Becoming a north Londoner

At the end of August, I moved from east to north London. This may not seem like a big deal, but I’d lived in east London ever since I was a little bookworm. I’d always felt quite strongly that east London was place the be, so it was strange to leave the hipsters and rich young families behind, and transport all my belongings to leafy north London. I’d been quite unhappy at home this year and so I made the decision to move in with a friend in West Hampstead – and I love it! I’ve made my room my own and spent the past six weeks exploring. I’m surrounded by bookshops, coffee shops, and gorgeous houses, as well as Hampstead Village and Hampstead Heath. I’m still so excited to be close to London transport and lots of beautiful and fabulous places. At my old flat, I spent a lot of hours in my room and so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t love my new one as much, especially as it’s a little smaller, but it’s even better! I moved one of my bookcases and desk into my room, and my other bookcase is in the living room, helping to make the flat feel more like home. My housemate works in the book industry, too, and so was perfectly happy to have more books around the flat! As much as I adored my old flat – it was my first rented home in London – I didn’t think much of the area (it wasn’t as trendy as Hackney, which is where I grew up) but thankfully I adore West Hampstead. It’s very me, especially in autumn. I’ve loved spending the past few weekends blogging in the coffee shops, visiting the Freud Museum and stunning National Trust properties, and wandering around Hampstead Heath. I love central London – eating out in Soho and visiting Foyles Charing Cross and Waterstones Piccadilly – but I also love spending time in my local area, taking advantage of everything it has to offer and supporting the local businesses. And there’s lots more exploring to be done! I’ve previously visited Highgate and Highgate Cemetery, Archway and Crouch End – and I’m quite familiar with Islington. I also discovered that I’m less than half an hour from Kew Gardens (albeit, in south London), one of my favourite places; I hope to go to Christmas at Kew this year. Like the start of a new school term, my new life began in September, and I hope to have lots of fun as a north Londoner for the next year… at least!
If you have any recommendations for places to visit in north London, I’d love to hear about them! On the list is Alexandra Palace… 

I’m a member of the pin badge club

I don’t wear much jewellery; a necklace occasionally, or a ring. I guess that popping a little pin badge onto my pinafore or dungarees – picking one out to suit my mood – is my version. My collection is a reflection of all the things I love, from books to coffee, adventures to dachshunds. I wear them so much that people have started buying me them as gifts! I love seeing other people’s, so I thought I’d share mine:

The Readers Gonna Read pin badge was one of the first I received, in an Illumicrate box, and it sparked a love of pins. I probably wear my bookish ones the most, with Read More being my favourite – I adore the colour!

I also have a few showing things I’m a fan of, such as my Yellow Coat Crew pin (I have two yellow coats!), sausage dogs (I was given these two pins for my last birthday), and travelling/adventures (I tend to take them on city breaks). I also wear my EU pin when Brexit news starts to bring me down… I have my eye on a few autumn-themed pins at the moment – I’m all about pretty leaves, hot chocolate and cosiness.

The Pin Badge Club is owned by illustrator Ben Cameron and he kindly sent me his September pin for free – featuring an adorable book and coffee – to share on social media. When he announced that the October pin would be autumn/Halloween-themed, I had to sign up for another month. I can’t wait to see it!

Do you own any pin badges?



Read More – Fable & Black
Bookworm – Fable & Black
Readers Gonna Read – The Literary Emporium
Book and coffee – Pin Badge Club
I like big books – Waterstones
Fox and hedgehog – RSPB
Sausage dog – Emma Traynor
Ravenclaw – Foyles
Sausage dog with hat – a gift
London bus – a gift
Adventure Awaits – onr.
Map (Fueled by travel) – Lucie Bascoul
Yellow Coat Crew – Wren and Wilson
EU Heart – Veronica Dearly
Proud to be bookish – a gift
Rainbow cake – a gift
Berlin – a gift shop on holiday
Hedwig – British Library
Mockingjay – a gift

Mini Book Reviews: Save the Date, Ready Player One & The Silent Patient

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

It’s no secret that I adore Morgan Matson’s books. I’ll add them instantly to my TBR before I even know what they’re about. In Save the Date, Charlie’s sister Linnie is getting married at their family home – and the house is filled with all four of the Grant siblings. Well, almost. Save the Date doesn’t just focus on the protagonist, 17-year-old Charlie. The spotlight is on the entire Grant family and we get to know them all ready well. As someone who has a small family and no siblings, I enjoyed the family drama (with brother Mike in particular), all the wedding havoc (complete with an adorable rogue puppy), and the relationship between siblings, in particular JJ, who is the joker of the family and is hilarious. The Grant family are picture perfect and the basis for the comic strip created by Charlie’s mum that has made the family famous across America.

But Charlie discovers that not everything about her family can be perfect. From conflicts that the press aren’t aware of to the pressure of being the youngest in the family, Charlie’s feeling the tension build. As with most contemporary YA novels, there is a romance, but it isn’t at the centre of the story. Will is the step-in wedding planner who aims to help Charlie save her sister’s wedding, and he’s completely lovely.

If you loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, you’ll probably love Morgan Matson, too.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Set in the 2040s, Halliday is the creator of the Oasis, a vast virtual society that provides everything that the real world cannot. Upon his death, he creates a video announcing that he’s hidden an Easter egg in the Oasis. Whoever finds it first wins his immense fortune – and complete control over the Oasis. And so the fun begins when 18-year-old Wade becomes the first person to discover the first key.

Ready Player One is fun, fast-paced and filled with 80s references. As it covers an entire decade, it could’ve done with celebrating a few more women – female authors, movies, directors, singers, game creators, etc. I rolled my eyes when Halliday’s favourite authors were listed… male, male, male. Halliday didn’t read anything by Ursula K. Le Guin? Or Margaret Atwood? It seems unlikely!

Ready Player One read like a game walkthrough, which I found immensely fun (or, as I’ve just discovered, is described as a Literary Role Play Game), and I loved all the characters… Wade, Aech, and Art3mis (but no, Ernest, you didn’t need to tell us it was pronounced “Artemis”), plus Shoto and Daito. I’m so glad I finally got to read this cult classic sci-fi novel. I now need to check out the film!

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I really do want to read more thrillers, but I find it incredibly difficult to choose one – I need them recommended to me! So when The Silent Patient was announced, I was intrigued. It looks set to be one of the most talked about books of 2019. In Alex Michaelides’ debut, Alicia Berenson is the silent patient. Her life is seemingly perfect. She’s a successful artist and married to famous fashion photographer, and everyone is surprised when she is found at home, having just shot her husband five times in the face. And she hasn’t said a word since. Six years later, criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber takes on the job of treating Alicia at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London – and Alicia’s case threatens to spiral out of control.

One of the reasons I read (albeit, rarely) thriller/crime/mystery novels is that I love not knowing what’s going to happen next, and guessing what the truth might be. I knew there was a lot of hype about The Silent Patient (something I’m unable to resist), and I kept on reading, intrigued by Alicia Berenson and her motivations, and the people in her life – who can be trusted? You’re taken on a journey through Theo’s personal and work life, not necessarily knowing where it is going or whether he’ll be able to get Alicia talking again. I would’ve loved a few more twists and turns throughout the novel rather than just one huge (although impressive) twist, but The Silent Patient certainly gave me the thirst for even more thrillers!

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What I’ve Read / All These Beautiful Strangers, My Heart Goes Bang & More Happy Than Not

All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

All These Beautiful Strangers was recommended by one of my good friends, Bella, who knew that I enjoyed boarding schools, secret societies, and a lot of mystery. Charlie Calloway is immensely privileged. She’s rich, has a close family, a loyal set of friends and achieved top grades at her fancy boarding school. She’s always been taught that she’s different; special, better, so when an exclusive secret society – the A’s – sends her an invitation to join the club, there’s no question that she should join. But Charlie quickly finds herself at the heart of a decades-old mystery involving a terrible family crime: what does her mother’s disappearance have to do with the A’s? And is Charlie willing to risk her membership to find out?

All These Beautiful Strangers switches between 2017 and the 1990s, with everything slowly unfolding until Charlie discovers the truth. It was such a fun, immersive read – even though I’d have loved for it to focus more on Charlie and the the A’s – and is a fabulous blend of YA and adult fiction. Charlie really develops as a character and you end up loving her even though you shouldn’t, and the twists will keep you guessing until the end.

My Heart Goes Bang by Keris Stainton

I bought My Heart Goes Bang for London Pride and it turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year. It now sits on my favourites shelf next to Freshers, and I’d absolutely love to see more books set at university. Ella, Lou, Issey, Liane and Paige are ready for their second year at the University of Liverpool and their new student house. They’re settling in when Ella comes across a magazine article with a list of men they should date before they’re 21 (e.g. someone who’s been on TV, someone who has tattoos), and challenge her house to complete it.

When you come across ‘Bastard’ and ‘Fuck. Me.’ on the first page, you know it’s going to be a great book. I adored our five protagonists and you’re bound to identify with one of them – I’m very much an Ella, fairly sensible, bookish and attracted to nice boys.

My Heart Goes Bang brought back so many memories of being at university (minus the Fuck-It List!). It’s narrated by five awesome girls – I enjoyed each of their storylines, featuring everything from bisexuality to money worries – and is sex-positive (which we need so much!), funny and relatable. I wish I had this as a fresher. There will be a sequel, right?!

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera has been one of my favourite authors since I read They Both Die at the End & History is All You Left Me, so I was super excited when Simon & Schuster sent me a copy of his first book, newly published in the UK, More Happy Than Not. Adam Silvera does magical realism excellently. Aaron Soto lives in a world where, if you wish, your memories can be completely wiped so you no longer have to remember troubling times. Aaron hasn’t had the surgery, but he’s struggled with depression ever since his father died and, with help from his girlfriend, he’s slowly remembering what happiness feels like. But then he meets Thomas, who’s smart and funny and gets Aaron. They’re best friends until, much to his surprise, Aaron falls in love with him. And then he must make a decision.

More Happy Than Not is another brilliant contemporary story from Adam Silvera and, like his previous books, doesn’t go the way you expect it to. It deals with sexuality in an incredibly complex way. Aaron’s story is intense and sad, but layered with geeky comic book references and rediscovering the joy of being with someone who understands you. I’m ready to read What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera!

P.S. Pretty Books is 8 years old today!

Unboxing: Rare Birds Book Club


Well, I say unboxing, but it’s more like unwrapping. Rare Birds Book Club is a book club subscription owned by Rachel. Rare Birds Book Club sends surprise books each month and the club “cherry picks the best of contemporary women’s fiction and celebrates female authors writing books we think you’ll love”. They kindly offered me a one month subscription to get a taste of the book club and chat to you guys about it. I was super excited when it landed on my desk at work!


Even though I have a lot of books (and a lot I haven’t read), Rachel managed to pick a book that I hadn’t heard of but is my sort of novel. Quite a feat! August’s book was Party Girls Die in Pearls: An Oxford Girl Mystery by Plum Sykes, set in Oxford University in 1985. I’m really looking forward to picking it up. In addition, rather than just simply sending you a book they love, you also get a secret password to access the Rare Birds Book Club and chat with fellow subscribers about the latest read. I moved house last month and it has been a little hectic so I hope there’s still time for me to join in!


Rare Birds Book Club costs £10 a month to join and, even though you might get a tiny bit more for a similar price from other book subscription boxes (e.g. a book plus additional treats), I think the book club feature is fantastic for people who aren’t on social media or who don’t get to chat about books as much as they would like. Plus Rachel promises a few extra goodies occasionally!


It’s fantastic to come across a subscription box that isn’t YA – I can definitely think of a few people I’d gift subscriptions to. It can be tricky to pick a book for someone, so I love that someone else will do it for me (if I’m not buying them National Book Tokens of course…!). If you do already own the book you receive, you only have to get in touch and Rachel will sort it out.

Thank you Rare Birds Book Club for sending my free box!