While I'm nowhere near the 100+ books a year level that some are, I've definitely upped my reading game this year and it's back to becoming one of my favourite things to do! I'm already half-way through my reading challenge for 2020 and I'm hoping to keep up the good streak. Here are some small tips from me on how to read more this year and how I've focussed my time to read more. 

Use the commute

Since moving to London, my bus ride to and from work has been the perfect source of some good reading time. An hour there and an hour back I almost don't mind as it gives me some structured time to read. Even if some days I just read one chapter, it's more than I would have read otherwise. At the moment I'm currently working from home but I still try and use the hour I would be commuting to pick up my book and read before I start working. 

Read what you like

It may seem obvious and a little silly but for years I've tried different genres and it's only recently I've really understood the kind of books, genres, sub-genres and authors that I really like. I also try and notice my reading habits. For example, after a long, hard-hitting read, I will want to follow up with a short, easy-read contemporary. This has really helped me to avoid a reading slump. It's also fun to constantly search for new books that I know I will enjoy and get excited about to encourage me to keep reading! 

Read-a-longs

As a slower reader, some longer, week-long read-a-longs just don't work for me. However, small ones with friends are fun. If there's a book you and your friend want to read, why not read it at the same time? I find it really encouraging to do this and it's great to discuss your thoughts with someone at the end. If you want to read with a larger group, a monthly book club is a great way to keep your reading interest alive! 

Swap screen time for book time

At the start, I would consciously have to turn from my phone and read but now more and more, I'm just reaching for my book without a second thought. Whether it's in my lunch breaks, while I'm eating my tea or even brushing my teeth, I'm off my phone and with that, I've replaced a lot of these occasions with reading. It's really made a difference from being able to help me get through a few extra pages that I wouldn't otherwise. 

Be kind to yourself - no pressure! 

If you don't fancy reading one morning, that's fine. Not enjoying the book you're reading? OK! If you want a week off of reading and just want to binge-watch Netflix for a bit, that's more than ok. There is no point pressuring myself to read more and complete a book if it's just not fun to do so - it's a hobby after all. Everyone reads at their own pace and as long as you're enjoying what you're reading, that's the main thing! 

Do you have any tips for reading more? 

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x

Something a bit different but hopefully useful for the bloggers amongst you, trying to up their organic traffic and SEO game, There are some really great SEO tools out there to help you focus on improving your traffic from Google as well as increasing your own domain authority in the process. From both my time as a blogger and working in SEO, here are some of the free tools that are definitely worth giving a go. 

Google Search Console

So a lot of bloggers probably use Google Analytics but I haven't heard of people using GSC. While GA tracks blog views, user journey within your site, GSC focusses on clicks and impressions coming from Google specifically. You can track where you appear in search results for different keywords and what are your best, most authoritative pages. 

While GA is fantastic, if you're looking to focus more on your SEO, GSC is the best tool for you. Track how many errors you have on your site, make sure your pages are being indexed (seen) in Google and also offer some nice simple analysis of clicks. It's pretty easy to navigate and worth setting up. It works great alongside GA to help you really understand your blog traffic and performance to then help you improve. 

Google Trends

This is a great tool from Google that's good to measure the popularity of certain topics overtime as well as being an unexpected source of inspiration. Jump on some search trends of the month to help you create relevant content for other searchers. The higher the search volume, the better chance someone is to see your content. I find it quite fun to play around with this tool and compare different topics and searched-for words. 

Keywords Everywhere

Tools like SEMRush are great for commercial keyword research but I personally don't think it's worth the money for a blogger or influencer. Keywords everywhere is the perfect free tool. Simple google a phrase you want to target and it offers you suggested phrases other people google related to your topic. These words and phrases you can then also work into your article. 

SEO Meta Data Extension

This is another free Chrome extension that's worth having on hand - great to check that all your meta information is appearing to others and Google. Your titles, description and also alt tags for images. You can use this tool to scan your own pages but you can also use on others' site if you're wanting to target similar keywords, or interested in how they layout their content to be well optimised. 

The Mozbar

I have a free personal Moz account for the sheer purpose of using the Mozbar. Domain Authority was originally created by Moz as a way to track a site's authority and so their tool has to be the most trustworthy. Add the Mozbar to your extension and by clicking the icon, you can see any sites' Domain Authority, number of backlinks and spam score. Navigate around their site to also see their Page Authority. Moz is the best, easiest and most used way to track your domain score and the Mozbar makes it even easier for you to see your domain changes in a glance as well as others. 


I hope you enjoyed this SEO post today. Is it a topic you'd like me to cover more on my blog? Let me know! 

Hope you're doing great,

All I've been wanting recently is heart-warming yet gut-wrenching films to fall asleep to and shows to binge-watch and regret finishing so quickly after. If you're looking for the same, here are some of my May 2020 picks I think you'll enjoy. 

Never Have I Ever 

I can't lie, I devoured this series on Netflix in one evening, wrapped up in my duvet with ice cream and a big cup of tea. This is the perfect teen TV show that had me literally laughing out loud as well as choking up (by the show, not the ice cream). Devi is a teen who just wants to have a perfect teen life with the perfect boyfriend, good grades and great friends, and she sees it as her mission to get this to happen. But, it's just another teen comedy - Devi is from an Indian-Hindu family and so she's trying to juggle both being the perfect daughter but also wanting to "fit in" as the American she is. Such a great show that I highly recommend.

Normal People

With Normal People by Sally Rooney being one of my all-time fave books, I was apprehensive about this series but after one episode I knew it would be the perfect adaptation of the book and I wanted to cherish it. But, as I was loving it so much and I have a severe lack of self-control, I couldn't help but finish the show super quickly. 

Connell and Marianne go to the same school but have seemingly different lives. There starts their love story but it's not simple, it's real. It was such a gorgeous book and the TV series was no different. I loved it! 

Stargirl

This was the first thing I found myself watching on Disney Plus. A great coming-of-age move for young teens and also anyone who wants to relive their childhood and read Stargirl when they were younger. A film about being different, being yourself and surviving high school. Such a lovely uplifting quick watch that is definitely worth it if you're having a down day. 

The Secret World of Arrietty

Studio Ghibli films are the perfect watch when it's raining outside and you're snuggled up on the sofa. Arietty is a tiny teen who lives with her parents hidden from the humans whose house they secretly live within. They only come out when they are off to borrow supplies from their human hosts. When Arietty becomes friends with 12-year old Shawn, there's worry that this will be dangerous for the family. The Secret World of Arietty was the first Studio Ghibli I watched and it was lovely. It's a cartoon that is so beautifully made that you can understand why they are so popular. This is a great one for all the family.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

I feel like there's no point me mentioning this but I also can't no - it's my go-to film when I need something nice and easy to throw on and enjoy. Also, slight unpopular opinion, but I like the second one! I'm yet to get bored with watching this film and I'm sure I'll be watching them both at least once more before the next one comes out. If you're more of a book-before-film- person, I definitely recommend reading it. I talk more about it in my previous cosy book picks.  

7 Worlds, One Planet

If non-fiction is more your jam, David Attenborough's soothing voice will be the perfect chilled sho to watch. 7 Worlds, One Planet was one of my favourites last year and it's great to watch while you're stuck inside or have on in the background as you clean, work, study. Once you finish this series, you'll be spoilt for choice with all his other documentaries you can watch!

What are your favourite cosy films and TV picks? 

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x 
*This post contains gifted items from Authentic House, however, all opinions remain my own*


After recently talking to the lovely Alice at Authentic House, I was keen to delve a little more into sustainable and ethical haircare, and how a brand can really be just that. Today, I've put together a quick guide of things worth considering when buying your next shampoo, condition or haircare product.

Thoughtful, low waste packaging

Of course, most hair care products come in a plastic bottles - while these can be recycled in many areas of the country, this isn't necessarily definitive for all and can vary from area to area. While most places do recycle plastic, there is still better, more sustainable alternatives. 

Shampoo bars are a great alternative to a bottle of a hair product - they lather just as well, clean the same and smell just as fab as a regular shampoo. These are great alternatives as it cuts out any plastic packaging. I also find them to last a lot longer than the usual shampoo. 

And, it's not just the actual packaging - do the company deliver? What I loved about my Authentic House package was that everything could be recycled - completely cardboard packaging that's much more easily recycled than certain plastics. 

Cruelty-free & Vegan

Looking more closely at the product ingredients, it's great to be able to locate that a little cruelty-free bunny on the packaging - a great indicator of the cruelty-free status of bigger companies. For smaller businesses who may not have this, it's great to see a clear list of ingredients; no beeswax, no other animal-derived ingredients that maybe be lurking in your shampoos.

It's also worth checking where the product is being sold. Big-name companies like L'oreal who still in China (where it's required by law to test any products entering their market on animals) still test on animals and therefore are not cruelty-free. Some companies now even label their products "Vegan" but while their ingredient list may be clean, the company really isn't. 

It's great to check the status of the company as well as where they sell their products. If it's a smaller company, don't be afraid to reach out and ask them to find out for yourselves. Bloggers like Ethical Elephant and Cruelty-Free Kitty are great places to consult as to if a brand is cruelty-free and/or vegan. 

Palm Oil

While you're consulting the ingredients, this is another one to look out for. The use of palm oil and the effect of its mass production are a great contributor to deforestation around the world. t is a complicated issue that I definitely recommend reading in to. You can't ignore the lasting impact palm oil production is having on the world and you'll be doing your little bit to help by simply opting for products that don't include this. 

Sustainable sourcing

It's good to take into account the products' journey - where was it made? Where was is shipped before it was shipped out to you? How many air miles has your conditioner racked up? Looking at haircare brands closer to home is also a great way to help this - local brands and business. Does your hairdresser stock their own products? Is there any specialist haircare stores near you that can help you? 

Also, checking how the products are made and who buy. How do they treat their staff? Do they use fairtrade ingredients? These are all questions worth asking before picking up your next hair care product. It really is worth questioning how is it so cheap? 



Shop small!

So many large commercial manufacturers and brands have some shady pasts when you start looking at all the answers for the questions I've mentioned. That's why it's encouraging to see so many people investing in smaller businesses who don't have the problematic backgrounds of these larger companies. They are forward-thinking, sustainable and ethical in how their products are produced. That's exactly like Alice at Authentic House - she collates some of the UK's best sustainable companies, promoting all the above into a subscription box. This includes not only hair care but kitchenware, dental products and more. This is a brand I can definitely back for really helping others shop sustainable, ethically and small. 

Be sure to check out Authentic House's website as well over on Instagram

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x

*This post contains affiliate links*
While I've been sharing quite a few book recommendations recently - cosy book picks and books based on your zodiac signs - I haven't shared so much of my more recent reads as well as what I've been watching. I've also discovered some great new albums that I've been eager to share. Now's the time! 

Books I've been reading

Paper Girls by Brian Vaughan 

This was actually my sister's book and I was intrigued when I saw it on the shelf. She had "Book One" which is the first 12(ish) volumes of this comic. It's about a group of girls who all deliver the local newspaper. When they're on their morning paper run, all sorts of abnormal activity ensures. Aliens, time travel, clones. It's so fast-paced! You're thrown straight into the story and it gets going immediately with every episode or volume ending in a cliffhanger. I definitely enjoyed the fact there was more than one volume in this book otherwise, even with the cliffhangers, I don't think I would stick with it. Paper Girls was a nice break from my usual reads and one I'd definitely recommend to sci-fi, graphic novel fans. 

The Life of a Banana by P.P Wong

This was a fairly quick read for me. It follows Xing Li, she is what some Chinese refer to as a "Banana" - yellow on the outside, white on the inside. She lives in London with her mum and brother but after her mum sadly dies, she moves in with her strict, traditional grandma, wannabe actress auntie, and aloof, troubles uncle. As she's both adjusting to this new home, she's also trying to fit in at her new school - full of rich, white, kids who can't get past how she looks. Xing Li feels like she doesn't belong anywhere. It's such a heartbreaking story that is also funny in places. I personally loved the dynamic between her and her brother as well as the blossoming friendship with her new and only friend, Jay. 

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Ahh yes - the book everyone and their mum's have read and is talking about it. I mentioned this in my Cosy book recommendations so I'll keep this one short. Tiffy and Leon share a flat but they work completely different hours and never actually meet. It was such a warm, uplifting and funny read. If you're looking for a nice, easy read to devour in a day or two, this is perfect! 

Keep up with all my reading on goodreads!


Shows I've been watching

Doctor Who 

I used to be such a big Doctor Who fans back in the days of Cristopher Eccelston and David Tennant but as the years went on, I've watched it less and less. When I discovered all the 10 recent seasons had made its way to Netflix I said: "Challenge Accepted!" It's actually been so nice rewatching after all these years as so many episodes have forgotten, I can relive some faves and also I feel like I actually understand the storylines a lot more than my 12-year-old self hiding behind the pillow on a Saturday night ever did. 

Goggle Box

I'm sure if you're from the UK, you are aware of this show that is pure TV gold. Watching people watch TV - sounds ridiculous but it's the only time I seem to watch actual TV. It never fails to make me laugh. The families are all so funny and even if you're bored, the old episodes still stand the test of time and are great if you need an extra giggle. 

Albums I've been listening to 

Manic // Halsey 

I am so annoyed it took me this long to full sit down and listen to this whole album in its entirety. I now cannot stop listening to it. I've not always been a big Halsey fan but this album is so well put together with some really great tracks that are different from any of her earlier music I've head. My favourite tracks are you should be sad, 3am and killing boys. 

~ how i'm feeling // LAUV

Now, this one I made sure I listened to on the day of release. I loved LAUV's last album which I mentioned previously in "Albums I Can't Stop Listening To" and this album is no different. There's some really great tracks for every mood. This album is always in heavy rotation on Spotify and I'm more than ok with that. My favourite track has to be Modern Loneliness but also Tattoos Together, Who, Sweatpants and... can I just list the whole album?!

I hope you liked this pretty laid back post.  Leave any book, music or Tv recommendations for me to check - I always love your recommendations! 

Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x