Self care Sunday: sounds.

Today's post is all about self care tips for your ears.

If you want to relax then sometimes silence is good, but here are some other sounds which are great....

1. Here's a dreamy playlist I made. All these songs are soft, dreamy, gentle and beautiful. This playlist is great to have on while you relax in a bath, lay down with your eyes closed, do some yoga to or to meditate with.

2. ASMR. To find out what ASMR is go here. I love listening to ASMR on YouTube through my headphones at night to help me sleep, or in the day if I am feeling particularly anxious. My current favourite ASMR channels are Gentle Whispering, Calming Escape, Velvet Whispers, Ghibi ASMR, Zacksworld ASMR, and Whisper Red.

3. Audiobooks. It's worth subscribing to something like Audible where you can choose an audiobook each month. It can be really soothing to listen to and if you are feeling too tired or stressed to read this is the perfect alternative. I particularly enjoy listening to biographies read by the author.

4. Guided meditations. This can be really useful, especially if you are new to meditating or mindfulness in general. You can buy the audio's on Itunes or listen to them on streaming sites but I recommend YouTube- there are tons on there- go here.

5. On the same theme maybe you want some relaxing sounds but something more subtle. Again YouTube is great for that (here) you can find all sorts of great sounds. Everything from nature, rain, thunderstorms, fireplace, snow, birds, car sounds or even coffee shop background noise.

6. Going back to basics if you want a steady, constant white noise sound put a fan on. Sometimes if I have trouble sleeping or need a nap the fan shuts out other noise and is strangely relaxing! 

7. Go somewhere quiet to enjoy the (relative) silence. Maybe the library, a museum, an empty park, an early morning walk. Even better take a book or magazine.

I hope some of these ideas were useful!

-My etsy shop: Self Care Stop-

Blog Tour: The Leavers by Lisa Ko.

Hi, and welcome to my stop on The Leavers blog tour!

'One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.'

My thoughts...

The Leavers for me was a slow burn sort of read, but in no way do I mean that as a bad thing. The writing was so beautiful I wanted to take my time with it, and truly savour the story. I loved the vivid descriptions of New York and China, I found myself getting lost in it. I really enjoyed following Deming through his life, and found him an incredibly sympathetic character. I felt like I could really understand his struggle to find somewhere he truly belonged because Lisa Ko wrote it so evocatively.

The Leavers is about identity but also about how a single decision effects the rest of your life. It's about being an immigrant, feeling like an outsider, and the love between mother and son. The writing is very human, and very real. The fact that this is a debut novel is even more impressive.

I absolutely loved The Leavers and felt such an emotional connection to the characters and the writing. I already know this is going to be one of my favourite reads of the year, and I highly recommend it. Seriously: read it!

'He was forever waiting to get past the secret entrance, and when the ropes did part he could never fully believe he was in. Another door materialised, another rope to get past, always the promise of something better.'

The Leavers is out on the 26th April, get it here.

[Huge thanks to Grace at Little Brown for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review]

Blog tour: All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew.

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew!

'A lyrical novel in the vein of Sara Baume and Eimear McBride, about marginalisation, mental illness and the power of nature and motherhood in restoring hope.
A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life. 

Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall - ravaged by floods, cut off from Europe and descended to military rule. In years of living with Bran - her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband - she's never had her own baby. So Ia rescues the girl. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia - bringing back a memory she's lost, giving her the strength to escape, and leading her on a journey downriver, in search of family. In hope of freedom.

Natasha Carthew tells a tale of marginalisation and motherhood in lyrical prose that crashes like waves on the sand; gritty, beautiful and utterly original.'

Natasha has kindly written a beautiful piece for today's blog post about the setting of All Rivers Run Free...


All Rivers Run Free is set in Cornwall and follows one woman’s journey downriver from the north coast to the south.
The Cornwall I write about is the second main character to Ia in All Rivers Run Free and is both friend and enemy, at times it trips her up, tells her lies and is not to be trusted and at other times it throws clues and sustenance her way.
It was important for me to create a hostile setting that Ia would have to navigate through, the country as we know it is unravelling around her. Through an almost unrecognisable Cornwall ravaged by floods and political unrest, Ia embarks on a journey that will finally bring her love and help her find the self she lost thirteen years ago.
It was central to the story that the setting I created was dystopian; through neglect, weathering and floods, I wanted the towns and countryside to be unrecognisable to the picture postcard image people think of when they think of Cornwall.
The places Ia comes across in All Rivers Run Free are real places on the tourist trail that sit near or alongside the River Tamar. Towns like Launceston and visitor centres like Tamar lakes and Morwelham Quay all play a part in the story. I visited these places in winter, off season, so it wasn’t hard to take the people away from them and imagine them abandoned, messed up, dirty. There is a stately home called Cothele that Ia takes refuge in on her journey on the banks of the river and this is where a lot of crucial things happen in her story, I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book, but writing those scenes on that particular riverbank and in the ornate garden was vital in getting the atmosphere right.

Nature also paid a big part in creating a setting that reflected Ia’s emotional turmoil. She is a part of nature and that affinity is reflected in instinct and the way she trusts her environment to help her make the right decision. She is part wild animal, so is at home in the wild weather and the wild setting. The landscape and environmental issues raised in All Rivers Run Free weave their way into Ia’s story and her story in turn becomes a part of the environment; they are interconnected, whilst the river symbolises her passage to salvation.  

The beautiful, poetical and totally original All Rivers Run Free is out now (available here)
Watch out for my full review coming next week!

[Huge thanks to Ana at Quercus books.]

Indie brand: Old English Company.

Old English Company are a stationery and homeware store based in Stamford. Their products feature beautiful hand lettered designs. When they contacted me to ask if I would like to review some of their products I couldn't say yes quick enough! 

Their store is full of brilliant and quirky designs and they sell everything from mugs and tea towels to enamel pins, cards, prints and notebooks.

The first thing that caught my eye straight away were the banner flags. There are lots of different slogans but I loved the 'You've got this' one. I already have it hanging up on the wall. The quality of this is beautiful- the lettering is printed onto cotton canvas and it's nice and thick. It looks really lovely hung up.

As a pin collector of course I had to get some of their pins. They've got some really fun designs but the three that I especially loved were the Pizza Lover (pizza is life), She Believed She Could So She Did (they do this design in other products too!) and the Coffee For Life pin.

Again the quality of these are amazing. They are really sturdy, and well made. The design is clear without imperfection- they are also only £7 each. These have already gone on my jacket! 

The final thing I picked was this mug. For some reason I've always wanted an enamel mug- I love the look of them and they are also a lot harder to break (if you are clumsy like me...) I love the phrase on this and the silver rim finishes it off nicely. Because of the light weight this is perfect for carrying round/ travel/ taking to work or (if you are weird like me and have to have your own cup) taking on holiday with you!

If you'd like to check out Old English Company go here:

[Huge thanks to Old English Company for sending me these items in exchange for an honest review]

Tips for when you have a depressive episode.

I volunteer at a local mental health charity where I run a bipolar support group and in one of our recent sessions we put together a list of tips for when we are in a depressive episode. When you are in that mind frame it is near impossible to think positive so I thought having this list could be pretty helpful to refer to. Here's the ideas we came up with...

Things to try when you are feeling low…

  • ·         Go for a walk, get some fresh air
  • ·         Get some rest, make sure you get some sleep. Have a set sleep routine
  • ·         Push yourself to attend a group
  • ·         Talk to a friend or family member that understands- don’t shut yourself away
  • ·         Have a routine, keep busy
  • ·         Don’t forget to eat. Try and eat a healthy snack, or drink a smoothie
  • ·         Use the internet/TV/ music to take your mind of it for a while. Watch your favourite film
  • ·         Treat yourself to something
  • ·         Try to practice some mindfulness (meditation, a relaxing bath, massage, aromatherapy)
  • ·         Do something creative (some drawing, cooking, colouring, make something)
  • ·         Don’t forget to take your meds (if you are prescribed them)
  • ·         Spend some time with your pet or offer to walk a friend’s dog
  • ·         Remind yourself that it is temporary and will pass
  • ·         Do some yoga/ attend a fitness group
  • ·         Be kind to yourself
  • ·         If you are really struggling talk to a trusted Doctor, group member or friend. If you aren't already ask to be referred to a therapist or counsellor

Recent comic pulls.

These pictures are pretty old now (I'm so behind!) but thought I'd post it anyway. 

Some series that I regularly buy in single issues are Motor Crush and Bombshells United- and I highly recommend both. I also got a bunch of first issues to try some new series. It ended up being a success for both Regression and Misfit City which I loved and have since bought and read the first volumes to. Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica was a 6 issue crossover series that was a fun read- I think it's out in trade now if you want to give it a read. I bought Doom Patrol purely for that beautiful Babs Tarr variant cover. 

Zodiac Starforce is back! I LOVED the first run so was very excited to see it return. I've had real trouble trying to track down all the issues though- so have ended up just pre-ordering the trade. Also check out those 2 beautiful variants of Bombshells United and A-Force.

Finally, the now infamous Batman #24 where he asks Selina to marry him. I only managed to get the second printing of this, but I love that they made changed to each printing cover. The first print didn't have the speech bubble, and the third print was in black and white.

So that's my not so recent comic pulls!