My Top 10 Favourite Authors

For as long as I can remember I have loved to read.  There is nothing more thrilling that picking up a good book and getting lost in the pages.  I couldn’t tell you how many books I have read in my lifetime; from the colourful picture books of childhood to the gritty crime novels I read now.

I have decided to share with you my top 10 authors… I have really had to sit and think about this post, and it was very difficult to just pick 10, but these are pretty much always my go to authors when I want to read a good book and so I thought I would share these with you.

1. J.K. Rowling

For those of you who know me well, you will know that I am mad about Harry Potter.  I am a self confused Harry Potter nerd, even sporting a small Harry Potter tattoo on my left foot. I have read the Harry Potter series, plus all its spin off books, countless times and I love them more and more with each read, and this is why my beloved J.K gets the top spot. I started reading the HP books at about the age of 12, and I really did grow up with these. It is the only series where I can truly say that I felt connected to the characters, they were going through what I was going through (I mean, apart from defeating Lord Voldemort) since we were growing up together.

There is so much more that I could say about this, but I won’t! If you haven’t already read these books (and if not, where have you been) then go and do so. They really are the best!

2. George R.R. Martin

Three words… Game of Thrones. What a series. I don’t think I have ever read anything like it and I’m not sure I ever will again. The only frustrating thing about this series, is that it is not yet finished, and I am starting to think that it never will be.

If you love fantasy, gore and in depth characters then this is the series for you. If you struggle to keep up when reading, then this could be tricky but I would still urge you to give it a go.

3. Diana Gabaldon

This is a new favourite author of mine, and I have my Mum to thank for this one. After about 18 months of her nagging me to read the Outlander series, I finally picked up book 1 and read all of the books that are currently written.

This is a beautiful love story with a bit of history thrown in for good measure. There are some tense bits, but I have come to learn that the main characters are pretty safe which makes for a nice read (unlike GoT where nobody is safe).

4. Jodi Picoult

We are now stepping away from the series and onto single books. I found Jodi Picoult in my late teens and fell in love. The first book I read of hers was The Pact and I fell deep into the Jodi Picoult rabbit hole. I love how she writes about pretty deep subjects – suicide pacts, murder, high school shootings, learning disabilities, religion… the list goes on.

Some of my favourite Jodi Picoult books are House Rules, Nineteen Minutes and Plain Truth. BUT I really do love them all.

If you are looking for a book that keeps you gripped until the last minute, then Jodi Picoult is your gal.

5. Ian Rankin

I started reading Ian Rankin at the age of 15; my careers teacher had a poster for the book Witch Hunt on his classroom wall and I just wanted to read it. I got the book for Easter and never looked back, I still read Ian Rankin 16 years later and I still love the books just as much. In my opinion you can’t beat Scottish (or any British) crime novels and I’m pretty sure Ian Rankin sparked this love.

6. Peter Robinson

Yet more crime, this time set in Yorkshire and featuring Alan Banks. Again I have been reading Peter Robinson since my late teens and I still read them now.

7. Peter James

Peter James is another crime writer; his books are set in Brighton and feature Roy Grace. I do love the Roy Grace novels, I think a pattern is emerging here in that I love crime books.

Peter James has also written other books that don’t feature Roy Grace, one of these being Perfect People which is a pretty chilling book about genetically perfect children and I would recommend not only the Roy Grace crime books, but also Peter James’ other work.

As you can probably see, a pattern is emerging in that I love crime booked and Rankin, Robinson and James are my top choices for crime books.

8. Diane Chamberlain

The first Diane Chamberlain book I read was the Midwifes Confession (and I have re-read this a couple of times since and it doesn’t get old). This book kept me gripped until the very last minute. I have since read a lot of her other work and I have loved each and everyone.

Diane Chamberlain is similar to Jodi Picoult, most books feature a different set of characters and different story lines but she has done some series, one being the keeper of the light trilogy which I loved.

9. Lesley Pearse

The first Lesley Pearse book I read was Belle, which was a gripping story set in the late 1800’s. This was quite disturbing at times, and if you get very upset by violence against women then this probably isn’t the book for you, but if you can get past those pages then this book truly is lovely.

There are other lovely Lesley Pearse books but my favourites have been Belle and Gypsy (although I have read others and enjoyed them).

10. Stephen King

Last and by no means least, Stephen King… what can I say. The king of best up horror. Some of my favourite Stephen King books are Duma Key, Under The Dome, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Misery, Carrie, The Green Mile and The Shining. But as I’m sure you all know there are lots of Stephen King book and they really are all worth a read.

One thing I will say for Stephen King, if you don’t automatically get into a Stephen King book then keep trying. Sometimes they can start slow and seem to take forever to get into, but trust me it is worth keeping with it.

And so there you have it… my top 10. The authors that I will reach for before anyone else. The amazing people who write books that I am willing to re-read over and over again.

I really hope that by reading this, you will discover a new author that you will grow to love.

I would love to know your favourite authors, who knows… you could send me onto a book discovery.

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Bank Holiday Sunshine, Days Out and Outfit Ideas

Hello Lovelies,

For all of us here in the U.K. it is a Bank Holiday weekend, and as we all know the weather on our long weekends is usually pretty sucky. But not this bank holiday…. it has been glorious sunshine since Saturday morning and myself and my hubby have certainly been making the most of it.

Saturday, I spent the day with my Mum and her lovely friend Debbie in my home town of Hereford. It was the River Carnival and it was so lovely to see Hereford so busy.

Here are some photos I took of some of the very creative rafts..

Saturday morning was a little chilly and I knew we would be spending the evening at a family friends house (while I was sat in beer gardens by the river in the sun, my hubby was helping a friend put windows into their new house they are building and they cooked dinner to say thank you).

I chose to wear my old faithful blue and white stripy dress from Seasalt with my Dr Marten sandals, a denim jacket and red belt both from Primark and my lovely heart bag from Not On The Highstreet. As the day went on I did ditch the denim jacket as I felt warm, but I was pleased to have it as it cooled off in the evening.

I had my hair coloured last Wednesday and I am just getting used to having darker, warmer tones in my hair after being blonde for a while. I have to say I’m loving it and a massive thank you to Hair by Escape on Church Street in Hereford for doing a wonderful job. Here is a close up photo of my hair and make up from Saturday.

Sunday, my hubby went out on a 70 mile bike ride (I’d rather him than me) so I spent the day at home catching up on washing and reading Harry Potter A History of Magic in the garden.

It also meant I had a little bit longer to play with my hair and to try something new. Once Ed got home, we went for a little drive and spent some time outdoors. I just chucked on a summer dress from Warehouse with my New Look espadrilles and a Primark belt.

I actually managed to do a half up, half down hair do with a little bun which I’m quite pleased with. I don’t have a lot of hair and what I do have is quite fine so I used a mini doughnut to achieve this look.

Today, Monday, was a scorcher and we went on a little day trip to Bath. I absolutely love Bath, the last time we were there was for the Christmas market and it snowed so today was a bit different with a lot more time spent outside.

Here are some little photos from a wanders which took us to the Royal Crescent and to some beautiful parks.

Today’s outfit was something cool and comfy for walking. My spotty skirt is from FatFace and is a lovely light cotton and comes to just below the knee, perfect for the warmer weather. My top is a body from Gap, I love the fact that it is poppered and so doesn’t come untucked from the skirt when walking around. I teamed this look with my Vans (perfect for walking) and my lovely heart bag again. This outfit was perfect was a really hot day.

I really have had a lovely weekend with family and friends and I have especially loved the sunshine.

Tonight I plan on sitting in the cool and watching Harry Potter after spending most of the day walking in the sunshine.

What have you all been up to? What is your favourite outfit?

Thank you for reading.

Love

S

Spring Shopping

Hello Lovelies.

We are now well into March and that means that spring should be on its way pretty soon, although I’m not sure winter is quite ready to leave is just yet (I mean, snow again, really).

I have to say that I am really ready for spring and summer now. I have had enough of layers, coats and boots and I can’t wait to give myself a pedicure and slip on some sandals. For now though, I am having to make do by looking at all the lovely spring goodies in the shops.

At the beginning of the month when we last had snow and I was stuck indoors I had a big spring clean of my clothes and put a lot of them up for sale.

Today I have been on a short but sweet shopping trip with my lovely friend Janine to fill the gaps with some lovely bits for spring and summer this year.

One thing that you should know about me (and about Janine) is that we are bargain hunters. I am happy to pay full price for something that I really love, but if I can find something that I really love in the sale, even better.

Here is my little pile of goodies from today…

I really am a sucker for a bright colour any time of year, but as all the beautiful spring flowers start to pop up it makes me want to wear colour even more.

So here are today’s purchases:

First up was the Matalan Clearance shop in Newport. This is my favourite shop for bargain hunting as you can pick up lots of lovely bits and bobs for a really reasonable price (Janine got 4 pairs of shoes today for £14). From there I picked up these bits…

This pretty little denim dress will be perfect for both spring and summer and will look lovely with sandals or little pumps. For cooler days you could pop on a pair of leggings and a bright colour cardigan. This was reduced from £25 to £14 and I think it is well worth that. I can’t wait to wear this. I got this is a size 14.

This little grey dress was reduced from £14 to £9 and I got this in a size M. I am planning on wearing this with lots of bright colours and I have the perfect yellow statement necklace to go with this. You could even replace the tie belt with a thick bright belt of your own. I love little plain dresses and I need to replenish my plain dresses since losing weight so was happy to find this.

This little skirt was the cheapest item at £3.50 reduced from £12. I think this will look lovely with a coloured body or with a denim skirt tucked in. This will be great to wear dressed up for cocktails with heels and tights or dresses down with vans. I do love a versatile wardrobe staple and this is one of those.

Finally, these striped trousers. These were £7 reduced from £14. Someone in the shop saw me trying these on and they were full of compliments and even went to look for some herself which I will take as a good sign. I plan on wearing these with a plain top tucked in and some sandals.

Next up was New Look. I only got one thing from here which is this little red dress from the Blue Vanilla range. This was reduced from £20 to £7 and I could even get away with wearing this now with tights and boots. I love the floral pattern of this and the material is so soft.

We then went to outfit where I got a lovely Warehouse dress for £10 from £39. I already have a dress in this style that I wore for a friend’s wedding last summer. I got this one in a smaller size so that it will last me after I reach target.

I also got this lovely little ring from Topshop which was reduced to £2. I love this and it fits lovely on my middle or index finger.

Finally from today’s shop was this green and white striped t-shirt from H&M. This was not in the sale but was only £3.99 anyway. I love stripy tops and I don’t yet have a green so I’m excited to wear this with a denim pinafore or tucked into a denim skirt. I love the H&M basics – t-shirts, jersey dresses and cardigans especially – and I’ll be keeping an eye out for some other unusual colours.

I’m also going to share a couple of bits I picked up while at Gloucester Quays with my husband on Saturday. They had an awesome deal in White Stuff where you could get 3 items for £30. My hubby got himself a lovely dressing gown and I picked up a reversible cardigan and a beautiful thick yellow scarf. I actually wore the scarf today as it was so cold and it kept me nice and warm.

I am so pleased with my little haul, especially as it was all purchased with money from my spring clean.

What was your favourite item?

Let me know if you would like to see a try on haul.

Thank you for reading and watch this space for money spring and summer goodness.

Hugs.

Sophie

Hello March… and hello snow!

Hello Lovelies, and welcome to March.

This month brings the start of Spring, Easter, lighter mornings and evenings and hopefully the start of some milder weather.

But to kick it all off, we have snow and lots of it.

We are well and truly snowed in here, and although my morning has currently been spent eating chocolate porridge and watching Netflix, I know that cabin fever is soon going to set in and I’m going to want something else to occupy my time.

Here are my ideas to fill a snowy day stuck indoors:

  • Have a wardrobe clear out. I like to do this every couple of months and the clothes that either no longer fit or that I know I am not likely to wear I sell on. This not only lets others have new clothes for a bargain price, but also provides me with a little bit of cash with which to buy myself some new clothes. Although I love nothing more that a nice day out shopping, I am also a massive fan of buying second hand and love some of the groups that are set up on Facebook to buy and sell.
  • Get crafting. Whether you like to sew, bake or paint… this is something everyone can enjoy (even the kiddies if you have any). My favourite is sewing and I do have a couple of clothing items that need repairing or altering that I might tackle this afternoon. Even if its just getting out a colouring book, it will help to pass the time and can be quite relaxing.
  • Have a bath. There is nothing better than a long soak in the bath with a bath bomb in my opinion… grab a good book or a magazine and have a soak. Not only will it warm you up, it will also relax you.
  • Go for a walk or build a snowman. I know this isn’t technically an indoors activity, but it is still something that can be fun. Although snow is not my favourite weather, it is still nice to get out for a walk in it and take some photos. We don’t get a lot of snow, so when we do we should make the most of it.

Those are the ways I will be spending my snow days… if you have any other ideas of how I can pass the time then please let me know in the comments.

I think the most important thing to do when it is cold and snowy like this is to make sure that your neighbours are ok (espeically those that are elderly and not able to get out and about themselves). I’m lucky that I live on a lovely estate where everyone is very helpful, but not everywhere is like this so please remember others may be in need.

And most importantly, have lots of fun but be safe!

My January Must Haves

Goodbye January and Hellooooo February.

I don’t know about you, but I am very much looking forward to seeing the first glimpses of spring and to the start of some lighter evenings.

As we are saying goodbye to January, I thought that I would share the things that I would not have got through January without…

Hats, Scarves and Gloves – my oh my, hasn’t January been cold. I’m not sure that I could have coped with the cold dark nights stood on the train platform without my trust bobble hat, tartan scarf and gloves. My hat was £3 and my gloves £1 and were both from Primark. My scarf was a splurge last year from Topshop and has been my trusty companion for the whole of this winter (the picture below is stolen from google but is the exact scarf – although mine is looking very loved). It cost £18 but has been worth every penny and is lovely and warm. Do you have any tips for staying warm while outside in the cold weather?

Topshop Tartan Scarf

Sunbites Sweet & Salty Popcorn – My new favourite snack. I used to hate sweet and salty popcorn but my tastes have changed and now I LOVE it. It is also not too bad on slimming world at only 2.5 syns for one of the small multi pack bags, and is perfect for a snack to throw in your bag or for eating while snuggled up watching a film. They also do a sweet caramel which is just as nice. I have really been loving popcorn this January and I don’t think this will change for a while.

Walkers_Sunbites_Popcorn_Sweet_And_Salty_30g

Cards Against Humanity – we have spent a couple of nights this January with friends playing this game. My hubby brought this just after Christmas following a recommendation and it really does live up to its reputation. Hearing my future brother in law laugh while playing was worth every penny. I would recommend this to any of you who have a dark sense of humor and are up for a laugh. We found that this was out of stock in lots of places, but we managed to get it direct from Cards Against Humanity and he also got the geek expansion pack. You can buy the game here:

https://www.cardsagainsthumanity.com/

Warmies – another something to love in the cold weather. I have a dinosaur and an owl and these are my saving grace for cold nights. Especially when your husband likes a colder bedroom. I take both to bed and have one by my feet and one by my belly in bed at night. I also have one at work that I use when it gets cold in the office (which is a lot since we work in a very old building). As much as I love these, part of me can’t wait to put them away until next winter.

dinosaur

Soap & Glory Hand Dream Hand Cream – it does what it says on the tin (or squeezy bottle). I love hand cream all year round but this one is particularly hydrating for dry hands over the winter and it smells pretty good too. I am a bit lover of the Soap and Glory products but especially the hand creams and body scrubs. I keep a hand cream by the side of the bed, by the side of sofa and a small one in my handbag.

hand cream

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack – for those of you who have not yet seen The Greatest Showman I would highly recommend that you do. For those of you that have, how much do you love it? I enjoyed every single moment of that film – the characters, the story and the MUSIC. I’m pretty sure my hubby was fed up of me going on and on about how wonderful it was and about how much I loved it, but he’s a good egg and put up with it. As soon as we got home from the cinema I was on iTunes downloading the album and it is pretty much all I have listened to since. I am a big fan of musicals, but this has got to be one of my new favourites.

You can buy the soundtrack here:

https://store.hmv.com/music/cd/the-greatest-showman-on-earth?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvsix77uF2QIVr73tCh3DPg2gEAQYASABEgK2v_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

and you can pre-order the DVD here:

https://store.hmv.com/film-tv/dvd/the-greatest-showman?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvsix77uF2QIVr73tCh3DPg2gEAQYAyABEgLq1vD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

For those of you who are unsure about watching this…. DO IT!

Too Faced Chocolate Bar – I am LOVING this eye shadow palette. This was a Christmas gift and is so versatile. In fact I love it so much that I have also purchased the Too Faced Chocolate Chip palette, which is a mini version of the chocolate bar, for when I am travelling. I love all of the colours and you can make lots of different looks for both day and night with this palette. I didn’t think I would ever love eye shadows as much as I love my Urban Decay palettes but this one is just as good.

 

And finally…

Fruity Tea Bags – a little bit of a boring one. But I have swapped my normal tea for fruit again this January. I am actually loving drinking these teas now instead of normal tea. I am not a big tea drinker anyway and these are making me feel like I am being healthier and making better choices. I would be interested to know what your favourite fruit and herbal teas are.

And so folks… there you have it. My January Must Haves.

What have you not been able to live without this January? Please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Sophie

x

Slimming World & Diet Groups

It has been 12 months since I joined Slimming World and despite being a long way away from my target weight, I have still noticed a lot of things while on my journey.

I know that as it is January a lot of people will be joining, or will have already joined, slimming clubs (I mean, I was one of the New Year, new me, people last year) and what I also know is that a lot of people won’t stick it out. My words of encouragement for those of you who are just starting out would be to hang in there. Sometimes things can feel tough, but muddle through, I promise it is worth it.

I am now on a push to get to target this year (I would love to get there by August but who knows).

However, as I have now been a member for 12 months I thought I would share some observations with you that may, or may not, help you on your journey.

  • Not everyone will be a cheerleader. I’ve found that some people will not congratulate you, or make a comment about how you have lost weight etc. and this is ok. It might feel hard at the time (I know I was upset when one of my closest friends refused to speak to me when I first started losing weight – she even went as far as to turn her face to the wall when I walked in a room). As soon as these people realise that it isn’t necessarily a vanity thing that is making you diet, it is actually for health benefits, they will loosen up a little bit. Just give these people a little bit of time.
  • There will be a diet friendly recipe for most of your favourite things. Places like Pinterest are your friend. One thing to remember is that although these things will give you a little bit of a chocolate or biscuit fix they will not taste exactly like their real counterpart and sometimes it is worth using more syns to give yourself a real fix – curly wurlys are only 6 syns and some small bags of popcorn are only 2.5-3 syns. Have a little of what you love, it will help keep you on track.
  • Stay to group. It’s so daunting for those first few weeks and months to be the new face but it really is inspirational and you will get lots of tips. Plus, on harder weeks it feels like you have the whole world supporting you. I have made some lovely new friends by staying for image therapy and these are the people who will understand your struggle and will support you through it.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Someone might have lost 7lbs last week, but it doesn’t mean you will but that is ok. Sometimes I am quite hard on myself if I feel my loss hasn’t been big enough, this is not ok and I am trying to stop and be happy with any loss.
  • People will try to sabotage you. They will try to give you chocolate, crisps, pizza… you must resist. I think you will always have people in your life who like that you are the fat friend. Be strong and show them!

Finally… the most important thing to remember is:

ENJOY EVERY MINUTE. Enjoy every loss, every non-scale victory (clothes being too big, fitting into clothes that haven’t fit for a while, not getting out of breath when climbing the stairs) and be proud of those stickers and certificates.

I would also urge you to take photos as you go along. A photo that was taken last year where I felt great as I’d lost over a stone, I now think I look big in. It’s so great to be able to compare.

But good luck on your journey, no matter how big or small, and remember to never give up!

I thought I would share some photos from along the way…

The last photo is the same dress, 12 months apart.

Blue Monday

I’m not really sure I buy into this “Blue Monday” thing. I have had quite a nice day which included managing to avoid the rain on my walk to, and from, the station and on my walk around town today. I also had the yummiest breakfast (a new discovery by me) of porridge and dark chocolate chips – it’s truly delicious and very filling.

January does seem to be the longest month EVER and I do agree with that. For me the thing that is making me blue and wish that January was over already is that I have not yet managed to shift my Christmas and New Year weight gain and that it is very cold (especially annoying when the train is late and has no heating like today).

So… I think an idea to beat the January blues is to pick something positive from everyday, no matter how big or how small! I have been doing this throughout January but it seems a very apt thing to be thinking of today.

Some of the little things I have focussed on this January that have made me happy are:

  • lunchtime meetings being cancelled, which means I get to go for a walk and get fresh air at lunchtime.
  • taking the time to do things for me – like a long bath, a manicure or just watching something on TV that makes me happy.
  • getting to spend time with my husband, especially when we get to go out on wintery walks or even just a cwtch while watching a film.
  • the fact I am keeping hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Telephone chats with my wonderful Nan and afternoons out and about with my fabulous Aunty and her little brood.

To some, these things may seem trivial, but to me they bring a little bit of happiness to my day.

One of my New Years Resolutions was to be more positive, and to inspire others to be more positive, and although some days are a struggle I am trying to find a little bit of good in each day.

What do you all think? I would be interested to hear your views. And if there are little bits of positive in your day that you would like to share then please do.