Month: April 2013

Book Q&A.

I spotted this questionnaire on Emily’s fantastic blog a couple of days ago (go check the post out, she’s doing a great UK book giveaway!) and I just had to write my own. It’s made up of 35 questions about books, reading and everything to do with it. If you love reading and you get curious about other people’s reading then this is definitely for you. I hope you enjoy reading it!

1. Favourite childhood book? I have so many childhood books which I adored when I was younger, The Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Black Beauty… But my real favourite, because of its lovely stories and the simply beautiful illustrations, is Brambly Hedge. I hope you all got a chance to be enchanted by this book like I did.

2. What are you reading right now? I’ve just started reading a new book, The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. It’s a book which has been on my to-read list for a very long time!

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None. I feel bad because I think public libraries are really important but I almost never go. I adore buying books, mostly second-hand, and I dream of collecting enough books to one day have my own library room in my home.

4. Bad book habit? I’m not really sure what constitutes a bad book habit but something that annoys me is reading more than one book at once.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? Again, none. I should really use the uni library…

6. Do you have an e-reader? Yes, I love my kindle for travelling. I used to take about 10 books for two weeks away and now I only need my kindle, it’s also great for reading really long books which are a pain to read in bed.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? I much prefer just reading one book at a time, uni makes that impossible though!

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? Not massively, I have found that I have to divide my reading time even more carefully now between reading some fantastic blogs, reading for uni and reading for pleasure.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?) Adam Bede by George Eliot, it’s just so wordy and moral.

10. Favourite book you’ve read this year? Without a doubt The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I think I just fell in love with it.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Well as I study literature at uni I often have to read outside of my comfort zone.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? There have been several genres of literature I struggled with at uni, for instance political pieces from the Renaissance or Modernist poetry, the former I’m not so keen on, the latter fascinates me.

13. Can you read on the bus? Yes, the only place I really can’t read is in the car, otherwise I’ll pretty much always be able to read!

14. Favourite place to read? Either curled up in bed, in a coffee shop, or lying in the grass outside somewhere beautiful and full of nature.

15. What is your policy on book lending? I’ve always been fine with lending books, I’m good at keeping track of what’s mine 😛 And I like to write my name inside the cover of my books. In my opinion sharing books is a wonderful thing

16. Do you ever dog-ear books? Not often because I like having bookmarks but I’m not precious about books the way some people are. Personally I care more about the stories within the pages than the pages themselves…

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? When a quotation captures my imagination or inspires me. Shock horror to some people. But I’ve studied the history of the book and in the Renaissance people heavily annotated their books and it’s brilliant to look at really old books and see a little note or illustration written by a scholar from the 16th Century.

18. Not even with text books? Especially in textbooks haha!

19. What is your favourite language to read in? English because I’m the most fluent in it, but I would love to read more in French which is my maternal language.

20. What makes you love a book? There is no set pattern, it could be anything… The beauty of the words, the main character, the narrator, the inspirational story…

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? Just if I couldn’t put it down. If I read it cover to cover almost without stopping then I will recommend it to anyone who will listen.

22. Favourite genre? Either Victorian, Modernist, or contemporary fiction.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?) I’m not sure there is one. I read all of the genres I enjoy!

24. Favourite biography? Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris. Woolf’s life really captivates me and its very well written.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? I’ve read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I thoroughly enjoyed it, she made me think about how I can control my own success and contentment in life.

26. Favourite cookbook? How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson and River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? Artful by Ali Smith. It just made me want to learn to write the way she does, and to have read enough books to be able to know each and every one of the references she makes. (Not that you can ever really read enough.)

28. Favourite reading snack? Although I love to eat almost as much as I love to read, I rarely snack whilst reading.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. Beowulf: I hated it.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? Quite often but definitely not always.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?  Not too bad as I feel when you publish something you open yourself up to criticism but at the same time I could never rip something apart which has clearly been worked on by someone.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? Italian, so that I could read the very first sonnets in their original language.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Milton’s Paradise Lost. It’s quite a daunting task to take on.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? Dante’s The Divine Comedy which I’ve read passages of but am way too intimidated to attempt reading the whole thing. I do own a copy though…

35. Favourite poet? This may not be an exciting answer to some but although I like my fiction to be post 1830, I like my poetry much older. Shakespeare’s Sonnets are unrivaled in my affection. My absolute favourite of the collection is Sonnet 116, I can recite it from heart and it just stuns me every time.


Well done if you’ve made it all the way through this questionnaire, if you have then you probably love books as much as I do!

Do answer any of the questions in a comment, I’d love to learn about your favourites and your own reading experiences 🙂

Sophie x


Life Lately #4.

Well my first week back at uni has definitely been crazy busy. I have an unbelievable amount of work to do with two 3000 word essays to write and a whole lot of revision to do, plus obviously I wanted to catch up with all of my lovely friends. Being students this of course means a night out on the town dancing the night away! So yeah, as you can imagine I am pretty tired. However, the week isn’t over yet by far. Tomorrow I’m off to London to have afternoon tea in a hotel with Tom, his mother, and his younger sister for her 18th birthday. Unsurprisingly, I’m super excited. I’ve only ever had proper afternoon tea once, at Betty’s (amazing – people in the UK you should all go!), and it’s definitely my cup of tea haha…

Exams are coming soon so stress levels will be mounting, hopefully my blog won’t fall completely by the wayside. In the mean time, I thought I would make up a little Instagram filled post with my life recently in photos. Enjoy!


My favourite spring flowers | Intellectual breakfast 😉 | Tuna Parcel


Calamari | Delicious goujons, chips, and tartar | Alice’s quadruple layer caramel chocolate cake!


Lasagna – so good | These smell amazing | More calamari…


Time to get my hair done | It’s a good look for me huh? | Highlights!


My beautiful anniversary present from Tom | Anniversary brunch at Bill’s | Fabulous hot chocolate


Easter | Family breakfast | Nigella’s Easter Egg Nest Cake


Blue | Buttery hot cross buns | Fish is fast becoming my favourite thing to eat 🙂


Watercolour with the children | More daffs | Name badges (the best part of my job!)


Lunch with Baiba | Beautiful hot chocolate art | Poppycat ❤


An amazing cupcake from the market! | St. John’s, Cambridge | Spring florals


Getting excited about Barcelona this summer | Ready, set, go | Classy photo in the club bathroom!

Highlights of the past few weeks definitely included my birthday, my anniversary with Tom, getting my hair dyed for the first time, Easter, and a great talk on Jane Austen. It’s been a good few weeks, if you ignore the week I spent in bed anyway! As you can see from the last breakfast photo, this summer my family and I are off to Barcelona for a week and I already can’t wait. I’ve been to the city once before and adored the experience so we’ve been planning all of the fantastic things we want to do whilst there. My second year at university is almost over (which is terrifying) but it has been an amazing year. I’ve made some really wonderful friends and I’m having the time of my life. Who says being ill has to dominate and ruin your life!

I hope you’ve all been having a great week, I’m sure you’re all as glad as I am that it’s the weekend 🙂

Do you have any fun plans?
Any trips planned this summer? 
What’s your favourite thing to do on a night out?

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

Sophie x




I’ve been stuck with my reading lately. I’ve just started an essay on amatory verse (in simple terms: love poetry) and as such I’ve had very little time to read actual books in between my research and poetry reading! Studying literature at uni can have its major downsides and having little to no time to read outside of the course is definitely one of them! So I’ve only just managed to finish This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You by Jon McGregor despite starting it several weeks ago(!) but I really enjoyed it. I will be reviewing it in the next few weeks so watch out for that. I’m now starting George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession which we’re studying next week in my Victorian module.

Listening to… 

As I have been so poorly lately, I’ve needed something to help lift my spirits. There’s only really one song that can do it for me: Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way. It’s just so happy and uplifting, plus there’s the nostalgia – it just takes me back to watching Matilda as a child! I’ve also been really enjoying Daughter’s EP His Young Heart which is just beautiful.


In my illness I’ve ended up watching quite a lot of TV and films, I have to admit Mamma Mia was definitely watched (I adore that film), as were Sense and Sensibility, Runaway Bride, and When Harry Met Sally… I’ve also caught up with Paul Hollywood’s Breads which always makes me want to go down to the kitchen and get kneading. If you have any fun, lighthearted films to recommend then I’m all ears.


I had the most beautiful cupcake earlier today (I instagramed it – @loveliveandlearn)  that my mother kindly brought me back from the farmers’ market this morning. It was just so lovely to look at that I almost didn’t want to eat it… It was really tasty too so obviously I did end up eating it! Today the weather was actually springlike for the first time so after a brilliant talk on Jane Austen in St John’s College in Cambridge, my lovely friend Sophie and I decided to have a picnic nearby in the sunshine so I ate an avocado sandwich and a strawberry and vanilla smoothie – delicious.

Wishing for…

The summer! Having a taste of warmer weather has made me seriously pine for the sunshine and the months of long days with time off and holidays away. This summer my family is off to Barcelona for a week and I am so so excited, I’ve been once before and fell in love with the vibrancy of the city along with its stunning architecture and delicious seafood.

What are your currently-s?

Sophie x

It’s the Little Things.

So I had a couple of posts lined up but… I got sick. I’m actually pretty poorly, it’s just a bad cold but when I get ill it affects me more and the illness in turn exacerbates my fibro so I end up just feeling generally rubbish. But you know me, instead of going to bed and staying there, I was determined to go see Tom in London this weekend and then I met a couple of friends in town this week so yeah… It just meant that I did not feel at all up to posting. I’m not feeling even 60% yet but I wanted to write.

Seeing as I’m feeling so rotten, the only thing it makes sense to write about is things that make me feel just a little bit better!


I know Easter is now over but I can’t help but miss the hot cross buns…


Breakfast in bed. Need I say more?


Reading by the window.


Blankets, hot water bottles, and cuddles with my cat.


Hot chocolates.

It really is the little things in life which make all of the difference. My days can sometimes seem a little blue when things are tough with my health but there are always little things which make a bit of difference and lift the spirits. It’s all about the positivity people, it can make a whole world of difference. As one of my closest friends tweeted this morning – ‘The best way for a person to have happy thoughts is to count their blessings, and not their cash’. Count your blessings, even the tiniest positive occurrences can make you a lot happier.

I hope you’re all really well and that you’re having a good week!

Sophie x

Working Your Little Socks Off.

Sorry for the slightly corny title, I just thought it aptly describes my life this week. I am working myself to the bone, and I’m working with people who probably wear very little socks! This week I am working at the holiday art club I usually work at during the summer and it has definitely been a different experience – it is just SO cold in the UK right now. Today I wore a cami, a long-sleeved top, two jumpers, and then a coat and scarf to go outside to play and I was still cold! It even tried to snow earlier…

I love my job; I love being surrounded by excited children, learning new skills, creating beautiful things, making new friends and just having fun. It’s a brilliant experience and whilst it is physically exhausting for me, it’s so rewarding.


Today’s task was to make cardboard Eiffel Towers and then paint them in the style of the background of Robert Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower paintings. This resulted in pieces of cardboard littered across the tables and floor, all different sizes Eiffel Towers (and a few which looked more like rockets) and 35 paint covered children. It’s heaps of fun but it does end up with us having a lot of cleaning up to do!

One of my favourite aspects of work is all of the games we play with them, here are a sample of their names just for your amusement: Buzzy Bee, Charlie’s Toy Box, Splat, Lizard Murder (like wink murder but with tongues because many of them can’t wink!), Zip Zap Doo, Chinese Whispers, ‘The Key Game’, and many, many more…

(I did not make any of these up, these are actual games!)

My other favourite part is making name badges, because sometimes I’m just a big kid at heart. You know you are too 😉

Sophie x


Most Loved – March.

One of my guilty (well, I don’t actually feel that guilty!) pleasures is Youtube, specifically beauty Youtube channels; like those of Tanya Burr, ZoellaEssiebutton, and  FleurDeForce to name just a few. They’re my indulgence at the end of  a long day, and they feed my beauty addiction. One of the videos I love watching the most are monthly favourites, videos in which each vlogger lists the products and non-beauty items that they have been loving for the month. To some this might seem a little materialistic but personally I love having people’s recommendation for things to buy, it’s fun to discover products you’ve never heard of. It’s my equivalent to trashy chick flicks!


So I thought it would be fun to start writing my own monthly favourites post. I will include beauty products that I am addicted to each month, but I will also tell you about books that I am reading, food that I’m loving, and any other items that I adore at the time. I hope that you enjoy indulging in some idol curiosity at the things that I like, and perhaps even feel tempted to try some of them out yourselves!

Firstly my brand new NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna, and I think I may have fallen in love with it. Many of you will know that I am constantly on a search for products to help create the illusion that I have slept well and am full of energy, in other words to help hide the fatigue. Well NARS Laguna definitely adds a gorgeous bronze glow to my pale, pale cheeks. The colour would suit people with fair to olive skin, and they also do a much darker colour called Casino which would work well on people with darker skin tones. Laguna is just the right sort of brown – not too orangey and it doesn’t make your face look dirty like some bronzers.

Another detail about me that you may know from Instagram is that I am obsessed with painting my nails. I am pretty much never seen without nail polish on my fingers! As it is now officially Springtime (not that you’d know it from our British weather at the moment) I am a fan of the pastel coloured polishes, and this pretty lavender colour is the Models Own Fruit Pastel Nail Polish in Grape Juice. It’s perfect for this time of year and I really like that it is quite pale in shade. It is scented which is a little odd to me but certainly not unpleasant. I also love this hair styling product, the Bumble and bumble Defrizz. It basically does what it says on the tin, it protects your hair against frizz, and also leaves your hair feeling really soft. It’s super easy to use too, just squeeze out a few drops onto your palm and then work it through damp hair with your fingers.

Two of the things that I’ve been loving this month are for the evening, to help me ease myself to sleep. Along with using beauty products to make me look more awake, I’m always looking for something to help me get a better night’s sleep as I struggle to drift off  but I need at least 8+ hours!  The first thing is my new scented candle. As with nail polish, I’m also a little obsessed with scented candles and I always have one on the go. This one is the Oliver Bonas Indian Pomelo Candle which has a gorgeous citrus scent. I’ve also been using a little pot of thisworks Sleep Balm which my sister bought me and dabbing it on my temples before bed.

My favourite book this month is Jon McGregor’s book This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. It’s wonderfully written and really captivating collection in miniature stories set in a fenland landscape, and it is perfect to read a couple of chapters before bed.

Finally, by far my favourite thing this month: my fifth anniversary present from my amazing boyfriend Tom. He gifted me with this absolutely beautiful Alex Monroe pendant necklace and I almost cried when I saw the box. Monroe is my favourite jewellery designer and this delicate little gold four-leaf clover is just divine. I’m in love!

So there you have my most loved items this month, I really hope you found this post interesting. Let me know if you like this kind of post and also if you’ve tried any of these things or are going to get one after reading this 🙂

Sophie x