My blog often is consumed by book and theatre reviews and events coverage yet there is a lot more I enjoy, so I decided to start a new feature in which I will talk about some other things I loved in the past month. This can be anything, from great videos and inspirational articles to my favourite foods and handy links. In February 2016 I rekindled my love for YA fiction, went on a clothes shopping spree and discovered quirky new brands, ogled stunning children's classics in hardback, played around in the kitchen trying new dishes, and became addicted to Booktube and the Amazon wish list browser button.
Must-Read YA BooksI've always loved reading young adult novels. In fact, when I started up this blog in 2010/2011, the majority of the books I reviewed were YA. However, I started to become a bit bored with the genre as the novels I picked up were all very samey at the time and I started to fall in love with contemporary women's fiction and literary reads instead. But YA has become much more diverse and interesting in the last year or so, and I'm genuinely excited again about upcoming releases.
In February I read two books that will be hard to top as my favourite YA reads of 2016: The Act of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, an insightful and hugely important contemporary read (find my Goodreads review here), and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, which is a fantasy epic in which The Hunger Games meets X-Men meets Game of Thrones (find my Goodreads review here). I'm working with some new publishers this year including Scholastic, Abrams & Chronicle YA, Bloomsbury Children's and Titan Books, so watch out for more YA coverage in the next few months!
Amazon Wish List Browser ButtonMy birthday was in February and a friend asked me to update my Amazon wish list so she could get me something I really wanted. She introduced me to the browser button, which lets you add anything to your wish list from any website, rather than being restricted to what's available on Amazon. It's amazeballs and I've started to add more and more to it even after my birthday as it's a great way for me to keep track of things I'd like to get at some point (and yes I've started to buy more too, oops!). This is my wish list if anyone's interested.
New Clothes from Sugarhill and LoucheI haven't bought clothes in a long time. We have a business dress code at work and so I'm always wearing the same old boring stuff Monday-Thursday and it didn't really feel worth splurging on clothes for just a few days a week. However, I've been feeling a bit unhappy with how I look and dress recently and decided to make a change. I gave myself the freedom to buy anything I wanted for two weeks as long as it wasn't something boring all black and it was a little bit different/quirky.
All clothes I bought ended up being from the brands Yumi, Sugarhill and Louche (the latter two were new discoveries for me but are stocked in Joy, among other places) and included: a cute green checked skirt (I rarely wear skirts but want to change this), a comfy deer and robin jumper (I adore woodland creatures), a smart nautical blazer (I bought the navy version which is now out of stock), a gold spot print blouse and – my ABSOLUTE favourite of the bunch – a Sugarhill folk heart jumper. I bought loads more from these brands which for one reason or another I didn't end up keeping so the refreshing of my wardrobe is ongoing. Do you have any recommendations for brands in a similar casual/preppy style to Sugarhill and Louche I should check out?
BooktubersGoing hand-in-hand with my rekindled love for young adult fiction is becoming addicted to Booktube. I've started the habit of catching up with my favourite channels while cooking dinner, which is a great way to turn my brain off work and relax. Some of my favourite Booktubers include A Book Utopia, Ariel Bissett, Novels and Nonsense, Peruse Project, and Read by Zoe. As I'm on the lookout for more channels to subscribe to, do leave your favourites in the comments below.
Collectible Children's ClassicsDespite a MASSIVE book clear-out (I parted with 50+ books in the course of about a week, ouch) and always running out of shelf space, I've recently fallen in love with some gorgeous hardbacks of children's classics, which I'm now collecting. Fuelled by winning a copy of Peter Pan with stunning illustrations by Minalima over Christmas (read my blog post about this edition here), I've searched the web for other gorgeous hardbacks I want to add to my collection and this list currently consists of: The Secret Garden Barnes & Noble collectible edition (a lovely friend of mine has already brought this back from the US for me), Heidi by Puffin in Bloom, Anne of Green Gables by Puffin in Bloom, and the upcoming Jungle Book illustrated by Minalima. What are some of your most gorgeous books? Which do you recommend I add to my list?
Cooking AdventuresThis year I decided to bake and cook some things I haven't previously tried my hand at and in February this consisted of a homemade chunky vegetable soup with spicy mini meatballs (I made this completely from scratch and without a recipe and was so pleased with how it turned out!) and a very tasty dinner made up of parsley mash (I made this myself with fresh parsley), creamed leaks and mushrooms, and a white fish. I have also started to be more diverse with breakfast and rather than just a bowl of cereal I have in February also made Dutch pancakes with banana and nutella; Greek yoghurt with fresh banana, strawberries and blueberries; and porridge with a whole apple (cut up in tiny bits) and lots of cinnamon. So tasty!
What were some of your favourites things you enjoyed or discovered in the month of February? Let me know in the comments below!