Things To Consume For Happiness

3/27/2020


We are currently in the midst of a truly terrifying time. A good portion of us are stuck at home feeling very helpless and seeking out distractions that will both aid in lifting our mood and taking our mind off the devastation that is taking over the world. Here are my recommendations for everything of this nature:


Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
This is a current show airing on NBC (and Hulu), but I'm pretty sure the first two episodes are available to watch on Youtube. Zoey is a tech girl who gains the ability to hear people singing the songs that most portray their inner emotions after the entire online music catalogue gets jammed into her head during an MRI. This is my most recent obsession, it's light-hearted while not being a sitcom, the songs are feel good and beautifully done (sometimes there's even dancing!), and all the characters are wonderfully unique. It stars Lauren Graham, which was enough of a selling point to me. If you liked Kimmy Schmidt and/or Glee, then you'll like this. Give it a try.


Pocket Camp/Animal Crossing
I know the entire Internet is currently abuzz with Animal Crossing: New Horizons hype, but as someone who is poor and dislikes sharing a Switch with someone, I'm happy to stick with the free app Pocket Camp which is basically the same game though limited. I find happiness in dressing up my little animal friends, catching fish to distract myself from those gloomy 2am thoughts, and all-in-all like having something mindless that doesn't necessarily keep me awake longer than I should. Bonus: It isn't social media. I can't push this game strongly enough if you're a person who deals with nighttime anxiety. It's very soothing, give it a try.


Anna Kendrick
Whether it's marathoning the Pitch Perfect trilogy, reading her book Scrappy Little Nobody, listening to any soundtrack with her involved, rewatching her lip-sync battles, or reliving the utter crazy that was The Twilight Saga, you literally can't not be happy when consuming anything involving Anna Kendrick. She's a ray of freaking sunshine with the mouth of a sailor.


Books
Books are the most realistic escapism you're going to get. Your mind can't digest a book and be freaking out over the apocalypse simultaneously, well, it probably can but that just means your book isn't distracting enough. Reading is a personal thing, so you may already have a genre that you reach for when looking for something to grab your undivided attention. Personally, I find rom-com type books or thrillers to be the most engaging for me when stressed, so... For rom-comness I recommend The Hating Game by Sally Thorne or The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, both are great if you want quick-wit dialogue and smutty goodness. For thrillers I recommend anything by Riley Sager or Ruth Ware. Their entire catalogues are fun and not entirely predictable.


Food Network
When is a cooking show not comfort television? It's no secret that me and my husband constantly watch and push Guy's Grocery Games onto people. It's one of our favourite shows and has some weird rewatchablity that not many cooking competitions have. But if that's not your jam (judging you.. joking.. kind of), Ace Of Cakes is the ultimate feelgood show with a great group of people, all of whom you will grow to adore. Jeff is the best. However, you will want cake when watching so make sure you have baking supplies. In a similar sense, when is The Great British Bake Off not good for the soul? This one is on Netflix, so I'm kind of cheating, but it's for a good cause. Watch Mary Berry say 'soggy bottom' a few dozen times and your body will relax.

There we have it! Quite obviously, hobbies are a great way to occupy yourself, but rather impossible to recommend as your hobbies are, well, your hobbies. I like to paint, fill up my bullet journal, and am currently in the midst of learning to knit. What hobby are you thinking of picking up?

Keep safe, 

5 Star Book Predictions: Update 2020 | Was I Right?

3/25/2020

Last year I did a blog post where I wrote all about 5 books that I thought I was going a 5 star rating to (Check it out HERE), was I right? Was I way wrong? Let's find out together. I'll be referring to my Goodreads to get each rating that I gave the books, so be sure to go befriend me there. Let's bond over books!

So, my first prediction was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a classic that I had never read. This is of course a novel about the life of a young lady named Jane Eyre and the adventures/misdeeds she goes through. I did enjoy this book for what it is, I found the writing compelling and stayed up far too late for 'just one more chapter'. However, I found the last half of the book semi boring and with each tragic turn I grew a little too exasperated to continue reading in large chunks. Overall I gave this a solid 4 star rating, so technically I failed, but it was very close.
Rating: 4/5 stars.

Second, I predicted The Help by Kathryn Stockett to be a 5 star book and it most definitely was. I fell in love with this story set in the 1960's surrounding a white woman who decides to write a novel about the lives of the black women who have raised both her and the other people in her life. I know this is quite a dividing book as many deem it problematic, but I felt captivated by the story and grew truly fond of each female character. I felt empowered while reading this, which is a difficult accomplishment. I loved it, and devoured it in two sittings.
Rating: 5/5

Thirdly I chose The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, the latest release by one of my favourite authors. A surefire thing, right? Oy Vey. I didn't hate this survivalist story, but I definitely didn't enjoy it. Set in Alaska this is centred around a young girl who gets moved to the middle of nowhere by her father who has PTSD after serving in the war. Once there they prepare for Winter, a time that everyone warns them will be life or death - no daylight, predators, lack of food. Will they survive? This was one of those books that read like torture porn in many ways. I know many say that A Little Life is like that, but I could look past that as Jude's past always helped develop the story. The Great Alone however seemed gloomy for the sake of being gloomy. I felt like I needed a shower after I turned the last page. Huge disappointment.
Rating: 2.5/5



 Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson was my fourth pick. Epic fantasies aren't something that I usually read, but I do have a huge soft spot for Sanderson's world building and strong female characters. This was the epitome of a 5 star read. Set in the political world of Nalthis, Vivenna and Siri are sisters. The oldest of the sisters has been destined since birth to marry the God king of a viral nation and because of this, the youngest goes through life unnoticed. But when something unexpected happens, their lives get put into a tailspin of mercenaries, powered swords, and a royal court. Though huge, this read quickly with great character development and enough intrigue to keep me from ever getting bored.
Rating: 5/5

My fifth prediction was Educated by Tara Westover. Another survivalist story but with much much much higher stakes. This is a memoir written by a woman who was brought up by a family of survivalists. She didn't see doctors, didn't have a proper childhood, and never went to school until she decided to educate herself. Now she had a PHd and writes words in books that I have to Google. This is a horrible book to read but one that you just have to. Her life story broke my heart but left me with glimmers of hope and a whole heap of inspiration. I always feel weird rating memoirs, but I gave this 4 stars for the sake of this blog post. I enjoyed it, but felt like it dragged a little. Which is heavily critical as it's her story to tell. But yeah, as solely a reader, 4 stars.
Rating: 4/5

Lastly, I chose A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Translated from Swedish, this hilarious yet heartbreaking story revolves around Ove, a grump old man who recently lost his wife and job. Because of this he decides to do the only thing that makes sense to him, he's going to kill himself. But with each attempt comes a distraction from the new neighbours - a loud but endearing family. I've never laughed as tears ran down my cheeks so many times during a book. This was just beautiful and put Fredrik Backman on the shortlist for one of my favourite authors. Ever. However, and I say this was a heavy heart, I gave this book 4.5 stars. I know, I know. There were some fatphobic comments that really got to me and I just couldn't look past them despite my love for the story. Deary me.
Rating: 4.5/5

So, yes, not bad but definitely not great. One fell quite short while others got dishearteningly close to their predicted 5 stars. Be sure to check out 5 Star Book Predictions Part II which will be up soon!

Have you read any of these? 
What book on your TBR do you predict that you'll give 5 stars to? 


Intimidating TBR Book Tag

3/19/2020


In light of the current mess that is our scary world, I decided to post more over the next couple of weeks to give both myself and you lovely readers a (hopefully) book escape. What better way is there than a book tag? Feel free to tell me your answers to any of these questions in the comments, over on twitter, or do this tag yourself on your blog! I officially tag you! Let's get on with it.. 

1) What book have you been unable to finish?
Over the past year or so I've gotten much better at choosing to DNF books, the giving up guilt has slid off me. There are just too many books to be read in the world to forsake precious reading time with a novel you're feeling 'meh' about. The last book I DNF'd was The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, I tried both the physical book and the audiobook to no avail. I found the story long-winded, the characters too bland, and overall it bored me. Welp.

2) What book have you yet to read because you just haven't had the time?
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. I enjoy a fantasy every now and again, but they take me a while to get through without always puts me off picking this up despite the multitude of glowing reviews and the fact it's on my '20 Books I Want To Read In 2020'.

3) What book have you yet to read because it's a sequel? 
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. I read The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet last year and really enjoyed it, but I just haven't yet felt compelled to pick up the second of the series. These books are what the world of Firefly would be like if it was written as a book series instead of a show, which really sings to my heart. Soon my pretty, soon.





4) What book have you yet to read because it's brand new?
One of my most recent book purchases is King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo which I found at my library's bookstore for a grand total of $1. I've seen this book absolutely everywhere online, but I'm still not 100% sure whether I can read the first book of this trilogy without ever having read any of her past books. Help?

5) What book have you yet to read because you read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it?
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. I've read both her other books and despite kind of liking The Goldfinch, I loathed The Secret History. So I'm in a complicated relationship with the author. Yet I still want to read The Little Friend so I can say that I've read everything the author has written.

6) What book have you yet to read because you're just not in the mood for it?
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I know that sounds awful, but I really struggle to pick up non-fiction that I'm not in the mood for and yet it's a genre I'm never really psyched to pick up. Sooo.. yes. I know the importance of the book and for that I keep trying to force myself into picking it up, yet I know if I force it, it has the risk of putting me into a reading slump. The fear!

7) What book have you yet to read because it's humongous?
I don't easily get put off by a books length as I'm a huge mood reader so I just wait for what feels like the right time. However, spinning this question on it's head a little, I do really want to catch up with the Throne Of Glass series by Sarah J Mass, I left off on the third book but I know each novel in the series just continued to get bigger and bigger so I fear how long it would take me to read them all. They're total trash books, but that's just what you sometimes need. Reading is meant to be fun, after all.

8) What book have you yet to read because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. Big Little Lies is one of my favourite books, I loved the characters and laughed out loud multiple times. The moment I finished it, I read almost all of Liane's other books. I didn't love any of them as much as I did Big Little Lies, but they were fun. Cliche fun. I was excited to read her newest novel but the majority of reviews I've read have disliked it. For that read it's sat on my shelf for close to a year now untouched.

9) What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have no idea why I keep getting drawn to this novel, but there's about three things I'm absolutely positive. First, this is a large daunting novel. Second, there's a part of it-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that many seem problematic. And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably interested in it. (name that twisty turny quote) Anyway, odd tangent aside, I just keeping putting this maaahhhussive book on my TBR. So, guess that's gonna happen someday soon.






Again, let me know your answers to any of the questions above! Let's escape from the world by talking about books. 

Stay safe,

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen | Book Review [spoiler-free]

3/15/2020


From the women that brought us The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl comes a new exciting thriller that has been pegged as the most anticipated thriller of the year by various outlets. I was a little hesitant going into this as I didn't have a great time reading their two previous novels The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl. Though I did find The Wife Between Us interesting, the domestic abuse element of the story rubbed me the wrong way. I also physically read it, which having now chosen to go with the audiobooks for both their other novels, I realise was a huge mistake. It read too long. So, learning my lesson I then picked up An Anonymous Girl via audiobook from my local library, which gave an overall better reading experience despite giving it a 2.5 rating. I digress, basically I chose to listen to You Are Not Alone as I felt it would be the best option, I was right. 100%. If I had picked up the actual book I would've likely given this a lower rating than I have. Before venturing into why this is, let's talk about what this book is about.

In You Are Not Alone you're following a young woman named Shay Miller. Shay's life begins to crumble around her after she witnesses a suicide on the subway of New York City. She can't get the woman in the polka dot dress out of her mind, over and over she goes through the circumstances that led to that tragedy. Shay decides to go to the woman's memorial service and it's there that she meets Jane and Cassandra, two sisters who eventually bring Shay into their inner circle of friends. They give her a makeover, find her a new place to live, and all-in-all turn her into a better version of herself. Without ever meaning to, she slips into the life of the woman who killed herself. Was this all just a chain of events, or did the sisters plan this?

I can't go much further into the synopsis as it's always difficult to not give away too much when reviewing a thriller. But let's just say 'bitches be crazy'. This worked as an audiobook as there are multiple POV's throughout the story and the voice actors really bring that to life. If I had physically read it, I imagine I would've gotten lost in the multitude of female characters a few times.


Shay was a likeable but heavily naive protagonist, which is what you expect if having read Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's previous novels as it seems to be their style. Young naive main character who trusts too easily, and a more mature woman who you can't trust. Which is cool, but a tad predictable at this point. Speaking of predictability, I did foresee the 'twists' that happen in the story way before any of them happened, which I can usually forgive if the story gives off originality like Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, but I'm still uncertain as to whether this book managed that. Though I will be likely to pick up any other books these woman eventually release, I can't help but wonder whether I would want to if it were not for the popularity and hype of these authors on Booktube/Bookstagram. To be honest, all three novels read very basic. I've read better thrillers by much smaller authors who haven't had their work pushed as much online. Unlike Riley Sager and Ruth Ware, I don't believe Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen deserve the popularity. Harsh, I know, it makes me feel bad writing it, but I can't not be honest in an in depth review.

All in all, this book was semi entertaining but forgettable like their previous bookd. I won't remember what happened in this thriller in a few months, and I'll likely forget I ever read it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Which author do you think is unjustifiably popular among the reading community? And on the other side of this question, which author do you think doesn't get enough recognition? I'd love to know!


Inside Birchbox | March 2020

3/12/2020


I failed miserably when it came to choosing a curated box this month, as I entirely forgot and got stuck with a box of surprises. What did I receive? Let's see together! If you've never read a post in this series, then let me just quickly say what it is. I, like so many other easily influenced viewers, got sucked onto the Birchbox train and have been an avid subscriber for over a year now. I like being able to try out so many new skincare, body care, hair care, or even makeup products for the respectable price of $15 a month ($13 for me, as I did a 12 month subscription wherein you still pay monthly, but are in a contract for the 12 month period. You can also do this for a 6 month period if that interests you.). Do you have a subscription box? Let me know. So without further ado, let's go through the products I received in the month of March...





Brand: Benefit Cosmetics
Product: The POREfessional Hydrate Primer
Full-sized details: $32
Sample size received: 3.0ml
I've only recently jumped into the magical world of primers so I've yet to splurge on the coveted Benefit POREfessional which every beauty guru or celebrity seems to use, so I was very excited to receive this in my box despite the small sample size. As I don't use foundation, I really won't be using much during each application, however I could see how this would be a measly amount to someone who wants a primer to go over every inch of their face.

Brand: Davines
Product: Ol All in One Milk
Full-sized details: $35
Sample size received: 50ml
As you will further see as this post goes on , this mystery box was rather heavy in the Davines brand. I'm never entirely thrilled when I receive shampoo or conditioner samples as they only last one (maybe at a push, two) uses and it will never sway me into spending the heavy price tag. However, this leave in conditioner peaks my interest and I'm interested in seeing how it treats the ends of my hair. The smell is quite pleasant, but nothing to write home about. It almost smells like a herbal bottle of medicine.

Brand: Davines
Product(s): Shampoo + conditioner
Full-sized details: Shampoo, $34 + conditioner, $40
Sample size received: Both 12ml.
As mentioned above, I could take or leave these samples as one wash is never going to convince me into buying a $40 product. Meh.




Brand: Sunday Riley
Product: Luna Sleeping Night Oil
Full-sized details: $55-$105
Sample size received: 5ml
It's samples like this that keep me using Birchbox. I received the vitamin C Sunday Riley oil last month, and despite my nightly use of it, I haven't even gone through a quarter of the 5ml sample. These are such luxurious products that really do last you awhile. I'm currently in the midst of a love story with facial oils, so you best believe this is going to go to great use.

Brand: Wander Beauty
Product: Double Date Lap And Cheek - Rendezvous
Full-sized details: 2.05g, $22
Sample size received: 1.05g
Make-up products are always fun to get, but I'm on the fence on how I feel about a cream blush. Only time will tell! (note from future Anne: This is surprisingly pigmented and stays on throughout the day on the cheeks, however it separates quickly on the lips.)

Brand: Hero Cosmetics
Product: Mighty Patch Original
Full-sized details: 36 for $12.99
Sample size received: 6 patches
This seems to be the more adventurous product in this months box. I'd never heard of this company or it's product prior to seeing this but after a scroll online they seem to be quite popular. I'll be sure to give these a whirl next time I feel a pimple coming through, though to be honest, that can be difficult as I'm more of a hormonal breaker-outer so I never sense anything coming. If these work, I'll be most definitely purchasing a bulk box for under my sink.


What product intrigues you the most? 


The Pisces by Melissa Broden | Book Review [spoiler free]

3/08/2020


When I saw this book in my library, I was torn. I'd heard such varying reviews on The Pisces by Melissa Broden, but the consensus is always either 'ew' or 'wtf?', no matter whether the reviewer had rated the novel 1 or 5 stars. Should that of intrigued me? Probably not, but alas, here we are. Seen as it was free to pick up (libraries are magical), I figured I'd give it a try. How did I get on?

At heart The Pisces is a book about obsessive love. In it we follow a recently heartbroken Lucy, who decides  to detach herself from her current life and go and dog sit her sisters dog Dominic in Miami for the Summer. Once there, she becomes a part of a support group for women who are addicted to romance, and spends her nights sitting on a rock near the ocean chatting with a swimmer. But what she doesn't realise is, he's a merman. And the sex is going to be amazing. Basically.

Yeah, this is technically Merman erotica. Which I kind of knew going in, but my faith in the authors ability to not make it icky kept me going. Initially I was going to read a few chapters, see where my thoughts were at, and decide if I wanted to continue. Regrettably, I did. Okay, I say that with a pinch of salt. I really did enjoy the first half of this novel, it was fast paced and though Lucy was a very unlikable character she was still better than all the characters in The Secret History by Donna Tartt, so I really wasn't fussed. Who doesn't love to read from the narrative of a bitch every now and again? Hello Blair Waldorf and Petra Solano. It gave me vague Valley Of The Dolls vibes which I think we have already established my love for (not idea what I'm talking about? Check out my review HERE). I enjoyed her interactions with the other women in her group, and even found some humour in her truly terrible hook-up dates. However, once her and the Merman got together the novel ran into a whole field of crazy. Not only were the sex scenes questionable in comparison to the earlier ones that albeit were pretty gross, were at the very least realistic. Now we were reading about a merman licking up her menstrual blood and reading about her fantasies of cutting up his tail, cooking his flesh, and eating it with garlic butter. I lost count of how many times I stopped to read aloud some of the truly terribly written paragraphs and descriptions to my husband.



Have you ever read a book wherein a character works in an important profession; medical training, science, astronomy, etc, and the author tries to make it sound so convincing, and tries to make the character seem so knowledgeable in their work that it truly comes across as pure nonsense? This is how I felt during every single scene where Lucy was working on her thesis. Some sentences didn't make any sense and her 'epitomises' read like Joey's letter to the adoption agency in Friends. I really don't think the author knew what the hell she was writing about at times, instead trying to subtly get off the subject and somehow tying it into our protagonists horny nature. Though it sounds harsh, I think the author had a good idea for a smutty novel and instead tried to make into something it's not - good writing.

My other big problem with this novel was the problematic elements. Twice the protagonist compared the Merman's movements to a paraplegic trying to sit upright, which she commented was "cute". And the overall lack of anything resembling feminism was astounding for a novel that was released in 2018. I get that was kind of the point with the whole support group, but Lucy's lack of self respect of both herself and other women never changed. Also, a huge part of the book was her neglecting the dog she was sitting for which could be rather hard to read, so please take a trigger warning for animal abuse from this review. If that greatly upsets you, stay far away from this.


So, yeah. Objectively this was truly an awful book in both the story and writing. I did quite enjoy the first half, it was a pure guilty-pleasure and a great palette cleanser after I'd been reading heavy books all last month, but I can't in good consciousness recommend this to anyone. The cover is the only thing it has going for it.

What was the last book you read that disappointed you?

February Book Wrap-Up | 2020

3/01/2020

My reading for February was all over the place. I read a total of 12 books, and gave such varying ratings that I came out of it undecided whether I had a good month of reading. I took part in Tome Topple and failed miserably at my TBR for it. Which you can read HERE. The act of reading such big books gave me an odd book hangover where I just felt blegh about every possible book I could pick up. Here's hoping for a better March!


11.22.63 
by Stephen King 

“I'm one of those people who doesn't really know what he thinks until he writes it down.”

Jake Epping is an ordinary high school teacher who is presented with a chance to change history after a time portal is brought to his attention. He's tasked with the mission of stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, and solving one of the biggest mysteries of the 20th century. This is one of my husband's favourite books, so I did the wifely duty of reading (or rather, listening) to this TOME. The first half kept my attention, and I was really enjoying the direction that the story was heading. I appreciated the 'living the same day over and over' trope, and though I didn't love Jake as a character, he was superior to King's usual type of character. But the last half quickly plummeted my rating from a 5 star to a solid 3.5. It dragged ridiculously, and I found the love interest way too plain Jane to buy them as a couple. In classic King style, I was also very annoyed at the descriptions of literally every single female character's bust. So icky. To summarise, I'm still in a complicated relationship with Stephen King.

Rating: ★★★


Warbreaker 
by Brandon Sanderson 

“Mocking a woman is like drinking too much wine. It may be fun for a short time, but the hangover is hell.”

This is an epic fantasy set in the political world of Nalthis. Vivenna and Siri are sisters, one has been destined since birth to marry the God king of a viral nation and the other goes through life unnoticed. But when something unexpected happens, their lives get put into a tailspin of mercenaries, powered swords, and a royal court. As with any Brandon Sanderson novel, this has a wonderfully detailed magical system built around color called BioChromatic Breath. This was a 5 star prediction from me, and I'm happy to report back that it managed to get a 4.5. So, close! Despite it's 500+ pages, this was very fast paced. I really enjoyed both of the female characters (especially as their characteristics were very reminiscent of Jane and Petra from Jane the Virgin), and it never felt like 'heroic man comes to save the day' which was a worry I had when going into it. There was also at least three plot twists that I didn't see coming, which is quite an accomplishment, so yay!

Rating: ★★★★ (4.5)


The Good Daughter
by Karin Slaughter
"What a rapist takes from a woman is her future. The person she is going to become, who she is supposed to be, is gone. In many ways, it's worse than murder, because he has killed that potential person, eradicated that potential life, yet she still lives and breathes, and has to figure out another way to thrive." 

Two sisters are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind. Twenty-eight years later, both women are still trying to come to terms with the traumatic events of that night. Charlotte, the younger of the sisters, works for their father while Samantha has moved away from the town. A case arises that brings the sisters back together, but is their client guilty? I was really impressed by how well Slaughter wrote the characters of this novel, they were really well developed and had actual growth throughout the book. The main story gripped me from the first chapter, and it never felt long-winded. I liked the direction that story went, despite my slight disappointment at the "big reveal". But I think that's normal, a thriller is never going to have a perfect ending. Many say that Pretty Girls is Slaughter's best novel, so I'll be sure to pick that up soon. 

Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5)


The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

“Slavery is a sin when whites were put to the yoke, but not the African. All men are created equal, unless we decide you are not a man.” 

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Throughout this entire novel, I could see what the author was going for. It had such promise to be a hard-hitting but necessary book written about a part of history that you don't often hear of. The chapters on the slave plantations were hard to read, but yet I never once cared for our main character Cora, which I think played a huge part in my overall enjoyment of this book. My heart should've been in my throat during the raids and chase scenes, but the entire time I was bored. So, so, so bored. Which really shouldn't of been the case. Perhaps me and this author just aren't made to be combined. Have you read this? What were your thoughts?

Rating: ★★


I Know Who You Are
by Alice Feeney 

“Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s fear postponed to a later date.” 

This has one of those classic thriller tropes of taking place in two different timelines that eventually merge together. In one we're following a young girl who has been kidnapped by a man and woman, and forced to change her entire identity to suit them. While in the other we're following a renowned actress whose husband has vanished. Much like any 2-3 star rated thriller, I enjoyed where this story started but absolutely hated the direction it took and eventually ended with. I found the conclusion stupid, and not at all believable. I have previously read Sometimes I Lie by the same author, and hated that too. Perhaps Feeney just isn't for me.

Rating: ★★

Know My Name
by Chanel Miller

“I survived because I remained soft, because I listened, because I wrote. Because I huddled close to my truth, protected it like a tiny flame in a terrible storm. Hold up your head when the tears come, when you are mocked, insulted, questioned, threatened, when they tell you you are nothing, when your body is reduced to openings. The journey will be longer than you imagined, trauma will find you again and again. Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom. Fight because it is your life. Not anyone else’s. I did it, I am here. Looking back, all the ones who doubted or hurt or nearly conquered me faded away, and I am the only one standing. So now, the time has come. I dust myself off, and go on.”

This is the memoir of Chanel Miller. A girl who is funny, who finds solace in writing, who has a tight-knit family that you wish to be a part of. The girl who was sexually assaulted by the so-called 'athlete' Brock Turner, and went to trail to get him prosecuted. I listened to this as an audiobook and it took me many weeks to complete purely down to the intense emotions Chanel brought out of me. I've never been so honoured to listened to someone's story while simultaneously being angered by the world we live in. I couldn't not recommend this book to anyone and everyone, it's a story that can be incredibly hard to listen to but yet is one that everyone ought to hear.

Rating: ★★★★★


And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer 
by Fredrik Backman

"I would rather be old than a grown-up. All grown-ups are angry, it's just children and old people who laugh."

This novella is a moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go. I adore Fredrik Backman's writing. I've now officially read everything by him that's been translated, and I'm in awe of the emotions he can bring out of me. This was no different. I laughed, cried, and instantly made me husband read it. Now I'm making you. Get it from your library, buy it, anything.. just read it.

Rating: ★★★★★


Come Tumbling Down 
by Seanan McGuire

“New things are the best kind of magic there is.”

This is the fifth instalment of the Wayward Children series, which is a follow up to where we left Jack and Jill in book two Among The Sticks And Bones. Without giving any spoilers, this book was just meh for me. I have a complicated relationship with this magical realism series, some books I love while others I give 2 stars. This was an average 3 star read, but mostly down to the fact that Jack has been my favourite character from the entire series. If she was not in this, I probably would've downgraded my rating to two stars. I'm quite bias.

Rating: ★★★


Light Filters In: Poems
by Caroline Kaufman

“I am not pretty.
I have never been pure or soft or sweet.
I am beautiful.
Dirt still on my shoulder as I rise from the ground. Scars forming and healing like galaxies over my skin.
I am beautiful in the way I fought back when I was buried.
I turned the dirt and mud into soil, and grew.”

Poetry is a personal thing, especially when it comes to modern poetry. This is a collection of the latter. Many don't count what they view as 'Instagram' or 'Tumblr' poetry as actual poetry, but I call bull. I think anything that makes you feel something is poetry. I liked this, but I think the authors age made me not fully relate to the first love and growing up poems. So, 4 stars.

Rating: ★★★★


We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour

“We were nostalgic for a time that wasn't yet over.”

This is an intimate look at the isolation a person can feel when spending a long period of time alone. Marin is a young woman who is spending Christmas vacation in an empty college dormitory, her estranged best friend is coming to visit for a few days, but can that be long enough to help Marin open up about why she left her old life at a minutes notice. I've never before read a YA book that captures loneliness in such a realistic light. This was beautiful, both the writing and the story. If you enjoy YA contemporaries, then I can't recommend this enough. It doesn't get enough love.

Rating: ★★★★★


Brain On Fire : My Month Of Madness
by Susannah Cahalan

“Sometimes, Just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.”

This is the memoir of an up-and-coming journalist who became plagued by voices in her head and seizures. Weeks progressed and Susannah quickly moved deeper into insanity, her behaviours shifting from violence to catatonia. After a series of tantrums, misdiagnoses, and a lengthy hospital stay, a doctor's last-minute intervention enabled him to give her a diagnosis and a chance to rebuild her life. This was a fascinating read (I went with the audiobook, but I felt like some parts of it dragged a little. It's difficult when critiquing someones memoir, as it's a very personal thing and you can't exactly say "this part of her life shouldn't of been in the book", however a few fatphobic comments really bothered me despite her talking about herself, and overall I couldn't entirely connect with Cahalan's personality. Still definitely worth a read though.

Rating: N/A

Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch

“We're more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.”

A man is kidnapped at gun point, pushed through a doorway and suddenly wakes up strapped to a gurney in a world where his family is no longer his family, a team of agents are after him, and there is no safe way to turn. This is a much loved science fiction/thriller online, but I wasn't too sure what to expect as many describe it as a 'mind fuck'. I found this okay, it gave me 11/22/63 vibes which I read at the beginning of the month, so maybe that left me feeling a little deflated. I did like it, the audiobook was entertaining, but I don't think it's my type of thriller. Nevertheless, I would still give Dark Matter a positive rating and would recommend it as it was well written as it really did read like a movie. If you want mindless fun, go with this.

Rating: ★★★


What did you read in February? Do you rate books based on how well the novel is written, or do you rate based on your enjoyment? I'd love to know.

Current Life Favourites | February, 2020

2/23/2020


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?

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