Monday, February 18, 2019

On Sophie's Shelf | January Reads

I know, I know, it's almost the end of February already, but I still wanted to share the books I read back in January. I set myself a goal of 52 books this year, and although I've already fallen off the track, I did manage to read four books last month, so here's what I thought of them!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart ★★★★

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book, and even part way through I was not expecting it to end the way it did. The story follows Cadence, one of the grandchildren of wealthy democrat Harris Sinclair. Every summer, the Sinclair's go to their own island, and the story follows their family, and the four Liars - Cadence, her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and their friend Gat. Cady's cousins all lie for their mothers, who are each competing for their father's inheritance, and although their family and this act annoyed me a little to begin with, in the end, I did really enjoy it.

Almost Adulting by Arden Rose ★★★

Now I haven't ever watched any of Arden's videos, but I loved the look and sound of this book when I saw it on my housemate's shelf, so decided to give it a read. It's a collection of stories about experiences that Arden had been through, and I found that she was extremely open and at times very blunt. It was a really quick, and funny read, and it was just a nice way to start the year. 

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard ★★★★★

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
When I first started reading Fierce Fragile Hearts, the characters felt really familiar, but it wasn't until after I finished that I realised it was a companion novel to Beautiful Broken Things, so this completely works as a stand-alone novel. Fierce Fragile Hearts follows the story of Suzanne, a few years after Beautiful Broken Things, and just as she leaves care and moves back to Brighton. It was a beautifully told, but also an incredibly emotional story following Suzanne's struggles as she learns to live on her own and make a life for herself, despite her traumatic past. Reading this was an emotional rollercoaster, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I laughed and I cried. It was perfect. 

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds ★★★★

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
This was such a wonderful read. I absolutely loved the concept from the get-go but worried it could get too repetitive. It was far from it, and I was completely hooked the entire way through. Jack is such a loveable main character, and I loved reading about his realationship with Kate, and his friendships with Jillian and Franny. Another brilliant YA novel for 2019, and a fantastic debut from Justin.

Let me know if you've read any of the books I read in January, and what you thought of them! I'm definitely going to try and get back into reading more this week, so should have another book post for you in a few weeks! 
Monday, February 11, 2019

Theatre | Waitress - Adelphi Theatre

"Let's see the next amazing thing baking does now..."

If you read my Come From Away review, you'll know that that was on my list of shows to see when I finally made it over to New York again. The other show that was top of my list was Waitress, and I was lucky enough to finally see it on Friday at the first preview here in London.

Set in the American South, Waitress follows the story of Jenna, a waitress and pie baker who's in an unhappy relationship with her abusive husband Earl. When she discovers she's pregnant, she begins looking for ways out and sets her sights on the grand prize of a nearby pie contest.

Although I had listened to the soundtrack a fair lot in the last couple of years and I knew the gist of the storyline, the show itself went above and beyond, and I fell even more in love with it. It was full of moments that made me laugh, and moments that made me cry, and I loved the underlying themes of friendship and self-discovery. I also adored getting random wafts of apple pie throughout the show - a small touch but one that made it a little more immersive.

It's time to talk about the incredible cast! As I've mentioned before, there can always be a little worry about a cast when you're so invested in the original cast recording, but they honestly blew my socks off. Katharine McPhee was a fantastic Jenna, and her performance of She Used To Be Mine was so phenomenal that the audience didn't stop clapping for a good few minutes.

Then there's the other two leading ladies - Marisha Wallace as Becky, and Laura Baldwin as Dawn. I'd seen Marisha previously in Dreamgirls, and Laura in Eugenius, so I know they were talented, but my, oh my! Firstly, their harmonies as a trio were insane and they sounded as though they'd been singing together for months as opposed to just the one. Then we have their individual performances too. Laura was hilarious as Dawn, and Marisha's performance of I Didn't Plan It blew me away. All I can say is wow.

Photo from Marisha Wallace's Instagram

The rest of the cast were also brilliant. Jack McBrayer completely fit the part of Ogie, Peter Hannah played a ridiculously believable Earl, and David Hunter was brilliant as Dr. Pomatter. A huge shoutout also needs to go to Kelly Agbowu as she completely cracked the audience (and Kat!) up with her performance of Nurse Norma.

I already knew it would be prior to seeing it, but Waitress is definitely up there in my top three shows of all time (alongside Hamilton and Come From Away) and I honestly cannot wait to see it again! It's a show that everyone should see, so if you weren't already planning on it I'd definitely recommend getting tickets.

Waitress has now extended it's West End run, and is booking at the Adelphi Theatre until 19th October.
Monday, February 04, 2019

Theatre | Come From Away - Phoenix Theatre

"You are here, at the start of a moment..." 

I first started listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Come From Away back well over a year ago now, and it was the top of my list of shows to see when I eventually make it to New York again. Thankfully, though, I didn't have to wait that long, because back in June they announced that the show would be coming over to London. Even with having it booked for a few weeks time (and again a couple of weeks after that,) I knew that I couldn't wait a minute longer, and decided to book a rush ticket to see it on the opening night of previews.

For those of you that weren't aware, on September 11th 2001, 38 planes were diverted to Gander in Newfoundland, Canada, due to the closure of the US airspace, following the terrorist attacks that took place that day. Come From Away tells the real-life stories of what happened on that day (and the following days) for both the Islanders and 'plane people' who find themselves in Gander.

As I already knew the music particularly well (I had to stop myself mouthing along at times!), seeing the show brought to life was the important part for me. The scripting in between songs was just as incredible as the music itself. There were so many moments that caught me off guard, and I spent the entire show on an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed, I cried, and I had the biggest grin on my face for pretty much the entire 100 minutes running time.

One of my biggest worries, when I've listened to a recording, is not loving the cast I see as much as those that I've heard sing it a million times previously, but I actually got a sneak peek of the cast back in October as I was invited to the launch event at Canada House. Because of that, I knew that they'd be amazing when the show came round, but they went above and beyond. I could shout out every single one of them, but the standout performances for me were definitely Jenna Boyd's portrayal of Beulah, Robert Hands & Helen Hobson's portrayals of Nick & Diane (my favourite characters in the show!) and of course Rachel Tucker's portrayal of Beverley, especially when it came to her performance of Me and The Sky.

Photo: Matthew Murphy

In case you haven't gathered by all I've said above (and by the fact that I'm going back to see it another twice in the next month!), the show is absolutely phenomenal, and if you do get the chance to see it, you must. We only seem to hear stories of the horrible terrorist attacks that happened on September 11th, but this is a story from that day that shows that there are good people out there, and that's something I think we all need in our lives, especially now.

Come From Away is currently playing at The Phoenix Theatre, with tickets bookable until mid-September. 
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Getting new glasses with Glasses Direct

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember this post I wrote over two years ago now, about buying new glasses with Glasses Direct. I absolutely love the convenience of ordering through them, and was a big fan of the glasses I bought, so when they got in touch recently to ask if I wanted to try out their own brand range I couldn't resist.

Glasses Direct currently offer almost 200 glasses in their own brand range and the frame prices start as low as £20, which makes glasses incredibly affordable. As mentioned in my last post, one of my favourite parts of buying frames through Glasses Direct is the fact that they offer a home trial, meaning you can get frames delivered straight to your door for you to try on. I ordered two home trials before picking out my glasses, and I was honestly so impressed with all eight styles that I tried on. 

In my first home trial I tried on Andi, Planet 38, Solo 571 and Olivia. The frames ranged in price between £20 and £49, and they were all completely different from each other. My favourite out of the four were the Solo 571, which had the graduated colour of blue to brown. 

My second home trial conststed of Planet 51, Planet 03, Quinn and Solo 591. Again, the frames ranged between £20 and £49. My favourite pair of the four were the Solo 591. 

In the end, I was torn between the two, so I did a third home trial and ordered both pairs each in two different colours. It was really helpful, and let me see both the frames together, and the two different colour options for each that I was torn between. 

Ultimately, I went for the Solo 591 frames as I loved how they looked on me, and I really liked the blue colouring on them. I've been wearing them for the last few weeks, and I'm incredibly happy with their performance so far. Not only did they turn up within a week of the order being placed, they're also great frames and nobody can guess they cost as little as £20! 

Not only do Glasses Direct offer great frames for incredible prices, if you purchase a pair that are £49 or more, you can also make use of their 2 for 1 offer, which would mean you'd get a second pair of frames for free! 

Let me know if you end up purchasing any glasses through them, and if so, which frames!

Sophie x
Thursday, May 31, 2018

On Sophie's Shelf | February & March

I'm back with another book post, and once again, I'm a good couple of months late on this one. I didn't read as much as I was able to in January during these two months, however I did still get three books read.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

I first read Me Before You a good few years before the movie ever came about, and it has been one of my favourite books since. Back then, I wasn't sure what would happen when the sequel After You came about, but I adored that too. I was so excited when I heard that we'd get a third book in the series, and knowing that I'd get to revisit Louisa's life. Once again, I absolutely adored it. I laughed and I cried and I fell in love with Louisa once again. I knew that this book was going to be hit or miss, but it definitely was a hit in my opinion and I loved every second of it. Do I want a fourth book? Potentially, but I also loved how this one ended!

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

I have had Flawed on my shelf since I went to Cecelia's book tour back in March 2016. It was definitely one of those books that I've really been meaning to read, but I just never got round to it until now. The book is about a dystopian society in which people are branded flawed if they do something wrong, and as it seems like we live in a society where there is a pressure to be perfect, it was definitely thought-provoking. It was an all-around good read, and I definitely enjoyed it, however, I'm not sure whether I'd rush to read the sequel just yet. I much prefer the other books of Cecelia's that I've read, and I definitely think I'll be sticking to those as opposed to her YA novels in future.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

My third book read across the two months was Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. I've read a few of his books in the past, and although I liked them, I never loved them enough to revisit. Saying that, I was pleasantly surprised with this book, and it's by far my favourite out of all I've read by him. One of the big focuses in the book was mental health, which I've since learnt was based a lot on John's own experiences. Although it's not the main plotline, the main female character Aza suffers from anxiety and O.C.D, and a lot of the story focuses on her battles. It's written in a way that really makes you understand the struggles that she's going through, and I think that's all down to the fact that John had suffered similarly himself. The entire novel was insightful, captivating and just a fantastic read. I'd definitely think about reading it again in the future.

That's all for now, but I'll be back with another book post soon!

Sophie x
Monday, February 05, 2018

On Sophie's Shelf | January


I know I said I'd be blogging more regularly, but life got the better of me and I've just not got round to it. I promise I'll get better this year!

One of my goals for twenty-eighteen was to read twenty-six books, which is the equivalent of one every two weeks. Last year I aimed for fifty-two, and lets face it, I failed badly. I went for the smaller goal this year, because I have no idea where this year will take me, and how much time it'll give me to curl up with a good book.

To my surprise, I got ahead of the game in January, and managed to get through FOUR books. I'm super happy to be ahead of my target, and I thought I'd share what I'd been reading with you guys!

The Sun In Her Eyes by Paige Toon
Now, if you've seen any of the books I've read and reviewed before, you'll know I'm a HUGE fan of Paige's writing. This book was no different! The Sun In Her Eyes was beautifully written, and I absolutely adored it. I really loved Amber. She was likeable and was very easy to relate to, but at times she also made really stupid decisions, just like any human does. When it came to the two main guys in the book, I definitely had my feelings towards them at the start completely opposite to what I thought of them at the end. The entire book was like that, really, as I had a few ideas of what I thought might happen, and in the end I was completely wrong. If you're a fan of Paige's books, or if you're wanting to give one a try, this is definitely one to pick up!

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern
I'm also a really big fan of Cecelia's books, and have read a few of hers. Lyrebird has been sat on my shelf for a little while, so I decided to give it a go. I really liked the plot of this book, as it was so different to anything I'd read before. It was warming, funny, and also made me cry at times. I loved Laura, and seeing her personality come to life. I also loved Bo, and reading about how her feelings towards Laura grew, but it broke my heart to see her treated the way she was. I'm not sure if I'd put this up there with my top three Cecelia Ahern books, but I definitely enjoyed it!

Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd
I thought I'd give the fiction a bit of a break within the month, and decided to read Izzy's book Dare to Dream. Although I'm personally not going through the struggles of starting a family, I am a fan of both Izzy and her husband Harry, and that's what encouraged me to read it. It was heartbreaking but also incredibly warming, and it was wonderful to read after knowing that they've got their two little ones Lola and Kit. There were many bits of the book that really tugged on my heart strings, but I think the hardest part for me to read was hearing Izzy talk about her brothers accident, and how much it changed her family's life. For those of you that don't know, my brother also had a bad accident a fair few years ago now, and it was also a brain injury. Thankfully he made a full recovery, but the emotions that Izzy spoke about when it first happened and when he was in hospital were a little too familiar. All in all, it was a really interesting read, and whether you're going through your own fertility struggles or not, it's encouraging and warming, and gives you a great insight into what it really is like going through it.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz
Now, if you follow me on any form of social media, you'll know that I am a BIG fan of the musical Hamilton. At the time of writing this, I've seen in twice, have listened to it hundreds of times, and have tickets for another three shows booked. I'm addicted, I'll admit it. My lovely friend Katie bought me this book for my birthday in January (because I'm not allowed to buy myself any at the moment!) and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. I absolutely love the story between Alex and Eliza in Hamilton, and to read more about how their relationship began was wonderful. I fell in love with the pair of them even more, and this book left me laughing and crying throughout. I can't wait to read more Hamilton inspired books in the future!

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I read in January. If you want to keep up to date with what I'm reading, feel free to give me a follow on goodreads!

Sophie x
Monday, January 01, 2018

Goodbye 2017 | Hello 2018

Well hello, again. It's been a while.

I actually only wrote six blog posts between this one, and the one I wrote at the start of 2017. A lot's happened this year, and I've definitely neglected my blog, but I'm hopefully going to be back for good now.

2017 has been a pretty good year for me. Of course it's had it's low points, but there were definitely some pretty incredible moments, that I can't help but reflect on.

I got to visit my home away from home - Disneyland Paris - six times this year. I got to spend my 24th birthday there in January, experience their 25th birthday in April, ride the newly refurbished HyperSpace Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean in August, run 5K in September, spent Halloween there in October, and see their Christmas festivities in November. I've been pretty lucky being able to visit as much as I have this year, but the most important part of all six trips has to be the wonderful friends I got to spend them with.

In April, Sophie and I booked our trip trip to Walt Disney World. Although we didn't go in 2017, this was a big part of my year, and I've been counting down the days since booking. I've wanted to visit the other Disney resorts around the world for years, and naturally next on the cards after Paris was Orlando. I'm so excited for our trip in February, and if you want to see more on our plans, Sophie and I also set up our YouTube channel - SophieSquared - in April this year.

Another big part of my 2017 was moving out of my parent's house in March, before they uprooted and moved to Portugal in April. I've loved experiencing the last nine months living in London. It's made everything so much more accessible, and has definitely added to the experiences I've had this year. It's also been lovely visiting my parents out in Portugal - I'm actually writing this from their house - and experiencing the life they now have here.

Although those are some of the bigger things, my year has been full of other wonderful, smaller moments, full of love and laughter. It's been a year that I will definitely be thankful for, and it leads me nicely into 2018.

So from me, to you, Happy New Year. Here's to a 2018 full of the little moments, full of love and laughter, and full of things that put a smile on your face.

Sophie x