It's so cold and bleak outside, so I've got *the* cosiest post to share today. Last month I tried out my first Reading in Heels sub box and loved it (you can see the post on it here). This subscription box costs £10 and you get a book alongside 4 or 5 goodies to go with it. Basically it's my dream?? It's something that I was so SO excited to get in the post this month, and the little treats are things that I'm using gradually as the month wanes on.
LUSH really has gone all out for Easter this year haven't they? I always felt as though their Spring/Easter range was lacking a little, but there are so many new products this time around that I hardly know where to start.
Over the last couple of months I took a trip back down memory lane, re-reading the whole Harry Potter series. And it was an eye-opener. I probably last read the whole series through when I was 14/15, and I missed out on SO much when I did.
It's official: Instagram and I no longer have a relationship marked as 'it's complicated', but are fully back together again. Instagram's been ruining my life for the past year and a half-ish, with algorithm change after algorithm change stunting my growth and messing with my feed. I mean, all I want is to see the accounts I like and for my numbers to go up not down, ya know?
I've been scouring the shelves of LUSH for years now, and every so often I come across something that I've totally overlooked before and I wonder how I ever glanced past it before. That's 100% what happened here.
It has felt *almost* Spring-like this past week, hasn't it?! We've had clear blue skies, I've spied some snowdrops starting to pop their heads up, and it hasn't been bitingly cold. I'm so SO excited for Spring this year - the start of 2018 has been so hard for me, and I really feel as though the new season is going to help things get a lot easier. So, here are all the reasons why I'm excited for Spring (eeeek):
This is something that I've been putting off writing for a while, because do you know what? Being 18 is going to be hard. It's going to be one of the hardest years you've ever faced. It's a big year of change and a big year of everything getting a little too much, and you're going to struggle to handle it. So looking back on this time is tough, but I'm here to tackle it and guide you through.
My own company is my favourite company most of the time, but I like to make some exceptions. Valentine's Day is something that in the past I've found truly pressure-filled. It's been all about seeing everyone's gifts on social media and feeling overwhelmed, and dressing my best to go out for a meal to somewhere I've never been before.
It's the best day of the year today, aka the one where we all stuff our faces with glorious glorious pancakes. Okay, okay, it might come second or third to Christmas/birthdays, but it's definitely up there near the top.
Life seems tougher than ever for our generation. We're not under threat of conscription or war, like our grandparents, but oh my fuck our finances are crippling and we just don't have any down time. I mean, when was the last time you had an entire weekend away from the pressures of the internet, doing whatever you wanted without thinking about all the things you could have been doing? All of the Insta content you *could* get if you didn't spend all weekend in your PJs, or how much you could be expanding your CV if you'd taken up a hobby/were expanding your writing portfolio, etc etc.
Recently this pressure has really gotten to me. I genuinely struggled all through January and the start of February. I was getting up, writing three different to-do lists for the day, going to work, coming home and immediately getting to work on a variety of chores/blog work bits until it was bed time. I'd stopped drinking and doing things with friends because it was wasting time that could otherwise be productive.
I'd been putting myself under an insane amount of pressure to constantly be 'on' and I wasn't happy. But taking myself 'off' to do things I really wanted to do was filling me with absolute guilt because oh my god THAT was obviously why my life isn't where I want it to be, right?
For the past four or five days I've ditched the list pads, and I'm working on finding a balance between doing all the things I need to do (my washing pile is beckoning right now), and doing things that I love, and that won't further my career, or my blog, or my life prospects. And I've been so much more at peace with myself.
Today's post is really a reminder that you're not obliged to fill your weekends with things that others are doing, or things that you're forcing yourself to do. Just getting up is perfectly enough. We don't need to spend all day everyday forcing content out of ourselves, we don't need to do anything, and taking time off is needed.
January really was a bit of a shitshow wasn't it? I think I've mentioned how hard I found last month about twenty times on this blog now but oh my god it was awful. I *think* I've finally realised why I found it so hard (and I'll be writing a post on it in the future), but things have eased up a lot this week, and I'm so glad they have.
If any of you don't know, today is World Cancer Day. It's a day to help fundraise and raise awareness for a variety of charities that help fund research into finding a cure for cancer. It's also a day that is used to help raise awareness about the detection, treatment and prevention of cancer. It's a day for opening up and reducing stigma about cancer.
This year I really want to get back into reading more blogs. I mean, I'm pretty sure I say this every time I write one of these posts, BUT THIS TIME I'M GOING TO REALLY DO IT, OKAY? (Possibly). Having said that, I wasn't *exactly* brill at it in January, but in the last week or so I've totally binged out on reading a whole tonne of posts from new people I've followed recently, and bloggers that I've been following and loving for yonks.
First up is Aimee from Aimee Raindrop Writes. This girl is one of my fave internet turned IRL pals and heading out for coffee and a catch up is one of my highlights every month or so! Aimee's blog has started to get a bit more personal recently, and she's touched on a really important topic in her post about what happens when pregnancy hopes don't go to plan. I had a big ol read of pretty much everything she's posted in the last month recently, and I came away geared up to buy so many new books.
Next is Shannon from That Daring Darling. Not only is she a librarian(! - literally the dream), but her recent bookish tag post is everything I've ever wanted in a tag. Which reminds me that I really want to do it soon. It's an A-Z book tag that covers so much and I absolutely devoured the post. I had to follow Shannon after reading it, and now I can't wait for more bookish posts.
And finally we have Kerstin from Miss Getaway. Her post on why we should stop judging people in 2018 is my favourite post I've read so far this year. It was a much-needed reminder to me that I really am too quick to judge at times, and that I need to rein it in and lift people up instead. This is another blogger whose content I'm really excited to keep up with for the rest of the year.
January has (finally) been and gone. I am so glad to see the back of it, and this post is a little overdue because I've been feeling too down to write. But I'm back (for the weekend at least).
I've moved away from YA fiction this month to explore more adult fiction. It's something that I don't read masses of, but at the moment I'm absolutely devouring The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne and it's opened my eyes to the fact that there is some amazing adult fiction out there.
A lot of the books this month are ones I picked #fortheaesthetic because oh my gosh these covers are beautiful. I'm hoping that their contents are just as pleasing.
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang. After gaining massive success in Korea, this book has come to the UK. The cover is one of my favourites I think I've ever come across. The novel (or novella - it looks like a v. quick read) is all about a hen who's sick of laying eggs. She sees the other animals roaming freely and wants to do it herself. I imagine this has an Animal Farm-esque quality about it.
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus. I haven't picked up a good dystopian novel in a long time. I'm ready to start reading more, so please pass on any recommendations if you have any! The Flame Alphabet is all about a virus that spreads through the speech of children. The words of children have become lethal, and this book tests how far we will go to stay with the people we love, even if they're a danger to us.
Birds Art Life Death by Kyo Maclear. This is the book I got in January's Reading in Heels subscription box (which you can read here). The book takes you through each season, examining the small and significant in life. It follows the path of a birdwatcher, and explores how taking notice of the birds can impact everything.
The Good People by Hannah Kent. This novel is another one with a dreamy cover. Nora Leahy lost her husband and daughter, and is left with a grandson with a terrible illness. Terrified that others in her village might take his inability to speak and walk as sign of a hidden evil, Nora covers up his existence. But she wants him to be better, and the only wait to make him better is to get in touch with the Good People ...
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I picked up A Man of the People by the same author a couple of months ago, and I'm keen to expand my collection. This book is actually the first book in a trilogy ending in A Man of the People, so I basically need to get the middle book now too! The novel is set in Nigeria, and follows the life of a local wrestling champion, Okonkwo, and examines the impact of British colonialism.
The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion. Graeme Simsion is an author I fell in love with when I read The Rosie Project. I pretty much want to read everything he's ever written (or will ever write) now because that was just such a sweet story. The main character is a pianist, about to turn fifty, who's been married for over twenty years. But when an ex-lover comes into the foray, Adam's head is turned, and he has a tough decision to make.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. A lot of the books I bought this month are ones that I've never read by authors I know and love. Donoghue is the author of ROOM, which is one of my favourite books that I read last year. The Wonder is all about an eleven-year-old girl called Anna living in Ireland who hasn't eaten in months. With tourists flocking to visit the child surviving off manna from heaven, a nurse is sent to her bedside to attempt to keep her alive.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. I've heard so many rave reviews about this thriller. Anna and Marco are a young couple with a friendly relationship with their neighbours. But after a crime is committed, suspicions arise, and everybody realises that they may not know each other as well as they previously thought.
So Much for That by Lionel Shriver. This author wrote my favourite contemporary novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, so I leapt at the chance to read another book by Shriver. This one promises to be just as heart-wrenching as WNTTAK. Shep Knacker has been saving a nest egg to travel to a retreat with his wife in their old age. When he lets his wife knows he's finally ready, she tells him she's sick, and he spends his nest egg on her treatment. I imagine that this is going to be v. harrowing, but so heartwarming at the same time.