I’m actually having a pretty good day today. I’ve had a nice string of them recently. However, on good days I often think about bad days. Not in a way that makes me sad. But in a way that makes me smile. Any bad day you have will eventually lead to a good day. I like to be thankful that I’m experiencing a good day. And whilst I know I’ll have more bad days in the future, I try to push that from my thoughts and just live in the present. Don’t question it. Good days also make me respect the bad days. Because sometimes they are needed. Sometimes we need to completely reset and the only way that happens is by having a truly rubbish day. So I want to focus on that day. Because I think on those days just being by yourself and having a good cry can be really healthy. You should never suppress tears. You also don’t need a reason for crying. People will tell you the opposite but they are wrong. If your body and mind are telling you that you need to cry then do it. If you are able to release something, whatever it is (maybe a bit of stress, some anger from something that’s happened that day, or maybe you just feel like you’re drowning a little less today), then you’re that little step closer to having a good day. And a good day doesn’t have to be the goal, working through the bad days step by step is impressive enough. But having that little inkling of future adventure or warmth or contentment might just push you forward. So to help you on those bad days I’ve compiled a playlist of 100 songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To. Because we all know there’s no better combination of sadness and slow, atmospheric, acoustic music. So close your door, ignore your notifications, lie down and just breathe. Maybe you need to get up and dance when the moment takes you. Maybe you need to thrash your head to get the energy out. Maybe you fall asleep as you listen and feel refreshed when you wake. Whatever it is, these songs are here to help you. I hope you find some new favourites. Personally, the only two songs I might possibly ever need to live are I Shall Cross The River – The Black Atlantic and Human – Of Monsters And Men. They allow me to breathe. I’m sure you have some of your own. I hope this playlist does something for you. Moves something in you. And then who knows, maybe tomorrow will be better.
Can you believe we’re already well into September? The concept of time creeps me out. How can minutes and whole months tick away almost without notice? Spooky. Anyway, September is where we are so it’s time to see where I’m up to with my reading and reassess my reading goals for the end of the year. This book tag was created a couple of years ago on Youtube by Ariel Bissett. I thought I’d translate it to my blog cos like fuck I’m making a video.
Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
YES. About a hundred. I’m a famous ‘pick a book up, read two chapters, LOVE IT, then completely ignore it for the rest of my life’ type of reader. But to pinpoint a couple? The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin is one I purchased a couple of months ago and have heard nothing but good things about. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and think it’ll be a great wintery read. Pride by Tim Tate is one I’ve started last week (but famously already put down). I adore the movie Pride and think everyone should watch it. It restores your faith in humanity, recharges your activism and makes you bubble with solidarity. This book is sure to give the exact same feelings. It is set up as a book-long interview with many of the real people from the movie’s story. Lastly, Milkman by Anna Burns. Wow, has this book been hanging over me. I just haven’t been able to get into the reading style yet. But I can’t imagine it won tons of awards for no reason. So I just need to try again.
Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?
What else could be said for this question other than Harry Potter? I mean, come on. But in all seriousness, I am wanting to get to Chamber of Secrets this month since reading Philosopher’s Stone in July. I’m working my way through the beautiful illustrated editions in preparation for the fourth book getting released next month!
Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?
I’m actually not usually one for new releases. As in, I don’t really research new books for the sole reason that I despise hardbacks. So I find it pointless getting hyped for a book that I’m not gonna be able to buy for eight months or so. I find books on the grapevine just as they’re coming out in paperback! That being said, the series I’m listening to on Audible right now (Keeper of the Lost Cities) is bringing out its eighth book this year! That’s Legacy by Shannon Messenger. I’ve been listening to one a month so will get to that one right on time. Another book I’m excited for is The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which is actually out today! I never dreamed this book would have a sequel so I’m pumped for that (in eight months).
What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, because I’m insane but have just been staring at this book on my unread shelf for years now. A book shouldn’t intimidate you. Right? More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin because, although these books remind a lot of summer, I just cannot wait any longer to see what happens with all these characters! Just Kids by Patti Smith has been sat half-read on my shelf for too long now. Also, there’s just something about New York in the autumn.
Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?
I waited for this book alllllll year (see my earlier comment about hardbacks). All I’ve heard is amazing things about this novel so I just had to read it. Now I finally have it I’m almost too scared to read it because I’ve built it up so much in my head. I’m really excited to read it though! The book is Motherhood by Sheila Heti.
Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?
I have. Have you met me? I’m an obsessive planner. My project is called Sarah to Zero. That’s all you’re getting for now. I’ll give you more details in January!
Called Out In The Dark (Reworked) – Snow Patrol
I’m coming at you today with four new eatery’s that are a must-visit on your next trip to Liverpool! We’ve got a mixture today: one place is fully vegan, the others have some damn good vegan options. I hope you like delicious food, otherwise you’ll hate this post!
I don’t think I can fully articulate to you just quite how amazing this food is. The salt and pepper tofu is known to change lives. Fair warning. This restaurant is situated right next to the largest Chinese arch outside of China. Makes sense that they serve Chinese food then! They’re actually a Pan-Asian dim sum (think tapas) place that also boasts award winning cocktails. The vibe inside is very chill with some nice private booths. I like it because you could go in jeans or dress up fancy and you’ll always fit in. The tofu and aubergine is a must, as is the tempura. Couple it with an espresso martini and your taste buds will be thanking you for days. Also, I was actually facetiming in the bathroom here when my sister told us she was engaged! So I’ll always love this place.
This has become a new obsession of mine. I’m just thankful that it’s nowhere near my office otherwise I’d be buying this every day. I’d seen a couple of Monami Frost’s Youtube videos a few years ago but when this venue was announced I had absolutely no idea it was the same Frost. Turns out it is, she lives in Liverpool, who bloody knew. Anyway, the clue is in the name really, they do burgers. But they also do the most incredible skin-on fries, they have donuts and milkshakes and their famous soft-serve vegan ice cream too. Don’t kill me but I haven’t tried that yet! The burger is just so filling! I can definitely stand behind the garlic mayo chicken burger, that thing is unreal. Their dips are amazing and, to me, the mayos may be even better than Down the Hatch’s! If that wasn’t enough, you can also crush your own can before you recycle it.
Also situated in Chinatown is this amazing restaurant. (We’re Liverpool, we have the oldest Chinese community in Europe, you better believe we’re all obsessed with Chinese food.) Now let me paint a picture for you. You’ve been out since 6pm, a couple of drinks with friends turns into a messy night out, because when does it not? You get to 3am and you’re just gasping for some food, you skipped tea (remember the spiralling drinking?) but you really can’t face another kebab (or vegans, another side of plain chips). What you’re actually craving is a delicious Chinese meal. You know, like a sit down, classy affair? Well, look no fucking further. The Mayflower opens in the evening and serves at their restaurant until 4am. You did not read that wrong. This place will change your life. For all you naysayers, I’ve eaten here sober before and it was equally as incredible. You can’t go wrong with the tofu with straw mushrooms and the salt and pepper tofu (I’m obsessed, can you not tell?).
I have a lot of time for a big food chain who takes time to make a boss vegan menu. People might be surprised to know that even two/three years ago, vegan options were almost non-existent in mainstream restaurants. All veggie options were heavily cheese-based. So the chains who got out there early (Zizzi, Pizza Express etc.) I actually am happy to give my money to. Wagamamas is definitely one of these. I love having them everywhere in the country for those evenings when you’re starving and just can’t be bothered to work out where will actually have decent options. I can’t lie, every time I go into one I swear I’ll try something new, but every single time, without fail, I’ll order the vegatsu. What can I say? That’s some damn tasty seitan! Even the side salad it comes with is unreal, that’s the level we’re at here. I’ve had the yakisoba before though (back in those pre-vegatsu days) and it was great. Recently they’ve added a dish to their menu that includes a vegan egg. Like come on. Just go!
And that’s it! If you’re mouth isn’t watering then you must be a robot. I’d love to hear your veggie/vegan recommendations – whether they’re in Liverpool or elsewhere!
Confusion – The Zutons
It turns out I haven’t done a single tattoo origins post this year. So it goes.
Today’s origin story is a little quick one because the meaning behind it is important but not complicated.
This tattoo, of all my seven, is unique in the sense that it is the only one without words.
Years ago now, I was looking at people’s tattoos online. Does anyone else do this? I find it has the ability to black hole me, not dissimilar to how YouTube or Instagram can. But anyway, I saw a couple of times these little triangular glyphs and thought they were cute. I wondered if they meant anything or were just geometric artwork. Then I stumbled across a table that had all these glyphs written out with their meanings. They’re things like connect, express and challenge. I liked them. They’re so simple yet would have a private meaning to myself. I’m pretty into coded tattoos, don’t know if you’ve noticed!
I decided I needed them. I looked at all the glyphs but three words instantly stuck out to me and I knew exactly the order I’d get.
So why these words?
Create: I love to write but I often forget this fact. This triangle reminds me to always keep finding words. In my journal, for my blog, or maybe one day for something bigger. Enjoy the magic of building and curating something that’s mine. And do it to move people. In some way.
Explore: Because I love to travel. Who doesn’t? Whenever I feel in a rut or just a little unfulfilled, this triangle reminds me that’s okay. I just need to alter my mindset. And maybe my location. Whenever I go to a new city I search for an Irish pub, a bookshop and a vegan place. It makes each city my own. When I go to the countryside, or the mountains, or the ocean, I take a minute to close my eyes and breathe. To remember I’m alive.
Learn: We are never done learning. And I think people are naïve to say the opposite. Why would you ever want to stop discovering new information? I find the world utterly fascinating. I want to know it’s secrets. But you won’t learn them until you ask. So this triangle reminds me to read, to listen, to build, to try, to have humility. To have patience. And to have persistence. It also reminds me to be empathetic. To be an ally. And to love above all else.
And there you have it.
Wild Roses – Of Monsters And Men
Guys, I did it! I read my nine books for the NEWTs readathon! I’m now a qualified Curse Breaker if someone wants to hire me! Haha, in all seriousness though, I surprised myself there. I can be quite the procrastinator and nineteen days into the month I had only read one book. But I think I’m just so stubborn when it comes to finishing a book challenge (and I really can’t do anything in life without an imminent deadline that I’ll almost certainly miss) that with ten days left of the readathon I just read like hell and did it! And some great books I read too:
The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan
A YA contemporary that I couldn’t stop reading. On my latest trip to Gay’s the Word in London, I saw this book in three separate sections of the shop! How could I say no? My interest was fully piqued. Moved into action by the deaths of numerous openly gay people in Bangladesh, Khan has fictionalised an American Bangladeshi coming out story. It’s heartbreaking and well as heartwarming. Learning about cultures different from your own is always fascinating and I loved how the simple parts of a culture were also present: food and clothes etc. Whilst I thought the end was a breakneck change from the start, I still enjoyed the journey.
The Easter Rising: A Guide To Dublin In 1916 – Conor Kostick, Lorcan Collins
A book that I stole from my dad and has been on my shelf for years! It’s no secret that I love Ireland. If you didn’t know that about me then, hi my name’s Sarah and I most definitely prefer my Irish heritage to my British. I traveled to Dublin in 2016 on one of our many trips to the capital city. This one was pretty special though. We went at Easter, an April that marked 100 years since the Easter Rising. The rebel’s goal? To demand an Irish Republic separate from the British, in simple terms: freedom. This book takes you on a tour of Dublin through all the significant buildings and landmarks of the Rising. It also introduces you to all the keep players. Very informative and has lovely little human anecdotes to compliment the facts. Also, the writers curate an actual walking tour in Dublin if you’re ever there!
The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One – Amanda Lovelace
The last book in this poetry series and I’m honestly gutted. These collections have been amazing and are books I’ll keep coming to again and again. They are not for the faint-hearted. But if you want to get uncomfortable and become a better ally or friend or if you want to work through your own demons then read this. It’s quite honestly perfect. Poems will leave you hollow inside whilst others will steal a smile from your lips. To do both in consecutive pages is a real talent.
The Testament of Mary – Colm Tóibín
I love a good recommendation from a friend. Occasionally they can come with a lot of pressure because what if you don’t like it? Is the friendship over? Fortunately, I won’t find out today as I loved this book. It takes a look at Mary’s life after the crucifixion of Jesus. And damn, this Mary is cool, why does nobody talk about her? She’s strong willed but quietly so. She’s empty after the loss of her family. However she doesn’t believe her son did these miraculous things so she’s finding it very hard to consider him the messiah. Mad right? Just read it.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
I was supposed to read this book in uni. I wish I had. A lot of the books I chose to read this month had heavy themes of religion. Which is odd as I am an atheist. However, each is uniquely critical of certain aspects of religion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually anti-religion. If it works for you that’s cool. But what these books I’ve read show is how people twist the definition of god with power. They’re not a synonym; at least they shouldn’t be. People abuse the bible and what they think is a good way to live simply so they can have power. In this particular book we’re focusing a lot on homosexuality. Knowing it’s a semi-autobiographical text wounded me a little. I’ll simply never be able to understand why people must try to oppress other people’s right to be authentically themselves.
Women Talking – Miriam Toews
For two years in a Mennonite colony, hundreds of women were drugged and attacked in the night. They were told they were being violated by demons who had come to punish them for their sins. In actual fact they were being raped by a group of men from the colony. This is a real thing that happened. This book is a fictionalised tale of the women’s response and how they fought for their freedom back. It was narrated really interestingly through the minutes of a meeting of eight women from two families. Their friendships and rivalries will restore your faith in the human spirit.
After Dark – Haruki Murakami
I loved this book. I’m not sure it’s going to be for everyone. If you love heavily plotted books with explicit, explained endings then don’t read this. If you like something just a bit bizarre but fascinating then read it. Set in a Japanese city, it explores what happens on the streets when the last train ends and before the first one begins. I think I just really felt affinity with the night people because I’ve always been a night person. I can pin point the moment when I was fourteen and messaging a boy I liked on msn; since then I’ve been staying up past four am. The night is quiet and full of magic. I don’t know, I just liked it.
Neverseen – Shannon Messenger
I’m really getting into this series and I love seeing the characters grow as the books go on. The blossoming moments of friendship are some of my favourite parts of the novel. I don’t read many series so it’s hard to tell you anything about this that isn’t a spoiler (this is the fourth book to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series). However, I enjoyed the change of location for this book as well as the new characters. And that’s all I’ll say..
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia Puigcerver, Francesc Miralles
A solid 3.5 book for me I think. I found it very slow to get into, often getting overwhelmed with references to other works instead of making its own point. I enjoyed the parts about finding your ikigai or your passion/reason for existing/etc., and it was quite inspiring and renewed my own goals for my own life. But ultimately the endless focus on being 100 years old put me off. Getting to that age is amazing but it’s not what makes a happy life and I don’t think ‘being old’ is what we should be aiming for. Life is fleeting and we don’t know when it’s gonna end so I’d say don’t even plan for your golden years, just live the ones you have right now.
And that’s it! I’m moving into September with five books left on my yearly Goodreads challenge! Let’s go 📚
Under A Dome – Of Monsters And Men
So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Even longer since I’ve written a post that wasn’t a book wrap up! Radio silence all summer. But you’ve got to assume I’ve been doing something, right? We all know how bad I am for staring at walls and letting life pass me by! However, I think I’ve done quite a bit this summer! But I’ve missed writing posts so want to ease myself back in. Today, I thought I’d give you a quick overview of what I’ve been getting up to recently in everyone’s favourite form: a list!
I completed a week-long readathon, reading seven books in total.
Did a run in the rain. (Thanks, British Summer)
Met my friend and did tequilas at 5pm on a Monday.
Watched hours of a Devil May Cry Let’s Play on YouTube with Danny. (Mainly assume Danny’s with me for most of the list so I don’t have to keep typing his name!)
Tried to eat at two pubs on a random Wednesday and was told there was no seats so settled for a chippy instead with my nan.
Finally completed a 750 Harry Potter jigsaw after a long ten-week slog (we thought it would be a piece if cake, how wrong we were). Thanks Dad, Claire, Neil, Jules, Keith and anyone else for your help!
Opened an ISA to buy a house cos I’m an adult.
Sat up chatting all evening with my sister. Mainly about her upcoming wedding!
Went to The National Gallery in London and realised, damn, art is stunning.
Did a morning run in Hyde Park.
Went to so many London book shops including one on a boat!
Met a couple of friends for a drink in Camden and then went to an arcade.
Played board games for hours at Draughts.
Went for a fancy tea and drinks with my family and listened to live jazz with espresso martinis.
Celebrated my mum’s birthday by baking loads of cakes.
Rearranged my bookshelves!
Played mini-golf with Danny’s mates then drank too many beers.
Saw Feeder play four songs.
Got insanely drunk with Danny and my brother and did karaoke.
Went to Frost Burgers (a vegan junk food place) in Liverpool and wanted to cry about how good the food was.
Drank more beers with Danny’s friends and played board games.
Watched Love, Simon then Rambo: First Blood immediately after, you know, for variety.
Walked around Ogwen Lake in the Wales with Danny and my dad. Then we visited every takeaway in Bethesda to create the ultimate combination feast.
After camping overnight we went to Penrhyn Castle and Gardens and it was amazing, go.
Did a run after a two-week break, we almost passed out.
Had a big nap.
Read loads as I was doing a month-long readathon and after 19 days of August had read 1 of my 9 books!
Went for a walk on Crosby beach with the Iron Men.
Danny made me a Katsu Curry from scratch.
Went to Birmingham with my sisters for lots of wedmin (Wedding Admin).
Made a set of cupboards for my dad that had the absolute worst instructions I’ve ever seen in a flat pack. Got treated to a Pizza Express for our efforts!
Made another cupboard and wanted to jump off a cliff. (Still one to go!)
Won my first ever game of Blob (it’s a card game.)
Went back to Frost Burgers.
Saw Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Downloaded an app called Libby that let’s you rent all the e/audiobooks your local library has to offer!
Drank more beers and played more board games with the Wirral Boys.
Finished my ninth book of August on the last day of the readathon.
And there’s my summer! I hope you enjoyed the endless scroll there.
How was your summer? I’d love to hear the most bizarre thing you did. If you’re sad that summer is over, just remember it’s autumn now and that’s even better!
Soothsayer – Of Monsters and Men