Monday, 24 April 2017

MARGOT AND ME BY JUNO DAWSON | SPOILER-FREE REVIEW


Margot and Me by Juno Dawson
Published by Hot Key Books.
Release date: 26th January 2017.
Source: Hot Key Books.
I received this book for free from Hot Key Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

How can you hate someone in the present and love them in the past? Fliss's mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss's stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot's wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back. But Fliss soon discovers Margot's life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery...and even passion. What's more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart...

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

When I heard that Juno Dawson was coming out with another book I was super excited - I'm such a fan of Juno and she's definitely an auto-buy author for me now. Then I heard that her new book, Margot and Me, was a dual perspective of both World War II and 1990s Britain, and I was like HELL YES. I love modern historical fiction and I was so excited to see Juno's depiction of my childhood era. From the very first page of Margot and Me I was hooked by the main character, Fliss, and the smattering of nostalgic 90s references and I knew that this would be a book I wouldn't be able to put down. Sure enough I finished it in two epic sittings. In writing Margot and Me Juno set out to write a book that you would read curled up on the sofa, that would make you cry but leave you feeling rosy inside - and I can tell you that Juno has most definitely succeeded.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY

(Art is by lil ol' me, shop coming soon! eep!)

I'm treading some new water with this post, as despite dealing with mental health issues for twelve years, I've never delved into them on my blog. I think that's partly because it's such a tricky topic to write sensitively about, and partly because my mental health has been such a monumentally long journey that I just wouldn't know where to start. My official diagnoses are ranging and choppy but include depression, panic disorder, agoraphobia and a whole laundry list of previous and current struggles. It's a lot.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

LET'S CATCH UP | FOOTNOTES 2

Hi, my name's Sarah, and here are some things that I know.

I'm back and I have so many things to tell you about, I don't know where to begin.

The first three months of 2017 have rushed by in a blur of planning, travelling and exploring and now I find myself on a rainy Wednesday at the end of March wondering how to catch up with life.

I miss Thailand. I miss fresh pineapple, watching breathtaking sunsets every night, white sand, turquoise ocean, feeling the sun on my skin, massaman curries, elephants, motorcycle rides, only paying 100 baht for a meal, jungle treks, adventure. I've been to a lot of countries and it's not often that I fall so in love with them, and could actually see myself living there. I'm definitely going back, it's just a question of when. I really want to do some posts about my time in Thailand, but looking at my track record of posts that I've promised, let's not hold our breath and just hope that I'll get to it.

I've discovered that I like coffee if it's a super milky latte with a bit too much sugar.

Six months after losing my job, I'm starting to despair at how difficult it is to get a job, despite having a degree and a whole variety of experience. But I don't really want to talk about that, I'm not giving up though.

Watching time lapses of people working/cleaning/studying on YouTube is not the same as being productive, no matter how much it feels that way.

I've been hugely into Asia's Next Top Model lately. After catching a few episodes when I was in Thailand, I've been watching a couple of episodes each night and it makes me feel content.

I want to build something that I'm proud of.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

MY 2016 READING STATISTICS

This time last year I posted about my 2015 reading statistics, where I looked back on a year of reading to try and measure the diversity of the books I'd been picking up. This year I've done the same again except this time it didn't take me 7386746 hours because I'd been tracking it throughout 2016 in my bullet journal. So here's my year in books for 2016, all wrapped up in a pretty infographic:


If you take a look at my 2015 year in books you'll notice that I didn't read as many books last year but I think my reading was a little more diverse. As usual I read a lot more female than male authors without making a conscious effort to do so, but I have absolutely no problem with it! I read a lot less middle-grade books last year than in 2015 which is a shame but at least there's a nice balance between adult and YA. I think I'm going to try and make an effort to pick up more middle-grade this year though.

My top two MG/YA genres (fantasy and contemporary) are the same as 2015 but my tastes have clearly changed when it comes to adult fiction. In 2015 my top two genres were classics and contemporary whereas in 2016 I read mostly non-fiction and graphic novels. I put this mostly down to binge-reading Saga last year but my preference for non-fiction has continued into 2017.

One thing I'm a bit disappointed in is the lack of classics I read last year. In 2015 I read ten classics whereas in 2016 it was only four, therefore this year I'm going to try and pick up one classic a month.

I'm a little sad that I read less five star books last year than in 2015, but perhaps I've just become a bit more discerning with my ratings. Interestingly I read the same amount of two and three star books in 2015 and 2016.

Although I did read more diversely in terms of authors' nationalities (10 different countries instead of five), I still read mostly US and UK authors - this is something I'm keen to work on.

I found it really interesting to compare my reading statistics across two years and it's definitely something I'm going to keep doing! I've once again incorporated a tracker for reading into my 2017 bullet journal (which I'll have a post about up soon!). As I said in last year's post, these statistics probably aren't interesting to anyone but me but I thought I'd share them anyway. I'd love to know if you track any statistics about your reading and how you do so!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

UNDER £10 NON-BOOKISH GIFT GUIDE

I'm not trying to make you panic, but today marks two weeks until Christmas. I know, yikes.

Whilst I've nearly finished my Christmas shopping there are still some last minute presents to get and some awkward people to buy for! Let's not even mention starting my wrapping...

If you're in the same boat as me, or you haven't started buying yet, never fear - this gift guide is for you! I've picked out some gifts that will suit your mum, your sister, your boyfriend and your bestie, all for under £10! So let's get started...



Candles
Candles are a pretty safe gift for most people - who doesn't love a candle? Tangy Melon are an online shop with a HUGE variety of candles. Each candle has a quote or phrase, they have a great Christmas collection, and I chose the Scorpio candle* as a present to me, myself and I, but you could personalise this to anyone's starsign or choose a family and friends message. They're beautifully scented and all of Tangy Melon's candles are made with 100% natural wax and oils. They also have a crazy long burn time, I've been burning this sucker all week and it's hardly gone down at all. The scent throw is huge, it fills my whole flat, and they honestly smell like luxury candles, but for less than a tenner, so awesome.

You can also get some bargainous candles from B&M, they have some gorgeous Bath and Body Works dupes and the big jars are only £2.99 - incredible! I've picked up so many of these, and not just for myself haha.





Stickers
These gorgeous stickers from Dorkface would make such a great stocking filler or secret santa gift. This is the Cute girly sticker pack but Jemma makes a whole range of stickers from only £2.50! 

They're perfect for sticking on your phone case, laptop or for decorating your planner or journal. I use them in my bullet journal all the time. I also think it's nice to buy from independent sellers at Christmas because you're essentially getting a present for two people, I know that no matter how successful she is, Jemma is always so grateful for a sale!


Games
I don't know about you but my family has a tradition of always playing games around Christmastime. There's nothing better than curling up in front of the fire with some Quality Street, family and friends and a fun game to play. I bought these games from Waterstones and they have a huge selection, with so many under £10, including these.

Articulate is probably my favourite game of all time and I believe that everyone should own it. You basically have about a minute to read the word on the card and describe it to your team without mentioning the word. There are different categories and it always produces hilarious results. The mini version is perfect for people who travel a lot or who don't have a lot of storage space.

I bought this QI game because my family love a good quiz and this is the perfect way to get started. Cluedo is a favourite of one of my family members and I know they'll love this travel version so they can take it wherever they go.

I always get super competitive and I just have to win so if the person you're buying for is anything like me then they'll be playing these games all year round too.




Prints
This is a slightly more tricky one because prints can be quite a personal thing and everyone has different tastes. But if you're buying for a family member or friend who you know has similar taste to you then you should have no problem.

Over the past few months I've been building up a gallery wall in my office and I've collected some really lovely prints, each for under £10. The best places to find prints at this price are Etsy, Zazzle and believe it or not, card shops. Places like the Card Factory and Clinton Cards often have some beautiful framed prints and signs, sometimes for less than a fiver.


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So those are my recommendations for gifts under £10! I hope you found this helpful and happy shopping!

INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Disclaimer: Items marked with a * have been kindly gifted to me by the company, this in no way affects the contents of my review as I only choose to work with companies I genuinely love.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

GIFT GUIDE FOR BOOK LOVERS + GIVEAWAY


This time of year we're swamped with gift guides wherever we look so I thought I'd give you one with a bit of a difference - all these gifts are perfect for book lovers!

Whether you're buying for a bookish loved one, planning on 'accidentally' emailing this to your mum or you just want to treat yourself this season, I've got you covered. I've scoured the internet and tracked down the best independent e-tailers for all things bookish, at some of the best prices. Plus, stay tuned until the end to enter a bookish giveaway!




Bookish subscription boxes have been all the rage this year, but most of them are US-based and those shipping fees for us UK folk aren't too pretty - enter Illumicrate! Illumicrate is a UK-based quarterly YA book subscription box - phew, that was a little wordy. Basically, you sign up and every quarter you'll receive a brand new YA release along with a whole host of bookish goodies, all wrapped up in a very instagrammable box.

Book subscription boxes make a great gift because they're often a little too pricey to justify buying for yourself and they're also the gift that keeps on giving, literally. 

Pictured above is the November Illumicrate box which contained Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid along with a bunch of cute items like a notebook, candle, coffee cosy, socks and a load of bookish swag.

Plus, readers of Sarah's Chapter can get 10% off Illumicrate with the code 'SARAHSCHAPTER'. Check out Illumicrate here.




Bookish prints always make a great gift for book lovers, especially if they fit on a bookshelf. This framed book page from Bookishly is the perfect gift.

Bookishly has a number of different typographical products, including bookmarks, notebooks and gift cards and a huge range of prints. The framed book pages are my favourite because they're so unique; literary quotes in a font based on hand-lettering, printed onto vintage book pages and mounted on handmade block frames. This is such a beautifully crafted item; there's no glass so you can feel the beautiful old page and because it's an original book page each one is truly unique.

Bookishly has over 100 different framed book pages to choose from, meaning no matter who you're buying for, you're likely to find a quote to suit them!

I chose this quote from Pride and Prejudice* because it's my mum's favourite book and I just know she'll love it. The prints come wrapped in a vintage map which means they're all ready for gifting!





A trend that's come back with full force this year is pins and badges. There are so many out there but Literary Emporium has the best range of bookish enamel pins* for only £7.50! I'm obsessed with the 'Readers Gonna Read' and 'I Like Big Books' pins. I've got them pinned to my winter coat; they're so sassy and I've had a crazy amount of compliments about them. They're great quality, made from durable enamel and are super shiny.

The thing with bookish products is that it's actually quite hard to find things that are both bookish and pretty. If you do manage to find something bookish it's more often than not kind of plain. Literary Emporium has everything from notebooks to jewellery and it's all gorgeous. The designs are beautiful, they come in lovely packaging and everything's super reasonably priced.

These pins would make a great stocking stuffer or secret santa gift!



Speaking of gorgeous, Anna of EnchantedBottleCraft on Etsy sells the most beautiful handmade bookish jewellery. Her Enchanted Bottle necklaces are so unique and from as little as £7.99, they make a wonderful gift.

The necklaces are all themed and inspired by a range of books and films, from Harry Potter to A Song of Ice and Fire. Pictured above is the Lumos Bottle Necklace* which, obviously inspired by Harry Potter, is a beautiful bottle filled with pale crystals which glow in the dark! I love the idea of carrying a spell around with me, and lumos has always been my favourite as it reminds me of light in dark times.

Not a fan of necklaces? You can choose to have your design as a bookmark, earrings or a keyring! Again, these would make a perfect stocking stuffer or secret santa gift. Check out the full range of Enchanted Bottles here.





Next up is The Little Bookish Gift Co. which sells a mixture of handmade items and carefully selected bookish gifts. Here you can find journals, greetings cards, coasters and stationery, but I've chosen two of my favourite products to recommend to you today.

My favourite items from The Little Bookish Gift Co. are their handmade wooden door signs. Pictured above is their 'Quiet Please...I'm Reading!' door sign*, but they have a range of different designs perfect for the reader (or writer) in your life. These signs are handmade using wood, biodegradable twine and old book pages. Each sign is unique and I was pleased to find that mine was made with a page from Pride and Prejudice! 

This is the perfect gift for someone who needs a little peace and quiet this winter. They also come beautifully wrapped which is a lovely bonus.



Another perfect stocking stuffer is The Little Bookish Gift Co's 'Novel Tea'*, a pouch of five teabags tagged with literary quotes. The only thing better than a good book is a good cup of tea to go with it and these teabags are such a fun idea. Each one is tagged with a different literary quote and the tea is a delicious English Breakfast blend - the perfect kind of tea if you ask me! At just £2.50 these are the perfect extra little gift.

Check out The Little Bookish Gift Co.'s other items here.




Last, but certainly not least, the perfect gift for book bloggers, book club members or just book enthusiasts: the Busy B Book Journal*. Busy B have a whole range of beautiful stationery but this journal is the perfect thing for organised book lovers.

The Busy B Book Journal is divided into four individual sections; Book Club, Read, To Read and On Loan - to keep track of all your bookish needs. It's kind of a like a portable Goodreads and it's oh so pretty.

My favourite part is the 'Read' section, where you can make a note of all the books you've read, including your thoughts on the book. As a book blogger this is so handy for me as I'll be able to refer to it when it comes to my monthly reading wrap ups and it'll save me so much time. I also love that it includes an 'On Loan' section to keep track of all the books you've lent out - a book will never be lost again!

It also comes with cute page markers and name stickers for your books - things which I find super handy - all tucked into a storage pocket at the front. I'm absolutely in love with this journal and it's definitely going to stay by my side throughout 2017. Check out the book journal here.

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I hope you've found this bookish gift guide useful, whether you're buying gifts for yourself or others.

And that's not all! To celebrate the holiday season I'm going to be giving away a bookish bundle filled with goodies from the above shops!



The bundle will include a bookmark and greetings cards from Bookishly, two enamel pins from Literary Emporium, a Bottle Necklace from EnchantedBottleCraft and a door sign and Novel Tea from The Little Bookish Gift Co!

To win, simply enter the rafflecopter below. RULES: UK entries only, ends 17/12/2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Disclaimer: Items marked with a * have been gifted to me by the company, this in no way affects the contents of my review as I only choose to work with companies I genuinely love.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

#THEGIRLGANG BOOK CLUB UPDATE + GIVEAWAY



Just a quick post today with an update about The Girl Gang book club!

If you didn't already know, back in March I started The Girl Gang book club, which is a branch of Jemma's awesome blogging community The Girl Gang! It's a twitter-based book club, so each month there's a different theme or genre (be it YA, classics, thrillers etc.) and members vote for the book they want to read. Everyone then reads that book and discusses their thoughts and feelings using #GGbookclub and at the end of the month (or a month after the book is chosen) we have a big twitter chat, hosted by me, where everyone can compare their thoughts and ideas about the book! It's perfect for those like me who don't have a local book club and love chatting about books as an online community!

The book club pick for December is going to be Christmas themed, perfect for those cosy winter nights in. There are four books to choose between and you have just two days to vote in the twitter poll to choose the next book! The four books are:

- Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
- Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
- My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins
- The Gift by Cecelia Ahern.

So pick the book you want to read and go and vote in the poll!

So to celebrate nine awesome months of the Girl Gang book club, I'm hosting a giveaway! One lucky person is going to win the chosen book club pick for December! All you have to do to enter is head over to the #GGbookclub twitter, follow, and retweet the pinned tweet (the poll). Simples!

Rules: one entry per person, only direct retweets will be counted (no quote retweets), no spam or bot accounts. Must be following @theggbookclub on Twitter. The giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. Giveaway ends 24/11/16 at 23:59 GMT.