Current Life Favourites | February, 2020


I used to do favourites posts quite a bit over on this corner of the Internet, but I fell out of doing them as I wasn't sure whether people found them pointless. But having recently realised that I will always read someone's life favourites as I'm a nosy person, I figured what's the harm in doing one myself? If this is something you enjoy to read, let me know! Feedback is always welcome.

I've never been someone who played video games, so I'd never heard of Animal Crossing or Pocket Camp until having met my partner. I know, where was I living? Does Wales count as living under a rock? Anne, asking the big questions. Anyhow, after having seen my husband play around on the app and dressing up his little cartoon character, I wanted in. Since then I have reached level 154 and have wasted many hours playing around with my camp an awwwing at the cat characters. But in all seriousness, I find the app also really helps occupy my mind on those nights where your thoughts are acting as boulders on your sanity. The innocence of it all is far better than finding yourself scrolling through the toxicity of social media at 3am.

Ever find a mug that not only fits perfectly in your hand, but also holds just the right amount of liquid for that nighttime cup of peppermint? This Cat Mug by Now Designs is my version of just that. I absolutely adore it. It's also dishwasher and microwave safe which is now something I look for in a mug because apparently, I'm an adult. When did that happen?

I'm not really a TV show binger unless I'm with my mum as that seems to be our only mutual hobby. However I recently put on the first episode of Jane The Virgin on Netflix to act as background noise and found myself, 5 days later, finishing season one. I'm obsessed. It's made me laugh, cry, and feel empowered as a woman. What more can you possibly want from a show? This is about a girl named Jane who is a virgin (bet you didn't see that one coming) and accidentally gets inseminated during a standard check-up. When she finds out she's pregnant, things begin to change in her life. The plot seems silly and far-fetched, but instead it makes for a hilarious show that could rival any telenovela. And it may have a bigger love triangle than Twilight. Yup, I said it.

I recently became a member of the Bookstagram community by starting up my own page @BranchingPages. I was constantly posting book photos on my regular Instagram account and wanted something entirely dedicated to this niche. I have fallen entirely out of love with social media, I got my heart broken through a lot of them and it's made the entire world bitter tasting to me. I always sign out hating myself for some new reason, or just feeling deflated as memories refuse to not resurface with scrolling. It's my own personal demon. However, since joining this wonderful community of readers, I've experienced such a joyful attitude to taking photos again. I lost my passion and though it hasn't 100% resurfaced (I'm no longer sure whether it will) it's lovely to have something of my own back again. Plus the community on there is so kind, generous, and active that I never once felt out of a place. A feeling that I think the blogging community too often causes.

Snacks are the way to enjoy life, I will forever stand by this statement. Being more of a savoury person, crisps (or chips if you're in America) are my guilty-pleasure. So when I spotted these more 'acceptable to eat the whole bag' option, I thought I'd give it a try. Here starts our love story. Okay, bit dramatic. The Harvest Snaps Green Pea Snack Crisps in the Caesar flavor are wonderful and I've embarrassingly woken up a few times and wanted them for breakfast. On a recent trip back to the UK, they were the only thing I craved and nothing could satisfy the urge as there really isn't anything like these. Sure, pea crisps have become more popular but the texture can be entirely off and cardboardy. It's only the Harvest Snaps brand that has aced it in my eyes, and I may be reaching for some as I type this. Is this paragraph too lengthy for the subject of crisps? Probably. Try them if you can, I strongly recommend.

I've recently been looking into fonts to design what will hopefully be my first tattoo and it's really sparked my joy for graphic editing again. Granted, I do it entirely for fun but I think it's healthy to have hobbies that stay in the 'enjoyment' bracket of life. I've personally been spending hours scrolling through the Dafont site ogling and downloading too many new fancy fonts that I may not use. Yay! Efficient use of my time. What's your favourite site to download fonts from?

Did I ever think that a Cat Litter Genie would be on this list? No, never. But alas, here it is. I couldn't write this post without mentioning the genie that has made life so much easier for both me and my husband. I won't go on and on as I wrote up an entire review of it which you can read over at Is The Cat Litter Genie Worth It? It is a luxury item that you most definitely don't need in life, but it truly makes for an easier morning and night. No longer do I have to wrestle with poop bags that will forever slide down into the bin and make for a messy and icky situation.

So there are a few life favourites that I've been enjoying lately! What would be on your list? Let me know! And please, as I mentioned above, tell me what you think of these type of blog posts. Do you find them boring, interesting, or just meh?

Inside Birchbox | February 2020


If you've kept up with this series at all, you'd of noticed that I took a two month break. For once in my life, it wasn't because I was too lazy and/or forgetful to write up the blog posts (shock!) instead I simply cancelled my membership for a little while  due to the added costs that Christmas brings to our bank balance. However, I am now back and have decided to dedicate myself to a 12 month subscription as you save a significant amount of cash doing it that way. Unlike most 12-month subscriptions, you don't have to pay the nauseating price upfront, it still gets paid monthly you just can't cancel the subscription. Not too shabby. I was late resubscribing so I didn't get the joy of choosing my products/a curated box, so here's what Birchbox 'surprised' me with..

Brand: Embryolisse
Product: Filaderme Emulsion
Full-sized details: $32
Sample size received: 15ml
Who doesn't enjoy a face cream? I have yet to find my all-time favourite, so I'm always happy to try out a new one. The scent of this gives me minor baby lotion vibes which I like but I can see how it might be a little too powdery smelling for some people.

Brand: R+CO
Product: HIGH DIVE Moisture + Shine Creme
Full-sized details: $29
Sample size received: 15ml
With Birchbox, you always tend to get at least one hair product which is great, you know, good to experiment. However, these creme type products last me forever as I only need a tiny amount to the roots of my hair. I have multiple unopened samples in my bathroom cupboard, which is something I don't like. I pride myself on using my Birchbox samples throughout the month, so that I'm running low by the time I get my next box. It makes the price point seem worth it. So having a lot of products from this brand unopened makes me angsty. I'd much rather hair products such as hairspray, heat protectors, or masks in my boxes.

Brand: Georgette Klinger
Product: Coconut Cleansing Milk
Full-sized details: $10 - $22
Sample size received: 15ml
I've recieved this exact sample before, and sadly, I found the product left my skin feeling tight and a little dry. Not what you want when you're trying to nourish your skin! However, I will still use this up in the shower I'll just follow it up with a face oil and a deep moisturiser.

Brand: Sunday Riley
Product: C.E.I. Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil
Full-sized details: $40-$80
Sample size received: 5ml
I love a good face oil, especially in sample form as they tend to be on the pricey side. I have tried multiple Sunday Riley products through Birchbox, and have loved them all so this excites me. 5ml doesn't seem like much, but due to the fact that you usually only need a few little drops per use, I do find that a sample of this size will last me a month. Sometimes even 6ish weeks.

Brand: Purlisse
Product: Daily Lip Nourisher
Full-sized details: $16
Sample size received: 4.5ml
I received this same sample in my November Birchbox, and I actually still have some product from that despite using it multiple times a week. Quite impressive! As I mentioned in that blog post, this does not smell (or taste) anything like mango, instead it strongly resembles the smell of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. I do like it, but it can be a little gloopy if too much is applied.

There we have it. You may of noticed, like I did, that there were only 5 items this month. Which is pretty odd given that the price of Birchbox is the same and all products were of a regular size/price. We'll see if this continues on into March. Are you subscribed to any monthly boxes? I'd love to know.

Reasons Why I'm A Cat Person


Why is it socially acceptable to say you hate cats, but not dogs? On behalf of the cat kingdom I say: "Hey! Not fair!" I wasn't a cat lady until I had a cat, but before that dogs were never my cup of tea. I loved my childhood dog (obviously), but that was different as she was always more of a sister to me than an animal. Cats are my spirit animal. They're all or nothing, a saint or sinner, but always so cute. Here are the many ways I love them. 

Say what you will about kitties and their way of showing love, but once they love you, you're their favourite person on the planet. No one else will do. I appreciate that kind of dedication in my life.

Cat Paws
I mean, Google image them. Eeek, so squishy!

Easier To Entertain
You just need a laser and a little twitch of the wrist. You can do that whilst laying in bed, watching a movie cuddled on the couch, or even as you eat pizza with the other hand. Don't get your exercise, kids!

They have the cutest noses of the animal kingdom, don't @ me. Look at this adorableness. Untouchable.

Cats know how to leave you alone for a few hours, which is something all pet owners need at times. A cat has their independence and that's something I can respect. They're like mini humans, only more saintly.

A more serious one for me personally, but I really appreciate not having to walk our cats like you do a dog. I have a chronic illness and some days I can't even contemplate going on a decent walk due to pain. Cats are fairly low maintenance in that regard. They just want to play, which as mentioned above, can be done from a couch or bed.

The Way They Lick
You probably think I'm reaching by now, but watch this and then disagree with me.

What do you love about cats? #CatPeopleUnite

Side-note: This post is quite obviously for fun, don't set the dogs on me.

Artichoke + Caper Spaghetti RECIPE | Pasta Friday #1


I love pasta. You probably love pasta. It's the food of life. If I had to eat one food for the remainder of my life I'd be looking past pizza and potatoes and searching for the glorious pasta. I have so many pasta recipes in my repertoire, it's almost silly. In the Kristin Hannah book 'Summers Island' the characters make a similar recipe to this one, I merely adapted it to suit my pallet.

 I N G R E D I E N T S
  • Spaghetti (guess the amount you need, if using 1/2 standard sized pack it makes roughly 3-4 portions)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (low sodium is preferable)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine (optional)


  • Bring a pot of water to the boil.
  • In a deep pan, heat up a tablespoon of oil and cook your onion and garlic together until translucent. 
  • Add a splash of red wine, your herbs&spices, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour in your can of tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil.
  • Add in your (chopped and drained) artichoke hearts and capers, lower the heat and continue cooking for roughly 15 minutes. The sauce ought to thicken as it shimmers. 
  • As your sauce thickens, cook your spaghetti to your own personal liking.
  • Once both are done, drain the spaghetti making sure not to rinse.
  • Combine pasta with sauce and mix well. 
  • Sprinkle with either Parmesan or nutritional yeast. Enjoy!

What's your favourite pasta dish? Has a book ever inspired you to cook? Let me know!

Tome Topple TBR Round 10


This Friday (February 7th, 2020) the Tome Topple readathon starts. Originally created by Samantha (@thoughtsontomes) on Booktube, this is a fortnight long readathon that's purpose is to conquer those 500+ page books that stare dauntingly at you from your TBR pile. This is round 10 of the readathon, but will be my first time participating. As mentioned, this will run from midnight in your timezone on February 7th to 11:59pm in your timezone on February 20th! If you want to hear more info about this, I highly encourage you to check out Samatha's Youtube video HERE where she explains all about the readathon and goes through each prompt, and go on over to the Tome Topple Readathon Group on Goodreads for suggestions.

As with most readathons, Tome Topple has some prompts to encourage you to branch out of your comfort-zone a little. Skilfully fly through the prompts by checking them off your bingo-style card, as pictured below, and become either a Student, Scholar, or Sage. Each book can work for a total of 2 prompts, which I'm definitely taking advantage off as my hope is to reach Sage level. (wish me luck!)

Prompt(s) | Tome for Black History Month & Adult Tome
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is already on my TBR for the first quarter of the year (read all about that HERE or at the bottom of this post), so it seems only logical to pick it up sooner rather than later. This is about a young couple, Ifemelu and Obinze as they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. This sounds heavy, but I've only ever seen glowing reviews. Long book but I imagine, worth the journey.

Prompt(s) | Standalone Tome & Tome from a genre you don't usually read
For this I'm going to reread The Host by Stephenie Meyer. This was and I suppose, still is one of my favourite books of all time. However, I first read this when I was heavily in my Twihard faze (around 12 years-old) and haven't given this novel a reread in over 5 years. Will it still stand-up? Or was it just better in comparison to a lot of the YA books I read as a teen? The Host is set in an apocalyptic world where an alien race known as 'Souls' are taking over human bodies. Wanda is one of those souls. She has been put into the body of Melanie Stryder, but there's a problem, Melanie is still there in Wanda's consciousness and she's making Wanda ache for the human life that her body used to live. Together they have to learn to navigate this new world.

Prompt(s) | Tome Audiobook & the Tome on your TBR with the most pages
Before the year started, me and my husband @BilliamSWN decided to put a book on each-other's 20 in 20 TBR. I gave him The Book Thief and he gave me the humongous book that is 11/22/63 by Stephen King. From what I can gather without risking spoilers, this is about a regular guy who gets given the task of going back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. I don't have a great history with King's work, so I'm giving myself the choice of DNF'ing this at 50% if I'm not enjoying it. If that happens, I will instead pick up Pachinko
by Min Jin Lee.

So, to summarise, for Round 10 of Tome Topple I'm hoping to read:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
11/22/63 by Stephen King

I know, I know.. I'm missing another book to complete the challenge. Here I could use some help, I'm debating between Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter, and The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath. All of these have been on my TBR for a similar amount of time, and though my heart sreams to read more Plath, I kind of want to savour her journals and not rush them to finish the book in a specific time-frame. Help!

January Book Wrap-Up 2020


January is always disheartening when your Goodreads Reading Challenge restarts and you're back at the beginning. However, it can also be incredibly uplifting to start anew and begin a new year of incredible books. I was surprised by how many novels I got to in the first month of the year. Here's my Wrap-Up. 

Three Women
by Lisa Taddeo 

“One inheritance of living under the male gaze for centuries is that heterosexual women often look at other women the way a man would.”

This is a non-fiction book marketed as a look into the sex lives of three very different women, who each have a story to tell. We have a young girl who gets involved in a relationship with her teacher, the power balance taking away her self worth. A woman who has a husband that enjoys watching her with other men and woman in the bedroom. And lastly, a mid-aged woman who starts an affair with an old flame, in a bid to find her own sexual desire. Trigger warnings for sexual assault, underage grooming, and cheating.  Though I found each woman's story interesting, I just couldn't really tell what the Author intended to get across in this book. Instead of talking and/or showcasing women's desires it seemed to be more about the ways that men control women's passion. I was expecting a more feminist read, but instead it left me feeling disheartened by our world.

Rating: ★★★

Forever, Interrupted
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"Have you ever heard of supernovas? They shine brighter than anything else in the sky and then fade out really quickly, a short burst of extraordinary energy. I like to think you and Ben were like that . . . in that short time, you had more passion than some people have in a lifetime."

Elsie and Ben are have only been married 10 days when Ben is tragically killed in a bicycle accident. Interweaving Elsie's shared grief with Ben's mother (a woman she meets for the first time after Ben's death) and her and Ben's whirlwind romance, this is exactly the type of book you expect from Taylor Jenkins Reid. It's equally heartfelt and rom-comy, but without the expected cheesiness that usually comes with those themes. This isn't my favourite TJR book but I think that's partly down to my lack of connection with Elsie and Ben's relationship, it just all seemed to be tied together too perfectly. Still a 4 star read from my favourite author.

Rating: ★★★★

by Michelle Obama

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

This is a beloved book about a powerful woman who has inspired so many in a country that now lacks that humanity. As a Welsh girl now living in America, I didn't know what I would take from this memoir as I'm very unfamiliar with the politics of the US. However, what Michelle Obama manages with this novel is breathtaking. I listened to the audiobook (which I strongly recommend you do) and didn't once miss the photos as Michelle paints such vivid memories I didn't feel like I needed them, which I think is a big nod to her writing. I fell for the Obama family and wished I could befriend Michelle by the end of the book. This is a powerful read for many, but especially women. If you've been putting this off in fear of it being too dry, don't. You will fly through it, trust me.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Land Of Stories: The Evil Enchantress Returns
by Chris Colfer

“Having something worth telling and a passion to tell it are what make you a good writer. I can't tell you how many times I've read novels or articles that used complicated words and witty wordplay to cover up the fact that they had absolutely no story to tell. A good story should be enjoyed; sometimes simplicity can go a long way.”

It's time for another adventure for Alex and Conner Bailey. This time in the form of having to bring down The Evil Enchantress, the witch who cursed Sleeping Beauty, who has returned to the land of stories with a vengeance unlike any our fairy-tale friends have seen before. For a middle grade series, this is incredibly engaging. I can't always tell where Colfer is going to go with the characters and I enjoy the entwining he does to connect so many of the fairy-tale stories. Highly recommend the audiobooks for something fun and easy to listen to.

Rating: ★★★★

Beyond The Moon
by Catherine Taylor

*This was kindly sent to me for reviewing purposes*

When Louisa, a modern day girl who gets drunk on the day of her Grandma's funeral, falls off a cliff and gets herself committed to a shoddily run psychiatric hospital, finds herself suddenly transported to 1916 into the room of wounded solider Robert, she has to question whether this is an act of fate and whether she has the means to get home. This had such an interesting plot, so I was very excited to dive into this time-travelling WW1 historical fiction. It sounded unlike anything I had ever picked up. Catherine Taylor succeeded in painting the picture WW1 without sugarcoating anything. The descriptions of the many wounded soldiers and the lengths that the medical personal had to go to just to hopefully save a life was, at times, truly difficult to read. However, I think the overall novel was too long. Louisa and Robert had the means to be a couple that I rooted for, but the instalove paired with the lack of depth to the beginning of their romance left me feeling a little cold. All in all, I would pick up something else by this author as the originality of this story was a breath of fresh air.

Rating: ★★★ (2.5)

Imaginary Friend
by Stephen Chbosky

"We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.”

When Christopher and his mother move to a small town, the adolescent boy suddenly finds himself hearing voices and venturing out in the middle of the night to the big woods that take up a large part of the town. He convinces his friends to help him build a treehouse that his 'invisible friend' needs, but what does he need for it? This is what I imagine would've come from Stephan King rewriting Good Omens. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is my all-time favourite book so I was beyond enthusiastic to read the authors second ever book. When I heard it was going to be of the horror genre, I was dubious. But after starting this 25 hour audiobook I thought my worries were for nought. I was really enjoying it and found myself listening to over half in one sitting. (I listen at x2 speed) But the more, and more, and more, and more the book went on I grew incredibly bored. This could've easily been 300 pages less than it was. By the time the climax of the book came, I found myself just not caring. The characters all started to be samey, and the characters never really had growth. I'm so disappointed.

Rating: ★★★

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

"Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy."

This is a classic children's book so I needn't bother with a synopsis. Me and my husband have started an odd tradition of him reading out loud the classic stories that I missed out on as a child. This is so bittersweet and tragic that I know I would've loved it as a kid, especially in my later childhood. It's worth a read even as an adult, as I think everyone can get something out of this much like The Velveteen Rabbit.

Rating: ★★★★★

Tin Man
by Sarah Winman

“And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.”

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of an overbearing father. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more. Do you ever finish a book and immediately want to reread it as you feel like you didn't get the full experience? This is a book that needs to be devoured in one sitting, and then read slowly to savour the beautiful writing, lovable characters, and the tears that will inevitably fall from your eyes.

Rating: ★★★★★

My Sister The Serial Killer
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.”

Korede's sister, Ayoola, has killed multiple men. She always said it was self defence but Korede is no longer sure whether her decision to help her sister hide the bodies was wise. When Ayoola takes a romantic interest in her sisters long-time crush, her older sister has to decide how far she's willing to hurt for family. This was a very short audiobook so I went in entirely blind, it was exactly what I was expecting. Fast paced, entertaining, with irritating characters that I loved to hate. Would definitely recommend if you enjoy a good character-driven domestic thriller, but with a sisterly twist instead of the usual married couple.

Rating: ★★★★

Red, White, & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

Alex Claremont-Diaz's mother is the first female president of the United States, that 2016 election went far better in fiction. Prince Henry is the member of the British Royal Family who wants out (awkward) as he's hiding the secret of his sexuality. When the two come into contact at a party, they instantly hate each other. But time moves forward the way it does, and they soon find themselves falling for one another. I liked this book, I really did. It was cute and a fun audiobook that warmed my heart. However, this was largely marketed as a hate-to-love romance which it most definitely was not. Within 100 pages Henry and Alex were in a full romantic sexy-time relationship, so I felt a little played with that. I wanted more angst, especially given the size of the book.

by Johanna Spyri

“Flowers are made to bloom in the sun and not to be shut up in an apron.”

This is the story of a young girl, Heidi, and the relationships she builds with other children and adults throughout her life-changing event of going to live with her grandfather in the snowy alps of Switzerland. This was absolutely adorable. I'm not a religious person at all, but the faith that some of these fictional characters had was truly beautiful to read. The descriptions of the landscapes and bitter cold made for a very atmospheric read, which I wasn't expecting from what is essentially children's literature The epitome of a cosy read.

The Giver Of The Stars
by Jojo Moyes

“There is always a way out of a situation. Might be ugly. Might leave you feeling like the earth had gone and shifted under your feet. But there is always a way around.”

Set in the the depression-era of America, a group of unlikely woman coming together to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s travelling library. Alice, a newly married English woman, signs on enthusiastically in an effort to escape the expectations put upon her as a wife. Her unlikely ally, smart-talking Margery, is a woman beyond her time. She knows of the greatness women can achieve. When a death occurs and blame hovers around the library, the men of the town begin to question how much power a woman should possess. There's been controversy around this novel as many say it was heavily "inspired" by another woman's work, but as I haven't read the compared book, I haven't got a right to comment on it. I really enjoyed this novel, it stayed on the same league as Moyes's other novels The Girl You Left Behind and The Last Letter To My Lover. I felt empowered as I read, inspired by the risks that these fictionalised women made.

What did you read in January?

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