Get your kettles ready.

Happy Sunday evening!

Winter has arrived in bitterly cold fashion in the UK this weekend and therefore it is only appropriate that the kettle is put on at least three times as often as normal throughout the day. If I didn’t get my fair share of hot drinks working at Caffé Nero already, I am now stocked up around the clock after tagging along with my Mum to do a food shop this morning and accidently buying a lot more tea and coffee than is strictly necessary.

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(I’ve spent the afternoon sampling everything I bought and can confirm it is all tip top.)

After nearly forgetting about green tea entirely (something I’d specifically added to the shopping list before we left the house), I ran back to quickly grab a box and ended up being too intrigued by this to not have it. It’s a ‘super green tea’ by Tetley infused with lemon and honey, which promises to boost my immune system. I’m actually drinking this one as we speak and it’s really good – sweet and lemony and not really tasting of green tea at all. I’m going to list that as a pro rather than a con, because I think the majority would agree that if you could reap the health benefits of drinking green tea without having to put up with the ‘green’ taste, you’d do so in a heartbeat.

This little jar of Douwe Egberts infused instant coffee was admittedly a lot smaller than I thought it would be for the price – I think it cost just under £3 – but after seeing the advert for this range on TV I had to try some. At work I am so, so bad for paying extra for and adding shots of Monin syrup to my already calorific lattes, and after a few months of work the novelty is slowly wearing off and I need an alternative! These are perfect. As I went to take the first sip of mine earlier the roasted hazelnut smelled gorgeous and tasted really smooth too. The other flavours in the collection are caramel, vanilla and chocolate which I’m also v excited to try.

Every so often at uni I would add these Double Choca Mocha sachets to my online shopping basket because they’re so good (and they often saved me on nights of assignment stress and minor panics about the future). That’s all I have to say really. Pour sachet into mug, add boiling water, leave for a bit, stir, ta-da. 10/10. Would mocha every day if I could.

Finally I’ve got the Drink Me Spiced Chai Latte powder which, as you can see on the tub, is the exact same powder we use to make chai lattes at work. My Mum is adament that this is a Christmassy drink just because it’s best served sprinked with cinnamon on top. It really isn’t, it goes hard all year round and I’m chai ’til I die because it’s so sweet and spicy and everything you could ask for if you’re not looking for a caffiene kick.

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Now that I’ve done the shameful thing of using ‘chai ’til I die’ in a sentence and published it on the Internet I’m gonna go. Hope this has given you some inspiration to switch things up from your regular breakfast tea this winter!

Until next time,

Emma x

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee | A (Long Overdue) Review

The hype surrounding the release of Go Set A Watchman this year made me realise that I was in the minority by not having read its predecessor, To Kill A Mockingbird. Secondary school did me wrong. Over the summer, I decided I wanted to see what made this ‘timeless classic’ a timeless classic.

I really wasn’t disappointed! I loved TKAM. It truly deserves all the praise it’s had over the past 50 years.

To Kill A Mockingbird follows spunky Scout Finch and her exposure to the deep-rooted racism and classism of early 20th century southern USA through her lawyer father Atticus’ trial, in which he defends a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Throughout the novel, alongside her older brother Jem (and their friend Dil each summer), the novel follows Scout’s journey through childhood – fitting in at school, learning some important life lessons and keeping to the sidelines of Jem’s attempts to uncover the mystery of housebound Boo Radley (which makes for an excellent sub plot, by the way).

What makes this book such a standout for me is that it shamelessly faces up to segregation of society in the era. TKAM was first published in 1965. Until this year, southern USA states had operated since 1890 under the Jim Crow laws which mandated racial segregation in public society. African Americans were regarded as second class citizens, ‘separate but equal’*. TKAM, I can only imagine, was a controversial penny-drop for those reading it in the sixties. Lee plays on the inquisitive nature of a child to highlight the serious issue of racial segregation and prove how obviously wrong it was. I loved that.

The characters in TKAM are a diverse range of vibrant, bright, relatable personalities. My favourite of the bunch has to be Calpurnia, the Finch’s black housekeeper. Her presence in the family’s lives was comforting, heartwarming and refreshing. She’s witty and not afraid to stick up for what she believes in. Bridging the gap between hers and the white culture within Maycomb with an air of acceptance and seamlessness is what makes me like her so much.

All in all, TKAM is a classic that doesn’t carry the ‘weighty’ stigma of titles such as War & Peace or Jane Eyre. It’s fun, captivating and, within the context of the time it was published, incredibly thought provoking. There’s so much more I could say about TKAM, but I’d be going on for days and you could probably read the novel itself in less time. Read it! Read it read it read it.

Until next time,

Emma x

*I’m not going to lie, this is a Wikipedia quote. Whoops.

“Dear 25 year old me…”

Inspired by Dodie Clark’s recent video ‘Dear 25 year old me‘, I thought it’d be a fun idea to do the same sort of thing and write myself an open letter. I haven’t scripted this, so I really hope my rambling is endearing.

So. To the me of the future, November 2019…

Hi! You’re 25. I’m 25. It’s still really weird to me, that I am someday – someday soon, in the grand scheme of things – going to be someone in their mid-twenties. In my head I’m still nineteen, still a teenager but not quite fitting that mould anymore. I thought I’d start this by reminding you of who you were at the age of 21 (and a half) in November 2015.

You have your hair natural brown, and it’s mid-to-long in length but you’ve been pondering a haircut over the past few days. You’re internally debating whether or not to have a fringe cut in, but you know really that a fringe is far too much upkeep so you’ll probably just get a trim. You have your blue-rimmed glasses, a trademark of your ‘look’, and your current style can only be described as ‘having recently discovered Topshop’s Joni jeans and whatever big hoodie or chairty shop jumper is closest.’ Your left ear is a bit bunged up, but that’s a genetic thing and I hope in 2019 it’s not something that bothers you anymore, although I doubt it.

You’re a barista. You’re still a trainee, making coffee and washing up for hours on end per week. You were employee of the month for all the stores in your area in October, on only your second month of
working for the company, which is cool.

In all honesty, you’re not in too good of a place. You think you’ve got depression because you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be excited for anything. When you went to New York, you had an absolutely amazing time and made so many good, fond memories, but you didn’t feel the child-like excitement and elation you were expecting to feel in the days leading up to catching the flight. Things just pass you by in a blur, and every day – no matter what you’re doing on that day – is just another day. You’re consumed with thoughts of your dad’s cancer and other troubles at home, and because not a lot of your friends are around at home (and the difficulty you find in opening up to anyone, it seems) you’re actually quite lonely.

Things could be better.

I’m hoping that, in 2019, you’ve got things straightened out a bit. You have plans to move to Manchester with some friends. Did you pull it off? Are you still there now? Did you meet the person of your dreams and are settled with kids and cats? I know 25 is only three-and-a-half years away, but a lot can happen in three-and-a-half years. God, how weird is that! I might be a slave to commitment. I hate commitment. Imagine that.

What sort of career path have you taken? It’s always been publishing up until now in 2015, but maybe you had a change of heart. I wonder if you’ve stuck to that promise you made to yourself to immerse yourself more in the publishing world and through that actually make some contacts and go places. That’d be nice. Alternatively, if you’ve found something you like more, then I hope you’re happy. Who knows, you might have even looked into becoming a counsellor, because that’s something you’ve always been thinking about a bit.

Either way, I hope you’re doing what you want to be doing. Speaking now at 21, where practically nothing I’m doing is what I want to be doing, you need to do you and I hope you’ve found that.

What does your hair look like now? Has it recently been spontaneously chopped? Probably. I wonder how much you weigh and whether you’ve joined a gym or become someone who drinks green tea for fun. I wonder if your style has matured. I wonder if you’re someone who turns heads in the street.

(I mean, it’s a bit of a reach, but a lot can happen in three-in-a-half years, right?)

How’s Jack doing? And Mum? I assume Dad is no longer with us, so I hope things are okay there. I hope you’ve all learned to heal. Corky will be 13, nearly 14, which is old for a cat. Has she softened in old age? I really hope she’s still kicking around, although I don’t doubt she will be here for another 10 years at least, old and bitter, knowing her.

Okay, I’ve asked a lot of questions. You get the gist – I hope you’re happy, I hope things are working out for you because they bloody deserve to. You’ve got enough on your shoulders in 2015, in what has been the best and worst year of your life. Things can only get better, right? I’ve got to go and make tea now – we’re having chicken in white wine sauce with rice. I’m cooking because Mum’s asleep and I’ve just discovered that, at the age of nearly 23, Jack doesn’t know how to cook rice if it doesn’t come in a microwave packet. Madness.

(edit: we had fajitas instead. Far less hassle.)

Until next time,

Emma x

Insight Into Publishing | A Day in the Life

A few weeks ago, an email reached my inbox containing a fantastic opportunity to attend Hachette’s Insight Into Publishing day at their offices in Carmelite House, overlooking London’s Victoria Embankment. I applied on a whim over the summer and had completely forgotten about it, so after a bit of hasty shift swapping and grovelling I got the day off work, packed my rucksack and booked myself onto the 06:03 train for a measly £58 (!!).

Being someone who is not used to starting their day at 4.15am and is still quite inept when it comes to navigating the Underground, it took a while to find my way but I did eventually make it to the lobby with about ten minutes to spare.

Carmelite House, for starters, is a beautiful home for Hachette. The interior is all very sleek and modern, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lining the walkways and spacious lifts with padded walls. We were greeted with tea, coffee and tote bags full of goodies, including the new John Grisham novel Gray Mountain (which I featured in my TBR, actually, here).

The first item on our agenda was a talk called ‘The Life Of A Book’, in which we heard from the whole range of departments involved in bringing a book to life – this included Editorial, Design, Production & Planning, Marketing, Publicity and Sales. I was fascinated to learn how interlinked all these different aspects were and how there’s so much more to publishing than just the editorial side! My favourite little nugget of advice from this talk came from Yasia, the Art Design Director, who assured us her first stints working on magazines such as Plumber’s Monthly (if such a thing exists) weren’t at all glamourous but that they helped her get to where she is today. Started from the bottom now we here, as Drake would say.

I also attended two seminars in Rights & Contracts and International Sales, which were both great. To the majority of us in the room, Rights & Contracts had seemed like a very dry, ‘serious’ department to work in, but after the talk I realised the required skills for working in Rights & Contracts almost perfectly match the skills I picked up studying my Philosophy degree. Who knew?

After a lovely buffet lunch, there were a few more talks to be given from some even more ‘obscure’ departments, such as Consumer Insight and Finance. The reason I use the word obscure is that the majority of us arrived at the day ready to hear how to secure a career in editorial. Who turns up to a publishing day expecting to be riveted by a talk on balancing the books? Certainly not me, and I’m still not sure the accounts would be my gig, but the speaker Jonathan did a fantastic job of actually making numbers seem appealing.

The final few activities of the day were more interactive. The first was a work experience talk, which was great. It really helped consolidate all the advice I’ve heard for years about securing work experience in my head to the most crucial pointers. Next was a CV workshop, where the lovely HR ladies took us into little focus groups and picked apart all our CVs to give us hints on how to look the most employable we possibly could. Brilliant to hear from someone who actually checks CVs in the publishing industry! I’ve heard so many different things from different influences so it was nice to set the record straight. After this we were all invited to a networking session in the rooftop bar (I know) with a free glass of wine each. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for long as I had to make the dash on the tubes back to Euston for my train home, but I picked up some really helpful tips for getting into the industry I so badly want to be in.

All in all, you did good Hachette! An insight is what you promised and it’s certainly what I received. It’s a priceless opportunity, so for any budding publishers out  there who might be reading this I would strongly recommend following @hachettecareers on Twitter and applying to attend their next one when the time comes back around!

Until next time,

Emma x

End of 2015 TBR

Hi!

I pride myself on being a big lover of books. However, after attending the incredible Insight Into Publishing event at Hachette’s Carmelite House on Wednesday (there’s a post on that one coming very shortly), I had a bit of an internal realisation that I don’t really challenge myself with what I read. I’m a sucker for two types of book: I’ll either pick up a heavily-led-by-romance ‘chick-lit’ type of novel or a YA easy read. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of these types of books (if there was, I wouldn’t love them so damn much), but I’ve decided I’m going to try and broaden my horizons a bit.

So here’s my TBR stack as it stands at the moment:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my current read. After a long 21 years of being seriously anti-HP for no reason whatsoever, I decided to just give the series a try and I’m really enjoying it so far. A easy first venture into the fantasy genre! That being said, I’m quite happy to be starting the longer books of the series as I can’t wait for the story to go a bit more in-depth.

Delirium is a dystopian novel, first in a series, which is in my stack after being recommended to me by my friends Sarah (diaryofateachaholic) and Charlotte (missionred), who both assured me it’d changed their lives and it would mine too. The premise of the Delirium series is ‘what if we lived in a world where love is a disease?’ Can’t wait to give this a go.

Gray Mountain is a bit of a different one for me, from an author I’d admittedly never heard of before my day at Insight Into Publishing. This John Grisham novel landed in all of our hands as a freebie in the goody bags from Hachette which was such a nice surprise! The blurb is brief, but Gray Mountain is described as ‘thrilling suspense’ by the Huff Post and best-selling thriller writer Ken Follett describes Grisham as ‘the best thriller writer alive’, which is quite the accolade! Hopefully I can get my teeth into this one and it can sway me towards a genre I haven’t given much of a chance yet.

Me Before You has taken the UK romance novel ‘scene’ by storm. This bloody book has been everywhere this year, and much like my relationship with the Harry Potter books I avoided it for whatever reason. However, Sarah recently read this one and it reduced her to tears – call me strange all you like, but I love a book that can have that effect on the reader – so I headed straight to Smith’s to add it to my pile. I’ll pick this one up when I fancy a ‘break’ from my genre-hopping agenda.

The Man in the High Castle is another dystopian, sci-fi pick, actually gifted to me by my friend Vicky before she headed off to Germany on her year abroad. We had spent the day wandering through Waterstone’s (a favourite hobby of mine) and after finding there was only one copy of this left and I let her have it, she insisted on buying me a second-hand copy from Amazon and had it sent to me. So this is it! TMITHC explores an alternate universe, where the Allies lose WW2 and the Nazis take control of New York, while the Japanese control California and the African continent is virtually wiped out. An underground bestseller lives in a ‘neutral buffer zone’, whose works offer a new version of their reality, giving hope to the disheartened. I am so excited to read this one, and because it’s short I think I’m going to save it for a train journey sometime in the near future.

That’s my stack in lovely detail! If you’ve got any other titles you think I’d like, fire away – I’m always on the hunt for my new fave book.

Until next time,

Emma x