Friday, 24 November 2017

Gift Guide For: Your Organised Friend (or your friend who needs organising!)*


It's that time of year again! Even if you haven't quite got the tree up yet, it's time to start thinking about what you're going to be giving your friends and family this festive season. Although it's a controversial one, Black Friday is a great time to snag a bargain and get your shopping done before the festivities truly begin. So I'm here today with the first of my targeted Christmas gift guides!

I've worked with Venom Communications to gather the perfect selection of gifts from their Happy Jackson range for the person in your life who loves to stay organised (or the one who seriously needs to get organised!). Happy Jackson are a brand I already know, love and use myself so I can confirm that these gifts will put a smile on any organisation-lovers face! 

Venom Communications are currently offering 25% off EVERYTHING with code 'GOGOGO', until Monday at 23:59 - so grab a bargain whilst you can!


Power Bank

Where on earth would we be without portable phone chargers? I can't tell you how many times these have saved me, I think they're honestly worth their weight in gold. This one not only has a super cute design but it's lightweight and easy to fit in your pocket. This is perfect for the sibling who's glued to their phone or the friend who's always on the go!

Memory Stick

Even some of the most organised people I know still haven't adhered to golden rule of life: BACK UP YOUR STUFF. I've witnessed more than one meltdown as essays, music libraries and even precious memories have disappeared in an instant due to a technical malfunction. Make sure that never happens to your loved ones with this colourful USB stick

As an extra special gift, why not load it up with some of your photos together, favourite videos or songs before you give it to them? I've done this in the past and it means that not only are you gifting something useful but it's filled with special memories too.




Earphones with Carry Case

What is more frustrating than digging in your bag for half a train journey to find your earphones, only to spend the other half untangling them? These adorable earphones come with a ridiculously convenient pouch and make a great gift for just about anyone.



Spare Cables

Is your friend truly organised if they don't have an array of spare cables neatly filed away for times of need? Brighten up their collection with these cute stripy ones, they also make the perfect stocking stuffer for people who are always losing theirs!

Bluetooth Speaker

Now this ones less organisation-specific and more just for fun, but how cute is this little bluetooth speaker? Perfect for blasting those Christmas tunes, it's portability will see you right through to picnics in the summer.

-

If you fancy grabbing one of these super cute Happy Jackson items, then don't forget to use code 'GOGOGO' at checkout for 25% off everything until Monday 27th at 23:59!

Happy shopping!

INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Venom Communications. All words and images are 100% honest and entirely my own. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

26 things about turning 26




Today is my birthday! I've turned 26 and lately I've been noticing things that have changed since I've been hurtling unsteadily into my late twenties and I thought I'd share some of them today. Please tell me that you relate to at least some of them...

01. My alcohol tolerance is almost zero.

02. I know people who have bought a house.

03. I'm now wondering if I should be thinking about buying a house (like I could ever afford to).

04. I like white wine, and can pick out a semi-decent bottle, but red wine still eludes me.

05. Getting the weekly shop for less than £30 is an art form.

06. I don't want to have a baby but I sure do watch a lot of baby/pregnancy hauls/diaries on YouTube.

07. I definitely feel the effects of eating too much sugar/not eating enough vegetables.

08. I'm actually starting to find it easier to get up in the morning, and not need a nap later in the day. 

09. I sometimes worry about how I'll survive when I retire (pension? What's one of those?)

10. But then I remember I probably won't ever get to retire and that's slightly terrifying but mostly okay!

11. I have managed to keep several plants alive for more than a few months.

12. I know how to correctly fold a fitted sheet to maximise storage space.

13. I know how to correctly fold socks to maximise storage space.

14. I fold my socks.

15. Exercise isn't the absolute *worst* thing in the world.

16. It's actually pretty great and makes me feel strong and good.

17. I really should stretch more though, things ache more than they used to.

18. I can count the number of proper nights out I've been on this year on one hand, and that's super okay with me.

19. Getting home later than 11pm just sounds like a nightmare.

20. I have a bedtime routine.

21. It involves a microwaveable wheat bag.

22. I finally like  coffee and drink it on a regular basis. Milky and weak with a sweetener please, I'm not *that* grown up.

23. Spots are definitely not just a teenage concern. I'm now officially in my late twenties, why am I still getting spots?!

24. This year I started properly making art again and it's been the most wonderful thing ever. 

25. I've come to terms with the fact that it's pretty normal to not have found what you want to do with your career by your mid-twenties.

26. Heck, I probably won't figure it out until my mid-thirties, and that's okay.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller


Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Published by Rock the Boat, Oneworld

Release date: 31st October 2017
Source: Rock the Boat, hardback proof copy.


The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.

Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.

I'm so excited to be today's stop on the blog tour for the brand spanking new YA sci-fi: Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller! I was so happy to receive Otherworld from the lovely folks at Rock the Boat because it looks to be one of the most exciting releases of 2017. I've got an exclusive extract for you today, so get ready to enter Otherworld...

--

Otherworld extract

There are guys online who swear it was heaven. They still sit around like a
bunch of old geezers, swapping tales of epic storms, monstrous beasts and grisly
battles. Talk to any gamer in their twenties and at some point they’ll say:
“You’re too young to get it. You never saw Otherworld.”

Now keep in mind, most of these idiots never experienced the original
Otherworld either. Even at the height of its popularity, it never had more than a
handful of subscribers. It wasn’t until years after the publisher pulled the plug
that it became known in geek lore as the greatest game of all time.

I always thought that was bullshit. I don’t anymore.

It took a twentysomething tech billionaire named Milo Yolkin to drag the game
back from the dead. Today at noon, his company released an early-access
version of Otherworld 2.0. Two thousand lucky gamers were chosen to test it,
and somehow I’m one of them. The original Otherworld players were all dorks
like me, but as far as I can tell, this new group of players has little in common
aside from deep pockets. The app itself is free—you just have to buy the
exclusive new headset that goes with the game. Only a couple thousand have
been made, and each one costs over two grand.

I have no clue what the old Otherworld looked like on a PC monitor when it
came out over a decade ago. But I gotta admit— when I downloaded the new
app and I put on the headset, I wasn’t expecting graphics this good. I know
everything is CGI, but my eyes are completely convinced that it’s real. I’ve got
a plastic brick strapped to my face, there’s sweat trickling out of my haptic
gloves, and I’d rather die than be seen in the dainty booties I’m wearing. Back
in the real world, my body is blind, deaf and helpless. I’ve been in Otherworld
for over seventeen hours now, and there is no way in hell that I’m leaving.

Of course, this world has been trying to kill me from the very first second I set
out to explore. I’ve encountered some truly insane shit so far—an avalanche,
lighting strikes, quicksand and some kind of mutated polar bear that I managed
to butcher and eat using nothing but a dagger and my two bare hands. Still,
nothing compares to what I’ve just found.

--

Right? RIGHT?! This book will suck you in and won't let you go until you've turned the last page. Otherworld is out now.

Thank you so much to Rock the Boat and Nina Douglas for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Don't forget to check out the other stops!



Links to books in this post are affiliate links, which just means that if you want to purchase them, it supports the running of this blog - with no extra cost to you! If you want to buy any other books, please consider using my Wordery link - thanks lovelies!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Autumn Reading Tag

It's autumn, aka mine and everyone else's favourite season, and there's nothing better this time of year than curling up under a blanket and reading. So I thought I'd get you all in the mood for the cosy season with the autumn reading tag! This tag was originally created by Amy Jane Reads.


01. Are there any books you plan on reading over the autumn season?
I kind of want to do a re-read of some of my favourite books, including: Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. These books really remind me of colder weather and cosying up with a book and I just don't reread favourites often enough. But I also have such a huge pile of unread books that I'll feel pretty guilty for re-reading. What do you think I should do?

02. September brings back to school memories: what book did you most enjoy studying? And what were your favourite and least favourite school subjects?
I pretty much loved all the books that I studied at A-Level: Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, The Colour Purple *sigh for the good old days*. At university I studied far, far too many books to pick a favourite and to be honest they've all kind of turned into a blur at this point. I did really enjoy the Children's Literature module I did in particular though, particularly writing an essay on Shirley Hughes' Dogger. 

My favourite school subject was obviously English, I just breezed through it and I loved my teachers, but my least favourite was definitely maths, by a long shot. I just didn't enjoy how it was taught, I was made to feel pretty stupid and not good enough (even though I was in the top set) and it just made me pretty unhappy. Now that I'm actually a tutor of maths and english, I try to never make my students feel that way.


03. October means Halloween: do you enjoy scary books and films? If so what are some of your favourites?
I actually find horror books scarier than films, there's something about imagining it all in your head that makes it ten times scarier than seeing it on a screen. I loved Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. For a couple more Halloween recommendations, check out my Top Five Wednesday post on the subject.

This year I'm going to try and find some more Halloween reads, I definitely want to pick up My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and Scarecrow by Danny Weston. Leave any more Halloween recommendations in the comments!

04. With November it's time for bonfire night & firework displays. What's the most exciting book you've read that really kept you gripped?
Recently I read The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James and I just couldn't put it down. It's kind of a sci-fi thriller about a girl who is the only surviving crew member on a spaceship travelling towards a new planet, when she finds out a new ship has launched - with a single crew member, a boy named J. This was one of the most gripping reads I'd picked up in a long time and it's also excellently written. Definitely pick this one up.



05. What book is your favourite cosy comfort read?
I'm going to be Captain Obvious here and say Harry Potter, but not just any copy, the illustrated editions! There's nothing I love more than curling up with the huge illustrated editions of the first two Harry Potter books and spending long moments poring over each and every page. I cannot wait for the third one to come out this autumn.

06. Curled up with a good book, what is your hot drink of choice?
If we're talking evenings then it's going to be a cup of decaf Yorkshire tea, or if I'm feeling fancy, a Cadbury's hot chocolate topped with whipped cream (if I'm feeling super extra). I've never had a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, and although I'm intrigued, I'm not sure I'd really like it because I have pretty basic taste buds.

07. Any plans you're looking forward to over the next few months?
I love autumn because it's both mine and Stu's birthdays, so there's always lots of fun plans. I also go home every year for a bonfire party in the field behind my parents' house with so much delicious food, I'm drooling just thinking about it. Then every year in November, my mum and I go and see Hotbuckle Theatre who are a tiny theatre company (usually of just four actors) who put on adaptations of classic novels and it's always sweet and hilarious and so well done. This year they're putting on Wuthering Heights and we're going to see them in Skipton and I can't freaking wait. Basically, autumn is going to be amazing.

Do you have any plans for autumn? What are you going to be reading?

Monday, 16 October 2017

September 2017 Reading Wrap Up


The Boy With One Name by J.R.Wallis | ☆☆☆
Twelve-year old Jones is an apprentice monster hunter in the Badlands, which exists on the edge of ordinary people lives. Ruby is outspoken, fearless and tired of her ordinary life. When the two meet and save each others lives, they have to work together to defeat a monster that not even the fiercest Badlander has yet faced.

I featured The Boy with One Name in my August book haul and I admitted that it was a total cover buy but it actually turned out to be a really fun read. I don't read a lot of middle-grade because I find it can be a bit hit-and-miss in terms of enjoyability because obviously it's not really aimed at me, but that doesn't mean that a middle-grade can't still be well-written and all the other things we praise YA/adult books for. The Boy with One Name was a fun adventure with some lovely, and really quite original, fantasy elements. It was a fast-paced read and connected to the characters quite well. However, being the first book in what I assume is going to be a series, there was quite a lot of exposition-dumping and showing rather than telling. A lot of the characters dialogue was a little: 'well Ruby, this is how this works in the Badland and this is what magic is, and this is what monsters are'. It got a little tedious and I think there are more sophisticated ways of world-building that could still work for a middle-grade audience. Despite that, I still enjoyed it and would recommend for younger readers.

#oid=1329_1
The Miseducation of Cameron Post* by Emily M. Danforth | ☆☆☆☆☆
When Cameron's parents die in an accident her first feeling is relief, relief that they'll never know that just a few hours earlier she was kissing a girl. Cameron is soon forced to live with her conservative aunt in a less-than-progressive town. When she strikes up an intense friendship with the beautiful Coley Taylor things snowball.

I was so excited to receive The Miseducation of Cameron Post from the lovely folks at Penguin because I'd heard so many good things about it, and I was far from disappointed. Cameron Post is the heartwrenching literary YA that I didn't know I was waiting for (the term heartwrenching is oft overused but this literally did make my chest twinge frequently). Set in rural Montana, the novel is full of gorgeous, cinematic descriptions - of long dusty roads, farmland and lakes - and I'm a huge sucker for that kind of thing, especially when it's done really well. Cameron's journey is fraught and intense but ultimately satisfying, something all too rare in this bury-your-gays era. I loved this book SO much so if, like me, you've read an embarrassingly small amount of LGBT YA (or even if you've read lots) then this is definitely one to add to your list.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe* by Lauren James | ☆☆☆☆☆
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew member on a spaceship headed for a new planet, she is the loneliest girl in the universe. That is until she hears about a new ship that has launched from earth to join her, captained by a boy named J. Despite only communicating via months-delayed emails, Romy soon finds herself falling for J. But what does she really know about him? And what do the mysterious messages from Earth mean?

I've seen this marketed as a romance, but really it's a brilliant look at loneliness and identity with a gripping thriller plot weaved in. I've been struggling to read at any kind of pace for months but I read this book in two incredibly intense sittings because it's just that good. One thing I loved about The Loneliest Girl is that it's not needlessly overwritten: at 290 pages, it's the perfect length for a fast, exciting read. Reading about a young woman in STEM was so refreshing and it made me realise that I need to read much more YA Sci-fi. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe blew me away and you should pick it up immediately.

So that's it for the books I read in September, hopefully October will hold just as impressive reads, but there might not be lots of them as I'm currently in the midst of moving house...more on that soon!

What have you been reading lately?

Links to books in this post are affiliate links, which just means that if you want to purchase them, I get a little something too - with no extra cost to you! If you want to buy any other books, please consider using my Wordery link - thanks lovelies!
Books marked with a * were sent to me by the publisher for review consideration, I have not been paid by the publishers to feature any of these titles.


Thursday, 12 October 2017

Three things to consider before moving | Moving Out Guide #1


When I first started thinking about moving out a couple of years ago, I had absolutely no idea where to start. I'd moved out of my parents' house to go to university, but I hadn't really organised any of that (the classic student avoiding responsibility), and then I moved back in when I graduated. I had a 2:1 but no clue about where to even start looking for somewhere to live, let alone all the costs, paperwork and organisation that would come with it. So now that I'm getting ready to move into my second 'adult' flat, I thought it was about time I shared my experience and everything I've learned about moving. So welcome to what I'm provisionally calling 'Moving 101', your good-enough guide to everything to do with moving.

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert, some of what I say might actually be complete bullshit (which is probably a lot of what I say) but I'm just going to say it as I see it. These are my experiences, and there's a world of info out there, so just bear with me!

Let's kick things off with today's topic, before you even begin searching for flat, where do you want to live?

This sounds like the most captain-obvious thing in the world, but before you can begin the flat hunt, you need to have some idea where you want to move to. When I first had thoughts of moving out, I actually had no clue where I was going to be living. Stu had been accepted onto a graduate scheme in Bradford, an area neither of us knew well in as we're originally from Lincolnshire, so it was basically a complete mystery to us. I ended up doing a LOT of googling about what it's like to live in the Leeds/Bradford area, where to avoid and where might be nice. There are a surprising amount of things you need to take into account. So let's take a look at a few!

City centre vs. suburban living

The first thing you need to look at is narrowing down the kind of environment you want to live in. For instance, you might be moving to a new city or county for work, you'll need to decide whether you want to be smack bang in the middle of things or if you want to be a bit further out. City centre living is convenient and can be more exciting, but it also means making some compromises. Depending on the city, to live in the city centre likely means paying a lot more for a lot less space. This isn't a huge issue in Bradford, but definitely can be in other cities. Again, depending on the city, but city centre living can mean higher rates of crime and if you have a car, insurances are generally hiked up. However, city centre living can mean a shorter commute, a more active social life and easier access to amenities and country-wide travel.

We chose to live a bit further out of the centre for several reasons. We wanted a bit of a quieter lifestyle, we're definitely more cup of tea than glass of prosecco, and there's just a calmer pace of life in the suburbs. There are more options for secure (and free) parking outside of the city centre and we also wanted a bit more for our money, including some outdoor space. So I'd start by thinking about what you want to get out of where you live, make a list of preferences (who doesn't love a good list?) and see where you stand.

In terms of finding exactly which areas to start looking, we didn't have a lot of time to be exploring the area so I did a number of things to narrow it down: I asked friends and family who were familiar with the area and did a lot of research on forums. If you literally google 'areas to live near XX', 'where should I live XX' and 'where not to move XX' you can find a lot of information and obviously a lot of conflicting opinions that you have to take with a pinch of salt. At the end of the day, you won't truly know the area until you live there, so sometimes it's worth taking a risk, and you'll get a small feel for the place when you go on viewings (more on that soon!).

Commuting and travel

Obviously, everybody's lifestyle is completely different. Your job might involve travelling across the country, you might just be after a short commute to your 9-5, or you could work from home in which case the flat search is your oyster - but most will have to take into account how easy it is to get about from where you live. Since we knew that driving in Bradford is kind of a nightmare (as it is in a lot of cities), we decided early on that we wanted to live close to a train station to make for a less stressful commute. You'll need to make a decision on how you're going to be getting to work, be that driving, public transport or walking, and take that into account when deciding on a location. There's nothing worse than waking up everyday and absolutely dreading your commute.

Seeing as I knew I wanted to live outside of the city centre, I took a look at google maps and noted down the train stations in the surrounding area and based some of my flat searching off that. If you're going to be driving, make sure the distance isn't going to be too hideous and check for any straightforward routes.

Local amenities

Are there local shops to grab a pint of milk when you're desperate? Do you want to be near green spaces? Is there a good gym in the area? Are you likely to want a variety of clubs and pubs for nights out? These are all things you should consider when looking at what an area is going to offer to you. Take some time to think about what life is going to be like when you've moved, after all, there are so many things outside your home that can affect your quality of life. Think about the things you spend your free time doing now, add in anything that you'd like to start incorporating (eg. fitness classes, daytrips, culture, being outdoors) and consider what different areas can offer you in terms of these things. This is when your research about different areas can really help you. Again, make lists of your preferences and match them up to what different areas have.

Once you know which areas you want to start looking in, it's time to start the search for potential flats/houses. Stay tuned for a new post on this very soon!

I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful for those of you considering a move in the future. Please let me know your thoughts down below and leave your questions/suggestions for what else I should cover in this series. I already have so many ideas but it'd be really helpful to know what you guys want!



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Currently #8


Reading: The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero. This gorgeous proof landed on my doorstep recently and I instantly decided to pick it up because it has all the things I'm looking for in a cosy read: fairytale inspired, historical middle-grade. I'm loving it.

Watching: Love Island season two. I know, I KNOW. I'm so behind and a massive hypocrite. Over the summer I couldn't stop complaining about the deluge of Love Island tweets because I just wasn't interested. Now for some reason, Stu and I have been binge-watching last year's series and it's so addictive, it's terrible and great at the same time.

Planning: so many exciting weekends with family and friends over the next couple of months - I can't wait!

Making: I've been stressing out because I haven't been able to make my prints lately because my printer has been screwing around, but hopefully it's going to be fixed this week so I can get back to stocking up my shop.

Stocking up on: 
cardboard boxes because *drumroll* we're finally moving! After wanting to move for months we've finally found a flat we like and bonus, it's so much cheaper than the one we're in now. Now that we've got quite a bit of our own furniture, I'm really excited to move into an unfurnished flat - it's going to be a great blank canvas, and it'll finally feel like ours. But if anyone has any advice on buying a cheap but good mattress/bed then please let me know!

Wishing for: John Green's Turtles all the Way Down, which comes out next month. Hopefully I'll be getting it for my birthday!

Enjoying: indulging in my basic-ass love of everything autumn. I've got the autumn bedsheets on, the pumpkin candles out, the fluffy blankets, and I couldn't be happier.

Trying: to get to the gym at least three times a week. I feel stronger than ever but my cardiac fitness is pretty low still, I really need to up my cardio but I know I'm not the only one who HATES it and would much rather be weight training. Screw the treadmill.

Eating: beans on toast. I'm not even joking, I've been loving this basic classic for lunch lately - there's just something comforting about it!

Goal Setting: I've been trying to psych myself up to film a youtube video lately. I'm so SO uncomfortable in front of the camera and every time I've tried I've ended up cringing out and deleting it but I've wanted to start a booktube channel since 2015 so I just need to woman up and do it.

Learning: that I really can do anything I set my mind to and that life might take you to unexpected places but everything really does work itself out in the end. *sigh* I'm so freaking DEEP today, just call me Deepak Chopra, haha, at least I make myself laugh!

That's it! What've you been up to lately?

Latest Instagrams

© Sarah's Chapter. Design by FCD.