Can you believe we're already a week into 2021? While we're all rushing to forget about last year, I thought I'd take one last look back at some of my favourite products and new discoveries of 2020. Instead of liting off loads of favourites like I usually do, I thought I'd keep this short and sweet with 1 favourite from each category (with some honourable mentions of course!) to give you my ultimate top 5 favourites of 2020! 

Book Pick: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was probably the hardest category to narrow down as I've read some fantastic books this year. I'd definitely suggest you check out my post where I share my thoughts all my 2020 5 star reads for some more recommendations. 

When I asked my friend for some help deciding, she said "which are you most likely to recommend to someone else?" and I think it would have to be My Dark Vanessa. While it definitely comes with trigger warnings, it's such a thought-provoking read that is so well-written I can't believe it's a debut novel! It looks at the psychological impact of the relationship young girl Vanessa has with her English teacher and the effect this has on her both in the moment as a naive student and years after as she's navigating through adult life. I highly recommend picking it up if you haven't before! 

Honourable mentions: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

TV pick: The Queen's Gambit

I feel I consumed so much TV this year that I can't remember half of what I watched but the Queen's Gambit is definitely one I do remember. I absolutely loved it and was so invested in the storyline. While you can say it's a show about Chess, it doesn't feel like just that. It shows chess as a real sport that requires real skill and is so tense to watch! It had such a great cast and I loved how everything was filmed from start to end. There's no doubt this was a top pick of 2020! 

Honourable mentions: Normal People, Bridgerton, His Dark Materials. 

Beauty Pick: Revolution Conceal & Define Concealer

The year that I wore the least make up I have in years, I discovered some great cruelty-free brands, finally got my hands on more Glossier products which I love, I still can't but go back to my trust Revolution Concealer. I'd wear this every day going in the office or out and about along with my other makeup and then when working from home it was perfect if I needed a little coverage. 

It's such a great all-round concealer that I can't help but mention again. For more beauty favourites from this year, check out my glossier review as well as past everyday makeup routines

Music Pick: The Band Camino

While they might not have topped my Spotify Wrapped artists of the year, they had a great presence across all my playlists last year. They quickly became a regular feat. on my working playlists and even more when I started working from home. There's not a mood where there isn't a The Band Camino song that fits perfectly. They have such a great sound that I'm still loving in 2021 and I can't wait to hear any new tracks they release. 

Honourable mentions: Dermot Kennedy, Halsey, Stormzy, LAUV, Sam Fender

Fashion Pick: Monki High Relaxed Jeans

This year, I focussed a lot on reducing the number of new pieces I bought and focussed on giving my current wardrobe some love. With this, I discovered some great staples which includes my love for the Monki high relaxed jeans. I've shared my love for these a few times including in my wardrobe staples post. They are such a lovely fit for short-legged, thick-thighed me. They are such great quality and they go with almost everything in my wardrobe. 

Honourable mentions: Veja Trainers, Vegan Leather Dr Martens. 

What were your favourite things of 2020? Any new discoveries? 
Thanks for reading, 
Sarah x

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There are so many amazing books released every year and, of course, 2021 is no different. I had a great reading year in 2020 and one thing I want to do to improve this year is to read more new releases and specifically make more of an effort to pre-order books. Why? It actually helps authors out a lot, especially new authors release debut novels; it's just another way of supporting your favourite authors as well as new and upcoming writers. It also is a great surprise when you forget you ordered it in the first place (I do this all too often!). So, today I thought I'd share just a few of the exciting releases I already have on my TBR for 2021 that you might want to pre-order too! 

Where available, I've included links to pre-order the books from - a great website that gives a percentage of the money from your purchase to an independent book shop of your choice. With the high street struggling now more than even, Hive is one way you can keep your book shops open, ready for your return! 

Luster by Raven Leilani

This debut novel from Leilani is our at the end of January so there's still time to pre-order it and start your reading year off right away! This story follows Edie - working in a dead-end job, making the wrong decisions but the only thing always right in her life is her love for painting. She meets Eric - archivist, suburban husband and father to his adopted black daughter who has no one to show her how to do her hair. Edie ends up intertwined in Eric's home and family in this story exploring sexual and racial politics. 

Such a Fun Age was a book I loved last year and I think this may follow similar ideas to be an honest and eye-opening read. It's also been likened to Normal People so I'm really intrigued to see how it is!

My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee

If you're lucky enough to be in the US, you should already be able to get your hands on this one but for the UK folks, don't worry it's only 2 months away from being released! It may not be a debut novel but it's definitely worth pre-ordering from the synopsis alone. 

Tiller is an American college student who has no real passion while Pong-Lou is a creative entrepreneur who sees some potential in Tiller. Pong takes Tiller on a trip across Asia where Tiller somehow becomes a child protege as he experiences some truly eye-opening events that change how he views the world around him. 

This plot really intrigues me and the vagueness of the blurb only wants to make me read it more. I can't wait to give this a read! 

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson

This is probably one of my most anticipated of 2021. While I've not read any of Renee Watson's earlier books, I love the sound of this YA plot that reminds me both of the activism found in T.H.U.G and also the exploration of self-love and relationships in Get a Life, Chloe Brown. 

When Nala says yes to an invitation to an open-mic night, she did not expect to fall instantly in love with the MC, Tye. While Nala would prefer to spend her summer curled up watching movies, Tye is an activist spending his time putting on community events. To impress Tye, Nala drops in a few lies and here and there which soon become harder to keep up with as they become close. 

Any YA book about self-love is a hit for me, I can't wait to read this when it's released in February. 

All Girls by Emily Layden

At an all-girls school in Connecticut, the students are smart and driven, progressive thinkers and feminist intellects. When they arrive back at school for the fall term, they are met with the news of a claim of sexual assault against an unnamed teacher. As weeks pass and over the next year at school, we see the stories of a diverse range of interconnected characters as they work through this strange year of school, questions if the staff really have their best interests at heart, while also navigating the life of a normal teenager growing up. 

This is another that I just have to read - the plot seems poignant and a necessary read. After reading My Dark Vanessa last year, I think this a great follow-on book to explore a similar topic more through reading this year. 

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

When I saw this likened To All The Boys I Loved Before and for fans of the amazing romance author Jasmine Guillory, I knew this debut novel ould have to be added to my 2021 TBR. 

Tessa hates that she only reads love stories with characters like her in her own writing that she shares with her number 1 fan and best friend, Caroline. When Tessa is accepted into a creative writing workshop she's struck with a case of writer's block. Caroline suggests remedying this by finding a new source of inspiration by having her own real-life love story. Cue Nico, the perfect brooding artist to play the Prince Charming in her next story. But, is this really the love she wants? 

While this one is only just being released in the US (January 5th!), I'll be waiting eagerly to get my hands on a copy on an ebook in the UK soon! 

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

This is said to be "Get Out meets Devil Wears Prada" - I'm Sold! This is the debut novel from Zakiya and the synopsis sounds amazing. 

Working for a publishing house, Nella is an editorial assistant who is tired of her micro-aggressive colleagues and being the only black employee at the company. When Hazel joins the team, she is delighted to have her in the company and her cubical buddy. But, just as they are getting to know each other, tensions start to rise between them when Hazel becomes the office darling and Nella public enemy number 1. After Nella receives a note telling her to quit, she becomes obsessed with finding answers and realises that more than just her job is on the line. 

This is labelled a thriller with sly social commentary that I can't wait to pick up in June when it's released. 

Whether it's a new release or a book that's been on your TBR for a while, what book are you most excited to pick up in 2021? 

Thanks for reading, 
Sarah x