Book Review: Reasons To Stay Alive

In this week’s blog post I want to talk about Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive which I read recently and has helped me see slightly clearer.

 

Blurb

What does it mean to feel truly alive?

This is the true story of how Matt Haig came through crisis, triumphed over a mental illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. Moving, funny and joyous, Reasons To Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

 

Review

I actually bought this book for my mum, knowing that she suffers with anxiety more so than I, but I too wanted to read it myself. It’s been on my TBR for a while now and I finished it within a number of days.

Matt Haig writes from the heart, that much is true. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first started reading this, but it soon became clear that he has the wildest of thoughts too, meaning I’m not alone in this battle. It’s true what he says, when you have your first panic attack, you think you’re the first ever person to have had one, and to have felt that bad. But you’re not, for decades, people have suffered with panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

I can also understand the depression part of the book too as I have been there. It isn’t there so much anymore, but the anxiety still is. It’s always there, lurking, waiting for me when I’m most vulnerable. And when you have anxiety and depression mixed together like a cocktail, it has the power to break you. But what this book is about is how Haig survived the toughest of years, the worst of suicidal thoughts. He’s still here; yes it may be difficult some days, but ultimately, there is so much to experience on this earth. There’s so much to see, do, feel. No one wants to miss out on the good stuff, but sometimes we have to go through the shit in order to get to the good.

Mental health is still stigmatized, but if every person shares their story like Haig, the world will become less stigmatized the more we talk about it. Share your story, don’t be afraid to show the real you. We have all had panic attacks, bad days and been in shit situations. You are not alone in this.

I truly enjoyed listening to the ways Haig copes with his depression and anxiety and how we should live in the moment as much as possible. It was like reading his diary. What a beautiful book it is and I urge everyone out there, with mental health problems or not, to read this. If not for you, then for someone you know who struggles. This book will help you spot the signs of mental illness more easily and how you can be there as a partner/family member for your loved one.

I hope you enjoyed this review and I’ll see you soon! Love, Vee x

End Of Year Wrap Up

Hey guys! I hope you had a great Christmas and that your New Year’s is even better! This post is going to be a wrap up with my favourite books of 2018, the best opportunities I’ve had this year and my goals for the new year ahead.

Before I start, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has shared and commented on my blog posts. It means the world to me and I’ve made so many friends along the way. Thank you to the authors who send me free books and to the people who are always there for me.

 

My Top Ten Books Of 2018

1. Sasquatch, Love and Other Imaginary Things
2. Floored
3. Emergency Contact
4. Eliza and Her Monsters
5. Attachments
6. My Mum Tracy Beaker
7. Another Day
8. Someday
9. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
10. Turtles All The Way Down

What are your top ten books of the year? You can read all my reviews of these books by going to my “Book Review” section.

What I’m Thankful For This Year

I’m thankful for my partner and the family I’ve created through blogging. I have met so many amazing and kind people. This year has been one of the hardest I’ve had and you all showing your support to me has made me remember that nice things can happen.

I’m thankful for all the adventures I’ve had this year. My partner Oli and I have been to France, Amsterdam and Croatia this year. I have tasted amazing food, swam (okay, stood) in the clear blue sea, been on a swing that hangs off a building and went on a cable car to look over the Old Town in Dubrovnik.

I’m thankful for how my blog has grown and how hard I’ve worked on making my dream a reality. I’m proud of myself even if I know I quit things quickly. This is who I am and I’m learning to accept I can’t stand still for too long otherwise I go stir crazy.

I’m thankful for the authors, such as Alex Owumi and Lisa Williamson, who let me have such big opportunities to collab on blog posts and book tours. Without these people’s help, my blog wouldn’t have grown.

 

My Goals For 2019

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because I never stick to them. But I will create some goals for myself.

1. I’d like to work more on my blog and create more content for you guys. I’d love to get to 40,000 views next year, which is a HUGE goal for me.

2. I want to travel to as many places as possible!

3. I want to try things I’ve never done before, even if they scare me.

4. I want to build up my business and get clients!!! (SCARY)

5. I want to live more in the present than the past or future.

6. I want to save up for our own little place.

7. I would love to have a blogger’s meet up!

8. I would like to read 30 books next year.

9. I’d love to make money through my blog and collab with brands.

10. I want to take better care of my mental health and learn to accept who I’ve become.

What are your goals for the new year?

Well, I’d like to end this post with another massive thank you and I hope your 2019 is the best year yet. Keep being you and stay strong; all your hard work is going to pay off. See you in the New Year! Love, Vee x

Book Review: My Mum Tracy Beaker

This week’s post is a book review on one of my childhood favourite author’s brand new book, My Mum Tracy Beaker. We all grew up watching the TV show or reading the books, and in this latest installment, Jacqueline Wilson mixes children’s books with adult in this beautiful story about life, struggles and true family.

 

Blurb

Tracy has returned, hand in hand with her daughter Jess, she’s ready to make her childhood dreams come true.

Jess and Tracy Beaker are the perfect team. They do everything together.

Jess thinks Tracy is the best mum ever, even when she shouts at her teachers! Tracy has made the perfect home for Jess, leaving The Dumping Ground far behind her. Yes, their flat’s a bit mouldy. It’s only just big enough for two. And the Duke Estate is a bit scary. But it’s their happy home.

Until Sean Godfrey, Tracy’s rich boyfriend, whisks them away to his mansion, life of fast cars and celebrity stardom.

Will Jess’s brilliant mum turn into a new person altogether?

And will Tracy realise that her childhood dream might not be what she needs after all?

 

Review

I didn’t know I needed this book until I realised it was a thing! I loved reading Jacqueline Wilson’s books when I was younger and I watched a lot of Tracy Beaker on TV. I loved the show and the books, but was always worried about what Tracy would grow up like.

Yes, she has her issues, but Tracy is herself. And when Sean Godfrey (Football) comes into the picture, she seems to change her persona to please, because a fancy life is all that she’s ever wanted and all that she made up to tell other people. It doesn’t come as a surprise that she behaves this way and I can completely understand why she is behaving the way she is, even though Jess doesn’t. But in the end, Tracy will always be herself and stick up for her and Jess.

It’s actually a very witty book because all Tracy wants is a flash house and an amazing car and someone to pay attention to her; she is willing to be with someone who doesn’t really love her in order to give her child the life she always wanted. She thinks she’s doing what’s best for Jess when really, she is only doing what she’s doing because of her upbringing.

What I loved about this book was how I was reading it yet I didn’t feel like a child at all. I felt like it was right to be reading about Tracy and because I’m the age I am now, I feel like I can relate to both Tracy and Jess.

Wilson is extremely clever with how she writes and markets her books. I don’t by any means agree with how she spews out books every five minutes, but she writes about taboo subjects in a way that children can relate to. When I was young, I found comfort in her books about child abuse and abandonment because it’s something I could relate to. Her books gave me hope.

Now, let’s talk about character development. Tracy hasn’t changed a bit, except for the fact she has a child to care for, someone else to think about other than herself. Jess is so sweet and the complete opposite of Tracy. But my favourite character will always be Cam. She’s the loving mum in the background cheering you on, giving you the space you need to make mistakes but comforting you with open arms when it all goes wrong. I love the fact Wilson has confirmed that Cam is gay, even without mentioning it, like it’s the norm – which it should be!!

If you loved Jacqueline Wilson books when you were little, then you’ll love this book because it seems to grow with the reader. Happy reading folks!

Until next time, love, Vee x

 

Blogmas: Gifts for Readers

Hey guys! I can’t believe it’s so close to Christmas! I wanted to write a post on what to get the reader in your family. If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments!

 

Gifts for Readers

  • Bookmarks (you can never have enough)
  • Bookish candles, these can be found on Etsy
  • Bookish subscription box (you can google where to find these but popular ones include Fairyloot, Owlcrate and Once Upon a Book Club)
  • Reading light
  • Book sleeves – these can also be found on Etsy
  • Book Review notebook – I have one from Fable and Black that I can write my reviews of books in
  • Bookish pins
  • Bookish necklaces – I have a Fault in Our Stars one
  • Bookish iron-on patches
  • Bookish coasters
  • A tour of their favourite author’s house/book settings (such as Beatrix Potter’s house)
  • Prints of their favourite quotes from books/authors
  • Bookish mugs
  • A book bag – not just handy for books but also shopping
  • Literary tea bags – yes they do exist!
  • Beanbag chair. Us bookworms love our comfy spaces
  • A kindle for easy portability
I hope this list was helpful for you! Until next time. Love, Vee x

 

Book Review: Someday

Hey bookworms! This week I’ll be reviewing a recent read of mine: Someday by David Levithan. If you love wacky books about people waking up in the wrong bodies, then this one’s for you.

 

Blurb

Every day a new body. Every day a new life. Every day a new choice.

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person’s body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn’t anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to — and what it’s like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day. What is a soul? And what makes us human?

 

Review

Levithan is my favourite author, so of course I was excited about going to buy his latest installment, Someday from Waterstones Piccadilly, where he was signing. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to start it.

As always, Levithan doesn’t disappoint. Even though it wasn’t the ending I expected, it felt like a reality check. The book made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that the characters were there for me. I love when a book feels like home.

A sometimes does annoy me as a character, but ultimately, their journey is a unique one and written in such a clever way that it almost feels like a metaphor for life. We aren’t always able to find ourselves if we keep searching; we just have to go with the flow and see who we become from our experiences.

Rhiannon is someone I can relate to and I think her character is the most believable. I find her to be a really strong woman after being beaten down by her ex, Justin for ages. She has emerged stronger than ever and we see her go through this journey through all three books. She has the most character development of all.

About X… Well let’s just say he’s scary as hell! But so well written for an author who usually writes about good, kind people. He’s written in a way that we hate him, but understand him at the same time.

Overall, I wasn’t blow away as I wish it had ended differently, but I admire Levithan’s dedication to this series and hope there’s much more to come. Until next time, love, Vee x

Ways to Practice Self Care in the Winter

h1 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 20pt;} h2 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 18pt;} body {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 15pt;} Hey guys! So we all know that our mental health can go downhill in the winter months because of the nights drawing in and the cold, rainy days. This post gives you some insight on how to take care of yourself and your mental health during the winter. Self-care isn’t just about face masks, eating chocolate and buying your favourite magazine (although I sometimes do this). There’s a lot more to it! Read below for some ideas on how to practice better self-care!

Take a Bath or Shower

I personally hate having a bath because, as Chandler puts it, you are “sitting in your own filth.” And that just does not relax me. However, I absolutely love showers and when I’m feeling really low I like to take longer ones and just feel the water hitting me; it keeps me grounded when I feel like I’m floating away. If you like showers like me, why not

But if you’re a bath person, one way to practice self-care is to have a long bubble bath, buy some Lush bath bombs or read a book in the tub. Do whatever makes you feel more relaxed. Light a few candles and pamper yourself! You can even get a stand like this one so that you can read/watch TV in the tub.

Start a Bullet Journal

If you’re having trouble with figuring out how you feel or just want to document your journey, then bullet journaling is a great idea to keep your mind active and to also be creative. You could use your journal for drawings, paintings, calendars or even a mood chart. You can even download bullet journal spreadsheets and printables for inspiration.

Journals are an excellent way to keep track of your mood for your mental health and gives you a good idea of how you’re dealing with certain situations. The journal below is an example of a bullet journal (not mine). It’s not only for self-care but it’s also a great hobby to have and really lets your creativity shine through.

Declutter

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or I’m struggling, I like to sort out my wardrobe and have a clear out of things I don’t need or use. It helps clear my mind and keeps me busy. I tend to feel relieved and a little less confused after I’ve had a clear out.

Declutter your wardrobe and get rid of clothes you don’t use or items you don’t want. Winter is a great time to throw out the old for the new year ahead!

Take Up Meditation or Yoga

Meditation isn’t for everyone, but it can be a very relaxing technique to practice for your self-care. Take ten minutes to reflect, think or listen to some tapes. I used to listen to Paul Mckenna to help with my anxiety.

Yoga is also great for relaxing and releases endorphins. If you aren’t a fan of yoga, you could take up a different sport or exercise such as running or cycling. I cycle to work each morning and it really makes a difference. Make it a routine – whether you get out of bed and do the sun salutation each morning or go for a run after work in the evening.

Read

Have you got a favourite book? One that you’ve read over and over again? On days where you need a bit of TLC, why not read your favourite book or pick up a new read, maybe even a winter one to take your mind off things?

If reading isn’t for you, then why not watch your favourite movie? My favourite is Bridget Jones and I always watch it when I need cheering up. You could watch a Christmas movie to get you into the spirit.

Go Shopping

If the cold is getting you down, then maybe you should go out for a coffee date with yourself to try a new spiced latte or hot chocolate. You can learn to be in your own company and try something new at the same time. It’s good to be by yourself sometimes and to treat yourself to something new, whether you’re buying new clothes for the season or something simple such as a face mask, some chocolate or a hot drink.

Make a Quotes Jar

If you’re feeling down, why not ask your friends, family or online friends if they would send you a positive quote, compliment or note for you to write down on a piece of paper and keep. You can create a jar of positivity and look at these words whenever you feel down.

Alternately, create your own quotes or happy memories and read one to yourself every day to keep a positive mind.

I hope this post has given you some self-care ideas! Until next time, love, Vee x

The Man In Forest Hills Book Tour With Alex Owumi

h1 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 20pt;} h2 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 18pt;} body {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 15pt;} This week’s post is a book tour of Alex Owumi’s latest release, The Man In Forest Hills. We’re so excited to read this one! I have asked Alex a few questions about his book and his writing so read on to find out more!

The Man In Forest Hills Blurb

Being a detective in the city of Boston is no easy task, and with the crime rate sky high, law enforcement is the only hope of getting things back in order. One of the best detectives in the state is Thomas Kent, a hard-nosed, by the book type, who doesn’t bend the rules for anyone. With the help of his department, he has taken down some of the biggest criminals in the city, and has also made a lot of enemies as well. For years he has battled with the biggest drug kingpin in the city, Cecil Chambers. Chambers has been corrupting the streets for more than twenty years. Detective Kent and his partner, Darren Harper, have finally caught a break to bring down Chambers and his infamous crew once and for all.

But the week Cecil Chambers gets behind bars is when it all takes an unexpected turn. Detective Kent wakes up in a hospital with bandages all over his body and no recollection of what has happened to him. He finds out that his wife and only son have been killed, so he immediately starts to look for answers. When he finds out who is involved, he realizes the answers he needs are not too far away. He comes to the reality that in order for him to get answers he can’t approach this as a detective. At the end of it all, Thomas Kent goes from a man who unapologetically honors the shield to a man who knows revenge is the only way.

You can get the UK book here.
You can get the US book here.

Questions With Alex Owumi

1. Was writing The Man In Forest Hills more challenging than writing any other of your books?

Writing this new book was very challenging because it takes place in my hometown of Boston. I had to develop characters that represent the city and sometimes it was difficult.

2. What made you come up with the story line?

The story line was an idea I had back in 2012 and finally decided to start writing in 2017. I knew I wanted characters that were very exciting and mysterious at the same time.

3. Is there going to be a sequel or is it a stand alone?

This book is the first of a new series called ‘Metro Crimes.’ It will be a series of books based in the city of Boston and the surrounding areas.

4. What book did you enjoy writing the most? And out of all of your characters, who do you like the most?

I love all the books I write but this new one is one I am excited about. I love the challenge that was ahead of me and the protagonist who’s name is Tom Kent is an amazing character.

5. What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer? And the most rewarding aspect?

The most challenging aspect of being a writer is literally developing characters from scratch. It is extremely difficult but when you’ve found your groove the sky is the limit. Seeing readers appreciate your book is the most rewarding thing for me. I love my fans and supporters and love writing stories for them.

I hope you enjoy reading Alex’s books! Until next time, love, Vee x

My Day At Penguin Random House Jobhack

h1 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 20pt;} h2 {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 18pt;} body {font-family: times new roman; font-size: 15pt;} Hi guys! This week’s blog post is a little different and is about my experience at Penguin Random House Jobhack day.

My Experience

If you don’t know what Penguin’s Jobhack is, it’s a day full of workshops such as editorials, marketing and publicity and people who work in the industry tell everyone a bit about their job and how they got into publishing. It’s a great way to network, meet other people and learn more about how to apply for a job at Penguin.

I applied for the Jobhack in Leicester and had to get up at half five in the morning to get there. Even though I ran a lot of the way and was a tad late because of the trains, they waited for me and got started. First of all, we played human bingo, a game to find out more about each other. As soon as I sat down, everyone said hello and they were all so welcoming.

After human bingo, we had a few people talk to us about their jobs and what they do in a day. My favourite was when Becky Miller, an editor for Penguin, talked about her experience getting into publishing and what she does in a day. She made sure she told us all that there’s no one way to get into publishing and you absolutely do not need a degree. She told us about her usual day and helped us with a workshop in editorial to give us a taste of what it’s like to be in her shoes.

We also had Isabel from Marketing and Publicity who gave us a task of marketing a book which I found really exciting. And after lunch we had a talk on CVs and how we can make our cover letters stand out better (needless to say I applied for a lot of jobs when I got home).

The most fun aspects of the day were meeting new people and asking questions. It was great to meet Rebecca, an audio editorial assistant who told us about her work and set us an audio task. Near the end of the day they gave us time to ask questions and they called this “speed networking” and we all got a chance to ask editors, producers and recruiters, questions about publishing.

Another fun part of the day was when we got to choose books we wanted to take home with us and some people won prizes. We also received a notebook, Penguin tote (yes I got red, I’m very lucky) and a bookmark.

I’m so thankful that I heard about this day and that I went because I met amazing people and I feel more inspired than ever that I’m going to break my way into publishing. Thank you to Penguin for this great day!

If you feel like you’ll never get into publishing, then I think this day is perfect for you. It will help lift your spirits and you get to ask as many questions as you have about the industry. Don’t give up!

Until next time, love, Vee x