Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #97

It’s a Friday and therefore time for me to share my highlights from the past seven days. I feel like the last one of these I wrote was ages ago and so much has happened in that time. But then I guess two weeks is 14 days and a girl can do a lot of stuff in 14 days! I’ve also just realised that today is the first of December – WHAT! I mean how did we get here? But also hooray for all the festive things that are almost upon us. Also judging by the speed that 2017 is flying by the 25th is going to be here in no time at all! But before we all panic about just how much needs to be done before that date let’s focus on my past week and the little things that made my week.

<>  First up on the list has to be Manchester. I had a wonderful time exploring the city and catching up with my fabulous friends. Someone said to me earlier this week that good friend were hard to find. And that’s absolutely true. Well I’ve found mine and I’m not letting them go.

<> Also on the same Manchester note I had a great time exploring the Northern Quarter. It’s not somewhere I’ve really been before, even though Fi was at uni in the city and I visited quite a lot. Well now I’m a big fan, and am already itching to get back there and explore it further.


<> Next on the highlights list is all the food! I made a truly scrummy and super easy pasta dish on Monday night. Pasta, salmon, courgette, spinach and tomatoes smothered in pesto. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before, but it’s definitely going to become a staple. Another dinner highlight was a bit of a using up all the food situation with a big pan of potatoes, ham, all the veg and eggs to make a breakfast scramble type thing which is definitely an old favourite.

<> What else is there to talk about this week? I must have more highlights!! Oh yes I must include last night’s trip back to Horsley for some arts and crafting fun. My Mum organised a trip to her local ceramics cafe which included champagne and pizza and painting and it was a great night. Going somewhere like this always reminds me how much I enjoy getting creative. I really should do it more often. Maybe that’s a resolution for the new year…

<> Oh yes, because of the trip out to the countryside I had puppy cuddles last night/this morning. Gosh I’ve missed that crazy bean. Also today marks the two year anniversary of the parental units rescuing that teeny tiny puppy and giving her a home. I know having a puppy in our lives has been the best thing ever – but I hope it’s been good for her too. From the looks of the below and her Instagram hashtag #lunaevanspup I think it just might be. The image on the left is her on day one and image on the right is her a couple of weeks ago. Doesn’t she look far less worried and much happier, or am I imagining it?


<> I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for approximately the 576th time and it’s still wonderful. If a little long.

<> My heating is now on for an hour in the morning, as well as the three hours at night. It feels quite decadent to wake up warm and toasty, although it takes getting out of bed incredibly hard!

<> This week I’ve discovered The Guilty Feminist podcast and I’m obsessed! I mean I knew this existed before now but for one reason or another I hadn’t actually listened to an episode. But before my Manchester weekend I had a brief moment of prepping for the train journey and downloaded three episodes, and now I’m hooked. I found myself nodding along with so many of the points, and it’s also absolutely hysterical. It reminds me a little of The Last Leg, except, in podcast form and with women included! 

So there we have them my weekly highlights. It’s been a rather good one I would say. How has your last week of November been? And more importantly do you have your Christmas tree up yet? I’m trying to figure out when mine should go up…

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Winter Bucket List

Winter Bucket List - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

So it’s officially Winter tomorrow (side note: how did that happen?!). And as such it’s time to think about all the things I want to do, sights I want to see and experiences I want to have during the coldest season. I love doing these sorts of posts ahead of a new season, not least because it reminds me of why I love each one. Invariably I end up deciding that this upcoming season is actually my favourite, not the one we’ve just had. so let’s see if my Winter bucket list has me exclaiming the same thing this time…

Winter Bucket List

<> Pick up mulled wine and wander the Southbank Christmas markets, stopping only for a Nutella crepe

<> Go scrunching through the icy leaves as the sun sets and the dog frolics

<> Get organised for the new year. Ensure I’m prepared and know what I’m hoping to achieve at the start of the year

<> Spend a day snuggled under duvets on the sofa watching Disney films and Harry Potter

<> Get up early and run through the frosty streets as the sun rises

<> Go ice skating all bundled up in scarves and hats

<> Make my own gingerbread, sticky ginger cake and mulled wine mix

<> Plan some 2018 travels. 2018 has to be the year when I spread out my trips. I’m aiming for a few weekends away, starting with one in February

<> Explore all the London Christmas lights and focus on enjoying them, not taking pictures of them

<> Make the most of the time between Christmas and New Year for nights of board games with the family

<> Have a good old spring clean ahead of a new year

<> Spend time with my favourites with trips to the pub and catch ups over gin

<> Give Vegan January a whirl

So there we have it, my winter bucket list. What do you think, have I missed something really obvious? What are your winter plans?

-Fi x



Out and About: A Weekend in Paris

I think it’s quite obvious that I couldn’t go to Paris without writing at least one blog post about it. I mean I like to travel, and I like to write. And I like that this blog is somewhat of a travel journal for me. Alongside my instagram account obviously! So sharing our Paris trip on here was bound to happen. So without further ado, here’s what we did with our weekend in Paris.

I should start by saying that this is the perfect weekend in Paris if you’ve done the main attractions before. If you haven’t and you are planning to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum, or make your way up the Eiffel Tower then this post isn’t for you. Or it is but you’ll need a little longer at each location to complete this list. You can also check out previous Paris posts here; Visiting the Arc de Triomphe and Paris on a Budget.

<> First up book a late night Friday Eurostar train. We got the last train from London, which at 20:01 arrives at Gare Du Nord at 23:17. If you stay near the station, in Montmarte, then you’ve got a quick 10 minute taxi ride to your accommodation. Easy. The 8pm train also leaves plenty of time to get to St Pancras from elsewhere in London (or the suburbs) so you can visit the Searcy’s Champagne Bar and stock up on M&S food for a train picnic dinner. What a way to start the trip, am I right?

<> On Saturday morning start your day with a local breakfast of fresh coffee and pastries. There are plenty of breakfast places throughout Paris that serving a very filling petit dejeuner. Or do what we did and walk to your local bakery and feast on croissants in your apartment.


<> Next head to the river. The metro is super easy in Paris and you can get a 24 or 48 hour ticket for each of the zones, which lets you take as many journeys as you want during that time frame. We opted for the zone 1-3, 48 hour ticket which was less than €20. And so totally worth it. We headed straight to Chatelet metro stop and then walked along the river, crossing at the Pont Neuf onto Île de la Cité (Île de la Cité is one of two islands in the middle of the River Seine).

<> Once on Île de la Cité wander around the island and passed Notre Dame Cathedral. This cathedral is stunning. The gargoyles and flying buttresses are beautifully carved and the stained glass windows are beautiful. From Notre Dame cross to the other side of the river (the opposite of where you came from) and explore the quaint lanes, small shops and eateries of the neighbourhood. Shakespeare & Co. bookshop is in this part of the city, so stop here if you want to peruse for books.


<> Stop for coffee or an early lunch around here, or have a brief sit in the nearby park or squares and churchyards dotted around the area. We found Odette’s which had delicious coffee and tasty choux buns. And if you can manage the walk up the tiny staircase to the next floor there’s a fantastic table in the window with stunning views across to Notre Dame.

<> Once you’ve refuelled head back along the river to the Pont des Arts and cross back over the Seine to the Musee du Louvre. The buildings of the Louvre are stunning. You’ve got the classic grand buildings of Paris, but in the courtyard is the glass and iron of the pyramid. The pairing makes for a striking contrast and is a big tourist trap. You can’t help but spend some time here, just staring in wonder. Next to the Musee du Louvre is the Palais Royal which has a fabulous art installation by Daniel Buren in the building’s courtyard. They look like sticks of rock coming out of the ground.

<> From the Louvre and the Palais Royal it’s only a quick stroll to the Jardin du Tuileries which in Autumn looks absolutely stunning. In any city a stroll through the park is always a must. There’s something relaxing about being in the greenery, with the busy roads and tall buildings out of your sight line – it’s tranquil. These gardens are landscaped with lots of chairs dotted around, so if you want to stop and have a rest and people watch then this is the place for you.

<> After the park we jumped back onto the metro and headed back to Montmarte for the afternoon. We explored the roads around the area before heading to the Sacre Coeur. Perched on the top of a hill, it’s quite a climb up steps to get to this church. There is a funicular that you can get on which gets you up there in no time at all. By the way if you have the travel card then it covers the funicular. The view from the Sacre Couer is absolutely stunning.  We visited on a wet and rainy day, but we were still able to see Paris stretched out in front of us.

<> If you’re staying in Montmarte now is a perfect opportunity to wander back to you hotel or apartment and have a rest and recharge the batteries. We did exactly that, before heading back out for dinner. A friend living in the Paris suggested a lovely restaurant near our apartment. So we headed there and feasted on steak and wine.


<> After dinner and drinks I highly recommend heading back into Paris to the Place du Trocadero. This is probably the ultimate touristic way to spend your Saturday night. But it’s also pretty unforgettable. From the Place du Trocadero you get an epic view of the Eiffel Tower all lit up in the dark. It’s a stunning sight, especially on each hour where the lights give a little show to everyone watching. Even if you’re not there bang on the hour the visual effect of the giant tower lit up against the dark sky is still a stunning site. Plus a post dinner crepe is a pretty fab way to end the evening! If your spending a weekend in Paris then I think it’s a must do.

<> For us day two was a lot calmer. We started our day at a local cafe for breakfast and chatted away about our trip so far and plans for the rest of the day. From there we dropped our bags at a left luggage shop before heading back into the city for a final wander.

<> We visited Galleries Lafayette and exclaimed over the Christmas windows in all their intricate details. They also have a giant gold hot air balloon filled with toys inside the shop – it sounds a little odd now I type this, but actually it was quite mesmerizing with the music and the almost choreographed movement. This giant department store also has a roof terrace which once again offers stunning panoramas of the city rooftops.

<> The rest of our last morning was filled with more shopping and coffee stops. Plus we just HAD to stop at Laudree for macarons. The selection is unbelievable and the rows and rows of colours just look so pretty! Let me tell you this, eating macarons on the Eurostar back to London made me feel pretty happy.

Phew, when you write it all down, it seems like a super busy weekend in Paris. No wonder my feet were in pain on my return! I had such a lovely trip though. I really want to make sure I have more of these long weekends in European cities next year. Now I know I’ve done Salzburg already this year and that I have Hamburg planned for this weekend but hopefully 2018 can be a year of four European city breaks. Obviously I’m hoping that one of these can be an Evans girls trip. Tell me, what are your favourite European cities, where should we visit next? And have you ever spent a weekend in Paris, or do you have plans to?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #96

Morning team, and how are you all? I’m sat on the sofa tapping away before I head off to Manchester for the weekend. It’s Friend-mass weekend and I’m so excited to get celebrating and to catch up with the besties. Hooray! So that’s definitely top of the list on today’s Friday favourites post.

<>Number two on the list – also Christmas related – all the glorious decorations currently popping up in London. They’re just all so beautiful. There’s just something about the twinkly Christmas lights that fills me with joy. I need to do a proper tour of London to see them all, but heading to The Southbank this week was certainly a good place to start. So pretty.

Friday Favourites #96 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

<> In keeping with the Christmas theme that I’ve started with let’s discuss the glorious Southbank Christmas market. It’s back and the pop up drink hut is there with all its lovely seats around fires and armchairs and sofas. Basically it’s the perfect place to sit and gossip away with the besties.

<> Also this week, and making it on to the favourites list, we have more long overdue catch ups – that seems to be a standard on this list every week. But I have good people in my life so that should always be celebrated!

<> This week I devoured the brilliant Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and loved every page. It’s such a good read, and gorgeous too – look at those sparkles. I highly recommend you add it to your TBR pile and get reading. The character of Eleanor is just beautifully written and she’s so wonderful, you really do root for her from page one. And the way the secrets are revealed is just perfect. READ IT!

Friday Favourites #96 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

<> While I do love a good catch up, sometimes a night on the sofa recharging and watching random TV shows is the one. So Wednesday night’s activities of The Good Place, pasta and Lau were just what I needed. Isn’t it awesome to have good people that you can sit on the sofa with and barely talk too and no one takes it personally?

<> Talking of The Good Place have you watched it yet? We’ve just finished series one and OH MY. I did not see that twist coming. So so good. You must watch it!

<> Guys, don’t hate me, but I’ve done over half of my Christmas shopping and the wrapping and I’m so proud of myself! Granted I had no choice as I need to deliver a lot of them this weekend but still, go me! Not only is it good to be that organised, but I totally adored the choosing process. and of course the wrapping – who doesn’t love using all the festive accouterments on the presents?

So there we go, lots of happy things making it on to the favourites list. What would make it on to yours this week?

-Fi x


Life Rambles: Must Watch Documentaries

Recently I’ve been watching a lot of TV documentaries. I’m not sure why this is the case. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching more things on Netflix and therefore the documentaries are popping up on my feed. Or maybe I’m just having a moment of bad TV and therefore documentaries are my next stop. Or maybe it’s because it’s Autumn and a Sunday afternoon curled on the sofa is the best thing right now. Whatever it is I am making the most of my new obsessions and enjoying myself while I’m at it. Here are a few must watch documentaries according to me…


Amanda Knox

As the name suggests this is a documentary about Amanda Knox, who was twice convicted and then acquitted of murder in Italy. With interviews from family, friends and Knox herself this is an incredibly in-depth look at who Amanda Knox is. Part of me found this documentary to be in bad taste, especially as the murder investigation and trials are discussed. But it was also super interesting. I remember watching the trials but this documentary explains things that I didn’t understand at the time. If you’re a fan of crime or legal podcasts then this is probably going to really interest you too.


13th from Ava DuVernay takes an in-depth look into the US prison system and reveals the history of racial inequality in America. The documentary is named after the 13th amendment which outlawed slavery, but left a certain loophole. The documentary takes us through the decades and explains the social and political circumstances that have led to a disproportionate number of black men being imprisoned in the US. In all honesty this programme makes me incredibly angry and upset. How this could be allowed to happen and how is fixing it not the top priority of everyone right now? Honestly if there’s one documentary you watch from this list, then make it this one.

13th is available on Netflix right now, so get to it.

What the Health

This is another documentary that I found on Netflix, but you can also watch it online here at the website linked to the film. This one looks at meat and dairy and whether it really is good for you. The show also looks into possible ways to prevent certain chronic illnesses. Once again this is a US-centric film, so not 100% relevant to a UK audience. But still intriguing none the less. It does feel very one-sided though, so I do urge you to watch it with a little commonsense in mind. That being said it has made me think more about what I’m eating and where my food comes from. Ever since watching this I’ve tried to have more meat free days, so for my bank balance at least this was worth the watch!

Blue Planet II

This one’s a little obvious, but it still needs discussing. Isn’t Blue Planet II absolutely fascinating? I love David Attenborough’s voice and I am in awe of all of his shows, but I’m also a little bit of a wimp when it comes to them too. How you may ask? Well I hate the whole predator side of nature. How you’ll be following one animal (or fish) and then suddenly they are another animal’s prey. I hate it. In fact I hate it so much that I put off watching the shows, so that I don’t have to see it happening. Like with the seals in episode one I was back with my Dad watching that one and I couldn’t handle it! But aside from that, this new BBC show is one of the best things I’ve seen on TV all year.

So there we have it, the documentaries that I’ve been watching recently. Have I missed anything obvious? What else should be on my list. I’ve got a busy few weeks ahead of me, but it would be good to have a couple of new documentaries to watch when I have some down time. Please share. Laura xx


image credit: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Life Rambles: I Wish

I Wish - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Today’s post is bought to you from the crevices of my brain, read on for a brain dump of all the things I wish. Things that I wish didn’t exist or could happen or things that I’ve just been a pondering. It’s an eclectic list. You’ve been warned!

I wish…

M&S would double the size of their Cheese Taster packets. One portion is just not enough to satisfy that craving.

The new Game of Thrones book was in the world with us now. If feels like it’s been forever…

I’d planned my catch ups better this week and hadn’t managed to fill every evening before a weekend away. Fail.

I didn’t find it quite so hard to say no to purchasing another Christmas jumper.

I knew why toast always falls peanut butter side down.

There were more hours in the day to get through my huge TBR pile (100 books and counting…).

I could have another weekend with zero plans so I can continue to recharge. I’ve needed it this week.

UberEats didn’t exist, or was unable to deliver McDonald’s to my house…

I hadn’t waited two years to read The Lie Tree as it was an incredible book.

They hadn’t changed the story of Murder on the Orient Express, it was so unnecessary.

It was acceptable to wear slipper socks in the office. Toasty toes are the one.

I could force myself out of bed at 6am every morning to do some form of exercise, but alas no.

Southern Trains weren’t always delayed or cancelled on the rainy days. Why is that?

I wasn’t constantly surprised by the incredible creatures I see on Blue Planet, I should know more about the planet I’m on. Who knew there was a fish with feet?! INSANE.

I wasn’t such a magpie when it comes to Christmas wrapping paraphernalia.

Instagram wasn’t so addictive. I’d be far more productive if it wasn’t so easy to lose an entire hour doing nothing but scrolling and double tapping.

Tell me, what do you wish?

-Fi x


Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #95

Happy Friday everyone! How are we all this week? If I’m honest I’m a tad tired. I think my long weekend is catching up with me. I’m certainly ready for my weekend. Especially as this weekend is a completely free one -it’s going to be wonderful. I want to do a little Christmas shopping. I know it sounds early, but I’ve only got one more free weekend between now and the big day! So I know I need to get organised now in order to stop myself from becoming a panicked mess in December. The only other thing on my weekend agenda is a trip to the cinema to watch Murder on the Orient Express. I read the book a while a go so I really want to make sure I catch the film. I’m thinking a Saturday afternoon trip to my local Picturehouse and a Christmas coffee is exactly what I need. But before I plan my whole weekend let’s talk about the very point of this post. My favourite moments from the last seven days.

<> First up, obviously has to be my weekend trip to Paris. I had the most amazing time. So much walking, eating and laughing. Family trips are so good for my soul. Also I have discovered that I love Paris in Autumn – it’s utterly magical. Check out my Instagram for ALL the Paris photos!




<> On Monday I took the day off work because I have all the days to use up and it was so nice to have that extra time this week. I was also super productive which frankly is utterly surprising. I did a giant house clean which always feels so good. And of course that now means I don’t have to worry about that this weekend. Win win I say and therefore definitely a point for my favourite moments list this week.

<> It’s only FIVE weeks until Christmas! How did this happen? But also H O O R A Y! I’m doing my best to embrace all the things. In fact this week I forgot my homemade coffee which really irritated me. So of course I had to treat myself to a coffee in a Christmas cup on my way to work.




<> Also here are a couple of blog posts that have caught my eye this week, so I thought I’d share them here. Number One > this post on Five Ways to Read Your Favourite Blogs from Jasmin is really interesting. I’ve already started to switch from Bloglovin to Feedly and I much prefer it. Number Two > this post from Beckie about everyday sexism and the revelations that are coming to light.

<> On Thursday I had an excellent work breakfast at Dishoom. Now you all know by now how much I love Dishoom and their bacon and egg naan rolls. Anyway I was super happy when my colleague and desk buddy decided that a breakfast celebration was required for her last week in the office. I’m going to miss this lady so much, but every cloud has a silver lining and my bacon and egg naan was definitely the silver lining of that particular cloud.

<> I’ve been organising my Christmas playlist this week, I find it such a magical task. If anyone has any ‘must add’ songs or carols for the festive period then please send them my way.

<> Along the Christmas theme I’ve also started munching on clementines. I love that these fruits are now in season. This past week I’ve taken a couple of these to work each day for an afternoon snack and, even if I do say so myself, it’s probably my best idea ever!

What have been your favourite moments of the week? Have a lovely weekend everyone. Laura xx

Out and About: Favourite Walking Routes

A while back I was chatting with my Dad about how lucky we are that in the UK we have so much beautiful countryside for us to get out in and explore. A good long countryside walk is one of my favourite things to do. Especially in Autumn when it feels like the perfect way to balance out the cosy evenings curled up with a good book. Also there’s something about revising favourite walking routes with favourite people, old and new, that clears my head and makes me smile.

My love for a countryside walk probably stems from my childhood when we’d spend weekend afternoons walking with our parents through our local woodlands. We would race through the woods, stamp in muddy puddles and pause for a sit at our favourite trees. Now that we have a dog in the family this happens more and more. Whenever we are back home we will all join in on the daily dog walk, or we’ll plan a meet up at a midway point and discover a new walking route together. 

So after a conversation about the joys of walking in the woods and reminiscing about the walks of our childhood today I wanted to share some of my favourite walking routes around Surrey and London. 




The Drift Woodlands

The Drift is probably at the top of my favourite walking routes list. It’s so ingrained with my childhood because it is literally across the road from my parents’ house. Now this is super scary when you are walking home from the train station in the dark with this to your right, a road to your left and no street lights. But in the light of day it’s an absolute marvel.

Full of wildlife and with plenty of paths to explore I’m still discovering new sections. It’s teaming with wildlife from deers to pheasants, squirrels to all of the birds, plus it’s next to fields that house cows and horses. This is my go-to walk when I’m in charge of my parent’s dog. In fact on my most recent weekend of dog sitting three quarters of the dog walks happened over the road at The Drift. We’ve spent many a family walk traipsing through and exploring these woodlands, picking blackberries and then pausing for a sit down at our favourite fallen tree. If you’re ever in Surrey then you should definitely check it out.

Chobham Common

Chobham common has everything you want from a favourite walking route. There’s open grass areas, sandy paths, wooded areas and even a marshy section to really give your wellies a work out. We tend to take the same route around the common and back along the golf course, but there are plenty of trails signposted if you fancy shorter (or longer) routes. Also there are cows grazing on the heathland too, so watch out for those with your dog, but also make sure to take a snap! If you do go for a walk here then I can highly recommend rounding off your walk with a delicious meal at The Sun Inn.

Ockham and Wisley Common

This is another walking venue that is close to where I grew up, although I don’t think I ever walked there until we had a dog. There’s so much space to explore here, plus a little slice of history with Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower on the common too. This is one of a group of semaphore towers that were used to send messages between Portsmouth and London. Apparently it’s open to the public at certain times in the year – I’ve never actually been inside it as I pick the wrong time to go. But if that’s your thing then do check the information and time it right so that you can pop inside. 




Morden Hall Park

So Fi talked about Morden Hall Park a while back. Since then we’ve been on a very autumnal dog walk with 4/5 of the Evans family, plus the dog. It’s owned by the National Trust, but it’s free to walk around the grounds. Plus there’s an excellent cafe along with a garden centre and petshop too. On our latest visit we explored the wetlands area and stamped our way through the fallen leaves. Mum was also quite taken with the rose garden, so I think we’ll be back to explore that in the spring. We ended our trip with lunch at the cafe and a visit to the garden centre.

The Sheepleas

The final favourite walking route on the list is once again near where I grew up. I guess weekend walks were such a big part of my childhood that nowhere else can compare. Oh well, I’m embracing it! Now let’s get back to the Sheepleas. There are numerous pathways across the Sheepleas, which link the woodlands, grassy meadows and picnic areas with each other and offer a treasure trove of walks to explore. If I’m walking Luna and we’re not going to the Drift then it will most likely be on the Sheepleas instead. She loves it, there’s so much to explore and never a shortage of other dogs to play with!

So there they are, my favourite walking routes in the UK. What about you lovely lot. Do you have any favourite walks. What other areas should I explore and make the most of.

Laura xxx

The Book Corner: October Reads

October Reads - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

Greetings team and firstly an apology, I’ve kept you waiting almost two weeks for my October reads post! Eek how remiss of me. I’m sorry. I blame the new job craziness for that. But hopefully you’ll forgive me and dive straight in to today’s post, it’s a good ‘un after all. It’s my October reads update. Hooray – who doesn’t like talking books?!

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

I love Georgette Heyer’s novels and I think she’s incredibly underrated. Her books are the perfect mix of funny and heart-warming, with a little bit of the ridiculous thrown in. They’re basically like a warm hug. Maybe that’s why I see them as very autumnal reading, despite the cover look. Anyway I’ve not really read enough of her books so when Autumn began to show its colours I dove in to The Convenient Marriage. It’s a ridiculous story, full of silly characters and you can see what’s coming a mile off. But it’s still a really good read and I found myself snort-laughing a couple of times so I’d highly recommend you read it if you haven’t!

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Jennifer Niven’s books but this is the first that I’ve read and it didn’t disappoint. I liked that Niven’s character’s seemed fully formed and flawed – they weren’t perfect teens using adult language. They were simply real teens, dealing with real issues in the way that I’d expect them too. The main character of Holding up the Universe, Libby, is such a brilliant character and I found her so inspiring. I wish I’d read about her as a teen myself – I could have done with some of her wise words.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

So yes, this is the first time I’ve read this classic. For some reason it never appealed before now and the two other times I’ve tried to read it I just couldn’t get into it so I gave up. But this time when I picked it up I was in love straightaway. Something about the writing just clicked this time – maybe because I had time to ponder and enjoy it. Whatever the reason I loved To Kill A Mockingbird and I can totally see why people adore this book. It’s so beautifully written and the characters are so interesting. It’s worrying that the themes of this book still resonate so much now, but perhaps that’s why people love the book so much.

October Reads - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero

This kids book is so gorgeous, the cover doesn’t quite do justice to the beautiful insides. It tells the tale of a doll that finds herself transported to 1930s Poland to life with a lonely dollmaker. There they befriend a young Jewish girl and her father just as the second world war breaks out. The Dollmaker of Krakow is a beautiful mix of magic and hope, horror and love and I raced through it. It’s simply beautiful.

Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling

This tale of witches and magic all set in Elizabethan London is such a good read. The world Bowling has imagined in Witchborn is so interesting, taking the view that Mary and Elizabeth were both witches – one good and one evil – and that the court was all involved in it too. The story sees two children traversing across a familiar London meeting all sorts of interesting people as they try to save one mother at the same time as learning about the secrets the other mother was keeping. I was left guessing about the big reveal right until the end. It really was an excellent read.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale is perhaps my book of the year! It’s set in the wilds of Russia and so was perfect for reading as autumn arrived – the snowy wilderness seemed suitable for an October read. The book tells the tale of a young girl who sees spirits that no one else can see. Over the years these spirits have protected the village thanks to the villagers’ superstitions. However when a new priest arrives spewing a philosophy of fear of spirits and things that are different the spirits start to neglect their duty and the village is in danger of an evil lurking just beyond the village. Vasilisa is the only one who still believes in the spirits’ power and she’s left to single-handedly save the village.

This book is hauntingly beautiful and the writing is so lyrical. Once you’ve started it you won’t be able to put it down. The world that Katherine Arden has created is so brilliantly imagined – I genuinely felt like I was in the Russia forests – and it feel so real.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie is an incredible book and is so relevant to what’s happening in the world right now. It’s an empowering read and should be essential reading for teenagers across the country – I certainly could have done with it while at school. It’s about a girl who starts a feminist movement at her school without meaning too. She starts a zine in response to how the teachers are treating the girls – penalising them for distracting the teachers and boys by what they’re wearing – and making the football team out to be godlike, despite their hideous way of treating girls. Little does she realises others are feeling the same way and she starts a movement that inspires others and changes her world. Genuinely everyone should read this book.

Everless by Sarah Holland

Everless is the last of my October reads and is book one in a brilliant new YA series about a world where time is in people’s blood and the rich can buy blood and time in order to life longer. The poor must sell there blood in order to survive, although of course not for long as they’re shortening their life each time they sell their blood or time for money.

This is such an intriguing concept and it’s brilliantly written. Our main character, Jules, is clearly morally good, despite the secrets hinted at in her past. She ends up working at Everless, the estate of the cruel, ruling family and while there, trying to save her family, she uncovers more about her mysterious past. There is, of course as per all brilliant YA, a mini love triangle, but that’s not the key part of the story. In fact it’s almost incidental. Basically this is a brilliant series that you’ll want to get stuck into asap when it’s out in the new year. Although be warned it’ll keep you guessing right until the end!

So there we go, my October reads are finally up on the blog! Have you read any of these books? If so which were your favourites?

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #94

Hi team! I hope you’re well and have had a good week. Mine has been lovely, although it’s flown by. That’s not necessarily a bad thing mind you – I’ve got awesome weekend plans after all! More about those later, first up on my Friday favourites list we have…

The new Thor film, Thor Ragnarok, which we went to watch on Friday night. Spoiler: it’s sooooo good! It’s flipping hilarious. You get introduced to loads of new characters, it’s packed full of brilliant action and epic fight scenes and an incredibly bad ass new villain in the shape of Cate Blanchett’s Hela. Basically I loved it all! But the real highlight? It has to be the relationship between Thor and Hulk. Just perfect.

Friday Favourites #94 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Guys the Starbucks Christmas cups are here and I love them. I think I even prefer them to the usual #redcups. I know! Insanity. Who even I am?

Is there anything better than long overdue catch ups with friends? I think not. I’ve been lucky enough to have two this week. While they were fun I will definitely try to make them less overdue in the future. I need to catch up with my people more often, most definitely.

So don’t hate me but, I’ve started my Christmas shopping. I know, I know it’s still fifty days to Christmas. But I’m trying to spread the cost and to be honest it just brings me such joy. There’s something that’s so lovely about choosing gifts for others isn’t there? Here’s hoping they like my choices come December 25th!

Friday Favourites #94 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Talking of Christmas I spent Sunday wandering around London popping in to all the Christmas departments getting all festive. It was the best plan I’ve ever had. I was shocked by the prices in Selfridges, blown away by the bauble wall in John Lewis and in love with everything in Liberty. Isn’t Christmas just the best?

Next on the Friday favourites list this week we have the wonder of a morning swim. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as starting the day in the pool. I just wish I could do it every day. But alas I’d be grumpy if I got up at 6am every morning, not to mention at £4 a pop it’s not something that my purse would appreciate on a daily basis!

This week I finally went to the Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library guys and it’s incredible. You MUST go. It’s full of pages from J. K. Rowling’s edited manuscripts, ancient scrolls and original potion books plus gorgeous illustrations by Jim Kay from the illustrated editions. It’s a Potterhead’s dream!

Friday Favourites #94 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

On Wednesday I went to the National Theatre to watch Network and I was blown away by it. The staging, story and acting were all outstanding. And while the whole cast were brilliant, the two main stars, Brian Cranston and Michelle Doherty, definitely deserve special mention. They were incredible.

And finally this evening we’re off to Paris for the weekend and I’m just so excited! I’m going with mum and my sisters and we’re planning all the eating and gossiping, with a little sightseeing thrown in. It’s going to be such fun! I’ve visited a few times before so it’s not a case of having to pack everything in, which is nice. Definitely less stressed than previous trips!

So there we have it, this week’s Friday favourites list. What’s made your list this week?

-Fi x