always seems especially tricky at this time of year. The evening seems to absolutely whizz by when it starts to get dark at 4pm and it just leaves the day feeling so damn short.

25 November 2017

How to get experience within the publishing industry

How to get experience within the publishing industry

The publishing industry is a tough one to crack (though what industry isn't when you're a millenial ... I mean?!?!). When I first told everyone about wanting to get into publishing, so many people told me to give up the dream, because it wasn't going to happen. But guess what, I worked my butt off for years and I finally got my dream job.

Getting experience is so hard, so I thought I'd chat about all the things that both myself and friends working their way into the industry have done to give us a little boost to finally secure that full time graduate work. 

One thing that I really wish I'd done earlier is work out exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go into publishing for ages, but I didn't realise what a wide variety of jobs there are in the industry: from editing, to marketing, to illustrating, there's so much to choose from. I've always been more intrigued by the editorial side of things, and that's what I've pursued. But, what I also didn't realise is that it really matters what you get your experience in. If all of your experience is with adult non-fiction publishing, for example, it's very hard to transfer into kids' fiction. This is where things get really tough. I always thought as long as I got editorial experience, that I'd be sorted, but it's not the case. All of my experience is in academic publishing, so that's where I've ended up, and I'm loving it now I'm here, but for a while I was so distraught that I didn't end up in any kind of fiction publishing.

So, let's actually get onto what you're all here for. Experience. It's there, and it's possible, but it can be hard, especially when nepotism doesn't work in your favour (I mean, c'mon, why couldn't I have had a cousin in Penguin??). First up, join the SYP. They advertise a whole load of jobs going in the industry and hold regular conferences to talk about getting into publishing and changes that are going on at the moment. You have to buy a membership, but it's worth it in my opinion to see all the jobs in one place, and be able to gain some important contacts. 

Next up, start hunting. I started searching at my uni itself. Get involved with a school newspaper: there's marketing, different editorial sectors to get into, sub editing, and photography too. It's a good way to show that you really want to get into publishing, it's not *too* time consuming, and you can try out a few different things to see what you really enjoy. I wrote for mine too to start building up a writing portfolio, which can help show that you're capable if you want to get into the editorial side of things.

Look at university societies, get on board with their marketing/editorial needs and get some experience that way. There are also usually a few job fairs a year. Go to these, chat to any publishers present in person, and get an idea of what they want from applicants.

Next up: search local. Look at local publishers/newspapers in your home and/or university town. Enquire about any internship or shadowing positions. They're likely to be unpaid, but if you do this early on, whilst you're still at uni, it's a good chance to spend a few weeks getting involved in the industry. I hate the idea of unpaid internships or summer positions as much as anybody, but sometimes it's what you've got to do to get your foot in the door.

Then: go global. Hear me out on this. Get freelancing. Search on twitter for jobs you can do at home, or in your local area. I found the job that the majority of my experience came from on Twitter, and I honestly would not be where I am without it. There are so many fab accounts that post/retweet jobs and publishing events going on. A few of my faves have to be: @jobsinbooks,  @pubjobsuk and @publishingjobs. There are so many accounts out there, and some of the bigger publishing houses like Penguin and Hachette have whole accounts dedicated to their careers sector. There are a whole other ways to find freelance publishing jobs, but Twitter is definitely a good start.

Finally, talk to careers advisors at your uni, or head to a recruitment branch. Talk about what you want to do and find out what you need, or what you can do to get there. With a good amount of experience behind you, it can and will happen, but it takes a while. I feel like I totally lucked out on some of my experience, but I really did work hard at securing it, and I hope chatting about some of the ways I did is helpful.

Follow me on Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Facebook

24 November 2017

3 products to help treat scarring *TW: self harm*

Products to help treat scarring *TW: self harm*

Products to help treat scarring *TW: self harm*

Scars are a weird one aren't they? No matter how you got it, it tells some kind of story, even if it's just a simple one. Some scars bother me and some scars don't, and I think that's the way it's always going to be. 

21 November 2017

What is it really like to work in a Wetherspoons?

What is it really like to work in a Wetherspoons?

What is it really like to work in a Wetherspoons?

What is it really like to work in a Wetherspoons?

I'm gonna kick start this by saying that I genuinely loved the time I spent working in a Wetherspoons. Everything is going to be a lil bit tongue-in-cheek in this post, and there's no malice intended behind my words. Also, it's not a weird Kopparberg spon, I just figured this post would be a fab excuse to buy one of my favourite ciders 'for the blog', ya know?

So, working at Wetherspoons was my first job post-uni, aka my first job as a degree holder. I'd never worked in a pub or restaurant before and honestly thought I'd hate the whole thing. But I loved it. It was hella stressful, and filled with long hours, but it was so sociable and relatively responsibility-free that I found it a (mostly) enjoyable experience.

Let's get to the nitty gritty of it. It's not as easy as it looks. They don't just let you loose serving alcohol all day when you start; you have to go for an all day training course before you do anything, and continue to do online training whilst you work there. Compared to a whole lot of other pubs you could work in, Wetherspoons are surprisingly strict. Just putting it out there, but a Spoonie knows what they're talking about when it comes to products. 

In case of a random inspection (which happens weekly), you have to know how to perfectly serve every single drink available, which glass it needs to go in, how much ice you need, etc etc. You even need to have things perfect down to the bottle facing the customer. It makes you disciplined and ensures that you know exactly what you're doing, so make sure you respect your server. 

Knowing what you're doing makes it even MORE frustrating when you get the customer that yells 'can you even pour a pint'. Because yes, you can. There's a whole bunch of things that can go wrong when you're pouring that are pretty uncontrollable, and sometimes a bad pint is unavoidable. But heckling isn't. Just don't do it. You're never going to get served a shoddy pint so just stahp. 

Before I worked there, I would never have thought this, but Wetherspoons pubs are hella clean in comparison to a LOT of other places. The close down routine at night is tough, takes forever, and makes you lose a bit of your soul each day. BUT, it's thorough. And this goes for the kitchens as well as bars. 

Yes, you start to question your decision to work there when you're well on your way to a twelve hour shift and you've just broken another glass because who doesn't get sloppy when you're tired? But a cheeky bit of takeout on your way home kinda solves all those problems.

I always thought that you'd face the real alcoholics as the day started to wind down, but that's definitely not the case. It's the men that come in every morning and wait at the bar until the clock ticks over to nine so that you can serve them their pint. This was the only part of the job that I really found upsetting, because drinking a pint of Rattler at 9am is not okay, and neither is insisting that your pint gets poured at 8:59 so you can hand over your money and start drinking at exactly 9. 

I learnt a whole lot whilst working there, but the scariest thing was that there's a special kind of 'sick sand' that exists in the world. It soaks up the liquid in sick, turning everything into lumpy sand so that you can sweep it up. We didn't have to use it very often, but the couple of times that we did were bad, sad days. The second worst thing I learnt was definitely that working in a pub on a hangover is never okay. Especially when someone orders a round of sambuca at 2pm and you have to pour the shots out. Not. Alright.

There's so much involved in being a Spoonie, and I honestly think everyone should have to give it a go to understand how unacceptable your behaviour can be, and why you should give someone that's clearly working hard to help you a break. From the 80 year old that asked me to wipe his bottom (of his glass) every day, to the guy that threw a pint of beer all over my manager at midday, there's always a strange one in the crowd, but there are some absolute gems of regular customers, that I really was sad to leave.

Follow me on Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Facebook

19 November 2017

Dealing with weight gain part nine: getting a desk job

Dealing with weight gain part nine: getting a desk job

Dealing with weight gain part nine: getting a desk job
In all honesty, when I initially decided I'd write this a few months back, I hoped that I'd be writing all about how good things have been for my weight gain, and how I felt a lot better about myself. But things have taken a different turn to my idealised version of events, and today I'm talking about the reality of things.

18 November 2017

How do I know what the right university subject for me is?

How do I know what the right university subject for me is?
Sometimes it feels like forever since I left uni, and sometimes it feels like just last week that I was moving into halls for the first time. University is such a massive change in your life, and it's terrifying to make all the decisions you need to: where to go, what to do, how to do it. 

17 November 2017

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

NEW LUSH Naked Winter skincare products*

Winter really feels as though it's here now. It's less than 5 weeks until Christmas (and guess who hasn't really started their Christmas shopping? *raises hand*), morning frosts are becoming more regular and holy poop on a scoop I am living for steamy showers and hot baths.